Song of Winter(5)

By: May Sage

So slowly and regretfully, he moved farther away from her. Vale got up from the bed, walked to the curved window, and gazed down upon Elvendale, keeping his distance.

Devi seemed confused, and with good reasons.

Under guise of an explanation, Vale stated, “I believe my mother may have spelled me, little elf. Perhaps both of us. This thing between us is…” What was it, exactly? “… abnormal.”

Devi frowned and repeated, “Spelled us?”

Yes, well, that was his best theory.

Vale nodded. “I’ve seen obsession spells in the old days. They’re outlawed in the unseelie court now; they have been since the death of Tenaliel Trenar. Do you know of her?”

“I don’t,” Devi replied curtly.

She was vexed, obviously.

“She was a young beauty my mother singled out. She greeted her and invited her to court often. No one at court sang like the Lady Tenaliel. And it wasn’t the only thing she did well: she was a fantastic lover by all accounts, with the appetite of a goddess of sensuality. I had the pleasure of sharing her bed once or twice myself, and I can personally attest to the validity of those tales.”

“Is there a point to this…” Devi paused to find her words. “… fascinating story.”

“There is. Tenaliel refused to choose mates, although many proposed; instead of binding her fate to a handful of consorts like most females of the court, she opened her legs to whomever she wanted for centuries. In the year 2893 of this age, she took a knight as her companion. She gifted him with something she’d never given anyone else: exclusivity. It lasted for a year, perhaps two. Then Tenaliel went back to what she loved best.”

“As was her right,” said Devi.

Vale didn’t argue, echoing her words in agreement. “As was her right. The knight didn’t take it well, however. He paid a sorcerer to concoct an obsession spell and gave it to his lady. At first, all was well. She shunned others, male and female alike, desiring no one but him. How glad he was. How proud. Soon, they were announcing an engagement. You know how rare it is for our kind to bind ourselves to one individual for life. Sometimes, high fae agree to a hundred-year contract, mostly when the rights of succession are of some importance. My mother and father made such a vow. But marriage? That’s for the lesser fae, who won’t live long enough to regret an eternal oath. But they vowed under the stars that they would love each other until the end of time. The whole court was present to witness the oath and wish them well. It was thought a rather romantic thing at the time. The male’s machinations weren’t yet known.”

“And then?” Devi prompted.

Her irritation had given way to curiosity.

“And then things changed. Tenaliel couldn’t bear to be away from her husband, not even for an instant. She screamed and yelled, driving herself mad when he had to go on guard duty, and she sobbed until he returned. Once, the knight had to leave for five days, so his beautiful, melancholic, mad wife climbed up the highest tower in Wolven Fort and threw herself down.”

The years hadn’t made that memory less heinous.

“My mother cared for Tenaliel a great deal, so she called the knight and questioned him until he confessed to his deeds. He was punished accordingly, and obsession spells were banned from court.”

“What a terrible fate. I do hope his punishment was severe.”

Vale laughed without humor. “It was certainly fitting. Mother had one last spell cast before her ban took effect. From that day onward, and until the end of his days, that knight is bound to Shea. He cannot survive without her touch, without living by her side. She took care to ensure he’d never love her, yet he’s obsessed with her. Sometimes, she denies him her presence for a few days, pushing him to the brink of despair.” Vale shook his head. “Some call me cruel, and I tell them I am my mother’s son. The court had no love for the knight after his betrayal, but now, five hundred years later, there is no one among us who doesn’t pity him.”

“You talk of Drake,” Devi guessed. “I noticed that he seems to adore and despise Shea. I did wonder why.”

Smart female.