Two years? 400 posts?

Two years old and 400 posts! I can barely believe it. Yet, here we are, two years on from that very first entry, when Nathaniel was cast upon the shores of Jasper Cove. 400 entries is probably a lot of words, but I don’t know how many, and I am not about to go and open 400 word documents to find out.

Of course, none of these words would be possible without all the wonderful players, past and present, whose characters have shared Nathaniel’s adventures and made their appearances in these pages. I love you all, even if I don’t always get to play with all of you all the time.

And then there are my readers, without whom, there would be no point in doing this. Thank you all for tagging along and sticking with the story. I’d love to hear from you some time.

Right, time to go make dinner, and here’s to the next landmark, 100 entries from now.

Thanks again, folks. I Love you

Accidents Will Happen

When I was a lad I served a term
As office boy to an Attorney’s firm.
I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor,
And I polished up the handle of the big front door.

He polished up the handle of the big front door.

I polished up that handle so carefullee
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen’s Navee!

Well, one shoe at least has dropped. I now know, in part, what ails Wren. As I suspected, it was something to do with her magic and not being able to use it properly. As a result, there had been an accident, and people had been hurt.

I found her sitting on the steps of the tavern, reading. For once, I got to ask her what she was reading about, and she told me it was a book about archery that Vuk had told her to read. I asked if I could borrow it after her, saying that I quite fancied the idea of making a bow. I told her the quote from Francis Bacon about reading making a full man and mentioned that it was highly likely that he and John Dee had known each other.

Since we were alone, I asked her what it was that she had wanted to talk to me about the other day. She had mentioned wanting to talk to me when we had been talking about her training with Galyanna, but I hadn’t had a chance since. She closed her book and thought about it for a few moments; clearly it was something she was uncomfortable about. She seemed to steel herself and then uttered something in a frantic rush, almost as one word without breathing, before stopping and looking worried.

So far as I could understand it, she thought she had almost killed Hadley and that Hadley hated her now. I hugged her for a few moments and told her to breathe, taking a few deep breaths of my own and telling her to do the same. I told her what I thought she had said and asked her to tell me, slowly, from the beginning. I pointed out that there was just the two of us, so she could tell me anything at all and I wouldn’t be angry, because we were friends.

She told me I couldn’t tell Aoibheann, which I understood completely, and took a few moments to gather her thoughts. I assured her that I would not tell anybody anything she didn’t want me to. The story was that she had gotten mad, not at Hadley, but at things in general, and her magic had leaked out, making a tree come partly to life and start to attack Hadley. She didn’t know how to control it, but she had managed to get it to stop, and broke of a branch instead. However, now Hadley wasn’t talking to her, or so she thought.

I hugged her again and told her I understood completely. I reassured her that I wasn’t going to be angry or judge her. What happened was not because of any malice or intent on her part, it was an accident. There were two things that we could do, I said. One was helping her to recognise and deal with her anger, cope with getting mad, and the other was learning to control and direct her magic.

I wanted to gain a little more of her confidence, so I leaned closer, lowering my voice a little as if I were trying to tell a secret. I told her a little about how vampire bloodlines or clans worked, and in particular, told her how my clan were supposedly prone to outbursts and getting crazy. I said that she had never seen me do that, because I had learned to deal with that aspect of my nature. I thought of all the times Mother had helped me as a child, dealing with the anger and the fear from all the bullying, but that was something to tell her another time. I recalled vaguely having made reference to it in respect of my hair, so I knew she would understand when I did get round to telling her. As to the magic, I said we had already spoken of it, and I was more than willing to help her discover how to use hers, or at least discharge it. Maybe we could learn how to channel it into something less dangerous, like a wind or flashing lights, or making loud farting noises. Despite what Vedis had said, I did not think it was a good idea to try to get rid of it, as it had a habit of popping up.

Besides, I said, trying to cheer her up a little, the magic was part of her. Taking it away might change her and I rather liked her the way she was. Hadley would come round, I said.

She looked at me and quietly asked me to promise that I didn’t hate her, which I did, with a quick kiss on the top of her head. Of course I didn’t hate her. She was worried that maybe she was malicious person and that she did want to hurt people. I assured her that I did not think she was like that, because a malicious person couldn’t make nice bracelets. That distracted her a little, and she started to ask about my clan, but before we could talk about it any further, we were interrupted by Dorina and Hadley, who looked equipped for foraging.

We said hello and Dorina said that they were going to look for herbs, suggesting that maybe they could make some love potions to sell to the villagers. I was not overly impressed with this idea, thinking it inappropriate for somebody as young as Hadley. I kept my response mild, though, suggesting that the villagers seemed quite capable without the help of potions, a view that Wren echoed, with the addition that she didn’t like the idea, because that might lead to more kissing, which was gross.

I went on to say that I thought there were probably things that were more appropriate for Hadley to learn and, adding a little bit of my presence into the suggestion, advised that I could not allow the use of any potion or other magic that would have undue effect on a person without their consent. If people wanted to use potions for their own enjoyment, that was up to them, but using things on other people without their consent, no.

Dorina made a face at me, saying that maybe she should make a fun potion for me and put it in my drink. She then said that she was kidding and that she wanted to teach Hadley the properties of the various herbs, and perhaps make a protection pendant.

Wren seemed amused by the idea of me taking a fun potion, but very sensibly said that making somebody love you with a potion was mean, because it wouldn’t be real love. I told her she was absolutely right in that respect. Then I got up and denied needing potions to have fun. I could sing, I said, giving them a few bars of “When I was a lad” from HMS Pinafore. I could dance, I said, offering a hand to help Wren up and asking if she could remember the steps I had taught her at Maric’s ball.

That lightened the mood a little, and Wren got up, claiming she wasn’t sure about the dancing, thinking she might break my toes. I told her that was part of the fun. Dorina said that we were welcome to join us. Hadley seized on that idea, and used it as a chance to make overtures to reconciling with Wren. Yes, we should join them, she said, because we needed a patrolman, and a… and a Nate to protect them. That got a smile from Wren, who said that they did indeed need men to protect them, and stood to attention, trying to make herself as tall as possible.

I asked where we were going and what we were looking for. Dorina said we were looking for Angelica, and described what it looked like. I remembered Angelica well, because Mother used to candy it, and also remembered her warning me to be careful because there were similar looking plants that were poisonous. We went down to the waterfall just outside the village to search for it, since she thought that was a good place. I gave my usual warning about venturing outside the village until the Accords were in place, but since they were with me, I felt sure we would be ok. I let them go searching, while I relaxed on the bank and kept an eye out for the fae. As it turned out, we were not bothered.

So, now I know, at least in part, what happened with Wren. I am a little concerned still, because I am sure that when we were talking about the accident, she said that she didn’t want anybody else to get killed, which suggests that there may have been a more serious accident. It would not change my view of her, but it means it may be harder to get her over it. The main thing is that she has opened up to me, and perhaps, will open up some more in the future.

 

Elvis Costello – Accidents Will Happen

Ducks on a Pond

I find myself worrying about Wren and Hadley again, or more particularly, the influence of Vedis and the things she may be telling them about magic.

I found them all by the duck-pond. They were there with Vedis, or at least, the temporary vessel for Vedis, feeding worms to the ducks. Galyanna was there too, stoically putting up with being used as a leaning post by Vedis. Gwyn made a brief appearance, sounding somewhat more sensible than last time I had seen her, but she had to go back to deal with fae stuff after a few minutes.

We spoke about feeding the ducks and I told them how the other kids used to take bread to the park to feed the ducks when I was young, but my mother had told me that it was bad for them. Wren agreed, especially if the bread was mouldy. I accepted a couple of worms from the tin Vedis was using and threw them to the younger duck. I joked about feeding the ducks so they might better feed us later, quickly adding, for the sake of the young ones, that I meant the eggs. Wren was not fooled though, suggesting that eating the ducks would be better. I said that both were possibilities, so long as we made sure we had enough eggs to make more ducks.

