The Runic Falls
Updated: May 20, 2022
In front of the door of the royal study, the guard holds his hand up to deter Micah and Lazlo from entering. “The king is not ready for you.”
Micah stops, glaring in response, “then he should not have called for us.” He barges past the guard swinging the double doors open to the lavishly furnished room. Lazlo groans as he follows since he already knows how this will go.
Liam is in conference with Demetri, the palace commander. He watches as his brother charges towards him. He narrows his eyes at him and nods to Demetri. “We can continue this later, thank you.” Noting the tension, Demetri gives a curt nod followed by a speedy exit.
“Micah,” Liam stands behind the executive-style desk to greet his brother. “Thank you for coming.”
“Spare me,” Micah snaps. “We are here. What is it you want?”
Liam looks to Lazlo, and he shrugs his shoulders. “Have a seat,” he says gesturing to the plush leather chairs across from him.
“I think I will stand, thanks. Can we hurry this along?” Micah snaps.
“Okay, I will be direct,” Liam sits down and leans back in his chair.
“That would be ideal,” Micah replies.
Liam intertwines his fingers and locks his eyes on his brother. “The both of you need to return to your post.”
“No,” Micah challenges him.
“It is not a request,” Liam says firmly.
“My answer has not changed,” Micah replies.
Liam sighs trying to stay civil. “Neither of you have been relieved from your duty. The duty, might I remind you, you begged me for.”
Micah crosses his arms, “things have changed. Gatlin is more than capable of managing the outpost in our absence.”
Liam’s jaw flexes in frustration “While Gatlin is a competent leader, he is not the one who is assigned to be its commander. That, dear brother, is your mantle to carry. You need to continue until new leadership is assigned.”
“Then assign it, now,” he snaps.
Liam slams his fist on the desk. “There is more at stake than some female you found on Earth!”
Micah’s eyes bulge in reaction. “She is not just some female, and you know it! We are needed here, for her!”
Liam takes a deep breath to settle himself. It is always like this with his brother. They are at constant odds with each other. He rubs his temples then speaks in a calmer tone. “The female is recovering. The royal physician is caring for her. What do you think you can do for her that is not already being done?” He looks him in the eye. “She sleeps, Micah, and will continue to do so until she has recovered. I need you to return to your post until I can find your replacement.”
Micah walks to him and braces his arms against the desk. He leans in with a challenging stare. “Why are you doing this? You know who she is to us, who she is to you. Why are you fighting it?”
Liam stands to meet his challenge. “I do not have the luxury of following whatever whim crosses my path. The current stability of the region is trepidatious, and I will not allow the influence of some random female to jeopardize the only hope we have for unity. Now, you will do as I have ordered, or I will have you thrown into the dungeon!”
They are at a stand-off. Lazlo walks over and places a hand on Micah’s shoulder. Micah shift’s his gaze to him. He gives him an empathetic look, and Micah reluctantly turns back to Liam. “Fine! We will go. But see that nothing happens to Kyra. Should any harm come to her, brother, it will be you I will seek retribution from.”
“Go, Micah,” Liam growls, “before we both say something we will regret.” Micah scoffs as he turns for the door.
Emotionally charged from their interaction, Liam walks to the window and looks out. He waits to hear the door click, then braces his hands against the sill. He is so selfish! Doesn’t he understand who he is, what he represents? He can’t just abandon his duty because he met someone new. Liam runs his fingers through his hair.
He gazes out the window to the starving foliage of the palace courtyard. Rain has become so elusive that it almost seems mythical. Natural resources are scarce. Outposts similar to that on Earth are their only reliable source for supplies. The blue horizon of the ocean is a tease since it is another natural resource that has been exhausted.
This female is a complication that he cannot afford right now. He is confident that her story is complex. How was she on Earth, of all places? Speaking with the doctor, she has experienced extreme levels of trauma, and something prevents her from healing as she should. She must remain a secret, or everything could fall apart. The timing for her arrival could not be worse.
Micah flings the door open to their apartment. “My brother is an idiot!” he belts out as Lazlo closes the door. He begins pacing back and forth. “He has no idea what he is doing!” Lazlo leans against the counter and crosses his arms, watching him. “He is so stubborn!” Lazlo nods, waiting for him to calm down. Micah spins to him. “Aren’t you going to say anything?”
“I don’t know what to say,” he shrugs.
Micah becomes defensive. “What do you mean? Do you want to go back to Earth?”
Lazlo sighs. “The female is safe here. There is little to be done until she has recovered. We don’t know how long that will take or what to expect once she does.”
“What do you mean?”
Lazlo places a hand on his shoulder. “I would like to learn more about her. I think that can be best accomplished on Earth.”
Micah furrows his brow. He had not thought of this. He has many questions too. As he considers, his temper starts to subside. He looks Lazlo in the eye. “You are right. The answers to our questions aren’t here. Even if she were awake, I don’t think she would be forthcoming.”
“Let’s go back and see what we can learn. We can start with her phone,” Lazlo says as he walks to the counter.
“What are you doing?” Micah starts to follow him.
“Calling Gatlin to get a report. He will want an update as well.” He taps a small crystal pyramid, and a holographic image of Gatlin’s face appears. “Report,” he orders.
“Business as usual,” Gatlin replies. “Nothing new to report here. How is the female?”
“Resting, healing. She woke briefly then fell back to sleep. It will be several weeks before she fully recovers. We are en route to return. We are expected to be there in two hours.”
Gatlin raises a surprised eyebrow but decides not to comment. “Understood; I will have a full report ready and waiting upon your arrival.”
“See that you do. We have much to discuss,” Lazlo taps the crystal, and Gatlin’s face disappears.
Micah waits with Lazlo in his plushly furnished office. Blinded by the late morning sun, he walks to the wall of polarized glass and dims the beaming light. They both look over when the door opens, and Gatlin walks in with Kim. “Do you have it?” Lazlo asks from behind his antique desk.
“I also have her tablet,” he places both items down before sitting in one of the leather chairs across from him. He gestures to his associate, “Kim has been kind enough to volunteer hacking into both of them for us.” Gatlin grins at his associate’s annoyed expression. “Why don’t you set up your laptop on the coffee table and couch while we meet.” With an eye roll, Kim retrieves the tablet and phone.
“Anything new to report?” Micah asks as he sits in the leather chair next to him.
“Not really. The auction for the grimoire is moving forward as planned. There was a last-minute addition that I did not expect.” Lazlo leans in with interlaced fingers. “Atticus Severan made an appearance.”
“The vampire?” Micah asks in disbelief.
“Yes,” Gatlin replies.
Micah and Lazlo share a curious look. “What did he do?” Lazlo asks.
“He played poker. He is on pace to be at the auction,” Gatlin tells them.
“What would Atticus want with a grimoire?” Micah asks.
“I don’t know,” Gatlin replies. “I almost didn’t let him participate but didn’t have a reason not to allow it, so I let him. He inquired about the both of you.”
“Us?” Lazlo asks in surprise.
“Yes, I found that odd as well,” Gatlin says. Lazlo leans back in his chair with a perplexed expression, rubbing his chin.
“Do you think this has anything to do with?”
“I don’t know,” Lazlo interrupts Micah shaking his head. “When we found her, she was being chased by a vampire horde. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but now I wonder if there could be a connection.”
“Those scars,” Lazlo looks at Micah. “She said they were from vampire attacks.”
“What would they want with her?” Gatlin asks.
“I don’t know,” Lazlo replies. “It is not typical for vampires to hunt other enchanted beings. The consequences of that kind of action could insight unwanted repercussions. We just assumed that when we found her, it was a random act, but maybe it wasn’t.”
“But she is Fae,” Gatlin says.
“On Earth,” Lazlo reminds him. “Very much out of her natural element and away from her people. Working with a coven, which I still don’t understand.”
They all turn their heads when Kim announces, “I’m in!” Micah walks over picking up the phone from the coffee table. “If you tap on google maps, it will tell you everywhere the phone has been.” Micah nods as he opens up the app and follows the directory to her timeline.
Lazlo notices his surprised expression. “What is it?”
“She is very well-traveled,” he says to him as he walks over.
“Where has she been?” Lazlo asks taking the phone. Looking at the screen, he answers his own question, “I see.” He taps on the device. “What the heck was she doing?”
“Here,” Kim hands Micah her tablet. “I have to go. I reset the lock screens, so they don’t need a code.”
“Thank you,” Gatlin says with a head nod as Kim leaves.
Micah sits and starts investigating the contents on her tablet. “She was looking for artifacts.”
“Artifacts?” Gatlin asks.
Micah nods as he flips the tablet for him to see, “yes. Her email is loaded with….” Micah chuckles to himself.
“What?” Lazlo looks up from her phone.
“She was quite the freelancer,” he shakes his head. “I made her an offer to work for us too.”
Lazlo smirks. “Her phone is loaded with missed calls and messages.” He turns his attention to Gatlin. “Has anyone unusual come around looking for her?”
“I don’t think so. If they have, they have not made themselves be known by asking questions,” Gatlin replies.
Lazlo nods as he taps on the screen again. “I found her address.”
Micah’s head snaps up. “Where is it?”
He looks a Micah, “near Little Switzerland. You want to go and check it out?”
“Yes,” Micah stands placing the tablet on the desk.
Lazlo nods and looks at Gatlin. “We should return in a few hours.”
They pull into the parking lot of her apartment building. “That’s her car,” Micah says stepping out of the passenger seat of the Tesla.
“We will bring it back with us,” Lazlo says as he closes the car door.
“She lived here?” Micah scoffs at the nondescript siding and basic structure.
Lazlo looks at her phone. “That’s what it says, and it looks like she was on the second floor.”
They walk to the entrance and magic their way past the lock. “That is a lot of curries,” Micah says rubbing the burn from his eyes. Lazlo grunts in agreement as he leads the way up the narrow steps. He refers to her phone again when they are in front of her door. “Is this it?” Lazlo nods as he magics them in.
Shock comes over them when they see how small and basic the space is. Micah looks over when he notices Lazlo’s smile. “I can smell her.” Micah smiles and nods in appreciation as they both start exploring. It is so sparse that there is not much to look at. The white walls are bare, and the furniture is modest. “Reading through her texts, I don’t think she was going to be here much longer.”
Micah opens her fridge. “What did they say?”
Lazlo stands in front of her bedroom. “Something about moving into the coven house.”
“Fridge is empty,” Micah announces. “Food doesn’t appear to be a priority for her.”
“Micah,” Lazlo calls. He goes to Lazlo bent over the bed. “We are not the only ones to have been here.”
“What do you mean?” He waves for Micah to help him. They reach under gripping the box spring. When they flip it over, they see a crest burned into the floor. “What the…?”
“That is a vampire’s crest. This space has been marked, so others know that she has been claimed.” Lazlo looks around for other evidence.
“How did you know?” Micah stares at the crest in disbelief. “Is this…?”
“I don’t know,” Lazlo tells him. “I don’t think the female knows either.”
“Kyra!” Their heads snap around when someone calls out her name. “I saw your car. I know you are here!” They rush to the door tucking in close to the wall. “Mom is so pi….” Micah jumps out and grabs him as he enters the bedroom. Jeremy tries to struggle and scream against his hold with no success.
“Calm down!” Micah tells him. “There is no point in fighting. We don’t want to hurt you.” Jeremy struggles some more until he realizes there is no escaping his grip. “Okay, we just want to talk. I will move my hand as long as you don’t scream. Agreed?” Micah feels his head nod and uncovers his mouth.
“Where is my sister?” Jeremy demands.
“She is not your sister,” Lazlo says in a flat tone. Jeremy tries to pull away then makes an audible wince when Micah twists his wrist. “She is Fae.”
“Where is she?” Jeremy snaps.
“She is no longer your concern,” Lazlo says in a condescending tone.
“Why did you think she was here?” Micah asks. Jeremy cuts his eyes at him, then to her phone sitting on the counter.
Lazlo follows his gaze and sighs. “Who else would be tracking her phone?”
“That is none of your concern,” Jeremy growls, and Lazlo belts out a laugh.
“Can you tell us why she was here, working with the coven?” Micah asks.
He looks at them like they said something stupid. “She is my sister. She was born here. Where else would she go?”
Micah sighs, “I don’t think he knows anything.”
“I agree,” Lazlo says. “We can….”
“Lux caeca!” Jeremy yells. A blinding flash of light floods the room. Lazlo and Micah cover their eyes as Jeremy grabs Kyra’s phone and runs out the door. After the light fades, they rush to the window and watch as he drives away on his bike.
“That could be a problem,” Micah looks at Lazlo.
Lazlo groans, “we will have to increase security.”
The hotel bar is overflowing with people and enchanted beings, waiting for service. Gatlin is ping-ponging between drink orders and backroom admittance. The other two bartenders zip around to assist, but neither can engage with the enchanted since their sight is spelled to gloss over them. “A little busy?” Micah quips as he jumps in.
“Nice of you to join us,” Gatlin says pulling down on a beer tap.
“Hey, he’s back,” one of the other bartenders calls out.
Micah replies with an appreciative head nod as he reaches for vodka. “How did it go?” Gatlin asks as he slides two beers across the counter.
Micah starts to mix a drink. “We got her stuff and her car, and found her laptop, too.”
Gatlin gestures to a customer for their drink order, “I will let Kim know.”
Micah maneuvers past Gatlin, “we found something weird.”
Gatlin reaches for the whisky, “yeah, like what?”
Micah nods pressing a button to let in an enchanted “a crest.” Gatlin gives him a sideways look as he grabs a coaster. “Yeah, have no idea what that is all about.”
Gatlin places a bottle on the coaster. “There is nothing about this female that makes any sense.”
Micah nods reaching for some glasses. “A human claiming to be her brother interrupted us.” He reaches for bourbon.
Gatlin grabs a lime. “What happened?”
Micah slides a filled glass across. “Lazlo enlightened him that she is not his sister, and he used magic to get away from us.”
Gatlin smirks as he mixes a margarita. “Bested by her little brother. It sounds like you two have gotten a little rusty.”
Micah belts out a laugh as he allows more enchanted to pass. “Your one to talk.”
Gatlin is about to reply when his gaze fixes on the next patron. People step aside and stare as a tall, stylish man approaches. His half-buttoned collared shirt advertises his well-defined features. He looks as if he just stepped off the beach with his light olive skin and gray eyes. “Atticus, it is good to see you again.” He dips his head in acknowledgment then uses his hand to move the layers of light brown shoulder-length hair from his face. People make audible gasps as they watch him. “Here for another round?”
Micah watches him as his gaze shifts to the booth where Kyra sat. Atticus turns his attention to Micah and smiles. “It is good to see you have returned, your highness. I trust your travels were uneventful.”
Micah narrows his eyes. “I don’t recall going anywhere of significance.”
The corner of Atticus’s mouth curls. “Your establishment appears to be in good standing.”
Micah cocks his head. “You appear to have developed a sudden interest.”
Atticus lifts a brow. “The interest is far from sudden, but I do appreciate a prime location.”
Micah grins and is about to reply when Gatlin interrupts. “Should I buzz you in?” Atticus cuts his eyes at him as if he had just been insulted. He dips his head and lets his fingers drag along the counter as he walks with his sight fixed on Micah.
Micah’s attention breaks away from watching Atticus when he hears someone clear their throat. “Evening Isaac. The usual?”
“That would be great,” he replies as Micah reaches for the vodka. “I wanted to ask you about Karen.”
Micah returns to the counter and starts pouring. “Who?”
“The woman you had just hired,” Isaac replies.
Micah has to think for a moment then he remembers. “Oh, Karen, yes, now I remember.” Isaac waits for him to elaborate. “Um,” he stutters, thinking about what to say. “She has to work a different schedule for personal reasons. Sorry, Isaac, she won’t be available.” He slides his drink across.
“That is disappointing,” Isaac replies. “She looked like a good time.”
“Buzz you in,” Micah has to bite back the growl that is starting to form. Isaac nods, oblivious to Micah’s tone. He turns to Gatlin. “Things look like they are slowing down. I’m going to talk with Lazlo.”
Gatlin nods, “I’ll call you if I need you.”
Lazlo is watching the security screens of the game room when Micah walks in. “I see Atticus has returned.”
Micah leans against the desk next to him, and they watch, “yes. He made it a point to call me by my title, and he knew we were away.”
Lazlo looks at him about to say something when the small crystal pyramid on his desk beeps. They both turn just before Lazlo taps on it. A hologram of Liam’s face appears. “You two are looking grim.”
“There have been some interesting developments,” Lazlo says as he returns his attention to the screen.
“Developments?” Liam asks.
“We hacked Kyra’s phone and tablet. We found out where she lived and went to her apartment.” Micah shifts his attention between Liam and the screens.
“We found a vampire’s crest under her bed,” Micah tells him.
“Do you remember who Atticus Severan is?” Micah asks.
“I do not focus on Earth affairs, so no,” Liam replies.
“He is an 1800-year-old vampire, and he is in the hotel,” Lazlo tells him.
“You think there is a connection, then?” Liam asks.
“It is quite the coincidence if there isn’t,” Micah says to him.
“That would be quite the coincidence.” Everyone whirls around when they hear Atticus’s voice. Micah jumps to his feet when he sees him sitting in one of the leather chairs across from the desk.
“Clever,” Lazlo says looking at the monitor and seeing Atticus is still participating in the game.
“Children are so easily impressed,” Atticus crosses his legs reclining in the chair. Micah and Lazlo share an unimpressed look. “It has come to my attention that we share a mutual interest.”
“And what would that be?” Lazlo asks.
“So coy,” Atticus quips. “It is adorable that you think you have the wit to match my own.” He mockingly puts his hands up, “youth.” His expression becomes more serious as he looks them in the eyes. “The female Fae.”
“You will have to be more specific. There is more than one female Fae,” Micah says to him.
Atticus smirks, “to shay. The one named Kyra. I believe you visited her apartment this afternoon.”
“What does a vampire want with a Fae female?” Micah asks.
“That is not your concern,” he replies.
Lazlo’s chair creaks as he leans back intertwining his fingers. “We cannot help you.”
Atticus lifts an eyebrow. “It would be in the best interest of everyone if you offered your assistance.”
“We are Fae; our interests are our own,” Lazlo tells him.
Atticus rests his head on a bent elbow. “Do you know how this place came to be?” He continues when they respond with indifferent expressions. “I remember when your predecessors came and made their proposal with the enchanted of this land. The mutual benefits that were proposed and the payment that was offered. Payment has come due, and my good graces will come to an end should there be an implied debt incurred.”
“Nothing has been implied,” Micah says to him. “We are Fae, as is the female. The concerns of a vampire do not interest us.”
Atticus grins at him. Micah stumbles backward when Atticus appears in front of him. Atticus reaches out his hand to grab his neck, but Micah is just as fast. He grips his wrist and wheels to slam him against the wall. Atticus evaporates to smoke and takes advantage of Micah’s pivot. He materializes slammings him in the gut, sending him soaring across the room. Micah rolls on the floor, and Lazlo rushes to him with a sword in hand. He stands over him, ready for conflict, as Micah coughs struggling to his feet.
Atticus stands proudly, tugging on the corners of his jacket. “The female has been claimed and should be returned, directly. The repercussions, should you choose to challenge the claim, will not play out favorably for you.” A sinister grin appears across his face as he watches Micah glared at him in challenge, then he disappears.
Lazlo helps him to his feet. “You alight?” Micah nods, trying to hide his embarrassment.
“Lazlo, Micah,” Liam calls out to them. “Our forces are stretched too thin for me to send you additional support. What do you recommend?”
“We are not giving her up,” Micah proclaims.
“Agreed, but this is far from over,” Liam replies.
“We can make some adjustments here,” Lazlo interjects. “We should consider a contingency plan.”
“Losing the outpost is not something we can consider. It is a crucial supply point for us. I am not going to let our people starve over a female,” Liam tells them.
“I won’t let you hand her over to them,” Micah barks.
“Then find a solution!” Liam barks back just before his face vanishes.
Micah slams his fist against the wall. “I can’t believe him!”
Lazlo returns his sword to the concealed location under his desk. “We need more information.” He looks over his shoulder at Atticus is still playing as if nothing happened. Atticus looks up and winks at the camera as he puts a card on the table. “Why do they want her so badly?”
Micah sits on the couch scrolling through Kyra’s tablet in Lazlo’s office when he feels Kim nudge his arm. He looks over and sees a laptop is being handed to him. “Here, it’s done. You have access.” Micah nods taking it as Kim stands and places items in a bag. “I have to go. I have class.”
“Thanks,” Micah places the tablet on the coffee table and shifts his attention. He smirks when he sees the Elders Scrolls screen saver. He notices four folders on her desktop: Fae, Vampire, Coven, and Freelance. To appease his curiosity, he clicks on the Fae folder. Thumbnails images of parchments and old paintings fill the monitor. “You were trying to learn more about us, huh.” He shakes his head and closes the folder.
He clicks on the coven folder and scoffs. “What the heck?” Thumbnail images of grimoires, old relics, and enchanted beings appear. He groans when he recognizes some of the beings and the items. The door clicks, and he looks up.
“Find anything interesting?” Lazlo asks as he walks to his desk.
“I would like to know how she came to be in the service of this coven. She was working with some other than reputable individuals,” Micah closes the coven folder and clicks on the vampire folder. “Whoa!”
“What is it?” Lazlo asks as he sits behind the desk.
Micah looks up at him. “She knew about the crest.”
Lazlo looks at him in disbelief. “What?”
“I’ll put it on the big screen,” he says as he clicks to share. Lazlo spins in his chair as images of the crest from under her bed fill the display. “Look, there is more.” He clicks on a picture of parchment with lettering on it.
“What does it say?” Lazlo asks as he leans in.
“I think this is some of her notes,” he clicks on a word document. “Quench the blood hex of Lamia’s offspring bound to the night and shunned by the light. Touched by eternity’s stillness, forsaken from heaven’s blessings. Seek the celestial progeny and drink the seraph’s essence to break the shackles that bind the posterity to obscurity.”
“What does all of that mean?” Lazlo asks with a baffled look on his face.
“That she knew what they wanted,” Micah replies.
Lazlo turns to him, “is there anything else?”
“Some information about Atticus and other vampires. It looks like she was tracing their lineage and trying to learn more about them,” Micah replies as he scans through images and documents.
“Why have they staked a claim on her?” Lazlo asks rubbing his chin.
“We have a problem!” They both whip around when Gatlin bursts into the room. He picks up the remote on Lazlo’s desk, and video of Kyra’s parked car replaces the images from her laptop. They watch as two women try to break into it.
Micah puts the laptop to the side and walks over. “Who are they?”