Cali McKinnon's

Fae Chronicles

When You Wish

1. Arianna’s Bidding

It was Arianna’s year to preside as Queen Consort in the rituals for Beltane, the beginning of summer festival.  This year she was twenty-two, and uncommonly old to still be a maiden.  She had been hand-fasted in her sixteenth year but her betrothed, the man she had been certain would be her soul mate, had met an untimely death in a skirmish of clans.  Since that day, Arianna had delved into her Druidic training, ever diligent of becoming the best in the art of healing, ever negligent of her personal life.

Time passed quickly during the arduous hours spent memorizing symptoms, medicinal recipes, and all the herbs and plants needed to perform her duties as a healer.  Before Arianna realized it, she was childless and beyond what was considered a suitable age to be marrying.  However, that didn’t worry her, she liked her life unencumbered by a husband to whom she must answer, and if he wasn’t a true soul mate, she was certain that was all a husband would be--an encumbrance. 

Her old teacher, the Druidess Moira, had explained to her about soul mates.  For an example, Moira had cited the unusual love and respect that Arianna’s parents had for one another.  She hadn’t had the opportunity to know them very long, but it was immediately clear to her that her parents had been true soul mates, and they had loved one another dearly. 

Arianna thought often of her parents and although she didn’t remember her mother well since Sigourney had died when Arianna was very young, she thought the sun rose and set in her father.  She had lived with him for several more years after her mother had died.  Her memories were of a large gentle man who had respected everyone, particularly women and children.  He even arranged it so that Arianna was to be educated and cared for in his absence.  Her father had been a man who respected a woman’s independence and intelligence.  It was understandable to her that her mother had loved him so, but the other men Arianna had known tended to be demanding, arrogant, and were sometimes rough with their women and negligent of their children.  Arianna preferred loneliness to those options.   

Now she was expected to participate in the Druidic rituals at the Beltane festival.  The Druid priest, Jahal, had chosen her as his consort.  Jahal had been suggesting that she should marry, and she was sure this would be just the thing that would encourage him to expect her to wed him.  Jahal wasn’t bad or evil; she just found his attitude to be aloof, rough, and unbecoming of a Druid priest.  To Arianna the priesthood was life itself.  He would most certainly not suit her as a husband with his bossy, almost arrogant, ways.  She did long for a child though--her own child to raise and love.  It was this thought that sent her to the faery mound to bid a favor, one she knew would be a miracle were it granted. 

The faery mound was an oblong hillock, barely as tall as she was and about twenty paces long.  Its gently sloping sides were covered in a lush green grass.  That night it had an almost otherworld quality about it, shimmering in the light of the full moon with a light mist of fog gathering at its base.  Legend said that if you made a sincere request of the faeries after circling the mound three times on the night of a full moon, that the request would be granted.  Magic or miracle, Arianna didn’t care.  She believed many things that might seem foolish were possible if one had faith. 

 

That night, Arianna scrupulously performed the ritual to request a boon of the faeries.  It was her sincerity that caught the attention of Ghildor.  Her prayer, “Oh great faeries, sentinels of the earth, hear my plea.  Intervene and keep me from the grasp of an unsuitable marriage with a man such as Jahal, but grant me a suitable, sensible consort that I might have a child to raise and love--a child to train to the priesthood.”  The simple bidding was more a young woman’s crying out against what she saw as a hopeless situation than that she believed in faeries or that they answered wishes if they existed.

 

Ghildor was one of the least likely Sidhe fae to answer a human’s bidding.  In fact, he preferred just to ignore humans completely unless they were partying.  However, Ghildor had been fascinated at the intensity with which Arianna addressed life and her healer’s duties.  She was a Druidess of uncommon talent who had been mentored by an elder Druidess born of an ancient bloodline of healers.  He was aware of Arianna’s childhood, and of the parents that she had lost at a very young age.  In fact, he knew quite a lot about this beautiful young maiden.

Still, he thought he was beyond being surprised at the things humans would say and do, yet he was intrigued that a human female of the time in which she lived would have such an attitude.  Here was a healthy human woman who wanted a child, but didn’t want the encumbrance of the customary relationship required to get one.  “So strange these humans are,” he mused, thinking that all she had to do was go to the Beltane festival, experience the abandonment of a little lusty love and, surely, she would bear a child by midwinter.  Of course, there was no certainty to it.  What to do?  Should I respond to her request?  “Well, not to worry, Beltane is still days away my dear,” he mumbled thoughtfully to himself.

The life of a faery could be quite boring.  Given that they live so much longer than humans do, Ghildor had long since lost any idea how long he’d been in existence.  He was bored now, and being that Seelie Court faeries liked humans, and occasionally visited them, he decided to pay a visit to Arianna.  Maybe he would grant her the wish--if she were indeed sincere and worthy.  He’d been aware of her since she was a child and he knew she was a gifted healer and a model Druidess, but that he could remember, she had never requested a boon for herself, though he had often heard her whispered prayers that some injured person or animal would survive and heal.

 

Ghildor chose a dark persona to appear before Arianna.  Appearing among humans without hiding his true appearance behind the persona would be too much of a shock for them. 

Now that he’d chosen this course, he would play it out in style.  His favorite human form was a tall, lithe body much like his own in shape, though more muscular, and more human, of course.  This time though he would have dark hair, dark blue eyes, and of course, flesh and bone.  As to personality, kindness and charm would be in order.  He could handle that easily enough since he’d studied human habits for ages and it was natural for Ghildor to be charming anyway.  Arianna’s visitor would be suitable to her, of that he was certain.

 

Late the next evening after her visit to the faery mound, Arianna was sitting by the hearth considering her options for the Beltane festival, contemplating how she should handle the situation with Jahal.  Someone knocked lightly on the door.  It was a bit late for visitors, but it was not unusual for someone in need of her healing skills to call at this hour.  Answering quickly, she found that it wasn’t someone from the village, but a stranger, and a very handsome one at that. 

“Dear lady, I beg you forgive my intrusion, but I was told in the village that a Druidess of significant healing skills lived in this general area.  Would you know where I might find her?” he queried politely.

“That would be me,” she answered shyly.  “What would be your business this late evening?’

 “I am on a journey and have encountered a difficulty that I am certain will require some healing and a gentle hand,” Ghildor responded, looking somewhat awkwardly down to a slight bulge at the left side of his cloak just at his waist. 

Well, Arianna wasn’t a healer for nothing, surely he had injured and bound himself and now needed her care, so she invited him in.  Offering him a seat near the hearth, she proceeded to put some water on to boil and allow him time to become comfortable enough to confide in her.  While turned away from him, she offered to prepare a tea, to which Ghildor responded gently, “Perhaps a little warm milk should you have it.” 

The request bewildered Arianna.  Milk, was usually not what someone who was injured would think to request.  It was then that she heard a faint mewling sound and turned quickly to see Ghildor gently removing two small kittens from a pouch hidden beneath his cloak.  She was awed at the care and gentleness in a man for many would not have bothered.  In fact, there was an almost motherly quality in his care of the little golden kitten, which appeared to be injured as well as being a helpless baby.

 Gathering a nearby wool cloth, Arianna went over to take the kittens.  “Where did you find them?” she asked quietly, not wanting to frighten them.

 “Near the road where I rested not long ago.  They began mewing and when I checked about I found that their mother had been mortally injured and was unable to make it back to them,” Ghildor responded honestly.  It was just his luck to happen upon the situation and to be able to help.  The fae are easily bored and prone to mischief, but by nature, the Seelie Court faeries protect man and the other creatures of the earth--loving them all.  Finding the kittens was just a coincidence that provided the perfect introduction to a Druidess with healing powers and the tender heart he knew Arianna possessed.

Checking them over carefully, Arianna discovered that the little golden kitten wasn’t injured, but had apparently just had a paw tangled in the cloth lining the pouch in which they had been carried.  She was elated they were healthy and rushed about getting some warm milk and a low basket for them.  “Neither appears to be injured, and they are just about old enough to begin eating solid foods, so you could try to give them a small portion of cooked fish or poultry tomorrow in addition to some milk or broth.  It will not take the two of them long to learn to hunt on their own since neither appears to be injured.  Kittens grow and learn so quickly.  Will you be traveling long?”

“That is why I brought the kittens here.  I had hoped you might care for them, as I must be on my way.  I have only the two days to reach Kilmartin, and I will not be able to care for them while traveling.  I hated to leave them to the mercy of the wilderness and hope that if you cannot care for them that you might know of someone.”  Ghildor sighed wearily at this point plying a bit of the faery mischief for her sympathy.  Nevertheless, he was truly enamored with the lovely smile that brightened her eyes to a brilliant, sparkling blue--almost a glacial blue.  He also sensed a strong independence, intelligence, and a deep compassion for life in her.  Yes, he’d made up his mind already.  This was a human who serves others, who knows what she wants.  She is worthy of having such a sincere wish granted.

Noting his weariness, and thoroughly enjoying his company, Arianna invited Ghildor to share her evening meal and tell her more about his travels.  As the evening wore on, he regaled her with tales of travels to places of which she’d never heard.  Ghildor was enjoying himself so much that he didn’t seem to notice her watching him more intensely than normal. 

Actually, Arianna had begun to feel that he was more than just a traveler in need of her help and companionship.  There was something about his eyes and his subtle seductive manner that seemed to calm and assure her.  She’d never met anyone like this glorious, gentle, kind stranger, and she was being swept away quickly by his charm. 

Late into the evening, Arianna made eye contact and gently reached out mentally to search Ghildor’s soul employing a Druid technique rarely used except in the higher levels of training, and even then with care as it was considered a somewhat rude intrusion. 

Ghildor sensed her searching and stopped mid-sentence.  “You are concerned about my intentions, are you not?” he asked quietly.  “It is understandable, as the hour grows late and here I sit with you, alone in your dwelling.  Go ahead and ask.  I know you are perplexed now that you have tried to read me, even though I must admit you really must not be very good at it, or else you just took a quick peek.  Shall I open my defenses somewhat to make it easier for you?”

Arianna blushed heavily.  Yes, it was just a peek, yet however innocent, it was an intrusion.  However, even the most well trained Druids, would never have been aware she’d queried.  “Nay, you need not make any concessions to me.  I will ask, for I sense you are honorable and you will give me the truth.  Who are you, and why are you here?  Are you Druid educated?”

“Oh how I will enjoy this explanation,” Ghildor stated in almost a whisper.  “Let me see, one answer at a time.  I am Ghildor, as I told you when I came to your door.  I am here because you wished it.  Note that I said ‘wished’ instead of ‘wish’ although I think either would be appropriate at the moment.  And no, I am not Druid.  What you should have asked is not who I am, but what?  For you see, I am one of the ‘faeries’ as you call us, although I prefer to be known as one of the Sidhe fae, or sith, and I am here at your bidding.”

Now Arianna was truly perplexed.  Faeries?  She’d thought of them as spirits, wee folk or tiny creatures if they even existed, not tall, handsome young men.  The old tales of faeries visiting humans were surely just that--tales.  What response could she possibly make at this point?  While rarely at a loss for words, Arianna found herself hesitating.

Ghildor sensed her confusion and decided it was best just to let her work it out for herself.  He leaned over and gently stroked the kittens moving the basket a little farther from the hearth, as they were warm now and nestled in their wool bedding.  Sitting up, he simply smiled to Arianna with warmth that invited trust.

“How would you answer my bidding?  And, why?” she finally asked.

“First, you asked not to have to preside at Beltane with Jahal.  You will not have to, for he will meet someone else who will become his preferred consort.  All you have to do is mention that you need to travel with someone else to Kilmartin and then come with me for the day; Jahal will readily accept that.  You can still attend Beltane festivities if you wish, but you will not be expected to preside in the rituals of course since his new choice will do so.  As to why I would do it, you have never requested anything for yourself before, so I became interested.  The more I thought about it, the more I watched you, the more interested I became.  After meeting you here in person, I am certain it was the right decision.  Now I offer, because I want to.”  The last phrase was soft, almost a whisper.

“And what of the other part?  Can a faery, I mean sith, grant children, or would you steal one for me?  We have tales of the faeries stealing children you know.”  Arianna said this rather mockingly, with the light in her eyes sparkling playfully.  She was entranced with this being and found his logic and honesty refreshing.  For some innate reason she felt no fear of him, no reason not to trust him.

At her last statement, Ghildor chuckled under his breath and smiled rather seductively.  “No, I will not steal a child for you.  However, I can give you a child, just as a human male could.  It is rarely done--even more rarely in recent years since my kind withdraw more from human contact each year--and, it will exact a toll should you decide upon this course.  For your child, I say ‘your child’ because I shall lay no claim to the child as that was part of your request, will be unique and most likely very gifted in comparison to fully human children.  Life will be difficult for one with such extraordinary gifts.  I believe you did not want the encumbrance of a husband fettering you, so I shall only observe, and never interfere with your lives unless you request it.  Now you must think this over, for we sith may be a bit carefree and mischievous by nature, but I do find you to be a very intriguing human Arianna, and I never want to hurt you, nor see you hurt.” 

Arianna gasped quietly at that.  The more she knew him, the more she wanted to know him.  The men she knew paled in comparison, seeming so base and insensitive compared to what she sensed in him.  “And what would you expect in return, Ghildor?”

