Oak was one of the oldest fairies in Fairyland. She had been around longer than Dagda,the king of the Unseelie court, her age showed with her grey hair falling out in clumps, her face was lined with dozens of wrinkles, her body was shriveled like dry fruit, her hands were swollen at the joints. Long ago, Oak had traded her silken black hair for knowledge and her youthful face for the safety of her people. She did not mind, mentally she never felt young anyway. Oak was knocked out of her thoughts by a loud insistent knocking. Cong, the Asian boy beside her, jumped up from the wooden stool where he was sitting.
“Do you want me to answer it?” Cong asked quietly.
“No, ”said Oak. “I will answer it.” She hobbled over to the door and opened it. It was the ruler of the Seelie Court, King Briar. He was a tall middle-aged fairy with a round face, short stature and black hair. “If you expect me to curtsy or bow or whatever it is royalty expects. Then prepare to be disappointed,” Oak said.
The King scowled. “I demand to be shown respect.”
Oak smiled. “You can’t demand respect, your highness, it has to be earned.“I’m the king,” Briar insisted.
Oak smiled mysteriously. “Not for long.”
Briar looked startled. “What do you mean by that?”
Oak looked at him. “Oh just ignore me, I’m a senile old woman after all.”
Briar drew his sword “and” Oak laughed. “You think you can threaten me with death? When you’re as old as I am nothing scares you; not even the Grimm Reaper.”
Briar smiled grimly. “Oh, it’s not for you.” Then in one swift motion, he grabbed Cong and held the sword to his throat. The boy’s eyes were filled with panic.
“You’re a despicable fairy, Briar!” Oak spat angrily, looking scared for the first time.
Briar laughed. “I thought nothing scared you,” he mocked. Oak glared at him. “Okay then, I guess this puny mortal means nothing to you,” Briar said.
“No, wait!” Oak shouted. “There’s a change in the air. The magic that held Fairy together is unraveling. Soon our world will not exist separately from the mortal world, as we have for thousands of years but instead as a part of it.”
Briar glared at her. “You’re telling me we’ll be forced to live with… mortals!” he spat.
Oak sighed. “Your prejudice is sad. Yes, but you won’t be around.”
Briar looked relieved and announced. “Ah, so I’ll be long after our passing.”
“Now let him go,” Oak demanded.
Briar shoved Cong away from him as if he were a leper. Oak wrapped her thin arms around the boy protectively. Briar glared at Oak. “Tell me how to fix the veil.”
“You can’t stop it, but a Leanansidhe might.”
Briar grinned triumphantly. “It just so happens I have two.”
Oak frowned at the knowledge. “Yes, I know neither you nor the Erlking, Greyman, knows how to treat a Leanansidhe right.”
Briar ignored her and stormed out of her cabin. Oak turned to Cong. “Are you alright?” she asked concerned.
“I could have knocked him senseless.” the boy declared barring his teeth. Then he gave her a respectful bow. “Thank you for saving me, Grandmother.”
Oak patted his head. “You’re young, you still have time to learn.” She sighed. “Unlike some people. Briar’s foolishly trying to fix things which are beyond his control.”
“There’s a change coming, big change. Even that fool Briar felt it that’s why he came. We all must either learn to swim or get swept away with the tide.” the boy stated.
She sighed feeling a sense of agitation sweep over her.
Cong placed a hand on her shoulder in silent comfort.