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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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...