I own none of the original.
The glass shattered, sending shards flying. I gazed at my bloody, tearstained face in the broken mirror. Faeries and humans alike would come running from the noise I had made. One of the fey might like the dead human on the sidewalk. I left everything behind, fading into mist and shadow. Cloaking was easy. Running away was easy. Killing was easy.
Accepting my fate was another matter.
My name… I hadn't used my name in so long that I had forgotten. But I had not gone unforgotten. Everyone knew of the chaos I could leave in my wake. I was a hero, a criminal, a living weapon.
I was Harmony.
Having my name cross my mind, I stopped under a willow tree. Every time! A faery would have disappeared. A human would have gone mad. A half-breed would have been somewhere in-between. The only thing: I was none!
Opening trods to the Nevernever was not too difficult, although Faery never wanted me in its midst. Technically I should not exist, whatever I am.
Leaning my head back, I saw a raven with bright green eyes staring down at me. My blood turned cold.
Feathers rained down on me. Robin Goodfellow regarded me curiously. Exhaustion shadowed his gaze. "Harmony, I haven't seen you in a while," he commented.
I scowled. "What's the matter, Goodfellow? Didn't Oberon welcome you back after Meghan became Iron Queen?" He opened his mouth, but I rushed on: "That was a few decades ago. What happened?"
"Ash got a soul," Puck muttered. "I gave up trying to be with Meghan. He made her happy." He did not smirk once in the minute we talked.
"What about… Kierran? You, Ash, and the Iron prince hunt in the wyldwood, don't you?"
This received a wry smile. "I haven't been to Faery since Ash returned. I've just been sightseeing." His full smirk appeared, making me wince. "All the while on my travel, there's a clever little murderess running amok."
Instinctively, my eyes narrowed. "I can kill you next," I warned.
Puck sobered. "Do you have a place to stay? I can take you to Lea's," he offered, green depths glowing.
"No. Plus I think you need the place to stay, raven-boy. My own trod," I explained as I drew a symbol in the air. Puck kept close to me, my realm pricking fear in him as it did all new visitors. Granted, they were either killed or ended up as my servants, but Goodfellow was an exception. "You're safer here."
"Maybe not," he breathed skeptically. He perked up when he smelled food. Brownies were moving in the kitchen wing. I nudged him with my shoulder, smiling slightly. Puck used to be a good friend to me. "How did you get your own realm? There are only the Nevernever, Between, and mortal worlds… and now yours, apparently."
I looked up from sharpening my Japanese tsurugi. There were weapons and trods throughout my world. Puck swallowed a mouthful of food. "How did I survive when I'm nothing?" I growled.
His unusually serious expression softened. "You know damn well you're not nothing," he replied, less angrily than I would have expected. "Ari, Ash, and I proved that time and time again. If Meghan knew you, I'm sure she would say the same, and Kierran."
"When's Elysium?" I needed the prankster back. This compassionate side was freaky.
Just as I expected, Goodfellow returned, smirk and all. "Tonight. What are you planning, not-so-Harmony?" His eyes gleamed with vicious anticipation.
I grinned devilishly.
"Thanks," I told the human tailor I kept around. Her confused face lightened at my praise; she dipped her head slightly as I stood and exited her cottage.
A smile played at his lips when Puck saw me. Both of us had battle/hunting gear specially designed to look like formal attire. (I would never wear a real, true dress.) My partner-in-crime turned his smile into a sneer when I opened a trod into the Seelie territory. I heard him take a breath. "Ready?"
"Ask yourself," I answered. "You need to know."
"If needed" – he flashed one of the daggers he always had – "I won't let them near you."
The combined scent of frost, earth, and metal hung heavy in the air. All three Courts had joined together in Summer not too long ago. Puck exchanged an excited glance with me. Elysium was a time for peace – but plenty of harmless pranks would be pulled. Robin Goodfellow and Harmony Nightshade would be included in those alleged festivities.
"Lord Pointy Ears," Puck murmured, his gaze fixed on Oberon. I took in the whole table: Oberon, Titania, Mab, Ash, Meghan, and Kierran. Puck and I slipped into the throng of fey unnoticed. "This should be fun."
I rolled my eyes. "Shh," I hissed, eyeing the courtyard.
A goblin looked our way, curiosity and hunger etched on its face. I returned his look with a death glare. Puck's green gaze shone with amusement and then pain when I elbowed him. Glamour radiated around all of the faeries. Energy spiked near the Royal Table, and I suddenly had a hard time keeping my attention off it.
Kierran is the most powerful faery ever.
Puck nudged me back to reality and nodded to a small table. Glittering golden orbs peered out of nothingness at us: Grimalkin. The rest of his body appeared. He flicked his tail to signal us.
"Harmony," he purred. "What bring you to Faery?" When I opened my mouth, he added, "Don't give me rubbish about Elysium." Then he snorted in cat laughter. "A young murderess at a peaceful gathering? It is barely Goodfellow's style, let alone yours."
I cringed inwardly. Just like I was keeping up with the Nevernever, all of Faery was keeping up with me. Grim flattened his ears abruptly and vanished. Puck stiffened, snaking his arm around me protectively. Neither of us was truly supposed to be here.
"Goodfellow, who have you corrupted now?"
Puck relaxed but kept his hold on me. Any other fey would have potentially dangerous. "Nice to see you, too, ice-boy." He turned to me.
Ash's silver eyes widened. "Harmony?"
"It's me," I confirmed with a small, tight smile. "By the way, Grim, I know you're still there." The gray tom reappeared with narrowed eyes.
"You are the most fatally dangerous being in history, yet you do not know who or what you really are."
I stared at the Summer courtyard in an attempt to ignore him. Kierran was watching his father and caught my eye; he cocked an eyebrow. Ash followed my gaze, his expression an unreadable mask. I could still sense the amusement coming off him in waves. Kierran looked away when I turned back to the three faeries waiting.
"I know where I belong, at least."
Grimalkin kinked his tail over his back. "Do you?"
"How do you know so much about me?" I snapped, my violent side raising its head.
Ash moved to my other side to help Puck restrain me if needed. Grimalkin didn't even blink. "Even you wouldn't break tradition," he remarked. "And to answer your rather rude question: I am a cat."
My mind worked rapidly to find a way to wrench away from them. Instinctively, I went limp, but they knew me better than to actually release me. The two of them tightened their grips. Briefly I wondered how no one could notice what was happening – until, in my haze of rage, I recalled this was Elysium. Chaos was everywhere.
Summoning my odd mix of glamour (which I did not know how I had come by), I broke away from Ash and Puck, unleashing the power forcefully.
Hell broke loose.