Broadway Goes to Avalon

by Christine Morgan

Author's Note: the characters of Gargoyles belong to Disney and are
used here without their knowledge or consent. I am pleased and
flattered that so many of my talented fellow authors have adopted and
adapted my versions of the Avalon clan into their own universes.

        "Angela always talked about moonrise over Avalon," Broadway said.         "It is beautiful, don't you think?"         Not half so beautiful as the ivory angel it shines upon, he thought but didn't say, because he knew he'd stumble and fumble over the words. So he settled for sneaking a surreptitious peek at her.         Elektra tipped her head back and lifted her face to the heavens, closing her eyes as she breathed the fragrant air. Her soft brown hair swirled unfettered around her hips, and she unfurled her wings as if to test the wind. At the moment, she looked pure gargoyle, and no one could have guessed that she was half-human.         The sky overhead was a ballroom where constellations danced against a backdrop of swirling mists. Oberon's palace glimmered like a crystal rainbow at Avalon's heart, surrounded by trees that bore both fruit and blossoms all year long.         From the Magus' lonely tower, they had a breathtaking view of the entire island. Winged shadows wheeled above the torchlit ramparts of Princess Katherine's castle as the gargoyles made ready for an evening hunt.         "'Tis kind of you, staying here with me," Elektra said. "I know 'twould have been more comfortable for you to roost with the others."         "Aw, no, not really," he mumbled, blushing.         It had actually been a little overwhelming, meeting Gabriel's clan. Not counting that weird business with Puck and the mirror, he could count on the fingers of both hands the number of female gargoyles he'd seen in the past few years and still have fingers left over.         There hadn't been many females in his own age group, and Brooklyn, who'd always had that good-looking rebel thing going for him, had been far more popular than either Broadway or Lex.         But Angela had many sisters on Avalon, many pretty sisters. Even though nearly all of them had mates, it was a real visual feast. He knew he was no threat to the males, because it seemed like everyone but Elektra could read his feelings for her in a split second.         "I've ever been distant from my siblings," she was saying. "Even before the Magus found Malcolm's journal and learned of the forbidden desire 'twixt prince and gargoyle. Now, I must be more cautious, lest the others guess my secret."         "Goliath accepts you," Broadway argued. "And Hudson."         "Ah, but would they have," she said, tipping her lovely eyes to him, "had they met me before Goliath and Elisa discovered their love? Had this become known a thousand years ago, would they have kept or shunned me?"         He shuffled his talons, knowing she was right. Until Goliath and Elisa, he never would have thought it possible for a gargoyle to fall for a human. He was used to it now. Goliath and Elisa, Lex and Aiden -- heck, even him and Birdie, though nothing serious had ever come of that.         Birdie was fun to hang out with. He appreciated the time they'd spent together and all she'd taught him about making out (even if he _was_ the oldest gargoyle virgin on the face of the earth).         Yeah, Birdie was great, but Elektra ...         "The Magus never dared tell the princess," she continued, unaware of the thoughts that were running through his head. "He feared it would do harm to her memory of her father. I would not for the world cause her pain."         "A gargoyle shouldn't be without clan."         She looked down at her five-fingered hands, spread on the sill of the narrow window. "'Tis difficult, aye. More so now that the Magus has gone. Among your clan, I felt a belonging I never did feel before. I could be most happy there."         He smothered a giddy cheer of joy, tried to keep his heart from doing happy little flip-flops in his chest. "You'd be welcome to stay with us. I know that. Always. Now and -- " he almost said 'forever,' the mates' phrase, and caught himself, "-- always."         "Yet I cannot abandon my quest. Not while there may be some hope of Jericho's redemption. 'Twas by my bidding that he did leave Avalon."         "You can't blame yourself. Demona came to Avalon for a reason, to fetch him. He would have gone with her even if you hadn't said anything."         "Mayhap," she said, unconvinced. "But we dare not tarry here much longer. These few nights we've passed on Avalon have let weeks go by in the world from whence you came. Tonight I shall try again the Magus' Seeing Stone, in hopes it might show Jericho to me."                 *               *         "When mean you to tell my pretty sister that you love her?" Corwin asked.         Broadway had just speared a thick slice of roast venison from the serving tray, and promptly dropped it. Boudicca, as if she'd been waiting for just that moment, snatched it up and ran away. He barely noticed, staring at the golden male who had Coldstone's profile and Coldfire's unusual wings.         "I ... uh ... wasn't planning on it just yet," he stammered. "She's ... well ... Jericho ..."         "Aye, who would have guessed Jericho? Gabriel told me, and I'd a time believing it! I know my wayward brother better than most, and he'll not be content with any good female's love. 'Tis not in his nature. Fire and fury live in his heart. Danger shall be his mistress, and anger his bedfellow."         "Yeah, I guess. That pretty much sums up his mom, too."         "And so I ask again, when shall you tell Elektra? She profits from your company. You bring more smiles to her lips than I've seen in all her life, and never have I known her to be more at ease among her own clan than when she brought you hither. You'd make a fine mate for her, and should speak your piece soon!"         "I will. I mean, I might. I mean, maybe." He rubbed a self- conscious hand over his head and tried again. "Right now, I'm going with her because I'm worried about what Demona might do."         He didn't elaborate, but if anything could arouse Demona's wrath more than meeting a gargoyle/human crossbreed, it would be meeting one that was trying to take her son away.         He'd had a long talk with Goliath on that subject. Goliath wanted the clan to handle it as a clan, but Elektra, gentle and soft- spoken though she was, had an inner core of determination that not even Goliath could sway.         So, it was just the two of them, following Elektra's hope that Avalon would send them to Jericho.               At least he'd had plenty of notice, as Elisa had pointed out, still remembering her own impromptu voyage. On her advice, the skiff was packed with supplies: food, an atlas and compact set of travel books. And, at Goliath's insistance, a stack of pre-addressed and stamped postcards to keep the clan informed of their whereabouts.         It was kind of crazy, helping her find the guy she liked when he was already head-over-talons for her himself. But it would be crazier to send her off alone against Demona. He personally didn't really care what happened to Jericho, even if he was Goliath's son and Angela's brother.         "I'm glad she has such a companion," Corwin said, clapping him companionably on the shoulder as he rose to refill his tankard of the heady Avalonian mead. "Care for her well, friend!"         "I will," Broadway promised. "I will."                 *               *         "Elektra!" Jacob hailed. "I was just showing your new friend how to play trenchers; come and join us!"         Broadway smiled at her, trying to keep most of his attention focused on the board he and Jacob held between them. It was about the size of a magazine, with channels and holes carved into the wood. A dozen marbles, six red and six white, rolled in the channels.         He was playing white, and the object of the game was to maneuver the board so that Jacob's red marbles got trapped in holes while keeping his own free. Thus far, he'd lost seven times out of eight, but one game hadn't counted because Ruth had accidentally jostled them while fleeing, giggling, from her mate Malachi.         Jacob reminded Broadway of Lex in more ways than one. They had the same small, web-winged build, the same impish grin, the same quick dextrous hands and love of clever games. Jacob was tan in color, and had a bristle of brown hair that stuck straight up and made him look a little like a hedgehog.         He was oddly matched with the striking Tourmaline, a tall willowy female. There was no love lost between Tourmaline and Elektra, something that Broadway had noticed even if the rest of the clan seemed oblivious (Gabriel, contending with three gorgeously mirror-image mates who differed only in hair color, was oblivious to most everything). He guessed it had something to do with that all- around great guy, Jericho.         Elektra approached them, smiling so sweetly it made Broadway's teeth ache. "Would that I could, brother, but I must to the Magus' tower 'ere long."         "I'll go with you," Broadway offered. "He's already beating the loincloth off of me!"         "Oh, you mustn't go yet!" Uriel's mate Miriam protested. Of all Elektra's sisters, Broadway liked her best, for she was plump and pretty and friendly, and thanks to Avalon's magic larders, conjured up the best desserts he'd ever tasted. "I was going to try my hand at these banasplits you told us of! If you'll lend your aid."         "Banana splits," Broadway corrected, grinning at her before turning an appealing eye to Elektra. "What do you say?"         "Well ..."         "Ice cream," he wheedled, knowing that it was her one great weakness.         "Aye, very well, you've won me," she gave in.         If only it was that easy, he thought as he followed Miriam to the pantry.         He'd been impressed with Xanatos' kitchen, but not even that one had a pantry like this. When Elektra had first shown him how they could use their will to create whatever they desired, it had been like a dream come true.         "A replicator!" he'd gasped, awed.         Elektra had favored him with a puzzled, polite smile.         "Star Trek," he'd elaborated. "You know, 'tea, Earl Grey, hot.'"         "Ah!" she'd said. "That program of which Lexington is so fond! But yes, 'tis true, any food you desire can be made by pure thought and magic. Anything at all!"         How she'd laughed when, given the delicacies of the whole world to choose from, he'd come up with a pepperoni and extra cheese pizza. "Well," he'd protested defensively, "we're outside most normal delivery areas!"         Soon, the entire clan was enjoying enormous banana splits. Broadway felt a pang of what he was't sure was guilt or pride. They'd been having the same old medieval fare, for it was all they knew, but in his short stay, he'd introduced many a modern treat.         "Now, in truth, I must be going," Elektra said. "I've need of the Magus' Seeing Stone, and must use it when the stars are right."         "We'll see you tomorrow night, shan't we, sister?" Gabriel divested himself of mates long enough to ask.         "For a time. My quest calls to me, and so we may leave quite soon."         "Must you?" Ruth sighed. "It's been most jolly having you here! Not at all like before, when you'd lock yourself away with the Magus and we'd scarce see wing nor tail of you for months at a time!"         "Sister, I must," Elektra said, seeming a bit surprised. Broadway remembered how startled she'd been by the warmth of Angela's greeting. He saw her look down ar her hands, her give-away five-fingered hands, and self-consciously tuck them into the folds of her skirt. "Our brother is in need of aid."         "Then we all of us should go!" feisty Zachariah declared, and several of his brothers chorused agreement.         "Nay," Gabriel said, before Elektra could protest and before Broadway's heart could sink too far at the prospect of having a whole crowd along, especially one consisting of a half-dozen mateless males. "This is Elektra's quest for now, and should she need us, she'll call. Won't you, sister?"         "I shall." She bowed her head demurely.                 *               *         "The stars have gone wrong," Elektra declared, turning away from the dark Seeing Stone. "I'll see nothing tonight."         "I'm sorry," Broadway said. "It was my fault, wanting to stay for dessert."         "Nay, I'm to blame too. I've ever been fond of Deborah's singing and could not tear myself away."         Broadway nodded. "I can see why. She's fantastic."         He briefly considered suggesting that Deborah record an album. After all, Ebon had become a rock star. But Ebon was striking in a good-looking way, while Deborah was unfortunately plain-featured and had a very prominent rhinoceros-like horn sprouting from the middle of her face.         She was also devoted to her mate, who played the pipes almost as well as she sang. Broadway guessed that Laertes was Ophelia's brother, because they both had the same distinctive triceratops crest. One of Goliath's rookery brothers, a gunmetal-grey, humorless warrior, had looked like that.         Elektra sighed, then managed a faint smile. "Tomorrow night will be soon enough."         "There's something I was wondering," he said as he helped her tidy up the Magus' chamber. "I didn't want to ask in front of the others, and it's probably none of my business, but what's up with Icarus? Why does he keep his wings bound against his back?"         "'Tis well you did not ask in front of him. He's loathe to discuss it." She swept her skirt beneath her and sat by fireplace, and the soft glow of the embers turned her pale skin to rich gold. "When we were hatchlings, he had another name. Beshrew me, but I cannot recall it. One night when we were learning to glide, he took it into his head to race the dawn. And lost. Sunrise caught him yet in midair."         Broadway groaned in empathy. He'd been there once. If not for Elisa's good marksmanship and a lot of luck, he would have been reduced to gravel.         "In his fall," Elektra continued, "one of his wings was cleft in twain, and the other sorely damaged. Yet he revived at dusk, though in sheerest agony. 'Twas all the Magus could do to save his life, and for many nights thereafter we thought he still would perish. At last he grew strong again, but naught could be done for his wings."         "So he can't glide?" Broadway tried to imagine losing his wings, being landbound forever. It made him shudder.         "He can," Elektra corrected, taking up a brush and unbraiding her hair. "Though not with grace, and in much discomfort. Thereafter, the Magus called him Icarus, for the one who strove to reach the sun on wings his father had made, and fell into the sea."         He fell silent, shifting his own wings and feeling glad they were whole and okay. Besides, watching Elektra brush her hair was causing his temperature to climb. He almost offered to do it for her, but couldn't quite bring himself to say so.         He cast about for something else to talk about. "Um, Miriam told me that the princess wanted to see you," he ventured. "She would have come down herself, but I guess she's not feeling well lately."         "Oh!" Elektra looked surprised, then fretful. "Yet I dare not, for should she realize ..."         "Uh, listen, Elektra, I'm not much good at giving advice and stuff. Just a big dumb gargoyle whose brains are in his stomach --"         "That's not so!" She whirled on him so fiercely that he took an involuntary step back and almost bumped the Seeing Stone with his rear end. Visions of it smashing on the floor flashed through his head, leaving him cold. "It's not so, and I'll not hear you belittle yourself! You're kind and good-hearted, and my friend!"         "Okay, okay. Sorry!"         "And I'd be pleased to hear your advice," she finished.         He hunkered down near her. "Well,  think you should tell the princess."         "What?!"         "Sure! Yeah, so maybe the Katherine _I_ remember would have pitched a fit, but the Katherine who gave up her whole life to save the eggs, and raised up the hatchlings as her own, that doesn't sound like a woman who hates gargoyles."         "But I'm not a gargoyle, Broadway, not entirely! And that be what the crux of it is! Suppose she should come to hate all gargoyles anew, thinking my mother a seductress who tempted her father into an unholy union?"         He wrinkled his nose. "When you put it that way ... but don't put it that way! She doesn't object to humans and gargoyles getting together. At least, it sure didn't when she and Tom came to Xanatos' Christmas party. She seemed really happy for Goliath and Elisa."         "Aye, mayhap, but this was her own father! Who defiled her dead mother's memory to dally with an inhuman --"         Broadway gently put his hand over her mouth. "Jalapena, Elektra, if you keep talking like that, of course she's going to be mad!"         When she spoke, the sensation of her lips moving beneath his fingers nearly made him forget everything he'd been saying. "What would you have me do, then? And why? Why need she know?"         He reluctantly lowered his hand. "For one thing, she loved her father like crazy. Don't you think she'd like to know that he had some happiness, even in secret? And for another, the prince didn't have any other kids. His wife died in childbirth, and the baby with her. Katherine was so busy with the thirty-five of you that she never had any children of her own."         "Aye, but what has that to do with it?"         "You're her half-sister. Malcolm's blood flows in your veins. If you have children --" he blushed just thinking of it, "-- they'd be his grandkids. Wouldn't Katherine like to know that her father's line might be carried on?"         Her mouth became a surprised circle and he wanted to kiss her, a good old-fashioned 1940's silver screen bending-backward smooch that would make little Valentine shapes and cupids fly around her head. But he knew he wasn't that great a kisser despite all Birdie's tutelage, so he held back.         "His grandchildren," she echoed, placing her palm against her slender waist as if she could already imagine them growing within.         Jeepers-creepers, he thought, I don't just have a crush on her, I want her to be my mate! Now and forever! Just my luck she's in love with old Jerk-O!         "But think you 'twould please her?" she asked anxiously. "Even though they'd be gargoyles?"         "Unless you mated with a human," he said without thinking, and winced because now he'd given himself a whole world full of competition. "Uh, I mean, um ... either way, she deserves to know."         "Aye, she does," she said slowly. "She does. But not yet. Let me wait, and tell her another time, when my quest is done."         He shook his head. "I think you should do it before we leave."         "But why? I cannot! Not so soon! I'm not ready!"         "Elektra ..." he clasped her delicate hands in his. "Elektra, there might not be another time. She's not a young woman anymore. And this quest, it's going to be pretty dangerous. Who knows how long it's going to take, or if we're going to make it. You might not get another chance."         She sat silent for a long while, her soft hair obscuring her face. Then she raised her eyes to his and the way they were shining, brighter than Avlaon's stars -- wow, if he hadn't already been neck-deep in love with her, he would have gone right then.         "Thank you, Broadway, for making me see. You're right. I'll tell her this coming night, tell her all and give unto her the journal. And to think you decried yourself for lacking wisdom, when 'tis true you've more than even the Magus."         The urge to kiss her was stronger than ever, but he wrestled it back and brushed his knuckles briefly against her brow ridges.         "Anytime, doll," he said.                 *               *         "I must say, I'm surprised ye've come to see us, though I hoped ye would," Princess Katherine said as she poured wine for each of them. Broadway offered to help but she waved him back to his seat, pleased to play the hostess.         Elektra stared at the tabletop, wearing her uncertainty like an enveloping cloak. "I know I've not been so dutiful as the others," she began.         "Nay, lass, ye had yer hands full as the Magus' pupil," Tom said easily.         Now Katherine looked down. "And t'was because of him that ye dinna care so much for me, is that right?"         "What?" Elektra gasped.         "Aye, child, ye needn't hide it from me. Ye must have known that he loved me, and how it pained him when my heart turned to Tom." Her hand found his, and he squeezed it comfortingly.         Broadway looked at Elektra, nonplussed. This hadn't been the direction either of them had anticipated the conversation going.         "I knew of his love," Katherine went on. "When we came to Avalon, I thought sure he'd be the one. I made myself pretty for him, and did my best to lead him to speak, but he ne'er did. He thought that without his magic, he had nothing to offer me, and so he held back. Mayhap also he did because his love was the sort that was best left courtly, and could not withstand passion's fire."         "Aye," Elektra said softly. "Loved, he did, but his passion was only for the magic he had lost. A passion of the spirit, not of the body."         Broadway was getting a pretty good idea of just how much the Magus really had meant to Elektra, and he slapped a lid on the bubbling stew of his emotions. Last thing he needed was to flavor it with jealousy for a man long-dead.         "He ne'er dared let himself become one that I could fully love," Katherine said, dabbing at the corners of her eyes. "And so, as Tom grew into a man, with a man's desires, I came to love him instead. The Magus drew away from us, but we were so transported by happiness that we didna notice how he suffered. I canna fault ye, Elektra, for laying his pain at my feet."         "Oh, lady, no!" Elektra cried, and reached out impulsively, catching herself just before she touched Katherine's arm. "Never did I blame you! Nor did the Magus!"         "Then why," Katherine sobbed, covering her face with a handkerchief, "why do ye hate me so?"         "Hate you?" Elektra echoed in a strengthless whisper. "No! I but stayed away to ... to spare you from pain of your own! And keep you from looking hatefully upon me!"         "What do ye mean, little egg?" Tom asked.         "The Magus thought it best that I not be so much with my siblings, or with you, lest you guess a secret that he learned."         Katherine looked up, wiping her eyes. "What secret could this be, that would turn me against one of my own?"         Elektra took a deep breath, and glanced to Broadway for support.         "Go on," he urged. "No more secrets."         She nodded, then stood, folded her wings against her back and smoothed her hair. "Look on me, princess." She held out her hands, five fingers spread. "Look on me, and know what, and who, I am."         "Why, Elektra ..." Katherine breathed, seeing her as if for the first time. "Ye ... ye look ..."         "Almost human," Tom finished, amazed. "Upon my soul, 'tis uncanny! Be this some sorcery of the Magus' doing? Or Oberon?"         "Nay, Guardian. No sorcery. Of a gargoyle mother was I born, 'tis true, but sired by a man." She gravely met Katherine's stunned gaze. "The prince, your father, was also mine."         Katherine could not speak, and her hand trembled so as she reached dazedly for her wineglass that she knocked it heedlessly to the floor.         "The Magus did not know of it until he found this, the prince's journal." She laid the book on the table. "But once he knew, he could not believe he had been so blind to it all this time, and then came to fear that all others would know the moment they set eyes upon me. Goliath, in truth, did see me for what I was, and thus I confessed all to him."         "Hudson knew all along," Broadway added. "The prince, before he died, asked Hudson to look out for the egg."         "Goliath and his clan be knowing of this, then?" Tom asked. "And they dinna mind?"         "Nay," Elektra said, still sounding amazed by that fact. "They accept with right good will. If not for that, I'd not have had the courage to tell you." She smiled warmly at Broadway. "Even so, I would have turned coward, had my gallant friend not bid me speak the truth."         "My father ..." Katherine said faintly.         She had become very pale, and was rubbing at her left arm in a way Broadway, who watched lots of medical shows, didn't like at all. A fine sheen of perspiration had broken out on her brow, and her lips were a greyish hue.         "Katherine!" Tom, alarmed, moved to her side. "The weakness come over ye again?"         "I think she's having a heart attack," Broadway heard himself say, and then wished he could take the words back because of the stricken look that came to Elektra's face.         Tom hovered over his wife. "Katherine, love, are ye all right?"         "Fine, Tom," came her ghost of a reply. "I but need to rest a while ..."         "Nay!" he shouted. "That was what the Magus said. Dinna leave me as he left ye!"         "Oh, behold what I've done!" Elektra wailed, wringing her hands.         "Elektra ..." Katherine whispered. "Come here, child."         She dropped to her knees beside the ailing woman, weeping freely. "I meant not --"         "Hush. Hush. I know."         "Is there nothing ye can do?" Tom desperately asked Broadway.         "I'm no doctor --" He looked helplessly around the room, crazily hoping to see a phone. But, just as there was no pizza delivery on Avalon, here 911 was only a meaningless number.         "Tom ..." Katherine said, and then silence, as she failed to take another breath.                 *               *         They stood apart from the others, the somber overseers of the dead. Anubis, Hades and his queen, others whose names had chilled or comforted mortals over the milennia.         The rest of the Children paid them little mind, too caught up in their games and merriment. Mighty Oberon lolled upon his jeweled throne, teasingly holding a petal of lady's veil just out of Freya's reach, while Titania observed with an amused detatchment.         But Anubis' voice cut through the general babble. "A mortal dies on Avalon."         Oberon glanced up. "What? Which is it?"         "The human princess, Katherine of Wyvern."         Several of those present murmured sympathetically.         "Be still," Oberon commanded crossly. "We'll not have our Gathering disturbed by any unhappiness. What is the life of one mortal to us?"         "But, my lord." Freya had lost all interest in both the lady's veil and his flirtation. "When you sent us to dwell in the mortal world, it was that we might better know the mortals."         "Their worship and sacrifices gave us power, their brief but bright-burning lives gave us a deeper appreciation for our own timeless existence," Horus added.         "And this woman is notable even among humans," Titania said. "Avalon accepted her in our absence, succored her and her charges, and --" here she shot the Sisters a sour look "--even defended her against treacherous magics. Her life has been long, indeed, but her work is not yet complete."         Oberon sighed petulently and rolled his eyes. "We will suffer no grieving in our presence! The death of mortals cannot be undone."         "She has not yet passed, lord," Anubis said.                 *               *         "And fourteen and fifteen, and breathe!" Broadway clamped his mouth over Katherine's slack lips and blew into her lungs, then resumed chest compressions. "One and two and --"         "'Tis no good!" Tom chafed her limp hand, his face wracked with grief. "She's dead, lad."         "No!" Elektra sobbed. "No, Guardian, let him try! Oh, if only the Magus were here! He knew how to brew elixirs of healing plants and might save her!"         "Fifteen, and breathe!" Broadway did, then tried for a pulse. Nothing. Compressions again, even though he felt ribs crack beneath the pressure. "Elektra, you can do it! You were his student!"         "He ne'er taught me of that! And there be no time to collect the plants, even did I know --"         "No, use the replicator!"                 *               *         The mortals, human and gargoyle and crossbreed, did not know that they were now observed by all of Oberon's court.         "Well done," Titania murmured, as Elektra leapt up in response to Broadway's words.         Oberon sulked, annoyed that the scene in his queen's mirror proved so captivating to his subjects.         He was beginning to wonder if sending them to spend a milennium in the outside world had been a mistake after all. But Avalon's resources had been nearly drained by the apocalyptic battle between himself and the traitorous Hecate, and had needed time to replenish.         Now, some of them even leaned intently forward as Elektra laid her palm upon the door of the castle's magical larder, and briefly cast her eyes heavenward.         "Avalon, hear me, and help me," she prayed.         Oberon made a sour face, then deliberately turned away from the mirror. He held up the fragile white petal of lady's veil consideringly. Since Freya failed to appreciate, no sense letting it go to waste. He set it on his tongue and closed his eyes to savor the taste and the heady sensation.         He still wasn't spared the scattered cheers from his court, and knew it meant that Avalon had indeed provided an elixir.         He sensed a presence before him and opened one eye to see Anubis. Neither the jackal-god nor Hades seemed unduly upset that a soul had escaped their empires of the dead.         Anubis bowed slightly and traced the smoky shape of an ankh in the air, where it lingered. "The woman lives, Lord Oberon."                 *               *         "What you mean is that you nearly slew her!" Tourmaline stalked toward Elektra, her eyes beginning to glow.         "Sister, hold," Gabriel commanded. "This is no fault of Elektra's."         "It would not have happened had she not upset the princess so," Icarus moved to Tourmaline's side. Even with his wings folded and bound, he was an impressive figure, and his lifetime of suffering had given him a harder edge than the others.         "I agree with Broadway," Jacob said, though it earned him a scathing glare from his mate. "She spoke only the truth!"         "Which only proves she's not one of us, and never has been," said Deucalion.         "She is too!" Ruth shot back.         Broadway pulled Elektra protectively close as her entire clan fell to bickering. They hadn't taken the news of Katherine's close call very well. Sheltered, with the only time they'd ever known any danger being the recent event with the Archmage, they weren't familiar with death the way their predecessors had been. They were bewildered, frightened, and half of them decided to take it out on Elektra.         "Half human, small wonder she's never fit in!" That was Ezekiel.         "She is our sister!" Corwin argued. "What does it matter if her sire was human? She, at least, knows from whence she came! Who else among us can say the same?"         "Who'd want to, if it be human blood in our veins?" Hippolyta said. "'Tis not right, that human should lie with gargoyle! If such became commonplace, it would be the end of our species! Gargoyles should breed with gargoyles!"         "Aye, so you say, but I don't see you taking a mate at all!" Zachariah, mateless and bitter about it, barked at her.         "At least if she chose a mate, she _could_ breed," Tourmaline sneered. "She's no barren _mule_!" This last was flung in Elektra's face with such force it might as well have been a slap.         Even over the uproar of the clan, Broadway heard Elektra's harsh, hurt gasp.         Pretty Miriam jumped to her defense. "How dare you speak to our sister so!"         "Everybody shut up!" Broadway roared, and to his surprise, they all did. Then he remembered that, though they had a few years on him chronologically, they still saw him as their elder. So he dipped into Goliath's book-of-scolds. "You're warriors, and rookery siblings!"         Some of them actually shuffled their talons and looked abashed, but Ezekiel and Tourmaline in particular were barely supressing snarls.         "Elektra didn't want to tell the princess," he went on. "I convinced her to. So if you're going to yell at anyone about that, it better be me."         "But it could have killed her!" Carnelian said worriedly.         "Tom, your Guardian, told me that she'd been having chest pains before this. It might have happened at any time, for any reason." He emphasized that more for Elektra than for the others.         "The important thing is that she lives," Gabriel said. "She lives, and she'll be well."         "Aye, but what of her?" Tourmaline pointed at Elektra. "She's bent on ruining this clan, can't you see it? First she sends Jericho away, and now this!"         "No, that is not how it was!" Elektra protested. "I seek him even now!"         "He abandoned the clan, and you're no better!" Icarus said. "We were never good enough for you, were we? Nay, you turned your back on us! Go to Jericho, then! You deserve each other!"         "If he'll have her," Ezekiel remarked snidely. "Mayhap he fled Avalon to avoid her attentions!"         Some of the others laughed, and Elektra buried her face in her hands.         Gabriel snapped his wings, making the sound of a whipcrack. "Did no one heed Broadway? I'll not have my clan behaving in such a fashion!"         "I expected better of my children." Princess Katherine's voice was soft, but carried to every ear.         The clan turned to see the woman, looking impossibly aged and frail, leaning on her husband's arm. A wide bandage cinched her sore ribs. Her forbidding expression squelched their cries of relief and greeting. "Is this how I find ye? For shame." She didn't speak sternly, but with a world's weight of disappointment.         Ruth and quiet Thisbe burst into tears. Elektra did not look up, even when Broadway put his arm around her. He could feel the stifled sobs shaking her body, and was torn between wanting to comfort her and wanting to knock some gargoyle heads together.         "Ye denounce Elektra for her human blood?" Katherine asked gently. "Her human blood that comes to her from my own father? Ye all are my children, but she be also my sister."         "But it's not right," Hippolyta said, lifting her jaw defiantly. "Why else would our elders keep it a secret? If they knew of it --"         "They do," Broadway interrupted. "Goliath, our leader, and Hudson, the leader before him, both know, and don't mind at all. Besides --" Goliath would kill him if he ever learned about this, but Broadway plunged on regardless "-- Goliath and Elisa, the _human_ woman that helped save your hides, are mates now. Their kids'll be just like Elektra."         "There can be no wrong in love, no matter the race." Elswyth, enamored of one of Oberon's Children, looked to Carnelian for support. The male, whose object d'amour was the Lady of the Lake, nodded.         "Elektra _is_ one of us." Handsome Corwin stood on her other side, and rested his hand on her shoulder.         She raised her head, tears dampening her cheeks. "For all that you've tried to do," she said to her defenders, "I do most earnestly give thanks. Yet ..." she stepped away from Broadway and Corwin, and approached Gabriel. She caped her wings and looked solemnly at him. "Yet I do _not_ belong here, and will not divide the clan. Cast me out, Leader. I go willingly."         "Elektra, no!" Miriam's voice was the strongest in the outcry.         "Sister ..." Gabriel began.         "Nay, brother, it must be done. I'll not stay and be the cause of such disputes and angry words. Those who do harbor fondness for me shall not blame you, for they know I go willingly. And those who now abhor me shall feel their vindication well-earned."         Gabriel shook his head, distraught. "I cannot render you clanless and alone!"         "She won't be," Broadway said, stepping up to stand by her. "Goliath has already welcomed her into our clan."         "Cast me out, brother," Elektra whispered.         "Very well," Gabriel agreed heavily.                 *               *         "I've never seen anyone cast out before," Broadway said. "And I've never even _heard_ of anyone asking for it!"         "Do you think I erred?"         "No!" he blurted, thinking that anything likely to bring her into his clan was no bad thing. "Uh -- well, I mean, if you think it was right ..."         "Avalon is not my home, and has never been." She picked up a woolen tunic and began folding it. "Even had Gabriel refused, this would have been my last night here. My place is in the outer world, for good or ill."         "Is that all you're bringing?"         "I haven't much. These clothes, a few books the Magus gave me, some trinkets, is all." As she put the folded garment in the basket and covered all with a blanket, she began to cry again. "This tower, though, I will miss!"         "Oh, hey!" He put his arms around her. "It'll be okay."         She leaned against him. "You are such a strength to me, Broadway! I couldn't manage without you. How you saved the princess ... that was most splendid!"         "CPR. Elisa used it once to save Angela's life. I made her teach me. Now I'm really glad I did." He wanted to say more, but his brain was having trouble coping with an armful of Elektra, so he didn't trust his mouth. He did let himself stroke her hair, which felt much silkier than anything he'd ever touched before.         "One last thing, before we go," she said.         "Anything."         "The Seeing Stone. The stars are right, and if good fortune is with me, I may finally see Jericho."         Broadway's shoulders slumped and he let go of her. "Sure. Good idea."         She went to the stone, a large crystal set into the center of a round marble table, and drew back the drapes so the starlight danced in its rough facets. She poured water from a silver cup over the stone, then sprinkled golden dust from a leather pouch.         "Show me my brother," she intoned. "Show me Jericho."         Deep in the crystal's center, a spark grew into a flame.         "It's ever been difficult," Elektra whispered to Broadway. "His mother, Demona, is a sorceress?"         "Yeah."         She nodded. "Wards, then, preventing her lair from being seen by magic. My talent is meagre indeed, and cannot hope to pierce her spell. Only if he's gone beyond the reach of the wards -- ah!"         The flame in the crystal had grown until the whole thing was lit from within, and now a scene began to form. It looked, Broadway thought, like a television with really terrible reception.         "Hey, that's Manhattan!" He leaned closer, interested despite himself. "Wow, what happened? That's the biggest sinkhole I've ever seen!"         "Jericho caused this," she breathed. "I feel that somehow. All this destruction, all this death, by his hand 'twas done!"         Broadway's finger stabbed at the crystal. "Is that -- the clones? Angela! Look out!"         "Jericho! Oh, see, he's caught her!"         "Uh-oh," Broadway mumbled as Jericho, with Angela in his arms, landed on a rooftop in front of Brooklyn. He knew his rookery brother, knew what it meant when his posture was that tense.         "No, oh, no," Elektra moaned. "It is the past we see, of some days or weeks already distant! He's confronted the clan!"         Expecting to see a fight, they watched in surprise as Jericho handed Angela over to Brooklyn, and launched himself from the roof. He dwindled in the distance, trailed by the winged forms of the clones.         The crystal went dark.                          *               *         "Be well, sister," Miriam said, and kissed Elektra's cheek before turning to give Broadway a hug that would have, had he been a less-padded gargoyle, squeezed his brains out his ears. "And you, look after her in that new world of yours!"         "I'm sure he will," Corwin grinned knowingly.         "And you be careful with that replicator," Broadway teased Miriam. "Don't go crazy with the banana splits!"         "I shall miss you all," Elektra declared. "Would that I had been a better sister to you, and not so distant!"         "Just because you've been exiled doesn't mean we'll not see you again," Zachariah said. "Who knows? Some of us might follow after!"         "Aye, in a few years, when your clan's had a chance to raise up a new generation!" Corwin elbowed Zachariah. "So make sure to breed many comely daughters!"         Broadway blushed. The rest laughed, particularly the mateless males, until they saw the look on Jacob's face. Elektra turned to him with dismay.         "Oh, brother, I am most sorry! Mayhap she'll change her mind."         He shook his head. "Not Tourmaline. 'Tis just as well. She took me only when she could not have Gabriel or Jericho, and even then she bade us compete, as in the legend the Magus used to tell of Atalanta. I had no golden apples to throw to divert her from the race, but was quicker than she. Do not trouble yourself with worries for me."         "I hoped that, by going, I'd spare the clan this division," Elektra said earnestly to Gabriel.         He touched her brow. "Look around you. Most of our clan is here, come to see you off with nothing but goodwill and best wishes. The others will eventually see the error of their ways."         Two figures were coming down the beach, and for a moment hope lit the eyes of several of the gargoyles, thinking them to be two more of their siblings, having a change of heart right on cue. But it was Tom and the princess, who was bundled up in a fur cloak and looking pale and drawn.         "I know, I know," she said, forestalling their protests with a raised hand. "And I'll go back to my bed once I've said my goodbyes."         Elektra knelt in the damp sand and bowed her head. "Lady --"         "Sister," Katherine corrected with a kind smile. "Sister. I'm no longer a young woman, but I'll live a while yet. Mayhap not long enough to see these ones hatch their eggs ..." she gestured to the other females, "... for ten years is a long time indeed. But should ye settle in some other clan, and have wee bairns of yer own, send word and I'll make one last journey from Avalon."         "I would like that very much," Elektra said.         "If ever ye have a son," Katherine added, her voice trembling with emotion, "would ye be so kind as to name him Malcolm?"         "I can think of no other name I'd rather choose." Elektra rose, and accepted Katherine's fragile embrace. "Farewell, sister."         The princess opened her arms to Broadway next, and he hesitated. He couldn't help it. In his mind, it hadn't been that long ago that she'd been the scornful woman who threw Goliath out of the feasting hall after he'd led the clan to victory against the Vikings. But everything she'd done since then had more than made up for it. He let her hug him, returning it with excruciating care.         "Ye saved my life. I canna repay ye for that, nor for the injuries I once caused to yer clan," she said as if she'd been reading his mind. "I know no reward can make up for it, but all the same I'd like ye to take these." She pressed a small cloth bag into his hand. "These were my grandmother's jewels. Please take them."         "Aw, princess ..." He started to offer them back, but her gaze was the strongest thing about her. It held him, pinned him, and he wound up nodding a thank-you as he tucked the pouch into his belt.         After a final round of hugs and forearm-claspings, Broadway and Elektra climbed into the skiff. Broadway took up the steering pole while Corwin and Gabriel pushed them into the water.         Elektra waved until the clan could no longer be seen, and Avalon itself was beginning to fade into a soft pearly cloud.         "Whither now, I wonder?" she said as mist closed around the skiff. "Where do we need to be?"         *               * The End.

Broadway / Page Copyright 1997 / Christine Morgan /