The mage stared at the orb in front of him, the silver specks danced in the crimson silk that filled the orb. The mage had learned that the orb was not just an object to show you hints about the future, but it could show you the events occurring in the present, and things that happened in the past.
He was still reeling from watching the little Russell girl talk to the wolf and his family about the prophecy —about him— like they knew what was going on. He watched the whole thing play out, from the second they stepped foot into Avery’s house until the Russell girl decided they needed to find him.
He scoffed to himself.
Find him? Like that would happen. The mage resided in another realm entirely, one completely hidden from the naked eye, and one that couldn’t be found. You had to be led to it, or born there. He knew they would never find him, but he couldn’t help but feel a bit uneasy.
The girl he gifted —Avery— had mentioned his name. Not his real name, but the name he adopted all those years ago. Rochester.
Knowing his real name would give any human or Unnatural too much power over him, it would ultimately be the only thing in the world to stop him. When Avery gave him the name, he went along with it in hopes people wouldn’t try to discover his real name. The name he was cursed with.
He huffed and stood up, stretching his long legs out and pulling his arms above his head until his back cracked. He dropped his hands to his side and glanced at the prophecy again. The one line stared at him, taunting him. He knew it hadn’t been fulfilled yet, he hadn’t felt the shift. Now, he was just scrambling to figure out how to trigger that part of the prophecy before the time ran out.
He opened the large wooden door with a spell and stepped out of the darkness. Instantly, a swarm of servants lined up on either side of him, bowing their heads slightly. He rolled his eyes.
“Where’s Duke?” he asked no one in particular.
“He’s in the kitchen, my lord,” a small fae answered. The mage, Rochester, nodded and walked through the hallway of servants and made a b-line for the kitchen. If anyone knew how to trigger a prophecy, it would be Duke.
Duke was, in short, his elder brother. Not by blood, nor was he a mage—he was a vampire. They had been together for centuries and treated each other as such regardless of the lack of familiarity between them. Duke had spent over half a century researching prophecies and digging into what caused them, what created them, and why they happened. He would be the only one to know how to work around the particular part of the prophecy that was stumping him.
He came into the kitchen and watched the imps flutter around the kitchen, hollering at each other in German. German was their native tongue, and while everyone in Rochester’s house could understand their words—and their curses—they still preferred their native language to that of Greek. He could hear conversations about not enough eggs, too much salt, and something about a son of a bitch lord, who he assumed was himself. When he heard that last one, he cleared his throat.
“I heard Duke was in here.”
The eldest imp looked at him nervously, but didn’t dare look him in the eyes. “Y-Yes, my lord. He’s in the pantry. I’ll go get him for you.”
Rochester gave him a curt nod. “Tell him to meet me in the library.”
It wasn’t that Rochester had a problem with imps, he wasn’t prejudicial in the slightest. However, compared to mages, they were a lot more rambunctious compared to their calm counterparts. Being around them made him uneasy, and Rochester never understood why Duke preferred their company.
He walked to his library slowly, sure that Duke would take his time anyway. It wasn’t a long walk from the kitchen, but Duke had the tendency to dawdle when he wasn’t supposed to. When he came to the massive door, he paused.
It had been years since he stepped foot inside the library, not since-
“Roch!” called Duke. Though Duke knew his given name, he had taken to Avery’s...pet name ever since he had told him about it. When he heard the name Rochester, he laughed in his face and didn’t let it go.
Rochester turned around and faced his brother. He was tall and lanky, his blonde hair flowed past his shoulders. His skin was creamy white, and the smile pattered to his face showed two, glistening fangs.
Rochester nodded. “Duke.”
“What’s up? Dai said you were looking for me.”
“I need to talk to you about something. Not here,” he gestured to the library and opened the door. It was another room of the house that had no knob, so that no onlookers tried to pry their way in.
Duke wandered in, ooh-ing and aah-ing at the books and paintings on the walls, before he came to a stop. There was one in particular that caught his eye, one that Rochester hadn’t taken down yet.
“Roch...You know that its been-”
“Stop,” Rochester quipped, shutting the door behind him. “That isn’t why we’re here. I need to talk to you about the prophecy.”
“You’re still working on that?” Duke squinted.
“Yes, I’m still working on that,” Rochester answered sarcastically. “There’s a particular part that hasn’t happened yet. I need to know what to do to make it happen.”
Duke stared at the man before him. His best friend, his brother. He’d been by his side since they were infants, and yet this was something he could never stop him from doing. “Okay...I need to see the prophecy.”
“You know I can’t do that.”
“Then I can’t help you.”
The two men stared at each other in silence, neither backing down. One knew that the other needed the prophecy to help him, but he wasn’t able to share it with anyone. The other knew this as well, but he also knew he was just being stubborn.
“At least give me the line, yeah?”
Rochester eyed his brother. “The lonely boy will meet his match.”
“What kind of shit-”
“Okay, okay.” Duke paused for a moment. “Has any part of it been completed?”
“He’s lonely, yes.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“I made sure of it.”
“Which step is it?”
Rochester shifted on his feet. It was another thing he wasn’t supposed to share about the prophecy. Perhaps he could work around it? “There were three before this one.”
Duke nodded. “You’re still early on. In my research, I found that in the beginning stages of prophecies, it’s a tossup with whether or not it’ll happen on its own or if you’ll have to force it. Towards the end is when you have to force it. My guess is if the last step was forced, this one will happen naturally. Did you force the last one?”
Rochester thought for a second before he answered. “Yes.”
“Then you’re fine. This one will happen regardless. You don’t have to worry. You know as well as I do that prophecies are tricky. The time limit is never set in stone, either. Even if you had a short time span for the last step, the next step could have a year’s worth of time, and vise versa.”
Rochester pursed his lips. “There’s nothing I can do?”
Duke barked out a laugh. “Not unless you know exactly what the prophecy means. His match? That could mean anything. If you try to make something happen and it’s wrong, it’ll fuck the whole thing up.”
“Thank you,” Rochester said, and he meant it. It was very rare for him to give out pleasantries, whether true or not.
“Of course,” Duke replied, smiling softly. “However, I think it would be good for me to take a look at the prophecy. Before you object,” he said hastily as Rochester opened his mouth. “Think about it. You know you can trust me, yes? And you know as well as I do that I’m the only one who can help you with this. Unless you feel like hunting down Sylith.”
Rochester made a sour face at his sister’s name. Much like Duke, the female mage had devoted years to diving into the secrets behind prophecies. Unlike Duke, however, she spent centuries looking into all kinds of information, not just decades. Though Rochester wasn’t sure where his sister was, or if she was alive at that.
“Don’t mock me, Duke,” he growled. “I haven’t seen Sylith since the war. God knows where she is.”
“Last I heard she was trying to break into Inegan.”
Rochester barked out a laugh. “Of course she would. I’d rather not see her, though.”
His sister was a force to be reckoned with, literally. Much like himself, she spent years devoting herself to the craft of magic, but she had taken it to the extreme. She traveled across worlds as soon as she hit 16 and learned every type of magic she could get her hands on. That was the last time Rochester has seen Sylith before the war. Now, he wasn’t even sure she was alive.
“But,” Duke persisted. “She would be a lot more help than I would. I only know the basics, plus a few more things that regular Unnaturals don’t know. Sylith knows nearly everything.”
Rochester groaned and looked at the painting on the wall, the one that was haunting him since he stepped foot into the vast library. The small smile was forever embedded into his memories, and he had a nagging feeling in the back of his mind that he needed to see his sister.
“I guess we need reinforcements, then.”
Emerson shivered, getting the feeling that something was about to happen. She looked at the three humans in front of her, laughing and joking and teasing each other as if Nicholas never left and smiled to herself. So this is what a real family looked like.
Her family was dysfunctional, she knew that better than anyone. She had the classic deadbeat dad and was orphaned at a young age, and her grandmother refused to come off that damned mountain. Her siblings much preferred the company of other fae, even though she knew Amethyst was growing more uncomfortable by the day. Amethyst had doubts of their fae blood, she would tell Emerson on her visits that she didn’t think they were “fae enough” to get involved in such things, and now that Amethyst was Queen, her doubts seemed to be drowning her.
Jezebel, though, Emerson’s half sister, was completely and unmistakably fae. The younger woman had no qualms of staying with her own people, and didn’t prefer the company of humans like most fae did. She liked Unnaturals, and that was just about unnatural as it could get.
Emerson pulled herself from her thoughts and found Nicholas staring at her. His eyes were hooded, lips parted, as if he were deep in thought. She blushed and cleared her throat, snapping his attention back to his father.
“So,” Avery spoke up. “Just how do you expect us to find Rochester? We barely know who he is.”
Emerson assumed she was talking to her, so she gave her a droll look in response. “I know people.”
Nicholas’s head snapped to her. “You don’t mean-”
“Can they really-?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are you sure this is a good idea then?”
Emerson looked him square in the eye and said nothing. They seemed to exchange words silently, and she could feel both Avery and Jordan growing nervous.
“Okay,” Nicholas gave up. “But I don’t want Avery or dad around them. They stay away from the Spring.”
Emerson nodded. She understood where he was coming from. If her sisters got wind of humans lurking in the shadows, they’d sink their nails into them and wouldn’t let them leave. And that wasn’t something she wanted to deal with. Jezebel didn’t like being told no.
“Hate to break it to you, but I’m not going,” Jordan said.
“Uh, son, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m not exactly the man I used to be. Plus, I have a business to run.”
Nicholas pursed his lips. “Avery?”
Avery chewed her lip and glanced at Jordan, then Emerson, then finally looked at her brother. “I-I’ll have to talk to Mekhi first. But who are we getting help from?”
Emerson’s answer was drowned out by a door slamming.
“Ave?” a man’s voice called.
Avery’s eyes widened and she shot to her feet, stumbling past the table. “I’m in the dining room.”
Emerson heard the footsteps become closer, and she felt a familiar feeling settle into her stomach, but she couldn’t quite place it.
“Ave, you’ll never believe what Richardson said to me today. He was droning on and on about-” the voice stopped, as did the footsteps. “Who’re they?”
“Hello, Mekhi, it’s good to see you again,” Jordan called from his spot at the table, sipping from his mug. He payed no attention to the man’s sudden discomfort, nor did he care to address it.
“Mr. Evans, it’s a pleasure as always. I see you brought company?” Mekhi crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes. He knew his fiancée wouldn’t bring just anybody into his house, but he had a strange feeling he couldn’t let go.
“Ah, yes, of course. This is my son Nicholas, who I’m sure you’ve heard of. And this lovely woman is the one who has returned him to us.”
At the sound of her being mentioned, Emerson glanced up from the table, and her eyes landed right on Mekhi. Her eyes widened, sudden realization sank further into her stomach as to why she knew that name so well. How could she forget the man standing before her? His curly brown hair was always a blurry memory, but she remembered those brown eyes so clearly. Her lips parted.
Mekhi’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline as he looked at the woman before him. Those blue eyes haunted his dreams. He knew very well who this woman was. He let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.