Colbyn the Fair looked disgusted. He was not used to the kind of harassment the good king of Fermont had issued, nor was he feeling benevolent towards the officers who were ransacking and destroying his wares of trade. He barely kept his temper when yet another pot of precious pigments was dropped, contents spoiled.
The men doing it didn look at him. They didn even look at each other. They were just destroying everything needed for a firework show with the vigorousness of a greyhound after his prey. It was obvious they were ashamed. Ashamed of what they were doing, and ashamed of their king who had ordered it as a revenge for not coming to his city. Lady knew when would the king of Fermont get over his pettiness – if ever.
The officers left, leaving Colbyn and his crew with the mess. Most of the them looked as irritated as Colbyn felt, some seemed to be close to throwing a fit. They all shed their glamor, and their human appearance changed into something else. Oh yes. They were pissed alright. Youd never see a full blooded fey like they really were among the humans, unless they were spoiling for a fight. Colbyn sighted, and for the millionth time wished, that his mother had given him anything else to do except this. Even a fight with a dragon felt a better option than smoothing the ruffled feathers of the fey folk. With a thought he shed the glamor of his own. It was time to remind his kinsmen why it was not a good idea to piss him – or attack the humans.
Salin, his brother and his second-in-command, bowed deeply in acknowledgement of his position.
- ”Liege, what do you want from us? ”
- ”Rein in your wares with earth and air, and let the makers join their voices to a song of creation. I want our stock rebuild and refilled, and the earth cleansed from the mess they made. I will hold the magicks inside the borders of my making. ”
- ”It will be done as you have said. ”
Salin ordered the makers to work. Others cleansed the earth from the poisons the oblivious humans had thrown to the ground. It never seized to amaze him how ignorant the humans were. They seemed to know nothing about the minerals, and how they would affect the land if treated carelessly. Sometimes he felt it would serve them right if the fair folk stopped cleansing the messes the humans made in the world. Let them try to farm land they had killed. He wondered how long it would take for the humans to make soil useless if they did indeed leave them to their own devices. A decade? A century? Not a millennium, the he was sure of.
When the last of the minerals were back in their jars Salin swept the earth with magick of growth. The patches of dead grass and withered plants soon sprouted new leaves and the crumbled flowers rose a new. Colbyn slapped his shoulder.
- ”There you go, brother-of-mine. It is nice to see that you have not lost all touch with your inner healer. ”
- ”I rather suspect it is you who have lost it. What on faerie bespelled you to drag us back to this cursed human land? ”
Salin did not expect his brother to answer him. Colbyn was born about a thousand years before him, and he had learned or developed that type of secrecy, the elder fey and the sidhe kept like a veil around them. Colbyn always seemed to carry some reason or another to make him as close-mouthed as an oyster. Sometimes Salin felt that he kept secrets only to have them. This time however, and to his utter astonishment, Colbyn started talking.
- ”When I was but a wee lad, barely 300 hundred years old, father and mother were having one of their spouts. They fought so hard, that in the end they separated, and started to see other people. For them it was just a way to pass time and find suitable bed mates, for me it was a world of hurt. I resented both of them for their childish behaviour, and even more so when our father had a child with his human mistress.
At that time and day some of the humans lived in the faerie and the half-bred were no so uncommon. Many of our kind found the humans to be more entertaining when it came to the matters of flesh and bedroom. For our father the situation was a huge dilemma though, as he had never intended to impregnate any of his lovers. He felt that his offspring should come from the marriage bed only. But he felt obliged: so he charged me with the task of protecting the child, though he was not going to declare her as his own. So I watched over both of them, till one day the woman took the child, walked to the forest between and disappeared, leaving the child in the edge of the forest. I took the child and searched for the woman but could not find her.
When I returned home with the child I found out that mother and father had reconciled. And to my puzzlement mother insisted on taking the child in even when father objected. But she always got her way, and the child Alayne ”
Salin had listened the story without daring to say anything, but now he had to speak.
- ”What? Our sister, you mean that our sister is actually our half-sister?! How come I never knew about this? Why would they keep this as a secret?! ”
Colbyn sighted. In some ways Salin was still so young and ignorant.
- ”Think Salin. Think. The sidhe do not lie. We omit the truth sometimes, yes, but we don tell an outright lie. Why would she be called our sister, if she was not? You know this. I know you do. ”
Salin stared him, disbelieve and puzzlement warring in his eyes. The two possibilities were running in his head and colliding like swords in a sword dance.
