Any Man Can Lose His Hat in a Fairy-Wind

“Tuck, please –”

“We do not need their assistance, Father! Surely, with all your medical knowledge, you must know of some way to get rid of this — this –”

Tuck stopped, not suffering from a loss of words, but rather from too many words found. Demon, illness, madman’s fantasy — which to choose?

Father Hugh rubbed the back of his neck, and all the found words scuttled away. No matter how unholy the thing that had taken hold of him, it would not do to upset the good Father. He was, after all, in  …

Tuck couldn’t even bring himself to think, let alone say, the words “a delicate condition.” Ladies got themselves into delicate conditions. Worthy wives got themselves into delicate conditions. Whores got themselves into delicate conditions! But not men. And certainly not monks, good servants of the Lord Wright!

He would think of it instead as an illness — for truly the good Father was somehow infected. He was not in good health, and should not be stressed. He had been the victim of a horrible crime, and should not be blamed for the predicament in which he now found himself.

Though why he had to go gathering herbs after dark … But Tuck could not expect Father Hugh to have thought of the fae when he needed a bit more wormwood or rue for his concoctions. Everyone knew that the fae were made-up, stories for children — or if they weren’t, they were demons, and surely a man as holy as Father Hugh would be proof against their blandishments. There should have been no danger beside the normal dangers of getting lost in the woods after dark.

Except, of course, when there was.

“This illness!” Tuck finally decided, exploding. “You are the best doctor in the kingdom! Surely –”

“Son,” Father Hugh replied with just a sigh, not even a rueful smile, “I am the only doctor in the kingdom. That hardly makes me the best.”

“That doesn’t matter! The fact remains, we don’t — we shouldn’t — need them!”

“Lady Morgan graciously offered to help, Tuck.”

“I’m sure she did! What I don’t understand is –” He heard his voice start to rise and checked it. “Father, please, hear me,” he began again. “Is it really that wise to ask a witch’s help in exorcising demons?”

“Tuck …”

Think about it, Father. Is she not the last person whose help we should be seeking in this? Even that — affectation of a surname she has taken on –”

“Tuck –”

“And her husband! By St. Pascal and St. Vidcund, Father! No Wrightian woman could respectably allow herself to be married to that! And worse, she insists on including him in this, when the last thing we need is another person involved!”

“I will agree that secrecy would be best, however, I don’t –”

“Father, you have a problem with demons, and to help you get rid of it, you are asking — a demon-worshipper and a demon’s abomination!”

Click — a swift rush of air — and a voice that had no right to sound that cheerful, even sarcastically cheerful, calling out, “Oh, look, honey, they were talking about us! I told you that my ears were burning!”

“And I told you that if you were to insist on cutting your hair so short, you should put my sunscreen oil on your ears, but did you listen to me? No,” replied a woman’s contralto as the woman entered, shaking her head. “Never blame gossip for what idiocy can explain.” The Lady Morgan patted her husband’s shoulder, and then — Tuck’s stomach turned — she kissed that gray cheek.

She then had the audacity to turn those defiled lips to him and the good Father in a brilliant smile. “So, Father, Brother Tuck. Greetings.”

Luckily Father Hugh answered her; Tuck could not have. “Lady Morgan, Accolon. Thank you so much for coming to — to help.”

“No trouble, Father,” Accolon replied in a way that almost managed to be light and carefree. Indeed, if the situation were not so grave, it would have been light and carefree in Tuck’s ears. As it was, Tuck had to wonder where the zombie got off being so damn happy.

His demon masters are probably doing a jig down in Hell; doubtless this is all playing out according to their plans!

“Please, have a seat, both of you,” Father Hugh said. The zombie proceeded to stomp on Tuck’s last nerve by making certain that one of the desk chairs was turned around for Lady Morgan, and she seated in it, before he sat down himself. He acted with her as any living husband would act with his lady! It was insupportable!

And Father Hugh was giving Tuck his best imitation of a glare, so Tuck hied himself to the empty place on the bench.

Then they all had ample time to stare at each other before someone was brave enough to begin the conversation.

The brave one was Lady Morgan. “So, Father, how are you feeling today?”

Father Hugh did not answer in words, but his face turned the faintly greenish tinge that Tuck now knew was his signal to run for a bucket. Before he could do more than place his hands on his thighs for rising, the Lady Morgan pointed to Father Hugh and whispered a few words Tuck couldn’t catch. A blue light flew from her to him. Father Hugh took a deep breath and relaxed against the bench.

“What?” Tuck shouted. “Magic! Within the very walls of the abbey! Father, you cannot –”

“Hush, my son.” Father Hugh rested his hand on Tuck’s arm. “It has been proven time and time again that all that is good comes from the Lord Wright. Naught that is good can come from a demon. If magic has the power to do good — and I think we in this kingdom, and within this Order, can agree that magic has the power to do good — it cannot come from demons, and must come from the Lord Wright.” He smiled at Morgan. “Thank you, daughter.”

“No trouble, Father. So, now that we’ve taken care of that difficulty, how are you feeling?”

