Jennings, Maine, population 207, was about to increase by five to 212 residents. The Travers family: father, Albert, thirty-six, called Bert by all of his friends and his wife. Mary Ann, also thirty-six and Bert's second cousin, childhood sweetheart and former next door neighbor and their three children, the twins, Andy and Trish, ten and Lettie, seven.
It was the middle of January, eight AM in the morning, when their mini-van pulled into Jennings. There was four inches of new snow which had fallen overnight and consequently, the village common was covered by white, the surface was pristine, not yet covered with footprints and other signs of humanity.
Bert pulled up in front of a large three story house, with a For Sale sign that said Jennings Real Estate, on the snow covered front lawn. The sign had a Sold sign hooked to the bottom of it, “Here it is kids, all ours.” said Mary Ann, quietly, deep satisfaction in her voice.
Lettie yelled excitedly, “Daddy, Mummy there's a little boy just across the street and he's naked.”
Bert and Mary Ann looked at each other and smiled. Another one of Lettie's wild stories. But then Andy, the calm one of the family, cried with equal excitement. “She's right, Mum and Dad, there's really a naked boy walking on the common, we can see him too!!
They turned in their seats, looked and were shocked to see that their children were right. Ambling along on the common was a boy of about Andy and Trish's age and he didn't have a stitch on. Concerned Bert, rolled down his window, “Boy where are you from and where are your clothes?”
The boy, startled by the voice, looked up and stared in shock and then he disappeared.
“Daddy, there are no footprints,” Trish said softly and sure enough where the boy had been walking was as unmarked as the rest of the common.
Baffled the family were looking at each other, when a gold Ford Focus station wagon pulled up and parked in front of them. It had Jennings Real Estate on both front doors. An athletic man in his early fifties got out of the car and came toward the van as the children piled out of the backseat with excitement and ran across the street. Bert and Mary Ann, as befitting their advanced years (the children's term for them whenever they wanted to tease their parents), got out of the mini-van to meet him.
The man pulled his glove off of his right hand and offered it in greeting, shaking their hands and introducing himself. “Mr. and Mrs. Travers, I'm Blake Jennings. My younger son, Emmett, who sold you the house, had a medical emergency and couldn't make it.”
Mary Ann said with sympathy, “I hope it's nothing serious?”
He shook his head, saying with a grin, “You would have thought so if you'd heard the way he was acting when he called me, after remembering about your arrival. But then young men get that way when they their first baby arrives. Not that I've ever been much better, I always tended to fall apart when a child was due. I've got five, the three youngest are all girls.” He nodded across the street where the Travers children were looking around. “Judging by what Emmett told me, your twins are the same age as Judy, my youngest. She's ten and a half.”
He began to lead the way up the walk to the front door, taking out a set of keys while he did. Once on the porch, he turned around before unlocking the door and peered at the children again. “What are they searching for?” he asked as he turned back toward the front door, putting the key in the lock.
Bert felt somewhat embarrassed, but Mary Ann who was seldom embarrassed by anything, said calmly, “We all thought we saw a naked boy walking on the common. When we tried talking to him, he just disappeared. They went over to see why he wasn't making any footprints.”
Blake looked at the two with astonishment, then he turned the key in the lock and pushed open the door.
Bert was thinking, 'Good start. Now he thinks we've gone round the bend.'
Once inside Jennings flicked on the light, since it was still cloudy outside and lit up the interior. He said solemnly, “I wondered why the Murrow place went so quickly. Jake Murrow must have been your ancestor.”
Since the deal had gone through so quickly, not much information had been exchanged between the real estate agent and the Travers. They had only discovered that the Murrow place was for sale three weeks ago, they understood now why he had been somewhat preoccupied at the time. They were somewhat surprised that Jennings had guessed that Murrow was related to them
“Yes, Jake Murrow was our great-grandfather.” Mary Ann replied.
“Both of you?” Blake Jennings asked surprised.
“Yes,” said Mary Ann, who tended to more vocal than Bert, “My grandfather was Jake Murrow's only son Richard and he was born in 1930 and Bert's grandmother, Sarah, was his only other child and she was born in 1931. How did you guess?”
Blake said, “Because you could see Luc. Newcomers can't see him.”
“Luc?” Bert asked.
Jennings nodded, saying, “Your naked boy. That's Lucius. Or Luc as everyone calls him. Now if you hadn't seen him and weren't descendants of the Murrows, I wouldn't have mentioned him. A couple of people who talked about him in the 1800's ended up in the looney bin, so we learned not to talk about him to strangers. Today anybody talking about him would probably just end up having the story told in the National Enquirer or one of the other papers of that type, but still it's sort of an unwritten law that we don't talk about Luc.” “Who is Luc, anyway?” Bert asked.
Jennings asked a little suspiciously, “Emmett said one of the few things he had sense enough to find out about you was that you're a writer.”
Bert grinned, guessing what Jennings was thinking. He said, “Don't worry. I'm not that type of writer. I might as well tell you, it's unlikely I can keep it a secret for long. I'm primarily a mystery writer and I use the pen name of Paul Tarrant.” with justifiable pride. He was considered to be one of the best writers in that genre and his books always ended up in the top ten list and many of them went to number one.
Jennings was impressed, showed it and after digesting the information, went on with the subject of Luc. “Luc is… well Luc is Luc. He doesn't talk much about himself, but he is very old. You will find his name in diaries going back to a village in 1600's Britain, with the indication that he is much older than that. The village wasn't a large one and after the English Civil War, virtually the whole village pulled up stakes and moved to the Colony of Maine. And in the beginning of the eighteenth century, the old village was abandoned completely.
Jennings explained, “Many of them brought small pieces of their cottages with them and set them in the foundations of the new homes they built here. It's thought by some, that the physical presence of those small pieces is the reason that Luc also ended up here."
Jennings said quietly, “But we do know that over the years he's saved many villagers lives. He seems to be able to sense when someone from the village is in danger and he can go wherever they are and warn them and sometimes help them. I know Luc saved my life twice. Once in 1958 when I was ten, I was skinny-dipping with the other boys at Miller's old quarry and I cramped up. None of the others noticed that I was in trouble and I was drowning when someone dragged me up and held me until the cramp went away. I turned around to see who it was. Luc was looking at me solemnly, then he winked at me and grinned, saying 'I won't tell any of the adults, if you won't.' before he disappeared.”
He told them, “The Village Council was trying to make the quarry off limits and me drowning, or telling about almost drowning, would have been the last straw. The second time was in 'nam and he not only saved my life, he saved my entire squad. We were out on night recon and following a little path, when he turned up in front of me and waved me back. Since I was point man, I stopped and the others stopped behind me. He turned and began to walk down the path and he must have triggered about a dozen mines. Not that I remember the exact number. We turned and hauled ass, when the first one went off and we could hear them continuing to explode behind us as we got the hell out of there.”
He waved his arm in a circle, saying, “Most of the town can tell stories like that and one of the things the Historical Society does is to make sure references to Luc are kept for the villagers only. I can remember reading a piece from a diary. It was written by a woman during the Revolutionary war. Let's see if I can remember the gist of it.”
'Luc came yesterday. He told me that Brennen had died at Valley Forge. I was so upset that my water broke and he delivered my beautiful son and then went to get help from my father and mother.
Lucas is doing well and has a fine set of lungs.'
Lucius the slave, was looking for Lucius the free. Actually he was looking for Lucius Gaius Quintus, most often referred to as Gaius since his father had also been named Lucius, the nephew of his owner Marcus Flavius Quintus, who was a wealthy Roman landowner and magistrate. Since Lucius was wearing what he wore for most of the year, he was in fact naked and barefoot.
There was only a difference of a year in the ages of the two boys. Gaius was nine years old, average size for his age and with blond hair and a fair complexion, he perhaps had a Briton as an ancestor. Lucius, not his original name though it was the only one he could remember, his Master having given it to the nameless boy when he had purchased him as a five year old. With a poor diet and lack of nutrition for the first five years of his life he was small and slight, being almost the same size as Gaius. Also blond with a fair complexion, though since he went naked most of the year, he was quite deeply tanned.
Lucius was leading Gaius's limping pony which he had found a couple of hundred yards back and had, since he was least two miles from the villa, decided to search a little further. He thought he heard something and he halted so he could listen more closely and he heard a second sound, which he realized was a moan coming from just off the path. Tying the pony to a bush, he pushed through it and found Gaius lying in a little glade just on the other side of the bush. He too was naked, his clothes having been torn off of him, He had a spectacular black eye and he was giving little moans.
