The Fairy Realm – Great Hall – Resume
Kennedy’s breath caught, and then she realized that, somehow, the Queen was now behind her. The Fairy’s hands slunk onto Kennedy’s shoulders.
“The Sidhe have no souls, but just as we see the slightest flaw in a tree’s growth or the smallest shift in a stream as it strikes the pebbles in its bed, we can see yours with perfect clarity.” The Queen’s mouth was now millimeters from Kennedy’s ear. “Your soul, little human, has a shadow on it. Maybe some sliver of you would be happy, but there are other parts of you that wonder whether you should have ever had the child, whether you should ever have gotten married, whether you can ever forgive those that have betrayed you.”
As the Queen ran a finger slowly around the base of Kennedy’s neck, the deactivated slayer began to mouth words silently, the movement of her lips barely perceptible.
“In your youth, you were a great hero, you never wanted a family. Part of you hates it now. And even more, some part of you longs for death. It’s not even so deep in your soul. So much of you wishes for me to snap your neck and give you that sweet release of oblivion.” The Queen’s hand slipped around Kennedy’s neck and squeezed, just a little. The mouthed words faltered only for a split-second, and then Kennedy pressed hurriedly on.
“So, vampire slayer, you and yours are mine, forever.” The Queen’s hand moved to Kennedy’s scalp and ran over it possessively. “Like all humans, you are conflicted, impure, and so nothing, in this world or the next, will ever make you truly happy. But your soul is more…tainted than most.” Her breath played on Kennedy’s cheek. “I will find owning it…delicious.”
Then the Queen paused, and she seemed to notice for the first time the movement of Kennedy’s lips. She grabbed her by the chin, hard, with two fingers, and jerked her out of her chair to a standing position. She pulled still further, and the tips of Kennedy’s shoes could barely touch the floor. “More spells? I misjudged your wits, human. You cannot still believe you can harm me with your weak magic?”
“Not…you,” Kennedy growled between her teeth. “No one said anything about…your stuff…bitch.”
For the first time, a small crack showed in the Queen’s poise. She blinked, still holding Kennedy slightly aloft. “What do you mean?”
“Creare Ferrum,” Kennedy gasped out.
For a moment, the only sound in the Seelie Court was Kennedy’s heavy breathing. Slowly, the Queen raised one eyebrow.
Then she coughed. First once, then several times. Her grip on Kennedy loosened, allowing her to pull away. An unfamiliar look entered the Queen’s eyes – confusion. Within moments, the Queen collapsed to one knee. The coughs became deeper, breathing seemingly impossible. Her eyes found Kennedy’s.
“How?” the Queen managed between mangled breaths, pure rage in the single word.
“Reverse alchemy is way easier than the original,” Kennedy explained. “That’s first day of witch school stuff. Surprised you didn’t know that.”
The Queen’s gloved hands scrabbled at her head and removed the thin band of her crown. She looked at it and saw that it was no longer gold, but a dark gray.
“So much for your ‘Land Without Iron’,” Kennedy said with a smirk.
The guards, rushing forward, were on the pair now. Two pulled the Queen away protectively. The others moved toward Kennedy, but she simply dodged the first few attacks.
“Not as blurry with speed as before, I’m noticing,” she said. “Oh darn.”
She pulled a fork from one of the place settings and held it up. Its color changed, from shining silver to dull iron, in a moment as they watched. With an angry bellow, a fairy plunged toward her once again, but Kennedy moved out of the way, and he went sprawling onto the table, hands on the wood. She plunged the fork down into his hand, pinning it to the table. Dark blood poured from the wound.
Kennedy didn’t stop to watch the guard collapse behind her, instead grabbing a golden goblet, which turned into iron at her touch, and splashing the wine it contained into the face of the next guard. The fairy reeled back, screaming as the iron-tainted liquid ran over her face. Her features appeared to age and wrinkle before Kennedy’s eyes. Kennedy tackled her and rammed the goblet down on her nose, immediately knocking the fairy unconscious. She quickly pulled the guard’s silver sword from her hand, its blade darkening in color almost as she did so.
She spun around with the iron blade in her hand to face five more fairy guards.
“Anybody want a piece of Opposite King Midas?” she said with a wicked grin. The fairies blinked quizzically at her. “Seriously?” she asked. “I know you guys’re probably out of touch, but that’s about as uncurrent as my pop culture references get, sorry.”
Then she stepped forward, and each of the guards took a cautious step back, fear in their eyes. Kennedy grinned.
The Fairy Realm – Great Hall – Moments Later
The bodies of the guards were now strewn over the floor, and the Queen, her own features growing more aged and wrinkled by the moment, scrambled backward on her hands away from Kennedy. She slowly strode forward, her sword now stained in several places with dark fairy blood.
“If you kill me, you’ll never find her,” the Queen spat. “And my people will never rest until yours are erased from the Spheres.”
“True,” Kennedy said. She casually tossed the sword down with a clang, then knelt next to the cowering Queen. She grabbed the fairy’s hair and pulled her face toward her, hard. Then she raised her other hand to show the Queen that it held a teaspoon, now iron as well. “But I could scoop your eyes out with this, and let you live out your eternal life in the dark. I guess they might grow back, eventually. Let’s find out.”
She moved the spoon closer to the Queen’s face, and the fairy’s eyes widened in fear.
“Stop!” the Queen yelled in panic. “Stop! We could make an…alternate accord…”
Kennedy stopped, holding the spoon about an inch from one of the Queen’s eyeballs. “Great! Let’s make a deal!” she said a wide, fake smile.
The Fairy Realm – Nursery – Minutes Later
A fairy caretaker, her face dispassionate, leaned over the wooden crib in which Vanessa lay.
“So quiet, little one,” she said, “as if you already know your place.”
The sound of a commotion in the hallway drew the caretaker’s attention. The sound of metal on metal and shouting came through the thick wooden door of the nursery. Quickly, the caretaker gathered Vanessa, swaddled in her blankets, up in her arms.
Before she could move any further, however, the door to the nursery exploded inward in a wall of blue flame. A moment later, Kennedy walked through the opening, her boots thudding on the singed, crackling remains of the door. She held an iron sword in one hand and a ball of magic blue fire in the other. Her eyes were hard.
“Get the fuck away from my daughter, you bitch,” she growled.
Rosenberg-Allister House – Basement – Same Time
Alex walked down the stairs into the basement of the family home to the sound of atonal noodling on a keyboard. Once he was down far enough, he stuck his head over the railing to see Jen sitting alone at her instrument.
“Ma just texted,” he said, holding up his phone. “She says Mom’s on the plane back from Ireland and it’ll be a while, so…we’re doing TV dinners again.”
“OK,” Jen said sullenly, then played a few more notes on the keyboard.
“That’s not bad,” Alex ventured, as he finished descending the stairs. “What is it?”
“I figure if Platypus is going to be a thing we’ll need more of our own songs,” she said without looking over. “I call it, ‘I Know What You Did the Other Night,’ then in parentheses ‘(or Who You Did, Dumbass)’.”
“It’s about you,” Jen finished, finally looking over at Alex. “In case that wasn’t clear.”
Alex shook his head in confusion. “I-I didn’t…do…anyone?”
“It’s all over the internet!” Jen put a hand down on her keyboard, and a cacophony of several notes played at once. “You and that fucking lancer girl…I don’t understand how you could do this to me.”
Alex took a deep breath and put his hands on his hips. “I didn’t do it to you. It has nothing to do with you. And honestly, I don’t really feel like it’s any of your business who I do…I mean, hang out with.”
Jen got off her stool and walked over toward her brother. He stood his ground as she got closer, right up until he face was about a foot away from his.
“I’m going to say this once, so listen up,” she said, her tone quiet and dangerous. “You have really, really, really pissed off your sister, who happens to have superpowers. That was a really big fucking mistake on your part.”
He just stared at her. She shook her head in disgust, then turned away and started to walk up the stairs, out of the basement.
“If you saw the video, you know…” he called after her. “I’ve got superpowers, too.”
She looked at him for a second, then made a “pfft” noise and waved her hand dismissively. He watched her walk the rest of the way up the stairs and close the basement door behind her.
The Fairy Realm – Outside the Fairy Queen’s Castle – Day
Kennedy walked unmolested out of the open front gate of an ivy-cloaked stone fortress. Several spots on her face, arms and clothes carried red stains, but it was unclear how much of the blood was actually hers. Attached to her chest, in a baby bjorn, she carried a supremely chill Vanessa. The child regarded her surroundings with round eyes.
Several minutes later, they reached a small clearing in the surrounding forest, just out of sight of the parapets of the Fairy Queen’s hall. Kennedy sat down on a small, moss-covered rock, trying to catch her breath. Vanessa cooed.
Kennedy looked down at her daughter. She reached over and brushed Vanessa’s cheek with one finger. “Hi, baby girl,” she said softly.
As Kennedy started to pull her hand away, Vanessa reached out and grabbed her mother’s index finger. Kennedy blinked several times, tears welling in her eyes. A couple of big fat ones ran down her cheeks as her daughter gurgled.
Then a buzz came from her pocket, and Kennedy fished her phone out. She looked at the screen and saw the notification: “Two hours remaining on WatchR free trial!” She swallowed hard, then opened the app.
“Was the operation a success?” Tabitha asked.
“Yeah,” Kennedy said. “Kind of. I wasn’t sure if that spell we talked about would work. I have Vanessa with me.”
“Hello, Vanessa,” said Tabitha.
Kennedy gave her phone a dubious look that might have evidenced her being slightly skeeved out at the idea of an AI trying to talk to her daughter. Then she said, “But, uh, the Fairy Queen sort of melted the bell that was my only way out of here. Got any ideas?”
“As Mr. O’Shaughnessy is the only recorded human to return from the Fairy Realm to our world successfully, I am not aware of any alternative method.”
“You could have just said ‘no’.” Kennedy sighed. She looked at Vanessa, then said, “It’s OK, girl, we’ll figure it out.” She did not sound as if she herself was particularly convinced.
“If I may ask, Kennedy, what is the state of your food supplies?”
Kennedy blinked at this. “Uh, I didn’t bring any. Well, I had a couple granola bars I bought at the airport. But I ate one, and the other’s kinda…” She pulled an unidentifiable brown glob from her backpack. “…Smushed.”
“And how long will it be until dark where you are?”
Kennedy looked at where the sun hung in the sky, then cocked her head. “I have no idea,” she said finally.
“I would suggest…”
“Just…give us a couple minutes,” Kennedy said. She sat with Vanessa for a moment, then asked, “I know, are you hungry, mi hija?” She thought for a moment, and her voice grew slightly worried. “What were they even feeding you?”
She maneuvered Vanessa out of her bjorn and set it aside, then pulled aside her shirt and pulled her daughter close to her. For a moment, relief passed over her face as the baby latched on, but then tension seeped back into her features. A slight breeze played through her hair, and she stared straight ahead.
“How do I get us out of here?” she wondered out loud, as she looked down at her nursing daughter.
Then the sound of the wind changed, a slow, steady beating undertone entering.
“That sounds like…”
Kennedy looked around, her forehead scrunched, then raised her free hand to shade her eyes as she looked into the sky.
There, a small dot against the blue, she could make out the small, but unmistakable, figure of a winged dragon.
Several seconds later, Marsha landed in the clearing, a few yards in front of Kennedy. The dragon immediately trundled over to them on the rock and poked her head toward Kennedy.
She stuck out a hand, and Marsha rubbed her head on it lovingly. Kennedy found herself crying again, while simultaneously, finally, smiling.
“You found us,” she barely managed. “You found us!” That was when she noticed the dragon rubbing her head on the baby. “Yeah, you guys are sisters, huh? She’s the genuine article. But you knew, didn’t you? I believed you, but don’t hold it against Kadin, okay? She just didn’t see what we saw, but it’s gonna be okay…maybe…”
Then Kennedy seemed to realize something. She wiped her nose with the back of her hand, desperately trying to get her tears under control. “Wait, how did you find us? How did you even get here?” She stared at the affectionate Marsha for a few more moments, before raising her voice slightly and saying, “Hey Tabitha. Uh, my dragon that was in England came here. So…that happened.”
“I was unaware that you possessed a dragon.”
“It’s kind of a long story,” Kennedy replied.
Without further hesitation, Tabitha said, “Given its existence, your dragon’s presence in the Fairy Realm is perhaps unsurprising. These creatures possess magic that humans, to this day, do not fully comprehend. So it is possible it is able to traverse the borders between realms, should it so choose. Furthermore, as her caretaker, you are bonded to her in a way that other mystical creatures and humans are not. You can always find her via magic, and she can find you.”
“She flew from Devon,” Kennedy replied out loud, as if sorting out the events in her mind. “But how did she know that I’d be here or that I was on my way to the cliffs? And how did she–?”
“One question at a time, please,” Tabitha interrupted.
“Jesus, you are like a watcher,” Kennedy sighed. “Wait. New question…If she’s magical and can come and go, can we use her to get home?”
“It seems possible.”
Kennedy looked down at Marsha with new appreciation. “Well, that’s interesting.”
Devon Coven – Althenea’s Office – Hours Prior
Althenea paced nervously across the room.
“I gave my word we’d look after her. What do you mean she ‘flew away’ last night?” the witch asked, sounding very flustered.
“I’m sorry, High Priestess,” the groundskeeper apologized in a thick Cornish accent. “We’re searching for ‘er now. From the video, we know she went…North.”
“That sounds super specific,” Althena sarcastically replied. “Let’s try to narrow it down a bit more before I have all of Cleveland after my head, okay?”
Cliffs of Moher – Same Time
Marsha circled the area of the cliffs from above. It was then that she saw her target – Kennedy, a dot on the edge of the cliffs. She beat her wings faster, and on the horizon she could see Rowena and Kadin join Kennedy from afar. She watched as her mom leaped from the ledge and she increased her pace. Before she could reach her, though, she watched as three horse-like creatures appeared from out of the fog, their skins, manes and eyes flashing in iridescent, shining colors.
When close enough, the largest of the trio swung upward and caught Kennedy as she fell, then allowed her to ride it. The flying horses then turned to make their way through a swirling vortex. Marsha rushed forward, trying to make her way through behind the group, but the portal closed behind the group, and she found herself alone in the sky off the Irish shore. Marsha hovered a moment, her wings beating, sniffing the air. Then she flew forward again. With a small flash and a pop, the dragon disappeared as well.
The Fairy Realm – Clearing – Moments Later
Vanessa now back in her bjorn, Kennedy walked in a circle around Marsha in the clearing.
“I’d be too heavy for you,” she said finally. “There’s no way you could get off the ground.”
Marsha’s dispassionate look seemed to communicate that she thought this was obvious.
For several seconds, Kennedy kept pacing. Then she stopped and said, “Oh! Hey Tabitha, remember that time in the Slayer Games where there was an event with a dragon and they made her way bigger with magic?”
The way Marsha’s ears pricked up indicated that she remembered.
“Yes, at the first Slayer Games in 2007, there was a–”
“How did they do that?”
Sky Above the Fairy Realm – Minutes Later
Kennedy’s head rose above the clouds, Vanessa strapped securely to her back. Marsha was now a bit bigger than a horse, just the right size for Kennedy to wrap her arms around her neck and hold on for dear life. Her hair whipped behind her as Marsha’s two leathery wings flapped strongly.
The sea and sky spread out before them, the sun in the distance, just starting to set. Kennedy took a deep breath of the thin air. She wore a small smile.
She leaned forward slightly to speak to Marsha.
“Not everything sucks all the time, does it?”
The light in the sky around them formed into bands, then crashed over them like waves, moving faster and faster until the world was pure white.
Sky – Late Afternoon
Kennedy blinked her eyes to adjust as the light cleared. As soon as she was able to open her eyes, they grew very wide very quickly. The side of a heavily snowcapped mountain was directly in front of them, way too close. Marsha desperately tried to bank away, but couldn’t do so quickly enough.
Marsha righted herself at the very last moment, but still hit a relatively flat patch of snow on the side of the mountain at high speed. Marsha skidded along the ground, sending snow flying in all directions. As Kennedy hung on to her dragon’s neck for dear life, she noticed they were rapidly approaching the edge of a cliff. She scrunched her eyes shut, not able to look.
Finally, Marsha managed to stop about a foot short of the edge of the cliff, leaving a cloud of white behind her. Cautiously, Kennedy opened one eye. On her back, Vanessa laughed.
Mountain – Minutes Later
Kennedy finished pulling off her jacket and quickly wrapped Vanessa in it for extra warmth. Nearby, Marsha had dug a small hole in the snow and was repeatedly breathing small amounts of fire on a paltry amount of vegetation, but the frozen sticks refused to catch.
“I knew this was going too well,” Kennedy grumbled. Then she raised her voice slightly, loud enough that it echoed off the mountainside. “Hey Tabitha, any thoughts on where the hell we are?”
“Mount Shasta, Cascades Mountain Range, Siskiyou County, California.”
“So we’re on Earth.” Kennedy shivered and held her daughter close. “That’s something, I guess.” She immediately tried to dial her phone with no luck. Next, she tried to send a text that read “On Mt. Shasta, CA with Van and Marsha” but all she received in response was a “try again?” message. She sighed.
Tabitha trundled on unabated. “Mt. Shasta is a potentially active Stratovolcano at the southern end of the Cascade Range with an elevation of fourteen thousand, one hundred and seventy-nine feet, making it the second-highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth-highest in the state. It stands alone and is not connected to any nearby mountains within the region. Its extreme height pierces the clouds to the point that it creates its own weather, independent of the area. Sidenote: Nearby Petroglyph Point has some of the oldest hieroglyphics found on the continent.”
“I don’t need the tourist brochure, Tabs,” Kennedy groaned.
“I was merely pointing out an interesting point of scientific interest. And if I may inquire, is ‘Tabs’ an affectionate nickname for myself?”
Kennedy shook her head ruefully. Then stopped. “Wait. Go back to the part where we’re on a volcano. When was the last eruption?”
“However, lava flows have been sighted as recently as 2021.”
“That’s not good… Marsha, how about you give us a lift down–”
As Kennedy spoke, Marsha decreased in size before her eyes. In a few moments, the dragon was back to her usual size, about that of a large dog. Marsha looked over at Kennedy and huffed in annoyance.
“I’m thinking we should get out of here somehow,” Kennedy said. Holding the swaddled Vanessa in one hand, she shook out her other hand, as if loosening it up. Then she held it out in Marsha’s direction, closed her eyes, and mouthed words under her breath.
A few brief blue sparks sputtered from her fingertips, but that was all. Marsha regarded her wanly.
“It is unlikely that you will be able to re-enlarge your dragon for several hours, at the least,” Tabitha supplied. “You remain a relatively inexperienced mage and have likely performed more magic in the past twenty-four hour period than any other in your life. You should be proud of what you have already accomplished.”
“Thanks for the affirmation,” Kennedy growled sarcastically. “So I’m out of juice, and we’re stuck on the side of a frozen volcano?”
“In a word, yes.”
Kennedy closed her mouth and made several hard, fuming breaths out through her nose, the steam visible in the cold air. She looked down and saw that Vanessa seemed to be asleep.
Then she set her teeth and asked, her voice very level, “Tabitha, give me an assessment of other possible threats or paranormal activity.”
“Earthly threats include mammalian predators, such as bears, bobcats, mountain lions and coyotes. Paranormally, Mount Shasta is the site of reported possible lost civilizations, strange disappearances, possible links to interdimensional portals, which incidentally may be the cause of our current predicament, due to the links between ley–”
“Skip to the rest of the list!”
Tabitha obeyed. “Vortexes to other areas-slash-dimensions, such as Telos, and unidentified flying objects and humanoids. It is also home to the ‘I Am’ religious movement, which had a million followers at one point in the 1930s. Native tribes in the area say it is a spiritual center point. While the myths regarding the mountain vary among these tribes, they all mention one fact – visitors should stay below the tree line, for fear of a race of humanoids known as the Sky People.”
Kennedy took a few steps forward and cautiously peeked over the edge of the cliff. Far below her, a clear line of pine trees snaked along the side of the mountain, above which no trees grew.
“Well, shit,” she sighed. “Tell me more about these Sky People.”
“The Modoc tribe mentions the Matah-Kagmi, also known as Keepers of the Woods, which have a similar physical description to that of the colloquial Big Foot or Yeti. Others have called the giants Lemurians, named after the lost of city of Lemuria that some believe was once located on Mount Shasta.”
Kennedy looked over her shoulder. “Hey Marsha, you ever fought an abominable snowman from another dimension?”
Marsha stopped digging in the snow just long enough to glare at her.
Kennedy’s voice grew almost too quiet to hear over the piercing wind. “Tabitha, how long would it take us to climb down the mountain from here? At least to somewhere with cell service?”
“If we were able to find the formal trail usually used by climbers, an experienced mountaineer, which according to your profile you are not, might be able to make the trip in four to five hours during the day in high summer. With night coming on, without gear or warm clothing, and with a child–”
“I get it,” Kennedy said. She blew out one long, very visible breath, then said, “Well, I guess we’ll have to find somewhere to hole up until morning.”
“Your phone will likely be dead by morning, and the WatchR free trial will expire in–”
“I get it!”
Mount Shasta – Night
Kennedy lay on the bare rock, hugging a heavily wrapped, sleeping Vanessa to her. One of Marsha’s wings wrapped over both of them, as the dragon pressed its body up against Kennedy’s back in an attempt to warm them both. The dragon was also asleep, a fact made clear by her loud snores. With each hot breath, heavy puffs of steam blew from Marsha’s nostrils
The group huddled in what was more an alcove in the side of the mountain than a cave, but the overhang was just enough to keep out the snow and the worst of the wind.
While those on either side of her were sound asleep, Kennedy’s eyes were wide open, staring into the dark.
V.O., Kadin: “As far as I can tell, you’re always having problems these days.”
V.O., Tabitha: “An experienced mountaineer, which your profile indicates you are not…”
V.O., Fairy Queen: “Your soul, little human, has a shadow on it.”
Kennedy’s breathing became more rapid, as indicated by the increased frequency of clouds of steam blowing from her nose and mouth.
Suddenly, her breath caught. A hulking figure stood at the entrance to the alcove, silhouetted against the snow-reflected moonlight. It stood like a human, but it was at least eight feet tall and hairy, with arms that seemed a little too long.
“Marsha,” Kennedy hissed. The dragon did not stir.
Then several more figures moved into view behind the first.
“Marsha!” This time the dragon started awake and lifted her head. Seeing the ominous visitors, she growled.
Kennedy sat up and hurriedly pulled her bjorn over her shoulders.
“We don’t mean any harm,” she said to the new visitors, as she secured Vanessa with slightly shaking hands. “We came here by accident, we’ll be out of your, um, hair by tomorrow morning. I’ve had a really, really long day. Is there any way you could just leave us alone?”
The first figure stepped forward, revealing itself to be completely covered in white fur, with claws on the ends of its otherwise human-like fingers. It opened its mouth, revealing razor-sharp fangs, and let out a high-pitched howl. The sound was unearthly, hitting multiple haunting notes at once. A moment later, the rest of the Sky People joined with the first.
“I take it that’s a no,” Kennedy sighed.
End of Act Six. Onto the Final Act…