21 - "Child Of Destiny"
Originally Written: March 29th, 2000

November 7th, 2000
From the ocean came the taste of salt, carried on the cool breeze, drifting just above the
endless waves' lapping fingers. Night had fallen once again, and where the emergence of
twilight met the daytime's fading warmth, into awakened the gargoyles. With a duty to
perform, created from their very basic instinct to protect, they became silent sentinels
coasting the currents of their adopted city. They had dispersed for their patrols, forming
rather larger groups than usual, as each clan member held in the back of their mind, the
murder of an innocent two nights past.

Another, most likely of their own kind, had made his presence known with a calling card
of morbid manslaughter, killing a simple human employee in cold blood and stealing a
deadly weapon. But no matter what this creature had carried out, they would refuse to let
him destroy the happiness they had found, especially for two new parents who resided on
the highest floors of Wyvern.

Trinity Maza yawned deeply, reopened her eyes with a flutter of rich chocolate and
looked up into her father's smiling face. His patrol party had finished their sweep of the
city, and he had rushed home to his wife and daughter. Though only a week old, Trinity
was beginning to recognize her parents, as they were rarely out of her sight. She stared
intently at the lavender giant who cradled her in his arms, a mere assertion of curiosity
conspicuous in her young, gleaming eyes.

Goliath grinned with a smile unlike his own, as he gently placed the newborn on the large
bed he shared with Elisa. She kicked her tiny clawed feet in the air and spread her small
wings of deep chestnut, giggling with the tender touch of a large talon running down her
face. Father and daughter laughed together, unaware they were being watched from the
far side of the room.

Elisa was leaning in the doorway to the main bathroom and gazed upon the sight before
her. A seven and a half foot tall, seven hundred pound gargoyle, with the strength of
forty men and a temper to rend steel as if tinfoil, playing blissfully with his tiny daughter.
She quickly threw a robe on over her lacy silk nightgown and approached, sitting on the
bed beside Trinity. She leaned over and submerged into her daughter's ambrosial
fragrance, the fresh, beautiful smell only a newborn could produce. She stroked the
baby's soft raven hair with her slender fingers. Trinity seemed to revel at her mother's
touch. "You do recognize us, don't you?" she whispered.

"It seems she knows our touch, our smell, the sounds of our voices..." Goliath agreed
with his mate. "She especially enjoys your embrace, my Elisa."

"Hey, I did carry her in my body for nine months." she joked, taking hold of Trinity's
small body and lifting the child high above her head. Elisa slouched to the bed upon her
backside, watching her daughter titter with glee and flap her wings. "You like that don't
you, kiddo? But you still have a lot of growing up to do before I let you jump off the
castle."

****************************************

The battlements of Wyvern were abandoned to the cold wind, driving the residents inside
and away from the changing seasons. And so, the emptiness would bare no witness to an
emerald glow, gaining strength as it approached the castle. An orb of energy held itself
above the stones, growing ever larger, and even brighter, eventually touching down on
the castle's granite surface. From the sphere, a female figure emerged, mindfully
stepping onto the ground and holding herself up with a long wooden staff, raising above
her stead and curving slightly near the end.

She heeded her environment with an attentive eye, admiring the ancient home of Goliath
and his clan. She slowly entered the castle's interior through the main archway, and
gradually traversed the stone passageway, her light steps making no sound within the
massive hallway, until she reached the tall doors leading into Goliath and Elisa's private
quarters. Towering to almost the apex of the roof, thick barriers meant to keep the
utmost of intimacy. Yet tonight, the doors had been left ajar, and she took the cue to peer
within.

The new parents were still on their bed and playing with their daughter, without a trace
of attention thrown to the stranger as she slipped inside their inner sanctum. It wasn't
until Cagney, who was curled on the pillow near the family, bolted to a rigid stance, her
deep gray hair standing on end, and sniffed the air, sensing what the couple could not.

"Whoa, what's the matter, cat?" Elisa sat up and watched her cat jump from the bed and
frantically tear into the other room. "What the hell is wrong with her?"

"I believe I am the cause of her distress..." A quiet female phonation answered from
behind.

Goliath whirled around and instantly came around the bed, flaring his wings, intent on
protecting his wife and child. Elisa held tight to Trinity as she peered at the figure over
Goliath's shoulder. They eyed the stranger with fear and apprehension, as still fresh on
their minds, the gruesome murder at Nightstone.

"Do not be alarmed, Goliath," her voice was calm and gentle like the wind, "I am not
here to harm you. In fact, I have arrived to offer my most profound congratulations."

"For what?" Elisa asked cautiously.

"For the birth of your daughter, of course," the female answered softly, as she slowly
came towards them, "the first human-gargoyle child ever born on this world."

Goliath's wings settled slightly as the immediate danger he sensed had passed. His guard
came down, along with his wings as he wrapped them around his shoulders. Both he and
Elisa studied closer their uninvited guest, in the soft shimmer of the fireplace.

She was a gargoyle, and might have been taller than Elisa if perhaps she could stand
erect, yet it seemed age had taken it's toll on her fragile form. Her cream skin was of a
softened resplendence, an off-white pallor which they couldn't determine as natural or
possibly a symptom of an ailment. Her long hair fell well below her waist, and whatever
color it may have been, had drained from the magnificent tress, leaving only a parched
white. Wings with outer membranes of purest ivory snow and within, a surface what
could only be described as a shattered mirror, a myriad of facets casting back cracked
reflections of the room around them. She wore a simple tunic which fell to her ankles,
split up to her thighs. Long, slender brow ridges, three on each side, with an extra bone
crest directly in the center, similar to a queen's crown, had risen up and curled behind her
soft hair. She had the deepest green eyes, centered within a kind yet wrinkled face,
which conveyed nothing but a trusting affection. "You have nothing to fear from me,
Goliath, Elisa."

"How do you know our names?" Elisa continued her interrogation, still weary of the
gargoyle.

"I have come to see the child of destiny, the child of hope..."

Elisa turned to Goliath, who was giving her the same wide-eyed look. "Shadow's
prophecy..."

"Yes, the dark warrior was correct in his recounting of the legend."

"Wait a minute...you're telling me that YOU'RE the guardian spirit?!" Elisa chuffed,
sounding quite unconvinced, as always.

The female gargoyle came to the bedside and leaned on the canopy post for support.
"Yes...I am." She was breathing heavily and dipped her head. She wavered for a
moment, and finally lost her balance, falling to the floor.

But Goliath was there to catch her, his lightning fast reflexes reacting to her sinking
form. He scooped her up with barely an effort and placed her on the bed.

"Thank you, my friend." she wheezed.

"It seems you are very weak." said Goliath, a trace of genuine concern overlaying upon
the mistrust once present.

"I have been imprisoned for over three thousand years, and transported myself a great
distance to find you." She turned to the couple, now standing over her. "My powers are
dependent on the gargoyles on this planet, and because there are so few compared to
three millennia ago, I have yet to regain my former strength," she paused and held
languished hands to her gaze, "and my once vigorous youth."

"You're weak because the gargoyle population has declined." Elisa added as she sat
beside her.

"Correct, Elisa Maza. But there is still hope, and your daughter will soon be that hope."

"Trinity? What will she do?"

"She is the savior. She is the bond between your two races. The ultimate expression of
trust. She will be the one of the chosen who help bring human and gargoyle together in
peace." The guardian placed a hand to her forehead, and tried to catch her breath.

"Well, that's...great." Elisa stated softly. "But...you never answered my first question,
how do you know our names and everything about us?"

"I am the guardian spirit. I know all. I am one with this planet, I am one with her, the
Earth keeper Gaia. Three thousand years of history she has relayed to me through our
eternal link, including your clan and the events that have transpired in your...let's say,
colorful lives. Your betrayal, your cursed sleep, your awakening in the twentieth century,
your recent adventures in the past six years and," she stopped and bashfully grinned at the
couple, "the coming together of you and your husband." She regained her breath and sat
up, using her elbows to lean on. "I see by the expressions on your faces that you still
don't believe me." she quipped, noticing Goliath and Elisa looking at each other again,
small indications of skepticism unintentionally but evidently crossed about their features.

"It's just...hard to believe. And with our troubles in the past, it's difficult to openly trust
anyone, especially when she claims to be the guardian spirit of my race." Goliath chuffed
as he kneeled before her.

"Yes. You two are funny like that." She slowly rose from the bed and headed towards
the fireplace. "I shall give you the proof you need." She stood upon the very edge of the
burning flames, and outstretched her arms, her hands erupting with a verdant aura that
radiated with sheer power. The flames flickered and began to move in a wild, delirious
dance. Higher and higher they rose, until the entire fireplace was filled with roaring
amber.

All of a sudden, the flames parted and distorted images were formed through the heated
haze. Goliath and Elisa stared dumbfounded as they gazed at the reflections swirling
within the fire before them, eventually coming into a sharper focus, and the couple could
make out certain individual scenes from years past. Elisa falling from the castle, the
numerous fights with Demona, the Avalon trip, the battle with the hunters, Goliath and
Elisa kissing on the turret, the battle with Madoc, their wedding night and honeymoon.

"OKAY!!! Okay!! We believe you, we believe you!" Elisa shouted out as certain private
parts of their honeymoon flashed by. The guardian dropped her hands abruptly and the
flames returned to normal. She again lost her balance and fell into Goliath.

"Thank you. As I said before, I know everything. I have shared all your experiences, felt
your happiness and lived your pain." She used Goliath's massive arm to steady herself
but still felt weak. She slumped back into the couch and placed a hand to her chest,
trying to calm her rapidly beating heart.

Elisa moved abreast of her seated form, baby Trinity still in her arms. "Wow. So I guess
it's true." She could scarcely believe her words as they escaped her mouth. "Who
imprisoned you?"

"A sorcerer. An evil man who blamed our race for a crime we did not commit, and thus
dedicated his life to the eradication of our kind. He trapped me with those damned
stones and forced me to watch as he single-handedly butchered an entire clan in the
village he called home." The guardian clamped her eyes tight, reliving in her mind the
last days of freedom she had so feared from returning to her conscious thoughts. The
screams of hatchlings, the smell of blood, the taste of death. "After the last of the clan
had been destroyed, he used his near limitless power to cast a spell on all the gargoyles of
the world. Whenever the sun rose, they would turn to stone and never be able to feel it's
warmth upon their skin. They would be vulnerable to human attacks for as long as the
sun remained in the sky."

"WHAT?!!!" This revelation shocked the couple, especially Goliath. "Our stone
sleep...is the result of some madman's spell?!!"

"Oh my god." Elisa gripped tighter to Trinity as she watched her husband clench his fists
and stagger away from her, utter rage and arrant narcosis blurring his vision.

"He then used the stones to trap me on a small island of his own creation, and cursed me
with an ancient incantation. Believing that humans could never trust our kind, let alone
falling in love with one of them, he cast his spell, stating that I would only be released
when humans and gargoyles became one." Upon the cessation of her story, her audience
remained deathly silent. Goliath was still pacing the length of his room as Elisa and the
guardian looked on. "I know this is a shock to you, but it's very true, my friend."

"I...cannot believe this...I always thought it was natural..." Goliath stopped and looked at
the guardian with pleading eyes, perhaps expecting, perhaps hoping, her story was
somehow inaccurate. "There were no ancient legends of any gargoyles who defied the
sun. There was nothing...h-how could this be? How could this be?"

"The passage of time is a powerful weapon of erosion, Goliath, conceivably, stories or
parchments were lost over the subsequent centuries. It seemed very natural to you and
your race, for you heal when in your stone hibernation. Over the three thousand years
since the spell, it became ingrained into your very DNA, with every generation since
possessing the ability to turn to stone. I surmise he had no idea his spell would work that
way. I don't even know if the spell can be reversed now without the original maker of
the curse, but we know it can be blocked, the best example being your Guatemalan
friends." She rose from the couch to place her hand on Goliath's shoulder. "But that was
in the past, Goliath, and we both have learned severely we cannot change what has
happened, no matter how painful it may be. We must look to the future. You have your
clan to safeguard, a brand new daughter to care for, and a new enemy to be weary of."

Goliath raised up at the guardian's mention of the killer from two nights ago. "You
know this gargoyle?" he rasped angrily.

"Barely. He is a mystery. I don't know where he came from, or what his intentions are."

"Can you help us locate him?"

The she-goyle let loose a trembled sigh, and looked away. "I cannot. I can't directly
involve myself in your affairs. A decree has been placed upon my powers and my very
life, by forces...beyond your comprehension. But it is a waste of effort anyway, for I
cannot find him, he perhaps may be using powerful magic to block his presence from my
senses. Or I am still too weak."

"Wait a minute," Elisa started, "aren't you helping us now?"

"I am not allowed to break the rules, friend Elisa, but," the guardian flashed a smile the
human's way, "I am indeed allowed to bend them to a certain point."

"Well, we think he may be Egyptian." she replied from the couch. "We found a trinket
he left behind whe..."

"...when he stole from Demona's company." the gargess finished for her.

"I thought you said you didn't kno..." Elisa asked the guardian before being interrupted
again.

"I know what you know, Elisa." The guardian smirked, similar to Elisa's famous cocky
grin.

"Oh peachy..." Elisa blushed a little as she wondered just how much this guardian
actually knew. "Uhm, what exactly do we call you?"

The guardian seemed surprised at the question. "I do not have a name. But I suppose
you may address me as Infiniti. It was a name I was given a very long time ago, by a
small child who never looked upon me as any different from her self."

"And what will you do now?" Goliath asked.

"I must find the other gargoyles in this world, and ensure their safety. Your race must be
united. It will soon be time for the gathering of the clans."

"Yes, it was my intention to do just that, but I have become...sidetracked a little..."
Goliath looked away to Elisa, gingerly rocking Trinity to lull her to sleep.

"You have many responsibilities here. It is time for me to take over the role of bringing
our clans together."

"But, are you well enough? The task are undertaking will not be easy, and your current
health may not be up to it."

"I will be fine. I can already feel my strength returning. As soon as I am with the other
clans, I will grow even stronger." Infiniti followed the path to her staff, placed still by
the bedside, and held it within her hands. She seemed to gain strength from the simple
wooden spar, relieving some of the discomfort suffered by her fragile form. "Take care
of your family, your clan, your friends. They need you Goliath, more than you will ever
know. Your clan will be the ultimate line of defense against the coming storm. Prepare
yourselves..."

"For what?!" Goliath replied.

"You soon shall see. I must take my leave of you now. You will hear from me soon." A
gesture of raised hands, and the sphere of emerald brilliance returned to engulf it's
master who called it forth. The room was coated in the gentle radiance, and the sudden
rush of wind ripped past the Mazas' forms to fill the void left as Infiniti was taken from
this castle, to whereabouts only dreamed about by the minds of mortals.

Goliath had folded his wings about his family and shielded his eyes until the walls
released of their light, and returned to the dim adumbration created by the fire. When the
lavender giant finally uncovered himself and Elisa, the guardian was but a memory.

Elisa released a pent up breath and dropped her gaze to Trinity. "Well, I don't know
about you, Goliath, but I think I've had enough for tonight." Elisa carried the small child
to her room to put her down to rest. "Goodnight, oh great one. Try not to wake your
ordinary mother when she goes to sleep." Turning the light off behind her, she re-entered
the bedroom, coming face to face with her mate, still perched within the middle of the
room and ominously silent. Elisa came up to his side and clasped upon his forearm,
running delicate bronze fingers across his gargoyle hide. "You okay, Big Guy?" she
asked, watching as he slowly turned his bewildered gape to her calming eyes.

"I do not know, Elisa." He placed a massive hand to his head. "It...it's a lot to take in..."

Elisa said nothing back, knowing the were no words now that could help. But she knew
of at least one simple gesture that spoke volumes in the absolute cessation of speech.
She pulled him to the bed, forced the lavender leader to sit down and climbed behind
him. She guided her hands about his massive shoulders, running nails over his leather,
textured covering, a unique weave of skin that beckoned to her to be touched, and
massaging the knotted muscles straining for release.

Any intentions of her continuing further were ground to a halt when the doors to their
room blew open and Annika, Angela, and Broadway came running in, stopping in a mad
rush at Goliath's feet.

"We saw a strange light from your windows, father." Angela remarked as she came
quickly to her father's side and sat beside him. "Is everything all right?"

"Yes, my daughter, we are fine. We had a visitor. Her name was Infiniti." he droned, a
simple statement confusing the gargoyles before him.

"Who's Infiniti?" Annika asked, her blue eyes widening.

"Oh, just the eternal spirit who's been released after three thousand years and protects all
the gargoyles around the world. You know, same old stuff." Elisa chaffed.

"Uhm...okay."

"We'll tell you all later."

The three young gargoyles looked at each other and were left with only one recourse, to
slowly leave the room, and stop just beyond the closed doors.

"What do you think they were talking about?" Broadway asked his mate and clan sister,
watching for a reply of shaking heads and shrugged shoulders.

"Maybe there's a gas leak in their room." Annika joked as they walked away from the
large doors.

