Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Lady's Prerogative Book II: Wounded Aerth - Part XV

Shaela's Last Stand


Exeter had arrived on the scene and was just outside of the patch of fog that enveloped the house and the hunter's quarry. They knew that their prey was there, though they'd not heard from the first team they'd sent in. Exeter had ordered the second two teams to close ranks amongst one another so as to prevent falling out of contact with one another. This fog was a strange phenomenon that they'd not seen the likes of before and Exeter suspected that they might be dealing with the other worldly powers of a real Wytch.


Exeter had secured the services of a specialist from Alivale, directly from the Culdar Rath detachment there. The same one that had interrogated Jasmer a few nights ago. He had made his way to town to assist in the capture of the mysterious figures plaguing the hunters in the wilds outside of town. He too was a practitioner of the arts of Wytch craft and he was particularly versatile in counter-craft. The art of countering other casters and disabling or killing them. In his field he was considered a specialist. And by others of the Wytch kind he was considered deadly.


He had just arrived and conferred with Exeter, who had ordered him into the fog to investigate its source and its nature. He'd been ordered in to follow the fifty man armed detachment they'd sent in to find the whereabouts of the first twenty five they'd sent. The second group had slowly uncovered a scene of death, finding the bodies of the first team scattered throughout the fog. They'd been killed silently while covering each other from attack by a deadly assassin. The truth was that they had no idea of what they were looking for nor did they have any idea of how deadly it was. It watched them as they found the bodies and it moved silently through the night despite its enormous size.


The shadow cats were one of the most efficient hunters and killers there were in all of the planes of existence despite their mortal nature. Shaela had not seen her own shadow cat, the one with which she'd bonded during her initiation rite into the Order Of The Night Wytch. The time difference would have meant that her cat was likely not yet born or far too young to be summoned at all. Shadow cats took seven hundred years to mature and they were roughly twice the size of full grown elephants when they'd reached full maturity. They were large and deadly and they bore a special organ that allowed them to sense the intent of other living creatures. They could literally smell and taste it. If you were of ill intent and meant harm to anyone or anything, they could smell you for miles and often their favourite prey were as such.


It watched them each, seeing their motion in the fog and smelling their intent. Most of them had started out with the intent of hate and murder. When they'd started finding the bodies of their fellow hunters, they retreated to the base emotion of fear,  for their own mortality. It was not them that were the hunters as they had believed. They were in fact the prey for something far more deadly. They were being toyed with by a much more efficient killer than themselves. In all their cruelty and hate for the men and women they'd killed, they'd never once thought there would be another that could outdo them. Despite what they believed in their arrogance, it watched them. As it watched them their moments were as few as their breaths. Best enjoyed until their last.


Shaela too sat in the dark watching with her piecing eyes seeing into the fog and into her hunters. She could see them and everything in the fog. There was nothing hidden from her except one. She knew there was something wrong because there was something that moved with the fifty that she could not see. It was like a black patch of emptiness that was not there. A hidden mystery and challenge she noted. The shadow cat's kitten sat beside her, nearly as big as a full grown tiger yet still a baby in need of protection. To the kitten this was a practice hunt and it too honed its skills as a hunter. It smelled the intent of those moving through the fog, though it had not learned to distinguish between the variety of emotions of which prey were capable. They were like play toys to the kitten and it had yet to learn to respect the danger that even prey could present to the hunter.


They both watched together while the bigger more mature shadow cat hunted. They still had the advantage as the fog was of Shaela's creation. It limited their vision and hearing to a few feet, while enhancing her awareness to the entirety of the fog patch. She simply could see all of them at once. They approached the house she'd set up as her vigil though the shadow kitten and herself watched from their vantage point outside and twenty yards from the front door.


The first three stepped together into an area she'd sewn with Slither Clasps. They were magical plants of the shadow plane that adhered themselves to any living thing they could touch and once they'd found hold of such a thing, they tended to cover its entirety, constricting it tightly. Trying to infiltrate every opening and crevasse in whatever they'd found on which to cling. The first three stepped into the middle of a Slither Clasp patch and stopped instantly as their feet were bound.


"Traps and tricks! Stay back and heed yer step!" one of them screamed as the plant covered his entire body.


The other two became covered entirely and screamed as the first of the constrictions began. It stretched their scream into a horrid cessation of breath as the plant infiltrated their mouths and eyes. When the Slither Clasp had engulfed their bodies and had nowhere left to grow it began to sprout flowers in irony. They were dead seconds later standing erect like blackened green and flowery scarecrows. The others who moments earlier had continued their advance paused just outside of the Slither Clasp patch in horror.


One poked the ground with his arquebus long gun. The plant quickly latched onto it and cover the gun despite his efforts to pull it free. It then clasped his hand as he struggled to get away. A few of his mates grabbed him pulling him away from the plant which now covered his arm as it made its way up his shoulder. They pulled him hard and the plant's sinewy shaft broke and the advance stopped just short of his mouth.


"Thar is killer plants ahead! Heed the dirt! Proceed with care!" another of the hunters yelled.


Strathmere, the specialist had made his way to the front. He'd managed to keep his presence hidden and still was concealed within a Cloaking Veil Aura he'd conjured to protect himself.


"That is not an indigenous plant. Not of this plane. We are dealing with a specialized caster. Be wary of your steps. We need fire here and now!" Strathmere ordered the men, rallying them to action.


A moment later two arsonists had found their way to the front and had set up the means to set the Slither Clasps alight. They soiled the area with fuel as best they could considering their predicament. Then they attempted to set the fuel ablaze with a tinder box. After minutes of attempting it, they gave up as the fog prevented any sort of sustained flame.


"It's not possible. We cannot set anything afire in this fog." the arsonist told Strathmere.


"This fog too then is of the weave! Then I shall attempt to lift it!" he sounded strained and impatient.


His success with Jasmer had made him too confident. He'd managed to break the best of what the Sanctum had to offer in a short period of time. After such a success, everything else had been down hill in his ascent in the ranks of the Culdar Rath. He jumped at the opportunity to help West View be rid of the accursed beings that had been hunting the Wytch hunters. He'd jumped on a horse with a small escort of men and proceeded across the colony trail through Sharlesbury and on to West View days ago. From that point since his arrival, he'd been kept on hold until they'd needed him. The breakthrough the Culdar Rath had begotten by the attack upon the Haven of the True, the removal and demotion of Evan Edwards and finally the death of the Magistrate had meant they'd no need for him. They were on the verge of victory and the Wytch kind and those resisting their hidden agenda were nearing their end. Strathmere had been been elated when they'd called for him on this night. Finally he would be used effectively by them and once again he'd progress through their ranks.


"Krimsegoth sgool mroth selgundelam." His hands moved with precision as he elicited the verbal words to his weave.


The ground quaked for a moment startling the armed men, who squatted in order to keep to their feet. A moment later a strong gust of wind took the fog quickly dispersing it and pushing it aside. The mature shadow cat shrunk the ground to keep itself concealed in the darkness of night as it watched it's quarry. Shaela beckoned the kitten and retreated further from the advancing troop of men upon her vantage point. They'd now have the advantage of their numbers and she'd be severely handicapped in her ability to thwart them. The mature shadow cat though a serious threat to the men, was now vulnerable to their numbers and fire arms.


"There. Now set your fire and watch the plants burn." Strathmere ordered them.


"What about the men who are have already been covered in the wretched plants?" asked the arsonist who could clearly see them standing held in place, covered in vines, foliage and flowers.


"They're dead. Worry not for them. Set the fire." Strathmere said impatiently.


She watched them as they set the fire. It quickly spread across the Slither Clasp patch as the plants writhed in the fire as they burned. The remaining fourty six men advanced and took inventory of the situation. There were bodies everywhere from the prior troop of twenty five who'd led the advance. Whoever had done this was very efficient and deadly though they knew that without the advantage of the fog, they'd be able to see their attackers.


Shaela had to disperse them somehow so the mature shadow cat could hunt them in smaller groups. She thought about her current dilemma and watched as the troops arrived at the house they'd been sent to set ablaze. Mostly to destroy any evidence that there might be linking the Wytch hunters to corruption. Halden had taken Horace to Evan's house which was miles away from here. She had to keep them from finding Horace for he was the break in their lines. He knew of the ill plans of the Culdar Rath in detail and had been a man between in many of their corrupt orders, often given to the death of innocent members of the colony.


She would have summoned more creatures if she could, however it would have been impossible for her. Highly experienced casters like Thara could summon droves of extra-planar creatures upon will, but only because they'd learned to balance the energies required to transfer their essence between planes. Shaela though powerful still had far to go in such learning, though she stilled yearned as such to know. She had to find another way and she went through several scenarios in her mind until she came up with an impromptu plan. She scolded the kitten telling it to stay put while she put her plans into action.


She positioned herself a distance away from the Wytch hunters and Strathmere watching carefully as she did. She cast her weave carefully and targeted the trees and plants to either side of the Wytch hunters at least fifty yards. She then began to speak in various voices, some sounding like hers and others not like hers at all. She made no sound as she did this for the sound had been redirected to appear as if it was coming from the trees and plants she'd targeted with her spell.


The Wytch hunters heard the voices and looked to Strathmere.


"There must be a few of them. They've surrounded us. We'll split off into two teams. I'll take one team this way and the other twenty three vanquish that group. Shoot first and then charge the area. Use blades from that point. Make it messy if you have to." ordered Strathmere.


With the orders given they spit off into two groups. Strathmere taking the west group into a patch of brush sending an eight man team to flank from the north. There would be no getting away this time. On the other side towards the east, the twenty three men slowly and tactically approached the area where they'd heard the voices. Two of the men took up the rear of the group to prevent them from being flanked and lay low in the brush. They never heard the beast from behind them as it approached. One of them smelled its breath.


"Is that you? That's disgusting. You ought ta clean yerself more. Get some herbs or something. That is awful." he spoke to his fellow Wytch hunter on a few paces away before proceeding.


The Wytch hunter he'd been talking to didn't have time to react as the enormous paw drove its claws into his back and pressed him to the ground silently. The claws punctured his insides and squeezed the breath from him silently. The first man who'd commented on his smell waited for him only to find his upperbody quickly engulfed by the mouth and jaws of the shadow cat. He made no sound as the jaws crushed him and fell dead when the giant cat opened its mouth.


The cat then made its way forward quietly taking out another three from behind similarly leaving only eighteen left in this group. Meanwhile Shaela had gone forward to the other group in hopes that she might deal with them all by herself. She did not know about the presence of Strathmere who kept his Concealing Aura fully charged and empowered. She concentrated and became a shadow herself floating towards them as a ghostly form as she disappeared. She could not affect them in any way but they could not harm her. She had different plans to deal with them.


She floated invisibly into their midst and when she felt she was centered between them, she became material once again. The Wytch hunters immediately caught sight of her and panicked.


"Wait!" Strathmere yelled but it was already too late.


"They'd leveled and fired at the ghostly visage as their armaments discharged.


Instead of killing their intruder they'd fired upon each other. In the volley of fire, thirteen of them fell dead or deathly injured, dying soon thereafter. That left only eleven in the group with Strathmere being the twelfth. They drew blades and charged at the ghostly figure which disappeared again. She floated away from their proximity as they struggled to regain her location. Strathmere cast a cloud burst and she became stained with glowing particles that clung to her even in her immaterial form. They quickly sighted her from that point.


"Over there!" one of them yelled pursuing her.


She ran out of energy to maintain the spells and fell to the ground visible and material once again.


The men approached and she turned to face them. She reached out with her arms and shadowy tentacles sprang forth from her fingers grabbing the first two as they swung their blades. They were crushed and dispatched easily as three more got to within striking range. She dodged their blows firing a solid elemental shadow spike from her hands towards one of them. He fell pierced by the spikes spasming to the ground as the others got close enough. The remaining seven surround her and moved in. She swung her arm and extended her finger nails ripping one of their faces open as he fell to the ground screaming leaving only six. Another swung his blade and she dodged it reaching with her tentacles again breaking his arm behind his back and there were only five before her luck had run out.


The blade came down hard upon her back and she fell to her knees screaming in pain.


The mature shadow cat immediately stopped its progress through the other men, of whom there were only eight left alive. It immediately leapt to the direction of her screams as the remaining eight it had left alive turned to fire upon it. Their shots rang true and the shadow cat fell to the ground injured. It struggled to get back up as the eight pursued it. It finally climbed to its feet with great effort and charged at Shaela's attackers.


They closed in as one leveled his blade ready to remove her head, a common execution of Wytch kind. As he swung his blade the giant shadow cat roared, catching him by his head in its mouth flinging his already dead body side to side. His body became dislodged from his head and the cat spat it out as it moved to protect Shaela. The eight had reloaded and advanced ready to fire again. Their shots pierced the air as the cat tore two more men asunder ripping their life from them dead. The shots impacted its body and it struggled again to maintain itself and its vigil in protection of Shaela. It turned and took down the last three men in one swipe as the eight approached with their arquebus readying them to fire. It then turned its attention to them as they panicked attempting to reload.


It leapt at them all eight taking down seven of them in one jump, ripping the first two in half and crushing the other five under its body which rolled over-top of them. It then got to its feet again and leapt at the last as he leveled his arquebus and fired. The beast flew through the air as the shot hit it square in the head. It landed just before the lone gunner unmoving.


"Whew. Heh. Who's the king of the hunters now?" he asked as he spat at the dead beast.


It suddenly came to life its paw slamming down on the gunner crushing him. As the creature died it tensed its claws piecing the gunner like blades, through to the ground beneath him.


Shaela was alone except for the one hunter who remained. Strathmere.


He emerged from the darkness and exposed himself to her. She was sorely injured and could barely move herself.


"I wan't expecting a Night Wytch. A very impressive display of strength and power. A last stand that in any other battle would go down in the history books as one of the most valorous. But these aren't normal times and the Culdar Rath don't want to preserve the history of their enemies. So it like you will be erased and gone forever and this colony will be conquered as your world and time likely already have been." Strathmere told her as he approached her his blade drawn.


"This was my favourite part about taking Jasmer apart. Dissecting his confidence and ego. Taking all that made him the charismatic and endearing person that you all knew from him. Like removing only the parts of him that made him stand out. I am about to do that with you my dear. My beautiful dear. Your most vital and prized asset that makes other people like you and know you. Your wonderful head of red hair and your beautiful face and personality. That means I am going to take your head." he approached her and grabbed her red hair in hand while holding his blade to her throat.


Just as he began to apply the force that would have removed her head, something grabbed him from behind. It was the shadow kitten who'd jumped onto him and bit down on his neck from the back. He struggled against the beast who was only minimally strong against an adult human and still very much an infant. He struggled against it turning around and throwing the creature to the ground. He then jumped on top of it and attempted to stab it with his blade.


Shaela quickly fired the last of her energy into shadow spikes which pierced Strathmere's neck and back stopping him instantly. He struggled in disbelief unable to move and fell dead and slumped backwards to the ground.


Shaela fell as well and lay still for moments when she heard the mewling of the kitten. It had gotten to its feet and having no Mother to turn to it looked to her.


It was suddenly clear to Shaela why she couldn't summon her own shadow cat protector when she'd first arrived outside of West View on the shores of the river. It wasn't because it wasn't alive yet. It was because her shadow cat was just a kitten and this was her shadow cat as a youngster, three hundred and fifty some odd years ago. The kitten's Mother had given her life to protect Shaela and she'd give hers to protect her kitten.


She stroked its head as it purred.


"I guess this is how our friendship begins." she said to the kitten now fully aware of the cruel trick that time had played upon them both.


She silently gave the kitten its name, keeping it secret from that moment on.


It purred and their friendship was sealed as Shaela's tears began to flow for both the death of the Magistrate and the death of her savior, the elder shadow cat. The Mother of her own shadow cat.



Arrival At West View


Shaela awoke inside of Horace's home on the couch where she'd dragged herself to rest and recover. The morning air was cool and a fog clung to the ground concealing the death that lay hidden beneath it. The bodies were strewn across the ground and the morning light illuminated the grim scene reminding her of what she'd lived through only a few hours ago.


The kitten followed her outside as she evaluated her options.


"Alright little one. We have to go to Evan's house and get Halden and Horace and put and end to this madness once and for all." she spoke to the kitten as it followed her out to the road.


She had planned to walk the entire distance, about an hour's walk in all. If she'd had a horse, she would have taken about ten to fifteen minutes to do the same trip (though she'd had no idea where or what she'd do with the kitten during the trip). Instead this was the best way to get there and despite her exhaustion she still had the energy to make it just barely. Her wound which she'd wrapped and tended to still bothered her but it had begun to heal as do most visible wounds. It was always the invisible wounds that tended to heal the slowest and often left hidden scars all the same.


She'd made her way down the road a little less than twenty minutes when she'd heard horse hoofs from behind her in the direction of West View from where she'd walked. She scattered to the side of the road, the kitten following her but it was too late, they'd already seen her.


Exeter and the last of his hunters were on the war path looking to tie up the loose ends in their conquest of the colony. Shaela and Horace were the last remaining obstacles in his grasp. As they reached the point at which Shaela had fled he ordered them to search the forest for her. She no longer had the energy to run or fight so she just gave up to them gesturing for the kitten to hide.


"Here. I am here. Take me as you so choose. You'll not deliver a killing blow to my back." she stood as they approached.


"Ahhh. Shaela. The last of the Wytch kind in our midst. We will make a grand festival of your passing though your name will never pass anyone's lips again. We will execute you by decapitation or hanging. Either way you will so be dead." Exeter spoke confidently as the hunters bound her hands behind her back and prodded her onto the road.


She walked silently behind the three lead horses as the entire line of twenty six others followed. Exeter was immediately behind her and upon a horse. Exeter had sent a troop of ten riders on horseback to retrieve Horace from Evan's home. Exeter himself searched his house and when they'd found it empty they presumed he would be at Evan's. They would have him in no time and he'd be dealt with accordingly.


She was marched back to town by this string of horse bound riders and hunters who'd found their quarry and despite their losses their hunt was a success.


Shaela was still too tired to really believe what was happening and something in her had accepted her fate. Maybe this was what it meant to be alive and that the only time that one learned to appreciate it was when they knew their death was imminent. She wondered if Horace would live to make it to a court to expose this corruption or if his days were as marked as hers. Justice is such an illusion she thought. It only seems to matter as long as there's someone to remember it. Much like history. The truth was as malleable as clay itself and she supposed in the right hands it could be shaped however one desired. The kind of past that was needed to support a certain kind of future could be shaped as long as it held up in the present. Funny how all of this time spent fighting for what was right would be lost to such a malicious group of people who had no appreciation nor value for it. There was no universal truth then and perhaps it was all just an illusion. It was made up of those who decided to fight for it and sacrifice themselves for what they believed was right. Few enough people really did and the Culdar Rath had learned to play those who didn't. Herding them and lulling them into complicity one by one.


The colony never saw it coming. Most were bent and tricked to believe it was something that would come from Governance and due process, like the Mayor and the Magistrate would abscond with the power and corrupt them all. The truth was that it was ferried in on the very beliefs the colony had held dear. Like a trojan horse and now all would be lost because of this illusion. Maybe dying was about letting go of the things that you could no longer change. Despite how wrong they might seem. It was just so easy to do so. Give up after one had exhausted all of their energy and options. The great dead end of life. That's all that death was. She wondered who held the Librum Universalis Codex, if it was her trusted friends and allies from the Sanctum or the Culdar Rath who held the reigns of history and truth.


They marched onto the West View strip as the day was beginning and a crowd had stopped to check out Exeter's catch.


"Ladies and Gentiles. Fear not for I have captured the most ruthless and cowardly devil kind of a Wytch there ever was. This is one as there have been few. I present to you Shaela of the Order of the Night Wytch. Her execution will be in exactly ten minutes. Right here and by decapitation. Spread the word." Exeter announced for all to hear.


The commotion on the strip arose and the crowds began to flock in from all the buildings around as they prepared to see Shaela's head removed from her body. They brought their children and their pets too, as all were welcome. She was no longer considered a human being but a demon incarnate. Even those that did not support the Strange Inquisitors of Lorr aka the Strangers or the Wytch hunt were on hand, for if they didn't make an appearance then they too would become suspected Wytches and likely receive the same fate.


The hunters prepared a makeshift chopping block which they propped up and onto a makeshift platform which ironically was the porch of the West View legal house and Constabulary. When ten minutes had passed the crowd was immense and composed of nearly every single person in West View.


"Shaela Sheowellyn. You are hereby charged with the practice of the craft of Wytchery and for the deaths of countless members of this colony who were deputized to pursue and eradicate the presence of all such demonic creatures of the night such as yourself. Do you repent for your sins against God and the township of West View?" Exeter presented his quarry to the audience who booed and hissed at her.


"Repent? Do you repent for the murder of innocents throughout the colony, doing so as nothing but a grab of their property and accomplishments in the name of substituting them for your sins? You took monetary donations in exchange for the absolution of those who donated it, who essentially purchased their clemency by placing their sins upon the heads of those you labeled as Wytches. Illegally. You stole everything from them and wore their accomplishments in this colony as your own. Repent? Never. I will never repent for your crimes." Shaela denounced their hunt and execution plans.


Exeter looked around nervously though he'd dealt with the horrified honesty of those he'd slaughtered before. Many times over. Last and final words could be so dramatic and noble but when the audience were amongst the guilty, that memory tended to be subjective more so than objective. More so, too many in the audience were in fear of the same fate befalling them for it always seemed to come to those who stood against it. If you denounced the hunt one day, you were a Wytch the next. That was the simple rule and such public executions were in fact the means used to scare others from taking the same path. The truth was that because nobody could share their disapproval of the hunt, they did not know how many others felt the same. So they staid themselves divided.


Shaela was led to the chopping block where she knelt and her neck was exposed to the executioner's blade. He held a pole-axe which had been used similarly to perform many such executions before. He raised his axe high and as he was about to perform the kill, he stopped noticing a troop of riders on horseback riding through the crowd, Evan Edwards in the lead.


"Stop! I demand that this execution be stopped at once!" he yelled as the crowd backed away from him on his horse.


"This Woman is innocent! You've all been deceived by that man! He ordered the execution of the Magistrate and then the arrest of the Woman you're about to murder, Shaela. Everything, this whole hunt is illegal! We have witnesses and the evidence to prove it!" Evan yelled to the crowd as Horace rode out from the crowd accompanied by Halden.


"We confer with the charges being raised as we are both witnesses against the accused." Halden announced to the crowd.


"There is more! We have witnesses still alive who fled to the Haven, witnesses from Alivale, Sharlesbury and written statements from Father Elias Wilsen that absolve him of the guilt of the murder of Widow Tanara Milaise! This whole hunt had been a fallacy! Let the truth be known!" Evan yelled directing his horse through the crowd which parted to accommodate his path.


"Give me that!" Exeter yelled grabbing the executioner's axe and attempting to swing at Shaela.


Evan drew his arquebus and fired hitting Exeter in the shoulder and knocking him to the floor boards of the front porch of the legal offices. Exeter screamed in pain but still lived as the crowd applauded the turn of events and Evan's shot.


"You aren't getting out of this so easily Exeter!" Evan yelled.


The crowd unsure of what to do backed away as Evan's Cavalry rounded up the last of the hunters and arrested them.


"To the people of West View. We are now free of this scourge! Live free and in peace from now on! Justice is and will be served!" Evan announced to them all.


Mila, Barris, Jasmer and Sato rode forward to greet Shaela on the stage. Mila dismounted and ran to Shaela whose smile beamed cheek to cheek.


"I never thought I'd see you again." Shaela said to Mila.


"As did we." Mila said as her and Barris wrapped themselves around Shaela.


Jasmer and Sato found their way up and onto the stage. Exeter suddenly grasped at the arquebus of one of the Cavaliers and once again attempted to end Shaela's life. Sato moved with lightening reflexes as the shot rang out. His hand blocked the shot and simultaneously knocked the arquebus from Exeter's hand. He then delivered a single blow to Exeter's abdomen rending him immediately unconscious.


The audience applauded once again as Sato bowed. Barris approached him and spoke.


"You didn't just catch that shot did you?" Barris asked him.


"Are you out of your mind? That's impossible!" Sato shot back at him somewhat insulted by the insinuation.


When Barris turned back to Shaela, Sato opened his palm to see the bullet, which he tossed over his shoulder.


The crowd gathered and relief spread throughout the colony as the heroes were celebrated. They did not stay long for they had to return to the Sanctum and battle the final threat in this long war.


Jasmer gathered them a half an hour after the commotion had settled and the Cavalry had wrested the power from the hunters and the corrupted officials. Evan had declared Martial law and was now in charge of the colony and all of its official and legal matters. He accompanied the group as they said their final farewells.


"Well I never thought that I would see this day or even live to see it. I must thank you one and all for this never would have been possible without you. Without the Haven and the True. Without the Magistrate's undying faith in the Justice system. Without you Shaela." Evan told them in their gathering.


"Evan. I'm going to miss you so much. I wish more than anything that I could stay. You were the Father to me now that I had lost long ago. I will never forget you. Ever." Shaela fought her tears as she hugged West View's new leader.


The shadow kitten mewled at them perhaps with jealousy but probably more with love.


"Evan. Thank you for keeping us safe and rescuing us from certain death at the hands of the hunter's brigade and army. We never would have lived without you. Please promise me this. In the years to come, the indigenous peoples of this land will be hunted and persecuted. Please do what you can to prevent this and to make sure that this whole North American land can live with the dignity of the True, and that virtue meaning that we all live and work together despite our differences. The Sanctum represents that for us and our kind and it is comprised of the Wytches and Sorcerers of our time. Maybe your leadership might blossom into a change of our history for the better. I'll miss you so much." she handed him a painting she'd managed to put together the night before they'd left the Haven.


It was a painting of him on his horse in full uniform, the way he'd approached the Haven on the fateful day they were liberated.


"Oliver Cromwell would be proud." Barris said to his fellow country man shaking hands and then giving in for a hug.


"Barris, you are a remarkable man. You treat her well. You are fortunate to have already found your greatest treasure." Evan told him firmly.


Mila and Barris stepped away and Sato stepped up.


"So. How goes the leadership?" Sato asked Evan.


"I'm only just getting started." Evan replied.


"Then make sure you hammer out a fair immigration policy too. In the years to come many of the newcomers will help to build the country and make it into the magnificent thing it is sure to become though make sure that does not happen at the expense of the indigenous peoples of the land." Sato said with wisdom.


"With the exception of the Haven, we all are immigrants so far. We've overcome our first hurdle and we're ready for the next few. Sato, you are an honourable gentleman and your wisdom is vast. May the seeds you sew find roots in all your travels and may the blossoms from them speak of your influence everywhere. " Evan bowed low to Sato who returned the gesture.


Jasmer approached and shook hands with Evan and said nothing. Evan recognized a man that had chosen to withdraw from the light and remain in the dark for his own reasons. He did not press Jasmer nor judge him.


They stepped away from the crowd and into the legal offices of the Constabulary away from prying eyes. Jasmer applied to each of them the black compound which slowly engulfed them and at once they disappeared from the year 1654 and found themselves unconscious and in infinite darkness.


The Sanctum Rejoined



Outside of the Sanctum the remaining forces of the Culdar Rath approached. Their numbers greatly reduced though they still presented a sizeable threat to those within. If they breached the walls of the Sanctum the residents therein would fight however they would eventually fall by comparative numbers. The math had been simple and Lorr, the last of the Power Lords had accounted for this.


At the moment when all hope had been lost, it was Feylashar who found it by their arrival. Upon the floor of the Sanctum in the halls just outside of the Librum Universalis Codex were the bodies of several unconscious individuals. They were Jasmer, the former leader of the Sanctum. Mila, the originating member of the Order Of Aetherial Artistry. Shaela, member of the Order of the Night Wytch. Sato, friend of the Sanctum and a multi-talented magician and martial artist. Barris, friend of the Sanctum and its future all in one though he did not yet know of his legacy.


Feylashar at once ran to their unmoving bodies attending to them each in turn starting with the most senior. They had suffered from temporal sickness a common malady of those who'd traveled in time. Its closest known relative was jet lag. One by one they rose from the cold stone floor of the Sanctum halls.


"We feared your death had come. Your arrival is the greatest news we ever could have hoped for!" she told them in her elation.


"What is the situation, where is everyone?" Mila asked urgently.


"They are in the meeting hall. They have been drawing forth a plan with our currently limited numbers. The forces that remain outside of our walls are greater than our own. Most of our elementalists have been dispatched and few remain. The Itanicarum fell not long ago on the battlefield after laying waste to a great many of their forces. It dismantled most of their breaching tools, so getting through the walls might prove a bit difficult but these walls are not completely impassable by spell. The situation is dire but thanks to your arrival our chances of defending the Sanctum have gone up a hundred fold." Feylashar spoke excitedly as she led them to the meeting hall.


"Have you had rest yet lady?" Shaela asked the talented healer.


"None as of yet. I've been going through the whole battle. I've still got energy to spare though." she responded though looking uncertain.


"We need you and most certainly. I am ordering you directly to take leave and rest in the Chamber Of Renewal. You are as vital as you have been no doubt but we need you complete, not in pieces. You should not take this privilege lightly. Few would be offered such a chance. If anything let it be known how important you are as a whole to the Sanctum." Shaela told Feylashar with encouragement.


Such words coming from Shaela were rare and she accepted them gracefully and heeded her orders.


With that they proceeded into the meeting hall where the remnants of the Sanctum bickered over the details of their final battle and their terms of surrender.


"Lannay! Is that you I hear speaking of surrender? You do realize that the histories of every living being to grace this planet are contained therein the Librum Universalis Codex! Would you fail them all?" Shaela threw at them with determination.


"Thank the heavens! You're returned as if from the dead I'd say!" Lannay said excitedly distracted from the bureaucracy of surrender.


"We are joined once again, and on the field of our final battle by the cornerstones of the Sanctum itself." Jexelen exclaimed.


"We are not won yet." Jasmer said still showing no emotion and looking very lifeless and drained.


Yirfir ran from her place in the hall and threw herself at him. He returned her affections though with little effort put forth.


"My love! We need your leadership." Yirfir tried to jolt him to life.


"In due time my dear. There are things that we must discuss here and now." he replied without emotion or apparent motivation.


"Mila and Barris! We need your help and no time is better than now." Thara invited them both into the decision making process being discussed.


"Has there been any word from Nelony?" asked Mila.


"None as of yet. We assumed that she was with you." Lannay said.


"She still must be in battle with the Twins of Lorr..." Yirfir exclaimed.


As if on cue a portal opened and Nelony stepped forth from it still adorned in her clothing of leaves and vines and still very much appearing a Goddess though her powers as such were nullified in the Midspace plane of the Sanctum. She was however still the last Aerth Mother.


"The battle has been won the Aerth is healed and the tides have turned." Nelony announced to the sound of cheers.


"Now we have something with which to negotiate." Lannay said happily.


"Negotiate!? We are not going to negotiate the surrender of the Sanctum. We are going to see the Culdar Rath retreat and never return." Thara stood as she spoke.


"We must negotiate their departure. Now!" said Jasmer who'd remained largely silent and undriven until now.


"We've no plan. We cannot act without one." Jexelen staid her ground.


"There is the better part of a plan as we've discussed that we've the numbers to execute if it is needed. We now have the numbers as the Culdar Rath cannot stand against us all. Even they know this. Lorr will concede and leave. It will take him many generations to renew his plans to take the Sanctum. This loss represents many thousands of years of planning on their part. They have lost it all. Every bit of their plan. There is nothing but for them to retreat unless they attack and guarantee their extinction." Yirfir agreed with Jasmer.


Jexelen and Lannay thought it over for a few moments before responding.


"Then it is settled. We will meet them with our new forces and lay the terms for their retreat and evacuation of the Midspace lands and the realm of the Sanctum. We will assemble at the main gate. Assemble our remaining forces from the Chamber of Renewal at once." Jexelen ordered some of the Sanctum runners.


Moments later they were assembled and exited the Sanctum out into the Midspace lands surrounding it. A rocky and barren plains where the Culdar Rath and Lorr, the last Power Lord lay in wait readying their final attack.


Lorr's barge came to life and floated towards the assembled powers of the Sanctum before coming to a stop.


"Very impressive! I see many new faces amongst your numbers. It appears you have been joined by latecomers no doubt. Where were they? Cowering in fear in the latrines?" the Power Lord asked with scathing sarcasm.


"The Twins are no more. The Aerth is alive and well. Your plan is done. You are finished. There is only one choice and that is to leave this battlefield and the Midspace without condition and effective immediately." Yirfir yelled back to the Power Lord.


The Power Lord sat for a moment visibly shaken by the news though he'd known it to be true.


"Then this is over. Then there are two more matters to discuss. The first is the matter of my new associate, Jasmer. Will you join me on the barge and by my side." the Power Lord requested.


"Never. The ruse is done. You've been using Lannay, peering through his eyes and ears to steal the secrets of the Sanctum. I had to play along with Strathmere's interrogation for I knew that you were using an insider, I just did not know who. I don't think that even Lannay is aware of how you've been using him." Jasmer looked to Lannay.


"That is preposterous! How could they see through my eyes or hear through my ears without me knowing?" Lannay asked.


"By the craft of clairvoyance. You'd never have been aware of it and you're not to blame Lannay. I had to act as if I was broken so that I could uncover the target of the clairvoyance spell. That is now exposed and my ruse is done. It appears that it worked, Lorr." Jasmer said confidently to the last Power Lord.


Yirfir stood confidently beside her Jasmer, reinvigorated and renewed in her love for him.


"We have one more issue to discuss then. It is the issue pertaining to Mila. She is well aware of this and she knows not that I am. It has to do with Barris. Barris my good man, did you know that you are resurrected per se? You had been dead and your wife to be called upon the powers of her found amulet to redesign the recent history away from the truth. A grave mistake for those that protect the Librum Universalis Codex. Your life and the lives of Mila's parents is a lie upon this very time." the Power Lord spoke.


"That's nonsense and poppycock you vivacious excuse for a squid's buttocks!" Barris exclaimed attempting to lift Mila's spirits courageously.


Mila's tears began as much as Yirfir's had ceased. She stepped forward in front of Barris protectively.


"What is it that you ask? I'll do anything but please do not make me undo what has been done!" she pleaded to the Power Lord.


"You drive a hard bargain and this has been very hard on everyone. Your lie has caused great consequences upon the truth of reality for it is a lie. A living lie perpetrated by those charged with protecting the truth and history. You have done so well for those of the past and returned order to their truth. Now can you do the same for yours? I leave you a choice that I am sure your contemporaries will agree with. You must choose between Barris or your parents' existence. I will accept either sacrifice but you must choose one before we leave this Midspace for that alone will return the balance of justice that you claim to so readily guard." Lorr demanded of the heart broken artist.


"I... I... can't..." she fell to the ground crying and the tears came forth from her steadily and endlessly.


"Mila... I love you and always will..." Barris told her before turning to the Power Lord.


"You have forced upon her a choice that she cannot make so I will make it for her. She chooses her parents." Barris said courageously as the tears left his eyes now.


"Very well. That is your wish and your reckless manipulation of time and its history are undone. You Barris are returned to your fate so that her parents may live." the Power Lord spoke as he waved his hand.


The ground shuddered and quaked as the barge and the Culdar Rath disappeared from the field of battle and Barris fell dead to the ground.


Mila fell over his body and cried. She cried further and harder and then again cried some more. Hours passed before she would let them remove her or his body. She waited but he did not return.


The Sanctum's Renewal



The remaining forces of the Sanctum met in unity to decide their own future and fate and to select a new leader. Yirfir had been at the forefront of the selection and was voted to the position which she quietly cast aside.


"It is not a position that I wish to accept. I will continue my duties and responsibilities within the Sanctum as an instructor and guide, with my husband to be by my side." she told Lannay, Jexelen and her peers.


So it came to pass that Thara was chosen as the new leader, alongside Sir Manfred the Knight and Jeong Soon, the keeper of Wisdom. These three were chosen to work closely with Athandra of the Order Of The Ganesh, Xenshi of the East Moon Heavens and Kyoshin to represent the unions of the West and the East so that no such threat could slip by without their awareness again. The leaders of each of the thirteen major orders that made up the major representation of the Sanctum possessed veto power in any decision making process, which in turn could only be overruled by a unanimous vote against the veto itself.


Mistress Feylashar alongside Mistress Healer Haether were made the order's health administrators, ensuring that every leader was fit for such duty in body, mind and aura. So that the unseen forces that had made the hunt and nearly the erasure of the Sanctum possible could never occur again. They too would work closely with Kyoshin and Xenshi should any intrusion upon a member of the order befall their body, mind or aura. They were recognized for their courage and duty to the Sanctum and to all people with selfless devotion to the greater health and good.


Tela, the keeper of the Codex itself would work along side Jeong Soon to maintain it while she taught the new members of the order about the history that had made the Sanctum a necessity and the truth that it preserved and protected.


In the Librum Codex Universalis, Nelony, the last remaining Wytch of Order Of The Aerth Mother commissioned a statue of Nelony Theearin to be erected with a plaque that read:


Here the front lines of our freedom were defended by Nelony Theearin of the year 1654, the only remaining Wytch of the Order Of The Aerth Mother. There she defended the Haven, the model of what would eventually become the Sanctum that united us all to protect love, truth, virtue and freedom and most of all: the yearning and learning which only may happen when the other four remain each safe and protected.


Nelony's Resolve: The Acorn


Nelony had spent the night in her home, the one she'd left behind long ago. The very place she'd received the memoirs of Father Elias Wilsen. The place where this journey had all begun for her. Her dreams and her nightmares. Her trip across the world to the Savannah plains of Africa and to the outskirts of the Gobi desert. To the mountains of British Columbia where she'd bathed in a natural spring before making her journey to the Island of the Agrihan and the Lobeeshtofah, where she'd first been robbed of the powers of the Aerth Mother by the Culdar Rath. She'd then been cast into the past to fight the Wytch hunters of the time in the year 1654, in protection of the Haven of the True.


Upon pondering the events that led her to this ending and her new awareness she remembered a story she'd read as a young girl.


The story was a lonely one that began with nothing but an acorn and a chipmunk. There were many chipmunks in the field and they would squabble over territory and quite often food, which was scarce. One chipmunk never seemed to bother with the squabbling though it was often subject to the squabbles of the others while it too struggled to survive on what little food there was. There were also a group of kind chipmunks that would help each other survive and encourage one another to keep going.


"We taunt you and poke at you and you never seem to give up." a cranky chipmunk said to the determined one.


"Yeah. And how do you eat when we spend all day gathering food?" another mean chipmunk asked the determined one.


"I only eat what I need but I am making something that might feed many one day." the determined chipmunk told them.


"We'll see." the mean chipmunk replied and went about squabbling with the others.


They out into the field and chased each other around fighting over food for the rest of the day when one of them came up with a plan.


"Why don't we go and take whatever that chipmunk is working on for ourselves? Why should they get to keep it all to themselves?" the grumpy chipmunk asked.


"Yes. We'll go take it. Tonight. Then that chipmunk will have to fight and squabble with us to get food too and we'll have whatever he was keeping from us." a greedy chipmunk said.


They agreed on a plan and that night they woke up at midnight and snuck into the determined chipmunk's hold to steal what the chipmunk was working on. They ran back to the field with it so they could examine their find. It was round and smooth like a ball and slightly pointy at one end. It was curious and small and made a hollow clacking sound when they tapped it. The other end had an intricately carved design and crafted shell with the determined chipmunk's name carved into it. They shook it and when they did, they could hear something moving around on the inside.


"What is it?" asked the grumpy chipmunk.


"What do you think it is? It's a ball!" replied the mean chipmunk.


"You mean all this time he's been playing?" the grouchy chipmunk asked skeptically.


"What's inside of it?" asked the cranky chipmunk shaking it like a present.


"Food! It has to be." said the greedy one grabbing it.


"Give that back!" said the cranky chipmunk.


"No. It's mine!" said the selfish chipmunk.


"I'm starving!" said the hungry chipmunk.


"It's mine. I'm taking it!" said the greedy chipmunk running off.


The other chipmunks followed in pursuit trying to catch the greedy chipmunk but it had too much of a head start. The greedy chipmunk began to get tired carrying the round thing so he stopped and buried it. By the time he was done, the other chipmunks caught up.


"What did you do with our food?" the other chipmunks demanded of the greedy chipmunk.


"I ate it." said the greedy chipmunk.


"What? The chipmunk who made it said that we'd all be fed! Now we have to keep looking for food again!" the other chipmunks said disappointed.


The next day, the kind chipmunks went to see the determined chipmunk who still went about his business as usual though he was upset.


"What happened?" asked the smily chipmunk.


"My creation is gone. Someone took it in the middle of the night." the determined chipmunk replied a little bit sad and angry.


"Don't worry. We'll help you find it." said the beautiful chipmunk.


"You can't. It's gone. Those meanies took it. All of it!" said the determined chipmunk in a grouchy and mean voice.


"Don't you worry. Just try to put a smile on your face." said the kind chipmunk.


The determined chipmunk struggled for a bit still feeling like he had been wronged by the mean chipmunks before he spoke.


"Thank you for your encouragement. That's worth a lot to me." the determined chipmunk smiled feeling a bit better.


"So let's make another one!" said the acrobatic chipmunk, flipping herself in the air.


"No. That was the last one I don't have anything left to make another." said the determined chipmunk.


"Well don't you worry. It will come back to you!" said the encouraging chipmunk.


"No." said the determined chipmunk.


"It will come back to all of you." he said as he got ready to look for food.


Months passed and the winter came and went. When the chipmunks emerged from their hibernation in the spring, they saw a curious thing in their field where the greedy chipmunk had buried the round thing they had stolen from the determined chipmunk. It was tall and spindly with soft green leaves at its top. The greedy and mean chipmunks squabbled about it.


"What is it? Where did it come from?" asked the grouchy chipmunk.


"I don't know. I didn't put it there." replied the mean chipmunk.


"Maybe it makes food?" said the cranky chipmunk.


"Yeah. Let's look!" said the greedy chipmunk.


The squabbling chipmunks began searching the ground around the tall spindly thing and they found more of the round balls like the ones that the determined chipmunk had made.


"Look! There's dozens of the them now! We'll eat for good!" said the cantankerous chipmunk.


"No. You won't because they're mine! I buried the round ball thing we took from that chipmunk right here! So whatever comes off of this is mine!" said the greedy chipmunk pointing at the tall spindly thing.


"Well we're just going to take it from you then!" said the other mean chipmunks.


"WAIT! It doesn't belong to any of you." said the determined chipmunk who had just arisen from his hibernation along with the other kind chipmunks.


"How do you know? I found these all myself!" asked the greedy chipmunk.


"Because it doesn't have your name on it." said the determined chipmunk.


"Well then, where do I find the name and whose name is on it?" asked the greedy chipmunk.


"Yeah! Let's see whose they are!" said the other mean chipmunks rushing the greedy chipmunk knocking him over.


He dropped all of the round things he'd found and the other chipmunks started picking them up and searching them.


One by one they found the round things and the names of the owners on the end carved into it.


"Aha! Look here! The name it says... is..." the grouchy chipmunk looked puzzled.


The mean chipmunk read the name of the kind chipmunk.


"Why thank you!" said the kind chipmunk taking the acorn and seeing her name on it.


"And this one is for you..." the cranky chipmunk said handing the acorn to the encouraging chipmunk.


"So it is!" said the encouraging chipmunk reading his name carved into it.


"Look! This one's mine!" said the acrobatic chipmunk doing a cartwheel.


"Wow! This one's nice!" said the smily chipmunk find his name on one.


They went through them all, and each one had the name of one of the kind chipmunks and only their names alone.


"Now we have enough food for all of us!" said the kind chipmunks looking at their pile.


"We don't have any food at all." said the mean chipmunks.


"Nor do I. But I'll find some more." said the determined chipmunk.


"Wait. I know what we can do. We'll share ours with you. But you can't treat him mean and you can't take anything more from him." said the generous chipmunk.


"Yeah. And then we'll bury whatever we don't eat! Then next year we'll have even more!" said the industrious chipmunk.


"What do you call this thing then that you've made?" asked the curious chipmunk.


"I call it an acorn, but really, its an idea that became real. It started as one that I crafted with all of my heart, and soon it became many. It had all of the kind and loving chipmunks in it that I've been fortunate enough to know and that's really what grew. They really proved themselves when they chose to share them." said the determined chipmunk.


"Fortunately it is poisonous to those who steal them or steal the credit for making them. Especially to those who obscure the identity of the chipmunk that created it. So it can't be eaten by someone that doesn't own it without it having been shared with them." added the determined chipmunk.


And so like the acorn or any good idea whose time had come, Nelony would become the first of many of her order in the years ahead, but she always remembered and honoured Nelony Theearin. Nelony was the best and worst of both herself, and Nelony Theearin of the Haven of the True.



Funeral And A Gathering Of Friends



Shaela, Nelony and Yirfir stood by their friend's side in the rain. The Father that presided over the funeral looked uncannily similar to Father Elias Wilsen as he delivered the proceedings of the funeral.


Sato watched, his head bowed as his friend was laid to rest. His heart could be no lower than his spirits were or were the spirits of his most beloved friends.


"...and we cast this, the shell and husk that was once the great man known as Barry Windsor who was known simply as Barris to his closest friends. His works upon this world greater than any will know and few will ever hear of. The heavens will be his final resting place for all of eternity where there is a place reserved for those of his deeds and virtuosity. To those whom he has left behind, his fiance and wife to be Mila Rendebelle, his best friend Mishima Sato and to his friends Yirfir Lacharme, Shaela Sheowelleyn and Nelony Ardebloem may his presence always be felt for his effect upon us all is eternal as is his everlasting life, ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Forever and ever. Amen." the Father finished the service.


Mila stepped forward to the coffin and spoke quietly.


"Hi honey. I miss you. I spent the last couple of nights waiting for you to come to bed. But you didn't come and I thought that I was going crazy or something. Is this the way you wanted it? Is this the way it was supposed to end? Maybe. I don't know. Mom and Dad say hello and send their love. They felt it was best not to come only because of the choice you were forced to make. They... well you know. I can't paint because all I see is you. I can't draw. My place is a mess with candles and wax. Nothing is the same without you. One thing for sure is that I'll be back here to see you. Often and when I can. I'll never forget you. Ever. If ever you decide to come back, the covers will be drawn and my bed is open for you. If you see Father Wilsen, please say hi and send him my love. Maybe when I arrive there with you we'll make it official. Please make the arrangements and I'll bring the dress and your tuxedo. The one we picked out three weeks before our trip into the past. I'll be waiting for you my love. Forever. I love you..." Mila cried as she stepped back from the coffin, Shaela and Yirfir held her up.


They all backed away and Sato stepped forward.


"Well old friend. It seems we have come to the end of our path together. Let me say that my life has been enriched by you and your presence in it. I have never had a friend like you and never will. I'll be back to check up on you but you'll always be with me despite your current absence. I brought you three of your favourite things to keep you company. Your Edgar Allen Poe collected works, a collection of Doctor Who books and videos, and some Benny Hill for a bit of levity afterward. May you always find the time to enjoy it and when you do, remember me friend. I'll never forget you. Ever." Sato's face quivered a bit as he stepped back.


The rain continued as they watched the coffin descend into the ground. They stayed for a few moments more and then left the cemetery behind.



An Ending, A Beginning


That night Shaela, Nelony and Yirfir stayed with Mila accompanied by another two guests. They had dinner and drinks together and joked with each other reminiscing of their stories about Barris.


"Things really have come full circle. Here we were four years ago having dinner when our adventure started. The same adventure that saw you meet Barris and I find and reclaim my love for Jasmer. Now we've lost Barris. Poor Barris, though I don't think that I can stand to see you like this Mila." Yirfir drank the wine easily.


"We have each other. Don't we?" Feylashar asked them.


"That we do. We always will." Shaela raised her glass.


"And some new ones too." Haether said raising hers in accord.


"To friends, good food, good wine and good health. May they always accompany one another and good health even on its own." Nelony said raising her glass.


"To good health. May old tears dry and be replaced by new hopes, loves and aspirations." Haether clanked glasses with Feylashar.


"I'm sorry. I'm still..." Mila said.


"Don't worry. We know... Grieving takes some time..." Feylashar spoke.


Just then Mila burst out laughing her eyes full of tears.


"One more story. This one happened a few nights before we found ourselves... You know. In the past. Barris and I had spent a romantic night in the house, while my parents were still staying in the guest room." Mila started her story taking a mouth full of wine.


"You mean they heard you?" Haether asked.


Yirfir giggled at first and then Shaela burst out laughing.


"No. No. It didn't happen that way. We usually like to have a snack. You know. After? So anyway he decides that he can sneak down the stairs to the kitchen in the buff... without my parents knowing." Mila said stifling a giggle.


"Well. Go on. This sounds too good to miss..." Shaela laughed spurring Yirfir into a fit of giggles.


"Anyway. He gets to the kitchen and then to the fridge and starts putting a snack together for us." Mila told them.


"In the buff..." Haether reminded her.


"Yes. Quite in the buff..." Mila replied.


"So he gets through making us a salad and some sandwiches which he leaves on a plate when he hears someone coming down the stairs." Mila burst out laughing.


Yirfir covered her mouth to stifle her laughs.


The rest waited silently as Mila caught her breath.


"My Mother..." Mila started as the room burst into laughter.


She waited for them to calm down before continuing.


"My Mother comes down the stairs. Half asleep. So Barris dashes in all of his nakedness through the den and into the living room. He jumps into the bottom of the two door wardrobe in there as quietly as he can." Mila barely finished before the room once again broke out in laughter.


"She sees the plate of food and the salad and grabs it and takes it into the living room and takes a seat on the couch." Mila burst out laughing once again.


The room took minutes to calm down from laughter before she could continue.


"She sits there and eats the snack poor Barris had prepared for us while he was struggling to be as quiet as possible in the wardrobe." Mila said giggling.


"Then what happened?" Feylashar asked in innocent amazement.


"Then she fell asleep. Right there. On the couch sitting up of course. Keep in mind that she's a light sleeper." Mila finished up.


The room once again remained in hysterics for minutes and when it finally calmed down someone asked the question.


"So where were you?" Haether asked.


"Oh by that time I had fallen asleep." Mila replied to the sound of laughter.


Mila gave it a moment again before she spoke.


"He spent the whole night scrunched up in that wardrobe. Completely naked afraid to move in case he awoke my Mother." Mila drank the rest of her wine.


The room once again fell into hysterics and Nelony fell on the floor tipsy and laughing.


"You'd better heal her Feylashar." Shaela said pointing to Nelony.


"You know what they say? Laughter is the best medicine." Haether said.


"Then we should be as fit as can be!" Yirfir said guzzling her wine.


"Are you going to bill us?" joked Shaela smiling over the top of her glass.


"No. I'll just tell you another joke and you give me a call in the morning." Mila replied.


"So I came down the stairs with his favourite boxer shorts and a t-shirt the next day. And found my Mother sleeping on the couch, sitting up of course. She awoke when I arrived, startled to see the sun had risen. She mumbled something and then went upstairs without saying another word. So I spent fifteen minutes trying to find Barris, so I could give him his shorts and a shirt. When I found him, he looked so helpless, scrunched up in the bottom of that wardrobe. I awoke him and gave him clothes and then kept watch while he dressed. The poor man could barely move." Mila told the last of her tale as she reflected on the moment.


She didn't say anything about how they'd quietly made love again when they'd gotten upstairs and that they woke up in each others' arms in the late afternoon that day where they exchanged kisses, looking into each others' eyes.


They sat, laughed, drank, remembered and cried. Most of all they secretly hoped with both guilt and anticipation that someone would kidnap Yirfir, so they could once again relive their entire adventure setting out to rescue her. Then perhaps in trying to rescue Yirfir, Mila would be reunited with Barris.


The wine slowly disappeared and their glasses emptied to the sound of a Lady's voice singing on the stereo:


What would you say if I sang you a song?

Would you stand up and walk out on me?

Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a tune,

and I'll try not to sing out of key...


I get by with a little help from my friends.

I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends.

I'll get by with a little help from my friends.

I'm going to try with a little help,

I'll get by with a little help from my friends.

...

Their future would then begin from that moment, just as this adventure had started. A meal followed by drinks between a group of close friends. Maybe with a little hope and the eternal springs of possibility they might start the way they should have been from the beginning and from the end, which is in all intense purposes just another beginning.


The End


Notes


Sire: A large tree of more than twenty five years growth.


The story of Father Wilsen and Widow Tanara Milaise is covered in A Lady's Perogative Nook I: The Yearning And The Learning in the Epilogue (finished in November of 2013).


About Six


Six was an important number to both the Lobeeshtofah and the Spirits themselves. Each unit of their number system represented ten of what we would call degrees as an angle and reflected the number of fingers he have with both hands combined. Our hands were our first abacus, and today even form the basis of the decimal system which is based upon ten digits. Six comes into play in the ancients ideas in that it would take six to make an angle of sixty degrees. It would take six of those to make a circle of three hundred and sixty degrees. This was reflected in many places naturally in nature and to be found by those who were observant of the wilds, for it could speak to us in this language. The Lobeeshtofah's entire system of understanding was based upon this concept of the Aerth and concentric circles for they had known the Aerth to be a ball when many had thought of her as being a plane. It was how they had known when to plant, how they managed their grown food and timed their harvests. It was how they knew to navigate the wilds accurately when the rest of humankind were still trying to find their way. They were both lovers of the learning and the yearning before it had bore name.




A Little Help From My Friends written by: Paul McCartney, John Lennon.

A Little Help From My Friends © Copyright: Sony/ATV Tunes LLC

A Lady's Perogative: Wounded Aerth © Copyright 2018 Brian Joseph Johns.