I have never really considered paradox as a quantifiable thing. I know about paradoxes, obviously. Old Man Matterson, back at ‘The Math’ was fond of wasting half our Greek lessons debating such things as Zeno’s Paradox and the Epimenides Paradox. Between that and reading to us from some of the ‘racier’ Greek plays, it is a wonder that we learned anything of the language. Maybe that is why I am having such a hard time reading this book of Maric’s about Gods and Demons.
Now, I have to consider a different sort of paradox. That maybe isn’t the right word, but I have yet to come up with a better one. And I have Alec to thank for it. We touched on the idea briefly, when he was explaining how my being in Jasper Cove and subsequently, Ashmourne Wylds, broke the rules of how things operate, hence there having to be some costs to balance it. He didn’t specify what those costs were, and maybe I will never know what, and who had to pay them. Perhaps I should find out. Now that I am freed from my anchor, and can go any place, any time, the chances are that I will be violating those rules even more. I could potentially, be in two places at once, though he did warn me about “meeting myself”. I suspect that would be a paradox too far.
These thoughts came about as a result of a conversation with Gwyn. She turned up at the cottage again, blessedly interrupting me from my studies of Gods and Demons. After a welcoming hug and kiss, she admitted she wasn’t in the best mood for rescuing me from trying to read ancient Greek. The sithen was becoming depressingly empty, with what few of the Seelie that remained all choosing to go into the tree. I commented that I had always thought that the fae went off on a ship into the west or something.
Gwyn said that she did not know about the ship. Perhaps there was one on the far side of wherever the tree led. She said that we should also try to get away, anywhere, just for a break. Her break with Isabella had done her the world of good. I told her that Alec had not yet trained me in the art of realm-hopping, certainly not in the art of getting to wherever with my clothes intact. However, I would like to go and see Wren again; saying that Alec had said this would be a good idea. Given that I didn’t want to end up on a New York roof without my clothes, where did she suggest we go?
She hadn’t thought that far ahead. Somewhere that wasn’t falling apart was all she had in mind. She acknowledged that travelling with me might need more planning. She can glamour clothing, I can’t. Again, she fingered the necklace and wondered aloud about the price of her gift, even though Isabella had not mentioned one. I told her that Alec hadn’t said anything to me about it either. I explained briefly about now being my own anchor and how I would have to be careful in my travels not to set up too much paradox. She joked about there being rules about not visiting your own future, not stepping in butterflies in dinosaur times and not killing your own grandfather.
We spoke for a while about what rules there might be, speculating that visiting the past was more risky, given the possibility of changing things that had already happened. Visiting the future had the problem of not knowing what it was, and once that is known, there were risks associated with bring that knowledge back to, wherever the present happens to be. Plus, there is the additional complication that my present is her past. At least that makes things simple if we visit the time she knew, since she does know what that is like. Since we were talking of rules, I wondered what would and wouldn’t be breaking the rules. I wondered if I might be able to visit my time period, sell the few remaining Midori I had and invest that in a savings scheme, then, go forward to Gwyn’s time and live on the proceeds of that investment. She laughed and said that she hadn’t thought that we could use our powers for financial gain, though she did wonder if that was how Alec and Isabella managed to live so well. I wasn’t so sure on that, since the trading agreement I had made with Alec was tied to a subsidiary of Jasper Cove in Louisiana in 1891, so maybe there were some rules. On the other hand, that could have been for my benefit, since I didn’t have my own anchor at the time, so any trading I did in the so-called real world would have to have been in my timeline.
As we were chatting, my eyes fell on my diary, lying on the bed, where I had been writing in it. I brought up the matter of the Huntsman and the Seelie Sithen again. Since part of the Huntsman was Llwyd, then the sithen was home to him. Perhaps, I said, we should think about letting him in. Gwyn had been thinking the same thing, but then she asked about the Unseelie side, having felt some strange things from there and asked if I knew what they were doing about the forthcoming doom. I told her about my meeting with Faermorn and what had passed, saying that I had not asked about such things, for I didn’t want to burden her with unhappy thoughts. Gwyn was pleased that I had been able to offer comfort, but felt that Faermorn might not accept any overtures from herself because of her anger at the Huntsman and his fusion with Llwyd. I reassured her that she had no need to worry about Faermorn’s regard for her. We spoke a little more about what we could do regarding the Huntsman and decided we really needed to consult with Aoibheann. Without her on board, any ideas we might have were as good as useless. With that in mind, we retired to bed.
The following evening, I did run into Aoibheann, but, as circumstances would have it, we didn’t really get a chance to talk about the Huntsman. First, I told her that I had seen Alec. She seemed deep in thought, but then asked if I was different now. I said I didn’t feel any different, but that Alec had said I was, and would be able to do different things but I hadn’t tried any of them until he had time to teach me. I asked about her experience. She claimed that she hadn’t been given any magical powers. She didn’t seem particularly bothered by that, but did seem sad about something else. She told me that I didn’t need to be different, just because I did different things. I smiled and reassured her that I was definitely still me, thinking to myself that perhaps I was even more me now. I mentioned what he had said about removing the Boatman from Ardan, but before we could say any more, there was a very strange feeling that rushed over me, as though something big was happening on the supernatural level. From Aoibheann’s face, she had felt something too. I looked around, testing the area with my new-found senses, but could not detect anything hostile. I said that something odd had happened, but that there didn’t seem to be anything dangerous in the vicinity.
I started to tell her about my visit to Faermorn and passed on her regards, saying that I was sure that Aoibheann would be welcomed if she wanted to visit. She told me she wanted to give something to Faermorn, but before she did so, she wanted to make sure Ardan was unharmed. I think she feared that whatever the supernatural feeling had been might have had something to do with her tree. She wanted to make sure that the tree was unharmed.
Maric appeared out of the gloom, greeting us both fondly, but with that extra fondness I had come to notice now when he spoke to Aoibheann. Just as he was greeting us, Gwyn appeared also, and was likewise greeted. I hugged her close and asked if either of them had felt the rush of strangeness. Gwyn took my hand and said that she had seen something. From the way she was throbbing with her fae powers, I assumed she meant in her capacity as a seer. A storm was coming, she told us, and she did not know if we could escape this one. Aoibheann was gripping Maric’s hand tightly, though he showed no sign of pain. She asked Gwyn if Ardan was all right, a question that was echoed by Maric. I could tell through the bond that he was very aware of Gwyn’s power and there was something else, something alien in the background, which, rather strangely, seemed to be something to do with the roses.
Gwyn told us more of her vision – a boiling black sky with all the forests running before it, Aerodine included. She could not detect any specific danger to Ardan in it. There was something else, she said, a golden light coming from something or someone, somebody who was hurt and made only of light. She didn’t want to speculate too much, but said that whatever it was, felt like hope. Even so, she said, all the creatures, all the fae, all the forest dwellers were running.
Aoibheann was not reassured by all this and started to pull away from Maric, clearly intending to go to Ardan and see for herself that he was unharmed. Maric, after a moment’s resistance, trying to at least slow her down, went with her, calling back to us that we had prepared as best we could to ride out the storm. With that and a request to speak to Valene one more time, he was gone, presumably taking Aoibheann down to the tree.
I almost thought to follow in case there was any danger, but changed my mind. Aoibheann was in safe hands, and besides, they probably deserved some alone time. Besides, Maric had clearly left the village in my charge, so I couldn’t leave it. I said as much to Gwyn and kissed her. Gwyn called after the both of them, telling Aoibheann to think of her if she ever felt scared or threatened and she would know. She also warned Maric to take care of Aoibheann. She was clearly a little worried about them, but came willingly enough into my embrace. She asked me if I knew what they did in New Orleans when they were waiting for a hurricane. I knew of the city, but not much about it, so I couldn’t really say. I suggested that they maybe found somebody to blame for it, hid in the cellars and maybe got roaring drunk. She grinned at me and told me that the last one was correct, with the addition of then fucking each other senseless, apparently, she said, resulting in ‘hurricane babies’.
I smiled and claimed that it would take too long to do that for either of us, both having quite a large helping of sense. I was definitely not impressed with the idea of babies, not that I imagined I was capable of conceiving one. I did think, for a wild moment, that maybe we could go to New Orleans, if Alec had trained me. Gwyn liked the idea but reality snuck in. I would be feeling guilty, she said, and would want to come back and do my duties in the village before we had even gotten started. I did speculate that maybe, given that time was somewhat fluid, as I understood it, in these travels, we could go and visit, and get back only five minutes after we left. Though, I suspected that would be breaking the rules. Instead, I suggested that we liberate some of Maric’s wine and take it back to my humble abode. She could always take me back to New Orleans some other time.