Tiyan was slowly chewing the meat he stripped from the boar and cooked into a stew, while observing the door to his parents’ room. His sister was tucked into the warm furs, sitting by the firelight, with eyes half closed, drifting into sleep. The doctor came, bandaged her wounds and left, allowing the family to settle after what happened with the dog. An hour ago Tiyan saw by the window, how Gravir cleans the courtyard from the body, and shovels the fresh snow, to clear the blood.
During his hunts, Tiyan killed many animals. But this… this was a touch of magic. Evil magic, which boiled the sanity out the dog’s head. It was as terrifying as sad.
His parents were quarreling behind the closed door. He felt that the subject was him. They quarreled only when he was the subject. Something tempted him to just go there and eavesdrop, but Lessa would see and grandmother Saya too. Besides, he had enough honor to not to.
And he was afraid of what he could hear.
“We should open the window” he heard a silent voice.
Tiyan looked at his grandmother. She was old, older than war. She was an oldest person living in Vennklan Valley and he could bet that even in neighboring villages. Sometimes she was seeing things no one did aside from her. Gravir thought it’s caused by her age. Tiyan thought that Saya was touched by magic too.
“Gra, it’s too cold” he just said, but was curious why she suggested that. He didn’t have to wait long.
“The little fairies want to warm their wings” was the enigmatic answer.
“I doubt they would care about the cold,” said Tiyan, eating another bite of meat. “They are servants of Kilyans. They are used to it.”
“Not these” Saya smiled lightly. “These are sent by the cat.”
Always the cat. He was present in many stories and visions that Saya’s enchanted mind was creating. The cat that is sending the fairies. The cat that stole the moon. The cat that one day eats the sun and drinks its light. Tiyan always wanted to ask who is the cat and how he connects with magic that swallows the land, but somehow, he knew that Saya doesn’t have an answer for that.
Gravir raised his voice behind the door and Tiyan quickly swallowed the morsel, soundfully, to not hear why he was so angry. Possibly – because of him, as always. But he really didn’t want to hear.
“Gra, tell us a story” murmured Lessa from her furs. “And I don’t want the fairies to enter. They are mean.”
Tiyan almost shushed her, but realized that it was something they both needed. Something to calm nerves after the ordeal and silence the quarreling parents.
“What kind of story would you like?” Saya closed her eyes.
“Something only you remember” peeped Lessa and hid even deeper into the furs.
“Something that is both true and not true” fired Tiyan. Legends. They held wisdom of the older days and the possibility of any part of them being real, was making them twice as thrilling.
“Then… I will tell you about the damned ones” Saya opened her eyes and started to tell the tale, bathing the room in the unlight of the old times.
“The fae stood out of the moon and stars, created by the the One. They were beautiful like the sun and mysterious like the night. Seelie, whom we call saru, loved the world and everything that lived on it, but Unseelie, known to us as kilyans, were cruel and they liked to look at the suffering of smaller and bigger creatures. The One was unhappy that they lived together, so he tore one of his seven hands and blood fell on kilyans, the black blood of the god. From that moment they were forced to live outside of the land of shee, in forests and mountains, far from civilization. What One did, was not to the liking of Manus, the father of the gods. But he couldn’t force the One to sew his leg again up to his body, so he created a different kingdom for Unseelie, behind the mountains and the forest which they inhabited. Then the Courts were born, the Seelie Court, where everything smelled of flowers and the sun was shining, and the Unseelie Court, which hid in the eternal darkness. Then people came to Avras, and saru took them under their protection, knowing that kilyans will want to destroy them. For many years, the protection of the saru allowed people to prosper and be happy and wealthy. Saru walked with people, like the bright messengers of the gods who were sent to give and never to take. But the One didn’t like it. He didn’t create people and scrutinized them, so he took the saru from human land. Suddenly they disappeared, and then kilyans, fae of black hearts and immeasurable cruelty, attacked the land of people for the first time.”
Tiyan heard the story many times. But he listened to it now, like a prelude to something he didn’t fully understand.
“Kilyans killed almost everyone, but a small group of people survived, and kilyans didn’t hear about them, nor knew about them; their village grew and the kingdom of people began to revive again. Kilyans, busy with their affairs and court intrigues, didn’t care about them, didn’t even know they exist. As long as the king didn’t start sending settlers deep into the mountains, oblivious to the danger. Kilyans had been busy developing their own lands and once they reached the peaks of their success, they remembered their neighbors and the ones who survived. Then the Great War came. The Kilyans, filled with pride, decided to conquer the humans and enslave their lands.”
The grandmother’s eyes blinked with an unusual glint.
“But those who know the fae know too, that they don’t do anything without reason. Good reason. Reason, who we can’t embrace.”
That was new. Saya behaved differently too, her hand reached to blankets she had on her lap and taking them off, she slowly approached the window. Lessa and Tiyan observed her like they were enchanted, until she opened it with fast movement and inhaled deeply the freezing air. The snow entered the room, swirling like in dance.
Tiyan jumped to her, taking her back from the window, Lessa squealed, feeling cold.
It all happened in less than three seconds, but it allowed Tiyan to look into Saya’s eyes. They were cold and blind, like her pupils and irises changed into ice.
“I don’t want the fairies to enter” murmured Lessa, but the windows were closed and no one came inside.
And grandmother’s eyes again were blue and tired. But Tiyan knew what he saw. The magic started to spread more violently and he was the one that brought it to this home.