Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Suggestion Box, Vol. 3: "One Thousand Words" List #29

Suggested by: +Kileah McIlvain 

The List:
-Lady Jocelyn Stark
-an onyx cameo ring

The Result:
"Serenity's Light, Part 6"

Winter, 1897

The snow lay thick and powdery over the Parc du Cinquantenaire, the crown of Brussels. People bustled to and fro among the shops and museums, concentrating more on keeping their footing and seeing the displayed diversions than they were on the others of the crowd. No one noticed the veiled woman with the two stoic, muscular Doberman Pinschers, except to stay well clear of the keen muzzles. Where she had suddenly sprung from with such brutes on leather leashes never quite crossed the minds of the passersby.
She smiled to herself and sat upon a bench, keeping her charges tightly reined. Only her eyes saw the small, human-like form land upon the head of the nearest dog.

"Report," she murmured softly, after making sure they were well alone.
"Milady," said the ethereal form in a deep, masculine voice, "We have found no trace of the Relics or the Light-Bearer in this time."
The red lips tightened and the flawless cheeks blazed a bright vermilion.
"How could this be?" She seethed. "I thought you were tracking the Norseman! He must be here, this is the portal he should have taken!"
The form wavered and blinked, causing some unease in the beast underneath him. The woman kept the leash firmly in hand, channeling her anger into pulling on the dog's throat instead of squishing the pixie as she longed to do. The Doberman yelped, attracting the attention of the other one, who noticed the strange creature perched on the head of its mate.
The woman saw the hound leaning in for an experimental sniff and hastily spat a word.
Instantly, the hound's body stiffened and snapped back into the posture of a patient dog, staring blankly ahead and waiting till its mistress lifted the spell.
"How?" She huffed. "How did she get him through another portal? How could she give us the slip? I had the Spaniard practically eating out of my hand—what could have happened to make him lose his nerve?"
A tiny flash of light and a pop resounded behind her, and a second. Two pixies hovered in front of her, weaving madly to keep from dropping out of the air with fatigue.
She glared at them, expecting no better news than the others.
"What is it?"
"Milady," gasped one. "I found them."
"Who?" She leaned in sharply.
"Not who," the pixie made a quick figure-eight, "what; I found where the Relics will be."
Her face lit up and she grinned. "At last! Tell me where!"
The pixie's movements slowed. "They are on display in a museum in the realm of New York—"
She stood, forcing the pixies to the side of her. "What are we waiting for?" She raised a finger to inscribe a circle in the air.
"Wait!" Shrieked the pixie. "I wasn't finished! They are at the Museum of Fine Art... A little more than one hundred years from now."
She let her knees buckle and collapsed onto the bench. "Why?" She moaned. "I try so hard, and yet I am foiled at every turn!" She shifted her gaze to the second pixie. "I don't suppose you have any better news?"
The pixie bobbed uncertainly. "Well... You might not like it..."
"Give the report; I am already feeling foul."
This pixie actually managed to stay in one place. "I found the Light-Bearer." He released a series of bright, paper-thin films into the woman's lap. She picked them up and they each coalesced into a photograph. There was the Light-Bearer... And the Norseman! "But who are these others?" She pointed to the photographs of an old woman, a small girl, and a young man. "And what are they wearing?"
The pixie landed upon the stone-faced dog's head. "That's the problem: from what I could discern of their conversation, she thinks she has found the Lore-Master."
This time, she forgot herself completely, and screamed, "NO!" Real flames danced over her skin, and a purple light glowed in her hands.
"Milady!" The pixie hastened to finish his report. "They are in the same time as the Relics! If they find the curator, they will have access to them!"
"FOOLS!" She screamed, blasting the pixies with her magic. "Cualcorpavernoth!"
The pixies squealed as their essences drained into the eyes of the frantic hounds. The animals thrashed as their bodies warped and changed. When it finished, the lady unveiled stood with two very serious men in black suits on either side.
"You will do exactly as I say," she she commanded. "And you will. Not. Fail. Me. Again."
One of the men growled in response.
She snapped her fingers. "Speak."
"As you wish, Milady."
She nodded. "Now, go get me that curator; she must be persuaded not to help them. Use any means necessary." A touch of the smile came back as she glanced over the art gallery at the park. "The Relics are on display as fine art, you say?" She mused. "Well, what if the museum had a donation it couldn't refuse?" She paused and looked at her hands as an idea formed. Slipping the onyx cameo ring from her finger, she paused to make sure a second one appeared in its place; since it was part of the illusion she used, that illusion could not be altered in any way. She handed the ring to the other henchman.
"Show her this ring as proof; if she is as pliable as we need her to be, she will be frightened out of her wits."
"How do you know?" Asked the other man.
She smiled coyly at him. "Because here in this realm, I am Lady Jocelyn Stark, heiress of a massive fortune. I will have my portrait painted, and then I will write a letter. The curator is mine!" She sent the newly-formed men away with a wave of her hand.

Summer, present-day New York

Kenneth paced in front of the door while Agnes waited patiently.
"Are you ready?" He called up the stairs.
"Forgive me if I am baffled by these strange garments!" Jens bellowed back. "The strange stitching itches me far worse than coarse wool ever did!"
"Nakoma does not see why the own clothes are not sufficient," cried another voice. "There is too much cloth in these ones."
Kenneth huffed. "Quit complaining and get down here! We need to find this woman before the fall equinox!"
Jens emerged first, dressed in modern street clothes that were so tight on his burly frame, the effect was almost comical. Agnes gave him a sympathetic expression as he squirmed to get comfortable in the jeans and tee shirt.
"I'm sorry I don't have anything more your size," she murmured.
Jens shook his head and pulled his long brown hair back into a tail, which he tied easily with a leather thong. "Lay not the blame upon yourself, milady; it is the Lore-Master who insisted I adopt this useless manner of dress." He glared at Kenneth, who only shrugged and glanced back up the stairs.
"Where is—"
"I am here." In spite of the fact that she now wore jeans, sneakers, and a bright-pink girl's top, Nakoma still managed to move without a sound. She looked about as pleased with her outfit as Jens was, though hers fit better on her.
Kenneth balked under the animosity. "Look guys; we're going to attract a lot less attention if we are all dressed in modern clothes. Now let's go!" He pulled out the piece of paper with the address of one Sarah Brighton, curator of the Celtic Antiquities exhibit at the Museum of Fine Art.

Less than an hour later, the whole group approached the front steps of a nondescript New York townhouse. Kenneth rang the doorbell and heard movement inside. He eyed the others.
"I'm the professor, so just let me do the talking, okay?" He said as the door opened.
A slim woman with highlighted red tresses took one look at the motley group and gasped.
"No!" She slammed the door.
"Sarah Brighton?" Kenneth knocked again. "Mrs. Brighton!"
"Go away!" She yelled.
Agnes sighed and crossed her arms. "Have you two met?" She quipped dryly.
Kenneth backed away when all attempts at an exchange produced no effect. "No," he said softly. "I've never met that woman in my life."
"She was afraid," Jens noted as they stood on the sidewalk, hoping that perhaps she would reemerge and give them a chance to explain. "Why should she have cause to fear us?"

"She wasn't afraid of you," said a voice. The foursome whirled around as a young woman with dark red hair approached them. “She’s afraid of what might happen to her family. She’s been threatened.”
Jens gasped. "Freya!" He spat like a curse.
A smile played around the woman's lips as she nodded to the big Norseman. "Yeah, sorry about that; how's the head?"
Jens made as if to lunge for her, but Kenneth stopped him.
"She is a liar and a thief!" He snarled.
The girl's blue eyes flashed. "I did what I had to do to keep the Relics safe from one who would unleash Darkness in this realm!"
Kenneth looked at her sharply. "You know about the Relics? Who are you?"
The girl flinched as a car passed them. She shook her head. "Not here," she murmured. "Follow me."
"Not so fast!" Agnes chided her. Something about the way this girl moved made her pretty suspicious. "How do we know we can trust you if we don't even know your name?"
The woman stared at them, then pulled on a chain around her neck. Hanging from it was a gem that shone brightly with its own light, like a star trapped in crystal.
"My name is Nerissa, and I bear the Light of Serenity. I know that you are the Guardian," she nodded to Agnes, "The Warrior," to Jens, "The Sprite," to Nakoma, "and the Lore-Master," she smiled at Kenneth. "And I have been searching through time for you all, to help me acquire the Relics and return this light to my realm." She held forth the pendant and demanded, "Now do you trust me?"

Previously in This Series:

Single Posts:
#26 "The Tides of Battle"

#19 "Story Time"