They seemed to have been talking about magic and the various ‘flavours’ of it, as Vedis put it. She was offering to work out what flavour Hadley used, but this seemed to involve tasting her blood, which I wasn’t sure was a good idea. I would be very wary of giving any of my blood to a demon. Much as I like and trust Vedis, for the most part, she is still a demon, and I do not fully understand, or even know, her motivations. Strange that I do not have such reservations with Galyanna, but then, her role, her function is much clearer and better defined, and in the sense of loyal protector/soldier, we are much alike.

We discussed magic, and the various “flavours” of it. I restated my opinion that they all had the same basic underlying principles. Wren asked about good magic and bad magic, so I opined that magic was just magic – it was what you used it for that made it good or bad. Vedis said that Galyanna had the power of corruption, which Wren thought sounded like a bad thing until I pointed out that Galyanna was a skilled healer, which could be thought of as using corruption in reverse. I explained what I had done when helping Hadley – I had reversed the technique I had learned for projecting energy. Vedis at least was agreed that it was what you did with magic, and also that learning to control it was the best thing, rather than trying to deny it. She offered to help, but did think that maybe Gwyn would be better, being more closely attuned to fae magic.

I reminded both Wren and Hadley that we were due to do some practice soon, making a mental note to have a word with them about the caution that should be exercised in dealing with demons.

It was getting towards dinner time, so I suggested that we retire to the castle and feed ourselves rather than staying to feed the ducks. We didn’t want them to get too lazy when it came to food.

By the time we got to dinner, conversation had turned to dinosaurs and whether or not all demons started out as angels. One snippet I did pick up was that Wren knew that Alec had once been John Dee, which is something else I should talk to her about some day. Helene came up too, wanting to deliver a note to Maric, so I invited her to join us for dinner. She mentioned that one of the guards had been bringing her flowers. I said that she had probably made an impression, with her broom and advised her to be patient. As I understood it, Davor had not had a relationship of late.

The rest of the evening passed pleasantly enough over dinner until it was time for the younger ones to go to bed. I then retired to my room with the treatise on thaumaturgy, on the grounds that if it didn’t teach me anything, it might at least bore me to sleep.

Ducks on a Pond – Incredible String Band

 

Knives and Chains

I have a new bracelet to wear. Wren made it for me, because, she said, we are friends. She gave it to me the other night, saying she had made it herself. She had woven it herself, and had woven three hand-carved beads into the weave. One with my initial, N, on it, and a smaller one either side, one showing a multiplication symbol, the other a division symbol. I was instantly charmed by it. It was a little crudely fashioned, but that just made it more special. I put it on straight away and thanked her. I said that it was the sort of thing that I might put in my ‘treasure box’, if I had one like Aoibheann’s but instead I was going to wear it, so everybody could see.

Remembering the previous night, I asked her what Gwyn had said to her. She told me that she had said much as Hadley had, that she didn’t have any. I approved that answer, saying it would be good for Gwyn, because it would reduce any conflict she had. Wren added that it was true, because Vedis had wiped their memories, so they would not remember the children.

Speaking of wearing things reminded me of Aoibheann’s request for an allowance to get more clothes for her and Hadley. I asked if she had been to see Vera at all. She told me she hadn’t been to see her and then asked a question I had not thought of. She asked if Vera was going to make her dresses. That gave me pause for thought, realising I had hardly ever seen Wren in a dress. I did not know the answer to her question, since I hadn’t seen her myself. I realised I had left Aoibheann in charge. Surely she would know Wren’s preferences, but then, you never know with Aoibheann. I told Wren I would write a note to Vera and suggested she go and tell her what kind of clothing she liked. She was not a girl, she insisted. I told her that she was whatever she wanted to be.