- ”She either adopted her if the woman was her kin, or was using a true human form, something that only the gods are able. ”
Feeling slightly miserable Salin waited for Colbyn either to confirm or deny his words. Both options were odd. For a woman to adopt a girl who was not of her bloodline was unheard of. And to shift form was a gift only the gods and goddesses and their children had. Colbyn looked at this brother, contemplating how to lay his words. Salin was still so naïve in some ways, and very childlike in some aspects.
- ”You do know, that Mother goes by name Dana sometimes? Among the mortal races she is called Danu or Dôn and people used to worship her as a goddess, though she was not. Even our father was worshipped by the humans as their death god under names Bilé and Beli. Nevertheless, even though she is no goddess, she still had – and has – some talents no other among the sidhe can claim to have. She took the form of a human sorceress, called herself Danae and seduced our father when it looked like their marriage was over. She was very determined to make our father see that they are meant to be together. And she stayed in the human form until the babe was born, for the fear of miscarriage if she switched her form back while pregnant. And that is how our sister was born mortal. ”
Salin was stunned. He could hardly believe what his brother told. The idea of a woman whose inner powers rivalled those of gods was terrifying, when you considered that she was your mother. But he felt there was still more to the story than was revealed. One thought lingered in his mind, one question. Why did their mother have such powers?
”How can it be that mother can do such things? Ive been told that only gods and goddesses can switch their true form. ”
Colbyn seemed to ponder his question, eyes looking both through and past Salin.
- ”I wonder ”, he started with a speculating tone, ”if I could extort some kind of a gift from mother. I did warn her that she has not birthed any simpletons, and told her that she should come clean with you before you would start asking questions just like this. ”
His tone was somewhat dry and exasperated at the same time, and under his eyes Salin truly felt what it meant to be millennium younger than his brother.
- ”Where to start. That is always the problem. Mother is only half sidhe. Her mother, grandmother Chrysandra, was of the elder fae, and her father was called Kronos, as you well know. And he is not of the fae. ”
Colbyn stopped there, waiting. Salin stared him with unblinking eyes, trying to fathom out what he meant, when it suddenly hit him.
- ”Father of time! The father of time is our grandfather?! The titan who ruled before the gods and goddesses is related to us? Dear lady… This is too much. Way too much. ”
He was sure his knees would have buckled if he had not been sitting already.
- ”Elder fae and a titan? By the lords and the Lady. That is one scary combination. No wonder Zeus called mother ”sister ” last time he visited us. But that means mother is a goddess, even though you said she is not. Or at least a daughter of one. ”
- ”No, she is not a goddess, nor is she a daughter of a god. Kronos was a titan. Only those of full titan parents became gods and goddesses after they gained worshippers. But she does have goddess like abilities – and a large interest to the doings of her offspring. Alayne married a human when she was nineteen, before we found out that she was not so human than we had thought. Her husband died in a stupid accident two years later, and she was left to fend her son by herself. We took them both back to the faerie, and when the boy was fifteen it was obvious that Alayne did not age like humans do. She still looked like a lass of nineteen, just like any fey child would. Her son married a human woman at the age of twenty, and he aged like a human. And they are the reason we are here now. Queen Alysha is Alaynes great-grandchild in 28th generation if Ive counted correctly. And we still look after them, for our mother is very interested in her offspring. ”
Salin nodded and suddenly flashed a grin.
- ”Not to mention that our mother is most interested in marrying you off. Favourably to one of the maidens who are related to the court and crown. Im sure she would love to see you married either to Queen Avaels or Queen Titanias daughter. ”
Salin snickered to the pure panic that flashed through Colbyns face. He actually visibly shivered.
- ”Do not even joke about it. To have either of them as a mother-of-law would be more than taxing. It would be outright dangerous! How could one ever feel safe in a marriage, where your wifes displeasure could mean death in the hands of your in-laws? ”
- ”Maybe shell just find you a dragon to marry or one of the elder fae. ”
- ”You are surely eager to see me off and married little-brother. Or is this your way of trying to make a murder by proxy? Im done with the talk nevertheless, and the crew is growing impatient. Lets collect our men and continue towards the Reaches. We are supposed to get back home before the queen Avaels celebration, to witness if the princess has what it takes to rule the faerie. ”
The fey left the premises of the borderland without leaving anything behind. There was no sign of their camp, nor any evidence of what had happened in the hands of the patrol. Even the bush trampled by the humans looked untouched. Sometime later one of the patrolmen came back. When he saw the empty place he paled and started searching the ground while keeping close watch to the forest around him. Finally he kneeled next to a rock pile, where a single white pebble was on top of the grey rocks, looked around him and pocketed the white pebble. Then he scrambled the rock pile and hurried to his mount. Curiously enough, he rode to the same direction the retinue had gone.