White Swan, Queen of Rogues

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The Apperetion

A mist rose from the ground, a thick but not cold fog with large vague bear sized shapes swirling about on the inside silently, and then it cleared, and only a woman remained. Of indistinct age, she would look more at home in America than in England wearing native American clothing, britches, and moccasins. Virginia thought it must be a stress-induced apparition caused by her fear for Humphrey and Roger or shock, and could not work out what was occurring.

The short-haired woman knelt and asked, “Lady Virginia, may I sort you cane marked legs first, please. In this way, you will understand why I am here. Then we will attend to your husband and Mr. Masters.”

Virginia put herself protectively over Humphrey and Roger, still not quite comprehending what occurred. She must have also passed out and was hallucinating or dreaming, or some such. Virginia thought she was going mad with worry because there were no men with guns and lanterns stomping towards her. She demanded, “Who are you, and what do you want, and how do you know me, know us?”

The woman sighed, sat back on her legs, and answered, “The less you know, Lady Stoddard, the better for you and us. The Druid called me when he saw your companion shot, and now your husband is bleeding from a wound to his head. I am a healer and will restore Lord Humphrey and Mr. Masters so that you can continue your flight. It is most important that your escape can be reconstructed reasonably by those supporting Huntington. If you just disappear, your effort will be less significant.”

The woman’s voice lulled Virginia, and before she knew it, she saw the woman glow, her hand on Virginia’s leg. It tingled, and the pain and itching from the Bloody lords caning were gone. The woman’s face displayed some mild discomfort before her face smoothened, she smiled and spoke, “You are as ever a tough lady, Mrs. Stoddard. May I attend to your husband and Mr. Masters?”

Virginia was still not sure and demanded, “What you did caused you pain, I saw that clearly,” but it was too late. The woman glowed brightly, and Humphrey stirred; the blood on his forehead was still there, but the skin was closed and not longer bleeding.

Then the woman untied their makeshift bandage, put her hands on Roger, and her golden glow intensified and shone with the brightness of the sun at midday. She swooned when the bullet popped out of Roger, the event clearly visible in the light of her decreasing golden aura. She slumped, closed her eyes, and Virginia caught her.

For a moment, she remained still, then she opened her eyes, which flashed golden before she sat up and spoke, “Thank you, Lady Stoddard. If you head towards that light yonder, that is where your carriage is waiting as Lord Stoddard prepared it. They should both come around soon and be well to travel, although Mr. Masters will be a little worse for wear for the trip. Please remember to remove your white clothing, Lady White. Also, please do not mention anything about me, if you can, or at least not until you are well away. Goodbye, and good luck.”

She stood, and a second later, the same mists as before rose about them, with living shapes moving inside. Although a mild wind blew, the mist behaved as if the wind had no domain on it; instead, it merged back into the forest floor, and the apparition was gone.

As the strange woman suggested, Humphrey came around immediately after, but they had to carry Roger. His petticoat bandage was no longer about him, and Humphrey knew that something had also occurred because Roger was breathing regularly and at ease. He was brilliant and immediately discerned that he had missed an unusual occurrence when he was unconscious. This was another of Humphrey’s traits that she loved about him. He knew when to shut up, and when she did not want to talk about a matter, he did not ask questions.

Humphrey and Virginia redressed into their prepared Footman’s livery, and when Roger woke, helped him into his travel clothing. He was their dandy master returning from Cambridge to London. Humphrey woke the coach driver Harry, who was already in his livery, and they were off. Inside the carriage, Roger slept under their cloaks, as comfortable in the carriage as Humphrey and Virginia could make it. Virginia could not shake the image of the woman from her mind, but then the memory faded as she worried about their escape and the others.

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