Stolen Child

I love Aoibheann dearly, as if she were my blood kin, my family, but there are times when she can be incredibly frustrating. How often have I written these words, I wonder? This time, the frustration is as real as it can be, for she may have brought us to the brink of war.

I was in my chambers when I sensed a disturbance in the atmosphere of the castle. I came down the stairs to see what was going on and found Aoibheann there in the main hall. She had a child with her. I was nonplussed at first and then aghast when I recognised the child. It was Hadley! Alec and Isabella’s daughter. She was a couple of years older, naturally, but I knew her. What was even more worrying was that she was clearly in a lot of pain, and looked as though she had been removed from a hospital of some sort. Aoibheann was trying to get her to eat something and trying to decide on which of Maric’s healing potions to give her.

I knelt down and spoke to the child, asking if she remembered me, which she apparently did not. I can’t be too surprised, as we had very little contact in Jasper Cove. I was going to try some healing magic on her, so far as I knew how, but she would not stop screaming and would not let me touch her, and I was not sure I could do it without touch. I looked up and asked Aoibheann what the heck was going on. She blurted out some incoherent explanation about Hadley being left in a hospital, something about having to eat and not being able to watch the child to stop the doctors hurting her and then something about maybe the broken arm having not been properly set.

I waved her to silence, saying she should maybe explain later. I tried again with the child, thinking maybe I could at least project some calm, but she continued to scream. Before I could do anything further, Maric appeared. I briefly explained who the child was and as much of the story as I had managed to fathom from Aoibheann’s ramblings. He also tried to comfort the child and heal her pain, but she wasn’t interested, continuing to scream “don’t touch me.”

Just to add to the fun, Gwyn appeared, radiating glamour and rendering poor Milo on the doors quite incapable. Her presence was affecting Maric too. I could feel, through our link, that hunger he has for fae blood, and in his current state, I was not sure how much control he had. Gwyn seemed to know something of what was going on, but was clearly annoyed with Aoibheann for bringing the child here. Aoibheann kept trying to argue that she had been left alone in the hospital and that Hadley had wanted to come here. I started to wonder if it was Aoibheann’s experience of hospitals that was colouring her view of Hadley’s state. Gwyn, meanwhile, was telling us that Isabella was angry, extremely angry. Her hand kept going to the jewel at her neck, her tie to Isabella. Perhaps that was how she was feeling the anger. She kept trying to say that Hadley was not enjoying the trip, and that she was just a child, whereas Aoibheann kept insisting that she should not be in the hospital and that she as nearly a grown woman.

Maric asked me, through our link, what I thought was the best way to rectify this situation, and what I knew of the child, Alec and Isabella. I briefed him as best I could, suggesting that we should get Hadley back as soon as we possibly could. He also asked me to get Gwyn away from him, and I could tell that he was having difficulty controlling the hunger. He returned his attention to the child, beckoning servants to bring blankets and some of his potions while I took Gwyn’s hand and asked to speak privately with her. As we walked, I explained to Maric about Hadley’s magic and habit of disappearing off to places. I did not know the place that Hadley had come from, but I might be able to get there, by concentrating on getting to Alec.

Once outside, I explained to Gwyn about Maric’s hunger for fae blood and his current reduced level of control. She said she had felt it too. Now we were outside, she said that she was really worried, because she could feel Isabella’s anger, and that she as coming here and the land was fighting against it. We had to find some way to calm her down, because Gwyn couldn’t go against her, not with her promise.

Just then, we both felt a pain through the land, through the wyld. She felt it more than me and she cried out that something had happened to Ardan. Isabella had ripped a branch from the mallorn tree. I could feel that pain, but it dropped Gwyn to her knees. This was a step too far and I could see she was being torn in two. On one hand, there was her promise to Isabella, but on the other, she was linked to this land, and the crime against Ardan was too much for her. I took her hand, and as I did so, another fear hit me, a fear for the crystals, the incubators of our young. I allowed myself to link to the wyld again, and relaxed slightly. Surely we would have felt something if there had been any damage to our children. I asked what we should do, how we should handle this. Clearly the child needed to be returned, but now there was another issue, a direct attack on our realm.

