The Faery Politic

Writing Award Sub-Category
Award Category
Logline or Premise
Clever Adiana procures a new human lover for her Queen, Titania. The lover, Greg, is a famed American political pollster who promptly calls for an election. It goes horribly wrong. While Adiana tries to conserve the kingdom, Greg tries to change the world(s). But can Faery really become a democracy?
First 10 Pages

Chapter 1: The Queen Declares Her Desires

I am Adiana of the Lowland Krells.

For half a hundred human lifetimes I have lounged at the left-hand side of the Queen. I would smile upon her while Knights and Dukes offered her advice as she, in turn, smiled upon them. It is a common failing of male creatures to mistake this smiling upon for favour and agreement.

But in the late evenings, I would brush the Queen’s hair and whisper with her. In that whispering I found my purpose and my satisfaction. My power. For I have made a study of power and it was essential to my plans that I should acquire it and put it to righteous use.

I was in a position of perfect complacency, secure in the Queen’s favour. It was enough.

It ought to have been enough.

On the day my tale begins, quite an ordinary day, the Queen had received audience from the Shivering Giants of the Western Fells. After lunch she played to victory in a spirited game of underwater croquet, then contrived to meet privately with not only her established lover, the Duke of Fastwater Waste, but also with the up-and-coming Knight of The Knotted Clock. When The Knight scurried off to commemorate her in Deathless Verse, the leading fae of her court gathered for our evening’s entertainment in the Hall of Eternal Sunset. To await what adventures the night may bring.

Our Queen was in her more fearsome aspect. She had made herself tall and dark, and sharpened the angles of her face. The blue of her eyes was the sea in storm. Her gown was charcoal, her hair black and falling in razor-like strands towards her waist. This look signalled restlessness, so I was attentive when she rose and took up her staff.

“I require seed,” she declared “I grow feeble and languid. My days are become tedious and my nights lack colour. No doubt I have gone too long without the refreshing repugnance of mortal stink and rot. In truth… Adiana,” she turned to me, “remind me, I cannot recall that I have taken a human lover since before the rebellion of the cave dwellers was put down?”

Our Queen has always had a gourmet’s palate for peculiarly human forms of worldly power. Many times she has sent me to fetch out for her a rising Bishop with a knack for inspiring devotion among the lowly. Or a bookish moneylender in whose ledgers the fate and fortune of the kingdom rested.

And she would bask in these strange new powers for her time, purring and feigning interest, and asking pointed questions for a moon or a season or a lifetime.

All she-creatures, of course, have such little tastes and preferences. Some of us seek muscles to ripple down our lovers’ back. Some yearn for witty banter, fireside flirtations to stir the juices. Some like it best to see their own reflection cast back on them in a besotted suitor. For myself, I admire the skill of a fellow artisan above all, for I am an admirer of craft. As is the Queen, in her own way.

“Not since the Lakeland poet, my Queen.” It had been my task to dispense with him, and to scatter his memories of their exotic union with a carefully planted dream, interrupted at the critical moment.

“Not since the Lakeland poet, you see! And no doubt they have grown a fresh crop of humans since his time, fragrant with their peculiar powers. I hunger for them. We must go in search.”

A new human lover. I turned the prospect of it in my brain like a gem, studying the shine of each facet. A change was always to be feared, for in the chaos of the new opportunities there was always the chance of unrest. And yet, looked at in another way, a human lover could resolve the dangerous boredom I sensed in her, despite all the application of my Gift to soothe her into contentment. This was a considerable advantage.

To go further, turning the gem to study its clearest face, a new lover would occupy her time considerably and leave the daily management of the Kingdom to whomever was most in her trust. And no one enjoys more of our Lady’s confidence than me. On the whole, I found reason to be glad of this change.

But I wondered if her mind could encompass how novel this generation of humans was likely to be? For I had heard much of human ways from those few Fae who passed between both realms. Rumours that humans could now fly on giant iron birds. That they daily consulted glowing oracles to learn of doings in far-off lands. That there had been a Death of Kings (or at least, of Kings’ influence).

Little of this, I was sure, would have reached the Queen’s ear, and still less of it would she credit.

“You will find the human world much changed,” I said, “since your lakeside idyll.”

“To be sure, that is my hope. A new species of human would suit my appetite excellently.”

And so, Severin Brightlove, a tedious hanger-on who rejoices in the title of Ambassador Abroad and Queen’s Designee in Mortal Realms, was despatched to identify a suitable mortal plaything for these sports of the Queen.

But I took certain steps to complicate his vital mission, quieting all feeling of empathy in him and heightening his already considerable vanity and self-regard hoping I could provoke him to misjudge. My Gift is useful for such courtly maneuvers. I also took the liberty of making discrete enquiries of my own and, I had my own contender ready to propose should Brightlove’s efforts failed.

Some weeks hence, Brightlove summoned us all to the Throne Room. He had laid out a stone oval and filled it with still water. As we all watched, he made the lace cuffs of his blouse dance with his flourishing gestures, Glamouring the water into the frozen state. Another flourish, and it was upright, floating a few inches off the ground, a stone-framed mirror. It hung before us and reflected the image of the Court back to itself.

“Majesty,” he said, with bow, “I have found for you a mortal man of surpassing power.” The Court rumbled with interest.

“Every week he stands at a dispatch box and dictates to the nation the making of laws. Although no man could be worthy of your magnificence,” the Queen, from her flowered throne, waived this aside, content to dispense with the traditional flattery of the occasion, “this man is widely known and acknowledged by all as the most powerful man in all of these Kingdoms United.”

He flicked the fingers of both hands towards the mirror. The frozen reflection of the Court was replaced by quite another image for we found ourselves gazing at a puffy faced man, who gazed back at us. The man, a startled deer expression on his pale grey face, was wearing pale grey pyjamas and holding a pale grey washing cloth in one hand. This inauspicious figure blinked through the mirror, and I knew at once that Brightlove had misplayed his hand.

The grey clad man was of middling age. Of middling height. Of middling beauty. Pleasant enough to look at, but neither beautiful enough to inspire nor ugly enough to interest.

His face, though that of a man past his middle years in human terms, was round and unwrinkled.

“The most powerful man on these islands?” repeated the Queen, dubiously.

“In truth, Majesty. It is so.”

“You could not tell it to look at him.” She arose from her flowered throne and stepped down to the ice mirror. The man opened his mouth to address her, but she closed it instantly with a binding gesture.

My mistress swept her full skirts aside. She touched the ice with the tips of three fingers, and pulled his aroma through the realms to her. She inhaled deeply through the point of her perfect nose.

“He does not smell of power. He smells of compromise.”

Addressing the baffled face before her, she enquired of him, “Sir, you are no king, surely?”

“Nooo... I’m the Prime Minister of...”

“Do you serve a king, then?” she interrupted.

“No... well yes. I suppose these days we do have a King, but he’s…”

“Ah yes. And you are his subject.”

“Well, yes, of course, but...”

“And is it the King, then, who is the greatest power in your mortal world?”

“Well, nooo... Not exactly. I mean, he’s…” he seemed, with a visible effort, to be recovering himself and shaking off the vestiges of whatever befuddling enchantment Brightlove had laid upon him and focusing his eyes and mind on the perfect face before him. “Who are you? What is going on? My goodness, you are lovely. What… what is it that you want with me?” stammered the man.

The Queen’s grave face promptly burst into sunshine. “A thousand apologies! I have been discourteous. We should of course begin with introductions.”

She rose again to her fullest height and she was magnificent. She was a mountain of rocky slate. She was a thundercloud before the lightning flashes. She was the sound of a sword being pulled from its sheath.

Even I, complete in my understanding of her flaws, could not fail to acknowledge that she was a wonder to behold.

She made herself a Queen in full, as was her way when invoking her Names.

“I,” she spoke, shaping her mouth with pleasure in every sound, “Am Titania, Queen of the Fae, Empress of the Brittanic Isle from rock to sand, from grass to oak, from cliff to cave. I am Keeper of the Key to the Realms Beyond, and Mourner of the Realms Lost. I am Protector of the North,” and she stepped forward with her right toe to point in that direction.

“Guardian of the South,” and her left heel pointed that way.

“Defender of the East,” her right arm rose to the height of her shoulder, and her hand unfurled to indicate that direction.

“And Champion of the West,” her left arm extended past her waist and her hand pivoted at the wrist with a demure flicker.

“I am the dream that adorns the nights and the ambition that fuels the days of male creatures for millennia before counting,” she nodded briefly and then raised her head again, holding her position for a moment before restoring her body to a line as straight as a grass blade. “And you are?”

“I’m… well I’m… My name’s Campbell. Charles Campbell. Charles Edward Campbell.” The Queen was motionless. “I’m… I’m Prime Minister.” Still the Queen waited. “Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

My Mistress beamed, “Ah, Ireland! How I long to see it. Over the sea.” There is not one now among the Fey who could cross an ocean for any cause, not since our King himself went back across the water.

“But you are,” she returned to her theme, “certainly not the most powerful person in the human realm? Who is, then? The King?”

And Charles Edward Campbell struggled to explain the peculiar division of earthly power. “No, no the King is… Head of State. I am Head of Government but…”

He tried out a dry chuckle such as he must have deployed in public speeches in your human world, hoping to charm her with it. “Being head of Government isn’t worth much these days, is it?”

“Isn’t it?” repeated my Mistress.

“Well, it’s hard work, of course and… look.” Once more, he tried to recover himself, “What on earth do you want?”

“I believe that my Emissary has arranged this interview in the hopes that you might please me as a lover.”

At this the Prime Minister appeared dumbfounded with shock and then, a moment later, with desire.

“Madam, I…” he began.

“But you do not.”

His face fell.

“So I ask you again: who is the most powerful person in your human realm? Who is the wolf whose scent you and all others howl to obey?”

“I… I suppose… although it’s a more bilateral world these days, and his power is limited domestically… still in an international perspective I think… you would have to say the President is first among equals, so to speak...”

“I see. And pray, where can I find this ‘Prez-ee-dant’?”

“Well, in… in America.”

“A-meer-ee-ka?” the Queen repeated, puzzled.

“That is the land beyond the great sea, your Majesty. They have grown much in power these last centuries,” explained Severin Brightlove, evidently keen to prove he had learned something from his task. “It seems this President eclipses all other Kings, Popes, Sultans, Emirs and Potentates in the mortal world of these times.”

“I see,” said the Queen flatly. “You are full of wisdom.” Severin Brightlove thrust out his lace bedecked chest and smoothed down his shiny black hair. “Then why, I do wonder, did you present me with this grey man rather than the Prez-ee-dant in the first instance?”

“Well, Majesty, as you know… Er. The journey across the ocean...”

“Ah yes. Of course. I have the misfortune of appointing an Ambassador Abroad who cannot cross an ocean.”

This was an injustice to Brightlove, and I say it though I am no friend to him.

Nevertheless, she continued, “You are dismissed, Severin and remove this grey little man from my sight.”

And Severin Brightlove, no longer Her Majesty’s Ambassador Abroad, departed through the nearest exit, bearing his mirror of ice in both arms. I took care to betray none of my

The Queen dismissed all her other servants, but bade me stay. As I had hoped.

My mistress examined her reflection in a hand mirror. She adjusted her Glamour to add a streak of verdant green to her hair around the temples. She grew her chin by three whisker’s width and shrunk her nose by the breadth of a grassblade in high summer. “Adiana,” she addressed me, without looking up from her glass. “I know you are no longer my messenger to fetch and carry and seek out lost things. But I must ask you...”

“Of course your Highness.” I took up the tortoise shell brush and began to tease out her newly leaf-green forelock. Remembering a trick from my early years amongst the Krells, I braided her hair into a wavy crown.

“Of course I can find the American President for you. The Krells have little more love for a sea journey than the Brightloves do, but there was no reason to remind her of that. “But first, I wonder...”

“You wonder?”

“I wonder if this President is indeed as powerful as he seems. I have heard that he is not entirely his own master.”

“How so?”

“They say... and those who say would have cause to know... that another guides his movements. That he travels where he is told to travel, acts as he is told to act. They say there is a man behind him, a man who calls himself a ‘pollster’.”

“A Pole-Star?!” mused the Queen.

“Pole-Star to the President. This man, they say, consults his oracles and comes to the President saying so-and-so should be given this job. Thus-and-such a nation should be treated with favour and this other nation you must shun. They even say... although it seems impossible to imagine this should be true...”

“They say...?”

“They say the Pole-Star even chooses what garb the President should wear.”

“It cannot be so.”

“And yet they say it. They say the President will drape himself in wool, to be told that the oracles demand cotton. They say that the Pole-Star will not allow the President to leave his palace unless he wears a broach representing the national emblem, or flag.”

“This man determines the President’s very jewels? And attire?”

“So it is said.”

“What pathetic creatures mortals are, if in truth they follow a man who is not even master of his own adornment!”

I could only lower my eyes in acknowledgement that it was so.

The Queen might give way on many things – but we will never live to see the day she allows another creature to choose her clothing.

“Well then,” concluded the Queen, “it is clear that there can only be one human in these bedraggled times with the power to tempt me. Adiana, you must go across the ocean. You must hunt out this Pole-Star, and use all your charms to bring him here for me.”

“My Lady,” I smiled, “though I would perform this service with a will, it is not necessary. The Pole-Star is on this Island as we speak! He is in Yorkshire as I understand it,” the next words I had to speak carefully, for I knew their sounds but not their meaning. “It seems he is Con-sul-ting on a Bye E-lec-shun.”

“And what do they call this Con-sul-ting Pole-Star who is destined for my bed? I must practice screaming the correct name in my moments of high passion.”

“He calls himself Greg. Greg Rush. And I can bring him to you.”