Calypso woke with the strangest feeling. It felt as if she were being watched. She sat up and looked around to find that she was alone. Lilith still slept soundly in her cradle. Aryian must have slipped out with the intent to let her rest and catch up on some much needed sleep. She leaned back on the bed and closed her eyes for only a moment before she heard the door open.
Aryian entered the bedroom carrying breakfast for the three of them. Calypso then realized it was morning. She pushed herself out of bed and made her way over to the window. She drew back the curtains and let in the morning sunlight and then made her way back to bed. Lilith didn’t stir at the light giving the two of them the opportunity to enjoy breakfast uninterrupted.
The quiet didn’t last for long. Lilith woke up with a howl followed by a giggle. Calypso went and picked her up. She took her to the changing table and gave her a fresh diaper before carrying her back to the bed for her breakfast. With a full belly she went back to being content and smiling. She reached out and took Aryian by his finger and squeezed it tightly. He smiled leaned down and kissed her tiny hand.
“I could stay like this all day.” Calypso smiled.
“I would as well but I’ve given my word to Fahre that we’d get the new council building set up.” Aryian sighed.
“Well, I’m glad that’s coming together so quickly. It will be nice to have the gathering of the elders again.” Calypso replied.
“Yes it will,” He replied leaning over to give her a kiss.
“Since it’s going to be right next door maybe we can walk you out.” She offered.
“I’d like that.” He smiled.
Aryian took Lilith from Calypso. She made her way over to the closet and changed clothes quickly. She then took their daughter so Aryian could do the same. When they were all cleaned up they made their way downstairs together. They were nearly to the door when it burst open revealing a breathless Bree leaning against the frame.
“I am so sorry I’m late.” Bree said. “I’ve never overslept. I have no idea why I picked today to do it.”
“You didn’t have to rush all the way over here silly. Aryian made us breakfast. Everything turned out just fine.” Calypso laughed.
“Oh, good.” Bree chuckled as she finally caught her breath.
“I didn’t leave much of a mess in there either. Shouldn’t take long to get it clean again.” Aryian stated. “Now, I’d best be off. Everyone is going to arrive before me and that looks bad for me.”
Calypso kissed Aryian on the cheek, “I’ll see you soon. Have a good morning.”
“You too, I will be back as soon as I can.” He replied.
Aryian passed by Bree and made his way out into the street. Bree closed the door behind him and looked at Calypso with a smile. Calypso could tell she had a lot on her mind and was just waiting for the moment that it could all spill out.
“So, how was your evening?” Calypso asked with a giggle.
“It was fun, and amazing, and completely crazy.” Bree replied with a smile.
“Well come on, tell me all about it then.” Calypso said with a smirk.
“Cairn and I fell asleep on the couch at our place.” Bree stated as she headed for the kitchen.
“Oh wow, it’s still weird saying that, ‘our place’. It seems so odd that this won’t be home anymore.” Bree added.
“It’s still home. But it’s nice to have somewhere to retreat to at the end of the day.” Calypso laughed.
“Yes, it was. That’s exactly how it went. We had a nice meal with my family and then we just escaped to this place where we were just together. It was more than nice.” Bree blushed.
“I’m really glad you two have each other.” Calypso said proudly.
Bree started cleaning the kitchen as she replied, “I’m happy it turned out so well. Usually these situations end awkwardly instead of happily ever after.”
“Yes they can, but I think we’ve had enough of the awkward and suffering moments. We deserve a bit of the happy.” Calypso said.
“Everyone wants to know when the wedding is. But the only thing I could really agree on is where.” Bree said as she put the dishes away. “The town square seemed to be the perfect location. I wanted to ask you and Aryian what you had in mind and how we can make this all fit together.”
“Well, you’re stuck with me today I’m afraid. I think we can manage to come up with a few things. You might have to step away from the chores for a while.” Calypso joked.
“I’m all for it. Take me away.” Bree laughed.
Bree stepped away from the kitchen counter. She put her hands in the air indicating that she was completely surrendering to Calypso’s whim, ready to spend the day planning her future. Calypso led the way through the keep chattering away as she gathered what she needed to spend the day spoiling her dearest of friends in preparation for a grand wedding.
Ashie stood and watched Alcoa and Devyn as they sat down on the couch. Their bodies remained still as their projections came forth to stand right in front of her. She looked at Adrian with approval.
“How far can you go?” Ashie asked.
“I’ve never tested that.” Alcoa replied as her image flickered slightly.
“Oh, I definitely want to do this.” Ashie smiled. “Work your magic Devyn.”
Devyn pushed the information Ashie needed into her mind. Next thing she knew her body hit the floor and she was still standing there looking at the others. She looked at her hands completely amazed that she could see right through them.
“Now, let’s see how far this gets me.” Ashie said confidently.
Ashie pushed her own mind to its limit. She imagined herself standing over Calypso. It wasn’t more than a second before she found herself in the master suite of Ellyll keep. Calypso slept peacefully there in the bed. She watched as Aryian climbed out of bed and walked right through her as he made his way out of the room. She felt a slight eerie feeling as he passed wondering if she would be noticed. When she wasn’t she made her way across the room.
Ashie looked at the sleeping child in the cradle. Her rage was instantly renewed. How dare they be granted the gift to continue procreating while her people were cursed to an existence without the joys of life? She made her way back over to Calypso as her anger burned inside of her. She wanted to reach out with her see-through hands and strangle the life out of Calypso. This thought seemed to be enough to stir the woman from dream.
Ashie panicked as she feared that she would be discovered and was instantly snapped back into her own body. As she regained consciousness she sat up with a smile.
“I was at Ellyll keep,” Ashie stated. “We can go anywhere with but a thought.”
“That’s amazing,” Adrian stated.
Ashie picked herself up off the floor, “It was intense. I’d like you all to practice more and keep me posted on what you accomplish.”
“Yes my queen,” Alcoa replied.
“How are you doing on the wraith project?” Adrian asked as he escorted Ashie to the door.
“It’s still in the thought process. But, I’m certain by this evening I’ll have something worth showing. Well done on the astral projection.” Ashie replied.
“Thank you my queen.” Adrian replied. “I will see you later on this evening.
The hounds perked up at the sound of Ashie walking down the stairs. She patted each head of the hounds approvingly and continued to walk through the town. They followed right on her heels until she came to the thorn wall that separated Uffern from the rest of the world.
It had seemed to grow immensely since the last time Ashie had gazed upon it. The man that had been working on it walked up from behind. He stood waiting to be addressed as she looked at his work.
“Is it functional Verdin?” Ashie asked him.
“I haven’t tested it yet. But I did get it surrounding the entire town.” He stated.
“Well, that’s a start. How about we test it now?” Ashie said calmly.
“How so?” He asked.
Ashie replied by grabbing Verdin by his arms. She gave him a pull and then a shove. He disappeared behind the thorns with a howl of protest. When he reappeared he was unscathed by the event. Without a mark on him, he looked at himself and then back at the wall.
“Well, it looks like it works. At least on our side of things anyways.” Ashie replied with a smile.
“Yes, my queen. It does appear to work.” He replied shaken.
“Oh don’t be a baby. You’re immortal now. Even if it didn’t work you would have survived it.” Ashie rolled her eyes.
“Of course my queen,” Verdin replied.
“Now, go and find someone to test it on. I want to see how the other side of this thing works.” Ashie ordered.
“Yes my queen.” He replied.
Ashie watched and smiled proudly as Verdin disappeared through the thorns. Things were coming together well. It wouldn’t be long at all and they would be ready to advance upon the angels with new found ways.
Verdin made his way to the other side of the thorn wall. He was impressed by his own work as he exited the other side. He couldn’t even tell that there had been a road there at one time. The way the dust and grass had settled around the thorns made the path seem as if it just ended at the massive wall of entanglement. The overgrown patch appeared as if it had been growing for years rather than days keeping up with the charade that there was nothing more to see beyond it.
Verdin turned away from his creation and stretched his wings. He had yet to use them and was excited to try them out. He found his wings to be as functional as they were complex. He flapped as hard as he could and took off into the sky. He soared higher than he thought any man should ever go. As he passed into the clouds the distance he covered seemed so small. He caught the sight of a small settlement out of the corner of his eye. He turned quickly and headed off in the direction of it.
There were four houses surrounded by fields full of corn, wheat, and vegetables. Verdin watched from the sky to see if anyone was home. He saw a young woman making her way out of the corn field and into the patch of vegetables. She was far away from the houses. He saw the perfect opportunity and flew in to sweep her up. Seemingly out of nowhere, he wrapped his arms around the woman. She dropped her basket and let out an ear piercing shriek.
The noise didn’t stop Verdin. He pulled the young woman into the air with him. She struggled against his hold as the ground beneath her disappeared. She stopped struggling as she realized how high up he had taken her. She clung to him fearing the fall more than his intent.
As Verdin neared the veil of thorns he began his descent. He dropped quite suddenly causing the woman he was carrying to yell out in surprise. When her feet touched the ground she reached out and slapped him. He didn’t release his hold on her arm even though his face stung.
“Come with me,” Verdin demanded.
“Let me go,” The woman howled as she was dragged through the fence of thorns.
Once Verdin had her on the other side he released her as she requested. She looked around in shock. She was not harmed by the thorns as she was forced to pass through them. When she went to run, she tried to go back the way she had been dragged in. She reached out, touched the thorns, and instantly regretted it. They pierced the palm of her hand. She pulled away fiercely and watched as the blood dripped down her wrist.
“What have you done?” The woman asked. “Where are we?”
“Welcome to Uffern.” Verdin replied casually. “Just so you know, this barrier goes around the entire town. You won’t get out without assistance.”
“Why did you bring me here?” The woman demanded.
“We will get to that later. But first, there are a few people you need to meet.” Verdin replied. “Will you walk with me or shall I carry you?”
“I can walk.” She resigned.
“Good, come with me.” He replied.
Verdin escorted the young woman through town. She followed him silently. He could feel her confusion and sadness as if it poured out of her pale skin and clung to his. It wasn’t long before her emotion also became his. The thought of knowing how she felt about his actions caused a reaction in his heart. He watched as she reached down to the hem of her skirt, tore off a small piece of fabric and wrapped up her still bleeding hand.
“What’s your name?” He asked.
“Lisee,” She replied so quietly he almost didn’t hear.
“I’m Verdin,” He replied politely.
Lisee nodded politely, her soft blonde curls bouncing with the shaking of her head. Verdin smiled warmly as he watched her. They approached Adrian’s home together. Although he knew where they were, she still had no clue. For some reason he felt like he should be comforting her, or at least explaining. But he held his tongue and stayed in his position. It was not his job, and he would not disobey the order.
Verdin knocked on Adrian’s door and waited for him to answer. He took a step back and reached out for Lisee’s hand. She took his hand timidly trembling as the door opened in front of her. The man that stood before them appeared to be nothing short of demented. The look in his eyes was cold and frightening to her. She took the opportunity of hiding behind Verdin’s wings as the man spoke.
“So, you return successful.” Adrian stated. “The queen will be pleased.”
“If she is pleased then it pleases me.” Verdin replied.
“Come with me. She sits on her throne waiting for your report.” Adrian stated.
Adrian pushed past Verdin and made his way down to the street. Lisee gripped Verdin’s hand tightly as she began to realize where she was. She was led through the streets and into the trees. From there, the tree line broke, opening up into the clearing. The first thing her eyes rested upon was the large three headed hounds at the woman’s feet. She wanted to make a run for it. When she tried, Verdin held her in her place beside him.
“Ah, Adrian, you return to me with an audience.” Ashie noted.
“Welcome home Verdin. I see you were successful and we have a guest.” Ashie stated.
“Yes my queen,” Verdin bowed. “I present to you, the human Lisee.”
“Welcome to Uffern Lisee. I am Queen Ashie Ellyll.” She said in introduction.
“Your highness,” Lisee bowed politely, trembling.
“The barrier, how did it do?” Ashie asked.
“It worked as predicted.” Verdin replied holding up Lisee’s bandaged hand.
“Fantastic,” Ashie clapped ecstatically. “Now, we have so much more in need of your assistance young Lisee. If you would agree to aid us we will let you return home.”
“If I don’t agree to help, what happens then?” Lisee asked.
“Then we will take what we need from you regardless of consent.” Ashie stated leaning forward on her throne of thorns. “It matters not to me if you are alright with it.”
Lisee took a deep breath as she realized just how deeply in trouble she really was. She looked at Verdin and realized in that moment that he could feel everything she felt. As her eyes welled up with tears his nearly did as well. She turned back to the queen with her response.
“I will help on the condition that I stay with Verdin. Without him beside me I will be more than unpleasant to work with.” Lisee stated.
“Your condition is deemed acceptable. Verdin, you are this human’s escort. Do not let her out of your sight.” Ashie stated.
“Yes my queen,” He bowed. “Your will be done.”
“You are excused,” Ashie stated.
Verdin took Lisee’s hand and escorted her away. Adrian hung back and moved closer to the throne, stepping around the large body of the female hound. Ashie leaned over and whispered to him.
“I think this is just going to work out perfectly.” Ashie said.
“How is that your highness?” Adrian replied.
“Have Alcoa take a look at the human. See if she can possess her through her astral projection. I will be casting after dusk. I believe I have the solution for our wraith figure.” Ashie said.
“I will make sure you are left undisturbed.” Adrian said.
“Good, thank you.” She smirked. “One last thing before you go, keep an eye on Verdin. I want to see how close he can get to the human. Perhaps if possession fails we can find another way to get what we want.”
“As you wish,” Adrian bowed.
Ashie watched Adrian walk away before going back to where her mind was before the interruption. She traced out the lines in her mind of the creature she desired to create. It would be completely without physical form. She thought of a black mist that would have the ability to do two things, obey without question, and possess a human host.
As Ashie came to the decision, the being came into existence before her. The swirling black mist took on the form of what it looked at. It appeared before her as if it were just another daemon in astral form. It looked to her for instruction. She smiled pleased and ready to give it a test run.
“Go to the human in Uffern. Take up your possession of her body and bring her back to me for orders.” Ashie stated.
The black mist vanished before her eyes. Pleased, Ashie leaned back in her throne and waited for it to return. If it worked as well as she hoped for, she would make many more of these creatures. She was beyond ready to set them loose into the world. The anticipation made her cold heart feel warm with darkened glee.