Vampire Slayer Ferdie, Chapter two:
I should have duct taped his beak shut!
After much squabbling, aborted flights for freedom, more bickering, debates over what to pack and the occasional booting (accompanied by comments about stupid kiwis who don't know when to keep quiet) the motley and somewhat beleaguered group got underway. Ferdie was traveling with his own private army of sorts, Ferdia and Squeaks had automatically insisted that they were going too, and Beak dragged a noticeably reluctant Bob merrily along. Iiwi, once informed of the situation, actually volunteered to tag along and lend a hand. The reasoning behind this decision was simple - knowing this crew as well as she did, not only were the likely to get in trouble, they would probably actively seek out any type of trouble they could find, even if it was by accident. Basically they needed as much help as possible. The Professor, Hazel and Ravyn watched in amazement as their new companions packed up necessities for the trip. The biggest debates were over what kind of weapons they would need (Ravyn personally was hoping they wouldn't bring that awful smelly white vegetable) and how much of Ferdie's extensive collection of vampire lore he could take. Ferdia won the argument when she calmly pointed out that *he* had to carry whatever he brought. Finally they all assembled in the living room of Ferdie's place.
Everyone is prepared, yes? The Professor sounded distinctly uncertain. Very good then, we shall go now. Hazel dear, please remember to keep the portal open longer since we must take so many back with us.
Hazel nodded. Yes Uncle. Master Ferdie why don't you stay at my side, so I can make sure you make it safely through. She gaze him a look of complete innocence.
Spotting the sheer panic on his face, Ravyn sighed and shook her head. Don't worry Hazel, I'll make sure the Slayer crosses over.
Hazel glared at her but was quickly distracted by her Uncle. It will be much easier if we all hold hands. Less likely for someone to be lost this way.
With minor grumbling, they all linked up and the Professor signaled to Hazel to begin the spell, placing a supportive hand on her shoulder. Taking a deep breath, the young witch began.
Oh spirits of guidance, deliverance and union, hear the plea I send to thee, a gate between worlds you must make, bridge the way we must take. I offer up this humble troupe to be transported along your blessed route, give us your protection, your guidance too so we may see this journey through.
With the final spoken words they were surrounded by pure light then compressed and shoved painfully through a distorted barrier to tumble out into a whole new world.
Please tell me that's not how we get home, Ferdie groaned, trying to stop the lovely merry-go-round someone had put his head on. He shoved Beak aside and managed to get wobbly to his feet before disappearing behind a bush to introduce this new world to his breakfast. From somewhere beneath the pile fur and feathers that was trying to reassemble itself into several different people there came the sound of angry grumbling.
Everyone get off me, Bob shouted from his place at the bottom. Heroically charging forward to be first in line had its drawbacks he was discovering. Squeaks that had better be your elbow in my back.
Actually, it's my knee, Squeaks calmly replied as he staggered to his feet. The world continued to spin for a second before settling into place. He reached down and helped Ferdia to her feet, holding her steady while she recovered.
The disorientation should end in a moment, Ravyn informed them. She was standing off to the side, looking completely unaffected.
How come you're alright, Bob demanded as he crawled groggily to his feet before sitting back down with a thump. This is worse then getting decaf, he moaned, clutching his head.
Ravyn shrugged. Just used to it I guess, she muttered evasively. It doesn't always have the same effect, depending on the person. Your friend Iiwi is also well.
Sure enough, Iiwi had already taken to the sky, scouting their new location. She waved merrily as she did a few aerial back flips and both Bob and Beak moaned, diving for Ferdie's recently vacated bushes.
Feeling better, Ravyn asked him, noticing he was a bit steadier on his feet. He managed a small nod before stumbling sideways. Fortunately Ravyn caught him and set him upright again. We'll keep going when you all feel up to it. We aren't too far from the village of Hallmar, you'll be welcome there.
Excellent idea, the Professor said quietly while he rubbed his stomach. We'll be able to rest properly. Sorry about the unpleasant trip, it's usually not so awful. I suspect Hazel had problems carrying so many of us across. Don't worry, it becomes easier after practice.
Practice, hah! Bob slumped down next to a tree. I *never* want to go through that again as long as I live!
Too bad because that's our only way home, Ferdia replied. Unless you want to be stuck in a world without coffee for the rest of your life.
The concept was too horrific for the poor yellow kiwi to even contemplate and all he could do was shudder. Beak finally staggered back into the clearing they had appeared in and Bob leveled an evil glare at him. This is all your fault. I should have duct taped his beak shut!
Once everyone could walk in a straight line again, they moved out, walking a slightly lopsided path through the woods they had landed in. The Professor kept up a running commentary on their surroundings, pointing out fascinating bits of flora and fauna and occasionally answering a question asked by the newcomers. It turned out that the owl had a wealth of knowledge on just about any subject in his world. Both Squeaks and Ferdia were starting to have a good time, they were in desperate need of a vacation and, if you discounted the awful traveling method, so far the trip had been pretty relaxing. The new world they found themselves in was unusual but appealing. Sure the grass was green and the sky blue, but here Mother Nature seemed determined to use every color in the spectrum. Tiny birds in a rainbow of colors happily chirped at them from the braches of the trees that towered over them. Insects that vaguely looked like butterflies floated past, their wings done in weird but intriguing patterns. The flowers they passed were definitely different but equally lovely.
Iiwi decided to join them on the ground for a little while. Your world is exceptionally beautiful, she commented to the Professor who smiled proudly. I've traveled extensively and rarely have I seen a place so untainted.
Thank you lass, he replied. It's true we work hard to preserve nature here. Granted we have machines and the like, as your world does. I believe it is the nature of all creatures to search for more efficient ways to accomplish things, but we are usually very careful. Plus we have magic to help us. It can be quite useful. We do what we can to protect our world. That's why we need the Slayer, without him, all this beauty would be lost.
I'm not sure I understand. Just who or what is this threat to your world?
The owl gave a huge sigh, readjusting the rims of his glasses as he did. Tis all bound up in our history it is. You see, long ago, farther back than just about anyone can remember, farther back then the stories go or our written history for that matter. Some great bloody force created a barrier that divides our land. We've no idea where it came from or how far it goes, but we know it was put there by magic to protect us.
To protect you from what, Bob demanded. He and the others had gotten closer as the owl began his tale.
From the fiends, was the reply, voice gone dark and alarming. Terrible creatures straight out of one's own nightmares, they are. Vampires, banshees, the werewolven and all manner of other ghoulish monsters safely kept back from our own land of course. We think the barrier was put there to shield us mundanes, their name for us. Normally a fiend can't cross the barrier, only we mundanes can. However, over time the magic wall seems to have weakened some and those foul creatures have been getting loose into our world. Twasn't a problem until that Master Vampire made it across. Powerfully strong he is and he's brought many a minion across now too. Between them and the ones he's enslaved, he has quite a force built up, too much for us to handle so far.
And you think *my* brother is going to save you from him, Ferdia muttered, the skepticism in her voice reaching new levels.
Absolutely, lass. Your brother is our savior.
Before Ferdia could launch into precise detail on how that was not only the most ridiculous statement she had ever heard, but also by far the most mind boggling, Ravyn reappeared now tucked back into her cloak. She had been walking at Ferdie's side for sometime but when the Professor had started talking she disappeared.
The village is near, she addressed the group. Just over the next rise. You had better brace yourselves; some of you would be considered an oddity in our world.
How much of an understatement that was became all to clear as they entered the tiny but impressive village. Uniformly built with sand-colored stones and what appeared to be brown stucco roofs, it almost seemed like they were in any of dozens of quaint European towns, walking along well-maintained cobblestone streets. Hallmar was adorably charming and amazingly clean, almost like a picture-perfect postcard. However, while the travelers gawked at the village, the villagers openly stared at most of them. In seconds the curious natives, some bold enough to reach out and touch a feather in amazement surrounded them. The reason behind their fascination quickly became apparent. While most of the village seemed composed of avians and rodents (with the occasional feline), their fur and feathers varied between black, white and numerous shades of brown with the occasional patch of gray here and there. The bright and colorful plumage of several members of the group truly astounded them.
Terribly sorry about all this, the Professor called out as the crowd swept them along. I should have mentioned it sooner. It seems to be the price we pay for having such a colorful world; we ourselves are rather dull looking in comparison. I must admit, Master Ferdie's appearance surprised even myself when I first laid eyes on him. A blue avian is completely unheard of here. Anyway, I must find the village council and speak with them. Don't worry, Hazel will take care of everything. With that he disappeared into the swarm of natives.
Hazel did her best to gather the rest of their motley group up and away from the curious. That was when Ferdia noticed Ravyn had vanished again as Hazel took advantage of her absence to glomp poor Ferdie and attach herself to his side. Eventually most of the crowd wandered off and they escaped to a nearby tavern. Food and drinks were declared on the house and Hazel quietly explained that showing kindness to strangers was a large part of their culture.
To do a good deed or help out someone in need is considered a blessing on one's spirit, the calico spoke as she handed out platters of food. It may seem a bit silly to sophisticated folks like yourselves, she added, blushing.
I think it's a great tradition, Beak assured her and most of the group agreed. Bob, however, was too busy poking at his plate in a suspicious manner.
Okay, what is all this, he finally demanded, stumped.
Hazel pointed to the center of their platters. Well, the main bowl is mixed vegetables, steamed and spiced. It's a common dish, but awfully good. Then there's berry paste to go on the toasted loaves as well as some creamed milk.
I think she means jam and cheese, Ferdie whispered to a confused Bob and Beak.
I hope you all like it, Hazel continued. I didn't think anyone would want fish, especially with the creamed milk, it's a delicacy in this region. Oh and I ordered the very best dessert for us, fried plantains in walnut and cranberry sauce. It's very popular and absolutely delicious. She happily dug in, missing the varying degrees of disgust on most of the faces. Except for Beak who just looked confused again.
Sensing an opportunity, Bob leaned over and quietly informed Beak of just what plantains were and how one might go about frying them.
With a strangled squeak of Heathens! Beak passed out cold.
Sighing, Ferdia glared at Bob, then resumed eating while Ferdie and Squeaks tried desperately not to fall over laughing.
The sun was beginning to set when the Professor reappeared and informed them that arrangements had been made for them to spend the night there in the village while he sent off messages to various important people. Whilst their rooms were prepared, they were invited to the village square to meet some of the villagers and talk amongst the people they had come to help. Once again Hazel was their escort as the owl vanished again and Ravyn had yet to make an appearance at all. The village square turned out to be a lovely spot with a well-tended garden, a fountain and even some stone benches thoughtfully covered with cushions. Several villagers had already gathered there but, unfortunately for our intrepid group of heroes, this group was far from friendly.
So this is the incredible Slayer come to save us all, a female wren said nastily, pointing at Ferdie. He doesn't look very impressive. If he's our savior then we're all doomed.
Feather ruffled at the wren's offensive attitude, Ferdia stepped forward, prepared to teach the bird some manners. Knowing his partner, Squeaks snagged her arm to keep her in place and Hazel moved in front of the group, fur bristling.
That was extremely rude, Miss Penny, the calico hissed. You owe Master Ferdie an apology! He and his companions came here of their own free will to help us. In their world they are great warriors and we should be honored to have them here.
Fortunately no one heard Iiwi's muffled snickering.
The wren Penny snorted and several of her companions started laughing. I always said you were nothing but a brainless ball of fluff, thinking you were better then everyone else just cuz that fancy owl came and took you away to be a witch. He stuffed your head full of nonsense and knocked out what little wit you had left. Ain't no one powerful enough to stand up to the master vampire, that fiend already proved that! Each village sent its strongest fighters against him and *none* came back. If our strongest and bravest couldn't stop that foul beast then what chance does that scrawny, weird-looking bird?
By that point, Squeaks had Ferdia restrained by both arms, though he was seriously debating letting her go so she could teach the wren a lesson. Iiwi definitely looked like she would join in, and Bob might be inclined to start booting anything that came near him. However, before anyone could react, Hazel launched herself at Penny, claws already out, hissing and spitting in true catly fashion.
For a moment no one moved, too stunned to react. Hazel may have been petite but she was definitely a scrappy fighter if you pushed her hard enough. Finally Beak and Iiwi dove into the fray, pulling the pissed off feline away from her opponent. A couple of the wren's supporters also moved in to pull the bird off to safety. But Penny obviously wasn't done as she broke free and came charging at her rival, screaming some sort of weird war cry.
Suddenly a figure in a crimson cloak stepped in front of her, effectively bringing her to a halt. Ravyn drew back her hood and glared at all of them, causing several villagers wet themselves and run away in terror. Even Penny backed away, though she glared back.
Get out of my way, the wren practically screeched. That little brat attacked me.
Ravyn took in the many scratches covering the bird then turned to Hazel who was missing a few patches of fur. Indeed, though you must have said something particularly vicious to set off our normally pacifistic Hazel. Knowing you, that probably wasn't too hard.
Penny sputtered for a moment before recovering. The cat is a fool! As for you, *you* shouldn't even be allowed in our village, she spat. You're nothing but an abomination that should have been destroyed a long time ago.
The mouse turned back to her and the rest of the cowards behind her fearfully slunk away. It was obvious that below the bravado, the wren was scared. I could care less about your opinion of me, Penny Wren. The use of her full name seemed to deflate the bird. However, you've done a brilliant job of insulting the Slayer and his companions. I do believe you owe them an apology.
Ravyn's superior tone was enough to anger Penny and she sneered. I don't believe *he's* the Slayer.
Ah. So you question the wisdom of the most powerful and respected among the Learned. You think that *you* know more then he does, could translate and study the ancient texts, decipher the prophecy and use the clues it yields to find a much better candidate than Master Ferdie? Then we shall go see him at once. I'm sure he could benefit from your vast knowledge and I know he would welcome your assistance since he has apparently made a huge mistake.
From the shadows that had gathered around the square as night fell (don't worry, it sustained only minor damage) came the sound of laughter, enraging the wren even further. Humiliated she stormed off and Ravyn bowed to their audience as applause broke out. That was a very stupid thing to do, she quietly informed Hazel who hung her head in shame.
I'm sorry, the cat whispered. She just made me so mad! She's so mean and-and
well mean. I told uncle it was a bad idea to come to Hallmar. A couple of nightingales came forward and led Hazel away to have her wounds tended.
What's going on, Ferdia demanded. Who was that?
Ravyn sighed. A problem, one I'm afraid we're going to encounter in most villages, especially in this area.
Then why bring us here, Squeaks inquired.
Hallmar is the village Hazel was born in. I thought we would be more welcome here than anywhere else and we are, the Professor said as he joined their group. Unfortunately, I forgot about Miss Penny Wren, a most unpleasant young lady. I'm afraid she was never very found of Hazel's family, as they were respectable and much admired in this area.
Plus she's a troublemaker, Ravyn muttered.
Why was she so hostile? The question came from Iiwi, who frowned at a few gawkers still lurking about. We're here to help these people, you'd think they would appreciate it.
Please don't be offended, the Professor replied, most of them are. Dozens have even pledged to help in whatever way they came. The Slayer has much support, I assure you. However there are some who think the situation in hopeless. You must understand that this Master Vampire has been terrorizing our people for sometime and many of our finest warriors have gone to fight him. None have been successful. A lot of decent and brave souls were lost, a devastating blow for my people. It can be difficult to accept, the idea that where those warriors failed, an outsider will succeed. They aren't ungrateful just angry.
Squeaks nodded slowly. That makes sense. Some people have trouble accepting help, especially from strangers. They don't know anything about us but they've been told we're going to save them since they couldn't save themselves.
Thank you for understanding, the Professor replied with a smile. I'm sorry you had to encounter such unpleasantness so soon. The people of our world are honorable, please don't judge them be this unpleasantness.
Hazel rejoined the group and apologized for her early behavior. If you will all follow me I will take you to the inn where you can rest for the night.
Tomorrow we'll leave for the base camp, Ravyn added. You'll be safe there and the soldiers wish to meet Master Ferdie. They are preparing for the Slayers arrival even as we speak. Now, if you'll excuse me, there are still things to do before the next part of our trip. Nodding to the Professor, Ravyn disappeared back into the darkness.
Wait, Ferdia called out too late. We aren't going anywhere until I get one more explanation!
What troubles you, Miss Ferdia? Hazel asked solicitously.
When that mouse stepped between you and the bird, she backed off and so did all of her little followers. They acted like they were afraid of Ravyn. Why?
Hazel bit her lip and glanced nervously at her uncle who heaved a sigh. That, child, is a long and difficult explanation best left for the morning when you are all refreshed, came what the owl thought was a perfectly reasonable response. However, as intelligent as the preeminent Learned was, he had never in his life encountered anyone quite as stubborn as Ferdia. Squeaks told him as much, earning a smack from his partner.
I want to know what the deal is with Ravyn. Who is she, and what's with the vanishing act?
Very well, the Professor replied, settling himself on a bench. I suggest you all make yourselves comfortable, this may take awhile. After a bit of shifting about and a few hysterics they sat. The reason those villagers acted as though they were afraid of Ravyn is because they are. That is also something you will encounter wherever we go. Ravyn is a good lass and does her best to make herself scarce as much as possible so not to bother people. Oh, and most of the time, we mundanes treat her kindly. But there are some who loathe and or fear her.
Ferdia was about to demand why when her brother cut her off. Wait, 'we mundanes'? Isn't Ravyn just like the rest of you?
Not quite. Ravyn has a rather mixed up and painful heritage. Her father was quite normal - a land governor, I believe, someone of much importance, but nothing too remarkable. The problem lies with Ravyn's mother - she was a fiend, a vampire to be precise.
How the heck did that happen?
That I'm not aware of, the Professor primly replied. Undoubtedly there was some sort of seduction of some sort. You all are young enough to imagine how those things happen. What's remarkable is the fiend did not just kill him. That's usually the standard result from such instances. Instead she bore him a child, Ravyn. Truly an astounding occurrence, from a purely scientific point of view, as we have always believed that simply wasn't possible. Naturally Ravyn's father tried to have the fiend killed but the blasted thing escaped back across the barrier with the mouseling.
That's awful, Iiwi snarled. He tried to kill the mother of his child? What about Ravyn?
The owl shifted uncomfortably. It is an understandable reaction. This was an unnatural birth and, as far as I am aware, a singular occurrence. Ravyn is unique, fortunately. Anyway, it is my understanding that even the fiends objected to the young ladies birth as her mother was killed the moment her secret was discovered. Ravyn was still young, but she managed to escape, and fled back across the barrier. I suspect her it is her father's blood that allows her to cross back and forth with such ease. An amazing yet terrifying ability, given that the whole point of the barrier is to keep the fiends safely locked away. Still, Ravyn does not cross over often, so that worry has been minimized. I came across her sometime later, after some of the circumstances surrounding her birth had been revealed. A mob was attempting to burn her at the stake, if you can believe such quaint naiveté. As if that would have worked. I immediately saved her of course; I could not allow those superstitious fools to ruin such a rare opportunity, and Ravyn has been in my employ ever since. There, good lady, is the explanation you demanded.
There was stunned (and a bit disgusted) silence for a moment before Squeaks spoke. I'm not sure I understand. Why, if the fiends want Ravyn dead, does she cross over to their territory? Isn't that dangerous for her?
The Professor shrugged as if to say, yes, what's your point? We send her across, of course, when we need more information on those vile creatures. Story time is over now children; I suggest we all retire, as the journey tomorrow will not be an easy one. It will take us all day to reach the base camp and that's if we travel at a face-pace.
One by one, the motley group stood, stretching out sore muscles and acknowledging that yes, they were actually pretty tired. Hazel and the Professor escorted them to the inn, a charming two story building with a huge balcony around the second floor. They were just entering when Bob suddenly stopped dead and looked around.
What's wrong, Iiwi demanded, resisting the urge to whack him for almost tripping her.
Does anyone know where Ferdie is?
| Back to Chapter 1 | Onwards to Chapter 3 |