Seanlaoch entered the pub, Ablach, that evening with blood on his mind. Quinlan would pay for harming one that Seanlaoch had sworn to protect. Admittedly, Seanlaoch wasn’t sure how he’d make such a powerful faery pay, but he would find a way.
A tall, older man blocked his way as he stepped towards the bar. “I’m going to need ID,” the man said.
Seanlaoch smiled at the man— one both dangerous and cunning— and allowed his eyes to change colour, from blue to black. “Will that do?” The man reeled away but nodded.
Mortals. Seanlaoch wasn’t sure how or why these creatures had gotten employment here. It appeared that Ablach had severely lowered its standards.
Seanlaoch took a stool by the bar and waved his hand to make an order. No one even looked at him. If they knew who he was then their reaction would be very different. As it was, he appeared to be mortal, or a Halfling at best. Sweat trickled down his face. The summer heat was only part of the problem. Seanlaoch’s mortal was ill, and he wasn’t certain how long he had left. Being a parasite of sorts was never what he wanted, but it was the only way to survive this side of the veil.
Ryan, can you hear me? He asked. His host did not answer, causing him to snarl. The other faeries nearby stared at him for a moment. He glared back at them and they feigned disinterest. Seanlaoch may no longer be a king, but even through the guise of a mortal, he still inspired fear in the hearts of many faeries.
Someone took a seat beside him and called out to one of the bar girls. “I think my friend here is in need of a beverage.”
“Of course,” one of the girls said. “What would he like?”
The new arrival looked at Seanlaoch, giving him a smirk. “Well?”
Seanlaoch’s mouth went dry when he came face to face with Quinlan, the Unseelie King. It was more nervousness than fear, but he could not deny to himself that the other faery’s sparkling dark eyes had a dangerous edge. “I’ll have a Budweiser.”
“One Budweiser, and one summer wine please,” he told the bar girl.
“I didn’t know you were partial to summer wine,” Seanlaoch said. “Won’t that interfere with the brooding façade that is the Unseelie King?”
“For a start, it’s not a façade. My face is just naturally set into a scowl these days— ergo the summer wine. It makes me chirpy and bubbly inside.” Seanlaoch blinked several times. “Chirpy” was not a word he associated with the Unseelie King.
“Good to know,” Seanlaoch muttered. Their drinks came swiftly and Seanlaoch peered at it for any traces of faery wine before he took a sip.
“Honestly, you think the staff of Ablach would dare to spike a friend of mine?”
“We are friends no longer,” Seanlaoch said. “I think I made that obvious a couple of centuries back.”
“Just because you stopped being mine does not mean I stopped being yours. And believe me, you could use a few.”
“I can take care of myself,” Seanlaoch answered.
“And Belenus, and your hosts? Do you even know what number this one is?”
“Belenus is a capable faery. I’m sure he will be fine.”
Quinlan snorted at that statement. “The only thing Belenus is capable of is scaring mortals in their sleep, and getting himself killed. I’m not sure how you fell for such a fool, but so long as he doesn’t get you killed right along with him, I don't care.”
“Do not insult me or mine. I don’t recall your choices of lovers to be so wise either. I know of your tragic end with Darcy.”
Quinlan smiled at and him then and took a drink from his glass, his gaze never wavering. He was playing it cool, but Seanlaoch saw the anger that resided just beneath the thin veneer of the Unseelie King. “Do you now?”
“Of course I do. She left you, didn’t she?”
Quinlan winced, but it turned into an uneasy smile. “Yes, she did. What kind of human wants to be with a monster?” Quinlan laughed bitterly, but then it turned into something rather hysterical. “Oh, that must be the summer wine. It makes you feel like dancing, even when all you want to do is fall apart.”
Seanlaoch hadn’t seen Quinlan like this in a long time and a part of him wanted to comfort his old friend, but then he remembered how terrified Belenus had been after Quinlan’s visit and the moment passed. “Let’s cut the crap, Quinlan. What do you want from me?”
“To put it simply, your former little pets are making a mess. Project Galatea is falling apart and if the little pests without their mates don’t tear their eyes out from the madness plaguing them, you can be certain that your brother will. He means to harvest their power.”
“And how is this any of my concern?”
“You and your brother created those abominations. Either put them down or sort them out. Either way, you need to create Order before true Chaos ensues.
“Order was never my specialty,” Seanlaoch admitted.
“And yet you seem to be fine, for the most part. Your host has merely days from the look of things. In future, it would be wise to stay away from alcohol.”
“I don’t need you to babysit me, Quinlan.”
“I am merely advising you. You used to be good at taking advice. Or have you lost your head, right along with your crown?”
Seanlaoch gritted his teeth and took a few moments to breathe. Losing his temper with the Unseelie King was one thing, but attacking him could start something that he was ill-equipped to finish. “No,” he said.
“You wish to strike me, don’t you? Perhaps sink that knife you are hiding through my stomach?” Nothing passed the Unseelie King— not even at this side of the veil where his magic was limited.
“And maybe carve that pretty face of yours whilst I’m at it,” Seanlaoch admitted. “I miss seeing mine.”
“You could have it again, once you take back your court.”
Seanlaoch’s eyes widened at the statement. “And why would I do that? How would I do that?”
“Because your successor is proving to be rather… unsuccessful. But trust me, I have a plan.”
Seanlaoch never trusted anyone who asked them to trust him. Least of all Quinlan. Not anymore at least. Those kinds of people were always hiding something, and although Quinlan had once been a trusted friend and ally, in truth he was now merely someone that he used to know.