I have found myself being somewhat tired of late. I know that the practising of the bat form is physically demanding, though I grow better used to it in time. At least, when I am flying, I feel free, more so than when I flew the way I did before, when I was always afraid I would forget how. I feel free, unburdened by duties and loyalties, and sometimes, I find myself looking to the far horizon and wondering what lies out there. I do not think I would willingly leave here, but sometimes, it would be nice to just be me, and not have to worry about so many things. I have not slept well these last few days, and have neglected my studies, and my diary. That latter, I will try now to remedy.
I fear, sometimes, that the strain of trying to reconcile my different natures is getting to me. I suppose I should expect this. In some ways, the powers of the vampire should be the very antithesis of those of the fae. Some would say that the powers of the vampire are those of death, whereas those of the fae are of life. I am not so sure. The vampiric powers derive from the blood, which could be regarded as the essence of life. Now my first magic lessons came from Paasheeluu, and her power definitely came from death, but I did not partake of her power, save that a fragment of horn was my focus, just her teachings. My research has thus far found little of use. My situation is, if not unique, at least very rare.
Most of the time, I feel that I am integrating the aspects well. Save for those times I exercise those powers I know to be purely vampiric, such as the ones I learned before I knew I was fae, I do not distinguish between the powers when I used them. But then, I so rarely exercise any of my powers unless I have to. I guess for the same reason that I prefer to not dress in a manner that befits my station. However, lately, I have been experience fatigue, headaches and suchlike, which, sadly, I have allowed to manifest itself in occasional grumpiness.
The other day, I found the Darlings and Aoibheann down by the river. I didn’t really get much of a chance to find out what was going on, save that they had gone there in pursuit of a lost lamb and had had a bit of a spat about something – the kids, that is. All I know is that Aoibheann and Wren were in the water, and then we found Hadley entangled in the roots of a nearby tree. Between us, Aoibheann and I managed to free her, albeit somewhat bruised and having fainted. I tried to soothe things a little, talking about how we needed to try to fix this, then Aoibheann reacted, as she often does to my optimistic approach by saying that things can’t always be fixed. Words were said that left us both less than well-tempered and I fear that Wren may have taken my words as suggesting she was to blame for the accident. Aoibheann was determined to take Hadley to Ardan and spend some time there. I suggested that maybe we should have a picnic and went back to the castle for some supplies. Unfortunately, castle business intervened and I did not make it back. I do hope that Wren will still speak to me. I thought we had made progress the other day, but I fear I might have set that back a little.
I did not get much of a chance to speak with them the following day. I had heard them talking by the orchards but before I could go and see them, I was interrupted by one of the guards, warning me of a potentially hostile visitor at the Mystgate. I took a few of the guards with me and went to investigate, sending Mirko to the bell, ready to sound an alert if necessary.
What I found by the gate was a very large being, heavily armoured, very dark, but emitting an internal glow, as if he were powered by a furnace of some sort. I was reminded of the character I had seen around London sometimes, whose name I don’t recall at the moment. It was lifting one of the guards out of the way. I told it that we preferred visitors to not do that to our guards and asked what it wanted. I signalled to one of the guards that we should stand by for a stage two alert.
It put the guard down and faced me. It squatted, placed its hand a few feet off the ground and made a clawing gesture. I was not sure what to make of this. Perhaps it had lost something or it was hurt? It tried again, making a deep groaning noise, at which, black smoke and sparks emerged from its visor. It tapped itself on the chest, pointed at its eyes, made a sweeping gesture in the direction of the village, and then produced a dagger, which it waved around before putting it away again. It also repeated the hand held out flat above the ground gesture. It was looking for something, or someone, maybe a short person with a dagger. I told him that there were no such people within the village, and that I would not permit it to use any weapons there.
The smell of the smoke reached me, and something in that suggested a demonic origin, as if the general appearance had not already done so. It faced me, and somehow, looked irritated by having to play charades. This time, it tried speaking, though the noises that emerged reminded me of the times Father would be having cartloads of gravel or rubble delivered from wooden carts, rather than an actual voice. It managed two words that were comprehensible – Galyanna and Parlay.
That made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. This was clearly an emissary from Kitori, or possibly Asmodeus, and therefore dangerous. I told it that I had not seen Galyanna for some days, but if I did, I would pass on the message. I warned it that any dealings it had with Galyanna should take place outside the village. We were a peaceful people, I said, and wished to remain so. If it wished, it could return the following day and I would leave a message with the guards as to Galyanna’s response, if any. It appeared to understand and indicated that it would return to talk. It then turned and disappeared into the dusk.
I stood the guards down from high alert, but recommended they kept extra vigilance and told them to spread the word that I was to be alerted as soon as Galyanna appeared.
I went back to the village, intending to warn people of this possible threat and to report the news to Maric when he woke. On the way, I encountered Dyisi, sitting under the tree. I thanked her for obtaining the doll for Hadley and asked if I owed her anything for it. She waved that off and said that she could obtain things, other things, if I wished. I thought of the various trade goods that I had wanted to obtain, but thought this was possibly impractical, as I would need things by the cartload. One selfish thought did occur. I missed my mint imperials and had been feeling the want of them of late. While practising the bat form, I had been unable to resist the temptation to consume, as bats do, moths and other flying insects. Even with a good brushing of teeth and a glass of rum after, that is still a hard taste to get out of one’s mouth. I didn’t tell her about the bat thing, but did ask if she could obtain the mints, which she reckoned she could. I would have spoken more on trade, but the guard alerted me to the presence of Galyanna down by the gate.
I went to see her and told her what had passed. She was not best pleased. She had been quite jovial when I arrived, at least, as jovial as she ever is, but as soon as I told her about the demon, she switched into full warrior mode. She partly drew her sword and went immediately to the gate, facing out, searching. She told me to put the village on lockdown and that I was not to let any of the guards go with her, or patrolmen. I was not entirely happy about letting her go on her own, but deferred to her greater experience. I was more than happy to not let any patrolmen go with her. I told her to be careful and asked that she tell the guards when it was safe to stand down the alert if I was not around.
I went back to the village and sounded the alert, telling everybody to get inside. I found Wren, Hadley and Aoibheann in Dorina’s cottage, apparently cooking something, so I told them to stay inside or return to the castle as soon as possible.
What passed, I do not yet know, as I have not seen Galyanna since. I heard the all-clear sounded some time after she left, and the guards tell me that she returned safely and told them to sound it. I will have to see what happened next time I see her.
Horace came to see me in the morning, to talk about Faermorn. I had asked him to do so after the incident with Gwrgi, but had not had opportunity until now. He declined coffee, saying he had already drunk too much at the tavern, and asked what I knew of Faermorn.
I decided to level with him, and told him of my part-fae nature, and how Faermorn had helped me to reconnect with that shortly before she departed. I explained briefly the nature of the fae afterlife, such as I knew of it, and then told him that she still visited me in my dreams, although it was more real than that.
She did the same to him, he said, visiting him in his dreams. She had told him he could help to restore her, but he needed some items to do so. His first task, he said, was to recover the stolen branch of the Mallorn tree from Esterwell and bring it back here.
That would be no easy task, I said. I told him that I would ask if he was sure, but I knew, from my own experience, that he would do anything for her. I asked that he keep me advised of his plans. While the Damondreds themselves could no longer come here, they could send others, and I would want to be prepared. I offered what help I could and asked what other items he needed.
He declined any assistance on the ground. It would be a hit and run operation, he said. The other item was the red stone, part of that which had imprisoned Faermorn on the side of the sea-monster. He needed to speak to Vedis or Galyanna in order to obtain this.
He looked down at his hands. He was already changing, it seemed, and he did not know how the restoration of Faermorn would change him further, or how it would affect the Summerlands. I did not know either, but I had to take a pragmatic approach. I told him how Gwyneth and Janus had built a new Summerlands, as the land that was part of Faermorn was no longer. They were the monarchs now and anything concerning the fae monarchy was their business to sort out. My business was the protection of Mysthaven. I felt a slight twinge at that, since I loved Gwyneth and, in a different way, Faermorn and did not want to see conflict. But then, surely Faermorn knew she could not regain the throne. I could not think how that would work and put the matter aside for the moment. I told Horace that I had known the wrath of the Damondreds, so I admired his bravery in even thinking of going up against them.
He shook his head, saying he had seen brave men, but he was something else. He had seen the horrors of war, he had seen no-mans-land, and after that, he could do anything. He stood to go, saying he would keep me advised of his plans and thanked me for my offer of assistance.
I stood too and saluted him before shaking his hand. Nevertheless, I told him, I still admired his courage. I said I would speak to Vedis about the stone and repeated that if there was anything he needed, to let me know.
He left then, and I sat for a while considering. Up until now, I had been less than patient with him, finding his attitudes irritating, but now I had new respect for him. I was still concerned as to the nature of his mission. Had she truly visited him, or was he under some elf-struck delusion? I would have to try to go to Faermorn in my dreams soon.
Later that day, I joined Wren, Hadley and Aoibheann for archery practice. I fear I may have accidentally started a competition of some sort, since my first arrow flew true and hit dead centre of the gold. That was a bit of a fluke, however, and subsequent shots were more consistent with my normal skill. Wren and Aoibheann both managed to hit the target and even Hadley did after one or two false starts. Everybody seemed relaxed, so I didn’t pursue any of the questions I had for Wren, and the evening passed quite pleasantly.