Self Control

I have not often considered the matter of self-control, at least, not in respect of my beast. Come to that, I have not often considered the matter of my beast much at all. I know it is there, lurking, especially when things are stressful, but somehow, I am always able to command it. Well, so far at least. That does strike me as odd, since I am told that my bloodline is particularly prone to frenzying. And yet it hasn’t happened, so far.

I was asked about self-control last night, in the tavern. Doing my rounds, as usual, ending up in the tavern, I found Dori there, on her own. I greeted her and remembering her request from the night before the encounter with the Huntsman, reminded her that she wished to discuss private business with me.  She agreed that she did, but it was very private.

I gestured at Hal to go check stock in the cellar or some such, and even sent Royce off to lurk in the shadows. Once we were alone, she told me that she had a situation and I was the only one, apart from Vedis, she felt she could trust. She asked me if I knew a vampire that I could trust. I avoided smiling too much and said that I could probably do that, but asked why she wanted a vampire.

She told me that she was not the most liked thing around. She had survived, with the help of her father, but now she was a long way from him. My first thought was that she was perhaps a ghoul, in need of a top-up dose of vitae. I suggested this, but she said that she did not feed from him. She then asked if I was human. I told her that I was human born, but not so any more and smiled, revealing the fangs. I said that I hoped that answered her question, adding that I would be grateful if she kept that to herself, since it alarmed some people.

While I was answering that, I caught a flash of something from Maric, but all I could work out was that it was something to do with Aoibheann, and caught glimpses of happiness and sunshine. I wasn’t at all sure whether sunshine and a happy vampire belonged together, but it was just a passing thought rather than a specifically aimed message, so I ignored it for now.

She confused me then, asking if I had heard of a dhampir then, presumably thinking that was what I meant. I had heard the word, reading through stuff in the library, but all I knew was that a dhampir was a creature born of the union of a vampire and a human, and that this was part of the folklore of the Balkans. As for myself, I was a full vampire, I told her. I left out the bit about having a heartbeat and breathing, since that was probably too confusing to explain, especially as I don’t really understand it myself. I then reminded her that she had said she trusted me and had asked for a vampire she could trust.

She reacted happily, hugging me, but then apologising. Where she came from, dhampirs were not liked, and most vampires considered them abominations to be destroyed. She asked what I knew and I told her that I had already said what I knew. Thinking then that she may need to feed, I asked if she required blood. She told me that she did not. What she did tell me was that within the dhampir, there were two warring sides, forever fighting for control. It sounded very much to me like the fight we vampires have with our beast and told her a little about that.  She said that her father had taught her some mental control techniques to keep her beast under control, but now that wall, as she called it, was crumbling and she was afraid of losing control. She had done so once already, during the fight against the sluagh. Vedis had given her some help too, but she was afraid it wasn’t enough. Vedis had also told her that she would have to come to terms with that side of herself, but she did not like that, since she had seen what that side could do.

I was not sure what to tell her. I had learned some self-control once Mother coaxed me out of the bottle after Alex died, and more when I had to pass for human in my early years as a vampire, when I was still on board the ship. I also thought of the defences against mental attack I had been taught, back in my days in London. So, lacking anything else, I told her about those things and offered to tell her how I did it, if she so wished.

Mention of my mother sent her off on a tangent and she asked if I remembered my mother’s name. I was surprised by that question and wondered aloud why I shouldn’t. I told her that I did indeed know my mothers name and told her briefly of the family history I had researched. Getting back tot the matter of controlling the beast, I said that I would consult, on a confidential basis, of course, with somebody who might know more.

While I was answering her, another thought from Maric came into my head. He was about to go and visit Vedis to discuss our mutual survival strategy and told me I was charged with the safety of Mysthaven and Aoibheann while he was away, which wouldn’t be for long. I replied that it both were always in my care. I added that I had some questions about controlling the beast and also wondered if he knew anything of dhampirs. He answered that he could educate me on both, later.

Returning my attention to Dori, I said that I would have to consult, since my knowledge was not great, explaining how I had not seen my sire since a couple of days after my embrace. I promised I would keep her identity a secret as far as was possible. She was clearly worried that anybody I asked might have the same destructive attitude to her. She asked if I didn’t have a mental connection to my sire. All I could say to that was that I believed such things required a blood bond, and I had not had the chance to bond with Katharina. However, I knew that such things were possible. I didn’t mention that I knew it from personal experience, again, to avoid complicated explanations.

I would have spoken more of bonds and such like, but my watch reminded me that I was due back at the castle to talk to the servants, so I bade her have a good evening and departed, back to my steward’s duties.

 Self Control

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Distant Cousins

I should, by now, be used to Aoibheann’s thought processes and her tortuous logic, but sometimes she manages to make a logical leap that baffles me. Quite how she got from a casual comment about the possibility of Dori and I being distant kin to worrying that I was going to break up with Gwyn, I do not really know.

I had tired of the endless paperwork, and so I took myself down towards the tavern for a change of scenery and a drink. Before I got to the tavern, I encountered Dorina, hanging around outside, looking thoughtful. She was slightly startled when I greeted her, but relaxed when she saw it was me, but was still a little wary of somebody, and I realised that Aoibheann had followed me, unseen, out of the castle. I made introductions and in answer to Aoibheann’s whispered question, confirmed that Dori was a visitor from the demon isle. I did not venture an opinion on whether or not Dori was also a demon, since I had no view on that myself.

I then explained to Aoibheann that Dori and I had been trying to work out if we were distantly related, since we had the same style and colour of hair and both had ancestors from Ireland. She seemed to take this quite the wrong way, saying that she imagined it would be distant enough, but it didn’t matter because of me and Gwyn. I was not quite sure what she meant by this, or what my relationship with Gwyn might have to do with me possibly having distant kinship to Dori. It was only later that I wondered if she had perhaps thought that the only reason we might want to work out our kinship was to see if we were too close kin to enter into a relationship. But, since I was with Gwyn, it didn’t matter because I wasn’t going to get into a relationship. I know that she probably thinks I am too much the ladies’ man because of my closeness with Valene and Helene, but that doesn’t mean I am going to throw myself at every attractive woman that comes to this land. I have to keep reminding myself that she comes from a different era, and perhaps a different land than the one I knew. Given that she seemed slightly worried about my relationship with Gwyn, I did tell her that we had managed to get some time together the previous evening. Perhaps she took some comfort from that.

We took ourselves over to the tavern, partly because it was warmer there, and partly because Dori seemed nervous that there was someone about other than the three of us. We sat down and ordered drinks. Dori asked for the strongest we had, so I had Hal bring her some of the special rum, thinking she might appreciate it. Discussion turned to the matter of the sluagh and whether it was their queen or their captain that had been responsible for the attack. Aoibheann and I were both certain that it was down to Braeden. I learned that she had invited him to the tea-party too, but he had not turned up. When I asked her how the party had gone, she would only say that the Huntsman had come, but had been offended by the sluagh queen and then everybody had left. From her manner, I guessed that there was more to it than that. I doubted that the Huntsman would easily take umbrage, and if he did, there would surely have been more of a mess about the place. Aoibheann seemed to know a bit more than she was letting on, telling us that the sluagh queen could feel the madness of others, and that Braeden was capable of inspiring great madness. I could not disagree with that bit, as he had never struck me as being entirely sane.

Unfortunately, I was not able to continue the discussion, interesting though it was, as I had business to attend to in the castle. As they say, there’s no rest for the wicked. I wonder what it was that I did.

It was some time later that I returned to the tavern. There I ran into Helene, who was conducting a new arrival around the village.  A red-haired lady of the fae persuasion, judging by the wings, whose name I later learned was Fate. I made the introductions and gave her the usual welcoming speech, in which I included an offer to make introduction for her, if she was inclined to meet with any of the fae courts. I asked if she wanted anything to eat or drink and she just asked for some honey and nuts and a glass of mead. There was something vaguely familiar about her, but I could not place it, though the comment she made about being from a place that was dark and cold did put me in mind of my time in London. She was obviously tired from her journey here, so once Hal had served her with the food and drink she wanted, I directed her to the guest cottage, telling her to make herself comfortable there.

Helene told me that she was ready to test her potion, and asked if I could get word to Valene. I directed Royce, who had been sitting on my shoulder, to pass on the message. He gave me his well-practised grumpy look, reminded me that he wasn’t a messenger boy, and then padded off into the shadows. Helene was still not entirely happy about the idea of testing the potion on Valene and so I wondered if perhaps one of the other cait could be persuaded.  Ket’Lyn had arrived by this time, and she was of the opinion that the cait would do anything for a free meal. I had to disagree with her there, knowing the cait to be independent and not overly biddable. I only got away with it because of my special relationship with Valene. She shrugged and turned her attention to Helene, snuggling up to her and giving her a kiss. Helene blushed slightly, and I got the impression that this was not the first time they had been intimate. Quite what the nature of that was, I did not get a chance to find out, as once again, I had to return to the castle to sort something out with the servants. Once, I would have been more worried, but I knew that Helene was no longer the innocent she had been when I had known her in London. She did not seem overly worried by Ket’Lyn’s attentions, and so I left them to it. It wasn’t really my business anyway, at least, not until it affected the smooth running of the village, which somehow I doubted it would.

The subject of intimacies came up the following evening. Aoibheann came and found me in the tavern, as is so often the case, and clearly she had something on her mind. It took some persuading and a glass of mead for her to tell me what was up. She told me she had written three goodbye letters to Maric, but had then burned them. She could not leave him, she said, but she could not stay either, because of Ket’Lyn and Lucis. I was not sure what to make of this, and double-checked that it was Lucis she meant and not Umbra. She assured me that it was Lucis. When I asked what the problem was, she blushed and prevaricated for a while before telling me that the two of them kept trying to get her alone. It was clear from her discomfort that this ‘alone’ time included attempted and unwelcome intimacy. She was afraid to tell Maric in case he reacted badly to this and that might adversely affect the alliance with the demons. She said that everybody had told her that the alliance was necessary for mutual survival, so if she left, then that conflict would be removed and the alliance would stand. She didn’t sound entirely convinced that the alliance was a good thing, which accorded, in part, with my view, but she didn’t want to jeopardise it.

I told her that I wasn’t entirely convinced by the alliance either, but until I had the chance to discuss the terms of it with Maric, I did not know what it would entail and what the costs might be. However, I was fairly sure that Maric would have included Aoibheann’s safety in the agreement, and if he had not yet agreed terms, I would make sure that was included. I told her that Ket’Lyn likely had no malice intended, and that it was her nature to try to seduce. Aoibheann’s beauty and innocence would no doubt appeal.  After much persuasion, Aoibheann eventually agreed to let me speak to Ket’Lyn, to see if I could get her to leave Aoibheann alone. We agreed to not tell Maric for the meantime, at least, not until relations with the demons were more formalised.

That agreed; she made another of those logical leaps that are so characteristic, and asked if I had had a chance to work on the story about the blue penguins in the desert. I apologised that I had not yet had the time to look at it, but that I would. She said that she would also try to write a story and we could then see which one worked best. She then admitted that her motivation was to read stories to the Huntsman, because he apparently enjoyed stories, and perhaps it would distract him from trying to tear her apart. Since we were on the subject of the Huntsman, she told me that this was one of the reasons she wanted to go and see Ardan, because she had had a vision in which the Huntsman had touched the tree and it had left a black mark. We talked of what the Huntsman might want with the tree, and why he had given it to her. I opined that he might be seeking redemption, but she said that it was more that he sought to return home, wherever that was. Given that I had seen Alec, or rather, the Boatman come out of the tree, I wondered if it was a portal of some sort. She also told me that another reason she wanted to see Ardan was because she was afraid that the Mallorn trees, which are necessary for the existence of Faerie, were in danger, and thus, Faerie was in danger too.

With that, she excused herself back to the castle, leaving me to contemplate on the nature and purpose of the Huntsman, why he had given her the seedling to grow the tree and what connection it had to Alec and the Boatman. Much as I tried, I could not come to any sensible conclusions, and so retired to my bed, to think afresh another day.

 Distant Cousins – singing Raise It Up

Galway Bay

I wish I had researched my family tree some more, especially given what I know now, or at least, suspect, about Mother’s ancestry. It was quite the project in my teens, and I managed to trace Father’s side back to the late 18th century. Mother’s side was trickier, with a lot of her side of the family being Irish. I only got back as far as her grandmother, who came from a place called Knocknacarra, near Galway. Sadly, we never managed to get over there on a family holiday, which could have allowed me to research further, and my sea-faring days only ever took me as far as Dublin. Had I managed to do some research, it might have been trickier than I imagined, once we started getting into the fae side of things. From my experience of the Seelie Court here, they seem to be quite keen on records, but letting a mere mortal have access to them would probably be unlikely. Of course, in those days, I would have laughed and poured scorn on the idea that my ancestry was anything other than human.

The subject of ancestry came up the other night. I found Dori wandering around near the castle and went to ask if there was anything she wanted, or if she had another message from Vedis. She had not seen Vedis since I had seen her, but did volunteer to deliver any message if I had one. I did not, but did say that any healers they could spare would be greatly welcomed. She was playing with her hair as we spoke, and I noticed how very similar it was to my own. I made a joke about how we looked as though we could be related and asked if she had any family from Kent or Galway.

She had apparently been thinking much the same thing. Like me, she got her hair colouring from her mother, but her family were from Donegal. She asked whereabouts in Galway I was from, then added, that she hoped it wasn’t an odd question, when I was from. I had to chuckle at the latter, but then; she had no way of knowing that it wasn’t even a remotely odd question so far as I was concerned. I told her about Father’s family being from Kent, with ancestors in Wales and Plymouth, and that Mother’s family were from the aforementioned Knocknacarra near Galway. Moving onto the when question, I told her the year of my birth, and that two or three years had passed since I last knew the absolute year, that being 1892. I further explained, citing my conversation with the phoenix and various other flimsy evidence, my conjecture that we were currently somewhen contemporaneous with the 15th century. I added that his was purely guesswork, but was as good a guess as I could manage.

Wherever, and indeed, whenever, she was from, she wasn’t the least bit fazed by my answer, so I had to assume she had been through similar travels to my own. Her view was that this place seemed to be apart from time, very different from what she was used to, although, wherever that was, they had stories about places like this. She was most intrigued by the various creatures here and expressed the wish that she could get to her laboratory to study things. I asked if she was a scientist but she would only admit to that being one of the many hats she wore. She then changed the subject by asking if she could guess what I was. I told her she could go ahead, but to ignore the clothing, as that definitely was not me, especially the sluagh blood, which still dotted my clothes here and there.

She looked me over, carefully, walking around and examining me quite closely. I don’t know if she was using any supernatural powers. If she was, they were not ones that I could sense. After a few moments, she asked me if I had been the captain of a ship. She did not see me as a pirate, so wondered if I was part of some army.

I laughed and told her that while I had read pirate stories as a child, I was anything but. I told her about being a senior officer on a merchant vessel, how I had originally trained as an accountant, and how I came to be steward of the village. She said that she had seen me as a natural leader, but admitted that was slightly cheating, since she had seen me dealing with the villagers and organising things around the village. She then said that she wanted to ask another question, if I wouldn’t be offended. She asked if I had been a parental figure.

I thought about that for a moment, then I told her about Arthur, how his mother had died, and how it came to be that my son was adopted by my brother and his wife. So, I was a parent, but not much of a parental figure. Thinking about it later, I suppose I have played somewhat of a parental role to the various children here and back in Jasper Cove, so maybe I was undervaluing my parental status.

She apologised for bring up a sensitive subject, but I told her it was not a problem. She then asked me to make similar guesses about her. This would have been quite entertaining, had I the time, but since I did not, I told her that I would apply my detective skills later, maybe over a drink in the tavern. She seemed agreeable to that, so I left her to her business while I went about mine.

 Galway Bay