Faerie Queen Revisited

And once again, I have been to the Queen’s chambers. Once again, we have shared our energies, and now she has offered me something new and wonderful, to quicken the Wyld in me, so that I might gain the full benefit of my heritage. Quite what this means, I do not know, but if it is my mother’s heritage that she meant, then that is something I would gladly embrace.

I was in the main hall of the castle, grumbling and muttering to myself as I tried to work out what the hell I was. While Maric might have an extensive library, I doubted there was anything to help me work out my own peculiar situation, my own peculiar mix of vampire, fae, and whatever the hell Alec was. I was so frustrated that I actually picked up the largest volume I could find and banged myself on the head with it, hoping maybe it would dislodge something and help things fall into place. As I was putting it back, I heard Aoibheann asking me if I could have a word, and, presumably referring to the head-banging, if I could read things like that. I chuckled and said I wished it were that simple, as it would save me a great deal of time. She asked me if I had seen Valene since before she went to see Faermorn, and had I heard anything since. She was pouring a glass of wine, so I asked her to pour me one too, before going over to relate my tale.

I told her that I had taken Valene to Faermorn and had ended up staying the night there, but I hadn’t been there since. This was clearly news to her, then she mentioned that Rhys and Ianto had cried out in pain, saying something about Valene being in mourning. That did not surprise me, as I had thought at the moment that Valene screamed, that the rest of the Cait would feel it. Aoibheann looked worried and started to ask – was Faermorn…

I told her not to worry, Faermorn had been alive when I left her. I proceeded to tell her of what had happened, starting with reminding her about the time that Valene had said that she could no longer sense Faermorn, that their bond had been broken. Faermorn had said the same thing to me, which is why she had asked me to bring Valene to her, so that they could renew their bond. I told her how excited Valene had been and how happy Faermorn was to be reunited with her. I explained how they had needed me to steady them while they renewed the bond, and how Faermorn had put a lot of her essence into Valene to do the renewal, plus how I had caught some of that essence too. I told her about Faermorn saying that she would soon have to go to the Mother, and how both of us had thought for a moment that she was dying there and then, which is why Valene screamed out. I did say how Faermorn had been weakened by the process, although she had been alive when I left, and how she had spoken of going to join the Mother. Aoibheann looked a little upset, and I could not blame her, I still felt a little sad myself. She said that she would miss Faermorn, and wondered who, if anybody, could replace her.

I agreed that we would all miss her, especially as I was just getting to know her, the woman as well as the Queen. I took Aoibheann’s hand and placed it over my heart. I explained how Faermorn had placed a part of herself in me, and a lot more in Valene, so she could never be truly gone from us, not while Valene and I were alive, as part of her would always be here. I didn’t know what, if anything, Faermorn had given to Aoibheann when she and Gwyn had visited, but even so, Faermorn would always be here, and here, I said, touching her on the head and above the heart. While we continued to be a part of this land, Faermorn would always be with us.

I had meant it to be comforting, but Aoibheann burst into tears, saying that she wanted to see Faermorn again, and she wanted to get something from her box before she did. I held her until she managed to stop crying, wiping her eyes with a cloth that one of the servants brought her. I reminded her that Faermorn was not gone yet, and if she wanted to see her, I would gladly take her there as I would like to see her again too.

We walked down to the bridge, where she put her hands inside Ardan somehow, bringing out something small, wrapped in a piece of cloth. I waited discreetly, not watching. I guessed this was where she kept her box of treasures, but allowed her some privacy. We walked further into the Unseelie side of the bridge and waited until the ravens came and took us to Faermorn’s grove. We let ourselves into the chamber, watched by the ravens, who now seemed a little more accepting of our presence, and announced ourselves quietly.

Faermorn invited us in, her voice barely a whisper, and we went through to the bed chamber. Aoibheann came in hesitantly, not wanting to come too close, and keeping her eyes lowered as if she feared to look upon Faermorn. I was less shy and walked straight over, after taking off my sword, and knelt and kissed her hand as I had previously, again, retaining hold of it. She managed a warm smile for us, and I was sure that she had perked up when I kissed her, as if she had gained some energy from it. She told us we were always welcome, then noticed that Aoibheann was hanging back and bade her come closer. I told her it was an honour to be received, explaining that Aoibheann had been concerned when the Cait got agitated, which is why we had come. Then, recognising, perhaps, a need in her, I summoned up once again that wild energy I had felt in the presence of Cernunnos, ready to give it to the queen, if she would have it.

Aoibheann moved forward and settled down by Faermorn’s offered hand, seeming to overcome her shyness and fear of protocol. She unwrapped whatever it was from the piece of cloth and offered it to Faermorn. I recognised it as the phoenix feather she had been given so long ago in Jasper Cove, for I had one very similar in my own possessions. “You can have this,” she said, shyly, “if you want,” trying so hard not to make it sound like a gift. Faermorn took it with great interest, stroking it gently, raising tiny sparks along the edge. It was a very rare and precious thing, she said, a symbol of destruction and rebirth, that could be used for so many things. Was Aoibheann sure she wanted to give up such a rare thing, to be lost forever, she asked.

That was the moment I released the energies into her. She gasped as it hit her and light played over her skin. Her eyes burned into me, promising so, so much, and much more than I could imagine. The glamour slipped away and suddenly she was a bright, burning flame, the essence of everything I could possibly desire and anything I could imagine desiring, something so primal it almost stripped away my very being. I had to fight to maintain my composure, forcing my own fae energies to settle down. This was not what I had expected behind the glamour, having thought I might perhaps see the woman she had been, but this was something else, the essence, the origin of everything. It flared for just a moment, and then she regained her control, curling up on herself for a moment. “I am too weak to stop myself entirely,” she murmured, before regaining her normal voice, perhaps a bit richer than it had been. She looked at Aoibheann and said how sweet her innocence was, and then her hand tightened on mine, saying how my essence tasted so sweet to her. She closed her eyes for a moment, gathering her strength. She had gifts for us, before she went.

Aoibheann was clearly surprised and sorely tempted, it seemed, when the glamour dropped, and strangely disappointed when it was regained. She told the queen that few things were lost forever, but did concede that some things were lost for a long time. She looked at the feather again and I wondered if she was thinking of the cycle of rebirth that the phoenix went through and hoping the same could apply to Faermorn. Certainly that idea seemed to occur to Faermorn, who thanked her, saying that maybe she was right, maybe it could rekindle her enough, along with her consort, so that she could rise and do what must be done. She thanked Aoibheann for the thought and then placed her hand over Aoibheann’s. A wisp of shadow appeared, like an insubstantial bracelet. It had once been a gift to her from the Cait King and now she wanted to give it to Aoibheann. It would open the Roads to her at will, without having the Cait there to guide her, and it would give her air to breathe.

Having taken a few moments to regain myself while Aoibheann spoke, I placed my other hand over Faermorn’s. I said that I did not quite understand what she had given to me the other night, when we were together with Valene, but I would treasure it. As to her offer of gifts, I did not know what she had in mind, but I did ask one small favour. I told her that although I had taken oath to her, everything I had said, or not said, everything I had done, I would have done anyway, without the need for magical oaths, and asked if I could be released, if it would please her to do so, so that I could continue to serve willingly. I also told her that I would always treasure that small glimpse beyond the glamour. She gripped my hand, and again there was that flow of something between us. She spoke formally, her voice, her tone sounding almost as though she were speaking in the fae tongue rather than my own. Perhaps she was, but I understood her anyway, that she was releasing me from my oaths. Then she continued in a more normal tone, smiling as she told me that she wished to Quicken the Wyld in me, the way she said it seemed to carry the implication of the capitalisation, so that my heritage could be given full bloom. If I wanted to know what the gift of fae was within me, I could partake of her to spark it alive.

I chuckled, commenting on the release by saying I was still there, even as I felt myself less burdened. For I had felt those oaths a burden, when to me, there were not needed. I told her that I did not really know what this Wyld was, much less what it would do, but if it linked me to my mother’s heritage, then I would embrace it gladly. Aoibheann, meanwhile, took the bracelet, or at least, she touched it and it flowed from Faermorn’s wrist to her own. Faermorn smiled at her and wished her good fortune on her travels and hoped that she would find her happiness. She slumped slightly then, as though wearied, and shivered, despite the warmth in the chamber. She turned to me and asked me to come to her again, when night next fell, and she would Quicken me. She shivered again and gave my hand one last squeeze before releasing it, curling up on herself. She whispered that her dark king was waiting for her and told us to be safe and well. With that, she fell into a deep sleep, much as she had done before, after the reunion.

I let her hand go, reluctantly, and then made sure that she was well covered by the blankets and furs, and had a pillow for her head. I thought for a moment what I could give to her and remembered the volume of Shakespeare’s Sonnets that I had read to her from a few evenings ago. I took that out of my bag and tucked it under the pillow, telling her to sleep well, and dream well. I kissed her on the forehead, checked the blankets again and stood up. Aoibheann added her own admonition to dream safely. I told her that we should get back before Maric started worrying unduly. And so we left, with many glances over our shoulders and returned to the village.

So, I am to be Quickened. I do not know what this might mean, save that it will be something to do with that part of me that was fae, from my mother. I also do not know what she might mean by partaking of her. Could she mean her blood, or could she mean something more, given the flashes of desire that came when she dropped her glamour. If it is the latter, then I might well be afraid, but some small part of me hopes that is so. I know that it is the glamour and more, so maybe that is what I want. I should not, for I have my own fae princess, but part of me will always wonder.

Faerie Queen – Heather Alexander

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