As her face swam into view in the mirror he bowed low "Greetings great majesty. I have much news to report."
"Excellent" she responded, rubbing her hands together. Then her eyes sharpened, "But you are not telling me everything! What is it that you fear to tell me?"
"Great Queen, it is to do with the brat. I know you wished her born and kept alive and that you instructed me to wait until she was a toddler, however I believe someone, or something, else has an interest in her."
"Of course they have an interest in her you fool!" snapped his Queen. "She is important, or her line is! But are you saying someone has found her?"
"I believe so Majesty. Although neither the woman nor her husband were of our kind, it became evident when the brat grew to a toddler that she had become one of the lesser fae. I have examined her tonight and I can tell that a spell was cast to bring out buried heritage from her father's line, but I cannot sense who wrought that spell, nor can I tell their intent."
"Hmm, if you cannot sense who wrought it nor their intent then the one who did this must be powerful indeed. There are few who could achieve that. Keep watch on her, and in the meantime we can use this to our advantage. You have begun to enchant the woman? Use the moppet I sent you to bring her completely under your will and convince her that the brat is a changeling. Do not let the brat go to school, keep her close around the house, and break her spirit! I want her totally broken by the time I am ready to make my move."
"Yes, Majesty, it shall be as you command."
"Oh, and by the way, once you have the woman under your control, get another child on her by way of insurance."
"Now, I have another task for you my knight. I wish to spread some chaos around the mortal realm, and I have enchanted an old weather stone with a powerful spell. It will appear on the island you are on shortly and you are to go to it and release the power I have imbued it with. When you do so the weather spell those foolish Seelie Courts and their mortal helpers created all those centuries ago will be broken!"
As soon as his Queen's face had faded from view in the mirror, Nik hurried to do her bidding. (He knew what would happen to him if he hesitated for one moment in following her commands). He could sense her power building on the other side of the island and he reached the epicentre of that power just as a huge weather stone burst from beneath the sands.
As soon as it had fully emerged, Nik flew up and directed a constant stream of magic towards the stone.
It took quite a while and a lot of power, but eventually the stone thrummed with power in response and a huge stream of lightening shot up along the stone and into the sky, hitting the clouds which had rapidly formed as Nik had poured power into the stone. He could feel the spell rippling out across the world and knew that it had succeeded.
He arrived back at Dory's home as the day dawned. Luckily for his plans, Mira was upstairs playing with Elenie well out of his way.
He found Dory outside, at the back of the house, and wasted no time using the moppet his Queen had sent to complete the enchantment he had begun on Dory the previous night.
As the light from the enchantment faded, Nik began to weave a spell of words around Dory.
"I am deeply sorry that I failed to save Pete for you last night, and I am even sorrier that I must now share news with you which will hurt you more deeply, but it is something which you must know."
Dory stared at him, her eyes slightly glazed. "What is it you must tell me? I know you tried your hardest to save Pete, but what more is there now that my enemies have taken my love from me?"
"I am afraid that I have been mistaken all these years and my error has caused my failures to protect those whom you love. It was not you that was the target of the attacks, I only realised when I found out that Pete was descended from my people, but he and his line were the target all along."
"Pete and his line were the target? But, Elenie! Is she in danger now?"
"That is what I must tell you, and that is what will hurt you all the more. I am afraid that the toddler upstairs whom your mother is playing with is not your Elenie. It is a changeling left by whomever has stolen your true child."No, that can't be possible! Mother and Pete ran DNA checks on her! She is ours!"
"I am sorry Dory, but it is possible. How else would she be fae? I know Pete was descended from one of my people, but he was too far removed from that ancestry to produce a true fae child. I must tell you that the darker among my people are more than capable of producing a changeling whose genetics appear to match the child in whose place it is left."
Dory broke down into tears at this point. "But what can we do? Where is my Elenie? Can we get her back?"
"It is possible, but to do so we must find out which of the many fae courts have taken her. The best way to do that is to make the changeling unwelcome here and then at some point it will try to return home. When it does, we can follow it and rescue your real child."
Nik's spell had worked well and Dory agreed to do whatever he advised, believing that Elenie was not her true child but a changeling. So Elenie was left alone and ignored in her cot until she began screaming for food.
Nik had not gotten around to bespelling Mira at this point and so when she heard her granddaughter screaming, she picked her up and took her downstairs to feed her. Nik came into the kitchen as she was watching Elenie finish the last of her breakfast and he immediately realised that Mira could ruin his plans.
"Get away from that brat and stop coddling it!" He shouted.
His interference sparked Mira's temper "How dare you call my granddaughter a brat! She's not yours and you have no say in how she is brought up!"
"Pah" he sneered in response, "It's not yours either you foolish mortal, can't you see it's a changeling? Leave the brat to fend for itself."
Mira drew herself up indignantly "Elenie is no changeling, nor is she a brat. I don't know what you're up to but you can stop interfering or I'll have you out of the house!"
Nik attempted to cast a spell which would bring Mira under his influence as well as Dory, but quickly realised that for some reason she was more resistant. As Mira railed at him he rapidly ran through what might work on her.
After a few attempts he hit on the very thing. A spell which would prevent others from believing anything she said, combined with another which would attack her short-term memory causing her to forget her intentions. As he cast the spell and Mira shivered in the icy side-effects, he dropped his friendly mask and warned her not to interfere in his plans or he would make her regret it.
Leaving Mira to absorb his words and confident that his spells and threats would have the effect he wanted, Nik headed outside to get to work on Dory again.
He began by flirting with her and complimenting her, with power threaded through his every word to make her memories of Pete dim and focus her on him instead.
He could tell that it was working when she gazed adoringly into his eyes and confessed that she thought he was her knight in shining armour who would always come and rescue her.
Building on the spell, he magicked up a bunch of flowers, imbuing them with a love spell, and presented them to Dory.
Sensing that she was falling deeply into his love spell, he leaned forward and sealed it with a gentle seeming kiss.
The whole process had taken much of the day, and the evening was beginning to draw in as he asked her to date him. Caught deep within his spell Dory could no longer resist him and agreed, inviting him to move in completely and live with them.
With Dory's will now completely subsumed in his own Nik took her in his arms and moved his assault onto the next stage. He held her close and kissed her until she could no longer think coherently, with every touch increasing the power of his spell and binding her closer and closer under his control.
Finally, as night began to fall, Nik judged that she was deep enough under his power and led her over to a haystack which Mira had left out in the corner of Taliesen's paddock
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