Reflections Wlvn-10 part 1 of 3

Boritz turned out to be quite good with the cutter-club he carried around. It looked like an auguar thigh bone or some similar big bone, and it had stones driven through the head like spikes, so it looked altogether like a medieval mace. Flern did very well on her second time around. She credited it to her subconscious mind working on the problems while she worried about other things. To be sure, she felt more prepared, mentally, for this go around, and Boritz did not catch her, even with his fancy moves. What struck her, though, was not how well she did but how strong Boritz was. He could go toe to toe with her and match her Thor enhanced strength. That got her to thinking. Maybe Boritz could be convinced to take on the Titan.

“So how did you get to be so strong?” she asked, as she rode beside him and Andrea once they started out again.

Boritz shrugged. “I come by it natural,” he said. “I guess it is in my blood. I was not lying when I said that Perun was my grandfather.” He smiled, but Flern’s countenance fell. Boritz would not do. She understood that much. The gods, for some reason, could not face the Titan. They had to ask Wlvn to do it. Thus, she had to assume that anyone tainted by the blood of the gods would not do. Of course, she just guessed, and she said so out loud.

“It would be nice to know what was going on.”

“We are going over the mountains, yes?” Boritz did not understand her words.

“Yes.” She answered, and with one more look behind, she scooted up front to ride beside Laurel.

Night came quickly, the sun setting as it did behind the mountains. “I believe we have come far enough so the night creatures won’t catch us, but the Swr River is below here, and it is a couple of hours yet to the village,” Badl reported.

“But have we come far enough so whatever set those traps won’t catch us?” Wlkn had to ask.

“Maybe not.” Badl started to speak, but Laurel interrupted.

“But they may not know about horses and riders, exactly. They might just think a herd of horses came this way and whatever footprints that we left around the trap simply vanished, like maybe we flew away.”

“I would not put it past Loki to use ghouls for his own purposes.” Badl got his word in.

“So, what are ghouls?” Andrea asked. They were all wondering and Laurel and Badl looked at each other before they talked, as if there might be some unspoken communication regarding secrets to be kept and things that could be revealed. Badl finally spoke.

“They are related to the Djin, mighty spirits of the desert, full of magic, mostly evil. My father came originally from the land between the Tigris and Euphrates where the Djin congregate.”

“Bain.” Flern named Badl’s father and Badl nodded.

“My father Bain was an imp, but our god turned him into one of the first of the true, common gnomes. After his wife Pinky died tragically, he migrated north and vowed to remain single for the rest of his days; but shortly our god, who was a goddess then, one Faya by name, a name that meant Beauty, and I understand she truly was. A red head…” Bain paused to look at Flern. “She got hold of him and changed his mind. Faya lived on the Were plateau, by the way, and on the other side of the mountains to boot, and my father lived near her. Well, eventually he found a dwarf woman, and they married so to speak, and, well, here I am. I guess that makes me sort of a half and half myself. Half gnome and half dwarf you might say.” Badl looked at Moriah by the end of his speech and she looked right back at him with the points of her ears turning ever so slightly red.

“I was named Beauty and lived on the Were plateau? I thought the Were did not let anyone in their neighborhood.” Flern sounded stumped.

“Yes, well…” Badl turned to speak to her. “I know the law. If you don’t remember Faya for yourself, I’m not supposed to speak about it.”

Andrea snapped her fingers to get everyone’s attention back. “But what about the ghouls?”

Laurel took up the telling at that point, after assuring Badl with her look that he indeed said too much. “Ghouls like to feast on raw flesh, and human flesh is definitely on the menu. They have attacked elves and dwarfs at times, and sometimes take goblins and imps as slaves, though I don’t suppose they get very far with the ogres and trolls. Anyway, they are big, like Boritz in size, and they are tough and terribly strong, and they have retained some magic from the days with their desert cousins, and honestly, if they were more organized, they would be a terrible menace to the whole world. There are only two things that are to our advantage.”

“Eh?” Wlkn got on the edge of his seat.

“First, they only hunt in small groups, normally groups of ten, so if we are being followed, there probably are not more than ten of them or so, and some of those may be young. And second, the reason they travel in small groups is because otherwise the temptation to eat each other is too strong. We say in the deep woods, when a ghoul visits a ghoul, on the first day he is company, on the second he is an annoyance, and on the third he is supper. That is what my people say.”

“A comfort,” Wlkn said, and he made the mistake of turning toward Elleya who could not resist opening up about all sorts of things, including, at one point, about how Badl and Moriah ought to get married, which embarrassed them both. Elleya ran out of steam somewhere between sharks and barracuda. After all that talk about night creatures and ghouls, all Elleya could think of was things with teeth.

Andrea spoke as soon as Elleya took a breath. “Well, with that said, I guess we better try to get some sleep.”

“If anyone can sleep in this cold,” Wlkn added, with a yawn.

“We could snuggle. I could keep you warm,” Elleya suggested, and Wlkn did not protest.

“Me too.” Boritz yawned. He sat next to Andrea, and everyone knew he meant that he felt tired and ready to sleep too, but Andrea could not resist a response.

“You keep your hands to yourself, mister,” she said. She wagged her little finger in the big man’s face and poked him once in the chest.

Boritz looked down at his knees. “Yes, Ma’am,” he said, with just the right bit of humility. Flern thought that it had not been a day and a half and Andrea already had the poor man whipped.

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