The month that followed after Freya and Locke's parting ways was a long, cold one. New York was heading into the winter season, and the air was already frigid, the sky almost always overcast. Though, thankfully, the sky didn't matter to the rebels, who'd made their base under the city in one of the closed off and abandoned sections of the city's subway system. Locke, along with Shea, oversaw the training and recruitment that went on, and planned the upcoming war with the human hunters and Zephyr's army.
Locke was leaning against a railing, looking down on the army he was building. He hadn't seen Freya in a month, maybe longer, nor had he heard from her. He'd gone past the point of worry. He hadn't slept a full night, or eaten a proper meal in weeks. He hadn't bothered to shave either, his face now adorned with a short, blonde beard, and the hair on his head longer and unkempt. He looked and felt so tired. He had put everything into his training.
Emily, Nelson, and Melody had spent the time training as well, under Shea's instruction and a few other trainers as well. Emily had become rather talented with firearms and short swords, and had even been gifted some clothing and armor items that would shield her against magic. Nelson was still clumsy, and usually helped in the kitchen more than in training, but he contributed where he could. Shea had paid close attention to Melody lately, Locke had noticed, and he wondered if there was something there between them.
Melody spotted Locke, brooding once again, and nudged Shea, pointing up to him. "Think we should, like, go talk with him?" Her body had hardened into muscle, and her nudge was a bit harder than she'd meant.
Shea stumbled a little bit to the side from Melody's nudge, then looked at her with a crooked smile. "Hey, watch the guns, big shot." she chuckled, rubbing her arm playfully. She looked back up at Locke and sighed, shaking her head of green curls. "I've tried. He won't talk to anyone. He's still so stuck on Freya."
"You know, sometimes, I like, wish I hadn't kissed him. Then he wouldn't remember and this would be a whole lot easier. Freya like, got all power hungry for her throne. So not the side I thought she would take." Mel had cut her blonde hair to an easier to manage mid neck bob, but still hadn't gotten used to the cut, and tried to whip her hair over her shoulder, resulting in an awkward hand twitch. After she realized her mistake, Mel shot Shea a sheepish look, but continued, "I guess, I just miss my friends."
Shea tossed Mel a look and gave her a reassuring smile. "I miss them too, Mel." she said softly, then nudged her. "C'mon. Enough training for today. Let's get some grub!" she called to the others around them, hearing them cheer. She glanced at Locke again, but he was gone now, having disappeared into his room again.
"If it's cool with you, I wanna like, log some time in with my bow. I've been practicing swords with Em, but like, stabbing someone doesn't feel the same as like, letting an arrow fly." Mel had picked up a wonderful talent for archery, easily surpassing the rest of the rebel army. It was easier for her to send an arrow flying and kill something long distance than it was for her to see the lights fade out of a victim's eyes. Unless of course, she was singing, but Locke had expressly forbidden her to do just that.
Shea tilted her head, then nodded in approval. "Alright, I'll spot you." she said and waved everyone else off, moving to grab Mel's equipment for her and offering it to her before leading her to where they had the range set up on one of the stretches of tracks. "Have at it." she said, leaning against a section of wall.
Mel took the bow from Shea and took an arrow from her quiver. At first, she had felt awkward with the bow in her hands. It was as tall as her shoulders, but it had a simple recurve design. With a sleek wooden handle that curved away from her at either end, a carved handle, and one single string Mel thought that it would have been easier to use than the more complicated compound bows, but she quickly found she was mistaken. Still, she was stubborn and soon shooting it felt as natural as singing, and almost as deadly.
She knocked an arrow and quickly let it fly, letting the sheer force of habit aim for her. Mel smiled when the arrow buried itself directly in the center of the bull's eye. Another arrow flew, hitting right next to the first, and then another. Mel looked arrogantly at Shea, showing off just a bit for her friend. It wasn't often that she was the best at something, and she fully intended on enjoying the sensation. "Watch this trick," she told her friend, and let one last arrow fly. It hit the original arrow right in between the fletching, splitting the shaft in half. Melody laughed triumphantly and took a little bow.
Shea smiled widely, clapping her hands loudly at Melody's adept skill with the bow. She was proud of her, really. It had taken an entire month, but that was better than most people after years of training. She stepped up to the target and pulled the arrows out, offering the split one to Mel. "I'll let you keep this one as an award." she said and tucked the other two arrows back into her quiver. "You've really come a long way. I remember when we first met, you were really shy and quiet, too afraid to speak let alone sing, and now look at you." she said with her hands on her hips and a grin on her face. "I'm proud of you."
Mel bowed dramatically, and then laughed. "Yea well, it's all thanks to you friend." She turned to shoot another arrow but there was a younger girl in front of the target. Melody didn't really recognize her, but she never really paid attention either. "Um like don't you know better than to like stand in front of a target?" She called. The girl stayed where she was, "I have a message for Mr. Locke. Where could I find him?" The girl asked in a very monotone voice.
Mel looked at Shea and then back at the girl. "We can like, deliver the message." Melody answered. The girl nodded, "tell Locke he has a guest in tactics room 2. It's urgent." After speaking the girl turned on her heels and left.
Mel looked back at Shea, "well that was like, weird."
]: "Yeah it was," Shea said lowly, coming up beside Melody. She put a hand on her shoulder and watched the girl walk away before saying, "well, it's urgent. I guess we'll go get him." she mumbled. She turned and headed up the service stairs to get off the tracks and onto the platform, then headed into the mechanics building where Locke stayed, going to the second floor. She banged her fist against his door a few times. "Locke! It's Shea and Mel!" she called. There was no answer at first, but Shea knew he was awake. "Locke, someone is here for you, they said it's urgent."
The door lock clicked open and Locke stepped up to them after the door swung open. "Who is it?"
Melody avoided his gaze. Things had been awkward between them since the kiss. "We had a messenger ask for you to like meet somebody in the tactics room 2" she answered.
"Yeah, we don't know who it is." Shea said with a shrug. "But they said it's urgent, so you should probably hurry."
Locke sighed, but nodded and stepped from his room. To keep them from going inside, he closed and locked his door, then looked at them. "Go eat something and turn in." he ordered. He then headed downstairs and towards tactics room 2, sighing a steadying breath when his hand connected with the door knob. He opened the door, and stepped in.
The room was dark, and there was a figure in a chair facing away from Locke. "I never thought of you as someone who would keep a guest waiting." The familiar voice said. A laugh followed, and Nate turned the chair around. "What did you think of that hello? Always wanted to try it." He smiled and approached the wolf. "I'm impressed with what you have done here. But I don't think you'll win the war with just this base. That's why I am here, to offer you the key you need to win."
Locke had been tense at the sound of a male voice behind that chair, but when he saw it was only Nate, he relaxed with an audible breath. "Nate... Jesus. I thought I was gonna have to fight someone." he mumbled, then actually smiled. Nate was the closest tie to Freya that he had now, and for the first time since knowing him, he actually felt happy to see him. "It's been a while." His next words gave him pause. "Key to win? And what is that, exactly? You?" he asked playfully.
"As you and I both know, the unseelie world will pull Freya in. Her goodness will be lost without you. I fear it is already happening. You need somebody welcome in the unseelie court, and I think that I could be that person. You see, since the werewolf revolt, vampires are in high demand, and our dear queen trusts me wholeheartedly. You need intel, and she needs a reminder of good. I offer my services." Nate explained.
Locke blinked, looking genuinely surprised, then slowly frowned. "Nate... that's really dangerous. If Zephyr finds out, you'll be as good as dead." he said softly. He then folded his arms over his chest. "What's your price? Why would you do this, other than to keep Freya from becoming something dark?
"What's in it for me? You mean other than living a life of luxury instead of living like a parasite? Being free to consume whomever I choose?" He looked at Locke for a moment, obviously not quite serious, "Well, that and I know that it's hard for you to believe, but I have known Zephyr for quite some time, don't forget that that is how I meant our dear Freya. I'm an old ally. It will be easy to convince the royal family that I am on their side once again." He leaned back in the chair, quiet now, giving Locke a chance to ponder his words.
Locke watched him still, looking still confused and surprised. Nate's words slowly began to sink in, and he narrowed his eyes. "Family? What royal family? All of Freya's court was killed by Roland and his hunters... Did Freya and Zephyr already get married?" he asked, frowning heavily.
"Not as far as I know. In fact, it doesn't seem that he's made an appearance yet. Another reason why I want to get to Freya soon." Nate leaned forward, putting his arms on his lap. "But it will happen Dog, You might as well get used to saying it."
Locke's lip curled in a dangerous snarl. "No. I will die before I let that happen." he growled. "I will die on the battlefield of his war before I let him have her." He began to pace a little, his breathing heavy as his inner wolf threatened to come out. "Is that why you came here, Nate?! To fucking piss me off?!"
Nate rolled his eyes. "If you are going to be this sensitive perhaps you should have someone else lead the rebellion. I have far bigger priorities than angering you. Your queen is no longer yours." Nate stood his face a breath away from Locke's. "The sooner you learn that the sooner you can fight this war."
Locke turned on Nate, his hands raising with claws out, ready to rip him apart. But he held himself off, his fingers instead curling into fists, and he growled lowly, his blue eyes sharp and icy on Nate. "Freya is not my queen," he rumbled threateningly, "she is mine." He turned away from Nate, heading for the door. "I have to see her." There was no question about it. He had to see her, he had to make sure she remembered who he was, that she still loved him like he loved her.
Nate rushed to the door, blocking Locke from leaving. "Get a hold of yourself." He hissed. "You are the only thing keeping this war alive. Without you they might as well die. The only chance of bringing her back is for you to win, otherwise she'll kill you and the rest of them."
Locke towered over Nate, surpassing him in height and muscular girth, and he bared sharpened fangs. "I am not the only one keeping this war alive! Every magic being in these tunnels believes in this cause and they will keep the fight alive with or without me. Shea was leading them long before I was. The only reason they follow me now is because they know I have ties to Freya." Nevertheless, he backed down from Nate, turning away from him and breathing deeply to get himself in control again. He ran his hands over his shaggy hair and beard and growled to himself. "I miss her, Nate... I have to see her... or at least hear from her again. I have to hear her voice."
Nate stood his ground, knowing full well he was faster and more levelheaded than the angry wolf. "I would be shocked if you didn't miss her. But walking into that castle would be a death sentence and you know it. Don't waste your life. "
Locke sighed, shaking his head. "I know. I know... but what can I do? I have to know she still loves me." he sighed, moving to the table where tactics and maps were laid out. He put his palms on the table and frowned down at it, then raised his head and turned to Nate. "You could take a letter to her for me!"
"Now you're using your head. Hurry though, I would like to be gone before any one recognizes me. The sooner I can leave this place the better. Remember, nobody knows that I am on your side. Our friends will hate me, but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make." Nate spoke rapidly.
Locke nodded and quickly grabbed a piece of paper and a pen, starting to write out a note to Freya in fast, but neat handwriting. He pulled out a photo from his pocket--one of their many memories from his black box--and folded it up with the note. He put it in an envelope and offered it to Nate. "Be there when she reads it and make sure she burns it afterwards. We can't risk Zephyr finding it." he said, biting his lip sadly.
The vampire took the note and slipped it into his pocket, nodding. "It will all work out in the end. Trust me." He patted Locke on the shoulder, and gave him one last, sad look. "I know it's hard. But I have faith that the right side will win." With that, Nate took his leave. Too bad it won't be your side Mutt
Locke watched Nate go with a heavy frown, feeling his heart sink. He wanted so badly to see Freya, and he hoped he got to do so in an event other than battle. He left the tactics room and moved back to his own room, flopping down onto his bed with a heavy sigh.
Emily hummed around her spoonful of gumbo and rice, chewing it happily and then taking a big bite of corn bread. As Nelson finished serving everyone and came to sit with them, Emily beamed at him. "Nelson, your food is amazing!" she said excitedly. "I had no idea you could cook this well!"
"Yeah, well... it's a hobby, I guess. Or it might have been before I died. I can't remember." Nelson shrugged modestly with a smile. "Kinda ironic, considering I can't eat it. I tried once, and it didn't work out so well, seeing as I can't physically digest food anymore. I guess I just got lucky that the old cook quit." He smiled at her, then at Shea and Melody. "How are you liking your fish tacos, ladies?
Mel answered with a nod, her mouth full of food. She swallowed, and then smiled, "I think I prefer it raw...but this is really good. Although, I'm not,like, quite sure how I feel about somebody who's like, decaying making my food." she laughed and took another bite.
"Oh, don't worry, I'm REALLY careful about cutting stuff, so I don't lose a digit in the stew or anything, and as far as I know, I'm not leaking anywhere." Nelson joked with a laugh, making Emily giggle. He smiled at her, then sighed. "You know, Emily, your laugh is enough to make a man wanna blush. Fortunately, my blood isn't running." he said.
Emily blushed deeply and smiled at him. She had become more confident with her training as well, and it had done a lot to change her personality to something bolder and more flirty. "Thank you, Nelson. You're really sweet."
Mel looked back and forth between the pair, and giggled. "Do you guys like, want us to leave you alone?" She wiggled her eyebrows at them teasingly.
Emily and Nelson both blinked at Mel in confusion at first, then Emily blushed and Nelson coughed, looking away. "No, Mel, don't be cheeky!" Emily said, ignoring Shea's grin. She took another bite of her gumbo to shut herself up, her cheeks pink.
"Awww cute. She's like, blushing." Melody teased, getting up from the table. "Shea, let's go find Locke and see like, what his visitor wanted and give these two the alone time they're like, craving." She pinched Emily's cheek in a joking manner, and placed her now empty plate in the sink.
Emily sputtered a little, watching Shea get up and follow Melody. Shea chuckled at Melody and nudged her as she followed her. "You're cruel." she whispered. "I mean, really... Nelson is a literal walking corpse. I seriously doubt they're gonna be hooking up anytime soon. She'd have to get past his stink and melty flesh."
Melody shrugged, grinning. "I just like, call it as I see it."
"I guess," Shea said with a small grin. She watched her a moment, then grabbed her arm, pulling her aside once they were out of the mess hall. "Hey, I wanna talk to you." she said and led her up the stairs into her own private little room. She closed the door and locked it, then turned to Melody and smiled gently.
"Sure, like is everything okay?" Mel asked, puzzled. Shea had been acting kinda strange lately. "Oh my god, are you like, pregnant?"
Shea blinked, her eyes going wide a moment, then she shook her head quickly. "Uh, no." she chuckled, moving towards Mel slowly. "No, I just wanted to talk to you about something. I kinda need your advice, I guess... See, I really like someone here in the base..."
Mel perked up at the idea of gossip, "oh my gosh, like, seriously? How did you meet him? Do I know him?"
"Well, firstly, it's not a him. It's a her." Shea admitted with a smile and a blush, taking another step towards Mel, her green eyes watching her intensely. "And you do know her, yes. I met her in the water one day after she chased me down." she chuckled, recounting their first encounter.
Melody looked confused, and yet amazed. "Wow. That like, really happens to you a lot doesn't it? Maybe you should like, be more careful." She advised sincerely. A siren went off, and it startled Melody. "Oh my god. Are we like, under attack?"
: Shea started at the siren as well, listening to it closely before she growled. "Maybe." she said. She then grabbed Melody's head in both hands and kissed her quickly on the lips, before telling her, "Grab your bow," and then running from the room. She had a set of spears made especially for her, which she grabbed from where they were leaning against the wall. She ran down the steps to the map, a small yellow light blinking to give away the exact location of where the siren had been activated. "Train depot!" she shouted at everyone, but before anyone else started that way, a roar sound from the second level.
Locke leapt from the balcony of his room, landing on his feet easily and then breaking into a four-legged sprint towards the source of the alarm. Everyone instantly ran to follow, save for the back squad, which currently consisted of Emily and a few others to guard the base.
Melody had a hard time focusing, taken by surprise at Shea's kiss. " She like is totally messing with me. " she thought as she let arrows fly into the cloud of purple grey smoke filing the air. "What exactly are we fighting? I can't see anything!"
"It's a smoke bomb! Just stay back!" Shea shouted at everyone, even as Locke ran headlong into the smoke, barking angrily, and eager to release a lot of pent up tension and blood lust.
Melody watched Locke run into the smoke "WE CAN'T LET HIM GO ALONE!!!" she yelled back, already knocking an arrow and running back. "SHEA! EMILY!!! NELSON! COME ON!"
It had been two weeks since her night with Locke, and life was a whirlwind for Freya. She had forgotten a lot of the Unseelie customs, but her advisors kept her from making too many mistakes. Soon, she hardly needed their help.
For Freya, it didn't quite sink in that this kingdom was in her hands until the day she had to dole out punishments. The morning had gone by easily, petty crimes and the like. Mostly she just ordered the criminals pay a fee matching their crimes.
Freya remembered when they called his name. The guards all drew their swords and the crowd watching was ghastly silent. Freya swallowed hard, but kept her composure, not knowing what to expect.
Five guards brought the man to the center of the room, where all the criminals stood. They forced him to his knees in front of the queen, keeping a sword at his back at all times.
"What is your name?" Freya commanded, and motioned for the man to stand. He ignored the queen, and she asked again.
"Your queen asked you a question," one of the guards growled, throwing a kick into the Fae's side.
The man looked at her menacingly. His skin was a pale blue, his face all edges and angles. He had white hair, matted from days in a cell. His handsome clothes were in tatters, and there was blood spattered across his front. "Rommus," he answered back through gritted teeth.
"What are you accused of?" She replied, keeping the eye contact even though it felt like he was reading her soul and learning her deepest secrets.
When he didn't answer, a guard stepped forward, "He stands accused of aiding the rebellion."
"Aiding the rebellion? How so?" Freya asked the guard, but Rommus spoke first.
"You may sit upon that throne, but you are no queen. You bring dishonor to the Unseelie court and it would be my pleasure to destroy you. If that means helping the rebellion, then I will. We will come into your kingdom and destroy everything you love. We will flatten your villages, and burn your cities. When we've finished with your kingdom, we will come to your castle, and we will kill every Fae sworn to protect you. And when we finish with them," Rommus stood and approached the queen, "I will personally see to it that I take you and sell you to the highest bidder. I hear you've got yourself a talent for spreading your legs to other species. You'd probably enjoy it!" He turned to the court, "Lay your eyes upon your slut queen!" He yelled, and the crowd gasped and the guards drew in closer.
Freya stood, her blood boiling. "Face me!" she commanded Rommus.
He turned, a sneer on his face. "Do my words sting? You are quite the joke among the rebellion. After all, a certain werewolf of yours loves to tell stories about how you squirmed underneath him. He does quite a good impression."
The crowd was quite loud now, murmuring about Rommus's words. Freya stood silently in a blind rage. She took a dagger from her belt, and drove it into his throat. The blue Fae's eyes widened as he realized what she had done, his breath gurgling as his lungs quickly filled with blood. Freya shoved him down with a now bloodstained hand, and he laid bleeding as she spoke. "If the rebellion wishes to make a mockery of our kingdom and of your queen, let's show them just why we are not a joke." She was standing in a pool of blood now, her eyes wild. The crowd cheered, and she smiled a sinister smile. "I need five hundred volunteers to destroy every last person in the rebellion. You will get the blood you deserve! We can not let them destroy our kingdom, and kill our families!" She yelled, egging the crowd into a blood thirsty frenzy. This was what it meant to be queen. Nobody would ever question her rule again.
The room went dark, and silent. The vast change so suddenly was eerie. One man was approaching the scene, clapping slowly. The crowd parted easily for him, and Freya's heart beat in terror. "Well said, my love. And might I say, crimson looks ravishing on you."
Zephyr was back.
"Remember, don't kill unless you must! Disarm and detain first and foremost!" Shea shouted at the rebellion warriors around her.
Locke had insisted that he wouldn't kill a single Fae that followed under Freya. After all, many of them had been his friends once upon a time. But the smoke was so thick now, Shea couldn't see much... She looked around, then noticed a water pipe in the wall, and she ran to it, turning the spigot wheel and watching as water gushed from the pipe and onto the floor. As it soaked the dirt and gravel at their feet, it washed away the source of the smoke, and helped dispel the smoke already in the air. Just as the smoke was starting to clear, and bodies could be seen, arrows were suddenly flying into the rebellion's bodies, people screaming as they were struck. There was a menacing roar from Locke somewhere within the smoke, and Fae bodies started to fly, being knocked back and forth by the massive werewolf.
Shea cursed under her breath. Their people were dying while Locke insisted that they only detain the attackers? How was that fair? They had to find a way to contain all the Faes at once. She looked up at the train depot's control room, and she grinned before finding Mel with her eyes. "Mel! Get your ass to that intercom and start singing! NOW!"
Melody nodded, and released the arrow she had nicked without watching where it went. She heard a zap and knew that her stun arrow had hit an enemy. She ran as fast as she could, dodging individual fights trying to get to the intercom. She stopped dead in her tracks as a giant troll like man blocked her path.
"Pretty blondie." He picked her up easily under his arm and took her in the opposite direction. With her arms pinned there was only one thing Melody could think do to: She started to sing. The troll man set her down with a frown on his face. "No sing, pretty blondie! No sing!" He hit her across the face and knocked her out cold, picking her slumped body off of the floor. The troll man brought her to a small room. "Boss. Brought pretty blondie to you! I do good!" He exclaimed happily.
Nate looked at the troll apathetically. "Yes, yes. Good job. Did you slit her throat?" He asked. When the troll shook his head Nate groaned in frustration. "I know you're a halfwit but would you at least try to have a brain? She's a siren. Her only power is her voice. You must get rid of it." He knelt by her unconscious body and took her head into his lap. Nate traced his index finger along her throat and, with a dagger sharp nail, punctured her skin. He drew a deep line across her throat, and satisfied that she was wounded enough to not sing, stood licking her blood off of his finger. "Leave her here. Get back to the battle. I must take my leave." The troll man nodded, and Nate swiftly left the base, heading back to Freya.
Shea cursed loudly as she battled off one Fae after another with her spear and fists, but the longer she waited to hear Melody's voice over the intercom, the more nervous she became. Where was she?! She growled and hit a Fae hard across the face with the staff of her spear, then kicked him away from her, before breaking into a run towards the control box. Melody was nowhere to be seen. She frowned deeply, starting to feel very worried now. "Mel!" she shouted, running down the halls. She saw a troll come out of a small room off of the tracks and she glared at him. He was too far from the other battles to not be suspicious. She held up her spear and snarled at him, her green hair falling around her face before she ran at him with a war cry.
The troll man snarled at the green haired girl, but stood his ground. He roared a mighty roar across the battle, "Fight over. Boss say retreat!" After he roared, he turned and ran, most of the enemy army following suit, trampling rebel corpses as they ran.
Shea skidded to a stop, blinking at the troll just running away from her, and she gaped as the other Fae's--an army well into the hundreds--suddenly retreating. She yelped and moved out of the way of the stampede of bodies, holding her spear up in self defense, then stared after them as they vanished from the tunnels. "What the fuck was that?" she asked herself softly. She then seemed to remember what she was doing and moved quickly into the small room the troll had come from. She stopped in her tracks when she saw Melody on the floor, bleeding with her throat slit. "No..." she breathed, then ran to her. "NO! Mel!" she yelped, pulling her head and shoulders into her lap carefully, cradling her. "Mel... Mel, it's gonna be okay..." she sniffed, stroking her hair and the bruised side of her face.
Locke appeared in the doorway next, having heard Shea's shouts. He frowned heavily at the sight of Mel on Shea's lap and moved to sit beside her, putting a hand on her back. "I'm sorry, Shea." he said softly.
"No! Don't touch me! I'm a mer, I can heal her!" Shea snapped, shrugging Locke's hand off her back. "I need silence, I have to concentrate. Just let me heal her..." she sniffed. She watched Mel's sliced throat with hardened eyes, concentrating as hard as she could. It had been a while since she'd done this, but she remembered how. She then lifted her hand and ran it across Mel's wound, watching it close in a zipper-like fashion, her blood smearing across her hand and throat. Once that was done, she simply cradled Mel, trying to feed energy to her, kissing at her head and rocking her gently.
"Why are you here?" Freya asked Zephyr cautiously. Zephyr smiled at the queen, "My darling, I love you, and I've missed you terribly since you left." His tone was kind, something Freya didn't remember. She laughed disbelievingly. "You love me? You missed me? Please Zephyr. You tortured me. I used to be afraid of you, but I'm a queen now. I have no more fear." She replied bravely, turning her back on him and walking out of the room.
"Freya, I don't want you to be afraid of me. I want you to be my queen, like you were meant to be. I want to protect you from those that would poison you against me." Zephyr was following her down the hall, and servants were hiding as quickly as they could when they saw the pair coming. "Do you honestly remember a time I ever hurt you? I'll admit, I've made some mistakes, but I was young."
Freya stopped in her tracks. When she thought about it, all she could remember about Zephyr was how sweet he was. She remembered vaguely he had a terrible rage, but could never remember a time when he did anything with it. Zephyr grabbed her hand, "I know about the wolf, and your relationship with him. It's okay. He pressured you, didn't he?" Zephyr pulled her close, "I know how he guilted you into sleeping with him Freya. I know that you are innocent. You're still pure to me."
Freya pulled away, confused. "I made my own choices Zephyr. I slept with him. I love him. Not you." She pulled away from the fae, holding her arms. Zephyr pulled her around to face him, "Freya. He spent how long telling you you had to hide who you were? Keeping you from your people? From using magic? Your family was destroyed by the very rebellion your werewolf is now leading. He didn't even let you say goodbye. You think that is love? Freya, I know that the wolf has been filling your head with lies about me for years, but please, please forget him. I never wanted you to be anything other than the queen you were meant to be. He kidnapped you Freya. He kept you from your family. He filled your head with lies about our world. Now you remember how wonderful this world is. If the wolf lied about that, who's to say he didn't lie about me?" Zephyr spoke earnestly, his eyes pleading with her. "Please Freya."
Freya blinked slowly, trying to comprehend everything Zephyr had told her. Zephyr was evil, Zephyr wanted to destroy everything. But, his words made rang true in her heart. Her brow was furrowed, but she nodded slowly. "You're right." is all she said. At her words Zephyr smiled, and pulled her into an embrace.
"If you really believe that, there's someone I have for you to meet."
Shea watched Melody's sleeping face with a stoic expression. Her hand was closed around Mel's, her thumb stroking her knuckles lightly. Locke was leaning against the doorway, his arms crossed, and Emily and Nelson were both sitting in chairs nearby.
"She'll be alright, Shea..." Locke said softly. "C'mon, let's get you some water."
"No," Shea said softly, but the word stuck firm in its simplicity.
"Shea," Locke sighed, rubbing his eyes. He'd had no choice but to tell her that he'd smelled Nate on Mel when they'd found her. Ever since then, Shea looked like she had a hunger for revenge.
"Maybe Nate didn't do this, I mean... he's on our side." Emily piped up hopefully.
Shea stood up, facing Emily dangerously. "Is he really?! He's a blood sucker, Em, a leech. He is only interested in keeping his food source--you succulent little humans--around. He's a parasite! One that needs to be squashed."
"B-but... I just mean, the troll was in there too, right? Maybe Nate was there to save her?" Emily risked suggesting, glancing between Shea and Locke.
"Have you ever met a troll, Emily?" Shea asked in a growl. "They're big, cumbersome, accident-prone, and stupid."
Emily was about to speak up, but Locke intervened. "No, Shea is right. There isn't a single troll on this planet with the dexterity or knowledge to slice Melody's throat like that. It was deep enough to damage her vocal chords, but precise enough to keep her alive. Even with Shea's healing, Melody will be lucky to speak again... but she'll never sing again. That gives us a major disadvantage in this war." he explained solemnly, glaring at the ground. He had only an hour before the attack given Nate the letter and photograph to give to Freya. Now he wondered if she would ever see it. He just hated himself for trusting Nate now. He should have known that Nate would be against them. "I'm sorry. This is my fault. I should have known better than to trust him. I'll set it right, I promise." he said seriously.
The burn in her throat was the first thing Melody remembered. There were people talking, about her... and Nate? Somebody was holding her hand. She heard the words "never sing again." Had she been hurt in the battle? She swallowed and pain shot through her body, her eyes darting open from the shock. Adrenaline coursed through her veins and she jumped to her feet, reaching for her bow... which was gone. She threw a punch and it connected with somebody's nose, and she fled.
Shea cried out, cradling her nose as it began to bleed. She winced, and when Locke went to go after Mel, Shea held her hand out and cried out a muffled, "Nno! I'll go." She pinched her nose and flinched at the pain, blinking the colors from her eyes, before running after Melody quickly. "Mel! Mel, come back!" she called.
Mel stopped dead when she heard Shea's voice, breathing a sigh of relief. So she was safe. She turned, and seeing the blood dripping from Shea's nasal passages, realize that it was her face Mel's hand connected with. "I'm so sorry." Melody tried to say, but nothing but a harsh rasp came out of her mouth. She grabbed at her neck, feeling the scar and grasping the seriousness of her injury. She looked at Shea for an explanation with pleading eyes, unable to ask her question.
Shea, gulping back a throat full of blood from her pinched nose, took a cautious step towards Mel. "You ngot quite da right hoong." she said and unpinched her nose with a wince. "Don't freak out," she said as her bleeding nose started to heal slowly. "Nate cut your vocal chords... We don't know if he was trying to kill you or not, but he definitely made it so you can't sing." she explained.
Melody's eyes widened at Shea's words. She gulped, and it felt like fire blazing through her throat. No, it was just a wound. It would heal. Shea was just exaggerating. Mel shook her head at her friend, and went back to the room she ran from. Somebody would have answers. She was a siren, her voice was the only thing that mattered. If she couldn't sing, she'd might as well die. Mel took a deep breath through her nose and stepped into the room.
Shea had followed her, albeit she kept her distance from her, and once in the other room, Locke, Emily and Nelson all looked up at Melody. Their faces were full of concern, guilt, and sympathy. Locke's face was the most forlorn, and he uncrossed his arms and moved to her. "Melody... I'm sorry." he said seriously. "I didn't know Nate couldn't be trusted."
"None of us knew," Emily added, standing and moving towards her, her grey-green eyes soft. "We're all sorry, Mel."
Melody opened her mouth to reply, but then shook her head and started searching the room. When she couldn't find what she was looking for she gestured at Shea for a pen and paper. Things just weren't adding up and she needed her questions answered one way or the other.
Shea instantly understood and managed to find the things Mel asked for, giving her a pad of lined paper and a pen, offering them to her. Emily and Nelson both sat back down, and Locke and Shea watched over Mel's shoulder as she wrote out her first message.
The first thing she wrote was to Locke. "You knew Nate was here?" she scribbled. The next thing she wrote was to the rest of them, "If He really couldn't be trusted, and he had me out cold, why didn't he kill me?"
"We don't know why he didn't kill you." Locke said, shaking his head. "Then again, he might have. He sliced your throat pretty deep, from one side to the other... maybe you're alive because Shea got to you in time." he shrugged. "As for knowing that he was here... I knew because I smelled him in the air and on you. But also... he was here to see me. We had a discussion about Freya." he explained seriously.
Mel shook her head again, scribbling more. "Details Locke. I deserve them." She was tired of everyone giving half answers. Her identity was gone and they owed it to her to explain everything.
Locke looked at Mel after he read her response, then looked at everyone else in the room. They were all watching him, obviously also waiting for answers. He sighed heavily through his nose, and looked at the ground. "Nate came to tell me that he's working as a double agent... He was going to keep an eye on Freya for me... deliver a letter to her. Try to keep her light. If she goes dark, we're all as good as dead." he explained, then glowered at them seriously. "Now I'm very sure he's double-crossed us all."
The siren scribbled again, It just doesn't feel right. There's gotta be an explanation. She chewed on the end of her pen lost in thought. She ran a hand through her short hair, and suddenly felt selfish. She scribbled again, Did anyone else get hurt?
Emily and Nelson's eyes downturned sadly, and Locke sighed heavily through his nose. "We had quite a few casualties," he said gravely.
"Yeah, and all of their fucking guys survived because puppy love over here didn't want us to kill any of them." Shea grumbled, crossing her arms.
"I've already counted the bodies. We only lost twelve."
"ONLY? Oh, that's a relief. Twelve innocent beings are dead before we even have a real fucking battle." Shea snapped.
Melody nodded. 12 people died because we were afraid. If they're going to kill us...if Freya is going to kill us, we have to be ready to kill her. They took my voice. I'm done playing nice."
Locke read Melody's note, and glanced between Shea and the blonde siren. He seemed to be considering their words, and finally sighed and nodded, standing up straight. "Alright. I'll make an announcement to the army... if you feel the need to kill, then do what you must."
Shea watched him closely, and she could tell by the look on Emily's face that she was thinking the same thing as her. "You're still not going to kill anyone, are you?"
Locke shook his head seriously. "I am not threatened by any Fae's or other magic creature. There's only one that I want dead enough to kill him myself: Zephyr. I won't stain my claws with anyone else's blood but his." he growled.
Melody scribbled furiously. "So you'll let them kill us. You'll let the TORTURE us, and maim your closest friends but you won't do the same. You might as well join them because you're useless here." She was livid. They took her voice, and they killed her friends. How dare he play it nice? She stood, and stormed out silently.
Everyone in the room watched her go, and Shea stepped up to Locke. "She's right. You need to pick, once and for all, which side you're on." she growled. "Because I won't risk any more lives like that again. Nelson, you're in charge of burying the dead. Make sure they get nice, clean, clearly marked graves. We'll have a service for them all later tonight." She shot Locke another dangerous look, then shoved passed him and after Mel. Nelson left the room after them, and now Locke and Emily were alone.
"Now, Your highness, this person is someone you've already met. Think of it as.... a surprise visitor." Zephyr smiled, and grabbed her hand. Freya nodded, and Zephyr opened the door.
"Freya! I've missed you." Nate approached the couple as they entered his chambers. Freya grinned, and hugged him. "Where have you been?" She asked the vampire.
"Convincing the rebellion I'm going to be a spy for you. Your highness, do you know the things they say about you and your kingdom?" Nate asked her, concerned.
Freya shook her head, "No, Nate. Locke wouldn't say anything bad about me. He loves me." She knew what the criminal Rommus had said, and she had heard Zephyr's words, but she needed to hear it from a friend. Nate avoided her eyes and answered, "It's true Freya, Locke doesn't love you. He only ever saw himself as your slave. He yearned for the chance to break you and he got it. I'm truly sorry." He bowed deeply, and Zephyr grabbed her hand. Freya looked at her Fae prince, her gaze grief-stricken, "How could he do this to me?" she asked.
Zephyr shook his head, and Nate was suddenly very interested in his feet. She spoke again "How could he pretend to love me after everything we've been through?" Her heart didn't feel broken anymore, but it felt like it didn't even exist. She looked at Nate, and then at Zephyr.
"I'm ready for you to be my king, Zephyr. I'm sorry I ever doubted you."
Locke frowned deeply at the ground, then slowly turned to face Emily. "Do you agree with them?" he asked her softly.
Emily's lips thinned a moment, then she stood from her seat and moved towards him. "Does my opinion matter that much?" she asked gently, and not in the least way sarcastically or rhetorically.
"Of course it matters. I consider you one of my closest friends now, Emily. You have been through so much with us... for us. You may be human, but you have the heart of something not so. You have sympathy for us... you feel for us, no matter what we are. So of course I value your opinion."
Emily gave him a grateful, but sad smile, her hands clenched tightly against her chest. "Locke, I don't need to know which side you're on. I knew from the beginning that there was only one side for you, and that was with Freya. Not against us, but not against her. You just want to be with her, and I'm sorry it's so difficult." she whispered. She reached up and stroked some dirt from his cheek bone, her fingers feeling his scruffy beard, outgrown and shaggy. "I mean, look at you... you look like shit, and nothing could do this to you more than love." She giggled a little, and he gave her a weak smile. "I know how badly you want to see her."
"I thought Nate would help me. I thought... I thought he was my friend. I mean, I know we hated each other in the beginning, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised. He cares for Freya more than he'll ever care for me, and he will do whatever he thinks is best for her safety. Even if it means killing me." Locke sighed heavily, moving to sit down. He rubbed his face, then folded his hands in front of his mouth. "I just want to see her. I want to tell her I love her. I want to get a message to her somehow..." he whispered. "But if I go in there, they'll kill me."
"Without a doubt," Emily agreed softly, watching him sadly. The silence in the room grew heavy around them as they were both lost in their thoughts, and Emily's eyes studied Locke's face. Then she seemed to get an idea and she announced it: "Let me go."
Locke raised his head to her and then shook it fervently. "I can't do that. You would be put in too much danger, Emily, you're only human. They'll kill you too."
"You don't know that for sure. Freya is my friend, too. She might stand up for me and listen to what I have to say. If it gives us even the slightest chance of getting through to her, then I think it's worth a shot." Emily insisted, watching him with big eyes. She was terrified. But she wanted to do this. "Please, let me do this for you. Write her a message... I'll take it to her, I'll relay anything to her that you want."
"What if you don't get to her? What if you don't come back?"
"Then at least I tried."
Locke studied her face, and he could see her determination. He could smell her nerves too, but she seemed so sure. "Are you absolutely sure, Emily?"
Emily's face softened and she smiled at him, giving a firm nod. "I am. Now we better go before someone else comes in and talks me out of it. I'll go get my things... You write a nice letter for Freya and have the car ready." She moved to him and kissed his cheek lightly, then hurried from the room and headed down the hallway to get her swords.
Within twenty minutes, they were in the Buick and heading out to the wooded area where Freya had first opened the portal a month ago. Locke gripped the steering wheel tightly, his knuckles white, and his blue eyes dead ahead. "You're going to see a lot of things, Emily.. a lot of bad things. But you can't be afraid. Remember why you're there. The Unseelies respect passion, devotion... they'll sense that in you and they may respect you for it."
"I know. I've been doing research ever since Freya left." Emily explained. Her eyes were trained on the world outside her window, the trees passing by the car as they drove down the dirt trail. The drive had been a long one to reach the woods outside the city, bordering on five hours. She was tired. But she had so much further to go. Finally, the car pulled to a stop and she looked at Locke slowly. "I'll get the note to her, Locke. I can't make her read it, and I can't promise she will.. but I'll get it to her."
"Thanks, Em. That's all I ask." Locke said and smiled weakly. He felt horrible. He felt like he was sending Emily into the slaughter. But she was so sure. Maybe this would work. "You're amazing, Emily. I can't thank you enough for this."
Emily's smile broadened and she took a steadying breath, opening her door and stepping out into the chilly winter air. She hugged her coat tight around herself, and Locke followed, wearing only a heavy trench coat over his jeans and shirt. Their boots crunched the gravel and leaves as they moved to the small brook, which was now frozen over, and Locke started chanting. Once the portal was opened, Emily stepped towards it, but Locke reached out and stopped her by grabbing her arm.
"Locke, please, let me go-"
"Not for that reason." Locke said, letting her go and reaching into the pocket of his trench coat. He pulled out a small amulet, round, the size of his palm, and golden with a bright green powder inside some clear liquid. "You should have this."
Emily admired the jewel-like pendant, blinking, then looking at him. "What is it?"
"It's a port cullis. Freya gave it to me the night she freed me.. before we ran away together. She wanted me to use it to escape the castle. When broken, it'll instantly teleport you back to the human world." Locke explained seriously. "I never used it because I went back for her... and saw what Zephyr did to her. We ran away together that night and she opened the portal for us, so I didn't need it. But I want you to have it. Use it if you have to. Come back here, alive."
"Where will it take me?" Emily asked as she accepted it, clutching it to her chest before unclasping the golden chain of her necklace and sliding it onto it.
"Wherever you feel safest." Locke smiled softly, watching her tuck it into her shirt. "When you need to use it, just break it. Doesn't matter how."
Emily admired the weight of it hanging off her neck, and she nodded at him with a grateful smile. She patted the chest pocket of her coat, where his letter to Freya was safely tucked away, and then turned to face the portal again. She breathed a firm sigh, regaining her resolve, and gripped the handle of her favorite short sword before stepping through.
Locke watched her go, his eyes big and a heavy lump in his throat. His stomach was in knots. He hoped to the Gods that Freya would help Emily when she saw her. He waited until the portal closed behind her, then slowly turned back to the Buick and climbed in, staring at the wheel.
The trio had made it back to the throne room, Nate filling the royal couple in on the details of the rebellion. "They refuse to kill any of our men, instead stunning them. Trust me your highnesses, you have nothing to fear during this war. You cannot lose."
Suddenly, the doors burst open, four guards carrying in a struggling bundle. "Your highness, We caught this human using a portal into our castle. Shall we feed it to the hounds?" One of the guards asked.
Zephyr nodded, but Freya shook her head, figuring who the captive probably was. She sighed. "Release the girl, and bring her to me. If it's who I think she is, she's harmless."
Emily, who was struggling and fighting against the netting of the bundle, was cursing and kicking as hard as she could from inside. When the guards finally opened and dumped the net bag open, she fell onto the floor in a fumble, grunting with a wince when her chin hit the floor. She rolled onto her side, then pushed herself up onto her feet, giving the guards a glare. "I told you!" she snapped, adjusting her coat and huffing angrily, then looking at Freya. Her eyes widened when she saw her, and she gave a small smile. "Freya... Gods, look at you! You look so... grown up." she said and motioned to her crown on her head. She glanced at Nate and gave him a smile too, taking the advice that Locke had given her in the car during the drive. Pretend they didn't know about Nate's betrayal. "Hey, Nate! Long time, no see." she said and then looked at Zephyr. He was much more foreboding, the aura she saw a deep red coming off of him. It gave her chills, so she didn't say anything to him, but instead bowed her head and cleared her throat. "Freya... I'm sorry for breaking into your castle like this..." she whispered, "But I really missed you."
Freya looked at the human disinterested. "I'm sure you did. Tell me. How's Locke?" She asked, scrutinizing the girl. Zephyr and Nate looked at Freya confused, and Zephyr spoke, "Girl. What is your name and how do you know my queen?" He approached her, his tall limber frame towering over her. He whispered to her menacingly, "Choose your words carefully little girl." Zephyr sneered at her, "You should bow to your queen."
Emily almost cowered under Zephyr, but she remembered Locke's words about not backing down. They respected passion. "My name is Emily, and Freya is not my queen. She's my friend." she said sternly, her eyes hardening on Zephyr. She made sure he could see the golden flecks in her grey-green eyes, the colors that let her see his evil aura. She looked at Freya instead now, ignoring Zephyr's attempts to belittle her. "Freya, we have to talk, please."
Zephyr grew furious at the human. "She may be your 'friend' but she is still your queen, you insolent little brat."
Nate approached the pair, and placed a hand on Zephyr's shoulder, reminding him to be calm. "Emily, my friend, he does speak the truth. Regardless of your friendship, Freya is your queen if you are in this kingdom and to act familiar is an act of treason." His eyes pleaded with Emily, begging her to listen.
Emily looked at Nate, her eyes still hard for a second, then she seemed to relax and shot a glare to Zephyr before looking at Freya and giving a proper curtsy. "My queen," she greeted again more evenly. Once that was over with, she said, "Can we please talk, Freya? In private?"
Freya narrowed her eyes at her former friend, but nodded. "Leave us boys." Zephyr looked back at Freya, not quite sure what to make of her command. Freya widened her eyes at him threateningly, and he nodded.
"We will be right outside your majesty," Nate spoke, and the pair left.
Freya remained seated in her throne. "Drop the pretenses, Emily. I know you're not here as a friend. But you are in my kingdom, and you do need to respect that. I'm not just Freya, Locke's companion. I am Freya the Last, Freya the Only. Freya, Your queen. You've allied yourself against me, do not make the mistake of thinking I trust you."
Emily swallowed hard, keeping Freya's gaze and taking a step towards her throne. "Freya, I am here as your friend. There wouldn't be any other reason for me to be here if I wasn't." She fidgeted her hands a little. "Freya, magic creatures from your kingdom attacked us today... and we had quite a few casualties, even though Locke ordered us not to kill any of our opponents. I just... I don't know what we did to instigate such a vicious attack." she said with a small whimper. "Locke is worried... and I am worried, too, that you're... you're falling away from us."
"Your rebellion sent spies into my kingdom. Your rebellion slaughtered our families. Locke has made me the laughing stock of the magic world by tricking me into loving him, and then abandoning me and telling everyone about our most intimate moments. He brainwashed and kidnapped me, and being among my people made me realize how much he tried to change me. He wouldn't let me use my magic or speak to my people so I would be weak and it would be easier for the werewolves to attack. His kind betrayed all of the fae and slaughtered the very people they were sworn to protect. He's killed countless Unseelie and Seelie. It might have seemed like an unprovoked attack but your rebellion deserves everything it got. As for the fast that he refused to let you kill any of our men, how is that my fault? Just because he doesn't let you see the murder he and his pack have committed, doesn't mean that he's innocent. They were his friends once, and he betrayed them. It seems only fitting we provide a fitting rebuttal to his crimes. You've fallen for his tricks, as I did. Stay with me Emily. You'll see. Locke is not to be trusted. You've spent a few months with him, I spent my life. Trust me." Freya rose from her throne and went to the human girl, placing a hand lightly on her face. "Everything we believed is a lie."
Emily's eyes were wide on Freya as she listened to her, staring at her even as her friend rested a hand on her cheek. She then slowly shook her head, biting her lip and reaching into her jacket, producing the letter from Locke. "I think you should read this," she whispered softly as she offered it to her, her gaze soft. Freya really had fallen from them a little. She wasn't sure who had told her those lies, but Locke had never said anything about their relationship, Emily had never even known they'd slept together.
Freya took the letter, but didn't read it. "Why are you really here Emily? We both know it's not because you miss me. If you're here to kill me, get it over with so I can go back to my life here okay?" Her tone was softer, less regal.
"Freya, I'm not here to kill you. I would never." Emily whispered, her eyes looking sad. "I came here to deliver that letter to you. I think you really need it. You are falling away from us. I can see it. You're... darker. I'm really worried about you." She sniffed, her hands finding Freya's and holding them lightly. "Freya, Locke never told anyone anything about your relationship. I didn't even know you guys had... gone so far. But he would sooner lose his tongue than speak badly of you, you know that... don't you? He's the one that made us swear not to kill any of your soldiers. He said it would be like killing you. He couldn't bear that. And... I really don't think the werewolves attacking your kingdom was his fault either. He always tells me stories about how the people in this castle, the kingdom, were like family to him. This place was all he'd ever known. Why would he attack it?" she asked, tilting her head. "It just doesn't make sense, Freya. None of those things are true, and I'm just... so sorry that you're hurting enough to believe them."
Freya scoffed. "So Locke wouldn't let me use my magic or be in my home, and I couldn't leave the house without him. That's love? That's what I should aspire to be? No. Here I'm not a victim waiting to be saved. Here, I'm queen. I have the power and I am respected. Stay with me. I'll show you how Locke has blinded you." She held out her hand, "Emily. You could be a princess here. You will live like the royal you deserve to be, with your talents. Stay with me."
]: Emily sniffed. "You know he only did those things to protect you! If you used magic in the human world, the hunters would find you! Don't you remember how you and I met? The alleyway? Or being caught by my brother after? Don't you remember how Locke saved us? He took a silver bullet to the chest for you!" she whimpered, clutching her hands in fists at her sides. "He nearly died for you so many times, Freya! You have to remember that--why would he risk his LIFE for you so often if he didn't love you?" She watched her friend, pleading with her eyes for Freya to remember. "Why would he tell us not to kill anyone from your kingdom, even if we're attacked? Why would he not shave or cut his hair, or come out of his room, or even eat a proper meal for WEEKS because of how badly he misses you, unless he truly loves you?" She sniffled, tears in her eyes as she watched Freya's face. She took a cautious step towards her. "He's not the only one, either... I wouldn't be here, knowing that Zephyr could kill me so easily, for any other reason, Freya. You're my friend, and I love you. Please... PLEASE, read his letter."
"Enough!" Freya roared, "enough with your games Emily. I offered you safety in my kingdom. I offered you the chance to be a royal with me and you turned it down. You are no longer a guest here. You are my prisoner." She stared at the human furiously, looking her up and down. A gold chain around Emily's neck caught Freya's eye and the queen sneered. "He gave you my port cullis? Why would you need that if you trusted me so much?" In a flash, Freya ripped the amulet from Emily's neck. "Well it won't save you now. Zephyr! Nate!" She called, and the pair reentered the throne room. "Take her to my lowest dungeon. I want her to forget what the sun ever was." She glared at Emily's gold flecked eyes. "Strip her down as well, so she'll have no comforts. When you turn down my hospitality little girl, you turn down all of it." She told her, walking back to the throne and playing with the amulet in her hands.
Zephyr grinned a wicked grin, as he and Nate forcefully grabbed Emily on either arm. "It will be my pleasure your highness. And might I say, you are becoming the perfect queen."
"NO! NO, FREYA, PLEASE!" Emily cried, struggling against Nate and Zephyr as she watched her friend get smaller. "Freya! Please..." she sniffed. She couldn't believe that Freya had become so dark and uncaring. And now Emily didn't have the port cullis, or even the whistle that Locke had given her a month ago, both items on the gold chain that Freya had ripped from her neck. How would she escape now that she couldn't even call for Locke's help?
The march to the dungeons was a long one. Servants lined the corridors jeering at the human rebel. Zephyr's grip was hard on Emily's arm, but Nate was holding back slightly. They had taken Emily's shoes, and the deeper they got, the more jagged and wet the stone in the floor had gotten. More than once, Nate found himself keeping Emily from falling.
When they got to the bottom of the stairs, Zephyr spoke, "Our queen didn't specify which dungeon to use, but she did say to give you no comforts. Nathaniel, I think I know exactly which dungeon to use." He laughed a sinister laugh, and Nate shook his head.
"Surely, you can't mean what I think you mean?"
"Oh, I heard the queen's words loud and clear, as well as you vampire. She said no comforts. I intend to make sure we heed her words." Zephyr replied, almost gleefully.
Nate sighed, and opened the first set of silver bars, and led Emily in. Nate looked at her, sorrow in his eyes. Zephyr closed the gate, and Nate released Emily, whispering low enough that she could barely hear him, "I'm sorry." and then walked away from her.
"Our queen said to strip you. Take your clothing off or we will do it for you, little girl." Zephyr grinned, obviously looking forward to the show the human was unwillingly going to put on for them. When she hesitated, he grabbed her roughly. "On second thought, I'll do it for you." He ripped her shirt off, and then her bra, making sure his hands molested Emily's breasts as hard as he could. "Why, aren't you a perky thing?" He laughed. Nate had turned his back on the affair, unable to stomach what he was sure was going to happen. Zephyr moved to the girl's pants, unbuttoned them, and pulled them off as slow as he could, his mouth tasting every inch of her legs as he did so. Soon, she was standing just in her underwear, and Zephyr ripped them off, his eyes hungry. "Maybe a little more humiliation is in order, what do you think, girl?" His fingers traced her most intimate spot, teasing and probing her against Emily's protests. "It's been a long time since I've had a human girl."
Nate had had enough. "Zephyr. Enough for today." He grabbed the Fae's hand and pulled him away from the girl. "Let's just put in her the cell and be done with it. I'm getting bored." He knelt to a trap door, and lifted it. It opened to a small pit, big enough for a person to stand in, but not move much. It was dark, but from previous experiences in the pit himself, the vampire knew there was an inch of water at the bottom, and the cold, wet stone was enough to drive the prisoner inside mad. Emily wouldn't be able to sit, or stretch her limbs, or even turn around. He hoped she wouldn't lose her mind down there. Nate picked Emily up, careful not to touch her inappropriately, and muttered quickly, "Don't worry. I'll be back. Be strong," and set her in the pit, closing the door on top of her.
By the time Nate had lowered Emily into the pit, she was in tears. She had started out strong enough after they'd dragged her from Freya, having fought and walked with them as their captor, keeping a straight face despite the jeers and cruel taunts from the Faes in the corridors. But when Zephyr had started to rip her clothes from her, she'd been crippled with fear and tears, horror marring her face as she was forcefully stripped and molested. She was only too grateful for Nate's help when he stepped in and stopped the evil Fae from undoubtedly doing further damage. She watched Nate's face as he told her that he'd be back for her, and she felt a pit drop in her stomach. Nate had sliced Melody's throat. What hope did she have that he would actually come back for her? She sniffed thickly, and was gripped with terror as the trap door was closed and locked on top of her. The cell was unbearably small and cold, wet, and quiet... too quiet. She sniffled, unable to lift her arms to wipe at her face, so her cheeks streaked with tears and she sniffled thickly to keep snot from escaping her nose. She trembled, her feet already injured and sore from being dragged down the jagged rocks to get here. The water was freezing cold, and within moments she had lost feeling in her toes. "H-help... p-please..." she whimpered, leaning her forehead against the cold stone wall and closing her eyes.
Nate and Zephyr had gone their separate ways after leaving the dungeon. Zephyr walked with a spring in his step, but Nate had a rock of guilt lodged firmly in his stomach. It had hurt him to see Emily treated like that, especially when she was just trying to help Freya. He wandered aimlessly for a few hours, until the castle was dead asleep. He made his way back to the dungeon, careful to not be followed. He made his way into the cell, and lifted the trap door. "Emily. Emily, my dear, are you alright?" he whispered down to her.
Emily lifted her head to look up at Nate groggily. She had been in the pit for several hours now, and at some point she'd managed to fall asleep against the stones, exhausted by her tears. But now she was all too aware of how cold she was, how naked and hungry, and how badly she needed to pee. "N-Nate..." she whimpered through chattering teeth. "P-please, he-help..."
Nate reached down and pulled her out of the pit with minimal effort. He pulled some bread out of his pocket, and offered it to the shivering girl. "I'm sorry you're in this mess. Be strong." He smiled kindly at Emily. "Tell me, is Melody alright?"
Emily took the bread, sitting on the ground and drawing her knees up to her chest, shivering visibly. She eyed Nate a moment, then sniffled and wiped at her dirty, tear-streaked face. "Not exactly," she grumbled, "she can't sing anymore. She's lucky she's alive." She took a bite of the bread and chewed it slowly, feeling sick suddenly.
"You think I would have killed her? Honestly. Your rebellion stands no chance if you can't figure it out. If I wanted to kill her I would have. Ruining her voice cemented Freya and Zephyr's trust in me. She'll heal eventually." He leaned back, feeling more tired than he had in a long time. "Zephyr is manipulating Freya. He's turned her against everyone. Everything Locke has ever done for her has been twisted in her brain. I fear we may have lost her." he spoke sullenly.
"Why didn't you give her Locke's letter?" Emily sniffed, watching him sternly. "Why won't you make sure she reads the one I brought her? She needs to see those letters, Nate. They will help. It's like you don't think they will make an impact." she said, taking another bite of the bread. She opened her mouth to say something else, but footsteps coming down the hall interrupted her. She gasped and stood up, hugging herself as best she could to hide her nudity, fearing that it was Zephyr coming for them, but the face she saw was not the one she expected. "R-Roland..?" she asked, her voice breaking.
Roland's eyes were wide on her, his hand gripping the bars of her cell door. "So it's true." he said lowly, his gaze finding Nate now. "My sister is prisoner here. How did this happen?" he snarled, moving into the cell and peeling off his coat, wrapping it around Emily as she collapsed against him in tears.
"I'll explain in a second Hunter. Patience is a virtue." Nate told Roland apathetically, "As for the letters, somehow everything Freya is thinking is broadcasted to Zephyr as clearly as if she was saying it aloud. Giving her those letters would just be giving him more ammunition to pervert. He sacrificed one of his best warriors to trick Freya into thinking the mutt was mocking their love life in her absence. The more she has Locke in her heart the more Zephyr can abuse. That's my theory anyway." he explained. "Now to answer your question hunter, it seems as though our Emily thought she could play to our queen's bleeding heart. But instead she foolishly disrespected Freya and put her on edge. I'm certain that in a few days Freya will release her, and keep her captive in a more lavish manner." Nate stood, helping Emily to her feet. "I apologize, but we should be going."
"N-no! No, please, Nate, don't put me back in there!" Emily pleaded, shaking her head and clinging to Roland tightly. Despite how much she had hated Roland a month ago when he'd shot Locke and threatened to kill Freya, she was all too grateful to have her older brother with her now. "Please, I can't be in there!"
Roland hugged Emily to his chest tightly, making sure she was snug in his coat and shaking his head at Nate. "I have to disagree, Nate. I won't let you put her back in there and hope that Freya will release her eventually. I'm getting her out of here tonight." he growled.
For the first time in a long time, Nate was furious, and he finally looked like a vampire. He eyes flashed red and he bared his fangs. "If you release her you will ruin everything we are working for as double agents. If she knows there is someone willing to help the captive it will only make her paranoid and we won't be able to relay our information back to the rebels. Emily, I know you're scared but this is the bravest thing you can do. I promise you, I will come down and I will keep you safe from Zephyr. But do not ruin everything we have been risking our lives for because you're scared. We are all scared. Shrug it off. I will convince Freya to release you in the morning." Nate pulled the girl off of her brother, and dropped her back into the pit. "That bread I gave you was Fae bread. It has a numbing effect. Let it settle into your bloodstream and you will be fine. You might feel queasy at first but trust me. Otherwise sacrificing Melody's voice was for nothing." He closed the trapdoor and dragged the hunter out of the cell heading towards his chambers.
Roland couldn't stand the sound of Emily's screams being cut off as the trap door was dropped shut again. He swallowed hard, knowing that Nate was right, but he still couldn't bear to know that his baby sister was in that dreadful pit. It brought back memories of his own time served there... before Nate had made him a deal with Zephyr. Once they were far enough from the dungeons, he yanked his arm from Nate's grip and pulled his coat back on, feeling it wet on the inside from Emily's cold body. "You better be right, Nate. I will not let my sister die in there." he said lowly, then sighed heavily, rubbing his eyes. "She wasn't supposed to get involved."
Nate sighed. "I know. I don't know why the dog sent her, but we've always known he was an idiot. I sincerely wish your aim was better that night at the club." He chuckled then, and pulled a chain from inside his shirt. "I kept the bullet, I think it makes a nice accessory don't you?"
"Yes, it suits you." Roland said almost boredly, rolling his eyes, but a hint of a smirk played at the corners of his lips. "But if I had killed Locke that night--and you know I could have--things with Freya would be way worse and far more out of hand now. And you know that."
"Either way. When I'm done here the mutt and the fae will be out of our hair, and I will be the hero that saved our queen. Stick to the plan, and you'll have your reward hunter. Don't forget who you really work for." Nate put the chain back into his shirt and turned away, "Now, I have a queen to tend to. Make yourself useful and keep Zephyr out of my hair."
Roland nodded and watched Nate go, his smile fading from his face quickly. He straightened up, glanced back towards the doorway to the dungeons, then turned on his heel and headed down the hall towards Zephyr's quarters. He knocked on the door firmly and waited to be acknowledged before stepping inside. He gave a dutiful bow to Zephyr. "I come with a frontline report."
Zephyr didn't reply immediately, instead, keeping his eyes on a small cage in front of him. It held two small pixies, both wielding the tiniest of swords. Small squeaks were coming from the cage as the two fought. Finally, Zephyr waved a hand and the two stopped fighting as he looked up at the hunter. "And?" He asked impatiently.
Roland straightened up again, his face stoic and eyes straight ahead. "The attack was a success. We managed to kill twelve of the rebel soldiers, and Nate took out the siren as planned. The werewolf gave an order not to kill our side, so we left with no casualties. We have a clear advantage." he explained, his hands folded behind his back.
Zephyr looked unimpressed. "So, you mean to tell me that with virtually no resistance, we only killed twelve of their men?" He waved his hand again, and the pixies began fighting again. It was gruesome, and clearly outmatched, one of the pixies being twice the size of the other. The big pixie toyed with the smaller one, stabbing him multiple times as Zephyr laughed eerily. He watched as the small pixie bled out at the bottom of the cage. When it's life was completely empty of life, Zephyr looked back at Roland. "Increase the training of our men until we completely annihilate their side."
"Nate was the one who ordered our retreat, after he took out the siren." Roland explained, but he nodded at Zephyr's orders with a murmur of, "yes, sire." He cleared his throat and bowed again, then straightened up and turned, leaving the room. He closed the door gently behind him, and waited until he was far enough away from Zephyr's room to think about Emily. He hoped she would be okay, and he knew he'd have to consider a back-up plan to get her out, just in case.
Freya sat in her bed chambers, contemplating the days affairs. Emily claimed that Locke still loved her...that he had never said a bad word about her. But how could she trust Emily? She was part of the rebellion trying to destroy her kingdom. Her head spun, not sure what to believe. She walked to the window and stared out at her kingdom. She rested her hands on the sill, and one landed onto Locke's letter. She picked it up and stared at it a long while before working up the nerve to open it. When she finally did, she could hear Locke's tender voice as she read.
My Lovely Freya,
It has been a month now since the last time I saw you... since the last time I kissed you. My lips still burn with the fiery intensity with which you kissed me, and stole my heart straight from my chest. I dream about you every night, and think of you every moment of the day. I have taken up drawing again, just so I can see your face more often. I brought the box of photographs with me, but sometimes I'm afraid to look at those memories. I'm afraid of the pain they will bring, and how much it will hurt to remember feeling you in my arms, but not being able to actually do so now.
I have to keep this letter short, because we are pressed for time. But I hope it finds you well. I hope Emily gets to you, and can help remind you if this letter fails its purpose... that I still love you. And I always will. Always.
Freya crumpled the letter, not sure how to feel. She threw it in the fire as she yelled for her guards. Once in her chambers she spoke with an uncharacteristic calm in her voice, "Bring me the human girl immediately. But be discreet about it. Do not harm her." They nodded, and left for the dungeons. Her head was spinning even more than it was before. Locke was not the type to write such words, but she could recognize his scrawl anywhere. How could he write such pretty words if he didn't care about her? How could he be saying such cruel things about her and then write these words. Freya wanted answers, and the one person who could give them to her was locked in her dungeon. Hopefully she's in a forgiving mood...
The Fae bread that Nate had given Emily had done well to numb the pain and cold she felt from being cooped up in the pit. It had also numbed her brain a little, just enough to keep her calm and help her sleep. The next thing she knew, the gate was being opened, and she was being yanked out by hands rougher than Nate's or Roland's. She was dragged back up the stairs and through the halls, still naked, cold, and wet, but this time there weren't any cruel shouts. It was late at night, and everyone had gone to sleep. Her head lulled a little as she was pulled to Freya's room, then dropped onto the floor at Freya's feet. She grunted, whined, and curled up a little before pushing herself onto her hands and knees, looking up at Freya from under her damp hair.
Freya glared at her guards after their treatment of Emily. "I told you not to harm her, so you shove her to the ground in my presence? You're absolutely useless. Leave my sight before I send you both to the pit. Together. Tell no one of the night's activities." The guards hurriedly shuffled out of her room, almost tripping over themselves. Freya knelt down next to Emily, using her magic to dry her hair and warm her. "Emily. Why are you wet? I know our dungeons are cold but they, at the very least, are weather-proof." Freya rose and pulled a purple velvet dress from her closet, "Here. Put this on. I'm sorry for your time here. The Unseelie court isn't a terrible place like I'm sure you think. I've missed you." The queen smiled at the human, trying to make amends.
Emily said a soft, "Thank you," as she received the velvet dress, pulling it on and hugging the snug sleeves on her thin arms. It fit her like a glove, and she felt very elegant in it, but despite being warmed by Freya's magic, she still felt chilled. She eyed Freya warily and shifted on her bare feet. "Zephyr and Nate put me in the pit. There was a leak in the walls." she explained, her tone almost numb. She tilted her head at Freya and took a small step back. "Why are you being nice all of a sudden?"
Freya shook her head. "I'm not sure myself. You're a rebel. So far I've put to death every rebel we've caught. Not only that but you disrespected me in my own throne room. By all means you should rot down there. But I guess I'd rather have my friend. It's probably a stupid move, and make no mistake you are no guest here. You are my captive and you will stay as such. But I will let you live in the castle freely. Then we will call it even for the night in the alley." Freya reapproached the window, staring out mindlessly. "Tell the guard outside to take you to the queen'a servants quarters."
Emily stared at Freya's back for a long few moments in silence, not moving. She was almost afraid to ask, but felt this time it was worth the risk. "Did you read Locke's letter?" Her tone was soft, cautious, but that had to be why Freya had a sudden change of heart. Some kind of light had been let in.
Freya kept her back turned, "What difference does it make? Now go. There's some things I need to get done and I don't need you distracting me."
Emily nodded, turning and heading out to the guard, telling him what Freya had said about taking her to the servants' quarters. As she was led away by the guard, she looked back into Freya's room before the door closed completely, catching a glimpse of her friend, and giving the barest of smiles. Even with Freya's vague response, she knew she must have read the letter. She saw the sparkle of something golden in Freya's hand in the firelight, and bit her lip. She wondered if Freya would hang onto that port cullis, or if she might be kind enough to give it back.
After Emily left, Freya ordered her guard to keep everyone out of her room until further notice. She closed her door and bolted it with a heavy bar. She fingered the port cullis carefully, gathering up the courage to go on with her decision. Finally, with a deep death she slammed the amulet in the floor and it shattered.
A whirlwind of color swept up the queen, tossing her every which way. After what felt like forever, it stopped suddenly, and she was in a plain, undecorated room. "Where am I?" She wondered aloud.
The door to the room clicked as it was unlocked from the outside, then squeaked as it opened slowly inwards. A dark figure stepped into the doorway, hunched and obviously downtrodden, and he reached out and flipped on the light. Once the room was awash in light, he lifted his head, his movements stilling instantly when he saw Freya standing in his room. His eyes widened, and his heart stopped. "Freya?" he asked. He then moved swiftly, stepping into the room and slamming the door shut, locking it, and moving to her, sweeping her up in his arms. He hugged her to him tightly, his face burying into her hair, and he trembled with the urge to cry with joy. "You're here..."
Freya froze in his grip for a few moments, and then regained her composure, pushing him away. "What the hell are you thinking?" She pushed her hands into him hard, "Making me the mockery of the magic world. Slut queen they're calling me. How dare you pretend to love me?" All of her pent up hurt was exploding out of the queen. She wanted answers, and she was going to get them.
Locke resisted her pushes at first, just wanting so badly to hold her. But her words forced him to let go, and he looked at her with shock, hurt, and confusion. "What are you talking about?" he asked, shaking his head. "Freya, I'm not pretending to love you. I actually love you." he frowned. "What are you talking about? Why would they be calling you that?"
"We caught one of your rebels. Rommus. He told me all about how you laughed about that night, gossiping about me. About how you used me to get to my throne. And your pack destroyed every fae they were sworn to protect. When were you going to kill me Locke? Huh? When was this game going to be done for you?" She was manic now, yelling at the shocked looking werewolf.
Locke shook his head again, holding up his hands defensively. "Rommus? I've never heard that name! We didn't have anyone named Rommus here!" Her news about his pack attacking the sworn protected families made his blood run cold. "What..? When did that happen? Why? How?" he asked, his eyes wide. He looked at the floor, trying to contemplate this. "I can't believe that. I refuse to. We were raised by your kingdom, we wouldn't have.. No... someone is telling you lies, Freya, someone is turning you against me! It's Zephyr, isn't it?"
"I don't know what to believe. I do know for a fact that your wolves attacked my people, and now you're leading a rebellion against my home. How can I trust someone like that?" She accused, adding "And you don't have anyone named Rommus here because I killed him. I cut out his throat and I intend to end everyone who crosses me Locke." She shoved him again. "I have the power now. Not you. You can't control me anymore."
"Is that what you think I was doing?" Locke asked in a voice that was both soft and dangerous. He narrowed his eyes at her, his hands in fists at his sides. "I don't know any Rommus, I never did. I never ordered the wolves to attack your kingdom, and I may be leading the rebellion, but I've already told you, it's not against you, it's against Zephyr." he growled. But her threat concerned him. "Where's Emily?"
"Is she your new lover, Locke?" Freya asked, showing her vulnerability for the first time since she'd been with Locke. "I guess it doesn't matter. She's on my side now. I'm treating her very well."
Locke stuttered, in disbelief at her incredulity. "She's not my new lover, Freya! God dammit, are you hearing anything I'm saying?!" he growled. "How many times do I have to yell at you that I love you?" he growled. He stared at her angrily for a moment, then grumbled, "Fuck this," before grabbing her arm and pulling her to him, kissing her lips firmly.
Freya let out a squeak of surprise when Locke pulled her in, and at first she fought against his embrace. But soon enough she melted into him, forgetting his supposed betrayal. As they kissed, her head spun, and she couldn't breathe, but then she really couldn't breathe. She broke from the kiss, feeling as though she was being strangled. Freya fell to her knees, gasping for air. Finally her lungs could take no more and her body buckled in on itself, unconscious.
"Freya?" Locke started to ask when she'd pulled away struggling for breath. His eyes widened when she was acting like she was being strangled, and he growled. "Freya! Dammit, Zephyr, let her go!" he snarled, moving to her. Once she was unconscious, but thankfully breathing again, he scooped her up into his arms and cradled her, watching her face. "I love you, Freya. I know you can hear me. I love you."
Zephyr roared a mighty roar. The guards had alerted him the minute Freya locked her door. He had called Nate and Roland into his chambers and was currently trying his very best not to destroy them both. "The spell makes it impossible for Freya to create a portal. How did she get out?" He was pacing at an unnatural rate. He had already killed two servants in his rage and they laid on the floor in pools of blood.
Nate answered first with no trace of fear in his voice. He glanced at Roland before speaking. "Perhaps it is not us you should ask, but our guest, the human girl." The blood on the floor was doing a very good job reminding Nate of how long it had been since his last meal, and he couldn't quite concentrate. "Freya let her out of the dungeon, and she's staying in the servants quarters." He explained, licking his lips. The salty stench of blood was too much for the vampire, and he rose from his seat. "I shall fetch her for you." Zephyr nodded at Nate, who took his leave from the room.
In the hallway, the stench was more bearable. He made his way to Emily's room, and knocked politely on the door. He didn't, however, wait for an answer and barged in speaking immediately. "Emily. Freya has left the kingdom and Zephyr knows. He's figured out it has something to do with you. How did you help her escape? He's summoned you to his chambers. Tell me on the way." He grabbed the girl by the arm, and began to pull her along.
Emily gasped, shrinking away from Nate fearfully. She felt sick. Zephyr would kill her for sure. "I didn't HELP her escape! Before I came here, Locke gave me a port cullis just in case I needed to escape in a hurry! I had it on a chain around my neck, along with the whistle he gave me to call him. She tore it from my neck before she ordered me put in the dungeons!" she explained quickly. She then gasped, her eyes wide. "A-are you saying she used the port cullis?! She's not here?!" This made her even more sickened. Without Freya here, Roland and Nate would only be so much protection for her from Zephyr. She would die.
The rounded the corridor that led to Zephyrs chambers. Nate whispered low, "you know nothing about the port cullis, or Freyas disappearance. Be brave, and be strong. Play stupid about everything. You're just a human sent to do Locke's dirty work. A nobody. If I know zephyr he's going to put you through hell. Be prepared. Again, play dumb and be brave. Your brother and I will get you out as soon as we can." Nate had a worried crease in his forehead, and he grabbed her hand as if to transfer some of his strength to her through touch. "We won't let him kill you Emily."
Emily whimpered, but nodded at Nate's words. He was right. She needed to act strong, and brave, and hope that he and Roland would step in in time to save her. She had to believe that Roland would save her. He was her brother, and he loved her... she hoped. Once they reached Zephyr's door, she looked up at it with big eyes, but she straightened up and took a few shallow breaths. "O-okay..." she whispered, waiting for Nate to open the door.
Nate grabbed Emily roughly, and whispered, "Remember. You life depends on your ignorance. No matter what he does, you don't know anything." He assumed his tone of apathy and entered the room, Emily in tow. "Zephyr. I've brought her. What now?" He asked. The stench of the blood from Zephyr's earlier victims was making Nate dizzy with hunger and a growl rumbled in his throat.
Zephyr stood, a sinister, yet gleeful, smile on his face. "Why Emily. It's so nice to see you again." He approached her, and stroked the velvet of her dress along her arms. "Are you as happy to see me?"
Emily tried to seem tough, but she couldn't hide that his touch gave her chills. "I would only be happy to see you if I wanted to lose what little bile I have left in my stomach." she snapped, pulling back from him as hard as she could. She glared at him, then noticed Roland standing at the side of the room, his eyes down. She frowned and looked back at Zephyr, and wondered if he knew Roland was her brother. "What do you want from me now?"
At her words, Zephyr slapped her. "You would do well to learn some respect little human." He looked back at Roland and Nate. "Leave us." He barked. Nate rushed out the door as fast as he could, escaping the blood stink. Zephyr stared expectantly at Roland. "Get out, or I kill her on the spot."
Emily's face had reeled to the side at the slap, and she slowly raised a hand to her stinging cheek, which quickly became red. Roland had wanted to jump in, but Zephyr gave him no choice. He grimaced, then turned and left the room with fast, angry strides, closing the door behind him. Once they were alone, Emily felt her heart drop. She was alone now. She slowly turned her eyes back to Zephyr, her gaze stony as she straightened up and held her chin up as bravely as she could.
"Now that we're alone," Zephyr locked the door, "I have some questions for you, little girl. And if you don't cooperate you'll end up like those servants in the corner." He motioned to the corpses in the corner.
Emily didn't even look at the bodies. Even with her human nose, she could smell the amount of blood in the room. She swallowed hard, not looking at him either, but instead staring ahead of herself like she was blind and not seeing anything at all. "Then ask away." she grumbled.
Zephyr pushed her against the wall and pinned her there, their feet standing in the blood of the fallen servants. "Freya has gone back to the werewolf. It's obvious you helped her do it. I Want to know how. And do it fast, before she suffocates." He laughed at his last comment, digging his nails into the skin on her arms.
Emily gasped as she was pinned, and squirmed under him, wrinkling her nose. "I don't know how she got out! I don't know what you're talking about! I didn't even know she was gone!" she grunted, trying to push him off, even as his nails dug into her arms. "She ordered me to the dungeons and you saw me there yourself, how could I have helped her escape?!"
Zephyr rolled his eyes. "Clearly, she let you out, or you would still be wet and naked." He looked her up and down, his eyes hungry, "I think I prefer you that way." He picked her up as if she was a feather, and carried her to his lavish bed, throwing her onto it roughly. "Now you'd better start talking, little girl."
Emily landed on the bed hard, bouncing a couple of times with a loud yelp, and then crawled backwards from him with a glare. "She let me out of the dungeon, but she ordered me to the servants' quarters just as quickly, you asshole! I don't know anything!" she yelled, moving to the other edge of the bed quickly in an attempt to get up. "She has been nothing but mean to me since I got here!"
He slapped her hard again, and growled, "You had better start showing me some respect." He pulled her arm up above her head and tied it to the post, quickly doing the same with the other. "The nicer you are to me, the nicer I will be to you." Zephyr sneered.
Emily screamed, pulling at the ties around her wrists instantly and scoffing at him, this time not even pausing to fret over her slapped cheek. "Yeah, cause I believe that for a second!" she said sarcastically, glaring at him. "You're a twisted bastard who gets off on torture and death! And I didn't need Locke to tell me that to know it." she growled. She had to stay strong, no matter what was coming her way... and she had a feeling there was a lot coming her way in the next few minutes. "I didn't help Freya get out!"
Zephyr laughed. "You think you know me so well, eh?" He leaned in close, and licked her from her collarbone to her jaw. "You know nothing about me." He got off of the bed, and bent down to dip his hand in some of the coagulated blood, and then turned to face Emily, a smirk on his face. He climbed back on top of her, and pinched her jaw open. "You want to be in the Unseelie world? You want to know what makes us tick? I'll show you." Zephyr dripped the servant's sticky blood into Emily's mouth, laughing as he did so.
Emily whined as her jaw was forced open painfully, and no matter how hard she struggled, he kept his hold. She watched in horror as the fae blood dripped from his fingers onto her tongue, and she felt the sharp, almost spicy copper taste spread like fire in her mouth. She grimaced and coughed, then managed to rip her face from his hand and spit it back in his face. "You're disgusting!" she snapped, squirming under him more. Even though she had spit it back in his face, she could still feel it burning a trail down her throat.
The fae man wiped the blood of his face with an eerie calm. Zephyr ran his long fingers through Emily's hair, "Your hair is so long. Surely you don't need it? I can think of much better things to do with it." He yanked hard, pulling out a handful, and a tiny bit of scalp came with it. Zephyr laughed like a child, and sat back up. "You humans are so breakable. It's wonderful."
Emily screamed in agony as he ripped the handful of hair from her head, the spot burning with pain and she could already feel it starting to bleed. She screamed and squirmed, pulling hard on her bound wrists until her skin was red and irritated. Then the room started to spin. At first, she thought it was because she'd over-exerted herself with her screaming and fighting. But then she gradually started to realize that her heart was beating too fast... and her breathing was picking up. Then it was like a spark went off in her brain. Her body stiffened in a convulsion and her eyes rolled back in her head as her back arched involuntarily, knocking the wind from her. She twitched and gasped, before the seizure stopped and she dropped back down onto the bed, exhausted and covered in a thin film of sweat. She breathed hard, her head lolling back and forth as the room continued to spin around her, colors flashing before her eyes. "W-what's... ungh..." she whined, her body trembling as she tugged on her restraints again.
"Confused? I figured you would be. That fae blood I dripped into your mouth, you thought I was just trying to scare you. No no. I have many other more effective means of scaring you little girl. If you've ever consumed fae food or drink, you know of the effects it has on non-fae. Our blood is much more potent. I'll leave you alone to your imagination. When you're ready to respect me, I'll relieve you of your pain." He laughed, as he tied Emily's feet to to the lower corners of the bed so she couldn't move. Zephyr exited the room then, double checking to make sure it was sound proof before summoning Roland and Nate again.
Emily panted hard, watching him go through swirls of color and shapes in her vision. "N-no... no..." she gasped, almost begging. Her eyes widened as her body was gripped with another intense pain, burning her insides and making her stiffen in another seizure, her eyes shutting tightly. This time though, she screamed at the top of her lungs, pulling at her ropes as tears ran down her hot face, leaving ice-cold streaks in her sweat. She was gripped with horrifying hallucinations of monsters and nightmarish figures. Her skin tingled with pain and for a moment she really thought that ogre was peeling her skin off her arm like a potato skin. She screamed again and again until her voice was hoarse.
Roland came as he was beckoned, but was not all too happy to find Zephyr outside of the room without his sister. "Where is Emily?" he asked, frowning deeply. He was already fearing the worst.
Zephyr looked him right in the eyes, reading him. "Going soft Roland?" He stared at the hunter, but then sighed. "She got boring, so I sent her back to her rebel base as a trade for our queen. I figure, she'll lead us right back won't she?"
Roland narrowed his eyes a little. He had not seen Zephyr come out of the room with Emily, and he hadn't felt a portal open nearby. He had been watching the door like a hawk since he'd exited out of it himself. He didn't believe Zephyr's words, but he didn't argue. "I'm not going soft." he grumbled, folding his arms. He looked up for Nate and locked eyes with him.
Nate widened his eyes in a "Who knows" kind of look, and then turned to Zephyr. "I fear that the kingdom is getting anxious with our lack of initiative for attacks on the rebels." Nate had been feeding when Zephyr summoned them, and he was anxious to return to his meal. If he didn't drain his victim completely of blood he would turn her into a vampire, and Nate didn't feel like being a father yet.
"You're right, vampire. Roland, prepare your hunters for battle. I want them at the base in a week's time, ready to kill everyone there. I'm bored with this war. It's time to end it." Zephyr turned back to his room. "I'm done with you two. Get out of my sight." Instead of going into his chambers, he leaned against the door, waiting for the two to leave.
"Yes, sir." Roland waited, as if he wanted to see whether or not Zephyr would go into his room. When he didn't, he turned and strolled off impatiently. He had to find Emily. He had to get to her. Once he and Nate were far enough away, Roland looked at the vampire and whispered, "He still has her. I know he does. We have to get her out of there."
Nate nodded, clearly distracted. "Yes. Alright. Sure." he answered. He rocked back and forth from the balls of his feet to his heels, eager to leave. "Are we done here?" He asked the hunter.
Roland glared hard at Nate, clearly displeased with his lack of interest in his sister's safety. He scoffed out a, "yeah," before turning and moving off down the hall on his own, his hands in tight fists and his footsteps hard on the ground.
Back in his room the with hallucinating human girl, Zephyr was busy in front of a purple flame, conjuring a projection spell. He glared at Emily as she screamed, and was tempted to cut out her tongue. Deciding he would need it later, zephyr spared her tongue and simply gagged the girl and turned back to his spell. (Jades note: im having super déjà vu right now). He had kept a lock of Freyas hair, and he cast it into the fire. He had a message for her lover, and he was going to make sure the mutt heard it.
Emily coughed and choked under the gag as she gasped for breath, her eyes shut tight against pain and horrifying visions. She knew Zephyr was still in the room. She could almost feel him. By now she'd been pulling against her restraints so much and so hard that they'd cut into her wrists and ankles, making her bleed under angry red skin. She coughed a sob under her gag, just wishing the visions and pain would stop. She was drenched in sweat, exhausted, and all her thrashing had hiked up her skirt to her thighs.
The mess hall was loud, most everyone having just gotten out of training. Melody's neck wound was now a puffy pink scar, but her voice hadn't returned. She had picked up signing pretty quickly though, as well as most of the base. Locke had decided it could give them an advantage and insisted they learned, but Melody suspected it was just to help her cope. She was lost in her thoughts, watching some rebels at another table as they told each other jokes and laughed. She missed laughing, she missed being happy. Everyone had seemed to forget they were fighting a war, but every time Melody looked in the mirror she was reminded, and she hated it.
A purple haze started to form over the table Melody was watching, who hadn't noticed it. The siren nudged Shea, who was seated next to her and pointed at the haze. "What is that?" She signed.
Shea looked up from her food with a blink and read Melody's signs before following her gestures. She saw the purple haze and narrowed her eyes in confusion. "I don't know..." she said slowly, but she got a bad feeling from it. She stood up from the table and waved for Melody to stay where she was. "Guys, get away from that table!" she called to the seated rebels beneath the purple cloud.
The haze formed into the shape of a body, though see-through. The man was tall, and appeared to be searching for something. By now the mess hall was staring at the apparition, and he screamed "WEREWOLF!" It echoed through the hall.
Shea, like everyone else in the room, was wide-eyed. Locke's door opened with a slam, and he stepped out. Freya was still unconscious, wheezing, but alive, and laying on his cot in his room. He shut his door behind himself for good measure and headed down the stairs from his platform, watching the cloud with a glare. "Zephyr," he greeted angrily. He waved at the rebels at the table and they scattered quickly, everyone stepping back from the cloud and watching with wide eyes.
[shadowfire09]'s note: I messed up the timeline and dont want to fix it. Mystery Watcher, deal with it. :)
The image of Zephyr turned slowly, tilting his head at the werewolf. "I believe you have something of mine." He crossed his arms expectantly. "I'm asking nicely." He turned to the crowd, his back to Locke. "Your fearless leader has been harboring the very Queen you've been training against. YOUR LEADER IS A TRAITOR TO YOU! He allows you to be slaughtered at my hands while you are allowed to merely stun the enemy! Give me the traitor and the queen and the Unseelie court will let you live out your lives in peace!" Zephyr yelled.
Melody nudged Shae, and wrote on her napkin, "What does he mean Locke is harboring Freya? He'd tell us something like that...wouldn't he?" She ran a hand through her hair, distressed.
Shea read the note quickly, then her eyes flicked back up to Zephyr's image, narrowing her eyes and whispering, "I don't know." She hoped not. Locke was better than that... wasn't he?
Locke gave a scoff. "Do you really think these people--this army--will believe you? The one we're rebelling against? We're not fighting against Freya; we're fighting against you. And they won't believe a word you say, because they know you're merely trying to undermine me!" he growled. "But fine. You're asking nicely. But if I have Freya, that means you have Emily. Where is she?" There was an echo of gasps around the room, and a trail of whispers at Locke's words. No one had even noticed Emily missing.. except for maybe Nelson. But no one listened to the zombie who worked in the kitchen. Shea's eyes were wide now, and worried.
Zephyr scoffed. "The one you call Emily is with her brother, here, in my castle. She's happy and safe. A traitor you sent to my midst to tell about the rebel side's battle plans. If you are not a traitor than why are you harboring MY queen? The woman who ordered you all to be executed? And if you weren't hiding anything, tell me, who else knew she was here?" He raised an eyebrow smugly, knowing full well he hadn't told a soul.
Eyes flicked nervously within the crowd, whispers rolling through them again, and everyone turned to look at Locke. "I haven't told anyone yet because she only just arrived mere moments ago. I didn't have the chance to tell anyone before she was stricken breathless, no doubt by a containment spell you have on her." he growled, his fists tight by his sides. "You cannot turn my army against me, Zephyr!"
"Is it true?" Nelson asked suddenly, stepping out of the crowd. Locke turned to face him, along with everyone else. "You turned Emily over to them?" He was watching Locke with big eyes, looking sad and confused. Emily was really his only friend.
"No, Nelson, it's not true! Emily wanted to go! She went as a favor to me, to deliver a message to Freya! It's what prompted Freya to come see me in the first place." Locke explained, starting to get impatient. He looked around at everyone's faces, and saw they were watching him, some with disbelief evident in their expressions. "You can't honestly stand there and believe the man we're fighting to bring down!" he hissed. "Are you all mad?! He's trying to sabotage our cause! Don't listen to a word he says!"
"So far, everything he's saying is true..." Shea called, standing tall out of the crowd. "Emily is there, and Freya is here. Isn't she?" Locke stuttered and she growled. "Isn't she?!" When Locke didn't answer, she narrowed her eyes at him and turned to look at Zephyr. "We will give you back Freya if you return Emily to us. We will deal with the traitor in our own ways." she snarled, grabbing her spear from where she'd been sitting moments ago.
Zephyr nodded, fighting back a grin. It was far too easy to turn this excuse for an army inside out. "I would trade, however, Emily has discovered the truth about Locke, and has joined her brother Roland among my ranks. Your werewolf leader was so desperate to have his love back, he sent Emily to Freya's kingdom to drug her and send her back to him. He is a poisoner and a kidnapper. His pack, sworn to protect the Unseelie, turned on his command and destroyed the very beings that had entrusted their lives to them, and now he's done the same to his own ward. Everything my army has done to you has been in defense. Freya and I are only trying to salvage a destroyed kingdom, and we mourn for your losses as well as our own. I am truly sorry for the bloodshed. Magic blood should not be wasted in these trying times." Zephyr locked eyes with the girl with green hair. "The werewolf is a part of the Unseelie court by nature. I insist he faces his realms judgement."
Melody furrowed her brow, confused. Everyone had so been so easily swayed by Zephyr's words. She looked up at her friend, who so quickly reached for her spear at the first suggestion of Locke's betrayal. Everyone knew the fae were masters of manipulation, just as she was being a siren. How many times had Freya made entire crowds bend to her will? Surely this could be no different. She stood and walked to Locke's side, locking elbows with him. She took another napkin off of the table, and wrote "I want to see Freya. Now." Melody handed the note to a solider standing next to her, and he read it aloud for the crowd.
Shea had opened her mouth to answer Zephyr when the soldier suddenly read out Melody's note. She frowned, her grip tightening on her spear, then she turned back to Zephyr. "We will give you Locke once we have also dealt with him. He is a traitor to us as much as he is to you, and we seek our own brand of justice. Freya will be returned promptly, and Locke will follow shortly after. If you'll excuse us." she said, then turned to Melody and Locke, frowning at their linked arms. "What are you doing, Melody?"
Zephyr spoke to the crowd, "I give you three days to give us what we want. At midnight on the third day, I will come again for your answer. If you do not hand over the werewolf and give the Unseelie back their queen we will assume every one of you also wants to destroy the Fae kingdom and as such will put every being in this place to death. I implore you to join us. I am not the enemy, nor are my people." With that, Zephyr's image faded through the room.
Melody narrowed her eyes at Shea, angry that she would assume Locke's guilt. She turned, ignoring her question and pulled Locke out of the room, motioning for him to lead the way. Shea always assumes the worst in people. She thought I was going to eat her for God's sake. I'm like, so done. she thought to herself angrily.
Locke walked with Melody quickly, giving an angry breath, his fists tight enough to make his knuckles white. "That bastard. He's trying to turn the entire army against me! And he's a fae! He can manipulate people, just like Freya can!" he growled lowly. He looked at Melody and his expression became one of desperation more than anger. "You believe me, right? Freya was only here long enough for us to enjoy a moment together before she collapsed, I didn't have the chance to tell anyone she was here..."
Melody shrugged mutely. Honestly she didn't know what to believe, but it wasn't like she could reply if she wanted to. Mel looked at Locke, raising her eyebrows and chewing on her lower lip. Maybe it was because she had known him so long, but she felt like, even if he had hurt Freya, she wasn't sure she could just abandon him. She cared about the werewolf, he was a great friend. Even if he had been avoiding her since the night they kissed.
Locke seemed to relax at her response, even if it was rather neutral. He nodded and led her to his room where he was keeping Freya, unlocking and opening the door, pulling her inside. He moved to where he had left Freya in his bed, pulling the sheets back to check her face and feel her breathing. "Freya...?"
Melody gasped loudly when he pulled the blankets back. Freya was pale, shiny with sweat. She was trembling, her lips purple. Melody's eyes widened at the sight of her friend, clearly she'd been poisoned. She looked at Locke, backing against a wall terrified.
Locke frowned deeply at Freya's face, not even noticing Melody's retreat from his side. He was too worried about Freya. He reached out and stroked her cheek slowly, watching her. "Freya... I'm so sorry. I'm going to fix this. I promise." he whispered. He didn't even know how she'd been poisoned. He looked up when the door to his room suddenly opened, and Shea and Nelson stood in the doorway.
Shea no longer had her spear, but she looked just as tense. "I believe I deserve an Oscar." she said, stepping into the room and shutting the door, Nelson moving to Freya's side. "So Freya really is here.... and Emily really is gone." she muttered, crossing her arms.
"You mean... you were acting?" Locke asked, his eyes wide.
"Duh. I'm a mermaid. Our number one enemy in the sea was the siren, which also has a way of spinning fantasy into reality. We have become rather good at seeing through bullshit." Shea grumbled. "But this doesn't mean I'm any less angry. Freya is here, and the trust of my army in you has been shaken, Locke. I may have been acting, but that doesn't mean everyone else was, too. We have to send Freya back."
"No! I won't send her back there! Zephyr poisons her mind and clouds her judgement, just like he did with our soldiers downstairs!" Locke snapped.
"Of course he does! He's a fucking evil Fae!" Shea yelled back, glaring at Locke. "But he won't kill Freya if she's with him! Believe it or not, Freya is safer with Zephyr than she is here! The one we have to worry about getting back now is Emily, because I highly doubt she's happy or safe there!" she growled. "So I have a plan, and we're going to follow it exactly, so that there aren't any more hiccups. Understand?!"
Locke eased back a little, glaring hard at Shea, but he nodded. As much as he didn't like it, she had a point. Freya was safer in her own castle, even if it was with Zephyr. He wouldn't kill her as long as he could keep bending her to his will. "She's been poisoned... We have to fix her."
Shea shook her head. "No, we don't. Zephyr has poisoned her as a means to an end. He won't let her die. He's trying to make you look like the bad guy. If we fix her, he'll know something is up. We have to return her to the Unseelie court the exact same way she came to us. The sooner we do that, the better." She looked at Melody next, frowning a little. "What's wrong with you?"
Mutely, she rolled her eyes. Because I'm a siren everything I say is bullshit? Melody thought, Maybe that's why nobody helped me get my voice back. They don't trust what I have to say. The siren glared at her friend. She shook her head at Shea in reply, and left the room, knocking into Shea purposely as she went. She was done being here, fighting against magic. She was done not being trusted. I want my voice back. I'm gonna get it. She decided, and headed to her room, locking the door behind her when she arrived.
Shea watched Melody go, then turned back to Locke and Nelson, frowning at them. "Alright, so here's the plan..." she said, wringing her hands firmly in front of herself. "Locke, you are going to take Freya back to the castle... but you won't be going alone. I'm sending Melody with you."
"Why Melody?" Locke asked with a frown and a small wrinkle of his nose.
"Because she's deadly with a bow but Zephyr doesn't know that. As far as he knows, she's lost her voice and is therefor useless. She cannot sing or sway him with words. She will be going to get Emily back." Shea explained. "It will instill false trust between us. It'll buy us time."
Locke frowned again, looking at Nelson, who also seemed unsure about the plan. "And what do I do? I'm going to the guillotine as soon as I get there." he frowned. "Who's going to save me?"
Shea shrugged, crossing her arms over her chest again with a disapproving scowl. "You can either save yourself--which I'm sure you're more than capable of doing--or we'll have to trust that Melody or Freya, or both of them, will step in. It's a risk I'm willing to take."
"That's comforting," Locke scoffed angrily.
"I'm going to tell Melody the plan. As soon as I'm done, you're going. End of discussion. We have to get Emily out of there as soon as possible." Shea said, then left the room, leaving Locke and Nelson to tend to Freya. She moved down the hallway to Melody's room, knocking firmly on the door. "Mel? I need to talk to you." she called.
Melody wanted to yell at Shea to go to hell, but of course she couldn't. Her anger hadn't subsided yet, and since Mel couldn't take a vow of silence, she decided that she would stay in her room until Zephyr came back and she would ask him to come with. Mel ignored her friend's knocks, impatiently waiting for her to leave.
Shea knew Melody was angry with her. It was almost tangible through the door. She sighed, dropping a hip and putting her hands on her hips impatiently. "Mel... c'mon," she protested a little more gently. "Mel, I need to talk to you about the plan... I want to send you in." Maybe hearing this would let Melody know how much trust Shea was putting in her, and how much she meant to this cause. "Mel?"
Melody kicked her door in a "Go away" kind of way. For one night she didn't want to talk about battle strategy. She just wanted to go back in time to before she had taken Freya to that club. She laid down on her bed, upset, angry, and confused, and stayed there, ignoring Shea's protests.
Shea sighed heavily, pinching the bridge of her nose at the kick to the door. "Oh-kay..." she muttered under her breath. "No war talk then... Can I talk to you about something else...? Like... before the attack?" she asked, hoping she could at least ask Melody how she'd felt about the kiss they'd shared before they'd been attacked. "I... I just really need to see you, Mel. Please."
Mel groaned to herself, Why is she so dang stubborn?. She ripped a blank piece of paper out of her journal and scribbled on it, "Leave me alone Shea. I don't want you to have to listen to all of my bullshit, like you said. I'm going to bed. Go away." The siren slipped the note under her door, and flipped off her light, crawling into bed angrily.
Shea stooped and lifted the note, reading it with a heavy sigh. "Mel, that's not what I meant, and you know it!" she snapped, crumpling up the note in her fist. "But fine! Be that way. I was gonna send you to the castle with Freya and Locke to get Emily back, but obviously you don't care about your friends. I'll just go myself." she yelled. She turned, ripping the note to pieces as she stomped away from Mel's door.
Big blue eyes watched the interaction between the green haired girl and the door. She'd been watching the group from a distance for some time. They seemed like a family, and she missed that, ever since her sister died. She'd only been five at the time, but she remembered the crazy man who came and took her from her bedroom. She remembered the cage, and all the other children, even eight years later they echoed in her mind. They killed her big sister the night of the rescue, and she'd been trying to find a family ever since. It was easy when you could be anyone you wanted.
She waited until the girl had made it a ways away and began to follow. She looked around nervously, feeling like she was glowing in the dark. She was naturally pale, her hair and skin white as snow. It was easier to change being pale, but it wasn't exactly inconspicuous. She took the form most familiar to her, a tall tan woman with chocolate brown hair and dark eyes; her sister Echo, who had raised her since before she could remember. She had been using her sister's form since she had gotten to the base, laying low and learning battle techniques. It was hard at first, learning to operate a body that had already gone through puberty, but she mastered it with only a hint of awkwardness. She lost track of the mermaid, but there was only a few doors in the hall, and one of them was the commander Locke's door. She didn't know what she could do, but she wanted to help. Reaching out a closed fist towards the door, hesitated for just a moment, and knocked loudly.
Shea, who'd just gotten back to Locke's room and was pacing in anger and trying to figure out their next steps without Melody, stopped when she heard the knock on the door. Hoping it was Melody, she moved to it and threw it open, only to stop and be disappointed by the sight of the dark-skinned woman instead. Her let-down was apparent as she slumped her shoulders and sighed briefly out of her nose, closing her eyes to calm herself down. "Yes? What can I do for you, soldier?" she asked, keeping a hand on the door, her face now expressionless and hard to read.
"I...I..."The girl stammered, nerves getting the better of her. She had been longing for acceptance into this group for so long, and now she had the chance to help them with their plans. Her hair started to green, mirroring the mermaid's locks, but she hadn't noticed. "I... I'm Aura. I was in the mess hall. I can... I can help you."
Shea quirked an eyebrow at her, then as she noticed her hair beginning to change to match her own green curls, she blinked. "Aura..?" she asked, then pointed at her gently. "Your hair is turning green." She then seemed to realize the girl's talents, and she looked over her shoulder at Locke and Nelson before pulling her into the room, shutting and locking the door. "You're a shape shifter?" she asked in a low voice, keeping her pinned to the wall.
Aura's eyes widened as she pulled a lock of now-green hair into her view. "Sometimes when I get really nervous I change to whoever I see. I thought I had it under control." The last part was more to herself than to the mermaid,"I saw your fight with that door. It seemed kind of intense...." Aura trailed off as a commotion distracted her behind Shea. "What's going on back there?"
Freya sat up, slow and groggy, feeling as though she had the body of an old woman. Her head was pounding, and her throat felt like it had been stepped on by a rhino. She looked around with heavily lidded eyes but couldn't grasp her surroundings. She set her forehead in her hands to try and stop the spinning. It didn't help, and a wave of nausea overcame her, but she swallowed hard and got it under control. "Queens don't lose their composure." She scolded herself silently.
Shea glanced back at Freya as she was waking up, giving a small frown and then turning back to Aura, raising a stern finger to her so that her fingernail nearly touched her nose. "Anything said in this room never leaves your lips. Understood?" she asked firmly.
Locke and Nelson both leaned forward, Locke sitting on the edge of the bed she was laying on, and he put a hand to her forehead. "Freya? Are you alright..?" he asked helplessly. "I don't know what happened..
Freya, still disoriented, pushed Locke's hand away. "Space please. You do not touch your queen." She had gotten quite used to barking orders in her castle, niceties were often seen as weakness. "What do you mean you don't know what happened to me? Clearly I was poisoned or something. Where is my meal tester? I'll have his head for this."
"Freya, you're not in your castle..." Locke said gently, shaking his head in confusion. "No one poisoned you. The last thing that happened was..." He looked up and glanced at Nelson and Shea and Aura before looking back at Freya with a lowered voice. "We were kissing, and then you collapsed, choking like you couldn't breathe. I didn't know how to help you. I'm pretty sure Zephyr had a spell hold on you." he explained somberly.
Freya narrowed her eyes at Locke, "Did you kidnap me?" she asked very seriously, not remembering anything. "I have a husband, why would I be kissing you? I barely know you anymore Locke, it's been years."
Locke nearly fell off the bed in shock. He recovered and stood away from her. "Y-years?! No! It's only been a month since I last saw you! You're not married, nothing else has changed!" he insisted, then looked between Nelson and Shea for help.
"That clenches it: Zephyr definitely had a spell hold on her." Shea said firmly, crossing her arms and shaking her head. "He's garbled her memories and fed her misinformation. I don't know how much work it'll take to get her back up to par... We're going to have to find a mind worker. I'm sure there's one among the ranks."
"If she doesn't remember what's happening, how are we supposed to get Emily back?!" Nelson asked, looking panicked. "I'm going out of my mind with worry here! What could that messed up mind of his be plotting for her?! It's tearing me to pieces!" he whined, rubbing at his face until a section of skin came loose.
"Hey! Cadaver! Shut your trap! You're tearing yourself to pieces!" Shea snapped. "Don't worry, we'll figure something out! He wants Locke and Freya returned within three days. We have that long to come up with a plan, so let's not freak out now."
The queen stood, annoyed with her peers. "YOU WILL NOT TALK ABOUT ME LIKE I AM NOT HERE!" She yelled over the commotion, stamping her foot. It was childish, yes, but it got their attention. "I will not wait three days to go back to my castle. Locke I thought you had given up this game years ago. I chose Zephyr. He has my heart, not you. You're a servant remember?" She waved a hand in a dismissing gesture, "You have until I count to three to get out of my sight, all of you." She looked around the room, and found herself staring at an exact replica of herself, only more terrified and young looking. She looked at Locke incredulously, "What's this?" She pointed at the clone, "Were you planning on kidnapping me and replacing me with this?"
Aura stammered, not realizing she had shifted into Freya's form, "I...I...I didn't mean to..." She backed herself up against the wall in fear as the real Freya turned on her. The queen sneered at the copy, and then turned back to Locke, "She's not even a good imitation, a queen would never cower like that." Freya laughed then, "Actually, send her, I'd love to see my kingdom eat her alive." She glared back at the mirror image of herself, who had straightened up a little at the mention of her cowering.
Shea blinked, turning to look back at Aura, and then tapping her chin with a finger a little. "You know what... she's right," she said, moving towards Aura. "A real queen would never cower like that." She then grabbed Aura's hand and pulled her away from the wall. "Listen, Aura, you have an amazing talent that we could really use right now. But I'm not about to put you in a position of real danger. I have a new plan." She turned back to Freya and Locke and smiled. She looked at Freya then, and tilted her head. "Sorry, highness, but you can't hear this."
"What do you mean, she can't hear the plan?" Locke asked, shaking his head.
"I can't risk her telling Zephyr, either willingly or otherwise, about what's going on. If Zephyr can manipulate her mind that easily, then information can be way too easily infiltrated. I'm sorry, but she's an enemy from this point on." Shea said sternly. "I'm going to take Nelson and Aura here to discuss the new plan in my room, and you stay here with her and see about fixing whatever damage Zephyr has done to her." She held onto Aura's hand, waving for Nelson to follow, and opened the door again, ushering them out into the hallway.
Freya stared at the door indignantly, "I'm the enemy? YOU kidnapped ME! Not the other way around. I've left you alone all this time and for what? For you to spend all this time plotting against me? This is absolutely outrageous. Take me home at once." She crossed her arms and waited impatiently, tapping her foot.
Locke watched them go, then sighed and closed his door, locking it again firmly. He turned back to Freya and frowned, then moved to her and put his hands on her arms gently. "Freya, I swear to you I didn't kidnap you. You came here willingly... with the port cullis you gave me. Do you remember that? You gave it to me and told me to run... but when I saw Zephyr had been abusing you... I used it on us both. We've been on the run for decades together. The last time I saw you was a month ago in our apartment in the city." He gave her arms a gentle squeeze and tilted his head, his eyes big. "What's the last thing you remember about me, Freya?"
Freya shook out of his grip, a look of shock on her face. "The last thing I remember? Would you like a history of the rebellion?" She walked away from him eyeing a bookshelf. "I remember you sneaking into my bedchambers late at night, my honeymoon to be exact. I remember you were blind with rage, and you had slaughtered my chambermaids. I remember you, standing over me with blood soaked paws. The only thing that saved me was Nate, but that was after you slashed my stomach." She turned to face him now, and lifted her shirt to show her torso, revealing a thick, jagged scar running vertical from the bottom of her rib cage to the top of her waist. "This is your fault Locke. We gave you a pardon because I healed, and you were in your wolf form so Shea and the others defended that you were not in control. Zephyr agreed, I didn't. I've seen your wolf. I know you can control it. The absolute last thing I remember about you, Locke, is banishing you and the others out of the magic world, and you threatening to return for revenge." She glared at him, still holding her shirt up so the vision of the scar he caused would burn into his memory.
Locke stared at the scar across her once perfect belly. He shook his head slowly, taking a step back. "No... no, it's not true. I didn't do that!" he said in a growl, his eyes lighting up. "It's Zephyr! He's poisoned your mind!" He turned and moved to his closet, pulling down his black box of photographs and dumping it out on the floor, digging around in the mess before he found a photo of them sitting together on the curb in front of the penthouse apartment in the city, just after they'd bought it. He held it up to her, showing her their smiles, and shook it in her face. "This! This is where we were just a month ago!"
Freya pulled her shirt down and took the photo from Locke. She stared at it, and then looked up at Locke, a small smile of pity on her face. "Locke...this was years ago. I remember this day. I've heard you've been spending most of your time in wolf form...did it really mess up your sense of time that bad?" She shook her head, and put a light hand on his arm in an effort to comfort him, looking around again at the room. "Either way, you have to answer for your crimes Locke, please. Take me back to the kingdom."
Locke's eyes widened in disbelief. He felt like he was going crazy, but he knew he wasn't. He had a perfect sense of time because he hadn't actually been in his wolf form but a couple of times since she left. He pulled his arm away from her with a jerking motion, and glared hard at her. "I'm not taking you anywhere... yet." he growled. He didn't have to worry about her getting out of a window, because this room had none, so he turned and left the room, slamming the door and locking it shut. "Whatever spell Zephyr has on you has to wear off eventually!!" he called through the door. "And when it does, I'll be back!"
Freya stared in disbelief at the door after Locke left. He was going to come back for her. He couldn't just leave a queen locked up. When he didn't come back, fury and a little bit of panic overtook her. She pounded the door, "Locke! Let me out! Let me out this instant!" She yelled. She gripped the doorknob, and her flesh sizzled. Of course, iron. Freya cursed under her breath and stepped away from the door, cradling her burnt hand in the other. She glared at the bookshelf to her right. A few books levitated at her glare and she used her magic to hurl them at the door. As expected, nothing happened. It felt good to destroy Locke's things though, and that's exactly what she did. In a whirlwind of debris she used her magic to pick up the now empty bookcase and Freya flung that at the door as well. It bent the door, but not enough to allow Freya her freedom. She fell to her knees, exhausted from her use of magic, and sobbed. She missed her kingdom. She missed Zephyr. Locke was going to kill her, and she was defenseless.
Locke moved away from the door quickly, going to Shea's room and shoving it open angrily. Shea looked up from where she was talking with Aura and Nelson, who both seemed captivated by her plan. He moved into the room after slamming the door, and growled lowly. "What are we gonna do?" he asked angrily.
Shea gave a smile. "I'm glad you asked. Aura here is going to pose as me and take you and Freya back to the kingdom. Nelson and I are going to stay nearby with a small battalion and some weapons, just in case. But we have to keep in mind... this is a rescue mission, not a battle. We get in, get Emily, and get out."
Aura stood excitedly, tugging on a lock of snow white hair as she did so. "Yea, I'm a shifter. It's totally badass. Check this out!" Her tiny frame morphed and grew into Locke's muscular one in a matter of seconds, her bones popping and grinding with the shift. She still stood in her teen girl pose, with one hand resting on her popped out hip. Aura retained her bubbly personality, and next to the real Locke, who was still fuming, it looked quite comical. "It's totally awesome right?" Her voice sounded like Locke's, and she giggled at the feeling of the low rumble in her throat. "I've never been a dude before."
Melody hesitated before entering Shea's room. Shea had said she was going to Freya's kingdom, and Mel didn't want the last time they saw each other to be a fight, Shea was her best friend after all. She heard Locke say "I've never been a dude before" and curiosity got the better of her. Mel walked in, not bothering to knock. She stopped dead in her tracks at the sight of the two Locke's standing next to each other, and gave Shea a very pointed "What is going on here?" look.
Shea and Nelson couldn't help but laugh, at Aura's new form, and how Locke cocked an eyebrow at Aura. When Shea looked at Mel, her laughs died instantly, and her smile became strained. "Nice of you to join us." she said softly. "We were just going over the plans. Wanna help?"
Mel nodded, and then pointed at the twin Locke's, avoiding Shea's gaze. She knew instantly which Locke was the imposter, and circled it, examining and poking him. "What on Earth is this?" She wondered.
"Mel, meet Aura. She's a shifter, and she's going to help us. She's going to impersonate me, taking Freya and Locke back to the castle. Nelson is going with me and a few others, and we're going to hide in the surrounding hills with weapons, just in case things go sour. I want you," she said, pointing at Mel, "to go with Aura, Locke, and Freya. Take your bow."
Turning back into her young pale self, Aura extended a hand toward the siren. Melody gave her a concerned look, but took her hand. "Nice to meet you!" Aura bubbled at the girl, beaming in excitement until realized Melody wasn't going to respond. Her smile flattened, "What's your problem? Just because I'm young I'm not good enough to get a response? Rude much?" Melody shook her head, and looked to the others for help explaining. She noted for the millionth time just how much she hated Nate. If Melody ever got the chance, she vowed to herself that she would drive one of her arrows right through his heart.
Shea cleared her throat and shook her head, stepping up to Aura and saying calmly, "Melody is a siren who recently lost her voice in battle. Note the scar across her neck? Cut voice cords." she explained solemnly. "She's not answering you verbally because she can't. But she's learning sign language, and if you give her a chance, she can write a response."
Aura shrugged, "Well, why don't we fix her? I mean, one of us has to have the right kind of magic don't we?" She looked around the room at the others, who were avoiding her gaze. "What? Nobody here can help? That's lame." She thought for a little bit, and her eyes brightened, "I know somebody who might help! She helped me escape once..."
Shea blinked and looked at Aura, both surprised and suspicious. "Who would that be? Is it someone in our resistance? Or someone back in the castle?" she asked, watching Aura closely.
"Well, I was only five...I don't remember her name, we just called her the Red Lady. I was in a cage with a few other kids and these people would come and take one of us every night...but the Red Lady found out and saved us. She used magic to do it...maybe she could help." Aura shook her head in frustration, "I don't even know where to find her though."
Melody narrowed her eyes at the little shifter, listening to her words. She grabbed a scrap piece of paper and scribbled on it quickly, handing it to Shea, "She doesn't mean Freya does she?"
Shea read the note slowly, her brows furrowing, before she passed it over to Locke. "There's only one way to find out." she said, looking to Aura. "We have someone here we want you to meet in your true form." she said seriously. She looked to Locke, who didn't object, then took Aura by her arm and led her to the door and out into the hallway.
Aura dug her heels into the floor and morphed herself into a giant heavy man. "I don't go anywhere dragged, and totally not in my true form." The big man crossed his arms in a very childish way.
Shea looked at the huge, bulky form of the manly Aura, and folded her own arms with a quirked brow. "Oh? Fine. Will you come with me?" she asked more politely, offering her hand to her. "And it's important that she see you in your true form, or else she won't recognize you."
Aura shifted into the form of her sister. "I don't meet anyone in my true form. It's safer that way. Not that I don't trust you or anything, it's nothing personal." She pulled her arm out of Shea's grip.
Melody, standing outside of Aura's view, rolled her eyes and silently mimicked the teen. She moved her hand as if she had on an imaginary puppet. She caught Locke's eyes and grinned sheepishly.
Shea shot Locke and Melody a small, chastising look, then turned her attention back to Aura. "Well, that's smart. I commend you." she shrugged matter-of-factly, then moved around Aura and shut her bedroom door, cutting them off from Locke and the others so it was just them in the hallway. She kept her voice low as she turned to look at her again. "Listen... the woman we have is the Queen of the Unseelie Court, and the last royal of the magic kingdom... which really makes her the queen of all magic beings." she explained. "She will probably be scared, and will try to appeal to your sympathies for help. You need to think practically and keep your head about you, especially if you two do actually know one another."
Aura started to roll her eyes, but thought better of it. "Okay." She'd been on her own ever since her sister died, and she wanted to remind the mermaid of it, but Shea reminded her so much of Echo. They were both tough, but nurturing. It hadn't even been a day yet and Aura was already attached to the mermaid. She smiled at her, a tone of playful sarcasm in her voice, "You do know I've been on my own since I was little right? I've totally got the survival thing down pat."
Shea's own lips turned up into an almost uncharacteristic smile, and she leaned in close to Aura and whispered, "I know." She crossed her arms over her chest and walked a slow circle around the other girl, and looked at her again. "But the funny thing about the game of survival is that just when you think the world is in your favor... it turns on you. So you always have to be careful, and always know who's really on your team." she explained, giving a wink. "Now are you gonna talk to Freya or not?"
Aura gulped silently, not sure if Shea was threatening her or not. She nodded, "What if it's not her? I don't even remember what she looks like to be honest. Just red. She was red"
"If she is the one, you'll know. Trust me. You'll just know." Shea explained with a shrug and then slid her hand against Aura's back gently, leading her towards the door in a soft nudge. She unlocked and opened the door to Locke's room carefully, a little surprised to find the mess of books and other furniture piled against it on the inside. She looked up and sought Freya out with her eyes. "Highness."
Freya crouched, startled at the sound of the opening door. Her eyes narrowed when Shea spoke to her, and Freya saw her chance. Once again the room was alive in a whirlwind of rubble. The only chance she could count on to escape was right now, and she was going to use it. Freya rushed the door, and the debris followed, pelting the wall in echoing booms. She reached out a hand and pulled Shea roughly to her, and wound her long fingers around the mermaids throat. "Let me go home or I'll rip your throat out Shea," She growled.
Shea didn't flinch or fight back, but merely raised her hand towards the ceiling pipes. She clenched her fist, then yanked down, as if pulling on an imaginary chord. With the motion, the large water pipe burst, and the water spray flooded them both. But unlike Freya, Shea breathed through it with ease, and took the opportunity to break free of Freya's grip and grab her arms, pinning them behind her back with her knee between the red-head's shoulders.
Freya spit water out of her mouth as she slammed against the ground. She tried to squirm free of the mermaid's grip, but she was at too awkward of an angle and Shea was too heavy. Freya yelled, and used her magic to pick up a chair and hurl it at Shea, knocking the green haired girl off of her back. She scrambled to her feet, her face a mask of fury. "YOU CAN NOT KEEP ME HERE!" She screamed as she stepped towards the mermaid. More and more debris circled Freya, keeping her in a vortex of protection.
Shea had let out a cry as the chair connected with her, giving her a cut in her brow just over her left eye. She growled and pushed herself up on her elbows, glaring up at Freya. "Wanna bet?" she growled. There was a lot of water flowing into the room from that pipe--enough to make a monster from. Two large arms made of water grabbed Freya and lifted her off the ground, hugging her into a chest that felt like a brick wall. Shea pulled herself onto her feet, using the wall for balance, and tried to shake the dizziness from her head.
The queen was drenched now, and her wet hair whipped in ropes around her face. She struggled for only a moment before realizing that the water golem wasn't going to release her. Thinking quickly, Freya used her powers to start a fire in the debris, trapping Shea against the wall. Freya yelled loudly again, and the flames leapt to the ceiling.
Aura watched the battle between the Unseelie queen and the mermaid with wide eyes. These two were supposed to be friends and they were going to kill each other! She turned and ran to get the others, Echo's legs carrying her faster than her own could. When Aura finally reached the group she slipped and skidded to a stop, bumping against Locke's muscular chest. "They're...they're..." she gasped, trying to catch her breath.
Locke frowned down at Aura before he moved around her, Nelson following close on his heels with Melody. They moved into the room and Locke glowered at the sight of fire holding Shea against one wall, and water holding Freya against the other. "ENOUGH!" his voice boomed, shaking the walls and causing floating items to fall from the air. It was enough to pull Shea's eyes from her water golem, making him release Freya as it dissipated into a wave of water that extinguished the fire around her. Locke moved to Freya and grabbed her wrist in a firm grip, then moved to Shea and grabbed her as well, dragging them both out of the room. "Now that my room is ruined..." he growled, his voice underlying with a wolfish snarl, "Shea can go with the others and finish planning. I'm taking you." he said to Freya, pulling her down the stairs.
As she stumbled after him, Freya spoke angrily, "You're hurting me. Let. Me. Go." Freya missed a step, crying out as she fell forward to her knees but Locke didn't loosen his grip. She glared up at her captor and she could feel that the skin was broken on her knees. She focused hard on a bracelet around her wrist, heating it until her skin blistered, anger numbing the pain. It was resting against Locke's hand and she could see where it burned his skin.
Locke could feel the bracelet burning into his palm and fingers, but instead of letting her go like she'd hoped, he instead tightened his grip and turned to face her, lifting her up by her arm and pinning her back to the wall, their faces suddenly close. His eyes were lit up, icy blue, as if he was on the verge of changing. "I've already experienced more pain than you know, Freya, for you. So if you think this is going to suddenly break me, you're sorely mistaken." he snapped, watching her. "You're not yourself right now, Freya! You haven't been since you went back to the kingdom! The sad part is that I have no idea how to fix you, but I'm completely unwilling to let you go!"
Freya's eyes widened, and she no longer looked like royalty, but more like a small child being chastised by their parents. Locke's grip had already begun to bruise her wrist, and she was worried he was going to break it. "You're hurting me," she repeated in a small voice. Her shoulder was in agony, Freya had heard a pop when Locke wrenched her up by her arm, and she had assumed he dislocated it. "Please. I won't fight anymore." the queen avoided Locke's eyes, defeated.
Locke had heard the pop in her shoulder too. His ears were too keen for him not to. He watched her wilt in front of him, and his heart sank. It wasn't what he wanted. It wasn't how he wanted to see her, ever, and especially not because of him. He released her wrist carefully, revealing the burned imprint of her bracelet on the inside of his palm and fingers... like an elegant printed band. It would be there for the rest of his life, but he didn't seem to care. Anything to keep him connected to Freya was precious. He let out a thick huff of breath through his nose and glared at the floor, then mumbled, "I'm sorry I hurt you. Let me take you to see the healer... then I'll.... I'll take you home."
"I don't need a healer. I'll be fine." Even though she said the words, she cradled her hurt arm with her other hand. "You've done enough." Freya remembered all those years ago, the tender touches and whispered words. The Locke she knew was not the werewolf standing in front of her, the one who so easily broke her like she was a glass figurine. "Let me go back to my husband."
"He's not your husband." Locke snapped again suddenly, then breathed and rubbed his eyes. He was too close to changing. If she continued to piss him off like that, he'd lose his temper all too easily. "Freya... what you remember of me is not real. And even if it was, you used to trust me, and love me once upon a time. So let me ask you... why did you choose Zephyr? When was the exact moment that you wanted him more than you wanted me?" he asked, his face serious as he watched her.
Freya's eyes widened again, but this time out of shock rather than fear. "Let's think Locke. Maybe when you broke into my castle, slayed my staff and left me gutted like a fish. And then again, when you vowed to destroy me after Zephyr and I granted you and the rebellion mercy. And now, when you threw me around like a damned rag doll, and you didn't give a damn if you hurt me. Zephyr, in all the years I've been reunited with him, has never once laid a finger on me, but you leave scars as if they were gifts I should be honored to have. How can I love a beast who threatens me with pain when he doesn't get his way?" She spat the last sentence at Locke, her spark returning now that he had released her.
"Beast?" Locke echoed, his eyes lighting up again. His bones started to pop and his muscles shifted, his teeth and nails growing out first into fangs and claws. "He eats children, beat you black and blue, and pitted your own people against one another in a heartless war, and I'm the BEAST?!" he snarled, looming over her as his body started fighting to change beyond his control. He growled and gave a sad whine, covering his face with his hands as his wolf forced its way through.
Locke turned his back on her as he changed, not wanting her to see him like this, then suddenly two hands were on her arms gently. They were cold and gentle, but they led Freya away quickly. Nelson frowned as he ushered Freya down the hallway and towards the nearest subway exit to get back up to the surface of the city.
Freya yelled behind her "I WASN'T REFERRING TO THE WOLF!" She allowed herself to be led like a dog to the surface, numb to everything around her. The cool night air blasted her face, and she fell once again to her knees, a sob escaping her throat. It had been a long time since Freya had been forced to think about her past with Locke, and it felt as though she was being stabbed right through the chest.
Unlike Locke, Nelson had stopped the instant that Freya fell to her knees, releasing her and giving her a moment to breathe and gather herself. He watched her, then moved to kneel in front of her, putting a sympathetic hand on her uninjured shoulder. "Freya, we have to keep moving.... or else Locke will catch up, and I'll be dog food." he whispered. "If you want to get back to the castle, we have to go now."
Freya shook her head, "One. I'll keep you safe. Two. I want to get away from both of them. One of them is messing with my head. My memories keep flickering in and out and I don't know what to believe." She stood, dusting off her clothing, trying to regain her regal composure. She smiled at Nelson, but then noticed something. "Where is everyone else Nelson?"
Nelson frowned at Freya and shook his head. "They're below still. No one knows I'm here with you, highness." he explained softly, watching her sadly. "Highness, I will take you wherever you want to go... but I ask in return that you let me see Emily as soon as we're back at the castle. I have to see Emily. She's my dearest friend... please. She's the only one that makes me feel like my undead heart still beats."
Freya narrowed her eyes at the zombie. "She wants to be there Nelson. She chose her brother." At the undead man's defeated pose she spoke again, "But if that's what you want...that's what you'll get." Freya looked around, "Nelson, is there a body of water anywhere around here? We need to disguise our scent."
"Central park is just that way," Nelson said with a renewed smile at her promise to let him see Emily. He motioned for her to follow, and as he moved, he unwrapped a piece of fabric from his own arm under his sleeve and offered it to her. "You should sling your arm. I was using it to hold my arm in too, but you feel pain. I don't." he shrugged.
The queen shook her head. "I'll be fine, and you'll draw a lot more attention with a limb dangling off your torso." She laughed as she helped him retie the fabric, clumsily with her one arm. "What a pair we are, let's get moving."
"Hey, we each have one working arm, we'll be fine." Nelson smiled, shrugging. He paused when he suddenly heard the unmistakable howl of Locke's wolf, and he frowned. "Time to go." He started to run, waving Freya on as well, heading towards Central Park and the man-made lake there. "Hurry, Highness, I'd rather not be a chew toy tonight."
The two ran as fast as they could to the lake, and Freya laid out the plan as she ran. "I want to go to Nate's. He owns the whole building but he hasn't been back since the rebellion all those years ago. He's heavily protected it with magic, and Locke won't be able to sniff us out over the smell of vampire and stale blood. You'll remember it," she puffed as they neared the shore of the lake, "It was where you were created." She didn't wait for a response, and dove right into the icy water.
Nelson hesitated, his eyes going a little wide, but another sound in the darkened background of the forest made him jump into the icy lake. Because of his lack of decomposition, swimming through the frozen water was harder for him, but at least he didn't have to worry about drowning.
It was over. The horrible, nightmarish hallucinations and terrors were finally over. Emily lay absolutely exhausted, her hair and clothes matted with sweat, her skin pale and eyes staring blankly up at the ceiling, the ropes having bitten into her wrists and ankles long ago and now caked with both old and new blood, and her throat left raw from screaming for so long. Her body couldn't even shake with terror anymore. Her muscles ached everywhere, even in places she didn't know existed. Even though her chest was heaving with each breath, she still felt like she couldn't breathe. She was no longer aware of Zephyr, or of his room. She was only aware of the fact that despite her hellish ordeal, she was still somehow alive. Her heart was still beating loudly under her ribs, and now that she had control over her own mind again, she could only think about Roland, Freya, Nelson... her friends back in the human world. Her parents... she wondered if they still worried about her; if they still loved their children, no matter what they had become. She felt cold, burning inside only to freeze on the surface. What would Zephyr do to her now? What else could he possibly do? Someone as twisted and evil as he surely wouldn't have any problem coming up with new ideas for torture. She didn't want to think about it. She instead wanted to think about happy things... Christmas time with her family, before Roland went away. Their mom had made them wear the ugliest holiday sweaters for family pictures... but Roland had smiled anyway. He used to be so light-hearted and kind. What had happened to him? Had Zephyr manipulated him, too? Tears managed to well up in her eyes, and then spilled over into her hair.
He had been watching her ever since the hologram spell had ended. It was fascinating to Zephyr, the idea of fear. There was nothing that could make him scream like that. The idea of torture and spilling blood was an aphrodisiac at best, and at worst was plain boring. This human girl intrigued him, a little doll that should have broken hours ago. He tilted his head at her as she started to breathe more calmly, "And there we go. Broken...and I had such high hopes for her." Zephyr mused. He sat in his armchair in the dark corner and listened to her breath. It was heavy, but steady, for a while, but Zephyr's ears perked up when it started to become uneven. "What is she doing?" He thought, </i>"Is she...crying? It can't be. That ordeal should have cost her her soul. She should just be an empty body..."</i> But it was true, he noted upon further inspection, The human hadn't lost her sanity yet. He crept up silently to the bed, unnoticed by the girl. "Why are you crying?" He asked her, purely out of curiosity.
Emily sniffed a sob, still staring up at the ceiling. Her ears were ringing from her own screams that had lasted hours... but Zephyr's voice still came through. She wasn't sure why she wanted to tell him the real reason for her tears... whether it was the childlike curiosity in his tone of voice, or because she feared these might be her last living moments... either way, she had no reason to lie. "I miss my family." she admitted, her voice nothing but a wispy croak of its former self. "I miss Roland... and my parents. I miss my friends... I could die today, and they don't even know where I am or why I left... I never got to say goodbye, or tell them I loved them one last time." she whimpered, giving another sniffle. "But I don't expect you to care. I don't expect it to make a difference, or appeal to any semblance of sympathy in your cold, dead heart... if there is one."
Zephyr laughed quietly, "Little human, you've villainized me. I'm making you strong. You've survived the worst kind of torture, the torture of your mind. You should be proud." He stood from his crouch, and smiled genuinely at her, "I'm not going to kill you. I will not waste talents like yours. I just need to know I can trust you little human." Zephyr patted her head, almost affectionately. "I suppose you're famished. I will fetch you food. Wait here." He chuckled at his little joke as he exited the room.
Emily stayed silent, glaring at the ceiling as Zephyr walked out. Once he was gone, she set to work, squirming in her binds. All of her thrashing had caused the ropes to cut into her wrists and ankles, causing blood to flow. Blood served as a nice lubricant in the best of times. She tugged and twisted slowly, until her left hand slid through the ropes and came free. She breathed a sigh of relief and set about untying her opposite wrist.
Just as she was making progress, Zephyr's door opened. She gasped, wide-eyed, then laid back, thinking it was him. She pretended to still be tied, but it wasn't Zephyr that approached her. Roland looked down at her, and raised a finger to his lips in a motion for silence.
Emily gasped. "Roland!" she hissed, sitting up on her free arm. "What are you doing here?"
"Getting you out, though I see you may not have needed my help," Roland said, joking lightly as he cut the ropes around her bound wrist and moved to do the same to her ankles. Once she was free, he helped her onto her feet and hugged her tightly. "I'm so sorry, Emily... I meant it when I said I never wanted to get you tied up in this."
Emily sniffed, melting into his hug. She had missed her brother. "It's alright... It doesn't matter now. We have to go." she whispered, grabbing his hands.
"I can't go with you, or else Zephyr will track me. Just trust me when I say there's more going on in this castle than you know... Plenty of double-crossing to be had." Roland whispered and gave her a sad smile. "I will get you out of here alive, Emily, I promise, but we have to hurry. Zephyr doesn't leave his new pets alone for long."
Emily knew there wouldn't be a lot of time for Roland to explain, but there were still things she wanted to know, even as Roland was pulling her by her hand out of Zephyr's room. She kept her mouth shut, trying to ignore the pain in her wrists and ankles with every move she made. Roland checked up and down the corridor, waited until he couldn't see or hear any maids or soldiers, then pulled her out and to the left.
"There's a port cullis on the roof of the castle... You can use it to escape. I put it there in case of emergencies." Roland explained seriously.
"But if I use it, how will you get out?" Emily asked in a whimper, watching the back of Roland's head.
Roland glanced back at her with a small smile. "Don't worry about me. Zephyr trusts me, and so does Nate. I can just walk in and out of this place if I wanted to." For now, anyway. He didn't tell her that part though. He turned his eyes ahead again and led her hurriedly up a twisting flight of stairs towards the rooftop gardens. "The port cullis is the left eye of the gargoyle on the North face of the garden wall. All you have to do is touch it." he explained to her in a hushed voice quickly.
"Roland, Roland, wait," Emily whimpered, pulling him to a stop and making him look at her. "Roland, why doesn't Zephyr have control over you like he does with everyone else? Why can't he manipulate you or me? I felt it earlier... he tried to get into my head, but he couldn't. Why couldn't he? We're just human... aren't we?"
Roland frowned down at her and shook his head with a sigh, gripping both of her bloodied hands. "I don't know, Emily. I can't tell you, honestly. I really wish I knew. But let's not question something so useful, right? Now's not the time to ponder it." He kissed her forehead, then pulled her along and through the doors to the rooftop garden. But just as they stepped outside, they were met with a dozen or so soldiers, and spears and arrows aimed at their chests. Roland instantly stepped in front of Emily protectively. "Back down the stairs! Go!" he said.
Emily whimpered, her eyes wide. She didn't want to go back to that dark room of Zephyr's and back to whatever torture he had planned for her. She turned to go back down the stairs, but was stopped in her tracks by those same evil eyes, and a twisted grin. "Zephyr..." she gasped in horror, stepping backwards towards Roland out of fear.
Freya and Nelson had made it to Nate's apartment building easily, the echos of Locke's howls fading as the entered the city. It was a rush to be back in New York for Freya, having lived in her kingdom so long. The fae were a beautiful people but they were stuck in the ways of the past. She had forgotten how it felt to have cars speed past, and how tall the buildings were. "Nelson I don't know if the building has been taken care of in all of these years. Nate owned the whole thing, and he's spent all of his time with me since the war. Hopefully its not too bad." Freya stared at the keypad for the electronic lock on the front door, trying to make her brain remember the code. She couldn't bring it to mind, but her fingers pushed numbers anyway, out of habit. To her surprise, the code worked, and Freya turned and grinned at Nelson as the door unlocked. "Well, let's see what home sweet home is now."
Nelson watched her, still a little wet from their swim. He was glad that as a zombie, he couldn't really feel cold or hot... or freeze. Though he did walk a little stiffer now. He wasn't too keen on returning to the place where he turned over. He could swear the stitching that held his leg on now itched at the memory of Nate cutting it off. He steeled himself though, and followed Freya into the warehouse.
The interior of the building was still in decent condition, but the air had the tangy smell of blood permeating through it. Freya looked at Nelson in happy surprise. "Well, it's livable. That's something. Once we open some windows or someth-" She stopped mid-sentence, distracted by the sound of footsteps on the above floor. "What was that?"
Nelson looked at Freya with a small look of indigence at her surprise that the building was still in good shape. He was beginning to wonder if she would ever truly realize that it had been only a month since she'd left. When the footsteps thumped overhead, he looked up, poised like a scared cat ready to bolt. "Someone's here..." he whispered. Maybe it was Nate? He could only hope. For Emily, he thought, he'd have to find out. "Wait here. I'll check it out," he said, heading for the stairs.
Freya rolled her eyes at the zombie. "And just how exactly are you planning on defending yourself? You're a corpse. I have magic. We can both go." The queen pushed past Nelson and made her way up the staircase, carefully checking each step for rot before putting her full weight on it. Once the pair was up the stairs, Freya stopped to listen for more steps, but it was silent. She turned and looked at Nelson, shrugging.
Nelson had followed her up the steps, but with a grumble of, "I'm not a corpse." He stopped with her at the head of the steps and looked at her with a shrug of his own. It was quiet now, which meant that whoever--or whatever--was here, knew they were here as well. "Should we go in guns blazing?" he whispered nervously. He still thought he should go first. After all, he was nearly indestructible. He still wasn't entirely sure if he could die at all... He wasn't sure he could trust the Hollywood interpretation of beheading a zombie as a sure-fire way of dispatching it. But he wasn't really willing to experiment on it either. Still, if he went in first, whoever attacked him would most likely go for his chest or torso--he hoped.
"I wouldn't think that's the best idea for the two of you." replied a voice from behind the door. It creaked open slowly, and Nate stood in it's frame. "Freya, I've been worried about you. Does Zephyr know you're here?" He asked her, a look of genuine concern on his face. He gently grabbed her by both shoulders and turned her to him, letting go quickly when she winced at the pain. "What happened to your arm your highness?"
Freya avoided Nate's gaze as she replied, "It was L...Locke. It's only a dislocation, I...I just need to set it, Nelson and I just haven't had the time, we've been running." She tried to sound nonchalant, but her arm was a glaring reminder of how much the werewolf had changed over the years, and she couldn't stop the tears. "What did I do to make him hate me so much?"
Nate shot a confused look at Nelson, and gingerly held Freya as she sobbed, "I'm sorry, but since when has Locke hated you, Your Majesty? The wolf pines for you. It's pathetic, sure, but he certainly doesn't hate you..." When Freya just shook her head, he looked to Nelson for an explanation. "What is going on here?"
Nelson, giving Nate a sort of pale look of relief, shook his head and whispered. "She's distraught. Let's get her dried up and taken care of, and I'll explain everything. But we have to hurry... Emily is in trouble."
Nate sighed, almost bored sounding. "Why must there always be drama amongst this group of friends? I'll never get to feed at this rate." But he shook his head and led the pair into the room behind him. "Oh. This might bring memories back for you Nelson, it is where I.." the vampire cleared his throat, "Killed you. Sorry about that."
"Nah, it's alright.... I'd practically forgotten." Nelson lied with a nervous gulp as he looked around. The stitches holding his leg on at the thigh were itching. He absently scratched at his leg through his pants and then looked at Freya. "Let's get you taken care of." He put his hands on her shoulders and led her further into the building towards where Nate had a fire going, and he sat her down.
Freya's sobs had quieted down to a few sniffles here and there, and she was staring at the fire, grateful for its warmth. "Nate, will you set my shoulder please?" she asked in a quiet voice. The vampire nodded, and moved as quickly as he could to fix it. Before Freya had even realized he had moved her arm was already fixed, though still tender. "Thank you." she said as Nate relaxed in an overstuffed armchair in the corner of the room.
"Of course my Queen. Now I do believe you two have some explaining to do." Nate replied, waiting for an answer. When Neither replied he stared intently at Nelson before finally speaking again. "You look awful zombie. You need more of my blood. Tell me what's going on or I will refuse to give it to you and you will rot away. You will never see Emily again."
"Whoa, okay, that escalated quickly!" Nelson said, holding his hands up with wide eyes. "Can a zombie get a moment to think?" He sighed and looked at Freya before saying, "Something's wrong with Freya and Locke. Freya is under the impression that it's been years since the war, and is convinced that Zephyr loves her... and Locke thinks Zephyr put a curse on her to make her think so. He even went as far as to slice her stomach and blame it on Locke. But we don't know how to break her out of this hypnosis, and Locke is hunting for us. It's only a matter of time before he finds us, and we need to save Emily."
Before Nate had the chance to respond, Freya spoke up "Nelson, how many times do I have to repeat myself? Locke is a traitor. He's the one who tried to kill me. He's the one that brainwashed you. And do I really need to remind you that just earlier today he wolfed out on us and tried to kill us again?" She crossed her arms angrily at the zombie. "Why are you fighting me so much on this? The evidence is clear" Freya hadn't realized it, but she was pacing the room as she spoke, kicking dust up behind her as she went.
Nate raised an eyebrow at Freya's outburst. "Your majesty, If I may...the Dog has always been many things, but unfortunately traitor is not one of them. But perhaps you are right. We should examine the situation without our biases. Could we agree on that?" When the queen did not respond, Nate rose and blocked her path.
"Really Nathaniel?" Freya glared and attempted to step around the vampire, but he just moved back in front of her. "Have we all just forgotten who I am? When did it become okay to argue with your queen? When did it become normal behavior to block her path? When did these changes take place?" Freya yelled at the others.
"I would like to say they probably took place when our queen decided she would rather act like a spoiled stubborn child instead of the adult she claims to be." Nate calmly replied, staying in her way. When Freya stared at the vampire in shock, Nate grinned at the zombie. "She forgets I am one of her oldest friends." He turned back to Freya, who was regaining her composure. "Now, where were we? Ah. Yes, the evidence. Your grace, if you would please show me the scar the mutt left you?"
At first, Freya hesitated, still not quite sure how to handle Nate's retort. "Well, if it'll prove me right then why not?" She thought to herself. With a sigh she lifted her shirt just enough to show the entirety of the wound without revealing herself to the vampire. Nate looked back at her in confusion, and she rolled her eyes again. "What Nate? Have you never seen a woman's torso before?"
Nate shook his head and beckoned Nelson to join them, "No your grace, it is nothing like that. But your skin is perfect. There is not one blemish, let alone a scar."
Nelson moved closer sheepishly and peered at her midsection as well, which--as Nate had said--was smooth and perfect. "He's right, Freya. There's nothing there." He pointed towards a mirror on the wall. "See for yourself."
Freya looked between the two, trying to decide if they were playing a joke on her or not. When neither one of them moved, she turned towards the mirror in confusion, dropping her shirt in the process. Freya brushed off layers of dust off of the glass, took a deep breath, and lifted her shirt once more. Her reflection was just as they had said, smooth and perfect. She turned towards her friends, bewildered. "How can this be? I distinctly remember that night. Locke...the dagger. Nelson....you saw the scar didn't you?" Freya dropped to her knees, a cloud of dust surrounding her as she did.
With a nervous gulp, Nelson shook his head. "I didn't see anything, Freya..." he said and then glanced at Nate. "She and Locke are the only ones who saw anything. I think Zephyr jinxed them both or something." he said softly. "And Locke's freaking out may be part of it... I think Zephyr is majorly influencing him right now."
Nate nodded but didn't reply to the zombie, choosing instead to comfort Freya. "Your grace, we will figure out what is going on, but I believe a night's rest is in order. You look exhausted. Let me take you to my guest room." As he was speaking, Nate made his way to Freya's side, placing his hand on her shoulders, "Answers can wait."
Exhausted as she was, Freya wasn't going to admit it easily. She shook Nate's hand off of her and stared at him through the mirror, "I know the house. I can make my own way there, but for now I'd like to be alone."
Nate nodded, and beckoned to Nelson, "Well...We have our orders. Shall I take you back to your closet?" He asked the zombie with a wicked grin.
Nelson gave Nate an incredulous grimace and shook his head. "I'd rather sleep outside," he grumbled. "Speaking of, that might be a good idea. The queen has a habit of sneaking out of places... I should stay outside and keep an eye on the windows and doors."
"I heard that." Freya called after the pair, and Nate smirked. "Suit yourself, but I was about to eat when you two barged in here and if I do not get blood soon I will have to massacre an entire bar. Starving vampires are useless. With the mutt on the prowl it would be more prudent to sleep indoors, harder to distinguish the smell of rotting flesh in a vampire's den." He shrugged nonchalantly then, "But that was just a suggestion."
With another wrinkle of his nose, Nelson said, "So you're saying... I gotta stay inside and watch Freya while you go and eat? And then when you come back we'll switch places?"
Nate shrugged, "Really, It's more like I will not be here to protect you both. Miss Emily will not forgive me if something happens to your rotting carcass in my care." He smirked at the zombie. "I won't be gone long."
Nelson didn't like the sound of this at all, but he didn't think he had any choice in the matter unless he wanted Nate to decapitate him. He sighed and crossed his arms. "Fine. Just hurry. If Freya decides to sneak out again, I can't really stop her..." he mumbled. He had tried and failed already, after all. A few times.
"It will be fine. Freya is terrified of everything right now, and in her mind she has been a queen for years. Queens do not run from their emotions after all." Nate walked a few paces away before turning back to Nelson, "Don't worry, I'll stay within earshot."
He didn't trust Nate, but Nelson had a feeling Nate already knew that. He frowned at him, his arms still crossed, and he waited for him to leave. Once Nate was gone, he sighed heavily and moved to sit on the floor in front of the fire, trying to dry his soggy skin and clothes, and keeping his ears open for the queen. Off in the distance, he heard a menacing and angry howl, and he shuddered, hoping the rain would help lead Locke off their trail.