There was a knock on the door, I jumped and realized that I had been completely spacing out waiting for time to pass. I looked through the peephole and saw Mairyn. This should be entertaining. Mairyn works with me at the accounting firm, I had gotten her the job; Mairyn is a changeling, part human and part fairy.
“Caitlin, are you ok?” She called through the door.
” Yeah, hold on a minute. ” I unlocked the door and let her in. She had brought me dinner from Perfect Pasty, it’s my favorite place to eat. They fill a very crunchy roll type pastry with all kinds of things like gyro meat, eggplant and all other kinds of crazy concoctions. Sounds weird but it is an orgasm on a plate as far as I was concerned.
“Brought you Greek. I knew you weren’t sick you know.” She handed me my pasty and grabbed some plates as I sat back down on the couch. My brain still wasn’t functioning.
“Wow, you look like you’re recovering from an all night bender.”
I stared at her and waited for some form of thought to register. She handed me a fork. Her small fingers barely managed to wrap around her pasty to unwrap it. She is about 4’6 but is perfectly proportioned not dwarfed at all. She has short spiky brown hair, slightly pointed ears and her eyes are the brightest green I have ever seen. If you have ever heard the stories of human children who were stolen and replaced by elven children that is where the term changeling originates. Personally I have never understood why elves would want their children raised by humans. Mairyn however is as elvish as any human could get, her house is teeming with greenery that she seems never to actively care for. It’s as if her energy alone feeds them and makes them grow. When she speaks her voice seems normal but as soon as she starts to sing her true nature shows. Her voice seems to be a cross between wind chimes and celestial choirs; everybody within earshot stops and listens when she sings. She had tried to make a career out of singing but somehow the electronic mikes and mixers destroy the harmonics of her voice and the sound is all flat and devoid of magic. She chose to learn Irish Gaelic and put together a traditional Irish group who sings only in Gaelic. Whichever pub or club they play is always standing room only. There is usually a line out the door to hear her as well. She can’t use mikes but the attentive silence of the crowd allows everyone to hear her. When she stops, you could hear a leaf drop. My two nefarious felines were already trying to swipe a bit of pasty off her plate. I never let them do it but Mairyn is a pushover for any species other than human.
“Bender, yeah. I got all the pain and agony and none of the enjoyment.” I told her. She raised an eyebrow at me. She is also a tad telepathic but she is too polite to go digging unless invited. I heard her gasp. I knew she had caught something of my thoughts, although she doesn’t dig, there was no way my thoughts of last night would be sufficiently controlled to where she could not hear them.
“Well no wonder you’re wiped the hell out!!! A noble vampire pops in on you, Hecate overturns the entire history of creation and religion as far as most humans are concerned. I am surprised you’re not curled up in a corner rocking back and forth.” She took a bite of pasty and looked at me. I was starting to crack, I felt it. All of a sudden I had two cats and a fairy touching me, holding me and pouring soothing energy into my mind and soul. It just seemed so unreal and so ridiculous.
“I don’t understand Mar, I just don’t. Why am I involved? What the hell did he mean about being a true witch?! Why did Hecate show me something so vital and then kick me back here? Who are these thought forms, how do I know what is real anymore? ” I was speaking in bullet- like bursts between gasps of air and racking sobs. I felt Mairyn giggle. ” What could possibly be funny Mar?”
“You asking what is real. You consort with changelings, werewolves and vamps more then you do with humans, you carry on casual conversations with goddesses, have not one but two familiars and go antiquing to appease your dragon guardians; yet somehow you are worried about that pesky line called reality.” Her eyes were full of mischief and I couldn’t help but laugh a
“Touché’. ” I congratulated her. “The point is none of those beings ever dropped the fate of the world on my shoulders. It just seems odd that they are coming to me. Ever see the movie or read Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”? She shook her head. “It’s about two side characters from Hamlet and how they are trying to figure out who they are as all they remember of their lives is being summoned by the King of Denmark. They spend the whole time trying to figure out who they are, why they are so important and when it seems like they may have the answers they are killed. The character Guildenstern has this wonderful line at the end “Who are we that so much should converge on our little deaths?” That is how I feel right now. ”
“Caitlin, I doubt that Hecate would set you up to die and perhaps the vamps are being overdramatic. Immortality can make a person self-absorbed. Look love, you have always known you were different, you have always asked why you never seem to fit in with anyone. You’re the only human witch I have ever met that can somehow bond with every abnormal creature to cross your path. There is something different about you and perhaps now you will know what it is.” She paused and cocked her head to the side. It almost seemed like she was receiving information from another source. ” You know…. wait…let me think. I remember something my mother used to tell me when I was small. It was a story that she stated had been passed down through our entire family. I just thought it was silly. That was before I realized I was so different, but then I got caught up in life and never got to ask her about the meaning before she died. The story goes that when time began and the world was new there was a traveler. He went to all the worlds to make sure that each world was beautiful and harmonious, he did this by adding plants and interesting animals like unicorns and such to make sure magic lived in every plane. He got to this planet and met the most beautiful woman, but she was not like him and their love could never be consummated. He went about his work and was about to leave when somehow all his magic
was stripped from him. He couldn’t create magic he could not grow things. He was angry and scared. He started searching for a reason why this had happen. In his travels he came upon the woman again and she was crying, she was holding in her hand a gem and told him that they were all trapped now. He was moved by fear for her and himself. He searched high and
low with her for an answer. None was to be had. He and the woman stayed together and over time he noticed he was becoming more mortal. Overcome by love they had sex and their child was the first changeling.” She stopped talking to let me think. Another story that involved a traveling being. Could he have been the one who created the world and got stuck here somehow?
