R6 Festuscato: 4 Clugh, part 1 of 3

The sun came up over the sea to reveal a sail angling to cut them off.  Festuscato squinted, but Captain Breok recognized the ship right away.  “Our Pictish friends,” he said, and sighed, and set about getting the sail down and running his crew through their litany of please don’t kill me.

Patrick came up with a word.  “I noticed last time you asked Mousden for the small bag. I would guess Captain Keravear decided there must also be a big bag somewhere.”

“They were probably waiting just out from the docks at the Inver-dea.  Probably saw us pull into port and thought to try their luck on our way back out to sea,” Treeve suggested.

“But they had no way of knowing we would be on board again,” Gaius countered.

“True,” Treeve responded.  “But it was worth a shot, and if you were not on board, there would probably be a cargo worth something; and Captain Breok has his crew so well trained to cower and not resist.”

“They probably also decided that your water sprites did not really pose a danger,” Patrick added.  “I mean, what can a blob of water really do to hurt them?”

“Give them a bath, I bet,” Gaius said, as Bran and Dibs walked up.

“What’s the plan?” Dibs asked, not that he expected an answer.

“Doctor Who,” Festuscato said.  “I make it up as I go along.”

It took an hour for the Pictish ship to come along side and tie up.  It looked the same as last time, with Captain Breok and his crew in the bow showing the epitome of respect and abject cooperation, and Festuscato and his people in the stern, lined up like a group awaiting a family photo.

“We talked about it,” Captain Keravear started right in.  “Seeing all those water waves up on the deck was a bit of a shock, I admit, like seeing your pointy-eared woman and that demon, but then we talked about it. Maybe you are the Dragon and maybe you are not, but we figure there are only three of you and lots more of us. So the way we figured it, you should give us the rest of whatever gold and coins you have and we will be on our way.”

“Captain,” Festuscato’s words were sharp.  “You have already been paid for your trouble and I am not in the habit of paying for the same service twice.  There may only be three of us that you can see.  I won’t say how many more may be waiting in the cabins and below deck.  You know I have at least one elf who is quite capable of going unseen among humans. You also know the elf answers to me. Do you really want to know how many more may be on board?”

The Captain paused.  Apparently, these were things he had not considered.  There could easily be others in the cabins and below deck hidden and waiting to come when called.  At least one of the Picts took the thought of invisible elves seriously. He jumped when the wind picked up and shifted his hair around.

Then the wave came, and like the last time, everyone had to splay their hands and feet to keep from falling down.  This time, the deck not only got covered with water sprites, but they came with a person.  He looked tall, lean, and naked but for the seaweed that clung to him. His gray skin appeared the color of cold steel, and his eyes glowed like the furnace.  Pict and Cornish sailors alike shrieked and turned away.  Some fell to their knees, covered their eyes and trembled.  The Pictish Captain dropped his jaw and bugged out his eyes but otherwise appeared frozen in place.

Festuscato’s crew remained more composed, though Mirowen and Mousden dropped their eyes as a sign of respect.  Patrick showed no surprise when this sea-monster of a man came right up to Festuscato and dropped to one knee.  He was slightly surprised by the one word the monster said.

“Mother.”

“How did you figure it out?” Festuscato asked.

“Really?” the man-monster responded.  “You have been broadcasting who you are from Rome to Britannia, and really since you took a governess.”

“Mannanon,” Captain Keravear exhaled the name of his supposed protector while Festuscato tapped his foot.  With a glance at Patrick, Festuscato went away and let Danna, the mother goddess of the Celts come and stand in his place.  She stepped up and bent down to kiss the man-monster on the head while she spoke and helped him to his feet.

“You bad boy.  When are you going over to the other side?  You are late, you know.”

“Soon,” Mannanon said with a grin, and an appearance that suddenly did not look so monster-like.

“Well, this is your lucky day.  This is Captain Keravear.  I believe you have met, and I have already paid him for his trouble and I will not be paying him twice.  Will you please take him and his crew and their ship back to the Caledonian shores where they will be too far away to cause us any more trouble.  I have these holy men to deliver to the Irish.”

“Yes,” Mannanon said, with a glance at the Priests. “The new way.”

“And it is a good way, and why you should not be here,” Danna insisted, as she turned Mannanon away from the clerics and toward the Picts.  “Now, please take out the garbage, only don’t hurt them.”

Danna appeared very tall for a woman, but Mannanon stood a good bit taller, like a basketball player, but with the slim build of an Olympic swimmer.  He leaned over and kissed Danna on the cheek.  “Kind heart,” he said, and smiled a sort of Bran smile, and vanished along with Captain Keravear and his whole crew and ship.  Danna traded places with Festuscato right away so he could deal with the questions.

Captain Breok wasted no time.  “Get the sail back up.  Colan, get aloft to see if there are any more sails on the horizon.  Treeve, go get Gerens out of the hold.  Tell him it is all over so it is safe to come back out.”

Festuscato stepped up to his spot on the railing where he could keep out of the way.  Mirowen took Mousden to the cabin.  Bran and Dibs helped lower the rudder.  Only Patrick and Gaius came up with a question or two.

“Who was that?” Gaius asked.

