Aiden finally can't stand it any longer. He goes back to Tallulah's in search of answers about Meridian. They both leave for Salem, not knowing the evil that has landed at Esmra's doorstep.
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Aiden and Chris were a couple of days into spring break and as they discussed, the pair had left out for a much-needed fishing trip together. Chris was all smiles as he ran down the bank of the fishing hole they always used. “Man, this is just like old times, isn’t it?” Chris shouted up to Aiden who was grabbing his gear out of his truck.
“Yeah, in some ways it seems like yesterday we were here. Time moves too fast.” Aiden made his way down the bank and sat as he fumbled through his lures for the perfect bait. After a few moments he cast his line and reeled in. “I texted Meridian last night, and I haven’t heard back. I can’t shake this feeling that there is something wrong.”
Chris let out a snicker. “Yeah man, she dumped you, that is what is wrong.”
Aiden pulled his line in to re-cast and he paused. “No smart ass, I really feel like something is wrong. I can’t shake it.” Aiden cast his line and went silent with his thoughts.
Chris feeling awkward for his statement sat silent for a while before he spoke up again, “Hey, I am sorry. I get it. Maybe we could go up to Salem and try to find her? Maybe find closure for you?”
Aiden raised an eyebrow but offered no response. He continued to stay silent during their fishing expedition. After a couple of hours, they loaded up and left to go back to Aiden’s. As they were pulling down the old dirt driveway, Aiden ran through his memories of his first date with Meridian and the night that the pair met each other at Stephanie’s bar. Aiden finally broke his silence, “You mean that? Go to Salem?”
Chris turned and smiled at Aiden. “Of course, I am here for you.”
Aiden put his truck in park and the two jumped out. “I think we need to go by Tallulah’s. I have questions before we do something like that.”
The best friends cleaned up and drove over, turning down Hieber Lane, where Tallulah’s house and Stephanie’s bar were. As they got out of the truck, they were noticed first by Talon and the guides who had arrived at Tallulah’s looking for her moments before.
“Look! It’s Aiden. Maybe something has happened?” Pramlee said to Talon.
Talon put his hand up to Pramlee as he watched his son walk to the front door to knock. “I don’t think so. I think my son took my hint. Maybe he will go after Meridian.”
Aiden knocked but there was no answer, however, Stephanie’s bar was heating up for the night. Aiden quickly nudged Chris and he pointed to Stephanie’s. “Over there, I bet she is there. Her car is still here. Let’s go.” The pair walked across the street and encountered B.F.D., who was the main bouncer for her bar. When Aiden was spotted, B.F.D. gave them a nod as Chris and Aiden passed by. They headed toward the back where Stephanie’s office was and they were greeted by Stephanie and Tallulah.
“Aiden! Oh my! It is so good to see you.” Tallulah reached up to hug Aiden as she was overjoyed with excitement to see him. “Oh, young man, you and I need to talk.” Tallulah tugged on Aiden’s arm through the bar leaving Stephanie behind.
Aiden willfully followed Tallulah despite her death grip on his hand as she trotted through the crowd of people in Stephanie’s establishment. All three made it inside to Tallulah’s where the guys took a seat at her old kitchen table.
Talon despite all his own rules to keep far from his son decided that he could no longer do so to ensure that Tallulah understood the danger she was in. Talon moved swiftly before the guides even noticed and was one of the rare times Talon would stand this close to Aiden.
“Tallulah, I know we are amidst spring but a person could hang meat in here.” Aiden said as he crossed his arms over his chest and rubbed his arms up and down with his hands to warm himself.
Tallulah paused as she was putting her purse on the table and reached for the pot to make warm water for tea. “You are cold? That is odd, I have not even turned the air conditioner on yet,” Tallulah said. “Oh my, that is a draft. We have company. The guides are here, and I am sure that is Talon.”
Aiden frowned and pulled his head back with confusion. “Talon? My father?”
Tallulah stood silent for a moment, “Aiden, we need to talk, and this is not something I am sure that Chris will need to hear just yet. Chris, can you give us a few moments?”
Chris stood up and smiled. “Sure Mrs. T, no problem.” Aiden handed Chris his keys to his truck and Chris left the pair alone to visit.
Tallulah parked herself at the table and before she could begin, Aiden’s active mind propelled him to start.
“When I came you explained who Meridian was before she took off. We never got into anything else. I barely got the story of her parents in Etheria and, of course, my father. Quite honestly, I could not wrap my head around who Meridian truly is. The only thing that gives credence to what you said, is her behavior and the small things that most people do or talk about. Meridian always seemed tense during those exchanges, like she was holding back,” Aiden said.
Tallulah sipped her tea and made sure that Aiden had a cup for himself. “Listen, there is an entire world you do not know a lot about. There is so much that you need to know, but I am not sure if it is the right time.” Tallulah stopped and looked around the room, distracted.
Aiden watched Tallulah stare at the space in front of her. “Tallulah? Are you, all right? What is it?”
“The guides, they are here. You don’t know full well, but they are communicating with me right now. It is Meridian, they are telling me she is in danger. With Raina. They are telling me that Esmra is in danger and that Luna has been kidnapped.” Tallulah paused from her explanations from Aiden.
Aiden’s confusion was rising, “Who is Luna?” Aiden asked shaking his head.
Tallulah gasped to herself, “Oh my. Oh my. We have to leave at once.” Tallulah grabbed Aiden’s hand that was rested on the table. “I can’t explain this right now, you need to trust me, we are leaving for Salem. You cannot bring Chris with you. He is not ready for what you will learn.” Tallulah jumped up from the table and headed toward the stairs.
“What? Where are you going?” Aiden chased after Tallulah.
She paused as she had one foot on the step. “Aiden, go back and pack a bag and meet me in an hour. Go now.” Tallulah continued upstairs and Aiden to text Chris so he could come back and pick him up.
Once they arrived, Aiden spent little time with explanations to anyone, even Chris who was puzzled, although supportive of Aiden.
Relic and Talon followed Aiden back, while Pramlee, Kieren and Ridge remained behind with Tallulah.
Talon was full of tension as he spoke. “Aiden senses I am around. He is gifted, more than I anticipated. I don’t understand why he does not sense you all.”
Pramlee shook her head, “Maybe because you are his father, did you ever think of that?” She smirked at the fallen one, who himself was amused with her observations.
As Aiden went inside to pack, the pair stood outside in the driveway could see him going back and forth in front of the window. He frantically packed and could be seen explaining what he could to Chris.
“Who is to say that he doesn’t sense us? He sensed Meridian up the road by the oak tree,” Relic said as he nodded toward the famous tree where many things had transpired between Earth and Etheria.
Talon examined the old tree that was at quite a distance from where they stood. “Yes, I remember. I felt as though it was more to do with Meridian and Aiden’s connection than anything else. Maybe you are right. I never notice him respond much to any of the other guides.”
Talon looked back up to Aiden’s window where his light shut off and he ran downstairs. “Chris, I am sorry, man. Just run me over to Tallulah’s. You can keep my truck and use it. Feel free to stay here.” Chris and Aiden jumped in his truck and left once more.
Once Aiden arrived back at Tallulah’s, he found her already standing outside her car having just thrown a bag in the back seat. Aiden jumped out of his truck to accompany Tallulah back to Salem.
It would be a long car ride back up north, with plenty of time to speak of the many things that Aiden did not know. Talon and the guides disappeared together and, in a snap, had arrived at Esmra’s house, and they marched right in to find her in her usual place.
Esmra sat quietly at her kitchen table reading with her usual cup of herbal tea.
“I know you are here. I know Tallulah comes and that I am in danger from Raina. She picked up on that much and told me with her phone call. I have to say it doesn’t surprise me. Raina consorts with demons and I know that she must have been up to something after Amelia dropped by here and told me that Raina requested more powder. The sacred blue powder that can make elixir.”
Esmra stood up from her table as she held the book in her hand. She continued to read from the book as she shuffled over to her sink to get a glass of water to drink. She made her way back to the table, barely making a break from the book with her eyes to find her seat again. Her eyes were droopy.
The guides and Talon watched the good witch as she continued her research. They were quiet in her company, mostly with concern and sympathy. With Luna captured in the dark realm, it would strain communications until Tallulah arrived.
Talon paced back and forth from the kitchen to the living room.
Kieren noticed Talon’s increasing tension. “What is it now?”
Talon stopped and looked at everyone, “If I have to, I will. I will do it.”
Pramlee shrugged her shoulders and Relic’s face showed doubt, however not without a one-liner for the moment, “You mean you will go demon hulk on Raina?”
Talon continued his pace. “Yes, I will protect Esmra or Tallulah from Raina, if it comes to that. There is nothing that limits me from harming a human. For you all it is against your laws.” Talon left the house and went outside to think.
In the fairy realm, things were heating up. Selena grew impatient waiting for news back from the guides on any updates. She paced back and forth as Orion stood silent. Rising from her seat, she brushed her long green dress away from the quick and short motions of her swift gait.
“I am finished waiting around. It has been too long to wait. My daughter is in danger, and it is time I take care of this myself!” Selena shouted at Orion.
Orion did not respond or engage, as he maintained his usual composure, he watched Selena continue until the door swung open.
There stood all five fairy nymphs, with ease and control, they strode in. Karma at her leisure poured herself a glass of the famous fairy-kooliade, as Relic referred to the drink of the fairies. She took a long sip as her eyes glazed over the top of the glass watching the other nymphs file into the room and gather.
Selena stopped pacing as she quietly moved toward Orion. She snapped her head around at Venus who had taken a seat next to the Selena’s empty chair.
“How is it you all are this calm!” Selena shouted.
Siren who had maintained standing closest to the door spoke up, “Selena, it is not that we are calm so much as we have never witnessed you in such a state. You are usually so controlled. We are unsure what we should do.”
Selena let out a sigh, her shoulders dropped down and her arms collapsed at her sides. She dropped her chin and scanned the room of nymph spectators.
“I never mastered the skill of being a calm mother. It is taking too long to hear anything. I will tell you what we will all do and that is portal to Earth. It is time for an intervention. Riddle or no riddle from the dark one, it’s time,” she said.
Siren and Karma shrugged their shoulders. Karma walked toward Selena who regained composure and seated her herself in her chair. “No offense Selena, but when is the last time you went to Earth? Last I knew, you rarely travel there anymore.”
Selena darted her amber eyes upward, staring at Karma. Her tension radiated through her scowl, and she drummed her fingers are the arm of the chair. Her long nails tapped, slowly. “Why not? Why should it matter that it has been a long time? I worry about Luna, I cannot take losing her once more.” She quickly lifted her head up. “We will all go. This situation with Warrick, these games must stop. Maybe Relic was right about the meeting Warrick called, we should have ended him then. But with the way things were going, especially with Meridian, I did not believe it was the right time.”
Selena left her chair and motioned for Orion and the nymphs to accompany her. Orion circled his large and long arms and, the portal laced with fire formed. Just on the other side was Earth. Without a pause or a glance over her shoulders, the regal fairy stepped through, accompanied by Orion and the nymphs.
A few yards from Esmra’s house, the ground gave away to a shake, the water-like appearance of the landscape grew in splendor from just a small floating bubble. Now large enough for all to pass, in all their magnificence the fairies graced the glum surroundings of a barren field across from Esmra’s house. Their glowing appearance and striking eyes stood out in the dark horizon. The group appeared to float across the ground as they walked.
As the fairies approached Esmra’s house, the guides immediately spotted them. Esmra jumped to her feet from her book to greet the fairies.
Siren and Venus were the first ones to approach Esmra.
“Hello, Esmra, it is good to see you again...You know why we are here.” Siren nodded to Selena who made her way toward Esmra followed by her trusted advisor, Orion.
“Yes, we need not waste any time. Good to see you here, Selena. Your trips to Earth are rare. I have been working here with the guides on this riddle, and during this time I received a frantic call from Tallulah. She said she and Aiden were on their way here. She knows that Luna has been kidnapped, that Raina has an arrangement with Pyro. Raina has been instructed to kill both Tallulah and me by this demon. I guess to bring favor to her.”
“I am aware of Raina and her ways, strangely though, fairies usually sense most things. Unless of course the evil influences come from a stronger demon, we may not. This is disturbing news my daughter is kidnapped, again in the dark realm and this human, a dark witch. The guides did tell me of the demon riddle from the dark one. Now that we are all here. Let’s put things together.”
Everyone followed Esmra back to her table where she had been reading and attempting to understand the variables of the riddles that Pyro put out before Meridian left, and the most recent riddle from the dark one.
