The fight did not last long. Both Bedivere and Uwaine killed their man, and the third Roman fled, wanting no part of it. Gerraint’s encounter with Ondyaw was even shorter as Fate cracked the Roman’s sword on first contact and broke it in two. Gerraint’s well aimed back swing sliced through the Roman’s jaw like it was putty, and the man’s jaw fell to the ground, his own eyes fastened on it. “Tooth for a tooth.” Gerraint muttered. Then Ondyaw collapsed as Fate had also cut through most of the man’s neck. Gerraint stirred himself, then. He was not unaware of what happened elsewhere.
The words came from somewhere in time. “No fire!” He yelled in the Agdaline tongue, the command language to which all dragons were bred to obey. “Do no harm!” Gerraint was aware that when dragons went wild, when they generally shed their feathers and got big, the Agdaline commands did not always register.
“No fire! Do no harm!” Gerraint shouted again while the dragon cocked its’ head as if in confusion. Gerraint decided it would not be worth the risk of his own skin. Besides, there was something he needed to check out. He found Amphitrite once more, but this time Danna pushed her way in front. He traded places with Danna, exchanging one life in time for another. The Don floated right up to the dragon’s face, repeated the commands for the sake of those below, but concentrated on looking for that fingerprint. It showed there, but looked covered by another.
The dragon breathed as it faced the goddess. Fire came, but Danna merely felt warmed by it. She was the Mother goddess who touched the fires of the sun itself as well as the fires that ran like blood through the earth. She was also, as Amonette, the serpent of Egypt and inclined to commiserate with this worm. And again, she was the cold north wind and the frost that hardened the metal beaten on the anvil.
“Rhiannon.” Danna commanded immediately as she floated back to the ground. The goddess showed up instantly and kissed Danna on the cheek.
“Mother.” Rhiannon said, lovingly.
“Rhiannon, dear. What is with the dragon?”
Rhiannon looked pained for a minute. “It was his suggestion.”
“His who?” Danna spoke with some sternness in her voice. “Don’t tell me this is the worm’s fault. Eve already tried that one.” The dragon moaned, softly and the women turned.
“Go home and take a nap.” Danna commanded.
“Sleep?” The dragon barely mouthed in Agdaline.
“You heard me. No arguments.” Danna insisted and the dragon shot flame straight up into the sky with a moan loud enough to make the few men who were still near cover their ears against the sound. The dragon took to the sky and was soon lost in the clouds.
“He, who?” Danna returned to the former conversation, not having forgotten. Rhiannon had that pained look again.
“Young Abraxas,” she said, and then she struck a pose. “Master of light and dark. God of good and evil. He has such an ego.”
“Sounds it,” Danna said. “And you listened to him?”
“Well,” Rhiannon hedged. “You were hurt and seemed in such trouble. He suggested the dragon might help you escape.”
“Help? It went straight for the tent where we were held prisoner. If we had not escaped already, we would have been toast!”
“I did not know,” Rhiannon admitted. “He is a very slick character.”
Danna stopped walking and Rhiannon stopped with her. “Daughters don’t usually take a mother’s advice on such things. And I don’t honestly remember if you are a granddaughter or great-great, whatever. Not that it matters. But he does not sound like the sort of young man a mother, any mother, would like. Please avoid him in the future.”
“Oh, yes I will,” she said. “Most assuredly.”
Danna leaned over and returned Rhiannon’s kiss and barely kept her tongue from saying, “You lie like an elf.” She traded places then with Gerraint and came straight to the point.
“The Welshmen,” Gerraint said.
“I have them,” Rhiannon admitted. “They wanted me to open a door to Avalon, Gwynwas as they call it. Abraxas seemed keen on the idea as well.”
“You didn’t.” Gerraint needed to hear it.
Rhiannon pretended offense. “No,” she said. “You have told us a million times how the Island is private, even if we are your children. That is your place, shared with Mannanan in the old time. Mine was in Tara, before it was deserted.”
“Yes, about that,” Gerraint said. “I thought after Lancelot you were going over to the other side with the others? The time of the gods is over. What are you still doing here?”
“Galahad,” she said. “And you did ask me to keep Meryddin under wraps for the rest of his life.
“Oh, yes. And how is the geezer?”
“Gone.” Rhiannon said, sadly. “And I’ve been thinking of moving the court elsewhere. I don’t want to stay and be reminded.”
“What is it with you and the wrong sort of men?” Gerraint asked with some tenderness in his voice. He wiped the tear that formed in the corner of her eye. “But seriously, if Meryddin is now gone and Galahad is grown, why are you still here?”
“Apparently, there is one more young man. But I do not know who it is yet.”
“Yes, well you must not dawdle. Nearly all of the gods have already passed over centuries ago, you know.” Gerraint still spoke with some tenderness. Dying was hard enough when it was involuntary, not that her spirit would cease to function in the world, only she would no longer have flesh to touch the world, or eyes to see, or ears to hear. She would be more like a force in this world, deaf, dumb and blind, and subject only to the directions of the Spirit of the Most-High God.
Rhiannon looked at Gerraint and smiled. “Don’t worry,” she said. “Festuscato has already scolded me enough. “Keep away from Patrick! You should not be here!” OH!” Rhiannon read the look on Gerraint’s face and stopped. “He was a past life of yours, don’t you remember?”
He remembered, but he wanted to have a bit of fun. “Past would be the only ones you would know,” Gerraint said. “But that doesn’t mean I know. You know the rule. Never tell the Kairos about any life he has not yet experienced.”
“Oh, yes, but then you trade places sometimes with the future lives,” she responded.
“Festuscato?” Gerraint grinned, and she knew he was teasing.
“Stop it. You’re embarrassing me.” They came to Uwaine and Bedivere. She named them, looked gently into their minds, and welcomed them to the lake.