Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Five Hundred and Eighty-four : What was that?


Tuesday morning — 1:05 p.m. MT

Denver, Colorado

“Who do you think it was?” Jill asked.

Sandy was drinking a chocolate shake from a straw so she couldn’t answer. Delphie came into the room carrying a tray with Sandy’s actual lunch of soup, soft bread, some chicken, and strawberries. Feeling like they were caught, Jill and Sandy turned to look at Delphie. Sandy kept drinking in case Delphie took the chocolate shake away from her.

“Don’t worry about me,” Delphie said. “If you don’t want this stuff, Jill and I will eat it.”

Laughing, Sandy coughed and stopped drinking.

“Whoa,” Jill said.

Jill took the shake from Sandy’s hand and set it on the table. She held out some water for Sandy but Sandy shook her head. After a moment, she accepted the water.

“Swallowed wrong,” Sandy said.

Jill took back the water.

“Don’t take my milkshake,” Sandy croaked.

Jill and Delphie laughed.

“I heard that you saw something,” Delphie said.

“How …?” Sandy looked at Jill and she shook her head.

“Maresol. She came in to check on you and … well.” Delphie nodded. “Why don’t you tell me what happened?”

Sandy nodded to Jill.

“She’s been upset but she doesn’t like to be upset around other people,” Jill said.

“Too hard,” Sandy’s voice came as a slur of words.

“Oh, it’s going to be okay. Don’t be upset,” Delphie said with a nod. “You mean like that?”

“Sure,” Jill said. “But for Sandy, so many people are invested in her being ‘strong,’ you know? She has to hide being sad.”

“Nash,” Sandy slurred through her wired jaw. “Teddy.”

“She doesn’t want the boys to feel worse than they already do,” Jill said.

Sandy nodded.

“She convinced Aden to leave so that she had some time to herself when things were quiet,” Jill said. “Then she let her feelings out.”

“I’ve done the very same thing,” Delphie said.

Sandy’s eyes flicked to Delphie. The Oracle gave Sandy a confirming nod.

“Well, then you know how it is,” Jill said.

“I do,” Delphie said. “So you were upset and …”

“Crying,” Sandy’s voice slurred. Her hands touched her face. “Upset. All came forward. From … before.”

“When we were kids,” Jill said. “Before she was adopted by Mitch.”

Delphie nodded.

“Mixed together,” Sandy said.

Her eyes flicked to Jill, and Jill nodded.

“You know how it is,” Jill said, “you start to feel something and then all of the sudden you’re feeling everything. You’re not an adult any more but a child and …”

Jill nodded which Delphie mimicked.

“I understand,” Delphie said. “That’s happened to me.”

Sandy was so relieved that Delphie understood that she lay back on the bed. For a moment, they were silent.

“What happened then?” Delphie asked.

Sandy nodded to Jill.

“There was a bright light,” Jill said. “She heard her Mom’s voice. Um, her real mom.”

“Andy,” Delphie said.

“Didn’t know I …” Sandy pointed to her ear.

“Sure,” Delphie said. “Her voice would be imprinted deep in your brain. What did Andy say?”

“Not alone,” Sandy said. She touched her chest. “Soul tired.”

“That’s the truth,” Delphie said.

“You think that Sandy’s soul is tired,” Jill said.

“Exhausted,” Delphie said. “Don’t you?”

“I don’t know,” Jill said. She put her hand on Sandy’s leg. “She feels … tired, but …”

“She’s had a lot of stuff happen to her in the last few years,” Delphie said. “I know that you have as well. Tanesha, certainly Heather. Well, all of us really.”

Delphie nodded.

“Sandy started in a tired place,” Delphie said. She looked at Sandy. “Overwhelmed easily? Tired? Need time to yourself? Obsessed about certain things? No new relationships?”

Sandy raised her hands with her palms toward Delphie.

“Right, I thought so,” Delphie said. “This has been a lot for us, but for Sandy … I have to agree. Your soul is exhausted.”

The truth hit Sandy like a ton of bricks. She looked at the wall.

