The Demons of Constantinople – Snippet 03

“Leona wanted to see the grove, Mama.” Then, with a severe look at Leona, Kitten added, “Leona was supposed to stay in my backpack till we got to my tree.”

“Did you tell her that?” Catvia asked, and a mist flowed from the box and turned into a woman with cat ears and a tail. “Never mind. If you don’t know better than to think you can tell cats what to do, it’s time you learned.”

Leona meowed in complete agreement with this.

“But you tell me what to do all the time,” Kitten complained.

“You’re a kitten and I am your mother. It’s my job.”

Again Leona meowed her agreement. Then she asked, “Why didn’t you walk around like this in the . . .” Leona was at a loss. How could she describe home? The grove of scrub wood next to the village where she grew up.

“You mean the mortal realm?” Catvia said more than asked.

Leona flicked her ears in a cat shrug. “I guess.”

“It’s called the mortal world,” Catvia said, “and sometimes the humans call it the natural world, though I myself don’t see it as any more natural than this world. But your question was why I didn’t walk around like this in the mortal world. The answer is that I can’t, at least not yet. Even doing it here takes a certain amount of energy, though I have gotten better at it since the grove joined Pucorl’s lands. We’re on a higher energy plane than we were before.”


“Kitten, you explain it,” Catvia said. “I want to see how much you understand.”

“Okay,” Kitten said, running ahead to a sapling about fifteen feet tall. She hugged the sapling and two of the lower limbs seemed to hug her back. The sapling was pinkish tan and, like Kitten, it had a data port. It also had a mouth and eyes, as well as the rainbow of leaves that were common to every tree in the grove. A cord from the tree spiraled up and plugged into Kitten behind her left ear. For a moment she was still, then the cable released, and she grinned and sat down with her back to the tree. “Data dumps make telling each other what’s happened so much easier.

“The reason . . . No, never mind. I’ll explain about dataports later. Kitten, you were going to explain about the energy planes,” Catvia said.

“That’s what Wilber calls them,” Kitten told Leona while she patted her lap.

Leona considered. A petting might be nice, but she wasn’t sure she wanted this kitten to get ideas. After a moment, she walked over and curled up on the grass next to the kitten.

“The ones up there –” Kitten pointed at the sky. “– are the crystal spheres of heaven. And the ones down below have lots of names. Underhill, the dark places, or even the nine circles of hell. But that’s only heavenly propaganda. After all, Mom was from there. The whole grove was there before the dryads — they were succubi at the time — made a deal with Pucorl and they were perfectly nice. Coach says so. Coach is the faun that was Dan’s sports watch.”

“Ahem. The point, Kitten. You were talking about the energy planes.”

“Okay, Mom, okay. The ‘energy planes’ make up this universe, which Wilber says is a different universe from the universe he’s from. He says that they are passing through each other and for the longest time they barely touched each other at all, even as they passed through. But then something happened and they started interacting a lot more. That was about two years ago in that other universe. Back then, time moved differently in this universe. So I’m eight, almost nine. As old as Paul, even though I was only born a few weeks ago in that other universe’s time.”

Leona meowed in total confusion. Magic or not, this kitten was talking nonsense.

“We can worry about temporal distortions later,” Catvia said. “Go on about the energy planes.”

“Well, we’re on the middle one now. The energy plane about half way from the top of heaven to the bottom of hell. The part of it we’re in is called the Elysian Fields. It’s roughly analogous to England in the mortal world, and at about the same level, so to go from here to England is a step sideways, in a way. A special direction.”

“Is that where I’m from?” Leona asked.

“No. That’s why we had to use Pucorl to get here. He can go to his lands from anywhere in the mortal realm. Or, for that matter, from about any place in the netherworld. But we can’t . . . well, Mom can’t, and I’m not allowed to.”

“Why can’t Catvia?” Leona asked.

“Dryads are tied to the location of their tree,” Catvia said. “We can’t travel far from them without special help. When we are pulled into the mortal world, we are especially weak, only capable of manifesting in dreams, even with the veil ripped all asunder. We can only produce dreams. Most of us is our trees. So the farther from our trees we are, the weaker we are. I am freer to move about than most because Kitten’s father gave me the computer that is, in a sense, my body. But even so, when I go to the mortal realm with Pucorl, I prefer to stay as close to the van as possible to piggyback on Pucorl’s link to these lands and my tree.”

“Yeah, the only way our trees can move is if the land moves too,” Kitten said, then added, “like it has been my whole life. The grove has been shifting around to match the tree locations in the mortal realms. For the first time in eons, our trees will have mortal trees to match them.”

Leona looked over to Catvia for an explanation of this.

“Remember that we of the netherworld are without form unless we impose it on ourselves, or someone else imposes it on us. Having a matching thing from the mortal realm helps, makes it easier for us to maintain a form. The less of ourselves we are spending on that, the more we can spend on other things.”

“Except for me,” Kitten crowed. “I have a mortal father, so I have a defined body that grows, and I don’t have to work hardly at all to keep that shape.” Then she pouted. “But I can hardly change my shape at all.”

“Talk to Kitten,” Catvia told Leona. “I have to go to work.” Picking up the laptop, Catvia strolled over to a large tree near to Kitten’s tree, and walked right into the tree.

Leona looked at Kitten and then decided to have a nap. She climbed up on the girl’s lap, curled up in a ball, and went to sleep.