It never occurred to me before, but I now wonder how strange it was that, for all my dealings with the Fae back in London, I never had occasion to deal with the Seelie Court. The Unseelie Court, yes, for I worked for Artur and Katarina, before the left for the battle with Mabh, and then their successor, Winter. Last night remedied that lack.
I found the kids, Jada & Kale, in the courtyard, just loafing around as children sometimes do. I made my usual offer of soda and cookies. Jada seemed to be happy with that idea, but Kale was off in his fantasy world again. Once again, he spoke of the adventurers, seeking to wake the sleeping queen, but deciding that the adventurers were entitled to also stop for food and drink. I’ve heard him talking about the adventurers before, and the sleeping queen. Jada still insisted on calling me sir, despite my protestations. She insisted that it was not polite to call me just by my name, because that was how she had been brought up. I couldn’t argue with good manners and a well-mannered upbringing, so I let it be, while assuring her that there were times it was appropriate to address me formally, but other times when it was perfectly fine to call me Nathaniel.
Once in the tavern, there was a certain amount of awkwardness between them and Aoibheann. Kale apologised for running away, Aoibheann apologised for not believing them about the adventurers and sleeping queens and heroes, and Jada told Aoibheann that it was probably better that he, presumably Kale, pretends, and that she was glad that Aoibheann was there since they couldn’t get the others back. This seemed a little odd to me, then an idea occurred. Jada had told me how momma Faith had gotten sick and gone into a coma. She could be the sleeping queen, and all the adventure talk is Kale’s way of coping, and hoping that one day, the adventurers, presumably him and Jada, would find their mommas again and momma Faith would wake up. I shall have to talk to Jada some more when I find her alone and see if I can confirm this theory. It made me feel quite sad, but, for their sake, I tried not to show it. Instead, I sat down with them and nibbled at the cookies. Aoibheann hugged Jada and told her to go sit down and have some cookies before I ate them all.
I decided to explore the adventure idea a little, so started telling Kale how I wanted to have adventures when I was younger; how I wanted to be a knight on a white charger and go killing dragons and rescuing maidens and such like. That brightened him up somewhat and then he asked me if I knew about Alice and the White Rabbit. Now that made me smile. Of course I knew about Alice and the White Rabbit, for Mr Carroll’s creations have always been a favourite of mine. Aoibheann, naturally, had not heard of this and asked who Alice was while I imitated the white rabbit complaining about being late. Of course, Aoibheann took this as referring to myself, and urged me to go if I was late. Kale meanwhile told her about Alice being a girl who chased a white rabbit down a rabbit hole, which didn’t exactly clarify matters. I explained about it being a book and then I promised I would find my copy and read to the kids later.
At this point, a shadow fell across the entrance. It was our winged friend from the spring feast. Imposing though he was, the kids did not seem overly bothered. Aoibheann, on the other hand was, though I am not sure if she was scared or fascinated. It could have been both, I suppose. He went up to the bar and ordered a glass of mead. Aoibheann served him, again, seeming both scared and fascinated at the same time. The man exuded power in a way I tend to associated with the fae, which supposition turned out to be correct. I asked Aoibheann to get me a rum and a cider for Wren, who had just turned up. Meanwhile, the kids decided they were tired and took themselves off to bed. Lacking any other introduction, I made the introduction myself, with my usual “Hi, I’m Nathaniel Ballard, I don’t believe we’ve met” routine. My supposition about his nature was then proved as he introduced himself as Lwydd Brynnnos, king of the Seelie Court.
For all that Aoibheann seemed to know the gentleman; this seemed to come as a bit of a surprise. She dropped the tray of drinks she was carrying on the floor, and then rather rudely ordered me to clear it up – “Ballard! Clean!” was all she said. I did not want fight in front of Wren, or a tavern guest, so I stood up very slowly, giving Aoibheann a glare that left her in no doubt I was annoyed, and slowly and deliberately cleaned up the mess. Since I was now at the bar, I poured a cider for Wren, a rum for myself and asked Aoibheann if she wanted anything. She opted for a Pernod, which seemed to amuse Llwyd. I chatted with Llwyd for a moment, pointedly ignoring Aoibheann after I had given her the drink. I told him about my experiences with the Unseelie court, working for both Artur and Katarina, and then Winter. Winter, at least, he knew of, which gave us some connection. When I said I did not know much of the Seelie, he seemed surprised and told me that Isabella was one. I had to confess I hadn’t known this, but was not surprised. Wren wanted to know how come I didn’t know that, so I had to explain that she hides her nature behind a glamour most of the time, and I had only seen her without it once. That appeared to be sufficient explanation since Llwyd then turned once again to Aoibheann and questioned why she was drinking the green fairy’s nectar, presumably referring to the Pernod.
I still did not quite understand what was going on between them, feeling again some unresolved tension, similar to that I had noticed at the feast, but not quite the same. She asked what she should be drinking; he told her to drink the mead, and then asked if she had considered his offer. Clearly, whatever it was, they had some unfinished business, and I began to feel that I was intruding. Normally, I would not leave Aoibheann alone in a risky situation, but there did not seem to be any immediate danger, at least none that might be preventable by putting myself and my sword in the way. I finished my rum and bid them good evening, hoping that they could resolve their situation without breaking anything.