Fable - Ask A Wisp of Shadows

Cillian

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One of the greatest gifts for any storyteller was to have an audience who was invested in the story they were weaving. Cadwyn was the perfect listened. Though she sat upon his shoulder and thus he couldn't focus on her properly for his eyes were trained on the road ahead of them to keep their path true, he could feel every little emotion. Sometimes it was the intensity of the glow, other times it was the startled flutter of her wings against his cheek, and others it was a light tug in his hair as she paused in her braiding. It fuelled the emotion behind his story even more.

"Aye, all the shinies," he chuckled, choosing to ignore her startled question about humanity. She had suffered enough it seemed cruel to talk of dark things. T'were also bad luck on these roads. There was a reason the Black Market was held were it was and that was because the roads were a tricksy thing. Even now if he looked behind him he knew that the enchantments that kept the place hidden would have removed the road from sight. If his gaze wavered from what was between Fraufrau's ears they might be lost in this troublesome bit of the woods for days.

"The story about rainbows? Well tha' was all down to a good friend o' mine - where we used tae live she were a bit of an artist 'nd had painted the pathway up to her house in chalk all tae shades of a rainbow," he grinned. "All real stories, but not quite 'ow ye would think. We do grant wishes though - that I will give ye - but only three."
 
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Cadwyn

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Cadwyn was already giddy about the truth regarding rainbows. The thought that it was due to painting a rainbow was such a lovely, lovely story! The thought of being surrounded by such colorful art made her wonder how big they'd drawn the ra

"Really?!" Shock and awe would radiate from the tiny Fae, her wings fluttering in excitement. Not only was she privy to the truth of the origins of these stories, but now Cillian confirmed that Leprachan's give out wishes!

"Real wishes?!!" up she darted into the air, coming up to hover along with Cillian's ear, magic drifting from the tips of her wings, sending little sparkles of joy.

"Any kind of wishes?" oh this was so lovely indeed. Cadwyn knew that Fae was unique, but she wasn't aware of the giving of wishes. Oh sure, her kind was able to give blessings and curses, but not the sort someone could ask for and she'd be able to give it.
 
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Cillian

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The magic almost tickled and he found himself smiling, creasing dimples into his cheeks. It was nice to actually be open with his magic for once. He would never tell a mortal these stories, their minds went straight to a way they could use them, twist them. But Cadwyn? It was like a mirror of the joy he felt when he learned something new. Like a new way to dye silk for his work or a whittling technique from some old hermit in the mountains. He hoarded them like he had once hoarded gold.

"Aye real wishes, bu' ye have to be careful with 'em - just like when you bestow boons or blessing's," words were key with all fae and it was no different for Cilli and the leprechauns. One omitted word could change an entire wish from something good to something bad. "There are some laws I cannae define of course, travelling through time is far beyond me, and raisin' the dead t'aint easy neither," but not impossible. It never went the way people wanted though.

"Cannae ask wha' your gifts are?"
 
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Cadwyn

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"Ohhh!" Cadwyn's tiny mouth turned into a small 'o' of intrigue at the explanation that one had to be very careful of the wishes one would ask for. Otherwise the bad could come with the good, or perhaps something that you didn't want to happen would!

Ah, but perhaps those who want the wishes aren't thinking things through. The small Fae would have pondered this more but Cillian completely distracted her by asking her about her own gifts.

"Oh me?" She asked, coming back down to set her bare feet upon the Leprachan's shoulder. Her delicate wings gave a flutter, and she gave a bashful appearance. Clasping her hands together in front of her lap, a rock of her heels and a shy response followed suit, "Oh... I can give blessings... small curses. I'm still young!" she added, explaining, "Got a lot of growing to do!" A wide smile would beam at Cillian with the warmth of the sun and the joy of summer.

Suddenly she went darting up, flying up to plop on top of the crown of Cillian's head, sending a shimmer of magic dust glittering around.

"And fire! I can play with fire and it does what I want it to do!"

There was more than met the eye with Cadwyn, but her kind was rare indeed. Once she came of age, she'd do more. So much more!

But for now, as Cadwyn delightfully took upon a lock of Cillian's hair to braid it, the small fae could only give a joyful hum.

"What sort of wishes have you've given out?" she inquired, the forest ever so dark and looming over them, but for now, their little joyful interaction was enough to be a small beacon of light.
 

Cillian

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He'd be lying if he said he wasn't enraptured by what Cadwyn had to say about her gifts. In truth, he still wasn't entirely sure what she was, just what she wasn't. He'd met pixies and wisps, nymphs and brownies. He'd passed through courts of the Winter King and the Summer Queen. Yet he couldn't think of a time he had passed something quite like her before. The powers just made it all the more confusing but intriguing. He wondered if she would travel with him for a little longer so he might figure it out.

There wasn't much left in the world when you were as old as Cillian that still intrigued him. Cadwyn was an enigma that was getting beneath his skin and her pleasant company was more than enjoyable.

He found his lips forming that crooked smile again as she flittered to and fro before finally lading atop his head. Cilli glanced up to where the faint glow could be seen and then back towards the road.

"Oh well, I dinnae like to wish 'n' tell," the leprechaun chuckled. "Bu' there has been some interestin' ones over the year, let's see..." he shifted back through his memories. "There was a Princess once who wished that every man who looked at her loved her, there were a beggar who wished for his bowl ne'er to be empty. I had a lad once who asked for the biggest co.... well," he chuckled to himself and clicked his teeth sending FrauFrau into a trot.
 
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Cadwyn

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Cadwyn herself wouldn't really be able to explain to Cillian what she was. She was by all intents and purposes, a creature of magic, birth from the very existence of that native energy within every fern, tree, bubbling brook, and rock. From the very primal elements themselves. A manifestation of when cognizance comes to that ethereal energy.

Gently parting the strands of slightly dusty hair into three plaits, Cadwyn gave a little hum, the melodic uplifting tune reminiscent of the manner by which the wind would sing between the trees and seaside cliffs.

At Cillian's telling of the types of wishes he'd given, the small Fae's eyes went wide, her mind quickly racing over how these wishes could have been twisted. It was like a puzzle. A game really! It made her little heart palpitate with excitement and energy, her glow increasing in playful inquisitiveness.

"Oh, oh, oh!" she began, her voice a clear singsong beside Cillian's ear, "Did the Princess end up having everyone try to fight over her because they all loved her?" Was there a fight for her hand? Did she end up having to hide in a tower to prevent anyone from bothering her? Ohh, there were so many ways this could go wrong!
 
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Cillian

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"Aye, they fough' alrigh'. There were whole wars waged over the lass - bloody, nasty things tha' wen' on for years. She turned brother 'ag'inst brother, father ag'inst son, anyone who beheld 'er beau'y wan'ed it for themselves," Cillian leaned back into the seat and stretched out his long legs in front of him as he settled in for the story. FrauFrau was going at a pleasant speed now and he was certain it wouldn't be long before they emerged from the enchanted roads into the more natural ones. Then he would feel a whole lot better and stop checking on his sword.

"Bu' it were actually a woman who ended up killin' her in the end. She were a maid in the palace. Young lil thing really, bu' she had a sweethear' of her own. Like the rest, he fell madly in love with 'er as soon as he saw 'er but there were a part of 'im that seemed... aware. Rather than betray 'er he took 'is own life. He'd seen what the madness did to the ot'ers. She were heartbroken and so she took the Princess's silver hair pin and stabbed her through tae throat with it," Cillian had always thought it had been a rather fitting end to the vain woman's life. But, when someone spoke his true name and asked for a wish there weren't much he could do to resist them. That had been the case with the Princess who had somehow stumbled on the information in a very old scroll that since Cilli had ensured was destroyed.
 
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Cadwyn

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A gasp fell from the young fae's mouth, both hands once again flying up to cover the part of her lips. Cadwyn's quickly went through a gauntlet of emotions, from shock to horror, back to surprise, still only to finally settle upon pity and melancholy, the glow surrounding her body dimming in resonance.

"Oh no..." she cried, almost weeping at the sadness of hearing such a terrible tale befall upon the young lovers, the princess, and those around her. The way that such a wish could connect and affect so many upon wishing it.

It was such a pity.

A solemn cluck of her tongue relayed sympathies, "Tsk, tsk." Quietly, she went back to braiding Cillian's hair, momentarily wishing that she had a flower to tuck in between.

Glancing around, she wondered if there were any flowers here? Perhaps a ribbon would do nicely.

Coming to terms regarding that she was no longer anywhere near her homeland, Cadwyn asked, "...where are we?" nothing appeared familiar at all. It was dark. Gloomy. Almost had a sense of forbearing clinging to every shadow. Not pretty at all.
 
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Cillian

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People never thought about the real consequences of a wish. If there was anything Cillian had learnt over time it were that, and that were why he tried to stay clear of all mortals. Greed, jealousy, pride - they all blinded them and bound them to a path of doom. Cilli could only do his job at the end of the day. It was none of his business as to how it all ended even if it did bring him a little sadness.

As the pair fell into that easy companionable silence he focused his attention back on the road and where they were going. It was a tricky path to navigate if one didn't know where they were going and one small veer of the path could lead to a person being lost in these parts for the rest of their life. If he remembered the way correctly though soon they would be out of the enchanted part of the forest and into the 'normal' mortal zones where he would only have to think about normal dangers.

"We're in a par' of the forest tha' really doesn't exist," it was the best way he could describe it. "Least no' on any normal map. It stops tae marke' I found ye in attracting all sorts. It's more of a those who know get to benefi' kinda thing," as if sensing her wish for something pretty Cilli rummaged behind him with one hand and then pulled out a box. As he opened it inside revealed a myriad of different decorations; silk flowers, ribbons, tiny beads that gleamed like pearls.

"D'ye know where your home is lassie? I can drop ye back."
 
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Cadwyn

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A forest that doesn't exist? Oh, how interesting! Cadwyn immediately asked, "If it doesn't really exist, how does one find it?!"

Again, this was like a lovely puzzle for the young fae to take apart, study, and observe with the fascination of a child.

A sudden spike of alarm, "Does that mean anyone can get lost?"

Of course, the luck of Leprechaun's or perhaps just fae insight revealed a treasure trove of shinies for Cadwyn to pluck through. With a giddy laugh akin to the sound of musical bells, Cadwyn left Cillian's lock of hair to peruse through the Cadwyn sized mountain of ribbons, silk flowers, and tiny beads.

"Ohhhhh!!" delight made the young fae glow in delight. Already so much of her horrific experience was already but a fleeting memory.

"These are soo pretty!" she exclaimed, plopping down upon a bright blue ribbon of silk. She stood within the box, wrapping herself up in the blue ribbon as if it was a makeshift dress.
 

Cillian

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"Ye 'ave tae be given tae map," Cillian had gotten his hands on one in a drinking game a few centuries back. He had wondered what exactly it had led to and his first visit had resulted in a more than questionable hot spring session with a pair of mermaids. Sometimes the market had given him a real boon and other times it had made him quite sick but not he always had a place to make good coin for the more questionable things he managed to get his hands on. Nobody asked questions at the Black Market.

His eyes flicked briefly as she shot towards the box like a moth to a flame and chuckled to himself. He was glad he could bring a bit of fun again to her life after the traumas she had suffered a few hours ago. When they were out of the Dark Woods he would find something to tend to her wounds in the forests or in what supplies he had in the cart.

"I make shoes ye see, in the mortal world anyways," there were other bits he made for his more unusual clients. "Here," he rummaged again in the back of his cart without taking his eyes off the road and found one elegant silk heel which he put on the seat for her to have a look at. It was a satin green colour that seemed to change to a purple colour when it hit the light differently. It was decorated with tiny little pearls that formed the pattern of a flurry of butterflies.
 
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Cadwyn

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“Ohh!” Cadwyn’s coo of admiration resonated throughout the entire being. She clutched at the shoe heel with both hands, almost third of her size. But what entranced her was how the fabric had a sort of iridescent quality to it.
The pearl butterflies were the perfect pairing.

The fae gave a swooning sigh, petting the fabric with a gentle sweep of her finger tips.

“it’s so pretty,” she told him with genuine praise, her body glowing a bright, joyful blur reminiscent of a clear summer sky.

“How do you make it change colors? Is it like me?” Referencing how she’d shift into different colors.
 
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Cillian

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Cillian seemed to sit up a little straighter and his smile was smug at her praise. He enjoyed his job and he took pride in his craftsmanship so it was always nice to get praise like that.

"Naw lassie, I dinnae think it's possible to make anythin' like yiz," he chuckled, glancing briefly to her then back to the road. "It's 'ow you dye the fabric that creates that kinda effect. I 'ave one that turns from blue to gold too - it's difficult but very rewardin' - ah 'ere we go," he nodded to a natural archway made by two gnarled black trees that were the marker between the Hidden Forest and the wider Falwood. As they passed underneath its branches the shadows clung desperately to them then slowly leeched away. Sunlight replaced the darkness and the sounds of birds singing once more filled the air.

Cilli sighed and relaxed. Even Fraufrau let out a snort and her hoof beats became more jovial.
 
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Cadwyn

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As soon as they cleared the hidden forest, Cadwyn felt the warmth of the sun, heard the song of birds, and the familiar singing of leaves dancing in the wind. That glow of the sun felt wonderful. Hugging the heel of the shoe, Cadwyn gave such a sigh of pleasure, her wings fluttering in joy, spreading a dusting of glittering magic that would convey her pleasure

However, upon opening her eyes again and taking a look around, it grew clear that nothing seemed familiar. Not the threes. Not the flora. Not even the call of songbirds.

