Hi. I'm Lee, student body president, a Knight of House Scathatch and a member of the Court of Glass. This is Sand. He's a Knight of House Fiona, and an assistant teacher. The reason we're doing this is that they figure you'll pay more attention to someone closer to your own age.
You are Changelings. However, it's more important that you know who you are than what you are. Since your Chrysalis you have probably been having things come back to you. The purpose of this little meeting is to explain a few things to help prompt more memories. That's also why the first formal ceremony you will probably participate in is your Saining. This will reveal to you who you are and your role in Changeling society, if you haven't already remembered. What you still don't remember after this you will be taught in classes.
Your Kith is what kind of Changeling you are. The Kith are Boggan, Eshu, Nocker, Pooka, Redcap, Satyr, Sidhe, Sluagh, and Troll. Together we call ourselves the kithain. You've already heard some of those names used; you'll be taught
what the rest are later.
There are other supernatural creatures who are not
considered Kithain, the Gallain. Some are like us - mostly
the Native American fae and a few from other areas. Some are
very much not like us. These include the werewolves, the
vampires, and similar creatures.
Yes, werewolves and vampires exist. Our paths and theirs
rarely cross, and most of what each group knows about the
other is more myth than fact. Try to avoid both groups if
you can, at least until you can learn something about them.
Our society is basically feudal. This means there are
leaders - the Sidhe, usually - and followers - the
Commoners, made up of all the other kith. Some in both
groups believe this is the natural order of things. Many do
not. House Scathatch is in the latter group. Our Liege, Duke
Wotchermacalt, is pretty typical of that House in that he
believes that while the Sidhe generally have the qualities
which make for good leaders not all of them do, while some
Commoners definitely make good leaders. Because of this,
those Sidhe - and even many Commoners - who hold to a strict
feudal view of how things should be run dislike this House.
Something to keep in mind.
We Changelings exist in a dual reality. Mortals cannot see
us as we really are, unless they have been enchanted or have
some form of magic themselves which grants such perceptions.
What they see is your mortal seeming; currently, that's what
you looked like to yourself before your Chrysalis. The
Chrysalis is the moment of revelation, when your fae nature
overcomes the banality of the mortal world and you are
reborn into yourself. This reveals your fae mien to all who
can see such.
Your voile is what you wear in your fae mien. For most of
you this is currently an altered version of your mortal
garments. Some of your have already recovered your full
Changeling voile. The rest of you will either recover it or
make a new one.
We fae gain our abilities - and our very nature - from the
Dreaming. There are a lot of different definitions for this,
and much discussion over its actual nature. Some say it is
the source of all dreams and wonder. Others that it is the
result of human dreams. Our magic comes from glamour, which
is the active ingredient of the Dreaming. You might say it's
distilled power of imagination.
You can gain glamour from many sources, and in several
ways. You can take it directly from humans, or by being
granted permission to take it from a freehold by its master.
The Court of Glass is a level 4 freehold, established by the
current Duke's great-grandfather and several of his other
relatives over a century and a half ago. The current Duke
has reigned here for nearly thirty years.
That brings us to an interesting property of freeholds. You
may have heard tales of how humans taken to fairy lands
return unaged, even though decades have passed. People don't
age in a freehold. The current Duke is in his eighties; his
wife is younger, but still older than she looks. This is why
the school and boarding house are not in the freehold
proper, though the playground is. We can't have people
wondering why none of you are growing up.
Keep in mind that while you are creatures of magic, you
aren't gods. Affecting the mortal world with Changeling
magic is very hard. Even causing a mortal to see you as you
really are is hard, and they generally don't remember for
long, due to the Mists. That's what keeps mortals from
believing in us. They can even keep Changelings from
believing in us. Which is why you didn't see yourselves as
you are now before your Chrysalis. If you aren't careful,
they can make you forget who and what you are, and you'll go
back to being only your mundane selves.
You can much more easily affect things fae and things
chimerical. Those latter include some of the odd creatures
you've seen around the freehold, your voile, and those parts
of things which you can see but mortals can't. Like the
turrets and flags on the freehold. And, with effort, your
magic will affect the mortal world.
The reason we are so limited has to do with Banality. That is the force of denial, the exact opposite of the power of
Dreaming. Banality keeps mortals from seeing the world as we do, and it can wreck the chimerical world. Though normally it just drives it away for a while. Never invite an unenchanted mortal into a chimerical place, unless you want to risk making it purely banal. The symbol of Banality is cold iron, and its mere presence can harm us. You will be instructed later as to just what that is. For now, be assured that you'll know it when you see it.
To shield ourselves from banality we changelings follow the
Changeling Way. This is a special ritual allows us to be
born into mortal human bodies, which protect our fae essence
from Banality. Many Commoners did this, ages ago, as
banality swept across the world at the beginning of the Dark
Ages. So did some Nobles, mostly about half of House
Scathatch. The rest of the Nobles and Commoners returned to
Arcadia, the heart of the dreaming and our original home.
However, down through the centuries a few of those from Arcadia came back to the mortal world, and a few from here made the trip there. A lot of Fae - mostly Sidhe - returned when the Moon landings of the late Sixties and early Seventies caused a surge of Glamour. Unfortunately, these newcomers tried to enforce the old, strict feudal system
onto a world which had changed greatly since they last were
in it. The result was the Concordance War.
Remember how I said those who stayed behind and performed
the Changeling Way Rite were born anew? Well, some of these
new Sidhe did that. However, most simply took over already-adult bodies. What happened to the original owners is a
matter of conjecture. Some, though, had more respect for
humans than that. One of those, born as part of a set of
twins, was a Sidhe noble who grew up to become High King
David. He ended the Concordance War and did what he could to
establish a modified feudal system which respected the
Commoners while recognizing that the Sidhe were generally
more fit to lead. Much like what House Scathatch has been
doing for centuries. Unfortunately, just because we were
first doesn't mean we are respected. The fact that many of
the traditionalist Sidhe and Commoners firmly hold to the
older form of rule means that our House continues to
experience prejudice, and probably explains why High King
David disappeared a few years ago. People are still looking
Locally, however, Duke Wotchermacalt is recognized as the
Liege of the region by nearly all the Changelings in it. His
family has a long history of fair and wise rule. There are
several smaller freeholds in the area, most held by
Commoners. They, and the few Sidhe of other Houses, almost
uniformly recognize his authority, though some reluctantly.
This school is one of the reasons he is respected beyond his
hereditary title and the recognition granted his Duchy by
High King David. Many families, faced with kithain or kinain
children who don't fit into mundane schools, have found this
place to be a blessing. As I mentioned earlier, Sand, here,
is of House Fiona. The local Fiona Baron and Duke
Wotchermacalt have long had a mutually beneficial and
friendly relationship. So while it is important to remember
the general rules, you also have to take into account
14,000 BCE Oldest Garou, fae, vampire and other mythic
legends. 12,000 BCE First city.
5500 BCE Land bridge between Britain and mainland submerged.
500 BCE The Sundering begins.
900 - 1100 CE Medieval Warm Period.
1200 CE Climate changes in Northern Hemisphere bring cooler, shorter Summers, harsher Winters. Life in most of the civilized world becomes much harder.
1233 CE Establishment of the Inquisition. The Sundering reaches its peak.
1250 CE First European fae move to New World.
1347 CE Outbreak of the Black Plague.
1348 CE The Shattering.
1350s CE Last known Trods to Arcadia close. The Interregnum begins. (Year approximate.)
1868 CE Court of Glass freehold established.
1888 CE Industrial and Farming Exhibition (?) held near Columbus.
1969 CE The Resurgence.
1973 CE The Accordance War begins.
1974 CE David Ardry finds long-lost Caliburn, and claims the title of High King.
1978 CD The Accordance War ends.
1998 CE David Ardry disappears.
This story is set in White Wolf's Changeling: The
Dreaming role-playing game universe. While the plot and many
of the characters are mine, everything else is theirs.
Theme for this section: "Girlfriend" by Matthew Sweet
He shouldn't be here. Start of the semester was only a
week away, and there was so much to do...
But that was the reason he was here. He needed a
break. From graduating, from getting ready for college, from
working hard all Summer to have money. So he had taken his
favorite board and his safety gear and headed off to a place
he'd heard of but never been to before. Leo prided himself
on being a good son, a good student, even a good brother to
his sister. But there were times when he had to rebel. To
do something to get away from all the responsibility and
Leo concentrated on the basics, just boarding up and
down, back and forth, until he got used to this new place.
Part of the city storm sewer system, it had the nickname
Blood Bowl, supposedly because someone had died here after
going off his board. That didn't seem likely to Theo. Sure,
there were rough spots, but nothing he couldn't...
A dark figure came out of the large exit tunnel, just
slipping between the bars to step right into his path. He
swerved, too hard, and went flying. He tried to catch
himself, but fell, hard. He felt bone break. Leo tumbled to
a stop and lay, stunned. There was no pain, yet, but he knew
it would come. At least the gear had done its job. Besides
the broken arm he only had a few scrapes and bruises. Still,
that arm was going to be trouble. He wondered, in that
detached way someone freshly hurt can have, how he was going
to get to a phone to call an ambulance.
The obstacle came over, reminding him that maybe
someone else could call. The stranger was small and slim and
pale, with long, greasy hair and big, dark eyes, and was
draped in black, long out of date garments.
Oh, great; a Goth, thought Theo.
"I'm sorry," the stranger said in a bare whisper of a voice, kneeling and beginning
to examine him. "I heard a noise and came to see what it
was, then was dazzled by the light."
She - at least, Leo thought the heavily dressed figure
was female - touched him with cold, rubbery fingers. Leo
should have been repulsed, but it felt strangely comforting.
He wondered what was wrong with her throat.
"What I made wrong, I put right, to make an end to this
A strange warmth spread through Theo, focusing in his
arm, where it was almost painful. He stared, eyes wide, as
the limb straightened, the swelling diminished. In seconds
it was if he had never been hurt. He looked up at the young
woman in astonishment, only to see her disappear into the
culvert. He could see that those bars were too closely
spaced for even a child to squeeze through, yet both times
she had simply - and deftly - turned and stepped.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins
The two young wolves romped in the late Summer woods. Their time together was to soon end, but for now they focused on the moment. Pouncing, bowing, play-biting, chasing each other's tails, their antics would have made a hardened killer smile. Then a beeping sound from a pile of clothing stashed nearby began. The wolves stopped, their mood dramatically altered. Reluctantly, the female changed back to human, already wearing clothes, then looked away so the male could become his naked Pooka self.
Debbie watched appreciatively as Bill put his clothes
on. Then she grabbed him in a fierce, protective hug.
"Come back to me, my little Pooka," she breathed.
"You can come and visit," Bill pointed, out, wheezing a
He had grown a lot in the past three years, and was as
tall as Debbie, now, but still no match for her Ahroun
might. Of course, how many Changelings were? The fact that
he was tougher and healed faster than most Changelings meant
she could roughhouse with him... though not as much as she
could with her pack mates. Bill tried hard not to feel
inadequate, and usually succeeded.
"That's if I can get permission from my Alpha, and
if I can get permission from the Open Skies Sept, and if..."
"Shush," said Bill, putting a finger on her lips. He
smirked. "I'll find a way, even if I have to lie about
Debbie laughed, and hugged him even tighter.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Free Your Mind" by En Vogue
Leo couldn't get the events of the day before out of
his mind. He knew he hadn't imagined them. That strange
girl had, somehow, healed his arm. And ever since he'd been
seeing strange things out of the corners of his eyes,
hearing snatches of odd music... Unless someone had slipped
him something, he must have hit his head as well as his arm.
Only... his arm, though sore, appeared straight and
No; somehow, he knew those things were real. Something
inside him kept whispering that he was missing an important
lesson, that he should have chased down that strange girl
and asked questions. Exactly what questions he still wasn't
too sure of, though...
* * *
Theme for this section: "Leave It" by Yes
The room had no chimerical aspect to speak of. Or rather, its chimerical and mortal aspects were almost identical. There were a few vague, shadowy features visible to those with the proper perceptions, traces of the dreams and imaginings of previous occupants, but otherwise it was exactly the same to both Changeling and mortal eyes.
Bill closed his empty suitcase with a sigh, and put it
on the shelf in the closet. First day in a new town. First
day in a new dorm. First day at a new college. First day of
He'd been of two minds when Baron Haldrin asked him to
come here to check on reports of odd Changeling doings in
the area. He had planned to start back at Feyland college,
where he was almost ready to graduate. Coming to Ohio State
had required a major change for him, and invented
explanations for all those not meant to know the real
reason. At least with his Changeling friends and
acquaintances he could point to the large fey population in
the area, especially among the students. His mortal friends
were given a much less convincing story.
Fortunately, Ohio State University had an excellent
business program, so the change wouldn't hurt his long-term
plans too much.
The door opened and a tall, muscular fellow looked in.
"Oh, hi. I think this is my room."
"Come on in," said Bill, amiably.
The guy stared at him for a moment, then shook his
"I mean, this is the room I assigned to."
"William Peabody," Bill said, offering his hand.
The stranger shook it, looking a bit confused.
"I mean," he said, slowly, "this is the room where I'll
be staying this semester."
"That's about what I figured," Bill replied, nodding.
The guy scowled, muttered something under his breath,
and finally finished entering the room. He put one large
suitcase on the far bed (the near one still having some of
Bill's stuff on it) and another one on the associated desk.
Then he turned and glowered at Bill.
"Well? Don't you want to know who I am?"
"You're Edward Bellamy. Both our names are on the
The other looked astounded.
"But... I'm supposed to have a room by myself."
"Don't blame me. I didn't make the room assignments."
The larger teen looked like he wanted to do just that,
but instead exited the room, muttering again. He hadn't
returned by the time Bill finished putting his things away
and decided to hunt up something to eat. As Bill passed by
the ground floor offices for the dorm he could hear Ed's
voice, loud and agitated, protesting that he was a football
star and was supposed to have a room alone.
"Going to be an interesting semester," sighed Bill,
* * *
Theme for this section: "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf
Bill snuffled eagerly around the massive old tree, tail
wagging. Definite Garou scent, here. He wasn't sure, using
his wolf vision, but he thought he could make out one of
their glyphs carved on a nearby rock, as well. He picked a
spot reserved for visitors to announce themselves and marked
it. Then he moved off a bit, raised his head, and howled.
The message was simple: Peaceful visitor requests
meeting. He only gave it once. If they were close enough to
hear that was all he needed to do. If they weren't, he could
howl all evening with no result. Then, he lay down in the
open to wait. He was sure, though, they'd have someone
listening. And maybe watching.
The reply was less than ten minutes in coming, and Bill
took as given they had spent a few of those checking him and
the surrounding area first. It wasn't paranoia when everyone
really was out to get you... The wolves strode from the
underbrush, wary but showing dominance cues. Wolf etiquette
was nearly first nature to Bill, and he responded
appropriately, showing deference, greeting the obvious
leader first, then the others in descending order of rank.
All this before anyone tried beastspeech.
*What are your tribe and rank?* asked the pack Alpha,
That was understandable. Bill did not carry Garou scent
(though that in itself didn't mean he wasn't one, since some
could disguise this, and some simply didn't have it). Though
traces of his other form's scent carried over, just now he
smelled mostly like a non-supernatural wolf.
*Not Garou,* Bill clarified. *Friend and ally of Dragon
Watch Pack, of the Sept of Open Skies.*
Outright lies were close to impossible in beastspeech,
but Bill could still fulfill his Pooka nature by being
ambiguous, not telling the complete truth, or some
*As we were told to expect,* the pack Theurge noted.
They shifted to Crinos, a form anything not also a
supernatural creature would have found instinctively
terrifying. Also, while Changelings were not subject to the
Delirium as mortals were, most would still find even one
Garou in Crinos intimidating. Bill, on the other hand, was
mildly impressed. There were some spectacular battle scars
and decorations among that pack. The Sept had sent their
best - or close to it - to greet him.
*My man-skins are there,* Bill stated, pointing towards
some bushes with his nose. *I will be back soon.*
Actually, he felt little need for human clothing when
around Garou, but he did need to be out of their sight to
change back to human, something he didn't wish to reveal.
Once on two legs and dressed, Bill emerged and finished his
introduction in a more complete manner than the wolf form
"So, just what is this business you are engaged in
which may require Garou help?" asked the Alpha, StormRunner,
after the Pooka finished.
"It probably won't, actually," said Bill. "But it
could. And we figured that since I'd be doing a lot of
running around in wolf form it was better to tell you up
front who the stranger is."
All of which was true, but told with an easy vagueness
which let Bill fulfill his Pooka nature without actually
lying to creatures any one of whom could dismember a Cape
Buffalo in seconds.
"We appreciate your thoughtfulness," said Banesnatcher,
the Theurge. "We rarely come into the city, and when we do
the reasons are usually both dire and urgent."
"While we occasionally work with the local Changelings,
we know little about them and they little about us," said
StormRunner. "I welcome the opportunity both for more formal
contact, and to learn more about your kind."
"Well, I'm not really typical for a Changeling, even a
Pooka," said Bill. He grinned. "People say I must have been
a Garou in a previous life."
Such a statement carried a bit of risk, since claiming
a Garou could ever reincarnate as anything else might be
taken as an insult. However, these particular individuals
already knew he was an ally of another, and respected, Pack.
Given that, they figured he probably had a right to claim to
be something special.
The Alpha shifted to human and invited Bill to sit on a
nearby fallen log. Most of the others also shifted to human
to sit. Two, however, returned to wolf form and left. Bill
assumed one was reporting to the Sept and the other
patrolling the area. He'd seen the Dragons do similar things
To Bill's surprise, StormRunner was quite interested in
him and his activities with the Dragon Watch Pack. Bill went
into what he thought of as Ragabash Emulation Mode, telling
things largely straight, but with an air of easy humor
seasoned by occasional interjections and elaborations
obviously intended to be both untruthful and amusing. He
noted that the Garou were impressed with his command of
their language, which contained elements of beastspeech and
human sounds, making it quite flexible. At one point the
Ragabash of this little group caught Bill's eye and winked.
Bill grinned back. As kindred spirits they recognized and
presumably understood each other, which was important if
Bill was going to have good relations with this group.
Finally, StormRunner was satisfied.
"You have my promise that we will honor the agreement
your Sept made with ours," he stated. "These are the places
where you may leave messages."
What followed was a sight, scent and sound description
of specific locations where Bill could leave a note or a
scent mark or a scratched glyph. He knew that most - perhaps
all - of these places would have in them spirits allied with
the Garou, spirits which normally would relay messages left
by Garou. StormRunner didn't mention this, and neither did
Bill. Since he had no talent with spirits, and they were
very unlikely to respond to a non-Garou, he wouldn't be able
to communicate with them directly, anyway. Though presumably
they would let the Garou know a message had been left.
StormRunner stood, Bill and the others immediately
following his lead. He formally welcomed Bill to their
region, and then surprised the Pooka by making him an
official ally of the pack. This was an unexpected honor, and
apparently surprised some of the pack members as much as it
did Bill. The wolf Pooka, for once speaking the complete
truth, formally thanked him for the honor.
"And now, I think you had better be on your way back,"
said StormRunner, grinning. "You college students need your
It was a small joke, but any sort of humor was rare
from an Ahroun. Bill and the others chuckled politely, and
Bill made his farewells.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Long Distance Runaround" by Yes
Bill's next task was to introduce himself formally to
the local Duke. The Court of Duke Wotchermacalt was in a
run-down mansion in a seedy neighborhood on the outskirts of
Columbus. The area had at one time been upper middle class,
but had slowly yielded to decay over the past few decades.
The chimerical seeming was much grander than the mundane
one, but still gave an impression of age and deterioration.
Bill pulled his Fairlane into the main entrance, stopping to
speak to the Troll in the guard booth.
"State your business."
"I am William Peabody, Pooka, of the Court of his Lordship, Baron Haldrin, here to make myself known to his Grace, the Duke," he said, formally.
Since he actually was here on a secret mission he could
say the above straight out. Of course, that might make
people wonder what he really meant, since Pookas almost
never told the exact truth. On the other hand, people
normally didn't think too much about what Pookas said,
because that tended to give them headaches.
"Enter peacefully and be welcome," said the Troll, as
he raised the pole.
Bill parked where indicated, and by the time he exited
there was a retainer waiting to escort him. The inside was
in a bit better shape than the outside, but still gave the
impression that the place had been let go for years. Bill
could feel the power of this Freehold, which while not
ancient was respectably old. The magic seemed quiet and
tamed, there but not insistently. The freehold's chimeras
were mostly similar to the structure itself, appearing
elderly, tired and a bit worn. They tended to resemble
classical - and often caricatured - household servants.
"Sluagh must hate this place," said Bill, peering into
a dim corner where he thought he actually saw one of the
"Thank you, young sir," said the servant, beaming.
They stopped while the servant opened a pair of double
doors, then ushered Bill in. The wolf Pooka repeated his
introduction, with a sweeping bow. The room looked, smelled
and felt like an old house which didn't get aired out much,
in both aspects. However, the chimerical aspect was
Baroquely appointed, and quite attractive, if a bit gaudy.
"And how is Baron Haldrin?" his Grace asked.
"As well as can be expected, sir," said Bill, smiling politely.
"Well enough to think he needed to keep tabs on his old
acquaintance, at any rate."
"Uh..." said Bill.
"Don't trouble yourself," sighed the Duke, with a tight
smile. "You made a sudden change in plans to come here and
insert yourself into our society. I don't know why your Lord
has this sudden desire to learn of what passes in my Court,
but I understand his methods. I hold nothing against either
him or you."
"Thank you, your Grace," said Bill, with another bow.
"Now, tell me of Baron Haldrin and what his infamous
crew of troubleshooters have been up to recently."
* * *
Theme for this section: "Bang the Drum All Day" by Todd Rundgren
Bill had been given names and locations of several
contacts in the area, some of them right on campus. Three of
these were in one dorm, which was the headquarters of a
Changeling group known as the Campus Revel. Larger than a
motley, not quite a Freehold, the dorm residents were
supposedly all kinain or kithain. Bill entered a bit
hesitantly. For a place which wasn't a Freehold, the Revel
was strong with the force, and currently occupied by many
Changelings. One of whom - a fellow Pooka - immediately
"Hi!" said the bouncy avian boy. "I'm Plucky."
"I noticed," said Bill, grinning.
"Welcome to the Revel!" said the avian Pooka. He leaned
in close and spoke more quietly. "Not everyone currently in
here is in the know, if you know what I mean, so ixnay on
"Oh, I am definitely accustomed to performing miracles
among strangers," said Bill, snickering.
As on most Saturdays, this one was largely an all-day
party for the Revel. However, that didn't mean that everyone
there was there all day, partying. The membership changed
through time, at least until after dark. Then most people
who arrived stayed until the revel broke up. Finding that
none of his contacts was currently available, Bill settled
in for a hopefully enjoyable wait. Immediately, he attracted
a small crowd, some of whom had heard a bit about his
exploits, and some of whom merely wanted to get to know the
On the other hand, he was far from the only person
"Who's that guy over there?" Bill asked Plucky,
pointing to a tall, lean, blond young man, as the party
began to really get started, in the early evening. "His
chimerical aspect is rock solid, as if he can't decide
whether he's a human or a Sidhe."
"The Eshu? He's the father of Judy, that Satyr over
there, making sure he sees her constantly," the duck boy
replied. "She says he had his Chrysalis over a week ago and
is completely ready to join Changeling society, knowing
everything about it. She's afraid the fact he's here tonight
means he's finished his dream dance."
"Wow," said Bill. "I've attended every Chrysalis except
my own, and like everyone else I remember everything about
"Nothing special to see tonight, then," said Plucky,
grinning in anticipation.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix
Reality kept slipping away from Leo. He tried to keep
himself busy, setting up his dorm room and getting a start
on his studies, but things kept distracting him. Things
which most people would have been trying to convince
themselves weren't actually there. But Leo knew they
heralded something important. Something vital, and magical.
If he could just figure out what it was...
Though Leo's family lived in the area he and his sister
Judy had both made the decision to live in dorms, at least
the first year. They'd both used the excuse that this would
help them focus on school, but had admitted to each other
that they actually wanted to focus on school life. Leo
didn't want to start the semester by going to a raucous
party, the way some students did to celebrate being back
among their peers. Still, he was not having much luck
ignoring the strange urge he felt to go out.
Finally, he gave in and went to the Campus Revel. Leo
was a lifelong resident in Columbus, and had known about the
place for years. This was his first visit, however. The
Revel was actually the informal name for another dorm, one
with a reputation for wild activities. For some reason, he
felt that being among that sort of crowd might help with
whatever was bothering him.
At first things seemed okay. However, the odd
sensations he had been experiencing lately soon increased,
until they were actually - for the first time - distracting
him from reality. And as those sensations increased, so did
the attention some of the others at the Revel were paying
Leo sat on a couch off to one side, in what appeared to
be a quiet spot, at least for the moment. There had only
been one other occupant when he arrived, a young woman who
appeared even more uncomfortable than Leo. When he sat, on
the far end of the couch from her, she gave him an odd look,
then quickly rose and left. Leo sighed; she'd been quite
attractive, but obviously had seen something in him she
didn't like. Unfortunately, an older man - that is, someone
who looked to be in his early twenties - seemed to see
something he did like. He moved casually over to stand in
front of Leo, and stood there for a long, quiet moment,
examining him. Leo looked up at him, expectantly, hoping the
guy wasn't going to make a pass at him.
"Yep," said the older man, nodding and smiling.
