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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 51: Hastings 60
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Lauren settled in to her new home; each day she made it a little more comfortable. Using a bit of what she had learned from Merlin, she created a self-lighting oil-free lamp, and then a couple more, so that she could light the cave with a command. She gathered grasses and wildflowers to use for bedding, and made a comfortable place to sleep. Then she built a fireplace over which to cook–she could cook all her food by magic, but somehow felt like that was cheating when she could do it herself easily enough. Each day she added something else to her home.
She also was in contact with Sagrimore every day. It took a couple days before he had enough confidence to initiate the connection, but nothing was happening either. She couldn't help getting the feeling that the knight, a man of action, thought they were wasting time which could be better spent doing something. There was nothing to do until they had some idea of where the vampires had gone.
It was actually ten days before Garla returned, and she had little that could be called news. The wolves had been tracking the vams, but the vams veered south out of the pack's territory. It was expected that they would return, but no reports of their emergence from the south had reached the pack mother yet. This meant they had lost their quarry, and had little hope of finding the trail soon. She would have to go to Wandborough and discuss the situation with Sagrimore.
That brought up another question in her mind, almost as an afterthought. "Garla," she asked, "why would it take you so long to get to the pack mother and back?"
Garla seemed to ignore the implication. "It is some distance to the center of our territory where she stays."
"I'm sure it is. But why would you not just travel the between and get there quickly?"
The she-wolf looked a bit embarrassed. "I'm not very good at that, sorceress."
Raal had said that some were better than others. "Well, you should practice. I knew a wolf who could drive a cab–that is, a carriage–through the sideways and pull out into traffic. In fact, I learned from watching him, although I do it a very different way. The more you do it, the better you get."
Garla appeared unconvinced, and if anything even more embarrassed. "I know, lady; but I keep getting lost."
That would be discouraging. Lauren thought about it for a minute.
"Finding your way through the between is about visualizing your destination and focusing on it. The more distinct the image is in your mind, the easier it is to get where you're going."
"But there are so many places in the forest that look the same," Garla objected.
"Then don't think of the places that look the same. Pick places that are distinctive–an unusual rock formation, a particularly gnarly or deformed old tree, a waterfall." It occurred to her that it might not be an accident that wizards tended to live near such landmarks; in a wilderness, they were probably the most distinctive features available for dimension travel. Anyway, the answer seemed to make sense to Garla.
"I will try that," she said. "And I will return when I hear anything of the vampires."
"You are welcome to return without such information. I will probably be staying here, and would welcome the company."
Returning Lauren's smile, Garla left.
Lauren also left, passing through the sideways to reach Wandborough in a few minutes. Once there, she found Sagrimore's mind and asked where they should meet to discuss their plans, as she had some news. Joining him in the local tavern, she explained what she had been told.
"Then our quest has failed," he said.
"Not entirely," Lauren replied. "First, we killed a vampire and several ghouls; second, we scared them away from the good people of Wandborough; third, we both learned quite a bit through the journey."
Sagrimore furrowed his brow. "You have a strange concept of success, lady."
Perhaps she did, but there was no sense keeping Sagrimore here. "Camelot will need as many knights brave and true as it can muster in the coming days; I don't know the hour, but Arthur will be betrayed. You should return, with your driver. I'll get you back quickly, if you like, but then I'll return here."
"If Camelot will need aid, shouldn't you be there?"
"I think my destiny lies here. Anyway, we don't wish to leave the people of Wandborough unprotected, so I'll keep an eye on them and let you know if you are needed. If the vampires return, I'll call you; if you need me, you can call me."
Sagrimore opted against returning home by magic, and organized for the return journey. They said their good byes, and as he took the road she returned to her cave.
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 #91: Novel Mysteries. 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: