Friday, February 24, 2017

Short And To The Point: As If Magic Was Enough

This story is a very short story idea I had when I'd decided that there needed to be a short involving Sato, Barris and Feylashar. I like to circulate the characters and give each of them the spotlight from time to time. It was initially going to be very short but I managed to clean it up apply a relevant plot line to any who've been bitten in their life. It's also a bit of something to buy me more research time for Evan And The Ironsides which is likely going to be a very intricate plot line and as historically accurate bar my own interpretations her and there. I'm more concerned with bringing up the right issues at hand more so than defining who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. I think in that story it will explore all sides and very thoroughly.

So I hadn't written anything with Sato that didn't require Barris' presence as is often the case. The two characters play off one another but I thought that Sato deserves his own short story. Hallowed Weave was initially going to be that story, but due to time constraints I kept a lot of ideas from the story in favor of keeping it short. It kept the same goal with this one and it worked out just fine. Initially when I'd started the story on Friday, I'd been nearly intoxicated and it certainly showed. So today (Sunday) I'd just finished designing a 3D version of the exterior of the Sanctum (I'll render it sometime in the next few weeks and share the pics), and decided to clean up what I'd written and get it back on par with other A Lady's Prerogative and The Butterfly Dragon content. It was a nice break from What Different Eyes See for a change.

I hope that you enjoy it and you can probably look forward to a bit more A Lady's Prerogative content in the future.

Brian Joseph Johns

As If Magic Was Enough

Sato fell to the dirt drained and exhausted. He'd done all that he could for those in his care and beyond mere breath and ease of the passage of breath. No more could he have done and he'd fallen exhausted. Fearful he'd failed.

Did I do everything I could have? Everything?

The voice in his head asked and he remained reluctant to answer.

Somewhere in the distance he could hear the sound of taiko drums, their rhythm matching the beating of his own heart.

Barris he thought. Where? He'd left Barris some time ago as much in space, though in the midspace there was no passage of time. Barris body still lay somewhere upon the harsh and timeless ground of the midspace landscape. His final jest still fresh on his face though his assailant had not found it so fancy. Perhaps Barris' final scar upon the face of the living. Humor that none who'd loved him would fail to find a smile or tear within. Done he was and it was so because if Sato had given in, it could be none the more true. It was Sato after all. War veteran and honored Pilot of the Japanese Air Force despite his disagreement with the war. He'd never taken a life and in the end, he'd saved a few, including the life of an American pilot by a simple act of mercy. Was that him? Was that Sato? His life or was he just dreaming it all?

No. He wasn't dreaming. Not this. He used to be an explorer. An adventurer. He'd set up shop in Shepperton, in London England after years of global adventure. Selling the curios he'd accumulated during his years traveling. That was where he met Barris. Poor dead Barris. Dead and gone. Followed the time lords to their realm. John Pertwee perhaps? Tom? The Daleks? Who knew when it was Barris in question. Poe and the telltale heart perhaps? No. He did pass on but how? How long ago in this forsaken timeless pit in the underarm of all being?

Feylashar lay stretched upon the ground her energies spent even for a healer. She'd given it all and when Barris had fallen she'd given her own life. He'd seen her try to rescue his friend. In the end she took a place beside Barris on the cold midspace ground. Cruel it was. Very cruel this life. After all, Sato had lived over seventy years. More than enough he'd thought. Why then did his best friend who was much less than half his age have to die beside the healer that tried to revive him?

Why were they even out here? Jasmer had told them not to go. Or maybe he'd asked them to go? Yirfir too? In the Sanctum... Yes it was the Sanctum. They were in the Sanctum gathering something from the gardens. Something with nectar. Honey. Something important. Feylashar, Barris and he. To the garden to get the nectar.

"Wake up? Wake!! Don't leave me in this place alone!" Sato panicked speaking to himself.

Trying anything he could to keep himself focused. Maybe if he waited a bit?

Time doesn't pass you fool. It's an illusion here. Want to hear a joke?

"Barris? Is that you?" Sato sat up looking around for his fallen friend.

What do you get when you pass go?

Barris' voice seemed to come from the air itself.

"Barris! Don't leave me!" Sato demanded of his best friend.

Are you serious? You don't know that one? The answer is $200 dollars! 

Barris' voice faded.

"That's not Barris! Don't play with me!" Sato cried.

No. That's community chest my friend. Draw a card? Perhaps your luck will change?

Barris laughter echoed through the air.

Nonsense!

This time it was Feylashar's voice that pierced the still wind of the midspace.

You heard her! She said nonsense!

"Is that you?" Sato asked allowed recognizing the voice.

Yes it's me. The real me.

Sato recognized the voice. It was his own. He struggled to maintain his composure the sound of taiko drums pounding in his head.

"Then who am I?" asked Sato fending off anxiety.

You're just a memory. You're what's left of an illness we had. You're the panic. Fear. Pain.

"That's not true. I remember things. Of my life! It's my life! Mine!" Sato exlaimed.

No, I'm afraid not. You see, you only think that you're me but you're not. You're only a little piece of me. Like the sting of a sudden sharp pain you can into existence. If you don't believe me then why are you so panicked?

"That's not true. My friends know who I am! Don't they? Barris! Barris! Feylashar! Tell him! Please tell him!" Sato pleaded.

Sato could smell Feylashar's fragrant scent.

I'm afraid he's right. You're just the leftovers from a painful memory. You know? Like when you stub your toe?

Feylashar suggested.

Sato considered what she'd said. Could what she was saying be true? All he could remember was feeling panicked and tense. Everything else seemed imaginary. Like it hadn't to him. What about the rest of his life? It was all a haze to him.

"No. I'm real. I feel real. I am alive. I'm not just a painful memory. I'ved lived." Sato responded jumping to his feet.

No. I'm afraid not. You see we're here to rescue you. The real you. You are not the *real* you. I am. Because of your illness you're taking precedence. Anxiety. Fear. Pain. That's why your friends are gone. You couldn't help them because you can't be anything else but those emotions. That's because you're the effects of the symptoms of an illness. Now I need my body back so I can fix this problem once and for. There might even be time to save Feylashar. Barris too. You wouldn't want them to die just because you can't come to terms with the reality of your situation.

The voice was certainly his and he was debating his own existence with the voice. He could hear the taiko drums and their awkward timing.

"No. I don't want them to die. Really I don't!" Sato said still anxious.

That's good. Then just lay still and let me get rid of you. The more that you struggle, the longer it will be before I can have my body. If you delay it too long they'll both die.

"Why were we out here? In the midspace? Where's the Sanctum?" Sato demanded of himself.

You were in the gardens looking for the nectar. You know the nectar of which I speak. You needed it to cure an illness. Feylashar was going to make a medicine with it to cure that illness. The illness *is* you. You panicked when you thought it was the end for you, and took over my body. Now I want it back so I can save our friends.

His own voice reasoned with him.

You know what he's saying is true. I'm dying right now on the stone ground of the midspace right beside Barris. If you just go to sleep, he can take back his body and save us both.

Feylashar appealed to him.

For a moment the ground shook and shuddered. He braced himself covering his head with his hands.

"What is happening?" Sato screamed desperately holding onto his sanity.

"Don't listen to them Sato! Don't listen to the voices! Believe in us! Don't give in!" Feylashar's voice broke through the rumble of the quake.

"Sato! It's me! Barris! Come back! Don't you leave me here without someone to bicker! Mila wouldn't have it and I certainly won't!" Barris' voice followed Feylashar's.

Don't listen to them. They're just part of your psyche. They're trying to talk you out of giving up your body to me. They'd say anything just so you'd go their way. After all without you they won't exist, while your real friends will die.

"If I wasn't real, then why would I have real friends? Or even memories of them? After all, I came into existence through an illness, right? I'd have no memory of my friends, so I must be myself. I am Sato." Sato said in realization.

No you're not. You're panicking and your friends... My friends are dying. If you don't give me back my body I can't save them. Give me what is rightfully mine!

"It's not yours. It's mine. If I am thinking this right now and arguing with you, then it must be mine. If you are me, then what musical instrument did I learn to play at the age of nine?" Sato asked his voice.

You're wasting valuable time. They'll be dead soon and it will all be on your hands. All of it!

"I asked you a question! Now answer it!" Sato screamed at his voice.

Alright. I learned how to play the taiko drums. Are you satisfied? Now give me back my body.

"You know it's true that I considered learning to play the taiko drums. After all, my childhood friends used to play music together and we did not have anyone to play the taiko drums. I even asked my Father if I could earn the money to buy them. He said no of course, only because we did not have the money for taiko drums but we had a family Shakuhachi. So instead I learned to play the Shakuhachi despite the fact that I'd thought so much about taiko drums. I never learned to play taiko drums at all. So it is you who do not belong. You heard my thoughts about the taiko drums and assumed that was the instrument I'd learned how to play. So it is you that are the imposter!" Sato answered.

It shames me that we must decide this another way. So die you must old man. After all. I need that body more than you do. For myself and my kind.

It suddenly appeared before him, a humanoid without visage. It had no facial features or distinguishing form of its own. It took on the appearance of Sato's body though without the fine details that rounded out his being. Sato suspected as much of the being's martial arts skills.

It swung its limbs at the real Sato, and Sato effortlessly dodged the blows catching the beast's arms and folding them across it's chest. Sato merely stepped forward and the creature fell into submission on the ground of the midspace.

The creature turned over onto its stomach and before Sato's eyes it transformed into a mosquito looking insect about the size of a bird. If flew off and disappeared into the distance.

A moment later Sato awoke. He was on a gurney his chest  bare. He arched forward startled to see Feylashar and Barris hovering over him. His head connected with Barris' and they both grabbed their foreheads in pain.

"Oww! Argh! I know I've been saying that we have to starting putting our heads together but that's taking it a little too literal." Barris said rubbing his swolen forehead.

"You buffoon. What were to doing hovering over my face like that? You know how easily I'm startled when I sleep!" Sato said massaging the top of his tender head still dizzy from the impact.

"It's good to see that you're feeling much better." Feylashar responded upon seeing Sato come to life.

"If this is better, I'm glad I wasn't awake to see how I was unconscious." Sato said sharply still sore.

"I'll accept that as a thank you." Feylashar replied holding a pleasant smile while delivering her sarcasm.

"What happened to me?" Sato asked his eyes still watering.  

"You were tending to the gardens and you were bitten by a Doppleganger Fly. Pretty nasty bite they have. First it renders you unconscious. Then it tries to take over your body and and your life. Then it tries to lure everyone you know near more of its kind so they can do the same them. Most of what you experienced was just in your head. You imagined most of it." Feylashar answered as she poured two cups of tea and handed them to Barris and Sato.

"What's this for?" Barris asked.

"Your head." Feylashar answered them.

"Right. Thank you." Barris said taking a sip.

"So when did we start keeping Doppleganger Flies in the garden and Atrium?" Sato asked.

"We don't. One snuck in when someone left the courtyard door to the Atrium open." Feylashar said as she tidied up the remedies she'd used to cure Sato.

"Imagine that! Someone leaving the courtyard door open like that. The nerve! I'm just glad to have you back my friend. I'll speak to Mila about this incident and ensure that it doesn't happen again." Barris said to Sato shaking his hand before hastily making his way out of the Life Well healing area.

"Well I'm going check the Librum Universalis Codex. Maybe we can find out who did leave it open... Oh and arigatō. I mean thank you. " Sato said putting his tunic on as he headed for the Librum Universalis Codex.

...

Later that night Barris sat in bed thumbing through a book of William Butler Yeats selected works. Mila lay in bed beside him working on a charcoal sketch in her favorite drawing pad. Mila's attention didn't waver so nearly as much as Barris, who looked from time to time to Mila, without saying anything to her. Finally he spoke.

"Honey. Thanks for clearing up that problem in the Librum Universalis Codex. I mean it was for a special occasion." Barris said to her casually.

Mila remained quiet for a long period and then spoke.

"That's alright. I'm still going to hold you to that back rub tonight. You said..." Mila reponded keeping her emotions hidden as she concentrated on her sketch.

"You don't think anyone could find out. Do you?" Barris asked her still seeming a bit nervous.

"Find out? What? You did a good thing. You just wanted me to erase the Codex entry about you sneaking a present for Sato into the Atrium and gardens through the courtyard door. You just didn't want anyone to see it just in case someone told him and ruined the surprise. I mean you did nothing wrong." Mila stopped sketching and looked at Barris a little skeptically.

Barris feigned innocence and Mila's brows tightened inquisitively.

"Didn't you?" Mila asked Barris.

"How 'bout that massage?" Barris said rolling over onto her nibbling her ear.

"BARRIS!?" Mila asserted herself as Barris poured on the charm.

The End.

.Copyright © 2017 Brian Joseph Johns

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Evan And The Ironsides

This story is actually an excerpt from A Lady's Prerogative II: Wounded Aerth and a new chapter that I've decided to share. The truth is that in the book the chapter does not exist and I've decided to write and share it online. Marketing for the future release of the book if you will and yes much like The Butterfly Dragon II: Dragon Butterfly, it will be released. Eventually.

So who is Evan and what are the Ironsides? Evan is one of the first characters that Shaela Sheowellyn encounters when she after being abducted she finds herself inexplicably in the middle of the wilderness. Evan, an older man with short white hair and a groomed gray moustache arrives to assist Shaela in routing those who would have her hide for the price of a bounty.

It turns out that Evan Edwards is one of the early law men of an emerging colony. Shaela and Evan quickly become friends, Evan knowing her secret life as a Wytch having witnessed the destructive power of her giant Shadow Cat protector. Shaela then separated from her friends Mila, Nelony and Yirfir must overcome a great evil that threatens to eradicate all Wytches. Eventually Shaela and Evan are separated and Evan encounters an embattled Mila, Yirfir, Sato and Barris in a refuge. It is around that time that Mila has time to ask Evan about how he came to be the law man of the colony and he gives her a few details but his story is still vague.

In the book Evan does tell a little bit of his story to Shaela but not much detail is given to his history. I decided that the character who is quite pivotal in the entirety of the story and particularly the outcome that he should have his own back story. So I decided to address this in between writing What Different Eyes See for The Butterfly Dragon.

Keep in mind that this story takes place during the English Civil War and deals with a battle between the forces of the ruling Monarchy and the Parliamentarians in a largely divided and a post Magna Carta England. The story itself does not take sides but instead is about Evan's experience within and how it shaped who he became the only law man of the North American colony, West View. I hope that this story brings a bit of light to the forces of change and so called progress. It certainly not intended as disrespect or disdain for the English Monarchy, so I urge my readers not to assume anything about this story at all in that regard. Give it time and all will become clear.

So if you are interested in finding out who Evan really is, and what the Ironsides are and don't mind getting your boots dirty from horseback then read on. Mostly though, please enjoy.

Brian Joseph Johns

Evan And The Ironsides (First draft)

A chapter from A Lady's Prerogative II: Wounded Aerth

They had stopped for the first time on their hasty trip but only because the horses themselves were parched. Evan's immediate Officer had made the request when he'd noticed that several of the horses had begun wheezing during their breaths. West View still a good twenty hours travel was out of reach within the confines of the remaining daylight and Evan's West View Cavalry had themselves began to long for a rest. The Cree scouts had returned informing Evan that the only signs of travel were of the Cavalry themselves which had made the trip south to the Haven only a day earlier.

Evan made a quick camp and organized the Cavalry to sleep in shifts. Three groups, two would sleep while the other kept a regular watch and foraged for water food for their mounts. Evan planned to stop for six hours at most which would put them back on the road at roughly three thirty in the morning and in West View before nightfall the next day.

Jasmer had remained strangely withdrawn while Mila, Sato and Barris had helped put together a meal for the waking Cavaliers. Evan had been busy setting up guard detail and taking care of the scouts horses which itself was an honor for they would often trust none with their horses. By the time Evan had returned to the fire his body creaked and groaned from ware and tear, but mostly from age. He sighed heavily as he joined Mila, Sato and Barris before the camp fire.

"I presumed that ye'd be catching your night's rest." Evan said as he took a drink of water from his hide canteen.

"We had a lot of rest at the Haven." Mila responded quietly.

"Who could hope to sleep after that battle! I'll be surprised if I ever sleep again!" Barris said still slightly on edge and looking to the shadowy darkness that bordered the fire's light.

"The rest is welcome though I fear for Shaela's safety." Sato said drinking from a cup of herbal tea he'd concocted with the help of the scouts.

"We'd be her death should we show up unable to fend for her. A Cavalry's strength is in it's mounts and an unbroken ride would have crippled them. I am with Shaela in every thought. She's as much a daughter to my Wife and I as she is friend and ally. I've seen many Women in my life and she is none to fall easily. The hunters know this of her and they'll proceed without haste and a measure of care. That will give us the time we need to close ranks with their wretched hive and have done with this madness." Evan took another drink from his canteen.

"You spoke of your time with the Ironsides and the war. Would you care to tell us of yourself?" Mila asked him compassionately wondering if during his time as West View's solitary law man if anyone had ever given him an ear.

He sat thinking. Remembering before he spoke. Mila, Barris and Sato sat listening intently as the camp fire painted their faces with an eerie orange glow.

"Cromwell. He was quite a leader and certainly the fire under the rump of the men who made up the Ironsides, though he was a zealot and brash man. He did not himself fear God but he wanted only men who did. Him and I often conflicted and clashed. Almost as often as we'd taken on the enemy for we saw things very differently. He was at war more so with liberty itself than he was with tyranny. We loathed each other yet held a deep respect for one another. He was the right man to lead the Ironsides but not much more for should he possess the power of rule, he'd rule by terror and fear alone. Perhaps it is that recipe that kept the Ironsides so strong for such a green Company amongst the other veteran Companies of the war. It was a dangerous business to sell the idea publicly of overthrowing the rule a King. I knew this to be the case for from where I hail and the daily coinage I'd pocket, I am fortunate enough to be able to read and write. It is far a sight of the mind to understand by keeping abreast of one's history after all. Being able to read brings with it a great responsibility. Dire it is. Sometimes I'd curse the day that I as a young man became curious seeking out a scribe and tutor for it forced me to withdraw the shackles of my ignorance. From that moment that I could read I could no longer plead ignorance when I chose to give a blind eye to the issues of the day. At that time I kept a stable and was a skilled instructor in both riding and mounted combat. That is precisely why he arrived 'pon my door and step that day. I had been riding as I recall. A horseman's lance in one hand and a shield and coat of arms in the other." Evan began to recall the events in the preceding decade that had brought him to be in West View.

Evan rode pushing his war mount hard and furiously towards the target. Steam could be seen erupting from the nostrils of his steed as if it's innards boiled. Evan's arm held firm the lance as he leaned forward readying himself to brace for impact. His left arm held fast to a medium horseman's shield it's weight tiring him slowly as he bounced in rhythm of his saddle. The lance impacted the target disappearing into it and ripping the lance from his grip. He immediately pulled back on the reigns with his shield hand and with his other drew forth a saber from its scabbard. The horse slowed and turned a hundred and eighty degrees to return to the target barreling once again forward. As Evan passed he swung the saber severing the target's head sending it clean off and into the air where it arced back down disappearing into the field. Evan's horse stopped, sweat soaking both their bodies.

"Dead it is was and will be. Aye as t'were." Evan heard a voice from behind him.

"Dead is a quality given only to those once of the living. My friend 'ere was etched of n'yer." Evan responded his accent hidden behind his heavy breath.

"That may be it, truth. But by God it shall for certain not arise to strike you lest he alone wills it. Do you fear it? Him?" asked the man whom Evan saw was himself perched on the back of a heavy draft horse.

He was accompanied by another man who too was aback a smaller and lighter horse. He wore the attire of a courtesan or bureaucrat or perhaps both.

"I fear neither." Evan responded looking both men over carefully and only seeing trouble in them each.

"In yer death you'll answer to yer maker for yer deeds. Do you not this believe?" asked the man who was now grating on Evan's nerves.

"It shall be a short conversation. Much shorter than this one has been. I bid you a good day." Evan said coaxing his horse in a slow walk towards the stable.

"Of a clean heart are you? No ills that plague ye? Per chance have none inquired as such of ye?" asked the man again pressing his own fortune and Evan's patience.

"How can one corrupted heart uncover the corruption of another?" Evan stopped his horse as he spoke.

"Know ye not? It is the corrupt who carry the sword that cleaves the sin from his innards. None know it as much and better than those who've tasted it." the man answered.

"And none like it's taste as much I suspect. So corrupted are ye and in admission thereof? Then what is your business on this day? Ye'd best dare not make way with my coin or my heart for ye'd be cleaved much like my felled friend 'pon this very field." Evan said turning the horse to face them.

"We have no need of yer coin but we are in need of your heart. It is fact that all of England does so need as much for these are dire times indeed. When a single man can rule in place of God it is a dark day. For whom to you by day conduct your deeds? England? It's people? Or the King?" asked the man.

"I suspect that yer friend must have fallen from his steed many times more than the good health of his head and heart would allow. If I am not mistaken you are speaking aloud in the open day under this very sky words against the Crowned Throne to which I have sworn to protect. Be gone afore I deliver swift justice itself. I suspect that you'll find little pity here or elsewhere for your words smell of trouble, war and most certainly death." Evan spoke with purpose and direction.

"I suspect that fear holds you to oath more so than loyalty or principle." the man replied while the courtesan/bureaucrat remained quiet.

"One could say the same of your loyalty to God. What is the difference between men whose control of others are scepter and crown forged of fear." Evan responded clearly annoyed by the man.

"We 'ave made progress, Cromwell." said the courtesan/bureaucrat encouraging the other man.

"Cromwell? I've heard tell of you. A mad man using the Church to mount his campaign against the throne. You have some nerve coming here to seek me out!" Evan said holding his ground.

"Ye've heard tell? I am honoured by your say. We have the support of the English Mercantile, the Scots and others of this fine land not to mention the law itself of the high land and of God." Oliver Cromwell spoke the veil now lifted on his identity.

"Ye are none so much as a festering parasite seeking to profit from a conflict by absconding with the hole in power that remains after the battlefield has felled the throne and Merchants of England of theirs. You'd be no better and much worse I suspect than the rule of the oligarchy." Evan responded riding a bit closer brandishing his saber.

"We bring law with us and an act of the laws derived from men and principle. Founded upon the ideas of Solomon from the good book." the courtesan/bureaucrat spoke this time looking to Cromwell for approval after he'd delivered his oration.

"I am literate so I'd advise ye not tread with the belief that I am lost amidst the darkness of ignorance. I've read the Magna Carta. No thing from it arose except to entrap the King John to rules of his making and admissions. Those who enacted it never used it to give the people anything except more death under the guise of religious reforms. We are still just off the departed doorstep of the crusades and generations of slaughter. No gathering of men has brought with it justice for the people and the rule of law other than the those using the tyranny of either the Church or the Mercantile whose power yields death the same of a different blade. What bring ye that finds no common ground?" Evan approached them close, his horse looking on just as inquisitively as if the two were one.

"I have but one word that may it find nest amidst the ideas of such an educated and literate man as ye, convinced ye might be to follow and lead with yer brothers in arms. Parliament." Oliver Cromwell replied.

"Parliament? Your word in my ears?" Evan confirmed.

"Parliament." the courtesan/bureaucrat confirmed.

Evan remained silent and all that could be heard was the heavy breathing of his horse which kept it's eyes on them both looking through them.

"You have until nightfall to convince me of yer plans and ideas. If ye are still on my land by the time the sun descends beneath the horizon I shall fell ye both and deliver your bodies into the carriage by morn." Evan said coaxing his horse towards the stable.

"Bring yer steeds afore the stable and we'll get to yer proposal." Evan dismounted leading his horse into the stable to remove it's saddle and for a quick brushing before leading the two men into his home to discuss the matters at hand.

...



"So what did you discuss in your meeting with Cromwell?" asked Mila nursing Barris' head in her lap as they sat before the fire.

"T'was as I spake. He'd come to discuss the policies of the land and its rule for he was backing the Parliamentarians. He'd heard my reputation as a horseman and man at arms. He'd waint me to whip his Cavalry to prim and to ride with him in battle if deemed be. Those matters were of our discussing at that time." Evan replied taking a sip from his flask.

"What did you decide? I mean it must have been a tall risk, just the six of you riding around bullying the Imperials into submission?" Barris said a bit put off.

"As I'd mentioned, I was not directly in support of the Ironsides as was their nomenclature. I supported the idea of a Governance chosen by the people, but with the advisory and approval of Imperials. The power of the veto if you will. I mean t'would be dangerous to throw to the wolves centuries worth of experience and diplomacy by removing our own head as it'were. England needed their guidance and the confidence of its people. The real motivations for such a move oft are more devious than well thought in advance. More so than most would know or understand." Evan tried to explain the politics of the time.

"So you supported the Imperials?" asked Sato who'd sat quietly listening intently.

"Yay. As did I the formation of a Governance by the people." Evan replied.

 "So you wanted both?" Mila asked to be sure.

"Yay again Milady. You see, being the solitary power and rule comes with challenges most could not fathom. After all, you are but one often part of a family to whose heredity one must answer. That bares a weight of choice 'pon the lap that should n'yer be set as there. Your power is absolute and unquestionable. That is a feast unto itself and a temptation for many who'd usurp it by means we know and some not as so much. Play you into the hands of the people's ire whilst shining their own brass and silver before them. Those who make up the closest to the throne might be as puppeteers. The puppet being the throne itself. Working together to suit power to their own ends whilest cultivating the dismay of the people. At the expense of the people. It takes a sturdy and steeled kind in crown to weather such storms and to maintain grace, fairness and justice a'tween. Those who fail this prying of their mettle oft fall to despotic and monstrous measures to maintain their hands on that bridle. Death follows there behind more so than naught. All this while those who steered them through deceit and manipulation shine their brass before the people. So what the people want is an end to the risk of such manipulation and their hand on this bridle. Our finest steed. Our land." Evan paused a moment to take another sip from his flask.

"I agreed to be a part of the Ironsides but not to throw the Imperials from England. To do my part to see that this was not a murderous revolt seeking to place the blame for the ravages of time 'pon their lap. There have and had been many sins in the name of the land and the rule for religion, business and the meritocracy of land. That burden should not fall to the lap of just one. One who'd be cast aside and spat upon so that the hands of the guilty could be cleansed continue from where they left using their vassalage as a vantage point to prey upon another rule and so on. So I agreed to do my part to see that the throne would be a part of what was to come. Working with the people to restore the faith in our good land. T'would be no greater crime than to sacrifice the learned knowledge of the prior years of rule and family. They've weathered challenges few of us would a'yer know or be capable of knowing. There were many as I who'd vested enough time to learn to read. To educate ourselves to the ways of this land and the known world. Business. Politics. Theology. How the three strive for their full grasp around the reigns. Just by the very knowing of it, there's implied duty upon us. Mine was to be a part of Cromwell's Ironsides, and to ensure that the virtues I stood for were preserved. Whilest a rider finds rough and rocky hew 'pon a horse's shoe, must he fall to walk and none too soon. To lead the horse safely forward to steady footing. Upon finding as much they then travel together as one. Horse and rider. I was doing this for our great steed, England. So we, Oliver, his advisor and I spake of what was to come and I became an Ironside 'pon the agreement that I never draw the blood of a Royal." Evan explained.

"And he agreed?" Barris asked sitting up slightly as Mila stroked his hair.

"Of course he did. After all, I was the most trusted horseman and man at arms of the land at that time." Evan said twisting the end of his moustache as he winked at Mila.

"Maybe we should ask the horses first." Sato responded.

They started laughing heartily together for the first time since they'd found themselves in their precarious situation. Evan smiled sitting back slightly worn from the days events.

"You are going to finish this aren't you?" Barris asked enthusiastically.

"There's a bit more to say, so I shall say it." Evan replied as he continued.

To be continued...

Brian Joseph Johns

Copyright © 2014, 2017 Brian Joseph Johns