That eminent natural philosopher, Michael Faraday, once wrote that “experiment is the best test”. Though I am not a scientist myself, I can appreciate the sentiment. In more mundane terms, one might say “you don’t know until you try”. I was mightily gratified to find that Aoibheann, who has never heard of Michael Faraday, nevertheless managed to invoke his spirit in her attempts to discover what effects, if any, the mists that surround this village have.
I was taking a relaxing walk around the village when I encountered Aoibheann in the graveyard beside the castle. She was staring at the gravestones, evidently deep in thought. I asked her if she was contemplating mortality or, like me, just taking some fresh air. She told me that she had been trying to make out the dates on the gravestones, in the hope of a clue as to what year the current present was. Then, in the manner of one imparting a secret, she told me that Alec had once taken her to the future, and they had visited a graveyard, where she had walked on the graves of people who would be born 500 years after she should have died. She was wondering if these graves were like those.
I was intrigued by this, having only very recently considered similar questions regarding the when of now. I reiterated the thoughts I had had only a few days before, trying to work out when, relative to the now I used to know, the current present was. I mused on what the phoenix had said about our meeting in Jasper Cove not having happened yet, which meant that then was 400 years away or so from the current now. That would be some few hundred years before I would be born and possibly some time after Aoibheann would be born, so it was possible she was standing on graves of people that would be born after she died. It was too confusing, I told her, and gave me a headache even thinking about it.
She agreed and said that she seemed to have been doing a lot of thinking lately. I was fairly sure I knew what she had been thinking about – Llwyd and the Huntsman, but then she told me that she had been thinking, and experimenting, to try to determine the nature of the mists. This, I guessed, harked back to her idea about time changing in the mists and wondering if she could exploit this to grow crops quickly. She had even written a report for Maric, she said. I was even more intrigued by that concept, knowing her normal level of writing and asked if I might see it at some point. She said she could probably write it out again, or maybe Maric would let me see it.
Having gone over the calculations again in my head, the thought then occurred to me that my current now might be close to the birth of John Dee. I was thinking aloud and commented that we might be close to the time of Alec’s first face, wondering if he was able to travel back past his origins.
Aoibheann picked up on that, asking if she was older than Alec. That stumped me for a moment. I told her that was quite a complex question. It was likely, I told her, that her beginning happened before Alec’s, and long before mine. So, in some respects, she was older than Alec and older than me. On the other hand, she had experienced some 20 years of life, whereas I had experienced some 40 years of life, so in that respect, I was older than her. As for Alec, he likely had many more years experience than either of us. I reasonably sure about the latter, though I had no idea how many. If he had existed continually from that 16th century origin, then he definitely had more years experience than both of us combined. If, on the other hand, he had skipped some periods between incarnations…
Aoibheann, in her usual manner, managed to disrupt my train of thought by commenting that we didn’t even know if my year was the same as her year. Apparently, Alec had said something to her about different worlds taking different times to go around the sun, thus making time go faster or slower. As ever, her idiosyncratic logic threw me off track for a moment. I agreed that different worlds orbited the sun in different times, saying that were we back in my home land, I would be able to point out some of the other planets that were visible to the naked eye and tell her how long they took to go around. She and I, though, I told her, were both human (well, at least, had started out as human), and so far as I knew, came from the same world, experienced the same length of day and year. She was not to be deterred, pointing out that my world hadn’t had dragons, and my human might not be the same as her human, giving that my humans live ridiculously long lives compared to hers. I had to admit the point about dragons; although I did point out that dragons were part of the lore of almost all cultures on my world, so there might be some basis in truth for them. As to living longer, maybe it was because we didn’t get eaten by dragons so often.
Maric turned up at this point and greeted us in his usual gracious manner. I updated him on my efforts to set up the meeting with Faermorn, saying it was complicated by the influence of his majesty. I also told him I was getting the foraging parties organised and was thinking of deputising that to Helene, since she had the most experience. He was happy with that, but expressed concern, again, about the influence of the Unseelie king and the risk he might pose to himself and the village. I assured him that, as far as I knew, Faermorn’s word would suffice to keep us safe from him. For a man who has clearly been a warrior in his time, Maric does seem unusually cautious. But, I suppose when you have lived as long as he has, you are perhaps loath to take risks with it.
Aoibheann asked if he had read her report, and asked if I could see it. Maric called it a valiant effort and then handed it over to me to read. I read it with a smile on my face. In its own way, it was a masterpiece. And while her experiments were naïve and over-simplistic, I was touched to see that she had the basics down pat; that the spirit of scientific investigation was there, albeit in a very simple form.
She had clearly been trying to work out what, if any, effects the mists had on various objects. I complimented her on it, quoting Faraday’s comments on experimentation and telling her that she had the mind to be a scientist herself.
Anaylsist of Mist
A very scientific report by Aoibheann after studying the mist’s affects on varyos objects
Hipathhsis: Might come back all growed up.
Results: Unknown. Rope Severd
Hiperthasis:Grow moss on it.
Results: It came back broken.
Hyperthosis: Turn into diamonds.
Results: Nothing happened to it.
Hypathasis: It will turn into a baskylisk
Results: Inconcluesive. It escaped before tests could be conducted. Perhaps for the best.
Conclusion: I think the mist is normal mist, but there is a hungry bear covered in rose thorns in there.
Maric offered to show her around his library, and then looked at me and told me that I needed to look more befitting of my station, saying that if I had no objections, he would get some more appropriate clothing tailored for me. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. I was wearing the green outfit I like to think of as being my forester’s clothes. I told him my current clothing was comfortable, practical, and to my mind, perfectly suited for travelling around the island. I was not one to flaunt my status, I told him, however, that if he deemed it necessary for me to wear other clothes when on official business, I was more than happy to do so. Remembering Ose’s white suit, I did add the caveat that I would prefer some say in the clothing, as Ose’s style and mine were very different. He was agreeable to that, but was most insistent that I dress appropriately when representing him, since he believed that appearance could make the different between war and peace. I assured him that I would see what I had that would be more appropriate, until such time as the tailor could come up with something suitable. In the meanwhile, I asked if we could arrange a time when he could show me around the castle records and store-rooms etc. He promised he would do that soon.
Aoibheann wanted to know if she would have to dress differently. Maric said that whatever she chose was up to her, but that it might be better to dress up when presenting herself to the queen, again offering to have the tailor make something suitable. While they were talking about that, I noticed a movement in the trees. It was Lucis, or possibly Umbra, since there seems to be no way to tell them apart. Whatever she was looking for, she clearly didn’t find it, as she took to the wing and flew away. Aoibheann looked quite worried by this and started trying to get Maric to move back inside the castle, asking him to promise not to make any bargains with the winged woman.
What, if anything, he said about that, I did not hear, as I realised I was late visiting Gwyn, and so made my excuses and left them to it. At least Gwyn likes the way I dress. Maybe I should ask her advice, as she has much better fashion sense than me.
(Report image and text from the very wonderful person who plays Aoibheann so well – go read her diary some time)