Friday, July 30, 2010

Lilly - Pink Martini

Recently a friend introduced me to Pink Martini, which is right here in Portland. I really enjoy some of their songs and I just thought I'd post one.

I'm trying to work on a couple songs and book reviews, but life is busy (I currently have sheep at the fair).
More to come, I assure you....

Lilly comes when you stop to call her
Lilly runs when you look away
Lilly leaves kisses on your collar
Lilly, Lilly, Lilly, Lilly, stay!

Lilly comes when you stop to call her
Lilly runs when you look away
Lilly leaves kisses on your collar
Lilly, Lilly, Lilly, Lilly, stay!

One day she passed him by
A twinkle in her eye
He said " she was meant for me!"
But when he turned around
He lost what he had found
Oh where can his Lilly be?

Lilly comes when you stop to call her
Lilly runs when you look away
Lilly leaves kisses on your collar
Lilly, Lilly, Lilly, Lilly, stay!

He searched the city streets
He tempted her with treats
But nobody stopped to taste them
Some are in his pocket
Some are in a locket
He couldn't bring himself to waste them

Ever since she's gone
Some days he can't go on
She runined for another
Pressed up against the glass
He prays that she will pass
Now he's living with his mother

Lilly comes when you stop to call her
Lilly runs when you look away
Lilly leaves kisses on your collar
Lilly, Lilly, Lilly, Lilly, stay!

Lilly comes when you stop to call her
Lilly runs when you look away
Lilly leaves kisses on your collar
Lilly, Lilly, Lilly, Lilly, stay!

Stay, stay, stay, stay's about a dog...

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Things Have Changed - Bob Dylan

This is for all you Bob Dylan fans. ;-)
Okay, so I like this song...and I've had the chorus stuck in my head for several days.
Some of the lines are amazing. It always makes me think of Ecclesiastes, but this song is really more human confusion mixed with human experience and without our Eternal Hope.

I think of an old man who's beginning to wonder what he is about anyways?
I wonder what Bob Dylan was thinking about when he wrote it....

As a piece of trivia too, this video got Tobey Maguire on the director radar. Bob Dylan met him and really wanted him for this video even though he was a nobody at the time.

A worried man with a worried mind
No one in front of me and nothing behind
There's a woman on my lap and she's drinking champagne
Got white skin, got assassin's eyes
I'm looking up into the sapphire tinted skies
I'm well dressed, waiting on the last train

[Bridge #1:]
Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose
Any minute now I'm expecting all hell to break loose

People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

This place ain't doing me any good
I'm in the wrong town, I should be in Hollywood
Just for a second there I thought I saw something move
Gonna take dancing lessons do the jitterbug rag
Ain't no shortcuts, gonna dress in drag
Only a fool in here would think he's got anything to prove

[Bridge #2]
Lot of water under the bridge, Lot of other stuff too
Don't get up gentlemen, I'm only passing through

People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

I've been walking forty miles of bad road
If the Bible is right, the world will explode
I've been trying to get as far away from myself as I can
Some things are too hot to touch
The human mind can only stand so much
You can't win with a losing hand

[Bridge #3]
Feel like falling in love with the first woman I meet
Putting her in a wheel barrow and wheeling her down the street

People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

I hurt easy, I just don't show it
You can hurt someone and not even know it
The next sixty seconds could be like an eternity
Gonna get low down, gonna fly high
All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie
I'm love with a woman who don't even appeal to me

[Bridge #4]
Mr. Jinx and Miss Lucy, they jumped in the lake
I'm not that eager to make a mistake

People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

~Bob Dylan

Thanks for listening,
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies.

~Elie Wiesel

Monday, July 26, 2010

Loving God with All Your Mind - Elizabeth George

Loving God with All Your Mind by Elizabeth George
Harvest House Publishers

Readability: 7
Impact: I hope 10!

Read Again:
Yes, I should
Recommend It: YES!

What to Expect:

Elizabeth George uses six Scripture passages, Philippians 4:8, Matthew 6:34, Philippians 3:13-14, Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11, and Romans 11: 33, towards direct application in our thoughts, focus, and walk with God.

Her books is comprised of six sections which are relatively self explanatory: Training your Thoughts, Winning over Worry, Pressing for the Prize, Counting on God's Goodness, Living out God's Plan, and Accepting the Unacceptable.

(There is nothing particularly girly about this book, but its written towards ladies.)

My Squib:

One of the things I appreciated the most about this book was its focus on focus. Something I've already been mulling over a lot.
She encourages us to set goals. Our short term ones and long term ones. And to think about, pray about, and write down our life time goals through the perspective of our ultimate purpose.
To press on towards the goal of the upward call in Christ Jesus!

This book is also an excellent book for anyone struggling with trust or difficult times in their lives. God is good! He may not always be understandable to us, but He is good!

I must say Elizabeth George's writing style has never been my favorite. In this instance, I admit, that she will hit a much wider audience by her conversational tone then she might by a more arty or distinctive tone. A few times she borders on many exclamation marks (and in extremely odd places) and 'dear readers', 'dear friends', 'beloved', etc...
That, however, certainly stands far behind in the shadow of her direct and inspiring encouragement from Scripture.

This was an amazing book that came from a friend (a very awesome friend) at just the right time that I needed it. Thanks Ellen. ;-)

From the Book:

"What ever things are true and real...meditate on these things. This is not advise or a suggestion, it is a command. It is a sin not to do this!"

"It's amazing that as we spend less time in melancholy introspection and more time thinking thoughts that are true and real, we have more energy for positive uses and constructive purposes."

"Seven words seem to say it all: 'God is in control of all things.'
That, dear reader, is the truth of Romans 8:28. And theres is no fine print to this promise. There are also no disclaimers.
All things and every thing -- every event, every person, all the past, all the present, all the future -- fall under God's jurisdiction."

"Focusing on Jesus is what enables us to give our wholehearted effort to the race of life. We can only keep on keeping on when we have our eyes on Him, our crucified and risen LORD."

The rest -- please read for yourself! I'm sure you will find a lot that will help you in your thoughts and walk with Christ!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Jesus and the Woman Taken in Adultery - John 7:53-8:11

We recently saw this in an art gallery at Canon Beach. I thought it was beautiful. I didn't get the artist's name and couldn't find it online, but I enjoyed their work. There was also a really neat painting incorporating all of the parables in a more medieval style. It was pretty neat.

They went each to his own house
1but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.
3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" 6This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.
7And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." 8And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.
9But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
11She said, "No one, Lord."
And Jesus said,
"Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rise Above

These are the lyrics of a song of The Trail Band's album "Immigrant Dreams". It's also on Marv and Rindy Ross' album Quarterflash before they became part of the Trail Band. I don't like the recording as much because Gale Newman adds a lot in harmony and the background music is much better. (Besides that Quarterflash is a little on the trashy meanness intended. The Rosses are awesome in the Trail Band.)

I'm not sure who wrote "Rise Above" and I couldn't find it available to listen to online, but its a neat song.

I always get the chorus stuck in my head...which certainly isn't a bad thing.

Rise Above

I sat on the edge of my grandmother's bed and combed her hair,
While the mother of Jesus looked on from a five-a-dime frame,
The three of us waited, the light outside faded, the moon came up,
While Grandmother dreamed up her wings to rise above.
She Said....

Love isn't having the things that we want,
It's wanting the things we have.
Life is deciding whether we cry or laugh,
Oh, remember you're part of the moon and the stars,
A part of those you love, oh, hold on to these things,
They're your wings to rise above.

A doctor in Texas wakes up again scared and he don't know why,
His life is a tangle of suture, money, and blood,
He says, "I tough without feeling, I fix without healing. I do not cry,
I can't find the will or the way to rise above.

Love isn't having the things that we want,
It's wanting the things we have.
Life is deciding whether we cry or laugh,
Oh, remember you're part of the moon and the stars,
A part of those you love, oh, hold on to these things,
They're your wings to rise above.

Love isn't having the things that we want,
It's wanting the things we have.
Life is deciding whether we cry or laugh,
Oh, remember you're part of the moon and the stars,
A part of those you love, oh, hold on to these things,
They're your wings to rise above.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Through the Eyes of My Heart - Me

This past Sunday we had an excellent sermon titled "It's a You Problem". You should listen to it. :-)

This song is a musing...and how different your life would be if we would fully realize this and keep it in mind.
It also made me wonder how you would look at yourself if you did not believe in man's total depravity. It would be so easy to make so many excuses. And...if you don't believe that you are the problem, what is? If you follow the thinking through someone had to start the problem. Does that mean creation itself is bad?

