Latoya and Arssaya, lead by an impatient Rayanna, arrived at the National Cathedral.
Rayanna frowned. “Where is she? I don’t-” Biacaneve slipped out from the shadows. The faerie girl briefly looked spooked, then plastered a look of indifference on her face.
“I suggest we get a move on,” The woman said coolly , her angry gaze fixed on Rayanna. The girl nodded and the four females proceeded to walk around the back of the cathedral. Rayanna’s shoulders tensed up the moment they entered the church grounds.
Arssaya let out a gasp at the sight before her. ” Lanika, I don’t have the best vision but...”
Lanika cut her off. “Yes, Arssaya, that girl actually has purple skin.” she explained. Arssaya came closer to the crowd, so she could see more, feeling as if she was in a dream. All around her were humanoid creatures; some had horns, others had goat feet, there were people with wings and some had cat-like eyes or even tails. One woman with sharp talons opened her mouth and laughed, her forked tongue slid out of her mouth.
Arssaya felt a goofy grin slid across her face as she observed everyone, so stuck was she in her trance that she bumped into a little man with a humped back in a brown hat.
“Hey, watch where you’re a going!” the little man shouted, his eyes filled with indifference.
“I’m so sorry, sir,”
The man glared at her. “Why you grinning, you think it’s funny?” he demanded.
Rayanna rushed up to her and the man. ” Excuse me, friend, she’s a bit daft if ya know what I mean.” She gave a forced chuckle. The man gave a grunt and hobbled off. “Come on!” Rayanna grabbed Arssaya’s arm and started dragging her through the crowd as if she were a small child.
“Hey!” she exclaimed. Lanika and Biacaneve struggled to keep up with the brisk pace they were moving through the groups of fairies. A few Asian girls dressed in French style dresses caught sight of the group and started whispering to each other behind their hands, looks of distaste on their faces.
“Someone’s popular,” Lanika commented. Before Arssaya could answer, an athletic-looking blond who was standing up front addressed the crowd.
“Sealiea,” Rayanna said harshly, ducking down, she pulled Arssaya with her. An ugly creature with locks of flaming red hair and red eyes stood to her right while Reaper came out and stood next to Sealiea. They were accompanied by a boy who practically skipped out. The boy did a split on the stage and started telling jokes the moment he was announced. Rayanna got up and started moving through the crowd again scanning each face. Biacaneve stood there narrowing her eyes at the faerie girl as she continued her frantic search.
“Shouldn’t we help her?” Lanika asked.
“What! she cursed Nick. ” Arssaya said sternly.
“I know, but look at her.” her friend insisted. Arssaya squinted at the unfocused figure of Rayanna; still, she got Lanika’s point. Sighing, she rushed over to Rayanna’s side.
“Hey, Ray!” Rayanna turned and looked at her then a loud, spine-tingling howl filled the air. Rayanna stiffened. ” Hey, Ray, what’s wrong, Ray?” She pointed behind Arssaya, who turned and froze as she noticed what she thought was a wolf with coal colored fur. Its eyes brought to mind the image of a lush green forest in spring, its eyes were ancient, and cunning filled their depths. Its matted, untamed fur smelled of pine trees. And it was of human size, drool dripping from its jagged fangs, and around its neck proudly hung a very old looking cross on a chain.
Then to Arssaya’s amazement, the wolf started to change, its body contorted and bones cracked and splintered, as it changed and shifted. Until there was one a wolf there was now a muscular man wearing nothing. Arssaya blushed and Lanika squeaked loudly and covered her eyes. Two hideous fairies came forward and draped a bear fur robe over his bare skin which he tied idly, the cross still hung from his thick neck. Beside her Rayanna froze as gasps echoed around them. “I’m sorry I’m late, quite rude of me,” he said to their hosts. “Excuse moi,” And snatched a leg of lamb from a serving platter clasped in the shaking hands of a pixie. Politely thanking her, he devoured it in seconds, striping the meat from the bone. He wiped his mouth on a napkin and grabbed another. Before long he’d eaten at least ten lamb legs. He tossed another bone to the floor, all the fairies backed up several steps. Murmurs swept through the crowd.
“Who the hell invited you?” Sealiea said angrily. The man grinned at her and took her hand kissing it.
