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Teach an Chroí an Mhic

Early the next morning, there was a knock at their door. Eitilt sat up, got out of bed and dressing went to answer it.

“Sara,” he smiled.

“No,” she wept, “traitor,” she was shaking in sorrow. “From my house comes the traitor.”

“No,” he took her by the shoulders. “You, never. Come in and sit down and tell me what has happened.

Cecil,” he directed his voice beyond the open door.

“Yes my King,” he stepped in.

“We need tea and perhaps the brandy bottle. My Mrs. is stirring, I think some toast with jelly,” he began.

“Yes,” Cecil bowed his head, “she likes it with a scraping of butter and blackberry jam.”

“He probably knows her better than I do,” he thought to himself as he approached the bed and saw his Mrs. stirring. Handing her a robe, she slipped it on over her shoulders and said, “Good morning Sara.”

“No,” her tears fell, “not after I tell you.”

A tea-tray appeared at their door post-haste, Cecil supervising where chairs went and how the table was to be placed. Eitilt could only watch him in wonder. He had been devoted to his queen. He was now pouring this devotion out onto Bee Bee.

Tea was fixed, Bee Bee had her toast, took her pill, and then settled in.

When Sara finished her cup, Eitilt fixed her another cup of tea adding a bigger splash of brandy. “Thank you,” she sighed and was ready to begin.   “The Soul Washers, we keep records, also. For every soul we wash, we record the name.”

She started sniffling, again, dabbing at her eyes. “Which started me thinking that I should be able to check and see who was present for King Keevan. During battles, you see, one would always expect to see the Soul Washer. She would have been made welcome, all-knowing that she was there for those that died, that she was preparing their spirits to return to the bosom of home.”

“Oh shit,” Bee Bee thought and then said it out loud.

“Yes,” Sara nodded. “It is as you think. In our long history, there is one of us that…that…we all thought she returned home. Her time of leaving is not noted, only that there was no longer a record of souls that she washed.   Her name was Devan. Is, perhaps, Devan still.

I went looking. I know she was present at the battle of King Keevan and his Queen Dechtire, there are records of those souls she cleansed. But there is no record of the king’s and queen’s being washed,” her tears started, again.

“So what happens,” Eitilt asked, “when they are not?’

“They return here,” Sara sobbed, “to live out their days in countless life times until their souls are washed. They are never allowed to find the joy of home.”

Looking at Eitilt, Bee Bee felt the present slip away and an echo of times past washed before her eyes. Of love, happiness, then despair. The words of the poems took her, the grief consumed her. The tears were never going to stop.  “I knew it. I knew I wrote those poems. I knew I had sat on the back of a dragon and looked at a pod of whales dancing in the moonlight.” Eitilt turned to face her. “I died of a broken heart each time you left me,” she wailed. “That all encompassing grief! Half of me was missing when you left! Half my soul ripped from me!” she sobbed in anguish. “Have you any idea what that feels like? To find the biggest part of yourself missing! Just a gaping hole staring back at you where before that had been love and life.”

He held her while she cried. He could feel what his death had cost her. How she went from a full everything to an empty nothingness. Wiping her eyes, she ran her hands down his face.

“This shit stops now. I might have been an uninformed whatever century female who loved you with all that she was. But this is the 21st century and Devan can kiss my All-American Irish Ass. I am calling Granny and telling her to send my shotgun! You are not dying. Now,” she turned to Sara, wiping at her eyes. “Where is this bitch? I am going to blow her fucking head off!” Righting herself, she felt better as she held onto Eitilt. She thought about that for a moment. “Sara, can I kill her by blowing her head off?”

Sara looked even sadder. “No my Queen,” she sobbed, “I am so sorry, but not with a mortal weapon can she be consumed. As to where she is…I don’t know,” she said with a sob, wringing her hands. “But this much I do. She must clean. If not souls, then something no matter if she washes the floors of the fae library or the streets of Dublin.”

“That fucking library,” Bee Bee hissed. “The perfect place to hide, or hell, perhaps even rule…certainly the perfect place to make deals. This was on going back in Cecil’s time,” she shook her head, her eyes flashing.

“Dublin…” she patted Sara on the hand more in control. “Really? She would clean in this realm, as well?”

“If she had none other,” Sara replied with a sigh.

“Your cleaning service, Eitilt,” Bee Bee was thoughtful. “Who do you use?”

“Well, no one since the fae moved in. I had Jorja get rid…” his voice trailed off. “Fuck,” he spit. “Rowan, Father, Jorja…and just perhaps a washer of souls and a couple of old ones… Laguz with Berkano in attendance.”

“So she has been in the building,” Bee Bee was shaking her head. “And if she worked for a cleaning service, I dare say she has cleaned in all the businesses that you use to supply you. She has seen and touched everything that has come into this building. It would do no good to track her through the business she worked for.  I would think that with the influx of fae she would fear being recognized and fade away.”

“But the cleaning company would have a photo I.D. of her on file,” Eitilt was thoughtful.

“Place to start. We could show it to Cecil and see if anything pops for him.”

Cecil was embarrassed. “My Queen,” he was shaking his head. “I was not allowed to retain my human form so I do not see with human eyes. I…I am sorry. I can see,” he shrugged, “mass when I pull all my vapor to hold a shape. I can see your body, but not fine detail like you hair or eye color or skin tones…or…” he sighed. “I am sorry. And I cannot see things on paper, such as this.”

“Is there a spell that would allow you to do so?” she asked.

“You mean, to make me less vapor and more solid?”

“Well yes.”

“I have no say over that,” he replied, his voice and his stare both fixed on some distant point.   “It must be determined that I am of value before I am so blessed.”

“Determined by whom?” she asked.

“By those that accused me,” came his soft answer.

“You mean those assholes that falsely accused you! The House of lying, degenerate, fucking traitors all, Ryland! Fuck that shit!” she hissed. “I am your Queen Mrs. and find you to be noble of heart and filled with faithful purpose and to me you are of great value and worth. I find you to be an honorable soul that I need to stand at my side and protect me and mine from any and all who mean us harm. Be solid, Captain-of-Queen Mrs.’ Guards,” she said with pride.

Oh shit,” Bee Bee squeaked when he appeared in solid form, complete with blade and dressed in chain mail.

“My Queen,” his voice was full of tears. “My Queen Dechtire!

Apologies,” he fell to his knees before her. He could see Eitilt as well. “You are…you are…my King,” he placed his fist above his heart. “My King Keevan, you have returned to us!”

The shades that always lingered outside their door were gone in a flash.

Word spread and those that were the quickest had the best seats. All the fae were back upstairs, marveling at how handsome and solid-looking Cecil was and listening with rapt attention to what was being passed back and forth between the three.

“My King,” Cecil was wiping his tears, away, while he looked adoringly at Bee Bee. “You called my Queen Bumble Bee, in your private moments. Because she is so small and her hair…” he stopped and wiped at his eyes. “It looked like the pollen that the bees collected.

You used to laugh and tell her she was descended from the thumb-bellas.”

“Well of course she is,” Yarborough piped up, pride in her voice. “Just look at those fine bones. And her cheeks and yet she is blessed with those long legs with that short body stock. Overflowing breasts. The perfect recipe for Thumb-bella.  Obviously, our Queen,” she grinned, “she is of our blood.”

“Well now that you mention that,” Eitilt took another look at his bride, “maybe…” his voice trailed off as he licked his lips as his eyes went over her breasts. “I can see where her ancestors were perhaps once bee size.”

“Stop it,” Bee Bee was chuckling as she started to right herself, clutched her side, and then sat up a bit slower.   “Time to be a different side of serious,” she looked out into the crowd. “What we need is a spell that looks at everything in this building. Cecil has recognized Devan from the photo.   So she has been in here numerous times over the years. I want everything inspected, please, if there is something, anything…talk amongst yourselves. We need to know if she left anything at all behind.

Thank you,” she smiled. “Thank all of you. I think I am ready to shower, now. Eitilt will help me with the dressing.”

“Our Queen,” they all bowed.   “Our King,” they bowed again and left.

“We need Engl and Gael,” Eitilt grinned. “And I do believe that those new ley lines, that will get them here without being discovered.”

“Yes,” B. B. replied, as Eitilt inspected the wound and then wrapped it with plastic, taped it, and then helped her into the shower. Hair washed, those perfect breasts washed, mm-m-m-m, another perfect part of her washed. Then those lovely legs. Time to dry her off, dry her hair, change her bandage and tuck her back into bed.

“Eitilt,” a breakfast tray was waiting for her as her husband uncovered it and she could smell the baked beans, her favorite, along with other yummy delights. “How…I know those parchments that I have been translating are from my human earthly time line. How did I get from before your Eititlt fae time to there?”

“You walked the old ones’ ley lines,” he replied as he poured her a cup of tea. “My guess would be that you and I…” he stopped. “That you and I came together. That we shared enough of the each other’s essence that the lines accepted you as fae and I taught you how to walk them. When I died,” her tears started again, “sh-h-h-h,” he sat down next to her and held her. “I always have a back up plan, Bee Bee. Always. This is who I am. Apparently who I have always been. I would have taught you how to escape and would have had a safe haven for you on a human time line. Obviously this is what happened,” he was thoughtful, “because you showed Cecil where to take Arthur.”

