by Aaron Beagle

Justinus awoke with a start. He’d had the dream again. In his dream he saw his life’s work flash before him and he saw that he had failed. The dream showed him that he was actually killing souls not freeing people from insanity. The insanity, the dream world the he once lived in was now the object of his obsession. His only goal in life was to free people from the madness that plagues them. Justinus learned that his life as a Fae had all been a fantasy, merely a fairy tale. A dreamed sickness that had to be cured. Justinus studied and found that his people where in a very real sense, allergic to cold wrought iron. Upon this discovery he made a vow to cure as many of his people by cutting out their sickness with iron. At the end of his life he would then free himself and take his life with the same iron dagger that he had cured so many with.

He found that the dream seems the only thing that brings fear to his frigid heart anymore. The thought that his crusade was a misplaced ideal sickened his very soul. Yet the conflict raged on in his mind. Was it right for him to leave his life of art, music, and childhood playfulness? Each of his days had been filled with magic and wonder. He had danced in the moonlight among his brothers and sisters known collectively as the Fae. The fairies of old housed secretly in human bodies. That was a happy time in his life, and his nightmare constantly questions him. Was what he was doing right?

No, he mustn’t think such things. He must not question himself in such ways. He had been sick and now he has the cure. The cold iron can free everyone struck with this insane affliction. He could banish the insane thoughts with just one stroke of his knife. Those who were once his people where now his patients, to be cured and freed by his hand. The battle with his conscience would have to wait. Justinus has a job to do today. Today he is going to kill Baroness Angelica and free her sanity from the vile illusion of the life that she is a part. He will give her back the proper way of thinking, the proper way of living. He strides to his dresser and looks at himself in the mirror. He is a tall man with sharp, rugged features. His black hair and eyes seem to shine. He very much resembles the Crusader that he so fancies himself. He straps on his iron dagger, grabs his jacket, and walks out of his apartment.

Baroness Angelica woke that morning feeling very rested and refreshed. It had been the most fun she had in quite sometime at the ball last night. The decorations were of the stuff of magic and seemed to dance with a life all their own. The most wonderful food had been prepared. A night where she was not bogged down in politics. A night where she could enjoy her Fae life rather then worry about leadership and the like. A night where she could live in the lilac world that all Fae where supposed to be a part of.

"All except the leaders." She thought with a grumble as she went about her morning routine. She dressed quickly, tying her honey blonde hair in a simple bun. Angelica was a beautiful woman and appeared every bit the Baroness that she is. She had a slew of appointments and she could not be late. She was especially looking forward to her hair and manicure appointment at two. It’s not every day that a Baroness can steal away for personal matters. She intended not to squander her precious off time. Angelica grabbed her enchanted blade before departing from her Barony. A truly awesome weapon that was invisible to the eyes of normal men but revealed the power she wielded to her own kind. She reached the street and began her day of total relaxation.

Justinus looks down at the card that he had paid his contact a hefty sum for. It reads "Dolly's, appointment at 2 PM for Angelica." He feels disappointed that he has pursued his prey to a hair saloon. However, he can not let trivial facts such as these get him down. Today he is going to grant freedom to another person from a sickness that he can not allow to spread any further. He clenches his hand on the handle of his blade and waited in the alley, watching down the street for the Baroness to approach Dolly’s for her appointment.

Baroness Angelica arrives right on schedule. She walks down the street, smiling a broad smile as she approaches her destination. Justinus steps out of the alley to gaze at Baroness Angelica. He sweats as he gazes at her in her true form, her noble Fae form rather then her mortal shell. He nearly falls to his knees as he glimpses upon her exquisite face, the face of an angel. Her happy eyes twinkled and her magical strength seems to glow from deep within her soul. His hellish dream came upon him all at once, hounding his soul and screaming in his ears. Was what he was about to do right? Was it proper for him to kill the beauty and wonder that hides beneath her mortal flesh. Was the voice in his head right? Was his Crusade against the Fae misplaced?

The Baroness stared at Justinus knowing full well what was facing her. And it froze her spine to see him. A true Dauntain, an actual hunter of her people. She was too frightened to bolt as every instinct within her was screaming at her to do. She clenched her blade, and waited to see what he would do…