The Crossroads of the Aether
Julien has come back to me! I'm so excited I've had to start this page over because I spilled my ink well on the previous page. It happened yesterday while I was sweeping the floor in the pub. I was sweeping by the Utility Closet wondering how I was going to find Julien as I had made up my mind to let him go to be with the Ducesa. I've developed the habit of talking to myself when I'm alone in the pub and was doing so then when the door to the closet popped open and gave me a start. I went to close it thinking I would see some thing had fallen open and knocked the latch loose, instead I came face to face with what I thought was a gold statue of a woman. I thought at first it had been left by one of the patrons for safe keeping and had the irritated thought that I wished people would tell me if they were leaving things here. I mean really, what if the wrong person had come to claim it? It occurred to me that the statue must have weighed quite a bit if it were solid. My curiosity got the better of me and I reached out to tap the surface to see if it were hollow or not.
I got such a fright when it opened its eyes. All these starts cannot be good for the baby, I know they aren't doing me any favors. Then it surprised me further by speaking. She called herself the Gold Wife and said that she needed to connect with the land. My first thought was to take her out into the lane but when we got outside she said that she still couldn't feel the land. I remembered then some small snippit of lore Julien told me about how Worlds End and the Island it sits on is between time, it technically isn't connected to any time or place. I decided then to take her to my home in Tahoe. It was just rounding into spring there and I knew she'd be able to feel the earth under her there so I opened my Portal and took her through. In retrospect I should have probably gone back in the pub to retrieve my satchel at least but I didn't think I'd need it. After all we were just going to my home. Once we were in the back garden she immediately made her way to a flower bed and I could almost feel the connection.
When she spoke again I was surprised at the change in her. She sounded more alive and I must admit her voice was lovely, like a choir of bells. She said that for my help she owed me a favor and asked what I wanted. I didn't think I'd done anything deserving of a favor but I've also learned not to argue over much with beings of power unless I've a way to make my point stick. This also presented me with an ideal opportunity to find either my husband or the Ducesa and I took a minute to decide which I'd rather see. Of course there was the possibility they'd be together which would be so much the better since I would eventually need to speak with them both. I chose the Ducesa and asked the Gold Wife to take me to her. As soon as the words left my mouth I was blasted with a wall of frigid air and standing in a few feet of snow. Thank goodness I was wearing my boots and not the slippers I usually wear in the pub but I was reminded quite brutally that I should have put my coat on before leaving the pub. It was freezing.
The Gold Wife lead me to a tower in the distance and by the time we got there I had lost feeling in my hands. Thank goodness the Gold Wife had gone ahead for she broke a path through the snow making it easier for me to keep up. When we got into the tower I was flabbergasted by the sights I was beholding. Everything was carved of solid ice. Including the suits of armor guarding the doors yet those moved as easily as if they had been flesh and bone. I was shown into the Ducesa's room and just as I had braced myself to be no more than civil I noticed that her leg was bandaged and all the righteous anger I'd been building up to left me in a rush. I don't like seeing anyone hurt even someone I'm angry with. I asked if she was alright and she explained that she'd been injured by people who wished to see her dead. Then she did something peculiar which I didn't like. She looked at me and it was as if she were looking through me but not. She was Seeing all of me, every part of me, my life, my experiences. Everything that makes me who I am in an instant. It reminded me of when Draven taps into my mind to find out what I'm not saying. I asked her why she was doing it and though she didn't answer the question I knew in my heart what she'd done and why. She asked me why I had come since it was not will ill will or the Gold Wife would never have brought me to her.
I had come to ask her if she loved Julien and she said that she did, then I asked her if she though he loved her back. She said he said he did. My final question was the hardest I'd ever had to ask. Did she want him to herself? She told me it didn't matter since Julien wanted to return to me. I explained to her that I didn't want him to come back knowing that he'd been unfaithful to me. I can't even to begin to explain my shock when she told me he hadn't been. Julien might keep secrets but he's never outright lied to me and I told her so. Suddenly she was right before me her hand on my forehead and images danced before my eyes of her and Juliens first meeting. A ritual of Pledging Service that Juliens mind equated to lovemaking because he had no other criteria to compare it to. He truely believed he had been unfaithful even though he hadn't. Then I was standing alone again, the Ducesa resting herself back against the pillows on the bed. My hands were clenched so tightly together the tips of my fingers were white and I felt as if my heart would burst.
She then told me that she did not want Julien for herself, that indeed she planned on releasing him from her service when he returned from wherever it was he'd got to. She was releasing him to return to our child and I. I felt a great swell of gratitude and a smaller one of sorrow for her since it was obvious that she did love him. I thanked her with all the gratitude I was feeling then and she in turn thanked me for bringing back the Gold Wife, a servant missing for centuries and apparently secreted away in the pub by her enemies. When the silence started to become awkward I asked how I might get home and she told me to wait until Julien returned and we might leave together. We sat together for a while speaking idly until the door burst open and a handsome man splattered in blood rushed in announcing that the Stepan was down. I had no idea who the Stepan was but I felt a surge of fear crush the breath from me and I hurried out with the Ducesa and the newcomer.
Julien was the Stepan and my poor husband was grievously wounded. Somehow the tattoo that protected him from injury was gone and he'd been shot several times. I rushed to him wishing again that I had brought my satchel for in it was my medical kit. A stunning woman the Ducesa called Gloriana was healing what wounds she could with her magic but one wound was beyond her ability. A great wound in his chest. It looked as if a bullet had gone in through his back tearing through his lung collapsing it and exited out the fron of his chest leaving a great gaping wound. Wounds like that are one of the biggest reasons I refuse to use a gun. The damage they leave behind on a surviving victim is terrible. I'll never know why my Uncle Anthony, the doctor in the family, chose to teach his youngest niece the ways of surgery but I am grateful none the less. He had once taught me how to re-inflate a collapsed lung and I hastened to gather from Gloriana and the Ducesa the items I would need and set to work hoping against all odds that my skills would save Juliens life.
They did indeed save his life and once it was apparent he wasn't going to die of his wounds the Ducesa released him from her service but only after Julien convinced her to be Godmother to our child. He asked me if I was alright with it and I acquiesced after being sure that he understood that Draven is to be the Godfather. The irony is they are both wanted by the Church. I think its appropriate. At the moment we are still in Gloriana's realm. It turns out she is the Winter Queen of the fae lands and has been kind enough to allow us to stay until Julien's wound stops bleeding. I don't feel comfortable crossing dimensions with him still bleeding. In a few hours I'll summon Kismet and have her take us home.