Hey folks!

Having actual midterms and a corporate visit at work this week means I’m going to take the week off.

See you next week for exactly how long David’s slept and why the Knights Errant are in the Valley.

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Seventeen – 04

[This post is from David O’Credne Miller’s point of view.]

“You were out,” Bryant said, glancing to the side, as if checking something, before his gaze met David’s again.  “We spent quite a bit of time speaking with him and the other folks in charge here.”

Folks in charge?  For a few seconds, he squeezed his eyes shut.  There was a faint pounding behind his eyes, but that could have come from any number of causes.  From the stories, that’s not like him.  He advises, doesn’t lead.

Maybe something changed.

His hand shook as he reached up to rub his temple.  “Phelan,” he said quietly.  “You mean Phelan O’Credne.”

“The same,” she said softly.  “Though he doesn’t use that name often.  It’s usually Phelan Conrad.”

David’s lips thinned and he opened his eyes, studying her for a few seconds.  Her honey-blonde hair was braided back from her face, the lamplight painting golden highlights into the strands.  He couldn’t quite tell how old she might be in the light of the lamp and he frowned slightly, his eyes watering slightly despite the dim—or perhaps because of it.  “I don’t understand.”

“It’s all right,” she said.  “He has his reasons for it.  You can ask him yourself later, when you’re up to talking.”

“I’m talking now,” David said, sagging a little more against the pillows.

“You are,” she agreed.

“It’s early,” Bryant said.  “The others are still asleep.”

“Early,” David echoed.  “How long have we been here?”

“Just since yesterday afternoon.”

Then it hasn’t been so long.  Okay.  He closed his eyes for a second.

At least, he thought it was for a second.

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Seventeen – 03

[This post is from David O’Credne Miller’s point of view.]

David jerked upright and every bone and muscle in his body screamed in protest.  His throat was dry, but he knew that he’d must have said something upon waking because Bryant and a strange woman were staring at him—that much he could see through watering eyes.

Bryant managed to catch him as he started to fall backward again toward his pillows.  The room was unfamiliar, but he was in a bed, and that, at least seemed a welcome relief.  An actual bed had been a luxury that he’d missed over the past few months.

It has been months, right?

Disorientation and time loss was, in fact, a vicious beast.

“Easy,” Bryant said.  “Easy, easy.  It’s okay.  You’re safe here.”

“Are we?”  It felt safe, anyway, but he was never sure anymore.  Despite knowing in his gut that they were supposed to be here, that they were supposed to find something here, that didn’t always mean safety.  They’d learned that the hard way once or twice since leaving home.

“You are,” the woman assured him.  He squinted at her as Bryant settled him against the pillows again, brow furrowing.  She seemed familiar somehow, like someone he should remember.

Is she someone I know, or someone I come to know?  Have I seen her before?

“Your uncle is looking forward to actually meeting you,” she continued softly.

“My uncle?” he echoed softly, thoughts scattering for a moment.  Then it hit him.

Phelan.  This is where Phelan lives.

It had taken his entire life, but he’d finally found a Taleisin—and hopefully that Taleisin would be able to help him untangle the web of visions and tales and legends that were all bound up together inside his head.

At least, he hoped so.

But that’s not why—

Is it?

No.  No, there’s more here than just that.

I just know it.

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No Friday update this week.  May or may not have an extra update next week to make up for it (we’ll see.  It’s inventory season at work).

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Seventeen – 02

[This post is from David O’Credne Miller’s point of view.]

You have to find them before it’s too late.

But too late for what?  Too late how?

And how the hell will I know what it is or how or when it’s too late?

No one had been able to tell him, to teach him how to handle what he saw and felt, the gut feelings and the glimpses of otherwhens.  His father had tried, but Gray Miller only had so much expertise in that realm.  Aunt Teca hadn’t been able to offer much additional insight, either, though she’d tried—they’d all tried.  Every adult in his life had tried.

Except his mother, vanished when he was barely old enough to remember having a mother at all.

He’d only asked his father about her disappearance once, when he was ten years old, and then never again.  Even at ten, he saw the pain that it caused his father and at the same time knew that he didn’t dare tell his son the whole truth of it.

That, he’d decided, was fine.  If his father wanted to protect him from something—or protect himself, as the case might have been—that was perfectly all right with him.  His father, after all, had never done anything to hurt him, had only ever tried to help.  Most hard truths were ones that his father told him.

If whatever circumstances had precipitated his mother’s departure were harder than those truths, there must have been a damned good reason for it.

A fresh chill shot through him, the sensation nearer now.  The tumbling images were starting to ebb like the tides drawing back from the water’s edge.  In part it was a relief, but also a frustration.

Whatever had been just beyond his grasp was still out there, still beyond his reaching fingers.

Maybe it’s not time yet.

That realization didn’t make much of a dent in the pressing feeling that time was running out, though.

The chill he’d felt started to become more localized, closer and closer.  He didn’t shiver, though he wanted to.  Oddly, it felt good, as if cooling the summer heat.

It was summer, wasn’t it?

It would be great not to feel so far gone half the time.  It must be summer.  Right?  Right.  It has to be.

It was a hand—the chill was someone’s hand against his face.

In a rush, the images washed away and pain filled the gap where they’d been.

Consciousness flooded in with it.

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Seventeen – 01

[This post is from David O’Credne Miller’s point of view.]

There were voices at the very edge of his consciousness, but they were muffled, far away, lost in the midst of a thousand images that flickered behind his eyelids, though his mind’s eye.  It was the same jarring kaleidoscope that he’d been dealing with since he was a boy—if he were honest, since he was young enough to barely remember the shape of his mother’s face.

That was something he didn’t talk about, though.  It was a secret that was his and his alone—how long these images had been coming.  It didn’t make sense to worry anyone more than they already did.

Only sometimes did he think that perhaps knowing how long he’d been wrestling with them, how used he’d become to it, might be reassuring to the people who loved him.

Only sometimes.

Another step on the journey.  Another road.  A signpost.  This is it—X marks the spot.

He shivered despite himself, tried to curl up.  His body didn’t listen, responding instead with the same bone-deep ache he’d been feeling since they’d run afoul of raiders on the road.  How long ago had it been?

It could be months, for all I know.

But could it?  Months?

If he had been awake, he would have frowned.  Clawing his way back to consciousness was too great an effort, though, especially when the deluge was still crashing over him, threatening to sweep him away with the wash of images that swirled around him.

No, not yet.  Not until he could make sense—

—make sense of what, exactly?

He couldn’t remember, but it was something important—something beyond finding the place called the Valley, the place he’d seen in whispers of dreams and flickered images, the place he’d seen in a thousand visions of the past and the future and the now over the course of his admittedly short life.  But there was something there, something like the voices he could just barely hear, muffled and indistinct, just beyond his ability to hear.  There was something that hovered just beyond his reach, beyond his knowing.

He needed to know.  He needed to find out.

Time, he feared, was running out.

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Sixteen – 09

[This post is from Bryant Tapping’s point of view.]

“What happened to them?”

He knew that he shouldn’t have asked the question.  It simply slipped out before he could think too much about it, and as soon as the words left his lips, he regretted them.

Pain flickered through her expression and she shook her head.  “That’s too long a story for this early in the morning.  They’re…well.  I haven’t seen them in a long time and I don’t expect to soon.”

“But you still—”

“I know.  It’s silly.”  She shook her head, not making eye contact with him.  “But it’s just one of those things.”

Whatever words that were coming shriveled on his tongue.  He knew that feeling all too well.  There were a lot of things in his life that had been ‘just one of those things’ and it was nothing that he could begrudge her.

It wasn’t something he could begrudge anyone, nor did he want to.

“You should wake your friends,” she said softly.  “Get something to eat.”

“Probably,” he agreed, glancing at his slumbering companions again.  “But if I go, who’ll look after David while we’re gone?”

One corner of her mouth curved into a smile.  “I take it you don’t trust me?”

“Not that far,” he admitted.  “Not yet.”

“Paranoid,” she said, though there was a hint of humor to her voice, as if she found it amusing.

Bryant just shrugged.  She wasn’t wrong—not by a long shot.

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Sixteen – 08

[This post is from Bryant Tapping’s point of view.]

Her hands were deft, her movements certain—she knew what she was doing, he had to give her that.  Bryant could tell that much easily enough.  While he didn’t have his father’s skill or much in the way of training, it was easy to see that she’d been a healer for a long time—perhaps as far back as the end of everything.

She seems like she would be a little young to be like Dad, though.  His lips thinned despite his attempts to keep his expression impassive as he watched the stranger work.  There was something oddly comforting about it, something that if he reflected on it a little more would certainly be less odd.

In her mannerisms and her actions, she did remind him of his father.  It had been so long since he’d seen him, it was enough to make him ache somewhere deep in his chest.

For a second, he closed his eyes.  When he opened them, it was to see her watching him, her expression soft, sympathetic.

His brows knit.  “What?”

“You just seem sadder than you were a moment ago.”

He forced a smile and shook his head.  “It’s nothing.  How is he?”

“I’ll need to mix up a few things to try,” she said.  “Hopefully they’ll help.”

Bryant nodded slowly.  “Have they helped your friends before?”

“A few times,” she said softly.  “But it’s been a long time since I’ve had to mix up any of it, so we’ll see how it goes.”

“But you still have what you need?”

She smiled wistfully.  “Of course I do.  I live in hope.”

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These environs are actually the inspiration for The Valley.
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Photo post in lieu of Monday update.  Wednesday and Friday should be on time.

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