As Miles left the car rental agency with Kevin, he suggested a quick shopping trip as he wished to get a small gift for Amanda. Kevin hesitantly agreed.
"Alright but we better not spend too much time. I'm sure the women will have been greatly distressed with this morning's incident."
"Oh, Kevin, of course! I should have thought of that. Having a mother and wife to worry about me is still quite new and Sarah wasn't tuning in to her faeryfolke senses for so long. I should have known they'd be distressed. I guess I was too overcome myself to receive their feelings then."
"Most likely. I'm sure they know you are okay now and are probably on their way to the Dining Hall with Daniel and Geoff for the midday meal. They will have a lot of questions though."
"Speaking of meals, I sure could use something to eat!" said Miles.
With that the two friends went to a deli to pick up a couple of sandwiches and some fruit to eat on their trek back to the settlement in the Whimsical Woods. Kevin was not used to being in the Outer World and the incident at the house had been quite draining as well. He needed to return to the Woods.
As they walked, Miles broached the subject foremost on their minds.
"Kevin, have you any ideas as to what it is about the house that's causing the negative energy?"
"Maybe," Kevin said. "I need to ask Daniel and Sarah questions about the house. It does remind me of something I read about in my sudy of faeryfolke history but I really need more information."
"Faeryfolke history? But that's a human house!"
"I know," agreed Kevin. "Right now it doesn't make a lot of sense. After talking with Daniel and Sarah, I think I'll asked advice from Alden. He is the most knowledgeable of the Learned Members on the Council. My Uncle Hugh might be of help too. He is much younger than Alden but has a very bright mind."
"I'm sure the two of them will be very helpful. Is there anything I can help with?"asked Miles.
"I'll ask you some of the questions I plan to ask Daniel and Sarah. While you were in the house, did you go into every room? Not all at the same time but at some point?"
"No, I was at some time in most rooms. Some only to help with redecorating. And the basement. I did take seasonal things up and down for Sarah. We cleaned out a bit of space there. You think there may be a key to this in one of the rooms?"asked Miles.
"It's a possibility. You said most. What about the other rooms? the attic?" asked Kevin.
"The only real room I was never really in was the front bedroom. Sarah said that she'd entered it once and thought it had been Zelda's and decided to leave it alone. We thought of putting some things in the attic once and were going to but the door was stuck shut. We meant to force it open sometime but never got around to it."
"And Zelda lived there alone until she took Sarah and moved to Metropolis?"asked Kevin.
"I'm not sure. We never visited that house growing up. Our visits with Zelda were infrequent and usually at a park or restaurant although Mother and Father did occasionally invite her to our home. I never liked the woman and always kept my distance.
Somehow she was able to get to Sarah though. Sarah Sweet trusted everyone,"Miles said using Sarah's childhood nickname.
They had reached the path to Kevin's door.
"Care to tell me what you think it might be?" asked Miles.
"Not yet,"replied Kevin.
The front door of the house opened and Miles and Kevin were swarmed by their caring family.
Once everyone was assured that Miles was alright, Daniel made a suggestion.
"Miles, we left the wagon at your cottage. Why don't you and Amanda go there now and sort and restore things and we'll meet you in the Dining Hall for the evening meal."
Miles looked at his wife who was still hanging on to him so tightly as if she were afraid of losing him. He bent and whispered in her ear, "the brass bed". Amanda blushed but smiled up at him.
Aloud he said, "That sounds like a good plan to me, Father. We'll see everyone then."
The young couple hurried off to their cottage where Miles planned to miniaturize and move the bed that was part of the cottage furnishings and put Amanda's wonderful brass bed in it's place and of course they would need to make sure it was all okay.
Back at Sarah and Kevin's, Geoff asked if he could go play with some new friends he had made in the settlement and his parents gave their okay. He, too, would meet up with them later at the Dining Hall.
Sarah made some tea for the remaining adults. She was worried that Kevin seemed so drained and made him a special restorative herbal tea. Kevin came into the kitchenette having told the others he was going to aid Sarah but he really just wanted a moment alone with his wife. Sarah had felt him enter and turned to give him a hug. Kevin returned the hug and added a gentle kiss.
"Are you alright?" Sarah asked her obviously tired husband.
"I am somewhat drained but feeling better by the minute. I'd forgotten how much going into the Outer World can take from me."
"I felt you giving positive energy to Miles too, Kevin. That was probably a greater factor in your fatigue than visiting Woodtown,"said Sarah.
"True," agreed Kevin. "I'm just so thankful it worked."
"Yes. What happened to him there?" asked Sarah.
"I'll help you carry in the tea. We'll all talk as I'm sure your parents are anxious to hear too and I've some things I'd like to ask you and Daniel," replied Kevin.
"Good idea,"said Sarah. Kevin picked up the tray to carry to the sitting room.
As soon as everyone was settled, Kevin started.
"I know you were all very worried today about Miles. As we approached the house I had felt a negative energy field. I would have preferred that none of us entered the house but as Miles said, he'd been in the house many times over many years and had even lived there recently. He went in to check for phone messages and emails while Daniel, Geoff and I went to the garage which is quite separate from the house to unload things from the rental car. Margaret, Daniel told us that you had felt something when you went to the house."
"Yes," said Margaret. "But it was so many years ago that it had slipped my mind until this morning after we'd felt Miles distress. I told the others about it."
"Susannah, did you feel anything yesterday when you arrived from Watertown?"asked Kevin.
"No. As Amanda explained earlier to Sarah and Margaret, we never actually went close to the house,"responded Susannah.
"Ok. Just trying to get as much information as possible. To continue, after checking for messages Miles thought he was feeling something this time in the house. He decided to do a Mind Clearing and open himself to the aura. He made himself completely vulnerable."
"Oh!" gasped Margaret. "That's so dangerous!"
"He realizes that completely now and has promised to be more cautious in the future," said Kevin.
"But what is causing the aura? And why weren't Miles and Sarah and Geoff affected before?" asked Daniel.
"I have some ideas but that's all they are. Right now I've more questions to ask."
"Daniel and Sarah, I'd like to ask you some of the same questions I asked Miles."
"Alright," said Daniel.
"Sure, Kevin," said Sarah.
"Sarah, had you ever been to the house with Zelda?"
"No. I actually didn't even know of the house until after Zelda died. Her lawyer told me I had inherited it and that it had been my grandparents home. Since I grew up in Woodtown, I liked the idea of returning there. I would have preferred the house I grew up in but I found out that Zelda had sold it."
"I gave her control over virtually everything," said Daniel.
"Miles said you couldn't access the attic and that he had never been in 1 of the bedrooms. Sarah did you go into each of the rooms and/or attic?" asked Kevin.
"I was never in the attic. Miles and I were going to get that door unstuck some time but never got around to it. I was in all other rooms at some point though. The one bedroom I avoided. I think it was Zelda's and I felt like an intruder the only time I went in there," said Sarah.
"Which bedroom was it, Sarah?" asked Daniel.
"The one at the front of the house," replied Sarah.
"You're right. That was Zelda's room. I was never in it. Her door was always closed ... and locked if she was not in there. Mother had the back bedroom and Father and I had the two smaller ones that were between," explained Daniel.
"Daniel, were you ever in the attic?" asked Kevin.
"I think I was when I was young. But that attic door got stuck when I was about ten I think. That's over fifty years ago," answered Daniel.
"I know this may not be easy to recall, but did you notice any changes around the time the attic door got stuck shut?" asked Kevin.
"Actually, it was not long after my father died. I think it was about the same time that Mother became an invalid and stayed in her room all the time. Zelda took care of her but hired a woman, Mrs. Hoamacher, to cook and clean," said Daniel.
"Sarah, was all the furniture in place when you got the house?" asked Kevin.
"Yes, it was but it had all been covered with cloths," She asked.
"Do you think it might have been there from the time Daniel lived there?"he asked.
"Possibly. Most was good solid wood furniture. The stove and refrigerator were not that old though," she replied.
"So nothing was taken to Metropolis?"he inquired.
"No furniture but some dishes, towels, bedding. Zelda had arranged for a furnished apartment. Why, Kevin?" asked Sarah.
"I'm not really sure, Sarah, but I think how much things stayed the same might aid us. Which bedroom did you take, Sarah, and was there anything in it besides the furniture?"Kevin continued asking questions.
"I took the back one so I could look out at the garden. There was just the empty furniture, carpet and drapes. Actually I think that's why I felt an intruder in the front bedroom. It still looked lived in. There were pictures on the wall and things sitting on the desk and dresser. I barely steeped into the room and then stepped out again leaving it exactly as I'd found it," said Sarah.
"Just one more Sarah. Did you make changes over the last nine years?" asked Kevin.
"Some. With Miles help, we painted and wallpapered. I replaced the kitchen appliances, mattresses and sofa. I added a recliner and TV and stereo .... and a desk and computer. Other than that just normal household everyday changes .... some pictures and bric-a-brac and books," Sarah answered.
"Kevin, are you going to tell us what you think now?" asked Daniel.
"As I told Miles earlier to the same question - not yet. Tonight after the evening meal we'll discuss it more. I think we need to include Geoff too. He may have something to add. But for now, I'm still really drained from this morning and would like to rest before the evening meal," said Kevin.
"Oh my," said Susannah. "Daniel and Margaret can you show me the Emporium here? I need to look for raw materials. I did promise Amanda a dress to try on and approve by this evening."
"That's right!" said Margaret. "Daniel and I would be happy to show you around. See you at the evening meal, Sarah and Kevin."
After some quick good bye hugs, the three left. Kevin closed the door and turned to his wife and gathered her into a hug and whispered in her ear, "We're alone!"
After the evening meal, everyone had gathered at Kevin and Sarah's once again. Susannah had drop off a parcel containing the gown at Sarah's on her way to the Dining Hall. The women were all in Sarah's bedroom as Amanda tried on her gown.
"Oh Mama!," exclaimed Amanda as she looked in Sarah's big mirror. "It's just as you described and absolutely perfect!"
"It certainly is!" said Sarah.
"You did a wonderful job, Susannah," added Margaret.
"One custom we've adopted from the Outer World is not letting the man see his pledge-partner's gown in advance, so Mother and I will go keep the men occupied while Susannah helps you change back to your other clothes, Amanda,"said Sarah as she and her mother left the room.
"You look so beautiful, Amanda," Susannah told her daughter.
"Thank you, Mama," Amanda said as she hugged her mother. "I guess we'd best hurry and get out to the others."
"Yes," agreed Susannah.
In no time at all everyone was gathered in the sitting room. Kevin got things started by squatting in front of the chair Geoff sat in and taking Geoff's hands.
"Geoff, we've been discussing the house in Woodtown. Your grandfather, mother and Miles have told me about the house from their experiences. I'd like to know if you'd ever noticed or felt anything there and if you ever went into the attic or the front bedroom," explained Kevin.
"I tried to get in the attic lots of times but never got the door open. I went in to the bedroom a few of times. Once I was doing some homework and my pencil broke so I thought I'd try the desk in there but all the drawers were locked," Geoff told his father. "Dad?"
"What, Geoff?" Kevin asked.
"Is there something really bad in the house? Did it hurt Uncle Miles? Why today? Uncle Miles was in there okay other days."
"I think that there may be something bad in the house but I also think they are shields that blunt the effect. I'm just guessing but I think some of those things might be, in your case, youth, stress or having the mind very filled and even having some human in your make up. As to what happened today with Miles ..."
"I'll answer that one Geoff," interrupted Miles. "I had thought I felt something and decided I wanted to know more. I let curiosity overcome good sense. I did a Mind Clearing which you will learn about in your Faeryfolke Classes in time. It was very unwise. I let all my shields go and the negative forces filled me. I was very lucky I had a good friend close by to help me." Miles smiled at Kevin.
"What do you think it is Kevin? And what do we do next?" asked Daniel.
"I studied Faeryfolke history a number of years ago. This reminded me of something I came across but I don't recall all the details. I want to consult a couple of the Learned Members of the Council. I sent messages to Alden and Hugh briefly outlining what happened today and asking to see them tomorrow."
"It's been a rather draining day and I'm quite tired," said Susannah. "I think I'll head back to my quarters. Let me know how things turn out Kevin."
"We were about to go as well," said Margaret as she and Daniel rose from the sofa. "Let us know too, Kevin."
"I'll keep you all informed. Alden and Hugh may wish to meet with everyone and ask questions of their own."
"Geoff, I think it's time for you to say good night too. You've some classes to attend in the morning,"said Sarah.
The older family members soon were off to their respective homes and the youngest to his bedroom. Amanda and Miles stayed for a little longer mainly discussing their upcoming Pledging ceremony with Sarah and Kevin. When Miles and Amanda went to leave, Kevin took Miles to one side and told him that he had asked that Miles be allowed to attend the meeting with Alden and Hugh.
"Thank you, Kevin. I really am anxious to get some answers," responded Miles.
The next morning before leaving for the Dining Hall, Kevin received a message that Alden and Hugh would meet with him and Miles in the Council Library after the morning meal. He had let Miles know at breakfast and the two were on their way to the Council Building.
"Miles, did you ever read about Resonating Crystals?" Kevin asked his friend.
"A little. Is that what you think this is?" asked Miles.
"I think it may be," answered Kevin.
"But how? In a house without faeryfolke?" asked Miles.
"That has me stumped too," said Kevin.
Upon entering the Council Building, Miles and Kevin were informed that Alden and Hugh were all ready waiting for them in the Library. When they entered the Libary with it's walls full of books on things pertinent to faeryfolke, they found Alden positioned in a special lounge chair at one side of a conference table and Hugh sitting at the table.
Alden was the oldest person in the Settlement and no one was quite sure how old that was. His body had become frail but his intellect was still sharp and he was the most knowledgeable in the settlement on many things in faeryfolke history. Hugh was of an age with Miles' parents and had known Margaret since childhood. They had been very good friends and he'd been so pleased to have his nephew marry her daughter. As teens, Hugh had hoped their friendship might blossom into more but it had not happened. Margaret had found ler life-mate in Daniel and Hugh devoted himself to studying and Council activities.
After greetings were exchanged, everyone gathered around the conference table and Kevin, with help from Miles, informed Hugh and Alden of all they knew.
"Have you drawn no conclusions, Kevin?" Hugh asked.
"It did remind me of what I'd read years ago about Resonating Crystals but I don't remember all the details about them or understand how one could turn up in a human home," answered Kevin.
"I have some ideas about that," said Alden. "But I need more information, especially on the history of all the persons who ever lived in the house. Do you have enough time to go to the house before the midday meal?"
"Yes," answered Kevin. "It is quite near to the border of the Woods. What would you like us to do there?"
"I would like Hugh to accompany you and for you to look for any documents you might find. At this point, do not enter the attic, but do a thorough search of all other rooms especially the one that was Zelda's. It might be good to take Daniel along as he knew the house long ago. Besides the obvious of Zelda's furnishings check for cubbyholes or hidden places documents could be stored. Hugh make everyone wear an amulet as a safety measure, even Daniel. If it is a Resonating Crystal at the core of the trouble, the amulets will provide enough protection as long as you do not get into close range of the crystal."
"Alright," agreed Kevin.
"Then," continued Alden, "return here after the midday meal with anything you have found. Bring the others with you."
"Will Geoff, my son, be needed? Or should he return to his classes?" asked Kevin.
"I think for now he can stay in his classes. If we need him, you could go and get him," said Alden. "I think I shall rest for now."
The three left their respected elder friend to rest and went to find Daniel to join them on the trip back to the house.
[Whimsical Woods Index]