How about an oldie? Here’s a scene from Threat of Darkness when Mei comes back after three thousand years and everyone, including her mother and her husband Jayce, had thought her dead.
THREAT OF DARKNESS by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2007, Lauren Dane
“Mei, we’re going in now. I’ve asked for a private audience so it’ll just be your mother, her secretary and three of her Favored guards. She doesn’t know you’ll be with me. There are things you don’t know. Things she doesn’t know. But…I’m asking you to trust me. Can you please do that? Hold on for a bit and it’ll become more clear.”
Mei inclined her head. “Of course.”
Taking one of her hands, the Donovan taking the other, the twelve-foot-high doors opened up and the trio walked in.
Aine, who’d been merrily chatting with her secretary, turned around, smiling as she saw Freya and the Donovan and then stopped, eyes widening and mouth dropping open in shock when she saw Mei.
“No!” Aine’s hand went to her throat. “It can’t be! What cruel trick is this?” Her rage heated the room, made the flesh on Mei’s arms itch.
Mei watched her mother through narrowed eyes until the flash of red hair drew her attention. Slowly she turned to see Jayce. Just as he saw her. She nearly sank to her knees. Would have done had Freya and the Donovan not been holding her up.
“Mei?” Jayce’s voice was a tortured whisper.
Confusion made it difficult to form words. “They said you were dead! They said you died the first year at Carthau!” Had he been a part of their plan to exile her?
Aine stood, her power shimmering around her, the room growing hot with it. Fury shot from her eyes. “Tell me the meaning of this evil trick immediately! How dare you come to my court with this trickery!”
“This is your daughter, Aine.” Freya’s voice was soft but it rang clear through the room, cutting through the chaos and silencing everyone.
“My daughter died over three thousand years ago on the battlefield in Sareem. My sister saw the body herself.”
“Your sister knew Mei was taken prisoner at Sareem. She had a terrible wound. They took her to Carthau.” The Donovan watched Aine through compassionate eyes.
Mei shook. Her world crumbled around her and she couldn’t even process what she’d been hearing.
“No! Why would Eire do such a thing? I don’t believe you. This is a trick.”
“What do we have to gain from such a trick?”
Mei pulled her hands loose and stood forward. “Trick? Wouldn’t that be an easy way to get around your treachery, mother? I wish to the gods it had been a trick. A thousand years I rotted in that place. Beaten and worse. Starved of my magic. Told my lover was dead. When the Donovan found me I was… Well I don’t want to think about what I was. But I dragged myself back here and you refused to see me. Had your seneschal tell me about my father and brothers’ deaths. Due to the shame I’d caused you my title and lands were stripped from me and I was exiled. What trick are you playing to stand there as if you were the one wronged? Has Jayce been a part of this plan from the start?”
Aine shook her head, mouth opening and closing but no words coming. “You can’t be my child,” she managed to whisper.
“There’ve been many days in the last three thousand years I’ve wished just that.” Mei turned and pulled her hair away from the mark on her shoulder. The three circles that marked her as a member of the royal family glowed with the magic of Tir na nOg.
A sound of anguish so deep, so ragged that it tore at Mei’s gut sounded, echoing through the room. Turning, she saw Jayce, tears streaming down his face, walking toward her.
“Mei, they said you were dead.”
She heard the pain in his voice, the depth of loss and longing, and all she could do was look at him, at the features she’d adored so much. Still did.
Still, she wasn’t sure she could trust his tears. When he pulled her into his arms a sob wanted to break from her but she held it in. He held her tight but she didn’t return the embraceit . Didn’t know if she could. And it wasn’t so simple anymore.
“Why?” Aine’s voice was close and Mei looked up to see her mother staggering toward them, two of her guards flanking her. “Why would anyone do this? I buried my child millennia ago. Could it be? Oh my baby.”
“It’s her. She has the mark. I would not lie to you, Aine,” the Donovan assured her.
“Who told you? Who sent you away?” Aine demanded of Mei.
Mei pushed herself away from Jayce but he stayed close to her. “Like you didn’t know. But I’ll keep playing. Brian, the seneschal. I came back and he met me at the doors to my suite. He told me Nessa was dead, that Jayce had died in the first year at Carthau and Con and Finn were dead too. He said I’d shamed you by letting myself be taken prisoner and that I’d been stripped of lands, title and property and exiled. He had an order with your signature on it. Aunt Eire came out and sent me away. I’ve not been able to sift back here until today.”
Aine’s face threatened to crumple. “I…I would never do that to you. How could you believe that? Mei, I’m your mother, I love you. I’ve grieved every day since they told me you’d been killed.”
“Your signature was on the paper! The spell that exiled me was very powerful. Certainly not something many Fae could manage. Your own man told me you’d exiled me and Aunt Eire backed him up. What else could I believe? And no one came for me in Carthau.” Her hands curled into tight fists. She still had nightmares that even Card couldn’t stave off. “I waited. Goddess I waited. A thousand years I was there!”
Aine pushed Jayce out of the way and looked into Mei’s face, cupped her cheek. Mei clenched her jaw but Aine wouldn’t let her move away. “My darling girl, I love you. I’ve loved you since the moment I knew you existed within me. One reckless afternoon, oh I was stupid! But you came from that and I’d never trade it away. I didn’t know. I didn’t know. I grieved, I wanted to die when they told me you were dead on that battlefield. Your aunt…I don’t… We’ll get to the bottom of this, I swear to you. But now you’re back. My child is back. You must believe me, I would have moved heaven and earth to get you out of that hellhole if I’d known you were alive!”
Aine waited, tears shimmering in her eyes as she took in Mei’s face. “Please, please believe me. Let me be your mother. Let us find the answers we need.” She threw her arms around Mei and the two women hugged as each one wept. Mei didn’t know what to think but it felt so good to be with her mother again.
In the background Mei heard Jayce’s voice harden. “Send for Eire at once. Go in person, Cullen. Do not tell her of this and bring her in the back through her majesty’s personal rooms.”
He stepped forward. “Majesty, we need to get to the bottom of this. Let’s have Mei stand back so she can’t be seen when Eire enters the room.”
“How could my sister do this?” Aine stood back and looked between Mei and Jayce, confusion and pain clear on her face.
“Pull yourself together, Aine! She wants the throne, has done for a very long time and you’ve remained blind as she’s smiled while she’s lied to you.” The Donovan stepped forward. “I’ve tried to tell you this, I know I’m not the only one.” His voice was a whip.
“Don’t think I’ve forgotten that you’ve never told me of Mei’s existence in all these years, Carl. There will be a reckoning to pay.” Aine narrowed her eyes at him and stood back, visibly putting herself back together. Placing the mantle of her leadership on like a cloak. “What do you know, Carl? Obviously Dark Fae are involved. But not Bron. He’s dead.”
“Eire’s in collusion with the Dark Fae and has been from day one. That’s obvious to us. The council has suspected for a long while that not only has Eire been with them since she sent Mei away but that she may have had something to do with the ambush at Sareem.”
Mei spun. “What? You never told me this! How could you keep this from me, Donovan? My own aunt is the reason I spent all those years in Carthau? You knew and let her live?”
“I’m sorry, Mei. Yes, I’ve known and no I didn’t tell you. I was not allowed to tell you. I wanted to, I argued for it for millennia. But I was not allowed to reveal it until today.”
“Why today?” Aine demanded.
“The Dark Fae have been more active of late. Not just the attack in New Orleans and here in the palace four years ago, but since. They’ve been gathering in other worlds, Aine.”
“How so? The Concordant restricts the numbers of Fae, keeps them from sifting in large groups. That’s why it was created—to stop armies of Fae from sifting elsewhere to make war.”
The Donovan sighed. “Think about it, Aine.”
Aine paled. “Rifts?”
“Yes. And it’s stressing the fabric of space-time. I’m not sure how much longer before something very bad happens and they won’t be able to close it. From our intelligence we know they haven’t quite mastered the spell yet. They can only keep it open for brief periods of time, less than ten minutes. But they’ve been moving people and getting ready. This must be dealt with.”
“She’s coming, Jayce,” one of the guards said quietly as he stood at the door.
“Mei, stand over there. Be silent until we draw her in. She will pay for this.” Jayce pressed a quick, hard kiss on her lips and withdrew.
Eire came into the room all Fae magic and bouncy curls. As a child Mei had adored her aunt but her betrayal had killed all that and a murderous fury rode Mei’s spine. To top it off the look she sent Jayce didn’t escape Mei’s attention. Jealous rage sliced through her at that look. She knew then another reason why Eire wanted her out of the way.
“What is it, Aine? You sent for me?” Eire’s hair was golden, much like Mei’s, her voice musical.
Freya put a hand on Mei’s shoulder to keep her silent.
“Yes I did, sister. I wanted to talk with you about Mei. The anniversary of her…death is approaching and I always find myself so sad. Do you know someone came to me earlier today and told me my child was alive?”
Eire laughed prettily and then frowned. “Sister, do not let these rumors hurt you. She is gone. Dead on the battlefield, and you know I always said you were silly to let her go out there when she should have been here at your right hand. You could try to have another child. Or I could.” Again the coy look at Jayce and Mei’s eyes narrowed to slits.
Jayce stood, back stiff, one hand clasping the other wrist at his waist. His sword gleamed at his side.
Aine’s jaw clenched a moment and then relaxed as she attempted to conceal her anger. “I hate to say this but the person, the one who told me Mei was alive, indicated that you knew this.”
Eire put a hand to her throat in dismay. “Sister! How could you say such a thing to me? She is…”
“Alive and well apparently. Despite your attempts to the contrary.” Aine stood and motioned for her guards to grab her sister.
“What is the meaning of this? I demand you let me go!”
Aine motioned at Mei to come forward.
“Hello, Aunt. How are you?” Mei’s voice was edged with violence.
Eire froze and stared, pretty green eyes wide with shock. Actress that she was, she quickly fell back into her role. “Darling girl! You’re alive. How can that be?” She turned to Aine. “Why do have me held so that I cannot embrace my niece?”
“Do you think I would let your treachery come near my child again? Do you think I’m that much of a fool?”
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