I finally wandered my ass home. A man had kept me on the phone for the last 45 minutes about Sentinel, making me think we had another contract. Turns out he was looking for an insurance company. Nice enough guy though, I was kind of surprised his nasally voice wasn’t oozing through the phone after me.
Had an interview with some kid. Little bastard was chewing gum the whole time. I think his resume, which he unfolded from his pocket, had a ketchup stain on it. At least, I’m hoping it was ketchup. Fucks’ sake, who’s teaching kids manners anymore? I’m not perfect, but Jesus Christ, at least try to be professional.
So, I finally got home, ready to take a load off. Before I knew it, we were back out the door to find out exactly what the Autumn and Spring courts of the Fae were. A guy can’t catch a break I guess. I suppose I should be used to it by now. From what Connie was telling me, this was going to be big. Like, all-out supernatural war big.
We were going to need help. And that help was going to have to come from somewhere. The tactical advantage from quick traveling alone would be worth its’ weight in gold.
Of course, the potential gruesome death that came from trying to get that advantage was a bit more subjective.
We did some research. I got in touch with Dizzy. Of course, I had to be connected with the different departments. All of them were “run” by Dizzy, but hey, the guy was good. I’ll take a little eccentricity for someone who’s good at his job. The kid with the folded up resume, shit, I’d probably fire him for sneezing. He was able to dig up a little bit at least, after ensuring my line was secure and that the Grey’s hadn’t gotten through my tin foil hat, he spilled it. Spring and Autumn weren’t really mentioned anywhere, at least not for about, oh, say, 500 years or so.
The real information came from CoCo, or rather Corlaconsidhe. Turns that our Good Ol’ Pal Joransidhe is actually her father. While she wasn’t able to spill the beans, she was able to take us to him at the very least. Oh, and nevermind the fact that she’s fully grown at this point. I hadn’t seen her in so long that it surprised the hell out of me. She lead us through the Jello vortex (Connie’s tear into the Never. Shut up, I can have my nicknames for things.) The Never-Never is an interesting place. Beautiful scenery, castles and whatnot. Beings that could probably rend you in two with a thought. Trolls and Ogres aren’t really brush offs. They’re more likely to brush you off of their feet after they turn you into a puddle.
After a few minutes of shooting the shit with some of the lesser known lords, knights and kings of the Fae, we had our objective: release the Dukes of the Spring and Autumn court. They were somewhere out in the world and we had to go find them. Easy, right?
After we were able to free the Mantle, we had to go and get them back from Winter and Summer. Courts that were just as willing to kill us as release supernatural warriors.
Got it. Kill the monsters that are holding the Mantles. Retrieve the Mantles from the courts.
And don’t die.
For our first little foray, me and Connie had headed out to China. CoCo worked her magic, quite well I might add, to make us blend right into the rural village landscape. It helped a bit, since we could both understand Mandarin thanks to her glammer. It made it a hell of a lot easier when we’d thought up our next plan of attack.
We spoke with an elder of the village. A nice old man really. Asked us not to go, but he was smart enough to know we were going anyway. Even offered us tea if we came back in one piece. CoCo, of course, was happily bouncing along next to us as if no terrible death awaited us. I guess, for a creature like her, that was far more difficult than it seemed, but hey. I still see her as the littlefolk I originally knew her as.
We entered a cave after a trek that was punctuated by bitter wind and that northern chill that comes from being on a mountainside. Connie and I looked at each other and slowly made our way in, drawing our weapons. The cave was dark and didn’t make the cold any more bearable. My eyes strained to peer into the darkness and I noticed mirrors placed in some sort of pattern on the floor. I flicked on my light, and there, right in front of me, stood what looked like a parade float, except instead of fabric and vibrant color, it was a breathing, vicious looking dragon. You know, the ancient Wyvern sort of creature that shows up on your box of tea? Yeah, that. Except with about a million teeth.
I wasted no time putting a shell right into those scales. Luckily, it wasn’t exactly what it had seemed, and the shell was a fairly solid hit. Connie began to cut into it with her swords as it turned to face me. And when it turned on her, I pumped some slugs into its’ back. It eventually decided that it had to do something different.
A few moments later, a woman stood in front of us, apparently some sort of zombie. A look of terror and disappointment on her face as she looked right at Connie. I could almost feel the fear sweep through her, her mind and body frozen by a fear I would never truly know. There was recognition on her face and I didn’t have time to soothe that hurt. I did however, have the time to dish out some hurt on the asshole hurting my wife. I sprang up, pumping shell after shell into the Fetch. It darted back out of sight.