“Hello, Sealiea, you look quite enchanting this evening, I do wonder where your guests are?” the wolfman said. He gave a nod to a nearby fairie dressed in fur who held a sack. The fairie handed Sealiea the sack, she looked inside and what she saw made her face drain of color. The olive-skinned boy rushed from in front of Sealiea and clenched his fists. “You lay one hand on her and I’ll...”
The wolfman looked at him. “Treasure, so high strung, we’re just having a pleasant conversation.” A few fairies in the crowd laughed.
“That’s enough, Greyman,” Reaper said. ” You’ve had your fun, now leave.”
“Kicking out a guest, Reaper. Such uncouth, behavior I’m sure your father taught you better.” Greyman said smoothly.
“I don’t give a Baisez about your feelings; get out. ” Reaper informed him.
“Ah, however, a charming woman sent me an invitation,” Greyman responded.
“I invited him,” Biacaneve announced, sounding smug while Reaper scowled.
“Court etiquette states that if a guest is invited you can’t kick them out.” the Wolf Man added a tad smugly.
Reaper grinned back. “Yes, but if the guest degrades or harms the hosts and hostesses, that agreement is null and void.”
“If I’ve done harm or any offense I deeply apologize,” The Wolf Man’s smile was sly. ” Now if you’ll excuse moi, I have some catching up to do.” Then he looked right past Arssaya. “Isn’t that right Rayanna?” The tiny girl’s eyes remained trapped by his, her body was starting to shake; the man-beast looked to be almost thirty, but something about his eyes suggested he was much older. He was handsome in a rough sort of way, scruffy and hairy, rather then clean-cut, and with a solid build and hands the size of dinner plates.
Reaper cleared his throat. “Greyman-” he began warningly.
“Fairy code prohibits ve spilling of blood, I know,” Greyman finished.
“Will you a abide by it?” Reaper responded.
“I will finish my conversation off sacred ground.” The Wolf man replied flippantly. Within minutes he locked eyes with Rayanna and smirked wickedly. “Well, it looks like I found one of my runaway sheep.”
The fearful fairy’s breath started to increase in pace, and she started to back up, nearly knocking Arssaya backward. Normally, Arssaya would have laughed, because seriously, but the naked fear on the other girl’s face drove the humor out of the situation.
A whimper escaped her lips and she started muttering. “NO, no, no, go away.” in a squeaky, desperate sort of voice. Her breathing starting to sound alarming.
“Hey, Rayanna, are you okay?” Lanika asked. “Hey, Rayanna?” The girl didn’t respond. Then she turned and started running off through the crowds. “Wait, Ray! Ray!” Arssaya yelled. The tiny fairy girl ran about almost blindly, shoving her way through the crowds.
“Let...me...through!” the Lenansidhe rasped, but there were too many fairies for her to escape and she was trapped. Arssaya watched some fairies block her path, then Biacaneve reached out and grabbed the fairy girls wrist. Rayanna struggled viciously. “No, let me go! Let me go!” she screamed, lashing blindly with her fists.
“I don’t think so. ” She pinned Rayanna down and turned to Greyman. “Do a spell to unbind her life from my kin, and I’ll reduce my price to twenty bottles of blood rather than the standard fifty.” the vampire stated.
“Uncharacteristically generous, mademoiselle.” the man responded.
“It just wouldn’t feel right asking for full price for damaged goods.” the vampire said smiling evilly.
“Wee.” The wolfman got up and moved forward,to take Rayanna from Biacaneve and what happened next was a blur.
One moment Arssaya was halfway across the clearing, the next, she was right in between Greyman and Rayanna. There were surprised gasps from the crowd, but no one was more surprised than Arssaya. “What are you doing?” Lanika demanded. Arssaya noticed that her friend hadn’t backed up like the rest of the crowd. What the hell am I doing? I don’t know her, or even like her. But she looked at Rayanna’s terrified face, heard her harsh breathing, and couldn’t move her feet from where they were placed.
“Please move,” Greyman said politely.
“No!” Arssaya said before she could think about what she was doing.
“Arssaya, it’s the only way to uncurse Nick.” Biacaneve tried to soothe her in a sweet voice.
“You misunderstand, mademoiselle, you see, Rayanna has always been prone to hysterics. I only wish to help her.” Greyman’s eyes narrowed despite his polite tone.
