Negotiations with Fate
Disclaimer: I do not own Hellboy, Nuada, or any other of the characters you see here except for characters you don't recognize. I may take some liberties with the magic and twist some events, but you have been warned.
Reviews are appreciated, even if you just want to say you like it or you hate it and you think the idea is highly unoriginal. Enjoy!
He wasn't supposed to be dead; neither of them were. That wasn't the plan; it wasn't what the fates had told her. But then again, the fates had never dealt her a fair hand. Walking among the ruins of the golden army, seventy times seventy monstrosities, Saraid pondered the situation.
The half-elven woman stood above the shattered marble that had once been the Prince Nuada, her eyes empty of emotion. Ever since he had stolen the first piece of the crown she had been trailing the Prince, being careful not to be seen. If he had seen her, he would know her for what she was, and have tried to kill her. Of that she had no doubt, for he hated humans, and he would very well hate a half-elf whose other half was human.
"What am I going to do with you?" Raid asked, mouth turned down in a frown. She had known from the beginning that a time might come when he had to die, but somehow she had imagined that if his death was required that she herself would be responsible for it. The hybrid was not welcome by many in either world, but she wished strongly for both of them to be at peace with one another. It had been how her elven mother had raised her; along with how to use any blade in combat, thought Raid preferred her long bow.
Kneeling, she set down the rowan bow, in reach but not in her way. Carefully she began to gather the pieces of shattered marble, preparing to reassemble the prince. She didn't fault the prince for his wishes, merely his methods. And his sister was the last true leader of the elves. They needed her. That was the only reason she was contemplating bringing them back from death. It had nothing to do with how when she listened to Nuada's voice, his velvety tones, his raw passion, and watched him dance-for when he fought, it was not fighting but much more-with his blades, that she felt something within her stir.
From a young age the woman had been taught to stifle all of her emotions, whether they be anger or joy, sorrow or pain. Her mother had raised in her exile, apart from the elves, mixing her training in the mortal realms and the Unseen realms. Satisfied she now had all the pieces, Raid began to put them together, murmuring words in an ancient tongue lost to humans long ago to join the marble pieces together.
She had no idea how long she had been kneeling there, but she was finally satisfied that she had put Nuada back together as much as possible, and whatever she hadn't put adequately enough would heal in its own time.
Rising, a small groan came from her as blood returned to her lower legs, bringing with it the pricks and needles that informed her she had been kneeling for far to long. "Damn it, this had better work," she hissed, shaking out each limb to ease the stiffness that had set in.
With her blood flowing better, the woman made her way over to the Princess Nuala, who remained whole. Reaching out Raid placed a hand on the elven woman's forehead, and spoke words that could not be heard by any mortal ears, nor spoken with just a voice. The words could not be written down or captured by any means; as soon as they were spoken they changed, becoming something else.
Sweat stung her as it rolled into her eyes. Blinking she raised her free hand, wiping away the moisture. The spell she spoke was draining her, and she was glad she had already made most of the preparations necessary. I take now the stream of time in part and twist it, to restore to life Princess Nuala and Prince Nuada, rulers of the Unseen realm. I cross into death and know the price, which must be paid in full, part of which I have already paid. Now, by the Gods of old who govern our world, and the fates that deal out our destinies, I call you back from that cold river. Come!
The marble beneath her skin was warm, and it was a moment before Raid noticed that it was no longer marble but skin. A sigh of relief escaped her as she collapsed to the floor, drained. Her gaze traveled over to the prince, suddenly apprehensive, unsure of what she would find. The hard-muscled figure of the elven prince soothed her, as she saw his chest rise and fall. Now that she had brought them back she had little time to waste; she could not be discovered here.
Pushing herself up, Raid staggered to her feet, cursing whatever fate had decreed that the royal twins die at the bottom of a nice, deep, pit, with lots and lots of stairs. Making her way over to where the Prince lay she grabbed her bow, strapping it across her back. It was somewhat ungainly there, but she couldn't carry it and one of the twins. "Are you going to help or not?" Raid asked, crouching down and moving one arm under Nuada's back and the other under his knees. With a small grunt of effort she stood up. The elven prince was heavier than he looked, she thought, staring down into his handsome face, so pale and perfect.
