A Blood Child- 1874
William Herondale scoffed at Charlotte as she fussed and nagged him to be more careful. What did it mean to her if he hurt himself? He was already well into his thirteens. He could take care of himself, and even if he couldn't, Jem always looked out for him. He didn't need or want Charlotte's hawk-like gaze stuck on him- especially since that could lead to affection. And that wouldn't end well for anyone.
"Be careful!" Charlotte hissed quietly, "This land seems to be crawling with guards and goons. I assume all this security has supernatural abilities, and with the overwhelming numbers, we don't want to make our presence known. Will, are you hearing to me?"
"Loud and clear, Charlotte" Will drawled sarcastically, "I wish I couldn't, but life is hardly ever so kind." He glanced around him, melting into the dark scenery as two burly-looking men passed by with fancy rifles in their hands.
"Where are we, anyway, Charlotte?" Will asked, a drawl of boredom in his tone already. Charlotte, slightly miffed by his disrespect, replied in a clipped voice, "Ravenselven, Scotland. Rather large country. A minor sovereign, but they take their royalty quite seriously, as they are not, oddly enough, under the rule of Queen Victoria."
"How enthralling" Will muttered sarcastically with a smirk. Charlotte glared at Will fiercely, "Oh hush, you stubborn child. This is a very fascinating place, and we're on quite the unique mission. I hardly think the mystique of this isn't gratifying for even you, Will Herondale" she said with aggravation clear in her voice.
Will could argue that- but he wouldn't. The circumstances were strange enough to silence even him. He thought back to it, over a week back, when Charlotte, Henry, and he first went to see the Seelie Queen.
"Ah, Nephilim, I am delighted by the urgency at which you arrived at my summons" the Seelie Queen said sweetly, as Henry Branwell, Charlotte Branwell (née Fairchild), and William Herondale were escorted into her chambers.
"Well how could we refuse your humble invitation?" Charlotte asked, with a calm tone, and an unreadable face. However, only those who had spent a long time watching Charlotte intently would notice the small pulse of a vein in her neck as she strained to remain with impeccable, distant manners
"My lady, it is an honor" Will said, a calculated, charming smile plastered on his face, one you wouldn't even know was fake. "I am William Herondale, of the London Institute as well, and it is a delight to find myself in the enchanting presence of the ruler of the fey."
The Seelie Queen smiled, a cold, appreciative smile, as she did adore the praise. She remotely even enjoyed the small boy's presence, though it seemed he was irrelevant. She set her sights on Charlotte. "Well, I have some matters of the utmost importance, and intimate confidentiality, to discuss with you. Do come closer. I have sealed this room from any of my curious, nosier subjects, but a bit of caution would certainly ease my mind. Arrogant certainty can mean destruction."
The trio approached, the young couple hesitant, and the younger boy eager now. He was certainly glad he managed to convince Charlotte that he was of proper age and training to come. He convinced her it could be a "learning experience." But he was truly just curious about what the Seelie Queen could possibly want of the Nephilim. She hardly ever made a peep, and then suddenly she was requesting the presence of the Head of the London Institute.
"I have a bit of a... complication. I require a stolen object of value returned to me. It is to be a covert mission, a rescue if you will, and none of my subjects can know of this. It has the highest of dark security, so be on alert. Though, you aren't to cause any bloodshed, as it could result badly for you. You shouldn't be caught at all, or it could become a catastrophe. If you return my precious to me, I will owe you the highest debt of gratitude. I simply request secrecy, even from your Clave, and I need it returned as soon as possible. I fear grave consequences if you take more than a week now."
Charlotte remained steely, unwavering in her firm stance of confidence. William kept his cool indifference, but found himself wishing Jem could have accompanied them to this secret meeting, but alas, he was quite unwell that night. He was too weak to of any help to anyone, even himself. He even wished Jessamine was there, but she despised the whole venture, and would only be a hindrance.
"I suppose... my Institute could be of aid to your dilemma. I will immediately send a team of only a few fine, trusted Shadowhunters to accompany us on our journey, all of age of course-" Charlotte started reasonably.
"No." the Seelie Queen rejected immediately, a look of icy contempt on her face, "Absolutely not. A mission with only two. Yourself, Mrs. Branwell, of course. And..." Her eyes caught Will's.
