CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SEVEN
Sunday early-morning — 3:10 a.m.
“Tell me again,” Jacob said.
Everyone who lived at the Castle was standing or sitting in the main living area.
“Three souls have been taken,” Sam said.
“The brides,” Aden said.
“Jill, Sandy, and Honey,” Charlie said. His voice held all the darkness and danger of an angry young man.
“You s-s-said something else,” MJ said.
“The Gods of War have awakened,” Sam said. “The Olympians and Titans are arming themselves. Tell the fairies the War has begun.”
“Do we know what any of that means?” Aden asked.
“I don’t,” Sam said.
There was a tap on the side door. Everyone turned to look at the door. Heather came in carrying Wyn. Tanesha and Tink followed her. Jeraine carried a sleeping Jabari. Charlie got up to hug Tink. They clutched each other tight and Charlie led her back to his seat.
“Blane’s parking the car,” Heather said.
“What does it mean, Heather?” Mike asked, his voice laced with worry and anger.
“What does what mean?” Heather asked.
“Delphie said that the Gods of War have awakened,” Jacob said.
“Olympians and Titans are arming for war,” Aden said.
“They took Honey and Sandy and Jill,” MJ said.
“Huh,” Heather said. “And the fairies?”
“Abi and Fin left,” Sam said. “Edie too. The fairy corps came here on their way to The War.”
“Where is Delphie?” Heather asked.
“I am here,” Delphie said as she walked into the room.
Clearly in some kind of trance, her eyes were glazed over and unseeing. She held Jacob’s yellow Labrador, Sarah’s collar to use her as a guide dog. Heather gave Delphie a long look before nodded.
“I see,” Heather said.
“You see what?” Sam asked. “She’s been like this for an hour. I’ve known her my entire life and I’ve never seen her like this. Ever.”
“That’s because she’s acting as a voice for The War,” Heather said. “It’s something her kind has always done.”
“The voice?” Sam asked.
“Kind of like the play by play,” Heather said. “You’d do well to record it so you know what happened. It’s said that Homer recorded an Oracle to learn about the journey of Odysseus.”
“What is The War?” Valerie asked.
“There’s an old story about the final war for earth,” Heather said. “It starts when the God’s of War awaken and ends with the destruction of Olympia, the Titans, and the fairies. There are those who believe the four fairy queens were dropped on to the earth in order to shift the balance in The War. I’ve never seen any evidence of that.”
“What happens when Olympia and the Titans are destroyed?” Aden asked.
“This world ends,” Heather said.
“Why did they take Jill, Honey, and Sandy?” Jacob asked.
“They need three human souls to act as the Gods of War,” Heather said.
“There are three?” Mike asked.
“Why did they pick our girls?” MJ asked.
“I’m afraid that’s my father’s fault,” Heather said.
“But we cleared away all of those spells!” Jacob said. “Tanesha and the fairies worked for hours.”
“You used the Sword of Truth,” Tanesha said.
Heather nodded. Blane came into the house carrying a sleeping Mack in his car set.
“Somehow, the brides were infected,” Heather said. “Plus, taking the child of a Titan is an act of war.”
“Is Katy here?” Heather asked.
“Katy?” Jacob asked. “She stayed at Paddie’s house last night.”
“So did Nash,” Aden said.
“Would you mind calling?” Heather asked.
Jacob nodded and walked out of the room. They waited in tense silence until he returned.
“Katy is with Paddie,” Jacob said. “Nash and Teddy are there too.”
Heather raised her eyebrows and seemed relieved.
“What was that?” Valerie asked.
“What was what?” Heather said.
“You just looked … relieved,” Valerie said.
“Katy is a powerful being of Titan and fairy origin,” Heather said. “She’s had almost a year of grounding practice. Paddie, too. The fact that they don’t have her is a very good thing. She cannot be used as a pawn in their game. Paddie, too.”
“Should I go get her?” Jacob asked.
“No,” Heather said. “Leave her. With any luck, we’ll fix this before she gets involved.”