And then, there was Nicodemus, right in front of you. He straightened his tie.
“Desmond, you’re not dumb enough to think you’d ever really be rid of me are you?” he said, dusting some debris off his pristine jacket.
“Aren’t you glad to see me, Des, old boy?” he said with a sneer.
I felt sick. I felt angry. I was scared.
I froze, completely helpless against a creature that would probably try to rend me in two the next chance it got. The thousand-yard stare. All of it.
I didn’t even notice when Connie launched a wave of fire up Nic’s body.
The fetch burned to ash as I stood, frozen in my own mind.
Was Nic out there somewhere? I’d watched him die, but could he really be there? Was Akariel just waiting in the back of my mind for the one chance to kill me, or worse, Connie? Was a coin going to be forced back into my hand, and would I be lost forever to hell?
Someone grabbed my gun. A soothing voice accompanied it as they lowered the gun. I complied, unable to do anything else. Fear had paralyzed me.
“Hey, can I take this?” Connie asked, her voice full of love and concern. Some of the fear began to trickle out into the stone around me. She slung the gun over her shoulder, reached over, and embraced me, bringing with it all of the love and hope that had brought me back from the hell that I’d been in with the Denarians.
Connie pulled me back in. I didn’t have to thank her, a simple glance in the eyes told much more than I would have been able to say.
We made our way back out of the mountains, the trek made a bit more perilous by the coming dark. For the first time in quite awhile, I felt that I was indestructible. CoCo reappeared, apparently enjoying the half-assed tour of China. We returned to the village and had some tea with the old man.
Best stuff I’ve had in awhile. (Don’t tell Amber, but it beat the shit out of her stock.) The look on his face was a mixture of astonishment and gratitude on his face
Before we knew it, were traveling to Bosnia. CoCo cast another glammer for us, but I was surprised that I was still able to bumble my way through some phrases in the native tongue. It didn’t help that there were three official languages nowadays, but hey, you can’t win them all I guess.
After haggling with some 1980’s misogynist, we were able to get the information we needed. Well, I was. Connie got sidelined, just like she’d gotten with the Fae. I hope she knew I was sorry about it. I guess even beings of illimitable power don’t get with the times all too quickly. A local gypsy tried to con us out of some cash, which we gave her, more out of pity than anything. Later, Connie told me the potion she’d given her would force her to tell the truth for at least 2 or 3 days. I’m impressed by her in so many ways.
The plan was easy. Set up shop on the edge of town and draw the big baddy to us with bait. Of course, the bait ended up being Connie, the oh-so-helpless woman that she was. I set up in one of the non-descript buildings amidst a field of rotting 1970’s VW’s and Yugo’s. I swear, all of these buildings look exactly the same and haven’t changed since ’93, except for looking more run down.
After about 3 hours of scanning the horizon, I was starting to lose my edge. At least I had CoCo to keep me company. Of course, we couldn’t really talk, but just having someone there was nice. Connie, on the other had, had to be going nuts. I imagined she’d already counted each blade of grass twice. I checked in with her anyway, as I had been making sure to do about every 5-10 minutes or so. Telepathy is nice.
“Des, the trees.” she responded in my head.
Sure enough, in the distance,.trees were falling.
“Help me. I am so alone and helpless.” her voice steeped in boredom. “Whatever will I do.”
The troll rushed out of the tree line at her. No, wait, he rushed through it.
My .308 round caught it square in the side. It grunted and stumbled, and then turned back towards Connie. Helpless Connie hefted a car in front of her with a burst of magic and tossed it at him. The troll pulled a home run and my scope quickly filled up with a VW Microbus. I dove out the window just as the car had obliterated my last hide.
The troll turned back onto Connie and I started pumping rounds into it. His club, or rather, tree, slammed into the dirt far closer to me than I ever wanted it to be. As I distracted it, Connie tossed another car, this time, throwing it into his kneecaps.
The troll fell to the ground with a thud and I wasted no time emptying the rest of my gun into his skull. The mantle snapped back and the easy part was done.
That’s me: Desmond Waters, Troll Hunter.
We got out of there before the sounds of gunfire from my past caught up with me.
We went and spoke to Summer first. Mainly because it was the group that was slightly less likely to slaughter us outright.