“I … I do not know how to answer, Lady Morgan. I cannot tell what is — what is usual and to be expected, and what is cause for alarm, and what is … what may not be due to my, er, condition, but to something else entirely …”

“The stress you’re under probably isn’t helping things, either,” Lady Morgan murmured. “Have you had a chance to rest since the wedding?”

“There is still so much that needs doing, so much that was pushed off because of the wedding, and then there are the needs of the sick …”

“Father, you cannot overstrain yourself, not at this time. You need to rest. If you feel tired, lie down. If you’re hungry, eat. Listen to what your body is telling you. I’m sure Brother Tuck would be more than willing to pick up any slack you leave behind.”

Before Tuck could do more than glare at the woman in her presumption, Father Hugh patted his knee. “Brother Tuck is as good as a son to me. I do not know how I would have gotten this far without him. He’s been attending to so many good Sims’ spiritual needs when I’ve been flat on my back — or on my knees, and not in prayer.” Father Hugh grinned at him with enough warmth to coax an answering smile from Tuck. “Unfortunately, however, Brother Tuck cannot do much to help the sick, other than pray with them.”

“Hmm. Well, Father, you could try sending some of your patients my way. I can at least do some of the harder legwork and take some of the burden off you, especially as time goes on and the baby starts to take more out of –”

“The baby? The baby?” Tuck finally exploded. “You’re calling — calling it a baby?”

“Tuck –” Father Hugh began, laying a restraining hand on Tuck’s arm.

“And what would you call it?” the zombie demanded.

“An infestation!”

“Tuck!” Father Hugh gasped.

“It is not a child, it is not a blessing, it is an –” Abomination, he wanted to say, but though his tongue moved and his lips curled in an ending sneer, the word did not come out. He gasped and grasped his throat.

“Brother Tuck,” Lady Morgan hissed through clenched teeth, “watch your tongue. You never know who might be listening.”

“I don’t think anyone could hear us,” Father Hugh replied, looking around. “The walls are very thick.”

“The listeners whom I … fear do not need to worry about the thickness of walls. Father …” Lady Morgan sighed. “I don’t think you fully understand … you are carrying a child of the Fair Ones. They have ways of watching you. And they will be watching.”

“Watch-ing?” Father Hugh gasped, and it was Brother Tuck’s turn to lay a hand on the good Father’s arm. He could not speak, but he could offer this much comfort. He could also glare at the Lady Morgan.

“They won’t hurt you,” Accolon was saying, ignoring Tuck entirely. “They’d be daft to. Wouldn’t they, Morgan?”

“Quite daft. You were chosen for a reason, Father. But …”

“But if they think you or the baby is in any danger, they won’t hesitate to bring you — um — honey, what are we supposed to call it?”

“To their Home,” Lady Morgan replied. She cast a glance at Brother Tuck that was uncomfortably schoolmarmish. “Now, Brother, can I trust you to keep any opinions that might lead to Father Hugh spending some time away from all of us to yourself?”

She didn’t actually say “young man,” but Brother Tuck would be damned if he was the only one in the room who heard it.

Still, though, he nodded — it was either that or be enforced into silence for the whole conversation, and if he could not speak, then who would protect Father Hugh from whatever mad, unholy scheme these two came up with?

Lady Morgan waved her hand. “You can speak now.”

“Then perhaps, my lady,” Tuck spat, “you might care to inform me what I can and cannot say, so we do not have to go through this again.”

“You can avoid saying anything that might invoke the wrath of the Fair Ones. Such as referring to the child of one of their number as an ‘infestation’ or similarly insulting term,” Morgan began. Tuck watched her husband make the sign against fae interference. “You might also wish to avoid calling them out directly, since –”

“Children’s stories!” Tuck snapped. “Old wives’ tales! Pagan nonsense!” He shook his head. “This is a holy abbey, a millennium from the time St. Robert walked the earth! We have our faith to shield us from evil!”

Lady Morgan’s eyebrow rose, then fell. “Please, someday, do tell me how well you faith works to shield you from evil. The Fair Ones, however, are not evil. They are ancient, they are wise, and they are powerful. They are older than the Wrightian faith –”

“Nothing is older than the Lord Wright! He –”

“But there is much that is older than the Wrightian faith, Brother,” she interrupted. “The Empire of Reme comes to mind. So does the country of Glasonland. And the Fair Ones were ancient when Remus founded the City on the banks of the Siber River, and middle-aged at the least when the first Sims came into the Caernavon River valley.”

Tuck snorted. “Old or not, they cannot strike against those whom the Lord Wright has placed under his especial protection — like monks!”

“Oh, can they?” Accolon snorted. “I think Father Hugh might beg to disagree.”

Father Hugh flushed and stared at his lap.

“More than that, I think certain … puckish members of the Fair Ones seem to take a certain delight in impregnating members of the Church — particularly monks, since any impregnated nun would be considered to have been unchaste and not blessed by the Fair Ones. I believe that has happened within the Order of St. Pascal?” Lady Morgan asked.

“Slanders and lies! The father of St. Pascal never consorted with de– with the Fair Ones, if that’s what you want to call them! Those stories were made up by the enemies of the Church to cast aspersions onto the Order!” Tuck snapped.

Lady Morgan never took her gaze away from Father Hugh. “I am not referring to St. Pascal’s father.”

Why did that make Father Hugh flush and stare at his lap? “That, Lady Morgan, is not something I was aware that the laity knew.”

“What is?” Tuck asked.

“Or even many members of your own Order,” Lady Morgan agreed, nodding her head in Tuck’s direction.

Father Hugh took a deep breath and turned to Tuck. “There are … rumors that St. Pascal himself did carry and give birth to a child of the Fair Ones.”

What?” Tuck gasped.

“As did St. Vidcund,” Lady Morgan added. “Did he not?”

“That’s not so certain …”

“Wait — and it is certain that St. Pascal did?” Tuck gasped, again.

“… It is. Usually only abbots and priors of daughter houses are told this, so, Tuck, I must ask for your discretion. And I cannot understand how you came to know of it, Lady Morgan.”

“Children, even those who are gifts of the Fair Ones, grow up, Father Hugh. Neither St. Pascal’s nor St. Vidcund’s children followed in their fathers’ footsteps and joined the Church. They instead joined the magical community, who preserved their stories, much in the way your Order preserved the stories of St. Pascal and St. Vidcund.”

“If the magical community knew of St. Pascal’s — something, I find it hard to believe that they would not blab it all and sundry! Do you not live to discredit the Church?” Tuck spat.

“No,” Lady Morgan replied with the kind of literalism that set his teeth on edge. “And even if we did, we would not start with the Order of St. Pascal, who has always been one of our greatest allies. And it is because of that ancient alliance that I offered to help you, Father.”

Oh, help, aye, help! Probably so she can have the Church in Albion play into her hands, just as the so-called “magical community” has apparently blackmailed the Order of St. Pascal since its founding! His mouth opened to say these words —

But it closed, for other than acceding to blackmail, what choice did they have? If this got out, their Order in Albion would be finished. If what she said about St. Pascal was true, and that got out — the whole Order of St. Pascal would be finished. No, it was better, in this instance, to listen to the witch. And pray that her demands would not be too steep.

“I am so grateful for your offer,” Father Hugh replied. “But … what did you have in mind, exactly?”

“Well, for starters,” Accolon said, “we’d like to invite you to stay with us until your little one is born.”

That explains why her husband had to know.

“With — with you?” Father Hugh asked.

“Apple Keep is quite remote,” Lady Morgan continued. “And well-warded. No one would be able to see you who either Accolon or I did not permit onto the premises. And if you stayed with us, I could watch over your pregnancy, every step of the way.”

“I … I suppose …”

“And if you decided, after the baby was born, that you didn’t want to –” Accolon stopped, but was stayed with his wife laid her hand on his thigh.

“Later, Accolon,” she murmured, and Tuck wondered what, exactly, was supposed to happen “later.”

“But — but how would we explain that to the people?” Father Hugh asked.

“Pilgrimage,” Lady Morgan answered without a moment’s hesitation. “Perhaps to the original chapter house of the Order of St. Pascal?”

“It’d cover a very long absence,” Accolon pointed out.

“Perhaps …” It would take a blind man not to see Father Hugh’s discomfort. And it would take a blind and deaf man not to sense his hesitation.

“You could go on a true pilgrimage afterward, Father,” Lady Morgan pointed out. “If you feel uncomfortable about lying to the people.”

Father Hugh sighed. “I daresay I will need to take a true pilgrimage when this is over, for the sake of my soul if for nothing else …” He patted his stomach and shook his head. “But what about the child?”

Lady Morgan and Accolon were silent.

“We — we must make sure what we are to do about the child,” Father Hugh continued. “Especially if something were to … happen to me …”

“That’s practically impossible, Father,” Lady Morgan soothed. “The Fair Ones will not allow it.”

“Aye, they’ll take you around the hill or whatever they call it if they think you’re in any danger,” Accolon added with all the breezy carelessness of a man discussing where it might rain tomorrow.

“But — but even if I am well … I cannot care for this child. My vows … would not allow it,” Father Hugh sighed. “And I cannot ask the nuns to care for it. I know not where the Sisters of St. Coral stand on the question of magic, and the Fair Ones, but …”

Lady Morgan and Accolon did not answer. Instead, they looked at each other.

“Well …” Accolon finally said, “we could take care of the baby.”

And Tuck finally saw.

He finally saw what it was they were after. A baby! It was just like the witches in the old stories. Like the one with the girl with the long, golden hair. Oh, the witch was so kind to her mother, fed her all the rampion she wanted — and her price! The woman’s firstborn! And there was the other story, the one about the miller’s daughter ordered to spin straw into gold, the price for that eventually escalated into her firstborn child!

They wanted the baby, to take, and corrupt, and no doubt use to hold over the head of the Order of St. Pascal for as long as it should live, or the Order remain in Albion! How much power could they gain with the child of an Abbot? They could turn the whole Church in Albion upside-down, have it dancing to their demonic —

The child was a demon-child. How steep of a price — other than the blackmail potential, which existed any case — was it, really?

Tuck glanced at Father Hugh, to see what he could see about the older monk’s thoughts.

Father Hugh’s face was carefully blank.

“That … that is a most generous offer,” he said finally. “I do not know how to thank you for even suggesting it.”

“It would be our pleasure,” Lady Morgan whispered. Her fingers moved to play with her belt.

“And you could see the baby, whenever you wanted,” Accolon added. “If — if you were willing to give it to us, that is. We’d take good care of her. Or him.”

“We’d raise the child as our own,” Lady Morgan murmured.

“And Ravenna always wanted a little brother or sister.”

If they had been a good, upright, Wright-fearing couple, Tuck would have been touched. He may have even remembered that they only had one child, and doubtless would want more. But a witch and a zombie …

He could not even watch them, for fear his disgust would show.

“I — I cannot say anything, just now,” Father Hugh replied. “As to — as to the fate of the child. I shall need to pray a great deal on it.”

“Oh,” Accolon murmured.

“Take all the time you — you need,” Lady Morgan answered, her voice thick with — something.

“But — but if the offer of your hospitality is still open …?”

“It is,” Accolon replied, sounding hopeful again.

“I should be — be most pleased to take it.”

“Well!” Accolon said, jumping to his feet with far more speed than Tuck thought a corpse should be able to manage, “then we’d be happy to have you, Father! And happy to help you make your decision!”

“Accolon!” Lady Morgan hissed.

It didn’t matter — Father Hugh was already up, and the men were already shaking on it.

When they took their seats, there was little enough — and far too much — to discuss. Logistics, and that sort of thing. Eventually they decided that a fortnight should be ample time to make public preparations for a pilgrimage such as Father Hugh’s, and so in a fortnight he would leave the monastery, and eventually come to Apple Keep. He should not be showing by that point, so all would (hopefully) remain secret.

All the same, Tuck could not wait to escort the two of them from the abbey, and it was with a bitter taste in his mouth that he returned to Father Hugh’s office, intending to — he did not even know what. Caution the good Father, probably. Not all Sims were as open-hearted and helpful as he. Still less could one expect that of a zombie and a witch.

But when he entered the office, he found the good Father slumped over, his head in his hands.

He looked up. “Tuck.” He even tried to smile.

Tuck forgot all his scoldings and warnings.

Father Hugh manfully continued to give that false smile. “Well! We have a lot of preparations, don’t we, lad? I suppose we had best get on them …”

“No. No, Father. For now, you rest. I’ll take care of things.”

“Son …”

Tuck pulled the good Father to his feet and held him. “Don’t you worry about a thing, Father. We’ll get you through this. Somehow or other.” Even if I have to work with a zombie and a witch!

“Thank you, son,” was all Father Hugh could whisper. “Thank you.”

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13 thoughts on “Any Man Can Lose His Hat in a Fairy-Wind

  1. Tuck, Tuck, Tuck. Man, he can just totally be an asshole. Talk about setting teeth on edge. Mine were on edge the whole time.

    Heh, Tuck will still be alive when Cherry comes to Albion. I wonder what’ll happen when he inevitably meets Jessiah… *thinks of all of the evil things that could happen with a dreamy smile on face*

    … Huh? Oh, um, I’m glad that there’s a place for Father Hugh.

    But seriously, why is Brother Tuck willing to believe faerie tales about witches and not about the fae? Where does he have any good proof that all witches are evil? Sure, Morgause is. But Clarence is completely non-magical and he’s evil too. Morgause would probably be just as flipping evil if she were non-magical as she is magical.

    So why can’t there be good people who are witches. And Accolon was a good man before he was a zombie, so why can’t he be a good man after? 😛

    And that’s stupid, even if Morgan and Accolon do raise Father Hugh’s baby, they are so not going to stick it in a tower and climb it’s hair. That’s just dumb. And I think that with Morgan and Accolon would be a great place for a baby who’s not fully human, no one will think twice about it. 😛

    • Actually, it was a very commonly held belief that anyone who does not devote their life in some way to God (or in this case, the Lord Wright) is evil. Witches (not to be confused with the modern day connotation of that word) publicly flouted God’s/Wright’s long-standing vision of the world, publicly declared that they worked with demons, and were cast out of Wright’s/God’s holy graces, and were therefore evil. Course, how much of this is actually true is up to debate, but that’s not the point. Since Wrightism is based off of Christian history, if I can assume that, their holy book would say very clearly that witches are evil and must not be tolerated in “good” society. (If I remember correctly, the Bible says “do not suffer a witch to live”, but having never read that passage myself, I cannot say for certain that it’s there.)

      As for the fae, they’re merely stories meant to amuse children. Nothing can really exist in the world that’s neither good nor evil since all that’s good comes from Wright and all that’s evil consorts with demons and witches. But the fae are neither and therefore cannot exist. Besides, anything that children believe in cannot possibly exist, right?

