Jeannie and Len decided to get married yesterday by Judge Hanley. There were only four of us in the wedding party. Paul was there on Jeannie's side, representing Jeannie Reynolds and I was there on Len's representing everybody else. Other than us there were only the witnesses. They took the Lear and headed for somewhere, but they wouldn't say where.
Of course they know that won't be the only marriage, Mom's already planning a wedding, to be held in Seamus Riley's field. She and Alameda have been talking back and forth and I imagine that it's going to be huge.
It was almost six and having woken up a few minutes early, I was lying on my back in my bed staring at the ceiling. Blue was lying beside me snoring, when I felt power begin to rise around me. It was a power I recognized. The Elven Council.
I heard in mind-speech, *Hello, little one, we have two things we wish to ask of you. You said to Mossen you would help if they asked for it. Apparently they have discovered a way to block off the points that allowed Morain to enslave them, but it takes them about three or four hours on each to do it. They would be doing nothing else for the rest of their lives if they used that method. There are about a thousand dire werewolves all told and another nine thousand ordinary werewolves. It seems that their power limits them and they cannot find any other way of doing it. They ask if you will come and see if you can devise a way that won't take as long. Also the Ceremony is coming up tomorrow and we ask you to attend it, since it will be extra joyful this year now that we no longer have Morain to worry about. It is to celebrate our arrival on this world and all of the leaders will be there.*
I told them, with excitement in my mind-voice, *I certainly will come, but there are others I wish to bring with me. I have an apprentice now, he also is a Healer, though a very new one and he is my foster brother. He won't be coming as a Healer simply as one of my brothers who I wish to bring. They always see me go off to adventures and they never have the opportunity to join me, also my Father and my new assistant Talbot. Also, there are two familiars. I will put blocks on their minds but they might need protection against powerful magical or physical attacks. Can you provide that?*
The Councilor said soberly, *Yes little Elder we can provide protection for those you mentioned. Both Mossen and his people and the Faerie tribe that you helped get home are in approximately the same area in which you live on our world. The Faerie tribe have the power that they had when on your world and it appears that the additional magic they gained when coming to our world has made them some of the most powerful magic users on our world. They will be delighted to provide protection to give you a little thanks for your help.* He paused, then asked, *You do not feel you need protection, Robby?*
I giggled, asking, *What do you think?* I heard a little humor in his mind when he answered, *No, little Elder, anyone who could destroy Morain's blocks needs no protection on our world. But there may be some who will test you.*
I said seriously, *I get the impression that is the way your world works, to a certain extent, the way you establish your social standing. The various Council's and especially the Elven Council are there to make sure that violence doesn't erupt.*
He told me, *Not exactly, we do not frown on violence, as long as it is violence between individuals of equal abilities. If an individual challenges someone who turns out to be far beyond his own abilities, we generally don't interfere, even if the encounter is fatal. What we regulate is violence between races, also we control access to social standing, excluding certain individuals who try to attain it, because they have evil tendencies. Not that we can exclude all of them, for some are very good at hiding what they are.*
The Councilor paused for a moment, before saying, *The Ceremony is on the island that is equivalent to your England and our capital to your London. The capital area is warmed by magic and it will be equivalent to where you live now. Wear what you would normally wear. We have been watching you and we notice that generally you wear what you call shorts and a T shirt. They will be exotic enough on our world that you need no formal garb. Only if you were going outside the capital would you need warmer garb. Will you be bringing anyone to the Ceremony?*
I told them with a bit of a giggle in my mind-voice, *Talbot would probably put me over his knee and give me a good spanking if I tried to leave him behind, so I will be bringing him and of course my familiar. I will put blocks on Tal's mind, so that he cannot be harmed mentally. I doubt if there is anyone on your world except for a giant or a dire werewolf, who can beat Tal in hand to hand combat and I intend for him to take a fighting staff and a knife.*
The Councilor told me, *We have no doubt that anyone chosen to be your assistant and we assume bodyguard, that if adequately protected mentally, will be able to handle any warriors that our world can throw at him. The werewolves are generally represented by their Council leader and he is an ordinary werewolf at the present time and giants seldom visit us even for festive occasions. They will celebrate on their own. We will be back at nine and transport you. There are six hours difference in time between where you will be going and the capital, so we will contact you at about one their time tomorrow to transport you here.*
He said with amusement in his voice, *By the way, little Elder, it is not necessary to bring any clothing for the younger boys unless you wish to do so. Neither dire werewolf or ordinary werewolf children wear clothing until they are around twelve, though as guests it won't be considered amiss if they are clothed. The children your age wear brief loincloths, unfortunately for you, because we know from past visits that nudity would not bother you either, those of your status must wear some clothing. A pair of shorts and a T shirt will be needed when you first arrive, but you can discard the T shirt after the greeting is over. Goodbye until later in the morning, little one.* I thought with humor that Barry would be ecstatic, he loved being naked and neither Aaron or Teddy would care one way or the other.
My alarm started to buzz and I turned it off. I leaned over and blew in Blue's ear. It flicked a little and I blew a little harder. It didn't take much to wake him up and he directed a comment to me, *If you do that again, we'll see how you'd like getting a scratched nose.*
I began petting him and he belied his apparent bad mood at being awakened by stretching and beginning to purr. I told him, “No run this morning, we're going on the longest journey I've ever made, yet it will take the shortest time.”
I could feel the excitement bubble up in his mind and he came to a sitting position, asking, *We're going into the other world, aren't we?*
I told him, “Yes and we won't be going alone, Paul, Tal, Sandy and the boys will probably be coming with us.”
I rolled off the bed and got to my feet and went over to the L-shaped bunk beds that had replaced the double bunk beds. Aaron's bunk in height was halfway between Barry and Teddy's. After the first couple of days when he had worn a pair of Teddy's pajamas he'd firmly told Mom that he preferred to sleep naked. I swatted him on his bare bottom, the sheet having worked it's way down to his feet. He opened his green eyes and gave me a smile. I told him, “Up you get, there's going to be a family meeting. You wake up Barry and between the two of you, you might be able to get Teddy up.”
He yawned and nodded, pushing himself to a sitting position. Barry also slept naked now, but Teddy preferred to wear a pair of short pajama bottoms and I preferred underpants. It's not that we objected to sleeping naked, it's just we felt more comfortable the way we were.
Padding out my door, I knocked on the door of the spare bedroom where Tal was staying for the moment. When Len and Jeannie got back, Len's room would become his. He opened the door in running shorts and a T shirt. When he saw I was still in my underpants, he raised his eyebrows.
I said, “No run this morning, we're going on a journey, so we'll be holding a family meeting first thing. Shorts and a T shirt will be fine for the trip. Take your Bowie knife and a fighting staff.” The Bowie knife had a composite blade rather than steel, so it would be safe to take. I considered for a minute and then told him, “No firearms but take your crossbow as well, that's the level of society that we'll be going to.”
Tal looked at me, interest in his gray eyes. He asked, “It doesn't sound like anywhere on our world?”
I grinned at him, “It isn't.” and I left it there, just to see if it would drive him crazy. From the calm look in his eyes, I doubted it.
Paul and I had been awake for some time, just talking. Someone knocked on the door. A month ago I could have said come in Robby. Now with Teddy who sometimes knocked and the arrival of Aaron, who always knocked, I could no longer be sure who it was, except that I knew it wouldn't be Barry.
I said, “Come in.” and Robby entered. He was still in his underpants and I looked at the clock and it was after six, so obviously the run was off for some reason.
He explained, “I just received an invitation from the Elven Council. When I was in Scotland, Mossen the dire werewolf asked me if I would help them if they needed it. I agreed. So the Elven Council contacted me and said they would transport me. Tal of course will be going.” and then he looked at Paul and he had a twinkle in his big green eyes as he said, “I also asked if I could bring the boys and Paul as well. Unfortunately you're not invited Mom.” and he sobered, saying, “You've had the opportunity to be involved in a few of my little adventures and Paul has been involved in a couple, but the boys have only been involved a few times and only on the periphery. This time they'll be right in the middle. Despite the fact that this part of it is probably one of the safest things that I have ever done and the Elves will be providing protection, still there's always a possibility of accidents, so Paul should be along to supervise them.”
I asked in mind-speech, *Do you really think that there is any danger?*
Robby assured me, *No, I don't, if there was any probability of danger I wouldn't bring anyone except Blue and Tal. However as I said accidents can always happen, but that's as true in this world as in the other.*
Robby said more soberly, “I've also been invited to a Ceremony, with a capital C, which will be held tomorrow and all of the important leaders will be there. I will take Tal and Blue with me, but no one else. There is a very real possibility of something happening there, but I won't hurt anyone unless I'm forced to.” There was complete assurance in his voice. Not overconfidence. He had told me about the Elven Council and they were the most powerful people on the other world. He had told me, that none of them singly would be any danger to him. If they weren't any danger then no other in their world would pose a danger either. I accepted that, Robby had only underestimated someone once and he wouldn't do so again.
“We need Paul, but you can go back to sleep if you want.” Robby told me with a smile.
Mom had taken my suggestion and it was just us four boys and the two men plus Sandy and Blue. Barry and Aaron had slipped on shorts. They had decided between them that it wouldn't be good manners to come downstairs naked, though underpants were acceptable and that's what I was wearing and Teddy was still in his pajama bottoms. Paul had slipped into a pair of shorts and I could see the excitement in his eyes. This would be the first time I had ever taken him anywhere with me, though he had been involved in a couple of incidents which had happened at home.
We sat around the dining room table, for the family meeting. It wasn't a formal thing, we only held them occasionally, unlike some families where it was a regular event. I told them seriously, “When I was in Scotland I suggested something to the dire werewolf Elder. He said that he would pass it on to his Council but asked if they ran into problems, if they could call on my help. I agreed. The Elven Council asked me this morning for them if I could come. I've also been invited to a Ceremony at the Elven Capital tomorrow.”
I explained, “They'll be returning at nine to transport us. The first thing I will do is open a channel which is very different from what we usually use. It's at the primal level and when you are in werewolf form, you can use it directly. When you are in human form, it will go through Sandy or Blue or I so you don't have to learn a new language in order to speak to them. We will simply be conduits so we won't even be aware of this communication.”
This was fairly simple, Sandy, Blue and I already had the channels in our minds, I just had to extend them so that the others could all use them. It only took about five minutes.
“The next thing I intend to do is put blocks around your minds that will protect them from mental attacks.” I told them before I closed my eyes and gathered them all in including the cats and Mom and Grace and began to build the shields. They were basically identical to the block the Elven Council had originally given me, though that had been modified many times. It would protect their minds but allow them the normal mind-speech of our kind, plus the linkage that the familiars had with Aaron and I. Also I had to make a little adjustment so that he could use his Healing abilities.
It meant that even Elders or Healers, unless they were very powerful, couldn't hurt them or control them, though Elders and Healers would be able to read their minds. The blocks were the type I normally use and they would be invisible to anyone but me.
It took about twenty minutes and when I opened my eyes, I examined them closely and saw with satisfaction that even to me they were barely visible. I launched a very minor probe at Tal and watched as it was absorbed by the shield.
I said with satisfaction, “All right your minds are protected now. As for serious magical or physical attacks, the Elven Council has arranged protection for you. Most of the werewolves that we will meet are identical to us, so I intend to place parameters on the physical danger. If you get into fights, as long as it is fairly equal your guardians will stay out of it.” I looked around at everybody and I saw no disagreement with that.
I told them, “Weapons, Paul and Tal should wear their Bowie knives, but that should all you need Paul. Tal you're going with me to a Ceremony tomorrow night, so that's why I suggested the fighting staff and the crossbow. The Ceremony celebrates the arrival on that world, I know the Chief Elder of the Werewolf Council will be at the same Ceremony, so I assume that the werewolves will also celebrate at home.”
“Clothing,” I looked at the boys and grinned, telling them, “The kids up to about twelve wear what Aaron and Barry wear to bed.”
Teddy protested, “They don't wear nothing.”
I told him with amusement, “That's what they wear, nothing.” I saw Barry's eyes light up. “You don't have to go naked if you don't want to, as guests your wearing clothing will be quite acceptable.” The boys looked at each other and they came to a silent consensus.
Aaron spoke for all three of them. “We don't mind going naked. It would feel odd with all their kids being bare and us wearing clothes.”
I nodded, saying, “Fair enough, but you should wear sandals, I don't imagine their kids do but they're used to it. Unfortunately, my age and my status means that I have to wear clothes. But shorts and a T shirt will be fine.” I looked at the men, “Shorts and T shirts will be fine for you as well. As the Elven Councilors said, they are exotic enough on their world that they can pass for formal wear. When Tal, Blue and I go to the Ceremony tomorrow night, they told me that though it is in the same location that London is on our world, they keep it warm with magic so we won't need anything heavier there either.”
I figured our room was just as good as anywhere else in the house. The younger boys were naked, except for sandals and I was wearing a brief pair of blue shorts and a white T shirt. I had a pair of jean shorts I had gotten in September and a New Orleans Saints T shirt that I'd wear tomorrow at the Ceremony, in a backpack. I hadn't bothered with socks or underwear and like the younger kids, I was wearing sandals.
Tal and Paul were both wearing khaki shorts and white T shirts and were carrying their composite bladed Bowie knives. They had a carryall with their other stuff, shaving gear, change of clothes and stuff like that. Tal had a Washington Redskins jersey that he'd wear to the Ceremony tomorrow. He was carrying a fighting staff which looked like bamboo, but was also of some composite material, which didn't have any iron in it. It was six feet long but could be unscrewed into three two feet lengths and he had a crossbow over his shoulder and a quiver of bolts on his belt along with the Bowie knife.
Mom had said goodbye about ten minutes ago and had gone downstairs. I don't think she was scared of the Elven Council but they seemed to make her nervous. I felt the power begin to rise and I bent down to pick up Blue and I could see Aaron doing the same with Sandy. I heard the Chief Councilor say, *Greetings little Elder. We see that you're ready to go. We'll Transport you and then return tomorrow at three to get you.*
I had no preconceived idea of what being Transported would be like, except of course for what I had seen on Star Trek. It felt like we were gently grasped in a huge hand and the light stayed constant as we were actually moved and then when we were released we were in a sunlit clearing.
My group made the slow formal werewolf bow. Barry was a little clumsy, but Teddy and Aaron made it look like they had done it thousands of times. When I straightened up, I took a close look at our greeters who were just straightening from replying to our bow. There was Mossen and a woman I assumed was his mate since they were holding hands. There were three small naked boys standing in front of them. Three who I assumed were the Council, a dire werewolf on one side and a woman on the other and a man in the center who would be their Chief Councilor. With the ability to read human auras that I had learned from Aaron, it was obvious that all of them were Elders. To one side, there were two other men. One I could see was a Healer. The other a dire werewolf who looked so much like Mossen they had to be kin, had a kind of power I had never felt before and his aura while green was not the green of an Elder nor the green of a Healer but somewhere in between. Unlike the rest who were dressed in elaborate shirts and trousers, he had on colorful robes.
Mossen said, “Welcome to our world, little Elder. Since you don't speak our language I am here to translate.”
I shook my head, saying to him, “It isn't necessary, Mossen. I have an ability that allows me to redirect talk or mind-speech much deeper in the mind than is normal. When at this level, which I call the primal level, no translation is necessary. Familiars also have this ability and I have created channels between the familiars and I and the rest of my group so you should be able to use your own language.”
“That will make things much easier, young Elder,” said the Chief Elder.
I said, “I will introduce my group, since I got the impression from the Elven Council's minds that visitors do so first. I am Robert Richard Hansen, though most people usually just call me Robby, which is a nickname for my first name and we usually just use first names on informal occasions. I am an Elder and a Healer. The familiar in my arms is called Blue.”
I put my hand on Paul's arm, saying, “This is my Father, Paul Wilson.” and Paul gave a small bow, “Tal Peters,” and Tal bowed as well, “is my assistant and bodyguard and is distantly related and he will be staying with me, most of the time.”
I put my hand on Aaron's head, saying, “This is Aaron Peters, he is my foster brother and again he is distantly related and he is a Healer as well. Sandy is his familiar. He has just had his powers for a few months and in terms of a Healer he would be my very new apprentice and won't be involved in discussion of your problem.” Aaron bowed.
Putting my hand on Teddy's head, “This is my brother Edward Jarvis Hansen and he is usually called Teddy and this little one is Barry Hansen-White and he has no nickname.” The two younger boys bowed as well.
The Chief Elder said, “I am Talmar. Chief Elder of the Council.” and he bowed. “This is Shien, of the Council,” and the woman bowed. This is Damlar of the Council.” and the dire werewolf member bowed. He motioned to the man in the elaborate robes, “This is Vervan, he is the Chief Priest of Avar and Mossen's father.”
I was disappointed and directed a brief flick of mind-speech at Mossen, *That's how you knew I was a Healer, in my world?*
*Yes, little one, I share a bit of his ability, just enough to be able to recognize a Healer. You are disappointed?* he asked.
I admitted it, *A little, I was hoping it was something that I could learn and pass on to our Elder's since they have no way of finding a Healer, only another Healer can do that and with Aaron there are only two of us.* I answered. This all had taken only a second and I was paying full attention when the Chief Healer was introduced.
“This is Candar and he is our Chief Healer and the one you will be working with. Mossen will also be there, so we are represented by an Elder. His wife is Florin and the boys are their children and they are about the same ages as your brothers.” He grinned, “If you are wondering why they are so small, their people do not begin to grow into their extraordinary size until after they reach puberty. In order of ages Kendar is nine and a half, Sen is seven and a half and Tearn is six.”
“Mossen and his wife and the boys will show you to the Guesting quarters and then show you back to the Council chambers, off of which are several meeting rooms.” Talmar told us.
“A request, Talmar.” and I bowed to Vervan, “could Vervan please attend the meeting. I recognize that he too has power, though it is different from an Elder or a Healer's power, however that does not mean that he can be of no use in this business. It might in fact be just what we need.”
bowed to us, “I will be glad to come. It should be interesting. First
I'll get out of these formal robes.”
By the time we reached the Guesting House we had long since lost all six of the other boys and Sandy. I heard something about playing a ball game and I grinned. I imagined that it would be a rough game.
The Guesting House could house twenty guests or groups of guests. The accommodation ranged from single rooms to multi-room apartments. We were given the best and largest of the apartments, which could easily have taken twice the group.
Mossen told us, “Very few of these rooms will be occupied in the next couple of days. The Ceremony is the most important of our year and except for those who go to the Elven capital for the celebrations most stay at home, for this joyful affair.”
I had been feeling a buzzing in my mind since I had arrived and I was pretty sure it was our guardians.
I said to Mossen and Florin, “Excuse me, I have a little business to attend to.” They looked at me as if I had lost my mind when I bowed to the empty room and said, “Hello, Your Highness, would you appear so I may discuss the terms of your guardianship.”
