Issue #93 – Day of Recovery

This entry is part 10 of 12 in the series The Descendants Vol 8: The Weaver's Web

Day of Recovery (Part 1)

This is weird.” Kay drew out the word, flexing her hands into fists and back again over and over again. She’d never known how to make a fist before and suddenly she understood what she’d been doing wrong for so many years. Muscle memory she hadn’t had before made it hard to even do it wrong on purpose anymore.

Freshly returned from her trip to investigate a magic pawnshop that wasn’t there anymore, Lisa stared down at the palmtop containing the Books of Reason and Tranquility. There was a new spell there called Cosmic Crackle whose description suggested it did everything the rod she wielded in Hermes’s altered reality did. “Yeah. Parting gifts indeed.”

They were sitting in a booth in the cafe on the ground floor of their hotel. It had been less than an hour since Hermes let them go, returning everyone to where they had been plucked from as if no time had passed.

Descendants LA and Shade’s Apprentice confirmed that they remembered everything except the real faces or names of those they’d seen maskless or whose named they’d known in the other reality. Judging from the fact that Lily hadn’t lost her mind, the people who played minor roles didn’t remember anything at all.

Hermes had been true to his word: the only thing that changed was the ‘parting gifts’, which the combined teams (and visiting sidekick) were yet to fully catalog.

Kay retained the martial arts training she’d had as the Jade Mantis’s sidekick. Tink had perfect recall of all the Jade Mantis’s gadgets and armaments: car to claw. Teen Machine reported he had a similar situation going on with the tech his counterpart had. And Lisa had her new spell.

The others hadn’t discovered anything immediately. Juniper had found her Super Sentinels Transformation Device in her luggage, but it didn’t respond to her attempts to activate it. She kept it anyway.

Setting aside her admittedly awesome new skills for now, Kay pulled out her palmtop and called up a web page, which she showed to Lisa. “People loved us by the way. AllTheMusicOnline has reviews up for all the acts that played yesterday and the only group they seemed to like more than us was Love Her Moxie.”

Her tones was bright and upbeat, but her best friend could see that the spark in her eyes wasn’t as bright as it would be. “Kay, is everything okay?”

The shorter woman flicked her gaze back tot he website. “Sure. Our sales are way up. We’re on a pace to go gold by the end of next week. I mean… we’ve made it, right? That’s what it means—we’ve made it? Dreams coming true?”

Now her voice was wavering.

Kay…” Lisa started.

Her friend focused on the tabletop hard enough that Lisa was surprised it didn’t catch fire. “Lis? Can I ask you something?” She sounded like a small child asking her mommy to check under the bed for the third time in one night. It became clear the Lisa in that moment what this was about, but she nodded for her to go on.

Kay fiddled with her palmtop, not knowing what to do with her hands. “Are we going to live long enough to enjoy it? I know we’ve heard about this Maeve thing for a while now, but if something like this Hermes guy, who can just twist and mess up reality like he does is scared of her…. just how screwed are we?”

If Lisa didn’t care about her friend’s feeling, the answer would have been ‘very’. The Books they had offered a listing for Maeve, but then blacked out all the information but a few names: Mab-Her-Voice, Errolking, Titanae, Oberu, and Profiue. It seemed that even the 4 Books were hesitant to say too much about Maeve, which said a great deal.

A great deal of very scary things.

Instead of telling the truth, Lisa put on as confident a smile as she dared. “Hermes may have been a reality warper—a really strong one too—but he still got his ass handed to him by us.”

He was just testing us.”

So he says,” said Lisa, “Or maybe he just wanted to save his ass. Even if he was really just testing us and helping like he said, he did say we were the best chance against Maeve.”

Kay continued to look down and fidget. “Best chance. How good a chance is it, really?”

Lisa bit her lower lip, watching her normally chipper and raucous best friends succumb to fear and nerves on what should have been the best day of her life. Not that she wasn’t nervous herself; reckonings were on the horizon and she knew better than anyone that they needed information they had no way of getting because they couldn’t just hop into and out of Faerie for recon.

Still, it wasn’t as if this was the first time they’d flown blind into something terrifying. That was what she ran with, reaching out to take her friend’s hands between her own. “Kay? Listen, think about all the things we’ve already faced: you got kidnapped by a robot, I fought some witch from half a millennium ago to save my aunt, there was a dragon and cyborg monster dogs and golems—all kinds of things we didn’t understand that should have beat us easily. But we hung together and won, right?”

Kay nodded silently.

Right. If you think about it, what Hermes said makes a lot of sense. We fight, we adapt, we don’t give up. And… we win. Some of the bad guys have gotten away—and believe me no one is more frustrated Morganna isn’t locked in the deepest, most escape-proof mental institution ever than me—but we don’t lose. We won’t lose this one either. It’s just the waiting that’s throwing us off.”

