Audric stared at the man who was seated by the ocean. It wasn’t often that he would venture out into Moonlight Falls directly. In fact, he promised that he never would. But today was different, and this was the only time that he could catch Alistair by himself. He didn’t want to interrupt the man’s only solace. He wasn’t that heartless. But, he didn’t have a choice. There was an important matter that needed to be discussed.
“Mr. Gray?” He made sure his footsteps were light and purposeful. “May I have a word with you?”
The brunette scowled at him. “You have some nerve showing up after all you’ve done. Or actually, haven’t done.”
“I apologize for my absence, but I cannot stay in Moonlight Falls for long. I’ve been watching from the outside,” Audric said. “I’ve been doing everything I can.”
“I don’t care about your saving the world, bullshit,” Alistair mumbled. “You destroyed my daughter. For ten years she’s held onto the idea that you’re some perfect man despite the things you drove her to do.”
Audric seemed shocked for a moment. “I haven’t forced her to do anything.”
“No.” Alistair shook his head. “Not directly, but your absence has made her act irrationally. What exactly have you done to her to make her so irrationally in love with you? Her two years spent with you was nothing but misleading. Did you brainwash her or something?”
Audric was appalled by what he heard. “Are you saying I coerced Astra into loving me? I did nothing of the sort! Her feelings for me are of her own volition. I don’t think we’ve gotten off on the right foot. I don’t have the luxury of arguing with you right now. We have bigger matters to attend.”
“Like what?” Alistair sighed. “I have enough on my plate already.”
“We spoke briefly about this before, but I need to come clean completely. My name is Audric Brainard, and I’m the watcher of this dimension. It encompasses not just Moonlight Falls, but Sunlit Tides and a plethora of other worlds. There are thousands of dimensions floating about, guarded by someone like me. We are only awoken when a dimension begins to fall apart.”
“Dimension?” Alistair asked, shocked. “I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. I vaguely recall something about my dad and Damian discussing dimension shifting. It’s in the book that Xerxes gave me.”
“Damian knows about dimension shifting?” Audric raised his brow. “Well, that explains a lot. Do you have this book?” The only man who could relay the information to him was Apollo and he had passed away a while ago.
“I do, but if you watch the dimension, how could you not know about it?” Alistair asked skeptically.
“I only just woke up, around the time where your girls were old enough to live on their own. I can watch what has happened in the past, but you must realize there are millions of people I’m tasked to watch over. I can’t be everywhere at once.” He frowned. “You don’t believe I have this power, do you?”
“I more than believe you.” Alistair shrugged. “I’ve seen the power that Astra now has, and she couldn’t have learned that from an average mage. Plus, you’re able to phase in and out of wherever you want, when it was a hassle for me to even get to Moonlight Falls to begin with. There are other signs, so it’s quite obvious to me that you have considerable amount of power and responsibility. You’ve got to understand why I’m hesitant about all of this.”
“You’ve been watching me as much as I’ve been watching you.” Audric smirked. “Impressive, but what could you really find out about me when you can’t actually pinpoint my location?”
“I’ve been gathering information about what you’ve said, and what you told Astra. You were right about Dionysus, if only partially. He’s hiding something. But that really isn’t my concern at the moment. You’re here because of Altiere, Damian…whoever. So lets talk alliances. Whoever you are, your power is immense and I need your help.”
“It’s dangerous to remain in Moonlight Falls, as your daughter Charlotte has already pointed out. Your daughters can’t stay here any longer. If you’d like to, that’s your prerogative, but they are raising the future generation of Grays and cannot be extinguished. They need to grow in rank until the final point in Lunar Lakes, if the timeline doesn’t shift so radically…but that’s a while away.”
“What are you getting at?” Alistair asked. “You want my daughters to leave?”
“There is a safe haven that I have been granted as Watcher of the dimension. Some of us get more than others, depending on our circumstances…I have an entire town to watch over that I fill exclusively with people I cannot lose, or that can aid me in fixing this dimension. It isn’t quite full yet, but I have a decent number of people to have a thriving society. I would like your daughters and their families to go there. That includes significant others, and children. You’re free to join them as well.”
