ravens_falling (ravens_falling) wrote in shardsofalesya,
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ravens_falling
shardsofalesya

Chapter 22: The Fall of Erin's Son



Chapter 22- The Fall of Erin’s Son

They stood upon a low hill, all arrayed for war, for war this was. For the first time in centuries, the Fae were come to war, and leading them were their High Lords of Light and Life, both shining and brilliant in their holy furry. Echo’s clear blue eyes verily shined as she looked down at the Unseelie gathering below them, her face a mask no one could read. Here was the Lady of Light as they had never seen her, and few even among the Fae could remember her as the avenging angel of battle. They had forgotten that hers too was the domain of Holy War, and that she was peerless in battle. It was almost time, and the warrior within her would fully awaken, striking down her enemy without mercy. She gripped her golden spear in one hand, taking a deep breath. Denasia it was named in the tongue of the Fae: Dawnbringer. With it she had defended Mortal kind throughout the ages. Tonight she might have to use it to slay her sister, her Immortal best friend. She prayed that would not be so. However, if Velorum failed, or if his resolve failed, that task would fall to her. She took a deep breath, the last moment of stillness before the storm settling upon her.

Beside her stood Tear, arrayed not in armor as was his mate. Where she was clad in white and gold enameled plate mail, her long white split skirt swirling about her, he was clad in simple blue and soft gray. He had donned his blue leather breastplate, but no other armor. He found it to encumbering, and distracting when he needed to cast his powerful magics. His eyes were the eerie silver which warned that he would soon be in full Fae form, and in his right hand he held his fabled long sword. The Lord of Life closed his eyes for a moment, trying to still his mind and prepare for the battle to come, to focus. With a though he could shatter the minds of Mortals, though it was great pain to him as well. Still, in this night would the fate of many be determined, and he knew that they could not fail. Must not fail.

Velorum stood to Echo’s right, silent and thoughtful as the rest of those assembled. He was garbed as usual, long black duster, black fishnet shirt, and black pants. His raven hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and his porcelain face showed no emotion. His eyes, however, burned emerald. She’s down there, he thought. I can feel her. I can feel the shadows swirling about her, trying to claim her. But I can feel her, and that means I may not have lost her just yet. His jaw set in a firm line. Though all the armies of the Unseelie lay between us, I promise I’ll redeem you, Rain. Even if I should perish, I would do so happily to see you safe once more, to see you smile.

“Quit it,” Beccah said coming up on his left. “I can practically see the gears in your head working, Vel. Quit torturing yourself over her. We’re going to buy you the time you need, mate, and you’re either gonna find her or not.” She made him look at her. “Vel, you’re going to have to be prepared to face the fact that it might be too late. If it is, are you sure you can do what needs to be done?” She held his eyes, cold and firm. She hated doing this to him, but it had to be done. If his resolve should fail at the last moment it would mean the damnation of them all.

He nodded almost imperceptibly. “Yes,” he answered her softly, causing Tear to look over at him. The Lord of Life could feel the pain in the word, and his heart went out to the Dark Fae. Velorum really did love Rain more than his own life. He was more than willing to die for her. What he was hardly prepared for, however, was the fact that by his own hand he may have to slay her. If she became the Avatar of Nightmare, there would be no other choice.

Beccah nodded. “Alright then. Byron and his are ready on the far right flank to come in once I give the signal after the battle’s been met. Seamus and the Watchers are over on that left hill and will charge when you do. I’m going to be with him. The Fae are here with Echo and Lord Tearlin, and so that leaves you to go and find your lass.” She put a hand on his shoulder. “Vel, I really hope you find her. Even more, I hope you can save her. I don’t want to think about what might happen to you if things go badly here.” For a moment her keen gray eyes teared up, but she turned and was gone before he could see.

A soft and chill breeze stirred the nearly silent hosts of the Seelie, the Watchers, and their allies. Arrayed were they for battle, and they but waited for the sign. A soft song began on the wind, strong and ancient. The voice which sang it was that of Echo, but it was as if she were pulling the words from another time, another world. Soft silver fire engulfed her, and she turned her head to the heavens. Like a heavenly sunburst her great white angelic wings, the sign that she was a High Lord, and Full Fae, came bursting from her back. Her features took on their elfin nature, hair growing long and white, flowing behind her. Too she had long pointed ears marking her as truly a child of her ancient kindred. Her song embraced all the host of the Seelie, and the light of her being warmed them, emboldened them, protected them. By her grace were they blessed. Tear joined her, calling upon all his might as Light Fae, his own great white wings arcing above him. They two stood in the rising wind; their song calling upon all the eldritch power of the Otherworld, calling upon what powers of light and goodness in the world might be listening. They were awe inspiring in their beauty, frozen in that moment of flawless majesty.

That was the sign. Under the heavenly fire of the Lords of Light, and their protecting angelic grace, the host charged down the hill and unto where the guard of the Unseelie awaited them.

If Tear and Echo were bastions of holy beauty, then Z’iel and her dark companion were those of hellish winter. She was clad in white, pure and cold, and there was no warmth in her frozen features. A cruel smile twisted upon her perfect face, her staff held before her in challenge. At her side, darker than midnight, stood the silent Ash. The shadows of his unholy cloak writhed like caged animals, poised to devour the light of the world. In the darkness of his being nothing of his features could be seen, but for the embers of his burning eyes. The great and dreadful rune sword of wicked creation was in his hands, and it screamed for the blood of the Seelie. But there was only one whom he wished to fell, Echorijn. It was she who had long ago begun the terrible chain of events which had led to his fall, and by her mercy damned him for all time. Tonight, he would drink of her blood.

The hosts of the Unseelie, those who had come to stand as guardians for the main ritual being conducted by Amethyst, were no more than two thirds the number of the Seelie. Most had believed that the foolish servants of good would not be ready, that there was no way they could pose any threat to the might and power of the Unseelie. Z’iel, however, had not been as ready as Amethyst to believe that. Many she had called to her purpose, many who delighted in nothing more than the spilling of the blood of their ancient enemies and the mortals who served them. They were of all kinds, mortal and Fae alike, all bound to the self same purpose. They stood ready to fight, that in a moment the Avatar of Nightmare, hellish Queen of Despair, would be awakened, and the silly army of the Seelie would be whipped out by her.

Echo was the first to join the battle, great white wings sweeping aside the first Unseelie upon which she came. Her body was wreathed in holy silver fire, her eyes the same color. With all the speed and skill of endless ages of practice, she deftly dispatched the first combatants who stood before her. Though chaos defined the moment, for her time was almost slowed. She could see each and every movement with perfect clarity, sense almost the next action of her opponents. Over the din and screaming of the battle, still she carried on with her holy song, her lips curved in a smile as she felled all who dared to beset her. She danced gracefully among them, driving the golden tip of her spear into the chests of the Dark Fae, killing them instantly. Gold was death to the Dark Fae, as Iron was to the Light Fae. She was careful when she sensed the nearness of that deadly material, never for a moment growing careless in her battle dance.

Like Echo, Tearlin was lost in the tide of the Fallen hoards. He rose upon his great wings and dove upon the Unseelie below him, squering them upon his long sword in a mighty thrust. When the Unseelie caught on to his deadly tactic, those among them who were archers began to fire upon him, which prompted him to abandon that particular approach. He saw that Beccah and Seamus, along with the Watchers, had charged and were pressing forth on the left flank, making their way to the bulk of the Seelie forces. He was just about to fly to aid them when an icy voice brought him back to the ground.

“Long time, no see, my Golden Lord. I had hoped we might have a chance to chat this evening.” Z’iel laughed when his silver eyes narrowed. Unlike him, she was not in her full Fae form, but that did not mean she was any less dangerous. Her staff was held at an angle and Tear knew she would strike any moment.

“Repent and there will be mercy even for you, Fallen,” he answered her coldly. It had been he who had cast her from the ranks of the Seelie, he who had disclosed to the Queens her acts of evil and treachery against the Seelie Court. That he had not just slain her then but rather acted in mercy, had been a soar spot between him and Vel for a long time, but Tear had always believed that redemption was possible for anyone… or almost anyone.

The Opal Prince of the Light Fae laughed in his face, defiance etched upon her icy features. “I’ll be a Dark Fae first, you weak fool! I did not repent then and I will not do so now. Not to you or anyone else! You and the others sit on your high thrones, your moral mountains and pat yourselves on the back for being so great and merciful. You carefully help these simple Mortals, crooning to them like children. You make of your might and power a pathetic masquerade, debasing yourselves before them!” She struck out at him then, bringing the heavy staff down to strike the crown of his head. He parried, but only served to carry her thrust down to trip him up. They became locked in a kind of solo ring, circling one another, Z’iel keeping up her monolog all the while.

She let her smile fade and regarded him acrtically as the fought. “I played that game, Tearlin. I did everything that was asked of me, aided them, protected them, and loved them. And what did it get me? Nothing! Nothing! They do not even know we exist, so why do you care? We could rule over them all, should rule over them! They betrayed us, Tear, and payback’s a bitch!” She had to move quickly to avoid his well placed thrust to keep from taking a fatal wound to the side.

His face was devoid of emotion as he fought her. “It is given to us to protect and guide them simply because we are more powerful, Z’iel. It has always been given to the mighty to use their gifts to help those who cannot help themselves. There is no greater love than that.”

“Shut up, you sorry old relic!” she spat venomously. “I’m sick of that old song and dance. I was tired of skulking in shadows, never seen, never known. I was tired...”

“Of letting them get close only to die?” He finished for her. His silver eyes held her. “I think you hate them for their very nature, you envy their mortality, for your existence goes on and on eternal while they are granted the sweet pleasure of moving on. I think you envy them so much that it has become hate.” Tear swept aside her clumsy attack with one powerful wing, pinning her to a nearby tree.

“Kill me then,” she screamed in his face, color changing eyes turning silver like his. “Just end it then and be done with it!”

He held her a moment there, looking her in the face. Once more he had her fate in his hands. His mind returned to the ages past when she had been an innocent, a sweet child he and Echo had raised into a beautiful woman who would become a Prince of the Seelie. “Once upon a time Echo and I loved you as our own,” he whispered. “I knew you then.”

“That person has been dead for a long time,” she answered bitterly.

“Only because you let her be. I refuse to believe that Mythannis destroyed everything that was beautiful in you. Nor even Vermillion. I think the person I knew is in there somewhere.” His eyes widened and he looked down to see a dagger sticking out of his side. Z’iel smiled victoriously.

“You always were a sentimental fool, Tear,” she laughed as he staggered back and dropped his sword, looking at his blood on his hand where he had put it to the wound. Luckily for him it had not been iron, for she too was Light Fae and could be killed by that material. Still, the wound was deep, and the pain of it was searing. “Your mercy is going to be the end of you.” She darted forward to deliver the killing blow.

Unbelievably her strike was met by the sound of ringing metal. From out of the shadows Velorum had materialized in time to deflect her blade with his own. The dagger went flying out of her hand to the sound of her scream of rage. Z’iel’s eyes burned as she looked upon the Lords of Life and Death, furry consuming her that she had been so close and denied her quarry. However, she knew full well that she could not stand against the both of them, even with Tearlin wounded. Silver fire exploded about her as her gossamer opal wings burst from her back as she finally assumed her full Fae form. She uttered a few words in the liquid language of the Fae and vanished.

Velorum was tempted to go after her, sensing that she had not left the battle field completely, but rather simply relocated. However, his concern was more for his wounded friend. A sardonic smile twitched at the corners of his mouth. “We seem to be making a habit of this, my old friend.”

Tear grinned ruefully. “Well, if you had not interrupted I was going to do some fancy spell work and catch the wench in a trap, but this works too.” He laughed at Vel’s raised eyebrow of doubt. The Dark Fae sobered and looked at the dark red stain upon his friend’s side.

“Are you alright?”

“I will be in a moment, I just need a few minutes to heal and I’ll be right as rain.” He flinched as he saw the look of pain on Vel’s face. “I’m sorry,” he said regretfully. “I didn’t think about it before I said it.”

Velorum shook his head. “It doesn’t matter.” His eyes could not help but be drawn to the stage which seemed so far away. Amethyst was there, but still no sign of Rain yet. Then he felt a familiar sturing of shadow, a pull which told him she was approaching.

“Vel?” Tear questioned as he leaned against the tree to which he had pinned Z’iel. Already the wound was almost half healed. Another moment and he could rejoin the battle which had moved down the hill from where they stood. The Lord of Light could see the stricken look on the Dark Fae’s face, and knew it could mean only one thing.

“I must go,” Velorum replied, catching Tear’s gaze. “She comes.”

Tear nodded. “Good luck then, all of our hopes go with you.” Tear stared after Vel as he vanished into the darkness. As he finished his healing spell a scream of pain ripped through the night, and the song which had been winding about the battlefield ended abruptly. His mind reeled under the anguish of the cry, and more because he knew to whom it belonged. A cry of rage tore its way out of his throat as he picked up his cast aside weapon and vaulted into the air looking for his mate. The scream had belonged to Echo, and he knew she was in dire trouble.

~~*†*~~

“Adain, behind you!” Beccah screamed as the Air Fae the lad did not see moved to drive a sword into the young Watcher’s back. With reflexes gifted unto the human by the grace of the Fae, he moved with lightning speed in time for the strike to merely graze his shoulder. His almond eyes narrowed dangerously and he drove his elbow into the pale face of the Unseelie rogue, throwing her off balance and prone for his skull crushing mace blow.

“Thanks,” he called back to the woman who had trained him. She, in the mean time, had dispatched two more of the sickly white skinned Unseelie minions and was working on a third. “Where’s Seamus?” He asked, a shadow crossing his young face.

Beccah felt a moment of panic, for until he had asked her she had not given any thought to the fact that she had not seen the stocky Irishman in some time. During their first drive down the hill they had gotten separated and she had not seen him since. To Adain she called, “Dunno. Come on, let’s clean this ilk out of our way and find him. If I know him, he’s probably in trouble.”

The two of them cut their way through the horrifying mass of the Unseelie, Beccah nearly losing an eye as a wild swing from an Earth Fae managed to carve a nice scarlet line on her cheek. She pulled her dagger our of his belly in time to catch another in the chest, a well aimed kick tripping up a third for Adain to finish off. They pulled the scattering Watchers together to rally a wedge to force their way to where she guessed Echo to be with the main body of the Fae. She could still hear the Child of Light’s song even over the roar of the battle, feel it granting her strength and speed. The bright silver glow in the distance told her where she would find the pink haired Fae, but there was something wrong with the light there. A shadow seemed to be settling over the field in that region, and a terrible foreboding descended upon her. She knew she would find Seamus in that shadow.

“Move it!” She yelled at her Watchers. She let out a high pitched whistle, the signal for which Byron’s crew would be waiting. They would now begin the charge down the right hillside and take the Unseelie just as they thought they had the Seelie on the fallback. That would giver her and those with her the time they so needed to get to the center of the field where she knew the most bloody and fierce battle would be taking place. Her gray eyes looked for the tell tale great white wings of Tear in the air, but she saw nothing of him. It had been along time since she had seen him go down, and she did not even want to begin contemplating the thought that something may have happened to him.

All at once her concentration was shattered by an anguished scream. It struck her to the soul, causing her to trip up, clutching at her ears to block out the sound. Watchers and Seelie all about her did the same, faces turned to the silver glow in the center of the battlefield. The protecting song had failed and behind left only a kind of horrifying silence. Oh my God, she thought in terror. That was Echo! Without seeing if any of her Watchers followed or not, she went tearing through her foes to get to that glow. Whatever was happening, she had to get there quickly, or it would be too late.

After what seemed like an eternity she managed to win her way to an eerie ring of calm, in the center of which stood too combatants. Her breath caught in her chest as she surveyed the scene. Echo stood favoring her right side down which trailed a ribbon of scarlet. Several other smaller cuts marked her exposed arms and cheeks, a nasty bruise coloring her left temple vivid purple. What had caused the angelic Child of Light to scream out in pain, however, was the lance which had been driven through her beautiful left wing. It was folded at an unnatural angle, crimson staining the purity of the white. A look of absolute anguish was carved into the woman’s elfin face, her spear held loosely in her hands. Before her stood a figure of horror, shadow wreathed and radiating an aura of pure malevolence. Only a step or two behind the wounded Echo stood Seamus, claymore in hand and ready to defend her.

Echo’s eyes burned silver, and the look of anguish on her face was replaced with one of challenge. She tilted her head back and laughed at her deadly opponent. “Please, she said in a soft and dangerous voice, “If you think that is enough to fell me then you are sadly mistaken, Ash. You forget with whom you are dealing.” Her eyes flared and she shrugged off her pain, a bright blast of light filling the circle of watchers. Her wings exploded in the light, white feathers raining down about them all. She took a deep breath and centered herself, facing off against the Dark Fae before her. “I am not just any old Light Fae, you silly Fallen. I am the Avatar of Light. I have seen the birth of worlds, how about you?” Her eyes narrowed and she charged him, spear leveled at his chest.

The shadow wreathed Ash met her attack as he had since he had engaged her; with flawless reflexes and timing, parrying her thrust as he had all the others. He could keep this up all night, for he had trained for this very thing for centuries. He was not hurrying his delightful vengeance. She would die tonight, and he wanted to make sure he enjoyed every moment of it. “Tell me,” he hissed in a voice like damnation, “Did you even stay and listen to her screams of agony as they burned her? Did you look into her eyes and have the strength even to deliver her death sentence yourself?” He lifted the great Rune sword he carried and brought it down to cleave her back, but she twisted about and caught the blow, deflecting it down just in time.

She tilted her head to one side and regarded him from a slight distance. Where she had been smiling defiantly, now there was an emotionless nothing. “Yes.”

Rather than pleasing him, her answer seemed only to further enflame the dark warriors furry. “She was an innocent! She did none of the things of which they accused her. You damned her soul and mine for nothing!”

“No. You have damned yourself. Hers, for that I will bear always the guilt, yes. I made a mistake, Ash. A mistake for which I am still paying. I loved her too, and I made a mistake. Even I am fallible.”

“And killable!” He screamed in furry. He had wanted to hear her deny her sin, hear her deny that she had let the Seelie Court burn his beloved at the stake for crimes she had not, of her own free will, committed. That she accepted her guilt he had not expected. He was sick of this fight now, and wanted nothing but to see her dead and broken at his feet. He attacked her with a fury like hellfire, all the centuries of his burning hate poured into those strikes. Echo tried to meet him, but her wounds were tasking their toll and she knew she could not last forever. At last, she gave way before him, falling back, her spear spinning out of reach. He stood over her in triumph, blade at her throat. “I shall send you to the same hell to which you damned her beautiful and innocent soul, Echorijn!”

“I think not,” came Velorum’s soft voice. The Lord of Death looked highly irritated, as if this interruption on his way to find Rain was just one more with which he had to deal. He stood nonchalantly with his sword lazily in one hand, the other in his pocket. “I’m rather partial to her and have no intention of permitting her soul to enter into any Hell. You see, such is my domain, in case you had forgotten.”

Ash could not believe this. In his moment of triumph the Lord of Death had arrived at the last moment, as was his wont. It occurred to the Dark Fae, however, that it did not matter. If the Onyx Prince wanted to slay him, so be it. Still, even he was not fast enough to kill Ash before he could slay the prone Echo. If his life was forfeit, at least so was hers. To that end, the hellish creature smiled at Velorum.

“Slay me if you will, pawn of the Seelie. Still she will die. My beloved is avenged!” The blade began to bite into Echo’s throat.