"Harmonic tremors. Good luck."
He turned and left. Leo blinked and shook his head. For
a moment - just a moment - he'd thought the man had goat
legs and horns. This - whatever it was - had now reached the
point where the people - and even the room itself - kept
changing. That young man over there suddenly had wolf ears,
nose and tail. The life-sized poster of a door opened and
someone with pointed ears stepped through. And they all -
even the odd things which weren't in any way human - were
watching him, in eager anticipation.
Leo suddenly lunged to his feet and fled.
* * *
Theme for this section: "It Can Happen" by Yes
The alley was cold and dark and dank. It also smelled.
Leo felt... empty. At the Campus Revel he'd been too full -
of beer, of company, of noise, of things he didn't even have
names for - but now that was all gone, leaving just him. And
he was no longer sure that was enough.
This is why some people get married to someone they don't love or even like, he thought, in revelation. They
can't stand being themselves; they need someone else to complete them.
Was he really that... Shallow?! Or did it just seem
that way, because of college and the beer and...
No, thought Leo, with a firm defiance which surprised
him. I am not empty!
Color and sound filled the alley, and the scent of
fresh-cut grass. Things danced in the corners of his eyes,
and voices whispered manically. And there, in the distance,
in a direction which he had never before known to exist, he
could see... marvels. Leo gaped, and took a step back. For a
moment, the magical scene wavered, even fading a bit, as he
thought to reject it. Then, with a shouted "Yes!" he
accepted, realizing that not only was he not empty, but so
full it spilled over and tinted the world around him with
wonder. And the Glamour soared.
Wolf Penned In
This story is set in White Wolf's Changeling: The
Dreaming role-playing game universe. While the plot and many
of the characters are mine, everything else is theirs.
Theme for this section: "Changes" by David Bowie
Leo didn't remember getting home. He should have gone to his dorm, but somehow wound up not only at his family's house but his own room. And, somehow, his sister was there, too, even though she should have also been at college. Even more remarkable, though somehow not surprising, she was different from what he remembered. Leo emerged from a dazed state standing in front of her. He felt... vastly different, yet he also felt he was coming back to himself for the first time in a long while.
Leo turned wordlessly from his sister to stare in the mirror over the battered dresser which had served him since childhood. He wasn't sure he believed what he was seeing.
"You've got to be kidding me!"
He was even lighter in coloring than before, his blond hair shining so that he felt it might actually glow if he turned out the light. His features were narrower, his lower face more pointed... not to mention his ears.
I'm gorgeous, he thought. Maybe that's why that Satyr and some others seemed to be coming on to me tonight.
He didn't think to wonder at how he now knew what sort of creature the goat-man had been. Or why he now accepted that there actually had been a goat man.
"Well, it is funny," said Judy, smirking. "You're a Sidhe. A high elf. With a Nocker for a twin sister."
They didn't look much like twins, now. Though still nearly the same height, where he had become fairer, she was now ruddy and coarse. Her ears were also pointed, but far larger and rougher than his. Her face looked vaguely mimeish, the complexion being a mixture of pale red and pasty white, with a ruddy bump of a pug nose. Her hair was white and wild, including her eyebrows, and her dark eyes beady. When she grinned, her teeth were pale yellow and all pointed.
"I... don't know what those terms mean. Or... sort of. Vaguely. And why are my eyes grey?"
"Sidhe often have oddly colored eyes," said Judy. She leaned in close and peered at him. "Y'know, I've often thought I could see grey flashes in your eyes, even before my own Chrysalis."
"Chrysalis," said Leo, testing the word. "That's what happened to me."
"Oh, yes," she said, grinning again. "I heard that you had an encounter with a Sluagh which sparked your Changeling nature. I've been waiting for this, but certainly didn't expect that my twin brother would be a Sidhe. Oh, well; can't have everything. From your colors, and the fact that you incarnated at all, I'm pretty sure you're House Scathatch, just like the local Lord and his family."
Leo abruptly staggered backwards and dropped heavily onto the bed.
"Mom and Dad..."
"Are mortal, but kinain," said Judy. "They have some
faerie blood but not enough to actually see us like this
Leo shook his head, and noticed for the first time that
his hair went halfway down his back.
"I've never liked my hair long... but this looks...
"Well, brother, it's too bad you aren't a Nocker or a
Boggan," said Judy, sitting beside him and putting a hand on
his shoulder. "Still, I'm glad you finally woke. Now, suck
it up. You've got people to meet. Nobility, and even some
* * *
Theme for this section: "Wondrous Stories" by Yes
The bookstore was prominent but located on a narrow
side street. Bill was willing to bet it saw more foot
traffic from the university and local residents than from
further afield. An old-fashioned bell over the door rang as
he stepped inside. Behind the counter he saw a man in late
middle-age who wore glasses and had a bit of a stoop.
"Hello," said the man, smiling. "Welcome to the Media
Medium. My name is Fred."
He glanced around pointedly, then leaned towards Bill.
"I'm kinain, and Enchanted," he murmured. "Welcome,
This appealed to Bill's impish nature, and he grinned
broadly, which elicited a responding smile from the clerk.
"Are you looking for anything in particular?"
"Not really," said Bill, casually. "Someone told me
that this place had some unusual books, and I am always
interested in the unusual."
"Of course you are," said the clerk, grinning. "Feel
free to look around. Just speak up if you have any
questions. It's a small, quiet, store, and I'll hear you."
The place was a treasure trove. It was larger than it
looked, apparently going all the way over to the next
street, and into the buildings on either side - a craft
store and a coffee shop - as well as up into a large attic.
The chimerical aspect was very much like the mundane one -
How could you improve on such a wonderful old bookstore? -
except for a number of appropriate chimeras and some
Bill found something he wanted in almost every room. He
was even able to afford about half of his finds. Dithering
about which half to buy took him nearly an hour. During that
time several people arrived and left, most of them
Changelings or humans who had something distinctly out of
the ordinary about them. His decisions were mostly
determined by the chimerical aspects of the particular
books. Even a couple of the new ones had an interesting
shine to them, reflecting the care and enthusiasm put into
making them. And one of the old ones was not only
brilliantly appointed like an illuminated manuscript, it had
a small chimera with it who gave Bill a long evaluating
look, then smiled and nodded.
"Will that be all?" Fred asked, as he started on the
armload of books.
"Isn't that enough?"
"Of course not. There's never enough."
"Amen, brother!" said one of the other customers, a
smiling man with a mustache.
* * *
Everybody gets the no-no.
Hear it ringing in their ears.
There's lots of ways that you can go-go.
Look around, No disappears.
Switching to glide.
- The Kings, "Switching to Glide"
Bill realized that his wandering feet had taken him in
a direction he hadn't planned on. He stopped and looked
around. There was something chimerical happening, here, but
not entirely obvious. He could hear and smell it, more than
see it. And it gave him a good impression. Then, he saw a
male Satyr step into a recessed doorway. Moving to get a
look at the entrance, Bill noted that it was, indeed,
strongly chimerical. According to the sign over said
entrance this was the Pride of Erin, a pub. And it was
strong with the force... Smiling in anticipation, Bill
walked towards the fancy but sturdy wooden door.
"Welcome!" a large, jovial, almost Jovian, Satyr,
called out with a mild Irish accent as Bill walked in. The
place was mostly empty, this being early on a Sunday
afternoon, and most of those present weren't Changelings.
"Welcome to our humble establishment. You're that new fellow
some of my customers have been talking about meeting at last
night's Revel, right?"
"Probably," said Bill, grinning.
"You'll need to show proof of age before ordering
anything alcoholic, but otherwise good manners and good
humor are the only requirements."
"Sounds like I'll hate it here."
He'd heard of this place, at the Revel the night
before. The Pride of Erin was an interesting establishment.
It was one of many pubs with attached breweries in this
section of Columbus, part of an effort to give a European
feel to a section of downtown. Glamor was higher and
banality lower throughout the whole district, but especially
(no surprise) in here.
As Bill sat a cute ferret Pooka came flouncing up to
"Hi! I'm Gloria."
"What prices, Gloria?" asked Bill, innocently.
She stared at him for a moment then burst out laughing.
"I've heard that one before!" she said, giggling.
"I'm surprised to see so few mundanes in here," Bill
"Hey, if they can put up with us, we can put up with
them," she replied, wrinkling her muzzle cutely. "Seriously,
we don't let anyone in here at all, but if they fit, we
especially keep them out."
"Ah," said Bill, nodding. "I'm a old hand at this. You
don't need to recommend anything."
"Well, then, you certainly don't want to try the house
specialty, Fairey Ale."
"Sounds like I'd hate it," said Bill, grinning.
He watched her sashay to the bar with his order, but
with something more like academic interest rather than the
lust most male customers experienced. It wasn't that Bill
had no interest in other women. It was that other women
simply didn't interest him. At least, not in the ways Debbie
did. He sighed, as he thought about her. The things they
both did for their packs kept them apart much of the time,
but also gave opportunities for Changelings and Garou to
work together. Six of one...
He looked around the bar, nodding at a few people he recognized, most of them from the Revel. He recalled that the Pride of Erin was a freehold, but a Commoner one. Small, intimate, friendly, with less of the power but none of the reserve and little of the formality of a Noble freehold. Bill couldn't stop smiling as he drank it all in.
His ale arrived, and Gloria waited expectantly as he
took a sip. Bill wasn't much of a drinker, but didn't mind
the milder brews. This wasn't mild. He managed to swallow
without sputtering or choking, but was obviously startled.
The taste was fine; it just had more alcohol than he liked.
"Not... bad," he said, his voice only a little hoarse.
"Milder than I expected. From the name I though it might
have pepper in it or something."
"Oooh, we've had that for years!" said Gloria, now
surprised herself. "I'm sure Patric - the gal behind the bar
- would never want to try that."
Bill resorted to sipping, if slowly, determined not to
insult the house by leaving even a drop behind. Gloria took
pity on him and brought over a tumbler of iced water. Bill
was just starting to feel mellow when a Troll and a Red Cap
came over and joined him. They both appeared to be in their
"Don't want to disturb you," said the Troll, "but we're
pretty curious about something. You were at that Revel last
night, weren't you?"
"Never heard of it," said Bill, beaming at them in an
exaggerated way intended to make them think he was far more
intoxicated than he actually was.
"Well, what can you tell us about that Chrysalis which
happened near there?"
The Troll thought this over for a bit.
"Do you know the name of the person involved?"
"Then don't bother telling us," said the Red Cap, whom
Bill was startled to realize was a female of the species.
"Leo Somethingorother," said Bill, blurting that out
more because he was startled by the revelation of her gender
than because of the ale. "I can see why you're so curious.
He'll never be formally welcomed into local Changeling
"Leo..." said the Troll, nodding and ignoring the hint.
"Well, it's a start. Thanks."
He clapped Bill hard on the shoulder, obviously
intending to intimidate him. Bill just smiled at him, his
feigned bleariness momentarily hardening into something more
feral. The Troll, startled, quickly withdrew his hand.
"Be seeing you," said Bill, giving the Prisoner salute.
Neither got it.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Once in a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads
The ceremony welcoming Leo as a new member of both
House Scathatch and the local community was held just three
days later. This seemed a bit rushed to some, but given the
rarity of the event and the speed with which he was
remembering his true self was probably appropriate.
While the Sponsorship ceremony itself was private, with only Leo, His Grace and three others present (none of them Leo's sister, to her great and vocal displeasure) the introduction and celebration which followed were quite public, at least among the Changelings. Welcoming the opportunity for celebration, the Duke's wife had sent invitations far and wide. While most of those who attended were from the domain, some others were from much farther away. Some of the latter actually arrived through the trailhead of the Trod, located in a small stand of trees on the edge of the Freehold. Naturally, all the Duchy's Barons and Counts were in attendance, often with much of their own court. The Duke was old money, and feted his guests well. Entertainers fae and human wandered the grounds or took turns on the temporary stage in the huge back yard behind the mansion.
Bill knew that according to folklore Changelings who
spent much time in a freehold risked sliding into Bedlam.
However, his personal experience was that many of those who
wished to spend all or most of their time in such enchanted
places did so because they were actually sliding towards
Banality. Duke Wotchermacalt reminded Bill of Duke Torethyl,
only with less money and a smaller, poorer court. Careful
questioning of others attending the event seemed to confirm
it. The Duke himself, and his family in general, were well
considered by commoner and noble alike, but many in both
groups felt he was getting old.
The introduction ceremony was definitely formal, but
less so than others Bill had attended. When most noble
families fled this world during the Shattering, House
Scathatch had stayed, and joined in the Changeling Way. They
bonded with human hosts, lived out their lives, then
reincarnated, as the abandoned commoners did. During the
Accordance War the previous Duke - the uncle of the current
one - had thrown his support behind High King David, but
only after seeing evidence that David was both honorable and
determined to see that the commoners received their due.
This had led others of House Scathatch - as well as those
they ruled - to also support the new High King. Though many
in the more traditional noble Houses expressed scorn for
House Scathatch, for "living like peasants" this support had
helped David's appeal to the commoners.
This support had also meant all the more grief among
House Scathatch and the commoners who supported it when David
had so mysteriously vanished, a few years back.
The bittersweet ceremony was nearly over, some people already preparing to leave, when an odd murmuring passed among those attending. Rumors were already flying, when Bill noticed that the Duke was being not-so-surreptitiously gestured to by one of his retainers. His Grace calmly completed his part, shook Leo's hand with both of his, gave him a quick but obviously sincere hug, then excused himself.
Naturally, everyone there wanted to see where the Duke
was going, but propriety kept the majority of them from
doing much about it. Fortunately, Bill was a Pooka.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Drift Away" by Dobie Gray
Bill casually wandered in an indirect manner towards
where the Duke was heading. Using that as his bunk, he
worked a minor cantrip to make himself less noticeable.
Though he wasn't able to get too close, he was able to see
that the Duke was speaking to an Eshu carrying a bundle,
escorted by a pair of His Grace's guards. As Bill watched,
the Duke listened to something the young man had to say,
then turned and headed calmly towards the mansion, the Eshu
beside him. They were joined by the Duchess, who was far
less equanimous. Bill was baffled by these events. Yet the
Eshu looked somewhat familiar. Where had Bill seen...
The realization left him feeling a bit faint. The Eshu
had to be none other Sir Seif Raushan, arrived at the
Court of Glass still carrying Caliburn.
Did that mean the High King was actually here?! No,
impossible. There would have been some hint. Most likely,
Seif was merely following up on some vague clue. But...
Maybe - just maybe - Caliburn had decided to bypass all the foolish Sidhe politics and choose a new High King.
"Well, well, well," said one of the Duke's Troll guards, his coming up behind Bill making the Pooka's fur stand on end. "What do we have here?"
"Would you like a subscription to Grit?" said Bill, his voice an octave higher than usual.
Wolf Penned In
This story is set in White Wolf's Changeling: The
Dreaming role-playing game universe. While the plot and many
of the characters are mine, everything else is theirs.
Theme for this section: "Ants Marching" by Dave Mathews Band
"I'll take care of this, Henry," said the Duke, waving the Troll away. The guard had brought Bill to a small, private chamber off the main court room to meet His Grace, himself, which startled Bill. The Pooka began to wonder just how much trouble he was in. After the big, green goon left, His Grace stared at Bill for a long moment, making the young man increasingly uncomfortable. "I want you to tell me what you think is going on here. Then I'll tell you what is going on here. Because I want to make certain - as foolish as such a hope might be with a Pooka - you tell your liege the whole, plain, unvarnished truth."
Bill swallowed, and looked the Duke directly in the eye.
"I suspect that Seif Raushan brought Caliburn here to
select a new High King."
The older man actually looked startled.
"No, no," said the Duke, with an easy - and false -
laugh. "Sir Seif came here to announce that Morewen and
Lenore have accepted High Queen Faerilyth's offer!"
"What offer?" queried Bill, puzzled.
"That if they recognize her as High Queen Dowager,
she'll abdicate in favor of Lenore, with Morewen as
Bill knew only slightly more about Sidhe politics than
he did about human politics. That is, he recognized the
names and some of the titles.
"I assume that's something good," he replied.
"Oh, very good. It means an alliance between two of the
most powerful factions vying for control of the Changeling
world. It allows the High Queen - soon to be High Queen
Dowager - and Sir Seif to continue searching for her husband
with the support of the High Court without nearly as much
interference from Court duties or intrigues. And it quiets
many of the baseless rumors which held that these two
parties had good reason to be mortal enemies, and likewise
the motivation for followers of one group to act against
followers of the other."
Bill peered at the older man. Old man; Bill recalled that he was well past eighty, though thanks to the time he
spent in this Freehold he appeared much younger.
"You seem quite happy about this," Bill said. "Doesn't
it mean peace in our time?"
The bravely posted smile on His Grace's face faded, and
he sighed, now looking much closer to his actual age.
"It never lasts," he whispered. "Glamor fades; we age
"And are never reborn," said Bill, with the self-assurance of personal experience.
"With Winter coming?" said the Duke, mildly. His face
became gloom-filled, his tone morose. "The twin towers have
fallen and the world moves towards greater darkness. The Red
Star is here. Already, it affects all of us, even the
Bill couldn't help but shiver. He couldn't see the
thing, himself, but he'd heard others mention it, including
Debbie and a few other Garou.
"So far," he said, dryly, "the only effects I've seen
are those people think it has on them."
To his surprise, the Duke laughed, and meant it this
"Ah, Pooka," he said, actually putting his hand on
Bill's shoulder. "Thank you. Sometimes it takes a jester to
put things in their proper perspective. Yes, it is
definitely foolish to make trouble before it arrives. Now,
come on; I want to introduce you to Sir Seif, and hear the
news from him directly."
* * *
Theme for this section: "Bennie and the Jets" by Elton John
(No, the lyrics aren't "She's got electric boobs! They're mohair, too!")
In Bill's opinion, the best thing about this whole
mission was the Campus Revel and its members. He'd heard
about kinain and even kithain bands, of course, but was
surprised to find that not only did they actually exist, but
one of them was based in Columbus. Fiery Blood was, in fact,
just returned from a successful tour, and giving a "We've
Come Home!" concert that weekend.
"They're all kinain," said Plucky, excitedly. "And all
Enchanted! Not just the band, but most of the audience!"
"That seems... rather unlikely," Bill countered,
naturally thinking the other Pooka was exaggerating.
He was, of course, but not by much. Though few of them
could do much with Glamour, the band and audience could
definitely generate it. The music was more folksy than Bill
liked, but he could tell it was good, and intoxicated enough
by the flood of magic not to care it wasn't exactly to his
Afterwards, still more than a bit high, Bill
accompanied several members of the Revel to a nightclub.
This was a human institution, but there were several
Changelings there, and a number of people were identified as
kinain by Plucky and some of the others. Bill was surprised
at just how many present were actively on the make,
including his erstwhile guide. At one point Pluck sidled up
to an attractive blond and grinned. Bill felt him use just
enough Glamour for the girl to be partially enchanted, and
see things which weren't quite what she was expecting. Since
she was already mildly drunk, she took the revelations
"Hi," said Plucky, in what he apparently thought was a
sexy voice. "Wanna duck?"
The human girl stared at him for a moment, not sure exactly what she was seeing and hearing but obviously curious. Then she smirked.
"Gee, I dunno," she countered. "I generally don't go
feather than a kiss on the first date."
"I think I'm in loooove," sighed Plucky.
As it turned out, Plucky went with her, leaving Bill
alone and feeling a bit lonely. He'd had the usual
adolescent lusts but never seriously been attracted to
anyone except Debbie. Somehow, he'd always known - and she
had told him the same, more than once - that each of them
was the only one the other would ever want. Bill missed her
greatly. All this courting and posturing seemed ridiculously
shallow. He sighed and headed back to his dorm early.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Red Barchetta" by Rush
"This car," sighed Plucky, looking sadly around the old
"What about this car?" countered Bill, defensively.
"I mean, well, look at it! It's old, it's decrepit...
Why don't you get a new one?
"Fasten your seat belt and I'll show you," said Bill,
taking a quick look around as he came to a halt at a stop
Nothing was coming, and there was no traffic visible
ahead. The old muscle car surged forward with a chirp of the tires
far out of proportion to the roar of the engine and the
force shoving them back in their seats. Bill shifted
agilely, the car reaching the speed limit in just over 2
seconds. Plucky yelled as they entered a curve at a
seemingly suicidal speed. However, the car held the road as
if on rails, and Bill gunned the engine coming out of the
turn to recover the lost speed.
After several seconds of this they were approaching
traffic, and Bill slowed to a more conventional pace.
"This is a Ford Fairlaine 1970 Cobra Jet Ram Air 429,"
said Bill, proudly. "Symphonic exhaust, evacuated inlet,
platinum spark plugs, rotary cam, flubber tires and
rectabular excrusion brackets at all four corners... who
cares how it looks? And the extreme appearance is actually a
bonus, since it lets me take people by surprise."
"Well, I just left a surprise in your seat!"
"Can we please concentrate on getting where we're
supposed to go without setting new land speed records?" said
Leo, testily, from the back seat. He was coming to dislike
They were on their way to do a favor for the Duke. He
had asked them to carry word of the agreement revealed by
Seif Raushan to an isolated Sidhe outside the city. Bill's
car had been one reason the Duke had asked him to provide
transportation. He seemed to have a thing for big, powerful
"What kind of Sidhe name is Lady Fang?" asked Bill, as
he turned down the country road which was supposed to lead
to the entrance.
"I couldn't tell you the details," said Leo, "but I'm
assured it's appropriate."
"Should be a while, yet," said Bill, peering ahead.
"There it is!" said Leo.
The muscle car turned into the drive and stopped at the massive - but apparently purely decorative - stone and wrought iron gates.
"'Glenn of Eternal Repose'?" said Plucky, reading the
sign on the left.
"It is a place of the dead which is also a home to
several of us."
All three jumped and whipped around in their seats.
There, leaning casually against the right gate - somehow
unseen before now - was an elder Satyr Grump. He grinned at
"Good mornin'. I'm Dancing John. What brings you to our
place of rest?"
"A-beeble-babble..." said Plucky.
"Greetings, wise Satyr," said Leo, unfastening his seat
belt and standing inside the rear of the car to turn and
properly address their greeter. "I am Leo, here on behalf of
His Grace, the Duke, to bring important word to Lady Fang."
"Figured it was something like that," said the Satyr,
nodding. "You can park to the right, inside the gate. Then
I'll take you to her."
The Boneyard's mortal seeming was an old and well-tended cemetery, shaded by huge, ancient trees carrying much
moss and lichen, with occasional outcroppings of bedrock
poking through an exquisitely cared-for lawn. It was the
sort of place many would choose - and, according to the
testimony of their eyes, had chosen - for their final rest.
Its fae seeming was like the mortal one, only moreso. They
could feel that it was a Freehold, though not a strong one.
"What a place," breathed Bill.
"Sluagh have been known to swoon from exquisite
melancholy on first viewing it," Dancing John observed with
a smirk. "Some of them are convinced Lady Fang is actually
one of them. She also has the local vampires thinking she's
one of them."
"How do you know she's not a vampire who has the local
Changelings fooled into thinking she's one to them?" Plucky
The Satyr laughed and patted the duck Pooka on the
back. As he led them deeper into the cemetery they were
watched by many chimeras, as well we a small number of
Changelings and at least one human.
"That's Maisy. She's mortal, but a hedge witch. Hey,
"Hello, John," the attractive young blond replied,
waving. "Who are our guests? The blond one looks especially
"Down, girl. They're here on business for the Duke. You can socialize later. Now, those grey chimeras over there are the Stone Gang. They're mostly harmless. The tall, thin, fellow in black with the measuring tape is the Dark Man, our legally required Sluagh. And that big wall of fur coming in from the left is Siruscue Gald, affectionately known as Sue."
Bill was startled. Very startled. Even more startled
than Leo and Plucky, who froze in place. "Sue" was a Garou
in Crinos! Yet, he didn't act like a Garou. And other people
didn't react to him as they normally would the Crinos form.
Though they certainly noticed he wasn't, uhm, normal.
"Sue's security. A lot of it. Dark Man! Messengers
for our Lady! Any idea where she is?"
"I should think, this being morning, she would be by
the balefire," the Sluagh replied, in a whisper which
somehow sounded deep and ominous. "I am not too thrilled at
being out even in these shadows, but duty calls. We have a
service this late afternoon."
"Thank you! I'll be sure to spread the word. Okay,
boys, this way to the sepulcher!"
* * *
Theme for this section: "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" by the Hollies
One of the metal doors to the large, above-ground vault
was open; the eerie glue-green light of the balefire dimly
reflecting from the polished stone of the inner walls.
"Lady Fang, we have visitors with a message from the
"Enter," came a definitely Sidhe voice.
The interior was vertical stone walls with a corbeled
roof and rough floor, all of granite porphyry. What drew
their attention first was the balefire, which was in a heavy
bronze brazier in the middle of the slightly uneven floor.
Against the far wall was a simple but comfortable cot.
Around the walls, and on either side of the doorway, were
sturdy bookshelves. The brazier appeared Grecian, and was
decorated with images of Apollo. Many items on the shelves
were also very old, the oldest being scrolls of roughly the
same age as the brazier. To their arcane sight the room and
furnishings appeared cleaner and better appointed than it
would have to an unenchanted human, as well as much larger.
The strange Sidhe woman nodded and smiled politely at
Bill and the others. Yet her gaze was distant, her manner
preoccupied. She turned back in the same direction she had
been looking when they entered.
"I think that is all, Shorty. Thank you."
And, dimly, they could see that there was someone
there. A translucent specter of a short man in archaic
clothes. He eyed the visitors briefly, bowed to Lady Fang
"What was that?!" said Bill, his fur standing on end.
"My liaison among the Wraiths," said Lady Fang. "Now,
what is this message you bring me?"
Leo swallowed nervously and advanced. He bowed to Lady
Fang, introduced himself and his companions, then relayed the
message and how it came to His Grace.
"Interesting," said Lady Fang, in a tone which said she
considered it only barely so. "Yes. I think I shall have to
speak with this sword-bearer. I suspect there is more to his
visit than Adam is letting us know."
She frowned and peered at the trio of visitors.
"Yes. Much more... I think Lord Exsanguine might even
be involved, somehow. Thank you for bringing this to my
attention. Feel free to stay a while and refresh
She turned back to the balefire, dismissing them.
* * *
Theme for this section: "obsession" by animotion
"Who is this Lord Exsanguine?" said Bill, as they
wandered around the cemetery.
"Oh, he's the local vampire Prince," said Plucky,
"Shyeah, right," sneered Leo.
"Lord Exsanguine," said Maisy, who was walking with
them, "is an old vampire with a lot on his mind. Why, simply
keeping the wolf from the door requires stringent
precautions and great effort. Of course, it's all worth it.
I mean, when was the last time you saw a werewolf around
"He really is a vampire, and he really is a Prince?"
said Bill, not sure he wasn't the butt of some shared gag.
"Definitly," said Sue, nodding.
"He's not such a bad sort," said Maisy. "He's a
Malkavian. You Pookas ought to get along fine with him. And
he knows enough about Changelings that he won't be tempted
to try your blood. He's crazy enough already."
"I'm not sure," said Plucky, smirking, "but I think
we've been insulted."
"I'm sure," said Leo, stone-faced.
"He collects things," said Dancing John. "Compulsively,
too. Actually has a knick-knack shop where he sells
duplicates or stuff he's grown tired of."
The Satyr laughed.
"It's become something of a tradition for students at
the school near Duke Wotchermacalt's place to sneak into
Exsanguine's place and steal one of his treasures. The
Prince isn't to happy about it, but has an agreement that
the items will be returned or the culprit made to work off
"The Duke knows about this vampire, and hasn't..." said
"Trust me. This is one of the situations where the
devil you know probably isn't nearly as bad as who might
move in if we could somehow manage to get rid of him."
Wolf Penned In
Theme for this section: "The Marvelous Toy" by Tom Paxton
[I actually have all this music and more as a
Changeling playlist. :-)]
One more drawback to this assignment: Bill wasn't
spending enough time in wolf form. He was being kept busy,
with school and espionage, and there really weren't many
places around here where a wolf - even one with a collar and
tags - could run around without attracting unwanted
attention. When he could, Bill would drive to an isolated
wooded area, strip, change and romp, and sometimes do a
little hunting. But even that procedure could cause
problems; one time he came back to find an orange sticker on
the rear window, left by police to mark the car as possibly
It's not that old! was Bill's outraged thought, as he
angrily peeled the sticker off.
So, he just needed to find some other way to have fun.
Most forms of socializing were tainted by his goal of
gathering information. Dating was out of the question, of
course; at least honestly. He recalled someone talking about
the "hidden in plain site" Changeling places in town. Places
abandoned by human society which were officially empty, but
actually housed the homeless... or some secret Changeling
spot. The Smith Brothers warehouse was supposed to be among
the best of those.
Even in his non-wolf form Bill's senses of smell and
hearing were more sensitive than a human's or most non-Pooka
Changelings'. To human senses the old six-story brick
hardware warehouse was dark, dusty and quiet, giving every
impression of being long empty, except for a distinct
bouquet of urine. But to those who had the proper
sensitivities there was also a distinct tingle of Glamour in
the place, and the level of banality was much lower than
outside. Bill caught the scent of fresh oil and metal, and
could hear some distant activity. He figured he had
Changeling company, but it was somewhere up in the huge
interior. Recalling what he'd been told, Bill found the
stairs and began climbing.
Originally, the place had been used to fill orders for
parts and tools. To help with this a conveyor belt, roller
track and slide chute system had been used to move things
around by gravity, once they had been lifted by freight
elevator. Much of that was long gone, of course... but what
was now in its place was far more fantastic. Incorporating
the remaining bits of the old transport system, the...
thing which currently occupied much of the interior of the
upper five floors looked as if it had been designed by an
admirer of M. C. Escher. Chutes, ramps, banked tracks and
even a couple of elevators turned the interior of the
structure into a three-dimensional puzzle which shimmered
with eldrich energy.
"It's a self-altering skateboard obstacle course!"
Bill jumped, and turned to see a female Nocker Wilder
who looked vaguely familiar. She grinned at Bill's surprise
for a moment, then continued over to where part of the
device had been disassembled. She was carrying a large tool
box and wore an apron festooned with more tools.
"You're... Judy!" said Bill, remembering.
"Yeah. Leo's sister." She smirked. "Twin sister, if you
can believe it."
Bill nodded and resumed his examination.
"I feel like I'm in a Warner Brothers cartoon, just about to start..."
A rolling sound approached from above.
"That's not bad," said another - and male - voice.
Through the clatter of his approach Bill could tell the man was Side just from the intonation, although the phrasing
was more casual than what most of the high elves used. He turned and tracked the source of the voice to see Leo rolling down a ramp from the next floor. The young male
Sidhe was wearing t-shirt and shorts and athletic shoes and
pads and helmet; he rolled off the end of the ramp to Bill's
left and braked his skateboard to a stop.
"Hi, Bill! Say, Judy, Lord Blutcher said to remind you
about the meeting this afternoon."
"Uh, I'm Bill," the Pooka replied, to Judy since he
already knew Leo. He winced at his awkwardness, and hoped
they'd mistake it for Pooka humor.
"Yeah," said the Nocker, nodding absently in his
direction, her hands busy deep in the guts of some
component. "You're a bit famous. Aren't you the guy who
kicked a Redcap in the teeth when he was just a Childer?
"Well, he was trying to stop me from jumping out of a
moving car," said Bill, innocently.
The others laughed at that.
"Some day I'm going to have to hear that whole story,"
said Leo, giving Bill a nod as he walked over to his sister.
"How's it coming?"
"Almost done," she said, tersely. "Don't rush me. You
can have it quick or you can have it right."
"Wish I'd brought my board," said Bill, who'd never
skateboarded in his life.
"Oh, we keep some here," said Leo. "Not top quality,
but they can give you an idea. Just be aware that Flang,
here, is no ordinary skateboard course. Flang fights back."
"None of the obstacles and traps are intended to
actually cause harm," said Judy, giving a nut a final twist,
then applying a torque wrench just to make sure. "But
there's no way to take into account the full variation of
all the users, so wear protective gear. Okay! That should do
She closed and fastened the access hatch and stood,
dusting her hands.
"I think I'd better just watch for now," said Bill.
"That can be a sport in itself," said Leo. "There's
viewing galleries all through here, but the boarders can
move pretty fast, so keeping up is a problem."
"Yeah, but there's firemen's poles to slide down," said
"Which doesn't help when following someone going up,"
said Leo, with a smirk.
The two continued to amiably bat the pros and cons of
the building's features back and forth as they and Bill took
a refurbished freight elevator to the top floor. None of
them wondered that this - and all the other equipment in the
building - could work without external power. They came out
near the start of the course and the entrance to the
viewer's gallery. Bill waited while Leo snugged his safety
gear straps, and Judy tugged a couple of them a bit tighter;
then Bill and Judy moved into position to watch the top
level. Leo gave a war whoop, and pushed off...
* * *
Theme for this section: "Power House" by Raymond Scott; alternate selection: "Beetlejuice Main Title" by the appropriately-named Danny Elfman.
Leo got a good start, and hit the Left Whirl with
plenty of velocity to ride high enough to take the First
Offramp, instead of staying on the main - and less difficult
- course. Judy, sticking with Bill, named the portions of
the course and gave commentary, as well as guiding him to
the best viewing point. She grew increasingly excited as her
twin proceeded. Once on the Ramp, Leo had to slow some to
successfully negotiate Snake Road. They could hear the
squeal and actually smell burning rubber. Once clear of that
he kicked frantically for the Big Loop. He wasn't quite fast
enough, actually feeling his wheels come off the track a bit
at the top. He planted again on the way down, and rolled
screaming into the Car Wash.
"He's going for the Grand Tour!" Judy shouted excitedly. "Come on!"
The next few bits had names like Slicer, Dicer, Poll
Tax and the ever-popular Evolution in Action. After
surviving these Leo was headed for a shifting ramp, the end
of which swung back and forth to offer three choices of
path... and two large pads if the choice wasn't made
"High Road!" screamed Judy. "High Road!"
Leo, grinning manically, nodded and took the right
ramp. Judy grabbed Bill's arm and led him to a polished
brass pole leading down to the next floor. There, she
quickly guided him to a balcony and let him go to grab the
railing with both hands so she could lean out and
watch for her brother. Bill could hear Leo but not see him
yet. He edged left, stretching upwards to get just a glimpse
of motion. He moved further left... and tripped over
something. Bill was holding the rail and managed not to
fall, but there was a huge racket as a large bucket of
miscellaneous parts, fasteners and tools tumbled down onto
the course below. The bucket and much of what it had
contained began rolling, sliding and rattling lower into the
"Abort! Abort!" screamed Judy, turning to give Bill a
Leo braked to a stop and looked around confused.
"S-sorry," said Bill. "So busy watching my feet I
completely missed what he was doing."
"Well..." She sighed and swallowed. "Yeah, you should
have been more careful. But that shouldn't have been there.
"What's going on up there?" an adult male - and human -
voice called out from below.
"Oh, God..." Leo looked paler than usual. "It's Uncle Thomas!"
"What's he doing here?!" hissed Judy.
"We can't let him off the ground floor," said Leo, hurrying towards them. "He's so banal he'll dissolve anything chimerical just by getting close!"
"Hey! I'll call the police!"
"Good afternoon, Uncle Thomas," said Judy, in a pleasant tone, leaning over the railing and waving down.
As always, Bill was amazed by the fact that humans
could look at the same thing he was looking at and see
something completely different. To "Uncle Thomas" there was
no marvelous construct, no fae mien for Judy, only a
collection of old industrial junk, and the mortal seeming of
a slightly grubby teenage girl with short, spiky hair,
instead of a thing from a nightmare (well, as a unaware
human would view her, if he could view her...).
"Who is that?"
"He has glasses but won't wear them," Judy hissed to
Bill. Then, more loudly,"Oh, come on; how many nieces do you
"Judy?! What are you doing up there?! I've told you
this place is dangerous. What would your brother think if he
knew you were here?"
"Good afternoon, Uncle Thomas," Leo said, loudly, still
out of sight.
Bill smirked, then had to cover his mouth to stifle a
"We were just showing a college friend of ours around,"
said Judy, leaning casually on the railing. "He'd heard
about this place and wanted to see it."
"Well, pretty soon there won't be much to see," said
Uncle Thomas, proudly. "We finally sold this clunker!
They're going to turn it into an art center."
His expression spoke volumes about what he thought of
such frivolity. The kids all felt their spirits fall.
Another playground, torn down by heedless adults. An art
center would be nice, of course, and most likely a source of
Glamour instead of needing it to exist, but still...
"Now, you kids have had your fun. Come on down and get
out of here."
The trio looked at each other, sighed, and trudged down
the multiple flights of stairs. They acted and felt much
younger than their years.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Under Pressure" by David Bowie and Queen
"So, how are you adjusting to the Changeling life?"
Bill asked as they walked to his car.
The twins had ridden the bus here, but Bill had driven,
and consequently offered them a ride. Leo was far from
enthusiastic, but Judy wanted to see Bill's "classic car."
"I'm... doing surprisingly well," said Leo, nodding. "I
was confused at first, but mostly because I remembered so
much, and it so contradicted what I knew was true from my
mortal life. After meeting other Changelings, and getting
used to our life, it feels like this is the way I've always
"How are you doing, wolf boy," teased Judy. "You doing
okay in the new college?"
"Great," said Bill, with a sigh. "I have plenty of time
to devote to my studies and have lots of friends and
acquaintances to ask for help."
"Oh," said Judy, her smile vanishing. "Here's an idea.
The Duke has a private school near his Freehold. It's mainly
to help educate Childlings in the Changeling Way, but also
offers tutoring in a number of areas. Why don't you see if
someone there can help?"
"Terrible idea," said Bill, nodding thoughtfully. "No
reason to follow up on that at all. Thank you."
And yet, as they seated themselves in his car, he gave
vent to a heartfelt sigh.
"Now what?" said Leo.
"Oh, more of the same," said Bill, carelessly. "Plenty
of time and opportunity for just being me. Even when being
me means being a wolf."
"Oooh, I'd like to see that," gushed Judy. "It always
fascinates me how Pookas can actually, physically change
into a real animal."
"So take him for a walk," said Leo, with careless
* * *
Theme for this section: "Strawberry Fields Forever" by the Beatles
"That's pretty neat," said Judy, crouching down to
examine Bill more closely. They were in an little-used rear
area behind Bill's dorm. She scratched him on the ruff. "And
you're a real wolf? Not a big, wolf-looking dog?"
"Cool! Though there ought to be some way you can make
your clothes change with you."
"Yeah, I guess you've tried," said Judy, grinning.
Bill snorted, then gave her a wolfish grin and played
at licking her face. Judy pulled back and laughed. Then she
abruptly snapped the lead to his collar.
Bill growled, briefly, then relented with another sigh.
This appeared to be the most convenient way for him to get
some wolf time, as well as some lupine exercise. Besides, he
still hadn't checked out all the contact points StormRunner
had given him.
Despite the constraints Bill enjoyed the next couple of
hours. Judy was amused and curious enough that she didn't
get bored or resent the favor. And she seemed to enjoy the
attention walking a large wolf brought.
"Is that a wolf?" asked one woman, looking like she
wasn't certain whether she should be frightened.
"Algonquin Wolfhound," said Judy, easily. "Very rare
breed. They're essentially a more southern variety of
That became her standard response. A Pooka would have
said something different to each person, even when within
earshot of someone she'd already answered.
Can't have everything, thought Bill, with a lupine
He did enjoy being petted and skritched, and not only
when a wolf. And he was amazed at how relaxed parents became
once assured he was friendly. For a while he was actually
giving rides to a couple of little kids. When he got tired
of that, he simply started licking them in the face when
they approached for their turn. They'd shriek and laugh, and
their smiling parents would quickly retrieve them.
Of course, no other dogs would come near Bill.
Fortunately, there weren't a lot of people walking their
canines here and now, so that wasn't much of a problem.
Bill, when not occupied with being a "cuddly woof-woof"
found time to explore, mostly through scent. He led Judy
over much of the campus and most of the nearby park. He
found the two contact points he was looking for. Both had
some Garou scent on and near, but it was faint.
Finally, Bill decided he'd had enough. Which left Judy
actually a bit disappointed. Once back at the dorm he got
her to unhook the lead and hopped into the bushes where he
had hidden his bundle of clothing. Human - and dressed -
again, he invited her up to his dorm room.
"Won't your roommate object?" she asked.
"Edward Bellamy got himself expelled - and three days
in jail - for expressing too much outrage over his not being
treated like a sports hero," said Bill, not sure whether to
smile or sigh. "He apparently got a swelled head over the
way his high school treated him for winning so many games,
and didn't realize that wouldn't carry over outside that
"You're serious," said Judy, since one could never be
certain with a Pooka.
"Come up and see."
Indeed, not only did the room only contain Bill's
stuff, the second bed had been shoved against the wall and
was being used as an auxiliary desk.
"And they didn't give you another roommate?"
"Too late in the semester," he said, throwing himself
on the bed with a contented sigh.
Judy may have taken that as a hint. She lay down on the
bed beside him and gave him a slow and somewhat mild kiss,
testing the waters. It felt good, so Bill cooperated.
However, when she reached for his shirt he gently pulled her
"Thanks," he said, gently kissing the back of each,
"but I have someone."
"She won't mind," said Judy, trying unsuccessfully to
pull her hands away.
"She wouldn't. But... I'm not interested."
"Which means she would, and you want to, but she'd make
"No," said Bill, sitting up and pulling her with him.
"Judy. I'm so in love with Debbie I can't consider any other
woman as a sex object, except as an intellectual exercise."
She still didn't seem to believe him, but relented.
"Oh, well," she sighed. "Guess I'll have to find
someone else to show me how to do it doggie style."
"I could introduce you to some Garou," said Bill,
"So, when do you start getting tutored?" Judy may not
have known what a "Garou" was.
"Never use that word around an animal shapeshifter,"
said Bill, sternly. "Oh, wait... 'tutored.' Never mind. Next
Judy giggled. And leaned in to give him one more kiss.
"Let me know if you ever do get interested. Seriously."
"I'll put you on the list."
"You know, I actually believe you'd have a waiting list
of girls who'd want to bed you. There's some sort of primal
attraction about you."
* * *
Theme for this section: "School's Out" by Alice Cooper
Bill yawned as he walked across the manicured lawn to
where he had parked his car. The special school the Duke had
set up near his Freehold was an odd mix of private academy
and Summer camp. Just figuring out who was what (in terms of
social structure and management structure) was tiring.
Still, once he got started, he learned a lot. The few weeks
he'd been coming here had greatly helped his flagging grades
at college, though at the expense of further curtailing both
his social life and his mission for Baron Haldrin. Bill was
almost to his car when he sensed a rise in Glamour nearby.
It seemed to be coming from the trailhead. Curious, he
changed course to cut across another part of the lawn,
entering the boundaries of the Freehold.
He stopped well away from the entrance to the Trod, but
close enough to watch. Several of the Duke's security Trolls
were approaching rapidly as a group of attendants in fancy
dress exited, and then presented a noble in even fancier
dress. Behind him came more attendants, accompanied by three
"Duke Loethenlau of Queen Maab's Court, here to see His
Grace," said the most important of the retainers.
That was typical. Of how most Sidhe did things, that
is. Bill much appreciated the Duke's more casual and
informal approach. From what he knew of history, that was
actually closer to how real nobility had operated in the old
days. Trust the Sidhe - well, the non-Scathatch Sidhe, who
hadn't actually lived here for centuries before 1969 - to
pick the pomp and circumstance used only for special
ceremonies as the SOP.
Bill watched for a while, along with a number of
others, and eventually learned that Queen Maab had sent the
children - Wilders all, actually - for education in the
Duke's school. That seemed like a lot of fuss and bother,
until Bill learned that Loethenlau was also staying in the
area for a few days of vacation.
Okay, he's combining two functions as an excuse to
flaunt, thought Bill, nodding.
Satisfied, he turned to head to his car. Only to find
Her Grace, the Duchess Ilsthene heading straight for him.
What did I do now? wondered Bill.
"Young Pooka, I would show you something," said Her
Grace. "Please follow me."
Bill bowed in acknowledgment, and trailed after the
beautiful woman as she unhurriedly led him into the mansion
and through the library, to a small room in the back. The
air was filled with the concentrated odor of old books and
dust, both spiking as she pulled a particular volume from a
shelf. Bill noticed that although the room appeared rarely
used, the lighting was excellent for reading.
"Not long after the Accordance War ended, a Boggan
arrived here carrying items salvaged from a Commoner
Freehold. Since there had been very few survivors of that
assault, and those were now widely scattered, she felt that
we should be the caretakers of what was left. One of the
items was this."
She opened the book and pulled out a glazed-looking,
thick sheet. There, ironed between two pieces of waxed
paper, was a bit of parchment.
"This is a prophecy - or what remains of one - made by
a Sluagh seer during the War. What is left reads '...day,
shall the chalice be restored, and with the sword welcome
the True King.'"
"That echoes the prophecy of Balin, from the time of
the Shattering," said Bill, nodding. "'The Highborn shall
return to bring light into the darkness, but the light
brings little warmth to those huddled in Winter's cold. Even
that wan light dims as blades snuff it out, but one among
the Highborn stays the hands of the others and joins High
and Low together. In his moment of happiness the good king
falls to betrayal, and anarchy and darkness return. Yet in
the midst of the chaos, two Kithain, one Lowborn, one High,
will meet as equals. Together, they shall discover the key
which will reopen the Silver Gate. When the light of
rarefied Glamour pours forth from the gate, then comes the
True King, who brings light and fire great as the Summer
sun! Seelie or Unseelie, all shall kneel to the King, and
peace shall be restored to the land. Banality's grip on the
world will be broken, and a new Mythic Age will arise.'"
"You know that by heart," said Duchess Ilsthene,
impressed. "And said it true."
"With what happened to the High King, it was a hot
topic when I was at Sally Goodin's school." He shrugged. "As
for not elaborating, well, that's not wise with prophesies."
"According to what our scribe has been able to learn,
the rest of what the Sluagh seer wrote mentioned wolves,
demons, Winter and Vampires. Unfortunately, no-one agrees on
the details. However, all say it promised a time of Spring
"Just how reliable was the seer?" said Bill.
"According to those who knew him, he rarely made such
pronouncements, and when he did rarely understood them
himself. But eventually they all proved true, if not always
in a way clear beforehand."
"Most of us, when we speak of Winter, speak of
something approaching. Implying that we're still in the
Fall. But if those prophesies really do speak of the
disappearance of High King David then we're already deep
"That is one interpretation," the Duchess acknowledged.
"It's obvious why you showed this to me," said Bill,
sweat on his brow both from tension and the effort required
to speak directly. "And I know there have been prophesies
about wolves which are true and definitely about me. But I'm
just one little Pooka!"
"Remember the Tale of the Steadfast Boggan," said Her
Grace, firmly. "When all others were panicking or ignoring
the problem, one little Boggan saved the day by simply and
steadfastly doing what needed to be done."
She put the prophesy back into the book, and the book
back on the shelf. Then turned to again face Bill.
"This most likely has nothing to do with you. But I
know the Duke, my husband, has spoken with your Lord on this
and related matters. I suspect that your visit here has many
purposes behind it. Besides gathering information on recent
unusual events. Please, consider what you have learned, and
what you do, carefully."
"Yes, Your Grace," said Bill, bowing deeply.
Wolf Penned In
Theme for this section: "Don't Bring Me Down" by Electric Light Orchestra
After a hard Saturday afternoon's work of being
tutored, spying and being told he might be involved in a
prophecy, Bill was definitely ready for some relaxation. And
he meant relaxation, and not partying. So, the Campus Revel
was out, and the Pride of Erin was in.
Only, as he passed the bar, looking for a place to
park, he saw crime scene tape across the door. There were a
number of Changelings standing around, talking, but
obviously none in the bar. After making sure his car was
secure he walked back towards the Pride of Erin. He saw the
old goat himself, Patric Saul, standing with the chief
bouncer, the Troll Roget, as well as a number of regulars
and many others. Most of the Campus Revel, in fact, seemed
to have turned out in support due to whatever had happened.
There was the Satyr who called herself Lady MacBeth; the
Piskie who liked to introduce himself with "Hi! I'm Danny
the Elf!"; Donna, a rabbit Pooka who looked like something
from a CLAMP anime; and Trudy, another Satyr, and the Revel
Rumor Rajah. As Bill approached he could tell that most,
like him, had no idea what had happened and that all were
clamoring for information.
"All right, quiet!" said Roget, at a word from Patric.
"Just quiet down and we'll tell all of you, at the same
time, what happened!"
"It was Reavers," said Patric, spitting the word. "They
broke in here about an hour after everyone left in the wee
hours and ripped the Glamour from the place. Alarm went off,
but the police didn't bother showing until Tilley got here
just before Noon, saw what had happened and called them. She
and Gloria are inside, cleaning up and taking stock. I
already know there was some vandalism and theft, but most of
what they took was Glamour. It'll take us years to restore
That brought another clamor, which died quickly at a
glare from Roget.
"Besides the police we called in a private detective
who is kinain," the Troll explained. "We've also contacted
the Duke and a few other nobles. There's a lot of people
already working on finding out who did this, and they don't
need any enthusiastic amateurs getting in the way."
"Is your balefire still living?" asked Leo.
"Yes. It wasn't directly harmed, but is now a pale
shadow of what it was."
"Lady Fang has piles Dream Stones," said Plucky, excitedly, "and hates this place!"
"That's overstating it a bit, I think," said the Satyr, thoughtfully, "but it's worth asking."
He looked at Plucky. Who looked at Leo. Who looked at
"Okay, okay, I'll drive," the wolf Pooka said, throwing
his arms wide in mock exasperation. "Don't know when we can
get to it, though."
* * *
Theme for this section: "Centerfield" by John Fogerty
Theodora "Teddy" Hobbs made a quick check of the runner
on third, then whipped into her pitch so quickly she caught
the batter by surprise. He swung, but too late; the fastball
zipped over the plate and into the catcher's mitt before the
bat had moved much off his shoulder.
"Strike two!" the umpire called.
"Damn," breathed Leo. "Can that girl throw a baseball."
"Not to mention fill out a t-shirt," said Plucky,
They'd actually come to ask His Grace, the Duke for his
blessing in requesting some dross from Lady Fang. Learning
that he was watching a ball game out by the school the trio
had walked over to the field. Since the game was almost
over, they decided to watch it, too, rather than interrupt
one of His Grace's few pleasant pastimes.
"Strike three!" shouted the Troll umpire, with a
He was about to announce the batter out and the game
over, when everyone there froze and went silent, turning to
look in the same direction. All of them - all Changelings
within Columbus and for a fair distance beyond - sensed a
strong and sudden Chrysalis. It peaked, wavered, then
"What..." said Bill, dazed.
"That was not good," said Leo. "A bad ending. Don't
think it even completed."
Their mission to the Duke had to wait. It was every
Changeling's duty - though one all too many nobles treated
casually - to find newly emerged Changelings and bring
whatever help they needed to adjust to their new life. The
umpire quickly closed the game, and several people -
including the Duke - rose quickly to see to the matter. The
trio trying to help the Pride of Erin followed the Duke and
those with him, partly because of their original mission and
partly to see if they could help.
"Did you know that most of these kids are the Duke and
Dutchess'?" said Leo, wondering, to Bill, as many childlings
of multiple kiths scattered. "They can't have children of
their own, so they've adopted or fostered dozens."
"I knew that," said Bill, suddenly seeing the Duke in a
different light. "Did the school start because of that? Or
did they get the idea from kids at the school?"
"No idea," said Leo. They were entering the library,
now, so neither pursued the matter.
The Duke's method of locating Chrysalises was both
simple and effective. He had his people make several phone
calls to widely scattered contacts, and plot perceived
strength and direction on a map.
"Not all that far from here," His Grace mused, rubbing
his chin as he examined the plot. "In a very upscale
"Road trip!" shouted Plucky.
"Not for you, young Pooka," said the Duke. "I'll have
some of the more senior people I know in the area
investigate. Now, what was it you wanted to see me about?"
Leo took over and explained about getting his blessing
to request some dross from Lady Fang to help restore the
"Yes, I heard about the reaving," said His Grace, expression hardening. "That such a thing would happen in my city... you have my support. In fact, I'll write out an official request to Lady Fang for you."
"Thank you, Your Grace," said Leo, with a graceful bow.
In minutes they were on the way to the cemetery. The
hurry was partly because evening was growing close, and they
had much to do if they wanted a nice ale before closing
"For someone who officially chastised Lady Fang for
being too closely associated with his Court, the Duke sure
seems to disrespect her," said Plucky, as Bill sent the
Fairlaine careering around country road curves.
"That's for show, for the other Sidhe," said Leo,
resisting the urge to grit his teeth as the wheels left the
pavement on the far side of a steep crest. "He actually
likes her and respects her wisdom, but because she isolates
herself from changeling society... There's the turn!"
"Yeah, I see it," said Bill, casually, as he whipped
the car onto the side road with squealing tires.
Soon - though not soon enough for his passengers - they
were at the ornate gates. Bill slowed to below the speed of
sound to enter the small parking area, then slid to a stop
in a spray of gravel.
"Whoah, there!" shouted, Liam, hurrying up and waving
his arms. "What's all the rush about?"
"Sorry," said Bill, as they climbed out. "No emergency
"Good Liam," said Leo with a nod towards the minstrel.
"We have an urgent request for aide, supported by His Grace,
the Duke. I have his petition here, and would like to
present it to Lady Fang soonest."
"Oh, okay," said the old man, though he still looked
doubtful. "This way."
He led them to the balefire crypt, but asked that they
wait outside. He knocked, and entered on being summoned. A
few seconds later he was back out.
"Just you, please, young lord," he said. "You two can
head over there. We were just setting up our evening meal
and you're welcome to join in."
The meal was taking place under one of the shelters
used for services in bad weather. Once again, Bill found
himself staring at Sue, wondering just what the big fellow
was. The two Pookas explained why they weren't there in
enough detail that the residents figured out the nature of
their mission, and expressed sympathies. Bill wasn't really
hungry, but Plucky dug in, as well as flirting with Maisy.
As Bill fidgeted, though, Liam approached him again and
spoke to him quietly.
"They'll be a bit, fetching enough dross," said Liam.
"Can I speak with you privately?
"Sure," said Bill, curious.
"All right, then. Meet me over behind that huge
sycamore in a few minutes."
Unfortunately, his pointing was vague, and Bill didn't
think to ask specifically which sycamore, and there were
several very large ones in the immediate vicinity. Bill
shrugged, picked what seemed to be the largest one, and
walked around behind it. To find a large, noble-looking dog
relieving itself on the bole. Only this one was of no
It was a Faerie Hound, one of the rare beasts brought
over from Arcadia before the Sundering and somehow left
behind. Bill had heard that some of them remained, either
spending ageless centuries in freeholds or somehow learning
- or being made - to reincarnate as Changelings did. He had
never before seen one, or spoken to anyone who had. The dog
looked at him with more than canine intelligence, sniffing a
bit in his direction. Then, with an almost human shrug of
dismissal, it turned and walked away.
Bill forgot about his meeting and followed the hound,
fascinated. He saw it approach a statue of a woman which was
nearly hidden in the gathering shadows, and was only mildly
surprised when the statue reached out to stroke the hound's
"Good Rowlf," said the statue, softly.
The large animal looked up, tail wagging and tongue
hanging out of its mouth.
"Hello," said Bill, approaching slowly, smiling in
anticipation of meeting something - someone - new and very
interesting. "I'm Bill. I'm a guest of Lady Fang's."
The statue looked up a Bill, and he noted that at some
time it had been severely damaged then skillfully repaired.
Abruptly, he realized that this was not a chimera, but an
actual statue, somehow animated.
"I greet you, Bill," it (She?) said, in an odd,
Bill smiled shyly and nodded his head. And turned as he
heard someone approaching. It was Liam.
"Wrong sycamore," he said, brusquely. "This way,
Moments later they were completely out of sight of even
"Lost Illyan is a Sidhe Inanimae of uncertain
provenance," Liam explained, quickly, not because he didn't
want to talk about her, but because he wanted more to talk
about something else. "She rarely speaks, and then only
quietly, and about inconsequential things. I'm surprised she
said even that much to you."
"An Inanimae?!" Bill whistled. "They're quite common,
and very mundane, not to mention mediocre in power."
"Yes, but using that power requires both knowledge and
will," was Liam's sad reply. "And Illyan currently has
little of either. Whatever happened to her is taking
centuries to heal."
"Oh," said Bill, feeling a pang of sadness. He turned
and swept his gaze over the landscape. "Truly, Lady Fang has
gathered no wonders here. How does she spend her time?"
Most fae in the mortal world were Changelings, who were
born as humans, hopefully awakened to their true nature,
lived as a mixture of mortal and fae, and died to be reborn.
Most Sidhe now in the world had come here directly from
Arcadia during the Resurgence, choosing a human to trade
places with to protect themselves from the erosive effects
of Banality, sending the mortal they displaced to Arcadia in
their stead. If those Sidhe died here they stayed dead,
something which deeply frightened them. The Sidhe of House
Scathatch who had stayed behind during the Shattering had,
like the commoners, embraced the Changeling Way,
reincarnating over and over through the ages. But a very few
of the fey who could not flee back to Arcadia had chosen
another way. They merged their essences with something
either nonliving, or very long lived. Trees were popular for
the latter. Bill had heard of Inanimae who were merged with
statues, or even manikins, but never seen one before. They
were supposed to be awesomely powerful. How they managed to
shift themselves to a new host when an old one died or was
destroyed he didn't know. Considering what he had just
learned about Lost Illyan, he figured some - perhaps many -
"What I wanted to ask you about," said Liam, uneasily,
startling Bill back to the here and now, "is Sue. I hear you
know the Garou."
"Well, I've met a few," said Bill, modestly. "I don't
think I really know them. I doubt anything not actually a
"Yes, but you know about them."
"Yes," said Bill, reluctantly.
"Is Sue a Garou?"
"Definitely," said Bill, nodding.
"So you mean you're not sure. "
"He looks nothing like one, but smells and feels and
acts like one," said Bill.
"That's what I thought." Liam sighed, now. "I am fianna
kinfolk. Do you know what that means?"
"I've met some fianna," said Bill, not mentioning that
Debbie was one. "Many of them can see the chimerical seeming
without being enchanted."
"And I can, as well," said Liam, with a trace of pride.
"I know Garou - probably more than you, and definitely for
longer. And that is not one of Gaia's warriors. But it
Bill thought about that for a moment. And remembered
just how Side who wished to enter this world did so. And
"I see you understand."
"Oh, you've definitely got to introduce him to some
Garou!" said Bill, almost gasping.
"Yes. I have no love for the boy, nor do I approve of what he did. But he did it out of ignorance. And has been through several kinds of Hell already because of it, barely finding his way someplace safe without being hunted down and killed. He can't change, you see. I would not see him draw the ire of the Garou."
"So I'll be sure to tell them," said Bill, nodding.
"Please. As a favor to those of us here, if nothing
else. I suspect some Garou would slaughter all around him,
simply for being with him."
Bill nodded, chewing his bottom lip in a worried
"Bill!" came Leo's call, from a distance. "Where the
Hell did that Pooka get to?!"
"Over there, by the car!" Bill yelled. He turned to
Liam. "I'll tell the first Garou I see all about Sue."
"Thank you," said the old man, appearing relieved.
Leo had taken Bill's reply to mean they should meet by
the Fairlaine. He was waiting there, holding what looked
like a gym bag, as Bill and Plucky approached, trailed by
some curious Boneheads. The bag - assuming it contained
dross - must have been heavily shielded, as it possessed
only a vague chimerical seeming.
"She gave me enough Dream Stones to have the Freehold up and running in a few hours," said the young Sidhe, smugly.
"Great!" said Plucky. "But after we drop that off we need to find some place to rest. I ate my fill, here."
"I found this terrible huge fast-food restaurant near
campus," said Bill, almost drooling with the memory. "They
offer a beef hash that's putrid! And for Midnight snack they
have something they call Omelet Wham. The maitre d' told me
that they originally had it in the menu as ‘Omelet W/Ham And
Peppers' and the customers hated it because of all the spicy
stuff they added and started calling by a nickname. Even
Redcaps hate the place."
"I'm not sure I want to know what a Redcap won't eat,"
said Plucky, seriously.
"Then it's settled," said Leo, though he didn't appear
particularly happy. He sighed and shook his head. "There's
got to be some connection between Pookas and Redcaps, the
way you two eat."
* * *
Theme for this section: "Come Sail Away" by Styx
Patric opened the bag, looked inside, and began
swearing softly in Gaelic.
"Is there enough?" said Tilley, suddenly concerned.
"More than enough," said the Satyr, quietly. He
suddenly laughed. "That woman! She never volunteers
anything, but if you ask and your need is genuine... We
asked for enough to help us reopen our humble little
Commoner Freehold, and she provides enough to make it
stronger than it was before!"
Cheers went up, and Patric had Tilley and Roget begin
distributing the softly glowing crystals which filled the
Few participating had ever done exactly this thing
before, but all had used Glamour to strengthen a Chimerical
Seeming. Patric jumped onto a table and balanced there while
he joyously shouted instructions. He'd brought in the Boggan
Grump who had first helped him light the Balefire to handle
the heart of the magic. Patric himself was the focus. All
those participating - and there were thirty of the stones,
with one each to thirty volunteers and others supplying
their own Glamour to the task - were told to focus on
sending their power to Patric, who would in turn channel it
to the balefire with the help of the Boggan. Even those
charged with releasing the Glamour from the Stones would
donate as much as they could of their own once the dross was
"But no-one start until I tell you!" was the Satyr's
final bellow. He glared around the room to make sure none of
the volunteers had become so entranced with their stones
that they weren't listening. Satisfied there would be no
early or late starts, he nodded. "Stiltskip! You ready?"
"Fire in the hole!" came the cheerful reply.
"All right!" cried Patric. "Now, slowly, there's no
hurry. Release the Glamour and send it to me."
Bill complied, fighting not to let the magic out too
quickly. A small part him couldn't help but think that a
Sidhe in charge of such an undertaking would have spent at
least a week organizing it, and had much more ceremony. He
glanced over at Leo, and was surprised to see Judy standing
next to her twin. Both were concentrating far harder than
Bill. Who, embarrassed, returned his attention to the task
at hand, and the glowing stone in hand.
Like a mist of pastel light, the Glamour rose from
people and objects, gathering in slow swirls like some
living smoke. It flowed into Patric at a controlled rate,
the Satyr looking like he was trying to hold off an orgasm.
Which, considering how Satyrs often worked magic, may have
been exactly the case.
From Patric the Glamour flowed in a tight, bright,
white stream into the back of the tavern. The entire
process, from when he said to start until the last trickle
was released, couldn't have taken more than three minutes,
but the interval stretched vastly longer to their
perceptions. Then, it was over. Patric gave a gasp and
swayed. Roget grabbed him and set him gently on the floor.
Patrick gave the assembled group a tired smile and a double
"Done!" came a cry from the back. "Sweet Danae, it's much better than before!"
The cheer the group emitted at that announcement dwarfed their earlier one.
"Well, my friends," said Patric, his voice slowly
regaining strength. "I never thought I'd be saying this,
but... Drinks are on the house!!!"
That was probably the only thing he could have said
which would cause an even greater cheer than the second one.
All that night, and 'till the dawn, they partied.
Police were called, and never arrived; several precautions
by the revelers saw to that. All interested in interfering
were fuddled and made unable to find the Pride of Erin. And
strange doings were about through the whole neighborhood
until the sun finally chased the last home.
Wolf Penned In
Theme for this section: "Randy Scouse Git" by the Monkees
"We think we found that Chrysalis from the day the
Pride of Erin was reaved," said Leo, finally locating Bill
at the Campus Revel during lunch.
"Good news, I take it?" said Bill, around a mouthful of
roast beef sandwich. "Wait a minute; what do you mean by
"Theodora and I and a number of other students from the
Duke's school have been working on the project," said Leo.
"She - Theodora - just called me a few minutes ago with the
news, and asked me to round up the usual suspects. We're to
meet her at the Court of Glass at one to get the details."
"Can't make it," said Bill, nodding. "More classes this
afternoon and some urgent assignments."
"Good. Uh, can you give me a ride? Plucky already left
and Judy borrowed my car for an errand."
"Not possible," said Bill, with a smile and a shrug.
Later, in the library at the mansion, Leo called their
informal (well, for an event organized by a Sidhe it was
informal) meeting to order, then gave the floor to the
"Okay, I may have found that Chrysalis from a few days
ago," said Theodora, folding a newspaper to a particular
article. She held it up for them to see while giving them
the digest version from memory. "A local businessman,
Pierson Gambolle, made an appointment with his teenage son's
doctor, citing 'lack of energy and laziness.' When Gambolle
arrived one of his aides carried the obviously unconscious
boy into the waiting room. The receptionist immediately
called the doctor, who made a quick check then had her call
an ambulance. Gambolle protested the 'unnecessary expense'
but the doctor insisted. At the hospital the boy was
diagnosed as being dehydrated and possibly abused, because
he had several fresh bruises and scrapes. He was also in a
mild, persistent vegetative state. That is, a light coma. No
physical cause for the latter has been determined, though
doctors are saying that it might have been caused by some
great emotional shock. They thought at first this might be
connected to those mysterious heart seizure deaths which
have been plaguing the city recently. Mr. Gambolle says
Marcham simply lay down and went to sleep in the middle of
the floor 'like a baby.' From the CAT scans and EEG readings
doctors believe that he has a good chance to recover. All
that's needed is time and perhaps the right stimulus."
"That doesn't sound anything like a botched Chrysalis,
no sir," said Plucky, nodding.
"Gambolle insists that he has never done anything to
harm the boy, and is influential enough that without more
evidence no charges of abuse can be made," said Leo. "He's
also insisting that there's nothing wrong with the boy, that
he just didn't want to 'wake up and face reality.' He says
the diagnosis and prognosis are 'fancy talk from lazy people
who don't know anything about real life.' He protested the
boy staying in the hospital, but his lawyer advised him to
leave Marcham in proper medical care to prevent bad
publicity and possible action by child welfare. We don't
know for a fact that Marcham was the source of the
Chrysalis, but as best we can figure, the time the boy 'went
to sleep' is exactly when the Chrysalis we sensed failed."
"Isn't that the guy who sponsored that baby beauty
pageant?" said Plucky, scowling.
"Well, they weren't babies," said Leo. "I think the age
range was six to ten. My own uncle was involved with that,
I'm ashamed to say."
"Those things are so... Sick! Making little girls dress
like sluts, and..."
"No argument here, Teddy," said Leo, looking disgusted.
"Don't call me that," said the buxom goat gal, with a
"So," said Bill, "do we visit the father or the son
"Let's find out A) if Mr. Gambolle will see us and B)
when visiting hours are at the hospital. By which I mean we
probably want to sneak in afterwards, when things are
At Theodora's suggestion they approached the father as
students working on a school newsletter article about him
and his son. Pierson Gambolle surprised them by being very
amenable to their request.
"I'm always pleased to see young people showing a bit
of initiative," he stated, in his rapid, clipped speech.
Even over the phone, though, Theodora felt an odd
"Okay, got some background on the man," said Leo, after
Theodora reported her results.
"Pierson Gambolle had to grow up fast when his father
died, and figures it made a man out of him. He doesn't see
any reason for anyone else to have it any easier than he
did. According to him that's just coddling a person. He has
made a second career of helping children and parents,
ostensibly to teach youngsters responsibility and train them
for adult life. The Baby Beauty Pageant he organized is a
prime example. However, some people say that behind his
professional, all business exterior Gambolle is more a
monster than a man. That he's a social misfit who hates
childhood and would see it eliminated if he could."
"Eeewww..." said Plucky, shivering.
"So who's going?" said Bill.
"You, Plucky, and I think Theodora. I need to do some
"Or you just want to avoid contact," said Theodora,
shuddering. "I can't believe you're sending poor, innocent
little me off with a pair of Pookas."
"A pair of Pookas perfectly placed for peculiar
perambulations," said Plucky, proudly.
The home was, indeed, in the upscale neighborhood they
suspected as the location of the Chrysalis. It was a large
and imposing structure, in no way modest, but it was
curiously unkempt and plain. As if the owner hadn't known
what to do with it after purchase. They were met at the door
by Pierson Gambolle himself. And they almost didn't go in.
Gambolle insisted on shaking hands with all of them.
His touch alone made them shrink back, draining as it did
the Glamour from them. With his gaunt frame covered in
burned-looking flesh and his death's head, insincere smile,
he looked... lifeless. Used up. In spite of his display of
vigor he was obviously someone near the end of his life. He
even smelled like he might already be dying.
Inside, his home was beyond austere; the word 'barren'
came to mind. The place was a desert of imagination and fun.
The furniture was plain and cheap and scarce, and there were
almost no other furnishings. There were no photos or
paintings on the walls, and not even a stereo. A small, old
TV set on a bare stand was alone in a corner. Theodora,
Plucky and Bill fought to keep from fleeing.
"We're working on a project for the school paper, about
your son," said Bill, after they had been ushered inside.
"Well, it's good to see young people with some
ambition!" snapped Mr. Gambolle. "Most folks your age are
too lazy to amount to anything!"
"Thank you, sir," said Bill, putting his Pooka talents
for avoiding the truth to good use. "We were particularly
interested in your son's scholarship to..."
"I can't believe he would do something like that to
"Sir?" asked Bill, his tone strained.
"Boy convinced me that he'd scored some sort of major
goal, like a sports scholarship. Turns out he got in to
"But, sir," said Plucky, timidly, "he was admitted to
an advanced program for gifted..."
"A fancy way of saying queer!" Gambolle snapped. "I
don't want any son of mine in anything to do with those!"
Gambolle kept them there for over an hour, extolling
the virtues of hard work and acceptance of responsibility at
an early age and excoriating the way society "coddles
children these days." If directly asked he would give a bit
more information on his son, then immediately change the
subject to something so banal the three Changelings were
soon feeling a bit nauseous. It wasn't that he was trying to
divert them from talking about his son; it simply was
obvious that he considered his harpings more important. More
important than talking about the boy, and perhaps more
important than Marcham, himself. The suffering Changelings
finally managed to escape by pleading homework.
"Glah!" said Plucky, as they headed to Bill's
"I'll second that," said Bill. "I am very glad to be
out of there. No lie."
"I've heard about them, but that's the first one I've
actually seen," said Theodora. She shivered. "An Autumn
"How can something so barren of soul actually live?" wondered Plucky.
"And why hasn't a mob with torches already gotten rid
of him?" agreed Bill.
"You know what's really strange?" said Theodora. "That
guy's only 48 years old."
"I think," said Bill, solemnly, "that we all need a
drink. Preferably something from the Pride of Erin."
"Pure alcohol for you," said Plucky. "Your driving is
good enough as it is."
* * *
Theme for this section: "Dream On" by Aerosmith
"I heard from a couple of people who managed to locate
chimeras which were in the area when the Chrysalis began,"
said Leo, after they returned to the mansion. They didn't
tell him about the stopover. "They were attracted by the
surge of Glamour, then fled when Banality came rushing back
in. They say there was a human with the Changeling, who
somehow managed to short-circuit the Chrysalis through sheer
denial that anything unusual was happening."
"That sounds like something Gambolle would do," said
"So that soulless beef jerk of a father saw Mark begin
his Chrysalis," said Bill, nodding as he thought things
through, "and instead of trying to help denied there was a
problem. Denied there was anything out of the ordinary.
And caused the Dream Dance to stumble and fall."
"A poetic but appropriate simile," said Leo. "There is,
of course, still a chance he - Marcham - could be prompted
to finish, or even start over. But we won't know until
someone actually examines him."
"Y'know, as much as I hate to defend him, I don't think
the old man abused Mark," said Theodora. "Physically, I
mean. The Dream Dance can be physically traumatic even
without interruption. More like a convulsion than a dance,
in some cases. And the doctors said there was no evidence of
long-term abuse; just some recent bruises and abrasions."
"People who know Mark say he will study straight
through for days with hardly a break, finish what he's
working on, then party 'till dawn to relax. Sound typical of
any kithain we know?"
"A lot of satyrs are like that," said Theodora,
confirming Leo's guess. "That doesn't mean he's one."
"They also say Gambolle has been pushing his son for
his whole life. The boy's only 14 and has already won a
number of scholastic competitions and earned offers from
several institutions. Most of them rejected at Gambolle's
insistence. He's also very good at sports, another way in
which he is Satyr-like. But the whole time he has also been
going his own way, while staying close enough to what his
father expected to avoid serious confrontations. Until now."
"We need to get in there and see Marcham Gambolle
soonest," said Bill, solemnly.
"From what I've been able to determine," said Leo, "the
hospital basically shuts down at seven. Only the staff
needed for monitoring stations and handling medical
problems. There's no emergency room, no hospice."
"So, we take some time to grab a meal and do some
planning, then we go in," said Plucky. "Simple."
"Yep," said Bill, sighing.
They could tell something magically unusual was going
on as they approached the building. An number of chimeras of
a type not normal for such a place were hovering about,
mostly on one end and up well off the ground.
"Dis must be de place," said Plucky.
Bill parked on a mostly deserted side street. Using
various types of Changeling magic they hid themselves,
bypassed the alarm and lock on a fire door, and took the
stairs up to the floor Leo had determined with his research.
As a rule, Changelings don't like places such as hospitals.
They can perceive, directly, the imprint left by those who
have suffered and died in them. Cannot not see that aspect
of reality without deliberately turning their senses away
from the chimerical and risking being lost to banality. The
secret was to focus on the marks left by the joy of
recovery, the glory of birth, the release of suffering
ended. Carefully, quietly, they eased the door open and
peered into the hallway. There was a nurse's station not far
from the stairway. Applying a bit more Glamour, they made
the woman there not notice them as they crept out and went
down the dimly-lit hall.
"This is it," murmured Leo, carefully pushing the door
open a bit just to make sure. "Private room. Single
occupant. Looks like a boy in his early teens."
"No chimerical seeming?" said Bill.
"I... I'm not sure." He held the door open and let them
They could see one, once the door closed and they had a
chance to examine the boy more closely.
"Looks like me, five years ago," Bill whispered,
staring at the shape on the bed with an eerie feeling of
The others, who didn't know the details of Bill's own
Chrysalis, gave him various looks, but then returned their
attention to the subject of the moment.
He did, indeed, have a chimerical aspect. It was vague,
weak, a pale thing. But it was there.
"So he is a Satyr," said Theodora, fascinated.
The heart monitor beeped steadily. Marcham breathed
steadily. There was no reaction, no sign he noticed they
"And now we leave," said Leo, nodding. "We tell the
Duke what we know and let older and wiser heads decide what,
if anything, to do with the knowledge."
A great, suffocating weight seemed to leave them as
they quickly closed the last bit of distance to Bill's car.
The old vehicle's chimerical aspect seemed brighter and more
distinct than usual in contrast to the gloom of the
hospital. It's square-jawed, matter-of-fact expression might
even have been almost a smile. They piled in, the warm
leather of the seats welcoming them, remembering their
"Why so pensive?" said Theodora, speaking to Leo as
Bill fired up the engine.
"Just thinking about how variable Chrysalises are,"
said the Scathatch Sidhe. "His Chrysalis was pretty
spectacular, even though aborted. Mine was protracted but
relatively mild, and the Dream Dance ended quickly and
"They spotted mine from orbit," muttered Bill, as he
shifted into first.
Bill took an indirect route, just because. "Cruising"
had been banned for years in many large cities, which just
went to show how disconnected the rulers were from the
ruled. Not only had the law done nothing to stop people from
driving around just to drive around, most of those ticketed
had turned out to be respectable citizens who had been able
to get the ticket revoked by insisting they had done nothing
wrong, and challenging the officer to prove they had. Since
any unhurried driving trip could qualify as cruising, these
laws usually went unenforced by pragmatic police, except as
a way of stopping someone they had suspicions about. Bill
had few worries on that account.
So Bill and company were cruising around an area
popular with college kids on a Friday night. He kept the
speed reasonable, which meant they could wave to and have
brief verbal exchanges with others, who were either sitting,
walking or also driving. The windows were down, letting a
nice breeze blow through the old hardtop's interior. It felt
good, after the hospital.
"I don't believe it," said Leo, sitting up. "That's my
Uncle Thomas! What's he doing out here, especially this time
"Currently, it looks like he's unlocking his car do..."
Bill's droll statement was cut off as he - and every
other Changeling in the area - suddenly came to fierce
attention. Something faded into view behind the man.
Something large, vaguely insectoid and dire. Something
hungry. The great, panting beast lifted a chimerical claw,
which suddenly lanced out, spearing Uncle Thomas through the
chest. The Chimerical and mundane aspects of reality
diverged. In "real life" Uncle Thomas gasped, dropped his
keys and clutched his chest before collapsing to the
pavement. What the Changelings saw was vastly more horrible.
The monster jerked its claw back, and impaled on it was
a ghostly double of Uncle Thomas. The thing brought the
squirming, screaming specter to its mouth and bit the head
off. The rest of the apparition soon followed, in large
Horns blew behind them as a mundane driver protested
Bill's sudden braking. The monster reacted by turning to
look at the source of the noise. Those in the Fairlaine
shuddered and dropped down, trying instinctively to hide.
Fortunately, the monster seemed not to notice them. It
finished its meal, then turned and walked down the street,
fading from view as it went. Leo immediately jumped out and
ran over to his uncle.
"D-dead," he stuttered, after a brief check.
(Theodora Hobbs' great-grandfather is Roy Hobbs,
Wolf Penned In
Theme for this section: "Locomotive Breath" by Jethro Tull
"Thank Ghu our no-see-um spells were still up," said
Plucky, weakly, as they waited for the ambulance. "Now, can
someone please tell this poor little green duck just what
that thing was?"
"It's a fomori," said Bill, for once deadly serious.
"It's a creature which exists in the Umbra. Some of
them can affect the tellurian. The physical world. Only this
one is affecting the chimerical nature of things, instead.
It's something we need to tell the Garou about."
"You want to bring the Gallain in on this?!" said
"Trust me. While we could probably kill it, we'd most
likely have no casualties. They can talk to it quietly and
convince it to change its ways without any of them getting
seriously hurt. I've never seen Garou fight."
"This... this explains all those mysterious heart
seizures," said Leo, quietly, as he knelt by his uncle's
An ambulance turned the corner, heading towards them.
"Okay, Leo needs a ride but the rest of you can stay
here," said Bill, thinking. "Then I can take you all with me
while I contact the skunks."
"Suits me," said Plucky, disappointed.
"Wait," said Theodora, deciphering that. "You mean you
don't want us along when you contact these werewolves?"
"They'd probably have you for dinner," said Bill.
"Ow..." said Plucky, wincing.
"Well, I don't know," said Theodora, not certain.
"Letting you go alone to ask them to kill something for
"It's a wolf thing," said Bill, grinning to reveal his
They said quiet goodbyes to Leo, all three making
physical contact, Theodora actually hugging him. Then they
made room for the paramedics.
Bill dropped Theodora at the Duke's Freehold, and left
Plucky at the Campus Revel, both of them charged with
spreading the warning.
He could have gone to the woods where he met the
Guardians of Gaia Pack, but that would have taken over an
hour, with a like time to return. Instead he parked his car
as usual, went behind some bushes near his dorm, stripped
and changed to wolf. Tags jingling, he trotted to the
nearest contact point, attracting little attention thanks to
his outings with Judy. At the designated spot he carefully
scratched a Garou glyph in the dirt. Debbie and her pack
mates had only taught him a few of these, with this being
among the most important. They emphasized the importance of
getting the act right, far more than the exact size and
shape of the lines. This particular one was a call for help.
Now, to see if he could actually trigger the spirit embedded
in the large boulder beside where he had scratched.
A few minutes later Bill returned with a squirrel,
which he placed on the glyph. Nothing happened. Sighing,
Bill moved off a bit, under some large bushes, turned around
in place (well, he was domesticated) and lay down to wait.
He glanced over at the glyph... and noticed the squirrel was
gone. Bill lifted his head and peered. Could it have been
stolen by some dog or cat in that short time? Something told
him that just maybe he had more Garou in him that he had
Sure enough, not fifteen minutes later he caught sight
and sound of a feral-looking man approaching from upwind.
Bill recognized him as Fleetfoot from the Guardians Pack. He
rose and approached, tail wagging, head lowered and ears
"So it was you," the man said, nodding, as he crouched
and acted as if he were a human seeing if a large dog were
Bill followed his lead and sniffed the Ragabash's hand.
Then, with yelps, whines and postures, let the Garou know
there was a fomori nearby which needed killing. Fleetfoot
nodded. Bill then asked the Garou to follow him.
Shortly, dressed and human again, he explained the
situation in more detail.
"I definitely think this is something my Pack would be
interested in handling," said Fleetfoot, nodding again.
"I'll go back and relay your request. Where can we meet?"
"That rock should be okay," said Bill, nodding in
return. "How long will this take?"
"Travel in the Umbra is never certain," said the Garou,
"but I think about an hour. By the way, just how did you
manage to get that raven spirit to relay your message?"
"Gave it a squirrel," said Bill, easily.
"No, I meant... Oh, never mind." The Ragabash laughed.
"I must be off!"
"I've long thought so," said Bill, appreciating a good
With another laugh, Fleetfoot glanced at his watch, and
faded from view.
"Oooh, shiny," said Bill, grinning.
He didn't know if they'd mind him knowing, but he
decided not to let on that he was well aware Garou needed to
look at a reflecting surface to step sideways in to the
Umbra. Just as he couldn't change forms if someone was
"Secrets all 'round," he whispered, as he began walking
back to the rock.
* * *
Theme for this section: "One Vision" by Queen
This time Bill actually was able to nap before some
subtle shift in the feel of things alerted him. He sat up
from where he had been dozing, leaning against the bole of a
tree, yawned, shook his head, then stood. He could tell they
were coming; every natural creature in the area, including
humans, was suddenly tense and uneasy.
The stepped out from between two nearby buildings, from
an alley which was a dead end. And every bystander in the
area - as well as every dog, cat, squirrel and many other
creatures - suddenly decided they had business elsewhere.
Bill grinned with a feral empathy at the strange men and
"So, where is this monster of yours?" said StormRunner,
actually looking pleased.
"Current whereabouts unknown," said Bill. He pulled out
his cell phone. "Last I heard, word was being spread for all
available eyes to watch for it. I haven't checked on their
progress, but if you will allow..."
StormRunner nodded. Bill called Plucky.
"Yo, green duck! What's the word?"
He listened for several long moments, occasionally
making a grunted interjection, then hung up.
"It's blatantly obvious," he sighed.
"He means they haven't seen it since the attack," said
Fleetfoot, translating after StormRunner sent him a
"If you will allow, noble lupine sirs, our liege has
arranged a waiting place for you while we deal with this
"That's fine," said StormRunner, though Bill noted a
subtle increase in his alertness.
Well, that was understandable. He'd just been invited
to wait who-knows-where by some elf while a bunch of
Knockers, Boggans, Satyrs, and who-knew-what-else kept watch
for a monster of a type they'd never heard of before. No
reason at all to be nervous.
"If you will be so good as to follow me I will show you
the way to the humble facilities we have procured," said
Bill, smiling and bowing.
"He's worse than a Ragabash," one of the pack members
muttered. Bill thought it was Fleetfoot.
As they approached the Campus Revel they were
intercepted by Judy, Theodora and Plucky, along with some
members of the Campus Revel.
"They spotted it downtown!" yelled Judy, as they
hurried towards Bill and the Garou. "Near the convention
"We know where that is," said StormRunner, nodding.
"And the consensus is they'll probably have to be
enchanted to even see the thing," said Theodora.
"Wish I'd thought of that," said Bill, wincing.
"What is this process?"
"We grant you some of our magic, so you may see the
world as we do," said Judy, a bit out of breath from
hurrying to beat the rest of her group to the rendezvous.
She needn't have bothered. Except for her, Theodora and
a couple of Trolls, everyone else was hanging back,
obviously intimidated. Even further away were some humans,
casting worried glances at the two groups as they hurried
elsewhere. Bill wondered if the campus police would be
notified of a gang confrontation about to happen. Few of
those assembled in either group looked particularly
respectable to mundane eyes, and most were in their late
teens. Judy, though actually seemed enthralled by the newcomers.
"It's completely harmless, except to your worldview and
peace of mind," said Bill, grinning.
"Don't bother on my account," said GreenEyes, a bit
smugly. "It's not something I can do casually, but I have
already done it, just after we arrived in Columbus. I can
tell these two are a Knocker and a Satyr, and those two are
Bill was impressed, as were some of the others, both
Changeling and Garou.
"I didn't know you could do that," said StormRunner,
his tone actually a bit accusing.
"It just never came up before," she replied, with a
shrug. "Sorry. Something some of us Fianna can do."
"And this enchanting is safe for us?"
"I've seen it done before, with no harm except that it
might make us feel a bit intoxicated."
Mollified, StormRunner gave permission for the
Changelings to proceed. Volunteers from the Campus Revel
were assigned a Garou to enchant, and the process soon
"Wow..." said Fleetfoot. "The colors..."
"Enough clowning around," said StormRunner, not quite
managing to convey the attitude that the sudden revelation
of the chimerical seeming was making no impression. "We
have a Fomor to kill."
He nodded to the assembled Changelings and turned towards downtown. The Garou quickly formed behind him.
"We'll meet you there!" Bill called out.
Despite the Changelings scrambling for vehicles and
driving above the speed limit, the battle was well underway
when they reached the convention center. None of the
observers needed to be told not to get too close; with half
a dozen Garou in Crinos in full battle mode nobody was
getting close. The monster seemed larger than before, and
was definitely putting up a good fight. The man-wolf forms
blurred around it like wolves harrying a moose in fast
Humans scurried for cover, looking panicked. Bill
wondered just what they were seeing. Few without some sort
of supernatural connection could truly perceive a Garou in
the dread Crinos war form, towering and raging. His
attention was mostly on the fight, but he did hear several
people desperately reporting giant dogs having a fight on
their cell phones.
One of the Garou was caught by a vicious swipe which
sent it (telling the gender of a Garou in Crinos is
difficult) pinwheeling through the air. It glanced off a car
windshield and slammed into the front wall of a bank, the
impact setting off alarms in both. It dropped to the
sidewalk, a broken and bleeding thing. The Garou then sat
up, shook its head, healed and jumped back into the fight
with undiminished fervor.
"Remind me never to make one of them angry," said
Despite the size and vigor of their prey, the Garou
made short work of it. Less than a minute after the last of
the Changelings arrived the mantis-like monster was in
twitching pieces, which were slowly dissolving into mist.
Panting and bleeding but obviously happy, StormRunner
approached Bill. The fact that he was still in Crinos,
taller even than the Trolls, made those around the wolf
Pooka cringe back.
"Good fight!" said StormRunner, in the Garou language, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth.
"What was that?" said Judy, timidly, perhaps worried he
was upset about something.
"Uh, he says the fight is over, they were glad to help,
and thanks for the workout."
"That's a lot of information in just a bark," said
"It's a compact language," said Bill.
StormRunner laughed, shifted to Homid, gathered his
Pack and headed out.
"So... what do we do with those pieces?" said Theodora.
"Not to mention all the attention this will bring."
"Crab salad?" said Bill, innocently. "And you'd be
"Eeewww..." said Judy. "And you still haven't answered
either of my questions."
"Look at the expressions of the humans," said Theodora,
making a sweeping gesture. "They're out of it!"
"That, my friends, is the Delirium at work," said Bill.
"The sight of a Garou in Crinos evokes such deep,
instinctive horror in humans that their minds can't cope.
They slide all around, mentally, to avoid actually admitting
to themselves what they just saw. 'Oh, it was a pack of
large dogs, attacking some poor animal,' they'll say.
Between that and the Mists no-one here should remember more
than the vaguest of details."
"I can believe that," said Judy, quietly. "I'm not sure I want to admit what I just saw."
"As for the remains of the Fomor," said Bill, "well,
there's no reason at all to go into the Dreaming and see
what effect all this has had."
"For that we need to talk to the Duke," said Theodora.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Caribbean Blue" by Enya
"His Grace has anticipated your request," said the
Sidhe retainer. "This way, please."
Well, they had called ahead to spread the good news,
and ask if anyone wanted to help explore the effects the
fight had produced in the Dreaming. Of course, only the core
four actually volunteered.
Bill had been shown where the Freehold's rath, or
passage to the Dreaming, was, but not used it or seen it
used. He felt a bit excited over the prospect of doing so.
The rath itself was in the form of an ornate oaken door
in a wall of the Duke's study. As Bill, Judy, Theodora and
Plucky waited, the retainer, smiling, unlocked the door and
opened it to reveal a cedar-lined storage closet.
"Nothing up my sleeve," he announced, as he closed the
door. He relocked it, then began humming as he unlocked and
reopened it. "Presto!"
The door now opened upon a flowery field in the Near
"Have you ever seen a dream, walking?" said Bill,
grinning at the Sidhe retainer, who simply winked.
"Since you now know the secret, simply use it to return
when you are ready."
"Secret?" said Judy, puzzled. "What secret?"
The others had all missed the clue. Bill felt
particularly smug as he led the way through.
The went down the frilly but sturdy silver stairs
onto the lawn, the retainer closing the door behind them.
Turning, they saw that the manor existed here as a small but
dignified fairy castle. The land around the castle appeared
to extend indefinitely in the Near Dreaming.
"I remember being told that several trods cross this
land or terminate on it," said Judy, "but all are
chimerical, with no Silver Path."
"Well, it's not all that far," said Bill, with a sigh.
There were few people around, most of them manor
workers taking a break, but many chimeras could be seen.
Winged fairies danced and sang to a determined-looking man
wearing archaic naturalist's clothing and carrying a
They set off at a fast walk. As the mortal world's
chimerical seeming was to its mundane seeming, so was the
Near Dreaming to the Chimerical seeming of the mortal world.
Colors were brighter, sounds clearer, scents more
noticeable. There were fewer buildings, here, and those
mostly of gingerbread or polished stone. The few exceptions
were dark places they avoided. Places where twisted dreams
lurked and gibbered.
Nearly an hour passed as they wandered through the
dreams of Columbus, before they finally reached the convention center.
"Wow..." said Plucky, as the stopped to stare.
"I guess... a lot of dreams have happened here*," said
Judy, a smile spreading unbidden across her face.
There was no sign of the soulsucker, as they had come
to call it, but there were definitely signs of the battle.
"Wow..." Plucky repeated, as they stood examining the
"Nightmares, broken dreams, deliriums..." said
Theodora. "Do we try to fix any of this?"
"Certainly," said Bill, after a moment. "We're entirely
qualified and there's more than enough of us. No need to
tell the Duke about this."
"I think I have to agree," said Judy. "We might be able
to do a fair job, but I doubt we could do it right. Better
leave it to the experts."
"Okay," said Theodora, with a shrug. "It's not like
anyone is likely to be sleeping here soon, anyway."
*Among other things, it hosts MarCon every year.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Golden Years" by David Bowie
"Poor Leo," said Ilse, Her Grace, Duchess of the Court
of Glass. "He was much closer than Judy to their uncle. He's
taking this hard."
"He's also taking the responsibility for informing his
family," said Adam, His Grace, the Duke, sadly. "He's
growing up too fast."
"He's eighteen," said Her Grace, firmly.
"But to have this forced on him... to witness such a
She moved to him, put her arms around him.
"Some children naturally grow up faster than others,"
she said. "Just look at young William."
"I think in his case it was more a matter of being
forced take on some adult responsibilities early," said His
Grace. "I'm just impressed he retains so much of the
Childling sense of wonder and excitement."
"I've heard this teacher of his is SÍochÁin," said
Ilse, smiling. "Such a one would certainly be able to teach
"I just wish we had someone like that at our school,"
said the Duke. "Lady Fang has repeatedly refused all efforts
to entice her to teach. She says - and I can certainly
follow her reasoning - that she is too dissociated from
youth and childhood."
"Have you ever found out just how old she is?"
"At least a full century," said the Duke, obviously
impressed. "That's how long she has owned the land, handing
it over to herself under new names every few decades. That
Freehold of hers is actually more potent than ours, here at
the Manor, though she disguises it's vigor from the casual
Wolf Penned In
Theme for this section: "Are You Experienced?" by Jimi Hendrix
The Duke looked concerned. So did his advisory staff.
The follow-up survey had determined that, if anything, the
original one made by the youngsters had underestimated the
"We need to get someone in there who is familiar with
such damage," said Sir Lorisal, the Duke's chief aide. "Sir
Pederel, who would you recommend?"
"Uhm, uhm, uhm," said the Boggan, who was the Court's
scholar in residence, as he rubbed his chin. "I'd say,
besides myself and Korgig, I'd say Lady Peggy, from the
school. That's assuming you don't wish to explore options
from further afield."
"No, that should do," said His Grace, nodding. "You and
Lady Peggy were able to handle the Monthatten Distortion,
and Korgig has much experience with dispatching twisted
dreams. I suggest you three get together and plan your
effort this afternoon, at the latest."
"Yes, Your Grace," said Sir Pederel.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Thunder and Lightning Polka" by J. Strauss, Jr.
"So how did the cleanup go?" said Bill, as he
encountered Plucky while heading for the Duke's school, a
few days later.
"Oh, you know," said the black duck Pooka. "This 'n'
that 'n' the other happened, but all worked out well in the
"Glad to hear it," said Bill, with a grimace of
sympathy for those involved.
Their exchange was interrupted by a commotion in the
small stand of trees where the trailhead for the trod was
located. Chimeras were fleeing the area, and odd gusts of
wind tossed branches while weird flickers of light gave the
impression of a sudden, very small storm. Abruptly, an
apparently human figure burst forth, running pel-mel across
the Duke's well-tended back lawn, spindly arms and legs
"'Scuse me! Pardon me! Coming through! Hot soup!"
"What the Hell..." said Sir Lorisal, stumbling to a
stop, staring at the strange apparition, head turning as he
followed the odd figure's flight.
The puzzled attitude on the part of the witnesses was
replaced by sudden alarm as a trio of hellhounds charged out
of the trailhead after the stranger. They were gaining
rapidly... but the stranger - who appeared to be a human, if
an unusually configured one - was fast approaching the wards
on the border of the freehold. He simply ran through them
with no obvious detriment. The hellhounds, however, vanished
in bursts of dark glamour on contact.
"Okay," said Sir Lorisal, with a fragile calm. "Anybody
have any idea what just happened here?"
"Just a typical day at a faerie Freehold," said Plucky,
Seeing the expression on the Scathatch Sidhe's face,
Bill promptly grabbed Plucky's arm and hustled him away.
"Hey!" said Theodora, a few minutes later, as the
approached the school. "What was all that fuss about?"
Plucky started to answer, but Bill clamped a hand over
his mouth. His own mouth, in turn, was covered by Judy's
hand. The Knocker did the explaining, while Theodora
alternately smirked at the spectacle before her while
looking worried about the events of the spectacle she had
"I've heard from a lot of people that strange
chimerical events have been happening all over this area,"
she said, when Judy was finished and the Pookas' mouths were
uncovered. "And some not so chimerical. Wonder what it all
means? And if Seif Raushan still being here has any
"Does it have to mean anything?" said Leo, who had
joined the small group during Judy's recitation. "Say, Bill,
what's this I hear about you getting in trouble with your
Bill scowled and lowered his gaze. While he appreciated
his friends helping keep him on track with his studies,
sometimes they were a little too nosy.
"Son of a bitch listed Doctor Soames as a pioneer of
new approaches to child psychotherapy," the wolf Pooka
The others looked at each other in confusion.
"Wait," said Plucky, with sudden revelation, "is this
the guy who treated you so well after you were kidnaped?"
"Not a chance."
"Don't blame you for singing his praises."
"Ottorn asked me to go explain matters to one of the
assistant deans," said Bill. "After hearing my story, he was
completely in agreement that Soams' work should be widely
"Good for you!" said Judy, with a quick, tight nod.
"From what I've heard, that guy should be forced to undergo
treatment by someone who follows his example."
"Wouldn't wish it on him," sighed Bill. "Anyway, now
Ottorn is pleased with me for pointing out how he was
keeping up with current events in the world of
psychotherapy. He's greatly cut back on my assignments."
"Didn't Soames flee to England to avoid the court
settlements?" said Leo.
"South of the border," said Bill, nodding. "The civil
and criminal penalties had nothing to do with it. Not even
the jail time."
"Can't they extradite him?"
"Oh, the current British government just hates people
"Well, tough luck on Soames getting away," said Leo,
"and your teacher being an idiot. But congratulations on
convincing the assistant dean of the justness of your
* * *
Theme for this section: "A Day in the Life" by the Beatles
Later, as Bill was staggering back to his Fairlaine
with a load of borrowed books on psychology and psychiatry
and neurochemistry, he was approached by the Duke's Court
"Sir Pederel!" said Bill, smiling at the bandaged
Boggan. "I'm sad to see you still in sick bed!"
"Yes, thank you," said the Boggan, with a bit of a
wince. "Uhm, I have a request from His Grace, the Duke. You
and your friends know what this..."
He stopped to consult a handwritten note.
"This young Master Marcham Gambolle looks like."
"Not a clue," said Bill, nodding.
"Well, he's regained consciousness, and is at home.
You've also been there, if I recall correctly."
"Not a chance."
"Well, seeing as how you have been there, and know what
he looks like, His Grace, the Duke would like you and your
friends to see if you can visit him. Seems he still hasn't
completed and/or resumed his Chrysalis."
"Stimulating a hang-fire Chrysalis might be a great
"We know, we know," sighed Sir Pederel. "Still, our
local experts, and Queen Maab's Advisory Council on
Chrysalises both think a mild sort of stimulation might help
more than hurt."
"Not interested," said Bill. "And I'm not planning to
see any of them tonight."
"Excellent! Thank you, Master Peabody."
Shortly, Bill and friends were gathered at the Campus
Revel, discussing the matter. After a call to the Gambolle
residence revealed that the father was out at a meeting,
they schemed briefly but intensely. Soon they were on the
"Remind me again of why we keep taking Bill's car?"
said Leo, as they tore through the slowly darkening streets
"It's big enough for all of us, and he pays for the
gas," said Judy.
Plucky began singing a bawdy song about a cheapskate
Sidhe. And was quickly mobbed by everyone but Bill, who
actually kind of liked it. Of course, he was also driving...
They were soon parked behind the Gambolle home. Bill
and Theodora - the strongest - boosted Plucky - the lightest
- and held him up while he peered over the fence.
"Day-um, that's a big back yard," said the duck Pooka.
"I think I actually see him. Sitting out on the sun porch
like an old man."
"Anyone else there?" said Leo.
"All of 'em," said Plucky.
"Anyone up for a little Hopscotch?" said Bill,
grinning. "I think I can handle this Scene."
"You can charm all of us?" said Leo, impressed. "In
that case, lead on. I was thinking Portal Passage, but
that's a higher level art. If we can get over easier than
Plucky started singing that song again, and this time
even Bill helped silence him.
Bill, inspired by Plucky's crooning, sang a verse of
"Boundin'" as his Bunk, then easily hopped over the fence.
The others quickly followed. They peered around; no-one
seemed to have noticed them, so they began walking towards
the back of the house. They were almost there when the
figure sunning himself started, jumped up and began backing
warily towards a sliding glass door.
"Marcham Gambolle, I presume?" said Bill, cheerfully.
"Wh... what are you people?!"
That stopped them.
"He can see our chimerical seemings?!" said Theodora.
"Well, he does have a bit of one himself," said Judy,
peering at the frightened boy.
"Listen, it's all right," said Leo, calmly. "We're here
to help you learn what you are."
"I hear you had a few friends over to celebrate after
getting out of the big house," drawled Bill. "Just a small
gathering of about a hundred. Upset your old man no end.
Says you do too much of that sort of thing."
"I study hard, so I party hard," said Mark, suddenly
angry, and very defensive.
"Sounds about right," Bill acknowledged. "As well as
"Typical of what?" Mark was now wary, and suspicious.
"Like me," said Theodora, grinning and raising a hand.
"You can... They told me it was the drugs..."
The young man shook his head and stared at her for
several seconds, then down at himself for a like interval.
There was a long, tense pause. Suddenly he cried out and
grabbed his head... and realized he had horns. Eyes wide, he
stood there, as his chimerical self grew stronger, clearer.
"I...," he tried, weaving on his hooves. "I'm..."
"A Satyr," said Leo, gently. "Reincarnated as a human
Mark suddenly threw back his head and laughed, his
voice louder, clearer, deeper, more self-assured. The
accompanying surge of glamour from the triumph of his fae
self over mundane reality left them all feeling a little
"I knew it!" he shouted, throwing his arms wide. "I
knew there had to be more!"
"Congratulations," said Bill, beaming. "You're about to
take a walk on the weird side."
* * *
Theme for this section: "Wouldn't it Be Nice" by the Beach Boys
"Well done," said His Grace, the Duke, upon hearing the
report. "I know it's probably too soon, given his presumably
still fragile state, but the next time you see him please
extend my invitation to visit."
"Of course, Your Grace," said Leo, bowing. "In fact, we
have already undertaken the initial phase of his re-education into the ways of our kind, which included noting
that a visit to the local liege lord for introduction was
considered a formal requirement."
"He's already been introduced to the Campus Revel and
the Pride of Erin," said Theodora.
"I'm sure they're entirely qualified to provide his
formal education into matters fae," said Bill, a bit sourly.
"You really don't understand the way of the Scathatch,"
said Leo, almost sadly.
"He's right," said Julie. "They're Changelings, just
like us. And while there's not complete harmony between
Scathatch Sidhe and Commoners, there's a lot of mutual
respect and understanding."
"Otherwise, we'd all be executed for having this
conversation in front of the Duke," said Plucky.
"A bit of an exaggeration, I'm sure," said His Grace,
smiling in amusement.
"I... sincerely apologize," said Bill, bowing to the
Duke. "I meant no criticism of either Noble or Commoner. I
simply meant that my personal experience was that formal
education was superior to informal."
"No apology necessary," said His Grace. "However, it is
"If I may be excused," said Bill, "I promised my fiancé
I wouldn't call her at all while I'm away."
"Of course," said His Grace, nodding.
They all left, actually, their report being finished.
Outside, Theodora sidled up to Bill.
"You sure you don't need a little companionship, being
all alone here, away from your girl?"
"Sorry," said Bill, with a slight smile. "I'm
"Besides, I think how we all know how the 'Garou vs.
Goat and Wolf' match would end, if she found out," snickered
"His gal's a Garou," said Plucky, airily. "You know; nine feet tall, fangs, claws, the whole works."
"She is?!" said the Satyr, eyes going wide.
"Well, that's what Bill claims," said Leo, straight-faced.
"I think I'll go see how Mark's doing," said Theodora.
"Well, that's good news," said Debbie, a short time
later. "One more bit of magic in the world. And that Duke
sounds like a pretty nice fellow."
"And how often is a nice fellow a good leader?" said
Bill, with a sigh. "He's so on top of things nothing escapes
his attention. Very strict and consistent."
"Well, hon, you know wolf politics aren't always
appropriate for every group," said Debbie.
Bill felt a pang of loneliness; he could almost see her
toothy grin, smell her warm scent.
"Telephones are a wonderful way to communicate," he
said, with another, and different, sigh.
"Yeah, especially for those of us with better than
human senses," Debbie said, understanding what he meant and
definitely agreeing with it. "Well, you're over halfway
through the semester. And there's a small chance I'll be in
the area in a couple of weeks. You could introduce me to all
your new friends. We could even have that goat girl for
"Oh, I am so going to steal that," said Bill,
Debbie realized what she'd said, and joined him.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Solace" by Scott Joplin
"What's all the rush?" said Bill, as he pulled the
Fairlaine onto the shoulder of a road near the Duke's
Dusk was near, the early Summer afternoon slowly fading
into night. Bill had planned to go romping as a wolf before
the emergency call from Leo changed his plans.
"Some of the younger kids boarding at the school heard about the tradition of stealing something from the home of the head of the local vampires," said the young Sidhe Changeling. "We're trying to catch them before they get into real trouble."
Bill muttered dire nasties under his breath as he
motioned for the usual suspects to enter his car.
"Why did they wait so late?" he asked, as the started
"That's part of the dare," said Judy. "Get in and out
while the vampires are awake but still groggy."
"I do not understand people," groaned Bill. "Uh, by the
way, where is this place?"
Plucky dug around in the glove box and started pulling
out maps. They used the second one of the area (the first
one being from 1978) to plot a course which was not the
shortest, quickest or most direct, but gave them the best
chance of heading off a bunch of young Changelings on foot.
"Why didn't we just have Plucky turn into a duck and
fly there?" said Theodora. "He could find them and come back
and tell us where they are a lot quicker than this."
"I'm not a bat," said the duck Pooka, waggling his
"Oh..." said the Satyr.
They found no sign of the youngsters on the way.
However, shortly after they parked near the vampire Prince's
house they caught sight of several dark-clad figures
scampering along a ditch. A ditch which led to a culvert
which passed under the mostly ornamental fence around Prince
Exsanguine's mansion. Sure enough, it was the group of four
pre-teens who had gone off to raid the vampire's mansion.
They squealed in fright when Bill and Theodora jumped into
the ditch ahead of them. Spinning around to escape, they
squealed again upon seeing Plucky, Judy and Leo in the ditch
"You are lucky it's us," said Leo, ominously, "and not
a vampire or werewolf."
"Grrr," said Bill, undermining the Sidhe's attempt to
"We just wanted to see what the place looked like,"
lied the young Sidhe who seemed to be the leader.
"Why don't we walk them around the place?" said Judy.
"Give them that much satisfaction of their curiosity and
they'll be that much less likely to try again."
"Uhm, point," said Leo, reluctantly. "All right. Let's
walk around the vampire's home, out in the open, on public
sidewalks, in plain sight. Then you can brag about that act
of bravery, without having to go inside and maybe get caught
"I don't drink yet," said the Pooka of the group.
"No, but the vampire does," said Bill, in a menacing
The place didn't look like a vampire's home. Even with
traces of the sunset still coloring the sky there were
windows open and music could be heard.
"That's an interesting piece," said Leo, cocking his
head a bit. "I'd almost swear it was fae."
"Well, I've heard the vampire does know about us and
have an interest in us," said Judy. "They say he and the
Duke have a formal agreement to stay out of each others'
"That is really a nice piece," said Leo, not paying
much attention to his sister.
Once around, then back to the Fairlaine. The youngsters
were disappointed, but mainly because nothing scary had
happened. Soon, they were safely back at their dorm.
"Another job well done," said Plucky, easily. "Anyone
up for a trip to the Campus Revel?"
"Sorry," said Bill, enthusiastically. "Homework."
They all pretty much agreed with that sentiment.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Solace" by Scott Joplin
The next day, as Leo was tutored in his duties in the
Duke's court, he kept humming that music from the night
before. He knew he'd never heard it before, but it seemed to
appeal to something in his Sidhe nature. He was still
humming it when he brought a report on some minor matter out
in the boondocks of the Court of Glass to Her Grace, the
"Where did you learn that piece?" she said, looking
puzzled, as she received the papers.
"I heard it at Lord Exsanguine's, Your Grace," said
Leo, a bit confused by her reaction.
The Duchess was startled by that bit of information.
"You're certain you never heard it anywhere else?"
"I, uh, I'm not certain, but I definitely heard it at
To his astonishment she grabbed his arm and promptly
hauled him off to her husband.
"Pleas, Leo, hum that piece again."
He wasn't a musician, and just now was suffering severe
performance anxiety. However, after wetting his lips, he
managed a good rendition of the music. And saw the Duke
"He heard that at Lord Exsanguine's home," said the Duchess.
The Duke sat up straighter, looking... well, Leo wasn't
quite certain how to interpret his expression. He asked
basically the same questions Her Grace had, though in far
more detail and then adding more.
"This can't..." He stopped, frowning, as he examined
Leo. "No, I think you need to hear this. That minuet was
composed by a musician who is a bard in the Court if the
High King. For the wedding ball. It was put on a CD as part
of a compilation just six months ago. Only a few dozen
copies were sold, mostly to the friends of the musician.
Now, was this a recording, or being played live?"
"Both," said Leo. He shook his head and elaborated, lest they feel he was associating too closely with Pookas. "I mean, I heard it playing, I think on a stereo, and also heard a man whistling it as it played."
"I didn't see him; the shade was drawn. But I saw his
silhouette on the shade. He was very tall and broad-shouldered."
There was an odd feeling of tension in the air,
accompanied by a rise in Glamour. This, in turn, attracted
several chimeras. One of which began whirling around the
"He's near! He's here! The king of the elves with crown
Wolf Penned In
Theme for this section: "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac
Bill was surprised to find himself and the others in
his informal motley back at the vampire's mansion the next
evening. He was even more surprised that this had been
ordered by His Grace, the Duke, personally. And that they'd
been sworn to secrecy about anything they might find there,
without being told what His Grace expected them to find
This was no mere scouting mission, either. They were
equipped - in part by His Grace - for a long run of watch
keeping. Even if only Leo seemed to know exactly what they
were keeping watch for.
"Almost dusk," said Leo, staring at the sky.
"If we have to stay the night, I'm goin' wolf,"
muttered Bill, keenly unhappy with the whole mission.
"All we need," said Leo, quietly, "is one good look."
"Hence the binoculars," said Plucky, brightly.
"Night glasses," said Judy, absently. "And why those
and just for you instead of state-of-the-art night vision
scopes for all of us?"
"I know what we're looking for."
"Listen," said Theodora, reasonably, "is you tell us at
least something about what we're supposed to be on the
lookout for we can help. Otherwise, it's you looking and us
along to keep you awake."
"And warm, if Bill goes wolf," Plucky teased. "Wolf
"Birds being too cold blooded," said Bill.
"Shush," said Leo, quietly, turning his gaze to the
house. "Look, just listen for music, and watch for activity
behind the third floor windows on the east end."
"That's where we saw that guy, isn't it?" said Bill,
Leo said nothing, simply continued to stare at the
vampire prince's domicile.
Judy started to say something, but stopped as Leo
raised his hand. Thinly, through the gathering darkness,
they heard music. Leo nodded.
"That's another piece from the same CD."
He didn't mention which CD, or that the Duchess had
made certain he listened to her copy several times before
"What, did someone from the vampire's group steal
something from the Duke for a change?" said Plucky.
A silhouette appeared on a drawn shade. The figured did
something to one side for a moment, then began walking away,
directly back into the room. Leo bared his teeth in
"If you're trying to get a look at that guy, I could
throw a rock at the window with the shade up," said
Theodora. "A pebble, I mean. Don't want to break it, just
make a click."
Leo dithered. They'd never seen him so tense, so
anxious. Finally he nodded. But, as Theodora rose, he
grabbed her arm.
"Only if you can do it from well outside the fence."
"Hell, I could almost do it from here," she said,
The Satyr made rising and stretching more of a
production than she needed to, and enjoyed the lustful male
attention this brought her. She even appreciated the fact
that Judy was giving her a look of envy. Then she sauntered
off, still performing. As she searched for an appropriate
pebble she noted the figure approach another shaded window,
closer this time to the open one. Realizing that if she took
too long she might miss her chance, she grabbed a pebble
about the size of a marble, stepped into the open, wound up
and threw. Her aim was perfect, and only the fact that she
was conservative in her effort to avoid breaking the window
kept the glass intact. She then quickly ducked back into
The silhouetted figure started, and moved to the open window. He was lit from the right rear, the room's light being in the center of the ceiling and the open window all the way to the end. This, plus the remaining glow of dusk, let them get a fair view of him.
Tall, broad-shouldered, with long, blond hair neatly
coiffed, he appeared middle-aged and quite human. As well as
"Yes!" hissed Leo, thrusting a fist upwards.
"That's High King David," said Theodora in a gasp, as
she quickly rejoined them.
"No," said Judy, sadly. "That's David Ardry."
* * *
Theme for this section: "Along Came Jones" by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
"He must have retrorsed," said Judy, watching in shock as the man frowned and turned away. "Lost his fae seeming."
"We have to rescue him!" said Bill, too loudly.
"Shush!!" said Leo, firmly. "Look, if that is David
Ardry the worst thing we can do is charge in there! My
orders are to confirm that someone who could be the lost
High King is living in that mansion, and report to the
"That's why Seif Raushan is here," breathed Theodora, staring at the structure. "Staying at the Court, I mean."
"Maybe," said Leo, quickly packing the equipment they'd
brought for what could have been a very long night. "Come
on; we need to get back to the Court."
"Nope," said Bill, settling himself with apparent
casualness against the bole of a maple, hands behind his
head. "Not going anywhere until you tell us what's going on.
And even if you could get my keys good luck driving the
Fairlaine. It's a one-man car."
Leo glared at him, but saw that not only was the Pooka
not yielding, the others were supporting him. The young
Sidhe sighed and relented.
"Look... that probably is David Ardry. But Seif and
maybe the Duke and Duchess are the only ones who can confirm
that. If that is the High King - if - then the Duke thinks
he can convince Prince Exsanguine to give him up. That the
vampire probably has only a vague idea of who and what his
prisoner is. That even if he knew, he would turn David over,
rather than cause trouble with us."
"Well..." said Judy, chewing her bottom lip. "If the
Duke thinks he can retrieve the High King peaceably, okay.
But I don't like it."
"Lord Exsanguine knows of Changelings," said the Duke,
when the same concerns were voiced to him in person. "Though
he must be enchanted to see the chimerical aspect of
existence, he is less affected by the Mists than most humans
or even other vampires. Possibly because Malkavians - his
type of vampire - are generally considered mad. He also has
a fascination with puzzles, and considers us in that
context. I doubt he would deliberately harm the High King,
even if he knew who and what he was. And he is knowledgeable
enough about our kind that unintentional harm is equally
They were in the privy council chamber, and most of the
Duke's staff were there, as well as his wife. Only the Duke
and the youngsters were speaking.
"So you're saying he's in no immediate danger," said
Leo, pointedly, turning to give Bill an "I told you so"
"Indeed. I will arrange an appointment with Lord
Exsanguine and have Sir Seif with me. He can confirm if the
High King is in the same house, even if not in the same
room, using Caliburn. Seif has assured me before that the
sword can detect the presence of the High King, even if lost
to banality, from that close."
"And I suppose this vampire prince will just let you
walk in his home carrying a magic sword," said Plucky,
"Yes. The pretense will be to have Sir Seif show
Caliburn to the Prince and ask if he has ever seen anything
like it before. Knowing Lord Exsanguine's passions for
collecting and for solving puzzles that should definitely
appeal to him. If that is the High King, we approach the
matter of his retrieval as the situation guides us."
"Your Grace..." said Theodora, hesitantly. "Forgive me,
but it seems you know a great deal about vampires in general
and this one in particular."
"Lord Exsanguine has been Prince of this city for over
a century," said the Duke. "My family has never had close
ties with him, but in that amount of time we have learned a
great deal about him. Additionally, as I believe some of you
know, Lady Fang has him convinced she is also a vampire, and
helps keep track of his doings, as well as those of other
vampires in the area."
His looked around at them, leaning forward a bit for
emphasis, going eye to eye with each, daring them to claim
his knowledge was inappropriate. Satisfied, he nodded, and
the tension in the room eased slightly.
"Now, there is one more matter I wish to bring up with you this evening," said His Grace, leaning back in his chair. "Something else which counsels caution. Shortly before the disappearance of High King David, one of the greatest Eshu seers living had a vision which foretold the event. He tried to warn the court, but was unable to make contact through any means available to him, including ordinary telephone. Some mystic force was definitely interfering. Part of his vision involved a large, menacing, dark wolf, holding the Moon in its jaws, bounding across the Earth, leaving ruin and Winter in its wake. This vision is something not widely known; one of those who do know it is, of course, Sir Seif. And one of the symbols of the kingship itself on the Earth is the Moon."
"What are you thinking?" asked Leo, of the Duke but
looking worriedly at Bill, who was obviously embarrassed.
"That maybe people have misinterpreted the vision.
Maybe the wolf wasn't kidnaping High King David, causing the
onset of Winter. Maybe the wolf was rescuing him, saving
him from Winter, fleeing ahead of it..."
"You're pretty dark in your wolf form," said Judy,
looking at Bill, not certain she believed any of this.
"That description bears no resemblance to a jaggling of
the Garou Wolf totem which attended my Chrysalis," said
Bill, feeling his fur stand on end. "And I didn't hear this
prophesy shortly after joining Changeling society. It's as
narrowly known as His Grace said."
"Listen, I know this is far from an ideal situation,
but it is the situation we have. I am convinced the man in
Lord Exsanguine's home is not in danger. Additionally, by
dealing peacefully with the Prince we may be able to learn -
assuming this is the lost High King - just what happened to
him. Gaining that knowledge may be as important as
recovering the High King. Do you understand?"
They nodded, some reluctantly.
"Good. We must move cautiously. If nothing else,
because we have no idea how that vision might have applied
or could still apply. Our young Pooka may yet have a role to
play, but what that is we may not know until after the fact.
So for this and other reasons you keep all this information
to yourselves. Only discuss it with myself, my wife, Seif
Raushan, and my highest staff."
"I just don't get this!" Bill raged, once they were
safely outside the Duke's home. "The High King, held
hostage, and we're doing nothing!"
"You're exaggerating," said Theodora. "From what we saw
he's more guest than prisoner."
"But... but... we're immediately charging to the rescue!" said Bill, in his exasperation reverting to his simplest Pooka speech mannerisms.
"Look, I don't like leaving him there, either," said
Leo, emphatically and pointedly, "but the Duke knows more
about this stuff than we do!"
"Yeah," said Bill, muttering. "Like Theo hinted, maybe
"Don't call me Theo," said the Satyr, tiredly.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Strangers in the Night" by Bert Kaempfert
After the youngsters left the Duke made a phone call to
the Prince. He definitely had no fear of awakening Lord
Exsanguine at this time of night. To his surprise, the
vampire saw through his pretense with ease.
"I have actually been considering contacting you on the
matter of my guest," said the vampire. "Especially after
noting that your children had discovered his presence.
Something far less upsetting of my household routine than
their trophy seeking incursions, I must admit. However, I do
not wish to unsettle him by having Changelings here. Perhaps
you can suggest a location acceptable to both of us?"
After some discussion, they agreed on Lady Fang's home,
if she would let them meet there. A quick conference call
was established, and Lady Fang agreed to let her Glen of
Eternal Repose be the scene of the gathering. In fact, she
just happened to have an opening the next evening...
Following the next nightfall a strange assortment of
creatures assembled at the boneyard. Though all three
parties were allowed to have up to ten associates present in
the boneyard, for the discussion itself the Duke and the
Prince - with Lady Fang as mediator - went into the last's
crypt and sealed the door behind them. This left those
outside uneasily eyeing each other.
"Adam, if you would begin," said Lady Fang.
The Duke nodded to her, and turned to Lord Exsanguine.
"A few nights ago a member of my court heard what he
believed to be fae music coming from your mansion. As he
looked towards the source he saw someone. I would like to
know who that man is and his status in your house."
The vampire pursed his lips in thought for a moment,
"Several months back I noticed that minions of an old
antagonist were undertaking a rather bizarre task. They were
holding someone prisoner. That, in itself, would not be so
unusual, but the particulars of the situation were. He was
being held for a long period of time, primarily in an iron
cage. And they were armed with iron clubs. They were
instructed to hold him, but not kill him or cause him
The Prince paused with a slight smile as he let the
significance of this soak into his audience.
"Now, I am old enough to have learned a few things
about Changelings. Among them that iron - specifically, cold
iron - is anathema to them. I admit to having a curiosity
about your kind, but my primary motive for intervening in
this peculiar situation was to spite Dominic G. Fellows, the
vampire I mentioned. So I arranged for this prisoner to be
liberated without any of his guards made the wiser.
"He was brought here for me to investigate. At first he
didn't even recall his own name. After several days of good
treatment - and I emphasize this; let no-one say I am a poor
host - he recalled that he was David. A few days more and he
recalled that his last name was Ardry. Fascinated, I
carefully charted the course of his recovery, noting what
factors encouraged it. He has been supplied with fine food,
good music, elegant art and intelligent conversation. He
currently seems completely recovered, except that he still
recalls nothing of his past. He also seems oddly unmotivated
and unquestioning, though lately that has also shown signs
"You could have learned more by contacting me," the
Duke pointed out diplomatically.
"Ah, but where is the challenge of taking the easy
path?" The Prince smiled, more broadly this time, revealing
large, pointed canines. "Still, I believe I have learned as
much as I can with my current methods, and David is growing
"Then I have a suggestion," said the Duke, his manner
outwardly calm but excitement growing beneath that placid
exterior. "One way to wake a Changeling to his arcane nature
is through exposure to such things as you have provided, but
sometimes that is not enough. I believe you are aware of our
Saturday evening performances at the Art Center. I will
arrange a special presentation, something guaranteed to stir
the soul of any Changeling. You bring David and I promise
that we will do our best to waken his fey soul, and solve
"Excellent!" said the Prince, excitedly rubbing his dry
palms together with a raspy sound. "I have actually attended
three of those events. I look forward to another. Even if
this does not resolve the situation."
"Either way," said the Duke, raising a finger, and
speaking firmly, "I expect him to be turned over to me
afterwards. He is one of ours and I am honor bound to
protect and, if possible, heal him."
"Quite acceptable," said the vampire, actually
appearing happy. "As long as I am informed of how he came to
be in such circumstances, should you learn that."
"Quite acceptable," said the Duke, appearing even
They shook on it, the Duke barely managing to repress
his reaction to the feel of cold, dry flesh pressed against
"He's mad, you know," said Plucky, after the vampire
and his retinue had left and the Duke briefed those in the
know on the results of the meeting. "That vampire, I mean.
Out of his bat. Gourds in his belfry."
"You're just going to leave the High King with that...
vampire!?" declared Seif, outraged.
"That's what I said," mumbled Bill.
"If Exsanguine is to be believed - and from long
experience, including that of several of my predecessors, I
feel he is - in this matter then David is currently in no
danger. The Prince knows better than to feed on a
Changeling, and wishes to remain on good terms with us, and
David is protected there. Who would even think to look for
the High King in a vampire's home?"
"A pack of Pookas," was Theodora's sour observation.
"While I am not in complete agreement with His Grace in
regard to this plan, I confess to being unable to develop
one with any greater chance of success," said Lady Fang.
"Lord Exsanguine is treating David as a guest, rather than a
prisoner, and is well situated to protect him and keep his
presence unknown to any but those who already know of it."
"If I simply present him with Caliburn..." Seif began.
"That could waken him. But the Dream Dance is almost
always traumatic, and such a sudden shock would amplify
that. No, I think a more gradual, controlled attempt would
be far better. Oh, don't worry; you will be present, with
Caliburn. If necessary, you may present it to David as the
climax of our efforts."
"As you say, Your Grace," said Seif, though he was
obviously not happy.
"Yes," said the Duke, firmly. "As long as you are in my
domain you will do as I say, unless I am overruled by Queen
Maab, the High Queen or the High Queen Dowager herself! And
that brings us to another, and very good, reason for
delaying this to Saturday. I plan to inform all three of
those ladies just mentioned, as well as Morewen, of the
situation and invite them to also attend."
"That... would definitely help," said Seif, nodding.
"His wife, his chosen heir and his sister. Yes. If anyone
can awaken him, it would be the first of those, especially
with the aid - if necessary - of the second and third. And
having Queen Maab here will strengthen both the legitimacy
and the security of the event."
"Which are my thoughts on the matter. Do not doubt me,
Sir Seif; I wish to see the High King return and settle this
nation's unease. And I intend to do everything I can to make
certain this is done in the best way possible."
"You're looking pensive," said Theodora, leaning over
to Bill, as the meeting broke.
"Just... what the Duke said about the Dream Dance, and
why it's necessary to waken King David as gently as
possible," said the wolf Pooka. "They are almost never easy
or pleasant. I barely survived mine. Mark almost lost his.
But, then, Leo's was almost casual, from what he and Judy
"So you think the Duke might just be right, after all?"
"Oh, sure. Leaving the Son of the Griffin with a
demented vampire is clearly the best choice."
Wolf Penned In
Theme for this section: "Got My Mind Set on You" by George Harrison
Bill was enjoying his Omelet W/ham when he saw Plucky
and Judy enter the little diner he where he was having a
late Saturday morning breakfast.
"And so it begins..." said Plucky, ominously, as he
slid into the booth opposite Bill.
"What?" said Bill, looking up from his meal.
"Oh, nothing important happened late yesterday, right
after you left," said the duck Pooka. "No important
"He means the High Queen Dowager arrived with a small entourage just after dusk," said Judy.
"Ah," said Bill.
"Supposedly, the continuing disagreement and distrust
between the engaged parties is such that all will be here
"Wow," said Bill.
"Yeah, that surprised me, too," said Judy. "It seems
Faerilyth, the High King's sister and his protégée have done
some serious reconciling the past few months. The other two
are trusting her to quietly bring the High King back to
himself while they stay home and keep things running to
"Might work," said Bill, warily.
"If it doesn't, we better be ready for a world of
trouble," said Judy, sourly. "Anyway, the Duke - our Duke
- wants us to be at his place by three, to help with
"If there's one thing I hate," said Bill, solemnly,
"it's in security."
The waitress arrived, took the newcomers' orders, and
"Eat up," said Bill, with a sigh, as he pushed his
empty plate away and reached for the last swallow of his
juice. "Looks like we're going to have a busy day."
"Not more for you," said Plucky. "You're driving."
They were silent for a few moments as each thought
"The High Queen...," said Judy, suddenly. She caught
herself. "Uh, Dowager, I mean... she's really torn up. But
she's also determined. I mean really determined."
"Yeah," said Bill, slowly. "If something like that
happened to Debbie, I'm sure I would be calm and collected."
Another long silence. Bill, absent anything else to do
and not quite full, began nibbling on crackers. He looked up
as Judy sighed.
"After - What is it, three years? - of hints and hopes
and disappointment, to finally learn he's not only alive but
may be returned to her..." Judy stopped and shook her head.
Her pale, red-accented face was fixed in an emotionless
state, but there was deep sadness in her voice. "I can't
imagine what she's feeling right now, but given the
dedication she's shown to him I just hope she doesn't have
"Love is useless for this sort of thing," said Bill,
quietly. "No motivation, no reward."
"Awww, that's so sweet," said the Knocker, with the
only honest, gentle smile they could remember from her.
"Eeewww, too much romance around here," said Plucky,
leaning back so the waitress could serve them. "Things are
plumb sticky with it."
The woman gave him an odd look, scowled and left.
* * *
Theme for this section: "politics of dancing" by Re-Flex
Bill, as was the norm for the group he hung with since
coming to Columbus, provided transportation for the usual
suspects. They were also supposed to retrieve Mark Gambolle,
since he was using his expertise in music to help with the
program that night. However, when Theodora entered the
Fairlaine she seemed oddly subdued. Once they were parked at
the rear of the Gambolle property, to spirit Mark away
hopefully unnoticed, she asked them to wait a moment.
"I... have a confession to make," said Theodora,
shifting uneasily, the goat hairs on her legs rustling oddly
against the front of the rear seat. "Duke Loethenlau was
sent here by Queen Maab to check on Duke Wotchermacalt. And
the other two Wilders and me from his court were part of
that. I... did tell him about the High King. But only after
I knew Duke Wotchermacalt was going to. I feel guilty
"It's all right," said Leo, calmly. "Checking on those
who wield authority in your name is expected. I'm certain
His Grace would not consider this a violation of a
confidence. Besides, he did inform Queen Maab and Duke
"You think we didn't know there was something odd about
you being here?" said Judy, grinning and giving her a hug.
"We didn't know for sure what it was, but this doesn't
surprise me. Like my brother said, Changelings have to live
with this sort of pretense."
"News to me," said Plucky, nodding sagely.
"For once, he tells the truth," said Bill, smirking.
"Now, let's go kidnap our recalcitrant Satyr musician."
"Thank you," said Theodora, looking much less worried.
"This means a lot to me, guys. I hate this sort of stuff,
but when your liege asks..."
"We know, we know..." said Plucky, rolling his eyes.
* * *
Theme for this section: "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" by the Bee Gees
Her Grace, the Duchess, was making a point of tending
to the High Queen Dowager's needs. Not so much the physical
ones - her staff and Faerilyth's were far more qualified to
see to those - as her emotional ones. Just now, she was
giving the younger woman a sisterly hug.
"It hurts me so much to see him like this," said
Faerilyth, the ache in her voice causing the Dutchess' own
throat to constrict painfully. "I don't know if taking me to
see him at a distance, through a window, last night was a
blessing or a curse."
"I know," said the Dutchess, speaking barely above a
whisper. "I can imagine how I would feel were my own husband
in such a situation. But the Duke, my husband, does know
what he is doing. The pain you feel now, waiting, is far
less than what you would feel if we rushed things and he
were lost to us. The plan to restore the High King moves
apace; you must be patient."
Faerilyth took Ilsthene's hand and squeezed it in both
"I thank you. Even if we fail to recover his fae self,
you have shown me that he still lives. Given me hope and
some measure of both joy and peace, after these long years."
There were no more words for some time after that.
Meanwhile, however, the usual suspects were heading for
the Court of Glass with a very sad passenger.
"It's just... we did all these fun things together, and
she doesn't remember any of them," said Mark, sobbing. "She
barely remembers me!"
"That is the core tragedy inherent in a Changeling's
life," said Leo, softly. "The Mists blur all memory, even
that of we Changelings. At once, it protects us and hurts
"So just enchant her again, if she means that much to
you," said Judy, less sympathetically.
"I didn't enchant her the first time," said Mark.
"Well, that explains it," said Bill, most of his
attention on weaving through traffic.
"I seriously doubt that could have made things any
worse," said Theodora, giving Mark a Satyr-to-Satyr hug.
"Though suddenly seeing that duck for what he really is..."
"Well, enchanting her will bring back at least some of
the memories obscured by the Mists," said Leo, trying to
keep the group mood in tune with Mark's sadness. "I'll help
you practice, later."
"Better make that ‘tomorrow,'" said Judy. "We are all going to be busy tonight."
* * *
Theme for this section: Randy Newman's fanfare theme from The Natural
"Get in your positions!" hissed His Grace, actually
pushing Bill along.
The situation started tense and grew more so with each passing moment, in large part because those participating in
the operation must needs act as if they
The Arts Center auditorium was packed. Not only were
there more people in attendance than usual, there were more
types of people. And even some things which might not be
considered people by all. More, the average importance of
the people attending was also higher than usual. While Queen
Maab had decided - like Morewen and Lenore - to not attend
to avoid drawing too much attention, Duke Loethenlau was
definitely there. As was the vampire Prince of the city,
Lord Exsanguine, along with two of his retinue, as well as
David Ardry, himself.
At the Duke's request, Lord Exsanguine delayed his
arrival until shortly before the program began. This reduced
the chance of someone who wasn't already in the know
recognizing David, and also the chance that they might do
something about such a recognition. Given everything else
which was happening, having three vampires present turned out to be only a minor concern. Lady Fang
was also present, sitting in the row behind Exsanguine. The
Duke had specifically asked her to keep an eye on the
vampires. The Prince thought she was there to help protect
him. Only she knew her true purpose.
Faerilyth's arrival at the Court was still known only
to the Duke's staff and a few others. She was currently in a
private dressing room, with the Duchess, valiantly fighting
the urge to simply run out and throw herself at David.
Adding to the strain was the rising level of Glamour
flooding the hall. It was normal for this to be produced by
such activities, but tonight the level started abnormally
high and rose with each act, sometimes sharply. Participants
- whether kithain or kinain or merely enchanted humans -
were doing their best for the cause, and the results of
their efforts fed the work of those coming after. Even those
not in on the scheme, even those not Changeling, even those
technically not even alive, could feel that something was
happening, something which promised a truly mythic climax.
Spontaneous magic was becoming a real concern, and what
effect that might have on the lost King David was unknown.
However, most likely due to the reaction to this rise
of Glamour on the part of some members of the crowd and
those outside the actual hall, on the fringes of the effect,
Banality was also fighting back. Like a living thing,
sensing a threat and preparing to act against same, the
Changelings (and some of the others) could feel reality
stirring, gathering itself, preparing to restore mundanity,
no matter the cost. Though the effect was not serious inside
the auditorium yet, Bill could sense it, like a thick,
choking cloud, hovering outside.
Then, oddly, though the next act wasn't scheduled to
start for a few minutes, yet, the curtain started up.
"What the Hell..." said Bill, stopping dead in his
tracks to look towards the stage, as some bit of oddness -
and even for a Changeling event, this was odd - caught his
The curtain rose, but what he saw was not what was
supposed to be there. On the stage was a rock show, complete
with lights, instruments, sound gear and a chimerical band.
At least, Bill hoped they were chimeras... They looked
disturbingly like Muppets. Real ones. As he stared, a
strange figure jumped out onto the stage from the wings,
strode to the mike stand, and seized the mike. The same
stranger many of them had seen a few days before, fleeing
from Hellhounds. He was now dressed like Captain Marvel, Junior. He smiled and turned to the bestial
"Hit it!" the stranger shouted, with a dramatic
Music - raucous, guitar-heavy rock - began playing, and
the stranger grinned even more broadly. He began dancing,
not as if trying to perform but as if he couldn't help
himself, gangly limbs jerking with an odd sort of grace. The Banality in the area drained away as if someone had
pulled a stopper.
"So you're a little bit older and a lot less bolder than you used to be.
So you used to shake 'em down but now you stop and think about your dignity.
So now sweet sixteen instead of thirty-one.
You get to feelin' weary when the workday is done.
Well, all you got to do is get up, give me your kicks!
Come back baby, rock and roll never forgets!"
All other activity in the auditorium came to a complete
stop, as people of various types froze in fascinated wonder
and confusion. The stranger finished his set and, covered in
perspiration and breathless, bowed to a near standing
ovation. The curtain dropped... and rose again almost
immediately, with the next act on the program in place, the
participants seemingly oblivious to what had just happened.
Back stage, His Grace was carefully watching the
effect this unscheduled performance was having, on the High
King especially, but on everyone. And for the first time in
hours, he smiled.
"Please consider this compensation for endangering
bystanders when I unwittingly brought those monsters into
your Freehold," said a murmured voice from behind him.
"Really, there's no need to pretend this was some sort
of penance," said the Duke, quietly, not even turning to
look. He knew there would be no-one there. "You had more fun
than we did..."
He kept the acts coming, with the High Queen in reserve
for the finale; or sooner, if he felt the moment right. He
could see David struggling, in a dazed sort of way, looking
as if he were desperately trying to remember something.
Finally, His Grace decided that the time was right;
anything more would either trigger the High King's Dream
Dance uncontrollably or send him screaming. He gave
Faerilyth her cue. As the curtain rose she was revealed on
the stage, in a beautiful gown which had been one of her
husband's favorites. She smiled at the crowd, but avoided
looking at the lost High King. Then the music began, and she
sang. The piece had been written for the wedding ball of the
High King and High Queen, but to this had been added lyrics
crafted by the most skilled poet in the Kingdom of Glass,
especially for this event.
The High Queen sang of love lost, and love mourned...
and love found again. Color in the room became more vivid,
and things seemed to flit around those inside it, on the
edge of vision. Strange chimeras swarmed the entire volume
of the hall, a group of them forming rank behind Faerilyth
to sing backup, though none dared move to block anyone's
view of Faerilyth. Glamour swelled, surging, holding for a
moment, and surging again. Even those long used to it felt
dizzy, disoriented. In the back of the room, David Ardry
rose to his feet, and staggered, looking entranced, towards
The last verse of the song was an invitation for her
lost love to return to her, and Faerilyth held the final
note, letting it fade to silence, as she lifted her arms out
to David. The High King cried out, clutching his head. Chaos
filled the room as the Dream Dance threatened reality
itself. Then it stopped.
"I remember," said David, in a hoarse whisper barely
audible in the silence. He lowered his hands. Those close
enough could see that his ears once again had the delicate
points which marked his Sidhe self, and that golden tears
streamed down his face. "I remember!"
He leapt onto the stage and embraced his wife, both of
them weeping joyously. And the Duke frantically motioned for
the curtain to be lowered.
The massive upwelling of Glamour left everyone dazed,
even the vampire Prince and his henchmen. Some recovered
more quickly than others, fortunately. Acting under previous
orders, the Duke's security personnel escorted the Prince
and his assistants out of the hall, with promises of
explanations later. The shock of the High King's return had
left the Prince so dazed he didn't even protest. Backstage,
The High King and High Queen Dowager were still embraced,
and no-one dared to interrupt them. Finally, though, they
began to again notice the world around them. And a certain
person, in particular, who approached and knelt, holding out
a sheathed sword laid across his forearms.
"Your Majesty," said Seif, presenting Caliburn on a
velvet cloth. He was grinning like a child on Christmas
That sword was probably the only thing which could have
separated David from his wife just then. Solemnly, he
stepped forward took the sword and unsheathed it, and lifted
the great blade into the air. And Caliburn sang. It sang
with Glamour, announcing that it was once again back in the
hand it had chosen. And it sang with Order, announcing that
once more the world had a chance for healing.
Wolf Penned In
Theme for this section: "We Have Heaven" by Yes
There were several revels in the area that night, the largest at the Court of Glass. After making a brief, formal appearance, the restored High King and his wife quietly left for parts known only to a few. Most likely, they were either in the Master Bedroom of the mansion, or the equivalent in the castle version in the Near Dreaming. And no-one at the celebration begrudged them this privacy even one little bit.
What they did begrudge was the outsiders - uninvited ones - who started arriving. Looking for High King David. Word had spread quickly about his return, and rumors of his possible return had gained even wider reign. The Court of Glass would later learn that stories of the event had spread around the world at ridiculous speed, though details were often lacking or just plain wrong. Still, enough had the location right that the Court was soon besieged by the important, the self-important and the merely curious.
Duke Wotchermacalt told his security staff to allow
anyone not actively looking to cause trouble to enter the
Freehold, which was a good policy overall. Letting them in,
to look around on their own and see what was happening for
themselves did a lot to reduce any resentment from not being
able to have an immediate audience with David. The seekers
of audiences also mostly got caught up in the celebration,
deciding their business could wait for another time. Glamour
such as that to be found at the revel was heady stuff, and
many non-Scathatch Sidhe found themselves getting far more
casual with commoners than they were accustomed to, and even
liking the experience. Though some would regret this, come
However, a few of the petitioners were insistent, and
ignored the revel to persist in seeking an audience. They
were told, firmly, that the Duke would not violate the
privacy of David and Faerilyth for anything less than
Doomsday, and that even then he'd have to hear it from
Morewen or Lenore themselves. This created some bad blood,
which was exacerbated by the jeers such rude people received
from the partiers - commoner and noble alike - upon being
The party finally dribbled into silence, the last die-hards staggering home as dawn began painting the sky that
Sunday morning. But with the dawn came another set of Sidhe
demanding to see the High King. And soon after another. And
another. With the party over, these were left waiting
outside the gates, on the fringe of the Freehold and in the
mortal domain. Something which only added to their
discontent. Fortunately, the magics which had kept the non-enchanted from seeing or hearing most of what happened the
night before were still in force. The police received only a
few minor complaints about a block party, and couldn't
actually find the mansion that night. Responding officers
the next morning found several groups of businessmen in
expensive vehicles, accompanied by assistants and private
security personnel, all quietly waiting on private property.
On being told vague stories about a large private auction
(and having generous amounts of Chicanery surreptitiously
applied to them) the officers nodded and left.
"Damn leeches could give Lord Exsanguine lessons,"
muttered Korgig, staring out through the closed gates. "It's
starting to look like an armed camp out there. Or maybe a
Republican presidential nomination convention. Things are
getting ugly, with a capital 'ugh.'"
Indeed, the petitioners had started out firmly
insisting and grown more strident with time. Some were
actually accusing Duke Wotchermacalt of holding the High
King captive, and threatening to bring in troops to free
him. The only thing which had kept the peace so far was that
so many interests were represented no one group could take
action without several coalitions immediately forming
The situation had not escaped the Duke... or his wife.
"There are major shifts in alliances being made roughly
every ten minutes out there," said His Grace, as he peered
through the curtains at the mass besieging his gates. "Not
only are representatives of more factions arriving every
hour or so, but those already here are acquiring
reinforcements. Even if fighting breaks out and eliminates
or drives off most of them, the victors would pose a serious
threat if they decided to force their way in."
"Dear, I definitely think we need to take our primary
guests somewhere less public," said the Duchess, as she put
the remains of their breakfast on the serving tray. "And
soon. Even if it means interrupting their privacy."
"I've already been asking around," said the Duke,
sighing and letting the narrow gap in the curtains close as
he turned back to her. "Queen Maab says she doesn't want
them there yet; she hasn't had time to prepare. She will
send some of her guards to help us, but even by trod they
won't arrive for another couple of hours. There's simply no
direct route. Morewen and Lenore gave a number of reasons
for not bringing them there, most of which I find
acceptable. They are also sending guards, but with the same
problem. Even if the reinforcements for our side aren't
hindered, I suspect we need to do something before even the
earliest they can arrive. Such as take David and Faerilyth
to some place more secure. But where...?"
"Please tell me you aren't even considering sending
them to that vampire's place," said Ilsthene, smiling but
with a strand of iron in her tone.
"I hadn't even thought of that until you mentioned it,"
said the Duke, with a slight smile. "Don't worry. He's not
currently on the list. But 'where' is only part of the
problem. 'How' could be just as significant. We can't risk
either another kidnaping, an attack, or the well-intentioned
but poor of judgement effort to see the High King."
He went thoughtfully silent for nearly a minute.
"I do believe I have an idea."
* * *
Theme for this section: "Roundabout" by Yes
"I need the services of you and your rather large
automobile," said His Grace.
Bill was feeling a bit overwhelmed. He was standing in
the Court's private audience chamber with the Duke, the High
King and High Queen Dowager, and Sir Seif. Bill glanced over
at latter, noting that the Eshu seemed as uncomfortable as
the wolf Pooka. He might also have been hung over. Having
fulfilled his task, Seif had considered himself done, and
spent the evening partying with the rest. However, his name
was the fourth most often spoken outside the gates this
Sunday morning, and he now found himself reluctantly back in
the thick of things.
"Ah, Your Grace, your Majesties, my vehicle is entirely
appropriate to royalty but quite slow and clumsy," Bill
offered. "Seeing Sir Seif ride out with me would lead no-one
to suspect we were up to something. The only advantage is
that I drove back to my dorm last night instead of staying
at the school."
"Do you think you could quickly and safely transport
the High King and Queen to safety?" the Duke asked.
"There would be no need for deception," Bill bragged.
"Though once through the gate and away from the immediate
area anything on the road could catch us."
"If I may, your Grace," said David. "Ready your own
finest vehicle, as if preparing to go somewhere in it. Then,
those outside will see us enter... but with a glamour at
work to make things seem not quite real. Meanwhile, our
young Pooka will be preparing to leave in his own vehicle,
with passengers not clearly seen."
"Yes, that would work," said the Duke, rubbing his chin
as he thought things through. "I am ashamed that such
subterfuge is necessary, and that even my own Rolls is
The High Queen lifted her hand and he fell silent.
"This is not a matter for pomp and finery," she stated,
firmly. "What matters here is not what resources you have
for providing elegance, but those you have for safely
getting my husband and myself to this place you mentioned."
"Yes," sighed the Duke. "And, at the risk of bragging,
that is a service I believe I can definitely provide."
The Duke's old Rolls was cleaned and polished to within
an inch of its stately life, and its chimerical glory
reinforced to such a degree it literally glowed to the sight
of the properly perceptive. Meanwhile, Bill's Fairlaine was
made to look less impressive even than usual, with multiple
concealment and "mind your own business" cantrips cast upon
it. Bill drove around to the side door of the mansion, where
he tooted his horn. At the same time, the Rolls arrived at
the front entrance. To those watching, inside the Freehold
as well as out, the High King and Queen were escorted with
proper posh and frippery to the car by the Duke, while
around to the side Seif hurried out to Bill's car
accompanied by a pair of bundled, spell-blurred figures. And
if the Eshu and Pooka seemed uncharacteristically worried
and hurried, well, who would notice while the High King and
Queen and Duke Wotchermacalt entered the Rolls and were
slowly driven down the drive and out the gate?
The Fairlaine roared to life and followed in an
unhurried manner. Which, for it, meant rapidly accelerating
to 30 mph in the driveway, slowing abruptly and briefly at
the gate while Bill checked for oncoming traffic, then
roaring away in the opposite direction. Bill had wanted to
drive past the Rolls in a show of bravado, but had been
overruled by the Duke. Instead, he turned to follow a
"No sign we've been noticed, except for the Zeppelin
chasing us," said Bill, cheerfully.
"It seems that nearly all the less desirable
petitioners have someone following us," Seif stated. "Not as
complete a success as we hoped, but still enough to
considerably reduce the risk."
"A bit of a show of trying to escape them could
increase the attention being paid to us," said Leo, one of
the two bundled figures.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please return your trays to
their upright and locked positions," said Bill, grinning.
"We're expecting turbulence. Not to mention speeding
"Oh, God," groaned Judy, the other bundled figure.
Bill had been in town long enough to have a good idea
of when and where he could drive outside the legal limits
with little expectation of being caught. Not that he did
such things normally, mind you; he just liked being
prepared. At the next light, the Fairlaine signaled a right
turn, but was traveling at a speed apparently too high to
make it. Bill waited until the last moment, then whipped the
car hard right, shoving the accelerator pedal down to help
kick the car around the corner. The car came out of the
tight turn fishtailing, tires screaming. Bill let up,
briefly, to let the rear tires catch, then stomped the pedal
again, quickly let up to shift, then stomped it again. By
the time their pursuers came around the corner the muscle
car had gained three blocks.
Bill made an abrupt - and unsignaled - left turn while
those in the other car were still trying to catch up. A few
more maneuvers like that, and they were on a narrow country
road with trees growing high and wide on both sides, meeting
in a concealing canopy overhead.
"Okay, I think we gave them perfect directions," said
He glanced in the back, and grinned at the illusion of
the High King and Queen, which was only now beginning to
fade to reveal, instead, a brother and sister.
"A double fake-out," he said, sighing. "Such a simple,
straightforward plan. Worthy of a Pooka."
* * *
Theme for this section: "Try It" by The Hollies
They arrived at the boneyard not long after the Rolls.
There were already several other vehicles parked outside,
most of them belonging to petitioners. The residents were
having a hard time keeping them from blocking the entrance,
and as the Fairlaine approached had an even harder time
keeping them from swarming that car. By dint of cleverness,
mundane skill, Chicanery and a bit of luck, Bill's car got
through the barricade without anyone entering who wasn't
supposed to. He quickly parked beside the Rolls, though was
careful to give it a good berth. The occupants of the
institution were already escorting the guests of honor to a
chimerical hall hastily erected for their use, while the
Duke lagged behind to discuss something with the Dark Man.
Bill whistled as he walked towards the structure, definitely
impressed. He wasn't the only one.
"How did the master of this Freehold manage such a
construction in such a short time?" said Sir Seif.
"I've learned not to underestimate Lady Fang's
abilities," said Leo, though he was just as mystified.
Back at the entrance the latest arrivals of audience
seekers were told the same thing as the first.
"Your petitions will be heard," said the Dark Man. "A
conference will be held when the High King determines the
time is correct to do so! He requests that he be allowed to
catch up on all he has missed during his absence. In the
meantime, the privacy of the High King and High Queen
Dowager will be respected!"
Given that Rowlf and several members of the Stone Gang
were standing menacingly behind him, there was little
Bill, Leo, Judy and Seif moved towards the Duke, joined
shortly by the rest of the usual suspects. They chatted
quietly while the Duke finished some urgent but not really
important business. He then turned towards them.
"You youngsters - except you, Sir Seif; the High Queen
requests your presence - are finished for now," said the
Duke. "I thank you, and the High King thanks you. But stay
* * *
Theme for this section: "Heroes" by David Bowie
"I," said David, "am very tired of others taking risks
to protect me."
"As am I," said Faerilyth. "The King and Queen are
supposed to defend the realm and its occupants. Not be
dependant on them for protection."
"The pact works both ways, your Majesties," said Lady
Fang, firmly. She smiled, revealing the canines which
inspired her name. "If we were unable to protect you, we
would soon be without your protection. So, please, allow
us this application of enlightened self interest. And depend
upon the Fang of House Scathatch to ensure your safety."
High King David looked startled.
"I beg your pardon, Lady Fang," he said, recovering
quickly and bowing, much to the confusion of his wife. "I
had thought that title only a legend. Please, carry on with
your duties, and be assured that we are now much more
assured of our safety."
Faerilyth said nothing, but obviously wished to know
more. David spoke quietly to her as they followed their
escort to the pavilion. The High Queen Dowager's eyes
widened several times during the short trip, and only part
of that was due to their new quarters.
The structure was far larger and more well appointed
than the Duke's mansion, but was entirely chimerical. If
some person of sufficient banality approached... Well, that
was unlikely, to say the least, but just for the sake of
safety the sprawling structure had only one floor, at ground
level. The view was exquisite.
* * *
Theme for this section: "La Mer" by De Bussey
The rest of the morning passed mostly uneventfully.
There were minor problems at the Duke's Manor and the
boneyard, and even some of the local commoner haunts.
Fortunately, quick and appropriate responses saw that the
problems stayed minor.
Bill and the usual suspects were pretty much left free
to relax and enjoy the spectacle. Which suited most of them
just fine. Leo, however, had an over-developed sense of
duty... at least, as far as the others were concerned.
Shortly after lunch he began to become antsy.
"Brother, dear," said Judy, sighing in aggravation,
"leave it to the experts!"
"Surely there's something I can do! That we can do!"
"Let's rest and save our strength," said Plucky, who
was actually dancing with one of the more personable
chimerical residents of the boneyard, who looked
surprisingly like an early version of Daisy. "No telling
when we might be called on to take action."
Bill, in wolf form for the first time in a long time,
was curled up in a patch of sun, eyes closed, looking quite
blissful. He snorted mildly at the duck Pooka's advice. Then
lifted his head and pricked up his ears. He growled a bit
and stood, tail up, looking towards the gate.
"What now?" said Judy.
Like Bill, most of them had been lounging on one way or
another. Like him they now stood, and looked towards the
gate. Even Plucky stopped dancing and moved to join them.
"I do believe that's King Meilge," said Leo. "Small
surprise he'd be here. If nothing else, to check on
They moved closer. And saw Maisy hurrying away, towards
the chimerical pavilion. The King was speaking in a low but
very tight voice, obviously angry.
"You know who I am!" he all but hissed. "You know my
authority! Let. Me. In."
"No, Your Highness," said the Dark Man, who couldn't
help but reply quietly, being a Sluagh. "These orders come
from my Lady, and were confirmed by the High Queen Dowager
to me personally."
Every mobile inhabitant of the boneyard not assigned a
security post was moving towards the entrance, even Lost
Illyan. So were some of the invited guests. The expressions
on the faces of the King's entourage at the sight of so many
strange and possibly powerful creatures arraying themselves
behind the Dark Man were almost amusing. Bill and his group,
without a word, joined those at the gate, the wolf Pooka
actually making a point of moving beside Rowlf. The big
faerie hound looked askance at the large wolf, sighed, and
returned his gaze to the King.
King Meilge was starting to actually consider ordering
an assault. Besides his own forces, there were several here,
outside the gate, who were under his rule or otherwise would
support him. However, while he considered, Lady Fang
"Lady Fang," said Meilge, tautly. "I will see the
High King now. I must ascertain his state, and arrange for
his protection. Let me in or I will be forced to make the
issue a violent one."
