One eventide, King Mar'vel was out riding on the edge of the clearing with his favorite stallion when both of their attentions were caught by something shining on the edge of the forest. It was a white mare; blinking at them beneath the harvest moon. Her flankes were pristine and carved out of alabaster; her hair in stringy clumps of silver matted wetly to her neck as if she were newling foaled full-grown out of the stars. And even more astounding, from her forehead sprang a spiral shaft of ivory moonlight. Really, the King did not know what to make of such a sight on his land. Such creatures rarely came to November; but perhaps it was an Envoy... nevertheless, he was immediately siezed with a desire to have such a creature in his stables, and he could tell that his horse; Aldyr, had got her scent in his nostrils and would not be denied. Worried that Aldyr would frighten of the beast- unicorns are known for the caution needed to approach them- he dismounted, tying his irate mount with a magic spell, and considered the best way to go about catching her. Historically, the job required a young maiden, but the king was decidedly short of those. Fortunately, he was requisitely pure of self; and the unicorn did not shy away as he approached her, but seemed to invite him nearer. He did not notice her careful back-steps, drawing him out of the clearing, and into the forest until it was far too late. Outside of the saftey of his little glen, the unicorn smiled with a sweet sort of triumph. Before king Mar'vel knew what happened, he had been transformed into the shape of a stallion stud. For the unicorn, as you will have guessed, was not a really truly unicorn; but rather Soril's daugthter Kassandre in her guise. The enchanted king tried to bolt back to his castle; where he could disenchant himself; but he caught her sent with his enquine sense of smell and nature took ahold of him firmly. And when the business was concluded enough for the princess to be sure that she was with child; she turned the king back into himself and sent him away to his castle, thuroughly disgusted, though he, himself, did not know the truth of the creatures identities. Really, he just now had a rather arch opinion of unicorns.

No matter how good a Sorceress that Kassandre was; she could not hide the fact of her being with child from Soril, her father. Nor could he; though he threatened her with the rack and with the flail, so to tease the source of her shame from her. Not that she seemed particularily shamed about it, the little hussy. But Lord Soril /is/ the Master of the Hunt; and even when he has not the scent nor the shape of his prey, he can find a trail. So, taking not his entire pack but rather his most faithful hounds, Horir and Henyr, he set out into the forest to seek the offending Satyr.

But wherever he searched; the Lord of the Hunt found little aid from the forest his realm. The trees with their dryads and the streams with their niads fell silent to him; and not a fey faerie nor a sprite nor pixie would flash his way- for; although they feared the Lord of November too much to lie to him or to obscure his way; they too feared Titania their Queen; and the Sorceres Kassandre. So they hid from Soril and his hounds; infuriating him and driving him deeper and deeper into a mhelancholic rage (the humors of November are typically mhelancholic; you must also understand). As for the King Mar'vel; he knew nothing of this; having made up his mind to forget the whole business by spending a good century or two locked in his library. Nor did the Lord Soril think to bother him with familial matters. Instead, one wendsday, he left even his Horir and Henyr in their kennels, and, donning his black and purple cloak, he went out into the marshes on the edge of November, almost where the tip of it touches October. Crows hung about like fat black pears on the twisted trees of the fen; and yew berries dropped their little red pebbles on the earth. These were gathered up into baskets of willow braid by the old witch who lived in this place; in a hut in an oak-ring; the Lady Constance d'Morrigan. She was more a Morrigan than a Lady though; which is something like a Grim; save while Grims deal more dirtily in curses; the Morrigan is much better with charms. Either way; it was this old Morrigan-witch that the Master of the Wild Hunt went looking for; far, far away from his great caverns underneath the earth. And that is where he found her, under the groves of willow and Yew.

As a general rule; the Master of the Hunt and the Witch of the Swamps maintained a polite sort of distance spawned out of the neutrality a seventh son has for the fourth, and vice versa. Although at this moment; Lord Soril felt almost fondly for the Morrigan, as he was in desperate need of feminine counsel. For her part, Lady Constance smiled at the Master of the Hunt; the broom on her closet and the owls on the doorstoop had told her to expect a visitor; the creature that lived under her porch that took one whiff of the moorland sky and said it was the Lord of November on his way; stag-smell and kennel smell ga-lomping through the swamp.

It should be noted that the favorite form of the Master of the Hunt was that of a Satyr; cloven-hooved, with his human torso tinted slightly blue and the horns of a stag or a ram, as he would. He stood a good six and a half feet tall; using the feet of the King Mar'vel to measure by. At his waist hung his saber, his pistol, his knife and his curved hunting horn with which he could call the Wild Hunt to charge or to Heel. About his shoulders swirled his great hunting cloak that was purple and blue as a panther's hide when he went out formally; and would blend in with his person when he was hunting.

Very impressive, was the Lord of the Wild Hunt!!