Worried Lucius knelt down beside him. He was relieved when he saw that Gaius was conscious, the other boy looking at him and trying to smile through a split lip. Gaius asked for water. After first making sure that the younger boy didn't suffer from any broken bones, he jumped to his feet and pushed through the bushes to get the waterskin on the pony's back, then he returned quickly to Gaius.
Taking out the stopper, he helped Gaius take a long drink. Then Gaius said, “It was Bran and Corin. They thought I was you at first, then when they realized it wasn't they ran away.” Lucius was enraged and at the same time, he was worried. Marcus Quintus was a lenient Master, but he was still a powerful Roman noble and he could at times be unpredictable. He could very well put part of the blame on Lucius's shoulders and punish him severely.
Gaius said, “My bum hurts.”
Lucius lifted him and when he saw the blood on Gaius's buttocks and thighs, he realized that the boy had been raped. His anger with Bran and Corin fizzled out. He hoped that they weren't stupid enough to let themselves be caught alive. A beating might have just earned them a quick death. A beating and rape would surely earn them crucifixion. He was also thankful that they were unmarried. Wives and children would have been lucky just to end up as slaves, joining their husbands and fathers on the cross would have been more likely.
Their mother was still alive and in her fifties. She was completely crazy and would only be found if she wanted to be found.
Lucius had known that Gaius planned to take this path so he had come this way to meet up with him if he could, but it wasn't a regular road and he didn't dare leave Gaius to go for help.
Making sure that Gaius was no longer bleeding, he made a thick pad out of the unwearable tunic and helped Gaius to mount. Even with the cloth pad sitting was a painful process. Having been in similar situations himself, having been his Master's constant bed companion for the last two years, he was aware of how painful Gaius was finding it, but there was no help for it.
Taking it slowly because of Gaius and also because of the fact that the pony was still limping. It was possibly from a stone bruise since it was unshod. It took almost a half hour to get back to the villa. Marcus Quintus was just coming out of the stable door, just returning to the villa himself. When he saw Lucius leading a naked Gaius on his pony, he asked in his abrupt manner what had happened.
Unwilling to condemn men to death, even for such a crime, when he didn't have to, Lucius let Gaius do the talking, since he knew more about it anyway. As soon as he had heard what happened, Marcus whirled on the crowd who had gathered.
Pointing at one, “You go inform the garrison,” he said. Pointing to a second, “And you go summon the doctor.”
He turned back to his nephew and lifted him gently from the saddle and carrying him swiftly into the villa, Lucius trotting behind him. He carried Gaius into his bedroom and laid him down on his stomach. When the doctor arrived half an hour later, after an examination he assured Marcus that Gaius would be fine.
“In fact I see no reason for him to stay in bed, his bottom will be painful for a few days but I'm sure you've seen plenty of boys with sore bottoms in your time.” He put his hand on the top of Lucius's head, “I know this one has experienced them, since you've been kind enough to lend me his services on several occasions.”
Marcus smiled at Lucius and the boy was relieved, realizing his Master harbored no ill feelings toward him. Gaius joined the adults for their supper, trying to stay off his bottom, while Lucius and another slaveboy served the meal.
The centurion of the local garrison showed up before the meal ended, “We found the men who attacked your nephew, sir. Unfortunately, they wouldn't come peacefully. Knew what would happen to them if they did and we were unable to get them alive. Their only other relative was their mother and she's disappeared. The locals say they can't find her if she doesn't want to be found, so it's not likely we'll ever see her again. Do you want us to keep looking, sir?”
Marcus shook his head, saying, “I know how good the locals are in the forest, if they say she can't be found, then it would be useless trying. I thank you for your quick action, in avenging the attack on my nephew, Centurion. Be sure I shall include your prompt action to Londinium in my next report.”
The Centurion saluted and left. Lucius was just as glad that they had fought and died. He was unaware of it but Gaius had the same thought. He had seen crucifixions and didn't want to see another.
Gaius was in his bed and Lucius was sharing his Master's bed as usual. He opened his eyes, wide awake. He wondered why, he couldn't remember hearing anything and he didn't need to pee. But then something nudged his mind, *Lucius. Come to me Lucius.* It repeated several times and finally unable to resist he slipped out from under his Master's arm and padded out of the bedroom and toward the kitchen.
Just after entering the darkened kitchen, someone grabbed him from behind. Putting her hand over his mouth and nose and easily lifting him off of the ground. Her, he knew it was her. Winna, Bran and Corin's mother. As he struggled frantically to get loose, the darkness began to close over him. Not the moonlit darkness of the kitchen but the darkness unconsciousness brings. As the darkness claimed the last of his consciousness, he realized that she had not come after him but after Lucius Gaius, not knowing enough about the boy to know that he was called Gaius rather than Lucius.
He did not feel the prick on his leg from a sharp stone knife, the blood flowing down his thigh and leg to land in droplets around a symbol combining the cross of Christianity and symbols of Druidic magic. Not wanting any more blood to flow, she pressed a cloth, previously prepared, against the wound. If Lucius had been awake, he would have jumped with the pain the antiseptic herbs caused.
When Lucius woke up, which was fairly quickly once the oxygen was allowed to flow back into his mouth and nose, he found himself lying on a stump of a tree, his knees hanging over the edge. Aside from raising his head a little he could neither move nor talk. He knew where he was, just behind the stable and less than one hundred feet from the villa.
Suddenly, Winna appeared over him and began sprinkling him with water to which had been added fragrant herbs and chanting. Since she was standing right over him and he could barely hear her, Lucius knew that nobody else would hear her either. By straining his ears he could make out a little of what she saying, but aside from his name repeated every few seconds, there was nothing he could understand.
She stopped and began to speak, “Prepare yourself, Lucius, to enter the World Between, not dead, yet not alive either. I have condemned you to that world until the stones that make up the villa no longer make up homes that house the living. You will never be able to go more than ten miles from those stones, except when there is danger to one who has lived under them.”
“To escape that fate you, Lucius Gaius Quintus, must summon me, to forgive you for the death of my sons.”
He would never know if he would have told her he wasn't Lucius Gaius Quintus or not. He was never given that choice. She spoke one more word and he was able to move again. But he was now in what she had called the World Between.
And with numbing force, Lucius realized he was trapped there. He knew enough about Druidic Magic to know that when such a potent curse was put on someone, there must always be a way out for the victim. She had provided a way out, that someday he should have been able to use, except: she had used the wrong name. If she had just said Lucius, he would have been able someday to use the name to call on her, but by using the name Lucius Gaius Quintus, which was his friend's name, not his, she had prevented him from ever using the escape clause.
Lucius had spent the night in terrified anticipation. Unaware of the symbology she had left behind, he was afraid that Gaius and his Master would think he had run away. He was there when they discovered the mix of Christian and Druidic symbols.
He wasn't surprised by the grief that Gaius displayed but he was astonished that Marcus seemed to be almost as grief stricken. As he comforted the little boy, Marcus said, “He was not aware of it, I am too good at hiding my feelings, but in the last months since your arrival, I had come to think of him as more than just a good bedmate. I realized that as I had come to love you, so too my feelings for him had grown to become love. I had intended to ask him to become my adopted son.”
Astonished, Lucius sat down on the floor with a plop. It would have been quite painful if he had been in the real world but in the World Between, there was almost no sensation.
Marcus stated emphatically, “I had loved this area, I thought I would never leave it. But all of a sudden, I loathe it. There's a place about seventy-miles from here that would make a perfect site for a new villa.” Gaius nodded silently. He felt much as his uncle did and he would be just glad to leave here.
When, six months later, Marcus Quintus was told that the other villa was almost finished and was habitable, he did something that few practical Romans would have done. He had the villa torn to the ground.
Lucius hated the destruction of the beautiful villa which had been his home for five years of his life, the only part of his life he could remember in detail. He only had brief snippets from his life before and none of them were pleasant. But he was hoping that the destruction would free him. He was crushed when Marcus offered the stones of the villa to the villagers and as the villa was coming down a few complete houses were made of the stones from the villa, but mostly it was used to repair the houses already built.
