The Faerie Gift

((catchup post – original RP 29 Oct 14))

I would have thought, by now, that I would have become used to dealing with the fae, and in particular, the traps and pitfalls regarding gifts and gratitude. And yes, I still slip up. And now, for my sins, I appear to have a fae servant. Or possibly Maric does. Or possibly even the village. It’s somewhat hard to tell at the moment.

Her name is Adiya. She presented herself at the gates, wishing to speak with Maric, but since he was unavailable, the guards brought her to me.  Her manner was strange, for a fae, which is saying something. She was deferential, almost subservient. She even knelt to deliver her greeting. She told me that her mistress, who was a minor noble of the Summer Court, had heard of the troubles plaguing our people and wished to offer a token so that my Lord might be open to discussing these issues with her mistress.

I tried to get her to take a seat, but she would not, responding as though she was not allowed to sit on furniture. I told her that I was authorised to speak on all matters on behalf of Lord Maric and asked her name and her mistress’ name. She could not say more unless the gift was accepted. I was curious, because, for all that I spend time with Gwyn; I haven’t really met many of her court. I was wary of the offer of a gift, knowing only too well the traps and pitfalls and obligations involved. I even said as such and phrased my answer in the conditional, noting that if the discussions requested were the full extent of the obligations then I felt sure that we could see our way to accepting the gift.

Unfortunately, the conditional was not conditional enough, and she took my periphrasis as acceptance. Her mistress would be delighted that we had accepted her gift, nevertheless, while she accepted I was authorised to speak on behalf of Maric, she could only speak with him. She then took a step back, knelt, and announced that she, Adiya, was the gift, and then just sat there, utterly subservient at my feet.

I swore; for some reason the Russian word for shit came to mind. Come to think of it, the only words I know in Russian are swear words, thanks to Dimitri, one of the deck hands on the Odiham Castle. Part of me wondered if this was some kind of prank, perpetrated by somebody who knew my aversion to subservience. I bade her stand up and asked her to divulge the name of her mistress, and if she could not speak directly of the business she wished with Maric, could she at least give me the nature of the business so that I might be able to properly brief and advise him.

She stood, albeit reluctantly and said that her mistress had not given her leave to speak her name to me, but she would if I so commanded. The matter that concerned her mistress was the darkness that had awakened and walked about the land, a darkness that even the Royals feared. She sought Lord Maric’s assistance to combat it. She seemed to think that my relationship with the Queen would have given me a special insight into these problems.

I don’t know about my relationship with Gwyn, but I knew of various problems, so I related what I knew of the shadow of the former summer king, the remnants of the winter king, the problems with the huntsmen and the problem with the stolen limb of Ardan. I asked if I had left anything out, but she laughed and said I seemed well apprised of the situation. She would not say further what her mistress’s concerns were until she had been given leave to do so as this was merely an introduction to open discussions.

We were interrupted by the arrival of my beloved Gwyneth, who had evidently charmed her way past the guards. Normally I would have remonstrated with her about that, but it had been such a long time since I had seen her that I didn’t really care. I kissed her and told her how much I had missed her and had feared the season was keeping her from me. She admitted that the season was making it harder for her to leave her bower, but she had needed to see me.

I introduced Adiya, who immediately became even more subservient, which I hadn’t thought possible, but then, she was in the presence of her queen. Gwyneth didn’t seem to know her, but, in true queenly fashion, didn’t let it show, greeting her warmly and, like me, tried to encourage her to get off her knees. This she did reluctantly, and was clearly keen to leave us alone. I wasn’t going to get anything more useful from her anyway, and had my own reasons for wanting to be alone with Gwyn, so I dismissed her. What passed after that is not for anybody’s eyes but my own.

 

Two Hunters

((catch-up post – original RP 27 oct 14))

The mist brings us yet another visitor. This time, a travelling elf by the name of Ivoron. At least, he would seem to be elven, judging by appearances, even if I know those to be unreliable. He seems amiable enough, but I fear he might have a hard time adjusting to our somewhat eclectic populace, in particular, those of the demonic persuasion.

I had been talking with Wren outside the tavern , about poetry and Homer’s Odyssey, but the conversation then turned to the matter of Aoibheann’s sanity and how this was affected by the presence of the Huntsman in her. I explained about the idea of making a vessel for the Huntsman, much as we had made a vessel for Vedis’ memories before. The problem with that, as we both recognised it, was persuading him to leave Aoibheann, and, come to that, persuading Aoibheann to let him go. There was another problem, of course – what to do then with two Huntsmen. I did briefly wonder of the, for want of a better way of putting it, laws of nature could even allow two Huntsmen to exist. We also wondered if the Huntsman would be saner than he had been, without the influence of Llwyd.

Our visitor arrived, looking somewhat lost. I gave him the usual welcome, asking his name and pointing out where he could find the rules and such like. He seemed a little on edge, asking if we knew of a person called Heydr, but relaxed when we assured him that we did not. I could only assume that he had some problem with the person concerned, or was perhaps being pursued by him. I noted that for something I would need to ask him about later, in case said pursuer could present a danger to the town.

I suggested that we retire to the tavern for refreshment. I included Galyanna in this invitation, as she suddenly appeared out of the shadows. She asked about the Huntsman situation, since she had overheard part of the conversation, so I explained that.  Ivoron seemed somewhat alarmed by her, so I introduced her as a warrior and friend. Wren introduced her as a ninja, which phrase he clearly didn’t understand. Galyanna then introduced herself as the Talon of Queen Vedis. While she didn’t explicitly explain her demon nature, perhaps Ivoron understood the term, for he withdrew from us, giving the impression he would rather sleep outside than associate with demons. I did not get the chance to speak with him further, as I had other duties to attend to. Even if I had had the time to explain, I am not sure he would have understood. How do you explain, to somebody who has not lived through the times we have, how I count a demon among my closest friends and as somebody I would trust my life to? I’m not sure I know myself.

Wolves In The Throne Room – I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots (from an album called Two Hunters)

 

Double Edged Sword

 ((Original RP 26 Oct 2014 – this is a catch-up post))

 

I have never considered myself a powerful person. Oh, Mother would try to convince me that I was; that I had power over the bullies by denying them the reaction they wanted, and perhaps I did, but I never considered that as being powerful. Power is not something I have ever sought, save that now I find it necessary in order to defend my people. Certainly it is not something I have ever sought for its own sake. Power, like magic, is a two-edged sword. I know this, I have always known this, and I have often spoken of this to Aoibheann, to Wren, to Hadley and others when discussing the use of magic.

Today I had more lessons with Maric, in which he taught me more of the healing powers of the blood magic. And there, I found yet another way in which such power can be two-edged.

I had been taking afternoon tea in the main hall. Some very English habits take a long time to die, and taking a break from my labours for a pot of tea is one of them. Maric turned up and joined me, though he declined the tea in favour of a glass of wine. He was carrying one of the roses, a rather sad-looking specimen and looking at it thoughtfully.  We chatted for a while and I told him about Aoibheann’s current obsession, for chocolate mead.  He nodded and looked at the rose again and passed it over to me. That would probably explain the rose, he said. It was not well, so I pricked my thumb and allowed it to feed on my blood. It seems that Aoibheann’s desire for chocolate mead had led to some well-intentioned, but misjudged experimentation. This in turn, had brought about the demise of some roses and a few bees, which she had been trying to feed on milk and chocolate.  Maric was sure that chocolate mead was possible, but doubted that Aoibheann’s approach was the best way.

We spoke a while about the plans to rid her of the Huntsman’s spirit. He had not yet had the chance to visit with Janus to see what could be done there. I speculated that we might be able to tempt him out by providing some new vessel, much as he had for Vedis’ memories. He was not overly thrilled with that prospect, although he agreed it might be the best idea. It would not be easy, as Aoibheann might be reluctant to give him up, and the Huntsman in turn might be reluctant to leave her. I opined that he might be more reasonable without Llwyd’s influence. The new Huntsman seemed more open to reason than the last, more in tune with his original purpose, so maybe the old one would be more as he should be, as he had been before Llwyd. We moved on to speak of the shard that still invested the castle, but neither of us had much idea of what to do as yet.

He had other questions, but felt they were better addressed in the privacy of my office. It was time for further lessons, he told me, and another exchange of blood. He had concerns, though, for he was still not used to my fae nature, nor did he have much experience of the wyld magic, and did not know how they would interact. Nevertheless, we should continue with my education. What, he asked, did I wish to learn of blood magic. I avowed that I did not really know, since I was unfamiliar with what the possibilities were and suggested that perhaps he could guide me and teach me what he felt was best.

We decided on healing. There were other things – tracking and finding people, and my use of the castle senses, but healing seemed to be the best place to start. He offered his wrist, but first, wanted to know what had caused the most recent increase in my wyld powers.

I told him of the incident with Horace and Gwrgi, and how I had helped Valene with the healing and transformation of Gwrgi and the energy I had received from the wyld wellspring. I told him also of the increasing effects I was feeling from the wintery side of the wyld, perhaps the lingering influence of Gwythyr. I told him of the incident with Dorina and the dreams she had shared with me and my momentary loss of control.

This troubled him, but he trusted that I would be able to contain such things. It was to be expected as I grew in power, and it was something he would try to help me with, controlling those darker urges. He offered me his wrist then, and after checking that his flesh was soft enough, I bit, and fed.

As ever, it is hard to describe the flow of feelings, energies and knowledge that happen during that feeding. I lack the words, for it is something outside my experience. During that feeding, parts of our minds merged, and he left me with the knowledge of how to use the blood to shape, to change, to transform and to heal the flesh, mend the bones, to close wounds and much more.

It was somewhat overwhelming, and with it came a chilling thought. Could this be reversed, I asked. If I could transform flesh to heal, could I also do so to harm? Could I damage or kill, or transform somebody else into, say, a bat, just as I could transform myself.

He appreciated the question. Yes it was possible, and he had done so on the battlefield, pulling the blood from his enemies to incapacitate them. It was a power he used lightly, he said, and only when absolutely necessary, when there was no other alternative. He said that he could only teach me these things because he knew I had made the choice; that I had chosen not to be the monster I could be; that I had chosen to do good rather than do ill.

I told him then that I had always known power to be two-edged, from the mundane power I had over the lesser ranks onboard ship through the magic and powers I now possessed. That is what I had been trying to impress on Wren and Hadley with their magic powers. As for choosing to not be a monster, that came from Mother, I told him, when teaching me how to deal with the bullies, and then later, when I had grown taller, how to not be like them.

That seemed to please him, as if his assessment of me had been correct. He then fed from me, but in a new way, a simple touch of the tip of his tongue to my wrist, enough to raise a couple of drops of blood and no more. Even so, that was enough to provoke an intense reaction. He sat, rigidly in his chair, gripping the arms so hard I thought he might break them. For a few minutes, he seemed to not dare look at me, nor even speak. I suppose I should have expected that, given his craving for the fae side of me. Sure enough, once he could speak again, he said that as he had suspected, there was more power there and his cravings had increased. However, he felt sure he could find a way to control this, and think of something to help me conquer my darker side.

We would have spoken more, but I felt something through the link, something second-hand, as though he were sensing something from Aoibheann. This was confirmed when he rose quickly and said he needed to attend his lady. With that, he disappeared off outside somewhere. I remained where I was, having sensed that it was not anything particularly dangerous and instead, spent some time trying to integrate this new knowledge and power. Find a willing subject, he had said, to practice on. I suppose I could wait until one of the guards injures themselves in practice or something. Even so, it is a scary concept, reaching out to reshape, to heal, when, with just a misplaced thought, I could do harm instead. But, as with all the powers I have gained it is something I have to deal with.

 

Double-edged Sword

 

Chocolate Mead

It seems that I have not been the only one affected by the fae wellspring. Aoibheann has also got horns now. Rather fetching ones, they are, almost like tree limbs. She is not happy about this, which is only to be expected, but she is defensive too, arguing that they are prettier than mine. I don’t quite know how it happened, but it has, and I doubt she will ever tell me.

I had been down in the lab, trying to work out what I could do about the sword shard, when one of the guards reported there was some screaming going on. When I got back to the castle, I found Wren and Aoibheann there, the latter wearing the aforementioned horns. My first reaction was to say “You too?” and demonstrated that I had some too. She took offence, of course, claiming that they were not a fashion statement, and anyway, hers were prettier, which I could not dispute.