A cry of anguished anger rent the silence of that taboo, and Tear drove down upon the creature making to end the light of his lover. His mighty wings beat at the night and he crushed the form of Ash beneath him, both of them rolling away in a fury of white and black. Shadow and light battled and for some time it was unclear which would be the victor. In the mean time, Vel and Seamus had run to Echo’s side and were helping her to her feet.

“Never mind me,” she waved them off in frustration. “Help Tear!” She pointed to where he had managed to throw the grappling Dark Fae off of him and get back to his feet. Z’iel had materialized out of the crowd and was at the side of her dark minion.

“There will come another time,” she hissed at Ash, pulling on his sleeve. “All has gone awry here, we must flee.”

The eyes of the Dark Fae burned like embers. He turned them away from where Tear stood at the ready before him and to where Vel stood protectively before Echo, Seamus at his side. A cruel smile curved at the Fallen’s lips. A blade of iron he pulled from the shadows of his writhing cloak and threw it directly at Echo, knowing that nothing, not even Death Himself, could deliver her from that death. Iron would slay her eternally.

For the combatants, time seemed to slow. Tear could not get to Ash in time to stop him neither from throwing the deadly blade, nor before he and his icy mistress could escape into the sea of the fleeing Unseelie army. Velorum saw the blade that Echo did not, for she had faltered once more and was on the verge of losing consciousness. He knew that though iron would not destroy his soul, surly it would poison him to near death. In that moment he had to decide between the soul of Echo and that of Rain. If he fell, so too would his beloved, for he would never be able to get to her before Amethyst did. He closed his pained emerald eyes, whispering, I’m sorry Rain, and preparing for the bite of the cruel iron blade as he protected Echo’s slight form with his own.

But the bite did not come. He felt a mighty shove and heard a scream rend the night. Velorum and Echo fell to the ground together, and Seamus landed beside them. Velorum stared in shock and horror as he realized that the Irishman had pushed them out of the way, taking their death for them. The blade was embedded deeply into his stocky chest, dark red spreading about it. Tear ran to Echo, and Velorum knelt over the fallen Irishman.

Beccah came tearing into the circle, tears streaming down her face. “Get away from him,” she screamed at Vel. “Just get away!” She fell at his side and pulled Seamus’ head into her lap. Though her anger hurt him, he did as she bid, eyes trained on the pale face of his long time adversary. The other Watchers gathered about her and their fallen leader.

“Now we’re even,” Seamus laughed roughly, giving Vel a wink. “Couldn’t ‘ave ye play the ‘ero while I stand by, now could I?”

Velorum shook his head in wonder, pain written clearly upon his porcelain face. “I cannot save you,” he said in a voice laden with sorrow. “It is your time now.”

“Always was,” the Irishman said with good humor.

“What are you talking about?” Beccah demanded angrily. She was trying to keep it together, but even she could not stop the tears from falling.

He met her gray eyes with his of hazel. “Seers told me not te join the battle or my number’d be up. I tol’ ‘em te sod off. Never much cared for the thought o’ growing old.” He reached up and put a hand to her cheek. “I’m sorry I dinay tell ye, lass. I knew ye’d try an’ stop me.” He coughed, blood coloring his paling lips. “The lads’re yours now. Take care o’ ‘em. They need ye.”

“Seamus, NO! I can’t do this without you, you stubborn fool. I never wanted your job!” She hugged him close, crying. “I can’t do this on my own!”

He tilted up her chin and made her look at him. “Ney tears on me, woman. Never that. I lived a warrior’s life an’ will die a worthy death. Me ol’ da would be proud. Don’t be sad. I’m not.” He whipped away her tears with his thumb. “Ye’ll be just fine, lass. I promise.”

By this time those of the Seelie who could had joined the circle, all bowing their heads in grief for the Mortal they all so loved and respected. For many of them Seamus had been a good friend, a reminder of why they strove to help humanity. He’d been the leader of the Watchers for over a decade, and the thought of life without him was something most of them could not comprehend. Tear and Echo limped over, pain in both of their sets of pale blue eyes. Gone were the fearsome visages of the Avatars, and now all that remained were Echo and Tear.

The Child of Light leaned forward and kissed him on the brow, a soft smile on her face. “I will never forget what you did for me, for us. You are an honor to your line.” A tear trailed its way down her cheek, but she smiled.

Tear’s face held pain, but there was a peace there also. “I cannot ever honor you enough, for by your grace is my beloved alive. You stood by her when all others fled. For as long as my life lasts, I will honor your name, Seamus.” He too bent forward and kissed the Irishman’s chill brow.

Vel stared at Seamus, incomprehension clouding his features. He shook his head. “There is so much I never got to say, my friend. I…”

“Don’t.” Seamus was looking intently at the Dark Fae, the light of his life beginning to fade. “I understand now, Vel. And I forgive ye. I just want to know one thing.”

“Anything,” he replied softly, with a wistful smile. Here at the end, Seamus had forgiven him, set him free. They would not part in anger as he had once feared, but as friends, brothers as they had once been.

“Is ‘e waiting for me there… wherever it is we go? Is Adion there?”

Velorum, Lord of Death, took his hand. “He’s there, my friend, and waiting.” Vel’s eyes took on a far off look. “Shall I show you the way to the Door?”

“That’d be nice, thanks.” Seamus gave Beccah one last look. “Take care of them, ‘im, and yerself. I love ye all.” With that, his eyes glazed over and his spirit fled his body. Vel sat motionless beside him, his eyes gone black. For a long time there was silence. At last, Vel stirred and looked up to meet her eyes.

“They are together now. His soul is at peace.”

She did not move, and her eyes never left the still face of Seamus. Adain was the first of the Watchers to come over. He placed a consoling hand on her shoulder. “Let him go, Beccah. It’s alright.”

“Don’t touch me,” she said darkly. He removed his hand but did not leave. He stood beside her awaiting her next order. She finally broke her silence after what seemed like forever.

“Send word to Ren. He’ll need to be notified. I want him here by tomorrow night.” Adain nodded and ran off to do as she bid.

Velorum stood, knowing that there was nothing he could do or say to take away her pain. He could feel it keenly, and knew that part of her blamed him for Seamus’ death. In time that would fade, but for now it was like a fire. He silently left her side and went to where Tear and Echo had assembled most of the remnants of the Fae. Tear met the eyes of his opposite and nodded, knowing what Vel was going to say before he said it.

“We’ll take care of things here and join you as soon as we can.”

Echo met Vel’s gaze. Her face was solemn “It’s a very near thing, Vel. There’s so little left for her to hold on to. If you fail, all we have done this night amounts to nothing.”

The emerald eyed dark Fae nodded, his eyes drifting to where the Watchers were bearing away the body of their fallen leader. “Then I must not fail.” With that, he took up his sword and was at last on his way to deliver his beloved.

Beccah stood and watched as the Watchers silently bore Seamus off the field of battle. "Damn you, you bloody Irishman," she muttered, then risked a glance skyward. "You shouldn't have come...that should have been me." Turning away, she started walking in the opposite direction. Though other matters occupied her thoughts, some sixth sense continued to operate. Thanks to it she managed to duck several thrown daggers, the offending owners being taken out by those Watchers that had remained behind. However, even instinct failed her at one point and she was cannoned into by a muddy, brown-haired blur. They both fell to the ground, him on top of her. "Get OFF!" Beccah snarled, shoving him off even as she got her first good look at him. As their eyes met they both froze, as did those around them, both Seelie and Unseelie.

“Well, as I live and breathe,” he said, not taking his eyes off hers. “Rebecca. It’s nice to see you again.”

Beccah narrowed her eyes, meeting his gaze steadily. Jace O’Bannon, a Watcher lieutenant, glanced at his brother Luke in confusion. Obviously these two knew each other, anyone could tell that, but they looked so alike that they couldn’t not be related. The only difference that Jace could see was that while Beccah’s grey eyes had a hint of blue in them, the man’s had a hint of green. Could it be the rumors were true, Jace wondered. Did Beccah have a brother that no one ever spoke of?