"Of what age are you, boy?" The Seelie Queen asked, her eyes flashing as a sickly smile spread across her fair, elegant face. She had the most remarkable eyes, a deep, bright turquoise unlike that of any human, with no eye structure at all but simply pure luminescence, and glowing scarlet hair, that flowed like a flower and fell behind her pointy ears, as this Queen kept her hair most informally down. Her face sparkled and gleamed oddly, as did her thin, fine wings, with spidery silver lines like veins spreading throughout, as soft as a rose but as powerful & strong as tusks, the color of silver pearls with light tones of all the color spectrum.
But she still disturbed the trio deeply.
That didn't stop Will, though. He held his chin up high as he said stiffly, "Well past 13, Your Highness." The Seelie Queen looked pleased, as her bloodred lips spread into a sinister smile.
"Wonderful" she said with her same, simultaneously enchanting and disturbing, smile, "Then you shall accompany Mrs. Branwell on this mission." Charlotte's head shot straight up, caught like a deer in torch lights.
She looked as if a pail of freezing water had been dropped upon her. "What!?" she squeaked, forgetting herself, "Absolutely not! It is far too dangerous for the company of a child as his-self! He cannot be allowed to venture on such an crucial mission!"
"But he can, and he shall," the Seelie Queen's eyes were blazing, dangerous and amused and agitated. "He seems fully capable to me, interested, and he is of age," she replied stiffly and pointedly.
"He is not!" Charlotte cried, "He is not of age! Adulthood is reached at 18, and yet, he is only 13!"
"He is of age to partake in this mission. My request, mine own age limits are made. Special precautions must be taken, Charlotte Branwell, I expect you to fully understand and accept this," The Seelie Queen ordered firmly, keeping her cool, but her eyes showed her merciless fury boiling beneath, "You understand this is a most peculiar case."
"My Lady-" Charlotte started reasonably, her hands spread upward as a show of understanding and reason.
"No. I have made my decision, and you will have to honor it, Charlotte Branwell," The Seelie Queen snapped, her eyes ablaze and crackling with blue electricity of rage, "You'll soon come to find that I have made the wisest decision possible in this situation, all things considered in your Institute and William Herondale. Perhaps James Carstairs would be play as a more befitting pawn, but alas, the young boy wouldn't be able to sustain such a trip, I don't believe."
Charlotte was taken aback, and William felt as if he'd just been slapped at the mention of Jem. "How did you..." Charlotte wondered aloud in fearful awe, "How did you know about Jem?" she whispered.
"Careful, Charlotte dear," The Seelie Queen advised with amusement, a twisted smile on her face, "Your conduct is slipping."
Charlotte straightened immediately, her head held high as she said coolly through clenched teeth, her jaw tight, "So where shall this journey take us?"
The Seelie Queen rose with a small flutter of her silver wings, and pulled out a sealed parchment scroll from her grand silk robes. "I expect this delivered once my precious is secured. You will know what to do with it," she instructed softly, handing the elegant scroll to Charlotte with firm meaning. Will couldn't help but admire the wax seal of the fey, made of wings that mirrored those of the Queen. "And your journey will commence immediately, on a ship by the Blackfriars Bridge, all the way to the countryside of Ravenselven, Scotland."
"Now where do we head?" Will asked impatiently, snapping out of his silent comatose, "What about the traveling instructions you were given, Charlotte?" She gestured to him, slinking across a path of marble in the middle of a dark garden Labyrinthine of what appeared to be a grand estate, crawling with guardsmen.
Will could see why the Seelie Queen wanted them to be discreet and undetected, as the "enemy" seemed particularly rich and powerful. But he couldn't see why someone with clear filthy wealth and resources would need to steal something from the Seelie Queen.Mundanes with this kind of wealth found ways to buy their own supernatural ways, without the need to steal.
"Well, it leads me down a hallway, and then apparently a loud noise will emit from the room in which the object is located," Charlotte said, blinking, "Or so my decreed 'instructions' say."
"Well, I don't know about you, but find riddles from the fey tedious, and annoyingly typical" Will drawled, frustrated. Charlotte flashed him a weary look, and replied coldly, "It doesn't really matter, now does it, Will? We had better get a move on. We're almost a day late."
Will rolled his eyes, "Of course you would be so particular about punctuality, Charlotte. I'm sure it'll be fine," he drawled. He nevertheless followed close behind Charlotte as they scaled the wall and crawled through the window into the designated hallway.
The hallway was lined with wall carpeting, red velvet with elegant stripes and designs. As soon as they dropped down onto the mahogany floors, tripping on the carpet, they heard the noise. The sound-proof windows before had decreased the noise to a small buzzing, but now, nothing could distinguish the horrible noise.
It was wailing. A terrible, terrible screaming of despair. It seemed to be coming from a small child. It frightened even him. It was as if someone took his feelings the dark morning when they found Ella dead because of his curse, and screamed it out like he never did, but probably should have.
"I'm going to scout the area and secure the perimeter" Charlotte said, warning him with pointed eyes,"Perhaps you should go ahead and check what that horrific noise is. Perhaps try to acquire the object? But if there is trouble, stall until I rejoin you. Don't make any stupid mistakes, Will."
"Why- Charlotte!" Will gasped, looking offended, "I strenuously object to that accusation. Nothing I do is ever a mistake, no matter how obtuse or foolish you may think it, I am offended that you think I could ever do something that less than meets my above-average standard of perfection!" Charlotte gave him a withering look, and sauntered off, tugging her skirts up as she walked at fast pace.
Will turned on his heel, and hurried off towards the door as fast as he could. He couldn't help but empathize with whatever made that scream. He barged through a tall door covered in scratches and an odd-looking substance he couldn't identify. A small girl looked up from where she crouched in the middle of the room with a loud, audible gasp.
The room was a disaster- turquoise coloring all throughout the bedroom, curtain and carpeting of what looked like was priorly made of lace and silk. Disturbingly- everything in the room was torn to shreds, to tiny, tiny pieces. Dirt and disaster everywhere- but even worse, dried blood was splattered all over.
And right in the middle, a very tiny, thin, frail-looking girl crouched, rocking back and forth softly while sobbing and wailing and twitching like a wild animal. She was wearing a silk periwinkle dress that matched her eyes as clear as glass in the darkness, torn to rags and soaked entirely in her blood. Her back was splayed from her dress ripped right down from the seams, and her displayed backside shredded to bloody ribbons by some sort of torture devices. Her entire back was crusted with blood- and even though her dress was torn all the way down to the skirts, still fully intact, there was still something covering her back in some sort of huge, bloody pulp, but Will couldn't tell what it was. She had glowing red hair, the same color as the crusted, scarlet blood, so long it reached her hips, chopped off in random handfuls, torn out and cut off all around her, with dirty periwinkle ribbons in it, choppy where her hair was cut off.
She looked up at Will in frightened surprise, ceasing her sobbing temporarily. She gasped when she realized that it was Will- a stranger- and not someone she recognized, but somehow, she didn't look terrified anymore, but more startled than anything.
Will just stood staring at her for a few moments, before opening his mouth to say something to her, anything. He wanted to reassure her that he meant her no harm, that he and Charlotte would help her, that he was a good guy, and there was no reason to be afraid of him. He wanted to reassure this small strange girl, with tear tracks running across her dirt-covered face and the tips of her ears bleeding hard on the tips where it looked like someone sawed on them with a cheese grater (funnily enough, in the pile of sharp, silver instruments of torture and possibly cooking beside her, there did lie a bloodied cheese grater.)
But she beat him to it. She narrowed her eyes, and picked up a large butcher's knife at her feet, gleaming in the dim darkness. She leaped to her feet, wielding her knife as a weapon, pointing it at Will's chest with only a few feet between them. She growled at him ferociously in a language and accent he didn't understand, "Fa th' heel ur ye an' whit ur ye daein' haur?!*"
He blinked, confused for a moment, before it hit him. They were in Scotland- and it sounded like this girl was speaking Scots. But it didn't really compute in his brain, as he tried to figure out what she was saying and replied in English, "Excuse me? Are you threatening me? Hard to tell with your gibberish, but if you are, might I say I have to say that's quite rude manners to show to your knight in shining armor, girl."
She blinked at him looking baffled for a moment, and stepped closer daringly, with the large knife pointed right at his heart, her hand not even shaking the least bit. She growled, her clear, light blue eyes glowing in the dark, flashing even brighter in anger, "Oi, English arenae ye? I'll show ye rude manners when I stab ye through the heart. Yer aff yer heid* if ye I need saving from the likes of you!" Will paused, taken aback by her ability to speak English- well, close enough to English, at least.
Will blinked, utterly confused and uncomfortable with a steady knife pointed so close to him- and he couldn't really whip out his seraph blade on this poor, insolent little girl. It was against the Accords to commit violence against foolish, wounded, weak mundanes that are unable to protect themselves- although, he did start to get the feeling he was in a bit of a fix with that little girl sneering at him and looking so vicious and bloodthirsty. "Alright, I got most of that since you can apparently speak English," he spoke pointedly, looking her up and down, quite confused by her savagery. "Well, not technically- I broke in to steal something- but let's not get caught up in specifics."
Her eyes narrowed further, and she pressed the knife up against his chest, pushing against his Shadowhunter gear. She snarled at him, her accent thick, even more confusingly than before, "Oh, you're very English, arenae ye? So ye think a thieving little Englishman can steal from me? Ha! You're in for a rude awakening, mate."
He rolled his eyes at her, acting bored. "Alright, this whole Hot-Tempered Ginger thing is getting tedious," he drawled, annoyed with pretending to be at her mercy. In a blur of motion, he stepped back from the knife and knocked it out of her hands with a swift, well-placed kick to her wrist. She yanked her hand back, and he smirked at her dazed expression, until he noticed the sores leading from the back of her hand to her shoulder, and it slipped off his face.
She whirled on him, completely out of her daze, and stomped right up to him with one finger pointed accusingly at him, "Hot-Tempered Ginger?!" she demanded, furious as she poked him hard in the chest, "You're barking mad, ye damn Numptie!* You barge into here, admit to tryin' to rob me blind, and have the goonies* to insult me as ye kidnap me? Who do ye think ye are!?"
Will barely recognized the few scottish words like "Goonies" and "Numptie." He was getting annoyed with this arrogant little mundane. "I'm not here to kidnap you, you ridiculous ninny!" he yelled right back, "I'm here to recover a stolen item! And if you weren't such a little brat, I'd save you as well!" He paused for a beat before adding, "And doesn't goonie mean nightgown?"
She ignored his question, snorted, and rolled her eyes- she was quite unladylike. She scoffed at Will, taunting him, "Ha! Like I need help from a skinny little sissy like yerself!" she narrowed her eyes at him, getting more intense as she stepped forward, "Ye will not steal a goddamn thing from me, ya hear? And I haven' taken a thing- you can see yerself, I haven't a thing worth stealing fer!- and I don' need this from everything right now, Eejit.* I have had enuff of... absolutely... everythin'!" She suddenly broke down crying, clawing at her back.
Will was alarmed by this small girl's odd sudden emotional outburst. Somehow, her sobbing and crying reminded him of when he left his parents, and when he was begging Charlotte to send them away. He wondered if this girl would always remind him of that time.
"Umm..." he started uncomfortably, squirming, unsure of how to comfort her, "What is wrong? I mean, what is... what is everything?" he asked, nervous and scared of her answer. She looked up at him, with her glowing blue eyes full of a burden that seemed unhealthy for a small child.
"You're strange," she blurted out all of a sudden, looking him over observantly, "There is somethin' off about ye. I can tell, because I am livin' it myself. People like us, we're just a wee bit off. Ye know what I mean?" she whispered the last part, looking between his eyes nervously. It's like something just switched in her, one minute she was arrogant and annoyed with this boy breaking into her prison and offering to both steal from her and save her from whatever is being done to her, and the next minute she was whispering to him about sharing a connection with him. The fact that she just danced between these two natures disturbed Will more than anything else she had done yet... except, perhaps, the excessive bleeding all over the room. That was quite unsettling.
There was definitely something off about her, the way she just changed, as if she had two natures fighting for dominance inside her. She just switched. It was startling and intriguing and frightening to Will.
Nevertheless, no matter what he was feeling, he grabbed her by her shoulders and whispered kindly right back to the bloody, Scottish girl with urgency, "What's off about you? What is it? You can tell me, I won't tell a soul." She hesitated, but opened her small mouth to speak, when suddenly the door flew open again, and Charlotte appeared.
The girl's eyes were about as wide as oranges suddenly, far wider than any Will had ever seen, or seemed possible. "Who- do I know ye?" she asked Charlotte, eyeing her skeptically, but not particularly fearfully. Charlotte blinked at her, surprised, and seemed to stare back at her as if she was familiar.
"I'm sorry to um, break in like this, but we are here to search for an item of value that was perhaps stolen of...supernatural.. properties" Charlotte said, looking quite puzzled, "I mean, the noise did come from this room, didn't it, Will?" She cast a confused glance towards Will.
"Is everything alright?" Charlotte said all of a sudden before Will could answer, realizing with a pang how bloodied and injured this girl was. Charlotte ran over to her, crouching down in front of her as she looked over her wounds. "What happened, sweetie? How did you get like this? Who did this to you?" Charlotte demanded frantically, fussing about over the girl.
"Ah, erm, I don't- I don't know what ye are goin' on about-?" the girl said nervously, "but I was just having a minor mental breakdown in here, nothing for ye to worry yerself over. Ye ought to be worryin' over the fact ye two are going to jail fer trespassing." She stepped back away from Charlotte, all of a sudden angry at them for breaking into her prison.
"Well-!" Charlotte started again, looking unsure of herself for once.
"Do you believe in magic?" Will asked, with cold amusement, looking the girl over again with watchful eyes. She looked startled by how he spoke, so coldly all of a sudden, unlike the warmth he had showed her before.
"I- I s'pose I do" she said slowly, realization dawning on her face, a flicker of recognition shown on face, "I really do. I know-" she gasped suddenly, jumping back from them, pointing accusingly at them.
"Is that what this is about?!" She demanded, all of a sudden worried, the color draining from her face, "Do ye- do ye two know? About me? And-And-" she burst out crying once more, her knees crumbling out from beneath her.
Charlotte was bewildered by her mad behavior- she'd never seen anything like it in the fearless, tough-as-nails Shadowhunter children she grew up among. "No! No, dear, no! We do not know who you are, darling, you needn't be frightened!" she consoled her, "I'm not- I'm not entirely sure what you mean, though. What is wrong, dear?"
"Who are ye?" she blurts out all of the sudden, "Who are ye, and what are ye and what are ye lookin' fer and what am I?" she demanded, her voice going higher in panic.
"Ugh, Charlotte, we don't have time for this brat! We have a real mission to get to, instead of dealing with this child!" William snapped in irritation, and there was a flash of hurt on the girl's face, but her face immediately hardened to an unreadable expression.
"Hold on there, William.." Charlotte said, half-distracted, with a thoughtful look on her face and a wave of her hand. She was scrutinizing the little girl with a calculated, curious look. "I think we may have found what we're looking for."
"Huh?" William was thoroughly confused.
"Little girl," Charlotte coaxed the frightened little girl, crouching down to her tiny height. "We are Shadowhunters, a race of warrior Nephilim, spawn from the blood of the angel Raziel. We have great powers to kill demons that come into this world, and stray killer werewolves, vampires, warlocks, and faeries. We have greater strength and agility, powerful weapons, and runes drawn upon our skin that carry and provide magical properties to empower us. Do you think you could believe me?"
Will was rather scandalized, "Charlotte! You can not simply go around blathering the truth of the Nephilim and the Enclave to little mundane girls!" he declared indignantly, completely surprised by Charlotte's out-of-character carelessness.
"Hush now, Will!"
"I- I- I- I- I- I- I-" she stuttered, her eyes wider than possibly natural, looking as if things were finally starting to make sense, "I believe ye. I do! It is the only thing that makes sense!" she burst out, her glowing blue eyes in the darkness glassy and innocent.
Charlotte seemed very obviously shocked- she hadn't expected it to be so easy. "Well, wonderful!" she said, surprised and relieved, "Then you ought to come back with us, to London, where you'll-"
She was cut off as the little girl burst out all of a sudden, a shriek of desperation, "Turn around!" Charlotte and Will were baffled by her odd request.
"What?" William snapped with forced irritation to cover his curiosity.
"Turn around!" she demanded, her voice shrill and desperate, "Show me yer backs! Now!" she ordered fiercely, grabbing up a knife and pointing it at them. They were Shadowhunters, trained warriors since birth to never cower from a fight in honor and strength, but the way she commanded them, not only with desperation but with fire and nerve- it made even Will listen. They hesitated, but did turn around, their backs towards her.
She let out a shuddered breath, a sharp intake of breath. "N-No..." she whispered quietly, her voice turning shocked and incredibly crestfallen, "No! Ye are not-! Ye don't-! Have... You are not like me." Her voice was clearer, her accent understandable for once. She said every word with incredible care, like every word had to be handled carefully as it was a stab in her chest. Her voice dropped to a disappointed whisper.
"What- no, listen to me," Charlotte tried desperately to calm the heartbroken little girl. "Listen! You have to listen- Oh!" a light bulb flashed above her head, and she reached into her gear and pulled out the sealed letter from the Seelie Queen.
"I believe.." Charlotte said slowly to the girl, kneeling before her, "this is for you." She held it out to the little girl, a bit unsure of how she would react.
She looked at it in wonder, carefully running her fingers across it in fascination, before delicately pulling it out of Charlotte's hands. She fumbled softly at the seal before pulling it out of the envelope, reading it with a closed-off face.
Her face crumpled like a piece of paper. She folded it after a moment, her fingers trembling, but she held it together. She looked up at Charlotte with an unreadable expression, hardened in a way that Will sought to be hardened.
"I am Nephilim" she said in a trembling voice, without accent or emotion, held proud despite her obviously emotional blow, she held a steady gaze with Charlotte. "I have no certainty of what this means, what it entails, but I know it's the truth. I have a letter affirming this, and I know now I have a right to stay with ye and be cared fer as yer own."
"What? Nephilim?!" Charlotte and Will squeaked simultaneously, moving to read the letter, but in a blaze of movement, the girl shoved the creased letter in her sock to keep them from reading it, a clear sign of her Shadowhunter speed.
"It is my own bus'ness what this says," she said fiercely, narrowing her eyes at them, "I have all the proof I need." In a flash that once again took them off-guard, she plucked the stele out of Charlotte's holster and pressed it against her own skin.
Her skin burned beneath the stele, turning bright red and sizzling like Charlotte had never seen before. She let out a squeak of pain, louder than any other Charlotte ever heard a minor squeal from being runed. Her eyes were prickled with tears, as she bit down on her lip so hard she drew blood. But nevertheless, she didn't waver, she didn't back down. She got her proof.
"Are you alright!?" William rushed towards the girl with worry, panicked, his eyes widened fearfully. Charlotte looked between them in shock and surprise- she had never seen such a severe reaction to being runed and she'd never seen Will care about someone like that, except perhaps Jem.
"I'm- fine-" she choked out, gasping for air as tears spilled down her cheeks once again, and she wiped them away hastily, "But I am not dead, eh? So at least I have proved I am Nephilim."
And it was true- any other species and she would have lit up like the Fourth of July. William was astonished and still rather unsure, but Charlotte was confident. She could tell. If not by her skin's ability to bear runes but by the way she held herself, with grace and valor, a true, innate Shadowhunter quality.
"Wonderful. It seems you are what the Seelie Queen- the ruler of the fey, that is- wanted, but I can't tell you why. I haven't the slightest inclination-" Charlotte tried to explain to her.
"I know" the little girl interrupted quickly, her hand twitching towards the letter that she had jammed in her sock. "The letter explains everything. I- I can tell ye, but.. but not now. Here is not the place."
"Alright, well, we should get going then," Will said, looking out the window with a mixed expression, "because I think her screaming alerted the guards. Odd though, because that's all she's been doing. I guess the silence kind of threw 'em off, eh?"
"Oh my!" Charlotte cried, whipping out a seraph blade.
"Wait!" the little girl reached out and gripped Charlotte's arm frantically, her cracked fingernails digging into her arms, "I don' even know yer names."
Will turned back, cool and smooth as he tossed his head back to look at her with a neutral, uncaring gaze. "I am William Herondale" he said calmly, as if nothing that had transpired in the time that they had known her was the least bit out of the ordinary, "and this is Charlotte Branwell, clearly. We've just about said our names a dozen times, had you had the courtesy to listen, Miss....?"
"Fairchild" the little girl said nonchalantly but completely clearly, "That's my blood father's last name, according to the letter. I doubt ye have ever heard of my father though, Matthew Fairchild- he ran away from the Nephilim years ago without a trace. But I guess ye may call me Raven Fairchild now."