“It has been a couple of days and the dark one wants this riddle answered soon. As a witch and like many, I recognize astrological references when I see or hear them.” Esmra pointed to the riddle she had written down on paper.
“The deceiver arrived in the time of new. Well, that may mean a birth or an actual arrival, possibly. Or it may represent a season. That would be the spring, in the time of new. So, I wrote all the signs are of spring. They are Aries, Taurus and Gemini. The riddle stated, ‘the sign is a part of a word.’ For example, Aries is the ram. Taurus is the bull and Gemini represents twins.
So, I went around and around with words that could be worked into the signs. ‘Symbols run to and fro,’ Esmra continued, “What threw me was ‘which way will margana go?’ I was stumped until I got the call from Tallulah telling me about Raina. So, it hit me.” Esmra shuffled through her papers, “Raina runs the bar, and the name is an anagram, a reverse one. I sold her that bar years ago. I named it. Nevoc spelled backwards is Coven.” Esmra pointed out all the writing she had been doing to uncover the riddle, “Margana is the word anagram spelled backwards. But the demon said, ‘which way will margana go.’ Well, anagrams can go any which way, at least I think they can. Now, another point is here, take her name and rearrange the letters. The letters in her name can also spell ‘Arian’ or Aries which is a ram. See the word anagram. The last three letters are ram. It is Raina. Her birthday is in April, spring, the time of new. The sign for Aries is the ram.”
Relic and Kieren stood at the table listening as Ridge and Talon whispered amongst themselves putting together what they could.
Ridge was taken back but relieved, “Well, that is complicated but makes perfect sense.”
Relic jabbed Kieren in the side, “Wow, the old crazy witch pulled it off!”
Pramlee, who always could be counted on to put Relic in his place, slapped him over the head. “Really? Be glad she can’t hear you saying those things!”
Ridge scratched his head and right along with him, Kieren’s look was that he was lost. The fairies remained silent as the humans worked out the riddle.
Siren said to Ridge, “Ridge, I we all do not know you that well, that we all just saw one another at Warrick’s meeting he called last. I couldn’t help but notice you look confused. Is there something you think Esmra has miscalculated?”
Ridge nodded as Siren spoke, “Yes, not the riddle. I do not understand when Kieren, Relic and the rest made their trip to the dark realm, why would the dark one help? Give us a riddle we or someone else could answer. It makes little sense.”
Karma knew exactly what the reasoning was along with the other fairies and said, “So, Ridge, you understand that the dark one made it easy. He hoped that you all would come and bring Luna along. That way he could kidnap her and inspire Selena to not aid you all and turn the fallen ones back to their original form of being spirit guides like yourself. That is why it was so easy.”
“Why have you all come? I mean I am not complaining you are here.” Relic was googly eyed over Lotus who sat quietly and shyly behind Echo.
Selena interrupted the conversation and said, “Relic we will ensure the return of my daughter and to expedite all communications between the fairies and Esmra. Now we have the answer to the riddle, you all must leave and go to the dark realm. I am sending Orion and the nymphs. I fully expect that Raina will soon make her appearance and do as Pyro has instructed. Although, she will be possessed by a demon, she will not be herself.”
Kieren interrupted, “What do you mean possession?”
Venus made her way through the group to speak. “She will be possessed. Have you all not been paying attention to what is happening here on Earth?”
Talon said, “Yes, Lahash spoke of it. The first night I met him, he spoke of all they will make the tales of possession a reality if the dark one was to find out that things were not going the way that he and Warrick had planned out. I am assuming this is the beginning?”
Venus nodded, “Yes, this is the start. Soon the human possessions will begin and Earth will be in chaos. However, we have some other pressing issues to tend to as well as get Luna, but first Karma has a message for all of you.”
Venus stepped aside as everyone gathered around Karma.
“As you all know, we are elemental fairy nymphs and we are the fairies of desire, temptation and lust. Now that is not all we are good for.” Karma smiled in amusement hearing her own words and watching the faces of the guides and Talon.