      /end tongue-in-cheek

      Wonderful chapter as always, Morgaine! I’m a bit surprised at how quickly Tuck changed his tune, though. I mean, sure, I can understand his problems with the fact that Father Hugh is pregnant, to an extent. It goes against all he deeply and honestly believes in, against his very faith and core. But the second that child is threatened (or at least he perceives a threat to it), he will fight for it. On the one hand, that’s completely and truly admirable, but on the other, he’s dead wrong. And yet, it fits with his character in a way that I hadn’t considered before: why else would he fight so hard to take the children away from the whores if not to save their souls from their mothers’ corruption. I’m not saying he’s right, but I can understand his viewpoint a tiny bit. Course, he sees everything in black and white, and the world just doesn’t work like that.

    • It’s going to look really bad, aesthetically, if I try to comment back to both of your comments separately. So I’m going to try to kill two birds with one stone. However, that’s likely to end up in a rambly post, so fair warning to y’all.

      Brother Tuck believes fairy tales about witches, Andavri, because he knows witches exist. He’s seen them. He’s met them. He’s seen their magic! And witches are more-or-less explainable in his worldview. Up until this point, he hasn’t been crusading against them, because 5/8 of the known witches/wizards in Albion are extremely well-connected. So it hasn’t been worth it. Also — Father Hugh might give him limited support for his crusade against whores, but he’s not going to do that for witches, for reasons that I’ll explain in a minute.

      You’re absolutely right that any baby who came to Accolon and Morgan would be well-treated and probably spoiled within an inch or so of its life. 😆 And the only person who might get locked in a tower is Ravenna, once Accolon gets a load of George! Morgan would talk sense into him, though.

      Er … probably.

      No comment about Jessiah/Cherry, though. *whistles* Hey, I can’t spill all my secrets in comments for all to see!

      Naomi, the question of witchcraft is a complex one in the Wrightian faith. There is a line in the Book of Wright that says “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” or something of that sort. However, the word for “witch” is an obscure one in the dialect of the Dousa Desert. “Witch” is the nearest translation into Glasonlander/Reman tongues, but translators are slowly discovering that that word is used exclusively to describe people like … well, Morgause. Evil people. People who use magic to do horrible things to others. People whose crimes would probably trigger the death penalty without magic coming into it at all.

      And then there are the “healers” and the “blessed ones” who quite conspicuously perform feats very similar to what white witches and wizards can do … before their conversion. They’re welcomed into the Church with open arms, and keep healing, etc., even after they’ve converted. And nobody while St. Robert is alive says anything about it. Things change after he dies, though.

      You’ve also hit the nail right on the head regarding Brother Tuck’s hesitation/discomfort with the fae. If they’re demons, that’s one thing. But demons shouldn’t be able to attack priests like that. So if they’re not demons … then what are they? That sort of thing has the power to shake a person’s whole worldview!

      You’re also right that he sees everything in black and white, except for himself — he gets to wallow in the shades of gray. I think he’s also capable of seeing shades of gray in the actions of men — it’s mostly women who he casts into black and white. Or virgin and whore, you might say.

      As for the children … that’s a good and interesting point. But I don’t know if it’s something that Brother Tuck has even explored in his own psyche yet. So it should be interesting to see how he continues to react to Father Hugh’s alien baby. 😉

      Thanks, guys!

  2. I think Accolon has a slight case of the baby rabies 🙂

    I wish Tuck would be a little more open-minded in regards to Morgan and Accolon, but I must admit that he’s taking the pregnancy thing better than I thought he would (granted, even at the beginning of the post, he was taking it better than I thought he would). It’s funny that he’s the one freaking out while Father Hugh is the one who’s actually knocked up, but that does happen, even if it is usually in the context of couples.

    Wonder what they’re going to do with the kid. Either Morgan and Accolon’s place or the orphanage, I guess… unless maybe the fae take the kids back? Hmmm…

    • Baby rabies? Come now, Van, Hat. Whyever would Accolon have a case of the baby rabies? I mean, sure, he’s a Family Sim. Sure, he’s only got one child who is already out of the house. Sure, he and his wife are still vigorous enough to raise more. Sure, he’s raised in a time when more kids = better. Sure, he’s a sterile zombie who thought for a while that he couldn’t have any kids, ever, only to be surprised with Ravenna.

      What in all of that would make you think baby rabies? 😉

      Oh, Tuck isn’t the only one who’s freaking out. He’s just doing it the loudest. I can’t imagine that Father Hugh is half as calm as he appears on the outside. He’s just freaking out in a different, more hidden way.

      I’ll bet that happens in RL couples, too.

      Now, why would I have the fae take the kid back? 😉 Where’s the fun in that? Wouldn’t it be more fun to have little coppery-bluish-greenish kid(s) running around the hood, wreaking havoc? Oh, the stories I could tell! 😀

      Also? All my fae are townies. Makes it rather difficult to raise a child when you don’t have a home.

  3. Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
    Elves are marvelous. They cause marvels.
    Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
    Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
    Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
    Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
    The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes, look behind words that have changed their meaning.
    No one ever said elves are nice.
    Elves are bad.

    — Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

    Brother Tuck is equating the fae with demons, which was a fairly normal thing for a devout churchman to do, faced with the supernatural. General folklore, however, suggests you do as Morgan suggests, and never never piss them off. You don’t say ‘elves.’ You don’t say ‘fairies.’ They’re the Fair Folk, the Shining Ones, the Star People, the Gentry, the Lords and Ladies. And while touching a cross might bring you some protection, the only sure way to see through their magic or fend them off was with cold iron. Nailing an old horseshoe above your door isn’t for luck, it’s because if you’re a peasant, that’s a bit of iron you can afford, and proof against the sidhe entering your house.

    The thing about Morgan and Accolon offering to raise the baby is that nobody’s even going to think twice about the two of them raising a changeling.

    On an entirely different subject, I am completely baffled as to how Brother Tuck thinks Accolon should comport himself. Like a drooling minion? (He also has Rapunzel and Rumpelstiltskin backwards, unless they’re different in his world. Rapunzel’s father raided the witch’s garden by night, stealing from her despite knowing she was a witch, which is in fact pretty darned stupid no matter what price she demanded for not turning a thief and prowler into a stone or a dog or a chair, and there was no witch at all in Rumpelstiltskin– the title character is strongly implied to be some kind of seelie or unseelie being himself.) Ahem. Accolon can’t help what he is any more than, say, a leper can stop having leprosy simply because it’s a fairly grody disease to be afflicted with. It’s not like you go out and learn to be a zombie– it happened to him without his permission, much like Father Hugh’s affliction, and totally unlike Mirelle’s. Er. Any of Mirelle’s.

    Bitch about the witches and the whores, Brother, but the zombie doesn’t actually have any other options as to what to be.

    • Loved Lords & Ladies. Loved it! First Lancre novel I read. I need to reread it again one of these days … once I finish up My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me. And maybe I’ll start from the beginning of the Lancre stories and do it, you know, properly.

      As for the fae … well, I hesitate to say that my elves are bad. I don’t think they’d neatly fit into that little box. Morgause is bad. But the fae? They’re ancient, and wise, and very powerful. They can be kind, and they can be cruel. (Look what they’ve done to poor Father Hugh!) They can make your dreams come true and your dreams turn to nightmares. And sometimes they can do it all at once.

      And like Morgan says — you don’t piss them off.

      Oh, I don’t know about nobody thinking twice about them raising a changeling. There will probably be some groans of, “Why?” and “More of this?” coming from Arthur’s direction. Because as you can imagine, sister-witch who’s married to a peasant-zombie and had a baby technically out of wedlock looks bad enough diplomatically. Add to that raising a changeling? Say it with me now — oy!

      But providing a changeling with a good, stable, loving home, no matter how bad it may look diplomatically, is probably better than not providing a changeling with a good, stable, loving home, and thus pissing off the fae, so Arthur will come around.

      The Rapunzel/Rumplestiltskin mixup comes mostly from me, I’m afraid. :blushin: That’s what happens when you’re writing against the clock.

      You’re right that Accolon can’t help what he is. And that makes it harder for him to fit into Brother Tuck’s black-and-white worldview. Vampires are evil. Witches like Morgause are evil. Witches like Morgan are probably evil but easier to live with. Werewolves do so much damage that they have to be evil! But zombies? Well, it would certainly be easier for Tuck if they were drooling minions. Preferably drooling minions who are conveniently spitted when the good knights and the churchmen storm the evil witch’s/wizard’s castle. Much neater that way.

      Because a sim like Accolon, zombified against his will, going out and living a normal life … or as normal a life as he can manage … well, that complicates things. He doesn’t fit into the neat little boxes that Official Church Theology tries to put everybody into. He’s, well, different!

      And different can be threatening.

      (Plus there’s the sheer gross-out factor of seeing an attractive woman being affectionate with … well … that. I think it’s safe to say that Brother Tuck would not get the appeal of a Beauty & the Beast type tale. So, sucks to be him. ;))

      Thanks, everybody!

      • Aha, so it’s a Blue and Orange morality for the fae, then. Sort of.

        Arthur may groan “Why?” and “More of this?” but the thing is… the thing is, if it were Berach and Joyce raising a changeling, people would talk. If it were Will and Jessica raising a changeling, people would talk. If a changeling were left on the doorstep of the orphanage, people would talk. But the healer-witch and her zombie husband raising a changeling? Sure, that’s excellent gossip, but it’s hardly improbable. (And Arthur has Tarvek Sturmvoraus’s excuse about why his sisters (and hey, brother, too!) do what they do without thinking about how it looks diplomatically– the only way to keep his family in line would be to bury them in a row. And that only goes on in Glasonland, not Albion, thank you very much.)

        Why does Accolon trying to lead as normal a life as he can complicate things? His affliction– all three of his afflictions, death, amnesia, and revivification– is not his fault and not his doing and generally not anything he could help. He is clearly not a drooling minion, either to the witch who loves him OR the witch who made him– he may be a snarky sack of gray meat, but whatever propels him still clearly has the Free Will a Sim has (allowing for the improbable idea that Accolon the zombie may be animated by something besides the actual soul of Accolon Pelles; he can’t be animated by something demonic because according to Brother Tuck, he couldn’t be sitting there in a church if he were), including the capacity to love. And the capacity to contract the baby rabies.

        Accolon is the victim of an evil witch’s curse who is now trying to make the best of things without being the evil witch’s evil flunky. I dunno, but I think that’s a pretty neat little theological box to put someone in– probably the only thing Accolon is doing wrong, theologically, is not spending heaps of time on his knees every day praying for Wright to cure him of his affliction. In fact, whether Brother Tuck can consider Morgan a good witch or not, she is inarguably Morgause’s chief rival in sorcery– if Accolon wants to be protected from becoming Morgause’s minion, and the church won’t grant him sanctuary due to his undeadness, the safest place for him is under the protection of his ‘maker’s’ rival.

        Why does Brother Tuck believe Sims of the Cloth are immune to demons? Is that a specific church doctrine? Because quite honestly, if I were a demon, I’d want to go bother the local churchmen and… Well, there are two ways to go here: Dantalion and Crowley. Seduce, tempt, deflower, torment, twisting a virtuous, good-intentioned, pious soul into a single dark masterwork of sin and hypocrisy, or, more subtly, throwing small and frustrating little obstacles in their paths, like automated tech support phone trees and overly-long red lights and labyrinthine End User License Agreements and clothes that aren’t comfortable and don’t look good on anyone with an ounce of jiggle but they’re in and you can’t risk being out, little things that push a person farther and farther toward wrath and vanity and lust with an ever-deepening patina of sin. Corrupt the priests and monks, and you corrupt the Church itself, and that has to be a pretty juicy target for any sort of organized demonkind.

        • Thanks for the mental workout, Hat. 🙂 Great way to get the juices flowing on a Saturday morning. (Morning being a relative term.)

          In the minds of most of the Church and most of the faithful, life is a linear path. You’re born, you go through life, you die. Then you’re judged by the Lord Wright. If you live a good life and die with all of your sins confessed and atoned for, you go to Heaven. If you’ve been really bad and die with unconfessed, un-atoned-for mortal sins on your conscience, you go to Hell. If you’re somewhere in between (like most of us), you go to a kind of limbo where you atone for your sins until you’re good enough to get into Heaven, which will take probably ages. The easiest, fastest way to get into Heaven (other than being a good person or a martyr) is to go to Church regularly, do confession, and get yourself washed clean of your sins. The Church essentially controls who gets to go to Heaven and who doesn’t. The afterlife is their carrot and their stick. Fear of what will happen after death is how they keep the faithful in line. More than that, they’ve built up their whole religion on the back of a founder who conquered death by complete submission to the Lord Wright.

          And then you have Accolon.

          Accolon is not supposed to be here. When you are dead, you are supposed to stay dead. Forever. Finis! End of story. And where the Lord Wright puts you after you die, you’re supposed to stay. Except Accolon didn’t. He came back. Granted, he came back against his will and in a form no person would choose if there were other options. But he came back, and more than that, his comeback was effected by means that the Church specifically labels as evil and demon-induced. In other words … demons showed that they were more powerful than the Lord Wright. Who is supposed to be omnipotent and unquestionably in charge of the universe.

          To Tuck, that is seriously scary shit.

          And that’s why it’s easier for the Church if the zombies are drooling minions. If they’re drooling minions, the Church can tell themselves and others that it’s not really Accolon or Don Uglacy inhabiting that oozing shell. The corpse has just been reanimated, the soul is safe somewhere else. Kind of like the Inferi. Demons and those who serve them can do whatever they want with dead bodies; the Lord Wright doesn’t care. But a soul? The Lord Wright and the Lord Wright alone should have power over that.

          Now, there could be some wiggle room if the Church decided to say that only souls who had been condemned to Hell (and thus placed with the demons) could become zombies. They tried something like that in their early history, after the death of St. Robert and when the campaign against witches was starting up. A witch of the Dark Path responded by getting hold of the bones of a recognized saint — a martyr! — and zombifing him. And that witch threatened to get ahold of the bones of St. Robert himself and do it to him as well. The Church backed off from that particular stance and did their best to hush up the incident.

          So does that kind of explain why Accolon and zombies like him are a threat to people like Tuck? Let me know if it doesn’t, because I can totally go on. 😉

          As for why Brother Tuck thinks that demons can’t attack Church-people, there isn’t a specific doctrine that actually comes out and says that. There is a saying, however, by St. Robert, that those of sufficient faith are proof against demons and all of their blandishments. The common interpretation to this is that ordained monks and nuns are immune to demons. This is what Brother Tuck is banking on and praying for.

          And he might be right. No actual demon (i.e., not a fae, not a werewolf, not a wizard or witch or magical servant) has ever been able to attack a Sim of the Cloth.

          But they haven’t attacked anybody else, either. 😉

          • Shame they went the ‘demon’ route, because it might’ve been a lot easier to say something like… while a soul is in limbo/Purgatory/The Valley of Cas, atoning for the sins of life, it is possible for a powerful witch or sorceror to restore the soul to the body. Which not only grants zombies a measure of dignity, it leaves some wiggle room for good witches (or those with a direct line to the Grim Reaper) to perform perfect resurrections.

            Although another theological possibility is that the spirit animating a zombie is not the soul that left the body, but the soul that would next have come into the world– which explains the potential loss of personality and skills. (Does memory loss go with being a zombie or did Morgause do that the old fashioned way?) Hell, the shredding of the personality even hints at not being able to get ahold of all of a person’s soul– maybe just the portion of it that wasn’t ready to leave the world in the first place.

            Alternatively, if nothing can happen that is directly contrary to the Will of Wright, then those individuals raised as zombies were allowed to be raised as they were for a reason. What that reason might be could well vary. Maybe they need to exist to show what a complete monster some necromancer is. Maybe they need to exist because they need to think a thought or complete an action or say something to someone, but it needed to happen after their death. Maybe, in Accolon’s case, he needs to exist as a reminder that the Orkney family is dangerous, or as an extreme illustration of what happens to innocent peasants when noble power runs unchecked (and thus an object lesson)– or maybe Ravenna or some descendent of Ravenna’s needs to exist.

            Spells can fail. If the Lord Wright allows even an evil spell to succeed, surely there must be some reason for that– some greater, later consequence that mere mortals close to the event may or may not be able to perceive.

            And actually, even if Accolon is in fact a human corpse animated by a demonic spirit (JKR’s version is Inferi, but the older Greek word is vrykolakas), that demon pretty clearly has Free Will and sophisticated enough emotions to love a wife and daughter, and doesn’t go around doing particularly demonic things like defiling the church or corrupting the innocent or starting a plague of zombies or eating brains or anything like that. I’m not saying that this hypothetical demonic spirit is harmless, but I am suggesting that the most Wrightian way to treat Accolon would be to draw him into the Church. I mean, it would take a pretty darned convincing priest to get a demon to confess, do penance, and be shriven. It might be considered working a minor miracle.

            Shoot, it’s possible that he is, in fact, a totally soulless shell animated by magic alone, and that his personality is dictated not by the soul or a spirit but just by his body, which raises the interesting metaphysical, philosophical, and theological question of just wtf is going on there, and whether or not a body alone can develop a soul.

            Just saying.

            Wright’s holy word may be “Thou shalt not suffer a witch, and by witch I mean sociopath, to live,” but somehow I suspect there’s nowhere in Wright’s teachings where somebody is punished for being too forgiving.

            *considers St Robert’s words*

            Well.

            I guess Brother Tuck is very lucky that the worst thing in Albion is Morgause.

            • The Valley of Cas! *giggles*

              Ah, but at least when Good Witches resurrect someone, they have to do it quickly — which means that they can say, “Ah! But your friend is only mostly dead!” a la Miracle Max. In other words, the soul hasn’t made its exit and gone on to judgement yet. I imagine that if Morgan/Ravenna/Jessie/the Emryses have to resurrect somebody, that will be the excuse they will use. And Father Hugh or Galahad would go, “Oh, that makes sense!” while Brother Tuck would grumble about witchcraft, but it would be hard to hear him over the general rejoicing.

              Memory loss does not go with being a zombie — Morgause did that via a spell. Accolon with his memories would have been much harder to control than Accolon without. I imagine that different evil witches and wizards may or may not erase the memories of their zombies as a routine thing — it would vary from case to case and witch to witch, depending on their objectives and the reason for zombification.

              I really like the different ways you’ve taken this apart and looked at it, Hat! 😀 I think I can say pretty confidently that the Church’s interpretation is what it is because, at the end of the day, they really don’t have to deal with too many zombies. (People don’t come back from the dead every day, you know!) And Accolon as a zombie who is out and about, interacting with the people, having a family and being, you know, normal is incredibly rare. Evil witches and wizards with zombie armies are pretty damn rare within the Wrightian domains at this point, so “free” zombies like Accolon are even more unusual.

              However, everything you’ve said has given me an incredible amount of food for thought (even if I kept thinking of FERGUS when you mentioned how much of the personality is dictated by the body alone ;)). I wonder if I have room in my vague and general idea of What’s Going to Happen Next for Galahad to do his senior thesis on Accolon …

              Because we all know he’s going to get in trouble with the Church eventually. 😉

              Thank you so, so much Hat! 😀

  4. Is Tuck somehow related to Bors?! They act so much alike… But at least he does want to help Hugh. I feel sorry for father Hugh. He is such a kind man and now there’s such a difficult path in front of him… I hope everything will turn out for the best! 🙂

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