tell to me Tam Lin" she said
"Why came you here to dwell?"
"The Queen of Fairies caught me
when from my horse I fell
at the end of seven years
she pays a tithe to hell
I so fair and full of flesh
and fear'ed be myself
tonight is Halloween
and the fairy folk ride,
Those that would their true love win
at mile's cross they must hide.
let pass the horses black
and then let pass the brown
Quickly run to the white steed
and pull the rider down..."
Sam Winchester recognized four constants in life – and he'd never been wrong about them. One, Libraries, whether they were in a small town run by volunteers, or a huge, academic one like the one at Stanford, all smelled the same. It was a soothing combination of paper, dust and mold, blended together by the cool, recycled, air from the vents. The library in Carterton was no different. Sam sat at a long, highly varnished table, books of carefully preserved news articles from the local paper open before him. Each turned page stirred that comforting scent, drawing Sam more deeply into the work. The second constant was that Dean never purposefully chose to do this part of the hunt – the book work. Sometimes, Sam resented his brother's more active approach to hunting, although, in fairness, Dean managed to come out on the other side with a few bruises to show for it, whether he'd walked into a hunt armed with properly done research or not. The third constant was that every town, every single one, had some myth, secret or legend attached to it that could be counted on to awaken, stir or otherwise be activated to cause trouble among the townspeople. It didn't matter where Sam and Dean found themselves, or if the problem was ultimately caused by the growing power of the demons that had been released from Hell last summer. The fourth constant, Sam thought with a sigh as Dean and a slender blonde entered the library, was that his older brother would invariably find some attractive female to attempt to seduce. It was as if the challenge of destroying whatever troublemaking entity they were up against wasn't enough, Dean needed the additional thrill of sexual conquest. Dean's companion this time was indeed pretty, definitely not as flashy as the girls Dean preferred usually. In fact, she reminded Sam of the girls he'd known at Stanford, and based on the expression on her face, being latest in the line of Dean's one night stands was the last thing on her mind. Her hands were pushed into the pockets of her sweater, keeping up with Dean's swaggering stride confidently. Sam liked her immediately.
"Hey." Dean waved, looking around the library as he leaned over the table between himself and his brother. "Anything?"
Sam rubbed his eyes. "Maybe. There've been disappearances. Young men, all in their mid-twenties. Every seven years, on Halloween." He looked up at Dean's companion and extended a hand. "I'm Sam."
"Jenna." She replied, shaking Sam's hand firmly, making comfortably making eye contact. "What does all this have to do with my house?"
Dean nodded, cutting Jenna off with a wave of his hand. "Tomorrow is Halloween, Sammy. Where do they disappear to? One guy every seven years takes off, goes to the big city, follows some chick to college and doesn't look back. Doesn't really sound like our thing…"
"I really can't say." Sam sighed. "I'm still looking, but right now, I can tell you that they don't go off to the big city." He tapped a stack of newspapers. "Vanish without a trace as near as I can tell. Jenna, you've lived here your whole life, surely one of these names has to be familiar." Sam handed her the list of names he'd compiled. "I know some of these go back to before any of us were born but…"
Jenna frowned down at the paper. "Tim Langston. I knew him…all the girls in town did." She slid into the seat across from Sam. "He was kind of a local sports hero. Last time anyone have seen him was the homecoming game seven years ago." Jenna looked up at Sam again. "People come and go all the time, though. That Tim hasn't been back here isn't all that mysterious, is it?"
"I've run his name through every database I can think of." Sam replied, shaking his head. "Unless he's in witness protection, I can't find him anywhere. You said he was back for the homecoming game. Was the game on Halloween that year?"
"Yes, it was, as a matter of fact. The season went late because of bad weather that fall. Too much rain…" Jenna said, her voice drifting as she remembered. "You don't seriously think he's connected to all of this. These other names, all from leading families in town, all except…." The list crumpled slightly in her hands. "My brother isn't on this list. None of the Carters are."
"That's a lucky thing, right?" Dean asked, sinking into the seat at the end of the long table. "Your family doesn't have to look at the empty place at the table and wonder." He looked from Sam to Jenna, waiting for a response. "Anyone? Don't mind me or anything, I'm just…"
"Think it's connected? The last place any of the men that disappeared were seen was in front of that big old house, Carter Hall. " Sam took the list back from Jenna, completely ignoring Dean. "There has to be a reason and we should go back over to the house and check things out. Maybe your brother wasn't old enough, or…." Sam's attention was diverted across the room. Jenna and Dean turned to watch the progress of a tall, striking, dark haired woman as she glided majestically through the library. Dean's eyes grew wide and he stood as she passed them, inhaling deeply as the soft fragrance that followed her drifted over their table, a scent that reminded Jenna of the autumn roses at Carter Hall. The woman's glance fell on Dean thoughtfully, and then floated away like a leaf caught on an afternoon breeze. Sam cleared his throat and blinked, as if waking up from a long nap. "Who is that?"
"That?" Jenna asked, an eyebrow raised incredulously over one eye. "That was Rhea Fayden." She turned to look at Dean, who was still staring in the direction the tall woman had disappeared in, as if she'd reappear at any moment, his mouth open. Jenna shook her head and reached over to push Dean's jaw shut. "Please…like you've never seen a woman before." Dean allowed his mouth to close, his eyes not leaving the door. Jenna pulled her hand away from Dean's chin, wiping her fingers on the sleeve of her sweater idly. "Ugh…men."
Sam recovered first, looking down at the clippings on the table in front of him for a moment before searching through it as the mysterious woman's name sunk in. "Rhea Fayden…she's an artist?" He pulled a photocopied article from the stack and read it quickly before passing it to Jenna. "That her?"
"Yes." Jenna took the page and nodded. "Her family has been here in town for as long as there's been a Carterton." She looked at Sam and then at Dean again. "I don't know why you guys reacted that way. She's imposing, but wow…is he always like that?"
"Dean?" Sam reached out and tapped his brother roughly. "You here?"
"Yeah, yeah…" Dean nodded, shuddering a little as he came back to himself. "I'm with you. Sammy…" Dean leaned forward. "That's the chick I saw in my dream…"
"You're sure?" Sam asked, and Dean nodded solemnly as Jenna frowned at them.
"Dude." Dean raised his eyebrows. "How could I forget her?" Sam nodded, turning his attention back to a large, leather bound book he was leafing through. Turning to Jenna, Dean sat back, folding his arms over his chest. "She make everyone do that?"
"Drool and act like fish?" Jenna smiled waspishly and Dean smirked. "Most men, but some less than others. It's almost like she can turn it on or off. "
"Or there's something about them that keeps whatever mojo she has from working on them." Dean replied, wiggling his fingers in the air. "Because she's got some kind of Voodoo that she do…"
"Possible, I guess, but why would you dream about her when you've never seen Rhea before today?" Jenna's response was quick and crisp. "or Carterton, for that matter."
"I don't know." Dean's smile was cocky. "I'm thinking it's the whole voodoo thing.." He leaned back in the chair, balancing it on the back two legs. "Plus, women can't resist me…"
"If that's not the height of arrogance, I just don't know what it is.." Jenna began, fixing Dean with a harsh glare. "What you need to…"
"What we need to find out is why Rhea can do that," Sam interrupted smoothly, not looking up from the book he was reading. "And, if that why matches up with the why and what about the guy from this town that goes missing every seven years." He shook his head and looked at his brother. "Try and restrain yourself, Dean."
"I'll do what I can to help." Jenna nodded, taking the list of names from Sam. "I can probably get you in to talk to most of the families that has a missing person. Being the mayor's daughter is helpful sometimes."
Sam smiled. "That would be great. Having your help on this will make things easier."
Rhea Fayden walked down the nearly empty sidewalk, feeling the heavy fatigue of the autumn afternoon. People moved out of her path, some greeting her, and others politely ignoring her. Making herself almost invisible had it's advantages, and Rhea availed herself of any advantage she could, when the need arose, appearing as no more than an attractive female of indeterminate age, theatrically dressed in rusty layers that mimicked the leaves that still clung to the trees, a wild tumble of dark hair falling around her slender shoulders. Her natural state would strike most of the town dumb with awe, though, and Rhea had learned over the years that humans did not welcome faerie kind as warmly as they could. Considering her choice, a newcomer to town this time, a beautiful male with a trace of wildness about him, Rhea let herself feel a bit easier about the ceremony to come. There could be no complaints from the gatekeepers about this year's tithe. A rare specimen that would be a worthy offering in exchange for seven more years of walking among the mortals, breathing the air, instead of the dank air of the Underworld. Rhiannon, Queen of the Fae deserved no eternal entombment, and she could not consign what was left of her court to damnation either.
Everywhere, it was clear that Nature herself was preparing for the invisibility of winter, and Rhea stifled a broad yawn. There would be time for sleeping once the tithe was paid, a brief but well deserved rest. It was a tiring time, even when not a payment year. September through November was always fatiguing, but the seventh cycle before the tithe was due was even more so. The last surge of Earth's fertility, that push after harvest time, took a great deal out of Rhea. More frustratingly still, this years offering was just out of reach. The necessary charm to draw him to her would not work as well with his brother and the Carter girl near by. The agreement between Rhea and the head of the Carter family was as binding as the tithe payment itself. To violate
either agreement would cause a ripple of power that would backlash on the small Faerie community that had managed to exist far from the mist shrouded mountains of Scotland. Carterton had become home, and the colony of fae folk had thrived on the fringe of the town, existing as artisans, writers and musicians, which allowed the townspeople to overlook their unusual ways.
Up the street, a little cluster of courtiers waited, their faces as pale and fatigued as her own. Rhea could feel their worry pouring from them, concern about leaving a place they had all come to think of as home. The briefest of bows and barest genuflections were given when she reached them, and the Faerie Queen wondered when it was her kind had adopted the casual ways of their mortal neighbors, along with their dull appearance.
"Majesty, where is the offering?" asked the bravest of them, unable to restrain themselves. The speaker was a young one, a female that Rhea remembered being born. A young woman now, ebony hair pulled back from her face in a smooth sweep, the child's grey eyes were wide and innocent. Rhea brushed gentle fingertips across the soft white cheek of the young one. Aila. That was her name, and Rhea smiled at her softly.
"He will be along shortly. His companions were ever near. The Carter girl knows me, and the ward over her kept me from leading him here. You must help me, child. Come." Rhea took Aila's hand and led her into the house, the house built from their sacred stones, stones taken from the borders of their land by the thoughtless Carter. The entrance hall was wide and vaulted and in the center of it sat a gleaming oak table, made from a fallen tree in a grove Rhea had only walked in as a child. Resting on the table's mirror smooth surface was a rough hewn crystal bowl, large enough to bathe a small child in, filled with water. The sickle shaped knife of the Goddess, more ancient than any of them could fathom, sat next to the bowl, it's silver blade shining. Aila stared at the bowl and knife, and then up at Rhea with an expression of complete loyalty and trust. The maiden's purity would only strengthen the summoning spell, Rhea thought to herself, trying to remember a time that she herself had ever been so young.
"What is your wish, Majesty?" The young one asked, and the Faerie Queen shook away the glamour that kept her true appearance hidden. Around her, the others of her court did the same, and finally, Aila herself. The air shimmered with power, rising from the foundation of the house itself.
"Draw him here." Rhea said, her voice echoing through the vaulted room, consonants heavy with the weight of time. "Bring the offering to us to be prepared."
"Yes, my Queen." Aila picked up the elaborate ceremonial knife, pressing the edge of the curved blade into the palm of her hand. Blood, vividly red, slightly luminous fell into the clear water, swirling of it's own volition until the water glowed. "Show me the offering." The surface of the water shifted, until the image of Dean Winchester was visible, walking alone toward his car. The faerie court sighed, and Rhea leaned forward, dropping one long, white finger into the shimmering red tinged water.
"Come to me…" She stirred the water gently, watching as Dean stumbled on the sidewalk, catching himself against the side of the Impala. "Do not resist…." Another drop of Aila's blood fell into the bowl, swirling again through the water. Rhiannon smiled, watching as her choice looked up, hearing her voice. "Yes, pretty…you are mine…." The image of Dean nodded, leaving his keys on the black hood of the car and walked down the street toward Carter Hall.
"Shit." Sam spat, snatching the Impala's keys from the hood of the car. "Dean!" He turned, scanning the street as Jenna Carter appeared from the library, talking on her cell phone. Seeing Sam standing there, Jenna ended her call and went to him.
"What's wrong?" She asked, looking up at Sam quizzically. "Mrs. Langston said she'd be glad to talk to us about Tim, but we have to…"
"Jenna, Dean's gone." Sam told her quickly. "Left the car keys here and vanished."
"Where would he go?" Jenna asked, shaking her head. "I'm the only person you both know here in town."
"Maybe not the only one." Sam nodded, and then looked down the street. "How far is Carter Hall from here?"
"Not far at all. Just down at the end of Main Street." Jenna replied. "Think that's where he was headed?" The air around them grew colder, the wind whipping leaves and sand in the cruel way October could sometimes, making Jenna shudder a little. "I'll go with you."
"It's worth a shot." Sam closed his hands around the car keys. "Come on.."
End Part 2