This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.
a Gargoyles tale by Jeff Morris
He leaned back against the wall
and watched as the sun made its slow, lazy descent toward the horizon, its
light receding from the skyscrapers of Manhattan like the tide going out. The
sight never failed to stir an odd anticipation in his soul, an eager tingling
through his body. He ignored the chill of the evening wind that slapped against
his clothes, barely acknowledging its presence with the slightest of shivers.
The cold had never bothered him all that much; he accepted it as he had
accepted everything that had ever come his way--with equal parts gratitude and
resignation. It came with the territory.
From his perch up here he felt
as though he could simply stretch out his arms and embrace the sky. It was so
peaceful, so very silent. He could think without distraction. It was nothing at
all like street level, where at the moment rush hour was competing with all
those wailing police, paramedic and fire vehicles to see who could make the
most noise. He glanced down for a moment, shook his head, and turned back up to
the peace of the ever-darkening evening sky.
He straightened up slightly and
leaned forward as the sunset entered its final moments. No, the thrill had
never left, not even after all these years. It was comforting to know that,
somehow. The man smiled to himself and gave his old friend a salute as it
vanished, then leaned back against the wall again, wishing that the cop above
him would stop screaming for a minute or two. It was getting annoying.
The cop was finding the
situation no less annoying. "Come on, mister!"
Officer Morgan yelled, wondering why the hell he had to get the quiet jumpers.
The shrinks always emphasized that it was important to get them talking, to
focus their attention on something other than the act they were contemplating.
Oh no, he couldn't be that lucky. He had to get a guy who was standing on a
ledge a few hundred feet above the street, acting like he didn't have a care in
the world. "Look, just say something to let me know you can hear me, okay?
I don't really want to come down there with you."
The stranger looked up and
grinned. "Then don't." He patted his coat and shirt pockets, then
remembered he'd forgotten to buy a pack of Winstons this morning. He frowned in
momentary regret, then returned his attention to the sunset. Spectacular as
Morgan whistled in relief.
Contact had been made. "Thanks. But if you really want to help me out, why
don't you come over here and give me your hand? Let's get you off that ledge
and we'll head over to Schwartz's Deli for some coffee. Great stuff, I
guarantee. How about it?" He stretched his arm out toward the jumper.
He simply smiled and shook his
head. "No thanks, Officer."
He then turned away and resumed staring at the New York skyline.
Morgan slumped against the roof
parapet and shook his head. This guy was nothing like the case studies they'd
gone over in class. He didn't fit any of the categories for a jumper--he was
calm and polite. Rational as hell. If anything seemed off, it was that he acted
expectant, as if he was waiting for something. Weird.
"Hey, Morgan, what's
up?" The officer turned around to find Elisa Maza running up. He took a
moment to appreciate the sight and regret that he was happily married and old
enough to be her...much older brother, then smiled in greeting. "Hey,
Elisa. Just business as usual--another loonie on the ledge."
She peered over the parapet at
the jumper. "What's his story?"
"Beats me. Got the call
about an hour ago. I got here in ten minutes, and we've been like this ever
since." Morgan grinned at her. "What's a nice detective like you
doing here? This is pretty mundane for the likes of you."
"I was passing by, saw the
cars and decided to see what was going on." Elisa shrugged and leaned over
the edge of the parapet. "Hey, buddy?"
The jumper looked up. His eyes
widened slightly, as if he somehow recognized her, and a grin slid across his
"Hasn't this gone on long
enough?" She smiled brightly at him. "How about coming up here and we
can all head for someplace warm?" She stretched out her hand toward him.
He shook his head. "No.
Not up there." He nodded toward the street far below. "Last one
down's a rotten egg." Before Elisa or Morgan could move, he stepped off
the ledge and plunged earthward. He stretched his arms and legs out wide, the
roar of the crisp night air drowning out the stream of curses coming from
Morgan's mouth. Oh, how familiar the sensations, how sweet to feel it all
again! He closed his eyes and thought of days long past, oblivious to his
impending collision with the ground....
Something had him. The man
opened his eyes to find the stern visage of a monster fixed upon him. The
creature's muscles flexed as its wings stretched out to embrace the winds and
send them both higher into the sky. The earth retreated rapidly as his savior
kept gaining altitude. "That was foolish," the monster said in a deep
"Goliath?" the jumper
yelled over the wind. "Goliath of Clan Wyvern?"
Goliath's eyes widened
considerably. "What? How? Who...?"
The man laughed, apparently
unconcerned about his situation or his rescuer. "Find us a safe haven,
brother. I need your aid."
* * * * *
"I'm David Xanatos.
Welcome to my home." The billionaire offered his hand to the stranger, who
accepted it and gave it a firm, hard shake. Xanatos winced slightly at his
visitor's grip. Goliath stood behind them, looking stern, confused, and more
than a little curious. Given the tale Xanatos had gotten over the phone from
Maza, he could well understand why.
Owen Burnett appeared.
"Miss Maza will arrive presently," he announced, then walked over to
accept the man's overcoat. A strange expression came over the fellow, followed
almost immediately by a hard, angry glare. Owen met the gaze, unperturbed, with
only the merest hint of curiosity. "Is there a problem, sir?"
The stranger turned to Xanatos.
"You permit a Child of Oberon in your household?"
If the comment startled him,
Xanatos didn't show it. "I would trust Owen with my life--and I have. Many
times." The major domo nodded slightly in acknowledgement and
appreciation. "You, on the other hand," the billionaire continued,
"are here strictly on Goliath's request. Insult my family or friends, and
you'll find yourself back on the street." Steel underlined his words.
The newcomer stared one last
time at Owen, then slowly nodded his assent.
Burnett bowed slightly in polite reply and set off to hang the mysterious
visitor's coat. Xanatos gestured for his guest to enter his office. "Can I
get you anything?" he asked as the stranger sat down. Goliath took a
position by the door, his arms folded in front of his chest.
"Coffee would be
fine." Xanatos walked over to the kitchenette and poured a cup. As he
headed back, the billionaire studied his visitor, the better to get a handle on
him. His face was wide with rugged features, almost as if they'd been chiseled.
His eyes--Xanatos frowned as the stranger's eyes met his. There was something
disturbingly familiar in them; he couldn't quite place it, but Xanatos had seen
that sort of stare before.
Elisa Maza and Owen entered the
room; the detective and Goliath shared a quick embrace, while Burnett
effortlessly took the cup of coffee from Xanatos' hands and took it over to the
stranger. He accepted it with another penetrating state. "If you won't be
needing me, sir," Owen stated quietly, "I have other duties to
"No," the visitor
quickly cut in. "Let him stay. He may be of assistance."
Owen raised an eyebrow but said nothing; the stranger waited until everyone had
taken his or her seats before resuming. "To begin with, I'm known as Angus
"But that's not your
name," Xanatos noted with a sly smile, which McGarrigle returned.
"Quite right, sir. You
understand the power of names. But with a Child of Oberon as your servant, I
could not expect otherwise." McGarrigle sipped at his coffee. "At any
rate, let's simplify this. I've gotten too old to play games or tell drawn-out
tales. To be brief, eight hundred years ago I was a gargoyle." When that
failed to elicit any sort of expected response, he sighed unhappily.
"Doesn't anything surprise the lot of you?"
"It'll take a lot more
than that," Elisa commented, accepting a cup of coffee from Owen. "We
know at least one immortal gargoyle who become human during the day. There's an
entire clan that doesn't turn to stone at sunrise. Nothing personal, but been
there, done that, got the World Tour t-shirt." She looked up fondly at
Goliath, who smiled back before returning his attention to McGarrigle.
"You identified me by name
and clan," Goliath rumbled. "You called me brother. How do you know
of me? Which clan are you from?"
McGarrigle smiled slightly.
"Does it really matter any more? The castle's long since fallen into the
sea; the few of us who survived have long since died out." He shrugged.
"I apologize if that's a bit crass, but I've had a long time to get over
"It would aid in
determining the truth of your story," Goliath replied.
"Which, despite your claims of hating drawn-out tales, is becoming just
That got a laugh from the
stranger. "You have me there, brother. As for how I knew of you, there was
a survivor of the tragedy that befell your clan.
She came to us and stayed for a time, told us your sad tale. Eventually we
expelled her--she was trying to rouse the clan against the humans."
Elisa muttered, slouching in her chair.
"Back to my story,"
McGarrigle said. "Eight hundred years ago I was a young gargoyle, just
entering my prime. I was fierce, strong, agile, headstrong...you know how it is
at that age. Nothing can stop us. At any rate, one summer night I came upon a
female bathing in a lake. She was..."
He sighed at the memory. "Even now I can't find the words to describe her.
Her beauty was unlike any other I'd seen, before or since. I fell in love with
her instantly. She saw me standing there and laughed, and it was the sweetest
music I have ever heard, even now. She stretched out her arms and posed for me,
tempting me. I succumbed and pursued her, to no avail; she eluded me and soared
off into the night before I could follow.
"For weeks I searched for
her. My rookery sisters were displeased that I ignored their mating games so
that I could search for this mystery female. The matings were just beginning,
and I suppose they found me attractive." He smiled slightly, then shook
his head. "I had no time for them. They were nothing compared to my
mysterious prize. I burned for her. And finally, on a night of a full moon, I
caught sight of her. I pursued her. She tried to elude me, but I matched her
move for move. As time passed, I drew closer and closer until finally...she was
Elisa shifted slightly in her
seat, her features slightly crimson. Goliath showed no reaction one way or the
"Just before dawn, we
found a secluded spot and slept. The next night, we played the game once more,
as we did the following night, and the one after that. The final night, I
declared my love for her and swore that my heart would be hers forever, that
none could ever take her place. She smiled and said something about the binding
power of one's oath, and then with a wave of her hands she revealed her true
self to me." McGarrigle's features tightened. "She was not a gargoyle
at all. She was a Child of Oberon, and not just any. Her name, she said, was
Owen paled slightly but said
nothing. Xanatos reached over and pressed a button on his desk console,
whispering something the others could not hear. All the while his eyes never
He sighed. "I was a
hot-blooded fool. I meant nothing more to her than a few nights of pleasure,
and now I had pledged myself to her. And to give one's oath to a Child of
Oberon is to bind oneself forever. And yet...I still loved her. She was a sham,
an illusion, and still I loved her." He shut his eyes again. "And she
caressed my face and called me her loving servant, and I nodded. She beckoned,
I lifted her into my arms, and we set off into the night, leaving my clan long
behind. So long as I was with her, my rookery brothers and sisters meant
nothing to me whatsoever.
"The years passed. We
wandered all over the world. Titania placed a spell upon me that rendered me
human by day that I might always be at her call. I lost track of time, of
places--everything seemed to blur into a shapeless memory. Only she stayed
constant. We still played at being lovers, but those times grew fewer and far
between as she found new amusements to toy with. My passion for her cooled, but
the bond remained. And then...I found Caitlin."
McGarrigle took a sip of his
coffee and cleared his throat. "We were in Ireland, the late seventeenth
century. Titania had found a handsome young man to spend the afternoon with,
freeing me with a careless wave of her hand. I was nothing to her but a servant
now, and the realization gnawed at me. I went into the town we'd come to and
wandered the streets, my thoughts dark and cold. The next thing I knew, I'd
collided with someone. I stirred from my reverie to find the most beautiful
girl staring up at me, her green eyes flashing a fire as red as her hair.
"I apologized and helped
her to her feet, then gathered her belongings up and offered to carry them for
her as repentance for my foolishness. She dazzled me with a smile so white and
pure it took my breath away. We walked to her home and spent the rest of the
day talking, I don't know what about. All I can remember now is that red hair,
those green eyes, and the flash of her smile.
"I sensed sunset coming
and stammered out an apology and a hope to see her again. Caitlin nodded and
escorted me to the door, then before I knew what had happened she kissed me on
the cheek. Dazed, I stumbled out of sight and waited for nightfall. When my
change was complete, I felt Titania's call and flew to her side.
"Her lover lay sleeping
beside her. She demanded to know where I'd been and why I hadn't stayed to
prepare her dinner. I apologized politely and hurried off to gather food, but
deep inside me the seeds of my undoing were taking root. I resented Titania's
domination over me. I was tired of being her pet. I wanted to be free. I
wanted...to see those eyes, that hair, and that smile..." McGarrigle shut
his eyes and trembled slightly; Goliath moved closer to where Elisa sat and
gently rested a hand on her shoulder. She caressed it with her own.
"I'm sorry," McGarrigle said a minute later. "Where was I? Oh,
yes. I don't know who Titania's lover was, but he captivated her like none I'd
seen before. She granted me leave every day for the week, so long as I made
sure her needs were met. I spent every minute I could with Caitlin, helping her
with her chores, telling her of my wanderings...doing anything I could to be
rewarded with her smile. I fell in love with her. I had no choice. And she fell
in love with me...or the man she thought I was.
"Our sixth day together
was warm and sunny. We went for a walk and ended up in a meadow by a lake.
Before I knew what was happening..." He sighed at the distant memory.
"I dozed, lulled by the warmth of her body against mine. I didn't pay
attention to the setting sun until it was too late. To my horror, I changed
back into my natural form before her eyes."
Elisa nodded to herself,
remembering the first time she'd encountered Goliath.
"I stood there, wings
stretched out, tail thrashing, and stared into her wide, terrified eyes. I
begged her forgiveness, then turned to leave. But before I could run away, she
grabbed my shoulder and ran around to face me. She had the oddest smile on her
face. 'Well, before ye be leavin' me, ye'll be givin' me a ride, hmm?' she
said, and suddenly I felt my shame and fears melt away. She hopped up into my
arms and we set off, running until I could find a suitable place to fly. It was
not a short flight, but for me it was an eternity of bliss.
"Titania summoned me
before I could return Caitlin to her home. I took her with me; I had no choice.
Fortunately my queen was still wearing a human guise. Caitlin's widened at the
sight of three young men, all of whom she knew, sleeping around the stranger,
but she said nothing.
"'Where have you been, my
servant?' Titania demanded. I told her that since she had released me for the
day, it was none of her concern to know. Her eyes narrowed and I felt a trickle
of power flow from her to me. She was reinforcing the spell.
"'You've taken a lover as
well,' she laughed. In reply I put an arm around
Caitlin, and with a deep breath asked her to be freed from my oath to her. She
gazed at me for the longest time, then at Caitlin. And then she smiled. 'You
took an oath, my servant,' she said with a sly smile. 'The breaking of an oath
is a serious matter, indeed. There are...consequences.' She turned to gaze at
Caitlin, and my beloved shivered.
"You do not love me. I am
nothing to you. Free me," I begged. "Let me find happiness."
"'With her?' Titania
laughed. 'Fool. The delights we shared cannot compare to anything she could
give you.' Before our eyes she shifted her shape back into the female gargoyle
that had so entranced me those many years ago. But this time it failed to move
me in the least. She stood there, regal and inviting, waiting for me to come to
her...and nothing happened.
"'I see,' she finally
said, returning to her human guise. 'Very well. I shall do you two great
favors, in tribute to your loyalty and service over these years. First, while I
do not release you from your vow, I grant you freedom for a time, to spend as
you will. One day you will return to me, but for now, do as you will. Second,'
she continued, 'since you care for this creature so much' and she waved
dismissively at Caitlin, 'as of this dawn, human shall you be, day and night.
Again, a reward for your service.'"
"I thanked her, but she
smiled and shook her head. 'Think of these as my gifts to you, my servant,' she
said with a soft laugh. 'And when you are ready to end this masquerade, find me
and I shall return you to your true form.' Fool that I was, I did not see the
warning in her words and thanked her again. She smiled and bade us leave; we
returned to Caitlin's home and waited until morning. I changed back into human
form at sunrise...and remained human after sunset. I was free."
"So she gave you what you
wanted," Xanatos said quietly. "Or so it appeared."
McGarrigle glared at Owen.
"The gifts of the Children never come without a price. And it is almost
always dear. They find it amusing." His huge hands flexed slightly as he
shifted his weight in the chair.
Elisa asked quickly, eager to avoid a confrontation.
McGarrigle turned to look at
her, the anger slowly ebbing from his face. "Caitlin and I were
married," he replied. "We had many good years together. No children,
though we adopted a few who'd been orphaned by a fire. But as the years passed,
Caitlin's red hair turned gray and her lively gait slowed. I...remained the
same. We managed to disguise my appearance to avert suspicion, but it grew
harder each year. Eventually I had to pose as once of her adopted sons--Angus
had gone off on some trip and never come back, we said.
"When Caitlin died, I
buried her in the meadow by the lake and set off to find Titania, to either
become her servant once more or be released once and for all. And as I
searched, the terrible price of her gift slowly became apparent." He
looked up, his eyes anguished. "Can you comprehend how impossible it is to
find one person in such a large world? Especially when limited by the modes of
transportation of the day? I never aged. I tried killing myself a few times,
but all that brought was pain and slow healing. A few times over the centuries
I sensed traces of her presence, but they were old and faint. I began to lose
hope, but I could not stop searching. It was all I had left."
He looked at Xanatos. "I
heard about your purchase of the castle and your plans for it. I remembered the
curse on the clan and wondered what would happen when the gargoyles met the terms
of the curse, so I made my way to New York and waited." He smiled tiredly.
"To my shock, I found Titania's presence to be very strong, especially
around your building. And when the rumors of flying monsters protecting people
Xanatos nodded. "You
decided to get our attention."
McGarrigle smiled. "The
detective here," he nodded toward Elisa, "was the one who'd arrested
you about the time the rumors started. I made some inquiries, found out she
worked at night and decided to make my move at sunset. I had no guarantee that
she would show up, but I had faith—after all, who better to catch a man
plummeting to earth than a gargoyle?"
"That was quite a
gamble," Elisa commented.
"I'm a desperate
man," McGarrigle replied sadly. "I had nothing to lose. It's not the
first time I've taken a long fall down. Bones mend eventually." His
attention returned to Xanatos. "I beg of you, tell me where Titania is.
Help me find her. Help me resolve this once and for all."
The billionaire said nothing
for a time, leaning back in his chair and staring into space. No one moved or
spoke as they waited for his response. Finally he stirred and turned toward his
major domo. "Owen?"
Burnett rose to his feet.
"Perhaps your wife and child should be here, Mr. Xanatos. It would be
most...instructive...for Alexander to be here."
"I see," Xanatos
nodded, smiling slyly. He reached over and pressed a button on his console.
Minutes later Fox walked into the room, carrying a squirming, giggling toddler.
"Mr. McGarrigle, may I introduce my wife Fox and my son Alexander."
"How do you do?" Fox
nodded with a smile. "You have to pardon Alex; he's been a handful
tonight. I can't get him settled down for bedtime." As if on cue,
Alexander's eyes brightened and he struggled to get closer to McGarrigle.
"Well, if Alex likes you, you're okay by me. Here." Before McGarrigle
could protest, Fox had handed the child off to him.
"I...he is a handful,
isn't he?" Alex was giggling and patting McGarrigle's shoulder, looking
all the world as if this man was his truest, best friend. "But I don't
understand why...wait." His eyes narrowed, as if seeing something
invisible. A gasp escaped his lips--though it might have had something to do
with Alex accidentally kneeing him in the gut. "Titania. The child has
some of her essence. Faint, but there." He turned toward Fox and his eyes
grew wide. "You, too. Much stronger."
"She's my mother,"
Fox answered. "But I didn't know the entire story until recently. So
what's Mom done this time?"
"A spell of change, your
mother's cast," came a new voice; everyone turned to where Owen had been
standing only to find a silver-haired fellow with elfin features floating a few
feet off the floor. "Upon this fellow in years long past. Once child of
stone, now flesh and bone, seeks Titania, but she is gone. Till she is found,
as man he's stuck, but now there's hope, for here is...Puck!"
McGarrigle studied the Child of
Oberon carefully. "That was truly awful," he said.
"Oh, bite me. Everyone's a
critic," Puck frumped. He swooped over to the man's side, tickling Alex
under the chin. "Oh yes, we sense Grandma, don't we? And that's what has
us all excited!" He took the toddler and backed off a bit. "Look
carefully, Alexander, and you'll see the signature of the spell. Every magic
user has a unique pattern, and when you know what to look for, the caster's
identity becomes obvious. And Titania's is very distinctive, indeed!"
"Is there anything you can
do for him?" asked Xanatos.
Puck frowned. "Alas, no.
The spell is very tightly woven around his essence, and time has only served to
strengthen its grip. Not that I would have been able to do anything when it was
first cast, of course," he added with a grin. "Titania, Oberon, the
Sisters...you're talking the major leagues here. No, the only way this spell
comes off is by meeting its conditions."
"Then take me to
Titania!" McGarrigle pleaded.
"That could be
difficult," Xanatos said. "She's not here right now."
"She went home with
Hubby," Puck offered helpfully. "Avalon. Down two dimensions, then
"Then take me there!"
the gargoyle-turned-human bellowed.
The elfin changeling sighed
dramatically. "No can do, kemosabe. I've been a bad Puck. In fact..."
He shuddered suddenly, and a heartbeat later Owen Burnett stood among them once
more, still holding the giggling Alexander. "The terms of my punishment
are quite specific," he said solemnly.
McGarrigle nodded. "You
understand more than I'd thought." Burnett nodded. "Then there is
nothing we can do," he finished, his shoulders slumping.
"That is not necessarily
true," Goliath said cautiously. "We can take you there. But once we
reach Avalon, it could be dangerous. Our last encounter with Oberon left the
relationship...strained. He might not take kindly to our return, and it is his
home. His power would be much greater there than it was here."
"Oh, Angus has nothing to
fear from Oberon," Puck laughed. "Titania's spell protects him. She's
the one he has to worry about. She has a very long memory, take it from
"I'll go," Fox
suddenly offered. "Maybe if I'm there, Mom will protect all of us."
"I'm going too,"
Goliath frowned. "Didn't
Captain Chavez threaten to punish you severely if you 'vanished' for weeks at a
"She swore she'd knock me
down to beat cop," the detective said breezily. "But if we keep it
quick, I've got about two weeks vacation left. I can make arrangements this
time. But if you're going," she said to the gargoyle in a tone that left
nothing unclear, "I'm going. Got it?"
"Got it," Goliath
Xanatos rose to his feet.
"So. We have a delegation of five..."
"Four," Fox said, cutting him off. "Elisa, Goliath, Angus and
"Did you really think I'd
miss this?" Xanatos said, his smile growing sharp.
"Do you really think
Oberon would let you set one foot on Avalon, especially after what your father
did to him?" Fox reminded him. "Besides, there’s no guarantee that
I'll be coming back. One of us has to stay here so that Alex will have a
Xanatos' features fell
slightly. "I hate it when you're right," he muttered.
"All we need now is a
boat," Elisa commented.
"That's no problem at
all," Xanatos smiled.
* * * * *
"Okay. Here's the
place," Elisa said as Goliath circled around a section of the northeastern
shore of Long Island. "Now let's hope Xanatos wasn't kidding about
providing us with transportation."
Goliath's eyes narrowed as he
scanned the shoreline. "I don't see a boat anywhere. Nor do I see
"He's probably coming with
Fox. I hope this goes all right." Elisa shivered slightly and huddled up
against Goliath. "I'm not too crazy about tangling with any of Puck's
"Nor am I." The
Gargoyle spread his wings wider and ascended into the night; minutes later he
pointed to an object racing toward them at an impressive speed.
Elisa gasped. It was definitely
a boat--on closer examination, it was a sleek hydrofoil slamming effortlessly
through the water. Its front was festooned with a blue logo similar to Fox's
tattoo. The driver of the boat--Fox, probably--spotted them and waved as the
engines cut out. Goliath slowly dropped altitude, angling their descent so that
they touched down precisely upon the passenger section.
"Isn't this a bit
much?" Elisa demanded.
Fox laughed. "Detective,
when you live like we do, everything has to be 'a bit much'." She patted
the craft affectionately. "I got this as a bonus when the Pack signed with
ABC for a third season. Not much, but it gets me where I need to go." She
laughed again at the cop's discomfiture. "So, are we ready?"
Goliath nodded. "Head away
from shore. I will intone the spell when we are out of sight."
"Will do." Fox revved
up the engines. "Better belt yourself in, Detective. Baby here has great
pickup." Elisa quickly obeyed and seconds later was glad she had when the
boat shot forward like a rocket. Goliath lost his balance momentarily and had
to grab the side of the boat to keep from falling. Fox guided the boat out to
sea, her hair streaming wildly around her as they roared into the night.
McGarrigle stood close by her, holding onto the side and his eyes staring out
at some unseen horizon.
Elisa could barely hear
Goliath's booming voice over the roar of the engines, but moments after he
stopped speaking a familiar tingle rippled through her body. Fox cut the boat's
speed and nodded. "There it is," she yelled, pointing to the island
dead ahead. "How you doing, Angus?"
McGarrigle had a grim smile on
his face. "She's here," he replied. "I can sense her."
Goliath pointed to one
particular harbor. "Over there," he called to Fox, who nodded and
pointed the nose of the boat in that direction. As they closed in on the site,
a solitary figure came into view, simply standing there and waiting until the
boat had docked.
"That doesn't look like
anyone we know," Elisa said softly to Goliath. "Too tall and straight
to be Katherine, too feminine to be Tom..."
Goliath sniffed the air and
stiffened slightly. "It's her."
Elisa glanced up at him, then
at the stranger. "You're sure? Oboy. I wasn't counting on this playing out
"She and Oberon must have
detected our approach."
"So what do we do?"
Goliath took a deep breath, let
it out slowly. "Nothing, for now."
Titania took about six steps
forward, then stopped, raised a hand and smiled. "Greetings,
Fox jumped over the side of the
boat. "Hi, Mom. Sorry we didn't call ahead, but you know how it is."
looked over her daughter's shoulder, her smile faltering slightly.
"You...didn't bring my grandson? How disappointing. I shall have to pay a
visit soon. Greetings, Goliath, Elisa Maza, and...?" She stared at
McGarrigle, clearly at a loss. The others stood silently, waiting to see how
this confrontation would play out.
"You don't remember me, do
you, my lady?" McGarrigle's voice was flat.
"I confess I do not,"
she replied softly. "I apologize for my lapse in memory, for it would seem
you surely know me." She frowned and peered more closely at McGarrigle.
"And you bear my handiwork. How strange."
"I was one of your
servants, many years ago," McGarrigle informed her harshly.
"I have had many servants
over the years," Titania replied serenely. "Give me your name that I
might better place your face."
"I had no name until you
did this to me!" he declared angrily. "I was a gargoyle. You gave me
this form--one of your damned 'gifts'--and told me when I was ready to leave it
and resume my true body that all I had to do was find you and it would be done!
I have been searching the earth for over two hundred years for you, only to
find that you'd left it!" His hands were squeezed into tight twin balls, but
even through his growing rage, he did not raise a hand to strike her.
Titania regarded him carefully.
"It has indeed been a very long quest for you," she finally said, her
voice soft and soothing. McGarrigle's anger vanished almost instantly. She
lifted one smooth green hand to his face and caressed it tenderly. "There
is so much anger and anguish in you. Your pain runs deep."
A tear cascaded down his
roughened skin. "Deep as the love I held for you, my lady."
She nodded slightly and pressed
her hand against his cheek. "Very well. I free you. Come the dawn, a child
of stone and night will you be once more." Her eyes stared into his.
"And what else do you wish of me, my once-servant?"
"Release me," he
Titania nodded again. "It
is done." She leaned forward and brushed her lips against his. Drawing
back, she regarded the others, who were standing around looking slightly
embarrassed at having witnessed such an intimate encounter.
"My Lord bade me meet you here so that you would not tread further into
Avalon, Goliath. While he understands your reasons for standing against him
last time, his memory is long and his anger still smolders slightly. Go now and
return to your world."
"Well, that was brief,"
Elisa grumbled as she climbed back into Fox's boat. Goliath followed a moment
later, as did McGarrigle. His face was dry now, but his gaze remained fixed
solely upon Titania, who was saying goodbye to her daughter. "You
okay?" Elisa asked him, resting her hand on his arm.
"Hmmm?" He turned
around and looked at her blankly. "Oh. Yes, I'm fine."
"How do you feel?"
Goliath asked quietly.
"Free." He smiled
into the night winds. "Free."
* * * * *
"Guys, I hate to say it,
but this isn't New York." Fox shook her head and peered through the murky
fog that had enveloped them shortly after their departure from Avalon. It was a
thick, rolling wet mist that mixed with the cold air made things decidedly
nippy for herself and Elisa. Goliath took it in stride, and so too did
McGarrigle, apparently. It was hard to say; he'd said very little since his
encounter with Titania, merely stared intently out to sea.
"So where are we?"
Elisa asked, joining Fox at the helm. "And how can you tell where we are
through all this?"
Fox grinned. "Radar."
She pointed down at a console. "The shore line is nothing like New York's.
Don't sweat it, we're perfectly safe for the moment, and I should know where we
are in a minute. I'm triangulating our position with the Xanacorp
"You figured we wouldn't
end up where we started, didn't you?" Elisa sighed.
"Based on your adventures,
it was a safe assumption. David and I don't believe in taking unnecessary
risks...unless we're sure we can get away with it," Fox added with a laugh
and a wink. "We figured this was the best way to handle the situation.
I've already sent a transponder signal up--David will have our location and
send someone to pick us up the minute he gets word. So you'll still have most
of your vacation time, Detective." She looked out into the fog and sighed.
"So, if Avalon sends you where you need to be, then why are we here?"
"I don't know," Elisa
admitted. "Usually it became clear over time."
"Well, whatever it is, it
had better be a good one. This place is bare as Alex's behind." A series
of beeps came from the console. "Here we go..."
"We're in Scotland,"
McGarrigle said suddenly. His voice, so long unheard, made everyone jump.
"Right you are," Fox
acknowledged with an upturned eyebrow. "Specifically, we're smack in the
"Loch Finn." There
was a firm smile on McGarrigle's face.
"Right again." Fox
sighed and tossed the printout away. "I don't know why I bothered to have
a state-of-the-art radar system installed--all I needed was a McGarrigle. Silly
"How did you know?"
Elisa asked, moving over to the man's side.
"I knew," he replied
softly. "I lived here for many years. I can feel it. Home."
"Your castle was
here?" Goliath asked dubiously.
McGarrigle shook his head.
"Not that life. This one."
"Your wife," Fox
He smiled slightly. "She's
buried around here. I can feel her bones calling to me." He turned to
Goliath. "No offense, brother, but when dawn comes, I would prefer to
stand watch by her."
agreed. "If you wish, I'd be honored to join you."
"I would be honored to
* * * * *
Two gargoyles stood watch over
an unremarkable plot of land. McGarrigle's transformation had been strange to
behold: his flesh grew gray and rocky; his hands formed long talons; his legs
flowed down to monstrous feet; a pair of wings and a long, thick tail exploded
from his back. Now he stood beside Goliath, two stone sentinels staring toward
"Well," Fox said,
stretching her arms and yawning. "That was different."
She and Elisa had made camp a short distance away and were eating a delicious
breakfast courtesy of the Xanatos Kitchens. Fox had prepared for every
eventuality, it seemed--she'd packed two survival kits, complete with tents,
sleeping bags, coveralls, even a portable toilet, into the boat.
"I wonder what he'll
do," Elisa said, sipping at her gourmet coffee staring at McGarrigle.
"He could join the clan, I suppose, but somehow I doubt he will."
"David will send him
anywhere he wants to go." Fox consulted a small hand-held computer.
"Great. Our ride home should be here in about twelve hours. Let's get some
"Twelve hours?" Elisa
said, slightly incredulous. "That long?"
"It's mostly in deference
to Goliath," Fox said with a smile. "David figured that he wouldn't
want to be hauled around during the day and all. How would you feel if you went
to sleep one place and woke up in another?"
"Oh. Good point."
"They'll be fine. There's
nothing but..." Fox waved an arm around their surroundings. "...this
for miles. We won't be disturbed. And I've got an intruder alarm set up just in
Elisa regarded the other woman
Fox laughed. "Just because
you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. I'm getting some
sleep. What you do is up to you. G'night."
* * * * *
Fox and Elisa waited as the
last rays of the sun withdrew from the land. Shadows drifted across the ground,
draping two stone gargoyles in their soft blankets. Moments later, stone
shuddered and shattered as muscular sinews stretched and strained against their
prison. Goliath announced his awakening with a deep, long roar that
reverberated through the cool night air.
Elisa smiled at the sight of
him, then gasped as she turned to stare at McGarrigle--or rather, the statue of
McGarrigle. He stood there, immobile, still locked within his gray cocoon.
The gargoyle frowned as he
leaned forward to examine his brother. "I thought gargoyles always changed
at sunset," Fox asked, her attention torn between the situation in front
of her and a pair of yellow lights in the northern sky, growing closer by the
"They do...while they
live," Goliath answered quietly.
Fox's eyes widened.
Goliath looked away, his eyes tightly shut. Elisa wrapped her arms around
Goliath's waist and hugged him, the better to hide her sudden river of tears.
Fox came over to join them; the
sound of jet engines could now be heard from above. "You mean...he's dead?
But how? Why? Mom freed him from the spell! She wouldn't have done this to
"No. Titania would not
have done this. It would have served no purpose."
Goliath shook his head and considered his words. "But perhaps, when she
granted him his freedom, she gave McGarrigle all the freedom he truly desired,
including this final choice."
"Are you saying he wanted
to die?" Fox declared. The rescue air ship was slowly dropping from the
sky; Xanatos and his son could be seen from the windows nearest the door.
Elisa blinked away her tears
and sniffled. "Maybe...maybe this is all he really wanted. He was tired.
All he really wanted was to be with her again.
Now he will be...forever."
"Tom once told us that
Avalon would send us where we were needed," Goliath said quietly.
"Perhaps...this is where...he needed to be."
Xanatos and Alex joined them at
that point. Fox lunged for her family, hugging them for dear life. Goliath
wrapped a comforting arm around Elisa, who snuggled up against his hulking frame.
They slowly made their way back to the airship; in the doorway, Goliath paused
and turned to regard the gargoyle that now stood eternal vigil over his
"Rest well, brother. Be at
Then the door shut behind him, and
the airship soared into the night, leaving the loch at peace once more.