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Seattle: My Corner of Darkness

Diario Tormento

Tonight I met The Hounds of The Lady. They were on the hunt for the serial killer, which was a monster of darkness. I ran into them right after they had tracked the creature to a dark alley and I assisted them in destroying the creature. There were four Hounds. Although I did not learn their names, it was easy to divine their nature.

Lobo Grande: The obvious leader. His cruel gaze filled me with horror. His terrible presence commanded the others.

Lobo Comandante: With a single word, she took control of my being and pushed my terror to the back of my mind. Her will was for me to assist the victim of the monster. I could not resist her power. I doubt I ever would be able to.

Lobo Guerrero: Action, not words. We stood shoulder to shoulder hacking into the monster. When it died, there was an eruption of flames; Flames which he scarcely noticed. This one fears nothing.

Lobo Loco: She dresses as a child does. She recites odd comments about books. But none of this conceals her lethality when she stands in a dark alley, holding a smoking .45.

When the battle was over, The Hounds instructed me to obey the will of The Lady and to maintain La Mascarada. I agreed to both. Before we parted, they requested an introduction to Stone. I agreed to this also. The meeting will be at Chrome & Leather at 10:00 pm tomorrow. It is a meeting that I dread. And strangely, it is a meeting I also look forward to.

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Wicked as Cyn

“Alive and Well” by Phantom was playing as the sun rose and Cynthia become dead to the world. It was as soothing at it was invigorating to Cynthia. The last two days had been more stressful than she expected. Being presented to the Seattle Court had been much more difficult than being presented to the LA Court. She had at least been to the LA Court in her capacity as the prince’s child’s ghoul. She had been staked when she was first presented to the LA Court. Vaughn’s sins were being brought before the court and Cyn had been one of his greatest sins. His sire was the prince of the LA Court and he had changed her without permission from his ghoul to his child. The Seattle Court had been darker in tone than the LA Court, but she honored her grandsire, her prince, by wearing the crimson of his court. Cynthia had taken as unassuming of a pose as she could while waiting and let the new members of the Seattle Court be present before her.

Come to find out they were fellow hounds and had been assigned the same hunting area as she had been. So, they were kind of like her squad mates had been when she had been a detective. Looking at her new private eye paperwork, she thought back to her police funeral. How she had missed the camaraderie and companionship the force had given her. It hadn’t even disappeared after she’d become Vaughn’s ghoul. She’d actually gotten her shield after becoming a ghoul. The undercover case where Vaughn—her greatest addiction, her husband, the father of her daughter—had come back into her life was what had earned her her shield. She had given her virginity to Vaughn shortly before he’d moved to LA to make a living in music. Her daughter was the result. When Vaughn had come back on “vacation”, they had run away to Vegas to get married. Nothing like the city of sin for her to get married him to wed his “Wicked as Cyn” he had said. She hadn’t ever been able to figure out what he had been jonesing for a hit of when he left her after being there only two months. At least, until she’d become a ghoul herself.

She still couldn’t believe that there was a blood bond between her and her fellow hounds. Ari was a nice enough fellow, but she saw him as a feral dog without a leash. She was blood bound to him. Samuel seemed like a military type and he was blood bound to her. Ari and Camie were blood bound to Samuel. Camie was one of the cursed of her own clan, but she would protect her secret like she always protected her fellow cops’ secrets. Strangely enough, she had been part of a breaking of the masquerade and shaking down a crime lord with Ari and Samuel already. Cyn had covered up fellow cops addictions and such so it would not be out of character to cover up a broach of the masquerade. Vaughn had taught her to trust her instincts and give in to them when they had both been humans. She had followed them all the way to LA when she had been notified of his death. Working undercover and hearing, “You can trust her. Nobody is a wicked as Cyn,” had made her remember all the ghosts and strange things she had seen growing up. She had turned to see Vaughn like a phantom ‘alive and well’ vouching for her.

Cynthia had never figured out why she always dreamed of Vaughn and her life with him as she slept. And why her dreams always related her present to her past, but that is the way of it. She woke up to Dodge’s German shepherd licking her face. One of these days she would have to break the habit, but for some reason the shepherd liked her despite the vampire thing. That made life so much easier for Dodge than it had been for him under his last master. Dodge had been a gift to her from her grandsire, someone to keep her safe during the day in a new territory. Cynthia smiled and stretched awake to meet the new night.