“How do I know that you’re telling the truth?” Alistair asked.
“Talk to Zayne, he knows. Both he and Jeff have been resurrected from another dimension. Caleb as well, but he’s a difficult case. He was brought from this dimension to another and then back again.” Audric shook his head. “No need to worry about the details, but when you’re satisfied, just contact me through this mirror and I can transport everyone. I guarantee their safety, only I’m able to move people in and out of there. It isn’t a place that can be found on a map.”
“And what of Moonlight Falls?” Alistair asked. “What becomes of it?”
“I have to lock it for now. You won’t be able to leave and no one will be able to enter. I have to isolate the problem until it can be vanquished.”
Alistair rubbed his temple. “This is a lot to take in. I…I don’t know. I want to be assured that this is what’s best for my daughters.”
“Let’s talk it out then.” Audric sat on the ground and motioned for Alistair to join him. “Pros and cons. The pro is that your daughters will be safe, along with their families. They’ll be able to raise their children in a safe environment, with a roof over their head and plenty of space to run around. Declan won’t be able to get to them.”
“And the cons?” Alistair asked.
“I know that you won’t leave Moonlight Falls. I know you feel like you can’t, and I respect that wholeheartedly. I understand. You have history with Declan and you won’t be able to leave until the situation is resolved.” Alistair noticed a forlorn look on Audric’s face. When the man spoke to him like this, he couldn’t help but respect him.
“I have to be honest with you as well,” Audric said. “I have plans for the next generation of Gray children. I have to discuss the specifics with my advisers but I think that it’ll be helpful to teach the children to be dimension travelers. They wouldn’t be limited to only this dimension, and could venture out into others ones to conduct business that I wouldn’t be able to leave my realm to accomplish. I would never force them to do anything they didn’t want to, but if they’re willing to, I would be grateful for their help.”
“What would you need in other dimensions?” Alistair asked.
He lowered his voice. “I have reason to believe that there are discrepancies in other dimensions that is affecting this one. If this dimension isn’t repaired, a full reset will have to be made and we will lose everything. Our history, our memories, our technological advancements. Everything will be gone.”
“I want to help. This is my home.” He played with the grass on the ground. “And, I want my grandchildren to live in a normal household. It’s just…how do I know you have my best interest in mind and won’t turn on my family like the guardians have?”
“I have a vested interest,” He admitted. “Your daughter Astra will become pregnant with two children. One will be mine. Don’t worry about the biology of it…I haven’t touched her.”
“Magic.” Alistair rolled his eyes. “Why would you do that?”
“I love her and I know that more than anything, she wants a child and a family. I couldn’t give that to her and now I can.”
“The other child belongs to Dio, doesn’t it?” Alistair asked.
“Yeah.” Audric nodded. “That’s true but he won’t be an issue. He has left, for good I believe. He’s of no concern to me anymore. I promise you that I’ll be more than accommodating to your daughter, if she will have me. If Astra wants no part of me, I will not pursue her farther. You will be able to remain in contact through the magic mirror in your lair, and if you ever need me to unlock the world again, or if you or your girls want to leave, I will allow it.”
With a sigh, Alistair nodded. “I’ll discuss this with everyone and we can move on from there. I have to warn you, we may be harboring more than you’ve bargained for.”
“Mr. Gray, I’ve been keeping a close eye on your family, I am well aware of that.” With a short nod, he walked a few feet before transporting out of Moonlight Falls.
Astra stared at the massive building in shock. “This is where we’re staying?”
“You and I, my love,” Audric said, reaching for her hand. She allowed him to take it in his.
“It’s a really big house for just the two of us…” Her voice trailed off.
“What’s wrong?” He asked. “You have your sisters right around the block from you. They each have their own homes, in a clean and safe environment. Everything is okay,” Audric said.
“Well, it doesn’t feel okay,” She mumbled. “I miss my dad.”
“I want to make sure that this was your choice, was it?” Audric asked.
She nodded. “Yes, it was but because my dad told me about what you told him. About the children I’m going to be having.”
“He did?” Audric sighed. “No use hiding it. You’ll give birth to a child of mine and a child of Dionysus.”
