"Uvie, wake up," Ardax pokes at her until her eyes open.
"My baby! Evenfall!" she gasps "What happened to her?"
"She was like that when I woke up," Ardax says, "I've never seen anything like it."
This...creature...she holds, it's not her daughter, Uvie knows this in her gut. It looks up at her with it's lifeless and yet still somehow seeing, comprehending eyes and smiles in a way that makes the distressed mother shudder. She puts a mental call out for Auberon, he should know what magic transformed, replaced their child as she slept beside her, but the only response she gets is silence. His magic still courses through her, she feels its surge, but he is no longer there to answer her call.
"I want my daughter back," Uvie sobs, clinging to Ardax.
She could not reach Auberon, so Uvie makes a desperate plea to one who might know where he is, or how to help her. Bringing Ardax and the false Evenfall to the water's edge with her, she cries out for Ico, begging for her aid.
Her distress call carries through the water, and Ico responds. Uvie took a great risk in helping her escape from her mother, and Ico will repay that in any way she can.
"When I woke up, this lay beside me, in place of my baby. I tried to call Auberon, but he did not respond," Uvie tells her.
"This thing has no life, though it has been enchanted with some sort of semblance of life," Ico says, kicking it gently with her toe, "Your daughter was not transformed, she was taken. And this fetch was left in her stead. A cruel prank," Ico sighs, and frowns, "And I know exactly who would do such a thing."
"Auberon's disappearance...he has been known to leave the world from time to time. But that he would do so soon after the birth of his child, his first...I will look into that as well. I fear these events are not unconnected," Ico says, "Do not worry, Uvie, I will get your daughter back for you."
Ico leaves the sobbing mother, taking the fetch with her.
Ardax holds Uvie close to him as she cries. He knows the pain of losing a child all to well. "Don't despair yet, there is still hope she will be found," he says gently, knowing that words are never enough.
Ico returns to the camp to find Moth has come with news of his own.
"Auberon sleeps and willnot wake," Moth says, his words coming in a fast, heated jumble, "Summerdream cursed him, andtook hischild. She..she threatened to curseme aswell if Id didnot leaveher sight."
Ico suspected it was Tania that took the babe, but hearing that she put Auberon under a curse is a surprise. "She's become a menace to us all," she says, her voice taking on a growl like her Aymeri's, "I will go and end this, now."
"I will go with you," Tegan announces.
Ico raises a brow at him, and he shrugs. "Aymeri would go with you if he wasn't out with Kirwyn. It never hurts to have a dragon by your side, and I might be able to talk that crazy fairy down."
Ico can't help but smile, just a little, even in these dire circumstances, "I'll be glad of any help. And she is still somewhat....attached to you."
Moth leads them back to Tania's chamber in the house Auberon created.
"Oh, Tania, what have you done?" Ico sobs as she sees Auberon, cursed and unconscious on the bed.
"I did what had to be done," Tania says, "Auberon had gone to far in his love for this girl. I had to stop him, and bring his child back to our kind, her kind. Auberon will not be safe until that girl is gone, so he will sleep until she is dead."
Ico groans. Fairy curses cannot be undone, not even by the fairy who casts them. A more powerful fae can sometimes modify a curse cast by another, but only Auberon might have the power to alter Summerdream's curse, and he lies asleep. "How could you be so cruel?" Ico asks.
"How could you be so ignorant and thoughtless?" Tegan shouts his question.
Tania casts a wary glance in his direction. "What concern is it of yours, dragon? Auberon is not your kind, nor is his mortal lover."
"It was not that long ago that we stood on the verge war with each other, fairy. While we talked of war, this one's name was frequently raised; he was our one worry, the only one of your kind who posed a serious enough threat to give us pause. And you, without any thought for your people's safety, have taken out your greatest defense, out of simple jealousy and spite."
"But, we're not going to war," Tania says meekly, the force of his reprimand cowing her.
"I know you saw the dragons who left this area because they wouldn't accept the peace. I was with them, and I've seen what they are becoming. They may be gone now, but they could come back at any time to try to reclaim what they left behind, to bring the war they were denied. What will you do then, fairy, while the strongest of you lies under your curse?"
"I didn't know..." Tania protests.
"For someone so ancient, you have the mind of child," Tegan snarls, "You never think past your own selfish desires. You tell yourself you did this for the good of your people, but you know in heart you did this for revenge. You've taken a child from her mother, claiming it is best for the babe, but you didn't think about what it would mean to set the mother's whole tribe against your kind."
"Let me bring the child back to her mother, Tania," Ico says softly from beside the bed, sensing that Tegan brought Summerdream to her breaking point, and now is their one chance to get her to hand over the child without a fight.
Her nature as petulant and impulsive as ever, Tania pouts, "Take her, and leave me alone, all of you."
"What about Auberon?" Tegan asks as they leave Tania behind to sulk like a punished child.
"There's nothing we can do," Ico says sadly, "Once a fairy's curse is cast, it cannot be undone. He will sleep and only waken with the death of his child's mother."
"Your kind have far too much power," Tegan observes, "And no laws to govern yourselves."
"You may be right," Ico sighs.
Ico returns Evenfall to her mother before the sun sets, and explains the curse that was laid on Auberon. "I will place a ward on Evenfall, that no harm shall befall her, and especially that no fairy may cause her harm. Summerdream may yet try to interfere with you, and I will try my best to protect you. Auberon is my friend, as are you, Uvie."
Uvie clasps her daughter close to her, vowing to never lose her again.
"I'll never see you again, not really," Uvie cries when Auberon joins her in her dreams that night.
"I was a dream long before I entered your world," Auberon says, "I wish this was as real for you as it is for me."
"But you won't see your daughter grow," Uvie protests, "She'll never know her father."
"I'll see her through you, my love," Auberon says gently, caressing her face, "And she will know me through you. Our daughter is fae, she will not age and die as a mortal, and when I am awakened, I will be with her."
"I wish I could give you more, my love," Auberon says he takes her in his arms, "All we have now is our dreams."
Ardax watches over them as they sleep. Uvie didn't blame him when she woke to find her daughter missing, he put that blame on himself. He'd failed to protect Thari and their children, and he'd failed again to protect Uvie's child. They been lucky, this time, to get Evenfall back, but Ardax will not trust luck, or a fairy's ward, to protect them a third time, and so he stays wakeful, and watches.
In folklore, stories of changelings are fairly common. Fairies (or trolls in some cases) will steal a newborn child and leave a changeling behind in its place. The changeling is sometimes a fairy baby left in trade for the human baby, sometimes an elderly fae left to end its life in the comfort of a human home, and sometimes it's a fetch, a wooden creature imbued with life, made to look like the taken child. For this story, I went with the 'fetch' model of changeling, using the IF doll for its creepiness.
For those who haven't been reading my Brannon Legacy, I have been doing a crossover of this story there. In my legacy, I started mashing Moth's words together to imitate his fast speech pattern, and I decided to start doing that here as well, so that explains the new way I'm writing his speech here.