Chapter 31: Alis volat propriis

“She flies with her own wings.”

I found this quote today.  It was very appropriate.  Today, my oldest child graduated.  It’s quite the paradox for a parent, I think.  It is a moment of great pride… and one of terrible sadness.  It marks a great transition in the life of a Sim in this day and age.  I wish I had thought to ask my grandmother what it had been like in times past.  But then I didn’t understand the significance, I suppose at the time.  But now, it is indelibly ingrained.

It was raining, so we all hurried out in our nice clothes to Dad’s waiting van.  With so many of us, the van is the only vehicle we can really take.

Oh yes… So much has been happening of late that I didn’t mention that we lost Megara a few days ago.  That’s why my poor mother is grieving a bit in that picture.  It was an inevitability, really.  She pined around the house after Hercules passed.  But now she can join him again, wherever they are.

Where was I?  Oh yes, Luna’s graduation.  Jeff was on one side of me, Alduin on the other.  As I watched my daughter go across the stage, I couldn’t help but glance over at my boy.  Before I knew it, he’d be the one walking across the stage.  Time surely does fly…  The ceremony was relatively short, but I swear, the speeches also seem to take forever during this. Some of them are quite good, but still.  Brings back flashbacks of my own graduation.

The ceremony ended and we all headed out.  It was official.  My little girl was no longer so little.  While Alduin went off to go read one of his beloved books, Luna asked the rest of us if we could talk.  I felt a shiver of trepidation run down my spine.  My daughter had learned as a child to shield, both from getting stray thoughts, but also from broadcasting her own unless she wants to.  Strong thoughts still get out and emotions still flare up around her… she’s such a passionate person, it’s bound to happen.  I’m not sure if that trepidation I was feeling was from me or from her, honestly.  All I knew is I was dreading this talk.  Honestly, I was afraid she was announcing her intention to join the force full time.

Still, we all assembled at the dining room table.

Luna cleared her throat and we all sat down.  We looked at her expectantly.  My daughter bowed her head for a moment.  When she raised it, the determination in her eyes made me wither a little inside.  “I know you guys are worried about me,” she began slowly, looking each of us in the eye.  “And I appreciate that, I really do.”  She drew in a deep breath.  “I have decided [i]not[/i] to continue with the police department.”

A collective sigh of relief ran around the table and I closed my eyes in gratitude.  But something made me open them again and that feeling of trepidation returned with a vengeance.

“I want to become a private investigator.”  She looked at her grandfather and looked at him tenderly.  “I’ve always admired you, Pop, you know that.  And I believe in what they do.  But… just too restrictive for me.  I believe in the system, I do… but I’d be too afraid of taking shortcuts because the ends justify the means.”

We all looked at one another.  Dad spoke first.  “I understand your reservations there.  Luna, you know we’ll support you in whatever you want to do.  Being a PI would suite you quite well, I think.”  He grinned at her.

But she didn’t meet his gaze fully.  “I… Pop, there’s something else.”  She looked around at all of us again.  Her voice was quiet.  “Since I was little, I’ve had dreams.  I’ve told you about them.  I need to figure out what they mean.  To do that… I need to go to Bridgeport.”

Silence stunned the table and we could only goggle at her.  I couldn’t get any words to form as my mind went into a tailspin.  Dad looked stunned, Mom was biting her lip.  It was Jeff though that finally spoke.  “Luna… you’re 18 now,” he began, though I could see the war within him.  “Y-you’re old enough to make your own decisions… but… have you thought about this?”

Luna nodded.  “I’ve thought about this, Dad.  Thought about this for years now.  I thought about ignoring the dreams… but I can’t.  I need to find out what they mean.”  She swallowed visibly.  “I don’t want to hurt any of you.  But this is something I have to do.  Do you understand?”

No, no I didn’t understand!  She couldn’t go to Bridgeport, not to that cursed place!  But I still couldn’t speak.  Jeff was right… she was old enough to make her own decisions, so I remained silent.  Luna smiled at all of us.  “I won’t be leaving right away.  I have to get my PI license squared away, though I’ve started the paperwork on that.”  She stood up and the rest of us followed.  Smiling as if she hadn’t sent us all into turmoil, she went off to presumably check on that paperwork.  I stood there stunned for a long moment.

Dad tapped me on the shoulder.  “C’mon,” he murmured, “let’s go grab some of those burgers your mom made earlier.  Then we can talk.”

I nodded numbly.  As I sat at the island next to Dad, he was silent for a moment, thinking.  “Aurora, letting your kids grow up is one of the hardest things you can go through.”  He looked at me.  “I don’t like it any more than you do, baby, but… Luna needs to do what she thinks she has to.  ‘She needs to fly on her own wings’.  You were much the same.”

“But she’s going to Bridgeport!” I hissed.  “How can you be ok with this?  That place has haunted her dreams for so long…”  Tears stood in my eyes.  “Dad, I keep seeing you in that hospital room and-and even worse, in that- monster’s office.  How can I let my baby go there?”

He didn’t speak right away.  Dad had always been one for thinking on what he said.  “When we love someone, we have to let them go.  We’ve prepared her the best we can, baby.”

“Luna’s tough,” a little voice interjected.  Alduin had come out to play a little chess.  He must have heard the conversation.  “S-she’ll be ok.”  My poor boy only knew some of the stories about what had happened to his grandfather.  But what he knew was bad enough.  “Right, Pop?”

Dad smiled at his grandson.  “Right, kiddo.  Your sister’s a smart cookie.  She’ll be ok.”

I wish I could be as confident.  I knew what Dad said made sense.  But that tightness in my chest wouldn’t go away.  Luna came out from her room and smiled at me.  The chair scraped along the floor as I got up.  “Luna…” I murmured.  I’d be calm about this.  I had  a right to voice my concerns, didn’t I?”

“You can’t go!” I blurted out.

I should have known better.  In this family, the surest way of getting someone to do something was telling them not to do it…  My daughter’s eyes narrowed.  “Mom, you don’t have a say in it.  I’ve already found an apartment.”

“I won’t give you the money!” I snarled.  Anger swirled with fear to the point I just couldn’t see past them.  I was desperate to stop her.  Desperate to keep her safe, even if she hated me for it.  Again, I should know better, though…

Her eyes turned icy and her chin went up.  I knew that defiant stance all too well.  We were a family, a close one.  But we fought.  I remembered that look all too well from the one rather large argument we’d had when I tried to convince her to go to her prom.  She’d dug her heels in, saying she just didn’t feel like going.  “I’ll pay for it myself then,” she hissed, “I have some money in my savings still.  You aren’t going to stop me, Mom.”

I opened my mouth to argue, but then I just burst into tears.  Sobs wracked my body.  Immediately, my daughter threw her arms around me and pulled me close.

“Mom,” she whispered.  “Please, I’ll be ok.  I-I need to do this.  Just like you needed to go to University.  To prove that you could.  I- need to know.”

Swallowing my tears, I pulled back and looked at her.  I saw her then, for the first time.  She wasn’t just my daughter.  She was a grown woman now.  She had the right to decide what she wanted to do with her life.  We weren’t normal.  These gifts we had made us who we were.  To deny her this would be unfair, even cruel.  “Yes, you’re right, baby.  You do need to do this,” I whispered, though each word took a sliver of my heart with it.  Oh Watcher… my baby was going to Bridgeport…


 

The last few days have been a bit of blur.  Once the family all agreed on helping Luna go to Bridgeport- we were going to do all in our power to ensure that would be as ready and as protected as we could arrange without knowing the future.  She’d showed us the pictures of the apartment she’d found online.  It was a nice little place, truth be told.  “Have you talked to the landlord yet?” I asked her.

“A little, mostly through email.  His name’s Roark Donovan and he seems nice enough.  He told me the apartment has been redone, all new fixtures, appliances, the works.  And it’s already furnished, so that’ll be nice.”

Something about the name struck a chord in me, but I couldn’t place it.  “That sounds lovely dear.  So…”  I grinned.  “I know you leave tomorrow.  Why don’t we have a little family pool party?  The weather’s beautiful.”

Luna grinned and did a little boogey.  “That’s a great idea, Mom!”

And so, we all ended up in the pool, splashing one another, having breath holding contests and other foolishness.  My mother, by the way, always wins.

I had to have a bit of fun, so I snuck out of the pool, then ran up onto the diving board and leapt in, tucking my knees tight to my chest.  I hadn’t done a cannonball since I was a kid.

“I give that splash a solid 6!” my son called out as he wiped water out of his eyes.  “Form was a little off, though.  Coulda gotten a bigger splash!”

He squealed when I reached for him, intending to dunk him, but the little brat escaped.  As my family cavorted among the gently lapping waters of our pool, I climbed out and looked at them all.  Tears gathered in my eyes as I realized this could be the last time we’d be together as a family like this.  I began to sob; nothing I did seemed to help.

Jeff saw me and got out, wrapping his arms around me.  “It’ll be ok, baby.  Sshhh,” he whispered, nuzzling his cheek against him.  “She’s a strong girl.  Just like her mother.  She’ll be ok.”

After a moment, he put me at arm’s length and smiled.  “Someone else wants a moment with you.”

Luna stepped up and then grabbed me in a hug.  “Mama, please don’t cry,” she whispered.  “I can’t stand to see you cry.”

“I’m your mama,” I whispered back.  “I have to cry when I know my baby’s leaving.  I love you.”

“I love you too, Mama.  I promise, I’ll email or call every other day.”

I looked at her suspiciously.  “I thought the deal was for you to do that every day…”

“Well, I’ll try,” she replied with a grin.  “But if I’m on a case or something, might be better to say every other day, right?”

“Hm… I suppose…”


 

Why is it that when you want time to slow down, it seems to speed up and when you want it to speed up, it seems to take forever?  My father says that it’s a conundrum that will never be solved.  I suppose he’s right.  But that evening flew by.  After our dip in the pool, we went back in the house and sat around the living drinking hot chocolate and just laughing and sharing stories.  There was still a tension there, an uneasiness about the unknown.  But sitting there, with all my family there, I begin to believe that it will be alright.  It has to be…

And now, it’s 4 am and we’re all gathered in the kitchen.  Mom gave Luna her car.  She’ll drive it to the airport, then it will be ferried to Bridgeport for her.  Her stuff was all packed and ready.  Since her apartment was already furnished, she didn’t need much and despite Luna’s glamorous appearance at times, she was a light packer.  We all milled around, waiting to say our goodbyes.

Luna started with Mom first.  As my mother squeezed her granddaughter in a surprisingly strong grip, I heard her murmur, “You take care yourself, girl.  Don’t take any nonsense, alright?”

“You got it Nan.”

Next, it was her father’s turn.  Jeff put his arms around her.  “Take care, baby girl.  You know you can call me anytime you need to talk.”

“I know, daddy,” she murmured.  Her voice was thick with emotion already.  I realized that this was something she wanted, but it wouldn’t be easy for her, being away from her family.  Shame flared in me.  I hadn’t made it any easier on her by acting the way I had.

She came to me next.  “Mom,” she whispered, her voice cracking.  I grabbed her into a hug, holding tight.

“We love you so much, Luna.  I’m sorry.  I just… I’m going to miss you.  Be careful, alright?”

“I promise I will, Mom.  I’ll be careful.”

Alduin waited there, looking off to the side.  It was hard not to notice the bit of moisture in his eyes.  He looked up at his big sister.  “You’ll write and call won’t you?”

Luna smiled and gently ruffled his hair as was her habit.  Normally, it elicited a boisterous response with a lot of pretend griping.  But just then, my son sniffled and he flung himself at his sister.  She held him tightly, closing her eyes a moment.  “Hey,” she whispered.  “Remember what I told ya, ok?  Don’t be afraid to be who you want to be.  But don’t hide yourself away all the time, either, alright?  I love you, lil brother.”

“I love you, too, Luna.”

Lastly, she went to my dad.  He grinned at her and held out his arms.  “C’mere kiddo.”

I heard the catch of her breath and a soft hiccup of a sob as he wrapped his arms around her.  “I have every faith in you, Luna,” my father told her.  “You’re so strong.  And you know we’re here for you.  We’re only a phone call away and can be in Bridgeport if you need us in a matter of hours.”

“I-I know, Pop.  Thank you.”

“Take care of yourself, my little Eclipse.”


 

 

As the family gathered around her one last time, Aurora stepped forward, a large book clutched in her hand.  “Your grandfather and I talked it over, Luna.  It’s time.  You’re ready to take over now.”  She placed the book in Luna’s hands.  Luna’s gaze met her mother’s.

“I’ll do you guys proud, I promise.”

Aurora sniffled.  “Oh baby, you’ve always made me proud.  Now, go out and show them what a Wyvern can do, ok?”

Then, Luna turned away and left.  She didn’t dare look back until she was in her Nan’s car.  She saw them there, her mother and father, her little brother, and her grandmother and grandfather.  The ache in her heart was fierce, but this wasn’t goodbye.  This was important.  She knew it was.

“I’ll be back, guys,” she murmured as she pulled away.


 

The flight itself was over 8 hours.  Her Nan’s car wouldn’t be shipped over for about a week, so Luna took a taxi from the airport to the address of her new apartment.  She stepped out and looked up at it.  There was something about this place.  She couldn’t have said what.  Maybe it was all those memories from when she’d been four and waiting in a hospital waiting room, but while the cityscape was pretty beautiful, there was a feeling of something beneath the surface.  Still, there was a feeling of belonging.  In this time, in this place, she was right where she needed to be.

With her head held high and awaiting new adventures, Luna walked into her apartment building.


 

Interlude Three: Wrath of the Dragon Queen, Part 2

David enjoyed the cool air of the evening as it swirled around him and his wife.  His gaze was pointed up to the sky but he was only too aware of her next to him.  Since he had awoken in Simgardheim- that was the name of this place, a place where the Gods of Simanity resided- he’d actually become used to quite a lot.  It was a protected world, he’d found out, one filled with wonder, but also with dangers of its own.  The first “person” he’d encountered had been Lyall.  She’d smiled at him and welcomed him to his new home.  He had been so confused, he hadn’t had a thought in his head, let alone been able to speak.  “Don’t worry,” the Goddess had told him.  “Your wife will along shortly.”

Lyall had spoken the truth.  He had been afraid that it had been a dream, that his life with Celestia might have been some hallucination.  He’d always been able to feel her, her vibrancy and her energy.  He had stood in front of the easel Lyall and provided and lost himself for a little while, trying to make sense of things, a part of him feeling as if he were missing something vital.  Then… in a moment of perfect clarity, everything righted itself.  He’d turned… and there she was.  His Dragon Queen.

He wasn’t sure how much time had passed since they’d both awoken here, since they’d… well, died.  It was a pretty distinct memory in his mind.  He missed his family, but being able to watch them, even from afar helped a little, though worry marred his countenance a little.  The undercurrents in Simgardheim were vast and bound to pull the unwary below and would drown them quickly.  It wasn’t much different from the Sim Realm, really, in that regard anyway.  With a quiet sigh, he leaned back a bit and just looked up at the gorgeous night sky, his wife beside him.

They had sat there in silence for a long time, neither really needing words.  But David felt compelled to ask after a long moment, “Thanatos is due to arrive soon, right?”

His wife nodded slowly.  “Yes.  I’ll know when he does.”

“Celestia…” he murmured, hesitating for a moment.  She turned her head a little to look at him out of the corner of her eye.

“Yes, love?”

“Are you sure about this?”

“I am, David.  I am.”  She turned her gaze back up to the night sky, letting her husband absorb that.  He gripped the hand that was beneath his securely and let the time slip away.


It wasn’t long though, before Celestia sensed Thanatos’s presence.  David had gone to another part of the large mansion to wait for her.  This business was hers alone to deal with.  She sat in the office, the same office that she had met Lyall in when all this began.  The irony of it was not lost on her.  Here she was again, this time cast in Lyall’s place.  The door opened as she sat lost in thought and in walked Thanatos, the God of Death.

Slowly, Celestia stood up, her face a blank mask even as the dark hood came up, looking at her.  She couldn’t see any eyes, but she didn’t need to.  She could feel the way he measured her.  “Celestia,” he intoned, his voice a dark resonance that seemed to echo within all that darkness.

“Thanatos,” she murmured with a slight incline of her head.

Silence reigned for a long moment as the two studied one another, neither wanting to be the first to break the silence.  It had often been thus with them.  Celestia and Thanatos had once been neutral parties in the petty squabbles that went on around them.  But many things had changed.  Finally, Thanatos broke first, a hint of impatience in his voice.  “Why have I been summoned here?”

Tilting her head to the side, Celestia acknowledged the concession briefly before she intoned, “I claim the Right of Accusation against you.”  Her words seemed to echo around them, the very utterance of them holding some kind of power.

Though she could not see his expression, hidden as his countenance was by that infernal hood, Celestia knew by the way he crossed his arms over his chest that she had startled him.

He said nothing as Celestia laid the charges before him: one of her children, her flesh and blood children, had been wounded, had technically been killed by one of his.  The rules governing the Gods’ flesh and blood offspring were many and myriad, but their protection was absoluate.  The fact that Celestia’s son would have died because of Thanatos’s daughter was a serious matter indeed.

When she finished speaking, Thanatos said nothing.  Finally, he intoned, “What is your price?  What boon or what punishment do you require to right this wrong?”  His words held as much power- and as much of a binding oath- as Celestia’s had.

Something appeared between the two of them.  It was an orb.  The mortals called it a Moondial, but this was a finely crafted Looking Glass.

It was a precision instrument and used for viewings of many types.  Celestia had thought to use the large screen that Lyall had had commissioned, but Celestia knew Thanatos was old fashioned, a traditionalist.  She thought he would appreciate this more and it would keep the advantage to her.  The boon she was asking was unheard of.

Letting a trickle of power flow through her, that golden glow surrounding her, an image began to swirl inside the globe of the viewing sphere.  As it coalesced into a discernible image, that of a person, Thanatos flicked a glance at Celestia.  The image was that of a vampire, his red eyes glowing brightly, his handsome face vaguely familiar somehow.

“He is the price to be paid.”

“You wish his death?”  She could hear the uncertainty, a sure sign that she was hitting her mark.

“No, his life.  He is no longer one of yours, Thanatos.  His life now belongs to me and mine.”

The silence that fell was glaringly loud in its intensity.  Celestia waited, her body seemingly relaxed, though she was coiled tighter than a spring.  “As you wish… sister.  It is done.  He now belongs to you.  The debt is paid.”  With a crack of sound, he disappeared in a cloud of yellow and black smoke, leaving Celestia alone.

She wasn’t alone for long though.  Lyall appeared, looking at the globe, but more importantly, the image within it.  Celestia leaned against the desk, letting some of the tension drain away.

Lyall frowned, her brow furrowing.  “You’re responsible for Luna’s dreams.  That’s her “vampire prince”, isn’t it?”

“Yes, I’m responsible,” was all the Queen of the Dragons murmured.  She waved her hand and the image changed.  This time, there was a young girl there, and though there wasn’t any outward indication, Celestia knew that power flowed through her veins.

“I hope you know what you’re doing…” Lyall murmured.

“Me too,” Celestia whispered as Lyall disappeared once more.  She continued to stare into the globe, watching the girl within it, her expression troubled.  Then it became determined.

This would work… it had to.


 

Chapter 30: Reflections

As a surprise for his birthday, Mom and I decorated Alduin’s room for him.  He got the spare room upstairs across from Mom and Dad’s room.  He likes it up there he says.  While he loves people and loves our family, I noticed that he likes to spend time by himself too.  Our little Alduin is a Lone Wolf.

In other news, it was mine and Jeff’s anniversary, as well as my parent’s!  Mom and Dad have been together 40 years now.  I only hope Jeff and I make it that long.  Not that I’m worried about that at all.  Jeff and I love each other as much as the day we wed, more in fact.  Leaving Luna and Alduin at home (they insisted we all go celebrate; if I didn’t know my children better, you’d have thought they WANTED us out of the house), we “old folks” decided to go out for a night on the town.  We went to the Port-a-Party Mini Warehouse.  Am I really just getting old, or does the name sound as corny to you as it does to me?  Oh well.  We all dressed up in our best and headed out.  We sat at the bar and waited for drinks.

After sampling some of their wares, we decided on a game of pool. Actually… the game of pool was Jeff’s idea.  But we decided it would be fun.  It was dad and mom versus Jeff and I.  My parents fight dirty!  Dad especially!

“Hey, need a microscope to find where the cue goes, little one?” my dad called out as I was chosen to break.

However, after my first shot, dad just looked at the velvet with a bemused expression.  I smiled sweetly at him.

Just as I was about to sink the winning shot, it was Jeff’s birthday!

We all cheered for him and soon enough, my husband joined me in middle age!

We didn’t stay long after that, instead deciding to return home and hop in the hottub.  Unfortunately, just after he got settled into the water, Jeff’s pager went off.  There apparently had been a rather bad accident and they needed Jeff’s expertise.  So he got up, dried off quickly, and left.

I hung out there with Mom and Dad for a while, then once they started getting sappy, decided that the better part of valor was retreating… quickly.  Especially when they got that look in their eyes.

I was about to go inside (it was actually pretty late… or early, depending upon how you looked at it.  We’d spent quite a bit of time in the hottub.  It was close to dawn!) when Jeff came around the corner.

Even as the sun came up behind us, all I could do was look into his eyes, bringing my hand up to his cheek.  He pulled me close and kissed me.  “Happy anniversary, Aurora,” he whispered to me.

“Happy anniversary, Jeffrey.”


 

Dad’s retirement finally went through!  I mean, since all that happened in Bridgeport, Dad has been on light duty.  He was only waiting for the paperwork to go through announcing his official retirement with full pension and benefits from the force.  He got the phone call today.  Mom was ecstatic.  He had called us all upstairs to break the news.

After he made the announcement, Mom grabbed his hands and they just stared into each other’s eyes.  Mom never complains, but I think being a cop’s wife has been hard on her over the years.  She’s always supported Dad, no matter what, but after the scare in Bridgeport, she was always a bit on edge.  Knowing Dad is well and truly out of it is a comfort to her, I think.

“I love you, Draco Wyvern,” she whispered to him.  She’d grabbed him, wrapping her arms around his waist.

Dad framed her face with his hands.  “And I love you, Sophia Wyvern.”  Then he just held her close.

Jeff and I left them alone, giving them the time.  I think that even I forget how hard things were on Mom at times.  She always seemed so together.  Even when things were really bad, the feelings I could get off her were calming to the rest of us.  But feeling her relief… it went soul deep.  No more would she have to worry Dad leaving in the middle night, being gone for days at a time, never really knowing what was happening or whether she’d see her husband again.

I went downstairs and waited for Mom.  Before too long, she came down into the kitchen.  I could see the tear stains on her face.

“Mom?”  She looked at me.

I hugged her.  “I love you.  I’m sorry.  Sorry I couldn’t see until now how much it affected you.”

She put me at arm’s length.  “You don’t need to apologize,” she said quietly.  She’d never looked more dignified, even in her nighty and with wrinkled forehead, her cane resting against the counter.  “I knew what I was doing all those years ago when I married your father.  I knew what he wanted to do.  The truth is, I’ve always been proud of him, ‘Rora.  Your father’s a good, good man with a heart as big as can be.  He puts others first, always has.”  She smiled fondly.  “You should have seen him on our wedding day.  You were only a little baby, still swaddled in the blanket we took you home in from the hospital.  He was so nervous, he was shaking.  But when we said our vows, his hands were rock solid.  We’ve been married a long time, your dad and I.”

Her eyes were going misty, I could see it.  “I wish that for you and Jeff, ‘Rora baby.  I want you to know that kind of love, the kind that lasts for years and only grows.”  She laughed a little.  “It’s been quite the ride for us.  Your daddy sure is stubborn, but I think I’ve proven that I’m just as stubborn as he is, sometimes more so.  But in all the years we were married, I never asked him to give up what he did.  He wanted it too much.  And though I hated it at times, I couldn’t ask him to be something he wasn’t.  So don’t you apologize to me about not knowing how it affected me.  Things went as they needed to, honey.  And now your daddy’s out of it.”  She grinned at that.  “Well, at least he doesn’t have to take orders anymore.  I think if he didn’t keep his hand in in some way, at least keeping in communication, he’d go a little crazy.”  She patted my shoulder.  “Don’t fret, ‘Rora.  You do too much of that.  Your mama should be the least of your worries, with both your little ones growing up.”

She certainly had a point.  Alduin went to his first day of school.

He seems to enjoy the classes, but he’s not enamored of being surrounded by so many people all day.  It’s not that he doesn’t like people, but as an introvert, he needs respite from all the “sensory overload”, as he calls it.  So he’s always so happy to get home and just be on his own for a while.  Once he’s had a bit of time up in his room or on the computer, he’ll join me and his dad in the living room for a snack and to watch TV.

Luna’s still working at the precinct and from all accounts is doing very well.  Dad uses his contacts there to keep an eye on her.  She gets home from school, does her homework, and then rushes out the door when her carpool gets here.

She seems reluctant to talk about it.  I’m having hard time reading her to know whether it’s because she doesn’t want to upset us or if it’s because it’s not what she expected.  If I had to guess, it’s a little of both, really.  I just hope she’s careful, whatever she decides to do.


How quickly time flies… I know I keep saying that, but it seems to become truer each passing day.  It seems like just yesterday I was holding my first born in my arms, swaddled in a little pink blanket and putting her in the crib in the nursery for the first time.  And now… today, my little girl turns 18.  Mom baked a cake for after Luna came home from work.  The candles lit, surround by her family, Luna stood there, making my throat tight from all the emotion.

She leaned over- I remember having to hold her, both as an infant, and then again as a toddler.  She was so eager.  She hasn’t lost that zest she’s always had.  Her eyes were full of possibilities.

She spun around as the sparkles enveloped, whooping at this next great adventure.

And then… just like that, my little girl was a grown woman with her whole life ahead of her.


 

Chapter 29: The Trouble with Being a Wyvern

I’m a very proud mama.  Watching Luna with her little brother always brings tears to my eyes.  Whenever he gets up in the morning, he’s greeted by his big sister who lifts him up out of his crib and cuddles him close.

She also has been insisting upon teaching him how to talk by herself as well.  “C’mon, mom, I’ve been communicating with him since before he was born. Think I can handle teaching him how to actually talk,” she told me when I expressed a bit of surprise.  I could only laugh.  I peek in on them every now and again.  I’m not quite sure what she’s teaching him, though…

“No, no, buddy!  Roses!  Ya give a girl roses!”

“Why, ‘Una?  Why give girls roses?”

“Because they like that, of course!  It makes them feel special.”

“I give you roses, ‘Una?” he asked her, tilting his head to the side.

I didn’t hear her reply; I had to leave before I cried myself silly.  My little boy sure is a sweetheart and he and his sister are so close, despite the age gap.  I can’t help but feel so proud of both of them.  Instead of sleeping in like so many other teenagers do (as I did, come to think of it), she gets up early before school to spend time with her brother.  Then once he’s settled back down, she grabs a cup of coffee and then out the door she does.

Once Luna leaves, I get my time with my little guy.  I often find that he’s crawled to Luna’s room, as if looking for her.

Hm… and gotta hand it to her, Luna’s a smart one.  She’ll help him talk and walk… but she somehow always manages to avoid potty training time.  Can’t say as I blame her, really, but at least Alduin is such a good natured little boy.  He makes it pretty easy.

Of course, now that Luna is old enough, we’ve begun the self-defense training.  She gets her small frame from me and mom, but that doesn’t stop her from using her natural speed.  She’s already very good.  She tends to pick up on things pretty easily.

Aside from the physical training, she also came to me and wanted to know more about her power and how to use them.  I thought this was a great idea.  I wish she could have met her great-grandmother.  She had much better control than I do.  I have my strengths, but it is also a bit unpredictable for me.

Still, working with her, is strengthening my own power.


 

I can’t help but feel that these measures will be necessary.  I was painting a couple days ago and I seemed to fall into a trance.  It happens sometimes, though it hadn’t happened since before what happened with Dad all those years ago in Bridgeport.  When I finished, my heart clutched in my chest.

I know in my heart that the female ninja represents Luna and that there is someone behind her who wants to harm her or will want to… I wish we knew more.  I gave it to her, as a reminder to be careful and because I believe in her.

She had come to me earlier to talk about things.  Like me, she tended to get her own feelings at random moments.  This time, instead of talking about Bridgeport and her handsome prince (she still dreamed of him), she wanted to discuss Alduin.  “I can’t help but be a little worried about him,” she told me, looking troubled.

“Why’s that, sweetheart?”

She shrugged, looking uncomfortable.  “I don’t know… just a feeling I’ve been having lately.  I know Pop is the one with the feelings and clairvoyance, but seems like lately, that’s all I’ve been having.”

I frowned.  “Well, we know there are dangers out there, things we don’t fully understand.  Your great-grandmother was always fairly tightlipped about things.  I don’t think she could tell us much, other than what we needed to know.  There was a lot she kept back, I think.  But it’s ok.  We look after our own, you know that.”  I ran a hand through her hair and gave her a hug.  She smiled at me, and nodded, then went to go find her brother for some play time.


From the teenage journal of Luna Wyvern

After my talk with mom, I went and scooped Alduin up.  He’d heard us come in from outside and immediately, he’d motored to me.  Can’t believe how big he’s getting!  Could barely hoist him up.  After the conversation I just had, I couldn’t help but squeeze him tightly.

“Wuv you, ‘Una,” he murmured.  I may have been the telepathic one and mom the empathic one, but my little brother always seemed to know just what to say to make ya feel better.

“Love you too, munchkin,” I sniffled, clearing my throat.  Then I grinned.  “Guess what?  The Claw’s comin’ to get ya!”  His shrieks and pleas only made it harder not to laugh hysterically as the dreaded Claw began to tickle him mercilessly.

After the laughter subsided, my little brother looked up at me, the Wyvern eyes looking a bit serious.  “’Una, Great-gamma ‘Estia told me a secret.”

I froze.  I would have chalked it up to a child’s imagination, but in this family, the imagination often wasn’t as strange as the reality of it all.  I mean, we’ve all heard the family lore.  My great-grandmother was Queen of the Dragons.  She was tricked by her sister into coming to the Sim Realm, though none of us really know why.  She found happiness here, though and that’s how Pop and Great-uncle Falkor came to be.  We all have powers, though so far, Alduin hasn’t shown any.  But maybe… just maybe, this is the start of it.

I tried to be nonchalant.  “A secret huh?  Can you tell me?”

He shook his little head, looking sad.  “No, she made me pwomise.  Is it ok that I talk to her, ‘Una?”

“Of course it is, buddy!  Of course.”  I realized something.  “Do you see or talk to anyone else?”

“I saw Diego!” he replied happily.  “He fluffy doggy, like Ars.”  ‘Ars’ was his name for Ares.  That confirmed it.  My little brother could look into the Spirit Realm, or the Netherworld as it was often called.

“Does mom or dad know about this?”

“No…”  He looked abashed.  That look on a two year old will break your heart.

“It’s ok, little brother.  It can be just our secret for a bit longer, ok?”  He nodded, grinning again.  Oh my… my little brother will break hearts with that smile.


Hm… Luna surprised us a bit today.  She’d been thinking about it for a little while and decided that she wanted to enter the new program that the police department enacted.  It’s a junior patrol division.  I can’t say as if I’m overly happy about this.  After what happened with Dad, I’m afraid my view on them is less than stellar.  My dad’s reaction was even more volatile, but Luna just looked at him, her head tilted and said it was what she wanted.  She wanted to help people, like he did.  Dad has never been able to deny her anything, so he sighed and nodded.  That was as far as he went in giving his blessing.  Jeff and I just shared a concerned look.  But what could we do?  Denying her would only cause problems.  But we can’t keep her from what she wants.  So she went and applied today.

Due to her high scores and I’m sure due to who her grandfather is (Dad’s a bit of a legend in the department, after all), she was accepted immediately.

Jeff and Dad discussed it at length one night while waiting for her to come home.  And yes… they wait up for her, outside, in the snow.

“I would stop her if I could,” Jeff told him seriously.  “But ‘Rora and I talked about it.  We can’t.  Restricting her would do no good and would be punishing her for something that she sees as right.  I know none of us like it, but…”

“We have to let her make her own decisions,” Dad finished for him.  “I don’t like it either.  I believe in what we do, in what the department stands for, but the thought of her there, in the thick of things…  I’m hoping this experience makes her decide on doing something else.  There are plenty of other jobs out there where she can help others.”

Jeff nodded.  “Education.  I think she’d love working with kids and I know your brother said he’d be delighted to have her.”

“Yeah, Luna would make a wonderful teacher.  Look at how good she is with Alduin.  But we’ll see…”

“That we will.”  Then the two waited out there in the snow, watching for her to come home.


 

I can’t believe it’s that time already!  My little boy is growing up so fast!  Luna was ecstatic that his birthday fell on a Saturday so she wouldn’t have to go all the way through school before we could have his party.  Mom baked his cake and Jeff got to hold to blow out the candles.

“Candles, dad, candles!” he called out.  “I wanna blow on the candles!”

Jeff laughed and leaned over to give his boy a shot at the candles.  Scrunching his face as he pulled in a deep breath, Alduin blew out his candles.

Jeff set him down and gave him a quick peck on the forehead.  “There ya are big man.”

He stood up as the sparkles hit.

And now my little boy is a child.  He has a bit of nearsightedness, though the doctor said he might actually grow out of it, or at least be able to have some basic contacts when he gets older.

My… how time flies!  My children are growing so fast!


 

Chapter 28: Cute Toddler Spam, Feisty Old Ladies, and Teenagers!

I always told myself I wouldn’t be one of those parents who has to take a million pictures of her children… I lied.  I can’t help myself!  Alduin is just too cute!  And everyone dotes on him so.  His father, his grandmother…

Especially his grandmother.  He is certainly a grandma’s boy.

He and Daddy have been working on going potty like a big boy.  He’s doing pretty well.

For the most part, Alduin is very easy going.  Unless he’s hungry… then everyone in the whole house knows it.

It hasn’t all been about spoiling cute toddlers for us, though.  Mom has slowed down a little bit.  Despite being in terrific shape between her athletic skills and her Sim Fu training, her back has been bothering her quite a bit lately and she was noticeably limping the other day.  She refused to go to the hospital.  I know where I get my stubbornness from now…

But after a lengthy discussion with my husband, in which I begged him to talk to my mother, he agreed.

He didn’t give me details.  I have a feeling it wasn’t easy for him.  I’m pretty sure everyone in this family could give lessons to a boulder on hardheadedness.  But Mom finally went.  She saw one of Jeff’s colleagues, Dr. Bianchi.  When she came home, Mom was spitting mad!  We finally got her calmed down enough to tell us the problem.  Then she snapped, “I’m old, ok?”

When that just got her several level looks, she sighed.  “Dr. Bianchi says that I have osteoarthritis of the spine.  He’s prescribed me a bunch of pills to take and-and…”  She trailed off, looking sad.  I felt so bad for my mother.

“What is it, Mom?” I asked gently, putting my hand on her shoulder.

“He wants me to use a cane!  A cane!” she exploded.  I realized it wasn’t sadness on her face or what I was feeling from her, but indignation.  She thought a cane made her old.  I almost laughed, but managed to keep it in.

“C’mon Mom, go and model it for us!  I bet you’ll great!  Very sophisticated.”

She glared at me, trying to see if I was making fun of her.  Oh how I love my mother.  Finally, she grinned and then rolled her eyes.  “You just watch, I’ll rock that cane!”  She disappeared upstairs, calling down, “You guys wait there in the kitchen.  I’ll show you what an old lady can do!”

When she came down, in her nighty and strutting, we all burst into laughter.

“See, look at me?  I’m a little defenseless old lady.”  She tried to appear sweet and innocent.  However, having been on the receiving end of that ‘little old lady’s’ roundhouse kick, I knew she was full of it.

“Whatever you say, Mom,” I told her, rolling my eyes.  So Mom may not like the fact that she has to walk with a cane when the pain gets bad, nor does she like all the pills she has to take, but she deals with it.  And it still doesn’t slow her down much.

She still insists upon cleaning and traipsing up and down the stairs to do laundry.

And when she’s not working in the house, she’s still overseeing things at the spa.

I swear, the woman has more energy than I do!  Old lady indeed… When most of us are asleep in our beds, she’s out in her little zen garden, breaking space rocks with her bare hands!

And if it isn’t enough that my mother is giving me gray hair, my little girl is becoming a teenager!  She was bouncing up and down as Mom took the cake out of the oven.  We set it on the counter and she stepped up, that mischievous glint that never seemed to leave her eyes sparkling.

I found I was torn.  In one part of myself, I was proud of watching my children grow up.  But then another part of me mourns the loss of her childhood (and wonders what her teenage years will be like).


 

Hey!  It’s Luna!  I might have, um… borrowed the family journal.  I had to include this picture.  Think I’ll just slip that here in the page before.  She won’t notice for a while.  Pop took this of her right before I blew out the candles.  I’m not sure if she’s happy that I’m becoming a teenager or if that’s to hide the horror of knowing I’ll be able to drive soon enough!


 

Luna was more than ready for the next stage.  She’s always been so inquisitive and so perceptive; she sucks up knowledge so very fast!  And becoming a teen would allow her a whole new avenue for knowledge and open more doors for her yet.

She blew out her candles, the sparkles hit, and then she spun around.

Now, she told me not to put the picture of her before she could fix her hair and wardrobe in here.  But ya know what?  I saw that picture you slipped into the page before this, oh my dearest daughter!  All’s fair in love, war, and family!

But soon enough, she’d fixed the horrid clothing and decided that it was time to cut her hair a bit.  She wouldn’t let any of us see her until she’d entirely fixed everything herself.  Hm… Dad laughed at that.  He thought it was fitting, considering I apparently did the same to them.  I don’t remember being so difficult, was I?  Anyway, this was the result.

Isn’t she just beautiful?  Her daddy isn’t quite sure about his little girl looking quite so beautiful.  I distinctly heard him muttering something about needing to get a few supplies from the hospital.  I only laughed.  Between her father and her grandfather, Luna is going to have some issues in the dating department.  Hm… Or maybe not.  Jeff and I found a way, after all.

Oh!  And today wasn’t just Luna’s birthday.  It was both Dad’s and mine, actually.  Neither of us really wanted a cake for ourselves.  One was enough for us all.  We still had cake leftover from Alduin’s birthday anyway.  Dad went first.  He didn’t seem too thrilled with the prospect of getting older.

Dad aged fairly gracefully, I think.  Then it was my turn.  I tried to sneak outside so no one would see the awful wrinkles.  But they followed me anyway.

But before I could go inside to fix my hair and to check to see if I did indeed have wrinkles, something terrible happened.  Grim came for Hercules.

After that, wrinkles didn’t seem too bad.  Rest in peace, my furry friend.  You will be missed.  We placed his remains with those of his family.  That makes six of our faithful canine companions we’ve had to bury.  They are as much a part of the family as any.  It’s hard seeing all those graves there.  But I like to think they are enjoying their afterlife.


 

 

I’m not a young woman anymore.  Oh, I’m not melancholy or anything.  This isn’t a midlife crisis talking.  Like I said, losing Hercules put things into perspective for me.  It was time I dressed my age.  I know I’m still beautiful; Jeff tells me every chance he gets.  But wearing short dresses and long hair are a tad difficult when running around after an active toddler and when working out or performing martial arts, I thought it was time for a change.  So I got a little bit of a haircut and then decided to wear my hair up, and changed my wardrobe up.  I think it looks good.  And I’m ok with it, ok with being middle aged now.


And now I leave you with this picture of my little brother with the cutest pouty face ever!  Isn’t he just adorable?

Luna!  You will have your chance with the book when you’re older!

 

Sorry mom, I can’t resist ^^ Love you!


 

Chapter 27: Omens and Family

Mom has insisted on working with me a little while each day in the self-defense department.  My mother may well be past middle aged, heading toward a senior citizen, but you’d never know it, the way she wipes the floor with me.  By the time we’re done, I’m starving and exhausted.  As I grab a plate of mom’s goopy carbonara from the fridge, I took a seat at the table.  Luna had gotten home from school about the same time.  She was already at the table, working on her homework.  She looked puzzled.

“What is it, sweetie?  Problems with your homework?  I’m sure your Granddad would be happy to help ya with it.”

“Oh, no, not a problem with this.  It’s advanced trig and it’s pretty simple.”  My daughter shrugged.  I was a bit bemused.  I’d been really good in school, but math had never been my strong suite.  Luna, however, was in the accelerated classes and already taking courses that were getting close to college level.

“What’s the matter then, sweetheart?  Everything ok?”

“Just had a weird dream last night,” she told me, looking down at her homework.  “Not a nightmare or anything, just a weird dream.”

“Oh?  What kind of dream?”  I did my best to sound nonchalant.  In this family, dreams were paid attention to.  Luna was too smart for her own good more often than not, but we at least tried to keep too much of any lingering unpleasantness from her.

“Weird, like I said.”  She was thoughtful as she set her pencil down, done with her homework already.  “Something about a handsome prince.  But then it got weird and I swear I saw Bridgeport again and what I think was a vampire, though he was also a prince.”  She shrugged.  “Like I said, weird.”

I had all I could do to give her a small grin.  But my heart wasn’t in it.  Why did Bridgeport keep coming back to haunt her?  She was so little… I knew she had seen what I had, what happened to my father.  And it still wouldn’t leave her.  That, along with my father’s dream and with this new revelation that that- monster had had children… it worries me.  But trying to guess the future is like trying to hold an entire river in your hand.  As my father keeps reminding me, we can only be vigilant and act accordingly.  It’s hard though, almost overwhelming at times.

A surefire way to soothe the worry is to spend time with my son.  He’s still so small.  Soon, he’ll grow up.  But for now, he’s my little burrito.

After a bottle and a fresh change, I just love picking him up and holding him close.  The distinct smell of baby powder soothes me.  His little coos and giggles helps as well.

In other news, Mom and Dad have been spending a lot of time together lately.  Mom’s birthday will be in a few days and I think she feels a little self-conscious.  Dad’s the younger of the two, though not by much.  But Mom worries a little that he won’t look at her the same way once she’s ‘old’.  Dad thinks she’s being silly.  And he tells her that at regular intervals.  Most would think he’d be accommodating, pay her sweet compliments.  But Dad knows my Mom better than that.

That, and he was always better at acting than talking.  And he was always really good at talking, too.

Rather than have a family party like we normally did, Mom wanted to be alone, though Dad vetoed that.  So she and he spent the evening of her birthday out on the deck, just talking.

Then it was time.

Mom was not happy with the gray hair.  Not at all.  She called me upstairs and she and I fixed that, with the help of a little Miss Clairol.

And as they got ready for bed, Dad proved to her that she was as beautiful to him as she had been the first day he saw her.

Like I’ve said before, being an empath is rather interesting in this house.  I’ve gotten used to it by now.  And it’s rather sweet.  Though sometimes, a mute button would be helpful.  Still, it makes me smile.


 

Today we had a rather abbreviated Snowflake Day with the extended family.  Falkor and Faye came, of course.  Falkor’s next in line to be the superintendent at the school.  Faye is close to leading the entire police department.  It would have gone to Dad, but he didn’t want it.

Can’t forget my cousins.  Rickie and Katherine.

They have little ones of their own as well.  Here’s a snap shot of our little ambassador Luna welcoming her second cousins.  Donald and Abigail are Rickie’s.  Katherine’s little ones are a bit young yet to be out in the snow.  They stayed home with the babysitter which is why it was quite the abbreviated Snowflake Day celebration.

Hm… I think I’m feeling a bit old myself.  Hard to believe that I have a daughter in elementary school and another one that will be a toddler soon enough.  Definitely odd.


 

Draco greeted his brother warmly.  “Good to see you, little brother.”

“It’s good to see you, too.  Really good.  We-uh… we were really worried about you.  Faye and I would have come as soon as we heard, but we were told not to.”

“It’s good that you didn’t.  It uh… it was touch and go there.”

“I know.  Faye told me… all of it.”

Draco looked surprised for a moment.

“She did, did she?”

 

“Yes she did.  If there’s anything we can do, you know where we live.  I’m only a phone call away.”

 

“I know little brother.  Thank you.”

 

Faye waited to until she could get Draco alone.  “You got the email right?” she asked him quietly.

“I did.  Thanks for letting me know.  Has there been any other word?”

 

She shook her head in regret.  “None.  I’m not sure how hard the locals have been searching, but they’ve found no sign of their spawn, though there’s word that someone else has taken over Slayer’s empire, but we don’t have any information on who.”

 

Draco sighed.  “I was afraid of that.  Thanks Faye.  Look, I told you before, I’ll be putting my papers in soon enough.  Will you still keep me updated though?”

 

“Of course.”

 


Uncle Falkor and the rest of the family headed out early that evening.  That night, it was time for my little boy to become a toddler.  I carried him to the cake.

After leaning down to blow out the single candle, I set him down so the sparkles could surround him.

Then, before our eyes, my little boy became a toddler.

He’s such a looker, isn’t he?  And he has a mischievous glint in his eyes.

Mom and Dad swear that he is much like I was… I think he gives me a run for my money, even.


 

Chapter 26: Eye of the Storm

Draco frowned at the name on the email.  “What is it now, Faye?” he murmured, feeling goosebumps along his flesh as he stared at the computer screen.  The power he possessed told him this was something that would be important.  There was just the tiniest wish that the power would tell him why.  But it didn’t work that way; it never had.  It was a tool, nothing more.  Still, he hesitated in opening it.  After the assignment in Bridgeport, and his subsequent hospitalization, he had been on light duty.  Essentially, he was already semi-retired.  He would wait a bit longer before truly retiring, but it wasn’t far off.  So why the email from Faye marked ‘Classified- Urgent’?  That was a designation reserved for active agents, or at least someone on an active case.  But he wasn’t on an active case.  His last case had been closed.  Elvira Slayer and William Fangmann would spend the rest of their unnatural lives in a super-max security facility.

His stomach sank.  If Faye was emailing him like this, over a secure transmission, it had to do with them.  Draco flashed back to the dreams, to the feeling that went with them.  Letting out a breath, he opened the email.

Draco, it read.  The following attachment contains surveillance photos given to us by someone at Homeland Protection.  As you can see, the dates are from years before your encounter with Slayer and Fangmann.  Draco… they knew about Fangmann.  They knew and they said nothing.  Don’t ask how I came by this.  I’d rather you have plausible deniability about the whole thing, if it comes down to it.  I just thought you should know.  I’ll let you take a look.  If you have more questions that the photos and the notes don’t answer, I’ll see you during your Snowflake Day get together.

Draco clicked on the attachment to open it, his face a blank mask, giving nothing away of his feelings.

 2145

Subjects designated as Slayer and Fangmann reside in subject Slayer’s apartment[/font]

 It is obvious the two have an intimate relationship.

Draco continued to scroll through the rather extensive report and then he stopped, staring in shock at the screen.

Subject Fangmann has been seen with an infant.  Subject Slayer has not left the premises.  We can only speculate that she gave birth in the home to avoid any paperwork, any link to them.  Effort to protect themselves or the children, unknown at this time.  Perhaps both.

“A child…” Draco whispered, rubbing the back of his neck.  He wanted to stop there, but the feeling that this was important was too strong.  So he continued to read.

Agent X was finally able to get the surveillance inside the apartment.  It seems Subject Slayer is once again pregnant.

Once again, Subject Slayer has given birth at home, this time to twins, a male and female.  Their designations are Alaric and Cyn.  The older boy is Roarke.

Draco continued to scroll through the rather extensive surveillance report, seeing nothing more than a family, one not that much different than his own… except for while her children played in the living room, Elvira Slayer ordered murder done.

As he scrolled down, he stopped, his gaze sharpening at one entry.

An associate of Subject Slayer has come and has taken all three children.  New subject is Morrigan Hemlock, a part of Slayer’s organization.  A team was sent to tail them, but the tail failed.

Subjects Roarke, Alaric, and Cyn have been lost.  We can only assume Subject Slayer ordered them taken away, perhaps for their safety, or for hers.  Determination has been made that the children are not important at this time.  Efforts will be made to locate them, but realistically, continuing surveillance on Slayer and Fangmann is priority.

Draco didn’t need to read anymore.  He closed the report and sat there for a long moment.  He understood why Faye sent it now.  Elvira Slayer and William Fangmann had had children.  Based on the dates from the report, those children would be grown by now.  And being vampires, they would live a long time.  He ignored the rage that wanted to claw out at the fact that SHP had known, and despite their promises of working together, they had withheld this information.  The report was very clear.  They had known about her criminal empire, about her crimes.  Yet, they hadn’t shared it.  No thanks to them, Slayer and Fangmann would rot in prison.  And he had had a very large part in seeing to that.  How did their children feel about that?

He rose from the chair, rubbing his hand over the back of his neck.  That feeling came back.  He had thought it was over.  And maybe it was.  Maybe those kids had nothing of their parents in them.  But what if they did?  Would they seek revenge?  He had a family to protect.  And while he believed that there was good in everyone, he wouldn’t take chances with his family, not with his daughter pregnant again and with Luna just becoming a teenager.  He got up and made a call.


 

I listen to the workers outside the house and can only sigh as I rub the back of my neck.

They’re currently building a fence around our entire property.  Mom and I had been sitting at the counter, grabbing some food while Dad and Jeff were at their normal spots at the chess table.

Then Dad told us he’d hired a crew that would come in the morning to begin building a fence.  The rest of us froze for a moment.  “Why ever for, Draco?” Mom asked, looking confused.

“One, I’m tired of the paparazzi always outside our door.  Two, I don’t think it’ll hurt.  I-“

“Dad,” I said in a slow voice, a definite warning in it.  “I can feel that something’s up.  You haven’t gotten that good at hiding it.  What’s going on?”

He hesitated a moment.  “Maybe nothing.  I’d just rather be safe than sorry.”  He hesitated again, this time for much longer before finally saying, “Elvira Slayer and William Fangmann were more than just a crime boss and a dirty cop.  They were husband and wife.  And… they have children.”

The silence that fell was heavy with shock.  Then we all began talking at once until Dad gave a shrill whistle.  “Easy guys, easy.  Look, I seem to be getting conflicting information.”  He didn’t have to elaborate.  We knew what kind of information he meant.  His own abilities were fairly reliable.  “I don’t sense danger, but I can’t shake an uneasy feeling either.  So… this is just a precaution, ok?”

None of us liked it, but we agreed it was for the best.  I couldn’t stop the shiver that ran down my spine.  Now there is a fence around our property and a gate that is kept locked at all times.

For my own piece of mind, I also placed a bit of my own brand of protection around our home.

It isn’t much; I don’t have the same kind of power that my grandmother did, but at least I’ll always be aware of anyone stepping foot onto our property and at least in the house, I’ll be warned of any ill intentions.

After our meeting, Mom tentatively brought up the subject of self-defense.  “Once you have the baby, I can work with you.  I know it wasn’t much of your thing when you were growing up, but… just in case?  And, maybe Luna too?  Once she gets into high school?”  I agreed.  Of course, gotta wait for this little one to make their appearance first.


 

Obviously, my unborn child aims to please.  After I wrote my last entry, I went to sleep, feeling pretty drained and exhausted.  No sooner had I lain down than I felt the first contraction.  I’d been having some false labor pains and a sore back throughout the pregnancy so far, so I didn’t think much of it… until my water broke.  Then I was up, on my feet and yelling for Jeff.

He brought the car around and then helped me inside, telling me to breath and holding my hand.  I think I might have crushed his poor hand, though he didn’t complain at all.  Well… not much anyway and not after I finally let it go when we got to the hospital.  Jeff walked me into the hospital even as he called for some scrubs so he could change.

After several hours, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy.  Alduin Isidore Wyvern came into the world with a full set of lungs and let us know that he was not happy to be pulled from the nice warm, safe place he had been.

Once we got home, the little one hasn’t been put down for more than a few minutes at a time.

Even now, a few days later, there seems to be a line.  I have to race to get there first to get some time with my son!

“Dad, I can feel your worry ya know,” I told him after I had changed and then fed my son a bottle.  I turned to look at him, crossing my arms over my chest.  “I thought you were the one who said not to dwell on things, right?”

 

He sighed, looking sheepish.  “Yeah, I suppose I was.  More fool me, huh?  Seems the more one says not to worry about something, the worse the worry becomes.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle.  “As you pointed out before, we’ve done what we can.  And we’ll do more yet.  I’ve already told you that Mom plans on teaching us all some self-defense.  Luna already has a good head on her shoulders, even if she has more energy than three children her age. I imagine her brother will be a bit more sedate… we can hope, at least.”

 

Dad grinned at that.  “You have a point.  Is our little Eclipse out on the trampoline again?”

 

I nodded.  “Oh yes.  I still can’t believe Mom and I let you and Jeff talk us into getting one of those things.  The snow is six inches deep and Luna’s out there, having a grand ol’ time.  She said she wants to bounce to the Moon.”

Dad laughed.  “Sounds like our little Eclipse.  She’s just like you, ya know.  You always loved the outdoors.  You still do.”

 

I grimaced.  “Oh I love being outside… but I’m not one for the cold.  Not anymore, anyway.”

 

My dad grinned.  “I suppose that’s true.  She’s not the only one enjoying the snow today, though.  Just let Hercules and Ares out.  Those two are busy messing around in the snow too.”


 

 

The snow hasn’t really let up.  But that didn’t stop Mom from taking me outside to begin our little self-defense training.  I used to watch her during nice weather, so I like to think I held my own alright.

I’m no match for her yet, of course, but I’m working on it.  We thought about having Luna start now, but she’s too bright for her own good and it’s been difficult as it is trying to keep some of our worry from her.  So we’ll wait.  High school will be soon enough for her.  As it is, she’s talked her grandmother into helping her build snowmen in the front yard.

Mom told me they had quite the discussion, too out there.  “So sweetie, what do you think of your little brother?”

 

Luna grinned as she packed snow to help cement the middle portion onto the bottom portion of the snowman.  “He’s a cutie, Nan!  He’s a little shy yet, but I’m gettin’ ‘im to talk a little more.”

 

Her grandmother stopped.  “He talks to you?”

 

“Well, sort of.”  Luna pointed to her temple.  “I can hear him, in my head, though it’s not actual words yet.  More like… pictures, and images.”  She shrugged.  “I don’t think he’s like me or Pop-pop or Mama.  He’s more like you and Daddy.”

 

Sophia frowned.  “Then how are you communicating with him?”

 

“It’s because I can read thoughts and send them to people.  I don’t think he has anything like that, though.”

 

“Hm, I see.”  She continued to help pack snow on, following Luna’s instructions on where to pack it.  Eventually, it was done and they both looked at their work and then nodded at each other.  Then they burst out giggling.

Sophia slung her arm around her granddaughter’s shoulders.  “Well, c’mon then.  Let’s go inside.  I hear there may be some hot chocolate with marshmallows in there waiting for us!”

 

“Marshmallows!”  Luna skipped up and down.  “Race ya inside, Nan!”  And she was off like a shot, Sophia following, beaming.


 

Chapter 25: Another Dragon

I haven’t been feeling well the last few days.  I’m pretty sure I know what it is.  After getting back from Venice Beach, I was sick.  I think all the “practice” Jeff and I have been doing lately finally took.

At least, I hope so.  I really hope that it isn’t just the Sim Flu.  Jeff and I both want another child, I think Jeff even more so than me.

Hoping to surprise Jeff, I quietly went to the hospital and talked to the doctors there, swearing them to secrecy.  Then I went home.  I’ve been waiting for the call back for forever.  It finally came today!

It’s confirmed!  I’m pregnant again!  I looked down at my still flat stomach and can only grin.  “Hey lil one.  Hey, I’m your mama!”

The minute the door opened and I heard Jeff’s voice, I couldn’t contain the grin.  I ran out to meet him to deliver the good news.  “Jeff!  Guess whose gonna be a daddy again?”

He was ecstatic.  He couldn’t even speak at first.

He pulled me close and just looked into my eyes.  “I love you,” he whispered.

We rushed to go tell my parents.  I found them in Luna’s room.  Mom had been gathering laundry up and Dad had been standing in the doorway, chatting with her.  So I got to tell them together.  They were so excited!  Dad grabbed me into a- gentle- bear hug.

Dad went off to go congratulate Jeff and Mom pulled me into a hug.  “Oh sweetheart, that’s wonderful.  I’m so happy for you guys!  Have you told Luna yet?”

“No, not yet.  As soon as she gets home from school, I plan on it.  I only just got the test results back today.”  Mom grinned.  She was really looking forward to being a grandma again.


 

I waited for Luna to get home from school, giving her a couple minutes to settle in.  She got her homework done first and had gone into the library to play the [i]Spaceman[/i].  I intercepted her there.  “Hey baby girl!  Can we talk a minute?”

She looked up at me, grinning.  “Mom, are you pregnant?  Am I gonna be a big sister?”

I just stared at her, then began to laugh.  “Luna!  Are you reading my mind?”

She looked sheepish.  “Well, I can’t help it!  You’re so happy, it’s blasting a bit!”

She threw her arms around me.  “I’m so happy for you mama!  And I get to be a big sister!”

“That you do, baby.  That you do.”

She immediately began rub her hand over my stomach.  “Hey in there!” she murmured softly.  I wondered if she was doing it in her mind too.  I think she was.  “I’m your big sister, Luna.  I’ll see you soon!”  She giggled, as if someone were talking to her.  “Soon enough.”


 

Since our family was going to be growing, Dad hired a crew to do some work around the house.  It didn’t take long at all.  The second floor was expanded, adding another bedroom with an attached bath and redoing the master bedroom into something even more grand as well as doing a bit of work on the pool.

I really like what they did with Mom and Dad’s room.  So luxurious.  It has a fireplace and a nice little seating area now, as well as the attached ensuite.


 

As winter gets a tight grip on Monte Vista, Luna’s been entertaining herself by beating her Pop-pop at video games.  Dad doesn’t mind so much.  I think he enjoys it, actually.

Dad also took Luna and sat her down for a talk, about the family.  She already knows so much because of her abilities, but he wanted to have a serious discussion with her.  So he took her up to his room and had her take a seat.


From the journal of Luna Wyvern

I sat in the chair in Nan and Pop-pop’s room, looking around, kicking my feet as Pop-pop sat in the other chair.  He hadn’t lit a fire in the fireplace yet, though it had gotten cold.  I could tell he was thinkin’.  I could never quite read Pop-pop.  I had to concentrate real hard to do it and I think he often knew I was doin’ it.  Pop-pop’s special power was being able to see, see things in the world around him.  At least, that’s what he always told me.  After a little while, he finally spoke, “Luna, what do you know of our family?  Of our powers?”

I shrugged.  “I know great-grandma wasn’t a Sim, right?  She had powers.  And she passed them down to us, right?”

Pop-pop nodded.  “That’s exactly right.  Do you know what she was?  What runs through our veins?  It’s the blood of the Dragon, Luna.  I know you’ve heard of a place called Dragon Valley right?  You’ve learned about it in history class?”

“Oh wow!”  I think my eyes were as big as saucers.  “G-great grandma was a [i]Dragon[/i]?!  Really?”

He nodded solemnly.  “Yes, really.  That’s where our powers come from.  Because of that, we have a responsibility to use them wisely, right?”

“You mean I need to be careful about reading minds?”

He grinned.  “Yeah, that’s part of it.  I know it isn’t easy for you sometimes.  We’re still working on learning the shielding.  But that kind of thing can be awfully uncomfortable.  Just ask your mama.”

I nodded.  “Yeah.  I only get thoughts.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to get feelings all the time.”

“Yeah, it’s not easy for her.  Not easy at all.”  He frowned.  “Luna… do you remember being in Bridgeport at all?”

A wave of feeling came over me.  Tears came to my eyes and I looked down, sniffling.  “I-I do.  Not perfectly.  I-I know you were hurt and-and you tried to leave us.  B-but mama stopped you.”

He sighed.  “Yeah, yeah I did and yes, your mom saved me.  I only brought it up because it’s been bothering me a little.  I’m sorry to upset you baby girl.”  He leaned forward in his chair and put a finger under my chin and tilted my face up.  “Yeah, don’t look so sad.  I’m still here.  I’m not going anywhere for a long while, ok?  You’re stuck with me.”

I leapt out of the chair and threw myself at him.  He held me for a bit.  “I’m sorry baby.  C’mon, I’m gonna kick your butt in Racing!”

I swallowed my tears and gave him a saucy grin.  “Not in this lifetime, Pop-pop!”  Then we raced down the stairs.


“How did it go, Dad?”

He and Jeff were at the chess table once again while Mom and I had a midnight snack.  Luna had gone to bed a little while ago, looking a bit sad.  “It… went.  She uh- remembers Bridgeport.  Remembers a lot more than she should, I think.”

I frowned, a bite of Mom’s pumpkin pie half-way to my mouth.

“Is she ok?”

“I think I took care of it.  Talking about it helped.  She seemed genuinely excited by the fact that we’re descended from Dragons,” he murmured, giving a half-grin.

“Hm, yes, she would be, wouldn’t she?  H-have the dreams changed at all, Dad?  What else have you been able to see?”

He frowned.  “It’s so unclear.  I don’t even know if they mean anything.  I just know they have Luna in them and they make me uneasy.  But other than that, there isn’t much.”  He stood up and stretched.  “Don’t worry, we’ll keep a close eye on her, ok?  I promise.  You just worry about yourself and that little one you’re carrying right now, ok?”

I worried my bottom lip, then nodded.  “You’re right, Dad.  You’re right.  You guys going to bed now?”

“Yeah, why don’t you go do the same, baby?”

I nodded.  Mom and Dad went to bed and then Jeff came over to me.  He kissed me, hard.

“C’mon, let’s go relax.  We can go and watch the stars a bit, let you calm down, then let’s follow your parents’ example, ok?”

I nodded, then grabbed a coat and my gloves, then let him lead me out the door.  Though the ground was covered with snow, we hardly noticed as we settled on the ground.  It was a clear night and the crisp, cool air felt good.  Being outside always helped clear my mind.  And with Jeff next to me, it was like paradise.

“Your dad’s right.  Everything will be ok,” Jeff murmured.  “We’ll protect her and this little one, too.”  He put a hand on my stomach and smiled softly at me.  We stayed that way for a little while, then both went in and went to bed.


The next morning, Luna got off of school for a snow day.  Her dad sat her down to play some chess.  He says she’s already quite good.  A little more practice and she’ll beat both him and my dad.

Dad and Jeff hung out holidays lights, in anticipation of Snowflake Day in a few months.

The house is certainly festive.


 

Chapter 24: Home Again

It feels so good to be home, but it’s even better that Dad is home with us.  Our stay in Bridgeport lasted close to a week.  I’ll never go to that cursed city again.  But it doesn’t matter because he’s home now.  He’s alive and he’s where he belongs.  Though he heals remarkably well, he’s still recovering.  Though he’s always been healthy, he is getting older, and combined with how severe his injuries were, it’s taking him longer to get back up to speed than he’d like.  That doesn’t stop him though from going downstairs and getting onto the machines…

It frustrates him though, when he can’t do what he thinks he should.  He certainly can’t go as long or press as much weight as he did before.  He seems to think he should be able to.  Then again… I can feel the trepidation he tries to hide.  Though we don’t speak of it, he knows what happened to him and he knows what I did… even if none of us understand it.  I certainly don’t, and I was a part of it.  But he thinks about it, I know.  Thinks about what happened and knows how very close he came to leaving his family.

Maybe that’s why he pushes himself so hard.

Then again, he’s very rarely alone.  Mom’s been watching him like a hawk.  So when he goes down to the basement, she’s there with him too.  She’s smart enough, though, not to say anything.  Being married as long as they have been, Mom knows how to handle Dad.  Instead of insisting that he take it easy, she just works out down there with him.

After a little while, when she knows he’s winded, she’ll stop, wipe her brow and then grin at him, challenge him to a game of Spaceman.  He grins and they go upstairs.  He knows what she’s doing, and she knows that he knows, but it always seems to work.  It gets him to rest for a bit.  Though, they don’t always get right to playing the game.

I walked in yesterday to grab a book to read and overheard, “…wish you wouldn’t worry so, Soph.”

“Yeah, like you wouldn’t worry about me?” my mother murmured with a sarcastic grin.  I could actually see tears in her eyes as she stroked a hand over my father’s cheek.  They didn’t notice me: it was as if there were just the two of them in all the world.  He brought up his hand and placed it over hers.

“That was foolish wasn’t it?” he murmured.  “Well, I won’t tell you not to worry then.  But I am ok.  Or at least, I’m getting there.  So maybe you can worry a little less?”

Her laugh was husky as I snuck out, grinning.  Some might be embarrassed by finding their parents in an intimate moment.  Not me.  For one, the empathy makes it impossible at times not to know something is happening.  Hm… this is going to make it difficult as Luna gets older and there are boys in the picture… Oh dear.  Anyway, for another, as I grew up, I was always coming up Mom and Dad in a steamy embrace.  Then there was the time I walked in on them one night during Woohoo… I turned and walked right back out.  I always thought it was sweet.  It was what I happened, but was always a little afraid I might not find.  Then I met Jeff.  Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without him.

He was my rock through everything.  We haven’t talked much about what happened, about what I did.  Even now, I still don’t really understand it.  I just know there was something inside of me when I felt my father… leave.  And that thing got loose.  I’ve always known we were special, that our blood was that of the Dragon, but it always seemed fairly normal.  What happened in that Bridgeport hospital was NOT normal.

“Good to be home,” Jeff murmured, sinking further into the bubbles of the hottub.

“Mhm,” I murmured in agreement as I leaned against him.  “Definitely.”

“How are you?”  I didn’t have to ask what he meant.

“I feel fine.  I mean… I’ve always had power inside me, I’ve known that.  But nothing like that day.  And nothing like it sense.  Did any of that last batch of tests come back?”

“Yes and there was nothing unusual.  For you anyway.  Nothing elevated, nothing out of the ordinary, not like it was right after.”

“Guess my grandmother was right… we really do have power.  I mean, I never doubted her, but I never figured just what kind of power we have.”

Jeff frowned.  “Yeah, though I don’t think that was normal and I’m not sure how you’d fair if you were able to do that all the time.  I’m glad it worked, I really am.  You know how much I like your dad.  He’s the father I never had.  But I don’t think having that kind of… energy running through you all the time would be good.”

“You’re probably right.”  I grinned at him.  I hated to see him unhappy or worried and he had been both.  Leaning close, I murmured,  “Ya know… remember what we talked about… before all this happened?  About giving Luna a sibling?  Why don’t we get started on that now, hm?”

He grinned and leaned over for a kiss.


As summer gives way to fall and the air begins to cool, we’re all trying to spend as much time with Luna as we can.  She’s growing up so fast and her birthday is right around the corner.  I can’t believe it.  Seems like just yesterday I held her for the first time.  And now… she’ll be off to elementary school soon!  Just seems so unreal.

We’ve developed a routine so that everyone gets a chance with her.  When her daddy gets home from work, he changes.  She toddlers into our room and then he picks her up and gives her her snuggles.

Jeff hands her off to Mom, who spoils her with a story.  Then she likes to hold her.  Luna is a very affectionate child.

Then, it’s my turn to give her a bath.

But the honor of putting her to bed goes to Dad.  Luna can’t go to sleep without her grandfather giving her a hug and kiss.  Every night, he kisses her forehead and runs a hand over her hair.  “Love you, my lil Eclipse.”

“Me love you too, Pop-pop.  Me love you lots.”

Then she lays back and is out quickly.  Once she sleeps, the rest of us go out to the living room.  Dad and Jeff take their places at the chess table while Mom and I sit down to watch TV.


We’ve been careful since we all came home, careful about talking about what happened in Bridgeport.  But there’s an undercurrent in the house, one that won’t seem to go away.  Mom would just rather forget it, I know.  Jeff is of two minds: the doctor in him wants to keep performing tests on Dad and I to make sure we’re both ok, but the husband and the son in him, is just glad that Dad’s ok and that there are no ill-effects from what I did.

For myself… I’ve had a bit of time to think about it.  I still don’t remember much except for the feeling, the raw power that consumed me at the moment I felt my father’s life fading.  It was like nothing I’d ever felt.  My rage seemed to unleash the power.  But it seemed to be gone now.  Or… maybe not gone, but just- dormant, I guess.  Dad’s the only one I can talk about it with, really.

We try to do it when no one else is awake yet so as not to upset Mom or Jeff.  We’ve also tried to keep it from Luna.  She senses far too much at such a young age.  Even now, I see the look in her eyes when she watches her grandfather.

“Dad, do you think… do you think it can happen again?  I can’t feel it anymore, but somehow, I know it’s still there.”

A thoughtful expression I knew too well crossed his face.  His words were measured.  “You know what your grandmother was.  A Dragon, Queen of the Giant Serpents, but stripped of the ability to become her true form.  Her mortal form wouldn’t be able to sustain the energy to change.  But that energy, that power is there.  And she passed it down to me, and I in turn, passed it down to you.  I think you were able to summon it then because of a great need.  I don’t think you have to worry about it happening again.”  He gave me a sheepish grin.  “I don’t intend upon putting myself into any more precarious situations.”

I glared at him.  “You had better not!”

He smiled and put a hand on my shoulder.  “Don’t worry, Northern Light.  Your old man plans on enjoying his twilight years.”  He pulled me into a hug.

“I love you daddy,” I whispered to him.

“And I love you too, baby girl.  Thank you.”

And that was the last we talked of it.


Luna was up early today.  She’s been so excited all morning.  “Birfday Mama, birfday!” she called out as I got her out of the crib.  I laughed, though I could feel my eyes watering already.

“You betcha, baby!  Who’s my big girl, huh?”

“Me Mama, me!  I’m a big girl!”

The cake was already set up on the counter, two little candles alit.  “Cake!” my daughter squealed.  “Cake!”

All of her family was there, all of us so happy, yet all a little sad too.

She was all too eager to blow out those candles.  Even as she leaned down, I did too to give her a bit of a hand as she drew in a deep breath and then let it out all at once at the candles.

I put her on the floor as she clapped her hands.  “Mama, me be a big girl!” she squealed as the sparkles began to surround her.

And then, my baby wasn’t a baby anymore.  She was a self-possessed young lady who ran immediately to the mirror, then the dresser to pick out appropriate attire.

As a surprise for her birthday, Dad had had Uncle Falkor’s old room redone just for Luna.  She’s too big for the nursery now, of course.  She was ecstatic about it and ran around like a loon, exclaiming over everything before she launched herself at her grandfather.  “Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” she exclaimed.  Then she was off again.

I think my daughter has more energy than I did at that age.  Where I was more sedate, Luna is a bundle of energy.  Dad’s about the only one that can get her to stay still for very long and I think it’s because they both share a love of learning.


There was another surprise for Luna.  On her father’s next day off, we had a family outing to Venice Beach.  Dad had bought the property a few months ago, before everything happened.  He had a crew add a few things, thinking it would be a fabulous place to have family outings and gatherings.  Granted, it was pretty cold as winter was coming in, but Luna wouldn’t dissuaded and honestly, neither could we adults be either.

While her father and I enjoyed the hottub facilities-

Luna happily tested out some of the playground equipment.

Then, somehow, she talked her grandparents into playing on the water slide!  In this weather!

Still, no one was the worse for wear, except for the distinct chattering of teeth as we headed home.  It was a good day.  A very good day.  I’m a lucky woman.


 

Interlude Two: Wrath of the Dragon Queen, Part 1

The image played on the screen and the three people on the couch were silent.  “N-no, no.”  Celestia could only stare in horror as she watched her son- her child, of her flesh and blood- as he fought for his life.  Lyall’s surprise of being able to watch her family had been wonderful.  Celestia had gotten to see her granddaughter grow up.  Even her antics in University had made the Queen of the Dragons laugh.  And watching her find love had made her weep with joy.

Then the birth of her great-granddaughter.  Getting to watch her son with Luna took some of the sting out of her not being able to be there with them.  But then he’d gone to the precinct.  And then to Bridgeport.  Celestia and her husband could only watch in horror, helpless to do anything for him.

Now they could only watch as the events in the Sim world unfolded on screen.

As Sophia’s prayers reached Celestia’s ears, the Dragon Queen bowed her head, unable to stop the tears.

But amidst the horror and grief came a molten hot fury that seemed to flood her.  She stood up, a gold glow beginning to surround her, her very energy beginning to boil over in her rage.  Her hands were clenched into fists so hard that her nails cut into her palm, blood welling from the puncture marks to drip down onto the floor.

“That Child of Death does not know the wrath,” she spat, “but she soon will.  She will pay, this I vow!”

“Celestia!” Lyall snapped, not quite daring to stand up.  “You cannot interfere!  I-I’m sorry, but there is nothing you can do!”

The Queen of Dragons whirled on her sister, her fury palpable in the air.  “You dare speak to ME of interference!?  It was your interference that brought me to the Sim realm in the first place!  You saw to it that I had children and now, when I would avenge them, to protect what is mine, you dare tell me I cannot interfere!”

Lyall was very sure that in her fury, her sister would use the power that their siblings feared so.  But then David spoke, his voice soft.   “Celestia.”  Just that, just her name.  Her rage didn’t dissipate, but it was enough to pull her ire from Lyall.  She looked at her husband.  He leaned over and took one of her hands and gently unclenched the fist, then leaned down to kiss the half-moon shaped wounds her nails had dug into her palms.  “She’s right, Celestia.  You know she is.”  He slanted a sideways glance at his sister-in-law, then looked up at his wife.  “I hate it just as much as you.  But… we cannot interfere.”  His voice hitched.  “D-draco is strong.  But… if it is his time, it is his time.”

Celestia could only stare at him.  She wanted to rage, to let out the beast inside her, the one that Lyall had caged with her serum.  But while she was still the Queen of Dragons, her time in the Sim Realm had changed her.  She turned away, looking back at the screen once more as more images flicked over it.

Her granddaughter’s wail of grief followed by the sobbing of her great-granddaughter had silent tears tracking down her cheeks even as she felt the disturbance in the energy flows of the Realms.  “Draco, no!  You can’t!” Sophia sobbed on the screen.  “Don’t leave me!”  Her cries tore into Celestia’s heart even as she felt her son’s life-force dim.

Grief swamped the Dragon Queen even as her husband came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her.  Her arms gripped hers as the fiery light of her temper faded around her to be replaced with a heavy grief.  Even as her vision blurred with the tears, she heard Lyall gasp.  The Wolfen Goddess stood up, unable to believe her eyes.  “It-it can’t be!”

Celestia dashed the tears from her eyes and looked at the screen in shock.

Then a slow, almost wicked smile crossed her face.

She turned to look at her sister even as David’s grip on her had slackened a little.  He began to chuckle a bit.  “Well, well, sister.  Seems that your serum wasn’t able to suppress it all.  There in front of you is proof of that!  My heirs live on; not even mortality was able to rob them of it.”

Lyall frowned.  “I see that…”  She didn’t voice the rest of her concerns.  What would this do to the balance?  She had no idea, but they would need to keep a close eye on things.

Celestia straightened up even as the rest of the scenes played up on the screen.  She turned to face her sister, David watching the two of them.  “Send for Thanatos,” she told Lyall, looking imperious.

“Celestia… is that wise?” Lyall asked after a moment.

“Wise or not, do it.  One of his Children wronged one of mine.  I have the Right of Accusation.  He’ll be required to come and hear it.”

Lyall sighed.  “Very well, I will do so.  I hope you know what you are doing.”

“I may have been out of the Game for a long time, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how it’s played, Lyall,” Celestia reminded her quietly.  “And now, more than ever, I will play to win.”

Lyall looked at her sister.  “I do believe you do.”