Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
‘Mainstreaming’ seemed such a crass word for how the Fae lived. ‘Hiding in plain sight,’ was more accurate, but still, the description lacked a certain something.
In truth, the Fae weren’t hiding at all. Many of them had lived this way for as long as they’d walked this world, and for most, that meant centuries. They owned businesses and openly moved among humans. Of course, they didn’t point out what they were, or otherwise call attention to themselves. That would have been foolish.
Humans had their uses. They performed work and provided services that were valuable to the Gentry, as the Fae were sometimes called. Humans were their primary source of money, and if a Fae was clever, they could be the source of lots of money. Humans could be attractive and there remained a long tradition of taking human lovers. ‘Taken by the Fae’ was a favorite theme for romance novels and folklore. In the old days, the influence all that money bought kept officials from thinking too hard about the occasional abduction in other than a whimsical way. Now, with couples living openly without marriage, these liaisons were more often viewed as simple love affairs. When the Fae partner tired of their human, it was written off as a relationship that ‘just didn’t work out.’ If the human seemed a little the worse for wear in the days that followed, pining and fading, no one thought anything amiss.
Rogan was fairly certain that the humans who lived in the town of Carrack, where his principal hotel was located, knew what he was. It was in the way they bowed their heads almost unconsciously as they passed him on the sidewalk, and how they stepped aside when he took his place in the queues at the stores. Here, in western Ireland, he and his people had never fully retreated into their forts, not since those dark days of the first Christians.
For Rogan and his family, ‘business’ meant running hotels. Their establishments hadn’t always been so grand. The first houses Rogan bought were roadside public houses with taverns on the first floor and rooms for hire above. Now, Rogan Brigant had a dozen historic buildings under his name, most filled to capacity. Rogan could have bought more modern establishments, or built newer places filled with every luxury and technological advancement, but Rogan preferred smaller, older places that lacked some amenities, but made up it with charm and old-world ways.
That was one of the many advantages of being Fae. Humans were attracted to you, regardless of your appearance. It was why the Fae did so well in the entertainment and hospitality industries. Even though they couldn’t explain it, humans were just a little more inclined to choose your business over your non-Fae competitors. They would tell their friends how charming you were, or how exceptional the service was, ‘almost like magic.’ Some Fae were tempted by greed, using their musical talent or force of personality to become more well-known, attracting more money, but Rogan knew that was the road to disaster. Inevitably, there would be a miscue, or some human would dig too deep for backgrounds that didn’t exist. There would be an investigation or a scandal, and money would be wasted to hush things up, quickly followed by punishments from their own kind for endangering them.
It was this need for secrecy that led to one of the challenges of being a popular destination. Customers returned over and over, often spanning their lives and the lives of their children. It wasn’t unusual for Rogan to watch a human travel from bright-eyed youth to old and bent, while for Rogan, he never changed. No Fae did.
The timelessness of a Fae’s existence living among changeable humans was managed through glamour. Masquerade was just another part of existence for any Fae and, for most, the simple act of pulling a persona over one’s features was enough to stave off boredom. You wore that persona, changing the face in subtle ways to simulate the process of aging. Perhaps you added a wrinkle or two, or ruddy cheeks. In all cases, you remained attractive, and when a reasonable time passed, or you became too bored with the personality you assumed, you arranged a quick death, enjoyed your own funeral, and appeared shortly after in your new body and new face.
The Fae did best when they remembered that this world was not their only world, and Rogan daily reminded his son and all who owed fealty to him of that fact.
Rogan wasn’t merely a Fae. Rogan was a King and he took his responsibilities seriously. Rogan ruled most of the northwest coast of the island and his only child, Breandan, would rule when Rogan decided to step aside or was struck down by an enemy.
