When Kay’s bunch arrived it suddenly seemed as if the one hundred seventy five room palace on twelve thousand acres would not be nearly big enough. His family had migrated to South Texas in the nineteenth century and found it agreeably inhospitable. Berserkers enjoy a good challenge. So they founded an organization to clean up the mess, taking on rowdy itinerants who heartily embraced a get-it-done, no-rules philosophy and called it the Texas Rangers. Were it not for berserkers it seems unlikely that the frontier mix of Comanche, desperados, and javelina could have been subdued so relatively quickly and by so few.
Chaos Caelian, named such by his maternal grandmother as was her privilege in berserker society, was affectionately known as Kay. It was the nickname bestowed upon him by his teammate Rammel Hawking soon after they’d met. Ram had thought a knight named Kay – like the foster brother of King Arthur from Arthurian legend – was amusing. So Chaos became Sir Kay and it stuck. Even his own parents eventually began calling him Kay.
Yes. Everybody knew the near giant knight as Kay except for his three older sisters who refused to give up calling him Bubba, never letting him forget for a minute that he was the “baby” of the family. The four youngest Caelian children were close in age, only a year apart, and in familial ties. There was a much older brother, but he and their parents almost seemed to comprise a second family. The three preschool girls started out calling him “brother”, but the nickname quickly degenerated into Bubba and would not go away.
Their grandmother, sometimes called Evil Gran by those she had named, gave the girls similar hardships to bear. Having inherited the “sight” from her own grandmother, Evil Gran claimed she knew three girls were coming and set out to name them after the Norns; the three keepers of time according to Norse myth. Hence, they were named in order of linear time – past, present, and future: Urda, Verdandia, and Skulda. In a triumph of sibling camaraderie and conspiracy over custom, their names had morphed into something more suitable before they entered kindergarten. Urda became known as “Urz”, Verdandia as “Dandie” and Skulda did a triple twist into “Squoozie” which, odd as it was, seemed like a custom fit.
Elora had once heard Kay say that opening the door to his boyhood home was like going through the wardrobe to the land of “Nornia”.
The entire family resembled the popular perception of Vikings: tall, fair haired, fair skinned, with blue eyes, an abundance of athletic ability, and an indomitable desire to know where to plunder the best jewelry. Fortunately the family had accumulated multigenerational wealth in land, cattle, and oil in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century so the quest for jewelry did not require going a’viking as it was known in the old days. Kay’s sisters were content with the occasional plunder of Gump’s, Tiffany, and Cartier.
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