It was a busy time in the tavern tonight, with two new arrivals and some old friends. Sadly, the evening was overshadowed by grim news from the sithen. Not as grim as it could have been, but disturbing nevertheless. And now I have yet more work to do.

I started by going down to the tavern to put up a notice about the foraging parties. I don’t know how many of the villagers can actually read, but I figured the tavern would be a good place to put it up for those who could, and Hal would be able to explain it to those who couldn’t.  I also asked him to take names of volunteers if I wasn’t around when people read it. With luck, we can start foraging soon.

Having nailed my notice to the entrance, I got myself a drink and went to take my habitual seat by the fireside. The other chair was occupied, rather splendidly, by a satyr, whose name I later learned was Dyisi. Dyisi was a female of the species, which somewhat surprised me, since I had always understood the satyr to be always male, and the female ones an invention of later poets. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised really. Almost everything else I thought to be true about the world has proved to be otherwise. She seemed friendly enough, even if I felt that there was something strange going on behind her dark glasses. She also appeared to somehow project emotions, rather like an empath in reverse. We had a pleasant enough conversation, but the smoke from her pipe had a rather disturbing habit of forming itself into quotations from Mr Lewis Carroll. As I was welcoming her to the tavern and explaining about its various names, I felt hands on my shoulder.  Not, as I had thought, my dear Gwyn, but the almost equally dear Helene, who had apparently recently spent time confined to her bed and was only just up and about.

We barely had time to get the drinks in when there was yet another new arrival. A winged female by the name of Lucis Mundi, which sounded vaguely as though it should translate as Light of the World, but not quite. I ordered a drink for her, as is my habit with new arrivals. I had also offered one to Dyisi, but she was content just to enjoy the fire. Helene started volunteering for the foraging parties, which was good of her, as I gather she has some experience. We were then joined by Gwyn, who seemed to know Lucis already, making some comment about her changed appearance. I made introductions anyway, as, despite having seen the girl before, Gwyn hadn’t learned her name. Helene was quite surprised to see Gwyn, and I realised this must have been the first time she had seen Gwyn since her metamorphosis. She clearly approved of the change, telling me I was a lucky man. Which, I suppose I am. She did look slightly wistful when she said it. I wonder if she is still carrying a torch for me after all these years. I am not quite sure what I would do about that. I still love her dearly, of course, but anything more than that, I don’t know. My love life is complicated enough as it is.

Aoibheann was the next to arrive. She looked as though she had something to ask me, but held back, possibly because I was with Gwyn. I’m not quite sure why she still feels uncomfortable about intruding. Maybe I should just be blunt and tell her she isn’t intruding, and if she is, we would say so.  Lucis, meanwhile, was speculating as to her whereabouts, wondering if this was the north, or if she had crossed the Volga of old. I advised her that we were probably north of somewhere, but I felt it unlikely we were anywhere near Russia, the only Volga I could think of being the one in Russia. Since that probably wasn’t helpful, I told her the name of the island and of the village, so she would at least have some reference points.

Meanwhile, Helene wanted to talk about the possibility of setting up a shop in the village. We started to talk about that and how it related to the foraging. Before we could get too far in the discussion, we were interrupted by the arrival of Prince Daddy, unusually for him, in full battle armour, which was quite alarming in itself. I asked if we should be expecting trouble, just as he asked Gwyn if he could have a quiet word. I was about to let go of her so she could go and have whatever discussion it was with him, but he invited me too. We went out into the clearing, away from the tavern to talk.

He told us there had been a serious attempt on Aislyn’s life the day before. So far as they could work out, a necromancer of some sort had summoned a hellhound, which somehow managed to break into their rooms. It had got past the wards and disposed of her guards before Lorne and Blaise had managed to attack and kill it. Even then, it did not seem to die until they burned the pieces. Aislyn, fortunately,was shaken, but otherwise unharmed.

Gwyn asked what she could do, and he mostly wanted her to be extra careful, as he knew she would not agree to guards following her around. He told her that necromancy was not a sidhe type of magic and that he suspected the perpetrator was still in the area, unless the travelled by some kind of portal. He then asked me if I know anything of this kind of magic. I was momentarily worried, but there didn’t seem to be any accusation in his tone, and given that by his standards, I count as a dead creature, it was a reasonable question. I told him I was aware of it, and that some kindred were known to practice death-related magic, but it was not something I knew how to do. I briefly thought of Paasheelu, who would probably know more of such things, but I have not seen her since the portal to the old castle faded away.  I questioned the value of an assassination attempt, speculating that while I could see the value, from the perpetrator’s point of view, of a kidnapping, to make use of the Princess’ powers. There seemed, to my mind, little to be gained by killing her.  Thinking it through, I said I thought it unlikely that the Unseelie would try such a thing, ditto the demons. I suggested that maybe the sluagh were the most likely suspects, knowing their affinity with death, and also, that one of their kind had a link with the Huntsman. I didn’t mention Braeden by name, not without any evidence, but it was he I had in mind.

Gwyn also had clearly thought about Paasheelu, since she also mentioned her as a source of knowledge on necromancy. She said that Galyanna had a hellbeast of sorts, but did not think it likely she would make such an attack. Blaise’s mind was clearly running along the same lines as mine. He told us the Unseelie were ruled out and that Galyanna had actually been helping with the investigation. He agreed that the Sluagh were the most likely and that that was being investigated. He told Gwyn to stick close to me when she was outside the sithen and to call upon him if needed.  He also said there were places in the sithen we could be together, where we would be better protected. I was quite touched by his faith in me and told him that my sword stood ready, unskilled while I might be, to defend Gwyn, and if necessary, the sithen. I also offered to research what I could on necromancy in case that information should prove to be useful. He thanked me and said that he expected no less of me, for I was a good man. Another vote of confidence, so perhaps he is warming to me after all.

Blaise then made to return to the sithen, where he was sure there would be friction, as Aislyn was no more minded to guards than Gwyn, and likely more vociferous in her objections. Gwyn was clearly torn between wanting to go to Aislyn and staying with me. I told her that much as I would appreciate her help with the research, it was probably safest if she went back to the sithen with Blaise, promising I would call on her there later, once I had taken a browse through the library. Somewhat reluctantly, she agreed, after extracting my promise that I would come to her later, and after asking me to let Aoibheann know why she had to go. I told her I would do these things and watched as she and Blaise made off into the mists. And so, I was left to my own devices for the now. I told Aoibheann that Gwyn had to go back on sithen business but didn’t elaborate further. I felt a little guilty about not telling her more details, but with her connection to the Huntsman, and his connection to hellhounds, I felt it safer not to. After that, I made my way to the library to see what I could find on necromancy. I found some initial information, but I would rather not sully my diary with it. I made notes elsewhere, and then, it being later in the evening, made my way to the sithen to keep my promise to Gywn.




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