The is a fairytale. What you think or believe is you. I mean, Gay Rights in North America in the 14th, 15th, 16th century!? Whatever. That is a fairytale. Right, Daniel? I love you.
We concluded our meal and got ready to go to sleep. Ceto had been right, the stew was filling and kept us warm. It also made us all a little drowsy.
I stopped Lukus as we were leaving, “There is a wife for you, isn’t there?” I asked carefully. Did the Children of Lilith ever become widows? Did they have illnesses? Can they get killed? When you meet regular people, a tactful inquiry was best to use with a stranger when you first meet one.
“Martha?” Lukus smiled thinking of her fondly. “She’s fine. She and I had conflicting things to do.” He smiled at Dara and Demetrius, “It’s rare enough for two of us to work the same person…” he shrugged a nod, “well technically, I was trying to resolve King Alexander’s family issue with Arthur. Dara was working on Ella's issue which was totally unrelated. Then Erik asked for help and they sort of collided.” He waved at Ceto. “And now a fourth? I don’t recall any one person or family getting four of us.” He chuckled. “I guess you want to meet her.”
“Is there a quota limit about Lilith’s Children we’ve surpassed?” Seth asked.
Lukus shook his head, “No.”
“Maybe she doesn’t like the Children of Eve as much as you do,” I offered.
Lukus chuckled, “Have you read any Greek Myths?”
I nodded, “I have.”
Seth shook his head, “How big is the Library in A’Dore’s Palace!?”
“Pretty big,” I grinned, “but many of my visiting tutors came with the reading material needed. I was a bit of a bookworm.”
“A nearly unbeatable swordsman and well educated,” Seth shook his head.
“Sure,” I knew Seth hadn’t gotten the education he could have gotten because of the imbeciles that taught the Thorne children were skittish with Seth because of his scars, but Seth was damned smart. “Remember, these tutors were coming to A’Dore’s Palace to teach the King’s two sons. They had to be the best. You know more about the vineyard than I do. You thought of how to minimize frost damage, the irrigation…”
“Okay, okay,” Lukus said, waving us down to stop us. “You’re both brilliant. My point was about Muses. Do you know who they are?”
“Daughters of Zeus that inspire artists and musicians,” Val said casually as the other Creid just looked at him silently. “What? You know by now I like to read and that book was available at the Creid Palace Library. I read it.”
Toby and Thomas nodded saying they had read it, too.
“I like the Iliad and Odyssey,” Toby said.
I nodded smiling, “I did, too!”
“That poetry Homer used was hard to get used to reading,” Toby muttered.
“You’re ten,” I said smiling patiently, “you kind of have to reorient your mind, before it begins to make sense…” Lukus coughed, but nothing was blocking phlegm. “Sorry.” I said quickly and mouthed, “Later,” to Toby who laughed quietly.
“Martha took that roll on,” Lukus explained. “Less one on one magic. She might put something needed on the path of a person, but she really enjoys sending a seasoned artist to discover a promising hopeful. She inspires them to inspire the new artist. She rarely shows herself to the people she helps.”
I was nodding with a smile as Lukus was explaining, “That sounds really nice. I’d love to meet her. I promise not to ask her for anything.”
Lukus chuckled, “I’ll let her know that.”
I glanced over to two others with our group I almost never spoke to. Reese and Beau. They held up the rear of our group as we traveled. Reese was trying to hide a yawn that was coming whether he wanted to or not. Their manners surpassed many who considered themselves cultured. These men were a part of the King’s Guard and reviled many aristocrats. He tried to cover his yawn up with his hand covering it.
“Excuse me,” Reese said lightly.
“No apology necessary for doing what every creature on the planet does,” Seth slapped a meaty arm in a friendly gesture. “Hell, even Kitty has a big yawn.”
The thing with Reese was, he made it into the King’s Guard. His ability to fight was not questioned and his manners were honed. I saw him read something and he did that...slowly. He had some schooling, but I didn’t know how much. Don’t get me wrong, he was a smart man and thought quickly on his feet.
Beau. The man-child. He was an innocent soul. Whoever had raised him did an excellent job. Like when he looked at art with his hands behind his back and never touched anything. I clearly saw that same person had taught him it was impolite to stare. He was looking and quickly away to not stare. Then slowly look again and away. He was more obvious by not staring than just staring. I looked to where he was trying not to stare. He was not staring at Ceto.
I smiled at Beau, “Go say hello, Beau.” I encouraged him.
Beau’s eyes widened, “Oh, I couldn’t do that.” He shook his head quickly.
“She’s a nice person,” Seth grinned. “I can guarantee she’ll be nice to you.”
“She’s pretty,” Beau said dreamily and began walking forward and stopped. “What do I say after hello?”
This was important. Beau would never hurt anyone he wasn’t fighting. He had feelings. Ceto had been around I know for over three centuries. Even if Beau tried something (and I knew he wouldn’t), she could simply vanish and escape. Even if he proposed marriage, I knew she could handle it. She was not one of the Children of Lilith we knew were cruel. Demetrius and Dara knew how smart Dennis and Toby were before Dennis was even born. They had to know about Beau.
“Did you enjoy your stew?” I asked him and got a nod from Beau and he licked his lips showing he enjoyed it a lot. “She made the stew. Tell her how much you liked it. Tell you you think she’s pretty…”
“Oh, yes,” Seth agreed, “Compliments like those will take you far. Especially with a lady.” He turned Beau in her direction and gave him a gentle shove to help him get started. Seth looked at Reese, “They probably had to kill two bears to cover you. Were you warm?”
Reese laughed, “I was,” he frowned, “as long as I didn’t move too much. It was a Brown Bear, I was told. Over half a ton! I was covered just fine.”
Okay, I sort of listened, but I watched Beau. He was in his mid or late twenties and not a bad looking person. The nearly ever present innocent look he had made him appear younger. I could give examples of many people that got so tongue tied speaking to someone that attracted them. I can say with confidence there are many that say nothing because they are too shy. The fear that they aren’t good enough and rejection was too great. That’s why we had that special day set aside for people to express love already there, hinted about, or even from unexpected sources. Garth did it to Bent. Say what you will, but Beau was pretty confident. Again, his hands clasped behind his back so not to appear threatening. I didn’t need to hear it. I saw it. She was about to clean up. He tapped her on the shoulder making her turn. Her expression was open, happy, and friendly. Beau commented and she smiled bigger, chuckled and patted her own stomach and pointed to Beau’s stomach. He was a big man. Taller by a foot and quite a few pounds more. Then he said something timidly which made Ceto’s smile soften and nod. She reached and asked him a question which Beau nodded, then she wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him. At first he didn’t know what to do with his arms, but slowly his arms circled her waist. It wasn’t long, but as she parted from him, I saw her kiss him on the cheek. It was loving in a maternal way. She said something as his eyes widened in delighted surprise, smiled grandly, touching the place she’d kissed and left the hut.
I noticed Val and Max had watched this protectively. Shaking my head, I grinned, “Guys...really?”
Max chuckled and Val looked away at first.
“We’re just protective,” Max explained with a shrug. “He’s one of us.”
Val looked at me and sighed, “He was hurt a couple of times by girls when he was a teenager and who wanted someone to claim in the King’s Guard. They used him.”
“That last one nearly destroyed him,” Max pressed. “We promised to watch out for him from then on.”
It was hard to imagine anyone being mean to this sweet soul, but there were many women that were mean or just evil. I smiled at Reese and Max. “It’s wonderful to see such brotherly love and devotion.” My eyes lowered as I looked at them, “but you know what she is and what she can do. I know she won’t, but if she did hurt Beau, what could you do?” I turned to Demetrius. “Do any of you die?” Demetrius’ eyes grew in alarm, so I nodded, “Yes, you have the secret plan now. We’re going to lure you somewhere and kill each of you.” Clearly sarcastic and then I instantly hugged him. “I could never hurt you or any of you. I love you. You were immune to measles and even the venom delivered by those demonic snakes that attacked A’Dore couldn’t hurt you. You don’t get sick.”
Demetrius waggled a nod and shrug, “No, we don’t.” He pointed at me, “And you don’t either now.”
“But Seth was injured,” I reminded him. “If something heavy fell on you, would you be hurt or die?”
Demetrius shook his head again, “No.” He smiled. “Nothing can be severed, not that anyone’s tried, and healing happens when we vanish and reappear.” He grudged a nod, “Every creature dies, but just before it happens we feel it coming,” he touched his own chest, “in here. It’s peaceful. Most die in their eight hundreds, some in their nine hundreds,” he laughed, “I’ve heard of some that passed a thousand, but not many.”
“Damn,” I marveled. “That sounds great. These Little Warriors will last another couple of years…”
“Maybe a decade,” Demetrius smiled. “The serum with the Little Warriors didn’t make it to Europa or Asia, did it?”
“A’Dore and Blethos were going to be attacked,” I shrugged, “Creid was a big contributor, so we gave it to A’Dore, Blethos, and Creid.”
Demetrius nodded, “You’ll miss some of the plagues coming to Europa and Britannia.”
“Wait,” I frowned, “You know they’re coming?”
“It’s inevitable,” Demetrius shrugged. “Cleanliness next Godliness is unknown in some parts of the cities...like London and Parisia the poor who are living there live in filth. There is vermin and even sewage on the streets. Ella and Theresa have done a wonderful job putting the poor to work to help clean those areas.” He thought for a second, “I don’t think there is one in Royal Valley.”
“I hope not,” Seth said grimly. “Horses are essential, but just leaving all shit lying around is smelly and disgusting…” he grinned, “but great for the vineyard.”
“When you and I first went to Creid we commented about the smell when Demetrius took me to speak with King Mordor the first time,” I suddenly looked at the surrounding Creid who were looking surprised. I quickly told them about how I wanted to prove the Creid didn’t attack King Alexander, but Arthur did. I had to get Mordor’s side about things. “You know I love you all. I loved King Mordor. He didn’t see me when I visited that time and it was the middle of the night...I don’t feel like fighting again to prove that.”
Max nodded and gestured when he spoke, “Very few people know that story even in Creid.” He looked at me harder. “That was you?”
“Yes,” I admitted. “I needed to know. I doubted you were guilty, but you had a violent reputation so I had to be careful. King Mordor was the one to tell me about Arthur Thorne. I loved the man after that. What I was saying was about those wonderful hot springs underground with those tubs that had all that hot water with sulfur in it. That’s what I first smelled.”
“Yes, fascinating,” Demetrius verbally dismissed what I said, “what I was saying was your people here and you bathe everyday. We’re lucky if some do it once a week! Usually Saturday night so they’re clean for Church. That and the rats carrying disease with their fleas and the filth, there will be plagues. Count on it.”
“I can’t stand feeling dirty,” I grimaced. “It’s so uncomfortable.”
Seth chuckled, “He’ll tease me after a hard day in the vineyard. Occasionally, he has me wash off before I bathe.”
“Which I usually take with you and the point of bathing is to get clean, not dirty.” I took Seth’s hand, “Besides, I itch if I don’t shave at least every other day at least.”
“There’s a group of religious people who think that’s vanity and false pride,” Demetrius smiled, “You had people bring hot water to you. If you’ve worked hard all day you may be too tired to boil water.”
He was right. I shouldn’t judge. I’ve been too tired to even undress before. “But I hate even the idea of going to bed dirty.”
We saw Ceto simply look at the table and every place was reset with clean plates and utensils. The large pot was clean and shiny. Everything ready for another meal.
Seth leaned closer to me, but said loud enough for everyone to hear, “I think we should keep this bout with magic from Grace.”
“Oh, yeah, that would be cruel. She’ll want to be able to do that,” I nodded. I turned to the men and honestly I hadn’t thought much about it, “I hate lies and secrets, I’ll tell Yannick that I was the voice his father heard in the middle of the night. He knows about the Children of Lilith. I should have told King Mordor, but I didn’t want to risk upsetting him and it honestly slipped my mind.”
“We’ll see you in the morning,” Seth said.
“Oh, Seth. Erik,” Ceto began, “You are in the second one over.” She motioned with her hand in a direction, “I hope you’ll be comfortable. Yours has a bed for two.”
“We should thank you,” I smiled. “What you’re doing is so kind and totally unexpected, but very much appreciated.”
Seth nodded, “Thank you. You made us feel welcome.” He grinned more. “You sure made Beau feel welcome. I’d say you’ll be friends for life.” Then he sobered, “His life, yours will go on a while.”
Her whole face softened when Seth mentioned Beau, “Beau’s very special. He has a beautiful heart and soul.”
I nodded, “I wholeheartedly agree.”
Lukus was passing and stopped, “Oh! There’s a stove in it that has that special coal. It will burn all night.” He chuckled as he folded his arms over his chest, but gestured toward the other Cried, “At least you know about it. There are some over there that will probably wake every couple of hours to check if it’s true. I don’t think they believe me.”
“Probably, but they’re Eve’s Sons,” Seth grinned, “Thanks, Lukus.”
It was still cold outside, so we said goodnight and went to our hut/tent. It wasn’t big, but that was more to keep the interior warm. The ground was covered with a tarp or something. The bed was smaller than we had in Royal Valley, A’Dore, or Blethos. Not that we used all of those beds as Seth always held me at night. Spooning me. It was off the ground a foot or so and covered with fur skin. It didn’t seem to be furry animal friendly around here, but if we ran into a bear or mountain lion in the wild, they would attack us if they were feeling threatened or hungry. Hopefully the bears would be hibernating. Mountain lions did not. They were a danger.
The stove wasn’t big. It was shiny red metal with elegant gold colored metal to make it attractive and looked a lot like the little stove in the carriage Lukus gave us for our honeymoon and trip to A’Dore. It looked band new. A bright flame danced inside the metal stove and the metal radiated the heat well. We had changed into clean clothes after bathing, so we crawled in. Our love was alive and well. I knew that, Seth knew that and never doubted. But to make love, clothing had to be removed and was cold. It was warm and comfortable like we were lying in an angel’s cupped hands. Maybe we were, because we both fell asleep in mere minutes. We’d make up for it later.
I was in the same position when I woke. Neither of us had moved all night. The dim brightness shining on the animal skin hut/tent told me it was morning. Not that any of you asked, but when nature calls, where did we answer that call? Where do bears respond? We were in the wilderness. So, what do you think? You find a tree, go behind it and do what you need to do. The weather made you want to get it done and get back inside.
We were spoiled. I freely and willingly admit that. Having Godparents capable of magic was something few people had access to, but we did. We had four now! And they liked us! This wasn’t a job or duty. They did it because they were good friends that wanted to help us.
We went to where the tubs had been and didn’t find tubs now, but large bowls on tall tables and a mirror that helped you see yourself. Demetrius smiled at us giving us the “come here” motion with his hand. Reese was up, bare from the waist up shaving. He greeted us and went back to his task. He did this near a slightly bigger stove than the one where we slept. This hut/tent was bigger. Still red and gold with heat coming off the metal.
“Good morning,” Demetrius smiled, still waving, “Come on. I know you like to shave, Erik.” He looked at Seth closer. “It’s evident you do, too.” He waved two of the tables with unused bowls. “I’ve hot water and soap to offer...even a razor if needed.”
I couldn’t help it. You know me. I went to Demetrius and hugged him tightly. Hugging is great!! It means so much more than a handshake. “They are simple words, but I owe you so much, I can never repay you. I am grateful to you for this life. You, Dara, and Lukus have done amazing things. I know I’ll love Ceto soon, I like her a lot now.”
Demetrius smiled at me, “It’s a pleasure.” He said softly as Val and Toby came in. The others started coming including Chitto.
“You need to shave?” I asked in shock. He was a Human male, but the native men didn’t usually shave. Some natives had European ancestors in the family did have some beards, but Chitto’s family had married into A’Dore’s Royal Family, not the other way around...that we knew of. Chitto’s hair was thick and black, but they usually plucked the eyebrows and other facial hair. Their beard was sparse, soft, and thin.
Chitto’s eyebrows, which were dark and thick, rose and he said haughtily, “I need to check to be sure and wash my face if you don’t mind.”
“There are times I wish I didn’t have to,” Seth grumbled.
Gathering where we had the meal the night before and Ceto was putting something steaming in a bowl and placed it on the table.
“This wild boar meat with green beans sauteed in garlic and peppers. It’s flavored with onions and spinach.” She placed a large platter of round golden brown discs in the center, “And this is fried bread. There are many different versions of this recipe. Most aren’t sweet. Mine is only a little sweet, but there’s butter and jellies to use.”
“Like toast?” Max asked looking at these pastries, “Or biscuits?”
Ceto gave a grudging nod and said slowly, “Yes, sort of, but it’s not cooked in an oven. Not baked, but fried.”
“You’re a good cook!” Beau swallowed what he’d chewed of the dish with boar meat.
Ceto smiled at him, “Thank you, Beau. What a nice compliment.” She wasn’t talking down to him or condescending at all. She did make it, because she knew what was in it and made it her way. I don’t believe she stood over a mixing bowl and made everything. Like when Demetrius, Dara, and Lukus redid our house. They each added what they saw for our house and it was so the house was very unique. But what did I know? She might have.
Beau was right. Last night’s meal and this one were delicious. It had to be, she’d been doing it for over three centuries.
How they cleaned those furs we wore the day before, to me was as magical as when Ceto got rid of our dirty dishes. The furs even smelled good. The horses had been kept in that clearing nearby. There were even four large stoves lit which provided heat for them as well as the fur covers draped over their backs. They had been fed and given water, too.
Dressed like we had been the day before in the fur burka, some of the horses were fidgeting as these furry creatures approached so we were talking to them to reassure them who we were. We had packed the horses and were ready to move on.
“Erik,” A voice said behind me.
Turning around I saw Demetrius. He knew who I was. The others on this trip were all large fur-covered creatures. I could only guess the smallest of us was Toby, but that wouldn’t last long because he was tall, even for a ten-year old. We were having to get new pants every year. Probably more often after puberty hits him.
“Just so you know,” Demetrius began, “I wanted you to be aware. We’ll be watching over you.”
That statement gave a chill for some reason, “I thought you already did that.”
Demetrius nodded, “Yes, but unlike before, if you’re in trouble you can’t get out of, we’ll be there. Call us. Don’t be surprised, but we may show up without being asked to help.”
It happened other times, but this time I was truly scared. That only happened when Toby and Dennis got the measles and when Christian was going to die. Demetrius wasn’t covered in heavy fur, so Seth and Max heard what Demetrius said.
“You sense more now?” Seth stopped putting the saddle on his horse.
“Yes,” Demetrius nodded, “We all do. There will be something to come up that will require magic.”
I thought of Candor, the thief that Arthur paid to get precious stolen goods to sell. I really remembered that scene Demetrius used with him as an avenging angel and all of the Thornes in the Lake of Fire in Hell!
I had a feeling like a person greeted warmly by strangers where they threw a big party and feast. The overwhelmed guest finds out he’s the Human sacrifice to a volcano or something. He was going to die.
“Is there a place we can put Toby and Thomas to keep them safe?” I asked shakily.
“No,” Dara appeared next to Demetrius. “They need to be with you,” She shrugged. “At least that’s what we feel.”
“Why!?” Seth bellowed.
“We don’t know!” Demetrius and Dara said together just as loud.
I held up my hand to stop Seth, “Abraham and Isaac.”
Demetrius and Dara smiled. “Yes.”
“What!?” Seth blurted looking at me.
“It’s from the old Scriptures,” I quietly said. “It’s in the very first book.” I saw Seth shake his head so I explained. “God spoke to Abraham, promising those born of his seed would number like the countless stars in the sky.” I shrugged, “Abraham was ninety-nine years old and his wife Sarah was eighty-nine. They had no children.”
Seth’s eyes widened, “They were like them?” He pointed at Demetrius and Dara.
I chuckled with a nod, “Maybe a little, but after Noah the life spans began to shrink. You couldn’t have anyone giving birth every other year for a century or two.” I looked at Demetrius and Dara and remembered the lack of any births for the past two centuries. “Sorry.”
“Who decides this!?” Max asked in disbelief.
Demetrius shrugged, “It just is.”
Seth shook his head at Max, “Don’t bother, Max. All those questions I’ve asked got answers that really didn’t satisfy, so...just let it go.”
I shook my head, “Back to what we were talking about. Abraham was over a hundred years old and Sarah was ninety-nine when she gave birth to Isaac.” I didn’t need to see Seth’s whole face to see doubt in his eyes. “I can show you where it says that.” I patted Demetrius. “He’s over four centuries old!” I won that argument. “Anyway, God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to him.”
Max nodded, “I remember that from Sunday School. He was a mere second from doing it when God stopped him.”
“I don’t get it.” Seth said. “It was a test?”
“Yes,” I nodded. “How could Abraham’s seed be like the stars if there was no Isaac? His reaction was tested. Abraham knew God couldn’t keep his promise without Isaac. He’d get Isaac back.” I shrugged. “Don’t you see? We were told both of our sons were bringing in a new era for mankind. Both of them.” I pointed at Toby who was rubbing his horse’s nose affectionately. The horse was nuzzling him, returning the affection. “He will be fine with us.” I turned to Demetrius. “And Thomas?”
“He will return home safely,” Dara smiled. “We promise.”