“The big bird is after the big worm,” Bogus said it, and they all ran to the door in time to see the dragon grabbed by the bird beak and tossed into the trees. The dragon protested with fire, and it looked like it held its own for a while, but the bird kept grabbing it and shaking it and banging it against the trees, until at last, the big worm ran out of strength.
The bird picked up the worm with its claws and headed into the sky. It punctured something, as the people smelled the gas. The hydrogen bladder that ran along the whole belly of the beast had a leak. The dragon waited until they circled enough to gain some altitude, then Nameless said a quiet, “No.” as the dragon flamed himself. There followed a massive explosion. People screamed at the horror. Pieces of dragon rained down on the forest along with all of the insides of the Raven. The bird plummeted in a streak of flame, and Berry and Fae raced out to where the dragon fell. The rest of the crew followed.
Nameless saw something in his mind, picked everyone up with a thought and transported them to where the dragon head had turned into a very old and broken man. Nameless also caught sight of the spark of light that came from the Raven. It shot to the south, well beyond the dome, but he said nothing as Berry and Fae fell down beside the broken old man and began to cry.
The man could hardly speak, but he looked first at Bogus and breathed. “Sorry father.” Then he spoke to the girls. “You have my permission and blessing. They seem fine men, such as they are.” Then he turned to Nameless and stumbled over his thoughts. “None of the parts of Mithras mean good for the human race. They want to be the new gods and they all want to lead their way. Beware Mithras. He is the Pater.”
The old man’s voice trailed off and Nameless raised his head and commanded attendance. “Willow,” he called, and his command went all the way to the Ural Mountains where a snow fairy vanished and reappeared at Nameless’ side. The fairy spun around several times, but halted on sight of the Nameless god. “Your grandson,” Nameless pointed to the old man, “And your great-granddaughters.” He stepped back, and let Willow find her own way.
Willow flew up to face the old man. She took on her big form, which made her appear like a beautiful, older woman, perhaps just shy of fifty. She knelt beside the old man and looked briefly at Fae and Berry before she smiled for the man and spoke. “You are Oren?”
“I am,” Oren whispered. “And now my days are complete.”
Willow took Oren’s hand, the one Berry was not squeezing, and found one tear to protest. “But you are so young.”
“More than a hundred,” Nameless said softly. “More than long enough for a half-human.”
Willow looked up at Fae and Berry. “Berry,” she said. “Queen Thumbelin has told me wonderful things about you, and young Mab said you were all right, which I think at her age is a great compliment.” Berry’s eyes teared up so she could not say anything. “And Fae. I have heard from far away, from my dear old friend, Thissle, that you are a kind and wonderful person. How you ever got involved with the old stinker, Hobknot, I will never know.” Willow paused to wink at Hobknot, who scowled appropriately in return. Clearly, they had some history. “But love is a strange and wonderful thing, and that is worth holding on to.” Willow turned her eyes toward Bogus who stood that whole time, quietly worrying his hat.
“Mother.” He spoke when her eyes fell on him.
Willow smiled for her son. “Sometimes love takes us places where we could never imagine. Love had its way with me and your father, and though it was only for a short time, he gave me you, my son.”
“I’ve been not much of a good son,” Bogus said. He lowered his eyes and shuffled his foot.
“But you have.” Willow smiled for her son. “I have been thinking about it now for more than a hundred years. I was wrong. You loved your human woman, Clarissa. The Kairos has taught us that we are not to mingle with human mortals, but even she knows that love will have its way. I treated her badly. I was terrible. I was wrong, and I went away, and I am sorry. I missed my grandson’s whole life, and now I can never get that back.” Willow looked down and a few precious fairy tears fell to dampen Oren’s side. Oren extracted his hand from Berry’s grasp and with a great effort, he covered Willow’s hand and patted it twice. Bogus found a few tears of his own and stepped up to hug his mother. Nameless spoke.
“There are only two things in life that everyone experiences. Love and death. And we have no control over when they will come.” Nameless went away so Greta could return and finish the thought. “Who would have thought I would end up with a Roman?” She stepped up and looked down at Oren. “Sleep now,” she said. “The old life has gone. The new life has come.” Berry reached for the cross she wore around her neck and Oren closed his eyes and stopped moving. Immediately, they heard a howl. The Wolv were not far away. Greta lifted her voice to the sky. “Nameless! You are mean.” He brought her back to face her own Wolv.
“What are we going to do?” Hans asked.
“Oh, Hans.” Greta stepped to the side and amended her word. “Hansel.” She grinned as she waved her hand in the air. A great archway formed, a doorway to Avalon in the second heavens. Greta and Berry had been there once. Now, the others were coming, but then her little ones were always welcome. “Hans and Hobknot, carry Oren,” Greta commanded. “Quickly now. Through the door before the Wolv catches us by the heel.”
People scrambled as another howl came, closer than before. They heard the yip-yip of the Wolv before they crossed the threshold and stepped out on to a perfect, green lawn beneath a beautiful blue sky and a magnificent castle on a hill. A small river ran through the grasses and emptied into the sea at their backs. To their left were great rock pillars, like guardians against the sea. To their right stood a field full of grain ready to harvest. The air felt crisp in the late fall, but they saw no snow to cover the ground. Directly behind them all, in the doorway to Earth, Greta stood and waited.
A Wolv ran up, but stopped as it tried to make sense of where it stood as opposed to what it saw through the archway. A second and third Wolv arrived and stopped as well. The third Wolv looked like an old gray-haired Wolv. Greta spoke to the gray hair, and since she spoke from Avalon, she knew her message would be understood.
“You know this planet is off limits. Your fleet will be destroyed in space before it can arrive if your commander is foolish enough to come here. As for your transport, I have other tasks to perform, but as soon as I am free, I will attempt to repair your ship so you can leave. You would be wise to confine yourselves to the forest of the dome in the meanwhile. Do not interfere with the war between the humans, unless you have a wish to die and be no more.”
Greta snapped her fingers and the door to Avalon blinked out of existence.
After a stay on Avalon, Greta and her family need to visit her brother who lives on the north border of Dacia. She sees only blood being spilled, and fears the war to come. Until Monday…