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 49 – Sheeaghan

I’m pretty sure that I pushed my time to near that full hour, but I really did have a lot to process. The biggest problem was that I had to start with next to nothing. All magic is based on the manipulation of gravity, and the more advanced functions are all derived from simpler constructs, which are in turn based on even more simple patterns, and on and on. But at some point, it all came back down to configurations of mass to create anomalies in the fabric of space and time. So, by manipulating our mass, I could recreate some of the basic stepping stones of the lowest level functions, or at least that was the theory.

When I popped out of my trance state, I found it very weird to have another body wrapped around mine. It was also strangely difficult to come to full awareness. I think part of it was the nullified gravity as well as the darkness. There was simply nothing to focus on save for the touch of the entity holding me. Cailleach had moved around and was spooning me from behind, her arms cast loosely around my chest. From the steady rhythm of her breathing, I decided that she was sleeping, and a soft purr in my ear confirmed it.

“Mistress,” I said softly as a turned in her arms so I could face her. “Cailleach?”

She made a deeper breath. “Miranda? You’re back.”

“Yes, and I think I might have a solution, but it’s going to require both of us working together.”

“Ha! Just tell me what I need to do.” Even in the total darkness I could tell she was grinning.

I explained the procedure in detail, but getting us both into the exact posture I needed was made all the more difficult by the fact that only one of us could see. The only way I could tell if we were aligned correctly was to use my hands and feel her body in relation to mine. It made for some pretty personal contact, and after having apologized a hundred times or so, Cailleach finally grasped my hand and held it after I had said ‘sorry’ as it passed over her breasts yet again. I gasped, feeling the hard point of her nipple under my palm. The electric sensation down my spine was back with a vengeance, and even though I couldn’t see it, I knew that I was suddenly blushing from head to toe.

“Miranda, stop apologizing. I told you, I would not refuse your touch, even here in this horrible place. Perhaps especially here.”

“Sorry…” I said again by reflex and then we both laughed for a moment. I noticed that she did not let go of my hand. I also noticed that my heart was beating so fast and hard that I thought I might pass out. It’s one thing to resist sexual arousal when you can focus elsewhere. You find something boring to look at; shake it out, stomp your feet, or splash cold water on your face until the lust fades. But floating weightless in the dark, I had nothing else to hold my attention save for the warm, mostly unclothed body of my companion.

It’s said that when we are deprived of one of our senses, our body compensates with the others. With my eyes unable to find even the smallest hint of light, my mind put almost all its attention into my sense of touch. I could easily make out each tiny bump on Cailleach’s aureole, and the strong, rapid thumping of her own heartbeat in the hard flesh of her pierced nipple under my hand. I felt the warmth of her body radiating like the sun; the heat of her thighs where they contacted mine was as a moist fire. I smelled the scent of pine in her hair as it floated and mingled with my own. Even the sound of our breathing was filled with growing sexual tension, for there were no other noises in the absolute darkness of our prison. I had been purposely visualizing our relative positions in my mind in order to achieve exactly the needed configuration of mass, but now I imagined our entwined bodies in a purely sexual way. We were facing each other in loosely seated positions, our legs reaching forward around the other. My thighs parted over her hips, leaving a small space between us. It was a space that I suddenly found to be shrinking.

Her face was very near mine since we were both leaning inward and I felt her soft breath on my upper chest and neck. My skin tingled where she breathed, every tiny hair coming to life. The warmth traveled down into the space between my breasts, and my nipples pulsed with arousal.

“It’s alright, Miranda,” she whispered in my ear, while her other hand lighted on my thigh near my knee, lightly caressing. “You can let go…”

“But… the configuration…” I replied, conflicted.

I had not noticed, but the hand over mine at her breast had moved away and now came to rest on the side of my head. As if held there by a powerful magnet, I did not withdraw my fingers from her chest, and instead found them wandering over the curves of her flesh there. Entranced by the feel of her body, I was quickly losing control.

Her tender touch on my cheek drew my face even closer. “It can wait. In this place, we have nothing but time…” I felt her lips brush mine, and I groaned with need. Finally, with one last deep breath, I tilted my face up to hers and let her mouth settle over my own.

Kissing Cailleach was in many ways, like kissing Christmas. Her mouth tasted of cinnamon and ginger, and her breath was like the warmth of a yule fire. I thought of the name she called her favorite – ‘Winter Witch’, and understood completely. She was indeed the embodiment of winter, save for the heat that poured from her body and caused me to shiver with arousal. I drank her in with my tongue, relishing in the softness of her lips, and the perfect way our mouths seemed to fit. Hungrily, I wrapped my calves around her form and drew her up against me, my body arching toward her in an effort increase the contact. Her arms slipped around my neck and back, pulling me into a close embrace and I was moaning with need.

My hips rocked against her pelvis erotically, and completely beyond my will to control. Down in my lap, I was already sopping and slick with urgency. I wanted nothing but that moment and the pleasure that was steadily building, but after an eternal minute or so she broke free of my mouth and ran a slow series of wet kisses up to my ear. I shuddered in wonderful passion, torn between having her mouth on mine, and taking in the new sensations she was creating as she nibbled on my lobe.

“Ughn…” I moaned, clutching her; wanting her.

“Shh… Slowly,” she whispered the soft words into my ear, her breathy entreaty tickling down my neck like warm honey. “Slow down, mo chridhe, mo leannán. We have time… go slow. Let me please you.”

“Ummm… I… need you…” I groaned. My whole body felt as though it would burst with lust, for at that moment, the entire universe was composed of nothing more than the two of us.

She stroked my hair gently, urging me to calm. “And you shall have me, and I you… but slowly, mo chridhe. We are not rushed. We can take our time and enjoy this fully.” She reached up and grasped my arms, gently but firmly urging me to release my hold on her body. “Relax, my love…” she said softly when I resisted. “Let me guide you.”

“I’m… afraid,” I whispered back.

“Of course you are,” she said holding my hands in hers. “This is new to you, is it not?”

I thought of my brief relationship with Sheila-Kay. “Y-yes…” I answered coyly.

“And I have thousands of years of experience. Who would not feel afraid in such circumstances? Tell me, Miranda… Do you trust me?”

I took a deep breath. “This afternoon, I wasn’t sure. I am now.” I felt her grip on my hands falter slightly, as though she had expected a different answer.

“If I may ask…why? Certainly you have heard the rumors about my past. I am the ruler of the Unseelie Court, the Veiled One, come to steal your soul. Do you doubt the stories?”

“No, I don’t.” I replied at once. “But I saw a side of you today that is not rumor. You literally risked everything, even your very life, knowing that Brightly would probably arrest you, just on the hope that you could open the lines of communication between the Courts again.”

“Perhaps my reasons are selfish… Perhaps I am a better actor than you are a judge of character…”


“I’ve had a lot of practice in deceiving people, Miranda. How can you be sure?”

I took a slow breath, desperately wishing I could see her face as she could see mine. I looked to where I thought her eyes would be. “Because you are my Sheeaghan.”

She almost pulled away her grasp… almost.

“You know about the Brìodal…” she whispered. It was a statement, not a question.

“Yes,” I replied, nodding my head in the dark. “And I have been aware of our connection since I woke up and saw you in the healer’s wing. Actually, when I think about it, it was there at the market too, when you first spoke with me. I didn’t understand it at the time, but yes, definitely. Cailleach, you are my faerie spirit. There’s no doubt in my mind. I might have considered it an elaborate trick some other time, but not here, not in this place. With no magic to aid you, there’s simply no way you could fake what I’ve been feeling… And what I believe you have been feeling as well.”

“I… I felt it, but until just now I did not understand. It is true then, that we are in harmony you and I?”

“Yes. We share a lover’s bond that can not be broken. It’s why I trust you completely, and it’s also why I pressured Marcus Brightly into having me arrested with you.”

She tensed. “You what?!”

I went on quickly. “When you explained to me that he wouldn’t let you leave, I decided right then and there what I needed to do. No matter what else happened, I was going to see to it that you made it out of the Iron Mountain. Much that occurred after was improvised, I admit, but I knew if I had any chance at all of seeing you to safety, then I needed to stay with you at all costs. Getting him to arrest me as well was the obvious answer.”

Her voice sounded choked. “So… you allowed yourself to come… here, in order to rescue me?”

“Well, to be fair, I had no idea how terrible this place would be at the time, but… yes.”

In the darkness I could hear her softly weeping. I waited.

“Tá mé bheannaithe An Mháthair,” she whispered.

I smiled. “The Mother has blessed us both, mo chridhe, mo leannán… mo Sheeaghan.” I brought her hands to my mouth and kissed each of her palms. “Now… guide me, please. I am still nervous and afraid.”

Even in the dark I could feel her smile. Silently, she slipped her hands from my grasp. A few seconds later I felt her fingers alight on my cheek bones.

“What should I…”

“Shhh… Just let me do the work. Your only job right now is to feel… Okay?”

I nodded.

Starting slowly, the faerie began to caress my face. She used a slow, circular touch that sent tingles radiating outward to my shoulders. Her hands gradually moved to my neck. When she gently started to apply pressure to my collar bones, my heart rate shot up and I grasped her hands again.

“It’s okay… Go ahead and lean back. Keep your legs wrapped around my hips.”

I shivered slightly. “I… don’t let me drift away from you…”

“I won’t, I promise,” she answered. “That’s it. Do you feel my body against yours?”

