A Concise History of Titiania’s Castle

Ashleigh Rowan

It all started well before short-lived humans were around to set things down on parchment. Through no fault of her own – family politics, it was – Titania was sent away from her home in Tir-na-nOg. She was hardly more than a slip of a girl and her mother had some trouble finding someone to take the child on. As it happened, Titania’s foster mother, whose name was Aisha, was a widow woman with a son, nearly a man. Magus was his name, and he and his mother were from the desert country, where folk have strange ways. They settled in the specific place the Morrigan had directed them in the Mundane world, in what is now called England. Titania’s mother, who was called the Morrigan, would from time to time visit her daughter in secret, always bringing her rich gifts, and none could tell how she came or went. Aisha was well compensated and the three of them lacked for nothing.
Magus had much in the way of magical talent, but sadly, no mentor in the Mundane world. All his life, he searched for the source of magic. As the years passed, his experiments caused circles of standing stones, strange beasts that were part lion and part eagle, and fire-breathing winged lizards. Titania grew into a beautiful young woman, and had not escaped the notice of mortal men. The Morrigan, fearing that her daughter might be despoiled before a suitable marriage could be arranged, changed her into a raven and brought Titania back to the land of Faery. She hid the young woman in the stables of an ancient castle, which had stood empty for as far back as any living could remember. It was enchanted such that none could enter the stronghold, but the outbuilding had no such charm. Such was the Morrigan’s desire for secrecy that she shared her plan with no one, not even Aisha and Magus.
Now when Aisha discovered that Titania was missing, she ran to Magus’ workshop, where she found him sitting on his bench. In his hand, he held a black sphere. It was the size of a glass marble, and yet ten strong mortal men would not have been able to lift it. When his mother came crashing through his doors, shouting and wailing, he was so taken aback that he dropped the sphere. It broke through the floor and fell away into the Earth, thundering as it went. Magus peered into the hole, and saw a strange light emanating from it. Gobsmacked, his mother forgot about Titania as she, too, peered into the hole.
Magus quickly tied a rope around his middle and made the other end fast to an iron ring set in the wall. His mother, surmising his plan, cried out to stop him, but to no avail. Into the hole he dropped and found himself in the land of Faery. When he saw firm ground, he quickly rolled aside before he was pulled further down the hole that receded into the dark Earth. He saw a plain and a wildwood, but little else. He untied the rope and set off to ascertain the lay of the land.
The place felt familiar to him, yet he recognized no landmarks. He found a stream and a small waterfall in the forest. He headed southeast, certain he should come upon a rocky escarpment with desert on the other side of it. After a time, he found the scarp and returned to the point he had entered. He knew he was near the spot that a curious ancient castle had stood when he had lived in Faery. There were no signs of its foundations, so he guessed that it had either been razed to the ground and all the stones carried away, or it was yet to be built. He carved his secret symbol at the feet of several saplings at the edge of the wildwood. Then he re-tied the rope and went back up the tunnel.
Aisha flung her arms around his neck as soon as she saw him, for she had begun to fear she had been deprived of both her son and foster daughter. Magus has spent the better part of a day exploring, and yet to his mother it seemed he had been gone less than three quarters of an hour. He recounted his adventure and she told him of Titania’s disappearance. He tore at his hair in grief and bade his mother to stay at the house, should Titania return, while he went to seek the help of the Morrigan. For speed, he changed himself into a crow and sought her first in Tir-na-nOg, but her handmaiden told him she was away, attending to a family matter, but would not say wither she had journeyed.
Magus had a suspicion where she might be and, in the form of a crow, flew to the area he had explored only just this morning. There was the castle, and when he checked the wood, he found two ancient trees bearing his mark high on their trunks. He flew to the castle and perched on a parapet, considering this hole in space and time, until he spied the Morrigan slipping out of one of the stable doors. She looked up, and in spite of his disguise, she knew him. She called to him and he was compelled to come to her, changing into his true form. She handed him a satchel and bade him take it to his mother, and convey the Morrigan’s thanks for her service. Then she bound his eyes and took his hand to lead him. When the blindfold was removed, he found himself behind his own workshop, alone. He went into his mother’s house and told his tale. She was sore aggrieved and took to her room.
Unable to sleep, Magus took himself to his workshop, where he found the door opened and strange footprints upon the floor. A spire of black rock descended into the hole and Magus followed it. He found that in this olden version of Faery, it was dusk. To his horror, creatures most ugglesome were climbing out from the hole in the ground of Faery and some were even capering about in the meadow. They seemed to him to be as reptiles that walked on two legs and he challenged them. One came forward and he beseeched Magus for mercy and offered the allegiance of his people. After treating with the creature, whose name was Gugōl, Magus accepted an invitation to visit the world of these strangers. Translated, the name of this place is Everdark. He climbed down the black spire into the gloom.
The Everdark was the most fearsome and wondrous place Magus had yet seen. Pinpricks of light from far distant stars and ghastly glowing fungi were the only illumination. Rocks floated and collided in the air with direful groans and water ran uphill. Nothing seemed to work as he expected, or by any rule that he could discover, and glad he was to set his feet back in Faery.
No sooner had Magus returned from the Everdark, but he heard a terrible screaming and wailing. One of the creatures was clambering down from the Mundane world, dragging Aisha by the hair. Anger flashed from his eyes in the form of lightning bolts, striking the monster dead. Magus caught his mother before she could tumble into the Everdark. He cast as many of the foul creatures as he could catch back into the hole and covered it with a boulder. Cunning Gugōl was not among the captured. As penance, an onus was laid on Magus and all his kin to pursue the people of Gugōl as long as they should trouble the realms of Faery and the Mundane.
Now, as Magus’ foster sister, Titania was also under this onus. With the help of the Morrigan, a great castle was erected and the fireplace in the main hall covered the hole that lead to the Everdark. An enchantment was cast upon it so that only Magus could enter and return; for all others, the way back to Faery was shut. Aisha, Magus, his cousin Oberon, and Titania stayed in the past realm of Faery and trained at the castle. They hunted Gugōl’s foul people, then cast them into the great fireplace and back into the Everdark. After a year and a day, there was a terrible shaking and trembling of the land. It seemed to be centered upon the fireplace, so Magus again tied a rope around himself and fixed it fast to the hearthstone before leaping into the hole. And well he did, for the Everdark was gone. In its place, the end of the tunnel bucked like a wild horse and waved to and fro as a pennant in a strong wind. It took all his strength and magic to pull himself back up the rope to safety.
For a fortnight, Aisha, Magus, Titania and Oberon searched high and low, but all of the folk of the Everdark seemed to be routed from Faery. So they magically sealed up the castle and inside it Fragarach, the famous sword of Lugh, which could rend any armor, and they returned to their own time.
In his fervor to rid Faery of the people of Gugōl, which are now called demons, Magus forgot about the ones that had made their way to the Mundane world. They had been multiplying for a thousand years while he was gone. The castle, now ancient, was unsealed and Titania and Oberon married and made their home there. They gathered magical horses and equipment and Magus trained warriors and mages to enter the Mundane world and capture demons. And so it went until Magus and Titania were both slain and Oberon died of grief. But their descendants carry on their mission to this very day.