Once again, I find that I have been neglecting my diary. This is not the first time. Only the most dedicated of diarists would manage to do so for thirty odd years without a break. This is, however, the first time that I have neglected it simply because I lacked the desire to pick up a pen. My duties as steward seem to have included an awful lot of writing of late, and by the time I return to my abode, I have found myself sick of putting pen to paper. My diary deals with words rather than figures, but even so, those times I have picked up my pen, my brain tries to organise the words into columns and add them up. This is not conducive to good writing. I have heard, from Gwyn and Wren that in their time, my future, there are machines that can do the adding up, and machines that greatly speed the process of writing, far more so than the typing machines that I had seen in the offices of Haskins Shipping. Even so, I do not know if I would still have the energy to put fingers to what I seem to recall was called the keyboard.
I have not been able to spend time with Gwyn either, partly because I have been so busy, and partly because she is so tied up with sithen work of late. That might also account for the lack of energy and feeling cranky on occasions. More than one night has seen me with only a glass of rum as my night-time companion. I have no doubt that there are ladies among the villagers who would share my bed, but that is not who I am any more. Of course, this island lacks a whorehouse, but even if it did not, I doubt that I would be a patron, save as a place to drink, much as I was a regular visitor to Fiendish Pleasures while only occasionally partaking of the services available therein.
Fiendish Pleasures, and times spent there, have been on my mind these last few days, since Vedis finally made an appearance in the village, and I was able to introduce her to Maric. That was an interesting evening.
It started with Aoibheann turning up in the tavern in her rather fetching evening wear. When I remarked upon this, she said that she was only wearing it because she was still trying to get the bloodstains out of her other dress. I wasn’t sure if I dared ask, but I did so anyway. I did not entirely understand all that happened, but it appears that Aerodine was bringing a special tear of some sort, which may or may not have had something to do with the Huntsman/Llwyd situation, Umbra tried to steal it, and there was a fight. Horace got involved somehow, but Galyanna was there and was able to rescue them and heal them. I don’t know what happened to the tear. Somehow in the process, Lucis was able to drive Umbra out, and so has regained mastery of her own body. The intervention of Galyanna struck me as odd, as I had thought that Umbra had allied herself with the demons, but apparently, I was wrong.
Maric arrived while this tale was being related, so I brought him up to speed. Naturally he adopted a very protective stance towards Aoibheann, but more interestingly, she seemed almost equally protective of him. I wonder if this means she did accept his offer. I carried on, almost forgetting that Maric was there, suggesting that the guards be instructed that Umbra was not welcome in the village, warning that it might be inadvisable for them to attempt to detain her without assistance; I also suggested that we contact Galyanna to find out more about what went on. I stopped, realising that I was probably overstepping my bounds and apologised to Maric. He told me there was no need to apologise, since I was doing exactly what he wanted of me. He agreed with my actions, adding that Umbra was henceforth exiled from Mysthaven.
Just as we were saying this, I looked up and saw Umbra entering the tavern and running towards Aoibheann. I didn’t have time to think, I just rose to my feet and commanded her to stop and hold her positions. I didn’t even stop to notice that her appearance was much more like that of Lucis when I first met her than as she had appeared as Umbra. I also didn’t stop to wonder if my powers still worked while I was in this strange state of living. Apparently, they do since she did indeed freeze. Maric also jumped to his feet to seize her. For a moment, I saw the anger in his eyes, but he remained apparently calm, asking the creature to speak. Oddly, Aoibheann was the first to speak in her defence, saying that the appearance was different and that this could be Lucis rather than Umbra. I maintained my command on her and ordered her to speak truthfully if she was Lucis or Umbra, explaining on the side to Maric about her dual nature.
She replied that she was Lucis, and that the shadow that had possessed her, Umbra, was now gone, partly thanks to the efforts of Aoibheann. Maric and I both demanded an explanation, Maric’s demand including the warning that her life depended on her answer. She explained that Umbra was gone to nothing, completely driven out, and how it was Aoibheann’s help that had enabled her to drive out her possessor. So far as I could tell, she spoke the truth. Maric seemed to think so too, as her released his hold upon her.
Any further discussion on the matter was interrupted by the Queen of Lust herself, Vedis, who entered the tavern, unusually without Galyanna in attendance. She looked much as I had known her back in London, no longer sporting the serpent body that I had seen before in the tavern in Cristof’s castle. I made the appropriate formal introductions to Maric, adding that we might not necessarily need Galyanna now that her queen was here.
Vedis came in, radiating her usual sensuality, as gracious and charming as ever, giving Maric her best smile. She also seemed pleased to see me, offering me a kiss to the cheek and wrapping an arm round me. I was mildly surprised as we had never been particularly close before, but did not react. In a strange way, I trusted her, even when she started to caress me with the tentacles. Maric clearly noticed this familiarity even if he didn’t react. That will take some explaining later, I am sure. His attention was more focussed on being the gracious host and reacting to the formal greetings. I then explained to Vedis that I was steward and emissary to Maric, hence my requesting a meeting to discuss more formal relations between the village and her realm. She complimented me on my position and, in passing, my change of hairstyle. That, I told her was Valene’s fault, explaining about the broken hair bands. She nodded approval of that and turned her attention to the more formal business before us, making the appropriate responses to Maric’s greetings.
Maric invited us all to take our ease at the table so that we might discuss matters more comfortably. I noted with mild amusement that Aoibheann got even more protective of Maric when she saw the way Vedis looked at him, sliding an almost possessive arm around him. Of course, she has less experience of Vedis than I do, so perhaps doesn’t realise that she always looks like that at people. We sat down and began discussing the matter of formal relations between the village and the demon realm, plus the matter of those refugees from the previous castle who were still dwelling there. Vedis was a little curious about how long we had been here, so I gave her a very brief, potted history of things that had occurred since the castle siege. I also laid out the basic reasons we wanted to arrange some kind of treaty. Having arranged that, I had to take my leave of them as I had business elsewhere in the village. I was sure that Maric was more than capable of diplomatic discussions. After all, he’s had a couple of thousand years to practice.