Q is for Quickening
Fitting in with the overall theme and feel of my blog, I decided to share a short story with you that takes place in my Faerie world. The Story of the Galno is one that I wrote years ago and recently changed a little as things progressed in other stories (most notably The Adventures of Saphira the Faery Dog). This is part of that original story showing how Faerie came to be the way it is in my modern-day novels. (Part one can be read here.) I hope you enjoy this story about the awakening (quickening) of Faerie.
By Ronel Janse van Vuuren
The Dark King stood on the highest balcony of his castle. Across from his snow covered realm he could see Avalon. Black skies stretched as far as he could see. And he could see very far.
Hiding in their trees, under rocks and in camouflage as they ran across fields of blood red poppies, Fae of every creed were trying to hide from the Seelie Queen’s anguish.
Ciarán held fast to the balcony’s railing as yet another round of thunder crashed into the ground. Fae were wiped from existence where they hid in the aftershock.
Even the powerful Cù Sìth seemed rattled in their part of Faerie, though they were holding out better than everyone else.
Lightning danced all around as torrents of rain promised to drown everyone. Even the Selkies.
He grimaced and pushed the rain from existence. As he touched her magic, he could feel her heartache. It left a bad taste in his mouth.
The receding rain, resembling thick mist, left the shattering thunder and blinding lightning in its wake.
It was worse.
Ash fell like snow as lightning burned and incinerated everything while the thunder tore the world to pieces. The wind howled through trees and around corners: heart rendering shrieks of agony.
Ciarán slammed the balcony railing with his fist as lightning – there was no other word for it – splattered everywhere, killing an entire tribe of goblins.
He stopped time and flitted over to the Seelie Queen’s bower in Avalon.
Memories swirled around him, abandoned, as he entered the bower. It was even worse than touching her magic.
‘What’s going on with you, Mae?’ he asked as kindly a he could.
‘Nothing,’ it came from the chaise lounge in the middle of the chaos of wisteria and snatches of memory.
Ciarán shivered as the face of Jamie MacKinnion – the Galno who’d led his entire race from Faerie a fortnight earlier – swirled in front of him, larger than it should be. Some romances were never meant to be, Mae’s actions were proof of that.
‘Well, then we have a serious problem. Especially since this nothing is spreading to my part of Faerie and killing my Fae.’
A sigh was all answer he got.
Glimmers of possibility reached out to him. It was a startling sight: fate had finally found him.
‘If this continues I will be forced to do something which you had begged me not to. I will create a new divide.’ Ciarán looked slyly at the Seelie Queen who only stared up at the swirling mass of memories above her. ‘You will have your side, I will have mine. And what is left in the middle will be the scariest place in any dimension. There will be no balance.’
Had there been any response from the other monarch, he might have abandoned his scheme. But for the first time in millennia he finally had the chance to do what he had always wanted to: create absolute chaos.
‘Do I have your consent, Andromeda?’ he asked formally. All big changes had to come from both of them.
‘You have to do what you have to, Ciarán. I couldn’t care less.’
Incredulous, he watched her. The distance in her eyes told him that she spoke the truth.
‘So it be written, so it be done.’
The ground gave in between them. A bright flash blinded him as time began to blur. He could feel Faerie shifting. He felt the pull as all Dark Fae found themselves outside his castle. He felt the energies of all Mae’s subjects congregate outside the bower. And far off, he could feel the power of Solitary Fae settling in the mortal realm.
Across time, he could hear Mae’s voice: ‘Every loss, every line, and every truth divined shows that the cost is far too high. Balance, Ciarán. Do you remember what I’d told you so long ago? Soon you’ll have nowhere to hide and you’ll get what you deserve.’
Shaken, he sifted space and saw the malleable mess that Faerie was. Avalon and the lands of the Cù Sìth settled on one side, his dark lands on the other of where opposite energies met. A sea of discord, violence, beauty and cruelty divided them all.
There was no way to cross this new divide.
Grinning, he saw the effects of removing balance from Faerie already taking hold. The Seelie were already basking in their own goodness while kicking out the ones they did not see as their equals. The Unseelie were losing the last vestiges of what was right and wrong – soon they would be completely dark. Eventually, without balance, everyone would become the worst versions of themselves.
Ciarán laughed. Every side of Faerie would become the essence of nightmares.
Leaving the shifting landscape to settle, he slipped through a doorway to the mortal realm. It was time to put another plan into action while Mae was too distracted to care.
Trees towered over him and the mulch absorbed his footsteps. On a ridge, allowing an excellent view of the turrets of a castle on the other side of the forest, stood a young woman dressed in a black dress and cloak.
‘Morgana Pendragon. A pleasure to meet you at last.’
The woman turned around, watching him warily.
‘How rude of me. I am Ciarán, King of the Unseelie.’
‘You can use some sun,’ she noted, turning back to the view.
‘And you can use my help.’
She turned back, eyes narrowed.
‘Why would you help me?’
‘Your success will power a few of my own endeavours.’
She still watched him through narrowed eyes. ‘I’m listening.’
‘You’ve already played with the idea to split yourself in two.’
‘It’s impossible, even for one as strong as myself.’
‘With a little help from me, you can achieve all of your dreams. You’ll have more power and be able to conquer more if there are two of you.’
‘This other you only needs a bit of my blood.’
‘The cost?’ Her eyes shone greedily.
‘The other you will become Fae. Probably something to do with dragons…’
Ciarán watched her channel her energy to split herself in two. It was almost as startling as having fate find him.
Power from Faerie swept through the mortal realm and Morgana became two.
The Dark King grinned: it was exactly what he’d hoped would happen.
A woman in black and a woman in red lay on the ground.
He knelt next to the woman in a red dress and cloak. Slitting his wrist, he had her drink from him.
‘Easy now, Morgan,’ he said as she stirred. Her eyes fluttered open: eyes filled with fire.
‘What happened?’ Morgana, the woman in black, asked.
‘I did my part.’
Morgan and Morgana watched each other. An identical grin split their faces.
‘Go now. You’ll need time to decide your plan of attack.’
‘Thank you,’ Morgana said with feeling.
Morgan curtsied, her new Fae side knowing that he’s her liege, and left with Morgana.
Ciarán grinned as he watched them leave. While Morgana would live out the prophecy written about her, Morgan would cause havoc with her obsession with the powers of Dragons and the magic of men.
A labyrinth might make a nice hidey-hole for her…
Whistling happily, he returned to Faerie and the Rift he had caused.
I hope that you had enjoyed this story. I always appreciate feedback, so don’t hesitate to comment. More stories about Faerie will enchant, terrify and entertain you throughout the month of April.