Chapter 10. What is light without dark?
Deana found herself in the rooms her uncle had always placed her in. She knew that had to be the doing of the Palace steward who was still with the Palace. The rooms were large and airy and had a view of the gardens. Her belongings had already arrived and were unpacked for her. Taking time to give herself a proper washing, and changing into a fresh tunic and leggings, Deana left her rooms to join her uncle in the secret place in the old garden. It was somewhere no one else seemed to go, and she was glad. The last thing he needed was a bunch of nosey so and so's, and she hardly had the patience for it.
Like Jareth, and Quinn she was more or less an outcast in the eyes of many in this large and dysfunctional family. She was too headstrong for some of the Court's liking and too independent. She had no liking for the pastime of gossip like so many of the court's women did. And as others had discovered she had no intentions on letting any man run her life or her parent's kingdom. Too much had been put into the saving of the Kingdom just to hand it over to some upstart male, just because he had something dangling between his legs was something she was unwilling to do. Like Jareth had vowed to protect the Labyrinth and Quinn had vowed to protect Tarsi, so Deana had vowed to protect Asgard-Aesir. And for their devotions, each was being subjected to harassment from others in the Court. There were times when each had toyed with the idea of joining the UnSeelie courts… but resisted the temptation as it would have broken Oberon's heart.
Quinn's garden had been a place of solace for her when ever she'd been a guest on Tarsi. The old garden especially, with its draping willows, and its night blooming flowers all tucked within the crumbling walls that reminded her of the Labyrinth. And of course there was the old well, which Quinn had told her, could grant wishes. She had never really been sure if he was serious, or joking, but often enough her requests were granted and kept her wondering. Now she was overjoyed at reuniting with her uncle in this magical garden. There were enough activities going on that few would notice someone entering the old garden path. Once on the path the twists and turns obscured the walker from others view. Sweet fragrances of flowers and herbs and the scent of clean fresh air filled the path. To say it was a pleasant task to walk would have been doing it little justice.
Quinn and the Champions used a secret passage from the castle out to the old garden. Like the Castle beyond the Goblin City, the Crystal Palace of Tarsi was riddled with passages and traps. The only thing missing it seemed were goblins. They had entered the passage in one of the lower level storerooms. No one had even seemed to notice that the Goblin King and his champions were in a part of the palace they really had no business being in. Like the tunnel under the Labyrinth, the passage had twists and turns. For a long time it seemed to go down, and then it changed and went upward again. Sarah followed closely behind the Goblin King as he led the way down a path that exited into sunlight after coming out of a water fall. Once they were out of the waterfall they could see that they were in a secret garden within some ruin walls. Sarah looked about the garden and recognized many of Quinn's favorite plants. She wondered if they would have long to wait.
Quinn took hold of her hand, "She's coming," he announced and pointed to the direction his niece would come from.
Sarah didn't miss the excitement or the pleasure in his voice. "You're sure you want to drag her into this?" She asked quietly.
"I don't really have a choice," Quinn explained. "What happens to the Goblin Kingdom and to Tarsi its self will affect Deana's kingdom."
"I've read a bit about Asgard-Aesir," Anne said agreeing with Quinn. "Just three hundred years ago it was two separate kingdoms, with little likely hood of either surviving the on going battles between the Fae and the Elves who lived there, let alone their outside enemies. When push came to shove, they only united because they didn't want to be ruled by Orks or Garthans."
Ryan listened to his wife and held up a hand, "Orks and Garthans?"
Quinn nodded, "Marauding Orks and Garthans…"
"Why didn't Oberon step in and… do something?"
Quinn let Giles answer the question posed by the Paladin. "Because even though Oberon is High King, and even the elves have to obey him, he's not the person in charge of the day to day ruling of a kingdom… He placed his sons on thrones to do just that. Deana's father was made crown prince of Asgard when he was a youth… he being the child of a High King and High Queen there could be no disputing his authority…Deana's mother on the other hand is the daughter of the last King and Queen of Aesir, it was Oberon himself who stepped in and demanded that there be a blending of the blood."
"For all the good it did him," Quinn sighed. "I was a child when all this took place, as was Jareth… we watched as the adults made fools of themselves… demanding that Elf and Fae live as brothers… In those kingdoms they didn't even trust each other... Elves refused to accept a Fae leader, and Fae's looked down their long noses at the Elves. AT the time there was only a sketchy truce with the Kingdom of Labyrinthia with both Asgard and Aesir," he took a seat on a broken wall beside the old well. "The way the five major Kingdoms is set up is so there is a place for each dominate race to breed freely. Somewhere along the line, things got muddled and Orks decided they didn't want the rest of the races in existence anywhere. Orks never did like being told where they could and could not go, or hunt or anything else for at matter… They would come through, ravage an area and think nothing of it…"
Ann picked up the story again. "Oberon sanctioned the blending of kingdoms to preserve life… He arranged the marriage of his son the Crown prince of one land to the Crown princess of the other, but in doing so he caused a minor scandal…"
"I've been called many things," a haughty but pleasant feminine voice declared; "But never a scandal." The woman belonging to the voice came into the clearing. She was Fae, no mistaking that, but she was not all Fae. Her skin was more translucent, almost glowing with a soft little shimmer. Her eyes like Jareth's were mismatched slightly, one the soft green shade of jade the other was Hazel with flecks of gold and green mixed with the rich brown. Her oval face seemed more open and honest than most of the Fae whom the champions had met. Her face was framed by long red hair that fell in waves of shimmering ringlets. Her coloring reminded many of the wild foxes of her kingdom, and she in truth felt a great affinity for them. She was not as tall as many of the High Fae attending the festival, nor was she the rail thin silhouette some of the Fae females liked to portray. Like many of the women who attended the ball given by Jareth in that Crystal ballroom so long ago, this woman had a womanly figure. Her shapely curves were not hidden away by the garments she wore. Unlike many of the Seelie Court, Deana preferred simple to ostentatious. Her leggings were soft moss green, and she wore a laced up boot in doeskin. Her tunic was soft peach colored silk, and it was covered by a jerkin in rich forest green that bore a crest with a rampant Unicorn.
"Nonsense," Quinn quipped back. "You've been called far worse." He smiled at his favorite niece in greeting. "Come Deana; meet my wife and my friends."
"YOUR WIFE?" the girl raised her voice slightly as her left brow rose upward. "I thought she was Jareth's wife…"
"Technically, she is." Quinn said enjoying the scandalous sound. "But it's my body!" he growled suggestively. "I think I have some claim there as well…"
Wincing and making a face at her uncle the unusual Fae came forward to embrace him. "I don't think I'll ever get use to that." She borrowed her face into his shoulder and sniffed the scent to be sure who it was holding her. She allowed herself to believe it was real.
"Join the club," Anne said liking the new red head instantly. "I'm still getting use to it."
Still holding her shoulder with tenderness he showed to very few, Quinn introduced Deana to the others gathered about them. "Crown princess, and presumptive Queen Daena Dé Danann of Asgard-Aesir, may I present my wife... Queen Sarah of the Dragon's clutch."
Deana pulled free of her uncle's arm and moved to embrace the Queen of the Labyrinth. "I'm so pleased to meet you at long last… I do hope you'll forgive my absences at your wedding…" Sarah nodded with a serene smile. "Affairs of state," she sighed. "You're just as I thought you'd be…Lady of the Labyrinth."
Quinn went on, "This handsome lad is my Paladin, Ryan and his wife my Scribe, Anne… and that handsome fellow there is Giles, our archer."
Deana greeted each in turn, "I've kept up with what is going on in the Labyrinth, and I am amazed by your adventures! I feel like I already know each of you," she turned to the Scribe, "Did you really ride a dragon in your husband's stead, dressed in his armor and under the spell of a glamour?"
"Yep, that was me," Anne announced proudly. She winked at her husband. "It was quite the race too."
"And you punched the Archer of Tarsi?" Deana was marveling.
"Floored him," Anne admitted proudly before adding in a bawdy tone. "I then offered to feed his balls to my dragon. However before I could the sniveling little worm went and cut himself with one of his own poison arrows." She shrugged. "I would never have served any part of him to my Dragon…she'd get sick on his caucus and she's got much better taste than to eat something that foul."
"Oh I do like you," Deana said in a husky tone. "I'd have paid to have seen that alone! Never cared for that man, always thought he was a climber… But for you, a woman to have won the race… a first in Fae history!"
"Their win cost me the mines," Quinn sighed.
"You didn't want the mines," Anne scoffed.
Somberness came over the group, Deana voiced the concerns. "The mines were where Elise attacked you and Uncle Jareth, and where the shattered soul was joined?"
"Indeed, they were…" Quinn sobered up. "And they and the joining are part of the reason I've asked you to join us here." He motioned for everyone to take a seat where they could. Once everyone was seated he addressed the Crown-princess once more; "Deana, in your travels, did you ever come across portions of the old prophecy?"
"I may have," the girl admitted without hesitation, "without ever having known it. My life in captivity," she referred to an incident that her uncle was aware of; "Took me thither and yon." She turned her attentions to the Lady Anne, "You are the Scribe, do you carry a…" Anne shoved the scroll at the Fae woman before her sentence was finished. "Thank you…" she unrolled it and began to read. "Oh… oh, dear..." she commented with a frown. "Did anyone notice how broken up this is?"
"It was pieced together…" Anne stated. "They, whoever they are, hid the clues here there and everywhere."
"This is familiar…" Deana lowered the scroll and looked off into space. "Where was it," she mused thinking back to her travels. "We came across an old temple…" She focused her thoughts, remembering something that was painful. "It had been ransacked before we arrived, and we camped there during a storm. It was dangerous and we could not stay long, but I managed to have a bit of a look about the place." She looked down at the scroll in her hands. "There were all kinds of scrolls there; some had the royal seal of Oberon. I'm sure the official scroll that is in the keeping of the Druids has just such a seal."
