They say time runs differently in the faerie realms. Perhaps that is so. I know from my experience in Jasper Cove and here in Ashmourne Wylds that time bears no semblance to that of the world I thought I knew. Even within Ashmourne’s own time-frame, which one would hope is at least internally self-consistent; there are occasions when I cannot account for the passage of time. Perhaps I have been sleeping too much again, or perhaps I have lost the use of my internal body clock, if such a thing even exists. I should start to observe the sun and the stars again. Once, I could tell the time reasonably well from the height of the sun, and even have a fair idea of the season.  All I know now is that the days are getting longer, which suggests we are past the winter solstice and into a new year. There were no Christmas decorations that I noticed. Whatever else Alec may be, he did at least think to provide those back at the Lucky Leaf.  Of course, that did not give an absolute date, but at least gave some clue. Once, I could keep track simply from the entries here in my diary, but of late, even those have fallen behind, and coupled with those times when I feel that I have slept, or otherwise missed days at a time, I no longer have an absolute yardstick. I suppose, if I were to check back to when I last had a reasonably accurate reference, maybe one of Alec’s voyages, and extrapolate from that using the moon’s phases, I could get some idea. That is assuming, of course, that we have the same moon here. Maybe I should start by timing its phases. If those correspond to the ones I know, then maybe I will have some method of working out when I am.

Given how behind I am, maybe I should summarise what I can remember of recent times, and try to get back to daily updates to my diary, even if there is little of note to record. I don’t know why I have fallen behind. I have been doing this since I was 12 years old, which is some 30 years ago, I think, so it should be habit by now.

What has befallen of late?

I have not seen Gwyn in some time. My contacts within the sithen tell me that she is fine, but tied up with sithen business. Much as I miss her, I do not want to push things with Blaise or any of his officers, in case my free pass into the sithen is revoked.

Orie has proved himself useful, keeping busy with the gathering of wood for the village. He clearly heeded my advice regarding the tree people and has only been gathering that which was naturally shed.  I instructed Hal to make sure that he gets fed. He is also going to make himself useful by hunting and fishing. The former, he will need some help with, as he has not used a bow in some time. I made arrangements for him to get some lessons from one of Maric’s men, though Giada also offered to help. I am sure he would enjoy that more, but I feel a little reluctant, given his rather odd attitude to women. On the other hand, Giada once ran the Ten Bells pub back in London, and frequently had to deal with rowdy drunks and the like. An over-enthusiastic soldier should prove no problem.

I made a notice-board to put up by the tavern entrance, outlining the laws that Maric has laid down regarding the conduct of all those within the village. I am not used to working with paints, but I was quite pleased at how it turned out. I borrowed the wolf symbol from the tavern sign and used the colours that Maric seems to favour – a gold wolf on a red background. Or, I suppose I could say, gules, a wolf rampant or, if I remember my heraldry correctly. I have made up the lists of those entitled to forage and between Aoibheann and I, we are making up badges for them to wear, to prove that they are authorised foragers. The badge design will be the same as the background I used for the notice-board. I have included Orie, or Horace as he is more properly known, on the foraging lists as he seems quite capable and including him should prevent any hostile action from the Seelie or Unseelie guards, which might be something he would react badly to.  Helene and Aoibheann will be on there too, though I might make sure that they are paired together in the hope that Helene can teach Aoibheann the difference between edible plants and poisonous once.

I am slowly getting the accounts into order. I don’t know what school of accounting Ose attended, but his methods are very different from those I learned. Nonetheless, I am slowly getting them into order.  I’ve been dressing up in my more formal attire of late, which has met with Maric’s approval. Once I have gained his trust a little more, I will see if I cannot get him to relax the dress code and only wear formals when required. He has given me access to the records, the vaults and the stores. I know there is more, from hints he has dropped, but I fear that gaining access to those would require a blood bond, something I am not, as yet, prepared to enter into.

Maric has expressed interest in joining one of the foraging parties to see more of the island, though at Aoibheann’s insistence, he said he would disguise himself. Aoibheann’s concern for him is touching, but I wonder if that is because she has entered into the bond with him, or out of genuine concern. He likewise seems fond of her and concerned for her safety, putting her into my charge when he is away from the castle.

Aiobheann has finally finished reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  I shall have to chat to her some times, to see what she made of it. Given the strange world she finds herself in, I am sure she can relate to Alice’s situation.

I need to meet with Lady Twilight to discuss the trade arrangements with the Seelie Court, or at least, determine if she has already made the arrangements directly with Maric, as I saw them talking together. I must also find Galyanna and try to set up the meeting with Vedis. It would be good to see her again. There is much to do, and the weight of responsibilities weighs heavily on me at times, especially of late, when I am missing the ones I love – Gwyn and Valene. I do hope that I will be able to spend time with them soon. I miss them so much.

 Just who is this Alice person anyway?


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