tagSci-Fi & FantasyFey World Ch. 19

Fey World Ch. 19

bymadam_noe©

Secrecy and sneakiness were two traits of politics my mother had always worked hard to shield me from. Arguably, this is what killed her. Had she used her maids as spies, perhaps she would have known what my step-mother had planned before it was too late. Since that day I had made of a study of lies, deceit, and treachery, refusing to calling political machinations as my father did. A lie was a lie in my book.

Never before had I understood how easy it was start down that slipping slope. In a short time I had granted us peace with the wolves, for the two kingdoms of fey and my father's kingdom. I had averted war and slaughter. One would think this would be enough, but no, not for my husbands. The Seelie and Unseelie King needed assurances.

And so in the night I slipped out claiming to seek Shara for some midwifery advice. I managed to slip my guards, and went down to the dungeons.

These weren't often used, only for prisoners awaiting execution, but such punishment was rare under my father's rein. It left the cells empty, only a handful of the smaller ones filled by looters and rapists who were preying on their fellow refugees, but the larger cells for higher treason were empty. It was fitting that there Shara and Thomas waited for me.

My childhood friend's handsome face was drawn, his bright eyes shining with unshed tears. "Anni-"

I cut him off with a hug. "We did what we had to do. I may be queen of Fey now, but I am still one of your people. My son will be your leader. I regret nothing, and neither should you."

He stepped back, still perturbed. "So you called me here tonight."

"It was not so hard to get him in, but getting him out may be another story." Shara said.

"I'll take care of it, but I have not long. Tomorrow we will strike an agreement between the North and Angorland. There my father may know the details of my assurances to you. When it comes time for my husbands to join us, they must not know."

"What? I cannot lie to two kings!"

"The gods have spoken. They are not to know I have been bitten. If you do this my father will put forth the call to Angorlandian women. Any women who wish to join you and bear you strong sons and fine daughters will be given gold and food, enough to help their husbands rebuild their estate."

Shock glowed on his face. "True peace, only women who are willing?"

I nodded.

"There's more. When I give birth, shortly after I will Turn. You must send an ambassador to Fey to guide me, one who is trustworthy and will stay with me until it is time to guide my sons."

"I will come."

"No," Shara shook her head. "That is not your path."

"She is right, Thomas. You must lead them as regent, my father will demand it. You will organize the North, keep it safe until my son arrives."

His face fell slightly, but he nodded, a good man, reasoning. What was his wolf like? I shook the sudden thought off as he spoke. "In turn we shall ask for an ambassador to Angorland and one from each other the three other kingdoms to the North. Safety must be assured."

"This is for tomorrow. But the true purpose of the ambassador to the Fey and the destiny of my sons as well must be guarded from my husbands. It is the will of the gods."

Thomas searched Shara's nodding, wizened face. "The gods know a lot of preventing war. Al right, I agree to this."

"Thank you." I gave him another hug, and with Shara's help I directed him to a special cell kept for treasonous members of the Angorlandian royal family. He would be safe there in the night, and in the morning it would be easy to recall him to the meeting without raising alarms.

I snuck back to my chambers without guard, desiring privacy, and so I used the old damp passage that led to a small door behind a bookcase.

The heavy shelves moved only when I pushed with all my might, and when it was halfway open it jerked as if lighter than air. My husbands stood there, swords drawn.

"Anni?"

"Hannah?"

"Down boys," I said with a yawn.

The swords disappeared with magic leaving me with only two impatient nearly immortal warriors. Daunting was the nicest word that came to mind.

"I wanted privacy so I..slipped my guard. I am safe in my father's house."

Elfgwyven took my hand and yanked me into a hug as Angoralt closed the bookcase. "The wolves are about."

"You know we are working towards peace. I am not afraid."

"Handy to know this is here," Angoralt said as he straightened the shelves. His muscles flexed as he moved the heavy, solid wood and books like nothing.

Joining the hug I was surrounded by sleepy, firm male, and all I could do was sigh. "I had some...private questions for Shara."

"Anni, you could have come to us." Elfgwyven drew back.

"I'm thirsty," I said, slightly embarrassed, for I did have many questions, but I wasn't sure they could answer them.

They drew me to the couch and settled me in like two fussing mothers, conjuring up water and fruit, though I had not asked for the latter. "Should I be consuming so many things wrought by magic?"

"Hannah, you are not fey. There have been rare pairings of humans and fey before, and over time we have learned that fey young require as much magical nourishment as they do of food and drink. This is the easiest way to give them that."

"In fact, all your food and drink should be of magic." Elfgwyven sat next to me and his arm wound over my shoulders, tangling easily with Angoralt's.

"Good to know. What else should I know as a human carrying fey young?"

"Well, we need to return to fey tomorrow, as soon as possible after the treaties are signed."

"If they are signed," Angoralt added. "First and foremost is Hannah's safety and the safety of our children."

I said nothing to this. Their questions would be answered in the morning. I simply finished the water. "Why such haste?"

"You're going to weaken. There will be lots of bed rest, that has been the case in the past."

I wondered just what the Gift, or Curse, whatever it was that would transform me after I gave birth, would do for me. "How long?"

Elfgwyven smiled. "Fey births take less time than human, but for such pairings it is somewhere in between. Six, perhaps seven human months."

"We'll see. My people are not ones for bed rest."

"Hannah, we'll do whatever it takes to keep you and the babes safe."

I set my empty goblet down on the floor. "Well, if I am to be condemned to languish in bed, I expect I won't be alone."

I kissed Angoralt deeply, my hands seeking them both out, feeling their chests. They had dressed, and I wished they hadn't. I wanted to see their glowing forms, those flowing lines of their hard bodies around me.

Breaking, I turned to Elfgwyven and drew him to me. His lips were soft as well, his taste different, and through my closed lids I saw his golden glow join Angoralt's dancing golden aura.

I may have started it, but their need rose quickly and soon their hands covered me. Clothes disappeared as they touched and cupped, and I sought what I could. They were so warm, their lips soft and firm on mine and my body.

Elfgwyven's fingers trailed down to tease me, sinking in as Angoralt's teeth pulled my nipple gently. I cried out, boneless and needy.

We became a tangle then, lips, teeth, fingers, and at long last cocks. It was late, we were tired, but our passion was high. I rode Angoralt and took Elfgwyven into my mouth, then he mounted me as I licked my own juices from Angoralt's thick cock.

I lost count of my peaks, weakening with each one, falling into dark spiraling need until we climaxed together, our bodies pressed tight, me sandwiched between them, and at long last the aching, burning need was sated.

Thank the gods for magic, was my last thought, as I fell asleep between them, in bed, cleaned and dressed once more.

For the first night since I could remember, I had no dreams.

***

It was my job to watch Pietyr that morning, and controlling an eager young man with his first glimpse of a werewolf was no easy task.

I had produced Thomas who sat now at the far end of the table in my father's private dining hall, surrounded by guards with spears pointed.

At the other end my father sat with his advisors, behind him along the wall was my step-mother, Pietyr between us, and me. My father wanted his son and heir to be present at such a historic moment, and me for obvious reasons.

Thomas had come prepared the night before. He had the signatures of all remaining jarls. The details were boring and as regent myself I did my best to pay attention, but Pietyr's antics were far more entertaining.

The conditions for a truce between the North and Angorland were straightforward. The wolves would withdraw, leaving a small force behind that would swear fealty to my father. They would police any rogues that remained, attaining special status as sheriffs, and when they were not hunting they would guard the shore.

My father would put forth the proclamation that any woman of good health could sail with them and marry by mutual consent any wolf. If she was of childbearing age she would have a hundred gold pieces, if she was older and childless she would have fifty, and if she was older and bringing willing children they would have seventy-five. A force of one hundred volunteer soldiers would accompany them and see them safe, reporting back.

The wolves would resume the structure of my childhood. Jarls would rule over clans and towns, but a supreme leader would be established. Thomas would rule by proxy until my son came.

The North would defend their shore from invaders but any attack upon an Angorlandian would revoke the treaty. Thomas, my father, and I all signed this as the interested parties.

Now it came time for the Fey kings to join us.

"Thank you, my advisors, but I ask that you leave as your business is concluded." My father stood as did we all in courtesy. The soldiers around Thomas flinched, though he was most docile. Laws and treaties might be forged today, I thought, but true peace would be long in coming.

"You too, Pietyr. Wife, see him out."

"f she stays, I stay," my step-mother said, pointing to me.

