The doorbell chimes and Jane, closest to the front entrance, calls out, “I’ll get it!”
She can hear Will’s acknowledgement in response over the carols on the radio, the sound of her brothers arguing about the tree and Bran’s amused laughter.
It’s been years since all of them have been together like this; she is so glad they managed to make it work this time.
Jane opens the door, curling away from the gust of cold wind blowing in, instinctively, she draws her cardigan closer though it is only thin cotton and not much protection.
The woman at the door is equally poorly dressed for the weather–not even a scarf!–but unlike Jane, she hardly seems to mind. As if she were immune to the cold, aware but uncaring of the weather.
For a moment they stare at each other.
“Hello?” Jane asks, which seems to shake the woman out of her stupor.
“My apologies,” the woman says, accent flat and abrupt. American, then, how unusual. “Is Will Stanton available?”
Jane blinks before flushing, embarrassed. Of course. This is Will’s place, after all, of course someone ringing the doorbell would be looking for him at his own flat. And then, she flushes harder.
“Please, come in. Yes, he’s–I’ll just go get him, but please, come in. It’s cold out. Sorry, I’ve been terribly rude, I should have invited you in sooner.”
“Thank you,” the woman murmurs, before stepping inside. Jane shuts the door, grateful to bask in the warmth. The woman does not do the same, as if outside and inside were indistinguishable.
“Jane?” says Will, heading their way before she can go fetch him, “Who’s at the–ah,” he cuts himself off upon seeing the woman.
Something about the air changes, and it has nothing to do with the temperature.
“Maybe you should head over to the others,” Will says to Jane without taking his eyes off the woman, “Barney and Simon were one ornament away from a tussle and we both know Bran certainly isn’t going to stop them.”
Jane, confused and a little relieved, just nods and goes.
She looks back though; it almost looks like, instead of just one stranger and her childhood friend, there were two.
“My apologies for intruding on the festivities, Old One,” the woman who is not just a woman says to Will. Then she stops Time.
He straightens reflexively, ready for an attack.
“It must be important,” he responds. Everything about his life as an Old One is important.
The woman nods, “Important, yes, but not urgent.” Then she seems to change, diminish almost, as she adds, sheepishly, “Unfortunately, I have a flight in three hours and have been busy at a conference up until now.”
The Will who is not an Old One understands–academia is not known for excellent time management, either.
The woman reverts to her inhuman demeanor, “It was also harder to find you, earlier, without the other four Light ones.”
Will can feel a glare form on his face, mouth tight, brows furrowing, “They’re human.”
“And yet,” the woman says simply. After a beat, she shrugs. “A warning, though this is not what I am here for. For all that they are human, they… emanate Light. I do not know if you Old Ones still have enemies about, but they will be able to find your friends easily enough if you do not give them better protection.” She reaches into her bag and pulls out a small book which she hands over to him. “A gift, for the holiday, and to foster amity between us.”
He senses power, but nothing Dark, and so he takes it: a book of wards. Nothing like the Book of Gramarye, of course, but useful in its own way.
“The one who opened the door might be able to use it,” the woman suggests as he tucks it away for now.
The idea of putting Jane–or any of his friends–in danger makes him brusque, “What is it that you are here for? You are not of the Dark, nor are you an Old One. What are you?”
This time it is the woman’s turn to furrow her brows, “I was human once, too,” she says, nearly offended. “I don’t know if what I am has a name, but I have been called the Mountain Who Speaks.”
A little bit of destiny rings in the title. Will nods and understands it as truth.
“You are far from your land, Mountain.”
“That is what I am here for,” says the Mountain Who Speaks, “Something will happen in my land years–decades, maybe even centuries–from now.”
Important, but not urgent.
“And you come seeking an alliance,” Will finishes.
“Yes,” agrees the Mountain Who Speaks, “It will not be the grand battle that you had, for in my land there is no Light and Dark, but there will be trouble, and I would appreciate aid in keeping it contained.”
The first part is confusing, but the last is what alarms him, “You foresee it spreading?”
The Mountain’s expression becomes one of unimpressed skepticism, “I Speak,” she says bluntly, “I don’t See.”
It is Will’s turn to be sheepish. “Ah, of course.” Even amongst Old Ones, Sight was not a common power.
After a moment of understanding, the Mountain says, finally, “I will let you return to your party. Again, my apologies for interrupting. This was merely a courtesy call. I will leave you to make your decision, but I hope to speak with you more in the future.”
She unstops Time, the sounds of his friends–safe and happy and completely unaware of the otherworldly, supernatural alliance being brokered in the cramped entryway of Will’s flat.
Will opens the door so she can leave, neither of them flinching at the cold air that hits them. “Safe travels,” he says, not as an Old One but as regular Will Stanton.
“Merry Christmas,” she says back, not as the Mountain Who Speaks, but as the human she once was.
Which reminds him: “What is your name?” he asks belatedly and with no small amount of embarrassment.
The Mountain smiles, “I am Ellen Kaiza.”
A/N: As I said, I’ve been reading a lot of Dark is Rising fic, and a lot of them are set at Christmas. So even though it’s February, here’s… this thing.
And I guess sort of a response to this anon’s prompt for more of Doctor Ellen Kaiza’s backstory? I mean, I’m not saying this is canon for her, but given Will Stanton is also a wise, magical immortal being it resonates pretty nicely.
This is after she’s become immortal, and definitely after meeting Leanne, but still fairly early in her immortality. Within the lifetime of what a normal human Ellen Kaiza would live, basically.
I don’t know where her title came from, but I quite like it. It’s one of her earliest titles. I’m thinking she got it from the werewolf packs, maybe.
(… hrm, should I make a character tag for her? edit: okay, i made one for her “ellen tsukiko kaiza”)