Copyright © 2002
Now I make some fun of the Scottish accent in this story. I'm part Scot, so I feel I have that right.
All the weights and measures in this story are US. While Canada is a metric country I'm old enough that I didn't grow up with the Metric system and I still think most comfortably in inches, feet and pounds, especially when it refers to people. If somebody from Britain or Australia uses American measure either they're doing it deliberately or I've translated it.
Since Jenna was in Scotland with the rest of the Ross's I decided to take my morning run a little later than normal, hoping to fool my brain into giving me a little more sleep time, so my alarm was set for six-thirty instead of six. However it didn't work and I was awake at six as usual.
I felt one of my little brothers jump onto my bed, and since he was in puppy form, I figured it was Teddy. He began licking my face, and I heard Barry in my mind. *Robby, how do I turn back? Please help!* there was a bit of panic in his mind-voice and my eyes flicked open, and I was staring into Barry's dark brown eyes, in his puppy form, anxiety in those eyes. First, I reached into his mind to sooth him, and began stroking his head and back.
*Relax Barry. There's no need to panic, and you want to show everyone else too, don't you?* I asked him gently.
His mind giggled, his panic gone now, *You're gonna pull a practical joke aren't you?*
*Oh, yes! But I assure I've never had a better reason.* I told him. I reached out with my mind to gather in the rest of the family, carefully excluding Grace, and Barry would only get a bit of it. Very loudly, but not at a painful level, I gave a mind yell. *Everyone up! You've got to see this! It's the most important event in a werewolf child's life!*
Most werewolves woke up easily, unless like Teddy you weren't a morning person. I saw his eyes open and he glared at me, still half asleep. But then he realized who I was holding his blue eyes opened wide in shock, and he tumbled out of bed completely awake now, not bothering with the ladder just jumping to the floor. I wondered if there might be any jealousy, but taking a look into his mind as he jumped on my bed all I saw was delight and pride. He was crooning to Barry and petting him when the three adults arrived at the door and threw it open.
I didn't know what my eldest son was up to, but I intended to do him grievous bodily harm, as soon as I could reach him. I threw open the door and rushed into the boys bedroom followed by Paul and Len and we stopped in shock, when we saw who was on Robby's chest. I forgave Robby instantly. Forgiven but not forgotten, as Teddy had said to himself, when Robby woke him up the day that Rose Peters' babies were born.
We gathered around the bed, and even though we couldn't read his mind, while we were in human form, we could feel the pride that simply radiated from Barry. Robby sat up carefully crossing his legs and setting Barry down on the bed. We knelt down and admired him, and oohed and aahed in pride, and his tail wagged furiously. Despite his dark brown almost black hair, his fur is just about the same color as Robby's hair, a reddish blond.
After about ten minutes, Robby decided it was time that he should turn back. Since Barry was almost eight months younger than Teddy had been when he first changed, it would probably take him longer to learn how to turn back. Since he was still a couple of months away from being six, he would have more trouble concentrating on one thing than a boy of six and a half.
It took Barry a little over a half-hour, to change back to human form. Usually I just undressed my little patients who were learning to change, and toweled them dry, but Barry was simply soaked in sweat, his short pajama bottoms looked like he'd been outside in a hard rain, so I decided to give him a bath. He was so tired from the excitement and learning how to change that he was almost asleep before I was finished.
I popped him into his bed naked, and went down to the kitchen and got some juice. When I got back upstairs he was fully asleep, but I woke him up long enough to get some juice into him. He would probably sleep all morning and he needed the energy the juice would give him.
Teddy of course was back in his top bunk, fast asleep.
I wasn't sure if I should do this. In effect, I was going over the Scottish werewolf contact's head. I dialed the 1-800 number that had recently been instituted by the Council, that would work anywhere in the world, to get in touch with important werewolves. When prompted I gave my name and password, and the person I wanted to contact, and in about thirty seconds, I heard Robby on the phone. "Robby Hansen. How may I help the just married David Hume."
It was nice to hear that soft calm voice, but I was surprised that he knew I was married. "How did you know?"
He answered with humor in his voice. "Last time, you were acting somewhat more agitated than the first time I saw you. Sandra's engagement ring looked like it had been on for a while and she was showing some anxiety as well. In other words, you were acting like a couple of people just about to get married. It was a simple matter to do a search for your names and marriage certificates, find out the church and find out when you were getting married. Did you like the boxed set of CD's that I sent you?"
I almost choked at that. There had been no name on it and I'd been baffled by who could have sent it. The boxed set he mentioned had consisted of ten CD's, nine of which were chock full of the best songs of the fifties and sixties. I had listened in wonder to those CD's, there wasn't a song on there that I didn't like.
"How could you ever pick out that many songs and not get at least one I didn't dislike?" I asked.
"Sandra was very helpful, since she has your favorites list on her computer. I asked her to keep quiet about it. I hope she enjoyed the Diane Whitworth special studio session CD? She didn't know about that part of the gift."
"How in heavens name did you get a hold of that? I read about that album. There were only one thousand produced. I hear that you can get between five and ten thousand dollars US for one of those CDs." I asked.
"Diane's a friend. She gave me a dozen copies to give out to friends and relatives. I assure you my personally autographed copy is safely under lock and key. Now I assume that you called me for a reason?" he said with humor.
"Yesterday, I saw a man by the name of Ivor MacDougal shoot at several seals and he hit a small one. It just looked like a crease. I'm afraid that my anger got away from me and I took his rifle away from and broke it over a rock. I think he would have protested, but he decided I was a little too big for him. He obviously didn't go to the police. Today I saw a small boy with his arm bandaged. Now it could be absolutely nothing, but I was creased by a bullet a couple of years ago, and the bandage looked exactly the same." I told him.
He said thoughtfully, "A Selkie. I gather the Scottish contact told you to mind your own business."
"How did you know?" I asked somewhat surprised.
"I've met the stupid bastard." Robby said, in a biting tone of voice. That startled me. From what I had heard, Robby didn't swear very often. "You want an Elder who can tell if they have auras, and who has the power to do something about it, if they do. In other words you want me." he said, his tone much lighter.
"You have that type of power?" I was a little surprised. I'd known he was considered by the Council to be the most powerful Elder alive, but on the two occasions that he had been in Australia I had always assumed he was simply a Council representative who went through the usual chain of command. In other words he would have been under the Australian contact who I assisted.
"Oh, yes. The Council decided that since I was involved in so many incidents that I am their direct representative and only the Council can override my decisions." he said matter of factly. "Can you get two rooms for us?"
"Sandra and I are staying with her uncle, who owns a castle which was converted into a hotel. There's only one room left here, but maybe you could bunk in with Angelo." I figured that would surprise him, but if it did, he didn't show it.
"You're in Langton are you. Well Angelo is a bit shy but if he doesn't mind, that's fine with me. If he does, I'll bunk in with Len. Don't mention that I'm an Elder." Robby said.
We were staying in Langton Castle. It was more of a fortified house than a castle, but they could take about forty guests, and it was busy at the moment. My new parents had planned to do some sightseeing in England, and aside from one day in London had planned to avoid the big cities. For some reason looking at the map of Scotland I had wanted to come here, and I was confused by the depth of the longing in my mind, but obviously Steve and Carrie could see how deep it was and had agreed without much argument. We had been lucky to get four rooms.
Despite what they say about British weather, it was a hot sunny day and it had been like that since we got here three days ago. There were four of us kids, Jenna and I and two kids from France, Michel and André. I hate to put down the Scottish accent, but the French kids' English was sometimes easier to understand. When we first arrived there was a sign just in front of the grass, and we were worried for a while thinking we'd arrived somewhere where we wouldn't even be able to walk on the grass.
But when we read the sign, both Jenna and I giggled. It said:
YOU ARE FREELY INVITED
TO WALK RUN AND PLAY
AND HAVE PICNICS
ON THE GRASS
JUST DON'T DIG FOR BURIED TREASURE
As I said us four kids were on the grass and playing tag. Jenna tended to be a little awkward at tag. Being five foot six, though she was still a month from her eleventh birthday, put her at a disadvantage. It wasn't that she wasn't agile, she was, as I knew from when she was wrestling. It was just the sudden direction changes in a game like tag, she was just a touch slower than the rest of us, but with her long arms, she might have an awkward turn and still be able to tag us. I was fast at short distance, and both Michel and André were quick and agile. They were ten and twelve respectively, and I wouldn't be ten until early December. All in all, we were pretty evenly matched.
Well actually, it's more accurate to say we had been playing tag. At the time, we were resting. We saw a mini-van turn into the driveway, though they don't call them that over here. Suddenly the feeling of content I had felt since arriving here was much more intense, and if I'd been a cat, I would have purred with pleasure.
I yelled at Jenna, "Come on, that's Robby and Len." and I was off as if shot from a gun. She was far behind me, it wasn't until they got out of the mini-van that she realized that I was right. Len saw me coming and his face lit up with a smile and five feet from him I launched myself at him, and he caught me easily and swung me around several times, before setting me back down. When he did I was looking right into Robby's big green eyes, and I suddenly felt shy. He was an Elder, and since none of my people lived on this world, he was my Elder, and after Steve and Carrie, and Jenna, I loved him more than anyone else.
But he knew how to break the ice, and he grabbed me and began tickling me, and I began squirming and giggling, helplessly. I was small for almost ten and though he was a couple inches under five feet tall he was very strong for his size and as I knew from experience, he was almost impossible to escape from when he was tickling you.
I heard Jenna from behind me say, "You big bully, pick on someone your own size."
"Well that would be hard to do, I don't see anyone my own size here." he said in his soft voice and then he giggled, and suddenly I was sandwiched between the two of them as Jenna hugged him fiercely.
When she released Robby and we stepped back, he saw the two French boys. "Introduce me to your friends." *Your werewolf friends by the way. Don't tell them that I'm a werewolf, you still have the blocks that I put in your minds when you went to Australia. I'm here for a reason, and I don't know yet whether I want anyone to know if I'm an Elder. Though if anyone can read my mind they'll know I'm a werewolf.*
Jenna and I looked at each other and we giggled. We hadn't realized that they were werewolves, but it made sense, since the owner was a werewolf, that a lot of his guests would be werewolves as well. Michel and André locked at each other wondering what was so funny, but then they just shrugged their shoulders. They seemed to do that a lot. Jenna stifling her giggles introduced them, and Robby shook their hands. I could see that though they didn't know he was a werewolf Elder, they were still impressed with him. That wasn't surprising. Whenever he was around other children, even those two or three years older than he was, they just seemed to know that he deserved respect and obedience. It was hard to tell with older teenagers, they always try to act like they're not impressed by anybody.
Robby looked at me, "Do you mind if I share your room. There was only one available, and Len gets that unless you object to sharing." If anything, the content was even deeper at that moment. I would be honored to share a room with Robby. He saw my answer in my face and he winked at me.
It was called the Parlor, but if you regarded that name literally, it was the largest parlor in the world, it was easily capable of seating all of the guests and all of the staff at the same time, in comfortable chairs. There were various arranged areas and we were sitting with Steve and Carrie Ross, and Sandra's Uncle, Alexander Hunter the owner. Sandra gave me a nudge, and nodded at the door.
With relief, I saw Len and Robby come in the door. As usual, they were traveling light, each of them had a carryall. They looked around and though I knew them a little, I had never seen them enter this type of room before. You got the impression from the single sweep they had located and would remember every person in the room. It was the type of look you would expect from a cop, and in a sense, I guess that's what they were. The children who had until Robby's arrival been the only youngster's here were right behind them. Alexander had told me that it was very unusual to have so few children.
Len headed for the check in desk, and Catherine, Alexander's twenty-two year old daughter got up to check him in, while Robby headed in our direction, followed by Jenna and Angelo and the two French boys headed for their parents.
Robby tolerated the kiss that he got from Carrie. He shook Steve's hand and then when he got to Sandra, he asked, "You don't intend to embarrass me as well do you?"
Carrie said, with humor in her voice, "Robby Hansen, stop handing out misleading information. You've never been embarrassed by anything in your life."
He sighed and then grinned, "Basically true, though I may have been embarrassed the time I spilled the pitcher of fruit punch all over Mrs. Carruther's dress, when I was seven. But then again, I was too busy laughing to be sure. Actually, it was the Reverend's fault, he'd gotten a hole in one, and he was demonstrating his swing and he stuck his foot back right into my path, and I tripped over it."
"Robby, as fast as your reflexes are, there's no way that he could have tripped you, now is there, even when you were seven?" Carrie demanded, her eyes dancing with laughter.
He admitted, "Well, let's just say, I didn't try to avoid it. She's much different now, from when the minister was first transferred to Benson. It was a greeting lunch and she was shy and hiding it by being arrogant and pompous. I could see it was going to be a disaster. By the time the woman helped her to get cleaned up, and Mom had gone over to their place and gotten her a change of clothes, she was a decent human being. She ended up making a lot of friends, just when she was about to make a lot of enemies."
That little story showed some insight into why he was an Elder at such a young age. Even at seven, he had been perceptive enough to see disaster coming and to adroitly avoid it. He submitted to a kiss from Sandra after she got through laughing, and shook my hand firmly. When he shook Alexander's hand, Sandra's uncle was looking at him closely. In his gentle way he said, "You have a very unusual aura, young Robby. It looks like an Elders, yet at the same time it is different."
Robby looked at me a question in his eyes, and I shook my head no. I hadn't known Alexander was an Elder. He turned back to the man, "I afraid I'm going to have to put blocks around that information, Mr. Hunter. I don't want the fact that I'm an Elder known, at the moment. Normally you wouldn't even feel it but I'll be a little clumsy so it is evident what I'm doing." He stared intently at Alexander for about thirty seconds, then said "Done, and my aura looks strange, because I'm a Healer as well."
The man's eyes widened in surprise. "I knew that there was now a Healer, but I never got a name."
"Not willing to talk to that idiot long enough to find out?" Robby grinned, and Alexander nodded in agreement. Robby sighed, "He's competent, but he's arrogant and pompous and unlike Mrs. Carruthers it isn't because he's shy, that's the way he's made. He was in the States about six months ago and I met him when he was visiting the Council, and I could see that his external personality was a mirror for his mind."
I told him, "Alexander has a telescope up on the roof. You can see the rock where they come out to rest from up there, but generally they use the other side, where there's actually a small cove."
Alexander grabbed my ear at that point, and began twisting, though not very hard. "Now I've told you several times, you Sassenach policeman. It's not a roof. They're battlements. If you continue to call it a roof, I'll take you up there and throw you off of them so you can have a look at them on the way down." Since Alexander as most of our seated group knew, was a foot shorter and weighed a hundred pounds less than I did, that got a laugh as it usually did.
He released my ear as I apologized. "Sorry about that, Alexander, but my people have been in Australia for over one hundred and seventy years, and they didn't go voluntarily in the first place. What do we know of castles and battlements."
He nodded, a twinkle in his eye. "Well keeping in mind your background I'll forgive this one last time, but one more time its up to what you call, THE ROOF and off." Then he became serious. "I gather the wee laddie, doesn't object to sharing his room." Angelo shook his head, and his eyes were almost glowing with a feeling of pride, at having Robby as a roommate.
David and Sandra, and Alexander took Len and I to Ivor MacDougal's inn for supper. Normally during the off season all it consisted of was the inn and the attached pub, and during that time of the year no children were allowed, but during the tourist season, a larger section was opened and as it said families welcome.
It was a good thing that Alexander was along, our waitress's accent was so thick you had to pry her words apart with a crowbar, and then try to make sense of them. His own accent was just as evident but very easy to understand. He explained, "This is her first year working here, after two or three years they still have the accent, but they're also able to make themselves understood, even to troublemaking Aussies and Americans. If I hadn't been along one of the others would have served us."
Alexander did all the ordering for me, though Len had been in Scotland before and was well able to order for himself. I ended up with a meat pie of some kind. It was very good, and the dessert was out of this world.
I was finished well before everyone else, and I sat back to relax while the others finished as well. I saw a man start to come into this family section, and then he sighted David and he ducked back out the door, my mind following him. His aura was vaguely reminiscent of Angelo, but more substantial, a yellow like most weres but with heavy overtones of blue. Angelo had the yellow and the blues, but the colors in his aura were very light, and not all of the same shade. It took a powerful Elder to even see Angelo's aura, and even with us, it was almost invisible if you looked at it directly. It was much easier to see from the corner of your eye.
I followed him out with my mind. His mind wasn't quite as open as most weres but it was still easy to access. I spoke softly, though there wasn't really a need at this point since the nearest table was unoccupied. "David, you might be interested to know that Mr. MacDougal was in and then backed out when he saw you. He's ashamed of what he did. He's not very familiar with weapons, and the rifle must have been sighted improperly. He thought he was aiming eight feet over their heads, and just intended to frighten them and he was shaken when he actually hit the younger one, since they are cousins."
"The Selkies lost the last of their Elders about a hundred years ago, through a series of accident. Suddenly they went from fifteen to two, and like Sasquatch, they require three Elders to initiate a new one. Two simply don't have the power needed for the ritual."
He asked me quietly, "Can you do something about it. I know from the reports that the first time they sent you to Three Trees, they picked you because you actually had the ability it initiate an interim Elder if necessary."
"I don't know. They are predators of course, but a very different type of predator from werewolves, I don't know what channels have to be opened, and it's not something that you want to be hit or miss on. If I can get more information, then I can possibly help. If they will allow it. That shot that was fired was metaphorically one in many since the last of their Elders died. Elders aren't necessary to create a stable society. Humans have done it."
"Some weres have more problems. We're hung up on the alpha male thing, at least werewolves and Selkies are. That's why Elders were developed with the help and advice of the Elves many thousands of years ago, so that we had fair and impartial leaders, who were not alpha males, who tend to act with their emotions. That moved us away from the beast in us. Sasquatch have never been predators, they generally were vegetarian or they fished. Today, more are meat eaters than you would expect. They have Elders, but they could probably have a stable society without them. The other weres we know about all have Elders, Yeti, Jaguar and Merfolk."
I sighed, tracing my finger on the tablecloth, "I need more information, and the Selkie historian's were all Elders, so they all went as well. I can see, from MacDougal's mind they only have bits and pieces of the last hundred years, and the rest of their history is gone, except for some legends."
Robby was explaining some of the problems that helping the Selkies posed, when he saw someone entering the room. His eyes went wide with astonishment, then I saw wonder gathering in his large green eyes. I looked over my shoulder and saw Morain Walker and her two huge bodyguards. They were both several inches taller than David Hume, who was seven feet tall, and they weighed probably four hundred and fifty pounds each. When I looked back, I saw the wonder in Robby's eyes, quickly turning to annoyance, as if a problem that existed had suddenly been compounded.
Then his eyes focused on me and his soft voice was intense. "You have a stone circle somewhere on the grounds, don't you. Healers were once Shamen and I retain the abilities that made them what they once were. I can feel the stones power reaching out for me."
"Aye," I admitted, "one of my ancestors was also a Healer, and he fenced the circle inside a wall, and did his best to disguise it, by landscaping it to look like a walled garden. It is of course very small or he wouldn't have been able to do it. It calls to people like you, however, it's managed to keep the archaeologists and such like away. It's closed at night, moonlight simply doesn't give you enough light to see after dark, so we lock it up at six. Since the best time to see it is in daylight, we've never added lights for night viewing."
He looked at David and Sandra, and despite his seriousness, a smile flickered briefly on his lips. Neither of them were paying any attention to the rest of us, they were in their own world like newlyweds often were. "We'll leave them here, and they can head back to the Castle when they wake up. However," he picked up the bill, and with a twinkle in his eyes, "we'll leave them a little reminder that, they should pay at least a little attention to the world around them, unless they're in their own room."
He took a small notebook out of his pocket and wrote down the amount of the bill. "Right know we'll let them pay for the meal, add it to our bill when we leave." and he passed me the note he had made with the price on it.
Alexander unlocked the door and pushed it open. There was still just enough daylight left to see by, though much of the garden was in shadow. Right in the middle was a circular bench surrounding the center stone. I climbed onto it and sat crosslegged right in the center of the stone, there was a small area just right for an adult butt, which meant it was quite comfortable for me as well. I looked at Alexander, "Len will be staying, because that's his job, and I suppose you'll be staying because you're a stubborn Scot."
As I expected Alexander nodded, "Aye. Also, I have the feeling I'm going to be witnessing something very special, and I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"All right, enter the stone circle completely." They did. Aside from sealing things I didn't know how long it was since a werewolf called on active magic and what I was about to do was very active magic indeed. Concentrating very carefully, I whispered half a dozen words that I had memorized from a Werewolf Historian's mind, a section reserved for Healer's only. The power locked in the stones awakened, and a globe of power came into being, though in fact, much of the power was being used to conceal its existence, but there was the benefit of light inside the globe.
I said a bit apologetically, "I'm afraid that you won't hear the next portion. It could be dangerous if anyone aside from myself used it." I blocked their hearing and I began to use the contact phrase that originally all werewolf Elders had once known. It had been erased from all of our memories when I contacted the Elven world to tell the Faerie that their kin had awakened and were ready to come home.
*You again, what do you want this time.* growled the Elven portal keeper, at that I released the block I had put on their hearing.
*The same as last time.* I thought calmly, *I could always hit you again, just to remind you if you want me to. I'm always glad to be obliging.*
*No need for that!* he said hastily. "I'll get the Elven Council. It might be awhile. There's been something going on for the last couple of months, and they're really busy for a change.*
*Tell them, that if it's a problem with one female Elf, I may be able to help them. I've found one and I want to get rid of her before she becomes a problem. Her name is Morain.*
The Elf thought about that, before saying, *Morain, is it. No wonder they've been scorched lately. If that's the case I don't think it'll be long before they get back to you.* and then he was gone.
Alexander was staring at me intently. "You're the one who found the Faerie's and helped them return. All Elders felt each part of that contact phrase and then as we felt it, it was gone. I don't know of any one thing that has made me any happier than the fact that we helped them reunite after thousands of years." and he gave me a bow of respect. I simply nodded as he straightened up.
"The Faerie were the ones that awakened the latent gift of Healing that I had, as a thank you for remembering what was requested of us. The contact phase was erased from all of our memories, as I said it, but Teddy and Barry were there at the time, so I was able to reconstruct it from their minds, when Angelo came along. I wanted to contact an Elven Elder to tell him that Angelo was safe, and they could inform his kin in their world, that the Werewolf Council would take care of him and his children, until the banishment is lifted. Unlike other weres Angelo's ability to change is a dominant trait, and it will be transmitted to all of his children, despite the fact that the one he marries will not be Merfolk."
"Since that time I have removed it from their minds. It was simply too dangerous for them to keep. The way that children sometimes chant seemingly meaningless sounds and words, it could have inadvertently risen to the surface and been actually used, with who knows what consequences. The Portal Keeper isn't an Elder, he is simply an Elf, and they're not noted for their polite ways, he might have lashed out with his mind, not caring who was on the receiving end and what damage he might cause."
"I wouldn't risk any lives by giving them a way to contact the Elves which might be unwanted, however I was invited back by the Elven Council, and I have the ability to protect myself."
Suddenly I was aware of being looked at by minds of tremendous power and complexity, and I tensed and out of the corner of my eye, I could see Len stiffen beside me. Looking at Robby, his big green eyes were serene.
I heard one mind say, *Bah, you allow a child free access to you. Why? I see nothing special about him?*
I saw Robby's lips smile gently and then like a flower opening, his mind began to become more complex, and powerful. I realized that these must be like the block he had placed in my mind earlier. When his mind was fully open, the mind was neither as complex, or as powerful, after all he was much younger, however for sheer lethality the other three minds couldn't even come close.
Two of those minds didn't change, but the third, as Robby's mind opened, first came grudging respect, and then genuine respect and then a dose of healthy fear. I heard one of the minds, ask with amusement, *Are you satisfied now. Morthren.*
*Oh, yes. I didn't know that this world could still produce minds of such power.* The fear had subsided and now just showed respect.
*I, and I think my companion, will freely admit that if we knew the mind from what you first saw, we would have been equally skeptical. But we first saw it free and unfettered, and fully worthy of respect. Since then, he has developed methods of hiding how complex his mind really is. Even knowing how powerful his mind is I could not detect anything out of the ordinary until he started lowering his blocks. Up until now I thought only our recently passed colleague Myrdain, had developed such undetectable mind blocks.*
*We are sorry about ignoring you little one. But Morthren is a new Council member, taking the place of the recently departed Myrdain. When we saw how little power your mind displayed, my companion and I couldn't resist letting him find out for himself, exactly how powerful a mind you have.*
Robby said with humor, *What if he tried to find out in the way of an ordinary Elf.*
*Normally by the time you reach his age, the natural belligerence of our race has subsided, however if he had decided to revert to old habits, we knew you wouldn't have hurt him seriously.* Two of them laughed with genuine amusement, the other laughed but his laughter was a little sour.
Robby giggled, and then as it had opened, his mind began to close again. I was aware of the three minds watching it as closely as I was. There was as much wonder in their minds as in mine, until when it was fully closed, there again appeared to be only a werewolf Elder, a little more powerful than most but not exceptionally so.
*Morain.* he said, and his mind voice was completely different, much harder. I saw her image in my mind but she was much different than she had appeared at MacDougal's earlier. Her blond hair was pure white, and short, shorter than mine, and her ears instead of round had pointed tips, and her eyes. Slanted and I cannot describe their color, our language simply has no word for it, but the evil in them was universal. I knew this was the real Morain, what I had been seeing for the last month was an illusion.
*Yes, we have been looking for her since she disappeared right after Myrdain died. He was the only one of us who she feared, and who could control her. Like you, his mind had the lethality that usually disappears with age, but did not with him. We did not expect her to go to a world with so little magic however. We have been searching through worlds with powerful magics where she could pose a danger to us.*
*Don't think because the magic in our world has become mainly internal, that external magic does not exist.* I waved his hand around. *This small stone circle is an example. It does not contain much magic, but it was enough to provide a ward to hide this contact.*
*There are many such stone circles in the British Isles and Europe, some of them may have been begun before you left. But the period when they were used was after that, and they ranged in size from ones even smaller than this, to ones miles in diameter. The religious sect, that built them and could actually use them, disappeared about twenty-five hundred years ago. Since then they have been gathering power, and since there was no longer anyone to bleed off the power it has become enormous.*
I visualized Stonehenge, as I had viewed it through a Werewolf Historian's eyes. *This is called Stonehenge, and it is the most powerful, though it is not the largest. What I show you happened about seventeen hundred years ago. About five hundred Romans gathered to mock the gods that it was in homage to.*
It was late afternoon, in my vision, and there were fires all over the place, cooking whole steers and many smaller things, and wine and more powerful spirits were being consumed. There were people dancing, and at this point they hadn't got to the point were most of them were drunk. Suddenly blue fire leaped from one of the stones, and then it was dark. *This was being viewed by a Healer, though at that time he would have been a Shaman, and it suddenly gets darks because sensibly he ducked for cover, the next scene is half an hour later.* The Shaman was wandering though the stones of Stonehenge and shaking his head. Somehow, one of them had briefly wakened a sleeping giant, and in the brief instant, before it killed him it had killed every other living thing as well, because he had seen carcasses of squirrels and birds. He knew if he hadn't ducked down, he would have been among the dead.
*An Elder wouldn't have seen the flash so he would have died and we would have no record of this. Magic unless directed travels in a straight line as you know, so when the Shaman ducked into the ditch it passed right over his head. It has occurred a dozen times since that first one, which was carefully hushed up by the Romans. It was the era of Constantine and Christianity, the officials didn't dare let this type of information get out.*
*Today many thousands of people visit these stone circles yearly, and from each one magic is transferred to the particular stone circle that they are visiting. That's in addition to what they collect from everything around them. These stone circles give Morain plenty of power to lash out at your world, causing devastation, and the damage to ours would be comparable. She chose the perfect world. A world with the stone circles, and one where you wouldn't look for her, because you weren't aware of the magic that is still available to her.*
The Council was silent at first, contemplating the information I had given them, and then they began speaking among themselves, and then they directed their attention back to me, *What do you plan, little one. We have been watching you quite closely since our last contact, though not in the last couple of months. You always have a plan.*
*I assume that the only ones able to defeat Morain, is the Council. Am I correct in that?* I asked.
*Yes, little Elder. At least you are correct in the fact that the Council are the ones who will have to face her. Whether we can defeat her is quite doubtful. She is almost as old as Myrdain was, and like him, she did not lose the sheer lethality of the young. Myrdain kept his because he was always watching, hers is a matter of sheer evil.*
*Do you have any rituals in this matter that requires you to take on Morain alone?* I said softly
*No. She is a criminal, our duty is to catch her or kill her. How we do that is our business.*
*Do you have any objection to being used as decoys?* I asked, with a bit of laughter in my mind.
Morthren answered that question, *Any way it takes, little one. We have seen your mind. It is still very young, but it has a lethal capacity that we can no longer equal, and perhaps never could have matched. The Council leader said, catch or kill her. We are all realistic enough to know that to catch her is not an option. We have no one with a mind powerful enough to guard her. We must therefore kill her. If you have a chance to kill her, by using us as decoys, we will gladly act as decoys. If she manages to kill all three of us, but you manage to kill her, then our mission will be a success.*
I bowed my head in respect. *I need more information, about how your minds work and how you use blocks to shield your mind, and how you fight.*
It was time to spring the trap. When I had lowered the ward to let Len and Alexander out, I had released a tantalizing bit of power loose with the flavor of the Council minds. They were standing beside me and I was seeing them for the first time, they looked much like Morain, light skin, short white hair, and slanted eyes, and of course pointed ears. They didn't show any evidence of their real age. They could have been any age from their early twenties up, but I knew the oldest was close to two thousand years old. They wouldn't even change when death came to them, if it was natural, because the decay occurred inside of their bodies and never showed on the outside.
Suddenly the garden door blasted open. I thought with some humor that Alexander was going to need a new one. I wasn't quite as worried as the Council was. I had seen Morain's mind in the pub, it had been wide open, why would she need to hide it here. It wasn't quite as powerful as the Council feared. Oh, it was quite dangerous enough to kill all four of us if we got careless, but it had lost much of its edge.
This would be a short battle. Ones of this magnitude only lasted seconds, because of the sheer deadliness of the minds involved. I lowered the ward and the three Elders struck at her mind. It was quite open, her blocks being down completely. Ironically, that was when an Elf was most dangerous. The offensive mind simply absorbed blows unless they were overpowering and then threw the power right back at the attacker, as Morain did with these attacks. However, knowing what was coming, the Elders had time to get their blocks at least partially up. Since it was divided in three, it didn't have full force behind it, and the reflected power, and that of Morain, simply bounced for the most part, though it did shake up the Elders quite a bit, and one of them went to his knees.
Morain's blocks began to go up, so she could gather power for another attack. This is what I had needed to know from the Elders. This was her most vulnerable point, as the blocks were going up. I struck with everything I had, and she shrieked with a pain only Myrdain had ever been able to inflict on her before, and her blocks went down completely. The Elders struck then, at a wide open mind, and with a whimper, three thousand years of evil died.
Her two huge bodyguards burst through the open gate just as the Elders transported themselves and the body of Morain back to their world. They intended to hold a funeral and a quick cremation, and then return with information I had requested and to get the bodyguards, and return them to their world.
Mossen, Dire Werewolf Elder
Though it was dark, we were essentially night hunters, and our night sight was very good, and Tonin and I watched the Elven Council Elders disappear, carrying what was obviously our former employee. Nothing had that type of limpness except for a dead body. My mind filled with joy and I could feel Tonin's do the same.
A young human pushed himself off the central stone where he had been sitting and jumped to the ground. It pricked my interest when he bowed to us. That was a ritual greeting among my people. For the first time in years, I invoked the sight of an Elder, that Morain had blocked. What I saw staggered me, not only was he a werewolf, his aura was so fine that he had to be a very powerful Elder, he was also a Healer. I went down to one knee, as was proper to one of such power. Tonin looked at me with bewilderment.
He spoke in a soft voice, "If that is the way you greet your Healers, then I accept it with thanks, and since you are also an Elder, that's the only reason it could be." He looked at Tonin. "Yes, Tonin, she is really dead. However, the Elven Council intends to take no chances. They are bringing her back to your world for a quick funeral and cremation, and then among other things, they'll be back for you."
I began to feel fingers moving through my mind, caressing and easing the pain that Morain had caused over the years. After a few moments, the gentle touch withdrew. "I am not specifically a Healer of minds, but I was able to help somewhat. Your own Healers, much more familiar with your minds, should be able to help you much more. I see that they usually erase the knowledge of the enslavement that some of your people periodically went through with Morain, ask your Council to let you keep those memories. It is part of your life experience and should shape you and future generations of your people."
"Someone can kill me, but no one that I have so far met, can enslave me. I have the points that would be used, permanently blocked. I have been a Healer for only eight months. If I can do it in that short a time, then your Healers, who've had thousands of years, should long since have come up with the same solution. Put the Healers to work to find ways to block the enslavement in the future. They've been taking the lazy way out."
I said honestly, "It simply may be that they never thought of it. We have no Healers who are also Elders. I will bring it up to the Council. May we contact you, if we have problems?"
"The Elven Council knows how to get in touch with me. I will be glad to help if you need it." he said to me.
Len and Alexander showed up a few minutes later with lanterns, which shed some light in the garden, while we awaited the Elven Council's return. They were a bit wary at first with Mossen and Tonin, but when I explained they were also werewolves though of a larger type of wolf, they began to relax and in a few minutes they were conversing as if they had known each other for years.
David Hume and his new bride also showed up at about that time, attracted by the light. He waved the bill indignantly in my direction, demanding satisfaction. Water pistols at twenty paces. Not water guns, the old pistols you used to be able to get, that maybe had a ten foot range if you were very lucky. I clapped vigorously, "You do indignation very well, David. You're going to have to be wary of that, Sandra. By the way, how does he do in your drama group?"
Sandra giggled and punched him in the shoulder. "He usually gets cast as a guard or something similar. He's just too big to play the hero."
"Very true." said David, gloomily, but then with a great deal of evident satisfaction, "But this time I got the girl!" He swept her up in his large arms and gave her a kiss, when it got a little more passionate I reluctantly had to break it up. I knew speaking wouldn't have any effect and I didn't think yelling would either, so I did a little knocking on their minds.
David sat her down and they separated, with no evidence of embarrassment, and they just naturally joined hands. "Now there are people present." I said sternly, "and the Elven Elders should be back very soon, so if you want to continue your romance go to your room, otherwise behave yourselves. As for the dinner bill, that's what you get for forgetting where you are. Let it be a lesson to you. However, just to set your mind at rest, I told Alexander to put in on our bill."
I saw confusion on their faces and I remembered they didn't know anything about what had happened here. "Come on over and sit on the bench and I'll brief you about what been going on, while you've been having fun."
I had just finished bringing them up to date, when I felt the power beginning to rise around us, indicating that the Council was about to arrive. Looking around I could see everyone else was aware of their imminent return as well. I stood up out of respect, and the others followed my example as the four figures appeared. The three Elven Council members and my information source, so that I could complete
the task that had brought Len and I to Scotland in the first place.
The fourth figure was arguing vigorously with the Council, and his choice of language while interesting at first, very quickly got stale. He didn't have much imagination and he kept repeating himself. Morthren looked at me and smiled and shrugged, saying. *It is night on our part of the world as well, little one. Unfortunately he's the best that we could do, he's the only Selkie Elder in the capital at the present and our energy level is somewhat depleted at present, for some reason.* and he showed all his teeth, in a shark's grin. *we simply didn't have the energy to transport someone a little more decent to the capital and still transport to your world and back. It will take days for us to recover to that point. He's a little weasel and he scares easily but there is one plus, he is a Selkie Historian as well.*
*Good, I think I'll interrupt his little tirade. It long since got boring. He's repeating himself for the fourth time. Now if you happen to mention the fact that I helped you to kill Morain, I certainly don't care if he's scared half to death. It's just as easy to get information out of a scared mind as a calm one.* I told him, and his grin got even wider, if that was possible.
*ENOUGH!!* I directed at the Selkie. *You are here at my request and I'm tired of your bombastic inanities.*
He turned on me and when it looked like he was going to throw himself at me physically, he was restrained by a couple of the Council members. *I wouldn't do that if I were you, Gotrin. He's the primary reason that Morain is dead. With a mind blow he shattered her blocks, allowing us to kill her.*
That ended any thoughts of his attacking me. He retreated trying to hide behind the Council members now, fear on his face. *I need some information, and you're going to provide it for me. Your brethren on this world, who stayed behind when you left, lost the last of their Elders about a century ago. I need to know what channels I need to open in a Selkie's mind to create an Elder, and if possible a way that they will accept my help.*
He said spitefully, *They won't allow you to help them. It took an Elf and a member of the Merfolk royal family to choose our first Elders more than six thousand years ago.* and his mind showed an image of the two who had combined chosen the Selkie's first Elders. I wasn't interested in the Elf, but the other. How two children born six thousand years apart could look so much alike, was a wonder that I would probably never solve. But the Merfolk boy in the Selkie's mind looked exactly like Angelo. I sighed happily. There had to be more than just coincidence at work here. The Elves were probably seeing as much as I, but to the rest it would be the verbal content that they would be getting.
I copied that portion of his mind to mine calling out, *Steve. Can you hear me?*
*Yes Robby, I can.* said Steve.
*I assume that you know where the walled garden is, get Carrie, Jenna and especially Angelo and come here! It's an important moment, and at the same time a unique moment! You will probably never be involved in anything similar again in your whole lives!* I told him.
I turned my attention back the Selkie Elder. *I have the solution to the second part of the problem, now I need to know how to create a Selkie Elder. Alexander would you mind sharing this information. It was lost once, I don't wish it to be lost again, the more who know of it the less likelihood that it will be lost again.*
*I would be honored, LITTLE ONE.* he said, with humor in his mind.
I sighed, *Now you're reminding me of my size. You're a bunch of bullies and I think I'll take my marbles and go home.*
Now I would have expected the next from Alexander, but from Morthren? By the way, I never did learn the other Council member's names, maybe in the future, but getting back to Morthren. *Now how are you going to do that, little Elder, you don't have all your marbles in the first place.*
I gaped at him, and he winked at me. I shook my head and then got myself back on track. *Now, Gotrim. I need the information on how to initiate an Elder. We can do this the easy way or the hard way. Just bring the information up to the top of your mind, or I can go digging for it. Normally you wouldn't even be able to feel my presence, but if you make me dig for it, I'll make you aware that I'm there, and it won't be pleasant. Harmless, but not pleasant.*
Obviously, he believed both statements since he meekly brought the information I wanted to the top of his mind. It took longer than it would have taken if it had been just me, but with Alexander along and transferring the memory to both our minds, I had to go slower. The memory image earlier had been simple. This was very complex and time consuming. I was just finished transferring all the information to our minds and was withdrawing when the Ross family showed up. I'll treasure the astonishment in his mind, as he saw Angelo, for the rest of my life.
I was fully out of his mind, by the time he looked at me with wonder in his eyes, the obnoxious personality, very temporarily in abeyance. I told him, *You forgot that a Merfolk Prince and his wife were banished to our world. While they died, you see their offspring before you. With the memory image of the Elf and the child, and Angelo's presence I don't think I'll have any trouble persuading the Selkie's of this world to accept my help.*
I turned to the Elven Council to say my good-byes. I offered my arm. Elves only accept physical contact from those they considered their closest friends, and after what we had gone through, it felt like they were my close friends and apparently they felt the same as well for none of them hesitated, grasping my hand and wrist in theirs.
I stepped back, *The first time I contacted you, you said mostly what you did was watch so you were glad of the interruption. I have a task fit for Councilors. The stone circles still have their powers. Tapping into them and draining the magic and then using that magic for your world's benefit, would remove the danger of them being used to damage your world and protect our world as well.*
Morthren said, *That would take years. There's not only your world, there are about a dozen which have enough magic in which the stone circle could pose a danger, yet don't have those who can use that magic. Yes, it could take years.* He smiled a gleeful smile as did the other two Elves. *Finally, a task that needs doing, that only we can do. I think I speak for my colleagues in saying that we thank you for saving our lives, and more important protecting our world, and also for putting some interest into what has always been considered a necessary but boring job.*
The Council leader spoke then, *Goodbye, little one, call on us at any time, we may be a little busier from now on, but we'll always be glad to talk to you.*
They began to fade then, taking the two dire werewolves and the Selkie with them.
Angelo was sitting majestically on a stone in the cove on the far side of the rock the seals used to rest and sunbathe, and he didn't feel shy this time. What he was doing was important for the Selkies and though he didn't know it, was good for his self-confidence at the same time.
As the Selkies arrived from up and down the coast, they looked with awe at Angelo. Merfolk were the top of the ocean world, as werewolves were the top of the canine world, and while the Selkies had lost most of their history, legends remained, and they felt even more wonder than a human would.
When they were finally all there, about a dozen men and woman considered the leaders of the Selkie world were standing in front of me but they all kept sneaking a peak at Angelo. The others, about fifty men and woman were off to the side.
I addressed them in mind speech, I wanted them to realize what I was from the start. *Selkie leaders. You have split into factions since the last of your Elders died, and with no one to decide issues, disputes have lasted for generations. I contacted a Selkie Elder from the other world, where part of your people went four thousand years ago. From him I learned how to initiate Elders.*
*Six thousand years ago two people chose your first Elders.* and I put their image into the Selkies minds. They turned fully to look at Angelo. *No, he's not one of them, despite the fact that he looks identical to the child in the memory, I took from the Selkie Elder and Historian. He is however the direct descendant of that child. On the other world his father and uncle had a dispute about who should be chosen chief Elder.*
*In their laws it states that the Chief Elder doesn't have to be a member of the royal family, but in actual fact no other has ever been chosen to fill that position. It has been an unbroken line since that child became Chief Elder, to Angelo's uncle.*
Ivor MacDougal asked, "Why is the child here and not on his own world?"
*His uncle is not a bad man, but he is somewhat of a fearful man. He was always afraid that his brother would usurp his power in some way, so finally he asked the Elves to remove the worry from his mind, since he could not rule, as he should. They agreed to banish the Prince to this world, and his wife of course came along. A couple of years later Angelo was born. When his parents died, Angelo was left alone, and finally came under my care as a werewolf Elder. He could not be returned to his world for the same reason the Prince was banished. While his uncle would not worry about the child Angelo, he would be worried about the adult Angelo that would inevitably follow. So Angelo and his descendants, will remain on this world until someday they are called home, and since on that world magical beings live two or three times as long as they do on our world, it could be three hundred years before his uncle dies.*
I spoke aloud for the first time, "Would you agree to let Angelo, guided by me, chose new Elders. Once that is done I can initiate them, and from that point on unless you get unlucky again and have all your Elders die at almost the same time, you will have control of your own destiny, and you will have Elders to lead and guide you."
They talked it over for about fifteen minutes, and it got hot at times. I went over to Angelo and took his hand and he smiled at me. I was very satisfied, this would be very good for his self-image.
Ivor MacDougal said to me after they had completed their discussions, "What if you just pretend to let him choose and do it yourself?"
I grinned wickedly, "Oh, you're going to know that it's his choice, because I plan to broadcast every second to everyone here. If you don't want your people to know what your mind is like, don't become a candidate. One warning though, the original Prince was chosen by the Elven Council because of his instinctual knowledge of what makes a good Elder. Angelo has those same instincts, he might find all three among the candidates or he may find none, and may go outside those actually offering themselves."
Perhaps it's just as well that Angelo found two definite Elders among the candidates and three other potential Elders, who would need another two or three years of development before they should become actual Elders. The third came from outside the candidates, a young woman in her late teens, like Angelo she was shy, and she had simply been too shy to offer herself.
Ivor was the first choice, and I wasn't surprised, despite his rash act with the rifle, he had showed mostly good judgement and had good instincts.
The initiation was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It was completely outside the normal parameters, that I was familiar with among other weres. Not only that, but I had to do it three times, and at the same time I had to make sure they knew exactly what I did and why I did it, so they could duplicate it for themselves.
Wearily, I addressed the three new Elders, "I will be passing the procedure to our Werewolf Historians, so that it won't be lost again. You know what choices to make now. Look among your people and find at least three more to initiate immediately, and other potential Elders who can be initiated in the future. Normally you don't want to act too quickly, but to maintain a viable Elder population you need at least ten, and try to get back up to the fifteen that your people used to have. Of the weres on this world, you have the most dangerous lifestyle, the sea can be an unforgiving place, as you well know, and the presence of man doesn't help."
Ivor said to me, "We are somewhat arrogant, and argumentative, but as you say the sea is an unforgiving place. To live in it we need those qualities, which sometimes brings us into contact with humans in an unfavorable light. But you have our thanks in taking so much trouble to make sure that we have a society again not just a group of arguing people." The three Elders shook my hand, and embraced Angelo with thanks.
Jenna and I watched the mini-van with Len and Robby head out of the driveway. I heard a last, *See you at home, Angelo, Jenna.* from Robby. I felt content and fulfilled, as they drove away, and knew that whoever had brought me here, had now released me. My task was finished.
We were sitting at one of the two lawn table, umbrella included which we had gotten while Robby and Len were away. We had placed it next to the sandbox that we had made for Teddy birthday. Now you might think eight was a little old to get someone a sandbox. Not for this sandbox. Paul had cleared out the trees for an area ten yards deep by twenty wide, closed it in at the back with boards, and had a dump truck filled with sand back up and dump it's load. It was three and four feet deep in places, and it was simply enormous.
It was kind of messy on rainy days, but neither Barry nor Teddy, nor Robby, had any objection to stripping their clothes off in the porch before going inside to clean up. While Robby wasn't into sandboxes, he enjoyed helping Barry and Teddy plan their projects and carry them out, and as I said, this one was simply enormous.
Well there were only four seats at each table and we had warned Len, and there was only one free chair. Now we were all in bathing suits and planned to go swimming at the Ross's. We'd been given the key and the freedom of the pool, all we had to do was keep it clean.
He came out in his Speedo bathing suit, after he had had his morning run and showered and had breakfast. He wasn't even suspicious when he came out to the table carrying a can of Coke. He put his Coke down on the table and then sat down, and then leapt up with a yelp, rubbing his stinging bottom with both hands, as we burst into laughter and giggles.
After his bottom had recovered, he looked down at the pad on the chair, which looked the same as the ones on all of the other chairs. He prodded it with suspicion. Through my laughter, I told him, "It's harmless now, it only has a single charge. It has to be charged between each use. Somehow the charger got thrown out and there was only enough for you."
He was grinning now, and he sat down cautiously, but I'd been truthful, there was only enough juice for a single use and we'd carefully gotten rid of the charger before he got back home.
"What is it?" he asked.
"Teddy found it in a comic, the add read something like this. 'Tired of those old fashioned hand buzzers. Give your friend a hot seat. Completely safe and harmless.' Actually we wanted to make sure that it really was harmless so asked Edward, to have one of the scientists take a quick look at it, and he confirmed it."
He had a far off look on his face. Not like when he was really concentrating, then he was completely out of this world, but just a random thought. He looked at me and grinned. "I was just thinking that it could be very useful sometime as a distraction. I don't really need the pad to recreate the sensation." Which I knew, but we had an agreement, he wouldn't use his abilities for practical jokes, unless it was a very special occasion, such as Barry learning to change.
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