Thursday, December 31, 2020

Flash Fiction #439 -- The Fae Underground/15


I'd feared that she would ask me that sort of question.  I had not expected it to take such a personal form.  This was, in fact, the first time I'd been acknowledged publicly at court.

"Son of the Queen?" Lycan glanced my way.  His voice didn't sound entirely steady.

"One of many," I said with a nod to my mother -- I could think of her that way now that she'd made the acknowledgment, but I would be wise to keep the title of Queen firmly in mind.  "And I've lived many years in the human realm.  The one thing I can say is that no one else should pack up their people and scurry off to the safety of the humans' world.  It is not safe."

"They have no magic," someone said, and it sounded like a scoff against my first official statement as a Prince of the Line.

Typical.  I hated court politics.

"They have no control of magic," I agreed.  "However, their realm is filled with power everywhere.  Anyone trying to push you in that direction has already settled in and has harnessed enough magic to make certain of control.  Second, the more of us who arrive there in such large groups, the more likely we are to draw attention."

"We should wipe the humans out."

I tried to find what fool had said those words.  The voice had come from the back of the room, and though the statement hadn't surprised me, I did see how my companions reacted.  Lycan almost snarled and barely caught himself.  Sylph glared, and I feared Lady Snow might transform.

It wasn't that many of them probably had a great love for humans, but they saw the threat to themselves in that blatant bit of bigotry.  The fae were strong, and too many of my own thought that meant we should destroy anything that caused us the slightest trouble.

"Lord Suntur," the Queen said, her tone so cold I even took a step back.  I hadn't recognized the voice, but I knew the name.  "I think, if you cannot be polite and helpful, then this is not the place for you to be at all."

Other fae moved aside and left one tall fae standing alone toward the back of the room.  The man looked right and left in dismay but then straightened and gave a slight nod to the Queen.

"The humans," he said and then paused with a shake of his head.  "They don't appreciate or utilize what they have.  I would not be opposed to sharing, except that they simply cannot be trusted, can they?  Better to be rid of them."

Some of the others were starting to whisper in that way you hear at court, which meant they were quiet, but they also made certain Lord Suntur heard them.  No one was happy with the man.

Suntour gave a humph of sound and took several long-legged steps until he stood no more than an arm's length behind me.  I turned half to face him.  My companions turned entirely, and I saw the Queen's eyebrows inch up at the confrontation -- but she did not try to stop it.

Fine then.  I had a few things to say.

"They use their world in their own way --" I began.

"You have no say in this, boy.  Look at you -- coming to court in human clothing and bringing these ... others with you.  Should we listen to one who clearly doesn't even know how to stand among his own people with pride?"

Sylph was the one who made a sound of disgust this time.  She moved slightly, her hair twisting for a moment, but then it settled, and she took a deeper breath.  

"Be wary of whom you insult, my fine fae lord.  I am a member of the Twelve -- the High Council of the Trees.  My companion here is one of the four goddesses of Winter.  Lycan?"

"Just a humble guard -- one of the Lycan King's own."

I kept silent, and I hoped that the surprise did not show on my own face.  Lycan gave me a toothy grin, though.  

"Well, no matter," Lord Suntur said as though Councilors, King's Guards, and even wild winter goddesses were nothing to him.  ""You are not relevant to the fae people --"

"You are the one unimportant," Lycan said with a slight tilt of his head.  "This man does not command the trouble, Great Queen.  He is bluster without intelligence, and even the beat of his heart gives a sign of his position.  No, not this one.  He has talked with others, though.  They are the ones you will want to find."

Lord Suntour had flushed with anger, but the Queen nodded agreement.  "He likes to talk, but he does not think and rarely listens."

I nodded, but I was bothered by something else.  "I fear this makes me believe the heart of all this trouble is here in our own lands."

"You would dare to suggest --" Lord Suntor began.

"Be silent," the Queen ordered.  "I want to hear why my son believes this possibility."

To be called son twice in one hour, almost unsettled me.  I had the feeling there was far more to this than she knew, though.  I even wished for a private audience -- but since she was not suggesting such a thing, she must have wanted the others here to hear the tale.

And to see their reactions?

I glanced and Lycan, but he wasn't going to offer to take up any of this tale.  Sylph and Lady Snow both looked to me as well.

"Something has pushed all the others over to the human realm," I said, trying to sort out the strings and make a coherent tale.  Lord Suntor started to say something, but the Queen's Guards moved, and he fell silent.

And in that silence, as everyone listened, I heard something that made me know we had no time left.

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