Today in the News

March 27th, 2018

–Excerpt from a brief interview with acclaimed local authoress, Aurora Lynne Skye–

Dateline: Shadow Valley 25 Teborarius, 2139

Jones: Well, you are certainly looking better than the last time we spoke, Miss Skye.

Skye: Oh, please, Selby, call me Aurora. Everyone else does.  But to answer your question, yup, I’m finally fully recovered, thank the Gods.

But the reason no one has heard anything of late from me was the fact that–much against my work ethic– the Boss insisted that I take a vacation for a month as of the turn of the year. And that put me so far behind that I know now that… (shrugs helplessly) it just isn’t going to happen this year.

Jones (interrupting with a gasp): you mean to say… you won’t be able to…!

Skye: Nope. Not this year. And she knows it too.  But more importantly, she has accepted the idea that it will be another year before it sees print. In fact, she says that she is personally going to take a hand in the editing process for this one. After all, I suspect that even with her help it will likely take a year to edit it, given that it is over 1540 pages at this point, and the story isn’t quite done yet.

Jones: Is she serious?! Doesn’t she have a new baby to take care of too?

Skye: I asked her the same question, and she simply smiled and said, “That’s why Annette is working for us, Aurora, my dear. But if you are tired, then you should rest, of course.”

Jones: wow… but I thought she would have more than enough to occupy her attention with her art, her own writing, and the mushrooms… not to mention her charitable donations…!

Skye: I brought up all those points, and, she grinned and said that she had plenty of ideas, and two sets of eyes might make the editing go more quickly. (shakes her head wryly) I’m just glad she only volunteered to do it herself, and didn’t suggest it as a family activity.

But still, I should  probably get going, after all, there was a few other errands I was planning to run today, besides my conversation with you and your readers. … Oh yeah, (snaps fingers) I just remembered, she authorized me to give a small preview today…

Jones: I was wondering if she would do that since there is going to be such a delay… (sighs) I wish it was going to be sooner, but at least we’ll have the previews to tide us over for now…

Preview begins—

Chapter 3: On Site At Last

On Friday morning, the final checks on the loads were in place, and last minute consultations of the weather and road condition maps had been made by eleven-thirty. And so, since the results were favorable, their little caravan had finally headed out to the site at last.

As they had arrived, Joanna saw that several of the smaller pavillions were already set up all around the thatched roofs of the medieval style village that occupied the site year round, most notably many of the colorful sales pavillions on the Row, and the combat field markers, and she knew that she would have a lot to do to get caught up.

But she knew too that the bulk of her team were coming in their own vehicles, so they would arrive as close to the agreed upon hour as possible for them. Though traffic was something that she would have to keep in mind, Joanna knew.

Though at the same time, she was glad to know that her spot was still open for her to use. But she knew they still had to get the ‘Beast’ set up, and the merchandise actually set out if they were going to have a chance to win the subtle competition; they had enough lines of merchandise this time, she was sure.

However, many of the businesses that she had hoped would be there appeared to have already arrived, she could see from the air as they settled into their preferred spot.

They made the first trip without a hitch, arriving on the site about forty-five minutes after they’d departed from their various starting points, and had their main camp site marked out by Harland and the walls and main living pavillions—as well as the main body of the dorm pavillion—set up within about another two and a half hours with everyone lending a hand to get it all done as quickly as possible before the drivers headed out for the second load of the day.

And by then, the team that was slated to begin assembling the parts of ‘the Beast’ had arrived and begun tackling their job—literally in this instance, in that the corner poles had to be roped into position within the framework of the cloth that was the roof of the pavilion as they fought to get the roof up. Then they had to tie the poles to the ground to keep them in place.

By the time the roof was up on the framework of the corner poles, Amelia and Raven had headed back to Shadow Valley for the next load, which was mostly more merchanting gear and finished product to be sold over the run of the event.

Joanna knew that the staff wasn’t going to arrive until the last load, so she had time to get the walls put on the dorm pavillion with the help of several of the people who were already there.

And while they did that section of the job, Joanna was left onsite with several others to organize the main body of their encampment and get the first work team organized to erect the work pavillion; a job she managed with her usual flair, despite the abrupt challenge that developed while she was working in the camp.

She knew that there were other jobs that needed doing, but she wasn’t privy to them; the disposition of the security team in particular. Joanna only knew about them even being onsite already because Marcelyn had told her they would be already last night, though she hadn’t given out where they would be.

And Joanna knew that it was possible that even Marcy didn’t know for certain where they would be other than close to where the College would be.

This wasn’t the same Marci as worked in the office on campus; Marcelyn was one of the local vampyres, and Marci was one of Joanna’s mortal friends. Marci was not onsite, but Joanna knew that it was likely that Marcelyn was, though Joanna knew that she would only see her friend if things were going terribly wrong.

Marcelyn had frequently acted as bodyguard for Joanna when Joanna was younger, and of late, there had been times that she had acted as a decoy for Joanna. But Joanna hoped that it wouldn’t be needed to use that here, though she knew that only time would tell. And she wondered if she would need any of the help Marcelyn had offered last night.

She knew that she had several people available to help with the main camp, not to mention Drew and the others who had arrived to help with the big part of the job; they were already busy erecting the work pavillion after they finished setting up the dorm pavillion, while she and the rest of the group in camp at that minute organized the rest of the camp, setting up the outdoor kitchen, putting together the rope-beds and putting each person’s belongings into the pavillion they belonged in, once the sleeping pavillions were set up.

But she knew that she might need still more help, so she kept Marcy’s offer in mind; knowing that Mr. Nateman likely wouldn’t object to one or two of the group being obvious about helping get the camp set up this time. After all, it would help foster the image of the protective detail as being visible.

The first thing she did after directing the main work crew, of course, was to separate the pile of belongings by whose they were. And once the pavillions were up, she had had each pile of belongings moved into the matching pavillion with a little bit of help from some of the others who were lurking around the camp doing various little tasks, and one of the more burly of the security guys who had asked her a few minutes before if she needed help when he passed by on his patrol sweep.

Many of the other piles had been moved as the pavillion they went into was put up at last, and Joanna knew that soon she would have to move the last of them into the pavillion that was going up as she watched, directing those who were pulling the center pole into place.

She had deliberately left her own and Corri’s belongings for last, mostly because she wasn’t certain if she should set up her sister’s pavillion after all. Deciding against it for now, Joanna set herself and her crew to moving furniture as soon as their pavillion was up at last.

She had set up her rope bed and her sister’s after hanging the privacy divider in their pavillion and laying out the rugs they usually used to act as the floor of their pavillion and brought in the rest of their furniture with the help of two of the strongest of the volunteers; specifically the two armoires, their personal potted plants, and the clothes presses. Then she rested for a few seconds on the edge of her bed, feeling a bit light headed, and knowing that if she stayed on her feet too much longer, she would collapse.

And unfortunately, no one who was there right now knew what to do to revive her, Joanna knew. If she allowed herself to drop now, she would end up unconscious until someone found her and brought her to the chiurgeons, or worse, until Amelia/Genevive got back to the site. Joanna didn’t want that to happen.  And she knew that she would have to rest for a while if she was going to be able to get back to work on the dozens of jobs that still needed to be attended to.

But after a brief rest, she began to feel better, and she knew that she would have to get up soon if she was going to get that drink that she needed. As the feeling began to pass, she realized that she needed to get something to drink, and maybe something small to eat too.

And then, after a small pause to get something to drink and to change her clothes to something more suitable to being onsite—feeling as though she was also putting on her persona at the same time as she changed to the outfit she had chosen—Joanna/Fiona had quickly set up Corri’s, Raven’s and Amelia’s beds for them.

A few minutes later, she had Drew—known onsite as Lord Corey—help her with setting up the pole which housed their household banner for the run of the event, smiling wearily when the light breeze began to snap the long cloudweave pennant out smartly.

None of those projects took her and Drew more than about half an hour each, and she knew the others would appreciate having their beds—and most of the rest of the camp, for that matter—at least mostly set up for them when they got back. It would be one less thing they would have to do, Joanna knew.

But she knew that she was getting tired. After all, she had gotten up very early this morning to get ready to go, and now it was almost midmorning, and she knew that she was going to need to get something to eat soon too.

Then, she spent a few minutes arranging her belongings on her side of the pavillion she was sharing with Corri for the run of this event. She thought about what she wanted the kitchen area to look like while she was doing that, finishing by setting up a folding nightstand beside her bed so that she could set little things like her cellphone and her hairbrush on it where Holly would be able to reach it easily in the morning.

And Fiona knew that she wanted to see if the comb maker was onsite for this one, though she knew that she would need to send someone to see if the broom squire was open for business as yet; she knew that she would soon need to have a broom for the shop while she was working on getting everything else dealt with.

After dealing with stringing the beds and arranging her side of their shared pavillion to her satisfaction, arranging the camp’s open air kitchen and dining area from the pieces that were already set up was the work of only about ten minutes, because by then David, Mike and Cordi were there, along with many of the others who had said earlier in the week that they would be onsite for this event.

And most all of them were helping with several of the smaller jobs that were important that Fiona hadn’t been able to get to as yet.

And at least David and Mike were willing and able to help with putting the heavier items where she needed them to go, though they had been quick to put their armor and weapons into their pavillions before putting their backs into helping her. At the same time, she knew that Daffyd and Mikhail would be dressed properly when they came out again, so it didn’t matter to her if she took a little break by then.

Cordi had gone into their pavillion within a few minutes of arriving, presumably to change her clothes and to put her hair up in a somewhat more comfortable fashion—not to mention wiping her face clear of her tears, Fiona suspected—and Fiona knew that Daffyd would be fine with helping her set up the kitchen.

But a few minutes in—they had been setting the coolers in the shade of the kitchen—he apparently had stepped away for a few minutes and he hadn’t returned by the time she was working on getting the mini-Feaste set up by herself—or at least as far as she could without Tamea, Carrie and Mercy to help carry dishes, and they weren’t going to be available for quite a while yet, she knew.

And she spent part of that time assembling three trays of thick sandwiches for those who were working on the work pavillion, knowing that they would be getting hungry too.

There were many people in and about the encampment already, but they were all busy at various other needed tasks to have the camp up and running by the time the rest of their group of people began to arrive to enjoy the event later that afternoon.

And she was relatively sure that Daffyd—like Drew/Corey had been before him– had been called away to help with the Beast as he had been returning from the privy, which had been his stated destination when he had stepped out of camp.

After all, she knew the breeze was beginning to cause a little bit more trouble for the team setting up the large pavillions than it had while they had been getting the dormitory pavillion up about an hour before.

Her place was in the kitchen for right now, Fiona knew as she hummed to herself as she worked, at least for right now. There were still several dishes for tonight’s mini-Feaste to be prepared, she knew, and getting everything laid out the way she wanted it would take her the rest of the afternoon, if she was working without help.

And she expected to have to do just that, at least until Tamea and Mercy got there later that afternoon; Corri wasn’t out of the pavillion yet. And Amelia, Amanda and Raven weren’t back from their second run into Shadow Valley yet.

However, she was sure that even Drew/Corey was busy elsewhere in camp, setting up his camp the way he wanted it for the next ten days, unless he was still busy fighting with setting up the main work pavillion. And she knew that she would only be able to find that out when she went to deliver the trays of sandwiches.

Fiona paused for a few seconds to get another swallow of her drink, hoping that Amelia would get back soon, though the ‘Beast’ was still under construction.

She knew that Amelia and Raven had only had a little bit of breakfast that morning before they had dove into loading the ‘car for the first run to the site. And that meant that they would likely stop for something to eat while they were at home, unless they both decided that they would wait until they were able to get back to eat some of the food that was available there.

But Fiona also hoped they recalled that she had requested that they bring some of the large bottles of homemade soda with them when they got back. After all, there wasn’t really much onsite as yet, and she knew that the bubbles in the soda helped some of their campmates wake up better than kenaia in the mornings, though it generally didn’t do that for herself.

They had had the stuff for the second load ready to go before they had climbed in, but Fiona knew that they would be getting hungry soon. And, in case her sister and their lover got back sooner than Joanna was expecting them to be able to, she wanted to be sure that there was stuff available for lunch to be made quickly and eaten on the spot.

But she hadn’t heard anything from the team she had put to work setting the ‘Beast’ up for the past few minutes; she thought maybe it was already up and those who had been working on it had dispersed to attend to other tasks around their encampment. And she wondered if she should see about taking one or more of the platters of sandwiches to them.

So, she grabbed two of the heavy trays and headed to where the construction crew was still struggling with the last of the guy ropes on the sides of the pavillion. By the time she got there, the last rope was tied off at last, and someone quipped, “Oh, perfect timing, Your Grace!” as they elbowed another person in their group to get their attention.

And someone else in that group turned to look at what she was carrying, and said, “Looks like it’s break time, guys!” as Fiona stood patiently while they cleared her first tray of thick goldbird sandwiches and the second one of smokemeat sandwiches, in only a few seconds.

Some had taken one of each, and she knew that meant that she was going to have to make more if she expected everyone to be well fed enough to be able to get the walls up as soon as she hoped they would. “Okay.” she said after clearing her throat, and she gave a grin as she realized that she had their undivided attention in that instant.

“What I need to know is two things, really. One, how many more sandwiches do we need out here to make sure everybody gets two? And Two, how long do you guys think getting the walls up will take?” Fiona said.

Everyone was soon happily chewing on their first sandwiches, and only five raised their hands to indicate that they could use a second one as she ran a quick count to see who needed which kind. And the spokesman for the group—a short man of Eirean Elven descent by the name of Sean—piped up, “We should be hangin’ th’ walls within only a few minutes, at least after we’re done eating, Your Grace.

But, all the same, we thank ye for the food, m’Lady of the silver platters.” as he bowed with the remains of his first sandwich in one hand, his plumed hat doffed and in the other as he did. And she knew he was one of the ones who had asked for seconds. His mid-calf high boots had seen some heavy use recently, she noticed as the feather tips swept past his toes, but he had pretty manners, for someone she knew worked six days out of each sevenday on a construction crew mundanely.

She glanced at them and said, “Why, so they are. I hadn’t noticed until you mentioned it.” as she chuckled.

And in that instant, she noticed that he was rather splendidly garbed for someone who likely had been almost press-ganged into helping with their pavillion; a sirivium trimmed doublet over a dark golden tunic and matching slashed breeches that showed fine woven green cloth as the liner.

“Sean, m’darlin’, where do you find your cloth, you fiend?” Fiona asked archly, as Sean replied with a saucy grin, “Me Mam. As if ye dinnae know that well already, love!” he added under his breath. “She weaves well, does she not?” Sean added innocently as he grinned wickedly at her, and turned to display his finery.

“Beautifully, as you well know!” Fiona agreed, then she continued, “Will you be at the Feaste tonight?” finding herself falling into the rhythm of his speech patterns almost effortlessly, to his obvious delight as he grinned wickedly at her again.

Now I’d b’lieve ye came down from the Highlands, m’lass. I dinnae b’lieve ye afore this moment!” Sean laughed, and Fiona joined him, as did many of those who were gathered around the pair of them where they stood talking while those who had been working on the pavillion ate.

“Aye, I’ll be there,” he said, as he swept her into his arms and whispered into her ear, “an’ in yer bed too, if ye but give the word, your Grace.”

And she whispered in reply, “Consider the word given, laddie.” as he kissed the curve of her ear playfully, and she giggled in his arms. He chuckled in reply and released her, saying softly, “Aye, m’Lady. An’ I do!”

“Well, I should get back to the kitchen, an’ bring the rest of the sandwiches.” she added in a more conversational tone designed to carry to the rest of the work team. “But you, m’lad, you should be more careful… lest ye catch the eye of the Lady of the House, an’ she gobble ye up, like the tasty tidbit ye so clearly are!” Fiona said, grinning lewdly at him for a few seconds as he chuckled in reply.

“I thank ye, m’Lady, an’ I’ll take th’ warnin’ to me hearts. But yes, if I be welcome, the invitation to the Feaste is right welcome to me. ‘Tis tonight, am I right?’ Sean replied.

And Fiona nodded, saying, “Aye, that it is, m’lad.” as she stacked the platters one atop the other to carry them back to the kitchen where she had a few more sandwiches to make. She added over her shoulder as she turned to head back, “I’ll be right back with the rest of ‘em.” and chuckles met her statement as she headed back into the depths of the main camp once more.

A few minutes later, she had finished building the next round of sandwiches, and delivered them, saying that she had to get back to the prep for the feaste for that night or she would stay and help them more. And as she headed back to the kitchen, she heard Sean say, “You heard the Lady, let’s get the walls up on this monster, so she has a place to work this weekend.” to the accompaniment of a round of laughter as Fiona chuckled herself.

And soon, she was alone in the kitchen once more, picking up where she had left off on the prep for the meal she was setting out. And she knew that she only had about half of the dishes set out that she wanted to get done with.

However, that was okay with her for right now. Fiona knew that she was used to doing this part without much in the way of help. She sometimes thought she worked faster at this alone anyway. But she knew that she would have to answer Sean’s subtle request soon, even if it wasn’t at this event.

After all, alone, she didn’t have to stop and explain how she wanted something done; she simply did it, and left it at that. It was then that she thought she noticed that something seemed to be missing from what was being set out, but she couldn’t pin down what it could be.

It seemed like it was something to do with the food… she thought, shaking her head and pursing her lips for a few seconds as she tried to work out what it could be. But it eluded her, and Fiona knew that she would have to give up on figuring it out for the moment if she wanted to remember what it could be.

But at the same time, Fiona knew that she would have welcomed someone to at least talk to while she worked, she decided a few minutes later as she got the main layout of the kitchen area set up at last.

And she knew that soon she was going to need the trestle tables set up if she was going to begin getting the Feaste dishes set out before the sun set tonight.

As she worked on slicing vegetables for a quick lunch for the other work crew to make into sandwiches, Drew walked into the main camp so quietly that she didn’t hear him approaching, and he managed to succeed in startling her as the knife came down harder than she had intended, narrowly missing cutting her hand badly.

He’d gently laid one hand on her right shoulder, and the other on the left side of her waist as he had whispered into her ear, “Let me help you with that, m’Lady Fiona…” and she squealed and jumped almost out of her skin.

“Corey!” she exclaimed, the hand she had almost cut moving as though to cover her  ample cleavage as she dropped the knife she’d held onto the table top. Then, with a fluttering sigh, she crumpled into his arms, her eyes rolling shut and her body going limp as she did. “Oh sh*t!” he exclaimed as he reached to catch her as she fell.

And, as his arms fully supported her weight, she opened her eyes and grinned impishly as she kissed him. At first, he was surprised, stiffening as he had kept her from falling completely to the ground, then he began to respond to her kiss.

But, he was still the first one to need to breathe. And, as their lips parted, she whispered, “Serves you right for sneaking up on me, m’Lord Corey,” as he set her on her feet again.

Then, she giggled at the look of surprise on his face. “You said something about wanting to help with the food a little bit ago…” she added in a more normal voice as he set her gently on her feet once more after kissing her again.

He nodded, then said, “M’Lady, I’d help you with anything. Where do you need me now? I am but your humble servant.” he added with a sweeping bow, and then he chuckled wickedly, knowing that he would rather be tumbling her into his bed right now, but she was right; they did have a lot to get done before Amelia and Raven returned. But there was time over the course of the event, he knew.

Fiona laughed and said, “The tables still need to be set up if we’re going to be using them later this afternoon…” gesturing to the cream colored wood that had been cut into easy-to-assemble trestle tables with a mallet and big bag of wooden dowels set on top of them as Drew nodded in agreement.

He stepped over and examined the mallet that had been set on top of the bag for a few seconds, and said, “Hang on a minute, sweetheart. I think I would rather use mine for this job.” Fiona looked at him quizzically from where she was chopping vegetables for one of the trays, as he added, “There is a fraying edge on yours that I will have to rasp out for you before the end of the event.”

Preview ends—

Jones: Wow. I didn’t know that Marcy MacIlroy from the Shadow Valley Reader was a member of the historical club you mention, Aurora… Guess I’ll have to get her side of the discussion in question.

Skye: Well, she did say she had belonged to the club for many years. (spreads her hands demurely, as though to deny responsibility) I simply took her at her word.

Jones: Well, after that, I suppose I should let you get back to running your errands. Hopefully you will be able to keep us updated as to your progress.

Skye: I certainly hope to, but if she sends me on another trip, expect gaps. (Laughs as she stands, and Jones looks worried) But you’re quite right, I really do need to get going. Hopefully, I will get to see you next week, Selby.

Jones(smiles to hide the worry she still feels): See you then, Aurora.

Jones (mutters as Skye walks offstage and into the wings again): I still think she works too hard…

—Tape ends—

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