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.


Tales From the Fae – Part V: The Academy of Dana

Chapter 45 – Black Blood


“Ran!” Screamed Michelle in horror. She had seen the tiny magical dart hit her friend, but could do nothing. Now, with the strange red field gone, she dropped to her knees next to the pale body of Miranda Summers, her palm still held in her own.

“STAY BACK!” Bellowed the faerie Ananha, who literally snatched her hand away and then carefully moved it up to her face, close enough to read her fingerprints. “No one touch her! Michelle, do you feel at all faint? Any tingling?”

“What? No… Help her! Help Miranda!”

She stopped her. “First Stuckey! I need you to concentrate on yourself for a moment. Are you certain!?”

She looked at the Fae woman directly and took a breath. “I’m sure. Please, Mistress…. Please help her!”

The headmaster joined them. “Ana?”

The principality turned to the West House doorway and called out, “Keila, I require the container!” A few moments later the Principality of the North was handing her the pieces of something. Ananha blew over the fragments until they glittered softly, quivered, then were still again.

Sighing, she looked at the prone girl on the green-glass floor. “This is not good.”

“What hit her,” asked Professor Brightly.

“It’s called Black Blood, Marcus… and it’s not Seelie.”

The man’s eyes widened slightly, but he retained his composure. “Can you stop it?”

The faerie looked at the unconscious figure of Miranda with dread in her eyes. “No. I think I know someone who can… But you’re not going to like it.” She looked up at the Headmaster, and Michelle got the impression that they were exchanging information without the use of words. His face grew dark and serious until he finally nodded.

“Call her. I’ll make arrangements.” Standing, he turned to Verith, who was watching over a stunned Grace and Chris. “I need you to go to the Great Hall and keep everyone there,” he explained to the faerie Principality. “No student is to leave that room until I give the word, understand?” The other nodded and left at once. To Keila he said, “Head over to the entrance gate with a dozen of your best. We’ll take no chances with this.” The faerie nodded once and left the room at a run. Grace Leavey, who’s normally controlled and flat facial expressions now reflected fear and confusion, dropped down to her knees in front of Professor Brightly and bowed her head.

“Please forgive me,” she said softly. “I’ve been a fool.”

“Yes you have, Grace.” He grasped her by the leathers on her shoulder and hoisted her to her feet, an action that belied his appearance and frightened her all the more. When she was looking him in the eyes again he continued. “And my leniency in this matter will weigh heavily on how you act in the next few hours. Right now, I need you.”

“Sir!” she replied, shocked.

“Healer Clias is on her way here. Clear a path for her. Tell anyone you meet to go to the Great Hall at once. Headmaster’s orders. Chris, go with Grace and assist in any way necessary. Once you have escorted the Grandmaster to the arena, I want you to report to Verith in the Great Hall, understand?”

“Yes, sir,” she said and swallowed hard. At his nod, the two girls turned and exited through the North gate.

“Mavin, Delaney…”

“Sir?” they said in near unison, as much surprised by the Professor’s actions as Grace and Chris were.

“I need you to escort Shaina. Take her to Verith.”

The two girls looked at each other. Finally, it was Mavin who spoke up. “Professor, Shaina’s gone. She ran off when Mistress Keila brought that box thing to Ananha.”

“She what?!… Of all the impertinence! Very well, I’ll have to deal with her later, there’s no time now. You two go out and close all but the West doors into the arena. You are then to join the others in the Great Hall. Do you understand? No dallying! GO!”

He turned back to Ananha, not even waiting to see if they complied.

“How is she doing?”

The faerie was grim. “Not good. Clias may know a way to slow it, but the curse is progressive. It’s also designed to resist removal. Unless it’s done correctly, it will kill her all at once instead of slowly. She shouldn’t feel too much of the pain as long as I keep her unconscious.”

He nodded. “Very well. I shall go and greet our… guest.”

“Is Miranda really going to die?” asked Michelle when Professor Brightly had left the room, her face a twisted mask of grief.

Ananha placed a hand to her cheek. “We’re working on it. Don’t give up hope. I know someone who can counter this curse, and they are on their way.”

“Who is it?” she asked. “I thought Clias was the best there was.”

“You’re right, she is the very best healer from the Seelie Court.”

Michelle frowned. “I don’t…”

“This is an Unseelie curse, Michelle.”

She frowned in confusion, but then all at once understood and her eyes grew big. “Oh!”

“And she’s very dangerous, thus the precautions.”

“Sending everyone to the Great Hall?”

The faerie nodded. “I would probably feel better if you joined them…”

“No. I’m not leaving her side.” Michelle locked eyes with the Fae woman, who finally sighed.

“Very well, First. But, remember your place and your manners. Though she may be Unseelie, Cailleach is still a Principality.”

“Cailleach!? She’s the one coming?! Isn’t she the head of the whole Unseelie Court?”

The other nodded. “That’s right, so watch yourself, Stuckey. She’s not likely to try anything while she’s here, but she’s called the Veiled One for a reason. She is as devious as they get, child. Give her the chance and she will steal your very soul.”

Michelle was quiet for a time, thinking.

“Mistress Ananha, do you think that’s what happened with Miranda? Did Cailleach get to her; steal her soul?”

The faerie looked tired and sighed. “What does your heart tell you?”

“Miranda wouldn’t let that happen. She’s true to this Court, ma’am.”

Ananha smiled. “I know she is. And more importantly, so does the Headmaster.” She looked off into space for a moment. “She’s coming. Clias is here already.”

A figure in green strode into the room and came right to Miranda’s side.

“Thank you, Clias. Be careful, it’s Black Blood,” she commented to the taller faerie.

“Oh goodness,” she whispered. “How did that happen? No, wait. I’ll find out some other time. I see you are holding her in an unawakened state… good. I heard that the Old Crone is coming?”

“Yes. She’s being escorted now.”

“Old Crone?” asked Michelle.

Clias was performing an elaborate charm which caused Miranda to take a sharp breath and then exhale very very slowly. “I’m going to try hibernating her. It probably won’t make a difference in this case, but it shouldn’t interfere with the curse either. We may be able to buy her a little time. ‘Old Crone’ is one of Cailleach’s many names. She is also known as…”

“The Blue Hag, Owl Face, the Hag of Beara, and my personal favorite, the Winter Witch.” Flanked by guards, a faerie with the strangest colored skin strode into the room. Professor Brightly and Keila followed closely behind. She was smiling and jovial until she saw the girl on the floor and her face turned instantly to a clouded frown and she stopped in her tracks.

“Miranda,” she whispered.

“You do know her then,” stated the Headmaster.

“We have spoken.” She replied carefully. “She was… promising.”

Ananha looked a bit angry. “She still is. Can you help her?”

As she came closer, Michelle saw that the strange faerie’s skin was a deep blue, almost indigo, and her hair seemed to shimmer as though it were made of some kind of metal. “Black Blood, is it? Nasty business that. Yes, I can help her…”

“Excellent,” breathed Professor Brightly with a sigh.

“…But it will cost you something.”

Keila stepped forward, her hands balled into angry fists. “How do we know she wasn’t the one who gave Shaina the curse in the first place!?”

“And why would I do that, Kee-kee? If I’d wanted her dead, there are easier, less… risky methods available at my disposal. As it happens, I enjoyed my conversation with this human.”

“I’ll bet you did. No doubt trying to weave your lies into her mind and…”

“Enough, Keila!” Proclaimed the Headmaster. “We’re wasting time. Cailleach, what are your demands?”

She frowned angrily at the Principality of the North, but continued. “First of all, we do this my way. This is a delicate procedure and I won’t be distracted by two dozen entities staring over my shoulder. Everyone leaves.”

“Impossible!” Cried Keila, but was quickly silenced by a look from Marcus.

“I am afraid I have to agree. It’s not acceptable to leave you alone with Miranda given the circumstances.”

The blue-skinned faerie sighed. “Fine. Leave the human then. She wants to stay anyway. But, the others MUST go.”

“Michelle?” asked the Professor simply.

She answered at once. “I’m not leaving her.”

“How valiant of you,” commented Cailleach with no small amount of mirth.

“Is that it?”

The Unseelie female smiled. “No. If I do this… If I save her life, then I want you to allow her to come to my Court during your break period; an internship of sorts. I offer my full mark as assurance of her safety.”

“Out of the question,” said Brightly with anger of his own this time.

“Come now, I only wish that you give her the opportunity. She is free to refuse.”

The Headmaster considered this. “No. It’s too dangerous.”

Cailleach started to get up. “Fine, then she dies…”

“NO!” Yelled Michelle. “Professor, please!”

The faerie raised an eyebrow at the frantic girl.

“Your FULL mark if she agrees?” asked Brightly, tentatively.

She nodded. “And you can have your minions check it all you want beforehand.” Miranda made a choking sound, as though she were having trouble breathing. “The clock is running, Marcus. This is going to take quite a while, so if you want to save her, I suggest you decide quickly.”

He took another five long seconds to consider his options before he spoke again. “I agree to your terms.”

“Outstanding,” answered Cailleach, smiling. Then the smile vanished. “Everyone that isn’t a freckle-faced human needs to get out of this room NOW!”

The guards, taking their cue from the Headmaster, filed out of the arena, followed by Clias and then Ananha. Keila stood her ground.

“If she dies, then so do you,” she hissed through clenched teeth.

The Unseelie faerie just grinned. “Tick-tock… Tick-tock…”

“Keila,” prompted Marcus and after a tense moment led her out. Michelle suddenly found herself alone with the strange woman.

The faerie wasted no time. Gripping either side of her shirt, she ripped the garment from top to bottom.

“What are you doing?!” cried Michelle, unsure if she should try and intervene.

“Stripping her,” stated the faerie simply. “You can either help, or get out of the way, but every second we waste reduces her chances of survival.”

Taking a deep breath, Michelle pulled off her friend’s shoes and then started on her pants. A minute later Miranda’s nude body was laid out before her on the green stone floor. She was very pale, and something about her flesh wasn’t quite right; almost as though there was a shimmering quality just under the semi-translucent skin. Cailleach had crafted a glowing frame of light that she was moving over various portions of Miranda’s body. Finally, she passed the frame over her friend’s leg and something changed.

“There you are,” she said smiling.

“Is that… Is that the curse?” Michelle asked, both frightened and mesmerized by the strange symbols and images that floated within the frame.

Cailleach never looked away from the magical construct. “That’s right.”

“I thought it hit her in the chest.”

The frame pulsed green as the faerie’s fingers played over some kind of virtual controls. “The curse moves through the body, basically corrupting the victims blood as it goes. It can take many hours before death, and is exceedingly painful. Ana was wise to keep her unconscious. The hibernation will help only a little though.”


The Unseelie woman glanced over at her briefly. “Ananha. You’re the one they’re calling Bel’ora-Merna yes?”

The human girl frowned. “I… I have no idea what that even means.”

Cailleach regarded her with renewed interest before returning her attention to Miranda. “It’s a Brownie term. Loosely, it means ‘swift merciful death.’ They say you show compassion on those you defeat in battle, and that you are unparalleled in skill. There’s even a rumor that you once took on half the Seelie royal court and held your own; that even the great Keila was unable to best you. Of course, such fancies are not to be taken too…”

Michelle had gone almost as pale as Miranda. The faerie noticed.

“The tale is true? Oh, how very interesting.” She chuckled. “My my my. I would very much like to hear about that little incident some time. Perhaps I have underestimated you, human. If you can take down my old rival even when she has help, hmmm. No, I shall definitely try not to get on your bad side.”

The girl seemed almost embarrassed. “I was just trying to defend my friend.”

“Yes? Well, she is blessed to have such a warrior at her side. If I might ask, Bel’ora…”

“Michelle,” she interrupted.

“Might I ask as to the mark of power on your forehead? It’s not a symbol I have seen before, though I recognise the Tailsmans of the Tuatha.”

Michelle was confused for moment. “Oh! That… I had completely forgotten it was there. It’s the blessing of Badb Catha. Miranda performed the ritual herself this morning on each member of our grade.”

Cailleach was so surprised that she actually stopped what she was doing for a moment and stared in disbelief at her. “Miranda is able to invoke the name of the Banshee?”

“Well, I’m not sure about that, but the marks were more of a symbolic gesture to improve our morale.”

On the cold green floor, the body of her friend had a brief convulsion and she appeared to be choking. Placing her hand in the center of the girl’s chest, the faerie seemed to calm her. When Miranda was stable again she returned to her work, but shook her head. “No, child. You’re wrong. Those symbols on your head are far more than a simple means to boost your spirits.” She actually chuckled to herself. “Much more indeed… I suspect that they will grow in power with every battle you have from now on. Very impressive. But even more so that she was able to perform the blessing at all. I wonder…”

“Mistress, if I might ask, what is it that you are doing?”

The faerie was lost in thought. “Hmm? Oh, the curse is a glyph. I’m making use of another special glyph to hunt it down and then disable it.”

“It can’t simply be removed?”

“Certainly… if you wanted your friend to die immediately. If it senses you are attempting to extract it from the host, it will release its full power all at once, and we wouldn’t want that. But the only other option is to enter the correct code at certain nodes along its construction. The right one will disarm it and render it harmless once again.” A sweat was building on Miranda’s body, which shivered slightly as though he were fighting an intense fever.

“And you know this code?”

She frowned. “No, I don’t. And so I must try them all until I hit the correct one.”

“Uh, how many are there?”

“Several thousand, why?”

Michelle gasped. “Thousand?! But… but that could take hours! Does she have that long?”

“That, my child, is why this particular curse is so devious. It’s a race you see.”

Michelle was lost in thought. “Are there any clues… to the code I mean?”

“Sometimes. It depends on who created it. Why? Is there some information I am unaware of?” The Fae woman was concentrating as she followed the glyph within Miranda’s body.

“I… I’m not sure. It was delivered in some kind of box, which broke apart.”

“Yes, that’s the way it’s transported. Who was the carrier?”

The redhead had a clear image in her head of Shaina as she flipped out her wrist and sent the deadly bit of magic toward her friend. The Principality must have picked up the thought.

“A student?! Impossible. She must have acquired it from someone else. There’s no way a simple First could have constructed Black Blood. Perhaps a contact at the Market?” The naked body below her started coughing and a dark, oily substance spattered out of her mouth and ran down her cheek.

“Why there,” asked the girl, terrified.

“This isn’t just Unseelie, Michelle, it’s a forbidden curse. There are rules of engagement that forbid the use of such horrors as is killing your friend right now. No, this was no one within my own Court… This was the Sluagh.”

She thought back to her classes with the nymph Rachael. “I thought that they were part of the Unseelie.”

“Bite your tongue, child! That’s nothing more than Seelie propaganda. The Sluagh hold no allegiances and serve only themselves. They have even thrown off the mantle of Gaia. They are evil to the bone, and death to anyone that gets in their way, Seelie or non.”

She considered this. “And they made this spell and sold it at the Market to Shaina?”

“It’s more likely that she was contacted directly.” Miranda’s coughing fits were coming more and more frequently, and Michelle noticed that the same oily sludge was dripping from her friend’s eyes like thick black tears. “This is not the kind of thing you pick up on a store shelf and pay for with a bit of milk money.”

“But… That would mean that someone outside… from the Sluagh… had to have known about Shaina’s desire to hurt Miranda.”

Cailleach worked the glowing frame up over Miranda’s shoulder, tapping and shifting it as she went. “Maybe. The penalties for having such a curse in your possession are extreme indeed; not something that even a member of that retched band would risk without reason. They would have created that glyph with their target in mind, that much is certain.”

Michelle looked horrified. “They wanted to kill Miranda? But why?”

“That is a very good question. She IS a remarkable girl…” The faerie glanced at Michelle’s forehead. “Very remarkable. Perhaps someone views her as a threat.”

“Please don’t be offended, but if they knew that much about Miranda, then wouldn’t they know that Ananha would call you for help?”

The Unseelie woman was silent for a bit. “Very clever. Yes. I am one of a very few members of the Fae capable of countering such magic, and perhaps the only one with whom Ananha has any past contact.”

“Which would mean that whoever constructed the curse would know that it would be you working to beat it before it killed her.” Miranda seemed to be having even more trouble breathing and the faerie stopped once again to administer some form of charm that calmed the dying girl.

“Possibly. What is your reasoning, child?”

Michelle was watching the faerie closely. “Do you always use the same method, to break the code I mean?”

Cailleach was hovering over Miranda’s left breast, shifting her position in order to get a better angle while she worked. “There are only so many ways it can be done, but on the few occasions I have needed to deal with this curse, yes, I have moved sequentially up the scale. There are sometimes anomalies that present themselves that can provide insights into code ranges that need not be tried.”

“The code is numerical?”

“No. It’s composed of magical symbols, but the symbols used all have numerical translations,” answered the faerie.

“And have you encountered any of these… anomalies yet?”

“I really don’t have time to give you a lesson in Fae mathematics, Michelle…” As if to prove her point, Miranda almost seemed to waken briefly. She arched her back up, her whole body tensing before Cailleach could send her back into unconsciousness.

“Please,” she begged. “I might be able to help. I have some unusual… talents concerning arithmancy.”

Once again the woman was silent, considering. “Yes,” she answered at last. “I have encountered three such anomalies so far.”

“Can you show me the equivalents numerically?”

Cailleach looked frustrated. “This is wasting our time,” she exclaimed, but she pulled away from the frame for a moment and drew with her finger in the air. A floating series of symbols stayed present even when she finally dropped back to her task.

Michelle stared at the orange, shimmering numbers and tried to think of what to do. They looked completely random and she had to admit that the faerie was probably right. It was a waste of time. Then something that Miranda herself had said came back to her. ‘…it seems that when you’re not trying, you can process numbers almost instantly. You just can’t think about it.’

“Don’t think about it,” she said to herself. “Just don’t think about it…” After one last look at the three numbers, she closed her eyes and took up one of the breathing exercises that Stix had taught her. She was just starting to relax when her roommate’s violent choking snapped her eye’s open again. The Fae woman was drawing her hand upward from Miranda’s mouth, and with it a shocking quantity of glossy black bile. The disgusting mass floated in the air for a moment, then shot off to splatter on the floor away from them as the faerie flicked her hand.

“What’s happening?!” asked Michelle feeling ill at the sight.

“We’re running out of time sooner than I thought. She’s dying.” She returned to her task, but was interrupted again only a few moments later when Miranda vomited more black oil violently into the air and onto the faerie. She wiped the worst of it from her face and dropped back to peer into her magical frame. “If you’re going to have some mathematical epiphany, NOW would be a good time!”

Sobbing, at the sight of her friend, Michelle closed her eyes and whispered, “Please… Don’t let her die! Help me…”

Like cotton had been inserted in her ears, the sounds around her faded and she heard a soft female voice that she recognised from her dreams.

“Let go, and the answer will come to you, my child. Let go…”

With one final breath, Michelle let the air from her lungs, and with it her fear and her resistance. And then she knew.

“I have it!”

“What? Are you sure?! We’re only going to get one shot at this…” Miranda was thrashing now, the faerie no longer able to keep the tormented girl’s body unconscious.

“Yes! I’m sure!” She then spoke a series of digits to the faerie, who translated them in as fast as she possibly could into her frame. Even before she finished she called out.


Seconds later the Principality was at her side along with Clias, and the human found herself knocked back out of the way. All three of them where doing things with magic that completely bewildered Michelle. Cailleach was drawing some brightly spinning thing right from her friend’s chest while Clias magically extracted more of the black vileness from her mouth, eyes, nose and ears. Ananha passed her hand down her wrist and a stream of dark red blood twisted and writhed in the air like a crazed serpent. She did the same at Miranda’s arm and then brought their wrists together, grasping her. Ananha’s sudden bellow of pain was so intense that Michelle scrambled a few feet further away in fear.

“Michelle!” Came the Unseelie faerie’s voice. “I need that box!” After a moment’s confusion, she blinked and scrambled forward. She searched through the slippery blackness covering the floor until she found the six pieces that formed the curse’s prison and came over to where Cailleach was hovering the spinning glyph in the air in front of her.

“Hold up the pieces… just bring them near it. That’s it…”


As if drawn by some powerful magnet, the sides of the box lifted right out of her hand and clicked together around the eerie magical construct. The faerie snagged the cube out of the air and sighed. “Gotcha, you little bastard!”

The next few minutes were a blur to Michelle, who, upon seeing no other way she could help, crawled back until she could rest her back against the wall and pulled her knees up to her chest, rocking slowly back and forth. She watched in a disassociated trance as the three faeries fought to save the life of her friend. Like a slow motion dance, they worked nearly as a single unit, and although they spoke and updated each other constantly, she could tell that there was many times as much communication going on non-verbally.

On at least three occasions it appeared to Michelle as though her roommate had completely stopped breathing, and once, she could have sworn that Clias put her hand right into Miranda’s chest. Finally, after much violent coughing, the girl started to breath more regularly. Soon, her shaking stopped and she no longer needed to be held down. Ananha released her grasp and moved away herself, her obviously tired body drenched in foul black bile and blood. She sat on the floor with her head between her knees, twitching every once in a while. Clias and Cailleach continued to treat their human charge, but the worst appeared to be over.

Moving closer, Michelle came back to the girl’s side, and was there holding her hand when Miranda’s puffy eyes opened and focused on her. The redhead was so relieved that she felt her throat closing up with emotion and had to take a few forced breaths.

“Do not try to talk yet, Miranda,” said Clias. “Just rest.”

Michelle saw her move her chin up and down in acknowledgement and nearly lost it.

“Hey, Ran.” She said simply as her voice cracked. “You had me worried there for a moment or two.”

Miranda managed a weak smile as oil swirled tears trailed down the sides of her face. The Black Blood was finally clearing.

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