They were in the tent with Darius who was lying down, recovering from his many small wounds from the battle. Bragi was not present, but Salacia decided that would be just as well. She let the first wave of forgetfulness pass by unhindered. They forgot all about the guns. But she protected them from the second wave. Darius would have a place among the little ones and needed to know. Hans would marry one, though she had become fully human now. And Berry could hardly be allowed to forget. There would have been almost no Berry left if she forgot her little ones.
“Greta?” Hans remembered.
“Yes,” she said. “Amphitrite.” She looked at Darius. “Salacia.” She spoke to him. She felt a bit anxious. She did not know exactly how he might react and prying into his thoughts and heart would have been extremely improper.
Darius smiled and held out his hand. “It’s all right,” he said. “Berry explained it to me.”
Salacia took his hand but spoke honestly. “I do not love you as she does, you know. I still love my husband, though he is now gone from me.”
Darius seemed to think for a minute, but he got it. “I understand.” he said. “I certainly would not be interested in any of the men you have been, either.” He laughed, a little, almost. “But seriously,” he went on. “You must know how I feel. I don’t suppose I could live without her at this point, but she has been so hot and cold. Does she really love me or not?”
Salacia smiled. “But if I tell you that, I will be mad at myself for years.” Darius thought again, but he did not quite understand what she meant. “Let me say this,” she went on. “You are not the problem. In the past, her love sometimes got met with derision. She does not think highly of herself, and especially the way she looks.”
“What is wrong with the way she looks?” Darius asked. “I think she is beautiful. I think she is perfect.”
“Perhaps she had better tell you.” Salacia said and went back to her own time to let Greta stand awkwardly on her own two feet, still holding Darius’ hand.
“Well?” Darius asked.
“Well,” Greta said and looked down at her too big feet. How could Amphitrite do this to her? Too late. She did get mad at herself for having a big mouth, one the size of the Pacific! “Well, its’ my eyes. They are just ordinary brown, and my nose is too big and my hair is like wild straw, and there is too much of me, and I don’t want to talk about it.” She paused to sniff so she wouldn’t cry.
Darius took her by the chin and lifted her face to his. “I see golden hair and eyes to match, sparkling with life. I see a small and dainty nose. You should see the ones in Rome. And lips, so full and red which I have kissed. I would not trade them for all the gold in the world. And as for the rest.” He paused to look. “That will have to wait until we are married,” he teased. Of course, she threw herself at him and he did nothing to resist. After only a moment, though, they parted. Hans and Berry were in the room, after all.
“I love you,” Greta said.
“I love you, too,” Darius returned.
They both grinned like fools until Greta had to turn and run from the tent. Her feelings would not let her walk. She found Hans standing by the tent door and Berry some distance away, sitting alone, looking sad, almost desperate.
“What is it, sweet?” Greta asked, feeling oddly maternal in a strange way she never felt before. She put her arms around the girl and hugged her.
“My tummy hurts.” Berry said. “And now I am bleeding a little.” She reached over to hold on. “Am I going to die?”
Greta laughed. “No, sweet. You are not going to die. You are human. That’s all.” And she sat and talked with Berry while the ripples of forgetfulness did their work.
At last, Greta knew she had to get back to Marcus. She stood and traded places once more with Amphitrite. She gave Berry a quick kiss on the forehead and floated off, invisible to all the world. She let her consciousness search far beyond the battlefield. The ripples had done the job. But she spied Greta’s Papa on the road, and Mama came with him.
When she entered the room, Centurion Alesander was there with Sergeant Lucius, examining the men.
“What magic is this?” Alesander asked.
“I don’t know.” The sergeant answered. “But I don’t like it.”
The goddess slowly let herself come into focus.
“Salacia.” Alesander named her and fell to his knees. He had worshiped in her shrine all of his life as had his mother and father, and she loved him for it; but Sergeant Lucius took a couple of steps back.
“Mithras defend me,” the sergeant said.
Salacia placed her hand on Alesander’s head and blessed him, and with a final thought she changed the writings of Marcus and General Pontius to reflect the new gunless and fairyless reality. Then she looked up at the Sergeant and spoke sternly.
“I told someone just yesterday morning, Mithras does not come here. It would be his life if he did.” She waved her hand to set Marcus and General Pontius free and vanished, to appear again as Greta, just outside the door.
“General.” The sergeant spoke. “Salacia was here. Probably drawn by the creation of the new lake and streams.” Greta knew the General was another Mithrite. She remembered the Roman army was full of that pretender’s disciples.
“Nonsense,” Marcus spoke, sternly. “The gods, if they even exist, would not be drawn to these back woods no matter what happened here. What is it, Greta? I thought our business had finished.” Marcus sounded cordial, but stiff. The joy and play were gone from him. He did not seem inclined to give in to any emotion, and Greta felt that reality like a cut to her heart.
“Papa and Mama will be here this afternoon,” she said.
“I know,” Marcus responded flatly. “I sent for them as soon as I assessed the situation here. I thought your father might end this trouble in a bloodless way, but that was before the Quadi showed up. Been listening to my guards?”
“No,” Greta said. “I saw them from above when my mind was in the clouds.”
Marcus grimaced. “Of course,” he said. “Wise woman talk.” He looked down at his papers.
“But what right did you have calling him here when he should to be home, healing?” she asked.
“He is a man who knows his duty,” Marcus said as he gave Alesander a sharp look. “But I would not expect a woman to understand that.”
Greta swallowed several things she wanted to say. She helped Alesander to his feet, and she still had enough of Salacia’s aura about her to make him respond.
“Did you see her?” Alesander asked.
“No,” Greta said, honestly enough. She helped the Centurion to a place where he could have some solitude for a time, and then she hurried off. She wanted to get back to Darius, but some soldiers stopped her on the way. They reminded her of her duty to the wounded, and especially in the makeshift hospital she had made of the Roman fort. She cursed, but for old time’s sake and for Berry’s sake, she could not help sticking her tongue out at Marcus, no matter how many rooms away he was at that point. Women don’t understand doing one’s duty? What an idiotic thing for Marcus to say!
Years later, Darius thanked Greta one night while they sat before the hearth in the governor’s mansion. He said because of all the magic and wonder that surrounded her life, it saved him from becoming an emotionless statue, like Marcus.
“Was it just the magic?” she asked, and he showed her that it was not.
It would not be right to leave you without some thoughts concerning what is to come for Greta, Berry, Hans, Fae, and Hobknot. As I said, the work of the Kairos never seems to be over. There is always some witch, creature, or monstrosity knocking on her door…especially on Halloween. Until Monday, Happy Reading.