The final installment…
Disclaimer: I want to point out that all the Gabanna Tree and Silvermoor stuff is not a product of my imagination. While Silvermoor, Zorthanc, and Anamare aren't prominently featured in the Fablehaven series, the Fablehaven wiki page has a plethora of information on each of these places. I drew inspiration from both the original series, and what I found on the wiki page. Brandon Mull is the mastermind here, not me.
Kendra woke with a start. She'd dozed again. Her bleary eyes searched for the clock.
She leaned back against the couch with a weary sigh.
Bracken sat next to her, clutching her hand with his left, and a long, barreled gun with his right.
"I don't know how you can sleep through this," he muttered.
The cacophony of Midsummer's eve could be heard all around them. The noise shook the house. Kendra hated the solstices. They were the worst part about being a caretaker at Fablehaven.
Kendra rubbed a hand over her protruding stomach.
"Being pregnant makes me so tired. I would sleep all the time if I could." She looked at him in concern. "The kids?"
Bracken shook his head with a weak smile. "I haven't heard anything from the attic since sundown."
Kendra was relieved, but not surprised. Their three-year old daughter Lena was remarkably obedient and complacent. Ruthie, their five-year old, was slightly less so, but Kendra and Bracken had given her a heavy dose of sleeping medicine.
"Why don't we turn on some music?" Bracken suggested. Kendra nodded distractedly. She was thinking about the clean-up for tomorrow, going over the checklist of extra-chores to be done.
Her husband walked over the vintage radio, and fiddled with the stations. After several minutes he was able to pick up a station.
The room filled with sweet, slow music. Kendra's hand froze over her unborn child.
Are you pretending?
Don't say it's the ending
I wish I could have one more change to prove, dear
My life a hell you're making
"Bracken," she found her voice. Goose-bumps had risen up the bare skin of her arms. "Please, Bracken, turn it off."
Bracken frowned. "Kendra? What's wrong?"
Kendra shook her head. "Please," she whispered.
Her loving husband's frown deepened.
Sometimes his wife's behavior was strange to him. There were things Kendra wouldn't share with him. He wished she would. Kendra knew how much he wished she would. But there were parts of her time as a captive in the forbidden dragon sanctuary, the dragon prison of the Father of All Hatchlings, she couldn't bring herself to recount.
Kendra loved her family. She loved her husband. She had to protect them from the memories of those forbidden dances, of unparalleled pain, and of the madness of the loss she felt on a daily basis.
She had hoped the effects of the words of Creation would wear off. The first few days it had been so easy to hope that the pain would subdue, that she could eventually appreciate her life, the life she'd always wanted, in full. She had initially believed the disappearance of the words of Chaos went beyond skin deep, that she herself had been restored.
This was not the case. The words of Creation had restored her body, and unified her being. What they had not done was erase her memories, nor the feelings that were associated with those memories.
Understanding oneself in a true capacity is a tremendous burden to live with. The Fairy Queen had not lied when she said that it would be Kendra's greatest challenge. Only, Kendra had thought time would make living with such an understanding easier.
Bracken was not unwise to Kendra's struggle. He saw it on her face in the mornings when she awoke from one of her frequent nightmares.
She was so brave, his virtuous maiden. She refused to impart on him even a gram of the weight she carried. He guessed more than she knew about what haunted her dreams. But he respected his wife's privacy of mind.
He bent down to press the off-button on the radio.
A scream rent the air.
In a flash, Bracken and Kendra were on their feet. They raced to the attic stair.
"Ruthie! Lena!" Kendra screamed.
The attic door burst open, a wave of liquid night surged forth. Kendra had just enough time to cover her face in terror before the inky black wave took them.
Life's dreary for me
Day's seem to be long as years
I've looked for the sun
But can see none
Through my tears
The night was heavy with the sounds of uproar. Cackles, high-pitched squeals, and rumbles carried on the winds. Discordance and pandemonium raged on across the isles. They always made sure it rained on their night, so the light of the trees would be dimmed, weakening the power of the reigning authority.
Rain battered the leafy roof. A thick cloudbank denied the rays of the moon access to the lands below. Winds rattled the leaves, creating the illusion of listening to a giant snake's rattle.
The mountainous tree withstood the tumult outside. Vast oaken branches entwined with smaller vine-like branches to form the four walls of the one-roomed cubical home.
"This part of Silvermoor is never quiet." Gavin had gotten into the habit over the years of giving voice to his thoughts. His words hung the air.
"Nowhere is ever quiet on Midsummer Eve." A stocky young man Gavin knew to be Tan Lure entered through the one doorway they had. He joined Gavin at the table, leaning into the flickering light of the three candles that provided the only light in the room.
Gavin studied the dripping wet behemoth across from him, delaying in his reply.
Tan Lure was dim-witted brute, with bright, brown, pupil-less eyes, a fur covered face, and claw-like hands. On the whole, he resembled a sloth, and was much like one in his manner. He was an Anamorph – the Anamorph who Gavin and Mal roomed with. The Gabanna Tree that housed Gavin and Mal was bonded with Tan.
The Fairy Queen had secured Tan Lure's home for Gavin's re-imprisonment. Tan Lure was picked not only for his isolated location on the preserve, but also for his anti-social personality. His disinterest was meant to keep him impartial to his "roommates", but Gavin found the slow man's indifference worked to his advantage.
Tan Lure didn't talk about himself, where he went during the day, or what his life had been like before Gavin and Mal had been brought to live with him. Though Tan Lure was Gavin and Mal's guardian, but he never did seemed to take much interest in their activities. He didn't seem to care if they why they were there, or if they were there at all. If Gavin hadn't wanted to stay, he could have easily escaped, even with the invisible aerial boundary that was to keep him restricted. But Gavin was satisfied with his accommodations.
His gaze roved over the room. It wasn't an expansive layout, but it was large enough for the three of them to live comfortably. Towers of books rose up from the floor, stacked precariously around in random areas around the floor. Other than the books, there was very little else to occupy space in the room. Sleeping mats, a low lying table, on which they took their meals, and a set of plush, discolored pillows that they used for seating, represented the whole of their furniture.
They lived simply. For the most part.
Everything belonged to Tan Lure, except for the books. Gavin had visitors from time to time, heroes and villains alike, who came to him for advice. They always knew to bring him a book for payment (despite the Fairy Queen's efforts to keep his location a secret, many found him, albeit that they were all unaware of his true identity). Sometimes he helped them, sometimes he misled them. It all depended on how he was feeling that particular day. They thought if they brought him many books, or special books he would be more inclined to help them, but really it didn't matter to him. Gavin took pleasure in once again projected an air of enigma.
Tan Lure never spoke to Gavin about his visitors. If ever he was at home when the visitors came, he deliberately ignored them. Thus the albino dwarf, the emotionless Anamorph, and the perplexing dragon coexisted in peace.
"That's true, but I was actually referring to Mal's infernal noise." Both Tan and Gavin turned to look at the unconscious dwarf on the floor.
Mal lay in a corner sleeping on grass mat. He snored loudly in his sleep. The dwarf could sleep through anything, but nothing could sleep through his ruckus. Every night, Tan Lure and Gavin stuffed cotton in their ears before heading to bed.
"Mal sleeps loudly," Tan Lure agreed. He glanced back at the door, and then back toward Mal. "I think I will go to bed, too."
Gavin's eyes narrowed suspiciously as the giant lumbered off to his mat. Tan Lure rarely announced his intentions to do anything. There was only one reason Tan Lure would go tell Gavin he was going to bed on a Midsummer Eve.
Visitors, Gavin smiled to himself. Standing slowly, he turned an expectant look toward the door. Who would it be this time, he wondered. An adventurer? Someone trying to escape ensnarement from the melee below? His favorites were the desperate ones. They were the most fun.
Gavin drew up the hood of the brown cloak he was wearing. He liked to appear mysterious.
A tall young man came suddenly to the threshold. His shoulders were set, proud and purposeful.
Definitely a hero.
"Come in," Gavin said hoarsely, stooping his shoulders with the intention of making his age more indefinite.
"Don't mind if I do," the young man said, striding confidently across the floor to the table. Another figure – a boy, younger, smaller, and more timid - followed him in. Both boys looked around them in wonder. Mal and Tan were yet concealed from their view.
Gavin looked up from beneath his hood to see the features of the strangers. The younger one caught his eye first.
His eyes were almond shaped, a bright burgundy color. His hair was reddish-orange, wavy and frizzy. Two fuzzy ears poked out from under the mess. Fine white fur covered the boy's face like a veil. His long striped tail flicked to and fro on the floor.
Gavin was puzzled. Those of the Anamare kingdom avoided Gavin (excluding Tan Lure, of course), primarily because of warnings issued by the Anamorph caretaker of Silvermoor. Anamorphs were extremely loyal creatures, spirited and renowned fighters, but lackluster in the department of original thought.
Gavin looked up at the taller stranger, the clear leader. He froze.
Those bright brown eyes, the mop of chestnut hair, the air of challenge that surrounded him, that was undisguised in his every movement. Even behind the unshaven scruff, the wan expression, the creases of worldliness, he knew instantly with whom he was dealing.
A slow chuckle bubbled up his throat. Soon he was laughing hysterically.
The young's man eyes narrowed. His hand, which had been sitting lightly on his waist, moved down his thigh.
"Going for your adamant blade, Seth Sorenson?" Gavin asked still in his hoarse voice, bemused.
Seth's expression changed from suspicious to disbelieving.
"How does he know your name?" the Anamorph whispered up to Seth. "Do you know him? You don't look as though you recognize him. I guess that means he's psychic. I didn't know that. None ever spoke of him being psychic." The Anamorph boy spoke very quickly in excitement.
Seth scrutinized Gavin. Gavin knew he couldn't see his face, as it was covered by the shadows.
"There are only a handful of people who know about my knife."
Gavin offered nothing.
To Gavin's surprise, Seth shook off his curiosity. "I suppose you have your ways of knowing. I don't care how much you know about me. It won't stop me from getting the information I need from you."
Gavin snorted. "You're still the same recklessly determined boy. I can't believe that fool-hardiness hasn't gotten you killed yet."
"We've had more than a few close calls," muttered the Anamorph boy.
Seth turned to his companion in frustration. "I told you I knew what I was doing back there! If you and Mo had just listened to me everything would have been fine!"
So there is another one lurking around somewhere. The muscle of this outfit perhaps? Waiting to come in only if I needed to be handled. Gavin laughed silently at the idea.
The Anamorph boy cringed under the reprimand. He looked at his feet, downcast.
Seth immediately looked sorry. "Lohit, I - " He was interrupted by a unexpected loud cry.
Mal had awakened. Gavin supposed he had heard the visitors, and upon seeing Seth was overcome with happiness. The albino dwarf had run over to Seth, embraced him, and was weeping as he clutched him.
Seth had blanched significantly. "T… C…" he spluttered. "But, how –" The lines drew close around his mouth. His gaze landed with resignation on the hooded figure who set before him.
Gavin smiled as he drew back his hood. "Hello, Seth. You don't look so happy to see me. I wonder why not? I would think you would have been bursting with gratitude for your sister's savior." Gavin's tone was sardonically cheerful.
"I am never eating another scone in my life!" Seth swore vehemently.
Gavin paused. He wasn't sure how to respond to that.
"Whoa, wait a minute." The Anamorph boy held up his hands. "So, you do know him? How? How does he know your sister? Did you guys used to be friends? Who's the dwarf? Why is he crying?"
"You didn't save my sister," Seth replied to Gavin grimly, ignoring the inquiries of his friend for the time being. "The Fairy Queen saved my sister."
Gavin's expression hardened. He stood to his full height, eye-to-eye with Seth.
"Your precious Fairy Queen could not have done what she did without my permission," he hissed, leaning in. He paused to let Seth process this.
Cocking his head to the side, he pulled back. "Did you know that Seth? No, I can see not. By the way, how is Kendra?"
Seth glowered at Gavin.
"Los Malditos hija." Mal had stopped crying. He detached himself from Seth, and looked expectantly past him to the empty doorway.
Seth caught the dwarf's eye and shook his head solemnly. Mal sighed, and plopped down on the floor. He laid his head against the table and didn't say anything else.
Gavin hadn't realized how much the dwarf had missed Kendra. He was suddenly vexed with Seth.
"My sister is at home," Seth told Gavin coolly. "With her family."
Gavin didn't miss the unstated implication. Seth could have said 'with our family or 'with the family' if he was reffering to the Sorensons.
"With her husband, and children, you mean? I don't doubt she married that ridiculous unicorn," Gavin's nostrils flared. "The astrids told me of their precious prince, and his love for his mother's handmaiden. Bracken and I have never crossed paths, but I have heard of him. He was the one who gave his horn for the Zzyzx. I guess it was a white wedding then. Pity, that."
Seth didn't answer him. He knew he was being baited. Gavin could feel the desire to strike him, to hurt him, to kill him radiating off of Seth.
Instead of acting as he wanted to though, he turned to his confused accomplice. Gavin was mildly impressed by the mark of maturity. A younger, more brazen Seth would never have shown such control.
"We're leaving, Lohit. He won't help us," Seth said to the Anamorph.
"But Seth, we need him!" the boy protested. "How else will we find-"
"Enough," Seth cut him off sharply. Then he sighed. "This guy is bad news. He's a monster - worse than the boogeyman." Gavin watched Seth hold up his hand to stop an anticipated comment or question from the boy.
"Even for that, though," Seth shook his head, "I would have asked for his help. But he's also a traitor. We can't trust anything he tells us. Let's go."
Gavin watched them wordlessly as they began to walk to the door.
A shadowy apparition with a sopping, cloak appeared in the doorway.
The muscle? Gavin wondered. The figure looked to lean to be intimidating. A magic user then, he quickly deduced.
"We," a rich feminine voice spoke up. "Did not traverse all this way to not learn what we need to know. Seth, I don't care what this man had to do with your past. The peril is too grave for us to turn back now."
The figure took one step into the room. The voice softened, though it was still strained. "This is our only option."
She's young too, Gavin thought with interest. Where had Seth picked up such unusual friends in Silvermoor?
"He can't be trusted," Seth replied stiffly. "You understand that." There was a slight plea in his tone.
"I understand our situation."
Seth wasn't budging. "I won't deal with him."
Lightning cracked in the sky briefly illuminating the entire room.
Gavin got one good look at her. That was all he needed to recognize her.
Incredulity bubbled up again sending him into another fit of laughter. Doubling over, Gavin backed himself down to his seat.
"See! He's as mad as a… as a hatter!" Seth pointed indignantly.
"How is a hatter mad?" the Anamorph boy wondered aloud.
"It's an expression," Seth said exasperatedly.
"Oh, Seth." Gavin wiped a tear from his eye, his laughter ceasing. "What have you gotten yourself into now?"
"Will you help us?" the girl asked him seriously. She didn't know him, but he knew her. Or rather, he knew of her. She was a liability, that one. Gavin doubted Seth knew how dangerous the girl truly was.
Her question drifted unanswered till it became stale in the air.
The room became silent as all three turned to stare at him.
Gavin grinned broadly. "I don't know. I think I've had enough of dealing with Sorensons for the rest of my life. Every time I get involved with you people something terrible happens," he said with a mocking clip in his tone.
"So, that's a no?" The Anamorph boy looked so crestfallen that Gavin had to laugh again.
"Did you bring me payment?" he asked Seth.
Seth begrudgingly pulled a tattered book from a side-pack of his. He handed it to Gavin without looking at him.
Gavin happily took the book and read the title. It was a very old spell book.
"This isn't enough," Gavin said lying the book on the table.
"That's one of the most powerful spell books in the world!" the girl said angrily. She remained concealed in the shadows.
Gavin scoffed. "You think I don't know that? I also know it's the only copy. And I'll tell you what else I know," he paused for effect.
"I know that you would not have come to me unless the world was on the verge of disaster. I can tell there is some doom upon you. I see it in your eyes. Fear." His dark eyes glimmered in the candlelight. "But not of me. You desperately fear what awaits you."
Their silence confirmed his conjectures. The Anamorph boy shivered, as if involuntarily.
He would hear them out, he decided. He would tell them a little of what they wanted to hear, a bit of what they needed to hear, sparing only the key details that would make the successful. If only because the chance to be back in the game was too irresistible.
"What more do you want?" Seth met Gavin's leveled gaze. His fists were balled tightly at his sides. His hatred seethed out of him. Gavin was delighted by it.
"I want a picture book, Seth," he lowered his voice. "Families keep photo albums, don't they? It's a tradition. Well Seth, I want Kendra's family photo album."
That was the feather that tipped Seth's balance. Seth made to charge at Gavin but was suddenly, awkwardly frozen in place.
"Mo!" he yelled, infuriated.
The female ignored him. "You will take us on credit?" she asked Gavin.
Gavin nodded. He gestured for her to sit at the table. She deliberately leaned against the wall, crossing her arms. Gavin shrugged. He then looked at the Anamorph boy and quirked up a brow.
The boy cautiously shuffled over to the table and sat next to Mal. He pointed at the albino dwarf and whispered, "Is he okay?"
Gavin chuckled. "I think your fearless leader may have broken him."
"Now," Gavin looked between his other two visitors.
There was a great deal of tension between them, a power struggle. Borne from affection, unrealized or suspected unrequited, Gavin didn't doubt.
Oh, the desperate ones. He sighed happily. This was going to be so much fun.
"Tell me the story."
Well, I told you all at the beginning that I was flying by the seat of my pants.
Still, I hope you've enjoyed yourselves as much as I have. I'm going to take a break for a small while, but - never fear - Seth's adventure is (as you can tell) already in the works.
Thanks for reading, reviewing, following, and favoriting. And a special thank-you to iMelinda, who helped me perfect these last few chapters.
*Tearfully waves at computer screen*
Ta, ta for now!
UPDATE: THE COMPANION FIC FOR THIS, THE JOKER, HAS BEEN POSTED. WHILE THE JOKER IS NOT NECESSARILY A SEQUEL, THE LOOSE ENDS FROM THE EVENING STAR'S FINAL REVOLUTION WILL BE TIED UP IN SETH'S STORY.