Reflections Flern-10 part 1 of 3

Less than an hour after sunset, they came to a mountain town. It stood perched on the side of the mountain itself, so it did not encroach on the plateau above. Indeed, a stockade wall had been built between the village and the plateau, and Wlvn understood it kept the villagers from violating the land of the Were even as it protected the village during the times of the wolf moon.

Wlvn felt the hair on the back of his head rise again and again as he walked the town. It got worse when he heard the people speak. The language remained unknown to Kined and the couples. Riah and Bricklebrains could understand and respond in any language known to humanity, so Wlvn knew they would have to depend on translations at that point. It got worse still when a lovely young woman came to stand in their way and spoke.

“She wants to know how it is that elves and dwarfs travel with mere mortals,” Riah said.

Wlvn said nothing at first but stepped up for a closer look at the girl. When he spoke, it was only one word. “Raini?” The look on the girl’s face said she knew that name, and she responded with a string of words that Wlvn mostly grasped.

“My ancestral mother. How do you know this? She was in the days of Faya, the beautiful, when we first came to live beside the plateau of the Were. Faya made peace with the Were when all the world was at war, and Raini made peace across the plains for she was a great warrior, daughter of Vrya herself, goddess of love and war,” Riah translated.

Wlvn nodded as he grasped for understanding. After a moment, he left that place so Faya herself could fill his place. The girl screamed, but quickly stopped screaming as a crowd gathered in the twilight.

“I was born and raised here,” Faya told the others. “Youngest of nieces, do you have a name?”

“Who are you?” the young girl stammered.

“I am Faya, come home for the night.” Faya’s words and syntax were a bit old, like someone in the twenty-first century speaking Shakespearean English, but she was understandable. The young girl and several of those gathered genuflected as if confronted by a goddess while others ran off as if they had seen a ghost.

“I am Nadia. They say I am named after one of your aspects.” The girl lowered her eyes. “But to be sure, I never believed the old legends. Not exactly.” It came out as a real confession, and Faya lifted the girl’s chin and shared a radiant smile that glowed with life, health, and the brightness of the sun.

“My grandniece, Nadia. We seek only shelter for the night. Is there a place where we can be safe?”

“Yes. I mean, yes. I know just the place. It is outside the town on the road down to the plains below. It is where many traders stay and where the metal merchants come. I will take you there.”

Faya explained and they followed after the girl while Faya spoke. “You are very like Raini, you know.”

“How could I be?” Nadia sounded uncertain about this whole thing. “They say she was filled with love and the most beautiful woman who ever lived but only for yourself.” Nadia paused to glance up at Faya. “And I never saw such beauty as yours.”

“But I pale compared to your greatest grandmother. You should see her, the goddess of love herself, and of war.”

“Yes.” Nadia jumped a little. “I always thought I would be good with a bow and even a sword, like yours. But the men won’t let me.”

“Their loss.”

“They say my ancestor Raini could fight better then the best and that she even beat the son of Thor in battle. That must have been glorious.”

“It was scary, and complicated,” Faya responded as honestly as she could without getting into an all-night story. “The gods themselves were at war in those days and Raini and Vrya were right in the middle of it all. They loved it, but to be honest, I was more reluctant.”

Nadia fell silent for a moment before she came out with another, deeper thought. “I pray to the goddess every night. Well, every night that I remember to pray, and I ask to find love, a true love.”

“Why don’t you ask to see her? Maybe she can explain what she has in mind. I am sure with Vrya’s blood in your veins, she might be willing to pay a brief visit. I don’t know, but it never hurts to ask.”

“I never thought—” Nadia took a deep breath. “I would be so afraid. I could never ask for such a special thing. Why, the wise men and women themselves have never seen one of the gods in all their days.”

Kined spoke up from behind where Riah dutifully translated the conversation for them all. “That’s because they never got to hang around with Flern, or Wolven or Faya or Doktor Mishka or the Princess or Diogenes or, did I forget anyone?”

“Nameless,” Pinn said.

“Of course, the god himself.”

“Wolven mentioned Amphitrite. He said she was a goddess married to a god of the sea, though I can’t remember his name,” Vilder said.

“Poseidon,” Kined offered.

“But Faya isn’t Poseidon,” Thrud said.

“No, Amphitrite, his wife” Vilder repeated.

“What about the Storyteller?” Gunder asked.

“Haven’t met her yet,” Vinnu assured her husband.

“Him, I think,” Pinn said.

By the time they reached the inn that actually had six empty beds much to everyone’s joy, Bricklebrains had to push up front and translated in turn for Nadia. They were all engaged in a serious discussion as they went in and Faya had to clap her hands and show off a bit of light like a flash picture to get their attention.

“I am going to see if I can get some word on Fritt as soon as I settle up here.” She turned in time to see an older gentleman come out from a back room.

“Welcome to my humble home,” he said as he looked twice and then a third time at Faya.

“Father,” Nadia said to no one’s surprise. “This is Faya, returned to us.”

Father smiled. “The red hair, and certainly beautiful if I may say. Named after the legend?”

“No, Father. You don’t understand. This is the legend.”

Nadia’s father had to wrench his eyes away from swallowing Faya to look at his daughter. “Don’t be silly.” He returned to Faya and became as much business as he could. “We take all kinds of trade for the rooms and food. What do you have to offer?” It was clear what he wanted her to offer.

Faya frowned and shooed Nadia back to the others. She clapped her hands again and shouted in a particular way. “Batwings and Dross. Here, now.” She pointed at the floor in front of her and the two goblins were obliged to appear. Nadia’s mother, who followed her husband, came out just then, took one look at the goblins, and fainted. The man gasped and stepped back. Nadia let out a little shriek, though it was quieter than the earlier scream. The others all laughed, to Nadia’s surprise.

Batwings had a black eye and Dross had a bloody lip. Faya grabbed a shallow bowl and ordered the two to empty their pockets. She let Dross keep the rat and let Batwings keep his mold collection. She confiscated the brass knuckles and bronze knife and that left several gold nuggets, a couple of rubies and a diamond. “Here.” She handed it to Nadia’s father. “This should be good for two nights plus as much food as they want.” She turned back to the goblins and shook her finger at them. “Stop fighting, now back to where you came from.” Faya clapped again and the two goblins disappeared. “Not that they will listen,” Faya sighed for the group. “Now I go.”

Faya stepped out the door and all eyes followed her. She immediately turned into a great owl, one with scarlet feathers that reflected her flaming red hair, and she took off for the plateau.

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