Once the large cloak hit the floor Brooklyn's eyes were left to widen and wonder this new Ilaria that stood before him in such glory. The goddess Pele had changed the girl into a form when they had met up and spent some time on the island of Hawaii to establish an alibi that the king Oberon would not be able to disprove of so easily and to hide as much of her magic scent from others such as them as possible.
Ilaria was no longer in human form nor was she of her heritage form. She was in the form of her lover's roots. She was a gargoyle. Her skin took on the color of light teal. Her hair was still its usual color, decorated with a braided band similar to a headband and two plumeria flowers on each side of her head, but from her hair stood four horns; two long horns curling downward and two much smaller horns curling slightly upward. Her ears were also pointed the only slight indicator of her fae blood. Her wings looked like that of many gargoyles, strong, bat like and flexible. Now her tail was an interesting thing as it had fins similar to a fish about it. Why would her tail look like that? Brooklyn wondered in his head. Though this did not last long as a thought in his head for when he looked closer at her body in her new outfit. She wore a jade green tube top that had cuts in the sides and a long jade green sarong wrap style skirt. Two long gold bracelets, one armlet in the style of leaves decorated her arms and a lone swirled belt of gold were all the adornment she needed to make him start drooling at her form.
"How do I look?" She asks him fiddling with a strand of hair in nervousness of his reaction towards her.
"You look…beautiful…" He took her into his arms and held her close. The two said nothing, they didn't need to say anything to one another all that they needed was just this moment to realize that this wasn't some fanciful dream, but life in motion. The feel that the other was real and within the distance of that which is reality. And life for them was going to hit an interesting point of reality
"Brooklyn! Brooklyn, look I know that you are out here! Come on all of us…..Brooklyn?" Lexington had come into the picture and was shocked when he saw Brooklyn embracing some strange female gargoyle after all of what he had said and done barely five minutes ago. The shock then turned into anger. To think he was chewing everyone's head's off for not doing their part in getting Ilaria back and here he was holding on to some female gargoyle that he had on the side. Lexington actually thought on giving Brooklyn more than a black eye for what he was doing. Well, well turns out he is not so noble in love. Lexington crossed his arms and allowed his eyes to glow at his clan mate as the others (who came looking for Brooklyn as well) came into view. When they all saw what Lexington saw they had very similar reactions. And interestingly enough Pele was not there to explain the situation.
"What the heck?" Scratching his head Broadway asked trying to keep himself from bulldozing his rookery brother down.
"Who this be?" Hudson asks threateningly at the unfamiliar gargoyle girl.
"Who cares who she is?! I just wonder what she is really to Brooklyn." Lexington said with a snarl.
"How dare you act this way when claim to be in love with one who has been stolen away!" Goliath scolded Brooklyn. Having had enough Ilaria spoke up.
"I don't understand. Is my disguise truly that good? I had hoped that my friends would have been able to reconginze me not matter the disguise." Ilaria asks to no one really, but was soon answered by Angela, who was the first to see what the stranger was talking about.
"Well what would you expect Ilaria, not one of us would have foreseen you returning to us looking like one of our own. What use is a disguise if it doesn't fool someone?" That stopped the others so that they could process what had just been said. Angela moved closer to the two. "I was almost fooled into believing you were someone else until I took a really good look at you. I take it that this was Pele's work."
"Yes, it was. She has established me as being a Hawaiian gargoyle that had served to protect her sacred isle. That reminds me while I was becoming a gargoyle I was given a new name Aliikai. Which all of you will have to address me by from this point on."
"Il-Aliikai, there is more to this than simply a name change isn't there?" Goliath asked.
"Yes, there is. Brooklyn you will not like this part even though we are together you will have to act as if we are apart."
"What are you talking about? You're not leaving are you?" His hands grasp her arms as he gazes into her eyes ready to hold on to her in case she should bolt from his sight.
"Brooklyn, Oberon will look for me since I have fled his isle. The first thing he will do is look here since this is really the only place I would want to be. But we don't want him to think that I am here in this form. You have to act as if I am no one special to you. All of you will have to think that I am Aliikai and no one else when we go through the first meeting again."
"Don't you mean second meeting?"
"No Broadway first meeting. Pele let me see you now to explain everything to Brooklyn, since he was the most vocal in his declarations. Once all of you are back at Xanatos's place I will enter with Pele as if meeting all of you for the first time."
"Before that meeting, I would like to apologize for the hostility that you received." Hudson and a few of the others said. A strange myriad of drums then came from nowhere and caused Ilaria to become stiff and alert to her surroundings. "The drums. That's Pele's signal. I have to go." Brooklyn grabbed Illaria's arm to stop her movements.
"You can't just leave us." Affectionately she caressed his cheek. "Brooklyn I will return to your side. I swear to you that I will not be leaving your side forever. Just so that we can meet again for the first time as Brooklyn and Aliikai." With that she kissed his cheek and disappeared into the bushes. Quickly all of Manhattan clan flew to Xanatos's tower to their relief Pele appeared just as they came further into the main hall.
"Good to see that everyone who is needed is here." Pele's eye's look about checking off each face in her mind's list. Puck (as Owen), Fox, Xanatos, Goliath, Elisa, Angela, Broadway, Lexington, Hudson and of course Brooklyn was there. He had to be there this was for his benefit after all. Well his and Ilaria's. "As with many meetings good and bad news are to be exchanged between us. The first that should be exchanged is the bad news. I have not yet acquired a way to bring Ilaria back here without a good plan, but I have a few theories to test out to see if they work. In the meantime as an act of trust and good faith I will leave you with a trustworthy and helpful representative. Aliikai you can come forth now. Meet those who will be your allies in this city."
Aliikai came forth from the shadows. A disguise that Puck was not able to see through, however that could change if she should slip up at any point. The Gargoyles weren't going to have to worry about her true appearance being revealed at least for a while. With the exception of Brooklyn, the gargoyles were placed under a temporary forgetting spell shortly after finding out she was Ilaria in gargoyle disguise. Thanks to Pele who felt that they couldn't take the risk of all the gargoyles knowing. One of them would slip up. A secret is best kept when it is within a small circle. The larger the circle grows the less it is a secret and the more it is a burden on everyone else.
"I am pleased to meet all of you and I promise to do my best as a representative to help all of you and this city." The new member Aliikai said to all with a friendly and yet shy smile upon her face.
"The city?" Goliath asks.
"Yes, it would hardly be fair of me to stay here without protecting the city after all it is the gargoyle way. To protect the homeland?"
"This is pointless." A voice said catching the attention of the others.
"Excuse me Brooklyn but would you care to say that a little louder? I mean you did intend for everyone to hear what you said didn't you? Why else would you say something if no one was to hear it?" Pele asks of him. Brooklyn not going to let Pele off easy decided to say exactly what was on his mind about this little trade off.
"I said that this is pointless. Why do we even need another gargoyle here? No wait let me rephrase that why do we even need her here? It's not like any of us want her here, she's not Ilaria and I say that she goes back from where she came. She's not welcome here."
"Brooklyn! How can you say that to her when she's standing right in front of you like this?" Elisa asks him with a dirty look something he returned.
"It still doesn't change the way I see her and will see her. As a…"
"Whatever you were planning to use to say to her you can forget it. You will learn to show courtesy to our guest. As second in command you lost the right to act like a hatchling." Golitah ordered him, giving Brooklyn a cold stare for his harsh attitude towards this new gargoyle. He came closer to her and put out his hand for her to shake. "Please do not take what he says to heart. His pain and anger cloud his mind and inhibit his manners. You will be glad to know that not all of us share this same mindset. Welcome to our clan Aliikai of Hawaii."
She takes his hand and shakes it while thanking him for inviting her. The rest of the gargoyles follow suit, but as expected they were not exactly thrilled about it, but managed a courteous smile and greeting. All except for one who stood slumped against a stone wall staring at her with discontent.
The party broke up and the clan of gargoyles headed to the balcony to fly towards their home with their new temporary member. They made it to the ledge when they noticed that Aliikai appeared to hesitate. Lexington was the one to ask her what made her stop from taking flight.
"It is the buildings here are so tall and crowded together. Yet with so much activity going about. I have never seen such places as this." In truth it was the fear of heights had her. Even though she did practice a bit of flying before coming back home, she didn't do it from a building ledge.
"I thought that you had skyscrapers like this in Hawaii?"
"We do in the cities of course, but not to the amount that you have here in Manhattan or to the size really. Besides I spent most of my time where Pele's volcano is. Protecting the grounds of that sacred land was main duty. Therefore I did not get to spend time getting to know what city life was like."
"I see. Well just think of the buildings as tall thin volcanoes that you don't have to worry about exploding on you. That sounds kind of lame." Aliikai smiles at him, giving rise to his blush.
"It's sweet actually. How you are helping me. I will try to think of them as dormant volcanoes. But if I start seeing them then I may have used your trick too well." She says before taking the dive off the building. A feat that she was surprised about as her heart felt like it stopped for a moment. Lexington followed suit and kept close to her to see that she wouldn't get lost on the way there. The clan made it to the clock tower where Lexington and Broadway gave her the grand tour of their cozy home.
"Over here is the TV we get some great channels and over there is the kitchen. The fridge is stocked so if you are hungry you are bound to find something good to eat." Broadway demonstrates by taking out a thick crunchy chicken leg and munching on it.
"That's if he hasn't had his midnight snack yet." Lexington added giving her a reason to laugh and Lex to smile again. Broadway laughed it off as well and then went back to his chicken snack. "There is also a library downstairs if you would like to read something. I mean if you like to read that is. If you don't there are other things that we that is, you can do around here."
"I am glad to hear that I don't have to worry about being bored while I am here." A few sirens go off in the distance followed by the sounds of honking horns. "Is it always this noisy? Even at night?"
"You get used to it after a while. It almost becomes soothing to listen to." Broadway then stuffs the remaining chicken leg in his mouth and pulling it out to reveal a clean picked bone sailing into a trash bin. "By the way patrol is going to start soon. Since you want to come with us do you have any particular preference of partner for the night?"
"I think I can be partners with just about anyone here. I just hope that I don't make a fool of myself being the newbie." She said looking nervous again as she thought about flying.
"I don't think you will have to worry too much about that. Your partner will be sure to see that you don't get lost or anything like that." Angela reassured her trying to make the new member feel a bit more welcomed while a particular red gargoyle stood stewing in the corner of the clock tower away from the activity. Life seemed to stay that way for the next couple of days with the new member. The others started to come to find her as a friend and Brooklyn well Brooklyn found it was better to be alone most of the time. In his thoughts or whatever it was that he could claim when asked. It was exactly one week after Aliikai first came to New York that Brooklyn decided to visit a particular place in the city. He went to the lake that in a way started this whole ordeal with Oberon and his children. A nightmare of an ordeal. If Brooklyn hadn't tried to help Ilaria overcome her fear of flying then she wouldn't have fallen into the lake, she wouldn't have been picked up on the way to Avalon and Oberon wouldn't have found out who she was and taken her from him and the others. And then they wouldn't have to go through this whole charade with her being so close and yet so far away. He held his head down with guilt over these thoughts till a voice in the dark called to him sweetly.
"Finally a chance to talk in truth." She spoke coming out of the shadows of the trees. The Hawaiian gargoyle who the others thought he despised but in truth the one he loved. For it was Ilaria in disguise. His hand gently strokes the side of her face before the two embrace with a kiss.
"How much longer do we have to keep up this façade?" He asks her holding her close and away from the lake for fear of losing her again to it.
"A question that I have no answer for at the moment. It could be a few more days, a few months or even forever I do not know for certain. Pele will not contact me for another week." She sighs.
"I can't do this forever. Pretend to find Aliikai loathsome when in truth it's you, Illaria. It's not easy to do for a day much less a life time if it comes to that. It's not easy to keep something silent that you want to say out loud the truth instead of lies."
"It's not easy to deal with it on my part either. But if Oberon is keeping an eye on you to see if your love for me is true and to keep him from realizing that I am Ilaria then we have to keep it up. He will take me back without any hesitation and will probably marry me off to the first person to ask especially if it isn't you or anyone human. The entire subject of love to him, with the exception of his own romance, is about as sacred and worthwhile as snake oil." She said it quite bitterly as memories of her mother's pain did enter her mind. Pain she felt were solely caused by her grandfather. Brooklyn reached out to her to break her connection to these negative emotions to ask a simple question.
"How is it then that you can show me such emotion without fear of Oberon seeing it now?" To this she smiled at him in the impish variety. She walked to the tree and turned to him to tell him why. A curious look over his face.
"Not everything on the Isle of Avalon was something to avoid. I was able to find some spell books in the cave of the Magus and in my mother's home and among them was a spell to be used as a temporary shield against powerful eyes such as Oberon's. If he or anyone like him were to look through a portal or come here to search they would not see the ones the spell was cast for. However if one of the other gargoyles were to come upon us by accident they would see us. We still have to be careful, but not as much as we normally have to be." She said putting her arms around his neck to kiss him again.
"If we could make it permanent, we could have a life together without fear of the truth."
"You should have more faith Brooklyn. We still have a chance at a life together even if this spell cannot be permanent. Pele is working on a way for us to be together. It would be nice to call you my boyfriend after all of this. I never had one to call on before."
"Boyfriend, I was thinking something differently about that actually." To this Illaria grew shockingly surprised with worry. Brooklyn smiled to calm her down and initiated that they should take a walk away from the lake. Which looking back at it caused him to frown. Ilaria picked this up and was surprised by his mood toward the lake as well. So she decided to be blunt and ask him why he was moody around the body of water.
"Why do you look upon the lake like it just stole your wallet?"
"Because it is the cause of our problems with Oberon. The splendid source or our problems."
"True, I suppose it is in a way a problem pit. But it is also a source of great joy for us as well."
"How can it be a source of joy?"
"Brooklyn, do I honestly have to explain it to you?" she smirked.
"Who else would bother?" He playfully said.
"If I didn't go on that journey to Avalon and the world I wouldn't have been able to meet and learn about my father's family, knowing that I have an aunt. The truth about Medusa could have been lost forever to ignorance on my behalf. I wouldn't have been able to see that there were other gargoyles out there, or helped save the rain forest. I also would not have learned the truth about my mother if I had not fallen into that lake. An event that was painful but I needed to know about it. I also may have had to wait longer to hear those special words from you." The last part she said with a softness in her voice that Brooklyn had to strain his ears to hear.
"What special words?" He kids. "Oh you mean those words Ilaria, I love you."
"Can you say them again?" She asks looking away from him to stiffen her blush. Brooklyn turned her around so that they were looking at each other.
"Ilaria, I love you." He takes her into his arms again. "This is why when all of this over I don't want us to be just boyfriend and girlfriend I want us to be something more. I want to make you my mate or if you prefer to be called my wife."
"Your wife?" An answer couldn't be given because a rustle in a bush signaled that someone was there. The two hid but were relieved to find that it was only a jogger going by. Still it was a hint that the two should be going off in their separate ways or else they could easily be spotted without the benefit of a warning.
Meanwhile on the Isle of Avalon there was a storm brewing.
"What do you mean that she has disappeared?!" Oberon bellowed as Raven told him all that he saw.
"She disappeared when the earthquake happened. She was right over it when the rock caved in. I went into and moved the rocks but she wasn't anywhere to be seen. She's disappeared off the island."
"How could she have done so? Her abilities have not been able to gain that sort of strength yet. Someone must have taken her for this to have happened. She has no contact with the outside world and all of those that she know could have done this are all here on the island and know better than to try something like this. Is that not right children?" Those in attendance nodded like children who were about to be scolded.
"It sounds rather Greek don't you think?" Phobe inquired.
"Her being stolen away into the earth." Selene added.
"Does she not have an aunt on her father's side whom could have the knowledge of escaping Avalon?" Luna asks Oberon. It was both Oberon and Titania that answered with the shake their heads.
"Morgana, is one who shows the blood of a medusian as well as an immortal life, but she herself holds no magic past that. Besides Morgana swore to have nothing more to do with the knowledge of Avalon for all her energy goes to her winged horses and with her home of New Olympus. I doubt she would risk a potential war between Avalon and New Olympus even to take her brother's only child back." Titania's words reach Oberon and he thinks deeper on who else could have possibly been able to steal away his granddaughter in the manner that was used. True there were others not of his clan that may have been able to do such a deed as they too were skilled in magics similar to his, but the motive as to why they would do such a thing varied greatly to the point of absurdity as how could they know of her. There were a number who took to great seclusion and others who even though they interacted with the world would not wish to meddle with others like themselves. Ilaria was not as well travelled in the regard that she would have run into these beings except…she and her father lived on the isles of Hawaii and Hawaii is still the home of one individual who could have crossed paths with her Pele, the volcano goddess.
