“Have you told Dan and Drew?” Lydia asked as she followed her mother down the stairs. Sonia looked back at her and smiled.
“They were there when Dad brought the blocks over anyway,” she said. “So we let the two of them go first.”
“Ah,” Lydia said. “So will they explain about your father’s name?”
Sonia chuckled and shook her head. “No, but it’s quite simple really. In Astral Society the weaker partner is considered to join the stronger partner’s family rather than the woman joining the man’s family.”
Lydia considered this. “I see,” she said finally. “So why is Sarah’s name Tyler, then?”
“Dad’s older sister died unexpectedly without any children so he asked mum to let one of the younger kids be joined to his family as they were virtually extinct at that point. She picked Sarah because she took after Dad most strongly.”
Lydia paused on the stairs and tilted her her head. “Okay, I think I see how that works. It will make you easier to spot though, if people start looking for you in the records.”
“Yes,” Sonia said. “But it’s tradition and not a bad one, I think.”
“So you and dad?”
“Ah, yes, it’s different when the partners are about the same strength. Especially when both are family heads like Matt is â€“ and I suppose I am, technically, though Sarah’s been doing the job for a long time even though she’s a Tyler. I’m still Keefe and he’s still Morgan and you are–”
“Lyrrekka called us the Keefe-Morgan quadruplets?” Lydia said. “So I’m going to go out on a limb and guess we’re either a new family or both.”
“A little of column a and a little of column b,” Sonia said. “It’s mostly up to you, though Sarah and I are both eyeing you for the next head of the Keefes and you’d have to–”
“What?” Lydia froze again. “But… Why?”
“Because you’re strong and Sal knows a kindred spirit when she sees one, even if you haven’t had much chance to talk yet. Believe me you’re far more Keefe than Morgan, Lyd. Now, come on.â€
“You can’t just drop things like that on people, mum,” Lydia muttered as she followed Sonia into the lounge.
Daniel and Andrew were already there with their grandfather. A handful of wooden blocks was lying on the table between them. Daniel looked up as she came in and grinned.
“These are really fascinating, Lyd. Just an overview, apparently, but fascinating. It’s like watching a video in your head.” He tossed her one of the blocks. “That’s the first one.”
“Thanks!” Lydia turned it over in her hands. The pale wood was strangely warm under her fingers and what must once have been sharp edges had been smoothed to curves where dozens if not hundreds of other hands had done the same. “So how do I use it?”
“It’s easy,” Sonia said. “Just let your mind slip into the blocks.”
Lydia frowned at her then looked back at the block in her hand. “Let my mind slip into it?” She reached out with her mind towards the block. Almost immediately, a welter of impressions hit her and sent her reeling backwards. The block was plucked from her hand and she looked up to see her grandfather staring at her.
“Sal’s right,” he said. “You are a talented clairvoyant. You’ll need to be a bit more careful with these than your brothers. They’re designed for any astral to use so they tend to overwhelm clairvoyants. Try again, but don’t reach so far into it. You should be able to control the flow of images that way. Did this exile mintor of yours never use history blocks with you?”
“Huh…” Lydia trailed off. When she thought about she did vaguely remember something like these blocks, only made of some sort of crystal. “She may have done but I don’t think they were history. From what I remember of my lessons they were mostly the practical stuff.” She looked down at the blocks again. “But I’ll try what you said.” She reached out again but drew back as soon as she felt the block begin to release its images allowing only one at a time into her mind.
Now that she had control of it the images were indeed like a movie in her head â€“ or perhaps more like a documentary since it was all rather dry if well-illustrated historical explanation. She didn’t realise she had said that aloud until Andrew laughed.
“It is rather, isn’t it,” he said. “Interesting though.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “But the Speakers nearly wiped us out?”
“It was our ancestors’ own fault,” Sonia said. “They tried to enslave them.”
“Yes, I got that.” Lydia gave a wry smile. “I knew there was a reason they didn’t trust us, even if it was a very long time ago. What a mess.” She reached out for the next block. “Are the rest of these as nasty?”
“No, those mostly cover the founding of the families and how we can trace them back so far,” Sonia said. “And a few of the important inter-family wars as well – just so you know who to be careful of this evening. Speaking of which, you should hurry up and finish them so you can get ready for tonight.”