Paislee was again walking the winding path through Gypsy Forest. She’d been spending more and more time there. Rationally, she knew why. But she didn’t really want to admit it to herself. It was also hard to think about what happened before she ended up here. And soon enough she’s be having a rather awkward conversation.
“Gryndle, how are you?”
He waved her off. “Never mind me. How are you?”
“Actually, I’m holding on by a thread. But I’m here for a reason.”
“Well don’t let me stop you, I’ll just leave you-”
“Gryn, I’m here to talk to you. It’s important.”
She could tell he was confused and slightly pleased, which made it all the harder. “Emil is …”
“This is going to require sustenance. And perhaps a little sun. Come, I shall escort you to the clearing by the stables. Perhaps we may persuade Treseda.” He linked her arm in his and gently tugged her along. Treseda met them there.
“Paislee, perfect. I had a feeling I’d be seeing you today.” Treseda turned to the young girl standing behind her. ” Tell them Paislee is with me and Gryndle at the stables and that you’re sent to fetch food.” The girl bowed and ran off.
“She’s cute Aunt. New disciple?”
“She just stated today. Her name’s Chiesta. Cute thing. Alright Gryndle, would you be a darling and help me sit down?” Gryndle waved his hand for her and a cushioned chair appeared. He took Treseda’s hand and helped lower into her chair. “Thank you.” Paislee and Gryndle settled in the grass, letting the sun wash them over.
“You look comfortable. But you’re huge! Weren’t you due like yesterday?”
“Oh please! It’s only been nine months.” Treseda laughed. Her comment sparked more confusion for Gryndle.
“I thought pregnancy lasted only nine months.”
“Human mortals have nine month pregnancies. Gypsy and Fey have ten month pregnancies.” Paislee corrected him. “Don’t ask me why, and don’t ask Tres. She’ll just give you a Dei’s answer and we don’t have the time.”
“Too right.” Treseda quipped. “No explain everything to me. What’s going on?”
“After Emil left my house yesterday, he met up with Charlotte. And she dumped him. And in a fit of rage it sounds like, he tried to run her over with his car. She’s in the hospital but she’s expected to make a full recovery, she was barely clipped. But right after that, Ahmeline found out that it triggered his demon blood. A lineage I doubt he was even aware of. Apparently he’s going to be a huge threat. But we can’t find him anywhere which means he’s in Hell. ” Paislee looked at Gryndle. “I was hoping you might be able to find him.”
Gryndle looked worried, but not surprised.
“You knew he was a demon?” she asked.
“No. He had a strange scent, but it was faint. He was human when I caught his scent. But something else was there. And it’s not the first time a man became a demon through trigger.”
“Please, can you find him?”
Treseda looked at her niece. “Just how big of a threat is he supposed to be?”
“Ahmeline was tapped.”
“Ah.” Treseda looked pensive and far away. And Gryndle spoke to Paislee.
“You know, when you said you’d come visit me, I never thought it would be to ask me to sniff out your boyfriend.”
Paislee stiffened. “He’s not my boyfriend anymore.” She tried to shake it off, and pushed him lightly just to kid. But he noticed that her smile didn’t reach her eyes.
“I didn’t mean to-”
“No worries, really.” Paislee plopped her head down on the grass. “I told you before, I’ll be ok. Honestly, I’m sorry about even asking. I wish I didn’t have to think about him, let alone seek him out.”
“I can’t imagine being in your situation. I fell in love with an Aynton. A paragon of good!“
“Hmmp. Oh yeah? And how’s that working out for you?”
Gryndle nodded his head back and forth a little. “Well, she just got out of a bad relationship. I want to be there for her, but I don’t want to get stuck in the friend zone.”
Paislee had a split second to decide which route to take. And as usual, reckless beat out cautious. “Somehow, and I could be wrong, but I doubt she’ll see you as just a friend forever.”
It had been a while since Paislee blushed over a guy. So soon after her breakup, she thought she’d mind. Paislee was surprised to find that she didn’t mind at all.
“I’ll take it.” Gryndle smiled a little. Then he thought moe about the task at hand. “His scent felt familiar. Almost like family.”
“Do you think you’re related?”
Gryndle scoffed at Treseda for asking. “I certainly hope not. But it’s possible. At the very least, his blood comes from one of the older, more powerful clans. For me to sense it when it was supposed to be dormant, means it’s strong. I should be able to lure him out. But he’ll be gunning for any and all his enemies. My guess is that you’ll be number one, Paislee.
“Just a sec. Let me see if I’m following.” Treseda said. “The man has an affair, of which you’re the other woman. Charlotte, his first girlfriend, separates from him. He gets so angry that he tries to kill her with his automobile. The act of violence towards a human life triggered his latent demon blood. But now he’s somewhere in Hell and off your radar. And you want to get him out in the open so that you can assess the situation. And he’s reportedly an extreme threat. But you have no idea why or how?”
“Yes.” Paislee replied.
“And when you said that Ahmeline was ‘tapped,’ you meant by the Proether didn’t you.”
“Those Proether are just so helpful.” Treseda said with a sigh. Gryndle’s ears twitched.
“The Proether? They’re real?” He was surprised. As a demon, he’d only heard of the Proether in legend. And he’d never heard them mentioned by the Clans or the Ayntons. “Is it true that they’re angels?”
“Well, no. There are angels, and you’ll see them rarely. Proether are Pan Realm beings. They have the blood of all races. Demons, Gypsy, Human, Fey and the so-called Fifth Race. Supposedly.” said Treseda. There was sarcasm in her words, a tone Gryndle was not used to. Naturally he needed more clarification.
Treseda sighed again. She hated this story. “The lore is that a witch fell in love with the son of a fairy and they had a child. That offspring eventually coupled with the offspring of a Gypsy and a demon. All that I can believe. But then the lore says that the resulting child grew up to couple with a member of the fifth race and spawn a child of their own. That offspring grew to adolescence and grew too powerful and had to isolate his or herself. The sex of the child changes depending on the legend. But it created its own Realm, where it could grow to maturity and exist as it so chose. And now, supposedly, any child born of all five races goes there upon receiving their power and from there, meddle in the affairs of others as they see fit.”
“Wow. That’s just bizarre.” Gryndle laughed. “Demons have a similar story actually. There is no fifth race. Any creature born with the blood of all four races can access a reservoir of power which allows them to create a new ring in Hell. Apparently that’s why there are seven known rings in all. There could be more, but no demon has been powerful enough to create an eighth ring or search for one. Rhoatharg believed that he could eventually do it, but I for one am glad he never got the chance. But it’s fascinating that there really are Proether.” He looked at them. “And I can tell from your faces that you aren’t exactly pleased with them.”
Paislee started to speak and had to stutter a few times before she could get out what she wanted to say. “They interfere whenever they want to. As far as we can tell, it’s been in favor of good and not evil. Ahmeline seems to be their favorite contact that we know of.”
“But?” he asked.
“But Proether have deemed the Gypsy Clans almost complete unworthy. My Grandmother was the last of all the Gypsy Clans to be tapped.” said Treseda.
“Ahmeline is contacted regularly. Meria has been tapped several times as well. Even I was once. Mom? Never, but she never cared anyway. The Fey are also tapped , not as often but still. The Gypsies? Never. And from what anyone can tell, their only reason is that Gypsies consort with known demons.” Paislee added.
“But demons are the fourth race? Anyway, I’m a demon, Paislee. We’ve been friends for years.”
“Yes Gryndle, darling.That might be why she’s only been tapped once. But you’ve never taken a life. Your aversion to killing has made you almost a non issue.” Treseda said as she motioned for the young Chiesta to set down the tray of food. She bowed and took her seat behind and to the right of her mistress. “The general consensus is that because Gypsies have looked after ourselves, turning to whomever we need for help (demons included), the Proether don’t need to help. But as a race? We are very sensitive about the subject.”
“You seem angry.” He looked at the Dei.
“We feel shunned. If the Proether are part Gypsy, why would they intentionally shun us?”
Paislee realized that the conversation was headed in the wrong direction. “Anyway, the Proether showed Ahms that Emil was becoming a demon and that he was going to be one of the biggest threats we’ve ever faced. He’s our responsibility. We have to stop him.”
“Ok. Then I’ll go searching through hell for him. Once I find him, the easiest way to get him back to the human Realm is to make him angry enough to hunt for his enemies.”
“You can’t just bring him back?” Paislee asked.
“No. A demon can be dragged back to Hell. But no demon can be pulled out of Hell.” He took a bite. “For a demon, Hell is Sanctuary.”
“Is Hell Sanctuary for you?” Paislee asked.
“I feel a pull, certainly,” he shrugged. “All demons feel attracted to Hell, especially the ring on which they were born, hatched or spawned.”
“Which circle most pulls you?” Treseda asked. “Honestly, I never thought about it.” Truthfully, Paislee hadn’t either.
“I was born in the human world as you know. But when I was raised in Hell, I felt the pull strongest to the seventh ring. Rhoatharg said the seventh ring was his clan’s home, and in turn, mine.”
“And the seventh is the most dangerous.”
“True. But that’s not the point. The point is that I can find him, and I should be able to drag him out. But it’s going to take me a few days. I can traverse all seven Realms. But it would be best if I start at the highest, the weakest ring and work my way deeper. Like I said. He’ll be after you.” He spoke to her, looking into her eyes. He found worry. For Emil? For herself? For him? He couldn’t tell. “Will you be ready?”
“Pfft.” She rolled her eyes, breaking their gaze. “Of course I wont be ready. We have no idea what his powers are. But we wont know until we meet him on a battlefield.”
“I supposed that’s true.” Treseda ate some duck, a napkin daintily placed on her belly.
“Gryndle,” Paislee started. “Are you sure you can do this? I mean if you get hurt-”
“Please.” He reached for her hand. It was for me! She’s worried. “Paislee, I wouldn’t do this for anyone outside of your family. Treseda, no offense.”
“None taken darling. I know how much you hate Hell.” It wasn’t his hate for Hell which drove him, it was his love of Paislee. But none of them were going to quibble too much about his reasons for helping.
Gryndle turned back to Paislee. “You are a witch, a great force of good. Your ex could be a great force of evil. And he may be a terrible demonic threat to you personally because you broke up with him. We need to make sure that you’re all safe. I personally need to be sure that you are safe.”
“Thank you.” She got tears in her eyes.
I have to make her laugh. “Lo and Behold!” Gryndle exclaimed, raising only his other arm, not letting go of his love. “This demon is doing something for the good of an Aynton! When has that ever happened?”
He did a good job of making them both laugh. They finished the food, and got ready to go. While Gryndle helped Treseda out of her chair, Chiesta gathered the tray and napkins. It took them a few minutes to get going. The Dei hugged them both, bidding each good day and waddled back to her Claeren with Chiesta asking her questions the whole way. Gryndle and Paislee headed back to the Portal.