fae

~~~Jameen~~~



Glacial drops of water rained onto my head from the ceiling of my cavern cell. The rhythmic spattering keeping me focused while searing pain coursed through my body. My daily ritual of flexing my fingers and gritting my teeth did nothing to abate this hellish torture that attempted to split my soul in two. No, it only got worse. So much so, that the groans I had promised myself I would never give ‘them’ the chance to hear; finally left my throat.



The guttural sounds echoed off the walls of this cave-like prison, signaling I had finally given them what they wanted, which I was sure was my complete and utter despair. Every day the separation grew more intense, leaving me weaker, powerless, a failure to my people, and to my love. I rotted away in this dank, shadowy cave, year after year; I became less of a person and more of a body in which they took from. My captors, Lygos and his mistress, of whom I called the Cloak, were the epitome of devilry, nothing more than mindless whores for power.



In the beginning of my stay here, I had tried to escape, using what power I had left after the initial attack against me, to try and flee my confines. But in the end, it was of no use, and I learned that their black magic was stronger in numbers against me. There were no plans to flee anymore, no one was coming to my rescue, and little by little I lost my faith in the Great Mother. Why would she allow this to be? Why would she let my Jillian die? Why would she never let me know the boy that was my own flesh and blood?



The Mother was everything to the world, but suddenly, she became nothing to me. This great and powerful deity, that held every scrap of life in her ancient hands, made no move to help her own child. I had been her warrior, a protector and provider for her people, my heart and soul were with her always, and yet she denied me now. As a warrior, I had been dignified and proud, but now I was hopeless and nothing more than skin and bones. The tears fell and the last of my manhood slipped into the dark void where my heart used to be.



Weeping was beneath what came from me as the pain stopped. I broke apart screaming and writhing, my wrists were raw from the animalistic thrashing. I felt my Jillian’s soul begin to leave this earth, lost to me forever. The mist infused manacles clanked violently away from the rock wall and I howled at the shadowy barrier that sealed this end of the cavern.



Where are you Great One? Why have you forsaken me! I fell to my knees, threw back my head, and screamed the cry of a lost soul. Just kill me! Please! I begged for her to answer me, whisper in my ear, or send me a sign that this was all a mistake. What have I done to deserve this life? A warm breeze stole my hoarse cries, settling around me with the strangest sense of security.



My eyes widened and I whipped my head around the dim earthy room, looking for something out of place. Surely after all this time, it could not be her. The warmth grew stronger, relaxing my shaking body until I was leaning back against the wall.



“Are you there?” I breathed, afraid of what I would hear.



Small footprints appeared in the earth, walking towards me. I held my breath and clutched my knees to my chest. The imprints on the dirty cave floor stopped at my toes. Warm air, in the form of invisible fingers, ran down my cheek and over my drying tears.



A chilling whisper came next to my ear, “Never question the creator of the grass and the sun. Never ponder whether your Mother loves you and watches over you. Your pain is my pain, your heart is my heart, and I carry it with me always. To walk the earth is a gift of which I have given you and I make no mistakes. Things must happen for a reason my child, even if the journey to your answers is a burden you don’t think you can bare. Have faith in yourself and you shall have faith in me. Show me my warrior and I will give you her light.”



“What does that mean?” I answered frantically, searching the air for her with my aching fingers.



Something like a kiss was pressed between my eyes, a heated tingle left on my skin. Be strong my son. All the heat that had built within my confines vanished, replaced with the dreary cold yet again. I flinched at the abrupt change and the footfalls of heavy boots nearing. Taking a deep breath, I stretched, cracking my spine, and rolling my neck. I remained on the floor with my legs in front of me, letting my arms hang at my sides.



The wall of mist parted, creating an opening for Lygos and his cloaked consort. He studied me for a few moments as I looked into the black slits of his eyes. I had seen some Fae that would be considered comparable to a nightmare, but never had I seen a being so ugly. Lygos was completely hairless, his face nothing more than skin pulled tight over ill-sculpted bone. His cheeks were hollow with a flat swine reminiscent nose centering his face. In short he was disgusting, and when he pulled his chapped lips back, showcasing his decaying teeth with a grin, my stomach rolled, the non-existent contents threatening to come up.



“This is rich,” Lygos bellowed, the sound vibrating around the flesh of his pudgy belly.



“The Prince of Fae with tears running down his cheeks like a fucking babe. What happened to…What was it darling?” He turned with a smile to the darkness behind him.



“Oh, yes I remember now. ‘You’ll never break me, you pig faced bastard’,” Lygos ended with a wicked cackle. “What do you say now little babe?” The ogre of a man crouched to my eye level, his leather pants squeaking under his displaced weight.



“Do you remember what I said when I first brought you here, Jameen of Fae?” He cocked his head waiting for my reply, but I didn’t answer him.



“Let me refresh your memory then. I believe I said that when I broke you, I would show you the torment you caused me when you killed my sister,” He licked his grimy teeth.



I couldn’t stand him or his accusations any longer and I jumped at him, landing on my feet in a crouch like a feral cat. Maybe I had no power and I was of a human standard at this point, but I couldn’t give in to him…I just couldn’t. My body was on fire, the countless beatings and daily surges of ‘separation anxiety’ having taken their toll. I stood fast though, never flinching as he brought his face within inches of mine.



“Your sister was greedy. Although her death was not by my hand, I am not sorry for what my people did to her. She abused her gift for power, not to protect those weaker than her. The shadows are created of the darkness, but with the right person, and a pure heart, they can be tamed. She was never going to change and the Fae court knew that. She would never be that right person. Her mind was set on the destruction of my people and I could not stand at her side a minute longer. I hated her and even still, I hate her now…” I seethed.



He slapped me with the back of his hand and blood filled my mouth. I spit it out and hissed like the animal I had become. We stood off, my chains still binding me to the wall, with only the slightest bit of slack to work with.



“Enough,” Cloak’s raspy voice haunted our ears. She was in glamour. That much I knew to be true. Her voice was not the one she was born with, but then again nothing about her was all that met the eye. Even though I was powerless, I still recognized her as Fae, and more importantly a traitor to our kind.



Thick yards of folded velvet flowed across the floor, the slithering sound as she crossed the dirt made me shudder. Her covering was equivalent to something out of a gothic fairy tale, dark greens fading into black, and shimmering like a snake as she passed the lone torch in my cell. The train of her hooded cloak splayed around her small figure, making the garment all the more eerie. One would have the impression that if the hood was pulled off, the face of darkness itself would stare back at you.



Crimson painted lips were visible as she motioned Lygos away from me, “You are so broken little one.” A lone, onyx lacquered nail scraped gently down my jaw. “And now that you have given up, I have my way into your mind and body.”



What is she talking about? My eyes were questioning and she noticed, grasping my chin in her painted clutches, and turning me to face her, “I will remember this moment for the rest of my days. When I sit on the throne of Fae and watch you all suffer at my feet, I will remember this look on your face with joy in my heart.”



With her free hand, she pulled the hood back, letting her glamour slip away. NO! This isn’t real, she’s…It can’t be…



“Traitor…” I whispered in shock, all this time, it was her.



“You cannot be a traitor to someone you never served,” She laughed, her voice smooth now, melodic even.



Skeenji…” It was the only word that I could think of. That’s why they had waited all this time, not to kill me, or use my powers, but to use my body as a puppet and gain access into Fae under their control. This was bad, worse than anything I could have imagined.



“At least you have some intelligence left over after all these years. Now, look into my eyes Jameen…” Her voice soft and inviting, her hands cupped either side of my face.



“No, please,” It was the last thing I remembered saying of my own accord, before she took over my body, and I was left to cower in the dark, within the farthest corner of my mind.



~~~Vendish~~~



Jordan was growling in my arms, his back arched with his nails digging into my sides. The sharp pain was nothing to me, my concern for my beloved superseding all else around me. I held him around the waist, keeping his thrashing to a minimum, while his growling turned to small whimpers.



“Hold on my love,” I begged, clutching him to me while lifting his weight to stand.



“Vendish! What are you doing?” Kimella shrieked, still put off by the shadows. I did not care for her sudden prejudice or her nearness. She was becoming more of an irritation than anything. Lucy wiped her eyes on her arm. She took a deep breath and pushed her mother out of the room, slamming the door in her face.



“Tell me what you need my Lord,” She bowed slightly and I nodded.



“I think the water will help him some. While I tend to him, have Rosie make something to eat, and make sure that the King and the other leaders are taken care of when they arrive. Call in others of the court if you need any help. For now, I want no one in this room, not even Guardwin himself. Am I clear Luciana?” I narrowed my eyes and Jordan groaned, the shadows moving down his face to his chest. Hang on my Telija, please…



“Yes, my Lord,” Lucy lifted her head from a short bow. “Please take care of him. We may not get a long all the time, but he is my best friend, and like a brother to me.”



“He is my mate Luciana, I will care for him the best I know how, for he is the most precious thing in the world to me,” I spared her not another word and took my love into the bath room.



Prismatic glass shimmered from above as the last of the fading sun swept over the horizon. My bath was large enough to be considered a small pool, with natural stone and crystals forming the basin. Water filled into the bath the moment I set Jordan onto the floor, his powers subconsciously being called forth. I ripped his wet clothing from his body, gasping at the sight before me.



While his body was smooth and perfect, that was not the reason for my shock. The shadows formed on his skin, stilling their movements into thick tribal patterns around his arms and chest. Vibrant blue vines twisted in between each ribbon of black before finally stopping altogether. Jordan’s eyes faded from black to teal, his body going limp under my fingers.



I was quickly becoming a mess, watching his transformation into something unknown. There wasn’t much I could do for him, except to stay near and comfort him. I know he needed me as much as I needed him, and my thoughts were confirmed when his thin fingers brushed my hand, searching for me. Bending down, I laid a kiss upon his brow, smoothing his damp hair away from his face.



“If you can hear me Jordan, I’m just going to remove these wet clothes, and put you in the water. Don’t try and move alright?” His fingers reached towards my face and I cupped his hand with mine.



“Everything is going to be alright, don’t worry my Telija.” The bath had filled and a light steam rose from the water.



I unbuckled Jordan’s belt and gently tugged his slacks down his legs, avoiding staring at his groin in his helpless state. He whimpered and tried to turn on his side, to hide his naked body from me in shame. Stroking his side in encouragement, I leaned down and whispered in his ear, “You are beautiful Jordan, but now is not the time for that. I just want to take care of you and put you in the bath. Please let me do this.”



My hand moved from his side, stroking over his belly in slow circles until finally he lay on his back. I smiled and pulled his soaking wet socks from his feet, tossing them into the corner, before moving back up to his briefs. Staring into his eyes to distract him, my fingers hooked into the band of material and pulled down.



Jordan swallowed and his bottom lip trembled, but he didn’t pull away. I sat back on my heels to pull the remaining garment off him completely, sighing at his new tattoos. What did this mean? Was he the master of the shadows now and if so, where was his staff? Meeka had a staff, but it disappeared when she died. Jordan tapped my hand, my train of thought lost.



Despite my stress over Jordan, I put on a mask that included a gentle smile to lift him under his back and knees. His body weighed nothing in my arms as I carried him a few feet to the bath. I placed him in the water and for the first time in what seemed an eternity, he sighed with relief. Jordan floated on the surface, like a leaf floated on a lake, and he seemed perfectly at ease. Even if he could speak at the moment, he didn’t. He just relaxed and let his body recover.



The water lapped at him soothingly while I began to strip out of my wet clothing. His eyes were shut, so I didn’t worry about his reaction to what I was doing. With my clothes around my feet, I took a deep breath and joined Jordan in the bath. He startled, swishing his arms around, teal eyes searching for the source of disturbance. I sat down in the water directly behind him and pulled him to me.



“Vendish?” He turned in my embrace, his eyed wide.



I smiled and cupped his face, “How are you feeling?” Jordan flustered, trying his hardest not to look down. Obviously he was conflicted with the fact that we were both entirely nude, but I on the other hand, had no problem with it whatsoever.



“I…um…don’t know,” His eyes roamed my bare chest, flicking back up to my face with a blush.



I grabbed his arm and raised it in front of his face, waiting for him to see his markings and maybe distract him in the process.



“What the hell?” His eyes bugged, making him look even more inhuman. He flipped his arm this way and that. Jordan raised his other arm, giving it the same treatment as the first.



“What is this Vendish? Oh my God, what’s happening to me?” The last words were muffled as he broke into tears and buried his face in my chest. “My mom is gone…She’s gone…”



My heart raced for him, not because he clung to me naked, but because he was so upset. I rocked him gently, watching the water around us start to rise in tiny beads. He had no idea what he was doing with the water, and I didn’t say anything, he would figure it out in time. The little droplets filled the air, attaching themselves to his skin like small kisses. They spread out along his body and connected, causing Jordan to sit up straight and gasp.



It was the last sound he made as the droplets covered his skin completely and he broke apart in a splash of liquid. I sat back and watched while Jordan turned into water with a smile. It was like a parent watching their wee one walk for the first time. He emerged from the bath whole once more, completely stunned and no longer crying.



“Okay whoever the fuck is up there you listen to me!” He shouted at the ceiling. “Just stop it! I can’t handle it anymore. I’m tired, I’m pissed off, and I’ve got black stripes growing on me, so if you could just lay the hell off for a while that would be great!” He turned to me, “Do I say amen or something?”



My lips drew tight to hold back the laugh I wanted to answer him with. I shook my head instead and he sighed heavily, falling back against me. He seemed to have gotten over our state of undress and nuzzled under my chin.



“Jordan, look at me…” I whispered into his ear. His ocean like eyes stared at me and I sighed at his beauty. “I want you to know that I am so sorry about your mother’s passing, that I am here for you in any way you need, and that together we will get through this.” I stroked a thumb over his lips.



He nodded, “You aren’t gonna leave me right? I mean you’ll help me with this?” He motioned at his arms and chest. I nodded and pulled him to me.



“It would take the destruction of the earth to keep me from you my Telija,” His face was inches from mine and he straddled my lap. “Like I said, I will help you in any way I can.”



“Will they go away, theses marks?” He asked and I shook my head.



“I think they are permanent, as are most Fae markings,” I kissed his forehead. “You should be proud to be marked. It is a great honor from the Mother herself.”



“I don’t think so Ven. When I was out, all I could feel was pain, like I was being burned alive. All I could think of was how angry I was, how he hurt her, and how she’s gone. Something inside of me is alive and it wants out. Tell me why the Mother of the earth would give me something so…evil.”



This was new territory for me. It was the first time that I did not possess a sure answer for him. With my education on Fae culture, I figured that I had the upper hand, enough information to keep him safe and share with him what he needed to know. And yet here I was, feeling helpless while he suffered.



I stroked his back, “May I be honest with you?”



“Please…” He gripped my shoulder, his face begging me.



“I’ve never seen markings like these in all my life or in any of our historical references. Jordan, I do not know what they mean exactly, but I do know that they are shadow based. When you were ‘transitioning’ shall we say, the shadows were dancing along your skin, so that much we can say for sure. What’s even stranger is that no one in your family has ever possessed them, actually no one since Meeka has ever controlled the shadows. Before her it had been thousands of years since anyone had heard of them.” I shook my head and looked away.



Jordan turned my face to meet his gaze, “Be straight with me Vendish, am I going to be evil now? Like Meeka? Will I lose control and hurt someone?”



My eyes narrowed and I pulled him flush with my chest, our groins pressed against one another, “You will never be evil my love. Your heart it too pure and the shadows can be controlled. I will not let you lose yourself within them. You are too precious to me to let go.”



Jordan trembled in my embrace, his lip quivered, and a tear slipped out of the corner of his eye. He laid his head on my shoulder and I just held him. He was so overwhelmed, it was all too much, and I cried inside that it had to be this way. No one should ever have to know a day like this.



“What about my Dad? What are they gonna do about him?” Jordan whispered.



Jamie was like a brother to me. We had been born but days apart, forever at each others side. In battle, in friendship, in life we were connected. Yet, now I was divided. Here was my mate, my best friend’s son, mourning because Jamie had left him, only to reappear and attack his own kind? No. Something was wrong, it had to be. Jameen would never hurt his sister. Never would he kill our men, who were his friends and family. It had to be a trick.

“Vendish?” Jordan sat up, his fingers slipping through the damp ends of my hair.



“They will find him Jordan. I don’t pretend to know what is going on, but my instincts lead me to believe, we have been fooled all along where your father is concerned. Do you believe after meeting Guardwin; that any son of his would just leave his mate behind? No. Jameen was a role model to our kind. He was a strong warrior yes, but his heart was bigger than any others. He longed to find his mate, to have wee ones of his own, and to think for a second that he would willingly walk away from all of that is insane.



He was my best friend Jordan. I knew him better than anyone alive and when he disappeared it took everything I had not to lose my mind. The first time I ever saw you, I broke down. You look so much like him, it’s eerie, even more so as a babe. Those big teal eyes stared at me and I wondered, why? Why would he leave something so precious, so beautiful that it makes my heart ache? The answer I believe we both know to be, is that he wouldn’t, not if he could help it.” I swallowed back tears.



“Then why has no one gone after him before? Why did you not try to find him Ven?” Jordan grit his teeth, his grief exhausting him thoroughly.



“We did try, year after year. We looked everywhere, sent scouts all over the world, but nothing ever turned up. It was as if he vanished,” I sighed, working the back of his neck in a gentle massage.



“He’s back though?” He looked uneasy and I couldn’t blame him.



“It would seem so” I brushed some hair off his neck, he needed to relax, he was so tense I could feel him about ready to snap. “Turn around, lean against me.”



He raised a brow, but did as I told him. His back melted into my chest and I ran my fingers through his hair, starting at his forehead and sweeping it back to his neck. I took my time, rubbing the pads of my fingers against his scalp, feeling his head wobble underneath my hands as his muscles began to ease.



I lowered my hands to his neck, kneading his muscles all the way down to his shoulders. His breathing was evening out, his head went back to lie under my chin, and he shut his eyes. I took great pride in the fact that I was comforting him, being able to take care of my mate as he should be. I bent my head to the side of his neck and kissed him slowly. My kiss was tender and sensual, not aggressive.



In his state, he was not ready for what a mating truly involved, but I would give him what he needed. He needed to be loved, to know that he was important, and that his pleasure gave me pleasure.



“Will you let me touch you Telija?” I brought my hand over his shoulder, gliding it down his chest.



Jordan stretched against me like a cat and bared his neck further, allowing me access to his delicious collarbone, “Yes.” It was barely a breath, but I heard his reply.



My other hand slipped around his slim waist, moving over every curve and inch of his stomach. It was flat and smooth, boyish, but not. His body was something to explore, he was a man yes, but I preferred his smaller figure to my more dominant one. Everything about him in my embrace fit perfectly as he was my other half.



His breath rushed out of him as both my hands stopped over his small pink nipples, teasing them with my larger fingers. I rubbed the hardened nubs in circles, leisurely deepening my touch into his skin until he whimpered. The water rippled as he rubbed against me, his backside working my lap intensively. Jordan had my member hard between his cheeks, trapping it between our warm bodies, surrounded by the water.



My palms lay flat, traveling to lower territory on his body, and bypassing his erection. I teased him just a little, sliding my hands up and down his thighs until he pouted with a huff. I chuckled giving his shoulder a soft kiss before he leaned back and settled down.



“I want to touch you there my love, but I don’t want you angry with me for taking advantage of your grief. Never would I do such a thing and I only want to help ease your pain. Mates enjoy close contact when they are upset, because it comforts them. Do you understand?”



His small hand grabbed my own off his leg, pressing onto his erection and squeezing. My palm now held him tightly and he sighed, ending in a shudder, “I won’t hate you Ven. I just…I need this right now okay? Just please…”



I kissed his neck, sucking lightly, while I started to stroke him. His member was perfect, the swollen head peaking out over my fist, disappearing as I pulled up. The tempo with my hand was unhurried, feeling him out for any sign of distress. Jordan just sat there, content and practically purring against my chest.



“Is this alright my love?” I murmured against his skin.



“So good…,” He spoke softly and surprised me by draping his open legs over mine, tilting his head back over my shoulder.



Squeezing gently, I twisted my hand around his shaft, quickening my pace a little. His chest began to rise and fall faster, his slender fingers digging into my arms. What’s more is his power started to manifest, the water around us glowing a clear blue with his rapture. I ground my own length into his slick backside, feeling him roll his hips back to me. He was close to bursting and was frenzied in his need for release. My own needs could be held off, because this was for my mate, for his comfort not mine.



He came with a wordless exclamation, his mouth formed in a perfect ‘o’. His eyes glittered with passion and his grip on my arms released, his hands falling into the water while tiny tremors ran their course. I rubbed Jordan’s arms, keeping him from slinking into the fading glow of water surrounding us.



Telija? Are you feeling better?” I asked after some minutes had ticked by.



“Yeah, thanks,” He ducked his face away from me and untangled his legs from mine. Rising out of the water, he almost tripped trying to get out the bath, in his hurry to get away from me. I will not deny that it hurt my heart. I had tried my best to make him comfortable around me, and had failed miserably.



He looked around and yanked a towel from the rack, wrapping it around himself, and fleeing from the bathroom. I sat there in the water, trying to think of what to do next, but every possible task escaped me. He didn’t want me. It was only this connection we shared causing him to do so. Yes, I understood his trauma and what today had been like for him, but I couldn’t shake this growing doubt inside of me.



Was there something wrong with me? Was I doing this mating incorrectly? I hung my head, watching my inky hair wisp through the water around me. Thinking of mates brought my Mother and Father to mind. They were the epitome of a perfect pair and I envied that with all my heart. I wanted to come home after my duties with the warriors to see Jordan waiting for me. I wanted to share in his growth as a Fae and be there to soothe his troubles away, but in this moment, I couldn’t see it.



Everything about our beginning had been horrible for him and I couldn’t blame him for not wanting a reminder of it. I was currently that reminder to him and I turned my head away from the open door to hide my unshed tears. I sighed and wiped my face, then got out of the bath. Drying myself I looked out the window, to see Fae Court Guards in place around the house. Guardwin and the others were most definitely here.



Jordan would not be up for their company tonight, but I might as well make an appearance. I needed to find out what else had happened and if there was anything I needed to do. I slipped on some black linen pants and a red tunic, slicking my hair back with a leather chord. Rummaging through my wardrobe, I came across a gold tunic that Jordan could wear to sleep in.



I walked into my bed chamber to find Jordan sitting at the table by the fire with Rosie holding a bowl out to him. Rosie, Mother bless her, was the head Dwarf of my household. Like all Dwarfs, she cared for the needs of all occupants of the house, not because they were made too, but because they loved too. It gave a Dwarf great pleasure to care for others and the entire species were very much appreciated and adored among the Fae.



Rosie tried again to push the bowl of soup across the table, her nose barely level with the wood slab. Her fiery red ringlets glinted next to the glowing hearth and her cerulean eyes shone with love for her newest house member. She was the definition of a mother hen and I bit back a smile when she put her hand on her hip and screwed up her button nose.



“Ya gots ta’ eat wee one, a full belly equals a happy heart,” She pushed the bowl back towards my mate, who slumped in his chair and pushed the bowl back to her.



“Oh thas’ it! Ya either eat it, or I feed ya me self. I’m not about to get blamed for ya starvin’ to death. What would ya mate say about that? Prolly throw me in a pit somewhere’s an let the Yukah feed on me bones. I like me bones, thank ya very much.” She narrowed her eyes, her loving sparkle still there, and pushed the bowl back to him.



“Fine,” Jordan sighed. He picked up the spoon and slowly dipped it in the bowl. My mate turned back to Rosie. “Are you really gonna stand there and watch me eat.”



“Every last bite,” She nodded and climbed onto the chair next to him. “So, I think ya wonderin’ what I am, yea?”



Jordan took a spoonful to his lips and closed his eyes, savoring the taste of Rosie’s legendary cooking. He opened his eyes with a small grin and nodded, “I guess I just thought you were a…um…little person?”



Rosie’s shrill laughter lit up the room, “Little person eh? Well that would be correct, but it ain’t all I am. I’m a Dwarf and the woman of the house. So if ya ever need a thing, you let me know.” She wiggled in her chair, sitting up proudly and I smiled, crossing my arms and leaning against the door.



“A Dwarf? So you’re not Fae then?” Jordan took another bite of soup.



“Of course I’m Fae, silly wee one. All of us here is Fae, there is just different kinds. To say you is Fae, is like saying you were human, many types of humans, but all human. Ya understand what I’m sayin?” She smoothed her colorful patchwork skirt.



“I think so. I remember Vendish saying something about there being twelve types of Fae,” He broke a piece of bread away from the loaf on the table.



“Aye, twelve in all, but a lot of mixed breeding and new lines…But that’s a conversation for another time. Eat ya food and we’ll get ya to bed. Ya look tired,” She patted his hand with her tiny one and hopped off her chair.



“Hey Rosie?” Jordan turned in his seat and I slipped against the wall just inside the bathroom.



“Yea?”



“Can I ask you something?” His voice was hushed.



“Anything wee one.”



“Do you think…I mean…Do you really believe he did it?” Jordan’s voice trembled and I palmed the wall to keep from running to him.



“Does me think ya Father a muderer?” Her tone was even. “No. I don’t.”



I let out a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding. At least I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Jameen was a touchy subject to bring up in the Court and I kept my opinions to myself.



“Ya Father was a brilliant man. Kind and charitable he was, and never for a second have I thought he left because he wanted to.”



“Do you think he felt her go? I mean, did it hurt him?” Jordan started to cry, I could hear it in his voice, but I stood still because he needed to talk to her. Rosie was good like that; getting others to tell her things, and making them feel at ease.



“I have no doubt that ya Father felt every last second of her passin’. Mates are connected by the soul and when one is ripped away, the other knows it. He’s most likely mad with grief, but don’t let that make ya mind up about him. He’d never hurt us or you.”



“You need some sleep Jordan. Finish up and climb on in,” I heard the rustle of my heavy covers, followed by the clink of a spoon and bowl.



“Where’s Vendish?” Jordan asked.



I exhaled and grabbed the gold tunic off the counter, “Right here. I was just finishing up and finding you something to wear to bed. Here.” I approached the massive bed, sticking the garment out to him awkwardly.



“Uh thanks,” He gave me a funny look and slipped the tunic over his head, pulling the towel out from underneath. I turned away because he looked exsquisite in gold, and the blue embroidery brought out his eyes.



“It’s nothing. Rosie…would you mind staying with Jordan while I’m gone?” I eyed her and the tiny woman rolled her eyes.



“Not a problem Vendish, don’t be gone to long. It’s yamate’s first night and all,” She scowled at me, making me very aware of the scolding I would receive later.



“He’ll…uh…be fine,” I didn’t meet his eye, but I could see him slipping out of bed. “I have to go.”



Oh Mother! I wanted to touch him so badly, to hold him in our bed, to let him sleep cuddled against me. But the truth was, he was already stressed out, and he didn’t need me as much as I had hoped. I was doomed.



A hand startled me and I looked into questioning teal eyes, “Where are you going?”



I sighed, stepping a pace back from him, “I have things to attend to. The leaders are here and I am sure they’ll want a word with me.”



He frowned, noticing I distanced myself, and wrapped his arms around his chest, “Yeah sure. Whatever.”



“Okay! What is goin on now? Ya two are mates, not whiny little babes. You are not going anywhere,” She pointed a finger at me. “I’ll tell the King o’ Fae me self, that ya couldn’t make it. So sit ya arse down and get comfortable.” Her tiny hand patted the space on the other side of the bed from Jordan.



Only my closest of friends would ever dare talk to me like that, and Rosie was part of that group unfortunately. Well, maybe just in this moment it was unfortunate, for I had no escape from this awkward entrapment.



“Rosie, the King is waiting…” I tried and she rounded the bed and smacked my legs with a rag until I backed up onto the bed. Jordan started to laugh, the sound like a drug to me. I stared at him and still he giggled, until he too was propped against the intricately carved headboard.



“No more I say! Another peep Vendish and I will cut off ya hair while ya sleep. Ya understand ya foolish man?” Her accent thickening as she scolded me. I nodded, pulling the covers over my legs in protection. “Good. I’ll tell Guardwin that the both of ya’s was too tired to come to the table. Ah! Not a word…” She backed out of the room as I opened my mouth to respond.



She slammed the door shut and I heard her little boots run down the hall at full speed. For a small woman, she was eerily fast. I folded my hands in my lap and looked into the fire. I couldn’t look at him right now. I didn’t feel like being rejected in this moment. Suddenly I was not a man, a warrior, or a prince. No. I felt like I was a teenager waiting for the other boy to crush my heart and pull back from my first kiss in horror.



“What’s wrong with you? You’re acting weird…” Jordan whispered, he clutched the covers to him, almost as if he was embarrassed. Why would he be ashamed? I was the one who did something wrong. Didn’t I? Oh…What do I do?



“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was,” Finally I looked at him, only to see his face hidden in his hands, his knees drawn up. See? I couldn’t even say anything right! He just cried at the drop of a hat.



“I don’t know what to do for you Jordan…I am so sorry that I am not what you wanted, I am sorry that you have had the worst day of your life, and I guess tomorrow you will want to move in with Guardwin at the palace. I understand now…” Sucking in a deep breath, I moved off the bed and grabbed a small blanket from the side table.



“What?” He screeched and shot up to his knees, tears wet on his face. “You’re leaving me?”



“Isn’t that why you are so upset? Because I touched you in your time of need? I knew I shouldn’t have done it, oh Great Mother Jordan forgive me,” I dropped to my knees and cried. “I am a terrible person, I have failed you my Telija!”



He scrambled off the bed, his bare legs a blur as he shot towards me. Jordan landed with a thud on his knees in front of me, his arms locking around my neck as he crawled into my lap. “You can’t leave me, please. I’m sorry I ran out earlier. It’s just that I’m so lost here Ven. When you made me feel the way you did, it was so much. I thought I was going to explode out of my skin and it scared me to death how much I liked it. I felt guilty that there I was getting off with you when my mother just died. You did nothing wrong, it was me, it was all me.”



“Do you want to know what the worst part is?” He quivered in my lap, our eyes finally meeting. “After I thought about her death a little more, I wondered why I was so upset. Why am I mourning for someone that didn’t even want to look at me, or touch me, someone who acted like I was the plague? Sure she called and gave me the rare pat on the back, but it was just to survive. Aunt Kim was more of a mother to me, than my own ever was. I am the terrible person, not you, because I’m almost relieved that she’s done suffering. Never again will I have to look into her lifeless face and think…Is this all my fault? Does she even care that I’m here? Does she love me at all? So you see Vendish, it’s me you do want to be with. You deserve better than me…”



~~~Jordan~~~



I was going to be sick. He looked back at me with his unnatural green eyes and I just knew that he was going to reject me. How could he not? Here I was telling him that I’m pretty sure I was glad my Mother was dead and hoping there was a small part of him that wanted to still be my mate. Yeah right Jordan. Now you’re just fucking nuts. He probably had a perfect upbringing and would think all Mother’s were worthy of love. Mine though had had her very soul sucked away from her, resulting in the neglect of her own child.



It was selfish of me to say such things, but it was the way I felt, and people grieve in different ways. Honestly, I would be more upset if he told me to leave him, than about my Mother passing. This bond between us pulled me to him in ways that I couldn’t understand and I knew with certainty that if I left, I might as well just throw myself off a cliff. Love was not on the menu right now, there was no way I could commit myself with those words yet, but it was pretty clear we belonged together.



The fact that I had made the Prince of Fae cry, broke me inside, and I felt my new friends slithering to the surface. My skin was hot and my body shook, the emotions rising to the forefront. Maybe that was what triggered my other half, anger, or sadness…Something brought them out, and I needed to figure it out fast before I accidentally pulled some voodoo power out on Ven. That was the last thing I needed right now.



“You don’t want to leave?” He gulped, a large hand palming the small of my back.



Sweat broke out on my forehead and my hands ached to roam his body, to feel his heart beat so it would calm my own, “No. Please don’t go Ven. I need you here with me. I can’t do this on my own.”



Telija…” He pulled my face to his and kissed me. It wasn’t sweet or gentle. It was full of fire, sending heat throughout my entire body. Vendish pulled my body tight against his when I opened my mouth to let him in. His tongue lapped at mine, sucking it into his mouth, before letting me take over. I craved him something fierce, tasting him for all he was worth, letting his all natural sugary flavor roll across my taste buds. His hands gripped me harder, making sure I didn’t escape, while his mouth made love to mine.



My back felt cool, almost wet, a fine mist spraying from all directions, but I didn’t care about that now. My powers would have to wait, because Vendish was all I wanted in this moment. He made me feel better, my heart ached less, the void being filled with his arms around me. Someone cared for me, he cared so much, that he cried because he touched me. I made him feel like a failure, worthless, and it was time I made up for that. He had done nothing but guide me softly all day, taking into account all my needs, and protecting me from everything he could. I just wanted him near me, forever?

It was at this point that he pulled back, looking down at my brand new erection, and I blushed remembering I didn’t have anything under the linen shirt that hung to my knees,



“We should get you to bed.”



“Right,” I smirked. Surprising even myself, I reached up and kissed him softly, “Thank you.”



His mouth parted a little, his eyes shining with adoration, “No. Thank you.”



“Okay, no more mushy stuff right now. I just want to go to bed and pass out for the next twenty four hours,” I yawned.



Vendish smiled and pulled us up. He stood with me wrapped around his waist. His long strides had us bumped against the bed in no time, and he let me slide down his body until my feet hit the ground, “You are all wet again, as am I.”



“Sorry,” I dropped my gaze.



He lifted my chin with a finger, “There is nothing to be sorry about. It happens to all of us from time to time, although Rosie might not like the mess.” I looked to where we had been sitting and a large circular puddle caught my eye. Both of us were damp again and I shivered at how cold and irritating this was getting.



Vendish chuckled and turned around, “Take off the tunic and get in bed, I will not look I promise.”



“Are you serious? What are you five? You just gave me a hand job in the bath tub and you want to give me privacy?” I busted out laughing, “Ven, you can turn around.” I grinned and threw the wet tunic at his feet. He grumbled something and looked over his shoulder before stripping off his own tunic. I blushed and turned away, the sight of his hard golden body making want to eat him alive.



“Giving me privacy?” He chuckled and threw his pants at my head, pulling the covers over his legs and hips. “I’m just teasing you Jordan.”



“Sure you are,” I rolled my eyes and flopped back onto the bed. The sheets were soft against my skin, the covers nice and thick, as I burrowed within their warmth. I could definitely get used to this bed. The minute my head hit the silk covered pillow, my eyes began to drift shut.



“Sweet dreams my Telija,” Vendish’s heavy rumble came to my ear. His muscled form wrapped around my side, his thick arm went around my bare waist, and his long leg snuggled in between mine. I sighed. This is what heaven must feel like.



~~~~~~~



After yesterday, I had figured I already had seen the most shocking highlights of Fae. I was wrong. Rosie placed a bowl of what seemed to be oatmeal with fruit in front of me with a smile. Her wide blue eyes looked around the table with a warning glare at the others, who either shook their heads or snorted. Vendish sat to my side, darting his gaze around the table then back to me, measuring my reaction.



I kept my mouth shut, only opening it to stick a bite of breakfast inside. The leaders of Fae had spent the night, a ‘Fae slumber party’ apparently. Although, I doubted these particular Fae painted each other’s nails and braided their hair. The thought alone had me choking on my oatmeal. Vendish slapped my back, horror on his face.



Clearing my throat I waved him off and decided to end the big game of staring at each other, “So, I’m Jordan, as you probably already know. I figured I’d introduce myself, seeing as how none of you wanted to go first.”



Vendish’s eyes went wide. A small choked sound came from his mouth, “Jordan…” He hissed and I smiled.



“No, he’s right,” Guardwin mused with a twinkling eye, “I have been a terrible guest, my apologies wee one.” He nodded and I nodded back, was that what I supposed to do?



Vendish rubbed the spot between his eyes and his shoulders slumped. The poor guy was stressed out to his limit. Full blown exhaustion was fast approaching. Without even thinking, I stretched my arm and rubbed his back in small circles. Guardwin smiled wider, obviously pleased with my interaction with Ven. I rolled my eyes, turning to see Vendish leaned back against my hand, his eyes partially closed. Finally, the man started to relax…Hallelujah!



I wasn’t about to deal with this on my own and most certainly not with a giant stress ball at my side. The creature next to me leaned in and sniffed, causing me to practically jump into Ven’s lap. Vendish’s eyes snapped open, his hand shot out and grabbed the thing by the face, “Mine.” He growled and the creature blinked, pulling out of Ven’s harsh grasp.



“Forgive me Prince,” The creature’s hiss returned. “He smells so good, I could not resist. My intentions were not of harm. The Prince’s mate is safe amongst us.” He bowed his scaled head and I shuddered.



His scales were black, but when they caught the light, they shimmered with blues, greens, and purples. They were actually quite beautiful like the colors of a peacock, but in many tiny reflective pieces, almost like a mosaic. A giant lizard is what he really looked like, but in more of a human form. Black eyes blinked at me and I raised a brow, “Jordan.” I stuck my hand out.



He hesitated and I shot Ven a glare. Lizard man slowly extended his scaled fingers, his nails a shimmery silver, “Sena.” Our fingers connected and his skin was surprisingly smooth. I would have thought with all the scales his skin would be rougher, but that was not the case.



A small smile birthed on his face with tiny sharp teeth glowing white against his dark skin. I think he was pleased that I would touch him without fear. Maybe I made a friend after all. I gently took my hand back and he nodded. Guardwin cleared his throat and cocked his head at Ven, who when I turned to look at, was glaring like his eyes were weapons.



I slapped his chest playfully, causing him to look at me, “You good?” My irritation was quite evident.



“Yes,” He snapped his head back to the others and my eyes questioned Guardwin. He sighed heavily.



“I think we’ll get this over with then. You’ve met Sena, the leader of the Yukah. And this is…”



“Hold up! This guy is a Yukah?” I hitched a thumb in Sena’s direction, “The creature everyone is afraid of?”



Every being at the table stiffened, their eyes trained on Sena, “That’s ridiculous. I thought this lot was all like peace and love and blah fucking blah. Now you’re telling me that you’re eating breakfast with the source of your nightmares? That’s such bullshit. Look at your faces! I mean God, it’s a wonder you don’t have caution tape wrapped around him,” I shook my head in disgust. He might look like a lizard, but I could tell he was a lot more gentle mannered than everyone said.



“He is a monster!” A woman with long golden hair scooted out of her chair. “Just this fall he and his others ate a wee one wandering home from the palace.”



I stood, I had no idea why I had to defend this creature, but I did, “You look here Rapunzel , unless you actually saw him,” I nodded my head to Sena, “take a child and put it in his mouth, eat him whole, and spit out the bones….you’re full of shit. Did you ever think the kid went to the other side? Maybe got taken by a hunter.” Gasps filled the table.



“Maybe he found his mate in the mortal realm…”



“Yeah good lot that did your Father…Bloody doomed us all,” The giant of a man sitting next to Guardwin rose, his bare chest covered in dark hair, his face lined in a full beard, and his yellow eyes narrowed.



“Don’t you dare!” I roared and threw my bowl across the room. My temperature skyrocketed and my lungs felt like I was breathing fire. Everyone scraped their chairs and backed away from the table. “My Father loved my Mother you piece of shit. He didn’t have a choice…” The shadows wisped out from under my gauzy tunic, wrapping around my body like dancing arms of inky smoke.



Telija noooo!” Vendish pulled me to his chest, holding me tight, “Let it go, just breathe, and let it go. He didn’t mean it. He didn’t know…”



My teeth were clicked together tightly and I took deep inhales from my nose, letting them go slowly through my teeth. The shadows started to creep back under my shirt and my temperature went from blazing to hot.



Vendish brought both of us to the ground, rocking me back and forth until I started to breathe normally. I looked up to see Guardwin and Sena, kneeling in front me, both of them concerned. A rush of cool air engulfed me, Vendish’s hands splayed over my chest. The wind cooled my skin, taking my headache away, and I relaxed into his chest.



“Jordan? Can you hear me?” He whispered. I nodded my head.



“I’m fine. I’ll be okay… Can I have some water?” My throat was dry. My voice sounded hoarse.



Sena jumped to his feet and returned seconds later with a glass of cold water. I downed the contents and put the glass on the ground. Much better. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”



“Non-sense, don’t apologize. Brutus should have known better than to provoke you,” Guardwin shot an angry glare to the wolf man in the corner. The giant crossed his arms with a huff and turned away.



It was then that a searing pain shot through my wrist and I cried out, bringing my arm to my eyes. Everyone gathered around went wide eyed, as a black and blue pattern began to form like spun lace around my wrist. A roar filled my head. The sound of flapping wings flitted through my mind. Yellow eyes, fire, shadows…Make it stop! As abruptly as it began, the pain ceased, along with the evil slideshow.



“It cannot be, he is the….” Sena hissed, his black eyes searching the mark on my wrist.



Vendish’s large hand took my wrist, turning it over to get a better look. A large blue stone was delicately drawn onto my skin, intertwined with tiny black vines, overlapping over and over until it formed a tattooed bracelet.



