9.6 The Green Pastures

by Matt P.

Oberon, rightful Ard Righ of the Faerie, the Elf King, Prince of all the Green Plains, was not happy. The wind that whipped around him blew with it a stream of snowflakes, and he longed for the Green Plains of his birth and title. For a moment the image in his head and the need in his heart was so strong that it actually melted several of the fluttering flakes into droplets and steam, before he shook his head. He also admitted his annoyance might have something to do with it, as he walked in to the room and looked at his erstwhile liegeman.

“You had a place to be and a mission to complete, Sir.” Oberon said in a voice that was only a shade warmer than the howling wind outside. “You do not seem to be there to complete it.”

“My lord.” The other man acknowledged as he stood and bowed deeply. The man who called himself Tennyson to the mortal authorities looked stricken at the tone of Oberon’s voice, and the Elf King thought he had almost enough contrition on his face. “The Earl and I had a disagreement about how to proceed.”

“Yes.” Oberon said as he made his way over to his chair and sat down. It was old, as old as he was, and formed from living wood that had been carefully cultivated. It was warm with the rich sunlight of ancient glens, and it also made his back not hurt after the battlefield. It had never used to do that, but he supposed even gods could get old after long enough.

“My lord, we had a plan.” Tennyson said, with emphasis and a note of pleading. “We worked out the plan over years, and it was part of the point.” He always appealed to the political part first, and then… “And it was the right thing to do.”

“And we did it for how long?” Oberon asked, reaching out for a pottery mug that one of the soldiers had filled with hot spiced wine in expectation of him sitting down. “Sir, we have been at this for years and we did not get this much response until the boy took a shot at that blooded woman. Who we still do not know the identity of, despite our raid on the police station. Have we made any process on that front?” He asked, as he took a long sip of the passable wine. The heat of it warmed him and settled his temper, as the whole conversation came dangerously close to telling him what to do or reprimanding him—and he would not have it from this man, no matter whose byblow he was.

Tennyson flushed a little bit, and shook his head. He looked like he desperately wanted to dodge the question, but he knew better than to put off a direct query from his King. “No, my lord, we have not.” He admitted. “And that is my fault, although we both suspect who it is. But my point about the plan, my lord—” He began again, before Oberon waved his hand absently and cut him off.

“The plan was not working. The Earl made a very compelling point about how we could draw out those standing in our way.” Oberon said as he set down the cup. What had become his de facto audience chamber in exile was a medium sized room of well worn stone, filled with fine—but not opulent—wooden furniture. A part of him, the part that remembered the singing of the brownies in the autumn lands, was comforted by the simple and well made. A part of him, the part that remembered the High Seat and the halls of a King, bristled at it every time he looked around. But even the part that was unhappy was at least warm.

“Sire, it would work in the long run, and we must be patient. It does no good to take back what was yours if we cause a revolt in another century because of our atrocities. The so-called ‘Three Stripes’ killings, the traditionalist strikes, had a purpose. You can’t change it now without—” Tennyson cut himself off mid-sentence as he caught what he said and tried to begin reframing it, but it was too late. Oberon slammed his fist down in to the well wrought wooden table and splinters flew from it with the force of the blow.

“I am the High King of Faerie, boy!” He bellowed angrily, snatching the cup and slamming it in to the ground next to him. In the literal heat of his anger it bubbled on the floor like it was trying to boil over in a pot, hissing. “It is my plan to change! Your morals will do well for a king on a throne, Sir, but until I have that lauded seat again you would do well to mind your tongue and get us back to Faerie. That is the only blighted plan that matters!”

Tennyson stood there, shocked in the face of the fiery tempest that was the anger of the Elf King. He felt it wash over him, and it smelled like woodsmoke and desolation, like the fields of the dead in the ancient wars. “They are children, sir.” He said softly, daring to look up and meet his Kings eyes.

“They are mortals, Sir.” Oberon said, the fire in his voice chased now back to the depth of winter, his eyes dark with anger. “They will make more. You should concern yourself more with the future of our children then our servants to come.”

Tennyson stared at him with those damnably familiar eyes, before he gave a slow nod. “Yes, sire.” He lowered his gaze in submission to Oberon’s will, which the king only thought was proper as he reclaimed his seat.

“Go.” Oberon commanded. “Be gone from my sight until the time is right. I will have one of the other generals lead the planned attack, and you will see to it that the trap is laid true. Do not fail me again, boy. We are in my hour of triumph, and I will not have it foiled by your sentimentality.”

Tennyson bowed deeply, right hand on his chest and left on the sword at that hip in the traditional honor. He was gone before Oberon could re-settle himself fully, and the King of the Fey was left alone in his warm hall, calling for another glass of wine to soothe his anger.