Stolen Child

My navigation, via the mists or the Shadow Roads, is not always reliable. I took myself to Mysthaven again, seeking answers regarding the carrots, among other things. At least, that was my intention, but something drew me elsewhere, to one of the gates in Faerie. And there I found what in the present circumstance counted as a crowd. There was Aoibheann, clutching a carrot to her as one might carry a child, and a creature resembling a unicorn. The latter, I guessed, by her manner of movement, and later, her speech, to be Mika, albeit in an unfamiliar shape. There was another; a man of somewhat disreputable appearance, so I hesitated to give him the accolade of gentleman. Him I did not know, though there was something about him that seemed familiar. He did not seem pleased to be there, nor did he seem pleased to encounter Aoibheann, much less myself. And, if we did not know him, he appeared to know us. He expressed his displeasure in somewhat colourful and exasperated language, addressing me as Lord of the roses and misty villagers, which, while not strictly my title, was at least broadly accurate. He also seemed to be annoyed at the lack of drink in the vicinity. In speaking, he revealed himself to be that feckless black stallion, Anathema wearing his other skin.

Mika bounced around excitedly in a manner more suited to her ferret shape than a unicorn, pawing at Anathema’s cheap suit and chattering about him having no manners and shouting at trees. She also seemed tempted by the idea of a party, though in her case, if this shape was anything like the ferret, I fancied she would be more excited by candy than wine.

Aoibheann, meanwhile, was more excited by the fact that there were so many people in one place, taking that as a possible sign that the land was awakening. The idea that Anathema had been shouting at the trees particularly interested her, and she asked what he had said and if they had replied. I felt sorry for her if he had, given that she herself had been unable to communicate with her children. She was less certain about his description of his current shape as his other skin, imagining that he maybe had killed and skinned somebody for it. He protested this, explaining that he was a shape-shifter, not a skin-walker. I’m not sure that she understood the difference. I do not know why not. It is not as if she has no experience of beings that wear different shapes at times.  Maric and myself for two, although neither of us ever skinned anybody for it. Check that. I have never skinned anybody. I am not so sure I can claim that for Maric.

I could not help but be mildly amused. “Last time I saw you,” I replied to him, “you had more legs and borrowed my son for some,” I hesitated, trying to think of some way of putting it that wouldn’t offend Aoibheann, “interesting times.” He protested that the bargain with Eilian had been fair and square, and that the interesting times had been the price for riding him. I replied that I did not doubt the validity of the bargain; moreover, I thought that my son would have learned a useful life lesson from it. Given that everybody was somewhat focused on the idea of drink, particularly mead, I suggested that there might be some in the tavern. After all, if there was somebody around growing carrots, I said, or at least, carrot-shaped things, then possibly somebody would have stocked the tavern with mead. Mika liked that idea, as did Anathema.

Aoibheann held the carrot closer to her chest, saying that carrots did not usually have fangs. She said that she had intended to help the carrot to find its name, but was now worried that she had stolen it, stolen a child from its parents. The Wyld had affected more than the roses, she offered by way of explanation. There was something unknown, some new danger lurking in my realm. Given my thoughts regarding the Kraken-like disturbances, this was not exactly news to me. I acknowledged this was likely, but I would have to wait and see what it might be, so long as it wasn’t the late and unlamented former king. I eyed her pet carrot, more bemused than anything. I suggested that I would maybe have similar facility with the carrots as I did with the roses. They knew me well enough, and if they were kin to the carrots, then perhaps the carrots would know me in some distant way. It would be worth investigating when I was back at the village. On that thought, I suggested that we return to village in the hope of maybe finding the mead that everybody, save myself, was keen to find.

Or, at least, that was my plan. I parted the veil with the intention of stepping back to the village, leaving them to follow, or make their way there by their own means, but again, my navigation failed me and I found myself back in Awenia. Or, perhaps it was not my error, for as soon as I set foot in my home, I was set upon by Clutie and Bran with various household matters of urgency. None, to my mind were so urgent that they could not have waited for Gwyn to return from wherever, but I have long since learned there is no arguing with them once they get ideas in their heads. By the time it was all sorted to their satisfaction, it was long past the time when it would have been worth returning to the tavern. I shall have to visit Mysthaven soon to see if tge roses, or the carrots, could tell me what is about the land. Or, maybe I would rather not know. I would probably not, but I am Lord of Mysthaven, so I have little choice in that respect, and even if I were not, I still doubt I would have the choice. There is a duty on me, and that has nothing to do with titles. It never has.

Stolen Child

 

 

 

 

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Spread Your Wings

faeriequeene

LO I the man, whose Muse whilome did maske,
As time her taught, in lowly Shepheards weeds,
Am now enforst a far vnfitter taske,
For trumpets sterne to chaunge mine Oaten reeds,
And sing of Knights and Ladies gentle deeds;
Whose prayses hauing slept in silence long,
Me, all too meane, the sacred Muse areeds
To blazon broad emongst her learned throng:
Fierce warres and faithfull loues shall moralize my song.

Edmund Spenser – The Faerie Queene

There is a wish that most rational beings, or at least those that have survived into some measure of adulthood, have expressed at some point or other in their lives. It has been expressed in many forms, but the general thrust is “I wish I had known then what I know now.”  It is a natural enough wish, whether it be about your first fumbling forays into the realm of romance or more far-reaching life choices such as marriage, moving to another country or changing career. I have, myself, indulged in such speculation in the past, but now, knowing that reality is a somewhat variable and occasionally fragile concept, I tend not to. Even more so since I gained the use of the Shadow Roads and the Realm-walking, where it would be all too easy to tamper with that reality and give my past self that knowledge. From my reading of Dee’s journal, scoundrel though he was, I know how bad this could be and so take great pains to avoid the possibility. The weakest point of my resolve in this matter is in respect of my mother. That, in many ways, would be the most dangerous area in which I could tamper. Nevertheless, I have of late wished that I had known something of my mother’s heritage while she was still alive. I wish that I had known then of her fae side and what it meant to her. Oddly, it is that most mundane of human endeavours – bureaucracy, that brings it to mind.

Gwyn and I have a meeting soon, with representatives from the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs and/or the Consilium Arcanum, to discuss the progress of moving Awenia towards becoming an open fae realm. She has even rented an AirBnB in Seattle, which is apparently some fancy way of borrowing somebody else’s dwelling for a short time. It seems a potentially unsanitary arrangement to me, but I am sure she knows best. I suppose it will afford us more privacy than a hotel.  So far as I see it, my purpose in such things is in the mundane side of things, and, dare I say, the bureaucratic elements.  I do have previous experience of negotiating trade deals, treaties, the Accords between Mysthaven and the Summerlands and such like. That experience, to my mind, is independent of what shape I wear. Gwyn, on the other hand, is quite keen that, for the purposes of these meetings, I should emphasise the fae side of my nature. Which, I suppose, is fair enough (or fairy enough, ha ha), since it is a fae realm that we will be discussing, so, I cannot disagree.

mourning locket with hair engraved

The question is, of course, what is my fae nature? As with almost everything in my life, it is complicated. In part, it comes from being consort and husband to Gwyn, my very own Faerie Queen. All that Wyld energy from our proximity, our love and our love-making cannot fail to affect me. Some comes from that other faerie queen, the late Faermorn, from the Quickening she gave me, from other times we spent together, and from my time in her realms and at the Wellspring of the Wyld. Much came from Isabella, from that chance encounter with her and Alex and me being the unintended recipient of her life-giver energy. But, even before that, there was Mother.  My mother, who I later learned was part-fae, a descendant of the Tuatha de Danann. I did not know it at the time, even though I unknowingly held the clue to it so close to my heart for many years. It was the inscription on the mourning locket I have worn so long. It was there, on the locket, in an inscription in a script I did not know.  It was an aunt from my mother’s side, Aislinn, who gave it to me after the funeral, and I never thought, in my grief, to ask her what the inscription actually said. I copied it to my notebook and occasionally asked people who had some knowledge of languages, but to no avail.

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It was only much later that I learned the reading of it – “Ida Elvine Aubrey iníon Siobhan Ní Cearbhalláin iníon Caoimhe Ní Nuadháin iníon an Rí Tuaithe Dé Danann” or “Ida Elvine Aubrey daughter of Siobhan Ní Cearbhalláin daughter of Caoimhe Ní Nuadháin daughter of the Kings of the Tuatha de Dannan.”

That was my mother’s lineage, and her fae heritage. I did not know it when she was alive, and only learned long after she passed. Now that, if anything, is something I wish I had known while she was alive.  Looking back, there were enough clues, had I had the knowing of it. Her skills with plants and with healing, her love of art and music, her affinity with nature, all pointed to something in her nature. It is no wonder that she loved to go barefoot in the woods and meadows, or encouraged me to commune with the trees. Her free spirit and her disregard for the rules of modesty, in private at least, must have stemmed from that side of her. And, now that I recall it, it seems that I never knew her to tell a lie, even when to do so might have made life easier. That she encouraged me to read Spenser’s The Faerie Queene at such a young age might have been a massive hint, again, had I had the knowing of it. Why she did not tell me, even in her last days, as the consumption took her, I do not know. Perhaps she did not wish to fill me with longing for a place and time I might never be able to reach, or perhaps she feared that the rational side of me, instilled by my father, might reject it or dismiss it as a fanciful notion of hers. I will probably never know, save that she visits my dreams again from the Summerlands, as she did one time. Even if she does not, I suppose that I can be content that she now knows, from that dream, that I at long last had realised that side of me.

idaballardphoto2 copy

Whatever her reasons, and whatever the many and various twists of fate that led me to the discovery of that part of me and the subsequent development of my fae side, I have come to terms with the existence of it. It is a part of me and I am content with that. Actively displaying it, on the other hand, I still find difficult. When the first external manifestations appeared, I had little control over them. I grew used to the ears, and the wings, appearing at inconvenient moments when the Wyld energy was strongest around me. I have since learned to control my appearance, though with nowhere the facility that Gwyn has. The ears I can manage easily enough, but the wings, not so much. And, for whatever reason, it is the wings that Gwyn wishes me to be more comfortable with, and to be more open with wearing them. And so, I put myself to getting used to them. Of course, even that was not as simple as it might have been. When I first earned my wings, so to speak, they were a dark brooding red and feathered. Gwyn did not approve of those at all. I cannot say that I blame her, for they do look more suited to a demon or at best, a fallen angel.

darkfae_001

And so, it was time to try on some other wings. Of course, I am used to Gwyn changing her wings almost as often as she changes her clothes, but I had not considered it in respect of my own wings, nor was I entirely sure of the method of changing them. To be perfectly honest, I am not entirely sure how I manage to manifest the ones I am used to. I just think of them and they are there. Manifesting others is another thing entirely, even if I had some inkling what style of wings I would enjoy. I remember liking the wings that Janus, our lover and the other father of our children, had, the ones that resembled sycamore keys, but somehow that just did not work at all. Gwyn lent a hand and, after a couple of attempts that made me look like some mad scientist had  been experimenting on some unwilling Lepidoptera, we settled on something that we both liked, more like, in appearance, to the Odonata, specifically, a dragonfly. These, I can live with, being far less gaudy, and, to my tastes, anyway, more pleasing and refined. I could probably do without the coruscant effects, but perhaps I will learn to control that with time.

 

nbaw_015

Despite my fears, having the wings does not appear to require me to have a whole new wardrobe, as, unlike my beloved wife for whom it is almost a religion, I am not overly fond of shopping for clothes.  Somehow or other, in a manner I do not understand, which pretty much applies to most things about the fae side of my nature, my clothes adapt to the wings, or perhaps it is the wings that adapt to the clothes. I do not know, and I am disinclined to put this to the test by trying to don or discard a jacket while I am wearing the wings. There are mornings when I have a hard enough time getting my normal limbs into trouser legs and shirt sleeves (and I have to confess, on occasions of extreme inebriation, getting legs into shirt sleeves and vice versa), let alone getting a jacket over diaphanous wings twice the length of my arms.

nbaw_020

I spent the rest of the day wandering around Awenia, getting used to the wearing of the wings. Perhaps, by the time we have our meeting, I will be as comfortable with them as I am in my own shape.

nbaw_012

Spread Your Wings

 

The Faerie Gift

((catchup post – original RP 29 Oct 14))

I would have thought, by now, that I would have become used to dealing with the fae, and in particular, the traps and pitfalls regarding gifts and gratitude. And yes, I still slip up. And now, for my sins, I appear to have a fae servant. Or possibly Maric does. Or possibly even the village. It’s somewhat hard to tell at the moment.

Her name is Adiya. She presented herself at the gates, wishing to speak with Maric, but since he was unavailable, the guards brought her to me.  Her manner was strange, for a fae, which is saying something. She was deferential, almost subservient. She even knelt to deliver her greeting. She told me that her mistress, who was a minor noble of the Summer Court, had heard of the troubles plaguing our people and wished to offer a token so that my Lord might be open to discussing these issues with her mistress.

I tried to get her to take a seat, but she would not, responding as though she was not allowed to sit on furniture. I told her that I was authorised to speak on all matters on behalf of Lord Maric and asked her name and her mistress’ name. She could not say more unless the gift was accepted. I was curious, because, for all that I spend time with Gwyn; I haven’t really met many of her court. I was wary of the offer of a gift, knowing only too well the traps and pitfalls and obligations involved. I even said as such and phrased my answer in the conditional, noting that if the discussions requested were the full extent of the obligations then I felt sure that we could see our way to accepting the gift.

Unfortunately, the conditional was not conditional enough, and she took my periphrasis as acceptance. Her mistress would be delighted that we had accepted her gift, nevertheless, while she accepted I was authorised to speak on behalf of Maric, she could only speak with him. She then took a step back, knelt, and announced that she, Adiya, was the gift, and then just sat there, utterly subservient at my feet.

I swore; for some reason the Russian word for shit came to mind. Come to think of it, the only words I know in Russian are swear words, thanks to Dimitri, one of the deck hands on the Odiham Castle. Part of me wondered if this was some kind of prank, perpetrated by somebody who knew my aversion to subservience. I bade her stand up and asked her to divulge the name of her mistress, and if she could not speak directly of the business she wished with Maric, could she at least give me the nature of the business so that I might be able to properly brief and advise him.

She stood, albeit reluctantly and said that her mistress had not given her leave to speak her name to me, but she would if I so commanded. The matter that concerned her mistress was the darkness that had awakened and walked about the land, a darkness that even the Royals feared. She sought Lord Maric’s assistance to combat it. She seemed to think that my relationship with the Queen would have given me a special insight into these problems.

I don’t know about my relationship with Gwyn, but I knew of various problems, so I related what I knew of the shadow of the former summer king, the remnants of the winter king, the problems with the huntsmen and the problem with the stolen limb of Ardan. I asked if I had left anything out, but she laughed and said I seemed well apprised of the situation. She would not say further what her mistress’s concerns were until she had been given leave to do so as this was merely an introduction to open discussions.

We were interrupted by the arrival of my beloved Gwyneth, who had evidently charmed her way past the guards. Normally I would have remonstrated with her about that, but it had been such a long time since I had seen her that I didn’t really care. I kissed her and told her how much I had missed her and had feared the season was keeping her from me. She admitted that the season was making it harder for her to leave her bower, but she had needed to see me.

I introduced Adiya, who immediately became even more subservient, which I hadn’t thought possible, but then, she was in the presence of her queen. Gwyneth didn’t seem to know her, but, in true queenly fashion, didn’t let it show, greeting her warmly and, like me, tried to encourage her to get off her knees. This she did reluctantly, and was clearly keen to leave us alone. I wasn’t going to get anything more useful from her anyway, and had my own reasons for wanting to be alone with Gwyn, so I dismissed her. What passed after that is not for anybody’s eyes but my own.

 

Fairy Dust

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.

Fairy Dust

Ducks on a Pond

I find myself worrying about Wren and Hadley again, or more particularly, the influence of Vedis and the things she may be telling them about magic.

I found them all by the duck-pond. They were there with Vedis, or at least, the temporary vessel for Vedis, feeding worms to the ducks. Galyanna was there too, stoically putting up with being used as a leaning post by Vedis. Gwyn made a brief appearance, sounding somewhat more sensible than last time I had seen her, but she had to go back to deal with fae stuff after a few minutes.

We spoke about feeding the ducks and I told them how the other kids used to take bread to the park to feed the ducks when I was young, but my mother had told me that it was bad for them. Wren agreed, especially if the bread was mouldy. I accepted a couple of worms from the tin Vedis was using and threw them to the younger duck. I joked about feeding the ducks so they might better feed us later, quickly adding, for the sake of the young ones, that I meant the eggs. Wren was not fooled though, suggesting that eating the ducks would be better. I said that both were possibilities, so long as we made sure we had enough eggs to make more ducks.

They seemed to have been talking about magic and the various ‘flavours’ of it, as Vedis put it. She was offering to work out what flavour Hadley used, but this seemed to involve tasting her blood, which I wasn’t sure was a good idea. I would be very wary of giving any of my blood to a demon. Much as I like and trust Vedis, for the most part, she is still a demon, and I do not fully understand, or even know, her motivations. Strange that I do not have such reservations with Galyanna, but then, her role, her function is much clearer and better defined, and in the sense of loyal protector/soldier, we are much alike.

We discussed magic, and the various “flavours” of it. I restated my opinion that they all had the same basic underlying principles. Wren asked about good magic and bad magic, so I opined that magic was just magic – it was what you used it for that made it good or bad. Vedis said that Galyanna had the power of corruption, which Wren thought sounded like a bad thing until I pointed out that Galyanna was a skilled healer, which could be thought of as using corruption in reverse. I explained what I had done when helping Hadley – I had reversed the technique I had learned for projecting energy. Vedis at least was agreed that it was what you did with magic, and also that learning to control it was the best thing, rather than trying to deny it. She offered to help, but did think that maybe Gwyn would be better, being more closely attuned to fae magic.

I reminded both Wren and Hadley that we were due to do some practice soon, making a mental note to have a word with them about the caution that should be exercised in dealing with demons.

It was getting towards dinner time, so I suggested that we retire to the castle and feed ourselves rather than staying to feed the ducks. We didn’t want them to get too lazy when it came to food.

By the time we got to dinner, conversation had turned to dinosaurs and whether or not all demons started out as angels. One snippet I did pick up was that Wren knew that Alec had once been John Dee, which is something else I should talk to her about some day. Helene came up too, wanting to deliver a note to Maric, so I invited her to join us for dinner. She mentioned that one of the guards had been bringing her flowers. I said that she had probably made an impression, with her broom and advised her to be patient. As I understood it, Davor had not had a relationship of late.

The rest of the evening passed pleasantly enough over dinner until it was time for the younger ones to go to bed. I then retired to my room with the treatise on thaumaturgy, on the grounds that if it didn’t teach me anything, it might at least bore me to sleep.

Ducks on a Pond – Incredible String Band

 

Sailor Dance

I love Gwyn completely, but sometimes, I miss the precocious PhD with the potty mouth who called me a posh fuck. No more so than when she gets into full faerie queen mode combined with the, how can I put it, madness of the change of the seasons. Or, as she might have put it once, batshit crazy.

I was taking afternoon tea over a rather dull treatise on thaumaturgy when Maric contacted me through the mental link. Queen Gwyneth had come to visit and was asking questions of Wren and Hadley. He was rather hoping that we could get round to discussing some matters about the children, and the accords. I asked if I should come down, but he said he was trying to persuade her to come to the castle for discussions. I alerted the staff to prepare for visitors, get some wine and mead ready and such like, and waited. I was keen to get the various formalities sorted out, to work out a solution to the problem regarding the children, and, it had to be said, to spend some time with my love, for we had not had much of that of late.

I waited a while, but there was no sign of anybody appearing. I contacted Maric and he said that Gwyn was behaving a little strangely, and could I come out and see.

I got there to find Maric and the girls talking to Gwyn, with Orie standing nearby. The girls looked a little confused, as did Maric. He was being stoic and patient, but I could sense the underlying hunger for the Wyld surrounding Gwyn. He was telling her that the children were his responsibility and wished to know their majesties’ intent, if any, with regard to the children.

I walked up to Gwyn and, just as I had a few days ago with Valene, greeted her formally as Queen before greeting her as a lover, drawing her close enough for a kiss. She whispered something that I shall not repeat here in my ear and gave her attention to the others. She seemed, for want of a better word, a little manic. She chastised Orie for refusing the Faerie Queen’s assistance, saying not many people survived that, but fortunately, she was kind and benevolent.

As for Hadley, it was not her concern, unless we were going to give the child to the fae, at which point, she broke into song, singing about dull mortal parents being made of snakes and soot, or something like that. She giggled rather a lot and started singing to me, this time about us stealing a human babe, raising it as a sailor on my old merchant ship, which she seemed to think was the Cutty Sark, or possibly she meant the witch from the Burns’ poem, for she then sang that Tam O’Shanter never had a chance.

Before I could formulate a response to all that nonsense, albeit beautifully sung nonsense, she grabbed me and kissed me and told me that lips were very nice. I was somewhat bemused by all this eccentric behaviour. I had experienced her somewhat giddy ways when in Faerie before, but this was some stage on from that. Orie meanwhile muttered that he had turned her down, but that Faermorn had brought him back. He then called his horse, mounted it and made to leave.

I summoned up my own Wyld, forming it into calm solidity, a rock, an anchor, hoping I could project some of that calm into her, call her rational side, and willed it into the kiss I gave her. I agreed that lips were indeed wonderful things. As for the children, they had a life here and we had no need to steal any because we would soon have babes of our own to raise, and if any of those wanted to be a sailor, why then I would teach them.

I could sense Maric nearby, projecting his own style of calm and control. He picked what he could from Gwyn’s speech, happy that she had no designs on the child and assured her that she would be well raised here in Mysthaven. That was about all that was sensible in the speech, at least for him.

Orie got up on his horse and Gwyn made some snide remarks about only a Goddess being good enough for him, warning that they could be even more capricious than Queens, adding an even snider comment about Faermorn not getting any in the Summerlands. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that, hurriedly squelching any thoughts of my last encounter with Faermorn. Gwyn then fixed Hadley with a gaze and asked her who her parents were.

Hadley looked pale, pinned by Gwyn’s gaze, but gave what was possibly the best possible answer. None, she said, that knew she was alive. I later learned that Wren had given the same answer.

That seemed to satisfy Gwyn, but she switched back into manic mode again. Somewhere in among the laughing and giggles, she assured Maric that she would never spirit a child away from his safe-keeping, or keep one running away of her own free will. There was also something about it being fun to be whimsical, especially when there was nothing special to do. It was either that, or play tricks upon the mortals or dance around in perfect beauty. Behold the turning of the year, she said, bursting into giggles and saying that she hoped she would manage it more gracefully next year. There were more giggles, some incomprehensible stuff about the Huntsman and her having a PhD in literature. Aoibheann turned up, looking a little confused by it all, but Gwyn told her not to worry, and that she had fixed things.

I felt it was possibly best if I persuaded her to go back to Faerie, and perhaps come another day when she was more rational, and said as much silently to Maric. I seized upon her comment about fun and dancing. I took her by the hand and the waist and started to waltz. There were plenty of fun things to do, I told her, including many that were best enjoyed in private. Perhaps, I suggested, we could dance away to her boudoir.

That was a dance she would never tire of, she said. She apologised to Maric and said that maybe she would make more sense another day, but for now, she had a date with a sailor. With that, she flew into the air, calling back to me, “don’t make me carry you.” I made my apologies quickly and hurried off down the path until I was out of sight before taking to the air myself, deciding to forgo the bat form in this case. As I flew, Maric told me that Janus had arrived and he would be speaking on these matters with him, hopefully in a more rational manner. I reminded him of the various suggestions I had if the matter of punishment for Aoibheann arose and said we would talk again in the morning.

I caught up with Gwyn quickly enough, and we were soon safely in her private residence. And there we did dance and other things I shall not write of here.

I await Janus’ intentions, if any, with regard to the children, but I have less concern for those as he has no conflict. I rest a little easier that Gwyn has found a way to ease her conscience with regard to the children, and perhaps now, she can look upon them without feeling any conflict.

 Sailor – Dancing

 

Cure for Pain

We all have our struggles. I struggle to integrate the different sides of my nature, Maric struggles with his hungers, Gwyn struggles with the conflicts between her loyalties, Valene struggles with her needs and her duties, Dorina struggles with her beast, Aoibheann struggles with being Aoibheann, Wren struggles with whatever it was that drove her here, and Hadley struggles with the magic she was not told she had.

At least today, we were able to do something about two of those struggles.

I am not quite sure what alerted me, a general sense of unease in the air, the intimations from Maric that all was not well with Hadley, or just my need to know what is going on. Either way, I headed down towards the tavern, where I found Maric and Dorina, with Wren, Hadley and Aoibheann heading inside the tavern. Maric advised me silently that Hadley had been bleeding, a nosebleed, and he suspected that she had headaches. He suggested that I go to see her, since she likely was going to be more comfortable with me. I agreed, but first, greeting Dorina and apologised for not having worked with her as I had promised.

She said it was not a problem, she knew I was busy and she didn’t want to be a burden. She then told us that she thought Hadley’s problem was that she was part fae, and had been blocked from using her magic. That was what Hadley had told her. With all the fae magic around in these parts, she wondered if it was building up in Hadley and causing her problems, just as the beast building up in her caused her problems.

Maric and I had a brief mental conversation, partly about what I had already planned to do to help Dorina, and partly about what we could do to help Hadley. We decided that he would go off and work with Dorina, since I was more likely to be able to work with Hadley. I had to agree, I said, since I had received a lot of my fae magical energy from Hadley’s mother. He took Dorina off to her dwelling to help her with her beast and I went into the tavern.

There I found Aoibheann trying to help by giving Hadley a fork. She seemed to be under the impression that Hadley’s head would explode from not using her magic and was trying to tell her to channel things into the fork. From the expressions on Hadley’s face and the barely suppressed screams, she probably felt like her head was exploding, but all she could channel was her frustration as she slammed the fork down, leaving it sticking out of the table.

I was not entirely sure what to do, but thought I could try to absorb some energy from her, as I had from her mother so long ago. I thought back to my own first tentative lessons in magic, from Paasheeluu, or Mitternacht as she had called herself then. That gave me an idea. I still had a portion of her horn about my person. That could serve as a focus.

I squatted down in front of Hadley, so I could see her face, ramping up just enough of my presence to make sure I had her attention. I asked her to listen to me. I reminded her who I was and told her what I was going to try to do. She had an excess of fae magic. I had experience at absorbing that kind of magic. I put the piece of horn down on the table in front of her and told her it was a piece of unicorn horn, and was a focus of magic. Perhaps, I said, she remembered Mitternacht the unicorn. What I wanted her to do was to focus on the horn, to try to send her magic to it, maybe try to make it glow or otherwise to send magical energy to it. I told Hadley that I was going to then try to discharge the energy from the crystal. I took off my sword and gave it to Wren, asking her to put it somewhere out of the way. Aoibheann decided that the flames were a risk too, so sent Wren to put out the fire while she put out the candles. She asked how I was going to discharge it and said I would have to be careful to avoid breaking the crystal. I had vague memories that some of her early lessons had resulted in shattered crystals.

I was not entirely sure I knew myself, but I reasoned that if I could focus my will on sending energy to the crystal, I could equally reverse that focus, and channel energy from the crystal into me. I wasn’t entirely sure what it would do to me, since I already had a heartbeat, but I was used to absorbing from Gwyn too, during our lovemaking, so I thought I could take it.

I reminded Hadley what I wanted her to do and what I was going to do. I focussed my will, centring it on the crystal, opening up that channel between myself and it. Hadley looked at me, pained and confused and started to ask what… she didn’t know how. Nevertheless, she lifted a hand and aimed it at the crystal, trying to concentrate.

Something worked. With my Wyld senses wide open, I felt something stir within her and shoot towards the crystal, which glowed brightly. I barely had time to register this before it came shooting into me. Fae magic it was, that was for certain, but its intent was far different from what I had experienced from Isabella, Gwyn or Faermorn. This was definitely some sort of offensive spell. It hit me like the magical equivalent of being kicked hard in the solar plexus, bringing back memories of rugby games at school. It doubled me up in pain, and I think I screamed, or possibly growled. No doubt I made faces too. I stayed curled up for a few moments, letting the energies dissipate, or at least, find a place to be. I told her she packed a hell of a punch for somebody so small and asked if she felt better.

Hadley just laid her head on the table and murmured quietly, “thank you.” The pain in her face and eyes was gone, and the Wyld seemed quieter. Aoibheann said that she should try again if there was more and wanted to know if she should go and tell Maric. Wren meanwhile fussed around getting water for myself and Hadley. She asked what we would do if I wasn’t around to help.

I assured Aoibheann that I would let Maric know, telling her he was busy with Dorina at the moment. I told Wren that I thought this build-up had been going on for a while, and that was why it had been causing her pain and had come out in a rush. I was sure it would take a while to build up again, and in the meanwhile, we would work out ways of teaching Hadley to discharge it safely without my help. I drank the water that Wren had provided and waved at Hal for a large rum. Hadley seemed to have the right idea, I said, but needed to work out how to control and direct it.

Aoibheann thought that the build-up had been longer than the last few days, as Alec and Isabella had blocked her. She quite rightly suggested that fae energy, Wyld energy, was like life. Air was life to her, and when she had too much, she had to exhale. Remember to breathe, she told Hadley. I was quite impressed. In her own strange way, she had given sensible advice. Wren wondered if the blocks that Alec and Isabella had put in place were gone.

I drank the rum that Hal had brought me and thought for a moment. I told Wren that I didn’t know for sure. It was possible they had, or it was possible that the higher levels of fae energy here meant that the blocks were not strong enough. I agreed that Wyld magic was indeed tied to life, as, in a strange way, was blood magic. I opined that all magic was about channelling energy with your willpower. I now had experience of three types of magic and while the energies might seem different, and the techniques different on the surface, underneath they were much the same. We would look at doing some training in the next few days, but for now, I counselled sleep, preferably somewhere other than on the table, which is what it looked like Hadley was about to do.

Wren was sitting there counting in her head and asked what the third type of magic was. I asked if she remembered Mitternacht, the unicorn, which she did, and said that she had taught me some of her magic. I also suggested that maybe Valene could help Hadley too, as she was fae, and didn’t have the same conflict problems that Gwyn might.

Hadley was reluctant to move and didn’t want to go to her bed. Aoibheann suggested they could go camping in the orchard, which idea appealed to both the girls. I left them to it then, and headed back to the castle, where I asked the guards on night shift to keep an eye on the camp. I canvassed Maric via the mental link and reported what I had done, suggesting that maybe I could set up a practice area somewhere on the edge of the village, where Hadley could work of energy by shifting rocks about or something. He thought that was a good idea. So did I, and before I retired to my chambers, found myself a quiet corner and discharged some of my own excess energy from Hadley by throwing some rocks around. It was surprisingly satisfying.

 

 Cure for Pain