Anyways...I have two versions of this song. This is the version that does not have the correct stresses in the second lines of the verses. The other one would go much better to music, but it doesn't say what I mean as clearly... So I posted the one which isn't as "correct".

Through the Eyes of My Heart

Cast around for an excuse
Hide behind someone’s monster
Only find blackness
Blackness through the eyes of my heart

There is no sword threatening
There is no gun compelling
Only find blackness
Blackness through the eyes of my heart

Hid behind someone’s monster
It can never hide my own
Only find blackness
Blackness through the eyes of my heart

There is no ground for defense
The monster is within
Only find blackness
Blackness through the eyes of my heart

There is a battle to fight
There is a banner to hold
Only quell blackness
Place the standard on my heart

© Miss Pickwickian

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Monday, July 19, 2010

Night - Elie Wiesel

Night by Elie Wiesel
Translated by Marion Wiesel

Hill and Wang

Rating: 10
Readability: The style is very readable, but the content is sometimes hard to read.
Impact: 9

Read it Again: Yes
Recommend it: Yes

What to Expect

A heart-rending, poignant memoir of a teenage boy during the holocaust.

This book is brutal in its portrayal of brutality.
It is certainly not for the faint hearted. It gets an R rating for violence, disturbing images, and some other material.
Having said that, it is not an inappropriate book. I highly recommend it. Some of it is disturbing, but it's subject matter is disturbing. To try to make it undisturbing would be unforgivable.

Elie Wiesel is now a best selling author of over 55 books. This is his first. His testimony to the world.

My Squib

I hardly know what to say about this book.

I feel guilty admiring his writing style (even after it has survived translation), but the truth is, its amazing. I was so struck by the elegant prose in the introduction that I read it three times and then immediately felt guilty for admiring it so much when it deals with the subject matter.

The main book text is not as fluid and amazing as the introduction, but his style fits perfectly with his story. It is heart wrenching and honest.

This is not a happy book, but I highly recommend it. There is much to learn from such a slim, 100 page volume.

One thing that did strike me was how far Jews have come from the OT even and how different everything would be without Christ. I would never have the stamina and will to continue living that this sixteen year old boy does if I did not have hope in Jesus.

I quoted a section of the forward by a French Christian who met the author before the book was written.
Wiesel, a reporter at the time, was conducting an interview with him on his reaction and memories from the war. Francois Mauriac, the French Christian, spoke of a memory of the eyes of starving Jewish children staring from a moving train car. Wiesel replied, "I was one of those children." Thus started their relationship.
Mauriac's reaction and wish for the Jews to have known and recognized Christ as Lord, spoke strait to me. You can see the quote below.

Please read the quotes. They say much more then I can.

From the Book

Okay, so I took a lot of quotes from this book. I wanted a piece of the intro because it was so beautifully profound. I took a piece of the forward because it took my emotions and thoughts towards this story from a Christian perspective and put them into better words. I took pieces from the book so you actually see what it was like. And I took pieces from Elie Wiesel's Peace Prize speech because he is so amazingly quotable. I do not necessarily agree with everything Wiesel says, but his views on indifference spoke right to me.

Please read the quotes. They will give you much more then my review can. Or, just pick up the book and read....

-From the introduction to the new edition-

"If in my lifetime I was to write only one book, this would be the one.
Just as our past lingers in the present, all my writings after Night, including those that deal with biblical, Talmudic, or Hasidic themes, profoundly bear its stamp, and cannot be understood if one has not read this very first of my works.
Why did I write it?
Did I write it so as not to go mad, or on the contrary, to go mad in order to understand the nature of madness, the immense, terrifying madness that erupted in history and the conscience of mankind?
Was it to leave behind a legacy of words, of memories, to help prevent history from repeating itself?
Or was it simply to preserve a record of the ordeal I endured as an adolescent, at an age when one's knowledge of death and evil should be limited to what one discovers in literature?
There are those that tell me that I survived in order to write this text. I am not convinced. I do not know how I survived: I was weak, rather shy; I did nothing to save myself. A miracle? Certainly not. If heaven could or would perform a miracle for me, why not for others more deserving than myself. It was nothing more than chance. However, having survived, I needed to give some meaning to my survival. Was it to protect the meaning that I set to paper an experience in which nothing made sense?
In retrospect I must confess that I do not know, or no longer know, what I wanted to achieve with my words. I only know that without this testimony, my life as a writer - or my life, period - would not have become what it is: that of a witness who believes he has a moral obligation to try and prevent the enemy from enjoying one last victory by allowing his crimes to be erased from human memory....

And yet, having lived through this experience, one could not keep silent no matter how difficult, if not impossible, it was to speak.
And so I persevered. And trusted the silence that envelops and transcends words. Knowing all the while that anyone of the fields of ashes in Birkenau carries more weight then all the testimonies about Birkenau. For despite all my attempts to articulate the unspeakable, 'it' is still not right....

Sometimes I am asked if I know 'the response to Auschwitz'; I answer that not only do I know it, but that I don't even know if a tragedy of this magnitude has a response. What I do know is that theres is a 'response' in responsibility. When we speak of this era of evil and darkness so close and yet so distant, 'responsibility' is the key word.
The witness has forced himself to testify. For the youth of today, for the children who will be born tomorrow. He does not want his past to become their future.

~Introduction to the New Translation by Elie Wiesel

-From the forward by Francois Mauriac-

"And I, who believe that God is love, what answer was there to give my young interlocutor whose dark eyes still held the reflection of the angelic sadness that had appeared one day on the face of a hanged child?
What did I say to him?
Did I speak to him of that other Jew, this crucified brother who perhaps resembled him and whose cross conquered the world?
Did I explain to him that what had been a stumbling block for his faith had become a cornerstone for mine.
And that the connection between the cross and human suffering remains, in my view, the key to the unfathomable mystery in which the faith of his childhood was lost? And yet, Zion has risen up again out of the crematoria and the slaughterhouses. The Jewish nation has been resurrected from among its thousands of dead. It is they who have given it new life.
We do not know the worth of one single drop of blood, one single tear. All is grace. If the Almighty is the Almighty, the last word of each of us belongs to Him.
That is what I should have said to the Jewish child. But all I could do was embrace him and weep."
~From the Forward by Francois Mauriac

-From the Book Text-

"The night was gone. The morning star was shining in the sky. I too had become a completely different person. The student of the Talmud, the child that I was, had been consumed in the flames. There remained only a shape that looked like me. A dark flame had entered my soul and devoured. it."

" 'I've got more faith in Hitler than anyone else. He's the only one who's kept his promises, all his promises to the Jewish people.' "

"I shall never forget Juliek. How could I forget that concert given before an audience of the dead and dying? Even today, when I hear that particular piece of Beethoven, my eyes close and out of the darkness emerges the male and melancholy face of my polish comrade bidding farewell to an audience of dying men."

"From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me."

-From Elie Wiesel's Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance speech 1986

"But I have faith. Faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and even in His creation. Without it no action would be possible. And action is the only remedy to indifference, the most insidious danger of all...

And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.
And then I explain to him how naive we were, that the world di know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.
We must take sides.
Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

~From the Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech by Elie Wiesel 1986

Friday, July 16, 2010

By it I See Everything Else

I stole this quote of my brother's profile because it is absolutely amazing. So, yeah...he was the one who found it. :-)

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
~ C. S. Lewis

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Taste of "Where Loyalties Lie" - Me

There is a lot in the works, but one of my biggest projects is my wanna-be novel, Where Loyalties Lie. I've been working on it for a long time (not's been over five years).

I'm not planning on posting a lot of it up here, but I want to post the prologue and first two chapters to, hopefully, whet your appetite.
I think it will help motivate me.
I've also been trying to get five manageable pages together for OCW Conference critic class.

I know its a chunk, but I hope its worth it. It would make me immeasurably happy if you would read through it.
If you find it hard to read off the blog I would be delighted to send you a copy.
I welcome feedback and comments.

Thanks so much for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Where Loyalties Lie
©Miss Pickwickian


In a little house in a big country, ruled by Duke EMorrias, there was a little boy in a little room.
It was a dark room and it was a dark boy.
He didn’t mind. Dark was his favorite color.

In his town he had no name.
He was just another fatherless child of a disreputable woman. He didn’t even have the decency of a beggar.
No one knew him.

In twenty years every man would know him.

In thirty, only one man would remember him.

Chapter One

Danadar was as sprawling and erratic as the heir to the throne. It tended to evoke the same feelings. It was impossible to be moderate. It was either hated vehemently or loved devotedly.

As for Ramirez, he desliked both the heir and his castle.
This was his first encounter with Danadar’s ancient hallways, and anything that could make him feel so incompetent was certainly to be despised. He had yet to meet the heir, but by nature of the heir’s place of birth, Ramirez knew he would be a very ugly, wretched, young man.
Being on Vawnbrecht land made him feel dirty. He wanted to go home to a plain and simple existence -- to barracks of black and gray, to a life of calm, rational war for war’s sake. No one had come to Vawnbrecht for over a 100 years. Why now? Why him?

His decided gloom recoiled at a ring of laughter echoing off some centuries-old wall. The sporadic clomp of shoes on old stones promised the arrival of someone. At least that might mean directions out of this hole. Happy or sober, Vawnbrecht or not, it would be a someone to be interminably grateful for.
He was unforgivably shocked to suddenly find himself around a corner and in the presence of two very bright-faced merry makers. A laughing girl leaned against the wall, and at her feet lay a boy. Or was it a man? Perhaps he was still stuck somewhere in-between.
Ramirez straightened his collar. He was obviously unnoticed, and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be. A girl and a boy dancing and laughing smacked of romance-- something Ramirez would avoid at all costs.
He turned, but as he did, the boy snapped up from the ground. Ramirez could immediately see that the boy was not a boy. He was a man whether his years decreed it or not. It wasn’t the impressive array of weaponry. It was the soul that could be seen in his face. For a moment Ramirez thought the expression of dislike must be a mirror of his own, but it faded.
The girl was still dawdling around the door of womanhood. Still innocently unaware of how beautiful she was. “Can we help you?” She stood away from the wall.
“No.” Ramirez turned again to disappear behind the corner. He didn’t think such a likable young lady could be safe if she was born in Vawnbrecht.
“You’re lost.”
Ramirez didn’t like the sound in the man’s voice at all. To deny would be no use. Why else would he be turning back to the way he came? And, he had the disturbing feeling that this boy-man could see into himself as Ramirez had seen, just for a moment, in the boy’s solemn face.
Ramirez tried what he thought could pass as a smile. “Yes, can you point me towards the hall?”
The girl smiled much more genuinely. “We’ll take you there.”
Ramirez was surprised to be pleased. “Thank you.”
The couple began to walk back the way Ramirez had come. How embarrassing.

“You are one of the embassy.”
Ramirez didn’t like it how the man asked questions like statements.
Yes, he was one of the embassy. He’d come because the Duke, Eldine, Edion, and Lord Bithron had all thought it the thing to do. But why? The heir could surely travel to their country with his own retinue. It would certainly be safer.
He stifled his questions and nodded. “Yes, Ramirez Kenzel.” He flinched and offered his hand.
The frowning wrinkles on the soldier’s forehead smoothed. “Judvor Lewq.”
Lewq. Edion would know all about the name, but it created no more than a slight ripple in Ramirez head. He knew he’d heard it, but that was all.
“And this is Lady Lilly Ephramean.”
That created a wave. Lilly Ephramean belonged to the heir. She possessed the richest fortune in both countries. She had as much right to the Vawnbrecht throne as anyone. Ramirez couldn’t believe that he’d almost let himself admire her. But even more than his surprise in himself, he was surprised by this man, Judvor Lewq. What was anyone doing laughing and dancing in a prehistoric hallway with another’s intended?

Ramirez had always known Edion was right. Romance and love were nothing anyone should trifle with. Complications should always be avoided. Maybe the Vawnbrecht royalty wouldn’t be so hard to topple after all.

Ramirez could not believe the inefficiency of Vawnbrecht celebration. It was hours into the feast and nothing had been accomplished besides extensive eating and tireless drinking. He walked over to Edion.
“It will soon be over.” Edion grinned and motioned for his brother to take a seat. “I can see you are enjoying yourself.”
Ramirez sat. The chair was excessively cushioned.
Edion leaned forward from his lounging position and peered at Ramirez. “You look a bit peaked. Have you eaten?”
Ramirez straightened his collar and shook his head.
“What a snob you are. It’s plundering. It’s not like you’re accepting hospitality.” He reached for a nearby platter. “I enjoyed most of these, but I’m afraid I couldn’t manage these foreign things.” He cautiously prodded the small vegetable appetizers. “Green isn’t exactly my color. Perhaps you can manage them?” He took a long puff on his pipe. “Wine then? It’s very good.”
Edion would know. He enjoyed a good drink, or two, or three. Ramirez knew no one who could appreciate so much alcohol and remain sober every day of his life.
Edion placed the platter on Ramirez’ lap and recoiled into the depths of his arm chair. “Eat up.”
Ramirez didn’t feel like grazing on greenery. Instead he asked that question that was on his mind. “What do you know about Judvor Lewq?”
Edion closed his eyes for several moments and enjoyed his pipe. “Hmmm…There is such a great number of Lewqs. Related to the Ephrameans in some way, distantly maybe.” He reached for his glass. “Wilken Lewq is Lady Ephramean’s uncle, and he has numerous sons. I don’t think this Judvor fellow is one of them. If I recall correctly he has no money or title or parents either. Quite touching, really.” He stirred his wine with a smoky finger.
Edion didn’t think it was any more touching than Ramirez. It was nearly the same story as their own, only their parents had created a great deal more trouble then just not being there. But then…all that was more common in their country. Vawnbrecht was just a little too high and mighty to recognize talent in everyday people.
“Meet anyone else interesting?”
Ramirez removed the platter from his lap. “Only Lady Ephramean.”
“Only Lady Ephramean. And how did you like her?” Edion slumped back in his chair.
“I don’t know.”
“A very good and safe answer.” Edion grinned. “She’s too young to be completely spoiled by being female.” He chuckled. “You haven’t met the heir then?”
Ramirez shook his head. He didn’t really want to.
“Well, you will.” Edion pointed a long finger. “Here he comes.”
The man, the very young man, walking towards them was crammed into an ill-fitting brown suit. A suit that encompassed him with such affection that it gave the immediate appearance of a devotion lasting far beyond the natural course of time. He ambled with poise, if ambling can be done so. A grace simply derived from the comfortable, if unusual, fit of his position. Something his suit had yet to learn.
Edion remained in the folds of his chair but motioned Ramirez to stand. “DeElliot, may I introduce my brother and fellow captain? Ramirez Kenzel.”
The young man gave a slight bow and cock-eyed smile. “Very pleased.”
Edion made a sweeping motion. “Ramirez, Lord Dietrich DeElliot, heir to Vawnbrecht.”
Ramirez was surprised to find that the heir’s hand shake was firm and riddled with calluses.
“I’m glad you could come. I look forward to getting to know you all.”
Ramirez wished he could believe that this aristocrat was just being polite, but he couldn’t. However ridiculous his ill chosen attire, wild red hair, and unabashedly over-grown limbs, Lord Dietrich DeElliot was not pretentious. Disliking these Vawnbrechtians was becoming more difficult then Ramirez had imagined.
“You have met my right hand, Judvor Lewq.”
Ramirez turned to notice his earlier acquaintance. Judvor’s blonde head only reached to DeElliot’s shoulder, but that didn’t matter much. He was as thick and forbidding as any seasoned soldier with eyes as bold as Ramirez imagined his hand when challenged.
Ramirez nodded.
DeElliot narrowed his eyes. “You ever talk?”
Ramirez caught a grin escaping Judvor’s tight lips. It made him feel immeasurably stupid.
Edion snorted and sat up from his cushions. “He talks, but not half so much has he thinks, which is something he overdoes. He indulges in it for hours at a time.” He thrust his pipe back in his mouth and spoke around it. “Please join us.”
“Thank you. I always welcome hospitality in my own house.” DeElliot chuckled and instead of taking a chair, perched on a heavy stone table edge.

Ramirez wondered if Dietrich DeElliot and Judvor Lewq had half as much decided hatred for his own countryman as he did for theirs.
Judvor Lewq the right hand of the heir? And Judvor had already told DeElliot about their encounter. It all seemed very odd.
If he had a woman, which he was sure he never would, at least not with Edion hissing warnings in his ears, he would never let any man get as close to his as this Judvor seemed to be. But his woman would never dance and laugh down ridiculous hallways. Or, he sighed, be half as beautiful, or half as rich, as Lilly Ephramean.
He looked back up at DeElliot, who was swinging his lanky appendages underneath the table. “Your brother tells me you have no appreciation for poetry or art or writing or thrilling stories, but that you do have a gigantic appreciation for weaponry and riding and all that.”
Ramirez nodded. “Reduced appreciation for all the former compared to my brother, but enthusiasm for the latter.”
“But appreciation for vocabulary, I see.” He smiled. “Well, you should have a lot to discuss with Judvor. Except of course, he doesn’t need so much weaponry, pistols, riffles and all that.” He raised his eyebrows. “He is deadly with his bare hands.” He made a ripping sound.
Ramirez didn’t doubt it. The young man in question remained deadpan.
DeElliot reached for a glass. Ramirez had the uneasy feeling that it was not unused, but DeElliot tried it enthusiastically. “I am looking forward to learning all your fighting ways.”
Ramirez was sure that the greater part of his own country would be happy to show him their way of fighting. Why was DeElliot coming into the enemy’s land so willingly? Didn’t he know there was an underlying war? The DeElliots might own land in both countries, but that was only going to add to his unpopularity. Dietrich DeElliot should stay right here in his absurd medieval castle and prepare for the chaos that would come during his reign.
DeElliot set his adopted glass down and spoke with concern. “Is he a mute?”
Edion chuckled, but Ramirez was saved from further discussion by a hoard of riotous children. They swarmed around DeElliot, and like ants, began crawling up assorted limbs. Ramirez stepped back as DeElliot began to sway. He was laughing. “Easy, all of you!”
Ramirez half-heartedly wondered if he should assist, but Judvor seemed unmoved and unsurprised.
DeElliot tottered into the crowd followed by shrieking boys who had not found an appendage from which to swing.

“Captain Judvor Lewq?”
Ramirez turned back around to see Lord Bithron smiling his forged smile at the Vawnbrechtian soldier.
“No title.” Judvor didn’t offer his hand. “Just Judvor Lewq.”
I beg your pardon. I assumed someone so close to the future king…” Lord Bithron tightened his lips. “Well, anyways. It doesn’t matter.”
“He has never owed me anything.” If Judvor was a dog-- and he would make a very good bulldog-- his response would only have been a growl.
“I beg your pardon.” Lord Bithron smoothed a hand through his dark hair. “I was merely making conversation.”
“Don’t.” Judvor turned.
Edion raised his eyebrows at Ramirez. It was refreshing to hear anyone being rude to Lord Bithron. But Lord Bithron was not one to start a conversation without a purpose.
“I hate to trouble you, but I really would like a word in private.”
Judvor gave a searing frown.
Bithron motioned towards the nearest hall door. “You will be interested in what I have to say.”

Ramirez sat back down and watched the door slowly swing closed. “What would he want?”
Edion had closed his eyes. “Hmm…You know. Discord, unhappiness, power, hate, wickedness. I don’t think you have much to worry about. I don’t imagine Judvor Lewq to be the sort of young man to listen to most of his venom.”
Ramirez wished Lord Bithron hadn’t come. Or that he hadn’t come. He didn’t like to be associated with such a man. Besides, he wore the most peculiar clothing and never looked neat. Why couldn’t he wear a tailored black suit?

But if Ramirez really asked himself if he wished he’d stayed behind, he would answer that he didn’t. He and Edion were captains of the army and were loyal to their duke, but even more loyal to Eldine. And Eldine had wished them to come.

Chapter Two

Judvor was more punctual for Dietrich’s departure than Dietrich himself. He stood, arms clasped behind his back, staring ahead at a cold stone wall. Ramirez didn’t need to wonder if they would startle him. For all he knew, Judvor might be hiding another set of eyes underneath the shoulder length hair on his head.
Edion removed his pipe from his coat. It was never too early to spend quality time with it. “Good morning.”
Judvor grunted and turned. His face was expressionless, but the purple encircling his eyes betrayed a sleepless night.
Ramriez wondered if he’d even left the dining floor.
“You’re not coming?”
Judvor shook his head, but motioned to the trunk on the floor. “Just things I don’t want to see him leave the country without.”
Edion shrugged. “More heavy weaponry?”
Judvor was serious. “Yes.”
Edion nodded congenially and peeped down the hallway to see if Dietrich was in sight.
Ramirez leaned against the wall. His tired eyelids told him that Vawnbrechtians had no idea what a decent hour was. A long and early journey was infinitely more important then partying until the early hours of the morning.

“My apologies for the delay.” DeElliot was smiling around the bag, pistol, and crate he was hauling.
“I’m sure the duke will be forgiving.” Edion tapped out his pipe.
“Excellent.” Dietrich came to a halt and let his shoulder bag slide. “We don’t want any bad beginnings. I have such an assortment of relatives to bid farewell, I really hadn’t been able to talk to my parents until this morning.” He turned distractedly. “Judvor, you look horrible. Where is Lilly?”
“Coming.” Judvor motioned DeElliot to the trunk. “Take this with you.”
“Thank you.” Deitrich didn’t look in it, but he didn’t seem to be curious.
They all stood silent for a moment, and then Judvor reached inside his jacket. Gently in his rough hands he pulled forth a sheathed ivory-handled knife.
“Oh no, Judvor.” Dietrich grew serious and waved a hand. “Keep it.”
Judvor held it forward. “I know you won’t need something like this, but take it with you.” He almost smiled. “I know you’ll come back with it, or I’ll have to hunt you down.”
“No.” Dietrich shook his head. “You don’t need to worry.”
Judvor opened his mouth in protest, but their attention was turned to a hallway and the clatter of hurrying feet.
“I’m sorry I’m late.” Lady Lilly Ephramean was breathless.
Dietrich took her arm. “You aren’t late.”
Edion raised his eyebrows and puffed his pipe back into life.
Lilly was free of her finery of the night before and instead wore a plain black skirt and white blouse. Her hair was simply, and probably hurriedly, pulled back to fall in waves just below her shoulders. There was nothing of the heiress of Vawnbrecht anywhere on her, except of course, the Ephramean crest on her finger that marked her as the richest individual in her country.
Ramirez glanced at Judvor, but Judvor was crouching down and tucking the knife into DeElliot’s overstuffed bag. If Judvor had any admiration for the girl and her fortune he had time to brew over it after DeElliot’s departure.
“All of you gather around.” Dietrich motioned for them all to come closer.
Ramirez hoped there wouldn’t be any bursts of affection. He was already uncomfortable.
“I want the three of you to witness.” He turned to Judvor. “You are my most loyal and oldest friend. I wish you were coming with me for my own comfort’s sake, but I’m glad you’ve agreed to stay.” He smiled down at Lilly. Ramirez was afraid she was about to cry and looked away. “I have something very precious that needs to be guarded here.”
Ramirez loosened his collar. Yes, she was very precious indeed. She could put money back into Vawnbrecht royalty, but this girl was well deceived if that was all DeElliot cared about.
Dietrich put his hand on Judvor’s thick shoulder. “You are the only man in the world I would trust with such a charge. I know you will guard her even better than I could.” He thwacked he friend’s back and straightened.
Ramirez was afraid that the heir was suppressing a sniff.
“And,” DeElliot turned back to Edion and Ramirez. “You, I hope, will be my new friends. And I trust, as gentlemen, you will keep your word and help me return safely.” He smiled at Lilly’s worried look. “Not that I shall need much help.”
He took Lilly’s hands and enveloped them in his long, rough fingers. “Now, I want you to know, my dear, that no matter what happens, I am coming right back here.” He pulled his crest of his finger and slid it on hers. It swung loosely. “I know I’m a young good-for-nothing and that I don’t know much and haven’t seen or done much. But one thing I’m going to do before I die is marry you. We’ll live right here and have plenty of room for a herd of children. And you’ll be the prettiest , most beautiful and patient wife in the world, even when you’re so old neither of us can walk up stairs.”
Lilly wiped her eyes with her white sleeve. She bent and slipped her own ring off and pushed it onto his finger, it lodged just above his knuckle. Her laugh came through a sob.
He tilted her chin up and smiled. “Don’t worry, I’m coming back.”
She took his hand and gently kissed it. “I know .”

DeElliot and Judvor shouldered his bags and hauled his trunks towards the door. Ramirez lingered. He wanted to say something reassuring to Dietrich’s lady. She stood confident, but her stance was shaken by quiet sobs. There was nothing reassuring to say. Ramirez and Edion knew that if there was anything that they or Eldine could do, Dietrich would not be coming back. At least not be coming back to claim his crown and his intended and her fortune.
He turned to leave, feeling remarkably stupid. Why had he ever let himself sympathize with the lives of his enemies? And why had he allowed himself to admire Lilly Ephramean?
Before he could escape through the door he was stopped by a cool hand on his arm. Lilly looked up with shinning eyes. “You’ll make sure he comes back.”
Ramirez nodded.
He knew he couldn’t, but he nodded.

©Miss Pickwickian