The Dragonfly Saga
The power of a Queen part I
Dragonfly flew on above the forest, the glow cast by her multi-coloured wings a spark of light in the darkness. It felt wonderful to be back. Her magic, weakened in the world of men, would soon be at full strength again. She cast her gaze downwards. In amongst the tangle of trees and bushes her fellow sprites lived their tiny, immortal lives free of human interference, but not for long.
At last her destination came into sight. Merriadown Shee, an outcropping of mossy rocks, pitted with holes like miniature caves and overhung by gnarled tree roots, was home to the pro-sto, one of the many woodland clans that inhabited the Forest of Sighs.
As she drew nearer, Dragonfly saw the glimmers of light that shone in the openings. She made for the largest of them and the sound of fey music drifted into her delicate, pointed ears.
The interior was lit by glow-worms, nestled in filigrees of flowers, woven from skeins of cobwebs, their petals shot through with silver wire. Strung in rows from the rocky ceiling, the night breeze caught them in its grasp, to spin them in an ever-changing panoply of colour. Emerald green moss made a rich carpet beneath the feet of the Shee’s inhabitants.
The Wild-Fey was a sight to behold and one that Dragonfly had sorely missed. Lords and Ladies in robes of silk and fur, strewn with precious gems, lounged on pebbles taken from the bottom of forest pools and polished to an opalescent shine. Maidens and youths danced alone or in pairs, their diaphanous garments changing colour beneath the lights, their fragile wings glittering. Groups of faerie knights, clad in armour that shone green and blue, stood around the periphery of the chamber exchanging tales of valour. They drank blackberry or strawberry wine from cups made to resemble golden daffodils, crimson poppies and graceful lilies; the art of their making known only to the fey silver and goldsmiths. Through it all ran the children, delightful imps clad in pink or blue, pretty faces rosy with merriment, voices shrill with glee.
Dragonfly drew in the heady scent of wine and watched the gathering with pleasure.
‘Can it be, or have I drunk too well this night?’
She glanced round and a dark, secret emotion woke in her breast at the sight of the sprite close behind her. He wore his olive green hair in spikes. His broad shoulders and muscular arms accentuated his narrow waist. He was clad in a knee-length tunic of forest green that complimented both the colour of his almond shaped eyes and the paler shade of his skin and wings. When he gave her a smile, Dragonfly felt as if she’d never been away. It was as though Litha were here again and the Cotillion about to begin. She could almost feel his arms about her, as they had been on that far away Midsummer’s night.
Thorn swept his gaze from the crown of her head to her toes and his grin grew wider. ‘We thought you gone away into the land of mortals. Yet here you are back in this world and still far from home.’
He circled her and she turned to follow his flight. ‘I shall never fathom what brings such a one as you from the Sidhe courts to our humble gatherings.’ Thorn chuckled. ‘But then you were every wayward.’
‘’Tis not waywardness that brings me here, but a warning – one your folk would do well to heed.’
Thorn frowned. ‘Once before you came with ill-tidings and once again King Salmot will not welcome them – Queen Madrios even less.’
‘It matters not,’ Dragonfly said. ‘They must hear what I have to say. Will you take me to them?’
As they began to cross the chamber, the music fell silent and all eyes turned in their direction. Head up and shoulders back, Dragonfly stared straight ahead. Yet despite her bravado, she was glad to have Thorn close by.
They came to a half opposite an archway hung with silken curtains. A clarion call of silver trumpets heralded the imminent arrival of the king and queen. The curtains drew back to reveal two stately figures.
A smile touched Dragonfly’s lips when she saw Salmot. She noted he was in his normal guise of a dark-haired, bearded sprite with the slanting green eyes common to most of the fey. His shoulders were broad and impressive, his robes so well cut they hid his paunch, the result of too many feasts.
Dragonfly knew to her cost that he did not always appear so. A well-known philanderer, he would sometimes adopt the guise of a slender, handsome youth in an attempt to entrap faerie maidens.
Queen Madrios had no need of such deceits. Fair of skin, with delicate features of unique beauty, her blonde hair fell past her knees. She wore a white gown that shimmered with every movement. A necklace of glittering blue stones, set in silver, enclosed her slender neck. A circlet of the same metal sat above her brow. She walked beside her husband, her hand on top of his. As they moved across the chamber, they acknowledged the bows and curtsies that marked their passage with gracious nods.
They came to a stop just short of where Dragonfly and her escort stood. Thorn bowed, Dragonfly did not. The King eyed her with barely concealed animosity – it would seem he too had not forgotten their last encounter. The Queen’s tranquil expression was belied by the coldness of her eyes.
‘What wonder is this,’ she said in her low, musical voice that nonetheless held a note of sarcasm, ‘our beautiful Dragonfly come back to us?’
‘Yes majesty, I bring news.’
The King’s hostility came to the fore. ‘Ever were you the bringer of bad news. This is scarce the time or place for such things. Besides, you are Sidhe-Fey. Why not go to your own people for help, why come to us?’
Dragonfly’s gaze swept the chamber. ‘It would perhaps be best if we spoke in private, sire.’
The King’s answer was forestalled, when Queen Madrios said, ‘How fond the Sidhe-Fey is of drama. Whatever your news, no doubt ‘tis something to do with the humans.’
‘Majesty-’ Dragonfly began.
The Queen held up a hand. ‘Remember your place and do not dare interrupt again. You may be of importance in your own court, but you are in my house now and will remember it.’
Anger and frustration fought with the need for diplomacy. Dragonfly bent her knee in a reluctant curtsey. ‘Majesty,’ she murmured.
‘We will grant you a private audience if you can prove to us the importance of your news,’ Madrios said, triumph in both her expression and voice.
Dragonfly raised her chin. ‘Indeed, majesty.’ She dipped a hand into the spell purse that hung at her waist. When she withdrew it, a small book lay in her palm. The King, Queen and Thorn drew close to stare down at it.
‘What trinket is this?’ Salmot demanded.
Dragonfly let the book slip from her hand. As it fell, it grew in size and hit the floor with a thud.
‘This,’ she said, ‘is the last of the Great Grimoires, written by King Bermegot himself.’
Salmot and Madrios’s eyes were full of wonder.
‘The Great Grimoire,’ the King said in a whisper.
When he began to reach for it, Dragonfly pointed a finger and the book flew back into her hand, dwindling in size as it did. She returned it to her spell purse and gave the Queen a cool glance.
‘Is that of enough importance to warrant your attention, majesty?’
For a long moment they held each other’s gaze, until Madrios said, ‘Very well, you shall have your private audience.’
She turned on her heel towards the arch. Somewhat in a fluster, Salmot was forced to scamper after her.
Thorn held out his arm to Dragonfly. As they followed in the King and Queen’s wake, he murmured, ‘Ever wayward – ever full of surprises.’
 Celtic for forest.
 Celtic for Midsummer.
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