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The Pearls of Fand

 
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Fragile Fury
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:47 am    Post subject: The Pearls of Fand Reply with quote

“Stephen has lost his mind and this is why the crew is restless.” It was what ran through her head as the mug of tea shattered. Before she had the opportunity to follow her husband, Jewell was out the inn door after him. That action had been telling to Diana. She avoiding meeting the woman out front by taking the side exit. She further avoided Stephen’s usual haunt on the docks by going straight back to the island that had been their home for about three years. Dee packed up some personal belongings and left a note pinned to the front door with a Bowie knife.

Stephen,

Gone to the homestead. You need some time and so do I.

Diana


It wasn’t the quite the truth, but it wasn’t a lie, either. She considered tieing a couple pieces of jewelry to the knife’s hilt, but she wasn’t quite ready for that. Not yet.

It was after dark when she finally got to her mother’s home. There was dampness in the air. Or, as her mother often said, a storm in the wind. Save for a light glowing in the window of Colleen’s private office, the house was dark and seemed empty. It was empty. There was no sensation of peacefully dreaming children or laughter as tended to come from the place at night. She shivered despite the warmth in the misty rain that finally started to fall. And it was then that Diana realized the storm wasn’t just a weather front. Her mother was having her own share of problems.

Colleen heard the door open and moved into the front hall. “Diana… what’s wrong?”

“You could let me get inside first.” Dee chuckled huskily and set her dufflebag down. “Hello, Mother.” She wrapped her arms around Colleen to hug her. “Maybe you ought to be telling me what’s wrong.”

“Ohhhh no, the daughter should not be solving the mother’s problems. Besides, I need ta get my mind off the empty house.” Collie smiled and made her way into the kitchen. As was her custom, there was always freshly brewed tea and pastries in the kitchen. She was pouring the tea as Diana was coming through the door. “So, ya goin’ ta me what’s goin’ on ‘r do I have ta pry it out o’ ya?”

“What can you tell me about Fand’s Pearls?”

The question had caught the older woman off guard and the shaking of the mug in her hand didn’t hide that fact. “Why?”

“Because I want to find them and bring them home to us where they belong.”

Collie set her mug on the counter. “It’d be unwise ta go alone.”

Ever the chess master, Diana countered with, “I wasn’t asking you to go. I need to go alone, wise or not.”

She cleared her throat and sized up Diana with a single glance. “I know better than to try and stop ya, but why now? Kirin’s no longer here ‘n’ they would have been hers ta look fer.”

“Playing that card is beneath you, Mother.” Diana’s lips flatlined. She was silent as was her mother while the clock on the wall ticked away the minutes. It was Diana that finally broke the silence. “I need a change of scenery,” she murmured. “I need time and distance.”

“What about the squadron? People depend on ya fer their jobs.”

“Michael can do that. As long as he stays clear of the liquor, the gambling, and the women.”

“Right, dreamin’, are ya?” Collie’s forehead furrowed. “I keep thinkin’ I know who he is, but I can’t put m’finger on it.” She pointed at her daughter. “Michael Frances Jameson, I could almost swear he chose his last name because it’s someone’s favorite whiskey.” She took a healthy swallow of her tea. “We’ve got plenty o’ Michaels in the family, but no …”

“Mother, when he wants to share that, he will.”

“You know, don’t …”

“Fand’s Pearls, Mother.” Diana was determined to keep her mother off the subject of who exactly her wingman was.

“Accordin’ ta family lore, the pearls were a gift from Cuchulainn ta Fand when they were lovers. Supposedly, they were so beautiful, perfectly matched in size, color, and weight, that Manannan Mac Lir couldn’t bring himself ta destroy them when he took away Fand’s memory of her time with Cuchulainn.”

“There was a catch, wasn’t there?” Diana wrapped her fingers around the mug.

“MM… isn’t there always one with this kind o’ tale?” Collie couldn’t help but grin.

“Generally. So, what was it?”

“If someone was ta find them there are two possibilities.” Colleen drew in a long breath. “If the finder is an incarnation of the goddess, the pearls will awaken her memories. Whether ‘r not her power would be awakened in that new form, no one knows.”

“And the second?”

Collie looked out her kitchen window as the rain beat against it. “That anyone gifted with them should find something precious to them that was lost or they believe they lost.”

Diana murmured, “I’ll be making plans to leave in about two weeks.”

“Be careful, mavourneen. Some people go off lookin’ for treasures and lose the ones they have.”

Finally, the truth emerged. “I saw Stephen in the Dragon with his … ex wife, supposedly dead wife? I’m not sure how to put it.”

“Then just use ‘er name. I only know one Jewell that would be chattin’ up Stephen.”

“I don’t know what he wanted from her, but it upset her a great deal. I never got the chance to ask what. He stormed out, acting like a mad man. She went out after him and I left to mull things over.”

“Wait, wait,” Collie held up her hand, “let me make sure I’ve got this right. Jewell Ravenlock went after Stephen Kidd, yer husband, ‘n’ ya didn’t?”

“Yes, she went after him and …”

Collie waited for the other shoe to drop.

“I don’t think he’s my husband anymore.”

Both red brows shot up. “Do tell?”

“He said that he was in port a few weeks ago and ran into Aja. She told him he was still married.”

The fey tipped her head as she listened.

“He said he was surprised that I hadn’t given up on him.” Heartbeats passed. “Then I heard him muttering something like he would have.”

“I understand, now,” Collie’s voice was nearly a whisper. “What yer really sayin’ is that by talkin’ about him givin’ up meant he'd have given up on ya if ya were gone?”

“I think so.” Diana frowned.

“Self fulfillin’ prophecies are hell, Diana, don’t ferget that.” Collie sighed. “Stay in yer old room tonight. Then make yer plans startin’ tomorrow. There’s a cottage ya can stay in down near the meetin’ hall. You will have privacy plus access ta the work room Dennis built in there.” Collie finished off her tea then kissed her daughter’s cheek. “Hearts take time ta heal, Diana. Be patient wit’ yer own.”

“I don’t know if I can.” She smiled awkwardly.

“Are ya goin’ ta say yer goodbyes ta the man then?”

“I hope to, but we don’t always get what we want.” Diana stood, kissed her mother’s cheek and headed off to bed.
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Fragile Fury
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When she was heading down the stairs, Diana heard the sound of voices coming from the kitchen. Her mother’s was familiar, however, the second voice, speaking in Irish, was unknown to her. “Coffee?” was her murmured question to the women seated at the counter.

Colleen upnodded to the freshly brewed pot on the stove. “I don’t generally drink the stuff, especially with Darien … away.”

Diana took note of the hesitation in her mother’s voice and filed it away for future reference. She settled at the table after stirring two spoons of sugar into the dark roasted coffee. “So,” she looked across the table at the youngest woman in the room and asked, “how exactly do you fit into the family tree?”

The question was answer with a soft chuckle. “I am your sister’s daughter from what might be.” There were hints of red in her hair that weren’t as noticeable during her childhood. Eyes that had been predominantly green with a hint gold were now a rich golden color encircled by a ring of green.

“You must be one of the Rhi’s girls because if you were Nicole or Chelle’s the odds are you would have the ears.”

The younger woman eyed Diana and grinned widely. “I could be Abby or Madison’s daughter.” A heartbeat or two passed as she drank the tea in her mug. “I could also be Crissy’s.”

Colleen had an amused look on her face as she listened to the banter. She busied herself with rolling out dough for a pie she was planning to bake.

“The hair could make you Marissa’s, but the attitude would be Mara’s.” Diana moved one finger from the handle of her mug to point at her niece. “But,” she smiled like the cat that ate the canary, “I heard Mother call you Seamair just before I came in the door.” She wrapped both hands around her mug. “Only one person in the family was ever called Clover that I can remember.”

“I call myself Pearl,” she finally said. “Pearl Fand.”

Dee smiled wryly. “I called it right it in the first place. You’re one of Rhi’s girls.”

Pearl held up her index finger as if to punctuate her point. It was a habit she had developed after she had seen her mother and grandmother do it for years. “You weren’t sure which one at first.”

“True, but when you are dealing virtual duplicates, it could be either,” Diana countered as she took a healthy swallow of her coffee.

“Point taken. Keeping track of who is who is like playing a multi-dimensional game of chess standing on your head.” A ghost of a smile flickered on Pearl’s lips

“You play chess?” One of Dee’s brows lifted.

“Of course! I learned the basics when I was seven.” Pearl indulged in one of the jelly filled pastries.

Diana backtracked to the name, it had piqued her curiosity. “Why Fand? Why not Harker?”

“Why Arduinna?” Pearl answered the questions with a question.

“Touché.” Diana said as she was reminded of her own arrival into what had been. “As you probably already know, she’s the equivalent of Diana, goddess of the moon and hunt, from a different pantheon.” She smiled cryptically. “How’d you know about that?”

“ I was studying to be a historical librarian at one point.”

“And, now?”

“I’m not so sure anymore, but I like teaching especially very young children.”

Colleen interrupted. “The best teachers are generally those wit’ firsthand knowledge of their classroom material.”

“Or those born to the role,” Diana said as she stood to refill her coffee.

“Like yerself ‘n’ those flyin’ things?” Colleen looked over at Diana as she finished pressing the pie crust into the baking pan.

“Well, you always said it was in the genes, Mother,” Dee quipped.

“That, I did.” She nodded as she set the pan aside. “‘n’ if ya weren’t flyin’ like that cockpit jockey that was yer father then I think the odds ‘r good that ya would be sailin’ on water instead o’ the sky.”

Diana exchanged a teasing smile with her niece before responding to her mother. “Wouldn’t be your genes at work, then?”

The redhead’s expression became thoughtful. She was quiet for some time before speaking again. “I suppose so.”

“Don’t you get all moody and introspective on me, Colleen Fenner,” Diana complained.

Her lips pursed as she studied her daughter. “I was just thinkin’ about our chat last night.”

“Oh,” Diana murmured. “So, anyway, we’re going to start the hunt not far from Peel Castle.”

“Some people would start in Galway,” Collie said offhandedly as she rolled out the upper layer of pie crust.

Pearl looked between her grandmother and aunt. “Some people don’t know how deep Aoife MacMurrough’s bloodlines run either.”
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Fragile Fury
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2014 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To an outsider, the comment would have been a non sequitur, but to the three women it made perfect sense. Despite the known historical prejudices, the bloodlines of many an English monarch lead back to an Irish king and his daughter.

“Mamó left a few things for me before she married that knight of hers. I didn’t bring them with me from home, but … as I suspected, she gave the box to Maggie.” She took a small wooden box from the canvas bag that was on the floor beside her chair and set it on the table. The box had a carving of an owl and a bear on top of it. “I explained to her that whatever was in that box was important to the family and she had been entrusted with its safety.”

Diana included her head toward Colleen. “It’s no secret that Maggie is that one’s bosom buddy. So, it’s not surprising that Kirin would have entrusted something of value, be it sentimental or otherwise to Maggie and, by extension, you.”

“Well, what’s the box? Has Maggie seen it?” Collie finally put the pie in the oven.

“Yes, Maggie has seen it.” Pearl smiled thoughtfully. “There’s a map and a few other things. Maggie did ask that that box and all be returned once you’re through with it. Based on what we could decipher in this,” she moved a small journal from the box to the table, “there are some pieces that might be unsalvageable.” She carefully set out some wood cuts and metal figures in the shape of seahorses and dolphins. “It’s a puzzle of some kind.”

Colleen leaned over Diana’s shoulder and her brows furrowed. “I’ve seen that somewhere before. I can’t remember where.”

Diana slid the pieces around to form different patterns. “Reminds me of those shape puzzles we had when we were kids.”

Colleen opened the journal and turned pages. Her ears wiggled as she had one of those Eureka moments. “Not just a puzzle, girls.” Collie laid the book flat so Pearl and Diana could see. “They make a key of some kind, but Seamair would stand a better chance of fingerin’ the whys and wherefores.”

Pearl began to read, it was not just Irish she was reading, but several languages mixed. “Gran?” She swallowed audibly. “Those nightmares you were having not so long ago, are you still having them?”

“Only one still remains, my girl. Why?”

Diana was intrigued by how the conversation had turned. She could tell by Pearl’s expression that she’d hit paydirt and she couldn’t wait to learn how.

“Which one?” She continued to read as she questioned her grandmother.

“The one where a child calls in the night, saying he, possibly she, wants to be. I assume it means the child wishes to live.”

“These markings …”

Diana interrupted Pearl. “Those are old sea markers from maps. Like,” she held one hand with the palm turned upward, “someone marking a trail to be followed, but the language doesn’t match the code.”

“That, Aunt Dee, is because, unlike me, you never learned the ancient forms of Greek.” She allowed herself a moment to feel smug before moving onward.

“Wait a minute," Diana interjected, "Kirin didn’t know it either.” She looked to Colleen. “Did she?”

The answer began with a nod. “At some point, her memories of what had been must have been recovered.” She gazed upon her granddaughter. “I have a feelin’ I know where yer headed with this. Go on.”

“This isn’t just about Fand or a treasure she left behind.” She ran her finger under words as she translated, “The chest contains the … tangible memories of a father, who grieves the loss of his first daughter. She was named Margaríti̱s for she, like her namesake that grows guarded within the oyster’s shell, is a treasure of the sea.”

Collie swallowed hard. “I want ta read that before it goes anywhere else.”

Without a word, Pearl slid the journal to her grandmother. Diana was handed the map.

“I have a lot to think about, but not much time. I’ll be leaving the night before the Beltane ball.” Diana rose from the table and went out to walk in her mother’s garden.
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2014 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pearl and Colleen spent time deciphering more of the journal as Diana walked and had time to think. That night, she penned a letter.

Dear Stephen,

If you are reading this, I have already started my journey. I am heading off in search of a family legend. You are probably familiar with the Irish sea goddess, Fand. I have learned that something of hers was left behind and I’m going to find it.

I thought of saying my farewells in person, but Beltane celebrations should not be tainted by negative feelings. They should remain the celebration of joy and life that they were meant to be.

I need you to know that I love you and wish things had not taken this strange turn. It isn’t that I wish ill on Jewell, that’s not my way and it never has been. Somewhere along the line, you got it into your head that you had to make a choice between us as to who would remain in your life and who would not. To ask you to do that would be a crime against your nature.

There are rumors that you are mounting an expedition into Faerie. I won’t say that I approve of it, but I do understand. The only reason, that I can think of, for you to undertake such a journey is a rescue mission. To ask you to forget Jewell’s children that were yours by heart, if not by blood, would also be a heinous and hateful act. If you recall, I offered to help her recover them when I first met her. My own mother would have mounted an army, moved mountains, crossed oceans, and more to have her children returned. To not jump on such an offer tells me that there’s plenty she isn’t saying about those kids. No child should be held as a hostage or be used as bait to trap someone.

There’s more than one way to enter the realms of the faire folk. Fand’s treasure might lead to one of them. Whatever you have chosen to do, you have my blessings, and wishes for a safe journey.

Diana
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PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pearl and her grandmother spent several days translating, reading, and deciphering the journal. Colleen learned much about the person she had been in another lifetime. She made some copies of it for safekeeping.

On Friday, Colleen opted to see Maggie and Eregor in “Wicked” as opposed to going to the Beltane bonfire and crowning. Early Saturday morning, she found two letters from Diana and the original journal on her desk. One letter was addressed to her and the second to Stephen Kidd. Laying aside the one for Stephen, Collie settled heavily on her chair to read the words of her most rebellious child.

Mother,

You might think me foolish or a coward for not saying my farewells in person. However, it is fear of not being able to leave that I refuse allow to hold me prisoner. I need to do this for me.

I’ve spent years building up the squadron and rarely taking time off. I’ve become a workaholic that’s forgotten that there is more to life than working. There are many things I have denied myself because I wanted to be better at things than he was. One day, I realized that just by being me, I was.

There’s only been one challenge that I’ve ever been afraid of. Just never thought I was suited to being anyone’s mother. Then I look at Rhiannon with her brood and Nicole, who has none. Always thought it would be Nicole with the family. She was always the one doing the cooking, baking, cleaning, and so on. Instead, it’s Rhi with not just her own kids, but her students in her care. And it seems that now that I’m ready to meet that challenge, the opportunity has slipped away. I tell myself that it’s a sign and just wasn’t meant to be, but you and I both know we tell ourselves lots of lies.

I know I’m headed into dangerous territory, but I also know it’s near homeground for the family. Maybe, just maybe, that will make a difference. I have a lot to think about while I’m on this voyage. If I don’t get back, Rachael has charge of my will and other legal business. Charge of the squadron, of course, will go to Hawk. Some of the proceeds will got to my nieces and nephews since I have no children to inherit. Stephen doesn’t need that money. I have something else in mind for him, but that will only be revealed in case of my death or declaration there of.

I love you all,

Dee


Colleen shook her head. Her own life was coming apart at the seams, but why was it so much easier to cope with her own problems than to bear witness to the sorrows of her children?

She was charged with delivering that letter to Stephen Kidd. There was one place she knew he’d be. Despite having planned to avoid the festivities, Collie gathered her courage, put on a new dress, and headed for the observatory with Maggie. It was going to be an interesting night.
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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stephen as visibly upset as he read Diana's letter. How had he let this all come to this? Maybe it was for the better that these letters would serve as goodbyes for now, rather than dragging them out face to face where they would only muddy the waters more.

Diana,

I am not one for flowery speech so let me be plain. I love you still, but as for now I am unfit to be "with" anyone, even myself I sometimes think. This expedition to Fairie yes some of the cause is due to Jewell, but she is not why I am doing this. I need to do this to redeem myself for my failures. I need to ...

I won't bother to tell you to return home, even though that is what I think you should do. I am sure you have your own reasons for your journey as I do mine. Be safe and know you carry the love of your family with you.

Stephen
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