Changeling to Pendragon (The Flux: Episode 1) (Cont.)

When we last saw the Glamour Girls… well, something odd happened. The whole world changed. One moment, they were Changelings living in the Twin Cities area and the next… they were somewhere in the 5th Century bumping shoulders with characters straight from Arthur’s Britain.

They’ve undergone something called “the Flux.” The entire world changed and nobody noticed. Everyone entered the new world with complete lives and memories. Only three of the Girls remembered the past world and retained their memories. Misty did not. As far as she knows, the whole world has always been 5th Century Britain. And the Girls can’t find a way to change that.

Confused? Not as confused as the Girls are.

What’s more, some of the folks they knew back in the Twin Cities have shown up in Britain as well. Changed just slightly—some more than others—but still familiar. Familiar strangers.

Our cast of characters includes:

  •   as Brangaine, a Cornish lady married to a Christian knight having an affair with a Pagan knight;
  •   as Anwyn, an Enchantress of Britain and apprentice under the Great Enchanter, Merlin;
  •   as Terrwyn, the Cambrian lady who disguises herself as a man to participate in tournaments; and
  •   as Ysbail, the Norman lady with merchant contacts in both Britain and the continent.
  • And, tonight, a special guest.   as Sir Gwillym.
* * *

Barnabas begins his joust. Unfortunately, it does not go well. Not only is he thrown from his horse, but he is horribly injured as well. The Ladies rush down to check on him. Brangaine helps her husband back to his feet and moves him back to their pavilion. However, that means she misses her lover, Sebastian, in his joust immediately afterward.

(In Pendragon terms, she had to make a Loyalty/Love check. Awesome.)

Elsewhere, Terrwyn meets up with a strange man in rags and feathers. His robe jingles as he walks, the baubles making him sound like a junk band. He is paper thin and carries a long staff. At the end of the staff is an intricately carved dragon.

"Who is this?" the man asks. He looks over Terrwyn with his crystal blue eye and his blood red eye.

"Merlin?" she asks.

"The very same!" he says, bowing slightly. "And who are you?"

Terrwyn lies. "Terryn," she says.

Merlin smiles. Then, he sees the ring on her finger. "And what is this?"

Terrwyn shakes her head. "I’ve never seen that before. How did that get there?"

Merlin laughs. "Fate," he says. Then, he wanders away. He wanders away into Anwyn.

"I hear you have been looking for me," Merlin tells her.

Anwyn nods. "Yes," she says. She checks for a "Lord Strange" ring on his fingers. He has none. "Damn, it isn’t him," she mutters to herself.

"And exactly who am I not?" Merlin asks.

"Oh, nothing," Anwyn says.

"I need you to do something for me," Merlin tells her. "I need you to go to the Duke of Cornwall’s pavilion and convince him to accept Uther’s invitation to dinner this evening.

"All right," Anwyn says. The hesitation in her voice makes Merlin frown.

"Do whatever you need to do to convince him," Merlin says. Then, he looks at her with his burning red eye. "Anything. You understand?"

She nods. "I understand."

* * *

After Barnabas is put down to rest, after his wounds are healed, Brangaine sneaks off to Sebastian’s tent. He’s there, waiting for her.

"You weren’t at the joust," he says.

"I had to tend to Barnabas," she tells him. "He’s a good man. A good husband."

"You are lucky," Sebastian says, removing his armor. "Many arrangements such as your marriage end sadly."

"He’s a good man," she says again. "He cares for me. But ours was only a political marriage."

"He still does not know you have a lover?" Sebastian asks.

She shakes her head. "No," she says. "It is best that way."

He steps toward her. "I have a present for you." He lifts a veil from a cage. Inside the cage is a white raven. "I trapped it while hunting."

She smiles. "It’s beautiful."

"That is why I got it for you," he says. He touches her face. "You are so beautiful."

He kisses her. And they don’t stop there.

* * *

In Cornwall’s pavilion, Anwyn sees the Duke for the first time. He’s a handsome man. A strong man. He speaks with a voice that makes you want to follow him.

"The invitation did not come from Uther," Cornwall says. 

Anwyn shakes her head. "No. Merlin would like you to attend."

"I am sure he does," Cornwall says. 

Just then, another woman enters the room. All the fires burn brighter. Anwyn looks at her and sees her perfect hair, her perfect eyes, her perfect skin. Deep inside, Lilith thinks, She looks Photoshopped.

"Igraine, my wife," Cornwall says. 

Igraine looks at Anwyn. "Has Merlin sent another of his whores?"

Anwyn stands still, completely shocked.

"My wife," Cornwall begins. She interrupts him.

"Send her away. We want nothing to do with that wizard." Then, she leaves. The room grows a little darker.

Anwyn tries to smile. "Merlin says the meeting is most important. He hopes you will attend."

Cornwall nods. "I will see what I can do."

* * *

Later that night, Cerddwr escorts Terrwyn to Uther’s party. When he sees her, he is startled. "You are more beautiful than your cousin said," he tells her. She doesn’t know what to say to that.

"Have you hear the rumor of ladies dressing up as men to compete in the tournament?" he asks.
She stumbles a step. "I have," she says.

"If a woman were to do such a thing, she must come up with a clever disguise," he tells her. "Most women just tuck their hair up under a cap and wear trousers and call themselves ‘a cousin’ or some other nonsense."

Terrwyn shakes her head. "Shameful," she says.

"If she were caught," he tells her, "it could ruin her reputation."

Terrwyn looks up at Cerddwr. Her eyes narrow.

"Unless she was discovered by a man who was sympathetic to her cause. And could help her better hide her identity next time."

Her eyes lessen their glare. 

"Look," he says. "We are here." And the two of them enter Uther’s pavilion.

* * *

 

All the Ladies are present. Brangaine arrives with her husband. Anwyn arrives with Merlin. Ysbail arrives with Sir Gwillym. And Terrwyn arrives with Sir Cerddwr.

At the meal, Uther shows himself for the first time. The man is built like a fort. His head is shaved, his beard is short. He wears dull clothes and his eyes are keen. He looks like he was pulled from a forge by a blacksmith.

He sits on one end of the table. Cornwall sits on the other. The Ladies notice that Cornwall has not brought his wife with him.

"I am glad you accepted my invitation, Cornwall," Uther says. He looks at the other guests. "I am glad because I want to offer you a chance at peace."

Cornwall smiles. "For years, you have tried invading my lands, Uther. What makes you think I will trust you this time?"

Uther looks at Merlin. Merlin nods. "I offer you all the lands to the west of the river," he says. "No Logres man will cross that river without your permission."

Cornwall laughs. "And what sacrifice must I make to accept such a peace?"

"Call me King," Uther says. "And we shall have peace."

Cornwall looks across the table at Uther. A long moment of silence between them.

Then, Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall says, "Very well. I accept your peace."

Uther says, "Then say it."

Cornwall nods. "Uther," he says. "The Pendragon."

A tense silence breaks in the room. Everyone realizes they have not been breathing.

And just then, sitting between two powerful men–one on the east side of the river and one on the west side of the river–Terrwyn’s memories rush back into her head. Misty. Bess. Lady Fate. Her mother’s murder. Her abduction in Arcadia. Walker. The coffin. Mister Finger. 

All of it.

She catches her breath. Cerddwr touches her hand with his gloved hand. "Are you ill, my Lady?" he asks.

She shakes her head. A single tear rolls down her cheek. She doesn’t know what to say.

Uther shouts, "Let us feast to peace!"

The other guests shout as well. The men remove their gloves.

Cerddwr takes off his. And Terrwyn sees, on his left hand, the ring of Lord Strange.

 

Changeling to Pendragon (The Flux: Episode 1)

When we last saw the Glamour Girls… well, something odd happened. The whole world changed. One moment, they were Changelings living in the Twin Cities area and the next… they were somewhere in the 5th Century bumping shoulders with characters straight from Arthur’s Britain.

They’ve undergone something called “the Flux.” The entire world changed and nobody noticed. Everyone entered the new world with complete lives and memories. Only three of the Girls remembered the past world and retained their memories. Misty did not. As far as she knows, the whole world has always been 5th Century Britain. And the Girls can’t find a way to change that.

Confused? Not as confused as the Girls are.

What’s more, some of the folks they knew back in the Twin Cities have shown up in Britain as well. Changed just slightly—some more than others—but still familiar. Familiar strangers.

Our cast of characters includes:

  •   as Brangaine, a Cornish lady married to a Christian knight having an affair with a Pagan knight;
  •   as Anwyn, an Enchantress of Britain and apprentice under the Great Enchanter, Merlin;
  •   as Terrwyn, the Cambrian lady who disguises herself as a man to participate in tournaments; and
  •   as Ysbail, the Norman lady with merchant contacts in both Britain and the continent.
  • And, tonight, a special guest.   as Sir Gwillym.
* * *

Still a little shaken from the Flux, Brangaine (Kiera) and Anwyn (Lilith) talk about the changes they’ve seen. Many familiar faces in new roles.

“Have you seen Walker?” Anwyn asks.

Brangaine shakes her head. “I haven’t,” she says. “I don’t even know where he might be.”

Brangaine looks at her husband’s crest on his shield. A tower and boar. Barnabas. In the old world, he was a father figure. Now, in this world, he’s her husband. A kind, gentle man who adores her.

“Barnabas is your husband,” Anwyn says. “Is that weird?”

“It depends on which brain I think with,” Brangaine says.

Anwyn sighs. Then, she asks, “Have you seen Merlin?”

Brangaine thinks about that question. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Merlin.”

“I have,” Anwyn says. “I’m his apprentice.” She frowns. “Part of me is remembering that I’ve never seen Merlin ever do any magic.”

“Isn’t he supposed to be the greatest magician in the world?” Brangaine asks.

Anwyn nods. “But I’ve never seen him do any magic. He always has one of his apprentices do it.”

Just then, Ysbail (Melanie) rushes into the room. “OMG!” she shouts. “Guys, I met Mister Finger!”

The blood rushes from the Ladies’ faces. Anwyn asks, “Where?”

“She’s a lady!” Ysbail says. “I mean, he’s a lady. From France.” Ysbail thinks for a moment. “She was really sweet.”

Anwyn’s eyes almost pop from her head. “No!” she says. “He’s not sweet! He’s a monster! And he wasn’t supposed to Flux into the new world!”

Sir Barnabas of Cornwall enters the tent. He needs to duck when he enters. “Is there a problem, my wife?” he asks. “I heard shouting.”

Brangaine shakes her head. “No, sweetie. Everything is okay.”

Barnabas looks at her, confused. “Oh-kay?”

Anwyn steps up. “Everything is fine. Just fine.” Barnabas nods and leaves the room. Anwyn turns to Brangaine. “We have to stop saying that word,” she says.

* * *

Meanwhile, on the other side of the tournament, Terrwyn is dressed in trousers. She tucks her red hair under a cap, dons clothes too big for her and brings her bow to the archery tournament.

Of course, she wins. The crowd cheers. The other men—“other men”—scowl. The champion from last year’s tournament gives her the prize: a white bow carved from the wood of a sacred tree.

Terrwyn bows as she takes the prize. The man holds on to the bow for an extra moment, looking at her with piercing eyes.

“Your name, sir?” he asks.

Terrwyn says, “Terryn.”

He nods, still holding on to the bow. “Who is your liege?” he asks.

Terrwyn says, “The Lady Terrwyn. From the Cambrian Isles.”

The man nods again. He smiles. “Tell your Lady I would like to have dinner with her tonight.”

Terrwyn frowns at him. “Your name?” she asks.

“Cerddwr,” he says. “Of London.”

He releases the bow. She steps back. “I will let her know,” he says. “But she is very busy.”

“I want to tell her a secret,” he says. Smiling.

Terrwyn backs away, her prize in her hands.

* * *

The other Ladies go to watch the jousts. Brangaine wants to watch two knights in particular: her husband Barnabas and her secret lover, Sir Sebastian.

But before either of them joust, a young knight named Gwillym sits on a horse, waiting for his opponent to be ready.

Gwillym looks around him. Just a moment ago, his name was Will. He was sitting in a bar, talking to a bartender. Detective Walker told him to wait there. And now, just as Walker leaves the bar, Gwillym is here, on a horse, with a lance in his hand.

All the memories of his new life spill into his brain. Ahead of him, his opponent signals he is ready. Behind him, his squire slaps the horse’s behind. Gwillym’s horse rushes forward. And Gwillym does all he can to hold on.

The lances crash. Gwillym’s lance strikes the other knight solid, nearly knocking him from his horse. His opponent’s lance strikes Gwillym hard. He falls, but catches himself at the last moment, his foot caught in the stirrup. Then, as the horse continues his ride, Gwillym falls to the ground.

Dazed, he looks up at the sun. His opponent rides to him.

“Sir knight,” his opponent says. “You joust very well. I cannot accept this as a clean victory. I insist we make another pass.”

Gwillym’s head is in a fog. “Another pass? Yes. Of course,” he says.

“I must know your name,” his opponent says. Gwillym tells him. He asks the same in return.

“Uriens,” the knight says. He drops his lance down, offering it to the fallen knight. Gwillym takes the lance and lifts himself up.

The knights have another pass.

This time, Gwillym’s lance shatters and slams a large piece of wood in his shoulder. He falls. His opponent is also knocked from his horse. The two knights lay still for a moment. Then, Uriens pushes himself up and sees to his wounded opponent.

“Sir,” he says. “I do believe another pass would not benefit either of us.”

Gwillym, in pain, nods. “I yield,” he says.

Uriens shakes his head. “We were both unhorsed,” he says. “Come, let me take you to my pavilion so my healers can treat your wound.”

Gwillym nods and accepts his aid. As he does, he looks out to the audience. He sees the Ladies. He sees Anwyn. He sees Brangaine.

And then he sees Ysbail. Will sees Melanie.

Ysbail rushes out to the field. Her friends follow her. She looks to Anwyn. “Can you cure his wound?” Anwyn says that she can. Ysbail holds his hand. And then, his helmet comes off.

A deep, ugly scar cuts across his face from the back of his scalp. One eye is milk white. His mouth is curled into a scowl. Ysbail’s eyes flutter with surprise.

“Come,” Uriens says. “I will have your wounds cured.”

Gwillym goes with Uriens. The Ladies stay to watch Barnabas joust.

END OF PART 1

Changeling, Episode 20

As the Prince drives away, the Girls start discussing what to do. They have a contract with the Prince of Minneapolis and now they’re starting to think about having a contract with the Prince of St. Paul.

“He’s always been fair with us,” Lilith says.

“But a contract binds all vampires,” Misty says.

The Girls think about that for a while. But, it’s late. Time for bed.

Misty turns to Lilith. “Do you want to look at the mansion?”

Melanie asks, “The crime scene mansion?”

“I think the lady who owned it was my mom,” Misty says.

“Then I’m going with you,” Lilith says. Melanie agrees.

Kiera tells the others she’s going to sleep. After they leave, she asks a few birds where the limousine went. “To the scary building,” they tell her. So, she heads off to the Cathedral.

She climbs up to one of the higher windows and picks the lock. When she enters, she feels an overwhelming sense of dread. Like a cat pounced on her.

She looks around the upper rooms. She pockets a few items. Then, when she comes out to the corridor, Jacob Collins is there. Waiting for her.

* * *

Meanwhile, across town, the other Girls drive up to Elaine Tennyson’s home. There’s a gate and a long driveway that leads up to the house. The Girls break the lock on the gate and drive up to the house.

“There’s a garage,” Melanie says. “If your mom had a big house, maybe she has a bunch of cool cars, too.”

The Girls break into the garage. Inside, they find eight cars and a motorcycle. A Jaguar. A Mercedes. A…

“Hold it right there!”

They all turn and see a tall man with an M16 machine gun. They raise their hands. The man recognizes Misty. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I didn’t recognize you.”

Misty smiles. “It’s okay.”

“Did you forget your code again?” he asks.

She nods. “Yeah. Sorry.”

He asks for a new code and reprograms the security system. “There you go,” he says. “Don’t forget it this time, okay?”

“Okay.”

The Girls head up to the house. They use the new code to get into the door. Misty checks out the library.

* * *

Kiera looks at the Prince. “I was checking out your church,” she says.

“I just signed a contract with you,” he says. “And you break into my home and steal my possessions.”

Kiera shrugs. “The contract doesn’t say anything about stealing.”

The Prince… smiles. “Yes. I suppose you’re right.” Then he asks, “Would you like to come downstairs into the Cathedral proper?”

Kiera tilts her head. “Sure,” she says.

They walk downstairs. In the Cathedral, she says many figures in red robes. “I’m afraid you disrupted a ritual,” the Prince tells her.

“Can I watch?” she asks.

“I’m afraid it is rather a private ritual.”

“Oh,” Kiera says. “One of those.”

“We could make you a part of it,” he says.

She shakes her head. “No,” she tells him. “I’d better go.”

“Very well,” he says. “Come back any time.” He pauses. “Oh, and please leave the things you stole.”

Kiera empties her pockets, smiles and leaves the front door.

* * *

Misty is looking for anything that will trigger a memory. She walks into the woman’s bedroom and smells perfume. Nothing. She looks at pictures and dresses in the closet. Nothing.

Lilith is in the library. She looks at this book and that. Then, she sees a woman opening a secret panel. The woman disappears.

“Misty!” Lilith screams.

Misty and Melanie rush downstairs. Lilith points at the secret passage. “Yeah,” Misty says. “I know about that.”

“But a ghost was here,” she says. “She opened the door.”

Misty opens the secret passage. Only Lilith sees the woman standing at the end of the small chamber pointing at the wall. She tells the other Girls. They close the door. A black light turns on, showing them a symbol that Lilith and Misty have seen before.

“The Tree of Life,” Misty says.

“Why would she point that out to us?” Lilith asks. “I don’t understand.”

* * *

Kiera returns to the coffee shop. Jack is there drinking coffee with someone Kiera has never seen before.

“Hi,” the woman says. “My name is Mathilda.”

Kiera sees Mathilda’s Seeming. “You’re a changeling,” she says.

Mathilda nods. “I’ve been living in St. Paul for ten years. I never knew you were here.” She nods at Jack. “Until I met him.”

“I brought her here,” he says.

Kiera nods. “Good. We need more of us. Too many vampires.” She looks around. “Have you seen Barnabas or Sebastian?” she asks.

Jack nods. “They went out to get a drink.” He smiles. “Male bondin’ or some foolishness like that.” He points at the bar. “They left ya a note.”

Kiera looks at the note. She calls a bird. “Go find Barnabas,” she says. The bird flies away.

* * *

Back at the house, the Girls are looking at the rune on the wall.

Misty says, “I want you guys to bring up Bess. Maybe she remembers some of this.”

The other Girls don’t think that’s a good idea, but Misty insists.

Lilith says, “Rumplestiltskin.”

Misty’s face darkens with confusion. “Where—where am I?”

And that’s when something in Lilith’s pocket clicks… clicks… clicks…

Bells and thunder. A hundred thousand churches and a hundred thousand lightning strikes.

“Oh no,” she says. “Oh no!”

The other Girls look at her. “What?”

“Can’t you hear it?” she asks. She can barely hear her own voice though the clamour.

“Hear what?” Bess asks. “Where am I?”

“Rumplestiltskin,” Lilith says, shouting over the sound in her ears.

“Why are you shouting?” Melanie asks.

Lilith looks at Bess. Nothing’s happened.

“Rumplestiltskin!” she shouts again.

“Why are you saying that?” Bess asks.

Melanie and Lilith look at each other. Lilith grabs Bess. “We have to get out of here.”

Lilith starts dragging Bess out of the house. Melanie runs after them. “Where are we going?” she asks.

“We have to get Kiera,” she says. “And Walker.” She looks at the watch. “And we don’t have any time.”

Her phone buzzes. It’s Walker.

“Where are you?” he asks.

“At the Tennyson house,” she says. “Where are you?”

“Nowhere near there,” he says. “It’s started.”

“I know!” She can’t hear anything anymore. She just shouts through the noise. “Where can we meet?”

She hears “cathedral” on the other end of the line. She shouts into the phone, “We’ll meet you there!”

She hands the phone to Melanie. “Call the coffee shop. Have Kiera bring all the changelings to the cathedral!”

Lilith sees Melanie’s lips ask, “Why?”

Lilith looks at Bess. Her terrified tears roll down her cheeks. She holds on to Bess’s hand and says to Melaine…

“Because the world is about to die.”

* * *

Across town, Kiera’s birds find Sebastian and Barnabas. Kiera steps into the bar. The two men sit in a corner, drinking beers.

“Beer is good,” Sebastian says.

Barnabas laughs. “But not as good as coffee.”

Kiera steps up to the booth. “What are you two doing here?”

“Bonding!” Sebastian says with a smile.

Kiera shrugs. “Both Walker and Lilith called me. They said we have to get to the Cathedral right away.”

Barnabas shakes his head. “Why?”

“I don’t know,” she says. “Something about the end of the world.”

Barnabas and Sebastian laugh. “Sit down,” Sebastian says. “Sit here next to me.”

Kiera does. He puts his arm around her. “Stay a while. You don’t need to go anywhere.”

Kiera feels the Wolf’s arm around her. He’s large and strong and warm. Like a nest. She smiles.

* * *

At the Cathedral, the other Girls begin hearing the sound. Bells and thunder.

“What is that?” Melanie asks.

Lilith doesn’t hear her. She looks around. Where are they?

Another car pulls up. Walker jumps out. “We’ve got seconds left!” he says. He reaches out. “Hold hands!”

Before she takes anybody by the hand, Melanie takes out a pen and starts writing things on her arm.

“What’s that?” Walker asks.

“Phone numbers,” she says. “I don’t want to forget them.”

Walker looks at Misty. “Misty, are you okay?”

“Who is Misty?” Bess asks.

Walker’s eyes fill up with tears and understanding. He reaches out with his hand. Their rings touch.

And at that moment, Bess and Misty see each other. They know each other. They are each other.

The clamor around them thrashes their bodies. It rips at their grip, trying to tear them apart. And just when the sound is too much…

… standing in a tent. The smell of grass and recent rain. There are voices outside.

The Girls look at each other. Lilith, Melanie and Bess/Misty. But they aren’t.

Lilith asks, “Where did Walker go?”

Bess/Misty cocks her head. “Who?”

Lilith looks down at herself. Her body is smaller. She wears a dress made of cotton and wool. Her skin is lighter. Pale. She… she…

“My name is Anwyn,” she says.

“Why am I here?” Bess/Misty asks.

The three Girls are still holding hands. Anwyn/Lilith’s head is full of memories. Memories of learning in the woods. Memories of blessing the water. Memories of…

“I’m blessing you,” Anwyn/Lilith says. “For luck in the joust.”

Bess/Misty nods. She wears black armor. She carries a sword. She wears no heraldry on her armor. That way, the men will not know she’s a woman.

“I’m blessing you,” Anwyn says again. “Lady Terrwyn.”

Lady Terrwyn nods. “Are you finished?” she asks.

“I am,” Anwyn says.

Terrwyn salutes her. “Thank you,” she says. And Anwyn sees that Terrwyn still wears Lady Fate’s ring.

When Terrwyn leaves the tent, Anwyn looks at Melanie. “Melanie?” she asks.

Melanie nods. “What happened?”

Lilith tells her. “The world ended. It became something else.”

Melanie asks, “Who is Ysbail? Why do I know everything about her?”

“You are Ysbail,” Lilith says. “Ysbail of Leon.” She gestures at herself. “And I’m Anwyn.”

Melanie looks at Lilith. “You’re a witch?”

Lilith shakes her head. “No. I’m an Enchantress. I’m a pagan priestess.”

Melanie looks confused. “I’m confused,” she says.

Lilith sits her down. “The world ended,” she says. “And was born again. A new world. And we’re these people in this new world.”

“We have their memories and everything?”

Lilith nods. “Yes. We are them. They’re us.”

“When did this happen?”

“Apparently, it happens all the time.”

Melanie points out the doorway of the tent. “What happened to Misty?”

Lilith shakes her head. “She doesn’t remember the old world. All she remembers is this one.”

“Maybe that’s a good thing,” Melanie says.

Just then, Lilith stands up. “Oh my gosh!” she says. “We forgot all about Kiera!”

* * *

“You don’t look well, my wife,” Barnabas says.

Kiera looks at Barnabas with wide eyes. “Did you say ‘wife?’”

“Was I supposed to say something else?”

In a tent elsewhere, Sir Barnabas and his wife, the Lady Brangaine sit with their lunch.

“Wait a second,” Kiera says. “This is weird.”

“You are not well,” Barnabas says. “Let me fetch an apothecary.”

Kiera shakes her head. “No, no. I’m okay.”

Barnabas looks confused. “Okay, my wife? What manner of foreign tongue is that?”

Kiera’s temper starts to boil. “I’m all right. I’m…” she pauses. “I’m… Lady Bragaine.”

“You aren’t well,” Barnabas says. “I will fetch an apothecary.”

Kiera tries to protest, but he sits her down in the bed and leaves the tent.

A few moments later, he returns. With the Enchantress Anwyn.

“She says she is well, but I think she is ill,” Barnabas tells Anwyn.

Anwyn nods. “Leave me alone with your wife for a moment,” she says. Barnabas nods and leaves.

“What’s going on?” Kiera asks. “What happened?”

Slowly, Anwyn explains the story again.

Kiera/Bragaine nods. “Okay. Then who am I? Kiera or Bragaine?”

Anwyn smiles a shaky smile. “Both,” she says.

“Where’s everyone else?” Bragaine asks.

“Melanie’s with me. Misty doesn’t remember the old world. She only remembers who she is here.”

“Where’s Walker?”

Anwyn shakes her head. “I don’t know.”

* * *

In her black armor, Lady Terrwyn sits upon her horse. Lance in hand, she looks down the field at the knight who faces her.

The herald announces the next joust for today. “Here,” he says, pointing at the knight on the other side, “is a young knight! His first joust! The fair and strong son of Sir Ector. Sir Kay!”

The crowd cheers a little.

The herald points at Lady Terrwyn. “And here stands ready to joust is his opponent! The unknown… black knight!”

The crowd cheers a little.

The two riders salute each other. They kick their horses and rush forward.

When the lances crash, Sir Kay is downed but the black knight remains in the saddle.

“The winner! The unknown… black knight!”

The crowd cheers a little more. Under her helmet, Lady Terrwyn breathes a little easier.

* * *

Ysbail of Leon returns to her tent at the tournament. Her eyes show more than a little confusion.

“Madame,” her servant says. “A Lady here to see you. From France. She says she has business with you.”

Ysbail enters the tent. A slight, slender woman sits. Her face is sharp and beautiful. Her skin is pale and smooth. She stands and courtseys.

“I am sorry,” Ysbail says. “But I do not know you.”

The Lady bows her head. “It is true,” she says. Her accent is thick and difficult to manage.

“I speak French,” Ysbail says.

“Merci,” the Lady says. She continues in her native tongue. “Your family has had dealings with my husband. But, he has been killed and I have taken up the duties of the household.”

“I am sorry to hear it,” Ysbail says. Then, Ysbail remembers that she’s Melanie. A changeling from the Twin Cities. She doesn’t know any French.

“Stay focused,” she says to herself. And Ysbail’s memories converge in her mind, eclipsing Melanie’s. She speaks French again. “What was your husband’s name?”

“Bouyant of Champaigne,” she says.

Ysbail remembers the man. Tall, handsome. Strong. “A shame,” she says. “An honest shame to lose a husband so young.”

The Lady nods. “I hope our families can continue our trade,” she says.

Ysbail smiles. “I’m sure we can.”

The Lady stands. “I must leave,” she says. “I have others to notify of my husband’s passing.”

“What was your name?” Ysbail asks.

The Lady pauses at the door. “Auriculaire,” she says. She blushes. “A nickname my father gave me when I was young. I’m afraid it has remained with me all these years.”

Ysbail smiles and pours herself some wine. It is only after a few moments that the cup slips from her fingers and smashes to the ground.

Auriculaire.

“little finger.”

Blood Boys, Episode 9

(Because Adidas_Fiend was in Aruba this week, he was not present. Thus, there will be no Roman this game.)

In the nightclub, after talking to Mr. Clay about the symbolic importance of the Cathedral, Don turns to Will and says, “Let’s talk about your girlfriend.”

Will shifts in his seat. “I don’t see why we have to,” he says.

Don asks, “How far is this going to go?”

“You mean third base?”

Don sits for a moment in silence. Then, he says, “No. Not third base. You are going to parties. When did you get a personal life?”

“I had a personal life!” Will protests. “I have four characters on WoW at level 60!”

“This is dangerous,” Don tells him. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to insist that you put an end to it.”

Will shakes his head. “Look. It’s not dangerous. It’s just hanging out, you know. I’m not endangering the Masquerade or…”

“WILL!!!” the petite blonde in the tight leather pants shouts, nearly spilling her drink all over her baby tee. She rushes over and hugs him. She looks at the others. “Is this a party? Can I join?”

Before Will or Don or _________________ can say anything, she jumps in Don’s lap. “I’m Daphne!” she says.

“You know her?” Don asks Will. Daphne is already texting Melanie.

HEY GF! I W/UR WEERD BOI!

“Of course he does, silly!” Daphne says. “We hang out all the time.”

Don asks her, “You mean with Melanie? Will’s girlfriend?”

Daphne laughs. “Melanie has a lot of boyfriends,” she says.

Don looks at Will. Will lowers his eyes.

_________________ says to her, “Come here, Daphne.” She obeys. He walks her down to the bathroom. She follows him. When he drinks her blood, she forgets and wanders away. _________________ returns to the others. “We don’t have to worry about her anymore.”

Don’s phone buzzes. It’s Trent. “He shot Laura,” Trent says over the phone.

“What?” Don asks.

“He shot Laura,” he tells him. “But he’s dead now.”

“Who?” Don asks. “Trent. Are you all right? Who’s Laura?”

“He shot her,” Trent says.

“I’m sending someone to get you,” Don says, looking at Will. “You’d better go get him. He sounds like he’s been drugged or something.” Then, he talks to Trent again. “Listen. Meet Will by the West Dinkytown Bridge.”

Will grabs his messenger bag and heads to the stairway leading up to the roof.

* * *

Meanwhile, across town, Trent makes his way to the Bridge. On foot. When he gets within a few blocks, he notices someone is following him. He dodges into a dead-end alleyway. He waits.

A slim figure in a heavy coat steps in front of the alleyway. Trent squints to see who it is. Then, he decides he doesn’t care. He pulls out his gun and fires. A shot at the leg.

The bullet hits its target, makes the sound of metal on metal, ricochets into a wall. With a woman’s voice, he figure at the end of the alleyway says, “Thank you for shooting first. It means I won’t break the contract.”

She drops her overcoat. The armor under it lights up the alleyway with a brilliant blue. She draws a sword two times bigger than she is. She screams a warrior’s cry and rushes into the alleyway.

Trent fires again. Another ricochet. She slices him with the sword making a deep wound that bleeds blue fire. He turns the pistol in his hand and smashes it into her face. The move catches her off guard for a moment and he rips the helmet off with his left hand, thrusting the barrel of the pistol against her naked forehead.

And he stops. The woman’s face is almost identical to the little girl he saw murdered not an hour ago. Same eyes. Same hair. Same…

She slams the sword into his belly. Trent has never felt such pain. He falls to his knees. He looks up at her.

“Laura?” he asks.

She shakes her head. “Laura is my mother’s name.” She twists the sword in his belly and he writhes. “That’s for dirtying my mother’s name with your vampire lips.”

She kicks Trent to the ground. She puts her foot on his chest.

“Laura?” he asks. “He shot you. He killed you.”

“Too bad for you he didn’t,” she says. She raises the sword.

Up above her, Will shouts down, “Mathilda? Is that you?”

The woman in the armor looks up. “Will?” she asks.

“Don’t hurt him!” Will says, jumping down from the rooftop. “Please! Don’t hurt him!”

She looks down at Trent. “He shot at me,” she says. “That gives me the right to defend myself.”

Will reaches the street. “Please don’t hurt him. He’s confused. Can’t you tell?”

She looks down at Trent. He’s saying the same thing over and over again. “He killed you. He killed you. He killed you.”

Mathilda looks at Will. “Get your friend the fuck out of here. And don’t come back.”

Will nods. She leaves, taking up her coat. She puts it back on her shoulders and the armor and sword disappear.

* * *

“What the fuck happened?” Don asks. He’s looking at Trent. The wounds on his chest.

“He got hit by a lightsaber,” Will says.

Don frowns. “Dinkytown girls?” he asks. Will nods. Don shakes his head. “I wish we never drove into that place.”

(Somewhere, Roman is kicking something.)

“She’s dead,” Trent says. “She’s dead. He killed her. She’s dead.”

“What’s he babbling about?” Will asks.

“He went to see his great-great-great-granddaughter,” Will says. Then, he thinks about it. “No. I think it’s just his great-great-granddaughter. And someone shot her. So, he killed her.”

_________________ touches Trent and looks with his Mekhet sight. He sees everything Trent has seen the last few hours. He nods. “That’s right,” he says. “He’s been watching his family. Someone shot the little girl. She turned into sticks and strings.”

“A fetch,” Don says, shaking his head. “His great-whatever-granddaughter is a Changeling.”

_________________ nods. “And he killed the man who did it. Detective Ben Schullson.” He points at Trent’s jacket pocket. “He still has the badge.” Then, he tilts his head. “But Schullson was talking to someone inside the house. Someone Trent couldn’t see. Someone sitting next to him. Invisible.”

Will says, “She said he shot first. So, she didn’t break the contract.”

Don nods. “A good thing we don’t have a contract with Dinkytown…”

The other vampires glare at him.

“… except for that one, of course. Of course that one.”

Will scans Don’s face. _________________ scans his aura. After a moment, they both nod.

“All right,” _________________ says. “We pissed them off again. We don’t want them blowing up the club.”

Will says, “We should meet them. Clear things up. Make sure everything’s cool.”

Don nods. “And after that, nobody goes into Dinkytown. Never again.”

* * *

Will has Mathilda’s phone number. He calls her. Arranges a meeting at the bridge. He promises they will not cross it.

An hour later, the four Boys are standing at the bridge. Waiting.

Mathilda shows up. She’s not alone. She’s got a white-haired man with her. He looks like he’s made of scars.

“Hello, lads,” he says. His eyes and grin are Bedlam.

“We don’t want any trouble,” Don says. “What happened tonight was a misunderstanding. My friend Trent was confused.”

Trent reaches out with his hand. He puts it on her shoulder. He says something the Boys have never heard him say before. His voice is like a china cup.

“Are you okay?”

Mathilda looks at his hand. She slaps it away. She holds up an old photograph. She thrusts it into Trent’s face. “Is this you?” she asks.

He looks at it. Years of memories flush up into his heart. Memories of breath. Memories of laughter. Memories of tears and joy. Memories of the simple pleasure of laying down after a hard day’s work. It’s almost too much for him. A crimson haze passes over his eyes. But he sinks it. Ties it to an anchor and sinks it down into his belly.

“Yes,” he says.

Her eyes are like the blue fire of her sword. “You think just because you’re in a picture you mean something to me?” she asks. She throws the photo down at his feet. He watches it tumble through the air.

Then, she takes out another one. She doesn’t show it to him. “You want to see a picture of her?”

That red mist rolls over his sight again. He fells the other Boys’ hands on his shoulder. He swallows it down again.

“You mean nothing to me,” she spits at him. Then, she throws the other photo to the ground. She turns and walks away.

The white-haired man grins. “Good night, lads,” he says. “Don’t come back.”

* * *

Dawn. Sleep. Darkness.

In the middle of that darkness, Trent awakens. The white-haired man is there. Trent reaches for his gun, but it isn’t there.

“Shh,” the white-haired man says. Then, he takes something out of his pocket. It’s a photograph. Her photograph.

“Listen, lad,” he says. He takes a flask from his pocket. “Where I come from, if a family don’t have problems, it ain’t a family.” He drinks from the flask. He looks at Trent. “You know what I’m sayin’?”

Trent nods. The man offers him the flask. Trent drinks from it.

And he tastes it.

Then, a swirl of darkness. Sleep. Darkness.

* * *

Come darkness, Anton Fix is the first to call.

“Have you seen the Sheriff?” he asks.

Don is grateful the Mekhet cannot see him on the other end of the phone. He tells Fix, “No.”

“He’s gone missing,” Fix says. “We’d like him located.”

Don says, “If we see him, we’ll do something about it.”

Fix thanks him and hangs up the phone.

Lethe arrives shortly thereafter. “I was on my way somewhere else,” she says, “and thought I’d drop in and say ‘hello.’”

Don shows her the picture from Will’s phone. The picture of her putting the St. Paul Sheriff’s body in the Prince’s trunk.

“Anton Fix called,” he tells her. “The Seneschal of St. Paul would like to know what happened to his Sheriff.”

She shakes her head. “I have no idea,” she says. “And, if a recognized vampire of St. Paul was attacked and dispatched, I’m sure the Prince of St. Paul would have a legitimate complaint against the regency of Minneapolis.”

Don nods. “Understood.”

Lethe says goodbye. Don turns to say something to Will… but Will is gone.

* * *

Tex-Mex Burgers with Cajun Mayo! (from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 1/3 pounds ground beef sirloin
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 slices pepperjack cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns, split
  • 4 leaves lettuce
  • 4 slices tomato

Directions

  1. Preheat grill for medium-high heat. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the ground sirloin, jalapeno pepper, onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce using your hands. Divide into 4 balls, and flatten into patties.
  3. Lightly oil the grilling surface, and place the patties on the grill. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until well done. During the last 2 minutes, lay a slice of cheese on top of each patty. Spread the seasoned mayonnaise onto the insides of the buns. Put burgers in the buns, and top with lettuce and tomato to serve.

Blood Boys, Episode 8

When last we left the Blood Boys, the new Prince, Jacob Collins, stepped into his limousine. His assistant, Ms Lethe, mouthed a single word to the Boys. “Help.”

As the limousine pulls away, Roman asks, “Why help her?” He looks at Don. “I mean, other than the fact that you two are…”

“I’ll tell you why,” Don interrupts. “Because Jacob Collins is ambitious and dangerous. And he will make our jobs as messengers irrelevant.” He pauses. “He wants to be Prince of both cities. If he does that, we lose any status we have.” Then, Don looks at Will. “Follow the Prince. Tell us where he goes.”

Will leaps into action, springing up to the rooftops, jumping across buildings, following the limousine. It first stops at an expensive apartment building that Will recognizes. This is where they found Detective Walker with that Theda Bara lady. Will watches the new Prince enter her building. She’s panicked. Terrified. He talks to her and soothes her fears. She finally smiles and he kisses her gently on the lips. Then, he leaves. The limousine pulls away toward Dinkytown.

Will leaps across a building just looking down on the Tapped Grounds coffee shop. He watches the Prince enter the building. He talks with the girls for a long time. Will texts the other Boys to tell them where the Prince is. They drive up to Dinkytown’s west bridge but do not enter. They wait to see what happens.

From the east bridge, a large blue pick up truck (with a Texas flag bumper sticker) pulls up to the coffee shop. A man Will recognizes gets out of the truck. He walks into the coffee shop. There’s a flash of red light, then nothing. Ms Lethe appears carrying the man from the blue truck. She tosses him into the trunk of the limousine. The Prince gets into the back seat and the limo drives away.

Will tells the other Boys what he saw. Roman asks, “Why are we here? The new Prince isn’t a problem. Lightning Boy is the problem. We have to take care of him before anything else.”

“The new Prince is the priority,” Will says. “But I thought Alice diablerized him.”

__________________ shakes his head. “No,” he says. He tells them of the vision he received while using his Mekhet sight. He saw Alice pull a stake from the Prince’s chest. He also saw Alice tied up and gagged. Don wonders about that.

Roman says, “It doesn’t matter. We still have to deal with the guy who tried to kill Trent.”

But Don is unconvinced. “We have to know more about the new Prince,” he says. He divides the Boys up. Will and __________________ follow the limousine to the Cathedral. Don, Roman and Trent head off to visit Theda to see what she knows and what the Prince told her.

* * *

Theda is happy about the new Prince. But when Don asks her about their conversation, she shuts up. “You want me to gossip about Jacob?” she asks. “No.”

Don pushes her with his Daeva charm. “You owe us,” Don tells her. “Remember your mistake and how we covered up for you?”

She shakes her head. “No. There’s a new regime and Jacob forgave me for that crime.”

“What else did he tell you?”

She smiles and almost blushes. “He said everything is going to be all right now that Alice is gone. And I believe what Jacob tells me.”

Just then, the Boys feel something drop in their stomachs. Like falling off the top of a roller coaster. A rush of energy. A rush of power.

Theda feels nothing.

* * *

At the Cathedral, __________________ and Will watch Collins exit the limousine. Lethe does not. The trunk pops and Collins waits a moment, then opens it. There is no body in the trunk. He walks to the back door of the Cathedral and opens it. He waits for a moment. Then, he closes the door behind him.

For a long time, __________________ and Will watch the Cathedral. Nothing. Will plays with his phone.

Then, a pulse. __________________ and Will see it differently. Will sees it as streams of energy rushing down the streets away from the Cathdral. __________________ sees it as stretches of energy. And they feel powerful. They feel the blood in their bodies rush through their veins. And their blood is powerful.

Potent.

Will’s phone rings. It’s Jonas Clay. “Did you feel that?” he asks. Will says he did. “Meet me and the other brothers at the Lodge just north of the Cathedral.” Will agrees. He and __________________ head off in that direction.

* * *

Roman, Don and Trent go off to see Freddy. Kneecap Freddy. Trent’s other Deava contact. When they arrive, a naked woman opens the door. Music pounds through the walls and windows. She has bite marks up and down the inside of her arms.

“Are you friends of Freddy?” she asks, a little dazed.

“Yes,” Don says. “The closest of friends.”

She invites them in.

All through the house is decadence. Masses of naked, writhing bodies and blood. They find Freddy sitting on a throne, surrounded by naked women. One of them kneels in front of him, her head bobbing up and down.

“The bitch is dead!” Freddy exclaims. “Long live the king!”

Don starts getting undressed. Roman heads down to the basement. Trent finds someone who looks like he doesn’t belong. All of them drink.

* * *

At the Lodge, __________________ and Will try to enter through the back door. But a Ventrue stops them. Francesco Sabatelli. “Franky the Stick.” So named because of the sharpened pool cue he carries in his jacket.

