Disclaimers: see Chapter 1
Chapter 5 Hallowed Lives
Cerys smelled the wonderful scent of cooking meat nearby and opened her eyes. She was surprised but pleased to recognize a familiar figure basting a rabbit over a hearth fire.
"Mother," she said softly, her voice raspy.
The older woman looked over with a smile and got up, bringing a cup of water over to her daughter. Janska helped Cerys sit up so she could take small sips from the cup.
"Easy, young one," Janska advised.
"Mama?" Cerys asked softly. "What happened?"
"Which part?" Janska smiled. "What we know is that you came back through the portal and was grabbed by Maleka and Jalek. We were able to storm the castle two days ago and get you out. Maleka was killed along with two of my best warriors. What happened on the other side?"
"They didn't expect Father to cross at the portal I was stationed at," Cerys began. "I was sent to recruit a writer."
"To inform more of the Terrains about the danger of vampires?" Janska asked.
"Yes, we were attacked by lower level vampires. The writer, Annie, turned out to be quite resourceful," Cerys smiled and Janska's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "We faced Father on Samhain, their Halloween."
"Did you kill him?" Janska asked softly.
"No, I don't think so," Cerys shook her head. "I wanted to and I tried. I was wounded but continued to fight. Arekla caught up and attacked Annie. She was too weakened to help and I had to face Father alone. I sealed the mine with explosions and dived through the portal. If he isn't dead then he's trapped in a cave in."
"Good, did your writer survive?"
"Yes, she was outside the mine," Cerys nodded with a smile.
"Are you going back to her?" Janska asked softly.
Cerys' eyes widened but looked away and nodded.
"I knew that look in your eyes, young one," Janska smiled gently. "You'd risk being caught there for eternity for a Terrain?"
"Yes," Cerys said softly. "She's incredible and she saved my life."
"Damn these alternate universes!" Janska grumbled. "She can't come here and you can't stay there without dire consequences."
"I know," Cerys agreed.
"You must think carefully about this, young one," Janska advised. "No Warder has ever stayed in their realm voluntarily. You would be without friends on either side."
"I know, the price is too high," Cerys agreed. "Having to drink the blood of the Terrains is difficult. The temptation to hunt instead of protecting them is always there. You can't go out in the daylight for fear of dying. It hurts to live like that."
"You would risk that for a Terrain?" Janska asked, watching her daughter closely. "Is a lesser being worth that?"
"Yes, and they aren't lesser beings just because very few of them can work magick," Cerys nodded, looking at her mother finally. "I can make trips back and forth, carry on our work on their side and come back before being trapped over there."
"Too risky," Janska commented. "Is she worth it?"
"Yes, she'd even be worth staying a vampire," Cerys said firmly.
"You fed on her, didn't you?"
"I was drained by another vampire and she risked it," Cerys explained.
"Oh sweet Maker," Janska whispered with apprehension thick in her voice. "You fell in love?"
"Yes," Cerys admitted, her voice almost cracking. "It's a deeper feeling than it was with Arekla."
"You know the Terrains won't allow you to stay as a vampire," Janska frowned. "Our understanding with them is mutual assistance as long as we don't increase the vampire population on their side."
"I know, Mom," Cerys said softly.
"If the Watchers turn against us then our work will be impossible on their side," Janska continued frowning. "The other Warders will hunt you both down and so will the Watchers."
"We have to figure something out, Mom," Cerys said softly, her voice small and vulnerable.
"Alright, we'll work on it," Janska said, encouraging Cerys to lie back down. "In the meantime, we have two of their months to stop your brother on this side of the portals."
"How bad am I injured?" Cerys asked, looking down at her wrapped ribs and numerous cuts from the torture.
"Not bad, actually," Janska smiled with pride. "Takes more than a couple of days to take out my daughter."
Annie grinned at the sound of Travis' boots on the stairs outside the apartment and got up to unlock the doors so he wouldn't have to fumble with his keys. She was greeted with a hug from the growing boy and a request for a soda.
"Nope, but you can clean your room and have a coke with dinner," Annie suggested.
"If I want milk with dinner?" he grinned impishly.
"You still get to clean your room," Annie grinned and resisted laughing at his frustrated frown. "Go on, Tramp."
"Okay, Mom," he smiled and handed her his lunchbox.
Annie grinned at her son shuffling his feet as he headed to his room. She waited until he reached his door and turned back to her laptop and her notes on Altercauff, Cerys, Warders, Sorcerer vampires and Portals.
Annie growled as she picked up the ringing telephone next to her laptop.
"Hello?" she answered, still typing out her thought.
"Annie? How's it going?" Jeannie's voice asked.
"Okay, got the outline done and working on the first bit," Annie responded, still distracted by her own thoughts crowding her head.
"Excellent news!" Jeannie's voice became excited. "I've got a Warder who wouldn't mind meeting you, if you're interested."
"Of course I'm interested, I still don't have enough background on Altercauff," Annie grumbled.
"Besides becoming a writer of vampires and fantasy, have you decided what kind of Watcher you'd like to work at?" Jeannie asked.
"Haven't decided," Annie said truthfully. "I've got this book running through my head and need to get it out. Not easy throwing in real life and turning it into fantasy but still telling the truth."
"I know, others have tried and didn't quite make it but I have every confidence in you," Jeannie said cheerfully.
"Thanks, we'll see," Annie said doubtfully. "When does this Warder want to meet?"
"Would tonight be inconvenient?"
"No, just planning on pizza and a rental movie for me and Travis," Annie said.
"I'll call her Watcher and arrange it, how about 8:30p.m?"
"Sounds good, Travis will be heading to bed about then," Annie agreed.
"Later then, I'll be coming along," Jeannie announced.
"Later," Annie smiled.
Cerys was finally able to move about in a couple of days with the help of crutches and was grateful to feel the warm sunshine on her skin. It had been so long since she had ventured out in the day that she was having trouble seeing in daylight.
"Good morning, Princess," Janska said cheerfully from the main fountain area.
"Hey, Mom," Cerys answered, her eyes half closed as she worked her way over to her mother.
"How are you feeling?" Janska asked and handed her daughter a hat to help with the sun.
"Thanks, Mom," Cerys managed to smile. "I'm okay. The legs are regaining their strength and the arm is healing well."
"I can see," Janska smiled as Cerys looked around the small village. It was like most villages Cerys had seen since she and her mother left her father's castle to escape his decline into the darkness.
This one was on the outskirts of a series of caves that were often a home to Resistance members.
"Look out!" someone shouted and everyone hit the ground without a thought. Cerys rolled over with a small sword in her hand and managed to smirk as a bolt of fire went flying over the heads of several villagers. Cerys sat up and looked at a small group of children and young teens.
Just as she expected, one of them was holding his hands over his face. The teacher stood up and looked around the village while the startled inhabitants regained their feet.
"Looks like Firedrake is still a little out of control," Janska grinned.
"Just a little," Cerys agreed as she squatted next to her mother.
One of the goals of the Resistance was to find the talented members of their society and train them to use their skills without falling into the temptation of the darkness. Whether the talents were physical or magickal, male or female, the Resistance wanted them trained correctly and ethically.
"So, what has been happening while I was gone?" Cerys asked, taking a bowl of stew from the older Warder, her mother.
"We managed to keep your brother off balance," Janska began. "Maleka and Jalek have been at each other's throats and have nearly split your father's power down the middle. Albrecht knew what he was doing when he left Maleka in charge and not your brother. They've been too busy trying to outsmart each other to cause too much trouble outside of the castle and that's kept your father's power at the same level as when he left."
"You mentioned Maleka was dead, how does that change the political situation?"
"Your brother has seized total control and plans on hunting the Resistance down," Janska explained.
"When does he plan on crossing to the Terrain side for his own power gain?"
"We're not sure," Janska complained. "Our spies tell us that he's planning on something big and that he wants you back, very badly."
"What could he want with me?"
"I'm not sure," Janska smiled slightly. "He wants both of us dead, he considers us a weakness."
"Why? We've never been close," Cerys questioned.
"I don't know," Janska repeated.
Annie was actually grateful that the Warder with Jeannie was nothing like Cerys. This one, Karsla, had brown hair, brown eyes and the perfect swimsuit model figure Annie had ever seen. The small blonde woman resisted growling at the vampire, though. Something about the way Karsla was looking at her made Annie uncomfortable.
Annie sat down at the kitchen table with her visitors, after putting Travis to bed. The writer and Watcher-to-be turned on a small tape recorder as Jeannie shifted nervously in her chair.
Annie tried not to glare as Karsla looked her up and down, almost smirking.
"Okay, Jeannie says that you can give me some background on your realm," Annie said, hoping to get down to business so as to get it over with and get this "strange ranger" out of her kitchen.
"Yes, I'm from the same area as Cerys," Karsla responded, even her perfect cheerleader voice grated on Annie's nerves.
Somehow, Annie pictured all the Warders like Cerys: tough, independent and… well, somewhat… butch! This supermodel with the attitude did not amuse Annie.
"Tell me about your realm," Annie urged.
"I can give better," Karsla smirked. "I knew Cerys and Arekla."
"Oh yeah, Cerys' ex lover," Annie smiled sweetly. "The one who went all power-hungry on everyone and sided with the big, bad guy? A personal friend of yours?"
Jeannie spilled her coffee as she leapt to her feet and positioned herself between the writer and vampire as they stood up a second later.
"Now goddamn it!" Jeannie shouted at both of them. "What the hell is going on here?"
"Ask her, she's the one looking at me like I'm a bug under a microscope," Annie growled.
"Damn, didn't any of the Watchers tell you?" Jeannine complained, motioning Karsla to sit back down. The Warder continued to glare at Annie for a moment longer but sat down at the urging of the Watcher.
"Tell me what?" Annie demanded.
"Well, the inhabitants of her realm, the ones that know about us," Jeannie stumbled. "They kinda look down on us Terrains."
"Their name for us," Jeannie muttered, not looking into Annie's flashing green eyes.
"They think they're better than us?" Annie growled and glared at Karsla.
"We know we are," the vampire grinned. "The ability to use magick, above you in the food chain when we're on this side, and amazing powers. Evolutionary superiority."
Annie felt her face flushing red with anger as she clenched her fists and resisted smacking the arrogant Warder in front of her.
"You may have elemental magick on your side but I think we've got the technology magick on our side. Do you even have flushing toilets over there?" Annie demanded and knew she had struck a cord when the Warder's eyes flashing angrily. "Well, let's skip that and get this over with, shall we? Tell me, superior being, how do you get a message to someone 100 miles away, carrier pigeon?"
Karsla was on her feet again in order to reach for Annie but everyone froze when Karsla looked down in mid-strike at the silver knife resting against her wrist. Brown eyes went to Annie's, a touch of hesitation in the vampire.
"It might be a little difficult fighting the bad guys with only one hand," Annie threatened. "You are a guest in my home, vampire, remember that and be polite. I'll do the same."
"Maybe we should arrange for you to meet another Warder, Annie," Jeannie said softly, her eyes wide.
Karsla slowly began drawing her hand back and Annie raised the blade slightly and didn't sit down until the Warder did.
Annie sat down with the knife in her hand on the table, obviously at the ready.
"Why are you so damned hostile, it's not just arrogance," Annie demanded from the Warder.
"You have two different fang scars," the Warder snarled. "You bear the marks of two different vampires."
Jeannie's eyes managed to get even wider.
"Yes, Cerys' nutcase of an ex tried to use me to get to Cerys," Annie admitted. "The other happened when Cerys gave herself up to a male vampire to save my son. He almost killed her and the only blood available was mine."
"So, our Cerys did fall for one of you," Karsla sneered. "I overheard Jeannie talking with one of those Watchers they set you up. Apparently you wear your heart on your sleeve, terrain."
"Jeannie, what the fuck is she talking about?"
"You didn't tell me that she fed on you," Jeannie snapped, her eyes accusing. "Warders don't feed from Watchers, screws up the working relationship."
"It was an emergency situation," Annie said, defending herself and her actions. "What the hell were you discussing with whom?"
"There are rules, agreements with the Warders," Jeannie began with a frown. "No Warder can feed from a Watcher or permanently stay in this realm."
"Because they'll be a vampire for eternity and can't cross back to their own realm after a year?" Annie asked and Jeannie nodded. "Okay, what's wrong with that? They only take blood from animals or consenting adults, they aren't like the bad guys."
"Because they fear our power, terrain," Karsla grinned. "They're afraid that we'll build in numbers and gain power in this world. Humans hate being second best in the food chain and fear losing their control in this realm."
"That's why no Warder has ever stayed?" Annie asked and both Watcher and Warder nodded. "And humans don't want to cross over there because they'll become ghouls and live on a diet of corpse meat, right?"
"Yes, they fear us almost as much as they fear the male vampires," Karsla sneered.
Jeannie's jaw clenched in anger but she didn't deny the Warder's words either.
"You throw me in with a vampire without my consent or knowledge," Annie growled. "You endanger me and my son. You've been acting like you wanted me to be attracted to Cerys. Jeannie, how far did you intend it to go? Was she supposed to sleep with me to convince me and then leave?"
"No, nothing like that," Jeannie mumbled. "Cerys knew nothing of me hoping the two of you might be attracted to each other. I thought that you'd be more inclined to write the book and become a Watcher if you liked the first Warder you came into contact with. Cerys had been here almost a year and had to leave. I knew even if you two connected beyond the basics of a friendly encounter that it wouldn't matter because she was leaving."
"You see, terrain," Karsla growled, losing her smirk. "They're so scared of us that the agreement is that any Warder or vampire from my realm that chooses to stay here is fair game and is treated like any other evil vampire."
"What?" Annie snapped, her green eyes flashing again.
"Don't give me 'what,'" Jeannie snapped back. "This isn't fucking Ellis Island! One vampire being allowed to stay will encourage others and we can't have that. Vampires aren't meant to be in this realm, it's against nature and we can't endanger the balance of power in this realm."
"If Cerys and I had fallen madly in love and she stayed behind with me, what would you and your Watchers have done?" Annie asked softly.
"Hunted and killed both of you," Jeannie admitted, her eyes angry at being forced in a corner and into the truth.
Annie was shocked into silence. After a few moments of trying to sort out her thoughts, the writer looked up at the Warder.
"Why was Cerys so unlike you?"
"She was here almost a year, it weakens us and makes us sentimental over you Terrains," Karsla shrugged. "You also look like Arekla."
Annie frowned and shut off the tape recorder. "I think you'd better go, Jeannie, both of you."
"Annie, please," the Watcher begged. "Let's talk about this."
"Not tonight, I need to think," Annie growled and pointed to the door.
The writer didn't move from the chair until she heard the door shut firmly behind Jeannie and the bitch of a Warder. She went down the hall and opened Travis' door, checking on her son as he slept on the top bunk. It was another point where she had given into him. Even if he didn't have a brother or sister to share the bunk bed set with, he argued that he could have friends for sleep-overs someday. For now, his stuffed animals occupied the lower bunk.
Annie frowned and curled up on the lower bunk, wrapping her arms around one of his stuffed rabbits. A flash of silver shined in the moonlight from his window as she placed the silver knife under a spare pillow. Travis' mother fell into a troubled sleep.
Cerys winced as she attempted to bend over and pick up a fallen spear. She was standing at the railing surrounding the practice yard when the young woman next to her dropped the spear.
"Don't bother," the girl snapped and grabbed the spear up.
Cerys straightened up slowly and looked down at the young teenager with a puzzled gaze. She was surprised at the hostility she found in the girl's golden eyes.
"What have I done to you, young one?" Cerys asked.
"There's rumors that your mate turned to your father's side and you fell for a Terrain," the girl growled.
"It is true that my mate was seduced by the power of the darker magick," Cerys said, trying to keep calm. "She has become evil and a permanent vampire on the other side."
"And the Terrain?" the girl practically spit the words out at Cerys.
"I spent almost a year of their time in that realm, the Terrains aren't much different than we are," Cerys said gently, turning her attention back to the villagers sparring in the square's yard.
"They call us monsters when we cross to help them and can't do magick," the youngster's voice was arrogant and challenging.
"Some can do magick and some understand that crossing through a portal causes changes to both us and the Terrains," Cerys explained. "There are good Terrains and bad, just like there is evil and good on this side."
"How could you even get friendly with them?" the girl asked, the scorn not as thick in her voice.
"It's necessary," Cerys said, leaning down on the railing. "When we cross, we do become something like a monster. We have to live on the blood of mammals, preferring Terrain blood."
"I know, that part is yucky," the girl admitted.
"What's your name?" Cerys asked.
"It's…different, Llansia," Cerys shrugged. "Because of our oaths as Warders, we can't take blood from someone unwilling. That means we have to work together with the Terrains, the Watchers and those willing to share their blood with us."
Llansia frowned. "Do you like them?"
"I found they are very similar to us," Cerys said easily.
"What's different?" the young girl asked, now curious rather than hostile.
"They aren't as connected to each other," Cerys frowned, trying to gather her thoughts. "Some of them actually live very far away from their parents and families."
"Really?" Llansia asked, her face incredulous.
"Yeah, some of them make their close friends their family," Cerys explained. "Others travel great distances to see their families on ritual holidays. They devote much of their energy to their jobs, what they call careers; they don't devote it to the family and clan, like we do. Some of them are very rigid in their beliefs, worse than our dark males. Others are very loving and open minded."
"Why are we taught to dislike them?" Llansia asked, genuinely curious now.
"The Terrains that know about us are afraid, even those that work with us," Cerys frowned. "They fear our strength. The Watchers work with us so they can keep our presence under control and eliminate the dangerous ones. Part of our treaty, our agreement, with them is that we don't encourage Warders to stay in their realm."
"Because we'd be cursed as vampires for eternity," Llansia guessed.
"Yes," Cerys' frown deepened.
Annie spent three days brooding. She refused to answer the telephone, despite countless messages from Jeannie and the other Watchers she had met.
The writer kept Travis home from school as well and they spent the time like it was a rainy weekend, lots of popcorn, videotapes and video games. Annie also spent long hours into the night on her laptop, writing down everything she had seen, heard, and learned about Cerys and the reality of vampires.
One the morning of the third day, Annie brushed her blonde hair off her forehead as she sat by her window, cup of tea in hand.
The writer knew that she was putting herself and Travis in danger by isolating like she was but she wanted some time away from Jeannie's persuasive words. Annie knew very clearly that Watchers might consider her a threat now if she didn't buckle under their control. With Annie as a threat, that would include Travis as well.
The blonde hadn't seen anyone watching the apartment but logical thoughts lead Annie to the conclusion that they were there. Doing what they did best, watch.
Annie cursed the ringing telephone and finally picked it up.
"What, Jeannie?" she snapped.
"Damnit, you have the entire organization in an uproar!" Jeannie snapped back.
"Yeah, like I care!" Annie growled.
"You're smart, Annie," Jeannie's voice lowered. "I know you care and I know you realize the score. You're no longer a free agent and neither am I."
"You'll mourn my loss but you'll follow orders, right?" Annie asked bitterly.
"What do you want, Annie?" Jeannie asked, her voice sounding tired. "You want me to lie to you to make you feel better?"
"No," Annie admitted, her own voice softening. "I just don't like being told what to do with my life and the life of my son. Your organization is saying that if I don't play along then I disappear and so does Travis."
"I'm sorry, Annie," Jeannie said softly. "I really am but these damned rules have been around for hundreds of years and are meant to protect both cultures from the negatives of each side."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better? To know that we accept the Warders, fight with them, find them blood and yet despise them? If they choose to stay we then hunt them down like animals?" Annie snapped. "Cerys stayed here almost a year fighting others from her realm for us and you would have turned on her?"
"She was fighting for her side as well," Jeannie pointed out. "They despise us almost as much as we despise them. Her own people would hunt her down if she had stayed."
"Damn you all," Annie growled and almost hung up the phone.
"Annie," Jeannie's pleading voice stopped the writer. "I never meant for you to fall for Cerys, honest. I thought you two would connect but not like you did, apparently."
"I didn't either and neither did Cerys," Annie muttered, her anger dissipating rapidly, leaving her tired.
"I didn't think you believed in love at first sight," Jeannie attempted to tease her favorite new author.
"I didn't either until I looked into those blue eyes," Annie managed a small smile which could be heard in her voice.
"The feelings haven't lessened now that you're out of danger? You know intense situations can cause instant bonding," Jeannie pointed out.
"I know, that's why people skydive naked and screw like crazy lunatics when they hit the ground," Annie grinned and then lost the grin. "No, the feelings haven't eased up at all. I don't understand it, Jeannie."
"Did you have sex with her? I've heard it's intense as hell with a Warder," Jeannie commented.
"No, we kissed and she fed from me when she was dying, but nothing more," Annie said bitterly.
"Annie, what did she say about the relationship?" Jeannie asked and Annie hesitated.
The writer knew that Jeannie could turn into the enemy in a moment if she said the wrong thing and she would never see Cerys again. Annie wasn't sure what the wrong words were.
"That she wants to cross back over on the Solstice and see me for awhile," Annie admitted.
"Damnit!" Jeannie suddenly shouted. "That's much too soon after being here almost a year! I was afraid of that! Goddamnit! You two have it bad for each other. I've never seen or heard of this before."
"What, two people falling in love, Watcher and Warder?"
"No, it's happened before but everyone knew their place and the realities and let go of each other," Jeannie snapped back.
"Fuck your rules, why can't we have an international type dating arrangement?" Annie asked, her voice sullen.
"Because she runs the risk of becoming a permanent vampire and being stuck here," Jeannie countered.
Annie grew quiet as her mind desperately searched for answers she could live with.
"Is she coming back across?" Jeannie asked, her voice softer.
"Cerys said on the Solstice, that you would know where and to take me there," Annie admitted.
It was now Jeannie's turn to grow silent.
"So now what?" Annie asked after several moments. "Do you take me to her or do you kill me now and kill her when she crosses over?"
"I don't know, Annie," Jeannie admitted in an almost whisper.
"Give us a chance," Annie pleaded and hated herself for begging. "We can find a way."
"Don't you think others have looked?" Jeannie asked wearily.
"No, I don't," Annie growled. "Everyone was worried about the rules and how 'wrong' it was and didn't look for answers."
Annie could almost see Jeannie frowning in thought and let the editor/Watcher stew for a few minutes.
"Jeannie?" Annie asked softly.
"Alright, you know I'm a sucker for romance," Jeannie growled, as if angry with herself. "I'll take you to her and you had both better come up with answers before February 2nd."
"Come over in a couple of hours and tell me what's going to happen with the Watchers and me," Annie suggested.
"Alright, I'll bring pizza," Jeannie agreed.
"No olives," Annie growled and hung up, wondering if she had signed her own death warrant by trusting Jeannie.
Cerys blinked as someone wrapped their arm around her shoulders, a voice soothing and comforting.
The Warder tried to relax her body, realizing she had been having a nightmare again and the woman holding her was her mother, not Annie.
Janska saw coherent thought enter her daughter's eyes and then the pain.
"What was the dream, my daughter?" she asked softly.
"Same as always, Arelka sinking her fangs into Annie's throat," Cerys said softly, glancing around and relieved to discover she hadn't awakened the rest of the Lodge. The warrior was still adjusting to sleeping with so many others around after nearly a year spent in isolation during the daylight. Adjusting to being human again was proving more difficult than Cerys had thought it would.
"It's not getting better with the distance and time, is it?" Janska asked, echoing Jeannie's questions to Annie.
"No, I can't believe this," Cerys complained as her mother handed her a fur robe and Cerys slipped into fur lined boots. She followed her mother out of the lodge as the older woman walked over to the fire and sat down on a log.
"I mean, I know we're more emotional than they are but this is ridiculous!" Cerys complained. "I was only with her a couple of days and nights."
"You did feed from her and it went a little further than that, didn't it?" Janska asked.
"No, yes… a little bit," Cerys admitted.
"Does she feel as strongly as you?"
"Yes," Cerys said softly, closing her eyes against the memory of Annie's hurt and betrayed eyes when the Warder turned to leave her in the tunnel. "She was willing to risk it."
"She truly doesn't know everything though," Janska pointed out.
"No, she was willing for her and her son to come here until I mentioned the bit about becoming a ghoul," Cerys managed to smile slightly as she opened her eyes to look at the moons above.
"Does tend to discourage them, doesn't it," Janska laughed softly.
"What am I going to do, Mom?" Cerys asked, her voice becoming serious. "I know I can't stay over there longer than one portal to the next and even that may be too risky."
"My advice is to not cross again," Janksa said calmly and noted her daughter's jaw muscles tightening in response and the flare in Cery's bright blue eyes. "Stay here, help us destroy your brother and regain power in this region for the powers of Light. You'll grieve and always wonder what might have been with your writer but you'll move on."
Cerys frowned and stared into the fire for several long moments.
Janska wasn't surprised when her daughter got up and began pacing back and forth in front of the fire, her head lowered, deep in thought.
"I can't, Mother," Cerys finally said, her head still lowered as tears began to streak her cheeks.
Janska was stunned into silence. She had never seen her daughter cry, not even when they had fled the castle when Cerys was only 10 winters old. The girl hadn't cried when her best friend had been captured by her own father and turned into a demon. A demon that had preyed on innocent villagers until it was hunted down and destroyed. Cerys hadn't cried when her brother disappeared one night and all traces led to her father's castle and his evil influence.
Her daughter hadn't cried when Janska would disappear for months at a time, crossing through a portal and being a Warder herself.
Never once during the rigorous training to become a warrior for both realms had Cerys cried and she was never broken either.
Now, standing in front of her, Janska saw her daughter was emotionally broken enough to cry.
"You didn't shed tears for your mate but you do for a Terrain you knew but three days?" Janska asked softly.
Cerys nodded, her face reflecting her misery.
It was Janska's turn to fall into silence, lost in deep thought for several minutes.
"Cerys," she said after awhile and bright blue eyes looked up at her. The mother could see the natural defiance and rebellion in them but also a touch of fear. Janska knew that Cerys was facing total rejection by everyone in both realms, all for the love of a Terrain.
"Cerys, we will find a way then," Janska said as she opened her arms.
Cerys blinked in disbelief and threw herself at her mother's knees where she was enveloped in Janska's arms as the warrior began to sob.
"We'll go to the scribes and mages and see if we can find an answer," Janska promised while holding her distraught daughter.
Jeannie actually tried to scowl for a moment when Annie opened the door but the writer looked so miserable that the editor/Watcher couldn't keep it up.
"I don't know if there's any hope or not but we'll look for a way," Jeannie promised her friend.
"What will happen if Cerys stays and you help us?" Annie asked as she grabbed paper plates down for the pizza and called Travis from his bedroom.
"We'll all be hunted down and killed," Jeannie muttered.
"Jeannie, just tell me where the portal Cerys is coming through and then get out of it," Annie urged. "This isn't your fight."
"I got you involved, you don't know how the Council works, and I like you both," Jeannie said, rattling off the reasons she wasn't going to step back from the problem. "If we can find a way to make Cerys tame, non-vampire, or unable to turn others into a vampire, maybe the Council would ignore the two of you."
"Probably not, though, right?"
"No, just to be on the safe side they'd probably kill everyone and let God sort 'em out, as they say," Jeannie agreed.
"So, either we fake our deaths, I jump over to their side and become a ghoul without Travis, or we run for the rest of our lives," Annie growled.
"You left out Cerys staying in her realm or going back alone," Jeannie pointed out.
"That's not an option," Annie whispered, her eyes fearful. "I don't think I can make it without her."
"Then that's about it," Jeannie agreed. "You'll be hunted by vampires, Watchers, Warders, and vampire hunters. You'll have to deal with caring for a little boy while running for your lives and dealing with Cerys' blood hunger."
"Oh God, Travis," Annie muttered as the youngster scrambled into the kitchen, his face lighting up at the sight of Jeannie and pizza.
Annie frowned, watching her son. How could she endanger him, even for a chance at love?
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