Caoimhe's Da sipped from his cuppa and then leaned forward so that he could lower the volume of his voice without his daughters having to strain to hear him.
The Sorceress faced the mime from deep within her cowl and caused her voice to echo around the Hall.
"You ask for the tale of why I seek these stories - very well.
I currently reside in a village of flux, where the veil is thin and those of the other places come forth and walk among us for their entertainment and our misery. Only at the Hill do I ever see a variety as great - but even there I have not seen what has come recently.
They are out.
The six I seek - the nightmares of nightmares - they prowl our streets.
Their pages in the book are empty and only in your sharing of their tales do records of them now exist. What you put on your pages are the only writings that hold even a whisper of them.
I seek to learn their tales to learn their weaknesses.
I seek to put your nightmares back in their prison and only in their tales from you will I find the keys to lock them away again."
It was not the longest of tales.
As stories went, the narrative was weak. There was no beginning, no mention of how it had happened, no hero, no grand quest recounted and no true end - and yet, every fae in the hall was effected.
The mime, who wasn't wearing makeup, suddenly looked as though he had decided to become a white face.
The brownies were shaking in unison.
The Rus' legs were drawing upward into his seat as though he was fighting the instinct to find the comfort an infant's positioning.
"Lantern Bearer..... do you swear the tale you tell is true?" asked the sluagh mime.
The Sorceress stood as straight as an old woman could.
"On the bodies of my family burned by the Cromwell, on the unbroken oaths my father swore upon the tomb, on the chaos of the Birthing Plauge, on the ghost of my rage that never was, on both the love and the hate I hold for my last living brother, on the silence of my secrets and on the discord of my madness - I do so swear."
"Oooooo... good oath!" whispered Caoimhe, entirely impressed and enraptured.
"The Sorceress reached over and cut her thumb on Dúnmharú's tooth and bled three drops of her blood onto the floor made of darkness.
"Should I prove false in this oath, may all my crimes come to light so that I may be rightly punished for my transgressions against humanity and all those who prey upon them."
Dúnmharú gaped at her - stunned by both what she swore on and what forfeit she named for herself.
The mime, still pale and still shaking, stood and came down the steps to sniff at her. After inhaling deeply, he staggered back looking even paler. This time, the tentacles of fear that thrashed around him were clearly not under his control.
"Her secret crimes have not risen to be judged - she speaks the truth."
One brownie started to sob and the tears appeared in the eyes of the other."
Moira shivered, effected by the reactions of the fae in the story and scooted closer to her big sister for comfort.
"The veiled woman at the end of the dais stood and walked with silent steps to stand in front of the Rus. No, it wasn't silence - it was the opposite of noise. Her heeled shoes hit the darkness floor and ...-un-clicked? with each step - sucking the sound that should have been there up into itself again.
It hurt the Sorceress' head and made the ever present hum of magic in her mind screech backwards in self preservation.
The fae woman seemed to smile, or rather, there was the essence of a smile that came from her even though the veil obscured her face utterly.
"There is but one story left O'Morgair. And your tale of need has touched me. I shall not keep it from you. It is yours - no need for tricks or contests from me. But my price is non-negotiable. Will you hear it?"
The Sorceress winced at the beauty of the voice that drifted across the orchid and lily scented breeze that had not been there until the breath of the aos sí had hit the air. By the second sentence, the Sorceress' ears were bleeding from the pain of the beauty of the sound. The Sorceress curtsied to the aos sí despite her best efforts not to. "I will hear your price oh Queen of Beauty." Her own mind balked at the rank and title that came out of her mouth without her knowledge.
"I would have the story of how you came to accept the position of Lantern Bearer; I would have you give me a pleasant surprise of beauty that I do not expect, and I would have you give a gift to my court without showing favor between either of the two courts.
I will accept in substitution for any one part of this price should you fail to deliver - your true name."
Both Caoimhe and Moira gasped and reared back at the mention of giving a fae a true name and both their Da and Ma nodded in approval of their fearful reaction.
"The Sorceress sucked in a bit of air - both from the excruciating beauty of the honey flowered voice that traveled to her blood pumping ears on breathy winds of jasmine scented ocean breeze.... but also at the substitution price. It meant that if she chose to try and pay the price - and failed in any step, the Queen would have power over her very soul... forever - for that is what an aos síof her power would do with a true name.
It was likely, the biggest gamble of her life.
"Do you require the price in the order listed?" she asked
The aos sí considered..... "No. You may pay in what order you please."
Dúnmharú' put his hand on the Sorceress' arm and tried to warn her against accepting. She pulled away to kneel with great effort at the feet of the Queen.
"I accept your price, oh Queen of Beauty."
As she rose, the Sorceress finally pushed down the hood of her cloak and stood fully upright- revealing her hidden beauty for all to see. Her eyes glowed from within with forbidden magic to highlight her fire colored locks tipped with the silver of willow leaves. She was young, and beautiful, and the illusion of age that she had been maintaining melted away to reveal a beauty that was likely unrivaled outside of Underhill.
The veiled Queen gave the tiniest nod of her head.
"I am pleasantly surprised to find that you are lovelier than you masqueraded." she acquiesced. "The first part of the price is paid."
The Sorceress noticed that all the others on the dais were staring at her in surprise as well - and so she acted quickly and on instinct while their guards were down.
"A tribute then to your court of seilie then - "
She lashed out with the power of her magic at the stunned mime. Her spell of madness caused him to crumble into a blubbering ball of wordless whispers.
She lashed out with the spell again at the Violet Lady who began to arch and thrash as her own mind turned on her.
The Rus began to smirk with victory as he read the pattern of attacks.
The Sorceress smirked back at him.... and then lashed out at the seilie brownie instead of the unseilie.
She felt the threads of the madness take hold of her target, saw the brownie's eyes widen..... and then saw her unseilie sister on the other side of the dais fall to the floor in a mouth frothing fit of lunacy.
"Your rivals your Majesty, moon struck all - but without showing favor between the two courts, for I attacked members of both."
Again, the veiled woman gave the smallest of nods.
"And shall it be your story, or your name.... Miss O'Morgair?"
"You may have learned the name of my family Majesty, but even your beautiful and dulcet tones shall not call from me my true name.
To you, and you alone will I impart the tale of how I became the Lantern Bearer - may I reach into your mind to do so?"
The sidhe's eyebrows raised... or rather, she somehow gave off the impression of raising her brows behind the veil that could not be seen through.
"A woman of hidden talents. Human you are not."
"Human I never claimed to be for it is something I have never been, your Majesty."
The Rus looked betrayed at the news, but looked more deeply betrayed when the Queen nodded her approval.
The room was silent for a good few minutes as the Sorceress told the Queen the tale that included things that could not be spoken aloud. The Rus watched the two of them with a sneer of disgust, still angry at having been outsmarted and now further angered by being left out of the hearing of the tale. His anger became palpable when the veiled Queen nodded and pulled from her face the veil.
The Sorceress looked away just in time - but Dúnmharú' cried out in agony as his eyes exploded out of his sockets in reaction to the unearthly beauty he looked upon when he saw the Queen's face.
The steps of anti-sound came down the steps and offered the veil to the Sorceress. Upon the back were the words of the story woven into the lace lining of the veil.
The Sorceress shuddered as she accepted the last tale - for the implication was that the Queen had known what was sought for so long that she'd had time to have the lace woven. Either that, or she kept the tale of a nightmare of nightmares woven on the inside of her veil to help mute the terror of her beauty. Either option was terrifying.
The Sorceress did not raise her head to look up until the cacophony triggering footsteps were far enough away that she could again hear the other noises of the room. When the Queen sat, the Sorceress curtsied to the dais and turned to leave."
1 post • Page 1 of 1