Alistair watched as the people of Moonlight Falls leaned in eagerly to hear what Casimir had to say. The new keeper of magic was one who had been in power for decades- a job easily obtained because Alistair had slipped away from his home in the pursuit of a more stable future for his family. He had quickly realized though, his heart had never left Moonlight Falls. He knew that he’d always find his way back here, no matter how much heartbreak he had experienced or how much a certain vampire had tried to keep him away. One would think that with the amount of time that had passed, that Altiere would have somehow slipped away. Perhaps he would have given up on his incessant need to control a land that didn’t want to be manipulated. Altiere remained as elusive as ever, not bothering to show his face around town, ruling through ridiculous decrees that no one questioned. The castle that the vampire had once resided in, had long since been burned down by a neighboring towns person. That same day, the perpetrator and his family had disappeared from the land.
Similarly, another person had tried to create an uprising against Altiere’s almost nonexistent rule, stating that they would not follow someone who had barely any physical foothold in Moonlight Falls. They too had suffered a similar fate as well as everyone who had been found to be part of the short lived resistance. Somehow, throughout all of his smoke and mirrors, Altiere had never lost power. He had never lost hold of his domain as ruler and Alistair wondered if that went even further back than he had first learned about from Declan himself.
Casimir wasn’t a bad leader in the general sense of the term. He had made sure his people were well taken care of, but that was where his vision had stopped. Casimir did not look to a future where people could live together harmoniously. He only saw a future where the mages prospered. The young keeper could not allow himself to look at a bigger picture because he had not been so deeply entrenched in Altiere’s convoluted rule. The only way to remove the man from power was to get every clan together, and at one point Alistair had been very close to attaining that goal. Now, decades later, he’d have to try again because even though he wanted to let the town that hated him and his family so desperately, suffer, that wasn’t how he had done things.
“And so concludes my speech. I think my work speaks for itself,” Casimir said to the group who had gathered for the diplomatic debate. Years ago, the job would simply be passed down through family lineage. The democratic method showed progress, but not enough. A democracy among group leaders was not enough when there was an arrogant dictator looking over everyone’s shoulders. “I implore you all to think about the future of our people, something a man like Alistair has not been able to commit to.”
Alistair scoffed from his seat in the first row. What was it this time? The fact that he had been married to a man that had betrayed Moonlight Falls? Or, was it that he had children with a vile vampiric woman and hadn’t denounced his twins? Oh, it must have been that he had left Moonlight Falls when his family was being hunted down for nearly a decade. Because it wasn’t safe for his family to even exist. Or perhaps Casimir was worried about the more recent revelations, Alistair had been engaged to a man that was not only of fae lineage, but unfamiliar fae lineage, with whom he had had a child with. Casimir stepped down from the podium, not before shooting Alistair and Callen a confident smirk. When it was Alistair’s turn to talk, he’d take a less cutthroat approach. There was no need to cut Casimir down, because Alistair’s goal was to build up his community not tear it down.
From the podium, Alistair looked into the audience, locking eyes with several people who he had considered his family. Callen, the man that he had loved with all of his heart. The man who had shown Alistair that he was worth more than the mistakes of the past. Next to him was Braylen, a boy he had considered his own son, having watched him grow from an impressionable child to a fully confident and self-assured adult. Then there were the students he had the pleasure of teaching: Adriana, Jared, Winter and Kristopher. They had been patient with him and believed in his leadership.
One man in particular though, made Alistair’s eyes well up with tears as he stood in front of the crowd who had become mostly strangers to him. His father, Ethan Nair. Without his father, Alistair wouldn’t even have had a chance to explore his powers. As a team, Ethan had made sure that his son was at least aware of his powers. Even when Alistair had gone to moonlight Falls for the first time and studied under his grandfather, Ethan had never stopped pledging his support. The man had literally come back to life in order to help him in his journey. Alistair was lucky to have had a father as strong and as admirable as Ethan Nair. The role of keeper had originally belonged to his father, but Ethan had instead fostered his own son’s growth and inspired him to take on the role.
“Hello everyone, thank you for having me tonight. It is an honor to be able to have this platform for even just a night. When I first come to Moonlight Falls, I was not expecting to lead anyone. Some of you were familiar with my grandfather, Lucas Nair. He was quite the powerful man and keeper. I could only ever hope to reach the level of dignity and credibility he had possessed,” Alistair began. “My grandfather had thrust the role of keeper into my, at the time, very incapable hands. I had absolutely no experience being in charge of anything. But, I knew there were a lot of people relying on me so I sucked it up and taught myself how to adapt. It was not an easy journey and I had made a lot of mistakes, but I did what I felt was best for not only us, but for everyone in Moonlight Falls.”
Alistair swallowed hard, nervousness washing over him for the first time in years. This was his moment to shine and yet, he could hardly find the words. “Altiere is my battle and I’m going to finish it once and for all. Some of you may think me a heretic for speaking against the man, but lets not forget about the great Gray witch hunt a few decades back. I had to leave my home and flee for the safety of my grandchildren. See, it should never have come to that. Moonlight Falls should be a place where you can speak freely and openly. Where you can go to a store run by a fairy and not worry about being whispered about when you leave. We’re only as strong as our bond, and that seems to be lacking.”
“I’m not Casimir. I’ll admit that I haven’t been around as Moonlight Falls modernized, but I’m here now. Because even if the town looks progressive, we can’t move forward with that vampire breathing down our necks. I will give up everything that I am to make this place better. Hell, even if I’m not elected, I’m going to keep up this fight because if I don’t, who will? I’m tired of letting that man and his lackeys win. No.:” Alistair shook his head. “All I will ask for is your support and belief in me. Together, we can achieve greater things.”
Alistair stepped down from the podium, applause roaring in his ears. He could see a look of shock and disappointment from some members, mostly the devout mage elitists, but that didn’t matter. Alistair had let the town know what he had planned to do and no one could stop him. This fight had been going on for too long. It was about time he had finished it.
Leon hardly recognized the place he had spent so much time with Graciela in. When was the last time he had spent any time in Moonlight Falls? When he had graduated from the academy and came to study under Alistair, Callen, and Ethan. This was the last place of sanity he had, before going to the underworld and ultimately being locked away in an empty prison for decades. Part of him had expected Graciela to call up his phone, angrily telling him to not be late to another lesson. The other more rationale part told him that things had changed. They weren’t 18 anymore, and she was gone. “This is the place, yeah?” Veronica asked, breaking the man from his thoughts. “We can train in peace here.”
“Yeah,” Leon said. “I know someone here who will take you guys in. But, on one condition. You use Maric’s power that you’re unlocking in order to defeat Altiere. The fake one that’s ruling this place.”
“Ah yes,” Antone said. “Father will be so powerful that a fake will be as simple as snapping his fingers and making him disappear.”
Leon looked to Maric who seemed like he was ready to puke. “Oh, come now. If things are still in tact, Alistair and Callen should be here with Braylen. None of those guys are going to let you become that bad guy from the past. There’s no way, you know that.”
“Yeah well, I’m not exactly you,” Maric mumbled. “They probably hate me just as much as Graciela does, or they’re going to be when they know the truth.”
“No,” Leon said, shaking his head. “They’re going to help you, and I really really hope you learn to rely on them. Alistair and Callen are good men. But Braylen…I think I’m going to have to steal him away so I have access to the underworld again and can reach Graciela.”
“Take us to him,” Caspar said impatiently, snapping his fingers. “Time is of utmost importance. If Victus is properly summoned, we are all in serious trouble.”
Alistair undid Callen’s tie slowly, teasing the fairy with feigned concentration and focus. “Stop,” Callen groaned. “By the time you’re done, Adalia is going to be awake and I won’t even have my shirt off yet.”
“You can’t rush me,” Alistair said, wrapping his arms around Callen’s neck. He leaned up and placed a passionate kiss on his lips. “You know we have no time for fun tonight anyway. I’ve got to wait up for the results of the vote.”
“A little fun will distract you,” Callen said, reaching for the hem of Alistair’s shirt. “When we’re done, you’ll be keeper.”
“Maybe,” Alistair said, pulling away from Callen. “Or, maybe I won’t and that makes it a million times harder to get the others on board for our plan. If the mages can’t back me, how are the other clans going to?”
“You need to relax,” Callen said. He crossed his arms over his chest, fully knowing he wouldn’t be getting lucky tonight, or any night until Alistair was at ease with the political climate of Moonlight Falls. “You’re Alistair Gray, no matter what happens I know you’ll get shit done. You have me, your dad, the kids. We’ll help.”
“I know. I just worry sometimes and I-” Alistair let out a groan when he heard a knock on the door. “Really? Someone here to deliver my sad news in person?”
Alistair trudged over to the door, pulling it open to reveal Ethan, Kian, Adriana, Jared, Braylen, Winter and Kristopher. He chuckled, looking at the mismatched group. “What brings you all here so late?”
“We’re here to have a results party, duh!” Winter cried, shoving her way into the house. “We’ll find out if you’re keeper together.”
“We have no say in this, huh?” Callen asked, rolling his eyes at the group. “You know, if you told us you were stopping by after the debate we’d have food prepared or something.”
“No need,” Kian said with a simple shrug. “I bought us food on the way here. Don’t worry about entertaining, we’re just here to support you.”
“Thank you,” Alistair said with a small smile. “That means so much to me. You all have no idea.”
“We kind of do,” Braylen said with a chuckle. “But we’re here because we love you, not because you’re going to say nice things. It wouldn’t be the same to wait for the results on our own without you.”
“Come in then,” Alistair said, offering them all a seat in his not so tidy living room.