I took a little time to carefully check some facts. It's expected for fiction writers to make things up. But facts need to make sense at the end. If the impossible happens, make sure sure the reader knows that.
“Merlin!?” Seth asked carefully. “King Arthur’s friend and advisor? That Merlin?”
She nodded with a smile, “That’s him.”
I was nodding as it was making sense! “Sure! I can see that!”
“He’s just a character in a story!” Seth said rising and pointed with both hands at her, but looked at me. “It could also be a lie!”
“A lie?” I asked, “To do what?”
Seth’s head turned a little, “Well, that would be an answer to a question I haven’t asked yet.”
“Oh, I see,” I said, “Let me help you.” I looked at Eabha. “Your father was Merlin? King Arthur’s Merlin?”
Eabha smiled and looked up for some guidance. “Technically, no.”
Seth stood straighter in triumph, “Aha!” He pointed at Eabha. “See!?”
Her near giggle caused her look even younger! “Daddy’s name was Soren.” She shook her head and said, “And there really wasn’t a King Arthur. His real name was Fiacha. The name Arthur just sounded better. So did Merlin.” She did have an accent that was sort of different than most people from Ireland had.
“You speak mostly in Gaelic,” I observed.
She nodded quickly, “Almost exclusively at home.” She waved at the floor, “May I?”
I quickly stood, as did every man at the table. She lowered strategically to a pillow keeping her legs folded to keep the gown from sliding up or bunching...whatever.
“Forgive us,” I said to her. “Your unique arrival clogged up the manners we normally follow.” I helped her settle in. “Can we get you something?”
“I’ll just have some coffee,” Eabha smiled, but waved at a young woman who was going to bring some. “If you’re going to get it,” she looked smiling at her. “Don’t bother. It’s on its way.” She pointed as a tall mug hoovered below a steaming pitcher. Another one came and added cream and another came sugar. The mug came and lowered in front of her. “May I use your spoon?” Even with the nod of consent, Eabha didn’t touch the spoon, but it went in the coffee mug and began making slow circles. Using magic was such a part of her life, she didn’t think about it. “Daddy did help Fiacha get some land and protect others. They were together for forty years!”
Seth sat a bit quickly, “Together?”
Eabha smiled and pointed at Seth and me, “Yes, together.” She chuckled, “They didn’t say they were married, but…”
“See!?” Demetrius pointed out. “I told you, you weren’t the first.:
“Dad had four marriages,” Eabha shrugged, “If you count that one. The last one was to my mother. The others had no children.”
Demetrius nodded, “He married three Children of Eve?”
She smiled a bit slyly, “My mother is named Morganna.”
“Morgan le Fae?” Toby asked in near reverence.
Eabha nodded, “Yes, she was.”
“The writers made her a villain!” Chitto said in a loud voice.
Eabha laughed, “My mother found that very funny.” She threw her hands out helplessly. “It was not just quickly written, but it took centuries to grow into the epic it is now. Much of it is from folklore. Quite a few from Wales helped bring the story along. Nennius was a Welch monk to write about twelve battles where,” she did the air quotes, “Arthur single handedly killed 960 men.”
“Certainly,” I began waving at Eabha, “you know she’s a Child of Lilith.”
“So?” Seth said. “We knew one that tried to kill every Human Being!!”
“And did not lie once!” I said with a smile growing.
“Are you NUTS!?” Seth bellowed.
I looked at the others at the table, “Am I?” I chuckled to everyone and then looked at Seth again. “Or, is that a rhetorical question because the answer is obvious?”
“But…” Seth began.
“She didn’t! She looked at the evidence and came up with the wrong conclusion,” I nodded. “She made an error in thinking, but she didn’t lie. In fact, she stated so everyone knew what she planned.”
“After they confronted her!” Seth waved in the direction of Dara, Lukus, and others. “And they didn’t always tell the whole truth!”
“And when they couldn’t talk about it,” I liked this new Seth!! He was not the least bit shy, “they explained they couldn’t and even why!”
Eabha was now really enjoying this as we bantered. She looked at Toby, “Are they always like this?”
“Yep,” Toby shrugged with a smile, “As long as I’ve known them. Uncle Gabe says they get dinner and a show when they come for dinner. My Dads enjoy it. It’s always funny. Sometimes they even disagree! Usually, they agree to disagree.” No one had told Eabha Toby was deaf, but she had to have figured it out as she knew to speak to Toby so he could see her face. “There are some writings that Morgan and Arthur shared a father, but had different mothers. It also said they had a child together named Mordred.”
“Many taboos were used,” Eabha shook her head, “I am the only child of either my mother or father.” She chuckled, “I was born late in both of their lives.”
Seth’s attention was taken from our squabble, “I was led to believe,” he pointed at her, but had trouble expressing what he wanted to say, “your...cycle stops and you get the hot flashes and sweats…”
Eabha smiled bigger at Seth’s delicate approach to what normally was a subject no proper gentleman would EVER consider talking about. “You mean our periods?” It was said on purpose to get a reaction from Seth and he did react. He began turning red. She shrugged, “It’s all part of the cycle of life.” She leaned toward the others, “None were more surprised than my mother.” Her head shook, “and my father! He was surprised, too.” She looked at Seth. “You understand why that happens, right?”
Seth was almost crimson now, “I paid attention during Biology.”
My eyebrows rose as I looked at Seth, “I’m surprised Arthur, your stepfather slash uncle, let you be taught. I assume he had you taught the truth?”
Seth chuckled, “He sort of had to. Deena had turned fourteen!” He raised a finger, “This was the only time I ever agreed with Deena. Ever.” He swore. “Arthur didn’t want to talk to any of us about sex. He did like he always did.”
I nodded as I grinned, “He hired someone else to do it.”
Seth was visually agreeing, “He hired someone else to do it. I heard Deena tell Arthur he was about two years too late. Arthur didn’t have a clue.”
“Grace?” I asked.
“Grace,” Seth nodded.
“Thank GOD we just have boys,” I said, “I felt sorry for Bent and Garth. They have three and two are girls.”
“Poor Garth,” I chuckled, “and poor Bent!!” I smiled at Eabha. “As open as I have been with our two sons with everything I know about puberty and Human reproduction. I’d have found a way if they were girls.”
“In fact,” Thomas swore with a grin, “Uncle Erik made Dad swear he’d tell me the truth. It was agonizing!!” He saw a few confused faces. “I was fine, but Dad was in all shades of discomfort. How did I explain he simply confirmed what I suspected?”
Eabha laughed heartily, “I know you would, but let’s be honest. A young woman growing up would feel better if they spoke to a woman and knows what to do from experience.” She leaned a little closer and whispered. “You could pass on information, but…” she shrugged, “Every girl is born with about five hundred eggs.” She smiled at me, “You’ve seen things through the Seers. You might look at them, too. The Daughters of Lilith has a slightly longer cycle than the Daughters of Eve. It’s not once a month.”
Demetrius smiled, “And is it coincidence that you were one of those five hundred?”
“There are some coincidences,” Eabha shrugged a slow nod and shrug. “You’re speaking about defying the odds.”
“You were meant to be here,” Demetrius said simply.
“Merlin and Morgan le Fae were married,” Val said aloud as he worked it into his mind.
“Yes,” Eabha said patiently.
“There is a mention that Morgan le Fae shares the same father with Arthur,” Val said carefully, “but have different mothers, and THEY had a son, she and her half-brother.”
“There was a Mordred,” Eabha assured us. “But neither of my parents were anyone’s parents but mine,” She nodded at me. “He was like you. A Child of Eve who could use magic.”
Seth sighed, “Are you certain there is no quota about the number of Lilith’s Children that can visit all at once?”
“No,” Eabha laughed. “You don’t mind that I came, do you?”
“Not at all!” I said quickly. “The more, the merrier!”
“I heard my father’s character name,” she waved with her right hand, “then my mother’s name was said and you were speaking about the Fea, Camelot...I felt a kind of obligation.”
“You’re more than welcome,” I looked at Dakotah. “But I shouldn’t, should I?” I looked at Seth. “This isn’t my home.”
Dakotah looked distracted, but the fact I was addressing him made his attention snapback, “What? Oh, yes. This is for all of you and you’re more than welcome.”
“I had heard of one as a fanciful story,” Seth pointed at Dara, “I meet him,” he pointed at Demetrius, “I meet all three,” he pointed at Lukus, “who introduces Martha. Then Ceto...who else is coming!?”
I took his hand, “We won’t know until they get here!”
We took a little while longer breaking our fast from the night before. Soon, however, Eabha was one of the crowd.
Just a warning. I had nothing to do with what was happening, but I saw it. A young woman, about sixteen or seventeen, had become engrossed in a conversation. With Thomas! Yes, yes, I am always telling you that people were nice looking. She was a Native, but she was also Japanese! Naturally, her mother was a Native and her father was Japanese. She was beautiful! Young, but very pretty. I saw an interesting combination of behaviors. The Native part of her was confident and sure of herself. The Japanese part was demure and shy. She had been taught by her father how to behave.
“She hasn’t moved at all,” Seth chuckled and shrugged, “It’s been a few minutes.”
My grin grew, “She’s busy.”
“Serving Thomas,” Seth smiled.
“He needs to choose someone,” I said logically. “I was married at his age! Besides, I understand. Here, he’s free.”
“Free?” Seth asked. “From what?”
“The pressure from being A’Dore’s Crowned Prince and being there for display!” I went into an imitation of my tutor who taught me manners, where to stand to greet people. When and where to eat unseen. One didn’t turn to a guest with something caught in your teeth. All the proper eticate had to be followed, “You have to set an example.” I looked at Thomas, “Here, he’s just Tom.” I chuckled, “The family could do with another more exotic branch in the family tree. We have plenty of Natives.”
“Oh,” Seth grinned as if gaining sudden insight, “that’s right! The men of A’Dore’s Royal Family don’t take long to decide. How many hours did Christian spend with Ella before he chose Ella?”
“About four,” I said and wasn’t finished.
Seth interrupted, “You, too!”
“We had almost a week!” I said smiling at him. “Christian and Ella had six months from the ball to the wedding so it would be spring!”
“Oooh,” Seth began, “That’s just cruel. Do you want to talk about foreplay!”
“I had to be considered an adult to enter into a contract without a parental signature,” I shrugged, “I know A’Dore and Blethos has that age limit to prevent impulsive decisions.” I held my hand out. “Many fathers don’t approve of his daughters choice and have the marriage annulled. You were just down the hall from me! They had guards stand watch outside of Ella’s room to protect her from Christian!”
“Really?” Seth shook as he laughed, “That had to be agony!”
“And we’ve been happy a decade!” I shook a scolding finger at him. “I was told by a reliable source that Sam told Terry they were to marry on date one.”
Seth was again nodding, “That’s right they dated a year!”
“So, he could talk her into it,” I pointed out. “It took a YEAR!!”
“Would you have wanted to get Arthur’s signature to get permission to do ANYTHING!?”
Jason’s training was very thorough. I did things without thinking about it now. The move and countermove was automatic now. It was the week I turned eleven when I first began training. It was a few years later when Jason took me aside and put fireworks in my heart.
“You’ve got a good eye, Your Highness,” Jason said seriously. “You think fast on your feet.”
For a mere second, I thought he was joking. Jason did NOT joke. He taught all of A’Dore’s royalty and guards. And he never gave praise when it wasn’t earned. For three years he would prod me. What happened only happened a few times, but… “I would like you to become a Praetorian Guard.”
I’m sure I looked down because my teeth fell out on the floor. One man out of a hundred guards would qualify for the Praetorian Guard. Out of those few, only one made it. (That was what they called the elite soldier defending the Emperor in Italia.)
Jason let a ghost of a chuckle go and said, “You should close your mouth or you’ll attract flies. It’s eight weeks of very intense training. Just because you’re a king’s son and now his brother...I will expect top performance from you.”
Because I was a king’s son and now one’s brother, that probably did affect my performance. Jason believed in teaching what works. On that point Jason was like the Creid. Whatever it took; you did it to win. One more time. The style Darius and other men born into wealth, it was pretty. Those artistic turns and steps looked “wonderful.” Not the move to make to avoid impaling yourself. I didn’t often think about any of it. It was NOT pleasant at all.
Using the other hand! Yes! There were guards that preferred to use their left hand instead of their right. It was crucial you learned to be as deadly with both hands. I’m right handed, if you want to know.
I think I was compartmentalizing thoughts and feelings back then. Those two months sort of blended together for me into a long nightmare. I told Christian, but not Ella who was now queen and beginning to show. Thomas was on the way! Or Thomasina. Christian swore not to tell her if she didn’t have to be. I told Christian what I thought about it. There was no one better than I was to guard Christian as king.
It was NOT pleasant. We went to an area of A’Dore I had never been before. Except for a sunrise or sunset, the length of time was hard to gather. I remember being woken up at night. The sun would rise and fall giving me directions. There were four of us that began training like this. We weren’t always together and I recognized some Natives Tactics to use. Then three and finally one. Me. I wasn’t the smartest and was scared many times which at low times, I was reduced to tears because of the tension. One thing I wouldn’t be is a quitter! One side of me questioned the sanity of the other. I couldn’t quit! I was stunned when Jason stood before me on a horse and black riderless Arabian Stallion was next to him.
“You passed,” Jason smiled at me. “Do you need a moment to get on the horse?”
The nightmare was over? I really was surprised! I shook my head, “I need a bath, a warm meal, and bed.” I looked around us. No one else was there. “Where are the others?”
Jason’s smile grew, “You are all that remained. Rex called it quits a week ago.”
I wasn’t wallowing in luxury for eight weeks, but to quit with only a week left!? I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in a mirror! Anyway. There was a kind of a reception, but the only women at this ball were the dates of the other Preatorical Guards. And Ella. She was nearing the end of her pregnancy. There were mystics, doctors, and just a plethora of others who were wagering on the birth. We would know at birth, but the baby lived. Often Ella swore the baby care how things were arranged and was moving furniture! Twice, I saw what had to be an elbow over her belly. This “kid” wanted out. Now!
Where was I going? Oh, yes! I’ve only worn that uniform three other times. I wasn’t ashamed of it. I earned the right to wear it, dammit!! As it WAS a uniform in A’Dore, it looked like one. I don’t know who decided what the colors would be, but this one was red. Head to toe it was all red. Helmet to boots. Red. It was made to cause people to stare. Most of the time, I wore regular clothes and could blend in a crowd and protect Christian and Ella.
Ella at last gave birth. A seven pound baby boy! Thirty hours! In my head, I heard a dungeon key turn in a lock and a door squeak open. I was free!! Thomas was...a handful. He was a good baby, but there was not a damned thing wrong with his lungs! When a meal was late, according to his internal clock, he let everyone know! He needed changing, he let everyone know. When he couldn’t explain why he was upset, he let everyone know. Thomas loved his mother. Naturally. He loved his Dad, and his crazy uncle. He would tolerate some of the ladies that helped Ella, but Ella stated SHE was his mother. No one else. The trick, I learned, was not to show fear. I had just completed training to do that! Remember? A grown man afraid of an infant!? Thomas was...sturdy. I often chuckled as Christian would start with Thomas very gently, then when Thomas responded by NOT breaking. Thomas enjoyed his Daddy! I wasn’t Thomas’ parent. When I voiced that to them, they immediately responded with questions about my not liking Thomas! Almost two weeks they asked together and separately about that. Yes, he had one mother. He had one father. He also only had one Uncle. Me! (Yes, Seth, too now. You know what I am saying.)
Thomas grew like a weed! He was interested in...everything!
Okay, I was more excited than many men. The last baby in the palace was me!
“How long did you take?” Seth asked me as he smiled. “You announced to me BEFORE you got out of the lake I was the next king.” He raised his hands helplessly, “Sam was the only one of us that ever courted anyone!”
“Which he knew that first date!” I argued. “My parents’ marriage was arranged. Wasn’t your parents?”
Seth nodded, “When she was six and he was eight!” He held up his finger for a point. “My father worshipped her.”
I had to smile at that, “He did.” I shrugged, “I was told Dad did, but I can’t remember her.”
Seth smiled with compassion, “He must have. He never remarried, right?”
“No!” I said quickly. A bit too quickly even for me. I grudged a nod, “He took his vows to my mother very seriously.” I laughed lightly, “He swore before the people and God Himself to honor those marriage vows.” I pushed against the table to get another inch from Seth’s face to improve my perspective. “And why does she have to give voice to her virtue and not him?” I threw a hand up, “Hell, they grant the man permission to cheat!” I held a hand up to him. “They expect he will and these mistresses are given legal status!” I shook my head, “I knew Dad was a regular man and had normal urges as a man. He told Christian and I to avoid tempting ourselves and to keep the family line going. I can’t believe he would risk it.” I held up my object finger, “King Mordor and King Yannick…”
“Which he never does with Delta!”
I slapped Seth lightly on the chest, “Exactly! And the witnesses!!”
“Witnesses?” Seth asked.
“For the Royal Consummation!”
“What!?” Seth sat back shaking his head. “There’s no way Christian would ever…”
“No,” I chuckled, “He didn’t. He has trouble saying what a body part is. He wouldn’t.”
Unlearning something sounds easy! It wasn’t. Things happen in conflict and a portion of my mind would take charge and I would go into a state of mind where I really didn’t need to think about what to do. It was a habit! That’s where I would detach emotionally. Children of Eve had to bring those emotions to the surface.
It was midafternoon when I was stopped again. Demetrius came behind me and began kneading my shoulders to loosen up. “That was a little better.”
I waved at the polished wooden stick on the ground. It was only a couple of feet long. “It barely moved!”
Demetrius nodded, “But it moved.” He pointed out.
Seth looked at Lukus beside him, “Does it have to be love? He wasn’t loving Wahkooha that night.”
“But it was!” Lukus corrected with a smile. “A powerful love between a parent and their child. Erik would do whatever he had to do to protect both of your sons.”
Seth nodded, “That’s true.” He suddenly looked up. “I’ll be right back!”
He did come back, but what he did, I didn’t know. He held up a small piece of white cloth. He held it so I saw the elegant cursive letter T embroidered on it in silvery-blue. I was smiling when I saw that.
“Okay,” Lukus began patiently. “It’s clear there’s a story here.” He motioned with one hand toward himself, “Let’s hear it.” He grinned.
Seth chuckled and walked up closer to me, “Toby was turning six.” He grinned at me, “According to HIM. You gave things that a person wanted on their birthday or Nativity, not what’s needed.”
“Certainly not clothes,” I nodded as we laughed together again, “Nothing practical.”
“That happened on any…” Seth thought, “let’s say Wednesday!”
“Grace would often repair Toby’s and Dennis’ clothing,” I shrugged. “She prepared six of these.”
“They weren’t snot rags, either!” Seth promised, “He still does the pressing on the nose and…” Seth inhaled loudly. He grinned grandly, “I have to tell you,” Seth said to me as I was reaching for the handkerchief, but Seth raised it back and out of my reach, “He’s willing to let you BORROW this.” Seth was having a good time with this! “Say it with me, Bor…” Which I did as requested, “row.” He pulled the ends corners on the handkerchief out. He shrugged, “I thought a little reminder of why you’re doing this was needed. It might fix it in your mind.” He tied it around my wrist. “So, hating someone does nothing?”
Demetrius thought a minute. “No, they are more like the opposite ends of the same emotion. To truly love or hate anyone requires familiarity. You can dislike a great deal. You, Seth, DIDN’T hate Arthur!”
We almost never spoke of him!
“You did!” He declared as he pointed at me.
“Of course, I did!” I put my hand on Seth’s arm, “That was an evil man!” I moved my arm quickly to the side and jumped when the piece of wood shook and quivered as if a rush of wind blew through. There was no wind. “All of the Thornes were evil to their core!”
Lukus waved at the handkerchief, “Yes, we know. What about the handkerchief?”
“Oh,” I chuckled, “I’ll be honest. By this time we had the Little Warriors!” I shook my head, “He never got so much as the sniffles!”
“We gave him the books he said he wanted to read, that hockey paddle…” Seth listed, “When I saw what she gave him. I thought she had wasted her time!”
“Far from that!” I continued, “To Toby it was his first,” I did the air quotes, “BIG boy present! Ever!”
“His Dad and I carry one,” Seth and I laughed together. “He’s never used them as handkerchiefs, but he carries one everywhere!”
“It’s a habit!”
“You can BORROW this,” Seth smiled again, “But YOU have to give it back. You. Alive and unhurt.” He held it under my nose. “Sniff.”
Don’t get it twisted. We rarely carry them in our back pockets. There were no fart smells or like that. Toby had an odor. Everyone does! I’m not talking about normal body odors people have, but we have a body chemistry unique to us. There were many times we each smelled unpleasant. Combine a woman and a cat to the mix of smells. Ryan and Darren! There was a particular where we all lived. Previous meals or meals soon coming. Cleaners, oils. You are aware immediately, but soon lose it as we stay. It was because Toby always carried it. It carried an odor that said Toby. It wasn’t unpleasant at all!
My smile came as Seth nodded, “Right?” He asked me.
“All of us can’t just know what the other says,” Lukus chuckled. “You finish each other's thoughts. I’m gathering Toby's smell is on that.”
I nodded and moved my arm under my nose, “That would be correct.”
It was clean! It never absorbed any snot, but it had plenty of exposure from Toby.
Demetrius smiled, “Yes, hatred works, but it’s not a pleasant feeling.” Then he looked at me closer, “Was it?”
Demetrius thrust both hands at me, “And there you go.” He smiled, “And there are many facets to love, but they’re pleasant to bring to the surface making you want to.”
“Sure, I know that,” I said. “Eros, which you and I have as passion and desire; Philia, that’s a pleasant friendship people have,” I waved at him and to myself, “We have that, too. Ludus, a playful sort of love; Agape, love of all mankind; Pragma, a long standing love like ours; and Philautia, to love yourself. We’re in almost all of the categories!”
“You don’t love me!?” Seth blurted.
My eyes widened, “Where the Hell…” I stammered and this time I DID punch him in the arm. “What makes you say that!?” I shook my head as I advanced on him. “Do you WANT me to have erection while fighting!? YOU are not stupid, but what you just said was.”
Demetrius was grinning at the both of us, “What are you feeling…” he touched my chest, “right here, right now?”
I did love Seth. What I felt right then was a combination of emotions.
“Verbally,” Demetrius smiled. “Give the wood a command.”
“Stand up,” I said.
The polished stick jumped at that command and froze in place. I reached and took Seth’s hand and was startled when I saw we were in our room! Both of us!
“What did you do?” Seth shouted as he asked looking around.
“I don’t know!” I shouted back. “It’s OUR room.”
“Can you take us back?”
“I don’t know!” I sat on the bed. “I don’t know how we got here...so…”
We heard rapid footfalls and men speaking to one another as they came running. Seth opened the door as Demetrius and Lukus reached the door.
“See!?” Demetrius waved at us to Lukus. He smiled at us. “I knew they’d be here!”
“You HOPED they’d be here,” Lukus said, “They could have been in Tabet!”
“Have either of you been to Tabet?” Demetrius asked.
“No,” I grinned.
“Then it couldn’t have been Tabet!”
“But you said you can’t transport anyone,” Seth pointed out.
Demetrius nodded, “We can’t, but you can!” He bounced, “We can’t cure.” He thrust a hand at me. “He can!”