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Profane News: Continuity & Such

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When I began Profane Tales in 2013 I had no idea it would evolve into the two separate entities it is now. Those being the dark sitcom-esque comics you see in the comics panel and the homage/parody of fairy tales short stories you see in the short stories sections. Originally it was planned for the two to be chronologically connected and to share the same continuity.
Now, without spoiling anything about the end of Arc 1, which is swiftly approaching the original set of short stories now being revised and audio recorded, I will say that the short comics and the stories have become two separate worlds. They no longer exist in the same continuity. With the exception of “Gelding in the Fairlands,” “Mid-Samhain Dream,” and “Green Fairy Cometh,” all of the short comics exist in their own silly world universe. The three mini comicbooks fit into the series of short stories. I have them placed properly on the index page to avoid confusion as to where they go.
I originally hoped to do more comicbooks. However, I have discovered that my gift, when it comes to comics, lies in short zingers and character humor. I might do some multiple page joke comics but long comicbooks will not be done in the near future and I will be focusing the long stories into prose/text where my true talent lies. I am a writer first and an artist by hobby. I do not think I will ever be remembered for my art and this is fine with me, though I do aim to improve every time.
Short stories might soon be accompanied by illustrations as well. It depends on how things turn out for the site.
The next big announcement is the coming of the first Novella for the site!
At the end of Arc 1—the first set of short stories—will be the Rue: a Comedy of Errors. It will be an inexpensive eBook available for your eyeballs’ and brains’ viewing pleasures. The opening will be put up on the site to wet your pallet and make you hungry for more then you will just have to buy the rest!
Then the second set of stories will begin and our Profane journey will finally continue.
In the meantime, silly comics will go on as usual.
Thank you dearly for reading these fantasy-comedy-horror abominations. May your day be blessed and your February not depressive!
~BriarProse

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short story: Winter Solstice (part 2 of 2)

1
IN THE Fairy Court as the soft snow fell, the Winter Giantess visited to behold the Child-Eater Rue had caught. She wished to see if the Fairy Queen’s favor had been kept. The Queen’s servant led the Winter Goddess to a dungeon, passed many a cage where demons rattled their chains and pushed against bars with thorns that never would give. In his cage the snowy beast sat with his chain holding him to the wall. Upon seeing the Goddess, he grunted steam and charged towards the bars.
“Eeegaaapooragabeara!” growled the Child-Eater.
The Goddess smirked. “The Fairy Queen’s favor is repaid. Do with him as you please. So long as he does not go free ever again,” she swished her cold cape and left this descendent of her creation behind to the fate of demons captured by fae.
The Fairy Queen gazed into the cage and smiled. “He is a rare specimen. I do not think I shall part with him.

2
BUT THE Fairy Queen had quite the task before her. For breaking in the wild beast would not be easy. First and foremost, she would have him endure the Beasts of Burden test to determine if he was among the donkey, horses, goats, lions and other dumb brutes or if he stood among the humans, fairies, gods and other intellectuals. Puck administered the test and could not coax the creature to speak a fairfolk language or in Man’s many tongues.
“Oh but I heard him sing in it, I swear!” Rue told Puck. They stood at the center of a great labyrinth with flowers that watched them as they moved. Puck went over his list as Rue fretted.
“I am sorry, princess. But if he does speak the language he simply refuses to prove it to me so I cannot mark it off. He may have been parroting. In which case he doesn’t understand what he’s saying.”
The creature had managed through the maze with cheese at the end, sitting on a tiny table. Now he pointed to the cheese while exclaiming gutturals. Puck approached and locked the leash to his collar again.
“What is he saying?” Rue asked.
“Something unpleasant involving socks, I believe. This refusal to speak fairfolk tongue might be rebellion, you know?”
“So what is it?” Rue asked, peering into the Creature’s vacant, slit-like pupils. “Is he a Beast? Or is he just a brute like Brutus.”
“He’s a brute according to this test. He scored too high to be placed alongside the ape. Which we could have guessed from his parentage.”
“But he acts like…” Rue pointed to the Creature as he sniffed under his armpit and then licked the inside of his nose with his long, prehensile tongue.
Puck folded his arms and looked at Rue. “Princess.”
“What?”
“You know better than to judge a creature based on their characteristics, don’t you?”
“It’s simply just that… I don’t think he functions on the level that Hayce, Brutus and the other demons function on. He might be better suited to a job with the beasts of burden.”
Puck handed Rue the scores on the chart and pulled on the Creature’s leash. The Creature pulled back, tugging Puck off the ground. Rue had to stomp her foot to get him to behave. He seemed to fear or respect Rue so he stopped tugging and followed Puck’s lead with Rue following behind. They led him to meet the other slaves.
He grunted something in his canine-like gibberish and Puck answered in kind:
“Yes there will be lactose-tolerant foods, I promise. No, I don’t know why cheese was at the end of the maze.”
Puck and the princess took the Creature to the Queen’s garden where her head slaves were lined up for inspection that day. His long tongue hung out as he looked and sniffed all the new faces while Rue led him down the line. Hayce giggled, recognizing the Creature. “How’s it feel to be trapped forever now, you long-tongued bitch!”
Rue placed him at the end of the line and in walked the Fairy Queen. Rue remained to watch the scene but Puck had to leave to serve his King. Instantly the creature began to struggle with his bindings. When he saw the Queen he began to yell and slash his claws out at the air. The Queen’s excitement grew.
“Oh someone knows who is alpha here and wants to fight.”
She snapped to a servant to bring her a whip. She used it on the brute but only sparingly, for she did not want it to lose its impact. The creature fell to his knees.
Once he had grown quiet, too weary to fight, head bowed, the Queen walked down the line. She gave introduction for his benefit.
“You are my ensemble. You will be my parade. Unlike some of my ensemble, you are not free of will. Any who refuse me or step out of line will be my meal or made an example of—“
In mid-speech, in ran a small faun with his manhood clutched between his hands. The nymph next to the Creature whispered.
“At this hour every day the Pee Man arrives.”
The Pee Man promptly urinated at all of their feet and then left.
The Creature exclaimed in gutturals at the sky.
Brutus replied “Of course it makes no sense. This is the Fairlands!”

3
NOT LONG after being broken in, the nymphs went to fetch the demon only to find that he had not eaten the meal given to him. At first it was believed to be the selection given to him so a different kind of meal was provided, one consisting of all meat. But this he turned away as well. The following day he also turned his food away despite mighty grumbles sounding from his belly.
Hayce reported this to the Queen with some confusion. “The new fucking creature won’t put any of the shitty food in his damn belly.”
“Hmm, sounds like a damn dilemma,” the Queen reflected.
“Wash that thing’s mouth out with soap again,” the King gestured to Hayce from his throne.
“Darling, if it did not work the first sixty times it will not work the sixty-first.”
“Agh,” the King rolled his eyes, but did offer her his own idea of a solution “What about your force-feeding device? Not for Hayce. But for the snow-creature that goes on hunger-strike.”
“Ah, my King,” the Queen cooed, stroking his chin. “I do love the wickedness of your mind.”
“’tis your creation. I take no claim over the foul device.”
“Come, Hayce!” the Queen snapped to her nymph. “We will put something in the demon’s belly yet. Even if I have to sew his lips shut.”
Tall Amazonian nymphs dragged the demon to one of the Queen’s many private chambers within the castle where he was chained to the floor. The creature grumbled and uttered gutturals that the Fairy Queen could not understand and without Puck to interpret she did not bother to know.
She thought that because he could not talk to her, she best not talk to him and brought forth a device with a handle and screw to insert into his maw. He withdrew and snapped at her. Hayce spoke up, “Your Majesty, perhaps best to tell him why you punish him so.”
“He cannot respond to me,” the Queen shrugged. “What is the point?”
Hayce could not understand her logic but to question the Queen would be idiotic and dangerous. She watched as the mighty fae leapt upon the creature and pried his jaws open. Acidic spittle and the long, prehensile tongue flew out. The tongue wrapped around the Queen’s neck but she pried open the jaws successfully and inserted the device. Once there and held in place she began to force the mouth open and hold it that way.
“Bring me the cheese!” the Queen exclaimed to Hayce.
“But, Your Majesty!”
“I said—the cheese, Hayce.”
“Yes Your Majesty,” and the nymph obeyed much to the demon’s thrashing disapproval.

