Do people know what it means to manipulate time–to forward and rewind and bring to a standstill? The Arromanovokzjas can stop time. It’s their royal bloodline power. Yet, the Arromanovokzjas are vampires and while vampires do exist, their particular power is very difficult to master, let alone chance upon.
I can stop time. I’m no vampire princess, but I have enough power even to freeze dying gods. My name is Maeve, and I’m a natural at magic. You can say that I was born this way. I was born to rule the realm of the invisible. I am human, much like you, but my story is different and my path is much different. This is but just one small snippet of an even larger tale yet to be told. A tale that no one will believe to be true.
She awaits my arrival, the faerie queen. I am late, as I have been avoiding this moment, but she waits still pass the fleeting days. Days in my world is much shorter in the sense of time than days in Arcadia, land of the faes. She looks regal in her wintery gown with a stern face though the corners of her lips are pulled upwards a wee bit. Have I met her before? I’m unsure. She sits on the throne of the ArchDuke. I don’t know where he is. Where is the old man?
(It is 2am. I will have to continue this tomorrow.)
“I hear you’ve been working for the ArchDuke,” she says.
I nod. “I have,” I reply. “I am no longer employed by him. My service terms are completed.”
“Then why are you here?”
That’s a good question. Why am I there? My servitude to the ArchDuke had been finished in May. By all intensive purposes, I am no longer a vassal to the ArchDuke and therefore, no longer valid in the kingdom of Arcadia. The fact that I have a free pass to enter the kingdom at will, which is given to me by my former employer, didn’t negate the severity of breaking fae rules–one of which says that humans aren’t allowed in the realm of the faes.
I actually had no intentions to return to Arcadia, but on passing glance, I saw the queen and I knew she was waiting for me to return. She visits the old man none, but on my last day, she was there. And seeing me leave upon her arrival, I figured it is only a matter of time before the curiosity in her mind made her question who I am and what I was doing there.
My tenses are all confused.
“I am looking for the ArchDuke,” I say. “Is he around?”
She shakes her fragile head which looks as if it would snap upon her thin neck if she moves it a bit faster.
I give her a slight bow. “I am sorry to trouble you then. I shall take my leave now, my queen.” Such words belongs only in movies and epic tales of queens and kings and dynasties. I back away slightly, keeping my head down. Perhaps she isn’t going to ask further questions.
“Wait,” she says, standing up from the throne. I glance up at her. “I know about every creature who enters and leaves Arcadia, but I don’t know about you,” she says to me. “I wouldn’t have known if I wasn’t informed of something happening in this household.”
So she has spies everywhere. It figures. However, isn’t the ArchDuke part of her allegiance? Why did she say she didn’t know who I was or why I was there? Did he not tell her?
“Who are you?” she asks, walking down a few steps to take a closer look at me. “Why are you here? How long have you been here?”
Such questions! I couldn’t believe I was speaking the the faery queen and she wants to know about me! I’m sure her wanting to know about me is more so she can deduce whether I’m a threat or not, but this is still royalty in some way and it’s astounding to be in front of such a powerful ruler.
I give her my biggest smile. “I’m the ArchDuke’s granddaughter,” I say as enthusiastically as possible. “I came to visit my grandfather. He is getting old and I wanted to know him before…you know. I wanted to see him before he passes.”
“The ArchDuke has no granddaughter,” the queen replies. She hasn’t given me a name, so I’m not asking for one.
“Of course he does,” I tell her. “I’m his granddaughter by marriage.”
She looks at me and pauses for a bit, probably weighing my words to see what truth there is in that. Faeries are very cunning, but they aren’t truth detection machines. I definitely tell no truths when dealing with them. It’s better to not have them know anything about you.
“And who are you married to?” she asks.
Now here is a lie I didn’t know how to tell. I can name two people, but I also didn’t want anything to happen to those two people. If I made up a name, she might catch the lie. With faes, it is worse to catch a lie than to realize later that they are lied to.
Possible scenarios enters my head and plagues me of possible outcomes to my lies. It is wrong to involve anyone else, and worse to not answer the queen. Will I pin the blame on some poor misfortune chap? Perhaps.
“I am married to my grandfather’s son’s cousin’s brother’s son who was twice removed from the family.” I watch as her head takes in the confusing words. There is a purpose to the confusion. It is to confuse her.
She stares at me for a moment, pondering. I see Xyr, more powerful than the queen, standing behind her weaving some kind of spell like Harry Potter’s in the last installment movie where Hermione and Ron tries to break into the Gringott Vault pretending to be Bellatrix LeStrange and her sidekick.
The queen curls the corners of her lips upwards. “You love your grandfather?”
“Yes,” I reply. And then I see it. I see why the old man is missing and why the queen was here waiting for me. I see what happened after I left. She imprisoned him. The ArchDuke, the second most powerful in all the lands of Arcadia, rivaling the two queens. How she imprisoned him, I have no idea. I only know that it had something to do with me and that I am going to actually have to hunt faeries now. “I love my grandfather very much,” I complete the sentence.
“What will you do if you know where your grandfather is now?” she asks. I already knew where he was. Xyr shakes his head at me as if to tell me not to reply to the trick question. Of course she knew where he was because she’s the queen. She just didn’t know how I got into Arcadia or how long I stayed and how I remained invisible under her nose for so long. When I get the ArchDuke back, I’ll tell him to rid himself of her spies.
I don’t think breaking and entering into a dungeon highly guarded by magic would suffice at freeing him. And what will I do once I get there? The old man is useless at that rate if he was captured by her. Answering the queen’s question is only probably going to get me a reply I don’t want to hear. I smile politely instead.
“Aren’t you curious?” she asks, coming forward towards me.
“Step back,” Angelus whispers in my ear. I step back. I am almost reminded of other times when Angelus had to tell me what to do concerning magical creatures because I was so inexperienced. Even now, I am pretty much still inexperienced. But stepping back means that I shouldn’t let her touch me and if her power was in touch, then I am safe at a distance as long as I keep my distance.
“I’m sure grandfather will return sooner or later,” I say with a happy smile. It’s always easier to fake things with happiness and excitement. No one ever fakes anything being all grumpy and moody. I wonder why that is? But I have no time to think as I move back again as many times as she moves forward. She is shorter than me about a foot and very small and dainty like a child–or a Disney character. At the moment, I wonder if being made of iron would be of great help since in Maleficent, iron hurts faeries.
“What is your name?” she says, stopping for now and not moving forward. Thank goodness the room was huge and we have plenty of space to move around in.
“Not your real name,” Angelus whispers.
Or not any name I call myself, I think. “Maybelline,” I say. I could smack myself on the head for taking the name of a famous cosmetic brand. Couldn’t I have come up with a better name? A more human sounding name? But Maybelline fits so I keep it and try not to let my thoughts get so loud that they have a voice.
Xyr turns to leave and I wonder where he’s going. He walks to the back of the room, away from us, and passes through the door where the faery queen entered that one day a while back when I was here. Perhaps the ArchDuke isn’t as far as I thought him to be. Maybe he is here, in this castle.
“Maybelline,” she says, tilting her head slightly to the side. “It sounds almost like a name from here.”
I agree to an extent. If I took out “line” at the end of that name, it would be indeed a fae name. The names that popped into my head at the time were all faery names. Mayfel. Adellel. Crysel. Thrumiel. Faery names always ended in -el. I once thought faeries were perhaps angels of God, for isn’t it said that the names of angels ended in -el? Michael. Gabriel. Raphael. Uriel. Castiel. That last name is from the hit tv show, Supernatural. It sounds angelic. But faeries, although they do have wings, aren’t angels in the least bit. Maybe they are fallen angels.
“Well, my parents were very forward thinking in terms of naming their children. My older brother is named Raphael and my sister, Angelinnese.” I made those names up on the spot. And I didn’t have only one brother and one sister. But I’m not giving out any real information.
“Maybelline,” the faery queen calls me. “How is it that you are here? Arcadia is restricted access for humans.”
Could I pretend to be half-faery? That can explain the bizzare name and me being able to travel to Arcadia, but I’m certain the queen would want to know the names of my parents and any fake name I give would’ve been a disaster. What’s worse is to give her the name of an opposing fae, one from the other queen’s domain. How can I lie properly with Xyr finding out where the ArchDuke is?
I believe it’s time for me to leave now, I tell Angelus. And in an instant, I stop time.
Stopping time in Arcadia is different from stopping time anywhere else. I didn’t know if it’s because Arcadia had a longer string of time or if there was too much magic here, but stopping time here was more like bending it in half and squishing it together.
Everything pauses. The queen is still, like a statue and although I want to touch her, logic dictates that if her powers are in touching others, me touching her would essentially be the same. I shouldn’t touch her and I don’t.
“This is better,” I tell Angelus.
“Your magic won’t hold up well here,” he says to me. “We’ve got a little while. You should look for him,” he says referring to the ArchDuke.
I nod. “You’re right. I should look for him. Where did Xyr go?” It’s a stupid question. “Of course he went to go look for him.” I shake my head at my own inability to catch on quickly and I glance at the queen once more before we headed in the direction that Xyr had disappeared to.
There’s a room beyond the door and a hall and being in a gilded castle didn’t give me an excuse to stop and look at all the ornate designs and gold and gilded things. We run past the hall and many doors. I didn’t know where the doors led to and I didn’t know where I’m going, but I’m hoping Angelus has a better sense of direction than I did. Yet, as I pass one f the doors on the left, I suddenly stop and stare at the door. It looks exactly like all the rest of the doors. Nothing’s special about it. But I stopped running and that must mean that there’s something in there worth looking at or finding out about.
I glance over to Angelus. “It’s s trick, an illusion. There is no dungeon.”
He looks confused and I open the door. Inside was an empty room, a bedroom and I found myself thinking about Sleeping Beauty. The ArchDuke wasn’t a teenage girl, but there’s Xyr and on the bed is him. Yet, with the flicker of something like two pictures overlapping, the scene is gone and in its place is once more the empty bedroom.
“You think something’s here?” Angelus asks me.
“He’s here,” I say. “The old man and Xyr. Can’t you see them?”
He peers for a while and shakes his head. “It’s empty,” he says.
I walk in and he follows me. “Back in the Otherworld, this one time when I was forbidden to go there, I would enter into a place much like this. It looked real and all the characters looked real, but they were fake. It was a fake world because the real one, I couldn’t get to. And in that fake world, a fake Demonico told me I should leave. It wasn’t until I saw what he meant that I finally left. And when I saw the truth, it was like this, like two worlds overlapping each other, one hiding the other.” I turn and look at him. “Are those from the Otherworld faes too? There were demons and many different creatures. I would’ve been stuck in that world if he had not told me. And he suffered for telling me.”
I think back to that time, a time when I couldn’t enter the Otherworld because of my bitterness and the destruction I potentially could cause. So a new world was created for me. Was it faery magic? But this and that then is very similar. If not for that time, I might’ve thought I was losing my mind. My way isn’t lost.
“How did I break out of that world?” I ask myself. Angelus wouldn’t remember. He’s new and the old one I had back then was killed by a vampire, one I thoroughly enjoyed going after to kill. But how did I break out of that world? It’s easier than breaking out of this one since I have both Angelus and Xyr with me here.
“Let’s pierce the veil,” I say. Maybe it made sense why stopping time here was actually bending time in half and squishing it. Things I don’t yet comprehend.
I stand over the bed, next to a non-existent Xyr–which just occurred to me that if he was able to get to the old man, then so should I. “Come, Angelus,” I say to my Guardian. “Let’s not let the new guy make us look bad.” I laugh and he only gave me a frown. It was a direct challenge to us and knowing Angelus, he didn’t like confrontations much. I spread my hand over the place where the ArchDuke lay in a sleep-like death and I pierce the veil.
Except, the veil isn’t pierced. It’s like trying to move my hand through a bucket of thick and gooey molasses without the stickiness. It didn’t work. Frustrated, I waved my hand and the real scene appeared. Angelus glances at me.
“How did you do that?” he asks.
“I shoved it somewhere else,” I replied. I didn’t think of doing it before. It just happened. But it worked and that’s what matters.
Xyr looks over to me and I to him. ‘”You’re here,” he says.
I laugh. “Yes, I’m here. You all sound so surprised.”
“Strong magic is hard to get through,” he tells me. I nod.
“I know. I simply cast it aside. No point in getting through when the real world lies beneath.” I didn’t know if that makes sense, but right now, my priority’s waking up Sleeping Beauty here. “Any ideas?” I ask them both. I think of asking the queen and then I realize she wasn’t here. She left with the fake world, perhaps a world she created.
“It’s a spell,” Angelus says. “Faery magic.”
I smile, thinking about true love’s kiss. I didn’t love the ArchDuke. Love’s a concept beyond me. Besides, fairy tales only belonged to Disney and not here, even if faeries exists here.
“We can’t leave him sleeping forever,” I say to them. I’m not going to try and kiss the old man. The thought’s funny and I smile to myself. “Ideas, fellas. We’ve not really much time although now, Arcadia should be as if Medusa herself had strolled in here and turned all to stone.”
“Wake him,” Xyr says to me. I glance over to him. And he’s supposed to be the most powerful of us all. Yet, faerie magic is different from his magic and I see the complications in trying to expel one withe the other.
“I have an idea,” I say. “Might be stupid and troublesome, but when I’m out of ideas, this is what I do.” Angelus turns to me and he raises an eyebrow. Knowing me well enough, he’s definitely not going to be surprised.
“What do you suggest?” Xyr asks.
“An expert,” I reply with a grin. “Demonico.” A second later, he stands behind Xyr to my right and gives me a confused look. “Hello old friend,” I say with a smile. He looks at the other two and the old man sleeping on the bed and then back to me. It helps that he can travel between worlds. That’s what makes things so much easier.
“You called me?” he says, using my real name. I nod. “I can take guesses, but it would be nice for you to tell me what you need.”
I point to the ArchDuke. “Faery magic,” I said. “I need you to remove the spell. I don’t know how to do it.”
He scoffs. “What makes you think I know how to do that?”
I walk over and push him towards the bed. “Because you can do anything,” I say. And it’s true. He can do anything. He turns to me.
“I’m not sure this is my area of specialty,” he says. “Did you try anything yet?” I shake my head.
“You’re my try,” I tell him. He laughs. “When I run out of ideas, I come to you.”
He smiles at the other two and then at me. “You flatter me,” he says, using my real name.
“Come on,” I say, pushing him towards the old man. “Do something or help me do something to wake him up.”
Xyr glances over to me. “You trust him?” he asks me. “He’s a –” The word is blocked from me. I glance from Demonico back to Xyr.
“I’ve known him for an eternity,” I say. “I trust no one, but he’s the best thing I’ve got.” Xyr doesn’t look convinced and I touch his arm. “It’s fine,” I tell him. “I can handle that one if he gets out of line.”
Demonico laughs and I stick my tongue out at him. “You wish,” he says.
“I’ve already done it,” I tell him. He smiles and turns his attention to the old man. Angelus walks over to me and Xyr. We give Demonico room. He gets pretty into whatever he’s doing and sometimes, it causes trouble.
I’m standing there, assessing the options, just thinking about what could be done so we can wake the ArchDuke from his slumber. Demonico touches him and all the green flames reminds me of Maleficent and how she cursed the princess. Yet, I wouldn’t have touched the old man, not because there’s something wrong with him, but because there’s faery magic on him. How did Demonico…? Then I remembered how he fell into the lake and was the only one ever to walk out of there alive. The lady of the lake is fae and all who fell in or tried to reach the tree in the center of the lake was consumed by her, all except him. Is Demonico fae? No. Then what is he?
As I’m pondering thoughts, the ArchDuke wakes and Demonico turns to me with a smile. “There,” he says as he walks towards me and away from the bed. “You owe me one.”
I laugh. “Yeah, right. There’s no owing in this friendship,” I tell him. I kiss him on the cheek. “Thanks. Take care.”
“You too,” he says, patting me on the head. And he disappears.
The ArchDuke glances to see me and Xyr. Angelus isn’t visible. Rather, he leaves too. “You’re here?” the old man asks. “You shouldn’t be here.”
I laugh. “That’s not the first time you’ve said that to me,” I tell him. The first was when he caught me wandering in Arcadia, close to the Iron Tower. It was indeed by accident. “I came to see you and I met the queen.”
He frowns. “Did she hurt you?”
I shake my head. “I’m well,” I say. “She’s probably wondering where she’s at right now, even though she can’t yet move.”
He looks confused. “She can’t…move?”
“It’s a long story,” I say with a smile. “Are you okay now? Xyr and I were worried. He came too.”
The old man looks up and I realize that Xyr is also gone. Everyone leaves suddenly without goodbyes. “It’s okay now,” he says. “How come you’re here?”
“By chance,” I reply. “I happened to glance in and I saw the queen. I didn’t see you, but I knew she was waiting for me.”
“You shouldn’t come. It’s dangerous now.”
“It’s okay,” I say. “I’m okay. I’ll be fine,” I tell him.
He sat up and took my hands in his. “Things are falling apart here,” he tells me. “I don’t want you to come back. Arcadia’s about to be at war. It’s not safe.”
I laugh. “You know I’m not human here, right? I’m more worried about you. What will happen when she finds her way back?”
“I hope so,” he says. “We will lose without her.”
“I’ll bring her back,” I say. “After I leave here.”
“Why did you come?” he asks again for the third time. I look at him oddly.
“To see you,” I reply.
He smiles. “You shouldn’t be here,” he tells me. And I feel like we’re repeating a conversation that’s already been said.
“I know. I won’t.”
I nod my head. “Yes, I promise,” I say. Promises are oral contracts to faes. The ArchDuke isn’t fae.
“It will not be safe here,” he says. “You go live your life and be happy. I’ll make sure the war doesn’t spill over to your side.”
“On earth?” I ask. “War will be waged here too?”
He nods. “Only if I fail to contain it to Arcadia. It’s not fail-proof, but it should be enough.”
“You know I can help,” I say.
“You can live,” he tells me. “That is help enough.” He stands and I don’t understand. “You must go,” he tells me.
“What about you?” I ask. “What if the queen does the same thing to you again?”
He smiles. It’s been a while since he smiled. “She won’t. She needs me. I give her the advantage.”
“Be safe,” I tell him.
“You worry too much about an old man,” he says. “You are young. You still have your whole life ahead of you.”
“And there’s not anything to it,” I tell him. “If I can help, why won’t you let me help?”
“You have a destiny.”
I laugh, unbelieving. “We make our own destinies,” I tell him. “I don’t have a future that’s that important there and besides, I don’t get hurt here. I can be of use here.”
He bends down and presses his lips to my forehead. “You’re needed there,” he says. “You will know. Don’t give up.”
I almost grumble. I know what he’s saying, but I don’t really care to trust it or believe it. I am weak. I am second best. I am whatever other people want to push their opinions on me. He stares and I give him a smile.
“I understand,” I say. “Whether the future comes or not, you know that I will help you if you need me.”
He smiles. “An old man does not need the help of a young one,” he says. “Go now,” he says.
I nod my head and hug him. “See you then, old man,” I say with a smile.
“Goodbye,” he says. I didn’t say goodbye. I smile and leave.
The others were waiting for me. “You okay?” Xyr asks. Who knew he even concerns himself with me. I nod. “Fine,” I say. “For the moment, Arcadia is off limits to us. There may be war coming. It’s okay. We’ll be here and we’ll be safe.”
“Are you okay?” Angelus asks.
I nod my head. “Everyone wants this future for me that I don’t even want because neither does the others want,” I say. “It’s ridiculous dreaming and I’m not about to hold out for something I know isn’t true and isn’t going to come true.”
“You have us,” Shaar says. I grin and hug him. He’s so fluffy!
“Yes, I have you all.” I glance up at Angelus, the one who refuses to leave me be. I turn to Xyr, the one who tricked me into taking him on as one of us. And Shaar, my beautiful blue wolf that I ripped out of Jon. His twin wasn’t even blue. Why is he the anomaly? “It’s good to be home,” I say, realizing that dangers lurked around corners of worlds invisible. If they reach here, which they won’t because the old man will keep his promise, I will deal with them then.
I bring the faerie queen back from where I stuck her and release the time hold on Arcadia. Then I shut that world out until the time when it calls out to me. I made a promise. I’ll keep that promise.