W is for wailing.
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. I hope you enjoy this story about the wailing of the Fae and how it changed Faerie. The previous parts of this story can be read here and here.
Castle of Glass
By Ronel Janse van Vuuren
Swirling memories were abruptly cut off and replaced by the usual view of intertwined plants. Mae sat up, nutshells skittering everywhere, fury coursing through her as she searched for the intruder.
‘Enough, my queen, it’s been long enough,’ a voice said from the shadows.
‘What do you want?’ she hissed.
‘To do my duty to Faerie.’
She turned away and saw that the floor was littered with remnants of food.
‘You’ve had enough time to mourn the Fae who’ve left you. Now it’s time to be a queen once more.’
Mae pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them.
‘You don’t understand, Cian.’
‘Why you allowed the Dark King to do as he will? No, I don’t understand.’
‘And that’s an excuse to allow your subjects to suffer? Do you have any idea what’s been going on in Faerie and the Mortal Realm since you’ve started wallowing in your own grief? Even the Banshees haven’t stopped wailing…’
Her head snapped up. ‘What?’
‘You did instruct them to lament the end of all love affairs,’ he reminded with a tinge of disapproval in his voice.
Mae could hear the far-off wailing the Assassin spoke of.
‘Come, my queen, see for yourself.’
She allowed him to lead her to the waterfall. Her appearance was shocking in the reflective surface: a dress, once white, covered with stains from various fruit, her hair a tangled mess, almost as if Pixies had been set loose in her red tresses, and for some reason her hand reached up and plucked loose a walnut stuck in her hair… and she ate it.
Grimacing, Mae turned away.
‘There’s more,’ the Assassin said and led her to the pool in which all the water from the waterfall fell.
Looking down at the rippling surface, she at first saw nothing. Then… the water showed her everything outside her bower.
Uprooted trees, Fae scurrying away from overflowing rivers, Tree Nymphs gathered at the ancient oak, their faces grim, and a huge chasm of anger, pain, beauty and everything else that could be found in harmony in Faerie now in discord.
She shivered and took a step back.
‘Ciarán had divided our lands?’
‘Yes, my queen. Just as you’ve agreed to.’
Mae stared across the devastation of Faerie. Everything was broken, reflecting the Faery Queen’s emotions.
She wanted to wail as loudly as the Banshees. She’d allowed her world to be destroyed. Why? She glared at the sea of discord. A face floated over it.
Jamie had left. He would never return. The woman who loved him was as broken as the world around her appeared to be. She had tried so hard to make him stay. But she realised now that it was a battle lost before it was ever begun.
Mae rubbed her suddenly cold hands. While she’d replayed her fondest memories, her powers had flitted around and done damage at will.
For weeks those who lived in Avalon had to survive this devastation.
‘I thought I could rewrite the past. But…’ she sighed and turned to the Assassin. ‘I’ve banished all memories of him, Cian. Yet somehow it’s all coming back to me. Every look, every embrace.’
‘I believe it to be a good thing, my queen. How else will you heal if you do not face your pain?’
‘What does the Assassin know of healing?’
‘More than my queen is aware of,’ he answered simply.
‘I’ll always love him, Cian. He has filled every part of my heart.’
‘Maybe one day his power over you will diminish. Then you can be the queen you were meant to be: neither the cold nor the passionate queen we’ve had to deal with since you fell in love with him an age ago. Maybe then you will have found balance.’
‘Yes, balance is essential to our way of life, is it not?’
‘It is why I exist.’
After she’d cleaned herself up, Mae wandered through Faerie. While she’d kept herself in a castle of glass away from her subjects, they’d suffered.
Immersing herself in memories of a love that had gotten away, she’d neglected the love she had: Faerie.
Exhaling softly, all the trees in her vicinity righted themselves and pushed their roots deep into the ground. She blinked her eyes and all the shrubs regained their foliage and poppies popped into existence with their exuberant red flowers.
Watching a blue rabbit sniff at the poppies happily, she remembered the blue of Jamie’s eyes. A field of blue poppies burst into existence where moments before only debris from a heavy storm had been.
Mae smiled as more of the blue rabbits arrived to appreciate the flowers. It felt good to fix her mistakes.
The more she worked on returning Avalon to what it was before the Galno had left, the more she could feel her subjects rejoicing in her return. Even the Tree Nymphs and their trees sung in joy.
It is love confessed in the most beautiful humming sound, she sighed contentedly. She had regained the peace of the love she had.
A gasp drew her attention to the Fae gathered in the meadow below.
A Faery, belly swollen with new life, had just entered the small break in the trees where purplish-blue flowers covered the ground.
The pregnant Faery wore soft black trousers with a lace border at the bottom. The sleeveless blouse was light lilac with a matching lace border at the hem. Above this she wore a crocheted dark lilac-purple mix of soft wool with bell-shaped sleeves.
Her nearly shoulder-length hair was dark blonde with streaks of sunlight mixed in. A dark purple bloom with lilac splashes at its centre rested atop one ear. She seemed to be in a state of perpetual bliss.
The wonder of seeing a Fae – an immortal being – expectant with new life, brought tears to Mae’s eyes. She stepped back before they could see her. A Pride of India sprouted in front of her, full of white blooms. She watched the Fae rejoice in the pregnancy, giving the expectant mother tokens of their appreciation.
Envy dripped from her and sizzled the ground she stood on.
Surprised, Mae stumbled back. She’d never been envious of anyone. Yet, here she was overflowing with it. She closed her eyes and searched for the reason behind her envy.
Jamie, his name whispered through her. She’d had dreams of a family with him.
Her eyes snapped open and she straightened. Jamie was gone. He’d made his choice. Now it was her turn.
She’s a strong, independent, powerful woman. She didn’t need the one man she’d ever loved – especially since he didn’t need or want her.
Mae turned her back on the party and walked into the butterfly forest. The smell of sage and other herbs filled her senses as a new desire – one to replace the dream of a family and love – started building in her.
The Faery Queen stood in the middle of her bower, surrounded by the scent and blooms of wisteria. The sweet smell of the bloom intoxicated the senses. On her left hand on her middle finger a ring caught the light filtering in through the plants. It was the Ring of Power: the ring where sunlight was captured in moonlight. At present it looked no more than a silver ring with rubies all over. But in truth this ring held power both in Faerie and in the Mortal Realm. It was the Ring of Light: the one true hallow of the Seelie Court.
A very long time ago it had appeared in the pool of the waterfall before Mae in a powder blue ring box with a lilac bow. From where it came, even she did not know. But then, Ciarán had once jokingly said that Faeries were not the only things that went bump in the night.
Thinking of the Dark King made her powerlessly furious.
Even her ring couldn’t restore balance to Faerie. She knew that she should never have given Ciarán permission to separate the two Courts with a chasm in Faerie. Who knew what lay in store for Fae and Man now that balance was no more?
‘You summoned us, my queen?’
Mae turned around. All the Banshees from Faerie and even the ones who’d snuck into the Mortal Realm stood in the spacious bower.
‘It is time for you to stop wailing for lost love. No-one fears you. Rather, you should warn of imminent death.’
‘Excuse me for saying so, my queen, but Fae don’t usually die.’
‘It’s time for that to change. Don’t you agree, Ankou?’
The King of the Dead stepped out of the shadows. She was pleased that he had accepted her invitation. The Banshees lost all colour and became as white as her guest.
‘Indeed, my lady. I’ll grant you all the Scream of Death. But,’ he watched them through narrowed eyes, ‘you won’t kill Man or Fae if one of my lieutenants hadn’t authorised it. If you disobey me, I’ll let you go on a ride with a Dullahan.’
They all shivered.
Mae thought it an appropriate reaction to Ankou’s threat. His lieutenants made even her feel uncomfortable.
‘The Keeper of the Veil is waiting for you: she’ll give you your instructions.’
With those words from the King of the Dead, the Banshees left. Mae knew that they would come to enjoy their new job in time.
‘I’m impressed, Mae. Ruling with fear… No-one would dare cross you again. Not even Ciarán.’
‘I’m not sure if I like you approving of my plans…’
‘It’s time for your subjects to fear you as much as they adore you. It’s the only way to keep them from challenging your authority.’ He looked at her meaningfully. ‘So, what other ways have you found to use Ciarán’s mistake?’
‘I don’t know what you mean,’ she looked away, hoping that he didn’t know.
‘When the Rift was formed, parts of Faerie were misplaced in the Mortal Realm. All Solitary Fae were also sent there. And there is no way to return things to the way it was before.’
Mae sighed. ‘You’re very observant.’
‘Oh, it’s nothing. My kingdom expanded too…’
‘I’ll share this with you, Ankou: it was decided a few mortal years ago that Man and Fae would no longer co-exist. We made it so humans completely forgot that we are real. But now…’ She shrugged.
‘Now we have parts of our world in theirs,’ he said. ‘What’s the plan?’
‘They’ve already relegated us to their folklore. Doing a little something here and a little something there to make us immortal in their minds…’ She grinned. ‘Their memories, tales and imagination will fuel our magic.’
Ankou took a deep bow. ‘You are truly incomparable, Queen Andromeda.’ His formal words reverberated through Faerie and the Mortal Realm. ‘Whenever you need me, just call.’
Mae nodded and he disappeared into the shadows.
A fleck of colour caught her eye in the waterfall: the Banshees were already having fun in the Mortal Realm.
‘Are you certain of this plan, my queen?’ the Assassin asked.
‘I am. The only way to protect my people is to walk away from my feelings for a man who doesn’t value me. I have to do better for my subjects, Cian. I have to stop wasting my energy trying to force something to work that isn’t.’ She felt tears burning in her eyes.
‘You have an entire kingdom who loves you, my queen. Never feel alone or unloved.’ He bowed and left.
Mae smiled. The Assassin was right. She allowed the sun to burn away her tears before moving on to the next phase of her plan: Faery Trees.
I hope that you had enjoyed this story. I always appreciate feedback, so don’t hesitate to comment. This is the last story for the month of April. If you’ve missed the previous ones, go to Rumour Has It and New Divide.