5
“HE’S NOT such a bad monster,” Rue stated to Puck who nodded in agreement. They stared at the creature in his cell where he rested his head between his knees in apparent defeat.
“We just need to find him his place.”
“Tell me again why the Queen’s ensemble hasn’t worked out,” Rue asked.
The week had passed with attempts to integrate the untamed brute into the Queen’s ensemble of spirits. But upon entering the forest, chained to a centaur that led the way, the creature tripped the centaur and attacked a faun. The faun received a mighty slashing and nearly became the newly enslaved monster’s meal. The Queen, peeved, sent the creature to one of the torture chambers to be broken. She also demanded that he part his mouth and speak fairfolk tongue or Man’s tongue, which Rue confirmed he knew. He spoke neither and allowed himself to be stretched on the rack.
Again, it was attempted to use him in the parade of spirits but when it marched through the Fairlands one of the citizens caught sight of the being and screamed in utmost horror. The old gnome there passed away of fright, fell over and her entire gnome colony mourned her. It was said this new slave was a bad omen to even behold.
The Queen then was in a pickle. What to do with her new slave?
Puck recounted these obstacles for Rue and she fretted.
“Mother will not kill him, though. He is one-of-the-kind. She never kills rarities. Thank goodness”
“I do think I have an idea, Princess.” Puck told her.
“What might that be, Puckadoodle?”
“We have been focusing on ornamentation and domestic work. Perhaps the creature is not one for these things. Perhaps he is one for battle.”
Rue bounced on the balls of her feet, “Perhaps you are on to something!”
And so Puck proposed to weaponized the Creature, who seemed to be berserk in nature anyway. So the Queen kept him at the castle with other satyrs who were not working and brought him out when need called for intimidating an enemy. In this case the goblin subjects, who again were trying to start a domestic war. They had smuggled in a male dragon from the Old-World without a permit and the Queen thought to bring in the Creature simply as an intimidation tactic. But rather than appear before their leader snarling and frightful, he went straight for the adolescent dragon and mounted the young creature.
“So he humped a dragon? He’s a slow learner,” Puck told the Queen. “Give him another shot. Isn’t that the kind of thing you encourage?”
“Indeed. But not when I order him to do something else!” the Queen waved her hand. “I am about to put him in confinement and simply keep him there.”
“That would be cruelty beyond death, Your Majesty,” Puck reminded her. “You must have your limits.”
She appeared to not be listening and sauntered out of the throne room.

6
“Brutus,” Puck interviewed his friend satyr, who flanked the Queen’s ensemble often. “Would you say you are happy as the Queen’s slave?”
“Some days are worse than others. But I am often allowed to frighten maidens and young boys. The orgies are plentiful, the wine is good and the Queen is usually fair. Why?”
“I just come to wonder about the new hybrid we brought on,” Puck confessed.
“Oh, isn’t that my son?” Brutus thought back on the story the Winter Goddess told.
Puck nodded. “Supposedly. By the way, great fathering skills.”
“How am I to keep track of all the spawn I sire?” the demon demanded with a shrug. “Besides, he will adapt. None of us like it at first. You did not when you were a slave.”
“But it was different for myself. Even for you—“
“Obviously,” Brutus grunted with a shrug. “You have power. Power forces them to pay attention to you. Most satiric demons go through this, Puck. Quit being a leaky cunt about it.”
Puck slapped him. “I should have known better than to confide in a pulsing cock.”
He marched out of the green house and into the hallway. When he entered the throne room he found a commotion as if to prove the point of his conversation with Brutus. The creature tugged against his bindings, pulling on the knot, fingers agile and at work. He frothed at the mouth but as he did so he also seemed to concentrate and work steadily at the puzzle of undoing these master knots. He also flung the fairies that held in in place at the all. When the bindings were broken, he shrunk into the shadows.
“Oh shit!”
A sprite sounded an alarm. It blew on a small horn. “Prisoner escape! Prisoner escape!”
Puck ran forward and examined the untied knots. They had been complicated. The kind used on mighty beasts. But not intellectuals. “What were you thinking!” he exclaimed to the staff. “Using a knot instead of a lock!”

7
THE DOORS of the palace shut and locked and all the defenses went up and in search of the Creature who had gotten loose. Puck’s own assistant Hibiscus was doing her best to avoid all the ruckus. Her wings buzzed in her terror as she snuck to her room. She did not see the shadow that sneaked behind her or predict the hand that wrapped around her neck. She cried out as the Creature pulled her from the ground. He showed her his face, only what she saw was not the face of the Creature she had known. Gone was the ordinary mouth and apparent was a blank canvas, slit open with tears for teeth.
Hibby’s scream carried across the halls and alerted the fae to her peril. Such perilous proximity squeezed tears out of the fairy and the Creature licked them up. When the Sprites attacked with their usual ravenous magic, the creature spread to shadows with his prey shook them from his tail.
In another location of the palace, his clawed hand over Hibby’s mouth, the Creature made his way to a window.
The Queen’s soldiers bursts in, fanged amazonian nymphs known to bring proud armies to their knees. The Creature casts shadows about the room and all went dark so that they could not see. And within that darkness a light grew that allowed them only to see those things they feared the most. He took this moment of panic—for the soldiers did panic when they all saw their worst fears—to climb out of the window.
At last the Fairy King himself entered the scene. He dispelled the Creature’s spell, ending the shadow and the fears. He called the darkness off and found all the soldiers cowering. When he saw that the Creature had escaped out of the window he looked out and watched him climbing down the palace with Hibby in arm. He took wing and flew down to meet the Creature at his level.
“Meet me upon the ground and we will battle for your freedom.”
The thing grunted, continuing down while Hibby bit and kicked.
“I know that you understand me, much as you pretend you do not. But that act is ended. The next act begins!” the Fairy King landed on the ground, boots hardly sinking in the snow. When the Creature landed his hooves sank deep.
The King shot a magical vine at the Creature’s arm which turned promptly into a snake that bit him. The Creature dropped his prey. Hibby wasted no time in flapping her wings and flying away. The Creature roared at the King and the two males sized one another up.
“Such a misery you are to both worlds,” the King exclaimed. “Drinker of innocence and now that you are prisoner my wife cannot find a place for you in court.”
The Creature pointed to the snow and from it rose a figure. This figure began to form into someone who faced the King. But the King dispelled it before it could finish.
“Fears and shadows will not work on me.”
He shot another spell at the Creature, tying his hands together with vines that became shackles.
“Your place may best be suited in the ground.”
The Creature roared again and the King sent another enchanted vine that wrapped around his hooves. He pulled and the mighty satyr toppled.
“Pity. You were good at what you did. You are not the first and you will not be the last who valued freedom more than their life. For that you have my respect.” He approached and summoned a shadow that became a poisonous snake. His boot held the satyr’s head in place and more chains formed all around his body to keep him still. The snake dangled inches above the Creature, who shut his eyes tight but refused to speak the fairy’s language. As his death slithered inches closer to him, the Creature heard the familiar cry of the Fairy Princess.
“Papa, wait!” Rue exclaimed. “Put away your snake!”
“For what reason do you interrupt?” the King asked.
“I have an idea. He may yet find usefulness.”

8
RUE AND Puck stood before he Fairy Queen with the Creature, who Rue had begun to call “Krampus,” so nicknamed for his claws and his refusal to reveal his actual name.
“So, we understand the shortage of innocent tears,” Puck proposed “the Isle of Children has only a handful of mortal children and you can only cause so many tears before you cross into the line of ethical problems with your husband.”
The Queen rolled her eyes, languishing in her chair. “Point out the obvious to me, why don’t you.”
“But none of us understand more how important this ingredient is to certain spells, Mama,” Rue soothed. “Puck and I were discussing this and we came up with an idea.”
The two fairies turned their gaze to Krampus who glared at the Queen with mild interest, seeming to expect a whip or some other form of torture.
“Obviously, letting him loose every night is out of the question. But as a birthday present to you, perhaps once every winter, he could be loosed onto the mortal world,” Puck proposed, “to gather the tears of children or perhaps even…children themselves.”
The Queen smirked. They had her interest now. She sat upright.
“But!” Rue added.
The Queen rolled her eyes “What is the catch?” she sighed.
“Papa says only bad children may be brought back to the Fairlands. Otherwise Krampus would go wild with capture-lust.”
“You’ve named him?”
“Well…” Rue blushed. “Yes, I think it’s a cute name. Don’t you? It’s better than calling him the Creature.”
“Hmm. Krampus. I like it,” the Queen agreed. “So…naughty children brought to me once every winter. But, my sweet daughter, how does your brute benefit from this? I know your altruistic ways. There must be more to the surface.”
“Well, for one night he gets to do what he was made to do and drink some of those tears. True, he cannot eat the children but he would enjoy the chase. Won’t you?”
She finally turned to the creature himself who seemed to be gazing off into space. He grunted. Rue looked to Puck.
Puck confirmed “He said yes. But also that the socio-economic condition in the Fairlands is a mystery to him. And being enslaved under the Fairy King and Queen makes him question the cruelty of the creature known as Man in his title as Most Foul Being. He also wants to know what else he will be doing the other three-hundred and sixty-four days of the year.”
The Queen approached and pulled the creature’s chain so that their faces were near. “Don’t worry. Now that I know you are intelligent I shall think of something for you to do. I am always looking to add intimidating monsters to my collection.”
He gulped and hissed.
“What did he say?” Rue asked.
“He questions what cowardly act he has committed that has damned to him to serve the She-Tyrant and the He-Banshee.”
Rue bursts into laughter.
The Queen chided, “That is not funny! Your father is not a banshee!”
“A little, he is,” Puck laughed.
“Well, I make no opposition to tyrant claims. Though you will find I am fair as far as those go,” she chided.

9
RUE CREPT into the demon-prison of the Fairy Court with a chalice of wine. Most of the demon prisoners slept soundly and Krampus was no exception. Rue pulled forth the key to his cell and slipped in, closing the bars behind her. She sat down and tapped him until he woke. The creature’s icy eyes glowered, pupils shrinking and his teeth bared. His chest rose as he collected breath for a growl. But Rue shoved her hand on his mouth.
“Shhh. I came to bring you peace-offering. I am sorry I could not bring Puck to translate for me…”
She held up the chalice and the monster turned his face away and folded his arms, snorting.
“Oh, don’t be like that, please. I am very sorry I’ve gotten you into this. But my ethics were opposed to your design. I had to stop you. So…we clashed. It is nothing personal.”
“Balghayuplagahuyergatula!” the creature snarled.
“I am going to take that as a negative statement.”
He stuck his long tongue out at her, which she could see even though his back was turned.
“Oh, well. I don’t even have to apologize if I don’t want to!” she exclaimed. “I’m only here because I want to see you well off during your stay. I never meant anyone any harm!”
He grabbed the bars of the cage and shook them, grunting something. Rue guessed “You want me to set you free? Well, I simply can’t. You think you’ve seen the she-tyrant and the he-banshee angry already? Ha! You haven’t seen anything yet.”
He then rested his head against the bars and a tear fell, probably as he came to the realization that this was now to be his life. Rue felt her heart ache. She reached out and touched his shoulder.
“I tell you what! I will try to talk to my mother about letting you free after a certain amount of time serving. But you would have to promise not to eat children anymore.”
He looked down and purred something. Rue liked to believe it was an agreement. She told herself it was an agreement and not him telling her that he could never quit doing that while free. She grabbed the chalice and offered it to him again.
“And so. Friends? I can make life easier here. She-tyrant and he-banshee love me.”
He reached a clawed hand out for the cup and took it. He looked into it and growled something before drinking it while keeping catlike pupils on her.
She ruffled his hair and left the cell somewhat satisfied. The satyr Brutus whistled “Princess! What about me! How come my son gets wine and I don’t!”
“Yeah what about me!” another called.
“And me!”
“And me!”
Rue ran from the waking cell block of wine-starved satyrs and other demonics who would carry on for the rest of that winter that the princess played favorites.

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{short stories} Winter Solstice: part 1 (of 2)

xmas2015jpgWas Rue’s present to her mother a bad idea?
1
IN THE Fairlands, untouched by mortals, the Winter Solstice is celebrated by the fairfolk in dazzling ways. Men celebrate with Yules and other such holidays to acknowledge the death of one year, the very fact that he shall be trapped indoors for a long, killing chill and not to emerge until Winter lifts her blanket of snow.
But the Fairlands have no winter goddess. Only pixies that spread the snow and ice and the Fairy King who calls them off when he commands. And so the spirit is light, for unless their King is made wrathful, Spring will come in time and life will return to the fields.
In the Fairy Court, in that great tree—a flowery castle that could withstand the cold– the servants prepared for celebration. What they prepared for was in fact the Fairy Queen’s birthday. The nymph Hayce told the pond fairy Hibiscus tales of woe by one of the ornate fountains. Whilst Hibby wept her eyes out, the royal Doctor knelt near her and collected the tears into a vial.
“Almost full. Let it out. It’s the greatest tragedy of all time.”
“It is!” Hibby wept. “His family was right behind him the whole time!”
“No, don’t put your face in your hands!” the Doctor told her.
“I look so ugly right now!”
“Everyone looks ugly while they cry.”
“But she looks especially fucking ugly,” Hayce agreed.
Hibby wept all the harder and the Doctor swept up the last of the tears he needed. “There. All we need for now. Thank you, Hibby.”
“N-n-n-no,” she hiccupped “problem.”
“Oooooh,” came the Queen’s sonorous voice, “Virgin tears. What are we making, Doctor?”
“You of all people should know its importance. With how much you go on about its taste.”
“People go on about blood too. It doesn’t mean they know how to cook with it, darling,” she reached down and cupped the little pond fairy’s plump face, leaning down to lick the remaining tears. Hibby’s wings buzzed and she tried to pull away from the grip. But it would be like trying to pull from a pile of rocks.
The fairy frantically, trying to escape but was held in place by the Queen. Just as she seemed she would bite the poor creature’s neck the Fairy King and his Secretary Puck entered. The King cleared his throat. Puck rushed forward towards his own assistant Hibby, “Hibby! Your Majesty, stop!”
“We do not eat or molest our assistants,” the King grumbled. “Regardless of it being the eve of our birthday or not.”
The Queen loosed her grip on Hibby and straightened up. “I would not eat her. She is a rare species. You know how I feel about killing rare specimen.”
“You are a rare specimen,” Puck teased. “Your Majesty, the party arrives at the gates. Are you prepared to be honored?”
Hibby sneaked off as they spoke.
“Yes!” the Queen straightened her crown. “Let us celebrate.”
“Let us keep the blood to a minimum this year, please,” the King rubbed his forehead and looked to the Sprites flitting about in the air. “Open the gates.”

2
Any celebration held by or for the Fairy Queen would include wine and revelry. Water ran into wine, dancing swayed into ecstasy, touching turned to grabbing, singing became crying out. Creatures of all shapes and sizes had gathered to celebrate the year and also to burn in effigy the bad of the past year. Puck could no longer see the Queen in the orgy but he knew she was there. She may have disappeared into the wine or the air itself, or gone into her followers. When a crowd worked itself up, she could become the mass, the whole, a writhing unit of lust.
Puck sat to the right of the King’s throne playing cards with him. The Fairy King never participated in such things. He was not of that nature. It bored him. The Sprites were also aloof of all matters of the flesh for the most part. They ate but, with the exception of a few naughty gluttonous ones who stuffed themselves with grapes, most hung upside down by the ceiling and watched the event while chattering softly to each other, some biting and snuggling each other. The Queen’s pet hippocock Lysander curled up in her throne and preened his feathers.
Only when the magically sealed doors flew open and the torches went out did Puck realize note anything out of the ordinary A draft of cold air hit them. Snow forced its way in, hitting hard. Puck shut his eyes, his goat ears folding back as he stood and pushed back against the mighty wind. It continued like this for minutes until the entire orgy-filled ballroom froze over and a figure stood in the doorway.
The female figure with skin of ice and a crown of glass sported flaxen hair and eyes of crystal. What stood out even more was that she surpassed even the Amazons in height. Few stood taller than the Fairy King in the Fairy Court and yet tonight the King would have to look up at the intruder when she spoke. Puck was never a harsh judge when it came to beauty and when it came to describing it he was poetic. But for this woman he would say that she lacked flaw so much that it became uncanny. For who could ever look into a diamond and find pure, warm love?
She stepped forward, the ground frosting further at her feet. “Where is your Queen!” she commanded of the Fairy King.
By now he stood. Interesting he had not blocked the attack. Puck knew he could have. Frankly, he believed the King to be bored and in need of this distraction.
“Breaking down a King’s door and demanding his wife? One smacks strongly of an old-world god.”
“One avoids answering questions when he is asked,” the snowy deity winced at all the naked, trembling fae around her “and he should speak of old customs. Ancient to the barest of bones. Or flesh.”
“At least,” the Fairy Queen’s voice, deeper than both of the others’, came from behind the frosty guest “he has bones that I could not melt with a chimney fire.”
The intruder spun around and gesticulated at the Queen “You! You! You!”
“Hello, Skadi. Mind turning the air off?” The Queen stood naked and soaked completely wet with wine. The cold quickly froze this wine to her body and hair, causing her curvaceous form to tremble.
Puck figured best not to stand around and started to think of a way to warm everyone. He found Captain Gugu of the Sprites and sent him to fetch Princess Rue.
“You still owe me favor from all those years ago!”
The Queen thought “Ah…yes. I do, don’t I?”
The frosty being lifted a finger and pointed to a large satyr huddled for warmth with a nymph. He shook his head, knocking icicles off his rack. The snowy goddess exclaimed, “One of your demons did couple with one of my servants and sired a beast!”
A servant appeared behind the Fairy Queen with a robe which she slipped on. “I fail to see how this is my problem?”
“I shall tell you the problem and you will attend to it closely.”
Puck perked up. “Oh, I do love stories.”

3
The Winter Giantess did not normally dwell in the Fairlands with the Fairfolk but in the land of Man, that demon-haunted world with no spiritual order where Nature has no mistress or master. But in the winter her many creations, wolves, birds, deer, dragons and creatures of all kinds composed of magic snow and ice would go forth into the world and hunt. They would bring back to their goddess the best of game. But always the game was fair. Never did a catch belong to someone else, or catch prey too young, or too wounded, or too rare to be killed.
These creations were gifted especially with the winter-magic, so that all mortals who beheld them were transfixed with wonder. And to be caught by a mortal would mean that they would melt or crack upon being taken inside.
But one day within the Winter Goddess’ court, one of her many snow-huntress’ came to be spotted by the satyr Brutus, a lascivious and strong fellow. This demon managed to seduce the huntress and sometime later she gave life to a hybrid that she deemed a monster upon sight, for he had the horns, hooves, legs and tail of the demon that sired him. But his claws were the long icicles that the huntress herself possessed and his eyes the color of ice as well. This hellspawn, as she so decided it was, she went to bury in the snow alive. But on the Looming Mountain that day, a great Wendigo had been passing—a man cursed to be for his past sin of eating his fellow-man—and he took pity upon the child he saw being suffocated in the snow. So he threw the huntress off the mountain and he dug up the spawn.
The Wendigo raised the hybrid child as his own. In time the winter-satyr grew with some of the habits of is foster father and ate the flesh of mortal men, preferring that of children for reasons none know. But his magic grew over time, mirroring that of the winter-spirits the goddess creates. So the people of the Looming Mountain begin to grow furious with their goddess and each time they see one of her servants they lash out. Worship for her ceases during the Winter Solstice. Stories of the demon who abducts children have replaced the stories of wondrous spirits that appear to children.
Villagers have stormed the mountains in search of the goddess, who they blame for the creation of the Child-Eater…

4
As the Winter Giantess finished her tale and Puck duly took note the Fairy Queen tapped her chin and shrugged, “I still do not see how the burden falls upon my shoulders. My satyr Brutus was not my slave back then and is not technically a fairy. He is a demon. And even if he was, you should have taught your huntress to be wary of the wiles of a satyr. Such changelings and devil-spawn spring up at the drop of their seed. Did she not know this?”
“I do not know,” said Skadi. “Ask her.”
“Very well,” interrupted the Fairy King. “Lead us to the Underworld. And we shall ask her ourselves.”
“No!” boomed the Giantess.
“Why not,” asked he. “It is where she dwells, is it not? Thrown from the Looming Mountain by the angered Wendigo? I would assume Death took her.”
“Indeed Death took her. But I will not take you to her.”
“And why not?” commanded the shadowy king. “We have need to end this argument between my wife and yourself apparently. Surely you may put it to rest by taking us to your perished creation in one of the many Underworlds,” he gestured beneath his heavy boots and stomped, melting ice and snow. “Or could it be…it is not in your power to descend and come back?”
The Giantess sneered at the King and hissed “There is more in my ancient powers than you can imagine, young haughty knave! You have the temperament of your mother with none of her experience.”
Again with the mother, Puck thought. He made a note to finally ask who she was.
“Then undo what you have done to my Court and we shall hunt this Child-Hunter.”
“I create the cold, I do not melt it.”
“Such proof that you are limited in your power,” the King accused, unflinching.
“And such proof that your wife will owe me favor or else….” She stomped her foot, causing the ground to quake in her leave “THERE WILL BE WAR!”
The doors slammed behind her in her wake and the now cold party turned their eyes to Brutus the satyr who attempted a smile but was met with fists and cane and heavy object. The Fairy Queen did not stop her subjects from attacking her slave. She turned to her husband. “Now what?”
“We do not negotiate with terrorists… We have forces prepared who may stop her puny forces of ice and snow.”
“All for one measly demon. Surely we may dress one satyr up as a child-eater and hand him over. What is the cost of that?”
“Pride, Oonagh!”
“Mother, Father!” a melodious voice sliced the cold darkness.
The torches relit and a warmth filled the ball room. From out of the shadows, glowing, came the Princess of the Fairlands. Absent until now, Princess Rue finally appeared in her winter gown. Where she flew, at her feet, the snow melted. She progressed towards her parents.
“I saw the whole thing. I am sorry I did not speak up sooner. It was only that…she frightens me…”
“Child, do not concern yourself with this matter…”
“Let me bring in the child-hunter. I think I have a plan,” she offered. “He is both shadow and ice. Elements I think that I can manipulate. We can avoid a war with the Winter Goddess. Please.”
The Fairy Queen reached out and took her daughter’s face in her hands. Were Rue standing this would have required her leaning down. “Sweet child, your place is in peace and healing. Do not look upon such a monstrosity. Besides, already I have a plan if your father is going to be such a mule about it,” she whispered in her daughter’s ear,” as they watched the King cross the floor and work on melting the snow and ice, much like his daughter was doing.
When Rue heard this she supposed to leave it in her mother’s hands and went to Brutus, fending off the other subjects and slaves so that they would stop beating the satyr within an inch of his life. She took the father of the Child-Eater and led him back to the slave quarters where she nursed him back to health.

5
“The best way to catch any kind of satyr is by his cock,” the Queen announced to her nymphs. She had gathered them together. “You are to blend with the snow and when he least expects it, clamp around him.”
Hayce, the feistiest of the nymphs, raised a hand and inquired “But it is said his cock is large. So large that it shall not fit. Not even in a thousand years.”
“What has time to do with it?” another nymph asked. “Even if we waited a thousand years, do you think our lady-hole is going to magically become large enough to fit a log into?”
Hayce gasped “Get out! It’s the size of a log!”
“That’s what I heard!”
“What size log?” yet another nymph asked.
The second nymph gestured to a tree in the Fairy Queen’s green house, where they were gathered.
The Queen was ill-humored by all this commotion that she had not called for. She straightened her crown and looked upon her slaves. “Hayce, you others. Did I call upon a board meeting about the size of the Child-Eater’s wing-wang?”
“No, Your Glorious Majesty.” Hayce bowed her head. “It is only that, if he goes to stick said satyrly wing-wang in nymphic hole and it is too big, our clamping will do no good.”
“I beg to differ. He shall be quite stuck.”
“Not if he cannot even get in,” Hayce argued.
“You expect him to be a perfect gentleman about it? He will force it! Besides, you are a nymph. Accommodate!”
“Even nymphs have their limits!”
“And what might that limit be!”
Hayce pointed to the mighty tree again.
The King’s Secretary Puck, who had been watching all this time, bowed and stepped forward. “Your Majesty, may I offer an alternative solution?”
“Oh, Puckadoodle-noodle, the rear-end is surely not to work if the front door fails.”
“Oh, no. But I know. But Hayce and her sisters, Jayce, Kayce, Rayce and you others. Can you not create illusions by combining yourselves into a tree?”
Hayce puffed up and took two of her sisters by the arms and smirked “That we fucking can. And better than any Sprite can make a decoy.”
“What about moving, sentient beings? Have you ever tried?”
The nymph sisters looked at one another and seemed to think.
“That we can try,” Hayce said. “Goddamn. And an elastic lady-hood we could make!”
Jayce joined in, “Ay! Let us try.”
Kayce agreed “Yes!”
And soon all of the sisters were joining hands and spinning in a circle until a tree in the shape of a woman sprouted up. This tree stood still for some time and the Queen looked to Puck, quizzical.
“An interesting idea, Puck. I must always hand it to you for creativity. But nymphs are known for plant-life not—“
She was cut off by the tree turning to flesh. An Amazonian-like woman moved, more beautiful than all the sisters combined. She stood taller than the six-foot tall queen, perhaps almost as tall as the Winter Goddess herself.
The Queen considered. “Hmm…Puck, you might be on to something.”
Puck did his best not to stare for too long. “I need to find cold water at once, Your Majesty. Ladies,” he bowed and rushed off.
The Queen gave a slow clap. “And you are elastic?”
“Elastic as several women,” the super nymph answered. “I think.”

6
THE FAIRY Queen sent the hyper-powered nymph off into Man’s winter to find and capture the Child-Eater with a device of her own design. Inserted into the female’s anatomy, it would clamp down when the phallus entered and hold him in place, once there, other nymphs and satyrs in hiding would jump from hiding and chain and rope the demon, dragging him back to the Fairlands.
Imagine her surprise when Hayce and her sisters returned, worse for wear, beaten with their satyr brethren also shaking in fear and some of their companions missing. They bowed before her and asked mercy for not completing their task.
“What is this!” she demanded. “Where is the demon! The Winter Goddess will be here tomorrow evening and I am empty-handed. I do not want to deal with cold nipples again.”
“We tried, Your Majesty. We tried! He did not fall for our guise. In fact…be broke it with the wave of a hand. And with shadows he created worst fears for our brethren and they ran screaming like little maidens so that we had none to protect us.”
“He tormented us!” Kayce added.
“The beasts those shadows became ate some of us!” another cried.
“Please do not send us back out!” another cried.
The Queen stepped down from her throne and seized Hayce’s hair. She dragged her up to the throne, ready to throw her back down the steps to the others after a good verbal lashing. “What is fear but a mental state! You know that these types of demons prey on fear and yet you went unprepared! All of you! You will go back and—“
“MOTHER!”
Rue’s voice cut through the air and all of the slave’s eyes turned to her in hope. She ran on her bare feet to the scene and set a hand on the Queen’s hands, loosing Hayce’s hair of the grip.
“Let me. Let me, please. Let me, please to capture this Child-Eater. It will be an easy task. My mother the spirit of Wine and my father the King of Shadows. Nothing a horned spirit can do will surprise me,” she assured her. She took the sultry Queen’s hands into both of hers and spoke softly, calming her. “The nymphs and satyrs tried to approach him as one of their own. But now I know he is a creature of shadows and fear. I will approach him as such. I have a plan.”
The Queen considered. “Your father shall be livid if I allow you.”
“We will not tell him then. I will capture him in the secret blanket of the night and say that your nymphs did it.”
“You are not to use your lady parts.”
“No, I plan to use my magic. And my might.”
Hayce whispered “Fucking do it….”
“Very well, Rue. But if you are head-butted so hard that you see lights, I told you so.”
Rue smirked. She knew how to deal with men in the body of beasts, for this creature was raised by just that.

