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The Land of Enchantment is beautiful on the surface but Sandra knows what lies beneath. And yet will she fall for its seductions? Visit and find out.
‘What are you painting?’
Wayne’s big sister, Sandra, looked up from her canvas. ‘The Land of Enchantment.’
‘A place where the faery folk live.’
Wayne dragged over a stool and sat chin in hand as he watched her paint in a man’s face. ‘Who’s that?’
‘He’s the faery king.’ She added a blush of red to his cheek. ‘He rules the land and all fear and love him.’
‘But he doesn’t have wings.’
‘Faery—F-A-E-R-Y, not fairy. They’re magical beings from a magical place. They don’t necessarily have wings.’
She stepped back, considered a moment, then picked up another brush, dipped it in some black and began on his hair.
‘Don’t make it too long,’ Wayne said. ‘You’ll make him a woman.’
Sandra smiled. ‘Trust me. It’s how he looks.’
He watched as she put down her brush and stretched. His sister was old—almost twenty-one, nine years older than he was. She was tall and thin with blue eyes and long blonde hair. His best friend Mark thought she was hot. Wayne grimaced—gross.
‘I think that’s enough for today,’ she said. ‘What do you think of it?’
Wayne stared at the painting. ‘I don’t like it.’
‘What do you mean?’ she said anxiously. ‘Is there something wrong?’
His sister was an awesome painter. Next year, she was going to the city to study and become a famous artist. At least, that’s what their parents said. He usually loved his sister’s paintings, but this one was different.
Nine people were sitting along one side of a big table piled with dishes of food. Half of them were hideous—fangs and horns, tails and claws, pointed noses and long ears, and wrinkled, ugly faces. The other half were beautiful, but he liked them even less, particularly the faery king who sat tall and black-haired at the centre. Wayne gazed into his dark eyes, and the faery king stared straight back.
‘Oh, you mean the ugly ones,’ she said. ‘That’s good. They’re supposed to be scary. You see, faeries can be hideous and beautiful, good and evil, just like regular people.’
‘They aren’t regular people.’ He shook his head. ‘I don’t like it.’
Sandra laughed and hugged him. ‘Don’t worry Wayne. You have nothing to fear. As long as you don’t eat their food or drink anything, they have no power over you. But what do you think of the painting itself? Is it real enough?’
Wayne dared another glance at the faery king. ‘Yes.’
Sandra stood in front of the canvas, brush in hand. It was late in the evening, and a storm was raging: thunder boomed, lightning flashed, wind and rain lashed her window. Usually, Sandra didn’t paint at night, finding it too difficult to see, but she couldn’t get the faery king right and she just had to fix him now. He lacked something—life.
‘Come on,’ she said. ‘What is it?’
She picked up her smallest paintbrush and dipped the very tip into some white. She considered the painting again, leant in and carefully flicked it over his left eye. He almost seemed to blink, and she stepped back with a start. She laughed and threw her hands up in the air.
‘Finally. Let there be life.’
A flash of lightning, a ground-shaking crack, and the lights went out. Sandra put down her paintbrush and groped her way to her cupboard. More lightning flashed, more thunder grumbled. She opened the door and was about to grab her torch when she froze, catching movement in the corner of her eye. She blinked. She was imagining things, had to be. It was just a trick of the lightning.
More movement, and she grabbed her torch and spun around. ‘Who’s there?’ She clicked it on.
Lightning flashed against her painting, drawing her gaze. Something was wrong. Squinting, she went over. Yes. One of her characters was different. The one on the end. She had painted him face-on, but now he was in profile, turned to the woman beside him, a grin on his hideous face. He was holding a goblet, as though in a toast. She had never painted that.
She looked at the faery king, heart thundering so hard she could barely breathe. She stepped up close, nose to the canvas. There was something different about him too. Something so subtle she was surprised she’d noticed in the torch’s dull glow. There was a slight quirk to his lips, an almost sneer.
‘Impossible,’ she whispered.
The faery king stared back at her, eyes dark and shining and very much alive.
Taking a breath, she reached out to touch him.
Sandra tumbled into blazing daylight and rolling hills, soft grass beneath her knees. She scrambled to her feet and looked behind her, but there were only more fields, more blue sky, a distant horizon. Her painting, her room, her home—all were gone.
‘Come join us, why don’t you?’
She spun back around. Faeries. Her faeries. They had appeared out of nowhere and looked just as she had painted them. They were sitting at the same table, one side empty, the other occupied by nine figures: four ugly, four beautiful, with the faery king tall and perfect in the middle.
‘Please,’ the faery king said again, gesturing across the table. A chair appeared directly opposite him.
She sat. They were all staring at her, some sneering, some frowning, but she only had eyes for one person and he was smiling.
‘You’re—you’re real,’ she said.
His smile broadened, lighting his beautiful face—and oh, was he beautiful. His hair was sleek and long, so dark and flawless it was blue. And his eyes—deep purple with rings of indigo. She knew those eyes so well. After all, she had painted them. He wore a simple cotton shirt, white and to the elbows, the top three buttons undone. She didn’t realise she was staring, until a woman two seats over sniggered to the monster beside her.
Still smiling, he placed his chin on his long-fingered hands and considered her. ‘You have a wonderful talent, Sandra.’ He had a musical voice that made her head hum. To hear him say her name made her tremble and sweat. ‘It borders on the magical.’
He pushed forward a bowl. ‘Please, eat.’
It was the bowl of apricots she had painted, her favourite food and the most succulent she’d ever seen—plump and shining and swollen with juice. Her mouth watered.
‘Thank you, I’m not hungry.’ She pushed it back. To taste even a drop of faery meant an eternity in their world. And though it looked lovely on the outside, with its blue sky, beautiful king and rolling hills, she knew better. She had read the legends—betrayal, pain, loss, even murder. She only had to see the monsters at the table to know the truth.
Horned and fanged, tail swishing behind him, the monster at the end of the table grinned at her and drank from his goblet.
She turned back to the faery king and saw a flicker of displeasure.
‘Why did you bring me here?’ she asked.
‘To sup with us, to talk, to be merry, to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Please,’ he said, gesturing to a goblet, ‘drink.’
‘No. It will doom me.’
This time there was anger, quickly gone. ‘You think this doom?’ He stood gracefully, revealing skin-tight pants. Sandra blushed at the sight of his bulge. The table shook as everyone laughed—screeching, cackling, roaring—everyone but the faery king who gazed into her eyes, so handsome, so powerful. She sagged beneath the force of his stare, her defences crumbling.
‘Will you not come with me?’ he said with a dazzling smile.
A hot flush rushed through her body, making her flustered and dizzy. She couldn’t speak, her brain fogged. He laughed, and it was like the chime of hundreds of bells tolling in perfect harmony. He turned and walked away, dark hair streaming behind him.
The rest of the table ignored her as they feasted and chatted and laughed. Sandra got to her feet.
He was waiting for her in a copse of trees, sitting with his back against a giant oak.
‘Sit,’ he said.
She did, curling her legs under her, close enough she could see the indigo in his eyes.
‘So, tell me, Sandra. What do the legends tell about making love to a faery?’
Sandra coughed and spluttered as she choked on her own saliva. She dropped her face into her hands.
He chuckled. His skin was warm and smooth as he eased apart her hands. Sandra stared into his eyes, unable to look away. Her whole body tingled as he traced circles into her palms with his thumbs.
‘Is it safe?’ he whispered. ‘Or is there doom in that too?’
‘There is—nothing, I’ve read,’ she panted.
He smiled. ‘Touch me.’
She shook her head.
‘Come now. I know you want to. I know you’ve been dreaming about me, fantasising about this moment. Why else would you paint me? Don’t deny yourself. Touch me.’
She raised a hand, hesitated, then brushed his cheek. There was the slightest hint of stubble.
His eyes sparkled. ‘Not there.’ Sandra swallowed. He took her hand and lowered it. He smiled as she rubbed him. ‘See how you affect me? Don’t fear me. In the end, I’m still a man.’
Sandra stopped touching him and brushed her fingers through his hair. It was so soft, like black silk. He caught her hand and kissed it, then rested it against his cheek. She traced her thumb over his lips, and he opened his mouth and took her inside, sucking. She pulled it out with a gasp.
He chuckled, his eyes flashed and the rings of indigo almost seemed to spin, like little wheels of light. He leant in and kissed her, and a rush of heat chased away her fear. He tasted sweet, his tongue was wet, his breath warm. He gripped onto her arms, too tight, his fingers digging in as he kissed her neck, her collarbone. Then he found the buttons on her shirt and ripped them open. Braless, Sandra instinctively put her hands over her breasts, nipples hard against her palms. He smiled, gently pushed them aside and kissed each breast, tongue curling around her nipples, before lowering her to the ground.
As he turned to her pants, Sandra lay in a daze. The faery king. She was making love to the faery king. She must be dreaming. This couldn’t be real. She pinched her arm and yelped.
