Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-two - A friend will cheer for you, grieve, and help. (part one)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-TWO

(part one)

Tuesday afternoon — 2:45 p.m.

“Jill?” Colin Hargreaves nearly screamed into the telephone.

The sound of a helicopter boomed in the background of the call. Jill was standing in the hallway of the Art Institute. She’d stepped out of a class to return his urgent text.

“I got your 911 text, Colin,” Jill said. “You sound really freaked out. What’s going on?”

“Julie collapsed,” Colin said. “She was running errand and collapsed in the car.”

“Oh no!” Jill said.

“She was at a stoplight,” Colin said. “The guy in the car behind her noticed that she had pass out and called the paramedics. He stayed with her until they arrived.”

“Where is she now?” Jill asked.

“She’s with John,” Colin said. “She must have known that was sick because she was holding John’s card when she passed out. The guy called the number and . . .”

“So, she’s at Denver Health,” Jill said. “That’s good.”

“Yea,” Colin said. “John called me because . . . because . . .”

“What’s going on?” Jill asked.

“She’s in organ failure,” Colin said. “She . . . she . . . Covid . . . and I . . .”

“Breathe,” Alex Hargreaves’ voice came over the phone in the background. “Breathe. She’s in the best hands. You know that. Breathe.”

“Jill?” a man’s voice asked on the phone.

“Yes?” Jill asked.

“This is Art Rasmussen,” he said. “We’ve met a few times.”

“Sasha’s daddy,” Jill said.

“Yes, I am that,” he said. “Listen, we’re in North Dakota today.”

“Okay,” Jill said.

“Colin needs you to pick up his kids from the Marlowe School,” Art said.

“Done,” Jill said. “I’ll bring them home. They can stay with us for as long as they need.”

There were voices in the background, but Jill couldn’t make out what they were saying.

“We understand that Julie was there?” Art asked. “At the Castle?”

“She and Paddie were pretty sick,” Jill said.

“We need to get Paddie checked,” Art said. “Also, would you mind doing me a tremendous favor?”

“Sure,” Jill said. “I’m happy to help if I can.”

“We need Blane,” Art said. “Julie likes him and says that he really helped her when she was sick. She’s asking for him. None of us has a working phone number for him.”

“That’s easy,” Jill said. “I’ll call Blane and pick up the kids. I’ll have Blane check Paddie and we’ll take him to Dr. Bumpy if he seems off. Otherwise, we’ll keep them with us until Julie is better or Colin is home.”

“Perfect,” Art said. “Thank you.”

“Absolutely,” Jill said. “Should I talk to Colin again?”

“I think conversation is more than he can do right now,” Art said.

“I understand,” Jill said. “Don’t worry about a thing. We’ve got this.”

“Thank you,” Art said.

The line went dead. Jill looked at her phone and then tucked it into the back pocket of her jeans. She wondered if she should call Jacob, and then remembered that he was in the middle of what he called Lipson Construction “stuff.” She checked her watch to see when the kids would get out of school. Nodding to herself, she had enough time to finish this class. So, she called and left a message for Blane before she returned to her classroom.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-one - Out of the mouths of babes (part six)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-ONE

(part six)

“It’s missing some of it,” Holmes said.

“Go ahead,” Apollo said.

Holmes gave him a hard look.

“I don’t take orders from you,” Holmes said.

Hecate and Heather laughed openly at the shocked look on Apollo’s face. Holmes was grinning by the time they stopped laughing.

“Okay,” Holmes said.

“Wait,” Perses said. “How do you remember this?”

“I remember everything I see,” Holmes said. “Anything I’ve ever read. I can mimic anything I’ve seen.”

“Let the boy speak,” Heather said.

“The prophecy goes like this: ‘There will be a female child — not an average child, but a female child, none the less — many, many oracles from now. She will rise from the greatest house of the great houses. Her champion will place everything on the line for her. The greatest blade will guide this small hand, to the smallest blade, where the finest cut will change the fate of those strive for power and gold over true greatness.’”

Holmes repeated the prophecy in English. No one said anything for a long moment.

“They took out all of the identifying information,” Hecate said. “I bet . . .”

She looked at Heather, who nodded.

“We are all here,” Sandy said in English. “You may as well tell us.”

“Yes, I’m sorry,” Hecate said in English. “You are right. I was thinking that by taking these pieces off the prophecy, someone could use it to control people.”

“She’s avoiding saying that they killed all of the female children in the area. Hung them up so that their blood reddened the streets,” Apollo said. “That’s the legacy of this prophecy. By removing details, they were able to terrorize the region for a very long time.”

“Shit,” Holmes said.

“I need to put him under the dryer,” Sandy said. “You are welcome to stay or go terrorize someone else for a while.”

“I like this one,” Apollo said about Sandy.

“Don’t . . .,” Heather started.

Apollo went to hug Sandy and she kneed him in the groin. He grunted.

“Don’t touch me,” Sandy said.

Holmes’ eyes went big, and he tried not to laugh.

“She doesn’t like to be touched,” Heather said.

“I see that,” Apollo said. “Please accept my sincere apologies.”

Scowling at Apollo, Sandy led Holmes to the dryers and stuck him under. Holmes was done under the dryers by the time the Gods and Titans had disappeared.

“Where’d they go?” Holmes asked.

“I never know,” Sandy said. “What you did there was super brave. I’m proud of you. You turned a horrible experience into something that will truly help people.”

“People?” Holmes asked. “They aren’t people.”

“No, they aren’t,” Sandy said. “But the world is full of people. The Vanquisher is said to be able to destroy the world. That’s what we’re talking about here. You were super brave and really helped.”

Nodding, Holmes blushed.

Sandy took him back to wash out the dye. She dried and styled his hair, and then showed him how to slick it back if he wanted to. The entire rest of the time, Holmes’ cheeks held a little bit of blush in them. He waved to Sandy from the door.

Shaking her head at her weird life, Sandy went to the back to clean up and get ready for the next client.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-one - Out of the mouths of babes

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-ONE

Chapter 671

Tuesday midday — 12:45 p.m.

“Can I ask you something?” Holmes Olivas asked Sandy.

He was lying back with his neck resting on the edge of her sink while Sandy was washing his hair. They were in the back of Sandy’s hair salon.

“’Member how you said that I could ask you anything and you would always be honest with me?” Holmes asked.

“Yes,” Sandy said.

“You said that we were connected because of what happened to us,” Holmes said. “And that we have a deep bond that can never be broken.”

“I believe that,” Sandy said. “Do you?”

Holmes nodded.

“But we also agreed that I wouldn’t keep secrets from your dad,” Sandy said.

If you thought I was in danger,” Holmes said.

“Only then,” Sandy said. “Are you in danger?”

“No more than usual,” Holmes said. He gave her a saucy wink.

His blue eyes looked incredibly blue over his blue face mask.

Sandy gave him a soft smile. When she had met him, he had been a small undernourished boy who’d been horrifically abused. His mother had just been killed by the man he’d thought was his father, the man that he’d been named after until his recent name change. He and his brother had just moved to Denver. Alex Hargreaves had asked Sandy if she could try to connect with the boy. Alex felt that Sandy’s recovery from her traumatic past might help Holmes find his way through this new life. In the meantime, Holmes had grown into a lovely, charming, tall boy who was sometimes too bright for his own good.

Holmes’ eyes squinted as if he were smiling.

“What’s up?” Sandy asked.

“Heather is the demi-god Hedone, right?” Holmes asked.

“She has become a full goddess,” Sandy said. “It’s complicated but that’s where things stand. Basically, her father went insane while looking for her mother. He has now retired and retreated with her mother to a romantic island somewhere.”

“Huh,” Holmes said. “Uh, don’t be mad but I listened to your conversation.”

“Oh?” Sandy asked.

“I didn’t mean to,” Holmes said. “I finished an exam early so I just came over. I thought we could eat something if you weren’t busy.”

“Makes sense,” Sandy said.

“You’re not mad that I listened in?” Holmes asked.

“Not particularly,” Sandy said. “Nothing I do is that confidential. Plus you know everyone anyway.”

“Valerie is a siren,” Holmes said. “Delphie is an oracle. Tanesha glows and Jill radiates power.”

Holmes shrugged.

“I don’t know why Tanesha and Jill do that,” Holmes said.

“You should ask them,” Sandy said. “I know that they will tell you all about it if you ask.”

“Okay.” Holmes nodded. “I will.”

“Did you hear something that you’d like to talk about?” Sandy asked.

She finished rinsing the conditioner from his hair. She wrapped his head in a towel and helped him sit up. They walked together to the station she was working at. Because of Covid-19, they were alone in the salon. Sandy was, of course, also wearing a face mask.

“Um, yeah,” Holmes said.

Sandy started combing through his curly dishwater blond hair. Like most people, his hair had grown long over the “stay at home.” It was now past his shoulders. After a few minutes, she leaned to the side.

“What’s going on?” Sandy asked.

“It has to do with. . .” Holmes caught Sandy’s eyes in the mirror, “. . .you-know-who.”

Sandy nodded.

“Do you want to leave this long or cut it?” Sandy asked. “Your dad said something about college interviews?”

“No one cares about my hair,” Holmes said. “He just wants me to cut it. He thinks I look like I’m a hippie.”

“What do you want?” Sandy asked.

The boy thought for a long moment before saying.

“You can tell me,” Sandy said.

“I think he’s right, but I don’t want him to win,” Holmes said.

“Fair enough,” Sandy said. “Why don’t we split the difference? We can take most of this length off so it looks a little more professional. You can slick it back or come let me do it when you have your interviews.”

“Sounds perfect!” Holmes said.

“Highlights?” Sandy asked. “Your brother had purple this time.”

“I don’t know,” Holmes said. “You think it will make me more attractive to. . . you know, those guys?”

“Pedophiles?” Sandy asked. She shook her head. Intentionally putting her hand over the top of his shoulder to ground him, she said, “No. This is your body. This is your hair. You can do what you want with it. And if anyone gives you any trouble, what do you do?”

“I call Auntie Alex,” Holmes said with a nod. “Anywhere in the world and she’ll come home and kick their ass so hard they’ll wish they didn’t have an ass.”

Sandy laughed.

“That sounds like Alex,” Sandy said. “Why don’t you let me do this? I think you’ll be pleased.”

Holmes nodded, and Sandy got to work.

“You can talk while I work,” Sandy said.

“Oh, right,” Holmes said. He swallowed hard. “When I lived with dickface. . . Do you mind if I use that word? It’s kind of a swear word.”

“I’ve heard worse,” Sandy said with a laugh.

“Oh, okay,” Holmes said. “Mom and me and Hermes lived with dickface. He wanted so bad to be as smart as my dad, you know, Troy?”

“I do know your father,” Sandy said.

“Right,” Holmes said. “Okay. The only way he could be smart like my dad was to make all of us do the work. Because he was lazy as fuck.”

“What do you mean?” Sandy asked never taking her eyes off his hair.

“I mean, well, okay. . .” Holmes scowled. “You won’t make fun of me?”

“I would never make fun of you,” Sandy said.

“Well, I’m kinda smart too,” Holmes said. “I mean, Hermes is too, but he’s, you know, a different kind of smart from me and dad.”

“Hermes has the soul of an artist,” Sandy said.

“With the mind of a genius,” Holmes said with a grin. “Dad thinks that he’s going to be an architect, but I think he’ll do something literary like write books or poems or maybe paint. He did some painting with Mike when we were there. It’s really good. Oh, I shouldn’t have told you. That was a secret.”

“I won’t tell a soul.” Sandy said with a smile.

There was no one in the world that Holmes loved more than his younger brother.

“He made a painting for dad for Christmas,” Holmes said. “It’s at Mike’s studio so dad won’t see it.”

“I might take a peek then,” Sandy said.

“You should,” Holmes said. “Dad’s going to like it so much that he’ll cry.”

Sandy couldn’t help but smile at the sweet boy.

“You were telling me something about living with your uncle,” Sandy said, after a few minutes of silence.

“Oh, I know,” Holmes said with a sigh. “I was avoiding it.”

“Well don’t,” Sandy said. “We have this private time so we can talk.”

Holmes sighed.

“He made me learn Ancient Greek, Latin, and a bunch of other languages so that I could translate these ancient texts that his freak father owned,” Holmes said.

“Why?” Sandy asked with a shrug.

“I’m not really sure,” Holmes said. “He liked to show off and quote these old texts as if he had translated them himself, but it was me.”

“Of course it was,” Sandy said with a shake of his head. “Why shouldn’t he take all the credit for your work?”

“Right,” Holmes said. “But what I wanted to say is this — you’re missing a line of that prophecy.”

“What?” Sandy asked.

“I mean, that’s what made me start listening,” Holmes said. “I heard Heather speaking Ancient Greek. I don’t think I remembered that I knew that prophecy until she spoke it. But she left out a verse.”

Still focused on the boy’s hair, Sandy didn’t respond. Hermes touched Sandy’s hand.

“Oh, sorry,” Sandy said. “I kind of wheeled out there with my anger at your stupid uncle.”

“Heh,” Holmes said. “I do that.”

“I know you do,” Sandy said. “You’re saying that you translated this prophecy and there’s a verse missing. The one they think is about Katy and Paddie?”

Holmes nodded.

“And I think it is about Katy and Paddie,” Holmes said. “And the Vanquisher is a great blade, but the Sword of Truth is truly the greatest blade ever made, at least that’s what the ancient Greeks thought. Of course, Perses had the Vanquisher made and also told the world it was destroyed. At the time of the prophecy, the Vanquisher was considered to have been destroyed in the Titan purge.”

Sandy stopped cutting and looked at Holmes in the mirror.

“I don’t know anything about what you’re saying,” Sandy said. “Would you mind if I asked Heather to help?”

Holmes thought for a moment and then shook his head.

“She might want to bring a few of her friends,” Sandy said.

“They won’t hurt me or want. . . you know,” Holmes said.

“If they do, they’ll have to deal with me,” Sandy said.

She leaned back into her best martial arts stance. She was so small and fierce that Holmes laughed. She smiled.

“They do this think they call ‘walking time.’ So the moment I ask for them, they kind of pop in,” Sandy said. “Some people don’t like it. Freaks them out.”

“Whatever,” Holmes said. “It’s not going to be the worst thing that happened to me.”

“Hold you breath,” Sandy said.

Holmes nodded.

“Heather, I need you,” Sandy said.

Heather appeared a second afterward.

“Shit, that’s crazy!” Holmes said.

His bright eyes and laugh indicate his irrepressible joy for life. Heather looked at him and then back at Sandy. She scowled and opened her mouth.

“He says there’s a verse of the prophecy left out,” Sandy said.

Heather turned to Holmes.

“This is very important,” Heather said. “Can you explain it to me?”

Holmes opened his mouth to start and Heather shook her head.

“Would you mind if I touch you?” Heather asked.

Holmes shook his head. Heather reached out to hold his nearest hand. For Holmes’ part, he was flooded with a sense of peace and love. Tears fell from his eyes at the sheer joy of being so loved. The feeling lingered for weeks after this experience. He would later attribute this moment to changing his life forever. But right now, he simply enjoyed the sensation.

After a moment, Heather shifted away.

“Hecate,” Heather said. “Perses.”

The Titans appeared. Perses had Cleo the cat on his shoulders.

“Hey!” Sandy said. “You can’t treat my cat like that!”

“We thought you might want the whole family,” Hecate said.

Sandy pulled the cat from Perses’ arms. She walked away from them talking to her cat.

“This is Holmes Olivas,” Heather said. “Holmes, I’d like you to meet Hecate and Perses. I believe that you know who they are.”

Still high from his experience of being touched by the goddess of love, he just waved at them.

“He says that there is another verse to the prophecy,” Heather said in Ancient Greek.

“You’re being rather rude,” Perses said, in English.

“He speaks it fluently,” Heather said. “He’s Troy Olivas’ eldest son, raised for his first years by his uncle, Homer. I believe you had some interactions with him.”

“Horrible man,” Hecate said. “Rotten to the core. I bet he made you learn the language so that he could get credit for all of those translations.”

“Exactly,” Heather said. “He abused his children horrifically.”

“Oh no!” Hecate said. Without asking, she touched Holmes’ hand. “I’m so sorry. If he were alive, I would smite him for you. Since he is gone, I can assure you that he will never return.”

Overwhelmed, Holmes began to weep.

“Cleo wants to be out here with you,” Sandy said. She pointed to Perses and squinted, “You be nice.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Perses said, taking the cat from Sandy.

Cleo climbed up onto Perses’ shoulders as if the Titan was wearing a feline shawl.

“What did you do?” Sandy asked. She knelt down to Holmes. “This is a child. He looked bigger and older, more mature, but he . . .”

“We understand,” Hecate said. “No one in this world understands his experience, your experience, more than I do. You have my power.”

“I don’t know what that means, but okay,” Sandy said. “His father will be furious that his son is so upset.”

“Human life is very hard,” Hecate said. “If you’re telling me that some human man is going to be mad at me, it sounds like Tuesday.”

Hecate shrugged.

“It is Tuesday,” Sandy said. She pushed Perses out of her way. “I’m working on his hair.”

“Don’t let us concern you,” Perses said.

“This is Perses,” Sandy said nodding to the Titan. “Holmes Olivas.”

“I’ve seen you before,” Holmes said. “You’re a friend of my Auntie Alex’s, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” Perses said. “She’s gotten me out of a number of tight spots. You should know — in my day, we put pedophiles behind huge boulders and force them to spend eternity pushing the rock up the hill only for it to roll to the bottom. The man who hurt you was a monster.”

“Thank you, I think,” Holmes said with a slight nod.

With Perses words, Holmes seemed to relax in a way Sandy hadn’t seen previously. She looked from Perses to Holmes.

“What?” Perses asked.

Sandy just shook her head and kept working on Holmes’ hair. After a moment she said, “I have to get some color from the back. I’m trusting you to be nice.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Perses and Hecate said in near unison.

Cleo the cat meowed, and Heather rolled her eyes.

“Tell us what you know,” Heather said in Ancient Greek.

“Where did you find this prophecy?” Hecate asked in Ancient Greek.

“It was a parchment,” Holmes said in the same language. “I think that it was some kind of historic record of the person who asked the question. He was a politician of some kind, from some other region.”

“What did he ask?” Perses asked in Ancient Greek.

“Who will stop these greedy assholes? Or something like that,” Holmes said. “They didn’t say specifically ‘assholes,’ but it was a Greek swearword for scum.”

Perses said a word, and Holmes nodded. Apollo arrived.

“Fuck,” Holmes said.

“Were you invited?” Sandy asked as she came out of the back with a rolling cart with two bowls of dye and aluminum foil wraps.

“I am a God, human,” Apollo said.

“You watch yourself! I will put you over my knee,” Perses said.

Apollo’s head jerked to Perses. He laughed, and they hugged.

“I apologize,” Hecate said. “I invited him. His temple was near the Oracles. He’s spent a lot of time in Delphi. I wasn’t sure if we’d need his assistance. But since he’s being an ass.”

“No, I’m okay,” Holmes said. “I was just surprised when he appeared. Sandy warned me but . . .”

“It’s freaky,” Sandy said.

“Well, young gentleman, my Uncle and Aunt are much more powerful than I am,” Apollo said. “They have sworn to protect you. You are safe.”

“Okay,” Holmes said.

“Now, why am I here?” Apollo asked.

“Our young friend found the written record of the prophecy,” Perses said. “From what I gather, he overheard Hedone speaking the prophecy and realized immediately that it was flawed.”

“It’s missing some of it,” Holmes said.

“Go ahead,” Apollo said.

Holmes gave him a hard look.

“I don’t take orders from you,” Holmes said.

Hecate and Heather laughed openly at the shocked look on Apollo’s face. Holmes was grinning by the time they stopped laughing.

“Okay,” Holmes said.

“Wait,” Perses said. “How do you remember this?”

“I remember everything I see,” Holmes said. “Anything I’ve ever read. I can mimic anything I’ve seen.”

“Let the boy speak,” Heather said.

“The prophecy goes like this: ‘There will be a female child — not an average child, but a female child, none the less — many, many oracles from now. She will rise from the greatest house of the great houses. Her champion will place everything on the line for her. The greatest blade will guide this small hand, to the smallest blade, where the finest cut will change the fate of those strive for power and gold over true greatness.’”

Holmes repeated the prophecy in English. No one said anything for a long moment.

“They took out all of the identifying information,” Hecate said. “I bet . . .”

She looked at Heather, who nodded.

“We are all here,” Sandy said in English. “You may as well tell us.”

“Yes, I’m sorry,” Hecate said in English. “You are right. I was thinking that by taking these pieces off the prophecy, someone could use it to control people.”

“She’s avoiding saying that they killed all of the female children in the area. Hung them up so that their blood reddened the streets,” Apollo said. “That’s the legacy of this prophecy. By removing details, they were able to terrorize the region for a very long time.”

“Shit,” Holmes said.

“I need to put him under the dryer,” Sandy said. “You are welcome to stay or go terrorize someone else for a while.”

“I like this one,” Apollo said about Sandy.

“Don’t . . .,” Heather started.

Apollo went to hug Sandy and she kneed him in the groin. He grunted.

“Don’t touch me,” Sandy said.

Holmes’ eyes went big, and he tried not to laugh.

“She doesn’t like to be touched,” Heather said.

“I see that,” Apollo said. “Please accept my sincere apologies.”

Scowling at Apollo, Sandy led Holmes to the dryers and stuck him under. Holmes was done under the dryers by the time the Gods and Titans had disappeared.

“Where’d they go?” Holmes asked.

“I never know,” Sandy said. “What you did there was super brave. I’m proud of you. You turned a horrible experience into something that will truly help people.”

“People?” Holmes asked. “They aren’t people.”

“No, they aren’t,” Sandy said. “But the world is full of people. The Vanquisher is said to be able to destroy the world. That’s what we’re talking about here. You were super brave and really helped.”

Nodding, Holmes blushed.

Sandy took him back to wash out the dye. She dried and styled his hair, and then showed him how to slick it back if he wanted to. The entire rest of the time, Holmes’ cheeks held a little bit of blush in them. He waved to Sandy from the door.

Shaking her head at her weird life, Sandy went to the back to clean up and get ready for the next client.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...

 


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-one - Out of the mouths of babes (part five)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-ONE

(part five)

“I don’t know what that means, but okay,” Sandy said. “His father will be furious that his son is so upset.”

“Human life is very hard,” Hecate said. “If you’re telling me that some human man is going to be mad at me, it sounds like Tuesday.”

Hecate shrugged.

“It is Tuesday,” Sandy said. She pushed Perses out of her way. “I’m working on his hair.”

“Don’t let us concern you,” Perses said.

“This is Perses,” Sandy said nodding to the Titan. “Holmes Olivas.”

“I’ve seen you before,” Holmes said. “You’re a friend of my Auntie Alex’s, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” Perses said. “She’s gotten me out of a number of tight spots. You should know — in my day, we put pedophiles behind huge boulders and force them to spend eternity pushing the rock up the hill only for it to roll to the bottom. The man who hurt you was a monster..”

“Thank you, I think,” Holmes said with a slight nod.

With Perses words, Holmes seemed to relax in a way Sandy hadn’t seen previously. She looked from Perses to Holmes.

“What?” Perses asked.

Sandy just shook her head and kept working on Holmes’ hair. After a moment she said, “I have to get some color from the back. I’m trusting you to be nice.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Perses and Hecate said in near unison.

Cleo the cat meowed, and Heather rolled her eyes.

“Tell us what you know,” Heather said in Ancient Greek.

“Where did you find this prophecy?” Hecate asked in Ancient Greek.

“It was a parchment,” Holmes said in the same language. “I think that it was some kind of historic record of the person who asked the question. He was a politician of some kind, from some other region.”

“What did he ask?” Perses asked in Ancient Greek.

“Who will stop these greedy assholes? Or something like that,” Holmes said. “They didn’t say specifically ‘assholes,’ but it was a Greek swearword for scum.”

Perses said a word, and Holmes nodded. Apollo arrived.

“Fuck,” Holmes said.

“Were you invited?” Sandy asked as she came out of the back with a rolling cart with two bowls of dye and aluminum foil wraps.

“I am a God, human,” Apollo said.

“You watch yourself! I will put you over my knee,” Perses said.

Apollo’s head jerked to Perses. He laughed, and they hugged.

“I apologize,” Hecate said. “I invited him. His temple was near the Oracles. He’s spent a lot of time in Delphi. I wasn’t sure if we’d need his assistance. But since he’s being an ass.”

“No, I’m okay,” Holmes said. “I was just surprised when he appeared. Sandy warned me but . . .”

“It’s freaky,” Sandy said.

“Well, young gentleman, my Uncle and Aunt are much more powerful than I am,” Apollo said. “They have sworn to protect you. You are safe.”

“Okay,” Holmes said.

“Now, why am I here?” Apollo asked.

“Our young friend found the written record of the prophecy,” Perses said. “From what I gather, he overheard Hedone speaking the prophecy and realized immediately that it was flawed.”

“It’s missing some of it,” Holmes said.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-one - Out of the mouths of babes (part four)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-ONE

(part four)

“They do this think they call ‘walking time.’ So the moment I ask for them, they kind of pop in,” Sandy said. “Some people don’t like it. Freaks them out.”

“Whatever,” Holmes said. “It’s not going to be the worst thing that happened to me.”

“Hold you breath,” Sandy said.

Holmes nodded.

“Heather, I need you,” Sandy said.

Heather appeared a second afterward.

“Shit, that’s crazy!” Holmes said.

His bright eyes and laugh indicate his irrepressible joy for life. Heather looked at him and then back at Sandy. She scowled and opened her mouth.

“He says there’s a verse of the prophecy left out,” Sandy said.

Heather turned to Holmes.

“This is very important,” Heather said. “Can you explain it to me?”

Holmes opened his mouth to start and Heather shook her head.

“Would you mind if I touch you?” Heather asked.

Holmes shook his head. Heather reached out to hold his nearest hand. For Holmes’ part, he was flooded with a sense of peace and love. Tears fell from his eyes at the sheer joy of being so loved. The feeling lingered for weeks after this experience. He would later attribute this moment to changing his life forever. But right now, he simply enjoyed the sensation.

After a moment, Heather shifted away.

“Hecate,” Heather said. “Perses.”

The Titans appeared. Perses had Cleo the cat on his shoulders.

“Hey!” Sandy said. “You can’t treat my cat like that!”

“We thought you might want the whole family,” Hecate said.

Sandy pulled the cat from Perses’ arms. She walked away from them talking to her cat.

“This is Holmes Olivas,” Heather said. “Holmes, I’d like you to meet Hecate and Perses. I believe that you know who they are.”

Still high from his experience of being touched by the goddess of love, he just waved at them.

“He says that there is another verse to the prophecy,” Heather said in Ancient Greek.

“You’re being rather rude,” Perses said, in English.

“He speaks it fluently,” Heather said. “He’s Troy Olivas’ eldest son, raised for his first years by his uncle, Homer. I believe you had some interactions with him.”

“Horrible man,” Hecate said. “Rotten to the core. I bet he made you learn the language so that he could get credit for all of those translations.”

“Exactly,” Heather said. “He abused his children horrifically.”

“Oh no!” Hecate said. Without asking, she touched Holmes’ hand. “I’m so sorry. If he were alive, I would smite him for you. Since he is gone, I can assure you that he will never return.”

Overwhelmed, Holmes began to weep.

“Cleo wants to be out here with you,” Sandy said. She pointed to Perses and squinted, “You be nice.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Perses said, taking the cat from Sandy.

Cleo climbed up onto Perses’ shoulders as if the Titan was wearing a feline shawl.

“What did you do?” Sandy asked. She knelt down to Holmes. “This is a child. He looked bigger and older, more mature, but he . . .”

“We understand,” Hecate said. “No one in this world understands his experience, your experience, more than I do. You have my power.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-one - Out of the mouths of babes (part three)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-ONE

(part three)

“I won’t tell a soul.” Sandy said with a smile.

There was no one in the world that Holmes loved more than his younger brother.

“He made a painting for dad for Christmas,” Holmes said. “It’s at Mike’s studio so dad won’t see it.”

“I might take a peek then,” Sandy said.

“You should,” Holmes said. “Dad’s going to like it so much that he’ll cry.”

Sandy couldn’t help but smile at the sweet boy.

“You were telling me something about living with your uncle,” Sandy said, after a few minutes of silence.

“Oh, I know,” Holmes said with a sigh. “I was avoiding it.”

“Well don’t,” Sandy said. “We have this private time so we can talk.”

Holmes sighed.

“He made me learn Ancient Greek, Latin, and a bunch of other languages so that I could translate these ancient texts that his freak father owned,” Holmes said.

“Why?” Sandy asked with a shrug.

“I’m not really sure,” Holmes said. “He liked to show off and quote these old texts as if he had translated them himself, but it was me.”

“Of course it was,” Sandy said with a shake of his head. “Why shouldn’t he take all the credit for your work?”

“Right,” Holmes said. “But what I wanted to say is this — you’re missing a line of that prophecy.”

“What?” Sandy asked.

“I mean, that’s what made me start listening,” Holmes said. “I heard Heather speaking Ancient Greek. I don’t think I remembered that I knew that prophecy until she spoke it. But she left out a verse.”

Still focused on the boy’s hair, Sandy didn’t respond. Hermes touched Sandy’s hand.

“Oh, sorry,” Sandy said. “I kind of wheeled out there with my anger at your stupid uncle.”

“Heh,” Holmes said. “I do that.”

“I know you do,” Sandy said. “You’re saying that you translated this prophecy and there’s a verse missing. The one they think is about Katy and Paddie?”

Holmes nodded.

“And I think it is about Katy and Paddie,” Holmes said. “And the Vanquisher is a great blade, but the Sword of Truth is truly the greatest blade ever made, at least that’s what the ancient Greeks thought. Of course, Perses had the Vanquisher made and also told the world it was destroyed. At the time of the prophecy, the Vanquisher was considered to have been destroyed in the Titan purge.”

Sandy stopped cutting and looked at Holmes in the mirror.

“I don’t know anything about what you’re saying,” Sandy said. “Would you mind if I asked Heather to help?”

Holmes thought for a moment and then shook his head.

“She might want to bring a few of her friends,” Sandy said.

“They won’t hurt me or want. . . you know,” Holmes said.

“If they do, they’ll have to deal with me,” Sandy said.

She leaned back into her best martial arts stance. She was so small and fierce that Holmes laughed. She smiled.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-one - Out of the mouths of babes (part two)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-ONE

(part two)

After a few minutes, she leaned to the side.

“What’s going on?” Sandy asked.

“It has to do with. . .” Holmes caught Sandy’s eyes in the mirror, “. . .you-know-who.”

Sandy nodded.

“Do you want to leave this long or cut it?” Sandy asked. “Your dad said something about college interviews?”

“No one cares about my hair,” Holmes said. “He just wants me to cut it. He thinks I look like I’m a hippie.”

“What do you want?” Sandy asked.

The boy thought for a long moment before saying.

“You can tell me,” Sandy said.

“I think he’s right, but I don’t want him to win,” Holmes said.

“Fair enough,” Sandy said. “Why don’t we split the difference? We can take most of this length off so it looks a little more professional. You can slick it back or come let me do it when you have your interviews.”

“Sounds perfect!” Holmes said.

“Highlights?” Sandy asked. “Your brother had purple this time.”

“I don’t know,” Holmes said. “You think it will make me more attractive to. . . you know, those guys?”

“Pedophiles?” Sandy asked. She shook her head. Intentionally putting her hand over the top of his shoulder to ground him, she said, “No. This is your body. This is your hair. You can do what you want with it. And if anyone gives you any trouble, what do you do?”

“I call Auntie Alex,” Holmes said with a nod. “Anywhere in the world and she’ll come home and kick their ass so hard they’ll wish they didn’t have an ass.”

Sandy laughed.

“That sounds like Alex,” Sandy said. “Why don’t you let me do this? I think you’ll be pleased.”

Holmes nodded, and Sandy got to work.

“You can talk while I work,” Sandy said.

“Oh, right,” Holmes said. He swallowed hard. “When I lived with dickface. . . Do you mind if I use that word? It’s kind of a swear word.”

“I’ve heard worse,” Sandy said with a laugh.

“Oh, okay,” Holmes said. “Mom and me and Hermes lived with dickface. He wanted so bad to be as smart as my dad, you know, Troy?”

“I do know your father,” Sandy said.

“Right,” Holmes said. “Okay. The only way he could be smart like my dad was to make all of us do the work. Because he was lazy as fuck.”

“What do you mean?” Sandy asked never taking her eyes off his hair.

“I mean, well, okay. . .” Holmes scowled. “You won’t make fun of me?”

“I would never make fun of you,” Sandy said.

“Well, I’m kinda smart too,” Holmes said. “I mean, Hermes is too, but he’s, you know, a different kind of smart from me and dad.”

“Hermes has the soul of an artist,” Sandy said.

“With the mind of a genius,” Holmes said with a grin. “Dad thinks that he’s going to be an architect, but I think he’ll do something literary like write books or poems or maybe paint. He did some painting with Mike when we were there. It’s really good. Oh, I shouldn’t have told you. That was a secret.”

“What’s going on?” Sandy asked.

“It has to do with. . .” Holmes caught Sandy’s eyes in the mirror, “. . .you-know-who.”

Sandy nodded.

“Do you want to leave this long or cut it?” Sandy asked. “Your dad said something about college interviews?”

“No one cares about my hair,” Holmes said. “He just wants me to cut it. He thinks I look like I’m a hippie.”

“What do you want?” Sandy asked.

The boy thought for a long moment before saying.

“You can tell me,” Sandy said.

“I think he’s right, but I don’t want him to win,” Holmes said.

“Fair enough,” Sandy said. “Why don’t we split the difference? We can take most of this length off so it looks a little more professional. You can slick it back or come let me do it when you have your interviews.”

“Sounds perfect!” Holmes said.

“Highlights?” Sandy asked. “Your brother had purple this time.”

“I don’t know,” Holmes said. “You think it will make me more attractive to. . . you know, those guys?”

“Pedophiles?” Sandy asked. She shook her head. Intentionally putting her hand over the top of his shoulder to ground him, she said, “No. This is your body. This is your hair. You can do what you want with it. And if anyone gives you any trouble, what do you do?”

“I call Auntie Alex,” Holmes said with a nod. “Anywhere in the world and she’ll come home and kick their ass so hard they’ll wish they didn’t have an ass.”

Sandy laughed.

“That sounds like Alex,” Sandy said. “Why don’t you let me do this? I think you’ll be pleased.”

Holmes nodded, and Sandy got to work.

“You can talk while I work,” Sandy said.

“Oh, right,” Holmes said. He swallowed hard. “When I lived with dickface. . . Do you mind if I use that word? It’s kind of a swear word.”

“I’ve heard worse,” Sandy said with a laugh.

“Oh, okay,” Holmes said. “Mom and me and Hermes lived with dickface. He wanted so bad to be as smart as my dad, you know, Troy?”

“I do know your father,” Sandy said.

“Right,” Holmes said. “Okay. The only way he could be smart like my dad was to make all of us do the work. Because he was lazy as fuck.”

“What do you mean?” Sandy asked never taking her eyes off his hair.

“I mean, well, okay. . .” Holmes scowled. “You won’t make fun of me?”

“I would never make fun of you,” Sandy said.

“Well, I’m kinda smart too,” Holmes said. “I mean, Hermes is too, but he’s, you know, a different kind of smart from me and dad.”

“Hermes has the soul of an artist,” Sandy said.

“With the mind of a genius,” Holmes said with a grin. “Dad thinks that he’s going to be an architect, but I think he’ll do something literary like write books or poems or maybe paint. He did some painting with Mike when we were there. It’s really good. Oh, I shouldn’t have told you. That was a secret.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-one - Out of the mouths of babes (part one)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-ONE

(part one)

Tuesday midday — 12:45 p.m.

“Can I ask you something?” Holmes Olivas asked Sandy.

He was lying back with his neck resting on the edge of her sink while Sandy was washing his hair. They were in the back of Sandy’s hair salon.

“’Member how you said that I could ask you anything and you would always be honest with me?” Holmes asked.

“Yes,” Sandy said.

“You said that we were connected because of what happened to us,” Holmes said. “And that we have a deep bond that can never be broken.”

“I believe that,” Sandy said. “Do you?”

Holmes nodded.

“But we also agreed that I wouldn’t keep secrets from your dad,” Sandy said.

If you thought I was in danger,” Holmes said.

“Only then,” Sandy said. “Are you in danger?”

“No more than usual,” Holmes said. He gave her a saucy wink.

His blue eyes looked incredibly blue over his blue face mask.

Sandy gave him a soft smile. When she had met him, he had been a small undernourished boy who’d been horrifically abused. His mother had just been killed by the man he’d thought was his father, the man that he’d been named after until his recent name change. He and his brother had just moved to Denver. Alex Hargreaves had asked Sandy if she could try to connect with the boy. Alex felt that Sandy’s recovery from her traumatic past might help Holmes find his way through this new life. In the meantime, Holmes had grown into a lovely, charming, tall boy who was sometimes too bright for his own good.

Holmes’ eyes squinted as if he were smiling.

“What’s up?” Sandy asked.

“Heather is the demi-god Hedone, right?” Holmes asked.

“She has become a full goddess,” Sandy said. “It’s complicated but that’s where things stand. Basically, her father went insane while looking for her mother. He has now retired and retreated with her mother to a romantic island somewhere.”

“Huh,” Holmes said. “Uh, don’t be mad but I listened to your conversation.”

“Oh?” Sandy asked.

“I didn’t mean to,” Holmes said. “I finished an exam early so I just came over. I thought we could eat something if you weren’t busy.”

“Makes sense,” Sandy said.

“You’re not mad that I listened in?” Holmes asked.

“Not particularly,” Sandy said. “Nothing I do is that confidential. Plus you know everyone anyway.”

“Valerie is a siren,” Holmes said. “Delphie is an oracle. Tanesha glows and Jill radiates power.”

Holmes shrugged.

“I don’t know why Tanesha and Jill do that,” Holmes said.

“You should ask them,” Sandy said. “I know that they will tell you all about it if you ask.”

“Okay.” Holmes nodded. “I will.”

“Did you hear something that you’d like to talk about?” Sandy asked.

She finished rinsing the conditioner from his hair. She wrapped his head in a towel and helped him sit up. They walked together to the station she was working at. Because of Covid-19, they were alone in the salon. Sandy was, of course, also wearing a face mask.

“Um, yeah,” Holmes said.

Sandy started combing through his curly dishwater blond hair. Like most people, his hair had grown long over the “stay at home.” It was now past his shoulders. After a few minutes, she leaned to the side.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy - The women of Castle meet

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY

Tuesday midday — 12:15 p.m.

“Say it again,” Delphie said.

“It doesn’t make sense to you either?” Jill asked. “At least it’s not just me and Jacob.”

“I think that it doesn’t make sense because it’s been translated badly,” Delphie said. “Your dad said that the prophecy was made by . . .?”

“The Oracles at Delphi,” Jill said.

“Can you translate it into Greek?” Delphie asked Heather.

The women of the Castle were sitting around the kitchen table. Jill and Heather were on one side of the table. Valerie and Delphie were on the other. Honey was on the end, and Tanesha was on the other end. Sandy’s face was on the computer tablet next to Jill. Still working through her backload of clients, Sandy was on a video call from her salon.

“Sure,” Heather said. “But it still sounds like: ‘There will be a female child — not an average child, but a female child, none the less. She will rise from the greatest house of the great houses, the greatest blade will guide the smallest hand, the smallest blade, the finest cut will change the fate of those strive for powerful and greatness.’”

“Those gals were so high,” Delphie said, her voice low.

“High?” Sandy asked, the only one who caught Delphie’s words.

“They were situated over a well that gave off gas,” Delphie said. “Made them hallucinate. That’s how you have some helpful oracles and others who speak in code.”

“Dad says that they all speak in code,” Jill said. “Even you.”

Delphie laughed.

“He’s probably right,” Delphie said.

“It’s very hard to translate sight into . . . words,” Heather said.

“What are we going to do?” Valerie asked. “We can’t have Katy risking her life for some bullshit greatest house, blade, whatever, and certainly not for those horrible Templars. Bleck.”

Valerie made a face and shook her head.

“I really hate them,” Valerie said.

The women nodded in agreement.

“Let’s take it apart,” Delphie said. “I have a lot of practice at this because I used to do it for training.”

“How do we do that?” Jill asked.

“Read it line for line,” Delphie said.

Jill held her phone in front of her face and read the prophecy she’d typed there.

“There will be a female child — not an average child, but a female child, none the less,” Jill said. She looked up at Delphie.

“That’s just saying that a female will be important,” Delphie said. “This would have been very usual and almost world-shattering, at that time. Women were slaves to their husbands and sons. While there were goddesses, they were made irrelevant by inserting petty storylines in between their great deeds.”

“Like Hera being angry about Zeus’ cheating,” Heather said.

“She wasn’t?” Valerie asked.

“You can ask her,” Heather said. “She was upset and offended that he assaulted women, and some men. She spent most of her time going around after her husband trying to repair what he’d broken. They are siblings. She was trying to take care of her brother.”

“Didn’t they have kids?” Tanesha asked.

“Define ‘they’,” Heather said. “At least one of them was born after Zeus was in the Sea of Amber.”

Heather shrugged.

“I’m really worried about Katy,” Jill said.

“Yes, let’s focus here,” Delphie said. “How does Katy fit this line?”

“She’s not average,” Sandy said. “That’s for sure.”

“She is not,” Jill said.

Everyone nodded.

“She is a female,” Delphie said. “And not average. So this means it could be her.”

“Or Jackie,” Tanesha said. “Or really any girl in this modern time.”

“It’s true,” Delphie said. “Just because the Titans think it’s Katy, doesn’t mean that it actually is.”

“My point,” Jill said.

Delphie gave her a smile.

“What’s next?” Delphie asked.

“She will rise from the greatest house of the great houses, the greatest blade will guide the smallest hand, the smallest blade, the finest cut will change the fate of those strive for powerful and greatness,” Jill repeated.

“Why don’t we break that up?” Delphie said. “’She will rise from the greatest house of the great houses.’ Her father, Jacob, is fairy in origin.”

“Take one look at Fin and that’s obvious,” Heather said.

Everyone nodded.

“Not to mention all of that madness around Jill having the boys and Queen Fand,” Valerie said.

“True,” Jill said. “But are the fairies a ‘great house?’”

“I’d say ‘Yes,’” Heather said.

“Why?” Valerie asked. “I don’t disagree with you. I’m just wondering what your reasoning is.”

“Oh,” Heather said. “After Abi, Gilfand, and my grandmother, Aphrodite, the fairies are the first humanoid inhabitants of this planet. They were fighting and warring with each other when the dinosaurs were still here. Every queendom has stories about what they did during Panagea and the other continential merges. They even have stories about when the meteor that killed the dinosaurs caught the world on fire.”

“You’re right,” Sandy said. “That does make sense.”

Everyone nodded.

“You are from a healing house in Russia,” Delphie said. “You have to know how rare that gift is.”

“I guess,” Jill said with a shrug. “We kept it a secret when I was a kid. It was forbidden by Roper. I still feel a little rogue when I use it.”

“It’s a rare gift,” Heather said putting an end to any debate. “I’ve only known one other healer. Hecate, who you know has traveled all over the earth during every time, has also only known one other healer like you.”

“The same person?” Tanesha asked.

“Exactly,” Heather said.

“Fairy and Healer?” Delphie nodded. “Those are two great houses.”

“This house was once three buildings,” Valerie said. “I didn’t really get it until Jake showed us around recently. He combined three houses for mom.”

“Some of it was done — and burned — when we moved in,” Delphie said. “But yes, you’re right.”

“That might make this house a great house of houses,” Honey said. “Wait. Is that right? What is it?”

“She will rise from the greatest house of the great houses,” Jill read again.

Valerie shrugged. Jill looked from face to face. Every one of these beloved women seemed to think that at least this far, the prophecy could refer to her baby Katy. Jill’s fear for her daughter brought tears to her eyes. For a moment, Heather rubbed Jill’s back while they waited for Jill to regain her composure.

“What’s next?” Valerie asked.

“Are we ready to look at what’s next?” Delphie asked.

“I really need to know,” Jill said. “The unknowing is killing me.”

“Then read the next bit,” Delphie said.

“Okay, it goes: ‘The greatest blade will guide the smallest hand,’” Jill said. “That’s the Sword of Truth, right?”

“We should ask Nelson or his father,” Valerie said, but her concerned look seemed to say that she agreed with Jill. “They are sword experts.”

“It seems to me that there are lots of ‘great swords,’” Tanesha said. “I mean, doesn’t Evie had a blade that chops off heads? Nelson now has the sword of Jacques de Molay. Sandy has a bunch of swords at O’Malley’s house from the Polish salt mine. How can the Sword of Truth be the ‘greatest blade?’”

For all of her scoffing words, Tanesha looked as frightened as Jill. She looked at Heather.

“Tell us,” Tanesha said.

“I’m not an expert at swords,” Heather said. “Should we get one here?”

“No,” the women said in near unison.

“Not right now,” Delphie said. “This is a meeting of the women of the Castle. If your grandfather comes or even Pierre, they will alter our conversation.”

“I think it’s best for us to know what we want before we include others,” Honey said.

“I agree,” Sandy said at the same time Tanesha said, “Absolutely.”

“Why don’t you tell us what you know, Heather?” Honey asked. “You always defer to other people or other gods and goddesses. You’ve lived a long time. You have some experience with all of this.”

“Every time I hear a story about you, Hedone, it’s always about how you played some integral role in saving someone or something or a difficult situation,” Delphie said.

Cleo the cat hopped up onto the table.

“Case in point,” Delphie said.

Heather scowled and looked around. Cleo went to Heather and she put the cat onto her lap. Cleo circled once, and settled into Heather’s lap. The women turned to look at Heather.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Heather said. “Fine. What’s the question?”

“Is the ‘greatest blade’ the Sword of Truth?” Valerie asked.

“You forget the Vanquisher,” Heather said.

“What do you mean?” Jill asked. “Dad said that it was called the ‘Baby sitter’ before it got this name.”

“So were pit bulls,” Tanesha said.

Jill shot her a worried look.

“Uh,” Heather looked from Tanesha to Jill. “The Sword of Truth is a very special blade. It’s really a one of a kind. Very special.”

“What about . . .?” Jill anxiously jumped in.

“Give her a minute,” Delphie chided.

“Sorry, I’m just . . .” Jill shook her head.

“I know,” Heather said.

“We all understand,” Honey said.

“100%,” Sandy said.

“I wanted to say the prophecy in ancient Greek so that you could hear what it sounds like,” Heather said.

“Go ahead,” Delphie said.

Heather repeated the prophecy in ancient Greek. The women were silent for a long moment when she finished.

“It sounds . . .” Jill said.

“Better,” Sandy said.

“It feels like truth to me,” Valerie said.

Heather nodded.

“I thought it might help to hear what it would have sounded like,” Heather said. “It’s not a threat or a worry. It’s just something that is true and something that will resolve itself without anyone remembering it happened.”

“Is she right?” Jill asked.

“That’s a way to think about it,” Delphie said with a nod. “I’d agree. There’s nothing to worry over here.”

“It’s my daughter,” Jill said. “My little girl! How can you . . .?”

Heather put her hand over Jill’s hand. Jill looked up into her face.

“We all love Katy, and you,” Heather said. “We’re here to figure out what this means, but more than that — we want to know how we can help.”

“Help?” Jill asked.

“Of course,” Honey said.

Jill looked from face to face to see these amazing woman nodding. Her eyes lingered on Tanesha.

“I’ll kill the person who hurts my Katy,” Tanesha said with her characteristic fierceness.

“Thanks,” Jill said meekly.

“Heather?” Delphie asked.

“Right,” Heather said. “It’s hard to explain. First, of course, you’re right. There are a lot of great swords. Some hold special powers. We’ve seen some of those from the Polish mine. You remember that sword that Blane took that absolved everyone of responsibility? That’s certainly special.”

Everyone nodded.

“Some blade are made out of special things,” Heather said. “Nelson found amber at the core of Jacques de Molay’s blade. There are even a few that have divine purposes.”

“Archangel Michael is supposed to have swords,” Honey said. When the women looked at her, she shrugged, “Catholic school.”

“We went to Catholic school,” Sandy said. “I don’t think any of us remember that.”

Tanesha, Jill, and Heather shook their heads.

“Did we learn about swords?” Heather asked.

“Did we care?” Tanesha said.

They laughed. After a few minutes, the women turned to look at Heather.

“So, yes, Michael is said to have his own special blades,” Heather said. “As does Lucifer.”

“You seem to be avoiding saying something,” Delphie said.

“I’m trying to give context,” Heather said. “I think it’s hard to see that the Sword of Truth and the Vanquisher are special blades when they are the first special blades that you’ve seen or know about.”

“You think this prophecy is referring to the Sword of Truth,” Jill said.

“Actually . . .” Heather sighed. “The Vanquisher is technically a knife for someone your Dad’s size. You’ll notice that the prophecy actually doesn’t refer to a ‘sword’ but rather a ‘blade.’”

“You think that it’s the Vanquisher?” Delphie asked.

“I think it’s referring to the Vanquisher,” Heather said. “If not the Vanquisher, then, and only then, is it about the Sword of Truth. It’s hard to understand because we all know your father as, well, your father. He says that the Vanquisher isn’t what it’s thought to be. But it’s thought to be a threat to survival on the entire planet! I asked him about this very thing and he told me that the sword is only as dangerous as her owner.”

“Infuriating man,” Delphie said.

“Mmm.” Heather nodded. “Can you say the last of it?”

“Uh.” Jill looked to her phone again. She said, “It does say something about ‘the smallest blade.’”

“That could be anything,” Delphie said. She held her hand up with her fingers together. “This is called a blade sometimes.”

Delphie shrugged.

“It also fits the Vanquisher,” Honey said.

“There are lots of smaller blades,” Delphie said. “I’m sure Nelson would have a lot to say about blades, knives, small swords, and everything in between.”

Delphie shrugged.

“I don’t think we can think that it fits the Vanquisher,” Delphie said. “That said, I agree with Heather. I think the prophecy is referring to the Vanquisher.”

“There’s more,” Jill said.

“Go ahead,” Delphie said.

“The finest cut will change the fate of those strive for powerful and greatness,” Jill read from her phone.

“No idea,” Heather said.

The other women just shrugged.

“Do we think that’s the Templars?” Delphie asked.

“It seems to me that they only care about riches,” Valerie said.

“And raping people,” Sandy said.

“Power and greatness?” Delphie asked. She thought for a moment and shook her head. “Could be anything, honestly.”

Everyone nodded in agreement.

“Hey,” Sandy said. “I have to go.”

She leaned to the side to show Holmes Olivas, U.S. Army Captain Troy Olivas’ eldest son, was standing just behind her.

“He’s early,” Sandy said.

“I can wait,” Holmes said.

“We’re done, basically,” Sandy said.

“Hi everybody,” Holmes said with a wave.

“Hi Holmes!” Everyone waved to the young man.

“We’ll talk more,” Sandy said. She waved and was gone.

“So what do we think?” Delphie asked the women at the table.

“I think we’re talking about Katy and her knife,” Jill said.

No one said anything for a long moment. Finally, Delphie sighed.

“Yes, I think we have to assume that it’s about Katy,” Delphie said.

“But we can’t rule out that it’s not about both Katy and Paddie,” Heather said.

“For some reason, that feels right to me as well,” Honey said. “I think we have to talk to both children.”

“If both children, then both swords,” Valerie said.

“We need to keep a watch over both children,” Heather said with a nod.

“More than they already have?” Jill asked. “Hecate is watching their ‘energy’ — whatever that is. Cleo’s sister. . .”

“Leto,” Heather said.

“Her,” Jill said. “She’s the principal at the school. Because of Covid, they only go to school and home again. They are watched all the time.”

“And still they manage to have ‘adventures,’” Delphie said.

“What am I going to do?” Jill asked.

“I wondered. . .” Delphie looked up at Jill. “I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but I think there’s a question here.”

“Anything,” Jill said.

“Why are you so insistent that Katy is just a child?” Delphie asked. “That she is not special, heroic, or even mythological?”

“Because she’s a child!” Jill said.

No one said anything for a long moment. Tanesha gave Jill a soft look and then turned to Delphie.

“When Katy was a baby, she showed signs of being extraordinary,” Tanesha said. “We talked about what do to about it. Should we send her somewhere to be tested? Was there something medically wrong with her?”

“Medically wrong?” Valerie asked.

“You hear about people who have tumors or illnesses that have them seeing ghosts or moving things with their minds or whatever,” Heather said.

“Ah,” Valerie said.

“We decided that for as long as Katy was a child, we would treat her like a child,” Tanesha said.

“Allow her a chance to grow up,” Jill said.

“We wanted to give her the childhood that none of us had,” Heather said. “One filled with love and laughter, joy.”

“We were also afraid that if Trever knew that Katy could do amazing things, that he would sell her gifts or use her in some horrible way,” Jill said. She looked at her friends. “We needed to convince him that she was just a dumb kid so that he wouldn’t fixate on making money or perverting her special gifts.”

“That makes more sense,” Delphie said. “But it also begs the question: ‘Does she need that now?’ She’s surrounded by people who love an accept her. She is much adored by her grandparents and her parents.”

“Aunties,” Tanesha said.

“And Aunts!” Honey said with a nod to Valerie.

“I’m not sure what you’re saying,” Jill said.

“I guess I’m asking — what if Katy isn’t just a little girl?” Delphie asked. “What if she’s supposed to save the world? What is she is, for lack of a more sophisticated understanding, a goddess?”

No one said anything for a long moment.

“She is the culmination of a long series of genes going back through Titan genetics and your grandfather’s family,” Delphie said. “That’s what we know about. She could be related to any number of kings and queens of old or maybe even just a new species of human.”

“She’s still a little girl!” Jill said.

“She’s still at the beginning of her life,” Delphie said. “I’ll grant you that. Paddie, too. They will live their entire lives with these swords. They will have many experiences and adventures.”

“And?” Jill asked. “This is still her childhood.”

“And, none of their experiences and adventures could be defined within the realm of ‘normal,’” Delphie said. “Can you accept that?”

“Why does it matter?” Jill asked. “These Gods and whatevers come from all over to treat her as special. She still has to clean her room and stop stealing ice cream for the twins!”

“Is she the one who’s taking all the ice cream?” Honey asked. “I thought it was the teenagers. I can’t keep it in the freezer!”

“Stinker,” Valerie said with a shake of her head.

“I think that you make a valid point,” Delphie said. “And, I’d ask you simply to contemplate that you are not normal. Jake’s not normal. Val’s kids aren’t normal. Maybe your kids are not normal.”

Jill scowled.

“Just think about it,” Delphie said.

“I have to get to the hospital,” Tanesha said.

Her words acted like a spell. Their council was over. The women returned to their busy lives each wondering what was next for them, and for their precious Katy.

Denver Cereal continues next week...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy - The women of Castle meet (part six)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY

(part six)

“Medically wrong?” Valerie asked.

“You hear about people who have tumors or illnesses that have them seeing ghosts or moving things with their minds or whatever,” Heather said.

“Ah,” Valerie said.

“We decided that for as long as Katy was a child, we would treat her like a child,” Tanesha said.

“Allow her a chance to grow up,” Jill said.

“We wanted to give her the childhood that none of us had,” Heather said. “One filled with love and laughter, joy.”

“We were also afraid that if Trever knew that Katy could do amazing things, that he would sell her gifts or use her in some horrible way,” Jill said. She looked at her friends. “We needed to convince him that she was just a dumb kid so that he wouldn’t fixate on making money or perverting her special gifts.”

“That makes more sense,” Delphie said. “But it also begs the question: ‘Does she need that now?’ She’s surrounded by people who love an accept her. She is much adored by her grandparents and her parents.”

“Aunties,” Tanesha said.

“And Aunts!” Honey said with a nod to Valerie.

“I’m not sure what you’re saying,” Jill said.

“I guess I’m asking — what if Katy isn’t just a little girl?” Delphie asked. “What if she’s supposed to save the world? What is she is, for lack of a more sophisticated understanding, a goddess?”

No one said anything for a long moment.

“She is the culmination of a long series of genes going back through Titan genetics and your grandfather’s family,” Delphie said. “That’s what we know about. She could be related to any number of kings and queens of old or maybe even just a new species of human.”

“She’s still a little girl!” Jill said.

“She’s still at the beginning of her life,” Delphie said. “I’ll grant you that. Paddie, too. They will live their entire lives with these swords. They will have many experiences and adventures.”

“And?” Jill asked. “This is still her childhood.”

“And, none of their experiences and adventures could be defined within the realm of ‘normal,’” Delphie said. “Can you accept that?”

“Why does it matter?” Jill asked. “These Gods and whatevers come from all over to treat her as special. She still has to clean her room and stop stealing ice cream for the twins!”

“Is she the one who’s taking all the ice cream?” Honey asked. “I thought it was the teenagers. I can’t keep it in the freezer!”

“Stinker,” Valerie said with a shake of her head.

“I think that you make a valid point,” Delphie said. “And, I’d ask you simply to contemplate that you are not normal. Jake’s not normal. Val’s kids aren’t normal. Maybe your kids are not normal.”

Jill scowled.

“Just think about it,” Delphie said.

“I have to get to the hospital,” Tanesha said.

Her words acted like a spell. Their council was over. The women returned to their busy lives each wondering what was next for them, and for their precious Katy.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday...