A Barbaric Summer of Shenanigans
Brunch was Filly’s favorite meal and the Hotel Standard’s Sunday Brunch did not let her down. She piled a plate full of fruit, sweet sauces, and savory meats.
“Pancakes, waffles, or toast?” asked the serving elf.
Filly smiled in contemplation and replied,
“They all look so good, but I think toast will not fill me so. Then I can eat more.”
The elfine girl nodded in politeness and lifted a slice of toast to her plate.
Filly could tell the girl was of combined heritage. Her human size mixed with elvish features complimented her bronzed figure well.
“Where does your parentage hail? If I may ask?” Filly ventured.
The Elfine smiled and replied in practiced rote,
“My mother is of Under Torres. My father hails from Under Scoshland… but his parents came to there from Under Themes.”
Filly admired the girl’s clear eyes and pointed ears.
“I see much of your Aelfine heritage in you, my dear. Your father must be proud.”
The girl blushed and smiled gratefully.
Filly called her by the name on her badge,
“And tell, me Nearlyn, of what do you think you mother would be proud?”
Nearlyn smiled cheekily and ran her dark-skinned hand over a loaf of fresh bread. The fragrance of warm toast wafted to Filly’s nostrils and she breathed deeply. The girl then lifted her tawny palm up to face the Oracle. It was flickering with tiny flames, licking across her skin, like glitter.
Filly’s heart warmed in her show of power,
“A fire Energist: well-practiced in the art of subtly and so young? Indeed, you mother would be most proud.”
With the hand that held her napkin, Filly then raised her pointer finger under her eye and saluted the girl with a secretive wink. Nearlyn nodded and quietly saluted back. Fondness rose between them in the moment.
Filly moved on with a smile. It was always good to see familiarity when one was far from home. Under Torres was the entry port to the deep continent cities of Atlantis and Lemuria. In fact, Filly’s own heritage was born down from that city. She could count her sketchy ancestry back some fifteen generations.
Her favorite family story was, back in the 1550s. It told of the Trevel merchant sailor and son of the Torres Mayor, who brought in a humble Bacht woman to marry and love deeply. Filly believed the spirit of her great ancestor, Bailey Deluse, still burned bright in her heart.
The Trevel woman was lost in her thoughts as she sat to enjoy her meal. A scarlet Cardinal trilled its morning song in a nearby garden tree. He was joined by a Goldfinch that whistled in reply and Filly was transported to the shared memories of her ancestors. Turbulent seas and terrifying siren song filled her meditations.
Tears seeped out of Filly’s wide open eyes. She began trembling in the heartache and sorrow that suddenly overwhelmed her. She saw a face in the past reach out to scratch her and she screamed in surprised fright.
“Are you ok, ma’am?” A young male inquired through the fog of vision.
Filly slowly came to, blinking and breathing with belabored effort.
She cried out again and moved in the physical world, suddenly upsetting the table at which she sat. Her chair toppled backwards and the table burst forward. The clatter was followed by an even louder silence as everyone in the restaurant looked to her.
Her envisioned fears still trembled her frame as she tried to pick herself up. A gentle, but firm hand lifted her, to carry her out into the fresh garden air. Filly was weakened by the mental and emotional torment of her visions. All she could do was hold on to the solid arms that carried her. They held her hard against his chest as she still shook and trembled. There was peace in his restricting embrace.
Filly heard a laugh from across the far reaches of history and caught another mocking look from those hate-filled siren eyes, but refused to let go. There was something more. She reached out with a spirit of love and pursued the retreating vision.
Mathilde barely noticed this pursuit, wandering as a lost soul. It was a rarity for her, to feel love. But, her cold heart melted a tiny, every so slight, bit more. And she looked again to her vision of this woman in the glaring brightness of the physical realm. The emptiness of ghost eyes met real eyes to received their compassion, and long bitterness turned to sadness. The ghost of one forgotten wandered away unsure of what was happening, or even when.
Filly watched the ghost figure waver through the sunny garden and dissipate off the cliff-top, as if she’d been doing just that for centuries.
“Why do you stay?” Filly asked after her.
A solid voice replied,
“To ensure you are well, my Lady.”
Filly came to her present company more clearly with a deeper breath.
A gallant man knelt before her as a teen stood behind him. There was obvious familial likeness between the two, but Filly didn’t like to presume father and son.
“I thank you,” she replied quickly, in practiced politeness.
But then she recognized him and laughed quietly.
The gentleman sat by her, on the accompanying stone bench, and awaited her address. He seemed nervous to be recognized. The boy simply looked confused; old people were so weird.
The Oracle kept reserved her observations and cryptically asked,
“Do either of you see beyond your noses?”
In the Underland culture, this was a clear reference to seeing that which is unseen, for the magical world often wavers in and out of the physical realm.
The young teen suddenly looked bored, so Filly politely turned her attentions to his guardian.
The humble and dashing man smiled, wiping his hands nervously on his seated thighs, and said,
“I am not unaware of what is not.”
A bustling gnome, whose fat legs barely seemed able to keep up with his speed, rushed over and urged the nobleman,
“My Lord, we truly must be on our way.” He impatiently looked as if he might explode in his robust and tiny will.
The Gentleman scolded him with a look of stern kindness and the gnome bowed in a quiet sigh.
“Forgive my friend’s urgency.” The Lord insisted, “I would be sure the Lady is well before we leave.”
The Oracle stood quickly, fully recovered, and addressed both Trevel and gnome,
“Forgive me, my Lord and sirs. It appears I am ignorant of my rescuers position.”
The gnome jumped up from his bow and proudly puffed out his belly,
“My Lord is the Right Honorable Count Marin Tambeaux of Kentari.” He bowed deeply again, polishing his curly shoes with his wide and fluffy beard.
Filly curtseyed and held out her hand.
As the Count accepted her offering, holding her fingertips, she whispered,
“I thought so.”
The Count bowed a short greeting and whispered back,
“As I know who you are.”
Filly blushed and spoke to the three,
“I am simply, Filly, my Lord. Grateful to be honored by your care.”
The gnome stood and cleared his throat gruffly, as a reminder to the pressing imminence of needed departure.
The Count spoke with authority and a sideways glance at the woman,
“You do not look well enough for my satisfaction, my Lady. You have had a very great fright indeed. I will see that my doctors care for you.”
Then he turned to his aid and ordered,
“Sir Gufston, apply another seat to my personal transport and notify my healer. The lady will be joining us.”
Then he exited with his son, whose young eyes still penetrated Filly’s soul.
Filly glanced around to see if she might catch glimpse of the ghost again, but she was gone, her task completed in connecting the lives of these three. So, Filly bowed quietly, holding all that occurred in the private chambers of her heart. She joined the Count’s caravan, eager to see where this new adventure would lead.
Sir Gufston snuffled his disapproval of sudden changes, but bowed politely and gestured for the lady to follow his lord.
“Where are we headed?” Filly asked.
The gnome replied,
“My Lord holds mobile court over an Artisan caravan each summer season. We travel the realm, bringing entertainment and counsel to all who live out past the city regions. The Artisan Court is wide and varied. Many travel separately, and we cross paths with them. But it all leads up to the great festival of Blyns Crag. It’s a place by the continental shelf cliffs, the Crags in fact. There is much celebration to be had this year as we honor the festival’s founder. He passed into the light since last we reveled.”
The gnome proved to be a chatty source of information. Filly continued listening intently.
Sir Gufston scrutinized her energy source and hinted,
“If you carry your weight in the Court, you may well be invited to join us.”
A couple of Kobold aids were given instruction to close out Filly’s account at the Hotel Standard and fetch all her belongings to the Count’s private carrier. Filly sat quietly in the crowded transport, listening to the bustle and greeting everyone as she was introduced. Her royally appointed healer checked her vital life signs with gentle care.
The Count was surrounded by aids and counsellors, buried in organization. But, he looked across the way to his recruit and smiled a confirmation that she had not been lost to his notice. Filly waited for him to reach out to her. In the meantime, she enjoyed the ride that began with a hooting holler. A large drinking horn was passed around and Filly politely poured out a sip to thank the Powers of Serendipity. And the caravan lifted out of Olland, on its way to the next field of revelry.
Should you care to read more about Bailey and the Forgotten Siren mentioned in this chapter, find The Forgotten Mermaid and discover her mystery.
If you would like to see more of Gregga’s books and other creative projects, check out her website: Gregga J. Johnn and Story-in-the-Wings.