*Warning: As per usual, rated for Blaise’s dirty mouth. This chapter contains bad, uncensored language.*
“I told you not to come here.”
Adrian’s voice was deep and low, a sound so uncharacteristic Lyra couldn’t help but look up from her reading, realising for the first time that someone was at the front door. She’d been so absorbed in her book that she hadn’t even heard Adrian opening the door. Outside, the weather was still storming, with sheets of rain drumming against the muddy soil and gusts of wind howling around the corners of the house.
The heat from the fire crackling merrily in the fireplace was steadily escaping through the open door, making Lyra scowl. Did Adrian have to talk to whoever was at the door right there? It was damn cold with the door open like that.
“Just let them come in, Adrian,” Sionann requested petulantly from her position on the couch, echoing Lyra’s thoughts. “You’re letting the heat out.”
She was getting bigger and heavier by the day, and even though Lyra knew her friend still had a month or two to go, the fairy looked about ready to pop any day now.
Adrian’s grip on the door tightened, and for a moment Lyra thought he would refuse, but then he stepped away from the door with a resigned sigh.
“Come in,” he murmured at the guests, but he was clearly and quite visibly hoping they’d refuse and leave, to no avail. The guests immediately stepped inside. They were familiar to Lyra in a distant way, like she’d met them before, but not long enough to make an impression. Maybe she met them at Sionann and Adrian’s wedding?
“We need your help,” the blue-haired fairy announced in a no-nonsense tone the moment Adrian closed the door behind them. “Lord Leneo said –”
“No,” Adrian interrupted brusquely, folding his arms across his chest in a way not unlike Blaise’s usual stance. “I’m done with the Hunt, Deidre,” he declared firmly. “If you need help, go ask someone else.”
“There is no one else!” Deidre retorted shrilly, a touch of hysteria in her voice. Her wings, darker than any Lyra had seen before, fluttered impatiently. “You know just as well-“
“Adrian, please, just hear us out,” the male fairy (what was his name again?) requested, halting Deidre’s tirade. “If you still feel the same after hearing what we have to say, I swear to you, we won’t bother you again. Just hear us out.”
Adrian continued scowling at them for a moment before he sent a questioning glance to Sionann. Whatever answer he found in her returning glance calmed him down, and with another resigned sigh, he took a seat on the couch and indicated to the others to do the same.
“Alright, I’m listening,” he stated non-committedly. The male fairy paced around, clearly trying to find the best words to make his case.
“I’m fully aware of that, Chauncy,” he declared firmly, “and I already told you, I’m done with the Hunt. The only reason we’re still on the island is because of Sionann’s health issues, so if you’re trying to convince me to rejoin the Hunt, save your breath. I won’t do it.”
“Not even if it means Sionann and her child will be put in danger?” the third member of the party asked quietly.
The blood drained from Sionann’s face and her hand immediately went to her bump, protectively cradling her unborn son. Adrian abruptly turned to the speaker, a severe expression on his face.
“Exactly what are you meaning with that?” he demanded, anger growing in his voice. “Are you threatening us?”
The blonde raised her hands in defence.
“Peace, Adrian,” she pleaded. “If you’ll just let us explain…”
Adrian scowled, and a muscle in his clenched jaw jumped. His answer was a single short sentence.
Chauncy immediately took up the invitation.
“You remember a while ago, when Tighe was attacked?” he asked rhetorically. “Well, it wasn’t an isolated event. There’s a Wild out there who’s deliberately targeting fairies, the same one who attacked Tighe. Last night he attacked Caiolinn and Meallan…in their house.”
“They’re injured, but they’ll be fine,” Chauncy reassured them, “but the point is, our wards aren’t enough to keep our homes safe anymore. We need to take down this Wild before he hurts more of us. Deidre,” he indicated with a nod of his head, “tumbled with him before, and he’s vicious, and very dangerous. We need a mage of your power.”
Adrian swept a hand through his hair, clearly conflicted.
“If that’s the truth, there’s only more reason for me to stay,” he pointed out. “If this Wild is capable of breaching our wards, there’s no guarantee Sionann is safe here. I’ll have to stay to protect her. You know she isn’t capable of using her magic right now. I’m sure you’ll be able to find a mage somewhere else. I won’t do it.”
“Adrian, there is no one else,” Chauncy insisted. “If you don’t believe me, you can ask Blaise, but there is literally no one else available. To take this Wild down, we need a powerful mage, and all the other mages are already spoken for. I don’t know what their duties are, but Lord Leneo confirmed they’re not available. I fear this breaching of wards is just the beginning of something much bigger, something we need to stop before it’s too late. We have to take down this Wild, and we’re not strong enough. We need you.”
“Please,” the blonde agreed.
Lyra didn’t dare to move. She’d almost forgotten about the Hunt, it being so far and distant from her normal everyday life, but with the conversation happening around, it was impossible not to be reminded. Just how dangerous were these Wilds anyway?
Sionann slid a hand over Adrian’s, wordlessly trying to reassure him.
“Do you really think it’s necessary?” she asked Chauncy quietly. Chauncy nodded, his eyes apologetic.
“This is completely unfair to you, I know,” Chauncy apologised to her, “and really, we’re sorry, but we need him. We need you, Adrian.”
Adrian sighed, clearly conflicted.
“Give me some time to think about it,” he requested tiredly. “I’m not comfortable doing it, but if this Wild is really as dangerous as you say…”
“Of course,” Chauncy murmured graciously. “The Hunt will happen at dusk, New Moon. If you decide to join us, come to the base an hour prior. Until then,” he respectfully inclined his head, wordlessly indicating he’d be waiting.
Deidre looked like she wanted to protest, but Chauncy merely held up his hand at her.
“We made a deal, Deidre,” he rebuked the fairy. “He’s free to decide for himself.”
Sionann slid a hand onto his thigh, wordlessly comforting him. With a great sigh, he turned to her and wrapped his arms around her.
“Keeper, what a bad time for this to be happening,” he murmured into her neck. “I don’t know what I should do.”
Sionann hummed in agreement, her face troubled.
“Talk to Blaise,” she suggested. “He’ll be able to tell you if they were telling the truth or not. I don’t want you to do this unless absolutely necessary, but if it is the truth and you do decide to join them…” She pulled away, and gave him a small, trusting smile. “I trust you,” she declared. “I trust your skills, your abilities, and your dedication. I know you’ll be fine. I know you’ll come back to me. And Lady Alison’s wards are stronger than any other, and I trust in her as well, so I know I’ll be safe, even if this Wild comes a-knocking.”
Adrian released a shuddering breath and pulled her back into his arms. “Thank you,” he said simply, holding onto her like a drowning man held onto his lifeline.
Lyra gently closed her book and walked away to her room, giving them some privacy. She had intruded long enough, and she needed time to sort out her thoughts. All of a sudden, the present and the future no longer looked quite as secure.
Blaise didn’t return home until late that evening. He’d been out hunting the entire day, and when he came back, he was clearly cold, dirty and absolutely miserable. On his shoulder, his dragon, Ignis, drooped listlessly, clearly just as miserable.
“What a shitty day,” he complained, his always-present scowl marring his brow. Ignis chirped in agreement and launched off Blaise’s shoulder before flying to the couch and promptly curling up to sleep. “I hate mud. And I’m tired of all this fucking rain. Why the –”
“Deidre’s team came to visit, this morning,” Adrian abruptly brought a halt to Blaise’s complaints. Blaise’s scowl immediately intensified, and a dark, dangerous look entered his eyes.
“Is it true?” Adrian demanded. “About a Wild breaching wards.” He crossed his arms across his chest, clearly daring Blaise to lie, or evade the question.
Blaise gave a derisive snort. “’A’ Wild?” he repeated. “Try all of them. I don’t know how they’re managing to do it, but there’s been a series of incidents where the wards have been breached, and it’s not just from one Wild. What do you think I’ve been doing all day? Catching bubbles?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Adrian demanded, ignoring Blaise’s sarcasm. Blaise gave a sigh and tugged on the dragon-wing in his ear.
“Look, what does it matter?” he evaded. “You’re not a part of the Hunt anymore, and Alison’s wards are strong enough to keep you safe. Telling you would’ve only made you feel guilty.”
“Damn right, it would,” Adrian retorted. “I’m not going to sit around doing nothing if it means people are dying out there! If I have the skills to protect them, then I have a right to help! If I knew things were so dire –”
“Let’s discuss this like rational adults, shall we?” she asked calmly. “Adrian, attacking him now isn’t going to change anything. Blaise, explanation, now.”
Blaise sighed with irritation and gave a shrug.
“There’s not much to explain,” he insisted. “Wilds are breaching wards, we don’t know why, we’re on their trail and hunting them. What more do you want? Deidre and them should not have come here.”
“Well, they did, and they told me they need my help,” Adrian retorted. “Keeper Blaise, I deserve to know this! I’ve been involved and a part of the Hunt for far too long to be kept in ignorance like this. If you needed my help, you should’ve told me.”
Blaise’s reply was surprisingly mild.
“You knew, Adrian,” he pointed out. “You’ve always known we’re short on manpower. It doesn’t make a difference. You should be on the mainland. You wouldn’t have been able to help anyway if you were.”
“But I’m not there,” Adrian whispered. “I’m here. And if I can still make a difference, then I will. If you need manpower that much, then fine. I will rejoin the Hunt.”
On the surface, nothing changed, but ever since that argument between Blaise and Adrian, the atmosphere in the house changed, just slightly, becoming much more driven. Blaise still didn’t think Adrian should rejoin the Hunt, but he never said something, and he did everything in his power to make sure Adrian’s skills were still on par and help him get his edge back. He pursued his goals like a madman, and Lyra’s own lessons with him came to a temporary halt as all of Blaise’s spare time was given to helping Adrian.
It was awe-inspiring to watch Blaise and Adrian spar with each other. Lyra had known, in a distant part of her mind, that Adrian was also a fighter, but watching him go head-to-head with Blaise and stay level with him was…breath-taking. Amazing. Fearsome. Lyra had had no idea he was so good. She couldn’t understand why Blaise was so worried about him. With skills like those, it would take something major to bring him down.
Before long, New Moon arrived, and with it, the date of the Hunt. It was the first time a major Hunt happened since Lyra appeared on the island, and she watched their preparations with mild curiosity. It was much, much more meticulous, and there was a terse, predatory feel to their movements.
Sionann was completely silent as she watched them, and Lyra couldn’t help but wonder if she should feel worried as well. Perhaps the Hunt was a much bigger deal than she originally thought it was?
Ignis gave a cheerful chirp as he hopped to his feet, looking expectantly at Blaise. As if the sound pulled him out of his thoughts, Blaise straightened and turned to Adrian.
“Right,” Adrian agreed and stood up from his meditative position. He took Sionann into his arms and simply held her, perhaps gaining strength from her presence or perhaps saying good-bye in case the worse happened, Lyra didn’t know. It didn’t help that Blaise – Blaise, who didn’t exactly believe in displays of affection – did the same to her.
“Catch you later,” he promised her softly, and then the two of them were gone, transported by Blaise’s dragon to the base where the Hunt was due to start, leaving Lyra and Sionann to stay behind in the suddenly overwhelmingly empty house.
“Is it always like this?” Lyra asked Sionann, overwhelmed by the barrage of emotions suddenly assaulting her. He couldn’t help but feel like Blaise’s words had been both a good-bye and a promise. She’d never, not once, worried about Blaise and his participation in the Hunt, but now…now she was suddenly terrified she was going to lose him. They still weren’t really dating, but dammit, he was important to her. She didn’t want to lose him.
“Yes,” Sionann confirmed, and there were tears in her eyes. “The Hunt, especially the New Moon Hunt, when everyone’s magic is at its lowest, is very dangerous, and there’s no knowing what’ll happen. The Wilds are driven to frenzy, making them more dangerous, more reckless, and sometimes skill is not enough to defeat them.” She wrapped her arms around her. “It’s a tense time for those waiting, but there’s nothing more we can do but trust in our loved ones’ skills and pray that they’ll be lucky enough to return to us. I trust Adrian, and I trust Blaise. They’ll come back to us. They will.”
She dabbed at the tears in her eyes and turned to Lyra, making a conscious effort to smile at her. “So let’s not worry about them further. It’ll be several hours before they come back, so let’s make the most of it, right?”
It was one of the longest nights Lyra ever remembered experiencing. It reminded her far too much of that night, where she had been unable to do anything but wait helplessly, waiting for news that her brother was safe, that her dad was going to be okay, and that helpless despair at finding out that nothing was okay. She had promised herself that night that she’d never be so helpless again, but here she was again. Waiting. Helpless to do anything but wait.
Helpless to help when she needed to the most.
Adrian had died during the Hunt.
She still had no idea exactly what happened, what caused it, but when Sionann collapsed just after midnight, her face stricken and her wings turning pitch-black, Lyra had instinctively known. Adrian was gone. He was never going to come back. When Blaise returned in the early morning hours, his face had all but confirmed her fears, but by then she was already numb. She had her own bad news to deliver.
The stress had caused Sionann to go into labour, prematurely, a long, difficult labour, and coupled with the fact that her pregnancy hadn’t been the smoothest ride, it had been too much for the fairy. Alison had arrived just after the contractions had started, alerted in some supernatural way Lyra had no idea of knowing, but despite her best efforts, they hadn’t been able to save Sionann.
She had never even been able to hold her the son she’d been looking forward to for so long. Little Reagan was born strong and completely healthy, and Lyra wanted to resent the child for causing his mother’s death, but she couldn’t. He was just as much a victim as any of them. Both Blaise and she had lost their best friends in one night, and Reagan had lost his parents, before ever getting the chance to know them. It just wasn’t fair.
But life never was fair, was it? She’d learned that a long time ago. Death was indiscriminate. It didn’t care if someone was good, or evil. It didn’t care if it took people who would’ve been the perfect parents, and left their helpless child to be raised by two bumbling idiots who had no desire nor knowledge of how to raise a child.
“Blaise,” Alison looked at her son standing by the sliding door, broodily staring out over the backyard. His shoulders were tense, and Lyra didn’t even have to know him as well as she did to see how much he was hurting from the deaths of his friends.
“Don’t,” he interrupted Alison before she could say anything else, his voice thick and gruff. “Just don’t. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t need you to act like you actually care about me. Not now. Not today.”
Alison looked like she wanted to protest, but she didn’t. Instead she just sighed resignedly and looked over at Lyra, who was quietly sitting with Reagan, numbly watching the scene in front of her.
“There is still the matter of the child,” she mentioned gently. “He can’t stay here. I hate to do this while the loss-”
“Don’t bother,” Blaise interrupted her again, still refusing to look at her. “I know my duty. Adrian asked me to look after him, and I will bloody well do so.” In a softer voice, he continued. “It’s my duty as his godfather.”
Blaise swept a tired hand across his face. Lyra wordlessly watched them, wondering what it’ll mean for her. If Blaise left for the mainland, would she be allowed to go with him? Or would she be forced to stay on the island until the next Full Moon, before moving on to who-knows-where? She’d almost forgotten that Alison had told her she’ll have to move to a different world next Full Moon. She didn’t want to. This world was where she wanted to stay. This was where she felt like she belonged, much more than she had ever belonged in Sunset Valley. This was home. With Blaise, and now little Reagan.
“As much as I loathe to, yes,” Blaise agreed tiredly. “My promise to Adrian takes precedence. I don’t want to give up the Hunt, but Reagan is more important. I will not fail the last promise I made to my brother in all but blood.”
Alison stood up, clearly satisfied with his answer.
“Then I’ve heard enough,” she decided. “Go to your sister, in Moonlight Falls. She’ll help you get set up. You understand things are different there, and you’ll have to work for a living, right?”
Blaise had a sister? Lyra hadn’t known that. But then, what did she know about him? He was remarkably tight-lipped about his personal life. Still, she was the last person to talk. She had never told him anything about her family either.
Blaise immediately scowled at the reminder. “I’m not an idiot,” he snarled at her. “Of course I know that. I might never have lived there, but I do know that, at least.”
Alison defensively held up her hand. “Peace, son,” she begged mildly. “I just wanted to make sure you’re prepared, that’s all.”
Blaise’s scowl intensified with irritation. “And I told you, stop acting like you give a damn. You never did, and I sure as hell don’t need to deal with your hypocritical shit today. So please, if you’ll just fucking leave now so I can get on with my life, I’d really appreciate that. We’ll be gone, first thing tomorrow.”
Alison sighed, her eyes sad. “I’ll never be able to convince you that I do care, will I?” she murmured softly.
Alison sighed, her eyes sad. “I’ll never be able to convince you that I do care, will I?” she murmured softly.
Blaise didn’t bother to grace her with an answer. He turned his back on her, clearly indicating he was done talking to her.
“We’ll need to discuss your new living arrangements,” Alison informed Lyra, not un-kindly. Lyra fisted her hand, instantly understanding the implications, but before she responded, Blaise interrupted.
“She’ll be coming with me.”
Alison frowned at the interruption. “I’m not sure that’s –”
“There’s no way I’ll be able to take care of Reagan on my own,” Blaise declared crossly. “She’s coming with me, end of story. I trust her.”
“That’s not for you to decide-”
The words rang hollowly in the silence that followed, and Lyra couldn’t stop the scowl on her face. She was sick and tired of always being unable to make her own decisions, and she was sick of being restricted by so many rules and orders. This was her damn life, and surely she deserved being able to make her own choices. She was done living like a prisoner.
“Did anyone bother to think what I wanted?” she asked cuttingly. “Am I not allowed to make my own decisions? And can you please stop talking about me like I’m not in the room?”
For a long, tense moment, Lyra thought nobody would respond to her, but then Blaise turned around and looked her squarely in the eye.
“Do you want to come with me?” he asked brusquely. Lyra didn’t even have to think about the answer.
“Then you’ll come with me.”
Alison looked like she wanted to protest, but after a second she sighed and admitted defeat.
“Are you sure about this, son?” she asked earnestly.
“Let’s all hope it never comes to that,” Alison muttered, but thankfully dropped the subject. “Very well, Blaise. I will trust you. I will allow her passage through the Barrier.” She gave a nod of both agreement and farewell. “Now, if you’ll excuse me…”
She clicked her fingers, and with a flash of light she disappeared, a method of travelling Adrian had assured Lyra long ago only the dragons and Alison could do.
“Mind telling me exactly what that was about?” Lyra asked bitingly as soon as the light disappeared. She wanted to cross her arms defensively, but with Reagan sleeping soundly in her arms, she didn’t want to bother him, so she contented herself with giving Blaise a glare.
He simply shrugged, completely unaffected by her glare.
“Our rules dictate that a newcomer must be vetted and tested for a minimum of one cycle before being allowed into the mainland,” Blaise explained unconcernedly.
Suddenly, it all made sense. Lyra had wondered why she had to stay on this violence-ridden island for so long if she had no desire to fight herself. They had been watching her, observing her; trying to decide whether she was a threat or not. She hadn’t been given a place in Sionann’s house from the goodness of her heart – she’d simply been placed under observation, from the start.
Was everything she experienced in this house a lie? Had Sionann and Adrian actually cared about her, or had they simply been doing their duty? Was her relationship with Blaise real, or was it just a sham, after all? Why then, did they bother making her feel like she belonged?
Plumbob, she felt betrayed.
“You mean this was never real,” she accused him bitterly. “Sionann, Adrian, you, none of it. You were just doing your duty.”
“If it was just a case of us doing our duty, you would never have been allowed to hold that child,” Blaise retorted, nodding towards the baby still sleeping contentedly in her arms. “I certainly wouldn’t have asked you to come with me to the mainland, either.” He sighed and turned his gaze back over the backyard. “It might’ve been duty at the start, but nothing was a lie. You won our trust, simple as that.”
“And I’m just supposed to believe that,” Lyra retorted bitterly. He turned back to her, a slightly irritated scowl on his face.
Lyra didn’t know what she was expected to believe. They had lied to her for all this time, and yet…none of the experiences felt like lies. There had always been a warmth in Adrian’s eyes and attitude that couldn’t be faked, and Sionann…Sionann, especially, had made her feel like family. She didn’t know if she could accept those memories as fake.
He sighed tiredly and held his head like he had a headache. He looked absolutely exhausted, and way more vulnerable than she had seen him before. He was always so strong and stubborn, and Lyra had spent enough time with him to know that he wouldn’t, wouldn’t, allow himself to lower his guard so much if he didn’t trust her.
So, did that mean she trusted him enough to believe him? She didn’t know, but she wanted to believe him. She wanted to trust him. He always went on about ‘trusting her instincts’, and right now her instincts were telling her that it was not a lie, that he was telling the truth; that it would be okay to trust him.
“Alright,” she allowed. “I’ll trust you. Just please, don’t lie to me again. Not about something this important.”
He snorted in amusement, but he still looked sideways and gave her that tiny smile she’d started to fall in love with.
“I never lied to you in the first place,” he declared. “Might’ve omitted the truth, but never lied.” She frowned slightly, not impressed at all by that answer, but his eyes softened a bit, and Lyra felt her scowl fade away. He looked so damn tired. She almost wanted him to go back to his normal gruff, brusque self. She’d seen signs of his calm and quiet personality before, in their training sessions, but right now, she wanted his normal self back. She didn’t like seeing him so tired.
“But fine,” he agreed, bringing her back to the topic at hand. “I won’t do it again.”
She nodded, gratefully accepting the promise. She’d hold him to that, in their new lives on the mainland. For however long she stayed with him.
A/N: I blame Lyra and her ridiculously complex roll for this one. Family structure roll reveal: not Full House. It’s Mixed Couple. I needed a reason for Lyra to adopt a child that would make sense for her character, and this is the only one I could think of. I will also do a Child reveal, since that plays into why Lyra turned out like she did: 2 kids. She’s fated to have only one child herself. So full roll reveal:
Runs in the Family
Runs in the Family
…How could Lyra turn out anyway else?
With Reagan's birth, I’ve rolled for the next generation, and that roll is going to be another fun one to figure out. *bangs head* And I thought Evelyn and Chantia’s rolls were bad. Still, that’s what’s making this challenge fun and interesting. XD