ruth be told, my mother, who was a Wytch was seduced by one of the Unseelie Fae, Gan Ceanach, which in human language, means “Love Talker”. He showed up in the grove to where my mother was gathering herbs. She though it strange that he cast with no shadow even in sunlight and birds stopped their singing in his presence. He had, my mother said, the most enchanting voice and she was enraptured by him. And…well, I was the result of that union.
But when one is born with one foot in the world of the Fae, and the other foot within the world that is human, you tend not to be accepted by either one. My mother raised me in the ways of the Wytch, and we lived upon the Fortunate Isle. I had become through my own set of deceptions, the High Lady of the Island. I am, if nothing else, a creature who understands the rules and intimate balances of all of the forms of the most intoxicating thing in the seven spheres of existence. That thing is known to all as power.
I have long since left the safety of the Fortunate Isle. I have all but closed the mists so that access is no longer possible to any save myself. Now I just reside within the Black Forest biding my time, waiting for the war had been brewing for millenia. I’faith, I had done my part in it, but that is another story for another time.
I pulled the dark cloak about me tighter. This would be the first time I had ventured out of the Black Forest in a very long time. but in this I had little choice. I had followed the Red King, Nuada, to Berlin. The very survival of the world depended upon alliances that could be drawn up here. I had passed through the first gates and fortifications, only to be stopped by a guard at the second.
“What is your purpose here, madame?”the human man, obviouslyu of French origin asked me.
“I am here to see King Nuada, “I said simply.
The young man scoffed, shaking his head. “Sure, he said, and just whom may I say is here to see him? ”
I pushed back the hood of my cloak to reveal my face. The young Frenchman looked at me with astonished eyes. The lightning bolt of recognition of my face clearly made him nervous.
“Tell him that the High Lady of the Fortunate Isle…..the Halfling wishes to see him.”
The shadows outside the penthouse of King Nuada were cool, and a welcome respite from the bustle of the City of Berlin. I peered from the tall double doors that were slightly apart. From inside I caught the scent of Seelie Incenses. When my escort opened the doors to announce my arrival to the King, I kept my face a mask.. As the door swung open for me to be received, I caught sight of the wizened, yet handsome head.
I stood barely inside of the door, for a fragment of a moment unable to move and I could not help but feel the rising tide of apprehension that rose from deep inside of me. It was as if each step had to be forced. I’faith it is hard to stand before the one whom many call the Great Seelie Uniter. I inclined my head but did not bend my knee, for as High Lady of the Fortunate Isle, for me to do so would have implied allegiance. Now was not time for that.
“You come at an inopportune moment, Halfling,” Nuada said quietly, appraising me, “You have not changed.” His power was a palpable thing, and it instilled awe in that part of me that was human.
“And it seems that your Majesty is in a predicament,” I fought to appear as if I had ignored the comment, which was meant to be a barb, “and you have not changed much either, Majesty.”
“Why did you come?” Nuada’s voice was hard, yet his tone did not border on impolite and his eyes did not mask their curiosity. He was, if nothing else, always direct.
There had always been an uneasy alliance between the Seelie and the Unseelie Fae, if there were ever any alliance at all. The lines of neutrality that had been drawn were far more opaque, far more subtle than most could perceive. And yet, there were always those things which were unspoken and immoveable. I wanted to count on those things about Nuada that I knew to be true.
“Word has reached Us on the Fortunate Isle of your daughter’s capture. We have also been told that she has fallen under Prince Itet’s…..influence,”I said, “The Circle has sent me to try the traditional role that we have always taken as mediators toward peace between all Fae, Seelie and Unseelie; Sidhe and Non-Side as well as humans. But you and I both know, as they do not, Nuada, that such a peace is not possible. Not this time, is it?”
Nuada did not answer but motioned toward a conversation pit in the centre of the room that was filled with overstuffed chairs and gleaming teak and glass tables. Behind him a servant went into an alcove and fetched a tray that held two long stemmed glasses. I followed him into the low seating area and he waited until I took one chair and took the one closest to my own. Not until the servant had given us our goblets, filled with a dark liquid that I knew to be Seelie sweet wine, did he speak.
“It’s been three generations since the Circle has sent anyone to negotiate. Why do you think it is different this time, Halfling?” Nuada raised his glass and took in the bouquet of the wine.
“Itet has been using higher and much stronger magic this time,” I said, “In spite of the most powerful wards that we have placed around us, the shielding that we have done to protect the Fortunate Isle and those who inhabit it, something untoward has happened recently. The Isle was in the open, rather than retreating into the Mists, as should always have been the case. We were left visible and vulnerable. The damage, thankfully, was contained, Your Majesty, but we cannot have just anyone and everyone being aware of our location. If the Fortunate Isle falls to Itet – then so shall everything else.”
“What are you proposing?” Nuada’s eyebrow raised slightly as he took his first sip from his glass.
“The end of neutrailty for the Fortunate Isle, Majesty,”I said, “Everything depends upon it.”
Nuada considered me carefully, and when he spoke at last his voice was filled with anger.
“Why did you not seek me out sooner? Did you really think your cloak of secrecy would protect you from this conflagration? There is no more room for neutrality. It’s so simple we don’t even need a bargain. You must support me or you will perish with the last human breath drawn on this planet – just as the Dark Forces of Itet will perish when their deed is done. They are gone mad.”
Nuada’s words were sharp, but i’faith, I knew them to be absolutely true. Of all the Fae kings of his line, the Great Red King, Nuada of the Silver Arm, was wise and had maintained the peace. I ignored his tone to me, which was appropriate, as he was a King, and it was upon his beneficence I was placing myself and all the inhabitants of the Fortunate Isle. Indeed, perhaps the whole of humanity would rest upon our alliance this day.
“I assure you, Majesty,”I said, “Had the Circle had allowed me to come sooner, I would have. I am certain that I need not remind you of how debilitating committees and quorums can be.”
“Why?” his eyes were hard, noble his jaw set, “Why did they send you?”
“ You already know the answer to that, Nuada,” I said, “They didn’t send me. I demanded that I be allowed to go to you myself. It was my choice and my honour to do so. I felt that we owed you at least that level of respect.”
“More than respect, Faelyn” he said, using my true name, “it is your pledge of loyalty that I am after. “
Nuada knew well my bloodlines. I’faith, how could he not? Was he not King? The Sidhe Blood of Nuada, the proudest of all Fae Kings, could have easily sensed within me my parentage. I had been readily accepted by Jareth, King of the Goblins, for he knew that the alliance with the Ladies of the Fortunate Isle, was strategic to the survival of his own Kingdom in the Underground. But Jareth was a distant kinsman by default. Nuada was not. Nuada was a part of those Fae whose blood could be counted upon to be the purest of the pure. He was the first, the triumphant, and even the defeater of Death. But would he be strong enough to win against Itet? Being Unseelie Fae myself, I knew Itet’s magic. By all intents and purposes there were those who wagered I would go to my own kind rather than the Seelie Fae. But Itet had grown mad, fanatical in his hatred of all things human. And even though I favoured he Fae half of my parentage more than my human half, in Itet’s eyes I was an abomination, a polluted and tainted half-caste that should be stomped out with the rest of humanity . Events and situations had shifted to a ruthless, swirling mass of magical intrigue and ever widening pools of power that threatened to overturn the balance of everything. I was left with no choice in the matter. But if I had the luxury to choose, Nuada would have won out with me irregardless.
I pulled at my necklace of the symbol of my office as High Lady of the Fortunate Isle. The glittering green emerald and ruby pendant concealed a small blade that was short but was razor sharp. Whatever blood offering that I gave to Nuada now, however, Itet would sense. There would be plenty of time for that. Thinking better of drawing of blood before the meeting as a token of loyalty to Nuada, I drew myself up and sank to one knee. My obeisance would be token enough, for now, though I suspected that Nuada would not be quick to trust me.
“I come as High Lady of the Fortunate Isle to pledge to stand with You and the Seelie Fae as you see fit,”I said in a soft yet clear voice, ” in order to defeat our shared Enemy, Prince Itet and all those who serve him.”
I bowed my head to Nuada, and lay my arms before me in prostration. It was an act of trust, that I was certain some of my sister-Priestesses on the Fortunate Isle would have bristled at. If he wanted to, I thought, Nuada could easily take a sword and remove me from my head. It would not matter if I were human or immortal, it would be my end. The moments seemed like an eternity as I waited for Nuada’s response.