That title may or may not sound a bit pretentious. Blame the fact that it’s 7:30am and I haven’t gone to bed yet.
Before you read this one, a handy dandy pronunciation guide: it’s even alphabetized! With name meanings! Now it’s really a party!
CAHAN: [More or less as written] “Battle; warrior.”
DUBHEASA: [doo-VAH-sa] “Dark lady of the waterfall.”
SCATHACH: [SKAW-hak] From “scath,” a shadow or shade.
TROYA: [As written.] Possibly from old Irish word for “foot soldier.”
YSOLT: [If y’all are readin’ fucked up Celtic faery tales and don’t know how to say this name, I dunno what Imma do. Hello? Tristan and Isolde, anyone? But I digress.] Possibly from Germanic root words for ice & battle.
There is one phrase I’m not explaining. You can just look it up on your own if you’re so damn curious. And on that note… on with the party!
“One little plague,” Dubheasa hissed. It had been nearly seven centuries since she had been last permitted to unleash a truly horrific epidemic, and she was sorely feeling the lack. “Not nearly on the scale of my last work. This would be ended and the King would have no cause to trouble himself.”
“He has his reasons,” Cahan remarked idly, but her lips were tight as she too distastefully surveyed the scene below the cliff on which the Unseelie Knights perched. “You know that, Dubheasa.”
“Would that he shared them,” Scathach commented flatly, the nostrils of her beaked nose flaring in mild annoyance. “I ought to be fighting alongside my hunters, not cowering here. It sends the wrong image entirely.” Irked, she shook out the wings bristling from the back of her black armour, the silver-etched faces on it screaming in silence as they always did.
“You question his motives?” Dubheasa demanded, turning with her teeth bared.
Scathach made no move toward or away from her fellow knight. “Restrain yourself, Dubheasa. I merely think the King puts too little trust in us.”
“You, perhaps,” Dubheasa returned, lips curving smugly. “He has always shared everything with me,” she purred.
“Really?” Troya smirked, dangling a blade by its tip from her fingers while the dull light glinted off her armour, the sickly purplish-blue-black colour of the souls she’d bruised over eons of torture. “Does that include the heathen’s pox? Or are you immune, seeing as you created it?”
“Enough,” Ysolt intervened, her voice as flat and empty as her black armour was laden with ice etchings. “The signal will come, we will fight, and we will assert ourselves brilliantly.” The words might have been more encouraging had there been any positivity to them, but Ysolt’s voice was as devoid of sentiment as it had been since the day the Seelie Queen cast her from the Bright Court and cursed her to feel nothing, thus making her the Unseelie’s most dangerous killer.
“Soon, I hope.” Cahan shifted her weight, as though her armour—the colour of old blood, shed long ago—sat uncomfortably on her shoulders. “I would have this done with.”
“Patience,” Scathach snapped. The faces of stolen souls roiled over her armour. “Others cause enough turmoil for us. The uiscí capall’s daughter taken by an unknown, the hunter hurt—and by a Seelie knight.” Had she been given to displays of emotion, Scathach might have looked amused at that turn of events. “Our army wears on them, my Sluagh taking their souls. What is left of their mortal bodies—” A dismissive flick of the wrist, a sharply birdlike movement— “ours for the taking.”
“One plague,” Dubheasa moaned, looking mournfully below her. “They would suffer and die, and our king safe!”
“He is already safe.” Troya nodded to the ground beneath them. “And well enough to aid his concubine.” Her lips twisted, remembering the Seelie knight he had been when first arriving, the torture she had performed that had bent his mind to the Unseelie’s will. There had been no thanks from the King, she recalled, for the favour she had done him behind the Queen’s back. “The weakling,” she added in a mutter.
“He is the king’s beloved!” Dubheasa snapped. “You would do well to mind your place, Troya.”
“What are places for,” she returned idly, “but to be rearranged?”
Cahan’s head lifted like a hound on the scent. “The signal,” she said, the murky red of her armour moving sluggishly as her curse—to feel peace only when her kills numbered enough to turn the red of her armour black—awakened. “We fight.”
She and Ysolt, the deadened killers, were the first down the cliffs; Dubheasa with her plagues and Troya with her skill in torture followed, and finally Scathach going to the weighted sky, emitting a call that belonged to no bird of this world as she joined the Wild Hunt she had led since its formation. The ranks shuddered and shifted to accommodate her, and with the rustle of wings, swept over the battlefield, claiming the dead before they could sink to their rest.
… I never said it was a happy party. Comments, opinions, et cetera, are welcome below! We don’t have to agree with each other; that’s part of the fun!