In the morning at the camp near the Island Castle, the men awoke and were getting their breakfast. In their camp, Borus was still laughing. These humans were so gullible. Shishak saw him then. Borus turned his face away as Shishak approached him. His pegasus was approaching the ground so his master could mount. Borus was still laughing. “You’re Borus, aren’t you?” Shishak asked. Without turning around Borus said, “Yes.” “You laugh at me,” Shishak said. “You laugh.” He was enraged then and struck Borus, slapping him very hard across the face. Borus was dead before he hit the ground.
His pegasus reacted violently. Like other mounts, they were trained to defend their riders. The animal yelled in its own way. He back winged and started kicking out with all four hooves. Shishak managed to dodge the hooves until all the noise and commotion got the attention of King Jehan and Sibelius. They ran from different directions to the spot. Sibelius, seeing his dead man on the ground, drew his sword. Jehan got between him and Shishak.
“A moment,” the king requested. “A moment to find out what happened.” Sibelius stepped back, but still with sword drawn. “What happen-ed?” King Jehan asked, turning to Shishak. “He made a fool out of me,” Shishak responded. “You are a fool,” the king said, “for not letting it go at that. Now you have killed the man and risked war with our ally.” “Sibelius,” he said, turning to that man. “I assure you this was an accident.”
“It does not look an accident to me,” Sibelius said. “It looks like one of your men killed one of mine. Don’t you teach your people that it is consider-ed very bad manners to touch one of my people. We are not so strong as your people, but we have weapons, and we have our pegasi.” Sibelius was angry and threatening, and the King knew that.
Behind him his men had taken up their weapons and were ready for a fight now. Behind Sibelius, the shee had done the same. “Sibelius,” the king said in a conciliatory voice, “this avails us nothing. We let dangerous persons escape while we argue. They have raped my queen, killed one of your people, killed a nyad herder, and killed some of their stock. If we let those men go further they will kill again. Let us make a decision about this and settle it now.”
Sibelius let his sword drop and turned to his own men. “You,” he said, pointing to one of the sidshee. “You were a friend of Borus. What did you do last night? I saw you and him with some humans, what happened?” The man he spoke to answered, “It was nothing, just a little harmless fun.” Another sidshee spoke. “We were just telling some ghost stories about the Island Castle. We didn’t mean anything by it.” “Didn’t mean anything,” Sibelius was really angry now. “Do you see what your japes did. Your friend is dead.”
“What about you?” Jehan demanded of Shishak. “He made a fool out of us last night,” Shishak defended himself. “And he was still laughing this morning. As if we were all idiots.” “Well was he right?” Jehan was also angry. “We ain’t no fools,” Shishak proclaimed. “When you do something like this, that very nearly cost us an important alliance, you are,” Jehan said. He was still angry. He stepped away to consider what might be done.
Sir Fridolf came up to him. “What will you do sire?” he asked. Jehan turned and saw Sibelius coming toward him. “It depends on what he has to say,” the king responded. “It appears,” Sibelius, said, “that some of my men may have provoked what happened last night.” His manner was still angry. “And Shishak being so sensitive about that did not help at all,” Sir Fridolf said. “Why do you say that?” Sibelius asked. “Did you question him?”
“I know him,” Sir Fridolf said. “He has always been this way.” Sibelius snorted. He knew how difficult it was to predict things like this happening. That a man who was too sensitive to being made a fool of and a man who could not resist making a fool of anyone who was less intelligent then himself, would come together in conversation. Then the conversation would go the way the more intelligent man intended. This time he paid the price.
“These are the actions of a too emotional man,” he said, loudly for all to hear, “and the actions of a stupid one. No true harm was intended here.” “One stupid man forgot himself,” King Jehan also spoke loud enough for all to hear. “He will be reminded. In the meantime we offer our condolences and apologies to his commander,” he indicated Sibelius, “to his friends,” he indicated the rest of the sidshee, “and through you to his family. I can promise you that it will not be allowed to happen again.”
Sibelius stepped a little further away again. He gave a signal and all the pegasi began to land to take on their riders. “We go,” he said, “to bury our dead as is our custom. We will return here in three days. Do not move from here.” Borus’ pegasus landed near his body as he had been trained to do. He also stood silent while they secured the dead body of his master across his back. Then they all launched themselves into the skies and turned toward home.
“Have him flogged,” the King told Sir Fridolf when he turned away from watching the shee leave. “How many lashes?” Sir Fridolf asked. “30 ought to do it,” the King answered. Sir Fridolf grabbed Shishak then and urged him back to the camp, to a tree there. “You,” Fridolf grabbed one of the stronger men there. “Tie him to that tree. The King orders 30 lashes for him.” 20 might have done, but the King did not think that Sibelius would be happy with that. 40 would kill the man and the King did not want to lose too many men right now.
The rest of the men had their breakfast, and got back to work on cutting some trees and making oars for the boat. But they had their doubts about just how water ready the boat really was.
In the meantime, the Queen of the nyads was approaching the furthest north bay of her area. The herder came toward her on his mount. “Your majesty,” he said. “See here,” he showed her the body of the dead male unicorn. It’s horn had been hacked off. “This is very like what the pirates did?” the man said. “One male unicorn now,” she said. “But how many in the future?” “Aye,” ma’am the herder said. “What in the future?”
“We believe that they may be at the Island Castle again,” she said. “You mean the old headquarters where the pirates were when you were a princess, ma’am?” the herder asked. “I was with those forces when we and the shee besieged the castle. I wouldn’t want to have to go through that again.” “This time we have some humans to help us,” the Queen reassured the old man. “They will go into the castle if we can help them get into it. The human in charge says that he is their king and he wants them. There is murder in his eye.”
“Then may your journey be blessed,” the old man said. “Yes indeed,” said the Queen, “may our gods bless our endeavor.”
She turned with her entourage and left the old herder and his family. They went quick pace, the whole way back to the Island Castle. It was a pace faster than the usual, but one that their mounts could maintain for hours.
Indeed, by the evening of the day they were next to the Island Castle. Again their mounts rose all at once and blew all together. Sir Fridolf noticed. “The nyads are here,” he called out. “Where?” asked the King. “There,” Sir Fridolf pointed. Indeed the King could see the Queen of the nyads. She came surprisingly close to the shore. When King Jehan looked askance at that she announced, “the shore drops off very sharply here,” she said. Her mount raised his horn up out of the water when she urged him in closer. King Jehan could see, it was an incredible thing. It was black and curling to the inside until it went several times around.
“Your majesty,” the king began to say to her. “Your majesty,” she responded. “We are not sure how we are going to get into the castle,” he said. “I know,” the queen of the Nyads said. “If your men can repair the boat, then our mounts will pull it to the island. But first your men must repair the boat.” “Done,” said King Jehan. “Only one of your nyads should remain at that rock to let you know when we have done our part.” “Very well,” said the Queen. “You should also know that a male unicorn was killed in the next bay to the north. He was killed for his horn. Pirates used to do that all the time. We believe they sold the horn in a community of humans farther to the north.” She remounted her unicorn and was gone. A moment later King Jehan did see that there was a nyad waiting by the rock watching to report the minute the boat was repaired.
That was done by dawn of the next day. The nyad slipped into the sea. In a few minutes the queen was back with several more of their people and their unicorns. “Now what do we do?” King Jehan asked. “Take this rope,” the queen said. “Tie one end of it to your boat. Tie a double loop in the other end of it. It must be large enough for our unicorns to slip themselves into and out of it.” The king called one of his men over. “This man is good at that sort of thing,” the kind said. “He will take care of it.” In a second the man had the loops, both big enough for a man to stand up, tied in place. “Get the boat ready to go into the water,” the queen ordered. The men had the prow down to the water’s edge. “You need to bring it out a little further,” the nyad Queen said. The man who made the loops got into the prow of the boat. King Jehan and the rest of his men pushed the boat further into the water and got in. Then the fellow with the loops threw the loops out further into the water. Two of the nyads dismounted and the mounts slipped themselves into the loops and began to pull. For a few minutes the men moved faster than they thought was possible towards the island. Then the unicorns slipped themselves out of the loops and the men thought they were in trouble. But it turned out that there was nothing for them to worry about, two more slipped into the loops and pulled again. The unicorns worked in relays until they got to the rocks that marked the island where the king’s quarry were expected to be. With the unicorns lending speed to the process, the boat did not take on much water. The men set it to drain again on the rocks.
