I’d been anxiously awaiting Vance’s release from the hospital for days. I found myself warming towards Leo again for helping me with him. We never talked about it, but I could tell he was keeping his distance from me out of respect. We were relating to one another in a strictly professional manner. His apology was unspoken but obvious all the same.
He filled me in on the case while Vance was in the hospital. Apparently, Leo subdued the demon at the scene after it attacked Vance. They brought the guy into custody and tested his DNA. He was not a match so they let him go with a minor assault charge, since Vance technically provoked him by attempting to cast a spell on him. They rechecked the demon registration database and found nothing new. The next closest Stryker demon lived somewhere in the Midwest. They were basically back to square one with no suspect and no motive.
Vance had been released from the hospital, but I was working when he called. My regular day off was Monday, the next day, so we agreed to meet at my apartment. He said it was important that we had no other obligations when we had our conversation. I was terrified, yet excited about seeing him. I was going to lay all my cards out on the table, essentially trusting him with my life. There was going to be no turning back after that day.
He had to check in with work so he told me he’d be at my place around noon. I took a shower and selected one of my newest matching bra and panty sets. I was not planning on getting pelvic with the guy or anything, but sometimes a girl just needs sexy lingerie under her clothes to feel empowered. I threw on a white, sleeveless, cotton wrap shirt with twill shorts because I wanted to show off my darkened tan. I spent a little extra time on my hair and makeup. I wanted to look good, but not overly obvious. Shortly after noon, I heard the buzzer. With one last glance in the mirror, I pressed the intercom button.
“Hello, who is it?” I asked.
“Hi, Karli. It’s me…Vance.”
“Hi. Come on up,” I said as I buzzed him in.
I opened my door and could hear his footsteps in the stairwell. Was he jogging? He slowed down his pace when he reached the top and saw me peeking down the hall.
With a slightly embarrassed smile, he said, “Hi.” He grabbed both of my hands with his own.
“Hi. Please, come in.” I pressed my lips against his cheek and stepped aside to let him in. “Can I get you something to drink?”
“Sure. Anything would be fine.”
I went to my fridge and grabbed two Coronas. I popped the lids and handed one to him. Feeling a little nervous, I took a large swig of my own.
“How was work?” I asked. “You look like you’re healing pretty fast.”
“It’s one of the many advantages of being a warlock. There’s nothing like a little healing spell to speed up the recovery.” He gave me a cocky smile. “Work was fine. I just wanted to get a few things out of the way before I came over. We’re still stuck in the same place. We don’t have any more leads to run on. My team is interviewing some of Leslie’s and Jordyn’s friends again see if they can find the connection between the two women.”
“So, you don’t think this was an attack on Leo?”
“No. Not at all. As you know, Leo went with me to see the only suspect we had. He’s never met the guy before. Upon looking into his background, we couldn’t find any connection either. The attacks could be random but my gut is telling me they’re not. I’m trying to figure out how they were connected, besides being co-workers. So far, I have nothing.”
“If I think of anything I’ll let you know,” I said.
“Thanks, I appreciate that.” He set his beer on the breakfast bar and moved closer. “Look, Karli, you know I didn’t come here to discuss the case. Would you like to sit down?”
“Uh, sure.” He led me by the hand over to the couch. I took another sip of beer before setting it down on the coffee table.
“Okay, where should I start?” he said. “How about the obvious? I know that you are a fairy, Karli, at least partially anyway. I saw you conjure dust not once, but twice. There’s only one way you would be able to do that. I’m guessing because of your age, your magicks are getting stronger and you acted on instinct when you did it.” You could say that again.
“Well, there’s obviously no point in trying to deny it anymore,” I said defensively. “So, now what happens?”
“Karli, please don’t be upset. I’m not here to expose you. I just want to talk.” Sighing, he continued, “Look, maybe we’re getting off on the wrong foot. I think you might feel a little better if I showed you something first.”
“What could you possibly show me that would make me feel better about this?” I asked.
“Watch,” he said. He sat up a little and closed his eyes. He closed his hand for a moment then lifted it over the coffee table, sprinkling something iridescent over the surface. Is that what I think it is? I looked down and saw a tiny figure sitting on the table where the dust used to be.
Gasping, I picked it up for closer inspection. It was a miniature crystal fairy! “How did you---”
“As you know, I am a warlock,” he said. “But that’s not the whole story. My father was a pure-blooded warlock. My mother was a halfling…a fairy-witch halfling, to be more specific. Her blood makes me one quarter fairy. I do not openly admit my Fae heritage or practice their magic because of the danger involved, just like you.”
“But your ears aren’t pointed!” I squealed in shock.
“An elder once told me it’s because my blood was so diluted,” he explained. “The physical characteristics that mark someone as fairy only appear on halflings or pure bloods. Your ears are rounded as well. What about your parents?”
“My parents died when I was four. They were both pure-blooded, like me,” I whispered.
He shook his head. “I don’t understand. Your ears---”
With tears falling down my face, I explained how Irina took me in after my parents’ death and raised me as one of her own. I told him how she had magically altered my ears and taught me basic spells and potions to help conceal my identity. I also told him about the grandmother that I’d never met who still lived in Faerie, and Irina’s unsuccessful attempt to contact her.
“Wow, that’s rough,” he said.
“Yeah, well you get used to it, I guess. You want to know the worst part about all of it though? I hardly know anything about my people or the magicks they possess. I’m supposed to have some of the most powerful magic around, yet I have no idea how to channel it. I can only conjure basic things. I’ve never even met another fairy besides my parents.”
“Karli, I could probably answer any questions you may have. I lived on Faerie for ten years, studying under a very powerful elder. She taught me how to harness all of my powers.” Oh my God, is he for real?
“What is Faerie like?” I asked. “Irina had some stories from my parents, but nothing really substantial.”
“It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen,” he said. “They live in enchanted villages surrounded by woods. Their homes are modest, because they don’t see the need for extravagance. They are prideful people and they have a love for one another that is unsurpassed. It’s amazing, Karli. They are a community in its truest form. The village really does raise the child in their world. Their magic is the most powerful in existence yet they do not allow that power to taint their hearts or their minds. There is no greed, corruption, or any ill will towards others. They exist purely to care for their land, their people, and to protect their magicks from getting into the wrong hands.”
“Why is our blood so intoxicating to vampires?” I asked.
“What do you know about vampires?” he countered.
“Only the basics, I guess,” I replied. “They drink blood, can’t go in the sun, and then some bits that Leo gave me.”
“Did he explain the origin of the vampire?” he asked.
“It’s possible he doesn’t truly know. There are a lot of different versions that have been passed around throughout the years. I only know the true history because it was taught to me by my mentor.”
“So what’s the real story?” I asked.
“The first vampires were created thousands of years ago,” he said. “An Egyptian Moon God named Khonsu was revered as a healing god because he carried regenerative powers. Khonsu had a dark side though, which made him one of the more violent and dangerous gods. He eventually became a bloodthirsty cannibal which earned him exile from the heavens. His punishment was to be sent to Earth to live forever as an immortal, but without his powers. Because he was a god of the moon, he was never able to tolerate the sun’s harsh rays for very long. Stranded in this realm, he was forced to hide in caves or underground during daylight hours.”
“Wow, that would suck,” I said.
“Well, he didn’t have to deal with it very long…without his powers, at least.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Khonsu came upon a small fairy village one night. He saw the magic they possessed and wanted it for his own. He stalked their village until he was able to catch a maiden unaware while she was taking a stroll through the forest. She fought him off with her magicks, doing incredible damage to his body. He lost a large amount of blood but he remained alive.
“The maiden was young and naive. Curious about her attacker, she inched closer, thinking he was so wounded he would be unable to cause her any further harm. When she was standing right above him, he launched his body at her and attacked. He knew the source of her power was in the dust she could conjure with her hands. He must have learned that from his time spent observing their village. He bound her hands behind her back, leaving her powerless, and bit down into her neck, drinking her blood until her heart beat no more.”
“Oh my God.” I took a deep breath. “Then what happened?”
“His body underwent a massive cellular change once their blood mixed. The magic within her was so potent that it began repairing his wounds instantaneously. His powers were restored to their former glory and then some. His heart beat stronger than ever as his strength returned tenfold. He inherited some of the Fae’s psychic abilities and heightened senses.
“Before too long though, he noticed that his strength was fading. He knew that the fairy blood was the source of his power so he went back to the village one night. He kidnapped a maiden from her bed and dragged her into the forest. He drank her blood until he felt his powers return. She was barely alive after his attack so he decided to use his abilities to help her. He wanted to prolong her life, since her blood was his own life source. He willed her body to heal but his powers had no effect. Feeling desperate, he fed her some of his own blood from his wrist. He figured that if their combined blood could restore his body, then it should be able to heal hers.”
“Let me guess,” I said. “It worked.”
He nodded. “Yeah, it worked. She was instantly immortal and much stronger than before. With the added power though, came the added weaknesses. She lost her ability to conjure fairy dust, she could no longer go in the sun without harm, and she needed a constant supply of blood to survive. The laws of nature say we must always have balance. This was just another example of that. The Gods do not allow any one individual to possess enough abilities to threaten their existence.”
“Leo said almost that exact same thing…about the laws of nature.”
“It’s a ruling principle among immortals,” he said. “You’ll understand that within time.”
“He said that too.”
He looked annoyed. “Karli, do you want to talk about Leo, or do you want to hear the rest of the story?”
“Sorry,” I replied. “Go on.”
“Well, the remaining villagers panicked when their maidens went missing and they returned to Faerie for the next thousand years. With no one nearby left to convert, Khonsu and his mate fed off each other for sustenance. Over time they evolved and grew fangs. As they grew tired of one another, they traveled long distances and began experimenting with other beings. They learned that they could survive on any type of blood, but humans were the only other ones they could convert. Their blood line became more and more diluted as one vampire sired another, losing the Fae essence almost entirely.”
“So, if I understand you correctly, vampires come from fairies?”
“A Fae and a God, to be exact,” he replied.
“So then why is our blood like crack to them? I don’t get it,” I said.
“Because the Fae are ultimately responsible for their existence. A primal need takes over upon a vampire’s first taste of fairy blood. Their bodies sense the power that it holds; it fills a void from within that they never knew existed. The blood of a God would probably have the same effect, but there are no records of any others who have fallen to test that theory.”
“But why the bloodlust?” I asked.
“Because they become instantly addicted to the taste, and drunk off the adrenaline,” he replied. “That’s when they begin to lose control. Once a vampire spirals into bloodlust they cannot stop until the fairy is drained completely.”
“So…I’m guessing that meant fairies stayed as far away from them as possible?” I asked.
He grimaced. “No, they didn’t. It was quite the opposite. Fairies and vampires were inexplicably drawn to each other. It was like they couldn’t help gravitating towards one another. Over the last hundred years before Faerie was sealed, the vampires reduced their population down to a third of what it once was. The elders had no choice but to seal off all access from this realm shortly after you were born.”
Well, it was good to know that I wasn’t the only one who defied logic on such an epic level. Thinking about Leo having tasted my blood, I asked, “But what if they don’t go into a downward spiral? Then the vampire wouldn’t be a threat, right?”
“That’s never happened before. It’s impossible for a vampire to resist the pull of the fairy’s blood.”
“Um, it’s not entirely impossible,” I admitted sheepishly.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
Looking away, I whispered, “Because Leo has had my blood.”