Saga: The Cat, the Curious and the Coin
Story: Chapter 5: Change of Plans
Genre: Supernatural/ Drama Rating: PG Characters: Ruby Brandon, Lord Oberon, Puck, Princess Crystal
All the characters appearing in Gargoyles and Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles are copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company. No infringement of these copyrights is intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. All original characters are the property of Denigoddess2001.
Previously, On Gargoyles...
I saw a tall, haughty being staring down at me. He towered over me, his thin, angular features were reminiscent of Puck's, but, much more menacing in their anger. He wore a flowing light gray cape that emphasized the width of his shoulders and the gold and red armor screamed warrior king at me. Pale blue eyes almost the same color as his sky blue skin flashed with anger and I knew I was in deep trouble.
"Oh, crap. I'm not in New York anymore, am I?
"Avalon welcomes you, Ruby Brandon," A deep voice boomed down at me. "Oberon welcomes you."
I stared up to see pale blue eyes looking down at me, his right hand extended to me. I noticed a large signet ring adorned his ring finger as he stood akimbo, waiting for my response. I had expected lightning bolts and fireballs fueled by rage and fury, but not this unusual greeting. I glanced over at Crystal who remained still in Puck's embrace, looking for any kind of hint of what came next, but her face was a mask of dread mixed with stoicism. I looked at them, giving a silent shrug, looking for any help they offered, but there was none.
Great, I had to wing it. I looked again at Lord Oberon, studying his features for any cue. I saw only boredom changing quickly to impatience. I didn't know what to do because nothing I had experienced had prepared me for that moment. I took his hand and he helped me to my feet.
"You have transgressed against our will," he began, his brows furrowed with disdain. "What have you to say on your behalf?"
I knew the legends of Oberon enough to know he was arrogant and amoral at best and ruthless at worst. I also thought he was a haughty tin-plated tyrant who needed knocked down a few pegs. I also knew he possessed the ability to wipe out my existence with a thought if he wanted it, so I decided to err on the side of caution. He was my ticket home. When all else fails, when one can't dazzle with brilliance, baffle with flattery.
"Lord Oberon," I bowed my head to hide my contempt. I modulated every word as though I were trying to calm a psychopath. "I thank you for your gracious welcome and your assistance. But, how have I transgressed against your will?"
"You have meddled in our affairs by defying our will," came the cold reply. "You have broken our edict by allowing Puck and Crystal their true forms when we thought it was appropriate that they learn humility and the price of breaking our laws."
"Sir," I was damned if I'd call that son-of-a-bacchae 'my lord.' "I've haven't done that at all."
His eyes widened at my defiance. Damn, I had to remember how to keep my mouth shut. "Oh, really? Then how do they stand before us as they do now?"
"Your curse is still in full-force, Lord Oberon," I said. "Your spell was weakened by iron, but not broken. Puck still wears the chain I charmed. Once it's removed, he goes back to being Owen."
"Hmm," Oberon scowled at me. "Puck, come forward."
I watched the other elf bounce and dance toward his master like a dog wanting to play with his favorite ball. "Take off the chain."
"At once, my lord," Puck implied by unwrapping the paper clips from his forearm. I expected fireworks and dancing flashes of light to circle him before he resumed his natural form. Instead, he remained Puck.
"He still remains as Puck," the underlying displeasure in Oberon's tone made me inwardly shudder.
"He also ate my omelet that I made in a cast iron skillet," I explained. "The magic in that omelet will keep your spell at bay as long as the food is in his system. Once he digests it and it's absorbed and out the other end, he's Owen again."
He nodded once, rubbing his chin in contemplation. "We shall continue this at the castle."
With one dismissive wave of his hand, the beach disappeared around me in a cloak of thick white mist. A gentle breeze blew it away, revealing the great throne room of Oberon's castle. There, on the dais, behind him were two great thrones with rather simple designs. One to the left was a simple highback chair upholstered in red velvet while the larger throne was covered in a soft saffron velvet. I watched him turn away from me, walking to the throne and taking his place. To the right was an ornate mirror with an angular, art deco frame.
He turned to the young woman still holding tightly onto Puck, his eyes narrowed. "And did this mortal witch also revert you to your natural form, Crystal?"
"No, Father. Puck did this for me," I watched the princess step from Puck's embrace to stand on the front steps of the dais, her blue eyes flashing with the same temper that I saw in Oberon's gaze. I knew there was no doubt that she was the Elvin king's daughter. "Ruby was only trying to find a way home because she doesn't have the ability to travel in time. She thought Puck might be able to help her, but we never had a chance to find out because you interfered."
"Silence!" Oberon bellowed. "Because you haven't learned humility or respect, daughter, I see that your original punishment was not sufficient to teach you these traits. A harsher one is in order to teach you humility and obedience."
I watched as Oberon's eyes lost their blue coloring to one of white-hot flame. I knew whatever he had in mind was far worse that Crystal being trapped in the form of a cat. I knew I couldn't stand by and do nothing to the person who had been my friend and confidant for three years, so I did only what I knew to do.
"Belle, Pearl, Opal and Coral,
Hiram, Oscar, Amadeus and Henry.
I call upon the blood of my ancestry,
bringing forth my family tree.
Oberon seeks vengeance in compassion's stead
I call upon the blood of my blood,
of those who are long dead.
Let not this cruelty be allowed to ensue.
Imbue with power to not let it continue."
I felt the power of eight generations coursing through my veins as I planted my hands upon the cold marble floor. Eight Wise Women and Men, some centuries dead, heard my call and came to my aid in that moment. There are several rules of magic which are universal. One: energy is energy no matter in what form it appears. Two: Oberon and all of his children are vulnerable to iron. Three: the power of an ancestral bloodline as old as mine is a powerful cache of magic. The power of eight dead witches against one elf is almost an even match. Oberon still outgunned me, but I couldn't let him do more harm to the one person who had seen me out of Hell and back to life.
"That will be enough, Lord Oberon," I said, taking position between him and his daughter. I saw eight hovering specters, four on each side of me, ready to enter combat if I asked it. I would lose my life because my power and mortality were no match for Oberon; it was a lost battle before it had even begun. However, I banked on the hope of spectacle and grandeur to be enough to make him take pause, if only to listen to reason. I didn't know how else to get his attention other than draw upon the most powerful magic I had: a family's love for each other.
"I am Lord Oberon," he said, pounding his fist on the arm of the throne. "I determine what is right and wrong. You have no power here."
"Your daughter owes me a life debt," grabbing at the first thing that came to my mind. All eyes in the throne room turned toward me in shock. Even I wondered, where the hell did that come from? I was winging it, calling up every Lord of the Rings movie, Charmed episode and any other fantasy movie that might have something I could glean from it. "I found her weak and bleeding after giving birth to a litter of kittens at a cat mill. Was it your intent to have your daughter's body used and exploited like that?"
"I do not have to answer to you-" Oberon roared.
"Did you mean to hurt your daughter that way? To have her raped so that some breeder could make a profit from her pain? Is that how you tried to teach her humility?"
"No, of course not!" Oberon stood up, glowering at me. "I'd never do such a thing as cruel-"
"But, you did!" I took a step forward. "You made your daughter vulnerable without her magic, trapped in a form where she couldn't defend herself against predators and you complain about her not having humility. What kind of cruel son-of-a-bacchae are you? I thought you loved all of your children."
"Who are you to judge?" Oberon pointed a finger at me. "How dare you?"
"I dare because I a mother who lost her son and even magic won't bring him back," I looked at him with pain bleeding from every pore in my skin at the memory. "She kept me alive with her love and affection when I went through living hell of losing him. He was only six years old and some jerk who was too drunk to know better stole him from me one night."
"Anger clouds our judgment," Oberon sighed, as if bored of the whole affair. " We grow weary of this. Begone, mortal."
"I can't go anywhere," I reminded him. "You brought me here, remember?"
"So, we did and from this place we will send you," I watched his hand ball into a fist. "Into oblivion."
"Father, no!" Crystal stepped in front of me, shielding me with her body. "Please! This has gone far enough. She only wanted to find a way home and found a way to weaken your spell for a short time. I beg you, Father, to show her mercy."
"I do," Crystal rushed forward, falling to her knees on the dais before the looming figure of Lord Oberon. "She has loved me as no one has save for Puck and I plead with you to spare her life."
"There was a time, daughter, that you wouldn't have thought of anyone's needs save your own," I saw a smile tug at elf king's features. She buried her hands in her face as she knelt as his feet. He looked over her shoulder at me with a gleaming smile and a wink. I looked a Puck who looked at bewildered as felt. He gave me a helpless shrug that told me he knew no more what that smile and wink meant than I did. "Now, I see you willing to put yourself in harm's way for a mere mortal and this tells me you have learned much."
Crystal's eyes brimmed with tears as she looked at her father. "Please, don't hurt her."
"You have given me much to consider, Crystal, and I will take this plea into account before I pass judgment."
He was going to pass judgment? I felt eight silvery specters move in closer to surround me in a protective circle, ready to unleash magic against magic to protect their only living relative. What had I done that was so horrible other than getting involved in something that wasn't even my doing?
"Ruby Brandon, you have done what I have failed to do. You have taught my daughter to love someone other than herself. While I disapprove of her antics, for her to defy my will to protect one not of her kind and to call you friend is a great step forward indeed. For your cleverness in circumventing the dictates of my enchantment upon Puck, you knew not of the circumstances and were ignorant. That, I can also forgive."
"Father, thank you!" Crystal rose, unexpectedly hugging her father which caught him off guard. His blue eyes widened, but I saw his arms slowly encircle his daughter's form.
"As for you, Puck, you are still eternally banished from Avalon, but if you prove yourself worthy, I may, one day, release you from the enchantment placed upon you."
"As you command, my lord," Puck bowed deeply in gratitude.
"As for you, young lady," Puck looked sternly down at his daughter. "You will remain on Avalon indefinitely for as long as it takes you to learn obedience and deference to your elders."
"Father, I have one thing to ask," Crystal looked into her father's eyes. "We didn't expect all of this to happen and she was caught up in the wake through no fault of her own. Would you please send her back to her own time? Truly, she has brought you and I back together. She has already been through so much and the shop is all she has left of her family as you can see," she motioned toward the eight specters hovering over me. "Please?"
"That we will not do," he said. I looked at Puck and he at me and then we looked at Crystal. "She brought her power against me and must stand accountable for that. Ruby Brandon, from what year do you come?"
"2014," I wasn't going home. I hated Oberon in that moment, but I had little recourse other than to blow myself to kingdom come if I tapped into the powers of my ancestors just to blow him through a castle wall.
"Crystal, what year is it in the mortal world?"
"Sixteen years, hmm." Oberon returned to his throne, resting his chin in one hand as if thinking a great plan. "One hour here is a full day in the mortal realm. We do not think it wise to return you to your time so quickly, Ruby Brandon. Instead, we offer you a place here for the eight months and three weeks of our time you need abide until time catches up with itself. Then, you may leave Avalon to return to the outside world at the time which you left it."
"Lord Oberon," I moved past the protective spirits of my family to stand before him. "I don't want to be any more trouble to you or your family. I only want to go home. The store is all I have left and if left too long, I'll lose it."
"If I send you forward in time, it will change things in ways that even we cannot control. You will stay here as our guest for the time stated, then you will be allowed to return home." Oberon turned to his daughter. "The mortal will be your companion and maid. She will also report to me any transgressions you commit in your time here. However, you may take her to the mortal realm from time to time to allow her contact with her family."
"Sir, my family is all dead."
"In 2014, but what of 1998?" Oberon asked. "Is your mother deceased?"
"No," how did he know about my mother? I looked to Crystal and saw her staring at Oberon. Damned telepathic powers she possessed. I had a feeling that she'd just given him my entire life in twenty seconds or less.
"And your son, Ms. Brandon? You said he died at the hands of what my daughter calls a drunk driver?"
"Yes. . ." I wondered what Oberon was thinking at that moment.
"Many believe time is immutable, but I know otherwise. Take this invitation in the spirit which it is meant. I have lost time with my daughter that I cannot regain. Perhaps, taking this time with us on Avalon will allow you the opportunity to regain that which you have lost."
"Ruby, take the offer," Puck flitted about me like a spastic butterfly. "It's a good one and he isn't generous often. Usually ol' blue eyes has has something crawling up his-"
"Puck! Enough." those two words from his master shut up the elf in two seconds. "So speaks Oberon."
I knew I didn't have much of a choice, but he offered me an opportunity that I couldn't pass up: the chance to save my mother and my son. It took me only one second to make up my mind. "Yes, Lord Oberon, I would honored to accept your generous offer."
"Then we welcome to Avalon," he nodded with satisfaction. "And daughter?"
"Help her in the ways of magic, he talent is woefully underdeveloped. It's pathetic. She is a curiosity and we wish to be kept abreast of her progress"
"I grow weary of this," he gave a wave of his hand. "Leave us. Puck, leave now."
"Yes, my lord," he gave a soulful glance at Crystal. "I love you."
"I love you. We'll be together soon," she promised.
And there I stood on the shores of Avalon with only the clothes on my back and my best friend to guide me. My heart turned to concrete at the fact that I wasn't going home, at least, not yet. I thanked my ancestors for coming to my aid and gave them their leave. Puck vanished, but his longing to be with his one true love left a heavy, tangible ambiance in the air that day.
After that, life took on a new routine in ways I never anticipated, but that's another story for another time. At that point in time, I was Ruby Brandon, handmaiden to Princess Crystal of Avalon.
The end of this tale but not of what was still to come...