Reader be aware. I had trouble with Makarovia. Ending the chapter is hard and I hit snags. I'm not finished, but I began rewriting this and it just came! Don't hate me. Stories don't end. I will go back. I love you, Daniel!
Readers that have forgotten Cinderfella, Cinderfella 2 and Cinderfella 3 may have to review a little. Sorry. (No, I'm not.)
Toby came up behind Seth and me after breakfast. We were in a circle around a nice warm fire in a tee-pee on pillows. Whatever he was thinking about was torturing him. “Dads,” he started, but his emotions were causing our deaf son more problems speaking. “Are you still angry with me?” He had cried before, but now it came fresh again. Neither Seth nor I were ready the previous night.
He was our child. As parents, we were supposed to be guiding him where to go and even to show him how to get there. He was suffering and I hated that he and his cousin had chosen to do something we had thought he shouldn’t. I never lie to him. “I am still very angry that you feel you knew better than we do. So, yes, I’m still angry.”
Seth sighed and moved to make room for Toby between us. “Have a seat, please.”
“Your Dad and I have to trust you,” I began. “As when we were attacked in Royal Valley...we told you to go below with Grace so we knew you were safe.”
“We did the same thing leaving you in A’Dore with your Uncle Christian and Aunt Ella,” Seth said. Toby missed nothing. His peripheral vision had sharpened so much he clearly saw what Seth and I both told him.
“When we tell you and Thomas to do something next time,” I began, “Are you going to do it?”
“Yes!” Our deaf son swore, kind of. He really can’t yell or even whisper and feeling the difference was tough and I still marveled he could talk at all.
“How will we know?” Seth asked. “You said you’d listen and wait in A’Dore, but here you are.”
I sighed, “I don’t want to minimalize this,” I began. “Will we get over this?” I gave a wobbling shrug, “I hope so.” I did turn to look more directly at him. “I hope we survive…” I watched Toby’s eyes widen. I nodded, “Yes, even with Demetrius’ protection we could be killed.” I waved at the world beyond the tee-pee. “This Wahkoowah is getting people killed. This is very serious!” He might not express emotions with his voice, but he showed it on his face. “When we met on the floor of that hotel when you crawled in my lap, you climbed in my heart and I vowed to God, you and your mother I would never allow you to be harmed. I love you and Dennis. I’d give my life to help you and your brother!”
“Your Dad and I both do,” Seth said, “We are both mad as hornets about this, but we both love you. That won’t ever stop.”
Toby was crying but tried to see what we said to him, “I swear, I will do whatever you say. I will.”
I smiled a little at him. “You are a miracle, son. You are so talented and smart. You’ll do some amazing things. I know it.”
“Me, too.” Seth smiled and we hugged him between us. “Enough about this.” He suddenly sat back. “You and Thomas traveled alone?” Toby nodded and Seth’s eyes grew. “What did you eat?”
Toby grinned and shrugged. “I also read about setting traps. We had rabbit, fish, and wild roots.” He shook his head. “Thomas can cook!”
I sat up straighter, “He can?”
Toby nodded again. “He had that taught by Jason, the Head of Security training?”
I laughed thinking of the man, “Oh, yes. I know Jason well. He taught me how to fence.”
“I can help, Dads!” Toby declared. “I brought something I was working on.” He jumped up, but before...whatever he hugged Seth and me hard. “I love you, and I know this will help.” He ran off and came back with a large leather sack. He began digging in it and produced a strange...stick? It was the length of a crutch, but I saw it was a hollow tube of metal, maybe?
“What on Earth…” Seth began as he asked taking it as Toby handed it to him.
“It’s a fire lance,” Toby replied quickly as he dug for more from the sack. He paused as he thought, “Well, in China it is a fire lance.” It was a little comical as our son got charged up with excitement, he got harder to understand. He was saying something that was getting garbled as his attempts to speak caused problems even for Toby. He sighed with frustration and put the sack down and began signing again. "Sorry," he signed. "I’ll use the other way. In China about five or six hundred years ago, they developed the fire lance. They came up with this combination of elements that explode when a flame is added." He huffed as if tired from signing so fast. "They created this..." he had to think how to say it, "this fire tube can send a projectile a great distance!"
“A projectile of what?” Seth asked.
Toby shrugged, “The fire tubes in China were made from bamboo or other woods.” He spoke again. “They tried metal to make it possible to fire something heavier farther and cause more damage.” He was getting excited again and resumed signing. "This can be carried and do it farther!" He shrugged and handed us a small leather bag of things that made a sound almost like coins. I pulled one tiny metal balls out and rolled it in my hand. Rocks are unpredictable, but these were made to be correct.
“They had a book of this at the Book Lender!?” I asked in surprise.
Toby smiled again a little embarrassed. “Not exactly, I was told about the other book of Asianic Weaponry at the Book Lender when I got the one about the gauntlet. So, when we went to A’Dore in the past, I looked and found it in the military archive.”
Seth held the long tube up, “Your Dad and I really need to be aware of what you read!” He tried to figure out this fire lance just by looking at it. “How do you use it?”
Now Toby bounced, “I’ve tested it. It works!” He went back to signing. "I’ll show you outside!" He smiled. “I’m told it’s loud, so…”
Seth looked confounded at me, “He’s ten!”
I chuckled, “Yes.” I patted Seth on the back, “And you know what’s also scary? He learned to speak and about all this without our knowing about it. Imagine what he’ll be like in ten more years.” I watched as Seth’s eyes widened under the weight of what I said.
We weren’t in Royal Valley, that was clear. It was cold. Not cool, it was cold. The dampness just seemed to eat through any clothing we wore. Except for the thick fur. It kept the bear, cougar, and other animals warm in the winter, it did for us now. Chitto had been invited to see this, too. As with Thomas, Max, Val, Reese, and Beau. Chitto had spoken to members of this tribe and was told of a safe area. Toby worked on the one fire tube. He got out another small sack. I had seen what was used for fireworks to send them in the air. He used a long stick to pack down the powder, after he put a fuse in a hole, dropped one of the little metal balls in and lit the fuse. It sparked and fed the flame of the fuse toward the little hole as he propped up the tube. When the flame got there, there was a loud “thunder crack” sound, making everyone jump. We saw a branch near the bottom of a tree have a sort of eruption and fall away.
Beau again summed up what we all felt saying, “That was very loud.” He had covered his ears after the loud bang. Probably because his ears still rang with the sound even as it was over. It did in mine.
“That’s an understatement,” I muttered. Of course, Toby didn’t hear it, but someone told Toby. “That’s impressive,” I admitted. “You aimed for the tree?”
“Yes,” Toby answered. “It can be accurately aimed up to about a hundred feet or less. The numbers rise the further away you are.”
“How’d you keep this secret?” I asked squinting at him, “A noise like that will bring people running, I would think.”
“Not all the time,” Toby said. “I didn’t fire often.” He chuckled, “I made sure things were set up correctly and did it, but…” he began signing again. "When they did come, no one would even ask me if I heard something." He enjoyed that.
We all went to the tree and saw the damage. It wasn’t an old or rotting tree, but the damage was evident. It this had been a human body...I shuddered at the thought. The splintering of young wood, I couldn’t imagine what would happen to a human body. I wasn’t sure about the new armor. Would it stop the projectile?
“This should be as a last resort,” I said quietly. I had eyes look at me curiously. I looked at Toby. “How many do you have?”
“Three, including this one,” Toby answered.
I sighed, “Our friends in the many tribes don’t see people we consider mad as being…” I gave a frustrated shrug, “well, mad. If a man says he sees or hears something we don’t, is he mad? Or can he see and hear what we can’t? Who’s to say it’s just inside the man’s head? He’s often considered to be touched by the gods.”
“But he’s nuts!” Max argued.
It was the perfect word. Short, concise, and expressed surprise so well. I chuckled with a shrug. “By what authority can you say that?” I shook my head. “He has a following.” I began, “People believe him and we risk creating a martyr by killing him. Then we’ll never get rid of him.”
Chitto nodded, “Erik’s right.”
“About what exactly!?” Seth asked.
“All of it,” Chitto said. “The many tribes don’t see human nature as one or the other. We know there are many shades to a man’s personality. We also don’t see evil as much as those from Europa.” He chuckled he threw a chummy arm around my shoulder, “Such as our excepting Erik’s marriage to Seth.”
I nodded, “And they weren’t surprised when told about Demetrius. This...Wahkoowah can access some of the magic.” I saw Reese’s and Val’s face and hurried on, “You came to A’Dore by what many claims is magic, but you know it works.” I waved at Seth, “I offer him as proof. Do you see any scarring? Miracle or magic his scars are gone.” I looked at them all, “He knew about the magic and thought he could access it.”