She lifted her hips as he slid down her pants, her knickers. Then he spread her thighs wide, and she gasped as he entered her with his tongue. He sucked and gnawed, his tongue darting in and out, until Sandra’s whole body tingled and burned. She thrust her hips at each penetration, her body throbbing to the point of pain. She cried out as she orgasmed, her voice lifting beyond the treetops.
The faery king sat back on his knees and licked his lips. Sandra gazed at him between her thighs, panting. Then he stood up, and she saw the shape of his hardness against his skin-tight pants. He didn’t seem affected at all by the effort of their lovemaking: tall and cool, not a hair out of place, his locks midnight black against his pale cheeks, reminding her how truly inhuman he was.
He watched her as his long fingers undid his pants and shimmied them down to his thighs. Sandra stared at his penis. She hadn’t had much experience with men, but as penises went, his surely must have been perfect—not too big, not too small, the right thickness for his length, hairless and smooth.
‘What are you waiting for? Don’t you want my love?’ he said, running his hand over it. Something in his voice, in his look, disturbed her. There was something wrong. This wasn’t love. She could see it in his eyes—a darkness, a coldness, a cunning.
It had been over two years since Sandra dated Michael, and she was lonely. To have someone hold her again, be inside her and fill her up, particularly someone as beautiful and wondrous as the faery king, made her tremble and ache.
He waited, hair whispering in the breeze, the rings of indigo spinning like little galaxies. She could feel his power, his impatience. Everything in her mind screamed no. All her good sense willed her to resist. But her body was throbbing, her heart was pounding and she salivated at the thought of the taste of him.
She got to her knees and crawled over. He grabbed her head, fingers coiling through her hair, as she took him in her mouth. Sandra’s lips ran up and down his length as he thrust into her. Her tongue coiled around him but there was no taste. Neither did he smell. It wasn’t natural. It wasn’t right. But Sandra kept going, knowing he was up to something, knowing somehow she was doomed.
He didn’t shudder or groan or gasp to announce his pleasure but simply ejaculated in a hot gush, taking Sandra by surprise. She pulled away, gagged, then swallowed. She wiped her mouth, looked at him and shivered.
He was smiling, but it was a cold smile, pleased and arrogant. It was a smile of triumph. Sandra clapped a hand to her mouth in horror. To taste even a drop of faery meant an eternity in their world, and she just swallowed its very essence.
The faery king’s smile became a sneer, then he tilted his back and laughed and laughed and laughed.
Wayne stood at the threshold of his sister’s room, suitcase in hand. He hadn’t been inside since her disappearance, almost ten years before, his parents keeping it locked tight. Cobwebs spanned the corners of the ceiling, a thick coating of dust lay on every surface and there was a stuffiness that made it hard to breathe. His old room was a games room now: pool table, jukebox, arcade games, and his father was loath to give it up. After a brief, fiery argument, his parents had decided it was time to open Sandra’s room.
Wayne put his suitcase on the bed and opened the window, then turned back and sighed. It was a hard thing coming back to his parents after years living on his own. Well, not on his own, with his boyfriend Jeremy. And that was the whole point of his return. They had broken up, and he couldn’t afford to live by himself. So now he was stuck with his parents, in his sister’s dusty, depressing room filled with ghosts.
He sat on the bed’s flowery duvet and stared at her empty easel. Her disappearance had almost destroyed their family: his father had turned to drink and lost his job; his mother was an angry griever and had taken out her rages on his father and himself until Wayne couldn’t take anymore and left to make his own way at sixteen. It was surprising his parents managed to stay together. Things were better now but the tension, the sadness, had never left.
It was a bizarre case and had been all over the news for weeks. An ordinary, seemingly happy girl with a great future ahead of her goes to bed one night only to vanish by morning: bed not slept in, wallet and phone and car left behind, room locked up tight. The police were baffled.
He went to the chest of drawers, emptied out his sister’s clothes and put in his own. Next, he went to the cupboard and began unloading the rack. He had just lifted away half a dozen long dresses when he stopped. There were several canvases stacked against the wall behind them. He put down her clothes and removed them one by one.
He sat on the bed and studied them. His sister really had been a great artist. He brushed his hand over a little girl’s pink cheeks as she dipped her hand in a cookie jar, grinning mischievously. So beautiful. He put it aside and studied the next and the next one. When he came upon the last picture, he stopped. He remembered this one. It was the very last she had painted.
‘The Land of Enchantment,’ he whispered.
He stared at it, pulse beating in his neck. He got up, put it on the easel and stood back. It was Sandra. It seemed she had painted herself into the picture but in the strangest way. She was sitting beside the faery king, hands in her lap as she stared at the table, long blonde hair trailing down one shoulder, looking sad and miserable. Wayne touched her face. She was so much older—a woman. Why would she paint herself like that? He looked at the faery king who stared back at him, one hand clutching a goblet, the other gripping his sister’s arm.
He shook his head, picked up the picture and put it back in the cupboard. The other canvases followed, and he pushed the door shut. He had never liked that painting.
Later that night as he lay thinking about Jeremy, his thoughts suddenly turned to the picture. He sat up, hesitated, then got to his feet and opened the cupboard. He pulled it out and stared.
‘What the hell?’
He put it on the easel and switched on the light. It had changed. His sister wasn’t sitting with the faery king anymore. She was sitting one seat from the end between one of her monsters and a beautiful, laughing woman with long bronze hair. This time, she was terrified. The monster was laughing too, a long muscular arm curled around Sandra’s waist, claws digging into her side.
‘No,’ he said.
A click, and the light went out. He lifted his arm against the glare as the painting blazed with light. A man’s laughter filled the room, and there was a small voice—his sister’s: ‘Wayne. Stay away.’
He stared into the painting, right into the faery king’s eyes. ‘Not a chance.’
He thrust an arm into the painting and was yanked forwards, tumbling head over feet, landing in soft grass. He leapt up and spun to look behind, but the room was gone.
‘Wayne, no! I told you to stay away.’
He turned back. ‘Sandra.’
Everything was just as it was in the picture except all eyes were now on him, monster and beauty alike.
‘Have a seat,’ the faery king said, gesturing across the table. A chair suddenly appeared.
Wayne stood beside it and folded his arms. ‘Let my sister go.’
The corner of the faery king’s mouth twitched. The rest of the table roared and shrieked with laughter.
‘I’m afraid that’s not possible,’ the faery king said. He pushed over a plate—roast dinner, Wayne’s favourite. ‘Please, sit.’
‘Way—’ Sandra began before the monster slapped a paw over her mouth.
‘Don’t worry, Sandra. I remember.’ He considered the plate, then looked at the faery king. He was a beautiful man: strong yet slim, powerful yet graceful, face as striking as man’s yet as lovely as a woman’s. He was designed to be adored, and despite his anger, Wayne felt himself go hard. Little wonder Sandra had fallen for him. He took a breath and steeled himself. ‘I’ll join you if you like—in my sister’s place.’
The table stopped laughing. Sandra struggled furiously against the monster. The faery king smirked. ‘Like I said—not possible. She has tasted faery. She cannot leave.’
‘But you are the faery king. Don’t you rule over this land? Or are you just a sham? Does the land, in fact, rule over you?’
The faery king narrowed his eyes. ‘I am the king. What I want, what I say, goes.’
‘Then release my sister and take me.’
The faery king relaxed back into his chair and smiled as he considered him. ‘And what more can you offer me that your sister cannot?’
‘My youth, my looks, my love.’
He raised a perfect dark eyebrow. ‘That’s all?’
Wayne nodded at his sister. ‘Look at her. She’s over thirty and looks much older than that. You’ve snuffed the life out of her. Pretty soon, you won’t be able to stand the sight of her. I, on the other hand, am much younger, much more vital, stronger.’
The faery king rubbed at his chin, dark eyes glinting, then looked over at Sandra still wrapped tightly in the monster’s arms.
He turned back. ‘Done.’ Sandra’s muffled screams were lost behind the shouts and hoots and laughter of the other faeries as they celebrated. The faery king pushed over a goblet, smiling. ‘Now, eat, drink and be merry. We have an eternity together.’
‘Not until I know my sister’s safe.’
The faery king glared at him, then looked across his shoulder at the monster holding Sandra. He spoke something in a guttural language that lifted the hairs on the back of Wayne’s neck. The monster stood up and carried Sandra over to where Wayne had first appeared. Sandra struggled and kicked and bit. She managed to wriggle free of his paw around her mouth and screamed, ‘Wayne!’
‘It’s all right, Sandra. Go home. Live your life. This is my choice.’
She was still fighting and screaming and calling his name as the monster tossed her in the air. There was a flash, and she was gone.
Sandra hit the floor with a cry. She twisted over, blinking in the darkness. The old smells, the softness of carpet beneath her hands—her room, her home, her life. She scrambled to her feet and switched on the light.
She sank onto the bed as she gazed at the picture. Wayne was sitting alongside the faeries, a goblet in one hand, a fork in the other, the faery king’s long graceful arm encircling his shoulders.
‘Oh, Wayne. What have you done?’
© Morgan Tonkin 2018