“Yes.” My legs pulled her tight.

“Good. I want you to slowly let go of my hands. Will you do that for me?”

I let my grasp loosen and started to panic. “I feel so far away from you…”

Her left hand slipped away. “It’s alright. Just let yourself float. Just relax into it…” Her right hand pulled free.


“Shh… I am here, Miranda. Feel me between your thighs… Now I want you to stretch your arms up over your head… yes.”

It was a frightening position, but incredibly erotic at the same time. With only the connection at my apex, it was hard to feel anything but the pressure of her body against my sex. I gasped when her fingers touched my belly, her warm digits pressing softly on the bare skin between the waistband of my skirt and the loose blouse. With extreme patience, she lightly rubbed the flat of my abdomen, occasionally running the backs of her nails along my skin, tickling me and causing me to twitch. She continued the arousing touch for several minutes, then without pause, worked her fingers slowly upward to my blouse. It wasn’t until she found and popped the bottom-most button that I understood what she was doing and my heart began to pound. One by one, she slowly undid the clasps of my top. When she reached the final button, she let her hands run smoothly under the sides of the garment and then drew it open. The feel of the fabric, and then her fingers, sliding over my very present nipples was enough to cause me to gasp. Even though I was blind, I knew that she could see me laying there exposed. My face felt suddenly very hot.

“Don’t be embarrassed, Miranda. You are a pleasure to behold… and to touch.” Her warm fingers played down my sides causing almost unbearably sharp pleasure to radiate under her grazing caress. At my waist, her attention turned inward back over my belly, which quivered in uncontrolled delight. Flattening her palms against my midriff, she pushed her hands sensuously up my body until they enveloped the flattened mounds of my breasts again.

“Ah! Ughn!” I gasped in shock at the pleasure that flowed up from my chest, and my heart beat so loud in my own ears that I was sure she could hear it. “Ummm… oh god,” I moaned, biting my lower lip. Once again, Cailleach slid her hands to my sides and down, slowly repeating the pattern.

“Making love to a woman is different than making love to a man,” she explained, as she languidly explored my outstetched form before her. “To please a man, you start at his center and move outward, drawing him within you in the process.” Her light caresses drifted randomly across my flesh, causing me to shiver and moan. “But to please a woman,” she continued. “You must start at the periphery and move gradually inward…” As she said this, her dancing touch slowly found its way down over the soft curve of my abdomen and grouped at the waistband of my skirt. I was nearly shaking with anticipation. “… And put yourself, within her.” The faerie very slowly slipped her warm fingers just under the top of the skirt and brushed the swell of my Mons. I couldn’t breathe for several seconds as my thighs clenched and my heart threatened to burst in my chest. But then, her hands moved out to the edges of my pelvis and my eyes rolled back forward.

“To give a woman pleasure,” she said softly. “You must pay attention to her whole body.” The Fae woman’s grasp slid along my legs, following their length until she was reaching behind herself where my ankles were crossed at the base of her spine and locked together. Moving forward again, her caress dropped to the back of my thighs. My breathing was reduced again to short gasps when I realized that her hands were sliding under my skirt from behind. They settled gently on the curves of my bare buttocks and it was all I could do to keep from passing out. Her erotic touch was no more physically stimulating to me compared to that of Douglas or other past lovers, but with absolutely nothing else to distract my mind, it was orders of magnitude more sexually arousing. She cupped me, craftily applying just enough pressure to get me to tilt my hips against her, then relaxing. She repeated the imperceptible orchestration a second time, then a third. By the fourth repetition, she no longer needed the pressure as my pelvis had taken up the motion all on its own.

“You seek out her deep rhythm,” continued Cailleach as I slowly ground my apex against her, “and you play it to your advantage.” Which was exactly what she was doing as she silently moved her hands up just a few inches and lightly tickled the small of my back each time I rocked forward. She knew just where to brush her fingertips to cause my whole torso to arch into the undulation, which I had no will or desire to stop. In a minute or so, I was locked into the new pattern and she let her hands creep gradually around my hips under the skirt. My breathing had been reduced to sharp, semi-random gasps in time with the pumping of my sex against her body. The thin, gauze-like material of her skirt must have bunched up around her waist, for I felt myself brushing bare against a soft mound not my own. The sensation was highly arousing, and added to the more forceful pressure on my flower.

Her gliding fingers inched over my pelvis and very slowly closed on my center. With every second, I was growing more and more stimulated. Over and over I rolled my hips against hers, completely caught by need and passion.

“You enhance what is already there… rather than force something new.” She said as her digits flowed into the soft hairs of my Mons, causing me to make little cries of delight. “You must let her pleasure build on its own from within.” Her touch drifted downward and brushed the top of my sex as my pelvis angled up, and was pulled into the slick space between us as it angled back down again. Her fingers were searching, and I was going crazy. “A man releases his pleasure; a woman is engulfed by it…”

As if to punctuate her words, she finally found my jewel, and with only the lightest slippery pressure, pushed me over the edge.


Unable to handle the massive wave of ecstasy, I sat upright and threw my arms around Cailleach’s neck, clutching her tightly, even as my vision filled with flashes of light as she worked me to a second and then a third orgasm. All the while, my hips continued to thrust against her and the hand buried within the petals of my flower. Finally, many minutes later, she withdrew and just held me as I shuddered and fought to get my breathing under control.

“Oh my god…” I panted. “I… only wish… you could have felt that.” I said somewhat offhandedly.

She laughed softly in my ear. “I did.”

I was surprised silent, so she went on.

“Even though I have no connection to the Fíochán Anam, there is still a connection between the two of us. I felt your moments as if they were my own.” I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was smiling.

Amazed, I blushed right down to my toes. Knowing that she had shared my pleasure was both exciting and terrifying. I knew that the faeries could pick up on thoughts and feelings directed at them, but most of the Iron Mountain was shielded magically against it. Sheila-Kay had explained that the faerie instructors also kept up personal shielding as well. But trapped in Sherith Mal, there would be no way to block such overpowering thoughts.

I placed a loving kiss on her forehead and just enjoyed the close contact between us.

“Are you ready to try this again?” I asked many minutes later as we faced each other in the darkness. Our positions were much as they had been earlier… before they had been hijacked by my own unbridled lust. I found it was a lot easier to focus now that I had relieved that deep internal tension. Of course, positioning her body was now an excuse to touch her rather than something to apologize for.

“I am ready. How long will this portion of your crafting take? I just want to know how long I need to hold this position.”

“Well,” I replied, considering. “It might take a while. I doubt I’ll get it on the first try. Say, ten minutes maybe?”

“Oh, that is not too long,” she exclaimed. “May I talk with you as you work, or will that be distracting?”

I turned my eyes to where she would be looking and smiled. “I suppose that depends on what you talk about.” There was a sultry quality to my voice, and the faerie chuckled softly.

“I will try… to refrain from certain subjects,” she answered in kind. “Please begin.”

I nodded and then brought my hands up into position between us and began the sequence. By exact placement of mass, I was going to attempt to mimic the low-level magical functions that were used to build more complex constructs, but all on a miniature scale.

“Back in the Healer’s wing, just before we were arrested, I mentioned wanting to talk to you about your summer break. As I understand it, you have approximately three calendar months between semesters here at your Seelie academy, though given our current circumstances, that might be a moot point.”

“Summer break…” I clarified.

“Yes, that’s it. Before you declared your intentions, I was going to make you an offer to come to my Court… as sort of an internship.”

“An internship in the Unseelie Court?” I was intrigued.

She sighed. “Well, there were certainly some problems to be worked out, but you would have full protection of my mark.”

“What does that mean?” I asked, the first of four commands falling into place. I couldn’t see what I was doing but I could feel it. “Uh, be sure to hold still now…”

“Right… A ‘Fae mark’ is a special magical symbol that creates a physical link between two entities, though its properties are usually one way. In this case, it would be a mark of power, placed on your body, that would serve as a guarantee of safety. In essence, it says that you have my protection, and that any act committed against you is the same as committing it against me. In fact, the spell is so binding that physical damage is literally transferred.”

“Really?” I said, surprised. “So… Like if someone were to cut my hand, you’d get the same cut?”

“That’s exactly right. Even self injury.”

“Wow. Hey, couldn’t that be used against you? I mean, couldn’t an enemy of yours get to you through me?”

“They could indeed. If you were to be killed, the action would destroy me as well. There are very few who would dare such treason in my own Court, Miranda. I dare say, none so foolish. I am well respected by my people, so the force of that mark would be formidable. However it IS a risk for me. It is a sign of my commitment to your safety. By protecting you, I protect myself.”

“That makes sense,” I replied. The second command fell into place. “Okay, we have to change positions a little for the next part. Do you remember how I showed you?”

“Yes. Should I change now?”

I started to move my own position. “Yup… That’s it. Just a little more… There!” The faerie froze exactly as we had practiced and I smiled. “Perfect. So,” I started, a little hesitant to bring up the subject,” I was thinking about how the Sluagh has it out for me, and where I should go to be safe. You don’t think they would go after my family, do you? Specifically my mom.”

Cailleach sighed. “I do not believe so, but the Sluagh are their own people. The rules of my Court simply do not apply to them. I will say that it is generally considered very distasteful in the Fae to use an innocent as a bargaining chip. Random killing, yes, but if they are aware of the relationship, even the Sluagh has a code of sorts. I assume your mother is not Fae?”

I wondered if her connection with my grandmother changed things at all. “I don’t believe so, no.”

“Then she should be safe. Miranda… Despite what you so eloquently explained to Marcus Brightly, you ARE Fae. There is no doubt. The fact that you have not committed to a Court may put you out of his jurisdiction, but it will not protect you from the Sluagh. For your own safety, you need the shelter that only a full faction can bring…”

“And you want me to commit to the Unseelie,” I started.

The faerie was silent for a moment. “I want you to be safe. You are too important to… me to allow my own personal feelings to influence that decision. Committing to the larger Seelie Court would have its advantages. It is far more spread out than my smaller court, and so you could travel with less worry…”


She fell silent, and I continued.

“I won’t be a part of any group that puts its own political aspirations above that of its people. Professor Brightly has repeatedly shown me that the Seelie Court has not yet learned this. Until that changes, I will consider a place among your own Court, if they’ll have me.” I felt tears start to form in the corners of my eyes and I swallowed down the emotions that threatened to break my concentration and ruin the crafting. Neither of us spoke for several minutes.

“There,” I exclaimed as the last magical command came together. For the first time in several hours, my eyes saw a tiny pinpoint pulse of light. It was barely more than a blip, but in that inky nothingness it was like a supernova. Cailleach gasped.

“By the Mother… I wouldn’t have believed it possible. So what will this tiny construct do?”

I was all grins. “Not much for quite some time I’m afraid… At least visibly. If you could look closely, you would see, however, that it’s actually doing a lot. Bit by tiny bit, it’s pulling in air, and holding it.”

“Not to belittle that achievement, Miranda, but why?”

“Right now, our mass is not enough to get an Ob’ilar running, and even if it was, we still wouldn’t have the power to do anything of any consequence. So, we need more mass.”

“I still don’t see…”

I stopped her with my fingers to her lips. The action startled me as much as it did her when a spark-like tingle raced through my body and down into my lap. “The room has to be ventilated somehow, and though you may not see it, even gases have mass. Collect enough of it together and you have a planet. We don’t need that much for our purposes, just enough for the next step, which unfortunately is a lot more complicated than is going on now. I’m going to craft a limited version of my Ob’ilar in order to take advantage of the increasing gravity. Eventually I’ll recreate functions advanced enough to start work on the door to our cell.” Watching the Fíochán Anam, I smiled as the tiny bubble of mass quietly grew.

“Incredible. So, we wait?”

“Yes. It could be an hour or so before it really starts building with any noticeable speed. There may be a few things to adjust along the way, but for the most part we just have to let it do its thing. It’s stable enough that we can move around though.” I stretched out my legs, enjoying the null gravity for once. As long as I could feel some point of contact with Cailleach I no longer feared the weightlessness, and the utter detachment it brought. “I guess I should have asked this before I blew off Headmaster Brightly, but… Does the Unseelie Court respect its people more than its politics?”

The Fae woman sighed. “You know that’s an incredibly complicated question, don’t you?”

I acknowledged with a nod. “Yes, but overall?”

She thought for a few moments. “Tell me, Miranda, have you seen many other Fae races living here in the Iron Mountain?”

“No, I guess not,” I answered, considering. “There are some instructors that are neither human nor faerie and who have residence here.”

“I think you will find that the number of non faerie or human inhabitants is actually very small. The Seelie Court for the most part, does not mingle the races together. They could, there is plenty of room here in the Iron Mountain, but there’s no need. The various races have habitations all over the planet, and it is only the royalty that come to these halls. But the Unseelie Court is not like this. Early on, we were literal outcasts, and our numbers were terribly small. For our own safety and organization, we came together. There were many problems with this, as you can imagine, but we put aside race boundaries and adopted a strict collection of rules to prevent us from killing each other. It hasn’t always been perfect, but we are far stronger as a whole because we act as a single people. Do you understand?”

“I think so.”

“So when you ask me which is more important to the Unseelie Court, people or politics, I have a hard time answering. Without our people, we are nothing, but without our peculiar politics, we are little more than a chaotic bickering mess. My people have come to accept this. We live within our rules and laws, and it works. We have peace.”

“I think I understand. Perhaps I should simply ask what life is like in the Unseelie Court.”

“That was my reason for wanting to invite you for an internship,” she answered at once. “You could see it for yourself before choosing. But I fear you may have burned some bridges…”

I frowned, but then shook my head. “I meant what I said to the Professor. He set fire to those bridges when he started manipulating his students.”

“We have more of a guild system than a central school, but if it’s any consolation, no instructor would ever consider using time-sight as a means of education. There are actually provisions against it in our laws.”

“Really?” I was a little surprised.

The faerie was a bit slow in responding. “Miranda, I wasn’t kidding about how seriously my people take our laws. Any citizen of the Unseelie Court may challenge any other if they feel their civil rights have been violated, even to deadly combat. It’s for this reason that we give new members to the Court another special seal that marks them as an innocent, or more aptly, a child, and exempts them from many of the more lethal regulations. That mark stays with them until they have proven themselves against a number of tests. It is something I would definitely require of you if you were to come to my Court. The risks of even an accidental violation are simply too great.”

I was silent for a bit as I considered her words.

“Miranda, may I ask you a question?”

I nodded into the dark, knowing she could see me.

“There is a rumor… that you had a Telling.”

I tensed a little, but then realized that any nervousness I felt was my own. I couldn’t feel my grandmother’s touch at all. It was a scary sensation. I would need to be careful.

“Your thoughts are clouded,” said the Fae woman with a touch of hesitation to her voice. “If it’s not something you feel comfortable talking about with me, I will understand.”

“No. No, that’s not it,” I replied at once. “Actually, it concerned you… or rather your court.” I then went on and recited the whole thing from start to finish. When I was done, the faerie was completely silent, though I could feel her body trembling softly.

“Cailleach?” I ran my hands up her body until I was touching her face, and found it to be wet with tears. “Oh! I am so sorry… I had no idea it would upset you.”

The other sniffed back a tear and placed her own hand to my cheek. “Miranda, these are not tears of sadness. They are tears of joy!”

I was confused. She went on.

“The words of a Telling come straight from the Mother, mo chridhe, my dear dear heart. It means that She has heard our plight; that She has has not abandoned my Court.”

I was stunned. “You didn’t already… know this? Wait… You have no Queen! It’s the Queen of Trees that talks to Gaia!”


“But,” I started. “How does your Court function? How do you know if what you’re doing is The Mother’s will?”

I heard Cailleach take a deep breath. “It hasn’t always been this way, Miranda. There was a time, long ago, when we too had a Queen of Trees. She was killed in a terrible battle with the Seelie Court. That was almost two hundred years ago. We also used to rely on the High Priestess for direction…”


I felt Cailleach tense. “They do not teach you here of the Court of Dana?”

“That terminology is unfamiliar to me,” I answered shaking my head. The faerie spat a series of curses in an unfamiliar language, but stopped when I started to pull back away from her in fear.

“Please forgive me,” she said as she took up my hands and apologized. “I am not mad at you, mo leannán. I am angry at your Headmaster. Such an important part of Fae structure, and it is left out simply because the temple resides in my Court… It is an outrageous grievance!”

“So, there are Priestesses?” I asked, trying to distract her wrath.

She sighed. “In the Court of Dana, yes. They are a special neutral Court that lives in service directly to Gaia.”

“How is that different than what all the faeries do?”

“While we serve the Mother, we are free to live our lives as we wish. The priestesses of Dana live ONLY to serve Her. They have other important duties, but chiefly they take care of specific requests and wait at her bidding. They are like the Healers in that they serve no one Court.”

“And the High Priestess?” I asked.

“Aside from the Faerie Dominion Queen, the High Priestess is the only other entity who ever meets the mother face to face. She even has a special portal in the Temple of Dana that can take her directly into Her presence.” She spoke the words with a certain reverent awe. “But over a thousand years ago, the High Priestess was assassinated by the Sluagh.”

My breath caught. “The Sluagh?… But why would they do that? If the Court of Dana is neutral…”

“The Sluagh serve their own purposes. Never forget that. Perhaps they felt threatened, who knows. For whatever reason, she became an enemy… and they killed her for it.” Cailleach took a deep breath. “Miranda, the curse that was used against you…”

“Black Blood?”

“That’s right. It’s… It’s significant that the Sluagh chose that particular curse. If they simply wanted you dead, there are much more… efficient spells they could have given to your classmate. But that one… Miranda, they wanted you to suffer. Had you remained conscious, you would have experienced unimaginable pain.”

“I caught a bit of it when it first hit me…” I answered, remembering. It was like my blood was being turned to liquid fire and I was being burned alive from the inside out. I shivered slightly and the faerie rubbed my hands in comfort.

“You must understand,” she continued, “that their purpose for such vile magic may have been nothing personal to you at all. They may have been testing how the Seelie Court would react to such an attack against a student, or they may have even used the situation as a means to remove me from my Court. Michelle, your warrior protector, was correct when she stated that whoever made that curse, did so knowing that I would almost certainly be the one trying to defeat it… and they tuned it so that I would fail. Had she not been there, you would be dead, and most likely, I as well.”

“Yeah, instead we’re both locked in a darkened hell…”

Cailleach placed her hand gently on my cheek. “While I certainly wouldn’t come here by choice, I have found my time here with you to be… not entirely unpleasant.”

I smiled. “Agreed. But… as much as I have enjoyed being with you, Sheeaghan, I think it is about time we left.”

“Your spell?! I’d nearly forgotten!”

I had been quietly monitoring the slowly growing ball near us. I looked to the Fíochán Anam and saw its mass. Apparently, so did Cailleach, for she gasped.

“Only minutes ago I could barely detect its presence. Now it is as massive as a dozen elephants!”

I grinned into the darkness. “Well, maybe not a dozen, but now I have something I can work with.” With that, I carefully moved closer to the ball, my fingers nearly touching its invisible surface. Then, with very subtle gestures, I activated a portion of my Ob’ilar. I limited the magical field to just my left hand, slowly bring up each finger in turn and testing the stability. It was weak, but I didn’t need much. It would be enough if I could just counter a bit of the charms laid into the walls. All I needed was a connection to the outside.

“Miranda…” said the faerie tentatively. “I have two questions.”

I was concentrating, but I nodded. “I can talk while I work.”

“First, have you thought about what we are going to do if we can manage to get out of this cell? We don’t even know if there are guards in the hall.”

That could be a problem. “Not that we have a whole lot of choice, but I don’t plan on giving them a chance to stop me. I’ll try real hard not to kill anyone, but damned if I’m going to let a few guards get in my way. We’ll have to fight our way to the main entrance gate. There’s a portal to the Market there. Once through, we’ll be safe enough.”

“Have you ever fought against a faerie?” she asked.

“No,” I answered, frowning. “I forgot about time-sight. Will they see us coming?”

The Fae woman considered it for a few moments. “I do not believe they can predict our actions within the bubble of this cell. The same magic that prevents us from connecting to Gaia, inadvertently shields us from outside observation. However, once you punch through…”

I nodded. “Right… We’ll have to move quickly.”

“Provided you can get the door open, perhaps you should leave the faerie combat to me.”

“Are you going to be able to handle the guards on your own? I didn’t like the look of those weapons.”

Cailleach chuckled. “Miranda, even though Marcus arrived with a half dozen guards, the act was mostly for show. He knew very well that had I chosen to, I could have taken them down easily. But he also knew that I wouldn’t dare do so within the grounds of the Silver Hand. That’s why he came to the courtyard to arrest me.”

“Michelle mentioned that he had all students restricted to the Great Hall even before you arrived…”

“A wise choice. He’s no fool, your Headmaster. Allowing me in at all was a very serious risk.”

My hand glowed with the lines from my Ob’ilar, and for the first time in many hours I was able to see the face of my cell mate. Her eyes were fearsome pools, and her tight-lipped half smile actually caused me to catch my breath. She was terrifying to behold. Her gaze seemed to carry the memory of a thousand battles, and more death than I ever hoped to know. And then, as she looked at me, her features changed. She softened. Her tight smile relaxed into that of the young woman her appearance belied to. I had no idea how old the faerie actually was, but aside from her ears, her face could have been confused for that of a somewhat Gothic-looking teenager.

“I am not your enemy, Miranda.” She said quietly. “You have nothing to fear from me.”

I remembered to breathe again and nodded. “And the second question?”

Her gaze fell to my hand. “Is the way that your hand looks now a reflection of your entire Ob’ilar?”

I too looked at the webbed lines and symbols cris-crossing my skin. “Well, it’s usually a little brighter, but yes.”

“I thought so. There were several moments while we were intimate when your entire Ob’ilar pulsed visibly. It seemed to be matched to your orgasms. I didn’t want to distract you at the time, but it would appear that sexual energy also functions within our cell.”

My cheeks were suddenly hot. “Oh… Yeah, it sometimes becomes visible during very emotional moments… Not that I could have made use of that energy. I was just a little too distracted.”

Cailleach tilted her head. “I’m not so sure, mo leannán. Tell me, Miranda, are you hungry?”

I started to answer at once. “Are you kidding? I’m… I… What the hell?”

She smiled at my confusion. “I thought not.”

“But… But I was practically starving when we were brought here!”

“Yes. But then, I felt you sap me each time you came to your moment.”

“Oh my goodness,” I stammered, feeling a little faint with embarrassment. “I… I can’t believe I drained you like that!”

“Relax. I noticed it at the time, but was only too happy to help you. Rest assured, you haven’t weakened me. A nymph would have trouble draining me significantly. Unfortunately, the effect will only last a short time, and then you really will need food. We should proceed.”

I was still thinking about sapping her. Finally, I sighed. “Okay… Here we go then.” With that, I reached over toward the wall.

Whatever charm had been cast on the hard stone, it was insanely complex and powerful. But it had been specifically designed to block energy from the outside. It wasn’t expecting an internal attack. Still, it took me almost two long minutes to find any sort of weakness, but once I had a way in, it was easy to craft a simple spell that negated the magic in a small, one foot wide space. It was enough. By placing my hand against the moist black rock in that zone, I suddenly felt a connection to the gravity just beyond; it was the mass of the Earth, and of Gaia. For the briefest of moments there was also something more, almost a sense of surprise and relief, but not my own.

My full Ob’ilar flowed over my body as it reconnected. It was like putting on a comfortable pair of pajamas, and I sighed with relief. It was also a great reassurance to feel the full extent of the Fíochán Anam. Reaching out, I took Cailleach’s hand and drew her to the wall. She gasped as soon as she too felt the touch of the world beyond. Like a cool breeze blowing through an open window into a stifling house, we both just closed our eyes and relished the invigorating touch of the Mother.

I stretched out my hand and cast four lightly glowing orbs about our cell. I knew they would stay as long as I retained a connection to the outside, and although I really wasn’t interested in remembering what the place looked like, the soft light gave borders to our prison and removed the feeling of endless nothingness. I saw the faerie nod in approval.

Next, I looked to the door and considered our options. Like the outside, the door was covered in strange symbols, some literally etched into its surface. There were no keyholes or latches of any kind.

“Any suggestions?” I asked the faerie.

With a great sense of reluctance, she let go of the wall, and of me, and floated over to the portal. Running her hands along its surface, she frowned.

“The mechanism for locking the door is magical in nature, but well shielded. I don’t think it will be as easy to fool as the wall.” She answered.

“Then I guess we’ll just have to stick with the brute force method…” I waved her away from the portal while I checked the status of Candice’s amplifier. To my surprise, it was still fully activated and waiting. “You ready?” I asked when the Fae woman was once again behind me.

“I suppose, but what are you going to… oh my goddess!”

I magically took hold of the basketball-sized silvery orb that was still drifting in the center of the room and began to draw it back from the door. When it was as far away as I could get it, I grinned and then put everything I had behind that massive weight.

Even I jumped at the sound of the door being ripped from its hinges. The whole structure buckled from the center out and then smashed into the hall with enough noise that I thought I had gone deaf for several seconds afterward. Cailleach was already dashing into the hallway while I was still hoping that no one had been standing guard just outside our cell. My faerie friend was staring down the hall in a defensive posture when I joined her. Seeing that no one was running at us, she glanced at the mangled door that was partially embedded in the opposite wall, then looked over at me with raised eyebrows.

I frowned. “Where are the guards?”

“That’s a very good question,” she replied. “As renowned as Sherith Mal WAS…” she emphasized the word as she held my eyes, “…as an inescapable Fae prison, I seriously doubt your Headmaster would be so foolish as to leave it completely unguarded.”

“But then… You know what,” I said, stopping myself. “It doesn’t matter. Let’s get the hell out of here. But first I need to disable my battering ram.”

“Your what? Oh…” she commented as I moved over to the ball of sliver that was pressed into the bent and broken door. “Are you sure you don’t want to bring it along? I could make for an interesting way to get people out of our way.”

I shook my head. “No. It’s too dangerous. All it would take is one guard to counter the spell holding back all that air and… boom!” In the close quarters of a hallway or small room, it would easily kill everyone, including us.”

“Ah. I see your point.”

“I’ll have it dissipate over the next few hours…” I began carefully manipulating the simple spell.

“Well, whatever you need to do, please do it quickly. It’s a sure bet that Marcus and the other royalty are aware of our escape by now. I can fuzzy things a bit, but we just made a pretty big splash in the fabric of time.”

“There!” I replied finishing. “Let’s go.”

I let Cailleach lead the way as we moved up the stairs and out of Sherith Mal, fully expecting to be ambused at any moment, but there was nothing. Even out in the hall by the Refinery we encountered no one.

“A trap?” I asked as we considered what to do next.

The faerie took a few steps down the hall as if listening. “No. Something else is going on… Wait, someone is coming, but… That’s odd.” She turned to me and cast a quick spell with the flick of her hand. Instantly I felt slightly shorter, and when I looked down at myself I was in a body not my own. A pair of jeans and sneakers covered my lower half instead of a dirty skirt. When I looked over at Cailleach for explanation, I found myself staring into the eyes of a blond student I didn’t recognize. A moment later I understood.

At that moment a sandy red-headed Forth I had seen now and again came running around the corner. She glanced briefly at us, but then dashed past and into the passage leading to the South House ready-room. A few moments later she exited and started down the hall, only to disappear into the East House version of the same. The disguised faerie looked to me in question and I shrugged my shoulders.

“Let’s go,”I whispered.

Still under the effects of the illusion, we headed up toward the main entrance portal.

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