Dira -part 6-

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Literature Text

Glaring at anything that moved in such a fashion that every servant in the castle wisely made themselves scarce, Dira made her way back to her rooms. She wanted to scream. To kick or smash or destroy something. To wage wars, or eviscerate annoying critters -she wasn't feeling especially picky- anything to take her mind off the uncomfortable thoughts treathening to force her full attention.
Knowing she had no means to start a war with -yet- she did the next best thing, which generations of females had turned to before her; she grabbed a pillow and screamed into it, simultaneously doing an odd hop-and-jerk stomping dance. And like the generations before her she concluded that it did not make her feel better at all, but at least she was able to be quiet afterwards.

Ysaye had to admit he probably pushed the mortal too far. But she was such a spirited adversary he couldn't help himself. It had been a very long time since anyone had possessed the audacity to openly challenge Ysaye of Rockwater, and he enjoyed the battle far too much.
He felt less like the king and more like the fae whenever he had the chance to split words, taunt and confound her, however childish it might be.
But he knew she did not trust him -not at all- and he was well aware that this was a problem he could not ignore. She didn't have to like him, but for her to have much chance at all against the duke, she needed to trust Ysaye's word that he would -on his honor- send her back once the deal was fulfilled on her part.
Frowning, he chewed on his lip. Perhaps it would do good to do more than merely teaching her how to maneouver the castle and use mirrors. Perhaps he ought to show her a little bit more of this world she so fiercely denied the existance of. Yes.
Finally having decided upon a course of action Ysaye still found he did not like it much. Leaving his chair to retrieve a silver mirror and a goblet of water, he added a few sprinkles of ice.
"Darling!" He called. "I have a favor to ask!"

To her surprise Ysaye asked to see her immediately after breakfast, which was unusual behavior from him; especially since he had said it would wait untill after lunch.
Curiosity getting the better of her, she accepted, and soon after Ysaye waltzed into the room carrying a heap of clothes and furs. "You and I are going to visit an... aquaintance of mine. It's mostly ice where we're going, so you'll need these." He said, gesturing towards the assorted outerwear.
"I thought you were going to teach me how to use mirrors?"
"I am. I am merely calling in expert assistance to get you through the history and workings of it." He smiled. "I think you might even like where we're going, and a few of the things you'll learn."
Dira wasn't so certain about that, but she obediently sorted through the various coats and furs, choosing what she liked. Judging from Ysaye's similar getup they were going to the north pole, and being stubborn was a bad idea if it meant you'd freeze your ass off for it.
"Good." Ysaye turned towards the mirror in her livingroom, and placed it flat on the floor. "We'll be going then." He added, turning to offer her an arm. Pulling her a little closer than what she thought was needed, he stepped into the mirror, dragging her with him before she had time to voice any objections.

It was a giant hall made entirely of ice. A gothic castle in greens and blue, with the charming temperature of a freezer. Still, it was undeniably beautiful, and Dira laid her head back to admire the ceilings above them. She wasn't certain where the lights came from, but the ice twinkled like a snowy landscape bathed in moonlight, and she felt ridiculously small and overwhelmed, yet at the same time deeply in love with it.
Then a cool, female voice snapped her out of it.
"Do come inside, Dearest!"
Ysaye immediately obeyed the command, moving through the hall, his arm still around Dira's, for which she felt unexpectedly grateful. She had an uncomfortable feeling that if he had just let go of her, to face this unknown woman with the icy voice, she would have felt utterly lost and childlike. That he didn't made her feel like they were a team. It was stupid, but she didn't care about that right now. Instead she moved her arm a little, to hold Ysaye's more easily, and hurried to keep up with his stride. He answered by lowering his arm just an inch, to make it more comfortable for her, but said nothing.
There were no servants in this castle, Dira noted. Apart from the voice, there was nothing that indicated anything living except Ysaye and herself.
Then they stepped through an impressive archway andinto what was clearly a throne room, inhabited by one of the strangest couples Dira had seen. To her surprise, Ysaye bowed deeply, never letting go of her arm, which more or less forced Dira to do the same.
"MyLady!" He greeted. "I am deeply grateful that you granted us a visit!"
"Ysaye." The woman replied, her smooth, deep voice betraying only the slightest hint of welcome. "Please, take a seat with us."
Immediately two chairs were spinning out of nowhere, to come to a rest at the opposite end of the table from the Snow Queen and her Consort. Ysaye nudged Dira forward, pulling back the chair for her, and making sure to position her so close their arms still brushed against eachother on occasion.
Normally she would have inched her chair away from him in response, but the brief moment where he had let go of her had quickly made her decide not to. It was as if the temperature had dropped with some twenty degrees, and she suspected Ysaye's reason to keep her this close was to keep her alive. Somehow the presence of another person, of heath and life, was the key to staying alive here.
"While I am charmed you ask to visit, Dearest, I suspect there was a specific reason for this sudden audience?" The woman asked, a ghost of a smile passing across her face, and Ysaye smiled charmingly back. "Indeed, Darling!" He gestured towards Dira. "My friend Dira here is in need of schooling in our ways and history, especially concerning mirrors. Now your dear Kay- " Here he turned his attention towards the man at the Queens side for a moment- "Might be the best teacher, wouldn't you agree?"
Kay said nothing, but he did appear to examine Dira a little more closely. The Ice Queen smiled. "Ah. I see." She studied Dira for a moment, looking mildly entertained. "Why don't we let the mortals exchange whatever helpful information they possess, cousin, while you and I continue our discussion from last time?"
Ysaye smiled brightly, ignoring Kay. "Indeed, MyLady!"
Kay, knowing when he was not wanted, stood from his throne and gestured for Dira to follow. Dira, remembering how she had near freezed to death without Ysaye hesitated, but the faegestured for her to get up. "Kay is much like you. You'll be safe with him." He murmured. While she wasn't certain what this meant -or if she even believed it- she did as told, and hurried to follow Kay.

As they walked down the hall Kay did not offer her an arm. And his presence was far from as comforting as Ysaye's, but at least she seemed to stay alive so long as she kept close to him, and at least he wasn't Ysaye.
"You are Dira Miller." He said as they walked into a room that was full of mirrors, but which also sported a fireplace. "I am Kay." He added, as he started to kindle a small fire. "I do not need the warmth of life anymore, but you seem cold." He added. "Please, step closer."
Dira hurried to comply, the small fire one of the most beautiful things she'd seen. Something that had kept nagging at her mind since she heard the man's name escaped her tongue. "Kay. You are a fairytale. The Snowqueen, and the devil's mirror."
He smiled briefly. "Yes. Allthough the versions I have heard vary quite much from what actually happened. But I am he. Kay, with the splint in his heart. And she is the Snowqueen. And cousin to the King of Rockwater."
"Why am I here?"
"I believe the King has promised to teach you how to use mirrors. And since I am the mirrormaker I am the best to teach you, for you are a mortal, as I once were." He smiled briefly. "And to mortals there are dangers lurking even in ordinary mirrors."
"It is in the nature of reflections to be decieving. It does not matter who made it or what it is made of. Even your own reflection in a still pond will make for a makeshift mirror, and so long as the only thing you see or think to look for is yourself you will never see what is beyond it." Kay had dragged two chairs up to the fire, but positioned his a little away from it while talking.
The veil, or gateway, behind the reflection is olod, older than any of us. And it is mostly the fae and demons who still know how to use it. But the gateways are still there, and a mortal not knowing what she's doing -but who has learned to look beyond the expected- can easily see things she should not, or alert creatures far more dangerous than her current Sire."
"You are telling me I am a nosy brat."
"Aren't you?" Kay parried, but his smile widened. "I am telling you that you have passed from being a mortal oblivious to the other worlds, to a mortal who has learned to see beyond. Ysaye recognizes this and is, in his own way, trying to make certain you can both find your way and keep safe."
"There are nastier guys out there than Ysaye?"
"Plenty. Most wouldn't bother with you, because they fear the king. But some of them are stronger than he, and thus you'd be better off not catching their attention."
Dira decided this was probably good advice. The same way people would tell you what parts of a town you'd be better off not visiting, or never-ever-don't-even-think-about-it-go-there-without-your-own-personal-army.
"You said 'reflection', not only mirrors."
"Yes. It is enough with a single drop of water catching your reflection for it to be a mirror. And when you've learned to look beyond it; every surface reflecting anything else is yours to behold."
"Anything." Kay smiled again. "The fae have learned this, and used to have nothing shiny at all in their homes and rooms."
Dira frowned. "No. Wait. That doesn't make sense. They adore shiny things. They wear truckloads of the stuff!"
"Yes. Because they can't escape the reflections entirely. Something as simple as water; they can't live without it, yet they do not like it's potential for shinyness. Then there is the reflection of yourself in someone else's eyes. To make it short; how can you avoid it entirely?"
"If you can't beat them, join them?" Dira was struggling to see the logic. Surely it would be better to keep the water in separate rooms? Couldn't you close your eyes?
"Something like that. You see, if there are multiple reflections of the same thing, it makes it very hard to see clearly. Like a caleidoscope, because you will watch them all at once."
"Oh." Dira suddenly laughed. "Well, that does explain a thing or two!"
"Yes. So this has been the fae solution, and also a fashion statement, for generations."
"What I will learn you today is how to make the mirrors do as you wish, and also how to recognize a mirror used against you." Kay shrugged. "The rest is up to you."
"But if I learn how to walk through mirrors, won't Ysaye risk that I just go home?"
"You can't." Kay met her eye. "You have made a deal to stay. That deal can't be broken by either of you. There are rules, and they apply regardless of wether or not the mortal party involved is aware of it at the time. At least you are able to solve your tasks in time. You may return when the deal is complete. I could not. Not fully."