Arssaya swallowed nervously. ” Who do you think you are?“she demanded gathering her courage ” How rude of me, i’m Greyman the Erkling.”
" What does that mean?” Arssaya asked
" It means you shouldn’t of crossed me.”
The man pushed her to the ground, then clamped a hand on Rayanna’s shoulder, Biacaneve released her watching.
“Get off me!” The tiny girl swung at the older fairy in the face. “Shut up, you salop.” Her breathing was faster now.
“This has gone too far, call him off!” Treasure yelled at Reaper.
“He’s not doing anything against our laws,” the other boy retorted.
Greyman grabbed both her wrists. “Reaper!” Treasure grabbed at his comrade's white cloak desperately. The other boy wrenched his cloak away from the other boy’s hands.
“Rayanna is his property, he’s our ally, she’s our enemy.” Reaper’s voice was ice cold.
“I finning hate you!” Treasure tried to leave, but the green creature tackled him to the ground.
The fairy boy turned to Sealiea who pursed her lip. ” If you want to try any heroics feel free.” Suddenly, a cake flew through the air and hit Greyman in the face causing all of the fairies to start laughing uproariously. As Greyman sputtered and stumbled about he dropped Rayanna who was now on the ground hyperventilating.
“Oh shit, calm down!” Her breathing got harsher. I don’t know how to deal with this I don’t know! Arssaya thought frantically.
A tiny boy in a white sweater launched himself over the desert table and hurried toward them. Arssaya took in his delicate features and realized this must be Rayanna’s brother. She watched him hurry over to Rayanna.
“It’s okay, Ray, I’ve got ya, yer fine, yer safe, yer safe.” She looked stunned, then happy her breathing started to slow.
" Ra...sh....” He nodded. Then he turned to Arssaya and Lanika. “Get her out of here, now.” the pretty boy ordered as he selected another pastry from the table and held it as if it were a missile. “I said now!” the fairy snapped when they didn’t automatically react.
Arssaya was snapped out of her daze she and Lanika each draped their arms around Rayanna’s shoulders. “No, I need to stay with shell!” she yelled as the other girls dragged her off.
“Get her inside the cathedral, I’ll hold him off.” The fairy boy’s almond eyes narrowed. So the two of them moved as fast as they could while dragging Rayanna, while Rashell confronted Greyman who casually whipped the cake off his face with his furs. He licked a bit of icing off his fingers, and grimaced.
“I hate butter pecan.” He remarked.
“Why da ya think I threw it?” The fairy boy glared at him. Arssaya felt shock run through her body, he had thrown the cake?
Greyman laughed heartily. “I suppose it’s moi’s fault for wanting your attention.”
“Are ya trying ta say, ya upset me sister just ta draw me out?” he demanded.
“I wanted to see my favorite twins again.” Arssaya and Lanika were blocked by the fairies in front that formed a fairie wall. Some looked guilty but others looked indifferent as they blocked the girls’ path.
“Move it.” Lanika ordered. Rayanna continued to fight and kick to get back to her twin.
“It would be breaking our most sacred law. She belongs ta Greyman, our king should have never kept the Erkling’s property.” a beautiful women with chestnut hair and dark eyes said. Arssaya was stuck with shock and anger. A man with green skin and pointy features murmured his agreement then the others also agreed.
Arssaya snapped. “You have got to be kidding me!” A familiar feeling of chill wormed its way through her chest and grew as she got more and more angry.
“Arssaya, the temperatures dropping,” Lanika whispered.
“I’ve been threatened, tricked, hit, and I’ve about had it with all these GODDAMN FAIRIES!” With a final stamp of her foot she lost control again, the air was suddenly filled with cold winds, a sheet of ice covered the ground the moment her foot touched it. The Faeiries eyed her in shock. “YOU ARE GOING TO GET OUT OF MY WAY OR I SWEAR I’LL TURN YOU ALL INTO SNOW MEN!” She was so mad she couldn’t see straight. The fairies scampered directly out of her way. Arssaya walked even though her feet were still leaking ice from her shoes as her and Lanika half-dragged half-shoved Rayanna through the cathedral door. With every step she heard whispers of “Winter Court,” she caught one guy with horns telling a green skinned boy ” Winter Court.”
A chill ran down her spine as she picked up her pace. Even among the weird it seemed that she was destined to be an abnormality.