You cock your head to one side, clearly confused. "I'm sorry--" you begin.
"You sorry? Like that makes it better." The man's features twist with an elaborate sneer. "You were never the brightest flitter, but you weren't stupid." You notice that he has something like a silver clam-shell on his hip.. and it takes you a moment to register that he's actually carrying a sword.
Feeling your anger rise, you clench your fists together and stamp your leg. You note, mutely, that you can't see your breath here, that it is warmer than it is beyond the thicket. You try to gauge just how mad this dandy is and whether you could make it to the edge of the clearing before he came at you.
"Ah, for Bottom's sake, Tam, what's become of you?"
At once, the world shimmers and darkens. A deep and heavy weight presses against your chest and your breath comes out in short, terrible spasms.
"Was it a woman again? Some ruddy-faced twat who wished you out of some long-forgotten well to keep her warm at night? Silly. They have space-heaters now, you know. "
The weight becomes a strangling as ice-water runs through your veins. Your heart threatens to explode and send stabs of fire across your back and down your arms.
You fall forward, nearly bashing your head against the boulder where the first mortal compact was signed...
At once, the dandy is at your side, one hand on your shoulder, the other on your arm. He smells of fresh jasmine and poppies, and the image of a large glade teeming with the red flowers in high summer pops into your mind The Summer Country?
"Oh, Lady." Danderel said. "You really don't remember a thing, do you?"
But you knew his name. He was important, somehow...