CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED AND FORTY
“What are we …?” Nelson asked.
Before he could finish his statement, the fairy warrior princess grabbed him around the waist. Time seemed to both stand still and flash by. He opened his mouth to scream and then found himself in the middle of his own apartment. He blinked and then blinked again.
He felt fine.
“You feel okay?” the fairy warrior princess asked.
“Blane said I should feel nauseous,” Nelson said.
“The magic sticks to Blane and Jacob,” the fairy warrior princess said. “It throws off their equilibrium. Magic does not appear to stick to you.”
“It’s in my father’s line,” Nelson said. “Why am I here?”
“We have determined this was the safest place for you,” the fairy warrior princess said.
“Because I am on my own?” Nelson asked. His voice rose in panic.
“Because powerful beings have already fortified this dwelling,” the fairy warrior princess said. “You are a consort to a Goddess, step-father to her children. The work was done a year or more ago.”
“A year ago? But …?”
The fairy warrior princess sighed.
“Those of Olympia live outside of time,” the fairy warrior princess said as if she were speaking to a child. “They came here a year or more ago because of something that is happening now or will happen. Their efforts will shield you, now.”
“What about the trial?” Nelson asked. “Ava thought I might be called in to testify. I would have to leave here!”
“We’ve induced the defendant to settle,” the fairy said.
“What?” Nelson asked. “Who are you?”
“I am Edith,” the fairy warrior princess said. “Second daughter of Queen Fand. Sister to the Blue Fairy and Prince Finegal.”
“And my sister,” another fairy appeared next to her.
The sisters hugged. This fairy was gorgeous — full breasted, narrow waisted, and wide hipped. She looked like every heterosexual male’s dream. Her eyes were big and just a touch too wide. Her hair was full and fell in perfectly maintained auburn curves down her back to her round, high rear. Her make-up was perfect. Was she wearing make up? She wore an expensive, hand sewn dress, and five inch high heels in matching burgundy.
“Princess Mari,” Edie said. “You know me as Edie.”
“I knew there was something going on with your hair,” Nelson said.
“Yes,” Edie said. “The braid is a cover for all of this. Before you ask, James knows that this is what my hair actually looks like; what I actually look like.”
“What will happen to everyone in Arizona?” Nelson asked. “Blane? Heather? The children?”
“They are safe,” Edie said. “Mari will stay with you. If, for any reason, you need to leave this location, she will go with you.”
“But …?” Nelson started.
“She’s looks a little soft, but if someone gets through the protection, she will defend you,” Edie said. “I’ve never known her to lose at anything. Except maybe to our mother.”
“Not anymore,” Mari said.
“Yes, not anymore,” Edie said. “You can trust that Mari will defend you.”
Nelson turned to give Mari an assessing look.
“She is a magnificent cook,” Edie said. “Truly the only one of us that can make anything worth eating. Mari is great fun to be around. You’ll enjoy your time.”
“But …?” Nelson started.
“We have told your friends — Ava in particular — that you have taken ill,” Edie said. “That won’t stop O’Malley from sniffing around — he can smell magic and knows a lie — but Mari and O’Malley are great friends. You will stay here for a while until an accord is made or those who threaten you are no longer living.”
“Rest now,” Edie said. “We’ll be in touch.”
“Would you like me to sharpen your sword?” Nelson asked. “In return for taking care of me and Blane and the rest?”
Edie gave Nelson a long look.
“Can he really do that?” Mari asked.
“He is a weapons master by birth,” Edie said.
“I was sharpening blades when I was a child,” Nelson said. “Your sword needs real attention from someone who knows how to care for it.”
With a nod, Edie gave the sword to Nelson. She smiled at Mari and then disappeared.
“Can you really do that?” Mari asked. “Make a sword sharp again?”
“Do you have one?” Nelson asked.
“Your family made a blade for me,” Mari said. “A thousand or so human years ago. It’s a named blade …”
“The Fairy Princess,” Nelson said. His voice held a touch of awe. “The blade is only myth. Legend. It’s not on my father’s list because he doesn’t believe it exists.”
“It was a bride’s gift from someone,” Mari said. “He died after giving it to me. Killed by Shiva. And rightly so, I might add, although it infuriated my mother.”
“It would be my honor to work on that blade,” Nelson said.
Nelson dropped his head in real reverence. Mari shrugged and looked at him.
“You look exhausted,” Mari said. He looked up at her.“Why don’t you sleep for a while? All we have to do now is wait.”
Nelson looked at Mari for a long moment.
“How is it that you cook?” Nelson asked. “Your brother told us that no fairy can make food.”
“We can’t make it with magic, that’s for sure,” Mari said.
“But you can?” Nelson asked.
“I’ve been going to Chef’s school,” Mari said. “My best friend is Sissy Delgado. I was complaining that I love food but I can’t make it. She told me that if I wanted to know how to do something I should go and learn how. So I did.”
“It’s actually pretty fun,” Mari said. “So while it’s true that we fairies cannot make food with magic, it is also true that no one ever bothered to teach us how to cook.”
“Will you teach the others?” Nelson asked.
“Maybe,” Mari said with a shrug. “I managed to get myself banished.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Nelson said.
“I’m not,” Mari said. “I spent many hundreds of years stuck in the Queendom waiting for my mother to trade me to someone for something she wanted. Now, I’m on my own. I have a good man. He had plenty of money so I have lots of clothes and shoes and … I’m learning a trade. I have real friends. It’s pretty great, really. I’m happier than I’ve been in all of my long life.”
Nodding, Nelson stifled a yawn.
“Go on,” Mari said. “When you wake, I’ll make you some breakfast.”
Nodding to Mari, he went into his bedroom. Taking off his clothing, he realized that he still smelled like sex. He took a shower. More than a little intimidated by the fairies, he got in bed, if only to hide. He fell into a deep sleep.
Monday early morning — 5:00 a.m.
When Nelson’s alarm went off at 4:10 am, he groaned and turned it off. He woke up at five and got dressed in his work out gear. He came out of his bedroom and went to the kitchen to make coffee.
Mari was leaning against the kitchen bar. She held out a cup of coffee. He took a sip, and then looked at her.
“Perfect,” Nelson said. “How did you …?”
“Hedone,” Mari said.
“Hedone has been here?” Nelson asked.
“Of course,” Mari said. “She wanted to make sure you were safe.”
Nelson blinked at Mari for a moment before grinning.
“So it’s going to work?” Nelson asked.
Mari just smiled at Nelson.
“What?” Nelson asked.
“Dear boy,” Mari said. “You are simply such a sweet human. That’s all.”
“Why?” Nelson asked with a scowl.
“You care about this family so very much,” Mari said. “It’s sweet.”
Mari opened her mouth to say something else.
“Whatever,” Nelson said. “I’m going to work out.”
“I shall go with you,” Mari said.
She pointed a finger at herself and she was wearing workout gear. Her hair was pulled back into a simple ponytail and she was wearing workout shoes. He was slightly surprised that she was small, not more than five feet.
“I can make myself taller,” Mari said, reading his mind. “Fin does that. He didn’t like that Jacob is taller than he, the Royal Prince. So he stretched himself. It’s simple magic.”
“Sissy says that I need to get used to just being me,” Mari said. “She says that I’m really great but I don’t know it because my brain is clouded with ridiculous magic.”
“It’s true. My brain is clouded with magic,” Mari said. “The more I am myself, the more I like myself. Mostly, I’m short because it’s pleasing to the misogynist. You know, I’m the one for sale at the highest bidder.”
“Gross,” Nelson said.
“But factual,” Mari said.
“Was factual,” Nelson said.
“Ah, yes,” Mari said. She grinned at him. “I am my own woman now.”
Nelson smiled at her, and she blessed him with a genuine, non-magic smile.
“Does your boyfriend care?” Nelson asked.
“About my height?” Mari asked. She thought for a moment. “I’ve never asked him. He’s a healer so my magic isn’t that interesting to him. He’s much more interested in the fact that I am ruthless, not that I’m short.”
“I guess that’s good,” Nelson said.
Mari laughed, and Nelson smiled. They started toward the stairs to the basement when Mari stopped walking. Nelson had this odd sense that the world around him flickered like an old film movie stuck between the scenes. He spun around to face Mari.
“What has happened?” Nelson asked.
“You could feel that?” Mari asked.
“It felt like the world, I don’t know, stuttered?” Nelson asked.
Mari gave him a bright and beautiful smile. He pointed at her.
“No,” Nelson said. “No trickery.”
“Actually.” Mari took such a deep breath that her shoulders rose and dropped. “You’re right.”
“What has happened?” Nelson asked again.
“Your beloved is a badass,” Mari said.
“My …” Nelson raised an eyebrow. “Blane? A badass?”
Nelson shook his head. Mari nodded.
“I don’t think so,” Nelson said.
“You want to see?” Mari asked.
“See what?” Nelson asked.
“Blane staked his claim on you and repel the forces that wanted to destroy everyone else,” Mari said.
“What are you talking about?” Nelson asked.
“I’d have to see this to believe it,” Nelson said with a sniff.
“We can watch,” Mari said.
“Why did the world stutter?” Nelson asked.
“We had a delegation here to check that you were well,” Mari said. “They left before you could take in that they had been here.”
“Who …?” Nelson asked. “What …?”
Mari just smiled at Nelson. He glared at her.
“My father warned me about fairies,” Nelson said.
Mari pointed at herself.
“Fairy,” Mari said, brightly. “Your father warned you about me?”
Nelson shook his head.
“I’m going to work out,” Nelson said.
“Okay,” Mari said. “Do you want to watch what happened when we’re done?”
“We can watch what happened?” Nelson said.
“Your father didn’t warn you about the fairy gift of broadcasting events?” Mari asked.
“I don’t know what that means,” Nelson said. “But if you can show me this event that included Blane, then I want to see it.”
“Okay then,” Mari said. “When are we going to fix my sword?”
“After we work out and have breakfast?” Nelson asked.
“Deal,” Mari said.
She held out her hand and Nelson shook it. She wandered into Nelson’s living room and took a seat on his couch.
“We may as well be comfortable,” Mari said.
Nelson shuffled to the couch and sat next to her. She pointed at his oversized flat screen television. The screen flashed on. It was blurry at first and then the image resolved.
“I put the time in the corner so you can see when it happened,” Mari said.
“Thanks,” Nelson said.
He leaned back into the couch.
“Oh my God, that’s the hotel!” Nelson said.
Mari shot him a dark look.
“No Gods were involved in this,” Mari said. “I did it myself!”
“What?” Nelson asked. “Oh. Uh. Sorry?”
“You should be,” Mari said with a sniff.
“How am I to know that you were telling the truth? About …” Nelson gestured to the screen My father says that fairies lie.”
“It’s true,” Mari said. “Most do. It’s not something known in the royal family. Have you known Fin or Edie to lie?”
Nelson thought for a moment before shaking his head.
“Exactly,” Mari said.
She pointed to the screen. Nelson squinted at first and then his mouth dropped open in surprise.
“Oh my God,” Nelson whispered.
They struck at 4 o’clock on the dot. Moving toward the sleepy motel, the team of fifty men from the modern Templars ran into an unseen barrier. Laughing, the eldest member of the group took a long sword from his scabbard.
As the patriarch and officials weapons master of the Templars, he could not be affected by magic.
The sword had the power to deplete Godly and fairy influences. One touch should destroy the protective bubble. In their rage, they were prepared to lay waste to the entire hotel even if it meant they killed everyone in the building. The team of Templars had not had a good bloodletting in more than a decade. They were ripe with their lust for blood.
As the blade approached the bubble, a man stepped out of the building.
This weapons master patriarch hesitated. He looked to the leader before turning to squint at the door to the hotel. The leader of the modern Templars was well into his eighties. He and this patriarch of the weapons masters had gone through school together.
At the front door of the hotel, the man slowly pulled on leather work gloves before tucking his hands into his khaki pants and walked toward the edge of the bubble. The man had black hair and hazel eyes. He wasn’t particularly tall by modern standards but he had at least two inches on theses French Templars. The man seemed fit. His face was pleasant and his expression unworried. He walked up to the other side of the bubble.
This patriarch of the weapons masters of the modern Templars gave this human a devious grin and stuck the blade into the protective bubble.
The man yawned.
In a flash, the man reached out and grabbed the sword. The man rotated and yanked the swordfrom this patriarch’s hand. The sword shot through the protective bubble. While the man looked at the sword, the slice in the protective bubble healed.
“Who are you?” the patriarch of the weapons masters asked.
The man lifted a corner of his mouth in a grin.
“No!” Nelson yelled at the screen. “Blane!”
Mari cackled a laugh. She paused the scene so that they wouldn’t miss anything.
“What did he do?” Nelson asked.
“He took the sword from the man,” Mari said, laughing. “Badass Blane.”
“But …” Nelson started. “He …”
“That your grandfather?” Mari asked.
Nelson walked up to the screen to take a better look.
“I … well …” Nelson said.
“The man standing next to him looks just like you,” Mari said.
“I …” Nelson said. Shaking his head, he walked back to the couch. “I don’t know who they are.”
Mari gave him an exaggerated sigh. He blinked. She disappeared and reappeared with Nelson’s father, Pierre. Pierre was wearing flannel pajama bottoms and a fleece sweater. He had a crutch under his arm.
Pierre arrived with a kind of thud. He looked at Mari and nodded as if to say, “Nice.”
“Father?” Nelson asked. He automatically spoke in French.
Pierre turned to see his son. He held out an arm and Nelson hugged his father.
“Up bright and early, I see.” Pierre responded in French. He didn’t keep the pride from his voice. “Mari said that you needed me?”
“You know each other?” Nelson asked.
His voice reflected his surprise that Pierre was familiar with any fairy, since Pierre hated fairies.
“First time making her acquaintance,” Pierre said. “I was having coffee with O’Malley. He told me that if Mari said you needed me, then you needed me. Here I am.”
Nelson’s hand went to his chest. He and his father had been estranged since he ran away at the end of high school. Nelson’s eyes welled with tears.
“Now, none of that,” Pierre said, patting Nelson on the upper arm. “I thought you were in Arizona with Blane and the kids. But Mari said that you were watching some assault by the Templars? Something about your …”
Nelson pointed to the television screen.
“Oh,” Pierre said.
Pierre walked to the television screen. It was so similar to what Nelson had done that Mari grinned at the man.
“Uh,” Pierre said. He turned to look at Nelson. “Well … Uh …”
Like a drowning man, Pierre looked at Mari.
“Where is this?” Pierre asked.
“That’s the hotel in Arizona,” Mari said in perfect French. She’d obviously followed the entire conversation. “The one where Blane and his family are staying. Everyone is there, including the Oracle. Abi. My sister’s there, too. Do you think they knew that the Oracle was inside? They do know the consequence of killing an Oracle, right?”
“I know the consequence of killing an Oracle,” Pierre mumbled.
He turned to look at his son. His mouth moved, but nothing came out.
“Well,” Pierre said. “Son …”
He pointed to the screen and looked at Nelson again.
“Uh …” Pierre swallowed hard. “I mean …”
Pierre went completely still. So still that Nelson got up from the couch and went to his father.
“What is it?” Nelson asked.
Pierre gave Nelson a desperate looked.
“Remember how I told you that your grandparents were dead?” Pierre asked.
Mari started to laugh. Pierre’s eyes flicked to her.
“I think we’re long past that, Papa,” Nelson said. “You told me things to keep me safe. Some of them were true. Some of them were not true.”
“Sounds like good parenting to me,’ Mari said.
“Exactly,” Nelson said.
Pierre nodded and looked at the screen again. He pointed to the patriarch of the weapons masters of the Templars.
“Meet my father,” Pierre said. “Your grandfather.”
“And his lover?” Nelson asked pointing to the head of the Templars
Pierre’s head jerked to look at Nelson. For a moment, Pierre just blinked. Nelson nodded.
“These men are lovers,” Nelson said. “Look at their body language.”
Pierre gawked at Nelson for a long moment. Nelson pointed from one man to the other. Pierre started to laugh.
“Why is that funny?” Nelson asked.
“Because in all of this time — my entire life — I have never thought of it,” Pierre said. “Not even once. But …”
“Who is he?” Nelson asked. “This lover.”
“He is your mother’s father,” Pierre said.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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