I knew I'd been gone for some time. I knew that. I knew time spent in the fae realm (where I'd only been briefly, on probationary permissions, since the succubus had--for all appearances--left me) passed, on frequent occasion, both slower and faster than time in the world.
I'd known all that, and known Lumindor was changing.
Even so, the changes startled me.
Yet again, I recognized nothing. I arrived to what had been, what had always been, the slope above the bathing pool, even when the pool itself had gone, the hot mineral springs that fueled its magics dried up and diverted. But nothing else.
Not Gallows Hill. Not the village. I could not find the camp of the Rom or the unhallowed graves of the slain my succubus so vividly remembered. I did find the tower, radiating green and red light, and running with lava pools beneath snow that nearly burned with cold. I veered from landing there, shaking my head.
Then...there...in the distance. I saw...something.
Something I might know.
I hovered over it, tossing my head. These were the shapes I knew, but the very stone of the sithen had changed. Our sithen, so drastically altered...How? And by seven stars and seven holy oaks, why??
Impatient, I wished myself inside, as I had in the days when the sithen fought my entrance. I ended up near where I'd last seen my lost Raven, deep in his madness, fighting the demon changing his blood. I recognized my Queen's lilacs, but saw nothing else but the odd green stones. I did find a ramp down, and my feet sought it out.
My lip curled. It smelt of humans here, of draconic energies pleasantly, but not the dragon to which our Court was allied. Of other things. My fingers scattered the books on the table as I shook my head.
I could make neither heads nor tails of the names on the map. I dismissed it and went to where I heard the waters call below.
Finally, the heart of the sithen...as I...
Well. Nearly as I remembered, yes, but...not exactly. The portal rock was no longer missing, true, but now it was boarded over by a gate. Marked with vampiric sigil! My eyes narrowed, and I stalked around my former beloved home.
My touch still opened the throne room door. I stalked in, head high, and my eyes grew wide at the dark basalt dais supporting yet more human-built, hewn-wood furniture. The Queen's lilacs and willows still grew, but whose was the banner behind the dais?
I feared I knew, all too well.
I sat for a bit, on rugs that fae feet had never, apparently, trod, contemplating futility, the unchanging-in-flux that is the paradox of faery, and the perfidy of humans. I didn't have the time for such musings, I had to be away.
But oh, my heart held such questions now. The largest of which was--could it bear, could I bear, ever to return again to ask them?
I wished myself out again as I'd wished myself in, another small bit of my heritage laid to rest the sithen would guard against, in future. But i'truth, I could find no other way out for me. And me, my wide eyes, my injured heart, my inkspun wings...we needed to leave. Not the least of which was, I began to tire of flight.
I flew unsteadily back to what passed for a home now, flicking droplets of ebon behind me as I overflew the land. I cursed my curiosity, my fetish for nostalgia. My lost changeling mother, my elfstruck illusion of a father, absence and weakness.
Mostly? I just wanted home to feel like home again.
Maybe it had changed more than I had; maybe I'd changed too much.
All I knew was, this evening I missed it with a pang, and I had no one to blame but myself.