He followed the wagons, which Marcus was using to transport his slaves, another sign of his kindness. Most slave owners would have made them walk, carrying their meager possessions.
Ten miles from the village, that now had the only homes built of villa stones he could go no further. He watched heart broken as Marcus and Gaius Quintus disappeared from his sight, never to return.
Despite having lived all his life in basically a rural setting, Lucius had always been around people and he found that he was basically a people person. He was unhappy when he was not around other humans, even though they couldn't see him, so he was generally somewhere close to the village. And then he found that as children were born and began to grow up, those children could see and hear him. As they began to tell their parents about him and were spanked and whipped for lying and making up tall-tales, the children began to keep it to themselves. As they grew up, Lucius simply wasn't mentioned if someone who couldn't see him was around.
None of the adults and children of the village, who had already been born when he'd been condemned to the World Between, could see him, nor any strangers. But as the generations passed the people who couldn't see him were strangers, but the custom had become engrained in the fabric of the village. Lucius was rarely talked about unless he happened to be visible and never before strangers.
But they found him very useful, he could tell when danger threatened and give warning of bandits. Though they never considered him as such, he was a good babysitter, since he could watch the watcher. As he began to be able to physically touch the villagers for brief periods, he could rescue children who got into trouble, perhaps while swimming, or getting lost in the forest.
And then the Romans left never to return and the Saxon waves began. The village was not really affected by the Saxon's but they heard unsubstantiated rumors about a man named Artur. And in the various conflicts that occurred between the time Rome left and the Puritan takeover, Lucius saved more lives, primarily by giving warnings.
In the 1600's the village was mainly made up of Royalists and after the Civil War most of the villagers moved from England to the Colony of Maine and became Jennings. A few stayed, but the majority left, taking small pieces from their houses to bury in their new homes foundations.
Soon there were more buildings in Jennings with bits of the villa's stones in their foundations, than remained in the English village and Lucius was suddenly jerked across the Atlantic to the new village.
But life in general went on as it had before, the enemies at the beginning were Indians, then the French and Indians. Then astonishingly to Lucius, Great Britain, who the new United States was actually able to defeat. Then the Indian threat ended and wars between the settlers affected him such as the War of 1812, then the Civil War and occasionally the Indian wars in the far west as some of the villagers moved there.
Then the Spanish-American war, World War I and II and Korea and Vietnam and the Gulf war. He was more useful in the modern wars, because he learned how to set off antipersonnel mines, thus saving several villager's lives in that way.
Lucius, who was now mainly referred to as Luc, by the villagers, was just ambling along on the common when the mini-van, stopped at the old Murrow place. He was absolutely astounded when the driver rolled down his window and called out to him. Startled he simply disappeared.
Then he was intrigued. Strangers never saw him, only those who had ancestors from Jennings could see him, so he ignored the children who had run across the street when Blake Jennings arrived. He heard that the newcomers name was Travers. When they went inside, he followed them into the house and he felt a glow of pleasure when he found out, that the adults were both great-grandchildren of Jake Murrow.
The Murrows had been his favorite family since the late 1600's and he had been sad when Jake had left. The Murrows were the only family who knew his full story. When Jake was a child he had written Luc's story down and hidden it in his secret hiding place. The Murrows had been the wealthiest family in Jennings for centuries.
When World War I had started, Jake's father had realized that the United States would eventually be drawn into the war, so he had gone over the border to Canada and enlisted in the Canadian army. He had been killed in 1915, his wife had frittered away the family fortune . When she also died young in 1920, Jake had been forced to sell the Murrow place, to pay off the remaining debts his mother had accumulated before her death.
Perhaps he suffered from too much pride, because Jake was unable to stay in Jennings once he sold the house. Luc had seen him only once since then, in the late thirties, when he came to the funeral of his maiden Aunt, the last member of the Murrow family left in Jennings. He was evidently still impoverished, because both he and the two young children he had with him were all poorly dressed.
Luc was glad to see the Murrow family back, though with a different name. Those who left seldom returned and this was the first time a descendant of one of the villagers had returned to live.
When he heard that Bert Travers was Paul Tarrant, he was ecstatic. The library was quite large for a village this size, since it served not only Jennings but much of the surrounding area and it had all of Paul Tarrants books and he had read them all, along with most of the other books, fiction and non-fiction that the library provided.
