Mounsieur Cobweb, good mounsieur, get you your
weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped
humble-bee on the top of a thistle; and, good
mounsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret
yourself too much in the action, mounsieur; and,
good mounsieur, have a care the honey-bag break not;
I would be loath to have you overflown with a
Midsummer Night’s Dream – William Shakespeare
My first proper journal was given to me by my mother as one of the gifts for my 11th birthday. I suspect that this was because I had frequently been taken to task for filling my school books with thoughts that had little to do with my lessons and she thought it better that I had a better place to record such thoughts. I have kept one ever since, through all my years at school, university, my career with Haskins Shipping, and even through the strange and surreal twists and turns that have been my life since that fateful day in Katharina’s dwelling in Bremerhaven. Sometimes, I have been very assiduous, recording something every day, other times, less so.
Of late, I have been less than assiduous, which is strange, since I seem to have far more leisure time than I am used to. Perhaps it is the enforced leisure that is to blame, for little of note has happened that would warrant recording.
But, that is not strictly true. My darling wife, Gwyneth, has been busy travelling. She was engaged as a creative consultant for a part of the Fantasy Faire, an event I have noted previously in my journal, creating a story – a quest, even – for a place called Astrid’s Nemeton at the Faire. In some ways, I envy her that task, but then, she is the creative one, whereas I am the rank amateur when it comes to writing. That said; she did call upon me to proof-read and comment upon her writings, which task I took to with relish. I may lack her background and training in creative writing, but when it comes to attention to detail, you can’t beat an accountant. The story she had created appealed to me, being in the nature of a quest. Such things were a major part of my early reading, in particular, the quests of the various Knights of the Round Table. I understand that the quest was much enjoyed by those who attended the Faire, so I am happy for Gwyneth, and happy that I played some small part in that.
For my part, I have done some travelling. I have taken myself a few times to that place called Paradoxia that I have recorded herein before, but found little happening. Perhaps something will happen there soon, and perhaps I will find some entertainment there, but that remains to be seen.
In the meanwhile, I have kept myself occupied. I have spent time learning how this marvel of technology known as the Internet works. I have reluctantly accepted that Cloud Storage has nothing to do with water vapour, despite the aesthetic appeal of that idea. And, I have learned that following links (see, I have learned some of the nomenclature) on some sites (more nomenclature) can result in many hours evaporating without even noticing.
But, technology has not occupied all of my time. I have also spent time getting used to the fae side of my nature. I have to confess, I will never be entirely comfortable with the wings, although I have learned to turn them on and off at will. Other aspects I am finding harder. I do not yet have Gwyneth’s facility with the glamour. Perhaps I never will. Perhaps it is a woman thing. Mother was nowhere near as extreme as some of her “fashionable” friends, but she would still change dresses and hairstyles far more often than Father, Gilbert and I ever would. That said; one of my university friends was somewhat of a dandy. If I had been like him, then maybe I might use the glamour more. But for now, I prefer the old-fashioned method of fiddling with buttons and stuff.
And then, there was Cobweb.
Yes, Cobweb. As in one of the fairies that attended Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream. I do not know if this one would be capable of killing a red-hipped humble-bee, though, given that he isn’t that much bigger than a bee. I’m not going to argue. That was the name he gave, so I have to accept that as being the truth.
At least, I assume that this Cobweb is male. Bottom addressed his companion as such, though the name itself offers no clue. I never really know with the demi-fae, which this Cobweb seems to be. It is hard to tell, since he looks like an oversized moth with a child’s face. And, a moth, I might add, that seems to have not so much collided with a neon light, as swallowed one whole, being a very bright and alarming shade of pink.
Sorry, fuchsia, not pink. Apparently, that is important to him.
I had been thinking about the forthcoming opening of Awenia to non-fae visitors, in particular wondering if I need to draft something akin to the Accords I created for Mysthaven, as a means of protection for us and our visitors. I was dictating notes into a memo recorder app on my phone (technology is a wonderful thing) when I heard the hum of wings, and caught a bright flash of colour just off to one side. Now there are many things that have bright colours, and even glow, in Awenia, but I was not near any of those areas. I turned, and there he was, hovering near my shoulder, shining pinkly with an expression halfway between hopeful helpfulness and a slightly terrified rictus. I dropped the phone into my pocket, but forgot to turn off the recorder, so I was able, later, to transcribe the conversation.
“Hello,” I said, “Does Gwyn want me for something?”
“Gw..?” He bobbed up and down uncertainly, apparently unable to finish the syllable
“Her Majesty,” I said, “also known as Gwyn, or Gwyneth.” He bobbed up and down again. “It’s her name.”
“Gw… No, no, I could not. Her Majesty is…” He twirled around, turning a somersault in nervous excitement.
“Her Majesty is elsewhere, I assume. Do you have a message from her?”
He shook his head. “No, sire, I have no message. But I could convey one for you if that is your wish.”
I shrugged. “I have no message to convey at the moment, but, I shall bear you in mind, should I wish to do so, though these days, I usually use this thing.” I showed him the phone and dropped it back into my pocket. He shied away from it, turning more somersaults. “So, you are not from Her Majesty?”
“No sire, no.” He fluttered a little closer and executed something akin to a bow. “I am here for you, sire, at your service.”
“At my service?” I asked. “I have no need of any service at present, but thank you for the offer. You may go.”
He bobbed, looking horrified. “No, no, sire, no, I cannot. I am at your service.”
“Are you now? Any please stop calling me sire. My name is Nathaniel.”
“Nath…” He tried hard, but could not bring himself to say it. “No, no, I cannot. Please do not make me… Sire.”
I shrugged. “Very well, as you wish. And what shall I call you?”
“Cobweb, sire, my name is Cobweb. And I am at your service.” He bobbed another bow.
“Of course you are. And tell me, Cobweb, good mounsieur, are you going to get you your
weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped humble-bee on the top of a thistle?”
He bobbed and twirled, looking confused. “Sire? Is that what you wish me to do, sire?”
“Never mind,” I said. “They probably don’t have Shakespeare where you come from.”
“I do not know this Shakespeare, sire, but, if it is your wish, I shall endeavour to know more for next time.” The helpful expression was back.
I shrugged. Knowing Shakespeare probably wasn’t going to be an essential part of his function, whatever that might be, but I am always happy to pass on my love of the Bard. “If you feel so inclined, you can do so. I am pretty sure there are copies in the library.”
He bobbed closer, glowing even more brightly. “I shall look, sire.”
I stepped a pace back, as the glow was somewhat intense. “You’re very pink,” I said, “and bright. Could you turn it down a little?”
“Fuchsia, sire, I prefer fuchsia, not pink. And this is who I am sire. I am sorry, but I do not know how to change myself.
“Fuchsia? Mother used to grow fuchsias in the garden. I suppose they were that sort of colour. OK, if that’s what you want to be, then who am I to argue?”
“You may argue if you wish, sire. You are the master, so you may do whatever you wish. I am merely at your service. But my colour is still fuchsia.”
“A very bright fuchsia. Excuse me a moment.” I found a pair of sunglasses in my pocket and put them on in the hope of being less dazzled.
He fluttered a little closer, seemingly puzzled by my new eyewear. “Why do you have dark glass over your eyes?”
“As I said, you’re a bit bright, dazzling even. These make you less dazzling.”
He fluttered away again. “As my master wishes.”
“Yes, sire. You are husband and consort to Her Majesty. It is only fitting that you have a personal servant. And that is I.” He bobbed another bow.
“Personal servant?” I sighed inwardly. While I grew up in a household that included a housekeeper and a maid, I was never really comfortable with the idea, and It had taken me a while to get used to my staff at Mysthaven. But, this seemed something different. Then it occurred to me. “Ah, I see. So you’re my Clutie?”
“Clutie?” He bobbed and twirled and his voice seemed to go up a register as he said her name.
“Yes, Clutie. Servant to Her Majesty,” I said, gesturing in the general direction of the castle. “You must know her.
“Mistress Clutie, yes, I know her,” he said, adding in a softer voice. “Not as much as I would like to.”
