Recap of Tale 18 . . .
Elrohir picked the globe up. “So you finally learned that Arda was round, did you? It certainly took you mortals long enough.”
“We’ve known the world was round since the fourteen hundreds,” Krystine snapped back.
“. . . I do not see Valinor here,” Elladan noted, spinning the globe slowly to view all of it.
“Of course not. Elves only exist in children’s fairy tales as far as most people are concerned.”
Legolas looked at the globe next. “Arda has changed a great deal since I last saw Middle-earth–more than I had thought . . .”
Dirnees peered over his shoulder. “Where did we land?”
“. . . Somewhere near here,” Elrohir answered, pointing. “I remember seeing that name.”
Krystine looked. ” Tallahassee? What the crap were you doing in Florida?”
“We landed there,” Legolas explained.
“Then Valinor must be near there.”
“We sailed west northwest quite a distance,” Elladan elaborated. He moved his finger slightly east and southeast from the coast of Florida. “I also believe I remember seeing that island to our north. So most likely we started from . . .”–he circled an area of ocean with his finger–“somewhere near here.”
“Holy mother of—!” Krystine blurted, unable to stop herself even though she knew Haldir would reprimand her for her continued loud voice. “That’s the Bermuda Triangle! You came out of there?!”
“Yes,” was Legolas’ confirmation. “Is something wrong with that?”
She slapped her forehead. “It makes perfect sense! The Valar wouldn’t want anyone to find it, so they made the place impenetrable . . .!”
“What is she talking about?” Elladan asked Haldir.
The older Elf traced the invisible shape on the globe. “The Bermuda Triangle is legendary for its unexplainable ability to throw off tracking devices. Many pilots of airplanes and boats have become lost within it–few have come out alive. The survivors speak of storm clouds developing right before their eyes at an accelerated rate and then becoming enveloped by them. Most people fear it or at least are wary of it, though a few are utterly fascinated by it.”
Krystine was dancing around the room, holding Phantom by his ribs at arm’s length from her. He chirped and fluttered his wing buds as Krystine sing-songed, “I know a secret! I know a secret!”
Haldir caught her. “You need to go to bed, young miss. Give me the little beast–I’m putting him outside for tonight.”
“Oh, but Papa . . .!”
“Wraith will watch over him just fine. Stop hogging a child that isn’t yours.” She stopped and gave him a strange look. “. . . What?”
She jumped and handed the grey Phantom over to him. “Oh . . . Nothing!” she replied with a nervous smile. “Nothing at all!”
Haldir scrutinized her as she skipped away, but could not understand her odd behavior. Ever since Phantom had hatched she had hoarded the small creature and made everyone but her mother swear not to go into her room without her permission or the consequences would be dire. This had worried him, but Marie had assured him that Krystine was not on drugs–she was just worried about her upcoming battle with the Evil and was validating herself by issuing `royal decrees’.
Whatever the reason, Haldir was quite aware that Marie was in on it and did not at all appreciate being kept in the dark.
Well, he would be sure to find out what it was before things were through.
“I still don’t understand why you just won’t let me fly with Wraith. It’s way faster and we could have slept longer.”
“Because your mother refused to fly and she wanted to be near you.”
“Hmph. So much for that. She’s asleep!”
“That’s not the point, Krystine. She’s still near you.”
Krystine sighed and unbuckled as she rolled down the window.
“Krystine, what are you doing?”
“I need to run a bit–work off some steam, I’ve been trapped in here for ten hours.” With that, she crawled out the window and flopped to the earth.
Slamming on the brakes was not a good idea when one was driving along a highway, so Haldir whipped around instead, ready to pull into the emergency lane to retrieve her.
Krystine, however, had landed on her feet like a cat and was already gaining on the car. In seconds she had matched its pace and was grinning through the front window at Haldir. She raised her hand in greeting. “Hello!”
“Get in the car!” he snarled. “You want someone to call the cops–or worse, the tabloids–on you?”
“So what if they do? They’ll never find me!”
“They’ll find this car! Get in!”
Sighing once more, Krystine opened the door and hopped inside. She buckled up and endured a painful punch in the head from her mother, who was in the back seat. “Never do that again! You almost sent me into cardiac arrest!”
Krystine muttered and slouched in her seat as she closed her eyes, her arms crossed petulantly. She drifted to sleep and slowly collapsed against Haldir’s arm, clutching the muscular limb so that he could only drive with his left hand. He did not like this, but as it kept Krystine asleep so that she could not take insane dives out of vehicles, he was willing to give up the comfort.
What seemed like centuries later, they arrived at the meeting place and found, to their horror, dozens upon dozens of news cameras all around. Krystine pushed through and grabbed Jonathan.
“What the hell are you doing?!”
He smiled the exact same infuriatingly calm smile he always had and said as he reached up to free himself, “You feared that no one would ever know what you did, so I took the liberty of summoning the most popular news groups from all over the world for you. NBC, CNN, BBC . . .”
She shook him. “They’re in danger!”
“Oh no! We shall fight waaaaay over there.” He pointed off behind them into the distance. “And they shall stay here if they enjoy living. The cameras have zoom capabilities–not that they will be able to follow our battle either way.”
“You . . . You . . .!”
“What? I try to do you a favor and you get angry at me?”
“You knew I didn’t want this! It isn’t fair!”
He grinned and pried her hands off his trenchcoat’s lapels. “Life is not fair, my dear Omega. The sooner you learn that, the longer you’ll survive.”
She slapped him and stomped away. A few seconds later she heard him ask the news people, “Saucy little tart, isn’t she?”
“Come, Alpha!” she called back to him, clearly irritated. “We fight!”
