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by William Maldonado

"Jensy, I thought you swore to stop fighting the sidhe!"

The boggan frowned deeply. The frustration in his eyes forced the satyr to turn her attention to the books around her. She could hear the boggan's fuming breath as he spouted angry poison at her and her heart cooled as she thought of arguments only days old which sounded exactly the same. Jensy and Gold were growing weary of this.

"…it isn't a secret that we are in love, if the sidhe think to use this against us than Horizon will be at risk…"

"Gold, you know how I love our daughter…'

"…Our!?"

The boggan's word stung Jensy, and she rose to her full 6 ft towering over the boggan and his precious stack of scrolls.

"Gold! That child may not be of my blood, but she is as much my responsibility and joy as she is yours."

Gold snorted and continued. "Your correct at that, but these raids of yours put us at risk. I am no fighter and our daughter is only 20 seasons of age. She is the last memory of Hilda and I wish to protect her." Gold rubbed the chimerical scar on his cheek, the gift of betrayal. "I am begging you to stop. I have sinned once against Hilda, and you and Horizon are all I have left."

Jensy sighed and nodded her head in agreement. What else could she do? She was in love with Gold and loved Horizon as a daughter, despite (or perhaps because of she wondered) the suicide of her birth mother at discovering Gold's infidelity.

"Dad may I come out now?"

A young girl with dark skin peered from around a shelf and gazed at her two 'parents.' She hated hearing them argue, but she always knew it was just Gold's overprotectiveness and Jensy's playfulness. When Gold nodded, the young eshu, Horizon ran and leapt into his fathers arms, then blew a kiss towards Jensy.

"I love you to," she said, and Jensy smiled while mentally planning that nights raid on the Sidhe.

She could hear the crackling of campfires and clearly smelled the gryphons meat and wine which pervaded the midnight air. She looked to her hooves being sure that her cloth padding was tight and in place, she couldn't afford tonight the clacking of goat hooves on stone. She peered around a corner and gazed into the hotel lobby and saw her quarry far past the encircled group of sidhe, a large box surely containing weapons or gold to fuel their effort. The mundanes marched around mindless and oblivious to the intentions of the wicked sidhe. She blew a kiss eastward, convinced and praying that the tuatha would see her when they rose with the sun. Then she cloaked herself in enchantment and dashed towards the hotel, with a pair of iron gauntlets close behind…

The sidhe were scattered enjoying the fruits of their conquest of the Ritz Hotel. The few commoners who hadn't fled were running around the room serving drinks to the gathered sidhe. Some were tending to the…baser appetites of the more unseelie in the crowd. All was going well for the righteous ambition of Lord Dafyll.

"A FIRE! THE KITCHEN IS ON FIRE!"

The sidhe leapt to their feet abandoning cup and woman rushing to help douse the flames. A few of the squires remained to watch the entry way to the hotel, and fell easily to the crack of a back against their sensitive heads. Jensy the satyr fled deeply into the night as the box, which lay in the kitchen burned with the rest of their tainted chimera meat.

Jensy was excited. Blood was pumping through her slender body and sweat clung tenaciously to her sinfully clad body. Her horns shook with the adrenaline of it all. Twice did she turn her head awaiting the expected footsteps of sidhe in pursuit, and twice did her search reveal nothing. However, she was no fool, and she circled several houses thrice before making the way to her home.

"You're back!"

Jensy wiped the sweat from her brow and grinned as Horizon leapt into her arms. Horizon squeezed her tight and cooed words of joy at her presence, and relief at her return.

"I won't tell daddy about tonight." Jensy stared her into her big eyes and was about to ask about her surprising knowledge when Horizon continued. "Don't worry about it, what's important is that your safe…"

Three knocks rang on the door.

"That must be daddy." Horizon let her go and turned to find a shower, when Horizon shrill cry filled the room.

"Jensy help!" Jensy turned around and saw a single sidhe with twin iron gauntlets standing inside the doorway. His eyes were hidden behind big black shades. His long silver hair blew in the wind coming through the door blowing wistful strands of hair over the shoulder plates of his armor. His gauntleted hand brushed aside some hair, revealing a tattoo on his neck, a silver wyvern-beast.

"So your one of the raiders who have plagued our great armies? Now that I know where you live and your loved ones…" He snapped a finger and tossed Horizon into the air, she stopped before hitting the ceiling and was suspended in mid air, her eyes nearly catatonic with fright. "…You'll have no choice but to fight me. Take my life and you and yours are safe…"

"How do I know you didn't bring others."

"Oh satyr, it only takes one sidhe to take out the trash."

He grinned and fell into his fighting stance waiting for Jensy to fight.

Jensy was quick to the attack and charged the satyr horns far ahead. Expectedly, the sidhe sidestepped, and Jensy threw out a spin kick, which struck his ribs. The sidhe caught Jensy's legs with his iron gauntlet and squeezed into her skin. It burned like fire but still the satyr fought on.

She threw a punch aimed straight into the back of the Sidhe's elbow forcing him to release his grip and the satyr pounced on the opportunity. She leapt on him and forced him to the ground pinning him with her weight and the weight of his armor. She began to pound away at his skull helmet denting it and bringing chimerical metal scraping his face and ears. Then the satyr brought both of her hands back for a final blow to his neck, when the satyr stared into her eyes.

"Stop it!"

The satyr's tensed hands trembled with the might of the words. An ancient force was holding her instinctual anger and resolve back. She could see the sidhe's exposed and soft neck and wanted to strike and strip the glamour and hope and life from the bastard noble who attacked her daughter, when the sidhe repeated his words.

"Stop it!"

Her muscles began to relax and her brow returned to their normal position. Her eyes softened and the fire within cooled. The Sidhe once more repeated his words.

"Stop it!"

Her knuckles returned to their normal color as her arms fell lazily to her side.

"Now tell me commoner, where are the others of your kind?"

Before she could argue, the satyr told him everything she knew about the local raiders. The sidhe smiled as a tear rolled down her cheek.

"I should take you for myself, but I'll be caught dead before screwing a goat." The sidhe pushed Jensy off of him and snapped towards horizon who fell asleep and floated towards the sidhe. "Instead, a hostage."

Although she would never be sure of it in the morning, as the sidhe took Horizon away from her life, Jensy could hear Horizon whisper her name.

"mommy…"

Gold returned to his home to find the house in shambles and Jensy lying beaten on the floor a single scar on her neck. Gold knew what it meant and left the house ready to search high and low for Horizon. He returned in a few nights the victim of a chimerical attack, which stripped him of his glamour. Gold had abandoned Jensy for her broken oath, and fell beyond her reach due to a sidhe attack at Scholar's Hill.

and the ending still makes me cry. Old Debts is the best fantasy I have read in my life."

In the back of his mind, Thomas Dunner wanted to ask the teary woman what was her 'best book' last week, but he didn't want to make a scene in the middle of the book store. His eyes focused at a point just above the woman's head and as his pen scratched his "original" signature for her he said, "It pleases me to hear that from a lady like you."

As expected, the woman's cheeks reddened as Thomas offered the autographed copy of his book to her. She reached for it gazing into his gray eyes. Their hands brushed and the woman snatched the copy away dashing out of the book store in embarrassment.

Thomas sighed and sipped from his ever present mocha cup. He closed his eyes enjoying the artificial energy warming his body and soothing his aggravated nerves. His eyes slitted partially and saw that only one more woman stood before him and lunch time. He placed the cup down on the coaster provided and threw the woman his trademark smile. "Good day, what do you want me to sign?"

The woman seemed calmer than the others who met him today, for her face held neither childish excitement nor needless emotion. She wore a white and red summer dress with some celestial print on it, and in her hands was an envelope.

The woman's plain lips parted and she said, "nothing." Thomas was surprised and stared upward into the woman's sad green eyes. She continued, "I only want to speak with you, tonight if possible…" As the woman spoke, Thomas sipped once more from his mocha, and took the time to study the woman. Her voice seemed saddened, but not in the usual hysterical 'oh-my-god-why-did-frodo-have-to-lose-his-finger' sort of way. But rather in the old wound reopened sort of way. Something about this woman picked at his memory but he waved the notion away.

"Miss, is it an interview you want?"

The woman seemed upset at his words, but regained her composure as her grip tightened on the envelope. "Yes…it's an interview."

She extended a hand to Thomas while introducing herself as 'Ms. Dhupree.' Thomas shook her hand and smiled for the first time that afternoon.

"Where shall we meet?"

Ms. Dhupree sighed and handed Thomas a business card from her purse. "I'll see you at 6."

Although Thomas wanted to sleep that night, he found he couldn't say no to this sweet woman who started to smell of cherries. But before he could ask more of this strange woman, she left the store as suddenly as she entered. Thomas stared into the space where she once stood for a moment before the sounds of the espresso machine and the chatter of business men returned. Right before him was a young man wearing a pair of shades on his head.

"Hey, Mr. Done-her? You ok." Thomas shook the scent of cherries from his consciousness remembering only the meeting that night, and wondering how did the line appear from nowhere….

It started to rain that night as Thomas reached the apartment where Ms. Dhupree told him to meet her. He clutched his umbrella handle tighter as he approached the brick and run down building. He guided his steps over the puddles and hardly noticed the paper which slapped him in the face as it flew along in the wind. In the instant before he threw it back to the wind he saw the bold print across the sheet entitled "The stolen child." As he finally reached the broken and rusty glass door he frowned as he thought of the words in his head. He wondered why he did but ignored the question as he pressed the doorbell once, twice, then thrice before hearing footsteps approach.

"Coming…" came the cry from behind the door and soon enough the vision through the glass door became Ms. Dhupree dressed exactly the same as she did earlier. "I'm so glad you came Thomas, come in!"

Ms. Dhupree opened the door and motioned for Thomas to enter. Then Ms. Dhupree took his coat from him and threw it in a nearby coat closet.

"Ms. Dhupree…'

"Please, just tonight call me Jan again…ok."

"Again Jen?"

"I'm sorry it's been a long day and I'm getting mixed up. But never mind that let's go into the dining room."

She whirled around and dashed deep into the surprisingly spacious apartment and that's when Thomas noticed the envelope from earlier lying on a mantle. He was entranced by it. Curiosity nagged at him to ask about the envelope or to just rip it open right then and there.

"Jen! Where's the dining room?" Thomas mentally slapped himself at the unseemly childish thought. It's her business what is inside the envelope. What he asked himself does it have to do with him. But still, as he followed the guiding voice of Jen, his eyes were fixed on the envelope.

"Thomas, come on!" Jen pulled him into the dining room and practically threw him inside of the far chair. Jen sat next to him and was about to speak when she covered her mouth. She breathed slowly for a moment and regained her calm. "I'm sorry, I'm just antsy at times. I would like to offer you a drink, but first I must tell you the truth of this meeting."

Thomas groaned, realizing that the women did seem to have ulterior motives back in the bookstore. He wanted to get up and leave, but something greater than paranoia kept him in his seat. Thomas then noticed the ice bucket with the bottle of wine chilling in it and wondered if she was only a groupie wanting to…taste an author.

"It's been one year since I've lost my lover to a noble attack, and ever since then I've been searching for the daughter we both knew. You see…" Jen was glad to see Thomas eating the food before him and continued her story. "…you see, I broke a promise and lost much more than you could probably imagined. I only wanted to show you that I did keep my promise to protect her."

It was then that a young girl peered around into Thomas' sight. At first there was nothing spectacular about her, except perhaps that she seemed to be experienced in the ways of the world despite her age. As she approached something heady filled Thomas' senses and he shut his eyes in pain. When he opened them again, he saw a young girl with dark skin, whom he immediately recognized.

"…Horizon!" He jumped to the girl and took the time to remove the chimerical belt from his waist. He hugged her tight and laughed for the first time in what seemed like a thousand years. He was locked in that position, until his mind took in the details of the house he was in. He recognized this from nearly a year ago as the house where he and his lover lay. Where he and Jensy and Horizon lived before that day…

Suddenly, he remembered the stranger who had brought them together and in his memories he saw a satyr whom he knew and loved. The boggan, Gold rose his full 5 ft and looked for Jen to thank her. It was then that she heard the slamming of the front door and saw only the large brown envelope from earlier, where she once sat. The boggan heard the sad sighs of Horizon and opened the envelope spilling the contents into his work worn hands. His eyes scanned over the two parchments and tears streamed over his face as his voice repeated the words on the parchment.

"Old debts are not easily repaid…"

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