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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 13: Hastings 48
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Lauren wasn't sure what to say. Here she is, in the midst of a trackless wood, and a white-haired bearded stranger greets her by saying she's expected. She wasn't certain whether she got it right.
"I think you must have me confused with someone else," she said.
"No," the man replied. "It is you for whom I have been waiting. I didn't know who you were until you arrived; but I am Merlin, and if I am expecting someone, then that's who I will find. So, what's your name, child?"
"Lauren Elizabeth," she began, and halted. The sounds coming out of her mouth didn't sound like her name. Connected as she was to his language processing, her names were translating into his language. It hadn't happened with the Parakeet language, but her name had no equivalent in their language. Merlin clearly spoke an old English tongue, maybe Saxon or Gaelic or something, and had terms in his language which were his versions of her names.
But when he repeated them, they didn't translate back to the names she knew. "Laurelyn Elsbeth?" he said. "I shall call you Laurelyn Spellsbreath. Now come; there's a lot to learn."
"I'm sorry; didn't I say?" Merlin looked a bit uncertain. "You're my new pupil. Bring your things." And he walked out the other side of the glade.
Lauren released an exasperated sigh. She would never be able to keep up with the wizard while pulling the cart through the soft mulch. There was only one thing to do: try the telekinesis. She reached behind her with her thoughts and raised the cart into the air about a foot. Then it was easy to pull it along through the air.
Merlin resumed talking. "You're a bit older than I anticipated. I usually try to train young men, boys, really. Young girls are so flighty. And older people are so much less malleable–you can't shape them. But apparently you're the new student, so we'll make the best of it." He turned and looked over his shoulder at her, then stopped.
"Ah, but you're not a beginner, are you?"
"Oh–well, I would say not, I guess. I've done some psionics, and also released the power of the Holy Spirit in manifest miracles against the forces of darkness. Oh, and a friend of mine loaned me a primer on magic which I kind of browsed through."
"Well, I hope there's not too much for you to unlearn. But it's good to see that you are already familiar with both the outer and the inner powers. I think I can work with you."
"Well, sir, I hope so." As he resumed walking, she followed. "By the way," she said, "What do I call you?"
"Whatever you like," he said. "Merlin, sir, Pendragon, lord, sire, teacher–it would be better for our relationship if it were something respectful, but so long as I know you mean me I'll answer."
"Yes, sir. How far are we going?"
"As far as we can," he replied. "Auguries, summonings, illusions, transmutations, metaphysics–whatever I can teach you in the time available."
"No, I mean–and that's very useful–but how far are we going to walk today?"
"Oh, not far." That sounded promising. "Maybe three or four hours." That sounded less so; still, there was nothing to do but keep walking, cart floating behind her.
That gave her another thought. "Will any of this walking be on a road?" she asked. "It would be easier with the cart."
"A road? Oh, oh, yes, certainly. We'll take the road." With that, he waved his arms, chanted something unintelligible, and as they passed between two trees suddenly they were on a road which seemed to begin right there and continue straight before them.
It was certainly surprising, but it made no sense to ask how it was done at this point. Lauren set down the cart, and continued pulling it behind her.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #78: Novel Fears. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: