"Is it---is it truly Talfryn's?" Evenfall asks, falling to her knees before the dragon's tooth laying on Rory's coffee table, her voice barely a whisper, almost inaudible.
"Iola Hawksquill assured me it was his," Rory answers, holding his hands behind his back, checking his impulse to reach out to her.
"I admit, I was surprised you would do this for me," Evenfall says as she rises to stand in front of him, "You refused to even try when I asked it of you, and you were so angry when we last parted."
Rory bites his lip, ashamed at the memory of his past behavior. "The way you used to look at me," he says remembering their sad, ill-fated relationship, "I always knew you were searching for traces of him in my features. I hated being a less than adequate replacement for another. When you asked if I could find and steal Talfryn's tooth for you, my resentment boiled over. Unjustly. This was my way of apologizing, I suppose. I'm sorry it took me so long to do as you asked."
"This must have been difficult for you," Evie says hesitantly.
"Actually, it was a remarkably easy job," Rory answers, deliberately misunderstanding her to move the conversation away from uncomfortable talk about the difficulties of overcoming his feelings, "The Landgraab just opened the vaults for us to take what we wanted."
"Are you joking?" Evenfall asks. It's been so long since she's been among the dragon or human kinds, she has only a vague memory of how their sense of humor works.
"No, that actually happened," Rory says, and tells her how the operation went down.
"And you trusted him?" Evie asks in disbelief when his tale is done.
"Trust him? No, not a chance," Rory says, "But Iola confirmed that the tooth was genuine, so I took what was offered. If he has some ulterior motive...I suppose we'll find out when he's ready, and deal with it as it comes."
She never officially accepted his apology or said she forgave him, but that wouldn't be a very fae response; they simply go with whatever they are feeling at the moment, and Evenfall is obviously feeling kindly enough toward him now, enough that Rory has the confidence to ask,"And you think you can really bring him back?"
"If humans can be resurrected, then surely dragons can be," Evenfall answers, smiling hopefully, "Fae don't truly ever die; if our bodies are killed our spirit return to my father's realm. Human spirits have a realm of their own. My brother is one who walks both worlds, the living and the dead, and he's helped me in my search to find the realm of the dragon spirits. With Talfryn's tooth, my brother's knowledge and my magic, I will be able to call him back to this realm, to his bodily form."
"I'm going to the office," Geoffrey says, turning off his computer and rolling his chair away from the desk.
"Has something happened?" Peridot asks.
"I'll be back in a few hours," is all the response he gives her.
"Geoffrey, please," Peridot begs as he continues out the door without speaking another word to her.
Shut out. After her botched attempt to capture the Brannons for him in Aurora Skies, he completely shut her out, replaced her with a new assistant, forced her into retirement.
He also told her he still loved her, and would always have a place for her, but his words rang hollow. The only place he had any use for her anymore was in his bed. Because of her failure, she lost his trust, so he tells her nothing about his work. But more than that, he's closed himself off from her emotionally, barely speaking to her about even the most inconsequential things.
She was created for one purpose, and she failed. And now she serves no purpose at all.
Geoffrey finds her body, bruised and battered against the rocks on the shore of his private beach. Her death is on him; he created her and he destroyed her, though that hadn't been his intention. He wields the power of god, and sometimes forgets that he truly is only human. A god wouldn't mourn the death of his creation.
"Have you come to gloat at my misfortune?" he asks, not needing to turn his head to identify the intruder. He hasn't seen her since she laid her curse on him, but he can still feel the strangling tendrils of her wrath.
"It was just my luck to come upon you as you're discovering the corpse of a dead lover," the fairy answers, her voice gloating despite her denial, "True Love still eludes you?"
"What would you know about love, true or otherwise?" Geoffrey snaps, uncharacteristically bitter.
"I know that it sacrifices all in its name. While you seem to have a knack for sacrificing those who love you on your altar of solitude."
"What do you want?" Geoffrey demands, refusing to play her game, respond to her taunts.
"I want to know why you let Rory Bowman take what you refused to give me all those years ago," the fairy answers.
Geoffrey is stunned into silence by the revelation, for just a brief moment, before he can respond, "You wanted a dragon's tooth?" he asks when he's finally able to speak. "You weren't so specific about what you wanted when you demanded that I open MorcuCorp's vaults to you. Not that it would have made any difference. My father was in control of all that, I didn't have the access you were looking for, and even if I had, you were just some woman I'd slept with. I didn't know you were fae until you started hurling curses at me. I didn't know that such things as fairies existed until you enlightened me. But even if I had known what you were, or what you could do to me, I wouldn't have opened the vaults for you."
"And what has changed that you would open your vaults for Bowman?"
"What changed is that my father is long dead and I no longer crave his approval; I live and do as I please. What Rory wanted was his by rights, and of no use to either myself or MorcuCorp." Any other motives Geoff may have had for his generosity are none of the fairy's business. "So, now that the relic you wanted is back where it belongs, will you end this curse?"
"You know it doesn't work that way. There is only way to break the curse. You must find true love, or suffer your lonely existence forever. Tell me, are you so eager to lose your immortality? Has your solitude become so unbearable so soon?" she asks, the gloating unmistakable.
Geoff's glance moves from Peridot's still body to the vast expanse of the ocean, seemingly unending, but he knows another shore lies unseen beyond the horizon. It doesn't go on forever.
He doesn't give the fairy the satisfaction of a response. "I hope you live for a long time yet," she says, getting in the final words before disappearing in a glimmer of fiery red sparkles, "And I hope that each year brings you greater suffering, dragonslayer."
Dragonslayer? he thinks as he rises, pulling his phone from his pocket. There hasn't been a Landgraab in generations who'd earned the right to such an epithet. Of all the crimes for which he could be held to account, all the wrongs he'd committed against her kind as well as his own, the fairy had ultimately chosen to punish him for the actions of his long dead ancestors. Typical fairy.
"I need a clean up team here ASAP," he says into his phone when his new assistant picks up,not bothering with any unnecessary explanations.
Extra special thanks to Ali for this chapter. When I originally came up with the plan to have Rory steal back Talfryn's tooth for Evie, I had in mind that they had some kind of romantic involvement that had ended badly (I had hinted at that in previous chapters) and I was going to use this mission as his way of reuniting with her, and giving her some kind of closure for the death of Talfryn. But I couldn't get past the feeling that any interest Evie had in Rory was due to his resemblance to Talfryn, and they weren't clicking for me as a couple, so I kind of let that subplot go and left the fate of the tooth out there.
Then Ali asked me if it would be okay for to have Evie resurrect Talfryn in her legacy (The Clemetis Legacy) where they are both side characters. Her idea solved my own problem of what to do with the tooth, so I asked if I could use it in my story as well.
Next chapter, Generation 4 officially begins.