“Arthur?” she smiled. “Our son’s name is Arthur?”

“What?” he looked at her startled.

“You called him Arthur.”

“A slip of the tongue, perhaps,” he smiled at her. “Not an honest memory, I know that. Not like yours.”

“Memories,” she steadied, herself. “And I wrote those poems and died,” she felt the tears trickle down her cheeks. “From missing you.”

“Not this time,” he gently kissed her. “Not this fucking time.”

“I would smoke with lavender,” Engl said, surveying the ground floor. “And a bit of pine soaked in south flowing water.”

“Yes,” Gael nodded her head, “and rosemary. Mer’lyn says that the lavender would hold true if she was still true to her calling. But she has stepped away from what she was created to be. The pine and water, most excellent. He says smoke with rosemary, also. It is clean and keeps the smell of death, away. And that the lady of the house must be in attendance with her blessings as well.”

Engl placed her hand on Gael’s stomach and smiled. “He is something,” she chuckled.

“Yes he is,” she rubbed her tummy and smiled in return.

“He is correct,” Engl acknowledged. “And since she is Queen, and also since she is chatelaine of the castle, the keeper of its keys, it carries the weight of the House of the Son as well. A two-fold blessing.

The lavender for what she once was created to be,

The rosemary as a puritive and repellant so that we may see.

Anyone who has breathed in death and breathed out here,

Their steps will shine with the green pine of the water and their path marked clear.

And the lady of the house,” she smiled at Bee Bee, “her blessing will abide. For here love surrounds from all sides.”

The men watched as the ladies walked their way through the structure, blowing smoke and all commenting on where Devan had cleaned.

“The shades kept her from going upstairs,” Engl laughed. “She of all people would not want the unwashable dead attached to her person. That could just be embarrassing. But she certainly went everywhere else. Would you look at this. Who would have thought she would have cleaned the corners of the ceiling. Or the dish machine in the kitchen. She even hit the trash cans out front next to the table and benches.”

“She must clean,” was all Sara said as she looked around at the faint green sparks that showed where Devan had been. “But it does not look like she opened any food bins, that must be good.”

“Yes, no contamination,” Eitilt sighed.

“Do you think she made it to the basement?” Gael asked.

Eitilt wanted to swear in every language he knew and thought better of it. Pointless, but he would feel better. “The only thing of value there is the door. Of course she has been there. Let’s blow the smoke there, as well.”

They were all outside and stood looking at the lower SaltHill Door. “The door,” Engl stood looking at it, her hands tracing the outlines of Runes that were on it.  “She cleaned the door and did what…Runed something so that she could get back in…”

Eitilt ran his flame over it. “And any idea how long that has been there?”

“Fairly recent,” Engl took a sniff.

“Still reeks of blood,” Gael nodded in agreement.

“Not the kind you could smell,” Engl looked out at the group. “She did something to the sacrifice as she bled it. The life smell has been neutralized. But there is no mistaking that it changed the aura of the door.”

“That is not washer woman,” Sara said in disgust, pointing to the Runes. “We do not work such foul magic.”

“Interesting,” Engl sniffed again. “She Runed in pink heather. Trudy. She used the pink heather as well. On a sub-conscious level, dragons know how deadly that is and would keep away from down here.”

Eitilt shrugged. “I met Bee Bee down here after her shift and escorted her upstairs to my chamber. Did not slow me down at all.”

“You share the wynd ryder’s essence,” Engl said. “The two of you together can overcome anything,” she said cautiously, looking at them carefully, “is that correct?”

“Maybe,” Eitilt replied. “Bee Bee, what do you think?”

Bee Bee shrugged. “Yes, but I also believe that is double-sided. He was angry at himself one evening and I could feel it, inside. It woke me up. My vibration that is normally on the outside that I share with him, this vibration was on the inside and I honestly believe it was going to shatter my appendix.”

Eitilt took a breath. “I did that to you?”

“I…I think so,” she replied, taking his hand. “And I think I could do the same to you if I was ever truly upset with myself for some foolish reason. I think we resonate that way. We are like a tuning fork. Good feelings celebrate us and bad ones…infect our insides. So you cannot be…foolishly angry at yourself anymore. I don’t have many more organs that are not essential. And I must be careful of how I think of myself, as well. At times I feel like I am not worthy of you…”

“What?” his voice held disbelieve.

“I love you,” she said to him, pulling him down for a kiss. “We can talk more later, but right now,” she eyed the door.  “Smoke it,” Bee Bee hissed. “And hit it with whatever else you think needs to be done to keep that bitch out of here. She wants access; she has to bring her happy ass in through the front doors. No sneaking in after we have gone to bed.”

After the witches had worked their magic, everyone stood back from it as Bee Bee approached and gently laid her hands upon it. “My husband tells me that you have been here since before the days of my trusted and valiant Captain Cecil. I know that you let my Eitilt pass and his brother Aed. And I thank you for letting me pass. You now stand guard on an entrance to where my heart abides and where our children shall live and thrive and grow. I ask you to please, stand guard and allow no one that is not family to enter here. Thank you.”

The group  stood back as the door began to rattle and shake in its hinges. Then just as suddenly as it started, it stopped. The rust fell from the iron, the keyhole and key disappeared and the wood looked new and like it had just been oiled.

Left behind in the center of the door was a beautiful brass doorknocker. The lady that now stood watch held beauty and grace. And death to any who tried to force his way.

“Let’s move inside,” Bee Bee smiled at them, “and see what happens.”

Once all were in, Bee Bee closed the door and then opened it. Taking a step out, she closed the door but did not hear it latch. Opening it, she stepped back in, closed the door and heard the lock engage.

“Most good,” she said with a smile. Touching the door, “Thank you,” she said again.

“So Devan was in this with Ryland from the very beginning,” Engl shook her head in disgust as they started for the stairs.

“What is so special about ruling the land of fae?” Bee Bee asked.

Eitilt shrugged. “Nothing.”

“I would have to agree to that,” Gay’el added.

“No perks to speak of,” Engl said.

“Then what’s the fuss?” she asked. “Why target Eitilt?”

“The dark one that Ryland made his deal with, to rule all, this is the same one that Rowan must feed,” Gael answered. “Laguz with Berkano in attendance. They like their blood straight from the terrified source.”

“Nasty bit of business,” Engl said. “Trudy liked hers the same way. Like drawn to like,” she made the sign for the evil eye.

“But how does that explain Devan?” Aed asked.

“Prince Keevan,” Cecil began, “stood with his father on the field of bones and helped to defeat the dark ones.   That…that is when the Soul Washer first saw Prince Keevan.”

“What do you mean, first saw him?” Bee Bee stepped up closer.

“I, I did not realize it at the time, who would think such a thing from a Soul Washer…on the field were many who were dying and my Prince sat with the passing of each. She was there and she looked on him with…at first curiosity, then with pity as he sobbed his goodbyes…then, with want…I know that now. I still cannot believe it but she desired him. I think, perhaps, she did so because he was with each until their return to the bosom of home.”

“Oh-h-h-h,” Engl was thoughtful. “That could explain much.  She saw in him something of herself. Someone who would stand without fear of death and comfort those who were dying.”

“You big stud,” Bee Bee grinned at Eitilt and then poked him in the ribs. “Damn boy, you get the women all riled up. A war through the ages, not for a kingdom, but for a king. I cannot wait to tell her I am the only one that now gets in your pants.  Oklahoma barroom speak,” she smiled out at the crowd. And then she was not smiling. “I am killing that bitch. Someone find a way to make that happen.”

Gay’el was chuckling. “My Queen, that is not a job for you. Leave that to your assassins. Or perhaps,” his eyes lit upon Cecil, “your very dedicated guards.”

“Cecil,” Eitilt addressed him as they started up the stairs.   “Does the name Arthur mean anything to you?”

“Yes, that was your father’s name. The Prince’s as well.”

“Arthur,” Eitilt and Bee Bee both said together.

Bee-Bee gave him a smile that said, “Ha! No true memories!” Then she vocalized, “Our son was named after your father,” she took his hand.

“Yes,” he stopped and turned to look at Cecil. “I wish I could remember that good man. Something to wash away the foul taste of Albie.”

“That good soul lives on in his son,” Cecil replied.

Eitilt felt the truth of those words pierce him. “I am nothing like him,” he said through his tears.

“You are exactly like him,” Cecil responded, his fist over his heart. “True and honorable.”

“Yes, and Albie and Sinead did their jobs,” Bee Bee stroked his cheek with her fingers. “They prepped you for this moment. You are no longer that young, new king, either. This time, you have lived and fought for ages. No one, my beloved, is going to get their shit past you. Or me. Not this time,” as they continued their journey up the steps and back into the throes of the 21st century.

Cecil was grinning through the entire exchange. There stood his King and Queen and some day his Prince would be in attendance as well. His Queen was correct. No one was going to get their shit past them. Time and grace had seen to that.   And he was no longer that trusting guard.  He had lived without his friends for longer than he thought his heart could bear. No one was taking that from him, again. He had sharpened his blade and he was waiting.   It just would not do to let someone as fine and wonderful as his Queen deliver the killing blow. After all, Irish law would not let Granny send his Queen’s shot gun to her and she could not purchase one locally. He had checked. So…it was his duty to kill this foul one for his Queen and he looked forward to fulfilling it.