Some day, I will have to sit down and try to work out when I am. Of course, I may be no-when, if that is even a word. This is, after all, faerie, so it may not have any connection to the time-stream I knew. On the other hand, since the fae have been known to intervene in human affairs, they must insert themselves somewhen. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter, except when people ask when I am or when we are. Sophia is just one of those who have asked that question.
I was taking a brief break in the tavern, having dealt with my steward duties for the day. Maric came in, looking more cheerful than he has lately, and asked how things were. I do wish he wouldn’t keep asking if ALL is well. I can’t answer that question. I told him that things seemed to be quiet in the village, nobody was actively trying to kill me and that I had been able to spend quality time with Gwyn, so in general, I felt that things are good, but did not feel qualified to state that ALL was good. He sat down and joined me for a drink, so I took the opportunity to suggest the idea of establishing emergency drills for the village and training a few of the villagers as marshals. That way, I suggested, all we would need to do is to ring a big bell in, say, a cadence of three rings and a pause, and everybody would know it was time to get the hell out of their cottages and into the cellars. A cadence of two and pause might mean that the guards had to defend the perimeter. I explained that we had fire drills and such like on board ship, so that everybody knew what to do in an emergency.
He seemed much impressed with the suggestion and told me to go ahead and start implementing it, once I had everything drafted. He spoke of the need to start training more of the villagers, since we had lost almost a third of the guard in the recent skirmishes. He also spoke of the need to strengthen our defences, fortifying the gate and such like. He then said there were some things he needed to show me, when we had time.
Whatever they were, we didn’t get the chance to discuss, since Sophia arrived and Maric went into full, greetings lovely lady mode, offering her his seat and suchlike. I asked if her talk with Orie had triggered any useful memories. She said that they had been having a nice long chat, and had gone fishing for crawdaddies, whatever those might be. Some things were starting to come back about living there, and I got the feeling that she was starting to remember the less places there. I noticed her accent was becoming stronger, probably because she had been talking to somebody from the same area. She took the seat Maric offered and huddled in front of the fire, complaining it was awfully cold and damp in these parts, and asking if it ever got warmer.
He, like me, told her that it was often overcast in the village, but weather got nicer outside of it. I told her that so far as I was able to tell, from having kept a diary, it was March, so hopefully, the weather would start to improve with the spring. I added my hope that with the application of effort and diplomacy, we would soon be able to venture outside the village in safety. I then told her some of my memories of Richmond – the nicer bits, such as where I had gone to the piano recital, and the less nice bits around the docks, explaining that these were the places I knew best, having been purser on a merchant ship.
She commented that maybe she had lived near the docks. The thought then struck me that maybe; there were some memories of her times in Richmond that she didn’t want to access. The Sophia I had known before had come to terms with the murkier parts of her past, but, to this Sophia, those memories might come as a shock. I kept my reaction from my face, but I made a note that I must speak with her soon and at least pave the way for her being able to deal with those memories. She mentioned another memory, of sitting in a posh room, a library perhaps, reading. That gave me hope, supposing it to be a memory of her time with Tory. She said something about Orie being an interesting person to talk to, and as she did so, became a little tense. I don’t know why, unless Orie had said something to her about my nature, or Maric’s. Except, so far as I know, I hadn’t revealed my nature to him, nor Maric’s, so unless Maric or somebody else had told him something, I don’t know how he could have known.
I responded that he was an interesting fellow, but, to my mind anyway, a little too keen on solving all problems with his trusty rifle, whereas I preferred the more diplomatic approach. Maric, from his expression, seemed to agree with me. He then departed, having business to attend to. Sophia watched him go, a curious expression on her face, and she said something about him being oddly familiar to her. That, I could not answer, for I was sure that she had disappeared before Maric arrived in this land. I will have to check my diaries to be sure. Either that, or she is picking up on his vampiric nature, and that is familiar because of Tory. She contemplated her drink for a few moments, giving me time to pay attention to a message that Maric was sending me – that he had to deal with something with Aoibheann, but he needed to teach me some of the thing that could be done with something he called blood mastery. I was slightly worried about his last comment, saying that he needed me to be strong, in case I should have to lead this place if need be.
Sophia then asked me what year it was here. The sisters at the convent had told her it was 1744, whereas she was more of the opinion it was close to the end of the 19th century. I had to laugh at that question, for it has often been on my mind. I told her things would be a lot less confusing if I knew the answer to that. I waved at Hal to bring me more rum while I explained. I told her I had been born in 1853, and that the last concrete year I had known was 1891, which was three, possible four years ago, in terms of my personal experience, counting the days in my diary. Whereas, so far as Gwyn was concerned, for example, the last year she had known was 2012, and that was a couple of years ago for her. Orie, so far as I remembered his story, had arrived here from 1916 or thereabouts. On the other hand, I said, I had spoken with a phoenix here in Ashmourne that I had previously met in Jasper Cove, but according to him, that was 500 years in the future, so we could possibly be somewhere around the 15th or 16th century.
Not surprisingly, she looked a little bemused by this and told me that she thought that she might have been born in 1875, but, she said, here, it probably didn’t matter much what year it was. I nodded and told her that from what I knew of Tory’s age and her own, that was very likely the correct year for her. She then returned to the subject of the weather and asked if there was anywhere she could get a scarf, or at least, the materials to make one. That question, at least, I could answer; so I took her up to the tailor’s shop above the tavern. There she selected some yarn and accoutrements and took herself, rather speedily, I thought, to her cottage to start knitting.
A while later, I was sitting by the fire back downstairs when Orie came in. I tried to greet him pleasantly with a “good evening” and “how are you?” He was clearly still in a hostile mood, for he replied that he was fine, but who was to say what kind of an evening it was. I kept my temper and said that we were not currently under attack, plans for organising the village’s defences were proceeding well and generally, things were quiet. That, to me, was a good evening. Any evening I didn’t have to get my weapon out was a good evening, so far as I was concerned. Just then, Gwyn appeared saying that she didn’t traverse time and space and get turned into a faerie princess just to have her boyfriend spend all night in the pub. I turned and smiled, adding, to Orie, that now my love was here, it had turned into an excellent evening. He just grumbled something about some people having all the luck.
Gwyn replied that she had luck in spades. She offered her hand and told me that my ferry to the otherworld had long gone, but she could offer me some interesting diversions. I told Orie that luck had nothing to do with it. Anyway, I told him, you seem to be favoured by both Helene and Sophia, and that I would have considered that as pretty good fortune.
He did not seem impressed, claiming that he did not need luck. But, he said, he didn’t care about companionship, he just wanted out of this ‘shit hole’ as he put it. Gwyn commented that she had felt the same way when she arrived, saying it was a rough transition. For myself, I said I was sorry he was unhappy, but that things could get better, and that I would rather be here than in a foxhole being shelled. I said I didn’t know if it was possible for him to return to his own place and time, which, I had to admit was a lie, if what Valene tells me about the Shadowroads is true, but if it was, I would help him if that was what he wanted, even if I would rather he stay, since we needed his expertise. He was not to be swayed. We could enjoy our idle time, he said, but he was going back to the island where people didn’t pretend that everything hadn’t gone to shit. At least in his foxhole, he said, he could accept that he was going to die, but here, even that was denied him, since people could be raised from the dead here, so he could never get any rest. With that, he grabbed his bottle and stomped off.
There was not much else I could say to help him. Gwyn was more phlegmatic, saying that you can’t fix everybody. She said we should concentrate on taking care of each other, or, in her words, “Take a girl to bed, you posh fuck.” I had no argument with that, and so I did.