“Portraits of a Faerie Queen” doesn’t come out until this summer, but you can star to meet the characters and see their world through a few short stories I’d like to post. Follow for more stories!
Quiet days are a rare luxury in the Faerie Court. Usually they’re filled with parties celebrating everything from the arrival of distant ambassadors, to the phases of the moon, to the first summer rains. Sometimes I think we throw parties just to celebrate the new queen’s deep-seeded depravity. Well, I call her new, but she’s been on the throne for a hundred years. For faeries, that’s relatively new.
Still, days filled with meetings about the status of our boarders, the nearby human settlements that are oblivious to our existence, and the complaints and requests of the subjects of the realm are a welcome break. These days, I can do my real job: listen, watch, and wait.
It’s not the most exciting job, but it will pay off soon enough.
Her Majesty slumps back in her throne as her most recent group of subject leaves the Grand Hall. A guard closes the door behind them. With a sigh, the queen raises her glass of wine to her ruby red lips and takes a slow sip.
“Ugh, days like this are so boring,” she whines, sitting back up. “And I haven’t the slightest idea what these Seelie prats want me to do for them. The Unseelie court took over fair and square. We’re in control. They’re at our mercy. What else do they expect? They should have fled when they had the chance.”
Gods above, she’s a terrible queen. Whatever made her think she was fit to invade her sister’s lands and unite the Seelie and Unseelie courts is a mystery. Luckily for her, and unfortunately than the rest of us, what she lacks in actual leadership skills she makes up for with cunning and maliciousness. Those two traits will take you far in Faerie.
“They’re just too simple to understand your ways, Your Majesty,” Lyle, the queen’s champion, preens from the other side of the throne. He flashes her a smile that doesn’t quite reach his hazel eyes. “Shall I call for more wine?”
When the time comes, I hope I get the opportunity to run the prat through myself.
“I’m fine for now,” she says. While I continue to look forward, I can feel her bright green eyes on me, no doubt plotting a new way to play with my head. She nudges me in the arm and asks, “Are you all right, Dominic? You’ve been awfully quiet today. Is something wrong?”
I glance down at her wide-eyed pout, as if that’s going to put me in a better mood. “I’m fine, Your Majesty,” I say. “I’m just savoring the stillness. Days like this are rare.”
“Thank the gods,” she scoffs, leaning back again and playing with one of her chestnut curls. “The quiet drives me crazy.”
You went crazy long ago, you hag.
A guard slips through the door at the opposite end of the Grand Hall, timid and tense under the queen’s gaze. He must bring bad news. The door’s left ajar so he can run if she starts throwing things, no doubt. It wouldn’t be the first time.
“Your Majesty, there’s a Hob Leabar here to see you,” the guard announces.
From the corner of my eye I see the queen’s brow pull together as she sits up straighter.
“The old goblin book keeper?” she asks. The guard nods. “What’s he doing here?”
That’s a fair question, to tell the truth. Hob hasn’t been to court since Her Majesty took over and, seeing as his alliance secretly still lies with the old queen, this would be a good place not to be.
“Well, he, um, brought a human girl to see you, Your Majesty,” the guard explains. “She claims to have been in an accident caused by a faerie running out into the road. She’s come looking for confirmation of that being what happened.”
The old idiot. He should know better than to bring humans around here, especially one young enough to be called a girl. The child fed him, I bet. That goblin always did think too much with his stomach. If we’re all lucky, the queen won’t see any potential amusement with toying with a lost human child and will turn them both away.
Unfortunately, very few are lucky when dealing with the faerie queen.
She sets down her wine glass and gets to her feet. With her shoulders back, chest out, and hands folded she says, “See them in.”
So much for a quiet day. I already know that this is going to get messy.
The guard opens the door wider, allowing the two entrance into the hall. Hob doesn’t look much different than the last time I saw him. He’s still small, ancient, heavy-set, and walks with a cane that he’ll turn into a weapon if someone so much as looks at him wrong. The human, on the other hand, looks too a tad too old to be called a girl. While her messy, longish, blonde waves certainly give away her youth, she’s a bit taller than the average human woman and certainly passed puberty. I have to admit, she’d be quite lovely if properly dressed and groomed. The backpack she carries makes me think she must be a student of some institution. Possibly the “Northland High School” written across her T-shirt.
Hob eases himself down to his knees before the queen and the human follows his lead.
“Your Majesty,” Hob says in his gravelly voice, “Forgive me both for coming before you unannounced and revealing myself to a human, but this child has informed me of an injustice that I believe is in your power to be rendered.”
“Is that so?” the queen replies coolly. “And what injustice is that? Speak, child.”
The human raises her eyes to Her Majesty and, judging by the way they go wide and her mouth hangs open for a moment, she’ll have trouble tearing them away, much like every other human unfortunate enough to find themselves in the Faerie Court. I can’t say I blame her. Even I have to admit she’s stunning, even if I do hate her, and her form-fitting, revealing dress certainly helps make it obvious.
“Several weeks ago, I was driving with my mother several miles from here,” the human explains. Though her voice trembles, it’s loud and tries to carry some level of authority. Hob must have prepared her. “It was late and the roads were bad due to a thunderstorm. I admit I was distracted because of an argument I was having with my mother and wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have to the road.”
“So, you were driving one of those…what are they called these days?”
“Cars, Your Majesty,” Lyle whispers.
“Yes, one of those.”
The human nods. “That’s correct, Your Majesty. A creature of some kind walked into the road. It was too short to be a human adult, but too strange looking to be a kid. It was too dark to see it clearly.”
“You’ll have to give me more information than that,” the queen sighs.
“Well, the creature probably only came up to my waist,” the human says, “It was hunched over and its hands reached the ground. It looked like it had branches or something growing out of its head, or wore them as a hat or something. I can’t really be sure.”
The queen frowns and folds her arms, lifting up her breasts with the motion. I have to resist the urge to roll my eyes because I’m sure she’s doing it to toy with the girl. Judging by the way she focuses on the gesture, I’m right. Thankfully, she thinks better of it and lowers her eyes.
“So, what do you want me to do?” Her Majesty asks. “I can do many things, but find a single nameless faerie in a realm of thousands is simply impossible.” She takes several steps towards the human and I tense on her behalf. “And even if I could, why should I? You don’t look hurt.”
“I’m not, but my mother is,” the human continues, eyes glued to the ground. “She was badly injured in the accident.”
The girl’s hands turn to fists. “There was severe internal bleeding in her head and bruising to her brain. Her doctors don’t know if she’ll wake up…my sister and I could lose her.”
A cold, calculating smile spreads across the queen’s face, a terrible sign. “So, you’re looking for justice for your mother?”
The human nods. “But, if you can’t find the person responsible,” she looks up at her again with sharp determination in his deep blue eyes, “could you heal my mother instead?”
The queen blinks down at the girl, then throws her head back and laughs. It’s a cold, mocking sound that I hate more every time I hear it. She finally composes herself and wipes a tear from her eye. “A human who believes the queen of Faerie can help him in this day and age? Apparently wonders will never cease.”
“You could be the angel of death and I’d bargain with you at this point,” the girl says, unfazed by the queen’s mockery. “I have to do something. My mother is all I and my sister have left. Can you help me or not?”
So, she’s desperate. That’s the last thing you want to be in the presence of the queen. It’s too late for her now, though. She’s completely at Her Majesty’s mercy. It’s not my business. I don’t know this girl and, if she’s stupid enough to reveal that much about herself to the queen, I don’t think I want to, but I hold my breath in anticipation none the less.
The queen sneers down at the girl. “What is your name, human child?”
Her Majesty reaches down and lifts Jocelyn by the hand. “Well, Jocelyn Lennox, you happen to have caught me in a giving mood today. I would be more than willing to help you and your mother.” She seizes him tightly by the shoulder and flashes a wicked smile. “For a price, of course.”