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 3 – Dominion Queen

“Oh, you’ve GOT to help me!” said a frantic girl standing on a bed at the far side of the dorm room as I walked in. “It’s HUGE, and I can’t STAND the beasties!”

“Uh, what’s huge?” I asked, looking around the room. I pictured mammoth sized rats, or a Gnome with a pointed hat and a sharp knife.

“The SPIDER of course!” screeched the girl, her braided ponytails flying.

“Spider?” I asked looking down. I wasn’t fond of arachnids, but they didn’t frighten me either. There, in the middle of the floor about two feet in front of me was a small house spider. It wasn’t even moving. “You mean that?”

“Yes! KILL IT!… Please!” replied the girl, stomping her feet on the bed in a kind of silent dance.

“It’s just a little spider, really…”


Clomp. My foot came down on the bug and it crunched nicely under the toe of my tennis shoe.

The change in the other girl was profound and immediate. She abruptly let all the air out of her lungs in a massive sigh of relief. Then, without warning she leapt from the bed and dashed forward to stand over the squashed remains of the spider, examining it as though it might somehow reassemble itself and scurry away.

“Are you alright?” I queried her, still holding my bag.

“Huh? Oh sure,” replied the girl, noticing me for the first time. “It was just the spider that had me all flustered and all. I was just finishing dressing when that hideous thing came right out from under one of the beds and stopped in the middle of the room, LOOKING at me. I hate spiders. I don’t know why. I think it was some event that happened in my childhood that left me traumatized forever, you know, and now as a young adult I just can’t seem to get past it. I went to a therapist about it, but he just charged my parents a ton of money for nothing because I’m arachnophobic, that’s a fear of spiders. Can’t help it, it’s just a part of me. I’m Candice.”

I was taken aback at the fast-paced deluge of personal information, such that I missed that the girl had put out her hand.

“Miranda,” I replied and took my roommate’s grip.

“So you must be my new roommate, yes? I was starting to get worried that I was going to be the only one, and that would be just awful since I have a fear of spiders and all. But now you’re here, and maybe we can be good friends, yes? I hope so, because I have a hard time making friends, well, girl friends anyway. Not guys though. The guys tend to gravitate around me on account of these,” she placed her hands under her rather ample bosom and I noticed that the girl was remarkably top-heavy. With her ponytails and glasses, she looked like she belonged on the side of a bottle of German beer. It was no wonder all the guys liked her.

While Candice rattled on, I found myself growing more and more fond of the girl. At last, I had found someone that appeared to be even more socially inept than myself. Yes, Candice and I would get along just fine.

After picking a bed and putting away my things, we both left the room in search of the Main Hall. It turned out that we never did have to ask a wall, though I was eager to try it to see what would happen. There were dozens of students all going to the same place, and the corridors were crowded and noisy. Candice was jabbering about the sprite that had visited her and had explained about the academy and the Fae world. I was only half listening. I simply couldn’t concentrate on everything the girl said or I’d go insane. As it was, I almost missed someone calling for me down the hall.

“Miranda, over here!” Douglas’ stocky form was waving to us through the crowd. I touched Candice on the arm and pointed to get her to change direction and we met the boy just outside the huge doors to the main hall.

“I’m glad I spotted you,” he said, with his usual mischievous grin. I noticed that his eyes roamed over Candice for a moment, but then pulled away when he realized he was staring. I figured it was a normal enough reaction, and didn’t hold it against him. Hell, even I had stared at first. Then I realized that Candice was waiting to be introduced.

“Oh, sorry… This is Candice, my roommate.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Douglas. Well girls, shall we?” he indicated the hall.

Together, we moved with the throng into the huge auditorium-like meeting room, which was so immense that it gave one a feeling of agoraphobia, much like a modern IMAX theater I visited when I was seven. All around the edges were ornate colored banners embedded with gold and silver threads which made the images they held seem to move and shimmer as though animated. Above the banners, at ninety-degree intervals, were inset statues of various anonymous faeries, each holding a different object. The ceiling above was a massive compass, inlaid with intricate golden lines and symbols which I had never seen before.

Down on the floor, the room was situated as a giant circle, with half of the circle set up with tables and chairs for the students, and the other half for the staff and what I took to be guests, since they did not have blue and gold bands. The student tables were loosely broken into four distinct areas, with a smaller fifth separation at the very front, which was where all those without bands were directed. We managed to get seats a bit off to the left, and waited while the rest of the student body filed in. Finally, a man in white and gold robes stood up and moved to the podium.

“That’s Marcus Brightly,” whispered Douglas. “He’s Headmaster. I also heard that he’s the only Grandmaster-class spellmaker. Even among the Sprites…”

The last bit seemed to irk Candice, who frowned and shushed the boy so she could listen. As the man reached the podium, the room fell mostly silent.

“Greetings to you all, new students, and those returning,” came his cheerful voice, reaching out over the crowds. He didn’t appear to have any form of amplification, but I had no trouble at all hearing him quite clearly. “I will not waste your time with a long lecture, but certain formalities must be adhered to. As some of you know, I am Professor Marcus Brightly, and I am Headmaster here at the Academy of Dana. Over the next twelve weeks, I have the honor of getting to know most all of you to one extent or another. It is something I greatly look forward to. It is my hope that each and every one of you will find this semester to be all and more than you were expecting. We have some surprises in store for you this term, one of which I have the privilege of announcing forthwith. Many of you may have heard the rumors regarding the Market, and starting this semester, I have decided to start allowing student access…” There was an instant rise in the background murmuring, and even a few cheers and whistles of approval. I looked over to Douglas, who simply shrugged his shoulders, equally confused. Professor Brightly was waving his hands for order.

“…Provided,” he continued, bearing down the room with a serious stare. “Provided that all students are aware of the risks and are willing to follow the laws of the Fae where the Market is concerned. I highly recommend that the adventurous speak with a Student Counselor prior to journeying there, and that those students have at least a third semester level of competence or better.”

“What do you suppose that is,” I asked my new friends.

“I have no idea,” interjected Candice at once. “But I intend to find out. Hell if I’m going to let the upperclassmen have all the fun.”

“What about you, Douglas?” I had already made up my mind to take full advantage of every opportunity presented as well, but I wanted to see what the others would do first.

“Oh, I’m not one to miss out on an adventure! Count me in.”

Professor Brightly was speaking again before I could agree, and the room once again grew quiet.

“Now, without further ado, we will perform the Readings on the first-years. When you hear your name called, please come forward to be declared into a House. For those of you who are not aware of this ritual, each new student at the Academy is assigned an order, or House, from the four points on a compass. North, South, East and West. During your time at the Academy, your House will be your family, and shall be responsible for you. Please note, that each House is run ultimately by the actual Principality of that order within the faerie realm. I highly urge you to respect your brothers and sisters, and to avoid any unseemly confrontations, lest it be brought to the attention of your patron. Clear? Good. Also, please be on your best behavior as you are sorted into your houses, as this will take place by none other than the Dominion Queen herself. Show her your absolute respect. Let us begin please.”

At that point, a woman dressed in mere wisps of a light gauze-like garment stepped forward and unrolled a scroll. I realized after a moment that the female was a faerie, and that she was probably dressed in some formal outfit. Still, it was a bit shocking to see her standing there in something that would get her arrested back in my home town. Her breasts and nipples were quite visible, even at a distance.

“Christine Appleby,” announced the faerie in a loud voice, and a bit to my right, a girl stood nervously and headed for the stage.

“Diane Baxter,” she continued. “Moria Bently… Francis Cannoie… Jenifer Delt…” With each name, new first-year students slowly made their way to the stage. There, they briefly stood before another Fae woman seated in what looked like a throne of sorts. She was wearing both more, and less, than the faerie reading the names, and I wondered if there wasn’t some trick of the eye going on. The faerie queen would say something to them, and they would then move off to join one of the houses, where they would be greeted with pats on the back and handshakes all around.

A sudden sense of dread filled me when I realized that I might be about to lose the only friends I had at the academy. I wasn’t sure how much the Houses fraternized, but I hoped it was more than a typical Greek house in college. I didn’t relish the idea of having to pick my friends from only my own House, especially since I was doing so well socially for the first time in my life.

“Douglas McBride…” called the faerie, and the boy leaned in one last time before rising.

“Wish me luck!” He called and was trotting up to the stage.

“What House do you think he’ll get?” asked Candice, shifting nervously back and forth in her seat.

“East,” I replied at once. I had responded so confidently that the other stopped rocking and looked over at me. I myself was a bit shocked at my quick answer, and shrugged.

“I mean, I guess…” I added, heat coming to my cheeks. I had no idea why I had spoken, but the answer just felt right.

“Candice Mellions…” The faerie interrupted us before my new friend could say anything else. The girl rose and started up for the stage. When she was halfway there, she looked back at me. She was biting her lip and looked frustrated or something. Without saying anything out loud, she pointed to herself and raised one eyebrow in query.

The question was clear. She was asking me what house she thought she would end up in. Sighing, I risked something that I hadn’t done since I was thirteen. Without pause, I silently mouthed the word, “North.” I had half considered giving some other answer; just so that I would be wrong and wouldn’t look like a freak later. But I couldn’t. Once, not long after I had discovered I had some disquieting ability to guess the future, I had lied about an event I “knew.” It left me with a horrible feeling of being dirty or unclean in some way. The feeling had lasted for weeks.

I saw Douglas stand before the Dominion Queen, and wondered what words she was imparting to the boy; what words she would speak to me when it was my turn. I closed my eyes, carefully repressing the urge to try and “guess”. When I opened them again, Douglas was walking over to the East House to the applause of those gathered there.

And a few minutes later, it was Candice’s turn. Sweat gathered on my brow. What if I was wrong? I had never been wrong about the guessing before now, but there was always a first time. Here, of all places, I might find my unwanted ability scrambled by other “magic.” What would Candice think of me if I were wrong? Would she simply blow it off, or would she resent me for getting her hopes up. My heart beat with a ferocity that scared me until the girl before the faerie suddenly relaxed and turned away. I held my breath until I saw the other head for the North House seats. Then I let out my tension with a mighty sigh. I had been right again. But Candice was looking over her shoulder at me in the crowd. Her face was one of fear. She had been watching Douglas as well, and knew that I had been right both times. Finally, just before she reached her House, she turned to her new friends who greeted her enthusiastically.

The boy next to me jabbed me in the ribs. “Hey, isn’t that you,” he asked cryptically. Suddenly, I heard my name called for the second time. I had almost completely missed it. My face turning hot, I quickly stood and started forward down the aisle.

When I reached the stage, I realized that several girls in the front row were giggling at me.

“Forgot her own name,” teased one short-haired girl.

“She’s probably so frightened she’s about to pee her pants,” snickered another with long straight black hair and a small, pointed nose. The pair were obviously a few years older and wearing the colors and bands of the South House. All I needed now was to lose my cool just before I was presented to the Dominion Queen. I pushed back my anger and concentrated on not tripping as I moved up to the stage.

Once there, I waited for my turn before the royal faerie. Directly ahead of me was a tall girl with long sandy-red hair braided down her back. I could see that she was trying desperately to hide her fear, but her hands deceived her. Trembling, the girl moved up as another departed for the West House.

For the first time, I could hear what was being said to the girl in front of me by the Queen.

“Welcome Michelle. For you I see a road of both strength and pain. This place will not be easy for you, and you will wish at times to run away and return to the comfort and safety of your human world. But I tell you this, if you but trust yourself, you will overcome great and powerful opposition. Also, if you will have faith in your friends, and in your House, which is the East, even when it appears as though they have betrayed you, you will find a greater treasure than any you could imagine.”

There was a pause, and the girl began to turn away, thinking that she was finished.

“Wait,” said the faerie softly. “I have one more bit of advice. You will find you have trouble in mathematics. Do not despair. Look within and trust what your heart says are the answers. Go now child.”

Turning away again, the girl headed toward the East House. Even as applause erupted from her new friends, she looked back to the faerie queen in confusion.

I gulped and turned my own head to the faerie. The moment my eyes met the Fae woman’s, it was as though all sound in the room instantly vanished. Brilliance, like cold fire, seemed to dance around the Dominion Queen, illuminating her in an eerie light that took my breath away. She was a creature of terrifying beauty, and her eyes held a power that commanded without words. Only half aware that I was walking, I stepped closer and closer to the woman until I was only a few feet away. Close enough, I realized, for the faerie to reach out and touch me.

For some reason I couldn’t explain, this possibility frightened me to my core. A deep sense of dread formed in my belly and slowly worked its way outward until my hands were cold and trembling. The dark fire that cast a magical light on the faerie flowed out and around me as though alive, but its touch was not without effect as it was for the queen. Instead, I thought that it burned slightly wherever it touched me, not with heat, but with cold.

The faerie’s eyes held mine for what seemed hours, denying what my internal clock told me was mere moments, and I began to feel a pressure, pushing at me from all sides. The fire had closed around my body and was passing right through me with only minimal resistance, its icy fingers touching my very soul, my mind. I wanted to run. I wanted to dash off the stage and out into the great reception area. I wanted to pass back through the gate and run all the way back to my home in San Diego. Back to my mother, and back to being a normal girl who knew nothing about the Fae world. But I couldn’t move. My body was not mine to control. I was held immobile by both the strange cold fire and my own fears, and could not even turn my gaze from the beautiful faerie.

To my surprise, it was the queen who first turned her head. She looked to the nearby table where a number of instructors were gathered, singling out Professor Brightly. In the softest of tones, as though she were fearful to utter them, she asked, “This one?”

I was able to turn my head just enough to see the Professor nod once. His face was dark and serious, as though he had just pronounced some horrible death sentence upon me, and with a renewed sense of panic, I turned back to the Dominion Queen just as the faerie grasped my hands and drew me even closer.

“Ahhh!” I gasped, summoning all my courage not to appear to pull away. Even though the other was hardly grasping my fingers at all, I knew that I would be unable to actually break away if I had possessed twice the strength. Once again the eyes of the Queen bored into me, searching every corner of my psyche. The woman’s face was a mask of confusion and to my surprise, compassion. It was as though she could see something horrible about me that I myself had missed or was unaware of.

“Oh child, there is so very much that I would like to tell you,” came the queen’s voice from all around me. I saw her lips moving, but the words were almost out of sync, as though dubbed from some other language. “But my time is short. You will have a great and terrible choice to make, and there is nothing I can say to guide you, except to tell you to follow your deepest heart and be true to it, even when others around you might suffer for it. Miranda, your path is woven through the lives of your friends as a fog on a cool night. No matter what course you finally choose, it will affect them. You can not run from your own destiny, only shape it so that it becomes acceptable to your soul. You are in the East House. My thoughts go with you.”

My hands slipped from the faerie queen’s, and I saw that they were wet with tears not my own. I stood there for a moment longer before I realized that the fire had faded and then vanished, and that the noises of the Great Hall had returned. I gazed down at the drops poised on the backs of my hands and wrists, and slowly smoothed the salty moisture into my skin as I walked shakily towards the side of the stage and to the East House. Stunned, it took me a moment to notice that the boy Douglas was calling my name.

“Miranda! You made it girl! We’re in the same house!” Suddenly, there were hands grasping and pulling me forward into a happy circle of congratulation, and whatever feelings of dread that had lingered from my encounter with the queen quickly faded. “Man, she must have really said something powerful to you, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“I… I…” I stammered.

“Hey, it’s okay,” he interrupted me. “You don’t have to tell anyone, that’s the rule. What she said was private for you, ya know? Hell, all she told me was something about staying out of trouble.” He grinned to let me know that he was only half joking and urged me forward to meet the rest of the new East House first-years.

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