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A New Home

The shadow of a man walked down the poorly lit street of Seattle. Crossing the Darkness of Seattle alone would have been a poor plan just months before, but what did he have to lose at this point he was already dead he thought to himself. He found himself walking aimlessly often during the passing months and with each step he took, he found himself passing the familiar door, only months before he had called home, never stopping only passing by he wondered where his home was now. Frey had told him that he needed to find a place of his own, someplace where the suns rays would not burn his skin. Looking up at the moon, he let the light slide down his face, it just wasn’t the same. Walking further down the street he heard the sound of music filtering out of a nearby building, it looked more like a house than a club but upon approaching the a large man filled the doorway checking Ids. The mortals he new would be dancing and drinking inside, all looking for someone to go home with. The doorman saw him watching and told him to get on his way. Looking down at his tattered clothes he realized it had been many weeks since he had last changed, dark spots stained his shirt, blood he knew. He new he could kill the man before he could say another word, he didn’t know what he was looking for, but it wasn’t a fight. He walked towards a stand of nearby trees that had grown up around the house, the branches heavily weighed down by the foliage above. With smooth grace he slid up the tree and watched more and more enter the club, this may do well he thought to himself. It was not long after that Ari’s instincts proved true, a young man stumbled to the edge of the wood, as he leaned over to wretch the contents of his stomach up Ari dropped lightly to the ground, with practiced precision he sank his teeth into the mans carotid artery, the man succumbed to the Ecstasy, he had no need for more than a few drops but the beast within urged him on, each thump of the mans heart drove the the urge in like a stake. With a sigh , Ari pulled himself away from the man, licking the wound, the man dropped to his knees in a stupor or pleasure and fatigue. Slipping into the woods as silently as he had come Ari thought to himself again a good place. His hand brushed against the rough bark of a tall oak, and then he was gone, he had found his home.

The Steady beat of the music from within the club greeted Ari as stepped out from the tree. The sound reminding him of the same deep throbbing of a mortal heart. The beast ached with the hunger of awakening. Frey had told him he had two choices, control the beast or let it control you. He looked towards the club, it could wait. He began the trek across Georgetown, he needed to speak to Gordon. He had become adept at moving from one shadow to the next, seeing but not being seen. Nostrils flaring slightly the iron rich smell of blood filled the air. The forms of a women and a man were before him, the women appeared to be kissing the mans neck, and the man writhed in pleasure. Hawk like eyes turned from its prey peering into the shadow where Ari stood, the human was lost in the Ecstasy of the moment and took no notice. The hair on Ari’s necked stirred as the beast called for a confrontation. “An unfortunate mistake coming into my territory” Ari growled, “No one has claimed this territory it is an open feeding ground as far as the True Prince is concerned” the female coyly replied. “Do you wish to have a taste”? The female smiled widely revealing her teeth. As she spoke Ari noticed her hand slide to her belt and there was a shine of moon on metal. The beast had been caged long enough. With a cool determination Ari let the Gift of his blood flow, and with unearthly speed he leaped at the women. Surprisingly the women crossed the distance to him in the same instant. Her blade sliced into his worn leather jacket, and for a moment became tangled. Ari’s hands reached for the womens throat, and long black claws quickly met cool white flesh. The women’s eyes went wide, her hands fumbled for the blade, and then she hung limp in his arms. “Your second mistake was drawing steel against me”, turning Ari noticed that the man was huddled Against the wall, a trail of urine ran down his leg and to the pavement. Stepping up to the man and with a practiced skill Ari punched the man straight in the face, the man fell limp against the wall. Ari’s Hunger continued to draw on realizing he still had not broke his fast, he had matters to discuss with Gordon yet, the hunger would have to wait. Looking down at the two limp forms he new what he would say to him.

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Mind in the Hedge

Dani shook her head. She needed to get her head in the park not the Hedge. Crossing the Hedge had been different this time than last, but it was still the Hedge. Even the darkened edge of the land of the Fae had felt peaceful to her. Okay, so she apparently still clung a touch to the comfort of not fearing death, but she wasn’t seeking it. At least, Trucker had survived the duel that caused the shoe not to fall on her head. Her countering fae magic was sure to come back to haunt her though, but it was the best way she could think of to protect everyone.

So, she was supposed to be practicing trying to catch others thoughts. There a brief glimpse of maternal love and it was gone. Madam Deja’s favor came rushing to the forefront of her mind. How could her cabal rescue the Madam’s “Son” from the New Prince? Dani sighed; she had to learn how to protect the magic she was learning from being overwhelmed by her own issues. She didn’t want to affect anyone’s mind. Ingrid was teaching her to protect others from being influenced. Dani grounded and centered her chi and tried again…

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The Dark Road Home

Mal walked down the streets of the University District heading in the direction of Zu’s place. Mal had been surprised to learn that he still lived in near the University in fact he had a house just a few blocks for his old Fraternity. Mal had also heard rumors that Zu was the unspoken warden of the University District and any Mage wanting to live here or do business around the University made sure to check in with Zu before doing so. Not only did he hold a lot of respect around the area, but also held control of the large hallow located in the Science Lab Building, the same building that her, Zu and her cabal mates had come under fire from an ambush back in the 80’s Seattle. The fact was it was that hallow that had brought Mal here to see Zu, her cabal mates needed the use of that wellspring of mana before they undertook their next task, one that had been placed on them by the Vampire Madam Deja.

Even though Zu had told her where he lived a few days after returning from her time traveling mission, Mal had yet to come here. Mal hated to admit it, but ever since the Mage Ball she had been avoiding Zu had not even talked to him since that night. Mal didn’t know what she had expected would happen when she got back to her time and she met Zu of her time who was over thirty years older, but she had hoped to find something of the Zu she had fallen for back then in him now. In the few dates, they had before the Ball she had seen pieces of the Zu she loved and had started to quickly fall for him again, in truth she had loved him from the moment she had seen him but now she knew the truth that they just could not be.

The night of the Mage Ball had been magical, but even before that night Mal had the most fun she had had in a long time just going out with her friends and her sister to buy dresses and such. On the night Harmony had looked like a princess and so beautiful and Mal had been so grateful that Dani had gotten her picture one of which Mal now cared with her. Mal had meet Zu there with his companion, a friend named Sisie Rein who was nice and seemed to understand just what was happening between Mal and Zu on sight. Mal and Zu danced, entertained Harmony and just enjoyed the evening with friends and Mal loved every moment of it, well until Philip showed up. Mal could tell Philip was mad when he walked up to Zu, but she never guessed at what until he started yelling at Zu about putting Mal in danger and that Zu should know better and even went so far as to say that if Zu didn’t stop he would face a fight. Mal had been appalled, but more than that she had been surprised to learn that her dating Zu could put her and Zu in danger. She had been so shocked that before she could even react Dani had stepped up and taken control of the situation, and Tam saw fit to cause a distraction on the dance floor with his lovely date which seemed to defuse the boiling fight.

Before Mal could even question Zu about what Philip had been talking about her cabal had been asked to see the Hierarch where they were given the charge of being the Mage Council’s representatives to the Changeling Court’s Seasonal session. Later when Mal had told Zu he had become upset saying that the Council was just doing this to try an force him to accept their authority in the University District, but that didn’t upset Mal what did is when Zu told her she would not do as the Council asked and he would accept their demands. Well things got a little fuzzy after that as to who said what, but Mal knew she had told Zu that he would never to anything against his will just for her and that she was no little girl and would do what she must and that if this was how he was going to act then maybe they should not see each other. Well at least those are the pieces she remembered from the argument as she knew now that she had yelled a lot of things at him and he had answered back with a cold growl that made her flinch and want to cry.

After the fight Mal had taken Harmony home and hadn’t spoken to Zu since, in truth everyday afterwards she had hoped he would call and every night she had held the phone ready to do the same but she knew she just couldn’t, not if it meant that Zu would have to do anything against his will. Mal had tried to keep her heartache a secret, but she suspected that Harmony knew and that Dani had suspicions but thankfully either of them had said anything to her yet. In any case, Mal now found herself standing in front of Zu’s front door because she had opened her big mouth when Tam had stated they needed to get the use of another hallow. With a shaking hand Mal reached up and rang the door bell before taking a step back and started trying to control her breathing.

