There is a curious sense of dislocation when you are lost in time. Being lost physically is something that rarely happens to me, my curious inability to find my way from the Underhill to Val’s den nothwithstanding, but I can understand it, especially when I am at sea and out of sight of land. Being adrift in time is harder to comprehend. The question “when am I?” is not one that comes easily to mind, and is much harder to answer. I know I come from what I called the late 19th century. I know that Gwyn comes from the 20th century, which I can sort of comprehend, since I may well have lived to see that century, if not the part she was born in. I can comprehend the time that Aoibheann comes from, since I am a student of history, even if the history I knew of her time did not include rampaging dragons. But, when I am now, I cannot fathom. I think, but do not know for sure, that Jasper Cove existed more or less contemporaneously with the present day of Gwyn’s time, i.e. the 21st century. If my meeting with the Phoenix a while ago is to be believed, that time is 500 years in the future, which puts me somewhere between the Tudor and Elizabethan eras. If I were to go on the evidence of the castle that used to stand on this hill, then I would say I was several hundred years before then. That would also be in accord with my estimation of the level of technology here, but I don’t know if that is a fair assessment. There is magic here. If there had been magic in what I used to think of as reality – the reality I knew before I was changed – would we have had to develop technology? Would we have invented the steam engine if we had the ability to achieve the same ends with a wave of a wand? I think that is a question that I shall ponder anon. The question of when remains unanswered, but, in a way, it does not matter, and is unlikely to matter until such time as I return to that reality, when the problem will be working out when I am then.
One thing about being lost in time is having to deal with curious anachronisms. Gwyn, Aoibheann and I often confound each other with references that the others do not understand. Gwyn’s references to the mysterious Internet, movies and television, for example. The other day, it was turkeys. Well, I say the other day, but by my estimate, it was about three weeks ago. I had this very strange dream that Gwyn and Aoibheann and I had been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner with Alec and Isabella and the girls. I had gone down to the tavern to spend some time catching up on the diary and get a drink or two. Aoibheann was there, so I got her a drink, and one for Lucis who turned up while we were talking. I mentioned the dream about a turkey dinner to Aoibheann, totally forgetting that the turkey would not have been known in her time period. I explained to her that a turkey was basically something like an extremely overgrown chicken that was often eaten for celebratory meals, saying that it wasn’t introduced to Europe until after her time.
Lucis chipped in with a very potted summary of the history of the Americas. Something about how the turkey came from the New World, which is across a great ocean from Europe, adding that in the land they came from, there were great beasts called bison and a magnificent breed of men, except that the plague killed many of them and now men from Europe prevailed, who spread iron roads and steam trains across the lands of the original inhabitants. Now some might call that a pretty cavalier description of the colonisation of the Americas, but I thought it quite an apt description and told Lucis that it was an excellent summary of 400 years of history. For Aoibheann’s benefit, I explained that a bison was like a very large cow. She seemed rather amused by this, calling the place a land of giants.
I mentioned that I had seen Alec the previous evening and how he had been concerned about her, worrying that he may have done something to upset her. I think I touched on a sore point, judging by the way she gripped the arms of the chair. “Alec,” she said, emphasising the name, “knows exactly what he has done to upset me.” And with that, she gave her attention to the glass of mead I had bought for her, clearly not wanting to talk about it any more. I told her I wouldn’t press her on the subject, saying that I had issues of my own with Alec after the incident at the tree. I decided to change the subject and asked if she was able to tell me what she wanted the meeting with Faermorn for, in case she asked before agreeing to the meeting. She told me that she wanted her help with something to do with the Huntsman, thinking that she might better understand him. She didn’t want to appear too desperate though and had no idea what she might be able to offer in exchange.
I agreed that her majesty likely knew as much as anybody about the Huntsman, aside from maybe Braeden. The latter, I said, was probably less reliable. At least with the queen, you would know that she couldn’t lie, which is more than could be said for Braeden. I said that I would tell her majesty that this was the subject of the meeting, which might ease things a little. As to what would be wanted in exchange, I suggested she waited to see what the queen asked, if anything, rather than making any offers. Aoibheann looked relieved, but nervous at the same time, as though she was dreading the meeting. She started to say something, but just stuttered. I asked her what was on her mind. Eventually she blurted out that she wasn’t sure if she was smart enough to find her way out of all of her problems, since she wasn’t smart enough to avoid them in the first place. I smiled at her and told her the old joke about how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time. The same was true of her problems, I told her, they couldn’t all be solved in one fell swoop, and so we would have to work at them one at a time. I told her that I would help, as would Gwyn and Valene, if we could. She need only ask.
I had to leave her then, as I had agreed to meet with some of Maric’s men about the foraging. I left her with the suggestion that there was little point in worrying too much, as it seldom achieves anything. I told her that sometimes, when I have a lot on my mind that I can’t solve, I get up and write the problems down, and let the paper worry about them. It sounded a bit silly when I said it, but, it sometimes works for me, so maybe it would work for her. She thanked me, and as I departed, she was getting another drink from Hal. Hopefully she won’t have too many of them, and if she does, then I’ve found that a surfeit of mead is easier on the head the next day than a surfeit of gin. Perhaps it will be the same for her.