Chapter 16: Samonios
There was a time when things seemed to be going so smoothly. He could close his eyes and see three steps ahead, and be planned and readied for at least the sixth step. But now? It seemed to all be falling away from him. When he closed his eyes he could only growl at wisps of red hair, raven’s feathers, and the unknown. It troubled him.
He perched with one leg curled under him, and the other dangling from the edge of his castle tower window. He barely ever came up here, other then to think deep and solitary thoughts. Normally he preferred the deep cavernous underground of his throne room, or the dark tangled woods of his hunting grounds.
The Goblin King surveyed the tangles of brambles and rocky ledges below him as the wind whipped up and howled around the tower. It was colder now, and the very edges of frost started to creep onto the low ground. He swore he saw a brief hint of frozen rain start to fall from the dark indigo sky. It pattered in the distance with tiny slushy thuds.
Winter was coming. This late fall was a cold one, and it seemed like even nature itself was warning him that time counted down sharply. It did nothing to deter the festivities downstairs, he was certain. It was after-all the start of the Samonios festival. The celebration of death and rebirth – the ancestors and the hidden folk.
He just didn’t feel much like celebrating. Before the mess of the Tree Witch and the Raven’s mocking jeers he would have thought that time could not move quick enough. Now he was terrified he wouldn’t have enough time to accomplish everything. Certainly not flawlessly anyway.
And there were only a few months from the Dumannios Full Moon. How could he bother to take time revelling when things were unravelling on him? His years of plotting, his careful mastering of events – all still hanging in the bitter wind.
Outside in the darkening sky there was a brief flash of lighting. It struck in the distance with a delightful rumble of energy which creaked through his chest and shivered his skin. Breaking through the clouds was a beautiful view of the harvest moon in her brilliant glory.
“You mock me.” He jested as he watched the orb pull free from the storm cloud veil. “I allow it, because I must. But it is mocking still the same.”
“Do I, my King?” The voice whispered softly. “I merely wish to remind you.. there is still time to give up your quest. There is still time to change.”
He couldn’t help the grin which curled involuntary on his lips. “Still the same song you sing, how pathetic. I would have thought that all this time you would have given up.”
“I do not give up easily. As you well know. You know the risks you take… you know the paths it may lead you..”
“Indeed. That is the reason I continue.” He rested his head against the cool stone and chuckled. “Imagine everything I can accomplish when the very Throne of the Old Magick is mine? Not just the Courts, that is nothing. Not the minor Thrones or the pitiful political nonsense of the Houses.. but the very Throne of the very fabric of Magick. To be in control of that power, to be immortal and absolute.” He shivered at the very thought, his skin flickering with more goosebumps of anticipation. “To be a very God.”
“And you know it is very likely you will die as well, or worse. You know your death waits out there, you have seen that too, my King. You know it is a strong possibility… the fates are too unclear to know which ends you will meet. Perhaps one, yes. Perhaps the wrong one. Perhaps both..”
“No matter.” He shifted his legs and stretched both now on the wide window ledge. He stared up with a steady fire burning in his intense eyes. He glared at the only thing which connected him to the disembodied voice which whispered to him. A bright sapphire ring emblazoned on his left hand.
“Let them plan and let them gather their strength. Let them even have a false sense of hope if you will. It means nothing! I have seen myself on that Throne.” His sharp teeth glinted in the dark. The candles light of the wall sconce shivered in a quick breeze. Shadows danced along the walls of the sparse room.
“I will find them soon enough. You see why I am not afraid of this.. possible fate? I act to prevent it. I act to forge the destiny I wish for myself! That is what true Kings do! I will not be deterred into losing this opportunity… When the time is right I will break apart the night sky and take my proper place. All those who oppose me will be dead or dying before they have the chance to raise one hand against me.”
“Who are you trying to convince, my King? There are prices that come to all those who seek power that is above them. Painful prices. Deep prices.”
“Prices I have paid!” he snarled, he raised his hand up towards the firelight in order to properly glare at the sapphire ring. It was cloudy but seemed to dully glow in the light. It was inset in ancient silver, long worn with the years. “I have endured my fair share of injustice! It is about time I righted the scales in my favour!”
There was silence as he stood deviant in the empty tower room. He waited a long moment before the grin grew wider but colder as the pale dull light seemed to fade from the ring. There was no rebuttal. There was no sounds of coaxing. He knew when an argument was his.
“You see then. I am glad one of us has given up. I think I shall go and join the festivities after all. I feel like celebrating.”
He waved his hand and the light in the room fell away as he took the stairs to the depths below. Each light from the sconce flickering out as he passed like a royal bow. As he descended the long solitary twisting stairs the sounds of music and frolic started to become louder.
Down into the caverns that swallowed up the Goblin castle. Down into the underground courtyards and hidden passages illuminated by strange mushrooms and earthy magick. He would lose his troubled thoughts to a thousand other distractions, and a thousand dreams of what was to come.
While the Goblin King lost himself in distractions, drinking, and mirth somewhere in the night there was a quiet gathering beneath the roof of a small wooden cabin whose roof was warded and strung with a net of charms, amulets knots and rope.
Before the group was a large ornate black lantern that was burning with a thick beeswax candle. The lantern was elegant and strange, formed with curving engravings and sculptures of feathers and ravens. Some of them looked so realistic that the flame of the candle almost made them look as if they were about to burst from the lantern into flight.
“I light this every Samonios. Seems to mean more to me right now. Is a.. relic from another life.” He shrugged and stroked the top of the sturdy lantern. “Is enchanted you know. It just keeps burning for as long as you need it to. Had that candle there going for..” he paused and generally seemed to be perplexed. “Well.. not sure how long actually. More then a century I’m sure.”
They were a strange group.
Arzhel and Maeve sat at one end of the table, while Leaven slept in the small bed made for him at the other end of the table. His tiny body had started to heal, but the iron water would take a while to slowly work out of his waterlogged system. It was a spot of luck that Arzhel was even able to save him, and a few times he had nearly slipped away. Greenback, had not left his friends side but was finally sleeping next to him, half propped up on a stool made from a small cloth and a piece of wood.
“I watched through my raven’s eyes.” Arzhel said absently while staring at the lanterns flickering light. “Was a good friend to me, that bird. The one I sent to your meeting with the Courts.”
“I am sorry he was killed.”
“So was I. But he did us some good. Died well too. Made sure the bastards could not defile his body. Anyway..” he cleared his throat and looked away from the lantern. “Point being, I brought it up ’cause he did some good. We know a bit more then we did before. We aint got much, Maeve. But we got some. And there is some time yet. A few months at least from what I learned so far from our friends here and the bird.”
She nodded quietly. “A few months.. then what?”
He shrugged. “Dunno. What I do know is that it is Samonios tonight. A night of rebirth and new beginnings. A night when the light can choose to go out, or burn brighter. Always been my favourite time of year, lass. Always. Can na’ just be coincidence all this happens now. I would say the universe is givin’ us a shot. I would like to think that means something.”
He grinned, stroked his beard absently and rested back against his chair a little more. “I ‘suppose I have a weakness for it you know.”
She looked up into the tangles of ropes and charms as she tried to gather her own thoughts. Here she was sitting with her father, in a cabin of strange magick with two creatures who tried to kill her. Where had things gone so awry?
“A weakness for what, exactly?” she mused.
“Mad chances and long odds.. sort of my thing. So when do we start your trainin’?”