[Tolerance, tolerance. Although it makes me sick to hear such thoughts….My son….He shouldn’t lounge around like that I suppose, although he thought he was unobserved. I can understand why anyone would notice the improvement in his looks, I wonder what he’s been up to. He seems to be yearning for his youth.
Still to think such thoughts about my son… I never had this problem with Koa. Perhaps he was more adept at hiding his thoughts from me… You know I think he can hear my thoughts. This is unexpected. I need to be careful.]
Timonthy shook his head. He must have been overdoing it, he thought to think such thoughts as though they belonged to someone else.
He knew that Stolid wouldn’t tempt him in that way. Stolid had brought Gerard and him together and his principles wouldn’t let him interfere with that. But perhaps Timonthy might wish he would? Stupid thoughts! He didn’t deserve one of his possible suitors -never mind to think he could decide between them.
He remembered how old he was and was struck by a sudden fear. What if they both decided they could do without him and tried to find happiness together? He could see that working, he thought to his own disgust. He had to get Stolid and Koa back together he realised in a flash of clarity.
Gerard might question his motives but surely these were the right motives. They crossed the grass covered bridge.
Timonthy’s mind focused on the job they were here to do: to prove somehow that Peter was Stolid’s father and if that could be proved his mind would be open to so many more possibilities than now. Peter paused almost ceremoniously beside the grass mound they had seen many times before.
They followed one of the mown spirals that wrapped around it and climbed. In the dry heat, the comfortable afternoon sun, this felt like the walk along the rocks leading to the hidden waterfall, even as far as the feeling of imminent danger – but there was a reason for that this time. Peter pushed through the trees at the top and they all followed him.
Gerard held the branches back for Paris and Timonthy and followed last. Entering the cool sheltered space was a balm to Timonthy’s heart. He felt at home here: surrounded by protection and love even, a small child in the arms of caring parents. He could tell from Gerard’s caught breath that he felt it too.
Peter was in a world of his own and Paris was alert as always, waiting for the next move.
“I know where Gerard wants me to take you,” Peter said slowly and I think I understand why. Where we are going we will be safe. No-one will see us and no-one can touch us but you may find it distressing. I don’t want to be patronising Paris but you don’t have to go. We’ll find other ways to prove my point after this visit if you want to wait for us here.” Paris looked nervous but she swallowed, “I’ll come with you.”
Timonthy looked up briefly and saw a full moon in a dark sky. He felt the whole world moving up in front of him as if he was a hamster on a perpetually moving wheel and then the sky turned red. There was a terrible smell of rotting food, rank water, sweat and burning flesh or hair and on the horizon a black outline of a hilltop castle. Wherever he looked there was frantic movement, even in the sky where smoke and flames danced like devils. Timonthy and Paris turned to look around them while Gerard and Peter stood still.
It was like the eye of a storm: standing completely untouched in the heart of chaos. Timonthy couldn’t understand what he was looking at to begin with: like a jigsaw puzzle with a thousand separate scenes requiring detailed examination of each tiny piece before the whole picture began to make sense.
There were men and horses milling around them, swords flashing in the hellish light. They would have been crushed if they had really been there, Timonthy reflected so they were only observing this like a kind of vision, although it was so lifelike. They could hear shouts in every language imaginable, the clink and clatter of swords, the screaming of horses and thundering from the earth.
It was a good vision, Timonthy considered. Every sense was involved. He wasn’t sure how it was done but he settled for trying to being there. Then he saw Gerard. Not the still, lanky clean shaven Gerard beside him but a darting bearded man, looking like Gerard but subtly different, who moved so fast it was hard to focus on him.
He was on foot to begin with, so close to being crushed under mighty hooves, then he twisted under a horse’s saddle hanging on with enough force somehow to appear the other side and knock the rider to the floor. Urging the horse away through the melee he dodged the unseated rider’s sword and wielded his own with reckless abandon. He didn’t seem intent on harming those around him, just clearing a space for his own safe passage.
To begin with Timonthy thought that Gerard could see them, was making consciously towards them but then he saw his true goal. In front of them was a knight hanging on to a flailing horse with effort.
“Not a moment too soon,” the knight shouted as Gerard pulled alongside. They both made a fast and acrobatic movement resulting in Gerard standing on the floor again, turning suddenly to avoid the falling, discarded horse and then with the sword to protect his back. The knight sat safely on the new horse and shuffled into a comfortable position.
“For God’ sake find yourself a helmet,” he shouted as he wheeled around. “I can’t see properly with a helmet on,” Gerard replied. As the knight rode towards them he shouted back to Gerard, “You’d see better than you would with a sword through your head.”
The other moving Gerard was gone again, lost in the chaotic movement and the still Gerard said delightedly, “That’s what he said. I couldn’t hear at the time.”