How far from home was she? This didn't look anything like the grotto she grew up in.

"I don't know where this is." she whispered, trepidation in her voice. "Nothing looks familiar."
 
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Cillian

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"It's alrigh' lass we'll figure it out," Cillian wasn't entirely sure how but they would. He would make sure she got home alright and then figure out a way to ensure this didn't happen again to her. Perhaps there was some wards he could put up around her home that would deter people from wandering into it.

Now that they had exited the Dark Roads, he was more relaxed about taking his eyes off of the road for longer than a second. He pulled FrauFrau up to a halt and then began to look for a map.

"Is there anythin' abou' ye home that stands out? Waterfalls... a certain type of flower?" The forest was a large place and narrowing it down even by a little bit would help them.
 
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Cadwyn

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A certain type of flower?

A dainty finger flew up to come rest along the side of her chin, her pointed ears giving a slight twitch in deep concentration.

"There's there are the glowvines!" she told him, fluttering about in front of Cillian for a half-circle, only to deter and float over towards Fraufaru's head. There, she landed in between her ears, the horse flickering them at the mild sensation similar to that of a fly buzzing too close.

"They are oh so lovely. They are a lovely purple-blue and the vines are a deep blue-green, they climb up from the ravine and cling to the cliffs. They make such lovely honey too! Oh it gets you all kinds of silly and everything looks like it is covered in bright colors!"

 
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Cillian

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Cillian laid the map out across his lap as he listened to the description of the flower. The description of the cliff was more helpful though he did think he knew what kind of flower she was talking about. There were only a few places he knew the geography overlapped with the biology and he made a few marks on the paper with a pencil he had tucked away in the box of ribbons and sequins.

"Alrigh' lassie, we'll check out some o' these spots then we'll see if any o' 'em jog ye memory, alrigh'?" he settled the map by his side and then glanced up at their surroundings, then back down to the map beside him. After a few mutterings under his breath he turned both horse and cart round and began to set FrauFrau on the path towards the closest of the three locations he thought it could be.

"Can ye remember how many days ye travelled?"
 
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Cadwyn

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Excitement would rush through the tiny fae's body, radiating all that joyful splendor in her pulsing blue hues. She gave a happy clap, the sound similar to the pitter-patter of small little feet. Taking flight anew, the fae would hover and flutter here and there across the map, until she came to rest on one of the marks that Cillian had indicated. She gave a small turn, her lithe body gave a little shimmy, sending a little dusting of magic across the map, making it slightly glow.

"This place doesn't seem too big!"
she told him, walking from one side of the hand-drawn map to the other.
"Not much bigger than me!" she cried with the innocence and naivety of a child, believing that the world wasn't such a vast place after all.

"We may find it before supper!" such a positive, optimistic outlook, unprepared for the reality of travel and the amount of searching they'd need to do.

At his question, however, the tiny fae gave a contemplative hum. Her hair would sway to and fro, scarlet and orange tendrils almost floating about her face as if she were underwater. Akin to that of an elemental.

"It was too dark." she said honestly, a little bit of the glow leaving her at that dejected murmur, "it seemed like forever and ever that I had to stay up and not touch the iron,"

Which reminded her of the burn scars that ran the length of her tiny arms, legs, and wings. She felt self-conscious about them already.

"But it was a long time before I heard any water again."
 
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Cillian

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His eyes crinkled at the corners in amusement as she walked her way across the map and proclaimed the world a small place. Cilli had travelled across the mapped world and a little beyond and though he didn't mind the long weeks often alone, he would never consider it a short journey. He was always thankful when he finally reached his destination and civilisation once more. As much as he liked his own company he preferred to get himself lost in the throngs of people in cities to feel a little less alone. On his own all he had were his own thoughts and they were often dark things.

"Water eh?" he glanced back down to the map and the point she was standing on. It had been the one he had been heading towards first. It did have a pool of water around it on the map - rivers, a small lake - perhaps that was the place Cadwyn had come from.

"I dinnae think we'll be there by supper unfortunately lass. Ye see, map makers cannae fit tae whole world on a piece o' paper, so they shrinks it for tae page. Frau Frau is a fast pony but even she has her limits," the horse gave a snort almost like she was protesting. "So, are there many o' yiz where you come from?" Cilli was morbidly curious about other Fae on the different continents. He'd come across a few in his time but never one like her.
 

Cadwyn

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The sheer surprise that would dawn across the tiny fae's features was comical, much like that of a child being informed that it would take a while before they 'were there yet.'.

"Oh..." her wings gave a little droop, only to perk back up again as she gave a wide grin and flew up into the air. Like a hummingbird, she came up towards Cillian's face and extended her hands out giddily, "But that means we can talk more!"

He was a very interesting Leprachan and this was the first time in meeting any other fae other than her own. So maybe she wouldn't be home for supper, but at least she could spend more time with him.
 
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Cillian

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It was hard not to be infected with the tiny woman's enthusiasm for talking. He felt his lips quirk up into an answering grin despite the ache in his cheeks - when was the last time he had smiled so much? He couldn't quite remember. He definitely hadn't thought to be smiling so much after visiting the Black Market that was for sure.

"Aye, lass, all the time tae chat," Cilli's chuckle was a soft rasp that paired perfectly with the birdsong of the forest around them. There was a distinctly peaceful feel to their surroundings after the dark shadowy walkways that led to the Black Market. The air smelt of wild flowers and grass after heavy rain, scents that were ushered to them on gentle breezes. Occasionally they passed through a warm spot of sunlight that managed to worm its way through the thick canopy of leaves above.

Cillian rolled his shoulders.

"So, how many o' yiz are there?"
 
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Cadwyn

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With a little hum, Cadwyn gave a little twirl mid-air, the tiny leaf like skirt dancing upon the wind with an almost molten, blue-fire quality. She was giddy and it expressed itself by her jovial movements.

How many were there?

Tittering her way over towards FrauFrau's mane, the tiny, wisp of a fae continued to plait the braid she'd begun minutes prior.

"Oh, many." well to Cadwyn it seemed to be many. For one so small and such a small community, the numbers of her kind would appear significant.

"We tend to the vines and the trees! And play with the flowers and help in the spring!" really, it was a gay and lovely life. Her kidnapping was the most traumatic experience she'd ever known.

"Just us though. We rarely ever see anyone else," she gave a glance over her shoulder, giggling with glee.

"Never met Leprachans or other Fae before! They are all stories!" Which signified they were highly isolated.
 
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Cillian

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Cillian glanced at the map again and tried to figure out whether or not he would consider that an isolated spot. For people the size Cadwyn was there were likely going to be parts of that area they could go their entire lives without seeing anyone else, and of course it couldn't be that out of the way or she would have never been captured in the first place. After a moment of internal warfare he decided it was at least worth eliminating from the list first. It was the closest to where they were and it fit what little description she could offer.

"Aye, well all stories have a lil' nugge' o' truth to 'em," Cilli nodded wisely. "'ave you heard the story of the King o' Winter, who drives his sleigh across the lands 'n' delivers snow? Well that story is about the King of the Winter Court, 'n' they be right to warn lil kids 'bout him in stories. He would 'appily freeze anyone who dared look at 'im," though he wasn't entirely sure whether the snow arriving when he did was purely coincidental, in relation to his court, or really was his job.
 
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Cadwyn

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At the suggestion of another story being told in that lilting tenor of his, Cadwyn once again shone bright with excitement.

"No!" the seemingly dark twist of the tale prompted the tiny fae to drop the braid she was working on, both hands clutching at her mouth to hide her gasp.

"Why would he do that?
" she inquired, flying up to plop in between FrauFaun's ears and settling down, crossing her legs underneath her. Despite sitting, her wings and hair would seemingly react to her exclamations, every bit an extension of her being.
 
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Cillian

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Cillian gave a hearty chuckle at her shocked and appalled reactions and settled in to tell the story. It was one of his favourites, best told on a winters night by the roaring fire to children who are restless from being cooped up inside. But the leprechaun was more than happy to spin a yarn for such an adoring audience. He ran a hand through his hair then over his beard as he thought how best to go about telling it. FrauFraus methodical clomping steps were the only sound for a few moments before he launched into the tale.

"The King o' the Winter Court is a cruel man now for certain but he didn't always used to be so. Winter used to be a time when you held your nearest and dearest close, spent long nights by the fire with one another. The Winter King used tae spend his nights like that, with 'is wife and 'is many children and great grandchildren. 'is halls were full of laughter despi'e the frigid cold and none felt more at home than there.

Bu' there was a terrible plague one year. A nasty thing ye see and winter is the worst time tae get a cold. It takes the old, it takes the sick, it takes the young. It swept through the court like a fire and took away his family. Alone now he drives the sleigh through winter and when he sees happy smiling faces around a fire he's so overcome by grief he tries to snuff it out."