“I am The Light, The Way. No one comes before Me.”
“What’s happening to Me? No. Noooooo!!!”
Tropp knew there was a danger of being trapped in New Eden forever. Far out, like Planet X. Beyond Pluto even. But did he care? Probably not — in and of himself.
But there was Hidi to think of. Or Hayden. She changes each day. She’s at Rosehaven, in The Waste, at The End of Time, in Nascera. Everywhere the family is, she is too.
But most of all currently, she’s on Dog I. With the Cat.
“If you reopen the passage to Caledonia the water will rise and swallow the island. Let the child decide instead. I decree this from my Coffin World.”
King Tull(y) had already made up his golden mind, inner and outer in resonance. “Did you enjoy the spirits tonight, Great Queen? They sang my molten name loud and clear through the silver fog.” He turned his head. “The child will obey me.”
She didn’t look up from her book. “The old ‘you have yours, I have mine’ routine, then.”
The king coldly simmered a minute before acting again.
She’d finished the 3oth and last of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” and waited for accolades that never came. This time was different.
“Your daughter plays superbly, King Tully.”
The king acted surprised, then: “Tull please. The spirits flaunt their wears at 12 midnight. You must stay up for it. Every night it happens without fail. Music as well. The spirits sometimes say it’s for a Benefit, sometimes they’re just Living in the Past, they decree, sometimes for a forgotten War Child, and then, most mysteriously of all, for the Passion Play. The play of life itself. Daughter Merry Gouldbusk is fair. But the spirits play a superb and haunting tale weaving in and out of itself.
“The daughter is good too,” Monsieur Gold reinforces, knowing the difficulty of the pieces just performed. Merry Gouldbusk beams inside — a little ray of sunshine enters her cold, metallic life. I will marry this man, she states inwardly. I will show father what he can do with his Jimmy Fisks of the world.
“Let me show you something, Monsieur Gold,” the king then commands while rising. “The mystery of my name.” He turns to his daughter, who awaits orders. He bows his head toward her. “You can come with us.”
God I hate that man, she thinks for the millionth time.
“Are these the… spirits?”
“No. I’m afraid not.” King Tully’s voice betrayed disdain. In fact, one could tell from only a short time that the king held contempt for everyone and everything around him. Except the “Great Queen”, as he always addressed her. Always the full name Merry Gouldbusk for the daughter, though. “This is the perpetual choir, currently on shutdown.”
Herbert Gold stared at each frozen character in turn. “So… it’s not a perpetual choir. Since they’re not singing currently. To be perpetual…”
“They sing within,” interrupts King Tully. “There is no difference in the play of life between inward and outward. It’s all golden appearances and then golden opinions and values. Everything counts equally if you’re gold. Isn’t that right Merry Gouldbusk?”
“Yes,” the trailing daughter dutifully utters without thinking of her father’s nonsensical speech too much, a long honed practice.
“And… the name?” Herbert Gold was becoming impatient with the king perpetually sitting on his high horse.
“Name?” King Tully returns coldly.
“You said you had something to show *us*” — he indicates both himself and the trailing Merry Gouldbusk here — “about your name. A mystery I think you put it.”
“Oh, that will come with the spirits. Look for the shapes in the air. Golden in hue, of course.”
“Some silver,” his daughter interjects, then quickly regrets it. He turns toward her. One could say he glowers at her, but a glower without emotion, if that makes sense. Emotionless rage?
About 20 seconds pass. Herbert Gold wonders if the king will smite his fair daughter, something he *definitely* doesn’t want to witness. But he simply bows (again) and turns back to Mssr. Gold. “Gold,” he reinforces. “With *some* silver.”
Merry Gouldbusk declares another small victory today.
The two lovers’ hearts beat as one again from this direction, King Anderson Tully thinks from his rocky perch.
But I must get back to the castle. New guests are arriving! Filling the void of the old.
“He said he’d give us a great deal, April Mae. 300 linden dollars a month. Just like one of the Absinthe cottages.” Mssr. Gold turns. “April Mae? Where’d she go?”
The king approached.