The first page of the story.
“The last time I saw her was right here.” She said.
“The human realm here or the Fae realm?” I said.
“It was in the human realm. I wanted to talk to her and I did not want to attract any attention to the conversation. Though it seems that I failed in that. The Runt told you that there had been a conversation did she not?” She said.
“She told me that there was a rumor of a conversation. She didn’t say anything more.” I said.
“It has become impossible to keep secrets. I blame you.” She said.
“What me personally?” I said. I mean I’ve been told that I talk too much but that’s going a bit far.
“Man. I blame mankind.”
“Ah I see. Well I suppose that is one of our foibles. Most of us agree that there’s a need for secrets but most of us also think that we should be in on all of them.” I said. “Why did you want to talk to her?”
“I told her to stop.” She said.
“Stop what?” I said.
“Stop taking human children.” She said.
“I can understand why Runt and the Hob Mafia care about that but why do you care?” I said.
“Do you know why the Fae stopped stealing children?” She said.
“Because the hobblings of both courts developed a conscience. They took advantage of the war to rebel against the Geas that was controlling them and flee to the realm of man.” I said.
“That is what the hobblings believe. It is largely true. It might not have ended there. The Courts wanted to pursue the matter. I stopped them.”
“But why do you care?” I said. And in one sense she clearly did not care. There was no horror in her voice at the prospect of stolen children. Runt had fount it a painful subject but she did not.
“Because Man was growing stronger. My children did not see it but I could not avoid seeing it. If they had continued to meddle in your affairs there would have been war. Can you imagine that war?” She said.
And I could. I’d seen some of the aftermath of the war between the courts. Just one minor skirmish had destroyed a large building in central London. I imagined an all out war with both courts on one side and all of humanity on the other. I imagined the Departments and its foreign counterparts weighing in. I imagined all the horrible ingenuity of humankind turned to destroying the Fae and all the horrible magics of the Fae turned the other way.
“There would be no planet left.” I said.
“Exactly. No-one wins a war like that.” She said.
“You were trying to stop her before we noticed her, weren’t you?” I said.
“I could not be sure that you would see her as the lonely obsessive that she was. You people are so very unreasonable when it comes to your children.” She said.
“Did she listen?” I said.
“Oh she listened. I do not know if she learned. When I felt her death I assumed that she ended herself for fear of me but you seem so very sure she was killed.” She said.
“You felt her die?” I said.
“I sensed the passing of her light. I know whenever any of my children die. Why else would I fear war?” she said.
“Why did you speak to her all the way up here?” I said.
“She was passing the building when I found her. I did not want to be seen by any of your infernal mechanical eyes and she needed the exercise. I’m sure your next question will be about time but I care not for your human clocks. I have no idea when it was but I know that her life did not go on for long after we parted.” She said.
“And did you see anyone else as you were leaving.” She said.
“No-one human.” She said.
“Anyone not human.” I said.
“I saw a cat. I saw a few pigeons and seagulls. No-one else.” She said.
And then she was gone and Chris was swearing.