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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 54: Hastings 61
Table of Contents
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Over the coming months, Lauren spent much of her time tending needs in and around Wandborough. She prayed for the sick, often with miraculous results, and preached the gospel, which was by now established on English shores as the long fingers of Rome stretched across the channel. In the matter of spiritual warfare, she was very practical: there were indeed demons who walked abroad, some in physical form such as vampires, but faith and the Word of God could be used to stand against these creatures of evil.
On the matter of her powers, she was more reserved. God had given her certain abilities to use for His glory and His work, and she made the best she could of what she had. If some of what she did seemed magical, it was because she was called to face greater enemies and greater battles, and so given greater weapons. From him, or her, to whom much is given much will be required. At times she would tell some who had caught her doing particularly unusual things, such as levitating small objects to herself instead of going over to get them, that they should be thankful God had not equipped them for the battles for which He had equipped her, as it was an almost certain sign that their battles would not be as difficult.
What was months became years. Her contact with Sir Sagrimore became less frequent. The knight pursued and destroyed more ghouls and even a few vampires, but always regretted not having caught Horta. One day, she assured him, she would destroy that one; she knew it with certainty, as if it had already been done (and indeed it had, in her history, although that time had not yet come to the world). She was more concerned about Tubrok, the one who had worried Merlin; there had been no sign of him for too long, long enough that Lauren began to believe he had decided to withdraw from the world until the passing of that brief shining moment, and to return when darkness again descended across the land.
She intended to leave the light burning in Wandborough.
When Camelot fell, Sagrimore called her for aid. At first she was not going to go, as she thought the downfall inevitable and her own involvement would be either futile or disruptive. On reflection she decided that she could be of aid, and even if the Round Table vanished forever she might save the lives of a few of its best to continue the fight for justice in England. She didn't want to appear in the city; Mordred would be in control within the walls before she could get there, and would not welcome students of Merlin with open arms. Instead she needed someplace within a long walk but secluded. She thought of Merlin's grove, and tried to visualize it. Opening the door to the between, she stepped in, moved the image from her mind to the mists, walked forward and back out into the scene she had created. Seeing the glade around her, she turned in the direction she knew to be Camelot, walked into the trees, and stopped.
She had no idea where she was.
Retracing her few steps, she returned to the glade and looked at it more carefully. This was not the place she knew. It was similar; it had those same trees in about the same positions. Even though it had been–how many years had it been? Lauren realized that she had lost count. In her time here a king had died and his infant son grown up, a mythic kingdom had risen and was now falling, history had been made around her; yet she was still a thirty-five year old mother of three living in a cave in the woods. Merlin's glade was probably overgrown by now, long gone from existence and even from memory. Whatever image she had of it would not take her there. It didn't match.
Of course she could be anywhere now. As far as she knew, she could be on another planet in a distant galaxy which happened to look similar. She understood so little about the between; perhaps she had returned to a parallel earth in another universe. She should get back; there was a war being fought, and she was needed.
She tried to find Camelot with her clairvoyance; she knew where it was, she just didn't know where she was. Soon all she saw was battle. She tried scanning the area, to find a place unscathed, a safe point to target. She could not. She watched helplessly as knights fell.
She was not helpless. Having the image in her mind, she began to pray. She prayed for Sagrimore; she prayed for Arthur. She blessed the efforts of those fighting for the side which she believed would preserve order and oppose evil, and attempted to shield them as much as possible from harm. She couldn't be there in person, but she could be there in spirit, and in spirit she could truly help them.
They weren't going to win this battle; no one was going to win here, she realized, but the vampires. She stayed with it through the day and through the night, until some time the next afternoon she was exhausted from the effort, and slept on the moss of whatever place this was.
When she awoke, she again sought Camelot; it was in ruins, its people scattered. With a sigh, she collected herself, found the image of her cave near Wandborough, and stepped through the between to return home.
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: