10.1 Disbelief

by Matt P.

Walter stared at Morgan for a long moment as he took in her revelation. A small part of his brain thought that he had spent far too much time since he moved to Border being bewildered—it could have been on the tourism flyers. Bewildered in Border!

It was an absurd thought, and he knew it, and it almost made him laugh, which he suspected would not be a wise move in front of someone who had just pronounced themselves the Queen of Air and Darkness. Walter took in the woman in front of him, barefoot and wearing sweatpants, and he boggled for a second longer.

“Would it help if I changed into a silk dress and put some heels on?” Morgan asked with wry amusement, kicking her legs again with a wry grin. “Or if I used magic to call the wind and rearrange the room a little bit? I can do it, but I’d prefer not to.”

Walter kept looking at her for a long moment as if he might find the answer hidden in the strands of her hair, the smirk of her lips, or the fold of her sweatpants. “I don’t believe in magic.” Walter answered after a long moment. Morgan blinked slowly as if she was processing that before she let out an explosivve burst of laughter that was warm and melodic, like chimes on the summer breeze. She spent a few long moments laughing, holding her hands up in front of her face before she calmed herself down.

“That was…perfect.” She said when she’d regained her breath. “I’ve told great many people who I am since I’ve been it, and no one has ever responded like that. You are unique among the centuries, Walter Richards. Perfect.” She laughed again, before she reached up to brush back some hair.

Siobhan, Antigone, and Ryan all stared at them like they had lost their minds before they too regained their ability to speak. Antigone ooh’d, as if she had remembered something. “I thought that you said that Mab and Titania were the previous queens, but then you called yourself Mab.”

Morgan nodded, smiling a little bit. “They’re names, but they’re also titles. Or maybe…personae, more accurately?” She offered. “The Queen of Winter is always referred to as Mab, and the Queen of Summer as Titania. It wasn’t their names either, although I don’t know what their names were. I remember mine, but I don’t give it out lightly, and normally extract great promises from those who want it.” At those last words she looked to Walter, and wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. He laughed, as the girls made various gagging noises which made Morgan laugh, until Siobhan continued.

“Why did you kick him out?” She queried.

That question made Morgan recover her composure quickly, although humor still glinted in her eyes. “In order to answer that I have to tell you why he was what he was. Normally Faerie is ruled over by the two Queens. As one gains in power, the other loses it—the seasons come and go, one court rules until it is their time to pass it. We are tied to the seasons far more than fully mortal men ever were, even in the days when the seasons ruled their lives far more than today.” Morgan explained. “But even with the flow of power waxing and waning, major decisions are still collegial, in the old sense—made jointly between the Summer and Winter, regardless of season, when they effect all of our world or yours. But we recognized that sometimes there was a need for more direct action than two consuls could execute.” She answered, looking to Walter as the children looked blankly.

“When Rome faced an emergency,” Walter explained, “they could pass a law appointing a dictator. The dictator had greater powers than any normal Roman official, could pass laws by decree, and was absolute and unquestionable during or after his time—and they always had a time limit, until Caesar was made dictator in perpetuity. And then he got all stabbed and junk.” He ended with a pretense of speaking like a teenager.

“Like you do.” Antigone said helpfully, to keep up the illusion.

“So Oberon was a dictator who decided to make himself a Caesar?” Walter asked. Morgan nodded solemnly.

“We had a great war, that began well before I was born. Oberon was our greatest leader and general, married to one of the queens and brother-in-law to the other, and a master on the field of battle. We crowned him in gold and glory, and set the very stars about him for his triumph.” Morgan explained, her voice taking on the far-off quality of memory as she saw a vision of what had been.

“And he turned in to a super dick?” Antigone asked.

“Oh yes.” Morgan said with a sigh. “As great as he was, he was also vain. And that vanity would not let him take off the crown—a common problem for politicians. Term limits not having been invented, more drastic measures had to be taken. In the course of the coup it became apparent that we needed new Queens, too…for a variety of reasons I don’t want to go in to.” She said honestly, shrugging. “When the dust settled Oberon was banished permanently, even if we couldn’t kill him, and we found ourselves as the new ones.”

“So he wnts back in?” Walter asked, althugh from the tone of his voice he knew the answer before he asked the question. Morgan nodded solemnly.

“Yes. And if he is willing to have his men attack the children in the school like Tania said, then I fear he is willing to go farther than ever before to get back in.” She answered, her tone the hush of someone afraid to speak of someone who might be near, or the quiet of a child who feared the violent response of an angry parent.