It was morning when Lucille woke up, not long after dawn, but she didn’t really remember going to sleep. She’d written in her Quiaran journal for what felt like hours, trying to get her head around everything that had happened. Kaito was living on Quiar in the form of a fox. When she’d spoken to Carver about it all they were both certain they’d never see Kaito again. He had the sense to get as far away from Athare as he could, which was exactly what he’d done, and onto one of the safest worlds he could have found. The only reason she’d known the fox was Kaito was the eyes. Even though he’d been able to disguise everything else he hadn’t been able to disguise them.
They’d both changed since Kaito’s escape. Back then she’d been close to doing her last exam, so she hadn’t been a Walker, while Kaito had been a true Walker even before she knew what one was and that meant he kept a lot of secrets from her. She didn’t blame him, any more than she blamed Carver. If they’d told her back then that there were three types of Walker she wouldn’t have believed them. Her need to believe in the Council would have blinded her to the truth of what they were saying and there was every possibility that she might have turned them in. Once she realised they were telling the truth she’d have felt guilty about the choice she’d made, but it would have been too late. Kaito, Carver, and Azure would have all been arrested, and none of them would have been permitted to travel the worlds ever again.
Occasionally Lucille couldn’t help wondering how different her life would have been if she’d made different choices. What she would have been if she hadn’t followed her mother and grandmother into being a Walker. From what she knew of her family tree it was normal for the eldest daughter to follow in her mother’s footsteps and it seemed likely that there had always been at least one woman from her family on the Council. Both she and her grandmother had places, even though her mother had made the decision to walk away. As she thought that she knew that she needed to work out why they’d made different decisions and if there was a chance her grandmother was a true Walker.
Being a Walker was the only thing Lucille had ever wanted. That was why she was allowed to start her studies at nine, although she was certain her grandmother had also pulled some strings. It meant she was the youngest Walker in the history of the Council to have thirty-four tattoos and the youngest Walker on the Council. She was special, but learning about the Council, about being a Walker, made her wish she’d waited, not that it would have been something she could have learnt on the outside. Too many Walkers believed that the system of training they used for new Walkers worked for that to change any time soon.
Pushing away the useless thoughts Lucille slipped out of the bed. It was a nice bed, a comfortable bed, and she was tempted to spend the rest of the day in there, because she was meant to be on holiday. She’d been granted a week off for the first time since she’d become a Walker, which had turned into a search for something she’d never expected to see on Quiar. Even though she knew that there were bad people everywhere she’d never thought she’d run into something like a criminal syndicate on one of her favourite worlds. Yet there she was in the middle of an investigation.
Walkers weren’t trained to do anything more than watch, really. They mostly wrote the histories of the worlds, although Quiar was one they knew very little about, and that was part of the reason Lucille kept a journal. Remembering everything in detail wasn’t easy, especially as there were things she kept from the Council. Kaito had become one of them, because his arrest wouldn’t do anyone any good at all. She picked out a clean set of clothes from her bag, thankful that Bertram’s aunt had helped her to wash the dirty clothes, and tried to work out how long it would be until she didn’t have anything to wear.
There was a knock on the door as Lucille pulled her top over her head. She tightened the laces at the top before walking over to answer it and was unsurprised to see Peric standing there, smiling. “Morning, Lucille,” he said, and she was glad to see the pain gone from his eyes.
“Morning. I take it I’m late for breakfast.”
Peric shook his head. “Meriweather serves breakfast pretty much all day and night, because everyone here is a little different. I just wanted to check on you.”
“You seem a little conflicted.”
“My job makes me permanently conflicted. I’m always trying to work out the best way to do the job I was given without the Council finding out that I’m really not following their rules and now I know that Kai’s here…” She shook her head. “This all seemed so easy from the outside and now I find have to find my own way of doing things that make it seem like I’m doing everything I should be without worrying the Council.”
“How do you think you’re doing?”
“Well, I’m still a Walker so I must be doing something right.” Lucille bit her lip. “I never knew why Kai, Carver and Azure had warrants out for their arrest. They were always so careful and I never knew that they were true Walkers, at least not until Carver told me, so I just don’t know if I can ever do enough to keep myself safe.”
“There was something you were talking about yesterday that interest me: Riordan and his descendants.”
Lucille nodded. “Riordan was the fae who found the first Walker, Tegan. She was a natural and was searching for her brother, who disappeared through one of the natural doors, but back then there was no knowledge of the natural doors. He became the fae in charge of the Council back then and from what I know of him it would have been a very different Council to the one we have now. He would still have had to compromise with the fae, which is why there are so many of them on the Council, but if his descendants are in control they aren’t anything like him.”
“Unless he or she knows about the true Moonjumpers. What if there’s a reason for the arrest warrants, but it isn’t a reason you would ever think of.”
“So what you’re saying is that maybe the arrest warrants are going out to make certain that as many of the true Walkers are safe as possible?” Lucille thought for a moment, because it did seem a plausible theory. “I don’t know, Peric. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but for it to happen…” She shook her head. “It would mean the leader of the Council was actively working against them.”
“Or you could see it as them actively working for the true Moonjumpers.”
“If I remember correctly Tegan and Riordan did handfast each other for a number of years. The descendant of Riordan may also be the descendant of Tegan, which could make them a natural Walker.” Lucille ran a hand though her hair, trying to remind herself to use Moonjumper. Peric and Bertram were used to her forgetting, but she didn’t want to do that around the others, because they might not know the name the Walkers used for themselves. “If they are a natural Moonjumper it may well be that they are attempting to change things in the only way they can, or we could be reading too much into a rumour. The leader of the Council may well be someone else.”
“Who makes up the Council?”
“At the moment there’s basically two Councils: one that meets every week, although because the majority of us are Moonjumpers there can be as few as four people there, and one that meets every six months. That’s the main Council so that’s when the fae turn up. I’ve never met the leader of the Council, because they never come to the meetings, instead choosing to wait for reports from their deputies. Unfortunately no one knows who their deputies are either.” Lucille smiled. “One could even be my grandmother. It’s all a bit weird really, but it’s something I’ve got used to over the years.” She shook her head, remembering the she hadn’t answered Peric’s question. “In the main Council there are twenty-four members. The leader of the Council, two Yellows, two Blues, two Greens, two Silvers, two Blacks, and then two other fae, who change based on some system no one understands, make up the fae side of the Council. For the other races there’s one of each of the races who were created on Athare, six elder Moonjumpers, my grandmother, and me.”
“Who makes the decisions?”
“Technically we’re a democracy, so it should be all of us, but mostly it’s the fae and they ignore almost everything that we say because we’re not fae. Some are different, they listen, but they don’t have enough of a voice.”
“Why are they only six elder Moonjumpers?”
Pulling the door shut behind her Lucille started walking along the corridor as she said, “Partly because Moonjumpers often don’t spend their whole lives travelling the worlds. The elder Moonjumpers chose to carry on travelling even though they have children and grandchildren, but not all of the elder Moonjumpers are on the Council. Some chose to teach, others chose to live in the Moonjumper buildings all around the Web, and the rest are in charge of making sure that the histories are written.”
“On most of the worlds of the Web there are Moonjumper buildings where we can stay when we’re spending time on the world. They’re neutral territory, so if the races of the worlds have problems they can come to us for advice even though we aren’t permitted to get involved. According to our history they were set up by Riordan and Tegan, because they planned for the Moonjumpers to do more than they do now. It was up to the races of the world if they wanted one or not and Quiar didn’t want one, because I would mean people like me sticking their nose in where it wasn’t wanted.” Lucille shrugged. “I think things may have changed now, at least a little, but the Moonjumper buildings were placed during a time of great upheaval.”
“I’m surprised Mothar didn’t want one.”
“Want what?” Sini asked as they walked into the breakfast room.
“A Moonjumper building,” Peric said.
“They knew that the Moonjumpers weren’t all going to be fae and they worship the fae, not the Moonjumperss.”
“There are fae Moonjumpers?”
“A few, but I think the majority of them would be naturals and probably keeping their mouths shut about what they are. The fae don’t, in general, like the Moonjumpers, even those they have created, because it reminds them that they weren’t in control of everything when they created the worlds.”
“Aren’t all the fae who first created the worlds dead?” Bertram asked.
“I believe they are, but the fae have much longer lifespans than most of the races they created and it’s possible that some of the younger fae from that time may still be alive. One thing we do know is that living here has lengthened the life span of the fae, probably because of the amount of magic the worlds create, and there are rumours that Riordan might even be alive now.”
Lucille smiled as she sat down at a table where Bertram and Sini had already made themselves comfortable. “Unless he decides to come forward and show us that the rumours are true I think there will always be someone hoping that he’s still alive, planning on taking over the Council so he can make it what he wanted it to be rather than what it is now.”
“Do you think he’s still alive?”
“I doubt it very much. He was relatively young when the fae arrived on Athare, but if he was still alive now he’d be nearly three thousand years old.”
“Unless he could travel through time.”
“With magic anything is possible.” Lucille knew that for a fact, but it wasn’t something she ever really talked about because she promised a lovely man she’d only tell her most trusted colleagues. “There is a chance that Riordan found a door and travelled to another time, but even if he did how could he prove who he really was?”