11.3 Worst Case?

by Matt P.

“What do you want to know?” Morgan asked in response to Walter’s words. She looked…unsettled, somehow, as if speaking the truth would make things real she didn’t want to be. Like dangers would come out just by speaking them.

“What is it, exactly, what your father is planning on doing?” Walter asked. “What exactly happened with him, too—all I know about him is his apparent proclivity for having children, and that he is a scary as hell Fairy King. Which is still insane to say out loud.”

Morgan and Tania considered each other for a moment before Tania shrugged, and Morgan leaned in to rest her elbows on her knees. “OK, so we’re going to have to get past the magic thing to explain any of this, or we’re going to be here all day. So can we just go with it being real, an get over whatever this thing is?”

Walter smirked a little bit at that, and shrugged. “It’s not that I don’t believe you’re doing the things you say you are.” He explained. “I’ve seen you pull swords out of nowhere, change what you look like, and I’ve watched people disappear in my closet. My objection isn’t to the things existing—because they obviously do, but calling it magic is bull.”

That caused both Faerie women, and Ryan, to blink. Morgan smirked a little bit, while Tania just looked at Walter as if considering a crazy man. “Magic is what we call something we don’t understand. Fire was magic, and lightning was magic, and coincidence was magic. Describe what it is that you do, and I’ll accept it—but I don’t believe there is just some unexplained thing you can do that is magic.” Walter finished explaining.

Morgan nodded, consideringly. She crossed her legs and took on an abstracted look, as if she was trying to figure out how to describe sight to a blind man or hearing to the deaf. Her hair began to slowly drift about her and floated like they were moving on a very gentle breeze. Tania looked at her curiously as she did it, but didn’t interrupt.

“It is like…reaching out with another sense.” Morgan explained, as she stopped whatever it is that she had been doing. “It is touching something that feels like light, like the gentle tingle of electricity, and turning a part of you toward the sun. And using that warmth to do what you want. For us it feels very natural, because we are part of nature and so is it.” Walter listened to that thoughtfully, as if trying to wrap his head around it.

“So it’s a sense?” He asked in follow up. Morgan grimaced.

“I know I described it that way, but that’s just kind of the way it feels. And when you refine your abilities with it you can sense when others use it, but…” Morgan gesticulated vaguely, to highlight the inadequacy of words. “It is more than that. We teach ourselves that it is as the Greeks said, the element that dances in the spaces between all the other elements. The quintessence that charges life and gives it vitality, what makes the wild…wild.” She offered. “So it might be that we are interacting with the world in a way that science cannot explain yet.”

“Or,” Tania interjected, her tone one of someone helping a particularly dim-witted child, “It could be magic and we could all get along with our lives.” She said, pointedly to Morgan. “He’s said he knows it is actually happening, so he isn’t dumb—just get to it.”

Morgan eyed her back, but then looked to Walter and shrugged. “It isn’t a terrible point. Whatever it is we do, we can do it. And there are times when it is possible for people to do more or less magic, based on what kind of person they are and how they interact with the world. We are the children of the wild, and so our tie to the magic is tied to the seasons. As the two Queens of Faerie we are equal at the equinox, and our powers are at their highest at the solstice. But at the very minute of the solstice is also a moment of transition—when power begins to flow out instead of in. In that moment of transition, there is danger.”

Tania nodded at that. “When we took power from the previous Queens we did so at the solstice, seizing that moment and their power. It is also why it is impossible, without being willing to blow a lot of other power all at once, to take over for both Queens at once. We did it by simultaneously destroying the powers of the High King.”

“And it appears,” Morgan finished, “That our father is going to do something similar by depleting some of our oldest artifacts and use it, with the power transfer of the solstice, to merge Border and Faerie in to one place. Both will exist in the same spaces but they will both be irrevocably changed, meaning he can enter them and try to take them over again. And since a huge number of us will be dead, he will probably have an easy time of it.

Walter shook his head at the last part of the explanation, sighing. “OK, I get stealing power from the artifacts—magical nonsense is like a battery, I can get behind that. But how can he…merge Faerie and Border? They are different places?”

Morgan and Tania exchanged one in a long series of inscrutable looks that Walter had seen them share. He had found it normally meant they were deciding what not to tell him, but he didn’t object this time since they seemed like they were going to tell him something at all. “Faerie isn’t just in another place, like you could get on a turnpike and go there. It is literally in another world, another dimension you could say, and it only overlaps with the mortal world in certain places. The strongest point Faerie is connected to the mortal world is in Border, and that connection will be the very thing he uses. Of course, that much magical energy might also crack the world like an egg, or burn all of Faerie away like a morning mist.” Morgan allowed after she explained.

“OK, well that is as horrifying as it is poetic. So what is the best case…what happens to Border and Faerie if he works?” Walter asked, unable to keep from shivering a little it himself at the thought of the world cracking or burning.

“Best case? The mortality of the world destroys the magic of Faerie and our people begin to age normally and die off. And humanity has the biggest collective freak out in history as it realizes it is a small part of a large world, and…” Morgan shrugged. “I don’t know, they nuke us? Yeah, nuke us.”

Walter considered all of that, from the quiet tragedy to the explosive finale. “Well, at least the stakes aren’t high.”