****************************************

Hearing the door close, and satisfied she was left alone with her husband, Elisa wrapped
herself around Goliath's neck. "I guess the kid has a lot to live up to," she whispered into
his ear, "she's barely a week old and now has to save the world."

"I really don't think this is the time for levity."

"And I think it is. We have gone through a lot...especially tonight, and I'm gonna do
everything I can to put a smile on our lips." She forcefully turned his head with her
finger and gazed into his black eyes, reflecting her wondrous magnificence framed by the
raven streams of her hair. "I don't know if Trini will grow up to be this 'savior'. All I
know is that we're going to do the absolute best we can to raise her right. And we'll love
her no matter what she becomes or does with her life."

She had indeed succeeded in bringing a smile to her husband's face. He pressed his
forehead against hers and felt her warm skin on his own. "Always..."

****************************************

Within the walls of the twenty third precinct, it was business as usual in the late hours of
the night. A blur of uniform, badges, and handcuffs, in the midst of a swirl of relentless
paperwork. Desk upon desk in the detectives' squadroom, covered with case files and
active computers, processing a full night's worth of crime stats, reports and whatever
other incidents have occurred in their district this cold evening.

And behind one of these piles, sat a scowling female officer, with red locks of
purgatory's relentless flame, angrily ripping through her pile of documents as fast as her
hands could move. Her black leather jacket was draped over her chair, and despite the
small rips, scuffs and abrasions, it still held together with a lustered sheen. A tight, short
sleeved shirt encased her slender torso, and beneath her left arm, her holster, containing a
weapon that belied her diminutive stature, a Magnum .45 with a laser scope, definitely
not police issue. But detective Iliana Starr was definitely not just an ordinary cop.

"Frigging, bloody, stupid..." she cursed, and cursed, and cursed, gritting her teeth and
swearing under her breath. "Why do I get stuck with this crap?"

"Because Maza's on maternity leave," officer Morgan passed by her side, with a pile of
paperwork of his own in his arms, "and we're all stuck doing the extra work she left
behind."

Iliana threw her pen down and slumped onto her elbows, blowing the crimson strands of
chin-length hair from her face. "God, she's going to be gone for at least six months,
while the rest of us have to deal with the creeps and scum and trash of the city."

"Yeah," Morgan replied, "isn't it great?"

"You're weird, Morgan. Hey, have you seen Elisa's baby yet?" she asked innocently.

The uniformed officer immediately tensed and stuttered out a garbled response,
"Uh...uh...no, not yet...no..." He looked away, not wanting to meet detective Starr's
accusing eyes, for he had already been to the castle to see Elisa and her new daughter.

"Oh." Iliana huffed, cocking an eyebrow and noticing her companion's nervous body
language. "Have you even ever seen her husband for that matter?"

"I...met him once. Great guy. Very big."

"What does he look like?"

"Very tall and very handsome," Maria Chavez delved into the conversation, as she
strolled past the pair, "broad shoulders, bulging muscles on every part of his body, long
dark hair, big dark eyes you can get lost in..."

"You've met him too?!" Iliana rolled her eyes. "Leave it to Maza to hook the mighty
Hercules. Is it true he does a lot of traveling, so that's why we never see him?"

"Uh...yes. That's right. A lot of traveling." Morgan swallowed hard and looked to his
watch. "Well, look at the time. Gotta go."

"Me too." called Chavez.

"Hey!" Iliana called after the retreating officers, but they escaped her wrath before her
questions became a little too close to their friend's very private life. "They were lying,"
she whispered, "what the hell is Maza trying to hide?" Iliana rose from her seat, to better
see Elisa's empty desk across the room, butted up against her partner Bluestone's, vacant
as well. "She never speaks about her husband, we never see her husband, she disappears
right after having the baby, doesn't invite me to see her or even send me pictures. Jeez,
and here I thought we were friends."

She pushed her way through the rabble of police officers and approached the window
facing towards the Eyrie building, filling her sneering stare with the sight of the tower of
tempered steel and the thousands of panes of gleaming glass. "She now lives in a
supposed 'rented apartment' in David Xanatos' building, and never ever lets any one of
us come and see her..." She narrowed her ice blue eyes and centered on the
indistinguishable mass just beyond the clouds, where the castle perched on the riveted
beams of stalwart iron. "Just what are you hiding, Elisa Maza?" she huffed. "Well,
whatever it is, I'm going to find out..."