Over and over again, growing increasingly hostile as he went, he blackened the earth, drawing with the magnet of his rage the storm of the bloody century to my demesne. Worms screamed in anguish as they burned. Moles, disturbed from slumber, whimpered once then crumbled to ash. I suffered the soft implosion of larvae not yet formed enough to rue the beauty they were losing; subterranean life in all its dark, earthy grandeur. The occasional burrowing snake hissed defiance as it was seared to death. Sean O’Bannion walks—the earth turns black, barren, and everything in it dies, a dozen feet down. Hell of a princely power. Again, what the fuck was the Unseelie king thinking? Was he? Incensed by failure, Sean insisted hotly, as we stood in the bloody deluge—it wasn’t raining, that scarce-restrained ocean that parked itself above Ireland at the dawn of time and proceeded to leak incessantly, lured by the siren-song of Sean’s broodiness decamped to Scotland and split wide open—that I was either lying or it didn’t work the same for each prince. Patiently (okay, downright pissily, but, for fuck’s sake, I could be having sex again and gave that up to help him), I explained it did work the same for each of us but, because he wasn’t druid-trained, it might take time for him to understand how to tap into it. Like learning to meditate. Such focus doesn’t come easy, nor does it come all at once. Practice is key. He refused to believe me. He stormed thunderously and soddenly off, great ebon wings dripping rivers of water, lightning bolts biting into the earth at his heels, Kat trailing sadly at a safe distance behind. I was raised from birth to be in harmony with the natural world. Humans are the unnatural part of it. Animals lack the passel of idiotic emotions we suffer. I’ve never seen an animal feel sorry for itself. While other children played indoors with games or toys, my da led me deep into the forest and taught me to become part of the infinite web of beating hearts that fill the universe, from the birds in the trees to the insects buzzing about my head, to the fox chasing her cubs up a hillside and into a cool, splashing stream, to the earthworms tunneling blissfully through the vibrant soil. By the age of five, it was hard for me to understand anyone who didn’t feel such things as a part of everyday life. As I matured, when a great horned owl perched nightly in a tree beyond my window, Uncle Dageus taught me to cast myself within it (gently, never usurping) to peer out from its eyes. Life was everywhere, and it was beautiful. Animals, unlike humans, can’t lie. We humans are pros at it, especially when it comes to lying to ourselves.