Adventuring through twisted time.
Libelle had grown into her role of being the Drake Empress; her species was one that was rare but there were enough of them that followed her. Becoming a leader had been utterly hard on her mainly because she didn’t view herself as one. Yet when her people needed her she stepped up to help them. She had learned through that time who had started the banisher groups the people that feared the Drakes so desperately it made no sense to her. Why would the sanguine family of Dracula fear her people enough to create the banishers. Well that wasn’t all true the Banishers were created to destroy the Dragons. Causing her Great uncle to fuse their souls with the riders. So the Drakes were born. Yet the death of her uncle by a banisher caused the drakes to run in fear.
That Fear was still inside of the Drakes anytime one gets close to another. There was always that fear that man or woman you were falling in love with could be the person who is just there to end your life. So when Libelle learned of the bloodline that created the banishers was still around her curiosity was piqued. She found herself watching the children of the bloodline. Wondering which one would be the weakest of them. Wondering who she could take, part of her wanted revenge after all these people were the reason her great uncle and her father were dead in a way. She landed on one, she didn’t know her name but she knew she could easily take her. She seemed to be the one who was alone a lot.
So Libelle watched her leave going for her evening walk. Libelle fell into the walk behind her after a moment. As she gained space between them, and no one else was around she let her sleep gas pass her lips and blew it in the direction of the woman. As she watched the woman waver she moved in and caught her before she fell to the ground. Libelle ran her finger against the woman's neck to feel her breathing before moving to hold her to her side. She made the short distance to the home she had been in at that moment. Once in the home she placed the woman on the ground and locked chains around her that had been blessed so she couldn’t break the bounds of the chains easily. She moved sitting in a chair and waited for her to wake from the knockout gas.
Artemis was incredibly thick-headed. So while Libelle clarified. Artie had already been rubbed the wrong way. The was also the fact that she had a very feral side no one knew or remembered. If she snapped...
Well, it was better she didn't.
That mood change. That mood change in Artie after The Wind took hold of her was important. Something to remember. To keep in mind. Her tone was softer. Her eyes were sad. The Wind told her something that was very clear. But why would it sadden her? Libelle was seeing the surface of the complexity of Artemis.
The drums at night. They rolled out to call the Gypsy people home. To the safety of the nearest caravan. The drums at night were only heard by those called by the wind. The drums at night had been calling. But Libelle didn't come. The hours turned to days. Days!! The already slightly sad Artemis fell deeper into a state of sadness. And that truly baffled her people. This wasn't all the Artemis they knew. She was always joyous. She always smiled. Laughed. Dance with fire. Played with the children. Always walked with The Wind. It rocked the Gypsies that she was this different in this way. Not even The Wind could push her out of this funk.
She knew now she should've explained the call of the drums. But being Uncle Jeo's wife she assumed he'd had told her about the drums. They could save her life. Save her child. Did he really make that crucial mistake in forgetting to tell her?
"She isn't coming."
Artemis confided to The Wind as it tried to comfort her. Missing her joy.
When night came and the drums called with it. Artemis was with the children. Telling them a story that took all of her to tell. She was animated. Her voice changing with each character. Her body language with it. The Wind bringing her words to life without her even having to do anything. They were a team. Truly in sync. Even to go as far as gently blow Libelle's scent into Artemis's senses as she finished spinning her wild tale.
Artemis offered from behind Libelle suddenly. A soft charming smile at the corner of her lips. Her fiery green eyes softer than they'd been before. Her hand gently extended to Libelle.
"It's not every day, we celebrate three people coming home."
Following the drums was disorienting to the Drake. It sounds like they were coming from everywhere and she couldn’t fully remember if Jeovani had mentioned drums or not. Was this a gypsy thing or a Sanguine thing? She wondered as she followed the sound. She was regretting leaving the little Lizard behind. She missed him already but knew she needed to understand. There was something about this all that made the hair on her arms raise up.
The closer she got. The warmer she got which she was thankful for. The Drake thrived in the warm air. She picked up on the voices, the singing, the smells of the gypsy and her body relaxed slightly out of nature. Then her mind wondered if Jeovani was here and if he was she would be giving him a piece of her mind not being home with her and their few months old child.
She drew closer only to jump as Artemis came behind her. She turned to look at the girl taking her in. This was not the Artemis she had met that night. The one she kidnapped to talk too. This girl was joyous and seemed much younger than before. Happier and not as angry. Had she consumed blood? Or was this how she was when she wasn’t kidnapped and questioned.
Out of confusion she took hold of Artemis' hand and raised a brow. “Three people? Coming home? What are you talking about? Why did you want me to follow the drums?” After a quiet moment she looked at the people. “Is Jeovani among you?” She softly asked her free hand moving to rest on her stomach in a protective nature.
Artemis pulled Libelle close the moment she took her hand. Wading her through the wilds of people dancing. And though many came close to colliding with them both while lost in the rhythm of their dancing they never touched them. Never even came close enough for a breeze to brush against the two women as they slipped through the crowd. It was peculiar honestly, there was no way the gyrating Gypsies could avoid them on their own. But this was just another sign of precisely how much The Wind truly loved Artemis. Not even her own could come close to bumping her. Hurting her even by accident in some way. And because she was holding onto Libelle that odd and one of a kind blessing passed to her while they held hands.
Which again begged the question,
Why was Libelle able to kidnap her?
And The Dracula's before her?
Artie lets a soft and sad chuckle loose hearing Libelle's question. But clearly, she didn't find it funny and actually looks away from her and out at the people around them. Completely missing how protective of her stomach Belle had become. She drops her head and let a soft huff out from her nose. A frown growing at the edges of her lips. "Uncle Vega isn't here." She highlights the word uncle but before anything else could be said. She spins Libelle out into the crowd to dance. Allowing her to be quickly swept up in a sea of familiar faces. All her cousin's in-laws who were at her wedding and come by when they can to make sure she's okay when Vega is away. All smiling faces happy to see her.
Libelle is Family.
Yet before she is completely consumed by their family Artemis plucks her from the crowd again. Knowing their family of mostly men can be very overwhelming. And so, before they knew it they were far enough away from everyone. Moving farther into the desert until it's just them alone under the moon. Far enough away from the caravan to have some privacy and yet close enough to still see the large bond fire at a faint distance and hear the thumping of the drums like a steady heartbeat. Artemis sits down in the silver sand made this color by the moon above and stares up at it.
She is quiet for a while. The moonlight highlighting her striking features which are pulled down by her sadness.
"Have you ever... stared up at the moon and. .. wondered... "is that person staring back at it with me?" Making your distance feel a bit ... less? That maybe there was someone, somewhere staring up at the same moon and somehow that connects you? Or that there's someone you've never met, going through or feeling the same thing; and they're just... staring up at our sister moon with you, hoping for the same answers in their distant lands? And so, suddenly, you feel less alone in a world so dark."
She closes her eyes. Not expecting an answer to her rhetorical words. She takes a steady breath and blinks back the tears burning her waterline. "You probably don't remember me, I was a turbulent child. Violent and unable to use my words properly. I destroyed everything I came near with no control of it. So... When I heard that Jeo was getting married I didn't want to go." She swallowed, a clear lump sitting in her throat. Staring down at the sand below her. "I was so scared that by me just being there I'd ruin it. Your wedding. And you know what. I did. Because instead of dancing with you for the first time as a couple he had to step out of his own wedding and calm me down." She frowned very heavily and couldn't bring herself to look at Libelle.
"For a long time, I blamed myself for you not living with or come to visit the caravan. The other gypsies didn't say it..." She looks past Libelle and back towards the camp. "... But I think they blamed me too. So when The Wind told them you would be coming one night they prepared this celebration just for you. Except to their surprise, I came home first. So the celebration for you became very slightly bigger because now it was a welcome home for us both." She finally looked at her. "I'd been missing for so long they'd all assumed I was dead. When really, to my own surprise my "Aunt" was holding me captive." She held her gaze but there was no anger in her eyes. Or bitterness in her tone. Just sadness and regret.
"When I first went missing Mama refused to accept that I was just gone." She pauses and looks down again. Quickly closing her eyes and shaking her head to rid her mind of the memory playing in her head of what was go come. "My time isn't now." She says so softly it was almost as if she hadn't said it at all. "She'd set out with some of our relatives, Uncle Vega included, to search for me. It's probably why he came and went so often through the years because he had to return to the search for me. But upon hearing I was at last home Mama called off her search and sent news she too would be coming back. And so, The Wind made it so you and she would return home the same day. So the celebration grew once more."
The sound of the drums changed and very joyous singing could be heard from where they were. "That would be her." Artemis confirmed as she rose and dusted herself off. She stopped and gave a very sad look up to the moon once again. "I was hoping the moon would be full tonight but there's a tiny sliver of it still encased in darkness. And in that darkness therein lays your answers. Though I've probably just created more questions for you now." She gave a faint smile to apologize for that. "You can ask me and I'll do my best to answer. And as for the answers, you came here for... The moon will be full tomorrow..."
There was more to that sentence but before she could finish a very strong "ARTEMIS KELLY!" could be heard from beside them. And suddenly, Mama was right in front of them. Just seeming to appear with her hands on her hips and eyes locked on Artemis. The moment she saw her daughter though, who, mind you, wouldn't look at her, was the moment you could see her heartbreak and demeanor change altogether. She cautiously approached and then with even more caution took Artie's face in her hands and hugged her. Artemis flinched immediately at the intimate contact as she let all the armor she had been struggling to keep on fall the moment someone was wanting to be close.
"We should talk" Mama's voice is now very soft and as she pulls away she turns her attention to Libelle. Her eyes go wide and turn into crescent moons as she smiles. "Hello, my beautiful niece!" She laughs out and pulls Belle into a loving hug before she can see it coming. "Aunt Libelle is the one who found me and brought me home." Not even The Wind exposed that that wasn't fully the truth. And with a faint smirk, Artie winks at Belle. She wouldn't ever expose the truth either. Mama pulls back and lets Libelle go "well then we are even more blessed to have you in this family than even I knew..."
"... Uncle Vega should be home, right? We don't want to keep them apart." Artie is quick to cut in. Knowing Mama will keep her here talking her ear off. Making her miss her one opportunity to see her husband for the night before The Wind whisks him away again. Mama is of course quick to agree, chuckling lightly as Artie playful nudges her back towards the camp. "The moon will be full tomorrow. So please, come back... But make sure Little Lizard is safe and that you're ready. I can't tell you how long you'll be away from home."
Dancing honestly through the drake for a loop she was at the mercy of the woman she had kidnapped briefly. As she twisted her through the crowd without bumping or colliding into any of the other gypsies that were letting loose. She felt the swirl of panic and laughter all bubbling up at once as she chose to give into the laughter for a moment. Being among Vega’s family and people made her feel like she had a family again. It had been so long since she felt safe. Why did she feel so safe among the gypsies? Was it because she was bound to Vega or was it because Gypsies shared a similar pain that the drake herself had been through.
She knew he wasn’t his scent wasn’t there and yet she hoped that he was. She wanted to tell him she was with their second child. Yet she just frowned alone with Artie. “Well, the wind will bring him home one day.” She said even softer in that moment before her eyes grew big. “Wait Uncle? Are you and Vega related?” She then felt a wave of guilt over everything that had happened. She felt the tears come to her eyes as she took in all the faces and felt them fall as pregnancy made it hard to keep her cold appearance. “I’m so sorry.” Was all she could get out in that moment as she closed her eyes trying to stop the tears.
As she was taken away by Artemis she found herself sitting in the sand beside her in the quiet moment. She rested her hands in the sand. It was still hot from the day of the sun. It was nice to the drake the heat was something that kept her going. The quiet lingered for a long moment as she shifted her fingers from the hot sand to rest on her stomach once again. She shifted her gaze back up to the sky taking in the moon for a moment along with Artemis words. “Yes, I have stared at the moon and all of those things have crossed my mind at some point.” She said softly as she frowned towards the moon. “Though loneliness would often return no matter what.”
She felt the sadness from Artemis as she talked about ruining her wedding. Gypsies traveled time in such a way it made it hard for her to know what age most of them were when they first met. So she had to think hard but didn’t interrupt her talking. A strange timeline was being spun to her which was only a few hours to her, was long to the gypsy. She swallowed hard and looked from the moon down to the silver sand. “Well maybe I can place your mind at ease. I never didn’t visit because of you or any other gypsy. I guess I never thought about it too much because you all came to me so often.” She admitted at that moment. She had no idea she was hurting her new family in such a way.
When the drums changed she looked over her shoulder then back to Artemis. “You speak in so many riddles it makes my fogged brain spin. You are not the same Artemis I met not long ago. How long has it been since I took you and let you go? Where did you go?” She felt her head spinning with this all but sighs knowing that answers would not come tonight. Which meant she needed to stay a night away from the little lizard, something she wasn't sure she was ready for. Yet she couldn’t say more as he heard the screaming of Artemis' name. Which caused the Drake herself to flinch.
She took in the woman and felt her eyes grow big as she watched her hug Artemis and realized this was in fact the Mama she had heard about so often but had yet to meet. “Hello.” was all she could get out as the woman wrapped her into a hug. Though she looked between Artie as she stated she was the one to bring her home. Confusion crossed her face quickly but left. She looked at Mama couldn’t bring words to her lips. As Artie cut in about Vega she felt her heart swell. Following Artie's nudges back to camp. “He should be home soon?” she asked finally as she nodded. “I will see you on the full moon.” She agreed before following the way she had entered.
Her time there was confusing she wasn't even sure if it was real or a fever dream. She wasn’t sure if she would see Artemis the next day or if it would be months. All she knew is she wanted to go home and be with her son. Once she was home she went to work to get Little Lizard taken care of with his nurse and when the next night came and the drums rang out she followed them waiting for Artemis to sweep her away.
In silence Artemis watched Libelle vanish from sight. Flicking her wrist to send with her The Wind to keep her safe until they saw each other again. She smiled in knowing Libelle would be in for a surprise tonight. As Vega would be there at some point in the night. Mama watched Artie very carefully. And eventually, the two descended to Mama's tent. Where for the next HOURS they would catch up on the years Artemis had been missing. They needed days. Weeks. Or even months to do this but they didn't have that.
Silence fell on them again. Broken by a heavy huff from Mama. "The last time you were this quiet was when you first came to us." You could hear the frown in her voice. And it made Artie drop her head. weighed down by shame and her thoughts attacking her.
"The worst thing about overthinking is I don't know if I am overthinking. Or if I'm just... Thinking logically."
Artemis sat and buried her face in her hands. "I once told you I would have to make two pivotal choices in my life. Two choices that could set everything in motion or... I don't know. I'm afraid of what happens if I make a different choice than the one I've seen myself make. "
Mama sat in front of Artie with clear concern plastered across her face. "If you think something bad will happen... Then... It can't be called a choice." She moved closer and put her hand over Artemis's heart. "Not for someone with a heart like yours." She whipped the tears away from Artie's face. "I can take your place."
"No..." Artemis had never said anything quicker and sadder in her life. Letting her guard down completely for the first time. Allowing herself to rest her head on Mama's shoulder.
And so the sun had come and gone. The full moon was here allowing Artemis time to pull herself back together before Libelle arrived again. She waited for her by the entrance this time. Smiling warmly as her Auntie approached. "I hope Uncle Vega enjoyed your little surprise as much as you enjoyed the surprise of him being home." She gave Libelle a wink. She knew she was pregnant but wouldn't say anything. Artemis was just grateful to be able to be in their lives for a little.
"Felt like an eternity but it's only been a few days. You asked last night how long it had been for me and it's been the same amount of time as it has for you."
Artemis valued and regarded time extremely different from the rest of the world. Despite time already being relative.
Maybe it all boiled down to her time slowly fading with every passing second. Feeding into her fear that she didn't do enough to give everyone she loved a piece of her heart...
She gently took her hand to lead her into the camp. "No dancing I promise." The moment they touched The Wind returned to Artemis. Transferring from Belle back to her. But Artie never missed a beat. She kept walking until they reached Mama's tent. Who clearly wasn't expecting them as she was caught mid sip of drinking tea with her husband. "Oh sorry. I just feel better if you both watch us."
Leander chuckled. He had met Libelle several times now. Coming to help Vega with one thing or another or even just to see if Libelle needed help while Vega was away. They both welcomed the ladies. And so Artemis sat, inviting Libelle to do the same. "Has Uncle Vega told you anything about what Gypsies can do? Outside of Windwalking and illusion, I mean?"
"Has he ever mentioned Dreamwalking to you?"
Time had flown and passed how it was going to before it was the next time she was meant to meet up with Artemis, their meeting prior had given the Drake many questions and wonders of what she was, and how she was connected to the Drake everything that flowed between them. She was lost in the way of the gypsy even being with one didn’t make her understand the ways in fact she was sure that is what made her much more confused by it all. So following the sounds and wrapped in the warmth for the heat of the sands once again. “I will admit I had missed him a long time so seeing him again was needed.”
She gave a nod in that moment with a soft hum, “I feel as though time moves so differently for you all. It feels as if sometimes the gypsy are not insync to the world around them.” She said for a moment before letting out a soft sigh before smiling towards her. “I figured it was just part of the magical beings.” reaching slowly towards Artie for a moment to give her shoulder a light squeeze.
Following behind artemis as they drew closer towards a tent. “I am glad because I would rather not dance, honestly the warmth here just makes me want to bask in it before returning to London.” She chuckled softly towards her before catching the eyes of the woman she knew as Mama from her last moments there. Though Artie next words caused her brows together for a moment. “Watch us?” being from the background she was from her mind wondered if she was about to enter into an orgy she wasn’t planning on. Clearing her throat nervously.
Moving to sit among the people who had become family over time with her, she took a sigh of relief for a moment. She moved her fingers through her hair softly before looking up to the tent for a moment. “Ah no, we talk about it as it comes up.” She said for a moment before looking back to Artie then. “Dreamwalking? Ah no, I don’t believe we have. Why are you bringing us all up?” She asked softly.
"The Wind, for many of us distorts time. Sometimes it's hard to keep up. Find your barrings. Know what's real or a dream. Or even what day or year it is. And with all the different species that make us up... Well, the distortion affects us all rather differently."
The thing about Artemis was that while she was purposely shrouded in confusion and mystery. Her words there were wholeheartedly honest. And they would continue to be throughout the night. That made her feel a bit rawer. Vulnerable. A feeling she of all gyspsies went through hell and high water to avoid. As they sat in the tent with the Queen and King Artemis quickly caught on to the nervousness in Libelle's voice. She was really hoping she would say yes to her question but upon hearing, that Vega hadn't yet explained dreamwalking she groaned.
And from her mouth, a slew of Romani flew from her lips. Whispering into everyone's ears.
Mama gave her a pointed look which made her sigh. "Language... I know. Sorry." Mama didn't even need to open her mouth for Artemis to apologise. She took a deep breath that strengthened her back. Puffing up her cheeks as she exhaled. "Every Gypsy has a unique gift they can choose utop the other gifts The Wind gives us. Wind Control, Foresight, Heightened Senses, and Dreamwalking."
She paused a moment as she gazed out of the tent. Wondering how she'd explain each one and if that was even necessary. "You're familiar with Wind Control I know because that's the gift Uncle Vega choose." She rose and closed the entrance of the tent. Sitting again and returning her Emerald embered gaze to Libelle. Then her parents. "As their daughter, I have the option to choose all the gifts if I like. But I don't. Many of my siblings don't. I chose Dreamwalking. Though I bargain with The Wind to trade depending upon what other gift I may need at the moment."
She huffed. Feeling like she was rambling without actually explaining. "I tried foresight yesterday hoping that maybe The Wind would use the moon and sand to show us what happened on the night in question. But I forgot foresight only looks to the future and can only reveal a little of the gypsy's fate. And it only works during a full moon. " she scratched the back of her head slightly embarrassed which made Leander chuckle softly at his daughter.
"The most precious gift The Wind gave us is also the most delicate. Dreamwalking. Essentially, what happens is, that we fall asleep, and our conscious's enter a place where our minds and memories have come together to be seen again. And it's not just our memories but the memories of blood relatives before us. But before that scares you I can't see anything you don't want me to. It's not the same for me, however. The Dreamwalker can become a victim to their guests running free through their innermost memories..." The was a pause. A reluctance as she battled her emotions.
"... But the guest is also a victim of the Dreamwalker's emotions and feelings. If they enter a painful memory they'll feel their pain. The same goes for their joy. Love. Fear..."
Artemis stopped again. Nibbling on her bottom lip.
"That's why this is the most precious gift. Because when we wake up we won't be strangers anymore and our hearts will always be a little connected to each other. Not to the point of feeling what the other feels but knowing what we've felt. Giving us a sense of camaraderie and understanding." Artemis looked away with faintly pursed lips. Oh, she was going to kick Vega's arse the next time she saw him because he should've been the one to do this with his wife first.
"As a species, we always look after each other when we dreamwalk. Especially with a guest..." Leander spoke up. "...To keep your bodies safe as The wind guides your soul and to wake you if it becomes too much for the heart to bear."
Distorting was a good word for when it came to the Gypsy and their ways. She couldn’t overly argue that point. She wondered how they all dealt with it or if they were so accustomed to it at a point in their lives that it became just nature. Though all the Gypsy she had met seemed to have fully grasped the mystery and distorted life with scary control, maybe they found comfort in the confusing state to throw others off who often cast them aside. These were all guesses at that moment, after all she was a part of their family but she didn’t live in the wind like they did.
The drake raised an eyebrow to Artemis as she let the slew of Romani past her lips, she knew it was cursing but that is as far as she knew. She gave a chuckle out of her lips because the fact she was apologizing for it without the woman that she knows as mama having to say a word. She was no stranger when it comes to having abilities, after all they were different species and it seems like each species had their uniqueness. Gypsies seemed to have a whole next level of uniques.
Sitting there and listening to Artemis as she spoke of the gifts, nodding about Vega's gift as it was in fact the wind she was the most comfortable with. Her eyes stayed transfixed onto her as she was the whole reason she was there. She raised her brow at learning that being the daughter of the leaders of the gypsy she was blessed to have all the gifts but didn’t so she chose to bargain with dreamwalking. That in itself raised a lot of questions but she couldn’t even figure out how to form that question at that moment.
Seeing her get lost in her own explanation on what she wanted to do to figure everything out. Her gaze shifted to Leander as he chuckled to his daughter before looking back at her herself. “I will admit myself that I find it rather interesting that you can do that as the daughter of them. I want to know if my children will. Well.” Feeling herself stumbling over her own train of thought. “We can talk about that later.” she waved her hand to move back to what Artemis wanted to show her.
Listening to Artemis explain why dreamwalking itself was the most delicate of gifts and how it would create a bond, one she would admit she longed for with Jeovani. That closeness is something that would make their love even stronger. Yet here was his family in need of doing this for a reason that hadn’t yet fully revealed itself. “I understand what you are saying with the bond it will create and the dangers it holds, Artemis, what is the reason you want to share this experience with me?”
Her gaze moved to Leander as he spoke up and gave a nod to him understanding that she would be safe but really she was confused on why she wanted this bond with her. “I thank you for looking out for us but…” She then felt the bulb go off in her brain on what would bring this on, the reason they came to meet in the first place. The fact she kidnapped her for answers on the banishers since they were created by the dracula bloodline which is something she holds in her blood. “So all secrets will be laid out, are you sure you want me to know all of this?” she finally asked Artie wanting her to be comfortable with this also and not feel she has to share such parts of herself.