Nobody had much time to react. As soon as the glamour was off, lightning forked in the sky. The night had been clear, now clouds billowed and began to pour rain.
Dakotah knew he’d made a mistake. “To the Lake!” he yelled. He raised the Lake and they piled into the canoe. Roland was still staring in shock. His only movement had been to raise his fingers to his eyes. Dakotah grabbed his wrist and pulled him into the canoe.
No rain fell on the Lake, and the sounds of rolling thunder faded as they paddled into the fey world. Dakotah handed his paddle to Phin and turned around to Roland.
“Listen, man, I’m sorry. I thought you were hiding something. I had no idea…” He trailed off.
Roland blinked several times. “Am I high?”
“I mean, maybe,” Dakotah joked lamely. “But this is all real. I’m a Guardian in the fey world. We came to protect you. You really didn’t know you’re a fairy?”
“Is that what this is?” Roland asked, eyes still on his fingers. Dakotah could understand why Roland couldn’t take his eyes off them. He had changed completely. He’d lost a foot in height and his body had thinned. Gone were his broad African features, instead his face had a sharp, wary, fey beauty.
Dakotah always pictures fairies like flowers. Roland looked more like a tree. His skin was dark and rough and patterned as bark, his fingers spindly branches, his hair many shades of green. Dragonfly wings lay flat down his back.
“He sounds bad,” Pete said. Her voice was taut. There was no way to move around in the canoe, so she twisted to look back at them. To Dakotah’s surprise, she was glaring at him.
“I think he’s a changeling,” Val offered.
“What’s a changeling?”
“It’s when a human baby is stolen and replaced with a fey one.”
Phin was the only one paddling now, which was making their progress slow. Not that it really mattered, they’d get there whenever the Lake wanted. “Why would a fey steal a human?” He was thinking of Eyerusalem kidnapping Leal.
“If they think it’s beautiful. They’ll keep it young in the Seelie court forever.”
This Dakotah understood. Fey loved beauty. “So there’s a real–another Roland out there. But we don’t know what happened to him since the Seelie Court has disbanded.” He thought about this. “Ok, we need the full story on the Seelie Court. Let’s go to the shop, I have to pick something up. And then we’re gonna visit Yolanda.”
He’d rescued Yolanda’s chest from the golem only a few days before. This was as good an excuse as any to visit the friendly older fey…and ask her about the Seelie Court.
“Maybe Roland should stay in the shop,” Pete suggested.
Dakotah shook his head. “Caitlin could come back. Until I know her game, I don’t wanna get her suspicious.”
Yolanda greeted them effusively. It was later in the evening and Morticia’s was closed to customers, so they sat in an old-fashioned drawing room.
Pete put her hand on Roland’s arm but he pulled away.
“Icarus would’ve been so proud,” Yolanda said as she settled the chest in a corner.
Dakotah grimaced at the thought of Ike. The old man was probably berating him for pulling off Roland’s glamour so abruptly.
“Yeah, well, like I said, it only makes bigger trouble for me to have to clean up the Seelie Court’s messes. That’s why I wanted to hear the whole story about the fall of the Seelie Court from you.”
Yolanda steepled her fingers as the brownies served tea and cookies to the guests.
“A small price to pay for your assistance with my chest, Guardian, but where to start?”
“My friends don’t know anything much about the fey world. Start from the very beginning. Give lots of details.”
So she did:
As you may have guessed, there has never been a peace between the Seelie and Unseelie courts. That being said, we used to live in a relative truce. If one had a problem with the other (usually the Seelie court objecting to the Unseelie’s actions) it was settled without escalation.
Much of this was because the Unseelie had no leader. None could hold that tumultuous throne for too long. But with the rise of Sunil, things changed. Sunil wasn’t interested in the Unseelie throne himself, he had no interest in splitting his power, or of the chaos the Unseelie like to create. He wanted to be the ruler of his own orderly world. The Unseelie himself probably wouldn’t have had him. They despise humans in general, and seek to make your lives more difficult.
But Sunil’s rise distracted the Seelie court–and Guardians like Icarus–and so a fey was able to take over the Unseelie. Her name is Samantha. She defended the Unseelie court from Sunil and eventually brokered a deal that kept Sunil out of Unseelie affairs. For this, the Unseelie gave her as much loyalty as their small hearts are capable of.
Samantha used this loyalty to further her goals–whether or not this move was included in her deal with Sunil, we cannot know. But while the Seelie court fended off Sunil in some parts of their territory, Samantha attacked from the unguarded edges. She was relentless and her troops ruthless, and after some time the Seelie court was devastated by its two enemies. Those left alive fled and went into hiding. Even those who had not fought, but who had lived under Unseelie protection, were targeted. Icarus defeated Sunil, but the Seelie King and Queen were trapped by Samantha. She has them prisoner to this day. Without their power, the Seelie court is unlikely to rally and overthrow Samantha’s rule. I hesitate to eve say “rule”. Samantha has done what any Unseelie leader would: let chaos reign. The only things she worries about is ensuring the continuation of her reign by taking down even the slightest threats.
Dakotah had a lot of questions after that, but Pete beat him to the punch.
“And who’s Roland?” she asked.
Yolanda couldn’t help her eyes flicking over the faery at Pete’s side. “Roland is the lost prince.”
My YA fantasy novel TURQUOISEBLOOD is out now! Get your copy here!
When the dangerous rogue dragon Anya crash lands in an isolated mountain village during a snowstorm, Kiri saves her life. Anya awakens seemingly cured of her madness and in thanks offers to show Kiri the country outside her village.
What starts as a simple pact quickly becomes something more as Kiri becomes embroiled in the intrigue of the royal court and the hunt for a murderer.
Meanwhile, 200 years in the past, Pristina fights to stop a rising civil war.