Hearing the man’s name, caused a lump to grow in her throat. “You know about Dionysus and I?”
He pulled her closer to him. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt me, but I can’t really blame you, can I?”
“Yes you can. I slept with someone who’s like a brother to you. You should be angry. You should hate me. I hate me.”
“I can’t hate you, my love.” He kissed the top of her nose. “I was gone for ten years. Could I expect you to stay faithful?”
“Why did you say it like that?” She asked. “Faithful…we weren’t really even together. You don’t leave someone for over a decade and call it a relationship.”
“Astra, the two of us were in a mutual agreement. I told you that I’d return for you, did I not? We were both well aware of our relationship. You were mine, and I was yours.” She could see the hatred in his eyes for a brief moment. “You had sex with Dionysus, of all people. You’re having his baby, and here I am with open arms for you. I gave you the child you wanted from us.”
“Audric…” Her voice trailed off. “Not like this. I wanted a real relationship.”
“You knew of my circumstances from the very beginning,” He answered.
“I knew you couldn’t leave the castle until some kind of curse was broken, and that’s about it. You told me nothing!” She was shouting now, angry at herself and the situation she had found herself in. “You didn’t tell me anything, yet you were in my head the whole time.”
He let out a sigh. “Come inside, my love. It’s about time that I explain everything, is it not?”
Astra was in total shock at how beautiful and lavishly decorated this house was. It was infinitely bigger than the one her family was squeezed into in Moonlight Falls. She hoped her sisters were living in similar luxury. “I haven’t been entirely truthful with you,” He confessed. “Should I start from the beginning?” She nodded.
“I am a dimension watcher. I was awoken because the dimension that we’re in is falling apart,” He said.
“I know that part, dad filled me in.” She nodded.
“When I brought you into my castle all those years ago, it was because I knew you were a Gray. I knew the guardians were keeping a close eye on you, and I needed to know if the dimensional rifts were because of you.”
“They weren’t,” She replied.
“I know that now, but at the time I didn’t. It was supposed to be for only a few weeks, but I became captivated by you. I forgot just how good it felt to spend time with another person. So, I let you stay with me and I taught you powerful magic to fight off the guardians and whoever else was interested in you.”
“Am I supposed to be happy with this?”
He shook his head. “There’s more, hear me out before you get angry…The curse I told you about wasn’t real. There was never a curse. I sent you back to your home and told you that I couldn’t go with you because of a curse. I was only half lying though. As you know, I can’t stay in Moonlight Falls.”
“Why?” She demanded, wanting to hear more before she threw down her gavel in judgement.
“As a dimension watcher, none of this is supposed to happen.” He pointed to her and then him. “Love is out of the question, but damn it Astra, you know how irresistible you can be.” She tried to fight back the blush but she couldn’t. This was the first time she heard Audric use such lax language. “There are rules set in place for a good reason. My priority is to watch the dimension. But, the council has turned their head before, so maybe this can work. If I play my cards right, we can be a family like you want. Like, I want.”
“I don’t understand…”
“I answer to a council who appointed me this dimension because of something I did in the past. Something that showed them I needed to be punished by living an eternity watching this dimension. Over and over again, even if it is reset, with full access to my memories. If I save this dimension, then the council may not care about us being together. And if they do, it is something I’ll fight for because I love you, Astra.”
“I love you too,” She whispered. “Dio meant nothing to me. Our night together…I was thinking of you the entire time.” The distance made her angry, and over the ten years she had blocked out all communication with him through her mind. but being here next to him…she felt her whole body heating up. They were both pretty messed up, but she loved him. She knew that wholeheartedly, no matter how she chose to act out against it.
Audric should have been frowning at how harsh her words were against his old friend, but he couldn’t. It was everything he had wanted to hear coming from her. “Before I ask you to raise a family with me, I’d like to tell you about my past. Then, you’ll understand why I can forgive you so easily…and maybe why my job is so important to me. Please, just hear me out.”
She nodded, leaning into his embrace. “I’d like to hear it.”
Note: The Mansion used is called Grothfort Castle and was made by The Builder on MTS. You can download it here.