A/N: To celebrate The Big Season 4 Premiere in exactly one week... I present to thee, the grand finale of this semi-epic tale! Thank you SO MUCH to all my reviewers; you don't know how much I've appreciated your remarks and insights throughout this journey :) You've all inspired me to start more than a dozen new projects! But for now... *Drum Roll* The Faerie Finale!
Helen woke up alone.
She lay still, eyes closed, listening, smelling, breathing, remembering. She felt sad, empty, knowing her time with the faerie people was over, at least for now, but refused to dwell. She was thankful, beyond thankful, that they had given her the gifts they had. She opened her eyes and was struck with a strong sense of déjà vu. She turned her head to the side and realized she was back in the clearing, laying on the mossy rock. When had she returned? Had they, in the midst of sexual highs, moved back here? Or had they brought her to this place afterwards? It didn't matter. She wished she could have said goodbye to them.
Steeling herself against such thoughts, she began to think, analyze, and discover what had been done to her. She took a deep breath to prepare herself and was assaulted by the first change. Smell. She could smell the dirt in the ground below, the grass, the flowers at the edge of the clearing, even distant water. She focused her eyes and found she could see every single pedicel on the gongora orchids that grew in the distance. She could distinguish every shade of green. She closed her eyes, focusing on her ears, and the jungle came alive. An orchestra of nature resounded around her.
She opened her eyes, letting the sounds fade away, shaking her head in wonder. Would these changes last? Was it like her source blood, altering her forever? Or would she need to come back to this place, meet with the Fey again, to sustain it? Her eyes suddenly closed against her will, and her thoughts went silent. A few moments later, her eyes reopened, and she knew the answer.
The effects would fade. The Fey couldn't change her any more without transforming her completely. However, as long as she was in the Amazon, they would remain. The closer she was to this place, the faerie lands, the stronger her senses would be. While she was disappointed she couldn't bring these skills back to her work at the Sanctuary, she knew they would never fade completely. She would still be able to help in more ways than she ever had. This was her second chance, and she would reenter the world a better, newer version of herself.
But before she could reenter that world there were loose ends to clear up. Santos and his men could not continue to roam unchecked. They'd let her go, but she could see the spark of obsession in Santos' eyes. He would continue to look for the faerie people, and now that she knew they were real, had been accepted as one of them, she couldn't risk him finding them. The faeries aside, they were savage, cruel, men and she couldn't let them leave this jungle and go back to civilization to spread their chaos. She wouldn't mind seeing Santos again, face to face, on even terms. She wondered if she still glowed. Wouldn't that excite him? She couldn't wait to wipe the triumph from his face. A visit with his sallow second-in-command wouldn't be so bad either. Helen should have felt remorse at her vengeful thoughts, but she'd learned in the last few days to accept her feelings for what they were, unchangeable. She could only choose how to deal with such desires, how to act, or not act. In this case, she welcomed her strong emotions. She didn't like passing judgment, but these people were evil, pure and undistilled.
She thought of Manau, the poor boy who had been caught up in the sick cat and mouse games of Santos' hoard. She had to try and rescue him. Could the faeries save him? Heal him? Could she dare believe they could restart the process they'd been trying in the first place? Her eyes were once again forced shut. Yes, they could. Helen breathed a sigh of relief. She wondered what the boy had looked like before this mess, what he would look like after. A strong, young man, she was sure. Brown hair, brown eyes. She smiled. If she and John had had a son, he would have surely had blue eyes.
She started at the thought. Where had that come from?
Her heart started to thud against her chest. A son. A child. It was something she hadn't ever let herself consider, after her time with John. Her life was not something she could ever dare bring a child into. With the way she had been living the last few years, how could she ever see herself as fit to bear and raise a child?
Helen felt the blood coursing through her veins, the lightness in her heart. Could she? She'd always been afraid that the changes the source blood had made to her would lead to too many complications. She was afraid of the disappointment of not being able to get pregnant, or becoming so only to have a host of problems arise. Now, though, with her heightened senses, could she maybe risk it? She would be able to sense if something was wrong, she was sure of it. Her heart was racing at this sudden, new possibility. These past few years she'd lost sight of her mission, her reasons for fighting. She'd fallen into herself, selfish, depressed, and angry. It was time she breathed new life into this world and herself.
As Helen gazed at the wild green beneath her, she knew what she had to do. She refused to wallow in self-pity any longer, to fight alone, having no one to share her triumphs and failures with. Her thoughts drifted to a small, frozen tube, hidden away in the most secret, most safe area of her home.
She would bear this loneliness no longer.
But first, she had a job to finish.
Helen closed her eyes, focusing her attention, and the sounds of the jungle filled her ears. She tuned out the noises of animals, trees, water, anything natural. She frowned, not hearing what she was looking for. She reached out further, stretching her ears and finally picked up on the faint sounds of marching. She couldn't believe how far Santos and his men had travelled. How long, how many days had she spent with the faerie clan? She remembered that sometime during the seemingly ceaseless sex, they'd told her that time fluctuated in their realm. If Santos had gotten so far in real time… her mind reeled at the thought of how long she had stayed with them.
She ignored the thrill that shot through her body at the memories.
Concentrating on Santos' clan, she realized it sounded smaller, quieter than it should. Even with the five men she had dispatched, there were at least 20 men left. She guessed there were now no more than 15. She wondered what had happened to them.
Suddenly Helen heard the sound of another group, about 35 men, quickly moving towards the smaller one. She was further surprised they'd been able to avoid Escobar's men this long. For a few minutes she contemplated the logic of letting Escobar inevitably catch up and deal with them but decided against it. She had to try and rescue Manau at the very least. She also wanted to finally give Santos the demonstration of her power that he so dearly desired.
With a determined breath, she moved to the edge of the rock and hopped down, surprised at the ease of the fall and the flexibility in her limbs as she bent her knees to absorb the ground's impact. She felt the billowing of soft material over her skin. She looked down and saw she was clothed in a cream-coloured dress. She had been so preoccupied with her internal changes that she'd forgotten to look at the outside. Her skin did still glow. The dress fit her without being tight and molded against her skin when she moved as though it was a part of her. It was softer than velvet but when she gathered it in her hand, it felt strong. She had the feeling she could run a knife into it and it wouldn't break. A sudden, bright light hit her eyes, and she squinted, looking down. A smooth, curved machete lay resting in the grass. She bent down and picked it up. She didn't test the blade; she could see that its edges were razor sharp.
Helen walked towards the edge of the clearing and hesitated. She knew that when she passed back into the jungle she would forever leave the faerie's land. She took a deep breath, sending out her goodbyes, her thanks, hoping they would hear her. Their sweet voices filtered back to her, and she smiled, knowing they were still with her, watching and protecting. She looked at the jungle, noting the slightest hint of sheen, a shimmering, as if a wall stood between this clearing and the world beyond. She stepped forward and passed through. Her skin dulled and she clenched her jaw, but pressed forward, the machete in her hand cutting through thick vine like tissue paper. As she moved towards the noise of Santos, she started to see things. A broken stick, a crushed leaf. She realized she'd found their trail and wondered if her tracking skills were that good, or if it was because of her new gifts? Whichever it was she was thankful. She also realized that she wasn't laboring her way through the jungle, hampered by vegetation. She wasn't even walking. She was running. Her eyes saw everything as if she were standing still, and her arm flew about her at incredible speeds, clearing her path without her even thinking about it. She suddenly recognized the appeal of comic books, the idea of "super heroes" with special powers, and laughed at herself. A super hero's powers weren't limited to a single, geographical area as hers were. Ah well.
As she moved further and further away from the dwelling of the Fey, she started to feel hungry. She grabbed fresh fruit that hung from trees as she ran by, leaping over fallen logs and ducking under branches. She stopped only once, at a small stream, to drink. The water was dull and lifeless compared to that of her waterfall, but it was still wet, generally clean, and it quenched her thirst. As she was drinking, preoccupied with thoughts of the waterfall, a jararaca slithered up beside her. She didn't know it was there until it struck out, blurry with speed, its fangs dripping with venom. Her ankle was bare and within easy reach. The snake closed in on its target, but at the last second a rush of energy surged from her suddenly brightly glowing skin. It flowed into the snake like a lightning bolt, and it was thrown several feet back, lying in a heap of coils, dead. Magnus heard the shock and looked down, seeing only the last spark as the snake flew away. She felt the faeries in her mind again, and a feeling of absolute security washed over, covering her like a veil. This was their land, and she was one of them. She grinned.
Within a day she had caught up to Santos' clan. She waited until nightfall before entering the camp.
When Magnus finally broke through the border of jungle and clearing, the camp was in chaos. The men were fighting each other, tents were half torn and supplies were scattered. No one would have even noticed her entrance but for the fact that she was a woman wearing only a small dress, and she was glowing, an ethereal, white phantom. The men were shocked into silence, stopping mid-fight to stare, open mouthed. After a moment a young soldier cried out, dropping the man he had in a headlock and grabbing at the pendant around his neck. Another man immediately followed suit. Suddenly the men were all clutching their charms, prayers falling from their mouths as they started to back away from her. She grinned, wryly. If only the UN delegates could cower like this when she entered a room.
"Santos!" she called. Her voice echoed through the clearing. She could smell him, pick out his distinct scent amidst the general haze that lay over the camp.
She heard shuffling in one of the tents on the far side of the clearing, and the large man stepped out. He saw her, and his steps faltered until he stood, stock still. She heard a sound from another tent, on the opposite side of the clearing, and a small, sallow man emerged. His eyebrows rose, and she was surprised he had even that strong a reaction. She could see respect, awe, and acceptance on his face. When she looked back to Santos, she saw shock, fury, excitement and ambition. His hand suddenly flicked out, she heard a click, a trigger being pulled, and the boom of a shot rang through the air. She gasped.
After a moment, she looked down. Her skin was unbroken, her dress unmarked. He pulled the trigger again and this time she saw the bullet flying towards her, straight for her heart, as if in slow motion. Barely a millimeter away from boring into her chest, there was a tiny flash of light, and the bullet was gone. Not directed away, not stopped dead in its tracks to fall to the ground; just… gone. Thoughts drifted into her mind, and she laughed. The Fey didn't want any of the humans' horrid metal devices littering their lands. It was unhealthy for the ground, and thoroughly displeasing to the eye.
Santos was fidgeting now, raising his hand and whipping a finger around in a circle in the air. Whatever man had a weapon on hand raised it, and the air was alive with the sounds of shooting and the smell of smoke. Helen kept her head bowed, watching the bullets disappear into tiny flashes of light, like mini fireworks, or twinkling stars. It was almost beautiful. After several moments, whether because they realized it was futile, or because they ran out of ammunition, the men stopped firing. Magnus raised her head. Santos was clutching at the medallion hanging around his neck, mouthing silent words. He glanced over to one of his men, a hulking mass of muscle, and nodded sharply. The burly man shot forward, running towards her, swinging a wicked, curved blade.
Magnus waited until he was bringing the blade down, poised to cut through her neck and shoulder, before she raised her machete. The man's knife snapped in two, and when his momentum carried his hand forward, useless hilt still in his grip, his fist bounced off her shoulder as if hitting a rock. He cried out, hand breaking and hilt falling uselessly to the ground. He looked at her with furious, wide eyes, snarling as he charged forward again with his good fist. It should have broken her nose at the very least, if not her cheekbone as well. She should have been knocked off her feet and thrown to the ground. Instead, the man wound up with two broken hands while she remained still, not even a breeze ruffling her hair. When the man charged forward one last time, she reached out and planted her hand on his chest. She let him continue forward, bending her elbow, coiling her muscles before pushing out. All 6'5" of the man's wide frame lifted off the ground, and he flew clear across the dell to land in a heap, unmoving.
Santos gestured wildly, calling to his men, screaming for them to attack and overpower her. None of them moved. Juan crossed his arms and calmly watched the proceedings. Magnus' voice, echoing across the clearing, stopped Santos mid-sentence.
"I don't want to hurt any of you," she said. "But I can't let you go free to spread your murderous ways." She paused for a moment, looking each man in the eye. She couldn't see the deformed young boy anywhere. "If you can swear to me, right now, that you will never pick up a weapon to harm another person, animal, or creature unjustly, ever again, than I will allow you to live." Several of the men started shuffling, nervously. A few looked pensive. One man outright scoffed, and her vision narrowed in on him. His eyes went wide, and in the next second he was gone. The only sign that he was ever there was a faint wispy vapour that quickly dispersed into the night air. The men surrounding him gasped, stumbling backwards to get away from the magic, before turning to stare at her.
Magnus hadn't killed the man. She wasn't here to slaughter anyone. She was merely the vessel through which the faeries could see, looking straight into these men's souls. If the Fey decided a man was not worthy or not true in his promise of peace to Magnus, they would rid them from their lands. Magnus couldn't stop them, though she rather wished she could. She was practically one of them now, yes, but as she watched several of the men suddenly turn to dust, she was thankful for her decision to not become one of them forever. She'd shared experiences with them that she could never describe to anyone, even herself, but she didn't know everything about them. She was glad she hadn't blindly followed them, falling under their spell completely.
When the faerie's judgment was complete, even the tents, supplies, and food had disappeared. Only five men remained standing; Juan, Santos, and three others. A huddled shape lay on the ground at the far edge of the clearing. Magnus looked to one of the men she didn't know. Her mind was filled with images of a woman, smiling as she watched three young children, a boy and twin girls, running towards her. Magnus smiled, and she nodded at the man. His face crumpled, and he sobbed, falling to his knees and bowing to her. She felt the faeries infuse him with strength, love, and a sense of direction. He stood up, his eyes gleaming, and turned around. He ran straight into the forest. Magnus knew she would never hear from him again. Magnus turned toward another of the unknown men, who couldn't have been more than 25. This time her mind was filled with the sight of a young woman, barely even 20, giggling shyly as she raised an apron to her face to try hide her blushing cheeks. Magnus chuckled, shaking her head, and the man managed to blush and cower in hopeful fear at the same time. She nodded, and the man was given the same gift of life from the faeries before turning and bolting away.
She turned to the final stranger and frowned. The images she received from him were unclear. There was no woman, or man, or family of any kind. Instead she felt feelings, the idea that he didn't know what to do with himself, only that he wanted to leave this place and learn of new things. He was certain there was a world beyond what he knew, and he wanted to explore it. The faeries hesitated, unsure of what to do. In a sudden flood of inspiration, Magnus let them know. They were surprised, but accepted her decision. They filled the man, named Isidro, with his own set of directions. As he ran off, they informed her that his name meant, "gifted with many ideas" and she hoped he was. She hoped he would be able to rise up out of the darkness and cruelty that his life had been.
Finally, the clearing was empty but for Magnus, Juan, and Santos. She knew that very soon at least two of them would be dead, but before that happened, she had to know a few things.
"What happened here?" she asked, referring to the camp and its state of utter mutiny. Santos was relieved at her question, thinking he still had a chance to talk to her, convince her to let him live, maybe even agree to let him join her own band. When he spoke his voice was calm and even, but she could still hear his fanatical undertones.
"This puta dared challenge my leadership," he said, nodding his head towards his second in command.
"Is that not his right?" she asked.
"If he had directly challenged me, I would have accepted and fought him like the men we are! But no, this little man could not confront me face to face. Instead he whispered words in the ears of my men. He told them that I was no longer fit to lead, that I was blinded by my obsession with you and your kind." As he spoke, Santos' eyes grew more and more fevered. Magnus still didn't know how many days she had been with the faeries, but it had obviously been enough to completely throw this resilient, dangerous man off the edge. Considering she didn't know anything about his mental state before she'd met him, she couldn't say how long the build up to this breakdown had been. She didn't know about his childhood, growing up in a loveless, abusive home. How he had killed his father while the man had tried to beat his mother. How he had suddenly discovered the power he could wield, and how much he enjoyed it. As he'd grown up and learned the arts of war and politics, he began to truly believe he could help his people and make a difference. The path he followed to achieve that goal, however, made any chance of a peaceful ascension impossible. As years passed and his dreams remained unrealized, he'd grown more and more frustrated. When he'd discovered the idea of "the faeries" he'd been instantly captivated. It was a perfect solution, an answer to all his problems. He just needed to find one. He had literally been searching for her all his life, and when she had slipped away from him, it had been too much.
Magnus didn't know any of this, but her very presence in this jungle spoke to the fact that she knew all about a slow descent into very dark places. She could see Juan smiling out of the corner of her eye and knew the damage he could have caused without seeming to have said anything at all. A simple idea planted in the minds of such a small, tempestuous group could be more deadly than any outright battle.
"You are a cruel man, Santos," she said. "Though I don't approve of his methods, Juan was right to think you did not deserve your power."
Santos' eyes went dark, and his lips curled back in a growling sneer.
"I challenge you, right here, right now. Face to face," she said.
Santos' rage overpowered his fear. With a roar he leapt forward. He did not dissolve into an ash cloud as his men had. The faeries let Magnus deal with him on her own, knowing that while she didn't enjoy killing, she needed to face this foe herself. When he dove towards her, she hopped to the side so fast he barely had time to realize he was falling forward before he managed to duck and roll, standing up again. This time he approached her slowly, calculating, trying to get close enough that she couldn't just zip away again. She let him get close. When he suddenly struck out with his fist, she was still able to block him. It was a testament to his physical prowess that his arm didn't break when it came into contact with hers. He hissed, but didn't back down. He used his hiss as an attempted distraction as he thrust his foot out to sweep hers out from underneath her. She could hear the whistling of his foot as he moved; sense the subtle shift in the air as his muscles tensed. She stepped off to the side, using his sweeping foot to unbalance him and let him fall to the ground. She backed off, letting him get up again, wiping the dirt from his hands onto his pants.
He advanced on her again and to his credit, she did have to work to deflect his attacks. She used his own power against him, using his momentum to keep him moving, twisting, turning. Every time he hit the ground he would get up, but each time it took a second or two longer. Within minutes he was red faced and breathing heavily while sweat poured down his forehead, and blood dripped from numerous cuts and wounds. A few more falls, and he didn't get up. Blood was pounding in her own ears as Magnus tried to keep the haze of battle from her mind, to stay focused and not think about things like revenge or justice. She walked up to him, kneeling down to check his status, when a glint of silver flashed just outside of her vision. She turned towards it, finding a small but sharp knife flying towards her held in a large, beefy fist. She reacted on instinct, as his body suddenly lurched up from the ground to support his final attempt on her life. She blocked and twisted, throwing him sideways. She heard a surprised grunt, and then he was still again. She stood and moved around his still limbs to see his eyes staring straight ahead, lifeless, impaled on his own blade. A few seconds later, his body seemed to sink into the ground, leaving a fine layer of debris.
Magnus breathed out, slowly, willing her pulse to slow down and her mind to clear. She was thankful that the world was rid of at least one more ruthless tyrant.
She felt a slight depression in the ground behind her and spun around, grabbing the wrist of the hand that held the knife, a bare centimeter from where her back had been, and what was now her chest. Juan sneered at her, and she tightened her grip. The knife fell from a useless hand, but his face did not waver. His arm went slack, and she let go.
"I had to try," he said in a quiet, raspy voice. It had a sinuous quality, like a snake. Magnus nodded in acknowledgment of his stealth, and let the knife drop to the ground. She observed the man.
"What did you hope to achieve by creating anarchy?" she questioned.
"He was not fit to lead," he replied.
She frowned. "And you were?"
He smiled at this, a crooked upturn of his lips, and shook his head.
"I have no desire to lead."
"Then what was your purpose?"
He was quiet for a moment.
"Do I have to have one?"
A cold shiver ran down her spine. Juan was a different breed than Santos. The former leader had had a goal, an action plan for what he thought was good for his people. But this pale, scarred man did not. Some people in the world just wanted to cause pain, and he was one of them. She felt the faerie's asking her what she would like to do, and she told them to wait.
"Do you have a purpose now?" she asked. He knew what she was hoping to hear and thrilled to disappoint.
She was silent for a few moments, allowing him to gather his thoughts though she suspected he didn't need to.
"Will you do it yourself?" she asked, breaking the silence. He nodded. She bent down and picked up his weapon, handing it back. He gazed at the blade, turning it over in his hands a few times, reverently, before raising his eyes to gaze into her own, smiling.
He raised the knife and without any preamble plunged it into his chest, straight through the heart, looking at her the whole time. His expression never wavered. Goosebumps broke out across her flesh despite the muggy heat as he fell to the ground at her feet.
Magnus quickly turned and walked a few steps away. She'd known several people who had taken their own lives, but she had never witnessed it so up close, so very full of intent. In a way, it was the perfect cap on top of her dark years. A ritualistic sacrifice to symbolize the true end of that chapter of her life, the cleansing of evil before a new era could begin. The first act of this new era would be a rescue.
Magnus turned towards the prostrate form at the boundary of the clearing and walked purposely forward. She knelt down at Mauno's side, reaching out to check his pulse, afraid she was too late. She breathed a sigh of relief when she felt his slow, steady heartbeat. She closed her eyes and laid her palm flat on his arm. She didn't know what happened next, whether it was her own power or that of the faeries channeling through her once again, but the boy's body twitched, and his eyes flew open. She felt a moment of tension, remembering the swirling, oily mass that had inhabited the sockets when she'd last seen him. She owed it to him to look again. She saw frightened, brown eyes looking back at her, and her heart broke. She could see the regret and shame in them, and knew he remembered everything about his time as a "monster" and what he'd done to her. Before Santos had stolen him, he had never hurt any living thing in his life and had never wanted to. Had the violence he wrought on her always been there in the back of his mind? Or had it erupted solely due to his transformation? Magnus could see the mental war being waged, and for a moment thought of another man, and the character change that had happened after a willingly accepted, blood-filled needle.
"It's ok," she whispered in Portuguese, hoping her voice could be as soothing as the thoughts of the faeries. They couldn't penetrate his mind in the state of half-being that he was trapped in, so he had only her words to help him right now. First, though, he had to absorb the idea that despite what he'd done to her, she was here, this angel, to liberate him.
"Everything will be ok from now on," she promised him. "Santos and his men are gone forever." She could see hope flicker in his eyes then die within the span of a heartbeat. He couldn't hope anymore. Hope only brought disappointment and hurt. She raised her palm to his cheek, stroking gently with her thumb.
"The faeries would like to have you back with them. They want to try once more to make you one of their own. Is that still what you want?"
She could see him considering, remembering the pain of being ripped from the process by the grubby hands of his captors. But he also remembered the feeling of being with the Fey, the creatures who were beyond anything he'd ever imagined. He had never felt so safe, so loved, except when in the arms of his mother, dead so many years ago. She could see the decision in his eyes, and her heart soared for him. They would take care of him, and he would never again know fear or oppression.
Voices sounded through her mind, thanking her, praising her performance, but also gently asking her to leave. Her time with them was done, and they could not bear to have the temptation of her presence in their lands any longer.
"No, I can't leave yet," she protested. "I have to bring the boy to you."
They shook their heads. They would retrieve him themselves, not wanting to put him through the potential agony of transport. She grudgingly accepted their logic.
Do not fear, they said. We will be with him soon.
She knew that no harm would come to the boy once she left him. She leaned down and gently kissed Mauno on his crackled, broken forehead. Soon it would be smooth and radiant. She stood up and started walking away from him.
She never turned back to see if Juan's body had been taken into the ground like everyone else. She simply started to run.
Magnus ran solidly, ignoring any need for food or drink until she made it to Diogo's glade. Along the way she realized that her problems weren't quite over. She'd taken down Santos and his men, but they had been a mere faction within Pablo Escobar's empire. He was the real problem now. She'd cut down one of his major instigators, but his abnormal smuggling was still in full swing. She would have to deal with him, the sooner the better. But not now. For now, she had to get back to the Sanctuary and mend some fences. There were also personal issues she had to think over. She needed to regroup and refocus. When she eventually did go for Escobar, she would need to be prepared and in full control.
It was the middle of the afternoon when she arrived at Diogo's glade, and both he and Isidro were waiting for her, tense with anticipation. She was glad to see that Isidro had followed the instincts the Fey had given him. From the way the two men clapped each other's hands together in relief and joy at the sight of her, she could tell she had made the right decision about him. Diogo let go of his new friend's hands and turned towards her. At first his eyebrows rose as he took in her unconventional outfit, still pristine despite the fighting of the night before. His eyebrows remained aloft as he observed her fresh, vibrant looks in general. Then his face turned to stone and he stalked towards her. She had never seen him so angry.
"Seven days, Helen," he said, his voice strained with the effort of withholding his rage. "Seven days you have been out of communication with me. The night of the 22nd you suddenly just… disappeared. If not for the strange tales my animals have been telling me of a mysterious new elf mage that emerged into existence yesterday, I would have thought you dead long ago. All of today, too, I have been waiting."
Magnus was stunned.
"Seven days?" she repeated, quickly doing the math. She had been with the faeries for more than a week? "It's the 31st?" she asked. He nodded shortly.
Dear God! She thought. I thought I'd been with them for maybe 2 or 3 days… Her body started to tingle, but she clamped down on the feeling immediately. This was certainly no time for that. She wondered if she would ever be able to think of Brazil, jungles, or waterfalls again without her body reacting so.
"I apologize, my friend," she said. "Truly and deeply. Please believe that if I could have contacted you, sent you a message in any way, I would have."
The Brazilian scowled at her, but nodded. Without knowing what had happened, he could not justify his anger. If her tale was half as bizarre as his animal brethren led him to believe, he was sure she was telling the truth.
"But I am not the only one who has been worried," he said. At this, Magnus gulped.
"Is he on right now?" she asked. Diogo nodded and led her into his shack. She sat down on the stump that he had for the rare occasion she visited and needed a place to sit. She picked up the microphone and turned the radio on. She closed her eyes and sent up a silent prayer before she spoke.
"Hello, old friend," she said.
The only reply she got was a sudden roar, followed by a tirade of incomprehensible admonishments, curses, and proclamations of joy. She hoped her journey home would give the Big Guy time to calm down, but she was sure she would receive another bout when she arrived at the Sanctuary. When she felt he had vented enough, she cut through his rambling.
"Yes… YES, thank you, I quite understand," she yelled. His roaring quieted down to a dull shout.
"Eight days!" he growled again.
"No word at all!"
His last word was suddenly quiet, so much so she barely heard him. The single word had more impact on her than all of his shouting, and she felt tears well in her eyes as her chest constricted. How could she not have realized how much she meant to him? How much he meant to her?
"I'm sorry," she whispered back.
There were several moments of silence while she heard shuffling noises through the comms. She couldn't think about him needing tissues, or she would burst into tears herself. She finally heard a grunt, and his voice filtered back on.
"When will you be home?"
Magnus looked to Diogo and Isidro. Isidro eyes were suspiciously bright, but Diogo chimed in immediately.
"I had a ticket booked as soon as my people told me the bad men were gone," he admitted. "Just in case. I figured you would want to leave as soon as possible."
Magnus looked to Isidro, who seemed suddenly worried.
"I booked another ticket when they told me you were coming," finished Diogo.
He rarely communicated with the "outside world," and to have done so, twice, was beyond anything she could have hoped for from him. She smiled as she stood up, leaving the radio for a moment so she could put her arms around him. Physical contact with other humans was almost as rare as talking to them, and though he floundered for a moment, he wrapped his own arms around her and held on. The hug only lasted a few seconds, but it was the best thanks she could have given him. She patted him on the shoulder once more as she sat down again.
"I'll be at the airport as soon as I can. I'll be home within a day," she informed her butler.
"I ignored all the paperwork," he told her, and she laughed. However worried he had been, he had still held enough faith in her that she would return to finish it.
"And I have one hell of a story for you," she told him.
Diogo relayed the exact flight information to the Big Guy while Magnus quickly talked to Isidro. She had only briefly glimpsed into his mind and relished the chance to finally talk to the man she had chosen to be her new protégé. The decision had been sudden, but she'd known, somehow, that it would turn out all right . As she talked with him, she knew she had been right. His mind was sharp and spoke of untapped potential. He didn't have any formal education, but she could tell he was intelligent. Most importantly, his mind was open. She knew he would accept the world of the Sanctuary with an eager and ambitious fortitude.
He would be with her for only 10 years, leaving her then for the soul mate he finally found in a woman named Maria, who had the remarkable ability to manipulate small amounts of metal in her hands. They started a small jewelry and ornaments shop back in his native Brazil, and he was never happier. During the 10 years he spent with Magnus, he learned and contributed much, and she never begrudged his decision to leave it behind.
But as she stood talking to him for the first time in the small clearing by the shack, her mind was filled with the possibilities of a bright future. When Diogo emerged from his home and jumped up into the driver's seat of his small jeep, she smiled brightly. She let Isidro jump in next, taking a moment to turn around and survey the still forest one last time. She breathed in deeply, feeling her powers wane further and further. Her remorse at the fact was tempered by the knowledge that she could always return, and the soft "Until next time," that floated through her head. She was still smiling when she hopped up into the jeep and drove away.
The hum of the engine was as comforting to Magnus as some people found gently lapping waves on a seashore. The slightly scratchy, somewhat rigid material of the seat behind her felt like soft down. Ten thousand feet up in the air, and she felt more grounded than she had in years. The irony was not lost on her, and she found herself chuckling at herself. It was incredible, feeling this connected to reality again.
While never being too vain or indulgent, Magnus had always enjoyed having clothes, decorations, and a deep appreciation for good quality. Her dresses were well made, and her wine was always the finest. So much had changed in her brief time in the jungle. She knew she'd been taking these things for granted. Her fine clothes had stopped giving her comfort, the good food, on the rare occasion she ate, was tasteless. She paid no mind to the expensive cars or being able to take her private jet whenever she needed. Magnus realized now how ungrateful she'd become, how insensitive to everything around her. She vowed from now on she wouldn't take such things for granted. She marveled at the fact that even here, flying through the sky, she could ask for something to drink or eat, get a blanket to cover herself, or go to the bathroom in a hygienic environment. It was incredible, the innovations of mankind, the way they had developed, with her there watching it all. She was, in many ways, lucky to have this unique perspective on life. It wasn't always heartache and pain and bitterness. She glanced over at Isidro, eyes wide in wonder at the sensation of flying, as he had never done before. The amazement in his eyes every time she told him he could ask for food, water, anything, was an unexpected reward.
She wanted to feel, taste, and appreciate again. Not just her material possessions, but the people around her. She felt a vague sickness at the thought of how she'd been treating some of her friends – a tall, hairy one in particular.
She would have to work hard to repair the damage she'd done to her relationships, but she would try her hardest. She needed companionship again, needed friendship and support and, dare she say it, love.
Her mind drifted back again to the frozen vial hidden in that dark room. The little bundle of cells suddenly represented a new hope. Not only was it the perfect way to commemorate this change in her perspective on, well, life itself, it was a way to ensure that it continued. Magnus had known many kinds of love in her time, both physical and emotional, but the love of a child would be something new.
As the whirring of the engine lulled Magnus further into relaxation, nearing sleep, she imagined the face of a newborn baby. A girl, maybe, with little wisps of super fine hair, and wide blue eyes. The way she would giggle, and squeal, and clap her hands, amazed at everything she saw. Unconditional, unquestioned love.
Helen remembered what day it was, and smiled. She would get back to the Sanctuary late in the day of the 1st of January, 1985. A rather coincidental yet poetic timing. A new year, a new beginning.
As she finally drifted into sleep, Magnus smiled, heart lighter than it had been in over a decade.
She would never be alone again.
*takes a deep breath* PHEW! Longest story I've ever written! Made myself upset with that ending, because as we all know, Ashley, well... and she IS all alone, YET AGAIN, and... well... What did YOU guys think! This whole thing started as an excuse to get Magnus into a hot encounter with some Faerie guys... don't ask me how it ended up being an action/adventure that leads to her deciding to have Ashley! Hahaha. One last round of love and hugs to you all for reading this through to the end :) Thank You. Namaste. MajorSam