Excerpt continued

The Seventy-Seven Year Tithe

The Accords

 

    At the start of every seventy-seven year cycle, on the solstice to the darker half of the year, one adult human in good health shall be sacrificed to live amongst each Fae realm for the Queendom’s sustenance. This Seventy-seven year tithe must willingly fulfill their role to feed the Fae the power of their emotions.

     The Seventy-seven year tithe shall be physically maintained and creature comforts provided.

     This vow mandates that they, at a minimum, live to within three years of the next tithe.

     Once their service is over, if still alive, the Queen may reward the sacrifice with longevity if they choose to remain in the Fae realm. If not, their body and/or bones shall return to the place of their birth.

     The Seventy-seven year Tithe shall have their thoughts catalogued and written communication shall transpire.

     Be it enforced by the High Magic wherein the birthright of all magical folk lays, that only this and the person of the Seventy-Seven year tithes may cross between the land of the Humans and the realms of the Seelie and Unseelie Fae.

     In fair exchange, as agreed upon by human King and Her Royal Highness XX and Her Royal Highness XX, all Seelie and Unseelie Fae shall be exiled from the domain of the humans hereafter and all gateways sealed to their presence.

     Should this agreement be forfeit by any party, all binds shall be released except those on the offending party. The offending party shall also pay the fines in blood, with the heads of a thousand warriors.

     With these words, written in the blood of the human King and the Fae Queens, so it shall be set, evermore.

***

362 BC (portals sealed)

Year Seven in the Rule of Ard Rí (High King of Ireland) Meilge Molbthach, Samhain, The First Day of the Darker Half of the year and the Last Day of the Battle of Achadh Leithdheirg

     I am Ard Rí Meilge Molbthach, the High King who signed the accords on behalf of my people. I have earned my name, “The Praiseworthy”, as centuries of raids and torments by Unseelie and Seelie fae alike has ceased for the small price of a single human living amongst each fae queendom once every lifetime, in the seventy-seventh year cycle. I have thus bartered with the untrustworthy magical folk. Be it known I have maneuvered for evidence of adherence to be presented to this side of the world. It shall come in the form of written word, captured straight from the sacrifice’s mind to prove the devious fairy folk have not strayed from the terms.

     As a mark of honor, I shall be the first sacrifice to the Unseelie queendom.

The magic that binds these agreements and sees their fulfillment is the stronger that the fae themselves and comes straight from the Gods and Goddesses. This is a living magic. Fear not that these malingering creatures will shirk their duties. Be strong that we shall hold this wall that keeps them at bay.

     May we never have to fear our nightly sleep, worry another walks in the body of a loved one or set upon each other provoked by nefarious politicks again. May we once more rule our own emotions, no longer flotsam tossed about the tumultuous sea of their lewd entertainment. May we regain our dignity, our civility and our humanity and revert to who we are at heart: peaceful tribes living in harmony with the land, the laws that bide our world and each other.

With the exorcism of this evil, may we never have war, murder, rape, incest, theft, assualt or any other madness that has plagued humanity since these creatures descended. We will be free to rise to our divine/holy selves, no longer unbalanced by dark desires. We will have a choice once again in who we choose to be, and the beauty and strength of humanity shall show its true colors.

     We can stand against the Fae, my people. They may have magic, but we are righteous.

I leave this note as warning to all hereafter: Do not ye cross the Fae without evidence. Do not break the accords. These Fae will not make a similar agreement a second time. They will storm this side of the world with ravenous appetite for human suffering and any idyllic land and life shall be decimated. There shall be no strongholds of sanity—all will succumb. It will be a war we have no hope of winning. Slavery of humankind is the only outcome.

     May my life and that over every other sacrifice hereafter not be in vain. This is the only way.

