By long standing tradition, meals were not to wait the arrival of the Kairos. In fact, little of daily life changed when she was present, so little changed when she was absent, which became most of the time. All the same, Mrs. Kettleblack who had been cooking for the Kairos for nearly five hundred years, banged her wooden spoon on the urn when Greta came in, and everyone rose, including Lord Gotlieb, though he rose with two handfuls of food. Still, he rose because he knew if he did not, Mrs. Kettleblack would have banged her spoon on his head.
Poor Mrs. Kettleblack, Greta thought. The dwarf looked like she aged, and Greta felt sorry that even in the rarified atmosphere of the second heavens, her little ones still did not live forever.
“Buffett this morning.” Mrs. Kettleblack announced. “But any of my poppins will be glad to fetch. Just be askin’ and we’ll be getting’.” She pointed to a special place which had been set aside for Berry. Berry looked at her and Greta thought a moment. She decided, no.
“Get big, please, Berry,” Greta said. Berry paused to look around. She had never seen so many full blooded, special little ones in her life. She got big. She felt very human and thought she might as well look it. “She had better sit beside me this morning,” Greta concluded. The place at Greta’s right hand was empty at the moment.
“Good morning Thumbelin,” Greta said, and then she added, “Good morning,” generally to the crowd. Most responded, except a few, like Gotleib who had just stuffed his mouth full of eggs and sausage.
“Good morning sweet Berry,” Thumbelin added.
“Morning,” Berry said. She got distracted, watching the young lady elves who looked like glittering young children of light. They fixed plates for her and Greta with a little of everything, and they watched her, too, and giggled.
“For all of the magic that gave her little wings, she is still three-quarters human,” Greta explained.
“Oh, my sweet dear,” Thumbelin said, in a very sympathetic voice. “That must be very hard for you, but I am sure it is a good thing, too. Good will happen. You will see.”
The two plates were delivered while Gotleib and an ogre Prince jostled for position in line so they could get twelfths. Greta looked away, glad that the ogres had their own corner of the room, out of sight of most. She did not want to look at one while she ate, and did not want to watch one eat.
“But you have the same things I have,” Berry said, which took Greta’s attention, and Greta thought she should explain.
“You see, Berry, I have never been here before, myself. The last time I was here I was someone else.”
“Sheik Ali.” The Lord of the Rainclouds spoke up. “And a fascinating gentleman he was. I never knew much about the desert before, but now I see it is an intriguing world all its own, full of wonders and life.”
“Exactly,” Thumbelin brought things back to the point. “But we have not seen our lord, now lady in twenty years.”
“But you got the same as mine,” Berry said, being very one tracked.
“Uh-huh,” Berry said. She did not really understand, but by then she got busy sampling.
“She is sweet,” Thumbelin remarked.
“Uh-huh,” Greta responded in the midst of her own sampling. Then she thought to say more. “Barring an unforeseen accident, she will probably end up my sister-in-law. I worry about her.”
Thumbelin and several others gave knowing smiles and nods. “I thought it might be something like that,” Thumbelin confessed.
There were private conversations after that, but finally, when breakfast was nearly over, Lord Madwick could wait no longer.
“Lady Kairos, forgive this impatient spirit, but now that you have come we must do something about these unlawful intrusions into the realm. With all due respect, the knights of the lance simply cannot be everywhere at all times.” He sat down.
“What he means.” Lord Burns spoke without standing up. “The fire sprites are ready to guard all of the portals at your request. There are more than enough volunteers to cover all known ways.”
“The ethereal spirits who have kindly taken the lance are insufficient in number.” Lord Deepwell of the dark elves confirmed.
Greta looked around the room. It was full of kings and queens, but these were not the rich and powerful as they would have been in a human assembly. Instead, these made a righteous gathering as each of these spirits came acclaimed by their people as worthy to represent them in their affairs. Greta felt she did not come to Usgard often enough, but then, she always felt that way.
“My Lady.” Lord Shoals spoke. “Waters surround our home. We are disappointed with ourselves. Ours is the first line. Ought to be enough. We wish to do enough.”
“Lady Corallion?” Greta asked hoping she would explain what her husband just said.
“We want to help make Avalon safe, too,” she said.
“Us, too.” Princess Burntbottom spoke up from the ogre table. The unfortunate child got born some sixty-six years earlier, during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Of course, as an ogre, she wore her disfigurement as a badge of honor.
“And us.” Everyone else chimed in, and Greta had to hold up her hands for silence.
“Lady Kairos.” The deep and eerie voice caused a hush. It was Lord Darkvein, the goblin king. “All of your people wish to help. It is gracious of you to provide this place of refuge and peace for us all. The least we can do is help defend it from demons, unwanted.”
“It is decided,” Thumbelin said softly, and Greta frowned. It got decided, as usual, without her having any say in the matter.
Th visit to Avalon is not over, but at some point, Greta knows she and Berry will have to return to Ravenshold, and reality.
Next Week, look for “And Back Again”, same blog, same website. Until then, Happy Reading