Ending the Hiatus

Alas, dear Journal, it would seem that I have been neglecting you. It would be easy to blame a simple wardrobe change – switching jackets and not remembering to transfer my journal from one pocket to the other – but that would be a lazy excuse. Indeed, it would be fair to say that laziness was the reason, if not the excuse for the neglect. At least it would be that, and the ongoing lattice-gaps in my experience, or, perhaps, my memory of experience. In the last three weeks, there have been more than a few occasions when I have lost a day. Whether this is just extended sleep sessions or something more sinister, to do with the disconnected nature of time around here, I do not know.

Within those three weeks, much, and little, has happened. I must have done my share of shifts in the tavern, even if I do not remember much about them. There are always people to be served; some familiar and some new to me. Envi and Enizo seem to visit quite often together, but I cannot tell if they are starting to become a couple. Neither seems to be concerned about the place of Darkfang in this relationship, if indeed, it is a relationship. I do remember learning that Envi ran away from an arranged marriage, coming, as she does, from a culture in which women are little more than chattels. I do not yet know where that might be, but even in these supposedly enlightened times, it could be any number of places, and that’s only counting those that are current to my era.

Aoibheann managed to get herself hospitalised. It seems she had some encounter with something called the White Stag, of which more later, and is now obsessed with his safety. This would perhaps account for the restraints that the nurses had applied, preventing her from leaving her bed.

I was summoned, in my new capacity as a noble of Jasper Cove, to a special court meeting. I do not know when I made that transition, since Alec has not yet discussed the terms of our trading agreement, but apparently it has progressed far enough for me to be considered a noble. Court was strange, and somehow, uninformative. A lot was said, but, for me anyway, little was understood. Alec explained something of the nature of existence in Jasper Cove, about four entities known as the consorts – at least, I think that is what he said – and how, between them, they achieve the balance that is necessary for Jasper Cove to exist. A curious situation, I thought, and not one I recognised from any mythology familiar to me. One of the consorts is missing; having been dragged off to be something significant in the Seelie Court, and the Hunter was supposed to take that place. I must confess I did not quite understand much of what he was saying other than that the need of the Hunter to hunt is balanced by the White Stag, which can always be hunted, but never caught. I regret that my contribution was purely to pass on Aoibheann’s concerns for the safety of the White Stag. I later relayed to Aoibheann the story, as I understood it, and that the stag should be safe because he is necessary to the balance. She remained unconvinced and determined to see the king herself.

A masked ball was held at the castle, but I regret I did not feel up to socialising, so I made only a token appearance. I must recount, however, that it was a revelation to see Gwyn dressed up in her finery. She does scrub up well. Aoibheann was also there, dressed very finely, or was she? For some inexplicable reason, in the days following, she was most insistent that she had not been at the party, and that nobody should say otherwise. This last, I do not understand, but then, there is much about Aoibheann that I do not understand of late.

On one of the days after the ball, Sophia came in. I would have liked to speak with her privately, concerning our mutual connection to Vyktorya, but it was not to be, since Aoibheann was hovering. She had, as she had previously, an Irish coffee, but while I was serving it, she asked if we could perhaps meet for coffee and a chat at some point, while slipping me a quick note suggesting we meet at her camp site in the woods. I am sure that she meant no more than that, but Aoibheann was outraged with me, accusing me of all sorts of immoral and wanton behaviour. She apparently took Sophia’s intent to be courting me, and how dare I encourage her when I am already courting Lalla? I am afraid I was less than patient with her, telling her that my morals were none of her business. I know that she can be somewhat prudish when it comes to interactions between men and women, but even so, this seemed unnecessarily dramatic. I later had a conversation with Brigitte, who said she had been trying to explain things a little better to Aoibheann, so maybe I won’t be lectured again.

Perhaps it reflects a lack in me. For all that I appear sociable and outgoing and confident with the ladies, I am really quite a shy person. I am also, apparently, extremely dense when it comes to my interactions with the ladies. I have been told that more than one lady of my acquaintance has felt more for me than I had imagined or even noticed and my apparent indifference has left a trail of sighs and broken hearts in my path. It could, I suppose, be a matter of my own self-esteem, in so far as it doesn’t occur to me that I might be attractive to others. Perhaps I should pay more attention, or ask one of my more worldly-wise friends, for I seem quite incapable of noticing when somebody does take an interest in me. I am not quite sure whom I should ask though. Gwyn is quite worldly and the closest I have to a confidant, but she is young, and asking a young lady advice in such things could be prone to misinterpretation. I do not know Cristof well enough, and I have some doubts about his views on the matters of love. I suppose there is always Brigitte. She knows me as well as anybody here, and given her preferences, there is unlikely to be any misunderstanding.

Meanwhile, of course, the big news, for the whole of Jasper Cove, is that the queen has given birth. Much, I am sure, to the king’s dealight, it was a boy, and as predicted in the tavern, is to be named Malachai. I went to visit the queen and child at the infirmary. It was hard to not contrast the situation with the birth of my own son, but for the sake of others’ feelings, I quashed my own memories. Which, to be honest, was not that hard, especially as princess Ember was looking so determined, and it has to be said, adorable, holding the baby so proudly. I look forward to whatever naming ceremony or other caelebration that their might be.

There is much more, I am sure, but I will close for now. Last night I had a very strange conversation with Neelam, our new bar-person. She appears and acts like a living being, yet is self-admittedly an artificial construct, a machine. Her explanation of this, which she gave just as I came off shift was something I found most intriguing, and somehow, disturbing – that a machine, a simulacrum of a living being, is somehow considered the height of human evolution. A most strange thought indeed.

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