I implore you to come and join me. Bring troops, bring yourself. Do not leave your realm undefended, but sway Lord Jareth if you can (though I suspect that is not to be from my intelligences). I have need of you in these hard times. I have need of your guidance and your faith.
I read the missive from Nuada’s own hand, sealed with his seal over and over again. I caressed each written word with a gentle forefinger, a stab of excitement reverberated through my chest. There was no time to lose. I sent the Commanders of my armies to assemble the troops that we did have. Nuada, needed my help. I could not refuse, but without the assistance from Jareth and his Goblin troops, the cause would be lost. Surely he would not cede them to me, I thought, until I agreed to his terms. With that in mind I took pen in hand and wrote out a note to the Goblin King in my own hand. When I had finished I handed it to Kazim, the Lord of my Treasury.
“You are to make certain that our Island stands. I am entrusting the treasury to your wisdom,” I said handing him the document with my freshly set seal upon it, “see that the armies of his Majesty are well compensated. However, there is more than just gold that must be safeguarded Kazim.”
Kazim bowed deeply at the waist, his black skin reflecting in the low light of my chamber. “I understand, my Lady. Trust that we will keep the portals as well as your personal effects safe. Are you sure that you would not rather that I send at least some of it to another place for safekeeping?” Trepidation was etched both in his face but he managed to keep it out of his voice.
“That will not be necessary,” I said shaking my head, “I have faith in both you and Jareth. And even if I have to put myself on the line, Kazim, we cannot afford to lose this war. Nuada has sent for me and I must go.”
Nodding, Kazim took the parchment and put it into the folds of his richly brocaded robes. “Rest assured that it will get to his Majesty King Jareth by nightfall. Captain Necho has said your armour and your horse is ready, Lady. May the Goddess Speed your progress and may our enemies be defeated.” He bowed and backed toward the door, making certain that he did not turn his back on me. I was never sure if my treasurer and advisor did these things out of fear or true respect.
I knew that Jareth would take my acquiescence to his request as no less than a total victory. By the next morning, I had received return word. Goblin troops would be dispatched immediately to France, where they would join with my troops and both the banners of the Goblin King and that of the Fortunate Island would fly side by side to aid the Sidhe armies of Nuada. It was there that I would get to see Him again. I only prayed that the aid and I could reach Nuada in time.
My scouts had told me where Nuada was and where he probably would be. In all of this they also kept me appraised of Jareth’s reaction to my answer. He was of course pleased of my agreeing to his demands, but not at all pleased that I had gone to aid King Nuada. I couldn’t think about how to placate him now, the only thing I was concerned with was winning this war. It was Nuada’s safety that I was more concerned about rather than my own. If there was one thing that I knew, it was the fact that Nuada’s vision would save the Seelie and Unseelie as well as the Human existence. Itet and his ilk could not simply because he refused to see the interdependency of the Fae and humans in order for either side to continue to survive.
We rode for through the woods, going deeper and deeper, until forest surrounded me my troops in all directions. When I pulled my horse up, Captain Necho, who had been riding several lengths behind me spurred up to my side.
“If we keep at this pace we will never reach Calais and be able to meet Nuada in time,” I said not looking at Captain Necho.
“There is no other way that is not covered by those loyal Prince Itet,” Necho said, “ and to be completely honest, Lady Faelyn, I am somewhat surprised we have had no interaction with any of them thus far. Our luck will most probably not hold out, and then that would mean further delays.”
I nodded and pat the neck of my horse who was shifting nervously beneath me. I did not want to think of any such skirmishes delaying us, or worse, keeping us from meeting the Seelie King. I was left with one choice, one that I had hoped that I would not be forced to use, but under the circumstances I saw no other way. To be able to cut a doorway between places, between planes of existence, was something that was the ultimate test of skill on the Fortunate Island. I could always do it well enough to get myself and a few others through, but it would be more difficult with the sheer number of troops that we had with us.
“Then we will have to shorten the amount of travel time,” I said at last.
“You mean…” Necho’s voice sounded shocked but perhaps even edged with gratitude, “my Lady, can you hold open the doorway long enough for our troops to pass? You/ve not done anything like that before.”
“No. But we have no choice other than to try,” I said looking at him directly, “You said it yourself, we have no time to waste and this will insure that we are there in the shortest amount of time possible.”
Necho nodded, “I’ll move everyone back, my Lady.” Captain Necho turned his horse sharply and called the order to move back.
I dismounted from my own horse, and drew my Sidhe blade. The sliver and ivory blade glistened in the moonlight. I dropped the reins of my horse, moved forward three additional steps and stopped. Taking a deep breath I closed my eyes and shifted my awareness inward, to a single point, a desired outcome and then focused on Nuada, the exact location where he was. My mind reached out, found him, encircled around his essence and with a sweeping motion upward and then downward once more. First there was a prism of light, that shown lambent, almost blinding in its radiance. The point of light followed the trail of my blade and with another bright flash opened wider. On the other side of the portal was the landscape of Calais. There among his own troops stood none other than Nuada himself.
All I could hear behind me were the gasps of the troops behind me and the call of Captain Necho, “Quickly! To the other side!”
My warriors and the assembled poured through the portal after me. Each of them running as if for their very lives, and in fact, when facing Itet, we were! The aperture of the doorway began to close even as we moved through. Nuada and his warriors rushed forward, after the call of the first alarm. Those troops of Nuada’s were assisting my own, grabbing and pulling them forward as more and more of them were made their way through the ever-tightening portal.
On the other side of the opening, I heard King Nuada roar as he sent up his own answering surge of power so that the portal might be widened and held open allowing our troops to pass into the place where Nuada and his troops awaited us. At last, all but half a dozen had been able to make it through, but at the last the doorway snapped shut with a sickening and reverberating slam. The screams of the dying, for those last half dozen who were halfway through when the portal shut down completely could be heard. One Elf was rendered cleanly in two by his middle; another lost his head, and yet another his arm. There was the sudden stench of fear and blood that sent the horses and Fae steeds rearing and bucking. General chaos reigned for several moments until Nuada at last shouted out orders to both his troops and my own.
I was exhausted from opening up the portal. Would that I could have held the energy so that everyone could have made it through, but alas, there was the inevitable losses as always came in time of war. I would have to notify their families at the end of it all, and tell them of the brave sacrifice that their loved ones had made. With a great exhale, I stumbled forward, re-sheathing my blade. Just as my knees were giving way, King Nuada came forward to catch me in his arms.
As he caught me, my gaze flew up into his face, searching his eyes. Those were the eyes that I remembered from the Seelie city of Gorias, the eyes that looked into mine as we parted ways on the road. They had haunted me the entire time that we were apart and now I was looking into them again. He led me back toward the tents that were being taken down.
“Leave it be for a few minutes, and then let Lady Faelyn and I be alone for a few moments,” Nuada ordered. The men bowed and left their tools and everything there. He pushed aside the tent flap himself and urged me inside, following so closely behind I could feel his warmth. When the flap was closed he drew me once again into his arms.
“You came. Blessed be,” he said, softly pushing back the hood of my cloak so that he could look at me fully, “I am sorry for the warriors you lost,” his face was a little sad, “ but the cost was small for the speed, Lady. It was well done. We must away to Dover soon.”
I looked up at him and nodded, struggling to find my voice as we were so close, I could scarcely believe it. “When I received your letter, I knew I had to come, “ I said gently, “I managed to get Jareth to agree to sending troops. I think even he could not argue with the dire nature of this struggle.”
But it was at that moment that I remembered just how I had managed to get the necessary troops and how I had gotten Jareth to agree to safeguard my kingdom. I let my eyes go down for a moment in an effort to blink back the shame. But they could not linger there, for Nuada placed his fingers beneath my chin to raise my gaze to his.
“Theo only thing that matters, Lady,” he said, “ is that you came.”
As it turned out, in my haste to aid Nuada, I had been essentially driven from my homeland. The battle eventually was won but the night that followed day, all tidings from the war were grim. The news had not all gone the way of the Seelie host and Prince Itet had escaped with his guard of about three hundred and other divisions had disappeared to the eastern side of the Fortunate Isle. This part of the Island was where the terrain was wilder, so it was not a complete victor forus.What was worse is that Itet and his men had lain my palace in ruins, each room contaminated by unspeakable acts, by the blood of my ladies confidants and friends.
“I can no longer stay here, Majesty.” I said my voice trembled with rage but somehow I managed to keep myself under control even though Nuada had to know that it took every ounce of that control not to break down.
“Yes, the entire place – the Palace, the Temples – all must be razed ground and you must sanctify new ground. Itet has violated not only the Holy Isle, but you as well.”
We embraced, sharing a sorrow that none who are not Sidhe could ever truly know the depths of.
Later by the light of torches King Nuada brought me out onto a balcony beside him to address our collective battle- weary troops. In the distance bonfires burned, fuelled by the bodies of the Sidhe dead.
“It has not escaped my notice that many of you have been angered by my lack of fidelity to the memory of my wife, Queen Aisling,” Nuada cried, however, I bring before you tonight the Lady Faelyn and I tell you now of the bond between us.”
“Prince Itet, his name is a blight even among the dissipated annals of the Unseelie Court, not only murdered my Queen, but used the hand of our daughter to enact the foul and bloody deed. He took from me all that I held most dear in this world in the waning of my life. He has done the same to the Lady Faelyn. He had turned her allies against her, attempted to steal her lands, and in so doing has violated some of the most sacred sanctuaries of all Sidhe. He knows no honour. He breaks promises. The blood that he has spilled here and the deeds that he has committed make him viler and more dangerous than any enemy we have ever fought before. ” his voice rang out over the assembly and echoed against the walls of the limestone cliffs in the distance.
“Tomorrow.” he continued, ” we raze this place and spells will be cast to cleanse and seal it. Because of the defilement by Itet, let it be remembered now as a dark tomb for those things that have lost and the lives that have been shed here.”
I do confess, the thought of razing the ancient and sacred Temples and the palace of my beloved Fortunate Island filled me with grief and trepidation. No one who had witnessed what happened on that day would ever forget what they had seen. Neither will any of us who saw those things on that day dare to describe them. Some things are not meant to be recounted, not even in the interests of trying to right a wrong. So much of our history would be turned under along with the blood of friends and loved ones whose essence had been used to help desecrate beyond repair those hallowed halls. We were Fae and more specifically the Sidhe. We would rebuild them with the hands of the finest Fae and human artisans. But before any of that could happen, we still had an enemy on our shores and dislodging them would be a precarious endevor. What hit my heart more than anything is that there were no safe walls within the capital city.
Desperate faces sought reassurance from me, their Queen, and perhaps maybe to be given some explanation as to how any of this could possibly have happened. Had Jareth, the Goblin King, not been our ally? How could we have been made so vulnerable to the atrocities heaped upon them? But beyond that there was the eternal question found in those eyes; ‘Where were you then, my lady Queen? Why were you not here to protect us?’ I knew that I should have been there with them. But would theif fate have been lessened had I done so? Would we not now also be bearing the chains of slavery or our collective necks beneath the boot of Prince Itet? All of it left me weary and no less horrified at what had happened, We had won this battle, but the war was far from over. Never was I more self-conscious and ashamed of my Unseelie blood as I was now. These were the acts that made we born of the darkness into the creatures of nightmares. Was this also what I was? Was it only my human blood that kept me from such acts of brutality and wretchedness? I could not believe it was true. Prince Itet’s own mother, though far from a benevolent creature was nothing like her son, Itet. Where was she now? Why had the balance among the Sidhe been so upset?
I blinked back the tears of frustration when I felt the hand of my general secretary, Hafiz touch me on my arm. “We must not let you and King Nuada and our generals pass the night in tents. We cannot take the chance with Itet’s allies so close,” he said.
“What do you propose, Hafiz?” I asked bitterly, “ There is no place within the city that is accessible or that can adequately house what is left of our household and troops. All of us are vulnerable until we rid our lands of this scourge.”
“No, there is nowhere inside the City, my lady,” he replied, “But there is the Castle of the Winds within our mountains. Any approach attempted by Itet’s troops and allies would be seen well before their arrival, it is a fortress against any attack and there is ample room for both yours and King Nuada’s entourages and collective households. Only a minimum of troops need to defend it.”
“The rest can be left here to both divert and defend,” I mouthed absently. The plan was ingenious.
“If you travel under nightfall,” Hafiz continued elaborately, speaking with his hands, “we would -“
“If we travel under nightfall, we risk the Queen of Air and Darkness, Annwyn, Prince Itet’s mother learning of it before we even leave the confines of the City,” King Nuada interrupted, coming up behind me, placing a warm and reassuring hand at the small of my back, “and Itet would learn far too quickly of our departure and perhaps any of our other plans.”
Hafiz bowed his head in acknowledgement to King Nuada, “I had not considered that, Majesty, and you are correct,” he raised his eyes and looked directly at Nuada and then at me, “the longer we tarry, the more entrenched Itet’s allies will become and the more vulnerable we are. We must start sending our people to the Castle of the Winds as soon as possible.”
“See to it at once,” I nodded to my friend and privy council member, “We will begin our journey within the hour. But do so discreetly. We do not want there to be panic among the people of the city so that we have a mass migration. That, too, will alert Itet’s allies. They feed on fear and conflict.”
With an inclination of acknowledgement to myself and then to Nuada for the orders he had been entrusted with, Hafiz made his exit, his silken robes rustling and billowing in his wake. When he had gone I turned to Nuada, wrapping my arms around him and placing my head against his chest. He still wore the chainmail that he had been wearing beneath his armour, the rough surface pressed against my cheekbone uncomfortably, but I needed his closeness. I felt his arms wrap round me and I felt borne up.
“Do you think that the people understand why we have sought each other in all this, my love?” I asked. I felt such deep sorrow for the loss of Nuada’s queen and for the betrayal of his daughter, but surely we had not been wrong in seeking strength and protection in each other.”
“I think now that we are here to stand beside them, they will understand more than when we were not,” he kissed the top of my head gently, “Itet did not manage to slaughter or steal all of your Fae steeds. There are a few left. We will need to get to the Castle of the Winds before nightfall if we can, but certainly as soon as possible. From there we can plan how to drive out the rest of Itet’s troops and avenge ourselves upon him.”
Muse: Fanny Fae / Faelyn
Fandom: Original Character / Folklore / Mythology
Word Count: 3395