We managed to get up to the breakfast table and ordered bread rolls, honey etc. Aoibheann was going on about wanting chocolate mead, and seemed to think that it could be obtained by feeding bees with chocolate and then making mead from their honey. I opined that this would not work, although I suspected that such a thing could be made by using chocolate as well as honey in the brewing process. In the meantime, I said, we could put some mead in hot chocolate, which might be an acceptable substitute. I asked the servants to bring us hot chocolate and a bottle of mead.

I explained that I hadn’t been trying to one-up her on the matter of the horns, just that it was something that seemed to be happening.  I told her the circumstances by which I had gained the horns, during the healing of Gwrgi. Sadly, that set her off again, for not having told her that Gwrgi was alive. She calmed down a little when I said that I had not seen her since. Wren backed me up on this by commenting that Aoibheann had been missing.

What she did say that was interesting was something about the Huntsman’s influence leaving Gwrgi when he was dying. That would explain Gwrgi’s behaviour and all the “she’s mine” stuff. She also said something about him now being able to be free, but that he might want to kill her. I was intrigued by this, but felt it better to leave it for a minute. The servants brought breakfast up, including the mead, which seemed a bit decadent for breakfast.

We sat and ate and Wren asked why people were chasing Aoibheann and why they would want to kill her. A question I would also have asked, but Wren, in her innocence, perhaps framed it better.

The explanation was somewhat confusing and rambling, taking in Horace’s adventures, Llwyd’s madness, Gwrgi’s mad desire to kill.  Aoibheann admitted that Gwrgi hated her for something she had, and Llwyd wanted to kill her because she had something she wanted. She didn’t say outright that it was the essence of the Huntsman, but I knew that already.

Gwrgi was looking for something at the wellspring, and Ardan had sent Horace to stop him, because something dark was lying in wait there, which was Llwyd. Horace, however, shot Gwrgi, which, it seemed was the point at which the Huntsman was forced out of him. He also apparently shot Llwyd, but that didn’t seem to slow him down. Quite how Horace survived was not entirely clear, but I must have come in, finding Valene, soon after this happened. Aoibheann was worried that Horace’s mission with regard to Faermorn had become an obsession. I was able to confirm from my own experiences with Faermorn that she did indeed wish to return, opining that perhaps she wished to be what she had been before she became queen. She was also concerned that Horace was not rational, as he seemed intent on destroying everything. I had my own opinions on that, but offered only that I would speak to Dyisi to see if she could rein him in, and if not, I would have to place him in custody should he return to the village, so that he could not inflame any more problems between us and faerie.

Llwyd, now there was a different problem, since he was quite clearly beyond the reach of sanity. I expressed the hope that perhaps the new Huntsman would catch up with him and that would settle the matter. I also said that this should be something that was a fae matter and that I hoped to meet with Janus and Gwyn soon to see if there was some way we could resolve the matter. I suggested that Aoibheann should stay within the village for now, which Wren agreed with, being worried that Aoibheann might come to harm. This was possibly the wrong thing to say, as Aoibheann yelled at us for saying she was going to die and promptly stormed off in the direction of her room. Not that this is unusual for her lately. I love her dearly, but lately, it seems I can do nothing right with her.

I explained a little more about Faermorn’s situation to Wren, remembering the tale that Valene had told, and what I suspected that Faermorn wanted. I would have told her more about it, but I was already late for my meeting with the staff, so I had to leave her to it.

Chocolate mead? I don’t know where she got that idea. The chocolate part must surely have come later, from being in Jasper Cove, because she could not have come across it before then, unless the Scotland she knew in her time had contact with South America, which is unlikely. But then, the Scotland she knew also had dragons, so anything is possible.

 

[OOC] Catching up

Real life, screwed up sleep patterns and occasional anxiety attacks provoked by the sight of a blank Word document have kept me away from recording Nathaniel’s diary.

I am trying to catch up, but please bear with me while I do so.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your patience.

Nathaniel’s typist

 

Shards

Nothing, it seems, is ever really gone from us. The old Huntsman and the old Unseelie King still plague us, in spirit, if not in person. I do not yet know what we can do about either.

I went down to the training area, where I found Galyanna practicing with more than her usual ferocity. The sword destroying the targets and, it seemed, carrying some corruption, since what was left of the targets fell quickly to decay. She greeted me in her normal fashion and told me that the shard had disappeared that way, pointing to the wall of the castle by the weapons racks.

I did not know what she meant, so asked her – what shard was this?

She hesitated for a moment and then told me the story, a story that began back in London. Padishar had come to their home, having been attacked by Gwythyr. There was a shard of a sword still embedded in him and it was corrupting and consuming him from inside. She had performed an extraction to save Padishar. Since corruption was her specialist power, she kept the shard to study it. She had had it since then, thinking it contained and secure, but something here, something had resonated with it and woken it from dormancy, and it had escaped from her and burrowed into the walls of the castle. She had intended no harm, she said, and had repeatedly tried to destroy it.

I moved to where the shard had entered the stonework. There was a wound, blackened and glassy. I scratched at it with a loose stone lying around, and then, gently, carefully, placed my hand on the stone nearby and opened myself to the castle senses. I moved carefully, expanding my sense slowly, ready to draw back at the first sign of trouble. I was reminded of chemistry lessons at school, where we had been taught to smell things by opening bottles and wafting air towards us above the opening, rather than sticking our noses in and taking a deep breath. Even that cautious approach was not cautious enough, for I sensed, smelled, and tasted the very nature of Gwythyr himself, his unmistakable taint and chill. I stepped away sharply, shaking my hand as if I had spilled something highly unpleasant on it, wiping it on the grass even, anything to wipe away that sensation. I don’t know quite what I said, other than I swore like a trooper. The taint was definitely there in the stonework, and I was able to trace it back to the vaults. There, I could not trace it further, since it seemed to have come to rest somewhere close to the discontinuity, that place where the fabric of the castle was somewhat disjointed through some unknown dimension. That discontinuity being the result of us moving the castle back to the faerie realms while part of the vaults was still connected to Hell.

I advised Galyanna of my findings and assured her that I attached no blame to her. So far as I was concerned, it was all down to the bastard former king. As I was talking, I realised I had not seen her since the demise of Vedis and offered my condolences. I said I would have offered a hug, but understood that was not her thing. She seemed quite stoic about it, as I would expect, saying she would not be deterred, even by Lucifer himself, and would burn heaven itself to the ground to bring her back. She then moved on to ask about training and about working with Kitori.

I told her I was fine with her continuing the training in our training area, but given what she was doing to the targets, asked if she could perhaps provide her own. I asked about Kitori and she assured me that Kitori would obey her, and thus, would obey the law within Mysthaven.

I said I would need to go and investigate further in the vaults and asked if there was anything else I could do for her. She asked only that I would take care of the children. I told her they were always in my care, as if they were my own children. She said they were family to her too, as Vedis had claimed them as nieces. I wondered about that for a moment, as I had some doubts about Vedis’ relationship to Alec, but let it pass.

I left her then and went to the vaults, trying to trace the shard further. I had the rough location, but it was difficult to tell, almost as if it was trying to hide from me. Plus, it was an unpleasant experience, letting myself be open to his bastardness’ influence again. I was about to give up when Maric contacted me through the link. He relayed the news that Janus had said that the girls, Hadley and Wren would some day have to choose their allegiance, to the Seelie or Unseelie Courts. I suggested that this might be a while off yet, as they were not of an age, and anyway, at the moment, Wren was not yet ready to acknowledge her fae heritage. I then updated him on the matter of the shard and what I had learned so far. He seemed annoyed by this, and much perturbed. He was already perturbed by the situation with Aoibheann. He was worried that somehow, the Huntsman had his influence on her somehow, and he was trying to persuade her to go with him to Janus to see if they could sort it out. He asked me to join him in his chambers as soon as I was able.

I wasn’t getting anywhere chasing the shard, so I headed over to his chambers. Aoibheann was there with him, looking a little uncomfortable or possibly a little self-conscious maybe because of being in Maric’s room with me there too. Maric offered wine and we spoke of the accords and the village defences. Aoibheann was not entirely convinced about the accords, since only Janus and Gwyn were party to them. At least I was able to tell her that the minor courts were sworn to Janus, so he would answer for them. I told her he had given me a list of the other courts, so that I would be able to open negotiations with them, such as they were. Meanwhile, Maric was asking me through the link to sense Aoibheann, to see if I could tell if there was any Huntsman influence. I tried, but it was hard, what with the taint of Gwythyr on me still, from sensing the shard. I told Maric that something was definitely odd, but couldn’t tell exactly what.

I mentioned that I had offered to include the new Huntsman in the accords, if he so wished, which got an odd reaction from Aoibheann. She had been talking about the guards on the perimeter and how they should be challenging visitors. Maric asked if Llwyd should be on that list. Aoibheann was not convinced that the Huntsman would be interested, and that it could be a bad idea. I admitted it was tricky, since he was part of the fae hierarchy. I moved on to talk about re-educating the populace on fae behaviour and how to deal with them, so that we could avoid some of the more likely issues, and suggested that a refresher on dealing with the Huntsman would be in order.

I also brought up the idea of having a system of flags to advise the villagers of the expected state of readiness. This would be intended as a general status rather than a specific alert, e.g. if the amber flag was flying, people should be a little more cautious. It did not mean there was an actual alert, so much as a warning that situations were such that there could be – e.g. around full moon, when the Huntsman was more likely to be on the prowl. Maric liked the idea, but it took some explaining to get Aoibheann to appreciate the concept.

I noticed she had avoided Maric’s question about Llwyd, and so had he, for he asked it again. She merely answered in the affirmative and made some comment about him being different. I asked what she meant by that, and, having had a few moments to gather myself, opened my fae senses to her again. This time, I could definitely sense the Huntsman within her. I explained this to Maric through the link, and further explained how Llwyd had once been joined with the Huntsman and maybe that was why he pursued her, to get it back. I finally realised what had been meant when Aoibheann had said yes to the Huntsman’s request about a home. I explained this to Maric and said that it was unlikely that Aoibheann would assist in getting him out of her, as she had agreed to it. Naturally, he was very annoyed by this and wondered how we could get rid of it. The only thing I could think of was talking to Janus. He would have the most experience of the Huntsman. The other thing I thought was that perhaps we could make another vessel for him – such as he had done for Vedis’ memories – and somehow get him into that and out of Aoibheann. This was possible, he agreed, but like me, was not sure how we could tempt the Huntsman out of his ‘home’. He needed to speak to Aoibheann, and somehow persuade her to go with him to Janus. He noticed that she was a little riled by me at present and suggested that I leave, so that she might better listen to him.

I had no problem with that. I finished my wine and made my excuses, claiming I had a headache, and left them to it. I wanted out of there anyway, needing time to settle myself, and somehow cleanse myself of the taint of Gwythyr. I was not sure how, but I returned to my room and took a bath. That, and the relaxation helped somewhat, but I am still perturbed by the taint being in the fabric of the castle.

 

Shards

Signed, sealed, delivered

The Accords are finally agreed. And, as soon as I make a fresh, final copy, they will be signed and sealed.  Something else was sealed too. Something that Gwyn once thought erroneously of me, when she first knew me, but now, is no longer erroneous. What began with confused feelings concerning a young economics student in London came to fruition in the arms of the Unseelie King. I am now a lover of men as well as women. Such a thing would have seemed unthinkable, illegal, even, in my old life, before I became what I am. Yet, for all that the society that I grew up in would have me think otherwise, I feel no shame in setting that thought down. If future generations ever read this diary, perhaps they will wonder that this is was even an issue. I know from what Gwyn has told me that such a thing is considered acceptable and normal in her time. So, I shall not worry about it in this time, whenever this is.

Maric contacted me though our link, as I was waking, and asked if I might set up a meeting with Their Majesties, Gwyneth and Janus, to discuss the accords and get them sorted out. I updated him quickly, on Aoibheann’s request to deliver a letter to Their Majesties, on the ‘curing’of Gwrgi, the bad dreams people had been having in the aftermath of Vedis’ passing and such like. He told me that he could sense the Huntsman on Aoibheann, somehow. Not the one who had visited us recently, but the old one, the one with the obsession about his little lost rabbit. He was hoping to persuade Aoibheann to go along with him to meet with Janus to see if there was anything that could be done about that. He was also concerned about the reappearance of Llwyd and the possible effect that might have on power in the faerie realms. This was why he wanted to get the accords sorted.

Some time later, I took myself to Ardan, where a demi-fae advised me that Janus would meet with us there. Gwyneth, it seems, is in repose for the winter season. That, I found distressing, but, I have to accept that this is a consequence of her nature, much as I miss her presence, and more. I advised Maric of this meeting and sat to wait. Maric told me that he had spoken with Aoibheann and that he could sense the presence of the Huntsman in her. He would be there shortly. He seemed worried that I was in over my head, being alone with the King, but I assured him I was not in fear. I was consort to the Queen, and he was lover to my lover, so I was no further in over my head than I ever was.

Janus appeared from the tree, greeting me formally, but with some familiarity, as he played with a lock of my hair. The heat and sensuality that surrounds him seemed stronger than ever, and almost distracted me from my formal reasons for being there.

I took a moment to regain my resolve and greeted him in turn, stating my business. I took the opportunity to apprise him of the suggested amendment that Maric had made, concerning the tribunal. Janus took offence at first, saying it was rude to start the discussions without the other party. I explained that the amendment had come up as a result of Maric reading the draft, and I would have told Their Majesties sooner, but, things had been somewhat busy of late. He stepped closer, saying that I tasted of the Wyld, of lust, of hunger, his face very close to mine. I explained about the incident with Gwrgi and Valene, and how I had found myself at the Heart of the Wyld, and how that had filled me. I tasted of blood, and Wyld, Almost fae, but not quite. I was more akin to him than Valene, he said, yet the Queen of the Cait had claimed me. She would just have to share; he told me, before pulling me closer still, and kissing me, hard, but swiftly. Once again, felt the pull of him, the power, the desire, his as well as my own. I did not resist him. I told him that this had always been the case. Valene knew this, Gwyneth knew it and I knew it. All knew that we would have to share.

He stepped back a pace and turned, formal once more, as he greeted Maric, who had just arrived. He had clearly seen the kiss, but made no mention of it, choosing instead to greet the King formally, as I would have expected of him. After suitable greetings and compliments, he got on with business and asked if the terms of the Accords were acceptable.

Janus looked at me again; his intent clear in his eyes, then dragged his attention away to Maric. He spoke of one who had been causing trouble, running around, meddling, almost killing several of his people, and coercing a creature that would likely eat him. That aside, he stated that the Accords seemed fair to him and his Queen. He could not swear that all the fae courts would follow the agreements, since they could stubborn, but he would do his best to keep them in check, if we would do the same with ours.

I suspected that he spoke of Horace. I said that I regretted Horace’s actions as much as anybody, and said that I had given orders that he be detained, should be venture again into the town. I said that I suspected his actions were occasioned by his feeling of loss regarding the late queen, which I said might explain, if not excuse, his actions. Maric agreed, though he did state that Horace was not formally attached to Mysthaven, since he claimed to serve Faermorn now.

The mention of Faermorn got a strong reaction from Janus, an understandable one, given their previous situation. Leaves fell from the trees and burst into flame, and the hovering demi fae disappeared with frightened squeaks.  Faermorn was worthy of grief, he said, but she would not have wanted, nor approved of, Horace’s actions.

Maric pressed the point regarding the Accords, wanting that matter resolved so that we then had a basis for dealing with any transgressions. He also raised the matter of Aoibheann, fearing that what afflicted her was fae in nature, and thus wished Janus’ better knowledge on such things. Before he did so, he wished to know that the courts bore no ill will towards her. Janus said there was none such. The Huntsman had not taken Aoibheann, for she had broken no oaths, and other matters he was prepared to let lie. We spoke a little of Llwyd, and the new Huntsman, and I speculated if that was what was happening to Aoibheann. That it was Llwyd bothering her. Maric was not so sure. He very much feared that the old Huntsman had found a new host in her. He left us then, saying he would return with Aoibheann when she felt able to visit. I could tell that he was having difficulty controlling his urges, his desires for the fae energies, so it was best he went. Janus sent an escort party of demi-fae to see him safely home.

I spoke more with Janus, saying I would make a final version of the Accords for signing and sealing. I asked if there were other courts that might want to be party to them, other than the Cait. He said that there were only the demi-fae, the goblins and the sluagh, all of whom were much diminished and had merged themselves into the Unseelie Court, thus, his agreement spoke for all.

With Maric gone, and the demi-fae busy elsewhere, Janus had no more time for business and neither did I. There was no more denial and it was time to acknowledge and act upon the things we both felt. If it was real desire, or just the skin-hunger, I could not tell, nor did I care.  All that mattered was my hand on him, and his hands on mine, his lips and mine, and more besides. Nothing else mattered.

Signed, sealed, delivered