Of Gods and Men

Some days are not like others. The compass of Jasper Cove is such that many days pass with little of interest to report. Indeed, there are days when I can pass the whole day and not encounter a living soul other than the debateable matter of myself. Today was not one of those days.

Breakfast brought an interesting visitor to the Lucky Leaf. I came by as she was explaining her name – Naurore – to Aoibheann, and in particular, how it was spelled and pronounced. I had to smile, because Aoibheann, of all people, should be used to names that look odd when written down. On the other hand, to her, that is normal spelling. Naurore’s explanation was quite entertaining, involving trying to say “nah”, being kicked in the shin and saying “ow” and then a rolling arrr before the or eh bit. I don’t know where she was from, but she seemed to know her languages, having identified Aoibheann’s name as Gaelic.

It occurs to me that, without realising it, I had named the inn-keeper in Serendipity Island after Aoibheann. My innkeeper is Evelyn, which, without the L in the middle, is remarkably close to how Aoibheann is pronounced. That must have been a sub-conscious tribute because I did not think of it until now. How very odd.

Naurore, wherever she was from, said that she had been summoned by the king, and had not had a chance to pack or bring money. I did my usual thing of offering to buy the first round, but she did not seem to want anything. I learned something curious about the future, well, what would have been my future, had I stayed. She identified me as Victorian or Edwardian, from which I had to conclude that the Prince of Wales succeeds Victoria, but chooses to be known as by his middle name, Edward, presumably the seventh, rather than as Albert. Naurore commented that she had a great interest in the monarchy of the empire, particularly the female rulers. I remarked, for her conversation led me to believe she was acquainted with Jasper Cove’s odd relationship with time, that I had heard that there would be a queen of England in the 20th or 21st century, but that I did not know what had occurred, or from my point of view, will occur in between. This led to a brief discussion on the evolution of the English language; and its lack of suitable grammatical constructs and verb tenses for dealing with a non-linear experience of time.

Poor Aoibheann, dear girl, I think felt out of place in such a discussion and excused herself to go and clean the kitchen. We spoke of her lack of education and the things I was trying to do to help. Naurore suggested that Aoibheann might like to revisit her childhood. I demurred, knowing what I did of her childhood and gave Naurore the potted version.

I mentioned that I had always had a hankering to study languages some more, being fascinated by the way that the language I knew had changed from Old English, through Middle English to the modern language and also, the similarities with other languages. Naurore asked what was stopping me studying. In truth, I had no answer for that. Time is something I do not lack, here in Jasper Cove. I said that it was something I would consider, being content, for the moment, to work on my fictional endeavours.

We spoke of other realms, including that which I had come from, and the creators thereof. She had heard of the Nexus and the Dark Lord and the London that I had known, leading to a discussion on deities, even to the extent in which, as a writer, I might be considered such, so far as my creation is concerned. This is an interesting thought for further investigation. It also put me in mind that I have yet to consider the religious aspect of Serendipity Island, something that I will no doubt have to address. We also discussed creation myths across different cultures and religions and speculated on the underlying themes and commonalities. It was a most entertaining and thought-provoking discussion, and I realised just how much I had missed such intellectual discussions. Aoibheann, bless her, is a delightful friend and companion, but as yet, not a great conversationalist on such matters. However, I have hope that some day, she will be. It is only her lack of experience and education that hold her back. The intelligence is definitely in there. Naurore left to explore the island and I made another fruitless attempt to find Alec to finalise our business deal.

Later, I noticed Emanuel and Anna down at the far end of the village. I took the opportunity to purchase a dictionary for Aoibheann, as well as a rather handsome volume of Mallory’s Morte d’Arthur. That was like welcoming home a long-lost friend, and I am sure reacquainting myself with it will surely provide further procrastination excuses with regard to my novel.

Back at the tavern, I arrived just before Aoibheann, who had clearly been for a walk in the woods, judging by the state of her dress. We barely had time to exchange greetings when Brigitte turned up bearing some gadget that looked like an old-style school slate, but somehow appeared to have moving text on it. Some modern device, I have no doubt, but how modern, I was not to learn until later in the conversation. Before I could pass on the message that the inestimable Niles had been looking for her, Aoibheann did so, with the additional snippet that I had not been present for, that he was looking for her and her husband. The husband bit seemed to be news to Aoibheann, from the way she said it. It was certainly news to me, hence my pointed look and mouthed “is there something you haven’t told me?” in her direction. Oh, I had such a hard time not chortling when Brigitte asked how Niles knew of her husband – Justin – missing out the all-important final E, then explained that Justin was not here, but that I had known him well. I played along with the conceit, but with some emphasis on the male pronouns and the pronunciation of the name, much to Brigitte’s and my amusement and some considerable confusion for Aoibheann, who obviously didn’t get the joke. Brigitte and I agreed that Justin and Niles meeting would be a most entertaining encounter. She appears to hold Niles in much the same regard as the queen and I do.

Brigitte asked for tea, which I was happy to get for her as it didn’t involve the infernal espresso machine, and was pleased to discover she still took it as I remembered her taking it. She commented that her tastes hadn’t changed, which amused me no end, thinking of the remark I had made to myself when I saw her chasing that young lady the other day. I commented on her change in fashions, which is when I learned she had arrived here from the year 2065. I refrained from commenting on that, as I thought such a discussion might be a little too confusing at the time.

The discussion was somewhat interrupted by the arrival of the faun, Jade, looking somewhat the worse for wear. She was carrying a steel-jawed animal trap that she had somehow gotten herself caught in and had taken some time to get herself out of. I went and got hot water and cloths so she could clean herself up – she had a rather grubby bandage on the wound – while Aoibheann went in search of Anna, after giving her a glass of what smelled like some lethal version of gin. Perhaps it would ease the pain. She seemed tired after that, so I helped her upstairs, Aoibheann having offered her the use of a bed for the night. I put her to bed in the front bedroom and opened the windows so she could have some fresh air. Knowing her preference for the outdoors, I pointed out the door to the balcony, should she feel too enclosed. I must have been tired too, because I sat down outside the bedroom to wait for Anna and that is the last I remember.

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