That thought, so unlike her, made Raid jerk her head away, instead leveling a glare at her companion. The were-cat hissed at her in his own language, moving forward from the shadows. He was slightly shorter than Raid, only standing at 6' where the half-elf had four inches more than that. All of his body-at least, that which was visible-was covered in tan fur with black spots and striped, the pattern mimicking the ocelot. Slit-pupil eyes somewhere between yellow and green gleamed above a black nose and a mouth full of ivory teeth. Hands tipped with claws moved out to pick up the other twin, oddly gentle for the appearance of the creature.
Raid was not friends with the were-cat, thought the two were occasionally business partners. This time she had needed another pair of hands, thinking she would get into a firefight, and had brought him along. Roughly translated he had just told her that he was not a packhorse, but she was paying him, so he would help her. She responded in English, for though her mother had taught her to understand and speak most languages there were some that mere human mouths were not made to utter. "Good. Then let's get going."
The cameras had all went black, causing the agents monitoring the feeds to hit the alarm. Five minutes later Abe and Liz were lingering near the elevator. They had all quit, but they needed a place to stay while looking for somewhere else to live, and the BPRD had all their belongings. Now it wasn't their job to respond to alarms, as Hellboy had pointed out, declaring that he wasn't going to go help the men in monkey suits this time, but both Abe and Liz were curious about what was happening.
The alarm went silent, and the lift whirred into sight, bearing agents carrying stretchers. On the stretchers lay two agents who merely looked unconscious, while a third held one who was groaning and clutching his throat, and the fourth… both Abe and Liz did a double take. The last stretcher held an elf, one who had an uncanny resemblance to Princess Nuala. Abe reached out a hand, intending to touch the elven woman to learn how she came to be there when Manning stepped in front of him, holding a piece of parchment.
"I need you to do your psychic things and see who wrote this. They left it with her." The piece of paper was flapped imperiously in front of Abe, who instead started to reach for it but not before Liz caught his hand, stopping him from touching the parchment.
"What does it say?" she asked, arching one eyebrow. Manning looked flustered, and tugged at the tie around his neck.
"I can't tell you. Security and all that you understand…" he trailed off under the look that Liz was giving him.
"Fine. Then Abe won't read it," she replied, voice cool, even as the edges of her irises began to flicker, as if consumed by flames of blue.
"Wait! No need to be so hasty," Manning said as the pair began to turn away. "I'll tell you what it says. But just this once." Nervously he cleared his throat, again tugging on the tie, eyes going to the piece of parchment he held. "This woman is Princess Nuala of the Unseen Realm. I have entrusted you with her care, for I know that she has love for the being that is called Abraham Sapien. Yes, both she and her twin were killed. Yes, they both live now. The Prince is under my care, for you humans would be quick to wish to see him dead, which would be a great annoyance to me, as I have spent much effort in restoring them. Your guards will be fine; they will have some bumps and bruises, but nothing critical.
Lastly, I warn you not to try and find me. I mean you no harm, nor the human race of which I am part. But neither can I condemn the Unseen people, whose blood I also share. Know merely that I am a bane to evil, but also to ignorance. The fates have shown me what must be done, and so shall it be. Hope we do not meet on opposite sides, for your sakes. Give my regards to Elizabeth, Abe, and Hellboy. And tell the Princess not to worry, for I shall not do anything to harm the Prince." Manning stopped, a breathless from the reading. "There's no signature, and the whole thing is mighty odd…"
Abe reached out one blue webbed hand, brushing it lightly against the back of the parchment, closing his eyes in concentration. He was surprised by what he found.
There was the image of a woman, neither human nor elven but some combination of the two, bearing the pointed ears and complexion of the elves, but with black hair that was cut to shoulder length Her eye were large, but more hazel then gold. "If you are seeing this than you are indeed telepathic." The woman smiled, showing off perfect white teeth in her pale face. The markings of the elves were light upon her face, barely noticeable unless one knew what to look for. "My name is Raid. I am indeed a hybrid of human and elf. I belong to neither world but wish both to be at peace. I won't let humans wipe out the Unseen World, but nor will I let Prince Nuada start another world war. I can't reveal to you my plans, merely that we will meet in person; and to ask you not to shoot me on sight." The smile she gave didn't reach her eyes, he noticed as the vision progressed. "Be careful; you may be done with something, but it may not be done with you. Until next we meet, I bid you farewell."
"That was strange," Abe commented out loud, frowning thoughtfully. "She left me a message, which means that she knows who we are and what we can do… and where we live, for that matter. Her name is Raid, and she is a hybrid-"
"Wait a minute, the person who just attacked my men is a woman?" Manning asked, sounding incredulous. Liz crossed her arms in front of her chest, glaring at Manning. "Err… right…" he said, shooting her a nervous glance. "Well, err, I had better be checking on the Princess…" Manning began to walk past the pair, avoiding looking at both of them.
"Well that was weird," Liz commented.
"That would be an understatement," Abe replied.
He felt as if someone had used him as target practice for staff training. Everything hurt, and worse, he had no idea where he was, or what was happening. The last thing he could remember was fighting Hellboy, and then a sudden pain, turning around, seeing the dagger in twin's chest… He was dead. He should be dead. Was he somehow alive? Carefully Nuada opened his eyes, frowning at the unfamiliar surroundings.
"Back from the realms of death I see," came a feminine voice from somewhere to his left. Instantly Nuada reached for a dagger that was not there. "Sorry, but no weapons for you right now. I'd rather not be stabbed in the back." The voice was smooth, soft, and lower than his sister's soft soprano. Moving he swung his legs off the bed that he was on, blinking as the room slowly spun into focus. In front of him, not four feet away, stood a woman.
The first things he noticed was her eyes, the careful emptiness of them, and then the light black armor that clung to her long frame, something that looked like silk but was harder than iron. Returning his gaze to her face he was unsure what to look for, as she dressed like an elf but her eyes were different. Of course, it was not unheard of elves to have different colored eyes, but that explanation didn't seem to fit.
A hiss escaped Nuada as he realized what she must be, and his lips curled back in disgust as hatred filled his eyes with a dark, fiery passion. "What kind of abomination are you?" he asked, voice scathing. The changed that came over the woman was remarkable. Before she had been standing easy, shoulders back, relaxed, a small smile on her face. The next moment she was standing up straight, eyes hard, face cold, staring at him coolly.
"First of all, my name is Saraid." She preferred being called Raid, but she wasn't about to let this arrogant elf call her anything short of her proper name. "And secondly, I am not an abomination." The voice was calm, but that was a deception and both of them knew it. Raid suddenly dismissed all pretexts of being calm and moved forward, to which Nuada responded by standing.
They were close, mere inches away. He was taller than her by a small margin, an unusual situation for Raid. This close his face looked so soft that Raid almost wanted to touch it. Almost. The reminder that he had called her an abomination quelled that urge. "Nuada-" she purposely left out any sort of title-"I do not expect you to be civil, because that would be too much to expect, but I would ask that you at least be creative with your insults." One finger came up as she laid it against his lips, stopping him from speaking. The motion, something she had done countless time before, was different. The feel of his warm lips against her finger sent small electrical tingles down her spine. That only served to further aggravate her. "I am tired from bringing you and your twin back from the dead, so I would appreciate it if you would let me sleep." Her voice was steady, though tinged with the first hints of anger.
"I know you hate humans, and though I can understand your reasons I disagree with you on some points. You can't leave this set of rooms." Nuada tried to speak, his shock over being silenced by her finger wearing off, but she cut across his half formed words.
"You're in front of my bed. If you would so kindly move, I intend to rest now. Before you try to do anything to kill me." Automatically Nuada moved to the side, letting the woman brush by him. Her hair brushed against his cheek as she moved, and he caught the scent of lavender, and other soft, natural fragrances. Nothing artificial there. His eyes closed briefly as he inhaled the soft perfume of her shampoo, turning to face the bed, before opening his eyes.
The warrior looked almost surprised when he saw the woman sprawled on the bed, body thrown haphazardly on top of the blankets and mattresses. It would be so easy to kill her, the Prince thought, trying to picture himself killing her, but all that came to mind was that she said something about bringing him back from the dead.
"I won't kill you yet," Nuada said, as he reached over brushed a finger over the area where Raid's heart beat. "I still need some answers from you," he whispered, eyes tracing the lines of her body, up to her face, memorizing each feature. She had the body of a warrior, hands covered with scars from training with edged weapons. Her mixed lineage left her with the beauty of the elves, but it was intertwined with the flaws of the human, lessening the perfect appearance.
"What are you really?" Nuada asked out loud, watching the sleeping woman with a curious expression. What kind of warrior slept with the enemy right there? He noticed as he looked around that there were plenty of objects that could be substituted for the actual things. Shaking his head, he could only think that this being must think that he would not kill someone in their sleep. She was wrong to assume that, but at this point in time she would not discover her folly.
Trying to get a better idea of who the woman was, Nuada wandered through the suite of rooms. It was decorated tastefully, he had to admit, though the basic architecture was not to his liking. The colors ranged from warm earthy tones to the cool blues of the ocean, to the vibrant colors of fire and finally to the light colors of wind. Each room was its own element, and its purpose was closely aligned with the element that was represented. The kitchen was the fire room, the bathroom the ocean, the living room the air room, and the single bedroom the earth room. There was another door, this one closed, and of a different wood than the others. This door was ancient, carved with heavy runes that had worn away with time.
This was the only other room left in the suite, the door that must lead to the outside being firmly locked, though he did not know how. He also noted that there were no windows of any kind, though plenty of paintings and plants, as well as small fountains and wind chimes-that stirred, even though there could not possibly be a breeze-and a fireplace with a fire that burned with no chimney. Placing a hand on the door he put his weight behind it, expecting the door to be heavy. Instead, to his surprise, it opened at the first light push, leaving Nuada to stagger forward into the room.
His first reaction was that this must be a door to some courtyard, because the things in here could not possibly be inside. Above him was a blackness that was filled with constellations of stars, but the moon was conspicuously absent. In the center of the round courtyard was a large tree of black flowers and white leaves, the trunk a rich rowan color that gleamed like molten copper. A cool breeze played with the Prince's smooth hair, and he smelled the sea in it. The circular wall was made of stone, set with recesses like archways to corridors, though the stones covered these doorways as well. The strange thing was that he knew he couldn't be outside; the meeting of the 'sky' and the walls was too smooth, and though at first the stars seemed real he could feel the enchantments that gave them their glow.
Around the tree's base ran a stream in a circle whose origin and endpoint drew a line that split the space in half. There was no place for the water to go, but it flowed as if part of a river. Nuada was… disturbed. He was not sure whom or exactly what Saraid was, but this was not the dealings of some mortal. The magic in this place was old, and did not like his probing of it.
Nuada feared nothing, not even his own death, except perhaps the extinction of his people. This room though set him off balance. He hadn't been expecting anything like it, and now it sent chills up his spine. Eyes never leaving the tree, which he was beginning to feel sure was sentient, he backed towards the still open door. Once safely past the threshold he shut the door, pulling on the handle that flowed from the door. The handle was carved from the same piece of wood as the door, he noticed, examining the fine carvings that had been worn down by generations of hands using the handle.
Silently he made his way back to the single bedroom, sitting on the armchair across from the bed, watching the restless sleep of the woman who claimed to have brought him back from the dead.
Saraid was used to dreaming of specters. Almost every time she closed her eyes spirits of the dead and images of the living haunted her sleep, and sometimes things that she could only guess were glimpses of the future. The first couple times she had woken up, cold and clammy, every hair on her body standing on end. By now she was used to it, and it no longer bothered her… except she didn't know what to think of this dream.
The specter in question was Prince Nuada Silverlance of Bethmora, gliding through her sleep like some wraith, stepping lightly but leaving a permanent mark. What was worse was that she found herself closely studying this dream version of Nuada, noting everything about him, all the numerous scars, the hard muscles that were trained for combat, and the golden eyes that had seen so much. The angles of his face drew her attention, the soft outline that marked him of the elven race looking perfectly at home in his pale face.
Just when she was getting herself used to the fact that he was in the dream to stay, the dream itself changed. Now Nuada was no longer an image that she watched. It began with herself standing in the midst of a mist-covered field, the tall grass hanging limply with moisture. Out of the low clouds stepped Nuada, artfully spinning his spear in its shortened form. She had seen him use it, kill with it, and knew how deadly it was.
Raid had little time to think beyond that thought before she found herself dancing away from the blade, bringing her own bow around the parry it, wincing as the metal chipped the varnish of the beautiful longbow. Any readily available blade, even an elven-enhanced blade, could not break the bow but it would take a beating. For some reason the varnish on the bow being chipped set her off, and throwing caution to the winds she spun the bow around, jabbing the iron tipped end at the prince, before reversing it and slashing at Nuada. The next thing she knew the edge of the elongated spear was pressed against her throat. Nuada moved forward, the spear shrinking as he moved closer to her.
Standing a few scant inches apart, Raid felt her breath quicken. This dream was far too real for her liking. She should not be able to feel his breath against her face, warm and smelling faintly of honey. She should not be able to hear his pulse in counter rhythm to her own. Golden eyes locked with hazel, and inexorably she found herself drawn closer to the ethereal being. It was not the fact that he was a purebred elf that drew her, but the intensity she could see in his eyes, the passion she knew he could muster. The hybrid could only watch in mortified horror as her hand raised to Nuada's face, pointer finger covering his smooth, warm lips, as if to stop him from speaking.
Enough was enough. On the bed Raid sat bolt upright, reaching for her longbow that wasn't there, her eyesight still blurred from sleep. Blinking she pushed her black hair behind her slightly pointed ears, vision gradually clearing. That dream had been far to confusing and intimate for her liking. Looking up she found her eyes locked once again with golden eyes. She pinched herself, hoping that this was still a dream. No such luck.
Rising Nuada towered over the sleep tousled warrior maiden, one corner of his mouth tugging up in a sneer of contempt that was hiding his amusement. Saraid's large, warm hazel eyes were clouded with sleep and her hair was a wild mess of ebony locks. She was still wearing the light armor, but it still managed to look disheveled somehow.
A glowering look met the prince and he was taken aback by the anger in her face. Raid looked like he had somehow insulted her in some way, and was taking offense at it. "Out of all the rooms did you have to sit in this one?" she snapped, the hair she had hastily moved out of her face falling once more over her eyes.
Nuada found that he had to restrain himself from retorting with some sharp comment, but if he wanted answers from this abomination he would have to keep a civil tongue. "I was not aware that there was a rule against it," he replied, voice cold.
"There isn't, but it's a little freaky, waking up to see you looming there like some bad omen," Raid responded grumpily. "Now leave so I can get changed," she said, shifting tones to commanding as she moved off the edge of the bed, stretching her arms out before standing up.
The elf gave the hybrid one hard look. Sighing, Raid wondered why she had bothered to bring Nuada back from death. He already hated her, as she knew he would, and he was aggravating and annoying to boot. "Fine. Stay. I don't care." Her tone was of an equal degree of coolness. Without any further warning she began to take off her shirt, sliding the fine mail over her head. Nuada went even paler before turning and walking with smooth, graceful yet hasty strides out of the room.
Raid allowed herself a small smile, though it was gone again in an instant. "The fates must really hate me," she murmured quietly, staring distantly at the door that Nuada had left through. "All things have a price, but I don't know if I can deliver on this one."
I don't know if I like where this chapter ended, but it was beginning to get long. There is more to follow soon.