I had clean forgotten. "Yeah, we sent one."
"By boat. Last June."
"No," he shook his head.
"Dear." I sighed. "I hope they didn't get sunk by the sea monster, or something."
"Actually, they probably made it quite safely," she suggested, thinking of other things that might have interfered.
After a brief pause I decided, "Let me start over again." I knew we weren't going about this in the most orderly possible fashion.
"Please do," my father suggested patiently. My mother, if she had one, would have been lashing her tail. It was clear that they weren't pleased by these happenings.
"Okay. Caer Myrrthin is, as far as we have been able to determinethis was something the druid Llweder found out for us in an interesting momentthe place where Llwys fought Balor," I told them. "And where the latter is in fact still buried."
"Imprisoned is closer," Meara suggested.
"Still?" the king asked.
"Yes. At least we think we would have noticed if he wasn't," I added.
"Probably," he allowed.
"He is in theory trapped at the bottom of an iron mine up near the keep there. This has been the center of a peculiar sort of power struggle which I'm not sure we still understand, between Emer who is and was the king in the keep despite having been dead these past fifty years, and an Unseelie Fae called Wynn." Much better, I congratulated myself.
"And possible other unknown parties," Meara added.
"Yes. These are the ones that we know about. Those two have apparently... I'm not quite sure. We spoke to Emer. He was deceitful and kind of annoying, and the green fire and crows that turn into centipedes were kind of disturbing."
Meara handed a copy of her written report to my mother.
I went on, "He and Wynn have apparently been fighting, sort of in a low-key sort of fashion these past fifty years. I had the suspicion after talking to Emer that they might have been involved in something together at some point and later had a falling out, just by the level of personal grievance that seemed to be involved on Emer's side. And the fact that Emer didn't seem like a terribly upright sort of person himself. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some alliance that went afoul."
"We arrived at Caer Myrrthin and discovered that it was a very nicely set-up keep," Meara continued. "With a veil of darkness halfway across the holding. With a fishing village that was remarkable for its intensity at the base, a highly magical swamp full of all sorts of natural and unnatural magic creatures including a trollwife who's a high priestess to Hel, and a castle that was half in the darkness and half out of the darkness."
"And half built of white stone and half built of black stone."
"Yes, we discovered that after we'd managed to get rid of the veil of darkness. Amongst other things, we discovered that evidently the veil of darkness had been there for about fifty years."
"And Wynn had created it."
"Yes, Wynn had created itit's all the report," she added. "The details and everything. Something had killed all the druids in the druids' circle, that Emer had asked the druids to look into Balor's prison, that as far as we could tell Balor was actually buried in the local iron mine, which evidently Wynn was attempting to dig the guy out of."
"With the help of some orcish prisoners he had captured, oh there' s a large community of orcs north of the village as well."
"Rather large community of orcs, actually," she agreed. "The crow may actually be a manifestation of the Lidless One, we're not entirely certain but we did see a symbolic representation of him associated with the crow. Oh, did we mention the little goblins? That's on the first page of the report."
"I see I'll have to read this thoroughly," he remarked dryly.
"Yeah, we're kind of jumbling things up a little bit here," I admitted. "But we did hit most of the high points. We did put the sun back."
"Most importantly, the veil of darkness happened because somebody had managed to pin the sun in place with an iron nail. We released the sun. Emer seems to have some sort of a field that seems to go out to about the end of possibly his charter we have to look that up, which not only disconnects you from your source with the gods, but makes the place seem not Powyian. On top of all that, Wynn or somebody else has managed to kill off both Courts in the local area. There are no Fae in this area, none, with the possible exception of Wynn and a few of his buds."
Which reminded me. "We had a very interesting visitor on Samhain. He told me to say Œhi' to you but he didn't leave his name. Very... down to earth for one of the Unseelie Court I have to say, no real fancy stuff. Just walked in and asked me to kill Wynn for him. As she mentioned, he told us that he had killed off both sides of the Court up there, so he's got a lot of enemies. I did have a fight with him, but he got away."
"Didn't leave a name?" he asked.
"He had a black badge," Meara told him. "Little flame bottomless pits of eyes, stars in the background."
"Oh, you recognize him?" I asked, quite curious.
"Only by repute." He looked troubled. "I think it was my grandfather who saw him last, I thought they said they'd killed him."
I shrugged. "You know how that sort of thing goes."
"Maybe they were just hoping they killed him, I'll have to look that up."
"His title?" Meara inquired.
"Lord of Flame and Darkness."
"That would seem to fit with his whole overall motif," I nodded.
"I am so glad I was giving posies to dead guys that night," Meara muttered.
"He was remarkably polite."
"I'm sure he was."
"He has no reason not to be," my father shrugged.
True. "He was asking me to kill someone for him." I remained miffed. "Oh, Wynn might show up here, just so everybody knows that. I did kind of eviscerate him a little."
That earned me quite a look. "Eviscerate him a little?"
"Not enough, that's that problem."
"He was still walking around and able to disappear, so he wasn't eviscerated completely," Meara amplified.
"Don't you hate when they do that," he nodded.
"He was just holding bits of himself in. It was quite annoying," I agreed with feeling. "If he hadn't disappeared, I would have had a much better time."
"We were a sore trial," Meara confessed. "We were perpetually making her retreat."
"I will have to research some of this," the king told us. "You're planning on returning?"
"Oh yes," I assured him. "We promised them we'd come back in the spring. Things are very much unsettled there. We definitely need to do something about Emer, we need to somehow unseat him, basically."
"We need to take away his kingship," Meara said.
"And I'm not sure how you go about doing that with someone who's been dead for fifty years."
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© 2002 Rebecca J. Stevenson et al