Saturday, January 2, 2016
Family Ties and Outright Lies
She leaned back against the tree branch, showing no sign of the relief she felt at his departure. The subterfuge had grown tiresome. Complicated. It was the way of things with Mortals, an inherent stubborn streak that caused them to believe they alone controlled their destiny. Maeve shook her head in annoyance, and drained the last few drops in her cup. The Ridre Dubh had proved himself to be everything the prophesy had predicted, though the writings had failed to mention his obvious emotional flaws, of which she'd discovered he had many.
Behind her, there was a rustling in the foliage, and Lord Cu-Chulainn pushed his way through the leaves into the clearing. "Do you think it wise to goad him as you do, Lady Queen? There is no mention of Owen taking his lady as mate in the prophesy."
"It is much beneath your station to stand among the trees and lend an ear to private conversation, Lord Warrior. Besides, I believe I did instruct you to keep watch over the others while I spoke to him alone. Why do you not attend to your business?"
"The Mortals slumber peacefully, and Argos stands guard. There is no need of me there. I was most curious to hear the Black Knight's response to your tales of woe. Think you, he is convinced?"
"His belief suffices...for now, though he is a most ornery soul. Please tell me his training progresses on course."
"Aye, my Queen. He shows an inborn, natural skill with weapons, and a true courageous nature, though he stubbornly refuses my attempts to teach him to see beyond his eyes. There is little he accepts on faith alone. Are you quite sure he is the one you seek? There is much dark within him."
The Fairy Queen flushed an angry pink, flinging the gold cup in the direction of the Warrior's head. "Think you I would make such a careless mistake? With something of such magnitude? No, Lord Warrior, I hold no reservations. I have studied the writings for five hundred years. Checked and rechecked the genealogies. I have made no errors. My line and his...joined for the first time in nearly a millennium. It will be as it was written."
Cu-Chulainn bent low at the waist, his sword crossed over his chest. "I mean no disrespect, Lady Queen. I understand the importance of what you seek for our people. The Mortal is surely talented beyond the norm, but in all other respects, he seems tainted with the indifference of modern man. It is just that I expected...imagined...His descendant would stand above the nonsense of these times. Your Ridre Dubh is special, of that I am certain, but I am not yet convinced he is who you believe him to be."
She frowned at him, and narrowed her eyes. "I do not need you to believe it, Lord Warrior. You will do as I say because I have said it. That should surely be enough for you. You have not yet seen him with Caladbolg in hand, but when you do, rest assured, you will have no doubts. He owns that stone like no other could. I have made no mistake."
The Warrior rose, and sheathed his sword. "As you say, my Queen. I know this been your true passion for more generations than I can count. And now, only Owen stands in your way. I will do my best to prepare the Black Knight for this monumental quest." He hesitated a moment, unwilling to risk angering her again, then somberly tossed the question at her. "Will you tell him? And his lady as well? The whole truth."
She brought her knees up, and placed her chin on top. "I will tell them both. When the time is right. My Lady is just beginning to discover her Fay self, and her husband denies any connection to his family. They are not ready to hear the truth. It would only be a distraction now."
"As you think best, Your Majesty. It will not be an easy task...getting the Ridre Dubh to believe."
"You leave the Black Knight to me, Lord Warrior. He will come to see things as they are, one way or the other. And when I am finished, he will not be able to deny the truth of who he is, nor his destiny."
Strangely enough, he felt as if he had made some genuine head way in getting to the truth. As Beckett made his way back to the cabin, he replayed the conversation with the Queen in his mind. Granted, the whole fairy thing cast a crazy storybook quality to her explanation, but a passion for a personal agenda, the need for power, was something he could understand. Though he could easily relate to Owen's vendetta against his aunt for the death of his mother, he was still in total agreement with the Fairy Queen's need to execute her own sibling according to the law. Rules kept order, and order was necessary for the common good. In a strange way, he respected the Queen's commitment to doing what was best for her people. It was the backbone behind why he did what he had done for the past eight years. There was no changing people when they had a soul solid objective. It was easier...and more righteous... to just end their existence.
A few days ago, he would have found the giant spider's presence on his porch a threat, but now he found it profoundly reassuring. Nobody was getting past that thing without a fight, and considering the closest thing he had to family was inside, it gave him a sense peace to see it stationed in front of the door. As he hit the first step, the spider politely scuttled to the side to let him pass, all its eyes following his every move. Beckett nodded his head in acknowledgement toward the huge arachnid, a salute of sorts, and the beast clicked it's response in turn. It was like a scene from some B-grade sci-fi movie that felt strangely normal, and he briefly wondered if perhaps he was losing his mind.
The cabin was peacefully quiet, its occupants comfortably stretched out on various pieces of great room furniture, snoozing away in complete oblivion. Maureen was curled up on the settee, her knees tucked under her, red curls like a flaming halo around her face. He bent down to kiss the top of her head, and her eyes fluttered open immediately.
"Ted! You're back! I was so worried!" She looked around at her sleeping comrades, then at the indent in the pillow her head had made, and blushed. "Sorry...we really were concerned about your well being. One minute we were all discussing what we should do next, and then it was like we couldn't keep our eyes open no matter how hard we tried."
He kissed her again, this time on the lips, and fought an overwhelming desire to lift her off the settee and drag her upstairs to their suite. When it came to his wife, he was as bad as the rest of them about reigning in his emotions, and he worked at thinking about something other than his growing libido. He forced himself to consider Owen's hologram in the clearing out back, and his mind cleared to the point he could again think logically.
"No worries, Love. I'm guessing your need to sleep was beyond your control. Much easier to guard targets that are not moving around."
"What did she tell you, Ted? About that awful man. I know he wasn't really there, but even his image scared the crap out of me. He sounds so...angry. Bitter. He hates her, you know. It's all he thinks about. Destroying her."
"Yeah...I get that. I suppose he has reason, all things considered. But she's right. He's got to go. He's a serious threat to the Fay, and if I believe what she's telling me, Mortals as well. He'll never be convinced to believe anything different. I know that type. He's willing to die for his cause. There's no dealing with that."
She grabbed his hands and pulled him down next to her. "So...will you do it?" It was too hard to say the words, and she fumbled with what to say next. "What the Queen wants you to do?"
He didn't want her to know that in his mind, executing Owen for the greater good was no big deal. She who took in stray animals and fought for the underdog would never understand his cold, efficient thinking regarding what it was he did for a living. She knew of course. He'd told her before he married her, though granted, he didn't go into a lot of detail. But she was fully aware that the jobs he did for the government sometimes meant another human being had to die, and if she was appalled by that side of him, she never let on. Here and now, the last thing he wanted for her to realize, is that he'd kill the bastard just for the threat he made against his Desert Rose. It made him sound like a cold-blooded murderer. Which of course, if he were being completely honest, might be what he truly was.
"I don't see anyway of avoiding it, of moving on from here. Somehow, we have ourselves all caught up in this mess. I'm not even sure the how or why of it all. I just know that if Owen continues to do what he plans, things will go bad on a grand scale."
"Is she really his 'Aunt'? I mean... by blood. Or is he some long lost descendent, like me?"
"That's where the story gets really weird. He's her nephew. First generation. His mother was Maeve's sister, Siobhan. Apparently, there's been bad blood between the two for a very long time. Siobhan was the older of the two, and she expected to inherit the throne from their mother when her time came. But the sister had some issues with making poor choices, and their mother handed Maeve the crown instead. In addition, Maeve had a half mortal child, your ancestor, Liam, which was quite a coup among the fairy folk and made her legendary among her people. Despite several dalliances among mortal men through several generations, Siobhan never conceived, something that put her envy of Maeve over the top."
"So...this all came about because of sibling rivalry? It sounds crazy, but I can almost believe it. My brothers would come to blows over who they thought was Dad's favorite. And we were just an ordinary large family. I'd bet it would get really testy if royalty was involved. History is full of stories like that." She got up and began to pace the floor. "But if Siobhan couldn't conceive a mortal child, then where did Owen come from? He doesn't look much older than me."
"According to the Queen, Siobhan began to practice the ancient Black Arts, something forbidden by Fay law. She began an affair with with a mortal of dubious integrity, some guy with supposed mob connections, and through some dark 'magic'...for lack of a better word...Owen was conceived. At first, the mortal father was in alignment with the conditions of his role, but then, he got demanding about custody of his son. He threatened to take the child from her, unless she helped him use the magic for his own benefit. There was no way Siobhan was willing to do either. The man was nothing more to her than a willing sperm donor with a lack of conscience. He wound up dead somewhere in a shallow grave, his tongue cut out and his eyes removed by Fairy hand. Because of his mob connections, the authorities just assumed he'd been hit by his own kind."
"So what happened to Siobhan...and Owen? How did his mother end up dead?"
"Her sister had broken two supreme Fay laws. First, she had used the Black Arts for her personal gain, and secondly she had murdered a mortal in cold blood. Maeve had no choice but to declare her sister an enemy of the Fay. She had her hunted down and finally executed when Owen was eight years old. He witnessed his mother's punishment."
"How awful for him! I almost feel sorry for the guy. No matter how horrible, your mother is still your mother. How was she executed? Was it another Ridre Dubh?"
"There was no permanent knight available, so Cu-Chulainn was asked to preform the role. That's his connection to Maeve. He was required to cut her head from her body. Just like I'm supposed to do to Owen."
" Gross! What happened to Owen after his mother's death? I'm sure the whole experience was something hard to get over. Ya kinda can't blame him for his anger."
"Maeve took him in with the Fay, and tried to raise him as one of them. But he was fighting all kinds of marks against him. His genetics, the matter of his birth, the violent death of both of his parents. It didn't work out, and so she saw to his adoption by a wealthy mortal family, and kept an eye on him as he grew. He seemed to settle down for awhile. Was the perfect child. Smart, obedient, athletic and good-looking. Brilliant, actually. He went to Harvard Medical School, and then graduated top of his class, specializing in Human Reproduction, at age 22. Somewhere around that time, his adopted parents were found dead in what was called a ritual murder and suicide. Maeve believes Owen murdered them himself, basically for the inheritance. He's been dabbling ever since in stem cell research, tracking down the few female Fay descendants, so that he can steal their eggs and create test tube fetuses. He then takes their stem cells to inject into himself. He believes this will make him more fully Fay, and in that way, he can destroy Maeve."
Despite the 80 degree temperature, Maureen felt a shiver come over her. "He means to use me for that purpose, doesn't he?"
Beckett nodded, his face stone cold. "Because you're a royal descendant, it would be quite a prize for him. Your 'Fairy Godmother' has insisted she's been able to keep you hidden until now. She's concerned you are his next target." He took her face between his hands. "You know I won't let that happen, right? He won't ever get that near to you. I swear it with every cell in my body. I'll do whatever needs to be done to stop the bastard." He kissed her softly, and added, "Any babies you create will be ours alone, Love."
Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2016
All Rights Reserved