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 38 – Updates and Alliances

The silence as we entered the main hall was frightening but gratefully short-lived. Most of the occupants in the massive room simply stared at Michelle and me with utmost hatred as we found our friends. It was only Petra’s whooping cry of victory from the ceiling that broke the icy cold emptiness and gave me the courage to lift from the ground and join her in our little inverted oasis.

“I knew you would flatten those Fourth-year fatheads,” cried the girl as we sat down amongst the other Firsts. “We saw it on the ranking board the moment you won.” She was pointing to two large panels that had been affixed to the wall of the Great Hall. One reflected the house standings, the other much larger panel showed overall pair placement. Our names were currently glowing slightly green, apparently indicating that we had just won a match. Our opponents, the two Fourth-year girls, were glowing dull red, a loss. I scanned the crowd below us but did not see them. I wasn’t surprised. We had walked out of the arena area and come straight to Great Hall at the request of the faerie standing just inside the massive green door. “Great or House halls, please,” she had said. They wanted as few students as possible wandering around during the games to reduce the chances of confrontation. Still, Michelle wouldn’t leave the Refinery until the arbiters assured her that the girl with the broken arm would be as good as new before lunch. Undoubtedly, the Healer’s Wing got a lot of traffic during the games.

As our friend slapped our backs and congratulated us on our victory, I couldn’t help but feel that the whole thing was somehow wrong. I understood why the games existed, but no matter how well I did, it wasn’t going to help me win any loyalty outside of our year. I had no idea what was going to be expected of me in the future, but more than anything, I dreaded doing it alone.

“How did it work this time,” asked Maria hopefully, regarding the glyphs. She was a great flier, but pretty weak when it came to defensive magic. I smiled at her.

“It’s blocking physical attacks now. Isn’t that right, Shell.”

My partner in the games blushed. “Damn well saved my ass,” she admitted.

“Whoa…” said Penelope Fairchild slightly in awe. I could appreciate her reaction. If the best fighter in their group could make use of the glyph, then how much more valuable would it be for the rest of us.

“It stopped a sure knockout head shot from Diasa Morgan,” she continued. “I got… distracted, and suddenly, BOOM! there was Diasa’s fist floating two inches from my head. I’d have been toast.”

“That is so freaking cool!” exclaimed Tina Rouche.

“Yeah, but I wouldn’t count on it every time. I have no idea what triggered it, and you can bet Diasa is telling everyone she knows about our little trickster right now.”

It turned out that Michelle was right. The next two matches from our group were quick losses, and Emily Sanderson and her teammate Rachael Lee were both sent to the Healer’s wing.

“I think I saw what they did,” mentioned Emily, rubbing her recently mended arm, when they had returned. “That third-year cast something that just flew up and… ate it. For a brief second both glyphs were visible, then ours just vanished.”

Since the glyph was of my own creation, I was able to see each one floating quietly above the head of every First in the room. The moment Emily walked into the hall, her glyph reappeared. I had expected this since the spell was designed to automatically re-establish itself and report when in the presence of others like it. In the past, that reporting had been fairly quick, and so also the changes that they made and propagated amongst themselves. But I was surprised to see that Emily’s glyph was taking an inordinately long time to do whatever it was that it was doing, and almost seemed to be vibrating as it pulsed and spun above the girl’s head. Finally, after nearly two minutes, there was a slight flash as all the glyphs in the room updated. What was now floating above each of our heads was vastly different than before. It wasn’t just that they were bigger, now they were considerably more complex and sported several smaller glyphs in orbit around the larger one.

Candice noticed my look of surprise.

“Ran? Something wrong?”

I puzzled for a moment and then asked, “Emily, was your match unusual in any way?”

She grunted. “You mean other than the fact that we got our asses handed to us?”

“No,” I continued. “Did those Thirds do anything… special?”

She frowned and thought for a moment. “Well, it was over so quick. I remember that we had just located them across the room when Rachael yelped and collapsed. I never even saw what they hit her with. I was pretty freaked out about then, and thought that they were toying with me, just standing there like that.”

“They weren’t moving?”

“No. They just stood there at the other side of the room. I could see their hands moving, but they never even tried to attack me physically… Not that they needed to.”

I considered this. “And then what?”

“Well, a moment later there was a change in the light around me and I caught something moving out of the corner of my eye. When I looked up I saw another glyph hit and destroy the one above my head. After that, I hardly had time to look back to the Thirds before several spells hit me at once. One in the arm, which hurt like hell, and another in the chest, which wasn’t so bad, but knocked me against the wall and into la la land.”

“What is it, Ran?” asked Michelle.

I watched the slowly rotating construct hovering above the girl’s head. One of the problems with my plan, that I hadn’t shared with the others, was the possibility of corruption. I had put in safeguards, but I was certainly no expert in glyph security. If someone had managed to find a way to infect our glyphs, they could nail us all and we would have little recourse but to deactivate them. But for them to do that, they would have to understand how the glyphs worked in the first place. No, something else was going on. The problem was I had no real way to examine the glyphs to be certain they were free of such alien code. They were changing and growing all on their own. Certainly there would be pieces of my own original work in there, but it would be impossible to distinguish code changed by the glyphs themselves from something inserted by a skilled opponent.

“The glyphs changed in a major way just now. I’m not sure, but I think they reacted to being attacked directly.”

“You mean, by another glyph?”

“Maybe. Or possibly it was due to the fact that Emily’s attackers were both casters. They only used magic, no physical attacks. Whatever the case, our glyphs are now pretty radically different than they were only a few minutes ago.”

“Better?” asked Emily raising her brows.

“Hard to say,” I replied with genuine concern. “I guess we’ll have to see.”

It didn’t take long to find out. Petra and Maria had a match with a favored pair of Fourths later that hour. The team had placed third in last year’s games, and was expected to at least place this year. They treated the whole match up as some kind of joke, which was better than outright hatred, but not by much. We all sat in the Great Hall sweating in silence until all at once there was a ruckus below and Emily cried out, “They won!!”

There was a scramble to get a better look at the scoreboards and sure enough, Petra and Maria’s names were now glowing green. Most of the Firsts just broke out in exultation, but I noticed that Michelle was watching the rest of the grades below, and with good reason. All eyes were now turned up at us in silent wrath.

When the pair entered the hall after their match, they lifted up and came straight to the roof amid a mass of cheers and whistles. Petra, who I noticed was sporting a still-smoldering burn on her left shoulder, made a beeline for me. When she was within two or three feet she reached out, grabbed me by the arms, and pulled my face right up to hers as she kissed me full on the lips.

I was shocked, and slightly stunned. The group around me was still laughing and cheering when she held me out at arms length and said, “You are amazing! You should have seen it!”

“Uh… seen what?”

“Your glyph, you fool! It was incredible…”

I ushered her to a table while Candice shushed people to get them to quiet down. She wasn’t having much luck.

“Tell me what happened, Petra…”

“If there was any doubt that your glyph was working before, it’s gone now. Those Fourths tried something similar to what was done to Emily and Rachael, only it did not work. Their attack glyphs never reached us. They were intercepted as they came.”

I looked away, thinking. “The smaller orbiting constructs…” I said to myself.

“When they saw that they weren’t going to get us so easily with pure magic, they changed their tactics. But we were ready for them, and Maria did some fantastic flying. She was able to distract them long enough so that I could get in close enough to take out the older one. I would have had the second, but she was very quick. I must have triggered her defenses, because I was thrown back and she blasted me with something that caused a flame to erupt out of nowhere. I’d probably have been burned pretty badly, but your glyph saved me again. The flame was deflected and fell to my left, only hitting my shoulder. By then, Maria had a clear shot and used one of the quick-switching gravity spells that Candice gave us. It worked brilliantly, not completely stunning her, but rattling her just long enough so that I could get in close enough to strike. It was beautiful.”

I glanced at her shoulder. Her padded uniform had been burned away and her blistering skin was exposed. “You should get that seen to right away, Petra. It looks like it hurts.”

She just laughed. “I can not feel anything right now. I am drunk with victory!” She raised her fist into the air and was met with a chorus of cheers. I noticed her glyph was communicating with the others, and a few moments later, there was a familiar flash. Above the girl’s head was something new yet again. The changes were perhaps more subtle than the last time it had updated, but there none the less.


By the end of the first day of combat games, each of us had endured three matches, but only one pair had been officially eliminated. Stacy Edmenton slumped with her partner Chris Cromwell after their third straight loss. Both looked tired and slightly freaked when I sat down with them. They had been one of the first pairs to use the glyph, and so got almost nothing from it for their first two matches. I started to apologize that I hadn’t been able to be of more help when Stacy stopped me.

“Miranda, it’s not your fault. Really. We never expected anything from these games in the first place, and frankly, we did a lot better than I thought we would, thanks to you, Michelle and Candice. We lost all our matches, yes, but we nearly won the last, and that was against Third-years. Next semester we’ll do better.” She saw my lopsided half grin and continued. “It’s like you said, someone had to be first, yes? So stop beating yourself up. Neither of us is Combat Track, so these games are mostly for honor anyway. And I have a feeling that just showing up as a First this year is going to mean a lot more than in the past.”

She was right, of course. It took guts to stand up to opponents with vastly more experience than you, especially when those opponents wanted nothing more in the world than to see you ridiculed and defeated.

I found Douglas sitting with a blank expression on his face, which was unusual for him. Like a lot of us, he was stunned and exhausted by the day’s events. Overall, our entire year had done remarkably well, but there was a toll none the less. Just the constant level of excitement that we had held for over eight hours straight was tiring. I took his hand and without a word urged him up from the bench. He looked up at me and smiled and then let me float us both “down” to the floor of the Great Hall. We walked in silence to his dorm room, which was thankfully empty. When I started undressing, he opened his mouth to stop me.

“Shh,” I interrupted. “Don’t worry. I know you can’t give me that now. You’re too weak. I just want to be snuggled by a live warm body.”

He sighed and nodded, smiling. Then, we helped each other out of our clothing and slipped under the soft covers. He spooned my body and was asleep almost at once. I, on the other hand had a bit of trouble letting go. I laid there, enjoying the comfort of his presence while I reflected on the day. No one, save for possibly Michelle, wanted to work on what we were going to do to improve for the next day’s battles, but I did find myself smiling at how well the glyph had worked. I was also a little surprised that it had done as well as it had. By all rights, it really should have been defeated easily. It wasn’t that I doubted my own skill, but I certainly expected that the higher grades would be better prepared. The fact that they weren’t led me to believe that something was seriously wrong in the way we were being educated. Either that, or previous years were relying far too heavily on physical attacks. Whatever the case, it made me nervous for some reason and it wasn’t until Douglas’ soft voice addressed me that I found I was gripping his arms hard enough to leave marks.

“Miranda, what is it?”

I hesitated, not really wanting to talk about it, and desperate to vent at the same time. “I… I’m scared.”

He sat up on one elbow behind me and stroked my hair. “Hey, that’s okay. It was a scary day.”

“I know. But it’s not the games that have me worried… not directly anyway.”

“Then what?”

I’m sure he felt me stiffen.


“Douglas, why are we here?”

He thought for a moment. “Well, I guess because my room was closer…”

I sighed. “I’m not talking about ‘here’ as in your dorm room, I mean ‘here’ as in the Academy.”

“I know…” he said, decisively not answering the question. I picked it up.

“We’re told that it’s to prepare us to be ambassadors of the fae to the rest of humanity.”

“But you think there’s another reason?”

I rolled over so that I could face him. “These combat games… Why are we doing them at all?”

He frowned. “Well, so that we’ll be ready should someone from the Unseelie Court challenge us, I suppose.” He knew it was a boxed answer. “We are at war with them you know.”

“No Douglas, ‘we’ are not. Not yet anyway. You and I are not officially members of the fae yet, and until we are, we are neutral. Once we sign on with Headmaster Brightly at graduation, we take on their politics.”

“You having second thoughts, love?”

I carefully chose my words. “What if we are like actors in a giant stage production, Douglas? We play our parts, act out our given roles… But the stakes are real, our actions affect our actual lives… and that of everyone else.”

“I… suppose it could be looked at that way. But how is that different than life outside the fae?”

“It’s different because we are blindly following a script that we haven’t even seen the ending of! We accept our role in the grand play because it’s exciting and wonderful and amazing. We never stop to consider if the play itself MEANS something.” I was starting to feel tears at the corners of my eyes. I wanted Douglas to understand what I was trying to say without saying it, so badly that it literally hurt. He sensed my discomfort and took my hands as he silently frowned.

“This war isn’t ours, Douglas. It’s been going on for hundreds, even thousands of years, and while I’m sure atrocities have been committed, we are about to sign away our lives as conscripts without even considering the whole point! And if my Telling is to be believed, the two biggest bullies on the block are spitting and calling each other names while an even bigger bully is about to stomp them both flat! What should I believe? You’re the historian. Aren’t you trained to look at events objectively?”

He brightened a little as I moved into a line of reasoning he understood.

“Well sure. But we are also trained to recognize that there’s no such thing as an unbiased observation. Everything we encounter is going to be shaped by our own perceptions and experiences. The trick as an historian is acknowledging this so that you can filter things… or not, appropriately… as best you can.”

“And what does that trick tell you of what you have read in our own library?”

I noticed he took a bit of time answering.

Tilting his head slightly to the side he said conservatively, “That historians can be… fallible.”

“Or persuaded, or bought, deceived, coerced, or even censored by those above them in both rank and time. I’ve no doubt that Nix would die protecting her books, but she’s old, Douglas. Very old, even by fae standards. More than almost any other entity at this academy, she’s seen the cost the war with the Unseelie Court has wrought. She’s been through several of them. I’ve no doubt that she’s lost friends and colleagues to those wars, and may have even fought in several herself. And to make matters worse, there are no original human fae still around. The Tuatha were wiped out completely, leaving only the two warring courts to see to things. Now we’re back, but we’re being trained by those very same fae who have been fighting nonstop for millennia.”

My lover looked visibly distressed, as though my words had hit a lot deeper than he expected. I squeezed his hands slightly as I took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“That’s why I’m scared. We’re making a major, life changing decision based on only one perspective. In a few days, the games will be over and we will be faced with a choice. Enter into the fae and pledge allegiance to the Seelie Court and that one perspective, or go back to being just an average human and discard everything we have learned here in the last three months. I don’t know about you, but I’m not the same person I was when I came here. I don’t think I could go back. It would destroy me.”

“Well, technically, I think they remove all memory…”

“Do you believe your life resides only in a collection of a few billion neurons, Douglas? What about your soul? The very flesh that holds you together? Can they change those too? They might be able to take away the memories, but you’d know… You’d know that something wasn’t right. For the rest of your days something would be missing. I couldn’t live with that.”

“What are you going to do,” he asked quietly after a while of silence.

“What can I do? My part in the play has already been cast. There’s no understudy, only consequence.”

“Have you talked to anyone else about this?”

“Who would I talk to? Ananha? The Headmaster? They’re a little biased.”

He frowned as though thinking deeply. “Professor Poppins told me once, that one of the best ways to weed out bias is to look where you know its thickest. We only miss a bad edit because we have nothing to compare it to.”

I considered this. “Nothing to compare it to…” I said under my breath as an idea formed.

“Uh-oh… I know that look,” said Douglas grimacing. “And it usually means trouble.”

I realized I had almost tranced-out in my sudden focus and I smiled and brought my face to his. His lips were soft and welcoming as he returned my somewhat energetic kiss. When we finally broke apart he was wearing an almost stunned expression.

“Whew! What made you so happy all of the sudden?”

“You!” I exclaimed, nearly giddy. “I still don’t have a solution, but at least now I have a course of action. If I can DO something I don’t feel so trapped. I’m actually excited!”

“I can tell,” he said smoothly as he stared down at my chest.

My mouth fell open. “You can, can you? Is it that highly developed observational skill as an Historian,” I teased, my legs snaking around his hips.

“Indeed,” he quipped. “But to be certain I’m not biased, I should do more research…” His hands reached out and found my belly. One reached around my waist and urged my body closer, the other slipped down into my lap and right through my already slick petals.

“Ummm… are you f-f-finding what you n-need?” I asked, my body quickly reacting to his loving touch at my center. Suddenly, his fingers slipped away and I moaned in frustration, my legs clutching at him in an effort to increase our contact.

“More like what you need, I think. I believe I shall have to delve deeper…” At his final word his fingers, which had been brushing tantalizingly at my Mons, reached in and opened me just as his hips came forward and his manhood slid languidly inside.

“UGHNmmmm!!!” I groaned in wonderful bliss, shaking slightly until he had settled deep within me. “Oh god, Douglas….”

“In fact,” he said, slightly losing his own concentration. “I think I shall have to make a very deep… and thorough… investigation.” He timed his words to the slow thrusting of his hips and I was spinning into ecstasy. It actually surprised me how fast we both came, and I found myself literally crying out in orgasm in only a few more deep strokes. Normally I can control my passion a bit more, but something about our intimacy at that moment was just too good to ignore, and I had no desire to hold back. I wanted to come. I wanted to have orgasm after orgasm with Douglas until we were both completely worn out and beyond caring about anything else in the world. And to my complete satisfaction, Douglas was happy to oblige.

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