Petra 1: Rock and a Hard Place (Part 5)
Petra 1: Rock and a Hard Place - Part 5
[Note the author does not speak Italian, or any other languages, so apart from a few words here and there all dialog will be in English. You may however presume that it is what ever language you feel comfortable with. Special thanks to Warren for providing taxi ride experiences in Italy, and a bunch of other insanity. (Yes some of it really is his fault! And Maggie for help with Saul.]
“… and the little bear said, ‘Some body slept in my bed too, and they are still there!’“ said Sara’s voice and I felt someone naked snuggle up against me. “Of course in my storybooks that always seemed to lead to a small orgy.”
As a hand slid up to my breasts and tweaked the nipples in turn, I reluctantly opened my eyes and said, “No orgy, cuddle.”
She placed her head against my shoulder and breathed into my ear, “That bad of a day?”
“Make new friends, visit with Gothy, and then get massively embarrassed later on, try to fight a daemon, visit Satan, face the daemon again, end up seeing Satan again.” I shuddered and rolled over to face her as I started to cry as the memories seemed to rise up in me, “I am a wreck,” I said around a second violent shudder.
She pulled me against her and held me for a time as I cried silently, “I am going to see if I can soften those memories some, is that ok?”
“Just the bad stuff,” I said with a sniffle as I lay in her arms.
“Ok, just close your eyes,” she instructed as I seemed to drift back into sleep.
I could tell Sara was angry from the tenseness in her body as I gradually woke up, though it softened as I smiled up at her. “Hi snuggles, feel better?” she asked after she kissed me deeply on the lips.
Taking a mental inventory of things I sighed as I felt my bodies aches loosen and seemingly melt away, “Yes, I think so, but I am still feeling a bit drained.”
“Not surprisingly,” she said as she rolled my on top of her and rested my cheek on her shoulder. “Your body already had a strain on it from your ‘rebirth’, you’ve had two massive healing sessions, not to mention the physical indignities of being impaled on things five times. Add in a nasty dose of shock, and on top of that add in trying to cast spells you have not practiced… So yeah you’ve over done it a bit.”
“Yeah,” I said as I lay there and luxuriated in being with her, “its been a day.”
“I’ll say,” she said as she hugged me, “I think you would have been better off with a magickal sword that talked back to you, than the ring.”
“Hmm?” I asked as I peered at her through half closed eyes.
I felt her shrug softly as she giggled, “My friend Chou has a sentient magickal sword, I think it gets her into as much trouble as your ring does you. However she is able to keep herself intact when fighting a daemon.” She reached up and tweaked my nose gently, “Unlike someone I know.”
“Ok I admit the frontal assault was not the sanest of moves on my part,” I sighed and then added, “or sane at all.”
“Yeah, Satan may have been right though,” she unhappily admitted, “I did apparently miss that.”
“Yeah, but it all likely ended up in me,” I tapped her nose and shrugged, “so Merry won’t have that in her to deal with.”
“Like she needs that to be slightly psychotic,” Sara said as she rolled us to lay side by side. “Anger issues galore, and when you add in the Were virus, its ‘Hello Kitty’ time.”
“I want to see you put a pink bow in her hair when she is half cat,” I said with a giggle.
“I can run faster than she does,” she countered with a smile, “though it might be funny once. Not to mention that one of my other friends would get a kick out of it, as she’s a total Hello Kitty fan.”
“If you do, make sure it is taped and send me a copy, I could use a laugh,” I sighed and lifted my arm to look at the wrist, “bastard.”
“Does it still ache?” she asked as she looked at the faintly pink scars on both sides of my wrist.
“Yeah, slightly. Satan said something about fucking with the clergy,” I looked up from my wrist to her face, “so who knows what is going on.”
“Yeah, so when were you going to tell me about Michelle?” she asked mischievously.
“Am I in trouble?” I asked quickly.
She gave me a thoughtful look, “May-be.” She sternly stared at me for a moment as I inwardly panicked and tried to come up with mollifying words. Though just before I could speak she laughed and said, “Oh you are too easy.”
“You are not angry?” I after she kissed me.
“At you, no. For you getting kissed by a cute girl, no.” She gave me a sly grin, “She is hot though.”
“Yes like someone who is very close to my heart, and my body,” I said as I kissed her.
“I don’t mind if my lovers share their love with others Petra, just as long as they find their way back to me,” she said as she hugged me tightly. “Though I may have to ‘interview’ her, just to see if she is up to my demanding standards.”
“Are you going to tape that too?” I asked as I held her against me.
“Well…” she paused and seemed to consider the idea, “I am not exactly a prude.”
“I was joking,” I said quickly.
“You were?” she smirked at me as she shook her head slightly, “That’s not what your body is saying.”
Physically she was right so I said, “The flesh may be willing Sara, but the spirit as been beat to hell, literally.”
She smiled softly, “I know and I’ll have to have a talk with my father and likely Satan about it. But for now, just lay back and let me see if I can rouse your spirits.”
Michelle looked down to her lap where Petra softly moaned and then she moved a hair our of her face. “Someone seems to be dreaming,” she said with a smile.
“Yes but something about her says that it is not nightmare,” said the Signora with a smile.
The Matron leaned back to look over the seat, then she looked at the two ladies there, “I see.”
The Signora reached over and swatted Michelle’s hand as it tried to lift the sheet, “No peeking.”
“It’s not like we have not seen it before…” said Rose as she tried to peer into the mirror.
“Just because we are in a fertility religion it doesn’t mean we get to pollinate the poesies at whim,” said the Signora firmly. “No matter how sweet the flower may smell or how large its stamens or how tempting the pistil, it is impolite to pick them without asking their gardener.”
“Only you would make garden courtesy into a sexual innuendo,” said the Matron as she sighed dramatically.
“Hey I stopped short of adding, ‘nor sampling its nectar uninvited,” protested the Signora with a smile.
“Well you we certainly buzzing around ‘that’ flower long enough,” countered the Matron.
“Oh no here we go,” said Rose with a soft giggle, “we go from flowers, to bees, the taste of honey, how sticky it is, how well the Meade warms a body… The next thing you know we are talking openly about sex.”
“Well now we can cut right to the chase,” said the Matron with a bright laugh.
“I don’t think we can get it on in this car,” said Michelle with a smile.
“No, and my bones won’t handle that position like they used to,” complained the Signora good naturedly.
“Well then it seems we are stuck with just talking about it then,” said Rose as she cast a look at Michelle in the mirror. “So Michelle, any preferences?”
Blinking quickly Michelle turned her face to the window, “Good looking, with a pulse, can speak in complete sentences, willing… no not much of a preference.”
“Male or female?” asked the Matron with a sidelong glance to Rose.
“Yes,” said Michelle as she steadfastly studied her reflection in the night darkened glass.
The Signora chuckled and reached forward to poke Rose, “There is no such thing as chance.”
Michelle looked toward Rose noting the darker flush of her face in the lights of the dashboard, “So which part of the flower do you drink from Rose?”
“I, ah umm… I’m dr-I-ving,” Rose stammered out as she studied the road intently.
“Why Michelle, I didn’t know that you were a gardener too,” teased the Signora with a laugh.
I found myself awakening with my head in Michelle’s lap and to the sound of laughter. Also that I was still nude but wrapped almost burrito-like in a sheet similar to the one I wore to be ‘measured’ in. As Michelle helped me to extricate my arms it was with an ensuing wardrobe malfunction, so I said with a much put upon sigh, “You just like to see me naked.”
“So what flower would you be?” asked the Matron from the front seat with a laugh.
“Perhaps an Iris,” suggested Rose with a giggle from the front seat as she drove, “as they do have large stamen.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked as I tried to make myself more comfortable and remain covered.
“Flowers and sex,” said the Signora with a smile, “natural things.”
“Oh, I don’t know much about flowers,” I admitted with a shrug.
“How much do you know about sex?” asked the Signora with a serious expression on her face.
“My, ah, goddess believes it is, um, healthy; if not expected from her followers,” I said as I tried not to blush too hard.
“Ah, and how many lovers had you had,” asked the Matron curiously.
“Just one,” I said with a tingle that crept up from my groin to my face in a heated rush, “but she is rather special.”
“Out of curiosity Petra, what is the name you know your goddess by?” asked the Signora as she studied my face intently.
“Oh, well most of her followers only know her as Kellith,” I sighed and sat back against the seat, “I call her Sara, ‘sexy’ or ‘you tease,’ and a bunch of other silly names as the mood strikes me... occasionally I call her a brat.”
“So you know your goddess on intimate terms?” asked Rose from as she turned the car up a dark lane.
“Intimate… yes that is a good term for it,” I said as know that I flushed completely.
“I think I may be jealous,” said Michelle as she looked at me then at the others, “do you see how she is blushing?”
“Don’t worry, I suspect she will find a way to meet you all,” I said and then I turned to give Michelle a very direct look, “I think she very is curious about you.”
“Kellith, as in the daughter of Gothmog the Egyptian fertility god?” asked the Matron as her eyes widened slightly.
“I’m not sure about Egyptian, but I am fairly sure he likes fertility rites,” I paused and then said in what felt like an amused voice, “and the members of fertility religions.”
“You know of Gothmog?” asked the Signora softly.
“Well yeah, nice being, has all sorts of extra limbs and likes to flirt with all the ladies,” I looked at them as they stared at me, “I think he was only married once, but his wife died in childbirth, with only one child, Kellith.”
“And you have met Kellith in the flesh?” asked the Signora carefully.
“Yes, but I’m not her high priestess, that’s my sisters job,” I explained as she looked at me oddly.
“Your sister’s job?” asked Rose as we stopped inside of lighted garage.
“It has its perks and downers though,” I said as she turned off the car.
“Oh?” asked the Signora. “Such as?”
“People trying to use her to influence Sara, getting your arm chopped off, becoming a Were-Cougar, maybe a few odd other bits, and the usual stuff,” I explained with a shrug. “I think she got the easier job, when it comes down to how the universe shakes things up and down.”
“Why is that?” asked Michelle in a disbelieving tone of voice.
“Satan isn’t using her as his bitch any more,” I said with a sigh, “and with luck never again.”
We were in the large mansion for all of ten minutes before the same feeling of dread from before the daemon attacked started to fill me. “I hate to say this but I think a daemon is coming again.”
“Well it can’t get into the house, it is consecrated and it gets blessed on almost a weekly basis,” said the Signora with a dismissing wave of her hands.
“I’ll go stir up the house shields in any case,” said Rose as she darted deeper into the house past everyone.
As the feeling of dread got stronger, my stomach started to roil and my mouth dried up. “Not again,” I protested as I started looking for the spikes.
“Come, we will go deeper into the house,” said the Signora as the Matron eased her arm around me.
“Yes, you have done enough for the day child,” said the Matron as she pulled me along, “even my husband Winfred needed to take a few days off between daemons. He said they gave him the cobbly-wobbles something fierce for a few days afterwards.”
“Oh?” I asked uncertainly.
“You got the full brunt of it child, it actually struck and injured you, if the dark blue on your body was blood,” said the Signora as she took a hold of my other arm. “Direct physical contact with a daemon can afflict the spirit and it certainly can play merry hell with a persons mental equilibrium.”
“Yeah, my blood is blue, it glows in the dark too when it is not dry,” I said as the lead me along and deeper into the house.
“And the red blood?” asked Michelle as she walked behind us. “Is that yours too?”
“Nope, I am not exactly whose it is, though supposedly it can turn water into wine and bless it,” I said as I looked quickly toward the roar of frustration coming from outside the house.
“It cannot get in Petra,” said the Signora a calm voice, “it is firmly stuck outside.” She paused and pulled open a door that opened into a room that wreaked of odd incenses and flowers, “And I assure you that even if it could get into the house, there is no way it could enter into this room without bursting into ash.”
“Which is what your spell did to it at the tea house,” said the Matron with a small laugh, “I will admit that caught me by surprise, its not something I would have thought of doing.”
“I um, got lucky…” I said as I moved deeper into that room, “I was freaked and it was the first thing that popped into my mouth.”
“There is no such thing as chance,” said the Signora with a chuckle, “and luck often is a mixture of preparation and circumstance.”
“Which is why the casinos only let her play penny or nickel slots,” said Rose as she entered the room and walked to the altar.
“Oh? And why is that?” asked Michelle as Rose started to light candles there.
“The Signora has too many happy circumstances,” said the Matron while shaking her head, “any machine she touches vomits coins on a single pull.”
The Signora opened a closet door and removed a few large cushions and tossed them to the floor, and then removed a few afghans and passed them out. “We may as well wait for dawn here, just to be on the safe side and to not give the daemon ideas about breaking windows to annoy us.”
“Can it get in through the windows if they break?” I asked nervously.
“No, but it likely would try to do so a few times before it tried to throw something larger,” the Matron took an afghan and draped it over me, “there you are, almost properly dressed for circle.”
“Pull up a cushion girls, we may as well spend the time productively,” said the Signora as she pulled a large book from off of the altar and sat down, “since daemons seem to be the order of the night, we should review things that make them go away.”
Tuesday, 28 November 2006
“Ok sleepy head rise and greet the day,” said an unfamiliar voice that caused me to grasp the dagger I had slept with.
“Ah, who are you,” I asked as the lady seemed to be laying out clothing for me.
“I am Yoconda, I serve as the Signora’s chamberlain taking care of the household, and other bits and pieces as needed,” she explained with a soft smile. “Such as stirring guests from slumber, and so on.”
“Hi,” I said as I eased the dagger out from under the sheet and set it on a night stand and eased upright. I paused to give her an apologetic smile, “I had a rough night.”
“So I have heard, you are Petra correct?” she asked calmly as she approached the bed where I sat.
“Yes, on most days,” I said as my stomach rumbled its status.
“The Signora requests your presence shortly for a late brunch,” she paused and then said, “with luck some of my daughters clothes should suit you.”
I gave the night shirt the Signora loaned me that read ‘I pray to Joe Peshi’ a quick glance. I didn’t understand the joke it implied so the Signora had promised to show me a few DVD’s of some comedian that I barely recognized the name of. “I don’t suppose this is day wear is it?”
“No,” she agreed with a smile, “typically the Signora believes in dressy but not formal clothing for most days. Casual clothing after the evening meal and on Saturday and Sundays where no functions are expected, is the norm.”
I watched as she set out a comb and brush at a mirrored table, “So Jeans and t-shirts are?”
“Distinctly casual, unless there is gardening to be done.” She said with a smile, “While there is a gardener who tends the grounds and such, the Signora has a large herb garden that she helps tend with other ladies.” She paused and then added with a pained smile, “Do not pull weeds in there unless you have been instructed in the difference between a weed and a herb… Unless you care for a year long course of college level botany?”
I blinked at that pronunciation and shook my head, “No thank you, I will pass on that.”
“Most try to,” she said with a smile, “I will inform the others that you are awake and alert.”
“Awake yes,” I said with a yawn, “alert may take some doing.”
“The others share your complaint, so I suspect it is so,” she said with a node before exiting the room and closing the door gently.
Holding my arms up before me I moaned and moved woodenly towards the table where the others were gathered. “Brains… brains… fooooood…” I moaned along as I lurched closer. As my theatrics were seemingly appreciated I let my arms drop to my sides, “Morning, all.”
“Come child sit,” said the Signora as she indicated a seat opposite of the Matron.
I walked around the long table and took the seat she indicated, idly counting the twenty place settings as I did so. “This house is immense,” I said as I sat down carefully.
“The summer house is larger, but this is home,” said the Signora with a nod.
“Brunch is coming,” said a neatly dressed man as he stepped to stand next to the Signora.
“Stephen, this is Petra, Petra this is Stephen, he occasionally manages the other youths that abide here now and again, and keeps things orderly,” said the Matron with a fond glance at him.
“It is a pleasure to meet you miss,” he said with a polite nod.
“Thank you sir,” I replied since it was seemingly expected.
“While we are not sure exactly what Petra’s superiors will say,” the Signora gave an amused shrug, “I am fairly confidant Petra will be allowed to study with us.”
I blinked and then suppressed a sigh as the contact in my left eye slipped, “I suspect they will say a lot of things.” I then worked through the steps required to center the contact back in place.
“Yes, that is likely true,” said the Matron as she pointed to the odd table decoration, “though we do have an interesting bargaining point.”
Giving the three spikes that rested on a white satin cloth a glance, and I briefly wondered how far in tongue-in-cheek the Matron was punning. “Yeah, I can see that,” I said after I glanced away.
“So she will require permanent quarters then?” asked Stephen with a small nod.
“Yes, though you will have a few days to achieve that Stephen.” The Signora said with a small look of annoyance, “The current situation requires us to move Petra to the Lodge a few days to work on magicks.”
“I see, and the usual gatherings?” he asked as he seemingly reordered things in his head.
“I think the evenings past events do require a few adjustments,” stated the Signora as food was brought in and placed upon the table. “But first we eat.”
Vicinity of Alban Lake, Italy
Long trips by car have never been something I enjoy, so I did my utmost to sleep during the one that brought us into the depths of a forest. Six hours or so in a car, plus stops for food and such made getting there a time devourer. By the clock on my cell phone it was nearly seven and dusk was quick approaching. Evidently the Signora was expected as we were greeted at the door by a couple of ladies who then ushered us inside.
Helping to get the bags in took a few trips, of which gave me time to appreciate the immense stone and log building. The Lodge seemed to be sectioned into thirds, with a large round room in the center of it. We were the only occupants of one of the thirds, well apart from them members of a small staff. The Signora was quartered on the lower level of our third, as was the Matron and some of the staff. Michelle, Rose and I were ensconced in three small rooms that adjoined a larger common room.
Sinking into a couch and closing my eyes for a moment, I felt a small but unpleasant itching sensation that seemed to burn in the distance. As it seemed to trigger an unpleasant shudder in the pit of my stomach I opened my eyes and got up to go back downstairs. Finding the Signora seemingly in an argument relating to the use of the large circle, I waited a long moment as the itch persisted and the discussion rose slightly in volume.
“Excuse me,” I said and waited for what seemed like a long moment, then I repeated myself. Twice. Finally when it seemed that politely trying to get their attention was not going to work, in my agitation I shouted, “EXCUSE ME!” Being that I was irritated I also inadvertently blew the lights out as well, ok so it wasn’t exactly inadvertent.
“What is it child?” asked the Signora as she seemed to suppress a smile.
“I think a daemon is on its way here,” I said as a small shudder passed through me eliciting a few sparks that arced in the air around me before dissipating.
“It cannot get to you here Petra,” said the Signora in a soothing tone as people eased back from me, “please take a moment and calm yourself.”
Taking several deep breaths I managed to relax to where I wasn’t giving off sparks, “I’m sorry, I’m still rattled I guess, and I can ‘feel’ it. Its an burning itch I can’t get at and I feel it getting stronger or closer.”
“If it is coming from Rome it has to cross six hundred miles Petra,” said Rose as she and Michelle joined us.
“Rose, be a dear and request a calming tea for Petra from the cook,” said the Matron as she walked to stand next to me, “I will tend to Petra, Signora.”
The Signora nodded as the electric lights came back on, she then gravely nodded towards me with a soft smile, “Thank you for the warning Petra, we had been discussing preparations for such things.”
“You are welcome,” I said with a sigh as I turned away.
“Come Petra, a good hot cup of tea will do wonders for your nerves,” said the Matron as she touched my foot with her cane.
I gave her a dubious look and said, “I can hope so.”
“If not I can send you into sleep again,” she said with a soft chuckle, “at least one of us will get some rest that way.”
“I really didn’t want to be rude,” I said with a sigh as another tremor wound through me.
She laughed as we turned a corner, “I think the Signora welcomed your interruption and electrifying presence; as it gave the others pause and her a moment to actually think.”
“Well they didn’t run away from me in fear,” I said after a moment.
“Child I dare say you gave them a start, once those biddy’s get their dander up it takes an act of deity to shut them up until they have run down,” the Matron cackled as we went into the first floor common room. “Technically time in the Grand Circle is scheduled nigh unto death, unless you can demonstrate a great need, it is hard to budge that schedule.”
Looking at her, I felt my face screw up in a frown, “And daemons are hardly sufficient reasons to bump things?”
She shrugged as she guided me to a couch and then sat down herself, “Daemons of themselves are not a threat here, but when you couple daemons with an untrained craft wielder, and with things such as they are in Rome…”
“But my sparking wasn’t magick,” I protested with a sigh, “that was me being irritated and freaked at the same time.”
“That is not exactly true,” said the Matron as she set her cane to one side and turned to face me, “we believe that there is a little bit of magick in every action, every thought and every object. Now take a person such as yourself, you are goddess marked, and carry within your flesh and on your finger relics of power.”
I rubbed my wrists and then my feet as they ached slightly, “Ok I can see that much,” I admitted.
“Then when I tested you, you were able to call light,” she chuckled softly and then said, “and then counter it with darkness.”
“I am not sure I was actually doing magick, it may just be that I accessed something from within the ring,” I said with a shake of my head as I tried to suppress the burning itching sensation that I was certain was a daemons presence.
She laughed softly as Rose walked in carrying a cup of something on a tray, “Child consider this point of view: You used a ritual phrase, focusing your will upon it, and achieved an effect. By most anyone’s standards ‘you’ did magic, its source doesn’t matter, it was subject to your will and intent. Now if the source used you, you would be the tool or instrument of that power. Can you say the ring or power uses you that way?”
Remembering the time in ARC where we were forced to heal everyone that was wounded in the escape, I spoke. “Well I think it has worked that way once, I was forced to heal people who had been injured.”
“You did say something of that nature to the twins,” said the Signora with a nod, “would you be forced to heal them if you had hurt them?”
“I don’t know and since I have no desire what so ever to visit Satan if I can avoid it…” I attempted to take a sip of the tea and nearly scalded my tongue. “For good reason, I planned on zapping them rather than say, breaking their legs if I had to resort to violence.”
“Would you be forced to heal a murderer?” asked Rose as she sat next to me on the arm of the couch.
Memories of John’s death briefly crawled to the surface before I pushed them back down, “No, I don’t think so, it hasn’t come up since I went though my testing, so I am not sure.”
“Knights can kill if they need to, so I suspect you don’t have to fear from killing someone who needed it.” The Matron shrugged and pointed to my cup, “You should drink.”
Managing to do so, I nearly spat it back into the cup and my expression must have spoke volumes as I choked that sip down. “Yes it tastes horrid doesn’t it?” asked Rose with a giggle. “Though it should calm you down.”
“It won’t kill you,” said Michelle as she wandered down the stairs and into the lower common room, “it just tastes like it could.”
“Ugh, you don’t say?” I said as I attempted to take another sip.
“So child, do you have the Sight yet? Are you able to see magick that is?” asked the Matron after a pause.
“I don’t think so, my eyes are different than most, they say I see into the electromagnetic spectrum.” I pointed to the walls, “I can see exactly where power lines run to connect to the wall sockets for example.”
“What about astral travel, that is do you leave your body and visit a different place?” asked Michelle as she snuggled up next to me.
“Well I do something like that,” I admitted with a small shrug, “but it takes a computer, electricity and access to the Internet; but not a physical connection to the Internet.”
“Like the William Gibson stories or?” asked Rose with a curious smile.
“More like Jobe from the ‘Lawnmower man’ or Flynn from ‘Tron.’ Though I leave my body in wherever I depart from,” I shrugged as they all seemed to nod.
“That sounds like a form of astral travel to me,” said the Matron with a chuckle, “just a different plane.”
“Wait, can you affect things while you are there?” asked Michelle then she shook her head. “No of course you can affect things there, how else does a sixteen year old kid get a platinum credit card with no set limit?”
Managing to choke down a sip I nodded at her and the Matron shook her head, “You are not stealing the money are you?”
“No, but I could. It is not exactly a challenge for me to just move numbers round at a whim,” I said as a warm fuzzy feeling started to crawl outwards from my stomach.
“That’s good, it means I can spare you the lecture of the Threefold Laws of Returns just now,” said the Matron with a chuckle.
“Just how much money do you have,” asked Michelle with a curious expression on her face, “if its not to nosey a question?”
I made a quick mental review that seemed to take a bit longer as my thoughts seemed to fuzz out slightly, “Well depending on the markets, I think I was nearing five hundred million in the banks. With maybe another two to three hundred million scattered in stocks, bonds, money market exchanges and so on.”
“Impressive, I would like to see your portfolio some time,” said Rose with a smile.
Taking another sip of that god awful tea my eyes seemed to lose track and cross slightly, “Port-a-what-a-hoolio?”
“Portfolio, a structured format and plan in which you keep track of your stocks, bonds and things,” explained the Matron with a bland look, I think, in my direction.
Blankly I looked at them for a moment, “Oh? Is having one useful?”
“Is having one useful? Useful she asks?” said Rose with a groan of annoyance, “someone has seriously been ignoring your education.”
“… they just kick me inta da deep end and ‘pect me to swimz,” I mumbled with a sigh as I snuggled up against Michelle, “traning, what training, bastards.” I was dimly aware of someone rescuing my tea cup and shaking me gently after that, and then I forgot where I was for a while.
“I think the Signora meant to have Petra calmer and conscious,” said the Matron as she eased back an eyelid to look in Petra’s eye, “not rendered unconscious.”
“Herbs don’t usually pack that much of punch,” protested Rose quickly as she sampled the cups contents, “its strong but not ‘that’ strong.”
“Well she does eat enough for four people when she eats,” observed Michelle as she glanced at the sleeping girl, “maybe her digestion is too efficient?”
“That is possible,” said the Matron with a soft laugh, “I can see that tomorrow will be interesting.”
“How so?” asked Michelle she eased Petra gently to the couch cushions.
“Well we have to open her magical eyes, start the three of you to weaving your belts and making charms,” the Matron said as she stood up, “and then we have to figure out what you two know and don’t know, and mesh that with what Rose knows. Then map out your education and training, along with other bits.”
Wednesday, 29 November, 2006.
My entry into the large communal dinning hall was to mixed looks of amusement and sympathy, not to mention a few that looked annoyed. Rose steered me to a table where the Signora, and the others were sitting along with several other older ladies. Breakfast was well underway it seemed, as the tables were laden things that more than tempted my eyes and my stomach gave a loud rumble of eagerness.
“Good morning Signora,” I offered as I sat down near her.
“Good morning child,” chorused two other ladies in harmony with the Signora, of which prompted a round of chuckles.
Looking at the two other elderly ladies and back to the Signora I frowned slightly in confusion, “There are more than one Signoras?”
“Yes child,” said ‘my’ Signora, “I suspect we should abandon excessive formality for the moment, if only to not stumble all over all over ourselves. I am Esta La Vorhis, child, and I am barely senior to these spring chickens.”
“Spring was a long, long time ago,” countered the more heavyset of the two other ladies, “I am Tessa De Luca.”
“Spring, bah. I would be happy to revisit Summer,” said the other who seemed slightly familiar, though that could have been her long red hair. “I am Flora Romano, child and you are?”
“I am Petra Donner, a pleasure to meet you both,” I said as a plate loaded with food was placed before me.
“So this is your newest foundling?” asked Tessa as she studied me from over her granny glasses.
“Another happy chance meeting?” asked Flora with an exaggerated roll of her eyes.
“Something like that,” said the Signora as she liberally spread jam over her slice of toast.
“I am not sure I am that much of a find,” I said after a forkful of eggs.
“A diamond in the rough,” countered the Signora as she pointed her toast at me.
“Angie was caught flat footed last night,” Tessa paused and gave me a thoughtful seeming look, “she was working a group through examples of ritual cleansing after her circle, when your nightingale woke up and resanctified the Lodge.”
“Oh? Wasn’t she in a circle?” asked the Signora with a frown.
“She was, but she and her class were all looking with their other-eyes when it happened.” Tessa chuckled and took a sip from her cup, “It rung their bells a bit, though Angie recovered her aplomb quickly enough to point out that is why they worked ‘inside’ of a circle.”
“So the lessons learned were not entirely the lessons taught,” the Signora said with a small shrug, “more than likely one of her students needed it or it would not have occurred.”
“Sorry,” I muttered as my face darkened with a blush.
“Child instinctive casting of something like that spell is not a bad thing,” interjected Flora with a laugh as she thumped the table wither mug, “its when you cast destructive magicks instinctively that you start to have problems.”
“Yes. Goddess, I remember the time Gerard’s youngest was forced to live in a tent for a season because she kept summoning frogs in her sleep,” the Signora shook her head with a frown, “I told them not to place the girl in a public school while they moved.”
“What, a frog daemon got to her?” I asked as I refilled my plate with food.
“Of a sort, boys will be boys,” the Signora said with a grimace. “They were dissecting frogs and the proctor had stepped out to quell a playground disturbance. By the time he returned there were frogs and frog guts all over the place, but mostly over the girls, and down a few dresses.”
“Eww,” I said in distaste as I relived the smell and feel of those type of frogs.
“Fortunately they do not dissect snakes in public schools,” said Tessa with a shudder.
“But how is a frog disruptive?” I asked with a frown.
“She summoned ‘preserved’ frogs and they tended to come alive on arrival,” the Signora shook her head with a sigh, “an odd mixture of conjuration and necromancy.”
“Gross,” said Chaddy as he co-opted my voice for moment.
“Yes, and it tended to muck with the resonant energies of the area stirring all sorts of chaos up.” The Signora smiled at me and said, “So you see, your blasting a place with blessings or mass sanctifying an area is much easier to deal with in comparison.”
“I suppose fireballs are not on the curriculum yet?” I asked as I moved a few oranges to my plate and started to peel them.
“No,” firmly said the three ladies in unison, then the Signora said, “Books, blessings and banishings are the needful B’s, blasting can wait.”
“The seeing, and sensing, of the S’s” chimed in Tessa as she studied me and then said, “along with sigils, since the child is facing someone who uses them liberally.”
“Recovering, recalling and recording,” firmly insisted Flora as she looked at the other two, “getting all the details down will allow us to plan effectively.”
“And that makes nine,” said the Signora with a smile, “three days should give us enough time to find her strengths.” She stopped and looked at me, “It will not make you a novice of the Craft, but in three days we can open your eyes and senses up, which will give you a few small tools to work with.”
“It also will make things a bit more risky for you,” said Tessa with a tap of her fork on her plate, “magickal sensory overload, the confusion from seeing things as there are or are not.”
“Then there is temptation,” said Tessa with a pointed finger at me, “success with small magicks leads to wanting to try more and more complex magicks. We’ve seen it time and time again, someone new to the Craft learns a few things and in the elation of success goes beyond their abilities; usually leading to disaster, the ‘Magician’s Apprentice’ is a cautionary tale dressed as a fable.”
“Usually we create a Triune such as yours from older experienced students, but you were plunged into that role by the Knights and the current situation,” said the Signora as she looked from Rose to Michelle and then back to me. “We will just have muddle along as best we can, won’t we?”
“Yes Signora’s,” I said as I glanced at Michelle and Rose.
“Over under, over under, over under and now to tie it off,” I said as I held up my completed ritual belt. “Done.”
Michelle made a rude noise in my direction, and Rose came over to look at my belt, “Very nice, nice tight knots too… how many strands are you sitting on?”
I stood up and looked down only to grimace, “Um two,” I said with a groan.
Rose bopped me on the head and said in a faux Chinese accent, “Sensei say, do again.”
“It is supposed to be a sigil that counters fire,” I said as I watched it burn.
“This is why we draw the sigils in sand, but the top squiggle there… “ the lady used a stick to circle above the squiggle in question, “is supposed to be inside the triangle.”
“But I ran out of room,” I protested in annoyance as she brushed it out of existence.
“Use a smaller stick,” advised Michelle with a giggle.
“Over under, over under, … umm yeah,” I stopped and started to undo it.
“What happened this time?” asked Michelle with a quirk of a smile.
“I somehow braided my start into the middle,” I held it up with a frown to show her.
“It would make a nice choker,” observed Rose with a giggle, “sensei says…”
“Do again, yeah I know,” I shook my head and continued undoing the knots.
Sitting up slowly I gave the giggling pack of girls a foul look before glaring at the instructor. “Ow,” I said as I rubbed the back of my head gingerly.
There was a the sound of rustling cloth behind me and I turned to see a small horde of women staring into the training room. Slowly they parted and the Matron walked to the front with a questioning look on her face.
“Don’t look at me,” I said as I motioned to the class and its teacher, “all the rest of the kids got flowers, apples, toys and so on as their test. But not me, oh no.”
“What did you get,” asked the Matron quietly.
“A fukmmm, ah shimmmm, a daemon,” I said as I tried to edit out the curse words that were in my head begging to be used. I gave the lady who was teaching me how to use the sight a dirty look, “Right. I know it was to test if I could actually use the sight, but come on!”
“Please explain your reasoning,” said the Matron as she looked at the instructor.
“Well she didn’t seem to be paying attention or trying that hard,” she explained with a small shrug. “I do it will all my students that act that way. It keeps them on their toes.”
“But I ‘was’ paying attention, but geeze, its like looking into a damned search light everywhere I use the sight,” I said in disgust as I waved to indicate the Lodge in general.
“Oh,” said the Matron with a sigh, “well at least you bless rather than blast when startled. She looked at the instructor, “I hope you are working on fine tuning next?”
“Yes now that everyone seems to be paying attention,” she gave me an less than apologetic look and then nodded to the Matron.
“Wonderful,” I muttered as I rubbed my temples.
“Over under… ah hell.”
“Smelling salts, smelling salts, ah here we go…”
“… ow my head.”
“It was ‘just’ willow bark tea to ease the pain, with a bit of chamomile and honey to ease the bitterness and relax her…” Rose stopped and then sighed, “so much for using ready mixed stuff off of the pantry shelf.”
“I never saw anyone react to them so well,” admitted Michelle with a shrug, “maybe half strength next time?”
“I guess. It is not like the rest will hurt her,” Rose said with an answering shrug.
Nodding Michelle picked up the thick book again, “Did she succeed with her belt yet?”
Rose picked up the ritual belt Petra had been attempting before she conked out, and shook her head before starting to undo it. “We may have to hold her hands and go step by step to get her to finish her belt,” she pronounced gravely.
Michelle giggled and then said, “Sensei says do again?”
Dinnertime arrived about twenty minutes after my unplanned nap ended. Which to my thinking was a welcome break from intro to mystical weirdness ‘point oh-two-five,’ which is to say I wasn’t getting even the full introductionary course. No I was getting the ‘how to study course’ along with the toy wand and the primary alphabet book; you know the type. A is for Athame. B is for Boshetto. C is for Circle, that sort of book.
Oh and then there was the ‘opening your mystical senses,’ and ‘this is a sigil’ portions of my day. Sigils were kinda of fun, take this squiggle which represents that, combine it with a channel, add a few other squiggles for intent and such, and push power into it… Boom. It was one of those classes where no one sits to close to each other, and it was only slightly relieving that I was not the only one who achieved pyrotechnics. Though I was the only one who needed smelling salts that hour, mystical energy battery is not the same as electrical battery… this is an important fact.
Opening the mystical senses, ok, the instructor is a bitch. Her take on the subject is first we open you all the way up, make sure you are seeing things and then teach you how to crank it back down to a useable level. Mystic sight, it sounds great in theory, but they don’t start off with ‘Mystical Sunglasses for Dummies.’ No, they start off with a kick-start spell, and a rock, the spell is fairly easy, and it kind of sticks in your head, the rock is basically a magically ‘zapped’ rock with some left over ‘zing’ to it. You recite the spell a few dozen times or until you can see the rock glow, simple right?”
Of course it sounds simple, but what they neglect to tell you is that it is like sticking a stick of dynamite into an overfull dam and lighting it. Sure you may get small little streams at first as the cracks run wild, but after a bit hydraulic pressure just ‘pops’ it all to hell. Of course about that time you want to be out of the water, which is where it metaphorically falls apart. Magically speaking the dam wasn’t keeping you from spilling out, but everything else from spilling in.
Then there evidently is a magical scale of proportion to seeing things, the more oomph you have, the more you can see. I think the only one in my class at the time other than the instructor who is up there in power with me is little Suzy Giuseppe, age six. Supposedly the younger you are when you ‘break out’ magically, the stronger you will end up; if that is the case I don’t envy her in the slightest. Well except from her being able to tell the instructor she is a ‘big fat meanie’ and get away with it, that I envied her for. Though it could have been time for her nap, well that’s what her very embarrassed mother said.
Opening the other mystical senses were supposedly part of tomorrow’s block of instruction. Which from what the instructor said it was going to be a game of mystical ‘blind mans bluff’ or ‘hide and seek.’ Yeah I was in ‘that sort of classes,’ which may have been slightly unfair to the instructor given that Suzy and I were at the extreme opposites of age, compared to the rest of students in that class.
“You look like something the cat threw up,” commented Michelle as she indicated a seat next to hers.
“That good?” I mumbled as I lowered myself gingerly into it.
“Well if it is any consolation, there is a spirited and lively debate raging as to if you are gifted, and if so how strongly. Or if you just have access to a lot of power and a key that allows you to unlock and use it,” said Rose with a roll of her eyes. “Cart before the horse kind of crap.”
“Well if it giving them the same sort of headaches I am getting, they are welcome to it,” I said and with a glance at the butter, gave a sigh of disgust. “Rose, could you tell me if the butter is bad or if I am just seeing crap?”
She laughed and then said, “It is just you I suspect,” she paused to lift it up and smell it, “it smells ok.”
“Joy,” I said sourly and worked through the little mantra that was supposed to help ‘untune’ seeing that.
“I remember dealing with that, it took me a month before I could eat yogurt without turning green,” said Michelle with a sigh, “I gained ten pounds as it threw me way off of my diet.”
“I nearly turned vegan myself,” admitted Rose as she lifted a large portion of roast beef onto her plate, “thank the goddess it was a temporary thing.” She then held the platter of roast beef in my direction as if to pass it to me.
I gave the tray of roast beef she was passing in my direction a look and made a quick retreat from the table nearly over tuning my chair in the process. Then I made the universal ‘I am about to puke’ expression while covering my mouth with a hand, after which I bolted for the bathroom. I made it too, just.
Vomiting, while it is a natural function of the body, will never rank high on my list of ‘more fun’ bodily functions. Vomiting with dry heaves, ranks right about the utter bottom of the list. Vomiting with dry heaves and while you are wide open with the sight, is dead last. I determined this very important ranking as I got the sensory triple whammy of dead meat, vomit and of course toilet bowl bacterium via the sight in the process of the same actions.
I also understood with perfect clarity why Rose nearly was a vegan, it was not that the meat was bad. But that the ‘life’ in it was decaying away very rapidly, at least that was the rationalization that was in my head, as I tried to bring my magickal vision back under control. The biologic processes of my stomach and the toilet were of course, just the crowning glory of the moment.
While I didn’t crawl out of the bathroom, part of me wanted to, but then I had a hurried glance at the floor and thus decided I did not want to see it from that proximity. Instead I elected for a point of view that was firmly fixed on an imaginary horizon and stuck to it. For all intents and purposes, the floor was there, the tables were there, but I was not even tempted to look down.
“I’ve seen that look before in a mirror,” said Rose as she appeared at my side, “let me guess, you can’t think of even looking down or you might puke?”
I think my voice had shrunk a few years as I said, “Yes,” in a very small voice.
“Come on, let us get you out of here then,” she said as she pulled slightly on my arm. “You are not the only one who gets this way.” She patted my shoulder as she steered me around an obstacle, “It will pass as your control improves.”
“… lovely,” I heard myself say as we entered a corridor.
“We really need more time than just a few days for your training,” she added after a moment, “the exercises you need are rather intensive, and most of the kids in the class with you will be working on them day in and day out for several months.”
“Where as I get to play catch up?” I asked woodenly.
“Oh its not that bad,” she poked me in the arm and said, “you will see.”
As the hallway gave way to the more familiar lower common area I relaxed enough to feel my stomach unclench. “Oh good, so I’ll have years of it rather than months?”
“No silly, its not difficult to master, but daily practice will eventually turn it into a subconscious reflex,” she released my arm and snapped her fingers, “it’ll be a piece of cake after that.”
“Great, I’ll just starve until I get the hang of it?” I asked as my stomach issued a different form of complaint.
“No, but you may be stuck with fruits, nuts, breads and such for a time.” She shrugged and then said, “Supposedly it is due to the fact that they ‘decay’ or lose energy at a much slower rate. At least that is one thought on the subject.”
“And the other?” I asked with ill humor.
“It’s a cosmic trade off for all the junk food and crap we eat,” she rolled her eyes, “personally I think that it is the Vegan’s Revenge for all of us who inflict beef eating and stuff in their proximity.”
“If that is the case I plan on eating rare prime rib right next to one, when I recover that is,” I said with a faint smile.
“That’s the spirit, I’ll see if I can find you some peanut butter sandwiches, and water. Since that was all I could tolerate for a few days after I had my ‘eyes opened.’” She rolled her eyes as she pointed at a chair, “In the mean time, sit and review the closing mantra.”
“Yes sensei,” I muttered in her direction as I closed my eyes to do just that.
After a very bland but edible meal I found myself chatting with Father Rico on the phone, relating the past days events, “So you see its just been one happy moment after another.”
“Well it is not like you don’t need the training, such as it is,” he said with a laugh.
“Yeah, but I feel like I am letting everyone down by being stuck out here,” I said after a moment.
“Nonsense, since our opponent has shifted to direct attacks on you, your being further away likely forces them to expend a great deal of energy.” He sighed and seemed to think, “In a few days the Pope will be on his way back to Rome, we think we are looking on an escalation between now and then.”
“Trying to take out the Pope before he returns to Rome or what?” I asked as I tired to come up with goals for our mystery enemy.
“Or trying to take you out, frankly I suspect a bit of both, since you are the only functional Knight in proximity.” He paused and chuckled, “They did locate Father Pete.”
“Oh good! Is he ok?” I asked quickly feeling a bit happier.
Father Rico laughed heartily, “Yes, they found him in an Irish Pub signing folk songs, evidently he is quite good at them.”
“Does he remember…?” I paused and tried to think of something else to say.
“He doesn’t remember anyone of the Order, but he does seem to think you are a his niece and that you are in America,” Father Rico sounded both amused and exasperated. “Evidently he is having a very good time as well.”
“Well alive and singing folk songs is better than dead or in the hospital,” I said with a smile.
“There is that, there is that. NEXT has people watching him and seeding his tip jar, so he is not hurting or lacking for protection.” Father Rico coughed and then said, “I hate colds.”
“And the quick cure is not on you list of things to do?” I asked with sympathy.
“Oh hell no, not even,” he said with a sigh, “it does make my language slip a bit though.”
“Be safe Father Rico, I am getting the ‘get back to work’ glare,” I said as Rose held up her own belt with a wiggle at me.
“Go with God, Petra.”
“What?” I asked as I picked up the dreaded mass of cords again after hanging up and found myself looking into the silly grins on Rose and Michelle’s faces.
“We have decided that while it is amusing to watch you sabotage your efforts time and again, that it is not productive,” said Michelle with a grin as she dropped to sit next to me on the couch.
“What do you mean sabotage?” I asked as I tried to sort out the cords.
“We have noticed that there are times when your facial expression changes, and your aura changes as well,” said Rose with a faint frown. “It’s like some other part of you takes control and suddenly your fingers lose track of things or you seem several years younger.”
“It is like you are two different people in your head,” said Michelle with a giggle, “and one of you like practical jokes.”
I groaned as it suddenly made an odd sort of sense, “Chaddy, why you little shit!”
“What? You can’t do silly ‘girl stuff’ without screwing it up?” he asked as he giggled loudly from our mouth.
“Knock it off Chaddy or I am going to find a shop with the most girliest ‘Hello Kitty’ crap and try it all on or delete your GEO account,” I warned as I felt my face flush in annoyed embarrassment.
“Shades of Sybil,” muttered Rose as she stared into my face.
I let out a long pent up breath, “It’s a long story,” I said with a sigh.
“Good,” said the Signora as she and the Matron seemed to appear behind the couch where we rested.
“Since you three need to get to know each other, tonight you can tell us your story,” said the Matron with a smile, “call it part of your recollection exercises.”
“Oh boy, I am not sure you will believe it though,” I said as they took seats in the arm chairs across from the couch.
“Try us, I suspect we may surprise you,” said the Signora with a smile.
Shrugging inwardly I picked up a cord and started my life’s story, “I was reborn from my other self’s lower arm a bit over a week or so ago, but before that I was born Chad Wilson, some sixteen years ago. More or less.”
“Ok, you may surprise us,” said the Matron with a blink.
“Hush, Petra has the floor,” chided the Signora as she sat across from me, studying me intently.
I took a breath and decided to start with what I knew of my family and how it possibly effected me, genetically. Before jumping to the emotional fuck up that my family was, that is. “My great-grandfather was a atomic veteran…”
“Well,” said the Signora once the girls had returned after putting Petra into bed after a cup of full strength soothing tea, “we certainly have a lot of work ahead of us.”
“And I thought Trudy had a rough life,” said Rose as she picked up her wine glass and looked at it thoughtfully.
“There are certainly some similarities in the two girls,” the Matron said as she studied her canes grip, “physically Petra is more female, but that’s a matter of time and study in Trudy’s case, Trudy is rather ‘motivated.’”
“That she has a dual personality and way to much power and responsibility to go along with it,” said Michelle with a frown, “the stress alone could damage her further, if I remember my basic psyche classes correctly.”
“Possibly, though she did say she was pared down from four minds, where the complimentary pairs were separated as a set,” the Signora took a sip from her own cup. “Not to mention she says it was done with the hopes of culminating the two into one mind.”
“Knights are by their nature, more resilient and stable as far as individuals go,” said the Matron as she looked up to where the girl slept. “Add in the more unhinging aspects of their calling and I have to suspect that their ‘healing aspect’ also works on the mind as well.”
“I’d feel more comforted if we had her in therapy though,” said the Signora, “so I suspect that we will have to find someone both talented and tolerable to be around.”
“Basically someone who can tell fantasy from reality while and actually have a clue that magick is real?” Michelle shook her head and looked up at the ceiling, “I don’t think such a critter actually exists.”
“Isn’t that about the point where you get bit by such a critter?” asked Rose with a smile.
“I could be so lucky,” said Michelle as she downed her glass of wine.
Thursday, 30 November 2006
Deja-view, that unshakable mental mind fuck where two different things seem remarkably like another, usually in regards to space and time, present themselves for confusion. I thought it odd, yet comforting that I had two bodies snuggled up to me in the bed. Subconsciously I rather liked the idea, as it reminded me of being next to Merry and Sara in the bed at the Reservation. Though Sara be default usually was in the middle of the ‘kitty-pile,’ so I had a long slow moment or three trying to sort out if it was Sara with extra arms or I had missed a potty trip and Merry was on the wrong side of the bed.
So it was a bit confusing to be in that mental state of mind and have the Matron’s voice intrude with the comment, “Aren’t you three a bit old for sleepwalking?”
While that intrusion chugged merrily into my cerebellum, part of me decided that it was an interesting concept. So I tried to process the logic behind it, one, I was in bed. Two I was obviously not in New Hampshire, three, which meant the exploratory hands that were high and low, did not belong to either my sister or Sara. Four, the sets of hands did not belong to anyone I was related too; five, I was comforted in that while I had not been contemplating incest in any shape or form, other things had not progressed with an audience.
Sitting up slowly I peered down at the nearly nude forms of Rose and Michelle, “And look who I found sleeping in my bed…”
“Huh?” asked Michelle as I poked her and then Rose in turn.
A second poke at Rose elicited a comment of “Five more minutes, I wanna finish the dream.”
Giving the Matron an amused smile I looked at my surroundings and frowned, “Um this isn’t my bed, is it?”
As she walked to the corner of the bed and sat down she shook her head, “I had an odd dream last night, fairly erotic in fact, and I remember getting up to go visit the bathroom and then back to bed.”
“Um yeah, I had some sort of dream like that,” I admitted though I was fairly sure any time Sara was in a dream with me, I was not dreaming. “And a trip to the bathroom.”
Michelle rolled over slightly and opened her eyes to peer at me, “I had this dream…”
“Hi,” I said with a kiss on her brow.
“Um, this isn’t my bed…” she said with a smile, “not that I mind.”
There was a twitch of surprise from a hand I presumed was attached to Rose, I could tell it was surprised from the odd pokes it was giving my lower anatomy. “Rose, I am rather attached to that, and no you cannot take it with you,” I pointed out in a neutral tone.
“Oh,” she replied with a sigh as she eased her hands to the top of the comforter, “I thought it was attached to…” She frowned and looked at me, then the room, “This is not my bed!”
“No,” cheerfully said the Matron as she gave us an amused smile. “Could I hazard a guess that your dreams featured a dark haired girl with a splash of red hair and a triangle centered on her brow?”
“That sounds like Sara,” I said with a slow smile.
“And that she asked you lots of questions, before the tone of the dream shifted?” asked Michelle with a faraway look in her eyes.
“That would pretty much cover the entire dream,” admitted Rose as she smiled softly.
“So why would she be having us play musical beds in the middle of the night?” asked the Matron with a tolerant glace at us three.
“Um, that might be my fault, maybe,” I said as I blushed utterly.
“Oh and why would that be?” asked Michelle as she batted her eyes at me.
“I um, like to snuggle when stressed out,” I admitted as my face flushed further.
“Does your snuggling lead to other things,” asked Rose as she lifted my face up to look into my face.
“Could be,” I said with a sigh, “but well, Sara tends to shift things that way… Its her nature.”
“Awe she blushes so cutely,” said the Matron with a chuckle.