Lady Constance, however, was nut brown and gnarled as grape vines and willow roots. But she smiled on the Lord Soril like an old high school aquaintence and asked him inside for a cup of chamomile tea, or mint, or both; as he wished. And he smiled at the lady Constance and went into her little hut with her, which smelled of yew and sandalwood.

Once she had put on a nice pot of tea (cinnamon, actually, and apple, as they /were/ in November) Lord Soril explained his vexation, and the willfulness of Kassandre his daughter. The Morrigan sipped her tea and sighed appropriately, clicking her teeth at the naughtiness of the princess Kassandre! and she gave him a plate of gingersnaps to go with his tea, while she considered the predicament.

"First of all, Me Lordy," she clucked, when he was finished, "Little ladies who consort with Faerie Queenes are bound to be trouble. I could scry through any galmour ye wanted, but I need nae. If the Naiads are silent, an' the Dryads all hide; an' yer Faerie mistresses shun yer furs an' blankets..." (the Lord Soril started; for he'd not made mention of /that/ part of the trouble, thinking it irritating but unrelated) "...then that auld waspy Titania's got 'er wee faerie fingers in it, I tell ye true."

But Lord Soril, a Hunter and a reasonable man; knowing few passions but hunger and hatred; did not quite fathom what the Morrigan might mean by this; and said as much to her. She chuckled crone-wisely and patted him on his dark head, between the horns.

"Oh, my duck, my lamb, think ye on it well. Ye want to know who put the posset in yer dearie-girl? Think ye; think, who'd seduce the little lady November? Nae; it's yer bonny wee bairn's doing, it is; the question is what poor fool fell fer it."

Lord Soril darkened as he recognised at least part of the truth of the Morrigan's words.

"None would dare..."

"Lessn' the girl wore a glamour."

"That bitch Titania..."

"Now we're gettin' somewhere, my lamb." She crowed. But Lord Soril's brow was furrowed with frustration still as to who and why.

"I shall kill her," Said lord Soril sagely, "I shall Call out the Hunt and swear her our prey. If she so much as waves a wing outside of the borders of faerie, my hounds will have her." And he raised his golden horn to his lips, but the witch clucked at him chidingly.

"Nae nae, good sir- the Fey Queene has her own tricks and glamours, as well know ye- ye want her Not for an Enemy." The Master of the hunt saw the wisdom in this, slowly, and lowered his horn. The Morrigan continued. "Instead I shall brew ye charms, such charms as will thwart the Faerie, leastwise." and she went rummaging in her apron pocket, pulling bottles and vials and setting them on her sideboard.

"What manner of charms, sister witch?" He asked, curiosity at the burbling noises and shimmering colors contained in the bottles transfixing him like a crow on a penny. Lady Constance chuckled.

"Ye've the horns of a ram and the brains of an ox, lordy-me-posset. Yer Bonnie wee lass knows very well how not to be with child should she wish it; does she not?"

Lord Soril shifted uncomfily, not really wishing to think of that possibility. She was his Very Own Little Girl, after all. The witch began to add the potions to her big black pot, not waiting for an answer. "So if she's bearin' a bairn; it's to give Titania a changeling child. So tow charms shall ye need; to protect the wee one- your grand-kin- from the Fey. One- to ward the sprites and spirits from the room. Ye should set this one in a room made special for the birthing. This shall prevent the wicked ones from setting a changeling in the child's place, puck or goblin. Next, or first, shall ye need this syrup, which shall ensure yer wee little sorcerous sweetie brings forth only feminine babes." Not even allowing Lord Soril the time in which to express confusion, the Morrigan continued blithely, "Ye've none to know; it's a secret of lady-mages, lordy-me-lad. Have ye ever wondered why it's the princesses and the girl-babes that have got to be locked up in towers or put to sleep for a hundred years and the like? Well, sor'cresses cannae control the lasses living, only the boys. A girlchild is useless to the Fey Queen. So she must only bear girls the now, mark ye well. Aha! I have finished." And she handed Lord Soril a vial of something lavender than shimmered and smelled of sweetness and ice; and a talisman made of a hazelnut shell and woven with the wings of a dragonfly.

Lord Soril nodded and thanked the Morrigan profusely, taking the charms, and told her that he was at her service if she required anything, ever.

"Just one, Me-lordy, I suggest you send the little lady-your-daughter to me, once she's delivered of her twin-kins (for aye, she will bear twins of this matching), and let me give her a proper edjumacation. S'a deal?" And she spit in her gnarled oak hand and thrust it out at him. Lord Soril agreed to this (he wished very much that his daughter were anywhere as prudent and practical as the Lady Constance!), and, in the form of a great black wolf, ran back to his great underground caves, to slip the potion into Kassandre's dinner and have a room especially prepared for the birth of his grand-kinder. Though he most certainly did not let on that he knew the girl carried twins in her belly.

<< melt to spring. >>