My beloved is free! No longer does she have to fear the Unseelie King! The stark, deadly fate that Blaise described is no longer there, hanging over our heads, driving our every move, colouring our every mood. And while I am overjoyed, for her sake, there is still a fear. A fear as to what that freedom may have cost, and the fear that his shadow still lurks over us, or at least Aoibheann and me.
Valene made a deal with God, or, at least, with His Unseelie Majesty. I don’t know what that deal was, as I have not yet had the chance to speak with Valene. I do not know what she had to trade for Gwyn’s freedom, what the price for that freedom was. If she called in some favour owed, or gave up something he wanted, or offered something in exchange, as I would have done, I do not know. I love them both and fear what the cost may have been to Valene.
And, that deal was only for Gwyn, who was most at risk, because of her name. His intention to claim the rest of us, those of us who came from Jasper Cove, still stands. And unless we are sworn to one of the major Courts, we are fair game.
All this, I was told last night, when Gwyn came into the tavern with Aislyn, seemingly now on civil terms. I greeted them in my usual fashion, with the appropriate flattery for Aislyn, who is always easy on the eye, even if I don’t always agree with her attitude. She thanked me for my compliments, saying they were a boost to her ego, which made me laugh, as I did not think her ego needed much boosting. Last night, though, she seemed different. After the greetings and exchange of compliments, she seemed to drop any airs and graces and sat down to speak with us as equals, over drinks.
The situation is somewhat complex, and what solutions there might be, uncertain. Aoibheann and I are not sworn to any of the major Courts. Apparently, for some reason, this only includes the Seelie, Unseelie and the Sluagh. The Cait are not. Nualla and Royce seemed reluctant to discuss it and Valene was not there. Even Aislyn did not know – and she admitted it, which seemed a first to me, but then, I have had little contact with her when she isn’t busy arguing with, or “healing” with Blaise. She also admitted she did not know what the solution might be. Aoibheann has her connection to Llwyd, so perhaps she would be able to swear to the Seelie because of that, even if Llwyd is in no state to do much to help. My situation is more complicated. My oath to Valene is not enough as the Cait are not a Great Court. I do not know, without speaking to Valene, if I could swear to either court without contradicting my oath to her. Because of her link to Faermorn, swearing to the Seelie could be problematical, but swearing to the Unseelie would complicate things with my relationship with Gwyn. Things are complex enough as it is, without introducing the whole Montagu/Capulet theme.
We were unable to resolve what HUM’s interest in us was, save that it had to do with Isabella, and her nature. I had searched my diary, but my entry about that court, where Alec explicated the business with the consorts, was remarkably brief, but then, it was my first entry after a hiatus of three weeks. I told Aislyn this, saying that I knew I had some other notes somewhere about it. Maybe Isabella is a lifebringer, as Aislyn has suggested, which might be a power that the Unseelie lacks. Despite the fact that I have no great connection with Isabella, save for the promise I made Alec, just being her subjects makes us pawns, chips to be played in whatever the King’s game might be.
I wondered if there was some other means, some other status that could be given. Could I be appointed as some sort of ambassador, with whatever passes for diplomatic immunity? Aislyn laughed at that, saying it was human thinking. Of course it was, I said, I was human, Aoibheann is human. Call it special envoy, court jester or whatever, somebody has to be able to travel the lands unmolested – somebody has to pass messages, buy the milk or whatever.
It was clear that we were not going to be able to come up with any solution. Aislyn suggested that we contact Isabella and discuss it with her. Maybe going down into the forest and calling her name would be enough, but we weren’t sure if that was a good idea in case any of HUM’s minions could hear. Aislyn said that the demi-fae had spoken of the red-haired queen who was kind to them, so maybe they could pass on a message. We thought about that and said we would try it soon. For now, I said, I would like to take advantage of this new-found freedom to take my beloved for a walk. Which we did, eventually.