Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Suggestion Box, Vol. 3: "One Thousand Words" List #50

Larklyn the Sylph
Suggested By: KartheyM

With Assistance From: +Jeffrey Gartshore*, Cheryl Fasset,  S. Rose LeClaire*, +Raven Ramsey, Autumn Siegel, R. R. Virdi*, Olivia C., Jennifer R, Samantha Stanley, +Chelsea the Napster*, Amy Hopkins Kelly Blanchard, Ashleigh Meikle, +Lee HawkeKimberly Rogers*,  Nan Sampson Bach*, Jessica R., Dara Klinkner, Rachel Lindeken, +A.D. Poole, Meaghann Ande, Zachary Totah+Kileah McIlvain*, +Cassie Greutman , Kayla Vanderbilt, Dawn Chapman+Joe Conzatti , Ryan Howard, Sheryl Rowdy, Suzanne Wdowik, +Christian Falde, Claerie Kavanaugh

*These people helped with the plot of Serenity's Light/Soul Mates specifically! 

The Final Entry:

"Serenity's Light/Soul Mates" Part 10

Nerissa was tired. The thick, inky blackness seemed to absorb energy the same way it absorbed light. As she sparred with Larklyn all around the exhibit hall, she was dimly aware of Kenneth picking up the artifacts one by one. Hope and despair battled equally within her. Would it actually work like all the legends said? Would he really be able to wield all the artifacts at once? Or would his human nature get the better of him and twist him into yet another denizen of The Darkness?
Larklyn lashed out with another tendril of Darkness. Nerissa hissed through bared teeth at the sudden pain. It had been so long since she had felt its icy, burning, stinging touch. 
Behind her, Kenneth yelled something about his friends. Nerissa threw a punch, realizing too late that the sylph she fought had stopped to stare in horror at whatever the Lore-Master was doing. Her fist connected squarely with Larklyn's face, and everything burst into brilliant white.

When it cleared, she could clearly hear twigs snapping as Larklyn's scream of pain prolonged. Nerissa's eyes adjusted to the dimness after the light, she recognized the unnatural stillness and the twisted ruins surrounding them.

"No!" Larklyn wailed. "It wasn't—I didn't mean—"
"What is this place?" Kenneth murmured as he looked around. The flicker of Serenity's Light still rested in the front of the crown on his head.
Nerissa gestured to the blank emptiness all around them. No Light meant no moon or stars; just black, black sky and the dim golden essence of so many torches dispersed at random by a people desperate for light of any kind. One burned brightly over their heads.
"Welcome to my world, Earth-dwellers," she announced.
With a long wail, Larklyn appeared in the firelight, her swollen and bruised face streaked with dirt. Her clammy hand clutched at Nerissa's arm.
"I'm sorry," she choked. "Sorry... So sorry! I—" 
Nerissa pushed her away. "You listened to The Darkness and let it lead you away. You allowed it to extinguish Serenity because the allure of power was too much for you. You had no consideration for the consequences of your actions—consequences that the world has suffered just so you could have and do what you wanted."
Larklyn collapsed in a quivering heap on the ground in the middle of the group. "I did this; I destroyed the world. I condemned an innocent world to darkness forever." She began to weep and moan.
Relaya stepped forward and crouched in front of the sylph. Larklyn lifted her eyes as the Fae continued. "Not forever," she said gently. She pointed to the gem now set in the crown. "There is still Light in Serenity yet. We can have hope."
Nerissa nodded. "Indeed; now that the pieces of Serenity are in one place, all that remains is to combine them and Serenity will return to its rightful place to give Light to us all."
All eyes turned to Kenneth, who immediately raised a hand to the Collar around his neck and balked. "Well, wait a minute... I mean, do we have to do this now? What about—"
Nerissa smiled. "Your wife; I understand. Luckily, now that we are here, it will be easy to travel by portal and back again." She turned to Larklyn, who still cowered on the ground. "You'll stay here and wait for my return, and will bring the Relics with me to return Serenity; is that clear?"
"Yes," Larklyn muttered miserably.
Nerissa stepped back and nodded to Agnes.
"Rift-Keeper, shall you open a portal?"
Agnes fingered the special earrings she still wore. Like little sonars, she could hear a faint ringing sound like the chimes in her backyard if she focused on a particular spot. 
"There." She pointed, and her fingertip seemed to puncture time and space, parting the air in front of them to see a place bathed in bright golden light on the other side. 
Fascinated, Kenneth reached forward as well and pulled the portal wider so they all could fit through. 
They stepped onto a thick green turf in a world awash with color, as alive as Nerissa's world had been dead.
Nakoma shrieked with laughter and executed a cartwheel.
"My home!" She crowed. "The Druid Circle!" Kharrie flapped her wings and joined the exuberant wood Sprite.
Kenneth chuckled. "The Druid—" He stopped and his eyes flickered. "Then that means—" he began scanning the various clouds of fairies for the butterfly cloak he could not forget.
"Welcome travelers," said a voice behind them. The three humans and two Fae all whirled around. 
The speaker smiled from under a crown of gauzy wings. "I am Lady Allyra, the Warden of the Fae." She noted the man wearing a crown. "Not a Fae, but a king, I see. What is your realm, your majesty?"
Everyone watched nervously as Kenneth bowed his head. He coughed to steady his frantic nerves. "Um, ah, my realm is far, Milady." He reached up to his neck and fumbled, finally yielding to Nerissa's assistance to unbuckle the Collar. "But I have a gift for you, if I may." He held out the open collar to her.
The woman who called herself Lady Allyra nodded benevolently. "Most generous! It has been some time since I have received a gift. You may approach."
Kenneth took slow, measured steps, his movements slow, as one approaching a skittish horse. He put the Collar against her neck, and she bent her head forward for him to clasp it.
The minute the catch slid into place, the woman stumbled forward in a mild faint. Kenneth braced his feet to catch her in his arms.
"Whoa, easy there," he murmured.
Her hands clutched his elbows.
"Kenneth?" She slowly lifted her head and stared straight at him. "What are you doing here?" Her head craned from side to side, as if becoming aware of her surroundings for the first time. "What are—where is—who are all—why—how did..."
Nerissa darted forward and shoved Kenneth and Arielle toward the curtain at the edge. "The magic of the Collar is leaching her mind! Get it off and get her out NOW!"
Kenneth wrapped an arm around his wife and felt Jens supporting him from her other side. Together the group barreled through the gauzy barrier and into the midday forest on the other side.
Nerissa darted in and unsnapped the Collar as Arielle regained her feet.
"Oh my head," she moaned. "Kenneth," she reached for her husband, "what are you doing here?" She pressed the heel of her hand to her forehead and squinted up at him.
Kenneth took her hands, trying not to let his excitement get the better of him. "Arielle," he stammered, "Arielle, I—"
"Yes?" She frowned at him. "Ken, what's with the crown? Why are—"
She could get no further as her husband wrapped his arms around her and kissed her deeply and fondly.
Arielle pulled away, concern mingled with shock in her eyes.
"I am so confused right now!" She whispered.
Kenneth took a step back. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean—I've just, I've been waiting so long to do that—"
Arielle blinked. "Do what? Kiss me? Are you kidding? You're my husband, you don't have to—" she stopped as their present situation overwhelmed her again. "Wait, okay, what are you doing here, again? And who are all these—" she glanced around at the burly giant and the two slender women with flawless skin and pointed ears, "people? And, come to think of it, where's here? What was that place?" She turned back the way they came, but her eyes saw only empty forest. "Wh-where did it go?"
Kenneth gulped. "Arielle, honey," he said softly. "How much do you remember?"
Arielle came back to stand beside him as she thought. "Well, I remember the team, we came here looking for... Something. I got lost—" she gasped. "The meteor! The Hebrides! The nebula! That's where we are?" She looked up at him. "Wait, how long was I lost?"
Kenneth gave her a wry smile. "They told me you were missing almost two years ago."
Arielle jerked away frantically. "TWO YEARS?" She exploded. "I was in that place for two years?? And, what, you just left me there? You didn't look for me for two years?" She stared at him with reproach in her eyes.
Kenneth shook his head. "No, you have it wrong; those two years... Every day since you went missing... I didn't just start looking for you after two years." He held out a hand to her. "I never stopped. It took me those two years just to find you. And—" he gestured to the group standing respectfully off to the side. "These people helped me find you. That's Nerissa and Relaya, Jens, and Agnes." He held Arielle's hand and smiled at her. "I would never have gotten you back without them." He turned to make eye contact with each of them. "Thank you all," he said warmly.
Agnes smiled and nodded, but Nerissa coughed and fidgeted with the hilt of the sword hanging from her belt. "Well, um, I think it's time for us to, uh—" she gestured to her head and raised an eyebrow to Kenneth.
He recalled the crown he still wore. "Oh," he snatched it off. "You should probably have this."
Nerissa accepted it, and clasped his hand. "Thank you for saving Serenity, Kenneth," she said softly. "The story of your valor will be passed down to our descendants for many generations to come."
Arielle sniffed. "Valor?" She murmured. "What valor? What is she talking about?"
Kenneth glanced at his wife sharply. "What do you mean what valor? I'll have you know I can be very valiant!"
She shrugged. "I'm just saying, valiance really isn't one of your dominant personality traits!"
As the Fae left, Jens trudged forward. In the Old Norse tongue, he told Kenneth, "I thank you for your wisdom. You took in a slobbering drunk and made him fit to lead his father's clan." The burly Northman cracked a grin. "When I return to my own time, the stories I will have to tell will not be believed! Lee-viss and YowTowb... Least of all the car-with-no-horses and the roasting-box!"
Kenneth chuckled. "It's called a microwave, Jens—but you don't have to know, I guess."
The friendly giant waved over his shoulder and trudged down the path leading to the portal that would take him back to his own time and place.
Only Agnes remained. 
"Where will you go?" Kenneth asked.
Agnes pressed her lips and huffed. "Well, I can tell you that I don't fancy traveling all the way back to my little old house in New York where I live alone with no family and nothing to do but sit for the rest of my days!" A slow smile crept across her face. "Luckily I happen to know a perfectly decent family who could use an extra pair of hands around the house—the one belonging to a certain museum curator we all know."
"Museum curator?" Arielle arched an eyebrow at Kenneth.
He shared the old woman's grin. "I'll explain later," he muttered to Arielle. To Agnes he said, "Say hi to Sarah and Lilly for me, okay?"
"I will," she promised as she stepped through the portal and disappeared.
Silence reigned in the forest. A thick, foggy cool crept in as the sun slowly sank under the horizon.
Arielle shivered and huddled closer to Kenneth's side.
"Now what are we going to do?" She asked.
Kenneth had not the slightest idea. "Well, if we can figure out what day it is—"
"You didn't say goodbye."

"AUGH!!" Arielle screamed and scurried to the other side of the clearing. "What is that?" She pointed, trembling and wide-eyed. "Where did it come from?"
Kenneth met the little wood-sprite's glare with suitable regret. "Nakoma! I'm sorry, we had a little emergency situation to take care of..." He held out his hand to Arielle, but she still balked. "It's okay, honey," he reassured her. "It's just another of my new friends. I actually met Nakoma right in this very spot. I told her about you, and she offered to help." At last, Arielle inched forward and Kenneth could introduce her. "Nakoma, this is my wife, Arielle."
The little sprite grinned, showing all her teeth. "You found your soul mate!" She gushed.
Husband and wife shared a glance. "Yeah," Kenneth said with a grin of his own. "I did, for good this time."
"I can help you return to your tribe," Nakoma offered. She pointed to the sky. "It is the first nightfall after the night you were lost in the woods, Kenneth," she declared. "Your tribe searched for you all day but could not find you. They are still on the island for one more night. Even now, they are searching one last time."
Kenneth heard faint threads of voices on the wind. He nodded. "Thank you, Nakoma." He crouched down and held out his arms.
The young Sprite ran to hug him without hesitation. "May you and your mate never stray far from one another again," she whispered. 
Arielle chuckled. "Yeah, I think my traveling days are over for a while."
Kenneth stood and grabbed her hand again. "That goes for both of us," he agreed.
Nakoma scurried back into the Druid Circle as the voices came closer.
"So," Arielle murmured urgently, "what's the story?"
"Well, when we first scattered in the woods, we were actually tracking Nakoma—"
"Poor thing!"
"Yeah; it's the guys from Dublin, they don't like unexpected variables of the non-human kind."
"The fairy-gold hunters? Oh, Kenneth!" Arielle frowned. "Why would you hook up with them of all people?"
He shrugged. "They wanted the vast hoard of treasure supposedly to be found in a Druid Circle. I happened to lose my wife on the very same island where a Druid Circle could be found. I was willing to do anything to get you back."
Arielle smiled and leaned into his shoulder. "And now you have me."
Kenneth wrapped her in a bear hug. "Yes I do." He paused as things clicked into place. "That's it! I was tracking the sprite and got lost, and then I found the place where you had been living for the last two years—"
"And now you're bringing me home!" Arielle finished. She laughed, "It's perfect! Just enough truth—"
"But with all the bits about magic portals and time travel taken out," Kenneth noted. He took her hand and led her toward the main path through the forest.
"Ready?" He asked.
Arielle just leaned on his shoulder. "Oh, I never want to be too far away from you ever again!" She sighed.
He patted her head. "We're soul mates," he repeated Nakoma's term. "No matter what, nothing can separate us for long."
Together they walked down the path to the camp, and to home.

And they stayed together for the rest of their lives.

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