There was another ripple through the wyld sense, and I could tell the roses were reacting to an intruder. I heard shouts of the guards, challenging somebody. I suspected that this might be Isabella and Gwyn confirmed it. She was going to the castle, and she feared what might happen then, with Isabella’s powers against Maric’s. We had to retrieve the child somehow, but she could not be near Maric. I said I would return to the castle and she should come with me, staying out of sight, but ready to help if needed. Maybe we could get the child and return her to Isabella. Be careful, she warned me, as there was an angry Isabella in my path.

She was right. There was, but I was curiously unafraid. I had no personal disagreement with Isabella, aside from what she had apparently done to Ardan, and besides, this was my turf. I walked calmly to the castle and dismissed the guards to holding positions. I advised Maric through the link that she was outside and that I would try to talk to her, meanwhile, we should try to prepare the child to be returned. Perhaps, I suggested, we could persuade Aoibheann to apologise and trhen we could convince Alec and Isabella that she acted without malice, out of her own fear of hospitals. It wasn’t much, but maybe we could do that.

Before I could go any further, or address Isabella any further beyond a bow and a greeting, there was another disturbance and Alec appeared, in his full demonic form, that I had not seen since the encounter at the bridge. I advised Maric of this, and said I would do my best to talk to them. Maric said he would join me. This was, after all, his land.

Isabella finally spoke, even if it was less a voice than a sensation of anger, saying we had her child, and that she was hurting. She held a white branch in her hands, and I knew this was part of Ardan.

I bowed respectfully. The child was safe in the castle, I told them, save for the pain of her broken arm, which had occurred before she came here. I told them that Aoibheann had acted rashly, out of her disproportionate fear of hospitals and had acted without any malice. With their permission, I said, I would have the child brought to them and there would be no need for any further harm to anybody or anything.

Alec roared at me, hovering over me, a malign, threatening form, trembling with anger and madness, inches away from ripping me limb from limb. The child had been through major surgery, he shouted, her insides had been stitched back together. And yet, she had been taken by one of mine. If there was any harm to her, why should be not reduce me to ashes, why should be not damage me until I would long for the torment of hell?

I did not, would not, let his anger touch me, I would not react in kind. I forced myself to be calm and explained again. I knew only of the broken arm because that was what Aoibheann had told me. He should understand how Aoibheann felt about hospitals. She did not understand, and saw only that Hadley was distressed, thinking that she was distressed by the hospital. Again, I repeated that the child was safe, and would be returned to them shortly. Again, I repeated that there was no need for any further harm. I felt Maric arrive beside me and he gave them greeting, also apologising for the misunderstanding and saying the child would be returned to them.

Alec seemed not to see him, fixing me with his icy glare, all predator now. If these were truly mistakes, then I should stand by my words. He told me to select one of my people, to bear the same pain and suffering that Hadley had. They would suffer as long as Hadley suffered, for our mistake and Aoibheann’s rashness. Only that would appease him. And, I was not to be the one. For if I tried to take that pain on myself, he would make everybody suffer.

Aoibheann appeared, and seemed to be about to apologise, until she saw the branch. Then she got angry, telling them that it was not theirs to take.

Gwyn joined us, standing by my side, away from Maric. Gwyneth addressed Aoibheann first, saying she was furious with her for what she had done and for putting us in this position. She was equally furious with Alec and Isabella for their reaction, and for their attack upon Ardan. Surely they knew how Aoibheann was, and how she feared hospitals. And now, she was in an untenable position, for they had violated this land, taken from our tree. She could not speak for the steward of this land, but to ask further tribute was an insult, as they already held their tribute, the branch from Ardan, in their hands.

Her words echoed my sentiments. I also said no, there would be no tribute. Aoibheann had already suffered much harm as a result of Alec’s mistakes with the Huntsman, harm had already been done to this land with the attack upon Ardan. There would be no tribute, there would be no further harm. The child would be returned and that would be an end to it.

