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Chapter 9: Old Legends...Old Adversaries

Chihuatlan had had no intention of letting anyone find her. She had immediately taken the form of a black cat after running from the room. Embarrassed at her outburst, she ran through the hallways of the castle, hoping to work off a little steam.

"Hm... What do we have here?"

Hands restrained her, and Chihuatlan felt herself being lifted into the air. She struggled, anxious to get away, but she paused when she saw who she was being held prisoner by.

Owen had sucessfully caught the black shadow that had eluded him for so long. He stared at his prize, noticing (with some amusement) the slight glow of an aura around it. He smiled wryly.

"I believe it would be to your best interests if you revealed yourself." he said to the false feline.

The cat didn't even bat an eye.

"Mrrow." it said.

"You don't fool me even for a moment." Owen said, his curiousity piqued, "I can see your aura."

The cat answered him this time, and he was surprised at the obviously feminine voice.

"If I am to assume my true human form, you must do so also." she said.

Owen nodded. That was a fair request; though he was impressed that she had seen through his form. Sighing, he began the change, once again becoming Puck.

When he had finished the change, he looked over at his prisoner. What he saw almost made his heart stop.

"Talla?" he asked, his voice coming out in choked gasps, "Is it you?"

Chihuatlan glared at the sprite. "I am not my cousin, Puck." she retorted, staring him boldly in the face.

Puck's face fell as he realized his error.

"Not... my love?" he asked as if his life had been drained from him, "But you look just like her."

The shapeshifter eyed him coldly, "Yes, I have heard that Tallascrytha and I were similar in appearance. And I wouldn't expect her betrayer to be able to tell us apart."

"Betrayer???!!" Puck practically screamed the word, his face livid as he advanced a step, "I was many things to Talla: lover, fighter, friend. But never in our most darkest hour was I her betrayer."

Chihuatlan was stunned at this display of emotion from him, but she refused to believe a word he said.

"Why then has my cousin been lost to my people, as Tiamat was so long ago?"

"Why should I answer you?" Puck challenged her, "You havent even told me your name."

"It's 'Chihuatlan' if you must know." she retorted, "Now tell me!"

Puck closed his eyes, plainly struggling with his emotions.

"Okay," he said at last, "but not here. I would prefer a more comfortable setting to this unfeeling hallway."

Having said this, he made a sign in the air. As Chihuatlan watched, green fire arched from his fingers, forming a doorway in midair.

"Come on." he said, and without waiting for her answer, he pulled her through the portal.


When they emerged, Chihuatlan found herself staring at a very messy room. It was tastefully decorated here and there, and a canopied bed took up one side of the room.

Puck sighed and crossed the room to sit on the bed. He buried his face in his hands briefly, then slowly took them away, calming himself by running his fingers through his long, white hair.

"You called me Betrayer." he began, his voice steadier and not so grief stricken as it had been. "I do not deserve that title, for I loved your cousin, Chihuatlan. Loved her. And I still do."

Most of the raw anger and pain had gone from his voice, but Chihuatlan could sense the emotion and feeling behind his words. She found herself sympathizing with Puck, wanting to go over and comfort him. It was only with great difficulty that she remained unswayed by his emotional display.

Puck, meanwhile, had crawled onto the bed, drawing the curtains so there wouldn't be anyone to laugh at him if he cried. Unaware of Chihuatlan's indecision, he continued.

"The night that Talla was... stolen from me, I had brought her into the Children's realm, the place that served as our home before the journey to Avalon. This was forbidden, and I knew that I was disobeying the mandate of Lady Titania. But Talla herself had begged me to take her with me on my nightly routine, and I was sorely vexed at Titania at the time. So I agreed, and we flew into the night."

Here he paused for a moment, but Chihuatlan made no sound, so he continued.

"What followed was the best experience of my being. But disaster struck. My queen chanced to call upon me while Talla and I still slept after our bout of passion, wrapped in each other's arms. She recognized Talla at once as the ambassador's daughter, and she was angry. She woke both of us with her rage, and I begged for her forgiveness and understanding.

She was unswayed, however, and she charged us with a quest. She required both of us to go in search of the Swamp Witch's most prized treasure, the Harpy's Talon. This, she said, had been stolen from her long ago. Only by doing this could Talla and I redeem ourselves. I could not say no. I could not let my love court Titania's disfavor.

So we went deep into the lands of the Children, where the Swamp Witch's lair was rumored to have been; and we found the Harpy's Talon. But we were caught by the Swamp Witch, and she trapped Talla in a cage bound by silver. Unable to bear Talla's cries of agony, I surrendered the Harpy's Talon."

His voice grew angrier, and he had to swallow hard to keep the rage out of his story.

"She took us before the royal court and told Oberon how we had tried to steal the Harpy's Talon from her. To my surprise, it had been a gift to the Swamp Witch from Titania herself, and Oberon was furious that one of his wife's treasures had been tampered with. I tried to tell him the truth, but he would hear none of it; though he knows of the Children's inability to lie. In his rage, he sentenced Talla to exile from the lands of the Children and the lands of her own people. She was to be stripped of her title and have her memory erased."

He was unable to hold back his tears any longer, and he cursed himself for the moisture that rolled down his cheeks. The Children of Oberon were not supposed to cry, and here he was bawling like a baby.

Chihuatlan's sensitive ears picked up the unmistakable sound of crying, and she suddenly hated herself for her accusations.

{I'm no better than Angela...} she thought with a shudder, approaching the bed. Somehow, she had to make things right.

Puck heard footsteps approach the bed, and he started to turn away. But the shapeshifter surprised him. Instead of attacking him, she nuzzled his face, licking away his tears.
Gargoyles chapter 9
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December 17, 2016
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