It turns out that the prospect of sex can rouse the passions of even the most violently abstinent Fae. After quite a good amount of back and forth and trying to sort through just what had caused the rift between Summer and the Autumn and Spring courts,(all however many HUNDREDS of years of drama), we were able to broker a deal.
I slipped the contract. That’s right, I said contract, into my gear as we headed out, with one down and one to go. Pending the signature, they’d have their duke back, and the Queen would have her sexy time.
Winter is a fucked up place. Mab would just as likely torture us for eternity as work with us
So we called in a favor.
I stood in the kitchen, relishing a day off after taking down a group of “vampires” who were really just cultists of some despicable vein. I was looking forward to spending the day with Sarah. She was still sleeping so I grabbed a cup of coffee and stepped outside to get the paper. The sun was shining, and the chill wasn’t enough to numb me completely. Across the street I saw a familiar yellow, white, red and blue truck.
Desmond waved as he and Connie finished loading something in the bed. It looked quite a bit like plate armor actually. Knowing the line of work we had all ended up in, it was better to just leave it at a smile and a wave. I knew they’d be back in time for poker next week anyway. Something just told me that much.
I took a sip of my coffee and stepped back inside to finish breakfast for Sarah and myself. Screw what the AHA says. Bacon and eggs are the best of things sometimes.
Plate armor is fucking heavy. I mean, man, I’m in shape, but fuck. How did the knights of old do this?
Still, it was better than Kevlar against the Fae. Connie had to give me a potion to enhance my endurance, which helped a ton. Heh, get it? The potion made it bearable and I was actually feeling pretty good by the time we got in position.
We ambled up to the gate with two ogres guarding it. The plan was to sneak in, portraying Connie as a prisoner.
“What are you doing?” one of the guards asked, blocking our path with his weapon.
“Prisoner for the pits.” I gruffly replied.
How it came out was slightly different. Hey, I was working under pressure.
“Hello, fellow ogres! I am Shrek, ruler of these realms!”
The two ogres looked at each other. “What do you think you’re doing, human?”
Connie replied for me as she tossed a grenade at their feet. Turns out fragmentation grenades sound the same in every language.
I quickly finished them off as we slipped inside the gate. As we approached, Connie started to hurry in, but I held her back, noticing a difference in the tracks around the tower in the center of the courtyard. Something big was around here, but there was a curious lack of defenses. Malks rushed out from behind us as I spun and opened up on them, Connie igniting a bunch of them as well. They’re nasty in a group, but we were able to take them down before they even really got to us. Fire and lead work pretty damn well together.
The trolls on the other hand…
They took a little more work. I let the shotgun do most of the work, and then got ballsy and decided that punching something with steel would have to hurt them more (It doesn’t. My hand is still sore.)
Connie buckled one of them with an air spell while I poured shotgun rounds into the other. As one went down, Connie yelled for me to curl into a ball.
Anyone else, and I would’ve hesitated. But it was Connie and I trusted her with every inch of my soul.
Next thing I knew, I was laying on the ground, my head spinning from a possible concussion. I’d just headbutted a troll, aided by Connie’s air magic.
“That. Was awesome.” I managed, looking blearily to Connie as she helped me to my feet. “Let’s never do that again.”
We made our way into the tower, hoping to get in and get out. As Connie broke the seal on the tower, I felt the room instantly chill.
Behind us, stood the Queen of Winter, Mab.
We were fucked. Absolutely, positively fucked.
That’s it. The end.
Turns out she wasn’t very happy with us breaking into her realm for some supernatural warriors whatnot. Killing her folks didn’t do much for our case either.
On a desperate attempt at saving our lives, we brought up how it was really about how Autumn and Spring wanted to make amends.
It helped when Faraday and the rest walked in behind them to back up our story.
And then came the fun of sorting through 500 years of familial drama and lover’s quarrels.
Fourteen hours later, me and Connie had worn our voices out and our minds by playing family therapists to eight of the most powerful creatures in the world. All was right in the world of the Fae and we had our allies for when the time came. Autumn and Spring were perturbed by our declining of the Duke positions.
Honestly, the only person I trusted in my head was myself.
And Connie, of course. Telepathy and all that.
When she read my mind and put on some Jerry Springer re-runs and we dove into 4 massive bags of Mcdonald’s I couldn’t have been happier.
The world might fall apart, but we were safe for today. Besides, I had to be at Sentinel in the morning.
Chip, of course, was enjoying his own double cheeseburger as well. We didn’t forget him.
Supernatural wars aside, life is actually pretty good.