Marvels and Misfits – Scarlett Dawn

“Trixie! Quit setting your Fae-gifted pegasus on fire!” Grandmother Isabella barked. Her silver shoulder-length hair whipped back in the wind from her fast march across the moon-brightened field, and her silver eyes flashed with humored love. Her young features pinched as she attempted to keep her amusement hidden, waving one pointed finger right at the tip of my nose as she came to a stop next to me. “You must cherish what the Fae gift you. Not torture the bloody beast.” I rolled my eyes up to the gleaming silver orb in the star-studded dark sky, exasperated by this old argument. I didn’t let my royal firepower lessen, the flames still leaping off and around my ‘bloody beast.’ “Grandmother, look at Penelope. Does she look like she’s in pain?” Her too-slender arms crossed over her chest, and she muttered, “That is beside the point.” “Father said I must continue to do this, despite your complaints.” I curled my outstretched fingers, the flames burning even brighter. “If I use my power while I’m riding her, she cannot be frightened.” Grandmother’s silver eyes narrowed. “Does she look frightened to you?” “No.” My smirk was far too large, not humble at all.

“Exactly. You have been doing this since you were five years old. Thirteen years is more than enough time for Penelope to get over her fear.” The smile on my face dimmed as confusion entered my gaze. “But Father said I must.” Her heavy exhale fluttered the hair around her gaunt cheeks. “I’m sorry, Trixie, but your father has no idea that you’ve been working ever so long on this. The king only sees her acting up when you two fly your beasts together. He’s simply worried and doesn’t know all of the details.” My hands dropped to my sides, and my power fizzled out to nothing.

The slump of my shoulders was familiar when speaking about my father. I waved a frustrated hand at the small castle where my grandmother and I lived—alone. Situated behind the much larger palace where the king and my mother lived, only a long flower-covered field separated our two dwellings. I grumbled quietly, “He’d have all the details if he would come around more.” Grandma Isabella nodded her head in tender sympathy. “Your father is around a lot more than most rulers. I’ve explained this before, my dearheart. He does care about you and loves you fiercely. You must understand that his role in life keeps him terribly busy.” “Hmph.

” One silver brow arched. “Trust me on this, Trixie. You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat their children. The more loving a parent, the better ruler of their people.” My nose crinkled. She may be right. “All right. If you need to hear this again… How long has your father ruled?” Grandmother didn’t give up. The soothsayer never did. It wasn’t in her to back down.

“A thousand years,” I muttered. Grandmother was in full teacher mode now. Wonderful. “In the complete history of the five kingdoms, has any ruler lived without having their Fae-spark destroyed by assassins—bought and paid for by the ones they rule—for over five hundred years if they aren’t loved and well taken care of?” “No,” I acknowledged. Grandmother was a brilliant teacher. And an even better parent figure. She’s been both for me, sheltered away from the populace as I have been. She is the light to my dark…even if her power is considered on the dark side for elves, as is mine. But she is the woman I want to be when I grow older. Every ounce of fortitude, love, and respect contained in her heart and mind I wish to have in my own one day.

“Precisely. It has been noted, throughout time, that the rulers who truly adore their children are spectacular rulers.” Grandmother may have been preening with pride now—just a little. “I raised a wonderful son to be your father. One who does love you, Trixie, but he simply cannot spend all waking hours with you. He must rule.” My sigh was heavy. “I know. I know.” “No, you don’t.

Not truly. One day you will know what I speak of, but for now, you can only speculate and learn. You will understand in time—” Her words were cut off sharply. Worry instantly crinkled my forehead. “Grandmother?” Her blink was slow. Closing…then finally opening. Grandmother’s ordinarily silver eyes reflected with gold. I quickly grabbed her around the waist right before her entire body went rigid in my arms, her limbs beginning to quake with uncontrolled movements. Trying to lie her down on the cool grass knocked the breath out of me, one of her elbows spiking right into my chest with enough power that I heard one of my ribs break—then snap back into place a moment later. The soft ground cushioned her body as she flailed, lost in one of her visions.

I positioned myself above her head and kept my hands gently on her cheeks so I would be the first thing she saw when she broke free. No matter that my grandmother was over two thousand years old, the soothsayer was always frightened when she came to. My father may be the king of our people, but I still fully believed my grandmother had more power in terms of position in life. Both were unbelievably daunting, but hers was harder, in my humble opinion. In other words, my grandmother was an elven badass. Moonbeams gently swayed over the two of us, directed by passing clouds, as the green grass tickled my bare knees planted on the soft soil. My black skirt fanned around my body, and my thumbs brushed against my grandmother’s tormented face. I hummed a soft, soothing tune while I waited for her vision to end, trying my hardest to ignore the pain she was inflicting on herself while she thrashed and beat at the ground with her arms and legs. It always took a few minutes afterward for her body to heal all the broken bones. Not being tied down helped—that only made the injuries worse.

The elven nursery song I sang flew away on the night’s breeze as her vision subsided in slow increments. Her arms and legs fell helplessly to the ground, her arched back smacked down with labored breathing. Her fingers and feet still twitched a rhythm I would never know, until her eyes blinked once more. Grandmother’s striking silver eyes, the gold evanescent, stared up at me. Her harsh intake of breath was nothing new. But the scream that escaped her mouth was. I stopped petting her hair, asking quickly, “What’s wrong?” Bones popped back together, even as she started to roll onto her side to hold my regard with absolute conviction. “Go to your father now. Run, Trixie. Run.

And bring my son back here.” “Why?” I whispered, my adrenaline spiking. “Now, Trixie. There is no time for questions.” She pulled up onto her knees and shoved my left shoulder. “Do it now. That is an order from your family elder.” My chin trembled for the barest beat, and my two tiny fangs bit into my bottom lip. Then I nodded, not about to disobey. I jumped to my feet and started running to the king’s castle.

I bellowed my harsh command over my shoulder, “Penelope! I need you. Don’t give me any of your Fae shit, and hurry!” For once, my pegasus actually submitted. Penelope’s hooves beat the ground behind me until she caught up, her whinny loud in the air as she ran next to me. Without stopping, I grabbed her red and black mane and hefted myself onto her black back. Her black and red wings pulled in to cover my legs since I wasn’t wearing a saddle, holding me safely in place. There was no need to fly. The takeoff taking too long, my Fae-gift ran full speed toward the only open back door on the castle. Penelope jumped inside, and we skidded against the tiles in the kitchen as she tried to slow down. Her left flank slammed into a wall, not brutal enough to break any of my bones or hers, but the pots hanging on the wall did clatter down to the floor around us—and there was a nice Penelope-sized dent in the wall now. The late night meant there were few kitchen staffers.

The three here held themselves against their workstations, gripping the steel with white knuckles after their scramble to get out of the way. Their silly, white poufy hats were askew on their heads, and their jaws hung wide open. “Where is my father?” I questioned. The three workers merely stared, nothing emitting from their throats. Their shock still held them at bay. “My father!” I shouted and jutted out my chin. I glared down at them like the crown heir to the kingdom that I was. “Where is he?” The man in the middle lifted his right hand and pointed. I bypassed the way it trembled and swung my attention to the door on the right. He cleared his throat and finally spoke, “We were fixing the king a snack.

He’s in his study.” “Open the door for us,” I ordered. “Immediately.” The staffer’s feet pedaled swiftly to do as told. Penelope trotted as fast as she could on the tiles, her clopping hooves obscene against the stillness of the royal castle. Not once did she buck as I turned her down different halls, loyally doing as I bid. My heart hammered in my chest as we stopped next to the study’s grand oak doors. I used the side of my left fist to bang on them, the bolts rattling on the doorframe from the strength of my blows. I bellowed, “Father!” King Traevon Towers threw the doors open seconds later. The emerald green of his eyes, identical to mine, stared at me in quiet calculation, the way my chest heaved with adrenaline and the death grip I had on my Fae-gift’s mane.

Not to mention, Penelope was inside the castle—most certainly against the rules. My father pulled his dark red, shoulder-length hair up into a small knot at the top of his head, already preparing for battle. His small fangs flashed in the light. “Tell me what has happened.” “Grandmother had a vision, and, after, she ordered me as a family elder to leave her and get you.” I honored my grandmother too much not to listen. “There’s something wrong, Father. I’ve never seen her so serious.” King Traevon nodded his head once and maneuvered around Penelope’s body. His march down the tiled hallway was silent, unlike when he barked, “Stay here and don’t let Penelope shit on my floor.

And if you see your mother, keep her inside, too.” “Father!” I argued. “Do not disobey me, Trixie,” he growled. The king disappeared around the corner, small sparks of fire already dancing from the tips of his fingers. He hardly ever let his power show, always so in control. He was absolutely ready to use his royal elven firepower if needed. My right fang bit into my bottom lip hard enough that a drop of blood pooled around my tooth. I whispered under my breath, “To Fairy with that.” I jerked on the mane twisted between my clenched fingers. Penelope didn’t move.

Not now! I leaned over and spoke harshly near her twitching left ear, “If you don’t do as you’re told, I won’t give you a blue apple for a full year.” My pegasus snorted and turned her head to stare back at me with one fiery red eye, her mutiny obvious. “I am your owner, not him. He has Javon. I don’t care what the king said. My grandmother is scared.” Her nose twitched…just a smidge. I had her. “That’s right. Grandmother.

Now get your stubborn pegasus ass moving.” Penelope’s ears twitched again—this time in agreement. I held on tightly as I led her the opposite way my father had gone, not wanting to bump into him if he was still inside. I had to get down a few times to open doors, but we were swiftly racing over the field of flowers separating Father’s castle from the heir’s castle. Her hooves beat a swift tempo that was coordinated with my heart, my nervousness ratcheting up as my father’s shadowy silhouette came into view in the dark of the night. The King of Elves was on his knees, his head bent as if in prayer to the Fae. Silver hair glinted in the moonlight on the still form lying on the ground next to him. My grandmother’s injuries should have healed by now. She should be moving. Did another vision hit her while I wasn’t there? My father’s attention snapped in my direction when he heard my Fae-gift’s hoofbeats, fire once again twirling on his fingertips, but he immediately extinguished his power, recognizing me.

He lifted his left hand, throwing it up in a stopping gesture, and bellowed an anguished order, “Don’t come any closer, Trixie! Stay back!” I didn’t listen. Fairy! Penelope didn’t even listen. We sprinted faster. My father was never…sad? The king’s hand dropped to his side in defeat. Penelope whinnied and reared up as we stopped, her call bereft in the night air at what we viewed —calling her father, if I wasn’t mistaken, even when she tried to be tough every other day with him. When her front hooves landed, I dismounted on stiff legs. I didn’t understand what I was seeing. I…did. But my brain refused to believe it. Why was there a hole in my sweet grandmother’s chest? This made no sense.

Her loving heart holding her Fae-spark should be there. Instead, her heart was crushed and mutilated and lay next to her left shoulder on the dirt. Misplaced. It should be in her chest. Her chest shouldn’t have a fist-sized hole in it. Her head shouldn’t be five feet away from her body. I couldn’t… This didn’t… My grandmother… I jerked to the side and lost everything in my stomach all over the trampled flowers under my feet. Father didn’t look up from his mother, his form still kneeling on the ground, but he lifted his left hand and placed it gently on my left shoulder while I continued to be sick. Hoofbeats could be heard in the distance. I didn’t bother looking up as tears filled my eyes.

Javon, my father’s Fae-gifted pegasus and Penelope’s sire, was hurtling toward us, answering his daughter’s forlorn call. I spat on the ground and gulped in much-needed oxygen, my emerald eyes slamming to my father’s profile. My agonized cry hurt my ears, “I don’t understand. She was fine when I left her.” The king swallowed hard and turned his wet eyes toward me, pinning me with his gaze. “Look around you. She was attacked.” I stood up straight on shaky legs, brushing Father’s hand off my shoulder, and tried to focus on our surroundings. Flowers upon flowers and the grass were flattened in a large circle around her body, the indented grass heading off toward one of our less fortified areas on the royal property. “She didn’t fight, either,” Father said quietly, almost a mere breath of air.

He hesitated before lifting her right hand from the ground, holding it reverently so that I could see, his caster-spelled ring twinkling in the moonlight from his middle finger. “There are no defensive marks anywhere that I can see.” Hot tears slid down my face. “She knew.” Father nodded once. “She knew it was her time.” A shuddering breath flew past my lips, clarity slamming my thoughts, my stomach churning all over again. “And she wanted to protect me.” “Yes.” Father looked up into my eyes.

“She loved you with all she had, Trixie. She always did. Your grandmother is…was…always so proud of you.” A torrent of tears blurred my vision. I choked, “She was proud of you, too, Father.” “I know,” he whispered. The king placed her hand back onto the ground and squeezed it softly before releasing her. His jaw hardened suddenly, and his glistening emerald eyes slowly traveled the way the intruders had entered and fled. “It’s time for you to do as I said before. You must go back inside while I tend to business.

” My jaw clenched just as much as his. “If you think for one damn second that I’m not going with you to hunt these murderers down, then you really don’t know me at all—as I’ve always suspected.” The king still stared ahead, his scan roaming over the crushed field. “I do know you, despite what you think. And I know you are not ready for this. You are only eighteen years old. You are not prepared for the vengeance that needs to happen.” “They beheaded her,” I said through gritted teeth, my fists clenched at my sides. “There was no need for that. They crushed her Fae-spark.

That was enough to kill her. But they removed her head too, to show us they could.” The king ignored me. So I stuck the dagger deep. “I will be there, right next to you, to exact justice for a woman who was more a parent to me than you ever were.” Father’s head snapped around, his steady eyes assessing my features. Then he said quietly, “You truly believe that.” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement of fact. With my tears still tracking down my cheeks, I lifted my chin high into the air and peered down my small, regal nose at the king.

I hissed, “Yes.” His emerald eyes narrowed slightly. “You are wrong. This proves what I said before. You are too young to go with me.” I never argued with Father. Not only did his blood run through my veins…he was also my king. This time, though, there was no way to hold back my words, not with the one light in my life now burned out and lying dead at my feet. I tipped my chin up even higher and lowered my voice to show how deadly serious I was. “Try to stop me.

I know our land just as well as you. You won’t be able to keep me here.” Our stare lasted forever, neither of us backing down. I showed him I was the heir to the throne. He shoved back that he was the king. I almost faltered and dipped my head in submission. But I held strong. I was right. My resolve never faltered. A golden light began to waver near my grandmother’s body, hovering just over her elven corpse.

Both our gazes snapped to the odd phenomenon, abruptly ending our confrontation. Crashing waves of golden light slithered up and down her body. It pulled and dragged at her corpse, clutching her form so fiercely her too-thin frame bowed off the ground in the growing glow. Father jumped to his feet in one fluid movement, and then he was quickly shoving me behind him and holding me there with both his hands on my hips in a grip tight enough to leave bruises. I attempted to peek around his right shoulder, my hands grasping his tunic in clenched fists against his back, but he put one foot back and then another, cautiously backing us away from the unknown. “W-what is that?” I stuttered. “Shh. Be quiet,” Father whispered sharply. Step by slow step, we and Penelope and Javon traveled farther away from the golden light currently seeping into my grandmother’s body, her corpse contorting in unnatural angles a foot off the ground, floating in the air and shimmering unnaturally. I kept one eye looking past his shoulder to keep watch, although my father was observing plenty for us, his hold on me absolute.

Then the unbelievable happened. The golden light exploded in a dazzling burst. My grandmother’s corpse dropped to the ground. Right above her body, a facsimile of my grandmother stood, slightly transparent, her form faintly swaying in the small breeze, various parts of her moving at frightening angles. Father stopped cold, halting our progress. His clenching grasp on my hips released and his hands hung limply by his sides. The king mumbled in awe, “Oh my Fae.” My blink was slow. “I don’t understand.” Grandmother’s lips curved up at the edges, and her gaze moved from my father to me.

“Do not fear me, my dearheart. My shell may be dead, but my Fae-spark is very much alive.” I released the hold I had on my father’s tunic and tentatively stepped out from behind my father since he wasn’t afraid of whatever this was before us. My mouth bobbed up and down until I could finally gasp. “But how?” Father waved his right hand to hush me, his shocked attention unyielding on his mother. “This has happened before in history. It’s extremely rare, but it has happened. Maybe three times since the Fae created us.” I moved an inch closer to my father, our sides brushing, as I eyed the spirit warily. “Grandmother never taught me anything of the sort.

” The spirit patted the air with her translucent hands. “Calm down, Trixie. Your father is right, although, it had previously only been two times in history, not three. I will not harm you.” My emerald eyes narrowed on her. The tears of her death were still wet on my face. Father may understand this, but I did not. “I promise,” she soothed, her silver eyes holding only honesty. “It’s why I didn’t say goodbye to you. I knew I would be back.

And just as I would never harm my two sons, I would never hurt you. My appearance may have changed, but not my heart.” I pressed harder against my father’s side and whispered under my breath, “What the Fae fuck is she?” Father snorted a quiet laugh and turned his stunned gaze toward me. “She is your grandmother, just as she said.” My lips thinned into a straight line. “Are you positive, Father?” “I am.” The shock began to wear off his features and quickly started to morph to one of fury. His regard swung back to his mother. “Who killed you?” One side of her mouth curled up into a malicious grin. “Follow the drums, my king.

They won’t lead you astray. There you will find my murderers, arranged to be slain.” As alarming as this unnatural marvel before me may be, my back snapped up straight. If this spirit didn’t lead us to death, I would trust my father and her word that she was indeed my grandmother. But I would be there to protect my father if this was a morbid spell from the Caster Kingdom. I growled, “I’m going, too.” Silver eyes pierced mine. “Happy hunting, my dearheart.” * * * Pink, blue, green, and yellow flower petals scattered the king’s foyer as my mother stormed up the grand curving staircase. Minnie paused halfway up and glared back at my father.

“I cannot believe you are allowing our daughter to go with you.” The king shook his head, his sigh reverberating in the silence. “Would you like to talk some sense into her, love?” My mother’s golden, expressive eyes, a gaze full of fear for me, fell onto my person. She shook her head in dismay, more flower petals falling from her seafoam green hair in her distress, then swiftly swept her strained concern back to my father. “She got her stubbornness from you. If anything happens to her, I will blame you for eternity!” “I understand,” Father said stoically. Minnie huffed and cast one more glance in my direction. She mumbled under her breath the entire way up the rest of the stairs, hundreds of flower petals sprinkling the air and floating back and forth on their way to the ground. Her short, curvy body trudged away from our view. I cleared my throat and shouted, “I love you, Mother!” “I love you, too!” Her voice rang clearly.

“And don’t you dare get killed. I want your elven butt home right after you make those damned criminals bleed.” “Yes, Mother.” I tilted casually toward my father and lowered my voice. “She does know we’re going to kill them, right?” “Of course she does. She’s simply being polite about it.” King Traevon pivoted on his heel and strode out the front door when a servant opened it for him. I quickly ran after him. Father waited until we were clear of listening ears before he stated, “Ask your question. I know you’ve been waiting.

” My chest rose and fell in exasperation. “You don’t always know everything.” “I know almost everything. Ask.” “Fine. Why didn’t you tell Mother about Grandmother’s spirit?” “Because she doesn’t need to know. As I said before, what happened to your grandmother is extremely rare. Anyone who knows could be at risk. Many people would obsess and take horrifying actions to try to find a way for their loved ones to come back from the dead. Including hurting you or me for information.

” “How did it happen?” Not that I believed it was actually my grandmother. Not yet, anyway. Father shook his head. “That’s the dreadful part. No one really knows. Your guess is as good as mine, or even your grandmother’s, for that matter.” My soft soled shoes tapped lightly on the cobblestones beneath my feet as we walked through the castle gates that had opened for us. “What is your guess?” “Only a pureblood Fae can completely bring someone back to life, as they did with the five originals who kept killing each other. So I believe Isabella has been Fae blessed, sent for a higher purpose, even if she is without her earthly body.” Father’s eyes caught on mine, gleaming under the wrought iron streetlamp.

“You must stay quiet on this, Trixie. Knowing is dangerous.” My heart-shaped lips pinched in annoyance. “I won’t speak a word of it. I don’t want anyone in danger. You should know me better—” “I do know you better than that,” King Traevon cut me off. “But there are times when a ruler must say what he already understands someone knows. Some things must be said aloud.” “Hmph.” I crossed my arms over my chest and turned my attention to the small street we were heading down.

I decided to change the subject. “I don’t hear any drums.” Father shrugged one shoulder. “Mother’s never wrong. We shall keep walking until we hear the bloody noise.”


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