AN: I haven't forgotten about The Chosen & the Beloved. I promise.
This was written as a prompt for fabulous-clavicus-vile on tumblr, who requested China when she still worshiped the Faceless Ones.


They were here first.

China's a selfish person; she'd be the first to admit that. The world ending in fire and blood, mortals and sorcerers alike purged in one great glorious genocide — that's not for her. Mevolent, Serpine, Vengeous, they're just madmen looking for a reason to wreak their revenge upon a world that's wronged them. No, China does not worship the Faceless Ones because she wants to see them torment her enemies; she'd much rather do that herself. She does not worship them because she yearns for a place of power at the Dark Gods' side; she's powerful enough as it is.

China wants to help bring the Faceless Ones back because they were here first, because she knows what it is to be wronged, what it feels like to have something that is rightfully hers snatched away, the same way the Ancients came along and snatched old Éiriu away from the Faceless Ones and claimed it in the name of "good".

As if "good" and "evil" matter to the Faceless Ones anyways. Not all Faceless Ones were evil, just as not all Ancients were good. China ponders the goddess she likes to think of as her patron: all red of lips and black of hair and glossy of wing and talon. The Phantom Queen, they called her: a woman in three, a Maiden, a Mother, a Crone; she was love and passion, rage and betrayal, bloodlust and death. She was the corpse on the battlefield, and the ravens that ate it away before it could rot and poison the earth. Love and death. Passion and betrayal.

The Phantom Queen is the only one to whom China will ever pray. She prays to Her when she finds out the man she loves has borne a daughter to another, and she prays to Her the night she goes to Nefarian Serpine and whispers two names into his ear.


Further notes: The title is taken from the text of the Cath Maige Tuired, as follows:

'Os tusa, a Morrighan,' ol Lug, 'caide do [cumong isin cath]?'
'Ni anse,' ol si; 'ar-rosisor dosifius, dosselladh arrosel[us], ar-rosdibu nosriast[ar]'.

This translates roughly to,

'And you, Morrígan,' said Lug, 'what power [will you wield in this battle]?'
'Not hard to say,' said she; 'I shall pursue what was watched, I will be able to kill, I will destroy those who might be subdued'.

The original text is here, if someone actually speaks old Gaeilge and wants to provide a better translation: http://www.ucc.ie/celt/online/G300011.html
The translations I used, from the same site, are here: http:
//www.ucc.ie/celt/online/T300011.html -and- http://www.ucc.ie/celt/online/T300010.html

If you're particularly fond of Irish mythology, it may already be quite obvious why I chose this particular exchange as the source of my title; if you are not, or if you have not given much thought to the background mythology of the Skulduggery Pleasant series, I suggest you read up on the Cath Maige Tuired (Anglicized as 'Moytura') - the second battle, not the first - and the other exploits of the hero named Lugh. Pay special attention to his spear, either Areadbhair or sometimes Luin - it's a spear only he can wield, and has a tendency to utterly destroy its victims' bodies. It may or may not also be the Gae Bolg, the spear of Cuchulainn and another weapon that only its owner could wield.
Oddly enough, Cuchulainn just so happens to be a descendant of Lugh.

Food for thought.