For those few who returned to work, you have something to read. For those that return later, its your own fault. Labor Day. (I'm jealous. I'm house-bound with little excitement.) I create my own excitement. I love all of you. Especially you, Daniel.
Tarasque de Noves
We did take a little time to get Max steady again. At least stabilized enough to get on his horse and stay there upright.
“I’m sorry,” Max said a little shaky. “What I did was stupid.”
I nodded, “It wasn’t the best tactical move, but it did prove one thing.”
“What?” Max asked. “That the men from Creid can’t change?” He asked a little bitterly.
“I hope not!” I grinned. “Some of my dearest friends come from Creid.” I shook my head, “I don’t want any of you to change. You proved to be Human, Max.”
Seth leaned toward Max, “That’s a good thing.” Seth stage whispered so we all could hear.
Wahkooha was very patient and even his six men were patient. They probably saw Wahkooha do magic and knew there were consequences for questioning. Then again, Chitto told me a warrior’s training included patience. What did I know? I often ran out of patience, Toby and Dennis tested that so many times when growing up. Especially Dennis who could be bullheaded at only a couple of months of age.
We finally followed Wahkooha and his men. The northwest had mountains and the ocean. I had yet to see it, but Chitto said it was there. He knew about the trees, so we believed him. The road bent to the left and down to the right was a spectacular view of a city on the water. The road was carved into the side of the mountain to make it easier for wagons pulled by horses. Natives didn’t really do that. A path up the mountain was fine for them or a single horse with a rider. Remember, before Europians and others got here, they didn’t have horses originally. Cities were also something Natives did NOT do normally either. Chitto and the other Muskogeans had more permanent houses and buildings now. Most of the large tribes, however, did not settle the same way we did. The tribes migrated according to the season, so few permanent structures were needed. Owning land didn’t make sense to any of them, almost. Below was a good sized city, but the architecture was very different from A’Dore, Blethos, or Creid. They were round. Yes, round, like all of these many colored spheres were sunken in the ground. There were big spheres and little spheres that were set in many colors. Unlike my family that were Muskogee, it wasn’t just the curtains or awnings that added color, but the whole structure. I will give most Natives a huge amount of credit about taste. Not one structure was a pastel. There were bright red, blue, dazzling yellow that added brightness to the dull grey cast sky. No green. They were surrounded by green with many trees that were forever green. There would be a lot more green in Spring and Summer. The trees that shed their leaves had done that weeks ago, but there was still green in trees. Stairs from the street allowed entrance into this...whatever it was. The design made a lot of sense. Chitto told us during the Summer was really the only time the sun really showed itself. Autumn, Winter, and Spring it rained often. The rain would simply roll off these round structures. Snow would too when it was the conditions were right. There were hundreds of these spheres in Gitchi giving it a festive appearance even now and most had smoke coming up from them for warmth or cooking. Maybe both. There were a few really big ones that seemed to be made up of a few spheres with grooves on the side of the spheres allowing runoff. There was also a port I never saw a tribe have or use. The water Gitchi was on was a bay of some sort, but went for miles! Chitto told us a larger sea was about twenty-five miles away and that sea emptied into the Pacific Ocean. This was the best place for a city and there were smaller communities hidden on the side of the long bay to defend against naval attack.
I let my horse slow down to allow Toby and Thomas to catch up. It was about to begin getting dark, so the temperature would fall again. It took my arms out and began signing to both of them. Hopefully, Thomas had enough from the years before to understand.
“Say nothing out loud about anything you observed,” I signed, but didn’t move my mouth. Toby nodded, so I went on, “Explain just enough to your cousin. I know you saw something. We’ll talk about it, but I don’t want to risk being overheard.” Toby nodded again.
Thomas grinned, signing, “I got it, Uncle Erik.” He also didn’t move his mouth.
“Just checking,” I assured him. I caught up with Seth.
“Did you...?” Seth asked.
“Yep,” I answered.
Now, this was tricky. The Natives here pretty much have used sign language since...well, forever! They may speak English now, but before there were so many tribes with their own language. However, they all used the same sign language. Chitto showed me when we were kids, but it was nothing like we used with Toby. The language we used had changed over the years. Signs for words had been shortened or combined to make it easier. Toby could speak to anyone in the family and be understood. Bent and Garth might get confused if we used the “family language” with them and they knew sign language. Wahkooha had managed to “see” and “hear” through others. Or at least as Tawa, he could. I in no way believed Tawa was the real god Tawa speaking through Wahkooha. We were told again and again it was a Child of Eve. It wasn’t because I doubted Tawa ever existed. I was in no position to say with authority that Demetrius’ “Big Guy” was real. Who's to say He didn’t appear to these people as Tawa? But He never appeared to anyone. Remember Christ’s mother Mary? After He got her pregnant, he sent an angel to tell her about it. You have to wonder how He delivered His manseed to her. I did. I even asked Him. I did, really! Of course, I didn’t get an answer, but...I didn’t really expect one.
I doubted Wahkooha ever saw us sign before, so he didn’t know everything. Seth, Toby, Thomas, and I, could communicate with each other and no one could overhear or if they saw us signing, they wouldn’t know what we said.
We arrived at a big structure that had flatter sides. It still had the round roofs. It was bigger than Seth’s and my home in Royal Valley, but not the size if Blethos’ Palace or A’Dore’s Palace. We were led into an entryway on a marble floor. Marble! I didn’t know a single tribe that used that. It was used by Greeks and Romans first, but quarries were found here on this continent that supplied plenty of marble from it’s quarries.
The tallest room was the entrance hall as our footfalls echoed. It was a cool room, lacking heat from any fireplace or stove.
Wahkooha turned and smiled at us, “I know you’ll be hungry soon, but I’m sure you would like to clean up before you eat.” Two women came in. He waved at one woman, barely more than a girl. “This is Winnie,” he motioned to the other one a little older, “and this is Benithia.”
“Winnie, I got,” Seth muttered and shrugged, “Winifred, but Benithia?”
“There are tubs in a couple of rooms,” Wahkooha said. “Follow them and you have clean clothes waiting after a hot bath.” He gave us a shooing motion to do as instructed. The corridors curved gradually to make an eventual circle. All doors to rooms went toward the center of the overall sphere. Windows were on the other side of the corridor where they were propped open, but closed now. We brought glass making with us from Europa, but that could be cold when the weather was. These corridors were shorter in height, but overly wide.
Technology was just what it was, applied science to ease lives. There were lights on the walls where a bright flame danced on a fat wick. The lights were chubby glass bowls of oil so the level of oil could be seen. The fat wick was almost an inch around sitting in red oil. There was glass cover around the flame and a shiny brass plate reflected the light outward. I sincerely wanted to know who was responsible for these designs. They were nothing short of ingenious.
We pulled Thomas and Toby in the room with us. Not for safety, but so we could talk. We let the others decide who got divided in the Creid group. They had a game they played quickly with their fingers and hand. A finger stuck out meant something, a flat hand meant something, and a bald fist meant something. The losers were quickly dealt with and went in one room and the winners did it again. I smiled as Beau turned to us in triumph.
“I won!” Beau smiled happily.
Seth and I were smiling at Beau’s happiness, but Seth asked the question, “Great!” Seth said just as enthusiastically, but then asked seriously, “Now, explain what you all just did that you won.”
Beau didn’t seem to know why we didn’t know it, but he nodded, “We do it whenever we first take turns or go somewhere. Stone, parchment, and sword. You do not know this!?”
I grinned as we walked in the room we were to use. “We don’t, but if you explain it, that won’t be true anymore.”
“Sure,” Beau nodded, smiling bigger, “We hold our fists out and put our fists in a circle three time and hold what we choose. A flat hand for parchment, a finger is a sword, and a fist is a stone.”
“And victory is what?” I asked.
“Parchment covers stone, stone breaks sword, and a sword cuts parchment!” Beau said logically.
