She stood before them, pale, bent with sorrow, nearly speechless before the anguish that spread its heavy layers through them all. She, the Queen of Faeries, and the Lady of Fleure, unable to shield her broken heart from the eyes of her assembled people. They all sat waiting, the young and old, pained, saddened, frightened, and their Queen’s aging hands hung, trembling, within the drapery of her grey gown. She closed her eyes, blinking at their dryness, the ache of drought in her soul. Then she raised her face, and met her people’s gaze.
“There is no greater pain to me, as your Lady and your Queen, than to see such pain in the faces of my people. Truly, our purpose here is worthy of great sorrow, and greater mourning, but does it steal all the light from your eyes? Tell me not that my people have lost their hope, have forgotten their joy beneath the sorrow laid on them. Tell me not that we cannot rise again. A broken heart may awaken the dawn, if they awaken their soul to Heaven’s hope. We must not lose our hope. It is our greatest gift.”
She stopped, lowering her hands that she had, unknowingly, lifted, like grey willow branches, flailing against the onslaught of winter.
“But we have not come here to rejoice, nor to mourn, but to pass judgement. The sorrow fallen on us had a beginning, a seed planted here among us, raised up among us, and never noticed, till it has borne fruit, and shaken us all with its suddenness.”
She felt her throat go taut, her voice stolen from her. Silence hung in smothering folds over the faeries. The sylph who had done them so much ill must be tried and must be punished.
So the queen nodded her head and Sablan, standing at the far doorway of the Circele, nodded back. He retreated, and for a moment was lost from sight, till he reappeared again, two young guards following him. Between them stood a thin creature, a pale sylph robed in black.