“Ah, at last!” he cheered, following after her. “I was growing ever so tired of skirting our purpose here!” He turned to the news crews. “No no! You all stay over there! Omega would never forgive me if any of you got hurt! We’ll stay within sight, I promise!”
Wraith and Ghoul lowered their heads so their masters had a higher vantage point. Jonathan smirked at Krystine. “I sense that there is something different about you, Omega. You received my gift?”
“So what if I did?”
“Should you kill me, it shall destroy the world in my stead.”
“I will kill it before it has the chance.”
“Ha! I am sure you could never bring yourself to do it! I can see you are far too attached to it to even force yourself into such a choice. Tell me, is it male or female? I am eager to know.”
“Then you will die wondering, for I will not say!”
He laughed. “I suppose it matters little in the long run. Either way, I win!”
“Only if you defeat me!” she declared.
As if on cue, both released their energy. It clashed and blue lightning zapped through the swirling powers so that sharp cracks of thunder shook the earth beneath the dragons’ feet. The energies then abruptly spread outward, forming a momentary vacuum as they gathered their strength. The news people were nearly knocked down by the sheer force and the cameras went to static for a few seconds.
The Elves braced against the expanding powers, Marie centered purposefully within the pentagonal shape they had taken.
[This is insane!] Dirnees called up to Haldir over the winds of energy. [This much power will kill everyone within fifty leagues!]
[And it is only a fraction of their full power,] Haldir replied. [They are doing little more than testing each other now.]
Alpha and Omega crouched on the heads of their dragons and the obedient creatures swung their heads upward, launching their masters into the sky. Then they followed, at each other’s throat as soon as they had the speed and leverage built up to utilize their fangs, tails, and talons appropriately.
The Good and Evil now each held an aura of power that they used as a buffer against the other. They bounced violently into and away from each other in bubbles of energy, oddly comical yet dread-inspiring at the same time. The bubbles slowly dissipated, leaving the pair to battle hand-to-hand. There was nothing holding either one back; both struck to inflict massive injuries on any part of the body that could be reached–no holds barred.
The dragons battled on, focused only on gutting the other.
On occasion Alpha’s right hand would meet Omega’s left and there would be a burst of power like the first; an invisible wave of energy that was preceded only by a five-second vacuum of nothingness.
It happened in one such point–a devastating blow to Omega.
The horror, fully unintentional, seemed to happen in a split-second.
The enormous crush of power . . .
The fragile human body caught between . . .
Terror seared itself on Krystine’s face. “Mother!”
The battle came to an immediate and mutual cease-fire; Jonathan followed Krystine to the earth, where the Elves had surrounded the human.
“Mommy?” Krystine bleated tearfully, shoving Elladan rather roughly out of her way. “Mommy?”
Jonathan pushed the news people back. “Come no closer. This is not your business.”
“You caused it,” one reporter contradicted. “So it is our business.”
In a motion that was too fast for the human eye, Jonathan snarled and put a rush of strength into his punch. The reporter who had spoken now laid on the earth, unconscious, the side of his face already turning black and blue. Jonathan was once more where he had been and cracked his knuckles warningly.
“Does anyone else want it to be their business?”
Marie, resting limply against Haldir, smiled weakly at her daughter. “I’m so sorry, Krystine . . . I promised I would stay out of the way and I . . . I ended up in the way despite that.”
“Mommy . . .” Krystine sobbed helplessly. “Mommy . . .”
“Can you not heal her?” Dirnees asked gently. “Could this not be considered an unnatural death? Like the deer?”
Krystine shook her head and Jonathan spoke from behind Elrohir. “Being shot is completely different from being crushed. Only a death involving man-made things–or my touch–are considered unnatural. Things that the Valar did not create themselves.”
Face twisted hatefully, Krystine turned on Jonathan. “Go away.”
He lifted his hands subserviently to her, bowed his head, and backed toward the news groups without a word.
Tearful, Krystine laid her head down on her mother’s chest, listening as her heartbeat came slower and fainter with each passing moment. “Mommy . . .” she murmured, clutching at Marie’s shirt and wiping her tears on it. “Mommy, don’t die . . . Please . . .”
Marie lifted a hand to pet her daughter’s hair. “You have always made me so proud, Krystine, and . . . and you would make me the proudest mother in the world if you . . . would face this threat and see it through . . . to the end . . . despite what has happened to me.”
She coughed and blood bubbled in her throat. Krystine whimpered and fisted her mother’s coat tighter. “Please don’t die . . . Please don’t die!”
Marie managed a soft coo of reassurance, a mother to the last whispered breath. “You . . . take care of . . . her . . . for me.”
Krystine sobbed harder as her mother’s heart at last came to a halt, mid-beat. “Mommy! Mommy!”
There was a moment of quiet and then Krystine, eyes blazing, got to her feet and bolted to where Jonathan stood alone, punching him once on the right side of his face, then once on the left.
“This is your fault!” she screamed.
He gave her a gentle look and embraced her, ignoring her struggling and her shouts to release her. After a long moment she gave up and collapsed against him, sobbing wildly.
“Your fault,” she insisted tearily. ” Your fault . . .”
He stroked her cheek with his thumb. “Yes . . . My fault . . . Then make me pay, Omega. Kill me.”
She drew back and snarled through her tears. “If you are so eager for death, I will gladly grant you that wish.”
So if part of that (particularly the power-clashing) sounded to some of you as though there were anime undertones, there are, I’m sure. It was not an intentional thing, but I am a big anime fan and watching as much of it as I have in my life, some aspects were bound to rub off on me. Therefore, if it happens to bother any of you, sorry. I didn’t mean it–it just happened.