Rogan wondered what his guests would think if they could see the true man who hid behind the fussy exterior. He watched their appreciative eyes as he ruled the reception desk, stalking behind his clerks, critiquing work, and praising service well done. Rogan made a show of personally greeting those who spent more money, subtly encouraging those who watched to try to earn the same attention. He wondered if their fawning would change to alarm if they could see the sword hanging at his side. Of course, Rogan and his Fae weren’t currently at war, but displaying the weapon for those who could see served as a deterrent. While the Fae could and did use guns against their foes, swords like the one Rogan carried with its heart of pure iron, remained their preferred weapon. The death that came from a Fae sword was swift and certain. Gunshots had an unfortunate habit of healing.
Rogan knew most humans assumed things as they watched him gliding through his paneled and marbled lobby, or delicately lifting his glass of mead wine. He was certain that none of those assumptions included engaging in mortal combat.
Rogan’s persona this time was Charles Brigant, a stylish fop most assumed was gay. It allowed Rogan to indulge his love of rich food and luxury. Rogan had inhabited this persona for many years, and he mellowed his look to include greying hair and laugh lines that crinkled when he smiled. What he didn’t bother to hide was the taut strength of his body, which was enjoyable when he chose to indulge in a bed companion. Rogan preferred the skill of a Fae lover, but from time to time he would indulge in the harsher, more immediate thrill of human bodies. With the steady flow of customers, and the way his suits hung, there was always a ready choice.
While Rogan might appear to be an aging businessman, his reality was one of quick battles and long, vicious wars. Insults among the Fae were never forgotten and bad blood, once gained, lingered for a lifetime, which for a Fae was forever. Rogan might smile, but his desire for revenge ran deep.
Rogan’s principal enemy was his own brother, Niall Brigant. Niall and Rogan hadn’t always been at war. In their youth, which was many ages of men in the past, they had been close, despite their opposite natures. Rogan was a child of the water kingdoms. He enjoyed the ponds and streams, the lakes and oceans of Ireland. He easily slipped into the guise of a seal to journey to distant islands and remote places. Diving through the waves brought him his greatest joy and he remained close with the Selkies, the seal Fae, whom he considered to be under his protection.
Niall, who was the older Brigant brother by a matter of minutes, preferred light and air. In his youth, Niall spent his time playing with light and weaving fantasies of wind and color. Rogan never saw the point of it but, over time, it started to occur to Rogan that Niall’s easy way seemed to attract more luck than Rogan’s more serious nature and that sowed the first seeds of discord between the brothers.
It was in the way humans were drawn to him. Niall enjoyed laughter and pranks. Rogan enjoyed tricks as well. Playing tricks on humans was part of their very nature, but Rogan’s sense of humor demanded there be some pratfall or that the human involved be made to look foolish. Niall’s did not. Niall seemed wholly satisfied when the trick resulted in nothing more than a sense of surprise or astonishment. The aftermath was that Niall often retained the friendship and good graces of those around him. Rogan rarely did.
What was more damning in Rogan’s eyes was that Niall seemed to genuinely enjoy the company of humans. He didn’t hold them at arm’s length as any self-respecting Fae should. He spent time with them, actually taking them as friends. He gamed with them, and brought them with him when he hunted. Niall befriended the lesser Fae as well, including those of the Unseelie, the solitary Fae whose natures were so different from their own.
While Rogan’s kingdom stretched north, Niall’s encompassed the southwestern part of the island. There were many more settlements and towns in Niall’s lands, the result of natural harbors where travelers were able to find shelter. Niall settled his main stronghold just outside one of the oldest towns, and all seemed to go well. It was a time when humans were still few in this land. They huddled behind their walls, hugging the shores of the sea and the Fae trooped and marched over the rest of the island. Each race knew its place and there was peace.
It was in these happy days that the twins’ Father decided to arrange marriages for his sons. The kingdom was one, taking up the whole of the west coast, but their Father determined to divide it equally. He chose south for Niall, pointing out his son’s love of light, and the north for Rogan, so he could be closer to the seals and the wild sea he loved.
For Rogan, his Father arranged for Aoife. She was a princess whose father ruled a kingdom to the east of Rogan’s lands. Aoife was willowy, her brown hair a revelation, her soft eyes almost golden in the sun. Her family name was older than Brigant and wreathed in stories of honor. Rogan basked in the admiration others gave him to have such a woman standing at his side.
In spite of her being Fae and not having been asked whether she would agree, Aoife was warm toward him, and Rogan found himself falling deeply and inexplicably in love with her. It was almost embarrassing how even her smallest request was something Rogan felt compelled to provide, but Aoife never made him feel foolish for it. In fact, she acted as if being with him was her own greatest achievement. Rogan adored her, and when she gave him Breandan, he felt his life could never be better than it was at that moment, for children were not common among the Fae.
No one knew why the Fae lost their ability to procreate. Some said it wasn’t lost, just that nature understood the need for balance in all things and since the Fae lived forever, children only came when a Fae was lost through war or some other calamity. Others blamed it on the emergence of men. They said that these lesser creatures subtly altered the air and water around them, poisoning this world for the Fae and rendering them barren. The only thing that was certain was that fertility levels dropped and having children was considered a mark of true blessing. A Fae capable of producing children was set above the others, and Breandan’s existence marked Rogan and Aoife as special, even beyond their royalty.
Niall’s marriage was also arranged. His Father had been looking for another princess, but Queen Branna approached him, asking that she be considered. Normally, a Fae Queen would only seek a spouse from among the lesser Fae, but Branna convinced their Father that it was in their best interest to align their kingdoms, extending their territory to include much of the southern shores. Niall expressed his doubts, but the lure of money and land was too much, and the bargain was struck. Only afterward did it come to light that Branna and her Father had spent her kingdom into near ruin with frivolous extravagances. Niall might have protested, demanding Branna be set aside, but he didn’t. Instead, he took on the responsibilities of rebuilding and consolidating their lands. If he did resent the Branna’s deception, he never said it where others would hear. The only clue of what this cost him was that Niall was never as sunny or carefree as he once had been.
As for Branna, she declared herself well pleased with Niall, and for awhile the face she showed her consort and her people was congenial. She was a beautiful woman and when she chose, she could charm those around her. What Rogan realized later was that Branna had watched both brothers and she believed that Niall, with his easy-going nature would soon fall under her spell, allowing her to rule in his name. In the lives of Fae, Branna’s realization that she was mistaken came soon, but in the years of men, it was many ages. For those humans who knew Niall, Branna seemed the perfect Queen. She was glorious and proud, and if there were glimpses of coldness and cruelty, it was dismissed as her Fae nature.
Like Aoife, Branna delivered Niall a son, Dillon, but unlike Aoife, Branna’s pregnancy took many ages to manifest. The boy’s arrival was the cause of both relief and much celebration and the Fae all across Ireland marveled at the luck of the Brigants, that both Kings and their Queens had been blessed.
In appearance, Dillon favored his mother. He was dark-haired and blue-eyed. When he stood beside his cousin, Breandan, they could have been twins but for the color of their eyes. Where Dillon’s eyes were the blue of deep ice, Breandan’s were the soft brown of the seals. In all other ways, Dillon was his Father’s son. Dillon was happy and bright, beloved by all who met him.
Dillon and Breandan became friends, spending time playing Hurley and adventuring in the way young people do. Their families often visited in those days, riding with their retinues in long, glowing lines that paraded silently through the landscape, striking all who saw them dumb in amazement.
While their Courts were glittering, Rogan could see that all was not well between Niall and Branna. There had been moments over the ages when Rogan had felt himself jealous of his brother, Niall’s kingdom was now the larger, and the problems had been settled, but as he watched the haughty Queen dismiss his brother, parading her lovers, Rogan felt his jealousy slip away. Instead, pride reared its head and Rogan found himself adding his own cutting remarks to Branna’s. Aoife scolded him. As she often did, his wife reminded him of those best instincts within him. She encouraged him to be kind in his victory and things settled. The visits became less frequent, but basking in his sure knowledge that he had the better end of the deal, Rogan settled into the business of being a fair Fae King.
It was a golden time for the Fae, but like every idyllic moment, it was inevitable that things would change, and change they did when the Christians came.
