Not confident he would be welcomed, he visited us to ask whether our alternates would welcome him back or are they angry with him. We convinced him to return and he is still living there.
We found some books of hers but did not find any of the above in them. I guess she did not need to express the same warnings because of Cherinianism preventing what is happening in your reality. The sad thing, Arthur, is that most people already are aware of the dangers but don’t care, as long as they have their own tiny corner, with an income to provide for their family and themselves. It is so easy to erode and cower the human spirit that it surprises me there ever have been moments of democracy and respect for human rights.
Byisina has avoided the Press and spends most of her time meeting with other species, studying them but also discussing her own situation, hoping they will provide her with answers. Empathy makes me need to rush to her side to help, for I can imagine how tortured she must be. It is not time, I would only cause damage by interfering now. True empathy, in other words, demands I suffer but wait.
Solomon visited us at our home in Athens. After some small talk, he asked, “Are we to wait here for birthdays and other celebrations or are you planning to visit the reality of Robert Hayes soon?” We returned to Earth on the 11th of May, PC63 and most of us were looking forward to the celebrations at the end of the month, with the first birthday of Yuming on the third of the next month. None of us had any presentiments to make us feel we have to get to the reality of Hayes urgently, and only the fact that Solomon was asking the question worried us. The silent byplay between us was sensed by Solomon (he would have anyway, even if Sol was not part of us), but he politely pretended he did not.
Robbie answered, “We’ll have to choose a cut off date for our departure and the whole planet is making plans for the birthday of Yuming, so I suggest we depart on the evening of the fifth of June. That way we can have a birthday party for Jodine - who hasn’t had her birthday celebrated with a party by us for quite a while. What I just said is subject to you not having news that makes it urgent we depart immediately.”
Solomon shook his head. “No, nothing new - it just feels wrong to leave a Robert on his own when he should be with his Cherine.” Robbie kept his expression sympathetic, but we felt how he shrugged it aside internally and he suddenly had to deal with a gaggle of girls staring at him coldly. Just because he is a Robert, we feel, does not give him the right to be so unfeeling about another Robert. (The truth is, I would feel the same way about another Samantha, but I still sided with my loves, since my doing something wrong does not justify him doing so - and it is fun making him squirm a bit! He wants us to be little girls, then he’s just got to know that we’ll love making him squirm… )
Actually, Robert Hayes has got us all feeling curious so we were looking forward to visiting him even before Solomon reminded us. Everyone has agreed, after the way he treated me, I can play my games and be the first to confront him, even though he is not an alien. Some of the girls (Roula and Goldi mostly) were missing Orgg and Jeskine, so we asked Freddie to collect them. He’ll also pass from the Orati to bring Efineh as I’m missing her.
The birthday gifts for Yuming started arriving at the Cherinian Embassy from three weeks before her birthday. A few, a very few, were gifts for a baby, but the rest were for a girl between eight to sixteen. Whatever Yuming does not want will be stored in Freddie for giving to children in other realities. Since armaments lost their position at the top of every governments’ list and there are no hungry people to be fed by charities, a lot has been done to eradicate the kind of poverty that causes suffering. It also means we no longer have children who’d appreciate the presents we are sent. We pass on a lot of them to the Orati centres and to other Earths where there is terrible poverty - and the nice thing is, since the public learnt what we are doing, many people send us gifts or small amounts of money for us to buy things for children in other realities.
These last two days the staff at the Embassy, plus those at designated ADFI offices all over the world have been swamped and their doors are clogged with endless queues of people bringing presents for ‘their’ Yuming. Cherinians are continually jumping the parcels to storage space in Freddie while others are trying to organise the packing in those spaces. Just the hard-copy birthday cards could fill up a room on their own. Somebody has to go through the envelopes as many of them have cash for Yuming to buy whatever she wants (I bet everyone would be surprised if she actually spent any of it on herself).
For once, Normals are showing an ounce of empathy. They had started off by wanting Yuming to visit their cities…then they used common sense and realised she would have to spend days rushing from country to country, from city to city, to blow out candles, take a bite of her cake and move on. The media led a campaign for everyone to agree to one big party and Cunard offered their latest passenger ship for the party to be held in international waters. Since the technology from ADFI was made available, ships no longer look like they did and the Princess Alice looks more like a small floating city than a ship. Cherinians are employed to keep the ship safe and everyone has photos of the ship floating over Miami when the Cherinian caretakers worried that a storm could damage the ship - even Robbie copied it for his collection of photos stored in his computer.
All Cherinians and Talents kept the secret and we arrived on board the ship to find ourselves surrounded by thousands of children from all over the world. Only one politician, from the U.N. and David from the chat show were present, the rest of the guests were children. Her face beaming, Yuming kissed the cheeks of both adults and thanked them. As if she did not know they would want her to speak for the cameras, she ran off, shouting and laughing, surrounding herself with hundreds of kids within seconds. David grinned at us and talking into the camera said whatever he was supposed to, had the U.N. guy speak his piece and the two of them went to the bar for a drink. The rest of my loves were long gone, playing among the kids, so I grabbed Cherine’s hand and dragged her away from Robbie. We worked our way to Coral and then we all made certain Cherine stopped being Cherine and made her play. Most kids did not recognise her so they were quite happy to dance with her, chat and play. Maybe it was hours later, I looked up and saw Robbie standing on a balcony, about ten floors up, staring down at us, a bottle of beer in his hand. We could all sense he was happy so I turned to Efineh and tickled her because she was showing off to some other eleven to thirteen year old girls her dancing skills. She laughed, grabbed me and called to the girls to make me dance in the middle. The party was a bit frenetic, we all ate too much cake, chocolates and sweets and at the end, as we felt kids moaning about tummy aches, we were glad we were Cherinians. Of course, we made certain that not one kid left with a tummy ache and we hugged most of them goodbye, Yuming thanking them for giving her such a lovely birthday party. By this time, it was midnight in Athens, but it was early evening by the ship, so we let Robbie lead us to the dining room where we had supper with the captain and a few official guests. Of course the media recorded the entire afternoon and evening until we left for home.
Everyone made a big thing of Yuming not staying to speak to the cameras, claiming she is an unspoilt child who acted naturally without putting on airs and everyone loved her. Empathia told her, with a grin, that if any of us had done the same, they would have castigated us, claiming we are spoilt and rude. Cassie called out, “Not if Goldi did it” and everyone laughed.
Visitors from other realities who wish to travel with us arrived by the thousands during the next two days. We made certain Ivgos and his family, with all their guests (the Marmirie and Eluc Liguju), came to Earth, as we were worried that not all the new guests would show the sensitivity and respect required without Robbie present. I suggested and Robbie agreed, so I took them to visit the Dalai Lama. I was tempted to stay with them, for I could barely envision what wonders they would speak of, lessons that I knew I am not prepared for - or so it ever is in my imagination. It was amusing for me, sensing the monks as they stood aside, allowing the aliens to enter, the eldest of the Marmirie greeted by their Dalai Lama as an old friend. I could sense that my friend was pleased and eager to speak with his guests, so I left them as soon as I saw the food machines arrive.
All has been prepared and we are in Freddie. My loves are dressed and ready for Jodine’s birthday party. At her request, the party is also for Bernadine, since it is likely we will be too busy dealing with the Hayes reality in three days time. I’m dressed and ready, but I’m waiting for them to leave, as I have something I want to write while I’m on my own.
Dammit Arthur, you know I can see you! I’ve been writing and all you do is sit there staring at the screen - oh? Now you write what I’m writing? God but you’re a difficult person to understand! Okay, I’ll rewrite of our arrival…since you don’t want to answer my letter.
We arrived, in the void, and the Sparklers who’d come here to watch Hayes came to us, taking forms. “Robert is living in England, in the area called Knightsbridge. Will you share with us?”
We watched-shared as Robbie went on his own. He walked to the entrance to the building with a jaunty air and rang the bell. A woman, with a Spanish accent answered and Robbie asked for Robert Hayes.
“Professor Hayes is at work. Have you looked for him at the university?”
“Uh…where is it, do you have the address?”
Robbie walked to the nearest green with a bench and sat. “I’ve never heard of a university or college called Whitehurst. It must exist only in this reality. Well loves, what do you think he is a professor of?” We took our guesses and asked him why he wasn’t looking for the university. “I’d rather confront him at his home. This Earth has no internet search engines so I can’t find out what his specialty is, so I’ll have to play it by ear when I meet him.”
Cherine giggled. “Why bother, why not just jump him to Freddie when you shake hands?”
“And have him fade away on us?”
“Oh, I’d forgotten that.”
I asked, “Do you think he would disappear if I met him? Surely seeing me in his reality would puzzle him?”
Robbie shook his head. “I’m sorry, I just can’t see me becoming a professor. Sam, you saw him sketching so he must be interested in art - but there are no professors of art.” He grinned. “Join me, let’s see how he reacts to both of us - a nosy little girl and his double, it should be enough to tweak his sense of curiosity.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, in a frigid tone, “you did mean, a gorgeous little girl, a vision of loveliness, an angel from a dream, didn’t you?” At least we passed our time laughing and teasing until Hayes arrived in a taxi. As he paid, Robbie and I walked quickly so as to get to him before he enters his building.
“Hello Robert, remember me?” I asked.
He ignored Robbie as he stared, examining me from top to toe. He indicated Athene on my wrist. “Is that how you tracked me? Your reality must be more advanced than I thought - not that I understand how any kind of gizmo can sense across realities.”
“No, we did not use any kind of electronic tool.”
“That’s nonsense, you must have…did you attach something to me?”
Robbie was grinning as I was grilled, in a fairly rude tone. “For the moment, forget how we found you. Damn it! Aren’t you excited to see us? Your own alternate and you don’t even glance at him, never mind greet him. Are all people in your reality as rude as you?”
Deadpan, he replied, “No. I reserve that right for myself.” He turned to Robbie. “You are her father, Robert Teller?” They shook hands.
“How is it that your name is Hayes?”
He lowered his eyebrows as he glanced at me. “It would be advisable to continue this discussion with some small degree of privacy.” The way he said it made it sound like he was blaming me for discussing private matters in public. Robbie was enjoying my seething too much to stand up for me.
His apartment is far too organised and conservative, the only things I like about it are his sketches lying on a table - and the smell of the room, which is very Robbie-ish. Robbie glanced at the heavy and dark wooden furniture and surprised me with his emoting of approval. God! Thank goodness Dommi buys ours! I saw the passage to his bedrooms and at the other end I saw a bar across a doorway for chinning himself and hanging from a nail, a chest-expander. I don’t think those things even exist anymore! Not that I don’t think they are just as good as the fancy stuff they sell now, for fifty times the price. I guess it went the same way older, plain toothbrushes went. I liked that he has stuck to chest expanders (two handles with five springs), but then, maybe that is all they have in this reality. Anyway, this is another indication that this one is very different from our Robbie - even as a Cherinian he doesn’t exercise.
“Before we go into details, I want to ask a personal question - do you know a Cherine?”
“The actress? Not personally.”
“I meant, Cherine Blake.”
“Can’t say I do. Is there a reason I should and would it apply to my reality?”
Robbie didn’t even glance at me as he laughed. “I like you; you make us Roberts look smart. Yes, Cherine applies to all realities. Your maid told us you are a professor - of what subject?”
“I have no secrets, but I do think questions and answers should flow both ways.” He hesitated when Robbie nodded in agreement. “I’m not certain I know which questions to ask. The maid calls me a professor because I teach at a school for those who have lots of money and their kids flunked normal school. I teach Computer Studies. Now, what question should I ask you?” I giggled and we felt the girls all laugh. Robbie had to ask Cherine to stay away as it was not time for him to meet her.
Robbie offered, “How did we come to your reality.”
“Okay, how did you come?”
“By spaceship - we call our spaceship Freddie, after Freddy Mercury, a singer.”
“A singing spaceship? That must be something!”
It was a pity to spoil the mood, but I had to ask as it was bothering all of us. “Why don’t you like children?”
“I don’t necessarily dislike them, I just don’t like them being around me. They’re a nuisance.”
I nodded. “True, but that does not explain it.” He clammed up so I let it go and offered, “How about another question for you - ask us why we’ve come to you.”
“It is not a question I wish to ask - it would give you the excuse to explain and I don’t want to know.”
Robbie leant forward, “We’d like to invite you to visit us. I promise to return you the instant you ask.”
“You are an alternate - you aren’t Satan?” Robbie raised an eyebrow. “For example - if you are Satan you would return me by dropping me from a thousand feet up.” He shook his head. “In either case, no thank you, I’m sorry, but I’m not free to come.”
I tried. “Freddie is a third of the size of the moon. Inside it has rivers, waterfalls, jungle and savannahs. We have a number of alien eco-niches with amazing plants of all kinds and some animals. If we let you bring your sketch pad, surely you’ll be tempted?”
He looked at Robbie and I saw a gleam in his eye, then they dulled again. “If it is an open invitation, I’ll come when I’m ready.”
Robbie gave a start. “You can teleport without having seen the destination?”
“Teleport? I can’t teleport.”
“Then how did you visit our reality - there where you met Samantha. We know you’ve also been to other realities.”
“That’s why you came - you fear me because you thought I can teleport!” He chuckled and sat back, relaxing for the first time since meeting us. “It’s okay, you can go home, you’re safe. I can’t teleport. All I did was imagine myself there, my body stayed here.”
“That’s why you faded!” I turned to Robbie, but I was also asking everyone else. “How can he travel to other realities without a Cherine of his own?” I turned back to him. “How old are you?”
My tone was not very polite, so he hesitated before he reluctantly answered, “Twenty nine.”
“That means she’s fourteen! Solomon, have the Sparklers found her?” I was answered directly in my mind. *She lives about fifteen miles outside of London. She comes to London most days. At this time she is at her home, with Marian.* I sensed Robbie had heard. Both of us were delighted. Then I had a thought, *Hell, he won’t give her a chance because she’s still a child.* Robbie nodded but kept on smiling. I couldn’t work out why he was feeling so cheerful.
Robbie asked, “Robert, do you know a Marian Blake?”
“My secretary?” He pulled a face. “Whatever your interest in her, good luck to you -if you can survive that acid tongue of hers.”
“Have you met her daughter?”
“I can’t say I have…no, I’m certain I haven’t. Oh! You did say Cherine Blake? She is Marian’s daughter? With a mother like Marian…I doubt I’d want to meet her, I like my girls soft and sweet thank you.” I sent Robbie a grin along with my observation, *She is avoiding him. Wise girl.* He chuckled aloud, not worried about showing his amusement, giving Robert the wrong impression. Thinking that Robbie sympathised with his attitude, and maybe he just thought he was being funny, he said to Robbie, “Even your daughter would be a better catch. Maybe I should wait for her to grow up and marry her?” His face reddened as he laughed. “I’m not her alternate father am I? What I said, I did not mean to sound incestuous.”
Robbie was laughing so hard he could hardly talk and everyone else at home thought it was hilarious. He feebly waved his hands as he said, “Sorry, you can’t marry her; I fell in love with her when she was a baby and married her.” That got me going also and Robert stared at the two of us as if we’d gone bonkers.
Such delicious moments are far rarer than we like to think they are. It is also typical of them that we usually have to cut them short so as not to wound others. Anyone who knows our Robbie like us girls do, know how he cringes when laughed at. Despite being The Robert Teller, admired and loved by millions, he still secretly cringes when made fun of. It made us quick to sense how Robert felt.
“Robert, we are only laughing because we are embarrassed - and, the truth is, it was kind of funny because my Robert told you the truth. I am his wife.”
He stared at me, at Robbie and with mouth hanging slightly agape, he gasped, “That’s sick!”
I hit back with, “Anyone who thinks any kind of love is sick, is sick, not us.”
Robbie interceded with a question, “Is it sick because she is my daughter or because she is a child?”
Vehemently he spat back, “Both!”
His voice still calm, he insisted, “One must matter more than the other - which one?”
Reluctantly, not wanting to, he gave it some thought and replied, “The child part, I guess.”
Robbie mock wiped his brow in relief. “Phew! Thank goodness. At least that rids us of the one problem. Our way of life is different from yours, meeting and loving my Cherine changed us in many ways. One of the ways, is the way Samantha looks despite her being over two hundred years old.”
“What!” For the first time he was shaken by what he was learning. Almost hoping I’d refute it, he asked me, “Is it true?”
“Being immortal is not as wonderful as it sounds Robert. We also think of it as a curse. There are far more important changes that are also wonderful and we want you to learn about them. Please come to Freddie with us.” Either he’d overcome his fear or else, it now seemed too petty for him to pay it much notice - or else he changed his mind and now liked me (the last one I only added for the fun of it ), for he agreed to come in a sort of absent-minded way, as if his thoughts were elsewhere.
“I should call in and take a few days off - will that be long enough?”
“You’ll only be absent a few hours Robert, even if we stay there for weeks.” While he tried to puzzle out what Robbie meant, we touched each other and him and jumped.
Robert is in love with Freddie - the ship. He is awestruck by the number and variety of aliens present and is tempted to link to a Wirm friend, but…he does not like us. He likes our friends and outer family, but with Robbie and us girls, he feels uncomfortable in our company and we can sense a patina of distaste lightly covering his emoting. It turns out he had not believed us about Robbie marrying me and finding out that not only is it true, but that all his daughters have married him and are staying children (for sex reasons, as he thinks of it) has turned him against us. We understand why and can empathise, but it does get tiring having people react to us this way, which is why it is so specially refreshing when we meet people (of whatever species) who don’t.
Allan asked him, “Now that you know what awaits you, are you looking forward to meeting your own Cherine?”
Stiffly, he does not like Allan - maybe because of his two girls being children, he replied, “I have no intention of meeting her. If any of you manipulate the situation so that I do, it won’t make any difference, I have no intention of allowing myself to love her, so you’ll only end up hurting her - should she fall in love with me.”
Cherine felt the way we are reacting to Robert and being compelled to protect any Robert, she told us, “You are not being fair to him, our Robert was just as narrow-minded when he met me.” She bit her lip. “The only thing I don’t understand about him is his dislike of children.”
I quickly checked an idea I had and jubilantly told her, “He never met Nicko!”
“What do you mean…I mean, I know that Nicko was and is an important part of my life, but it sounds like you’re claiming that meeting Nicko helped make me love children.”
I shrugged. “He doesn’t dislike children, he just reacts to them the same as you react to adult women. You like and are friends with a number of them, but you don’t trust them the same way you trust us kids. I think he didn’t have a friend when he was a child and in boarding school he learnt firsthand how cruel they can be. To an extent you were insulated from the worst of it by having Nicko as a friend.”
He felt Cherine, Dommi and then the rest of us girls as they came to agree with me after they gave it a little thought, so he nodded. “How do we help him then?”
Rosie was the first to laugh, as she told him, “You keep on forgetting! We don’t help him, he is not our problem. We leave him to his Cherine, she’ll turn him around, just wait and see.”
Robbie disagreed. “She hasn’t done so, even though it is obvious she has known him for years.”
“What makes you think she knows him?” Cherine asked.
“His visits to other realities. Her proximity to him almost every day must have opened him to some of his gifts.” We were delighted by the thought - Cherine more than all of us. So now we definitely leave him to her, she is and has been working on him and she’ll ‘get her man’ when she wants to.
At least we know Robert is a human being. He happened to look into the eyes of Ivgos and has grown to love him. What is even more surprising is that he has become very fond of our goddess, Lusalith. He is slightly put off by her chitinous appearance, made uncomfortable by his subconsciously identifying her as a lobster kind of person, but he likes her and thinks she has a wonderful warmth to her. Not many Terrans see that in her so he has endeared himself to all of us. Another natural but funny one, he likes Marian. We hope it makes it easier for him to see past the prickly defences of ‘his’ Marian.
Our friends came to visit us at our home, after Robert returned to his own apartment. Robbie was puzzled when he realised they want Allan to be their spokesman. “We are worried about the new Robert and want to know how you are planning to help him.”
“Me? I have no such plans. As for my loves, you better ask them directly.”
“You don’t like him, do you?”
Stiffly, but not angry yet, Robbie responded, “That has never stopped me from helping anyone.”
Alki cut in, “It has not and that is something we all admire about you. Roberto, it might not be him that needs our help, what if it is his Cherine? To believe she must handle him on her own when we can help, is it not wrong?”
Cherine was quick enough to prevent me taking responsibility. “He thinks the same way you do pappou, it is us girls who want her to fight for him. Of course we’ll help her if we see she is willing to try.” She grinned. “I still remember how frightening it was having to fight him to win him.” Many of us chuckled and the situation was defused. We discussed whether we should return to collect Cherine - and whether it would be okay to leave her mother out of it at this time.
Marian disagreed with us. “Bring her now, she must be a part of it from the beginning, even if she fights us. If we don’t, she’ll always think she could have saved her daughter and that we kept her away so as to prevent her from even trying. As a mother…I would hate all of you if you did that to me.”
Us girls looked at Robbie and he grinned. “That certainly raises the stakes. Shall we give him one more day of peace and freedom before he makes a fool of himself by trying to fight a Cherine?”
“Uh…dad,” I reminded him, “we did promise him that if he wants to be returned we will do so immediately. Is there somewhere we urgently need to go?”
Hettie gave me a wink as she said, “With the many examples Samantha provides us with, I am constantly amazed that any of you had the effrontery to accuse Doris of being underhanded and cunning!” She got her laughs and a hug from Eddie and her children, and a big one from me.
We debated the ethics of warning Robert, but unanimously decided strategy is more important at this time - and promised ourselves we will debate the ethics of our decision with Robert afterwards. How’s that for thinking just like normal politicians do.
We returned to the Hayes reality while Robert was asleep. Freddie timed it so that we arrive during the night. The Sparklers showed us where Marian and Cherine live and, Marian brought Marian and Cherine brought Cher to Freddie. They are in a house close to the Anadir and Inguel eco area. They’ll only spend one night there and then we’ll move them to our guesthouse, which is situated between our home and the taverna. We just didn’t want to chance Robert and Cher sensing each other until we let him know she is in Freddie.
Lusalith invited Robert to her home for the day. Curious about the way she lives, since he’d imagined she lives in the river, he agreed. She jumped them there. Robert did not mind Ivgos going with them and once they were there he was glad, as Ivgos took him for a tour through the forest and showed him the house where Freddie and Cherise live, while Lusalith received foods and drinks from Maria.
“Are you really a god? If you are going to answer ‘yes’, could you please explain or define what a god is, as I don’t think I really know what a god is supposed to be.”
“Samantha and I have had many talks about gods. She says that according to most religions, gods are meant to be creators. I am not a creator, my omniscience is only in the service of my people. Outside of that, I have power to help others, but they are not comparable. I have been invited to be the god of Freddie - the world of Freddie. If I agree, is it possible I will be as omniscient as I am for my people?”
“Omniscient means wisdom, God’s Wisdom. I think you could be that for those you love.” Ivgos was pleased by his answer, feeling it is the truth, but Lusalith saw it as a kindness from Robert.
“My powers are stronger than those of prime Robert - when he is not being driven by the need to save his family. Cherine, hers are stronger than mine and I look to her to guide me in other ways.”
Ivgos nodded. “Me too.” He stared into her eyes for a moment and added, “Samantha too, she sees my path clearer than I do.”
“She only seems to Ivgos,” Lusalith explained, “the person not involved directly always sees more clearly and she has an amazing breadth of experience.” Her voice shook as she added, “She terrifies me when she speaks with Arthur. She loves him enough to find the courage to fight with him so that he never becomes the god of our realities. I do not know whether he should or not, for his sake and ours, but I do feel the need to worship him as a god - a real god, not like me.”
“A man writing a story creates us, all the species and realities? I’m sorry Lusalith, but I can’t place my faith in something so puerile. I think he is just a freak with one set of powers none of us have, that enable him to reach across realities and create a…soulless simulacrum. He hasn’t even got the power to make it move and speak realistically.”
“Do you know the story of my people Robert?”
“No, I have not been told.”
“You are aware that he especially loves Samantha? He told her she has a future friend called Lusalith, waiting to meet her. When she agreed to meet Lusalith, he created our solar system. Robert, an entire species created as a gift to his love, Samantha! Could anyone but a god do it for such a personal reason? All the species he created after the prime reality, they only exist in one reality - that is the proof that he created us for the reasons given by him.”
Stubbornly he replied, “He does not sound like someone I could like. I’d say he needs to have his nose bloodied a time or two to teach him not to play with the lives of others.”
Lusalith was upset by his comments as she still sees it as the first duty of all sapient life to do all that is possible to bring Arthur to our realities for him to also share in the gifts of Cherinianism. She shows her disapproval and anger by withdrawing, no longer as friendly. Robert hardly noticed, but Ivgos was distressed by the thought that she is being hurt. “How can you believe in Lusalith, but not extend the same belief to Arthur? He has proven himself again and again to all the species. Are you so much smarter than all of them - even prime Robert?”
“It is not a case of being smarter Ivgos. Even a genius can be fooled if he desperately wishes to believe. As for Lusalith - Lusalith, will you be hurt if I speak openly of what I believe?”
“No.” He did not notice how pale and flat were the colours of her eyes.
“From your explanation of how you became a goddess, it sounds to me like your natural psychic powers were augmented by the psychic powers of your people because they chose to believe in you. It is similar to the effect of chaining a number of computers.”
Ivgos was rocking to and fro from his distress, but he spoke in a gentle tone, though his words were harsh with his pain. “You are a killer of gods. One mind like yours can destroy with words the beauty a million dreamt of. I heard a debate where they spoke of gods from ancient times and prime Robert said he believes those gods did exist, but that as people stopped believing in them or chose new gods to believe in, they faded away. Those people who did not believe, they must have been like you, only able to believe in themselves and swords that cut - not abstract things like love that heals.” In obvious distress now, he turned to Lusalith. “I believe in you Lusalith, you are a god and always will be.”
Robert is sensitive, but his pride had been stung, for he was hurt by Ivgos while also feeling guilty about hurting Lusalith - as Ivgos had made him see. “I better leave…”
Lusalith touched his arm. “Please stay. I need to immerse myself in water for a short time…perhaps you could use this time to help yourself to food and drink?” We decided we have to speed up our efforts to calm Marian and explain to Cher.
Cherine exclaimed angrily. “Damn! When he returns and sees them, feeling the way he does, he’ll react rudely to their presence and we’ll have harmed their future.” Robbie nodded, knowing how he used to react when he felt hurt and guilty. Glumly we stared at each other, until Empathia grinned.
“He’ll have recovered by tomorrow. Why don’t we take the two of them on a boat trip to faërie land?” The thought of sensing the delight from Cher when she meets the faëries perked up our mood and happily we told Marian and Cher that we are going on a river cruise. We did not give them a chance to protest and the ship was soon waiting for us to board.