“We use those powers to get things we want, and it usually works. Each one of us rules an element and that element gives us our own unique ways we use our power. Much like the elements we rule, those elements make us who we are and shape our personalities, much like birth signs of humans. Air rules Venus; her planet ruler is actually Venus which rules love. Yes, we influence love, but that is more Venus’s area. She rules true love. She has come to help Meridian in her challenge of finding her twin soul. Not any of us would see who this is, and we realize that she is under a dark and evil spell from Raina, who must get this level of power from the dark realm. For me, I am Karma and I am not ruled by any element, however I have my own uses. Selena will tell you our plans.”
“As I said, Orion will accompany the guides back to the dark realm. Siren and Lotus will make the journey as well. With Siren’s fire element in opposition of Lotus in her water element will be protection in the face of the dark one when you deliver his answer to the riddle. An answer he will not expect you to have guessed, or even come close. He will not be happy, and I can’t foresee what will come of that realization.” Selena cut her eyes back to the guides. “Karma and Echo must make their own journey to gain the quartz sword. This sword is made of the purest of Quartz and it is the only thing that can kill a demon and can kill Warrick. Quartz comes from the Earth, however blessed by the keepers, the angels that live in the hall of souls.”
Relic was amazed at the many more new things he was learning about his own realm, that had been kept in secrecy. “Where is it? Why have we never heard of it? Why were the keepers keeping a secret?”
Talon who had been at the other end of Warrick’s deception understood and said, “Relic think about it. Warrick is obsessed with power and control. He will destroy families and lives to keep the illusion he was in power. Many religions believe that there is a supreme being or beings. A higher power. Warrick couldn’t stand the thought of it not being him. He is a demon, full of deceit and disguise and we believed what they taught us when we left our human lives for this existence. They taught us in the essence of doing right and for the good of humans we watch over, that we were it. That there were no other beings in the Universe that would see that prayers were answered, lives were saved, or peace could be made.”
Talon looked down toward the ground while softening his speech, “The humans we watch over believe in that higher power as we did once long ago when we were human. Guides are simply the evolved souls of many lives that learned many lessons and made the choice to help humans. With every soul that evolves, it is with the hope that through that evolution humankind would evolve to such a state of enlightenment and for the betterment of themselves. It makes sense that Warrick would cast away guides who were good. It was meant to stop the continual evolution of humans. We do not live forever. We were meant to die a guide death and return to the hall where our souls could transcend again to a new life that is brought into the world. If he stopped that, then what would be left for demons to feed from? Nothing!”
Selena’s careful eyes studied the guides’ reaction to the words Talon shared and said, “They cannot exist without the downtrodden, the vile, and the greed of man. Nothing stops with you all as guides. It begins with you! It is like a human parent who when they bring a child into the world, want that child to be better than they were. Have a better life in some ways. Spirit guides are the hub of humankind. The keepers, the Angels that have been locked away and hidden from you, that reside in the hall are the source of the Universe’s power. It is from the angels’ source of power in the Universe that souls are created, nowhere else.”
Tears rolled down Pramlee’s cheeks as she listened to a fallen and a fairy speak of such things she never knew. The one being who stood at the bitter end of Warrick’s vile ways, see things so clearly. To explain something as grand as this was humbling to know that who they were truly were remained so small in the grand scheme of things.
Relic asked, “Ok, where do the fairies fit into this?”
Selena said, “We don’t fit into this. We are the beings who were not good enough to be an angel but not bad enough to be a demon. Some fairies help humans pass over to the next life when they are lost, like a ghost. We exist to serve humans, just in a different way than you do. You all will have to trust that Karma and Echo will make the journey back to Etheria for the angel’s blessing and from there the search for the quartz sword will commence. It will certainly come with challenges and that is getting past Warrick.”
Pramlee was jumpy and fidgety as usual, but this time it was different. She was politely holding back what she wanted to say until after Selena finished. “What about the rest of the riddle? The mark? I saw Meridian had a tattoo under her shirt, but I couldn’t make out exactly what it was. Don’t we need to find that before we do anything?”
Selena remained puzzled for a moment but then her words illustrated that she saw Pramlee’s point. “Of course, yes. Knowing who the deceitful one is wasn’t that hard to figure out, but this mark has something to it.”
Pramlee jumped up and clapped her hands with joy as she tightened her whole body and slipped toward Relic. “Ok, now we have to find out what this mark is. I will do it. By now Meridian has to be done with her shift. Let’s go.”