“How?” Sandy asked.

“How do you rest your soul?” Delphie asked.

Sandy nodded. Jill closely watched the interaction.

“You’re doing it now,” Delphie said. “Staying here. In this room. Having Maresol care for you. You will have more and more time to yourself, which will help.”

Delphie nodded.

“You’re doing all of the right things,” Delphie said. “Who do you think came?”

Sandy shrugged.

“We thought it might be Tanesha’s grandfather, but it sounded like Andy,” Jill said.

“Could have been,” Delphie said. “I’ve never known of anyone who’s seen him in energetic form that didn’t have their eyes burned out. He’s the archangel of light. In his energetic form, he is blinding to all beings. I don’t think even Ne Ne has seen him like that. Was the light you saw bright but not too bright?”

Sandy nodded. She touched her nose.

“Yes,” Delphie said. “That’s how Maresol knew that you’d been visited.”

“How?” Jill asked. “What?”

“I am going to tell you something that Seth does not know,” Delphie said. “In fact, no one knows but me and Maresol. I will ask you not to tell him, but I won’t blame you if you do.”

Delphie looked at Jill and she nodded that she understood.

“Sandy?” Delphie asked.

“No promise,” Sandy said. “Sick of secrets.”

“That’s fine with me,” Delphie said. “I am sick of secrets too.”

Delphie waited a moment to see if Sandy had anything else to say. When Sandy didn’t say anything else, Delphie continued.

“Andy used to bring you to see Seth’s mother,” Delphie said.

“What?” Jill asked.

Surprised, Sandy leaned up in her bed.

“They were great friends,” Delphie said. “No one knew about it. Andy convinced the man she lived with that Seth’s mother had been her nanny. When Bernie showed up, he looked into Andy’s situation. As you know, your mother thought that she was protecting you. She did everything in her power to keep you alive. Both Bernie and Seth’s mother tried to intervene. But Andy would hear nothing of it.”

Sandy nodded.

“Seth’s mother loved you so very much,” Delphie said. “I believe that’s who you saw.”

“Why?” Jill asked.

“Seth’s mother wore an old perfume,” Delphie said. “It’s very distinctive. Did you smell it?”

“Something.” Sandy nodded.

“Maresol smelled her perfume when she came in to check on you,” Delphie said. “She called me to tell me that something had happened. That’s why I’m here.”

“What does she want?” Sandy asked. She put her hand on her chest.

“From you?” Delphie asked. “Nothing. I’m sure she was here to lend you strength and help you heal. The question is …”

Delphie stopped talking to look at Sandy.

“Will you accept her help?” Delphie finished her statement.

Sandy looked at Delphie for a long time before nodding.

“Then that’s settled,” Delphie said.

Sandy’s eyes closed and she fell asleep.

“What just happened?” Jill asked.

“Sandy accepted her grandmother’s help,” Delphie said. “She needs real sleep to heal. I’m afraid she hasn’t gotten much of that, maybe ever.”

Delphie nodded to Jill and got up. Jill picked up the chocolate shake cup and shook it to see if was empty. It was.

“Come,” Delphie said. “Maresol has made us lunch.”

“Yum!” Jill said.

Jill gave her friend one last worried look before heading out to the kitchen to help with lunch.


Tuesday morning — 2:35 p.m. MT

Denver, Colorado

“What’s wrong with you now?” Tanesha whispered to Fin.

He gave her a blank look. They were sitting in the middle of a large stadium style classroom where every seat was full. The professor was lecturing.

“You’re totally out of it,” Tanesha said. She touched his arm and found it cool to her touch. “Fin?”

Her brow furrowed. She shook his shoulder, but he didn’t respond. She put her fingers to his neck.

No pulse.

How could he have no pulse and still look so alive? She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. If she didn’t know any better, she would swear that this creature was not her great-grandfather, friend, and fellow classmate, Prince Finegal of the Isle of Man.

He was sitting looking very cool, casually taking notes in his usual “I know everything” way. He hadn’t reacted when she’d touched his neck and he hated having his neck touched.

