There is a word I learned from the German language. That word is wanderlust, a strong desire to travel or to explore the world. It is a useful word that has no direct equivalent in English, though I can see this German word being borrowed, as it scarcely needs translation. I have been suffering from it somewhat more than normal of late. Perhaps it is because I am now possessed of a ship and could go anywhere, though that is less of an excuse as I have long had the ability to go where I may choose, via the roads or by walking the realms. Tonight, however, there is a heavier reason – fear. A fear that would, were I not who I am, drive me far away from here.
I, of all people, should know that the physical is not all there is of a man, or indeed any being. I have conversed with my late mother. I have spoken and more with my beloved Faermorn since she passed beyond the veil. And they are but two that I have had direct experience of since their supposed deaths. And yet, I allowed myself to believe that we were, at last, free of the late Unseelie King. It was naïve of me. I may have boiled the bastard’s brains, kicked his head into a volcano and left the rest for the crows, but was that enough? I am not so sure.
Having concluded my negotiations with the Cait, and spent much needed time in the arms of my loving wife, I had to return to the business at hand. I sent word to Lord Mornoth, via a wisp, that the Cait were agreeable to our request and that we should stand ready to carry out the extraction of the demifae. All I could do, then, was wait.
It was Dyisi who came to me. She found me outside the castle, standing by the well and gazing to the far horizon. I was in need of direction, she had been told.
I joked that this had often been said of me over the years, and that I had often felt the lack of it, a sorry state for one who had trained as a navigator. Her comment, I suspect, was of a less rhetorical nature and so I returned to the matter at hand. The finding the location of the demifae queen so that I could guide Lord Mornoth and his men through the Shadow Roads to capture her.
She could serve either purpose, she said, but Lord Mornoth’s requirement should be attended to. All she required was water, she told me, and warned me that I should pay close attention.
I chuckled and indicated that I was standing by a well. I did comment that I had wondered how the well still worked, given we were on a lump of rock floating in the air, but did not discuss it further, in case the rock heard me. I drew a bucket of water and passed it to her, settling myself down to see what might be seen. Her admonition was unnecessary, as I am not unversed in water divination.
She placed the bucket securely on the ground so that it would not be disturbed and began to stir it with her staff, again, warning me to pay attention. I could see her preparing for the trance-like state required and prepared myself likewise as she called the name of the one she sought.
The water turned somehow oily and dark and images began to appear. Deep tunnels, dark tunnels, tunnels that went far beyond any I had seen under the Faerie lands. Tunnels that led further into the Underdark, which place I knew little of save that it extended under the Weald. A not unlikely place for the Demifae queen to hide, given her recent allies. And there she was, communing with that monstrous offshoot of the Sithen rose, no doubt planning and plotting her next treachery…
And then, of a sudden, it was gone, the tunnel, the rose and the queen. Instead, a vision of another place, of two men. Two faces I had not seen in many a day or even year. One, the sorcerer or demon, I knew not which, Padishar. The other, the figure of Llwyd, or something much like him, yet strangely distorted. The water rippled and gave forth voices. Llwyd, demanding of Padishar, the wretched mage, he called him, that he free him from his prison or be dragged down. The voice changed then, freezing my blood in its coldness and ice, a voice I had hoped never to hear again, that of Gwythyr shouting that he would take them both. Give in and be done with it, he said. Llwyd’s body shuddered with the intrusion and again demanded freedom of the mage…
What more passed, I could not tell, for the vision shattered and Dyisi collapsed, gasping for breath and shaking with the terror and fear that had emanated from the vision. I rushed to help her up, remembering just in time not to touch her flesh with my bare hand. I shouted to Mirko and Vasily to come help. I instructed Vasily to take care of Dyisi, give her water or whatever else she needed. Mirko I sent to summon Kustav and the stewards. I needed to meet with them as soon as possible. While I waited for them, I summoned two more wisps and bade them send word to Mornoth and Gwyn, explaining what we had seen and suggesting we meet to discuss the situation as soon as possible.
There was not much I could say to my stewards, other than putting them on alert that we might not have seen the last of the Unseelie King as we had thought. Perhaps there was no immediate threat, but they should be on the lookout for any manifestations that might indicate his activity. Otherwise, there was not a lot we could do. I bade them to keep it to themselves as far as possible, as I did not want to alarm the staff or the villagers. I don’t know what else I can do. LLwyd, I had thought safe in the tender care of Vedis. Perhaps I need to speak to her.