Song: Girls – Marina and the Diamonds.
Admittedly, more of a sketch of a beginning than a story in itself.
Bronagh snapped the magic off with a sharp twist of her fingers and peered into a small hand mirror. The midnight blue tone she had pulled over her eyes worked well to soften their natural searing black, she would have to thank Simeon for the advice when she returned. Her jawline and nose though remained a touch too sharp and long to be truly pleasing. Not that she could quite bring herself to spend any more effort on correcting them. Or her dress for that matter. Even with the addition of a dusky purple, its colour still looked too much like tarnished silver. The arbiters of style that made up the Faerie Court would just have to remain displeased with her. It was the only thing they ever seemed to agree on, it would be a shame to ruin that now. Especially today.
Flicking the mirror into a neat tuck inside the Veil, Bronagh pushed back her hair (not black enough to be fashionable, not grey enough to be striking), set her shoulders (still too boney), and set her hands (a pair of pale spiders) against the throne room doors. Despite their great weight, they glided open effortlessly and she moved into the refined hubbub of court life. Each being here was a vision of perfection. Softly curving flesh dressed in shifting silks, shining locks of hair tumbling artlessly across shoulders, lips pert, eyes gleaming as they swapped gossip like gospel. This fantastical parody of a functioning government sickened Bronagh. Being one of a handful who could remember what it was like before Dee wormed his way through the Veil, she remembered the fierce administration of the original Faerie Court. But she did have to admit, the current Court surpassed themselves daily in the goal of obeying every human dictate as if they were still a colony. Tightly strung with pain and pride, they followed the human ideals with cattish aloofness, determined to out human the humans. Some days it felt as if the Emancipation Charter had never been made.
The room was rather more full than usual, certainly more full than she had predicted. But that was to be expected, today was going to be memorable, sustaining Bronagh for the decades, even centuries, of work to come. Even so, she did not appreciated the crowds that hampered her way to a quiet space at the edges. Let others make insipid conversation, she just needed a position from which to observe. A squarish human-made vase near to the dais forced a small eddie into which she squeezed herself in and checked her sight lines. When the proceedings started and everyone turned towards the throne she would be able to spy their expressions, and her own view of the Queen would be second to none. Perfect. She settled down to wait, eyes trained on the crowd, watching every move.
Her patience was quickly rewarded as the Faerie Queen soon entered, gliding from her private rooms set to the left, and daintily arranging herself on the confection of a throne. Raised another two feet from the top of the dais, and gilded within an inch of its life, it forced the Court to crane their necks backwards as they gazed upon their ruler. Bronagh remembered her election, how the then young fae had clasped her hands as if she’d won a pageant at the announcement, and how, as her face became more and more doctored with glamour, the parliament had emptied of all but one chair. These days, any proceedings were merely for show. Of course, this was allowed to happen thanks to a rush-job of a government to fill the vacuum of the abdicating British, but Bronagh still liked to blame the Queen. As usual, the thick scent of lavender washed from the Queen, a quaint affection that failed to hide the scent of old age that clung to her skin. Like all Queens, she had human heritage. A natural cap to how long any Queen would be able to lead the Faerie Court, impossible to surmount, and something that this foppish queen was staring at the business end of. Her predecessors had worn it with pride, a sign of their station and privilege. But this one was vain as a peacock, and a glutton for power to boot.
The longer she stayed on the throne, the more uneasy Bronagh became.
A skinny shadow of a human woman scurried in the Queen’s wake, setting herself at the foot of a throne on a green pouf. Bronagh had heard rumour that, on the other side of the Veil. this woman was of some station and power, but she had a hard time believing it of the toadying woman. Always at heel and leaning in every few moments to flatter the Queen, Bronagh just could not see her as anything of merit, let alone a functioning ambassador of the human world, and so she did not let her thoughts linger on her long. A bigger fish was on its way.
Though a mere baron, Gladius was the archetypal elf. A delight to look upon with his sea green eyes and long, gold painted limbs, his every manner charmingly roguish. The Court swooned at his feet and the Queen allowed him every privilege. Ones that included stepping up to the throne without invite.
“My darling, dearest Queen! It has been much too long, I feared I would wither away before I next saw you. But now I can consider myself rejuvenated.” Bronagh stifled a gag, he was laying it on a bit thick today. “Do you wish me to silence the Court so that you may speak?” By this point not a single person stirred, but, always one to amuse herself in theatrics, the Faerie Queen accepted with a small laugh.
“Baron Gladius, it has not even been two hours since you last left my side! But if you will, I wish to speak to the Court of two quite momentous occasions.”
Two? There should only be one. Bronagh did not like it when the Court did not do as predicted. It was normally such a simple beast, but even the most docile horse could throw its rider. Gladius bellowed for silence across the still room, keen to make the most of every scrap of power he was given.
“Sanga, step forward,” the Queen called softly and a sylph with burnished skin stepped forward. “Welcome, my dear Lady, back into our ranks. For those who have not yet heard, Landy Sanga has regained her land and therefore her place with us. It fills my heart to see her once again as I am sure it does for all of you. But it does come at the heavy price of the death of its human owner, Sir Garret, without heir. As per the Charter, all land retained by humans will revert to its original owner on the occasion of their death without direct descendant. I am glad you are here, but wish it was not for such a painful occasion. I am sure Ambassador Etain will however convey our sorrows to Sir Garret’s friends and peers.” Lady Sanga bowed, her murmured thanks only just heard above the smattering of applause.
Bronagh could barely breathe. Sanga thankfully had not once looked her way, and they had been careful to keep their distance from one another, but something itched at her. The human Ambassador did not look remotely sad at the death of one of her own, and the Queen’s face took on the expression of anticipation. They could not know what she had done.
“And now for my second treat to you all. Mistress Bronagh, please present yourself.”