The house had been purchased, sight unseen. Bert's writing had made the family wealthy and they would have refurbished it if necessary. They were pleasantly surprised that it in fact needed little work, even the wiring having been upgraded two years before. The furniture was the original from the time of Jake Murrow's father. Except for a few pieces that had been added since then, they found they didn't have to buy any furniture since what was there suited their tastes just fine. Only the books in the library were not the originals. Many of them had been collector's items and had been sold off over the years and replaced with volumes that were more modern.
Since they rented a fully furnished apartment in New York, they didn't have a lot to move. Items that did have to be moved included Bert's personal library that he had gathered over the years to help him to research his books. Personal family items, plus seven computers that the family owned: a desktop computer for each of the kids and their parents and Bert and Mary Ann each had a laptop.
While primarily a housewife, she also helped Bert with the research and she had co-written half a dozen books with her husband.
A week after they had come to examine the house a small Ryder truck driven by Mary Ann's brother, pulled up in front of the house, followed by the mini-van. They spent the rest of the day, unloading the truck and putting stuff away and setting up the computers. Some of the books in the library were boxed up and put in the basement until they could decide what to do with them and replaced with Bert's research library.
Finally about a week after they arrived Luc decided to introduce himself to the Travers. Well, the parents anyway. He knew that his nudity wouldn't bother them, since by that time he had seen that the parents and the kids all slept naked and the children would come downstairs naked to say goodnight.
Luc waited for the late news to end, before appearing in front of them. They were startled when he showed up blocking their view of the television. He said, “I'm...”
“Luc,” said Bert and Mary Ann in unison. The two adults looked at each other and giggled like schoolchildren. Then when they looked back at Luc, they could see he was confused.
Mary Ann smiled and said, “Don't be surprised, Luc if you spend much time around us, you'll find that we often say things together. We're almost like twins, Bert's only a week older than I am. We grew up next door and except for about a year when he was around ten and didn't like girls, we've been together all our lives and we think much alike.”
Luc's face cleared of confusion. He nodded, saying, “Yes, I'm familiar with the way twins seem to say things at the same time, or finish each other's sentences. Andy and Trish do that all, the time. Though I think they do some of it deliberately, because it seems to drive Lettie crazy.”
Bert said, with a grin, “Yes, they do seem to delight in getting her mad. That red hair is no accident. She goes off like a firecracker.”
Mary Ann continued, saying, “We've heard much about you since we arrived in Jennings, but we've never heard that you go in for casual visiting.”
Luc shook his head, saying, “Well, I never did with any of the other families, except for the Murrows. I think this house contains more of the villa than the rest, I've always been drawn to this house above any of the others.” Luc explained. “I'm glad the Murrows descendants are back. I've always wanted one family to know my entire story. When Jake was about ten he wrote it down for the first time and then hid it. When Jake left, for some reason I never felt like telling any of the others.”
“Your story, Luc?” asked Mary Ann, quietly.
Luc nodded, saying, “Yes, my full story. Most of Jennings knows that I was in the English village that they abandoned when they came here. They just don't know how long I've been around.” he explained. “Come into the library, I'll show you where Jake hid it.”
They got up and he led them into the library. Taking some books off a shelf, he showed them where the catch was and pushed it. A panel in the back of the shelf slid open easily despite the fact that it hadn't been opened for eighty years.
He took out a notebook and handed it to Mary Ann. It was titled 'Luc's Story'. He said, “Don't take the first date literally, it's only approximate. I know Trajan was the Emperor but I don't know the exact date, it could be as much as five or ten years later than that date. I'll be back in a couple of days, when you've had time to read it.” and he disappeared.
Mary Ann and Bert were reading the story together. Experienced researchers they had said nothing. They were accustomed to reading something before discussing it thoroughly.
Mary Ann read the last few lines out loud.
'Luc said that in the last century eight seances were held. While three of the mediums were obvious fakes, the others seemed to have some real power, because they could feel his presence, but Winna never answered their call. I could see his deep sadness. To be trapped for eighteen hundred years, knowing that there was no practical way out. That only the complete destruction of the village in England or now of Jennings could free him.
August 1920. Luc came to give his sympathies to me. He is normally cheerful and funloving, but he was sad for me. I think most people would have gone mad if in his place. I shudder every time I think of Luc's plight.
I have written this down before I must leave this house for the last time. I think I know a way to help Luc. I have only a little money left, I have approached a few of the other citizens of Jennings and discussed getting a loan from them. They think my idea is ridiculous and refuse to lend me the money. They don't believe in the supernatural, when they see a supernatural being in their midst all the time.
I will leave this house and this village and never return, unless someday I am able to raise the money I need. It would be heartbreaking to see Luc and know that I have thought of a possible way to help him and not be able to do so. If I am never able to raise the sum required I will take the idea to my grave, not wishing to pass the sorrow to my descendants.'
“Now that's frustrating,” said Mary Ann, “this was hidden anyway, why couldn't he have written his idea down?”
She looked at Bert and saw a slight smile on his face, the one she called his writer's smile. He was in writer's mode and his way of thinking that made him the best-selling author he was, was in action.
Emmett and his wife Emily and their new son Carson were babysitting the Travers kids. Well Emily was doing the actual babysitting. Emmett tended to dither right at the moment. Blake had kicked him out of the office until he recovered and he had insisted on coming along.
Emily was having a ball with the Travers girls and son Carson, who was not actually part of the babysitting team, was looked at as a fascinating toy to Trish and Lettie. They hadn't seen many babies, not having any close relatives except for their Uncle Ethan, Mary Ann's younger brother who was attending college in New York.
Emily had sent Emmet off to Andy's room to play video games so Andy could keep an eye on him and they had been there most of the afternoon. Luc had shown up at about three and after checking in with Emily, who was an old friend, he had joined Andy and Emmett.
Bert and Mary Ann showed up at seven o'clock, with a colorfully dressed, middle-aged, very large black woman. She was not fat, she just happened to be close to six feet four inches in height.
Lettie launched herself at the large women to be swept up in enormous arms, while Trish ran over to the stairs and gave a yell up the stairs, “Andy, Mum and Dad brought Mara here.”
Andy came pounding down the stairs, Emmett following more slowly and Luc stopped at the landing halfway down the stairs. After an enthusiastic greeting for the Travers kids, Mara looked up the stairs and beckoned with her hand, “You too, child.” she said to Luc. With astonishment, Luc realized that she could see him. Since there were few blacks in the area and all of them were newcomers, none of them could see him. To Luc newcomer meant anyone who hadn't been born in the village.
He timidly came down the stairs and as he approached her, he could feel the power that she radiated, much more powerful than he had ever felt before. Bert says, “I guess that proves you're a real medium, Mara. I've always thought so, but this finally proves it.”
Luc looked at him indignantly, saying hotly, “I showed you the book, it tells that there were several attempts in the nineteenth century, to have a medium contact Winna.” His face was going red with anger. He was about to disappear, when Mary Ann said urgently, “Don't go, Luc, Jake figured out something, while he didn't say what it was he wrote about an idea he had just before he left Jennings and Bert figured out what it was.”
Luc, his anger beginning to leave his face. “What's the idea?” he asked.
Bert answered, “You were going about it the right way, with a seance, but you were asking for the wrong person.”
Emily entranced, asked, “What do you mean?” Luc looked at her for a moment before turning his attention back to Bert.
“Luc, the mediums were asking for Winna, they should have been asking for your friend Lucius Gaius Quintus.” he said, forcefully. Luc looked at him with astonishment. “Is the curse as written in Jake's book accurate?”
Luc looked at him and said a little faintly “Every word. It's exactly as it was used by Winna. I’ve forgotten many other things but that’s burned into my brain so deeply that I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.”
Bert nodded, saying, “All right, that's why Mara is here. She's the best medium in New York City. Maybe the best period. We will summon Lucius Gaius Quintus and ask him to contact Winna for us. I think it will work, but I can't guarantee it. Will you attend another and hopefully the last seance, needed to help you?” he asked gravely.
It was almost twelve o'clock. Mara said that while the time didn't matter, people believed that twelve midnight was the most powerful hour to hold a seance and belief was the most important part of a successful one. Emmett had taken Carson to his parents so they could look after him for the night and returned.
The Travers children had been put to bed and, with the help of Mara, had fallen asleep immediately. They had been awakened at eleven-thirty and were wide awake. With them and not including Mara, who would be holding the seance, or Luc who could not make up part of the circle, that made seven, which Mara declared the optimal number.
Just before the grandfather clock in the corner began to signal the midnight hour, Mara lit the single large incense scented candle in front of her, the lights were turned off and they joined hands. As the clock actually began to strike the hour, Mara said simply, “Lucius Gaius Quintus, we summon you to help your friend.”
The clock struck for the twelfth time, then there was a pause and it struck again, much quieter and it continued to ring, as a small light appeared close to the table and then began to grow, until it was as tall and as wide as a small boy, who began to appear though the light. He never became fully solid, but was definitely there, the nine year old boy that Luc could remember, in a short tunic. Luc was happy to see him but disquieted at the same time. Not even realizing it he spoke in Latin, “Gaius, you didn't die a boy.”
Gaius smiled at him. Replying in Latin, “It would be polite if we used English. We are the only ones who speak Latin.” Directing his next words to the others Gaius said, “Lucius was worried that because I appeared in this form that I died as a boy. I want to assure him that I died as a very old man, of just over ninety years, surrounded by loving children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
Gaius explained, “I appear in this form because this is the form that he remembered me in and while he is not part of the circle, still those from this side took from him the image that he was most familiar with.”
“While time has been stilled it may not be stilled for long. I must say goodbye to you Lucius. Marcus also sends you his love. We will be waiting for you when you come to this side.” Gaius said.
Clearly he said in a treble voice, “Winna, it is time to replace me!” As he faded he gave a last wave to Luc and the boy just had time to wave back before Gaius was gone. The light expanded a little and a woman began to appear. Unlike Gaius, she did not look as she had done when he had last seen her, perhaps because he hadn't been close to her.
She looked much younger, perhaps in her late twenties and the garment she wore was reminiscent of a pure white Indian sari. She gave a deep bow to Lucius, “Greetings little one. I know that it will not happen now, but someday I hope you can forgive me, for what I put you through. My only excuse is that when I placed the curse on you, I was not sane.”
She sighed, saying, “When I came to this side and regained my sanity and found out what my sons had actually done, I realized how wrong I had been, to punish anyone for their deaths. And not only did I punish someone, but also I punished one who wasn't even involved.
She said remorsefully, “It would have been equally wrong to punish Gaius for what had been done to him, but he at least could have summoned me, for the curse named him specifically. To you it was a double edged sword, I cursed you and you could not summon me for I gave that ability to Gaius and by using his name, I could not answer a summons from anyone else. We have both been hoping that someone would figure out this way, the only way that would work and our prayers were finally answered.”
“Unfortunately for good or ill, your time in the World Between has shaped you, as you are and what you will become, so the memories cannot be taken from you. You will have to live with them. I hope happiness will find you. Goodbye little one.”
She said several unintelligible words and made the sign of the cross and there was two flashes, as she disappeared and as Luc passed from the World Between to the real world and then the clock stopped sounding.
Despite what Winna had said, much of the ancient memories were largely blurred for several years after Luc's return to the real world. His mind had acted to protect him. While memories of Jennings and its history were available, the rest of his memories did not begin to return until he was ready to handle them, which was in his middle to late teens.
Meanwhile, he was happy, he fit right into the Travers family and adding their name to his felt right when the adoption was finalized. For some reason the people of Jennings failed to recognize him and were astonished with his knowledge of the Jennings village both today and yesterday. Perhaps he had been given a final gift from Gaius and Marcus. Only those who had been at the seance remembered Luc rather than Luc Travers.
--The word Roamin in the title is not spelled wrong. I have just dropped the g to make it similar to Roman, since the story began in Roman Britain, though the first part of the story is set in modern day.
--On a program dealing with the destruction of Herculaneum and Pompeii, which occurred in 69 AD, they showed a wall which had had a wooden cross pressed into it, only the imprint left. They said that if it was a Christian symbol, that it would one of the first views of the cross being used in such a way. That leaves me to believe that they don't know exactly the date when the cross became a major symbol. A portion of the story, is set in about 102 AD. I've made the assumption that the cross had by this time become the important symbol of Christianity that we know today.