Always, lately, I seem to go where I am called. There is a voice in my head. There is a fire, a vision, impossible to ignore, and after only one night’s peaceful (for some value of peaceful) repose with Nathaniel in the still somewhat calm sanctuary that is now my sithen, I knew I had to go back to Mysthaven once again. When I woke, Nathaniel had already left, probably out politicking on behalf of the village again. His advocacy will save them, I know.
Lucis, the fae waif Father and I saved so many months ago, was squared off against Alec. Aoibheann was demanding Alec apologise to her for something. Alec threatened her with his usual vague suggestions of terrors beyond her imagining (only now I believe those threats are real). I couldn’t help it: I snapped. I told them all to shut up and grow up, and amidst Lucis’ protestations that she hadn’t done anything and Aoibheann’s still simmering anger over Alec insulting Ardan, I think they listened.
Alec said he needed to talk to me about the Huntsman and the growing instability of the realm of Ashmourne. It is so hard to explain in plain words what he meant, but I understood it, most of it, anyway. He is worried for the souls he keeps, and he wants to put them somewhere else for safekeeping. He knows Aoibheann will stay with Ardan. He seems so disappointed that she’s given herself to the Huntsman, and in a way I am too. I wanted her to find love that would love her back, not consume her like a match head.
Alec explained that he wanted to give some of his essence to Nathaniel. Of course I do not know what Nathaniel will say to this: they were on bad terms when last they spoke. He said this essence would help Nathaniel move through realms in the way that he, Alec, did. He suggested a similar gift for me, though because of my nature I will need to be bound to a goddess. Isabella. In that moment, all I could think of was how joyful I’d felt when Prince Blaise adopted me, how I felt I’d finally come home. And now I am losing my home once again it would seem: Alec does not think Ashmourne will survive as it is much longer, and I know my fae are disappearing rapidly, though I have told very few people about their resolute march to the marron tree to reunite with Queen Saone in the other realms. For the first time, I spoke of Father in the past tense. Something in my heart tells me I will not see him again, although I have been wrong before. I know that somewhere out there I have a mother, and I will find her, if in the end it’s only to try and understand what has made me the way I am. A father too, though I was willing to trade him for my tempestuous Prince who taught me so much and never wanted to hurt me and went away anyway. I have told people he was called back home. The truth is, he just disappeared like so many others. Lady Siansa. Lady Renata. Lady Astrid. Ingrid.
But this kind of remembrance will only make me depressed. Lucis flew away from our conversation; I think she sensed she was somehow overhearing secrets. Alec and Aoibheann finally embraced, though I think their relationship will never be the same again. He produced the box she used to keep under the bar at the Lucky Leaf, and she cried like a child. I remember how protective she was of that box.
And then, as every father figure seems to, he just disappeared. He said he wouldn’t disappear from our lives, but it felt like an ending.
Just after Alec disappeared, we heard Nathaniel calling for tea, and I remembered I’d promised Aoibheann a drink — not that she was interested; that box took all her attention.
She did suggest that there might be a reason for the Huntsman besieging the sithen: perhaps he just wanted to get in. The Huntsman, of course, was once or may still be our King. She wondered if I might be willing to talk to the Huntsman if she could persuade him not to attack.
That, I had to think about. I have known, sort of vaguely, for a time now that I am the closest thing the seelie have to an authority figure at this point; I’ve wondered if that’s why so many of them are walking into the tree, to be honest. But Aoibh, approaching me as a leader and asking me if I would open the sithen to the Huntsman if he could agree to be civil? My stomach dropped. I promised I’d be back as soon as I’d had a chance to discuss the situation with other seelie, but I know what they will say. If I allow him entrance, it’ll be my decision, and my head on the block, so to speak.
And of course there is the matter of Faermorn, drawn here from the memory of when she attended Saone’s funeral celebration at our sithen.
I feel so small.