This story continues a series of short fiction exploring some of the Faerie Shepherds and Shepherdesses within my fantasy world. Read below the story for further explanation and head over to the Tales of the Faerie Shepherds if you’d like to read more!
The winds blew a disturbance through my fur. Nose raised, I twitched, inhaled; inhaled, twitched. Uncertainty. Fear. Distress. The scents swirled as they flooded my nostrils.
Another redolence encased the others. This one raised the hairs of my neck. I’d sniffed it far too often.
The fears around were caused by no mere fae seeking nursemaids for their young. These terrors blackened as I inhaled deeper. Lives hung in the balance. Maelphaeus and his daemons roved, unchecked.
The One had come. Her training had been completed. She was ready, and yet …
I rose on all fours, my nose searching harder, further. She was weak. Afflicted. Her scent carried great agony of spirit.
Stretching forward, my great paws sank into the damp moor beneath me as I readied my legs for their fastest speed. Returning to my previous stance, I sniffed once more, judging distance and terrain. Now ready, I shook my shaggy white fur. Once, I had mourned its shade. Dark green was the color I should have been. White wasn’t ominous or muted enough for me to serve as a proper Cù Sìth. Raisie and Lailiana took me in as a pup, and it was to them I owed my life and my freedom. They had told me of the Shepherdess’ kindness and purpose, of her challenges and missteps. Though I’d never seen her, I knew her scent. Now I would track her.
It was time. She had need of me.
Humans believe we transport instantly. Their eyes simply can’t comprehend our speed. In twenty Cù Sìth bounds, I reached the once-distant glade wherein lay Elspeth Ealiverel. Her fiery hair fanned away from her face, and her slender hands pillowed her cheek. She looked at peace, but my nose told the truth.
She groaned, frowning. Her troubled dreams shook her limbs and flickered on her face. I lay against her back, my chin resting over her shoulder.
“My allegiance lies with you, Shepherdess of the Fae. Rest, fair maiden; gather strength, peace, comfort. I shall be your shield all my days.”
“Shield of White and Fur” Copyright © 2019 by Joy E. Rancatore. All Rights Reserved.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that part of Elspeth’s story appears in The Crux Anthology. If you enjoyed this story, please head over to my site to read the entire Tales of the Faerie Shepherds series.
This month’s story flowed from the inspiration of a delightful monthly online writing prompt, #BlogBattle. As you will read on their site, “Blog Battle is a monthly writing prompt meant to inspire writers and entertain readers.” To read several outstanding stories inspired by September’s prompt, “Shield,” head on over to the BlogBattlers site!
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Another intriguing glimpse into what I presume is part of a backstory! As someone who enjoys Celtic mythology (but by no means an expert), you’ve piqued my interest in your choices on what elements you keep and what you’ve made your own. I recognize cu sith as fairy hounds and presume your mention of the fae seeking nursemaids is reference to changeling legends, but so much of the story is obviously ‘yours’ and shows grand potential. This is another piece that makes me wonder what’s going to happen next. Nice job!
Thank you so much!! I love that you picked up on those details! I have read multiple references to cu sith lore over the past few years, and only one of them mentioned they could sometimes be white instead of green. I latched on to that and couldn’t picture him any other way. It gave me a built-in back story for him, and I came up with my own explanation for why green would be better for their traditional purpose between the fae/human worlds. I love researching mythology and legends and folk tales. It’s fun to think through when to stay “true” to tradition and when a new twist works.
Very interesting about the green color. I hadn’t run across that yet, but had seen references the hounds were supposed to be white with red ears. Ah yes, researching … probably a big contributing reason to why we enjoy writing! I love it when the author’s research can give a story an extra zing!
How interesting!! I do love the research!
This is beautiful, Joy. (As is everything I’ve read from you.) The idea of writing from the perspective of this Cù Sìth (in my mind it’s a wolf-like creature) was brilliant — getting the senses of a more perceptive being was very poetic. The pervasive sense of sorrow was also really well done — a subtle undertone that I really enjoyed. Once again, brilliant writing!
Thank you so much! It was fun to slip into a more shaggy character. I’ve known for a while that he would have a prominent place alongside Elspeth, and this was the perfect prompt to introduce him. Thank you for reading and for your kind words!
So far behind in reading the last prompt word stories! Good turn out so it might get even harder!!
I digress. More Celtic influences and, like Abe, I’m fascinated by old myths and lore. In fact I’ve got a fair few books on them that are threatening to become a bookcase all of their own!
You’re certainly exploring backstory depth well Joy. Mind you I’m doing that quite often to as you probably know already. Such a wealth of characterisations too. Mind you, Elspeth does end in heaps of trouble so needs shields from time to time lol.
Is it still your intention to book this properly next year? Which….isn’t that far away anymore !!
I’m woefully behind as well! Still adjusting to this new season of my author life!!
You are right about 2020 being here before we know it. Yikes! My current plan is to hit detailed outlining in the summer and begin writing next autumn. Depending on what my outlining shows me, this could end up being two or more books. My plan is to have them all written with revisions begun throughout before I begin to publish, though. So the publication date is still rather fuzzy! Using these monthly prompts will give me a huge leg up, I think, when it comes to the world-building process. Once I’ve worked through all my other projects between now and next summer, I think the outlining and writing process will go quickly. Every time I write a new mini-scene, the entire story becomes more clear. Of course, it also creates a new related series—or more. All in, I anticipate living in Elspeth’s world for many, many years! And, yes, she definitely finds the trouble and needs some extra shields—furry and otherwise!!
Thanks for stopping by, Gary!