Maisie told me, “It's about five hundred miles away from Sydney. It's a community, that's well over one hundred and fifty years old and they've always gotten along well with the aborigines. All of a sudden the newly initiated Magic Man can see that they are different and he's not sure that they should stay. It's near a sacred site to them and the government could very well try to make them move. It could drag out for years.”
She explained, “With over seventy-five werewolves in the community they should have an Elder to deal with the aborigines but for some reason they don't. We certainly don't intend to send five additional werewolves into the community at this time to find an Elder and initiate him. That could tip the balance against them. With your Healing ability you're the only Elder who can go into the community and initiate an interim Elder if one is needed and see what the dispute is all about.” She grinned, “and despite your power you don't look very threatening.” Maisie ended.
Robby shook his head, saying seriously, “No Maisie, the Council has been misinformed about one aspect at least. Shamanistic magic doesn't work in that way, whether it's in the US, Africa, or Australia, or anywhere else. New abilities don't just suddenly appear. If the new Magic Man can see us, their Magic Men, once initiated, could always see us and ignored us. That aspect comes under Healer's History, which not even the Council has access to. Inform an Elder Historian that I give him permission to talk about this aspect of a Healer.”
Robby told her, his big green eyes solemn, “I've got to find out why they've changed their minds about something they've always known about. I'm going to have to go alone. You don't want to add five additional werewolves, I don't want to add even two, because the new Magic Man will be able to feel my power and know I am something unusual. Please have one of the werewolves meet me in Sydney”
We had been told to expect an Elder and we had also been told that he would be somewhat unusual and that he was coming all the way from the US. That had annoyed a lot of people. They figured an Aussie Elder was good enough. Me, I was just curious. Well they hadn't told me what he looked like or anything else about him, so he would have to find me.
“Art Carvel?” I heard a treble voice from behind me. I turned around slowly and looked down at a small boy. I wasn't even surprised. I had met a few Elders in my time, but this one just radiated power. Or he did for a few seconds and then it was just gone. I realized that he had allowed me to see some of what he was so that I wouldn't doubt that he was an Elder.
He said with a smile, “Mostly it doesn't matter if others of my kind know what type of power I have, but it's important for you as one of the leader's of your community to realize what I am, because the Council has asked me to initiate an interim Elder if necessary.” His smile widened to a grin, “And that's why I was chosen and not one of your countrymen. I'm a Healer as well as an Elder and I'm the only person who can single-handedly initiate an Elder.”
This was the first time I'd been in what I considered a small plane. I didn't really think Sam Reynold's Lear qualified, though it wasn't much bigger than this two-engine prop job. I asked, “You say this Charlie Davis is your age, Art?”
He nodded in agreement, saying, “We went to school together. Our birthdays are only a couple of days apart. We'll be thirty-five on our next birthday.”
“Usually Shamen or Magic Men are chosen when they're much younger.” I mused out loud, “Their normal Magic Men are away aren't they?” I said abruptly.
Art turned and stared at me, asking, “How did you know that? Two of them went on some kind of quest a month ago and the third was stomped by a horse three weeks ago. He's been in the hospital since then.”
I explained, “I read the dossier that the Elders put together. It says that when a Magic Man is chosen he sleeps for one or two days on their sacred lands. Except for some ceremonial occasions when all aboriginal people are allowed on the sacred lands, the only other time that they enter the land is when they are summoned by the spirits.”
I paused for a second, before continuing, “It normally requires a Magic Man to initiate a Magic Man, but if the spirits require one then they will summon someone and they will do the initiation. This Charlie Davis was initiated by the spirits and they did it to protect the sacred lands from intruders. Charlie wouldn't be after our people Art, unless one or more are trespassing on aboriginal lands. Their spirits can't just reach out and punish anyone they want. They can only punish their own people. So since they can't punish us and probably can't even identify those who are trespassing, they want us all to leave.”
He started to protest and I shrugged my shoulders, telling him, “Art, I am the closest thing to a Shaman that werewolves now have. At one time, that's exactly what Healers were. As werewolves, like the rest of society began to accept Christianity, our role began to change. Most of us certainly weren't suited to be priests and we had the Healing ability that was a part of a Shaman so we became Healers.”
I expolained, “For some werewolves who never accepted Christianity we retained the role of Shaman, up to the time that Healers disappeared a century ago. We've always been spiritual advisors, even to those who were Christians, along with regular Elders. After all, most of us could hardly go to a priest or minister, could we, when so often our important affairs revolved around being a werewolf. While there are werewolf priests and ministers of all types, not all communities have them.”
I said emphatically, “Therefore we are very close to Shamen and Magic Men!! As I told the Council representative, a new ability to suddenly see us doesn't just happen. Shamanistic magic takes generations to make such a change. The tribal Magic Men have always been able to see us, they wouldn't turn on us now, even a new one, without good reason. Can you think of any other good reason?” I asked him.
Slowly Art shook his head, saying, “If you're right about them always being able to see us, then you must be right about the rest.”
“This is just speculation at the moment, but informed speculation.” I told him.
It was after supper and the kids were making their usual racket, when Art showed up. I'd heard they were expecting a representative of their people. I was determined to keep up the pressure that the spirits had asked me to put on them. I knew the spirits were unrealistic to expect them to leave and I was sure they knew it. Right now that was their apparent goal and as their servant I would try to fulfill it if I could.
But when I saw their representative, I was thrown and I saw the twinkle of good humor in his big green eyes, as he took in my reaction. He was no bigger than my youngest who was eleven. He said, “I get that response all the time.” and he giggled. An infectious giggle and despite my determination, I couldn't help but like him on sight.
I motioned them to a seat and I got up and poured Art a cup of coffee, black and as strong as I could make it, just the way he liked it. I got a Coke out for the boy and when I gave it to him I looked deep into his eyes. I knew that he might be a child but at the same time, he was far, far more. He had old eyes, with wisdom I had never seen before, not even in the eyes of our chief Magic Man.
He began speaking, rolling the unopened Coke between his two small hands. “You know our people are different and you've always known it. Maybe someone has put a name to us and maybe not. As a direct representative of our Council, I am here to resolve this dispute between your people and mine. That I think requires dealing with the spirits who are guardians of your sacred land.”
He told me, “I think that after the Magic Man who was left here by the others was injured, some of our people have begun intruding on your sacred lands. In order to try to stop this intrusion, they summoned you and made you a Magic Man. But you are only one man and from what I understand the area of the sacred lands is a large one. You have been unable to stop the intrusion, so the spirits had you make the demand that we all leave.”
He paused before saying, “We are Shape-shifters, werewolves and as a generic term since there are other types of Shape-shifters, we are just called weres. I am unique in that as well as being an Elder, I am a Healer and I have an added ability. Weres use mind-speech between them when they are in their animal form. As an Elder, I can talk to any were whether they are in were form or in human form and as I said, I have another ability. As far as we know I am the only were who can also talk to human beings, using mind speech.”
*Now that's a hard thing to believe unless you have proof, so I am providing it to you and allowing Art to listen in.* he said in mind-speech, with a twinkle in his big green eyes. I could see Art was looking astonished, it obviously went beyond the concepts with which he was familiar. As a Magic Man it wasn't beyond mine, so I took it with much less surprise.
Robby said, “Your spirits could not locate the intruders and if they did, they couldn't punish them. Through your mind, connected to my mind, you can now do exactly that. I think that's all the spirits really want, isn't it.”
I nodded and I felt content. Through this little boy sitting in front of me, who was much more than a little boy, I could now fulfill the task the spirits had assigned to me.
“How many intruders are there?” he asked me.
I told him, “Three, two are to be punished if possible, one is too young to know that what he is doing is wrong. We will simply instruct him that what he and the others have been doing is wrong. When he's old enough the Dream will be there to remind him. What will you consider acceptable as punishment?” I asked.
Robby’s green eyes went very cold, as he told me, “That is for you and your spirits to decide, if they decide death is warranted, so be it. These two deliberately disturbed peaceful relations, which have existed for over one hundred and fifty years. In effect, they started a war and if you leave them alive I will be handing out additional punishment. They will be banished for the rest of their lives. If they have children, those children shall be removed from their care. If they are young enough to still have children, I will take their ability to breed from them.”
He dismissed them from his mind and his eyes warmed up, as he explained, “I have the ability if necessary to create an interim Elder. That isn't going to be necessary. A couple of weeks after we get this settled, five Elders will be coming to this community to choose an Elder and never again will it be allowed to go without one.
There were about eighty werewolves in the small school auditorium. There were only two who were too old to sit on the floor and one Magic Man. Charlie was wearing normal clothes, the only thing out of the ordinary was that his face was painted. The paints had been made from plants gathered in the sacred lands and they were enough to firmly connect him with the spirits. I had already made a connection to his mind so the spirits could flow through his mind into mine.
I looked at Art and he nodded. Everyone was here. I stood looking over them for a few minutes and then I began to speak, “Some of you are annoyed that I'm here rather than an Aussie Elder. Well I was chosen for two reasons aside from being an Elder. One I'm a Healer, so if it had been necessary I could have initiated a interim Elder alone. Two, I can communicate with humans just as if they were were. Right now I have a channel open to Charlie and through him in a few minutes his people's spirits are going to be coming into me. They're going to search for the two intruders who have been trespassing on aboriginal sacred land.”
