Untitled Fairy Story
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Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:24 pm
I've been waiting to post this because I wanted event currency. Very Happy Anyway, I wrote this for the Writer's Pub contest, but it took me forever, and it seems that the Pub has been abandoned since I was last there, so I'm posting it here. It's not finished. I need to make some improvements. Any constructive criticism would be awesome. It's really long, though, so good luck!

Edena Gorlcat left the birdhouse behind and flew, wings creaking, bones aching in the cool night air. She longed to land on every branch of every tree she passed, but continued on through the human suburb with ever increasing awareness of the heartbeat throbbing through her ears. Old age, relatively kind to fairies, had left a body thousands of years older than most of her peers in a state of perpetual agony. It wasn’t only her age, which was the problem, though. The atmosphere on this alien world didn’t help. It was too thin, too quiet. She was accustomed to being surrounded by music. Here, people only found music when they summoned it.

By the time she found the familiar windowsill, she didn’t even have enough breath to sigh in relief, but she landed lightly on the ledge. The window was open, as usual, and she pushed through the gap between the screen and the frame. The nursery was decorated in yellow and purple and filled with standard baby paraphernalia. Edena, still not having caught her breath, willed her wings to move anyway, and she flitted steadily, over to the crib, landed on the white-painted railing, and looked down at the child.

It was awake, and more than that, alert. Edena felt hope pervade her consciousness, but she pushed it away. The baby’s bright eyes had fooled her before, and she’d wasted precious stardust in trying to imbue the child with the power of flight, only to have the iridescent dust turn black and fade away. Edena stepped along the crib railing, and the babe’s eyes followed her. She mustered up enough strength to flutter over to the mobile hanging above the babe’s crib, and land on a soft, squishy half-moon. She clung to the moon and peered down upon the babe. Its head rolled toward its shoulder and it gurgled, arms flexing.

Edena allowed herself a small smile. Huge and frightening as humans were; from this angle, the babe could almost pass as cute. “Greetings, ‘Hoss’,” Edena sang to the babe, utilizing the nickname its parents had given it. The babe perked up and then squinched its eyes closed, fists clenched in another spasm of delight. Edena felt the hope returning, and then the desperation of short supply.

Time and dust; that was what she needed, and what she was nearly out of. She pulled out her pouch. Six grains left. Enough to get the babe afloat, but after that…. She pulled out her final specks of stardust. They glimmered on her finger. Even as she prayed that they would be enough, some dark part of her hoped they wouldn’t. Then her quest would be over, and she could rest, secure in the knowledge that she had tried her best. She shook off the thought.

Edena gave the plush moon an affectionate pat and let go, falling more than flying towards the baby. Some flicker of strength left in her wings moved the muscles and turned her descent into a swoop. As she passed over the gummily-grinning babe, she tapped its nose, dislodging the bits of stardust from her finger onto the child. Momentum swung her toward the edge of the crib, and she braced herself for impact. The railing caught her in the stomach, and somehow, arms and legs like limp noodles wrapped around the railing. She clung there for a moment, too terrified to look back into the crib.

When she did manage to look over her shoulder, she found the mattress empty. Her heart jumped from her chest to her throat, and she felt it lodge there, beating rapidly and stealing her breath. She raised her gaze slowly, until she found the baby floating in the air. It gave another gurgle, and looked at her in wide-mouthed delight. Edena’s head fell to rest upon the crib railing, relief infusing her body with breath, but not strength. In despair, she realized that though the babe was ready – finally – Edena was finished.

What could she do? She tried to move her body, but her muscles refused to flex even in mockery of her attempt. The Devil found her there, and whispered in her ear. “Give up,” he said, attempting to persuade her mind to follow her body.

Throughout her life, Edena had faced this voice, this temptation into voluntary failure. Some days it had won. Most days, she had. Today, it seemed, was not her day. And with her defeat, tomorrow wasn’t even a possibility.

“Coo-ee!” The voice broke through to her consciousness slowly, climbing through layers of self-doubt and depression. “Hello! I can see you! Pay attention to me! Excuse me – I’m a star. You need to pay attention to me NOW!” The Devil’s talk, never more than a whisper, was drowned out by this energetic demand. Edena’s head jerk up, away from the railing. Then she figured that if she had enough energy to be surprised she’d have enough energy to turn her head. She did.

