Sinbad awoke to the sound of Lonnie calling his name, and with a stamped of Clydesdales in his head. His vision was blurry and he could barely make out the shape of plump red head hovering above him. Still through the pounding in his brain he was able to fell panic.
“Bryn,” Sinbad said keeping his voice low and still holding his head in his hands. “Where’s Bryn,” he said again a little louder.
Lonnie’s faced paled and she answered, “I thought she was with you.”
Sinbad cursed low in his throat, “I was hit from behind, whoever clubbed me must have taken Bryn,” he said his voice harsh with anger and pain.
“But who could have done such a thing,” Lonnie said truly puzzled, “No one comes this deep into these woods for fear of the fey, and Xavier is still tied to the tree back at camp.”
“There is that word again, the fey, who are they exactly,” Sinbad asked the pain having subsided a little. “First the old man, then the sidhe I ran into, the villagers, they keep turning up in this little adventure and I want to know why,” Sinbad said tired of playing games with the forces behind this. It took him a minute due to his early disorientation to notice that as he spoke Lonnie’s face had become considerably paler and her eyes had a slight guilty look about it. Sinbad narrowed his eyes when he did notice and said.
“What do you know Lonnie,” It was a statement not a question.
The middle-aged woman was looking extremely guilty and unnerved now locking stares with the captain. Sinbad’s ocean blue eyes were piercing prying her secrets from her. The older woman took a deep breath getting ready to tell the captain the secret that had been hers and hers alone to keep for the last twenty-one years. Sinbad felt an ominous shiver travel up his spine as he waited for the woman to collect her thoughts.
“Bryn isn’t human,” Lonnie said simply starting at the most startling place in her tale.
“What!” Sinbad exclaimed, “of course she is that is…she,” Lonnie cut him off holding her hand up.
“Do you want to know this or not,” Lonnie said with an annoyed look, “I swore an oath to that child’s mother never to speak of what I know unless it would somehow save the young lass. I believe that time has come now, twenty-one years later,” the woman finished. Sinbad remained silent after that admonishment and waited for her to continue.
“And I correct myself, she has to be at least half human since she displays the human quality of compassion,” Lonnie mused thoughtfully. The robust red head gave a deep sigh and continued, “Shannon and I found the young lass Bryn in a field of wild flowers, naked except for the necklace she still wears around her neck. There was a note with her, not signed, it said that the child was no longer safe among her people and to any mortal who found her to raise her as their own. I had a brood of my own and didn’t have the resources to raise another one, but Shannon; she fell instantly in love with the wee babe, gladly taking her in. I warned her of course that this was more than likely a fey child and It might not be wise to take her in. Shannon of course didn’t care, she raised that girl as her own swearing me to secrecy about her origins.”
“You still haven’t answered my question, what are the fey,” Sinbad asked truly wondering why these people had a fear of these creatures.
“The fey are any of the veil folk that dwell in the land of faerie,” Lonnie answered a little nervously, “They are said to be fallen angels some of them, not good enough for heaven, nor evil enough to find a place in hell. It is why they are slightly feared by some mortals and loathed by others.”
“But you suspected Bryn’s origin and didn’t fear her,” Sinbad pointed out.
“You are right I didn’t fear that child, she is the most loving person that I have ever had the pleasure of walking this earth with. I do know however that due to the fey power inside of her, her wrath can be dangerous to behold. That is what I fear laddie, as should you,” Lonnie concluded forcefully.
“I will never fear Bryn,” Sinbad said with a quite sincerity that booked no arguments.
“Because you love her,” Lonnie said in resignation.
“Because I love her,” Sinbad echoed knowing the words to be the truest he had ever spoken in his young life. Funny he thought, finally admitting it had brought him a peace he had been searching for…for as long as he could remember.
“Then we had better go and find her,” the older woman said in determination, “and I know just were to look.”
Bryn awoke with a pounding headache, having to force her burning eyes to focus on her surrounding. When she was finally able to focus she realized that she was able to freely move. She was in a lavishly decorated bed chamber, the carefully woven tapestries hanging on the walls works of art in gold and silver thread. The furniture was beautifully polished wood, heavy, solid and gleaming. The young witch had never seen such a place before, not even in the Sultan’s palace. Bryn didn’t even try to fight her curiosity as she rose from the comfortable bed and started to survey the room. The young magic holder walked from one corner of the room to another in virtual awe of its grandeur. She was so caught up in her surroundings that she didn’t here the door open and missed seeing the absurdly dressed man that entered her room.
“Well Princess I hope that your camber’s suit your fancy,” the man said in a deep merry voice.
Bryn spun on her heels instantly alert. Stretching her abilities out she tried to sense if he intended her harm. The young witch found it strange that she sensed no danger in this place despite how she had gotten there.
“Who are you,” she asked calmly taking in the strange appearance of the man before her. He was almost a head sorter then she with pointed ears and cloven feet. Two small goat horns adorned the top of his head and his eyes danced with mischief. Bryn briefly wondered why she felt she had seen such a creature before.
“Who am I says the maiden most fair, remembers me not little one of the Golden Hair,” the little Goblin said with a perfect bow, “I am Robin Goodfellow, Puck if you dare choose, and you are the faeire Queen’s long lost muse.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Bryn said truly confused by this little Goblin’s way with words, “I don’t know any faerie Queen,” she added uncertainty in her eyes.
“Little Ellyllon knows not the Queen? How this can be is not known to me. Ah ‘tis no matter one most fair, you are the heir of the Golden Hair. In time your memory will seek your brain and Fomor his death you will bring. Still Finvarra awaits, he’s King come see, The ruler of fey awaitith thee.”
The Puck said these words making no sense to the young witch. Puzzled and intrigued she followed the being wondering just what in the name of Allah was going on here.
Lonnie was busily walking around yet another hill making Sinbad even more impatient then he was a few minutes ago. The young captain was getting frustrated again and not liking it one bit. He vowed that if him and Bryn ever got out of this situation he would never allow himself to be frustrated again. It was too tiring of an emotion. Sinbad sighed again when he saw Lonnie check the ground for perhaps the hundredth time; he was about to suggest that they try another hill when the middle age woman all of a sudden jumped back. Sinbad watched astonished as ever so slowly the hill started to open and light poured from within its bowels.
“Well this is as far as I go sailor,” Lonnie said turning to the captain, “you have to do the rest yourself.”
The captain looked sharply at Lonnie and asked “Afraid!?”
Lonnie just glared at the young man and answered, “What are you daft, of course I’m not afraid, it is just that since you love her the way you do only you can go into Finvarra’a lair, and not get yourself trapped there for all eternity.” Lonnie replied like it was a perfectly reasonable explanation and any child should have known.
Sinbad actually had to smile at that and said, “Well then if that is the case then wish me luck.”
“Turn your shirt inside out first,” the middle aged woman said in exasperation. Rather then question this strange request he just did as he was told.
“There, now you be protected form their magic,” she said pleased that he had listened to her,” and I do wish you luck my boy.”
Sinbad gave the good-natured older woman a quick peck on the cheek causing her to blush, “Thanks Lonnie,” he said simply.
“Don’t be thanking me yet, off with you now, and mind what I told you about the King. He’s a wily one he is,” she said shooing him toward the entrance. He gave her a cocky grin and entered the faerie realm. Sinbad failed to hear Lonnie’s final words.
“Aye good luck to you indeed lad, you are going to need it.”
Bryn followed Puck into a majestic throne room, the likes of which she had never seen. Unlike the relative small circular shaped throne rooms the Sultan’s favored, this one was huge, with strange scenic tapestries, and long, lush rolled out carpets. The entire Nomad could fit in here, Bryn thought to herself. The large lavish reception hall was in sharp contrast to the two small figures perched on matching ornately carved thrones. Bryn sized both mysterious figures up as she approached them. The man, who she assumed to be Finvarra the King, was dressed in velvet with a large gold crown upon his prominent brow. The elf King was indeed handsome if somewhat short. He wore a short well-trimmed beard over his chiseled jawbone that was shot with a dusting of gray hair. His jet-black hair was also graying a little at the temples giving the king a distinguished look. If the King was handsome then the Queen was nothing beyond stunning. She had golden blonde hair that flowed in flaxen waves to the small of her back and her eyes were a startling pale blue. There was however coldness about her perfect features that chilled Bryn to her soul. The empath could feel the intense dislike the Queen had of her, not understanding why in the least. The young witch could also feel the fey Queen’s cold stare penetrating her soul, and was about to speak until Puck took it upon himself to introduce her.
“My King, my Queen, allow me to prevail,
upon the your grace and majesty,
and to tell you a tale.
Of old times past and new begun,
here the human, the thread is sown.
I present to you now the witch, the child
Many a man she has beguiled.
So without further ado I give you the way
The woman to bridge both mortal and fey.”
The King’s eyes held a twinkle of desire as he surveyed the young witch from head to toe. Her discomfort increased as she now noted the anger churning from his wife thanks to his little perusal.
“Thank you Robin, you will be richly rewarded for the service you have done me,” Finvarra said to the Goblin and then turned to Bryn. “Well my little half-ling allow me to introduce myself, I am Finvarra King of the fey of Ira, and this is my wife Oonagh my Queen.” The Queen gave Bryn a slight nod when the King introduced her, which the young witch returned in kind. She then focused her attention on Finvarra.
“Why do you call me half-ling, half of what, from what I have discovered both my parents were mortal,” Bryn said puzzled and a little angered by the term.
“If you speak of that Cur and his angel that raised you then yes they were indeed mortal, but they were not your parents by birth,” the King replied dropping this startling knowledge on the young witch.