The king and his men made for the castle. The draw bridge was closed. But the smallest of the king’s men managed to wriggle his way through the opening for the chain. He got in and released the mechanism. The draw bridge fell with a crash, right into the sea since the wood was rotten. The men realized then that anyone still in the castle had been alerted by that sound. Sir Fridolf and one man went ahead into the keep. The king spread the others out to check out all the nooks and crannies of the bailey.
They found nothing except where there had been a fire. “Well,” the king said, “It’s clear that they were here once.” He kicked at the ashes a bit, but there was no sign of a fire now.” “Come on,” he said to his men, “Let’s go into the keep and see if Fridolf found anything.”
In the keep again, there was nothing. They went from the main hall, up the towers. They searched each chamber as they got to them. But still they found nothing. When they men the king said to Sir Fridolf, “Well they have been here. We found some ashes from a fire in the bailey. But it is clear that they have been gone for several days.”
“Aye,” Sir Fridolf agreed with him. “And we must remain here at least one more day. When the shee return we will know out fate.” They went down then, back to where they’d left the boat. When they got there the Queen asked. “Are they there?” “No,” the King said. “But they were here. “They made a fire and cooked some meat. The ashes are still here.” “Alright, then,” the Queen said. “Get into the boat and my people will set you on the shore again.
When they got back to the shore, King Jehan told the Queen of the nyads, “We have to wait here until the shee return. But I want to thank you for all the help you’ve been and assure you that we will keep searching for the men. They will be punished.”
On shore, Shishak had received his punishment. He had survived it and now was in the wagon of the men who did the work of the camp. They were also the healers and they were working on him. He was bleeding profusely from the wounds he received in the flogging. “How is he,” the King asked. “Well he survived the initial punishment,” one of the older men told the King. “But whether he will survive now is not known. He hasn’t developed a fever just yet, but I expect that will come in the next couple of days.” “Keep an eye on him. If you can help him, do so.”
Sibelius and his men cooled off a little on the ride back to the shee capitol. In the capitol city of the shee, Sibelius went immediately to the palace. “What happened,” King Finnian wanted to know. “Something bad,” Sibelius told him. “But I think it would be best if we considered it in part the victim’s own fault.” “What happened?” the King asked again, this time more concerned. “One of our men, Borus, told ghost stories to one of the humans. They he made the mistake of laughing at the man. You know what kind of a man Borus was. He thought he was so bright he made fools of other men. Well one of the human’s took very badly to this. He got so angry he struck the sidshee. Of course it killed Borus immediately. Yet if the man had not been made a fool of by Borus, or if Borus had never laughed at him, it would not have happened. For our warriors and theirs were getting on very well together.”
“Humm,” said the King, “we will have to consider this.” He turned and paced away across the room. “What about the man who did it?” he asked Sibelius. “A human,” the man responded, “who was very sensitive to being made a fool of. He lost his head and slapped Borus hard. He is a very low class type of man.”
“Then what was he doing in the King’s entourage?” King Finnian want-ed to know. “It has been the habit of the people of Shinna for a long time to employ their soldiers from all classes of their people. This we have known, also for a long time. Almost as long as we have known the nyads.”
“That may be true,” said the King. “And what do you think, is there a possibility we could lose this alliance with the human’s over this?” “I think it likely, sire,” Sibelius answered. “This king is very angry about the way these men treated his wife. When he thinks about it much, he glowers and glowers more. “So this is clearly the actions of one hot headed man who forgot himself in the heat of anger,” the King said. “I think so,” Sibelius answered.
“Very well,” the King said. “That is what will be put out. See to it that the body of our warrior is prepared for burial.” Sibelius nodded and went off to do just that. When all was finished, the people were called together and the funeral was held.
At the proper time in the ceremony, the King addressed the assembled people. “It is true,” he said to them. “That we are burying one of our loyal warriors today. But his death was not in combat or defending his King and country. His death was just an accident, brought about by a foolish mistake he himself made. There will be no retribution for this death. Only the warn-ing. Humans weigh many times what we do. It is foolish for us to antagonize them. They are far stronger then we are. It is therefore my order. From this day forward, the shee and the humans will leave each other strictly alone when in operations together of this type. They shall not come into our camps, nor we in theirs. The exception is the officers, who will need to communicate with each other and who will know how to do that and how to behave each towards the other.” Then followed the concluding ceremonies and the burial of Borus. Sibelius and his men stayed in the capitol overnight. Then they headed back to the Island Castle.