sticksandleaves: (fairy)
Finoa, wearing the shape of a red cat, walked along the walls, tail swishing high. If anyone noticed a cat with a pretty emerald ring around its paw, well... stranger things had happend in the city.

It was quite a bit easier to move through the city like this: Slip through the alleys and up over the fences, under stairs and between bins of rubbish until she reached her destination. She'd taken to lately, enjoying the lightness and agility not afforded to her humanoid body. Sometimes, after the ease of a particularly daring-seeming jump, she wondered why she hadn't been made of bone and fur instead of a seed and a breath. Cats, afterall, were less hunted than human girls. In the days when rodents could mean starvation or disease, they were valued. Girls, not so much.

She'd been a sickly child back in those days, not likely to live. Perhaps why she had taken to the foundling under Janie's care. Back in those days though, cat's milk wouldn't have helped her illness and as such a human girl she was left to impersonate.

She arrived at her destination sooner than even she expected. Her mind was still stuck ina the past. What if humans hadn't meddled and ruined her life?

As a cat she had been small and sleek. Light on her feet. In her own form, by her people's standards, she was an exceptional beauty. Tall and willowy, silvery pale skin with a delicate grain pattern and gold leaves that survived even winter. She would have stories about her beauty and her cruelty, inherited from her mother. She'd be feared and adored.

She had none of that here. Here she was cloaked in a glamour meant to hide and protect her. She appeared average. A flawed mirror to whoever looked at her. Eyes, those that might have Sight enough to see through the glamour never lingered on her very long.

"None of this," she told herself, shaking off memories of what would have been and her reality. She circled around, looking for watchers, and not sensing any, with her paw, managed to remove the ring. Her shape rippled and where there was a cat a moment before, there was a girl, picking up a ring and tucking it into her pocket.

Pulling out her issued I.D, she stepped into the building she had arrived at.
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Twins, a boy and a girl were born to a human fisherman and a Selkie. The boy was born human. The girl took after her mother and had a coat of sealskin.

After the Selkie left, breaking the fisherman's heart, the father locked away the girl's sealskin coat and tipped it off his boat, sinking it deep into the ocean. He thought to protect his child, to keep her safe with him forever.

The girl and the boy grew older and lived happily for a time. On the girl's sixteenth birthday however, she grew sick and she longed for the sea.

The girl's brother, a fisherman now his father, followed the seals to the spot where the chest lay submerged but before he found the coat... a great storm came and drowned him.

By dawn, the sister had died of her sickness.
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The sky is a deep grey, dark but not quite black. White birch trees cut through the darkness, white crooked teeth in a gaping dark mouth. Fat snowflakes, slow and lazy fall between the birch trees and low to the ground, bigger than it should be, the full moon sits, giving just enough light to see by.

Fiona leads the procession in her gown of frost, edged in darkness. A a veil of glistening cobwebs drapes over her hair. Only the silver leaves that grow from the tips poke out from under the veil.
She never set out to lead the procession but it happened that way with Faeries falling in behind her as she made her way to the solstice ball.

The ball is held in the woods. Lanterns with soft glowing lights guide the way past the crumbling ruins of walls and they step past an arched stone gate and inside a courtyard with only two walls. The snow continues to drift down on them and as they arrive, a slightly out of tune harp starts a sad song.

There are no lamps or candles in the courtyard, just the snow to reflect the light of the moon. A few of the guests wear phosphorescent scarabs or stars for jewelry but that is a bit out of fashion right now.

A few tinny pipes join the harp as the last of the procession has arrived, and the dancing begins. Fiona has opted to walk barefoot though the snow. She plans to dance all night and even her most comfortable boots are uncomfortable by the end of the night.
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Fiona steps into the Pub and searches the dimly lit room. It's two hearbeats before Kiernan steps up, offering his arm.

"Kiernan. Well met."

He guides her to a booth in the back where it's quiet. Business quiet. A bottle of wine sits on the table. He waits until she's sat down before he slides into the seat across from her, and pours the wine. Outside of the Goblin Market they aren't equals, and a subject of her mother's court he follows at least some measure of etiquette when they meet. There is the matter of him being a former lover, which can make things awkward when they don't fall into the pre-scripted patterns.

"I like your Glamour,"

He snorts.

"I've always liked you better without yours,"

They're no longer following proper etiquette. Fiona notes that their dance lasted quite a bit shorter than usual. She makes a face and takes her glass of wine, sipping at it.

"I won't offer you any compliments now."

"Then it's good that I come bearing gifts. So you will forgive me." He says, smirking slightly.

He reaches into a satchel tucked on the pub bench and sets a smokey jar on the table, sliding it towards her. The glimmer of pride and amusement in his eyes cuts through the Glamour. She touches her fingers against the glass and the smoke darkens against the place her finger touches. For a moment she's mesmerized.

"It's so beautiful."

"Does that mean that I am forgiven?"

"That depends." She lifts her eyes away from the smoke filled jar. "How much do you want?"

He regards her for a few minutes, taking the moment to sip his own wine.

"The price is a mistake."

She looks back at the jar and then looks at him. "You already have a mistake of mine."

That catches him off guard and he blinks at her. He takes another drink of his Wine. A deeper drink. "Of course, Lady. Then I suppose the Jar and her contents are already yours."

They've complete the cycle. They're back to politeness and etiquette. Part of her--the part of her who has been living among humans for so long--supposes she should feel bad. Kiernan is one of her oldest friends, and he's loyal.

"I will give you my tears. Will that suffice?"

"Yes. That will be a fair enough price."
sticksandleaves: (Default)
Ciara looks exactly like Fiona, except for her hair, which is the same black as a raven's wing. Neither of the women really knows why they share a face. It could be Fiona's glamour, tied to the sacred trees of Faerie, or It could be the icy fogs and snowfalls of Faerie itself which has subtly changed and moulded Ciara overthe centuries, molding her into one of the Sidhe. It could be the fates, having woven the lives of the two women together when the Queen had stolen Ciara and left Fiona in the crib as a sickly fairy child.

"Mother sends her regards."

'Mother' doesn't come of course. Fiona hasn't seen her mother since the last Winter Solstice where they had shared polite greetings.

"Will she be attending Grianstad this year?" Fiona asks, removing a silver box from her backpack,"

"Of course. Will you be attending?"

Fiona gives a small shrug of her shoulder and a tight smile. It's always the same question and the same undercurrent curiosity. Just as Ciara is human turned Fay, there is wonder and question as to how Human Fiona has become.

"I will. I've paid an Owl for a key and the path"

She offers the silver box she's been holding to Ciara, who makes no gesture to take it but looks at Fiona curiously.

"It's a gift for the Queen." Fiona explains.

"I will deliver it to her."

Ciara takes the box and cracks the lid, breathing deep and then closing the lid. "How did you find a Necklace of Regrets?"

"I am very resourceful."

"You would have been the Princess. Resourceful is only fitting."

Fiona smiles and she is a bit smugly proud at having surprised her sister with a difficult to find relic and to gift it to her mother. Of course, next year will be more difficult, but to some extent, she welcomes the challenge. She had originally been planning to wear the necklace herself, but had decided to gift it, giving it to her mother and perhaps earning her favour.

Ciara tucks the box into her black feathered coat and gestures to the birch trees forest which line the border between the human realm and Faerie and the two women walk a while, talking until the the moon is low in the trees and they've drifted deep into the woodlands and there is a hint of dawn creeping into the sky.
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The book had bitten her hand. It had been her own fault. She had tried to take words from it and hadn't considered that the book liked its words very much. So it had bitten her, objecting to the theft of its property. The words were valuable though. Two forgotten words for 'Love' and seven words to fix a broken heart.

It was an old book, leather bound (she didn't look to see just what kind of leather) with dry rough pages that smelled of cloves. She'd learned of the book through whispers only half heard, bought from a curious device she had first thought to be a time-piece and had bought an age ago thinking it was pretty. It had taken her years to locate the book and she had scraped her knees hauling herself up over a stone wall.

In the end she had gotten the words she had come for, but the bite had, like a poison infecting the body, disrupted her glamour and left painful cracks and an ache nearly to her elbow. A visit to a witch she knew assured her it was nothing a bit of floral tape and some time wouldn't solve, but the disruption in her glamour was... problematic. Until the injury healed, the edges of her disguise were frayed
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The Market is never in the same place twice. Word passes from Goblin to Fairy, from Angel to Djinn, carried by the Rats and Pigeons, Cats and Dogs. All one has to do is ask... But Word only passes at the last minute, and Fiona doesn't make it to them all. She's missed three Markets in a Row. The last time it was held in a rural part of North China and she simply wasn't interested in the trek there. The plane ride and local transportation isn't the problem, but her family doesn't have clear passage through certain tracts of land. Old feuds. Even if it is to go to the Market, she decides it isn't worth the trouble. The time before that it was in a supermarket in Moscow and she had been busy--romantically entangled with a Fairy of some roguish nature. She had been going through a phase, and he played in a human band.

Two days ago she got the location of The Market from the cats in the alley near the apartment she calls home. At sunset she steps through the doorway of a shopping arcade in Shibuya, her wares tucked into a rolling suitcase to peddle. There are no Glamours in the Goblin Market--one of the rules--and she lets her human face fall away like so many dried leaves which scatter on the ground and drift away in the wind. Her pretty human face and ginger hair is replaced with something far older, far more terrible, and completely inhuman.

The Goblin Markets are neutral ground, filled with the lowest class pixie and boggan to Sidhe like Fiona, born to royalty. As she wanders between booths, searching for things to trade, she inevitably meets up with friends--regulars to the Market--and they find themselves in a smokey tent, drinking mead, sharing honey and good cheese, watching snakes and slaves dance. A Nightmare of her mother's lands (perhaps her oldest friend) shares gossip: Cian the Green Knight of the Summer Kingdome has (finally) proposed the Southern Lady of Pink Roses, a minor princess with family lands in the south of wales. No one is particularly surprised, least of all Fiona who wins a small blue diamond ring in a bet that an announcement would be made this decade.

"A wedding then or perhaps war between the clans..." Kiernan, the Nightmare says.

"If the marriage goes sour."

"Or perhaps there will be children,"

No one truly expects that, another Faerie points out. It's dangerous to leave a Changeling but so few fairy children survive otherwise... No one wants another incident of bestowing wishes either. There's a sympathetic nod to Fiona and her situation and the Nightmare offers a gesture of comfort, a gentle stroking of the silver leaves that grow from the tips of her hair. The gossip continues but with a change of topic and after a while the gossip of romance and political alliances bleed into the tall tales of pranks and murders and daring thefts. Finally when the Mead, honey, and cheese has touched their heads, songs and drunkenness and a brawl replace the talk.

By the time the Market is over, Fiona has sold most of her wares, and she has made a good profit. A pigeon in a trilby hat buys the colour of a boy's eyes to colour its feathers, and several goblins pool together their gold for six months of an old man's life. The dreams of a teenage girl fetch even more. Other trinkets round out her sales and she thinks she will be quite comfortable for a while.

Fiona is frugal though and there's no saying when the next market will be. She must survive in the Human world, living as one, until the next market and then the one after that... She buys a significant chunk of dried and salted cemetery flesh, and has a clasp of her favorite bracelet repaired. She trades for other things too. Gifts to repay the kindness for a young human boy, delivered regularly as politeness dictates.

Before she leaves, as she weaving her way through the quiet alleys, she sees a seller she knows quite well. he greets her knowingly and with her proper title. She stops in spite of herself, and buys a glimpses of the Winter Lands in an enchanted mirror. The price is high but she can recoup some of the cost. Melancholy always fetches a good price in trade.


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(Iníon rí) Fiona Nic'Geimhreadh

June 2016

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