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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 13: Brown 162
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 12: Hastings 140
After the mid afternoon dinner they were escorted to rooms, separate rooms in the same hallway, the largest of course given to Bob and Shella, Joe and Zeke placed in adjacent rooms across the hall, and Derek himself in a small room at the end of the hall. They stowed their gear and were shown how to find the various facilities--the latrines and the water supplies. Household servants were going to check on them periodically to see if they needed anything, but otherwise there were no expectations on them for the night. They would be expected at dinner again tomorrow afternoon, but were welcome to come to breakfast in the morning if they wished. “Absolutely,” Zeke opined, and Joe chuckled and thanked their guide.
“You’re also welcome to explore the castle until sunset, although you should not pass the purple curtains that lead to the royal chambers.”
Joe kidded Zeke, “I hope you’re not color blind.”
“Who, me? Not at all.”
The doors to the rooms had, in addition to a solid wooden door, both heavy and lace curtains. The windows were similarly provided, but that there were no shutters, although there were pins which appeared to be intended to hold shutters in place, presumably if there were a storm. For Morach, this would be an easy portal. A thought struck him, and he left to see Joe.
Joe’s door was completely open, and Zeke was sitting in a chair in his room. Derek stood in the doorway and couldn’t decide whether to knock or to speak or what, ultimately deciding to clear his throat. That got Joe’s attention.
“Derek! What can I do for you?”
“I was thinking of doing a bit of a flyover of the immediate area, get a feel for the land, the escape routes, that sort of thing, and I wondered whether you had any advice.”
“Yeah,” Zeke said. “See if you can find an ice machine.”
“I’m afraid you’re out of luck on that,” Joe said, and then he scrunched his face as if thinking. “N-no, I’m pretty sure you know enough about recon to figure out what’s important when you see it.”
“Wait a minute,” Zeke said, “did you say you were going to fly over the area?”
“Um--yeah. I do that.”
“He does that?”
“Honestly, I’ve never seen it, but Slade says he does, and I have no particular reason to doubt it.”
“But there’s no magic in the world.”
“I admit I don’t know how he does it, but I don’t believe in magic.”
“I don’t think it’s magic anyway,” Derek offered. “The suit is magic, but the changing is just something natural, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, or an armadillo rolling into an armored ball. You’re welcome to watch, if you like, but I’m going to go talk to Bob first.”
He crossed the hall and this time knocked on the partly closed wooden door.
“Come in,” Shella’s voice called, and he did so. They were both seated on the bed, she holding a mirror.
“I just told Joe,” he began, “I’m thinking I’ll do a flyover of the area and get an idea of what’s where. I thought I’d ask if you had any advice about anything in particular I should be looking for.”
“That’s a good idea,” Shella said. “We were just doing the same thing--or I was, really, scrying the area with the mirror and telling Lord Slade what I was seeing.”
Derek nodded. He wasn’t quite sure what else to say. Bob came to his rescue.
“I personally would like to know the shortest route out of the city. Everything is cool right now, but you never know when things might change.”
That made sense to Derek. “O.K., I’ll be gone for a while, but back before dark, at least.”
“Hey, wait,” Zeke called. “I still want to see this.”
“Well, come then. You can meet my multiple personalities.” He went to his room, and Zeke followed closely, Joe farther behind. Joe stood in the door, perhaps pretending he was not that interested, while Zeke took a seat in the room.
“So, how does this work?” Zeke asked.
“Well, if I’m not Ferris Hoffman, I think about being Ferris Hoffman, and all of a sudden,” he abruptly reduced to the gargoyle-sized winged middle form, “I am Ferris Hoffman. Pleased to meet you.”
Joe looked a bit surprised. Zeke looked flabbergasted.
“Then if I am Ferris Hoffman and I want to be someone else, I can go back to Derek if I like, or I can think about being Theian Toreinu Morach, and abruptly,” again the size change was swift as he reduced to fifteen inches, “I am Morach. Again, pleased to meet you. If I’m not back by dark, you’ll know something went wrong.”
With that he turned and flew out the window.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #277: Versers Resettle. 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: