Brave New World

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All The Creatures Under The Sun (or at Least the Ones that Matter)

March 12, 2000

“Okay, Reyna. Today’s going to have to be a short lesson. I’ve got a meeting with the other Council members in about an hour and while I’m gone I expect you to read up on your other subjects. All right then,” Dunstan began as he picked up the piece of chalk again and underlined the word ‘Vampire’. They were back in Dunstan’s living room with everything pressed to the side except for the desk and black board.

“Vampires are very interesting. They’re like bees, see? They’re like one big hive. You have the queen,” he drew a crown on the board, “who sired Vampires, who in turn sired more Vampires.” He drew circles beneath the crown with lines connecting them, and then more circles beneath the first row.

“The first Vampire, Lilith, really isn’t that old. At least, not when compared to the Fairy queens. I want to say she was born around two-hundred, maybe two-fifty, A.D. Anyway, you were right about them not being able to come into direct contact with sunlight, and a wooden stake to the heart will do them in quite nicely. But the movies like to exaggerate. They can, in fact, show up in mirrors. Uh, garlic won’t burn them but sometimes they get an allergic reaction, but a few plants do that, some more strongly than others. Vervain is a great plant to use against them—burns like a bi—like something fierce.” Dunstan coughed.

“Holy water and crosses do nothing, which can be pretty funny to watch. The most important thing to know, though, is that if Lilith dies then they all do. Another thing they have in common with bees.” As Dunstan spoke, he used the eraser to wipe out the chain of circles he’d drawn in one fellow swoop.

Reyna began to swing her feet back and forth as she asked, “How do you know?”

Dunstan looked at her blankly, “Know what?”

“Know that they’ll all die if she does? She’s never died, has she?”

“Well, no, she hasn’t. I guess it could be a rumor that Lilith started to ensure her survival, but no one’s willing to test out the theory, either.”

“Why hasn’t anyone killed her yet? I thought humans hated Vampires. That’s what all the shows say, anyway.”

“Some have tried, my dear. But not for at least a century. Lilith is extremely powerful. Vampires in general are stronger and faster than the average human, and she’s stronger and faster than her children. She’s also a great ally to have, since she can create an army with a moment’s notice. We meet once a month, actually. To talk politics and the like.”

Reyna hummed thoughtfully at his answer. Secretly she hoped one day he’d take her with him to meet Lilith. She’d have a thousand questions for the Undead Queen. Looking down at her notebook, the young girl added a few doodled of bees next to a large ‘L’ and told herself to write down her questions after Dunstan left so she wouldn’t forget them.

Dunstan cleared his throat to gain Reyna’s attention. “Next on our list are the Fairies. Now they’re a temperamental bunch if there ever was one. Thankfully they mostly stay away from major cities like ours because of all the iron. They’re allergic to it and it can burn their skin in one second flat. It makes a very unpleasant smell.” He paused and Reyna drew smelly wave lines next to a doodle that resembled Tinkerbell from Peter Pan.

“They have two factions—ah, groups,” he changed when he saw Reyna about to ask what factions meant, “Called the Seelie and Unseelie Court. Both courts have queens and they claim to be as old as the Earth itself, though I doubt it. They can do magic just like we can, which makes them very dangerous to humans. It’s a different sort of magic, though, ahh . . .” he looked up at the ceiling, stroked his beard for a few seconds, before snapping his fingers and pointing at his ward. “You know how there’s different T.V. channels, but they all do basically the same thing?” He asked.

Nodding surely, Reyna drew a T.V and a remote in her notes. “It’s like that, their sort of magic is on a different channel than ours. It’s just as powerful as ours, too. Just as dangerous. The only major weakness Fairies have is their name. Once you know their real name then that’s it, game over. You’re pretty much in control of their lives.”

Reyna had about a dozen questions running through her head just on that last remark alone, but held her tongue. Dunstan wouldn’t appreciate her questions, and he’d yell at her again if they couldn’t finish their lesson on time because of it. She’d just have to figure the answers out herself.

“On to our last category: Devils.” Reyna turned a page in her notes and drew a little stick figure with horns, a pitchfork, and a pointed tail. Smiling proudly at her drawing, the young girl stared at it until Dunstan’s annoyed sigh caught her attention.

“Devils live in a separate plain from our own. Usually they’re content to stay in their own realm, only coming to ours if they’re summoned. A few though like to get their rocks off and cause chaos as often as they can. Payment for bringing them over is usually a human soul, unless otherwise decided, and if the person who brought them over isn’t careful, it’ll be their soul the Devil takes.

“Now Reyna, I call what they take a soul, but I guess a more accurate term would be to call it a life source. Religion has determined that these are the Demons of old, who will take you into Hell and torture you for eternity. It all got a bit muddled during the dark ages, really. My point is, we don’t know if humans have things called souls, we don’t know if there’s a Hell, and we don’t know if there’s an all mighty God. Even magic can’t tell us that for sure. And don’t even get me started on the philosophical debates on whether or not non-human creatures have souls, because that is an argument for another day.” Dunstan laughed to himself, but it died off when he saw Reyna staring blankly at him, “Or maybe for another several years.”

Checking his wrist watch, Dunstan nodded to himself before asking, “Any questions?” Reyna’s eyes sparked up with excitement and she began to flip back through her notes, intending on bombarding him with an avalanche worth of questions. She drew in a large lung full of breath, but before she could even ask the first questions her teacher cut her off. “Okay, I don’t think I have time for the amount of questions you’ve got weighing on your tongue. Why don’t you look through the books I’ve given you—pay extra attention to the chapter on the Fairy Realm—and if you still have questions we can move from there.”

“All right . . .” The young girl muttered underneath her breath, feeling a bit put out. “Wait! Just one question!” She begged.

Dunstan sighed as he wiped down the board, “What?”

“When will you teach me about other creatures?”

“Other creatures?”

“Yeah! Like Werewolves, and Goblins, and Dwarves, and Elves!” She was bouncing in her seat now. Reyna couldn’t wait until she learned about all the different types of creatures that roamed the Earth. Especially Elves.

“Oh, we won’t go into those creatures too much. None of them are all that important in the grand scheme of things. There’s a chapter in your book on each of them. You’ll learn about them in there.” He brushed off, already staring at his watch again.

“Oh,” Reyna mumbled. Her books were fun. They had a lot of information on magic and that sort of thing, but Dunstan’s lessons on the three queens and the Devils had been much more fun than anything she’d read thus far.

“Now don’t forget to read the chapters in both the books about creatures and summoning spells. And make sure you start on those Chemistry and Biology for Kid’s books I got for you. We’ll eventually be practicing with the human heart, lungs and throat, and you need to know as much as you can about those areas.”

Dunstan walked in and out of the living room as he spoke to her, grabbing things like his jacket and wallet. He patted himself down from breast to hip, making sure he had everything he’d need. “I don’t know how long this meeting will take. It depends on the subject matter. You remember how to use the microwave, right? I’ve left a lunch and dinner meal in the fridge, covered in tin foil. The lunch has a one written on it and the dinner has a two. Don’t forget to take the tin foil off before you put it in the microwave. If you practice some magic later and break something let me know, okay? I’ve left the number of where I’ll be by the phone if you need me. Which you shouldn’t, but it’s there if you need it.”

Reyna waited for him to stop rambling before answering him with a loud “Yup!” making sure to put extra emphasis on the ‘P’.

Dunstan patted himself down one more time before heading out. The door had almost shut behind him when he stuck his head back in and yelled, “And do not open the door for anyone! Even me because I’ve got a key! And no trying to use the bath without me around, all right?”

“’Kay!” She yelled back, still sitting at her desk. Reyna blew out some air through her barely open mouth, laughing at herself when it made a funny noise. Looking at the green digital numbers on the V.C.R, Reyna saw that it was barely 11:30 in the morning. Humming, she played around with the chalk board for a few minutes; moving it back and forth on its wheels without moving from her desk.

When that lost its appeal, Reyna decided to climb the stairs and go into her bedroom. It’d been less than a week since Dunstan took her in as his ward and so the room was still pretty bare. Her bed had no fancy frame and was pushed to the far corner of the room. It currently had plain yellow sheets, but Dunstan had given her an Ikea magazine yesterday and told her to put post it notes on the room designs she liked. So far she’d post-it’d all of them. Though if she had to choose, she’d have to go with the pretty bright pink one with white accents and canopy bed.

Picking up Thumper from where he sat on her bed, the young girl brought him close to her chest. Sighing, she thought about starting on the reading Dunstan had left her, but she figured she had the rest of the day to do that. Why do something now when she could so easily do it later? Instead, she walked over to the makeshift desk that stood along one of the walls and grabbed one of her coloring books that she’d left there. Choosing a new Disney princess to color, she chose a crayon and went to town.

Five princesses and thirty minutes later, Reyna felt her stomach growl. Dropping the crayon, she grabbed Thumper and made her way down to the kitchen. Doing as instructed, Reyna’s meal of reheated mac ‘n cheese with chopped hot dogs was ready to be eaten in just few short minutes. Setting herself up on the couch in Dunstan’s study, Reyna sipped on her juice box as she channel surfed. Eventually deciding on Arthur, she enjoyed her meal and show.

Once that was finished, the Reyna placed her dirty dishes in the sink and empty juice box in the trash. After heading to the bathroom to wash her hands, Reyna stared at her reflection for a long moment. Her hair had grown since the last time she’d paid attention to it. The dark brown locks almost reached her shoulders now. Dunstan said he’d take her to get it cut, but as far as Reyna knew he still hadn’t made an appointment anywhere. But maybe he didn’t have to? Reyna considered for a moment that perhaps since he was such an important person—or at least he claimed to be—that he didn’t have to make appointments for things.

Humming under her breath, Reyna leaned in to rest her forehead against the glass, staring straight into her own green eyes. Her eyes reminded her of her parents. Both of them had her color eyes and she’d never met anyone else with eyes as green as theirs. Reyna figured if she didn’t see her parents again in a long time, she’d still be able to recognize them just from their eyes. Pulling back from the mirror, the she saw that she’d left a smudge on the glass. Shrugging, Reyna hopped off her step latter and made her way back to the living room to read one of her chapters, fully intending on taking pages and pages worth of notes and making up lots of questions for Dunstan to answer when he arrived home.

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