Chapter Sixteen - Cafes and Puzzles
“What have you found so far?" Mederei inquired from the coffee shop near the hotel. They had finished their meal and wandered over to find coffee and explain what they had heard. Mithrilanna and Luna, who were still out and about, listened through their glasses. Mederei had propped her glass up against an empty mug so everyone could see each other. Well, when Luna wasn't shifting her glass at odd angles.
"Not much, but I happened to find Thuweni earlier," Luna said. "He said that the prince is here to save the area from a five-hundred-year disaster. There's also a book about Damla Isle that Kiango loved as a child. You don't happen to have it, do you?"
Mederei snorted. "Didn't even know he could read until a couple years ago."
Ramses blew out his breath. "You're being more obnoxious than normal, Medi. What is with the two of you?"
"Life in general," Caradoc assured him with a wave of his coffee. He set the mug on the table. "Listen, girls, we need you to go to the grotto here in town to look at a tapestry."
"I didn't think there was one inside," Luna interjected, her voice off screen as she randomly focused on a piece of sidewalk. Her face appeared. "Well? Is there one?"
"I think it's hidden like the one out by the sea was," Caradoc answered. "Mainly, it's Mederei who needs to go because of reasons, but it'll also be good for you to be there too, Luna, just in case there is a witch's hole somewhere. Mederei's magic can't do that."
"Course it can, I can make my magic do anything I want," Mederei preened under her breath.
"Can she?" Mithrilanna gasped pushing her face into the screen. Her pale silver eyes were wide at the news. "I had heard stories, of course."
"In theory, yes," Hugh said, leaning back in his chair and taking his coffee with him. "In theory, Mederei's word magic is able to adjust to whatever she wants it to be. She can be a wizard or a mage, in theory, but we've never actually put it to the test." He looked at Mederei for several long moments. He had never tested it with her, of course, that wasn't to say it hadn't been tested. He shifted his gaze to Caradoc who studiously studied notes in his journal.
Clearing his throat, Hugh continued, "And the question is whether it's her word magic or something else that she's using."
Mederei squirmed slightly in her chair. Hugh was always too smart for his own good. That's what the problem was. Of course it wasn't her word magic which she used to masquerade as a wizard, but her storyteller magic. It was the only thing she could use to tell a story. To be a wizard when one was a mage meant that she had to tell a good story.
Reaching for her coffee, she ignored his suggestion. Best to not say anything to him because Hugh was a dragon after all, and they were some of the wisest amongst the mortal races. Caradoc wouldn't reveal anything either because of family reasons. Hugh might be heritage, but he wasn't blood, and there were times when blood trumped even the best of friends.
"She's utterly silent," Ramses teased.
"Because she knows better than to talk with Hugh at the moment," Luna explained to Mithrilanna who had apparently posed a question. They were off-screen again, though now Luna pointed to flowers. "No one messes with Hugh when he's like this."
"So, we're going to go to the grotto here in the center of town," Mederei reminded them. "Is it now or later?"
"Later; after everyone is gone. You'll probably have to do some magic, so later will definitely be best for all involved." Hugh leaned forward to speak into his glass. "As for what Thuweni told you, Luna, did he imply it's connected to Damla?"
"He thinks it's a legend, but when he met Mithrilanna, he was more inclined to believe the veracity of the story." She fell quiet for a moment. "He seemed rather intent over it all of the sudden."
"Probably something like people realizing we're related to fitz Hugh and all that," Caradoc said. "There's also the little matter about one of us appearing in front of a crowd of people."
"Oh, yeah, about that." Mederei reached for her bag and pulled out a notebook. "I found something in my research about that specific problem. Seems that there's this weird thing with the five sisters that when they wove together that the tapestries were connected in more ways. It's a those they can take an image and project it to the other tapestries. It's unique to the five them, and some historians believe it's because of their connections to each other." She looked at Caradoc. "Wonder if we could do something like that?"
"With whom? Your brothers?"
"I was thinking of at least Ceinwen. Arlan maybe ... Tewdr's horrible at weaving ..."
Ramses coughed. "Does it have any significance to anything else?"
What would the significance of that connection be? The tapestries were going to be connected, that would make sense. "We can probably find one of the sources," she whispered to herself. Shaking her head, she leaned forward. "We'll need to find all the tapestries, but I think they'll be able to tell us where the power comes from. If the tapestries are connected, and the sisters wove them to protect the city, there is something around here that generates the power. We need to find that source."
"What do you mean generate the power, doesn't the land do that?"
"It does, but when the sisters wove, they always added another source of power to their tapestries. So long as the Gwion live, there is power, but they didn't know how long their offspring would live, so they always added other elements to the tapestries. Usually, it's connected to the community, or something else such as the wind. An alternate source of power."
"What could that be around here?"
"Any number of things, but it's connected to this community."
Pushing her chair back, Mederei started to clean up the empty glasses. "I will need sleep before venturing out tonight, so I'm going to go sleep back at the hotel unless I'm needed elsewhere."
"Bye," the others said.
Returning the glasses to the clean-up area, Mederei went downstairs and out the back door. With no one around, she transformed into a raven, a relatively harmless bird that was often around everywhere. Ravens were unique to she and her cousin, Isolde, however. Something Mederei had always appreciated. Since only a few daughters of the Gwion could transform, great emphasis was placed upon the first animal a daughter chose. Often it indicated an importance of the character. The raven was Mederei's first bird, but not her first animal. She had first transformed into a dragon when she was little only because she wanted to fly like Hugh.
The Black family had adopted her into their own, giving her the ability to hide behind their family name if she needed to. For many practical reasons, she just became Hugh's Black cousin.
She shifted her wings to take herself higher to see over the entire city.
The five sisters placed their tapestries at five points - the four cardinal positions and centered in town. The one in the center of town would be the best source for the alternate power as well, but what could it be? What in this region could generate power like that?
The town itself was oddly shaped as well, not the meandering streets one often expected in old established towns, but rigid lines forming a grid over the entire city center. In the newer portions, the roads curved as expected, but the oldest parts of the city were defined by their rigidity. The lines didn't even follow the proscribed paths to the four sites, but ... Angled out as though to form more points.
"It's like a massive compass pointing to the main tapestry," Mederei muttered to herself once she had landed back at the hotel. She hopped into her room, transforming as she did. Could there be magic under those roads which channeled into the main tapestry? None of it made any sense, meaning it was a puzzle. An annoying puzzle to sleep on.
Thankfully, it puzzled enough to prevent her from wandering away.