The baby was now floating above the mobile now, leaving the moon and stars to twirl gently beneath it. Edena fixed her gaze upon each of the stars in the mobile, trying to figure out which one the voice was coming from.

“Not those stars, Dummy!” The voice called down to her. “I’m a real star! In the sky!”

Oh. Edena’s cheeks flamed with humiliation at her own idiocy. Frustration at being seen at her most helpless fueled her pathetic attempts to move, but it still took far more time than she cared to keep track of to do it.

Meanwhile, the star began and then maintained a non-stop, self-involved monologue about its favorite subject – itself. “…and my favorite color is octarine!” it concluded triumphantly as Edena managed to straddle the crib railing and sit up, facing the window. She looked out into the night sky. Only seven stars were visible from within the box of the window frame, but the star had said it could see Edena, so it only followed that Edena could see it from her vantage point.

“Which one are you?” Edena asked.

One of the stars twinkled and danced in place. “I’m right here!” It said, its voice like thousands of chiming bells.

“I see you,” Edena said. “You are beautiful,” she said, following the protocol of dealing with a star: when in doubt, flatter.

“How kind of you to say so,” the star answered back, shimmering in delight.

“What is your name?” Edena asked.

“My name is Laniel.”

Oh dear. It wasn’t the way that the star said its name that alarmed Edena. It was the pregnant pause after the introduction. Conversations with stars were always tests. Edena was glad that she was too tired to roll her eyes; otherwise she’d have to stop herself from doing so.


“Oh, indeed, Laniel,” Edena said. Her thoughts moved like languid lava. How likely was it that she had met this star before? There were billions, and she had only met two or three thousand. Out of that, she had only bartered with hundreds. So the math was against her having met this star before. But stars were egocentric, which meant that they kept track of where their dust went, and what was done with it. There were terrible punishments for fairies who’d misuse stardust. With that in mind, she took a shot. “What a pleasure it is to speak to you again. I don’t know if you remember me, but my name is Edena Gorlcat. We have met before.”

“Yes,” Laniel answered. “It is five specks of my dust that hold the human afloat, as we speak. The other speck belongs to Alust. We should not,” Laniel continued, a harsh note entering a voice like singing bells, “share the same pouch.”

“Oh, dear,” Edena said. The presence of the star revitalized her, and even as she sent up a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving, her mind spun with calculations. Stars were notorious for being helpful on quests like this one, but only if they were personally invested in the outcome. An offended star was not likely to be all that helpful. “I was not aware of that stricture in regard to using stardust,” Edena said carefully. “I do apologize and humbly beg you to forgive my ignorance.”

“It’s not a law yet,” Laniel answered, tinny pettiness creeping into its dulcet, bell-like tones. “I’ve petitioned Pantheon to make it so, but I will be a black hole by the time they get around to it. So for now it is only a pet peeve, and I shall grant your request for forgiveness, upon your pledge of honor that you will never do it again.”

“By my troth, I do promise to never mix the dust from two stars in one pouch,” Edena said solemnly. “Indeed, I shall spread the word to my fellow faeries should I be successful in tonight’s mission.

“Mission?” Laniel said, faux innocence reverberating through its tones. “Of what mission do you speak?”

Edena allowed herself an internal sigh. The star knew exactly what was going on, but that was one of the games stars played – feigning disinterest in the fates of alien beings, when really they had little better to do than watch the various dramas being played out on inhabited bodies. “My mission,” Edena said, humoring the star, “is to take this child to my home planet and to use its innocence as a weapon against my ex-husband’s hatred. He has enthralled an army of beings, and is using them to tunnel through and unleash the magical core of my home planet, which will destroy that planet, this one, and many others.”

“Ex-husband,” Laniel said, her tones ringing with the eagerness of a born gossip. “Aren’t you a --”

Edena smoothed the skirt of her habit. “I wasn’t always a nun,” she said, irritated that the star had skipped over the pertinent aspect of her mission in favor of perceived scandal.

Laniel’s laughter rolled through the heavens, a thousand cathedral bells expressing unholy amusement.

Edena rolled her eyes and waited until the star’s tolls gave way to hiccuppy tinkles. “However,” she continued, “I am out of dust and out of strength, and there is no way for me to get myself home, let alone an eight-ton infant.”

