The Queen in her anger was a sight to behold. She stood tall - taller than Darrick, almost as tall as the ogre - with bronze curls that reached to her waist. Her skin was fair, like light cream, touched with pink carnation anger. She watched with flashing black eyes as Darrick, Jane and Euthalia were escorted into her presence.
It was unlike any court that Jane could ever have imagined. She remembered the hard stone of their village courthouse, the thick, scored wood of the whipping post, the smell of fear and blood, the mud and dirt and hopelessness that underlay every thing. Here, lush, thick grass, soft to the foot, was ringed by great trees. An ancient yew stood prominently at the head of the circle, under which the Fairy Queen stood by her throne of silver. She could feel the anger emanating from the Queen, and yet the calm of the Council of Centaurs pervaded the place, seeking to placate it, if not turn it aside.
“What do we do, Father?” she whispered.
“I do not know.” He looked haggard in the light, an anxiety she could not fathom on his face. What she felt was a lightening of her spirit, as if a great joy was descending upon her.
“You’re glowing,” Euthalia said with astonishment.
“Am I?” Jane almost giggled. “I feel so - so powerful.”
The Queen raised her hands.
“Let the prisoners be brought forward,” she called in a dark and terrible voice. Jane’s heart resonated with its power, drawing strength from it even as her father paled and faded beside her. It was he who now gripped her hand in terror as they stepped forward to the raised dais.
“What are we charged with, O Queen?” she found herself speaking.
“Trespass and breaking of the treaty,” she proclaimed, but a glimmer of uncertainty had entered her eyes. “What are you, human? You appear strange to my eyes.”
“What am I?” Jane laughed. “I do not know. I have not felt this before; I do not know what it means.”
“No matter. You have still trespassed where you have not been invited to enter.”
“Did I? I came here by accident, I admit. But I have felt nothing but welcome in my spirit.”
“And what of you, O man, O ancient enemy?” The Queen turned her face towards the cowering Darrick. “What excuse do you have?”
“I -” he tried to speak, but he could not claw the words from his throat.
“So you admit! You came unbidden, breaking our treaty, breaking our laws. Your life is forfeit to me!” A cruel smile spread over the Fairy Queen’s face. She lifted her hand, a long knife appearing in it, standing ready to strike.
“Let all witness!” she cried, her hand falling. There was a bright flash and confusion, and when everyone could see again, the Queen still stood with her arm upraised. Darrick lay unharmed in his daughter’s shadow, a phoenix by her side.
“Well done, daughter,” the phoenix whispered as it fluttered down to the ground.
“What sorcery is this?” the Queen asked. The bird shimmered and in its place stood a young woman.
“Hello, mother,” Ivy said, laying an arm around Jane’s shoulders.
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The Fairy Queen or Queen of the Fairies was a figure from English folklore who was believed to rule the fairies. Based onShakespeare's influence, she is often named as Titania or Mab. In Irish folklore, the last High Queen of the Daoine Sidhe - and wife of the High King Finvarra - was named Oona (or Oonagh, or Una, or Uonaidh etc.). In the ballad tradition of Northern England and Lowland Scotland, she was called the Queen of Elphame.
The character is also associated with the name Morgan (as with the Arthurian character of Morgan Le Fey, or Morgan of the Fairies), Meave, and L'annawnshee (literally, Underworld Fairy). In the Child Ballads Tam Lin (Child 39) and Thomas the Rhymer (Child 37), she is represented as both beautiful and seductive, and also as terrible and deadly. The Fairy Queen is said to pay a tithe to Hell every seven years, and her mortal lovers often provide this sacrifice.