The Ancient Pythoness moves through the courtyard of her villa. The fragrant smell of flowers fills the night air; nightingales sing from the trees. She can feel the light of the moon on her skin while she walks towards the fountain in the center of the courtyard and sits down on the stone, staring unseeing into the water below. Tonight reminds her of a night so long ago, a night she thought would be the happiest of her life. She releases a small sigh as she allows the memories to wash over her.
“You’re still as beautiful now as you were on your wedding night,” Niall’s voice calls out as he walks out of the villa into the courtyard. He wears a black suit, white striped shirt, and yellow tie. He smiles as he looks at his sister. “Your dress even reminds me of your wedding,” he says as he brushes his fingers across the sleeve of her yellow robe and gown. He then sits down next to her on the stone wall surrounding the fountain.
The Ancient Pythoness snorts softly at her brother’s words. “Now which one of us is blind?” The grin fades slowly from her lips. “That was so long ago. . . sometimes it seems like that was someone else’s life. . . a different life. There are times I find it hard to believe that was my life.” Her eyes grow misty as she stares through the vast expanse of time that holds her memories.
Niall smiles indulgently at his younger sister as he looks back through time. “Yes, the world has changed much during our lives.”
The Ancient Pythoness’ face hardens. “It is changing still. I think the most significant changes are yet to come.” She rises from the stone bench and walks into the villa.
She walks into her drawing room, crossing to the bell pull thus ringing for her maid. Within a few minutes, the maid brings in a cart containing several types of beverages for Niall and a decanter of blood for herself. “Would you like me to fix you a drink, Brother?”
Niall comes into the room, unbuttoning his jacket so that he can sit on the settee. “I’ll have my usual if you don’t mind.”
“Ice?” The Ancient Pythoness reaches for a tumbler and the decanter. She pours a liberal dose of the amber liquid into the tumbler.
“Yes, please.” Niall settles comfortably on the settee. The Ancient Pythoness drops a few ice cubes into the scotch. She pours herself a glass of blood and carries both drinks to the settee. Niall takes his drink from her hand. The Ancient Pythoness sits carefully on the settee and lifts her glass to her brother.
“I think a toast is in order,” she says with a smile.
Niall smiles as he raises his glass, “What are we toasting?”
The Ancient Pythoness smiles in return. “To the future,” she says. The siblings clink glasses and both drink deeply. The Ancient Pythoness sets her glass on the side table. “That’s why I asked you here tonight, Brother. I wanted to discuss the future with you.”
Niall drains his drink, the light fading from his eyes as he stares at his sister. “Have you had another vision my dear?” He rises from the settee and walks to the beverage cart, filling the tumbler almost to the brim with more scotch. Niall keeps his back to his sister.
“Yes, Niall, I have.” The Ancient Pythoness coldly smiles at her brother’s back. “I have seen the future, and a change is coming. There will be a shift in the vampire hierarchy. There will also be a shift in the power structure of the Supernatural Council; a new member will join our ranks.”
Niall chugs the contents of his drink before slamming the tumbler down against the cart. He turns around with a feral smile on his face. “And who will be joining our ranks, my dear sister? Is someone stepping down?”
Niall steps menacingly towards his sister. “The Council has spoken? Why was I not informed of a Council meeting? I am, after all, the Fae representative on the Council.”
The Ancient Pythoness sits calmly on the couch, pulling the hood of her robe down. “As the highest ranking Council member, I approached the other members explaining your deceit. Once they learned how you have turned on all of us, they were only too happy to remove you from your place on the Council. They have also decided that you need to be removed as leader of the Fae.”
Niall leans over his sister, his face twisted in a snarl. “And you think you can take care of me dear sister? You think YOU are capable of removing me from power? When have you EVER been able to defeat me? There is a reason I am the Prince of the Fae and you became a vampire.” Niall’s mouth snaps closed as he realizes he said too much and he hurriedly steps away from The Ancient Pythoness. His hand goes to the tie at his throat, loosening the constricting article of clothing. Perspiration beads on his forehead, and he clears his throat several times.
The Ancient Pythoness rises slowly from her seat, her face twisted in pain. “It was you,” she whispers. “The night I was turned, my maker was lying in wait for me, as if he knew exactly when to expect me. He was told that a woman in a yellow gown,” her hand brushes the fabric of her dress in remembrance, “would be his for the taking. He was told that I would be the most delicious thing he ever tasted.” Blood tears fall from her eyes, staining her gown. “HOW COULD YOU?”
Niall clears his throat before speaking. “I did what I had to do! I have ALWAYS done what needed to be done! I made sure that I would be the only ruler of the Sky Fae. And I made sure I ended your maker so you would be free. I did what was best for both of us!” Niall clears his throat again and undoes the top button on his shirt.
“IT WAS MY WEDDING NIGHT!!!!” The Ancient Pythoness vamps to her brother and sends him flying across the room into the gilded mirror. He lands in a heap on the floor, shattered pieces of glass landing all around him. The scent of blood drifts through the air. The Ancient Pythoness stalks slowly towards her brother, her rage channeling into a bright blue glow surrounding her body. “You took EVERYTHING from me!” She stands over her brother, daring him to move.
Niall pushes himself into a sitting position. Blood trickles from a myriad of cuts on his face, a large shard of glass sticks out of his arm. “So you think to take everything from me in return? Did you ever stop to think that what I did gave your existence a greater purpose?” Niall glares at his sister with hatred in his eyes. “You are revered by all the Supernatural races. Do you think such a thing would have happened if you stayed a Fae? If you had stayed a Fae, you would have faded to the Summerlands by now.”
“But I do know what my life would have been like had I remained a Fae,” The Ancient Pythoness says quietly, the blue glow fading as her rage is replaced with sorrow. “I would have been happily married to the man of my dreams until the end of my days. I would have been a mother. You would have been king of all the Fae. Our race would have flourished in our realm. And I would have gone to the Summerlands with my beloved.” Tears flow freely down her face. “But you took that life away from me; instead your selfish action forced me into a different life. But you will learn, Brother dear, every choice has consequences.”
Niall tries to rise to his feet, but finds he is unable to do so. He feels as if his throat is swelling shut, and his skin feels as it if is on fire. He looks at The Ancient Pythoness with fear on his face for the first time. He rasps out, “What did you do to me?”
“I made a choice,” The Ancient Pythoness says coldly. “I am surprised you did not taste the lemon in your scotch,” she says in an offhand way. Niall’s eyes widen with understanding; she has poisoned him. “Good-bye Niall.” The Ancient Pythoness turns her back on her brother, walking out of the room without a backwards glance.
Niall sits against the wall, his body slowly succumbing to the toxicity of the lemon. His organs are shutting down one by one, his skin is covered in hives, his breathing slows, and his tongue swells as the anaphylactic shock sets in. Niall closes his eyes in defeat, waiting for death to take him.
A shadow crosses in front of Niall, forcing him to open his eyes. “For everything you have done, a slow, painful death is exactly what you deserve,” Fintan says venomously as he stands in front of his father with an iron sword. “You have thought nothing of sacrificing family for your personal gain. Many have suffered and died because of your greed.”
Niall stares at his son scornfully. “And you think you will be a better ruler than I? You are my son; you will be no better than me,” he says with a cruel smile.
Fintan glares at his father. “I am NOTHING like you. For starter’s, I will show you mercy where you have shown none to others. Good-bye Father.” Fintan pierces the heart of his father with the iron blade. Niall Brigant, Prince of the Sky Fae, vanishes in a pile of dust. Using his light, Fintan burns the ashes of his father so that nothing is left.
Fintan finds his aunt standing in the courtyard of her home, her face lifted to the moon in the sky. He stands beside her with his face also raised to look at the moon.
The Ancient Pythoness looks at her nephew with bloody tear tracks down her face. She bows respectfully to her nephew. “Thank you; despite everything, I could not do it myself.”
Fintan sighs tiredly. “It needed to be done. He allowed power to corrupt him.”
The Ancient Pythoness smiles sadly at Fintan. “See that you do not make the same mistakes, Fintan, Prince of the Sky Fae.”