“Jordan, this marking only means one thing.” I turned to look at him. “You have been deemed the Master of Shadows.”



~~~~~~



Lucy and Daega sat with me to the side of the stream. All the Fae were gathered in the woods to perform what they called the ‘Rahn Ji’, or the Death Celebration. Daega sat on my shoulder, her tiny fingers braiding a lock of my hair, her touch soothing. Lucy moved her feet back and forth in the cool rush of water, her silver eyes raking over me in concern.



“Are you gonna be okay Jordy?” Her hand squeezed mine.



“I don’t know Lu. Everything is happening so fast,” I murmured.



“After the ceremony things will be better. All Fae, even half, enjoy the festivities. It helps us gain closure and refreshes us for a new day.” Her fingers stroked my arm, over my tattoos, and down to my new marking before squeezing it in reassurance.



“I hope so. I need a break from my life,” I snorted.



“You are doing so well wee one. For all that has passed in such a short time, your strength shines,” Daega sang in my ear and I smiled.



“Yeah not to mention your loooovvveee….” Lucy teased and I batted her arm.



“Knock it off hoe!” I laughed and she busted out in a giggle.



“I’ve missed you,” She tackled me to the ground, her wings fluttering, as we wrestled. She gasped and fell into the water, sputtering her way back to the surface with a gasp. “Oh it’s on lover boy!”



“Better run Lu…” My best maniacal laugh was followed by water spraying from my fingers as I chased her through the trees, Daega soaring in and out of the tall oaks above us. It felt so good, to run and play, to be a kid for just a minute and take my mind off all that had happened. I smiled as other pixies giggled and zipped around us as if joining the game, their multicolored glows creating a rainbow of lights around the forest.



I caught Lucy by the shoulder, misting her with water. She laughed, “I’m it now, so start running Jordy!”



My feet took off, pounding the ground with the soft leather of my ankle boots. She started closing in, a light stream of water hitting me in the head, followed by her shrill giggle. I spotted Ven as I neared the stream again, a smile on his face. “Don’t let her catch me!” I laughed as I ran past him. He bellowed a chuckle and raised his hands just as Lucy sprayed water from her hands. The water turned to ice in mid air, as Ven’s wind wrapped around it.



“Hey!” She pouted, but kept on running. I peeked over my shoulder to see where Vendish was, but in doing so ran smack into someone. I fell on my ass and started to stand and apologize.



I glanced up as Lucy came to a halt next to me and gasped, “Oh Gran, I am so sorry! He didn’t see you there. It was an accident.”



The woman in front of me had ankle length black hair, a silver streak through the front, and silver eyes. A silky blue cape was tied around her neck. It moved in the breeze, giving you the briefest look at her slender bare feet.



“Will you be quiet Luciana? That pitch gives me a headache,” She relayed with distaste.



“I’m sorry Gran,” Lu bowed her head whispering.



“And you must be the half breed I keep hearing about, the reason why my Kimella abandoned her people,” She raised a brow and I swallowed. Oh, I did not like this broad.



“I think what Aunt Kim did was very compassionate. You should feel lucky to have such a caring daughter,” I replied, feeling familiar arms snake around my waist.



“That excuse for Fae is not my daughter. My son left her because he finally grew a pair and realized she was not of worth. Besides they weren’t Ghea, and thank the Mother for that,” She smiled.



“Well it’s nice to see you Rain,” Vendish rumbled.



She slid her gaze from toe to head and raised a brow, “You as well Prince. I see you have found your Ghea in another man.” She snorted, “Your mother will be pleased.” She laughed.



“Actually I’ve already spoken to her and she is over the moon, as is my Father,” I could hear the pride in his voice.



“Pity,” Rain clucked her tongue. “Come Luciana. Running around like a child is not becoming of a true lady.”



“But I just…” Lu hung her head.



“Did you just sass me girl?” Rain’s face twisted in hatred.



“No Gran, never,” She whispered.



“That’s what I thought.” Rain’s lips formed a smug smile, her silver eyes narrowed like a cat that caught its prey.



I had had enough of this bitch talking to my Lu like that, “Excuse me.” I snapped my fingers in her face to get her attention.



“Jordan…” Ven warned and grabbed my hand away from her shocked face.



“Why are you talking to her like that? What the hell is wrong with you people? She is not a dog. She is a person, a great and amazing person at that. If you don’t like her, then fuck off,” I shrugged out of Ven’s embrace and put my hands on my hips. Come on bitch, bring it on.



Her jaw dropped, “You filthy little mongrel! I should drown you where you stand for talking to me like that.” Her eyes went dark and she raised her hands.



“If you touch my mate…I will kill you.” Ven was between me and Cruella so fast, I hadn’t even seen him move. His hand was wrapped around her throat while her arms flailed to her sides. “Do you understand me water Fae? Kill you!”



He dropped her to the ground and grabbed me and Lucy by the arms, dragging us back to the crowd of Fae. No one seemed to care that Rain had just about lost her life. In fact, the others seemed smug about it. Well hell, who wouldn’t?



“Thanks,” I stroked his arm when we stopped just outside the large crowd gathered. He hugged Lu to his side and kissed her head, then did the same to me.



“Luciana is like the annoying little sister I never had and Rain is just a thorn in my side. I was more than happy to remove it for the time being, but you need to stop picking fights with the Leaders,” He warned.



“She’s a Leader?” I scoffed.



“Of the Water Fae no less,” He put a finger to my chest.



“Well hell…I didn’t know, but still she’s a…”



“And no more of that mouth. Great Mother, where did you learn to speak like that?”



Lucy laughed, “The humans are very creative! There was this one time I could hear him from his bedroom, he screamed…”



“Lucy!” I was going to throttle her.



“Okay okay, geez, I was just playing,” She bit her lip. No she wasn’t.



Vendish looked between us, shaking his head, “You two will be my death.”



Guardwin parted through the crowd, leading a gorgeous blonde towards us. Her hair hit just past her chest, falling in soft waves, and was pulled back one side with red and black roses. Small pieces of black netting poked out from the flowers, forming a dark yet beautiful headpiece. Her lips were painted crimson, accenting her porcelain skin, and sky blue eyes. She was slender, with curvy hips that were prominent in the red dress she wore.



Guardwin matched her, wearing black leather pants, and an open faced black tunic with red embroidery. The woman stopped when she was a few feet from us and covered her mouth, tears in her eyes.



“My baby!” She cried and ran to me, pulling my body into her arms.



“Orla! Give him a minute darling,” Guardwin tried to pull her off of me, but she wasn’t letting go.



“Oh my wee one, oh my little baby,” She cried and stroked my hair, kissing every available inch of skin on my face. Orla pulled back, her hands still gripping my shoulders.



“Jordan, this is your Grandmother Orla, the Queen of Fae,” Guardwin chuckled.



She too was youthful like Guardwin, but her eyes were wise and filled with things I had yet to experience. Tears rained down her fair skin. Finally I sighed and hugged her back. Why not? She was a match to Guardwin in every way, radiating that love and warmth that he held. She cooed in my ear, her slender arms going back to my hair, and holding me close.



“You are so beautiful, so handsome. I have imagined many times what you looked like and here you are; a vision in my eyes. There are no words to express how much I truly love you my Jordan…” Orla whispered and I squeezed her tight. Every time I heard those words it calmed my aching heart. Years of going without that simple phrase will do a number on your mind, and my new family was quickly making up for lost time.



She let go of me and Guardwin handed her a small white handkerchief, “Thank you darling. Look at me, such a mess. Forgive me Jordan, the last few days have been trying and to see you here now, just make’s it all worth it.” She dabbed at her eyes with the cloth.



“It’s alright. I don’t mind, honestly,” I smiled and she swooned.



“He is such a gentlemen Guard. He is so perfect. Our baby is home,” She kissed him and he laughed.



“Indeed he is my Queen,” He kissed the side of her neck tenderly and heat crept over her cheeks. “We need to get started though, the sun is setting, and they are about to start the fire.”



“Of course darling,” She wrapped Lu under her arm and kissed her head. Lucy radiated under Orla’s touch, getting the affection she deserved from her other Gran. Ven pulled me along and we followed them into the crowd. They had formed a circle around a large pile of wood that would be the bonfire.



Five people stood around the timber holding torches and waiting for the ceremony to begin. As sad as the reason for us being here was, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by it all. For the first time in my life, I felt a part of something, connected to the people that surrounded me. Then there was the guilt that weaseled in, telling me I should be upset that I was at my Mother’s funeral.



Ven seemed to sense my inner turmoil and hugged me close, kissing my cheek. I squeezed his arm that was slung around my chest and watched Guardwin and Orla step forward. Lucy and Kimella were standing next to us. Kimella hugged Lu close and they too watched.



“Creatures of Fae, we gather here tonight under the protection of the Mother, and the watch of the woods, to say good bye to our loved ones.” Every species began to kneel and I looked around, feeling Vendish push my shoulders down to kneel.



Guardwin continued, “Tonight we honor the souls that perished unto the darkness. Let the Mother take them into her arms and plant them unto the earth so that they may grow tall amongst the trees and watch over us eternally.” He nodded his head and the five men around the timber touched their torches to the bottom, starting the fire.

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