Fey World Ch. 16bymadam_noe©
They came from the trees like white shadows, not that many, three. A scouting party, I sensed, but their feral growls and glowing eyes indicated they had no fear, only dark determination.
Four guards flanked the royal party and it was the captains who took the first two. The largest of the wolf, nearly twice the size of a natural wolf, was holding back, slinking, estimating.
Feral claws and teeth were impressive but against the silver swords of the 2 best warriors of an ancient people they were quickly slain.
"Cut their heads off!" I cried and suddenly the night was split by the howl of the now lone wolf.
It stood off, further back now, and when it came down from the bray those glowing eyes met mine. What I saw there was a plea, a plea that called to me.
One of the guards flanking us raised his bow, silver-tipped arrow at the ready. "No!" I managed to shout as I swept down and knocked him from his stance. The arrow shot far left and the wolf loped off with a single backward glance.
"Anni!" Elfgwyven was there by my side, holding me.
"Hannah! What were you thinking!?!" Angoralt joined us, shock in his eyes as well.
"I- I'm not sure."
"Shall we chase it, your highness?" Morraving asked.
"Look it's...the god and goddess, the first ones, I can't explain, but I-"
Elfgwyven looked to the sky. "He is gone; we must hurry now to reach safety." He gave me a look that clearly spoke we would discuss this later.
The guards were on alert as we rode, silver swords glinting in the fiery glow of their light spells. We rode in silence, the men tense; I confused. In that wolf's eyes, I had seen intelligence, a purpose, grief...and a plea.
The guards were doubled. We had seen no one in the small groupings of crofter's huts outside the castle, no animals. Torches burned bright as if we- they, I corrected myself, were at siege.
At our pronouncement the gate was opened and we rode through. In the outer yards people were crowded; the smaller buildings and cottages filled. Everywhere I looked were people crowded around fires, eating the evening meal. It looked like everyone for miles was here, and my unease grew.
Suddenly there were shouts and my father's royal guards were running behind a familiar shape. I smiled, and unheeding of the eyes around me fluidly dismounted and ran to greet my brother.
He wrapped his arms around me and I stood straight, swinging him around in our embrace. It had seemed like such a short time I'd been away but he had grown a few inches in height and hair, and had some more firm heft to him.
"By God you're heavy!" I said and set him down, ruffling his hair.
"Anni, you're beautiful!"
I blushed at that and set him away from me.
"Pietyr, you remember my husband Elfgwyven."
Pietyr turned and gave an exceedingly gracious bow as my Seelie husband joined us. "Your highness."
"Your highness," Elfgwyven replied with an equally pretentious bow. I felt a pang for simple honesty of the greetings in my childhood.
"And my I present my other-"
"My brother the Unseelie King, Angoralt," Elfgwyven quickly supplied. I was unsure if this had all been explained to Pietyr, he was so young.
More bows were exchanged and then my father's steward came forth and bade us to come inside. It was late, but Angorlandians typically ate the final meal late, fey did so early.
The great hall was full and as Pietyr proceeded us waiting for all our titles to be announced worked my appetite back up once more.
My father was absent. On his chair draped a banner of the Southlands castle; he was gone on a hunt or simple mission. This time of year he did like his hunt.
In the second largest chair sat his wife, Pietyr's mother, looking pompous and smug. At least she did until Angoralt came in after us...and her cold, beautiful face was awash with lust so palpable I could feel it across the room. I fingered my sword as I walked beside one husband, followed by another.
We bowed to her formally and she offered my father's chair not to Elfgwyven, as was custom, nor to Pietyr, as was habit, but to Angoralt, blithely ignoring her children.
My dark husband gave her a cool, polite smile, but his eyes glittered like midwinter ice on a dark night. It was a look that would have quelled the fury of his strongest enemy, but my father's wife seemed only more curious.
Angoralt spoke with authority; Pietyr was seated in my father's chair, Angoralt to his side, I and Elfgwyven beside the woman.
Clapping her hands the food began to be marched in, servants filling our cups.
"That wasn't so bad, now was it?"
I turned to my husband and squeezed his hand. "Ice against ice...this should be interesting."
"Well," he drawled, kissing my knuckles, "it should be comforting know that once bonded to his sennschat, Angoralt is incapable of feeling or desire with another. Even if that were not the case my brother has always preferred women of innocence and quiet strength."
I kissed his knuckles and then we ate. I was ignored, Elfgwyven was engaged frequently by a cousin, a Duke, and his wife, and my father's wife spoke to Angoralt over her son's head.
After the meal came the entertainments, so mild compared to what I had known in fey, but familiar. Once they ended came the traditional separation of the men and women and I grabbed Elfgwyven with the memory of a long ago night, and Angoralt too.
Only due to our status no one stopped us as I led my men into the garden, away from the crowds. There had been so many retainers, vessels, and nobles in the great hall, so many of the common folk in the keep that I feared we'd find no solace.
The gardens, fading in the early autumn air were deserted, and Angoralt cast up some magic to keep us alone.
"That woman is most irritating," my dark lover said at last.
"I have been saying that for years."
"I don't like her manner."
I reached up bring his head down for a kiss. Seeing her undress him with her eyes had been firing my blood for the past few hours.
"I'm surprised our lovely queen finds that so arousing," Elfgwyven murmured.
"I am here in the human ream where all three of us may be together. That is what I find arousing." I turned and kissed him just as passionately.
"So she likes us both at once," Angoralt purred, most teasingly.
"And why not? I am only human."
There was no more talking after that.
Hours later we had privacy at last. I had visited Pietyr to tuck him and planned to read him a story, but all he wanted to know about was the Unseelie. I told him all that was fit for a very young man's ears and kissed him good night.
Servants bustled about us in our rooms, curious to see fey, and when they left then came Bornagold and his reports. The men of his guard had mixed amongst the common folk and Bornagold had kept close to his king, but mixed amongst the nobles. More tales of wolves, but soon a pattern emerged. They only killed armed men, and I began to wonder at that.
They were moving west towards the gates of fey, coming from the North. They were amassing and it was agreed that we would be safe here for a time, but most of the fey guards wanted to joined the armored patrols searching the countryside.
At long last he left, and Angoralt appeared.
"I want to kill your mother."
"She's my father's wife, not my mother."
He sat down after removing his strange black over tunic and draping it on a chair. "She slipped into my room, naked, and thought to seduce me."
My blood chilled. "She risks death, for a queen, that is high treason."
"She kept asking about you. I know we have not discussed the wedding but she seems to think any feeing I have for you are dirty."
Elfgwyven walked to him, placing a golden hand on his shoulder. "If human-defined infidelity is treason for a queen, perhaps she thinks to trap our Anni."
"Then what do we do?" I asked them, choosing the opposite chair, content to look at them.
"We shall be careful, first off." Elfgwyven waved his hand with magic and set spells I knew would transport his brother should the door open.
"Very careful," Angoralt added with his own magic. "That will keep us from any prying eyes or ears," he said at my raised brow.
"Second, when your father returns tomorrow evening, we will tell him straightaway that you two must wed."
"I'm still not sure how he will take that."
My Seelie husband smiled, sea-blue eyes glimmering. "He is a good, kind man who loves you; he will want you to be happy."
"Oh, it's not him I worry about, it's the rest of the humans."
"Be glad it is Pietyr who will inherit this kingdom, and you must rule over two kingdoms more open minded."
I smiled at Angoralt. "That is one way of looking at it."
"Now, what happened with the wolf?" Elfgwyven sat beside his brother, and suddenly I was faced with two very stern men looking at me like I'd been a naughty girl.
"I saw...humanity in his eyes. They were three, a scouting party. Back when my people were plentiful we would raid the coasts and send three men to scout inland. One tracker and two guards."
"Tracker? Tracking what?"
"Not me, no one knew we were leaving fey."
Angoralt pursed his lips and smoothed his long onyx hair over his shoulder. "Your mo-father's mother had a feast prepared. Word could have gotten our any number of ways."
"Helpful," I murmured. "I can't explain it, but I felt a connection, as if in that moment I could sense why the wolves seek me."
"And why is that?"
