The portal to the Forbidden land whirled behind them and vanished. The retinue was around him, shielding him from the prying eyes, and he had the uncomfortable feeling like he really was some kind of a royalty like the little prince had said. He didn have time to think about it though, Colbyn and Salin whisked him away to their mothers house before he knew it. They bathed and changed their clothes, and Goed started to feel like he was in middle of a dream. The problem was, he did not know if it was a sweet dream or a nightmare.
The retinue acted like if they had the crown jewels in their hands – or an adder – and Colbyn and Salin explained him nothing. They treated him like he was just a teenager of fifteen or so, and he had the feeling that that was how they saw him too. They did tell him though, that his relatives lived in the heart of the Faerie that was known as the Moon Garden, and that his father had indeed been the Dreamer who was banished after misusing his powers and usurping the throne. For Goed that was the most unsettling thing to know. He had spent almost four decades in the Guards protecting the crown of a human king, and to know that his father had tried to take a throne in another country was a blow. He could not help remembering what he had said to the little prince, and wondered what he had inherited from his grandparents, and what from his father.
The Moon Garden was a place like he had never seen before. There were trees and flowers, birds and animals like in any garden. But they were nothing like he had seen before. Everything was just more. More colourful, more vibrant, more alive. He could recognize them but… the birch for instance, had the familiar white trunk and black spots where branches had been, but the leaves were silvery green, shining. The rabbit they saw had a coal black fur, and the fox chasing it had white pelt expect for the black tip of its tail. The sparrow was not the humble coloured bird he was used to see, but had blue chest and grey wings with blue wing feathers.
But the buildings awed him even more. Slender gazebos that seemed to be grown from living trees, old buildings that looked like the stones had grown from the ground and formed the structures, stone bridges that looked like they were trees and flowers. Wooden gates with lace patterns, and beautiful metal fences and benches that looked like they were cast on silver.
Inside one of the buildings was a couple of undefined age. They could have been thirty or three thousand – you just could not tell. Ageless was the word that came in to Goeds mind. They both had carefully collected expressions, though you could see the disdain in the womans expression. The man seemed to be cautious and eager at the same time. The woman spoke before Colbyn had a change to introduce Goed.
”So, this is the boy who claims kinship to us? ” The repulse and judgement seemed to ripple in her words.
”I do not claim kinship to anyone, except to my mother who faded away after her husband died. The man who fathered me has no meaning to me, and I gladly reject a man who, I was told, was a usurper to the throne. To have a knowledge that you were sired by someone that loathsome is a burden Id rather be without. ”
”And why are you here, if not to claim what was his? ”
”I am here, because the king I have served for decades has gone mad, and has decided to kill anyone who is not pure-blooded human. He has executed people for no other crime but a mishap of birth. My captain ordered me to leave before someone would remember how long I had been in the guard. The order to purge the lines was already given. I am here as a refugee, till I find a way to return to the Western lands. Only reason I stand in front of you, is because Colbyn thought that me being sired by a Dreamer was important, though it is not. ”
”You claim to be sired by a Dreamer, and say its not important? How dare you lie like that! ”
”I speak only what my mother, Finuilathan, daughter of Aine and Fiorn, told me. That I was born in the year of the moon when the high priestess bore coloured twins, and that I was born soon after she had served her time as the servant of the Dreamer. Thats why Colbyn thought I must be fathered by the Dreamer, though surely my mother must have met other men too. What he said has no meaning to me, no weight. I was brought up among humans as a human, and thought until yesterday that my mother was half-fay and mortal. ”
The woman stared him with unblinking eyes, face whitened by rage. Suddenly Goed felt a searing pain in his head and felt something, or someone, entering his mind. Only his military training kept him on his feet, but the surprise and strangeness of the attack rendered him defenceless. The mind attack seemed to continue for hours and he could faintly hear a voice of a man, ordering the woman to stop the attack immediately. Then the pain ceased. The woman who had been standing was now sitting on the throne-like chair, and the man next to him looked enraged and worried at the same time.
”Are you alright child? I fear my wife has hurt you with her foolish mind search. ”
”I feel like someone has ripped my brains through my eyes and whacked me with a sledge hammer on top of that. What on the name of Danu was that, and why did she attack? ”
”That, my child was the arrogance of a hurt and foolish mother. She entered your mind with force willing to rip the truth out of you, and resisted my direct order to cease the attack. And from the stunned look on her face Id say she has now been forced to see the truth, and accept yet another atrocity our son has done. And yes, we are your paternal grandparents, no matter what you or my wife wished. And I fear you need to change your plans of going back to the Western countries. Colbyn, a formal introduction if you please. ”
Colbyn bowed to both of them, and turned to Goed.
”I have failed to ask for your full name, for I guess Goed is not your only name? ”
”Goed Thelasin Finuilathan was what my mother called me when she was angry with me. ”
Colbyn smiled. ”Never estimate the power of motherly voice, eh? ” He turned towards the pair on the dais, and bowed.
”Your royal highnesses, high king Thelesar and Queen Avael, may I introduce you your grandson Goed Thelasin Finuilathan, son of Ern and Finuilathan, sired by the Dreamer of Blood. ”
”I am pleased to meet you my grandson and my heir. We have much to learn of each other. ”
”At Your service, sir, maam. ” Goed was rendered almost speechless. It was only through his military training at the kings guard that he could find proper answers. This was his nightmare come true. Not only did he have a splitting headache, but he was also facing something he had never wanted: a position among the royal as one of them. An heir to the throne. Even thinking the words seemed to increase his headache. He had never envisioned himself sitting on the throne, never.
His absent-minded behaviour made the king more worried. He ordered Colbyn to take prince Thelasin to meet the healers, while he would address some words to his wife. They hurried away. Neither of them wanted to be present when the notoriously feisty queen received her due from the king. He was known to be even tempered but even feistier when irritated. And now he was pissed. Royally pissed.
The headache the newly nominated prince was sporting was beyond anything he had ever experienced. For the first time of his life he actually felt pity for those who had hangovers, for what his human friends had told they seemed to be a lot like what he had now. He even felt dizzy and nauseous.
”Maybe its good that I don get drunk from the ale humans drink. If I felt this sick every time, I could never drink it again. How do the humans stand this nausea and dizziness? ”
Colbyn took his arm and suddenly he was on the floor, Colbyn looking at him, visibly worried. His men came and made a stretcher from clothes and walking sticks. Then they hurried him to the healers.
The head of the healers, Aminya, was most concerned when she heard what had happened. From the strict line of her lips, closely pursed together, it was obvious that she really wanted to address the matter to the queen. Only Goeds need of healing and the knowledge that the queen was being tongue whipped by her husband made her to stay put. But as she could not give her piece to the queen, Colbyn got his ears full.
”Foolish men! Did you really think that a mother would take it well, if she suddenly found out that she was a grandmother to an almost grown man, and that she was robbed of the chance to be a grandmother when he was growing? Honestly Colbyn! Your own mother is among the temperamental of the fay women – you should have known how the queen would react! ”
”My dear Aminya, please! How could I know she has a persona like that? I have ever seen her cool and collected, always on her best. Give me the benefit of a doubt: I do not have the power to see what is in mans or womans heart of hearts, and I certainly do not have the knowledge and experience of a full-fledged healer. ”
First it seemed that she might not answer, as she was examining Goeds eyes with a sharp light. She probed and muttered something by herself and cleansed her hands with a cloth.
”I guess you are right there. I keep forgetting that you have not been among those harpies circling around my niece and her husband like they were a fresh carcass to devour. They have not had a single day of peace ever since they were forced to disinherit that useless son of theirs and banish him. Those vultures keep forgetting that their efforts to impress the king and the queen are futile. The law about the lineages and the crown is quite clear. ”
Colbyn smiled a bit, for he knew that this was Aminyas way of saying she was sorry for her outburst.
”That they have. But that reminds me about your lineage. AM I correct that congratulations are in order? Ive been told that young Laeniel has tied the knot, and is already with a child. ”
”Yes, and she is expecting triplets. ”
Colbyn stared at her, awed. Children were rare among the fay these days, and to had triplets was very rare among them.
”Triplets? Thats amazing news! And it also lightens my heart that she has found a mate fit for her. I felt very bad when I had to turn her down. ”
”You needn be, silly boy. Though I had to stand my ground to make her mother and father to understand why yours was not a good fit. My son can be very stubborn sometimes, and he is still too young to understand why a man of your age and status cannot marry anyone he wishes. I guess he got it when I said that youd have to ask Kronos and Zeus if they would consider his daughter worthy of you. It was mean of me, I admit, but I have no time for temper tantrums from a 700 years old boy. ”
While they had been talking, Aminya had worked on Goeds head. Goed was astonished over her ability to keep chatting with Colbyn and order her staff around. And on top of that she talked with Goed testing his ability to see and remember. He had already made Goed to tell how many fingers he could see, what was the name of the high king, and other things like that. But it looked like she was not content.
”Follow my fingers with your eyes. Now tell me how many you see. Hmm. Move your head slowly to the right and back again. Does the movement hurt? Does it make your nauseas? Drink this. Put this leaf on your mouth and chew it until it tastes bitter, then spit it to the bowl. ”
Goed was amazed with her skills. Even with the chatter going on she managed to dull her headache to a more bearable level, and by the time they were given permission to leave the Healers Garden he felt a lot better and knew more about the court machinations and Aminyas granddaughter than he really wanted to. At some point the head of the royal guard had arrived with the kings order that Colbyn was to stay in the faerie with the young prince and teach prince Thelasin the habits of his new homeland. He had also told that the prince was to live in the House Aërenduil as it was the privilege of the king to gift it to his grandson and heir. They were then led to the building, accompanied by a heavy guard and left to their own devices.