Read Black Frost Online

Authors: John Conroe

Tags: #elf goblin fairy puck large hadron collider

Black Frost (8 page)

BOOK: Black Frost
2.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“Guard Ashley? From what?”

“Anything that would threaten her,” he
said.

I froze, almost completely baffled by his
words. He stared at me silently, giving me time to process my
thoughts.

“You’re telling me that Ashley has some gift
or another – something that makes her valuable to Fey?”

He nodded.

“And a pack of killer fairies with huge teeth
are here to protect her?”

“Both Courts have allies or….soldiers. The
White Court has Pucks and
dieg t’oorcs…
er..that would
translate as ice goblins
.
The Green Court has the
shiavrih
and
drut’oorcs
, which are the small
poisonous
horn- nets
…, and the green goblins,” he replied.
“White Court creatures all obey the orders of Guardians, just as
Summer’s foot soldiers obey Hunters.”

“Sooo, you’re saying the piranha thingies
should do what you say? But they don’t ‘cause they’ve decided
to…what…defect to Ashley?” I asked, part of me wondering if I would
wake up in the mental ward at any moment.

“Defect? That’s pretty close to the right
idea, although I doubt they would disobey the Queen if she were
here or even Neeve for that matter,” he mused.

“Neeve is your partner?” I asked.

He looked up and nodded, a strange emotion
flickering across his face. Something about what he had just said
had made him uncomfortable, like he had said too much.

“So I need to get out of here? Is that what
you’re saying? Pack up Ashley and head to Florida or California or
something?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Running won’t help.
Portals to your world open all across this land. In fact, if my
grasp of the layout of your country is correct, there are major
portals in the two locations you named. Haven’t been there myself
you understand, but scouts from both courts have gone through over
the last fifty years or so.”

That triggered another question. “How does
this veil thing work? How does it thin? Why?” I asked.

He paused for a moment, visibly gathering his
thoughts.

“I don’t fully grasp it, not like a Watcher
does. But there are more levels of existence than what we see and
hear, feel and touch. This world occupies a place in the Great Web
of the One. But that web has more….layers? levels?” he shook his
head in frustration. I tried to help out.

“Dimensions? Are you trying to say there are
multiple dimensions or universes or something?” I supplied. I had a
feeling the Great Web was the universe or cosmos.

He face brightened into a big smile and he
nodded vigorously. “Yes, those are the words I lack. Our worlds are
separate in distance, but close in dimensions. The layer that
separates us gets lighter from time to time, as the stars age. But
this time, the Watchers say it was your own people who thinned the
Veil. Some vast machine of your scholars,” he said.

The news story from the night before flashed
into my head.

“The Collider? You’re talking about the Large
Hadron Collider in Switzerland!” I said, excited that some piece of
the puzzle might actually fit.

He nodded again. “I guess that is the one. It
has thinned the Veil all at once, rather than just in places. That
has allowed us to come through every portal. My people are ready to
Gather as we have never done before.”

“And they are all looking for Ashley?” I
said, flattened by the weight of what he was telling me.

He shook his head. “Not yet. The Hunters are
drawn to children of Talent, as are their minions – the green
goblins and small flyers. That’s why your Father’s father was
plagued by the poisonous ones. They would have scented the Talent
in him and perhaps you as well. The goblins I fought were drawn to
your daughter. But no Hunters have scented her….yet!”

“Wait, I’m not Talented and neither was my
grandfather, or even Ashley for that matter. We don’t read minds or
predict the future or whatever,” I said.

He smiled at my disclaimer. “Talents vary
much more than those. Yours, I would guess, are tied into your
affinity for crafting metal, as was your GrandFather’s. I’m sure it
caused the minions of Summer no end of difficulty in dealing with a
Crafter of death metal.”

“So iron and steel
are
poisonous to
your kind?” I asked.

“Extremely, as you no doubt saw with the
goblins we fought,” he said. “It is a modification that my people
choose to make eons ago, one that aided our survival, allowing us
to better sense and meld with our world. But iron disrupts all
that, causing our bodies to break down. Of course, we had no idea
your race would learn to mine and use iron,” he said, a look of
chagrin flashing over his dark features.

“So wait, back to the question…what Talent
does Ashley have?” I asked.

He shook his head. “I have no idea. It may
not have manifested yet. Some abilities appear when children are
young, but the most powerful tend to come to females and arrive
about the time a girl becomes a woman.”

I figured that one out quick. Ashley had had
her first period just about six months ago. God had granted me the
boon of having it arrive when she was with Lindsey and her mother,
saving me and Ashley both.

“If you don’t know what her Talent is, how do
you know she has one at all?”

“It is a feeling we get, kind of a
pull
toward those that have it. Your daughter’s friend has a
touch too, but Ashley is like a powerful lodestone, drawing every
denizen of my world in her direction. I can’t tell you what she’ll
be able to do, but it’ll be big when she does it!”

 

I shook my head. “I don’t believe you. I
don’t think I believe any of this!”

“You fought the goblins and you still doubt?”
he asked. I didn’t say anything, trying to come up with a theory to
explain the squatty monsters. Maybe some government black ops lab
created them.

He watched me for a moment then tilted his
head to one side and took a breath. His mouth pursed into a whistle
shape, but when he blew out there was no sound. He paused and
listened, then repeated the strange action. Suddenly, a loud
whirring filled the air and a dark blur flew through the air,
making me duck in reflex. The blur flew past his outstretched hand
and alighted on the edge of the half wall that separated the two
stalls.

A six inch tall figure with flickering wings
stood looking at the two of us. Long prehensile toes with talons
clung to the wood with a solid grip. The body was humanoid, but
covered in silky, dark brown fur that looked soft and warm. A pair
of muscled arms folded across a broad chest designed to pump the
still moving wings at speeds too fast to be seen. The head was
round, like a little brown gourd, with big round eyes, bat-like
ears and when the mouth split open – teeth that would make a shark
jealous. The eyes were green and sparkled with intelligence as it
looked back and forth between us.

Greer snorted softly to himself and lowered
the hand he had raised for the creature to land on.

“This, Ian, is a puck. He came to my call,
but as you can see, he wants nothing to do with me,” Greer said.
Then he spoke in a twittering, high-pitched voice that I couldn’t
follow and the puck listened, its wings never ceasing their motion.
When he finished, the tiny creature trilled back at him, like it
was actually speaking to him.

“This is the Prime of the clan, the leader if
you will. He says he and his clan were early scouts sent ahead by
the Watchers of the Veil when the barrier first thinned. They
didn’t travel far from the portal as they found a nest of
shiavrih
had taken up residence around the old one who lived
here. The Summer flyers were also scouts and as I said earlier,
were drawn to your grandfather. When you and Ashley moved in the
shiavrih
grew very aggressive and triggered his clan’s
interest in Ashley. Now, he offers me honor as a Guardian of
Winter, but he must protect the
solan
.”

I was struck speechless, unable to form words
in the face of this madness. But as the small face turned in my
direction, studying me, I was able to get out a question.

“What is the soul on?”


Solan
is our word for light. He is
using it to name Ashley,” Greer explained. He sighed, rubbed his
head, then shook his head, a quick look of resignation crossing his
face. “They’ve chosen your daughter.”

“What does that mean…’chosen’?” I asked, hand
back on my gun.

“It means they will protect her from Summer’s
Hunters, just as I will, although they don’t have a
dettis
onus.
They’ve just been drawn to her….potential.”

“So what do I do?” I asked, pretty sure I
shouldn’t be seeking advice from an alien who admitted his people
wanted to abduct my child.

“For now nothing, just stay put, although you
might want to feed the pucks. They thrive in cold, but need meat to
live. As far as your daughter…Summer hasn’t found her yet. He tells
me that his clan has slaughtered the nest of
shiavrih
that
were drawn here, and between you and I, we killed off the goblins.
I’ve been called back to report, but I’ll be back in less than a
day. My partner will remain on site, but you won’t likely see her.
At least I hope not,” he said.

“Why don’t I want to see your partner?”

“Because she is usually only seen just before
she kills. She doesn’t share my life debt to you, and
she
is
the Queen’s top Guardian, so we don’t want to call any attention to
you and especially not Ashley,” he concluded.

“How would I know her, if I did see her?” I
asked.

“Oh you would know her…she bears a close
resemblance to me,” he responded.

“Related?” I asked.

He paused for a moment then nodded. “She is
my sister.”

“So you are part of an alien invasion force,
here to abduct our children, only you owe me some debt of honor or
something. My daughter is the top pick for both nations of your
world, you’re headed home, your sister is the best killer of your
nation and I need to avoid her while keeping Ashley away from the
hunter people, while a group of piranha looking pixies protect us
from poisonous bugs? That about it?” I asked.

He stared at me for a moment, perplexed, then
slowly nodded, grudgingly. “Maybe not as I would describe it, but
essentially true. One thing to remember is that Summer’s people may
approach you directly, as I have, trusting that you will not
realize or believe them to be other than people of your own world.
Many Hunters are Gifted at illusion, able to mask features such as
these,” he said, pulling his hair away from one pointed ear. “I
must go, Ian Moore, but I will be back in less than twenty-four of
your hours. I doubt Summer will make an appearance in that time,
especially as the pucks,” he waved at the strange, toothy little
man perched on the stall, “have destroyed their scouts.
Nonetheless, stay alert and take no chances.”

No sooner had he finished his sentence and he
was moving, so smoothly that the speed of his departure wasn’t
obvious for the second it took him to disappear out the
doorway.

 

 

Chapter 7

 

 

I stared at the little creature gripping the
stall wall and he stared back, his little head tilted to one side.
I was seeing him, but also trying to process the past few moment’s
conversation.

 

The little flyer yawned, his impressive teeth
sparkling white in the bluish light of the compact florescent bulbs
that lit the barn.
That
sight reminded me that Greer had
mentioned I should feed the pucks. I’ve always agreed with the
notion that it’s a bad idea to feed wildlife, but this creature
seemed too smart, too people-like to categorize as an animal. And I
didn’t want his flock or clan (?) eating every animal in sight as
that might include Charm or even me. Shuddering while thinking
about what twenty of those things could do to a person, I moved
deeper into the barn to the old chest freezer.

Some old timers can venison, grandpa always
preferred to freeze it. The freezer was so old its white coloring
had yellowed to almost tan, but it still worked well. I can’t begin
to tell you how many packets of butcher-paper wrapped venison had
seen the inside of this box, it was a lot. I hadn’t hunted this
past season, but Bob, Jr.
had
and his deer was wrapped and
frozen in professionally wrapped cuts. Even the ribs were packed
and frozen, as we sometimes barbequed them in the summer months. I
grabbed the six big packs of ribs, which included two years worth,
and pulled them free from the frosty chest, noticing the zip lock
bag with the crow carcass as I did.

Turning around, I jumped at the sight of the
puck hovering two feet in front of me, his glittering eyes fastened
on the white packets of meat. Moving carefully, I dropped to one
knee and pulled my knife to cut the wrapper. He hissed at the sight
of the steel blade, his hovering form swooping back two feet in a
split second, but then he calmed as I sliced all six packets open,
leaving them open on the straw covered concrete floor. The ribs
were meaty and, even frozen, the smell of venison filled the barn,
causing the toothy fairy to chitter and squeak with excitement.
When I backed away from the frozen meat offering and sheathed my
knife, he looked me over for a couple of seconds, then put his head
back and screamed a silent scream…silent to me, that is. Instantly
I could hear Charm barking furiously inside the house, the pitch of
the puck’s call obviously within
his
audible range.

 

A thrumming flutter filled the air, the sound
of rushing wings and high speed bodies, and the broad open barn
space was suddenly filled with dark blurs, diving and swooping. I
ducked instinctively, but the fast moving shapes converged on the
chunky ribs, two or three pucks hauling them into the air while
others slammed into the meat, then fell away with a cubic inch or
more of flesh clenched in trap-like jaws. It was exactly like
underwater footage I had seen of piranha attacking a chicken
carcass, except this was in open air and perhaps more violent.
Thirty or forty seconds later the shattered bones lay scattered
around the barn floor and twenty-three furry fliers of various
sizes perched around the open space with visibly distended bellies.
The leader landed nearest me, his stomach pushed out in what Ashley
and Lindsey would call a ‘food baby’. We looked each other over,
while the flock or pack or what have you studied me with glittering
predator eyes. The smallest ones were obviously children, the
slighter built adults having decidedly female curves. The clan
appeared to be evenly split between males and females, but I could
only identify eight adults, the rest ranging from almost adults to
a pair of very young females. The leader was one of the biggest,
but there was one male bigger than him, who was perched just
slightly behind the leader’s left shoulder. Fur ranged in color
from almost black to a light straw color on one little female.

BOOK: Black Frost
2.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Breach by Lee, Patrick
Frost by Robin W Bailey
The Bourne Supremacy by Robert Ludlum
Ironroot by S. J. A. Turney
Unknown by Unknown