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 2 – Portals

It hadn’t taken me long to accept the little entity’s offer. Weird or no, how often were you given the chance to have the mysteries of the universe explained to you in an academic setting? I was unclear how they could compress twelve weeks’ worth of study into seven days, but that was their problem, and one the sprite had finally shrugged its tiny shoulders over. “The Iron Mountain keeps its own time,” it had said. Besides, it was free! Thanks again to my great grandmother, who, I was told, passed on some rather unique genetic gifts, which was what made me eligible to attend at all. Hey, it beat the hell out of flipping burgers at some dumb-ass summer job.

I wasn’t keen on keeping the whole thing from my mother, and the sprite hadn’t forbidden it, just cautioned me that it might be wise to let the woman come to grips with the whole idea of the Fae once I was back from my first semester. “That way you will have time on your side,” it had replied cryptically. Whatever. And I would be able to kill two birds with one stone. I hadn’t been kidding about learning to be “normal”. The past decade of my life had been a roller-coaster of social disasters. Being the smartest kid in school might look great when you take the SAT, but try to get a date and you might as well have the plague. Who wants to go out with someone who intellectually makes you look like a complete moron? It didn’t help that I had such a short fuse and an inability to accept others the way they were and just be happy. At least, that’s how my therapist described it. Maybe he’s right after all. The sprite had just smiled when she explained my educational worries. It was one of the major reasons why I resisted going to college in the first place. The last thing I needed right now was another dose of “smart kid” syndrome.

“I promise you,” explained the hovering collection of energy. “that you won’t be the brightest mind there. And you need not worry about your professors either. Some of them have had two thousand years or more to soak up wisdom, but are even less socially capable than yourself. You should fit right in.”

I was dubious. It wasn’t that I doubted what the sprite was telling me, but rather the idea of being around a whole bunch of other “gifted” individuals with no place to run and hide. The sprite had mentioned that I would share a dorm room, and might often eat in a group situation. In the same breath she scared the shit out of me by mentioning the “C” word.

“Should you choose to, you might even wish to pursue a courtship.”

“A courtship?” I spit, frowning.

The sprite was a bit taken aback and then looked confused. “Yes, uh… When two members of your race get together for mutual pleasure…”

“I know what it is!” I interrupted, miffed. Mutual pleasure, yeah right. At least until I got dumped. Like I said, I was no stranger to dating, or even sex for that matter. I got my period when I was eleven, and my body started changing pretty soon afterward. I had a few rather embarrassing growth spurts and suddenly I was sporting breasts and generating pheromones that started to turn male heads when I went by. In most girls, this is cause for celebration. For me, it was disaster! I mean, I had spent most of my life trying not to draw attention to myself. I went to great pains in order to generate the perfect mix of “average school girl”. So when it became apparent that some of my older male classmates began to “notice” me, I had a brief panic attack and decided I had better brush up on my knowledge of human sexual behaviors. I already knew the basic biological principles involved, but there is a vast difference between understanding the mechanics of sex, and having a really phenomenal, toe-curling orgasm with your stud of choice.

My mother figured out what I was studying and asked if she could be of any help. I looked at her for about five long seconds, then said, “Do you think you could buy me some condoms?”

To her credit, she didn’t burst into hysterics or lecture me on the dangers of underaged intercourse. Instead, she collected herself (it had shaken her a bit), and replied, “Any particular brand?”

My mom knew me. She had seen me study other subjects, and knew that I would treat this one in the same way I had physics, or math or history. First I would find out everything there was to know about sex, at least from a clinical perspective, by reading and surfing the internet. Then, and only then, would I set up a series of experiments, complete with controls and statistics and based thoroughly on scientific principles. Which was exactly what I did. At least until I discovered that biology had not simply given me the means to reproduce, but had built in some rather interesting incentives to induce the act. The best part, however, was that, thanks to modern technology, one did not have to get pregnant in order to experience those incentives. Sex could be for recreation alone… And recreate I did!

One hot summer weekend, while my mom was on a business trip, I spent an entire afternoon just studying how many different ways I could diddle myself. I experimented with all manner of lubricants, internal and external, as well as a dozen or so vibrators, massagers, dildos, and even a few rather large vegetables. I had already decided to break my hymen personally, so I was free to work myself into a sweaty frenzy over and over and OVER, until by late evening of that same day, I was a trembling and very satiated mass of sixteen year-old femininity. I spent about an hour in a lukewarm tub afterward, quivering in after-bliss while my tired muscles uncramped and the endorphins slowly drained from my bloodstream. Then I started idly playing with the bar of soap and ended up discovering the joys of a really slick bath.

Needless to say, I officially lost my virginity later that week. I wasn’t expecting much from sex, which helped when I found that most guys just wanted to get into my pants, but once there, rarely knew what to do. Maybe other girls’ boyfriends were more experienced, but half the time I was left faking it. Oh well. At least I wasn’t alone when those same human dildos ditched me like used gum once they had gotten what they were after. A few hung around for seconds or thirds, but as soon as I started opening my mouth, it always ended the party. I just wanted a little post-coital conversation, but the young male of our species seems to take that as a signal to run. Whatever. It was still a fun summer.

The drive to the mountains was fairly predictable. Most of the kids had at least one other friend or acquaintance with them, and chatted and laughed in their temporary freedom from parental control. I did as I always had, and gravitated toward the back of the bus in solitude. One girl had tried to make conversation with me, but I subtly made it clear that I wasn’t in the mood for company and the other shrugged and went off in search of more a sociable paring. It wasn’t that I actually wanted to be alone, it was simply a defensive measure. I knew what would happen if they started to talk. I had been through it a hundred times. Sooner or later, I would have to take a risk and initiate a relationship, but a bus full of hormone jacked young adults was not the place. I hoped that maybe my current destination might provide the right kind of environment. The sprite had explained that they used the camp (which was real) in order to satisfy any nosy curiosity.

The bus pulled into a large loading circle with about a dozen other vehicles, and I followed the masses in collecting my duffle bag. Most of the kids then stood in the middle of the crowded parking area, craning their necks around like a herd of antelope, looking for something to guide them toward their respective troops. I sighed and marched out of the crowd to the edge of the drop-off zone where I set down my bag and hopped up onto the stump of an old tree so that I could see out over the whole area. It took me only a second or two to spot the banner marked with “Troop 221”, and I jumped down and reclaimed my bag.

“That was clever,” said a short woman in an outrageous straw sun hat standing under the banner as I approached. “You must be Miranda. I was told to keep an eye out for you.”

“Is it that obvious?” I asked as I slumped my shoulders.

“Is what obvious, dear?”

“Me… I mean, that I’m, uh… so different?” I hated to use the word “smart”.

“There is much that is obvious, Miranda, and much that is not. You are hardly the odd one here.”

“What do you mean?”

Slowly, and so that no one else could see, the woman smiled and lifted one side of her hat. She had pointed ears.

My mouth dropped open as my brows rose. “Are you…? Oh my god! You’re a faerie!” I immediately ducked and glanced around like a fool to see if anyone had heard.

“Yes, child, I am,” she replied, readjusting her hat. “And I would prefer if we kept that to ourselves, yes?”

“Sorry. Hey, what’s with the ‘child’ stuff? Not to be stuffy or anything, but you don’t look much older than I do.”

“Oh? I see. Well, Miranda, when I was your age, Charlemagne had just been made the first Holy Roman Emperor. As I mentioned, there is much that is not obvious.”

“Oops…” I muttered, wincing. “Sorry Ma-am.”

“Forgiven and forgotten,” exclaimed the faerie, smiling again. “My name is Ananha, and among other things, I will be your Magical Attacks teacher when you are ready. For now, I am merely your student advisor, which is sort of a cross between a counselor and trusted friend. If you have any questions or needs, please come directly to me until you are instructed otherwise.” The faerie was leading me toward a battered yellow VW van with “Troop 221” painted poorly on the side. “You are the last to arrive in this batch, and we are running a bit behind schedule, so if you would be so kind as to jump on in with the others, we can be off.”

I had about a million questions, but thought that I could probably hold them for a while. I hated the fact that I was the last in my group to arrive. It brought attention to me that I really didn’t want, and from the looks of the others in the van, they had been waiting for far too long.

“Punch it, Jane,” she said to another woman in the drivers seat as she climbed aboard herself. “This group’s gate is in twelve minutes.”

“I’m on. We’ll make it. Two minutes to spare,” replied the other in short bursts of words as she concentrated on gunning the van out of the parking lot. The driver looked even younger than I did, and I wondered if she too, was of the Fae. She certainly didn’t seem to have any trouble handling the van, which was airborne about half the time it blasted down the dirt road through the forest. Of the six other kids in the vehicle, all but one looked like they were about to vomit, and I wasn’t doing so well myself. We had automatically snatched up our seat-belts ten seconds out of the parking lot, but that only kept us stuck down. I felt that if I were not physically held to my seat, then my body would be floating in free-fall. To combat the disquiet in my stomach, I concentrated on the unaffected individual.

He was a red-headed boy wearing a red and yellow striped shirt, blue jeans, and a half grin. He was slumped in the seat and looked as though he might be about to drift into a light slumber. Of all of them, his seat-belt was the loosest, yet he appeared to be the least troubled by the bumpy road. Without warning, he suddenly opened his eyes and looked right at me.

When I realized that he was staring, I blushed and swallowed. “How do you do it?” I asked to break the relative silence. The van made more noise than a train derailment, but the lack of voices was what was so deafening. Half the group was still holding their breath.

The boy waited a few seconds, eyeing me, then smiled. “Stop fighting it. Just relax.” He demonstrated by holding his hands out at his sides. His body seemed almost still, or at the most, lightly bouncing against the seat once in a while. It almost appeared to me that he was indeed floating, and my mouth opened in confusion. The other students gripped the seats with white knuckles, trying desperately to hold themselves down.

The boy nodded at me to follow his lead, and reluctantly, I released my own grip and loosened my belt a bit. The sensation of falling remained, as strong as ever, but I now found that my body had stopped bouncing around in a jarring fashion and was lightly restrained within the confines of my safety belt like a leaf in a soft breeze. The sensations of nausea faded almost at once.

Smiling with amazement, I looked back to the boy, who nodded again in acknowledgment, then closed his eyes and appeared to instantly drift into a nap. I chuckled softly and enjoyed the impossible feeling of weightlessness, and the continued panic of the other students.

By the time the van skidded to a halt in front of a large log building, two other students had gotten up the courage to loosen their death-grips and join me and the boy. I was almost sad that the ride was over, as I piled out with the others.

“There’s no time to waste,” said Ananha, ushering us toward the cabin’s main entrance. “So please grab your things and follow me!”

After the strange car trip, I half expected to find the inside of large structure to be filled with fire breathing goblins or something. Instead, I was disappointed to find myself in a perfectly normal summer-camp cafeteria.

“What’s the matter, Miranda?” asked Ananha when she noticed me scowling.

“Uh, well I guess I expected the academy to be somehow, um… bigger.”

The faerie chuckled at my words and I felt as though her smile was a warm breeze around me.

“Patience. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed…”

No sooner had the words left the faerie’s mouth than there was a near-deafening gong as though someone had just dropped a giant cauldron on the concrete floor. A second later, there was another, and then one more a second after that. Just as I turned my head to zero in on the source of the immense sounds, there was a crackling flash of light, and my ears popped. Against the far wall of the building, a huge circle of light drew itself and grew steadily brighter until the bottom of the circle was level with the floor. Intricate lines and symbols filled in the center of the circle until it was almost solid. Then, all at once, my ears popped a second time and the circle became a haze of light, as though it were filled with a suspended fog. I also noticed that a considerable wind was rushing toward the circle, which made me think it was an opening of some kind. Random pieces of trash and other light debris started to flit toward the gate like they were being sucked out the open door of flying passenger jet.

“We must hurry now,” screamed Ananha over the roar of the wind. “One at a time! Mr. McBride, you’re first!” said the faerie to the redhead. The boy hardly looked phased, and smiled broadly as though he were about to go on some amusement-park ride. Then he surprised me by reaching out and touching my shoulder.

“See you on the other side!” He called over the noise and then trotted off toward the circle. At the last moment, he whooped in glee and then literally hopped into nothingness, through what used to be a very solid wall of logs. Everyone, including myself, gasped.

“Carol, now you…” She indicated a frightened girl with blond hair. She was one of the ones that had figured out the belts on the van. With a bit more courage, she walked forward and joined the boy, wherever that happened to be.

One by one the group passed through the gate until the only ones left were Ananha and myself.

“Your turn, Miranda,” said the faerie, watching me.

Glancing to the gate, my heart was beating so forcibly that I was certain the other could hear it. Why the hell did Ananha have to pick me to be the last one through? It was so much harder to have to wait and grow more and more panicked.

“That’s why,” said Ananha, startling me. I looked at the faerie in surprise. I hadn’t thought out loud, I was certain. “Douglas, I wasn’t worried about, but any of the others might have balked as the last one through,” she continued.

“But not me?” I retorted, with a rushing sense of dread.

The other slowly shook her head. “You have only one real fear, Miranda, and this isn’t it.”

“Are you certain this isn’t fear I’m feeling?!” I snapped angrily. “Because it certainly FEELS like fear!”

The faerie’s face softened, and her eyes took on a almost motherly pity.

“Look inside, Miranda,” she said in a soft voice that seemed to easily cut through the near-deafening wind with perfect clarity, despite its low volume. “It’s not fear that makes your heart beat so strongly… It’s excitement.”

I was so startled by the other’s words that I forgot about the fact that I shouldn’t have been able to hear them.

I stared in awe at the woman for a moment, and then looked back to the strange gate. She was right. It wasn’t fear at all. The others might have balked, and I knew that Ananha was very wise in her choice of order. Without another word, I stepped slowly forward.

Whatever the portal was meant to be, I quickly discovered that for me, it was the shortest (and the longest), most frightening roller-coaster ride imaginable. The moment I made contact with the foggy surface, my body was sucked forward as though I were wearing roller skates. Instantly, everything was white, and I was falling blind. As I started to draw in air in order to scream, I noticed that the whiteness was actually millions of tiny white dots, and even as I watched, the dots grew until I started to see areas of darkness between them. Pretty soon, the darkness was also growing, and in what seemed only a few moments of real-time (but an eternity of frantic falling), one single dot was filling my field of vision. The white circle grew until it was the size of the whole world, and just before I couldn’t stand it any more, I was stepping forward, or rather, finishing the step I had started in the log cabin.

Nearly stumbling, I took a breath and let my vision refocus. All around me was the sound of people and activity, and when my eyes were finally able to lock on to the huge room before me, I gasped.

It was like standing in Grand Central Station, only decorated by someone with a taste for the gothic-erotic. Directly before me was a massive statue of a woman in armor, a huge sword in her hand was raised until it just missed the ceiling some twenty five meters above. Flanking the figure were three smaller statues in slightly different states of dress, and which apparently symbolized three different houses of study.

“The Goddess Dana,” said Ananha behind me. I started a bit at her voice. “You’ll learn more about her from Professor Poppins. “Come with me and we’ll get you settled, then we’ll have to hop and join the others in the main hall for the Readings.”

I had to wait to ask her what the Readings were, for at that moment, the boy named Douglas rushed up to us with a wide grin.

“You see! I told you it would be a blast,” he laughed while grasping me by the shoulder. He was so friendly and happy that I found myself grinning as well.

“Mr. McBride!” Yelled a tall, somewhat older girl with a British accent coming up behind him. “If you please, we must get you checked in. We’re late!”

I assumed that the girl must be his Student Counselor.

“I’m Douglas,” said the boy with his hand out.

“So I see,” I laughed. “I’m Miranda.”

“It’s very nice to meet you, Miranda…”

“Mr. McBride!”

“Uh, see you in the Main Hall,” he exclaimed, rolling his eyes and giving in to his guide at last.

All around me, I saw young people like myself, some paired off, some alone, and the train station analogy was not lost. The massive room was indeed a receiving station, and my train had finally arrived. I glanced over at the faerie and saw that she was smiling at me warmly.

“What is it?” I asked.

The fae woman tilted her head a bit and I had the distinct impression that she was remembering something of her own past as she stared into my eyes.

“I think, Miranda, that you have found your element,” she said over the bustle of noise.

“What do you mean?”

“Look around you. There are hundreds of young men and women like you here, all excited and afraid, but eager to explore the amazing world that has just been presented to them. And yet, your mind is so clear. You are completely unfettered by the rush of impossibilities that most are still struggling to even fathom. You accept them without pause or problem. You will shine here, Miranda.”

I turned to scan the whole of the strange place, and the faerie was right. Most of the students around me were so nervous that they could hardly speak, let alone function without help. Even Douglas, who had been so calm on the bus, was an uncontainable bundle of raw energy. And I was calm. The initial panic I thought I had felt, that Ananha had shown me to be simple excitement, had lessened into a soft high the moment my eyes adjusted to their new surroundings. Unless I was careful, I would indeed shine here.

“I don’t want to be different, again…” I exclaimed to the faerie, a real sense of dread forming in my chest again. This was my fear. The real fear that Ananha had spotted almost at once.

“We are all different, child,” she replied, reaching out and placing a warm hand on my arm. “The way we cope is to cling to others. We allow ourselves to share in the pleasure of friendship. You’ll see,” she continued and patted my hand. “Very little is by accident here. Come on.”

On those strange remarks, Ananha led me through the crowd and into one of the many wide hallways that spoked off from the area. Immediately, the sound level dropped to a point that seemed to encourage whispering, and I noticed that the hallway seemed to be illuminated by a glow that originated from everywhere, and nowhere. The stone corridor was simply lit.

We walked for quite a distance, turning twice into adjoining corridors before I sighed. The faerie smiled as she picked up my confusion.

“Don’t worry yourself about finding your way. The Iron Mountain won’t let ya stay lost,” she said, a hint of an Irish accent forming in her words.

“It’s just that they all look the same. The hallways, I mean,” I said.

“Only at first. But like I said, if you can’t remember how to go someplace, just ask a wall.”

“Ask a wall?”

“Right. Trust me, Miranda. You don’t think we would expect several hundred young humans to wander around miles and miles of Dwarf caves without providing some way for them to find their way home, do you?”

The faerie turned without waiting for an answer.

“Ah, here we are. Normally we put four per room, but this semester’s class is a bit smaller so you’ll only have two others for now. And one of those will be joining you later.” She was standing in front of an ornate wooden door, which seemed to me to be about a thousand years old.

“You go in and get your stuff settled. You have about a half hour before you need to be in the main hall. Just ask the walls or anyone with a blue and gold band on,” she said, indicating the gold band around her head that was visible now without her hat. “Please don’t be late. We’ll talk more later. Okay?”

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly.


“Good girl! See ya later then… and Miranda…”


“Don’t forget to have fun.”


With that, the faerie was off, walking briskly down the hall. I stood in front of the door for several moments, trying to let my brain catch up a bit. Despite Ananha’s heartfelt speech, I wasn’t at all sure that I “took it all in stride.” In fact, I was quite nervous again, even fearful. When I asked myself why, I was startled to find that it had more to do with who I might find on the other side of the door rather than the bizarre and alien world that I was suddenly traveling through. Funny that I should be nonplussed by a two thousand year-old mythical creature who would some day be teaching me “Magical Attacks”, but was scared stiff of what my roommate would think of me.

“Right…” I said to myself again, and then opened the door to my room.

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