At that moment, Alexis was being tossed by the waves and trying hard not to throw up. She had a bag over her head. Throwing up would not have been pretty.
“But Hog, they will come for her,” Chodo whined.
“And they can have her,” Hog responded with a smug sound in his voice. “By then we will have the secret of the breat.”
“But what if she won’t tell us the secret?” Shmee asked.
“Then we will make her tell,” Hog insisted and he slapped his fist into his open palm.
“But what if they arrive before we can make her tell?” Chodo asked.
“A few people are not stronger than the whole village,” Hog responded.
“But she is a witch.” The truth of what bothered Shmee came out in the sound of his voice.
“Bah! Our Shaman can disarm a simple witch. You worry too much.”
“But what if the Pan and the boys find out?” Chodo asked.
“Hmm.” There was a moment of silence apart from the paddles and the sounds of the sea. “I will think. You paddle.” Hog sounded like Pan and the boys might be a problem.
When they arrived in the camp, Alexis had her hood removed. After stern warnings, her gag was also removed and her feet untied so she could walk to the central fire. They sat her down, untied her hands but retied her feet so she would not be able to escape easily.
“Stay and watch her,” Hog told his companions, though to be sure it did not take long before the whole village was watching. “I will fetch the Shaman.”
Hog walked off and the people pressed in. Some thought to touch this strangely dressed woman. Shmee had to defend her. “Back away. She is a witch.”
“You will not hurt our people.” Chodo threatened her, but the people heard, backed up and left her untouched.
“If you want me to make bread, the first thing I need is a bone. It should be a bone from a deer, as thick as your thumb and as long as your forearm.”
“How did you know we wanted breat?” Shmee asked.
“I know many things,” Alexis said, coyly. “And if you have no such bone, a stick might do, but it must be from an oak, the oldest, biggest tree you can find. It will take longer to make it the way I need it, but it will do.”
“I do not remember you using a bone or stick to make breat.” Chodo shook his head. “What do you need this bone-stick for?”
Alexis just looked at the man until he got uncomfortable. “I must have a new wand,” she said at last, though neither man appeared to know what a wand was. They thought about it as Hog came back.
“I have brought the shaman,” Hog said and pointed at the man who followed him. “Now you make breat for my village.”
Alexis looked up as the shaman sat beside the fire. He looked ordinary enough apart from the red streak painted down each cheek. “Well?” She turned on Chodo and Shmee and they got up to fetch her a wand. “I need to be alone with your shaman for a few minutes,” she told Hog, and he was willing in order to find out what Chodo and Shmee were up to.
The elderly shaman just looked at her at first and tried to see what was inside of her. Alexis was not bothered by the look, and that bothered the shaman. But Alexis had seen such looks before, though not from one dressed in a loincloth in such chilly weather. The man only had a bear skin draped over his shoulders like a cape to keep him warm. He wore a necklace of trinkets, and he jangled it before her. Again, she was unmoved.
“Go.” The shaman finally spoke and waved his arm. All of the villagers that had gathered around the stranger separated, though to be sure, they only backed up a few feet and continued to stare.
“Do not be afraid.” Alexis remembered the words of the angel. “I will make bread for the village.”
“Will I be able to make more?” The shaman shot straight to the point.
Alexis shook her head. “Not unless you have the secret of the elves and can make the crackers.” She saw no reason to lie to the man. The man frowned.
“The goblins?” He asked.
“They would not like the name, but I suppose that is how you know them.”
The man’s face twisted as he thought hard. “There may be some advantage in that, knowing that it is enchanted. Call it a one-time gift of the gods.” he concluded his thoughts.
“Oh, I am always glad to help another person of magic,” Alexis said to test a thought of her own. She judged by the look on the man’s face that he had no real magic of his own.
The man shook his necklace again. “I have the bear claws, the teeth of the lion and the paws of the wolf. I am the hunter,” he said.
“And I am just an ordinary woman,” Alexis responded with a sigh.
“I think not.” The Shaman leaned forward and touched her clothes, respectfully. “I am fifty winters and look it. You are older than you appear.”
“I am.” Again, she saw no reason to lie to the man. “Let’s see. I was born in the spring, but next spring I will be two hundred and fifty four years old.” She smiled. The shaman did not smile. “Really,” Alexis defended herself. “My father is a goblin.” The shaman frowned at that as if to suggest she was carrying things a bit far. Alexis dropped her eyes. “I suppose I may have counted wrong, but I tell you what. When he gets here, you can ask him.” She smiled again even as Hog, Chodo and Shmee returned.
Chodo handed her the leg bone from a deer, but it was still moist and chipped at one end. The other end looked a little dog chewed, but with a great deal of work it might suffice. Shmee handed her a stick from an elm tree. She said oak, but who was she to quibble. The stick looked newly dead instead of dried but at least it was not nibbled. The stick was a little thin at the tip but about the right length and it had something that might do for a handle. Alexis waved her hand above the stick and the bark peeled back, then she focused her magic as well as she could with such a crude instrument and waved the stick at the leather that still bound her legs. The leather separated, and no eyes got bigger than the shaman’s. He stood with some quick words.
“This one belongs to the goblins. I have persuaded her so she has promised to make bread one time for us, but we must return her to her father when he arrives.” With that, he rattled off some words about placating the spirits and keeping the gods happy and returned to his tent, and Alexis imagined he sealed himself in.
“Now, Shmee, be a dear and hand me my bag.” Alexis reached out.
Shmee shrieked and handed it over with his hand shaking terribly.