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Beyond the Myst
He had never seen anyone like her before in his life. Her hair was almost green in the pale forest light, and her eyes shown a dark, mysterious violet. She wore only a deep purple robe, which billowed around gossamer wings that were almost invisible on her back. Finally, the piece that proved her rank was the pure Onyx crown rested upon her head. “Cease the gawking and ask your question, Mortal!” Her voice boomed through both the forest, and his head, causing the man to startle a bit.
“I am Ceiran of the Brannik Clan, O’Mighty Queen, and I have come to seek blessing for my son to be born child.” He harshened his voice, trying not to show fear as he spoke, though the hand that was tight on his sword hit was shaking slightly. He calmed himself down, though, not wanting to show fear or weakness before the great and dangerous Sidhe Queen.
Her violet gaze caught Ceiran’s, and she smirked. It was an evil smirk, though, that chilled the man to his core. “With every blessing comes a price, a favor from yourself in exchange for my gift. The favor will come as I see fit. Do you expect my terms, mortal?” The man gave a simple nod. He would do anything to get a sacred blessing for his first child. The Queen smiled more at my acceptance. “Very well. I give your oncoming son the gift of never-ending health. He will never grow ill, never break a bone, and obtain not even a bruise. Now go, Ceiran of the Brannik’s, to your wife. The child of whom we speak will come to this word three days hence, you must make haste.”
The words seemed to shock Ceiran to his core, and he turned without a further glance to the dark and evil beauty behind him. He was simply overjoyed though. His son would be the healthiest man in all of Ireland, and that was certainly something to be proud of, and it would all be because of his loving Da.
The Queen remained, hovering over the circle of mushrooms until a mist fell over the woods. Every creature that lived fell at that moment, going with the birth of the Dark Myst. Plants withered and lost all color, animals collapsed, their breathing ceased, little by little, until only the bright orange of the toadstools stood vibrant and clear. “Robin! Aoibheal!” Out of the Myst, two figures of light formed. The first, a short, grotesque, man-creature with horns poking out beneath leafy hair, as well as two pointed ears below them. The second was a female, and quite the opposite of the male. Fair hair fell down thin, pale shoulders, flowing down a billowing brown dress, which much resembled a grain sac. One would have thought that she was human, if it was not for the pointy ears, or the coppery wings that jutted from her slender back. The pair gave Tatiana respectful bows, while the woman gave a wave of her hand. “Go to the nearest village and look for the Brannik’s. Take the newborn from the Maid Bradhadair and bring him to me.” Her arms outstretched to the pair, the Myst floating around grimy fingers, forming a small bundle. “Exchange him for this, but let no one know of your trickery. Though the mortals are so blind, I doubt they would notice the difference.” The Queen set the bundle in the male’s arms, not bothering with any care towards the creature beneath the blanket. “Now go with all haste, my minions, the foolish mortal is quick on his feet. “ The pair nodded once more before they disappeared, leaving the Myst behind them.
Bradhadair of the Brannik’s was sitting by the hearth, the newborn baby in her arms, when a knock came to her door. With no questions she set the baby in his basket, going to greet whoever was calling at this late hour. Robin and Aoibheal took this opportunity to make the switch. The fair Sidhe lifted the infant from his holder, while Robin simply dropped the Changeling child into the basket none-too-gently. The infant howled and cried, causing Bradhadair to turn away from the door. There had been no one calling anyways, so she rushed to her son’s side. Tiny arms flailed as the infant screamed and hollered. The woman bent down, lifting the baby into her arms, trying to rock him to sleep. “Hush now, Little Laddie.” She whispered to him, trying to soothe whatever was paining her child, oblivious to the laughter of the Fey pair.
It was nearly a full day later when Ceiran burst through the door. It was mid-afternoon, but Bradhadair and the infant were asleep in a wooden chair, multiple furs wrapped around them to guard against the cold. Ceiran was speechless. The Sidhe Queen had said three days until the baby was born, but here was not, not yet a full day later than the spoken words, and the baby already looked days old. The Queen had lied to him, but why? As he approached, he got his answer. Bite marks covered his wife’s face, neck, and chest, most of them fresh. He knelt down beside his wife, running a hand through her hair. He was going to ask himself what had left the marks when he looked to the infant, seeing the light of the hearth reflect off of something. The infant’s mouth was slightly ajar, revealing rows of razor sharp teeth. Anger made his blood run hot before he howled in rage.
The noise caused Bradhadair to awaken, as well as the infant. “Ceiran! What is the meaning of this?!” She tried to calm the screaming infant while trying to avoid his teeth, which were now snapping at her neck.
“We have been tricked! Deceived! That monster is not our child. The treacherous Sidhe Queen has stolen my son!” He continued to rage while his wife attempted to calm the monster child. She stood, taking the Changeling to the crib. She dropped it in to the basket non-too-gently, trying to dodge the deadly teeth in the process. Ceiran was outraged. He picked up the crib, taking it into the back room. Without a second glance, he kicked the door shut, trapping the child inside. There was a glare set on the male’s face as he moved back to the hearth, grabbing the hot kettle over the flame with his bare hands. He reached inside, grabbing the meat from the bottom, and stuffed it in his pack, along with a few slices of bread. “This treachery will not go unpunished.” His words were harsh, almost coming out in a growl as he strapped his sword belt ‘round his hips. He gave a final look to Bradhadair before giving her a gentle kiss to the forehead.
“You’re most devious Grace! The human returns! Your trick is found out too soon!” The gangly Fey with the horns jumped up and down in distress, almost like a monkey would. The fair haired Fey gave a simple sigh before she gave the male a firm swat to the head.
“Calm yourself, Puck! Our Lady Queen had not yet returned. Mayhap she will catch the mortal on his way here.” The male nodded as he rubbed his head. “Plus, the Queen knows all, she will give us instructions.” As if on cue, a soft, treacherous voice filled their minds.
“Distract the mortal man. His family is mine.
Puck looked around, trying to find the voice, while Aoibheal rolled her eyes, giving him yet another swat to the head. The Goblin cursed loudly before he stood tall at his partner’s words. “Stand proud and firm, Puck, the human approaches.”
Ceiran surged through the woods, straight into the circle of mushrooms. In a brief flash of light he found himself stuck in the In-Between, and face to face with a small, grimy male, and a beautiful, yet viper-esque female. “Bring me the Sidhe Queen! I want my child returned to me at once!” His voice boomed, causing the trees to shake, as well as little Puck.
“Aoi…He frightens me even more than her Majesty does, and that ‘tis a hard task!” Aoibheal reached down, placing a hand on Puck’s head. She gave him a motherly smile of encouragement, which Ceiran took quick advantage of.
“Please, Maiden of the Sidhe. My infant Laddie is my only. My first son, and my last, I fear. Please return to me what is mine.” He watched as compassion filled the woman’s eyes. Puck was watching too, shocked that such a kind heart was hidden behind a trickster façade.
“I cannot do what you ask of me. Your son is hidden in the Queen’s Tower. I am not the Queen; I have no way to access it.” There was sorrow in her voice and eyes as she looked to Ceiran. “I am sorry…” Aoibheal’s voice was cut off by a louder one filled with venom and spite.
The trio turned to see Tatiana in the clearing, the Dark Myst surrounding her, almost shielding the woman she held by the throat. “Traitor!” The Dark Queen pointed a finger at the other female. “You would give away what I have earned?! The child is mine!” The Queen’s voice placed fear into all surrounding hearts, until Ceiran saw the face of the Queen’s captive.
“Bradhadair!” Fury filled him as he pulled his sword from its sheath, aiming the blade directly at the Dark Queen. “No longer will you steal. No longer will you hurt. No longer will you kill, you treacherous, venomous wench!” Anger laced his words as he took his first steps towards Tatiana. The Queen gave a growl and held out her hand, sending a wave of the Dark Myst towards Ceiran. When it washed over him, he simply laughed as he emerged unscathed.
“How?! What are you, Ceiran of the Brannik’s?!” The Queen’s words were laced with uncharacteristic shock and fear.
A smirk crossed Ceiran’s face as he and his sword advanced. “Do you not remember, O’All-Knowing-Sidhe-Queen?” He laughed yet again as he spoke. “My gift was a unique one, since my father was unique.” He paused for a moment as he reached the Queen, the tip of his sword at her throat. “My father was Ulean Brannik, and you made it so no magic user could harm me. You wanted your grandson protected.” The shock and realization filled Titania’s eyes seconds before Ceiran’s sword made the final blow. He sneered in disgust as he looked at the head now rolling by his feet. “My father hated you with good reason, Grandmother.”
“Aoi! What’s happening?” Puck’s voice snapped Ceiran back to reality. A bright light was surrounding Aoibheal, dispelling all traces of the Dark Myst. Copper wings were replaced by violet, brown sac replaced with a flowing gown the color of lavender. The mortal looked to his feet, where Titania’s Dark Crown began to glow. He bent down, lifting it from the severed head. The dark steel shifted to a white gold in his touch, small silver flowers lacing their way through it. Puck lowered his head in a bow as Ceiran placed the crown on Aoibheal’s head. “Let all rejoice in the crowning of a new Queen!” Puck’s voice rang out as he transported them all to Fairy.
“Ceiran.” The male stood at the words, turning to face the new Queen. “Your son will be returned to you, and you may go to your wife when you wish.” She smiled to him, placing a hand on his head. The male simply stood for a moment, contemplating the decision.
“My Fair Sidhe Queen. My son and I bear the blood of the Fair Folk. With your permission, we will stay.”