I beat Maric to it by a whisker. Whatever he thought of Aoibheann’s actions, threats had been made in his domain, and I knew that would not be tolerated. He was lord here, he told them, and all threats directed here were directed to him. Threatening violence against his people was unacceptable. The child had suffered some pain, but he had treated that and now she rested peacefully. The child would be brought to them and that should be that. If they continued, if they tried to bring violence here, that would make them enemies. Surely, he said, this could be resolved without further bloodshed. Surely we should be concentrating on returning the child safely instead of arguing.

Alec smirked at us, as if he still relished the idea of unleashing pain, but instead, demanded that we bring the child. There was still a price, he said, and that would still be paid. At least, this time, he seemed to be referring to the branch.

We gained an unexpected ally. The form of Padishar floated down from somewhere, telling Alec and Isabella that they had no power here, that they could not walk into another man’s land and make demands. Gwyn and Aoibheann were too gentle with their words, he said, but he did not have to be. They had no rights here, and should take the child and leave. Though, if they wanted pain, they were welcome to try it on him. This idea seemed to amuse him.

As if that wasn’t enough, Dorina appeared from nowhere, offering herself as the tribute, apparently believing she owed us something. Alec looked as though he was tempted, but desisted, saying she was maybe the only true innocent here. He repeated his demand for the child to be brought to him. He would keep the branch and that would be an end of it.

Padishar was not to be so easily deflected, and there seemed to be some magical tussle between him and Isabella for the branch, and even an attack upon Alec until Maric told him to desist.

One of the servants brought Hadley out and handed her over to Isabella. More angry words were exchanged, and Aoibheann stormed off, probably to go to Ardan. Alec and Isabella started to fade away and depart by their own means. Maric, however, was not going to let it go. He cast some magic, effectively banishing Alec from this realm, before stalking off in search of Aoibheann.

Dorina burst into tears, perhaps realising how much danger she had almost put herself in, and ran off to her cottage.

Padishar departed in the direction of the lab, leaving Gwyn and I, still standing side by side.

Both of us were angry, confused, in pain and upset. It took a fair while for us to calm down enough to walk away from the aftermath of that confrontation. We could not even discuss it, for it was too painful, especially for Gwyn, now torn between her land and her promise to Isabella. All we could do was hold each other, long into the night.

There are scars now. Scars on the love I had for Isabella and Alec, scars on the land, scars on Gwyn. What peace there might have been between us and Alec and Isabella’s realm is gone, and the matter of the injury to Ardan remains unresolved. I do not know what, if anything, can be done. I wish I did. And then there is Aoibheann. How to explain to her that she should not be so rash in future? That, at least, I shall leave in Maric’s hands, unless he asks me otherwise.

 Stolen Child

 

 

When the Wind Blows

   Hush-a-by baby
On the tree top,
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall,
And down will fall baby
Cradle and all.

So mother used to sing to me as a baby, and later, to my brother, Gilbert. I suspect my memories of it are more from hearing her sing to Gilbert, as I could scarcely been old enough to remember it when I was a baby. Even so, the words, and the tune were as familiar and comforting as Mother’s voice, her touch and her scent.

And now, the words come back to me, in a somewhat bizarre fashion, and I can but hope that only the first half will be true. Those words have a much more personal meaning now. Especially the bit about the tree.

Gwyneth is no longer with child. Or, perhaps I should say, she is no longer carrying her children. Given what happened the first four times that Alexandra fell pregnant, I do not care for the former way of putting it. Our children are safe and well, at least, I have to trust that they are, but she no longer carries them.

I gave myself time away from my duties to head into faerie, revelling in the fact that I no longer had to request guidance from Royce or suffer the discomfort of making a portal. I took myself across to Ardan in the hope of finding my love there. She was not around at first, which gave me time to appreciate what Ardan had become. He seemed bigger, brighter, taller, and more alive than ever before. Perhaps he too revels in being once more in faerie. He had also acquired some decorations, though it was far from the Christmas season. Elaborate, crystal decorations, three in number. Two were green and one was purple. They hung high and bright in Ardan’s branches, so high that I had to fly up to see them properly. And when I did so, they seemed to pulse with light, almost as though they had some life of their own. Which, I learned shortly after, they did.

I returned to the ground and found Gwyn there. We took time to greet each others as lovers should, for it had been some while since we had managed time together. We spoke of the move, and of the possible risks of the villagers straying too far into faerie and what we could do about it. I apologised for missing the midsummer celebrations, explaining that I had gotten myself lost in the mists. Then, I asked about the decorations.

“They are our children,” she said, with a note of wonder in her voice. It had happened at midsummer, she told me. There had been a burst of magical energy, the crystals had appeared and she had felt different, no longer sick, no longer weary, and that presence in her own body gone. She did not entirely know what had happened. Perhaps Ardan had heard her heartfelt wish that she should not have to be pregnant, perhaps the fae magic heard her. She was not entirely sure, only that it had happened. Well, Janus had said it was possible.

She said that she thought it was perhaps two girls and one boy, that being the reason for the colour difference. I allowed that this was possible, but also suggested that possibly Seelie and Unseelie, which was also a possible reason, although unlikely, given the union of the courts. I told her then of my dream, of my meeting with Faermorn, and what she had told me. I didn’t tell her what passed at the end of that dream, but then, I am not entirely sure myself. Perhaps, I said, in light of what Faermorn had said, it was possible that the colour difference was because of there being two fathers. Perhaps one colour was my offspring and the other colour the offspring of Janus. It was as good an explanation as any other. Gwyn said she did not really care, although she probably should, at least, in time for the… birth, ripening, whatever. Of that, we had no idea. I commented that my old biology teacher at school, Doc Dennison, would have had a lot of trouble explaining this reproductive process. Not that he had been greatly keen on explaining that of mammals, much less humans, largely leaving us to fathom it out from a dissected rat. We neither of us knew how the children would be born, or when. We were not even sure that they would be born as babies, or older, maybe even fully grown. There were too many unknown factors – Gwyn’s accelerated progress into fae sexual maturity, her and Janus’ accelerated promotion to royalty, my unknown status as a living fae vampire… And then the mystery that is Ardan. All we could do was hope, and look forward to the birthing, whatever form that might take.

We spoke then of other things. We spoke of Aoibheann’s disappearances and what we could do about it. Gwyn pointed out a portion of the Summerland that she suspected was occupied by the Huntsman, or at least, the remnants of him, which might be one of the places that she would go. I marked that as a place to warn the villagers about, or at least those who were allowed to venture out of the village. We spoke also of the possible contents of the accords. We agreed that the rules we had previously agreed for the approved foragers would have to do for now. Conversation dwindled into topics important only to lovers then. I would have stayed, but I had things to do at the castle, and so we parted, reluctantly, until such time as we had more leisure for each other. Maybe even time at our cottage by the sea.

When the Wind Blows

Going Home

Time passes when there is much to do. Sometimes, it passes so quickly, I have barely enough time for my journal. Such as has been the last couple of weeks. Their Majesties, perhaps assisted by the roses, worked their magic, and we are gone from the Shadow Roads, and safely ensconced in one corner of the Summerlands, not too far from Ardan, but not too close either. I barely had time to warn Maric so that he could gather the villagers to safety in the cellars while the move took place.

The move was not without its problems. Maric’s laboratory was too firmly anchored to the hell-gate, and so part of the vaults did not make the move at the time. We lost Maric to the hell realms for a while as a result of this. Some time was spent in the Hell realms and much occurred there with Vedis and others. At least he managed to feed, possibly by drinking Vedis’ ‘bathwater’. I am not yet entirely clear what passed down there.

Aoibheann was lost for a while too. Apparently, the shade of Padishar decided she should spend time in the vaults too. Maric could not reach her through the link, especially while he was unconscious in the hell realms. I had to learn some location magic, using my blood and some of her hair from a hairbrush. Initially, I tried making a compass, but that was too coarse a tool, so then I tried making a scrying bowl, which directed me to the vaults.

All was resolved eventually, although the entrance to the vaults is now outside, through a secret door in the side of the castle by the orchards.

Oh yes, the orchards. Their Majesties, the roses, or the powers that control magic, whatever, seem to have a sense of humour, as the village is somewhat changed during the move. We now have an orchard behind the castle.

We made some more changes ourselves, now that we have room. Never have I felt more like my father than during the last few weeks. He would be so proud, and probably not a little amazed. I drew up plans and drawings, marshalled the guards and the villagers, and we built. Boy, did we build. More cottages for the villagers, a bigger tavern with plenty of rooms for guests, the town hall, a practice area for the guards, proper workshops for the smith and other artisans. We have room for pigs and sheep and chickens and gardens. One could scarce recognise the village now, but it is good. Even the Islanders seem to have settled in.

There have been less pleasant things. At Maric’s request, I took those that had passed away from the cold store and with Royce’s assistance, took them to the Shadow Roads and left them for Nemaine. Perhaps that will close matters between us. I said a farewell to them in my own way and left a note for Nemaine, to remind her, even if she doesn’t care, that these were people, with names, with families and friends. Perhaps it will mean something to her, but I doubt it. It meant something to me. These were my colleagues, brothers in arms and friends. They deserved better than to be a last meal. My hope is, wherever they are, they can take some satisfaction that this last sacrifice was of benefit to their lord, and the people they had sworn to protect.

There is still much to do, and I have yet to draw up a draft agreement between us and the fae as to expectations of behaviour and such like. Perhaps having such an agreement will ease Aoibheann’s fears concerning the fae, and their fears concerning us. I do not know how much power a piece of paper will have, but given the fae’s feelings about oath-breaking, perhaps it will have some sway.

For now, I can relax somewhat, trusting, for now, that we are free from Nemaine and her demands, and be happy that the villagers have space to live, thrive and survive. Pending the accords between us and the fae, I have instructed my deputy stewards to brief the villagers regarding relations with the fae, and asked that only those who were previously registered foragers should go beyond the perimeter of the village. It is still summer, so the darker fae are less active, but I would rather play safe than be sorry.

 Going Home

RIP A Very Talented Man

In tribute to Robin Williams, a very sad loss to us all. Posted here because, as those who have been reading for a while will know, this is one of Nathaniel’s favourite poems, which makes him think of a long lost friend.

RIP Robin, journey well, and may you find peace….

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            The arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.
(Walt Whitman)

Good Year for the Roses

I was the shy one at school, even with the extensive coaching in social skills from my mother. Being a ‘carrot-top’, to quote one of the kinder nicknames, was not a good start, and having advanced reading skills and a complete lack or interest in the more boisterous of outdoor activities didn’t exactly help. And so, I was hardly the most gregarious of boys, and even into adulthood, was always less than outgoing in social situations. I even trained as an accountant, in part, because numbers were easier to deal with than people. How then, did this shy, retiring accountant become a diplomat? How did I become emissary to the Royal Courts of the High Sidhe, other fae groups, and even a bunch of hematophagous roses?

Oh yes, the roses. As I wrote in a previous entry, the roses want to go home, back to Faerie. They aren’t the only ones. Everybody thinks it is a good idea – even the Fae Queen.

I was summoned by a will-o’-the-wisp, or, at least, one of the demi-fae creatures that appear as a tiny ball of light. For all that I am consort to the Fae Queen, I know very little of the taxonomy of the lesser fae beings. I should remedy that some day. Anyway, this one summoned me to the presence of Her Majesty. Not that I needed much persuasion, as it had been some time since I had been able to spend any time with Gwyn. Alas, this was to be more of a business meeting, although we did manage some personal time later.

The ‘wisp took me to one of the pretty pools that Gwyn has around her private royal residence, which seems to be separate from the ‘official’ royal residence. I guess that must be a bit like having a real birthday and an official one. I’ve never been entirely clear on this, but it makes sense, I guess. A queen presumably has to have somewhere to receive visitors, and somewhere she can be herself. For this meeting, however, we seemed to be in the private one, even though we – Aoibheann was there too – were there on official business. I suppose, since we were friends long before we became official representatives, that’s fair.

Gwyn told us that she had been talking to Aoibheann about the roses around the village shortly after Nemaine pulled her stunt on poor Tomas, and how she had sensed an excitement in them, and sensed their fae nature. Aoibheann echoed that, saying that Maric had told her that the roses would sing to him.

That was my cue. This was, after all, one of the things that I had been planning on discussing on behalf of Maric, but I had been waylaid by getting lost in the mists and dealing with dhampyrs. I told her how I had communed with the roses and how they had seemed very keen on the idea of moving to Faerie, plus, my impression that they had the means and power to do so, and take the village with them. I agreed that we could not live under Nemaine’s shadow much longer and that our options were limited. I doubted anybody wanted to shelter with the Sisterhood of the Void, which just left the Faerie realm, which seemed to be the most popular option.

So, I said, switching into formal mode, would Their Majesties be amenable to opening discussions on the matter of relocating the village of Mysthaven to some small corner of the Faerie realms, where we could live and thrive in peace? I naturally assumed that she could speak for both, at this stage anyway.

Gwyn had clearly been expecting this; indeed, it was the reason she had called us here, to have this very discussion. She was sure that that Janus would be amenable, knowing her fondness for the people of Mysthaven, and how she had protected them, led them to sanctuary etc before. She did, however, have some reservations, or warnings rather. These concerned the relations between mortals and the fae, and in particular, the effect that the land, and the fae, could have on mortals. She warned about the ‘sport’ that the fae could possibly make with mortals, emphasising in particular that the season was on the wane, and that those more inclined to the darker months of the year might have different ideas as to what constitutes ‘sport’. It was clearly a question that had been on Aoibheann’s mind, since she asked what we could do if trespasses occurred, and what we should do when the darker fae became more active in the winter.

I was less concerned. As I pointed out, we would not be in a significantly different situation than we were when the village sat atop the hill between the Seelie and Unseelie lands. The same problems existed then, when villagers strayed too far from the hill. This was why I had made arrangements with Saone and Faermorn to have an approved list of foragers, who were allowed to go into those lands in search of food etc, and why those foragers had been trained in the possible pitfalls of dealing with the fae. I saw no problem in extending that training. Thinking on my feet, I proposed that we could establish some designated borders. We could then negotiate and establish standards of behaviour – what would be expected of mortals in fae lands and what would be expected of fae visiting the village. Further, we could establish means of dealing with cases where those standards were breached and determining appropriate remedy and punishment – on both sides. I also had a thought of some buffer zones or social gatherings, places where humans and fae could get used to each other. My emphasis was on education, making sure that those who ventured into the others’ lands did so with full knowledge of the possible consequences.

I had to also admit that we could only do so much. If somebody from the village, despite all the warnings and training, decided to go cavorting with one of the fae, partaking of faerie mead etc, then there wasn’t a lot we could do about it. Human, and fae, natures being what they were, there were always going to be those who would ignore the warnings and engage in foolish and risky behaviour. I did not mention Tomas, and his unfortunate demise in the Shadow Roads, but that was very much in my mind.

Gwyn thanked me for my ‘cool-headed’ approach, and agreed that this was the best way to proceed. She especially liked the idea of the buffer zones. She said that she would do her best to educate her people about the difference between sport and malicious trickery, and particularly, that consent should be obtained. She also offered to assist in the education of the villagers. She thought for a moment and seemed to come to some conclusions. She would, she said, speak to Janus that evening, and if he was amenable to the plan, and she was sure he would be, she would begin the preparations to move the village. Given that we had suffered one death already, she was keen to move as soon as possible, before the villagers got too frustrated by their confinement. Also, she quicker we moved, the more time we would have to get used to our new situation before the darker days started setting in. She would, of course, make sure that everybody understood that the villagers were the guests and friends of the Court, and that harmful actions would have consequences. She asked if I could provide a census of the village, so that she had some idea of numbers etc.

Aoibheann, bless her, was less than convinced, and I cannot say that I blame her. She thought that I was too trusting, and while she said that she trusted Gwyn, she was less sure that we could trust that fae would have respect for the laws when the punishment for breaches would be administered by the fae, especially when their actions were not criminal in their realm. Could we be sure that, say, a particularly pleasant fae would be punished appropriately, or would I suitably punish somebody on our side if they were somebody I was fond of. She mentioned the problem about the fae regarding anybody who wasn’t sworn to one or other court was fair game. She also reminded us that we had survived the sluagh, that we had survived the Shadow Roads, so the protection of the courts would have to be effective, because we were not incapable of protecting ourselves.

Her points were good, and I agreed with her, as did Gwyn, that we were not easy prey. I said that I hadn’t wanted to get into details at this point, but said that I imagined some sort of judging panel or tribunal, made up of representatives from each side – Maric or myself, plus a couple of selected villagers, with Gwyn or Janus, plus a couple of non-royal fae, said panel between them overseeing all problems and ensuring that appropriate remedies were applied. Such things would take a little time, but for now, we had to proceed on the basis of mutual trust, else we would get nowhere. I told Gwyn that I needed to update my census to account for Tomas’ recent demise, and add in those former residents from Vedis’ island. Having mentioned them, I suddenly thought to ask after Horace.

That got a bit of a reaction from Gwyn. She had forgotten about Horace. She said that he had somehow managed to get transported to another realm, the one she sometimes went to, and had forgotten about offering to help him return here. She had mentioned this realm before, and that it was more in her original era of the 21st century, but I had thus far not been there with her. Given that said place was in my future, I was more reluctant to travel there, for fear of creating paradox. She acknowledged Aoibheann’s concerns and said that she would do her best to avoid problems. After that, she said she had much work to do, and would need to work with the other fae. We were welcome to remain here by the pool if we wished, and specifically asked me to remain and spend the night with her later, as she would be weary and need comfort.

Aoibheann decided she would go and spend the time with Ardan. I had no objection to staying, and told Gwyn I had brought a bottle of wine. Then I suddenly realised that she was not drinking any more, because of the pregnancy, and apologised for not having brought goat’s milk or grape juice. Her reaction to that was quite odd. She gasped and then said that there was something else she needed to tell me later. I was to remind her in the morning and then she would show me the power and wonder of the Summerlands. It was not a bad thing, she said, but I might find it odd. I was intrigued, especially when she said she would be happy to share the bottle with me later, but she would say no more of it. She kissed me and then departed. There was much magic to be wrought, or at least, prepared.

When she returned much much later, she was indeed weary and in need of comfort. She would not speak further of her efforts and I did not press her. What she needed was my arms around her and I would not deny her that.

Good Year for the Roses

A Ghost Returns

A Ghost Returns

As if things were not bad enough, with the spirit of Vedis occupying the walls of the laboratory, we now have another visitor – the ghost of the one known as Padishar – vampire, demon, and now, apparently, a ghost. Nothing is ever simple in this land.

I had been down in the vaults, dealing with Dorina. The guards had summoned me after she had apparently been muttering about blood and asking about her dagger. This was the one she had been holding when Vasily and Mirko arrested her, which they had brought to me for safe-keeping. I went down to see how she was and to assure her that the dagger was quite safe. I had things to discuss with her, but we were interrupted by the arrival of Aoibheann with one of the other guards, Vasily, claiming she was lost. Some day, I shall have to work out how she is getting past the candle sconce. She can’t be borrowing Kustav every time she gets down here. Vasily had found her in the corridors and brought her to me to see what she wanted. She promptly demonstrated her ability to jump to entirely the wrong conclusion from a standing start, wailing that I couldn’t lock somebody up just for getting lost.

It took me a moment to work out what she meant. Admittedly, I was standing by a cell, and I did have somebody locked in it, but even with my long experience of Aoibheann logic, it took a moment to see things from her point of view. I assured her that this was not going to happen; else I would be having to lock myself up a lot of the time, and asked what she wanted.

She stuck with her being lost story, claiming she wanted to see Maric. When she asked about Dorina, I told here that Dorina was in custody for her own safety. Her response left me baffled, even for Aoibheann – asking if Jesus wanted to kill all the vampires. I have no idea where she got that from. I don’t know of anybody in the village who is particularly religious, or would have filled her head with such ideas.

I didn’t get a chance to follow the question up because Dorina had started to ask me something, but before I could answer, her eyes started to change, and her hair started to go white. I could see she was struggling with the beast, and that the beast was winning. I called up my powers and tried to reach the Dorina side of her nature, to command her to stay with us. I partly got her attention, but the other side was still winning, and she started talking in Gaelic, Irish presumably. I did try to persuade Aoibheann to leave us, but she would not. Apparently, it seems that there is enough similarity between the Irish and the Scots for them to understand each other, because Aoibheann started talking back to her. What she was saying, I didn’t know, but it was getting Dorina’s attention.

Maric turned up at this point, making brief greeting to us before turning attention to Dorina, greeting her in her own tongue and asking if she had some other name. I knew this because he was translating for me on the fly, rather than me suddenly developing a knack for languages

Aoibheann started speaking as well, but the only bit I understood was something about her being Scottish, at least, I think that was what Albannach meant. Dorina, meanwhile, reacted to Maric, but seemed confused, calling him Lorcan and asking how he could have forgotten, before sinking into a helpless silence. Her eyes and hair were almost completely gone to the beast, but she was still trying, tears being forced out. I silently advised Maric about Lorcan being Dorina’s father and how he used to help her control the beast. He thanked me for that and asked for my suggestions as to how to help control her. I said that I had previously offered my blood, and that since she seemed to trust me, she might still accept my offer.

He agreed that this was probably the best option, so I asked if he could translate for me, thinking the words at him, and him telling me how to say that in old Irish. Just then, there was a feeling of disturbance in the castle sense. Maric seemed to be receiving a message from somewhere, since he bade us hurry and be on our guard because a dark ghost had entered the castle.

He continued to translate for me, as I spoke to Dorina. I was most likely mangling the pronunciation horribly, but she seemed to understand. Meanwhile, I was aware of the guards forming up, preparing to deal with this new problem, no doubt under Maric’s direction. I spoke to Dorina gently, reminding her who I was, and offering to let her feed, in order to help control her beast. She seemed to understand, as she withdrew her attention from Maric and took my offered wrist, saying, from what Maric translated for me, that she would feed. She bit, quite hard, but fortunately, I was ready to harden my skin if necessary. She drank, long and deep, and I could feel the hunger of her beast, and while I could not yet touch her mind, I could at least feel the rational side, that which I knew as Dorina, returning, slowly. She opened her eyes, looked at what she was doing and looked shocked, asking, with expletives, what she had done.

Maric told her that she had been weakened by her condition and that how I had helped her recover, saying that we would still look for a longer-term solution. He was clearly distracted, presumably by some other mental conversation he was having with those of the guards who were dealing with the ghost. I told Dorina that the beast had gained control and that I had sated it, for now, by letting it feed from me. I explained that my blood may possibly help her with the control, but we would have to work together on it later. At Aoibheann’s prompting, I lent her a hanky to clean up her face and sent Tihomir, the guard who had been on duty when it all started, to take her to one of the cottages and make sure she had everything she needed to get cleaned up etc.

Meanwhile, Maric had warned Aoibheann to be on her guard, because of the ghost. He said that it was supposedly a minion of Vedis’ and was probably safe, but to be wary just in case. When I enquired mentally, he told me that it was apparently somebody called Padishar. That did surprise me, and so I quickly told him what I knew of that worthy, both what I knew from personal experience and what I had learned from the story Valene told Aoibheann and I that evening some while ago. He seemed pleased with that information, thinking it may well help him in any dealings he had with said ghost. He bade me keep Aoibheann and Dorina safe while he went to speak to Padishar and left us. Aoibheann was a little reluctant to go at first, claiming that Maric had said it was probably safe, but I pointed out that it was a minion of Vedis, so maybe we didn’t want to be around, just in case. That much, she was happy to agree with, and so we left for the more comfortable parts of the castle.

Dorina went off to the cottage she had been using to clean up. I advised the guards to keep an eye on her just in case. Aoibheann disappeared off to do her own thing, and I busied myself in the library. I have a dhampyr to care for, and I have no idea how.

A Ghost Returns

 

[OOC] Catching up

My apologies for the lack of updates lately – RL has been kicking my ass. I am trying to catch up, so there will be quite a few entries that a month removed from the date they occurred. The last entry took place about a month ago, to give you some idea of timeline. I hope I will be able to catch up soon.