King Eirdsidh was only twelve years old when he became the ruler of Dhaingneach aah Sithiche. A child. Merely a babe, to the fae whose lives he ruled over. Ten years had passed since then, yet he still felt like a child.
“Again, my Blessed King,” his attendant encouraged.
Eirdsidh grimaced. They all called him that; blessed king. As if he had done anything to deserve such a title. He couldn’t even bring himself to hit a practice target at the end of the field. If incompetence were a person, it would surely look like Eirdsidh of Sithiche.
His agitation grew strong when the attendant, an old Cairn Sidh that protected the ruler in the forests of the Sithiche, handed him another arrow to string on the absurdly long bow that dangled from his fingertips. Eirdsidh hated hunting. He hated death. Yet here he was, practicing archery to lead the wild hunt as the king of the fae was meant to do. Had the rulers of old felt such disdain for the practice or was it only Eirdsidh that found it so repugnant?
Flowers stirred around his feet and vines crept up his legs, reacting as they so often did to the king’s discomfort. It was nature’s blessing, the sign that he was the rightful ruler. Yet it only ever served as a reminder of the burden that had been forced upon him since childhood. He clenched his jaw, shutting his eyes and breathing deeply.
It wasn’t the fault of the flowers that he was irritated. They only meant to provide comfort.
“Must I engage in such a dreadful thing?” Eirdsidh asked at last. He slowly forced himself to relax, sending peaceful energy back into the flowers that loved him so. They clung all the more tight to his body.
“M’lord?” the attendant asked.
He sighed again. “The hunt. It troubles me.”
“It is the duty of the King, to lead in such events,” the attendant insisted. He grinned, though, coal-black eyes flashing with mirth. “Austere Brid once threw a fit and shot a chamberlain. So much did she despise the Hunt, she tried to run away. He told her Queens should do as told, and she grew fast incensed. He dragged her to the training grounds and there she pierced his toe.”
Eirdsidh grinned, truly relaxing at the tale of Queen Brid, his predecessor. “Am I not strange for my distaste?”
“More strange if you agreed,” the attendant assured him.
Eirdsidh nodded, taking comfort that he resembled the well-loved queen in any way. He placed the arrow on the bow and aimed at the target once more. This time, he imagined the bullseye to be the toe of the fusspot chamberlain of old and released. The arrow hit the center mark with a heavy thud.
“A truer shot was never made, oh my Blessed King.” The attendant bowed deeply. The flowers and vines crawled further up Eirdsidh’s body, singing their joy at his pleasure. It was the first time in his life he’d ever felt like a king.
The book I’m writing is a fairy tale with a pixie as the main character. She and her sister have moved away from the land of the fae, but I’ve been thinking a lot about where they came from and the King who once ruled it before the humans gained power in the world. I like my idea of King Eirdsidh and his benevolent nature. Most of the time the fae are either depicted as sweet, innocent creatures or as cruel beings. My vision of the fae in this world is a bit of both, but also neither. Much like nature, I don’t see them as good or bad. They are what they are. Peaceful. Vindictive. Lively. Soothing. The world rarely exists in duality, and I didn’t want the fae in my story to exist that way, either.
This story is a bit of a prelude to my book, and I’ll probably write a few more short stories as a way to cement the history of the world in my head, even if I don’t intend to include any of it in the book itself. Sometimes it’s just nice to know a thing. This particular history of the world may not be directly important to the story overall, but it still has some influence on the way the world looks later on. Maybe next I’ll write a short piece about the end of King Eirdsidh’s reign, which is tragic and meaningful in its own right.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun writing this coming of age story about a young king coming into his own, and I hope you enjoyed it as well. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next week!