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whipped cream

Whipped Cream

(Realm of Elysia)

Bren and Manu sat in a large, airy dining area, with reed mats providing a cool cover over a wooden framework. Linen tablecloths draped long rows of individual tables, upon which sat lavish plates, goblets, and various other types of tableware. Besides the utilitarian fork and spoon arranged carefully on either side of Bren’s plate, there were several other utensils Bren had no idea how to use.

As they sat down, servers with trolleys full of various breakfast foods wheeled by, offering their selections to whomever showed interest.

Bren, a bit overwhelmed by the endless variety, finally choose a type of red fruit juice and something that resembled a pancake with honey syrup. The server added a dollop of whipped cream and some fruit on top, making it as pleasing to her eye as her palate. Manu, knowing exactly what she wanted, also requested a small mountain of fluffy whipped cream with her meal.

Before they’d sat down, Robyn ran off to catch up with her friend, the one with the new boat. Turning as she left, Robyn said, “Bren, I don’t know why you skipped a day, but we will watch you closer, to make sure we know when you are.


Sipping the last of her fruit juice, Bren thought out loud, “It didn’t feel like I spent more than an hour with the Bard, I can’t figure out what happened.”

Manu, shaping a rabbit with her extra whipped cream, said, “That’s strange, I’ve never heard of that happening in the story forest. Did you fall asleep?”

“No, nothing like that.”

“Can you tell me about the story?”

“I think so, no one told me not to.”

Bren related, in as much detail as she remembered, the entire tale the Bard told. As she spoke, Manu’s eyes grew wider and wider. Barely half done, Bren couldn’t help but ask, “What is it, why do you look so surprised?”

Taking a spoon and eating one of her white rabbit’s ears, she said, “Well, you went to the Garden. No one ever goes to the Garden, Bren. No one except Seraphs. You seem so normal, I keep forgetting what you are.”

“I’m just me, Manu, nothing more.”


“That’s where you’re wrong, dear. Seraphs are much more than meets the eye. All that most people ever see is just their echo.”


“Have you ever seen a rainbow’s shadow?”

“You mean a double rainbow? Yes.”

“Well, Seraphs are like that. The only parts people normally see are what we want them to see. What they see in the Seven Realms is only a faint reflection of who we really are.”

“What are you trying to say, Manu?”

Scrunching up her face, as if trying to think really hard, Manu said, “Picture a sunny day, and you’re looking at my shadow. I’m casting the shadow you see, but that’s not me at all. Depending on where I stand, or the time of day, I cast a different shadow. It’s not really me, it’s only a rough outline of me.”

It’s all so mystical

Bren, again for the second time in a few days, felt her frustration grow as she considered Manu’s words. Must everything have some different, mystical meaning here? she thought to herself.

More and more, Brenzel felt like everything in Elysia was beyond her, different than she expected, and she was always the last to figure it out.

“You’re saying Dove and the other Seraphs are like that?”

“I’m saying you’re like that.”

“No, I’m not. I’m a simple country girl. I grew up in a one room house, washed dirty clothes, picked strawberries with my mother in summer. I am nothing like Dove, she’s perfect. I’m just a mess most of the time.”

More than a hugger

“I’m sorry, you really don’t understand, do you,” Manu said sympathetically.

“I guess I don’t,” Bren muttered in frustration as she ate the last bite of her pancake.

Pondering Manu’s words, Bren felt more and more uneasy. She’d never seen her young friend so serious before. She’d always thought of Manu as a hugger, not a deep thinker. What did her small friend know that she didn’t? Bren began to suspect she knew a lot.

“Who are you, Manu?”

Licking her spoon thoughtfully, Manu said, “Manu, your friend.”

Looking at the young woman before her intently, Brenzel asked directly, “So if I’m a Seraph, who was the Gardner?”

As she decapitated her whipped cream bunny, Manu said, “God, of course.”

Religious Freedom

(Vatican City, 1689)

The next day, in his official chambers within the Vatican, humming, Tim motioned to his assistant to show the next dignitary in. It was a count from England, bringing news of the progress of the Declaration of Indulgence for Religious Freedom. Since the 1670’s, obsessively, the order had manipulated circumstances for religious tolerance be made law. However, behind the scenes, the Faithful worked tirelessly with the protestants to squelch it.

Speaking with Cardinal Jenkins some days earlier, Tim informed him, “The Presbyterians have put up much more resistance than expected to the idea of Religious Tolerance. Right now, we don’t have the support to push this through.”

The old priest, sitting in his red, high-backed chair, said, “Yes, yes, but it’s vital to Her Majesty that our Most Holy Church be allowed to operate freely in both England and Ireland. Our missionaries, as of now, are barred from any type of church work in the area. Our Mistress deems it of the utmost importance religious freedom be adopted soon.”

Forgive me Father, I don’t understand

“Forgive me, Father, but I don’t understand. I am not questioning, nor do I suggest Her Majesty’s plans inadequate, I only want to plumb why she desires religious tolerance so that I may be more effective in my duties.”

Eyeing Tim, as if judging whether or not he was worthy of an explanation, finally the old priest said, “Normally, such a question would be impudent, but since you’re slated for larger things, I will indulge your curiosity.

“Since the heretic, Luther, sparked the protestant rebellion, the reach and influence of the Holy See has steadily diminished. Our church is outright banned in several countries, and we cannot operate freely in others. While we once controlled everything, religious tolerance wasn’t an issue, but now that our influence is eroding, our Mistress decrees that we must advance the idea of religious tolerance.

Something deeper

Looking at the candle on the senior cardinal’s desk, Tim took that revelation in, weighing it’s meaning, sensing some deeper, hidden strategy at work.

“Forgive me, for I am dim-witted and slow to understand simple things, Father, but if you advocate tolerance of religion in order to aid our Catholic cause, won’t that also aid the protestants too? Would not that in turn, God forbid, aid Muslims and any other belief for that matter?” Timothy questioned.

Slim, feeling the age in his bones, shifted his growing, sedentary weight in his velvet lined seat. “A wise deduction, young man. What else does your keen mind perceive?” the Cardinal inquired, steel blue eyes looking intently at him.

Permission to speak freely?

“With permission, may I speak freely, Father?”

With a wave of his fingers, the ancient Cardinal assented.

“If all religions are tolerated, then no one religion is of greater importance than another. If there is no one way, then people may begin to believe all ways lead to God and we can say nothing against them.”


“And Her Majesty accepts this outcome?”

“No only accepts it, counts on it.”


“Her majesty needs to find someone.”

“What? Who?”

“Someone like herself.”

That sick feeling

“My God, there’s more of them?” Tim said, feeling sick in his gut. Finding a chair, he sat down heavily. In the darkness, as the candles flickered, Tim’s mind pulled him back to that awful night. His skin crawled and went clammy, as the knowledge that there might be more of these infernal beings walking the earth sunk in.

The cardinal answered, “At least one, maybe two. However, though Her Majesty is aware of them, she doesn’t know specifically where they are. Therefore, our missionaries are being sent out to the four corners of the earth, to seek them out.”


“That, young Cardinal, we do not know. I only know that it is the number one priority that they be found. All her mind is bent towards this end.”

“What will she do when she finds them?” Tim asked.

“The answer to that is for another time. In the meantime, push forward with this matter, our Mistress demands our missionaries be free to search everywhere.”

“Yes Father, I will do all that you ask without fail.”

As Tim left, the old man watched him. He sat, silent, going over his plan once more in his mind. God, he thought to himself, I am tired. Slowly, his eyes grew too heavy for his mind to prop up. As his head tilted to one side, the exhausted candle flickered and went dark.

A convenient enough excuse

Leaving the papal courts as soon as he could, Tim hurried down back alleyways, glancing behind him every once in awhile as he made his way towards the market. It was late, and only a few stalls were still occupied, with small oil lamps give off their feeble light.

Indeed, traveling alone at this hour was not particularly safe, but Tim could not afford guards, who might draw attention.

Rounding a corner, he knocked on the door of parchment shop, whose owner he knew personally, until the owner opened to him. Entering quickly, as the shopkeeper looked this way and that, Tim picked up a package of papers as agreed, then made his way out the back into another alley. If he were ever questioned, the parchment and other supplies would provide a convenient enough excuse.


Nearly midnight, Tim finally made it to Fiammetta’s front door, kissing her passionately when she greeted him.

Across the way, at the corner of a building, two hooded men in similar garb as Tim, watched them kiss. After Tim entered, the taller, turned to the other stockier one, speaking in quiet tones, then both faded into the shadows.