“The chance to make love to you and see you delight in it.  To see you happy thereafter with the child you want, and, selfishly, I want to feel the intensity of human love.  If what I already feel just thinking of being with you is possible, I am not certain I am prepared for the doing.  And no, before you ask, I have never loved a human, and the Sidhe fae share a different sort of intimate communion.” 

At this point all Arianna could do was just sit quietly and muse about the possibility.  Would it be wrong to accept this gift?  She shook her head gently and inquired of him “Are you really traveling?  Where will you stay this night?”

“Yes, I am truly on my way to Kilmartin and the Beltane festival there.  I enjoy traveling, and some companions will be there this summer.  As to where I will stay tonight, any place and time I wish, we only travel as humans to experience the simple pleasures and pains of human life.”

There was a long pause before she asked, “And the kittens, was it true they had lost their mother?”

“Yes, I try never to deceive, and especially not at the expense of such innocents as two kittens,” he said truthfully.  “I should be on my way now.  Before I go, would you have me intercede so that you do not have to participate as Jahal’s consort in the Beltane rites?  Since the feast is in two days, it would be best to introduce him to his new consort tomorrow so that you have time to speak with him before the festival should that be your choice.”

Arianna rose and walked over to check the kittens sleeping near Ghildor’s feet.  Then she turned to him, reached out and gently stroked his face, passing caressing fingertips through his dark hair, and said impulsively, “Aye, I would like that.  I would like you to stay a while.  I would like to commune with you.”

Ghildor trembled at her touch, so warm and soft.  He took her hand, pressed it to his lips, and kissed it gently.  Her fragrance was flowers and spices.  Standing, he cupped her face in his hands and gently kissed her lips.  Soft, warm, and inviting, with a delicate hint of the herb tea she’d been drinking.  He wanted more, so much more.  His kisses increased in intensity and she responded with an awakening that he hadn’t expected. 

“Are you certain?” he asked in almost a whisper.  “Once we begin this journey, there will be no going back.”

“I am positive,” she replied.

Gently, he eased her to the furs near the hearth.  They remained there for a moment, kneeling, facing each other as he searched her eyes, as if he were still in doubt whether to continue.  Then Ghildor reached gently and caressed her throat, leaning closer to plant kisses from her ear to the gentle swell of her breast. 

“Aye,” Arianna purred in response, “I like that.”  He kissed along the other side of her throat, down to the fullness of her breast, his heart beating rapidly as he experienced what was a very human-like reaction to the intimacy.  New to such feelings, and wanting more, his kisses quickly turned more passionate, more demanding. 

Arianna, began slowly trying to loosen his shirt, she wanted to caress his chest and shoulders, to slide her hands along the muscles of his back, to touch his skin.  Finally, his shirt fell free and her breath caught when she realized how beautiful and perfect a male could be, for Ghildor’s body was perfect. 

Watching her eyes intently, Ghildor realized how new this all was to both of them, yet how eager they had become.  He wanted more, all of her, to touch her, to feel the warmth of her touch, to inhale her soft fragrance, to experience the surging human emotions and feelings that swept through him when he touched her. 

He gently began removing the over-tunic of her dress.  Piece at a time, layer at time, he was determined he would savor this experience that was his first, maybe his last, of this kind.  He kissed her shoulders, her arms, and the swell of her breasts where they rose above her bodice.  Finally, her breasts were free, and he gently kissed from the edges to the nipple, nibbling lightly at the nipple.  With his unique fae senses, he was aware of the sensations Arianna was experiencing, that his actions were sending waves that felt like fire through Arianna, to the very core of her being. 

Ghildor wanted her to enjoy this, so he made every effort to discover those things that made her smile, tingle, gasp, or moan in response, and he found that it worked almost magically.  Slowly they disrobed one another, each exploring the other’s body, both taking and giving pleasure in the doing.  He kissed from her breasts along her trim stomach.  Along the tops and inside of her thighs the skin was so soft, white, and kissable that he lingered, committing the sights and sensations to his inestimable faerie memory.

She thought that surely he had not been truthful.  He was too skilled at teasing and tempting her desires not to have done this many times before.  Arianna was still a maiden, but she’d spoken with many women of the community.  She was certain this was a skilled lover giving her pleasures beyond any dream she’d ever had.  He was patient and careful to take her to the point of crying out in bliss, bringing her to beg for more multiple times.  Each time, as she recovered her senses, she realized he was waiting, watching her as though savoring the sight of her trembling recovery.

Then, kissing her deeply he proceeded to fulfill his promise.  He entered as slowly and gently as his impatient body would allow, pausing just long enough to let her catch her breath, continuing when she urged him for more.  Her pleadings soon became urgent, almost frantic, and he was carried along with the intense rhythm of her desire.  When her muscles started their contractions of pleasure he could wait no more and finally released what seemed like an eternity of pain, ecstasy, pleasure, anger, love--a whole spectrum of human feelings and sensations fused into one moment while his body tensed and released in powerful physical waves.

It seemed eons before Ghildor felt the normal sensations of the body housing his spirit.  When he realized where he was, he looked down and saw Arianna smiling smugly.  Easing away, he stretched out beside her on the furs. 

Sated, they lay side by side near the hearth, warmed to the core though naked and uncovered.  Ghildor cradled her in his arms and she lay listening to his strong steady heartbeat.  Only as a small child, had she felt so happy, calm, and secure--so loved--as she did at this moment.  Can a faery love?  Surely, that is what this feeling is.  But thinking such a thing is folly, she chided herself.  We have only just met and this is little more than a business arrangement.

“No,” Ghildor responded.  “I may seem a stranger to you, but I have known of you all of your life.  And no, this is not ‘little more than a business arrangement.’  Something so wonderful could not be.  And yes, fae can love.  Sometimes we love too intensely.  It is our nature to be lighthearted, but I think it is an effort not to love and not to become entangled with others we will eventually lose.  I have loved tonight, physically and with my spirit.  You have given me a special gift and now I know I will never be the same again.  I see why our elders advise us to steer away from humans.  Touching you draws us in, and when we share your passions and emotions, we only want for more.”

Arianna lay quietly, and then asked, “Did you hear me thinking?  Do you always hear my thoughts?”

Ghildor just chuckled lightly and responded, “Not always, usually only when I make an effort to.  Right now, I am so sensitive to your every want, desire, and thought that it was almost as though you shouted the words.”

 

The next morning Arianna went to Jahal and told him she would be attending the Beltane festival with someone else.  He put on a show of being disappointed, but clearly was not concerned overmuch. 

“I am certain I will find a suitable consort.  Do have a safe journey, Arianna,” he quickly dismissed her. 

Well, Ghildor had been true to his word, she could live her life freely now without the arrogant Jahal dictating to her.  However, she still wondered whether her life would be alone now, or whether she would have the child she wanted.

Ghildor and Arianna went to Kilmartin for the Beltane festival.  Upon their return to Ardmuir, they spent another evening of passionate love making together.  In the morning, he kissed her deeply and let her know that per their agreement he had to leave her.  Silently, he regretted it for he had truly found the time with her immensely satisfying.

Gently caressing Arianna’s abdomen he declared, “You now have your child--a son.  You will not have to tell him about me, but if you want you may give him this amulet.”  He handed her a small simple amulet that had been enclosed in his other hand.  “Holding this amulet and saying this spell, he can ask that a wish will be granted.  If need be, he can summon me.”  He repeated the spell so Arianna could memorize it and then he kissed her lightly and according to the request she had made at the faery mound, he left--disappearing before her eyes. 

Arianna clutched the amulet, still warm from his grasp, to her breast and muttered “And what of me?  What if I need you, Ghildor?”  But, the room was empty.

 

In the dead of winter, Arianna delivered her son and named him Cainnech.  It was a gentle birthing despite being her first and during a very cold winter at that.  From the beginning Cainnech was as Ghildor had warned, uncommonly gifted.  However, he was also strong and healthy.  He was a good baby who loved to watch Arianna, and he seemed intent to absorb all he saw of his surroundings.

Cainnech’s initiation into Druidic training began very early due to his clever mind and maturity.  By the age of fourteen, he was also an accomplished hunter having been trained by Hamish from the nearby village of Ardmuir.  Yet, true to his Druidic training, he preferred assisting animals and nature, only hunting when needed for food and then as humanely as possible.  He was faithful to his beliefs and always gave thanks for the animal and the earth for providing the bounty of the hunt and food, always mindful of the fact that nothing that could be used should be wasted.

By the age of sixteen Cainnech had begun journeying away from the village to train with the master swordsman Sir Duncan MacDugall in the arts of war.  He was already proficient with bow and arrow from hunting, so Duncan started training him in swordplay and horsemanship.  Cainnech took to both with his normal proficiency and determination to be the best at anything he undertook.  He had grown into a tall strong young man.  His movements were almost graceful which gave him a regal air and a flare for swordplay.  As Ghildor had warned, Cainnech was exceptional in many ways. 

* * * * *