The Dragonfly Saga
The Power of a Queen part II
By the stiff set of his shoulders, as he led the way into a small, private chamber, Dragonfly knew King Salmot was not happy. She cast a sideways glance at Thorn. He gave her a worried smile.
The room was circular in shape. Hewn from the living rock, its uneven walls were threaded with veins of silver that glistened in the light from the great lamp. Hung from a chain set in the ceiling, its wooden frame held multi-coloured pieces of glass, which sent out prisms of blue, red and yellow. The only furniture was a round oak table and chairs, placed in the centre of the stone-flagged floor. The backs of the twelve chairs were carved into the likenesses of grinning gargoyles. The seats were the laps of the ugly creatures. The end of the chairs’ arms and legs were fashioned into bony hands and feet. Elaborate lettering was carved into the edge of the table.
‘“Speak forth the truth and knowledge shall be yours,”’ Dragonfly read. ‘Strange you should posses such an item, majesty, given your aversion to humans.’
‘The table was a gift from Myddrin Emrys himself,’ the Queen said coolly.’ As I’m sure you’re aware, he was not wholly human.’ She sat down. ‘The table was brought to the Otherworld at great cost. Since he was an emissary of magic, it would have been churlish to refuse him.’
‘Enough chit chat!’ Salmot said with a scowl at Dragonfly. ‘Give us your news and then go.’
She hid her amusement at his attempt to regain his authority and took a seat opposite the royal couple. Thorn stood behind her.
‘When I left this place to go to the world of men, we were at war,’ she said.
‘That has not changed,’ Madrios replied. ‘The humans continue to fight amongst themselves.’
‘I feared it would be so.’ Dragonfly leaned back, to all appearances at ease. ‘When I left, Queen Hazel had been stolen away from Mountfaeron. With her gone, and the other human queens missing, the time of Bermegot’s inheritance is over – or so it might seem. If we act now all can be as it was.’
‘What has this to do with us?’ Salmot interjected. ‘The fall of the human king’s house is of no interest.’
‘But it should be, sire. Do you not see? The invaders hate all magic-users. They fear and loathe the fey even more than those of their own kind.’ Dragonfly’s gaze went to her spell purse. ‘Bermegot swore to protect our race. It is written in his own hand in the last of the Great Grimoires. The men of this land fight and die, not only to protect themselves, but us too. It is not right that we stand aside and do nothing.’
Salmot seemed to reflect for a moment, then said, ‘What is it you want from us?’
‘Your help in ousting the invaders. If we side with the human peoples of this world, order can be restored and that can only bode well for our kind.’
‘You asked this of us once before and we refused. Why try again?’
‘You have great influence with the other Shees. One word from you would set them in motion. Together we can win this war and take back what is rightfully ours.’
Salmot rubbed his chin. ‘You give us too much credit, the other Shees have their own leaders; yet…’ His eyes went to the spell purse at Dragonfly’s waist. He took his wife’s hand. ‘What say you, my dear?’
Madrios cast her gaze down, as if to read the words engraved into the surface of the table. ‘This requires consideration,’ she said.
The king and queen’s eyes locked. Dragonfly looked away, not only out of politeness, but also to resist the temptation to eavesdrop. Some humans could practice Meabhir , or mind magic too, but their mentality was so chaotic, connection with their fellows was often unreliable.
At last Salmot and Madrios broke contact. The King stroked his beard again, the stones in his rings winking in the light from the lantern.
Madrios smiled. ‘The Great Grimoire,’ she said.
Dragonfly suddenly felt uneasy. ‘What of it?’
‘Will you share its secrets with us?’
All at once the chamber felt cold. Well aware that Salmot and Madrios were vain and selfish creatures, Dragonfly had nonetheless hoped to make them see the wider view. Now, as she watched Madrios rise from her seat, she thought to detect a streak of pure ruthlessness in the Queen’s eyes. She could only trust she was mistaken, for despite their differences they were still fey and as such shared a common cause.
‘I will not,’ she said in reply to Madrios’s request. ‘The Grimoire is not to be used in such a way, it is far too dangerous.’
There was silence for a moment then the Queen said, ‘You speak of unity, yet you refuse to share your good fortune with us.’ Her long fingers trailed across the table’s surface.
Dragonfly adopted an expression of boredom. ‘’Tis not unity you seek, I think.’
Madrios tried and failed to hide her fury. ‘You scorn us for our will to survive!’ she shouted, voice shrill with rage.
‘’Tis not your survival alone that counts here! I will seek elsewhere for help. You are not fit to join my quest.’
‘Yet your first thought was to seek our aid.’ The Queen now stood face to face with Dragonfly. ‘You speak fine words about the salvation of our races. Yet when called upon to act, you shrink back in fear.’ She snapped her fingers. ‘So much for your Sidhe-Fey nobleness!’
Full of revulsion, Dragonfly made no reply.
With an obvious effort, Madrios fought to regain control. ‘You have the last of the Great Grimoires,’ she said, making an attempt to sound reasonable. ‘It is powerful indeed, but only in the right hands. I do not seek it for my own use. As well you know it cannot be used by either of our peoples, only by a direct descendant of Bermegot can wield the Grimoire’s power. You travelled to the world of men with a purpose in mind, perhaps to seek out the lost grandchild of Bermegot?’
When there was still no reply, the Queen smiled. ‘Your silence is telling. Perhaps you did find him.’ She paused and her eyes searched Dragonfly’s face. ‘Were you to gift the spell book to me, things might go better with you and yours.’
Dragonfly gave her a disdainful look. ‘I know your meaning, Madrios. You would hand it over to the invaders, hoping to secure favour for yourself.’ She braced her hands on the edge of the table. ‘It will do you no good.’ She switched her gaze to Salmot, knowing him to be the weaker of the two. ‘When they have all they want, the invaders will destroy you – wipe you from all thought or memory.’
Her only desire now was to leave this place and its sordid inhabitants. To be so blind, so foolish – how could she not have realised her folly in coming to them? She should never have shown them the Grimoire. It had been meant as a token of hope, but instead had woken avarice.
‘I know what lies in both your hearts. You would take to yourself the power the book holds and betray our kind,’ she said.
Salmot laughed. ‘“Our kind?” Once upon a time that might have been true, but now the Wild-Fey has no affiliation with the mighty Sidhe.’ He held out a hand. ‘Give to me the spell book and you shall leave here unharmed.’
Before Dragonfly could reply, Thorn took a step forward. ‘This is not wise, majesty. There are differences between us and the Sidhe, that is true; but should we not set aside our troubles and unite to drive the blight from our land? Only a very few of our Shees survive the invaders’ decimation. We cannot win this fight alone. The enemy encroaches further every day upon our territory – they must be stopped.’
Dragonfly gave him a look of surprise. Seldom had she known Thorn put himself at risk, self-preservation was his idol. She was grateful for his support, of course, but to judge from his masters’ expression he had opened up a world of trouble for himself.
Salmot’s face grew red with fury. ‘You dare to speak in my presence without leave? Do not think to deceive me; I see where you stand, at the back of that au-ber-o sï bledo , when your place is in my shadow! You are but a servant and have no part in this affair!’
Thorn paled, but there was resolution in his reply. ‘Your pardon, majesty, but I do. My life is here amongst the Wild-Fey and so I will speak. You must listen to Dragonfly. She too is a queen amongst her own folk and wise in the ways of humans.’
Madrios gave him a venomous glare, ‘Hold your tongue, wriganti .’
Thorn’s face took on a deeper hue at the insult. ‘Majesty, I know I risk your anger, but I will not be silent.’
The Queen’s smile was pure ice. With a flutter of gossamer wings, she moved forward until she came to rest in front of him. ‘You will not be silent, you say?’
Eyes full of fear, Thorn nonetheless said, ‘I cannot stay quiet any longer. All the folk wonder at your majesties’ lack of action against the invaders. Do they not fell our trees for their own nefarious purposes? Have not the Shees throughout the Forest of Sighs tasted their venom? Many have been lost to the steel and clamour of the Homeworld soldiers, forced down the path of di-reig-n  to scatter their very essence and accept di-to ?’ He drew in a deep breath. ‘How many more of our race must perish before it is lost and gone forever?’
The Queen’s expression did not change. ‘You have indeed found your tongue, Thorn, and it will cost you dear.’
She put a finger lightly to his lips. Too late Dragonfly realised what the Queen had done. As Madrios took a step back, the skin on the lower part of Thorn’s face rippled. Muffled protest poured from him, as his mouth shrank, then vanished. He fell to his knees, hands over where his lips had once been.
‘Lift your blight, Madrios, or I swear by Cerunnos himself I will -‘
‘What will you do, Dragonfly? You are inside Merriadown Shee and have no power over us.’
The King’s green eyes held a yellow light and his grin revealed sharp teeth. The Queen’s expression was once again serene as she took her husband’s hand. Dragonfly shook her head. What Madrios said was true. By Faerie lore it would be impolitic to cast a spell upon her hosts, but they had already flouted the rules of hospitality. If they wanted a fight then they could have one.
‘Thorn said it just now. Only a few of the Shees remained untouched by the invaders. Why would that be when they have the power to wipe out all? You must be in league with them.’
‘Careful what you say or I will have your tongue too,’ Madrios replied. ‘By luck or ill fortune you have the truth of it.’ Her expression was one of sheer malice. ‘You’ll not leave here to spread that knowledge.’
Dragonfly drew herself upright, ready to do battle. Within the confines of the Shee she could not take advantage of her ability to change size. So be it, the fight was on.
 Irish/Gaelic for mind.
 Proto-Celtic, literal translation: worthless she-wolf
 Proto-Celtic for worm.
 Proto-Celtic for wind.
 Celtic for death.
For more short stories, novel extracts and articles, go to