I said coldly, “Two intruders and the child they brought with them. They intend to punish the intruders. They will instruct the child, so that when he has reached the appropriate age he will know that what he has been doing is wrong. Those three will be shown a little of the aborigine Dreamtime. For the child it will be entirely pleasant. For the others, I imagine it will be a horrible experience, possibly fatal.” I shrugged my shoulders. “If there's anything left I intend to deal with them just as harshly. These two people came close to destroying a relationship which has evolved peacefully over a period of more than one hundred and fifty years.”
I told them gravely, “If I wasn't available and my ability is unique, then there would be no way for the spirits to find and punish the intruders. They simply wouldn't have been satisfied if you had discovered and punished them. So instead of being close friends,” and I held up my closed fist and then opened it with fingers spread wide, “you would have people with animosity between you. Such animosity can drive even those who love a place to eventually leave it, because the atmosphere is so poisonous that it affects how you live the rest of your lives.”
“I invite the spirits into my mind.” and as I said it, it happened. My mind was casting wide, the fear would be on the surface of the minds so it would be easy to find. Or so I had thought, in fact they found the child first, Jackie Paget. As he entered the Dreamtime I saw the joy come over his small face. I directed my mind at those I knew were his aunt and uncle. Paula and Les Paget They were the intruders and as the spirits forced them into the Dreamtime, the look on their faces was much different from Jackie's. Sheer terror suffused their faces, but I felt no pity for them. Their presence in the Dreamtime would be nightmarish, unless they had weak hearts they would survive, but they would be forever diminished.
After a time the spirits withdrew from their minds and mine and Charlie nodded as he turned and left. The Paget's faces were pasty white, while there was a look of joy on Jackie's face.
They would never completely recover from what they had gone through but I gave them a few minutes to collect their thoughts, at least a little. I said forcefully, “Paula and Les Paget!” Their eyes jerked to my face.
I told them harshly, “You are banished from the community, do not return. You will be allowed to keep the opals you found on the aborigine's land. The spirits consider that they are now profane and do not want them back. You will be unable to tell anyone where you found them, so do not think you can go somewhere and make a deal to have someone sneak back to find more of them. You are Jackie's closest relatives, but there are many others only one remove from you. He will be taken from your custody. The decision on who will raise him is properly that of your own Elder and you will have one within a couple of weeks, so the new Elder will decide who will raise him.” From the way he was clinging to one particular couple, I grinned. “Though from the looks of things, that decision has already been made.”
The others who were observing the same fact gave a laugh. Obviously there was nobody who cared to argue about the punishment that I had handed out to the Pagets nor what they had already received from the spirits. They were no longer a part of the community. I wouldn't have to remove the ability to breed. By their auras, neither could do so anyway.
I hadn't been here long enough to make any friends and the Paget's were the type of people I preferred as enemies. But Charlie showed up to say goodbye.
It was strange I'd only known the kid for a few hours, yet I felt sad as his plane disappeared in the distance.
“I hate sight seeing,” I said grumpily to my driver, David Hume.
He was careful to hide his grin, before he answered me. “It is the Easter weekend, Robby. Late tomorrow night is the soonest that we could get you a flight without pulling some strings. Since there's no urgency I'm afraid you're out of luck.”
“Oh go get another ice cream. I'll whistle if I need you.” I told him. I shouldn't be angry with him, it wasn't his fault, he was just my driver but then again he was the only one within reach.
'That was really dumb Gene, you pick a bunch of skinheads and then get caught.' I looked wildly, in back of me, they were getting closer. They were in just as good shape as I was. I needed to find help, before I ran out of people and found myself in an area where I was alone. Suddenly my eyes were caught by a kid sitting at a table outside the ice cream shop. He snapped into focus as I realized that he was a werewolf. I didn't even think of the fact that he was only about three or four years older than I was. He would protect me.
I recognized him the moment I saw him heading in my direction, being chased by four skinheads. He was only eight years old and he was a Gypsy and I knew who he was, though he was going to be really surprised by that fact.
I stood up and he skidded around me and hid in back of me. The skinheads stopped one of them demanding. “That kid stole my wallet, I want it back and maybe a little piece of him with it.”
I held out my hand, saying, “The wallet, Eugene.” I heard him gasp in surprise and then the leather of a wallet was placed in my hand. I tossed it to the skinhead. He checked it and gave a grunt, indicating that nothing was missing. I was quite content to leave it there, but once he put it back in his pocket he and his mates headed for us. Now being a werewolf I could have hurt them somewhat, even though they were double my size, but I wasn't stupid enough even to try.
I put two fingers in my mouth and whistled. David appeared in the ice cream shop door behind me, ice cream cone in his hand. “You need me, boss?” he asked pleasantly. The four skinheads stopped abruptly. Very wise of them. David Hume wasn't the biggest werewolf I had ever known, but at seven feet and three hundred pounds, he was damn close.
The leader said, “We know the kid, we'll just get him sometime later.”
I told him with some amusement, “Oh, I doubt it. Not unless you want to come to the United States to get him. Just leave, please, before you do something stupid.” He started to say something more, but changed his mind. They turned and stalked away. Absently, I slapped Eugene's hand as he was reaching for my wallet.
“Oww! That hurt!” he whined, putting sore fingers in his mouth.
“Sit, Eugene!” I pointed at the table and he did as he was told. “David, I'd like you to meet Eugene Amree. He should be a few thousand miles from here. In Prescott in fact. He and his Uncle disappeared about six months ago and we couldn't find them. Unusual. Then again, we weren't looking quite this far away. Let's see. Andrea Gallo, who's the niece of Edward Franco, is his first cousin and Frank Amree, his Uncle is also Andrea's Uncle. His friends call him Gene. Right now I don't want to be his friend, so I'll call him Eugene.”
I told him, “Now Eugene, my name is Robby Hansen.” His dark eyes widened with apprehension. “Ah, I see you've heard of me. Well, since you tried to pick my pocket in the midst of being rescued from a similar endeavor, I have a feeling that you can't be trusted. So I'm going to do something about that.” I reached into his mind and ignoring the turmoil, I made an alteration.
I withdrew from his mind and told him, “Now, Eugene, I've made a little adjustment to your mind. From now on whenever you reach into a pocket which isn't your own, your fingers will feel like a mousetrap has just closed on them. Quite painful though physically completely harmless. This adjustment will last until I remove it or until you're fourteen, whichever comes first.” He looked at me reproachfully, which didn't affect me in the slightest
He reminded me of the Cyrus Amree I used to know, not the reformed Cyrus. Since he was only eight, I felt free to use my ability to affect his mind, to disrupt his criminal tendencies, that I wouldn't use on someone older.
I asked him, “What was the name of the passport that you and your Uncle used to get here, Eugene?” He was sullen and uncooperative, not that he liked his Uncle as I found out, but he had a problem with authority figures. Of course, when I asked the question the answer popped to the surface of his mind. I said, “Frank Travis, does that name ring any bells, David.”
“Oh, yes.” David said darkly. “He runs a gang of young pickpockets and he uses brutality to keep them in check. Not a very nice man at all.”
a nod, saying, “Ah yes, that's why young Eugene was so desperate that
he chanced picking the pocket of that skinhead. Apparently, his Uncle
treats him just as brutally as the rest of the children. If Eugene hadn't
shown up with something, he would have been beaten severely. I think
I dislike Frank Amree very much. Oh by the way, Eugene I haven't introduced
my companion. Meet Detective Sergeant David Hume of the Sydney Police
Department CID.” Eugene's eyes went very wide at that.
The building in which Frank Amree alias Frank Travis had his digs wasn't very nice at all. It was on the fifth floor, no elevator and the stairs were steep. Actually quite ideal for what I had in mind. I reached into Frank Amree's mind and planted a big dose of panic. Giving no thought for the children, he ran out of the flat heading for the stairs.
He tripped on the top step when I locked his right leg on him. You'd think the man could do something right. He rolled down five flights of stairs and ended up with a couple of broken legs and a fractured skull. It was very disappointing, I'd really been hoping that he'd break his neck.
police arrived just after that. Since Frank showing his stupidity yet
again had chosen a place with only two exits, the police managed to
round up all of the children in his little gang. Hopefully they weren't
quite as incorrigible as Eugene.
With the help of a couple of Australian Members of Parliament, a faxed birth certificate and other records from Len in Benson and the US Embassy we managed to get Eugene on a flight with me, for the day after it had originally been booked.
With Eugene sleeping beside me, I made a phone call to Edward Franco in Prescott. “Hello, Edward.” I said cheerfully.
He answered me warily, “To what do I owe this honor, young Master Hansen.”
“Oh, I just wanted to tell you I'm bringing you a large present from Australia.” I told him.
“Just what exactly is this present?” asked Edward.
I explained, “Well he's a little small for his age. He's eight years old and he's just about four feet even and weighs fifty pounds and like most of the male Amree's seems totally incorrigible. Actually, you were saying that your mother was finding time hanging heavy on her hands. What do you think her reaction to taking in a small relative would be?”
“You found Frank and Eugene Amree in Australia.” he said matter of factly.
“I did,” I told him.
“I think Mother will be delighted.” said Edward. “What happened to that bastard, Frank.”
I was still feeling somewhat aggrieved, as I said with annoyance, “He fell down five flights of stairs. You would think after all of that he would have broken his neck. Instead he just broke his legs and had a fractured skull, so unfortunately he's going to recover, though it'll take a few months.”
Edward began laughing then, so I just hung up on him.