"Send a summons to Kīlauea. We have to have a discussion with one who shapes the land." Oberon ordered to the one who became his new messenger. Titania looks worriedly at her husband and out into the distance at some unseen object in the sea. Meanwhile there lay the whispers of the children of Oberon over the news. For some who had not wanted to come back home it was finally a piece of tasty tidbit for them to enjoy before the boring set in again. Well unfortunately for one child of Oberon in particular it was rather frustrating as she couldn't chatter with the others, but she could nod and make gestures.
It did not take long for the messenger to make it to the sacred volcano of Pele the fire goddess. Magic mirrors are extremely useful in these situations. However that did not help the nerves of the immortal as he was shaking like a leaf to have to be the one to bring Pele to Avalon. Yes, even Pele's famous temper had made it to Avalon and past the Fair Isle. And the lucky guy that he was the messenger was going to meet and deal with her. In her molten lava home complete with sharp hot rocks. Oh Boy. He carefully made his way down the path to where her 'throne room' was. Her back was turned as she was stroking the feathers of a phoenix she was given by Xi Wangmu. She is the goddess from China that takes care of the immortal peach tree. A good friend of the volcano goddess hence why she was given an offspring of her own phoenix
"Who is it that dares to enter this sacred place? Be brave and bold, weak or cowardly or perhaps foolish and ready to die that you would enter here?" She turns around with her eyes a glow with warning that was mimicked by her bird whose tail feathers took on the scorching of blue fire.
"Speak up now or die in the fires below. For I have no patience for those who waste my time with worthless errands. If this is to prove that you have survived a visit with the goddess, then you are going to stay here for a long time till the point no one shall be looking for you ever again."
"I am not a mortal."
"Good for you. That still doesn't explain what it is that you are doing here in my home. Unless you desire to be one of my lovers and come here to catch my eye? Be warned I can burn you far greater than any flame should you choose this path."
"I did not come here to…to waste your time or be one of your lovers." Yet he could not help himself to stop and think what life would be like if he should choose to be one of her lovers. Till the angry face of Oberon appeared in his mind resolving all lusty thoughts to naught. "It is Lord Oberon, ruler of Avalon the mystic Isle that requests your presence at his estate this minute. I am to escort you."
"I see." She said stroking her chin. The phoenix shifts to sit upon her shoulder as it gave the vultures stare to the messenger. "And did he perchance tell you what to do should I refuse his invitation? Be honest with me."
"No, he gave me no further instruction on should you refuse the invitation to Avalon." He replied honestly not thinking where these words could possibly lead him.
"Then you have to ask him." Her palm held vertical she shoved the air and the messenger through her volcanic glass mirror that sent him skidding on his back to the feet of Oberon. He looked down with eyebrow arched in curiosity as to why his messenger lay on his back before his ruler. The messenger looked up and told him why with simple words.
"She said no."
"You're damn right I said no." Came Pele's voice as she stood before all of the children of Oberon decked to her full goddess attire. Her phoenix grown in size with tail feathers wrapped around his goddess's feet daring any to try and come between him and his owner. Ropes of obsidian and black coral laid against her arms and chest creating a shawl like appearance that stood out against her flaming red dress and peridot stones that wove in and out of it like fish in the waves of the sea of fire.
"You still bothered with an appearance to which we are grateful for, my lady Pele." Oberon did bow in a way that was fitting of her stature. Pele returned the gesture as was customary. Then the real meat of the matter was brought up.
"Pele, it is not in your nature to have your time wasted and as of now it is not mine as well. You may or may not have heard but we have suffered a terrible blow to our family as we have lost our newly found granddaughter."
"She has died? This I am shocked to hear."
"It is not something as melodramatic as that. It appears that she has been stolen from us."
"Yes, but it is how she was stolen that has us asking you here. You see she was swallowed up by the earth."
"Have you asked the other earth gods or is it just me that you believe has done this deed?"
"Why would the other earth gods come after a child of my blood that they do not know?"
"Perhaps they wish to wed her or have an issue with you. I was told once that Gaia your grandmother is a bit bitter over what you did to your mother." To the lord Oberon it was a physical blow as his family matters where not her concern. "But now that you have told me of what it is that has plagued your mind. I shall keep my eyes wide open for your grandchild. It is sad though that I must leave you now. My own home needs tending to."
Pele's exit was far less dramatic then what one would have expected of her, but at the same time had an effect that left an impression. Her smooth, sleek and quiet exit caused a stir with the children of Oberon into thinking that she was still among them till Oberon's voice rang out across the island so that all could hear his decree.
"My children, seek out our lost relation. To the one who finds her they will be granted a gift from me. Any gift that they desire that I will willingly grant they shall have. But be warned that one must use to tact and shall not harm the mortals in their search. Now be off for those who seek their fortune and may your quests be fruitful." No sooner had the last syllable left his lips that Oberon's children fled the isle to begin their search for the missing child. Some went to just bring her back, but many of them desired that gift and were willing to be a little restless in their pursuit.
"My lord, are you sure that this decision was not a rash one to make?"
"Pele may or may not have been the one to take Ilaria, but she did bring up a good point. There are others who may have had a hand in this and all of them are still out in the mortal realm. Sending out all of my children for a prize will encourage the results of good fortune in finding and bringing back our granddaughter. Don't you wish to have her back Titania?"
"I do, my lord Oberon." Titania spoke with great honesty.
"As do I. I am going to raise her in the ways of our people make her proud of her mother's heritage. I know that her resistance is strong now, but in time she will see that I am doing this to make amends with what has happened between us and Adora. It is our…my fault that she is gone…" Titania reached out and touched her husband's shoulder holding him close as if it would erase the pains from the past.
"We all carry some form of blame my lord. Even I. My hatred was blinding my heart from those I loved for most. Both our daughter and you have suffered by my choices."
The royal couple shared a moment of silence at their melancholy feelings. While three certain sisters looked at the two with annoyed expressions decorating their otherwise flawless faces.
"Luna, would you be willing to break a law of Avalon in order to lessen our parents' pain?" Selene asks with a toss of her black hair.
"It depends on what law you mean for me to break Selene." Luna responds. Phoebe says nothing but intently listens to what her sister with say next.
"That we should leave this island and find our dear little neice ourselves. True as summer in Avalon there will be trouble when our father learns of our deceit, but his relief upon our gift will surely…."
"No." The dark haired and light haired sisters looked to their golden haired sibling with deep shock. It was rare that one would say no to the other. "We will do no such thing sisters. This is not our fight and this is not something that we should risk our father's wrath upon us." The other two tried to sway their third sister's decision, but her mind was made up and could not be moved on the subject. They soon began to wonder why Phoebe should be so firm in her decision when two of them already agreed on the idea. There was not much they could do without her. The sisters' worked best when they were altogether. Give her a little time and then perhaps she will have a change of heart?
On the rest of the island there was a small sense of unrest amongst the island dwellers including the gargoyles and humans. Over the disappearance of the one called Ilaria, the children came to three theories of her flight. The first theory was that she had actually hid her true strength and falsified the earthquake in order to escape the isle. The second theory was that it could truly have been a case of kidnapping similar in the far days of the past when humans would try to snare one of the fair folk as a mate or servant. The third theory was that someone else on the island had cooked up this scheme and had her hidden somewhere on Avalon. Puck came to mind till realization dawned that his banishment was still in place.
"If she was taken do you think they will try to force her into a marriage?" A swan maiden asked her brother the storm god Odin. A fellow god figure replied to the question.
"If it is humans we are talking in this day and age there can be a trifle worse things they could due to her if she were taken that is."
"Keep in mind that those who do still believe in our truths are those who solely seek for assurance of our existence. Should she have been taken then with hope she is only being questioned of what she knows of us."
"Which isn't much, Grandmother. She is still a youngling and rather… to be polite dim on our ways and customs." It was Anansi who added this part. "Should we follow this theory as the truth then should we not conclude that with her lack of information the perpetrators will strike again in the near future?" A smirking grin of a trickster is hardly something of comfort. Anansi's web was being made by his words he was angling and the others were looking to take the bait. Save for two elders Odin and Grandmother. They instead found a way to cut off his fisherman's trick before the gullible fish found themselves on the frying pan.