She gave Kay’s hands a reassuring squeeze. “And I can’t think of anyone I feel better facing this with than my sidekick—especially my awesome new and improved kung-fu sidekick.” Then she picked up the palmtop, turning it so Kay could look at the screen again. “Not to mention, hot cool is it going to be when we’re rock stars by day, superheroes by night?”

A tiny smile tugged at Kay’s lips. “Fortune and Glory?”

We’re going to buy and sell Maeve’s sorry ass.”

***

Not everyone was able to feign such confidence.

Felix Park—Teen Machine—had no idea where they were anymore. While he’d been trying to compare notes with the original Descendants and Shade’s Apprentice, Icthiani—Lady D—had run off.

The only saving grace was that she hadn’t shed her comm, so he was able to track her out of the commercial district, through clusters of middle class apartment villages, and finally to a community park of some sort where he found her sitting on the floor of a gazebo, arms wrapped around her legs, shivering.

Her choice of location surprised him: from what he’d gleaned, Faerie was a Death World where he plants were out to kill you harder than the animals or sapient inhabitants—at least in the cases they weren’t also the sapient inhabitants. So far, Icthiani was dubious at best about Earth plants, an attitude that suffered a serious setback after she’d spied a Venus Fly Trap in a shop they visited.

Judging by her condition though, she was too shaken to grok that she was surrounded by greenery at the moment.

With all the caution of someone approaching a feral cat, Felix gingerly made his way into the gazebo and knelt down in front of her. “’Ani? You okay?”

No answer. At least she wasn’t crying, only staring into space in front of her.

Is it what happened when were… uh…” he paused, trying to find a way to phrase what just happened to them. “…other people? I know you worry about your sangria logo, and that was kind of scary watching her take over like that, but Hermes is gone now and that’s not gonna happen again.”

Oh how he wished he could promise her that, but he didn’t because it was way beyond his control.

When she didn’t even react, he took that was an invitation to guess again. “Was it about being human for a while? I know that could be jarring, but we’re really not that different—I mean physiologically speaking. A few different organs, less lactic acid production, way more carnivore-centered digestion, maybe, but it’s actually kinda weird how similar our species are…”

He knew he was rambling now, but it was his nature to fill the silence. It formed one major pillar of his interactions with Icthiani. Eventually, he ran out of breath and words and sat heavily on his rump on the cool concrete.

Okay, ‘Ani… please just tell me what’s up?”

For the first time, her eyes moved, her red-tinted gaze sweeping over him and dissecting him like a thief casing a vault. Or a predator planning the correct way to take down prey. It softened slightly once she recognized him. Hoarse, she spoke quietly and slowly.

If the only thing I witnessed today was transformation into a Mankind and the unfettering of my sangrelogos, I would cry joy to the moon if I knew it was the extent of the horrors to come.”

Felix felt his eyes widen and tried to pull back his expression. “Um… horrors?”

She nodded resolutely. “For months, we have fretted and prepared for a conflict with Zales. His power and potential influence are something we are all well aware we must approach with care—that we may not be able to overcome as we are now.

So when I say that Maeve, by comparison, makes him seem a single flake of snow before a winter squall, you will understand just what a power difference I speak of.” She watched the confusion forming on his face and subtly shook her head so he wouldn’t interrupt. “Maeve is a goddess; as far beyond what you might call a god as my people are beyond Mankinds. In the begging, when she first conquered Faerie after invading from the Air and Darkness, the Black World, she created my fore-bearers and the fore-bearers of all fey people by turning on her allies and sundering their spirits from their physical bodies so none of them would ever rise in power to be a threat and their children would be her servants.”

She held out her arms, gesturing to the minute red sigils of her sangrelogos, which dyed her skin crimson under the clothing and make-up she wore in public. “My people, the daoine of the High Soder capture and enslave creatures of sundered spirit—demons–and bind them to ourselves in an effort to make ourselves more like sidhe like her.”

Before she could warn him off and continue, Felix broke in. “If she’s your god, how come you never mentioned her before?”

She is no god of ours. She simply is a god. Cruel and cold. A mankind wizard, Hyrilius, placed a cruse on her with his dying breath: that she if she did not spend seven and seven years from every hundred in the world of her birth, her power would wane and she would perish.”

Is seven and seven forty-nine here, or seventy-seven?”

Icthiani gave him a sharp look.” Does it matter? Maeve has not ruled Faerie in my lifetime, but I know from my parents and elders of what she is capable of even when having dealings with her most loyal subjects.”

She took a deep breath before forging onward. “Her hatred runs deep, through generations. Since Hyrilius cursed her, she has had a special ire for Mankinds. If she comes here, all of your people—all who you love and know and have ever laid eyes upon will suffer or die suffering.”

Felix swallowed. “That’s… cheery.”

Completely missing his sarcasm, Icthiani glared at him in annoyance. “It was not meant to be cheery. It was meant as… as…” Her normally dark demeanor seemed lost rather than her usual barely-contained anger. “I do not know. No warning will save you, we have no means of fleeing this world… there is no hope. Perhaps… I should have told you nothing. Yet, I feel you deserve to know.”

Blinking rapidly, Felix tried to process what he’d just heard. Something that scared the inhabitants of Faerie, a world where he figured everyone was immune to normal every day fear by now, was gunning for Earth.

Okay,” he said, then repeated it a few more times as if it might actually make things okay, “okay, okay, okay. I’m sure Josh already told the others…” that would explain why his palmtop hadn’t stopped vibrating in a long while, “…but the other heroes don’t have daoine on their side. We need to let them know about this—the whole story.”

What will that do?”

Exactly what that Hermes dude said: we unite and we figure out some way to stop Maeve when she gets here—or maybe before she gets here. We have been spending the past couple of years dumping Faeries back in their world, right?”

Icthiani looked at him as if he’d said something especially idiotic. “This is no faerie or fey—this is a sidhe. This is the sidhe: her brothers and sisters, her enemies—they pale in comparison to her. We cannot win this fight.”

He shook his head and reached out to lay a hand on her shoulder. If she were in the mood, Icthiani would have diagnosed him as too foolish to be terrified. “Maybe,” he said with the calm of someone who didn’t really understand the enormity that was Maeve and her power, “but me? I’d rather go down fighting than sit around and let this ice queen do what she wants.”

Meeting her eyes with a shy look, he added, “And I hope you’ll have my back when I do.”

Series Navigation<< Issue #92 – HomageIssue #94 – The Knight, The Witch and the Gadgeteer (FaerieQuest Part 1) >>

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Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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8 Comments

  1. Typos

    On the intro on the front page Hermes is misspelt as Heremes.

    or whose named
    or whose names

    her friend’s feeling,
    her friend’s feelings,

    placed a cruse
    placed a curse

    every day fear
    everyday fear

  2. That could be interesting. I doubt the USA’s govt & agencies are set up to handle lots of unfiltered refugees with magic powers.

    Anyway, typos & similar.

    Because they were taking a long trip across the city, he’s summoned Isp and Osp, allowing them to play on his tablet since they’ve been uncommonly patient about staying hidden during their LA trip.
    The change of tense reads oddly, even if it makes some sort of sense here.

    be ask lucky
    be as lucky

    “Like when Cyn when
    “Like when Cyn went

    like god intended.”
    like God intended.”

    we’re off the launch
    we’re off to the launch

    with sapient crossover from
    with sapient crossovers from

    ex-cons are another.
    ex-cons are another.”

  3. Love the refugee comment. Extremely appropriate given current events. If this was intentional, excelent satire. If not… it is still great satire.

    • It’s been an idea for the War With Faerie for a while, but the insanity over the Syrian refugees made me decide to hit that chord harder, asking ‘well what if they really were alien monsters that can kill you instantly? Would that really change the fact that taking them in if they don’t intend any harm is still the right thing to do? What happens if you screw someone like that over and give them a reason to kick your teeth in?

  4. No, people jamming ‘First comment!’ on stuff has finally died out … don’t say it’s going to come back.

    Typos

    one fo the
    one of the

    places tht are
    places that are

    taking threading one arm
    threading one arm

    an add online,
    an ad online,

    should belive what
    should believe what

    exchanging looked before
    exchanging looks before

  5. creak = creek
    surpise combat = surprise comeback (maybe?)
    gray tomcat is indeterminate breed= gray tomcat of indeterminate breed
    imperious looks cats were so god at giving = good at giving
    liquid from the pouch out into the dirty = liquid from the pouch out into the dirt
    Soon enough,t he mudcraft = Soon enough, the mudcraft
    preserve autumn leaf = preserved autumn leaf
    The air around the artifice = The air around the artifact

  6. Typos

    (From the front page intro)
    on th emove
    on the move

    surprise combat
    surprise comeback

    creak
    creek (both instances)

    so god at
    so good at

    none of your languages can’t make
    none of your languages can make (removing double negative)
    (BTW, this sounds like a problem specific to English, and one solvable with a thesaurus at that.)

    into the dirty.
    into the dirt.

    enough,t he
    enough, the

    preserve autumn
    preserved autumn

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