Okay, it made sense.
As we got the furs off and started to undress, Toby held his shirt together and looked at Winnie. He was acting like taking his clothes off in front of her was something he wouldn’t do. Was he really that shy?
“After you get undressed,” Winnie instructed, “Place them in a pile there. Fresh clothes are waiting over there. We have a bathroom,” she pointed to a tall troth that had water constantly coming down. “Solid waste over there.” She pointed to some odd shaped toilets. There were two side by side and four sets. The big one was, and let’s be honest, the shape of a person’s ass when we did that solid stuff. I found out the smaller one shot warm water at your ass to clean it. No cloth needed. Again, ingenious. I heard of something like it from Europa for the rich. Bidets? Plumbing had been around a while in Roma. Winnie took the discomfort of a child and left us.
Five nearly blinding white tubs sat as steam rose in the air from them. There were large white...fireplaces? They stood on legs and we heard fires in large pot bellies that we closed, but they radiated heat. There was a bottle on each tub and a cloth for drying when we were done.
Seth began to sign to Toby. We had no way of knowing if anyone could overhear or see us, so no one shaped words with our mouths. “What did you see?”
Toby spelled out Wahkooha and gave a sign telling us that would be Wahkooha’s sign from now on. It was shorter. “I don’t know if Wahkooha is a Native.” He hurried on. “If he is, I’m sure one parent was European.”
That was odd. I’ll explain. In history, marriages in the tribes were not necessarily permanent. Don’t gasp! We do it, too. And get this, a man could have more than one wife! Again, don’t get too excited guys, the women could have more than one husband, too. Divorce was very simple as neither owned anything, meaning nothing was divided so they just seperated. Family wasn’t just a mother, father, aunts, uncles, and siblings. More than one family joined together to form an extended family. There were siblings that shared a single parent, but they all lived together. Peacefully! No one gender was better than the other. Men and women shared the same status in the community. Practically no tribe had a written language when we got here those thousand plus years ago. Cultures change. Written language was seen as an advantage and sped the natural development along. Our cultures merged. Not just on the Natives. They had effects on those from Europeans and Britains. For example, when people from the Church came to tell everyone, especially the Natives, they were burning in Hell if they didn’t convert. My Great Grandfather threw them out of A’Dore where God split them. My Great Grandmother was Muskogee! Nobody was telling my grandmother she was going to Hell! I never met her, but I was told no one was more kind or considerate. Everyone loved her. She and other Natives brought tolerance with them. (Some didn’t get the gender equality part. Tolerance? Many still didn’t know the meaning of the word.) Oh, yes, and one more thing. Christian and I had Native blood, yes. We were family with Chitto and his father Harjo, yes. My cousins might not agree, but tradition was that you’re part of the tribe if you were born from a member of the tribe. A female Muskogee member has to give birth to the next generation. Grandfather was her son. His son, my father, was not. Neither were Christian and I for the same reason. Got it?
That really wasn’t a rabbit, it really is related.
“Chitto said there were quite a few tribes up here," I signed. “They must have joined together.”
We heard the sound of water as Beau got in a tub and sighed with contentment. “My toes are finally getting warm.”
“I want warm toes, too,” Seth finished undressing. We all did so we could have warm toes.
We had just gotten settled and in the middle of cleaning when Lukus was suddenly there.
“Lukus!” Seth said looking about the room suspiciously, “We might be watched or listened to.”
Lukus shook his head, “Not at the moment. I won’t allow it.” He pointed at Toby, “Toby’s right. He’s only a quarter Native, but he is a member of the tribe.”
“Meaning?” Seth asked.
“He was born a Native. Meaning his mother was born of a Native, but her father was not.” I explained looking at Lukus. “That doesn’t explain how he could aim lightning from the sky to hit Max wherever he wanted?”
Lukus nodded, “He was able to block us for a while. Ceto got an answer today. His mother is a granddaughter of a very powerful Shaman. His father was a very powerful Druid Mage.”