Galyanna turned up at this point and said that dresses were not suited to a warrior. We talked a while about armour of different sorts. I had told Wren to go and see Hobbs about getting measured up for basic armour. Galyanna was not so keen on plate, but then, she tends to work by stealth. Besides, her armour is part of her body, which is unlikely to be an option for Wren. The corset, however, was external. I joked about the whalebone in the ones my mother and my wife had worn being pretty good armour.

We had a discussion then about the possibility of supplementing Wren’s guard training with learning some techniques from Galyanna. It seemed a good thing, since they were of a similar size. I was mostly interested in her learning defensive skills, rather than sneaky assassin type skills, but that was a matter for more detailed discussion. Galyanna was broadly in favour, but there were conditions – I would have to deal with Dorina and Aoibheann’s objections, and I would have to trust to her teaching techniques. I said I would have to clear it with Maric first and that I had some conditions I would discuss with her later.

We chatted about weapons for a short while and Galyanna produced something from her belt that looked like a small scythe with a weighted chain on the end. I think she said it was a kusarigama or something like that. I said that it looked a rather dangerous. Of course, weapons were meant to be dangerous, but this one looked like it could be dangerous to the user. I suggested it might be something for more advanced lessons. That got a laugh from Galyanna, which is not something I hear often from her and she explained a little about how it was used.

I then heard Maric’s voice in my head, asking what I would need to clear with him. I explained through the link about the idea of Wren learning some techniques from Galyanna. He agreed, and then added in voice that he had some conditions too, mostly to do with Wren not coming back covered in bruises, which was in accord with my thoughts too. We agreed it was something to talk about later. He then asked me silently if I knew where Helene was, since he needed to find her. I suggested that since she was one of the official foragers, she might have wandered outside the village. He thanked me and then gave us all good evening and wandered off, presumably to find Helene.

Sharp Knives and Heavy Chains

Sailor Dance

I love Gwyn completely, but sometimes, I miss the precocious PhD with the potty mouth who called me a posh fuck. No more so than when she gets into full faerie queen mode combined with the, how can I put it, madness of the change of the seasons. Or, as she might have put it once, batshit crazy.

I was taking afternoon tea over a rather dull treatise on thaumaturgy when Maric contacted me through the mental link. Queen Gwyneth had come to visit and was asking questions of Wren and Hadley. He was rather hoping that we could get round to discussing some matters about the children, and the accords. I asked if I should come down, but he said he was trying to persuade her to come to the castle for discussions. I alerted the staff to prepare for visitors, get some wine and mead ready and such like, and waited. I was keen to get the various formalities sorted out, to work out a solution to the problem regarding the children, and, it had to be said, to spend some time with my love, for we had not had much of that of late.

I waited a while, but there was no sign of anybody appearing. I contacted Maric and he said that Gwyn was behaving a little strangely, and could I come out and see.

I got there to find Maric and the girls talking to Gwyn, with Orie standing nearby. The girls looked a little confused, as did Maric. He was being stoic and patient, but I could sense the underlying hunger for the Wyld surrounding Gwyn. He was telling her that the children were his responsibility and wished to know their majesties’ intent, if any, with regard to the children.

I walked up to Gwyn and, just as I had a few days ago with Valene, greeted her formally as Queen before greeting her as a lover, drawing her close enough for a kiss. She whispered something that I shall not repeat here in my ear and gave her attention to the others. She seemed, for want of a better word, a little manic. She chastised Orie for refusing the Faerie Queen’s assistance, saying not many people survived that, but fortunately, she was kind and benevolent.

As for Hadley, it was not her concern, unless we were going to give the child to the fae, at which point, she broke into song, singing about dull mortal parents being made of snakes and soot, or something like that. She giggled rather a lot and started singing to me, this time about us stealing a human babe, raising it as a sailor on my old merchant ship, which she seemed to think was the Cutty Sark, or possibly she meant the witch from the Burns’ poem, for she then sang that Tam O’Shanter never had a chance.

