At that moment, Nang Saeng Zoom appeared, and light seemed to shine from her eyes as she lifted Chang Te Tzu as if he weighed nothing, carrying him quickly into her dwelling. His personal guards stood well away and did not interfere, being afraid that they would be struck with the strange malady that had infected their Lord. Normally they were afraid of nothing, and would charge headlong into battle no matter what weapons their enemies wielded, but this was something out of their realm.
Nang Saeng Zoom lit lamps, then mixed potions from strange herbs that were hanging on the walls of her hut. Soon alien smells and chants mixed with the sound of moaning and the smell of feces, vomit, and death that spilled into the air. At first the smells were weak and the chanting was soft, but like a rising wind, they increased in velocity and power. Suddenly they began to diminish and, within hours, the stench of hell was gone and the people near the hut heard the voice of Chang Te Tzu singing in harmony with the sweet soprano of Nang Saeng Zoom.
It was told, and there are no villagers that will contradict this, that in the evening Chang Te Tzu emerged from the hut of U Hla Pe with Nang Saeng Zoom on his arm, and he was in such robust health that he appeared to glow. When he asked Nang Saeng Zoom what he could do for her, the only boon that she requested was that Chang Te Tzu take her son, soon to be born, and raise him, providing him with the best educational opportunities. When Chang Te Tzu asked her how she knew that the child would be male, she laughed. He began to laugh. He laughed so hard that his body shook and the laugh leaped from him to his men and coursed through the entire village like a titanic tide that could not be stopped.
Three days later Ar Lain Ta was born on the day when the harvest was celebrated. It was the largest harvest in the history of the village. Soon after that day U Hla Pe had an unfortunate accident, the details of which were unknown, while working in the poppy fields. Six months later, Chang Te Tzu married Nang Saeng Zoom.
To this day the people speak of the wonder and magic of the time when Chang Te Tzu ruled with Nang Saeng Zoom at his side. There were those that said that it was she who wielded the power during this era in which Chang Te Tzu’s influence spread across the land and even reached overseas to the Americas. Of course, this is nothing but a rumor. Only the walls of their many dwellings know the truth and they are not speaking. Yet, there still remain servants from this era who might talk if they were so inclined.
However, these servants that are still alive now serve Ar Lain Ta, the birth son of Nang Saeng Zoom and the adopted son of Chang Te Tzu. It is said that he is everywhere at once. There are many stories told about Ar Lain Ta, the man of many names.
Some say that Ar Lain Ta speaks more than eight languages fluently. He attended Harvard University and now has two post-graduate degrees: a doctorate in International Relations and a doctorate in Ethnobotany.
There are many stories about Ar Lain Ta, yet there are not many people who have specific memories of meeting him. Many students say that he was like a phantom and sometimes they noticed him and sometimes they didn’t. Even the professors have different versions of their experiences with him and their stories are always subject to change.
Me, I met him in a church and I’ll never forget that day. Did I ever tell you that story? I seem to remember relating it to you once. But I feel a little sick right now.
The Troll turned in his chair and called out.
“Veronica! Veronica! I need you right now.”
Ron de Voux came bustling over, pulled two packets out of the Troll’s cracked leather bag and cleaned a syringe that lay on the great table.
“Into the kitchen,” hissed the Troll.
Veronica, as she rolled him through the door to the kitchen, glanced back at us. She gave us a great big grin that brought the dimples out on her cheeks and her pinpoint pupils appeared to spray laser beams of light before they disappeared into the candlelit back room.