Elena stands in a corner of Matthew’s very crowded living room. Matthew’s desk is next to her, his papers stacked tidily on the right side of the chair. From this vantage point, she can see the whole apartment, with only the back part of the bath and bedroom obscured from her view. If someone were at the kitchen window, they could see her, but with the desk providing half cover, she’s not very concerned. Plus, the fire escape is not easy to sneak around on, with its lightly rusted iron creaking with every step. Now, if the eavesdropper could fly…
Matthew himself is sitting in the chair from his desk, which he had first offered to Elena. Upon her declining it, he turned it to face the rest of the room and sat down in it. His face is animated as he leans forward, listening to the flowing conversation.
Elga, the big, ugly ogre is sitting on the floor, on the other side of the Matthew, near the tiny kitchen. Elena has bound his wounds as best she could to prevent further bleeding, but she can tell he’s not doing too well. He is leaning against the wall, head tilted back and eyes closed. By his breathing, she knows he is either unconscious or asleep.
Conor is sitting on one of the kitchen chairs, in the entryway to the kitchen. He’s leaning back, casually surveying the room, tossing in his comments. From his vantage point, Elena knows he has a pretty decent view of the street below. Whether or not he’s actually paying attention to that, Elena has her doubts.
Jamie is sitting next to him on the other kitchen chair, next to the fridge. He’s mostly quiet. His normal air of control is strained, fragile, though Elena thinks his front is pretty good and may have distracted the others from his hidden grief and worry.
The armchair is occupied by the pretty blonde satyr, Zanna, who seems to be doing better after Matthew’s prayer. Her back is mostly toward the door, a position that Elena herself would never take. Zanna’s hand is clasping the bandage at her side, where the Erkling chica pulled out a rib, the hard way.
On the couch are Ren, Erica and Claret. Ren is curled up, almost fetal position, huddling quietly as she listens. Her black hair shades half of her face as she rests her chin on her knees. Erica has been participating eagerly in the conversation, putting in a fair amount of pretty good advice. Claret, Elena has noticed, hasn’t been saying anything either, and her eyes keep shifting around the room nervously. Midori is perched gracefully on the arm of the couch and has been paying careful attention to the conversation.
They’ve been discussing a lot of things, from what the Erlking chica has planned, and what defenses and weapons she is able to bring to bear. The current flow of conversation is revolving around how to take out the werewolves. Erica thinks she can shut down their beastform with her sound magic, but seems hesitant as to how it will affect Elena.
Elena glances over at Erica and shrugs. “I don’t usually change. And I can wear ear plugs.”
Erica’s head shakes decisively. “Your gun may not work in the Nevernever, by the way.”
“What about revolvers?”
Conor looks over at her, crystal blue eyes questioning. “Can you use a bow an’ arrow?”
“Uh, no, but you know what? …” Elena’s voice drifts off thoughtfully.
“Conor,” Erica is animated, almost bouncing on the worn couch, “we know someone who can use a bow and arrow!”
Conor nods slowly. “This is true, but I don’t think the lord Duke is going to lend her to us.”
Elena interjects, “I can probably get some help with the bow and arrow.”
“No, not Kenna…” Erica shakes her head vehemently.
Conor studies the blind girl quizzically. “Who ya talkin’ about then?”
“Nate! He owes you, right?”
“Technically, yeah,” Conor shrugs. “I’m not really holding a grudge against him, though, ya know?”
Elena is still pondering about her weaponry. “So why wouldn’t guns work in the Nevernever?”
“It has more to do with all the Magic that’s gonna be goin around,” Conor explains.
Elena listens as Conor, Jamie, Erica and Matthew explain how Elena’s guns aren’t going to work in the Nevernever. Only half her brain is paying attention to them as she considers her options.
“Physics doesn’t really work very well in the Nevernever,” she hears Erica saying. Elena turns her gaze back to Erica.
Elena raises an eyebrow skeptically. “But bows and arrows do?”
Erica nods excitedly. “They’re easier physics.”
“That’s why the elves use ’em,” replies Conor. “If you need a bow and arrow, I could probably get you one. A good one.” He pauses, then adds, “And we could probably get Kenna to teach you.”
Elena shakes her head in amusement, and smiles slightly. “No, I don’t need to ask her for a quick lesson. I think I already know someone who can give me a crash course in bows and arrows.”
The conversation completely stops and everyone looks at her in confusion.
Elena gives a short, sharp exhale of laughter, and says, “Uh, yall. My patron?”
Laughter fills the room.
“Oh right!” exclaims Conor. “She’s an Indian! That’s grand!”
There is more laughter, and Elena can see that a lot of the tension from the earlier discussion has dissipated.
Conor’s head tilts to the side as he studies Elena. “Why don’t you use a bow and arrow, anyway?”
“Because they’re bulky…” she retorts, “and guns won.” She stands up straight, no longer leaning against the wall. “Excuse me, yall. I have some prepping to do. I’ll be back in a few hours, if that’s cool?”
At all their nods of assent, Elena slips out the door, their voices following her on her way out.
Hm… This looks promising. She’s on 170 heading southwest, and has been driving for about thirty minutes. There is a little traffic, but it’s pretty light, considering the weekday, and time. She pulls on to the shoulder and puts the car in park, and looks at the broad empty pasture to the horizon. The grass is still green from all the recent rains, and the heat hasn’t beaten it to its normal gold. To her south, she knows there’s a huge housing development – Keller has been a booming population, as with all of Fort Worth. Even with that, though, Texas is a great place for empty spaces once you get just outside the city.
Elena gets out of her car and with an easy motion, slips between the barbed wire. She follows the tree line that naturally develops along barbed wire fences so that she won’t be as immediately visible to the road, and walks until the crest of the sloping hill hides the road. There, she walks out into the pasture. She can see some cattle grazing some fifty yards away, but they take no notice of her. Once she’s in the center of the pasture, Elena sits gracefully in the tall grass and closes her eyes.
In mere moments, between breaths, Elena feels a shift. Suddenly it’s much hotter, and much drier. With a slight smile, she opens her eyes.
She looks around quickly, noting that she’s just outside a building built of some kind of red adobe bricks. She’s not completely surprised, but still somewhat disconcerted. What really throws her off, though, is in the center of the doorway, looking out over a large expanse of red sand and scrub brush, an older native woman is meticulously grooming her daughter’s hair, carefully pinning and wrapping one side in an elaborate bun of some sort. Elena watches curiously, not saying anything.
Very little time passes, when Elena notices movement in the distance. As she watches, Elena is aware that men are moving quickly and quietly from one brush to another. Suddenly, the girl leaps to her feet, and her mother drops the brush, startled. With a quick movement, the girl darts into the building and emerges holding a bow and a quiver full of arrows. Her hair is only half completed, one side in the tidy bun, and the other side flowing down her back.
The girl takes off on a dead run toward the village not far from her house, shouting the whole time. People begin emerging from doorways, mostly women, but a few pre-teen boys and girls, all clutching bows, spears or knives. The girl positions herself between the village and the attackers, and begins expertly shooting her bow at their enemy. When they realize they’ve been spotted, some duck for cover, but many of the men charge. All the while the girl calmly stands her ground, every arrow finding its mark. Soon, the girl is joined by other women and older children from the village, who have taken up arms as well.
From one breath to the next, the scene changes. Elena is again in her north Texas pasture, the tall grass swaying gently around her. Standing in front of her is a very tall Kachina. Slowly the image shifts, and it’s the girl, her long black hair still only half-done. Elena stands slowly, and nods her head in respect.
I wanted you to see why we fight. Her voice is quiet, no longer the powerful shout for defense, and yet it still pierces Elena to the soul.
“Yeah. I haven’t forgotten,” Elena replies, keeping her tone respectful. “Thanks for showing me.”
You summoned me. To what purpose?
“You know that our families have been taken from us?”
The girl nods somberly, her black eyes serious and face still.
“There will be battle when we go to rescue them. I am told I need a bow and arrow to be able to fight,” Elena explains. “I’d like you to teach me.”
I have been wondering when you would ask this of me. The girl’s lips curl in a ferocious grin, not dissimilar to that of her absent puma companion.This I will gladly do.
Elena walks into Cabela’s purposefully, and stalks over to the bow hunting area. A young man with a Cabela’s tag and the name Jimmy stamped on it spies her and asks, “Hi! Can I help you?”