Not in My house

It should come as no surprise to any who read these pages, that I will not tolerate threats to those I consider mine. Not from friends, not from enemies, not from supposed allies, and definitely not in my house. We had two visitors a few evenings back, one a supposed ally, at least by affiliation, the other, I do yet know her affiliation if any, but I had to warn both against bringing any danger here.

I was just sitting down to dine with Aoibheann, even if I was only having a simple snack of bread and cheese while she had a proper dinner. She told me that a woman had turned up wounded the previous evening and that Ket’Lyn and Galyanna had taken her somewhere. She seemed quite distressed by this and the fact that I did not know about it. Even more so that I did not know, even though I had this intimate mental connection with the castle. I declined to explain that the link to the castle was somewhat dependent on Maric, as I did not want to distress her further with reminders of his state. Before I could explain any further, there was some noise from the door. What little sense I could pick up from the building, and from the guards made me suspicious, so I told Aoibheann to stand back, in case our visitor was dangerous.

Our visitor was of the demonic persuasion, and seemed to be largely concerned with discovering where he was. I introduced myself and told him that he was in Mysthaven and asked who he was and what his business was here. He seemed to find my name familiar, and he introduced himself as Kael Seid, a prince of hell and the son of the queen of hell, Vedis. After the introduction, I realised that I had almost certainly seen him before around Fiendish Pleasures. I explained the possible connection and that there was an alliance between Mysthaven and Clan Seid, provided they abided by the terms of the agreement.

Aoibheann overheard this and interjected, saying that I should tell him the news of Vedis. When I suggested she did so, she got exasperated and told him that Vedis was dead, that Galyanna was trying to resurrect her, and that she may well be sacrificing a poor woman that nobody seemed to care about or would notice was going missing.

Kael seemed to be unperturbed by this, saying that Vedis had been dead before, and wondered why Galyanna was having difficulty this time. He also made some comment to Aoibheann about what made her so sure she was suitable for sacrifice, adding that if I had not told him that he should honour the terms of his mother’s alliance, he would have eaten her.

I stepped between them, hand on my sword, reminding him in no uncertain terms that I would tolerate any threat, implied or actual, and would he please refrain from doing so. Having made my warning, I explained how Vedis had gone up against the Morning Star, so this demise was perhaps a little more, final that previous ones. I also tried to reassure Aoibheann that I found it highly unlikely that Galyanna would attempt a human sacrifice, and certainly not on any resident of visitor to the village.

One of the guards, Casimir came up and explained how there was a young lady who was somehow trapped in the laboratory and was desperate to get out. Galyanna and Ket’Lyn had apparently taken her there fore safety. I did not want to leave Aoibheann there with Kael, even though he had promised to behave, especially as he had qualified it with ‘for now’. I was going to leave Casimir there to protect Aoibheann, but when I reminded Kael that there was no ‘for now’, he decided to leave, claiming that Aoibheann had irritated him. Having made sure that he had left, I left Casimir there, just in case, and descended to the vaults.

There, I found a young woman, apparently from the modern era, well, Gwyn’s modern era, anyway, judging by the shiny gadget she was trying to get to work, by the name of Tammi Wilson. I disabled the wards and let her out of the laboratory. Her first concern was the use of the lavatory. I directed her to the latrines that were still down there from when we had been protecting the village here, not thinking that she might find them somewhat primitive. On the other hand, she was hopping from foot to foot in desperation, so maybe she wouldn’t mind that much. I also found a Ket’Lyn, who had arrived by her own means. While Tammi was using the latrines, I asked Ket’Lyn if she would do me a favour and try to explain to Aoibheann what she was doing before making off with visitors, so that Aoibheann would not worry so much.

Upstairs, I offered Tammi some food and whatever she needed in the matter of protection. She was apparently starving from the way she snatched at the food, but also clearly in a hurry. She did react rather strangely when I told Ket’Lyn about Kael Seid, making some comment about him only being a baby. Ket’Lyn was less surprised. She had not seen Kael for some time, but thought he might be of use in helping to bring Vedis back. Tammi, meanwhile, was desperate to get back to somebody called Katy, before somebody called Mac found her.

I offered sanctuary again, and asked what manner of threat this Mac might present. She and Ket’Lyn spoke of portals and magic, and Ket’Lyn offered to help this Tammi get back to where she was going, using a portal. I did not get any answer as to the nature of this Mac, and before I could ask any further questions, she gathered up some food and left, Ket’Lyn close behind.

I really do need to sit and talk with Ket’Lyn and Galyanna about using the laboratory and the access thereto. There seems to be altogether too much to and fro going through there without my knowledge, and that, I cannot help but feel, is a threat to the safety of the castle and the village. Next time I see Galyanna, I must discuss it with her and establish some ground rules. As to this new person, and this persons he called Mac, I have to wait and see what, if any, threat this poses.

 Not in My house

 

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Tree Party

When do you celebrate the birthday of a tree? What point counts as the birth? Is it when the first tiny shoot emerges from the seed-casing? Is it when the tiny leaves, cotyledons I think, if I remember my biology classes from school, first emerge through the dirt and leaf-litter on the forest floor? It’s a somewhat nebulous concept, and in the case of this particular tree, we have no way of knowing anyway, for he was already a seedling, a six-inch high miniature tree-let in a pot when we first met him. For it is Ardan of which I speak. We had a party in the Summerlands, as a celebration for Ardan. I’m still not entirely sure what anniversary we were celebrating – the day that old Hat-Rack gave him to Aoibheann, the day he was planted in Jasper Cove, the day he was replanted by the river in Ashmourne, or even the day he was replanted in the Summerlands. The latter I think is unlikely, since he has only been there a short while.

But celebrate we did. There was no cake, much to my disappointment, as I had been looking forward to seeing Ardan blow out the candles with a well-directed personal tornado. But then, who knows how old he is, so the number of candles would have been speculative at best.

The Tenacious Trinity were there, of course, and for a while, it was just the three of us, plus Ardan. I described Aoibheann and Gwyn as being among my brightest blessings and got admonished for not including Ardan. I keep forgetting that Aoibheann regards Ardan as a person. Maybe he is, maybe he talks to her when we aren’t around. I must admit I was somewhat astonished when Aoibheann arrived, as she had clearly let the fae dress her. While what she wore was perfectly normal among the fae, for Aoibheann, it was, for want of a better word, revealing. I complimented her anyway because she did look stunning. She tried to chide me for it, but, for once, it seemed she was actually pleased.

Ket’lyn and Helene turned up for a while, and they seemed to be quite cosy with each other, which can only be a good thing, as I know how much Helene misses intimacy.

Janus was there when I arrived, but disappeared shortly after, having business elsewhere. We greeted each other with a certain familiarity and intimacy, if a kiss on the forehead is intimate. I find my reactions to him somewhat disconcerting, as each time we meet; there is a stirring of the wyld in me, and a matching one in him. I do not know if that is just our natures reacting to each other, a genuine attraction, or if what we are feeling is an echo from that part of me which is Faermorn. I do not quite yet know. The attraction is very different from that which I felt for Greyson, which stemmed from a likeness of minds rather than any physical desires, whereas with Janus, it is more primal. I have spent enough time among the fae to be aware of the dangers of being elf-struck, so I do not think it is that. Part, I am sure, is me trying to ensure that things are not awkward because of our shared love for Gwyn, but even there, I am not quite sure how Gwyn feels about that. The spirit of Faermorn is definitely a part of it, that much we both recognise. Each time we meet, we acknowledge that she is still with us, but we have yet to explore that further.

Something else was up, regarding Janus. Gwyn clearly had something to discuss with him, and she seemed a little uncertain when we embraced and kissed, as though there was something on her mind. She did not mention anything, and I chose not to disturb the atmosphere by asking.

Gwyn made an official appointment, giving Aoibheann the formal title of Mother of Trees, and a position in Court. Aoibheann wasn’t too sure about that, wondering if Aerodine had to be consulted first, but since we hadn’t seen her since the incident with the sea-monster, we decided it was probably ok.

It was a strange day, and after a while, we relocated to Gwyn’s residence for food and drink. Aoibheann was a little reluctant to leave Ardan, but relented when she realised what a good view we had of him from the residence. The evening passed in pleasant sociability, and all seemed well, but I still wonder what it was that Gwyn had on her mind.

So that was it, a party for a tree. Am I becoming jaded that this does not even seem the littlest bit strange? I wonder what mother would make of it.

 

Tree Party – At least, a song by a band called Tree Party

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

Penguins in the Desert

It might be said, should any eyes, other than my own, fall upon this diary, that I am prone to prolixity. Perhaps this is true, but it is my diary, and I have no particular audience, other than myself, in mind. And should some hapless historian come across these diaries years from now, well, I shall not be around to be offended by their criticism. For tonight, though, I shall restrain myself, as my attention is elsewhere. My beloved Gwyn managed to escape the sithen for a few hours, and we have managed to spend a night together. She sleeps for the moment, but when she wakes, I do not want to waste precious time together putting words on paper when I could be doing something else.

There was a long discussion in the tavern between Orie, Ket’Lyn and myself, concerning our position with respect to the other factions on the island. Orie was taking a somewhat gung-ho, jingoistic view of things; talking about arming the village heavily, forming a stronger alliance with the demons, and perhaps most worrying of all, seriously considering using the alliance to destroy one of the courts, as a message to the other courts that we are not to be messed with. Naturally, this went against everything I believe, and so I had to argue for the diplomatic side. I also do not think he fully understands what we are up against. I can not entirely blame him, since his prior experience has largely been with the human enemy, who, at worst, may be more heavily armed, or have a greater strength in numbers. I tried to explain, yet he persisted in viewing the Huntsman, for example, as nothing more than a large, vicious dog that just needs whacking on the nose to get it to stop misbehaving. Perhaps he will learn. I did not want to argue with him too much, as we may well need his military strength and experience, should diplomatic solutions fail.

On my way to the tavern, one of the servants gave me a note from Aoibheann. I feared what might be in this missive, given our recent conversations, and was worried that it might be a note saying she was going on her expedition alone, so as to not put the rest of us in danger. But no, instead it was something completely unrelated and surprising. She had an idea for a story, but since she believed me to be the better writer, perhaps I could do something with it. I don’t know quite what her idea was, save that she felt it had to include blue faerie penguins that live in a maze of pergolas in the desert in Australia. Though she had managed to butcher the name of the country sufficiently that it took me a while to work out what she meant. She must have heard of that land after she came to Jasper Cove, because I am fairly sure Australia had not been discovered in her time. I have no idea why she wants me to write such a story, but it would be an interesting challenge. I have no exercised my creative writing muscles in some time.

The highlight of the event, for me, was the arrival of Gwyn, who snuck in, unannounced, to the tavern while we were arguing strategy. I was, of course, highly delighted and demonstrated this with hugs and kisses. Eventually, I made introductions, but I was not really that keen on staying and being sociable with anybody but my love. Orie and Ket’Lyn, by now, had drifted onto the subject of comparing their martial skills and squaring up to show each other, so I made our excuses – that there was an art project that had been too long neglected – and we left, proceeding with alacrity to my cottage and into each other’s arms. Of that, I shall write no more, save that I write this with a more contented smile than I have worn for some time.

 Yes, I actually found a song about penguins in a desert…