“What about the fairies?” Jacob asked. “They are ready for war.”
“Given that it’s been only a year since you ended a three thousand year old war,” Heather said. “I think we can safely say that the fairies have a thing for war.”
“What can we do?” Sissy asked. She and Noelle were sitting in a stuffed chair together. “We have to do something!”
“I have to do something. Not you,” Heather grinned. “After all, I have the sacred position as a matron of honor.”
“I am too!” Tanesha said.
“You’re welcome to help,” Heather said. “We have work to do. If we are unsuccessful, we’ll be back.”
“You can manipulate time,” Jeraine said. “How will we know …?”
“You won’t,” Heather said. “With any luck, you’ll only remember this as a dream.”
A woman appeared behind Heather.
“Who are you?” Sam asked.
Heather turned to look. Her face broke into a big smile. The woman hugged.
“This is my friend,” Heather said. “You know her as Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and War.”
Athene gave the crowd a slight bow.
“She will take us where we need to go,” Heather said. “She knows all of the players and where to find them.”
“They cannot hide from me,” Athena said. She looked at Heather, and said, “Before we go, can I see …?”
Heather opened the sling to let Athena see Wyn. She pointed to the car seat where Mack was sleeping. Athena smiled at Heather.
“They are beautiful,” Athena said. “I will give you one minute.
“Thank you,” Heather said. She turned back to the crowd. “I need to leave now. Please, return to your beds. Your beds are enchanted. You are safe there.”
“How did they get H-H-Honey?” MJ asked.
“My guess is that Honey, Sandy, and Jill got up to use the bathroom or visiting their infants,” Heather said.
She raised her eyebrows and Jacob nodded. MJ looked even sadder and Aden looked at the ground. Blane stepped forward and Heather gave Wyn to him. She kissed Wyn and Blane. For a moment, they whispered back and forth. Tanesha and Jeraine spoke in the same soft whisper. After the moment, Heather looked up. Tanesha nodded. They walked toward Athena.
“Didn’t you tell me that one of these humans has the gift of speech?” Athena asked.
Heather turned to look at Valerie.
“No,” Mike said. “She’s pregnant. No.”
“By my life, she will not be injured,” Athena said. “You can imagine her gift would be very helpful.”
“I want to go,” Valerie said. She got up from her seat. “If I can help, I want to.”
Valerie took two steps and they all disappeared. For a moment, everyone stared at the place they had been standing.
“Who’s up for pancakes?” Blane asked in an artificially bright voice.
“I am!” Charlie said. “I’ll make them!”
No one moved for a moment. Jacob took a breath.
“We may as well rest up,” Jacob said. “There’s no way to know what will be needed of us.”
Nodding to each other, the crowd went into the kitchen to prepare breakfast.
One moment, Honey was rolling down the hallway to check on Maggie and the next moment she was sitting on what looked like a sidewalk. She looked around for her wheelchair, but there was nothing around. Ahead, she saw two crumpled bodies. Panic overtook her. Without thinking, she jumped up and ran to the closest body.
“Jill,” Honey said. She shook Jill’s shoulder. “Jill, wake up.”
“Honey?” Jill asked. She shook her head. “I feel funny.”
“We’ve been taken some place,” Honey said. “Are you all right?”
Jill nodded her head.
“Look at you!” Jill said. “You can walk!”
“I know, weird, right?” Honey nodded. “Stay right here.”
She rushed to the other crumpled body.
“Sandy!” Honey said.
As she had with Jill, Honey shook Sandy’s shoulder. Jill appeared on the other side.
“Sandy!” Jill said. “Wake up.”
“Do I have to?” Sandy asked. “Looks like we’re in the middle of some more crazy crap.”
Honey laughed. Sandy sat up.
“Any idea where we are?” Jill asked Honey.
Honey shook her head. They looked at Sandy. She shook her head.
“I’ll tell you what, though,” Honey said. “I bet this has to do with that jackass Eros.”
Jill and Sandy nodded in agreement. Honey scowled.
“I have this feeling that I’ve been here before,” Honey said.
“Really?” Jill asked at the same time Sandy asked, “When?”
“In a book,” Honey said. “This is pretty similar as the planet that Meg goes to in a Wrinkle in Time.”
Jill and Sandy looked around before giving Honey grim nods.
“That can’t be good,” Sandy said.
“No, it can’t be,” Honey said.
“It’s pretty awesome that you can walk, though,” Sandy said.
“Awesome?” Honey asked. “More like weird.”
“I wonder how we get home,” Sandy said.
Honey clicked her heels together.
“There’s no place like home,” Honey said. “There’s no place like home.”
Jill and Sandy joined in. After a few minutes, they laughed.
“Well, that didn’t work,” Sandy said.
“It just goes to show you, you can’t believe everything you see on Facebook,” Honey said.
“What?” Jill asked.
“Oh you know, there are those images that imply that Dorothy should have used her power earlier,” Honey said.
“She has to go through the yellow brick road and everything to transform before she can use her power,” Jill said.
Sandy and Honey looked at Jill.
“Delphie told me,” Jill said with a laugh.
The woman laughed.
“All right, how do we get home?” Sandy asked. “I’m dead serious. I busted my ass to get this wedding together. I’m not going to miss it.”
“Your petty plans in your insignificant life don’t matter anymore,” a high toned male voice said.
They turned to look in the direction of the voice. A thin man was standing in the middle of the street. He wore what loosely could be called a toga with laurel leaves around his head. What he didn’t have in height, he made up in attitude. He sniffed at them as if they were repugnant to him.
“Your lives are about to gain great meaning,” the man said.
“My life has always had meaning,” Honey said. “Who are you?”
“I’m the Page of the Court of War,” the man said. “The Gods await you.”
“Which Gods?” Sandy asked.
“The Gods of War, of course,” the page said.
Jill and Honey looked at each other and then at Sandy. They shrugged.
“Never heard of you,” Honey said.
“How do we get home?” Sandy asked.
“Oh, there is no going home,” the page said. “You are to be vessels for the Gods of War.”
“That sounds like a great honor,” Jill said. “But I think I’d rather go home.”
“Jill’s right,” Sandy said. “That’s simply too big of an honor for little old us. Don’t you think, Honey?”
“Absolutely,” Honey said. “You can send us home now.”
“There’s no going home,” the page said. “Haven’t I already made that clear?”
“You did,” Sandy said.
“We don’t believe you,” Jill said.
“This whole thing seems a little Olympian,” Honey said in a low tone. “Gods of War and the like.”
“Can you call your dad?” Sandy asked in a low tone to Jill.
“Perses! I need you!” Jill said.
“Perses?” The page looked horror struck. “Your father is Perses? Which Perses? The kind Olympian or the crazy-violent Titan?”
Jill nodded to her father, who was standing behind the Page. The page squeaked in horror.
“What is this?” Perses asked.
“Lord Perses, whatever do we owe this visit?” the page asked in a horror struck voice.
“My daughter called me here,” Perses said.
“Your daughter?” the page asked. “Whatever could you mean?”
Perses pointed at Jill. The page squeaked again.
“What are you doing here, Jillian?” Perses asked.
“I don’t know,” Jill said. “We just woke up here.”
Perses looked at Jill, Honey, and Sandy before turning his attention to the page.
“This is the ‘war’ Apollo was talking about?” Perses asked. “The one everyone was getting ready for?”
The page nodded. Perses rolled his eyes.
“Listen,” Perses said. He looked at Jill. “Someone has awoken the Gods of War. They cannot manifest on their own. They need human vessels.”
“How do we put them back to sleep?” Sandy asked.
“You cannot,” Perses said. “They cannot go to war until they’ve taken form. The best we can hope for is to keep you from being taken over.”
“Can’t you send us home?” Jill asked.
“I would if I …” Perses said.
Heather, Tanesha, Valerie, and Athena appeared in the street.
“Only they can help you,” Perses said.
“Why them?” Honey asked. “You’re a Titan.”
“They are Matrons of Honor,” Perses said. “It’s hard to explain, but Matrons of Honor have a power that trumps every other power in the universe. That’s why I insisted you pick well.”
“We did,” Jill said.
Her father nodded. Heather hugged Jill and Sandy while Tanesha hugged Honey. Heather hugged Honey and Tanesha hugged Sandy and Jill.
“This is my friend, Athena,” Heather said. “She’s come to help us.”
Sandy raised a hand in hello to Athena while Honey stepped forward to shake her hand.
“Perses, you are not to be here,” Athena said.
Perses kissed Jill’s cheek and disappeared.
“Come along then,” the little man said as soon as Perses disappeared.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Sandy said.
“I’ll tell you what, why don’t I go in their place?” Heather asked.
“Absolutely not,” Honey said.
Jill and Sandy shook their heads.
“I’ll go, too,” Athena said.
“Count me in,” Tanesha said.
“I’m here just for this purpose,” Valerie said.
“No, no,” the page said. “These vessels were chosen. It can only be them.”
“Says who?” Valerie asked, with a twang of power. “We’re better choices than they are anyway.”
“That maybe but …” the page said.
He stopped talking and tilted his head to the side as if he was listening. Athena touched Heather’s sleeve and nodded.
“Stay here,” Heather said to Jill, Honey, and Sandy.
“Where are you going?” Sandy asked.
“He’s given up their location,” Heather said. She nodded to the page. “Athena knows where the Gods of War are hiding.”
Heather, Tanesha, Athena, and Valerie disappeared. The page looked up and realized they were gone.
“No, no, no, no!” the page said. “This is all wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!”
“How do you know it’s wrong?” Honey asked.
“Maybe you should check,” Jill added.
The page shot her a scathing look.
“Stay here,” the page said and disappeared.
“Now what?” Sandy asked.
“We wait,” Honey said.
Jill yawned, which infected Sandy and Honey. They all yawned.
“I wouldn’t mind a warm bed,” Sandy said.
The women stood on the sidewalk and waited for someone to return.
Sandy turned her head and opened her eyes and saw…
Aden’s head on his pillow.
Shocked, she sat up in bed. She looked at her warm blankets. She pulled at her nightgown. Shaking her head, she got up to use the bathroom. On the way back, she took a peak at Rachel who was sleeping in a crib against the wall.
Somehow or another, Sandy had made it back to the Castle.
What about Jill? Honey?
She pulled on her bathrobe and stuck her feet into slippers. She pushed open the door and was pleasantly surprised that she was in her apartment at the Castle. Not wanting to waste a second, she carefully slipped through her apartment and out into the hallway.
This was definitely the Castle.
She slipped down the stairs to the main Castle living room. Turning the corner, she almost ran over Honey, as Honey flew through the main floor in her house wheelchair.
“Sandy!” Honey whispered. “Oh my God. You’re here.”
“Honey!” Sandy whispered. “Thank God.”
“Jill?” Honey asked.
They both looked up.
“I’ll go,” Sandy said.
With Honey wheeling behind, Sandy jogged through the main Castle living room to the kitchen. She took the stairs two at a time. She’d just reached the loft door when it flew open. Jill was rushing to check on them.
“What happened?” Sandy asked.
“I had the weirdest dream,” Jill said. “I had to come to check to see if you and Honey were okay.”
“That was no dream,” Honey said from the kitchen.
Jill looked around Sandy on the stairwell to see Honey. She nodded to Sandy and they went down the stairs to the kitchen. They went into the main Castle living room. Sandy and Jill sat together on the couch.
“Heather,” Honey said.
“I’ll call,” Jill said.
“Do you have your phone?” Sandy asked.
Jill shook her head. Sandy shook her head as well. Honey held up her cell phone.
“Habit,” Honey said. “Heather’s staying at Tanesha’s right.”
Jill and Sandy nodded. Honey dialed.
“So you had a dream that we were the vessels for…” Jill started.
“… the Gods of War,” Honey said. “I’m telling you that was no dream. It’s ringing.”
“Hello?” Heather answered in a sleepy voice.
“I’m sorry,” Honey said. “Were you sleeping?”
“It’s one in the morning,” Heather said. “That’s what people usually do.”
“Oh, uh…” Honey said.
“Give me the phone,” Sandy said. She took the phone from Honey. “Are you at home?”
“Our home is being renovated,” Heather said. “I’m at Tanesha’s. Why?”
“And Tanesha is there too?” Sandy asked.
“I think so,” Heather said.
Sandy explained ending up on the street that looked like the planet from Wrinkle in Time, and the page and Perses and Heather’s arrival with Valerie.
“Valerie!” Jill said.
Honey nodded. Jill hopped up and ran up the stairs. The Castle was so quiet, Honey could hear Jill talking to Mike.
“That’s a pretty weird dream,” Heather said.
“Honey swears it wasn’t a dream,” Sandy said.
“Oh?” Heather asked mildly. “Really? Huh.”
“Don’t play innocent with me,” Sandy said. “You know something and you’re not telling.”
“If I know something that I’m not telling, than why are you asking about something I’m not telling?” Heather asked.
“I…” Sandy grumbled for a moment.
“That’s not very nice,” Heather said.
“Ask her about the power of the Matrons of Honor,” Honey said.
“Fine,” Sandy said. “Keep your secrets. But tell me this — Are the Matrons of Honor powerful?”
“Matrons of Honor can do almost anything,” Heather said. Sandy could almost hear her grin. “Their power can trump almost any old power of Olympia or otherwise.”
“How about the Gods of War?” Sandy asked.
“The who?” Heather asked. “You really should go back to bed. You have a huge day tomorrow.”
Sandy suddenly felt very tired. She looked at Honey, who looked dead on her feet.
“You’ll tell me what happened someday?” Sandy asked.
“Sure,” Heather said. “Go to bed.”
Sandy hung up the phone and gave it to Honey. Jill came down the stairs from Valerie’s apartment.
“Everyone seems to be here,” Sandy said with a yawn.
“I just got so tired,” Jill said. “Can we figure this out tomorrow?”
Sandy and Honey nodded. Jill raised a hand in good bye before leaving for the loft. Sandy pushed Honey back to her apartment. MJ met them at the door. Sandy made it up the stairs and into bed.
Her last thought was: “What is the deal with the Matrons of Honor?” Her head hit the pillow and she was out.
Heather hung up the phone and looked around the kitchen. Blane was taking chocolate chip cookies from the oven while Jeraine was filling their water glasses. Athena was standing next to Blane eating chocolate chip cookie dough. Heather and Tanesha were sitting at the bar in the kitchen.
“How did it go?” Tanesha asked.
Jeraine set a glass filled with ice water in front of her and Heather. They both drank them down. As he had before, he took the glasses to fill them.
“She didn’t believe me, of course,” Heather said.
“Of course, she didn’t,” Tanesha said. “Are we ever going to tell her?”
“Probably,” Heather said. “But first, let’s just let them have a lovely wedding — no bullshit from Olympia or my father. We can tell them when they get back from their honeymoons.”
“We Matrons of Honor will make it so,” Tanesha said. She held up her water glass and clinked it with Heather’s. “Damn, I’m so thirsty.”
“It’s the travel,” Heather nodded. “It’s hard on human bodies.”
“Do I get to stay for the wedding?” Athena asked.
“Of course,” Heather said.
“I can’t wait,” Athena said. “I haven’t seen a human wedding in a few thousand years.”
“It’s going to be fun,” Tanesha said.
Heather smiled and nodded.
“Tomorrow is going to be fun,” Heather said with all the power of the Goddess of Love.
Blane turned around from where he was plating cookies.
“You look like you’re up to something,” Blane said.
“Just a happy wedding tomorrow,” Heather said.
“Speaking of which, we should get some sleep,” Jeraine said.
Tanesha nodded. She kissed Heather’s cheek and they left for the basement.
<p><i>Denver Cereal continues next week...</i></p>
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