“ Dad!” Toren groaned as he stretched his arms and legs. He hadn’t meant to fall asleep on the couch. But it had been a long night. He’d spent most of it waiting for Tristen to get home. Today was his daughter’s birthday and they were planning something special. But it wasn’t going to be what he and Tristen had intended, but they were carrying on without her. As he rubbed his eyes he realized he had no idea how long he’d been asleep. “Lir! What time is it?” Lir shook his head, “It’s only 2 o’clock. But Grandma says if I didn’t get you up now you wouldn’t have time to get changed before we leave.” “ I guess your sister already left with your Uncle Ravi and Elysium?” “ Yep.” Toren pulled himself up from the couch, “Alright, let’s go.”
Half an hour later and the rest of the Vijayakar clan, excluding Tristen, had arrived at the docks. Toren and Tristen had decided that celebrating their daughter’s birthday at her favorite place would be a wonderful surprise. Unfortunately, He hoped that Tristen had been delayed only by the bad storm that had raged throughout the previous night and not by something more sinister. After some soul searching, Toren had decided to go through with the original plan even with his wife absent. She would not want to ruin their daughter’s big day any more than necessary. The second they hit the beach, Toren was called into a game of chase with his nephew Zeric Walosenko.
While Zeric seemed happiest playing with one of the adults, Lir, Rhiannon, and Elysium were all spending the afternoon together. Ely, the oldest Walosenko sighed, “You’re lucky Rhia. You’ve got a brand new dress to wear at your birthday. Me I’m stuck in this old thing.” Rhiannon laughed, “Come on Ely, you look nice. And I’d much rather be wearing pants with all this sand.” Lir swung his arms and rocked back and forth on his heels, “Ladies, are we going to play or not?” The girls giggled, “Okay..Let’s get him!”
Lir darted away as fast as he could around the beach. The three cousins made sure to dodge the punch bowl where Ravi and Tala Walosenko were observing the party. Ravi grinned, “Hard to believe our baby girl’s going to be a teenager. The girls seem to be having fun. Lir’s really being a good sport letting them chase him like that.” Tala responded with a “Mhm.” In the background Zeric Walosenko stood as far away from his loud cousins as he could get. He was the odd ball in the group, not caring very much for all this running and screaming. He’d much rather be at home with one of his books.
While the older children dashed about supervised by Toren, Tala, and Ravi, the elder Vijayakar couple took up a post near the beach to keep an eye on the twins. “Wish we’d thought of doing something like this for the kids when we were younger.” Glyn smiled at his wife, ‘This is very nice. It’s so nice to see all the grandkids in one place.” Glyn glanced around, “Toren did invite Silvana didn’t he?” Kali laughed, “Of course. She had to work today though so she’ll be along later. And yes, she’s bringing Eddie with her.”
From up on the dock Rhiannon called excitedly, “Glyn-Glyn! Nana Kali! Watch!” Glyndwr chuckled from his place beside his wife, “Told you it wouldn’t take her long to hit the water.” Kali smiled softly, “I don’t remember disagreeing with you dear.”
“ Ely! Come play Marco Polo with me.” Elysium strode along the beach trying to keep her shoes out of the water. “No thanks, the water’s too cold.” “ Baby. Lir, come play with me!”
“ In a sec Wia!” Toren shouted a warning to his only son, “Lir.” Lir wiped his hand with his mouth, “Okay.”
“ Looks like you and my sister have your hands full.” Toren nodded shaking his head as he caught Lir trying to sneak back to the punch bowl. “I’m not going to tell you again.”
“ You invite Ryker?” Toren smiled his eyes still glued to Lir, “He should be coming sometime tonight. He’s been meaning to talk to Rhiannon about her gift.” Ravi’s eyes were drawn toward the twins Kalana and Xanthe who had just been joined by little Eddie Fairchild. “Looks like your sister’s here. And how is Rhiannon handling everything?”
Toren was free to give Ravi his full attention as Lir darted off to play with his Aunt Silvana. “She’s doing much better than I did at her age. She doesn’t seem too happy that Lir isn’t a half-vampire too though.” “ The two seem to be very close. Wish I could say the same for my two.” Toren frowned, “Ely and Zeric don’t get along?”” “ Not really. The two are quite the opposite of one another and to be honest I worry about Ely. She has quite an attitude.” “ Hmm Rhia can have an attitude when she wants to. Maybe it’s a girl thing?” Ravi raised an eyebrow, “I hope so.”
Lir had watched his cousin Zeric with great curiosity as he played with his sister, Aunt Silvana, and Ely. The three of them got along great, and although Lir had invited Zeric to join in he hadn’t seemed to want to. Lir didn’t like to see people left out and to him playing with your mom and dad during a party couldn’t be much fun. As Rhiannon and Ely left to build a sand castle and Silvana to check on Eddie, Lir had decided to go give Zeric some company.
It didn’t take Lir long to break down the cautious barriers Zeric had thrown up. He was soon babbling on about his favorite topic. “Did you know that a toy robot has over 100 pieces? I took mine apart the other day because it was shooting sparks. It took me all afternoon, but I got it working again.” Lir’s eyes grew big, “Really? That’s pretty cool. Do you think you could show me how to build robots some time?”
“ You really want to learn how to do that?” Lir nodded enthusiastically, “Sure. It sounds like fun.” Zeric grinned, “Maybe you can come to my house sometime.” “ Sounds great Z.”
Toren soon called for everyone to gather around the cakes that Silvana had baked for the girls. Rhiannon being the eldest got to go first and would be followed by her cousin Elysium. Lir and Eddie were the first to arrive at the cake. Eddie smiled up at Rhiannon on wobbly legs, “Happy Bithday!”
But before Rhiannon got the chance to blow out her candles, Toren stopped her. “Do you think I can have one more dance before you grow up on me Rhia?” Rhiannon stepped back from the cake with a smile. “Sure.” Toren swung his daughter around on his feet for the last time, and had to hold back the tears. He hadn’t expected to get this worked up about his baby girl growing up into a young lady.
But she couldn’t stay his baby forever. Toren stepped back as his mother came up from the shore. Everyone got into the cheering even serious Zeric, coaxed on by his new best friend Lir. Rhiannon looked around at all the faces that had come to cheer her on. She did take notice of the fact that one face was missing from the group, but she knew her mother had wanted to be there. And so far no one in her family could control the weather. Taking a deep breath she leaned over the cake and blew out the candles.
Everyone at the party agreed that both girls had aged beautifully. “Looks like you got that new outfit after all Ely.” Elysium nodded, “Yeah. Se your parents remembered your favorite colors.” Rhiannon grinned, “They even found them in a pants suit this time. Come on what’s your deal?” “ El couldn’t make it.” Rhiannon snorted, “Why would I want her at my birthday Ely? It’s bad enough I have to see her everyday at school.” “ Come on Rhia. Sometimes you think El’s okay.” Rhiannon pulled her knee closer to her chest. “I guess.”
“ Girls, try not to fight on your birthday.” Glyn reprimanded gently. In his arms was his youngest grandchild. Edward yawned sleepily and buried his head into his grandfather’s bare shoulder. “Think we better go find you mom little guy. You tots just aren’t quite up for staying out on the town like these young folks.”
As night fell over the beach, everyone except the main family had gone home. The cousins all made plans to see each other the next day at school. As Glyn and Kali went back to sit by the beach so Lir could have one more swim, Toren decided to take the twins home. As she waved good-bye to her father, Ryker Kim appeared on the horizon. “Hey Rhia!” Rhiannon grinned from ear to ear, “Uncle Ryker!”
“ I was starting to think you wouldn’t make it.” “ Come on now Rhia. You really think I’d miss out on seeing my best friend’s eldest daughter turn into a young lady?” Rhiannon smiled shyly, “I just thought with the twins you might be too busy.” “ Yeah the munchkins do keep me pretty busy these days, but not so busy I can’t make time for the rest of you.”
“ The old man tells me you’re a medium. Heard you even talked to Loros. How is the old guy these days?” Rhiannon shrugged, “He seemed to be doing okay. Why do you think I’m special and Lir’s not?” “ That still buggin you, princess? Well it’s all genetic, so since you’re not directly descended from vamps anymore it’s only natural some of you kids might end up without gifts. I wouldn’t worry about it too much though. Look at me. I don’t have a gift and it doesn’t bother me one bit. Used to when I was younger, but I figured out after a few centuries that a gift doesn’t make a person entirely who they are. It’s just a small part of the big picture.” Rhiannon began to whistle as she looked up at the stars, “Hm, guess you’re right.”
“ Uncle Ryker?” “ Yeah princess?” “ Do you still play the drums?” Ryker laughed, “Now who on earth told you about that?” “ My dad.” “ Ryker you going to bring her home?” Glyndwr called from the beach, “Lir needs to get to bed or he’ll never get up in time for school.” “ Sure thing! We won’t be much longer.”
The next morning Rhiannon arrived at her new school bright and early. “Good morning! And welcome! It’s good to see such a crowd! My name is Jo and I will be your primary instructor from now until each of you embarks on his or her life journey.” Rhiannon looked around the small house. She knew that Rainbow Valley was a small settlement and therefore class sizes were always small. Really small. She still didn’t understand why locals found calling a group of 4 people a crowd so funny. And why was El staring at her? Jo continued from the front of the room, “Alright. Let’s all have a seat and introduce ourselves.”
The only boy in the room cleared his throat. “I guess I’ll start. My name is Randy London and my family lives near the south harbor. My father is a carpenter and we run the small furniture shop in the south shopping district. Jo smiled, “Thank-you Randy. Miss Walosenko why don’t you go next?”
Elysium cleared stuck her hands into her pockets, “Okay. Well my name is Elysium, but everyone calls me Ely. Although I was born and raised here, my parents aren’t Nectu. My father is a gypsy from Waterfall Springs and my mother is well, her father was a Nectu, and her mother was descended from Valen elves. So I’m a mix of everything I guess. Oh my dad is one of the general’s in the militia. That’s him over there by the door. I’m fine dad, you can go now.’
Jo interrupted, “One moment Miss Hutchins. Actually Ely, your father has agreed to assist me in teaching you all this semester.” Jo clapped her hands and pointed at the blonde girl to continue. Miss Hutchins leaned back and put on a bright cheerful smile. She started speaking in a bubbly voice, “Hi! My name is El. Yes E. L. Two letters. I guess you can tell that I’m a traditional. Mom’s the current Chancellor, and dad’s in the militia. I live near the harbor like Randy, but we live on one of the larger estates. Our family’s been here since the beginning and all that. What else can I tell you? I’m a bit of a bookworm, and being traditional I love the outdoors, and I love long walks on the beach.” Jo cleared her throat, “Thank-you very much for that El. Miss Vijayakar, you’re up.”
Rhiannon shrugged, “Not much to tell that you don’t already know.” Rhiannon found this exercise almost pointless. The four students had been going to school together since they were five. They all knew each other, except of course their new instructor. But since the teacher obviously knew her uncle then no doubt she knew her father too, so why waste time with a lot of details. But she supposed her dad might not have mentioned her name aloud, “My name is Rhiannon, but everyone calls me Rhia.”
Jo caught sight of Ravi shaking his head by the front door. She gave him a half-smile in response. “Okay. Well it is very nice to meet all of you. Now normally ladies, we don’t usually train for combat, but you all have shown an interest in learning some self defense. I think that’s very admirable and so that is why you were placed in my classroom. I’ve got to say I’m looking forward to working with more than one student over the next few years. And I’m sure Randy is happy to have people his own age to talk too. Eh?” Beside Jo, Randy began to turn a bright shade of red. Jo continued on, “Everyone please follow me out to the courtyard and we’ll get started.”
“ Alright, everyone take a seat against the fence. Yes, that’s perfect. Now I was going to demonstrate the use of the sword for all of you, but since Mr. Walosenko will be escorting his niece and daughter to class and is one of the best trained men in our militia I asked him to assist me in teaching. So I want you all to pay attention while he gives us all a brief demonstration.”
As Ravi demonstrated how to use a sword for the students, Jo provided commentary. “ Now notice how he keep his feet positioned so that each move can be carried out effectively? Proper footwork is crucial for learning proper use of a sword. Mr. London are you paying attention?” Randy quickly averted his eyes back to the demonstration, “Sorry.”
“ Now of course I don’t expect any of you to be able to pull of a round house kick today. And I don’t want to see anyone trying it either. You need extensive practice performing that action without something in your hand first. I don’t care if these are blunt, if I catch even one of you goofing around you will be immediately dismissed from this class. Am I clear?” All four students nodded.
As Ravi sheathed his weapon Jo smiled. “Thank-you Ravi! Now, it’s occurred to me that I’m presented with a lovely teaching moment. Someday you may need to leap a fence in order to escape or pursue someone. I will now demonstrate the technique and then allow you each an opportunity to to do so.”
Jo demonstrated for the fourth time how to correctly leap over a fence. So far none of the students had been able to accomplish the task correctly. And to think this fence wasn’t even that high! Obviously this group was in need of a lot of work. To say she was disappointed in El was an understatement. Her daughter really should have been able to perform the simple task of leaping a fence. But she seemed more interested in Randy London than leaping fences. “Okay, would anyone like to try again?”
As no one volunteered Jo sighed. Ravi spoke up from his place near the fence. “Rhia, you try it again.” His niece had come the closest to making it over the fence and he knew she could do it. For some reason his niece had a tendency to down play her abilities. She was very capable of doing most things she set her mind to, but seemed to hate sticking out in a group of people. Some his sister was in that girl to be sure, but if Tristen could overcome it so could Rhiannon. Rhiannon hesitated, obviously waiting for someone else to volunteer, but then finally stepped forward as Ravi motioned her over encouragingly with one hand.
On her second attempt, Rhiannon showed correct form but had positioned herself too close to the house during her approach to make it all the way over the fence. Jo smiled, “You’ve almost got it Rhia! Try it one more time, but remember not to run diagonally. Just run straight at the fence.” Rhiannon backed up to the starting position and tried again.
As Rhiannon made her third run, again getting to close to the wall El laughed. “You blind Rhia?” Jo shot her daughter a look as Ely called back, “Shut-up El. She got closer than you. Come on Rhia you can do it! Once more and you’ve got it!”
And the fourth run did in fact prove to be the charm. Rhiannon grabbed the fence and vaulted safely to the other side. “ Excellent job Rhia!” Rhiannon beamed at her uncle’s praise. She’d done it! She’d made it over the fence! Jo clapped her hands, “Alright everyone line back up against the fence. Ravi and I will demonstrate a fight and then we’re going to pair you up and give you a chance to spar before we end today’s lessons.”
Randy whispered to Rhiannon as Jo and Ravi began to spar, “Nice job with the fence. You know El didn’t mean anything right?” Rhiannon smiled sheepishly. “Thanks. Yeah I know.” And Rhiannon did know how El could be. The two girls had a love/hate relationship with each other. One minute they were laughing and the next they were fighting like cats and dogs. But they always seemed to be back to being friendly before sundown. At the end of the match Jo called for Ely and El to spar first. “ Come on Ely!” Rhiannon encouraged her cousin.
“ Hey!” Ely screeched, “Jo said no roundhouse kicks!” Jo pursed her lips. “El, if you do that again, I’m sending you inside and you can have a talk with your father when he gets home.”
“ Match to El!” Ravi called only a minute into the fight. “ A very nice effort though Ely.” Jo encouraged. “Though I would suggest that you not wear a dress to class next time.” El snickered and received a dark glare in return from Elysium. “ Okay ladies back to the fence. It’s Randy and Rhia’s turn.
Jo whispered to Ravi as the two teens took their position. “Why did you pair her with Randy? El’s more at Rhiannon’s skill level.” Ravi whispered back, “True. But she gets along better with Randy. Figured with the way they’ve been going at it today they might draw actual blood if we let them spar.” Jo snickered. “Guess you’re right.”
“ Sorry Rhia!” Rhiannon ducked back out of the way of the left foot and hand that were about to connect with her jaw. The foot missed, and though his fist did collide it didn’t hit her full force. “It’s okay.” she called back happily. From the sidelines Jo complained, “I said no kicking! Honestly people it was a very simple instruction!”
Randy tried to pin his sword against Rhiannon’s neck thus ending the match, but Rhiannon was far quicker and easily dodged out of the way just in time.
As predicted the match did in fact go to Rhiannon who like El had been taking self defense since she was a kid. Randy pulled back from the blade and laughed. “Nice.” he panted as they both sheathed their weapons. Rhiannon smiled, “Thanks.” El watched unhappily from the corner of the courtyard as her mother dismissed class. She grew even more unhappy as Randy and Rhiannon left class together.
“ So I just kick it with my foot?” Randy nodded, “Yeah, but just tap it. You kick it and it’s liable to end up on the roof.” Rhiannon tapped the ball lightly. “I did it!”
Randy huffed, “Yeah.” The ball sailed a little high, but Randy was a pro at this sport so was able to rebound without too much trouble. Ravi called across to Rhiannon, “Ely and I are headed home Rhia. Your grandpa is just across the street so he’ll be by in a minute to walk you home.” He turned to Jo, “It is okay if she waits here for a bit longer?” Jo smiled, “Of course.”
After Ravi and Elysium had gone home and Jo had stepped back inside Randy moved closer to Rhiannon. “Say, I was wondering are you doing anything tonight?” Rhiannon shook her head. Not really. Why? Randy shuffled his feet, “Well. I was thinking maybe we could go out tonight and celebrate your birthday. Ely and EI are going to hang out tonight, and I didn’t want you to feel left out.” Rhia blushed, “Wouldn’t that mean it would just be you and me?”
“ Yeah. I guess it would be. If you don’t want to that’s cool.” he said quickly. “ I know you don’t like crowds, I just thought. Well like I said I didn’t want you to feel left out.” Rhiannon smiled. “Actually, I’d love to hang out tonight. Uh I’ll have to check with my dad first though.” Randy nodded, “Yeah of course.”
Glyndwr arrived as Rhiannon was promising to call and let Randy know if they could go out as soon as she got the chance to ask her dad. “Rhiannon. It’s time to go home. I need you to watch the twins this afternoon.” “ Coming Glyn-Glyn. See ya later Randy.” Randy rubbed his neck. “See ya.”
“ Hey dad you in there?” Rhiannon called as she reached the shed at the back of the safe house property. She heard her father grunt in response. She slowly opened the door to find Toren in the middle of one of his calming exercises.
Rhiannon bent over into one of the new calming positions she’d learned from Ryker the night before. She grunted out as she struggled to stay in the right position, “Can I..ask.Uh. You something?”
Toren easily flipped into an upright position. He took one last deep cleansing breath and as he exhaled he nodded, “What’s on your mind Rhia?”
“ Well. I..” Rhiannon wobbled on her hands as she struggled to talk and hold her feet in the air at the same time. “that was pretty cool. How’d you do that?”
“ The dismount? You lower yourself down so you’re down near the ground. Then you push yourself back up with your hands bringing your feet over your head. It’s just a tumble. Go ahead give it a try.”
“ Oof!” Toren smiled from across the room, “Almost. You okay?”
“ Yeah.” Physically she was okay, but she was still a little embarrassed having fallen flat on her face. At least none of her friends had seen her do that. “ What’d you want to ask me about?”
“ Could I go out with a friend tonight? Randy invited me to go hang out to celebrate my birthday.” Toren grinned, “Is my daughter asking me to let her go out alone with a boy?” Rhiannon groaned, “Dad! Come on be serious. Randy and I are just friends. Can I go or not?”
Toren thought about it for a minute or two. He wasn’t that happy about seeing his baby girl going off with a boy, but it was rare for Rhiannon to ask to hang out with other people. She’d skipped out on her cousin’s sleepover a few months back, and she’d not wanted to go to the parks with El and Ely on Saturdays despite being invited several times. This was the first social outing Rhia had shown an interest in participating in. Though it worried him some he still gave his consent for her to go. “ Alright go ahead.” Rhiannon cheered and dashed toward the door. “But make sure that boy brings you home by 10 o’clock And I want to meet him before you two leave!” “ I will! Okay. Thanks dad!”
“ Rhia, thanks for taking care of the twins this afternoon.” Rhiannon looked down as Xanthe crawled into the room. “Fly me!” Rhiannon bent down to scoop her baby sister up into her arms.
“ Stop squirming Xanthe!” Rhiannon complained as her little sister wiggled around as she tried to fly her about the living room. “ I don’t mind. I know you haven’t been feeling well.”
“ Xanthe! You just drooled all over my new shirt.” Rhiannon turned her head, seriously wondering why her parents had so many kids. Right now she wasn’t even sure if she wanted one. Thank goodness no one was expecting her to have any! Kali smiled on the couch, “You’re doing fine sweets. I’m going to go lie down for a while. You’re sure you can handle dinner and the kids?” “ Yeah we’ll be fine. Go ahead and take it easy.”
Lir came dashing into the room as Rhiannon began making supper in the dining room. “He stopped to talk to Kalana who was sitting on the floor near the dining room table. “ Hey Kalana! Isn’t it exciting mom’s coming home tonight! Dad and grandpa went to pick her up at Aunt Silvana’s. And Rhiannon’s cooking dinner. You think it’s gonna be safe to eat?” “ Watch your mouth twerp!”
Meanwhile over at Silvana and Eddie’s house, Silvana was having a pajama day. Today was her last day off from work with little Eddie and she had decided to enjoy it. She didn’t have to be anywhere and the only people who were coming over were family, so Si had decided to spend the day relaxing with her little guy. Eddie proved to love stories almost as much as Silvana could remember loving stories when she was small. The time off work had brought mother and son closer than they’d ever been before. And now when she looked at her son, she rarely thought about Avri at all.
Eddie had been left to play with his toys while Silvana opened the door. She greeted Tristen, Toren and Iruviel, all of whom she’d been expecting. She smiled when she saw Iruviel, but her housemate pushed past her and into the living room. She was quickly followed by a strange dark elven man. “There the damsels in distress are home now Arleth. You can run along home now.” Iruviel raged trying to shoo the stranger from their home.
Arleth nodded, “I can see that you are fine. I’m trying to tell you Iruviel, we need to talk about this. We can’t keep doing this to each other.” Silvana stood in the background quite confused. “Uh, I’m going to go get changed.” She noticed her brother and Tristen had snuck off into another room as well.
Eddie put his toy block in his mouth as the argument continued just behind him. “What is there to talk about?” Arleth put his hands on his hips. Why did she have to be so difficult. “Us. We need to talk about us.” Iruviel crossed her arms, “There is no us, Arleth. There can’t be an us. You are a dark elf, and I’m clearly not. Even if there was an us, which there isn’t. It wouldn’t work.” Arleth sighed, “We won’t know that until we actually try. I want to try Iruviel. And I have a feeling you do too.”
From the floor Eddie began to cry. All these bad feelings were making him upset. Iruviel quickly scooped him into a tight snuggle. When his arms wrapped around her neck, Iruviel felt her anger start to slip away. She closed her eyes and sighed again. She did secretly want something like this, but she wasn’t the family type. Eyes still closed she responded to Arleth, “I’m loud, I can’t stand to sit still, I hate frilly dresses, actually I hate dresses period, I put my foot in my mouth, I don’t take sass from anyone, and I’m a Ceberlandon. You can’t possibly understand what that means.” Arleth let his hands slip to his side, “I’m a dark elf Iruviel. I was raised to find a wife that could stand up for herself, that could and no would protect those she loves with every fiber of her being. I know you have responsibilities to your family, and I’m not asking you to give that up. I have no family, so I can go wherever you need to be. I would like a family of my own, and I would like to see where our relationship goes.” Iruviel continued to snuggle Eddie. She did want something like this and really why not? “Alright. We can give it a try.”
Arleth had carried Eddie back to his room and had been told to bring his little toy truck. “You really like that don’t you?” Eddie laughed and smiled. ‘You purple!” Arleth laughed, “Yes, I guess I am.” Iruviel stood in the doorway, “Okay elf boy. If you’re gonna follow me home and embarrass me in front of my relatives, you’re gonna make yourself useful. Come on you’re gonna help me paint my cousin’s room. Eddie boy needs a nap anyway. Get going.” Arleth waved to the toddler on the floor, “Gotta go little guy.”
“ So Ravi’s taking care of the plant right? Feel good to be home?” Tristen smiled, “Yes, it was a rather nice trip considering the company, but I am most certainly glad to be back. I hate that I missed my daughter’s birthday.” Toren reassured his wife, “Rhiannon understood. None of us can control the weather you know.” “ Hmm. Not yet anyway. But in our family anything’s possible.” Silvana asked in concern as she looked over Tristen’s shoulder, “Dad you okay?”
“ Fine.” Glyndwr muttered, “Just this eight ball refuses to obey the simple laws of physics.” Toren laughed, “Well pool was never our sport old man. What do you say we hit the chess table?” Glyn stomped angrily over to the rack on the wall and put away his stick, “Good. Go get the pieces I’ll be there in a minute.”
While Toren and Glyndwr engaged in a game of chess, Silvana and Tristen took up a pillow fight. Tristen smiled, “You’re hair’s growing out again. It looks great.” Silvana held her sides, “Yes, I was going to get Iruviel to chop it off again when she got back, but I do miss having long hair. Mom was really upset when I cut it off.” “ You’re hair was always very pretty. I envy you. You can wear your hair short, or long and you still look amazing. Me I can wear my hair only one way or I hate it.” Silvana laughed harder, “Now Tristen, I’ll have you know that I wouldn’t look good bald.”
As night fell, the Vijayakar clan left to make sure Rhiannon hadn’t burned down the house cooking her first dinner. After another hour, Arleth came down and apologized for barging in uninvited. He regretfully was unable to stay for dinner, but he and Iruviel made plans to meet up when he was in town the following Tuesday. Silvana grinned, “He’s cute.” Iruviel snorted, “Don’t start. Come on I’m starving. Let’s find some food.”
After a quick dinner, and brief introduction to her family, Rhiannon and Randy had left the main house. “ Rhiannon shuffled her feet in the wet grass. “So.” Randy forced himself to keep his smile in place. “Some weather we’ve had lately.” Rhiannon shrugged, “I guess. We should get inside probably.” “ Yeah probably.”
The two teenagers quickly dashed into the small local hangout. The two made it just in time as it began to rain like cats and dogs. “You want to hang up your jacket?” Rhiannon picked at the loose cotton on her mittens. “Nah. I’m actually kind of cold.” Randy rubbed the back of his neck. He then spied the pinball machine. His eyes lit up as he waved his arms animatedly. “Hey! You ever played one of these before? It’s really fun.” “ No, I can’t say I have.” Rhiannon stammered. “ Wanna give it a try?” “ Well..”
Randy began to laugh while he shook his head, “Nope not tonight. You’re out to have fun remember?” Rhiannon smiled a little. “ Honestly! Look I’ll go first, but you are going to play at least once.” Randy proved to be horrible at pinball! He lost all three balls in 30 seconds or possibly less. Rhiannon caught herself laughing at his misfortune and felt herself beginning to blush, but catching sight of Randy grinning up at her she felt her lips turn all the way up.
Rhiannon did take a turn on the pinball machine. Well it was hard not to when your best friend dragged you over to the machine and stood behind you until you started to play. She was slightly better than Randy, but not by much. As she hit the red button to release her third and final ball she caught Randy staring at her. She felt her bangs fall into her eyes as she shifted away, “What?” Randy tapped his chin thoughtfully, “Nothing.” The ball fell through the hole at the bottom of the maze ending her game. Rhiannon whirled to face Randy with cold blue eyes. Catching his smile she suddenly understood, “You did that on purpose!” “ Yeah.”
Rhiannon couldn’t really remember how she and Randy suddenly ended up so close together. His arms reached around her hesitantly, his normally confident smile now replaced with a shy grin. She felt her arms slip around his back and brought her right hand up to rest on his shoulder. Her heart started to pound inside her chest and for some reason she found she was having trouble breathing. She wasn’t sure how long they stayed that way, only that it didn’t last long enough. She barely registered what he said as he let her go, “You did have fun right?” She’d only been able to nod in response. Words refused to come out of her mouth. The clock in the room chimed. “I guess I need to get you home.” Rhiannon couldn’t hide her disappointment. “Yeah.”
Suddenly Randy grabbed her arm and spun her back toward him. “Ah what the hell. You only live once!” As her lips connected with his Rhiannon felt her stomach do flip flops. And she finally understood why people said that sometimes it felt like fireworks were going off in their head when someone kissed them. The kiss didn’t last long at all, but she still caught herself gasping for air when he pulled away. Both teens smiled shyly at each other. Slowly Randy slipped his hand around Rhiannon’s and he even threw her hood playfully onto her head as they made a dash for his car.
The following morning on the north side of town Lindsay Ceberlandon was painting in the upstairs nursery. From below she heard a knock on the door, “Arden!” the older woman called to her son who was closest, “have you got that?” Her son’s voice drifted up the stairs, “Yes.”
Arden Ceberlandon opened the door to find his father’s newest apprentice standing on their doorstep. “Good morning Mr. Mendez. I suppose you are here to inquire about my father.” Jonathon smiled, “I was curious why he hadn’t shown up to work for the last few days.” Arden put his hands on his hips and frowned, “I told the hospital they needed to start making arrangements. I’m sorry.” the Valen elf apologized. “My father has been very ill. We don’t except him to recover.”
Jonathon’s face fell at the news. “I am so sorry. Is there anything I can do to help?” Arden waved a hand, “I’m a trained physician as well and can look after him until he passes on, but I really don’t want to come into the hospital until after he’s..well I’d like to be with my family right now. I know it’s a lot to ask, but do you think you can try to keep things running on your own.” Jonathon nodded, “Of course.”
“ I appreciate you doing this Mr. Mendez. I do apologize. The hospital staff was supposed to inform you about all this. If you need any extra help my sister Iruviel is also a trained doctor. Not as extensively as myself, but she can take minor cases. Thankfully the Valley is small so you shouldn’t get to overworked working alone.” Jonathon shook the elf’s hand, “Give your father my best wishes. And if I can do anything else, let me know.”
Jonathon enjoyed a quiet morning at the local medical facility. The only live in patient was the old Nectu historian. The old woman’s husband had died a year ago, and she’d told Jonathon she’d never been able to have children of her own. Li really did like Jonathon and had asked for him to take over her care full time, which was now necessary with the Ceberlandon family seeing to its own concerns. The young doctor was in the middle of making arrangements for his son Jason, when the phone rang in the main office. “Excuse me. I’ll be right back.”
“ Hello? I’m sorry I’m looking for Dr. Ceberlandon.” Kaya rushed out, “They aren’t available? Well” She wasn’t sure if another doctor would be suited for this, but really did she even know if Arden or Cinaed could handle something like this? Over the phone Jonathon’s calm voice drifted into her ear, “What’s the problem miss?”
“ My husband is a vampire. And he got out of his coffin in the middle of broad daylight. He’s never done this before. He just stood there and I couldn’t get him to get back inside.”
“ Wait did you say your husband is a vampire?” Kaya nodded, “Yes, he passed out on the floor. I..I managed to cover most of the windows, but he’s too heavy for me to move by myself. I’m scared he’s going to..” Jonathon interrupted the distraught woman, “Hold on. I’m on my way.”
Kaya hung up the phone and headed back up to the top floor. She wrung her hands worried as smoke continued to pour off her husband’s skin. Would the doctor make it in time?
Jonathon did make it to the house before the vampire died. He and Kaya managed to pull him into another bedroom that had fewer windows. Together the two covered all the windows with black fabric or furniture to block out any of the deadly rays. He’d had Kaya call the Ceberlandon house and Cinaed upon hearing about the emergency insisted on being given the phone. He’d told his apprentice that Ryker was likely suffering from Daywalker Syndrome. It was an illness which caused vampires to suddenly wake up in the middle of the day and become unable to return to the safety of their coffins. The survival rate was not good. They just had to hope Ryker would wake up from the seizure like paralysis and could get back in his coffin before he burned to death.
Jonathon opened the back windows as he’d been instructed and hoped the sudden shock would cause the vampire to wake up. At first nothing happened except the vampire started burning, but then slowly he began to come around. As he sat up, Jonathon began to kneel down next to him, slightly nervous having had some very poor interactions with his own kind in the past. “ Sir, the sun is still up. Do you think you can make it back to your coffin and go to sleep?” Ryker put a hand to his head. He was shaking all over. He registered what the man said, but knew there was no way he was going to go back to sleep. “No.” he coughed out. “You should get out of here kid. And get my wife and kids out of here too.”
From his place across the floor Jonathon was about to comply. The vampire’s pain was excruciating. He wanted to end it, but it didn’t seem like he could. He finally found a vampire, someone here who might could answer his questions and he’d found him too late. As he started to leave the vampire’s eyes snapped open, “Valen elves.” Jonathon pursed his lips, “Excuse me?” “ I don’t have time to explain. Just help me stand up. I think this is my only shot.”
Jonathon watched from a nearby chair as Ryker continued to smoke from his new place on the floor. He was seated cross legged in some kind of meditative trance. According to the vampire’s wife Kaya their friend Toren Vijayakar had insisted on teaching Ryker elven meditation techniques. She’d mumbled something about him being a half-vampire and a dreamer before going to check on her children and to call the rest of the family to update them with what was going on. This Toren Vijayakar, must be the Toren that Silvana talked about. He was her older brother, though Jonathon had yet had the chance to meet him. Right now though he was torn between a desire to bolt as far away from the house as possible and staying until the sunset. He wanted to talk to this Ryker, and yet he didn’t.
Kaya hung up the phone as night fell over the Valley. Jonathon had just taken her husband to the local hospital. He was going to need to stay there until the illness ran its course. He seemed sure that he would get better though. He’d talked briefly to Toren before he left and asked him to send someone over to look after her and the kids. Toren was sending Ravi over in half an hour. Upstairs she heard Edith crying.
Ravi let himself in the ancient house and took a seat on the couch. He didn’t expect any trouble, but since Avri was still on the loose and that wasn’t a good thing. As it turned out, there was indeed a very great deal of reason to worry about what Avri Fairchild was doing.
“ He has my daughter? Why didn’t you bring her back?” “ I’ve explained this to you before Gal. I tried to get her back, but there was no way to do it safely. Or did you want me to bring her back in pieces?” The old man wrung his hands as he paced the stone hallway. Avri smirked as the last statement gave him the desired result. He hated the old man, but his father was right. They were back to needing the simpleton again. Now he just had to convince the old man to go along with the plan. Shouldn’t be too hard. All you had to do was push the right buttons.
You were told it might come to this when Toren and his family escaped the first time.” He let out a cruel laugh his lips drawing into a thin line, “After everything that my family, that my people have done for you Gal, and now you’re backing out?”
Gal growled, “How was I supposed to know he wouldn’t turn her into a vampire too and that she would run off and tell her family? You made me kill my wife. You, told me that if I did that I’d find all the artifacts and then I could have my family back just like it was before. You said it would be better than before. You said after Andrea no one else would get hurt..and now you want my army to attack a village I’ve never heard of?”
Gal’s voice dropped to barely above a whisper as he continued to pace the stone floor beneath him, “He has Lyrika. I don’t care. He can have the other artifact. I’ll give it to him. I just want her back.”
Looks like he needed to change angles. “I suppose you could do that. But do you know what he’s going to do when he unites the artifact Gal? Do you know what he’s going to do to your precious Lyrika?” He let an icy silence fill the air increasing the old man’s agitation. “He’s going to kill her. That’s right he’ll take her away from you forever. Because you know what the stories say? He can tell death to send the dead anywhere. Think about it, he can make sure that you never see your wife or daughter again. He can make it so Lyrika never sees her mother again. I thought you promised her you were going to be a family again? I thought you understood that in love and war sometimes we have to make tough choices. I thought Oloros made a mistake passing over your family for that granddaughter of his. But it looks like he and the vampire were right. You’re weak. You can’t unite and rule two lands, hell you’re too weak to protect your own family!”
Gal froze in front of the model jumbok statue. His eyes grew large as Avri’s words sunk in. “No! I’m not weak. I can protect my family. You’re right. I promised my daughter we’d be happy again. I’m sorry I just I worry about her. She’s all I have left.” Avri nodded. His tone softened, but his eyes stayed cold as ice. “I understand sir. I’m sorry I had to be so blunt.” “ No, don’t be my boy. You had to snap me out of it. I understand that. You and your father have always looked out for us. You helped us get off the streets, helped me find my first job, you told me about the prophecy, about how everything could be so much better, and most of all you believed in me.”
“ Tell your father that my army will march on Lantern Yard in two weeks time. We will burn it to the ground. If he says its necessary for you to have a chance to get my Lyrika back, then of course I’ll help you.” Gal’s eyes grew glassy as tears formed and his voice grew hoarse, “Please, do everything you can to bring my little girl home safe. She’s my whole world.” Avri’s eyes were icy cold and his lips curled into a wicked smile, “Don’t worry. I’ll take very good care of your little girl. After all, I know how much she means to you.”
After Avri Fairchild was gone, Gal slumped to the floor. “Andrea, I’m sorry. The prophecy said I had to kill you in order for everything to turn out right for us. I tried to fight fate you know. But you can’t fight fate..and you and Lyrika... You deserve to be happy…I know I can’t be with you,..no…it’s almost over. I’m going to fix everything, I keep my promises,..no matter what.” He sat on the floor his head slumped helplessly against his knees. After a few moments he began to sob, his shoulders shaking uncontrollably a mad laughter escaping his lips as he tried desperately to stop. He’d give anything not to feel this pain anymore. Anything even his soul.
So we all needed another reason to dislike Avri right? And yes we needed another cliffhanger. I promise to try and keep the gap between part one and part two as short as possible. I wasn’t planning on posting this chapter today, but I wanted to post a chapter for my second year anniversary of posting this legacy. And since I’m on vacation it won’t be too long before I can get an update written up. A special thank-you to all my readers for sticking with me over the last two years. And thank-you to anyone who’s helped me through the various rebuilds and computer issues that have tried to kill this story in that time. Your kind words have kept me going and make telling and sharing this story truly worthwhile.