13: Learheart

Image by Sattva courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

faerie story

Surely everyone remembers where they were on day that Lord Learheart appeared on the BBC, claiming to be the King of the faeries.
You might have thought it was a joke. You can’t trust what they say on the news anymore, it’s even worse than it was before.
But I remember him, and how I thought he just looked like one of them.
He had long flaxen hair down to his waist, straight and shimmering. He had the sharp face that all Fae have, and his eyes were green, they were dragon’s eyes.
He said,
“Now DNA evidence can prove that we are a race apart, and that we deserve respect.”
His voice held every throat silent, every eye watching.
“I command all Fae, that is, all who would believe they are of faerie stock, to come forward and be tested.”
He said this and he knew exactly which camera to look down, I swear I thought he was looking straight at me then, when really he was looking for me. But I didn’t know that.
The human presenter was talking, I think she said,
“Yes, if you would like to be tested, there are dedicated clinics being set up all around the country – check the web for more details and your nearest clinic.” Her hair was blonde and cupped her posh face so neatly. But it looked like a haystack when she sat beside the faerie King. All beauty paled beside his like butter melting.

I went onto the website and located my nearest clinic. It was quite a while away, I would need to take two buses (I couldn’t afford the train as I had just graduated and didn’t have a job – we lived quite far out you see).
I noticed also, that on the website it listed the traits that suggested Fae characteristics. I felt a bit deflated because I didn’t think I fit a lot of them. The main ones I had though – the sharp face, the light eyes, thick hair, nimble. But I was so much smaller than the average Fae height, and my hair was very dark and coarse. I had no freckles, but I suppose I do have a sort of sing-song voice. I wanted to ask my mother if she thought so, but she was at work, and would probably have said it was a silly question anyway.
When I got to the clinic I was very hot and bothered. All the other people in the queue looked so hopelessly cool. They were lounging with their long legs and long arms and perfect faerie hair, and I felt really quite out of place, so I kept my head down and tried to fill in the form they gave me as neatly as I good, in my best hand writing.
I had put my nice perfume on thank goodness, so at least I smelled the part. I tried to choose something flowery, but I didn’t really know what faeries were supposed to smell like.
When my turn came I stuck my arm out and they took the blood. I didn’t say anything, I just watched as the blood oozed out, viscous and ruby coloured, into the tube. I had to stifle some disappointment that it was not a more exotic colour, but then I had no idea what faerie blood looked like either. The nurse smiled at me, I think she noticed that I was different and maybe either felt sorry for me, or liked me because of it. She said,
“Have you had this done before, your bloods, have you had them taken before?”
I shook my head.
“Oh,” she said, she had bright rosy cheeks.
“It’s just that you are so calm about it, I’ve had so many faint on me today!”
Right enough, when I came out I saw some young people all leaning against the wall comforting each other, holding their arms as if they had been mortally wounded. I walked past them and was completely ignored. I had in my hands some brochures the nurse had given me, about what to do if I found out I was Fae. I honestly didn’t expect to find out anything, I only went because, well, it was that man, Lord Learheart, he had looked right at me.
Can you call a faerie a man?

I remember it as if it were yesterday, getting the letter.
I remember how I held it for a while just staring at the words on the page. They said there was a hotline I should call. I frantically began searching my room for those brochures they had given me but I think I used them as bookmarks. I just love reading, but I always loose the markers because they tend to fall out, and so I usually end up using tissues.
I called the number and the woman on the phone was very excited. She said they wanted to see me straight away. Did I realise I was 91 percent Fae? 91 percent! Imagine!
That’s what she said to me on the phone, she sounded totally hysterical. I hung up after agreeing to come visit them at the HQ. I suppose I was very excited. I had never been to London.

When I arrived I was wearing my new outfit that mum had bought me. She said I didn’t own any clothes fit for meeting Fae royalty. I said I didn’t think I would, I would probably only be talking to some sort of representative or other, but mum was adamant. I think she was desperate for me to meet Lord Learheart, because she had been dead set against the faerie stuff until I showed her the clip of Lord Learheart on Youtube, and then she just went all girly and suddenly thought it was a wonderful idea. She went off to get tested herself, but she had a lower score than me, and so wasn’t invited to London. I think it had been my dad who had most of the Fae blood in him. But my mum did have some too, which apparently is very rare, to have it in both parents I mean.
As I said, when I got there, they made quite a bit of a fuss of me. They gave me yet more clothes – very rustic – and all this silver jewellery (I’m allergic to iron and all that cheap stuff). They were tall, but not as tall as I would have expected, still not like me though, except the face, and maybe the eyes. They cooed over me and took me to dinner in this fancy hotel. We were having a great time, laughing and drinking and the lights from the chandeliers were so bright, and I had just started to relax when a man started asking me all these strange questions. He wasn’t a Fae I don’t think. One of the faeries came rushing over when he saw us talking and dragged me away. The man had been a reporter. The faerie said the word as if it made him feel sick. I was taken to my room after that, and then I fell asleep in my second pair of new clothes because I was exhausted and my feet hurt.
The next day it all got more serious.

They told me that Lord Learheart had issued a decree. The Fae Kingdom was at war with the Coalition government of the England. Apparently the Prime Minister had met with Lord Learheart, but that they had had quite a major falling out, as the PM did not agree with Learheart’s religion.
When I asked one of my new Fae friends why, she said,
“Oh it’s because of our adherence to Pagan Polytheism. You’d think he had practically ingested The Golden Bough, ridiculous, antiquarian, outdated, the man is a cretin. He has no culture at all to speak about.”
I smiled at her politely, then tried to memorise what she had said. I wanted to sound just like her, and the other faeries now, but it was not how I talk at all.
I was enlisted into the army that afternoon. They gave me a beautiful uniform, gilded with silver and turquoise. They gave me a sword too (it was wonderful looking with a fancy jewelled hilt, but it was a bit heavy really), a shield, a dagger and a bow. No one told me how to use them though, and mostly the only army work I was expected to do was to patrol my local shopping centre, and the Friday fish market. They wanted me as a Regional Representative in case any Fae were put in danger. No one told me what to do if something bad happened to one of us, they just told me to:
“Fight! Spare no human mercy who defies the Fae! Honour your Lord Learheart, do him proud above all things. For an attack against even one faerie is an assault upon his majesty.”
I smiled at them, and nodded, and hoped nothing of the sort would ever happen. I couldn’t imagine killing someone, even if it was allowed by Fae law, and even if there was a war on.

As much as I liked being in the Fae army, sometimes I missed being like the others, other human friends I had grown up with. I mean, I had always been strange and different, and at first it was nice to know why, but then it only seemed to make the loneliness more strong. You see, I was not a proper human anymore (not that I ever had been) but I was also not really like the other Fae, not really.
They said they loved me, because I was so special (91 percent!) but really I think they too thought I was a little different.
My regular humans friends stopped hanging around at the supermarket to wait for me after everything closed down for the night. I don’t think they meant it in a bad way. They just knew that I couldn’t be one of them anymore. But it was alright. Sometimes I would go off into the fields and sleep under the trees, waiting for the stars to come out. At first I did it because I thought that’s what Fae did, and anyway I quite enjoyed it.
(When I told this to a faerie that I knew, she just laughed and laughed and said “don’t be silly, nobody does that anymore! Imagine how the elements would batter one’s face black and blue!”)
And so I moved to London.

I had been given an absolute mountain of faerie gold by the Fae council, because I was so unique. I had no idea what to spend that on, so I went and bought a nice place beside the Fae embassy which overlooks the River Thames. It has a balcony and I like to keep little trees in pots on there because I miss the countryside so much.
One day, I received a very important letter. I knew how important it was immediately because it sealed with a pretty golden flower, lily-of-the-valley, (not a real one) and had gold leaf all around the edges.
Lord Learheart wanted to see me it said. I phoned my mum immediately and she was in bits Gods love her.
Lord Learheart had the most amazing house. It was more like a palace. It was out in the countryside a little way, so as you would never know that you were anywhere near the motorway.
It had gorgeous fountains and hedges in the shapes of animals and birds and in the grounds were real peacocks! I wasn’t allowed to take photos they said, but that was ok because mum would only be disgusted with jealousy. That’s what she said when I told her all about it.
He was so handsome, and he moved everywhere as if he weighed nothing at all. Just like Tolkien’s elves. I always loved reading about Middle Earth, really it was like a dream come true. Only I wish he lived somewhere like Rivendell. The palace was amazing, but it was just a big stately home really now that I think about it. Sad really, they sold it to an investment banker a few months ago. He wasn’t even a Fae, but I had no control over that due to some legal loophole in the will.
He looked me up and down when I first came into the big ballroom that he used as an office.
He smiled and his eyes widened.
I had never had that reaction before. Usually the Fae looked at me down their noses a bit. But Lord Learheart didn’t, even if they did say he was a bit up himself.
“It’s true then, you are the finest specimen of a pure blood Fae now existing on this earth.”
I felt a bit awkward. The room was so big, and I was so small and he was staring at me.
“I’m not sure your Lordship. You see, I only know about Fae that are local to the British Isles and that.”
He nodded and smiled again, his eyes glittered. He was rather lovely.
“Of course, but you are the most impressive Fae I have yet encountered. Come and have a seat.”
I sat on a big golden couch, he paced around the room, picking things up, examining them, and then putting them down again.
“Oh, thank you.” I said.
I told him, after a while, that I didn’t know why I was so special, that I didn’t think I was half as beautiful as the other Fae I’d seen.
“Oh but you are beautiful” he had said. The way he said it almost made me believe it. That was the magic that he did have, even if he didn’t have the other sort of magic.
“You do realise that the Fae were always more like you than like them,” he waved at some Fae staff that were lounging around by the doors.
“…or me for that matter.”
I must have given him a perplexed look because he laughed.
“It doesn’t matter, I’ll tell you all about it later.”
But he never really got a chance to.

A man from the BNP stabbed him just outside Covent Garden after a Fae rally.
All his personal guard were so busy fighting with the humans that they sort of forgot all about him and left him by the stage, bleeding.
His blood was just as viscous, and ruby-coloured as mine.
I knelt down beside him on the ground, I cupped his flaxen head in my little hand.
“It’s alright,” he said. “It was the same for Martin Luther King.”
I was so upset that I couldn’t even remember who that was and I just cried.
“My dear,” he said, (through the blood on his white teeth).
“My dear, they don’t like us because we are different, and you are even more different than most. But you have to be in charge now.”
“Why?” I said, I have never been more upset in my life.
“Because you are the only one who can get things done properly. None of the others are organised enough to bother to lift a finger, aah”
He coughed and spat blood. Red Fae blood on the grey ground.
“I bequeath it all to you,” he said, and he made me take a blood stained page out of his jacket pocket, and he used my ball point pen, and he wrote down his will and signed it. I countersigned, but I was weeping so much that the page was soaked.
“You see, the others would have used a fountain pen of course and this would all now be a blurred mess” he laughed, it was the last time because he was dying now.
“Oh why can’t they get an ambulance!” I looked about but there were too many people fighting and pushing all round us, and I knew it was too late.
“I don’t even know your blood type!” I shouted, I was so frustrated.
He just smiled up at me, lips all red and glistening.
“I’m only 63 percent” he said, his eyes still twinkling.
“What?”
“Yes, yes I’m-” he coughed and coughed.
“-I’m barely more than human, imagine!” The thought seemed so funny to him but I don’t know why.
“Oh I don’t think that matters at all, that’s just silly numbers, everyone loves you.”
I said, and it was true, they all had done, even now they loved him so much that they were fighting for his honour, battling with the protesters, and they were so passionate about their cause that they had forgotten all about us.
“I think there might still be magic in the Fae blood, you should look into it. You, more than anyone might wield it against the Coalition. There is an old man I know, who says he’s descended from Merlin, I…”
But he was fading away from me by that stage, the blood was spilling out all over me and my new uniform, and the cold, hard ground. The last words he spoke on this earth, were in a whisper in my ear as he held my hands,
“It doesn’t really matter who you are, it’s who you really are, that matters.”
He died and I was all alone.

I like to think he went to that place that all Fae go to. I think it might be some sort of woodland. I imagine it as filled with trees, hanging with stars like Christmas lights. Just like in my old student flat, where we hung the lights over the furniture even when it wasn’t Christmas.
He left me everything, the army, all the money, everything. Except the house. Like I said, there was some problem with that.
I stopped the war with England even though I knew he would have been cross with me. But it was the best thing. I set up a political party instead and we have been gaining so much support, especially on Facebook and Twitter. I really hope everyone comes out and votes.
I’m not as enigmatic as Lord Learheart was, but I took his name. He told me I could. I’m going to see that man he told me about. The one who was descended from Merlin. His address is in Glastonbury so I guess he must be legit.
I want to find out if there is still magic in my blood. I know that Lord Learheart didn’t believe he was capable of magic.
But he was.

 

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2 thoughts on “13: Learheart

  1. Great story Eils – really nice blend of fantasy and the modern – and makes you keen to read on!

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