“N-n-not my parents,” Bryn stuttered. Along with being stunned the young empath was feeling a variety of emotions, the tide of which almost overwhelmed her senses. How many more secrets must she endure she thought in anger. She forceful pulled her self together, faced the King and asked. “Then who are my parents, by Allah I have searched for so long, who brought me into this world,” she said unmindful of the tears that had started to fall.
“I know only of your mother, the Queen of the Daoine sidhe (Theena Shee), daughter of the sea God Manannan, last of the Tuatha de Danann (Tootha day danan). I know only her, Niamh of the Golden hair, she is your mother princess Bryn er Ellyllon,” the king said softly his voice raising with each title. “And now, you are mine,” he added calmly.
“What!!” Bryn exclaimed still reeling form this latest revelation and now to have him claim her like, like she was a prize to be won.
“Think again your majesty,” Bryn spat her anger having won it’s dominance over the others. “I’m leaving…right now,” and with that she spun on her heals.
The King simply replied in indifference; “I am sorry that you feel this way my little half- ling.” The King then calmly said to his nearest guards, “Kill her.” Bryn was instantly surrounded. The young witch shot shocked eyes to the King and then quickly turned her attention to the guards as one attacked. She sidestepped the attack and brought her right knee up into her attacker’s gut. The powerful blow knocked the wind out of the man who Bryn finished off with a savage blow his face, using the pad of her right hand to fell him. The sickening crack of bone could be heard as her fist broke his nose on impact. One down fifteen more to go the young witch thought silently hoping that Sinbad decide to join this little party.
Bryn used all of her considerable training to fend off three more attackers. All three went down and were not going to get back up again anytime soon, but Bryn was tiring. Another solider attacked, Bryn parried the blow expertly, with the sword she had taken from one of the fallen guards, and was able to fend him off. However while her sword was locked with the one soldier another had come up behind her and was about to cleave her into two matching halves. Mid-swing Bryn’s second attacker’s sword was halted be another’s and Bryn found herself starring at the most welcome sight ever to befall her. Sinbad quickly dispatched Bryn’s second attacker while Bryn, grinning now round house kick her opponent into dreamland. The two shipmates went back to back then and continued fighting the rest of the King’s men.
Sinbad was fighting harder then he had in a long time. Sweat was starting to pour down his brow as more and more soldier’s came out of the woodwork. The young captain knew that, as accomplished at fighting as him and Bryn were, they were still grossly outnumbered. Sinbad knew that he had to do something fast or him and his crewmate would be sharing matching caskets to go with their matching bracelets. That is when it hit him, something Lonnie told him about Finvarra coupled with what Mala had told him in Scratch’s lair. Ok then time for the brain to get us out of this mess.
“Finvarra,” Sinbad yelled while fending off yet another attacker, “I have a challenge for you.”
“And what might that be foolish mortal,” Finvarra said his amusement at Sinbad’s gall evident.
“I Sinbad, captain of the Nomad, master chess player, challenge you Finvarra king of the fey to a game of chess,” Sinbad said still fighting the guards. “If I win then me and Bryn leave with our lives and our freedom…lose…” Sinbad added letting the sentence dangle.
Finvarra just laughed at this challenge. He was considered far and wide as the best chess player, in the realm of mortal and fey. Kings had lost entire fortunes to the fey King in one match of game play. Still the young man’s arrogance intrigued him and he decide to see if this Sinbad could make good his boast. With a wave of his hand the soldiers stopped their attack.
“I accept your terms,” Finvarra said thinking that he had never won a battle so easily.
A few hours later, brow furrowed the captain of the Nomad was indeed regretting his boast. Sinbad had not been bluffing; he was an accomplished chess player having been taught the game by Master Dim-Dim. Still Finvarra was winning having taken most of the young captain’s pieces one being his queen. The young sailor had moved her out too soon in the game and the Fey King wasted no time in depriving him of her. Sinbad was starting to sweat now, nothing less than him and Bryn’s very lives rested on this game.
Finvarra was extremely content by the way this game had gone so far. He was an amiable enough fellow when things went his way and the game had indeed gone his way. With the satisfied smirk of one who knows he has won the Fey King made his next move.
Sinbad double blinked his eyes not sure if he had seen what he thought he had just seen, or if what had just happened, really happened. He looked at the board again and almost let out his exclamation of joy. His blue eyes locked with Bryn’s brown ones, the young witch having watched the game in silence, and saw her slight nod affirming what he already knew. Finvarra had made a mistake, a fatal mistake. The young captain had won, it was five moves away, but it was there. Finvarra’s arrogance had just become his undoing.
Sinbad took full advantage of his knowledge pausing to think over his moves like he was trying in desperation to find a way out of the game. The captain’s feigned desperation served its purpose as the Fey King continued to wear a haughty, self-assured look. Three moves in, however, the King noticed what was happening and started to sweat. He disregarded his discomfort though and continued to play. Two more moves later the King was angrily throwing the board across the room as Sinbad looked him right in the eye and said, “Checkmate.”