A Bird in Hand

There was a rather strange young man in the bar when I arrived. Just quite how strange, we did not realise until later. Of course, this is all relative. I have seen many strange things here in Jasper Cove, almost as many as I saw in that Isle of Legacies, much stranger than anything I saw on the streets of any normal British or European town. Well, most towns anyway. There was that rather strange and, how shall I put this, specialist brothel in Rotterdam, but that is a story for another time.

First of all, I heard Anna’s voice upstairs, so I went up to check on the patient, Jade. She was still weak, but Anna was taking good care of her. I think the plan was for her to stay at the tavern for one more night and then move down to the infirmary, or to Anna’s house. I offered to help when it came to moving her and all else being well, headed down to the bar again.

The strange young man was still there. He moved oddly, seemingly at once very sure of himself, but also ready for flight, almost like a wild animal. He seemed fascinated by Aoibheann and she seemed mesmerised by him. Gywn made some caustic remark about it being my turn to mop the floors, poured us both a glass of rum and then turned to watch. The young man did not seem to be offering any violence, but I stood ready, in case anything untoward should happen. He leaned in for a kiss. Aoibheann seemed more surprised than anything, but then, bless her, pushed him away and told him if he wanted that sort of thing, he should go next door. I can only assume she was referring to the alleged activities in the bath house. He seemed confused by that, as if not understanding what she meant. I stepped in and asked if everything was all right, at which point he leaped away onto the card table, asking in a somewhat hissing voice if “she was his”, presumably referring to me.

I told him calmly that Aoibheann belonged to nobody but herself and asked him again to come down from the table and have a drink. She told him that he couldn’t just walk up to people and proposition them like that and asked if that was how things were done where he came from.

I heard Anna come down from upstairs and the queen came in with one of the princesses. I kept my focus on the man, asking him again to come down. He replied to Aoibheann’s question saying that sometimes they did do things like that where he came from, and that if she liked it, they could do it again. She declined, thinking of her reputation. Again, I asked him to come down, telling him that Aoibheann was a lady of impeccable behaviour and reputation and that I was sure he would not want to sully that.

At this point, he jumped again, landing by the doorway, told her that he would court her, and then, with a somewhat vulgar exclamation from Gwyn, turned into a large falcon and flew off. Now, that’s just what this town needs, another shape-shifter. We will have to keep an eye out. I can’t have him hassling Aoibheann. She did not seem to take the encounter well and retreated to her room with a bottle of gin.

A rather strange woman turned up. I did not know her, but she seemed to be known to the others. I suspect she may be from some future time. She sat at the table and conversed with the children. I did not really hear what was going on, but she was talking about augmented realities, virtual realities, something called a matrix, and various other things that I did not understand, but the children seemed to. I do know she took out her eyes and cleaned them before putting them back in her head. That seemed to impress the kids. I was not overly surprised by the idea of washing eyes, as an old ship-mate of mine had a glass eye that he used to wash in gin. However, this woman appeared to clean both eyes, so I suspect hers were not made of glass. I do not know if this was in any way related to the eye phones that Gywn and the children occasionally speak of. Perhaps, some day, I will learn about these modern things. Just as soon as I get to grips with the infernal kitchen gadgets.

Alec came by, on his way down to the docks to prepare for the next full moon trip. I really must get that trading agreement sorted out before he goes, then perhaps I can participate in this set of trading. I did not get the chance to discuss it with him, but finally, I did manage to repay the loan he made me when I first arrived. So, that’s at least one thing settled.

As with many evenings, folk drifted away. The queen took the princesses back to the castle, Anna took off with Emanuel, Gwyn finished her shift and went to wherever she goes when she isn’t working, Aoibheann was drowning her sorrows in a bottle of gin. I did not mind though, as it gave me time to finally finish chapter eight of Serendipity Island. I decided that yes, he would meet Willard on this occasion, and set things up for them to meet again. Now, all I have to do is write the next bit.

(See also – Aoibheann’s Diary)

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