Friday, February 10, 2017

Chapter 16, Mother's Plan

***WARNING!!! My stories often contain strong language, sensitive issues, and, at times, other content that could be construed as offensive. Beliefs and viewpoints of characters are not necessarily the beliefs and viewpoints the Author holds in true life.***

I was drifting in a sea of soft voices. Familiar chanting voices were above me. Soft fingers moved over my hair and caressed my cheek. I was wrapped in a cocoon of love and well-being. Even drifting near the surface of wakefulness, I sensed my being surrounded by security and safety.

"Time to wake up, love," Robin's voice whispered near my ear.

The slightly shifting waters of sleep began to recede, replaced by the solidity of returning awareness. My eyes fluttered and I found myself looking into Robin's face under half lowered lashes. "Five more minutes, Robin. Just five more minutes," I said in a slurred, sleepy voice.

I sensed, more than I saw, him grin. Then, his lips were on mine and I was treated to the kind of kiss that would make any woman rise to full alertness. I wrapped my arms around his neck and returned his kiss with passion and yearning. "I knew that would get you up." Robin's voice was husky in my ear when our kiss ended.

"Oy! Get a room," Aurora said in mock annoyance, her sparkling eyes giving her away.

I blushed scarlet and Robin and I exchange a sheepish glance. "I reckon it's back to the business at hand," I said, tearing my gaze away from Robin and sitting up.

The humor departed from everyone just as quickly as it came. Somber faces looked back at me and I felt my stomach tighten into one huge knot? "What?" My voice sounded weak and frightened. I swallowed hard, trying to quell the mounting dread.

"It's just as I thought, lass. Ye are under a dark fairy curse that can only be broken by the fairy who cast it or someone knowledgeable in curse breaking." Silvan's verdict was concise. "It is the kind of curse that must be passed from one person to another by physical contact. Robin unknowingly carried it to ye when Flora cast it in the spirit realm."

"I saw it in the visions, Robin," Aurora said, putting a gentle hand on his arm. "As ye ran up the beach toward Alina, she cast it at your back. I'm so sorry."

Robin's expression went from concern to murderous in less than a heartbeat. He paced like a caught lion, muttering darkly. I'd never seen my Robin so angry but imagined it was how he looked when discovering a new ghastly case for his work. "When I get my hands on that scrawny bitch, I'm going to throttle her till I hear something snap!" he said through gritted teeth.

All I could do was stare in bewilderment. Thank Ariadne for Liam, who seemed to know what to do. "Calm down. laddie! This can be fixed. Both Mathilda and Silvan agree; this can be fixed. Ye do neither Alina nor yourself any good if ye go off half cocked."

"I swore I would never hurt Alina. I promised to always protect her...and now this." Robin came to me, fiercely pulled me into his arms, and buried his face in my hair. "Forgive me, Alina. I'm damned sorry."

I held him close for a long, long moment then cupped his handsome face in my hands. "There is nothing to forgive. It is not your fault. Had you not come for me, I would have stayed dead. You saved me, Robin. You came for me when everything was against you succeeding and you brought me back. What happened wasn't your fault, Robin. If I hadn't been mixing potions in the state I'd been in, none of this would have happened. If anyone is to blame, it's me for not being sensible enough to heed danger when I knew better."

"It's that cow Flora's fault and nobody else's. Everyone was broken up over Ma being presumed dead and nobody was thinking straight. Flora took advantage of that," Aurora said firmly. "What's important is getting it fixed and then dealing with Flora."

"But how can we fix this without Flora? She's the one who cast the curse," I replied, trying to get my dazed brain to take everything in.

"Like I said, the curse needs to be reversed by either the fairy who cast it or by someone knowledgeable in this area. Aurora's right. We can deal with Flora later, for we dinnae need her right now. I, myself, can reverse the curse," Silvan said.

"Really? How?" I asked.

Silvan shared a grim look with Mother, speaking slowly when he turned back to us. "As it happened in the spirit world, there must it be reversed."

