“Grandpa!  The Sun is low! Stories are nigh!”

“Oh? Well, what kind would you like?”

“Regardless of what I say, you are going to tell me the one you want and pretend it counts. Then you’ll try to trick me into ending the story early.  You may also mention women in an inappropriate way, because you do not understand I am too young to enjoy your careful entendres.”

“All of the these things are true! That…”

“That is in no way a moral. You will not finish my story before it even starts! It, thus far, has not a single character, setting element…”

“It has a character. You said there was a…”

“Scandalous lady?  Good grief. “There was a scandalous lady. She did a scandalous thing. I smirked about it afterwards.” is not a story!

“Yes, so let’s just take that as read, shall we? I had sold some treasure I had found in a grave. This is not the sort of thing a fellow should admit to, but it ended up so well that one I hardly complain. So, I was selling these items and the family descended from the inhabitant of the tomb tried to kill me. They were a powerful psilos family from Venice. In spiritual form they were elongated shadows, with glowing red eyes and cruel knives. They could take spiritual shape to walk through walls, and their knives could cause Warping and the inability to cast Creo magic. Anyhow, they chased my across the sea to Zara, and I could only keep them at bay by sleeping in churches.”

“Is this Mother’s family?”

“Oh, no, dear – your mother’s an archer psilos.”

“Oh, of course.  What can we do?”

“You can make an arrow land precisely where you want, always. At least, you will be able to, once we go home, and you begin your training.”

“Aren’t we at home?  It certainly feels like home.”

“Oh, no. You are home. We are just waiting here.  My shoes need to find me, among other things.”

“So, there other psiloses…they were chasing you, and you didn’t have your shoes.”

“True! Had I but had my shoes, I would have been able to escape them.”

“You need a second pair of shoes, Grandfather.”

“A second pair…I’d not thought of that.  Then my shoes would not need to find me.  Id just have a spare pair.  We could grow a pair for your grandmother, too.”

“Grow a pair?”

“Oh, yes, they grow on a special type of tree.”

“That’s simply ridiculous.”

“No it isn’t. My boots grew on the same sort of tree.”

“I find that very difficult to believe.”

“Well, it has nothing to do with our story.  So, there was this woman who had walked through my wall while I was bathing…”

“Grandfather!  Twelve!  Do I need to carry a sign?”

“Oh, yes. Twelve. Anyhow, she decided she wanted to be my friend, and so she hid me from the others until I could get the stolen  items back. Her people could not find me if I slept in a ring of outward facing mirrors. She even helped me steal the items from the people I’d sold them to. They can push other people through walls, you know.  An odd sensation, rather like laying your skin on cold and slightly gritty marble.  This took, oh, a good year, I believe.  We toured Italy, sleeping in my little ring of mirrors, and robbing powerful noblemen of their magic items.

“That really is far more like a story than your previous stories.  It’s awfully condensed though. Each item could be the kernel of a story, and then you’d get a rewsolution for each. That’d be the way to tell it.”

“You know, you’re right. Tomorrow I will tell you the tale of how I took back the necklace, from about the neck of a bathing duchess.”

“You did it again!”

“What?”

“Tricked me into finishing your story early!”

“Me? No! That was a complete story!”

“What was the moral?”

“What do you think it was?”

“That my grandfather is sneaky and cruel?”

“No, never think that, little one. There’s a better one.”

“That every story is full of little stories?”

“Exactly!”

“Alright, I let this pass, Grandfather, but I want a proper story tomorrow.  How you took the necklace from the bathing duchess! No excuses!”

“Now, now. I’d never cheat you out of a story. Go have supper while I have my nap.”

* * *

“Grandmother?”

“Yes, dear?”

“Where were you?  When he was travelling around Italy with this strange woman?”

“Oh, I was around. He and I had met on the road. I travelled a lot, back then.”

“The werewolf business?”

“Oh, no, I was only a werewolf briefly. I did not make a career of it.”

“So, you’re a psilos, like mother?”

“No, dear. Your mother’s family are all psiloses, but our side have always been redcaps.”

“Oh. Of course.”

“I do hope your father’s mission is going well. It is routine, but family tend to worry for family.”

“Grandmother. Whose cottage is this?”

“Why…yours, dear.”

“It’s not your home, though, is it? Grandfather said you don’t live here.”

“We are watching you while your parents are away, dear. You know this already, I’m sure. Surely they explained it to you?”

“Yes. It just seems like you’ve always been here.”

“Well, that’s a lovely thing to say, but, no, my dear.”

“What was the lie?”

“How do you mean?”

“In his story?  Was it the ridiculous bit about the boots growing on a tree?”

“No, his boots really did grow on a tree. The redcaps won the original from a faerie court, centuries ago, and they have propigated it to many covenants.”

“Then, what?”

“He didn’t have a dalliance with that woman. They were allies, and she shielded him from the wrath of her family, but they were never…closer than that.”

“Then why add it? Why not just tell me the truth about everything?”

“I think perhaps he didn’t want to explain her real motives. Her family had splintered into two factions. As they found the items of her ancestress, she gained greater and greater sway with the other members of her tradition. It ended badly: your grandfather may have killed the leader of the other side.”

“That’s terrible!”

“Or, atl east, trapped him forever in a mirrored bottle.”

“That’s worse!”

“Well, you see, you have a choice. You can accept his lies, or you can accept my truths. His stories are clearly the more pleasant…”

“Your truths. I love his stories, but they aren’t true.”

“Oh, they are more true than you’d think. Anyway, eat your supper, dear.”

 

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