Zu answered the door wearing a house robe, black shorts and sandals, but the shock of his face was unmistakable as he looked down on Mal standing on his front porch. Mal couldn’t help notice that even at a little over fifty Zu still looked attractive with a well toned chest and a build of an athlete with wavy long hair and deep brown eyes. Mal forced herself to look over his shoulder so that she could bring herself to speak.

“Emazu, my cabal mates and I need the use of your hallow, we respectfully make this request out of eminent need.” Even as Mal spoke she couldn’t bring herself to look upon Zu’s face.

Zu’s voice sounded worn-out and drawn when he answered, “No, Mal don’t…”

Mal didn’t wait to hear the rest of his rejection she turn quickly on her heels as only a graceful fighter can and started forward at a fast pace near a run but she only got a few steps when she was stopped by the force of Zu’s grip on her right arm as he turned her around to face him once more. Before Mal could even react Zu kissed her with a gentleness that was at odds with the force of his grip.

When Zu finally released her from the kiss she looked upon his face to see sadness in his eyes but before he could do anything more to stop her Mal spoke.

“Zu we can’t, I will never allow you to do anything against your will just for me, and you know we can’t. Philip was right except for one thing, it is I who endanger you and I will not allow it.”

Zu answered her with the simple statement. “Mal I was wrong.” the statement hung in the air for several seconds as if it answered everything that had happened between them but then Zu continued. “You are anything but a helpless girl and I know now that no one could ever use you against me and with you at my side I could never be forced to do anything against my will. Please Mal I’ve missed you.”

Mal knew that she should just run because the longer she stood there the more she knew that she would do the one thing that she should not, fall for the man in front of her. As Zu’s words rang in her head Mal knew that she had to make a choice either leave or stay and staying meant putting Zu in danger in her eyes. But here he was saying that if she only stood by his side they could face anything that came their way. Mal knew that Zu was among the things she would spend her last breath defending and she had forced heartache upon herself in his name but the truth was she was hurting him as well and the only true way to defend him was to stand with him. Mal embraced Zu as if she was drowning and he was her savior and as she held him close she could feel tears running down her check as she whispered into his chest one find declaration. “Together.”

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And the shoe falls...

Dani had been waiting for the other shoe to fall. The challenge of being the Mage Council representatives had been the first shoe. Dani didn’t think that they had done too badly and bringing Sarah had been a good choice. Showing her contractual oath obligations to Trucker and then formally greeting the Spring and Summer Ladies seemed to not step on toes. Speaking with both vampire courts and the werewolves of Northern Seattle had been the same as normal. The Madam acknowledged their scheduled meeting the next week. Cassie had taken her serious comments to Fallon as the jest Dani had figured she would, but Dani was glad to see that they were working on their relationship. Prince Coy was good at passing himself off as not a threat, but Dani had learned early in life that those with the prettiest manners were the most dangerous. That was probably why she hated the diplomatic circles of humans so much. The friendly grandfatherly type that had been so nice to her as a young child had been responsible for more atrocities than she ever would have imagined.

Meeting Moorloch the Created only after having met or requesting to meet all the Ladies of the Changeling Court had been more diplomatic than was probably expected out of soldiers of the Mage Council. Moorloch reminded her of the voice of the Nothing in the Neverending Story. The voice was powerful and feared because of what had created him, but was just trying to live in the ever changing world of Fantasia. Moorloch had been polite and with his directness and honesty had earned her respect. She would stand firmly behind Tam’s statement that should the Changelings cease to grant Moorloch a place to stay he could ask the Mage Council for aid.

And the other shoe had fallen while most of the attendees of the Court had been focused on the Mage Council representatives speaking with Moorloch the Created. The Autumn Lady and the 1st Marshal had arrived injured from whatever had delayed them and a man stood just outside the extent of hospitality with a knife and a severed head. If she wasn’t here in an official capacity, she would offer him one of the serving trays to keep the blood off the ground. However, she represented more than just herself at this event and there wasn’t diplomatic immunity on the supernatural level.

Dani decided to show the character that had stood her well with Ingrid and led to her upcoming lessons in the Mind Arcanum. Her actions would reflect on the Mage Council and so she decided to keep inside the granted hospitality, but to pay close attention and see if she could get a better feel for the situation. So, observation and patience were her best plays now that the other shoe had fallen.

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Facing the Music

Dani slid the photograph that Mal had taken of her and John into the cover of “Seattle Then and Now: A PhotoDocumentary by DANI” before tucking the book into the international mailer. She turned and caught a shimmer in the customized frame that held her parents’ wedding photo, the photo she’d taken of John’s parents and her favorite photograph of Mt. Saint Helen’s erupting. She hadn’t paid attention to where the emeralds from Tam had gone last night. She’d been involved with other things since John had spent the night. At least now she knew where they were.

Dani pulled out her cell phone and hit speed dial nine. She listened to the phone ring and waited until the receptionist said in Russian “You have reached the Minister’s office. How may I direct your call?” Dani replied in English, “Attaché Nikita, please.” Dani thumbed through her cabal record book as she waited. She had added a notation in Russian to her article on their first mission. Told Zu that his and Mallory’s love would be the same after 30 years and promised he would see her again. Think it is helping, but we will have to see. She had finished her article on the Mage Ball while her photographs were being developed. Dani added a notation in Russian. The madam is preparing to move so my actions at St. Margaret’s did have an effect. Hopefully it will save lives in the long run. Spoke with Maral about Ari being a good man. The article covered Tam’s date being a leader of the changeling court, John dancing with Harmony, their cabal being given the responsibility to represent the Mages at the changing of the courts, Cassie and Fallon getting along, and the making of veiled threats by the Madam to the New Prince.

“Angelina why are you calling me at work,” she heard her grandfather say in English. Dani responded in Russian, “I am calling to let you know that I’m sending you a book with a photograph of the man who holds my heart in the cover. He will be the one whose blood mingles with that of the czars in my veins. I love him and we are the same as engaged Grandfather. I need to know what country to send it to so you can be sure to receive it.” She waited knowing that her words and the language she spoke in would both be a shock to her grandfather.

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Waiting

Pensively waiting for Dany’s return, tams hawk like eyes darted back and forth and much like a bird stalking its prey tams eyes lingered for a moment on the women crowded around the room. The tension in the room loomed like dark fog, seeming to cover everyone. Tam smiled glancing towards the room he had earlier seen Zu and Mallory head into, “well almost everyone was tense” he thought to himself. His eyes scanning back to the lithe female forms in front of him perhaps that is what he needed as well. His encounter with Francine had been not unexpected, rather it was the norm back in the 21st century for tam to tempt his prey with wide smiles and words that flowed like the Liqueur that often filled their cups. He thought back to the words of those that had sent him here “what you do will effect the present” the present that is now his future he thought to himself, Luke would understand this time traveling shit, and though he had tried to explain it to tam about Einsteins belief that time travel was possible, he had only half listened. What had stuck out in his mind was with one stone throne into a lake the ripples would continue to spread further. He looked around once more thinking perhaps Dani had sneaked back in without him noticing, perhaps he should have told her not to go , that it was to dangerous. To tam dani was like an animal not wishing to be caged, he tended to agree with the thought , not having ever wanted to be held down by anything himself. And yet here he was tied to a cause that just months before would have been merely bad TV. Tam slowly went through his gear piece by piece taking inventory of what he would need, the thought struck him that these were the steps his grandfather had taught him before setting foot in the wilderness, “always be prepared” his grandfather would have said. A tear ran down tams cheek, though he quickly wiped it away, he had not thought much of his grandfather since that night. To much had happened between then and now. Now he was stuck with his thoughts, there was no where to hide, no night club to indulge his appetites. He had studied for a time the craft of death, and those beginning in his tower focused on life and living it to the fullest, tam recognized the fact that all things fade in their time, and life was in fact the beginning of a long journey to the spirits. For a moment tam wondered if his grandfather could hear him if he called out in this time…

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From the Ashes

Dani quickly cast perfecting on her camera and fortune’s protection on herself. Then, she left her weapons, armor and the mage hold behind. She needed away and to be herself. This was not a good day to be a mage, not a good day to be alive. She might be exhausted and dead on her feet, but she had to replace the images in her mind. The volcano ash falling from the sky was safer than trying to sleep with the pictures of the people she killed haunting her, and it wasn’t like she hadn’t gone lava surfing before the ash settled before.

Zu hadn’t understood why she hadn’t wanted magical healing after the battle in the opera house, but had respected her wishes. Dani’s mind played through the battle at the opera house as she searched for images to cleanse her mind. Trying to cover the Seattle Guard as they were attacked from behind, spinning to shoot the mage that zapped Zu with lightning, running up the stairs to deal with the snipers, taking their place since they had repelled over the edge, spiraling down the rope while shooting and spinning her way down to land next to Mallory, shooting the Banisher after Lucien knocked Zu out with more lightning, and turning to follow Tam’s directions and taking out the last sniper. Today wasn’t the first day, well it timeline was, she had killed someone, but the sniper had been running away…leaving combat.

Dani clicked a photograph of the teenage boy helping the elderly woman out of the hot ash. She didn’t deserve to be healed, she didn’t deserve to be up and walking around. Allah help her she was no better than the Witch Hunters killing someone just because they were on opposite sides. Dani still didn’t know if they had succeeded or if she had lost everything she cared about. Her soul was troubled and her heart longed for someone that might not be waiting for her. She had known the risks when she had come back, but watching Zu and Mallory fall in love brought home exactly what she had to lose; what they all had to lose. She had lost a part of who she was by taking the last sniper’s life and had reacted irrationally when the possibility arose that she could lose everything that was important to her. She owed Lucien a thank you for not killing her on the spot when she had sworn the oath to hunt him and whoever hurt Zu down if Zu did not survive the council meeting. Hopefully, Lucien survived so she could tell him that.

Dani took a photograph of the police officers dealing with the small group of looters. Zu had turned the female sniper from the island over to the police, but the other two’s lives were in the hands of the Fates. The witch hunter stronghold had been easy to clear out, but seeing Mallory and Zu interacting after Sister Rosalyn’s words had torn a bigger whole in her own heart. Sister Rosalyn had healed the physical wounds from the opera battle, but even time in prayer and trying to warn the madam via Freya had not salved the stain on her soul. Sister Rosalyn had asked her if she had someone waiting for her, and Dani had been honest that it depended on time. A touch under a third of a century separated her from John, but even if they succeeded in their mission their time would change. Dani had no guarantee that keeping Zu alive would leave what was the most important to her unchanged. She had killed someone that could have been taken prisoner, what right did she have to expect her future to be the same. She truly understood on a personal level what the Marines she had been assigned with had wrestled with on a daily basis.

Dani was hot, exhausted and weary to her very soul. She turned at a familiar sound and took a more in depth look at her surroundings. Only true bikers would be on their bikes during a natural disaster. She snapped a couple of pictures of the bikes that were being moved into the garage before almost falling down when she realized where the Fates had led her steps. She snapped a couple pictures of the club before sitting down on the steps. The closest she could be to John was here, the club and garage where his parents were bound to be. Man was she screwed if he wasn’t waiting for her in her own time. The Fates had guided her footsteps to the Tribe of 1980 in spite of the fact her parents and family were in the same town. She had known she had loved John, but had not realized that it was the fiery love she had been running away from her entire life. That was the only kind of love that could draw her here instead of to her parents. She had sought death after losing her parents because she wanted to be with them and when given the once in a lifetime chance to see them again, she had been drawn to John’s family. She sat on the step with ash falling on her and tears streaming down her face. If they had changed the past too much, she had lost the only man she had ever loved without ever telling him the words. Words had power and if she had told him, she might have hope, but she had not realized how much he truly meant until it was possibly too late.

Dani turned at the sound of the door opening behind her. John’s mother looked exactly like she had in her wedding picture. Dani accepted her invitation to get out of the ash and have something to drink. Dani knew if she screwed up anything with the Tribe of 1980 her future was totally gone, so she did not linger long. She did ask for a picture of the leader of the Devil’s Own Tribe and the Angel that was his wife before she left. John’s parents had smiled at her wording, but had agreed. John’s mother had been reluctant to let her go back out into the ash storm, but Dani had simply said she needed to find her way back to the man who held her heart and let him know that she loved him. Her answer was solid truth, but was it possible? She hoped so because she realized that love was the only thing that could keep her going.

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Standing before the Fear

As Zu walked down the hallway carrying a tray of tea to Lorry’s room, he almost burst out in hysterical laughter at the heart stopping fear that was rising up within him. He had faced a ambush at the Science Lab two days ago, then had taken a team into another ambush at the Council meeting location at the Beacon Hill Theater House, and then he had lead an assault on a enemy held training camp, but it was now that he wanted to run in fear.

The day that Lorry and her friends Tam and Angel had shown up had been a confusing and weird day, which had ended in an attempted shooting at the Science Lab and him spending the night in a sorority house. Despite the shooting the scariest thing about that night had been when he had kissed Lorry and the look on her face afterwards. Zu had almost lost himself in that kiss, but then he had seen the shock in her face and fear had gripped his heart to the point that he had fled to his own bed, but their parting words had seemed to bridge the space between them before they slipped off to sleep.

Even though his world was in chaos and Zu was suppose to be leading the efforts to defend the Mages of the city, he had a hard time not letting his thoughts linger on Lorry. Zu knew he had been distracted when they had went into the Theater House and he blamed himself for not seeing the attack sooner, but when the ambush had sprung everyone had acted to the best of their ability. He and Lorry had fought their way deep into the Theater and were doing well until the flaming hand Banisher had shown up out of nowhere and attacked him. Being hit with flames from some guy’s hands had been scary enough but when he had tried to teleport himself and Zu out of the Theater Zu had known he was in trouble, but then Lorry had thrown her will at the Banisher stopping his spell cold. By the look on her face full of fear and concern, Zu knew just how close he had come and he realized as he looked upon Lorry that he didn’t fear the Banisher, but not seeing Lorry again. Then the lightening had come down with the words of “Sorry for this bud” in Lucian’s voice and then darkness.

When Zu awoke, he found that he was lying in Lorry’s arms just inside the woman’s bathroom where he had fallen as she stroked his hair with concern still bright in her eyes. A deep part of Zu had wanted to stay there on the woman’s bathroom floor forever, but he knew that the world he knew was falling down around him and he had to get up to face it head on and help his fellow Mages. After a quick regrouping and assessment, Zu contacted the Council who moved the meeting to the second closed location and with that they were headed to the Downtown Museum. The meeting was a long drawn out process with every member getting their say, but in the end decisions were finally made and Zu was tasked with taking out the group of Witch Hunters that was being manipulated by the Seer of the Thrown sect. The Council had recommend that he take the group of Arrows from Seattle and not the newcomers, but Zu had argued against this and won his argument mostly do to the fact that he was the only one going on this mission. Zu knew that he could trust Lorry, Tam, and Angel with his life even though he had only known them for a few days, but what he didn’t know was how much of that trust was based off of his feelings for Lorry or on how much he had come to know about the group as a whole.

Before leaving on the assault mission, Zu and the rest of the group needed to get patched up and were told by the Council to use the aid of Sister Rosalyn at St. Margret’s Hospital. Zu had only meet the Sister Rosalyn once before, she was much like Lucian, an outsider in the Mage community but still a part of it. When they had gotten to the Sister’s office Zu was surprised by her friendly demeanor which was opposite of the rumors he had heard about her, but she freely offered her aid and words of advice and encouragement. When Sister Rosalyn had been healing Zu’s hurts she had asked him if he was scared of what he was about to face or what stood in front of him. Zu had been confused by her question and asked her what she meant and the Sister had just smiled at him and answered, “Well child I know that giving your heart away to your true love can be scary and in your case when she will go where you can’t follow it is even more so, but have faith for true love is a special and rare thing that does not falter easily. Just as she is, child, and I wish you luck with her and pray for you safety.” and with that the Sister stood and moved on to care for Tam.

