A Word of Caution

Welcome to the realm of the Unseelie Court. Feel free to wander and browse, but know that the content you will find here is not for the faint of heart. The visions portrayed are often darkly erotic, even disturbing, and should be traversed only by those with the appropriate character and mental age.

You have been warned.


Poppins’ Return

Chapter 12 – Glyphs

With the college semester behind me, finals completed, and a general sense of unbounded freedom, I was finally able to sit down with Marly and devote myself to more simple subjects, such as The Practical Application of Gravitational And Temporal Constructs And Their Effect on Non-Linear Temporal Space, otherwise known as Magic 101.

Now, I was pretty decent at physics. It was one of the few subjects that actually made sense to me, even though I was a failure as a mathematician. But the concepts my lover was attempting to reveal to me that sunny Monday morning were far and away the most incredible leaps of science that I had ever seen.

Take for example the fact that by simple arrangement, a group of small stones can become an impenetrable wall of unseen force. Or by writing a certain design on paper, a set of actions takes place that causes the writer to see into the infrared for a period of time. These things and more, were what was giving my brain a serious workout as we sat in the shade of a large oak tree in our favorite park.

It had started simply enough.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Asked the cute redhead in front of me. “I’ll try not to go too fast, but stop me if you get lost, okay?” She continued when I nodded.

“Great. Alright. Let’s start with the basics. For all practical purposes, there are two kinds of magic. We’ll define that term more accurately later, but for now just assume that the term ‘magic’ stands for something that is neither mysterious nor sinister, but rather a concept that is completely founded within the laws of physics that you already know. Modern-day society has turned the term to mean something that is unexplainable, and this is not the case.

“The two types of magic are Temporal, and Gravitational. Temporal magic can be further divided into a number of subgroups, such as Audible and Written, but for now I’m going to deal with just Gravitational magic since it is a little easier to explain.

“In your physics classes, you have undoubtedly learned about gravitational attraction. This is the tendency for objects of mass to want to fall together. Something… scientists call it ‘gravity’, is causing this to happen, and if your classes were worth anything, then you probably learned that gravity is directly tied into both time and the relative motion.”

My brain hurt just thinking about it, but I nodded that I was still with her so far.

“Okay… Now take those concepts into the realm of non-linear temporal space, and a whole new possibility emerges. Like many things in physics, the laws of cause-and-effect can work both ways. It takes energy to move a bucket of water to a given height, and you can claim energy by moving that water back down to ground level, such as in the case of a waterwheel. Consider gravity for a moment. If from what you learned, gravity can directly affect time…”

“Then changes in non-linear temporal space can affect gravity!” I finished for her.

“Exactly. And those changes need not be a direct result of your own path. For example, you have seen how I can negate gravity by altering my temporal path. But it can work the other way too. Objects placed in precise relation to one another create changes in the gravity field, and in so doing, alter the ebb and flow of temporal space. Think of it like creating a current in the water of our theoretical lake. Given enough precision and complexity, you can cause very specific things to not just become probable, but certain.”

I sat there for several moments, dumbfounded. The implications of what she was telling me were phenomenal.

“Can you show me an example of this,” I asked finally.

“Sure, uh here…” she said, grabbing a number of small round stones from around us. Then she began to draw on the ground with the end of a stick. The dark earth held the pattern of her marks well, and her design gradually expanded until it occupied a circular area about two feet wide. When she had completed her designs, she took a dozen of the small stones and carefully placed them on the ground within specific areas of the pattern. She was very careful with the placement of the stones, and left two of them in her hands before she turned to me again.

“Okay. This construct is designed as a negator of gravity, but it only works within a very small area. The pattern on the ground is mainly for placement of the stones, but also helps to fine-tune and amplify the effect. This stone…” She held up the first of the two remaining stones in her hand, “…is the Target.” She then placed it carefully within a smaller circle at the center of the pattern.

“And this stone,” she continued holding up the last of the twelve original, “… is the Control. There are other controls, but this one is for amplitude, so it is key to all the others.” She then set the final stone within a triangle formed by the patten. Smiling, she slowly moved the stone toward the tip of the triangle, starting at its base. My heart skipped a beat when the stone in the center circle began to rise off the surface until it was hovering about three feet from the ground. My mouth hung open as I watched it rotate gently in the light breeze, unfettered by any connections to the earth.

“This is insane…” I commented. “Can I try it?” I indicated the Control stone.

“Sure. The reason magic like this is so important, is that it is rote. What I mean is that anyone can use it simply by learning to duplicate the pattern.”

I reached out and gingerly touched the Control stone with my index finger. Then, with a slight push, I saw the target stone rise another foot into the air. When I experimentally drew my finger and the Control back, the Target stone dropped down in direct logarithmic proportion. It was sort of like those totally unsafe helicopter toys that you had as a kid. The ones where the control box was off to the side, and your little toy helicopter was on a three foot metal guide wire and responded to your joystick just like a real helicopter would, only it was locked into a permanently circular flight path. I was transfixed. My eyes could see it, but I just had to reach out and verify that there really wasn’t anything holding up the dumb rock. As soon as my hand entered the boundary of the pattern, the Target stone fell to the ground.

“Hey! What happened?”

“You changed the construct,” she replied grinning.

“Huh… How?”

“Your arm has mass, just like any other object, so when it fell within the perimeter of the construct, it caused it to become unstable.”

“Sort of like breaking the spell…” I said placing the Target stone back within the small circle on the ground. The moment I pulled back, the stone jumped into the air, bouncing on a column of unseen force.

“Yes, exactly!”

I played with the Control stone for a while in silence, marveling at the simplicity of the concept.

“And they teach you this in Adept school?”

She laughed, blushing. “It’s really a smaller part of our training, but yes. Most constructs of this kind have limited uses in the real world…”

“I could think of some great uses!!” I chimed in.

“…Especially if one is trying to remain convert.” She locked eyes with me.

“Oh…” I said getting a clue. You couldn’t just drop this kind of technology on the general population without explaining everything, and that would mean exposing the whole of the Fae.

“There are far better, more powerful constructs that can be created by someone who really understands what they are doing, and who is not just regurgitating something from memory. Take my pendant for example…” She held up a small ring of stone attached to a thin chain. “While I wear this, it is impossible to drown me in water.”

“Really? Why,” I asked, examining the seemingly featureless bauble.

“Because there is a glyph attached to it that makes me float like a cork! So long as I wear this necklace, you can not push my face under the surface.”

“A glyph? Why do I get the feeling that we just opened a new can of worms… So why would you need such a thing? I mean, it could make diving into a pool a bit of a hazard.”

I noticed that Marly’s face suddenly reflected a deep sadness. She was quietly staring at the pendant.

“Hey, are you okay?” I asked.

She waited a moment and then answered, “I wear this to protect me from what happened to my mother. She was drowned by members of the Unseelie Court.”

“Shit… I’m sorry, Marly.” I felt like a real jerk, but I knew from personal experience that there was little I could do to comfort her except keep my mouth shut.

“It happened while I was just a child. A band of Fae folk known as the Sluagh, of which your Bazerith is a member, caught her and tortured her until she had no energy to resist anymore…”

I could see her eyes staring into the depths of her memories with painful clarity.

“Then they magically bound her feet in stone and tossed her into the middle of a lake to die. When I learned what had happened, I almost went out after them myself, alone and not yet more than five year old. I was restrained by an old friend, who caused me to fall into a deep sleep which lasted nearly a week. When I awoke, she gave me this and told me that I had to wait and be patient if I had any hope of justice. She was right of course, and I surely would have been killed had I attempted vengeance. She also explained that she would take me in as her own, and help train me so that one day I could stand up to them. She introduced me to the science of magic and instructed me as best she could in her fine art. Not being of the Fae, I couldn’t hope to learn everything that she wanted me too, but she gave me the tools I needed to make myself a feared adversary. Now, they run from me… Hiding and picking at my life in every way they possibly can so that I will make a mistake.”

Her sadness was quickly turning to anger.

“This simple pendant gave me the security I needed to go on with my training and overcome a powerful fear of water. That was the magic it was really created to perform, not the physical act of keeping me afloat. I only realized that last year,” she said bringing the chain up over her head. She stared back at me, the pendant in her hand.

“Today I know that it’s time to move on. This bit of magic is no longer of benefit to me.” The small ring of stone, and the chain went into a pocket and was gone. I said nothing. I knew the significance of what she had just done, and it had nothing to do with a fear of water, however intense that might have been. It had taken her nearly two decades to let go of her mother, just as it had taken almost that long for me to let go of mine. Words were meaningless, so we sat holding each other in silence until it was dark nearly three hours later.

Back in her room, Marly made me a cup of strange smelling tea and we continued where we left off.

“So these glyphs as you called them, are actually sort of like machines or robots or something, only made of pure energy.” I was staring into a delicate tea cup, wondering how offended she would be if I asked for a Coke.

“Yes… I’ve never really heard them described that way, but when I think about it, they are soft of like machines, or rather, computer programs.”

This got my attention. When it came to most things, I was a real dolt, at least compared to Marly. Ask me to speak French or write a decent essay on government and politics and I’ll probably laugh in your face. But computers were one of the few things I could claim to be fairly proficient with. Not because I was a genius or anything, but because I was a natural-born geek. I had all the stigmata: socially inept, white male loner, with an aptitude for science but not mathematics, good at logic and problem solving. Yup, that was me alright. I’d probably done more damage to my eyes by staring at computer screens for eight hours straight, than had I simply gone out and worn reading glasses around town. So while I might not quite grok the dynamics of non-linear temporal space, programming was right up my alley. I hadn’t messed with my computer in a while since you can’t split your attention between a female and a computer program. The two are mutually exclusive.

“Computer programs?” I blurted.

“Well, sure. Glyphs are nothing more than a series of instructions and components that work together to form a more complicated construct. Just because they happen to be assembled in a three dimensional way, or that they are made up of pure energy instead of bits and bytes, doesn’t mean that they’re alive or anything.”

“What do they look like,” I asked, taking a sip of the tea. It was bitter, and I winced. My lover smiled.

“Well now, that’s a little hard to explain. It would be like you trying to explain what a program looks like.”

“Ah…” I replied. The tea was both horrible tasting and delicious at the same time, kind of like coffee. I decided that I wouldn’t want to drink the stuff all the time, but I could stomach a cup or two if it would help my standing with my love.

“None the less,” she continued, “I can *show* you what they look like, if you’re interested.”

“Sure!” I said enthusiastically.

She nodded, and then picked up a piece of dark charcoal from the fireplace. Kneeling on the floor, she drew a mid sized circle around herself and then started writing something around the borders. I couldn’t make out a single character, so I assumed that the language was Fae-based. About ten minutes later, she set down the chalk and looked up and around the room, smiling. Reaching out her hand as she stood up, she beaconed me into the circle. I have to admit that I was a little nervous, but I took a deep breath along with her hand and stepped over the threshold carefully to avoid disturbing the drawing. When I looked up, my knees nearly folded under me.

The only way I can describe what I saw is to compare it to an underwater landscape filled with hundreds of tiny jellyfish which floated and scurried about the room in a way that was entirely eerie. I realized that the jellyfish things were what Marly was calling glyphs, and that they came in a seemingly infinite variety of colors and shapes. Some hovered at fixed points, or around certain objects. Others appeared to travel at will, circling the room, or passing through a wall as though on patrol. Many of the glyphs were small; no bigger than my hand. Others were about the size of a basketball, and incredibly complex and intricate.

Marly surprised me by letting go of my hand and stepping out of the circle. I gasped as I saw a half dozen smaller glyphs attached to, or hovering around her body. One larger glyph, the most intricate of the whole bunch, was positioned directly over her head, and rotated slowly like a silent sentry. It was both menacing and beautiful to behold.

“What you are seeing is the base of the magic I have protecting this room and us. There are many glyphs, each performing a different task. Some watch for certain things. Others gather information. Some, like the one above my head are designed to protect me.”

“What does it do?” I asked, watching it silently spin.

“Well, it has many functions. Some are passive, such as warning me of negative or hostile energy directed towards my person, or alerting me if certain entities come within a certain distance. Other functions are a bit more aggressive or physical, such as deflecting small projectiles or causing confusion in a would-be attacker. It can even cause temporary temporal disturbances.”

“Wow! It’s sort of like a watchdog.”

“Yes,” she replied enthusiastically, “Exactly. It adds to my vigilance so that I can do things like sleep or make love without having to watch my back all the time. You can’t rely on it for everything, since it can be defeated by other magic, but along with the other glyphs, it’s a pretty good means of protection.”

“And you made it?” I asked, admiring the complexity of the floating object.

“Oh no,” she answered at once. “The best glyphs are almost always created by the sprites. They’re the masters at this kind of magic. The one you see above my head was a gift from the Principality of the North. She created it for me after I performed a certain act of bravery.”

“Sort of a medal of honor.”

“Something like that. The reason that the sprites are so good at glyphs is because they are nearly glyphs themselves. A sprite could almost be defined as a being composed of pure energy. They have a soul, but no physical essence.”

For the next two hours, Marly explained the care and feeding of glyphs in great detail. It was interesting, but since I could only use other people’s constructs, it wasn’t as fun as I would have liked. She showed me the glyphs that she had placed on me, and explained that it was those glyphs that had alerted her to Bazerith’s presence in my room. Due to counter-glyphs it had taken them quite a while to reach her, and if they had been any more delayed, I doubt I would still be alive. Still, it was nice to know that there was something akin to a burglar-alarm watching me at all times. I had to wonder if the glyph was tuned to an enemy, or any female that made advances on me. Not that I had any intention of cheating on my red-headed lover.

The following day, Ananha returned with some news. We all sat in Marly’s room within an intricate circle. Clothes simply weren’t an option for Ananha, so my lover played the perfect hostess and stripped out of hers. I only hesitated a few moments before unbuckling my belt and joining them. I suppose that it might have been a little hard to explain if someone had suddenly walked in on us, but the door was locked and we had all been intimate with each other in the past, so what the hell. It was the nicest business meeting I have ever attended.

“We learned last night that the Unseelie are mustering their forces in preparation for something. It could just be a coincidence, but there’s a rumor that X’carin is on the move as well.” The faerie spoke mainly to Marly, but politely kept me in eye contact. I noticed my lover sit up a bit straighter at the mention of the strange name.

“X’carin?” I asked, looking back and forth to each of them. Marly seemed lost in thought, so Ananha answered.

“X’carin is a dryad. They’re VERY powerful. Normally, the dryads stay out of things, but X’carin changed all that. She used to be a Principality before she defected to the Sluagh. ”

“A Principality? Like you,” I suggested.

“Yes, and that makes her even more dangerous. X’carin has a reputation. She’s responsible for bringing down the last Faerie Dominion Queen as well as countless Principalities from throughout the Fae. No one dares stand up against her anymore.”

“And the Convergence?” Asked my red-haired tutor cryptically.

Ananha looked briefly at me, and then focused on Marly. I got the feeling that she was uneasy about that particular topic of conversation.

“It seems to be unaffected, but all of this could be part of it as well. Keila feels that we should continue as planned.”

“Uh, I hate to be pushy, but what are you two talking about?”

I noticed that Ananha eyebrows raised slightly, and then she turned to Marly.

“He doesn’t know?”

“Know WHAT?!” I whined.

“He’s not ready,” said Marly, looking into her lap.

“READY FOR WHAT!!??” I hadn’t meant to be so loud, but my frustration got the better of me and I whinced at my own voice. The two females were now both staring at me with their mouths open.

“Would somebody PLEASE tell me what the hell you are both talking about, or tell me to leave. I won’t be left in the dark any longer!”

“He’s right, Poppins. We should either clue him in, or tell him to go. I for one would like him to know what he might be up against. At least that way he can prepare.”

Marly sighed while my brain mulled over something.

“Mark, I still don’t think you’re ready, but Ananha’s right. The Convergence that we spoke of is a massive coming together of a great many temporal paths. We can see that in the very near future, there will not only be a new Dominion Queen, but a complete shift in the nature of the Fae. It’s an event the scale of which has never happened before, and its ramifications are staggering. We can tell that the changes are going to be huge, but because of the immense number of paths involved, it’s impossible to tell if the overall outcome will be favorable or not.”

“But wouldn’t a new Queen be a good thing?” I asked, trying to grasp the new information and merge it with what I already knew.

“Not if she’s Unseelie,” answered the faerie solemnly.

“And what’s my part in all of this?”

Marly took my hand. “We simply don’t know, Mark. We know that you do battle, and that you are somehow tied into the middle of everything. Beyond that, I’m afraid we’re just as confused as you. I wish I could tell you more, I really do. I’m so sorry. It was rude of me to keep you in the dark. Can you ever forgive me?”

I was silent for a moment.

“Well… As long as you agree not to hide anything else from me, I guess I can forgive you. Shall we kiss and make up?” I leaned forward in order to let her give me a peck on the cheek. Instead, Marly nearly knocked me over. Her arms were around me, and her tongue was inspecting the back of my throat.

It took me a second to regain my composure, but by that time, Marly was pushing her body up on top of mine. A few seconds later, I felt another warm mass snuggled up against my side, and a twin pair of legs intertwining with my own. Between the two of them, I was quite thoroughly convinced, some thirty minutes later, that I would never again be left out of their conversations.

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