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 4 – Placement

The next day classes officially began, but before we could do anything, we all had to go through orientation. Each house had its own hall where they gathered for meetings or just to hang out. On this day, the thirty-eight first-years in East House were gathered around a large table at one end of the hall learning to use their amulets.

I did not see the strange jewelry on most of the returning students, but figured it was just some kind of “class ring” thing. In fact, the amulets played a huge role in our lives while at the academy. That morning, an oriental looking faerie with exceptionally long pointed ears was giving us an introduction into what she fondly called the Magical Operating System, or simply MOS for short.

“As you can see,” she said, while she walked between us, “only your own session is visible to you under normal circumstances. Each amulet is keyed to the student who owns it. It will not open to the MOS for anyone else but its owner, and any tampering will immediately be reported to one of the staff.”

“I thought that the faeries didn’t speak English,” said Douglas in a whisper, as he explained a rumor he heard in the halls. A lot of what we had learned about the Fae up to that point had been purely gossip.

“Normally we don’t, Mr. McBride,” interrupted the faerie in question from across the room. “Save for the Principalities, it is quite rare that a faerie remembers her tongue of human origin. However, we are exceptionally adept at learning new languages, and now that there are interactions between the Human and Fae worlds, many faeries have chosen to pick up a new language or two.”

Douglas gulped, having been sure that the Fae woman couldn’t have heard him from so far away. I just giggled at his discomfort.

“However,” she continued, “I am a natural in that I remember English from my previous life as a human. I could not teach this class if it were not so. You will learn a great deal more about the ways of the Fae in your mandatory History classes, so I urge you to keep questions in that topic range until such time as they can be properly answered. Does that satisfy you?”

“Yes Ma-am,” he breathed.

“Very well. Then we shall pick up where we left off, and please let’s do try to save your comments and whisperings for your sleeping quarters, which are shielded.”

By lunchtime, my head was throbbing with all the information I had picked up. I had a near perfect memory for subjects I was interested in, but it took time to process. Our faerie instructor seemed to think that the faster she spoke, the more we would learn, and by the time we adjourned, I wasn’t the only one leaving the room who looked exhausted. We all met again in the big hall, but this time, the tables were arranged for eating. I walked through the “chow line” and then plopped down into a seat next to Douglas and Michelle, who I had found to be a pleasing, tomboy sort of girl, and who turned out to be the final tenant in my dorm room.

“Ugnnn,” moaned Douglas, “I sure hope our other classes are a bit less intense than orientation, or this place is going to kill me.”

“At least the food is good,” mumbled Michelle through a mouthful of lasagna. “I think I picked up about half of what that faerie was talking about. I heard from a fourth semester girl in the hallway that we still have to go through something called ‘Placement’. When I asked her about it, she just grinned wickedly.”

“I don’t like the sound of that,” groaned Douglas.

I waved to Candice as my other roommate stepped out of the end of the food line and started to look for a table. Seeing me, the girl smiled and trotted over.

“You look perky,” I said, noticing how happy she seemed. Then I realized that the girl might think I was referring to a specific part of her anatomy and blushed.

“Isn’t it exciting! I can hardly wait to get back to my room tonight and play…” She then stuffed a huge forkful of meatloaf into her mouth.

“Exciting? I guess so,” said Douglas. “I just wish they would slow down a bit. By the way, this is Michelle,” he said indicating the other girl.

Candice swallowed and waved. “Yes, I know. She’s in my dorm room. Do you really think they should slow down? I was on the edge of my seat the whole time…”

“You mean you understood everything?” asked Michelle, diving into her salad.

“Oh sure,” she answered, waving her fork. “I love computers, so this is right up my alley. Did you know that the sprites have a special guild just for the very best Troggeyder?”

“Trog-a-what?” questioned Michelle with a frown.

“Troggeyder,” she repeated. “It means ‘builder’ or in this case, ‘spellmaker’. I asked our professor at orientation, and she said that humans are in fact eligible, but that until Headmaster Brightly came along, there hadn’t been any humans in the guild for over three thousand years. Now, they have several possible candidates from the Academy.”

“Planning on getting in there, Candice?” Douglas was half joking, but the top-heavy girl didn’t even pause.

“You bet!”

“It sounds interesting,” I chimed, “but I want to see what else this place has to offer before I get too focused on one goal. Maybe our placement, or whatever, will help us see what’s available other than Fae history. Not that I wouldn’t mind knowing a bit more about the new world, but the idea of spending the next twelve weeks memorizing Fae royalty structure scares the hell out of me.”

Placement, it turned out, was anything but what I expected it to be. Each student was told to walk into a circle that was drawn onto the ground in the middle of their House hall. Around the circle were ornate words and symbols that meant nothing to me, but that I was cautioned not to disturb. Once within the circle, a darkness seemed to envelop the person like a curtain and they would be obscured from view. After an indeterminate time, the darkness would drop away and the teacher would dismiss the student to their quarters. No one in the group had any idea what went on in the darkness, but when the first student came out trembling and in tears, there was a prevailing sense of dread over all of us. The girl who went in next returned as a ball on the floor, whimpering. Then Douglas went in and came out shaking and covered in perspiration. One by one, the group slowly dwindled. Then it was Michelle’s turn, and I gave her a smile for luck. With a deep sigh, the girl stepped into the ring. A comparatively long time passed before she finally reemerged, longer than anyone else up to that point. Michelle looked like someone had dumped a bucket of water over her head, and her whole body was a mass of spasms. The faerie overseeing the Placements had to help her step out of the circle and then flagged down a student in the hall to walk her to her room. A moment later, the faerie called my name.

The moment both my feet were within the design, there was a soft flash and the room disappeared. In its place was a strange darkness that seemed to envelop me like water. I was briefly reminded of the cold blue fire that the Dominion Queen had produced at my reading, but this was more a lack of sensation than a feeling of any kind. It was still frightening, and I struggled to regain control of my senses.

Just when I was starting to really panic, I noticed a very faint series of lights around me. It was almost like I was seeing stars, and that I was situated in the center of a galaxy or something. Very slowly, the stars grew in size until I could tell that they were not points of light, but rather symbols like the ones that were drawn around the circle back in the hall. And then I had the insight that I might still actually be in the old room, and that only my senses were being fooled. I tested the concept and briefly closed my eyes. There was a slight feeling of floating, but otherwise, I could still feel the floor under my feet, and there was no reason I couldn’t be standing in the middle of the room.

“Very tricky…” I said aloud. My voice sounded muffled, as though there was nothing for it to echo off. The illusion was quite complete. But it was still an illusion.

The symbols started to close in around me, swirling faster and faster until they appeared as massive as planets, and I had to turn my head in order to focus on one for more than an eye blink. I now heard and felt a rushing of wind that came from the symbols themselves as they spun closer and closer, growing also increasingly ominous.

“Am I supposed to do something here?” I asked to no one. My voice was now lost in the rushing of air which threatened to catch me up in the swirling vortex of odd writing.

“It’s just an illusion,” I said to myself, but even when I closed my eyes, the noise and the flapping of my clothing as the wind tore at me was overwhelmingly convincing. I wondered what would happen if one of those symbols made actual contact with my body. Would it slam into my flesh at near supersonic speed, or perhaps it too wasn’t real? I had to know.

All at once, I popped open my eyes and stuck out my arm. I saw one of the symbols speeding toward my hand, and then, quite instantly, they were all floating quietly around me, nearly motionless. The wind was gone, and the sudden silence was shocking.

“Right…” I commented, breathing again. “Okay, what next? If touching you stops things, then perhaps I’m supposed to do something with these.” I tested my theory by moving my hand over one of the symbols. I couldn’t feel the object, which held true with my illusion concept, but the mark abruptly pulsed once and the other symbols seemed to speed off until they were no longer visible.

“I guess that was a choice…”

As if in answer, I saw that the symbol I was touching morphed into what appeared to be a small shield which was strapped onto my forearm. To my surprise, the thing even had weight. Not a lot, but enough to make me very leery of my so-called illusion concept. If my shield had weight, then something else could as well, and weight has mass, and mass can hurt you.

All this went through my head in an instant, so I had a moment to notice the glowing red ball that was approaching.

“Uh oh… I don’t like the look of that,” I said aloud again. I could see that the orb was covered with spiky protrusions, and I felt and heard a low rumble as though a great wave were about to crash down on me from that direction.

“Shit…” I mumbled, bringing the shield up in front of me defensively. The ball streaked right for me like a baseball over home plate, and at the last moment, I braced myself.


A hard concussion sent me falling backward onto my ass, and as I scrambled back to my feet, I saw the ball arcing out and around as if on some kind of orbit. It had bounced off the shield, but not quite straight on.

“Oh man, this isn’t happening… it’s just an illusion!” Squinting, I followed the red ball around until I could tell that it was inbound again.

“Okay, this isn’t funny anymore. What am I supposed to do?! Why is this thing here?”

Once again the growing sound filled my ears as the orb closed in on me a second time. As it swung closer, I braced myself more firmly, and carefully centered the shield where the incoming ball of light would strike.

There was another concussion, but this time I was able to remain standing. As before, I saw the attacker moving off in an arc away from me.

“Okay, I think I understand. I’m supposed to defend myself, is that it? Very well. I can keep this up for a bit.”

As before, the ball screamed in, following a long arc. And as before, I braced myself against the impact and deflected the attack. But to my surprise, when I looked up this time, there were two balls moving away from me, not one.

“Fuck…” I cursed, and carefully tracked both of the objects as they arced back around toward me. I was ready for the first one that hit me, but the second came only moments later and I had to spin to my left in order to deflect it. The impact knocked me over on my side, and the arm holding the shield tingled slightly as through it had passed a bit too close to an electrical wire.

Standing, I quickly gazed around me, looking for the balls. The first was already on an inbound arc.

“Come on you little shit,” I spoke to the approaching ball of light, urging it to move faster so that I would have time to find and defend against its twin.


This time, I had not only braced, but had swung the shield at the ball, knocking it away at a new angle. To my surprise, the impact seemed less than if I had simply stood there. I considered this find just as I remembered the other ball. I heard rather than felt it coming up behind me, and in a single motion, I swung around and slammed the shield into the oncoming object which blasted away once again. The impact had been almost nothing but incredible sound.

“Now I get it. I’m supposed to fight. I can do that too,” I mumbled, not quite as sure of myself as my voice portrayed. On the next pass, I used my new information once again and whipped my arm at the ball. It did deflect it, but this time the ball split again. Now there were three attackers, not two.

“Son of a bitch!!” I screamed and knocked away another ball. In a moment, I saw another moving into a close arc and smacked it away. Then again.

“No fucking way… This is not what it seems,” I told myself as I hit another ball and noticed that it too split. Now there were four attackers out there. The circle that I was standing in couldn’t simply be a giant video game. The Academy wasn’t interested in how well I could play baseball, it was a place of learning. So what was it I was supposed to learn? And then I understood. It was a test. The point wasn’t to win, it was to gauge my response to something. But what? I considered that they might want to test my resolve to stay alive, or possibly how fast I could track multiple problems and still function… No, I told myself. It was deeper than that. It was a test of character.

In that moment, as three balls arced in on inbound courses that I could probably have still deflected, I understood what I needed to do. Taking one last deep breath, I lowered my arm and watched as the orbs screeched toward me. The noise grew until it was deafening, and the ground shook under my feet, but still I didn’t move. The balls looked fierce and terrible, like massive blood-red killing machines. But that was part of the illusion, I thought to myself. They’re suppose to look menacing.

“It’s just an illusion. I’m still in the circle…” My voice was lost in the thundering sound in the final moments before the balls of light closed on me. And I stood, relaxed, eyes open as the first reached my body.

There was nothing. No impact. No pain, no flash of destruction. The ball simply passed right on through me without the slightest resistance. And then the other two crossed through my torso at almost the same time. I watched one of them hit me in the chest and disappear.

Laughing, I looked back to the shield in order to take it off and saw a tiny clasp in the shape of the original symbol near my wrist. The moment I touched it, the shield vanished. A moment later, I was standing in the middle of the circle in the center of the East House Hall.

“You are dismissed to the common hall, Miranda,” said the faerie quickly. I noticed that the remaining students were watching me with silent awe, and I was just about to give them a word of encouragement when the faerie interrupted me.

“You are dismissed,” she said, in a firm tone.

I got it. I wasn’t supposed to tell the others anything about what they might find within the circle. With a sigh, I stepped out of the ring and left for my quarters.

When I got there, Michelle was just leaving. She looked at me as she passed and I got the impression that she wanted nothing more than to lay down and take a good long nap.

I put my hand on her arm. “Hey, are you alright?”

She stopped and turned to face me. She stared at me for a moment, not saying anything, then abruptly reached down and grabbed my hand. She held it in silence for a few moments, just looking at it, then laughed softly.

“You’re not even shaking,” she said, more to herself than to me. “Promise me something Miranda…”

I didn’t know how to respond, so I waited.

“Promise me that after you make it big here, you’ll still remember my name in the halls.”

What can you say to something like that? I opened my mouth to speak one thing, but different words came out. It was the better part of my brain working for me again.

“Michelle, when I make it big here, you’re going to be right at my side.”

The girl looked so surprised that for a moment, I thought she was going to burst into tears. Then she smiled as she took a deep breath and gave my hand a quick squeeze before turning and walking down the hall.

Ananha was waiting for me in the dorm room.

“Come in and make yourself comfortable Miranda, so we can talk about your future here.”

“Uh oh,” I said, pulling over a chair so that I could sit across from the faerie at our one small table. “Am I in trouble already?” I was joking with her to ease the tension I felt.

The Fae woman winced, as if I had said something she wasn’t expecting. Then she smiled realizing that I was just kidding with her.

“I assume that you figured out the purpose of Placement?”

I shrugged. “To determine what subjects I might have an aptitude for?”

“That is correct in essence. Within the Academy, there are a number of different paths a student can take, and are, or so I am told, much like the subject majors of non-Fae universities. I would like to think that the purpose of the school is more broad than specific, but each student needs to concentrate on the subjects in which they are most gifted.”

The faerie stopped for a moment and regarded me in silence. I was just starting to get nervous when she continued. “Do you know why you were picked to come here, Miranda?”

“The sprite that found me explained something about certain traits found in my bloodline…”

“Yes. In every student, can be found genetic structures inherited from an original clan of people known as the Tuatha dé Danann. You’ll learn much more about them in your Fae history class, but for now, know that each student has certain talents that are almost always laying latently within them. These talents are the birthright, passed on from your ancestors. Some have more of these discrete talents than others, but it is our hope here at the academy to bring out these latent abilities and train you in the ways of the Fae. Someday, possibly soon, Humans and Fae will be rejoined, and you, and those like you, will be the ambassadors in that time of change.

“The Placement is used to determine how many of these latent talents you have, and with what strength or completeness they exist, so that we might know how best to guide you.”

I sighed. “I think I understand. So how did I do?”

It was the faerie’s turn to sigh. With a deep breath, she leaned back in her chair and frowned. “Well, that’s where it gets a bit complicated, Miranda…”

“What do you mean? Did I fail Placement or something?”

She shook her head. “You can not fail the Placement. It’s a means of appraisal only.”

“Then what’s the problem? Did I not have enough ‘talents’ to find a track for me? Is that it?”

The faerie looked increasingly worried. “Miranda, some students are going to have to have more than others, and to a stronger degree…”

“Look, just spell it out for me, and save the speeches, okay? How badly did I do? Just how many of these ‘talents’ do you need…”

“It doesn’t work that way, child. Take your roommate Michelle. She has only a few of these inherited traits, but they are remarkably strong. Her path here at the academy was quite clear. Whereas you…”

“…Have almost nothing to go on,” I finished for her. “I get it. Be straight with me Ananha, do I have any of these so-called talents at all?”

“Oh dear, you misunderstood me. You have talents alright, but that’s the problem.”

My brow furrowed in frustration. “How many?”

“Well,” said the faerie holding my eyes, “…all of them.”

Neither of us spoke for about half a minute. I was too stunned, and Ananha was simply letting me come to grips with what her words meant.

“All of them,” I repeated, shocked.

She nodded once.

“But… but what does that mean? How can I have them all?”

“Some of these traits are stronger than others,” answered the faerie, leaning forward once again. “But it means, simply, that you had just the right combination of parents. No more, no less. Keep in mind that those talents are dormant. It is still not certain if you can realize any of them, although I would be quite surprised if you do not show Master class levels of ability in at least three separate areas.”

It was my turn to sink back into my chair. “And here I was worried that I was going to flunk-out on my first day.”

The Fae woman smiled. “You are too hard on yourself.”

I spent the next half hour with Ananha, going over my class schedule and focus. My strongest abilities, it turned out, were those dealing with magical construction and control. I heard Ananha use the word ‘Troggeyder’ as Candice had that morning and asked her about it.

“Hmmm… I should say ‘gàirdean pisreige’ is a better description. It loosely translates to, ‘spell arm’, and in simple terms, means that your greatest gift is the strength at which you can cast and control magic. It will make you quite formidable later, when you have learned how to use your amulet and construct your own spells and glyphs.”

“Glyphs? I heard someone use that term in the halls. What are they?”

She smiled and patted my hand. “All in good time, Miranda. And speaking of time, you need to hustle or you’ll miss you first class.”

I checked my wrist and grunted. “I still don’t see how a class in the Sexual Arts is going to help me be a Fae-Human ambassador.” I had actually been quite shocked when the faerie explained that it wasn’t even an elective class but a general requirement.

“The class is much more broad than simple sexuality. It’s more about magic and how it relates to more than one person at a time. I’m afraid that I don’t really know the human words to properly describe the things you will learn. I think that’s why it was decided to stick with the more shocking class header. The interactions between entities is far more intimate within the Fae than your Human world. It would be good to know if a kiss is just a friendly kiss, or a commitment to battle. Or even how to protect yourself should that kiss come with a charm meant to dazzle your mind and muddle your judgment.”

“Oh, I’ve known a few boys who could do that without any magic whatsoever.” I smiled, playfully.

“Go!” replied the faerie, laughing and shaking her head.

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