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Assault on a King

Jair's Journey: Part Two
Written by Jair and Lilly
(Note:  This is meant to take place before Reunion Part Two)
Ancient oak trees lined the clearing in a perfect circle.  Planted  centuries ago, the silent sentinels guarded the portal within.  Both the oaks and the grass-covered meadow were drastically out of place in the heart of the tropical jungle surrounding Val Island's volcano, as there was a rip in the fabric of the universe that allowed this small patch of forest to leak trough.  In the center of this whimsical field sat Lilly, Val Island's wild Irish Grigori.
Gleaming red tresses cascaded around Lilly's shoulders as she leaned back on her arms turning her face up to bask in the sun's warmth.   A long skirt spread across the ground around her, covering the legs crossed in front of her.   Lilly was lost in thought, trying desperately to think of something other than the conversation she'd had with Reese earlier in the day.
Moving to the castle with Joe had seemed so wondrous, so perfect.  It seemed like the answer to all Lilly's dreams.  Finding Leabhar there had been shocking, but Lilly felt sure with Joe by her side, she could summon the courage and strength to deal with him.  It wasn't that she didn't trust her sister, Sharon's, judgement, but Lilly wasn't sure Sharon knew all the history concerning the dangerous Grigori.

<Still, if Sharon can find something to love in the Naphillum, perhaps in is time I search for the same.> Lilly thought.  <Or at least I find some way to tolerate his presence.  Until then, I shall pray for a way to sort out the "other" problems between the Dark Grigori and I.>

Anyway, Lilly didn't plan on making a habit of running into Leabhar all that often, so life at the castle with Joe still sounded like Heaven on earth to Lilly.  That was until Reese had cornered her today.
What the young knight had told Lilly had drained everything from her emotional reserves.  deBracy had explained that he
didn't feel "cut out" to be a proper father and husband at this stage in his life and so he was "bowing out".  To say she was shocked would be an understatement, and yet, Lilly knew that Reese had been so terribly unhappy for so long.  She also knew that since coming to the island, he had become a new man.  Reese had told her that returning to a world where he felt familiar and comfortable had reminded him of all the things he'd missed and/or given up in that other modern world.

Perhaps he was as confused and frightened as she was and just needed time to adjust. Lilly couldn't take it all in, either.  It was all too much, too fast. Emotions and complications, good and bad, and all of them strong coming at her from all directions.  It seemed like her mind just suddenly shut down.

Unable to think, Lilly had acted on instinct and had simply ran, needing to get  away from the castle and all the hustle, bustle, and hassles.  She had wanted to run to Joe, but he was busy with preparations for the Christmas Celebration; and Sharon had left to speak with Bo, leaving Lilly alone to deal with the chaotic  motions surging through her.
Her flight had brought her back to a place of renewal - to the jungle, to the ancient  oaks - in search of peace to replace the chaos inside.  In the meadow, Lilly's mind drifted back to memories of a time spent in Ancient Greece with a group of farmers.  For a few weeks then, Lilly had stayed in a small village  outside of Corinth.  It had been a tranquil time in Lilly's life, one she still remembered with fondness.  Now she drew upon these memories, rebuilding in her mind's eye the valley the village had been in  as she basked in the island's sunlight.
 Lilly was so caught up in the memories, that she didn't notice the Portal opening in front of her.  Nor did she notice the young man watching her from the other side.
The rest at Suz's had been wonderful.  After the hard ride the afternoon before,  Fitz had shown Jair to a wonderful hot shower. Her laughter at the ridiculous  over-sized showerhead had soon turned to sighs of contentment as steaming water soothed the sore stiffness from Jair's muscles.  The bed had seemed so soft and inviting after such a heavenly shower that Jair had been a little irritated when Fitz insisted she join them for dinner.  The delicious meal restored Jair's strength and spirit so that Jair had been able to stay up all night visiting with Suz and Wind.
Jair did not remember going to bed, but she had woke this morning feeling more rested and relaxed than she had days.  The scent of brewing cappuccino had drawn Jair to the kitchen where she found Fitz.  Several cups later, Fitz had packed Jair a special lunch for the ride, including fresh bread and several cans of Mountain Dew.
Now, the combined effects of the cappuccinos ("They were really BIG cups too, Copper!) and three Mountain Dews had Jair so buzzed she couldn't even sit in the saddle.  Instead she bounced along next to Copper, keeping up a running dialogue of any thing that caught her eye or happened to flit through her brain.
"You know - the moss looks all fuzzy like cotton balls when you squint your eyes.  Can horses squint Copper?"
The horse didn't answer.
"Hmm... You can blink, so you must have some muscle control around your eyes.  Maybe if I just sorta scrunch 'em up like ..." Jair reached for the mare's  head, but Copper wisely tossed her head in irritation.
"Okay, okay... you don't have to be rude about it.  A simple 'No thank you' would have sufficed." Jair pouted.  "I had a big ol' boxer once that let me bunch up his eyes, wiggle his jowls and tie bows on his ears..."
Copper just snorted.
"He looked pretty stupid with the bows though.  They would look much better in your mane.  Hey!  That's it!"
Jair's excited shout would have startled most horses.  Copper just swung her  head around, curious about what had set off her volatile rider this time.  Jair didn't even pause before dashing off the trail into the jungle.  Every so often, grumbling drifted back to the Copper - who had calmly stopped (for the fourth time this morning now) to munch the grass growing on the edge of the trail while waiting for her master to return.  A few minutes later, Jair returned triumphantly clutching a handful of exotic pink, red and purple flowers.

"See!  I knew there would be some around here."  Jair's grin faded to a frown and she realized how long it would take to braid Copper's thick black mane.  "This will take all morning and then some - and we'll never make it to Lilly's tonight.  No offense Copper, but I don't wanna sleep outside with you tonight.
"D'uh!  I can just save these for later and braid them on the way.  You know,  maybe I should gather up some sticks and stuff for a fire in case it does take us too long."
As she mentally debated the merits of gathering wood as she walked, Jair buried her face in the huge bouquet and breathed in the heady scent.  Heavy and spicy, the flowers made Jair think of some exotic Chinese temple high in the mountains.
"Wow - wonder if these flowers are poisonous or something?  Maybe the fragrance is its defense mechanism.  You know, bright colors to attract prey, deadly poison to deter against its predators?"  Visions of man eating venus fly traps flashed through Jair's head, before she shrugged it off.  "I don't know much about jungle stuff.  Johnnie would be such a help right now.  I'll ask him when I get to Ev's - just in case Copper.  They do smell pretty stong - wouldn't want to poison my favorite horse."
Copper had long since ceased to pay attention to her rider's ramblings.  Now, a new scent and a sudden tension in the air caused Copper's ears to prick  forward.  The mare lifted her velvet nose to test the air.  Something was happening in the tree's ahead, and Jair wasn't paying any attention.  Copper blew out a loud snort and stamped her hoof on the packed dirt trail.
Jair continued along engrossed in a monologue of speculation about the physics of Rayden's powers.
Static electricity built in the air, and Copper's unease about the clearing ahead deepened.  Jair continued prattling on, now having switched to thoughts about what kinds of chemical reaction take place when lightning strikes human skin, and how could Rayden physically survive having inside him.  The mare gently butted her nose against Jair's back.
"See, that's what I was thinking too, Copper.  The energy to mass conversion when he does that nifty teleporting thing must take incredible control - I mean, to be able to control so many atoms so quickly." Jair laughed as she tried to quickly calculate an approximate number of molecules in just a small space of air but ran out of words for higher numbers too quickly.
Copper snorted again as she clipped the back of Jair's calf with her hoof.
"Ow!  Copper!"  Jair spun around, rubbing her leg awkwardly, "What was that for?  Does Kris know you failed basic walking?!  You know my legs don't have armor on them!"
Jair tried first picking up her leg, twisting her heel with her hands in a worthless attempt to inspect the spot Copper clipped.  The view proved unsatisfactory since her leg wouldn't twist far enough around for a view of her calf muscle and she kept tipping over.  Next Jair, scowling at Copper, tried pivoting her leg out and turning to glance back over her hip.  Her jeans had a small smudge where Copper had kicked her, but the pain had faded.  While Jair contemplated whether or not to pull up her pant leg, or just take off her pants all together, the sound of shouting drifted through the jungle.
"Copper - that's Lilly's voice!"
Copper snorted and bobber her head - it was about time Jair started paying attention.
"Oh!  I am so sorry Copper!  That's what you were trying to tell me wasn't it?"  Jair's face fell as she realized she had failed her horse by not listening.  "Can you forgive me?"
Jair moved to hug the irritated horse, but Copper stamped her foot again.  The shouting ahead of them became more shrill, and was joined by a man's voice.  Overcome with urgency, Jair swung astride Copper and kicked her into a gallop.  The mare bolted through the trees.

