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 (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...


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 five)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY

(part five)

“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?”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


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

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY

(part four)

“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?”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


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

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY

(part three)

“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.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


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

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY

(part two)

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.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


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

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY

(part one)

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.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Sixty-nine - Old remedies, new times

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY-NINE

Monday night — 9:45 p.m.

Jill followed Nelson out of the back sliding glass door. They walked across their private courtyard and up the six steps to the carriage house Nelson used to live in. They went around the corner to reach the front door of the carriage house.

Nelson knocked twice.

“Just give them a heads up,” Nelson said.

Jill nodded. Nelson let them inside the carriage house. Jill stood in the entrance and listened. She’d been here many times to help Nelson’s father, Pierre Semaines, when he was unconscious. She knew that her mother and her grandfather had also been here. Their efforts focused on strengthening Pierre so that he would be able to survive long enough for Nelson to find the Templar Hoard. Now that Mari had brought the “Adam’s Apple” ruby, Pierre Semaines was healing from the months of being inactive.

“He just woke up,” the nurse said. “We’ve had a shower and changed.”

“Would you like a little break?” Nelson asked.

“Sounds good to me,” the nurse said. “But please — no more than a half-hour. He pretends to be well, but he tires easily.”

“Thank you,” Jill said with a nod.

The nurse smiled at Jill and nodded to Nelson before leaving the room. They listened while she went outside. Jill knew that she liked to sit in the sunny patio outside the door between the carriage house and Mr. Matchel’s home. This time of the night, Jill assumed the nurse was reading her emails.

“Nelson?” Pierre croaked from his bed.

They went around the corner to find Pierre in his hospital bed. They had set up the bed in what had been Nelson’s dining room. Nelson leaned over to kiss his father’s cheek. They spoke back and forth in quiet, quick French.

“Jill!” Pierre said. “My son tells me that you, your mother, and grandfather are one of the reasons I am still here.”

Embarrassed, Jill looked down and smoothed her hair.

“How are you, sir?” Jill asked.

“Now, now,” Pierre said. “Call me Pierre. You are family after all.”

“Sir?” Jill asked.

“My son is in a committed relationship with Blane, who is your husband’s. . .” Pierre shrugged. “Brother?”

“Cousin,” Jill said.

“That makes you family,” Pierre said. “Not to mention that you’ve helped me in a way that I can never repay.”

Jill looked down.

“Are you a Titan?” Pierre asked.

“Me?” Jill asked.

She looked up to see Nelson nodding. Pierre’s intense eyes tracked her face.

“My father is Perses,” Jill said. “My mother is human. We are mostly human.”

Pierre gave her a doubting look but nodded to let her off the hook.

“Help me up,” Pierre said in French.

Nelson helped his father to sitting.

“I am allowed to walk a tiny bit inside the house,” Pierre said. “Would you like to walk with me?”

Nelson looked at Jill, and she nodded.

“Shall I make us some tea?” Nelson asked.

“No,” Pierre said with a laugh. “I’ve had so much tea. I would like to see you, speak with you.”

Pierre looked at Jill and then winked at Nelson.

“This beautiful woman is not here for tea,” Pierre said.

Jill blushed. Nelson put his arm over her shoulder and said, “French men. We are just like that.”

Jill grinned.

“Let’s see if we can make it to the living room,” Pierre said. “Now little Titan-ling, may I draw on your strength?”

“Nelson said. . .” Jill said abruptly.

“He is right,” Pierre said. “But he forgets that I need strength. May I borrow some of yours?”

“Of course,” Jill said.

“I will put my arm over your shoulder,” Pierre said.

Pierre’s arm went over her shoulder. She put her arm around him. Pierre put his arm over Nelson’s shoulder as well.

They shuffled to the steps to Nelson’s living room. Jill closed her eyes and let out a breath. She directed some of her strength into Pierre.

“Thank you,” Pierre said.

They took the steps one at a time.

“This is a real prize,” Pierre said with a laugh.

Nelson directed Pierre to the comfortable reclining chair. Nelson checked that his father didn’t need anything before sitting on the couch. Jill took an armchair across from Nelson.

“Tell me what brings you here in the middle of the night,” Pierre said.

“My daughter was giving the Vanquisher,” Jill said.

“Not possible,” Pierre said. “The sword was destroyed.”

“The sword was made by Jill’s father Perses,” Nelson said. “Or so he says. He left it where he was told that his granddaughter would get it. Maughold was to give her the sword when he gave the Sword of Truth to Paddie.”

Pierre squinted at Nelson to see if he was saying the truth. Nelson nodded.

“I would show you the sword, but. . .” Jill said.

“You cannot break the sword of power away from her owner,” Pierre said with a nod. “Have I seen the Sword of Truth?”

“I don’t think so,” Nelson said.

Pierre nodded.

“My daughter is just a little girl,” Jill said with a sigh.

“How old is she now?” Pierre asked.

“She’ll be eight this month,” Jill said. “Paddie is seven.”

Pierre nodded.

“You know that many Queens of old were crowned at nine years old,” Pierre said.

“So?” Jill shrugged. “She is a little girl. Whatever she does with her life or in her life, she deserves some time to just be a little girl.”

“I see,” Pierre said. “Her father has fairy ancestry?”

Jill gave him an assessing look.

“Why?” Jill asked.

“There is a prophesy,” Pierre said.

Jill shot an angry look at Nelson.

“Jill is angry with me for not telling her about a prophesy that involves the Templars and her daughter,” Nelson said. He put his hand on his chest. “I don’t know of one.”

“That’s true,” Pierre said. “My son never took a lot of stock in prophesies, even the ones that include him.”

“Until I met Delphie,” Nelson said.

“The Oracle,” Pierre said with a nod. “Yes.”

Pierre sighed and Jill could see just how sick and fragile Pierre was still.

“I remember,” Pierre said. “Delphie.”

“She’s been here with you while you were sick,” Nelson said.

“I will look forward to another visit,” Pierre said. “I saw Maresol today. She’s always such a breath of fresh air.”

Jill and Nelson smiled at Pierre’s smile.

“You didn’t come here to hear about my day,” Pierre said. “Tell me — what has happened?”

Nelson nodded to Jill.

“Dad,” Jill said.

Perses arrived so quickly that Nelson jumped to his feet. Pierre yelped and leaned back.

“Nelson,” Perses said in a kind of growl. Seeing, Pierre’s fright, he shifted, “I apologize Mr. Semaines. It was not my intention to alarm you.”

“You know who I am?” Pierre asked.

“You were the Grand Master of the Templars,” Perses said. “You may not remember me being there, but I was in Arizona when the Templars attacked.”

“My sister, Candy, had to make him promise not to kill everyone,” Jill said.

“They died anyway,” Pierre said.

“Yes,” Perses said. “Now, let’s make you comfortable.”

Perses turned to Nelson.

“He needs something warm to drink,” Perses said. He closed his eyes. “Mulled wine would be perfect. Do you have something like that?”

“I can. . .” Nelson started.

“Heather,” Jill said.

There was a knock at the door and Heather came into the carriage house. She was wearing her bathrobe over her pajamas.

“My father is very ill!” Nelson said. “More people, more risk of virus — what are you doing?”

“Define ‘people,’” Pierre said with a laugh.

“How may I be of service?” Heather asked.

“Dad says that Pierre needs something like mulled wine,” Jill said with a shrug. “I don’t. . .”

Heather knelt down to Pierre. She put her hands on either side of Pierre’s face. Nelson gawked at her.

“He is stronger than he looks,” Heather said. “You are correct, Perses.”

“Of course I am,” Perses said with a sniff.

Heather openly laughed at him which made Perses grin at her. Heather held out her hand and a jug of wine appeared.

“With the oranges?” Perses asked. “Spices? Honey?”

“Of course,” Heather said. She looked at Nelson and said, “Mugs?”

“What is that?” Nelson asked. He couldn’t help but be a snippy doctor. “I’m not going to get my father drunk on some crap from your freak of a grandfather’s cellar! I. . .”

“The alcohol is much reduced by the cooking,” Heather said. “It has what your father needs. You can either give it to him or. . .”

“Fuck,” Nelson said.

Jill got up and ran to the kitchen. She took five mugs from the cabinet and returned. Heather poured the wine. Perses passed out the mugs. For a moment, everyone took a sip of the wine. After a first sip, Pierre swallowed down the wine. Heather refilled his mug.

“Slowly, now,” Heather said.

“Ma’am,” Pierre said.

The room was silent as they took sips of the wine, fruit, and spice mixture.

“This is really good,” Jill said, surprised.

Heather nodded.

“It’s an old remedy,” Perses said. “But sometimes, the old remedies are the best. How are you feeling, Pierre?”

“Better,” Pierre said. “Thank you. This brings me back to my mother’s kitchen. She made something like this. Where did it come from?”

“My grandfather’s home,” Heather said. “His bees, oranges. . . come to think of it, I think he grows the spices too.”

Pierre took another drink.

“You are here about the prophesy,” Pierre said. “We should speak quickly before the nurse returns.”

“Is this the prophesy my sister referred to?” Perses asked.

“Yes,” Jill glared at Nelson.

“I did not know,” Nelson said. “You know that I love Katy.”

“Oh, Katy?” Perses looked at Jill. “You think it’s Katy?”

“Your sister told Katy that. . .” Jill said. Angry again, she just shook her head.

“She has the Vanquisher,” Nelson said.

“Yes,” Perses said.

“That sword is yours?” Pierre asked Perses.

“I had it made,” Perses said with a shrug.

“Huh,” Pierre said.

“Who made the prophesy?” Heather asked.

“Oracle of Delphi, actually,” Pierre said. He nodded to Perses. “You knew them?”

“Sure,” Perses said. “Some of them were as good as our Delphie. Most of them were not. Our Delphie is the best oracle that I’ve ever known.”

Perses shrugged.

“The woman who told me to leave the sword with Maughold,” Perses said. He sipped his mulled wine. “That was right.”

“What. Did. She. Say?” Jill said her words through her teeth. “What is this God damned prophesy?”

Her words echoed in the living room as if she’d shouted. Nelson and Pierre looked a little shocked while her father laughed, and Heather smiled.

“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.”

“What?” Perses asked.

Pierre held up a finger. Everyone in the room leaned forward.

Pierre said. “My father used to add this last bit — ‘And the swords of the son — either ‘s-o-n’ or ‘s-u-n’ — will fade into the darkness from whence they came. None who survives will remember.’”

Pierre nodded to Nelson and said, “Your mother used to add — ‘Watch for her as she will need your help, your love, but get out of the way when the time is ripe.’”

No one said anything for a long moment.

“Well, at least that’s clear,” Heather said.

Everyone gawked at her. When Heather started to laugh, everyone laughed.

“That could mean anything!” Jill said. “It probably doesn’t have anything to do with Katy.”

“Yes, I’m afraid that’s true,” Pierre said. “May I ask — your daughter? Is she. . . special?”

While everyone nodded, Jill said, “She’s just a little girl.”

“And if she isn’t?” Pierre asked.

“Whatever she is, she is a little girl!” Jill insisted.

Pierre gave Jill a kind nod.

“I understand,” Pierre said. “I’m the father of the last Grand Master of the Templars. I don’t love that my son is out there risking his life. I tried to hold onto the title for as long as I possibly could. But there was nothing I could do. He was bound to take on the role no matter what I did.”

“I. . .” Jill shook her head. She nodded to Pierre. “Thank you, Mr. Semaines. I have to think about everything. Talk to Jake.”

“I understand,” Pierre said.

Jill nodded and started toward the door. Heather got up, smiled at Pierre, and left with Jill.

“It was nice to see you again,” Perses said before disappearing.

For a moment, Nelson and Pierre sat in the living room together.

“Do you get used to it?” Pierre asked Nelson.

“Used to what?” Nelson asked.

“Their coming and going?” Pierre asked.

“They are like the tide,” Nelson said. “They come and they go. I never know who or what will be there. It’s. . . interesting, I guess.”

Nelson shrugged.

“I have been an ER doctor for a while,” Nelson said. “Being an ER doctor is likethat. I never know if they are bringing good things or some horror. But that’s true for most people.”

Pierre nodded. He sighed and Nelson saw how tired his father had become.

“Let’s get you back to bed,” Nelson said.

“I hate that bed,” Pierre said.

“You are getting better,” Nelson said. “You must rest to regain your strength.”

Nelson pulled his father to his feet. They hugged for a long moment. Nelson tried to will his strength into his father.

“I’m okay, son,” Pierre said in French.

“I know,” Nelson replied in French. “Let’s get you back to bed.”

They were across the living room when the nurse returned. She helped Nelson get Pierre back in bed. Nelson stayed long enough to help get his father settled. Nelson’s own exhaustion returned the moment he stepped out of the carriage house. He moved across the yard and stumbled up the stairs to his room.

Not for the first time, he was grateful for his own private space. He used his bathroom and got into bed. He was just falling asleep when he realized that he had previously heard that prophesy. He fell asleep wondering when he’d heard it.

~~~~~~~~

Monday night — 10:15 p.m.

Valerie tapped on the door to her old apartment. When Ivan didn’t answer, she peaked inside. Ivan was sitting in an armchair with a tablet computer on his lap. He waved her inside.

Valerie opened the door, picked up the legged tray, and went inside. The tray had Ivan’s Chinese medicine, his night time cancer medication regimen, a croissant, and a pot of tea. Because Valerie and Mike were usually awake at this time of night, she usually brought Ivan his night time medications and a snack.

“Thank you,” Ivan said without seeing the tray.

“It’s my pleasure,” Valerie said. “How is Sissy?”

Sissy had returned to France to take a position in the chorus at the Opera de Paris ballet. She, the lead boy, and the lead girl from their school had all been offered parts.

“She is well,” Ivan said. “Bored. It’s common for students to be board by the company if they join the company associated with their school.”

“Oh?” Valerie asked.

She set the tray on the table. She removed the saucer from the top of Ivan’s Chinese medicine tea.

“Mmm,” Ivan said. “Smells absolutely horrible tonight.”

“I’d love to hear more about Sissy,” Valerie said. “Why don’t you sip it and tell me how she is?”

Ivan nodded.

“She’s cleared my things from the apartment I was staying in,” Ivan said. “I thought that she would move in there, but she is back with Claire and Ben. She says that being around family makes her happy and being on her own reminds her of her childhood loneliness.”

Valerie spied that Ivan was about halfway through his drink.

“I understand that,” Valerie said. “Her life seemed pretty bad, and I was way on the sidelines.”

Ivan swallowed down the rest of the Chinese medicine. He grimaced.

“We have to wait a few minutes before you can drink anything,” Valerie said.

Ivan nodded.

“What does she like about living with Claire and Ben?” Valerie asked.

“Oh,” Ivan said. “They have a young children. Sissy loves little kids. Claire has been able to mother Sissy in a way that is exactly what she needs. I cannot describe it. It’s beautiful to witness. They have been so kind to Sissy.”

Ivan looked at Valerie.

“You have been kind to me,” Ivan said. “How are you? How is the scripting going?”

“For the new movie?” Valerie asked. “Slow. Very very slow.”

She held out the pills for Ivan to take and a glass of what looked like water. He swallowed down the pills.

“What is this?” Ivan held up the water. He took a sip. “It takes like water and is not water.”

“Jill infused it with her special healing,” Valerie said. “She thought it might help make everything work.”

“Anything,” Ivan said. “I’m happy to do anything.”

Valerie gave him a soft smile. He closed his eyes but gestured for her to keep speaking.

“My ego likes that I’m getting parts for more serious roles,” Valerie said.

“Yes, I have been there,” Ivan said with a smile.

“But they are so slow to come together,” Valerie said. “I could be filming an action or a thriller right now. Instead, I’m waiting on scripting. Honestly, Ivan, I don’t know if I have the temperament for this more serious work.”

Ivan smiled at her.

“You do,” Ivan said. “See how you feel when you are filming the part. It’ll make up for all of this chaos and anxiety.”

“I hope so,” Valerie said.

Ivan sighed.

“Try to eat,” Valerie said. Switching to her “special” voice, she added, “We got these today from the French bakery. It’s warm.”

Valerie poured him some tea from pot.

“This is from our mint patch,” Valerie said. “I put in Delphie’s honey as you like it.”

Ivan had such a hard time eating that he continued to lose weight. Valerie found that he‘d eat if she asked in her special voice, even though he knew that she was using it.

He drank some tea and ate a piece of the croissant.

“Delicious,” Ivan said. He took three more bites and finished his tea. “As always. . .”

Ivan fell sound asleep. Valerie put the computer tablet on the table. As she did every night, she took off his shoes. There was a tap at the door and Mike came in. While Mike was changing Ivan into his bed clothing, Valerie collected his dirty dishes. Mike got Ivan settled into bed. They left their old apartment together.

There was nothing anyone could say about what was happening with Ivan. According to the doctors and Blane, he would either get well or he wouldn’t.

They deposited the tray of dirty dishes in the main Castle kitchen and went to pick up their children from Honey’s apartment. Arm in arm, they went to their new apartment.

Denver Cereal continues next week...