Tuatha's Children  

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2011 

 

Chapter 9

"Let me go," Roon demanded.  He got a swift backhanded slap for his
trouble.

"We've been watching you, kid," the man said.  He was sitting in the back
of the black car and facing the boy.  Another big man was in the front
seat, driving.  The man in the back was big, broad shouldered and built
like a small mountain.  His face had that craggy look, like someone had
punched him way too many times and everything had just hardened to take the
abuse.  His beady little eyes scanned the boy carefully.  "You cooperate
with us and we'll let your little friend go.  We picked him up after we got
you.  He's our insurance.  You don't do what I tell you to, and your little
playmate dies."

Roon grew quiet, worrying about Raven.  He felt so bad, knowing he had been
the one to get them into all of this trouble in the first place.  If he had
listened to his friend they would never have left the castle with Rayel.
They would still be safe at home with their parents.  Now he was being held
captive by this mean looking man who told him they also had Raven and would
kill him.  "What want you?" Roon asked.

"You got an accent.  I'm betting you aren't even American."

"I am Tuathan," Roon said proudly.

"I thought so.  I knew you came from Eastern Europe.  Well you play ball
with me and maybe I'll see about eventually getting you some papers so you
can stay here legally.  You don't want to be deported, do you?"

The boy had no idea what most of the words meant, but he shook his head.
He didn't know what deported was, but it must be bad if the man was using
it as a threat.

"I've seen you taking food from that store.  You're good, no one saw you
but me.  So I figure you can be taught.  Just so happens I need a kid for
my next big operation.  You play ball and we'll all get along just great."

"When?" Roon asked.

"When what?"

"When will we play ball?  Can Raven play as well?"

"Raven...that your buddy?  Well Raven isn't gonna do nothing.  He's gonna
sit tight until you do like I tell you.  Then maybe I'll let you see him."

They drove on through the darkness.  It was very late when they finally
pulled to a stop in a rich neighborhood.  They big man opened the car door
and slipped out with Roon in tow.  They walked down the lane to a big
house.  "Come on," the man growled as he led Roon around to the back of the
building.  "There," he pointed to the back door.  "This is a test.  You do
good and I'll use you in the big job I got coming up.  You just slip in
there.  They got a security system, but as long as you stay on your hands
and knees and don't get up, you'll be fine.  They got what's called a pet
area so it don't go off when their dogs wander around the house."

"Dogs?" Roon said nervously.  They didn't have dogs in Tuatha, but his
parents told they that dogs were like small wolves that humans sometimes
kept in their houses.

"Don't worry, kid.  The people are on vacation and the dogs are at a
kennel.  You just slip in that little door at the bottom and stay on your
hands and knees and your friend will be alright."  He shoved Roon toward
the door and pointed out a small doggie door in the bottom panel of the
back door.  "Now when you get inside you look for anything expensive,
silver, jewelry, stuff you can slip out the doggie door."

Roon figured out that he was being used to rob the house.  "If I take these
things for you, will you let Raven go?"

"We'll see, kid.  You do a good job and I might reward you.  I have other
jobs for you to do."

Roon slipped easily through the doggie door and into the house.  He crawled
through the mud room and into the kitchen on his hands and knees.  The man
watched his progress through the doggie door.  Roon looked back to see the
face staring at him from the little square entrance.  "Go find something
valuable, kid, but remember, don't stand up or you'll set off the alarm."
Roon continued to crawl through the house.  He came to a dining room and
looked around.  There was a beautiful silver tea service on a breakfront
standing against the wall.  He crawled over to it and sat back on his
haunches.  He didn't know why the man would want it, but he said silver and
this looked to be made of silver.  He slowly reached up and felt the teapot
sitting on the tray.  He pulled the tray slowly over to the edge of the
breakfront and then slowly lowered it to the floor.  He then slid it in
front of him through the kitchen and out to the man waiting at the doggie
door.  The man reached in and grabbed the teapot and the creamer and sugar
bowl.  He then slid the silver tray out the doggie door.  "Nice work, kid.
Go see what else you can find.  Maybe some jewelry or cash.  Go upstairs
and check out the bedrooms, but make sure you stay low to the floor, on
your hands and knees."  The man was busy slipping the tea service into a
burlap bag he carried with him.

Roon turned and crawled back through the house.  He came to a wide
staircase and began to crawl up the stairs on his hands and knees.  When he
got to the top of the stairs he crawled down a carpeted hallway and pushed
open the first door he came to.  The room inside was dark, but he could
easily see with his elfin eyes.  He looked about and didn't see anything
interesting.  There was an expensive coin collection behind glass cases,
but Roon had no idea this was worth anything.  He continued back down the
hall.  He came to a game room and found a large table with smooth round
balls in an open shelf at the end.  He took them out and examined them.
They were so smooth and hard and brightly colored.  He had never seen
billiard balls before.  He thought they must be some expensive and worth a
lot.  He took as many as he could carry and pushed them in front of him to
the door.  When he got to the stairs he tried to gently push the balls down
the stairs, but the heavy billiard balls rolled down and began to bounce
down the steps.  One rolled off the side and landed on a crystal vase on a
table beside the staircase causing it to shatter.  The boy panicked and
jumped up trying to catch the rolling balls.  In doing so he broke the beam
of the alarm system and loud horn began to blast.  Roon looked about,
startled by the loud noise and ran as quickly as he could down the stairs.
He just got to the doggie door and slipped out, seeing the big man running
across the yard.  "Wait," he shouted.

The man turned to look back at him.  "Your little buddy just died," he
yelled as he jumped into the black car.  It sped away leaving Roon standing
by the side of the road, the horn still blaring in the house behind him.
He could hear other sounds coming in the distance and growing louder.  More
of the self propelled wagons were heading toward him, these with flashing
lights on the top.  He turned and ran down the street, dodging into bushes
nearby.

* * *

"Thanks," Jeff said as he sat back on the mattress.

"Just doing my job," Craig responded.

Willow sat down beside his lover and stared at the floor.  "What's the
matter, lover?" Jeff asked, trying to get the boy to look up at him.

"I'm not a very good partner at all," Willow said dejectedly.  "I should
have realized you were thirsty.  It's just that I kind of forgot what it
was like since we...since we..."

"Since I became human again?"  Jeff just laughed softly.  "It's okay.  I
kind of forgot too.  You'd think after all this time, I wouldn't forget
something so basic.  I'm glad y'all came when you did.  I'd feel really bad
if I made a snack of that young boy."

Craig laughed as well.  "Not near as bad as you'd feel after that big guy
with the sword took care of you.  The one they say is the king.  I think
he'd not take too kindly to you munching on his kids."

"Well we still have one more to find.  How long till sunset?"

"Several hours," Craig said, sitting down on the floor beside the battery
powered lantern he brought with him.  "You might as well get some rest.  I
plan to."

"Well then go back to the hotel," Jeff encouraged.  "You don't need to sit
in this dirty old basement with me."

"Shut up.  Yes we do," Willow said, hugging his lover.

"Where are the others?" Jeff asked.

"I sent them back to the motel," Craig said.  "I think Sharon is going to
take the boy back to their land.  She and that big guard are planning to go
back to Illinois tomorrow morning.  They'll take everyone with them back to
fairyland except the king and his mate."

"Good," Jeff said.  "Tonight after you two get some rest, we'll go hunting
and see if we can find the other boy.  Then we can all go back.  Well all
except you."

"Yeah," Craig agreed.  "I can't go back to fairyland with you.  I'm getting
married."

"What?  Congratulations.  How long have you and Angela lived together?  She
finally said yes?"

"Well, actually we've lived together for about seventeen years, and I'm the
one who finally said yes.  You know, if you could delay your return a
little bit, I'd sure like you to be my best man."

"Well, sir, I'd be honored," Jeff said with a grin.  He looked over at his
partner to see what his reaction was, but Willow had already fallen asleep.

* * *

Roon sat in the bushes of a nearby park and cried for quite some time.  He
was devastated that the man said they had killed his friend.  He knew it
was all his fault.  What would Robin and Scott say?  How could he ever face
Raven's parents, Maggie and Dannemel.  They would rightfully blame him.  He
didn't think he could ever go back to Tuatha and see them.  But he knew he
had to.  He decided he had better pull himself together and head west as
fast as he could so he could find the mountains and find a way back home.
He got up and started walking toward the west, or at least what he thought
was the west.

After several hours he finally came to a railroad yard.  There were tracks
upon tracks.  He watched and saw the work engines pushing the cars around
in the yard.  They were routing various cars into various trains, and then
they would head out.  The big cars would link together and off they would
go.  He thought perhaps he could hitch a ride on one of these marvelous
vehicles.  They moved like huge serpents over the metal trails drawn out on
the ground.  He slipped down the embankment and came up against a chain
link fence.  He followed the fence for a way eventually coming to a spot
where the fence had been cut and pulled up.  Not knowing many vagabonds who
rode the rails had taken this same route, Roon slipped through the opening
and began walking along the metal rails.  He heard a rumbling and jumped
back just as a huge series of engines roared by, pulling a long line of
freight cars behind it.  Roon walked along side the slow moving train,
looking at the various cars as they rumbled by.  Suddenly he heard someone
shouting.  He looked back and saw a man in some sort of uniform, carrying a
light stick, running in his direction.  The man was shouting at him.  Roon
again panicked and began to run along side the train.  He saw flat bed car
and leaped for it, catching the metal rungs of a partial ladder on the side
and pulling himself up onto the bed beside a huge metal box container.  The
man chasing after him was shaking his fist and shouting something, then
began talking into a small box he was carrying.  The train began to pick up
speed and Roon sat back against the metal wall of the storage container on
the car, watching the chain link fence drop behind him.  The train was now
out of the yard and smoothly rolling along the tracks, heading into the
west.

* * *

Craig called a taxi and Sharon, Rood, Rayel and Raven all climbed in to
return to the airport where the chartered plane was waiting to take them
back to Illinois.  Sharon was in charge of the party as long as they were
in the human world.  Raven seemed a little nervous with Rayel, but the man
apologized to the child speaking in native Tuathan.  "I should never have
brought you to this world," he said.  "I so wanted to find my own son that
I was blinded to the evil I was doing to you and your friend."

The boy looked up at the older man.  "It is okay," he said.  "It was fun
till Roon got caught."

"Don't worry," Sharon said in their language.  "I'm sure they'll find him
and everyone will be home before you know it."

"But this is not your home we go to," Rayel replied, giving the woman a
curious look.  "And you speak our native tongue so fluently."

She reached over and took Rood's hand.  "It is now.  I've been living there
for over ten years.  I've made Tuatha my home."

Rood kissed her hand and looked up with his characteristic crooked grin.
"The lady Sharon is our prime healer.  She runs the halls healing as well
as any native born Tuathan, and brings in some of her human magic as well.
I would not allow her to return to this world if I thought she would stay
here."

Raven smiled up at the adults.  "You two are just like my mom and my dad.
Mom is human and dad is Tuathan."

Rayel shook his head.  "So much has changed since I was young.  Tuatha has
changed.  My son is born of two worlds and in love with a night walker from
the human land.  My son is a reversal, as is the high king of our world.
The consort is human.  There are many other human Tuathan bondings.  It is
so strange.  You know I thought I would be exiled forever because I bonded
with a human woman.  I think I was the first."

Sharon shook her head.  "Not hardly.  If you really looked at your history,
and ours, you would see there are many such instances of humans falling in
love with fairies.  Except in my world, no one thought they were real
stories.  They were discounted as legends and fairy tales."

The cab pulled into the airport and Sharon paid the driver as the others
climbed out.  As the vehicle drove away the cab driver shook his head.
"Foreigner," he grumbled.

The short flight back to Illinois was uneventful other than Raven's
excitement about his first plane ride.  He was astounded that such heavy
metal wagons could fly through the air like birds and that people could
ride inside them.  He was still babbling about his ride when they pulled up
to the old Victorian mansion.  He took one look and the house and suddenly
grew very quiet.  "What's the matter?" Sharon asked.

"I am going to be in so much trouble," he said quietly as he looked at the
ground.  They slowly walked up the walk to the door.

"Not as much trouble as I was in for bringing you here," Rayel wind
whispered to the boy and winked at him when he looked up.  Jennifer and
Caseldra rushed out of the door to greet them, both girls hugging the
child.  Then they rushed him inside, up the stairs and literally shoved him
into the closet in the unused bedroom.

When the back side of the tiny closet opened, Raven found himself stepping
out into the wizard's library.  Before he could even focus on the room
around him, his mother was grabbing him and smothering him in kisses,
sobbing hysterically.  Dannemel just stood aside and smiled, happy to have
his family reunited.

* * *

As night fell, Jeff gently shook his lover's shoulder.  "Wake up, sleepy,"
he said as Willow blinked and looked around, disoriented.  "Craig is
waiting outside for the others.  They should be here soon.  We have to
resume our search for the other boy."

"Great," Willow groaned as he slowly stood up.  "Wow, my whole body hurts.
Did you get any sleep on that uncomfortable mattress?  Where did Craig
sleep?"

"I got a little rest.  I guess vampires are used to sleeping in hard
coffins and on stone slabs in crypts.  The uncomfortable mattress wasn't
that bad for me.  Poor Craig dosed off on the floor.  But he never
complained.  I sure wish the two of you had gone back to the hotel."

"Motel," Willow corrected.

"What's the difference?"

"The cost and quality," the boy said as they pulled the door open.

The van pulled up to the curb just as they climbed the stairs to the
street.  The sky still glowed a rosy pink from the recent sunset.  "My
favorite time of the day," Jeff said.  "Twilight."

"Would make a good vampire book title," Craig joked.  Fred their driver
climbed out of the van and handed Craig a plastic jug.  "Thanks," Craig
said and turned to Jeff.  "Fred brought you dinner, as I requested."  He
handed the vampire the jug of blood.  "Fresh from a nearby slaughterhouse.
Willow will have to make do with a salad from Wendy's."

"Great, I'm starved," the boy said as he climbed into the van, greeting the
others.  Robin and Scott were the only two waiting for them.  "Where is
everyone else?" Willow asked.

"We sent them all home," Robin replied.

"And you should have seen the fuss Rood made," Scott added laughing.  "I'm
the captain of the guard and it is my duty to protect the king," he said
mimicking the big guard.

"Yes, but when Sharon reached for his ear, he quickly changed his mind and
decided to go with her," Robin added.  "Now that we have all eaten," he
continued, ignoring that Willow and Jeff were still in the middle of their
meal, "where look we tonight?"

Fred gave Craig a folder.  "This was faxed to you from your office."

Craig opened it and flipped through pages.  He then pulled out a faxed
photo and handed it to Robin.  "This look like the culprit?"

Robin looked at the picture and smiled, nodding.  "This is our son.  He
looks well.  Where is he?"  He handed the picture to Scott.  It was a
picture of the boy as he stood up after crawling through the chain link
fence at the railroad yard.

"That was taken by a security surveillance system at the Burlington
Northern shipping yards," Craig said looking at the papers in the folder.
The railroad detectives say he hopped a freight heading to New Mexico."  He
read further and looked at some map sketches.  "Fred, back to the airport."
Craig immediately got on his phone and made some calls.

"Where go we now?" Robin asked.

"La Junta, Colorado.  With a little luck maybe we can beat him there and
catch him."

Several hours later a small private jet was pulling into La Junta
Municipal.  Craig, Jeff, Willow, Robin and Scott got out finding another of
Craig's hired men waiting with a rented van.  "I didn't know we had such an
extensive foundation," Jeff said as he was introduced to Robert, the
driver.

"We don't," Craig said.  "We just know where to hire people."  They quickly
headed for the railroad area, only to find that the train in question had
already passed by some time earlier.

"Damn!" Scott cursed.  "How can one boy cause so much trouble?  Where
next?"

Craig consulted his paperwork.  "Next stop will be in Albuquerque."

Suddenly Jeff perked up and leaned out the window.  He then opened the door
and jumped out of the van.

"What is it?" Craig asked, following him.

"The scent.  He was here."

"Of course he was here," Scott said as they followed the vampire.  "The
train passed right by here.  Right over these very tracks."

"I wouldn't smell him in a passing train," Jeff replied.  "He must have
gotten off."  He turned and ran down the road.

"Come on," Craig said and they all piled back into the vehicle to take off
after the man running along in the darkness.

"Man, that guy is fast.  I've never seen anyone who could run like that.
We're going almost 40 and he's staying ahead of us," Robert said as he
tried to follow along.  Jeff was running down the sidewalk at an incredible
pace, but remembering to be slow enough for the people in the van to follow
him.

"You don't want to know how he does it," Craig said.

"Steroids," Robert said, nodding knowingly.

They moved into the outskirts of the town.  The neighborhood took on a
decidedly seedy appearance.  Suddenly, Jeff stopped.  The driver brought
the van to a halt.  "What is it?" Craig asked out of the open window.

"Blood," Jeff said.  "A lot of it."

"Oh God, no!" Scott said, jumping out of the van.

"There," Jeff pointed toward what looked like an abandoned house.  The
building had tall weeds growing in the yard, along with accumulated trash,
old beer cans, fast food wrappers, plastic shopping bags and so on littered
about or blowing in the light breeze that had sprung up.

Robin was out of the van and running toward the front of the building with
Scott following behind him.  "Wait a minute," Craig yelled and followed
along, reaching into his coat for a gun.  Jeff followed slowly behind.

Willow came up to Jeff.  "What's going on?" he asked nervously.

"I can smell the blood.  And another sent.  I think there were other
vampires here.  I think they had a feast."  He stopped some distance from
the building.  "They made a mess of it.  I don't think I can go in there."
The burning in the back of his throat intensified with the scent of all
that blood.

"Holy crap," Craig said as he looked at the room.  Robin stood in the
center with Scott beside him holding him.  There was blood splashed all
around, staining the floor, the walls and even the ceiling.  A few body
parts and clothing remained, but mostly it was rapidly disintegrating.
"Vampires.  Looks like several of them," Craig said as he flashed the beam
of his light around the room.

"Is that what these are?" Scott asked nervously.  His voice was trembling.
"Do you think...do you think they killed each other?"

"I doubt that.  It's been known to happen, but pretty rarely on this scale.
I think someone or something murdered them."

"Where is Roon?" Robin asked in a cold voice.

"I don't think he's here," a voice answered.  They turned to see Jeff
standing in the doorway.  He looked like he was shaking.  "I detected
several other scents outside once I was able to get past the smell of... of
here."

"Someone else did this?" Scott asked nervously.

"The Van Helsings," Craig said.

Jeff nodded slowly.  "It certainly could be their work.  By morning there
won't be much left but the house and the blood.  I think the vampires were
surprised.  They apparently came in here to dispatch a gang of humans and
the Van Helsings surprised them in mid massacre."

"But what about Roon?" Robin asked again firmly.

"I detected another scent blended with his for the last few block.  I think
a vampire met up with him and brought him here, and not willingly from the
scent of pheromones mixed in.  But I also think I detected his scent
outside leaving the area.  I think the Van Helsings found him just in time
and took him with them.  But it's hard to make out.  There are so many
other scents obliterating it, and the smell of blood from here is pretty
overwhelming."

"Let's get going.  It will be dawn soon," Craig said and they all turned to
leave the devastation in the house.

"Are you okay?" Willow asked as they walked back toward the van.

"No, I don't think so," Jeff whispered.  "The smell, it's so...I just can't
stand it.  My throat is burning so bad.  Maybe you ought to stay away from
me for a bit."  Jeff turned and walked down the block in the opposite
direction from which they had come.  He got to the end of the block and
looked around, confused.

"What is it?" Craig asked.

"I'm pretty sure they had him with them, but everything seems to disappear
here.  I'm guessing they got in cars and left with the boy."

"Who are these Van Helsing things?  Why would they take Roon?" Scott asked.
He and Robin had followed Jeff and Craig.

"The Van Helsings are an organization of vampire hunters.  Their mission is
to wipe the vampires out.  They think they are saving the earth by doing
that.  I'm guessing a vampire caught Roon and was bringing him here.
Fortunately for your boy the Van Helsings showed up about the same time.
They took him with them when they left."

Scott relaxed a little bit.  "At least he's safe.  But where would they
take him."

"One of two places," Craig volunteered.  "They would either drop him off at
some social services organization, or they might take him back to their
headquarters."

"How will we find out?"

"Simple," Craig said with a smile.  "Over the last year we have managed to
infiltrate their organization.  We have a spy and he'll let us know."

 

 

 

 

 

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