“What was that?”
Cobweb looked down at the ground and muttered. “Not as much as I would like to.”
“You like Clutie? I mean, really like her?” I emphasised the word like.
Cobweb bobbed and twirled. “Yes. She’s so pretty and funny and clever and … pretty and…” He turned even pinker, which I would not have thought possible. “But, she would not be interested in the likes of me.”
“How do you know?” I asked. “Have you tried asking her?”
Cobweb’s bobbing and twirling got even more frantic. “I could not, sire, she is Her Majesty’s and she is too pretty for the likes of me, and I would not know how…”
I shrugged. “Well, you don’t know until you try. Not that I am the best person to be giving advice on courting. I don’t exactly have a stellar record in that respect.”
Cobweb looked puzzled. “You are husband to Her Majesty. Did you not court her? Or was it for political reasons?” He said, whispering the word political.
I laughed at that point, thinking of the day that my relationship with Gwyn became more than casual (Five years ago, come July 4th, as I found out later, checking back through old journals.) “I didn’t exactly court her, although a dispute with one of the Royal Courts was involved, which I suppose makes it sort of political. But, no, I didn’t court her. I just kissed her. To be fair, we did think we were about to die.”
I held up a hand. “If you’re not going to address me by name, I think I prefer sire to master.”
“As you wish, sire.” He looked expectantly at me. “You were about to die?”
“What? Oh yes.” I chuckled, replaying the events of that day in my head. “Gwyn and I were just friends, and, at the time, I don’t think she even knew she was fae, let alone high sidhe and I did not know I was of the blood either. Anyway, a demon of our acquaintance used her powers to provoke us into a fight with the Raven to the Unseelie Crown by forcing me to defend Gwyn’s honour. So, there we were, facing the Raven, with the demon taunting him, facing almost certain death… so, I thought, what the hell, and kissed her.”
Cobweb bobbed and twirled, his eyes growing big. “And did you die?”
I glared at him, composing some sarcastic response to that before thinking that, technically, from my own personal experience, death wasn’t necessary a terminal experience, so it was a valid question. “No,” I replied. “I made no aggressive moves and opted for diplomacy instead, formally requesting an audience with the Unseelie Queen to resolve the issue, so there was no need for violence of any sort. Also, we were under the protection of the Queen of the Cait Sidhe, which helped. The demon was not so fortunate.”
“Oh my,” said Cobweb, turning little circles in wonder. “And did you resolve it?”
I nodded. “Yes, it was resolved, and the Unseelie Queen and I became good friends, Gwyn and I became an item, and some while later, she became Seelie Queen, I became Lord of Mysthaven, we had three children with the pro-tem Unseelie King…” I paused and took pity on this poor creature, desperately trying to take it all in and understand. “… It’s complicated.”
“Yes, master… sorry, sire. It would seem so.”
“But, as I said, I never really courted Gwyn. So, I can’t really advise you on how to proceed with Clutie.”
“I could not, sire, proceed. I could not even talk to her.” He bobbed uncertainly.
“Well, you are going to have to at some point,” I said.
“Well, Gwyn and I live together in the same castle, at least, occasionally, when we aren’t on our travels. So, you aren’t going to be able to avoid Clutie for ever.”
“Oh,” he said, blushing again. “I had not thought of that. What ever shall I do?”
“Just be yourself,” I said. “Be kind, be helpful, and listen, and see what happens.”
He looked uncertain. “If you say so, sire.” He fluttered upwards, drawing himself up to his full height. “And I shall be the best me that I can.”
“That’s the spirit.”
“Is there anything I can do for you now, sire?”
“A bacon sandwich would be nice. I am sure Bran can show you how.”
“At once, sire, at once.” He bobbed another little bow and then sped off. A pink, sorry, fuchsia streak against the gathering dusk.
So, I have my own personal demi-fae servant. I will have to train him in my ways, especially in the matter of not being as persistent as Clutie. And, possibly, mentor him in the matter of acting on his crush on Clutie. How the hell did my life get so weird that I find myself brokering a romance between two demi-fae? As I said to Cobweb at the time. “It’s complicated.”