It was a land of shadows and ice. Of gray. And grayer. And black. Deep in the shadows lurked inhuman creatures, twisted of limb and hideous of countenance. Things one did well to avoid seeing.
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It was a land of shadows and ice. Of gray. And grayer. And black. Deep in the shadows lurked inhuman creatures, twisted of limb and hideous of countenance.
Things one did well to avoid seeing. Should the creatures enter the pale bars of what passed for light in the terrible place, they would die, painfully and slowly. As would he—the mortal Highlander imprisoned within columns of sickly light—should he succeed in breaking the chains that held him and seek escape through those terrifying shadows.
Jagged cliffs of ice towered above him. A frigid wind shrieked through dark labyrinthine canyons, bearing a susurrus of desolate voices and faint, hellish screams. No sun, no fair breeze of Scotland, no scent of heather penetrated his frozen, bleak hell. He hated it. His very soul cringed at the horror of the place. He ached for the warmth of the sun on his face and hungered for the sweet crush of grass beneath his boots. He would have given years of his life for the surety of his stallion between his thighs and the solid weight of his claymore in his grip.
He dreamed—when he managed to escape the agony of his surroundings by retreating deep into his mind—of the blaze of a peat fire, scattered with sheaves of heather. Of buttery, golden--crusted bread hot from the hearth.
Simple things. Impossible things. But he was a strong man, with the royal blood of Scottish kings running hot and true in his veins. He would survive. He would return and reclaim his rightful place, woo and win a bonny lass with a tender heart and a tempestuous spirit like his mother, and fill the halls of Dun Haakon with the music of wee ones. With such dreams, he withstood five years in the hellish wasteland. Only to discover the dark king had deceived him.
On that day when his heart turned to ice within his breast, on that day when a single tear froze upon his cheek, on that day when he was denied even the simple solace of dreaming, he came to find his prison a place of beauty.
Long had the Unseelie king provoked her. What bargain did he strike with this mortal? Still, as grandseed of the McAlpin, I suspect the MacKinnon would have accepted the full term to protect his clan.
Any bargain between faery and mortal must hold the possibility for the human to regain his freedom. Still, no mortal had ever bested a faery in such a bargain.
If, by the end of that time, he is loved and loves in return, he will be free. By such cruel methods had the Unseelie king long fashioned his deadly, prized assassin—his beloved Vengeance—by capturing a mortal, driving him past human limits into madness, indurating him to all emotion, then endowing him with special powers and arts.
Since the Unseelie king was barred entrance to the human world, he trained his Vengeance to carry out his orders, to hold no act too heinous. If grumblings about the faery were heard, Vengeance silenced them in cruelly imaginative ways. If the royal house was not amenable to the faery world, Vengeance toppled kings as carelessly as one might sweep a chessboard.
She would win this mortal back. The queen was silent for a time. The Unseelie king had named the terms of his bargain well. Aedan MacKinnon would still be mortal at the end of his captivity but no longer remotely human when released. But she could and would do all in her power to ensure Aedan MacKinnon found love at the end of his imprisonment. Perhaps they should meet in the Dreaming. The Dreaming: that elusive, much--sought, everforgotten realm where mortals occasionally brushed pale shoulder to iridescent wing with the fairy.
That place where mortals would be astonished to know battles were won and lost, universes born, and true love preordained, from Cleopatra and Mark Antony to Abelard and Heloise. The lovers could meet in the Dreaming and share a lifetime of loving before they ever met in the mortal realm. It would lay a grand foundation for success of her plan.
Rising from her floral bower with fluid grace, she raised her arms and began to sing. From her melody a tapestry was woven, of faery lore, of bits of blood and bone, of silken hair from the great, great--grandson of the McAlpin, of ancient rites known only to the True Race.
And when the tapestry was complete, the queen marveled. The faery queen went to him in the Dreaming, well into his sentence, when he was quite mad.
She will warm you. She will love you above all others. It was not a human sound at all.
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I first read it in the spring of when I was on a desperate hunt for clues to discover what the heck Jericho Barrons was and trying to assuage the pain of the wait for Shadowfever. Into the Dreaming then was a fun read, provided me with what I thought at the time were decent clues but in the end did not turn out to be anything but a sweet distraction. Once again I find myself in a desperate wait for Moning to publish her books. Fever Moon, which is a graphic novel with a new Barrons and Mac storyline is scheduled to be released on July 10,
Into the Dreaming
It was a land of shadows and ice. Of gray. And grayer. And black.