At the end of the day I always have one thing in my mind: fear. Fear of being ultimately alone, fear of losing all control and hurting those I care about. I turn that fear into pain that I inflict upon myself. But I need to feel this emotion. I need to feel fear (or anything for that matter) to remember I am still human. Only when I feel human will I truly succeed. ~Andrew on his final notes regarding emotions
“This is a nice place, I hope I can bring you here one of these days when the danger has subsided.”
Of all the places Andrew never thought he would be able to see, he couldn’t imagine actually being at Cafe Du Monde. The restaurant was impressive and he had hoped to bring Dulla here one day. But for now he needed to focus on his work. He had been working on a variety of leads As he ate his meal, he could hear footsteps coming up behind him as he ate his beignet peacefully as he looked at his notes. “You know, I caught onto your routine in less than a day. I know you are trying to follow me, but I do not know is where your loyalty lies.”
He heard the sound of heels clicking on the ground, not once turning his head as the woman behind him spoke. “Hm, so you are more aware of things than you honestly let on. I thought you were a tourist to be frank.” Andrew moved his hand, leaving the chair open for the stranger as he continued to read his notes. Before taking another sip of his coffee, he caught glimpse of the woman who was watching. She had been wearing a dark blue dress which matched her eyes, but what was more curious was that her skin was darker than what he would have expected. Filing it away, he took another bite as if he was waiting for the woman to give him his pitch.
The woman giggled as she looked at Andrew. “So serious, now why are you not able to smile I wonder?” He remained emotionless before saying “I’m on business, now speak your business.” She sighed as she softly put her foot against his leg. “Aw, don’t you want to play a little bit?” He could feel her bare foot touch his leg, but he remained stone like in his face before putting a small pouch on the table. The woman looked at the pouch with confusion before he spoke again. “This pouch contains an undetermined amount of uncooked grains of rice that I was able to barter for a little pocket change. I wonder what will happen if I spill it on the table?”
The woman stared at the pouch, her playful smile now vanishing as he untied the pouch slowly. Before he could pour the rice out, he felt her grab his wrist as she sighed softly. “Alright, you got me...I am of the fae race. More specifically I am a representative of the Unseelie court.” Andrew’s gaze never left her face, seeing actual honesty before he put the pouch away. “And the Unseelie court is,” he asked with a weary look on his face.
The woman sighed softly before waving for the waiter to get a cup of coffee as well. “The court is tied to the elements and the seasons much like many things in the world. For us we are tied to the earth and wind while our seasons are autumn and winter.” She could see Andrew’s gaze begin to glaze over, which made her rub the bridge of her nose while sighing. “Look, what you need to know is that the darker fae are a part of this court, including the dullahans.”
Hearing the word dullahan made Andrew snap back to attention as the blue rune glowed on his forehead. She smiled as he seemed more focused. “Good, now that I have your attention, the man you are looking for is our enemy too. He has been taking our kind for years, using their blood to prolong his unnatural life. We tried to save them before, but he was far too crafty and was ready with traps that are designed to stop fae in their tracks. But there is where we can help each other out.” She leaned in closer as she tilted her large fancy hat down. “You have magic that Jack is unprepared for, magic that can be used to distract him long enough for us to release our kind. If you do this, we would be more than happy to reward you for your actions. And if you think this is a lie, then let this be the judge.”
She showed him a series of pictures of various dullahan with Andrew now scanning through each of them before he pushed the pictures back to her. “You are wrong, the one I am looking for is not among them.” The fae continued to be serious before she tapped a picture having only one dullahan. Her hair was dark from what he could see from the picture along with her skin, but the most apparent trait there was were elven ears. “This is the dullahan you were looking for, her name is Dulla Coryela.”
Andrew’s rune on his forehead started to glow brighter as he seemed to get angrier. It was clear in his expression that he felt he was being lied to and the fae was trying to lie to him. For all he knew, Jack could have easily killed Dulla and he would not have known. The fae rolled her eyes before putting her hand up. “Okay I need you to calm down, you’re going to make a scene. But before you say anything I need to show you this.” She reached into her dress and pulled out what looked like a broken trinket. She set it on the table, watching as Andrew’s attention then went to the strange object. As he messed around with it, he could hear it click open and saw a few random objects fall out.
He seemed to be confused, but as he studied the objects with a single strand of blonde hair catching his eye. “The Coryela name holds weight to us. There is a lineage of them holding court for both Autumn and Winter. She was meant to hold court during the Autumn season, but something happened that forced our hand to help her escape with a new face.” He held the strand of hair and nodded his head. “So you used a glamour to hide her in plain sight?” The fae nodded her head, glad that this human seemed more aware than he looked.
Andrew remained silent as he seemed to be contemplative. “Say I believe you and Dulla was using a glamour. Why wouldn’t she simply tell me?” The fae looked up at the sky as she did an exasperated sigh. “She couldn’t, there is too much to risk. But I will say this: if you came this far for her, obviously you care about her.” He blushed softly which made the woman smile. “You don’t have to tell me anything. Passion is part of our creed and I can see your passion for her in your eyes. Although it would be hard to tell since you seem to have no emotions to speak of at first glance. However, you weren’t swayed by my advances, so she must have affected you deep down.”
She was about to take her leave before putting her hand on his shoulder. “And no, the reason you did it is not because of honor. I have seen into your heart, and you have some monsters in your head. But this is different, this is because of love and I can respect that. And as to my fellow fae who are taken by this man, I know you will save him too. And no, this will not be about honor either.” She leaned in closer to his ear while grinning. “It’s because you don’t want to kill him, you want him to suffer,” she whispered breathlessly. Andrew turned his head, seeing that she was gone.
The moon started to rise as Andrew stood at the foot of Jack’s mansion. His gaze remaining hard as he placed his palm on the door. He appeared to be gathering up his courage, but his eyes flashed bright with fury as he spoke sharply, “Nova blast.” A massive blast of energy shot from his palm, blowing apart the doors as he walked into the massive house. It was odd, no one seemed to be around. He almost thought that he was given false information until he heard a familiar sob. His memory flashed to Dulla, giving him speed in his step to reach the source.
Andrew kicked down a door, only to be met with the various swords of many female dullhan clad in bright red garments. As he looked at the many swords now pointing at his body, he could hear clapping. “Well, well, well...I’m quite glad you are here. Look Dulla, your special stranger has come to rescue you.” Dulla looked with tears in her eyes as she looked at Andrew. “Andrew...please I can explain...” but she fell silent as she saw him raise his hand to have her be quiet. She began to look fearful, but her expression changed when she saw his smile. “I know what happened. My people have something similar to what your people did for you.”
Jack chuckled as he shook his head. “Aw, how sweet of you to forgive her. Too bad it will not be enough this time. I should warn you, these are not illusions. They are more than able to kill you. In fact, let’s get this over with.” He snapped his fingers, making the dullahans charge right into him. However, they started to pull back as the bodies showed clear signs of fear. Andrew smiled, pulling out one of his golden coins as he smiled at Jack. “Should have stuck with silver with Ellen and her crew. Dullahans hate gold, you should know after all with all of the dullahan surrounding you.”
Jack clenched his jaw, standing to his feet as he grabbed a rapier from one of the dullahans. “If you are going to do something right, you have to do it yourself.” Andrew then pulled out his sword. It was a one handed blade that has a constantly shifting blade with the jet black face and a silver edge. Andrew charged head first into the fight, the two now sharing hits as they repeatedly swung their swords. Though Andrew’s strength was clear in his attacks, Jack had a considerable amount of experience compared to him.
The battle had waged for several minutes as Jack seemed to look bored. He continued to swing his blade before seeing an opportunity. He kept Andrew moving around, eventually finding himself seemingly surrounded and when the time was right he put the rapier through his chest. Dulla watched in wide eyed terror as she screamed Andrew’s name as he fell to the ground. Jack was beside himself, laughing for the first time as he walked triumphantly to Dulla’s head jar and grabbing it so that she would have a good look at her fallen champion.
