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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 48: Hastings 59
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Walking through the between was a peculiar process. Once she had entered it, she could envision the front of the inn at Wandborough with her eyes open, and it seemed to form as a foggy image in the mist. With a few steps forward, she placed herself within that image, and then repeated the ritual which had brought her into the mist and stepped out as the mist parted in front of her. The front of the inn was before her. She walked inside. Sir Sagrimore was waiting.
"Did you learn anything?" he asked.
"Well, yes," she said, "but not what I wanted."
"You don't know where Horta and Tubrok are."
"I don't know where they are yet. I contacted one of the," and she checked herself; it would be better not to speak publicly of her allies, "one of the residents of the forest, and she...."
"She?" Sagrimore interrupted.
"Yes. Actually, their women tend to be their leaders. But I'll try to remember to explain that later. She said that she would find out for me, but it would take a couple days for her to get that information and return."
"The trail can grow quite cold in a couple of days; and finding her again in the wood will not be so easy."
"Oh, we've taken care of that. Pardon me, innkeeper? Could I get some mead?" She put a coin on the counter, and the man who ran the inn replaced it with a pottery mug of frothy liquid. "I really don't care for this stuff, but you have to drink something—and nobody has spumante around here, and the water isn't always safe. I think it's the cups–they don't clean them well enough."
"You've arranged to meet?"
"Oh, yes. Well, not exactly." Lauren took a drink of the honey-based beer. "There's a cave in a glen, a very nice homey place sort of like the place Merlin use to have. I'm going to move into it for the week. She knows where it is, and will find me there when she gets back with the information."
"You're going to sleep in a cave in the woods?"
"Indeed I am," Lauren said, with an almost smug sound in her voice. "Care to join me?"
"I will stay in the inn," he replied.
"Well, of course you will. After all, the innkeeper will put you up for free." She drained her mead. "Anyway, I came back for my things, and I'll be back again as soon as I know something, or in seven days in any event. I'm sure you'll be fine meanwhile."
"And if Horta and Tubrok show up while you're gone?"
Lauren hadn't considered this. She had concluded that the vampires weren't coming to Wandborough now, but she couldn't be certain of that. They could be waiting for her to leave, so that they could make their entrance unopposed. Waiting for Garla in the cave left Sagrimore exposed, and she couldn't expect that he would not take action in her absence if the vampires caused trouble here–and they were vampires, so they would be causing trouble somewhere.
"Sagrimore, I'm going to teach you to do some—" She paused, trying to choose the right word. "Well, some magic. I wouldn't call it magic, but I think Merlin would, so I suppose it's just a matter of how you use the word."
"No offense, Lady Laurelyn, but I am a knight. Magic is not appropriate for my station."
"Oh, come on.” Lauren tossed her long dark hair as she turned in exasperation. “It's not like I'm going to teach you to become invisible or fly or throw lightning from your fingers."
"You can do that?"
That wasn't the point; but she figured she should answer. "I can fly. I've never tried those other things. But all I want to teach you is to be able to talk to me when I'm not here."
Sagrimore seemed to be pondering whether it might be dishonorable for a knight to talk to someone who wasn't there.
"What's the big deal?" she asked him. "It's not going to give you an unfair advantage in combat, unless you consider calling your allies an unfair advantage. It's not going to make you more powerful or anything. It's not even going to be something people will know."
"It could be the beginning of a slippery slope into reliance on mystic powers instead of noble combat."
She laid her hand on his arm. "I don't think you should worry about that; I don't see it happening. Besides, Horta and Tubrok will not think any less of you if you use mystic powers against them."
"That's not the point," he said firmly.
She gave him a hard stare. "The point is they aren't going to play by any set of rules, and they will kill you if they have the chance."
He pressed his index finger into the top of the bar as he answered. "The point is that I am better than they are. If I defeat them by cheating, they have won; if I die without violating my honor, they have lost."
For a moment, her mouth hung open, and she had no words for it. Then she turned away and stared into the space behind the bar. "It's good to know you have such a high view of the matter. As far as they're concerned, they keep score by deaths. I'd like to prevent them from including yours, so I want to give you the power to call me when you need me."
Sir Sagrimore shrugged. "Why don't you just give me a charm, like your glass ball?"
That could take some explaining. "I don't have one."
Again Sagrimore was quiet; he gave a convincing impression of someone thinking, Lauren somewhat sarcastically mused.
"Alright," he finally said. "How do I do this?"
Lauren looked at him, and reached out to his mind with her thoughts. You do it like this, she thought to him. It's called telepathy, and you tune your thoughts to match my mind so that I can hear them.
He sat staring back at her. "So, how do I do it?" he repeated.
Exasperated, she turned away. "It's called telepathy," she said.
"I got that part," he answered. "But that doesn't really tell me much."
No, she guessed it wouldn't. But she thought back to Merlin; he had taught her much, but before he taught her anything else he taught her to teach him. Sagrimore was not an apt pupil, especially compared to Merlin, but she should be able to teach him.
"But not here," she said, finishing her thought aloud. "Not in the bar. We'll have to find somewhere a bit more private." She stood and walked out the rear door.
Sagrimore was not an apt pupil, but he had a capable mind, and a very intuitive grasp of how to use it. Inside of an afternoon she taught him not only telepathy but two different types of mind reading, one which read what people were thinking at the moment and another to observe the workings of her brain when she used her psionics. He learned. She also learned. She learned that when you are teaching, it is the student who sets the pace.
She stayed for an early supper, and gathered her things in her cart. Then she again entered the between, and emerged in the forest in the glade by her new cave.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #91: Novel Mysteries. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: