The night creature, and one that seemed able to move in daylight, contrary to all things natural, roared. It moved slowly and awkwardly, like a donkey might move in a barnyard, as it looked her over. Flern was not fooled by the awkward gate. When it attacked, it would move more graceful than a leopard and with more ferocity than a whole pack of hungry lions. Flern felt she only had one choice, to call on the gift of Odin. She felt it in her gut, and it burst from her hands just as the night creature prepared to charge. No way her blast would have melted the main gun of a Gott-Druk battleship, but in this case, it proved enough to put a foot-wide hole through the beast and continue to where it put an equal hole in the newly erected wooden wall. The night creature, what remained of it, collapsed, and then sizzled in the sun until it was no more.
The Wicca screamed and threw her hands toward Flern. Flern got caught in the middle by the same kind of force she just used, a force great enough to lift her from her feet. The force could not break through the shield of Frigga, and even if Flern only reflected in a small way the gift given to Wlvn, it seemed enough so the force did not harm her. It did drive her back, however, until she reached the middle of the river where it sent her down under the deep of the water and held her there.
Flern asked her water sprites to wait. She figured the gift of Njord would not let her breathe all day underwater like it would for Wlvn, but she could certainly breathe underwater for a few minutes. The Wicca kept up the pressure for a good five minutes before assuming she must have drowned. When the pressure lifted, Flern let the sprites help her up. She came to her feet on the top of the water where her water babies held her up. She spit the water out of her lungs and then walked back to the land on top of the waves.
“Thank you,” Flern said as her feet reached the shore.
A little water baby head popped up from the waves and squeaked an excited, “Your welcome,” before it disappeared again moving downstream.
By the time Flern reentered the circle, she had gotten just about dry, apart from her hair. “A fine dip in the fine water. Very refreshing. Thank you,” Flern said. The Wicca said nothing. She simply clapped again. Flern imagined the Wicca had to be running out of steam, given her age and the amount of power she had already exerted. Flern knew she was getting tired with all of this.
When Flern looked up, she saw her parents and sisters dragged to the circle by Jaccar. The Jaccar had swords drawn, and the threat appeared to be against her family’s necks.
“No,” Flern said in a surprisingly calm voice. Mother Vrya said I had to be willing to be who I am. Well, I am her son even when I am her daughter. And I am also her son when I am her son.” Flern went away from that time and place so Nameless could stand in her place. “You go too far,” he said, and in the blink of the Wicca’s eye, Flern’s family and all three hundred and fifty-two villagers disappeared from their village and reappeared safely across the river. The Jaccar found their swords all put away, and Nameless took one step toward the Wicca who screamed in terror.
Loki came, and the first word out of his mouth was, “Please.” It had a touch of sarcasm in it.
“Hilde,’ Nameless called. “Mother.” Both women appeared, one to each side of him, and they waited with an eye on Loki to see what might transpire.
“Please,” Loki began again with much more sincerity. “Odin pledged a time of indulgence.”
“The time is over,” Nameless said. “Your spoiled little brat has caused too much undue suffering. Set the Jaccar free and let them go home to their families and children. Let her go home to live out the remainder of her days in peace.”
“But she is my daughter.” Loki’s crooked face scrunched up with angst. “They won’t let me make her immortal. A little kindness. She has so little time.”
“That is the problem. Your kindness to her is terror and hatred to everyone else. Now it is ended.”
“But Hellas has vowed to keep her half-sister in torment and torture forever, and there is no talking her out of it.”
“Mother?” Nameless turned to Vrya. He did not have to spell it out. She took her son’s hand and pointed at the Wicca.
The old woman crashed back in her chair and screamed again. “Father. You promised.” A sickly green light, the color of mold and decay came out of the Wicca to dissipate in the sunlight. Then it was done. The Wicca collapsed, like she no longer had the energy to sit up straight. She was old, and now she showed it. She looked tired. She looked used up.
“Now she is fully human,” Vrya said. “Now I can let her serve in my house when the time comes to make up for all the people she forced to serve her in her lifetime.”
“When the time comes, I will personally bring her to your home,” Hilde said.
“How can I trust you?” Loki’s face contorted. “Do you promise to do this?”
“The gods don’t make promises,” Nameless responded. “But you have three witnesses who will see if people stay free and if she lives in peace.”
“But father,” the Wicca’s voice sounded weak and cracked in the upper register. “You promised I could have what I want.”
“You don’t know what you want, child,” Vrya said, and she looked to her son for an answer.
Nameless nodded. “It is a breach of temporal etiquette, but I can give her something like medicine to indulge her in her final days.” He thought through the recipe so Vrya, Hilde and Loki could catch it. Then he produced a small bowl out of thin air. He handed it to Loki who tested it with a finger. He gave a small spoonful to his daughter who made the strangest noises.
“Nectar,” the Wicca called it and grabbed for the bowl. It was Chocolate ice cream, and with it in hand, Loki and his daughter vanished from that place.
“Indulgent,” Vrya said with a slight smile.
“I’ll never be thin again,” Hilde admitted.
“Jaccar leaders!” Nameless shouted. The Jaccar were all on their knees before the gods so Nameless softened his voice, but it still carried the power to be heard. “Go home.” The Jaccar found their horses saddled and ready, and with minimal urging from their chiefs, they mounted and rode off into the East, never to return.
Vrya kissed her son. “I await the day when you will be my little one,” she said, and vanished.
Hilde bowed. “My Lord. I am yours with a willing heart, and I have sisters now to help in this great work.” She vanished.
Nameless waited until the Jaccar were all gone before he vanished and Flern came home to stand on the riverbank, all alone in her own village. Across the bank, the people were cheering and celebrating, and Flern did not blame them. No more good people would have to die.
The conclusion of the story followed by a look ahead toward Avalon, Season 9, the final season. Until then, Happy Reading.