I kept John’s reminder in my thoughts through the next few days. I knew I must find a way to fight my way back to some sort of normalcy. It might be an ongoing battle that I would have to fight every day for the rest of my life? From somewhere deep within me, I must find the lost parts of me… the strength and spirit and the knowledge that I was worthy of fighting for? I must not give up on myself… not when it seemed so many others had given up so much in their thought that I was a worthy cause to fight and die for, even if I was not sure why right now?
A few days later, I was beginning to feel stronger and spent an evening with John and the others. It was a strange occurance for me, to sit with a group of people and openly discuss the time slips? I found myself quite comfortable with these others, even Bradley. My past with him was just that, a childhood memory that meant naught else now. I did appreciate the memories that we could share of a past spent in much similar surroundings and knowing the same people? It gave me some comfort in fact to look upon him as a childhood friend… I could not remember ever having any friends as a child?
John shared more of his story of my past and his part in guiding it, though I had knew nothing of that at the time. He was given the role as my watcher and protector, but that role strictly forbade him from interfering with my life unless I were in mortal danger. The only other time he would be permitted to intervene would be if I showed signs of not being a mere mortal… which of course would most certainly have put my life in danger during the period which I was growing up in!
After the events of Edward’s disappearance, it was deemed that my life was in peril, as were so many others during that uprising and war between families…
John, Bradley and Richard eyed me cautiously and John held me closer as if in some attempt to calm storms that he knew would come with his next admissions?
Judith sat calmy, not saying much throughout the discussion but now voiced her own thoughts, “I think there is a lot more to all of this than you all are willing to share?” She stared at the three men for a moment then went on, staring questioningly at Richard, “You have been quiet through all of this? If Bradley is the long lost Edward and you have been with him from the beginning… then, that would make you the other lost brother?” She waited for his response with a look of impatience as it took him some time to answer her!
The men seemed on edge, debating whether to speak? Finally, Richard slowly gave his answer, “I will tell this portion, though it still brings me great disgust and anger at some others involved in it?” He paused, “And, Eleanor, you must remain calm and as John as warned you, non judging… I know your feelings on one of those directly involved in this and you must hold your own anger in check until I have finished!” The usually quiet and calm man fairly brimmed with a still burning anger that was close to the surface as he told his story.
“First of all, No I am not that lost brother… at least not in any blood relationship? Over our years together, Bradley and I have come to look upon each other as family, the only family we have?” A look from Bradley seemed to steady his nerves. Bradley stepped in, “Before you share this, we should start at the beginnings of it? It will answer many of the questions that Eleanor has filling her head, and perhaps it will give her time to sort through it before we tell her that which will set her anger?”
John and Richard looked at Bradley and nodded as he offered to tell it. He spoke grudgingly, “It is my past, my family responsible for most of it and I will tell it truthfully!” His anger and disgust was also showing through as he spoke of those past events.
Bradley told her of what had happened and who had been responsible, at least, for saving his life most probably hers as well? John filled in other details of it…
It had begun with Elizabeth Woodville, who truly was a witch- a water witch… Elizabeth had not set about to do harm but, she was as her Mother said, often lacking in self control and overly zealous in her ambitions. She used her powers without caution and caused even those closest to her to doubt and mistrust her. She used her standing over Margaret Beaufort to force Margaret’s help in arranging the betrothal. Elizabeth knew what Eleanor was, she could feel it. She feared Eleanor and deemed it better and wiser to have the child close to her. She most probably also saw the benefits of the marriage on the surface level.
There were many who knew of the “secret” and deemed no good could come of any of it. One of those was Richard, her brother in law, who was ready to be done with Elizabeth and her version of the future? He was intent on finding a way to ensure that her reign as ruler end and that her children would not inherit the throne. Another who knew of it, and also knew of Richard’s plans was Gerard DeJewel!
It came out that Richard could not stomach the thought of killing his own nephews but needed them gone? So, he had foolishly sought out the assistance of Marie DeJewel, who had no qualms about killing anyone, even innocent children? She set in motion a plot to take the boys out of the castle and replace them with two pauper boys resembling them and had those two boys killed. Her ulterior motive was then to hold the royal boys as blackmail and ransom over Richard? Her plans were thwarted by Gerard?! Gerard had some deeper shreds of decency back then and managed to take the boys from Marie, thereby holding them over her?! Yes, it was indeed a twisted mess from then on! From that point on, Gerard’s life was a constant spiral in time slips trying to keep the boys safe by what ever means he deemed necessary.
Gerard had also been instrumental in removing Eleanor from the dangers of the English wars at the time! Yes, he had made numerous grave mistakes and poor judgement back then but to his credit, he had kept more witches alive by causing them to be less open about their powers, causing them to use more caution in their practices. Had Elizabeth been allowed to continue on her path of using her powers so blatently and unwisely, many more innocents would have felt the flames of death.
At the mention of Gerard, I felt my own anger flaming to the edges of my thoughts! This man who had caused so much damage, whom I laid responsible for all of the chaos and destruction… my bitterness and resentment of him knew no bounds and I could barely think straight oh hearing his name! It took all of John’s physical and mental control to keep me in check at this point? He held me tight and whispered, “No, you must hear all of this! You must listen with an open mind as I have often reminded you!” As he held me, he spoke clearly for all to hear, “This is not easy for any of us? Do you think it is easy for Bradley to retell and relive the truth of his Mother’s and his Uncle’s actions? These are things no one should want to relive but, sometimes you must voice it openly in order to take away the power of the pain!” He nodded at Richard to go on with his portion of the story.
Richard paused, remembering that horrific time, “I was a small boy, an orphan living with my aunt who served in the castle kitchens then. One night a servant of Elizabeth came to my aunt saying they were in need of me? They offered her a rather large sum of coins and told her no harm would come to me… of course they lied, as they knew well what they thought might happen!” It took him some moments to work through the anger that still lingered from that night. “They took me to the Sanctuary and bade me do as the Queen said. While I waited there, I saw her take her own young son out the back entrance. She was gone some bit of time, and when she returned, she was wet from the ocean mist and weeping.
She told her daughter Elizabeth to clean me up and dress me well?” Richard went on, “While she was dressing me in her brother’s royal clothing she kept arguing with her Mother that this would never work? Elizabeth told her to wrap me up in layers of clothing and scarves around my face?” He still shook at the memory, “The Royal guards came then and ordered her to turn over her younger son, Richard to safe keeping with his brother.” Richard sighed, “She came into the sleeping chamber and sternly warned me to stay silent and do as told. Then she brought me out to the men and explained to them that I was quite ailing from our stay down here. Yes, perhaps it would be wise to send me to the warmth and safety of the crown?” With much disgust Richard shared, “That woman knew full well she was sending me, a poor pauper boy to a certain death! But, as I was a pauper and unimportant, she felt justified in doing it to save at least one of her boys?!”
There was a heavy silence as everyone felt Richard’s still raw pain of reliving it. He regained his control to finish, “Well, she may have saved her son, but for all of his faults, Gerard DeJewel managed to save me from death that night, and probably a worse fate had we remained in Marie’s custody! Gerard spent years keeping us safe from constant searches for us by any number of Royals either wanting our dead bodies or our living ones as pawns to take the throne for them.” Richard finally smiled and then even laughed as he pointed at John, “Gerard finally managed to place us in the “safety” of this strange creature who taught us the finer points of survival and other necessary skills such as how to hold our ale, how to win at cards, and generally how to be devilish rakes that women pretend to be fearful of!”
His mention of strange creature brought more curiosity from Judith and I, to which John was forced to explain… “I would not consider myself all that strange, but Yes I do suppose others might? I do suppose because I had a witch for a Mother and a Vampyre for a Father and have been one of very few offspring to ever come of such a pairing and survive it, Yes that puts me in a rather unique category does it not?”
Richard’s anger dimmed somewhat and he was able to smile halfheartedly at John’s attempt at levity. He shrugged and sighed, “There are times when I know not who to be more angry and disgusted at, the pathetic wretch my aunt- who sold me for a bag of coins then perished anyway shortly afterwards, or Elizabeth who knew full well what she did and held no remorse or qualms about it?” He gave a last disgusted sigh and added to the finish of the story, “I would guess that Bradley and I were actually the lucky ones in the whole situation? We had each other to rely upon, we survived and have ended up quite alright despite the circumstances… Whereas, the other brother, the other Richard may have been spared but ended up ever a pawn in Elizabeth’s games? For all we know, he is still out there as well as she might be, plotting to regain some form of power or control? That is part of our dilemma and our search…”
The tensions eased a bit in the room as everyone spent some moments lost in each their own thoughts of the past and the future?
Later, after the others had left, John continued with yet another serious discussion that he needed me to understand.
He had spent so much time over the years of my time slips watching over me, trying to protect as much as possible from afar and not interfere… He had been ordained as her watcher long ago by the higher council when she was still a small child and my true nature had been unknown. At the time they had been uncertain just what I was and the council had classed me as a mortal. The higher council had a rigid policy that they should not interfere in the lives or politics of mortals… John had never done well with that oath, nor had Gerard!
When Gerard had spirited me away to France in secracy, he had felt much the same power within me that Elizabeth had felt? He had sensed that I was not mortal but at the time, he thought that I held a rare witchly bloodline much as his own? Gerard was a rare type of witch, one of few who existed. He was a time weaver… this type of witch was rare because even other witches were wary of them? Their powers lay in the ability to use the threads of time and manipulate them, enabling them to bend the past and the future… weave a new and alternate destiny, and travel through time. Theirs was a long ancient and almost lost skill. With few left to train those who were left, they found it increasingly difficult to master their skills and not cause undue damage with it? As with any rare skill or ability, it became an unknown which others feared and distrusted. The population of witches, who should have aided in their survival, feared them so much that as a group they would willingly give up a Time Weaver to save themselves. Of coursed this caused the Time Weavers to become even more of a rare species unto themselves!
Gerard’s abilities to make use of the time slips were partially due to his time weaving skills. The other parts were sheerly due to his luck in having run across the time slip pools and openings in that much isolated area of Dragon Valley! He used them to his advantage when the times called for desperate measures.
During my years in France, Gerard had observed my own experiences with slight time slips and had some inkling of what I might be? He was by then in his own struggles to stay alive, and keep others alive- such as the boys whom he had rescued and placed with John. He was also desperately trying to keep his sister, Marie under some control… as well as his wife, Leona Woodlyon, a head strong stubborn witch who was as blatent and open about her beliefs and her practices as her relative, Elizabeth Woodville! Gerard’s life was one of constant battle to keep ancient bloodlines alive and safe in those horrifying times for them! He walked a tightrope of balancing good with what he felt necessary evils.
When he and John surmised that their suspicions of my nature were true, they both went before the council and insisted that I was not mere mortal blood and therefore merited their interventions in my life?
It was finally decided that he should provide the minimum of protection needed and stay at a distance from me until they could determine my true powers. Now, he had thrown all of the rules out and was determined to see me safe at any cost!