The Mourning Prince
looked up as Kelson started to chuckle, "I knew he would get you
eventually. But give me the keys before he gets you wrangled into the
job." With the phone to his head, trying to listen, Harold fished
in his pockets for his keys.
"Are you going somewhere?" Dean asked starting to stand from his position beside Micheala.
"I am just going to take my uncle out for a little ride to see what the roads are like," Kelson said taking the keys from Harold, "I need you to stay here to keep everyone out of trouble."
"Great," Dean sighed.
"Tim," Kelson called to the Supreme of Howicce motioning for him to come closer.
"Yes, Your Grace?"
"For one thing, don't call me that in private," Kelson said looking at him over the rim of his glasses, "the second thing, knock it off."
"Stop acting like a gopher for these people," he said noticing the confused look on his face. "I liked you better when you were a pain in the ass," Kelson whispered. The Supreme of Howicce furrowed his brow in confusion. "Please get over there and help with that letter, before they get me killed." Mildly nodding his ascent, not truly understanding, the Supreme of Howicce wandered over to stand behind Harold.
"Uncle," Kelson said indicating for him to follow, "I think we had better leave before they get me drawn and quartered."
"I don't think that will happen, they stopped that centuries ago," Camber said lightly as he made his way to the door. Bestirring herself from her perch at the end of the desk, Ming jumped to the floor and followed Camber.
"Do you want to go too?" Kelson asked the cat. Ming just looked up at him with a look of pure innocence on her face.
The vehicle made its descent down the hill in the light of the slowly setting sun. At this point, Camber got his first real look at the city and where Kelson's house stood. It was situated on the leading edge of a cliff line.
"My god Kelson!" Camber exclaimed, "You practically live on a cliff."
"Well practically, the cliff line runs north for a good half mile or so."
Turning back to look at the house Camber spied Ming taking a leisurely bath in the back seat. Knowing she was being watched, she stopped, looked at Camber briefly and went back to her bath. "You don't take her out much, do you?" Camber asked.
Glancing to the back seat, Kelson just chuckled," No, not normally. She wants to go outside a lot, but I don't like to let her. I'm afraid she might wander off." Camber chuckled. "It's strange though, usually she is not this quiet on car trips. I have to put her into a kitty carrier most of the time." Driving the vehicle past an industrial complex and several stoplights, Kelson entered onto the interstate heading north.
"Where are we going?" Camber asked as hibernating trees on both sides of the road flashed by.
"It should be coming up shortly, off to the right."
"And that would be?"
Glancing at him quickly Kelson said, "do you remember asking me about that cloaked figure?"
"Yes I do," Camber paused, "you mentioned something about a feeling you got when you were in only one other place. Is that were we are going?"
"Yes." As they rounded a gentle curve in the interstate, a break in the trees appeared to their left revealing a river with a small beach and trees beyond.
"What river is that?" Camber asked leaning forward.
"That", Kelson said, pointing with his finger, "is the Missouri River. See that land behind it?"
"Really, it must be a beautiful site in the spring."
"It has its moments."
As they drove closer, Camber could see more clearly another river entering into the Missouri with what appeared to be an island in between them. "What is that?" Camber asked.
"That is South Dakota."
"That is the point where the three states meet. Incidentally, that river just to the right, is The Big Sioux River."
"That must be a magnificent sight to see from the cliffs."
"You will get your chance to see for yourself, from right there," Kelson said pointing at the cliff line to their right. On the right side, through a break in the trees, sitting on the trailing edge of the cliff line sat a statue. The statue faced west towards the setting sun. It sat on a trapezoid stone mason pedestal with concrete base. The actual statue seemed to be made of a dark red wood. The figure had a long headdress that extended to its feet, which were slightly spread apart. Its arms were upraised holding something.
"What is that?" Camber asked inching forward in his seat to get a better look.
"Chief War Eagle's Grave," Kelson said with a smile.
"What is he holding?"
"A peace pipe, I believe." Exiting the interstate to the right they traveled a short distance until they came to dirt road off the main road, War Eagle Park. "That's odd," Kelson said.
"Well the gates are usually closed during the winter. They're wide open and I don't see any tire tracks in the snow."
"Well we can always walk up."
"No that is all right. This thing has four wheel drive." Driving through the open gates, they made their way around a slight curve and up a steep incline. At the top, there was a fence at the base of a small mound. Making a U-turn just in front of the fence, Kelson brought the vehicle to a stop facing the statue and turned the car off.
"You want to grab Ming," Kelson said as he started to get out, "she has taken such a shine to you. I was hoping you would carry her. I don't want to leave her inside and I don't want her to wander off."
"What is that mound behind us, the one with the stones on top?" Camber asked once he had Ming in his arms and she had snuggled in closer to keep warm.
Looking back at the mound as he made his way along the fenced walkway leading to the statue, Kelson said, "Oh that's where the statue used to be. They had to move it several years ago because the cliff was eroding so much that they thought it would go over the edge." Midway between the statue and the vehicle Kelson stopped, "Look down there, you can see three states from here."
Moving to his side, Camber looked down to the area below. He could see the interstate just below them and behind that he could see the Big Sioux River meeting the Missouri with the splinter of South Dakota between them. Beyond that, he could see the shores of Nebraska. Following the path of the interstate below him, he could see it cross the Big Sioux River in the distance. In the direction the statue appeared to be pointing the sun was slowly setting.
"Let's go, it is going to get dark soon," Kelson said.
Slowly traversing the snow covered sidewalk, they made their way to the base of the statue. As they approached the base of the statue, Camber got his first real look at it. It was bathed in lights from below. Lights that were just now coming on with the setting sun. "Its metal!" Camber said astonished, noticing the attention to detail on the Native American clothing. "It looked like wood from the road."
"I always thought so too until I got a closer look at it," Kelson answered staring up at the statue. "He looks so stern, but peaceful," Camber said, looking up at it.
"Yes he does," Kelson stated distantly.
Looking closer, Camber could see that the figure was indeed holding a peace pipe. Just around the square base of the statue was a two-foot sidewalk with a fence around the outside. Stepping onto the sidewalk Kelson moved to directly under it and began to brush aside snow that had collected on a plaque. Moving to his side Camber read the plaque.
Chief War Eagle
Friend to the White Man
"Kelson, who put the statue up?" Camber asked.
"I guess the original city fathers did, in appreciation for his protection of the early settlers in this area. This used to be his favorite spot.
"And you got that 'feeling' here?"
Kelson walked around to the right of the base of the statue, stopping at the very back of it. Camber followed behind and stopped when Kelson stopped. "Place your hand here," Kelson said indicating a space where the masonry had been cut and a piece of wood had been placed.
Securely holding a wide-awake Ming in his right arm, Camber extended his left hand to the spot Kelson had just pointed too. Camber suddenly sensed that unknown ancient presence. The same one he had noticed in Kelson's memory. "Is it just here that you felt it?" He asked.
"No," Kelson answered, "I can feel it all the way around." As he said that, he began to walk around to the front. As they reached the front, they saw it and on instinct Kelson threw up a protective barrier around them. Standing just at the opening of the fence, leading to the statue, was a dark cloaked figure silhouetted against the setting sun. Slowly the figure glided towards them and just as it was about to reach them, it seemed to separate into two figures. The second figure was dressed in a bright white cloak. Gingerly, the second figure pushed aside the hood from its face. "Anna," Kelson whispered. She glided towards Kelson. Touching the wards that Kelson had so quickly erected, the barrier shattered like shards of glass, soundlessly falling and dissolving into the ground.
"My love," Camber could hear her whisper as she stood face to face with Kelson. He felt he shouldn't be hearing this.
"But why, and how can you be here?" Kelson managed to stutter.
Cocking her head slightly she smiled," A favor of sorts. A chance for us to say a proper goodbye."
"But...?" Kelson started.
Raising her hand to his lips, she whispered, "No more questions please. Take care of our daughter, my love. Raise her as I know only you can." With that she leaned forward and kissed him on the lips. Kelson seemed to shudder and leaned back against the tomb in a daze. The figure then turned to Camber, "Take care of him Camber Haldane. He will need your help in the years to come." With that she pulled her hood back over face, glided to the darkened figure and dissolved into it.
Quickly Camber moved to Kelson's side. He was just now coming out of his daze. "Are you ...?" Camber started to say. Then he noticed Kelson was looking at the dark cloaked figure. The figure glided to within a few feet of them.
"Peace and long life, King of Gwynedd," the figure whispered in a dialect Camber did not recognize.
Camber guided a still somewhat dazed Kelson back to the vehicle. "Are you all right?" Camber asked as Kelson leaned against the vehicle.
"I will be in a minute," he answered distantly.
Looking up into his uncle's face Kelson replied, "I think she just showed me my future."
"But that figure called you 'King of Gwynedd'. Why?"
Taking the keys out of his pocket Kelson began to toy with them, "I don't know uncle. I think we both just imagined that."
"Do you want to tell me what you saw?"
Pausing at the vehicle door Kelson leaned his head against it, "No, I don't think you would believe me if I did try to explain it. Perhaps someday when I have figured it out for myself."
"Are you sure?"
Shaking himself out of it, Kelson opened his door, "Yeah I'm sure. Anyway lets get out of here, it's starting to blow again." Once inside Kelson leaned over and unlocked his uncle's door. Camber got into the vehicle and in the process disturbed Ming from her comfortable position in his arms. As Kelson started the vehicle, Ming looked up at Camber with an almost knowing look on her face, curled herself into a ball in his lap, and was fast asleep in seconds.