The Blood of the Everlasting

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Chapter 4

We reappeared inside a log cabin. My stomach lurched, and my head reeled. I was, at least I thought I was, amazingly calm about the situation. After the odd past couple of days, being beamed like Star Trek to parts unknown didn’t seem that unusual to me. I was, however, quite furious.

I took stock of the situation. It was still night, judging by the darkness out the window. I was in the living room of a log cabin. I was dripping wet from the rain. A fire roared in the wood stove, and the air was toasty warm. The furnishings were rustic, but comfortable: a red couch rested underneath a window, and an old-fashioned leather armchair sat opposite it. The wall by the front door was lined with bookshelves, which were packed with leather-bound hardcover books that were old and well worn. A doorway behind me opened onto a hallway and a small kitchen. I turned to Dude Ranch Glowing Man. “Who the hell are you?” I demanded. “What have you done with me, and where are we, and how the hell did you do that?” Aliens from outer space? Time travelers from the future? Hallucinations brought on by mass head trauma? “How dare you kidnap me!” I shouted, crossing my arms across my chest.

He sneered. “You stink of bloodsuckers. If I had known you had a death wish, I would have just let you die.” He pulled off the leather coat, hanging it on a hook by the door, revealing blue jeans and a long-sleeved blue button-down shirt. His glow faded into nothingness, as well.

“Bloodsuckers?” I gasped. I sank down on the couch, setting my purse beside me. I rested my head in my hands. “I’m going crazy, that’s it, isn’t it? Hit my head, scrambled my brains, and this is all one big hallucination. I’m not here, this isn’t real, I’m still in the hospital.”

He stood in front of me and glowered. “I have been called a hallucination before, but I can assure you, Rhiannon Ellis Maddox, I am definitely real, and you are definitely here, and you better snap out of it and pay attention.”

I laughed. I sobbed. I couldn’t tell which it was. “Alright, Mister John Wayne hallucination, how do you know my name, and if you’re so real, how the hell did you just teleport us to… too…” I waved my arms “just tell me what the hell is going on!” I shrieked. I was definitely losing my cool.

He let out a long-suffering sigh. “I realize this must seem a little impossible to your limited imagination, but please do try to suspend your cynicism for a few minutes and open your mind.”

I snorted. “Ok fine, have it your way. I’m all ears.” If this was a hallucination, it was a damned good one, and I might as well enjoy it. “What the hell is going on?”

He stood up again and began pacing the floorboards. “You walked straight into a vampires den, foolish girl. I didn’t save your life the other night just to have you throw it away to bloodsuckers.” He stopped and glared at me. “If that’s what you want to do with your second chance, I should have just let you die at the accident.”

I dropped my jaw. Suddenly it dawned on me: “So it was you I almost hit.” Things were starting to make a little more sense. “What have you done to me?” I begged. “I feel like I’m losing my mind.” I buried my head in my hands.

He lost the edge to his fury and sighed, sitting down in the armchair opposite me. He took off his hat, setting it on the burled oak coffee table between us, and ran a hand through his pale hair. “My name is Andreas,” he said. His voice, when calm, was a pleasant light tenor, which suited his tanned complexion. “I know your name because I saved you. You were dying.”

I drew my brows together, trying to remember that night. “I… I remember landing, and I think I broke my leg, and everything hurt.” I looked up at him.

Andreas nodded his head. “You had a compound fracture of your left femur, multiple scalp contusions, a fractured skull, your sixth cervical vertebra was shattered in 3 places, and a broken rib had punctured your lung. You were drowning in your own blood.”

I stood up and shook my head, pacing the pine floorboards. “No, that’s not possible, I didn’t have a scratch on me!”

He nodded his head in agreement. “But you would have, if I hadn’t been there.”

I stopped and stared at him, and understanding hit me. “Are you saying that…”

“I saved you,” he said again. He rolled his eyes. “How many times do I have to repeat myself?”

“So you healed me,” I stated, eyeing him curiously. “It’s not possible.” I shook my head. It wasn’t possible, was it? And yet it was the only thing that made sense.

“Look, would you just sit down and shut up and let me talk? It would make this so much quicker,” he said exasperatedly.

I scowled. “You don’t have to get snippy with me.” I sat back down, and gave him my undivided attention. “Could you please explain to me what the hell is going on so I know I’m not going crazy?” I needed answers, and here was someone who finally seemed to maybe have a few.

He cringed. “I’m… well, you’d probably call me an angel,” he said.

I laughed out loud. “Oh, that’s a good one! And God and Jesus are buddies, aren’t they?” I snorted, folding my arms across my chest. Angel, my ass.

He clenched his teeth. “You humans are so impossible,” he spat. “You try so hard to believe that there’s something beyond yourselves, but when you’re confronted with the reality of it, you deny it!”

I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. I just couldn’t believe this, honestly. If there were angels, then there was a god, too, and a devil, and then science was wrong, and my world was wrong, and my brain just wasn’t ready to accept such a thing. “Angels are imaginary creatures who have wings and wear robes and halos, they don’t dress up like John Wayne and beam me up like Scotty!” I protested. “Maybe I really have lost my mind, and this is some bizarre delusional fantasy I’ve created.” I looked at him sadly. My head hurt.

He sighed. “Rhiannon, the world is bigger and stranger than you ever could possibly imagine. You aren’t losing your mind. I am very real. No, angels don’t have wings and halos. We have coexisted alongside humans for thousands of years. We’ve been called many names by many cultures. To most cultures these days we are known as angels. No, I don’t work for some magical supreme deity. If it comforts you to think so, by all means do so. Some of us believe in a supreme diety as well. Some of us believe that we simply evolved right alongside you humans, along with otherkin, fae, demons, and other things you’ve disbelieved in all your life.”

I just stared at him, dumbfounded, at a complete and utter loss for words. All I could do was blink. It was utterly impossible and fantastic, and yet it was the only explanation that made any sense of things. Against my better judgment, I believed him.

“Probably every myth and every legend you’ve ever heard holds some grain of truth at its core. It’s always so hard for humans to believe it, but think about tonight and try telling me you don’t believe,” he challenged me. “You walked straight into and out of a vampire den. I know, because I felt it.” He stood up and took a deep breath. “Something went horribly wrong when I saved you, Rhiannon, I shared my essence with you, and somehow now I’m linked to you.” He turned his gaze to mine.

I swallowed hard. “Wow.” I finally said. I shook my head. “So I’m not crazy, huh?”

He crouched down in front of me. “Afraid not,” he said softly, shaking his head, a sad expression in his eyes.

“And all the strange things I’ve been seeing… all the glowing colors, and the smells and tastes… my senses aren’t just jumbled because I hit my head?” I asked, relieved to finally have an answer to what was wrong with me, and that the answer was anything but losing my mind.

He pursed his lips. “I think that’s my fault,” he explained. “I don’t know what went wrong, and I’m sorry for this, but it sounds like you’ve picked up my senses somehow.” He stood up again and started pacing back and forth across the floor. “That shouldn’t be possible,” he muttered.

I laughed bitterly. “This entire situation is impossible! I lost my temper at work – I never do that! Trees are glowing at me, I’m seeing blood and beating up strangers, and I had a date with a vampire who thinks I taste like an angel, and I grew fangs! Don’t tell me about impossibilities,” I accused.

He turned on his heels and gave me a sharp look. “He said you tasted like what?

“An angel,” I mumbled, staring at my hands.

“Dammit,” he hissed. “Stay away from vampires!” he shouted. “Angel blood is extremely addictive to them, and you’re chock-full of it right now.”

“What?” I gasped.

He rolled his eyes. “How else do you think I saved you?” He took up pacing the floors again. “I don’t know, maybe this’ll wear off in a few days, but I can’t have you wandering around unsupervised, because if you get hurt, I get hurt. That little scratch last night alarmed me, but bloodsuckers are the last straw,” he went on.