“An old Celtic sea god, and a bad boy who does not belong here,” Festuscato answered.

“The new way has come,” Patrick understood.

“And the old way needs to be gone,” Festuscato agreed.

“And the other side?” Patrick asked.

“Death,” Festuscato answered.  “As near to death as a god can get.  He needs to give up his flesh and blood and become the pure spirit he is, the true force of nature he is without eyes and ears or any senses in this world.”

“And who was that woman?” Gaius asked.

“The mother goddess of all the Celts, and another one who does not belong here,” Festuscato said and sighed.  “I lived her life eons ago.  Before Christ, nature bore witness to the truth, but now the old ways need to be gone.”

They stood in silence for a time before Patrick asked one more question.  “Were you there?”

Festuscato nodded as if he anticipated the question. “When he was born and when he was crucified, but those stories have not been told.  Someday.”  Festuscato quieted, and Patrick looked again at the sea.

“I will pray for you,” Patrick said.

“Good,” Festuscato responded.  “I need all the prayer I can get.”

###

Captain Breok took them to a port that straddled the land between Leinster and Ulster.  The Lord there, a man named MacNeill, had no love for the King of Leinster, and at the same time, he had not been in a place to be pestered by Palladius so the gospel might receive a fresh start.  Patrick got excited and said surely this is the place, but when they docked, they found a reception committee.  MacNeill had his two roughs with him, Murtagh and Cormac, and behind him were three clerics, the survivors of the work of Palladius, Teigh, Aon, and Seamus.

“Come,” MacNeill said with a big grin.  “I have set the barn for you to hold services after your fashion.  Fathers Teigh and Aon and their wives have made the bread and gathered the wine and the women and children are gathering there.”

Patrick did not know what to say.  He hardly knew where to begin with married priests and church in a stable.  Mirowen nudged him.  “I asked my Uncle Macreedy to let them know we were coming,” she said.

“Is everyone in your family named Macreedy?” Festuscato pulled Mirowen aside and asked, though he would know the answer if he thought about it.

“The males, mostly,” she responded quietly, as Patrick finally spoke.

“Thank you.”

Gaius turned to Festuscato.  “The Bishop will take it from here,” he said to suggest Festuscato back up.

“It is all yours.”  Festuscato smiled, hoped things would work out this time, and he took Dibs and Bran to speak a moment to Captain Breok.  Eventually, they would need passage back to Britannia, but for now they headed to the nearest tavern, and Treeve and Colan followed.  MacNeill and his roughs also followed them, but from a distance, so Festuscato thought to stop and let them catch up.

R6 Festuscato: 3 Leinster, part 2 of 3

Everyone ran to the railing to look.  “Picts,” the Captain described their visitors.  “And their ship is much faster than ours and more heavily armed.”

“What will they do?” Gaius asked what jumped into everyone’s minds.

“Probably get mad that we don’t have any cargo to steal. The Picts generally just steal the cargo and let the ship go.  The Irish would steal the cargo and take any young ones for slaves.  the Saxons would steal the cargo and kill everybody, and then sink the ship.  I suppose the Picts aren’t so bad when you think about it.”

“No telling what they will do when they don’t find any cargo,” Treeve repeated the first thought as the captain got the crew to take down the sail and practice begging for their lives.  Festuscato dressed his people up at the stern, in front of the rudder, like they were preparing for a family photo.  By the time they were ready and quiet, the Picts were alongside and coming on board.

Captain Breok profusely apologized for the lack of a worthwhile cargo but suggested they were carrying some rich passengers whom the Picts were welcome to rob.  He did not exactly betray them, just accommodating to the circumstances. The Pictish captain stepped up to look Festuscato in the eye.  The Pict wore a leather jerkin studded with bronze circles that looked like rivets. He had a long sword at his side and no doubt had various other sharp things hidden around his person.

“And you are?”  Festuscato spoke first, his voice calm and clear.

“Captain Keravear,” the man said.  “And you?”  He grinned.

Festuscato reached out and shook the man’s hand before the man could react.  “Festuscato Cassius Agitus, an ordinary mortal human who will grow old and die like any other human.”  Captain Keravear grinned again, but did not know how to take that.  He glanced back at the half dozen men who were one step behind him, and the men with their knives drawn who were holding Captain Breok’s crew.

The Captain put on his mean face and spouted. “Whether you grow old or not remains to be seen.”

Festuscato looked down at himself and looked embarrassed. “Oh, but I see I haven’t properly dressed.”  He called out for his armor, and it fit him perfectly, Wyrd his sword and Defender his long knife fitted to his back, and overall, he wore the tunic that sported the dragon.  “Some have called me the dragon, but I really hope Constantine will own that name.” Several of Captain Keravear’s men took a step back on seeing the change, and the rest stepped back because they heard stories of the Dragon of Britain.  “Now, if you don’t mind,” Festuscato borrowed Gerraint’s thought. “I have pledged to take these holy men safely to the Irish shore and I don’t appreciate the interruption.”

Captain Keravear smiled again in an attempt to regain the upper hand. “Then give me all your money and your gold and we will let you go on your way.  Oh, but I think I will take your woman as well.”

“Not even if Hell froze over,” Festuscato responded and lifted his arm.  The glamour that covered Mirowen fell away and her true elf form looked unmistakable, complete with her cute pointed ears.  Mousden also reverted to his pixie form just in time for Mirowen to put him in Gaius’ arms.  She pulled a bow and arrows from her usual nowhere.  Dibs and Bran meanwhile slipped into their own dragon tunics and drew their swords.  This time Captain Keravear took one step back.  He had to think if it would be worth it.  He had no doubt at least some of his men would die, and given the reputation of the dragon, he was not sure if all of his men might die.

“Gentlemen,” Patrick stepped up and waved his hands like a referee calling for a time out.  “Surely this can be settled without the need for bloodshed.”

“That remains to be seen,” Festuscato turned his head and Captain Keravear pulled a small knife.  Before he got it all the way out from his Jerkin, Festuscato had Defender at his throat, and without missing a beat.  “We will see if Captain Keravear has a brain or not.”  He turned to the Captain and spoke again.  “This ship is under God’s almighty hand.  You need to leave before you get yourself in eternal trouble.”

“Which god are your speaking of?” Captain Keravear said and took another step back to get away from the blade at his throat. “I met Mannanon the sea god, one dark and stormy night by his isle of Man.  He guided us to a safe harbor until the storm passed, and I like to think of him as our protector.”

Festuscato kept a straight face when he spoke.  “It was a dark and stormy night.  He is a good son who does good for people now and then. But I was speaking of Mannanon’s God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

“Don’t start stealing Patrick’s lines,” Gaius whispered from behind.

“We aren’t in Ireland yet,” Festuscato responded with more volume.

Patrick would have stepped between the two men, but Festuscato held his arm out and would not let him.  Still, he spoke.  “What would it take to satisfy things so you leave us in peace?”

“All your money and gold.  I’ll forego the woman.”

“Kind of you,” Festuscato shook his head as a great wave struck the ship and everyone had to spread their arms and legs to keep from falling over.  The wave splashed up on both sides of the ship and formed into several hundred little blobs of gelatin looking creatures with heads, arms and legs, about a foot tall each, with mean looks on their faces, if cute little gingerbread men-like blobs could be said to have mean faces.

“Lord Steran,” Festuscato called.  He knew who it was, the king of the water sprites of the Irish sea.  “Please refrain from drowning these people.  We are trying to work out an equitable arrangement.”

“Lord.”  The water sprite offered Festuscato a regal bow and spoke in the cutest baby voice while Mousden clapped his hands and let out an excited shout.

“Water babies.”

“Mousden,” Festuscato called.  “Bring the little bag.”

“Lord?”  Mousden used the term Mirowen used and now Steran confirmed, though he knew well enough that it was the right term.  He brought the bag and hovered while Festuscato counted out fifteen pieces of gold. “Fifteen pieces!”  Mousden felt more concerned with missing the gold than he felt with the pirates.  He screamed once in the face of the pirates, but the loss of the coins made him want to howl.

“Fifteen pieces of gold for your trouble,” Festuscato said.  “But I suggest you be on your way or I cannot guarantee your safety.”

Captain Keravear ran out of arguments and knew when his luck was done.  Most of his men had deserted his back and were already on their ship.  The Picts wasted no time casting off, and soon enough would dip below the horizon.

“Thank you Lord Steran,” Festuscato said, and could not help the smile as Steran offered a wave not unlike a salute, and he and his people jumped back over the side to blend into the sea.

“Bye.  Bye,” many of the water babies said, and more than one hardened sailor returned a wave and a sweet goodbye before they went back to work getting the sail up and the ship underway.

Festuscato turned and scolded Patrick.  “What did you think you were doing?  You need to let me do my job without interference.”

“What is your job?” he shot back.

“To deliver you in one piece.”  Festuscato swallowed much of what he wanted to say before he deflected the question about his job.  “If pirates think they have the upper hand, you are dead.  You don’t bargain with pirates.”

Mousden shrieked.  “I’ll say.  You didn’t bargain at all.  You just handed them fifteen pieces of gold.  Fifteen!”

Festuscato and Patrick looked at the young man hovering beside them.  Festuscato laughed.  “It’s only money,” he said.  Patrick just nodded and laughed.

###

The ship pulled into the docks at Wicklow and Captain Breok wished them all well. “Leinster is as fair a trading partner as you can find among the Irish,” he told them.  They all thanked the captain for the journey, but then Festuscato took the man and his mate, Treeve aside.  They would be picking up some lumber, mostly pine in Lyoness, and be back in two weeks to ten days, depending on the weather.

“You are not going with them?” Patrick asked, having discerned that something was happening.

“No,” Festuscato admitted.  “But I have arranged for passage, and meanwhile I promise to get out of your way.”

They found some Christians in the port and Patrick wasted no time bringing them together and sharing the gospel.  He held Mass in a grove by the river every morning and spent every afternoon teaching about the people of God and the life of Christ. He invited his few disciples, the remnants of the work of Palladius, to bring in their family and friends, but found few converts.  Most of the people resisted his message.

Festuscato, Dibs and Bran stayed the next ten days in a tavern by the port.  Gaius spent most of his time with Patrick and occasionally Bran joined him; less often Dibs. Festuscato, good to his word, stayed out of it.  He paced and drank and ate enough for three people, but he kept his mouth closed.

Mirowen and Mousden went out into the wilderness on the first day and stayed gone that whole time.  Mirowen said she went looking for family, elves related to the clan of Macreedy, though the clan originally came from further north, from Ulster. Festuscato recalled that Mirowen was in fact an elf Princess, and her father Macreedy had been a king among the elves.  Mousden said he did not want to be left alone with so many clunky humans, so they disappeared, and Festuscato would have been very bored if he did not find a couple of young women to keep him in the night.  Keela, a tall and slim Celt, inspired him to bad poetry.  Aideen was a short, buxom redhead who Festuscato called little fire.

“She squeals,” Festuscato said.  “Like when the hot iron is doused in the cool water.”

“I’ve heard,” Dibs responded and knocked on the thin wall.  “And I don’t want to hear about it.”

After ten days, Festuscato began to worry that his ship might not return.  That felt troublesome, because a dozen rough men, soldiers to look at them, came riding into town under orders from the King of Leinster, the self-styled King of all Ireland.  They said they had enough of this Christian business with Palladius.  To their credit, they first listened, and one of them remarked it was hard to believe it was the same message.  Patrick taught about the love of God, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  Palladius had put much more emphasis on hellfire and brimstone.

At that same time, Festuscato went looking for Keela. He had ruined another potential poem, so he imagined she might be out back by the cooking fire, ruining another roast.  That would have only been fair.  She was a beauty, but she could not cook any better than Greta.  He found her cauldron bubbling over the fire and her cooking utensils laid out on a table next to the fire.  He found baskets full of herbs and spices, but no Keela.  He started rubbing his chin when he heard her off in the bushes, screaming.

Charmed: Part 11 of 11, A Disney-Like Halloween Story (Without the Singing)

Chapter 11 Afterword

Elizabeth went home at ten o’clock and hugged her mom and dad, not without a few tears, and went straight to bed because she had a long, exhausting night. Jessica met Jake’s mom and dad, who decided Jake was growing up and needed some time to enjoy his last couple of years of high school. They vowed to work on their own schedules so Jake would not have to always be saddled with his little sister. Jake said he did not mind, but that made his mom just say, “See?”hween bonfire 2

Mary, the witch, cast a little spell so when the kids woke up in the morning they would remember having a wonderful time, but the details would be fuzzy. This turned out to be a good thing, because Mike the nerd spent most of the night talking to Jack-o-lantern, wondering if it was made in Japan, and curious about how it worked. He said the programming almost made it sound like it knew what it was talking about, and he marveled at how they got the words and the mouth to work together so well.

Blockhead spent the night trying to explain football to Big Tooth, who understood the game, but enjoyed stringing the kid along. Serena, on the other hand, marveled at the goblin costumes, which is what she hween dancing 1thought they were.

“Second best costumes I’ve seen in my life.”

“Second best?” Marrow was offended until Serena explained. The Italian dance troop with the naturally hairy legs dressing up as fauns was shear genius, and Marrow agreed.

Thomas “Tommy” Kincaid Junior spent the night trying to impress Sage with his money, his car and his presence, that is, whenever he caught Sage in her big form. That was most of the time because Cinnamon insisted the girls not take their fairy form in front of people. Cinnamon took it upon herself to make glamours to disguise as many of the spirits, people and creatures as she could. They did not really object because they knew they were not supposed to be parading about on Earth in the open like they were. Sage rewarded Tommy at the end of the night with a little kiss on the lips. The poor fellow took a long time to get over that.

hween dancing 2

In all, it was a good night and people did not seriously begin to leave until just before sunrise. Cinnamon had to make the portal because Mary Procter and Greely Putterwig were fast asleep in their chairs on the porch, and snoring. Jake walked Jessica home.

hween kiss“What are you thinking?” Jessica asked when she turned into his arms for a good night kiss.

“I’m a guy. What do you think I am thinking?”

“Oh.” Jessica thought for a moment before she said, “OH. Let’s not go there yet.”

Jake shrugged. “I was wondering how the Pirates and Indians are making out.”

Jessica smiled. “See you in school.” She ran to her front door.

ihween pirated v indians 1

In fact, the Pirates and Indians were tied in the top of the third, nothing to nothing. They had been playing baseball, one night per year for almost a hundred years, and only reached the top of the third inning. But the Pirates had a man on first, and John ‘the Butcher’ Roberts was at bat.

hween graveyardThe bat boy found a skeleton head on the ground. He jammed it into a complete skeleton and pointed. “Look, a double header,” which proved conclusively that a sense of humor is not improved by death.

The Indian pitcher palmed the skeleton head they were using for a ball. He sent in a literal screaming fastball. The Butcher backed away, and Pusshead, the home plate umpire called it a ball.

“What?” The Indian catcher protested. “It went right over the edge of the plate. You must be blind.”

“Not blind,” the skeleton head ball said. “He’s an ogre, you know, a moron.”hween pirate 2

The pirate on first could not help himself. While they argued, he tried to steal second He slid head first, but his body stopped about ten feet shy of the grave they were using for second base. His hands, however, finished the journey, and as the Indian shortstop went to tag the runner, the hands squirted under the tag. The pirate got up grinning and ambled up to catch up to his hands. The occupant of the second base grave stuck his head out of the dirt.

”Safe,” he said.hween indian tomahawk

The Indian shortstop got so angry, he took out his tomahawk and split the hween pirate 3skull of the second base umpire. This, of course, resulted in a bench clearing brawl in the infield which is why, after a hundred years, the teams had yet to make it past the third inning.

END

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If you missed all or part of Charmed, please click on the archives and click on October 2015.  Charmed is the only posting in October, and you are welcome to read as you wish.  It is free.

Meanwhile, tomorrow I will have a treat, or a trick … for Halloween, you know, Jack-o-lanterns by the front door and all hween porch 1

hween jack2

hween jack 1hween Jack 3

hween big moon

Charmed: Part 5 of 11, A Disney-Like Halloween Story (Without the Singing)

Chapter 5

When Jake and Jessica got to the walkway outside the old growth forest, they were at a complete loss. They lost all footprints and indication of direction they got when they entered the leaf strewn forest. Now they saw two equal options on a rugged path lined by a six foot wall.

Cinnamon fluttered, hovered and turned her head to look one way and then the other.

Jake looked at the wall and wondered what was behind it.

Jessica was still wondering how goblins could be so scary and so hilarious at the same time. Clowns,hween wal 1 she supposed. She knew some people were afraid of clowns.

“Wait here,” Cinnamon said. “I have to check to find the right way. Oh, and don’t go over the wall.” She flew off, almost faster than their eyes could follow; certainly faster than they could frame a question.

“I was wondering, what’s with the wall. Is it there to keep people out or keep something in?” After the goblins, he could not help the spooky voice.

Jessica shook her head. “After what we have seen this night, I don’t think any teenage spooky voice will ever scare me again.”

“So what is over there?” Jake walked a little way down the path. “Hey, it looks like a gate. Cool.” He was looking through the bars of the gate.

“What?” Jessica went reluctantly. “Cinnamon said don’t go in there.”

“No, she said don’t climb over the wall.” He checked. The gate squeaked, but it was not locked. “She didn’t say we can’t go through the gate.” He grabbed Jessica’s hand and pulled her in. “Cool,” he said again.

hween wall gate“It’s a graveyard.” Jessica resisted.

“But who could be buried here? Aren’t you at all curious?”

“Not really,” Jessica said, but she followed him in about three rows. The names seemed normal enough, but Jake took her hand again and ran her up a path to the top of a small rise. From there, they looked out over a cemetery that seemed endless.

“Woah.” Jake mouthed the word. “Who are all these people.” The graves continued, easily seen under a bright, harvest moon, until it became a gray line in the distance and finally turned black on the horizon.

“I don’t like this,” Jessica said, and she tugged to go back.

“Look.” Jake noticed something three graves in. It was a cutlass, and not entirely rusted as he expected. He picked it up and turned to show Jessica when there was a rumbling at his feet.

“John the Butcher Roberts” Jessica read the headstone before she grabbed on to Jake to steady hween pirate 1herself. It felt like a miniature earthquake. Then a head popped up from the grave, a dead head, definitely a pirate, and he saw the cutlass.

“Ah, ha. So that’s where I left it. Hand it here, mate, and I’ll kill ya quick.”

Jake and Jessica ran. There were pirates rising in every direction, and the gate was cut off by zombies. They tried for the wall, but there were skeletons dancing there. They started to weave around the headstones, but the pirates were waking up.

Jessica stumbled when the ground shook again beneath her feet. Jake tried to help her up, but fell beside her. Two gravestones rose up by their heads. One said, Jacob, Jake Simon. the other said Jessica Cobb. Jessica screamed as the ground beneath them began to open into great, six-foot holes. The only reprieve they got from the pirates was when they were distracted by the oncoming Mohawk war party. Then came their salvation. A great roar echoed from the gate.

“Supper!” A slimy, ugly ogre burst into the graveyard, drooling and ready to chow down on the dead. The skeletons and zombies guarding the gate all screamed and ran for their lives. One of the pirates pointed and hollered a warning.

hween skeletons 2“Avast ye swabs. It’s Pusshead.” The pirates and indians all scattered, and Pusshead roared right past the couple in pursuit.

Jake and Jessica helped each other out of their respective graves and ran for the gate. Jake held tight to the cutlass, not knowing when he might need it. Jessica cared about nothing but getting the wall between her and the zombies. She slammed the gate with a vengeance once they were out and huffing and puffing.

“That was really stupid,” Jessica said.

“Yeah,” Jake agreed. “But I got us a weapon.” He swung it a couple of times which prompted Jessica to holler.

“Watch it.”

Jake did not argue. He loosened his belt so he could slip the blade in by his side. Jessica watched, so neither saw the figure approach.

