Boston in Summer

Episode 12: "wop"

Simeon the Armourer comes to survey the party’s new toys, bringing along a half-dozen engineers and apprentices. He approves heartily of Aeryn and the rangers’ clearing equipment, giving them a couple of apprentices to help replicate what they’ve already done, but mocks the efforts of Mark and crew and their wonky crossbows. After some sketching and calculating, he orders D’Argo and Crichton around for a while, eventually ending up with eight redesigned monopod-and-belly-braced functional weapons.

While all the building is happening, Aeryn sneaks out of camp towards Stonehenge. Carrying the emerald leaf she received from the Summer faeries – all unbeknownst to the other party members – she walks right up to the enemy camp. The sentries obviously notice her, but as soon as they do so, their eyes glaze over and their attention wanders. Thus she makes her way invisibly into the camp. She surveys the outer rings of tents and warriors before turning inwards to the henge itself. As she comes closer to the monument, the emerald begins to heat up to body heat, pulsing with a gentle green light not unlike a heartbeat. The closer to the ring of sarsen stones, the faster and brighter the beat. In the space between the tent camp and the henge are various foci and fetishes, crystals on carved sticks, cairns of stones, and so on. By the time she makes it to the stone ring the emerald is feverishly warm and physically pulling her towards the center of the ring.

Within Stonehenge proper there are roughly two dozen presumed Faerie mages in their full wild regalia, moving about the massive monument adjusting their works. Multiple concentric rings of spell-workings fill the area, drawn in sand and salt and cut into the ground, marked with roughly glowing gems and indecipherable runes. None of these faeries pay any more attention to Aeryn than the ones before. She moves ever inward, feeling the charge in the air grow. The innermost circle is drawn in something resembling diamond dust. It’s about twenty feet across and completely blank inside. Aeryn can feel the barrier of the circle passing across her skin as she steps through, but it does not stop her. As soon as she steps through, first one, then all of the Faerie mages stare at her in horrified recognition. Then the emerald lifts itself from her pocket, levitates to the center of the circle, and sets down with a soundless, blinding detonation. When Aeryn’s vision clears she sees the Summer Lady, Lily, as she stands up straight in the circle.

The mages drop and genuflect before Lily, who greets Aeryn warmly. She asks whether Aeryn would prefer that they leave immediately, or first go and talk to the faerie commander; Aeryn picks the latter. Lily summons up a small grey sparrow to send a message back to the party, hoping to have the army ready for a show of force. They move unerringly and uncaringly towards the commander’s tent. Lily breezes past the guards, dismisses the crowd, and orders one faerie to fetch the general. When the general arrives he bows to Lily. The conversation covers a few topics. Aeryn tries to get the general to release Rygel, but he insists that he should speak to Titania first. Lily suggests that Rygel is worth more free and working with them than traded to Winter for political capital. The general states that he expects Titania to appear here within the next day or two. Lily suggests a general parley between the faeries and the humans. The general agrees, but thinks they should wait until Titania arrives; thus he extends a 48-hour truce for that purpose. Lily and Aeryn head out to camp.

The sparrow arrives in the army camp, alighting upon D’Argo’s crossbow project. It starts to sing its message to him. D’Argo slaps the everloving shit out of the tiny sparrow, sending it hurtling into a tree across the clearing, its broken body thudding to the ground at its base. At this point D’Argo realizes he was starting to understand what the sparrow was saying. Crichton examines the spell on the sparrow, feeling its intricacy and the Summer nature of its construction. D’Argo and Crichton try to explain to Tristan what just happened, then gather together the commanding knights to try to get them to move the army early. Lancelot and Gawain, the military men, are opposed; the army isn’t ready to move yet. Tristan, the ranger, and Percival and Galahad, the templar, are willing to move with their five thousand men.

Crichton tries to convince them of their purpose, but they’re unswayed. He racks his brain and eventually starts speaking of destiny, and things beyond understanding, and something that will convince them of his true purpose. When he pulls out his copy of Le Morte d’Arthur Mark immediately smacks it out of his hand, warning him that introducing that sort of paradox into the timestream is far beyond just a Sixth Law violation, it might undo all of human history from that point forward. While they argue, Gawain convinces Lancelot that he at least can tell the truth of D’Argo’s words. He forces D’Argo to swear to him, looking right into his eyes, that everything is true. He is satisfied and says as much to Lancelot, shaking his confidence slightly. Crichton changes his tack, trying to explain how important the book is, that it represents all of his knowledge and dreams, and that he will give it to Lancelot as his surety that this must be done. He puts it in Lancelot’s leather pouch and hands it over. Now completely adrift, Lancelot crimps a copper coin around the closure of the pouch, sealing it semi-permanently, and acquiesces to their demands. The army moves out to the ridge.

Crichton, D’Argo, and Tristan scout the ridge, spotting two figures moving through the camp like boats in the ocean, leaving a wake of empty space. Eventually they recognize Aeryn and Lily. Tristan rides ahead to the camp, making sure Lily gets a queen’s welcome from the knights. They sit at a round table inside a large tent and begin to discuss what must be done. They are interrupted by a commotion outside. Two hundred footmen and peasant soldiers are threatening to overwhelm the dozen halberdiers guarding the tent; they saw the Faerie Queen go inside, and they demand that she be given over so that they can murder her. Aeryn commands them to leave, trying to convince them how dangerous Lily really is. About half of them do, but the rest are too angry. Something happens. Perhaps someone trips, or gets over-zealous, but suddenly a guard and a footman are wounded, and the fighting begins. Through shouted commands, brandished weapons, and sheer force of actual violence the knights and the party beat back the mob, killing a dozen or so, arresting another dozen, and running off the rest. When they go back, Lily is quietly sitting at the table still. She apologizes with great grace, saying that she should have considered more carefully just what her appearance meant to the human soldiers.

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