Links part one, two, three, four.
The sun never moved in the sky. Shadows were cast directly down below their objects. It was the oddest sensation like noon at the equator. It gave the day a timeless quality. Scott and Shandra couldn't tell the time however, Malmir and Branwen could. It left them slightly disoriented. All of the people with memories of Earth were acting oddly and it did not go unnoticed by their families.
Denis Silver-Arm strolled around the camp making jokes, telling bits of gossip (mostly scandalously and obviously lies), and helping out with whatever work needed doing at the time. Shandra watched her uncle as he mended a harness here, helped lift a wagon there and fit a wheel while he made his way to her.
“Branwen,” he smiled, he was always smiling, “what's up little girl?” Branwen was tall with broad shoulders but a lithe panther like build. His niece nearly looked him straight in the eyes.
“I haven't been 'little' to anyone but you for a long while now, Uncle,” the corner of her eyes crinkled as she smiled.
“Ah, you will always be little to me even if you grow as tall as a redwood. And your husband, he's not exactly little but he is short although his hands and feet are big enough for a giant,” he laughed.
“He is the strongest man in the camp even if he is the shortest,” Shandra replied proud of her husband.
“Oh, he is that indeed,” Denis replied, “I watched him pick up a horse once on a bet.”
“He's broken the jaws of a dragon with his bare hands,” Shandra added.
“And you sliced off the same creature's wings with that great whacking sword thing you carry there,” Denis paused, “So why are all you Order Knights nervous as a goose with one gosling?”
Shandra kept a politely blank look on her face, “I don't see as we are.”
Her uncle cultivated the image of an intellectual light weight, a devil may care lay about who shirked work whenever he could. A handsome man with shining blond hair and blue eyes whose greatest joy was storytelling, music, and dance. But Shandra remembered her father's brother was literally the smartest man she knew before he suffered a massive stroke. She doubted he was any less intelligent here. Denis had found, no been born into a place and time that appreciated his jokes, tales, music and laughter and that's what he used his intellect and drive for. That didn't mean he had lost his skills of observation and reasoning.
Shandra blew a stray hair out of her face, “What if I told you something remarkable, unbelievable?”
“Fantastic even?” he asked with a grin.
“Fantastic,” the berserker agreed. Shandra carried her great two handed sword in hand it was a gently curving blade nearly four feet long and a handle that was another two feet of dragon skin carefully wrapped with the silken cloth that the Tuathe De produced. She shifted it to her right hand before she continued, “Dad, mom, and the rest of us come from another world. Another universe.”
“Sounds like one of my kind of stories. Like the stories they tell of the Grossdeutschland men when they first came to our land just before I was born,” Denis nodded, “It's a good story but I remember when you were born. I was there with your auntie to sing you your first song. I even sang the first song for your dad once upon a time along with our uncle. So I don't see how you could be from another world.
“Kantrus is certainly from another world the realm of Faery but that's not what you mean,” Denis strummed a note on his silver stringed guitar. The sounding box was of pure moon silver and the instrument was one of a kind. He had made it himself long ago.
“So what do you mean?”
“I mean we, all of us came from the inside out world all of us did but we're the only ones who remember it,” Shandra replied.
“That is a good story. Like the one about the man who wishes he were richer and when he returns home no one remembers him. Not his wife or his children. Although if he had a wife like your aunt Caithair...”
“He would be a lucky man,” Shandra punched her uncle in his shoulder it was like punching a draft horse. Despite his protestations of both indolence and weakness everyone in the tribe knew it was a sham. He made a production of grabbing his arm and wincing.
“Oh, stop it!” Shandra laughed.
“No, I can't,” he ground out each word as if it were his last. “if, if I don't make it tell, tell your aunt that I, I didn't grease the axle hubs. She'll need to do that herself.”
“Can you be serious for a minute!” Shandra scolded him but she was laughing too.
“If you're serious why didn't your mom and dad come tell me this, come tell the whole tribe?”
“What's to tell? Who would believe us?”
“I might. I'm probably the only one who would however your great granddad might too. He's a canny one and no mistake.”
“So you come from this other world, all the Tuathe De come from this other world but only you and your group remember,” Denis shifted his guitar to his back, “We don't remember because of something, something only you Order folk know about or have done,” his voice grew thoughtful and his eyes narrowed.
“Okay, maybe it's better that we don't know what or why you remember the Earth of song and story and we do not. We'll watch uncle's big boy and your other kids and such for you as it's clear you're off again on another mission,” he accepted her strange story without worry. He was a spinner of tales and recognized the truth as well as a tall tale.
“Your father's acting like he always does and your brother has been hugging his kids like he's not going to see them for a while. Your mother, pretty lass that she is, is getting her armor and weapons together. All of you have been checking your gear. That's a dead giveaway you're getting ready to leave. We'll announce tonight you're going to the Chapterhouse. Tell them to send out a new Father, I feel like I am going to be needing to go to confession right and left with all my gossip, sloth, gluttony, and jealousy.”
Shandra punched him again in the shoulder and he managed to spin and fall to the grass as if she had knocked him out.
“Get up you clown,” she laughed, “Go talk to Dad, he'll tell you what's happening better than I can. He's the one who told us about the Nazis.”
“We used to be quite the adventurers ourselves when we were boys, maybe I should go with you?”
“I heard you did most of the work,” Shandra said inquiringly. “Not at all, your dad is too modest. All I did was bore the dragon with my music until your father came and thrust a spear down it's gullet.”
“And dad said that you mesmerized the dragon with your music so that a child could have killed it with a willow switch,” Shandra replied.
“Well it was a small dragon as dragons go, it didn't need much persuasion to keep it in one spot,” Denis replied. “It wasn't much of a deal anyway.”
“Still my uncle,” Shandra replied, “Can't tell the truth if a lie is more interesting or suits your purpose!”
“I never lie!” Denis roared in mock indignation, “I may exaggerate here or there or use a little understatement, just for modesty's sake of course. But you'll never catch me in a lie.”
“I didn't say I could catch you,” Shandra grinned, “Try that with Aunt Caithair.”
Denis appeared thoughtful and they walked together for a moment, “You know that sword you carry?”
Shandra lifted the sword and nodded.
“When we were still in the Greenfields above the style was called, 'Dair Maegair' and it was carried by our greatest warriors. I was the one who convinced your mother and father to train you to use it. It was becoming rare amongst our people and few even knew how to use it or make one properly. Some of the dragon we killed is in the haft of that weapon and your grandfather and I worked on it for weeks.”
“Every day I do useful things and my memory is perfect. I can remember the instructions on making an ancient style of sword after hearing it once. I know the Celestial name of that weapon you bear. I know what I had for supper on Christ's Mass, your father's birthday, when we were both boys of ten and eleven. I remember when I first met your mother and how dumbstruck your father was, but I do not remember some of the events of your lives. Those of you who you say have memories of the other world some of the events blur in my mind. That can't be right.”
“It's okay,” Shandra said seriously, “in some ways this is a better world and you've had fortune smile on you here more than there.”
“Well then I won't worry myself,” Denis declared.
“Now let's go get you and your group ready to fight Hitler's pickled brain and those SS bastards.”
************ ************** ***************
Despite Scott's worries about the telling Shandra's uncle what was happening he had to admit it did speed up the process of getting ready. The tribe's bard held great influence and while the Silver-Arm tribe would have done everything they could to help them prepare it would have taken twice as long. Perhaps it was a legacy of once being subject to the instructions of a god and angelic discipline or perhaps it was who they had been before being selected as angelic beings or perhaps it was simply that the Tuathe De liked to discuss everything from every side before deciding on a course of action. Whatever the reason Tuathe De all five tribes enjoyed arguing as much as they did listening to stories and music, riding a fine horse (or stealing one), or fighting the enemies of the good folk.
The tribal bard cut through the argument and was one of the few men who could do that. The other being the tribe's priest. Brother Imhotep usually served in that position and another Father would be sent from the Order or perhaps a wandering monk, or an agreeable hermit, would take his place.
Now between the two, Scott and his group were ready to go quickly. Andy and Justin were going to stay with the tribe and would live with Denis and his family while they helped take care of the horses, wagons and such and protected the younger children. Denis was most fascinated by Kantrus and was constantly asking him questions about Faery and the translation process until Justin finally had enough.
“Did you feel anything strange crossing to this world?' 'Did you notice anything different about your own memories?' 'Did you feel hot or cold when you first woke up?'” Justin looked down at his uncle, “What does it matter if Andy burped when he woke up?”
“I don't know,” Denis replied, “Did he?” At that everyone laughed.
“Okay, I'll leave you alone for now,” Denis laughed with the rest. “But don't think I've forgotten.”
“Oh, that was my greatest worry,” Don replied sarcastically.
If you enjoyed the story let me know.
If you enjoyed the story let me know.