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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 102: Hastings 76
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Now that Lauren had in mind what she was going to do, the winter seemed interminably long. She reminded herself that once long ago she endured a winter which was longer and colder and harder–harder if only because she had to do a lot of hunting for rather sparse game. But then the object was to survive the winter; now there was something to do, a goal, once again an objective toward which she could press. The delay served to frustrate her.
At the same time, it was important for her to work with Bethany. There were many skills she could teach the young wizard. Lauren had focused on psionics, the inner powers in Merlin's discussions, early in her learning, and considered that the best path to such useful skills as flying, moving objects, and more. Bethany, however, showed more aptitude toward the outer powers, and tended to flow in spiritual power almost as a fish in water. It was strange adapting her understanding of the best way to do things to match the talents of her pupil. For Lauren, flying was a simple matter of lifting herself off the ground, but this focused knife edge required great mental concentration. Bethany, on the other hand, could by a few words call an invisible blade into existence and use it quite effectively, but she could not fly, even with the use of a stick.
"You will learn," Lauren said. "One day you will be a great flyer; I have seen it."
Lauren also practiced her long disused comfort bubble–the magical shell within which she and Sir Sagrimore often slept during their journey. This would be a good thing to have for the new trip, and she wanted to be sure it was reliable, that is, that she could reliably create it.
As the spring approached, she called for the wolves, and asked to meet with the pack mother. It was arranged, and in two days Ferenna arrived with her entourage.
Bethany sat, wide-eyed in wonder, at the appearance of her mythic forest people. She had always believed, Lauren knew, and yet seeing was somehow entirely different. She turned her attention to her guests.
"Pack mother," she began, then thought better of it. "Ferenna."
"Laurelyn, I have come at your request. What do you need?"
"I only need leave to pass through your territory, with my student. I needed for her to be known to you, in case she is separated from me."
"You know you are free to pass through our lands, but we thank you for the courtesy of asking, and for introducing your student."
"Her name is Bethany. Bethany, this is the Pack Mother, Ferenna."
"Pack mother," Bethany said, rather deferentially.
"I don't know how much of the ancient road is still in place. We wish to return to Camelot, or to the place where it once was, along the road I took hundreds of years ago which brought me here."
"There is nothing left of Camelot; you know that."
"True. But it is not Camelot we seek. Rather, we seek one who was lost there, whom we may be able to deliver from his imprisonment."
"Then the legends are true. Merlin still lives."
"I have every reason to think so. I go to seek him."
"You have our blessing. As to the road you seek, there are places where it is gone completely, but my people will meet you there and lead you through our lands to where the road can be found again.
"Why do you not walk the twilight to reach Camelot?" Ferenna asked.
"I have not been to Camelot in too long. It had already changed much before Garla and I fought to defend Wandborough, and now I could not form an image that was more like it than the undiscovered continent across the sea. Besides, we will need to see the land around us as we approach, if we are to have any hope of knowing where things were so long ago."
"You have our blessing. We will watch for you."
With the most cursory of greetings, Ferenna was gone, along with her people, vanished back into the forest.
"You can close your mouth now, Bethany. They're gone."
"What? Oh, sorry. That really was them, wasn't it?"
"Yes, those were what you call the forest people, the children of Lilith, the werewolves whose ancestors fought with yours against the vampires. It is good to have friends. Remember always that there are good and bad among the humans and the wolves, and you must always be careful to watch for the bad, but you must also embrace and encourage the good."
"So, when do we leave?"
Lauren looked out at the sky.
"Three days, I think. That gives us time to pack and get organized. If there's anyone you want to say goodbye to before we go–" Lauren knew that Bethany was not much more welcome in Wandborough than she. They really could be ready sooner, but it was too much like leaving home to rush it.
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 #116: Character Missions. 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: