Authors: J.K. Pendragon
Tags: #General Fiction
Every third generation, on the eve of his eighteenth birthday, the eldest son is blessed with a fairy's gift. His entire life, Marcus has been told that he is that fortunate son, and he has waited with mixed feelings for the day to arrive.
On the eve of his eighteenth birthday, he is indeed visited by a fairy. But that fairy is a stunning man, nothing like what Marcus expected, and the only thing more shocking is the gift he bestows. A quiet, ordinary young man, Marcus suddenly finds himself blessed with the gift of Seduction.
It is a gift that will lead him down all new roads, into dangers and worlds he never predicted. It will lead him to a place he never thought to be, and to someone who is far more than meets the eye...
The Fairy Gift
By J.K. Pendragon
Published by Less Than Three Press LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission of the publisher, except for the purpose of reviews.
Edited by Caitlin Penny
Cover designed by London Burden
This book is a work of fiction and as such all characters and situations are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is coincidental.
First Edition April 2012
Copyright © 2012 by J.K. Pendragon
Printed in the United States of America
On my eighteenth birthday
, I was to be blessed by a fairy. Such was the tradition, as it had been for as long as the family records existed. Every third generation, on the eve of the eldest son's eighteenth birthday, a fairy would appear and grant the boy a wondrous magical gift. No one knew why, but it was said that my great ancestors had helped the fairies in some way, and that as a reward the king of the fairies had decreed that every third son of the family should be given a gift by a powerful fairy.
I had never met my great grandfather, but I was told that he had possessed the ability to control the weather, and that he had used that ability to great success, purchasing a small serfdom with his inheritance and using his magic to make the crops rich and abundant, and my family very wealthy.
This had been many years ago, of course, and we were not so rich now. For my part, I was raised modestly, but always reminded of the day when I would receive my fairy blessing and use it to restore the family's wealth. I couldn't say that I was terribly excited about the prospect, but I was, shall we say, resigned. After having been told the story all my life, I could hardly imagine a future that was anything different. Sometimes I would lie awake at night, wondering what gift the fairies would bestow upon me. Perhaps I, too, would be able to control nature, or perhaps I would be a great warrior, or be able to turn lead into gold. These prospects excited me, and in the months leading up to my eighteenth birthday, I began to get a little eager for the day. That all changed when I learned the news.
"Things aren't like they used to be, Marcus, son," my mother had said, twisting the fabric of her apron between her hands, as she did when she was anxious or upset. "All the money and power are in the capital with the king. There's nothing for you here, and you have such prospects."
"Your mother is right, son," my father had agreed readily. "With what you will be able to do, you'll do a great service to the king."
"But you don't
what I'll be able to do, Father," I pleaded. "This is ridiculous. What if the king doesn't wish to employ me?"
"Then you'll skip right back along here, and we'll decide what to do from there," my father said, seeing nothing wrong with the prospect of carting me around like a pile of sheepskins that wouldn't sell at market.
"Marcus, the man we've hired says that he does this all the time," my mother cut in. "He says there are many boys with magical powers who live in the country, and who become very wealthy after he takes them to the palace and introduces them to the king. And he's offered to do so with you for a very reasonable price."
"So you're selling me," I said crossly, knowing that I was behaving immaturely, but not caring.
"Marcus, don't be childish," my father chided. "You'll be eighteen soon, and then … "
"Yes, and then you can cash in on my birthright and sell me to the highest bidder," I finished for him. "Brilliant."
I ran off before we could continue the conversation.
I didn't want to leave Rell. I was in love with the rolling fields, the forests dappled with sunlight, and the slowly lumbering cattle and sheep. The serfs who tended the animals were like family to me. I had spent my childhood wandering the streets of the village and helping the various serfs with their handiwork. The small, dirty village and the cold, crumbling castle at the end of the road were my home, and I had thought that they always would be. However, it seemed that everything in my life was about to change, and I wasn't ready for it.
The day before my eighteenth birthday,
I woke early and dressed in a daze, hastily tying back my long brown hair and obscuring my slender, athletic body with the roughly woven-clothing I always wore. At seventeen, I was full grown. Tall, with a strong masculine face—attractive enough, I knew, to eventually acquire a well-bred wife.
The thought hung heavily over me while I made my way down to the village bakery, as I did every Tuesday, to help Mrs. Miller with making bread. I knew that I was expected to marry and produce an heir to whom the gift would be passed down. I hoped to marry a rich socialite with whom I would have very little interaction, which would suit me just fine—but the thought that I might never be able to produce an heir, even with a willing wife, was what bothered me.
Well, that and the real reason I always went to help with the bread baking on Tuesday mornings: a woodsman named Adam. I couldn't help it; it was as if some strange force had been propelling me to ask Mrs. Miller if she needed help on Tuesday mornings, after I had discovered that Tuesdays were when Adam delivered the lumber to the mill. I was always skittish, glancing around and waiting for Adam's arrival, and I was able to use the excess energy to knead a lot of dough, which was why Mrs. Miller welcomed my help.
the day before my life changed forever, Adam was early with the lumber. I was already hard at work on the bread, but I allowed myself a quick glace when he beamed his brilliant smile at Mrs. Miller, and she told him, as usual, to stack the wood at the back of the room by the fireplace. I then surreptitiously watched Adam's broad back while he loaded the wood into the room, looking down again at my work every time he turned around. He wore no shirt, as any he did would be ruined within a day by the hard wood and sap of the logs, and his broad, muscular chest was covered in scratches and scars, and smeared with the crusted sap of the fresh trees.
I felt a familiar tightening in the pit of my stomach and hated myself for it. But it didn't matter, I knew; I would be gone by tomorrow and, if my father had his way, would never see Adam again. So I allowed myself to look for a little longer than usual. He met my eyes for a moment, smiled that easy grin, collected his money from Mrs. Baker, and then was gone. I slumped, and my efforts at kneading the bread slowed. I just couldn't seem to motivate myself.
"Last day, eh?" said Mrs. Miller, a jolly, portly woman with a hard, red face. When I just nodded dejectedly, she prodded me with her shoulder, and continued, "You should be more excited! Who knows what's in store for you? Got a whole, grand life ahead of you, filled with adventure and magic."
"I assure you, madam, that it will most likely be much less grand that it sounds," I said, getting to work again on the bread. "I'd rather stay here and work as a miller for the rest of my life."
"Well, you wouldn't think that if you
a miller, and at my age," said Mrs. Miller wisely. "You can always become a miller once you've finished doing great things in the world." Then she glowered at my unexceptional work so far, and scooted me from the mill, saying that I was far too distracted to do a decent job today and I deserved to have my last day free, anyway.
My last day free turned out to be torture.
I ended up spending the entire time lurking about the castle and avoiding my parents. My father finally caught up with me about an hour before dinnertime and informed me that my 'escort', a wizard named Dante, had sent word by magic that he was running late and would be arriving sometime the next day. I didn't care, as I informed my father, and he berated me, as I had expected, telling me to be grateful and respectful, that the man was doing me a huge favour, after all. I escaped to my room, where I paced until dinner.
After dinner, I started to get excited. It was summer, and sundown came late. I was told that the fairy could arrive at any time that night, and that I should stay awake and wait for him. The excitement I felt was a mixture of dread and anticipation—I wanted magical powers, just not the responsibilities that came with them. Also, the prospect of meeting a fairy was intriguing. Would it be tiny, like the ones in stories that the maids told, or more like the elegant elves of which my old tutor had spoken? Most of all, I wondered what my gift would be. I hoped I had been chosen by a good fairy, although I couldn't imagine any fairy taking enough interest in me to want to bestow me with powers. Maybe they had drawn lots to see who had gotten stuck with the job.
Around midnight, I retired to my bedroom after assuring my parents that I wouldn't fall asleep, and merely wanted to be alone. My own fidgeting was enough to drive me mad; I couldn't possibly endure theirs, too, any longer.
According to my parents, a few hours later, a tall cloaked figure appeared by the mantelpiece and asked for me, and when directed to my bedroom, walked silently off, leaving a trail of shimmery midnight-blue powder in the air behind it.
I was sitting on my bed, biting my nails (a bad habit), when the door creaked open. I jumped up violently and stood, shaking with anticipation and fear as the figure entered and removed his hood.
He was beautiful; any man or woman would have thought so. His face was intense, sharp, but somehow slightly effeminate, contrasted by very masculine deep blue eyes. His hair was long and black, pulled back from his face in an unfamiliar style, and his skin had a dull, silvery sheen to it. He wore all black.
"Hello, Marcus," he said in a low, resonant voice.
"Hello," I squeaked in a response.
He smiled. At least, the corners of his mouth turned up, and his eyes narrowed slightly, crinkling at the corners. "I am Draeden. I believe you are expecting me."
I couldn't say anything. He frightened and excited me at the same time, and my voice was lost. Fortunately, he didn't seem to be expecting me to talk. "There was quite the dispute in the Fairy Realm about who was going to receive the privilege of giving you your gift," Draeden said, stepping closer to me as he spoke. "Luckily, I won out."
He was quite close to me then and seemed to be examining my face. "And … what is that gift?" I managed to muster.
"That will soon become apparent," he said, and stepped back from me, spreading his arms. "For you see, I am the Fairy of Seduction." At once, there was a stirring in the air, and two vast, feathery wings spread out from his shoulders, a deep shimmering blue. His eyes were bright, the same blue glittering in their depths. He was intensely, painfully beautiful.
But I was focused instead on what he had said.
"Seduction … ?" I whispered, dread spreading through my body. "You mean … ?"
"I do." Folding his wings at his back, Draeden walked toward me again. "Do you know how fairies are created?"
I struggled to shake my head.
"From humans," he explained. "When two humans with magical powers, often latent, come together in some way, no matter how purposeful or arbitrary that meeting may be, there is a chance that a fairy may be created. The power of the fairy, of course, depends on the circumstances and passion of that meeting. For instance, I am very powerful." He paused. "Would you like to hear how I was created?"
"Very well." He continued, "Once, there lived a very beautiful young noblewoman, who had spent all of her life in a palace, in an exotic, faraway land. One day, a group of soldiers from the next land over came to stay in the palace. The woman became infatuated with one of the soldiers and attempted to woo him, but he, not wanting to risk his position, ignored her. The woman, of course, would not settle for this, so she put her whole life, her whole soul into seducing this man and having him for her own. On the last day before the man and his troupe were to leave, he at last gave in to her. They spent one blissful night together, and when he left that morning, he left her a note into which he poured his soul, and told her of how he had always loved her and wished that they could have been together forever. After the woman read the letter, she left it on the bed. A magical wind from the east picked up the letter, and from the combined souls of the two lovers, I was created." He smiled at me. "It's a very fascinating story, wouldn't you say?"