In The Night
Chapter 7 - Jem Kan the Fairy
Carl opened his eyes and immediately wished he hadn't. The last thing he remembered was Van Helsing's triumphant face that nothing had happened. Carl snorted – sure, nothing. All he could see was the rafters of what would have been an ornate manor and a swinging light that hung down from the ceiling.
Rolling over onto his stomach, Carl quickly checked his inventory. He still had his weapons and anything else vital. When he looked up from where he was on the floor, he saw a young boy sitting in front of him, legs crossed.
"Uh, hello?" Carl smiled nervously.
"You're a human." The boy seemed delighted.
Carl had a nasty feeling in his stomach. He had not read anywhere that Gregore Chanhassen was ten years old and certainly did not remember warlocks ever wanting to appear as unintelligent minors. Carl stared at the boy. "You're too big for a fairy."
"No, I'm not!" the boy insisted, pouting. "You're just used to seeing us in travel form."
Carl rolled over onto his back and sat up. He was in an attic styled room with great, wide windows that spanned most of the walls. He was also sitting in a circle of mushrooms similar to the one on the road. The boy watched him keenly, as though assessing an experiment.
It is truly an uncomfortable experience being watched by a boy with intense jade eyes, Carl discovered, and tried hard not to look at the sea green orbs if he could help it. Carl cleared his dry throat. "I don't suppose you'll let me go down town for a Chianti?"
The boy raised one coppery eyebrow, but conjured a hewn wooden cup filled with a clear liquid and pushed it through the circle. Carl did not touch it.
"If I wanted to perform magic on you," the fairy said sternly, "I'd have done it by now with my own two hands."
"Ah," Carl said intelligibly then gulped down the water.
It wasn't normal water, he decided, as it burnt its way down to his stomach. It refreshed him though, and didn't appear to have any side affects. Carl set the cup down, asking neutrally, "Have you worked long for Mr Chanhassen?"
"All my life," the fairy answered. "He's not as bad as they denounce him."
Carl snorted. In his experience, even though it was limited, warlocks were wicked men who took pleasure in using their magic to befuddle the minds of others.
Wizards are pleasant enough, said the Faramir side of him.
Carl choked upon hearing this, as he always did when that particular entity talked about magic and such. He casually tapped a mushroom to see what would happen. The result was being flung back into the invisible wall that made up the other side of the circle.
"OUCH!" exclaimed Carl, who then unsheathed his sword and took a great swing at the air. Again, he was thrown into a wall that wasn't there.
Why did I do that? he demanded of himself. That's exactly the sort of stupid thing that Van Helsing would do.
Choosing to ignore the grin the fairy had sprouted, Carl sat down again and introduced his alias, "I'm Faramir Willis, monster hunter extraordinaire."
"Jem Kan." The fairy pointed a finger at himself. "I'll tell you nothing more unless you tell me the whole truth."
Fairies can pick up lies, Carl remembered too late.
Faramir sounded calmly detached, If you exclude the Willis, it won't be a lie.
But it will be to me, Carl shot back.
Van Helsing did not like being wrong.
He liked it even less when Carl was right about something he'd been wrong about.
But at least he had a rough idea where the ex-friar would be – chances were, fairies working for Gregore Chanhassen probably kept their prisoners in the manor. Van Helsing continued along Clydesdale Circle until he happened upon the iron gates that announced the manor within as owned by the Kendrick family.
Van Helsing pushed open the gates with one hand, using the other to remove one of his pistols from its holster. Brown leaves littered the path leading to the house, declaring the season and the state of desertion. Reaching the heavy wooden door, the hunter raised one fist and pounded on it.
There was no answer.
Spying a mushroom circle lying innocently off to one side of the porch, Van Helsing decided there was nothing else to it. He stepped into it without hesitation.
Carl jumped out of the way as his companion appeared in the circle next to him. He made sure he helped Van Helsing into the invisible wall, saying cheerfully, "Jack, bro, this is Jem Kan, resident fairy."
"I thought fairies..." Van Helsing blinked at Jem, rubbing his head. "...were the size of a pistol."
"So did I!" Carl beamed at him.
"Have you been hitting the Absinth?"
"What mean you by that?"
"You know…fairies…cheerfulness…" Van Helsing numbered off. "The way you're talking…"
Carl seemed to recollect himself, "Well, I did drink something Jem gave me and started talking. He," Carl paused dramatically, "does not believe that my name is Faramir."
Van Helsing looked aside to the boy with a crop of bronze hair. "What exactly did you give him?"
"Just water," replied Jem honestly. "I performed a short truth spell on him. It doesn't seem to be working properly, though."
"I'll say. What have you found out?"
The fairy eyed him suspiciously. "He dithered on about slaying monsters for a while, and how it's his line of work – and his partner's. He seemed to believe that he was going to set up a secret organisation that deals with evil."
Here the boy stopped and peered even more intently at Van Helsing. The hunter said guardedly, "Former profession."
Van Helsing could sense no evil surrounding Jem Kan, but felt traces of it downstairs. Obviously, Gregore Chanhassen was beneath the trapdoor several metres from the circle of mushrooms. In order to secure money for such a scheme of Carl's, they had to do away with the warlock, therefore needing Jem's help.
"I'll tell you some truth in place of his words," Van Helsing said at last. "We are planning to set up such an organisation. We have experience in the field. I tell you the truth when I say I can sense evil – and you are not evil, yet the man you work for is."