Two hours later they were staring at the island where the Witch Hunters camp was located which was a dark menacing thing that scared the bay waters as they sailed into the crudely made dock. Zu couldn’t stop thinking about what Sister Rosalyn that said to him as they made up the side of the hill and deeper into the island, and he almost tripped several times as he keep looking at Lorry. When the group got near the camp, Tam silently took care of the guard in a rudely built guard tower before they split into two groups on Tam’s guidance, Zu and Lorry in one group with Tam and Angel in the other. Zu and Lorry made their way around the edge of the camp trying to move around to cover the backside as Tam and Angel lead the assault, but they were stopped before getting into position when a shot rang out from the other guard tower which took Zu high in the left arm.

After that things started happening so fast, Tam fired his TNT loaded arrow into a truck then Lorry set it off blowing up the truck and causing a large distraction. He and Lorry moved around the back of the camp taking fire from the guard tower until they made it inside a house looking building. Inside they found a wounded woman who they tied up before moving to the other door; it was then that Lorry exchanged fire with a man near the other side of the camp. When Lorry cried out in pain from a shot she took to her side, Zu’s heart almost stopped as he ran to shoot at her attacker then pulling her back into the building. As he looked over her wound, she looked more concerned for him than for herself. Then Tam and Angel had called for the rest of the TNT, Zu had stood up getting ready to run to them as they backed up a tuck to the building before he left though Lorry reached out for his hand, “Stay safe for me please,” and with a nod Zu ran out and jumped into the back of the truck which Angel drove straight into the warehouse so Tam could through the TNT into it a the rest of the Witch Hunters. The ensuing explosion took the fight out of the survivors and ended the fight.

Their had been some discussion on how to handle the surviving Witch Hunters, but Lorry had voiced the most just option. They had left all but the woman there for the police to deal with taking the woman who had been apart of the University shooting back with them to turn her over personally to the police when they got back. Before leaving they gathered up as much of the Witch Hunters weapons and equipment as they could find, and it had been while they were loading this stuff onto the yacht when they felt the shockwaves of what felt like a earthquake then they saw the cloud erupt from the north and start to head in their direction. Afterward they had moved quickly to get back to Seattle and safety and they almost made it but before they reached the Downtown stronghold ash started falling like snow onto the city covering everything and making it hard to see much less drive, but they all made it to the stronghold safe and sound.

It was now here in the safety of the stronghold that Zu was starting to face his deepest fear as he walked into the room that had been assigned to Lorry for their stay here. Lorry had just stepped out of a shower and was wearing a thin grey shirt with her sorority’s crest on it and black shorts, but she had taken her pink ribbon that she had been wearing since she had arrived to the city out of her hair and it was now tied around her right wrist. Lorry was not wearing stylish clothes like she had during the sorority party and her hair was hanging unkempt down around her face, but Zu’s heart skipped a beat as heat rushed through his body just looking at her.

Zu set the tea down before turning to Lorry who was looking at him with a strange look on her face and not moving from her spot, and it was then that he realized that she scared too. For some reason that made Zu feel better and worse at the same moment and in a deep desire to soothe her fear he took several steps forward until he was at arms length in front on her. There was several moments of silence where both of them tried to say something, but only managing to move their mouths in wordless speak. Finally Zu closed his eyes and said, “Lorry you scare me, you scare me because I have never felt this way about anyone and even though I know you have to leave as you have said I can’t let you go, not without saying this. My heart had chosen you and now belongs to you as do I. I guess what I’m trying to say it that I have fallen in love with you.”

Zu opened his eyes after a few second when he didn’t get any kind of response to see Lorry’s face full of tears as she untied her pink ribbon from her wrist. She stepped closer to him breaking an unseen barrier with her body’s closeness as she reached down and took his left arm in her hands, and then looking into his eyes for the first time she answered him. “Zu, I never imagined to find you here or to feel the way I do, but I know now that I have finally found what my heart has always been searching for. I want you to have something from me, this ribbon was given to me by my sister Harmony for luck and with love and I want you to have it now.” With that she tied the pink ribbon onto his left wrist with a bow that all girls seem to know natural how to do and as she finished she spoke up once more, “I am yours as you are mine.”

Zu closed that final space between them in more ways than just physical as he embraced Lorry and looked deep into her eyes. Her eyes were still sparkling with the tears she had been shedding, but it was love behind those tears and Zu knew that his soul would never be the same as it now and would for ever belong to the beautiful woman that stood before him and with that thought he kissed her with tenderness and passion that he somehow knew would last for ages.

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