“Nope,” Franky says to Will, pointing at __________________. “He ain’t square.”

__________________ says he’ll wait outside. Will goes inside.

The other brothers sit with Will and talk. They talk about what just happened. Franky the Stick says, “That fucker Collins is up to his old tricks again. Fuckin’ with the city’s geography.” The other brothers concur. Something must be done. That’s when Will gets a text from __________________.

The Prince just pulled up outside.

* * *

Back in Freddy’s Bordello of Blood, Trent leads his prey down to the basement: an average looking guy who brought his good looking girlfriend to a party and has since lost her. He looks down and finds Roman carefully removing a woman’s fingers from her left hand.

“What are you doing?” Trent asks.

“Feeding,” Roman says. He points at the lonely looking man. “Same as you.”

“This isn’t right,” Trent says.

“You feed your way and I’ll feed mine.”

Trent takes the woman away from Roman. He uses his blood to heal her wounds. Then, he uses the car to drop her off at her home. He drives back to the party…

… where Don’s phone rings. Lethe’s ring. It’s a few feet from where he is now, so he disengages from his current activity and carries the phone to the bathroom. “Hello?” he asks.

“Don. Thank the Goddess. I have only a second to talk.”

“What’s wrong?” Don asks.

“Collins. He’s inside the Masonic Lodge now. He’s dangerous, Don. He knows how to make the Cathedral work. He built it. He knows how to do what it’s designed to do.”

“What is that?” Don asks.

“I can’t tell you. Blood oaths, curses. It would take me centuries to recover. But I’ve stood inside it. It’s… oh, fuck, how do I say this without… it’s not what it looks like, Don. It’s the exact opposite of what it seems to be.”

“What does that mean?”

click

Don looks at the phone. Then, he hears, “Stop squirming.” The voice comes from the bathtub. It sounds like Roman. He peeks inside.

Blood.

Don turns away quickly. He sees himself in the bathroom mirror. He also sees the slender, angular face of Mister Finger, grinning back at him from the bathtub. Don spins around but only sees Roman. His face is covered with blood.

“What?” Roman asks.

After a moment, Trent says, “We have to leave.”

“I’m done,” Roman says. He steps out of the bathtub, leaving the bleeding mass of twisted flesh and pain behind him.

* * *

Outside of Freddy’s, Trent and Don have a talk about Roman.

“Something is happening to him,” Don says.

Trent nods. “Yeah. I saw something scary.”

“I saw something scarier,” Don says. They share stories. Don tells him, “We may have to kill him.”

Trent says, “Just tell me when.”

“I don’t know,” Don says. “There may be some way to help him…” his voice trails off with his thoughts.

Trent says, “I have to go do something. I’ll be back later.”

“We’ll be at the nightclub. We’ll see you there.”

* * *

Back at the nightclub, the Boys meet up. Will brings Jonas Clay with him.

“It is the opposite of what it appears to be?” Clay asks. Don nods. Clay thinks about it. “Have you been inside the Cathedral?”

Don says he has.

“It appears to be a… pardon the vulgarity… but a vampire church. The symbols are all the symbols of the Clans and Covenants. But the predominant symbol is the Blood Cult.”

“The Circle of the Crone?” Roman asks.

Clay nods. “Yes. Dark Goddess symbols everywhere. Easy to see them if you know what to look for.” He thinks for a moment. “But if it is the opposite of that… I don’t know what the opposite of that is.”

“Metaphysical misogyny,” Roman says. They all look at him. “If it’s the opposite of Goddess worship.”

“Blood God worship?” Will asks.

“No,” Clay says. “That makes sense. He’s not revering the Goddess. He’s subduing Her.” He looks at the others. “Did you all feel that pulse of energy?” The Boys all nod. “I wonder if any women did…”

“You mean women of any kind or just our kind?” Don asks.

“I don’t know.”

Will texts Melanie to ask her about the Cathedral. He asks her how she felt going into it. She replies:

terrified.

When Clay tells Will to ask her if she felt a supernatural weight put upon her when she walked in, she replies:

yes

“Metaphysical misogyny,” Roman says.

* * *

Elsewhere, Trent sits in front of the suburban house he sat in front of before. A little girl plays in the front room. He watches her through the window.

Then, a plain brown sedan drives up in front of the house. Trent draws his gun. The man who steps out is a man he’s never seen before. He wears a plain suit. He rings the doorbell. He shows something to the woman who answers the door. It looks like a badge. She invites him in.

He sits down with the little girl. He says something to the mother, and the mother leaves the room. The plain man with the badge waits for the mother to leave. Then, he draws a small pistol with a silencer. He shoots the little girl. She falls to the floor.

Then, he stands up and looks down at the floor. Trent cannot see what he’s looking at. The man takes a piece of paper from his jacket and looks at it. Then, he looks over his shoulder and walks to the front door. He leaves. He gets into his car and starts it.

Trent is already in the back seat. He reaches forward and grabs the man’s throat. “Drive,” he says. The man does as he’s told.

“Who are you working for?” Trent asks the man.

“Nobody. I…”

Trent breaks the man’s neck. The car swerves and crashes. Trent searches the man’s body. He takes both the guns. He looks at the man’s ID. It’s a detective’s badge.

Detective Ben Schullson.

He looks at the piece of paper the man had in his jacket. It’s a list of names. Some of the names are crossed off.

Trent leaves the car behind and walks back to the house. He looks in the window of the front room.

On the floor, the little girl’s dress lays on the floor. But there’s no body. Just twigs and string.

* * *

John’s Wicked Chili

This recipe fed six hungry gamers (plus the Wife) with left-overs. Preparation was about twenty minutes. The cost was low because we already had most of the spices in the house. It’s an easy recipe because all you do is brown the meat, then throw everything into a crock pot and let it simmer all day. Cheaper than fast food and damn yummy to boot.

Ingredients

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 (46 fluid ounce) can tomato juice
1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups minced onion
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar or honey (or both!)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup chili powder (yes, I said cup. don’t be a wuss.)

Directions

  1. Place ground beef in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, and crumble.
  2. In a large crock pot, combine rest of the ingredients. Set on low and cook for 8 to 10 hours.