Autumn – Chapter 2 – 04

            Gray set down his mug and stood up slowly, tilting his head to study Eva with a careful, measuring gaze.  She met that gaze head-on, anger still smoldering in her eyes.
            “For the love of all that’s holy and sacred,” Gray rumbled after a moment, “are you really that angry at them?”
            Wait a second.  Is he actually buying what she’s selling?  Terézia blinked, looking between Gray’s back and Eva’s face.
            “Sometimes,” Eva said softly, voice little more than a whisper.  “Mostly I’m just frustrated.  Do you have any idea how upsetting it is to be called a witch and shot at?  I’ll tell you what, it’s no picnic and it’s happened twice in four weeks.  I’m lucky that I haven’t been burned at the stake yet, or tied up outside somewhere for feral dogs to feast on.”  She braced herself against the massive hearth for a second, shaking her head slowly.  “Most of us haven’t set foot on this plane since we were children, and that was millennia ago.  Now we’re here, in a broken world that even we don’t quite understand, and we’re supposed to show the lot of you how to survive.  How to keep going on when everything you’ve ever known is gone.  They never thought about how hard it would be for us to cope, how hard it would be for us to adjust.  It’s not easy.  It’s bloody hard, actually, and I think I hate it.  I really think I do.”
            Kess’s fingers dug into Terézia’s arm.  Terézia glanced toward her friend, frowning slightly.
            Kess shook her head a little.  “We can’t just throw her out there in the cold,” Kess whispered.  “Even if we do think she’s nuts.”
            “And if she’s some kind of sociopathic con artist out to murder us all in our sleep?”  Terézia hissed, throwing all the force she could muster behind her words.  Her strength, though, was ebbing.  Her heart was starting to ache.
            What if the girl was telling the truth after all?
            “Sit down,” Gray said soothingly.  “Have more of your tea and slow down.  You said you were going to start at the beginning, but you kind of skipped that part and came straight to the end plus editorial commentary.  You mentioned the Áes Dána.  What does Irish mythology have to do with anything?”
            Wat frowned.  “I thought she was talking about that weird music group.  Which is it?”
            Eva let out a weak little laugh as she dropped back down onto the bench and let Gray press the mug of tea back into her hands.  She took a long swallow before she shook her head.  “No, no, it’s not about music.  It’s…we’re…”  She sighed and rubbed a hand across her eyes.  “Irish mythology.”
            Terézia tugged on Gray’s sleeve.  He was grinning as he turned to look at her and that momentarily stopped her heart.  What the hell?  “Gray, clearly you’ve got a better idea of what’s going on here than I do.  Care to explain?”
            He just kept grinning and shook his head.  “Mythology, Teca.  Remember how we used to talk about it all being based in fact?”
            “In theory, it’s all based in fact,” she said, blinking rapidly at him.  “But only in theory.  Like great heroes have their stories transformed by bards into something more than they actually are.  Brigid becomes a goddess because of her martial prowess.  Hermes was a swift and cunning messenger, he’s remembered as a deity.”
            He pointed to Eva.  “And she’s telling us that there’s more truth to what we thought was simply a part of the myth perpetuated by bards for the sake of a good story.”
            Eva froze in the middle of taking another swallow of tea, caught off-guard by suddenly being the center of attention again.  She looked at them slowly, swallowed the tea, then set her mug down again.  “He’s right,” she murmured softly.  “You’re both right, in a way.  But heroes like Brigid and Hermes—the figures that became deified for their actions—had added advantages.  What do you know of Otherworlds?”
            “Sounds like a comic shop,” Wat said, crossing his arms.  Kess slugged him in the arm.
            “You mean like Avalon, Olympus, Valhalla?  Like that?”  Her eyes were shining.  Terézia stopped herself from burying her face in her hands.
            Have we all suddenly lost all grip with reality?
            Of course, it could be that they’d never really understood reality to begin with.  That struck her like a blow to the head and she sat down slowly again, next to Kess, and groped for her mug.
            Eva smiled weakly, nodding in response to Kess.  “Yes, like those, though Avalon was…less an Otherworld and more of a liminal space between here and there.”  She paused, tilting her head to one side.  “Did I use that word right?  It’s one of Teague’s favorites; he uses it all the time and I’m never sure whether or not I’m using it right.  Bloody scholar.”  Her hands waved like a fluttering bird’s wings.  “I’m getting distracted, forgive me.  What I was saying is that most of those heroes that the storytellers—and by extension, the mythology that’s survived to these modern times—had the advantage of being born elsewhere, many of them in Otherworlds or of Otherworld stock.  Some entities are kinder than others.  You wouldn’t want to run into Hecate in a dark alleyway, for instance.  She’d gut you as soon as she’d look at you and use your entrails to tell the future.”  Her nose wrinkled.  “Of course, I may be biased.  She’s had a bit of a stranglehold on this world for the past few hundred years, surprisingly enough.  You wouldn’t think a goddess of magic would have a stake in the magicless modern world, but she did.  She and the harpies and a cadre of other forces.  They weren’t happy to see us come back, let me tell you.”  She huffed another sigh.
            Terézia swallowed hard, staring, unable to speak.   Either she’s crazy or we really, really had no idea what the world was all about before today.  She really wasn’t sure which would be worse.
            “Have you seen them yet?”  Eva asked softly, staring at the four of them as she picked up her mug again.
            “Seen what?”  Kess asked.
            “The creatures.  The monsters, the things that go bump in the night, the things that’ll gut you as soon as look at you.  Have you seen any of them yet?”
            Terézia began to shake her head.

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6 Responses to Autumn – Chapter 2 – 04

  1. For clarification (which will take place in Monday’s update), it was Gray that said yes.

    Which probably goes quite a distance toward explaining why Gray is so sympathetic (and maybe dour).

  2. Antonious says:

    Though Eva might be a hundred times older than me, hearing her say what it has been like for her since coming back makes me just want to gingerly (she is much older and did not survive that long with out picking up some defensive skills) give her a hug and do my best to let her know she is safe among friends. Friends who will teach her as much about the contemporary world, as the know it, as she will teach them about the contemporary world as she knows it.

    As for who said yes, it took a couple of reads of the last three sentences but it became clear that it was Gray affirming the sightings. I had had the feeling over the past couple of posts that Terezia was kept a bit sheltered, while Gray sounded like a scout/defender.

    • I’m sure she’d accept the hug as long as you didn’t come at her in a threatening way.

      You’re correct in your assumption about Teca being a bit naive. She knows just enough to be rather dangerous, if she put her mind to it. Poor Aoife’s going to have her work cut out of her, isn’t she?

  3. Antonious says:

    A bit like teaching precocious geniuses. So eager to learn how to do something before understanding how to do something.

    • I suppose it could be worse. I mean, she could have her brother there to be keeping out of trouble–and vice versa. Remember, he said that she could get into more trouble than he ever could.

      Now, we haven’t seen Phelan get into MUCH trouble yet–but the key word in that statement is “yet.”

      • Antonious says:

        I am way too familiar with the workings of a certain lout of an Irishman who goes by the name of Murphy. I bet Eva and Phelan are familiar with him. I bet he did not stick around to harass the human race, he was left here to keep him from hassling his own race when they left. LOL He is always responsible things that happen, that have never happened “yet.”

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