Would the real Galyanna please stand up? Of course, there is only one Galyanna, but given the recent deception by Kitori, you can’t be too careful. Fortunately, the real one knows enough things, and knows me well enough to be able to prove herself.

I had asked the guards to be on the look out for her, so I was notified as soon as she appeared in the village. I abandoned my paperwork for the now and went down to see her. It looked like enough to the Galyanna I knew, but then, so had Kitori when she came in disguise. The presence of Kuro was a strong indication that it was the real one, but nevertheless, I asked her to tell me something only the real Galyanna would know. Just as I did so, Maric arrived, equally curious as to her identity, or so he indicated through the mental link.

She looked at me, evidently a little confused by my question. She said it was a curious question and then asked after the cuffs that Gwyn had bought for me. That was sufficient proof for me, and I so advised Maric. She was referring to the leather cuffs with the anchors on that Gwyn had brought back from me from a visit to New York. Galyanna had been present when I was given them.

Maric greeted her, saying it had been a long time since we had seen her and explained that there had been an imposter, hence wanting confirmation of her identity. He looked at me and I nodded, explaining again about the cuffs, this time in a voice that all could hear. That relieved him and he suggested we retire to the tavern to chat. Wren had turned up and she was included in the invitation. She was curious about Galyanna, being heavily armoured as she was, but even more so about Kuro, who she was watching with intense curiosity and wondering if she should be scared.

I introduced Galyanna, reminding Wren of our recent conversation about Talons, and told her that the beast was called Kuro, adding that it would not harm her. Galyanna called the beast to her, scratched it fondly, and then sent it off to scout the area. She assured Wren that Kuro would not harm her, adding not entirely reassuringly, not without orders. I then introduced Wren as Patrolman Wren, a guest of the village and one destined to be a mighty warrior one day.

We retired, as suggested, to the tavern, where we all had drinks. Well, except for Galyanna. She chuckled at Wren and said that she was pleased to see a new protector. Once we were sat down, Maric gave her a very brief summary of events. He told her that a version of Vedis was up and about. He told her of the visit from Kitori, and that she had been disguised as Galyanna. She had learned of Vedis’ return before her disguise was rumbled and had escaped with that information, which, no doubt, would bring us trouble. He also told her about the potential war brewing in Faerie because of the business with Alec and Isabella stealing a bit of the Mallorn Tree. The last thing he mentioned was the reappearance of the Huntsman and the threats he made to Gwyneth. I added the news about the expected offspring of Gwyneth and me.

Galyanna congratulated me and mused on the subject of the Huntsman, wondering why he should make threats against another fae. She warned us about Kitori, saying that she had trained her, so we should take her very seriously. What she was most interested in though was the news about Vedis, asking what Maric had meant by her walking again.

Maric explained how he had used his magic and alchemy to fashion a body for Vedis’ memories to inhabit until such time as we were able to restore her true one. The news about Kitori was disturbing at best, he said. We spoke a while about the possibility of warding the village against demons, possible arranging a ward that could be passed by appropriate individuals such as Galyanna, perhaps by means of a talisman of some sort. Galyanna was concerned that we were going to close the village off entirely, but we reassured her that the mirror portal would remain as a legitimate entrance and exit. We merely wished to protect ourselves from random visitations or potential invasion.

I asked Galyanna if she could advise us on Kitori. If she had trained her, she would know best her tactics, her strengths and weaknesses etc. She said that she would tell us that, but wanted to know how many of our men she had killed. We were able to tell her that there had been no attack, but she had escaped with important information. Galyanna told us that Kitori was wont to find another door if one was closed to her. She was very efficient and prone to killing anybody she did not find worthy. If she did not kill anybody during her visit, then there might be more going on than we knew.

Wren suddenly piped up, reminding us that Medea had been there the other day, looking for both Galyanna and Maric. That surprised them both. Maric quickly asked me in a mental question when I had seen Medea. I told him that it had been a day or two before and I had told him about it, when we had the unexpected visitor and the big icy hole. I told him what little I had learned during that meeting. Maric said that he had not seen Vedis since she had gone in search of her daughter. I told him that Medea had said that the memory of her mother had sent her to find him and Galyanna.

Maric decided that perhaps the best thing was for him and Galyanna to head down to the vaults, and perhaps they would find Vedis there. As he was leaving, he reminded Wren that she should make sure she got plenty of training and cautioned her to be on the lookout, and to report anything unusual.

When they had gone, Wren asked about Galyanna’s mask. I told her what little I knew. It was part of her nature. She was, by choice, a creature of stealth, of silence and secrecy. For her to do her job, it was necessary for her to remain anonymous. I assured Wren that she did have a face under the mask, I was honoured to have seen it, and perhaps, one day, she would reveal herself to Wren, once they got to know one another. I felt it important to emphasise that Galyanna was an ally. I told Wren that although Galyanna was a demon, she was one I trusted; I would trust her with my life. We had fought battles side by side, I said, and would no doubt do so again.

We talked then a while on other matters, on superheroes, ninjas and some strange fabric called spandex, which seemed an unlikely thing for any hero to wear. I opined that they must be very silly heroes to go out without proper protection. Before long, it was time for dinner, and we retired to the castle to eat.

It struck me, as we walked back, that it was interesting that Maric had not dismissed her while we were talking of adult matters, of strategy and tactics. Perhaps, like me, he has decided to treat her as an adult. I see no problem with that.




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