***

Year Seven in the Rule of Ard Rí (High King of Ireland) Meilge Molbthach

I buck against my own thoughts, knowing they may be broadcast to my people. Such treacherous thoughts! I can shut my eyes from the sight of my wasting body, but how can block from my mind the gnawing hunger? It is not even a thought, but an insidious and pervasive obsession. My mouth is so dry my tongue feels coated and foreign. My teeth ache to gnash upon succulent flesh. My stomach is a beast that attacks from the inside, debilitating pangs as if my starvation were an entity manifest and scraping away at the walls of my intestine.

Great Goddess of the Light, save me! How the thought of food or drink ails me so. The scurry of vermin in the walls causes my fingers to curl, that I am ready to pounce and feast upon its trembling body.

Alas, I have done it again. I cannot shield my mind when my body is so possessed. Listen to me, my people! I can only hope and pray that the magicks of the Accords will not censure these few rational thoughts of mine. Heed me, the rotten Fae will not have broken their vows. I know not the way of it, but this is surely a trick. I beseech you, do not void the Accord on my behalf!

I shall endure. Let not my suffering be idle sacrifice. We have already won, my friends. We are free of the Fae vermin. Do not give in, no matter what misdeeds these letters convey. It must be some trick of the mind. Stay strong, my people! I am ever more resolute in this Accord. The Fae are devil* tricksters and we must be all means keep them from infiltrating our world again.

***

Year One in the Rule of Ard Rí (High King of Ireland) Mug Corb

     Lord Brannoghan, my right hand man and brother in war, please save my wife’s ears from these words. Nay let the babe ever know the fall of his father. Strike this from our history. I plead with utmost humility, preserve what dignity I have. Brother, I fall into despair. It is only to you, in my darkest thoughts, I can confide these nightmares which plague me through mine waking hours. I have not eaten for 1158 days. Know you how many days await me? I ken. Every thought of time is a burr in my mind, creating a blister that boils out a puss of numbers: 28,105 days and nights. That is how long I am to endure.

     My mind rubs at the sore of it, but I also ken it is meaningless. Brother, a second, and hour, it loses meaning with nothing to mark it save the burn in the pit of my hardened stomach. Time is a vast torture of endless moments that whittle down to minuscule gains until that bedamned* burr rubs, lest I fall into any delusion, and reminds me of the enormity of the remainder of my sentence.

     The cruel and deceitful Fae fed me food and drink from their land during the grand ceremony when I first arrived. The legends must be true, and this has preserved my body, lending it some sort of immortality. I only know since that first ceremony, I have been locked away in a cell. Days drag on but I cannot succumb to nothingness. Each day is announced to me, the knowledge it’s own decrepit torture. I have nothing to occupy my body or my mind except this desire for food and water which is driving me mad. I have ripped my own skin, just to feel the pleasure of wetness. Mine own blood has smeared my lips. I have tasted the once plump flesh at the base of my thumb, now stringy meat and tough leather, just to give my jaw and organs an occupation. I cannot bare to tell you the worst of my depravities but I fear my mind will stray there heedless.

     Can you see what I recall? Do you only ken composed thoughts? In my madness, I have set upon myself, to carve out the incessant beast within, no weapon other than unshorn fingernails.

     Brother, I am no longer a man, but a depraved animal. And I cannot keep these thoughts away. Knowing I was once heralded as a king is part of the torture. Please, the friend and confidante you know will surely end his days here. There is no way I will not break. It is too much for any man. I plead again that you keep these words from my family, nay, our people. The only light in my world is that these thoughts shall land in your hands, that you preserve my legacy and save our world from folly*. Hold tight to the Accords, Brother, no matter what I say in the coming years. They will break me, I know it. My words will be meaningless. Pay them no heed. What you ken from me hereafter must be the words of a dead man, deceased within his own mind.

***

     It is the Year of our Lord 1349

     I wonder where my letters will go.

     Will they get buried at sea? Is that where the other letters have gone? I had noticed huge gaps of hundreds of years when these writings first darkened my doorstep, but now I wonder if mayhap only a token are magically revealed to the candidate.

     The ones they know will worm their way into the victims thoughts.

     It is such a fate that must have befallen me.

     Do they prey on folk without family or friends? Someone vulnerable, weak and willing to suspend their benign reality for such a treacherous game?

     I survived the plague that claimed my wife and my babe. I fought tooth and nail for a space on the ship headed out of the mother land. A chance for a new life.

     My blood boils that I’m here instead.

     They show me the life I could have had. The man my little boy would have grown into, if fate hadn’t intervened.

     The life I’m missing out on, finding a new wife, a new career.

Sometimes they show me the past. A past I know isn’t real but could have been. It burns, being cuckolded. Learning William isn’t even mine.

     I remind myself it’s just Faire mind-games. But the doubt has seeded like a weed. I have no way of knowing now.

 

***


 

13, September, 1760

     I admit to you, at first I thought this mere folly. How far will that prankster Ludwig take this? It was well known he was jealous of my relationship with Giovanni Battista Morgagni. In his seventy-ninth year, the Italian anatomist had a wealth of information, and we were both believers that his literature would change the face of medicine.

     I thought myself the wiser for seeing the prank through. Ludwig must always one up me; well I would call him on his end game and challenge his bluff. I would rob him of jokes at my expense evermore by springing his trap. Never in my darkest nightmares had I believed it true. Who would? Let my thoughts, presumably made viewable, assure you: this is no joke.

     What a despicable device that reads my own mind, and plays my fears against me. For surely, these Fae beings knew nothing of the body physick. We are just at the very nascency of learning—how could they be abreast of the learnings of Morgagni when I only received the correspondence containing unpublished causations from him merely a week ago?

     No, humors mapped, muscle and tendons painstakingly catalogued from the bodies of prisoners, and how the cause of disease is actually seated in specific organs are all knowledge privy only to a select few.

     Alas, that I am amonge them, for this knowledge is now my nemesis.

     I read these Accords. I know in the retreat of the workings of my mind that they cannot be harming me. And yet, I feel it. I feel the slice of the scalpel as they dissect. I hear the fibers of my tissue rip from their blunt metal probes, the whisp as a razor glides through the meat of me. Noises of lubricated flesh, the copper smell of blood—there is no way to hide from it. I try to block everything out, an anesthesia of pure will, but it always proves the weakest drug.

     Severed nerve endings scream at me, my body pulses with pain as instruments follow the channels under my skin. I explore the workings of my own body in a horrible deconstruction. My flayed skin flaps as tendons are triggered like a mechanical puppet. I must have surpassed the threshold of my tolerance, and yet I have not passed out. What heaven it would be to pass on to blissful nothingness.

     No, my moments are filled with devastatingly real pain, made manifest from my own memories.

     Back when I blocked out the noises that echoed in the morbid silence of a midnight operation. Just as I had to block out the crazed protestors. Just as I had to block out oddities of a job that had me sneaking into work thought tunnels in the dead of the night.

     When I had to remind myself that the body I violated was bereft of the criminal soul it used to house. When I told myself it was no different than a butcher slicing off cuts of beef, except instead of feeding mouths, I was feeding the pool of scientific knowledge.

     And now, I am feeding the twisted Fae.

     What dark days lay ahead of me, in this suspended animation*, a continual nightmare without the promise of wakening? This is no life, but mayhap there will be some redemption for my torture. I cannot allow myself to think I suffer so for nothing. Friend, if you get this, if you read this, then you are at a crossroads as I was.

     I have little time to spare thought for anything but the agonizing misery that scissors through my body. There are moments, though, like this, when I am given the sweet nirvana of a respite. I try to compose myself then, when I try to remember what being human felt like.

     I don’t know how to ask this other than to say, please do not let all of this be a waste.

I am convinced there must be some nobility in humanity. We are surely better than these god-forsaken creatures. We cite the unholy in each other, see Satan in the dark, but my friend, the devil lies with the Fae. In my best moments, I know we are better than these creatures. We must prevail.