Double Edged Sword

 ((Original RP 26 Oct 2014 – this is a catch-up post))

 

I have never considered myself a powerful person. Oh, Mother would try to convince me that I was; that I had power over the bullies by denying them the reaction they wanted, and perhaps I did, but I never considered that as being powerful. Power is not something I have ever sought, save that now I find it necessary in order to defend my people. Certainly it is not something I have ever sought for its own sake. Power, like magic, is a two-edged sword. I know this, I have always known this, and I have often spoken of this to Aoibheann, to Wren, to Hadley and others when discussing the use of magic.

Today I had more lessons with Maric, in which he taught me more of the healing powers of the blood magic. And there, I found yet another way in which such power can be two-edged.

I had been taking afternoon tea in the main hall. Some very English habits take a long time to die, and taking a break from my labours for a pot of tea is one of them. Maric turned up and joined me, though he declined the tea in favour of a glass of wine. He was carrying one of the roses, a rather sad-looking specimen and looking at it thoughtfully.  We chatted for a while and I told him about Aoibheann’s current obsession, for chocolate mead.  He nodded and looked at the rose again and passed it over to me. That would probably explain the rose, he said. It was not well, so I pricked my thumb and allowed it to feed on my blood. It seems that Aoibheann’s desire for chocolate mead had led to some well-intentioned, but misjudged experimentation. This in turn, had brought about the demise of some roses and a few bees, which she had been trying to feed on milk and chocolate.  Maric was sure that chocolate mead was possible, but doubted that Aoibheann’s approach was the best way.

We spoke a while about the plans to rid her of the Huntsman’s spirit. He had not yet had the chance to visit with Janus to see what could be done there. I speculated that we might be able to tempt him out by providing some new vessel, much as he had for Vedis’ memories. He was not overly thrilled with that prospect, although he agreed it might be the best idea. It would not be easy, as Aoibheann might be reluctant to give him up, and the Huntsman in turn might be reluctant to leave her. I opined that he might be more reasonable without Llwyd’s influence. The new Huntsman seemed more open to reason than the last, more in tune with his original purpose, so maybe the old one would be more as he should be, as he had been before Llwyd. We moved on to speak of the shard that still invested the castle, but neither of us had much idea of what to do as yet.

He had other questions, but felt they were better addressed in the privacy of my office. It was time for further lessons, he told me, and another exchange of blood. He had concerns, though, for he was still not used to my fae nature, nor did he have much experience of the wyld magic, and did not know how they would interact. Nevertheless, we should continue with my education. What, he asked, did I wish to learn of blood magic. I avowed that I did not really know, since I was unfamiliar with what the possibilities were and suggested that perhaps he could guide me and teach me what he felt was best.

We decided on healing. There were other things – tracking and finding people, and my use of the castle senses, but healing seemed to be the best place to start. He offered his wrist, but first, wanted to know what had caused the most recent increase in my wyld powers.

I told him of the incident with Horace and Gwrgi, and how I had helped Valene with the healing and transformation of Gwrgi and the energy I had received from the wyld wellspring. I told him also of the increasing effects I was feeling from the wintery side of the wyld, perhaps the lingering influence of Gwythyr. I told him of the incident with Dorina and the dreams she had shared with me and my momentary loss of control.

This troubled him, but he trusted that I would be able to contain such things. It was to be expected as I grew in power, and it was something he would try to help me with, controlling those darker urges. He offered me his wrist then, and after checking that his flesh was soft enough, I bit, and fed.

As ever, it is hard to describe the flow of feelings, energies and knowledge that happen during that feeding. I lack the words, for it is something outside my experience. During that feeding, parts of our minds merged, and he left me with the knowledge of how to use the blood to shape, to change, to transform and to heal the flesh, mend the bones, to close wounds and much more.

It was somewhat overwhelming, and with it came a chilling thought. Could this be reversed, I asked. If I could transform flesh to heal, could I also do so to harm? Could I damage or kill, or transform somebody else into, say, a bat, just as I could transform myself.

He appreciated the question. Yes it was possible, and he had done so on the battlefield, pulling the blood from his enemies to incapacitate them. It was a power he used lightly, he said, and only when absolutely necessary, when there was no other alternative. He said that he could only teach me these things because he knew I had made the choice; that I had chosen not to be the monster I could be; that I had chosen to do good rather than do ill.

I told him then that I had always known power to be two-edged, from the mundane power I had over the lesser ranks onboard ship through the magic and powers I now possessed. That is what I had been trying to impress on Wren and Hadley with their magic powers. As for choosing to not be a monster, that came from Mother, I told him, when teaching me how to deal with the bullies, and then later, when I had grown taller, how to not be like them.

That seemed to please him, as if his assessment of me had been correct. He then fed from me, but in a new way, a simple touch of the tip of his tongue to my wrist, enough to raise a couple of drops of blood and no more. Even so, that was enough to provoke an intense reaction. He sat, rigidly in his chair, gripping the arms so hard I thought he might break them. For a few minutes, he seemed to not dare look at me, nor even speak. I suppose I should have expected that, given his craving for the fae side of me. Sure enough, once he could speak again, he said that as he had suspected, there was more power there and his cravings had increased. However, he felt sure he could find a way to control this, and think of something to help me conquer my darker side.

We would have spoken more, but I felt something through the link, something second-hand, as though he were sensing something from Aoibheann. This was confirmed when he rose quickly and said he needed to attend his lady. With that, he disappeared off outside somewhere. I remained where I was, having sensed that it was not anything particularly dangerous and instead, spent some time trying to integrate this new knowledge and power. Find a willing subject, he had said, to practice on. I suppose I could wait until one of the guards injures themselves in practice or something. Even so, it is a scary concept, reaching out to reshape, to heal, when, with just a misplaced thought, I could do harm instead. But, as with all the powers I have gained it is something I have to deal with.

 

Double-edged Sword

 

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Bottle of Fire

I should be afraid. There are many things I should be afraid of. With everything that goes on here, it is a wonder that I do not spend more time curled up in a ball gibbering with fear. But that is not in my nature. Of all the things that are going on, the demonic taint, the threat of retribution from the Morning Star, the presence of the Huntsman, the lurking sense that Gwthyr is not entirely gone, there is plenty to fear. Why then does the prospect of our dear Aoibheann practicing magic worry me so? She has just as much right as any of us. Perhaps it is just her unpredictable nature, the fear that a simple light spell might end up setting fire to an entire building or something.

She came to me in the office, clearly on the verge of breaking down in tears. She cannot have failed to notice all the to-ing and fro-ing of the guards and villagers with supplies or to have heard that things were going on in the vaults. All she could gasp was “Maric, Vaults, Demons” at me. I sat her down on the sofa and asked her to breathe for a few minutes before I explained what was going on. I wasn’t sure how up to date she was, so briefly told her about the failed mission, the intervention of the Morning Star, the curse that had come through the mirror and how it was corrupting the castle. I told her that Maric was working on holding it back and that Dyisi was working on a ritual to cure the taint.

As ever, bless her, she focussed on the bits the thought she understood, suggesting that what we needed was a bucket of water and some vinegar to cleanse the taint. I explained in more detail about the demonic corruption and what I thought might be needed – a combination of Maric’s efforts, Dyisi’s ritual and the spells I was trying to research from the ancient book on demons that Maric had rescued from Alexandria. I added that if a bucket of vinegar would help, I would have her down there with a mop as well. She asked if it was something we could send back through the mirror, which thought had also occurred to me. I had to tell her that the corruption was already through and unlike a piece of mouldy bread, we couldn’t just pick the green bits off and throw them away. If that were an option, I would have no compunction about destroying the mirror and worrying about a new portal later.

We were interrupted by a servant, telling me that Horace and Dyisi wanted to see me. I said I would be out shortly and made my apologies to Aoibheann, assuming she probably wouldn’t want to be party to this conversation.

When I got out to the hall, I found Dyisi and Horace there. The latter was rigged for some serious expedition with an eclectic set of weapons, guns and protective gear, including what looked like a round Viking shield. Dyisi advised me that she had completed her research and modifications to the ritual and was ready when we were, unless we had found some other means. I told her I had been researching spells from my book on Gods and Demons, but had been struggling with the translation. I stopped mid-sentence and slapped myself on the head. Here I had been struggling with what I could remember of my schoolboy ancient Greek, and here was somebody who was almost certainly alive when the language was current. I told her where and approximately when the book had come from and asked if she could help with the translation, which she averred she could.

Horace, meanwhile, was complaining that he had not been allowed in the vaults. He had to see Vedis, he said, presumably concerning his mission to restore Faermorn. I told him that the vaults were sealed off for the moment because of the demonic corruption, and nobody was allowed down there until we found a means of dealing with it. I was prepared, however to get a message to Vedis, so that she could perhaps come and speak with him.

Horace was not so easily put off. Lucifer had some beef with him and he was going to Hell and he was going to put a bullet in Lucifer’s face and fix this shit once and for all. At least, that’s what he said, more or less, although he tried to change shoot to negotiate with after.

I opined that shooting Lucifer in the face might possibly be an unwise, not to say, terminal move, no matter how satisfying it might seem. I suggested that maybe we should try to speak to Vedis before taking such drastic action.

Dyisi was more pragmatic, suggesting that maybe he should have coated bullets before engaging such an opponent. She is clearly a good influence on him, and they seemed to have developed some sort of relationship. He was impressed with her advice and wished he had consulted with her earlier. At least he agreed to hold off on any immediate action. For a start, he wished to speak to me about our mutual friend first. He then decided that he had things he needed to do, talking to Ardan. I thanked him for consulting with me before taking action and off he went, Dyisi following soon after, once I had given her the demons book to translate for me.

Aoibheann had clearly been busy in my office when I went to fetch the book. With what I wasn’t quite sure at first, since the main evidence I had was that the rest of the bottle of wine I had opened earlier had been emptied into one of the pans of the scales on my desk. When I asked, she said she needed somewhere to keep the fire. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant by that, but then she showed me the bottle. Sure enough, she had somehow captured a flame in it. I have to say I was more than a little impressed, if somewhat worried. The concept of Aoibheann and fire magic was frankly terrifying, but I declined to comment. She put it forward as a possible solution to our problem of taint, thinking that if she could capture fire in a bottle, we could maybe capture the taint. As ideas go, it wasn’t a bad one, even quite a good one, considering normal Aoibheann-logic. However, I did have doubts about the execution. I thanked her for the idea and said that we could review it once we had some better idea from Dyisi as to what the other spells would do.

I left her to it after that. There were other spells to read up on, and those at least were in a language I understood better. I just hope that Aoibheann doesn’t set anything on fire in the meantime.

 

 

Parlez Vous

I have found myself being somewhat tired of late. I know that the practising of the bat form is physically demanding, though I grow better used to it in time. At least, when I am flying, I feel free, more so than when I flew the way I did before, when I was always afraid I would forget how. I feel free, unburdened by duties and loyalties, and sometimes, I find myself looking to the far horizon and wondering what lies out there. I do not think I would willingly leave here, but sometimes, it would be nice to just be me, and not have to worry about so many things. I have not slept well these last few days, and have neglected my studies, and my diary. That latter, I will try now to remedy.

I fear, sometimes, that the strain of trying to reconcile my different natures is getting to me. I suppose I should expect this. In some ways, the powers of the vampire should be the very antithesis of those of the fae. Some would say that the powers of the vampire are those of death, whereas those of the fae are of life. I am not so sure. The vampiric powers derive from the blood, which could be regarded as the essence of life. Now my first magic lessons came from Paasheeluu, and her power definitely came from death, but I did not partake of her power, save that a fragment of horn was my focus, just her teachings. My research has thus far found little of use. My situation is, if not unique, at least very rare.

Most of the time, I feel that I am integrating the aspects well. Save for those times I exercise those powers I know to be purely vampiric, such as the ones I learned before I knew I was fae, I do not distinguish between the powers when I used them. But then, I so rarely exercise any of my powers unless I have to. I guess for the same reason that I prefer to not dress in a manner that befits my station. However, lately, I have been experience fatigue, headaches and suchlike, which, sadly, I have allowed to manifest itself in occasional grumpiness.

The other day, I found the Darlings and Aoibheann down by the river. I didn’t really get much of a chance to find out what was going on, save that they had gone there in pursuit of a lost lamb and had had a bit of a spat about something – the kids, that is. All I know is that Aoibheann and Wren were in the water, and then we found Hadley entangled in the roots of a nearby tree. Between us, Aoibheann and I managed to free her, albeit somewhat bruised and having fainted. I tried to soothe things a little, talking about how we needed to try to fix this, then Aoibheann reacted, as she often does to my optimistic approach by saying that things can’t always be fixed. Words were said that left us both less than well-tempered and I fear that Wren may have taken my words as suggesting she was to blame for the accident. Aoibheann was determined to take Hadley to Ardan and spend some time there. I suggested that maybe we should have a picnic and went back to the castle for some supplies. Unfortunately, castle business intervened and I did not make it back. I do hope that Wren will still speak to me. I thought we had made progress the other day, but I fear I might have set that back a little.

-=oOo=-

I did not get much of a chance to speak with them the following day. I had heard them talking by the orchards but before I could go and see them, I was interrupted by one of the guards, warning me of a potentially hostile visitor at the Mystgate. I took a few of the guards with me and went to investigate, sending Mirko to the bell, ready to sound an alert if necessary.

What I found by the gate was a very large being, heavily armoured, very dark, but emitting an internal glow, as if he were powered by a furnace of some sort. I was reminded of the character I had seen around London sometimes, whose name I don’t recall at the moment. It was lifting one of the guards out of the way. I told it that we preferred visitors to not do that to our guards and asked what it wanted. I signalled to one of the guards that we should stand by for a stage two alert.

It put the guard down and faced me. It squatted, placed its hand a few feet off the ground and made a clawing gesture. I was not sure what to make of this. Perhaps it had lost something or it was hurt? It tried again, making a deep groaning noise, at which, black smoke and sparks emerged from its visor. It tapped itself on the chest, pointed at its eyes, made a sweeping gesture in the direction of the village, and then produced a dagger, which it waved around before putting it away again. It also repeated the hand held out flat above the ground gesture. It was looking for something, or someone, maybe a short person with a dagger. I told him that there were no such people within the village, and that I would not permit it to use any weapons there.

The smell of the smoke reached me, and something in that suggested a demonic origin, as if the general appearance had not already done so. It faced me, and somehow, looked irritated by having to play charades. This time, it tried speaking, though the noises that emerged reminded me of the times Father would be having cartloads of gravel or rubble delivered from wooden carts, rather than an actual voice. It managed two words that were comprehensible – Galyanna and Parlay.

That made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. This was clearly an emissary from Kitori, or possibly Asmodeus, and therefore dangerous. I told it that I had not seen Galyanna for some days, but if I did, I would pass on the message. I warned it that any dealings it had with Galyanna should take place outside the village. We were a peaceful people, I said, and wished to remain so. If it wished, it could return the following day and I would leave a message with the guards as to Galyanna’s response, if any. It appeared to understand and indicated that it would return to talk. It then turned and disappeared into the dusk.

I stood the guards down from high alert, but recommended they kept extra vigilance and told them to spread the word that I was to be alerted as soon as Galyanna appeared.

I went back to the village, intending to warn people of this possible threat and to report the news to Maric when he woke. On the way, I encountered Dyisi, sitting under the tree. I thanked her for obtaining the doll for Hadley and asked if I owed her anything for it. She waved that off and said that she could obtain things, other things, if I wished. I thought of the various trade goods that I had wanted to obtain, but thought this was possibly impractical, as I would need things by the cartload. One selfish thought did occur. I missed my mint imperials and had been feeling the want of them of late. While practising the bat form, I had been unable to resist the temptation to consume, as bats do, moths and other flying insects. Even with a good brushing of teeth and a glass of rum after, that is still a hard taste to get out of one’s mouth. I didn’t tell her about the bat thing, but did ask if she could obtain the mints, which she reckoned she could. I would have spoken more on trade, but the guard alerted me to the presence of Galyanna down by the gate.

I went to see her and told her what had passed. She was not best pleased. She had been quite jovial when I arrived, at least, as jovial as she ever is, but as soon as I told her about the demon, she switched into full warrior mode. She partly drew her sword and went immediately to the gate, facing out, searching. She told me to put the village on lockdown and that I was not to let any of the guards go with her, or patrolmen. I was not entirely happy about letting her go on her own, but deferred to her greater experience. I was more than happy to not let any patrolmen go with her. I told her to be careful and asked that she tell the guards when it was safe to stand down the alert if I was not around.

I went back to the village and sounded the alert, telling everybody to get inside. I found Wren, Hadley and Aoibheann in Dorina’s cottage, apparently cooking something, so I told them to stay inside or return to the castle as soon as possible.

What passed, I do not yet know, as I have not seen Galyanna since. I heard the all-clear sounded some time after she left, and the guards tell me that she returned safely and told them to sound it. I will have to see what happened next time I see her.

-=oOo=-

Horace came to see me in the morning, to talk about Faermorn. I had asked him to do so after the incident with Gwrgi, but had not had opportunity until now. He declined coffee, saying he had already drunk too much at the tavern, and asked what I knew of Faermorn.

I decided to level with him, and told him of my part-fae nature, and how Faermorn had helped me to reconnect with that shortly before she departed. I explained briefly the nature of the fae afterlife, such as I knew of it, and then told him that she still visited me in my dreams, although it was more real than that.

She did the same to him, he said, visiting him in his dreams. She had told him he could help to restore her, but he needed some items to do so. His first task, he said, was to recover the stolen branch of the Mallorn tree from Esterwell and bring it back here.

That would be no easy task, I said. I told him that I would ask if he was sure, but I knew, from my own experience, that he would do anything for her. I asked that he keep me advised of his plans. While the Damondreds themselves could no longer come here, they could send others, and I would want to be prepared. I offered what help I could and asked what other items he needed.

He declined any assistance on the ground. It would be a hit and run operation, he said. The other item was the red stone, part of that which had imprisoned Faermorn on the side of the sea-monster. He needed to speak to Vedis or Galyanna in order to obtain this.

He looked down at his hands. He was already changing, it seemed, and he did not know how the restoration of Faermorn would change him further, or how it would affect the Summerlands. I did not know either, but I had to take a pragmatic approach. I told him how Gwyneth and Janus had built a new Summerlands, as the land that was part of Faermorn was no longer. They were the monarchs now and anything concerning the fae monarchy was their business to sort out. My business was the protection of Mysthaven. I felt a slight twinge at that, since I loved Gwyneth and, in a different way, Faermorn and did not want to see conflict. But then, surely Faermorn knew she could not regain the throne. I could not think how that would work and put the matter aside for the moment. I told Horace that I had known the wrath of the Damondreds, so I admired his bravery in even thinking of going up against them.

He shook his head, saying he had seen brave men, but he was something else. He had seen the horrors of war, he had seen no-mans-land, and after that, he could do anything. He stood to go, saying he would keep me advised of his plans and thanked me for my offer of assistance.

I stood too and saluted him before shaking his hand. Nevertheless, I told him, I still admired his courage. I said I would speak to Vedis about the stone and repeated that if there was anything he needed, to let me know.

He left then, and I sat for a while considering. Up until now, I had been less than patient with him, finding his attitudes irritating, but now I had new respect for him. I was still concerned as to the nature of his mission. Had she truly visited him, or was he under some elf-struck delusion? I would have to try to go to Faermorn in my dreams soon.

Later that day, I joined Wren, Hadley and Aoibheann for archery practice. I fear I may have accidentally started a competition of some sort, since my first arrow flew true and hit dead centre of the gold. That was a bit of a fluke, however, and subsequent shots were more consistent with my normal skill. Wren and Aoibheann both managed to hit the target and even Hadley did after one or two false starts. Everybody seemed relaxed, so I didn’t pursue any of the questions I had for Wren, and the evening passed quite pleasantly.

 

Parlez Vous

Accidents Will Happen

When I was a lad I served a term
As office boy to an Attorney’s firm.
I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor,
And I polished up the handle of the big front door.

He polished up the handle of the big front door.

I polished up that handle so carefullee
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen’s Navee!

Well, one shoe at least has dropped. I now know, in part, what ails Wren. As I suspected, it was something to do with her magic and not being able to use it properly. As a result, there had been an accident, and people had been hurt.

I found her sitting on the steps of the tavern, reading. For once, I got to ask her what she was reading about, and she told me it was a book about archery that Vuk had told her to read. I asked if I could borrow it after her, saying that I quite fancied the idea of making a bow. I told her the quote from Francis Bacon about reading making a full man and mentioned that it was highly likely that he and John Dee had known each other.

Since we were alone, I asked her what it was that she had wanted to talk to me about the other day. She had mentioned wanting to talk to me when we had been talking about her training with Galyanna, but I hadn’t had a chance since. She closed her book and thought about it for a few moments; clearly it was something she was uncomfortable about. She seemed to steel herself and then uttered something in a frantic rush, almost as one word without breathing, before stopping and looking worried.

So far as I could understand it, she thought she had almost killed Hadley and that Hadley hated her now. I hugged her for a few moments and told her to breathe, taking a few deep breaths of my own and telling her to do the same. I told her what I thought she had said and asked her to tell me, slowly, from the beginning. I pointed out that there was just the two of us, so she could tell me anything at all and I wouldn’t be angry, because we were friends.

She told me I couldn’t tell Aoibheann, which I understood completely, and took a few moments to gather her thoughts. I assured her that I would not tell anybody anything she didn’t want me to. The story was that she had gotten mad, not at Hadley, but at things in general, and her magic had leaked out, making a tree come partly to life and start to attack Hadley. She didn’t know how to control it, but she had managed to get it to stop, and broke of a branch instead. However, now Hadley wasn’t talking to her, or so she thought.

I hugged her again and told her I understood completely. I reassured her that I wasn’t going to be angry or judge her. What happened was not because of any malice or intent on her part, it was an accident. There were two things that we could do, I said. One was helping her to recognise and deal with her anger, cope with getting mad, and the other was learning to control and direct her magic.

I wanted to gain a little more of her confidence, so I leaned closer, lowering my voice a little as if I were trying to tell a secret. I told her a little about how vampire bloodlines or clans worked, and in particular, told her how my clan were supposedly prone to outbursts and getting crazy. I said that she had never seen me do that, because I had learned to deal with that aspect of my nature. I thought of all the times Mother had helped me as a child, dealing with the anger and the fear from all the bullying, but that was something to tell her another time. I recalled vaguely having made reference to it in respect of my hair, so I knew she would understand when I did get round to telling her. As to the magic, I said we had already spoken of it, and I was more than willing to help her discover how to use hers, or at least discharge it. Maybe we could learn how to channel it into something less dangerous, like a wind or flashing lights, or making loud farting noises. Despite what Vedis had said, I did not think it was a good idea to try to get rid of it, as it had a habit of popping up.

Besides, I said, trying to cheer her up a little, the magic was part of her. Taking it away might change her and I rather liked her the way she was. Hadley would come round, I said.

She looked at me and quietly asked me to promise that I didn’t hate her, which I did, with a quick kiss on the top of her head. Of course I didn’t hate her. She was worried that maybe she was malicious person and that she did want to hurt people. I assured her that I did not think she was like that, because a malicious person couldn’t make nice bracelets. That distracted her a little, and she started to ask about my clan, but before we could talk about it any further, we were interrupted by Dorina and Hadley, who looked equipped for foraging.

We said hello and Dorina said that they were going to look for herbs, suggesting that maybe they could make some love potions to sell to the villagers. I was not overly impressed with this idea, thinking it inappropriate for somebody as young as Hadley. I kept my response mild, though, suggesting that the villagers seemed quite capable without the help of potions, a view that Wren echoed, with the addition that she didn’t like the idea, because that might lead to more kissing, which was gross.

I went on to say that I thought there were probably things that were more appropriate for Hadley to learn and, adding a little bit of my presence into the suggestion, advised that I could not allow the use of any potion or other magic that would have undue effect on a person without their consent. If people wanted to use potions for their own enjoyment, that was up to them, but using things on other people without their consent, no.

Dorina made a face at me, saying that maybe she should make a fun potion for me and put it in my drink. She then said that she was kidding and that she wanted to teach Hadley the properties of the various herbs, and perhaps make a protection pendant.

Wren seemed amused by the idea of me taking a fun potion, but very sensibly said that making somebody love you with a potion was mean, because it wouldn’t be real love. I told her she was absolutely right in that respect. Then I got up and denied needing potions to have fun. I could sing, I said, giving them a few bars of “When I was a lad” from HMS Pinafore. I could dance, I said, offering a hand to help Wren up and asking if she could remember the steps I had taught her at Maric’s ball.

That lightened the mood a little, and Wren got up, claiming she wasn’t sure about the dancing, thinking she might break my toes. I told her that was part of the fun. Dorina said that we were welcome to join us. Hadley seized on that idea, and used it as a chance to make overtures to reconciling with Wren. Yes, we should join them, she said, because we needed a patrolman, and a… and a Nate to protect them. That got a smile from Wren, who said that they did indeed need men to protect them, and stood to attention, trying to make herself as tall as possible.

I asked where we were going and what we were looking for. Dorina said we were looking for Angelica, and described what it looked like. I remembered Angelica well, because Mother used to candy it, and also remembered her warning me to be careful because there were similar looking plants that were poisonous. We went down to the waterfall just outside the village to search for it, since she thought that was a good place. I gave my usual warning about venturing outside the village until the Accords were in place, but since they were with me, I felt sure we would be ok. I let them go searching, while I relaxed on the bank and kept an eye out for the fae. As it turned out, we were not bothered.

So, now I know, at least in part, what happened with Wren. I am a little concerned still, because I am sure that when we were talking about the accident, she said that she didn’t want anybody else to get killed, which suggests that there may have been a more serious accident. It would not change my view of her, but it means it may be harder to get her over it. The main thing is that she has opened up to me, and perhaps, will open up some more in the future.

 

Elvis Costello – Accidents Will Happen

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

 

Where There’s a Will

It seems my instincts about magic are on the right track. I found a passage quoted in one book to the effect that magic is the art of causing change through the application of will. I was quite pleased with this as it was more or less what I had told Wren only the other day.

As it happened, shortly after I read that passage, Wren turned up. She had been practising her archery, but Vuk had sent her away, as she had been practising too much. I said that it was true that you could practice too hard. Sometimes, you needed to stop and do other things, forget it for a while and then come back to it.

As she often does, she asked what I was reading, so I told her what I had just read about magic being the application of will. She wanted to know if I was reading this stuff so I could help Hadley. I said that was true, but also to help her, and to help me because I have often found that teaching is a good way for me to learn.

I told her that I was setting up an area for magical practice, where Hadley could move a few rocks around. Wren thought that throwing rocks was something people did when the got mad and wondered how that would help. I told her that the idea was to practice a form of magic – moving things – in an area where it wouldn’t matter if it got moved too fast. The idea was to learn to exercise control. I added that the amount of energy required to move a large rock might be enough that she could use it as an exercise to shed any excess energy if it built up again. I picked moving things because it was one of the first things I learned from Paasheeluu.

I demonstrated by putting one of my books down and magically shoving it to the other side of the room. That was possibly foolish, as I hadn’t tried that sort of magic in a while, but, to my immense relief, it worked. Wren wondered if the book had told me how to do that. I said no, it was Paasheeluu the unicorn, who she might better remember as Mitternacht, who had taught me that. She did remember Mitternacht and her using her horn to move things around. I told her the book was more on the philosophy and theory of magic. She thought that sounded boring, so we talked about some of the other things Mitternacht had taught me, which whiled away the time pleasantly until it was time for dinner.

Where There’s a Will

It’s a Kind of Magic

I am gratified that young Wren is settling in nicely. So far as I can tell, she is fitting in with the townsfolk and the guard look to have adopted her as one of their own, which I am sure is good for her. However, there are times when I am concerned. I suppose that is only natural. I am fond of her, and I have placed myself in the position of being in loco parentis, so it is right that I worry. In particular, I worry about what happened to her before she came to Mysthaven. She still won’t talk about it, but I am beginning to suspect that there was some sort of accident, possibly involving uncontrolled use of magic. I do not want to push her. I am sure she will tell me in time, but I still worry.

I had left a note for Maric regarding the situation with Hadley, but I wanted to get more background, so I invited Wren to join me for tea and a chat. I asked her what she thought of Hadley’s situation. Was this just a temporary ‘my parents won’t let me do anything’ phase or something deeper?

Wren was quite certain that this was not the case. Alec and Isabella had continually lied to her. Hadley didn’t know that she wasn’t completely human; she didn’t know she had magic; she had no memories of Ember and Wren even. She was sleeping all the time so she could come here and nobody even cared. Wren was afraid that she would die trying to get here or that Alec and Isabella wouldn’t teach her about her magic and she could hurt herself or others.

I didn’t know what to say at first. As much as I love Alec and Isabella, and I do still love them, despite what happened, I was not blind to their faults, but this seemed to go beyond those. Perhaps they had changed since leaving Jasper Cove, I offered, knowing that the end of the cove had been traumatic for all. Wren said that they had always lied, but maybe they lied more after Jasper Cove.

I asked more about Hadley’s magic, since she was a biological daughter rather than adopted. Wren knew that Isabella was fae, but was not sure about Alec. Having seen him in full black winged form, she thought he was maybe demonic. He had told her that he was human, but had done a lot of experiments. I managed to stifle a dry chuckle. That part at least, I told her, was true. He had been human, and he had done a lot of experiments. I thought briefly of the John Dee journal that I had neglected studying for too long. I said I wasn’t sure what he was now. I said that I suspected that he was possibly of angelic stock rather than demon, and pointed out that the two were not that far removed. She said that he didn’t seem angelic, which came across rather bitterly. I told her that Lucifer had been an angel before the Fall. Angels were not necessarily nice, I said, any more than demons were necessarily nasty, pointing to Galyanna and Vedis as examples. As far as Hadley’s magic was concerned, I suggested that it was likely mostly fae, through her mother, as Alec’s magic came from a different source, so might not be hereditary. We spoke briefly about how we would care for Hadley when she got here, and how we would take care of her magic. I had some fae in me, so I could help a little, but Gwyn might be better, once we resolved the issue of Gwyn’s conflict of interest.

I asked about Ember, since she had been mentioned. Wren did not know a lot, other than that Ember had been sent away to stay with some aunt. She and Ember used to be able to communicate telepathically, but since she had gone away, that link had been silent and she did not know how to activate it herself. Ember had always been better at the magic than she was. She didn’t know what sort of magic it was. There had been some sort of Magus, before she came to Jasper Cove, before they were adopted. They were not with this Magus willingly, but because she had killed their parents in order to steal their magic, and when they were older, had made them work for her. It was clearly something she was uncomfortable talking about, so I didn’t press the matter, thought I was curious as to how they got away.

She was equally reluctant on the matter of her magic. I offered to help her find out what it was and how to use it, to control it. She was quite adamant she didn’t want it at all. She didn’t want to use it, she wanted to neutralise it. She wanted to make it go away, to stop doing it by accident. She didn’t want anybody else to get hurt. The way she said the latter, I suspect something had happened, and that somebody had gotten hurt, badly. Again, I didn’t push the matter, but I quietly emphasised that knowing how to use it would give her the option of not using it. I mentioned the time I had bruised myself quite badly running into a wall, way back in London, when I did not know how to use my vampiric abilities. I got her to at least think about it.

I had to go then, as my other duties called, but I promised I would help her any way I could. I said I would do my best to persuade Maric to let Hadley come here. I couldn’t promise that it would work, but I would do my best.

It’s a Kind of Magic