While this newfound religion signaled the start of the golden age for humans, it signaled death and destruction for the Fae. Already, men had multiplied such that their settlements overran the fairy kingdoms. The Gentry found themselves crowded from their lands, human farms seeming to spring up almost overnight. The game started to disappear, and in each town the humans built, moving further and further from the coast, a church was erected with its bell and its hard-faced priest spouting rules about what needed to be done to those who didn’t believe in their Christ.
Humans still feared the Fae, but that fear was no longer mixed with reverence. More often than not, it was now fear mixed with rage. Fae were hunted down and killed and, while the kingdoms fought back, there was little they could do. The humans surrounding them were too many.
Faced with annihilation, the Brigant brothers, along with all their kind who survived these terrible days, retreated deep underground into their strongholds and pulled their glamour around them, hiding their homes from searching eyes. Below the ground, removed from the comfort of sun and soft moon, the Fae lived in their halls, watching the doors with sad eyes, and awaiting the day that humans would forget about them and they could re-emerge.
The years passed. Scouts were regularly sent into the world above and they returned with reports of wars and pestilence. Invaders from foreign lands swept across the land, one set of angry humans replaced by another, but still, the strength and prejudice of the Christian faith remained. The Fae were declared enemies of the humans. They were portrayed as demons and devils. The stories of their true lives faded, but it turned out the memories of priests were long. Finally, after many ages, came the British.
These newest ‘civilizers’ believed in the Christ, too, but their faith was different. It wasn’t aimed at the Fae and other ‘nonbelievers.’ Instead, this new Christianity was aimed at other Christians, and for the first time, the Fae felt hope. The churches and their priests who had inspired the slaughter of the Fae were suppressed and the castles and abbeys of their enemies pulled down. It seemed the signal the Fae had awaited.
Rogan and Niall communicated first through messengers, and then in person. They discussed what they heard and agreed it was time to start bringing their people back into the world. It was a slow business, the Fae becoming travelers and tinkers, filtering into the towns and slowly, carefully, finding trades and occupations that suited them.
To the delight of all, it went well. No one was looking for the Fae anymore. The stories of their existence had changed. When people spoke of them, it was as whimsical creatures with wings and flowers. Humans had bigger problems now, and the Fae were emboldened to find ways to create a permanent place for themselves in the sun.
The first largescale success involved the making of spirits. There were many soldiers in Ireland now, and the brothers turned their people’s talent at brewing to their advantage. Beers, wines, and whiskies were created. The quality was so superior that even the poorest person who could find a coin could forget their troubles in a mug of the Fae’s ale. Soon the wagons of spirits with the sign of the Fae were seen moving over the roads of Ireland.
Rogan and Niall decided to build on that success by buying up the public houses that sat on highway crossroads, offering shelter to travelers. Aside from providing a place for people to buy their brews and a bed for the night, the pubs also offered a place to collect news. The brothers were determined to safeguard their people and nothing moved faster than secrets from tongues loosened with Fae beer.
It was a great age of people moving from one part of the country to another, following the soldiers and the trade they brought and, in no time, the brothers were making more money than either could remember, and securing a place for themselves and their followers in this new world order.
While the coming of the English opened the door for the Fae’s return, there were other aspects of the invasion that presented a high price. The soldiers suppressed more than the fiery-eyed priests. They prohibited any from speaking the language of their people, insisting that all learn the English tongue. The Fae quickly learned there were penalties to their speaking Gaelic and they learned to shape their mouths around the words of these newest invaders, but they were the Fae. It was a simple trick to continue speaking in the purest Gaelic and use glamour to make the words appear otherwise.
What was harder, though, was that the music and the dances of their people were outlawed, too.
These English weren’t content with conquering the land; they had to destroy the culture, wanting none to remember what life had been before their arrival. Soldiers confiscated any musical instruments they found and punished those who danced in the circles, their upper bodies stiff as their feet tapped, threading the steps that had welcomed the turn of seasons for ages untold.