“Oh,” Laniel said, giving one more tinkling giggle. “I can help with that!”

Edena shook her head, surprised. “How?”

“My dust is a part of me,” Laniel said. “I can connect to it, and control it. So I can get the human moving and you too, if you are physically connected to it.”

Edena thought about it. “Is there any way to simply transfer more dust to me?” She waited for an answer, worried that the star would rightly translate this as a rejection of the star’s favors in favor of the star’s resources. But she had to attempt to disentangle herself from the star’s direct help. The service of stars came at hefty cost, and she only really needed the dust. With it, she could boost her own energy, transport the child, and pass through a doorway between the babe’s world and hers.

“No,” Laniel answered.

There was something in its tones that made Edena question whether the star meant that it was impossible to transfer its dust, or it was refusing too. She didn’t ask.

“Now,” Laniel said, tones tinkling like icicles on a windy winter morning. “How do you propose we get this child out of the house? I can’t move it through walls.”

Edena was surprised. “You can’t just blink him from one place to the next?”

“No,” Laniel answered, annoyance clanging through her tones. “That’s what fairies do with stardust.”

“Oh.” Edena looked around. Could she enlarge the hole in the window screen so that the child could fit through it? Maybe, but it would be noticeable to the babe’s parents, if one of them happened to peek into the room. Thinking of….Edena waved a hand at the babe’s empty mattress. An illusion of the infant appeared in the space, but Edena nearly blacked out. She clung to the crib rail and tried not to throw up. She was confused. The simple glamour should have been no more tiring than a thought. Her energy level must be even lower than she’d calculated. She fought the nausea, wondering how she could go on, even with the star’s help.

But then she felt it. It was like the effects of stardust, at once concentrated and subtle. Her head cleared, and she rose to hover over the crib without any conscious effort. “Wow,” she breathed, plump with power. She waved her hand at the mattress, and the illusion of the baby sighed.

“Do you mind?” Laniel’s tones were sharp.

“What?” Edena said. She flew to the window, to gaze at the star. Again, the effort was nonexistent. Even her bones felt young. She felt a sudden gratitude toward her lucky star.

“I’m focusing my energy on two beings,” Laniel said, her tones still sharp. “Can you please restrain yourself?”

Edena was instantly abashed. She dropped down to the windowsill and loosened her grasp on Laniel’s starbeams. The star had reached out to lend strength to her, and she’d unconsciously grabbed hold and sucked that strength into herself. The power, the freedom that came from a body without pain, made letting go harder psychologically than physically. She did it though, allowing the ache to return to her bones, to a backlash that made her want to weep.

“I can help,” Laniel intoned gently, infusing Edena with strength again, although not as much as before. “You just can’t have it all.” She added, amusement tinkling in her tones.

“Thank you,” Edena said, grateful for the influx of energy. The baby was still floating above its crib, but it had rotated so that it was facing the illusion Edena had created of it. The babe was staring at itself, hypnotized by involuntary vanity.

She fluttered over to the infant. The babe was still hovering over its crib, looking down on the smiling faces of the moon and stars of its mobile. Edena stretched out a toe with which to nudge the babe, testing the boundaries of her and its force fields. The fields touched, and the baby’s field rebounded off of Edena’s, before moving away. Encouraged, Edena nudged the baby’s field with hers again, with slightly more force, and the babe moved again.

Edena looked out the window. “I think I can maneuver the babe this way,” she said. “Does this cause too much strain on you?”

There was a pause before the star answered. “It’s easier to control both fields when they’re closer together, but when they touch, they want to combine.” Laniel’s tones sounded tense.

Edena thought for a moment. “Okay. And you can steer us easily, or is it better if I fly and bump the babe along?”

“I can steer you if I can see you,” the star replied. “My accuracy would be off if you were out of sight because I would be unable to see your obstacles.”

Edena looked at the window screen. She could make the hole large enough to push the baby through, and then repair the screen on the way out. Aluminum was a natural element, so it wouldn’t cause her harm, nor would it interrupt the star’s force field, but the field would prevent her from doing the delicate work of repairing the screen. She’d have to leave another illusion at the window so that the screen would look intact.