“It’s dark outside Mother. Dafydd should have risen by now” Eve stated. We
all looked at the business card. I was reminded of another line from “Rosencrantz” ” There must have been a moment when we could have said no..” At least I would always know what that moment had been. Mairyn squeezed my hand for reassurance. I knew if there was anything she could do to help she would. I also knew that there was nothing she could do.
Mairyn had picked up Dafydd’s card, “Wow, this is really good quality paper!” Mairyn notices the weirdest things. “I love linen paper stock, I like the texture and how the light flows through the ridges. See, look..” She held the card up to the lamp. As the light flowed through the card I noticed the design, and suddenly something in my head clicked.
“Let me see that!!” I grabbed the card from her so fast she jumped. “This can’t be, there is no way in hell…..this means that……” My hands started to shake.
“What’s wrong Cat?” Mairyn asked. She had seen the cats fur rise up on their backs and tails. I couldn’t respond, I just stood up and walked to the spare bedroom, opened the closet door where I reached in and opened my safe. Mairyn has always made fun of how huge my safe was. Since I have always lived in apartments I was never able to bolt a safe to the floor so I had bought an antique safe. The thing was 3 inches of thick, solid galvanized steel and weighed about 120 lbs. No one was going to carry that away easily. In my safe I have the usual papers, passports etc. but behind all of that was my most cherished possession, the box with no key. My father had given this to me when I turned twenty and moved out. I pulled it out of the safe and heard Mairyn gasp from behind me. I guess she had followed, I turned and saw her sinking to the floor, and her face was ashen. The box itself was made out of a wood similar to Ebony or Coromandel. The wood was black with striations of grey running through it. The wood had been polished to a high sheen and it never seemed to lose its luster. The top of the box was covered in ornate engravings that looked like glyphs or runes of some sort and they had an otherworldly glow to them. As I ran my hands over the engravings they shimmered as if they were alive. The colors changed from what seemed to be solid silver to something that resembled a fire opal; milky on the outer edges of the glyphs to ever changing sparks of color in the center. I had tried to translate the glyphs but everywhere I looked all I got were blank stares. I had sent pictures to some experts in pictographs and ancient cultures and they said they had never seen anything like them before. I tilted the box back a bit so Mairyn could see the front of it where the lock was.
The lock was a heavy gold circle about three inches in diameter, about 3 inches deep, and it looked like something from a Hollywood treasure hunt movie. Engraved into the lock was a design; a person would have to find the correct object to fit into the design so the lock could be turned. That object was Dafydd’s sigil. The shape of the shield had been engraved in but the figures on the lock were in relief. The shield was diagonally quartered, on the top was a relief of a cloud, the space to the left had a cat, across from that was a rampant bear and in the bottom space was a flying bat. It had been so long since I had looked at this box and being so caught up in everything I had not really registered Dafydd’s sigil in my brain. When Mairyn had raised the card up the design had matched perfectly. One could see how the lock would turn as soon as the key was applied; Dafydd’s ring was the negative imprint of the lock. All I could do was stare at the lock and Dafydd’s card.
“The image is a perfect match and I am willing to bet his ring is the correct size. This just keeps getting better.” I said.
“I suppose there is a story to this box. Let me guess, great mystery, family heirloom, etc. etc.” Mairyn joked.
“Actually you’re amazingly close to the truth. I feel like I am living a fantasy novel.” I shook my head.
“Nah, if you were you would have really cool enchanted weapons…” Mairyn quipped.
“I am half-expecting a cryptic wizard to pop out of the wall and hand me one the way things are going. ” I replied Mairyn brushed her hand across the box and let out a yelp.
” It shocked me!!”
“You’re kidding!! I didn’t know it was warded.” I looked at my familiars who gave me the equivalent of a feline shrug.
“Mother, we have never touched it, we know there is power in it but it is not our place to explore it.” Eve stated. I guess cats can hold their curiosity in check; the world really was coming to an end.
“What do you know about the box Caitlin?” Mairyn asked still rubbing her hand. I felt tears starting to well up. This box held so many memories of my father and what he had told me about his family and our interesting family traits.
“My father gave this to me when I moved out of the house to start my own life. He stated that this had been handed down for generations and that when the key and the lock finally met, our family would know its destiny. When my father disappeared I put a lot of things away and swore never to touch them again because it hurt too much to feel the memories. I did that with most of my abilities too. I used to be telekinetic and very clairvoyant. My parents home schooled me until I was 10 because I had to learn not to go around moving things and telling people their fates. Dad taught me everything I know about energy and magic. He and I would spend hours learning to focus and direct energies. When I was 7 I had wanted a pony, all girls do I guess at one point or another. Anyway, we lived in a condo so no way in hell could we get a pony. I didn’t care and just wished and wished and dreamed for that pony. The morning of my birthday I remember my mother screaming in the kitchen. Apparently she had not expected a 2 foot tall pony complete with riding gear to be in her kitchen.”
“You made a pony!!!” Mairyn was stunned.
“No not really, I had wished so hard that the image of a pony appeared. It wasn’t real, the dog ran right through it actually.”
“You’re dad disappeared?” She asked.
“Yes, 5 years ago today. He and mom had bought a nice piece of land in Colorado; it backed up onto a national forest. One day dad went out hiking and never came back. Mom was frantic, they searched for a week but they never found any clues that could indicate what had happened. The weird thing was that after everyone had expressed condolences and such Mom seemed perfectly fine. I thought at first it was denial but I slowly realized that
she was hiding something. Several times I saw her quickly hide something when I came into her bedroom to talk, I could never see where she was putting it. The other unusual thing was that our neighbors the Fitzgerald’s had told the police that someone on a motorcycle had come to the house two days before Dad had disappeared. He had shown up just after nightfall and was there for several hours. Mr. Fitzgerald stated that the motorcycle was still parked in front of the house when he had taken the trash out right before going to bed around 10pm. When the police asked Mom about it she said she must have been out because she did not remember anyone coming to the house. I asked the Fitzgerald’s about it later in passing and they had told me that both cars were in the driveway so unless Mom was hiking at night she had to have been there. Mrs. Fitzgerald just chalked the temporary amnesia up to shock. I know better, my Mom never forgets anything.” I took a breath and continued.
“At any rate, he was declared dead about 3 weeks later and Mom didn’t fight it which really upset me because I knew he was still alive. We had so many fights about it and after awhile I just stopped calling her. I had been very close to her and her side of the family but I couldn’t bear how they had given up on Dad. I tried scrying, astral travel and everything I could think of to try to reach him, I felt him a few times but I never could really contact him. When I did feel him he felt different somehow. ” I paused as the memories flowed over me. So many wonderful times I had with him, how he prepared me for how the real world would see me and how to protect myself from the demented closed minded imbeciles that populate most of the planet. The people, who would look at my difference as a reason to experiment on me, persecute me or both.
“Anyway, the box. As I said Dad gave it to me. As far as I know you are the only person outside of the family who has ever seen or touched it. The family legend went that our great grandfather’s guardian gifted it to him and in it laid not only our destiny but also the secret to witchcraft. If this was ever taken by an evil spirit and opened, the world would end and so it was our responsibility to guard it against all others. When I was growing up I used to imagine huge battles with an evil demon and our family being praised instead of reviled. As I grew older it seemed a silly story and once Dad disappeared I pretty much turned my back on anything magical out of bitterness and spite. The power that had once made me feel invincible had turned out useless when I needed it most.” I turned the box over in my hand. It was the about a12 inches long, 8 inches deep and about 8 inches wide, I passed my hand over the glyphs again and watched as the colors danced and jumped. As I stared at them it seemed as they were joining together and becoming a translucent pool of mist. As the colors swirled and shifted a face started to form, I saw my father. I was so shocked I dropped the box, but it didn’t hit the floor. It floated in the air of it’s own accord and Dad’s eyes met mine.
“It’s time Naomh’an.” His soothing voice both calmed and frightened me.” Follow your instincts and trust in what I have taught you. I miss you.”