This will be the last snippet. The cover for the book has been delayed so the book won’t be published until May 1st.
The Demons of Constantinople – Snippet 43
“Green Lantern. Paul and Kitten are in Pucorl’s lands today, studying basic magic with a puck of Pucorl’s acquaintance.”
“Yes.” Wilber grinned. “I’ve met Pucoransis. Well, at least the kids will be entertained. I don’t know how much they’ll learn. Put me through to Pucorl, would you? I would like to arrange a pickup, in case I need it.”
“I’ll take you back,” Leona insisted. “As soon as we are done talking with the locals.”
Wilber called Pucorl anyway. A cat was a cat, netherworld or not.
The veil between the worlds was still in shreds, though Themis was working on repairing it in her lands and several of the other gods were doing the same. But Themis was leaving intentional holes in her repairs, so that she and hers would have access to the natural world.
Pucorl’s lands were small and while he was now more powerful than Merlin, he was still minor in comparison to even a demigod. His ability to repair the veil was almost nonexistent. But he could “see” it and the rifts in it where his lands touched the natural world. He assured Wilber that he would be able to find locations where Wilber could simply step back through. Given that assurance, Wilber, with Leona perched on his shoulder, walked boldly over to the village.
He was wearing his pistol. It was a habit by now.
Location: The Village Pendine, Wales
Time: 12:04 PM, February 27, 1373
Maud saw the stranger walking out of the village woodlot with the thing on his shoulder. She turned and ran screaming into the village. She was, after all, only sixteen years old, recently married . . . and her new husband was the one who shot the arrow at the thing. Right now, she was afraid that if Willum got stubborn, the wizard might burn him to the ground.
By the time she got to the town square, the village was gathered. All fifty-five adults. The men were led out to meet the wizard by the village headman and Father Robert, the village priest and school master.
Wilber saw the mob and shouted, “Calm down. I only want to talk.”
“What are you doing in our woodlot?” shouted a large man carrying a scythe. Carrying it like he was itching to use it.
“Your woodlot is . . .” Wilber had the — unusual for him — experience of struggling to find the right word. Mostly because there wasn’t a word in fourteenth-century English for “in the next dimension,” or “across the veil between the worlds.” So he went with twenty-first century English, and counted on his communication magic to get the meaning across. “Across the veil between worlds. In the other world are now the lands of Chevalier Pucorl de Elysium, of whom you may have heard.”
“You mean that prince of Underhill who aided the king of France against his traitorous brother and the army of the dead?”
“That’s the one,” Wilber agreed. “But he’s not from Underhill. He got promoted. He’s from Elysium, or perhaps Camelot. Also he’s a knight, not a prince.”
“We already have a knight,” the priest said. “We don’t need another.”
“Nor does Pucorl claim your lands. But you are neighbors of a sort, and he would appreciate it if you were to refrain from shooting at his folk.”
By now Wilber was close enough so that he really didn’t need to shout, so he asked, “May I know your name, Father? I am Wilber Hyde-Davis, originally of London in the twenty-first century.”
“You’re one of the twenty-firsters?” the big man with the scythe asked. “I heard the king of France threw the bunch of you out. Don’t you expect King Edward to welcome you.”
Sheesh, this fellow is belligerent, Wilber thought. “Look, Father, is there somewhere we can sit and have a chat? You, the headman of the village, and me? I’m not here to start a war. I’m here to prevent one. I’m not here to take anything from you, or your village, either.”
It turned out that Mr. Belligerent was the headman of the village. His name was John Hywel. He, his wife, Father Robert and Father Robert’s housekeeper/companion/concubine were the ones who ended up in the headman’s hut over small beer and bread, discussing the arrangements in dealing with Pucorl’s lands and the beings who resided there.
Surprisingly enough, it was John who brought up the possibility of buying goods from Constantinople to sell in Bristol. It was Father Robert who pointed out that Sir Thomas, who held the rents on this village, was going to want his portion of any such trade, and he would find out about it.
Sir Thomas lived some five miles away in Wenvoe Keep. It wasn’t much, in truth. More a two-story stone cottage than a true fortress. But it had a barn for the knight’s horses and its own blacksmith and armorer. He wasn’t a particularly bad lord, but he was poor, only having the rents from two small villages to support his household and pay for his part in his lords campaigns. Which, in the last year or so, had mostly been dealing with wild hunts and the mischief of leprechauns who somehow ended up here instead of Ireland where they belonged.
In the meantime, they did manage to get the villagers to agree to leave Leona alone. Mrs. Hywel endeared herself to the gryphon by feeding her a bowl of milk. And Wilber explained that it wasn’t thanking the demons that caused them to stop helping. It was giving them things to act as their bodies without their prior agreement.
Over the next few weeks, word of Pucorl’s lands went up the feudal chain from village to knight, to lord, to duke, to prince, to king. And word came back down. Sir Thomas was compensated for the loss of the village, which became the direct fief of Prince Thomas of England, Edward III’s fifth living son and something of a magic aficionado. Besides, contact had been made on his birthday, so it was sort of a belated birthday present.
A pentagram of transport was placed on the edge of the village and a matching one on the edge of Pucorl’s parking lot. Together, they formed a route from the natural world to Pucorl’s lands and back. Since Pucorl’s lands were now following the local time fairly closely, you could go back and forth and not have to worry about meeting your grandpa when he was a wee lad.