In the center of the clearing, stood a strange man with his back to Jair.   A black sleeveless vest hung from his broad shoulder while a wide belt accentuated his trim waist and snug leather pants clung to his powerful thighs.  The man looked younger The man stood with a strength and self possession that was normally reserved for knights and warriors, although Jair didn't see any weapons on him.
Lilly was shouting at the man to go away, but the man kept moving closer.  Without slowing, Jair and Copper thundered across the clearing.  The man turned to look at them just as Jair jumped from Copper's back, hurling the man to the ground.

Lilly stopped yelling at the stranger to stare in amazement at her friend, the Island Pathfinder, as Jair began pummeling the stranger with a fist full of flowers.
"Jair," Lilly asked loudly, "What *are* you doing?"
Jair looked up, but didn't stop hitting the man.  The stranger's arms were raised to protect his face, but he didn't seem to be doing much to prevent the Pathfinder's assault.  He wasn't even shouting or moving to avoid the flowers battering his face.
"Protecting you."
Lilly raised an eyebrow at the Pathfinder's ridiculous answer.  Lilly, Grigori Prime and Gatekeeper to the Island, was one of the most powerful beings on the island and Jair was well aware of it.

"Uh.. I guess that is pretty stupid isn't it?" Jair asked sheepishly.

"It was a sweet thought, dear, but unnecessary."  Lilly admonished gently.  "I think it might also have been more effective, too, if you were beating him with something other than flowers."
Pathfinder's face turned a brighter red than the mashed up flowers in her hand.  She was still sitting astride the stranger, so she moved to the side and helped him sit up.
"Well, they might be poisonous for all I know!" defended Jair as she wrinkled her nose.  The beating had destroyed the flower's lush petals, releasing the scent to near over powering levels.  Jair nearly gagged on the potent scent and quickly tossed the flowers aside.
"I'm sorry about that.  I should have just let Lilly deal with you."  Jair mumbled to the man as she turned to look for any damage.  The scent was still noxiously strong, and Jair realized it was now coming from the man.
"Oh!  Hi Jason!"  Jair fairly shouted when she recognized the young man from a picture Methos had shown her once.  "To bad Methos isn't here - he would have loved to see you again."
"You know him?"   Lilly asked Jair.  At the same moment, Jason asked, "Do I know you?"
Jair's head spun back and forth trying to figure out whom to answer first.
"Wait a minute!  Did you just say you attacked me with 'poisonous' flowers?"  Jason asked suspiciously.
"Umm... well... yeah." Jair winced miserably.  Guilt over such a rude greeting and the lingering stench made Jair cringe at the accuastion in Jason's voice.

"But I don't know for sure.  I don't know what they are, and sometimes stuff in the jungle is dangerous, ya know?  I was going to ask Johnnie when I got to Ev's place since he would know for sure.  I picked them to braid in Copper's mane."

Both Jason and Lilly started laughing at Jair's rapid explanation.
"My darling Pathfinder, you are a gem." Lilly breathed when her laughter had subsided some. "The flowers aren't poisonous at all, but they do have a heady perfume and he is going to smell like them for days now!"
Jason stopped laughing when he heard what Lilly said.
"Days?  Isn't there some way to wash this off?!"  The scent was one Jason would have appreciated on a beautiful woman - in much smaller quantities - but not on himself.
"No, there isn't.. but there is a river not far from here if you wish to try."  Lilly answered as she tried desperately not to laugh at the pitiful look of horror on Jason's handsome face.

Turning to her friend, Lilly became more serious.   "Now, Jair - explain to me who this man is, and maybe I will be able to figure out how he got here."

"But Lilly, if you don't know him, why'd you bring him across?"  Jair asked perplexed.  Her confusion grew as Lilly started shifting from foot to foot and gnawing on her bottom lip.
"I didn't bring him, Jair."  The Gatekeeper whispered softly.

"I didn't open the portal."  Lilly pulled out the chain from under her clothes to reveal the crystal still hanging around her neck.  "I never even touched the crystal."
Jair gasped as her eyes flew from the crystal to her friend and on to Jason.
"But.. but ... then who opened the Portal?"
Lilly's head dropped as her fingers closed convulsively around the crystal.  She clutched the crystal to her chest like it might escape before raising her tear-filled eyes to answer Jair's question.
"I don't know."
"Would you mind explain to me just what in the name of all the gods you are talking about?" Jason demanded imperiously.
"Listen here..." both women snapped at Jason simultaneously.
Jason took a precautionary step back as two sets of eyes, one blue and one gold, turned to him ablaze with ire.

"Just because you are King of Corinth doesn't mean you can use that tone with me!" Jair snarled.  She immediately regretted her sharp tone, knowing she was taking out her confusion on him.
"King of Corinth?  You're the King of Corinth?" Lilly asked Jason, not waiting for his answer.  "I thought you were older..." Lilly mumbled.  "But how would you know the King of Corinth, Jair?  That was long before your time, dear."

"I know, but Methos showed me a picture from his journal's once.  Seems he knew Jason, Iolus and Hercules way back when... studied at some school or another with them."  Jair explained.

"And I thought he was really cute."  Jair whispered behind her hand to Lilly.
"Methos?  You know Methos?" Jason asked Jair incredulously. "Is he here?  I haven't seen him since we graduated."
"This is beginning to make some sense then." Lilly continued, ignoring Jason.  "I was just sitting here remembering my time in Ancient Greece.  But I never met Jason.  I'm certain he wouldn't have been this young either.  In fact, he had already given up his throne when I traveled through - so how did the Portal open to let him through."
Jair had been watching Jason's face, and noted the confusion deepening with each word Lilly uttered.
"Lilly... you might want to save the speculating for later.  I think we are upsetting him."  Jair said hesitantly.  "How 'bout I take him with me up to your place and get him some food and whatnot?"
Jason's tanned physique had lost quite a bit of its color.  His eyes were starting to look glassy, and he was swaying on his feet.  Going though the portal was never easy for mortals.  Lilly quickly agreed with Jair, helping her to guide Jason onto Copper's back.

"Come on Jason.  We'll get you something to eat, and maybe answer some of your questions.  Then we'll figure out why your here, and what to do with you.  You know, this is a pretty cool island - we have our own resident God ... We'll go ask him about that scent.. he may be able to do something... Hopefully before I puke"  Jair muttered as she walked beside her horse.
When Jair and Jason had left the clearing, Lilly sat down again, wrapping her arms around her legs, hugging her knees to her chest.  At least the whole episode had given her something else to think about besides Reese.
 ~ End of Jair's Journey: Part Two ~

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