Reflections Flern-7 part 2 of 3

Flern rested in her own time and place in history but she sat up when the girls called. She got to her feet when she heard the noise of horses in the camp. “They are here,” old Gallred stuck his head in the door, but Flern already started on her way.

Laurel came first to the top of the rise on her elf-steed, one more capable than any the humans rode, and Flern’s mare followed dutifully behind. Kined and Fat Fritt came next, their jaws dropped as they pointed out amazing things about this world where the elf had taken them. The couples came last, Pinn beside Vilder, Vinnu beside Gunder and Thrud beside Tiren who brought up the rear.

Flern walked up as they dismounted. She introduced Gallred, the gray-haired elder elf before she gave her little speech. “I imagine Laurel explained. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I was here a day before I realized I can’t do this without you. Anyway, you all volunteered, and it is your village as much as mine. It was not fair to leave you behind. I understand that none of us may survive this journey, and that includes me.” She stopped because she started crying and could not say more.

 Pinn, the first to reach her, hugged her. Vinnu and Thrud were not far behind. The boys stood back and let the girls commiserate, but Laurel stepped up, spoke when she could.  “There, you see?” She added her own hug to the party. Flern simply wiped her eyes and nodded while Vilder spoke up.

“Trell has gone with Arania and the travelers. Tird has stayed with Vincas, and they will be married soon, I think. Elluin and Drud have also stayed in the village. I feel for her as much as any of us, but Drud has said he wants to do right and maybe make up for Bunder and their years of being ox droppings.”

“Vilder!” Pinn objected.

Vilder frowned before he grinned. “Okay, their years of being bad. But as you can see, the rest of us are here. You were the one who wanted to fetch the bronze all along. Maybe it would have helped if we went sooner, and maybe not. I was not sure when we escaped if we might all just end up settling somewhere. I thought the Jaccar could not be beaten. You showed us they can. You showed the village and the travelers that the Jaccar are not invincible. Now I feel we have a real chance to save our village and all of our families and friends. But we have to finish the journey together or die trying.” He paused and looked around at every face. “We understand the risks and I think now we understand why the Jaccar want to stop you, especially. We talked about that. We need to keep you alive to finish the journey because you are the best chance we have to set our people free.” Vilder stopped and looked again at everyone. His face asked if he said that right and if anyone had anything to add.

“I—” Kined started to speak but stopped when Flern turned to walk toward him. She wiped her nose and eyes on the sleeve of her dress as she walked up and gave him a hug, a quick thing before she turned away, but it felt important, or at least she felt it was.

“Got anything to eat around here?” Fritt broke the tension with the question and old Gallred stepped up.

“Of course, young human. Leave your horses to us and come and refresh yourselves. We have non-enchanted food specially prepared, just for you.”

Flern looked at the smiling elf. “It’s all right. I have already decided they won’t be enchanted by the food so feed them what you will.” She returned his smile.

That afternoon, Flern took the girls to the small pool in the woods. It appeared to be just a bit of crystal-clear water, but it had been surrounded by a soft lawn and plenty of flowers that grew to make the whole area smell lovely.  Laurel also accompanied them, but she kept back and kept her thoughts to herself.

“This is called the pool of reflection,” Flern explained with a look at Laurel who nodded. “The elves tell me that sometimes, instead of your own image, it can reflect what is most pressing on your mind and heart.”

“So, what?” Vinnu asked. “It will show me what I really want?”

“Not what you want, necessarily.” Flern started to explain better.

“Oh, go ahead,” Thrud interrupted. “If it is what you want, you will probably only see yourself.”

“Thrud!” Flern and Pinn objected, and Pinn pushed ahead to the pool. She looked, and at first, she only saw herself. The others watched, but from an angle so as not to disturb the image. After a moment, the water began to swirl, or rather the picture began to swirl. The water stayed as still and calm as ever. Slowly, a different picture formed. It remained Pinn, but she sat to the side, smiling, and nursing a baby. Pinn quickly backed away.

“Pinn,” Vinnu touched her friend on the hand. “I never knew.

“Who would have thought it?” Thrud spoke up.

“I never would have guessed,” Flern agreed, and Pinn turned a little red for one of the few times in her life. She moved Flern’s hand toward the pool.

“So, let’s see you,” she said.

Flern lifted her eyebrows, shook her head, and tried to back away, but the others would not let her. The more she said, “No, no, guys. Please, not me,” the more the others insisted until she finally gave in. She got in position, and looked and saw herself, but another picture came into focus quickly—the picture of a young man.

“Oh, where did you find him?” Thrud quickly asked. Pinn looked a little closer.

“Why, he looks just like you,” Pinn said.

“Who is it?” Vinnu asked.

Flern mouthed the word carefully. “Wlvn.” She saw Wlvn mouth a word in return, and she heard that word clearly in her head. “Flern.” Then their eyes met and Flern became terribly dizzy. She fell back, and after a moment, Wlvn sat up.

Wlvn smiled for Pinn, Thrud and Vinnu each in turn. He quickly checked the pool, but all he saw was his own reflection. He looked again at the girls and then up at the Lady elf who stood quietly by a tree. “Laurel.” He named her. “I see you are all grown up, and may I add, you are lovely.”

“My Lord,” Laurel came close. “You did that, or rather Flern did that despite knowing what was going to happen. Why?”

“I didn’t know what was going to happen. Flern did not know. We are partners in time as well as being male and female reflections of each other, you see. I am experiencing Flern and myself at the same time, more or less. Why?”

“Because you have double traded, as you called it. And as I understand it you are stuck now living Flern’s life and she is stuck living yours.”

“That can’t be good.” Wlvn reached out for Flern with his mind, but for the first time in years she was not there.

“I don’t understand,” Vinnu said.

“She is taking up not following things where Elluin left off,” Thrud said. Pinn elbowed Thrud but otherwise stayed exceptionally quiet.

“I assume I won’t find her again in the pool.” Wlvn spoke to Laurel.

“No Lord,” Laurel admitted, and then she appeared to think very hard before she spoke again. “When I was young and Flern appeared in your world I had a vision. In it, I saw you continuing her quest while she continued yours. Whether or not you find a way to straighten out your lives, I cannot say. But what you do is up to you. It is always up to you.”

“You will come with us?” Wlvn asked and Pinn, Vinnu and Thrud all looked at the elf. They had not considered that possibility, but they did not seem to object to the idea of bringing along a little magical help, as they saw it.

“I dare not. I rode with Flern, and I know the outcome of those days. I may speak of things out of turn which may change things in the future.” Wlvn looked disappointed, but he understood. “But there is one, if you wish.” Laurel let out a sound like the whip-o-will at sundown. It echoed through the woods, and it did not take long before they all heard an answer.

“Sounds like a girl,” Thrud said, and in only a moment, a girl ran up much faster than human legs could run. She looked young, maybe fourteen or fifteen, but she was not dressed in a dress like Laurel and the girls. Laurel, in fact, looked majestic to Wlvn’s ancient eyes, but this girl had more of the Peter Pan look about her, being in shorts, leggings and an alpine-type hat. She held a bow in her hand like it was her best friend.

“Is it done?” the girl asked, breathless.

Laurel nodded and introduced Wlvn and the girls and then introduced her daughter, “Moriah. She is not interested in the past and thinks she is an Amazon.” Moriah gave her mother a dirty look.

Thrud and Vinnu stood and said that they were glad to meet the girl, and happy to have someone on the journey who knew where she was going. Pinn looked at Wlvn, and so did Moriah. Wlvn spoke slowly as he framed his thoughts into words.

“After myself you must listen to Pinn and follow her instructions. Then you must listen to Vilder who is in charge of the boys and do what he says after Pinn. Is this clear?”

Moriah wrinkled her nose and looked at her mother who only smiled. “He is worse than you.”

“And another thing. I knew Moriah, the one I am sure you were named after.” Wlvn looked at Laurel who nodded. “I think we need to call you Riah instead. I get so easily confused.”

Pinn interrupted. “But Wolven, won’t you be in charge?”

Wlvn lifted his eyebrows and shook his head and the young women all gasped. It was what Flern always did. “I am an accidental traveler,” he said. “My chief job is to find a way to trade back so Flern can live her own life. Barring that, I have to figure out some way to overcome the Wicca.”

“The what?” Vinnu asked.

“She is the one in charge of the Jaccar. They only do her bidding.”

“And her magic is far stronger than my own,” Laurel said. “No little spirit can resist her power. We are safe here, but only because there are many of us.”

Wlvn nodded like he understood. “It must be in her blood,” he said, and Laurel agreed, though she could not imagine who the Wicca’s mother or father might be.

Wlvn shook off his thoughts and turned to Riah. “Well?” He asked, and it sounded a bit sharp. Riah jumped.

“Yes, Lord. I will do this.”

“Good.” Wlvn stood. “I need to introduce myself to the men, if a certain elf will accompany me.” Laurel just smiled broadly and stepped up to take his arm.

He smiled for her and shot the words over his shoulder. “We leave in the morning.”

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