by Angela Gross

Oct. 25, 1998

My name is Jessie Golding (or Flame, if I'm in court) and I'm a Redcap. My enemies don't remember me, so I'm safe for the moment. But since I'm a squire defending my baroness's freehold, I know I could die at any time. I started this journal so the stuff I know won't be lost again.

I got involved when my oathmate Bells and I kidnapped a dying boy named Peter. He was faerie kin, and we thought faerie magics could help him get better. Since our only healer never leaves the freehold grounds, it sounded like a good idea at the time.

We found out that Peter has to drain people of energy so he can live. When he found out he was hurting people, he stopped draining energy and got really sick. We also learned that a group of magick-users wanted to find him so he could become one of them.

Since these Nefandi guys work with creatures that are pretty icky, we tried to help. Our healer had sensed that an oath was owed to Peter. After some research, we found out it was an oath of protection sworn by a Sidhe in Germany before the Sundering.

While we were doing our research, I started remembering the two of them swearing the oath together. Because of this, I'm in charge of getting more information. Since we're approaching Samhain, I'm hoping it'll help me remember that life. I'm writing down what I find out, and hopefully we'll find a protector before the magick-users find Peter again.

Oct. 26, 1998

The following is the exact wording of the oath sworn between the two: "As the cycle turns, from life to life and death to death, I pledge to you my friendship and aid. If ever danger threatens you or yours, I will be there for you with all the assistance I have a right to call. I treasure your life and well being as I would treasure my own. Never will I let my people threaten yours, nor forget this bargain. By my magic and my soul, I share your desires and your will."

I'm hoping we can find the Sidhe. The oath still applies if he isn't an oathbreaker. If he is, he might be able to make up for it by respecting the oath again.

The past doesn't look good, though. It looks like these Nefandi people found Peter around the time of the Shattering and took him prisoner. Somehow they managed to turn him into one of them. Every life since then, the same people have found him and Peter has gladly gone "home." I got to see this place in my dreams, and it's not a happy fun place. I refuse to send such a kind and caring child to a place with slugs the size of people and walls covered with glowing green slime.

Oct. 28, 1998

My God. I may have been partially responsible for Peter's imprisonment.

I remembered eavesdropping on the oathswearing. I hated that Sidhe, and I wanted him dead. Slowly, if possible, torn into little bite-size bits. When I saw him swearing the oath with the wizard Sebastian, I got pissed. Then the dream went to my following the wizard home. I must've been very good at sneaking - a rabbit three feet away didn't even notice me. Finally, the dream jumped to some men talking with me and two other Redcaps. We were making plans for an attack on the wizard.

I don't know if the men were friends of mine or of the other two, but I know what they were. Black Spiral Dancers. Werewolves that turned to that wormy thing the other werewolves fight. If a werewolf boinked with a bat or a lizard, they're the kid you'd get. Yuck. Some attacked our freehold once, and it was a pretty hard fight. We were lucky everyone on our side survived with the injuries we took.

I hope they were with the others. I hope to Dana they were.

Oct. 29, 1998

I dreamt of the battle last night. And I have more answers.

The other Redcaps and I distracted the wizard's guards while the Spirals went for the wizard. I won't go into what we did to the guards - just say they made a good meal. We got to the main battle just as it was ending. The wizard was surrounded. The last thing he did before being knocked unconscious was to send a bird in the direction of the Sidhe's castle. Others tried to shoot it down, but all the arrows missed. The Spirals put the wizard in chains, thanked us, and opened some kind of portal to their home. The slime and slug filled place. Then, I was curious about their realm. Now, the look of the place makes me want to barf. They stepped through the portal with Sebastian, and the portal closed.

Then the dream jumped to another scene. I was at a friend's deathbed. While I cared for her injuries, I thought about how she'd gotten them. The Sidhe, Lord Aren Falconsword, was one of Gwydion's warriors and ruled most of what is now Germany. The mortals had begun to rebel against the Fae, and Falconsword's main strategy was to retreat and regroup further away. Constantly. He never attacked. One of the places he retreated from was my friend's village. The mortals in the village came after her and a little girl she'd adopted. They stoned them both. I was thankful it wasn't cold iron - she'd at least be reborn. When we found her, her Fae self was gone, and she didn't know who I was anymore. It was the most painful thing I've ever known.

The scary part is, her true name came up as I was caring for her. She was Bells. Well, not then, but she's Bells now. It's freaky knowing that we knew each other in another life, and weird that we were just as close.

I blamed Falconsword for her death, since she'd sworn the Oath of Fealty to him. He didn't live up to the Oath of the Vassal as far as I was concerned. I understand his strategy now, but at that point I saw him as an oathbreaker and wanted him to pay dearly for it. I even changed my name from Uta ("From the mountains") to Gisella ("A promise"). To be perfectly honest, I can't say I wouldn't do the same today if someone hurt Bells, but I think I'd just go after her attackers and make them pay. I doubt I'd change as much as I did then. I don't think I'll tell Bells about this. She wouldn't like what we did to the villagers after she died.

Nov. 2, 1998

We won. I don't know exactly how, but Falconsword was beaten.

My corby was in his throne room, and I was sitting on his throne. One of the Black Spirals was granted audience, and he told us that in repayment for what my corby Falconsbane had done for them, they would be there if I ever needed them. I still wasn't sure if I could trust them, but I decided to accept the boon. If they betrayed me, we could always eat them. I'm not sure what I think of this. I need to find out if I'm still owed. Maybe I can use it to keep them away from here.

On another note, my baroness is giving me more time for research. She said since I'm becoming a wilder, I can handle the responsibility.

Nov. 4, 1998

We were sure that we'd found and disarmed all the traps Falconsword left behind for us, so we began to explore the rest of the castle. Some of the corby got into the treasure room, and a box inside caught the eye of one of my guys. We were so excited about the room's discovery that we didn't think much of him opening it.

A few of us survived the explosion. I was mildly burned, and pretty lucky compared to others. About all we could do was cry for the dead and watch the freehold burn to the ground.

We took shelter in a nearby cave and tried to regroup. Unfortunately, no freehold meant less Glamour in the area, and our memories started fading. It got worse when the mortals built a factory on the castle's old site. Scouting missions on the mortals got more and more difficult because the scouts kept forgetting why they were there.

That's what happened to me on a scouting mission at the factory. I suddenly couldn't remember who or what I was. One of the mortals saw me and asked me if I was looking for work. It seemed logical, so I said sure. Things get really fuzzy after that. I think I Forgot myself from working there.

This one wasn't a dream. It was something I remembered while I was doing research. Afterwards, I looked at the book I was holding and realized the picture in the book was of the factory. I could even see the remains of the castle's foundation buried under the land nearby. The caption read "Gruber & Goering Clockwork Factory, Germany." This is a very good lead.

Nov. 7, 1998

Del Mar was attacked last night. During the battle we got a report of some Spirals closing in on our freehold, one force from the north and one from the south. If the two had gotten together, we'd have been toast. We were already majorly outnumbered, and some of the enemy was using magic to hide themselves from our cantrips (god damn vampires!). I told my baroness that the Black Spirals owed me a boon, and after some arguing, she finally allowed me to go meet the ones to the north alone. We set up a quick exit for me just in case, but it wasn't necessary.

On my way there, I tried to remember as much as I could. If I could prove to them I was Mother Gisella of Falconsbane, they should believe this was my turf and back down. Suddenly I had a very strong flashback of swearing a blood oath with the Black Spiral messenger to enforce the boon, and the exact wording I used: "I accept your debt and honor your service. If I can use your aid, I will call. Together we will destroy all who oppose us and wash the earth in their blood."

The flashback was so powerful I honestly thought for a moment I was there again. The oath was the only way to prove to them who I was. I met them in my true form, told them it was my turf, and re-swore with their leader, complete with mixing our blood. Damn, their blood burns! I could feel it running all the way down my veins. Sure enough, the leader bowed to me and took off. I don't think they'll come back on our grounds least not without my permission.

It was so weird, though. For a moment, I was there. I knew how I thought then, and how I'd gotten to that point. I became a predator to survive. I couldn't count on Falconsword, so I counted on the one person I could for protection. Me. I never wanted his power; I only wanted vengeance.

Bells had other friends at the time, and we all had basically the same reaction when she died. We became Falconsbane, and I became the leader. Over time, others came to me for protection as well, and my corby became the children I never had. They loved me just as much, and we would have done anything to help each other.

For the first time, I'm not scared of what I used to be. I understand now.

Nov. 8, 1998

He's on to us. Falconsword tracked some cantrips my mom was casting and tried to kill her with cold iron. We were lucky; her Fae self barely survived.

She got really pissed though, and summoned something. I'm still not entirely sure what kind of nightmare she summoned, but she learned quite a bit from it. Falconsword's name is now Swift, and he's an oathbreaker. He also has links to some Fae from the Shadow Court and other beings not of the Dreaming.

Needless to say, it's pretty unlikely at this point that he'll protect Peter. Considering how clumsy the attack was, he either meant it as a warning or isn't used to doing his own dirty work. Either way, I don't think he'll be very cooperative.

We have an ace up our sleeve on him, though. Mom also found his True Name is Veriskio. If he ever finds out who I am and tries to kill us, we may be able to use this against him.

August 16, 1999

I've been spending my time studying the oath, and I may have a new lead. I also have a new problem.

From what I've found, since Falconsword represented all the Fae of Germany, the oath would have applied to anyone sworn to him as well as him. Sebastian would have had to protect any of them in danger, and they would have had to protect Sebastian if they knew about the oath. So if someone was sworn to Falconsword then AND remembers the oath now, they could become Peter's protector in his place.

There are two problems with this, though. First, Falconsword and Sebastian swore the oath alone, outside of the court. About the only people who might have overheard would be bodyguards, who generally don't have a long lifespan to begin with. Plus if they were that trustworthy, they might have gone with Falconsword to Arcadia, which wouldn't guarantee they'd even be here now unless they were of one of the banished houses. Secondly, not all Fae are as good at remembering the past as I am. Chances are the faerie would need a serious jog of the memory to even attempt to remember.

I'll see what I can remember. Maybe I'll get lucky. Maybe the fae'll still be Seelie. It's worth a shot, anyway.

Something else has happened. The oath seems to have bound itself to me to help repay the debt. I'm guessing since I kind of owe Peter for what I did to Sebastian, it linked itself to that. I wasn't actually sworn to Falconsword then (obviously), so it can't fully link. I'm also guessing Peter isn't bound to protect me for the same reason.

A bigger problem is that one of the Nephandi found me. They must be getting desperate, because he wanted me to find the wizard again. They said I'd be greatly rewarded if I did. I never responded, so he seemed to assume I agreed.

He's in for a shock. No reward they could offer me would make me become an oathbreaker. I just have no idea how to handle it when he comes back.

September 15, 1999

"And the one bound to fire shall give her life for her heart's desire, and her soul shall be as an altar for the damned." I knew that prophecy was going to be trouble for me someday. A friend of my baroness came to visit a few weeks ago. She found out about this prophecy, and did some divining with our bard and one of our knights to see if it applied to the baroness.

As it turns out, it doesn't. They got a brief image of me on the freehold grounds. I was pissed as hell, and leading a pack of Spirals. Bells was slumped against a tree nearby, either badly hurt or dead. This made the friend pretty worried about me, especially since I could be a major threat if I really wanted to be.

She did a few magical scans on me, and found out something pretty scary. When I recognized the blood oath again, something in their blood got me. I already knew about this taint, but I thought it could be worked out of my system. I didn't know it was getting stronger. Eventually, Garou would be coming after me, and I'd be forced to cash in the boon to save my own ass.

Plus I didn't know this taint could drive me nuts. She said I wouldn't have been able to recognize my own friends, and probably would have been happy to rip them to shreds. That would have made me an oathbreaker for sure.

She couldn't get rid of the taint (I guess the Spiral blood keeps making it), so she gave me something to help counter it instead. It seems to be working so far, but I'm not sure I like the idea of my sanity depending on a piece of jewelry.

The friend seemed to feel better when my mom figured out that I was leading the pack in retaliation to what happened to Bells. The friend honestly thought I hurt her! Yeah, like our oath'd permit me to do that without knocking me on my ass. She's got a lot to learn about Fae.

It made me feel better too, in a warped sort of way, though I'm not telling anyone that. Still, I don't like the idea of doing this again. It was bad enough the first time.

October 2, 1999

There was another danger from the blood oath. Since the Spiral and I swapped blood, this meant one could be used to hurt another. They could use the Spiral's blood to track me, or they could get a sample of my blood from him and have better chances of REALLY screwing me up. I arranged for the Spiral's blood to be taken out of me, and for my blood to be taken from him. He was in a battle at the time, and somehow managed to break his arm and impale himself on it. Such an unfortunate thing.

Also, my mother told me recently that Swift's poor aim wasn't entirely his doing. She managed to cast a spell, and he stabbed her in the shoulder instead of the chest. He probably would have missed entirely if the dagger wasn't cold iron.

This changes a few things. I'm seriously considering cashing in the oath on him. He's got less innocents around him than other enemies, and I never would have sunk low enough to use cold iron on him. Besides, this oath is becoming more trouble than it's worth. I need to get rid of it before it backfires.

November 1, 1999

Damnit. I didn't see a soul. So much for my memories being useful.

We haven't given up hope, though. We're trying to contact someone else who shares Peter's memories of the swearing. Hopefully he noticed something, and she remembers it. It wouldn't be safe to ask Peter directly, especially if the Nephandi are watching me. Not a risk I want to take.

And gathering information just got harder. I got promoted to knight, and my baroness is on personal leave at the moment. She asked me to keep an eye on things here, so between my new duties and my mom's lessons in Sidhe politics (why they haven't killed each other yet I'll never know), I have no chance to leave town for anything. I'm going to have to start having others gather information for me, which'll be even riskier for everybody here.

I wish I could do my own legwork. This fucking sucks.

February 11, 2000

I talked about this with a private investigator who's werewolf kin, and he made some arrangements. Unfortunately, he forgot to talk to me first.

He spoke with a werewolf priest of sorts, and the werewolf summoned something he called an oath-spirit. The spirit did something like calling upon the wyrd to come into reality and talk to them. It looked like a tornado made out of paper and chains. They told this thing about the oath, and it got pretty pissed about the oath being broken. It wanted to know the guy's true name so it could go kick his ass, especially after it heard the oath itself.

I got the chance to permanently bind the oath to me, but I couldn't do it. The way the oath is phrased, he'd have to help me in every battle I get in for the rest of eternity. Redcaps are built for battle. I can't put all that on his shoulders without his permission. Plus he may not want my help in other lives if I'm closer to what I was then.

Anyway, I agreed to take an oath to protect Peter from Nephandi for this lifetime. The spirit agreed to let me know if Nephandi were close enough to be a threat to Peter if I told it Veriskio's true name. I did, and it took off after the oathbreaker.

Found out something interesting when it got back. It liked Veriskio's punishment. Whatever pain or conditions Peter has in any lifetime, Veriskio gets too. This means Swift has to suck energy from others to live, just like Peter does. And Swift had to feel the pain Peter was going through when we kidnapped him.

Wow. I never thought part of the oath itself could be used as punishment. "I treasure your life and well-being as I would treasure my own." You bloody well better. Ouch.

I still wish the PI had talked to me first. I didn't want to involve that werewolf. He's got kids, for Christ's sake. I was 12 when my dad was murdered, and I'm still having problems with it three years later. His kids are younger than I was, and I don't want to have them go through that kind of pain. How could Conrad ask him?