June 26, 1997
We landed with a bump on turf. I was getting really sick of that. I sat up and looked around. If I was standing, I might have tried jumping for joy. To a human, this would have appeared to be an ordinary stretch of woods. Trees as far as the eye could see. But to gargoyles, winding through the trees yet somehow appearing to be a straight path was a line of blue light, illuminating the ground. Think of the yellow brick road, except it’s blue and made of swamp gas-like ‘material’. I recognized it and the woods area. It’s part of the Clan’s land, but not really a part many often go to.
A strangled cry reminded me I wasn’t alone. I turned to find Goldie (I still didn’t know his name!) cradling Stella in his arms. He was crying softly and rocking back and forth.
“Is she... ?” I knew the answer, but still...
Goldie finally registered my presence and looked up. “If I ever find Servarius, I swear I’ll kill him,” he whispered.
Damn. That meant yes. I sighed and raked a hand through my hair. I wanted to help, but I didn’t know if Goldie was the macho type that’d sooner get their arm ripped off then ask for sympathy. I settled for the compromise of sitting next to him and settling a comforting hand on his shoulder. I hoped the sign would work it’s magic.
“She was the only one in the clan left alive,” he eventually said. “We – Servarius took us, used us in his experiments.... He’s a madman.”
“Yeah. Last I knew he was just happy turning humans into gargoyles. He got his hands on a friend of ours, and she ended up as more a part of the clan that she thought. Sadie – ” Her death hit me a bit harder than I thought it would, leaving me to swallow the lump in my throat. “She just laughed herself sick when she found out, rambling on about the irony and how the karma finally caught up with him.”
“I doubt she could find anything humorous in this.”
We sat there, in the woods, just talking for awhile, swapping stories about family. His loss reminded me of Sadie’s recent death. It’s funny, but... I had trouble believing that it had happened just a few days ago. Somehow, I ended up babbling on about my entire time travel journey. He listened more then talked near the end. He was particularly interested in my trip to the future, the one with the clan at home, I mean. But if I was him, I would be too.
“So this is fated,” he stated softly at the end.
I made a face. “I don’t like that word. It implies there’s no choice about anything we do. ‘Sides, you – or your future self – said the future wasn’t and or isn’t fixed.”
He managed a tiny grin. “Don’t you mean will say?”
“Stop playing with what little there is of my mind. It’s not nice.”
The grin widened. Then Goldie sighed and looked down at the body in his arms. “Then we have a purpose to fulfill. I don’t mind helping you, but first... I don’t know what your clan’s funeral customs are, but I will bury my sister.”
I took a look at the blue path and nibbled on my lip. “I think that is our purpose.”
“See the glowing blue thing we’re on?” He nodded. “It leads to the cemetery of my clan.”
He gave me a dubious look and raised an eyeridge. “Your clan has a cemetery?”
I shrugged. “Gargoyles have been living here since before the white man came.”
He was still giving me a funny look. He obviously thought I was kidding him, but why should I?
At last Goldie figured he’d go along with whatever I was doing. He gently hefted the body and stood, then followed me down the path.
After several minutes, the blue glow deepened to purple, then near black.
“What’s happening?” he asked in a hushed voice. The sight is one of those mystical events/places that makes you want to whisper.
“I’m not sure of the exact meaning other then yes, we are supposed to bury her. This only happens when we come...”
“Bearing a body.”
We walked on in silence for awhile longer. Finally, we came to the cemetery itself.
The glow faded to two bright lines outlining the very edges of the path, then suddenly split off to what I knew was a very large circle. We entered into the clearing, the trees that were the perimeter eerily outlined in foxfire. I have never seen any two of those trees be the same, and all were spaced with uncanny regularity. Knowing that magic is real, I think the entire place is made of the stuff.
Inside the grove were rows upon rows of stone pillars, at least three feet in height, but never more then five. These were the grave markers.
And standing at the end of the last row was Sadie.
I kind of lost it then. “Sadie!” I yelped, running and hugging her. I couldn’t believe it. It was like I never left.
For an all too short time, the outside world was forgotten. All I knew was that she was alive. I finally realized that I was babbling, forced myself to stop, and took a step back. “I’m... sorry, I just – ”
“Thought I was dead?”
“Uh....” She’s always had a way of cutting straight to the heart of the matter. “Yeah, but how...?”
She grinned faintly and tapped the big book o’magic. “It’s our curse – and blessing – to know when we are to die. Besides, I wouldn’t send you out on that little sojourn if I was still alive. But you’re two nights early. I believe it has something to do without your friend?”
Goldie stepped forward, having kept a respectful distance. “My sister,” he explained, voice cracking with emotion, “Stella. She... didn’t survive an encounter with Servarius.”
“She died free,” he whispered, looking down at the body in his arms. “All I ask is that she have burial rites. I can’t take her to my clan’s crypt, but so long as it is a ceremony fitting a gargoyle....”
Sadie bowed her head, then moved to the last marker. “Here,” she said, gesturing to the empty spot next to it. After Goldie reverently placed Stella’s body on the ground, Sadie dropped a piece of stone skin next to her, about the same distance away as she was from the marker. It only took me a second to realize it was her skin.
She was planning on making her tombstone.
“Meg, come here. I want you to pay special attention to this.”
“Oh, this is another of the fun fun bonuses of being Recorder, right?” I drawled, sarcasm my last defense against the emotions raging to get out.
I got whacked with a tail for my joke, but she seemed to know why I was being a smart-ass. “Yes.” Sadie held her hands out over the body and stone shard, tilted her head back, and began to chant.
“As earth changes to flesh, and stone becomes bone, so must flesh give way to earth and bone retreat into stone. Kin and clan have taken their wisdom and strength from our lives, but let their memories protect our ways as they protected our nights and days.”
Light, a swirl of brown, green, and the shades of blue that made up the path, flowed from Sadie’s hands around Stella’s body and the stone shard she placed next to it, until they were totally obscured. The cloud of light flashed once, then dissipated. Now there were two new monuments.
“Soror,” Goldie whispered brokenly. “Please, can... can I have a few minutes alone?”
Sadie nodded and pulled me to the edge of the entrance, which still glowed the solemn near-black. She sighed and shot a worried look back at Goldie, who was now on his knees next to the marker. “That is the part of all this that I hate.”
“Tell me about it.... How do you do it?” She tilted her head to the side, not understanding. “How do you just go on like this? You’re going to die in a few nights, and you’re acting like it’s nothing!” I was nearly shouting, I was so upset.
Sadie sighed and considered the ground for a moment. “I’m sorry, Megan, I didn’t realize.... Try to understand. I’ve known my fate for over a hundred and a half years. That’s a long time to get used to the idea that my time is coming. And after all this time... I’m ready.” She gestured towards the tombstones. “I’ve buried more friends and family than I’d like to count. Every night I see the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of my rookery kin. There comes a point Meg, when it’s time to let go. And I’m tired. I’d like a chance to rest.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat. “I don’t like it.”
“None of us do, at first. But eventually, we all come to grips with it. You will to, in time.”
“I dunno about that. I just – I’m gonna miss you.”
Sadie leaned over and pulled me into a hug. “I’ll miss you as well. But remember. We’re only here for a limited time, Meg. Carpe noctum. Remember that.”
“I will,” I managed, fighting back tears.
When she let go, she turned to Goldie. “Will you keep an eye on Megan for me? I’m afraid she often bites off more then she can chew and there is a limit on what I can do.”
He stood and nodded. “On one condition. If you promise to watch out for Stella.”
Sadie smiled bleakly. “Very well. Barter met, bargain sealed.”
We watched Sadie calmly walk off, back to the clan, and I sat down. I had thought that earlier (had it only been a few nights? A bit over a week?) I’d gotten to at least accept her death, by writing and a bit of crying. But to see her again, alive, only to have her leave to die again...
The flood gates opened, and I started to cry.
I tried to tune out the world, and even managed to until I finally ran dry. Reality slowly began to reassert itself. I was curled up into a small ball and Goldie was holding me gently, his wings wrapped around us. He noticed I was finally back and gave me a small, sad smile. “Feeling better?”
I sniffled and wiped my face. “I – I’m sorry, I just – ”
He shook his head and held up a hand. “It’s all right. You needed to get it out of your system.”
I nodded and swiped at my eyes. “It’s just that I thought I had. Ah, hell, the lack of sleep is getting to me.”
Goldie sighed and looked off into the distance. “It seems like we both have much to grieve for.” After a bit, he looked at me with an odd look in his eyes. “Perhaps... we could mourn together?”
I blinked. By then even he had been up past the normal time, and I had left exhaustion for cruise control, but I couldn’t tell if I was reading the signs right. “Are you suggesting what I think you are?”
Turns out he was.
Quite awhile later, we were snuggling under one of the trees and I suddenly had a giggle attack. By then I’d entered punchy.
“What?” Goldie asked, looking down at me. I grinned back up.
“After all that, ya know what?”
“What?” he repeated.
“I have no idea what your name is.”
He froze, then threw back his head and roared with laughter. “Are you serious?” he asked when he finally calmed down. When I nodded, he snickered and shook his head. “Oh dear. That has got to be the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Stick around and it won’t be.”
Goldie abruptly sobered. “Is that an invitation?”
I only hesitated for a moment. “Yes. On the condition you tell me what’s you name!”
He chuckled a bit more, then held out his hand. “Milady, I am the warrior Troy.” He glared at me. “Please, no jokes. It – it was Stella’s idea.”
I nodded and we shook hands. “Don’t worry, I’ve heard worse.”
“Mmm.” He nodded towards the east. “Is that sunrise?”
I shrugged and bit back a yawn. “Hope so. But does it really matter?”
June 27, 1997
What, you think I’m the type of girl to kiss and tell? Guess again.
June 28, 1997
After sunset, I leaned up against one of the tombstones and stared upwards. The stars were so bright here.
“Brainstorm or just a light drizzle?” Troy asked.
“I could have done something. I could have gone back to the house, to warn myself – ”
He gently took me by the shoulders and turned me to face him. “No. You couldn’t have done anything, because you didn’t. You said the past is set. Well, this is your past. I might as well wish to go back and try to save Stella.” He reached up and gently traced his knuckles down my cheek. “And it is too late now. Let the past stay that way. You – we have a future. Let us pay attention to it.”
He saw me hesitate, reaching for the spell.
And I saw in his eyes an acceptance for my decision. Whatever I did, he would come with me. It was like the ground dropped out from under me. Was this the way Tate and Jay felt, the reason they were always together? It’s... unnerving to realize that you have that effect, that power over someone – and they have it over you.
My power trip only lasted a few seconds. Then I put the book away. “All right. Let’s go home.”
Meg looked up from one of Sadie’s innumerable journals to find Kyla in the Library’s doorway. “Hey,” she called back. “What’s up?” She yawned in spite of herself.
“Well, let’s see.” The violet gargoyle strolled in and settled herself comfortably on one of the chairs facing Megan. “You come home when none of us had a clue you ever left, start spouting this crazy time travel story, and then you get backed up by a hunk that none of us have ever laid eyes on before. Stop me when this starts sounding bizarre, even for us.”
Meg sighed. “Look, you don’t have to believe me – ”
“Hey, did I say I didn’t believe you?”
“Yes. Anyway, if I didn’t got through time, then something happened. How the hell else could Troy be here?”
“Mmm. That’s another thing. Just what is going on between you two? You practically have the same dopey look Jay and – no. Oh no. Please tell me you didn’t get swept off your feet by some foreign guy.”
“What’s wrong with foreigners?”
Kyla's jaw dropped. “You mean you two actually....”
Meg just grinned and studied the ceiling.
“And you knew him how long?”
“Long enough. You’re going to catch flies pretty soon.”
She managed to snap her mouth closed, but continued to stare. “You knew him for – what, a few days? – and you already slept with him? How?”
The fuchsia gargoyle shrugged. “Hormones. Sleep deprivation. Stress. Mental trauma. The fact that he’s hot stuff of the first class....”
Kyla blinked. “Well, yeah, but.... Don’t you want a little time?”
“For what? I mean, come on, the entire clan is silly about the entire thing. Has Silicon even admitted to looking you over once? Or have you told him – ”
She couldn’t hide her blush. “Could you please leave our personal lives out of this? We... just have our own way of doing things.”
The violet gargoyle sighed in exasperation. “I don’t know why I bother,” she muttered, standing and stalking off to most likely pound some piece of metal to death.
“Because you want gossip,” Meg muttered back, curling up her legs and reopening the journal. “I swear, everyone in this clan takes a month to get around to what can be done it a second.”
A gentle hand brushed up her sensitive wing vanes, making her gasp and turn in surprise. “And what about us?” Troy asked in an amused voice with a gentle smile.
She squirmed over to give him some room to sit down. “Guess we’re just the exception that proves the rule.”
Hidden around the corner from the sights if not sounds of the frantic activities that followed, in a nook of several bookcases and a window, the statue of the Elder and Recorder stood at rest. For an instant, green and brown light flickered to life around the stone, then disappeared, leaving only the fleeting image of a contented, albeit somewhat rueful, smile.
Once again, many many thanks to my beta readers (ooo, I got plural? ;), Datafage and Tyr for their help. Hope you know how much good you guys are doing, 'cause I can't begin to say so.
And of course, a big thank you for anyone brave enough to make it this far. I started writing this monster of a miniseries as a personl challenge, but it sorta took over from there. And I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Hope you had fun reading it, 'cause I sure did writing it!
Okay, I'm done ranting now.
The first entry Part 1
The previous entry Part 6
Let me out of here!!!! A.K.A. Home
I want to read more! To get back to the fic archive
Any questions? Complaints? Screams of outrage that I actually consider myself a writer and/or dared to show this in public? Tell me! Send it all to Norcumi@backtick.net! I love mail!!!!
Except for a bit of lore, Servarius, and the gargoyle race in general (which are respectfully used from the Great Mouse/Buena Vista without permission), everything in here belongs to me. That means you can't use it without asking me first.