Three Twisted Knots

Not all those who wander are lost.

I followed voices and saw Gabrielle lying there as if dead.

I followed voices and saw Gabrielle lying there as if dead.

I was walking down toward the bridge, looking for Aoibheann and Nathaniel, when I heard voices. One of them sounded like Rachel, so I followed them to see what happened. And there I found Gabrielle, lying on the ground as if dead. Bella was there, and another demi-fae, and Rachel and Astrid, and some new guy I didn’t know who turned out to be an elf called Tristan. Anyway, it looked like Bella and Astrid were trying to revive Gabrielle, which is what you would expect to be happening. Tristan was just sort of standing there. Oh, yeah; the other demifae’s name was Bunny, I found out later. Gabrielle started coming around, and Rachel warned everybody to keep back. Rachel knows a lot about vampires, because she used to be one, of course, so everybody listened to her except Tristan, who looked at her as if she was a bit insane and didn’t move a muscle. Astrid and I actually went into the lake!

When Gabrielle woke up, she flew at Tristan and attacked him. I’ve never seen anything like it. She was just singlemindedly bent on his destruction; all she cared about was feeding on something, anything. Bunny offered her own wrist, but Gabrielle couldn’t see, because she was busy fighting Tristan. Tristan is apparently some kind of Viking, because he not only held her off, he got her down on the ground and was planning on killing her, I think — and who could blame him, I guess; she did attack him. Of course, he also totally ignored Rachel’s warning, which probably meant he deserved to be attacked. Whatever the reasons, Bunny offered him a wish, Rachel offered to die in Gabrielle’s place if somebody had to die, but Astrid walked up behind him, put her hand on his shoulder and said something; she asked him not to be violent — and he just stopped. By this time, Bunny had actually slit her wrist, so Gabrielle just walked over and started sucking.

It was so shocking, the whole thing. I’ve never seen Nathaniel feed. I suddenly realised that, at that moment. For a few seconds, I was afraid of him. Of course he’d never do anything like that to me. I know he wouldn’t.

"Right," I said. "Who wants a drink?" And so we all ended up at the pub, just like people should end up after any kind of a crisis.

“Right,” I said. “Who wants a drink?” And so we all ended up at the pub, just like people should after any kind of a crisis.

“Right,” I said. “Who wants a drink?” And so we all ended up at the pub in the village, just like people should after any kind of crisis. Nathaniel was there; he was very interested to have a chat with Astrid, so I let them talk while I circulated. Gabrielle and Rachel stood outside a while with Nadya, that vampire who used to live in a gypsy caravan outside the Castle Shithole tavern, and then she came inside and made an announcement: somebody had stolen something from her, some vial of ancient blood or something. Malkovian? I didn’t have any clue what she was talking about, but I’m afraid of Nadya, so I didn’t say anything or ask any questions.

Nadya made an announcement.

Nadya made an announcement.

Despite the fact she was having a nice time catching up with Nathaniel, Astrid left because she was feeling hassled, and I saw no more of her ’til later that evening.

When the pub crowd thinned out, I talked to Nathaniel for a while. He said he’d never frenzied, which is what Gabrielle had done. But he said if it ever looked like he was about to — not that I have any idea what that looks like — I was to run away as fast as I could, because no matter how much he loved me, I would just be a meal to him.  Lately, he’s been slipping telling me he loves me into conversation, so I just took his hands and told him I loved him too. And I do. Even if he didn’t have the best hair ever, and the most beautiful eyes, and the loveliest muscles in his arms, even if he actually was scrawny like Aoibheann says, I would still love him. It’s his mind, his knowledge, the fact that he gets my jokes. We went off to the cabin he’s been staying in and spent some quality time together, and that should have been the end of the evening, but I didn’t feel comfortable sleeping in the village. I left him sleeping and headed back to the sithen.

I looked down the hill to see a campfire.

I looked down the hill to see a campfire.

Down the slope from the trail that leads up to the sithen entrance, there is a lovely pond; I know it and I’ve walked that area before. I was surprised to see a campfire down the hill as I walked back to the sithen, and I heard a very familiar voice, so I made my way down the hill to find the Prince, Aoibheann, and Astrid enjoying a chat around a campfire. The Prince seemed disproportionately worried that we were all out wandering the woods in the dark; he typically also made some remark about how he drew women to himself. Then he told Aoibheann that he would not be deflowering her that night (?!) and apologised to her. I just gaped; the gods know what he’d been telling her up to the point Astrid arrived with a dose of common sense and civility. I know most fae don’t think much of humans, so I figured he was having a little fun with a poor lost human– and if the lost human happens to be my best friend, I get angry. So I just started throwing questions at him to distract him from her, questions about sithen security and stuff, so that he’d feel all important for being asked. Aoibheann blurted out something I didn’t know: she’d made a deal with the Huntsman and had to answer any question he asked her truthfully, so it wasn’t a good idea to discuss sithen security in front of her. Oh, great. I could feel the Prince glaring at me.

Gods know what he was doing to Aoibheann before Astrid arrived.

Gods know what he was doing to Aoibheann before Astrid arrived.

Astrid noticed Ingrid from about halfway up the slope. Ingrid said something was wrong and she was scared; then all of a sudden we felt something that was physically like an earthquake. Mentally and magically it was — horrible, like some terrible disease seeping across everything. The Prince made a portal and sent us all through into the sithen, even Aoibheann because he isn’t such an asshole that he’d leave an innocent outside to contend with whatever evil can send earthquakes to Faerie.

We all went through the portal into the sithen, even Aoibheann.

We all went through the portal into the sithen, even Aoibheann.

So we all landed in the sithen, even Aoibheann, and the Prince followed a few minutes later. Nobody had any idea what we were meant to be doing, so we all just stood there by the fountain, watching the chaos around us. I think Ingrid was worried about her father, who is apparently staying in the village somewhere, though I’ve never met the gentleman. If I had a father I’d be worried about him too. I was worried about Nathaniel, as well. But I know Nathaniel is strong and can take care of himself. I also knew the Prince would never send anyone into a village to retrieve a peacefully sleeping vampire in order to bring him back to certain safety in the seelie sithen. Though I think I’m beginning to realise that any of us who live here might get that sort of treatment from him. Weird and weirder.

The Prince said Aoibheann would have to accept a curse in order to stay.

The Prince said Aoibheann would have to accept a curse in order to stay.

Then the Prince came to talk to Aoibheann about the conditions of her staying at the sithen, and we both made it very clear I didn’t know anything about this promise she’d made to the Huntsman. Even still, the Prince said, the Huntsman was an immensely powerful being of legendary strength and incalculable magic, and he didn’t feel comfortable letting Aoibheann stay unless she agreed to be struck blind and deaf for the remainder of her visit. I protested, of course, explaining that she’d been through enough already, but he stuck to his guns, offering only alternatives that were a thousand times worse — and Aoibheann agreed, so it was done. He helped us create a mind-link so we could converse while she was handicapped, and then we went to bed. I felt sad because I was looking forward to showing Aoibheann my room — but at the same time, I was very glad she was there. At least for once, I knew she’d be perfectly safe, because what would ever think of hurting her in the sithen?

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