Dolls and Doll-related Items for Sale

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Chapter Seven: Tea and Talk

Chenonceaux was not a very large village. For Marchen, the important feature of the area was the Chateau Chenonceau, where Cinderella had gone to her ball. Although Addi grumbled about feeling like a tourist, Sig insisted that they see the chateau before arriving for their meeting with Philippe-Emmanuel at the cafe.

"We should see such an important site in Marchen lore," Sig argued. "Humor me."
Addi knew that, underneath her protests, Sig understood that she really did want to see the castle as they passed near. She'd sometimes been embarrassed about her keen interest in the greater Marchen world. Most of her clan never worried much about fairy stories outside of keeping their own internal secrets safe, though children of her people were told of the fairy stores that had happened in their own deep woods. Strictly speaking, Addi didn't know if any member of her home village had actively been involved in of the recorded stories. Humans who had the ability, or misfortune, to become wolves, generally did not talk about what they did when in lupine form. Addi was never entirely sure if she was relieved or disappointed that only males of her kind could take on wolf shape.

Sig and Addi had no problem finding their meeting destination. Philippe-Emmanuel was seated at a table in the quietest corner of the cafe patio, with a slender girl.

"She looks so much like you," Sig murmured as they approached.

"Our clans are all pretty intermingled," said Addi. She smiled a toothy smile at Sig. "And we all have some lupine features."

Philippe-Emmanuel rose with his usual courtesy as they approached. "May I present Mademoiselle Mathilde Louv? Monsieur and Mademoiselle Sigismund and Adolfina Jaeger." He glanced down at Mathilde, then added, "I need to speak to the owner of the cafe, if you will excuse me."
Sig was glad that he understood the Ulfer language that the two girls proceeded to use. He wasn't going to miss a word of this conversation. He squeezed Addi's hand under the table to remind her to stay composed.

"Philippe-Emmanuel told us that you have been working in with a group called the League of the Fey," Addi said slowly to Mathilde.
"I have, unofficially," Mathilde replied defensively. She glanced toward the cafe door before turning back and continuing, her voice lowered. "You have to understand, the fairy who lives in this village is probably the most powerful fairy in Gaul. She is the head of this group of fairies, creatures with innate powers, and the League as a whole answers to no one in greater Marchen society."

"And is this powerful League antagonistic toward Marchenkind?" asked Sig.
Mathilde shrugged. "As far as I can sense, no. Obviously, I wouldn't be told directly if they had ill intentions towards the greater Marchen world. Even so, the fairy who makes her home here, Isabelle Follet, seems to me only to be interested in maintaining order and accountability among the fairy folk. She's the descendant, of course, of one of the most famous fairies in Marchen lore, Cinderella's Fairy Godmother." She glanced toward the cafe again before continuing, "She, Isabelle, does things that I think are unethical... but I won't discuss any of that out in the open."

"What about Philippe-Emmanuel, then? How does he fit into all this?" asked Addi.

"I'm not entirely sure," said Mathilde, frowning. "He says he's a Marchen, has Marchen knowledge, and is very good friends with Isabelle. I'm not quite sure what story he fits into, if he fits into any story. Of course, people like us," gesturing to Addi, "and hunters like you, Sig, belong in the Marchen world because our ancestors belonged in the Marchen world. It's all in the family, so to speak. Philippe-Emmanuel? His parents are dead, but he was brought up well, and has a small estate to manage. He doesn't seem to have any fairy in his ancestry, but somehow got to know Isabelle, and helps her with Fey business."

"Who is the guardian of Cinderella's story?" Addi asked.
"She's a direct descendant of Cinderella. Her father is the King of Orleans, this region. The chateau here is a summer home."

Addi saw Philippe-Emmanuel returning to their table before she could ask any more questions. She turned to him instead. "What is our next step? We would like to meet Isabelle, of course."

"I'm glad to hear you say that. Isabelle has confided in me her own suspicions about the strange circumstances recently, and since the two of you are in deep enough from your own explorations, it would be beneficial to all of us to compare notes about what you know."

Sig asked ingenuously, "And are you the keeper of the story of Cinderella?"

Philippe-Emmanuel started slightly. "What? Oh, no. I believe my family is like all of yours, steeped in Marchen traditions. There were farmers in the stories, as well as hunters and..." he paused and cleared his throat. "Isabelle told me she would like to meet tomorrow morning, when you feel refreshed. So perhaps we should discuss where you two should stay tonight."
"Of course Addi and Sig must stay with my people tonight," Mathilde said firmly. "Ulfer law demands that we must always offer hospitality to other Ulfer, and to their friends and companions."

Addi thought that Philippe-Emmanuel did not look happy about the other three being able to have their own conversation for the entire evening, but people who knew Ulfer knew better than to argue about their ways. And Mathilde's dictate was actually completely true. Perhaps, thought Addi, she was making too much of his possible concern. She herself didn't trust Philippe-Emmanuel yet, nor did she trust Mathilde completely. Ulfer were generally fiercely loyal to their own above all, but Addi was not naive enough to think that any one of her kind was completely beyond treachery or deceit. She knew Sig was smart enough to be aware of that too.

"Thank you for a lovely tea, Monsieur," Addi smiled. "When and where do we meet tomorrow?"
Philippe-Emmanuel hesitated. "We wanted more privacy, so we could talk openly... but Isabelle was not sure you would feel safe meeting at her home. She thought perhaps a hike and a picnic lunch. At the top of that hill." He pointed at the hill rising just beyond the town.

Addi and Sig glanced at each other. It was basic fairy lore that fairies generally favored gathering at the top of hills, and sometimes even made fortresses for themselves there. On the other hand, fairies also had power near rivers, and this town sat neatly beside one. She and Sig would object to meeting at her home, and at least on the hilltop, they would be able to observe if anyone was nearby to overhear. Addi closed and opened her eyelids, letting Sig know she accepted this plan, and Sig announced their agreement to the other two.

"Until tomorrow, then," said Mathilde briskly, rising from the table. "I've arranged for one of my uncles to give us a ride to our little settlement. It's not very far away from the town, here."

Sig and Addi gathered their belongings, as Philippe-Emmanuel wished them a pleasant evening. Addi was already looking forward to what she wanted to learn from Mathilde.


  1. There's housing development in town here called Chateau Estates. All the streets in it have French names,like Bordeaux and Burgundy,Toulon,and Chambord. There's also a street called Chenonceaux. What drives me crazy is that nobody in this town knows how to pronounce most of the names. Chenonceaux gets pronounced as Shunucks,believe it or not. Apart from pronouncing it wrong, they leave out a whole syllable! Loire Valley is called 'Lori Valley'

    1. That's like where I live there are two streets named Deschamps and not only can nobody say it properly, if you do say it properly nobody knows what you mean

    2. Around here it's Vienna, pronounced V-eye-enna, emphasis on the eye. Campbell, pronounced Camel, which is probably lazy pronunciation. And Mantua, pronounced three different ways by the locals.

      Tam, I remember reading a murder mystery set in England where the American character can't figure out why the name Ruthven is pronounced Riven.

  2. I think I'm going to have to go back and read this from the beginning. I'm not sure if I've missed parts or forgotten everything