Where Loyalties Lie

((Catchup Post – original RP  10 Nov 2014))

Am I the only one who sees shades of grey? Perhaps that is my failing, that I try to see things from different side, try to see the merit or otherwise in all things. Does that make me soft? Does that make me indecisive? Is it a blessing or curse that I see both sides? I don’t know, but it is very much part of who I am, so I suppose I have to take it as a good thing. Sometimes, though, it is hard, when others around me don’t and it falls to me to be the reasonable one. I should be used to it with Aoibheann, who rarely sees shades of grey in anything, but it’s harder with Maric. But then, he sometimes lacks experience in certain things. I never imagined I would be the experienced one when dealing with a vampire who is over 1000 years old. Hadley has gone to Hell, literally. Depending on who you believe, she was kidnapped by Vedis, or at least, the memory of Vedis. Or, Hadley summoned Vedis somehow and convinced her to take her to Hell. Either way, Maric is not pleased and neither is Dorina. Not knowing the circumstances, I must defer judgement. I do know Hadley was not entirely happy here, and I know she is fond of her Aunty Vedis, but until I know more, I can’t say which story I believe. Or perhaps it is somewhere in between. I do know that Maric is determined to rescue her. I can understand that, as he vowed to protect her, and, at the moment, can not, or perhaps will not, see how Hell can be a good place for a young child. Although I have some sympathy with that view, I am less certain of it. But then, I have more experience of Vedis than most here, and for all that she is a queen of demons, I do not believe she would wish harm upon the child. Maric called a meeting, with me and Galyanna, with Aoibheann and Wren turning up in tow. It did not go well. Maric was extremely angry at everybody – for letting Vedis into the village, for letting her take Hadley away, for not informing the village guards that she was here. He was angry that he had failed in his protection of Hadley, angry that he had been betrayed, as he saw it, by Vedis, and most angry that Hadley was in a place that he deemed unsuitable. Wren was confused, understandably so, because nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Vedis had visited the village, which, as an ally she was allowed to do, Hadley had gone with her, regarding Vedis as a friend and auntie, and nobody had given orders to the contrary. Galyanna was angry because she also felt betrayed, because her queen had been killed and she had not been given the chance to voice an opinion, or find an alternative method of getting rid of Morning Star’s taint. She also questioned Maric’s right to demand anything of her, especially not demanding that she go down to hell and to treat Vedis effectively as the enemy. She asked me what I would do if the circumstances were reversed, if Vedis had killed Maric and then demanded that I help her against him. That was a question I could not answer, I told her. I told her that, like her, I was bound by my oaths and my loyalties to my friends. And, if there was a conflict of interests, only then could I decide, only then could I make a judgement call as to what the greater good was, or perhaps the lesser evil. Until I knew Hadley’s circumstances, I could not decide what I would do. She thanked me for my honesty. She would go to Hell, she said, and if Hadley was in danger, she would rescue her. If, on the other hand, she was safe and well and happy there, she would defend her equally fiercely. She turned to leave, urging Wren to go with her. I could see that Maric was beginning to lose control, and it was not helped by Aoibheann’s simplistic view of things, urging him not to trust Galyanna. He began to scream and shout at us, seemingly unable to see anything other than Hadley’s presence in Hell as a bad thing. Just then, Dorina came charging in, attempting to attack Galyanna. I managed to grab her and command her to be still. I succeeded in that and then, reckoning the situation beginning to get out of hand, tried to project calm, especially at Maric and Aoibheann, saying there was no point in fighting among ourselves. Whatever our disagreements, our first priority was to ascertain Hadley’s safety or otherwise and take appropriate action. Aoibheann appeared offended and stalked off. Galyanna somehow did not defend herself from Dorina’s attack, perhaps considering her the lesser threat. She claimed, and I believed her, that she had not lied to us, nor broken any oath, else she, too, would be being hunted by the cŵn. She asked Wren how many times she had lied to her, or put her in danger. Every word came out cold, measured, as though she were holding herself in check by main force. She had to go, she said, to prepare for her journey to find out what had happened. Wren started to say that Galyanna had never lied to her, but, thing were getting tense, and I could sense Maric was almost at breaking point. Even as I started to suggest that Wren and Dorina follow Galyanna’s example and leave, Maric yelled at us to do so. An explosion was imminent. I grabbed Wren and started to leave, trying to grab Dorina as well, but she refused to leave him. She said he hadn’t abandoned her, so she would not abandon him. I tried to dissuade her but she was adamant. I reasoned that she and Maric had their own bond, and perhaps that would protect her. I needed to get Wren to safety, so that is what I did. I am left, though, in a quandary. Maric seems intent on snatching Hadley away from the jaws of Hell, literally, as he can see no good in that place. If he so orders, then I would have to obey. Yet, I have known Vedis and Galyanna a long time, longer than I have known Maric, and they have never betrayed me, that I know of. Until I hear Hadley’s story from her mouth, I cannot decide. And I do not know, in the current circumstances, how that would be achieved.

Amulet

((Catchup post – original RP 3 Nov 2014))

My chambers seem to be becoming the social centre of the castle. The other night, it was Dyisi and then Dorina and Hadley. Tonight, it was Maric and Aoibheann, returned from a meeting with Janus. And later, briefly, Dorina again, though she and I did not get a chance to speak.

Maric came seeking my advice concerning an amulet that Janus had fashioned for Aoibheann. He wanted an independent view of its function, from the point of view of my fae senses. They came to my room, and for some inexplicable reason, Aoibheann decided she didn’t want to sit with us, opting instead to climb on the canopy of my bed. Fortunately, I had made sure that the woodwork was substantial for very heavy curtains and figured it could easily bear Aoibheann’s slight frame.

The amulet in question was shaped like an oak-leaf and hung easily around her neck. She sat fingering it in a manner that suggested she wasn’t too happy about wearing it. At Maric’s unspoken suggestion, I reached out with my fae sense, tasting and scenting, for want of better words to describe the senses, trying to discern its function and purpose. A protection, it seemed, and more specifically, a protection against fae influences. That surprised me a little, but then, given that we were trying to help Aoibheann deal with her passenger, who was fae-born, perhaps it shouldn’t have. I probed further and smiled to myself as I determined that it was mostly a protection against being elf-struck. I wasn’t quite sure how that would work against her Huntsman, but it struck me as being an appropriate protection nevertheless. I told them this, but kept quiet about the other thing I had detected; that it could be used to locate her. Given how skittish she is about the fae, and especially Janus, I figured that might spook her into taking it off. I told Maric the latter privately by a thought.

Outwardly, he seemed pleased with the amulet’s function and wondered if he could get one too, while privately agreeing with me that the locating aspect was an aspect best kept from her. Aoibheann, of course, said that he could have her amulet. Somewhat inexplicably, she offered it by hanging upside down by her knees from the top of the bed canopy, leaving her face and the amulet around his eye-level. I refrained from commenting, although inwardly, I was mildly amused, wondering how mortified she would be if she realised just how much of herself she was revealing, belly and legs. Strangely, it did not touch me, Aoibheann being like a sister to me, but I could sense that it moved Maric, although he tried not to show it. He seemed to regard her antics fondly and allowed a brief kiss before tempting her down from the canopy with the offer of chocolate mead.

Aoibheann protested that we hadn’t worked out how to make that yet. Maric agreed, but said that in the meanwhile, he had worked out a recipe with the cook to blend mead, cream and hot chocolate. I gave them a moment of privacy as he carried her from the bed to the couch and instructed the servants to bring said drinks.

We sat and talked a while of our immediate problem, of how to deal with that part of the Huntsman that dwelled within Aoibheann. Perhaps, we wondered, we could simply try to talk to him, reason with him maybe persuade him to leave her. The question then was who he would listen to. There were limited people who had previous experience: myself, Hadley, Aoibheann herself. We all knew him of old, before even we came to Ashmourne. Aoibheann also suggested the White Stag, as hosted by Daimon, but we had not seen him in some considerable time.

