CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-SIX
Edie wasn’t sure what she’d expected but it was not this. She, Hedone, and Abi had joined ten or twelve Greek Gods in a small, sweltering room with bare wooden walls. There were no seats. Everyone was standing or leaning against the walls. The Gods were so focused on arguing with each other that they barely acknowledged their presence.
“Where are we?” Edie whispered to Hedone.
“Ares’s Meeting room of the court,” Hedone said. “It looks like this because my grandfather, Ares, believes that people talk too long if they are comfortable.”
“What are they arguing about?” Edie asked.
“Your war,” Hedone said with a nod. “Ares has been monitoring the war for a long time.”
Artemis appeared at Edie’s side. The Goddess hugged Edie before saying hello to Hedone and Abi. Just then Athena began arguing with Ares. The two went head to head, point to point in some fast language.
“What are they speaking?” Edie whispered to Hedone.
“It’s a dialect of ancient Greek,” Artemis said with a roll of her eyes. “Spoke in Athens for a period of time. When they want to argue in private, they switch to this language.”
“What are they saying?” Edie whispered.
“Not a thing,” Abi said mildly.
She stepped forward into the room. Much to Edie’s surprise the Greek Gods dropped to one knee at the sight of her. She nodded to them and encouraged them to get up.
“Please,” Abi said. “We have little time before we must appear in court.”
The Greek Gods stood and turned to look at her.
“Princess Edith of Queen Fand’s realm is here to ask for your support,” Abi said.
“What would that look like, Mother?” Athena asked.
“I think that’s a very good question,” Abi said. “Princess Edith is hoping to stem an all out war between the queendoms.”
“We cannot sanction a war,” Ares said. “At this time in the world, a war between the fairies would disrupt everything.”
“And the world,” Abi said. “It’s not so long ago that I remember the fairies destroying nearly every creature on the planet out of their spite.”
“Precisely,” Ares said.
“There have been these attacks,” Hermes said. “My messengers have been pulled into the fray.”
“Queen Áthas’s fairies,” Edie said. “They believe that we had kept them from wealth and happiness.”
“Have you?” Ares asked.
“Not that I know of,” Edie said. “At least not intentionally. My brother …”
“Your brother is not here,” Artemis said softly. “Edie, you can do this.”
Edie’s eyes flicked to Artemis, and the Greek Goddess nodded.
“We would like to support all fairies to live long, happy, healthy lives,” Edie said. “This is why I wish to combine the fairy realms. Make them into equal states.”
“With you as the governor?” Athena said in a tone that seemed to challenge Edie.
“Yes,” Edie said. “I have been trained by Abi and Hedone to be ready to work as a kind of Prime Minister.”
“Working for yourself for the benefit of your fairy realm,” Artemis’s twin, Apollo, stepped out from the wall.
“For all fairies,” Edie said. “In the last few years, Prince Finegal has worked hard to move our fairy realm into the modern world. Our fairies are going to human college and getting jobs in human industry. We have successfully integrated into the Isle of Man government. Humans and fairies work side by side for the benefit of our country. This will be my goal in setting up this kind of governance for the fairies.”
“And if Athas’s fairies become the head of this government?” Hephaestus asked.
Edie grinned at her old friend.
“I have to say that I’m not sure what I will do,” Edie said. “I have worked for a long time to get our fairies ready for the move away from a Monarchy to a more Democratic society. If someone else takes over governance, I would likely work with the other realms to get them ready for a new government.”
“Can any of Áthas’s fairies read?” Athena asked.
“I doubt it,” Hephaestus said with a chuckle.
The Greek Gods laughed.
“I will work to ensure that all fairies can read and learn,” Edie said with a nod. “Our fairy library has already started creating courses for reading and fairies. This program is headed up by the Mother’s daughter, Ne Ne. We are being left behind by the world. We need to learn from humans. They are in control of the planet now. We will outlive them as we’ve outlived the others. This will allow the fairies to teach human wisdom, your wisdom, to whatever comes next.”
Grinning, Athena nodded to Edie.
“Yes, human doom,” Ares said. “It’s something we’ve talked about in these chambers for thousands of years.”
Ares nodded and turned to Hedone.
“Why are you here, granddaughter?” Ares asked.
“I came in support of A … uh, the Mother and Princess Edith,” Hedone said.
“You must have an opinion,” Ares said.
He raised his eyebrows in challenge. He was always pressing Hedone to take her position as a full Goddess.
“I have listened to Princess Edith’s plans,” Hedone said with a smile. “I have watched her realm put into action the initiatives she’s spoken of — education, committees to oversee areas of the queendom, even the fairy police. The only thing that I see missing is that there appears to be no space for the other realms to bring their ideas and suggestions. They are cut out of the process.”
Edie nodded to Hedone to indicate that she had heard Hedone’s suggestions.
“We are also cut out of the process,” Hera said.
The other Greek Gods nodded.
“Now, now, we don’t want to pollute the entire thing with a bunch of nonsense,” Ares said angrily. “Ask a million people for their opinion. That’s a great way to get nothing accomplished.”
The room fell silent. The Greek Gods had been invited there to give their opinion. No one dared speak and incur the wrath of Ares. The temperature of the room seemed to increase.
Hedone weaved through the immobile Gods until she reached her grandfather. She touched his shoulder, and he looked up at her. They shared a long looked before Ares nodded. He turned to the group.
“I won’t risk war,” Ares said. “Period.”
He pointed at Edie.
“If war begins, I will inform the Titans of the location of each of your realms,” Ares said. “It may surprise you but there are more of them left in the world than you’d think. They have long memories and know how to hold grudges.”
His voice was hard and to the point. Edie swallowed hard. Ares shook his head.
“No one will miss the fairies,” Ares said.
Edie opened her mouth to speak but Ares shook his head.
“I command you to find or develop representatives of each of the other realms and a representative for Ember,” Ares said. “Ember does not have a realm but deserves to have a voice. You may return with these representatives, and only when you have them.”
Ares waved his hand.
“Be gone,” Ares said.
Princes Edie of Queen Fand’s realm found herself standing on the backyard deck of the Castle. For a moment she was completely alone. Abi appeared a minute later.
“I … How do I …?” Edie shook her head. “These fairies will kill me and everyone I love. Áthas’s representatives have already come for my brothers and sisters. She will stop at nothing to kill me.”
“Don’t worry,” Abi said. “You witnessed a performance. Hedone and her grandfather have already set this up. Representatives from the other realms have been selected, educated, and are waiting for us to call on them.”
“What?” Edie asked.
“Trust,” Abi said. “Everything is in motion.”
Still wearing her court finery, Edie collapsed back onto the picnic table. She felt as if the world was collapsing around her like it did every time her mother had betrayed her. She fell forward and wept into her hands.
She felt a large hand on her back and looked up to see her brother, Fin. Mari was standing just behind him. Keenan sat down on the picnic bench across from her. The teenager reached across the table to hold Edie’s hands. Her sister that is the Blue Fairy stood in tiny form on the table surface.
“Wha … Why?” Edie asked.
“We wanted to support you,” the Blue Fairy said.
“You know what’s going on?” Edie asked.
“Of course we do,” Keenan said.
He’d grown in to a handsome young man. Edie grinned at him. His voice had the lilt of the Isle of Man. He gave her a broad smile which made Edie smile even bigger.
“We are here to tell you that there is no betrayal here,” Fin said. “You couldn’t be involved in selecting other realms representatives.”
“What about Áthas?” Edie asked. “They tried to kill Tanesha.”
“Too bad we don’t know anyone who can walk time,” Fin said evenly.
“Hedone,” Edie whispered.
“Come sister,” Keenan said. “We have to give everything some time for things to unravel. Let’s enjoy the day.”
“What about school?” Edie asked Fin.
“We’re on lunch break,” Fin said. “Tanesha would be here but she wanted to catch up with our friend, Cody.”
“You need to change out of that…” Mari said, with a sneer, “… what are you wearing?”
Edie threw herself at her sister. Mari held Edie tight until Edie’s sobs slowed. When Edie looked up again, Fin was grilling some beast. Keenan and the Blue Fairy were making blue balls that were being thrown at …
“Papa,” Edie said.
Manannán turned around. Edie rushed to her father. He picked her up. Edie and her father had always been close, but in the last thousand years or so Manannán had been lost to the ocean. Then her father was deeply involved in transforming the nation. Edie hadn’t been in his physical presence in a very long time.
“We could not let you do this yourself,” Manannán said.
He kissed Edie’s cheek. Letting her go, he put his arm over her shoulder.
“Doesn’t this put us at great danger?” Edie asked. “We’re all here together and …”
“This is the Castle,” Manannán said with a smile. “No one in the world can see us here, let alone get here.”
“You’re sure?” Edie asked.
“Yes,” Abi said as she came out from the kitchen.
“Good,” Edie said. She looked from face to face. “It’s a great pleasure to see each of you.”
“It’s a gift for us,” Manannán said.
Grinning, Edie went to play games with Keenan and the Blue Fairy. If someone had asked Edie what she needed, she never would have guess hanging out with her siblings and father for an afternoon. As the day began to wind down, Edie knew that she’d been given a gift.
So when Abi came out to say, “Time to go,” Edie was ready for whatever happened next.
Wednesday afternoon — 3:15 p.m.
Blane pulled his SUV into a parking space on the road. He grabbed his backpack and got out. For a moment, he was struck by the sheer beauty of this spot. The river was so close that he could hear the fish rise. The rocky crag protected the cabin from the road and highway on the other side.
“What you want?” Jacob yelled to Blane from the cabin.
Blane laughed. He went to the back of the SUV. He grabbed his fishing gear and a bag of “necessities” from the Castle. He walked to the door of the cabin. Jacob held out his arms and hugged Blane tight.
“Whew,” Blane said, waving his hand in front of his face. “Is the water off?”
Jacob laughed and raised his arm pit while Blane groaned. He stepped back, and Blane came into the cabin. Blane looked around the cabin. There were clear signs of Jacob redoing some part of the cabin.
“Remodeling?” Blane asked.
“I … well …” Jacob looked embarrassed. “Jill and the kids are coming this weekend. The boys need a little space of their own and the cabin is …”
Jacob’s eyes flicked to Blane’s face. Blane laughed.
“Aden bet me that you’d be working,” Blane said.
“I hope you took that bet,” Jacob said.
“How long are you here?” Jacob asked.
“I thought we could fish a bit,” Blane said. “If you need help with this, I’m happy to jump in.”
“Heather’s working so I need to get home at some point tonight,” Blane said. “Honey is taking care of the boys but I should be there in the morning.”
“Dare I ask what’s going on in Olympia?” Jacob asked.
“Fairy war,” Blane said.
Jacob was visibly shocked.
“They’re going through with it?” Jacob asked.
“I misspoke,” Blane said. “It’s more like avoiding the fairy war. It’s a big drama, but it should be worked out tonight.”
“Why would it ever be worked out?” Jacob asked.
“Ares refuses to sanction a war,” Blane said. “He threatened to tell the Titans where the fairy realms are located.”
“So?” Jacob shrugged.
“The fairies threw in with the Greek Gods over the Titans,” Blane said. “The Titans blame them for the death of some of their friends.”
“That’s a question I have,” Jacob said.
“What?” Blane asked.
“Are any Titans actually dead?” Jacob asked.
“It’s a good question,” Blane said. “I don’t think anyone knows.”
“Someone knows,” Jacob said.
Still looking around the cabin, Blane nodded. Jacob was turning an old closet into a small room. Jacob had already built the frame to expand the closet. The beginnings of a bunk bed sat in the middle of the living room.
“I brought lunch,” Blane said turning back to look at Jacob. “You want to eat and then get after this?”
“I’ll finish this,” Jacob said with a shrug.
He turned to look Blane in the face.
“It’s really nice to see you,” Jacob said.
“You didn’t really think that I would leave you up here by yourself,” Blane said, mildly.
“Every Wednesday?” Jacob asked.
“I’ll be here every Wednesday,” Blane said. “Jill on the weekends. Aden’s scheduled next Wednesday to come visit. I think Val and Mike are coming up, too, but I don’t know when. So you’ll be alone, but not lonely.”
“Good,” Jacob said.
“I would have been here earlier but there was some trouble at the Marlowe School,” Blane said.
“What happened?” Jacob asked.
Jacob’s attention sharpened and Blane felt the heat.
“Well, some fairy from Áthas’s realm tried to kill Tanesha and Fin yesterday,” Blane said. “They came for Katy, your boys, Paddie, Jeraine … I’m a little surprised they haven’t been here.”
“What’s that mean?” Blane imitated Jacob’s shrug.
“They came,” Jacob said.
“And?” Blane asked.
“They are trapped in that canning jar,” Jacob said.
Blane followed Jacob’s pointing finger to see two fairies pressed up against the glass of a canning jar.
“I put holes in the top,” Jacob said mildly.
“Like bugs?” Blane grinned at him.
“You said that.” Jacob gestured to himself. “Not me.”
“You don’t want to know about the kids?” Blane asked.
“Jill called,” Jacob said. “Wanted me to be prepared. She said that Katy blasted one and that another tried to touch Paddie’s sword and blew to bits?”
“A girl from Paddie’s class took the brunt of the fairy’s internal organs,” Blane said. “Needless to say, the child is a little hysterical.”
“I bet,” Jacob said with a nod. “Jeraine?”
“Hecate scared her off,” Blane said. “So did your mother-in-law.”
“I bet,” Jacob repeated with a grin. “Fucking fairies are not idiots.”
“Fucking fairies,” Blane said. He gestured to the jar. “Should I take those back with me?”
“Sure,” Jacob said. “Let them out half way.”
“Let’s eat,” Blane said. He dug a to-go bag from his backpack. “I brought pastrami on rye for you, and turkey for me. Then we fish.”
“Then we fish,” Jacob said.
“We’ll fish up a storm!” Blane said with a smile.
“What?” Jacob gave a little shake of his head.
“I can’t wait until Mack and Wyn can join us,” Blane said.
“I was Mack’s age when I first went fishing with Dad,” Jacob said with a nod.
“Would it be okay if I bring him some time?” Blane asked.
“If you can manage to get him away from his friends,” Jacob said.
“There’s the hard part,” Blane said with a smile.
Jacob put his hand on Blane’s shoulder. For a moment, the men shared a fond look. Jacob nodded toward the kitchen, and they went to eat.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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