“You hardly stop once you get going with questions …” Mattis chuckled, but his expression was serious. Would he try to brush me off again?
Apparently yes, as he didn’t say anything.
“Don’t you see how stupid I feel, running around with you and everybody goes ‘aha, Pix here, haha’ and ‘oh, the Judge? I’m going to piss my pants’, and I have no clue what they’re talking about?”
Mattis sighed. “Yeah, you’re right.” He looked into the distance.
“So, the long and short of it is …” Mattis took a deep breath as if diving into a murky pond. He looked about as thrilled, too. “I did something that displeased the Queen. Since I am a Warrior of Faeruna, she couldn’t sentence me to death. The warriors are a precious commodity. So instead she gave me … a new job, as you’d call it. She made me Judge of Silvermeadow. It’s the only place in Faerie comparable to one of your cities. It isn’t allied to one of the Courts. Absolute freedom — and absolute chaos.”
“And the Judge upholds the peace?”
Mattis grinned. A vicious glitter had crept into his eyes. “The Judge’s ruling is indisputable. So every fae with a shady agenda has one goal once a new Judge is appointed: to kill him as quickly as possible. Because when he is dead, it might be a few decades before the next Judge is appointed.”
I gulped. “So what’s the average life expectancy of a Judge of that city?” It might not be so bad — we were talking about immortal fae, after all.
“One year. The Queen sent me to Silvermeadow to die.”
(from “Hedge Games“, Chapter 26)
One day, Mattis – oh, sorry: Mattis, Lightdefender, son of Dagani and Tyla, Judge of Silvermeadow, a Warrior of Faeruna – just stepped into my head.
While I wrote the story he and Alanna told me (which eventually turned into “Hedge Games“), I kept nibbling on that job description Mattis had so casually thrown out there. “A Warrior of Faeruna”. What the heck were they? Apparently precious enough that even if they pissed off an elven queen they were only banished … And who’s that Faeruna chick anyway? A goddess, perhaps?
Some months later, I was writing a fantasy short story together with a friend. And up popped another Warrior of Faeruna – Harcos Sunblade. (Harcos is Hungarian for knight.) Where Mattis lives in our times, an elf faced with urban cityscapes, Harcos lives in a medieval fantasy setting. When we first meet both men/elves, there is something sad and dark at the core of both characters, connected to their “job” as Warriors of Faeruna.
These warriors are chosen (nobody knows yet how, some say by the Goddess Faeruna) while they’re still in the womb. As children, their parents have to give them up, to be raised together, trained to be the fighting machines they are.
Each warrior has at least one special talent, often more than one. Harcos is a shapechanger (man and hound of the Wild Hunt), Mattis can switch between what he calls “dark form” and “light form”. What that is exactly, you can find out in autumn in the sequel to “Hedge Games“. ;-)
When a Warrior of Faeruna is fully trained, one of the Courts of Faerie claims him or her. They are that Court’s last line of defense. Originally, a Warrior served the Court he was born into — since the Goddess Faeruna obviously chose that court for him. Over time, this custom was changed and Courts exchanged their warrior for contracts with other courts. Since the Warrior belongs to the Queen of a Court she can deploy him wherever and however she sees fit.
As Harcos finds out when he protects his friends: disobey the Queen, and your life’s forfeit in Faerie. The short-story “Three Days of Christmas” finds Harcos after he fell in disgrace and the Queen sent the Wild Hunt after him. Because for a Queen, a rogue Warrior of Faeruna is the ultimate threat, even more so than the fear of a vrall-invasion.