Oliver: "Nothing. Just....wondering what I'm doing here. You probably well know I have no desire whatsoever to be here. Not with Midnight in control, anyway. But...I mean, Amaranth could be my child. Even if she isn't, I want to see her grow up healthy, but if I am, I have a responsibility for her. It's just...confusing right now."
Phantom: "Oh...well, I got something at the alchemy shop that might make you feel a little better. At least I hope it does anyway."
Phantom: "It's called Vampiric Sunscreen. The clerk told me if you put it on, then it'll protect your skin from the sun for a day. I know sometimes you have to work outside when styling your clients, so I thought this might help."
Oliver: "...Wow, Phantom. Thanks! It really will. That's very generous of you."
Phantom: "If you feel better, I feel better, so it helps both of us."
Jakkson: "Hey, Phantom!"
Phantom turns and notices Jakkson carrying a similarly wrapped box in his hands.
Jakkson: "Hey...you've done a lot to help me out lately. You're a little goofball, admittedly, but it's really helped to keep my mind off things and get to feeling close to normal again. Your gift to Oliver reminded me I had one for you."
Jakkson: "I found it at the alchemy shop as well, when I went to sell my gem dust. It's called Essence of Magic. It's supposed to restore a fairy's magical power quickly. So, I know you're always thinking of new tricks and stuff. Now you can practice them all you want and have your power replenished quickly."
Oliver: "That's pretty awesome, Jakk. Heck, if I'd known such cool things existed at the alchemy shop, I'd visit more often."
Phantom: "Oh boy! I can try so many new tricks now! I'm so excited!"
As Phantom completely forgets about sleeping and flies off to practice some tricks he's been learning, Oliver glances at Jakkson and smirks, "You know we're probably going to be the target of all his pranks, right?"
Jakkson smiles in return. "Hey, give the fairy his day. He's been struggling just as much as any of us have."
The potential fathers try to spend as much time with baby Amaranth as they can, although their responsibilities and jobs keep them away longer than they'd like.
Oliver quickly feels his heart melting for the little one. Whether Amaranth is his child or not, he's happy to care for her as much as he can. Unfortunately, his business calls for him. He's been regularly getting two or three styling jobs a day.
Oliver: "Okay, let me just...find that...sunscreen..."
Oliver: "Sorry, ma'am, just have to apply some sunscreen. Fair skin burns easily, you know."
Oliver: "What in...?!"
Woman: "Oh, those are my twin babies. They wanna watch their mama get styled, you know!"
Oliver: "Did they just open and shut the door to come out to the front porch?!"
Woman: "Yup. They're smart, aren't they?"
Oliver: "They can't even walk yet!"
Oliver mostly enjoys his job, but there are the odd clients here and there that make him doubt his calling.
Oliver: "...Sir, do you dye your eyebrows?"
Man: "Of course I do. Don't you? Blond eyebrows are the new trend. I would think you as a stylist would know that."
Oliver: "Well, uh, blond eyebrows are a trend for certain types of people."
Man: "What types of people are those?"
Oliver: "People with blond hair."
Phantom finishes up his gardening and his beekeeping (getting stung again, something that hurts just as bad now as it did the first time), then heads inside to take a shower. After he's done, he wanders into the baby's room. Midnight hasn't even looked at Amaranth since she birthed her, and Oliver and Jakkson are often out styling and hunting and thus have to leave Amaranth alone much of the time. Slightly afraid suddenly, Phantom peeks over the crib's railing. He discovers Amaranth to be wide awake. She stares at him and he stares at her for a moment or two. Phantom wonders if he should just turn on his heel and leave. Pixies have incredible memories, and he can certainly remember things from his childhood that he wished he didn't.
Instead, Phantom decides to stay. Amaranth is a cute baby, and she's probably lonely, since Jakk and Oliver left this morning. Very, very carefully, Phantom picks up the baby girl, his fingers trembling as they slip under her. He stays leaning over the crib for a few moments, keeping Amaranth close to the bottom in case he drops her. Mama Pixie never trusted him with carrying things because of his butterfingers, and the last thing he wants to do now is be responsible for the death of a baby because he dropped her.
Phantom swallows. Why does he feel so awkward and shy talking to a baby? He's never been shy talking to anyone else. Why is he suddenly very afraid right now? Trying to shake his nerves, Phantom again speaks softly to little Amaranth: "My name is Phantom. I'm a fairy. See, you can see my wings. I'm not your daddy, but I like you anyway. And there's a vampire and a werewolf in this house too, and though only one of them can be your daddy, they both like you too."
Phantom straightens up slightly, bringing the baby closer to his chest, holding his arms together firmly to make sure Amaranth is safely in his grip. He still trembles with fear. He doesn't like to stay silent long. The silence gives him more time to think on his fear.
Phantom: "You know, I bet a lot of little girls wish they could grow up in a castle. Lots of girls at my fairy village growing up wanted to live in a castle, because if you lived in a castle, you were a princess. So you can go to school and everyone will call you Pretty Princess Amaranth because you live in a castle. Of course, I didn't live in a castle. I just lived in a small cottage for a long time. My Mama was a Pixie, but since we lived in a Brownie village, she had to do work as a laundress for the village, just like other Brownie mothers were doing. My Papa was an Elf."
Strange. As Phantom finds himself opening up to little Amaranth about his own childhood, he begins to feel braver, a little bolder about speaking. The fear still grips him - oh, how it still grips him. But he realizes he's never chosen to speak about it before, not to anyone. He supposes if he should tell anyone, there'd be no harm in telling a baby. Amaranth looks to be a human baby, and human babies never remember anything you tell them, not until they're older.
Phantom: "My Papa was fighting in the war. Oh, you probably don't know about it. You'll probably never know about it. You'll probably live in Moonlight Falls all your life and never know what happened in Faerah where I grew up. Humans don't really know about lands across the ocean like Faerah. But there was a war, a fierce one, between the fae and the goblins. My Papa was a warrior Elf. The war was over shortly after I was born, but he wasn't expecting me when he came home..."
Firewar Felirae: "The war is over, River. The goblins have been defeated, they've surrendered. It might take some time before things truly get back to normal, but the fae should be safer now. Pah. It was a long war. The goblins should've surrendered months ago."
River: "I'm just glad you're back home, Firewar. I've missed you so much."
Firewar: "Yes. Now then. Is supper ready? I'm quite hungry."
River: "Well, uh...um...it's also, uh..."
Firewar: "River, is there something you're hiding from me?"
River: "Well, um...I have a...bit of a surprise for you! I-I couldn't reach you at your base while you were at war, nobody gave me an address."
Firewar: "What's going on, River? What are you hiding from me?"
River: "I'm not hiding anything! It's just...a big change for our family that happened while you were gone. A happy change--"
Firewar: "I'll be the one to judge that. I hope it's an addition to the house or something."
River: "Oh, Firewar!"
Phantom: "...It's easy for me to look at you and see you're a beautiful baby, Amaranth. Jakk and Oliver think so too. I can look at you and see a lot of things that you could be, what you'll grow up to do. I like you a lot, so it makes me smile when I look at you. And you smile back, because that's what you should see. But I remember, Amaranth. My Papa never wanted children. He hated them and wanted nothing to do with producing an heir. There were no smiles on his face when he saw me."
Firewar: "What the hell is this?! This....THING!"
River: "Firewar, please..."
Firewar: "This...this can't be..."
Baby Phantom: "...Papa?"
Phantom: "I remember being happy to see him, Amaranth. Mama Pixie showed me pictures and taught me words like 'Papa' and 'Elf.' He looked just like the pictures Mama Pixie showed me, all big and strong and handsome. I hadn't met my Papa yet and now he had come back from the war. But he was smiling in all the pictures Mama Pixie showed me, and I was confused when he looked so angry at me. I wanted to see his smile, but instead he hated me, and his face showed it."
Firewar: "The brat can't be mine! I was away at war!"
River: "But you came home last week, remember? A brief visit before your last duties..."
Firewar: "I don't remember us sleeping together that night!"
River: "Darling, you...you were drunk..."
Firewar: "You're telling me I created this thing while I was drunk?!"
River: "That's how it happened, Firewar!"
Firewar: "I told you on the day we married that there will not be any children in this house! Mine or not mine, that thing has to go! We were going to use this room as a living room, not a nursery!"
River: "We can't just abandon him, Firewar! He's our child!"
Firewar: "I don't want the child!"
Phantom: "Mama Pixie had told me my Papa was brave and mighty and good. She loved and respected him so much for protecting us by fighting in the war, even though Papa didn't know I existed yet. But I remember, Amaranth. After watching my Papa strike Mama Pixie across the face, I didn't think he was brave or mighty or good at all. He wasn't at all like the man Mama Pixie described him to be. I remember he stormed out of the room after hitting her, and Mama Pixie ran after him."
River: "Firewar, what are you doing?!"
Firewar: "He will never be my child. No one on this earth will ever look at that boy and think of him as my child."
River: "Firewar! You may not want him, but he is your child. He has your wings!"
Firewar: "He won't. Not anymore."
Phantom: "Look at you. I'm not even your Papa and you're still smiling at me. I like that. I like when people smile at me. Babies should smile at people. They should never have cause to fear people. I hope you always smile at strangers, and at your Mama, and at your Papa whenever you learn who he is. I didn't smile at my Papa when I first saw him. I definitely didn't smile at my Papa when he came back into the room with the kitchen shears."
