I really need to find more time to spend with Wren. She has much to learn, aside from the mathematics lessons I keep threatening her with. She has learned a lesson recently, though, and that is that licking fairies is a bad idea.
I had been rushing around like a blue-arsed fly, to borrow a phrase from Father, organising the moving of our supplies out of the vaults, when I saw Dyisi and Wren sitting under the tree. I thought I would allow myself the luxury of a short break to go and talk to them. But, when I sat down, I was worried. Wren wasn’t making a lot of sense, and her eyes were odd, her pupils dilated as though she had taken something. I was reminded a little of people I had met in opium dens in Amsterdam. Dyisi told me that she had ingested some fairy dust, but did not venture an explanation as to how this came to be. She was rooting in her pouch for something to help bring Wren down.
Wren herself definitely seemed to be under the influence of something. As well as the wide eyes, she was staring around, clearly fascinated by the castle. She was muttering about it being alive. It was breathing, she said, and only living things did that. I was curious to see if the faerie dust had opened her senses in much the same way as the wyld had opened mine, even before Maric had taught me the blood connection with the castle. She then saw me and started giggling, telling me she had licked a faerie. Her attention, her fascination, then switched to my hair, telling me it was so, so red, like I had a living fire on my head, and asking if she could touch it.
Dyisi, meanwhile was rummaging in her pouch, talking to it as if she had something living in there. I sat a bit closer to Wren and said she could touch my hair if she wished. She started saying it moved like the hair of the little mermaid under water. I guessed that she was referring to the Hans Christian Andersen tale, even if all the illustrations I had ever seen had showed her with dark hair. I wondered if perhaps in Wren’s time, they had made some moving pictures of the tale. My hair, though, she was saying, was like blood, but it must be good blood because it was so bright. I was definitely getting flashbacks to those few occasions I had experimented with opium. I agreed with her that the castle did indeed live, but it lived slowly, as stone would have to live, but it also probably echoed with all the lives that had lived in the castle. She told me that it was very alive, and that it was talking, except she didn’t speak castle, so she could not tell what it was saying. She seemed pleased that I agreed that it was alive. Then, she said, it could perhaps fix itself. So, I guessed she could pick up on the taint too.
Dorina turned up and greeted us. She looked distracted and said she had a favour to ask of me, but that it would have to wait, as she had things to deal with at the edge of the village. I felt a pang of guilt, because I had just not had the time to sit down with her and talk about controlling her beast, and told her to come and see me as soon as she had a moment. She asked if Wren could look in on Hadley and make sure that she ate something as she might be back late.
Dyisi finished rummaging in her pouch and produced a filled pipe, which she offered to Wren, saying that she should smoke it when she was ready to come down again. Wren had, by now, turned her attention to the tree, saying that it too was crying and was in pain. She did not want to feel any of that anymore. The pain, she said was something she could feel, but she did not speak tree either, so she did not know what it was saying. Clio, she said, had told her that the sickness could spread to the Summerlands and then we would be in trouble. Clio! I had heard rumours that there was a new faerie in town and I wondered if it was the same Clio who had collided with the tavern back in Jasper Cove so long ago, and who had delighted Aoibheann so much. If it was, it would explain the fairy dust. I made a mental note to admonish her about messing with the youngsters.
I hugged Wren and assured her that Maric, Dyisi and I were working on ways of healing and removing the sickness that was affecting the castle and the trees. We would deal with it, I said, but for now, she should concentrate on getting better herself. I did not much like the idea of a child so young smoking a pipe, but if that was the delivery method Dyisi had made, then we didn’t have a lot of choice. Dorina was not impressed either and told us not to let Hadley anywhere near that shit before drifting off to presumably deal with whatever other things she had to do.
Wren took a drag at the pipe and coughed. I chuckled internally and remembered my first attempts at smoking, way back when I was a student and feeling rebellious. I told her the best ways to inhale until she got used to it, much as I had learned, and that seemed to make things easier for her. After a few puffs, I could see that she was starting to come down somewhat. I left her then in Dyisi’s care, for I still had much to do around the village. Dyisi, I trusted, and knew she would take care of Wren as much as was needed. For now, there were other things I had to do.