This is the land of the fae, the faerie realm, a realm of magic. I was a vampire, and now I am not sure what I am, since I am in possession of breath and a heartbeat, both normally noticeably absent from a vampire. Yet, I seem to retain those powers I had as a vampire, powers which might, to others, seem magical. And yet, for all the years that have passed since I left behind the illusions that I once had about the nature of the world, I have learned so little of magic, and only marginally more of the powers that I possess as, whatever it is I am now. I have the power to command others, I can move much faster than would be natural for a mere man of my age, and have greater strength also. If there are other powers, I have yet to discover them. And so far as magic is concerned, I can make a piece of crystal glow, I can move a piece of furniture a few feet, and as I recently discovered, can help anchor a portal. These are all very wonderful and admirable, yet I have no clue as to how I do any of these things. And it is not as if the things I can do with the crystal magic are of any great use, unless I find myself locked in a darkened room. I have no idea how I might use powers to, for example, locate a missing person. Now that would be something useful.
The day after the fight with the Huntsman, I was in the cottage when Sophia came looking for me. I had left her sleeping along with the villagers, and had not seen her when I saw to their return to their homes. She asked what had become of the battle after we left and I was unable to tell her anything much as I had not seen Maric since he sent me back to organise the lock-down. Nobody in the castle had been able to tell her, presumably because they didn’t know, and also, as I explained, she was not known to them.
Since I was headed over to the tavern anyway, I invited her over there for a drink, and something to eat if she desired. I ordered an Irish coffee for her, which momentarily confused her, so I explained that, despite her lack of memory, I did know her. She seemed to accept that calmly, but I decided that I would not burden her with extra details as to why for the moment. Since she had asked if I was an important man here, I briefly explained how I came to be steward, and added that the knowledge of her liking for Irish coffee was just one of the many things it was my place to know. I did say that she had been missing for some months and asked what she remembered.
She had been looking for something in a river, she told me, possibly the ankh necklace she now wore, when she heard a woman’s voice laughing coldly, and a pair of hands pushing her into the water. After that, she remembered nothing until she woke up in the convent-like place, being attended by one of the sisters. These, I assumed, were the same sisters who had bid her seek out this place.
I was not able to pursue her story further, because Maric came in, looking not at all happy. He unbent enough to make polite greetings to Sophia when I made the introductions, but clearly had other things on his mind. He sent his thoughts to me about them – presumably Aoibheann and Vedis vanishing into thin air, and asked if there was a way to track the fae. I answered likewise that I did not, but that maybe Valene or Gwyn might know. Since he had asked if he could speak with me privately, I excused myself from Sophia and we went out into the village green so that we could talk.
Once we were away from the tavern, Maric confirmed that it was Aoibheann and Vedis who were gone, and that he was unable to find Aoibheann through their bond. He could sense that she was alive and in fear, but that was all. I knew that none of my abilities were of use. Galyanna, I suggested, could possibly track Vedis, since I believed they were bonded in a similar way to he and I were. Paasheeluu, were she here, night be able to do the same for Aoibheann, since they were very close, and she was well versed in magic. Much as I loved Gywn, I had not seen her for a while, and I did not know if her learning of fae magics had included tracking. Valene, I concluded, was the best bet, as she was fond of Aoibheann, was fae herself, and could go more places than we could. Although I didn’t know much about magic, I knew that it was always good to have something of the person, and suggested that maybe there was some hair on her hairbrush, of bloodstains on any discarded clothing. He agreed that was the best option and asked if I could contact Valene.
I looked around the undergrowth until I spotted Royce, lurking and watching as usual. I knew his opinion of being asked to convey messages, but asked him as nicely as I could, explaining that Valene was fond of Aoibheann, and would want to help. I asked that he bring her response to me, or to Maric if I was not available, and that he tell Valene to go to Maric likewise if I wasn’t available. With his usual grace, he grumpily agreed and set off into the shadows. Maric asked me to keep an eye on things and let him know when Valene was available. He then headed off into the vaults, he told me, to work on other avenues, and ways to defeat our enemies.
I went into the castle myself, hoping perhaps I could learn something useful from the library. I found Sophia up there, who had returned when she grew bored of the tavern. I had not even seen her go past me, but then, I was tied up talking to Maric. I explained that we were missing Aoibheann and Vedis, and what we were going to try to locate them and rescue them. She asked what we had tried before, but I was not able to tell her much. I said that I would try blood magic, if only I knew how, forgetting that she had so far not shown any memory of her time with Tory, or what she had been. She did, however, react to the phrase “blood magic” repeating it as if it meant something.
For all of her lack of memory, she did say that she thought she remembered the Huntsman, and then asked about the woman who had pushed her into the river, saying that her life sounded similar to his. I could not think of any equivalent female, other than possibly Nemaine, who had her own interest in the dead. I did not mention that her interest was dietary, feeling that would possibly be a bit much for her to absorb. Then, having avoided that possibly complicated matter, I went and commented that her late mother, Tory, might have been able to help, since she knew of blood magic. That provoked no memory from her. She asked if I knew this Tory well, and why would she know of blood magic. I said it was possibly too complicated to explain now, since we had other priorities. I asked her to look through the library to see what she could find of the Wild Hunt, mentioning some of the names that he night have been known by, such as Gwyn ap Nudd. I also asked her to look into psychopomps in general. I was not sure if the Huntsman came into that category, but it was the nearest I could think of.
Her first night in the castle had been spent in the cellars, so I suggested she use one of the bunks by my desk and gave her directions, should she need rest. That done, I left her to her research and went in search of books elsewhere in the library. I did not want to get into the subject of blood magic with her any further, and guessed that such things might be held in the more secure parts of the castle. I did not find much, so decided to get some rest and ask Maric about such things when we had more time.