7
RUE TRAVELED to the Demon-Haunted world with several gremlin-seeds in her belt. She flew to where the nymphs told her last they had seen the creature in the shadow of the Looming Mountain. At first she was at a loss of where to look. That was until she heard it. Singing from afar. Rue strained to hear better, drawing closer to the source of a small snow-covered village. The white tops of houses glistened in the moonlight. She followed the male voice as it sang.
As she lowered to the ground in her stockings, she hid behind a house and waited for the towering figure in the street leading the child to pass. The shadow casts over her, horned and hooved.
“come, mortal child,
to the darkness,
where the snow
and the moon
do await thee.
visions of sugar plums
and the evergreen
forever burn, forever warm
come, mortal child,
to the darkness,
where the snow
and the moon
do await thee.
for to wake is to weep
and to live is to die
and to love is to wrinkle.
come away, mortal child,
to the darkness.”
Yes, it was him! and what a lovely singing voice he used to entrance children just like his ancestor the winter goddess. But Rue could do better.
“Come back, mortal child, to the fire” she sang, coming out of hiding.
The little boy who followed the demon turned his head to see the fairy who had appeared behind him. So, too, did the demon with piercing, ice-colored eyes. both figures stared, pressuring her hard.
“Where the snow and the moon await thee” sang the demon.
“For to wake is to weep,” agreed the child and began to turn back around.
“And to weep is to truly live!” Rue reminded.
“To love is to wrinkle!” the demon argued.
“To love is to wrinkle!” the child agreed
“Come back, mortal child, to the fire! where the dawn, and the touch and river–”
“Is unsure as the paradise promised to thee!”
By now but creatures were reaching for the child, Rue kneeling and the demon reaching his claw out.
Tired of the child’s trance, the princess simply slapped the child awake.
“Come to me!” Rue exclaimed. As if woken from a night terror, the boy screamed upon seeing the horned giant behind him and rushed towards the winged maiden that spread her arms for him. She snatched up the child and the creature roared and charged for the fairy and the child but she winged into the air and out of his reach. She flew over the village with the child and looked around for a place to set the child safely. below she saw the beast jump from the ground with ease and land on the rooftop of a house.
Rue dug in her belt and pulled forth the gremlin seeds. She blew them into the wind and they landed as dandelion seeds in the snow, germinating and sprouting. The creature paid them no mind at the moment. rue hovered down.
“Where is your home?” she asked the boy.
He pointed out the home where rue flew. She wrapped her hand up in some excess fabric from her dress.
“how will you open the window from outside?” the child asked her.
She need not answer. She had balled her fist up and shot it through the glass. She tossed the child through the broken window and casts a spell on it, creating a sticky, web-like film that would be a great irritation to go through. She had done this none too soon, for behind her on the rooftop of a house, the snowy demon roared.
“Come with me gently and there will be no fight!” Rue raised a hand in promise, set another on her heart.
But the creature either did not understand or chose to ignore, for he threw his heavy form against the dainty princess. She was slammed into a wall that cracked and she found the clawed hand around her throat, squeezing her air pipe.
She took this as a decline to her offer of peace. And so she raised her legs and kicked the beast’s stomach with more force than one would expect of a woman so small. The creature went flying backwards, a look of utter shock across his face. Rue landed on the ground and stomped, causing a minor earthquake that threw the heavy beast off his hooves. She then ran towards him and hopped on his back. The mighty beast began to buck and jump in an attempt to shake the princess off but by now she had conjured up magical vines that tied about his neck. The vines bloomed flowers that stood out against the icy skin.
The demon then attempted to burst into snow and ice to escape the princess’ powerful grip but the magic ties kept him in his solid satyr form.
“Oh, no you don’t!”
Out of the street, crawling from the snow, the leafy gremlins appeared giggling and pointing at the spectacle.
“Help!” Rue called to her creations. “Take him captive!”
The creature let out a “Grayulabaga!”
No language rue was knowledgeable of. Or it may have just been demon gibberish. In any case the gremlins found it amusing and clapped their hands, imitating the grunts of the creature as they jumped upon him and added to his bindings with more vines around his hands. It took the better part of an hour to subdue the wild creature, but at length, princess rue stood atop the child-eater, now bound and on a leash. Her gremlins cheered.
No more children would be eaten by the demon that night.

0

short story: Plague

(A/N: The Unicorn may have cured the plague in many villagers of Ambroshire but he could not end the disease altogether. This is the story of what happens when Princess Rue of the Fae comes across a pair of mortals with the disease….)

1
SOME MORTALS are fortunate—or unfortunate—enough to be the lovers of fairies. Two such people, a newlywed husband and wife, were taken to be the lovers of the fae Princess Rue. They met while caught in a fairy rain and with no words between the three of them, passion exploded.
The Princess took them to a bower in the woods and, when the heat ebbed, words were finally spoken.
“Are you a fairy?” asked the wife.
“I am the Princess Rue. You walked into a fairy circle, darling. And seeing your love for one another ignited me.”
“Shall there be repercussions for this?” the husband asked, having heard many tales of vengeful spirits.
“Of course not. You have done nothing wrong,” Rue assured them.
No sooner than she had spoken, however, did the sky turn black and thunder clapped. A rabble of dark butterflies descended on the three lovers until a tall form made itself known. A fairy who towered over all others, with wings of black and a voice like a vicious downpour, pointed at the mortals.
“FOUL MORTAL! TO TOUCH MY ONLY DAUGHTER IN SUCH A WAY!”
“Father!” Rue jumped in front of her mortal lovers. “Have mercy! It was I who seduced them!”
“Rue! Dost thou lay with these filthy mortals who would seek to discard thee after their fun!” the Fairy King roared.
The husband and wife held one another at the sight of such ferocity. But Rue stood her ground. “Please! Reprimand me! Not them.”
With a sudden jerk, the King sniffed the air. He then broke into a wicked laugh that filled the bower. “These fools have the PLAGUE! Their days are numbered already. No smiting shall I do to-day. Check yourself, daughter. For thou are too green.”
The King tossed his cape and left in a bolt of lightning. Upon his exit, the sky cleared and the wind calmed. Rue returned to her lovers, doing her utmost to comfort them.
“What the devil was that!” the husband demanded.
“We have PLAGUE?” the wife cried.
“That was my father. And if he said so, yes. It must be true. You have what you call the Black Death.”
The woman wept bitterly into her hands while the husband held her.
“No, no. Don’t fret!” Rue consoled. “I shall heal you. I shall heal you before you even feel the symptoms.”
“You can do such a thing, Princess?” the husband asked.
Rue assured them she could. She had the strange power of the healer-empath. Without delay she set one hand on each of their heads. Inhaling, she took the accursed plague into herself. But she could no longer stand. She fell to her knees and began to cough.
“Shall it hurt you?” the wife asked, the first time it occurred to her that fairies might feel pain.
“It shall be like a simple fever to me…” she told them. “I will sweat it out.”
Neither lover touched her, now too afraid of the disease she carried. So she helped herself from the ground. The passion between the three had paralyzed, stilling like a dammed river.

2
IN THE Fairy Court, the Royal Doctor began his day exasperatingly early. He was called from his chamber by the Sprites, who dragged him to his cabinet.
“What is the emergency?”
“Disease,” answered the sprite.
“I know that. What is the disease?”
“Ugly,” the sprite replied.
His urge to flick the thing across the face had to be stifled. It was time to be professional. But when a maid arrived to help none other than the Princess into his cabinet, he realized how serious the situation was.
“Sick again? What is it this time, Princess?” he asked.
She sat on the examining table, red hair pulled back into a bun, eyes shut with fatigue.
“I don’t know.”
Lying, he thought. She always knew what her mysterious ailments were and where they came from. This was far from a new problem.
The tips of her fingers and toes had gone black. She coughed sporadically and with much labor, her body laced with sweat.
“There are a few ailments this could be but my first instinct is to point out that it’s not one that comes from the Fairlands, Your Highness.”
“Well, I was in the demon-haunted world yesterday…” she batted her eyes, all bloodshot and sleep-crusted.
“I doubt you picked this up by accident. It is the Black Death, a mortal’s disease. Fairies do not contract this.”
She set a hand to her forehead, melodramatic. “Oh. Perhaps I am the first case.”
“You took it purposefully. We both know it.”
“Please, Doctor…please, don’t tell my father.”
“I will not have to, Princess! All he shall need to do is look at you and put two and two together.”
“Ugh…” she coughed “they were going to die if I didn’t take it.”
He knew arguing was senseless. Like her mother and father, Rue’s head was hard as granite and persuading her to reconsider decisions was about as fun as pulling teeth from a dragon.
“I do not know how this will end for you, Princess. It will pass like all the diseases you take but there is not much I can do to alleviate the pain. You will swell, probably cough blood, become blocked up—“
“Oh,” she stretched out, lied down on the table, and covered her face. “Wake me up when it is over…”
“You have a charity event to run tonight, Princess. I hate to remind you…”
“Oh…you’re right. I can glamor up.”
It looked like a strain on her as she summoned up the power to disguise her illness. But in a moment’s time the blackened fingertips and swollen toes were gone, her eyes appeared clear and her sweating gone. But there was no way she could hide her true fatigue. She stood and stumbled a little to remain upright. The doctor caught her.
“Admission to speak freely, Your Majesty?”
“Speak…”
“Put someone else in charge of the charity tonight. All the little fairies there shall be terrified to see their beloved Princess ill.”
“Pish-posh. I can do it. And I don’t want my parents to know…” She put a finger to her lips. “You will keep it quiet, won’t you?”
“…I shall. But the Sprites cannot. They will tell your father when he asks. They probably already have.”
“And I will simply deny it…” she stepped out of the office, one foot at a time, careful not to trip.
The Doctor shook his head. He would have thought by now she would know better.

3
JUST AS the Doctor reminded, an assembly of Fae, all shapes and sizes, waited in the banquet hall for their beloved Princess. On one side, adult Fae surveyed the other side, which stood populated by children. Those shy orphans hid behind their few guardians who soothed them. The gentle ramble of the crowd silenced when one of the King’s Sprites appeared to announce the Princess.
“The Princess of the Fairlands enters! You be quiet, good?”
The Princess winged herself down to the elevated stand before her people. With one wave, she had the crowd cheering.
“Hello, darlings. Thank you so much for coming this evening. We are hoping– and I have a good feeling about this– that every orphan here today will find a good forever home. Some general rules: no clamoring, trampling or fighting over an orphan. If a dispute must be settled, you will turn to one of the guardians. They’re the lovelies with the green hats. We have refreshments here. No hogging them all for yourself. I’m talking to you, Liddy,” she pointed out a hungry faun at the banquet table.
The faun smiled through a mouthful of food and stepped away from the table.
“Please,” Rue appealed to her people “I beg you good citizens, do not stick strictly to your own kind while choosing. Elves, consider taking a gnome child into your homes. Dryads, do not shy away from ogre children. We are all Fae under the Crown. Let us help one another. I’ll be here all night to answer your questions. At the end of the night, once the pairings have been chosen I will approve it and officially make you a family. So let us mingle and all be kind.”
The Princess beamed and watched her people mingle. She observed the Fae of all races converse peacefully and felt that sense of accomplishment that pushed aside any ailment. The sprite fluttering beside her whispered in her ear, “The cyclops baby will sit on and smash the faun mother.”
They shared a secret laugh at the size difference between potential parent and child. But that laughter turned into coughs for Rue. She turned to cage the vicious sound. Despite her attempts to hide the malaise, the party turned its attention to their ailed royal.
Hands on her chest, the Princess fell to her knees. Her nose ran with blood and her body sweat in the labor of the hidden sickness.
“Princess down!” someone hollered.
“Princess down! Someone call for help!” another yelled.
The little sprite at her side twitched, relaying the message to its siblings all around the palace.

4
ADOPTION BANQUET aside, it was a quiet day in the Fairy Court. Within the throne room, the Fairy King and his Secretary Puck could be found negotiating with a creature that dripped slime. As the King lifted quill to sign leafy parchment, a little sprite at his shoulder began to jerk spasmodically.
“What is the meaning of this?” asked the King. “Speak your piece, Fiddlesticks.”
“The Princess!” Fiddlesticks gasped. “She is sick! She has fallen down!”
The Fairy King rose so quickly that he knocked the slimy guest over.
“Where!”
The sprite led him from the room, leaving Puck to run after their hurried footsteps.
In the Banquet Hall, Fae gathered round the fainted Rue. Worried noises of all kinds greeted the King and Puck as they entered.
“Rue!” the King exclaimed, a bark that caused the crowd to disperse.
When father reached daughter, he waved a hand over her, melting the glamor of good health to reveal her plagued body. She was sick with black nails, nose, fingertips, and toes. A blood-encrusted mouth and yellowed eyes caused all present to gasp. Sallow complexion and sweat-laced body tugged at the hearts of her people. The King wasted no time in scooping his unconscious child off the ground.
“Death to the spreader of this disease!” he roared.
Puck, panting from his run to catch up, turned to the crowd of Fae. “That wasn’t directed at any of you!”
But the children in the crowd wept with fear.
“What was wrong with her?” asked one fae.
Puck gulped, “ …eh…shingles,” and gave a nervous laugh.

4
THE PRINCESS now in the Doctor’s hands, the King returned to his personal chambers. As he pulled on a pair of gloves, Puck poked his head into the door. “Hey, you…”
“Robin.” The King nodded.
“Whatcha doin’?”
“Preparing to smite the wicked.”
“Oh. Well, alright. Um…before you do that: maybe we should be sure the wicked deserve the smiting?”
The King did not turn to his servant, but rasped “They spread their human disease to my daughter and you dare to suggest they may not deserve smiting?”
Puck laughed and bleated “Well, you know… I do say the craziest things at times. I mean, technically, she took their disease, if past experiences are any indication… She does do that.”
“And they allowed her!” the King growled.
“That they did. While fearing certain death in their already short lives. They are mortal, after all. That very mortal disease would have killed them.”
“Their fear does not redeem them from the consequence of polluting a healthy fairy into a sticky, mortal demise. Not even Fae live forever, Robin. This may be the time that she…” he trailed off, a rare occasion for the Fairy King. Few subjects was he unwilling to proclaim his opinions on. Yet the end of his only child gave him pause.
“Your Majesty, she has survived worse… Try to put your mind at ease…” Puck whispered.
An interloper then entered the Chamber.
The Royal Doctor bowed “Apologies for entering but the door was open. Your Majesty! Come quickly! I hear a death rattle!”
Master and servant exchanged looks of terror before following the Doctor.
In the Doctor’s Cabinet, Rue coughed still, but weaker than before.
“Not again!” the King growled.
“She will have to go through it again. There is nothing much I can do,” the Doctor apologized. “I lessened the pain but that is the extent—“
“Papa?” Rue’s voice rasped, her eyes still shut.
“My child?” the King leaned down to hear her.
“Please…please don’t hurt the mortals…They did not realize I would suffer from it…”
“You are blind, child. You are blind to think they would choose differently even if they knew.”
“No…No, I’m—“ her coughing stole her speech.
It was Puck who stepped forward and took her hand “Shhh. Rue, try to think of something that eases your mind. A safe place.”
“Papa’s arms…” she whispered.
Upon hearing this, the King could only gaze downward. He reached a hand out to touch her and just as he did, she jerked.
The fairy Princess opened her eyes. From within a final death rattle escaped, filling the room and reminding the Fae of all things’ ending. She wore a light smile, motionless body eased despite its plague.
The Doctor set one ear to her chest to confirm the lack of heartbeat there.
He cursed “Hell. Hell. Hell. Hell.”
The King’s crimson eyes had turned a pale blue. He seized his daughter’s form and breathed into her mouth. His panic grew with each moment that his magic could not revive her. Puck and the Doctor could only watch, huddled together.
When the fallen Princess gasped, gripping her way back from the afterlife, the sound shook the room.
The Doctor exclaimed “Thank gods!”
“It’s incredible,” Puck whispered. “How many times has she revived like this…?”
“We have lost count. But I believe, so long as a sufficient amount of her remains she will—like her mother—always resurrect…”
Puck took the Doctor by the shoulder and whispered, so to keep from Rue and the King’s er, “What if her form is destroyed, though…?”
“That scenario…” the Doctor replied “I do fear.”
“ Papa…” Rue coughed again, the blackness of the plague already leaving her “Promise me you won’t…”
“As you wish…” the King breathed “I grant you your foolish wish. But perhaps the taste of death will teach you a thing about mortals—creatures who must sacrifice much to procure a short life.”
“ …yes, Papa.” She reached out to touch him, but he was already gone. To make up for the lack of warmth, Puck moved in and nuzzled the Princess.
They did not see that behind the door where the King retreated, he was clutching his chest, trying to catch his breath and fight the terror that still took him.

5
AT LENGTH, the Doctor was able to locate the King for discussion on the matter of Rue’s recover.
“She should recover in a few days. But don’t you realize… how difficult your request to her will be?”
The King had his back to the antlered creature, looking instead out of a window.
“How is it so difficult? To be cautious of these creatures who plague her without remorse?”
The Doctor looked down, choosing words with caution “Do you remember the first time you died for your people?”
The King gave pause. “Yes…”
“Did it deter you from defending your world or only light the flame of your passion brighter.”
The King’s eyes closed as he confessed “You are…perhaps wise in your observation. But it is something she must learn.”
“How can you expect her to act differently than you in the same situation?”
“Foremost, because the Fae are my people. The mortals are not hers. But also because I say so and I am her lord and master… “ With those words, he exited to attend to the adoption banquet left unfinished.

6
THREE DAYS’ time saw the Princess walking again, though residue of the illness lingered. One of her first actions on that third day of recovery was to seek out the mortal lovers whom she had healed. It took little effort to locate their whereabouts in the village of Ambroshire.
A knock at the couple’s door called the husband forward. But when he beheld the Fae Princess, in the guise of a mortal maiden, he shrunk from her sickly complexion and the dark circles about her eyes.
“ I’ve come… I’ve come to say I haven’t forgotten you. I apologize that I had to retreat to the Fairlands…” she whispered.
“Oh… eh, hello, my lady. How do you do?” The mortal man was at a loss for words.
“I’ve been sick,” Rue let out a cough, covered politely by her hand.
Soon the wife joined her husband by the door. Rue looked to both of them and gave an apologetic smile.
“May I come in…?”
The couple exchanged looks before the man spoke. “We don’t… we don’t think things can be the same.”
The wife added, “We are from two different worlds.”
Rue’s expression fell to one of wincing pain “I… I don’t understand.”
The man reminded her of their fears, “After seeing your father…”
“And seeing your power…” the wife chimed in.
Together they finished “…We fear.”
“Fear? Oh… And so…this is…this is it?” Rue choked, this time on tears.
“We are sorry, my lady,” the man spoke.
Rue watched as the couple hung a cross on their door and then slowly closed it to her. She sank slowly to her knees, weeping, coughing.
Her father’s words played in her head “But perhaps the taste of death will teach you a thing about mortals.”

0

Ask the Fairfolk: The Fairy Queen “on Lenten Sacrifice.”

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Welcome to another episode of “Ask the Fairy Royals.”
Today’s topic: Fasting for the Lenten Season.
“Oh, beauteous Queen of Fae,
What should I sacrifice to show my love for God?”

“My heart is gladdened that you should ask me this, dear bard. I assume you are a bard since you are asking me instead of my prude of a husband and my wisp of a daughter. I am certainly the one to ask when it comes to matters of the flesh. Of course, my husband would probably advise that you offer up what you love most of all in the world. The thing that distracts you from your dutiful worship of Mithras.
Correction. Our Secretary has just informed me that the majority no longer worship Mithras, but a fellow called Christ. You will have to excuse me. I often have little time to keep up with cults, what with being the object of one myself. You ought to think of giving yourself over to me, but this is surely not a plug for that. You come to me for enlightenment and I do not charge loyalty for the advice I give. You will see I am generous like that.
I shall offer you an alternative to what most will advise you to abstain from during this forty-day period of sympathy-pain with your savior. One person may say “Give up meat, good brother, for to go without shows you are willing to suffer with the Lord.” Another may say “If you enjoy sweet potatoes, give those up.” Another, more insane worshiper, may suggest “Go without copulation for forty days and forty nights.” I laugh at this last one because, who ever heard of such nonsense! I would also like to add that none of these are the equivalent pain of being crucified. Trust me on that matter.
Correction. Our Secretary reminds me that abstinence is a viable way of life for mortals these days. Again, I humbly, stand corrected. But to continue.
You, mortal Christian worshiper, have a vice you do not see. And I shall now point it out to you, free of charge.
You are addicted to fasting. You are addicted to suffering. You are addicted to following the rules. Without these things, you feel lost. You feel, that to be more like your savior, you must suffer because your natural state of being unworthy. But more often than not, you are in an unnatural state of constant penance and self-flagellation. And not the entertaining kind that everyone can watch and cheer on. But the kind you do when you lock the door to your secret cabinet and lash yourself repeatedly “Horrible! Bad! Naughty me!” You have grown to enjoy this self-depreciating, asking your village priests for more and more tongue-lashings in the confessional until you burst with tears of pained euphoria.
Face it, my dear, tear-streaked mortal. You are putridity holy.
You have rendered this Lenten season obsolete. What have you left to sacrifice but sacrifice itself! So go to it!
For forty days and forty nights, be as satyrs and centaurs. Drink, eat, fornicate and be merry! So that when the season ends you will be ripe with sins and you may be newly cleansed and delivered by your god. Your knees shake ache deliciously from all the genuflecting you will be asked to do and you shall love it. Now, go deflower a virgin!

PS– If, in the process, you decide that a life of decadence is your preference, you may summon me wherever there is wine and orgy-having. Work yourself into a frenzy and I may deign to visit you.
With regards,
The Fairy Queen