Alesander stood when the lady came in and he took the moment to introduced the group before he sat. The elves were good to wait until the introductions were over, but they appeared to nod as if they already understood as much. Alesander ended with Mavis, whom he called the Lady’s handmaid, and Mother Greta, whom he called by her Dacian title without any other title.
“Mother Greta. So I see,” Oreona said with a smile, and Greta was the only one who understood, besides Mavis. Greta nodded and responded.
“I have to be careful what I eat at this point. I have been feeling sick in the morning.” Everyone suddenly looked at Greta as if for the first time. Greta could see the wheels working in several minds that wondered if such a journey was wise in her condition. She ignored them.
“Morning sickness. A human affectation I am glad elf-kind does not share,” Oreona said.
“We thank you for this supper and the promise of a time of rest, but you should know we are being followed,” Alesander took back the conversation and turned everyone’s attention from Greta, for the moment. Lord Longbow interrupted.
“By the followers of Mithras and the Wolv of Mithrasis. This we know, but rest assured, they will not come here.”
“And who told you we were coming?” Briana asked this time, and Greta smiled her approval. As an elect, Briana naturally began to pick up on such things and ask for herself.
“Mithras,” Oreona said. “The male one, and I do not understand what game the old man is playing.” Oreona glanced at Greta who quietly nibbled on a bit of venison and bread. The elder elf looked at her hands and took a deep breath, which made it look like a time of confession. “By my art, I have seen the monstrous crow, the lion in the thunder, the Persian whose magic is great and terrible, and the sun-runner, a magnificent beast, and I have discerned that all of them, including Mithrasis, appeared just over a hundred years ago, certainly less than two hundred years. For some reason the soldier and the Pater, the Father are hidden from me.” She paused and Lucius interjected a question.
“How could this be? I thought the gods were there at the beginning of all things.”
Greta spoke up to answer the man. “In the ancient days, when a god or goddess was born, reality changed to accommodate this new god, and the people all knew the god or goddess by name and believed this new one was as old as the others, being from the beginning of history. When Apollo and Artemis were born, the people in the jurisdiction of Olympus, not everyone in the world mind you, but those subject to Olympus and the little and lesser spirits knew them and believed they were born at the beginning of history with all the others. In truth they were born later, I won’t say how much later, but suffice it to say they were imagined to be grown up even when they were only babies. Mithrasis was born or created less than two hundred years ago. It is only the reality adjustment that is telling you she is from the beginning of time.”
Greta saw Hermes, Lucius and Briana shake their heads, so she offered a bit more. “Think about it. You know that once the Titans ruled the earth, and the gods were born long after time began. Zeus, that is Jupiter, was the youngest of his siblings. He set his siblings free and they overcame their father Cronos and banished Cronos to the deepest pit of Tartarus. And Briana. You know Rhiannon calls Danna “Mother.” and I told you it was more like great-great grandmother, but you know that had to happen at some point after time began. Think about it.”
“And Salacia?” Alesander asked.
Greta took a deep breath, but could not imagine any harm coming from the telling. “This age began between ten thousand and forty-five hundred years ago, with a flood and a foolish tower. Salacia is less than two thousand years old. She was born after the days of Hammurabi; just after the Hyksos invaded Egypt, and just before the Hittites sacked Babylon.”
“Two thousand years is still a long time ago for us poor mortals,” he said.
“That is a long time for us elves as well,” Lady Oreona added.
Greta paused and turned to Oreona. “Since the time of dissolution, Mithras seems to want to build a new pantheon, and where better these days than Rome? Mithrasis is the Nymphus, the female groom, the masculine bride. What worries me is there are six altogether out there with her, but I cannot be certain about that because Mithras seems to be changing his mind.”
“She is trapped. I have seen it.” Oreona responded. “And the old Lord Mitra is trapped with her. He warned us of your coming in a dream. We only wish to help.”
“And I thank you,” Greta said for the group. “But good food and a good night’s rest is the best help.” She would not ask the descendants of the elves of Miroven to risk anything more.
“But here, we have it all worked out.” Lord Horns interjected, and Longbow took up the telling.
“In a few days, when you are fed and rested, we will take you to the Lake of Gold. There we will give you into the hands of Lord Treeborn, the fairy King. He and his will then guide you to the edge of the Swamp of Sorrow where Lord Crag and the goblins hold sway. They have pledged by every mighty word to guide you safely through the swamp to the city of Samarvant on the River called Heartbreak. The river flows northeast from there, but after that point, you will be beyond our help.
“Goblins in the swamp?” Poor Nudd had his eyes closed most of that time, and Greta took a moment to run a hand through his hair.
“Hush. It will be all right.”
Vedix spoke up in the common Gaelic of the people. “Eat up, boy. It may be some time before you get another feast as good as this.”
Nudd smiled a little, but having his eyes closed had not prevented him from eating plenty.
“I knew a goblin in a swamp once,” Greta said as a matter of conversation. “I met Friend in China when I was cursed and sent to the hell of the Nine Gods.” Greta let her voice trail off as she reminisced.
“What happened?” Lord Horns asked, before Hermes could voice the question.
“He helped me escape from that hell, so as a reward I turned him into the first hobgoblin in history. To this day, I am not convinced that was a wise decision. Hobgoblins, by definition are no end of trouble.” Greta paused and came out of her reverie to look around the table. Most mouths were open and staring, and the elves looked especially wide eyed at being reminded just what their goddess could do. Greta decided it might be best to retreat.
She rose first from her seat, and after thanking her hosts and hostess, she made for the back of the room and the nearest bed. She sent her armor away with a thought but kept the fairy weave she wore beneath, and she curled up under the covers. She would let the others argue about the details of the journey. After a moment, she heard Mavis curl up in the bed beside her, but then she slept like a baby.
Greta and her friends soon need to leave the elves behind and travel to the lake of gold.
Until then, Happy Reading