~ John Stuart Mill
Thursday, December 21st ~ The Dawn of the Winter Solstice
Snow swirled in the fury of the wind, blinding all but those with the keenest sight. For those few fortunate ones, a glimpse of a moving shadow now and then could be caught. It bestowed a gift of unusual sculpture in the form free of kingly coverings. Exuberant, almost crackling with magic, Finvar embraced the heart of Winter. For this was the Unseelie's day - his day to wrest from Summer that which should have been theirs all along. The dance of power was a celebration of sorts. In anticipation of the glorious battle to come when the sun was allowed to rise.
Rhoswen's labors had contributed no small amount to their current good fortune. Summer's forces had been neatly trimmed to an almost lethal level during their spying missions until the enemy king had grown cautious at last. Those missing from the foe's camp had added greatly to the resources the Unseelie now called upon. To use the life force of those captured against their own court - was a joy all its own.
We will knock upon Summer's door with a fist unable to be denied.
Finvar paused in his exercises as the portal tree appeared on his left. He had forgotten it for a time in the ongoing preparations for the coming carnage.
They deserve to lament over what they've spurned.
Bare feet left tracks in the drifts that formed when the wind calmed. Kneeling, Finvar closed his eyes and sought the fractures with an outstretched hand. Soft white flakes drifted past an evil smile when they were found with little effort. He knew he could overpower the magic on the other side this day. He could taste the spells the mortals had put up against them.
Not fragile - but they would crumble as dust before me.
Finvar realized he might never be this empowered again, to be able to dash the mortal barriers with one assault and the temptation was great. Very great. The smile dimmed slightly as reason prevailed.
It would tax me. Leave me spent when so much is needed to finally defeat Summer.
The call of victory over an ancient foe won out when faced with the desire to crush a newborn.
They will stagnate, while Summer will grow strong again.
Putting temptation firmly behind him, Finvar called for a small bouquet of Winter roses to send to his Rhoswen. He didn't include a message this time, but did increase their fragrance to overpower any that might challenge it. As he fingered a petal a small smile creased his face when he remembered how his first gift was received. Finvar had no doubt she still possessed an ilk that would be hard to tame and that was the sorest temptation of all.
For Foster, a duplicate of the plant Aeval had gifted him. It was sent in the sure knowledge the wizard would remember and realize what poor substitutes the mortal plants were in comparison to those the Fae had offered.
Cunning Kalen and my Ginevra remain.
He paused in thought and at last put forth his hand. Two globes of air formed on the palm. One he filled with the sounds and smells of battle. As a special taunt, the delights found after were included in the swirling mass of red and black. This he assigned to Kalen and whispered into its depths.
"We face our oldest foe this day and our glory will know no bounds as we claim victory. Your presence would have added to the sweetness."
The second one took a little more time as an image of the grotto he'd described to her slowly formed inside. Care was taken to include the songs of the birds along with the scents of all the flowers. A cool mist of the water from the fall was added and he was pleased. Another whisper vibrated the skin of the globe as it accepted his words.
"Dreams of you will ever haunt me in this glade. One day your eyes will drink from the beauty in truth."
Both globes would shatter when touched, bestowing their gifts to the intended ones. He'd considered lending strength to Ginevra's, that she might keep it if she wished, but was content knowing she still had the original globe as well as the crystal rose. The glade would remain in her mind. Perhaps a temptation, most certainly a reminder of what they had shared.
A brief blast of frigid air from Finvar's lungs sent his gifts on their way and he rose from his knees to see the light of day beginning to dawn. It was time. Time to claim what was theirs. Clothing appeared on his form as the now shod feet strode through the snow.
"Vasily! Mount the warriors, call the beasts. I must bid farewell to my Queen and we shall depart."