Music, for the Fae, was like breathing air, and dancing like drinking water. It wasn’t possible for any to survive long without either. Rogan watched Aoife grow sad and drawn as her days stretched without the relief of song. Finally, he could stand it no longer. On the next moonlit night, the Fae traveled back to their stronghold and there in the lee of the hill, protected by their shield wall, they danced.
It became a signal between them. They waited for the first crescent, and then for the full moon. They passed signs among their people, waiting for the nights they would gather again to sing and feast.
Niall warned Rogan. He told his brother of the great hordes of humans moving across the south, cutting trees to feed the navies of the English. He told Rogan it was foolhardy to think this defiance would go unnoticed, but Rogan looked at Aoife’s happy face and dismissed his brother. In truth, denying his brother was as much about the old jealousy as doubt.
When Niall’s clan had emerged from their underground forts, it was with more happy news. Dillon, the King’s son, had mated and his lady wife provided him not one, but three children. He had two daughters now, and a son. They had grown tall in the ages they passed underground hidden away from the sun. They were dark haired, like their Father, and blue-eyed as well. His wife named them to honor her family, Claude, Claudine, and Claudia. The only thing that allowed Rogan to greet them without grinding his teeth was that their Mother had passed in bearing them and Dillon had taken a vow to have no other wife. It was unlikely that Niall’s family would see any more children and that gave Rogan some consolation.
Rogan’s own son, Breandan, had shown little interest in taking a wife. He played with lovers, both men and women, but there was no one who called to him. When Rogan brought up the subject, Aoife scolded, telling her husband there was time. Rogan’s head agreed, even if his pride did not, and so Breandan continued to live as he pleased, running one or another of the public houses roaming with his second cousin, Claude.
It was a fine, soft night that saw Aoife struck down.
The moon was full and Rogan’s Queen had taken her retinue to her favorite place up on a hill. The survivors told Rogan afterward how happy his Queen was, her feet moving in quick rhythm, her hair bouncing on her shoulders, just before the rifles opened fire. Before the Fae could react, the soldiers were among them, striking them down with iron swords and lead musket balls. Aoife fell in the first wave. Her people fell around her.
Rogan never discovered who had informed, but it was clear someone had told the English that his Queen and her people would be on the hill that night. The soldiers were lying just behind the ridge, waiting. Everything happened so quickly, there was no time for the Fae to conjure fog or send shades to distract their attackers. There were only a few who escaped and the rest were left broken on the ground. The soldiers must have figured out that something was amiss because all too soon the bodies around them turned to dust. Although they had been told not to talk, they were soldiers. The stories of that night soon filtered through the countryside. ‘You’re cursed,’ the country folk told the British, and Rogan made certain of it.
It didn’t take long to find out who had been involved and Rogan was terrible in his grief. He blamed not only the captain and his ten men, but every man who wore the uniform. Where once Rogan viewed the British as his friends, or at least enemies of his enemy, Rogan now saw them as his mortal foes and he single-handedly started to visit death on them. Some he trapped as they walked alone, and when orders were given to only travel in pairs, Rogan began visiting them as they slept.
Rogan pulled images from their Christian stories, transforming himself into great horned devils and tall, dark demons. He appeared beside beds and near latrines at night, wielding a great knife, stalking them with red, glowing eyes. The countryside was terrorized and Rogan reveled in their fear. When they started introducing more safeguards, Rogan recruited Breandan. The harder it was to trap a soldier, the more Rogan made him suffer. Rogan found delight in listening to their crying and begging, and he encouraged his son to find the same.
While the local people called it a curse, the British High Command did not. There was a great call to find the killer who was plaguing the country to the north. Round-ups of suspicious humans started. When bullying and mistreatment yielded stories of the Fae, the net for suspects grew wider. Soon, not even glamour could distract the British from arresting and questioning Fae. It didn’t stop Rogan.
Breandan pleaded with his Father, asking that he consider the attention he was attracting. Rogan was unmoved.
As the manhunt and reprisals moved south, Niall came north. He rode at the head of his retinue, determined to force Rogan to stop.
