Learning Experiences

by Rowan Llewellyn

The only problem with trying to find information, Dylan thought to himself as he looked up from the computer monitor and rubbed his eyes, is that it can be so devilishly hard to find. Several hours spent perusing the many books of his library had failed to yield the particular bit of data he sought, so he had spent the last couple hours searching the much, much wider database called the internet. And while many felt that the internet was an unwieldy, confusing thing, he rather enjoyed searching it; one never knew what one might uncover by accident when looking for something else entirely.

And such was the case this particular search. While it had not yet caught on in popularity with the general public, certain subgroups had discovered that information could be quickly called up and passed along to other, like-minded folk.

Mages were one of those particular subgroups, and Dylan apDaffyd Gwydion was a mage.

A long trail of paper dangled behind the printer beside him; spoils of this particular battle. While his main goal had eluded him, the particular gem that appeared serendipitously would solve another problem that plagued him currently. It had taken over three hours to find even that, and he wondered if the team that was working on creating a new segment for the internet that was to be called the "world wide web" and the programs that would facilitate its access would make searches like this easier or even harder still. He glanced at his watch noting that he still had time to take a quick nap before the moon would rise once more.

With a creaking that was part chair, part his back, he stood up and pulled free the papers; folding them up as he headed back down the hallway to his bedroom. He'd skim through it once more before he slept...

Miriya rose from the table and stretched her arms above her head. While the motion did not do anything to limber her up as it did her former Mistress and fellow slave from years untold back, she had learned the action from watching them awakening, it did serve to give her a few moments to get reoriented after becoming reanimate. And it also told her that the work this new Master, who called himself Dylan, had done a very thorough job of repairing her form. It took her a moment longer to realise that what was unusual was that he was not sitting on the stool beside her table. Perhaps it was not so hard to imagine, though, she thought. He had completed the repairs and she was intact once again. He did not need to spend any more time on her than that.

It was her duty to serve him, now.

So, while there was enough in this one room to hold her curiosity for a very long time, such as the little box that spoke in many voices at times and gave forth unusual music at other times and the strange lights that did not require the touch of a lighting stick to set a candle or lantern wick alight, she left the room to seek her new Master out. The floor of the room was hard as stone and very smooth, yet it did not look like the polished marble that had adorned the floors in some of Mistress' chambers. When she reached the hall, though, the floor became covered with a soft, coloured material that cushioned her feet and deadened the sound of her steps.

A few minutes searching, and then a bit of helpful snoring, resulted in Miriya finding Master's bedchamber. The door was closed but not locked, so she opened it; finding him asleep beneath the covers of a large bed. She smiled, glad that he was asleep. While she had not known him for long, she could read faces well enough that she could see the lines and circles around his eyes. He had spent far too much time working on her and had neglected his own well-being for too long. Mistress would not have hurt herself so much for her benefit though she would have repaired her if she felt Miriya merited the treatment...

She had always felt that way in the past...

Miriya winced at the painful memory of flames and smoke and stench. Mistress was gone; gone to a place where Miriya could not follow. Now it was time to serve Master. She made her way quietly to the bed , not desiring to disturb his slumber. A covering similar to the hall's but a bit softer aided her stealth. Moonlight streamed through the window, limning her nude form with its silvery glow as she came closer to the bed. Master lay on his side nearly to the edge of the bed opposite her; leaving plenty of room for Miriya and, perhaps, even another of her size. Master stirred only slightly as she lifted up the covers and slipped between them to nestle up close to his back...

Several years spent investigating murders of both natural and supernatural causes had given Dylan something of a sense for when danger was nearby. A sense that his magical talents had honed even further.

Thus it was that he turned over in his sleep and his sleeping mind catalogued an obstruction that should not be there. A soft, warm, shapely obstruction. He opened his eyes quickly; face to face with a pair of smiling, dark green eyes that were much too close! And though he weighed far more, his leap out of bed would have outraced a rabbit.

"Master?" Miriya asked softly, "What is wrong?" She slid out of the bed, completely naked, and came over to him.

"Wrong? Wrong?" He spluttered, "You come traipsing right into my bed, completely, bloody starkers and you ask me what's wrong?"

It was only after he realised that she was up against him and had his pyjama top completely unbuttoned and was working at the lacing of the bottoms that he realised that he had answered the question that she had asked in Enochian with English. He managed to step away again, before she had him nearly as naked as she was, fast enough that she tumbled to the ground with a slight "ooh!"

"Miriya," He tried again, this time in halting, stammering Enochian, "no." Not knowing the proper words to try to tell her what she was doing was something he did not want her to do, he tried to show her with actions. He resolutely retied the lacings and rebuttoned the buttons; catching up her hands with his own when she had come close once more and attempted to undress him once more.


"No, Master?" She clearly could not understand, and, truthfully, he could barely understand it himself. She was a very beautiful woman, albeit a woman made of wood. And he knew from his repairing of her form that she was fully capable of doing pretty much anything a living woman could do. And definitely more than willing to do it, it would appear. He still held her hands in his own and he gently released them.

"No, child," He told her gently, "this not I want."

She blinked a few times, trying to understand. She hung her head and spoke softly, "I am sorry, Master. I did not know you would rather have a boy."

Dylan groaned, "Bright Goddess, what did I do to offend you that I get this?" Then he simply started laughing.

Of course she would think that! He should have realised straightaway that whoever had built her, had built her to be a sexual creature; otherwise she would not be so fully detailed as she was. And being what she was, it was natural thinking that if a man did not wish to have sex with her, he must be homosexual.

A completely wrong conclusion for all the right reasons.

Miriya watched him laugh and joined in the laughter simply because it was so infectious; not because she understood why he was laughing. Master finally recovered long enough that he walked back over to the bed and pulled off one of the sheets and handed it to her.

"Please, yourself do cover."

She took the sheet and wrapped it around her form and noted that Master appeared to be much calmer now that she was wearing something that covered her nudity and that made her happy. She stood there, since he had not commanded her to do anything besides cover herself, and watched him pick up a long parchment that was folded regularlly in opposing angles.

"How may I serve you, Master?" She asked after he had looked at it for a short time. Surely he must be a mage, for he studied the parchment as thoroughly as Mistress had ever poured over her own books and scrolls before...

"Hmmm? Oh...Wait, please. Better explain not can I now. Soon yes."

Miriya nodded, deciding that he had to be preparing some type of magic; maybe even a spell to make her into a boy so she could serve him as she should. He looked up and smiled at her, assuring her that he would not hurt her. Or, at least, she thought that was what he was trying to say; Master was as hard to understand in word as he was in deed. His eyes sparkled in the moonlit room and he spoke in a calm, assured voice; melodic words in a lyrical pattern. She could feel the magical energies building as he performed the incantation, first around him then around her own body. It felt good, comforting; like being held in his arms and she surreneded to the feeling...

Dylan caught her before she fell to the floor and set her upon the bed. She lay still for several minutes as the spell worked its affects on her. Then she jerked once, like a marionette on with its strings pulled, he mused, and sat upright.

"How are you feeling?" He asked her. His voice was soft and no longer spoke with the halting, fractured words that he had been using.

"I am...alright, Master." She replied after thinking for a few moments. When she saw his smile, she understood what he had done. "A spell of tongues, Master?"

"You're mostly right, child. It is a spell of language; it gave you the ability to understand and speak English, which is my native tongue. But I am not your master."

"Yes, Master, you are my Master. You repaired my body; I owe you my service in payment."

Well, he thought to himself, the direct approach would not work with her. Time to travel in a circle...

"Very well, then. That means you must obey my commands?"

"That is correct, Master." Perhaps it was simply that he did not speak the magic tongue so well and he had not truly understood her before, she thought, happy that it appeared that she would be able to serve him after all.

Dylan nodded, smiling, "Then I accept your service, Miriya. And this is my first order to you, child. You are not to call me Master. My name is Dylan apDaffyd Gwydion. When you feel that you must call me 'Master' you are to say 'Dylan' instead. And not with every sentence you speak. Do you understand me?"

Now it was her turn to smile, for he truly was a mage to use her servitude against her in that fashion to get what he wanted. "Actually, Ma-" she caught herself before she uttered the instintive honorific, "...Dylan, that is three orders, not one. But I understand and obey."

That drew another laugh from him; Bright Lady, but she's a quick study! he thought to himself. There would be time to learn more about that part of her later. However, first things were first.

"Now that we can talk at least partially comfortably, would you care to explain how you came to be on a highway in France, leaping over cars like a gazelle?"

"Car?" She asked, "Gazelle? What are these things?"

He sighed softly; granting comprehension of a language did not necessarily grant understanding of that languages terms. And, judging by how her attention rapidly darted to different things in his bedroom when she thought he was not looking at her, she had a great amount of curiosity. This was going to take some time and a stifled yawn told him that he really needed more sleep before he was going to have that time available. He looked at the clock beside his bed.

"Miriya, the sun is going to rise soon; and I could really use some more sleep. So, let's leave the explanations for later...wait a tick, it's getting closer to the new moon; we'll have one hour less the next time around, it appears."

"Dylan, the touch of moonlight upon my body is what awakens me. It is the touch of sunlight upon my body that puts me to sleep once more." She only put a slight emphasis on "touch," but it was enough that his expression brightened.

"So, as long as the sunlight can't reach you, you can remain active?" She nodded, smiling. "It doesn't harm you to stay active for longer periods?"

"I could go from Sabbat to Sabbat before I would start to get very weak, Dylan. Mistress once kept me active for over a moon's cycle, testing me, she said, and by the end I may as well have been suntouched for all I could do. A hand of days or less between my sleeps does not harm me enough to be noticed."

Understanding terms could go both ways..."Sabbat to Sabbat? A week?" A nod, "Moon's cycle is understandable, though we call them 'months' now; and most of them are a day or two longer. And a hand of days would be five?" Another nod yes.

"So, staying awake while I slept won't hurt you. That's good. Just one thing, though; will you promise me that you won't climb into bed with me again...no, don't ask me why; I don't think I can stay awake long enough to explain, dear. Just promise me."

"Yes, Dylan, I promise," She suddenly had a thought that chilled her. He did not wish to sleep with her, and not with a boy, either. That left... "Dylan, you-you are not a priest, are you?"

His laugh reassured her, "Oh, my! No. Miriya, I promise that I will do my best to explain why to you. Will it fulfill your curiosity enough for now if I tell you that perhaps I should have said my name was Sir Dylan apDaffyd Gwydion?" He probably could have explained better, but he was so delighted to discover that she not only had a mind, but it was a quick one even in a land that must surely seem strange to her, that he could not help but to test the intelligence behind those green eyes. Whoever had built her had been a creator without equal!

"Sir Dylan? Ah, you are a knight!" Miriya understood much more about him now, and much less. When did knights use magic? "I will not compromise your vow of chastity, Dylan."

He had walked over to the windows of his room and pulled the drapes tightly closed then set a chair against them so that they would not part. The dark fabric would keep the light out; something he had found quite useful at times since his work often went well into the night and light was a distraction when he had to sleep during the daytime. He felt a momentary guilt for deliberately misleading her about his sexual practises; hiding behind what he had, correctly, assumed would be her knowledge of knights. That was something he would clear up with her when he could explain in ways she could understand.

"There, that will keep this room sunless, Miriya," He told her, "And the hallway has no windows. I appologise that I can't do much to make this more comfortable for you. I'll set up a room of your own once I get some more rest."

"Do not trouble yourself over me, Dylan; I will fare well while you sleep." Why was he so concerned about her comfort? It seemed that he acted as though he were the servant and she the Mistress. One more thing to add to a growing list of questions she had to ask him if he allowed her; which she was increasingly certain he would allow. She started to sit on the soft floor when he quirked an eyebrow her way.

"You may sit in one of the chairs if you like, dear," He smiled, pointing to a pair of chairs that matched the one he had placed against the draperies. Bright Lady, he asked mentally, how harshly did this 'Mistress' treat this poor girl? No, do not make that judgment, he chided, you don't know what life was like whenever it was she had been created. Such things were always relative...

He fell asleep even though his mind was still working.

Miriya rose from the chair a few moments later, walked over to him and pulled the covers up over his sleeping form then went back to the chair. For all his peculiarities, Master cared for her wellbeing so she must care for his. She would obey him and call him by his name; but in her heart and mind, he was Master and so he would remain. With that, she simply stopped thinking and sat there, watching him sleep. After a time, she saw a cat make its languid way into the room. It stopped at her feet and looked up at her with the wise eyes that all cat-kind possessed. Nose crinkling as it sniffed and whiskers twitching, it judged her and found her worthy and leapt up into her lap to curl up into a purring ball of thick tortiseshell fur.

When she had not moved for a few moments, it looked up at her again and its eyes held the question, "Well? What are you waiting for?" With a soft giggle, she started to stroke her fingers through the soft fur. Somethings, it seemed, never changed. When a cat commands, one obeys.

She was still petting the cat when Dylan awakened several hours later.

"Did you sleep well, Dylan?"

"Quite well, thank you. I hope that you weren't too bored."

"Not at all; I have had company for nearly the whole time." The cat looked up from her lap with what Dylan felt was an entirely too smug expression.

"Hmmmm...yes. I assume you approve of our houseguest, Tutankhamen?" He chuckled as the cat licked its nose. "I guess that settles it. Welcome to the household, Miriya.

"And don't you even think of using her legs as a scratching post, cat!" He said with mock sterness as he ruffled the fur between the ears.

"He won't do that, would you, Too...toot..."

"Toot-onk-ah-men," Dylan repeated the cat's name more slowly, "or just Tut or cat for short. He's named for one of Egypt's pharohs. Ummm...nevermind, Miriya." He could feel her eyes on him as he walked over to his closet.

"Uh...would you mind, Miriya?" And rolled his eyes as she came to her feet quickly, setting the cat on the bed as she walked over to him.

"Actually, I meant it the other way around...no...no...not that way, either. Miriya, would you please step out into the hallway and close the door to my room?" He held himself very still until he heard the door click closed then slowly released the breath he had been holding.

"Patience, Dylan....patience..." He dressed quickly then took one last item from the closet.

He picked up the discarded sheet and tossed it back onto the bed, noting that Tut had followed Miriya.

She looked up from Tut, who had leapt up into her arms and nestled against her breasts while she petted him, when she heard the door open. After it opened just far enough, an arm reached out and handed her a robe. "Could you put this on, please?"

Miriya sat on the opposite side of the small table Master had brought into his bedchamber; the top was covered with platters that contained rolls and cheeses and jams and a steaming pot of tea. Master seemed to be in a much happier mood now.

"Do you eat, Miriya?" He asked.

"I can, but I do not need to."

"Well, would you indulge me and eat something and have some tea? I'm rather famished but it just doesn't seem right to be eating in front of you when you aren't."

She nodded and picked up one of the rolls and a small chunk of soft cheese as Master poured her a mug of tea. A nibble of each told her that, despite her rather limited experience with food, they were quite good and she told him so.

"There's a shop just down the way run by two brothers; one is a baker and the other a cheesemaker and I've been a regular patron of them since I first came here. I'll let them know you approve." His smile made her giggle.

"Miriya, I must appologise for my behaviour with you so far. I must admit that you are a bit...ahem...more friendly than most women in my life."

"You do not need to appologise to me, Dylan," She replied, "I have been trying to serve you as I served Mistress. I can see that will not do. I will learn to serve you properly."

"Miriya, child, you do not need to serve me. You claim you owe me for repairing you, but it was my own fault that you needed repairing in the first place. I was driving the car that struck you.

"I had thought I'd struck a person and I stopped to investigate. That's when I found you and gathered up every piece that I could find and brought you back here where I could put you back together."

She was silent for a while. She still did not understand just what type of creature a 'car' was but it was her ill-luck to come across a herd of them. And her good fortune that the person who owned the herd was so kind and considerate. He felt responsible for her!

"Dylan, thank you for making me whole again. I was running from a cathedral when I came across your herd of cars. Fear made me try to cross that trail and my own fear was what led to my damage, not your car."

"Herd of cars? Miriya, just what do you think a car is?"

"You said those metal creatures were cars, Dylan. The larger ones are the adults and the smaller ones are the calves, are they not? You have a very large herd and they seemed to all be healthy. I hope I did not hurt the one that struck me badly." She saw him trying very hard to not laugh.

"I'm sorry, dear. It's not your fault. This time must seem very strange to you. A car is more like a horse or a wagon that the horse might pull. It is not alive, it's just a mechanical device that people use to travel from one place to another. And while I own several cars, the only one of that 'herd' that I owned was the car I was driving, er...riding and guiding like a wagon. I promise that I'll do my best to teach you about this place and time. Would you like that?"

"Oh, yes, Dylan!" She exclaimed, excited, "There is so much that is so wondrous and strange to me. So magical!"

"Perhaps not as much magic as you might think, child, though there is still magic." As proof, he held his hands out, palms up, over the table top. A blue glow formed around his right hand, slowly flowed into a sphere the size of one of the rolls then floated away from his palm to settle in his left palm.

"Yes, Miriya, I am a mage; and a fairly good one for this day and age. Though I daresay that I cannot command magics such as surely were used to create you. Nor could any mage of which I am aware. But let us leave that be for now. You said you were running away from a cathedral?"

She nodded, "Yes, Dylan. I do not know how long I was there. I awakened in a room full of dust and things covered with cloths; just as I was. The priests must have put me there after...after..."

He rose from his chair and came around to her side of the table; placing a comforting arm around her shoulders, "Peace, child. I make my living by studying things to discover how they happened. Mostly, I study crimes; where something has been stolen or, more often, where someone has been killed. May I make a few guesses about your past, dear?"

She nodded.

"Your Mistress, she was a mage and she made you. A very amazing feat, I must add. She made you to serve her sexual desires and, most likely, to serve the same of those she commanded you to serve." At her nod, he continued. "Whatever time that was, the Catholic Church was very powerful; moreso than it is now. For some reason, your Mistress drew their attention and their displeasure.

"And she was killed for it. And you were left at the mercy of the priests; who probably felt that, since you were not a woman of flesh and blood, you were not covered by their vows of chastity."

She nodded slowly, her voice soft, "Yes, Dylan. My Mistress, and one other; an elf who was also Mistress' slave like I was. She and I served Mistress; we loved Her and she us.

"The Church had left Mistress alone. They must have feared her magics."

"Or were not aware of them; she may have hidden under the cover of being a noble. Or something similar. However it happened, though, they learned what she was and were able to subdue her; and your elven lover. They put them to the fire, didn't they? A ghastly way to die. I am truly sorry for your loss, my dear child."

"Thank you, Dylan. And the priests did use me; before Mistress and Kalindriel were burned. I had escaped during the night before they were to be killed thinking that I might be able to find them and help them escape. Or, at the least, join with them. The sun rose as I was running towards them. I could see the flames taking them even as the sun took me.

"And awakened now, in that dusty room. Once I knew where I was, I fled the place.

"The rest you know, Dylan, for I was running away still when your...car...struck me."

"Your Mistress, do you know any name she may have used? I've been trying to search for any books that might contain information about you. And I've not been able to find anything."

"Kalindriel sometimes called her Saamiel; at least when she was certain Mistress could not hear her. Mistress loved us, but she had a temper and often punished us by using her magics upon us."

He let that last stay on hold for a moment. It would figure that she would have an unusual name! "Miriya, do you know how to read or write?"

"No, Dylan. Mistress forbade me to know how to do either of those. She said it was for my own safety because of my curiosity."

He smiled, "I can understand, having seen you looking around at the things in my home. It would keep you from accidently activating any spells, I'm sure. Though that does make it a touch harder for me. At least I've a lead now; something should show in time. Though perhaps there is another way. Can you tell me what she looked like?"

She nodded, "I can. She was very tall. Taller than I by a hand and perhaps as tall as you, Dylan. She had white hair that fell to the middle of her back and very dark blue eyes...Dylan, is something wrong?"

"What? Oh...no, dear; there's nothing wrong. I was trying to make a mind picture of her and I fear that my face can make strange expressions when I do that." He hoped that he believed her because his mind was reeling. No, he thought, it had to be just a coincidence. For all his training in magic, he did not believe in reincarnation...

Thus, did the teaching, and the learning, begin.

(exerpted from the journals of Dylan apDaffyd Gwydion)

21 June, 1991 ...a month since I had completed repairing Miriya; and what a month it has been! I still find it hard to believe that she is a being made of wood and metal wire and not a flesh and blood woman. This has certainly been my most interesting and intriguing adventure, and the only time I have left home was to shop for groceries and supplies...

...is almost infinitely curious and about even the most trivial things. To be honest, though, were I somehow transported to the time of her creation I would likely be as curious. And far less prepared to experience the fate that curiosity would bring. So many have romanticized the Middle Ages; making into a land of magic and knights and romance. Magic existed, true; as did the knights and the romance, though the last was actualy rather seldom. To risk death for not bowing to the owners of the land; or for speaking out against the organized religion of the land! No, for all the myriad woes and worries of this time, I would not leave it for her era...

...I can understand how she can move and even speak; though not on as grand a scale as Miriya, there are still spells that are able to animate objects and allow them to move about on their own or even appear to speak a phrase that has been magically recorded into them. What is so amazing is her ability to think and to reason. We still laugh together about her thinking automobiles were some type of living, metal creature, but to be able to come to a wrong conclusion about something, doing so through observation and applying logic to those observations, shows there is more to her than just some archaic version of a record player. No, she can think, she can make observations and learn and act upon what she has learned. And she is able to experience, and express emotions...

...just have to figure out a way to keep her out of my bed. She cannot help being what she is, the sorceress that created her made her a sexual creature. It is as ingrained in her being as is her desire to serve. While I've been able to get her to do things because she wishes to, her overiding desire is to please me. Her ideas about pleasing me are somewhat different than mine, though. I have, so far, managed to not have intercourse with her. And it is becoming an ever greater struggle. I am beginning to think that there is more than just moonlight that maintains her magic as, while I have made certain that she sleeps regularly (given how lifelike she is, it is easier to think of her states as "awake" and "asleep") she seems to be somewhat listless compared to what I take is her usual self these last few days. There seems to be a correspondence between the moon phases and her vitality; more vigorous around the full moon and less so at the new moon and such. But this latest seems different. Could it be that the energies that can be released in sexual intercourse are also a part of her magical "fuel?"...

...I have tried to explain to her why I do not wish to have sex though I do not think that she truly understands. For all her beauty and intelligence, she is an innocent; little more than a child. She believes that it is her duty to have sex with me. Because I am her Master. I cannot seem to make her understand that, in my eyes, having sex with her because she feels she must goes against all I believe. How can I explain rape to someone that believes as she does?...

...I must be completely honest; I have enjoyed having her share my bed. Her closeness seems to make me sleep more soundly and comfortably and my aches and pains have been less. And I have used her skills in the less sexual of the sensual arts; I have not had any back aches at all now for nearly two weeks thanks to her skills as a massuese. And therein lies my trap. I have been able to resist her and tell her no so far. But even the strongest stone is weakened by the wind and rain in time. Though, were it not for what Maeve had done to Katherine, and tried to do to me, I doubt that I would be able to resit Miriya at all...

...a thousand questions of my own, though. I do not understand how it might have happened; how Miriya's long dead former mistress is a spitting image of Maeve. While Miriya still cannot read or write, that appears to be as much a part of her basic, for lack of a better word, programming, as is her sexuality, she is able to draw very well. I asked her yesterday to draw a sketch of Saw-mee-ell(since I still have no idea what language the name might be in, if any,I still spell it as I hear it.) I found an old picture of Maeve and the resemblance is uncanny! The hair, the eyes, the expression, the facial structure. It is imperative that Miriya and Maeve never meet!...

...reading the "Times" earlier and the Shropshire Slasher has claimed his third victim. I need to contact the Yard again; a pattern is starting to emerge...

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