“So,” Seth shrugged, “he’s a magician.”
“Do not minimize this, Seth,” Lukus stressed, “It’s a talent they have passed down for generations for two or three thousand years! He’s a powerful man that can really access the magic.”
Suddenly, there were loud splashing sounds coming from Toby’s tub. I can only remember one time he’d done this before as he spoke so fast in his sudden excitement his words were...unknown! “...at...ot...aw!” He slapped his own forehead. He was in a tub between Seth and me, and we could just reach an arm each.
“Calm down, Son,” Seth urged.
“And slow down,” I added. Like I said, he had great peripheral vision so he understood us both, “Say it again.”
He sighed, not because we didn’t understand, but in frustration that he failed to communicate. So, he went back to signing knowing we would understand that and he could express emotions better. “I knew I’d seen it before once in A’Dore. A year or so ago, Ada and Ana had a professor about different cultures in Europa and Britannia. There was a book on Celtic and Gaelic groups!” Toby had to shake his hands out as he was signing so fast. “It had these illustrations of this…” he struggled to remember and spelled it out, “Tarasque de Noves, it’s a Druid Deity that is a lion holding two Human heads. That was hanging around Wahkooha’s neck. On his right index finger was a wide silver ring that had Cernunnos, which is a woodland god that is supposed to be very powerful.”
“You were staring at him on the trail,” Thomas marveled. “You saw that when?”
“Right then,” Toby replied verbally.
“How!?” Thomas blurted.
I nodded waving my hand at Thomas, “If your cousin said he saw something. It’s true. He sees way more than anyone except for,” I shrugged a nod, “maybe God.”
“You read my sisters’ textbook,” Thomas said to confirm.
“Well, no.” Toby felt some further explanation was needed, “I didn’t read it, I kind of skimmed over a lot of it.”
Toby admitted with a look of regret as Thomas just nodded in stunned amazement repeating, “You just sort of skimmed over it.”
“Yes,” Toby said. “That’s why I had trouble remembering it. Skimming isn’t that good to remember facts.”
“You skimmed over it for only a few seconds and remember THAT!?” Seth asked in disbelief. “You take after him.” He pointed at me.
What could I say? Seth’s and my son was a genius! A parent could not be more proud!!
Lukus was smiling, too, “And like we said, Wahkooha accesses the magic differently. He can access it, but uses something like we did with the magic when we redid the house in Thorne Valley and it became the new house in Royal Valley. Remember? We used those wands to focus our visions for the house and concentrated the magic.”
“We’ll never forget that,” I assured Lukus.
“Even if a head injury was involved,” Seth added, “neither of us could forget that.”
I looked over at Seth, “But let’s not test that theory.” I looked again at Lukus. “He uses these two…” I waved at Toby, “things he said they were, like magic wands?”
Lukus again nodded, “Now, this is key...” he leaned toward us, “only God has ever enchanted objects. The fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the juice from the Forbidden Fruit...”
“Aren’t they the same?” Seth asked.
“Yes,” I answered quickly, but didn’t miss Seth’s eye roll.
“I married a priest,” Seth moaned.
I sat back, “Oh, God, no!!” I instantly shot back and then grinned. “I studied more than most priests have.” I shrugged, “And they’re supposed to be celabate. I’m not.”
Lukus frowned, but there was humor still in his eyes. “As I was saying, this Tarasque de Noves and ring with Cernunnos have been enchanted for generations!”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“It means,” Lukus began, “His ancestors have put their ability to access magic in those objects since BEFORE any empire in Greece or Roma. Meaning even with all of Lilith’s Children combining our magic, we can’t take them off Wahkooha. His magic is very powerful and very different.”
“What can we do?” Beau asked.
I was surprised, too. There was no indication that Beau was listening and I scolded myself for assuming he wouldn’t understand. His question was proof he did understand.
“Great question,” I said to Beau. “How can we make him take them off?”