We reached no real conclusion and soon, perhaps influenced by the mead, Aoibheann began to nod off. Maric asked me if I would escort her to her chambers as he needed to talk with somebody – who turned out to be Dorina since she knocked on my door just as I was about to leave with Aoibheann. I don’t know what business she had with Maric, other than him helping her, as I had been doing, with controlling her more bestial half. I decided not to ask and took Aoibheann to her rooms. When I returned, Maric and Dorina had gone elsewhere, which was fine by me, as I felt the need for some sleep also. I took a few moments to rearrange the bed’s canopy, disarrayed somewhat by Aoibheann’s gymnastic antics, but after that, I remembered nothing.

 

Amulet

 

Little Foxes

((Catchup Post – original RP 30/1/14-1/11/14))

Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose, To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude, And in the calmest and most stillest night, With all appliances and means to boot,  Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!  Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

So said Henry, lamenting that the duties of kingship rarely afforded him the time to relax. While I do not claim a crown, I know how he feels. My kingdom may be much smaller, but on the other hand, young Henry didn’t have to worry about werewolves, vampires, and missing fox cubs. Or, if he did, neither history, nor the blessed bard recorded it.

Tonight, I had a rare moment of ease, including time for a bath and even time to come back to my journal, which I had sadly neglected for a few days. There had not been much to record the previous day. We had dinner in the tavern, during which I introduced Ivoron and Maric, introduced him to the laws of Mysthaven and discussed what skills he could offer the village. His main skills seemed to be in healing plants, so I made a note to introduce him to Dorina and Helene. Wren and Aoibheann seemed to have had some sort of argument, at least, I presume so, since they spent part of the evening making apologising and making up. Hadley had acquired a pet fox-cub somehow, but I didn’t really get a chance to find out more, because she and Galyanna went off for some girl talk. I must admit I couldn’t imagine Galyanna having girl talk, and judging by his facial expression, neither could Maric.

Tonight, Dyisi came to visit, finding me relaxing in my robe after my bath. Since it was a casual social visit, I didn’t feel the need to get dressed further and neither of us is overly modest. We joked about that, and spoke on the difficulty of finding a moment to relax. That’s when I recalled the Shakespeare quote. She did suggest that maybe I could put up wards to protect myself from interruptions, but I said that this wasn’t really fair. I had my duties, and the town had the right to interrupt me. Besides, if I needed to get away, I could always go and visit Gwyn or Valene, which would at least make it harder for them to find me, for a while.

We moved on to talk about trading and such like. Dyisi’s abilities to move from realm to realm were useful for small items, such as my mint imperials and such like, but were not really feasible for large-scale supplies. I jokingly suggested that she visit old Theodore Culper’s warehouse to bring me back a bottle or two of his Captain’s Hoard rum. Sadly, she did not think she could manage that, as it was a place unfamiliar to her, and she doubted I could describe it in terms that would be meaningful to her means of travel. I could not dispute her on that. I scarcely know how I travel around, and therefore could not sensible give directions to another who travels the same way. The thought occurred that I could probably go see Theo myself, via my own realm-hopping ability, or via the Shadow Roads.  I told her a little about my travels and how Alec had released me from my bonds to him, allowing me to make my own way, un-anchored.

We were interrupted by knock at the door. When I called for whoever it was to enter, we were joined by Dorina and Hadley. The former looked a little uncomfortable, which was understandable, given our last encounter, while Hadley looked sullen and resentful. Dorina and I agreed we needed to talk at some point, but that was not what she had come for. Eventually, with much prompting and prodding, Hadley admitted she needed a favour. Her pet fox-cub, apparently called Ellie, had escaped and she wanted to know if she could have some help finding her. She was somewhat reluctant to ask, and had to be prodded by Dorina to remember to say please. Even so, I could tell she was worried about the little cub, so I checked the roster and saw that Radek was off-duty. I figured with his werewolf senses, he could track a young fox without any problems. I scribbled a note for him and told them to go see Vasily or Mirko on the doors and they would find Radek for them. I also suggested she call in at the kitchen for some scraps of meat, that might help tempt little Ellie out of hiding. She thanked me properly, then, and managed more of a smile than she had before. I gave her the note and sent them on their way.

Dyisi and I conversed some more, on matters of no real importance, until she left me, saying she didn’t wish to impinge further on my rare moment of leisure.

 

Little Foxes

 

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.