Before I could formulate a response to all that nonsense, albeit beautifully sung nonsense, she grabbed me and kissed me and told me that lips were very nice. I was somewhat bemused by all this eccentric behaviour. I had experienced her somewhat giddy ways when in Faerie before, but this was some stage on from that. Orie meanwhile muttered that he had turned her down, but that Faermorn had brought him back. He then called his horse, mounted it and made to leave.

I summoned up my own Wyld, forming it into calm solidity, a rock, an anchor, hoping I could project some of that calm into her, call her rational side, and willed it into the kiss I gave her. I agreed that lips were indeed wonderful things. As for the children, they had a life here and we had no need to steal any because we would soon have babes of our own to raise, and if any of those wanted to be a sailor, why then I would teach them.

I could sense Maric nearby, projecting his own style of calm and control. He picked what he could from Gwyn’s speech, happy that she had no designs on the child and assured her that she would be well raised here in Mysthaven. That was about all that was sensible in the speech, at least for him.

Orie got up on his horse and Gwyn made some snide remarks about only a Goddess being good enough for him, warning that they could be even more capricious than Queens, adding an even snider comment about Faermorn not getting any in the Summerlands. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that, hurriedly squelching any thoughts of my last encounter with Faermorn. Gwyn then fixed Hadley with a gaze and asked her who her parents were.

Hadley looked pale, pinned by Gwyn’s gaze, but gave what was possibly the best possible answer. None, she said, that knew she was alive. I later learned that Wren had given the same answer.

That seemed to satisfy Gwyn, but she switched back into manic mode again. Somewhere in among the laughing and giggles, she assured Maric that she would never spirit a child away from his safe-keeping, or keep one running away of her own free will. There was also something about it being fun to be whimsical, especially when there was nothing special to do. It was either that, or play tricks upon the mortals or dance around in perfect beauty. Behold the turning of the year, she said, bursting into giggles and saying that she hoped she would manage it more gracefully next year. There were more giggles, some incomprehensible stuff about the Huntsman and her having a PhD in literature. Aoibheann turned up, looking a little confused by it all, but Gwyn told her not to worry, and that she had fixed things.

I felt it was possibly best if I persuaded her to go back to Faerie, and perhaps come another day when she was more rational, and said as much silently to Maric. I seized upon her comment about fun and dancing. I took her by the hand and the waist and started to waltz. There were plenty of fun things to do, I told her, including many that were best enjoyed in private. Perhaps, I suggested, we could dance away to her boudoir.

That was a dance she would never tire of, she said. She apologised to Maric and said that maybe she would make more sense another day, but for now, she had a date with a sailor. With that, she flew into the air, calling back to me, “don’t make me carry you.” I made my apologies quickly and hurried off down the path until I was out of sight before taking to the air myself, deciding to forgo the bat form in this case. As I flew, Maric told me that Janus had arrived and he would be speaking on these matters with him, hopefully in a more rational manner. I reminded him of the various suggestions I had if the matter of punishment for Aoibheann arose and said we would talk again in the morning.

I caught up with Gwyn quickly enough, and we were soon safely in her private residence. And there we did dance and other things I shall not write of here.

I await Janus’ intentions, if any, with regard to the children, but I have less concern for those as he has no conflict. I rest a little easier that Gwyn has found a way to ease her conscience with regard to the children, and perhaps now, she can look upon them without feeling any conflict.

 Sailor – Dancing

 

Music Has Charms

“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast” or so wrote William Congreve. Many people think it was the immortal bard who wrote that line or think it is about soothing a savage beast rather than breast, but those are not the case. It was the latter misquotation that brought it to mind. Only, in this case, music was definitely not soothing a savage beast. At least, not one kind of music.

I was on my walk around the village, when I came across Hadley, who was coming perilously close to straying beyond the roses. She was tearing Orie off a strip about enquiring after her personal life and her history before coming here. I greeted them both, asked how they were and reminded Hadley that she wasn’t to go beyond the roses without one of us with her.

Hadley said she was fine and that she wasn’t going anywhere. Orie would only admit to things being fine. I reminded him to listen to Hadley’s request about not talking about her or her past. I said there were political matters that he did not want to get involved with. Hadley appreciated, saying “See!” to him in response to my warning to him. He claimed he had nothing to do with politics, but seemed distracted.

So was I. I could smell mint nearby. I was fairly sure none grew where we were, unless some of Helene’s or Dorina’s plantings had escaped, as mint is wont to do. I glanced sideways and thought I saw a familiar shadow. I blew a kiss in its direction and explained a little more to Hadley about going outside the village.

Valene emerged from the shadows, coming to my side where I drew her into a hug. She greeted everybody and melded into my embrace. She claimed that she had managed to elude her guards for a short while so that she could go wandering. It felt good to have her close, but I also felt another sense of well-being from some other presence. I looked round and found Dyisi had emerged from the mists and was cosying up to Orie. I made introductions, as did Orie, surprisingly gracefully. Hadley and Dyisi seemed to already know each other. I felt a moment of concern. I liked and trusted Dyisi, but I didn’t know what her situation in Esterwell was, so I mentioned that Hadley was our guest and under our protection. She seemed only concerned that I was looking after Hadley, which I told her I was, and which Hadley agreed was the case.

Since Dyisi was there, I asked if she knew anything about dolls of a character called Elsa. She wasn’t sure, but when I explained further, she thought she might have seen the character on a poster about the film. Hadley chimed in with some additional information. Dyisi said that she could maybe find somebody who might be able to obtain such a thing.

Nualla and Royce appeared, glaring at me and scolding Valene for straying. She may be queen, but they keep her on a tight leash. She grumbled somewhat, but went with them anyway.

Further conversation was interrupted by a blood-chilling roar and howl, as Gwrgi appeared, upright and apparently angry at something, or possibly someone. His attention seemed to be focussed on Orie for some reason. The guards were already reacting, adopting defensive positions. I reminded them that weapons were not to be drawn unless absolutely necessary. I had a moment of panic when I saw that Wren was very close by to the cŵn, so yelled at her to get inside the tavern and yelled at Hadley to get in the nearest building. Fortunately they were both close enough that guards could get in front of them. For a moment, I wished that Valene had not left us, thinking she might have been able to deal with him.

I confronted Gwrgi, with hands away from my weapons, asking him what he wanted and stating that no violence would be offered him if he offered none. He responded in that most disconcerting voice of his, telling us to stop the music maker, who was not welcome in his woods, otherwise he would kill and eat him and use his violin as a toothpick. I had heard reports from villagers of violin music in the woods, and that Orie was possibly the culprit.

Behind me, I heard Orie unholster his guns and yell at us to stand clear. He shouted that he had come to restore Faermorn, and nobody was going to stop him. I told Gwrgi again that there would be no violence; there was no need for violence. I summoned up all my presence and commanded Orie to stand down, which fortunately he did. Perhaps Dyisi helped, for I felt that wave of calm flow from her, as she also told him to put up his weapons.

As if in response to my unspoken wish, or perhaps she had heard me through our bond, the shadows near me swirled and coalesced into the form of Valene. She looked with sorrow upon the beast and asked how far he had fallen. Her scent surrounded us and she sang, something that sounded like a lullaby. He stopped for a moment. He had looked torn, torn between the desire to rend Orie into pieces and the desire to be civilised, to respond to my overtures of peace. But now, he looked confused, as if memories were surfacing, forgotten familiarities. He stayed focussed entirely on her.

I backed up towards Orie and Dyisi, letting Valene handle her one-time friend and maybe lover. Dyisi seemed to me to be doing the same to Orie, who also looked torn between a desire to fight and the soothing influence of Dyisi. I explained who Gwrgi was, how he had been a cŵn, but was now freed of the Huntsman and a little, I suspected, lost. I thanked Orie for putting up his guns and suggested that maybe we try to find somewhere else to play his music, and maybe, stay away from the woods for a few days, to give Gwrgi time to settle down. He was still staring after the beast, as Valene led him away, but eventually, pulled himself in, muttering “shit” as if scared by what he had almost become.

