No Lord or Master

I am well-known as being a placid and easy-going person. I am not one who is swift to anger, save in the matter of any trespass against those I consider my friends. In that case, I can be very swift to anger indeed. Even now, writing some days after the event, I still find it hard to control my feelings of anger.

I had taken a break from my studies of the village accounts, and naturally, went across to the tavern for a change of scenery. I found it quite busy for once, with Maric, Giada, Aoibheann and Dyisi there, along with an attractive woman who looked, by her dress, to possibly be from Gwyn’s era. She seemed to have only just arrived, so I took it upon myself to make the necessary introductions, which I suspect is one of my roles as steward. Her name was Tara, and after introductions were done, she made herself comfortable by the fire and I directed Hal to see to her requirements for food and drink.

It had all the makings of a convivial evening, save that Giada had something on her mind. There had been, she told Maric and I, an incident with the fae. Maric was clearly concerned because of possible repercussions to the village, and I was concerned since I seem to be the main spokesman when it comes to dealing with the fae.  We took her aside to find out more. She told us that she had spent a pleasant evening drinking with the guards, but perhaps had overindulged, so took herself for a walk to clear her head a little. She had inadvertently wandered onto the Unseelie side of the bridge. Normally, this wouldn’t have been a problem, except that she encountered some of the Unseelie guards, who attacked her. When we pressed for details, she told us that they tried to rape and torture her, for no other reason than she had no lord or master. Fortunately, Galadan was in the area and he crossed over into Unseelie territory to rescue her.

I could feel myself growing cold with anger, and had to force myself to remain calm. I would have felt anger if that had happened to anybody, but, while Giada and I are no longer lovers, we are still friends. I swallowed the anger as best I could for Giada’s benefit, since, for all her ordeal, she was more concerned that she might have created an ‘incident’ between the courts, or that there might be repercussions on the village. Both she and Maric were looking to me for an answer.

To be honest, I was not sure, but I tried to think in fae terms. Surely I had spent enough time dealing with them to be able to do that. I was concerned about the “no lord and master” bit, as that sounded too much like His Unseelie Majesty’s attitudes, but I put that aside for the moment. While I knew both courts could be vindictive, they were also, in their own ways, fair. Giada had wandered into Unseelie territory by accident and with no ill intent. She had not invited the attentions of the Unseelie guards, nor had she invited the incursion from Galadan. So far as I could reason from that, I felt it unlikely there would be repercussions against the village or its people. And since Giada had not requested the help from Galadan, the incursion would be, if anything, a matter between the courts. I told them that I would make discreet enquiries and suggested that if there were any approaches from either court, they should be referred to me.

I expressed my concern that the attitude; that anybody without a lord or master was fair game, sounded very much like it stemmed from the Unseelie King. I told Giada that my preference would be to exact revenge on the guards with cold iron, however, I would settle for whatever retribution the Queen would allow, adding that she should remind me to thank Galadan next time I saw him. Well, express my appreciation anyway, without actually thanking him. Maric suggested that perhaps I should escort Giada back to the castle to rest, and that, for the foreseeable future, she should remain within the relative safety of the village limits. She assured us that she was ok, and just needed some rest and something to counteract the effects of fae magic.

I had Hal prepare a mixture of oats and salt in a small bag for her while I fetched a spare horseshoe from my cottage. It wasn’t much, but I thought that it would help a little, and maybe provide her with some reassurance.

Helene came in while this was going on, but she was mostly concerned with getting some food and drink inside her. I would normally have spent some time chatting to her, but I had more important things to deal with. Tara was looking a little concerned, having overheard some of what had been said, and asked if this sort of thing was normal. I assured her that it wasn’t but, following Maric’s example, suggested she stay within the village boundaries for the moment, directing her to the guest cottages if she needed somewhere to sleep.

Maric and I took Giada back to the castle, where we opened a bottle of wine to help calm her nerves. She was quite certain that the people who had attacked her were just guards rather than the Unseelie King himself. I said that this was maybe so, but the “no lord or master” attitude was something that stemmed from him. I explained a little more about how anybody who wasn’t sworn to the courts was fair game as far as he was concerned and told them a little more about what he was like and his habit of invading dreams. Maric expressed some concern about this, fearing for his safety at the forthcoming meeting. I was fairly sure that Her Majesty would be able to keep things under control, but said I would make sure of that before the meeting.

I left Giada in Maric’s care while I headed out in the hope of finding Her Unseelie Majesty to discuss the matter, but I was unable to obtain an audience. Perhaps it was for the best, as my normal diplomacy might have failed had I gone there while angry.  There will be time enough for that.

 No Gods, No Masters – Arch Enemy

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