Saturday, March 12, 2016

Threat of the Fire Demon - Chapter 17

Charles and Azur lay in each other’s arms on a blanket of ferns at the edge of the forest. Charles toyed with a strand of Azur’s silken hair, coiling her curly locks around his index finger. She snuggled in tighter to his side, her head on his chest.

“I love you, Charles,” she whispered.

She stroked the inside of his pant leg with the bottom of her barefoot. She couldn’t get close enough to him. Her soul was at peace when she was in his arms. No vengeful thoughts, no desire to go anywhere other than closer to him.

Charles kissed the top of her head. “As I do you, my love.”

When the sun rose this morning and the demons on the training field morphed back into their human form, Charles took Azur’s hand and led her to this secluded spot. Saul left over a week ago. If their calculations were correct he would be home by now. Charles intended to give him the rest of the summer to prepare for their homecoming. He learned from Azur of a harvest celebration the demon community held in the fall. They would leave after that.

Dralar and Jazper still needed to be told they were in love and planning to leave. Charles felt they would have to be blind in order not to see his love for Azur. It was too strong for him to hide any longer.

“You are sure Simone will like me,” Azur asked. She had been concerned ever since Charles told her he had a daughter. Children were often very possessive of their parents, particularly single parents.

“She will love you as I do,” Charles answered with confidence. “Simone is a loving child. You will adore her, and her you.”

“And Brela?” Azur asked.

Charles explained to her the satyr had been the child’s wet nurse and then nanny almost her whole life. Like Saul, she was a member of his extended family and would continue to live with them.

Charles let her lock of hair fall from his finger. He placed his hand below her chin and lifted her face up to his.

“She will love you as well. You might have to draw a line down the middle of the kitchen. She is a bit territorial,” Charles said with a chuckle, “but she will adjust.” Charles placed a tender kiss on her full lips. “You shouldn’t worry. Everything will be just fine.”

*****

Saul slapped the ward-totem down on the dining room table. The enchanted spider webs shattered and fairy dust shot out across the room like an exploding sparkler.

“You have to stop this!” he said in an exasperated tone.

Brela turned toward him from her place in front of the stove. “I can put them up faster than you can pull them down.”

“She is going to be Charles’ wife,” Saul hissed at the stubborn satyr.

She had been against the idea of Azur’s arrival since Saul announced Charles intentions to bring her home with him. She started hanging warding-totem all over the house to supposedly keep the building, and everyone in it, safe from the demon’s rage.

“She is a fire demon and I will keep my Simone safe.” She waved a spoon at Saul. “You put that back up by the door.”

“I will not!” Saul growled. “How uninviting would that be when she arrives and finds a ward at the front door? And she is not your Simone, she is Charles’.”

Brela stamped her hoofed foot at Saul and the cat was sorry the minute he saw the hurt look on her face.

“I know you love her dearly, we all do, but Charles is going to come back and he is bringing Azur with him.”

Brela tilted her horns forward as if the goat side of her being were challenging him. “You failed to keep Charles safe from her. I will not fail to keep Simone from her clutches.”

Saul let his head drop into his hands. “May the Gods preserve me from stubborn, irrational satyr.”

Simone toddled into the room. She came over to Saul and leaned against his furry legs.

“Kitty sad?” She asked.

Saul raised his head and looked down at the child.

Jeez…She had a ward-totem sown to the front of her jumper.

*****

Saul carried the last of the equipment for the still down the basement stairs. He sat it in place and flopped down on the bed against the far wall.

He looked around inventorying the items in the now transformed and completed distillery/demon room.

Since he told everyone who assisted him in the transformation of the basement, that he was making a distilling room, he thought it prudent to spend some of Charles’ funds on equipment for such a venture. Word would get around about the purchase and reinforce the brewery rumor. Also, it would be a good reason to refuse anyone access to the basement. He didn’t think Azur would mind sharing the area with the stuff. If she did, he and Charles could move it to the shed later.

The Wizard came, enchanted every inch of the place against fire, and left. The smithy completed the doors in a timely fashion and wanted to know when his first delivery of liquor would arrive.

Saul knew from observation that Azur did not sleep during the evening hours, but then again, she was free to roam around. Without her freedom perhaps she would want to rest. So, he equipped the room with an enchanted bed. It was an additional expense for the wizard to make it fireproof, as well as a picture he hung on the wall of what he hoped would be a calming pastoral scene, two chairs, a table, and the small portable bathroom facility. Charles was keeping company with Azur during evening hours now. Perhaps he would want to keep that up while Brelar looked after Simone upstairs. It was not a far stretch of the cat’s imagination to think of them down here talking away the night.

Charles would probably become a night owl. Their hunting trips would be a thing of the past. Charles would be tied to this house and putting Azur safely to bed each night for the rest of their lives. He certainly hoped the man had given that serious consideration.

Saul went to the sink and ran himself a glass of water. Adele asked Charles to include the kitchen in the house design because she wanted to use this basement area as a summer kitchen and living area. It was at least twenty degrees cooler being set in the side of the hill as it was.

Saul turned, taking in the room. He wanted to install some hooks to the left of the stairs for Azur to hang her clothes on when she changed. That was the last of what he could think of to make her comfortable and welcome, other than trying one more time to convince Brela whether she thought the fire demon’s arrival was a good thing or not, she was coming. It was only a matter of time.

*****

Charles and Azur sat at the front of the room holding hands in order to show their solidarity before the assembled crowd. This was beginning to feel more like a trial then it did a council meeting. When Azur announced to Jazper and Dralar her intention to leave after the harvest all hell had broken lose. Because Azur would not back down from her decision with Jazper’s objections alone, he called a general meeting for all the community to attend.

“Isn’t this the very reason we guard the gates?” An older man from the back shouted.

A woman spoke out from up toward the front. “I don’t want Raven and his clan descending on my family and I am sure none of the rest of you do either.”

There was a general rumble of agreement from the thirty some-odd people gathered in the meeting hall.

“You need to send the Light Bearer home,” someone else shouted.

“Yes, it is time he left!”

“He’s well enough to travel now.”

Jazper raised his hand in a call for silence. The crowd slowly settled down, but Charles could still feel the tension and the rising heat in the room.

“I have already informed my niece of my opinion of her leaving. I wanted her to see that we, as a community, were of the same mind.” He looked at Azur and nodded as though to say, ‘see, it is as I told you.’ “We do not want to initiate a war with the vampires and this would no doubt do just that.”

Dralar politely raised his hand and directed his gaze toward his uncle.

“Speak, Dralar,” Jazper granted his request.

Dralar rose from his seat and turned toward the assembled group.

“I know this seems rash,” he started, and there were mummers of agreement in the crowd.

Jazper silenced them with a wave of his hand. “Go on, Dralar,” he instructed.

The young man cleared his throat. He prayed what he was about to suggest would satisfy all.

“I know this seems rash, but I feel we need to consider this thoroughly. Charles has sent his friend, Saul, ahead to prepare for my sister’s arrival. She has agreed to confine herself each night during her blaze. We have all seen what a calming effect Charles has on her. She is no longer the vengeful demon we saw months ago.” He smiled at his sister and then brought his attention back to the crowd. “My sister has lost everything…her husband, her child. Do you not think she deserves to have the love of a man we have all grown to admire over the last few months? Doesn’t she deserve happiness as much as the rest of us?”

The woman in the front who spoke up earlier asked in a more reasonable tone, “but what if she brings Raven down upon us?”

“We are a self-sustaining community,” Dralar answered. “As demons we can defeat any vampire who enters our area of The Realms, but if we are fearful of what might happen to our human companions, our loved ones, then I suggest we seal the gates, all of them, after Azur leaves.”

Azur gasped and gripped Charles hand tighter. She would never be able to return. Never see her family again. She had not bargained on that happening.

“If Azur truly feels her place is with Charles, then she must make the decision, not us. And, she must suffer the consequences, not us,” Dralar said.

He sat down and folded his hands in his lap. He had made the only suggestion that would allow his sister to leave with her lover. He hoped she would not hate him for it the rest of her days. Now it was her choice.


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