I couldn’t stand the thought of not seeing Aoibheann and Nathaniel, so probably foolishly, I travelled back to Ashmourne the next day. I spent some time in the Seelie sithen, bathing and recharging my energy, but I kept being called by this vision of the Unseelie forest. I packed a dress for Aoibheann that I hoped she’d love and started walking.
Eventually, I ended up on the bridge, pacing.
I just couldn’t shake it, the feeling that whatever was out there in the forest was watching me, somehow. But the forest in my vision was darker, much darker than I remembered the Unseelie Forest as having been.
I was so distracted I didn’t even notice Aoibh in the tree.
I don’t know how long she’d been on the ground, watching me. Finally, she called my name. She said I looked taller.
I guess spending time in more modern times has affected me somewhat: I had to explain to her that I was wearing heels. She said I looked regal, which sounded like an insult, but I just let it pass over me: I don’t think Aoibheann means to insult when she says things like that. I think she is just stating something.
I told her that I’d brought her something from the sithen, “Not apples,” I promised.
She invited me to have a seat with her in Ardan’s shadow, so we settled down to talk. I told her about my vision, and we pored over the details. In my mind, I had decided the vision was of the Huntsman, but Aoibh reminded me that his eyes are red and not blue. Oh, no. Oh, no. This vision, it would seem, was of the Unseelie King, Gwythyr.
It wasn’t yet dark, so I felt we were at least a little safe. We toyed, for a few minutes, with the idea of actually going into the forest and looking for him, to confront him and find out why he was shadowing me (no pun intended) so. I said we weren’t dressed for it.
Ket’lyn appeared, and everything went a little strange after that. Aoibheann just … closed up. She really doesn’t like Ket’lyn! I tried giving her the dress, but not even that helped. Ire was coming off her in waves, and I’m sure Ket’lyn could sense it, even though she was obviously trying to be polite and even offered to accompany us to whatever dark forest we were heading into, saying she had more talents than we might realise. We explained to her that the Unseelie King was very old and very powerful, but it didn’t seem to faze her.
Eventually, Ket’lyn took the hint that Aoibheann didn’t want her around and left. But the damage had been done: Aoibh was completely uncommunicative, and she retreated into a morose silence that I couldn’t break.
In the end, I had to leave her there. I went to find Nathaniel in hopes I could at least find a little comfort in his arms, though I didn’t know whether I’d tell him about the vision.