Taste of Seelie
July 9, 2004
Reyna couldn’t believe where she was, or even where she was about to be. She was on a plane—something she’d never even dreamed of going on—descending towards France. Her face was pressed hard against the window as she tried to take in everything. Dunstan and she had been on the plane for almost ten hours, starting at 7:00 P.M. in New York until just after 11:00 A.M in France. Dunstan had been planning this trip for some time now. He wanted to introduce his apprentice to the two Fairy Courts, both of which were located in the Landes Forest, so he bought two first class tickets to Bordeaux, France once he felt Reyna was old enough to handle herself with the Fairies.
Reyna had spent most of the flight coming up with questions for the Fairies and learning some basic French. They would only be in France for two weeks—one week for each court—but Reyna was adamant about learning as much about French culture as she could, and she figured the only way to start would be to try and learn the language. She knew she’d mess it up more times than she’d be able to count, but figured with practice she’d get better.
Swallowing to un-pop her ears, she began to bounce up and down in her seat with excitement. Her breathing came faster as the plane landed and began to almost float towards the awaiting terminal. Dunstan made her wait until the plane was practically empty until standing up, grabbing their carry-ons, and exiting the plane. “We’ll drop our luggage off at the hotel, then grab some lunch before heading off to the forest. How does that sound?”
“Fine!” Reyna replied with a firm nod of her head. Her stomach had begun to rumble a few minutes ago, so she was glad that they’d be getting something to eat. Suddenly her mind flashed back to the night she met Lilith when they’d gone to a French restaurant, “Let me order for myself, though!”
Dunstan gave her a strange look, but nodded at her anyway. After grabbing their bags and finding a car to drive them to their hotel, Reyna attempted her first French conversation with the cab driver. “Bonjour monsieur! Comment allez-vous aujourd'hui?” The words came out harsh and were thick on her tongue, but Reyna looked at the man through the rearview mirror with large, excited eyes, hoping he’d reply.
The man gave a surprised laugh and smiled at her, “Bien bonjour là, je suis bien, merci, et vous?”
Preening, Reyna responded, “Bien merci!” She immediately opened her notebook to the page with more phrases she could say to the man, but stopped before saying anything when Dunstan shot her a look. Sighing and rolling her eyes, the young girl put her notebook away and with a harsh huff, folded her arms over her chest.
Dunstan ignored her and told the driver where to go, “I don’t know why you’re bothering,” he told her, “The Fairies will speak to us in English. You won’t need to use any French.”
“Well, I want to learn French!” Reyna replied. “We’re in France! Shouldn’t I be able to speak some French while we’re here? What if I got lost, or wanted to order some food, or—or ask where the friggin’ bathroom was? The Fairies might speak English, but not everyone here will!”
“You’d be surprised how many people in France understand English, Reyna,” Dunstan said dryly, “And turn down the attitude, would you? You’re acting like a child.”
“I’m twelve, Dunstan. I am a child.” Reyna grumbled under her breath, turning her body to look out the window and shut him out. Dunstan didn’t respond, deciding to ignore Reyna as well. Eventually they reached their hotel—the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux—and checked in, unpacked and exited the building in search of food all in silence. It was only after the check for the café had been paid for did Dunstan break the quietness, “I expect you to be on your best behavior, Reyna. No back talking or tantrums, you understand? Fairies are a dangerous breed. Don’t forget they have just as much magic as we do and won’t be afraid to use it if any of them feel insulted. And don’t eat anything they give you.”
Reyna had to stop herself from rolling her eyes again. She knew all of this already. Dunstan had prepped her for an entire week on Fairy etiquette before they came to France. Instead though, she simply nodded her head and followed him into a new taxi cab and watched out the window until they reached the Landes Forest. “How come they live here?” She asked, looking around at all the trees. “I thought Fairies had their own world.”
“They do, but they enjoy this realm a lot. The queens are usually in the Fairy Realm, but many of their underlings live in forests like this one. Fairies have an addictive nature, and this realm holds a lot of addictive things for them.”
Wishing she could ask a Fairy what exactly it was about this world they found addicting, even though she knew it’d highly offend them, Reyna followed Dunstan into the forest. They started on the marked path meant for hikers and tourists, but after fifteen or so minutes they diverted from the trail and headed straight into the thicket. Several times, Reyna wondered how they’d ever find their way out of the forest once they were finished with the Fairies, but consoled herself by thinking that Dunstan must know a way.
Eventually they came upon a clearing where a large, decorated boulder stood in the center. Reyna wished she could take time to trace the boulder’s markings, but before she could really even get a good look three Fairies appeared across from them. The three of them were all taller than six feet, their skin stretched over the sharp angles of their bones, and although Reyna wouldn’t necessarily call them beautiful, they were alluring to look at.
“Looks like we’ll be meeting the Seelie Queen first,” Dunstan muttered. Reyna recalled all Dunstan told her about the two Fairy factions, and that the main difference between Seelie and Unseelie was that the Seelie court Fairies were a tad less vicious than their Unseelie counterparts, but only just.
“Sorcerer Dunstan,” the one in the middle hissed out. He was the tallest of the trio, and had dark, borderline purple, skin. His hair was just as dark and braided, pulled back away from his face to accentuate the sharpness of his cheek bones. “What do you want?”
“I request an audience with your queen,” Dunstan told him in an even voice. “And I come bearing gifts.” Of course he did, Reyna thought, again resisting the urge to roll her eyes. No matter how annoyed she was with Dustan at the moment, she recognized the situation for what it was and knew she had to be on her best behavior. The Fairy and Dunstan stared at one another for a good long time before the Fairy finally nodded. Silent as a shadow, he walked to the boulder and traced one of the lines from top to bottom. Reyna choked back a surprised gasp when she saw the Fairy’s fingers. They were long and bony, reminded her of a spider’s legs which made her shiver. They looked much worse in person than they did on T.V.
Her attention was soon off of spiders, though and turned back to the boulder. The line the Fairy had traced began to glow a golden light that expanded out to the rest of the designs on the rock. When the entire stone was glowing in golden light, the Fairy looked back towards Dunstan and Reyna, and nodded towards the light. Dunstan’s rough and dry hand grasped hers and he pulled her towards the glowing boulder. “Don’t let go of my hand, Reyna.” He commanded and then led her into the light.
Reyna blinked at the brightness and when she opened her eyes she gasped. The Landes forest no longer surrounded them. In fact, there weren’t any trees in sight anymore. Instead, they stood above the waters of a lake. Looking down, Reyna titled her head when she didn’t see her reflection in the water. Although she knew she shouldn’t be able to stand on water, she didn’t question Dunstan about it. Instead, she tried to look deeper into the water’s depths. She stretched out her hand to touch the surface, her finger just an inch from the water when a face flashed from beneath the surface, scaring Reyna’s hand away from the water. The being below the water looked like a human, but had white hair, skin and eyes, and not white like Reyna was white, but white like the actual absence of color white. The figure had no teeth but bared her lips at Reyna and pounded her frail looking fists at the invisible barrier separating them. “What is that?” Reyna asked.
“That’s what happens when someone loses themselves to the Fairy Realm.” A new voice answered. Reyna looked up to see an almost seven foot tall female Fairy. She didn’t know how it was possible, but Reyna thought this fairy’s skin was even darker than the one from before. It shined like black marble even though it looked tight against her bones as well. Her hair, if Reyna could call it that, burned in waves of red and orange fire. Reyna even thought she’d heard it crackle. The fiery hair flowed out from the Fairy’s head, but no matter how many times it glossed over her skin or clothing it didn’t set fire. Reyna thought she could stare at this Fairy forever and never notice.
“Would you like to lose yourself, young Sorceress?” She asked, her voice as soothing to Reyna as honey down a sore throat. Just as she was about to nod, Dunstan gripped their still joined hands tightly, bringing her of her trance. “No?” She surmised, “What a shame,” she sighed and turned her head to look over the watery horizon. The scenery melted away with the Fairy’s gaze. Now the three stood in what looked like a Gothic church with stone walls, stained glass windows that reached towards the high heaves, and a gilded throne standing imperiously at the end of the nave. “You have such pretty green eyes, like emerald stars,” she continued as she took a seat on the throne. “I would have loved to have had you in my collection.”
Shifting her eyes towards the Dunstan, she asked, “What is it you’d like, Sorcerer Dunstan? And what will you give me in return?”
“Queen of the Seelie Fairies, I would ask that my apprentice and I be allowed to join your court for one earthly week. I wish for my apprentice to learn your culture and how to properly give the Fair Folk the respect they deserve.”
Reyna thought he was laying it on a bit thick, but looking at the Seelie Queen, she quickly took the thought back. The thicker the better with the queen, it seemed. Titling her head, the Seelie Queen took a long time to think over his request, finally asking “Why should I?”
“Because this would be the foundation of a great friendship, great Queen.” Dunstan’s answer sparked interest in the Fairy’s eyes and a slow smile took over her face. The smile made her look terrifying, and Reyna thought she’d seen the face of terror when she first met Lilith, but this was on an entirely different level. Reyna didn’t understand why the possibility of friendship with her master would cause this sort of reaction, and something in her gut told her she didn’t really want to know.
“A great friendship, indeed.” The Seelie Queen replied. With a nod of her head, dozens of Fairies appeared next to them in the room. They all seemed unperturbed by the fact that they were in a new location, or that there were two humans in their midst, and Reyna wondered how often this happened in their court.