" mean..." Robin said after a long hesitation.

"It means Alina must die again in order for her to enter the spirit world as she came last time," Mother replied. "It is the only way."

Robin's arms tightened further around me and I felt him shudder. "This can't be happening! I lost her once. What's to say I wouldn't lose her for good this time? How can we even think of letting her die again?"

"I understand how you feel, Robin. We were extremely fortunate to get you both back. I would never even suggest putting you or Alina through this again except for the fact that this time, everything would be controlled and planned to the very last detail. You see, if you and Alina agree to have this curse removed, it must happen in the spirit world. Alina must die again and you would have to be sent there to bring her back once again. Because Flora entered the spirit world as a living being, that is how Silvan must enter in order to lift the curse. There are two principal ways into the world of the spirits. The first is for one's physical body and spirit to separate. The second way and certainly the rare one is for a living person to enter, such as how Flora did it. Ariadne can do this easily, as can Kai and any other person of that rank. Lenora and Liam can easily do this, too, because they've died and come back. For Silvan to enter the spirit world, someone must take him there, as he does not have that ability to go there in living form," Mother explained.

"Then surely Alina and I could do that if we are taken there," Robin said.

Mother shook her head sadly. "I'm afraid not, Robin. You see, when you and Alina entered the spirit world, Alina had already passed. Your spirit separated from your body and that was how you entered. The curse was cast upon your spirit, not your living body, so to reverse it, the counter-curse must be cast upon your spirit so you can carry it to Alina's spirit. What I'm saying is that the circumstances must be recreated in order for this curse to be lifted."

I turned my head slightly so I could look at Mother over Robin's shoulder. "If that is so, then I would need to recreate the error I made whilst mixing potions. I do not recall the error plainly, so I don't think I could repeat the exact motions."

"That's all right, dear. I can give you something that would accomplish it. The important thing is that you get there due to death. Now, before anyone says anything else, let me explain how we can do this and bring everyone back safely. Afterward, you and Robin can decide if you want to go through with it. Silvan has agreed to perform the counter-curse with Liam escorting him there. Now, in most cases like this, I am not allowed to interfere directly. However, all bets were off the instant Flora broke the rules of conduct both for fairies and for living entities entering the world of the spirits. This means that I can fully assist as can Ariadne. What I plan to do is ask her to come here and see that the ways into and back from the spirit world remain accessible for as long as we need them. She would provide her protection from the spirit world while Lenora and Aurora helps me with you and Robin while you are out. Liam will escort Silvan to the spirit world first. Then, I will give you the potion to put you into full arrest .Meaning, you will die, Alina. Once that is done, I will send Robin. Once there, Silvan will perform the counter-curse on Robin, who will find you and make contact with you, which will remove the curse from you permanently. Any questions?"

"Just one," Robin said. "Are you sure, absolutely sure that nobody will be lost?"

"Yes, Robin. With both Ariadne and me able to fully assist, I guarantee that everyone will return safely. You have my word as a witch and a High Goddess." Mother looked him squarely in the eye, then smoothed my hair. "I would never allow Alina or any of you to do this if I thought otherwise."

I looked up at my Robin and melted back into his arms. Then, I lay my head on his shoulder and uttered a deep, contemplative sigh. "I will always feel tainted somehow if I continue to carry this curse. I'll do what I must do to make it go away. Oh, my Robin, I hope you can understand how I feel. I know you were in deep sorrow to see me dead and I never want to see you in such a state again. But...but I feel we must do this or I will never have complete peace."

"My Alina..." He said my name with such love and passion that my knees nearly came unhinged. I clutched him tightly and he held me as if to keep me from being snatched away by a malevolent storm. "As much as I want to balk and argue, I do understand. If things remain as they are, she wins and we can't have that. I completely trust your mother's judgment and this is important to you, so that makes it important to me." He shifted slightly so he could take my face between his palms. "You just promise me you'll come back with me. I can't live without you, Alina."

"I promise with all my heart," I whispered. "I'll go anywhere thou sayest without question."

"All right then. Let's do it. I just have one other question, Mathilda. Why would Flora want to curse Alina?" Robin asked.

"She did it because of me, dear. She has a personal vendetta against me, which I will tell you all about afterward. For now. let's deal with the task at hand and save Flora and dealing with her for later. There will be time enough for that," said Mother.

"Fair enough. So, when are we to get moving on this?" Robin asked.

"Tonight, if you wish. I'll ask Lenora to come here and then I'll summon Ariadne, for I know you all are anxious to meet her in person. I'll gather some Potent Invigorating Elixirs for all of us so we're completely refreshed and ready for action. Does that suit everyone?" Mother replied

"Fine," I said, and everyone else nodded. I kissed Robin , then burrowed deeper into his arms. I feared it was going to be a long night, and I wanted to take comfort in his embrace for as long as I could.

Author's Note: Mentioned briefly but not pictured is Kai, the Great Alpha Wolf, created by Shafer249. Thank you, Shafer, for being so generous in allowing me to use him and his offspring as needed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Chapter 15, To Find Answers

***WARNING!!! My stories often contain strong language, sensitive issues, and, at times, other content that could be construed as offensive. Beliefs and viewpoints of characters are not necessarily the beliefs and viewpoints the Author holds in true life.***

Visiting with family was always a treat. My heart felt lighter as I took in how happy Aurora and Silvan were. Aurora was always such a happy, smiling person, so much like Lenora, but she was even more so now thanks to Silvan. It was such a refreshing feeling to partake in their joy rather than concentrate on the abject misery I'd been in these last few months.

"And you must be Tara," Robin said, producing his most charming smile. "I'm your cousin Robin, and this is Alina."

"Nice to meet you, Sir," Tara said. "You, too, "Ma'am."

"Oh my, so polite!" Robin replied. "Hey, we're family, so it's just Robin and Alina, okay?"

"Okay," she agreed readily, returning his smile with a friendly one of her own. "I still have to get used to having such a big family."

"You will and then, you won't know what to do with us because we'll be there at every turn," Robin grinned and waggled his brows at her, making her giggle. "Now then, I hope you're hungry."

"I could eat a horse." Tara proclaimed.

Robin chuckled and linked his arm with hers. "Well, that's not on the menu, but I think you'll like what we're having. I hope you're not a picky eater."

"Not me. I eat everything in sight. Just ask Ma." There was a gleeful bounce to Tara's step as she and Robin walked arm-in-arm to the kitchen.

"He will be such a wonderful father," I mused aloud, my gaze following his retreating back.

Dinner was a lively affair with animated chatter from Tara and with Robin and Liam bantering back and forth. I was glad of that, for I knew things would turn grim later on. Even with the lighthearted atmosphere, I caught Silvan glancing at me from time to time, a concerned, thoughtful expression furrowing his brow. Silvan and Mother whispered together for a brief moment, then he reached for Aurora's hand, clasping it tightly. They shared a look, then Aurora smiled at me and mouthed "It'll be okay." I fervently hoped it would.

When dinner was over and the kitchen set to rights, Mother beckoned to Tara. "Are you ready to go to your Uncle Jonas' and Aunt Sharon's now? They're expecting you, so I'll pop you there as soon as you're ready." Tara was a joy to have around, but she was too young to be privy to the discussion we were about to have.

"Wowwy, GG! I still can't believe you're going to teleport me. I haven't traveled that way, not ever." Tara goggled at Mother,

"There's always a first time for everything, dear," Mother said. "Now, hold onto my arm firmly and we'll be off in a flash."

After a round of hugs Tara blew kisses to all of us and then was gone. Seconds later, Mother returned, materializing out of thin air. Being a witch certainly had its perks at times.

After starting a fire in the fireplace with a wave of my hand, we settled in the living room to get down to business. My accelerating heartbeat pounded in my ears and I had to fight the urge to wipe my sweaty palms on my skirt. After all, a proper lady would never do such things.

Lowering my lashes slightly, I glanced shyly over at Silvan. Although I'd been living in this modern age for a long time now, old customs were hard to ignore. In the century I was from, it would have been taboo for a woman of my station to approach someone of Prince Silvan's lineage without first being acknowledged. Gathering myself, I took a deep breath and lifted my lashes. "I...I am unsure of how to begin, I beseech thy forgiveness should I stumble over my words, Prince Silvan," I whispered.

"Och ,Alina lass! Dinnae fash. We're friends, soon to be clan, ye ken." I was nearly unraveled by the unrestrained kindness in his expression. I shall not weep. I shall not weep. I demanded myself to keep my head but failed utterly. I was mortified when a tear trickled down my cheek. Oh, for Ariadne's sake! How many more times was I going to weep like an overly tired child? Could I not get through a day with dry eyes?

I was pulled into a tight hug by Silvan, who rubbed my back comfortingly. "There now, lassie. Aye, ye've been through a time. There now, dinnae fash." His burr was so thick that one needed a machete to cut through it. His soothing words sounded almost like an ethereal song and I felt myself begin to relax. I wondered if fairies had some sort of magic that somehow could calm the hysterical part of me that insisted on surfacing lately.

"There now," Silvan whispered a few minutes later. "Your aura is much more settled. Much better." He gently released me, guided me to the sofa, and sat down next to me..

"Did me?" I asked in bewilderment.

"Aye, just a little calming magic we fairies have to help soothe where it be needed." Well, that answered my question. I reckon I had a lot more to learn about fairies.

"I am thanking you kindly. It will not do for me to lose my head at this time." I blushed and gave him a sheepish look.

"'Tis nothing." Silvan shrugged, "Will ye allow my to start things off?"

"I suppose maybe you should," Robin said. "You look at Alina sometimes as if you see something we can't, Why?"

"It is like I told ye that first night Aurora and I came over for dinner. There is something in your aura, Alina, a sort of...blockage that is in disharmony with your aura. Do ye remember?" Silvan replied.

Both Robin and I nodded.

Silvan continued. "I didnae press the matter because I thought it might have been some debris left over from when ye passed, debris I believed would disappear over time. Ye see, one does not immediately recover from such a thing."

"I was ill for a long time after," I said in confirmation of his observation.

"I became increasingly concerned when it didnae go away and was torn about saying anything further to ye until now. I didnae wish to alarm ye, nor did I have an answer as to why that presence was there. However, when I became aware that ye are having a hard time conceiving a bairn, it began to fall into place. That information coupled with where I sense the blockage is verra telling." Silvan studied me and I blushed again at seeing his eyes fix on my lower abdomen where my womb rested,

"I don't understand. Dr. Hughes and Mother say there seems to be nothing wrong with me," I said.

"And I checked out fine, so in theory, there should have been no reason for us to have such difficulty," Robin added.

"Being witches and not fairies, Blythe Hughes and I can't see auras. It's usually fairies who notice such things but it takes someone of Silvan's skill in fairy magic and curses to deal with fixing it. Being who I am, I knew something wasn't right, but it took a conversation with both Silvan and Gunther to figure out what exactly we are dealing with," Mother added.

"And just what are we dealing with?" Robin asked.

"I believe it to be a powerful fairy curse." Silvan's blue eyes darkened with grim reality. "What we need to find out is how ye got cursed. Tell me, have ye had any unusual encounters with a fairy or even a witch ye dinnae ken?"

I shook my head and saw that Robin was about to speak. His lips started to form words but then stopped. He scratched his head and brushed absently at his right shoulder. "It...couldn't be," he whispered almost dreamily. "Not in the spirit world. It just..." Robin brushed at his shoulder again as if to rid himself of a piece of lint.

"What?" Silvan asked, leaning forward. "Did something happen in the spirit world when ye went after Alina?"

"Well, I didn't think anything of it at the time. I was focused on finding and bringing Alina back. Thinking about it now, though..." Robin trailed off, his eyes closing in what looked like deep concentration. "Not long after I found myself there, I met this old crone who was put off by something. She had beautiful white wings which, in my opinion, contrasted with her unfriendly demeanor. I asked her if she'd seen Alina but she wasn't very forthcoming at first. She said she wanted to be called 'Your Majesty' but that I could just call her Flora seeing as how she was getting soft in her old age. She took pleasure when I literally begged her to tell me where Alina was. Looking back on it, I find it odd that someone like that ended up in the Elysian Fields."

Silvan and Mother exchanged a look I could not discern and then wore identical frowns as they looked back at Robin. "If this Flora is who I think she is, ye are right to be concerned and baffled. Ye see, I've heard of a Flora who went renegade decades and decades ago. Mother told Ella and me about her, said she was verra dangerous. She's a wily, slippery old cow with magic at her disposal that doesnae belong to her. Mother believes that a former elder who turned traitor gave Flora access to the knowledge of how to disguise her wing color and to enter the spirit realm at her whim. Only a fairy or someone like Aurora who can see auras can see through the disguise. Since then, Mother has been trying to catch up with Flora and the traitor but they've always evaded capture. Ye are verra unfortunate to have encountered her, Robin. Is there anything else ye havenae told me? Did she touch ye in any way?"

Robin recounted the events of what happened in the spirit world, going over every detail piece by intricate piece. "The last I saw of her was just before I took off up the beach toward Alina. I thought I felt something touch my right shoulder but thought it was just the wind."

Mother and Silvan looked at one another again. "We don't believe it was simply the wind, Robin. Flora might not have touched you directly, but it is highly likely she planted a portable curse on you that would be transferred to Alina the instant you touched her," Mother said.

"If ye will allow me to perform some of my own magic on ye both, I can find out for sure what happened. Now that we are armed with more information, I can be sure to perform the exact magic we need. Aurora, love, we will need your visions," said Silvan. "If ye will lie back on the sofa, Alina lass, that will be most helpful. Ye will sleep through the entire thing but when ye awake, ye will feel refreshed and energized."

"Will this reverse whatever was done to me?" I asked.

"Nay, but we can discuss that once we ken for sure what we are dealing with. Let us take it step by step," Silvan said.

I arranged myself comfortably on the sofa and watched as Robin knelt by my side. "Will it impede anything if I hold her hand?" Robin asked.

"Nay. In fact, physical contact with her will be most beneficial," Silvan said as he and Aurora stood over me.

"Try not to worry. It'll be okay." Aurora squeezed my arm reassuringly and moved closer to Silvan.

I could only nod and smile weakly. My glance flickered to where Mother stood talking softly with Liam, both of them looking solemn. Robin took my hand and kissed my fingers. I reached up to smooth the grooves in his brow with my free hand and tried to grin. "It is unseemly for the Lady of the Manor to nap whilst she is entertaining guests."

My attempt at levity seemed to work, even if only for a brief time. Robin's features softened into a grin, then he snorted with amusement. "I think you will be forgiven in this case." He smoothed my hair and placed a tender kiss on my lips. "I'm not leaving your side."

This time, I was able to muster a true smile, which stayed in place as Silvan began to chant. My eyes grew heavy and the room blurred. Nevertheless, I thought I still wore the smile as I sank into oblivion.

Author's Note: Aurora, Silvan, and Tara are from my story "Forever in Time," which you can read by following the link to it located in the "Other Works By Me" section on this blog. Characters mentioned from that story but mot pictured are Lenora Landgraab, Jonas and Sharon Landgraab, and Ella Princapal, Queen of the Fae.

Bonus Picture

What is up with Sims simultaneously and constantly thinking about the pool? And, in the middle of winter, no less.