Tuesday 3:31 A.M. Under the Loop, Chicago, IL
The News Stand at W. Van Buren St. and Wabash Ave. appeared like any other Chicago street scene. The young man who ran it with his father looked third or fourth generation Irish-American.
But looks, as the saying goes, can be quite deceiving even at the very best of times.
The dividing fabric between all five worlds was, tenuous here at best and the guardians that had gravitated to this site; made the security at Cheyenne Mountain, seem like an open park playground.
Tuesday 3:32 A.M. Alleyway, one block west of Wabash Ave.
Pushing at The Portal, the Demon Scout, Hazkor, could feel it begin to give way. Just a few more seconds and he would be free to rape the world of living men. 'Delicious, ' the thought coursed through what passed for his soul.
But as his essence impinged on the realm men called reality, he felt himself diverted off course.
His titanic struggles were finally reduce to rage fueled quivering and the last thing he felt was his absorption into non-being, his last scream of rage dying stillborn in his throat.
Tuesday 3:33 A.M. One block west of Wabash Ave.
Elnore, Third Lord of House-Elman, broadcast with a sigh of contentment, 'Well done my folk and thank Danu that these stupid Demons never pass Intel back up their chain of command. Back to Grant Park Grove now, it's Miller Time.'
He simply loved the endless creativity of humans. No Clan member that ever lived would have thought to name a celebration, after a beverage. He also sent silent thanks in passing to his Grandsire for having the foresight to mix human blood in the family. Otherwise his branch of Faery would never have been able to work around this much Iron and Steel 'Death-Metal'.
'Three incursions this week alone and it was only Tuesday. Wonder what's stirring them up so badly?' he mused, while turning to head back toward Lake Michigan.
Tuesday 3:34 A.M. News Stand at W. Van Buren St. and Wabash Ave.
Mike Kilian received Elnore's mental report while setting out the early morning edition of the Sun Times.
'Three more off Wabash in less than a week?' he pondered. 'Could these have just been wayward incursions, or were they scouts? I'd best keep a sharp eye out in any case.'
He'd certainly never sought the post of Nexus security coordinator. The responsibility of it had fallen on him like a ton of bricks out of a clear blue sky. Some days; it was like Anaconda wrestling and some days were better, but he would do the job to his last breath if need be.
'Strange how powerful a motivator and stabilizing factor, love can be, ' he thought.
Tuesday 3:34 A.M. Hell, Upper level 1.5
Alzor was not just upset. His rage and fury - like a miasma of pain - lay waiting to strike any target of opportunity and could be felt throughout the entire region. Lesser Demons scurried to avoid his path and even those who almost matched his power level were extremely careful in his presence.
'That miserable excuse of a slime mold Hazkor, has failed, ME! If only he had survived his failure. I could have made his screaming last for a minor eternity. But enough of these pleasant daydreams there was work to accomplish.'
'Summon the Council, ' the thought flashed through his domain and in the space of a human heartbeat they stood before him. His gaze swept over the twelve, and his voice followed seconds later, "We need a new plan, get on it," he hissed at them. The chamber instantly emptied like a soap bubble bursting and he returned to his own thoughts of mayhem.
'There has to be a way into the Realm of Men and I will find it, ' he vowed, as grinding fangs played their counterpoint to his total frustration.
Tuesday 3:35 A. M. News Stand at W. Van Buren St. and Wabash Ave.
Something about today's skirmish seemed to trigger long buried memories in Mike's mind. A smile slowly slid across his face as he remembered his first meeting with the Elven Clan.
Michael Shaun Kilian had grown up in and around the Grant Park area of Chicago, reveling in the park's secret trails and hiding places. Some of his earliest and happiest memories were mingled within the environs located there.
One of his favorites was Buckingham Fountain. He could literally sit for hours on end, watching the play of colored lights in the leaping waters.
Perhaps it was this affinity for water that led to his initial contact with the Elven Clan. Then again, perhaps it was just his destiny. The vivid clarity of that first meeting still reached to the depths of his soul.
Having grown up in an Irish household he had heard all the old sagas of the Elven Bright and Dark Courts; of heroes' true and unspeakable villains. But, never in his wildest fantasies did he ever imagine the tales, were based in fact.
The memory of his 'awakening', as he had come to think of it, constantly drifted in the back of his mind and was always accompanied by the, 'Oh yeah. That's why I'm doing this, ' mental nudge.
It was a glorious Chicago summer's day at his fountain and at the age of ten he was enjoying a feast fit for a King. Not one, but count 'em, two, fully loaded Chicago dogs along with a giant icy Coke to wash them down. If this wasn't heaven, it was the next best thing and a young Mike was determined to make it last as long as possible.
But half way through his first dog he caught movement in the fountain that definitely was not water. There were perhaps three or four, of what looked like five-or-six-year-old 'girls', playing in 'his' fountain, right next to the sign that clearly said; "KEEP OUT / NO WADING" and no one was paying them the least bit of attention. People walked right by as if they didn't see them at all. He then noticed something even more perplexing.
Though the 'girls' were laughing and dancing in the spraying water, they never appeared to get wet. This last fact was just too much for his ten-year-old world view and screamed for immediate investigation.
The remaining dog and Coke were left behind, forgotten on the bench. Nearing the pool he blurted out, "Who are you and how can you not get wet?" At this ringing question; all play in the pool ceased. The looks of consternation directed his way made Michael not only flinch, but grab for his fly imagining the worst.
One of the 'girls' approached the pool edge, and bowing, said in a high clear voice, "Greetings to you, Human Mage. What would you have of Clan Elven this fine day?"
Michael remembered how stunned he had been on hearing this, and also remembered his oh-so-eloquent-answer, "Uh, what?"
Then, as if he wasn't already flustered enough, she went and giggled. The fury of a ten-year-old boy, being made fun of by a six-year-old 'girl'! Why, it threatened his grip on sanity for a moment and dropped a red haze across all that he viewed.
He honestly didn't know what would have happened if Elnore had not chosen that moment to arrive. Again, the polite bow and greeting set his mind whirling. Because this time it came from a being straight out of his Irish legends.
If this guy wasn't headed for a costume party, he was the spitting image of what Elven Princes should look like.
He was cased from chin to toe in chased work silver armor. Complete with 'Mr. Spock' ears poking out of a golden waterfall of silken hair and a lovely pair of Emerald Green eyes that any Persian cat would have sold its soul to own. Oh, and let's not forget the delicate looking jewel encrusted sword hanging from his side.
"You're real," the whisper slid from Mike's mouth like a prayer and that marked the moment he fell head over heels in love.
It was also the day he learned that the human race was not alone on the Earth and that other branches of the Faery Clans were doing quite well in downtown Chicago, thank you very much. What was even more startling was that most of what he had absorbed as legend was in fact quite accurate oral history.
So it was, that Michael Shaun Killian found himself adopted by a race from his legends and began his training in the Magecraft that was his by birthright.
Chuckling to himself over the fifteen-year-old memories, Mike shook his head in simple amazement, again thinking how strange the things were that shaped a person's destiny.
Tuesday 3:37 A.M. News Stand at W. Van Buren St. and Wabash Ave.
Elnore nodded his head in greeting to Michael as he passed by the stand, though the prince's dignity was marred somewhat by a twinkle in his eye.
The memory of a ten-year-old boy with mustard and relish dripping from a face set in complete wonder still overlaid in his mind the reality of the Master Mage, ally and friend that Michael had grown into. That memory never failed to raise a chuckle from his soul along with a silent prayer of thanks to Danu.
Magecraft was such an extremely rare talent among humans. Finding a potential Master living right beside his Nexus Grove was more luck than he could ever have dreamed. In the 300 years that he had reigned as this Elfrealm's Prince, he could still count the human Mage talents on less than both hands and only two out of the seven could be considered Master level.