“So she decided you needed to snuggle,” said Rose with a soft grin, “how sweet.”
“Or that everyone needed a snuggle,” said the Matron with a wry grin, “considering we all ended up in different beds.”
There was an amused chuckle from the door of the room, “I suppose this is were we need to stop and discuss ‘house rules?’” asked the Signora as she wandered in to take up a seat at the mirrored table.
“House rules?” I asked looking at the Signora as she glanced at the three of us.
“Things like, ‘safe sex, no fighting before going to bed, when it is proper to hop from bed to bed, and so on,’” said Rose with a deliberate look at Michelle then me.
“Considering that you will likely be living under my roof, the both of you in addition to Rose, it may be good to settle such things.” The Signora the said with a bland chuckle, “Considering your Goddess seems to approve of us, even while some of us follow a different Lady.”
“She’s like her dad, he approves of fertility religions so-o,” I said with a roll of my eyes, “she seems too as well.”
“The fruit not falling far from the branch?” asked the Matron with a smile.
“Oh great here come the gardening metaphors again,” commented Rose with a chuckle, “so sex must be in there shortly.”
“Sex is not a sin in our beliefs is it?” asked the Signora with a smirk.
“No Signora,” said Rose with a faint blush.
I lay back and tried not to blush, “More like a sacrament if you ask Sara or an appetizer or a meal and if you really could not guess, a desert.”
“I think someone is hungry and trying to divert the topic of conversation,” said the Matron with a chuckle.
As my stomach fully announced its empty state with a rumble, I tried not to blush, “Ok yes I am hungry.”
“But for what?” asked Michelle as she tried to peek under the comforter.
“Girls focus,” chided the Signora, “you can play doctor and nurse later.”
I watched as the Michelle and Rose looked at each other thoughtfully, “But who gets to be who first?” asked Rose as she seemed lost in mental debate.
“While you two work that out, I will be at breakfast,” I said as I tried to wiggle to the end of the bed and to potential freedom.
Abruptly I found myself without a comforter and wearing nothing but the cold morning air; suddenly there was silence as the Matron and the Signora dropped the comforter to the ground. “Well ladies, that settles that, you’ve seen it all and in it its glory, may we get back to the discussion at hand?” asked the Signora calmly.
“You seem to have silenced them, but getting their attention may take a moment,” said the Matron as she observed the three blushing girls and then fanned herself.
“Oh my,” said the Signora with a chuckle, “a Kodak moment if ever there was one.”
“I think I have a camera in here someplace…” said the Matron as she started rummaging in a bag rapidly.
“So Petra, if you are so um, well, um endowed…” asked Rose as she seemed to stumble around the subject, “why are you trying to go, err be a girl?”
“Am I well endowed?” I asked her critically, “I mean seriously I’ve not gone looking, and gay porn never has been my thing.”
“You can’t tell me you’ve never looked at another persons penis or body,” said Michelle with an air of disbelief.
“Well yes, I have, but I don’t think Junior High text books and encyclopedia’s and the National Geographic’s count,” I said with a roll of my eyes. “Add in the fact that my parents were a bit religious about being religious…”
“But you had the Internet, surely you looked there?” asked Rose as she poked me in the side.
“Porn was not as interesting as games,” I said definitively.
“I think the word that best fits our young friend is ‘nerd,’” said Michelle as she gave me a pat on the head.
“Help, help, I am being repressed, I am being repressed,” I muttered sourly at them, “and its ‘Geek’ not ‘nerd,’ ‘Geek’ is much more dignified.”
“What is the difference?” asked Rose curiously as she looked at me critically.
“Two hundred thousand a year on the open market,” I said smugly as I smirked, “or if you go by the Gates Standard, too many billions.”
“And where do you rank?” asked Michelle as she paused, “Outside of the nearly three quarters of a billion you supposedly have access to?”
“If I worked hard at it for a month to set things up I could easily hit five billion dollars in under six months, but that is too much like work,” I said with a shrug. “Like I said money only buys you stuff.”
“Alright I can see that, but if it has no other value why do you bother?” asked the Signora as she wandered back into the lower common area.
“It’s insurance, the more money you have and control the harder it is for people to ‘make you disappear.’” At their puzzled expressions I said, “Can you picture the hue and cry if someone made off with Bill Gates or Willard from NEXT?”
“Ah, but that only works if you are ‘publicly’ rich,” pointed out the Signora as she motioned to the private dining room, “come eat.”
As we arose to follow her I nodded, “Well the money is more for my sisters than anything else. ‘Jo’ especially since she is more likely to have the chance of a more normal life.”
“Ah, ok so as we wander back to the original topic, ‘Why are you trying to be a girl?’” asked Rose with a smile as sat at the table.
“I think it partially stems from a few things,” I said reluctantly, “at first it was a disguise. Someone was trying to kill me and it seemed logical at the time.”
“And then?” asked Michelle as she elected to sit next to me.
“Well we were subjected to a bit of mind washing or hypnosis to try and make us seem a bit more female, with a touch of someone else’s memories tossed in for good measure.” I rolled my eyes expansively at the ceiling, “With all sorts of additional problems that cropped up along the way.”
“We may have to discuss that in detail, someday,” said the Matron with a frown, “you should not consent to such things.”
“I didn’t exactly consent,” I said with a helpless shrug, “but that conditioning was later removed.”
“Oh dear, so why haven’t you reverted back to dressing like a boy?” asked the Signora into the sudden quiet.
“Well,” I paused to lift my breasts meaningfully, “these sort of grew out, and I had a period,” I let go of my dresses top and things while I sighed loudly, “needless to say I don’t exactly fit entirely on the manly side of things anymore.”
“I had noticed that,” Michelle said with a smile.
“I really tried to hide my boobs a few times, you know to see if I could try to pass as a guy,” I picked up a glass of water and took a sip to moisten my very dry mouth. “But even with my hair under a cap or my boobs strapped down, I looked like a girl in the mirror.”
Michelle looked at me critically and then focused on my face, “Yes, your facial structure is all wrong for you to be a boy.”
“I hate to say it,” said Rose with a slight frown, “you look like you could be a model, but your mannerisms scream ‘butch’ lesbian.”
“You do need some lessons in grace and etiquette I think,” said the Signora firmly, “soften a bit of those rough edges that stand out.”
“There is nothing wrong with presenting yourself as a strong, responsible and intelligent woman to the world,” pointed out the Matron as her fingers wove to indicate the others and herself. “If a man or woman underestimates you because you are refined and graceful, then they are foolish and deserved to be fleeced like the sheep they are.”
“If it is not impolite to ask, how rich are you three?” asked Michelle with a neutral expression.
“My family is old money,” said Rose with an indifferent shrug, “we don’t rush out and buy Leer jets every other day, but that is more a matter of common sense than ability.”
“I gave up trying to count the beans,” said the Matron with a chuckle as she moved her fingers back and forth in a sliding manner, “I think I could safely say that I am significantly rich.”
Lifting a napkin to place it in her lap the Signora smiled, ”There are various forms of wealth, some hereditary, some personal and some you garner from the positions of responsibility.” She stopped and gave Michelle a direct look, “The amount of money you have is not a factor in your being here, you can learn how to become wealthy.”
“And there are many forms of wealth,” said the Matron with a smile.
“We’ll just stick you and ‘miss I don’t know what a portfolio is’” said Rose with a pause to glance at me significantly, “into a few classes and then see if we can’t show you how to make an obscene amount of money.”
Both the Matron and the Signora frowned in my direction and I felt like hiding briefly under the weight of those frowns, but it was the Matron that spoke while shaking her head. “I can see we have our work cut out for us.”
“I never needed one,” I said defensively as I bisected a grapefruit with a knife, “I’m not keeping score with the money so what is the point?”
“Everyone who deals with that sort of money seriously needs a portfolio,” insisted Rose with a much put upon sigh, “even people like Trudy who barely have a few hundred thousand need a portfolio.”
“Oh, well if the insurance comes in I’ll have to get one then,” said Michelle with an annoyed yet relieved sigh, “fortunately arson was ruled out by the fire department.”
“That was likely Haynes’ work,” said the Matron with a chuckle, “his wife was with us at the last. He is talented and under ‘instructions’ to suppress the evidence of daemon attacks and so on.” The Matron made an odd gesture and knocked on the table, “The ‘official stance’ on such incidents is that unless there is a body or body count it didn’t happen.”
“Terrorist get a lot of blame for things they didn’t do,” Rose said as she lifted a muffin from a basket, “not that their karma doesn’t earn them such things.”
“Besides, if it was a ‘magical’ threat that needed to be put down, people like Rose and others usually get that task,” said the Signora with a meaningful look at me the Michelle.
“By others, you mean the Knights?” I asked quietly.
“Well them, the Inquisition when they actually can be stirred to do something productive, the Bavarian Illuminati, that Mystical Five group out of America and so on,” said the Signora indifferently as she paused to consider her breakfast.
“So you won’t be the only ones getting their hands dirty,” said the Matron with a smile, “if that is what you are worried about.”
“But don’t worry,” said Rose with a wicked grin, “those non boring jobs are not that frequent.”
“Less frequent than say recently?” I asked with a frown.
“Well the nightly daemonic visitations are a bit beyond the pale, compared to my usual duties,” admitted Rose with a shrug. “I will say I am not happy that whomever is doing their summoning has that much power to spare.”
“Now once you have inscribed the warding sigil on to say an amulet or that bit of wood in front of you, you bind it to yourself with a drop of blood.”
“Using a pin or a lancet not a knife or athame… do you need stitches?”
“No, it’ll stop bleeding in a moment.”
“Then please wait for the instructions to be concluded before injuring yourself further.”
“Are you ready?”
“ungh… it hurts.”
“But I have not started yet…”
“Its those ants…”
“It’s nearly December, there are no ants stirring…”
“The ones in Australia are, and they are singing.”
“No! Don’t drink that!”
“But my head hurts and a nap won’t hurt me.”
“No, no involuntary napping this morning.”
“Koogle, and bread!”
“Huruck. No vegemite sandwiches ever again.”
“Koogle, its got chocolate in it… and its yummy.”
“But she is a big fat meanie.”
“What did you mother tell you yesterday?”
“That I was’n not allowed to call her big or fat anymore.”
“Well she is!”
“And you don’t stack activated sigils on top of each other because?”
“What! I can’t hear you my ears are still ringing!”
“I said, and you don’t stack activated sigils on top of each other because?!?!?!”
“I still can’t hear you, and you’ll need to visit the dentist soon, and brush more often. E’cuse me I need to go hurl.”
“You are enjoying this aren’t you?” I asked the ‘sight’ instructor with a look of disgust as I managed to sit upright.
“Not particularly, frankly I think you are the last person on this earth that should be allowed to practice the Craft,” she gave me a look of thinly veiled disgust. “Consorting with daemons, no wonder you have them coming after you.”
“Is that what your problem with me is?” I sat there and frowned, “You think I am consorting with daemons?”
“You can’t fool me, I can see the stamps of it on your body, what did you sell your soul for? Power, wealth beauty?” She hawked and spat not far from my hand, “You should be driven out to face the daemons you are calling.”
“Now tell me how you really feel,” I said as the flush of anger started to kindle in my chest.
“Parading in here, acting all innocent, sucking up to the powers that be, all the while trying to corrupt everyone in our sleep!” she all but yelled in my face.
Almost tasting the ozone, I pushed my hands firmly into the earth and tried to drain off the charge before the anger I felt fully blossomed into senseless rage. A moment later I said, “You do not know what you are talking about.”
“Don’t I? I heard how everyone whispered about a visitation last night.” She closed her eyes briefly and ranted, “Dark haired, about your height, glowing eyes, a body that screams sex. Who do you think you are, passing yourself off as a goddess?”
Groaning I tried to think of someway to shut her and her raving up, “That wasn’t me,” I said with a sigh.
“And then you turn the children against me!” she put her thick finger in my face, “no one had a problem with my teaching before you showed up!”
I tried to think of a solution or words that would not turn this screaming fit of hers into violence; finding none and with a headache that would not stop I stood up. “I am going for a walk, you really should go talk with the Signora’s or somebody.” I paused and tried to put my words into a calm rational order, “Do not follow me, because I don’t want to have to heal you.”
“You can bet I will be having words with the Signora’s, I’ll have you tossed out on your ear! Threaten an instructor, I think not!”
“Good, you do that,” I muttered as I stalked away from the raving bitch.
She stood there shouting for a good long minute as I quickly walked down the path away from her. Figuring someone was seriously off her meds; I put the incident out of my mind as best I could. Calming I found myself trying to dump energy, rein the sight in and not feel every single thing around me.
Part of me was grateful Sara had taught us how to shield the electromagnetic crap out; as her lessons there were remarkably similar to the magickal side of the coin. Finding my center was relatively easy, the hard part was separating out the mish-mash of extra information and sensations from what was garbage and what was important. Since the raving bitch had uncorked my senses without really giving me the tools to pull out of it, I was focusing on old lessons and trying to apply them to new ones.
~’Good grief lover, what the heck?’~ asked Sara as her mark heated.
~’Magickal sense crap,’~ I replied as the world shifted and spun.
~’Oh my, you don’t do things by half do you?’~ she asked with a laugh.
~’Fucking bitch of an instructor, opened me up and I think I was in the path of a energy river when she did so,’~ I sent back angrily, ~’it about knocked my ass out too.’~
~’Crap, that was likely a Ley-line, she may have been trying to burn you out! That cunt!’~ Sara’s mark not quite flamed in reflected anger as she sent that.
~’Easy Sara, I’m still intact, but I feeling a bit lost,’~ I sent back as I pulled my electrical senses under control.
There was a familiar rush as she swirled fully up into my senses, ~’Gee, this is cozy.’~
~’Speaking of cozy, were you playing bedroom roulette with some people last night?’~ I asked as my head cleared slightly.
~’Well you seemed lonely, and its not like they are unwilling,’~ she sent with a giggle, ~’not to mention all those people there are more than a bit receptive towards sex.’~
~’I had noticed that, so what are you doing?’~ I asked as things seemed to slow down.
~’Sorting out which senses are doing what, its like she did her best to set you up for disaster, everything except your magickal sight is running rampant.’~ she seemed agitated by that but she held her anger in check.
~’I can almost get the sight to tolerable levels, its almost like the electrical crap,’~ I said as I worked to ease that down to bare minimums, ~’but I can’t get it to go off, off.’~
~’Once you are opened to it, it’s on forever Petra, but it is like your electrical senses in that, in time it is reflexive.’~ She paused and then I could feel the Life in the forest recede, ~’Ok, can you feel that?’~
~’Yes.’~ I replied with a wave of relief.
~’Ok now with this it is largely instinctive, so I’m going to let you feel what I am doing, just ride with the waves as I let it grow and dim; and when you can feel what I am doing to make it grow or fade, I want you to work with me feeling the flow for it.’~ Then there was a pause and she started taking me up and down the rollercoaster of one form of senses, ~’Just ride the waves, don’t fight them.’~
~’Uh, yeah,’ said Chaddy with a moan, ‘hang ten dude.’
~’Cowabunga Chaddy,’~ teased Sara as she deliberately sent us up though a big wave of it.
~’Um yeah, I feel an odd pinching,’~ I sent as we road through the sensations for a long series of awkward minutes, ~’I think I can feel the pattern…’~
~’Ok now pull it in tight to you, smoothing the waves until it is like a glass of water on a table,’~ she sent as she guided me into the feel of it, ~’then turn the water into ice, making it immobile.’~
~’It’s slippery, but I think I more or less have it, I think,’~ I sent after a long pause, ~’but it keeps trying to get loose.’~
~’That is normal and it ‘is’ going to get loose and you will have to pull it back time and time again.’~ She seemed to smile as she added, ~’It’s like ice skating you are going to fall down a lot, just get back up and keep going.’~
I took a mental inventory of things and tried to ignore the burning headache and other burning bits I could feel, ~’Thanks Sara, I may live.’~
There was a long pause as Sara seemed to poke at things form inside my head, then there was a pregnant pause. ~’Please tell me you are armed,’~ sent Sara with a quiet yet worried tone of voice.
~’I have a dagger, and a fully loaded pistol with extra clip,’~ I sent back as I tried to feel things out, ~’shit some sort of daemon? But it is daylight.’~
~’If a daemon or something is possessing a host the time of day doesn’t matter, the question is if you can cast it out before you may need to kill it?’~ she asked as she retreated from my mind slightly.
A sudden sharp wail of childlike terror in the distance jarred me and forced my heart to skip a beat, ~’Oh god, love you much Sara but I can’t talk and fight!’~ I sent hurriedly. Then as she fell out of my mind, I started to sprint up the path, pulling the gun out of my belly band as I did so.