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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 97: Hastings 125
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Lauren stood quietly in the evening light within what remained of the forest outside Wandborough, and wondered why she had not thought to do this already. She had found friends in this world three times before; she would not believe that there were none here now. She just hadn't looked for them properly. Quietly she sent out the telepathic call. She had done it before, and it had always brought one of the werewolves to her. Perhaps it would do so again.
The wolves--Lauren thought back over her experiences with them. Her first time in this world, in Philadelphia, was that two thousand five? Raal had picked her up and taken her to meet Annuda, the pack mother. Raal was so adept at walking the twilight he could drive a cab through it and pull out in traffic. She smiled when she thought that his cab really did come out of nowhere when it cut in front of people sometimes. Together, wolves and humans had brought down a vampire stronghold and recruiting center. That was when she had killed Horta. After that--before that--it was confusing. She was in Camelot, and together with Sir Sagrimore had come to Wandborough in pursuit of that same Horta. He, and his antediluvian master Tubrok, had eluded them; but the wolves had kept them informed as well as they could, and when Horta assaulted Wandborough her friend Garla warned her, and rallied wolves once again to fight alongside humans to drive the vampires back. Garla's great-great--well, she didn't know the number of generations, but Ferrena, the pack mother when Bethany was young, was descended from Garla. Again, the wolves had been friends. She needed friends. She should have looked sooner.
The call was not long unanswered. While Lauren was lost in her thoughts, she realized that someone was moving close at hand.
"I am Laurelyn of Wandborough, Mystic of the Western Woods, defender of the sons of Eve and friend of the daughters of Lilith. May I know who you are?"
The shadowy figure emerged, nervously, into full view. "I am Garith," he said--definitely a male this time.
"Garith, I have recently returned to these woods, and would like to speak with your pack mother. I would be happy to go with you to meet her, or to entertain her here."
Garith did not at all seem certain what response was appropriate; but he picked one.
"The Mystic of the Western Woods is a myth," he said. "Besides, if she ever lived, she is surely dead by now."
"Surely dead several times by now, on to another world, as the humans say--and another, and another, and now back here. I am intent on meeting the pack mother. I have been courteous about it thus far; is that the wrong approach in this century?"
Lauren thought that might give him pause, and indeed he did pause before answering.
"I should carry your message to her," he said. "I cannot speak for her. It is dangerous to go to the spider, but not safer to bring the spider to you."
"Well spoken," Lauren said. "I will be here. My student, Bethany of Wandborough, has been living in the cave in which I long ago taught her. You will find me there. But please don't take too long. I have vampires to kill, and don't want to put it off."
Garith vanished into the woods and hopefully, Lauren thought, into the mist. The forests were smaller than they had been a thousand years before, but it was probably still quite a walk to the center of the territory.
He must have taken the mist, as he returned the day after next. She had taken to strolling the woods close to the cave, and happened to see him before he saw her.
"Garith. Welcome back."
"Mystic," he said. "Sielle will see you. You are invited to come with me to our home."
As Lauren recalled, the last time she met a pack mother, the woman came to her; but then, the time before she was brought to the pack mother. That was in Philadelphia. Now on her third visit to Wandborough, she had never before been to the home of her lupine allies here. She was not certain, though, whether this invitation was a greater honor or a greater precaution.
"I will of course come immediately," she said. "Please, lead the way." Even as she said this, she opened her mind to reach Bethany. I'm going to meet the wolf named Sielle, she sent. I'll try to keep you posted.
As the mist appeared, she followed Garith into it.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #198: Verser Trials. 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: