Irish Cliffs – Resume
“I trusted you! You said you’d stop her!” Kadin shouted as she stalked closer to Rowena, her skin taking on more of a bluish hue with every step.
“I said I’d help her,” Rowena said, as she tried to retreat from the rageful Kadin. She glanced over her shoulder at the cliff’s edge.
Beneath them, Kennedy plummeted down and down, rock and sky rushing past her. She closed her eyes.
She fell beyond a wall of mist, disappearing from view. A second passed in silence. Then another.
Kennedy reopened her eyes. Then an enormous creature broke above the mist. A horse, though a slightly transparent one. Its mane, tail and eyes all shined iridescent in every possible color. Swiftly after the first, two more appeared. Kennedy suddenly found herself astride the back of the last of them, fingers wrapped tightly into its coat. She blinked her eyes against the spray of the sea and held on for dear life as the Tuatha Dé Danann flew toward the sky.
At the top of the cliff, Kadin had her arm reared back and was about to hit Rowena when the two of them froze and watched, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, as Kennedy shot past them holding onto the mane of a giant, rainbow-colored flying horse.
Kadin turned to run towards the cliff, as if to jump too, but Rowena tripped her up by grabbing her around the waist, bringing both of them to the ground.
“Remember what I told you on the plane?” Rowena told her frantically as they wrestled on the ground. It didn’t take long for Kadin to get the upper hand and have Rowena pinned beneath her. “If you jump, you die!” Rowena gasped out between heaving breaths. “It’s about faith. You just saw it work for Kennedy. That’s not faith. It won’t work for you.”
Kadin relented slightly as Rowena pointed out past the cliff. That’s when they saw what appeared to be three horses turn toward the horizon, out to sea, with a possible fourth horse they couldn’t quite distinguish. At that moment, the clouds parted just enough to allow the sun to peek through, and a ray of light shone down on Kennedy and her steed. The two women watched for several moments longer, as Kennedy and the other figures disappeared into the sun.
Rowena turned back to Kadin. “It had to be her.”
Kadin still lay half-on-top of the watcher on the rocky ground, but her eyes were on the spot where Kennedy had moved out of view. “Magic is so fucking stupid sometimes.” She looked down at the other woman. “How were you so sure?”
“I trust facts…and Kennedy, God help me.”
Kadin moved off of Rowena and helped her to her feet. “She’s all alone.” She sighed and looked back out to sea. “She’s never gonna let my ass live this down, if she makes it back.”
“Not if she makes it back,” Rowena corrected her, “when she gets back. We have to have faith.”
Above the Atlantic – Day
Out to sea, the mist had cleared. Kennedy found herself still very high, holding onto a semitransparent horse that was somehow every color of the rainbow at once. She didn’t have to look down, she could see the ocean surface hundreds of feet below her through her mount’s head. The biting wind turned her ears red and made her eyes water. With some effort, she unclenched one hand from the creature’s coat and tried to stretch out her exhausted fingers.
As she did so, she blinked several times against the stinging wind. When she managed to get her eyes open again, something had changed. Disembodied light, like waves, crashed over Kennedy, her horse and the two horses on either side of them. With each wave of light, the sky seemed brighter blue, the gray of the ocean less oppressive. Kennedy tried again to unclench her hand, and her fingertips came free much more easily.
Imperceptibly at first, the Tuatha began to descend. In the distance ahead of her, Kennedy saw an island, rocky green pinnacles sticking out of the sea. As they flew closer, circling over the crags, she could see the steep terrain dotted with small huts made from uneven rocks.
She breathed in hard through her nose, then hard out through her mouth. “Keep it together,” she said to herself.
A few moments later, the hooves of the Tuatha silently touched down on the hardscrabble grass in an open area between a few of the huts. Nothing else living moved, even the wind seemed to have disappeared. In a smooth motion, Kennedy hopped from her mount. She looked into its eyes, which shone first yellow, then blue, then green.
“Thanks,” she said awkwardly.
As soon as the word left her lips, first her horse, then the two others accompanying it, leapt off the ground and entered the air once again. She watched the Tuatha grow small on the horizon, then disappear.
She sighed, looking around. “So, no fairies. No babies. No bells, no weapons, no clues…” She blinked once, then unzipped a pocket and fished out her cell phone in its sturdy case. “These Otterboxes really do work,” she commented. “Hey Tabitha, are you still there?”
“I am here,” her phone replied.
“Hey, kudos to the I.T. team for transdimensional functionality. Tabitha, any thoughts on where to find Vanessa?”
“First, I should remind you that this is only a free trial version of WatchR,” Tabitha replied. “Your free trial will expire in six hours and seventeen minutes. To continue your WatchR experience, please connect to Wifi and subscribe to WatchR Plus for only eight ninety-nine per month.”
Kennedy grimaced and bit her lip in frustration, and for a moment held her arm as if to throw the phone, but restrained herself. “On second thought, fuck I.T. Free trial? Free trial?!?! I work for the frickin’ Watchers Council. Grace couldn’t even spring for…” She trailed off and took a deep breath, then said “Fuck” again.
“To respond to your query,” Tabitha continued, without skipping a beat, “can you describe your surroundings? Does anything look or feel out of place?”
Kennedy looked around again. “Well, looks perfectly normal. If you’re not counting the fact it looks like a visual embodiment of tripping acid. If anything’s out of place, I am.” Then she cocked her head and said, “Wait.” She stuck her phone in her back pocket, closed her eyes and stretched out her arms. She extended her fingers as if feeling for something.
Abruptly, she opened her eyes again. “Unless my magic-dar is way off, there’s a lot of mystical energy here. Like, a lot a lot.”
“Are there any nearby structures?” Tabitha pushed. “Look for something that might be the source of what you’re feeling.”
Kennedy sighed and took a few steps toward the nearest stone hut. She ducked into the opening and inside found…absolutely nothing. The stone walls formed a perfect circle, which contained within them only bare ground.
Barely able to stand to full height in the very center, Kennedy put hands on both hips. “Great idea, Miss Free Trial.” With a groan, she stepped out of the hut.
The craggy island landscape was completely gone. A forest stood in its place, the enormous trees stretching far above her to a canopy that nearly blocked the sun. Ferns and moss covered the forest floor around her. The huts were still there, but everything else had changed.
“Huh,” Kennedy said.
Cavern – Time Unknown
With persistent, pained grunts, a hand reached up, gripping, digging nails into a makeshift handhold in the dark rock. The sediment crunched under the soot-stained fingers. Through drifting plumes of steam and swirling dirt and dust, the figure heaved themselves upward over the top, arching their right leg up over the edge.
Fronds of lava spewed up into the air, before losing shape and falling back down to the pool below with a searing hiss. As the figure stood, ahead of them stood another, their back turned, bathed in the throbbing orange glow of the river of magma surrounding the rocky islet. The petite figure stood with their hands taut by their sides.
“Wist!” the figure behind cried. As the steam parted, it revealed Duffy, her hair picked up in the molten breeze, her face covered in immaculately painted dirt and grime.
Slowly, Wisteria turned to Duffy, her once auburn hair now jet black, with black veins popping over her expressionless face.
As the lava bubbled below, so did something else – a piano.
“Strike up the band, it’s time to play-a-aaaayy…”
A snare drum kicked in.
“Yeah, sure, you just came here to slay-a-aaaayy…”
Duffy hastily looked around, terribly confused.
“But girl, I think this time you should just walk away-a-aaaayy…”
Stepping forward, Wisteria made a walking motion with her fingers across her face.
“‘Cause right here, right now, it’s Wisteria’s day!”
She threw up her arms and snapped her head high as the big band reached a crescendo.
Then, slowly, she craned her head back down, closing her eyes as she did so, and bringing her hands together, clasped and clutched to her chest.
“And this whole bitch world is gonna…” She snapped open her eyes and locked them square on Duffy, “…pay.”
With a sharp screech of violins, Wisteria spun on the spot back toward the pit below and thrust out her arms, palms forward and waved them wildly. Her whole body writhed, shaking from side to side while she made an audible “blergh” noise, her tongue wagging.
The music stopped, the surroundings suddenly changing from the center of a volcano to bright, blank green, and Rachel Bloom dropped her arms and turned back as Andrew and June strode onto set, passing Annie Murphy, who blew an errant strand of hair out of her face.
“Rachel, sweetie, perf, seriously so, so good,” Andrew said, clapping tightly.
“Oh, thanks, Andr-uh-Mr. Wells! I wasn’t sure if the Jello arms were too, I dunno, camp?”
“Too camp? Oh my, not at all!” A chuckle of wildly varying pitch exploded out of Andrew’s chest.
“Kinda camp,” June supplied dryly.
Andrew’s shoulders went up, and he took a large step away from her. “In fact, Rach, I’m sorry, but it wasn’t camp enough.”
“Huh?” both Rachel and June added in differing tones.
“Seriously, go for it, always. We can totally re-do it in ADR but, like, be super theatrical, over the top and then over again. You’re compromised,” Andrew leaned in.
“Yeah,” Rachel leaned in too.
“You’re wicked evil now.”
“But you’re also conflicted.”
“‘Cause you’re not really evil.”
“You’ve been thrown over the metaphorical edge while you look over the actual edge, ’cause a once-friend that you trusted and put your faith and time and Mom’s money into kinda manipulated your worldview and made you a not very nice person for like six months ’cause you were down and out and…” Andrew noticed the brows on Rachel’s forehead were about to migrate to her hairline, “…killed your cat…”
“…that harbored the reincarnated soul of your girlfriend, so now you’re killing the world with song by igniting this hidden super volcano under San Diego.”
“Yep, of course, I mean, it’s a big motivation for her arc.”
“Huge, so on the ‘day’, maybe be more cackle-y.”
Rachel squinted and bared her teeth, cocking her head toward her right shoulder, “I thought you said that was a stereotype.”
Andrew put a hand to his chest, “Rachel, it is, and thank you for remembering and being so considerate.”
“But as a High Priest with creative license, if I’m not offended, you’re golden. So go up on the ‘day‘, not completely dry ‘day‘. Save the dry for ‘pay‘, ’cause that’s super evil.”
“So, like, ‘DAAAAYAHEEEYYYAAAA‘.”
“Yeah, but maybe ‘DA-HEYYYY-AAAYY-AAAAAAAYYY‘.”
“‘DA-HEYYY…‘” Rachel began.
Andrew pitched his finger up in the air and he tilted his head along with the rhythm, “‘AAAYY-AAAAAAAYYY’.”
Now both he and Rachel harmonized, “‘DA-HEYYYY-AAAYY-AAAAAAAYYY‘.”
Annie and June stood side by side, looking on.
“I’m a little bit…” Annie began.
“Wrong show, wrong country, lady,” June interrupted, without missing a beat.
With a large blink, Annie turned her head. “What? No. I was gonna say thirsty. I’m a little bit thirsty.”
“Ain’t we all.”
“You’re an assistant, like, assist.”
“I’m all about the ass,” June peered down her glasses straight at Andrew, his white cotton pants hugging his behind. Then she blinked back to Annie, “But I’m not your ass, lass.”
Annie’s mouth made an “O” while her furrowed brow made a “W.”
“‘DAAAAYAHUUUUURRRRUHHHHHAYY‘,” Andrew and Rachel settled on, breathing in unison.
“Yeah, that’s it, you got it. So ‘DAAAAYAHUUUUURRRRUHHHHHAYY‘ into jazz hands of doom at the magma, until Duffy makes you remember who you really are and you see the shape of the cat form in the molten crust and you cry yourself good, yeah?”
“Yeah!” Rachel awkwardly fist pumped.
“Yeah! And all dry on the ‘pay‘, ‘kay?”
As Andrew walked back, he put a hand to his throat and smacked his lips. “I’m dry, June…”
“Diet Pepsi, boss.” June produced a can immediately from her bag and held it out for him.
Annie’s eyes bulged.
“Oh, oh that’s nice…” After taking a swig, Andrew thrust the can back to June and pulled out his ringing iPhone, his ringtone now Meghan Trainor’s ‘Made You Look’. “Hey Faith…right, okay, umm…tentacle baby, I see…fairies are the worst…yeah, sure, no prob…”
“Back down the cliff, Annie,” June said. She turned her eyes toward the actress, eyes narrowing.
Annie was lost for words.
The Fairy Realm – Forest – Day
Kennedy trudged forward across the moss and vine-choked forest floor. Sunlight dappled over her face from the canopy far above. Every once in a while, she would find a clearing, but soon after the trees began again. Eventually, she stopped at the foot of a particularly large elm and looked from it to other nearby trees.
“Tabitha, am I going in circles?”
“It would be easier to discern whether you had strayed from the path if I knew the destination,” the voice on her phone pointed out.
Kennedy’s forehead pinched. She turned, leaning back on the bark. “You don’t happen to have a map of Fairyland, do you?”
“From whence would I have procured such an item?”
“I feel like your programmers could have left out the part where you throw shade at me,” Kennedy said. She fished a granola bar out of her jacket pocket, ripped it open, and took a bite.
“My speech patterns were not programmed, they are the result of my assimilation of centuries of watcher diaries and notes. And the proper term is not Fairyland, it is the Fairy Realm, or Tir-Na-Nog.”
“Yeah, OK.” Kennedy kept chewing, clearly not paying attention. “I figured there would be more, y’know, fairies in the Fairy Realm.”
She took another bite of granola and chewed twice. Then she stopped abruptly, mouth still full. The breeze had picked up. Then several figures shimmered into existence in a rough semicircle around her. They were all tall, lithe and appeared to be in their early twenties. All of them, men and women, were beautiful, and none of them wore many clothes. Quickly, she swallowed her snack.
The nearest figure stepped forward and said, keeping his voice quiet, “The Queen requests your presence.” Her eyes flicked briefly down to his six-pack, then back up to his face.
“Hi,” Kennedy said casually. “I was actually thinking, maybe you’d take me to my daughter. After we do that, if the Queen wants to talk, we can talk.” She shrugged.
“Invitations of the Fairy Queen may not be refused.”
“I kinda got that,” Kennedy said. She raised a hand, in it there was a ball of white fire. She tossed the ball at him, and he made no move to avoid it. For a moment, the fairy’s entire body went up in an incandescent flame.
Then the fire was gone, and the fairy seemed entirely unaffected. Kennedy gulped.
“Fairies are immune to most human–” Tabitha began to explain.
“Yeah-huh,” Kennedy said.
Then great black wings appeared behind each of the fairies. In the time it would have taken Kennedy to blink, two of them were on either side of her, grabbing each of her arms. She attempted to slip out of their grip, but she might as well have been struggling against cement.
A silver hood went over her head, and her guards led her away.
Behind them, Kennedy’s granola bar wrapper floated slowly to the ground. The first fairy that had spoken to her watched it fall, then leaned forward and picked it up with a small “tsk” before following.
The Fairy Realm – Great Hall – Some Time Later
When the hood was removed from Kennedy’s head, she sat at a long table, piled high with fruits and sweets. Each place was set with golden goblets and actually silver silverware, occasionally flashing in the light. She was in an enormous hall, its gilt, gabled ceilings far above her head. Hundreds of flickering candles lit the place. On the far wall, a huge mural depicted fauns, stags and centaurs, all dressed in armor, brandishing weapons. At the center, a glowing woman dressed in glass, her black wings flowing behind her, dominated the fresco.
At the head of the table, on a tall wooden throne inlaid with intricate silver designs, sat a beautiful woman who appeared at least fifteen years Kennedy’s junior. She bore a remarkable resemblance to the winged warrior depicted in the fresco. A mask of black lace framed her eyes and she wore a black dress that seemed to be made mostly of thin, interlaced straps of fabric. On her head, she wore a thin gold band.
“I would welcome you,” the woman said, each word bitten off carefully, or at least with great practice, “but you are not welcome. You were not invited.” She half-gestured with a single finger, and the fairy warrior who had removed Kennedy’s hood melted into the background before she could turn her head.
“I’m wacky that way,” Kennedy said. Her head swiveled, taking in her new surroundings. “You’re the Queen, I take it?”
“Yes,” said the woman. “Some of your kind call me Titania. Or Mab. But it has been many centuries since any of your kind came to the Seelie Court unbidden.” She gestured to the food on the table. “Please, help yourself.”
Kennedy looked at the spread in front of her, then said, “Nah, I don’t take candy from strangers.” She looked down at her unbound hands. “I take it you’re not worried about me just getting up, clocking you and walking out of here.”
“I am not.” The Queen’s piercing eyes regarded Kennedy through the holes in her mask.
“Yeah, OK.” Kennedy sighed, licked her lips, and stared right back at the woman. “You have my daughter.”
For several seconds, the Queen said nothing. Then she said, “I do not.” She rose to her feet, her movements preternaturally fluid. No human was capable of the grace with which she made even the slightest movement.
Kennedy blinked several times. “But…I don’t understand, if you–”
“She is not your daughter anymore,” the Queen said as she moved around one corner of the table and began walking past several empty, high-backed chairs toward Kennedy. “She is mine. She will be mine forevermore.”
Kennedy’s eyes grew murderous. “If you’ve hurt her, if you’ve touched one hair on her head, I’ll–”
“You will do nothing,” the Queen said, her words silencing Kennedy without her raising her voice in the slightest. She leaned over, strangely casual, and grabbed a gold goblet of wine from the place next to Kennedy’s. She took a sip, then pulled the goblet away, her lips a deeper red. “Spells are your weapons? I am spells. You seek knowledge in ancient tomes? My skin is a tome more ancient than your deepest dreams. You will do nothing. You do not even know what she is, do you?”
“I know I’m going to fucking kill you, you bitch,” Kennedy said. Her hands might not have been tied up, but they stayed fixed to the wooden arms of her chair.
The Queen reached out, pulled a small frosted cookie from a plate on the table, and took a bite. She held the remainder of the cookie out toward Kennedy. “You really should try it. The recipe is older than your species. You’ll never taste anything better.” Kennedy just glared at her. “Ah, fine,” the Queen said, and she pulled the cookie back and took another bite.
“So, what is this?” Kennedy said. “You’re expecting me to just go back to the world without Vanessa?” She shook her head, “You guys really don’t get humans, do you?”
The Queen sighed, a sound like tiny bells tinkling, and got back to her feet. “Returning to your world became an impossibility the moment you stepped foot in ours.” She popped the rest of the cookie in her mouth and then slunk back down to a seat on her throne, her legs crossed. “You wish to know what ‘this’ is? I am considering you. What I am considering is whether to snuff out your brief life like the tiny, flickering candle it is or whether to keep you, as a pet. Your sharp tongue intrigues me.” She sat back on her throne in such a way that her ample cleavage was particularly prominent. “I think perhaps I might find…other uses for it.”
Despite everything, Kennedy found herself tongue tied for a moment. Then she shook her head and pushed back her chair. “OK, that’s it.” She got to her feet and threw her arms wide. “You’re gonna kill me? Kill me. ‘Cause I’m not leaving here without Vanessa.”
The Queen regarded her, apparently dispassionately, for several long moments. Then she leaned forward and took another sip of wine. Only after she had placed the goblet back on the table did she say, “I cannot.”
Kennedy turned up her hands and extended each middle finger. “Hah!” She spun around, flipping the bird not just to the Queen, but to the handful of fairy guards leaning against the walls. They did not seem to care.
After her initial triumphant moment, however, Kennedy stopped to think. Her middle fingers retracted. Then she looked at the Queen and asked, “Why not?”
“You…may not understand,” the Queen said, as she casually sipped from her chalice. “Ah, you are a vampire slayer, yes? Vampires exist to extinguish life, to suckle from it until it diminishes and runs dry. We, the Sidhe, exist to sustain life, to nurture it. And so, no, I cannot simply take your life. Not without allowing you…a chance.”
She gestured to the table in front of Kennedy, and by the time the former slayer turned her head back, a small silver bell stood on a stand that had definitely not been there before. Kennedy sat down and looked at it.
“Indeed,” the Queen confirmed. “And you need only ring it once, and then you and the girl–”
“–may return to your world, and live out your impossibly short and boring lives.”
Kennedy kept her eyes on the bell, which briefly glinted in the candlelight. “You know I can’t.”
“But I can,” the Queen said. She rose again to her feet and walked along the side of the table opposite Kennedy. Her gaze drifted involuntarily from the bell to the Queen’s curves in her black, barely-there dress. “All you need to do is answer a question truthfully,” the masked beauty purred. She sat down across from Kennedy, crossing her legs again.
“Simple as that, huh?” Kennedy asked quietly.
“Simple as that,” the Queen repeated from behind her lace mask. “But if you lie, you will never leave this place, nor will she, and she will be raised to serve only me with all her heart, never knowing that you ever existed. You both shall remain forever in Tir-Na-Nog, the Land Without Iron, and you will forget that your daughter ever existed, and that your wife ever existed, and then you will forget even your name, and you will be nothing except that which I order you to be. Are you ready to proceed?”
She and Kennedy held each other’s gazes for a long moment, the Queen’s dark eyes somehow blazing into Kennedy, until finally the latter looked away.
“Tricksey Fairieses,” Kennedy said under her breath. Then, louder, “Go for it.”
“What would make you truly happy?”
Kennedy blinked and sat back in her chair. Her eyes darkened.
Kennedy and Kadin’s Cabin – Backyard – Day
Kennedy walked out of the backdoor of her cabin and into the sunlight, carrying a large pitcher, to the sound of children screaming happily. Marsha, Vanessa and Kelvin, the latter two appearing to be about five years old, were all in the kiddie-pool. Marsha nudged Vanessa with her nose, and Vanessa fell backward onto her butt in the water, laughing. Kelvin splashed Marsha with water, and the dragon used a wing to splash him back.
She smiled and watched them for a moment, until Kadin and Shannon came out of the house behind her, talking animatedly.
Kadin snaked her arms around Kennedy’s waist and put her chin on her shoulder.
“I told you they’d get along,” Kadin said.
“And you were right,” said Faith, sitting at the outdoor table on the deck nearby. She held out a plastic cup. “Is that lemonade?”
Kennedy sat down, pouring the pitcher into the cup. “Yeah, Nikki made it. It’s really good.”
“Look,” Faith said, as Kadin and Shannon sat down at the table with the two of them, “I know I’m always around her talking about how great she is, but I am her mom, you don’t have to–” She took a sip. “Actually, this is amazing.”
“Right?” Shannon agreed. “Who needs to be a watcher, she can just, y’know, make lemonade.”
“Can you picture her at the corner outside Council HQ, with her little Charlie Brown stand?” Kennedy giggled, and everyone laughed with her. She quieted down and looked back over at the two kids and the dragon playing in the pool. With a small smile, she took another sip.
The Fairy Realm – Great Hall – Resume
“And that’s what would make me happy,” Kennedy finished.
Slowly, a little like a cat, the Fairy Queen cocked her head and looked at Kennedy. She rose to her feet and put two black gloved hands on the table. She leaned over toward her, the bell on its stand between them, and suddenly Kennedy noticed the two black-feathered wings rising behind the Queen, great and powerful. They were there only for a moment, as if lightning had flashed, and then they were gone again.
The Queen lowered her face nearly to the level of Kennedy’s, then, quietly but with a sense of great finality, said, “Liar.”
She gestured with a finger, and the bell instantly melted into a puddle of liquid silver on the table below.
End of Act Five