“Can you move the babe closer to the window?” She asked. “I want to make a hole in the screen, but I don’t want to cause too much strain on you as I do it.”

“Certainly,” the star replied. A moment later, the babe moved toward the window, and Edena followed.

Edena found the corner of the screen that had separated from its vinyl cord. She couldn’t grip the screen through the force field, but she was able to separate it further from the frame by applying the pressure of her field to the mesh of the screen. The field brushed against the vinyl cord. The field flickered, and nausea throttled her.

“Careful!” The star shouted.

“I’m sorry,” Edena whispered. The force field snapped back on, but the nausea remained. She looked around, but felt as though her eyeballs were swimming in her head. She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths, waiting for the dizziness to pass. When it had receded to a manageable level, she opened her eyes.

Sickness punched her gut, but she fought it. She was confused. She had touched vinyl before, without this extreme reaction. She realized that the star, being so far distant from Earth, must have worse allergies to synthetic materials than Edena had. Edena was experiencing Laniel’s nausea, rather than her own. Edena filed the information away. She wouldn’t gladly hurt a star, but they were tricky entities, and this tidbit may come in handy in the future. For the moment, though, Edena concentrated on making the hole in the screen large enough to fit both force fields through, without allowing either field to come into contact with any unnatural elements.

Finally, Edena was able to move through the window, balancing the corner of the screen on her force field and flying up until the flap was large enough for the baby to slip through. The baby moved through the space with no snags; still gurgling, drooling, and fairly unconcerned about the perilousness of its position – hovering twenty feet off the ground with only the strength of a distant star to keep it afloat.

Edena let the flap fall, and the screen settled into place. She decided not to repair it, for the moment. It would pass a casual inspection, so there wasn’t much concern that the babe’s parents would spot the rent.

“Alright,” Edena said. “Now what?”

“I have to interrupt the flow of power long enough for you to land on the human’s back, but not long enough to drop the baby, so I need to you move quickly.”

“Okay,” Edena said. She flew over to the baby and hovered just above the force field range. “One,” she said, “two, three – go!” Flying under the star’s power, rather than her own, had been a welcome respite. When the star cut off its power, Edena felt like her body was filled with lead. The lead was filled with pain.

She fell.

When she landed on the baby’s broad back, it gave a gurgle and let loose a gob of slobber. Then the star’s power kicked in again, reviving the fairy.

“Thank you,” she said to the star. She sent a silent prayer of thanks up to God, as well, knowing that her own strength and resources would not have brought her even this far through her mission without His intervention. However, she thanked Him for those meager stores as well, knowing that what energy she had, came from Him.

“You’re welcome,” the star answered, but its tones sounded tense.

Edena realized that the sharing of its power had caused strain to the star. The force field that held Edena and the baby seemed weak and wobbly, but after a moment, it strengthened. The feeling of being tucked into a nice, safe cocoon overwhelmed Edena, and she and the babe moved through the air.

Edena suspected that the position of riding along on a flying baby was a power play on the star’s part. It was giving Edena a not-so-subtle reminder that Laniel was the only reason that Edena would be able to fulfill her mission. But, with the waves of soothing power washing over Edena and the warmth wafting up from the baby’s body heat, she didn’t mind. Besides, she knew the truth. The success or failure of Edena’s mission relied entirely on God’s will – not Laniel’s, or even Edena’s. The only power either Edena or Laniel had, was in their choices, and for now, they were on the side of all that was pure and holy.

“Do you know where we’re going?” Edena murmured sleepily.

“Machu Picchu,” Laniel answered. “Don’t worry; we’ll be there in a couple of hours. Plenty of time to save the worlds.”

“There are power points much closer than that,” Edena said. She wasn’t sure if her own exhaustion was causing this sudden sleepiness, or if it was a manipulation of Laniel’s power. Probably both. It was hard to care, as long as the pain was gone.

“I need a much stronger power point to work from, since I’m so far from where you are,” Laniel answered. There was a ring of truth in her tones, but some of them rang false as well. This was another opportunity for Laniel to display her power in the situation.

Again, Edena didn’t care. “Okay,” she murmured, sleepy thoughts turning to her ex-husband. She hadn’t seen him in about a thousand years. She’d driven away by his fury and her own sorrow. Foreboding tried to break through the cocoon of peace, but failed. She was too tired to worry.

Edena awoke to a soft breeze and an enhanced sense of well-being. She felt almost – dare she think it – sprightly. Machu Picchu looked alien in the moonlight, with wisps of clouds encircling the peaks of the surrounding mountainside. Edena lifted up off of the baby’s back, breaking through the force field easily, almost involuntarily, and gave herself up to the power of the place. She soared, yes, soared, for the first time in – close to forever. She closed her eyes, and let go, using the magic of the place as a buoy. She turned an arch of the back into a languid flip, and then fell again, snug in the embracing currents of pure power.

The strength that she’d been borrowing from the star felt like mere threads compared to the layers of power blanketing the ruins. The mental comparison to the star brought Edena back to her mission. She spun around in a few lazy barrel roles, and pulled herself up. The babe was nowhere to be seen, but Edena could sense its presence off to her right.

She found the babe; still drooling (she would have thought it would have run out of saliva, but apparently not). The babe’s eyes were bright with awareness. It was smart, Edena knew. She didn’t doubt the baby would retain memories of this night, even if only as vague, dreamlike remnants.

“Come on, Hoss,” she told it. “Let’s save the worlds.” The knowingness in the baby’s gaze gave Edena goose bumps. She shrugged it off, and found Laniel in the sky. “I don’t quite know how to thank you,” she said. Being buffeted by awesome power made her suddenly humble. She was ashamed of her previous attitude toward the star, and at the same time, she was overwhelmed with gratitude. The star shone even more brightly through the glaze of tears in Edena’s eyes.

“You are very welcome, Edena Gorlcat,” Laniel said, her tones twinkling with amusement, as though she perceived the fairy’s internal transformation. “We shall meet again, I think.” The words were threat as much as promise. The fairy owed a large debt to the star for this night’s work.

Edena felt the star’s disconnect as a slight loss of warmth, like stepping outside of a warm home on a cooling summer night. At the same time, the babe fell, but Edena ducked underneath caught it. Annoyance overtook appreciation for the star, which was a good thing, because it brought her back to the mission.

Her ex-husband was a fiend, but he was also a former friend, a former lover. Defeating him would hurt more than she was willing to contemplate. Also, it was quite possible that she was sacrificing the child whose belly she now had balanced on her head. Edena could fail, and the child could die.

At the moment, the Greater Good of human-and-fae kind seemed to weigh less on her shoulders than the babe on her mind. The frailty that had been seeping into her bones of late, as well as her diminishing supply of stardust had nearly guaranteed her failure, which had prevented her from fully processing the coldness of character this mission demanded of her. She hadn’t acknowledged the utter devastation of the human parents should anything happen to their priceless child.

That the destruction of the parents’ world was certain, should she fail, did not comfort Edena. Even a second of that type of loss was too long, and the knowledge that she could be robbing two loving parents of even their last moments with their child, stabbed through every pore in Edena’s skin. The pain left her weak, and she almost fell to the ground, despite the palpable power flowing over the mountain.

It was her sense of responsibility toward the child, though, that shored up her strength and resolve. Ugly as this battle could turn; it was one that had to be fought. Determination sheathed her bones in steel as she floated over the Intihuatana stone toward a freestanding wall. The window within the wall, an intentional absence of stone, was metaphorical enough to be used as a doorway between the worlds. She and the babe slipped through easily.

Home had a power of its own. Edena felt as though the air inhaled her, rather than the other way around, so vital was her presence in her own world. Here, the intervention of a lucky star would have been superfluous, as the entire planet seemed to rush to infuse her with its strength. She hadn’t been home in centuries, which, she realized now, probably had something to do with her physical deterioration. Now, Edena felt as though she were being re-hydrated, fortified.

Edena didn’t need to fly here, she needed merely to intend. The baby floated above her now, an enormous, pole-less umbrella, held in the air by her will, giving her arms a rest. Actually – Edena dodged a drip of slobber – an umbrella would have been nice.

“Showtime, Hoss,” Edena said. Miniature, moonlit rainbows accompanied tinkling sounds as she and the babe moved through crystalline air. The babe moved more air around than she did, creating a rather euphonious racket, but Edena didn’t mind. Her ex should be expecting her, so the forewarning shouldn’t be too much of a problem. She almost preferred not to take him by surprise. However unfair war was supposed to be, ambushing Leroy was an impossible thought. Her fingers found the rosary at her waist, and her mind formed a half-conscious novena as she moved toward the mine.

Leroy appeared at the mouth of the cave, moving away from the darkness, into the light. Edena wished that it was a spiritual motion as well as a physical one.

“Edena,” Leroy said, acknowledging her with a slight bow.

His voice moved through her, and each familiar movement of his body was like a tiny jab to her soul. The intentional expressionlessness of his face, all too painfully familiar, was belied by a burning gaze, one as pained as her own.

“Leroy,” Edena answered, trying to hide the effect he still had on her, whilst acknowledging how futile that effort was.

The pair exchanged wry smiles, and then both straightened, ready for battle.

“Leroy Seymour Walls,” Edena said. “You are formally charged with two million, six hundred and thiry-five thousand, four hundred and eight counts of Species Endangerment Across Two Dimensions. You are further charged with Reckless Anger and Conspiracy to Destroy One or More Worlds. You are ordered to surrender and face trial by the Tabernacle.”

Throughout her recital of his crimes, Leroy’s expression had shifted through wry mirth, disgust, anger, frustration, and finally settled on bitter amusement. “Do you think,” Leroy said, “That I fear anything that you or the Tabernacle can inflict on me? Do you really think,” Leroy continued, his voice rising in volume, but deepening in anger, “that you can commit more harm on me than is inflicted upon me each and every day, all day long, with no relief?” His eyes burned with anguish, and Edena felt her own anguish answer his.

“No,” she answered softly, not bothering to suppress the tears that fell down her cheeks, lost in the saddest music ever heard in any world, as the moisture from her eyes cracked the crystalline air.

Leroy broke their gaze, heartbroken at witnessing her own anguish. Then he looked up, and shook his head. “You feel what I feel,” he said, his rough voice cracking. “How do you do it? How do you defend that monster you call ‘God’? How is what I’m doing worse than what you’re doing?”

The pain of loss, which had only worsened over the centuries, deepened even more. Edena fought back tears, unwilling to hear that bittersweet song even one more time. “We lost a child,” she answered, wondering when and where she found the breath to speak through the agony. “We—”

“We didn’t lose her,” Leroy interrupted, fury erupting from his soul, choking the words out of him. “She was taken from us! And He could have stopped it! Your precious God could have brought her back to us. You blame the Devil? The Devil couldn’t hate us half as much as God does. God has more power than the Devil. God can do whatever He wants. That means He could have let us keep our daughter, and He didn’t. He is responsible.”

Edena had heard it before – Hell, she’d felt it before. She felt it now, bitterness threatening to overtake her. But she fought until she felt something else. God’s grace washed over her, cool and soothing. The source of all of the love that had flowed between herself and her daughter for those few precious decades was always available, even though her daughter no longer was. Edena clung to the balm of God’s love, bathing in it, allowing it to ease the ache of loss – at least for the moment.

When she opened her eyes, Leroy was only a breath away, but it felt like miles. He saw the distance in her eyes, and he turned away.

“I’ve got work to do,” he said, his voice resigned.

“You have to stop, Leroy,” Edena said. “I’m here to stop you.”

“With what?” Leroy answered, disgust evident in his tone. He turned toward her and gestured toward the baby. “With that? What is that going to do?” He laughed derisively. “Where are its weapons?”

“That baby,” Edena answered, “is pure innocence. Her mere presence is infusing the planet with its purity, unraveling the evil you have committed here.”

Leroy sneered. “Evil?” His sneer turned to a growl. “How dare you accuse me of committing evil? All I want is to dig my way to Hell. I live there, anyway. It’s where I belong, and who knows? Maybe the Devil’s looking for a new best friend.”

Edena shook her head. “Do you hear the words coming out of your mouth? How can you deny the evil in that statement?”

Leroy snorted. “It’s all in how you define ‘evil’, isn’t it? God is my enemy. God is evil. Therefore, what I’m doing is good.”

“When you open the core,” Edena said, “the magic is going to escape and this world will die along with any other world that is even remotely connected to this one. The Devil does not reside on this plane of existence, and you know that.”

Leroy shook his head. “And how do I know that? To know that, I’d have to believe what I’ve been told, and there is no one on this or any other plane of existence whose word I can trust.”

“There is the plane of existence on which our daughter resides,” Edena said.

Leroy’s eyes burned with such anger, that Edena felt the heat of it scorch her body. “If the plane of existence that our daughter resides on were available to me, then we wouldn’t be in this little predicament, now would we?”

Something in Leroy’s words caught at Edena’s attention – a secret intention, a hope. “Ahh…” Edena sighed in understanding. She moved to Leroy, and caressed his cheek with the barest tips of her fingers. “You think that opening the core will take you to our daughter.” An empathic longing forced her eyes closed, and when she opened them again, she found hope shining in the depths of her ex-husband’s eyes. A hope – an insane, impossible hope stirred within her breast – what if?

The temptation to believe the promise in Leroy’s eyes threatened to overtake her. In the face of everything she knew to be true and right, she was almost willing to succumb to his version of reality. So badly did she yearn to see her daughter again – and not someday, but right now – that she almost united her will to Leroy’s.

But in the breathless moment that existed in the space between choices, a strange soundtrack burned in her ears. She unlocked her gaze from Leroy’s to find the huge, human baby hovering where she’d left it. Drool pooled out of its lips, sliding through the crystalline air in a grotesque euphony. And she knew the source of her hesitation.

She was guaranteed to see her daughter again, someday, when all of her missions were fulfilled. And though Leroy offered her a shortcut to that goal, the penalty for believing that she could be reunited with her daughter and being wrong was the destruction of all kinds of worlds. Being wrong was not a victimless crime.

Leroy saw the answer in her eyes, but it was too late for him, anyway. The purity of the infant’s soul was burning through the decades of bitterness, stealing away his armor. He fell to his knees, gaze locked on the child’s.

Edena’s attention was drawn to the mouth of the cave. A faint glow grew brighter, and then a unicorn emerged. Its colors were dull and dingy, but as it gazed upon the human child, its colors grew brighter. It broke through the air, sending ripples of music throughout the clearing. Next, a fairy, black from head-to-toe, emerged from the cave. As it gazed upon the child, its hair and skin remained black, but both were infused with a new luster. The fairy’s very clothing became brighter, and he flitted away, leaving a trail of audio sunshine. More creatures emerged from the cave; ogres, trolls, nymphs, elves, and even a few humans – all of whom gazed upon Hoss for mere moments, before escaping into the forest. Every one of the beings emerged clothed in darkness and fled, incandescent.

With all of the movement, the clearing filled with the music that could only be produced when folk of all races came together, even if for the moment, they were departing. The moonlit rainbows seemed lighter; the air was easier to breathe. Everything smelled newer and fresher, and still Hoss and Leroy remained locked in mutual fascination.

When the flow of entities exiting the cave had ceased, the world quieted; the only noise was the faintest tinkle of Edena’s wings against the air.

Leroy’s complexion, never far from a ruddy ashiness even on his best day, was mottled with the effort of holding on to his hatred. Finally, he let go of the last of it, and his skin brightened to a silvery sheen. His eyes, though, when his gaze found Edena’s, still held the profoundest sadness.

Whatever evils the magic of innocence and purity could cure, sorrow was not one of them. Edena ran her fingers through Leroy’s hair, and then dropped her forehead to rest against his.

“I’ve got nothing left,” Leroy murmured, his eyes closed against the pain. “What do I do now?”

Edena searched every corner of her consciousness and found no answer.

-----------------------------------------------------

Okay, that's all. My own personal notes on what I need to do to improve the story are as follows:

* Create a stronger connection between Edena and the baby. Right now the baby is an "it", which is a distancing mechanism that Edena uses, but it still needs to be clear that the baby has a strong effect on the living beings it interacts with.

* Edena has exiled herself from her home planet since shortly after her daughter died. She has used the physical discomfort and growing pain as a distraction against her emotional pain. So when the star, and Macchu Picchu help her out, she has to become more reflective. When she faces Leroy again, it has to be with the realization that he has spent centuries feeling the sorrow that she has been avoiding. It should strip her of all of her self-righteousness (which means, I have to establish that she's self-righteous). Coming home should almost destroy her.

I think that's it for now. Crystal OUT!
_________________


Siggeh by Manda of HeartsEnchanted.com
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