Aidan watched as the faerie Queen's handmaiden's prepared the area that would soon keep Gideon bound for the challenge. They moved in silence more like a sheet blowing in the wind floating as they worked. He watched quietly, staying in the far corner. He had always loved to watch faeries, they could be so graceful when they felt safe, but although peaceful by nature, they could become quite vicious when they need to be. He missed this part of his former life, he thought back to his earlier days when faeries were free to roam his kingdom and allowed to show their true form within the grounds of his Keep.
What he missed most was his dearest friend, Finnbheara, the Faerie King. He smiled when he remembered being hunched over their Fidchell board, a strategy game that would sometimes go for days and days. Some games lasting so long they would have to leave the board set waiting for Finn's next visit. Finn would smile, a twinkle in his eye as he claimed Cuchulainn himself taught him the game. Cuchulainn was the son of Lugh, the Sun God and supposed inventor of the strategy game.
"I beat him once you know," Finn said, trying to distract Aidan from his next move,
"No one thought it possible but…" he paused as Aidan completed his next move, "he made a move just like that one. And what a shame it was because he was doomed from that moment on."
Aidan would just shake his head and respond, "We have been playing this game for 100 years now and you tell that same joke every time you are losing. You need to work on that, my friend."
The memory of the exchange was so fresh in his mind he could still hear Finn's booming laugh. He cried when he found the board, his gold pieces set waiting for Finn's bronze piece to make the next move, so perfect, frozen in time as if Finn would be back to complete the game. It had been stored with him in the room he was laid to rest in, a final homage left by his friend, no doubt.
The handmaidens finished their work, lighting the flame on the last of the two fire bowl columns. One placed on both sides of the area were Gideon would soon stand to face him. He knew the scene about to play before him would be torture him, for both of them. He crossed to the fires as the servants left the room, letting his hand drift back and forth across the flames. Vampires were naturally afraid of fire, but being the last of the Dragon Clan, his kind were immune to fire. He scooped his hand into the licking flames, bowling his hand to hold some of the fire. He lifted it up and looked into the red dancing in his hand, trying to still his heart from the dread it felt.
"I see you still enjoy playing with fire." The soft lilting voice broke him from his reverie. He turned to find Uonaidh, the Faerie Queen standing in the doorway. She drifted in, the light blue of her gown whispering across the floor. She was a tall slender being with fine silver hair that fell to her waist, her eyes of the same color held a sense of joy and sadness as she looked at him. She had pale skin that seemed to glow in any light or dark space, light flecks of glimmer highlighting her checks. She smiled at him with her plump perfect lips. She still had a stunning figure, which her gown accentuated, with its deep V shape exposing just enough of her breasts to keep a man interested, her hips swayed under the shimmering gossamer like material.
"And what are you thinking about so intently," she teased with an inviting smile.
"I was thinking how I never understood why Finn was so infatuated with human women when he had you as a wife." Aidan answered as he kissed her hand.
"Shameless Aohdan, I see your internment has not dulled your flirtatious ways." She laughed, "I have missed you old friend, so terribly much." She opened her arms to him and he gladly accepted the embrace, "As I have you, my queen."
"I waited so long for your return. I was worried it would be another millennium before the right one would find you and wake you."
"I..I don't understand?" Aidan replied confused.
"Finn said I was insane, but I told him I did not think you really dead. I had such hope, I could not let it go." He could see her eyes darken at the memory, "My spell to protect your tomb and your property, was not just to keep it as a memory. I had hoped to hide you and protect you until it was safe. Until it was time for you to live and love again."
"Love again, Uonaidh, what did you do?" Aidan asked, not in anger but in some denial. He knew the answer but he did not want to believe it.
"Do you think it was a coincidence that the girl would just, oops, fall and cut herself in just the right spot?" She smiled at him, talking to him as if he were a simple child asking if the rain was actually God's tears. "The spell could only be broken by your true love, your soul mate, the one that Mother earth wants for you."
"Uonaidh, how could you know there would ever be anyone? I was so near death when she found me, even your spell could not have slowed time down enough to keep me alive forever. What if she never stumbled on to the place? What if her brother and her went the wrong way that day, what if…"his questions stopped when she lifted her finger to his lips.
"She would have found it. She was not aware of the why or the how, but she was drawn to that place. They were not lost; she is the one who pulled her brother in that direction. She was the one who kept saying, 'Let's go this way, one more block, one more street, let's try going to the left.' Your heart was calling to her even then, my lord."
Aidan fell back into a chair, his mind racing thru his memory of her, how he was floating in a dark hole starving, the scent of her blood waking him, the void descending. He was bound to her at that moment, able to see the world thru her eyes. The joy he felt when he was able to break thru to her dream, her life force flooding into him each time he met her. Those first visits were not enough to break him from his hole, but it sustained him, keeping death at bay a while longer. He remembered still the first taste of her blood on his tongue as life flowed thru him again, allowing him to break completely free of his tomb.
"This was meant to be Aohdan, you shouldn't fight nature, for she will always find a way." She said as she stroked his hair.
"Ma'am" a soft voice floated from the door, "It's time."
"Yes, go and bring me this Gideon." She said pulling herself away from Aidan, straightening her shoulders and taking a deep breath, preparing for the battle she was about to perform.
Thanks for continuing to read! I love to hear from you so please keep the comments coming!
The challenge (chapter 20) was quite the, well, challenge, but I figured it out and am starting to write it now, it's going to be juicy. ~Mahvash.