River: "Firewar, no!!!"
Firewar: "He is not my child! Nobody will look at him or his ratty wings and ever mistake him as mine!"
River: "Stop!! No!!"
Firewar: "Get off me, woman!!"
Phantom: "Mama Pixie tried to stop him. Really she did, Amaranth. But he hit her in the face again, and this time she fell to the floor and couldn't get back up in time. I couldn't run away, since I was trapped in my crib, and I hadn't learned how to fly yet. There was nothing I could do. Papa clipped my wings. I think Mama Pixie thinks I don't remember what that day was like. But I remember, Amaranth. I remember the pain. I hope you never feel anything like it in your life. Pieces of my wings were lying on the floor, blood was pouring down my back, I was screaming and crying with every bit of lung power I had. Papa stormed out immediately after he'd done it, left the house, left everything. He never came back. Mama Pixie and I were alone from that moment on. I'll never forget how hard she cried as she held me and tried to stop the bleeding from my wings."
River: "Oh, Phantom...I'm so sorry....I'm so, so sorry..."
Phantom: "She rushed me to the fairy doctor. He was very kind and very good at his work, made the bleeding stop and saved my life. He even lowered the cost for the visit since Papa was now gone and we'd soon run out of money without him. Mama Pixie didn't make a lot as a laundress. The doctor told me I would never be able to fly. For a long time, that was true. For a long time, Mama Pixie never flew either - she just walked with me everywhere. Eventually we couldn't afford our cottage and we were the object of shame around the village, since a brave warrior Elf would never leave his wife unless she did something horrible, and of course it's a deep, deep shame for a fairy not to be able to fly. We came across the ocean to Moonlight Falls and moved into a small fairy house at the arboretum where we could rent it with a bunch of other fairies. Everyone else at the arboretum wondered why I couldn't fly. They'd tease me about it. Some of the older fairy boys at the fairy house - my "brothers" - always picked on me and called me a glowworm, because I could walk and crawl but not fly. It got me really upset. I wanted to fly more than anything. So each day I tried and tried, and I failed and failed. I tried and failed for years. But one day I floated. So I kept trying, and trying, and trying."
Phantom: "And now I can fly, just like this! Really we're not that much different, Amaranth. I have clipped wings and you have no wings. But I learned to fly, and you'll learn to fly too, little one, if you really want to."
Phantom places Amaranth back in her crib. She smiles at him as he leaves her side, then he walks out the door. He pauses for a moment, then checks his hands. They're not trembling anymore. The fear is gone.
Satisfied, Phantom puts his hands in his pockets and flits down the stairs...stopping when he feels the small potion in his pocket. Oh yes! The Zombification potion! Quickly Phantom looks around. Who to play this delightful prank on? Oliver is still at the salon, and it looks like Jakkson is still out hunting. What a bother. Unless...
Phantom flies outside and nearly squeals with glee. Midnight is outside examining his garden.
Phantom: "Midnight! Watch this!"
Before Midnight can react, Phantom throws the potion at her feet, watching it explode. Midnight gasps, wondering what on earth has happened. Suddenly she feels her mind completely shut down. Her body begins to react in strange and uncomfortable ways. What is happening to her?
Midnight: "Cough, cough! Phantom, what have youaadddddaaahhhhh?"
Phantom: "I thought this was a zombie potion, not a pirate potion..."
Phantom: "....Midnight? Are you okay?"
Phantom: "...Oh crap."
But Midnight climbs right back out of the ground just as quickly as she fell through. She stumbles towards Phantom, clearly in a different state of mind.
Phantom flinches a little, but his actual reaction?
Phantom: "Oh boy! This is so cool! Greatest! Prank! Ever!"
Author's note: Oh Phantom, what have you gotten the Overlord household into?
I implied it in the story, but yes, Amaranth is a human baby. Looks like you'll have to wait a bit longer to see who the daddy is. Perhaps when she reaches toddler stage, we'll be able to see some differences. But to make things more difficult, Oliver and Jakkson have the same hair color!
The pics for Phantom's story were frustrating. I clouded them all (like the first picture of Phantom's memory scene), but for whatever reason only a couple would upload here clouded, the rest came through unaltered. I was frustrated trying to figure out how to upload them edited correctly, so I just left them as is. I hope that doesn't take away from the effect too much. So, there's the snippet of Phantom's past, and that's probably all I'll delve into for this story, anyway. It may be difficult to see Phantom's "clipped" wings at first, but if you compare them with both his parents, they have ornate wings with multiple "spikes" while Phantom's only have three "spikes," indicating the other spikes have been clipped off.
I wanted to dedicate most of this chapter to Phantom's childhood, so things should start speeding up a little bit from here. Generation Three isn't even a toddler yet and I've already used nine chapters on this generation. :P
Comment if you liked it! :D