Stinky and the horses were taken by men who promised to tend them well while Greta looked around and asked if anyone else had wandered into the village in the last several days. She felt determined to find the ones who were supposed to travel with her, but if they were not there, she thought she might have to leave without them. She pulled her cloak tight against the rain and stepped up to join the argument.
Greta and her friends ended up by the wall and the front gate where the bonfire got built for the feast, if the rain should ever stop. Dunova, Alesander and Briana tried to make the elders of the Dragon Clan understand the danger, which was difficult since they had only seen and heard the Wolv from a distance. Hermes and Lucius both got up on the wall in different places and tried to make the same argument. Sadly, the elders insisted that they had a good, solid wall and they did not grasp the urgency until a wolf topped the wall and shredded the watcher in that spot. It dropped to the ground by the gate, looking like a wet dog with matted fur, but it had death in its eyes. One great whiff of air and its nostrils flared, and its teeth showed in a primeval growl. It looked straight at Greta, but got distracted by Alesander, Dunova and an elder of the Dragon Clan.
All three men drew their swords, and Dunova and the elder charged what they saw as a beast. The Wolv laughed a recognizable laugh. It stayed covered with a personal energy shield. Alesander paused on the laugh while Dunova and the elder’s swords received a strong enough electric shock to make the men stagger.
“My turn,” Festuscato spoke loud and clear in Greta’s head. “The least I can do for your kindness to the wounded men who fought in Cornwall, and to Cador.”
“Be my guest,” Greta heard from Gerraint and she thought Gerraint’s imposing size would not impress the Wolv in any case.
The Wolv smiled a very doggy, toothy smile and pulled out its own weapon. Everyone saw two red flashes of light and Dunova and the elder burst into flame with great holes in their middles.
“Go for the weapon,” Greta yelled, as she vanished from that place and Festuscato arrived in his armor and his own weapons in hand. Alesander somehow understood the message, and he struck at the claw that held the fire pistol. He got blown back by the electrical discharge from the personal shield, but the pistol cracked and fell with Alesander’s sword to the dirt.
The Wolv howled and looked again for Greta, but she was no longer there. Festuscato and Briana managed to get close thanks to Alesander’s distraction. Festuscato struck first at the other claw where he saw the watch-like wristband that controlled the Wolv shielding. He cracked the watch, his sword being insulated against electro-magnetic discharges. Festuscato struck just before Briana’s sword came against the Wolv neck. Her sword half-severed the head, but still the Wolv managed a claw across Briana’s middle. Briana got cut, but not badly as her leather armor proved strong and her one in a million reflexes made her jump back.
Festuscato followed his first blow with a second that chopped off the main part of the Wolv arm, and Mavis sank an arrow into the Wolv chest where the heart ought to be. Still, the Wolv refused to go down until Mavis sank a second arrow and Festuscato made a swing for the Wolv leg. Then three men of the Dragon clan ran up and their two swords and an ax finally finished the job.
Alesander got up, groggy. Briana held him and tried not to bleed on him. Lucius shouted from the wall and Hermes jumped to the ground. Three more Wolv came over the top, and Festuscato swallowed hard for everyone present. Three men died and it took four of them to defeat one Wolv. Three Wolv seemed insurmountable, and worse, the Wolv knew it. They were content to take their time and look for Greta; and Festuscato had no doubt who they were after. The Wolv even talked among themselves in a language no one knew and with a tongue no human tongue could imitate. They pulled out their weapons when the men of the Dragon Clan mustered the courage to attack. But no shots were fired and the two sides never met as all three Wolv vanished. Rhiannon appeared next to Festuscato, and the first thing she did was make the clouds move off and the rain stop.
“Mother,” she started right in sounding defensive. “I know your rule about not killing alien people, but Wolv are hardly people.”
“If I had a copper for every time someone used that excuse. Tsk, tsk,” Festuscato said and went away to let Greta return. “They are near enough to being people, certainly smarter than dragons.”
“Hush. And the technology?”
“Here.” Rhiannon held out a leather bag. It contained five pistols and five wrist bands for personal shields. “There were six on Celtic land. This was all they had. I don’t know what you want to do with the broken ones.”
“It was all they would need for a hunt,” Greta said and accepted the bag. “You can send the broken ones to Avalon.” Greta stepped up and kissed Rhiannon on the cheek. “I don’t blame you. I thank you for saving many lives.”
“But Mother. I won’t be able to help you once you leave these lands. Mithrasis has twisted the minds of the Wolv and they won’t rest until they eat you.”
“Hush,” Greta said a second time. “I have already told you. The day for Celtic lands in this part of the world is long gone. You need to unravel these lands and go over to the other side. You say you still have work to do, and I won’t argue about it, only you need to stay in the Celtic homeland, in Gaul or Amorica or even Ireland if you have a mind.”
“I will,” Rhiannon said with conviction, but Greta knew it would be done when Rhiannon got good and ready. “For Mother,” Rhiannon said and returned the kiss to Greta’s cheek, and she vanished along with the cracked pistol and broken wrist watch.
Greta watched Lucius and Hermes run up. Mavis stood by her side as always. Alesander and Briana stood in awe of the way Greta and the goddess were so familiar, and they kept silent and waited to hear what Greta had to say.
“We can sleep safely tonight. Enjoy it while you can. We leave at dawn, no horses.”
“Mother Greta.” Someone called from a distance. Greta turned and nodded, like it was about who she expected. One tall and one short man came up. The tall one was Vedix, the hunter from the Bear Clan who once kicked Greta before Danna herself put the fear of the gods in him. The short one wore a glamour that could never fool Greta. He was Bogus the Skin, a full blood little one who lived up to his stereotype, which was an imp. But he was also Fae and Berry’s grandfather, so his presence came as no surprise.
“Introduce yourselves to the rest of the crew and then get a good night’s sleep. We leave when the sun breaks.” Greta took Mavis and Briana with her to the place set aside for her. Briana’s scratches needed tending and then Greta planned to follow her own advice and sleep while she could.
Briana remained quiet while Greta applied the bandages. The scratches were not deep, but they had to guard against infection. Normally, an elect would heal quickly from such a wound, but no telling what alien microbes might be lurking beneath the surface.
When Greta curled up beneath her blanket, she wondered if Festuscato ever got Patrick to Ireland, or if he found some new pirates to fend off first. She imagined Mousden screaming about pirates and smiled. She wondered how Gerraint’s marriage might be working out. She thought with luck she might dream about them in the night and for one night escape her own troubles. No telling what she thought about next because she put her hand to her belly and fell asleep.
The crew finds the only path safe from the Wolv, not over or around, but through Movan Mountain. Until next time, Happy Reading.