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 20 – Humble Hall

It didn’t take more than a couple of trips to Humble Hall (named half jokingly in honor of the talking-to I had been given by the Headmaster) to realize that Candice’s concerns about locking the inner doors were more than a little justified. During our very first session we heard something out in one of the surrounding corridors that sounded like a giant dragging a very large sack, complete with grunting and swearing. At least, that’s what we thought it sounded like. Neither of us could identify the language. One thing was certain though, it wasn’t any human language, and definitely not Fae common either. Candice looked up a locking spell for the doors, and I added some warding of my own. I doubted it would hold off anyone with any real skill, but it was the best we could do, and a damn side better than the meager push bolts that allowed us to close off the room from the inside..

Just after we had settled ourselves on our next trip, I noticed a moving light near one of the doors at the opposite end of the hall. It was only there for a second, and by the time I had turned to ask Candice if she had seen it, it had vanished. I didn’t actually have to ask the girl if she had noticed the light, as her face was ashen.

“What the hell was that,” she asked, her voice trembling a bit.

“Probably just a sprite sent by the Headmaster to check up on us,” I answered, as encouragingly as I could. I made a mental note to ask him at my next class. It wasn’t the possibility that we were being watched that bothered me, so much as who.

Candice was mollified, and over the next week we made definite headway, but it quickly became obvious that we were running into some of the same problems that the Headmaster had. It didn’t help that our time was becoming increasingly fragmented by the approaching combat games. Michelle made it clear to me that we needed to be practicing every day if we wanted any chance at all of placing, and Candice and Shawn were no less dedicated either.

Back topside, hand-to-hand combat was something I avoided nearly religiously. It wasn’t that I was afraid to stand up for myself, quite the contrary. But in my entire youth and schooling, it had never become necessary to actually resort to physical violence. Most kids wanted nothing to do with me to begin with, and those that did try to pick on me found out quite quickly that they were wasting their time. I simply didn’t care. What’s the point of trying to razz someone if they don’t react with anger or frustration? I knew where I stood in the bigger picture, and I knew I could wait them out. I also knew that I could outsmart them. If someone was making my life difficult, I would carefully set them up so that they would get caught by an adult just as they were about to perpetrate their crime. Most people, especially kids, are shockingly predictable.

So it was with no small resistance that I entered Basic Combat Training with Michelle, Candice and about a dozen other teens. What can I say? I’m a pacifist. I don’t like the idea of fighting, whether it be for sport or not. But everyone, regardless of their study track, learned to fight at the Academy. I even went so far as to ask our instructor, a faerie by the name of Stix, why that was.

The fae woman just stared at me for several seconds, then said, “If a rabbit is killed by a fox, we do not punish the fox. He is simply hunting to survive as all animals do. It is not a matter of right or wrong, but rather who is stronger, or faster, or more cunning. In the human world, you have adopted a self imposed system of restraint and law, that goes against this natural tendency for survival. One can argue the results of this choice, but I tell you plainly, that such laws do not exist within the fae. If you are truly to be ambassadors, then you will have to learn that although we do have laws, they are largely based on respect for the basic life web, and do not entitle those that they oversee to any rights or privileges or rank. Unlike the human world, social status is mostly earned the hard way… By surviving.”

“But does that mean that we have to fight for our lives, even if we’re just studying to be historians,” asked a nervous blond haired girl at the back.

The faerie smiled. “To live within the fae, means that you will be in contact with a wide variety of races and social structures, most of which have a much higher respect for life than you do. However, not all are friendly towards humanity, and there are few laws that will protect you should you cross paths with the wrong sort of entity. But do not despair, child,” she added as the girl looked as though she were going to burst into tears. “It is rarely necessary to draw blood. Most of the time, the mere willingness to challenge is enough to earn respect within the fae. But no matter how good you are at bluffing, it would be very wise indeed to have something to back up that challenge. And that,” she said as she turned to the whole room, “is why we are here today.”

And so we learned to fight. I still wasn’t going to shed my pacifist ways, but I could see the faerie’s point. We really did need to stop thinking in human terms if we were going to amount to anything within the fae.

It only took a few sessions for me to see how really gifted Michelle was at combat. There was more there than simply being physically capable. She assimilated combat maneuvers the same way I naturally picked up and disassembled spells. I discreetly watched her while she received some private instruction from Stix, and noticed that the moment the faerie had turned away to help someone else, she carefully thought through the complicated sequence and instantly modified it slightly. The resulting maneuver was both more effective, and more elegant than the faerie’s version. As I floundered with my own basic moves, I fervently hoped that I could live up to the girl’s expectations when it came time to compete in the games. Then I reminded myself that I was the “lèir” part of the “Dòrn Lèir” hand-eye pairing, and that spell-craft would be my weapon while Michelle focussed on the physical stuff.

“We have to learn to compliment each other,” explained the freckle-faced girl when we sat down together to rest after a series of long sparring exercises. I noticed that she was barely breathing hard while I was panting just to catch my breath. “As powerful as magic is, there are enough ways to disrupt it so that it’s unreliable against a strong physical attack. It’s unstable, you know? But by combining a troggeyder with a warrior, you get the best of both worlds.”

I fully understood about the stability issue from my covert work with Candice. It was late one night after we had skipped out discreetly near the open end of a spell crafting class that we had our first real breakthrough. We were both exhausted and frustrated and pretty much ready to call it a night. We could make it work, but we couldn’t keep it stable.

“Damn it all!” cursed the deflated girl, pounding her fists on our one table at the far end of the vast space. “We’re so close, Miranda. So close. We’re getting amplification galore, but the resonance won’t hold in a non-static field, just like with Professor Brightly. Do you think we’re making the same exact mistakes? Maybe we imprinted too much.”

I was pacing near the large metal box that the Headmaster had produced at our request, my mind in a flurry. “No,” I stated flatly. “It’s not the design. It’s control. The amplifier works, we just can’t control it fast enough to allow for changes in the target field.”

“But that’s the problem,” she said shaking her head. “No matter what we do, we’re always going to lose power long term because we can’t stay ahead of the phase shift. You’d have to be able to see into the future to control this fucking thing.”

I froze, my heart rate suddenly sliding right through the roof as two thoughts hit me nearly simultaneously. “The faeries can see the future, and to a certain degree, so can Mark.”

“Sure,” said Candice watching me. “So what? Don’t you think that he tried that already? Besides, what does it matter? We can’t.” And then she noticed me staring at her. I swallowed and said nothing, at least verbally. My face was a mask of worry.

“Oh my god…” exclaimed Candice putting things together about me. “You _can_ see the future, can’t you?”

Sighing, I flopped down in one of the chairs, resigned. “Yes… No… Oh shit, I don’t know. I think so, but I’m not sure. It’s not like the faeries, that much I know. They see paths of possibility. I see…”

“What?” asked the girl, dropping into a seat next to me.

“I don’t know. I frame a question in my mind, and the answer is there. That’s all. I can’t see things coming, like the Headmaster. I have to ask the question to get an answer.”

Candice was quiet for a second, then asked, “How quickly do you get a response?”

“I’ve never really thought about it. Almost immediately, I guess.”

She locked eyes with me. “Almost immediately, or instantly,” she asked, slowly.

I frowned. “I’m not… There’s no delay,” I found myself saying. “But I still have to form the question.”


“What? No. Candice, what does it matter?”

“Because, Miranda, if you can ask those questions fast enough, you could control the stability of the field. You could make the amplifier work.”

I just stared at her.

“All it would take is for you to ask what’s going to change in the local environment and then apply those changes to the field as they are happening.”

“But what good is that,” I asked, honestly confused. “What’s the point of a magical amplifier if I’m the only one who can use it?”

Candice was biting her lower lip. “I think, Miranda,” she said slowly and reluctantly, “That may have been the Professor’s idea from the start.”

She was right of course, and when all the pieces fell into place I was so taken aback that I literally jumped up from my seat in terror. I had missed what was obvious to Candice due to simple denial. In my ongoing battle to be just another normal student, I had convinced myself that the Headmaster wanted Candice and me because we were gifted crafters, and nothing more. But it was plain that he had known about my gifts. And he hadn’t even bothered to tell me.

I started to shake.

“Oh no you don’t!” Yelled Candice, rising and placing her hands on my shoulders roughly. “Don’t you dare fall apart on me, Summers!”

“You don’t know…” I sobbed. “You don’t know what it’s like…”

“Bullshit!” She interrupted. “I know exactly what it’s like to be singled out, and for a lot less than your brains. You think you have the monopoly on the god complex?” She was shaking her head. “You’re smart, Miranda. You’re fucking brilliant. You have the kind of intelligence that literally scares people. But there isn’t a student at this school who wouldn’t give their left arm to have your mental talents. Try being viewed only for what you look like. Try going through life seen as nothing more than a bimbo, no matter how smart you really are inside.”

She was speaking of herself, and I suddenly felt like a real shit. Even I had seen Candice that way the first time I met her. It would be hard not to. She was, by all male standards, the perfect big-busted babe. She could no more change her beauty than I could my brains. The problem was that inside, she was so much more. In many ways, she was creatively a far superior troggeyder.

“I’m so sorry, Candice,” I said with real conviction as I plopped back into my seat.

“Forget it. I’m used to it by now. But I can see that you’re not. You’ve never come to grips with who you are, have you?”

I looked up at the girl on the verge of tears. “I don’t want to be a weapon,” I blurted out, my eyes misting over so that I lost focus on the girl. “I just want to be something… normal.”

Candice wrapped her arms around my shoulders in a loose hug. “Hey, take it from one who knows. No matter how others see you, and no matter what your eventual calling, you are always exactly who you want to be. No one can change who you are on the inside, and that’s all that matters. Do you want to tell Professor Brightly to take his amplifier and shove it?”

She had spoken with such vehemence that I burst out laughing. “No… No. Let’s do this thing,” I replied, wiping my eyes and feeling a bit better. “Now that I know why I’m here, we might as well finish it. Besides,” I continued, smiling, “I don’t have to worry about him abusing it if I’m the only one who can make it work, right?”

“That’s the spirit!”

Before we stepped back through the Greie Leeideilagh that night, or rather the “Wonkavator” as Candice was calling it, we still hadn’t gotten it to perform the way we knew it could, but we were well on our way.

The problem was no longer just technical. We knew how to do it, and had even made it work on a limited basis. Candice had been right about my gift of “sight”. I really could ask how a given space was going to change a split second into the future and then reflect those changes into the amplification spell. And it worked very well as long as the changes to the target were very, very minimal. The problem was that I simply couldn’t make the adjustments fast enough. In order to create an amplification of any real usefulness, we had to use harmonic resonances that were increasingly difficult to fine tune. The more power you wanted, the tighter and faster the control needed to be. And no matter how gifted I was at casting, I simply couldn’t get my MOS to react quickly enough.

None the less, Candice was quite impressed at how much I was able to get from her design. In fact, she was impressed enough to throw in some safeguards when I accidentally blasted an empty pewter pitcher across the room when the control on my MOS slipped and shifted the target field.

“I can block off the upper levels on the harmonic scale… So that if you do lose control again, you won’t punch a hole through a wall or something.” She was smiling, but I knew that the “something” she was referring to was the two of us. That pitcher had been smashed flat.

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