Rogan was warned, and he gathered his own forces, meeting Niall in the dead of night, fighting on the grounds of the old stronghold where Niall and his host had taken shelter. Niall dug in and the campaign began. It was a traditional Fae war. There were battles fought until first blood was drawn. There were challenges issued by champions followed by threats and insults. Business suffered as the Kings remained locked in their war.
In violation of all formal rules, Rogan woke one morning to find his brother standing over his bed. Niall seized Rogan and took him, under guard, as his ‘guest.’ “Your grief has sickened you, Brother,” Niall told him. Niall asked Breandan to watch over his Father’s kingdom. “When his grief has expired, he will return,” Niall promised.
For close to fifty years, Niall kept Rogan a prisoner. Every day he came and spent time with his brother. Some days they walked under the sun followed by guards, and other days Niall joined Rogan in the form of a seal, slipping through the waves. Niall reminded Rogan of stories of their youth, and he reminded Rogan of the kindness of Aoife. As the years passed, Rogan felt the heat of his grief falter. The cold hard edge of vengeance remained, but Rogan learned to hide it well.
Finally, one day, Niall came to Rogan and told him the last of the British soldiers who had been alive in those days was dead. “There is no one left who could have hurt her,” Niall told Rogan. “You need to bury your hatred and return to your people.”
“You denied me my vengeance,” Rogan sighed.
“I saved you,” Niall pointed out. “Your vengeance was leading danger to your door. It would have been the dark days of the Christians, only worse. Those invaders would not have stopped until all your folk were gone. You have seen how they seek to kill the spirit of the humans here. They will not be satisfied until all are as them, and we never will be. Aoife never would have wished that.”
“You are right,” Rogan told him, remembering to hang his head. Rogan knew he should have stopped then, remaining silent. His long exile was at an end, but he couldn’t help himself. “I wonder, Brother,” he said to Niall, “What you would have done had you ever truly loved.”
“But I do,” Niall said just as quickly. Rogan snorted, and Niall continued, “Not Branna, it’s true.” He looked away, as if embarrassed to be caught out, and they were boys again. “This woman I love? She’s human,” Niall confessed.
“Human?” Rogan almost laughed but caught himself. He could see it. Niall was serious. His mouth curved up at the thought of her and his eyes were far away. “I’m not talking about dalliances,” Rogan scoffed, determined to test his Brother’s resolve.
“Neither am I,” Niall assured Rogan. “Her name is Adele. I wouldn’t have believed it, but she is every bit as dear to me as your lady wife was to you. I understand your grief. I understand your need for vengeance. Were it her, I would feel the same,” and Niall looked straight at Rogan, “and I would trust you, Brother, to rescue me from myself rather than allow my grief to destroy my people.”
Rogan embraced Niall. He thanked his Brother, but Rogan didn’t forget, or forgive.
Rogan learned to listen for particular stories. He sent messengers and traders south, each looking for clues. None were aware of Rogan’s aim, and he took great care to make certain he appeared happy and content. Eventually, though, the identity and location of Adele Hale became known to him.
She was the natural daughter of a local girl and a soldier. She was renowned for her beauty and grace. It was said she had unnatural blessings and that luck followed her footsteps. Then came the story that Adele was with child. Rogan couldn’t believe it. He sent another who returned with the same story and confirmation that the woman had married a golden stranger. Adele’s husband was known to travel, but all agreed he was as beautiful as Adele, and Rogan knew that stranger was none other than Niall Brigant.
It was unbelievable. Niall had violated two cardinal rules. He married this woman according to Christian rites, something forbidden to the Fae, and he gave her the gift of a child. Fae might not be able to control their reproduction with other Fae, but giving humans offspring was a choice, and one that was considered disgraceful. This child would be a hybrid, a mongrel. It might have magic or not, but in all cases its very existence could create a crisis for the people of his kingdom. Their King’s indulgence endangered his kingdom but Rogan never considered an intervention. Instead, Rogan considered his revenge.