Jem Kan's complacent expression did not evaporate. Instead, he simply shrugged. "I know."
Carl chose this moment to re-enter the conversation. He had a dazed look about him as he enquired in a small voice, "Then why in God's name are you working for the loony?"
"As long as he lives, I'm bound to do service to him," Jem answered, distress creeping into his voice.
"Oh, that's right!" Carl exclaimed. "Fairies are bound to their masters and can't lay a hand on them! Quick, Van Helsing, let's kill Chanhassen!"
Jem swiftly looked piercingly at Van Helsing who had gone extremely pale. Any thoughts of an alias disappeared as quickly as a vampire could drain a body of blood. Carl was not in his right mind, but that didn't ease the fact he'd just given away his companion's real name.
Van Helsing decided to come clean.
"That is my name," he admitted to the fairy.
Jem Kan did not appear at all disturbed by this. He said coolly, "The name Van Helsing means little to me, but in time it may. If I free you of the circle, and you slay my master, you must let me join you. Of course..." Jem grinned at Carl. "I'll bring him back to his normal state."
There might have been a time that Van Helsing would have not agreed to those terms. But he was no longer a servant to the Holy Order and a monster himself. He quickly assented. Jem clicked his fingers and the ring of mushrooms vanished completely. Another click and Carl's eyes cleared of his stupefied expression.
Carl did not like the smirk he received from Van Helsing and prodded a finger at the taller man's chest. "I will not tolerate your amusement at my expense!"
"I do recall," Van Helsing shot back, "you having a good laugh about my attire upon returning from Lichtenstein."
Carl laughed so hard he nearly fell over. The sight of Van Helsing wearing a frilly dress had been the source of jokes for weeks afterwards. Jem Kan winced at the volume the ex-friar was emitting and, sure enough, Gregore Chanhassen had heard it from downstairs.
The trapdoor slammed open and the warlock lifted gently through the opening. Carl dove for his sword that had fallen in his attempts to escape and brought up one of his pistols to aim at where the warlock was hovering.
Gregore Chanhassen was middle-aged in appearance and had the most unsettling and intimidating blue eyes. His dirty blonde hair was cropped to his ears and he wore a smug expression that anyone would dearly love to smack off him. Jem scampered backwards and changed into the miniature form that fairies are renowned for.
"Mercenaries?" laughed the warlock. "I disposed with the last batch of your kind adequately only a week ago. Has Jason Kendrick not learnt?"
Carl blew his hair out of his face noisily, earning a reproving glare from his companion. Carl squinted at the warlock, trying to find weaknesses. "Well, he learned to send better mercenaries."
Van Helsing's hands, resting on the handles of his pistols, twitched. He was waiting for the warlock to make the first move. Warlocks could be tricky – particularly with halting bullets in their paths and sending them bolting back to where they originated from. His best chance was to have a diversion.
The deadly Tojo blades fell into his hands, but remained deactivated. Van Helsing glared back at Chanhassen and glowed his eyes gold to unnerve the warlock. Carl exchanged a quick glance with his companion, then suddenly made for the target, brandishing his sword confidently.
Acting on instinct, Carl dodged the blast of magic that was shot at him and rolled under the warlock's feet to the other side. He spied Jem peeking nervously from behind a rather out of place mushroom. The fairy vanished when he saw Carl looking.
Van Helsing activated his Tojo blades and found an equalising position with his feet, watching Carl attempt to drive the warlock his way. When the warlock had moved a few feet closer, Van Helsing slashed out with the spinning blades, but ended up being thrown across the room.
Carl starting firing his pistols rapidly at the warlock, but learnt the painful lesson that his fellow hunter had learnt before. Carl let out a short cry as he was struck in the leg with a returned bullet.
Van Helsing decided there was nothing else for it. He threw his jacket and hat to the side, pulling his vest and shirt over his head at the same time. Carl saw him doing this and searched his pockets for any silver, just in case. He watched the transformation with fascination, while keeping one eye on the advancing warlock.
"I hope you like dogs, Mr Chanhassen," Carl chuckled.
Gregore Chanhassen followed his gaze and Carl had the pleasure of watching his jaw drop in astonishment. The warlock stuttered, "There is no werewolf who can change at will!"
Oh yes there is, Carl thought smugly. Where are you Faramir? You're missing the best action.
I'm already here – I'm you, remember? Faramir said pointedly.
The black werewolf that was Van Helsing howled a challenge then swung his claws into the alarmed warlock. A short spell passed Chanhassen's lips, summoning strong winds within the attic. Carl took hold of an old decaying book shelf – just in case – while using his free hand to load his pistol with silver bullets.
With the scream that accompanied Gregore Chanhassen's death, the wind dropped immediately. Growling, the werewolf seemed to struggle with itself for a moment, then morphed back into a shivering Van Helsing.
Carl lost his grip on the pistol and it fell to the floor piercingly. He tried to find the wound in his thigh, but his vision became cloudy. He didn't hear Van Helsing ask him if he was alright and he didn't hear Jem Kan stating what had happened. He was only aware of sudden warmth coming from where the bullet had entered him…
Watching Carl pass out was not altogether comforting, but Van Helsing knew his friend was in good hands as far as treatment went. Jem had turned back into a boy and was healing the ex-friar already.
"Second mission together, counting Transylvania," Van Helsing mused. "I'm willing to call you a partner."