“Fin!” Tanesha said in a louder whisper.

The girl in front of them turned around at her voice. She gave Tanesha a sticky sweet smile.

“Prince Finegal is not here right now,” the woman said.

Tanesha looked at the woman. Her skin was so white that the lights seemed to gleam off her skin. Her hair was curly and red. She had wide set large eyes. She was not as beautiful as Mari or even Abi, but she had a power radiating off her being. This fairy was from Áthas’s queendom.

“He is in our custody awaiting trial,” the woman said. “He has defied the will of our queendom and will bear the price.”

Tanesha looked around the room. Everything human had stopped moving. She noted two fairies standing at the doorway to the room and another moving toward them on her row. She looked back at the fairy in front of her.

Before Tanesha could react, the woman turned over her hand to show a green glitter like powder. The woman blew on the powder and it sprayed up into Tanesha’s face. Tanesha waved her hand in front of her face. It smelled like some kind of sleeping drought but it had no effect on Tanesha.

“I will say this to you one time and one time only,” Tanesha said. “You are not prepared for the shit you have unleashed by taking Fin. You are certainly not prepared for me.”

The fairy squinted at Tanesha. She looked up and nodded to the woman moving toward Tanesha.

“Take her,” the fairy said.

Tanesha flicked her hand in the direction of the fairy moving in her direction. A fire bolt shot out of her hand and hit the fairy in the chest. She flew back to the aisle where she crumpled into a ball.

“You do not know who you are fucking with,” Tanesha said. “Bring Fin back and go home.”

“This is war, little girl,” the fairy sitting in front of Tanesha said.

“This is a dumb ambush made by second rate fairies,” Tanesha said. “If you’d come to the house and asked for a cookie or a cake, I’d happily have made something for you. But take Fin? Threaten me?”

Tanesha shook her head.

“Do you know who I am?” Tanesha asked.

Tanesha stood up for the first time. Her skin radiated pure light. She pulled a sword of power which Nelson had let her borrow from her backpack. The sword was warm and ready in her hand.

The fairy in front of her yelped as if she’d been stung. The two fairies by the door held their hands on their brow to shade their eyes from Tanesha’s light.

“You can shine on us,” the fairy seated in front of her said. “You can even taunt me with sweet cakes and mouthwatering cookies. But you will never win. We will kill you. We will take over the fairy world.”

“Taunt you with cakes?” Tanesha asked. “That was just an invitation to tea. You could have just come over to talk!”

“I will still kill you,” the fairy said. “And enjoy every moment of it.”

“If you don’t leave now, I will call to me someone who will be delighted to kill all of you,” Tanesha said. “For that matter, he’d be happy to kill your entire fairy queendom for simply threatening me and Fin. He hates fairies as a general policy.”

“And who might you know, human?” the fairy asked with a sneer.

“Perses,” Tanesha said.

The Titan appeared faster than the fairy could gasp. He wore full armor and held his sword in his hand.

“Did I hear you say that I could kill some fairies?” Perses asked with a grin. “Nice sword.”

“Thanks,” Tanesha said, gesturing with the sword. “Nelson gave it to me. He said it has a name but the name has been lost to time.”

“That’s the Feya Ubiysta. The Fairy killer,” Perses said his voice eerily soft. “Leave this woman alone.”

“And bring back Fin,” Tanesha said.

“You took Prince Finegal?” Perses asked.

He leaned toward the fairy seated in front of Tanesha. The fairy gave a little squeal and disappeared. Perses disappeared a moment later.

“Sit down,” the woman that sat behind Tanesha said.

“I can’t see with your ass in my face,” the man seated next to the complaining woman said.

“Sorry,” Tanesha said.

As if he’d been asleep, Fin yawned and stretched.

“What’d I miss?” Fin asked.

Tanesha just shook her head. Stuffing the sword into her backpack, she started taking notes on her tablet computer.


Tuesday morning — 6 p.m. MT

Denver, Colorado

“It’s definitely not called the ‘Fairy Killer,’” Nelson said with a grin.

Blane had called Nelson to check in on how he was doing. They were talking over the Internet via video call on Blane’s phone. Blane was walking across the street to Nelson’s house to show him the work that the construction team had finished that day.

“You sound certain,” Blane said.

“There is a sword called the ‘Fairy Killer,’” Nelson said. “It’s known to be in the dungeon of Queen Fand’s armory.”

“When you say ‘known to be’ you usually mean that’s where people think it is,” Blane said.

Nelson gave Blane a sparkling smile.

“So where is it?” Blane asked.

“Safe,” Nelson said.

Blane shot him a “tell me more” look, and Nelson laughed. Blane pointed at Nelson.

“No secrets!” they said in unison.

They both laughed.

“It’s nice to hear you laugh,” Blane said. He paused for a moment before adding, “You’ve been …”

“Intense?” Nelson asked.

“Pissy,” Blane said. “That’s the word I was avoiding saying.”

Nelson grinned at Blane.

“I’m just happy to talk with you,” Nelson said. “It’s nice. Feels like … I have family, I guess.”

“You do have family!” Blane said. “Come on. I’m here.”

Blane tapped on the door to the two story home in front of Nelson’s small apartment. Tres opened the door.

“Nelson,” Blane said, passing Tres the phone.

“Dude!” Tres said. “Comment se passe ton voyage?”

Tres was learning French, and Nelson was learning Spanish, so they spoke to each other this way.

“Beuno,” Nelson replied that his trip was going well. “Es un case intresante.”

“Bon,” Tres said. He switched to English to say, “You won’t believe how much progress they’ve made. I guess Jake was right when he said that the biggest hold up was us trying to figure out what we wanted.”

“Really?” Nelson asked. “It always seemed like such a wreck.”

“I thought the same thing,” Tres said.

“Where’s Heather?” Nelson asked.

“Olympia,” Tres said.

Nelson swallowed hard. Tres nodded to his reaction.

“The fairy war is heating up,” Tres said. “They tried to kidnap Fin and Tanesha today.”

“What?” Nelson asked. “Blane said something about a sword, but …”

Blane nodded in the background that it was true.

“Tanesha called Perses,” Tres said. “That seemed to work. You still have Mari watching you?”

“I haven’t …” Nelson said.

Mari the fairy appeared in the background.

“She just arrived,” Nelson said.

“The other Queendoms have declared war on Queen Fand’s family,” Tres said. “It’s crazy. We’re all on guard.”

“They only have a chance because Edie and Abi are in Olympia,” Blane said. “They can only get at us in unprotected buildings. They wouldn’t dare come after Jill or any of her family.”

“Any idea why Perses hates fairies so much?” Tres asked.

“Titan Purge,” Nelson said with a nod. “The fairies wanted power over the Titans so they joined forces with the Greek Gods. They went after Perses and his family, in particular. He and Hecate survived by hiding but his wife-sister got caught.”

“The cat,” Tres said.

“She would have died if Hedone hadn’t found her,” Nelson said. “The fairies are terrified of Hedone, as well. No greater power than the power of love and all.”

Tres and Blane gave him a thoughtful nod.

“Let’s show you around,” Blane said. “I have to get the boys and get to dinner.”

“Let’s do it,” Nelson said.

He sat down on the bed, and Mari sat down next to him. They watched Blane and Tres take them through the building. Tres and Blane were excited but to Nelson it seemed like they still had a long way to go.

“Fabulous,” Nelson said. “I’m excited!”

He said his good byes and set the phone on the table.

“You want to talk about it?” Mari asked.

Nelson shook his head.

“It’s just family stuff,” Nelson said.

“Templar stuff,” Mari said.

Nelson nodded.

“You know that I know all about the Templars, right?” Mari asked.

“How?” Nelson asked.

“Mother tried to marry me off to one of your ancestors,” Mari said.

“Of course,” Nelson said with a scowl. “Want to get some dinner?”

“I’d love to,” Mari said.

Nelson held out his elbow and they walked out of the room to the diner next door to the hotel.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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