"A temple? Where?" Quinn questioned.
"In the foothills on the far side of Utgard, just beyond their boarder, but within raiding distance. It must have once been a thriving community." Deana answered still with eyes looking off into space. "As I recall, the Orks had raided that hillside and destroyed all living things…and the grown was left to go fallow… it was a mess when we arrived. No signs of anyone having been there for ages. Orks don't leave many clues behind you know. They are known to eat their captives if there's nothing else about."
"Do you think you'd be able to find it again?" Anne asked. "If we had a map could you locate it on a map?"
"Map?" the other asked vaguely. "Why, yes… I think I could. The tribe I was traveling with didn't use maps, although I'm sure I could locate it on a map if I tried."
Anne turned to Quinn, "Can the Goblin King request the use of Klaws' map room without bringing down too much suspicion on our heads?" Quinn shrugged in answer.
Deana was looking at the scroll in her hands once more, "Uncle…" she hesitated. "For what reason would anyone want to separate you? I thought the point of the prophecy was to join the shattered soul and unite it once and for all… why would anyone want to undo all that you went through?"
Guiltily the man looked over at Sarah; "To call into question the issue of issue."
Looking at the Goblin's Queen as well, Deana huffed. "That can only mean dear aunt Elise left henchmen to do her bidding, and that she expects to hand over Labryinthia to that brat spawn of hers, and once Labryinthia and Tarsi are his he'll want Asgard-Aesir."
"Such a loving family," Anne mocked.
"Have you met my cousin?" Deana said with no hidden feelings. "He's a horror."
"I'm aware," Anne was thinking back to being chanced in a maze by a crazed Minotaur. "He also cheats," Anne grumbled.
"He wants revenge," Sarah stated calmly, wondering how she could sound so calm when she was anything but. "I bested him, and destroyed his evil playground."
"He and his mother should have been banished," Deana complained with venom. "I suspect Elise to be behind my own parents' disappearance." She looked at Quinn, "She's not above anything when it comes to getting what she wants. And the woman has no bonds to any of the others in the family…in fact she hates us all. For years she's been under the impression that she and her son were the only true heirs."
"Would you say she had…a face in shadows, eyes seeming to shine like the moon, and that she has known evil?" Sarah asked.
"No, I would never describe her eyes as shining like the moon…" Deana lamented. "Her eyes are more like ice." She began to pace, much like her uncles would when thinking. "And she does not bother with shadows, she feels she's above all others and has no need to hide. I was amazed when Grandsire turned her into a crystal statue for her punishment…."
"We're looking for someone else?" Giles asked.
Deana snickered for a moment, "Hiding in shadows sounds more like me when I was a captive…." Her smile faded as she noticed the stares. "Wait, I'm not against Quinn or Uncle Jareth, and I would never choose Robin over either of them…"
"Not everybody in the prophecy is on Elise's side." Anne pointed out. "Some are mentioned to help us."
Quinn held out his hand to Deana, "I know you're on my side, fear not." As her fingers moved into his he added. "Jareth knows that as well."
Sarah took the scroll in her hands, "You've known evil?"
"I was held as a slave for a long time," her voice didn't sound bitter, but troubled. "I've seen evil first hand, experienced it and tasted it's bitter brew."
"But you seem so… stable compared to someone like Elise…" Ryan remarked.
"What is light without dark?" Deana sighed. "WE Fae live very long lives… it takes us a long time to reach maturity…some of us never do. In those long lives we partake of much, good and bad." She shook her head, "You are new to this side, and you've only known the mortal realm where your lives are over in the batting of an eye. It's different here."
Quinn agreed with the young Fae woman. "She's right you know… you can't take on something like a prophecy scroll on this side and keep thinking like a mundane mortal….you have to think like the ones who wrote it."
"Who did write this?" Anne asked, "Jareth never said."
"Because he and I didn't know," Quinn sighed deeply.
Deana turned to her Uncle and smiled a wickedly joyous smile. "Well there's no time like the present to find out if the scrolls in Utgard are what you need. They may even have a clue as to who authored the original prophecy. I suggest we leave now before anyone notices we're up to something….we can get the scrolls and be back for dinner."
Some inner sense told Sarah to look up, over head were a flock of crows. "Too late," she pointed upward; "Looks like we're being watched."
"It's only Crows," Anne said as her eyes were cast upward as well.
"Sarah's right," Quinn retorted. "There have never been crows on Tarsi…."
"They're too high to hear us… well…." Deana leaned to her uncle; "The cave?"
"Agreed…" he clasped her hand and she took Sarah's. In turn each hand was clasped until they formed a circle. Once the circle was complete, Quinn used his magic to transport them…..