"Aw, I wanna see the faries!"

"Pietyr, they are fey," I murmured, ruffling his hair.

"I have spoken," My father thundered.

Glaring, my step-mother grabbed Pietyr's hand and lead him from the dark room. We remained standing until they shut the heavy wooden door to the royal rooms behind them, and then my father turned to me.

"Thomas says he has a surprise for you."

"Oh?"

"Come, sit by me daughter."

He held a chair out for me and when I sat they did as well, the guards remained warily on their feet.

"Your holy woman Shara has had a vision. She is to wed the brother of Jarl Jorgen, Karl Istan. I have selected Karl to be the ambassador to faerie."

My heart hammered. "But she is so...old!" there was no more polite way to say it.

"She has seen she will survive it, and our...gift will keep her vital and healthy."

"Oh, Thomas, thank you!"

My father smiled and patted my hand, shifting his grand robes. "Now we're all agreed. No mention of my daughter's son being your king when the fey kings are present."

"None. Only of what concessions they demand."

"I agree to this, but before your husbands arrive, Queen Hannah, I do ask you sign an agreement I can take to the Jarls."

Thomas produced a document and slid it over. I grabbed it, raised from my chair, and our fingers brushed. A charge was there, a feeling similar to what I felt before a thunderstorm, a kind of energy that he had too. It was true, I realized with a blink. I was a wolf too.

Thomas' blue eyes met mine in recognition, but we said nothing and sat. I read the agreement, and it was straightforward. My father read it too and nodded. I signed with his pen and my father witnessed it. Thomas signed it too and placed thin paper over the wet ink before rolling it up to place in his cloak.

"I am ready if you are."

My father sent a guard to the doors and in filed my husbands with their prime ministers, Marchal and Roragon. Behind them came their guards, four each, their captains at the head. The officials stood at the sides of the table and my husbands glared at Thomas as we rose, the soldiers filing along the wall, glaring as well.

"King Angoralt and King Elfgwyven, you remember my father, and this is my childhood friend Thomas the Wise. Thomas, my husbands, the kings of fey, and their prime ministers Marchal and Roragon."

"Wolf," Angoralt said.

Thomas was of an equal height to Elfgwyven and did not flinch at the more muscular king's insult. "Fey," he replied dryly.

I remained standing and walked around them to stand just behind Thomas, resting my hand on his shoulder. "Husbands, this man is an old friend. I knew him when I was small and I think of him as a brother. He is here today to make peace. For the sake of your kingdoms, for me, we must exercise patience and hear him out."

"Daughter, well-spoken. You are a true queen." My feather beamed at me, and I found myself blushing under his regard. I knew not to look at my husbands or the blush would deepen, and so I strode quickly to my seat and claimed it so the rest would sit as well.

"Kings, Thomas has words he wishes to share with you. Do you consent?"

Elfgwyven nodded with a tight jaw, and Angoralt's was even more slight.

"First I wish to explain our recent sordid history. There is a man, Qi Lon, the locals call him, a very old, powerful sorcerer on the western shores of the East. We sailed for the reasons our people have taken to the sea, but one amongst us took it upon himself to steal one of Qi Lon's wives. The old wizard did not take kindly to this, and so he gave us a 'gift' of legend. He turned the men into wolves, and as more came, more turned.

"Women sailed too, but in his rage over the death of his youngest wife, Qi Lon killed them. Even when we sailed in small parties back to our shores to claim then, Qi Lon saw to their deaths.

"One of our jarl's, Erik The Grand, slew him at last. We had heard that Queen Hannah was safe in Angorland and we set sail before the wedding. Our hope was that she would join us, but we have never been a well organized people, and since becoming two-natured it has worsened. We arrived too late and split into two groups, rogues and clans. The clans have been hunting the rogues, those are the ones who kill humans, the ones who have hunted you, Queen Hannah.

"Now we have signed a treaty with Angorland." He went on to describe the accords that had been struck, my father and I nodding along, the fey listening intently.

When it ended my husbands looked to one another intently before Elfgwyven addressed Thomas. "So you will guarantee peace, and most importantly no harm will come to my wife?"

"Or to any children she might bear?"

Thomas eyes flicked to mine quickly, drawing back down. "No harm shall ever be performed by a clan member. Rogues are being hunted down, but I would suggest that your queen is safest in your lands."

"Swear to it," Angoralt said, asking for an unbreakable oath. A fey could make or demand one, but I know Thomas could not promise it.

I stood quickly, slightly irritated by the custom that made everyone rise, my father included. "Thomas has sworn to me, in a ceremony of our people. I have given my consent to a treaty."

I sat down, my father's hand covering mine, and the fey stared at me. The prime ministers and guards looked at me as if I had jumped on the table and transformed into a wolf before their very eyes, while my husbands stared at me with reproach and temper. I had finally made them mad.

Ratcheting my chin up I gave them an even look. I had never asked to be a queen, but I was a queen of two realms, a princess of another, and an unofficial queen of a fourth. I outranked them all and I wanted this done and settled. The sooner a treaty was signed, the sooner I could escape and figure out how best to hide my secret.

The room exploded into tense discussion, and I relaxed. Now came the boring part. My father had made sure that Pietyr and I had sat in our fair share of such meetings so we understood the process and all the terms bandied about, but that didn't make it any less boring.

Food was brought in. Angoralt surreptitiously served my plate, substituting magical sustenance for Angorlandian fare. Everyone watched Thomas as if expecting a whole sheep to be on his plate, but he ate the same full cooked mutton stew, warm bread, sharp cheese, and dried fruit as they all did.

They worked long into the evening, through another meal, and at last the terms were struck. A Seelie and Unseelie ambassador would live with the Angorlandians and a small Fey guard, and the old wolf and Shara were acceptable for the immediate time.

My husbands had not explained just how we would live in Faerie. I would likely not be able to move back and forth between kingdoms and I longed to ask just how this would be done, but it was not the time.

It was agreed the next day there would be a festival for the wolves and Angorlandian volunteers to meet, but that night the royals would return to Faerie. The prime ministers would stay behind to oversee the pairings.

My husbands covered for my condition nicely, but it drew strange looks from the others. I was excused to say my goodbyes and I left with pointed looks to Thomas and my father.

Angorlandian guards walked me through the apartments to find Pietyr. He was dressed for bed, sitting beside the fire with a book, yawning.

"Brother," I said by greeting, ruffling his hair as I sat in the chair next to him on the floor.

"What happened?"

I explained and he fairly danced. "It's not fair! Fey and a werewolf in the castle and I'm stuck here!"

"I escaped the boredom to find you, count yourself lucky. What are you reading?"

He closed the book on the strip of ribbon marking his lace and handed it to me. "A Natural history of Fairies," I read. "When peace has been reached here I will ask father to let you visit me. I would be most honored if the future Angorlandian king were there for the birth of his nephews."

"Me? In Faerie!?!" His eyes widened like saucers and I laughed. He would be a very good king some day, always full of curious excitement yet even temper for a boy his age.

"Indeed. You'll always be welcome in our home. I must return tonight, and so we have this time to ay goodbye."

He moved to sit in my lap as he often had, but he was big now, so I stood to hug him, trying to cover my awkward rebuff. "I love you, Pietyr. Now you practice at your swords, someone will have t teach my sons how an Angorlandian knight wields his sword."

"I'll practice every day! Lord Havershim has asked me to be his page."

"Wonderful!"

"Isn't this nice," his mother said, entering. She was still dressed, red ribbons worked through the scarlet cloth of her dress and ermine trim everywhere. It was her nicest dress, one worn for diplomatic meetings. She'd worn it earlier but should have changed.

"Another head of state running around here?"

Her eyebrow jerked up. "You're leaving. Good. Take your poof kings and this twaddle with you." She jerked the book from my hand and threw it into the fire.

"Hey!" Pietyr cried, and I held him back from going after it.

"I'll find a guide written by actual fey and send it back, care of our father," I said, glaring at the bitch.

She raised her nose with all the practiced derision of a lifelong courtier. "Run away, little whore queen, leave us Angorlandians to deal with your wolves."

"Hey!"

"Pietyr, go to bed."

"But Anni-"

"I love you. Now go to bed."

He hugged me and then slipped out, eyeing us warily. I kept my eyes on my step-mother, waiting until the doo closed behind him to speak. "Who did you meet with tonight?"

I could smell it on her, a musk like what Thomas no possessed but different, the scent of wolf, a different wolf.

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