CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and ELEVEN
“As for you three …” the child queen said. “This is going to stop. Things are going to be different around here.”
The child fairy queen stepped toward the three fairy queens. With each step, the child aged and grew into a tall thin woman wearing a crisp white linen shirt, fitted jeans, and functional shoes. While her hair grew to her waist, it remained white. Her skin browned to a light caramel and her eyes shifted to a light brown.
“First of all, what the hell is up with your clothing?” the child queen asked. “You look ridiculous — like little treasures to be set upon the shelf. You are fairies, not statues!”
“But …” Queen Fand said, lifting her head.
“Rather than bickering among yourselves and holding petty wars, you could ease the world’s suffering,” the child queen said. “Rather than dressing like little dolls and being waited on hand and foot, you could be out there spreading love and laughter.”
The child queen snorted.
“What do you know of suffering?” Queen Shanti managed to get to her knees. “I have been easing the world’s suffering for millennia while you’ve been hiding from the world in terror.”
Queen Shanti sheered and mock sniveled at the child queen.
“As they worship you!” the child queen said. “Ever think of getting out of your bullshit robes and poofy skirts to get to work to help?”
“People need someone to worship!” Queen Áthas said.
“People need leaders,” the child queen said. She pointed to Queen Áthas. “You used to lead ships of free men and women! Your name was legendary for the war you waged against the East India Trading Company. Imagine if your pirate friends saw you in this get up!”
Having no response, Queen Áthas blinked at the child queen.
“You mock me for hiding in fear,” the child queen said. “What have you been doing?”
The child queen walked toward them.
“Hiding in plain sight,” the child queen said. “We are fairies. We were placed here for a purpose! Not to war with each other. Not to compete with each other. That is not why we are here!”
The child queen looked at her fairy queen sisters. They snuck glances at each other in confusion. It was clear that these fairy queens had no idea what their purpose was.
“You don’t remember our purpose?” the child queen asked.
The child queen looked at Abi.
“How is that possible?” the child queen asked Abi.
“As you say, you’ve each been hiding,” Abi said.
Abi then said a word, clearly the child queen’s name, which sounded like she was clearing her throat. The child queen seemed to take the word as her name.
“You know this insolent child?” Queen Fand asked her voice filled with offense and rage.
“As do you,” Abi said. “You’ve all met before — on this planet and where you came from. You are sisters.”
“But she …she …” Queen Fand started. “Just look at her! I am beautiful and she …”
Abi smiled. The other fairy queens shook their heads.
“They don’t remember,” the child queen said. To Abi, she asked, “How is that possible?”
Shrugging, Abi shook her head.
“Where is …?” The child queen said a name that was unhearable.
“Above and in Olympia,” Abi said. “I am called ‘Abi’ in this time. He goes by ‘Gilfand.’”
“Olympia?” the child queen asked. “What do they want?”
“The fairy world is on the brink of war,” Abi said. “They are deciding whether to sanction the war or block it.”
The child queen gave Abi a long look before turning back to her sisters.
“A war?” The child queen’s voice was filled with indignant anger.
“It would not be the first,” Abi said.
“What have you been doing?” the child queen asked.
“How dare you judge us!” Queen Fand said. “You’ve been hiding out while we …”
“Enough,” the child queen said.
She held her hand out and Queen Fand stopped speaking.
“What would you recommend?” the child queen asked Abi.
“Why are you asking her?” Queen Shanti asked. “You should be asking us.”
The child queen spun in place.
“Until you have something worth saying, do be quiet,” the child queen said.
She took a step forward and then shook her head. With a snap of her fingers, two wooden chairs appeared. She gestured Abi to one. Abi glanced at Sam and Delphie.
“Why don’t you head up?” Abi asked. “There’s nothing you can do here.”
To upset to respond, Sam simply nodded. Abi sent Sam and Delphie to the cemetery above their heads. Abi sat down in the chair.
“Now, we are going to get a few things straight,” the child queen said.
“Who are you?” Queen Fand asked.
The child queen groaned.
“She really doesn’t know,” Abi said.
The child queen sighed. She looked at the three prostrate fairy queens before nodding.
“My name is …” the child queen said a word in ancient fairy.
The fairy queens blinked at the child queen for a moment. The child queen said their name in ancient fairy and pointed to the fairy queens in order. Shocked at the sound of their own names, the fairy queens fell still.
“What is my name in this time?” the child queen asked.
“Ember,” Abi said.
“I will call you by your modern names and you may call me ‘Ember,’” the child queen said. “But our real names stand. That is who and what we are.”
Ember looked at Abi.
“How did this happen?” Ember asked.
“Well …” Abi shook her head. She snapped her fingers and the fairy queens were sitting comfortably on the couch. The cat, Cleo, sauntered over to say hello to Ember. The child queen picked up the cat and put the cat on her lap. “It started after the last war …”
Wednesday early morning — 2:11 a.m.
Katy woke with a start. Something was happening to her Daddy.
She sat up in bed. Now that she was six, the parents had decided that she and Paddie needed to be in separate beds. They’d set two beds into her room at the Castle but Paddie’s room was tucked under an eaves of the big house. Katy’s Daddy had made a trundle bed for Paddie. Paddie was sleeping on the top of the bed, and Katy had been sleeping on the bed pulled out from under Paddie’s bed.
When she sat up, Paddie awoke.
“What is it?” Paddie asked.
“I don’t know,” Katy said.
Paddie rolled on this side so that his arm hung over the side of the bed. His hand opened and closed until Katy held it.
“I just had this feeling that …” Katy said.
“What is it?” Katy said.
A small girl, she had to get on her knees to look over Paddie’s bed. Paddie’s big blue eyes were wide open. His eyes were flicking from place to place in the room. His mouth was slack as if he was surprised or scare.
“What’s happened?” Katy whispered.
“Do you see them?” Paddie asked, his voice not louder than a whisper.
“Who?” Katy whispered.
Her head looked around the room. She saw nothing. She opened her “third eye” as Delphie had instructed. Nothing. She looked at Paddie and he was pointing to something near the corner of the room.
“They’re everywhere,” Paddie whispered.
Katy stood up on her bed. She took a second to “plant her feet” before pointing to the ground.
“Show yourself!” Katy said.
Nothing happened. Paddie’s reached up to the shelf made from the rafter over his bed to take down the Sword of Truth. He pulled it from its scabbard and lay it across his body as Fin had taught him.
“Are they still here?” Katy asked in a quick whisper.
“Show yourself!” Katy demanded.
The room began to spin. It spun so fast that Katy was nearly knocked off her feet.
“Hold on!” Paddie yelled to Katy.
Katy dropped to her knees. The room spun and spun and spun. Katy threw up on her bed. She rumpled the covers so that the throw up wouldn’t go everywhere. Of course, Paddie then threw up. The way he was lying, the throw up went all over the room.
“I’m so sorry,” Paddie said as they were pummeled with his vomit.
Katy giggled. Her giggle caused Paddie to giggle. The room spun, the vomit splatted around the room, and the children giggled.
The spinning stopped just as suddenly as the spinning had started. They heard men talking outside the door.
Paddie jumped from his bed. He helped Katy out of the trundle and together they pushed it inside. The voices got closer to the door. Paddie held the Sword of Truth at his side.
“Stand behind me,” Paddie said.
“No,” Katy said defiantly. She moved to stand next to him. “We are stronger together.”
“But …” Paddie said.
The door opened. Trained in Fin’s “Strike first, ask questions later” technique, Paddie sliced forward with the sword. Katy sent a blast of energy. The man behind the door easily avoided Paddie’s blow, but was struck in the chest by Katy.
He laughed with such glee that his sandy colored curls bounced on his shoulders. Paddie and Katy retreated from him.
“You cannot injure a man with his own sword, little man,” the man said.
Paddie pointed the Sword of Truth at the man.
“What do you want?” Paddie asked.
The boy pointed the sharp end of the sword at the man’s chest. The man reached out and easily grabbed the sword. With a twist, he pulled the sword from Paddie’s hand.
“Hey!” Katy yelled.
Katy blasted the man’s eyes and his genitals. The man looked at Katy as if she were massaging him.
“Don’t wear yourself out,” the man said with a dismissive flip of his hand.
“How did you do that?” Paddie asked.
The man laughed. A big hand appeared on the man’s shoulder. The man flew backward and was soon lying in the hallway under Katy’s grandfather, Perses’s foot. Perses’s eyes went to Paddie and Katy. He scanned them and the room.
“Are you all right?” Perses asked.
“He took my shiny sword!” Paddie complained.
Perses shook his head and looked down at the man, who was now laughing.
“They are as great as you’d said,” the man said, laughing.
“Your host.” Perses pointed to the man. “Ares, the God of War.”
“But my sword!” Paddie said.
“He made it,” Perses said. “He cannot keep it or wield it but he can fondle it for a while.”
Ares laughed as if it were the funniest thing he’d ever heard.
“We didn’t ask to be here,” Paddie said. “Put us back.”
“We needed the sword,” Perses said.
“My mommy will be really sad,” Paddie said.
“My mommy will be mad,” Katy said with a nod. “At you. And she’ll tell Nana, and Nana will kick your ass.”
Katy tipped her head forward and lifted her eyebrows in a “What do you think about that?” look.
“This is true,” Perses said with a sigh.
He kicked the man on the ground.
“Get up,” Perses said. Turning to Paddie and Katy, he said, “I assure you that nothing bad will happen to you while you are here. This creature …” Perses kicked the God of War again, “ …is your mommy’s friend Heather’s grandfather. If you think that your Nana will be angry, you cannot imagine the wrath that Heather can bring about, especially since she’s the only person in his family on speaking terms with him.”
Paddie and Katy looked at the man. Katy went up to him and touched his hair.
“Maybe if you were nicer, your children would be nicer to you,” Katy said.
She touched the space between the God’s eyebrows and said, “And so it is.”
Ares gave Katy a soft smile.
“Now, you reek of vomit,” Perses said. He clapped his hands and two women appeared. “The children need to be cleaned up and new clothing.”
“As you wish,” the women said with a slight bow.
For good measure, Perses wrested the sword from Ares and gave it back to Paddie.
“You have to clean the room or Paddie’s Mommy will have to do it,” Katy said.
“As you wish,” the women said.
“Oh,” Katy looked embarrassed. She pointed to Perses. “I meant him.”
The women laughed as if Katy had made a joke.
“We’ll be in the living room when you are done,” Perses said.
Before Katy could say anything else, the woman shuffled the children into a modern looking bathroom. They were washed, scrubbed, dried, coated in creams, and dressed in light cotton. Katy wore a cotton shift and Paddie wore cotton pants and a top. The Sword of Truth was tucked into a beautiful matching scabbard attached to a leather belt around his waist. Katy’s hair was intricately braided and spiraled onto her head. Paddie’s hair was brushed and brushed and brushed and brushed to try to get it to lie down.
“You won’t get it,” Katy said. “I make it stand up. He likes it that way.”
She pointed her fingers at Paddie’s hair and the hair lay down. The women dropped to their knees in reverence for Katy. Paddie looked at them and rolled his eyes.
“Please do get up,” Katy said. “I’m just a little girl. You could ask my mommy.”
The women grinned at Katy. Each woman took each child by the hand and they walked out into the living room. The man Perses had called “Ares” was standing next to a large fireplace. Perses was standing opposite from him. The twins, Artemis and Apollo, were now sitting together on one couch. Orion sat on the floor so his shoulders were in between them. Because Hedone was with Jill, her grandmother Aphrodite was there in her place.
“Paddie!” Artemis said.
Paddie grabbed onto Katy. The women nudged the children forward with their thighs.
“He doesn’t know us,” Orion said.
“You look my twins,” Paddie said. “Alex and Max.”
Katy nodded. Orion got up from the floor. Artemis and Apollo followed him. Orion dropped to the ground in front of Paddie so that his head was at Paddie’s level.
“I am Orion,” the God said.
“Like the stars?” Paddie asked.
“Like the stars,” Orion said with a smile.
“This is my friend, Katy,” Paddie said.
“Nice to meet you, Katy,” Orion said. “You bear the mark of my friend, Uriel. You must spend time with his granddaughter.”
“I don’t know who that is,” Katy said.
“Yes, I imagine that’s true,” Orion said. “We are everywhere.”
“Like rats,” Apollo said which made them laugh.
“My friend, Apollo,” Orion said. “My love, Artemis.”
“Katy,” she said and stuck her hand out.
Orion solemnly shook her hand. Not one to stand on ceremony, Artemis picked up Katy and carried her to the second couch. She set Katy down and sat next to her.
“I think we are going to be good friends,” Artemis said.
“I hope so,” Katy said.
Katy saw that Aphrodite was looking at her. She smiled at the lady because she thought the lady had been at her Mommy and Daddy’s fancy wedding.
“Paddie?” Orion asked and escorted him to the other couch.
Apollo followed them to the couches. Paddie waved to Aphrodite, and she smiled at the little boy.
“Stick with us, Paddie,” Apollo said under his breath. “We won’t let a thing happen to you.”
“And Katy?” Paddie asked.
“As you wish,” Apollo said in imitation of the servants.
Paddie grinned at him.
“Shall we continue?” Perses asked.
Ares gave Perses an acknowledging nod. Ares held out his hand.
“May I have the sword?” Ares asked.
Paddie pulled the Sword of Truth from its new ornate scabbard. Ares held the sword for a moment. He swung it around and then looked down the blade. He glanced at Paddie.
“Where did you get this?” Ares asked.
“It was given to him by a creature called Maughold,” Perses said.
“He had white eyes,” Paddie said.
“That he did,” Perses said. “He is a fairy child that got lost as a young person. He forgot who he was and what he was. He was tortured by Patrick of Ireland before living for decades in the recesses of a crypt under a church named after him on the Isle of Mann.”
“There were lots of bones,” Katy said.
“Why did Maughold give you this sword?” Ares asked.
Paddie looked at Katy, and she shook her head. Intimidated by the questioning, Paddie shook his head. Katy spoke up.
“We don’t really know,” Katy said. “He was very scary and mean to us. He tried to hurt us a couple of times.”
“Why were you in a crypt on the Isle of Mann?” Ares asked.
“My mommy was having my brothers and she was cursed,” Katy said with a nod.
“Her husband carried a curse,” Perses said. “His line was cursed when Queen Fand’s remains were spread over the Isle of Mann. He was able to put her back together. His daughter was taken as a way of keeping him from finishing his task. Paddie came with Katy. They were whisked away into this crypt with Maughold.”
“I guess what I’m asking is why did Maughold give this child the sword?” Ares said. “He didn’t tell you?”
Katy shook her head. Ares looked at Perses.
“And why did you root the sword to this child?” Ares asked. “He will never be a great warrior.”
“Nor was the man you made the sword for,” Perses said.
Ares jerked back from Perses. He turned to gawk at Paddie. Terrified, Paddie retreated back into the couch. Katy jumped up and broke Ares’s line of sight.
“Leave him alone!” Katy said, angrily. “He had the sword and that’s all there is to it.”
In case Ares reacted badly, Aphrodite quickly got to her feet. But Ares just blinked at Katy before glancing at Perses. The God of War looked down for a moment. When he looked up, there were tears in his eyes. Artemis reached out and pulled Katy back onto the couch.
Waiting for Ares to collect himself, no one said anything for a moment.
“I finally get your point,” Ares said, finally, his eyes flicking to Perses. He took a breath, wiped his face, and looked up. “Let’s get this done so that these children can return to their warm beds.”
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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