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 25 – The Council

The passages seemed strangely empty that morning as I made my way toward the Main Hall, and then I remembered that this was to be a day of rest. Most students were either in their respective house halls, or at The Market enjoying what should have been a relaxing day without classes. But with every step, I was inexplicably growing more and more nervous. There was something beyond the unusual absence of students that had me worried, but I couldn’t put my finger on it until I rounded the corner and came to the reception area in front of the great hall.

There, standing next to the very large doors that led into the hall itself were two faerie guards dressed in what I took to be formal war garb. Each had a wrapped robe of sorts that was more decorative than functional, and were masterful works of art by any definition. Still, they were obviously intended to hold the breasts out of the way and provide a platform for a number of carefully positioned armor plates at the shoulders and elbows, and I wondered what sort of combat they were trying to protect themselves from, magical or physical, or both? I also noticed a pair of sword hilts rising like wings behind each of the waiting guards. This caused my brow to rise in confusion since I had been taught that faeries, or fae folk in general, rarely used weapons since they were so easily defeated by magic or by following the tracks of time, although knives and swords could be enchanted as to make them more usable in combat.

The guards watched me approach, and it wasn’t until I was within about twenty feet that the one at the left side of the door raised her hand and constructed a swift spell gesture. Whatever she did caused my skin to tingle slightly and I felt as though I were briefly walking through a waterfall.

“First Summers, you are expected,” she then said when I stopped in front of them.

“Uh, what’s going on,” I asked, hoping that the guard might give me a hint at what the Headmaster wanted. I assumed I was to meet in the Main Hall since that had been the location of the incident in question. “Am I in trouble or something?”

The faerie looked a little pained, as though they were holding back a strong emotion. “I’m sorry, First. I’m not permitted to discuss the matter. If you please…” She indicated the doorway, which I saw had silently opened enough to allow my entrance.

“Oh. Alright. Thanks,” I said, eying the door.

“May the Mother be with you,” replied the guard cryptically as I started to move forward. I glanced back at her and noticed that her face held what I took to be genuine concern, and gulped. What was I in for now?

I found out the moment my eyes adjusted to the increased light within the huge hall and stopped in my tracks. I had expected the Headmaster, and possibly one or two of the principalities that had been there the night before. I was definitely not expecting what I took to be the greater majority of the fae high court, all in formal garb and color.

What was simple nervousness turned into outright panic as I scanned the crowd and saw that nearly every known race was represented by at least two principalities, and in most cases, all four. Aside from Ananha and the rest of the house faerie patrons, there were brownies, sprites, three dryads, gnomes, an assortment of sea-based entities, a troll, human Adepts, the Headmaster himself, and in the middle of it all, the faerie Dominion Queen. I wanted nothing more than to turn on my heels and run for my life, and I might have done just that had I not heard the door close shut and lock behind me.

“Miranda, come forward please,” commanded the Headmaster in a soft tone. That his voice was not filled with anger gave me just enough courage to get my feet moving. It seemed like it took an impossibly long time for me to reach the center dais, and my footsteps echoed in the large space as though I were wearing wooden clogs. I was still about twenty paces away when I saw Candice, Michelle and Douglas all sitting to the side looking darkly grim. If I had somehow gotten my classmates in trouble…

“No,” came the gentle melodic voice of the Queen and I faltered slightly in my step. “Your friends are not here for disciplinary action.” While I breathed slightly easier, I was reminded of the fact that my thoughts were wide open to the fae woman, and probably most of the entities in the room as well. This caused a small alarm to go off in my head, and I knew that something within my thinking had changed slightly, as though a part of me had just split off and dropped deep into my subconscious where I could no longer touch it.

“Curious,” said the Queen watching me all the more closely until I was standing only a few paces away. I bowed as I had been taught, and mentally made note to work on the motion a bit later since it was a lot harder than I thought to do under pressure. Provided, of course, that there would be an opportunity to use it in the future.

“You do not have to hide from me, child,” she continued, her eyes filling me with a growing sense of being wrapped in heavy cold cloth the longer I stared at them. Finally, I broke the contact and looked down at the floor in front of me, shivering.

“I… I’m sorry, my Queen. I don’t mean to.” My voice sounded so frail and weak in the huge hall that I feared she might not hear it.

“You really don’t, do you… Interesting.”

After a moment’s silence, I looked up at the woman once again. The moment our eyes met, the grip of magic flowed around me with renewed strength. I staggered back slightly, and remembered to breathe.

“P-please, ma’am,” I pleaded. “Why am I here?”

The light that flowed from her seemed to slip out and wrap around everything it touched, as though it were a living thing, and every second that passed while she regarded me was like an hour. Finally, she squinted slightly as if to peer right through to my soul.

“Why indeed,” she said simply. “You truly do not know?”

I shook my head ever so slightly. “I assume that it has something to do with what happened in the Song Circle, but please,” and I took a slight step forward and felt the immediate pressure of magic pushing me back, as though the air itself would protect the Dominion Queen against any and all attack. “My friends had nothing at all to do with it. It was me, really. I never even asked for the drum and…”

“Miranda.” The headmaster’s voice interrupted me and I turned at the sound of my name. “While I can not stress enough the importance of this gathering, neither you, nor your friends, have been accused of any transgression. Quite the opposite, in fact.”

“I don’t understand.”

“While not without precedent,” continued the fae queen. “It is still immensely uncommon for a human to be the recipient vessel for a Telling, as Mr. McBride has so aptly deduced.” She nodded slightly toward my friend and I turned and saw Douglas swallow hard as his face flushed. “And he is also correct in his understanding that such events are directly linked to the Earth Mother personally. Why She chooses to work through others in this way is not known. She is, after all, fully capable of assuming any form She wishes and could appear in person out of nothing if She so desired. But Her ways, are not our ways. We are merely servants in this regard.

“However, Gaia does not deliver such messages unless She expects us to take them with the utmost seriousness, so it is imperative that we fully understand every detail possible about these events, and their legitimacy.”

I caught on her last words. “Legitimacy? My Lady… I have no recollection whatsoever of even performing that song. I don’t see how I can lend to its credibility.” I saw the Queen glance over at the Headmaster in the same way that she had when I first met her many weeks ago for my Reading. It was a sad, almost troubled look that caused my heart to pound with apprehension. I looked to Professor Brightly, but saw that he made no indication or emotion as he answered the Queen’s gaze.

When she once again turned back to me, she made a most human sigh. “There is a way you can help, Miranda.”

“Whatever is needed, my Queen,” I replied with as much seriousness as I could muster and bowed my head slightly, averting my eyes. The fae royal then rose from her seat with the majesty of a mountain, and slowly walked forward until she was standing directly before me. The pressure of magic was intense, as though it would take but the slightest twitch of her hand to shatter my body and send me flying across the hall. I was trembling when she lightly cupped my chin and turned my face up to hers. I was too terrified to look at her again, and clamped my eyes shut.

“I need to know for certain that your Telling is not a trick by… an enemy, in order to create confusion within our Court. To do this, I need to look more deeply into your mind. This act can only be accomplished with your consent, as I am not permitted to force my way in. I warn you, the experience is… not very pleasant. Will you agree to this? Will you allow me entrance into your soul?”

In retrospect, my first encounter with the Dominion Queen was a piece of cake compared to what she was asking of me now. She was requesting to see my innermost thoughts, desires and fears. The apprehension of possible physical trauma was insignificant compared to the emotional pain I could feel by allowing someone to see me in this way, and I fought to find an excuse to say no. But none came. I had to allow it. If I did not, the implications were too horrible to even consider.

After what must have been a very uncomfortable silence for all present, I finally whispered, “Yes.”

“Then open your eyes, child,” came the Queen’s floating voice. And so I did.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I felt next, and there are barely words to describe it. I was instantly falling into the deep blue centers of the fae woman’s irises, and I frantically sought out something to hold on to, only I was without body, and so, helpless. Sharp pain seized first my hands, then my arms, and finally the rest of my body as though a million tiny needles had been suddenly inserted into my skin. But it was the complete inability to brush away the sensations that caused me to start to wail, and even then, I felt no air leaving my throat, no sound came to my ears, even though I knew I was screaming.

White blue light seared back layer after layer within my mind, ripping forth memories both favored and despised as my life was forcibly exposed. There was the feeling that these memories were being yanked out and destroyed forever, and the sense of loss was terrifying. Had I a body to control, I would have scratched and kicked and struggled to my very last breath to stop the outflow, regardless of the consequences. I experienced the imprint of each memory as though it had just happened, so all sense of time was distorted into an eternal now. For all I was aware, I could have been standing in front of the Queen for days, even years, and the stream of my life went on and on.

And then, quite suddenly, it was over.

The light was gone, and I floated in a wonderfully empty darkness that held no pain, no sound, no other presence than my own. I still could not feel my body as I drifted in the warmth of nothing, but I imagined myself curled into a fetal position and let the fear gently ebb.

Gradually, I did begin to feel again. It was like a soft breeze of cooler air flowing by me, but somehow I was sheltered from it by what seemed a soft blanket. Sound drifted in to invade the silence, and I puzzled over what came as angry or rushed murmurs. There was a commotion somewhere nearby, but I still wanted nothing more than to stay hidden in the darkness. After a bit, I started to make out distinct voices. Most were unknown to me, but with each second I recognized one after another. I heard Headmaster Brightly give a command for order, and Ananha’s normally soft tenor grow cold and harsh as she argued with an unknown voice. Finally, I heard a whimpering, sobbing male voice that I only connected to Douglas after hearing it for a very long time, as it was buried in the background. Then suddenly, he spoke words that were filled with a fierce venom and I felt myself rising quickly into consciousness.

“Stay away from her!” he yelled. “Haven’t you done enough!?”

Unable to hold myself in the darkness any longer, I opened my eyes and gasped. The Dominion Queen was still staring down at me, only this time I wasn’t drawn into her magic as I was before. Now, the face that held mine was filled with concern and love, and to my surprise… fear.

“Try not to move, Miranda,” she commanded in a tone that sounded remarkably human. “The effects of my magic will fade shortly.” Douglas was sobbing again, and I defied the instructions and with what seemed to me a profound effort, turned my head to the side so I could see what was going on.

The first thing I realized was that I was no longer standing. I puzzled over my perspective until I understood that I must be laying on my back on the floor with my head in the Queen’s lap. The warm blanket I had envisioned in the darkness was her gown, which she had settled around me.

Nearby, a number of entities, fae and human, were running about in apparent confusion, and in the center of it all where three figures, also on the floor. The first I recognized at once as my lover. He was kneeling with his arms wrapped around a limp female body covered in blood, who was lying much as I was on the cold stone. Ananha was kneeling there as well, with her back to me, performing what I recognized as powerful healing magic. When I finally got a clear view of the bent and bleeding girl on the floor, I wailed in grief. It was Michelle.

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