Behind him came a general stirring. Some were preparing
to act on his threat, but others were simply trying to get a
better view of the confrontation.
"No, you will not," said Lady Fang. "I have no interest
in your ephemeral politics, but I do have loyalty to my
House, and affection for many of those you are attempting to
harm. As well as good reason to protect those who have
proven to be friends to those I sympathize with. You will
remain outside until David is ready to hear you."
Meilge snorted and started forward, actually reaching
for his sword. Lady Fang held up a hand, and he rebounded
from something unseen. His eldritch blade clattered to the
"I have lost much since the Shattering, but my loss is
not a shade of yours," she stated, flatly. "You say you came
here to protect the High King and his chosen wife. Be
assured that while here, they are very well protected."
"She's one of the Ancients!" exclaimed a member of
Meilge's escort, reaching to steady his King.
"That is a human body," another pointed out.
"My nature is none of your concern," Lady Fang. "You
will leave here. Now."
King Meilge gestured, and several other sidhe moved up
beside him. Together they began working a bunk, something
arcane and powerful. The King took point, and as the spell
reached its climax he directed it at Lady Fang. She simply stood, and waited. At the climax of the spell the powerful magic
rebounded, literally throwing all those involved to the
ground. Most soon rallied to their feet, but Meilge was
unconscious. Lady Fang said and did nothing more, but stared until the
intruders gathered their liege and left.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Walk Don't Run" by The Ventures
After such a demonstration Bill didn't see any reason
he and the usual suspects needed to stick around. He also
didn't want to be involved in or even witness all the
discussion Lady Fang's actions would cause. Bill had a very
wolf attitude towards fights; "we won, it's over, let's
eat." On the other hand, he didn't want to leave. If nothing
else, Lady Fang was certain to set a good table for supper.
However, it was Sunday, he was a wolf in a semi-isolated
area, and he definitely needed a break. Without consulting
his companions - which would have required him to change
back so he could speak as humans do - he quietly sneaked
away. Soon, he was loping through an empty part of the
boneyard, basically an overgrown wilderness inside the
boundaries of the freehold. He was surprised how large it
was, especially since what he found was apparently the size
in the mundane world, as well. There were two other accesses
into the land, both with three guards currently on watch.
Both also had Changelings on the outside, keeping just as
studious a watch inwards. No way out through those, then. He
also discovered that he could not cross the boundary of the
Freehold. So, his romp - and maybe some hunting - would be
confined to the Freehold, itself.
Bill hunted a few squirrels, mainly for the fun of it,
not harming them. A few chimeras watched his antics, but
most of those were back at the main event. Finally, yawning,
Bill settled beside a long-fallen, moss- and vine-covered
tree for a nap.
He awoke much later than he had intended; night was
well established. Still, he could see a dim glow from the
direction of the pavilion, and even hear occasional traces
of music and laughter. He stood, shook himself, yawned,
stretched, and set off at an easy lope.
Bill soon came across one of the narrow internal roads
going in roughly the right direction and moved his travel
onto that. He noticed recent signs of vehicle travel, but
figured that had simply been for taking people to and from
the watch on the other gates. Until he saw the limousine
stopped ahead, lights off. He slowed and approached
cautiously. Many of the scents were definitely non-Changeling. He thought he might even be smelling a vampire,
but since he'd never scented one in wolf form wasn't
certain. He stopped when he heard voices.
"I thank you for this audience," said someone who was
definitely Lord Exsanguine. "I know this is not my realm,
and appreciate the courtesy."
"Please be quick, My Lord," said Lady Fang. "I have
important guests to see to."
"Yes, yes, and that is exactly what concerns me. I
still have received no explanation of just who my recent
"The King of the Elves," said Lady Fang.
Bill's hackles rose, and he barely suppressed a growl.
Why would she tell him that?! Carefully, worried their host
was betraying them but also not wanting to be heard, he
moved off the road and towards the pair. He couldn't hear
them as clearly, now, but could tell they were not in
agreement about something. Bill took note of the those by
the car, two humans with strange taints to their scents, and
another vampire. Given the increasing animosity of tone, and
the way the three with the Prince were obviously preparing
for action, he now worried that Lady Fang was in trouble for
not betraying her guests. Finally, he could see them. They
were literally in fighting stances, not quite to blows yet,
"As you said, this is not your realm!" said Lady Fang,
literally snarling. "Your agreement was with the Duke; when
he is finished here, he will tell you all you are allowed to
"That is not good enough!" said Lord Exsanguine, fangs
definitely showing. "I expected better from you! We have
been allies - even friends - for over a century! Now you
treat me this way! Beware, Lady Fang! I am not without my
means, and some of those would leave this place a blasted
And, quick as that, Lady Fang was at his throat. Her
fingers were daggers, her teeth stilettos, mouth opened
obscenely wide. She stopped, frighteningly elongated
fingernails barely penetrating his undead flesh, fangs
hovering over his jugular. For a frozen moment the tableau
held. Then Lady Fang relaxed and stepped back.
Without a word, the Prince bowed, then turned and
Bill blinked in confusion as the vampire quickly
returned to his car, which backed carefully to a turn-around
and drove off. Lord Exsanguine's servants had actually
started forward as he approached, but he had waved them
back, face expressionless. Bill pulled a bit further back
into the underbrush, trying to sort out what the scents and
sounds were telling him. The vampire Prince had definitely
been enraged, ready to resort to violence, his anger
approaching that of a Garou in full cry. And then... Lady
Fang had moved so quickly Bill hadn't even seen it. Lord
Exsanguine had definitely reconsidered his situation after
that demonstration, and chosen wisely.
Deciding that Lady Fang did, indeed, have the best
interested of the High King in her heart, Bill turned and
began slinking away.
"Stop," said Lady Fang, still looking down the road.
Bill hesitated; there was no way she could know he was
there but who else could she be speaking to?
"Come here, Pooka."
Well, that settled that.
Sighing, Bill slunk out of the woods, ears and tail
low. Lady Fang examined him for a moment, her expression
unreadable and even her scent revealing nothing in detail.
She turned and walked away, moving quickly. Bill
hurried to keep up.
She led him back towards her crypt, stopping in a
concreted area with a grating in the center, part of a
drainage system keeping water out of the vaults, tombs and
graves, just a bit to the east of her home. Lady Fang stared
at Bill until he reluctantly joined her. And, then, they
were abruptly somewhere else. It felt like the Near
Dreaming, but there was no resemblance to the boneyard.
Instead, they stood in a moonlit meadow, surrounded by old-growth forest. There was no sign of anything constructed,
human or fae. Even thinking of such despoilment while
looking at this place of literally supernatural beauty made
Bill wince. He'd seen places like this twice before, on
trips into the deep Umbra with Debbie. And, as had happened
those two times before, the feral part of his nature sang
with joy inside him.
"This is a Glade!" Bill blurted.
It occurred to him that he shouldn't be able to do
that. Looking at himself, he saw he was now back in human
form, though still on all fours. He was also naked. Oh,
well; he wasn't all that shy. Bill stood, and looked
expectantly at Lady Fang.
"You will say nothing of my meeting with Lord
"No, Ma'am!" said Bill, eagerly.
Bill grimaced. And swallowed nervously.
"I will say nothing of that event, unless not doing so
would endanger my friends or family, or violate an oath I
She considered that. And nodded.
"It is very important that the Prince continue to think
that I am, like him, a vampire," said Lady Fang. "Do you
"Not a bit. Your scent is obviously identical."
She sighed in exasperation.
"Vampires do have senses keener than those of humans,
which is why they also often disguise their scent. Don't
worry about my deception."
"Now, you will also keep quiet about this Glade. Most
of those who live with me already know, and I will be the
one to decide if it is the business of anyone else.
"Now, let us return to the boneyard. There is much to
Wolf Penned In
Theme for this section: "Lullaby" by George Gershwin
Bill was again startled to find himself in wolf form
when Lady Fang returned them to the boneyard. While he was
still trying to work out the how and why of that Lady Fang
left without his noticing. Bill sighed, thought briefly
about finding his clothes and changing back, but then had a
A group of childlings were making a campout of their
stay at the boneyard. Rowlf and a few of the cuddlier
chimeras in the area were already curled up with them. Bill
simply walked carefully into the group, found a spot among
the little ones and lay down. He was surprised to find
himself falling asleep quickly, what with the unusually long
nap he'd just woken from, but decided he just needed the
* * *
Theme for this section: "Sweet Emotion" by Aerosmith
The next day the mass of petitioners outside the
boneyard had increased even more. King Meilge was back, only
slightly subdued. Finally, around 11, they were told lunch
was being served in the pavilion, and the barricades were
removed. Fortunately, the waiting Sidhe took the hint and
maintained their decorum, though some just barely. The filed
into the chimerical structure and immediately began
jockeying for seating position.
Bill had expected to get back to school that morning,
but instead found himself the target of a frantic search.
Seems it never occurred to the searchers to look for a wolf.
Bill had changed back and dressed and was walking to his car
when he was all but tackled.
"You have to get ready!" one frantic Boggan babbled.
"Oh! Oh! There's scarcely any time!"
"What are you talking about?"
"The High King's brunch! You're one of the star
"Why didn't anyone tell me about this ahead of time?"
He never did get a straight answer to that. Instead he
was hustled off to the Pavilion, entering through a side
door. Inside he was unceremoniously stripped, cleaned and
dressed in garments so fine they made his teeth vaguely
itch. All the while he was briefed on proper etiquette. He
still wasn't certain what was going on when he was ushered
into line with the rest of the usual suspects and Sir Seif -
all of them also freshly scrubbed and outfitted - just
before they were led into an enormous, gorgeously appointed
Bill kept trying to ask questions of the others, but
both he and they kept getting shushed by Boggans. He finally
just gave up and decided to wait and see. Soon, they were
taken to their seats, where the beginnings of the meal were
already arrayed. Bill was surprised to see the Duke and
Duchess already seated, and even more surprised that the
Duke wasn't at the head of the table. Also present were Lady
Fang, Duke Loethenlau and a few others. Gradually, it dawned
on him who the two vacant seats were for.
David and Faerilyth finally appeared, without fanfare,
about half an hour after the seating was completed. They
joined the Duke, Duchess and the others at the small table -
in this situation that meant one which only seated twenty.
As morning moved to afternoon the huge hall was filled
with a muted buzz of conversation, most of it carefully
regulated by the rules of behavior mandated by the nobles.
Course after course of carefully designed dishes were
served. Even though the portions were small, the number was
huge. Finally, when Bill and some of the others were
wondering if their bladders and stomachs could stay intact
much longer, the High King stood. Immediately, the heralds
shouted for the attention of the assembly. David and
Faerilyth took each others' hands and stood. The looked at
each other for a moment, then gracefully turned and together
approached the nearby podium. Silence fell over the great
"Ladies and gentlemen... honored Sidhe... It is good to
There was cheering and applause. David waited, smiling,
until it subsided.
"There is much to be done, and much of that is both
important and urgent. However, before we adjourn to the
council chambers Lady Fang has so generously provided, there
is one duty which takes precedence over all others my wife
and I must perform this day."
With that he turned and called Duke Wotchermacalt to
"Your Grace, you have proven yourself both wise and
loyal, persistent and patient. You were determined when you
needed to be, and properly patient when all around you were
urging action. Wise in keeping as few people involved as
possible, but wiser in seeking the best available help when
you needed to. You and your lovely wife were also very
gracious to myself and my lovely wife, providing privacy
when we most needed it. For that and far more We owe you a
debt We doubt We will ever be able to repay. However, please
consider this a down payment."
A servant had approached unobtrusively behind the High
King as this was said. Reaching back without looking, David
was handed a scroll. He handed the Duke the document, a roll
of vellum bound in fairey silk. The Duke opened this, read
it, and simply stared, speechless, back and forth between
scroll and monarch.
"Th-thank you, Your Majesty," the Duke was finally able
"The Court of Glass is awarded the right to appoint a
representative to sit on Our Privy Council," said David,
turning to make certain this was heard by the assembly.
The two men shook hands and the Duke walked, a bit
unsteadily, back to his seat, while the assembly applauded
Faerilyth now called for the Duchess.
"For all the reasons my husband gave and more, We
present you with this award."
The Duchess managed a more dignified reaction than her
husband had, but was obviously still greatly affected.
"The Duchess Ilsthene is awarded the Queen's Ear. And
in this instance that applies to both myself or Lenore, who
has graciously agreed to this award."
Again the applause, this time seasoned with expressions
of surprise. The Queen's Ear was license to have access to
the High Queen at any time, simply by requesting it. In a
way, it was a higher award than her husband had received.
Various other members of the Court of Glass were called
forward and given lesser recognitions. Then came the turn of
the usual suspects.
Leo was called up first, and not only knighted on
behalf of the Duke and his Court, but also announced a
member of a prestigious order. Plucky, Judy and Theodora
were also knighted. Then Bill was called up.
"Young Pooka, you present an interesting case," said
David, with a slight smile. "Your liege has specifically
requested that he be allowed to invest you. That ceremony
will take place at the High Court at a time yet to be
determined. However, We do have something to give you now. A
small and very appropriate treasure."
The attendant handed David a bejeweled case. David,
smiling, in turn presented this to Bill, who opened it, then
stared in confusion.
Inside was a silver collar. His Majesty lifted the item
from the box, opened it and reached for Bill, who leaned
forward to accept.
"I'm told this was presented to a former High King many
centuries ago, by one of the Garou," the High King murmured
quietly. "This will allow you to hide your clothing when you
change to wolf, then restore your garments when you change
back. It will also allow you to change when you are being
watched, though that will still not be easy."
"Thank you!" Bill almost shouted, grinning broadly, and
they straightened and shook hands.
Finally, Seif Raushan was called forward.
"Young Eshu, I barely knew you before I was lost," said
the High King, breaking etiquette by using the first-person
singular pronoun. "However, I have been told - repeatedly
and passionately - of your dedication in seeking me out, and
also your work in easing the conflict between my wife and my
sister. That last demonstrating wisdom and diplomacy,
besides loyalty and dedication. For those things and far
more you have my eternal gratitude. More pragmatically, We
name you Baron Seif."
David handed him a scroll, then also presented him with
a sword in belted scabbard.
"Not so fine as Caliburn, I'm afraid," said David,
dryly. "However, it should serve you well."
The applause was loud and long.
"Well, that takes care of the day's more pleasant
activities," said David, turning back to the assembly as
Lord Seif hurried to his seat. "Now we will take a short
break, and then court will begin."
* * *
Theme for this section: "Music Must Change" by The Who
The arguments started almost immediately court was
called into session. Disagreements old and new were brought
up and discussed, sometimes in a friendly manner, sometimes
with obvious hostility but politeness, but all too often
with angry shouting. David began to despair; his long
absence and the conflict over succession had resulted in too
many problems festering too long without being lanced. Now
he feared amputation might be needed.
For long hours, well into the evening, they shouted and
ranted and sometimes even screamed. Some things were
settled, but others went from a long simmer to a violent
boil, and threatened to become a conflagration.
Then the arguments trailed away to silence as those in
the room realized that a stranger had somehow entered
unnoticed and was quietly walking around, examining the
furnishings. He appeared to be human, tall and lean, at once dark and pale, his chimerical aspect
identical to his mundane appearance. The others in the hall
stirred uneasily. This was so unprecedented, so unexpected,
so improper, they didn't know how to respond. David made
as if to rise, but his wife put her hand on his arm.
"No, husband," she said, quietly. "I have a... feeling
about this stranger. He has offered us no harm, and before
has helped us greatly. Let us hear what he has to say."
"Excuse me," said the Sergeant at Arms, sternly,
approaching the man. "This is a private meeting. And a
"Hey, with all the noise you're making, I can't slee...
Uh, I mean, 'meditate,'" said the stranger, shrugging.
"Don't mind me. I'm just this odd, unworldly character who
can span the omnicosm with a thought."
"And your name is...?"
There was a pause while the Sergeant at Arms waited for
the rest of it, but the stranger went back to perusing wall
hangings, giving the definite impression that was all there
was. Or at least all he was willing to reveal. The Sergeant
at Arms started to resume his approach, obviously meaning to
evict the man, but David waved him back, trusting
Faerilyth's judgement, at least for the moment.
"And I suppose you are here to offer us your sage
advice on how to deal with our problems?" queried King
"Oh, you're trying to solve problems," said Yehudi, whacking himself on the head in sudden revelation. He winced
and shook his hand, then grinned. "Sorry. From where I was
it sounded like politics was being committed. But if you're
actually trying to do something useful, maybe I can help."
The stranger grinned maniacally, rubbing his hands
"It's showtime," he said, in a gravelly stage whisper.
He walked towards the front of the room, acquiring an
untouched crystal goblet on the way, from which he took a
big gulp. And then began choking and coughing, clapping
himself on the chest for a few seconds.
"Wow," he gasped, in a hoarse voice, tears streaming
from his eyes. "That's got a kick to it!"
"It's water," said the previous owner, staring at
Yehudi in disbelief.
The assembled fey watched, nonplused, as Yehudi
wandered around inside the U of tables for a bit, humming
quietly to himself, eyes strangely distant as he seemed to
look through, or perhaps past, the occupants. Then, he
stopped in the middle of the U, and nodded. He turned to
look at the High King and High Queen Dowager.
"Ah. I see what the problem is," said the strange, thin
"You do?" queried Faerilyth.
"Oh, it's obvious," said Yehudi, with an encompassing
wave of his hands. He struck a dramatic pose. He was now
wearing an outfit straight out of Grease, complete with
slicked-back hair. "Y'see... it's all because... your momma
don't dance... and your daddy don't rock and roll..."
"I beg your..." the High Queen Dowager began,
"Hmmm," said Yehudi, examining himself. "Doesn't quite go with the decor, does it?"
A string quartet began playing soothing music. Yehudi was now wearing Grecian robes... and pointed ears. Only... his eyebrows were also different, and his complexion had a slight but distinct green tinge.
"Your passions are running so strong that you're hurting your own causes following them," he said, in a calm but strong voice. "There is a time for emotional argument, and a time for dispassionate, reasoned discussion. You must make this a time for the latter, or risk losing everything you have built since the Resurgence, along with all the potential gain which peaceful negotiation could earn you."
Yehudi bowed solemnly, to scattered applause.
"That... travesty was so..." sputtered King Meilge. He
stopped, took a deep breath, and tried again. "That...
implied insult was totally inappropriate to the dignity of
this assembly, and a distraction from the serious work being
"Exactly," said Yehudi, now back in mundane shorts, t-shirt and running shoes, grinning as he waggled a finger at
the elf. "You folks were just goin' 'round in circles. You
needed a break, something to get you out of the grooves
you'd worn. No thanks necessary..."
"Well, you have mine," said the High King, smiling. "I
was beginning to fear we were on the verge of another
Accordance War, or even worse. Thank you, for breaking the
tense mood and helping add a little perspective."
"Then my work here is done," Yehudi declared, with
The music ended, and shortly thereafter was heard a
muffled clunk. The strange man walked over to a table where
a large boom-box incongruously sat, turned it off and picked
it up by the handle.
"Don't you just love mundane explanations for wondrous
events?" he asked, giving the room a Groucho eyebrow
Yehudi bowed deeply to the High King and Queen. Then,
he turned and walked towards a tapestried wall. Without
pausing, he stepped onto a path woven into the fabric,
dwindling as he continued walking, until he turned a corner
* * *
Theme for this section: "Rough Boys" by Pete Townshend
The next day most of those not actively involved in the
talks were asked - very firmly - to return to their regular
duties. Something which many of the Duke's court had done
the afternoon before. Most of the participants in the
revival and protection of the High King had already missed a
day of work or school, and the humans were starting to
notice. However, Bill and the usual suspects, as well as
some others, were asked to return to the Court of Glass and
help with security there. With so many of the Duke's staff
at the boneyard there were fears of problems, both mundane
Bill expected that with so many people actually showing
themselves around the grounds of the Freehold and the school
that there wouldn't be any trouble. He was wrong. Shortly
before Noon, a car parked on the street to the west of the
mansion. Bill and some of the others walked over to see what
was happening with that. Realizing they'd been spotted, the
five Changelings who got out of the car changed their
approach from directly towards the ornate fence to down the
sidewalk to the side entrance gate. It was locked, but
currently guarded by only a bored-looking young Eshu.
Bill recognized the Troll and Redcap among the
strangers; he'd seen and spoken to them his first visit to
the Pride of Erin. He had a sudden suspicion as to who had
ravaged the place. Still, that was for later. Now he had to
focus on keeping them from doing harm here. With them were a
Sidhe, a Sluagh and a rather mangy-looking Satyr.
Seeing that reinforcements were approaching the gate,
the Sidhe suddenly lunged forward and worked a quick cantrip
on the lock. The gate sprung open, and the strangers swarmed
inside. The Eshu on guard, busy switching his gaze back and
forth between Bill's team and the strangers, was caught by
surprise and quickly pinioned by the Troll. They now had a
standoff, with roughly equal numbers and strengths on both
Weapons were drawn and fighting stances taken on both
"Don't do this," said Bill, his voice firm but his
expression smiling. "I learned how to fight from Garou."
"Whatever they are," sneered the young Sidhe. "Anselm,
The Redcap started forward, giving them a nasty smile.
Bill smiled back, almost as nastily.
"Well, boys," he said, conversationally. "Looks like
we've got a man's job of work ahead of us."
And he kicked the Redcap between the legs.
The following fight was quick and furious, and ended
with the Sidhe and his two wingmen running, leaving the
Redcap and the Troll in various stages of lying on the
ground, whimpering. While Bill had a nasty cut on one cheek
and a broken left upper arm, and Leo and Plucky had received
less serious injuries, there was little doubt as to who the
"I'm beginning to understand why predator Pookas are so
rare," muttered Duke Wotchermacalt, later, peering at Bill.
"It's not just his nature," said Korgig. "He has been
training to fight in various ways for nearly five years,
with good reason. That's enough time to get pretty good at
"Any word, yet, on what they intended? And who, if
anyone, sent them?"
"No. They were charmed against revealing anything. We
will find out, though."
"Young man," said His Grace, turning back to Bill.
"While I am grateful you repelled this intrusion, at a time
when so much is at stake, and so many balances delicately
poised, I wish you would try negotiation before violence."
"Yes, Your Grace," said Bill, straight-faced.
"I'm not asking you to deny your lupine nature," said
the Duke. "I'm just pointing out to you that there's more to
you than that."
"Yes, Your Grace," said Bill, seriously.
"At any rate, thank you. And I am both pleased and
impressed that you are already nearly healed. Carry on."
* * *
Theme for this section: "When I'm Sixty-Four" by The Beatles
Eventually, the court session at the boneyard ended.
Many matters had been settled, with others postponed - by
the agreement of all involved parties - until a proper court
could be called. The Glen of Eternal Repose returned to its
accustomed placid state, and the Court of Glass to its
normal quiet operations, as well. Bill again had to play
catchup with his school work, as did many others. And there
was also some other catching up to do.
Two days after the High King called an end to his court
and the visiting Sidhe left for their homes, the Duke and
Duchess had a private meeting with Leo.
"Leo," said the Duke, quietly, "as the Duchess and
myself are childless, and I believe you are the
reincarnation of my Uncle, the former Duke, I am naming you
The young elf was speechless.
"Don't worry," said the Duke, with an easy laugh. "You
aren't taking power yet. You're still barely more than a
fledge. I have much to teach you, and so do others. And I'm
certain your sister will volunteer for much of that."
Even Leo had to laugh - though wryly - at that.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Hold on Tight" by Electric Light Orchestra
Finally - Finally! - Bill was ready to return home. His
mission for Baron Haldrin was completed, and had brought
results far in excess of what his Lord had expected. Bill
also felt he had more than earned his keep with this one.
Still, his joy to be leaving was tempered with sadness over
the friends who were staying. He met with the usual suspects
and a few others in a quiet corner of The Pride of Erin on
his last full day in Columbus.
"Semester's over. I even managed to get good grades,
thanks largely to the last of it being during quiet times
from a Changeling aspect. I'm transferring back to Feyland
to finish my degree. Then... we'll see what happens..."
They spoke quietly for hours, then drank a final,
silent toast before Bill shook hands, hugged, or kissed each
of them... not always performing the action the particular
person expected. Then, back in his dorm room, he packed
everything but what he'd need in the morning. He smiled
fondly at the charter, medallion and sword the Duke had
given him that afternoon, though he wasn't certain how he
would pack that final item.
Among other last-minute events, Bill had been
surprised to be awarded a Knighthood in the Order of the
Court of Glass Polishers as a farewell present from the
Duke. Though not a full commission, it was far more than
honorary, and Bill knew he would both be returning here and
having the resultant duties coming to him, wherever he was.
The long drive home the next morning was mostly
uneventful, except for that one speeding ticket. And finally
- Finally! - Bill was back home. Both his parents greeted
him warmly. He made a point of staying with them when what
he really wanted was to romp in the woods with Debbie. Bill
was very happy with the way his father had become more human
these past few years. And his mother more Pooka, though she
had yet to rediscover her fey self.
* * *
Theme for this section: "Red Pony Suite - Happy Ending" by Aaron Copeland
With his familial duties taken care of the day and night before, his second day home was given to Debbie. Her greeting left Bill feeling glad he healed quickly.
The rest of the day passed in a haze of happy roughhousing.
This document is Copyright 2010 Rodford Edmiston Smith. Those wishing to post or reprint this story may contact the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org