Lukus nodded, “He never does.” This time, there was no chair to slide over like when Demetrius sat. Lukus was sitting down, seeming like he was going to fall flat on his back as nothing but the floor was beneath him. I could see Seth, Thomas, and I were going to stop him, but when he got into what would be a comfortable sitting position in a favored chair, he stopped going anywhere. The man even crossed his legs as men do in a comfortable chair, only...there was NO CHAIR!! Even with all I had seen Demetrius and Dara do, I never saw either of them do THAT!! He was suspended by nothing. I learned never to say anything was impossible, but this...this seemed IMPOSSIBLE!! “I know Demetrius told you how we get instructions from…” he pointed straight up, “Him.”
It was a second or two before I regained my voice, “He did,” I nodded. “He communicates with a feeling as to what you can do or are not to do.”
“That’s right,” Lukus nodded, “so when I say none of us felt what we did when we asked Him. It was so strong, it was like a shout! YOU have to figure out how to do it.”
“That’s not all He said,” Demetrius said and just walked up. Seth, Toby, and I had seen this before, so we didn’t react. Thomas knew about Demetrius, but was shocked. Beau was unaffected because he knew they did magic and wasn’t surprised when they used it.
“I was getting to that!” Lukus argued. “You interrupted me.”
“We,” Demetrius pointed at Lukus and to himself, “are available to do whatever we can to help you.”
Lukus shook his head at Demetrius, “The way you said it makes it sound like just the two of us!” He looked at Seth and me, “He means Dara, Ceto, and Martha, too.”
“But if your magic doesn’t work on him…” Seth began.
“No,” Demetrius said, “but it works on everyone else. You know what we won’t do.”
I nodded, “You won’t hurt anyone.”
Seth grinned, “But you can certainly scare the Hell out of them!”
“We can,” Lukus smiled, “Not Wahkooha, but the other Natives.”
“We need to plan what to do.” Demetrius agreed. He pointed up. “It seems He wants the Children of Lilith and the Children of Eve have to work together to solve this mess.”
“Can we be sure we won’t be overheard or watched?” Seth asked.
Lukus smirked, “Just as our magic can’t really affect him, his magic can’t really affect us.” He looked smug as he folded his arms across his chest. “Just call one of our names and we’ll make sure he can’t and won’t.”
“But he can affect us,” I said solemnly. “Even hurt us.”
“We need a good plan,” Lukus said.
“Isn’t magic…” Seth thought for a word and shrugged, “magic?”
“Well, the magic is just there like the air.” Demetrius explained. “How it’s used is different. You’ve experienced three different kinds of magic. Ours, Wahkooha’s, and the magic that took your scars away.”
“Wasn’t that God?” I asked. “Or at least Lilith maybe?”
Both Lukus and Demetrius shrugged, “We still don’t know.” Demetrius said sadly. “We can’t hurt or heal.”
“Wait a minute,” I held my hand up. “Christ did, but He claimed he was the Son of God, but there were many besides him who healed and caused people to rise from the dead.”
Seth nodded with arms folded across his chest, “Yeah, what about that?” He looked at me. “I no longer question what you say is the scriptures. You say it’s there, it’s there.”
I rolled my eyes at Seth, but I knew what he was doing. He kept things light so we wouldn’t frighten Toby or Thomas. Who knew with Beau? “Thank you.” I looked down at myself and grinned. “We better finish up, my skin’s wrinkling. We’ll get what we can from Wahkooha so we can plan.”
Lukus nodded, “Just say any of our names even in front of Wahkooha. We’ll be there.”
Demetrius leaned toward me, “You’re not alone with this, Son,” I saw his face get very serious for the first time I’d ever seen him as he touched my arm, “We won’t let any of you get hurt.”
“I believe and trust you, Dad,” I admitted, “but I don’t want anyone hurt in our home countries either.”
His jovial face came back, “Then get busy! You ARE pruning up.” He turned to Lukus, “Show me that invisible chair thing again. I’ve landed on my ass every TIME!”
“Practice,” Lukus said and they both disappeared. “You’ll get it.” We heard fading in an unseen distance.