Chitto nodded, “He’s also right about the martyr thing.” He shrugged, “I don’t believe one of your disciples weren’t martyred. I’m not sure he won’t be if we do or don’t.”
“He needs to be discredited and then exposed?” Max said to see if he understood.
I nodded, “Preferably.” I smiled at him. “But first, though...we need to find him.” As we gathered things together to leave, I stopped Toby. “This is impressive,” I admitted. “I will also say this also scares me.”
Seth walked over, “Me, too.” He waved his hand as Toby, “You’re ten!!”
I nodded, “We were warned.” I said to Seth.
“Yes,” Seth agreed. “We were.” He waved at Toby. “You’re ten!”
“The fact we didn’t know is scary,” I said.
“That you were handling something dangerous is scary!” Seth added. “You could have been badly hurt, lose fingers, or become blind and even killed!”
“I was careful,” Toby defending weakly.
“I’m sure you were,” I nodded. “I have no doubt you took every precaution you could think of. You’re brilliant.” I pointed to the sack of powder. “You never brought this in the house, have you?”
Toby held the sack up, “Not like this. I’ve brought the charcoal and sulfur in the house and I brought the saltpeter in, but ground together? No.”
"Good," I nodded, “Your brother is very smart, too. He could hurt himself. I wouldn’t be doing my job as a parent if I let this slide. There is no way this is isn’t over, but I’m proud of you.”
“The problem is,” Seth went on, “You are too smart. You may think you understand and maybe we won’t.”
“But you tell us before you do anything like this again,” Yes, I did the parental finger-shake in his face.
“If we aren’t getting it,” Seth suggested, “try using smaller words.”
Smirking, I elbowed Seth lightly in the gut causing Toby to laugh. “And don’t give up,” I added. “If we’re still not getting it, explain again to get us to see it as what you want us to and what you want to do, but never,” I held the finger steady, “and I mean never,” I did tap his forehead lightly, “do it alone again. Smart people can have accidents, too.”
Toby nodded with a shy smile, “Yes, sir.”
He moved t resume gathering his things, but I stopped him, “Not good enough.” I made him look me in the face. “You state your understanding verbally and in sign. We need to be sure.”
Toby thought a moment and put the few things down and sighed as he consented. Raising his hands he signed and spoke his promise. “I will not hide my experiments from you or experiment with potentially dangerous substances without telling you again.”
Seth looked at me, “Is that good enough?”
I thought about what he said and replied reluctantly, “For now.”
What Demetrius and Dara explained a decade before, Seth and I knew Toby would do amazing things, but just as with Seth, I was unprepared for this so soon! He was a ten-year-old boy! I hated it when grownup predictions came true. To me, it seemed to take forever to get the age of double digits! I said that at this age and told I would see it differently soon. It was different now!
As we were putting the finishing touches to get ready to head out again when He-lush-ka, the Ute tribal warrior to originally greeted us in Ute territory, came jogging up.
Just a little information for you, they had ways of sending messages the great distances between tribes. Quickly over some miles, they used smoke to send messages. I had learned a little as a child from my cousins to read some of that which worked well during the day. At greater distances, a message with a lot of content was sent by runners. A more detailed message needed a person to deliver the message. There were still some tribes that didn’t use a written language and...sorry, I got off-topic. The runners could run day and night without stopping. They covered hundreds of miles in a matter of days. Some were said to be faster than any deer! When those Vikings, Espanians and Brits, we came with horses, they weren’t just here, that was over a thousand years ago! Some horses broke free or got loose and bred in the wild, but until then the runners were it. Looking around the terrain, I’d guess runners were preferred with all the twists, turns, dips, and other hazards.
He-lush-ka was a warrior but wasn’t a runner as he panted a little and touched Chitto and said something quickly to him. Chitto’s face became confused a moment as he asked He-lush-ka a question.
“We’re asked to go back to speak with Dyami again,” Chitto reported and said something again to He-lush-ka. “Our friend here doesn’t know why.”
We entered Dyami’s tee-pee again, but he was a hard man to read. The day prior he had been casual and at ease. He was...preoccupied now. His blank, white eyes turned to us as we entered. “This has never happened before.” He was upset, but not angry. Not exactly. “Sit.” He more ordered than offered. “What I saw yesterday?” He asked. “Was a lie!”
“We need a little more,” I said. “All of it? Parts of it? What?”
“I’m not really sure,” Dyami then seemed to look up, but he didn’t see so… “What I told you about was inaccurate. It was a world of things I was shown to tell you about. That was the lie!” He reached over and grabbed a clay jar. The same jar he used the day before. “I began my daily rituals and…” he searched for the right word, “something was off.” That’s when he became more animated, “That should be impossible!” He was again trying to find a way to describe it. “I struggle with how to explain what I see in words...it’s like when someone tried to tell me about the color red! How do you do that when I have no clue what you're talking about?” He evened his breathing. “This morning, I read the situation again. It was exactly the same!”
Chitto nodded, “I take it that’s not a good thing.”
“No!” Dyami stated, “It’s impossible! Two sunny days, the exact same temperature and no variation in events just don’t happen. This morning it was exactly the same and the night before.” He shook his head. “It was created for me to see and believe it is real.” He put the jar down and picked another one up. “I made this new see elixir. It’s very strong and I was shown what was really there.” He shook his head. “It gets worse each time now.” He poured some of his elixir on the coals and there was the familiar sizzle. The smoke rose waved toward Dyami’s face again only this time he pulled away from it as if it was badly soured milk or worse. He let out a grunt and didn’t hide his adverse gastric reaction and he repressed a little gag and retching. Even my untrained sense of smell got this burnt flesh smell. I had gone with Christian to a village once where they had a bad fire and the smell of burned human flesh was nauseating. Now, there was the smell of human waste and other rotting garbage and you’ll get a better understanding of this smell.
“And none of this is because you mixed the elixir wrong,” Max said carefully.
Dyami gave a look with a face that said he had to be joking, “I mixed it three times. If I didn’t know better, I’d think a Yendalooshi was involved.” He stopped a second and said, “That’s a witch.”
“Aren’t they Navajo?” Chitto asked.
“I’m sure they’re more than willing to share,” Dyami muttered. “Unlike the God you worship,” he pointed in my direction and Seth’s, “our deities and spirits are capable of good and bad. There are many tricksters. A great spirit can do something miraculous and the kill out of simple jealousy the next. Few are solely good or evil.” He waved the smoke into his face again and his reaction was pretty much as the last time. “Wahkoowah believes it is Tawa that speaks through him. It isn’t. Whoever it is can hide what he is and makes it hard to see Truth.”
“But it’s a Child of Eve, not Lilith!” I stated and then closed my mouth quickly. “Sorry.”
Dyami smiled, lowering his arm. “You know more than you admit to.” It wasn’t an accusation and more of a confirmation.
“We know a lot,” Seth admitted.
I sighed, giving Dyami a condensed version of Demetrius, Dara, Lulus, Le Nah, and what they said they were.
Dyami chuckled and nodded, “The story of Prince Charming and Cinderella has traveled here, too. Truelove’s Kiss also.”
“Truelove’s kiss?” Seth smiled but questioned.
“The story about you two!” Dyami stated simply. “An evil wizard cast an evil curse on a young prince who was scarred and cured with truelove’s kiss given by Prince Eric.”
“That beats the Hell out of Cinderfellas,” Seth muttered to me.
“You know of the Children of Eve and the Children of Lilith?” I asked.
Dyami chuckled, “I do! They have appeared to many of us over the many centuries.”
I looked up in the air, “Demetrius! I know you’re listening.”
Someone came in the tee-pee and stood up straight in the tee-pee. “Yes, I’m always listening.”
“What’s going on?” Seth asked Demetrius. “Is it a Child of Eve?”
“Yes!” Demetrius swore and he gave grudging shrugging nod. “My guess is he’s a prodigy. Some people are gifted at math or music. He’s a prodigy accessing the magic!”
“You knew that!?” I asked.
Demetrius grunted, “I didn’t know then,” he pointed to his right, “I wasn’t sure later,” he moved his hand closer. “I do now.” He pointed in front of him. “I’m getting more now.” He frowned. “The Children of Eve access magic differently than Children of Lilith. It is harder to track.”
Seth threw his hands out. “We can’t access magic at all!”
“That’s not true!” Demetrius shot back irritated. “We still don’t know who cured your scars! It wasn’t a Child of Lilith!”
Dyami was listening and hearing this new voice, his head cocked. “Have we met?”
Demetrius turned leaned in toward Dyami. “No. I’m Demetrius. I’m Erik’s and Seth’s Fairy Godfather.”
I laughed, “You said you weren’t anymore!”
Demetrius rolled his eyes. “Semantics!” He gave me a look. “Are we still family?” He placed his arms with Dyami’s in greeting.
“What’s going on here?” A woman’s voice demanded, but in a nonhostile way. A woman I didn’t recognize suddenly appeared. Seth, Toby, and I had gotten used to the sudden appearances. Max, Chitto, and Thomas jumped startled, but not alarmed. Val, Beau, and Reese had their hands on their swords ready to fight.
“Ceto!” Demetrius’ greeted as his eyes widened as he smiled. He stopped and thought. “It’s been a while!”
“A hundred and twenty years.” She greeted Demetrius with a hug.
“She’s a Child of Lilith!?” Seth pointed at her with his mouth open in shock.
Demetrius nodded, “She is!”
Here was the confusion part, for me as well! I hate to admit it, but meeting Demetrius I wasn’t surprised that he looked like us! I’ll explain it. Chitto and I are cousins, but we are of different...races? We are Humans and of the same species. That’s how Christian’s and my Great-Grandmother was Muscogee and we had several members of the Cherokee Tribe. After almost fifteen hundred years...we better! This woman was gorgeous! I’m very serious! She tugged at a part of me I thought would be unknown.
No. I had no desire to have an affair with her, but…(sorry, Ella) she was in my book the prettiest woman I’d ever seen. In her middle to her late thirties and a brunette! Sam’s Queen Theresa was a brunette, but this woman… Her hair was a rich dark, dark brown, but clearly not black as with Christian, Seth, Toby...all of us. While Ella had a fair complexion because of her ancestry with Vikings, this Ceto was dark like Chitto and his father. She looked more like an Aborigine. Almost. Ceto’s hair was straight but cascaded in a long luxurious wave past her shoulders. Demetrius, Dara, and Lukus looked like they’d stepped off a boat from Europa! I knew Demetrius had a Child of Eve as a husband for three decades in Italia before Dara. Ceto was dressed in light-colored deerskin.
“She looks like many women from the tribes!” Seth stated.
Ceto looked down and held her arms out, “Do I?”
“You had other Ethnicities as Children of Lilith?” I asked.
Demetrius chuckled, “According to the Old Scrolls, you all descended from Noah and his wife. After the flood mankind came from them.”
“We missed that boat,” Ceto chuckled.
“What was the Ethnic Group Adam and Lilith came from?” Demetrius asked and pointed to himself and Ceto, “We don’t even know!”
“From those scrolls, you find out that these people, those from Europa, Asia, and Africa came from the same people,” Ceto said, “but did they?”
“The Tower of Babel maybe?” I asked weakly.
Ceto grudged a nod, “That’s a good possibility, but that's just conjecture with no proof.”
Max and the others relaxed a bit and he took his hand off his sword. “I heard about the Tower of Babel, but can you remind me, please?”
“After the floodwaters receded,” I began, “The generations of man from the ark resulted in one people and one language. Pride and confident they could do anything, they began to build this tower to reach Heaven and God.”
“That’s impossible,” Toby said simply.
"Noah? You mean Noah and the ark!?" Max asked in disbelief.
"Yep," I nodded and grinned at my son, “They didn’t know that and started to build the Tower.” I laughed at a thought, “I even remember it said that God laughed at our audacity.” I shrugged. “To complicate things God changed the languages of the people. My instructor even speculated he changed their Ethnic Groups. The man working next to you was now a different race and you couldn’t understand him anymore.” I looked at Seth, “It’s just a theory.”
“And a very good one!” Ceto added impressed.
“The Tower of Babel affected you?” Seth asked doubtfully.
Demetrius shrugged, “It takes a thousand generations of men living in an area to cause changes. A lot of sun or a little sun changes things. Is it warm or cold? Your bodies were created to react and make the necessary changes.” He waved at himself. “This is what I am. It’s been like this for hundreds of years.”
“You’re balding a little by choice?” I asked with a grin.
Demetrius shrugged, “The image of myself in my mind looks this way.” He physically changed to look...I didn’t recall ever seeing him before. He quickly changed back. "I can hold the other form, but I have to think about it constantly. This, I don't. I just am."
“Is this the real you?” I asked and he merely shrugged with a grin.
“Fine,” Seth muttered, “but these names! What happened to Liz, Karen, Jane, or any other name we’re comfortable with?”
Demetrius nodded and growled, “Yep, it’s all about you, isn’t it?”