Field Trip Pt 1

From the Story Arc: Hope is the Thing With Feathers

Previous Story in the Arc: A Union of Earth and Fire Pt 2 by Victoria Victrix (Saturday, January 10, 2009)

Next Story in the Arc: Field Trip Pt 2 by Victoria Victrix (Saturday, January 10, 2009)

(posted Saturday, January 10, 2009)

Vickie was used to letting her subconscious work on a problem while she tended to whatever else needed to be done. She did that all the time for books; if there was a gaping hole, she would leave it alone and go on, and eventually something would emerge out of her subconscious that exactly fit the shape of that plot-hole and she would go back and fill it in.

I feel like I've failed you.

You couldn't tell someone they hadn't failed you. You had to show him. And you could tell someone that they didn't need forgiveness until you went hoarse, but until he saw from what you did that you actually felt that way, he would never really believe it.

Show, don't tell. The cardinal rule of writing.

Her subconscious worked on it. And finally, she thought she had an answer.

When he came in looking haggard and grim after a mission against a particular target he'd wanted to take down for a long time, she had the feeling she'd better try that answer He'd been up against Carnies a lot lately. He'd said more than once he was susceptible to mental attacks.

This perception of failure--it was a hole in the foundation of his spirit. A weak point any enemy could use against him.

But they were a team now. And small and weak as she was...she did have this. She knew the mind. Maybe she could fix this.

She shut down the computer in mid-sentence, and intercepted him at the door before he could get further into the room. "Red, babe, I know you're tired, but there's something I really need your help with---"

He looked at her bleakly. Whatever had happened to him on that mish had delivered one hell of a beating to his soul. "Vickie---can't it wait---"

She shook her head. "It's---urgent. Please. I can't get anyone else---"

He sighed and wrapped the scarf around his face again. "All right, darlin'. I---"

"Just wait. I know you're tired, let me 'port you." And before he could reply, she was out of the door behind him, running, making a "superman" takeoff from the sidewalk, flying as fast as she could to get to the spot in AP where the Gate to Underhill was. She had already made her arrangements. At a wave of her hand, the Gate shimmered open; she grabbed him, throw-'ported him through it, and dove in after him.

The Gate shut behind her a nanosecond later.

This Gate let out at a Seleighe transfer point; a place where there was a multi-destination Gate set up and no much else. He was starting at it dazedly. "This isn't---"

"Paragon, no."

He was still staring at the Gate. Well, he was used to Portals with their rumbling machinery that shook the very earth. This was---just an archway with eight different gemstones set into it, four on either side. Granted, the archway was a solid piece of mirror-polished rainbow moonstoon, and the gemstones were each the size of her hand but---

She seized his hand and tugged at it. "Come on. We're expected. It doesn't do to be late to these things."

"Late---"

But he didn't resist, and she passed her hand over the sapphire and murmured the spell to activate the Gate to send them to Silverthorn. It shimmered to life, like a curtain of silver threads, and she pulled him through.

And there they were. Her old troupe, that had served her again in New York as her bodyguards. Anathea Eloraniel. The reception committee looked like the models for Peter Jackson's movie. Only rather better, since these folk didn't need platform shoes to be seven feet tall. Her troupe was in the best dress-armor and all their auras up. If Anathea had walked onto the set, they'd have fired their original Galadriel.

And him. In his full rig as Prince and Champion, chainmail as fine as silk knit, silk-velvet tabbard over it, circlet and tourque, hands resting on the pommel of an unsheathed sword resting point-down before him, and an aura that outshone all the rest.

She bowed. Red finally got the presence of mind to do the same. "My liege," she said. "I bring you, as requested, Red Djinni."

"So I see." When Robin Goodfellow played the Prince, there was not even a shadow of the Trickster about him. "I realize that one does not bend the knee in your world, Red Djinni, but of your courtesy, would you kneel."

Red blinked a moment or two, looked as if he was going to ask "why," thought better of it, and did as he had been asked.

Robin regarded him from grave eyes for a long and silent moment, then smiled slightly, and lifted his sword.

Tap of the tip on the right shoulder. "For long and selfless service to the people of the World Above" Tap on the left. "For the display of conduct and honor becoming a wearer of the spurs." Tap on the right again. "For faithful service to my sworn warrior, I hereby dub thee, Red Djinni, Knight-Guardian of the Realm of Elfhame Silverthorn. Rise, Sieur Djinn, and accept your belt and spurs from the hands of your liege, Anathea Eloriniel."

The glazed look in his eyes said it all. "But---"

"I am your liege, and not the Prince, because I am the leader of the Knight-Guardians, the Knights of Peace," Anathea said, putting the white belt and spurs into his shaking hands. "Our sister Amber-star has told us your creed in the Alliance of Champions; it is virtually the same as ours."

"But---I haven't---"

The prince interrupted him. "Sieur Djinn; these many years ago this troupe and I redeemed our warrior-sister's body from the hands of the Unseleighe. But we could not mend her heart nor reclaim her spirit. You have done that; done what we could not. And for that, we honor you."

And as Red stood there, clutching his spurs and white belt, first Robin Goodfellow, then Anathea, then the entire troupe of Knight-Mages, went to one knee, bowing before him.

Including Vickie, who looked up at him with proud and shining eyes, and a heart so full of happiness it felt as if she was flying rather than kneeling.

As one they rose. And before he could say anything, they turned and with the Prince leading, walked off in procession into the mists that surrounded the Gate.

He looked at the rowel-less spurs and long white belt in his hands. Looked at her. Looked into the mists, Looked at the burden in his hands again. "I---"

"Deserve it. Now come on, my beloved Sieur Djinn." She tugged at his arm again. "There's just enough time for you to see 'Fangorn Forest' before we need to leave."