“Brynmor.” She finally broke her silence. “I should have known. You’re never far from your master’s shadow.”

Now it was the man’s turn to narrow his eyes. “Calling me by that name, are you?”

“Why not? It’s yours. As much as I hate to admit it.” Beccah got to her feet, her movements mirrored by Brynmor.

“Given to me by parents too stupid, too weak, to see where the true power lay.” He spat.

“Is that why you betrayed them?” Beccah asked, pulling two daggers from their sheaths. “Sent them to their deaths?”

Brynmor snorted. “I betrayed no one.” He drew his own blade, a straight saber with a keen edge.

“Liar!” Beccah snarled, tightening her grip on her daggers.

Brynmor looked at her, seeming almost amused. “You’re going to fight me, little sister?” he asked, his voice taunting her, daring her to try it. “When you know I was – and will always be – better than you?”

“I swore…” she grated out, her voice shaking, “on my parents’ graves–“

“Our parents’ graves” He corrected her. He could see her resolve wavering and grinned, knowing he had the upper hand. The seed of fear had been planted, and all he need do now was wait for it to grow.

“No…my parents’ graves.” Beccah said. “Not yours. Not since you joined that rat-bastard.”

“You mean my Lord Amethyst?” Brynmor asked with a smirk, knowing full well that she would never call his Lord by name. No Watcher would.

Beccah didn’t reply. Instead she began to circle, vaguely aware of the ring forming around them; a ring formed of Fae and humans on both sides of the battle.

Brynmor circled with her, bringing his saber up in a mocking salute. “Mom and Dad would be so proud.” He commented, knowing it would needle her. “Their perfect little girl’s leading the Watchers.”

“They’d roll over in their graves if they could see you now.” She retorted. “It broke Mom’s heart when you never came back home. And Dad’s…you were supposed to carry on the family line, you know.” She looked disgusted. “But since you’re not part of the family now, I don’t think we need worry about that.”

“Maybe.” He feinted a cut, trying to draw her in. “So what did you swear?” His eyes locked on hers once more, reading the emotions there. Anger and fear, and a strange reluctance. He smirked.

“To kill you.” Beccah told him in a low voice. “You and the one you serve.”

That made Brynmor laugh. “You? Kill me? You couldn’t even touch me, let alone kill me.” His smirk widened. “Besides. You don’t really want to do it.”

“How would you know?” she snapped.

“If you did, you would’ve done it by now.” He shrugged. “Logic.”

“Shut up!” She lunged, slashing with both daggers and snarling like an enraged wolf.
Brynmor danced back, eyes widening slightly as he fended off the sudden attack. He fetched up against something – or someone – and felt himself pushed back towards Beccah.

Beccah allowed herself a slight grin at Luke’s move and nodded slightly to the young Watcher, then locked her eyes on Brynmor again. They were full of the battle-light that usually appeared when she fought; beneath the slightly mad glint was a fierce rage. She charged again, one dagger swinging at Brynmor’s throat. Brynmor jumped to the side, only to meet the dagger in her other hand coming around. He yowled in pain as it sunk to the hilt in his side.

A murmur ran through the crowd that had been watching. Members of the Scarlet Order and those few Unseelie Fae that had gathered began drawing weapons. Those Seelie Fae and Watchers present began doing the same. One enterprising Unseelie drew a bead on Beccah with a throwing knife. Jace felled the Fae with two shots from his bow and yelled, “Bec, get outta here!”

The yell was well-timed. The Scarlet Order chose that time to charge in and grab Brynmor, four lifting him with the dagger still in his side while the others faced Beccah. Still wild with battle-lust she wanted to charge in, break through them and take out Brynmor, but something held her back. Seamus is dead…a voice in her head reminded her. That means you have a duty to the others. There will be other times.

“This isn’t over, Brynmor!” She yelled over the sounds of the fights breaking out all around her.

“I’m not Brynmor!” he yelled back, the pain in his voice giving Beccah a certain satisfaction, even if it had lost her a dagger. “I’m Vercingetorix now!”
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