“Excuse me. Pardon me,” the man said. Jake and Jessica looked up, gasped, and took a step back. They saw a ghost, a real ghost. They could see through the man, though he seemed solid enough fromhween a thackery 1 the waist up, if translucent. From his knickers down he became more transparent until his feet were utterly invisible. Then again, he floated a couple of feet off the ground, so he might not need the feet.

“I am sorry to bother you, but have either of you seen my wife? Abigail Barrett by name. We were traveling by coach from Boston to Brattleboro where I was invited to practice law, when we were waylaid by robbers in the wilds of New Hampshire. Bullets were fired. My wife slumped into my shoulder, and I thought there was blood on her forehead. I leapt out to give the robbers what for, but the next thing I knew, I was lost in the forest and I can’t seem to find the coach.”

Jake was too stunned to talk, but Jessica felt enchanted by the story. “My name is Jessica Cobb, and this is Jake, Jacob Simon.”

“Of course, we haven’t been properly introduced. I am Thackery James Barrett, Esquire. Harvard, class of eighteen twelve. You seem like good New England stock. Surely I am near my destination.”

“I am sorry,” Jessica said. “I know the road to Brattleboro, but I don’t know how to get there from here.”

“Alas, I spoke to a young lady just a short time past. She was most polite, but could tell me nothing at all.”

hween a thackery 2“Elizabeth?” Jake raised his voice. “My sister.”

“Yes, I believe that was her name. The fellow she was with seemed most unsavory.”

“She was kidnapped. Do you know where she is?”

The ghost spun once around. “I am afraid I cannot say. These woods have me confused. Thus I have wandered for some time today. Do you know where the road to Brattleboro might be?”

“Thackery.” Jake and Jessica turned their heads at the sound of Cinnamon’s voice, but they saw a beautiful woman instead of the fairy. She looked perhaps to be in her mid to late twenties, dressed in a long, flowing, fitted gown, and walked slowly up the path.

“Most beautiful lady. Have we met before?”

“Indeed we have,” Cinnamon said, as Jake and Jessica realized the woman had to be Cinnamon hween big cinnamondespite the appearance. “And you must go in that direction until you find the pine trees. Then you will know you are close.”

“My thanks. I pray I may return your kindness some day,” the ghost said, and headed off into the woods.

“Cinnamon?” Jessica asked, to be sure. Jake just stared. The fairy appeared inhumanly beautiful in her big form, with a perfect tan on perfect skin, eyes that sparkled with life, and full lips that showed the slightest bit of a sly smile. In an instant, the woman vanished and the fairy came back, fluttering her wings to stay aloft.

“This is the right direction,” she said. “You went into the graveyard,” she pointed and scolded Jake. “Thackery probably did run into Eliza-BETH, but he has very limited memory retention. The only thing he is able to really remember is his last thoughts, his thoughts for wanting to find his wife, Abigail. Shall we go?”

Jake and Jessica did not know what to say, until Jessica whispered. “She does flit from subject to Hween Cinnamon 2subject. I bet she doesn’t dwell on things either.”

“I don’t,” Cinnamon heard. “It’s a fairy thing.” She settled again on Jessica’s shoulder, though Jessica felt a bit wary about having a full grown woman on her shoulder. Jake said nothing, still taken by that vision of loveliness. He would need a bit more time before his tongue unfroze.

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Charmed is either a very, very small book or a long story offered in eleven parts over this October, 2015, leading up to Halloween. The posts will be put up on the blog on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, October 5, 6 and 7; 12, 13, and 14; 19, 20, and 21; 26, 27, and an extra note on the 28th. If you miss a post, or want to go back to the beginning, they are easy enough to find. Just click on the archives and select October 2015. Charmed is the only posting for the month … So after the 28th, I say to you all, Happy Halloween, you know, clowns and zombies.

hween clown zombie

Avalon 3.8: part 5 of 5, Stories to Be Told

Nalishayas raised her voice. “Everyone. These are my friends. Treat them with respect, if you value your life, and leave their horses alone.”

“We already covered the horses,” Katie said.

“She told them they were poisonous,” Lockhart tattled.

“You lie like an elf,” Nalishayas said with a hearty laugh, and Boston looked up at the use of that old expression and laughed with her. Nalishayas winked at Boston. “Maybe I should say you lie like a pirate.”

“Pirate?” Lincoln asked.nal ship

“Welcome to the original pirate’s cove,” Nalishayas shouted. “We’re all pirates here.”

The crowd shouted their agreement, and Nalishayas pointed at a man. “Argh, me hearties,” the man said.

“But that was English,” Alexis pointed out.

“Some things don’t translate well,” Nalishayas admitted. “Some things do,” and she shouted, “Ale,” and again, the crowd shouted their agreement with that sentiment, and they all marched into town.

###

There was an inn in town, an oddity in a place that was super secret where no one came to visit, but Nalishayas said it could not be a real pirate town unless they built an inn, so they did. Nalishayas, it seemed, was something like an empress deluxe. Her whim was everyone’s command, and Lincoln suggested as long as she was successful in her piracy, that would not change. So they had an inn, and everyone got a bed, but they only stayed two days because the bed bugs were so bad.

“My story is simple,” Nallishayas said. The people of Akoshia, that is Crete for the geographers, and the Minoan homeland for the pseudo-historians, they are just starting to build the ships and establish the trade routes that will make them masters of the Mediterranean. Some are already rich beyond reason. But they are perverted in ways, morally, that give me the creeps. MeroVirias was a noble and rich merchant. One of the richest. And he decided he wanted to have me in his bed, whether as wife or concubine or to watch me love someone else or to have sex with his dog, I cannot say. My father said no. I was in love with a lovely young man. So Mero killed my young man and made his demand again. My father said no, so he took my family’s property and threw them on the streets. Then he offered a fortune, and my father still said no. So he killed my father, and mother, and brothers, and little sister and came to take me by force. So I killed him and ran away.”

Nal tavern“You killed him?” Katie asked, because Boston was staring at Roland and Nalishayas with googly eyes and Alexis could barely hear the story.

“Dern right. Big bloody mess all over his fancy, expensive carpet. Then Tethys, the goddess, queen of the sea came to me and helped me grieve for all my losses, and for what I did. Then she guided me here, but that is a long story. Then she got the merpeople to give me this cove. Then I found a bunch of runaways from Akoshia. Everyone here has been mistreated in one way or another. Some not as bad as mine, to see their family murdered in front of their eyes. Some worse, who are lucky to be alive.

“So now you are pirates,” Katie said.

“We prey on Akoshian shipping, especially the Virias family. I would call us freedom fighters, but, alas, I know the future. I cannot overthrow the Akos and his perverted nobility. They are destined to become rich and powerful, but I am not going to make it easy for them, at least as long as I am alive.” Nalishayas downed her ale and called for more. She looked around at the group. “Any questions?”

“Yes,” Alexis wanted to change the subject. “Why do all the men call the women Muggys?

“A newcomer raped a woman. For being a mugger, the mugee got to take one thing of his treasure. I nal hangingexplained this to everyone. For being raped she had the option of taking more things, sending him into exile from the community, or seeing him hanged. He was hanged. But ever since then, the men have referred to the women as Muggys.” Nalishayas shrugged, downed a whole cup of ale and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “Next.”

“Only one thing,” Katie spoke up again. “You have all these technical advances here on this side of the mountain. You have hoes and scythes and sickles, not to mention copper knives and all. But on the other side of the mountain, they have nothing. They are still working in stone and bone…” Katie trailed off because Nalishayas was shaking her head.

“I dare not share,” she said. “Soon enough the Akoshians will come here and take this island for their own. They might not succeed if the people have copper weapons to defend themselves. It troubles me every day. It breaks my heart, but what can I do?”

“What if the Akoshians come here?” Katie asked.

Nalyshayas 2“These refugees and pirates would be expected to have the tin and copper and all the implements of Akoshia. But they won’t come here unless someone betrays us.”

“A possibility,” Katie said.

“Possible,” Nalishayas agreed. “Now I want to get drunk.”

###

Two days later, Nalishayas came into the inn wearing a dress that looked like silk. “Fairy weave,” she admitted. “But I have been assured by those who know that it imitates silk very well.”

“But you are beautiful,” Alexis said.

“Breathtaking,” Boston squeaked.

“I took a bath,” Nalishayas admitted.Nalyshayas 3

She went with them to visit Coressus in the underground. Lockhart said he did not sleep that whole night, but the rest slept well enough. Then Nalishayas continued with them to the elf haven where the elf king, Issendilus explained that being confined between sundown and sunrise is what they would have done anyway, and so it was no hardship.

“And if it helps Mandible feel good about himself, and avoids a war, all the better.”

They stayed three days with the elves of light, and Boston fit right in with the elf maids who all said how lucky she was and how handsome Roland was. To be sure, she felt awkward, at first, but by the end she was saying she learned so much about being an elf and an elf maid, and about all the things she needed to do, and what was expected of her, and all the rules she had to follow. And when they left, she said, now she knew so much she didn’t know before. And she supposed there was no going back. Roland shook his head and held her hand as they moved through the time gate, but that was fine. She was kidding about going back, mostly.

Avalon 3.8: part 4 of 5, Friends and Such.

Roland and Boston were the last to leave the underground, and Boston told Coressus that unless there was a way over the mountain, they would probably have to go back through to get to the other side.

“There is a way,” Coressus said. “But it is very difficult. You are welcome to come back through when you are ready.”

Roland barely got out the thank you before they heard a woman scream. They ran through the glamour that pretended to be a rock wall and found a woman pointing at Elder Stow and screaming. The appearance of Roland and Boston could not possibly make her scream louder, but she tried.nal screaming woman

We are friends. We are not going to hurt you. It’s all right.” The travelers said various things. Decker even tried “Shut up,” but nothing worked until two dozen men from town showed up with copper swords and copper knives and a few wicked looking bone clubs with copper shards in the head to make it like a mace. The travelers saw an abundance of tin and copper, on belt buckles and in farm implements, and silver in hair clips and decorative pins, and even some gold and a few precious stones.

“So one side of the mountain is a different world from the other side?” Katie said.

They came out of the mountain beside a small ranch style house with maybe three rooms, and now they were standing in an open space beneath the mountain. The village proper started a hundred yards down the hill and continued with buildings here and there until it reached a bay. A quick three hundred and sixty degree scan showed heights all around the bay, but the few large ships in the docks suggested that somewhere across the bay, there had to be a way to the open sea.

“Thanks Muggy. We’ll handle this.” One man said, and the woman appeared to curtsey before she picked up her water jug and walked toward the town without a word. The travelers saw where the spring came out of the side of the mountain, and Lincoln spoke.

“Figures. Loudmouth.”

Alexis responded quietly. “Timing is everything.”

Nal minoan men“So who are you people, and where did you come from?” the man asked.

Everyone waited for Lockhart to speak. “We have come a long way in search of Nalishayas. She knows us, and should be looking for us.”

“And your beasts?” another man interrupted.

“Poisonous,” Katie said, and no one said otherwise. “Not safe to eat, but they serve us well. The are shy, though. They have been known to bite strangers.”

“Nalishayas?” Lockhart repeated.

The man looked at a couple of other men and appeared to make a decision. “This way, he said, and his men spread out to give the travelers and their poisonous beasts room.

“Do I look all right?” Boston asked.

“You look like you used to look,” a very human looking Roland told her, but Boston was not satisfied.

“Alexis?”

Boston 7“You look just like you used to look,” she said.

“But do you think anyone noticed?” Boston asked, followed by, “I wish you had your mirror.”

The men led the travelers to a building with a long front porch and said they would have to leave their beasts outside. Fortunately, there was a porch railing where they could tie the horses off. Lockhart went first as the men held the door open. Boston came last as the man said, “Wait here,” and he closed the door and lowered the latch on the outside.

“Nalishayas,” Lockhart said again through the door.

“Many people are searching for Nalishayas, and most of them mean her ill. I’ll fetch her, in a day or three. You and your muggys need to just wait.” The man left the porch.

“No windows,” Lincoln pointed to the obvious.

Decker pulled his knife. “I could cut free a few of these stones.”

“No, let me kick down the door,” Katie offered. Being an elect, she had no doubt she could do it.

“But Nalishayas isn’t here,” Boston said. She could tell in her gut.

“I could raise the lock, like I raised the bar on the gate of Jericho,” Roland offered. “Much less destructive.”nal cabin

“But she is coming,” Boston stood, looked at the wall, and formed a true smile of anticipation on her lips.

“Listen to her,” Alexis said. “She is an elf, too.”

Roland took Boston’s hand and smiled with her. “The attraction is very strong in you.”

“Proximity to the amulet,” Elder Stow suggested as he put away the most destructive options for opening the door.

“Quite possibly,” Boston said. “She must have been at sea, but somehow she got the time gate to remain on land in case we came through. Maybe the gods?” She looked at Roland, who shrugged.

“Maybe,” he said.

It was an hour before they heard the towns people begin to shout, “Nalishayas. Nalishayas.” The travelers imagined a whole crowd of people gathered by the docks.

Lockhart stood. “Time to go.” He pointed at Roland and Roland spit on his hands, stepped up to the door, and slowly raised his hands. They guessed two guards, because they heard one call for his mama and run off like he saw a ghost, but the other grabbed the latch and put his weight into it to hold it in place.

“Move,” Alexis said, and knocked Roland to the side. She tried, but had little luck. “The guy is too fat,” she concluded.

Nal cabin 2Katie huffed and kicked the door. The whole thing shook, but the door did not go down until Decker barreled in and put his shoulder to it. Decker said, “Ouch.” The door fell on the man, who was indeed fat. Lockhart whistled, and his horse, Dog, came right up to the opening to stare own the man.  The horse would have stepped on the door and crushed the fat man beneath it if the travelers hadn’t been busy exiting the building and stepping on the fat man themselves.

We might as well leave the horses here, as anywhere,” Alexis said, so they did, and marched off to the docks to stand at the back of the crowd and be inconspicuous.

Nalishayas’ ship was a big single main master, with eight men rowing on each side, a cabin and upper deck in the back where a man stood with the rudder oar, and a cook hole in the front. Being a sailing ship, driven by the wind at their back, it was important to keep the smelly stuff as far forward as possible.

“Nalishayas.” the people waved. Nalishayas stood on top of the cook hole and held onto a pole which might have been used for a small lateen sail to help steer the ship and keep it accessible to the wind. She waved back before she cupped her hand and shouted.

“Lockhart.” She jumped to the deck and marched toward the group that no one knew was standing at the back of the crowd. People made way for her. She was a lovely woman, about five three, with regular brown hair but eyes a deep. rich brown color. “Boston!” she shouted, and straightened her leather jerkin over her leather breaches just before Boston tackled her for a hug.Nalishayas 1

Boston kissed Nalishayas’ cheek over and over and said, “Thank you. I love you so much. Thank you for Roland. I love him, and you are so wonderful to me. And I missed you. and I’m never going to marry if Mingus doesn’t show up. And that makes me so sad.” Boston began to cry.

Nalishayas extracted herself from the hug with a word. “I’m guessing she has been an elf for less than a week.”

Roland nodded. “About four days.”

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Be sure and come back tomorrow for the conclusion of Avalon, episode 3.8  enjoy.