Thursday, September 22, 2011
Chapter 12: The Fox's Tale
"There you are," she says, "I've been looking for you. And who's this?"
"Tsk, don't you recognize your own grandmother, child? I suppose not since you never visit," the old woman chides.
"Hawke, could you excuse us for a minute?" Sun asks, her voices forced into sweetness.
"How did you escape?" the old woman asks, seemingly unconcerned that her former prisoner is free.
Sun is smug, "My daughter freed me. She died of the curse you put on her, you evil witch. But her spirit entered the doll, and there wasn't room enough of for the both of us. The spell that held me was weakened, and I escaped. But, tell me, old woman, how is it that a dead human like yourself is invading my world?"
"Tsk, child, do you think you are the only spirit who can take the form of a dead human to deceive others?" the old woman says with a tinkling laugh, "I am Tania Summerdream, and there is no world that will not open to me."
Sun gasps. The fae have no rulers, no real government, but if they had a queen, it would be Summerdream, the oldest, wisest, most powerful of them all. "Why does someone like you want to visit a lowly fox like me?" Sun asks.
"I loved a man," the fox begins her tale, "But he had a mortal wife. I took a human form to seduce him, and I became pregnant. His wife was also pregnant, and was greatly distressed that her husband loved another. So her mother, who was a wise woman and knew that I was no simple mortal seducer, devised a trap for me, and caught my spirit in a doll she'd crafted. She waited until I had given birth to my daughter, and then, she imprisoned me. My man was heartbroken, but he took our child and returned to his wife, who had just given birth to his son, as the old woman had wanted. But the wife did not live much longer, she had become ill from from the birth, and died. My man, his heart broken twice in such a short time, died a few days after her. And the old woman was left to raise the children on her own. She told the world that my daughter was the sister of her grandson, that they were twins, and she pretended to love them both as her own, but she secretly hated my daughter, and blamed her for the death of her own daughter. She put a curse on her, that like her own daughter, she would die after she gave birth to her first child."
"But she gave the doll she'd trapped you in to your daughter?" Summerdream asks, "Humans, they can be formidable foes, but they always are their own undoing."
"I've made a bargain with one of my kin," Summerdream says, "He wants his family protected from your deceptions, and the man you are keeping here is his uncle."
"The halfling? He's your kin?" the fox gasps, "But he is more human than fae, why do you take his side?"
"Because he's agreed to make the payment I asked of him," Summerdream says, "You are free now, you'll find other men."
"But I want this one! I love Hawke. He was miserable since my daughter died, his heart would not heal. Here, he is happy, loved."
"Child, you spend so much time among the humans, feeding on their energy, but you don't understand them. This happiness you give him is an illusion. He won't thank you for it when he discovers the truth. And they all do discover the truth eventually, don't they. And what happens to them then?"
"They die, their hearts shattered, broken," the fox whispers solemnly, "But it will be different this time. I'm giving back to him what he lost, not taking him away from another woman."
Summerdream shakes her head, "If you want him to live, you'll release him now, before he's too deep in to ever come out."
"He's awake. You saved him!" Hawke hears Amelia's voice in his room. Right now, he can't face her, can't face anyone. He slips into his bathroom without turning to see who else is his room, who his niece is talking to. The water in the shower masks the sound of his sobs.
After a long cry, Hawke pulls himself together enough to talk to Amelia and her husband. They tell him he was ensorcelled by Zhenzhen, that his dream life with Sun was more than a dream, but still not real. It was Zhenzhen he was living with, in her realm of illusion.
"Tell them we were happy," Zhenzhen says, "Tell them you want to come back with me. If you are willing, they won't stop you."
"It wasn't real," Hawke says, sobbing again, "I wasn't happy, I was delusional. You've crushed me, Zhenzhen."
"I love you, Hawke," she says, "I can make you happy..."
"I don't want your happiness, or your love," Hawke says, his voice a cracked whisper, "All I wanted is Sun. She's dead, and you can't replace her. Now, leave me. Never come back."
"I told you, fox, humans will take miserable reality over an illusion of bliss every time."
"But nothing is real," Zhenzhen protests, "Even their reality is just another illusion."
"Even the rare human who recognizes that will still cling to reality rather than confront that truth," Summerdream says, "That is human nature."
Zhenzhen muses quietly for a minute. "I wish to be human," she says, "I want to understand. I want to love, without killing my lover."
"You wish to die a mortal death, too?" Summerdream asks sharply.
"I've been a fox for a very long time," Zhenzhen, "It's time for me to be something else."
"Very well," Summerdream says, frowning.
"Summerdream's help did not come without a price," Thierry answers, "I promised her I'd go with her, to live in her realm. For one hundred years."
"One hundred...but that's..." Amelia can't get any more words out, as she starts crying.
"Child?" Amelia manages to gasp between sobs.
"You're pregnant, beloved," Thierry says, smiling, "Summerdream says I may stay until the child is born."
"And that's it, you'll just leave me to raise it on my own?"
"I am sorry, beloved. It was the only way to get Hawke back. I don't want to be away from you, but it was the price my aunt demanded. I will be able to visit, from time to time."
"And put you in the position of choosing to help your uncle or let him die a slow death to keep me? I had to make this choice on my own, beloved."
Amelia nods, accepting the truth of what he says. Given the choice, she might have sacrificed Hawke, and she'd never be able to live with herself if she had.
"Beloved, I'm going to ask something very selfish of you," Thierry whispers in her ear, "I'm going to be leaving you alone for a long time. My visits will be rare. But you are my wife, my love, and I will return. I ask that you wait for me, stay faithful to me."
"Thierry, there is no one for me but you, ever. No matter how long you're gone."
"Not even Byron Goth," Thierry reminds her of her first crush.
Amelia manages a small laugh, "Not even Byron Goth. I promise, Thierry, I will wait for you. And you had better stay faithful to me while you're galavanting around the fae."
"I won't so much as look at another, I promise."
Zhenzhen knows she's not wanted here, that though she meant no harm, she caused a great deal of it. She wanted to heal her daughter's husband, while at the same time satisfying her own need, but she broke him further. So she makes one final stop at her daughter's grave before heading out to begin her journey as a mortal woman.
"Goodbye, Hawke," she says, kissing him one last time, "Don't let death claim while you still have life. Your heart is not past mending, if you would only let it."
Posted by yangthecat at 6:14 AM