I glanced to my pink-haired husband. "They want me to save them."
Into the darkest hours we talked, discussed, debated. Two men made of pure magic doubted I could have any of my own. I wanted to box their ears, but all I could do was remind them of the riddle of the gods.
To fix one you must fix the other; to restore nature you must repair what man has rendered. Magic begets magic.
You are the key, but you are not the holder. Another must turn, and another must open.
What I had thought addressed the two kingdoms I began to wonder if it meant 2 that did not exist; a kingdom of magic split in two, and a kingdom of man surrendered to wolves. When I mentioned this they worked themselves into such a froth I could only stand.
They argued between one another and only the magic could keep the voices from waking the rest of the castle. I haltingly unlaced my sleeves and removed them; then I unlaced my bodice. They didn't stop.
I stripped down to my chemise and removed my shoes. Nothing. I pulled the chemise over my head and unwound the hair net.
Standing there in only my stockings, naked otherwise, my hair loose, I was used to being immediately ravished by either of them. It was as if I didn't exist at that moment.
I cleared my throat.
I crossed my arms beneath my breasts, sighed, and tapped my foot.
"Hey!" That finally got their attention. Within seconds their glowing began.
"We can argue and discuss all we like and come upon no answers. We have but three hours of privacy before the morning servants come. I for one am going to bed and I strongly urge you join me."
I felt bold, I'd been feeling bold since my last visit to the altar, and seeing the power I held over them, even in simple lust, was heading. "For I intend to experience more pleasure tonight and if I must do it alone, I will."
They were like perfect, glowing statues. All I could was turn and walk to the bed in the other room. I parted the curtains and glanced over my shoulder to see them watching.
Possessed by a spirit never known I leaned over the bed, raising my arse, and drawled onto the bed, slinking like a cat. They didn't move.
I rose to the challenge as I plumped the pillows and reclined on them. Stroking my hands up my legs I bent them and spread them, bringing my hands up to stroke my breasts.
My hands were cool, slim compared to what I was sued to feeling, but the heat in me was burning low and hot. I closed my eyes and let my fingers pluck at a plump nipple as my other hand smoothed down to my wet heat.
I stoked myself slowly at first, wanting to entice them, but my need grew too rapidly. I cried out in heated frustration, writhing with it, desperate for release, but it was a pale shadow of what I had known.
Suddenly the bed dipped and glowing golden and silver light so bright it was hot touched me. I opened my eyes to see them naked above me and then we became a tangle of lips and hands. I was not content to lay back and touched what I wanted when I wanted.
They felt so different and similar, so beautiful, so strong, and I memorized each line of definition with my lips and fingertips.
I raised their pleasure with my mouth ad hands, and when we had all reached a fevered pitch I offered my body to them.
They were rough with need and it was a thing of pure beauty. The pleasure was immense and driving, and passion claimed us all. The joy of climax was pure elation shared by us three, and when it passed we collapsed into a tangle of limbs and slept messily.
Too short a time later the door opened and Angoralt disappeared. I rolled over and hid my face in Elfgwyven's shoulder, desirous of more sleep.
Oh for the ability to sleep with both my husbands in the luxury of time, to wake, break our fast together, to make love before the day without fear of recriminations or breaking treaties.
"Come back before the noon meal," I grumbled, and the servants left us to sleep longer.
When I woke I was alone in bed. I stretched and found Elfgwyven awake, at the table, with food that smelled heavenly.
"It's midday, my sweet."
I smiled and went to the garderobe to take care of the necessary. When I emerged he was waiting for me. I was sore but replete and kissed him eagerly, free of shyness.
He kissed me back with a satisfied rumble but raised a brow when I seated myself, still naked. "What has gotten into you?"
"I am beginning to feel like my life has begun. I feel I am almost exactly where I want to be, and very much who I want to be. I am free, and comfortable, and have no wish to stuff myself into tight clothes at this very moment."
"Very well. I have dispatched some of the men as has Angoralt to collect specifics on the wolves. I want you to know we have put the order to only kill in defense and to capture one live."
I looked up from my plate of eggs and bacon fresh from the larder. "You did listen to me. Thank you."
"It's a terrible burden. They may have started as your people but they are monsters now."
"We can not know their motivations and until we can, I would prefer not to speculate."
"Fair enough, my sweet. So tonight your father returns and we shall make the announcement."
I smiled. "It will be a different affair than our wedding. In the religion of Angorland one may only have one spouse, but in the old religion of my people we may."
"You are the last of your people, at least, the last left human. Who will marry you?"
I smiled and reached for fresh baked dark bread and the honey pot. "There is a wise old woman my mother befriended. She knows the old ways."
"I thought only an Angorlandian priest can marry one here."
I smiled and filled my cup with watered wine. "It's good then to be the daughter of the king."
He laughed with me, truly sharing my joy.
I found Shara in the keep. Like the rest of her tiny village to the east she had fled the wolves for the safety of the keep.
There were so many people lined up at her small makeshift tent I had to set an appointment with the young boy guarding the flap, and then wander amongst my people before it was time. I had to smile; only old Shara would keep a queen waiting.
When the time I came I found her seated on a stool, so old and wizened that even sitting she had to lean on her staff. Her dress was more of a robe of green, the shades of the forest, and her hair was a surprisingly lustrous silver mane.
I left the two guards, one fey and one from my father's house, outside as I embraced her. Her wrinkled face split into a smile of blindingly white teeth and her green eyes sparkled.
"When last I saw you, you were naught but a little warrior and now I find a queen has deigned to call on me."
"How do you fare?"
"Sit, child, sit." She pointed to another stool and sat back down the few inches she had risen. "I am as well as anyone else, better I suppose. Here there is much fear and worry about supplies and my ability to calm that and the sicknesses that come with crowding have me working long hours, but I have time for you."
I found myself telling her everything, emphasizing the riddle and the night before with the lamenting wolf. All through it she chewed wild roots and listened with an active ear and sharp mind. When my tale ended she rose and shambled over to me, placing her hands on my stomach.
"You know you're with child, yes?"
Nothing she could have said would have stunned me more. No fey child had been born in hundreds of years, this wasn't possible.
I sat, staring, as she went to the small open chest and began to move her precious glass jars and tincture pots. She came back with a small charm, a pearl from the Far Eastern Sea, large and luminescent, on a long, slender, silver chain. Clasping the pearl were small figures and as she brought it to me I could see they were legendary creatures of fey.
"Relax, child and let me see for you."
She began to swing it slightly back and forth in front of me, the pearl swopping past my belly button, hidden in the new mixed dress my Seelie groom had conjured.
She smiled, wider and wider, and suddenly the pearl stopped motion violating natural law. "My child you carry two babes within you; boys, and they have different fathers."
I cried out in sudden panic. "No! But then the two kingdoms of Fey can never be one!"
She laughed, a rich sound more fitting a younger woman. "My child each babe has two fathers. It's magic."
I clasped her hand with desperation. "It's true? They both belong to me and both my husbands?"
She nodded. "Magic, and there you have the answer to your riddle."
"What do you mean?"
"I cannot tell you any more now, child, it is not the time. I would be most honored to marry you come the wedding."
I stood and hugged her, still reeling from the news. "Oh Shara, you must return to the castle with me. II want you at the feast tonight and with my father when I speak with him. Promise me you'll return with me."
"But child, I have so many people to see." She pulled back but I kept my arms on her shoulders and she clasped one with the hand holding that magical pearl.
"You will be richly rewarded for the service you do me."
"It's not the money but the aid I can give that sustains me."
"Come with me tonight and then after we speak with my father and feast you shall be restored her."
"Now that I can agree to. Now I can see there is a 'but' in your mind child, best tell me what cost I must pay."
"I only ask that you tell no one about the babes. I wish to tell my husbands this but I wish to wait until in the eyes of my people we are well and truly married."
"I understand child, but best guard your thoughts. The fey are wise, wiser than any of us can imagine."
I thought of the two men I loved so very much and placed a hand on my belly, which still felt flat though my heart was near full to bursting. "You do not know the half of it."
Her laughter trailed after us all the way back to the castle.