The Sun was setting behind the tall stand of Oaks at the edge of the field as I focused my gaze intently on the crystalline droplets of moisture forming on my chilled glass of Madeira .They started small, the faintest glimmer of liquid and then multiplied in size until they released their hold and ran together in tendrils racing like rain swollen rivers down the sides of the glass. The evening itself held a restless air about it. Oh the waking night creatures were in their first preparations to head out for their time of conscious existence after the long slumber of the daylight hours. But here at Stand, everyone seemed tighter than normal. Now let’s be honest. Up until about three hours ago I had been in 2016 busily inputting an online order at the local grocers for tonight’s dinner items. But like the cry of a hawk hunting across an open glade, I received the summons to Stand. So here I was, coiffed and tightly laced into a corset, feeling perspiration drip between my breasts. The only remedies to the cloying evening heat being the strand of pearls around my neck, which seemed to absorb any cool that floated up from the bottom land by the creek they could detect and the rich vibrant Madeira which had had been kept in the springhouse since Summer had settled upon the land.
Obviously tonight’s dinner at Stand, which was the name of illustrious abode of my compatriots, was quite the affair. A fine piece of high ground was Stand, near where the rivers met the sea, with excellent access to all things worldly in both its time and others. The large house was typical of the abundance of the year 1825 in the deep South. Large columns graced the entrance providing for a sweeping veranda where one could gaze down a winding drive lined with huge spreading Oaks . Grey clumps of Spanish moss adorned the ancient trees branches swaying gently in the breezes that rolled in from the abundant pasturelands. I took a deep draught of Madeira and pondered tonight’s apparently lavish spread. A huge side of beef seemed to have been turning gently on the spit out back of the house for the most of the day, excellent meat, cooked slowly and gently so it would melt in ones mouth. A well seasoned cast iron pot full of young potatoes , onions, and several spoonful’s of pork fat had been buried deep in the hot coals under the spit to mingle their flavors and caramelize the sugars , in the end becoming crispy rendering all as flavorful as could be. Tomatoes, cucumbers and little slivers of white onion floated in a peppery vinegar dressing and were chilled in the springhouse, in the same fashion as the sweet red Madeira flowing abundantly on the veranda. But I digress on the meal instead of the moment or the reason for the grand affair. I caught Issy’s eye as she replenished the other attendees large goblets of the rich red refreshment that looked to be tonight’s intoxicant of choice. Yet my reason for being summoned here still remained unknown to me, and the sideways glance from Issy let me know she had not a clue as well. So a surprise then? I did not need a surprise, my time was turbulent enough without being jolted in this one.
Evan Castille headed the household here, I had known him for Millennia. He headed all the grand households where we, the Watchers, the Travelers, the Orchestrators of Civilizations congregated. He simply and quite deftly avoided my questioning gaze. His actions were those of one who could not withhold an evident truth and had simply taken the opportunity to feint away any conflict. It was at that moment that I felt a primal heat at my back , a vibrant presence behind me, like a hungry and dangerous carnivore was at the ready to pounce. I slowly lifted my glass to my lips, took a deep swallow of Madeira, and turned to look up over my shoulder. If hearts leap, mine surely did, he was swarthy and stealthy, savvy and cunning. Yet in all that there was the sparkling look to the eyes I’d known all these years. Dom Avigo, Assassin and Emperor, Templar and Trader, now stood provocatively close at my shoulder. Between us had passed centuries and tonight his hypnotic black eyes held amusement, mystery and a deep abiding danger.
The world around us fell away as it always did when we were together. The fine feast and conversations of the other guests became white noise in back ground as if we where the only two inhabitants of all the worlds and universes put together. “So ? The Mage?” I asked as I ran my eyes over that countenance I had known, loved and hated since before the time of man was recorded by the written word. He wiped the sweat from his brow as was his way of deciding the answer to a question. “Yes” he said. I never broke the contact of our eyes and we watched each other intently as the pieces I suspected fell together in my mind. “I thought , but I was not sure, it seemed so, the worlds, the times ,the passing in and out make it hard to know” I answered. “Odd way of going about it Dom Avigo” I stated. His dark eyes sparkled with the brilliance that only a true genius, a wise one, a Mage can hold. “Pour me a glass” he said”Tonight is not tomorrow and yesterday has passed in this world and forward. Let’s let it be, yet I’m glad its settled, that you know ” he leveled his gaze at me with the last statement . Issy had swept by while we were locked in the dance of recognition and filled my glass. I emptied it in one long swallow, let its intoxicating nature take me and stared off at the horizon. Well ,well, I thought, things just got interesting. Dom Avigo was here at Stand and apparently in 2016 as well.