“Well, excuse me!” I shouted sarcastically. “How was I to know? You abandoned me on the street, clueless, without an operator’s manual, and I’ve been freaking out for the past two days, all because of your little screw up, thinking I was losing my mind, and now I’m like crack for vampires! Forgive me for being just a little bit upset,” I spat furiously.

He winced a little. “I’ve got to talk to Felix,” he announced. “You stay right here,” he ordered. With that, he closed his eyes, clenched his fists, and disappeared with a slight pop.

“Andreas!” I shouted. “Get back here, don’t you leave me here!” I stood up, enraged at the strange angel. I tried the front door, but it was locked, and I couldn’t budge it, or figure out how to unlock it. None of the windows would open, either. I poked around the house, but it was empty. I found a single bedroom that was neat and tidy, and very masculine, with a large bed in a sturdy wooden frame that looked as if it was made of the same logs as the rest of the house. A patchwork quilt covered it. I found a fluffy white bathrobe in the bathroom. I quickly shed my cold wet dress and slipped into it with a sigh. It came down to my ankles, and I had to roll up the sleeves, but it was dry and warm and comfortable. I stepped into the kitchen. There was a back door, which I yanked and yanked on, but to no avail. It, like all the other exits, was sealed up tight. I sat down at the table with a sigh.

I didn’t know where I was, or where Andreas was, or how long he was going to be gone. I was locked up tight like a prisoner, it was maddening! I ran into the living room to grab my cell phone, but there were no bars. I shoved it back into my purse in frustration.

I pulled a book down off the shelf, but it wasn’t in English. I checked a few others, but none of them were in English, and I couldn’t tell what language they were, maybe Greek? Latin? I put them all away in disgust. There was no landline phone that I could find anywhere.

I let out a scream in frustration and stomped the floor. I didn’t feel any better. I folded my arms crossly and went back into the kitchen. I thought maybe I could make myself a sandwich, but his cupboards were completely bare. Either angels didn’t eat, or he didn’t spend a lot of time here. I sat back down at the table with a frustrated sigh.

How does one get a hold of an angel? I drummed my fingers on the table as I thought. He appeared without warning after Lucas bit me. He said he felt the scratch from last night – which made me realize that I really did get cut with a knife last night, and that I’d just miraculously healed by morning. I didn’t believe in miracles, I didn’t! I believed in things I could understand and explain, and this whole situation was taxing my brain.

I sighed again in annoyance. And then I got an idea. A smile spread slowly across my face. I went over to the knife block and pulled out what looked like the sharpest knife in the block. I held it firmly in my left hand, and laid my right forearm out on the cutting board.

I gritted my teeth and laid the blade against my skin. “Damn you Andreas, this better get your attention,” I muttered. I took a deep breath, clenched my teeth, and sliced the knife across my arm. Pain blossomed, and I slowly exhaled, taking it in. It wasn’t so bad. I opened my eyes and looked at my arm. Blood welled from a shallow gash across my forearm. It stung like mad. I grabbed the towel hanging on the stove handle and wrapped it around the wound, pressing tight.

Like clockwork, Andreas appeared beside me, with a little pop. “What the hell are you doing?” he boomed. Blood was dripping down his arm onto the floor.

I grinned triumphantly. “Getting your attention,” I said to him. “Don’t you ever leave me locked up like that!” I barked, poking him in the chest.

He narrowed his eyes and stared at me. He reached out and grabbed the towel from my arm, wrapping it around his own. “We’ll heal at dawn,” he said flatly. “Try to stay alive until then.” Grabbing the knife block, and the knife on the counter, he strode swiftly into the bedroom.

“Where are you going?” I called, walking behind him.

“To make a phone call, since you so rudely interrupted me, ingrate,” he shouted back, slamming the door in my face.

So there was a phone somewhere. It struck me as odd that an angel needed to use a phone. Wouldn’t they have some angelic means of communication? I stuck my ear up to the door to listen.

“I don’t know what to do, you need to come over,” he said. “Yes, she’s here. Don’t laugh, this is seriously messed up! I took all the knives away, she can’t hurt herself further.” He paused listening to whoever was on the other end of the line. “Yes, you can bring her.” He sighed. “Yeah, you probably ought to contact Ariel. I’ll face the music.”

He stepped out of his room. “What now?” I asked.

He walked back towards the living room. “Now we wait,” he said, sitting down on the armchair. I sat down opposite him on the couch again, and we waited in silence, just glaring at each other, until there was a knock at the door. Andreas jumped up to answer it. The door opened for him without any problems. “Felix, Aislinn, come on in,” he said, inviting a couple in. The man bore a striking resemblance to Andreas, dark where he was fair. The woman was intriguing, with large dark eyes, and a small mouth. She was slender and tall, with a heart-shaped face, high arching eyebrows, fair skin, and long strawberry blonde hair. She wore jeans and a simple tee-shirt, and sprouted an engaging smile as soon as she saw me.

“You must be Rhiannon,” she said, her voice imbued with a warm Irish lilt, as she rushed forward to take my hand. “I’m Aislinn, and I’m here to save your sanity,” she smiled brightly, and hugged me.

I let out a half-laugh, half-choke, grateful for the kindness, and returned the hug warmly.

“Andreas has a horrible bedside manner, and Felix isn’t much better,” she whispered in my ear conspiratorially.

Felix walked towards me and sniffed, wrinkling up his nose in distaste. “She smells like vamp.”

“Where do you think I found her?” Andreas asked him, folding his arms across his chest. Aislinn and I sat down on the couch, and the two men talked.

“Alright, Andreas,” Felix said wearily. “So she’s what’s so important that you had to wake me up in the middle of the night over?”

He nodded his head. “Tell me how it’s possible that the girl I saved starts picking up abilities.”

“What do you mean?” Felix asked, confused.

Andreas sighed. “I mean mine, the vampires, and who knows who else! She’s got my senses, and she says she grew fangs earlier tonight. If that’s not enough to alarm you I don’t know what is.”

I cleared my throat. “Umm, excuse me guys, don’t talk about me like I’m not here,” I said.

Felix shook his head. “That’s just not possible.” He folded his arms across his chest.

Andreas rolled his eyes. “Try telling me something I don’t already know, alright? You’re the historian, I was hoping you might have some clue.”

Aislinn patted my knee. “Don’t mind them,” she whispered sympathetically to me. “They’re such typical men.”

“Are you an angel too?” I asked her.

She laughed in delight. “Heavens no! Most of them are such pompous boors. Besides, I’m from Ireland,” she added, as if that answered my question.

“Alright, let’s pretend for a moment that it is possible,” Felix said. “Tell me exactly what happened the other night. Walk me through the whole incident, and don’t leave anything out.”

Andreas sat down, and ran his fingers through his hair with a sigh. “It was a thunderstorm, and you know me, I got distracted. I was standing in the middle of the road, when she comes barreling around the corner. She wrecked her car in order to avoid hitting me. She was thrown from the wreckage and was dying. There wasn’t any time to really think, it all happened so fast, and I felt obliged to save her, since she had sacrificed her life to save mine. Once she started healing, I dug her phone out of her car, called for human help, and left.”

Felix scratched his chin thoughtfully. “And did she seem anything other than human?”

Andreas shook his head.

Felix peered at me. “Do you have any otherkin or fae ancestors, girl? A demon grandfather, or a were mother, or something?”

“No,” I shook my head. “And my name is Rhiannon, not girl,” I said hotly. “My parents were both perfectly normal, and I was, too, until two days ago. I didn’t even know you guys existed, and I wish I still didn’t,” I finished bitterly.

“How much did you give her?” he asked Andreas.

“I don’t know,” he said exasperatedly. “Enough until she started to heal. Maybe too much, but that still doesn’t explain what happened. And there’s another thing,” Andreas said slowly. “I feel her emotions, and when she’s hurt I’m hurt.” He cringed slightly when he said that.

Felix looked shocked. “You created a blood link?” he gasped.

Andreas looked guilty as sin.

“With a… a human?” Felix accused in disbelief.

Andreas sighed. “I know, I know, it shouldn’t be possible, right? And I don’t know how to undo it!”

“I don’t think you can,” Felix said softly, shaking his head. He muttered something inaudibly under his breath. He turned and looked at me. “What unusual things have you experienced?” Felix asked me.

I walked him through everything that had happened since I woke up at the accident scene, glossing over the more colorful details of my date with the vampire.

“How are you feeling right now, sitting next to Aislinn? Any strange sensations?” He crouched down in front of me, peering into my face intently, as if that would help him figure out what was wrong with me.

I shrugged. “I feel… pretty normal, actually, all things considered.” He nodded his head as if this meant something important.

Aislinn patted my arm. “For an elf, I’m a bit of a dud, I’m afraid.” She tucked her hair behind her ears, exposing delicate, pointed lobes.

I looked at her, astonished. “Elves are real, too?”

She laughed. “Why, of course we are. Do I look make-believe to you?” she beamed.

“And Felix, is he an elf or an angel?” There was an entire world out there that was brand new to me, and I was fascinated. How had these creatures managed to exist for so long in secrecy?

“We called their people the Tuatha de Danaan when they first came to Ireland,” she explained. “You call them angels. What’s in a name?” she shrugged.

“Are you sure your parents are both human?” Felix pried.

“They’re dead,” I said flatly.

“But were they human?” he repeated insistently.

I sighed, rubbing my temples. “I don’t know. They were perfectly normal people to me, and I was perfectly normal, too, until shiny boy here decided to come to my rescue,” I said, gesturing towards Andreas. “Smart move, Andreas, thanks a lot. Now I have a short temper, and want to eat bloody steak, I want to drink blood and screw when I’m around vampires, and when I’m by myself I just want to roll in the grass and smell the flowers, and when I’m around you I just want to smack you!” I bellowed. Aislinn laughed. I decided I liked Aislinn.

Felix stood up and turned towards Andreas. “Your girl here is picking up the abilities of others when she’s near them. It shouldn’t be possible.”

I was not happy about that, at all. “Well, fix this! Turn it off, make it stop! I can’t control it, and it’s driving me nuts.”

Andreas looked confused and guilty. He shook his head. “This can’t happen with humans.”

Felix rolled his eyes. “Maybe you did it wrong, maybe you gave her too much blood, maybe her mom was an elf. My best guess – and this is just a guess, mind you,” he said with emphasis, “is that she’s got some dormant fae or otherkin genes that your blood catalyzed. The only reference I know involving someone developing abilities after a save is from a half-elf, but that only involved natural elven abilities. I’ve never even heard of mutating abilities like this.” He turned toward me. “I’m sorry, Rhiannon. I don’t even know if this is temporary or permanent.” He turned toward Andreas. “I am going to have to call Ariel. She will probably want to see you. If anyone can find an answer, it is probably her.”

Andreas grimaced. “Yeah, I know. Thanks.”

Felix walked towards the door. Aislinn got up and followed him. “Don’t worry, Rhiannon,” she said to me on her way out. “Andreas will take care of you.” Her words gave me little comfort.

They left the way they came, leaving me alone with Andreas once more.

He turned towards me after showing them out the door, and his brows furrowed. “Are you sure you’re feeling all right?”

“Yes!” I said exasperatedly.

He frowned. “You might want to look in a mirror before saying that.” He grabbed me by the arm and propelled me into the bathroom. When I saw myself in the mirror I gasped. I was glowing, like he was when I first saw him. A soft white light emanated from me, surrounding me in a diffuse glow.

I squeezed my eyes shut. “Make it stop! What’s happening to me? How do I turn this off! This can’t be real!” I stomped my foot.

With a sigh, Andreas gently took my hand and led me into the kitchen and sat me down at a chair. He sat down across from me. “I’m sorry,” he said gently. “This is all my fault. I don’t know what went wrong, but let me try to help you. And I promise we will get to the bottom of this and get answers, and nothing is going to happen to you, because if anything happens to you, it’ll happen to me.”

I nodded my head mutely in acceptance. My life had been turned upside down because of this strange man. By some strange twist of fate, we were in this together, and I decided I would much rather have him as an ally than an enemy. It occurred to me that this was probably nearly as unsettling for him as it was for me, and being angry and yelling at him over it was not going to solve anything.

“Now I want you to close your eyes, and I’ll teach you how to control that glow,” he instructed. “First of all, it’s strongest when you’re agitated, so you’ll need to relax. I want you to lean back and close your eyes.” His voice was quiet and soothing.

Andreas talked me through a relaxation technique, and before long I was resting in the chair feeling completely calm, imagining all the tension falling out of my body, through my feet, into the ground below me. Finally he judged me sufficiently relaxed. “Now I want you to reach out with your mind, and feel the energy surrounding you. Matter is energy, and energy is life.”

I did as he instructed, focusing my thoughts, and found that with a lot of concentration, I could feel that energy, as clearly as I felt it flowing through my plants, or saw it flowing through the opera audience earlier tonight. It surrounded me, and flowed through me. I was reminded of the force, and had to suppress a giggle, picturing the tall angel in Yoda robes.

“Your light is just a visible manifestation of the energy you’re channeling. You channel more in heightened emotional states,” he explained, keeping his voice soft and calm. “I want you to pull that energy back inward, like you’re sucking through a mental straw.”

I focused on doing exactly that, pulling inward, until finally he was satisfied with my efforts. My head was hurting, but when I opened my eyes and looked at my hands, I was no longer glowing.

He smiled at me. “Well done. Pretty soon it’ll become reflex and you won’t even have to think about it.”

I let out a sigh of relief. It didn’t take much concentration to keep it up, I found, and my headache swiftly faded. I was tired, though. I just wanted to get some sleep. “Can I go home, please?” I asked him.

He frowned. “That’s not a very smart idea. It’s not safe, the bloodsucker probably knows where you live.”

I barked a short laugh. “Earth to angel, the sun’s going to rise soon, and won’t vampires burst into flames in daylight? Or is that just a myth like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy?” Leave it to the clueless newbie to explain the finer details to the experienced angel.

He thought about it. “I suppose,” he started slowly, “that it would be alright in that case. But I’m not going to let you out of my sight,” he said sternly.

I clenched my fists. “You’re not my keeper!” The last thing I needed was some angelic babysitter.

“Until this mess is fixed, unfortunately, I am, so get used to it,” he informed me stiffly.

With a sigh I stood up and wandered back into the living room. “Fine!” I shouted. “But you better do something about your wardrobe. Ever hear of blending in? You look like a bad John Wayne Western,” I muttered.

He left to change. I stood at the window looking out. As the sky slowly began to lighten with the approaching day I saw a high mountain lake spread out in front of me, surrounded by snow. We were above the tree line, and outside of knowing where east was by the direction of the sunrise, I had no idea where we were. There were no visible roads, or familiar land marks, just the high granite walls of the mountain surrounding the small summit lake.

The dawn light came in through the window, and my right forearm began to tingle. With a gasp, I watched the self-inflicted cut close up and mend in mere seconds.

“Our power stems from the sun,” Andreas said behind me. I turned, to see him sporting a bomber jacket, faded blue jeans, and a red tee shirt. “We’re most powerful during daylight hours.”

I gulped. “We’re not in Kansas anymore, are we?”

He shook his head. “No, Dorothy.” He reached out and took my hand. “Now click your heels together three times, and think about home,” he said with a smile.

I did just that, and with a pop and a tingle of energy, the world fell away.

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