The room fell deathly silent as everyone seemed to hold their breath in a pause. Even the wings of the Faerie Courts seemed to still themselves in anticipation for what the gorgeous Celtic couple was about to say. The only sound in the room came from the steady but hushed ruffle of Kwoth's wings from behind you. It seemed he wasn't going to let down his guard and give Gahiji a chance to blow anymore of his dust your way. The gentle breeze blowing on your back gave you a bit of a chill, but you were thankful for it. The cool air kept you awake and alert, not to mention it was a relief to have someone watching your back. It made you feel a little less alone and afraid. He had saved you from falling prey to Gahiji's tricks, but you knew he couldn't help you with what was coming next. You started this trial on your own and if it didn't go in your favor you would be facing the consequences alone. You had decided to take the gamble and roll the dice and now it was time to see where they would land. Peter, The Lost Boys, Tiger Lily, and your very own life were riding all on this.
The radiant faerie woman who's tiny hand had kept your head from bouncing off the hard marbled floor earlier now looked to be feeling a bit scared herself. Her Bette Davis midnight eyes seemed to be a bit glassier than before and her wine colored cupid's bow lips were pulled down in a worried frown. Her gaze darted nervously between you, the Queen, and then to her husband. He folded her petite hand in his and turned it over to lay a soft kiss on the back. She smiled weakly back at him and it was clear he was giving her reassurance. His handsome face was perfectly composed and almost casual. His expression seemed easy as if they were just picking what they wanted for dinner rather than deciding the fate of your life. One of his armored booted legs was lazily resting atop his other knee and his free hand was laying loosely on the arm rest of his throne. He nodded towards his wife clearly deciding to take the lead for her. He breathed in an audible sigh that made his silver plated armor rise and fall with his chest. Then he made an exasperated gesture with his hands, holding them out to his sides like he didn't want to go on, but had no choice. His rough Gaelic voice rang out across the room cutting the tense silence like a knife as he said, "Tis a heavy weighted decision this one is. It is a problem with many sides and no easy solutions... Arella and I have listened carefully to everyone here and speaking honestly, everyone has a point. The lass has come to us for help against a well known threat to Neverland. Though the Captain has never been a specific threat to our kind so far we can't overlook the fact that, that may change in the near future. He has shown himself to be hostile and ruthless to all those who oppose him and it would be foolish to forget that he has a vast knowledge of military tactics that he has used before. This feud may have started with Peter, but it has spread overtime to include the Picaninny people, and even some of the mermaids who have tried their charms on the wrong man. With respect we also cannot ignore those other innocents who have crossed his path and lost their lives because of it." He paused there and gave a respectful nod towards Oya and Deng.
Your mouth was starting to go uncomfortably dry as you hung on his every word. A wellspring of hope was beginning to form in your lungs at the direction his speech seemed to be leaning. You slowly clenched your hands to your tightening chest, barely daring to dream for a sudden miracle. Dughall was still sitting nonchalantly on his throne only this time his elbows were balanced on his knees with his fingers steepled together. The more you looked at him the more he looked like a fairy-tale knight in shining armor. You couldn't help but wish he'd be the one to save you and all you held dear from the rest of The Courts. It was a strange terrifying feeling having your fate resting on someone you didn't know.
"If it came to a fight between us and the pirates we would find ourselves at a disadvantage without Pan and The Lost Boys as our allies. Striking him now while he's not expecting it could turn the tides in our favor and eliminate the possibility of a future threat. Still, better a good retreat than a bad stand. It would be foolish to send out legions of our people into a battle blind. If we have them strike in battle now while we are ill-prepared the death toll could be tremendous. All of the pirates are aware that they only need utter a single sentence to kill even the strongest of us. If we send our kin out to the front lines now while the stakes are this high we take the chance of most of them never coming back. Hook is putting his all into this final showdown with Pan and The Lost Boys, no one will be spared until either one of them are dead. That's not to mention the fact that if he has already defeated them and we go charging in there we will have single handedly started a brand new war between the Fae and the pirates. We run the risk of losing everything and everyone we hold dear on a wild gamble. Hook may indeed be an inevitable danger to us in the future, but waiting to make a move will be far more advantageous to us. If Pan wins then the problem solves itself, if not then we will have time to gather our forces and run intelligence on them while they rest from the battle. While they are busy tending to their wounds we can formulate battle strategies and escape routes just in case he does decided to try and take over Neverland . Time and critical thinking are what we need most to take on the Captain. Jumping into battle without a second thought right now would lead to nothing but ruin and loss for us. Of course I'd love to help the lass and her lad out, but as commander of the Earth Fae I can't send my people out to die so recklessly. Therefore for those who have put their faith in me as their leader I must vote no." He stopped and locked his green cat eyes with yours and they were filled with all the sympathy in the world. His voice was soft and thick as he said, "I'm so sorry lass, but I can't risk my family to save yours."
The world felt like it was slipping beneath your feet. Your gaze instantly shot to Arella's silently pleading with her to intervene on your behalf. You begged her with your expression to say something...anything! Fat teardroplets began to roll down her rosy rounded cheeks befor she looked down at the floor causing her fiery orange waves to cover her face from your view like a curtain. Her sweet gentle voice only echoed what her expression had already told you, "I'm sorry too little one. I want to aid you and your friends so badly, but we have those we must take care of as well and I can't bare to lose any of them either. Taking on Hook right now would only put them in more danger," her voice broke and her shoulders visibly shook with a hiccuping sob, "Please forgive me for this, but for my people's sake I must also vote no." Arella then buried her face in her hands and cried her heart out at the decision she had just made. From across the room Oya joined in on the crying and Jian Di looked as if she were about to pass out. Deng shook his head in saddened defeat while he held Oya close to his chest to console her. Zhu Rong never took his eyes off of his wife as he held her shoulder in tense concern. She seemed to be in a state of shock.
On the other hand Maibe looked like the cat that had eaten the canary. A nasty smile curved her lips in self satisfaction as she stared down her nose at you. Gahiji smirked ruefully to himself as if this had all been a fun show. Inanna folded her slim arms over her chest as if the outcome were just what she had predicted and Enki beside her just looked positively bored. Selene's face was a cold mask of indifference while Helios looked at least slightly perturbed. Cool as ever Queen Rhiannon stood up regally from her throne and announced the obvious, "Then it is settled. Pan and The Lost Boys will receive no aid from the Fae. I declare this trial officially closed. Dughall I want you to begin gathering intelligence on the pirates, but do it quietly. We need to be prepared for the worst just in case."
You collapsed to your knees as the realization that you were about to die began to sink in. Tears ran down your cheeks in an unstoppable stream while your lips began to quiver with the weight of what was about to come. Your heart seized in your chest while you gasped for air. It felt like the final verdict had literally knocked all the wind out of you and you were having difficulty swallowing the large gulps of air you were trying desperately to intake. The too bright room felt like it was spinning and you could have sworn there was a high pitched ringing in your ears that seemed to be drowning everything else out. The only thing that seemed to be anchoring you from passing out was the feeling of the cold marble floor beneath your hands and knees. You had failed. There was nothing more left you could do. It was over, it was all over. In a matter of minutes you would be killed. You'd never get to find out what happened to Peter, The Lost Boys, or Tiger Lily.
Each of their faces flashed behind your eyes. You lingered on each one, holding them individually in your memories. You immersed yourself in your conscious mind frantically trying to recapture the precious moments you spent with them all. You touched on Tiger Lily's hauntingly beautiful grief and the quiet inner strength and pride she always held. Then came Cubby's bashful face holding the beaten up teddy bear to his massive chest. That bear was like a reflection of himself, a little rough looking on the outside, but still full of childlike innocence and warmth. The Twins solemn faces paralleled each other's as you remembered their luminous grey eyes shedding tears from opposite eyes. Their unbreakable bond obvious in their entwined hands as they shared each other's pain or laughter. Then there was the energetic Nibs with his charming boldness and passion for life. Slightly was next as you marveled at his aloof calmness that coupled with an underlying streak of intelligent mischievousness. A stab of agony twisted in your heart as you remembered Tootles with his boyish grin, his kind heart, and his steadfast courage.
However that was nothing compared to the agony of your soul when you finally rested on Peter. His wild auburn hair, the almost permanent naughty twinkle in his brown eyes, his sun kissed skin, the way he smelt like earth, wind, and water all at the same time. Remembering him as he was caused you more suffering than anything else you had ever experienced in your life. His reckless fearlessness that knows no limit, his unabashed cockiness, his fierce loyalty to his friends and brothers... There was an endless list of things that made Peter who he was and there were infinite reasons why you loved him for them all. You burrowed deep inside yourself desperately seeking the embrace of your memories as if thinking of them all hard enough may make them appear before you one last time before you left this world for good.
Still you didn't regret it. You didn't regret coming to Neverland, for it was here that you found your real strength and it was here where you found your true friends. Your time together may have been brief, but all of them had gone to bat for you numerous times. The bonds that you formed with them were more solid and real than the ones you had spent your entire life making with those back at home. You couldn't let yourself regret coming to The Courts either even if it was ending like this. At least you could die knowing you tried to do everything you could for the ones you loved. You were proud to have gone out fighting rather than sitting back at the treehouse waiting like a frightened little girl. You were no longer the scared child you were before you came to Neverland. The petty and trifle concerns of your former life now made you laugh. All those times you made yourself sick thinking about what you would do with your future, your constant worrying about what other people thought of you, the endless biting of your tongue when other's hurt you, forcing yourself to shrink to fit in with the crowd, crying by yourself because you couldn't let others see your weaknesses and all those nights of laying awake wishing you were someone else were over. You knew who you were now and you were no longer going to feel bad or apologize for it. No longer would you let yourself become someone else to please anyone else. You weren't afraid of responsibilities any longer because now you knew that responsibilities came with people and things you care about. The future was no longer this big terrifying void that you had to have planned out otherwise it would swallow you whole. It was now full of endless possibilities and moments in time that you were to live and cherish. It may have taken every single second of your life up until now to discover who you really were and what was really important, but you were just thankful that you got to realize it because looking back at it so very few people ever really get that chance.
Your one and only regret was that you would never get the chance to tell the ones you loved goodbye and to thank them all from the bottom of your heart. They would never get to know just how much they all meant to you or how much their presence in your life had changed you for the better. People change people. Standing on the precipice of life and death you reflected on how maybe you weren't meant for your world or this one but in the end you had found your home in the people by your side. You spent your last remaining minutes silently praying for Peter, The Lost Boys. Tiger Lily, the Picaninny tribe, Tinkerbell, and all of Neverland even the Faerie Court members. Wiping the tears from your eyes, you gathered the last tatters of your strength and pushed yourself up to your feet. Once you steadied yourself you lifted your chin high and clenched your fists at your side. You came into this world a weak little girl, but you would leave it a strong and proud woman. You would face your death now without fear. You trained your eyes on The Queen's and brazenly shouted out, "A deal's a deal. Finish it."
A look of something close to respect flashed across Rhiannon's golden eyes, but it was quickly done away with. Her face returned to it's harsh beautiful mask as she replied, "So be it." Then she lifted one long slender pale arm and a bright golden beam of intense light began to converge in the palm of her hand. It felt like she was stealing raw energy from the room and was forming it into a shining handheld nuclear bomb. Golden dust began swirling around her hand forming in large moving rings like an atom. This was it, this was the end of it all. You took one last deep breath and closed your eyes, ready for oblivion. "Farewell child." You heard Rhiannon say softly, almost regretfully. Then the light from her hand became so bright that even with your eyes closed you could see it. A loud keening sound filled the air as you felt the force of her power be unleashed.
Peter I hope I'll see you again in the next world...
To be continued…
Authors Note: Did not see that coming...or did you? Yes, ya'll I'm sad to say we've been rejected by The Faerie Courts...I don't really have much to say other than that lol. Could this really be the end of our adventure together? I can't say, we will just have to wait and see. Any ideas on how to get out of this mess? Stay tuned for the next chapter to find out what will happen next. Much love to you all!