Claude, Niall’s grandson, was a regular visitor to Rogan’s kingdom. As before, Claude and Breandan were often together. Rogan could see that the relationship between the men was more than flirtation, but love among Fae was fickle. Love today would turn to boredom in a century, and so Rogan focused on the opportunity their relationship created.
Rogan introduced the subject of Adele to Claude. He was patient. He fed small details and hints. Rogan knew Claude favored his Mother, and that this news would eventually filter to Branna. It was only a matter of time.
It took less than a month. Rogan knew because stories of Branna’s rage traveled swiftly, carried by the new telephone service that linked the towns. Branna demanded the truth and, in his misery, Niall confessed everything. Then, to the astonishment of all, Niall refused to repudiate Adele. Instead, he declared his love for this woman in front of witnesses, and the Fae of Niall’s kingdom took sides.
Branna’s long-simmering hatred boiled over and she called for Niall’s overthrow. Battle lines were drawn and Niall’s own family split apart. Claude and Claudia followed their Mother. Dillon and Claudine sided with Niall. Fae borders closed and businesses shut down. The humans were too busy to notice anything amiss. Across the waters, there were battles of another kind. Great World Wars raged, and the shores of Ireland saw human invaders of many sorts, but for the Fae, only one War counted, the War of the Kin declared by Branna against Niall Brigant.
Breandan demanded to be released to go fight alongside his Lover, but Rogan refused him permission. “They may fight themselves to the death,” Rogan told his son, “and we must be certain there is someone left to continue the name Brigant.” Rogan knew his decision caused a rift to form between himself and his son, but Rogan held firm, telling Breandan, “Better to be angry than dead.”
It was a Spring night when the final battle came. There were no courtesies this time, no champions named to represent the sides. The Fae trooped up the sides of the mountains far to the south and they fought in a way not seen since their world was new. Claudia was slain, and then Branna, and when the Queen fell, the support for her faction slipped away. No more would the haughty Queen’s voice be heard, and one by one, the Fae lay down their weapons.
When Rogan heard Niall had emerged victorious, he was furious. It had all been for naught. In the end, his brother, his enemy had survived, and things would be as they had been. Rogan called for his truck and he headed south. He drove through the night, using the moon to guide him rather than headlights that might be spotted by soldiers or airplanes overhead. It took hours and hours, but finally, Rogan arrived at the path that led to the house where Adele was said to live. ‘If I take her, I will hold Niall’s heart in my hand,’ Rogan thought.
He rushed up the pathway, intent on surprising her, but what he found was an empty house. Adele was gone and from the looks of things, had been for some time.
Rogan returned to his truck and drove on until he was at the hidden path that led to Niall’s stronghold. He was sure that Niall would go to ground, gathering his people around him, using history and physical proximity to heal the divisions that had brought them so low. Rogan was right.
The guards recognized him and brought him to Niall. “Come to celebrate my victory?” Niall didn’t bother to hide his suspicion.
“I am grateful to see you,” Rogan bowed.
“Perhaps you would have been happier to see another sitting here,” Niall observed.
“You are my brother,” Rogan protested. “We are linked. No one comes before us or our people.” Rogan bowed low again, and when he rose, he could see Niall still didn’t believe him.
“Do you miss her?” Niall asked. It seemed odd that Niall asked about Aoife, and Rogan wondered If Niall knew of Rogan’s earlier stop.
“The air is less sweet,” Rogan replied. “And will you miss your woman?”
Niall never hesitated, “It will be as if a piece of me is gone forever.”
Rogan nodded. In this, at least, they found common ground. Rogan remained with his brother for many years, trusting Breandan to watch over things in his absence. Rogan used his time with his brother productively. He advocated for Claude’s release from prison and improved his relationship with Claudine. The brothers discussed how best to move their mutual interests into the world of technology and the peace that would inevitably follow the wars of men. Mostly, Rogan listened for any hint of where Niall had secreted Adele Hale, but if any knew, they didn’t say.
Finally, Rogan headed home, but he sent out word to bring any whisper of a human woman with a half-Fae child to his ears. He knew it was only a matter of time.