Andrew’s breath was ragged as Jack chuckled to himself. “You have no idea how much of a pain you really were. But now that my Dulla is broken I have so many ideas I want to do with her.” Andrew began to gasp, but was trying to speak. Jack smirked as he knelt down beside him. “What? One last defiant word for your beloved? Go on, say to her what you were going to say to me.” Andrew panted heavily, moving his head closer and whispering into Jack’s ear, “Why would I care? I’m just an illusion.”
As Andrew said that, a thunderous sound erupted in the silence as Jack felt something pierce his body. As he looked down, he could see a hole in his shadow that was made. Before he could do anything however multiple shots rang out in the mansion and as Dulla’s head fell out of the jar she felt a strange black chain wrap around her mouth and pull her hard into the darkness. Jack caught this image and his eyes started to fill with rage once again. As he roared in anger, he stood up on his feet and was staring right in the eyes of someone who clearly wasn’t Andrew. Her blonde hair blew softly in the breeze as she fired one last shot through Jack’s heart, watching as Jack fell to the earth coughing up blood. He began to breathe faster, seeing himself now looking up at the faces of two men and one woman. The woman smiled as she looked at Jack before saying, “You have been weighed.” He looked at the older man who was clearly reptilian as he grinned to bear his fangs “You have been measured,” he said with a gruff voice. And the younger man with black tattoos on his face looked at Jack with contempt before saying, “And you have been found wanting.” Jack was confused, unaware what was going on before seeing Andrew’s grinning face saying, “Welcome to the new world.” After saying that, everything went black as Andrew punched him hard in the face, rendering him unconscious.
Jack groaned softly, feeling that he was now in a sitting position. His body was tied in heavy chains as he struggled to escape. He roared in anger before looking right from the other side of the desk to see Andrew. He growled as he sat back up again. “So, you were able to deceive in the end? If it wasn’t for the fact I want to put your head on my wall I have to give you my respect. Tell me, are those friends of yours?” Andrew nodded his head patiently as he seemed to be in his own little world. Jack simply chuckled as he looked at his enemy. “You really think you won? When I get out of this little chain trap you put me in I am going to...” he stopped talking as he then began to cough up blood. He looked at the blood in shock as Andrew continued to smile, showing him his arm and a bandage covering a cotton ball was present.
He continued to smile as Jack started to look on in pure horror. “You know, I kind of had a feeling that you can escape. A man like you probably would have means to break out, so I am going to leave you with a lasting punishment. While you were running out of blood I thought I would “contribute” by giving you my blood. Of course I have a bit of a condition with my blood as well.” Andrew pulled out a file, showing Jack in detail what was wrong with his own body. “The second heart does give me power, but there’s always a catch. My blood is magically corrosive. Thankfully it is only my blood that is corrosive, but that makes me quite unfavorable to a blood donation.” Jack’s breathing sped up as he realized what was going on: Andrew had found a way to rot him from the inside out. As his eyes grew wilder, Andrew smiled kindly before shaking his head. “She was right, I did want you to suffer. I know you will escape but I think making you impotent should be a good consolation prize.”
As Andrew stood up, he walked away while waving goodbye to Jack. “When I see you again, I wouldn’t be surprised if you look worse than the last person who crossed my path.” Jack could feel his mind snap as he screamed, straining against the chains as he continued to cough up blood. The purple magic sparking off in his body as he looked on with rage before Andrew slammed the door behind him, locking Jack away.
Andrew walked out of his mansion, sighing softly as he saw Dulla talking to his friends. She seemed to be in deep thought before walking to him. She had a concerned look on her face as Andrew smiled kindly. “Jack will no longer be a problem for you anymore.” Dulla put her hand on his shoulder as she looked into his eyes. “They told me about what you have in you...about your powers. Is it true? The fracturing?” Andrew had looked to the side as he nodded his head. “Yeah...price of having been linked to the ancients as long as I have. My mind, body and soul can fracture and I can exist in different universes.” Andrew looked to the distance as he spoke with a somber voice. “Listen, if you want to leave then I would unders...” he felt Dulla’s hand on his shoulder as she smiled kindly. “You accepted me for all that I am, and I accept you for all that you are.” He blushed softly as she kissed his lips before whispering into his ear, “I love you.”