The young Faerie prince blinked into sight in front of me and he was different, not his body, but his wings. On Earth they had been translucent even transparent in spots but here they were a beautiful dark blue, with lighter streaks throughout.
I bowed again, saying earnestly, “Greetings, Your Highness. The color of your wings is a beautiful sight.”
He bobbed in front of me, in his version of a bow. He told me, “Yes, Robby Hansen, it was a pleasant surprise to all of us. The one who came into your world to bring us back, said it was the subtle magic of this world entwined with normal light which gave our wings color. I remember what he said, but I am afraid I don't understand it. As you remember his wings on Earth were like ours, but they turned to scarlet when he returned here.”
“I am Prince Aciam, Robby and I am glad I am finally able to tell you my name.” after saying that, he looked at the two dire werewolves and bobbed again, “Greetings Mossen and Florin. My people and I are here to guard Robby's companions from physical and magical danger. It was something he arranged with the Elves.”
Mossen glanced at me and smiled, saying, “Florin and I wondered. From the little I had seen of him, he didn't seem to be careless enough to leave his family unprotected, yet we could not see any protections. It is a wise course, to provide protection in a place you don't know.”
“This also allows us to pay off a little of the debt we feel we owe him.” Prince Aciam said. “But why did you not ask for protection for yourself Robby? This is a strange world to you as well.”
“Throw a magical bolt at me, Aciam.” I told him. There was doubt on his tiny face, but after a few seconds of wrestling with himself, he did as I had asked. Like a mental blow, the bolt was simply absorbed by my shield. I hadn't been totally sure that it would work, but from the Elven Portal Keeper I had gained the impression that magic worked much like mental blows and would be stopped by the same type of shields. In fact the Elven Council's blocks which they used against both magical and mental attacks were the same for both.
I explained, “There are similar shields on my whole family. I have no doubt that if you used your full power that you could pierce their shields. As it is they are protected from all mental or magical blows except from an unusually powerful user of magic, that is who they might need protection against. However, I've never been on your world before so I don't have any enemies here yet so it's unlikely that my family will be in any danger. I simply don't intend to take chances.”
“You expect to make enemies, little one?” Florin asked.
“Oh, from the way your society is set up, I would say it's inevitable, Florin.” My voice went cold, “I'll just have to make sure that any enemies I make aren't in a position to do me any harm.”
I turned back to the Faerie prince, telling him, “Aciam, getting to physical dangers. Boys sometimes get into fights. If the fights are against opponents of approximately equal abilities, let the boys fight their own battles. Both my Father and Tal,” nodding at the two men, “are quite capable of taking care of themselves, again if they are challenged for any reason only interfere if they are overmatched, or if weapons are drawn. Tal will normally be with me since, he is both my assistant and bodyguard. My Father will normally be somewhere around the boys, to supervise them. While this world is an unfamiliar to him as to them, he is more used to dangerous and unusual situations.”
I hadn't expected to be included in this discussion. After all I was just a Priest of Avar. I was the Chief Priest of course but still we always seemed to be left out of the interesting things. That was of course because our ability was so rare that our people wanted to protect us, but at times, it could be frustrating.
Robby said in his soft voice, “I wish to apologize to the Healers, I said you were taking the lazy way out. But I've looked at the method you have developed and it's essentially the same I used. I was not concerned with time and I don't even know how long it took. The method you have developed may in fact have been discovered several times since you arrived on this world. But as with you it would have taken so much time, that it would probably have been abandoned.”
The Chief Healer had discussed it with me and he had said essentially the same thing and that was as close as I had expected to get to the problem. Robby continued. “Elders can't link to Healers to provide the power which would allow them to do it in a much shorter time period and Healers can't link with each other, except for the rare occasion when they are closely related.”
Robby looked at me, saying, “From your mind I know that your power allows you to join with your congregation in a closer manner than perhaps any other clergy has ever done. How many people can you hold in your mind at once?”
I thought it over, telling him, “Between two hundred and two hundred and fifty. It varies according to the ebb and flow of magic in our world. If there are more then we link....” and I stopped in wonder.
“Yes, you link with other priests to increase the number of people you can reach. Can you link with Elders and Healers?” he asked.
I shook my head, telling him, “Not as Elders and Healers, all except for my son Mossen, they are simply people who I link to and are no different than any other members of my congregation.”
“Could you and Mossen link so I can see it happen?” Robby asked. I nodded and my son and I reached out toward each other and our minds joined and we were as one, the pleasure so intense that we couldn't sustain it for more than a few minutes and had to withdraw. A link with a fellow priest would not be as intense nor as close and could be sustained for hours if necessary.
Robby shook his head, saying musingly, “No I can't link with you either, not as I am, let's see if I can change that.” He put his hand on the familiar's back and closed his eyes and then they became completely still, in a trance state deeper than I had ever seen before. I looked at Candar a question in my eyes and he said in a low voice, “No, I've never seen a trance state as complete as that either, we are always aware of the outside world and the trance is very easy to break.”
The man from his world, Tal said, “That's one of the main reasons Robby has a bodyguard. As you say he's so deeply in a trance, I don't know if anything could wake him. He obviously didn't feel it would take very long or he would have told you to come back later. He may simply be exploring the possibility and not actually doing anything. He goes that deep when he is thinking about something very intensely as well, as when he's Healing.”
After about half an hour, his eyelids flickered and then opened. Robby reached out with his mind and linked with me. It was different from Mossen, much more like a link with a fellow priest and I was a bit shaken as I could feel the enormous power on the other side of that link.
Robby released the link and said with obvious delight, “So we can link, now can I work through you to seal the points in your minds that need to be sealed and if I can how long will it take. We need some volunteers. About ten will be fine.” Mossen sent out the request to the Council and it only took about ten minutes before we had our volunteers.
As Robby instructed I joined with them and then he linked with me again and a little of that power I had felt went through me into the five men and five women who had volunteered. Aside from providing the link, I could only watch, but it was fascinating as their minds changed. It was only a slight change, but it was very evident.
When the changes were complete, Robby carefully withdrew from their minds and mine before breaking the link. “Candar, the alteration that I have made to their minds is identical to the method I used. How long did it take Tal?” Robby asked. The man had been looking at a device on his wrist.
He told the boy, “Ten minutes, Robby.”
Robby nodded, “As I said, they are now protected. They no longer can be enslaved, yet they can still be disciplined by an Elder and he can still lock their muscles down. In fact everything that an Elder or Healer could normally do he can still do. Now the alterations in my mind were in the portion that controls Healing and I can make the same alterations in Candar's mind as I did in mine and I can teach him how to do it to other Healers. To change the mind is very dangerous and I don't do it often, though occasionally it is necessary. It was only a slight adjustment but if I hadn't had Mossen's mind as a template I wouldn't even have tried it. It's different from the channels that we open for mind-speech and similar things. That is simply an adjustment not an actual change.”
Robby said matter-of-factly. “My Healing power is enormous and Blue adds to that. To make the same changes in another Healer's mind will probably take Candar several hours. However, to make the alterations needed to prevent slavery will only take about the same length of time as I took, because I only used a trickle of the power I could have used. I deliberately only used the amount of power that your Healers have available.”
He shook his head, saying with annoyance, “Unfortunately, the ability that Mossen and Vervan have to see Healers would require a major change in my mind or in the mind of another Elder. So major that it would be dangerous to even attempt it.” Robby sighed, “That would be a ability that would be useful on my world since Elders can't see human auras. It requires a Healer and there are a grand total of two on my world.”
I asked, “How about Elves, they can see human auras?”
He nodded, saying ruefully, “Yes they can, but unfortunately, while they don't have as much of a vulnerability to the death metal as do the Faerie, only Morain developed a sufficient immunity to it so that she could travel in my world. But even she could only visit areas where the death metal was scarce by the standards of our world.”
Robby grinned and his green eyes twinkled, “My stomach is telling me that it's time to eat. How accurate is it?”
I laughed, telling him, “Very accurate Robby. The gongs you can hear are announcing twelve o'clock and the time for lunch.”
He giggled like any child, belying the enormous power of his mind. Obviously, despite the maturity he had displayed this morning, he had the ability to be a youngster at the same time.
Robby bowed to Candar and his voice was bubbly with good humor. “Candar, if you would join us at the Guesting House, after we eat then I can make the adjustment to your mind. Then we can meet back here at two in the afternoon and with an additional ten volunteers we will see if you can make the needed changes. Once we've done that and I'm confident that there will be no problem, then we should spend the rest of the afternoon teaching you how to do the needed alteration, so that you no longer need my help.”
It was an exciting occasion. To be the first of our Healers to be able to prevent a large number of our people from being enslaved was very satisfying. After he made the alteration in my mind, I was easily able to accomplish that feat. It took me longer than it had him. Almost twenty minutes, but that didn't disturb me. While I was the Chief Healer I wasn't the most powerful Healer, many of those who had elected me were more powerful. It was good in fact, since that indicated that it wouldn't take powerful Healers to accomplish the task.
After we had proved that it could be done, then Robby taught me how to make the alteration in the mind of my fellow Healers. It took me almost six hours to do so, in two sessions of three hours each. One session before the evening meal and one session after. However I had chosen the village’s most powerful Healer and when we had him initiate a third Healer, it only took him about two and a half hours.
I was tired when I joined my wife in our bed for the night, but very satisfied. Very soon, not even another Morain would ever be able to enslave any of my people again. Robby Hansen got nothing out of this, except for satisfaction, yet he had been willing to come to a world that was not his own to help us. While he was not one of our children he was a child of our people and I felt much better about them after today's events.
I was somewhat skeptical that a werewolf child could be as powerful as my father Morthren said but I had been assigned to greet him and accompany him, as the Council transported him. I really wasn't sure why my father had chosen me. He knew I didn't like children, not even children of my own kind.
I felt a jolt when I looked into the child's enormous green eyes and I could feel him in my mind. No that's not quite accurate. I couldn't feel him in my mind, that's why I knew he was there. I put up my blocks and nothing happened, he was still in my mind and he smiled at me. I gave a silent apology to my father and I felt amusement at the same time. My father was right and I was wrong, as had happened so often in the past, but I was only two hundred years old and my father was more than a thousand.
Robby Hansen said in a soft voice, smiling with amusement, “I have no problem with you disliking children. We can be obnoxious at times. Even those who can't read minds seem to know instinctively when someone dislikes us and we go out of our way to be even worse. If you ever get to the point where you feel neutral about us, you might even be able to make friends with some of us.”
I nodded my head thoughtfully. It sounded like something my father might say. Perhaps he was right but I couldn't force it.
He shook his head, telling me, “No you can't force it, that would just make things worse and might end any possibility of your ever liking any children, even your own when you have them. Perhaps observing us might help, you'll find we're not that much different than adults though we don't have the maturity. Most of us can't control our emotions as well and they tend to be much more intense though they don't usually last as long for most of us.” Robby introduced me to the man who was standing beside him, “This is Tal and he'll be going with me, as will Blue.” Indicating the familiar in his arms.
I was much more comfortable with familiars and I reached out and gently rubbed him under the chin and he began purring. I was somewhat startled when he talked to me, *I don't mind you disliking children, some of them can be a nuisance at times.* he told me looking at me with eyes as green as Robby Hansen's. I know their representatives could talk to the Elven Council and they could talk to those they bonded with, but this was the first time I had ever talked to a familiar.
Robby said gently, “Now you know you love children.”
*Of course I do, but some of them can be very annoying and I can very easily understand someone disliking them.* Blue said.
“You're just sucking up to the son of an Elven Council member.” Robby said.
*That too.* Blue said in agreement and I found it hard to restrain my laughter and I looked at the man he had called Tal and could see he was grinning widely.
to me, “Robby is a child, but never make the mistake of thinking that's
all he is. I haven't known him long but he has shown me a wisdom and
maturity that is simply astonishing.”
After we had been Transported to the capital, I could have left them, but the child had caught my interest and I decided to stay with them. As he said, observing a child, though I gathered he was certainly no ordinary child. The Elven Council were there to greet him and that startled me and what was even more astonishing, showing me how much they regarded him, was when they clasped arms with him.
Elves rarely touched. To do so was actually painful except with those we were very close to. In my lifetime aside from my father and my mother who I barely remembered I had only two friends who were that close.
My father raised his eyebrow when I didn't leave right away. Robby grinned, saying with amusement, “I told him if he observed some children he might find out we're not that different from adults. I think he's decided to experiment on me.”
“Really. You're a child. We hadn't noticed,” my father said dryly.
Robby giggled and my father ruffled his hair. That was a gesture so intimate to Elves that it was almost never done in public. That my father had done so was so extraordinary that it simply took my breath away.
My father winked at me as Robby went with the other two Council members and said, “If you're jealous, Merwin, I'm quite willing to ruffle your hair as well.”
I shook my head, telling him, “No, Father, I'm not jealous, simply astonished. You have talked about him, but I didn't realize how much you respected him, before this evening.”
My father nodded, then said, “You seem to be curious about him. Stay with him, it should be an interesting evening. If something happens and he is simply so trouble prone that we fully expect that it will, don't expect him to act like a child.”
We followed the others and at the door to the Greeting Chamber they went their separate ways. The Council members to circulate among the guests, some of which had already started to arrive. There were comfortable armchairs situated around the room for some of the older members and in one corner there was a pile of cushions for the familiar representatives. Robby and Blue and Tal headed right for them. Their queen, an enormous ginger colored familiar, watched their approach with interest. Most people simply ignored them since they couldn't talk to them.
I sighed, they were some of my favorite people and I had always wished I could talk to them. Robby turned to look at me and then I heard him address my father, *Morthren. How do you communicate with familiars?* I don't know what my Father said, but suddenly I could not feel Robby in my mind again. I know it's a silly statement, but I just knew he was there, even though I couldn't feel him. But I could feel the new channel that suddenly opened in my mind.
I reached out cautiously and suddenly Kinar was talking to me, *Greetings, Merwin. You are welcome.* she said with incredible warmth and I sighed again, this time with delight and Robby grinned at me.
We spent the next hour with the familiars. Me, getting to know them all over again, now that I could speak to them and Robby wrapping them around his little finger.
Robby began to circulate after that and he showed no shyness in introducing himself, not forgetting his two companions. He was passing the doorway when Bren and Salnar entered. As Bren saw Robby, rage appeared on his face. “Are you the werewolf that intends to bring my nephew back to this world?”
Robby turned to face him and in an even softer voice than he had been using up to now, asked, “Now, why would I do that? Angelo would be in your charge and I've only known you five seconds and don't like you and I certainly wouldn't trust you with him.” He started to turn away and Bren snarled and his hand went to his sword and began to draw it. I looked at the man named Tal and he didn't move, obviously he considered that Robby could handle this. I looked back at Bren and his sword was fully drawn but he was completely still.
Robby stood with his hands on his hips and shook his head slowly, then he walked forward and putting his hand under Bren's, the man's hand opened and the sword hilt dropped into Robby's hand. Robby stood there looking up at the helpless man. He said, “According to what I know of your world, drawing your sword constitutes a challenge. When you challenge someone with more ability than your own, you do so at your own peril. I have the right to kill him. Don't I?” and he looked at Salnar and she nodded unhappily. The room was so still you could have heard a single raindrop hit the roof.
“It's very convenient for somebody.” Robby said.
His mind began to open up and it was with awe as I realized how much of it was hidden. When it was fully open, only the Elven Council could possibly equal that powerful and dangerous mind. I looked around and I could see that everybody had the same awe on their faces, well except for the Council and there were sardonic grins on their faces.
As Robby reached into Bren's mind, I realized that he hadn't done so to brag, he simply wanted everyone to be aware of what he was doing, he took a bit of thought from Bren's mind. Suddenly we were in his chambers earlier in the day and a man with him and in mind-speech he pushed a thought into the King's mind, *You've got to be wary of the Earth werewolf King Bren, he'll bring your nephew back and replace you.* We could all see that Bren wasn't consciously aware of the thought being placed into his head, it just seemed to rise to the surface from his subconscious.
Robby said softly, his voice was even colder, “I don't think that's a thought that you need, King Bren, since somebody else supplied it, so that can be permanently discarded, we'll just put it into a box where it can't affect you again. Let's see how many other poisonous thoughts have been put into your mind.”
Slowly layer by layer, he peeled those thoughts from the King's mind, letting everyone see that they were supplied by someone else before moving them into the box he had created. They would still be available to the King, but would no longer affect his thinking.
As layer after layer was removed, more and more of Bren's seemingly strange actions were explained. They had never endangered his position, or at least not up until recently, when dissatisfaction with his rule had become evident. Finally Robby had the King all the way back into his childhood and the last of the poisonous thoughts was still there. It was jealousy of his brother, that had eventually led to his exile which we had seen in his later thoughts. Robby removed the last of those thoughts and Bren's mind was very different now. Oh there was still a little paranoia there, but Robby grinned, saying, “That part is yours, Your Highness and from what I've heard, having a little paranoia is good for a King.”
He handed the sword back to Bren and the man sheathed it. Robby turned to Morthren, asking, “Would you mind Transporting King Bren's chief advisor, Mathin here?”
*We would be delighted, little one,* they said in mind-speech, as they did when acting in their official capacity as the Council.
Robby looked over his shoulder at his bodyguard, asking him, “Tal would you put a bolt in your crossbow and cock it for me please?”
The man did so and handed it to Robby who made sure it was pointed at the floor. Bren started to speak and Robby said, his voice almost a whisper and I shivered at the coldness in it, “No, Your Highness, we know what has to be done. Mathin has abused his position for at least thirty-five years and probably much longer. But your mind needs time to recover from what I put it through. To kill now, could put you back on the path that Mathin put it on.”
Mathin suddenly appeared in front of us, Transported by the Council. He was an intelligent man and looking around at the disapproving faces, he knew that his plotting had been discovered. He started to raise one foot off the floor to run and then suddenly froze.
Robby said in that cold whisper, “Yes Mathin, we know what you were doing. It doesn't matter where you intended it to lead. Putting yourself in as Chief Elder would be my guess, at least as a start, but I think your ambitions go much deeper than that even, not that it matters any longer. As an Elder, you serve your people and when you break that oath there are only two penalties, to unmake you as an Elder, or death.”
Robby began to lift the crossbow and suddenly we could see his mind again, there was no pity in that mind and no mercy and yet there also was no anger. With no emotion at all he pulled the trigger and it was a heart shot and Mathin must have died instantly. Robby handed the crossbow back to Tal.
Robby told us, “I have no remorse in killing him, as I let you see, yet I don't celebrate death. Perhaps next year will be a good time.” and he bowed to all.
As he straightened my father said. “We certainly understand your feelings Robby, a death no matter how much it is deserved should never be a joyful occasion, only regretted for a promise of goodness never fulfilled. Know that you are always welcome here and we look forward to seeing you at next year's Ceremony.” With that Robby, Tal and Blue Transported back to the werewolf lands.
My father said to me, *A very unusual child, Merwin, but to realize how extraordinary Robby is, you must get to know other children so you have somebody to compare him to,* and I nodded, he was right and strangely enough I was looking forward to it.
When I kill it is without remorse, but as I said I do not celebrate deaths I must inflict. I said to Tal, “Why don't you join the other celebrants, Blue can lead you to them.”
“I'm still your bodyguard, Robby.” Tal said, “I can't just leave you alone with no protection.”
I waved at the air, “The Prince will watch me for you, won't you Prince Aciam.” I told him.
He flicked into view, “Yes, Robby Hansen. I felt your arrival and since I knew nobody should be in the Guesting House, I came to see what it was.”
Tal nodded, not insulting the Prince by doubting his ability and Blue led him out the door and then returned a few minutes later, saying he had found the others for Tal.
I got a deck of cards that I had brought with me and I taught the Prince Gin Rummy. He used his magic to shrink and enlarge the cards as needed and he caught on very quickly, but then he was thousands of years old. By the time we heard the others returning I was about ten games down. He remained to finish the last game, which he won and then flicked out of sight, though I was aware he was still in the room. Just as I was aware that he had his own bodyguards who had never left us alone.
Paul was a bit worried and he looked at me questioningly, “Don't worry, Father,” and I could see the pleasure on his face as I used the title which was becoming more and more natural, “as I said, I feel no remorse, I simply don't celebrate after I kill someone.” I let him see my mind to show I was telling the truth and that I was fine. He looked relieved and ruffled my hair gently.
that late but the three younger boys were yawning and finding it hard
to keep their eyes open and Paul put them to bed and he and Tal followed
soon after and when I got sleepy, I joined them.
The same people were there to say goodbye as had greeted us. They had wanted to give us gifts, which was the custom on their world, but I told them it wasn't the custom on most of my world. I had come to help as a friend and for the other's even being there had been a huge gift in of itself so they agreed that only one gift would be given.
Kendar, Mossen's oldest son gave it to Aaron. It was one of the colorful balls they use in their ball game. It's about the same size as a soccer ball. It's hollow but the material that it's made of is about an inch thick and feels almost like foam rubber, so it's soft. I never did find out all the rules, but like soccer, you couldn't touch it with your hands but any other part of the body was allowed, which meant that you could carry it in the crook of your arm. They drew circles on the field in different colors and you had to get the ball into one of them, or over the end lines, a little like rugby and it was full tackle, with werewolves what else would you expect.
It was a very tricky and sometimes impossible to tell who was on which team, or even how many teams there were. The games I saw were through the boys' minds and the participants were all twelve and under, so the children were all naked. The only way to tell who was on a team, was a small dye mark on the back of the children, so it was quite possible you could pass the ball half a dozen times to someone and then find out he or she was on one of the other teams.
The referees were some of the older children and to make the game even more confusing, about every fifteen minutes, there was a time out. Children chosen at random would have their dye mark washed off and then replaced with another color, so some of the children might be on several different teams in a game. How they scored the game I have no idea, but obviously it was intended to cause chaos and hilarity, since those on the sidelines were laughing themselves silly.
We simply hadn't been there long enough to make friends, though sometimes a few minutes was enough time, however it hadn't happened to anyone in either group. There were prospective friendships that might have become full friendships given a little more time, but as I said it hadn't happened and there were no sad leave takings.
I said in mind-speech, *I thank you for guarding my family, Prince Aciam and please thank your parents for me.*
I heard back, *You're welcome, Robby Hansen. We were glad we could help. Goodbye until we meet again.*
We gave a last wave of good-byes as the Elven Council transported us back to my room. As we were being transported, the Council asked me and Tal to come to the capital to talk to King Bren and Queen Salnar and I agreed. We returned home just long enough to leave the others. I told the boys that Rose and Norm were downstairs with Mom, but they headed for the door, too excited to bother putting on any clothes. I told Paul that Tal and I had been asked to go back to the Elven capital.
I looked at the nervous King and his wife and three children. He said, “I know now that it was Mathin not I who caused my brother's exile. Yet, I would still like to apologize to his son. Is there anyway that this can be arranged?”
I told him soberly, “I have no objection, Your Majesty. However it isn't really my choice, it's Angelo's and I don't know how he feels about you. It certainly won't be on this world. I won't allow him to come here, even for a short time. If you are willing to come to my world then I'll ask him and see what he says.”
I saw the excitement in all of their eyes, especially that of the boys. They were all younger than Angelo, probably about five, seven and nine. They didn't have the deceptive fragile look that Angelo had but their hair was as light as his, a white blond and their eyes were all a dark gray. Salnar's hair was as light with blue eyes, but Bren's hair was a dark brown and he had brown eyes.
Bren looked at Salnar and reading the excitement in her eyes that mirrored his, nodded. “That will be acceptable.” his calm words belying his excitement.
I told them, “You had a celebration last night, this is also a holiday season on my world and Angelo and his adoptive family are on a trip, to a colder part of our world where they are involved in winter sports. They will be returning in five days and then we will be going back to school the day after that. Our world has a seven-day week and I see from your mind that your world does as well. I will wait until the end of that week when the weekend comes, that is a period of two days, between periods of work or of school when we rest. I will give him time to think it over and arrange for you to come if he agrees early in the morning on Jan 17th. That will be seventeen days from now, since this is the last day of our present month and present year. That will give you two days to spend with Angelo and his family. If you wish to have additional visits that will be up to Angelo and his family and you, to arrange.”
acceptable to Bren and Salnar, but I could see disappointment on the
faces of the boys that it wasn't going to be immediately.
The Council returned us to our world and when we went downstairs we found the boys still buzzing about their visit to the other world but they had managed to contain their excitement long enough to slip on shorts. It was New Year's Eve but unlike most people it was not an important day in our family, Christmas being the important day and I was the only one to see the New Year in and that was only because I couldn't sleep anyway.
As it happened I didn't see Angelo until the Tuesday after we started back to school since I was busy Monday and wasn't at school, but when I talked to the Ross's on Saturday, as I expected there was no hate in his mind. Once he learned that someone else had caused his parents to be exiled he agreed immediately to see his aunt and uncle and cousins.
Angelo is a gentle child and though from his human aura I can tell, he has the potential to be an Elder, if I have anything to say about it he will never be initiated. He has the compassion that an Elder needs, but he doesn't have the ruthlessness, that must accompany that compassion.
I don't know much about that first visit. I know he loved his cousins and Aunt at first sight but was somewhat reserved with his Uncle and the reserve lasted the whole weekend, but I gather further visits have been arranged. Jenna, Steve and Carrie also fell in love with his cousins and his Aunt but surprisingly, as Steve told me the next Monday, they had all liked Bren and he thinks that Angelo would get over his reserve in time. Of course I did all the translating, though as on the other world I was simply a conduit though which their speech flowed and I of course will have be in Benson when any other visits are made.
I had decided to do as Robby and my father said. Since I was attached to the Council as an observer, I decided to go to one of the schools, since the Council provided the funding for education and observe some children. About a dozen of the children were naked, which indicated that they were orphans. I had complained to my father once and he said that the City Council was always strapped for money. They felt since Dewan was warmed by magic they could spend money on food and shelter for orphans rather than on clothes.
He had told me to look into it for myself and I was astonished to find that it cost more than half as much to clothe a child as to clothe an adult. The City Council saved a good sum to spend on more essential things and since the children didn't seem to care and seemed as happy as other children, I didn't say anything more.
One of them came up to me at the end of the day. He said, “Hello, I'm Diel. Are you going to be here tomorrow?” He brushed his brown hair out of his dark blue eyes and his eyes were sparkling
I had noticed him earlier because I could see from his aura that he was one of the rare original human inhabitants of this world. Their lifespan was almost as long as an Elf's but they produced children even less often, so only a few hundred had been left when we had come to this world several thousand years ago. They had been on the brink of extinction. Now worldwide there was probably fifty thousand.
“First I'm curious about one thing. Do you mind being naked?” I asked.
Diel looked down at himself and there was surprise on his face and I realized that he had long since forgotten he was naked. He shook his head, saying, “No. I was seven when my mother died last year and it's embarrassing for the first couple of days. You forget about it very quickly, because you know that the money they would be spending on clothes goes towards food and stuff. We talk to other kids and we know what we get to eat is better than what most of them get.” He giggled, “And it's an advantage, because we can play without worrying about getting our clothes dirty. I've seen kids get whipped by their parents because they got their clothes dirty, or got tears in them.”
“I don't know if I'm coming back tomorrow.” I said answering his original question, “Is there any reason that I should?”
“Marnya is our usual teacher and she's an Elf,” he told me. His eyes were twinkling and I realized that he was matchmaking.
I'd think about it and stood up to leave and he offered me his hand
and I was so surprised that I took it. I was surprised when I felt no
pain at his touch and I ended up walking him to the orphanage.
I couldn't resist coming back the next morning. Diel interested me, Even with my best friends there had been a period where we felt a little pain and yet there was absolutely none when Diel and I touched.
And Marnya interested me as much as Diel when I saw her. Elves look so much alike with very light hair and skin, slanted eyes and pointed ears, that no Elven girl I had ever seen had interested me. As father says and he's made a specialty of watching Earth they were carbon copies of each other. Looks of course are only part of a relationship but most Elven girls think very much alike as well and none I had ever known would have dreamed of teaching in the school system.
Marnya was the complete opposite of any Elven girl I had ever seen before. She was one of the very rare dark elves. Dark hair and eyes and a dark complexion. She was certainly no copy of anyone. You could see her at the front of the class and black eyes sparkling, you could tell she loved to teach. She ignored me completely or at least seemed to, as I showed up day after day. But then one day when she was teaching part of the class she handed me a book and part of the class and said, “If you're going to be here all the time, you can help.”
I was so amazed that I just did as I was told and gathered the dozen children around me and began to read to them. I knew then that she would have to be my wife if I had to spend the rest of my life in her classroom. However, I also knew that from the love I had begun to feel for Diel that he too would have to become part of my family and he was the first to become a member. Adoption is simple on our world. An Elven Elder examined the minds of those involved in the adoption and if they're compatible and all wanted it then the adoption was approved.
We took the morning off of school and went to the Elder and he enthusiastically approved the adoption. I gave Diel the package, that I had been carrying and his blue eyes lit up with glee, as he guessed immediately what they contained. They weren't fancy but they were clothes and they fitted him like a glove and his chest puffed out. Not because he cared that he was no longer naked but because they indicated his new status, that he now had a parent and was no longer an orphan.
When we returned to the class that afternoon, Marnya's declared a celebration of Diel's new status and her eyes softened towards me. I watched my new son, as he was the center of attention for that afternoon and knew that even if Marnya never accepted me I had gained an enormous amount by simply observing children as Robby had told me to do.
Not that I had given up on Marnya. I decided that I had spent enough time simply observing. I arranged with the school to teach a class, where the teacher had become ill and wouldn't be able to return until the next year. It was a class with children about a year younger than Diel and they were annoying, exasperating and endearing at the same time. A couple of months later I went through the last day of school feeling sadness.
I had Diel in my arms and the rest of the children were gone, when Marnya came up to us. She said, “You may take me to dinner, Merwin.” and I could feel Diel bounce a little with excitement in my arms. She was telling us that she would accept my courting, as is an Elven woman's right.
A courtship could sometimes take years, but she had no intention of wasting that much time. She was a decisive woman. Within a month, of meals and entertainment, which half the time included Diel and my father, since Diel especially was part of the marriage, she took the necklace from around my neck and the one from around Diel's, meaning she would marry me and become Diel's mother.
The marriage was a private yet joyous occasion as one of the Elven Council married us. I was holding Diel in my arms because she was marrying him as much as she was marrying me. An Elven marriage that included children already born was a marriage to all.
I was lying on my back staring at the ceiling and waiting for the alarm to go off, when I felt the power begin to rise. It was the Elven Council yet it was not them personally they simply supplied the power. My mind bubbled with humor as Merwin appeared, his arm around a dark Elven woman and holding a young human boy in his arm.
I smiled, saying, “It's nice to see you Merwin. I gathered you took my advice to observe some children.”
“Yes, Robby. This is my wife, Marnya and my son, Diel. When I told her that this all happened because of your advice she wanted to meet you.”
I opened my mind to them and I watched as she looked intently, then smiled and said in a soft pleasant voice, “You have an unusual mind, Robby Hansen, compassionate, yet absolutely ruthless when it is required. All child, yet with a wisdom I have only seen once before and that in my new father-in-law. I thank you for my new husband and son. You are always welcome in our home.”
With good wishes for them in my mind, I watched them fade out of sight and I smiled again. I hadn't intended to act as a matchmaker in this instance, but that was one of a Elder's duties. I was always glad to fulfil that duty, even when it was only by accident.