Turn to Stone*

I fear that Braeden, the Captain of the Sluagh – at least, I think that is his rank – is becoming dangerously unhinged.  At some point today, he managed to swoop down on Aoibheann, in front of Sophia, somebody called Bella and Tegan and carry her down to the Unseelie Sithen.  There, so far as I can make out, he kissed her, which petrified her – literally.

This was the point at which I arrived. Braeden was just stepping away from Aoibheann, admiring his handiwork.  She was rigid, cold, as lifeless as any marble statue that one might have in the garden. Gwyn was trying to be protective, but was clearly afraid of Braeden, justifiably so.  She moved to my side for protection and berated Braeden, as did I.  I cautioned him that Aoiheann was under Valene’s protection but he claimed he no longer cared about that or his people.  Despite our protests, he seemed unwilling, or perhaps unable to restore Aoibheann.  He told us it would wear off and then he was gone, with his usual swoop into the sky.

Sophia emerged from the trees at that point.  I had not seen her since the downfall of the castle, so was mightily relieved to see that she was alive and well, if somewhat afraid of the sluagh.  She was relieved to find us well too and told us how she had seen Aoibheann taken. I tried to invite her to come into the sithen, but she was unhappy about it.  She told me this was where Major Fuckbeak had brought her and caged her, so I could understand she might have unpleasant associations.  I explained what the place was and thus its connection to the Raven Captain.

I felt that we could not leave Aoibheann outside the cave, open to the elements, even if she was currently stone, and suggested that we move her inside the cavern.  Gwyn was not so sure, fearing we might drop her or break her or something, and besides, she didn’t know how heavy she would be.  Much to my surprise, and theirs, I was able to supply the answer. I knew about marble, it being one of the raw materials Father’s firm worked with. I knew how heavy blocks of a certain dimension were, so it was a simple matter of estimating Aoibheann’s volume in terms of those blocks and working it out.  I guessed around 400lb.  That would have been no mean lift for anybody on their own, but with my enhanced strength and the assistance of the two women, I figured it would be manageable.  I fetched a couple of blankets and laid them down in our path, in the hope that we wouldn’t chip her if we didn’t put her down gently enough.

With much grunting and effort, we managed to get her into the cave undamaged.  It wasn’t the most dignified journey, and given where I was making most of my grip, I was very glad that Aoibheann was not in a state to realise.  As I said to Gwyn as we were carrying, at least she couldn’t bite me this time.  Gwyn didn’t believe that Aoibheann had bitten me, so I told her about the incident at the infirmary.

Once inside, there did not appear to be much any of us could do until the spell, if that is what it was, wore off.  We talked about the village; which neither Gwyn nor I had seen yet.  Gwyn was not enamoured of the idea of going there, saying how she felt much freer out here. Sophia, on the other hand, was still the city girl, and while this was not exactly a city, it was the nearest we were like to find on this island. For myself, much as I love the caves here, it would be nice to sleep in a proper bed occasionally.  I suggested to Gwyn that we made out that we were ‘posh fucks’, to borrow her phrase, and spend time in the village and some time at our place in the country.  This seemed an acceptable compromise.  Sophia was adamant that proper beds and a roof over her head was a much better idea and soon departed in that direction.

Gwyn and I spent some time enjoying each other’s company, but, after a while, it felt a little off, doing so in front of Aoibheann, even if her senses were not present to know what was going on and so we retired to our little nest further in the caves.

 

Electric Lights had only just been invented in Nathaniel’s time, so he would have been amused to know there was an orchestra for them…

 

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