The Snowqueen smiled, sipping her wine. "It was very clever, dearest, how you managed not only to secure yourself a mortal but one that offered to stay." She praised her cousin, and Ysaye inclined his head ever so slightly. "I had luck on my side, Eirwen."
She laughed at that. "Royalty should never admit to luck, Ysaye. It might give people ideas." Her eyes twinkled with amusement. "Nevertheless; as the King of Rockwater you needed to show some strength. Any mortal would suffice, but to find one willing to stay in her sister's place -and to help you- that is more than you could have hoped for. Your friends and enemies alike will see it as an example of how you increase your power."
"Still, if they do try to revolt against me the only ace up my sleeve is an unruly mortal who couldn't care less if the entire Rockwater was left to rot."
"Bitterness doesn't become you, Ysaye." Eirwen commented dryly. "Fortune granted you a mortal, when you needed one, and let me tell you that mortals are rare and precious things to come across, even for one such as me who is no longer limited to an 'arrangement'."

When Kay lead her back to the throneroom Dira's head was spinning from the effort of 'looking beyond' and learning how to work mirrors. Ysaye and the Snowqueen were waiting by the archway, chatting in an unusually relaxed manner, but both looked up immediately as the mortals entered.
"I thank you for your hospitality, MyLady!" Ysaye offered with an extravagant bow and a quick kiss on the Snowqueens palm. "Please, do come visit me some time!"
She responded in kind, a small smile brightening her features, softening her cool beauty. "Why, of course!"
Ysaye brought himself back to his full height, his arm circling Dira's and with a simple, but amiable goodbye left the throneroom, heading for the entrance to the castle.
It struck Dira that he felt several degrees cooler than when they had parted, and risking a glance at him she noticed his face was pale and his lips slightly blue.
"You are cold!" She said, her voice low, as if she wasn't sure saying such a thing in the realm of the Snowqueen could be deemed an offense. Ysaye glanced briefly at her, looking... puzzled? A small, ironic smile escaped him. "I'm afraid one does not stay in the company of the Snowqueen for long without falling prey to the winter." He mumbled. "Let us walk outside her halls, and I will soon thaw out again."
Dira only nodded, and Ysaye led the way, but she had a feeling that while he had supported her with warmth when they entered the castle, she was now the one supporting him. By the time they made it out his teeth were clattering and his body jerking from supressed shivers.
"You'll freeze to death." Dira stated, looking around for the mirror they had passed through, noticing a small, icy lake reflecting the overhead sky. "Come." She lead him towards it, going over the castle interior as she walked, trying to find the best place to enter, knowing after Kay's intensive crashcourse in gatewaying that The Castle Atop The Spider was usually inaccessible to anyone but Ysaye from any number of mirrors, and also that crossing the fields with Ysaye in his current state was out of the question. Damn.
"Ysaye." She said sharply, turning the fae towards her. "Quick renegotiation of our deal. In order to save your freezing ass, I demand one visit -with you in tow- to my place, untill you are capable of bringing us back to The Castle."
He was silent for a long time, leaning heavily against her shoulder, but then worked to clear his voice. "Deal."
Dira answered by jumping into the lake, hauling him with her. She didn't even have time to register how the icewater closed above her head before they tumbled through her wardrobe closet -or rather it's fullsize mirror-doors. Ysaye was mumbling incoherently about luck and revolution, and she let go of him to fetch a blanket.
Steering him into the livingroom she firmly shoved him down into a chair, then strode out into the kitchen to make tea.
She returned a few minutes later with two steaming cups of tea and a shot of whisky, offering Ysaye the alcohol, since she assumed pouring hot water down the troath of someone barely concious was probably worse than alcohol right now.
Drinking her own tea in silence, she watched her adversary.
Ysaye of Rockwater looked a whole lot less intimidating when unconcious and draped in a woolen blanket with hearts on it. He still did not look even remotely human. He did look less like a dying man, though, she decided.
Not knowing when he'd come around, she hurried to start her laptop, writing Rose an e-mail. She would have called, but she knew Rose would have thousands of questions and then rush to see her, and right now what she needed was to organize a lot of information and prepare Rose and her family that she was coming home for the wedding, and staying for only a week. E-mail it was.

Ysaye woke feeling awful and cold and quite hungover. His first thought was that he was still sleeping, for he was evidently not in his own chambers. His second was that there was a cup of tea beside him, and that it seemed like a very nice drink at the moment. The third was that Dira Miller was watching him from the other side of the room, and this was indeed odd -and he must be dreaming- for he had no recollection of going to sleep in her presence.
"Good morning?" He said a little testily, reaching out for the still very tempting cup of tea. "Where are we?"
"It's closer to lunch, really." Daya replied, putting away her book. "And we are in my flat. You were freezing and nearly passed out when we left the Snowqueen."
Memory slowly seeped back into Ysaye's brain, and he nodded. "Tea," He said irrelevantly, "is good."
"What happened?" Dira asked. "Why did you... whatever?"
"I seem to have overstretched." Ysaye sighed. "I rarely bring visitors to Eirwen, and when I do they all have enough magic to stay ali- warm - on their own. I was certain I would be able to keep us both -warm- during our visit. I was wrong."
Dira remembered the drop of temperature when Ysaye had let go of her arm the first time, and gave a shudder. "How does Kay survive it?" She asked, and Ysaye looked away. "He... is a special case." He said eventually. "No longer fully human."
"Oh." Thinking of what she could remember from the fairytale Dira decided that if at least the splinter was in some way true this did not seem impossible. Ysaye put down his now empty mug of tea, and still draped in her heartadorned blanket started inspecting the apartment.
Dira watched him in silence, not exactly comfortable with having an unexpected visit from the king of Rockwater in her home, but not too eager to return to his realm, either. He made his way around the flat, then returned to his chair, before turning his attention to Dira again. "Thank you. For your help." He said, and Dira wasn't sure what to answer. She hadn't felt like she had much of a choice, but if she really had saved him -at least helped him- then perhaps he felt a thanks was in order.
"You're welcome."
"Do you have anything you want to get done when we´re still here?"
"No, I'm good. Thanks."
"Good." Ysaye sighed, then with an effort forced himself back up on his feet. He neatly folded the blanket, then picked up both his own and Dira's teacup, and padded into the kitchen. Moments later there was the sound of running water, and then Ysaye reappeared while drying his hands on his sleeves. "Let's go." He said, offering her a hand and heading for her wardrobe mirrors.
Previously spotted, Dira assumed, during his inspection of the flat.
Part six of Dira.
In which we crossover with one of my favorite fairytales (apart from Beauty & the Beast).
© 2011 - 2024 EliseOtterlei
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