I left him in Dyisi’s charge, since they appeared to be good friends, and I trusted her calming instincts and went to make sure that Wren and Hadley were ok.

I wonder now, what happened with him and Faermorn. He was part of the effort to rescue her from the sea-monster, so it was likely she had invited him to her chambers to thank him. Had he become elf-struck or otherwise infatuated? Or had he too dreamed of her? I did ask him to come and talk to me about her, but I don’t know that he heard. Perhaps I will get better answers in the Summerlands, perhaps I should try to dream of her soon.

 

 Music Has Charms

 

Yan Tan Tethera

It’s strange the sorts of things that pop up in your mind and get stuck there. For the last couple of days, it has been something that my brother, Gilbert told me about once, when visiting after he had been living ‘oop north’ for a while. I have no idea why it got stuck in my head, but today, I managed to get it out of my head. I also learned something about the future, though I can’t see it being of any use, other than landing me with a fairly tricky task.

I was taking a walk around the village when I found Wren and Hadley down at the bottom, playing with the sheep. Of course, given the things Wren says sometimes, it is possible that she was talking to them. I asked if they were well and thanked them for taking care of the sheep, asking if they were all present and correct. Wren said that they were, but that one had told her that they were nervous about some noises coming from over there. She pointed out of the village. So, maybe she was talking to them. I must ask her about that some day.

I suggested that maybe it was the cŵn that was making them nervous with his howls and such like. That’s when the thing Gilbert had told me about popped back into my head. I asked them if they knew how to count sheep like a shepherd. I told them about the old counting system. Itried to remember how it went, and recited what I could – Yan, Tan, Tethera, Methera, Pip, Sethera, Lethera, Hovera, Dovera, Dick. I was sure Gilbert had said that the count went up to twenty, but I could only remember the first ten.

Hadley thought that wasn’t a very good system, as it was hard to remember and suggested it might be another language, like counting in Spanish, which she them demonstrated, well, up to three anyway. Wren agreed that it sounded like another language, and then proposed that maybe the shepherds had originally been naming the sheep and others thought it was counting. She also thought that some of the words sounded like the things Aoibheann said sometimes.

I said she probably wasn’t far off the mark. Aoibheann spoke a variety of Gaelic, and it was possible the language the sheep counting derived from was related to Gaelic somehow. I jokingly suggested that maybe they used complicated words so that they wouldn’t fall asleep while counting sheep. They both liked that idea best.

Wren said that she wanted to ask me something. I said to go ahead, but suggested we went into the tavern for tea and cakes while she did so, which we did. She wanted to get a doll for Hadley to cuddle, to help her sleep. I was sure that we could probably find somebody in the village to make such a thing, but it turned out that there was a very specific doll that was wanted. It was a doll of a character called Elsa, who was in a moving picture that Hadley liked a lot – back in the future. After some discussion, I managed to elicit a description of said doll, who wore a blue dress, looked somewhat like Hadley, but without the glasses. I was sure Vera the tailor could probably make a rag doll, and maybe I could carve a head, or find somebody in the village that could. I made a note to ask around at the morning meeting the next day. It wasn’t as if I knew much about dolls as toys. Alexandra had collected really nice ceramic ones with elaborate dresses, but I suspect this was something different. I said I would see what I could do about it, but couldn’t make any promises. The thought occurred later that I could possibly realm-jump to the future, maybe Esterwell, and get one for her. Of course, my options for getting there were limited. I didn’t really want to focus on Alec or Isabella as a means of getting there. I thought maybe Dyisi was an option. Or, I could ask Valene if the Caits could find one. I will have to see.

 Molly Metcalfe (Yan Tan Tethera)