Reflections W-2 part 3 of 3

Dismounting got the boy babbling.

“B-but, you were, you were….”

“One of the gods. Yes.” Wlvn dragged Gndr to old man Wlkn’s house where Strn and Brmr were already piling out of the doorway.

“N-no, you were….”

“Dressed for war and with weapons, yes I know.” Wlvn picked up Brmr for a hug while he looked at Strn. “Get your things, all of them,” he said.

Gndr tugged on his sleeve. “N-n-no! You were a girl.” Gndr, at fifteen, noticed.

“Oh. I suppose I was,” Wlvn said. He had not really thought about it that way until Gndr mentioned it.

“You’re not a girl,” Brmr assured him and Wlvn took a second to smile for her, but that was all the time he had. The mothers, children, and few old men and women left in the village were beginning to gather and ask questions. Wlkn asked as well. Wlvn whistled for all of his horses before he turned to the gathering crowd.

“Go,” he said. “Flee. Go visit your parents or relatives in the other villages. Go visit a friend. Move in.”

“What? Why?” People asked.

“The helpers will be here soon with their flying wagon, and I don’t expect there will be any village left after they are done.” The people looked horrified, but they did not move until Wlvn yelled. “Go! Now!” A few screamed and everyone shouted as they rushed off to gather whatever few possessions they might have.

“Wlvn?” Old man Wlkn did not ask an actual question.

“You need to come with us,” Wlvn said, and he turned to his siblings. “Gndr and Strn, mount your horses. We have to ride hard and fast.”

“Not again,” Gndr complained, but he did as he was told.

“But it will be dark soon,” Strn protested.

“I don’t know if I can,” Wlkn said, honestly enough, while Wlvn gathered the reigns of the gentle mare that Brmr started learning to sit upon.

“You must do your best,” Wlvn told Wlkn, even as he looked at Strn.

“But that’s my horse,” Brmr complained.

“You are riding with me,” Wlvn assured her, and he lifted her to the back of his second-best horse, and after realizing that he had nothing worth taking, he jumped up behind her and grabbed the reigns.

“But wait.” Old man Wlkn, who had gotten up very carefully on to the back of Brmr’s horse, looked like he wanted to dismount again, like he forgot something, but Wlvn interrupted the old man’s worried mumbling.

“Too late. Ride.” He took off. Gndr and Strn followed, after a moment, and Wlkn tried to catch up the whole way. Fortunately, with the coming darkness, Wlvn knew he would have to slow their pace, considerably. He only hoped that they could gain an insurmountable lead, first. He knew the shuttle might find them through the trees; but then it might not have scanners sophisticated enough for that. To be honest, the thing that scared him most was the idea that they were being followed by a bunch of dead men on horseback.

Wlvn never looked back, he didn’t dare, but he kept his ears open. He expected to hear the faint whine of the helpers’ shuttle at any moment. Helpers! Wlvn gagged a little on the name. He remembered who they were, one of the elder races of humanoids that had once shared the earth, but who had been taken off world in the time of a world-wide catastrophe. The Storyteller called them Neanderthal, but they called themselves Gott-Druk; and then he remembered something else. The Gott-Druk were not supposed to come back to the earth. Neither they nor any of the other elder races were supposed to return. Nor were they welcome. Yet here they were, helping Loki and a Titan enslave the one remaining earth-bound race, the human race. Fortunately, Wlvn remembered yet one more thing. One elder race, the one called the Elenar had issues with the Gott-Druk. Wlvn did not know where the message came from, whether it came to him from somewhere in time, or from somewhere closer to home, he heard the message loud and clear that the Elenar were on the way.

“Great!” He mumbled. All he needed was two ancient, space-faring races battling it out right over his head.

“It is great!” Brmr shouted, her face in the wind and her hair blowing for all it was worth. “It is great.” She said it again and turned her head to smile up at her brother with a smile so full and sure, Wlvn could practically count her teeth.

 Wlvn prayed mightily, but he did not stop when he saw the line in the ground up ahead, now in the dim light of the moon rise.  He felt the sting as soon as they touched the barrier, but he had every hope that the horses would carry them across to safety, and they did, though it was not far before they slowed and eventually stopped. Both Strn and Gndr had slipped off to lie unconscious on the ground. Old man Wlkn stayed up on horseback, but he sagged and looked ready to slip off his mount at any moment. Brmr still breathed, thank God. Wlvn felt terribly dizzy, but he alone stayed conscious, not because of any virtue on his part, but because he was more or less fully grown, going on nineteen years, and yet still young enough to withstand the electrical shock. Sadly, there would be nothing he could do for the others for some time. Good thing he did not have to.

Mother Vrya arrived. She helped the boys recover quickly and made a cushion for Wlkn to fall on. Wlvn got down, Brmr in his arms, but he quickly fell to his knees and felt in danger of passing out. “Mother.” He managed the word before he slumped forward. He felt grateful for her attention, and he imagined she would speak soothing words. He did not expect the scolding.

“Quit being so dramatic. You survived the electric fence; now change to my son for a minute.”

“Oh.” Wlvn spoke with his face in the dirt and once again, he vanished from that time and the Nameless god came to take his place. “Mother!” Nameless almost scolded her right back as he sat up and spit the dirt from his mouth that Wlvn should have tasted: but the word of near scolding came also full of love. Vrya, after all, was the goddess of love.

Vrya stood over Brmr, the little one, but she paused as Nameless stood. She walked up to him with a very strange look on her face. “How long before you will be my little one?” She asked and placed her gentle hand on his cheek to caress his face.

“You know I cannot tell you that,” Nameless responded, but he had to smile when he said it.

“You know I cannot help asking,” Mother Vrya said, and she returned to her task. She picked up Brmr in her loving arms. Gndr and Strn shuffled up to stand beside her as she glanced at Wlkn who lay still, unconscious on his cushion. “Now that you are free of the land of the abomination, I can take these children to a safe place. I am sure you already have something in mind to do. I suspect that it will not be an easy journey, especially if you run into too much interference, only remember, I will be there when you need me, my son.” And she vanished. They were all gone, disappeared into thin air so only Nameless, old man Wlkn and the horses were there, including Thred, who had followed them all of the way from Wlvn’s village.

Nameless got to his knees as a precaution before he went away and Wlvn came back, also on his knees, of course. Wlvn thanked Nameless for being thoughtful because he decided that he might pass out for a while after all.

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MONDAY Chapter 3

Wlvn and old man Wlkn begin their quest but are immediately interrupted by Odin and by a high radiation energy blast which is luckily not well aimed.  Until then, Happy Reading

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Reflections W-2 part 2 of 3

Wlvn had a week to prepare for his journey to the center of the universe. He left the actual preparation of the grain and the wagon in Gndr’s hands since Gndr came of age and could not avoid going. Strn, not old enough, had to stay home and take care of Brmr, though Wlvn expected old man Wlkn to do most of the watching since he finally reached the age considered too old to make the trip.

“It will probably snow,” Wlkn said, while his eyes examined the sky. “And the villagers from Mskvt will fail to show up with the grain, and with the snow, we probably won’t be able to hunt or gather much.” Wlvn ignored the man and walked away before Wlkn started in on starving to death and whatever other worries might be on his mind.

While Gndr got the grain ready, Wlvn carved a new kind of harness, one where the horse could pull with his shoulders, not cut against his neck. He knew he tempted some time displacement in doing that, but he would not put Thred in any other kind of harness, and he would not take any other horse. Thred did not like being made to pull a wagon at all, but he was willing to lower himself for Wlvn’s sake who believed, without any evidence, that it was imperative he have the quick means for a getaway.

“All right, Thred. It won’t be for long.” Wlvn assured the horse and the horse puffed in response, but settled into a nice, easy pace. When they got to the line, Gndr seemed amazed. He never saw so many people in his life and he did not know that many existed. Wlvn hushed him and told him to keep his head lowered and do as he was told, just as he had been instructed by their father. “Don’t draw attention to yourself.” Wlvn talked to both Gndr and Thred, and then he looked around for his mysterious cloak, but he did not see Mother Vrya anywhere.

When they came to the top of the rise, Gndr let out the expected gasp, and Wlvn hushed him as he had been hushed. As they came near enough to be within range of hearing, Gndr, Wlvn, and every man and woman in the train had a terrible start. Wlvn had to cover Gndr’s mouth to keep him from screaming, and he had to look away to keep his own scream at bay. The Titan came out of the dome. He eyed the horses in the line and drooled like he could eat several, raw, and no doubt he would have if the immortal had not stepped between them.

“My Lord!” Loki shouted up and did something in the exercise of his godly power to be sure he was heard. Wlvn and everyone else found their eyes drawn up to the Titan, but in his fear, Wlvn quickly pulled his gaze away and turned it toward a party of mounted men that were half-hidden by one of the long houses. Wlvn recognized several men from the villages who looked to be riding in good order, and some helpers were with them, though they did not look at all comfortable on horseback. “My Lord!” Loki regained Wlvn’s attention. “Consider this new development before you act in haste. Think how these riders can extend your territory and bring ever more to the truth.”

The Lord of All did consider, and he looked out over the line of humanity which already served him, utterly. When he spoke, it was in a voice like thunder.

“Very well.” The Titan’s face seemed easy to read. He looked reluctant to give up his lunch. “For it has been said: cursed is the ground because of men. Through wretchedness they shall eat of it all their days. By the sweat of the ground, they shall eat until they return to the ground from whence they came, for they are dust and to the dust they shall return. All men must know this. We will extend our reach until all men can be made to understand.” With that, the Titan reached out and grabbed a man, snatched him right up off the ground. The man screamed. Many people screamed and looked away. The man stopped screaming when the Titan bit the man’s head off and went back into his dome because clearly the smell of horseflesh was driving him crazy.

Wlvn focused his eyes for a minute on Loki and noted how easily he swayed the Titan, even when the Titan wanted something. Wlvn wondered who was in charge here, and the worst of it, Loki would probably get away with it by blaming it all on the Titan. Wlvn felt like letting out a little Flern-type “Grrr,” but he got interrupted by a woman’s voice.

“No, no, my son.” He felt the tap on his forehead. Of course, by the time Wlvn looked around, the cloak went half-way down the line. He watched it disappear over the little rise, and then he heeded Mother Vrya’s advice, turned his eyes from Loki and concentrated on the task at hand. He reached down and scooped up a big handful of mud left from the recent fall rains. He splattered it directly in Gndr’s face which made Gndr open his eyes, wide. The mud went back and forth for a little, but then Wlvn ended it when he spoke.

“That is about as unappetizing as I can make us, now drag your feet and look down. Don’t do anything except what you are told.”

Gndr looked like he finally understood on the third telling. He tried to look stupid which Wlvn thought was a very simple thing for his brother to do.

When Wlvn and Gndr were third from the front, the movement of the horsemen caught Wlvn’s attention. He looked up, but his first sight was the face of Eir, peering out from the little window in her cage. He felt like she called him and spoke to him, though she could not have been speaking, exactly, from that distance. “It is a trap.” Wlvn hardly had time to respond when the horsemen pulled up for a closer look.

Wlvn looked down, emptied his mind and did everything he could think of to hide, hoping they would pass him by, but they stopped alongside the wagon all the same. Wlvn looked up at the riders in a last, mad hope that they might not give him away, but what he saw disturbed him beyond anything he had yet seen. The humans looked like empty shells. This appeared far worse than mere mind control or brainwashing. These men were the living dead, soulless zombies, animated flesh or flesh reanimated by the souls of the men after death, and it seemed a wonder the horses would even let them ride. Again, Wlvn suspected Loki. Wlvn knew that none of those living-dead options would be beyond the reach of the gods, but he also knew that the flesh was probably no longer under human control. No doubt, the flesh had become demon infested. They certainly pointed out Wlvn without hesitation, and one of the decaying corpses even made a sound probably meant to be, “He is the one,” but it came out, “Eeeaawonn”

Gndr screamed at the sight of the flesh falling off that finger, but Wlvn did not have the luxury to scream. One second, he reached for his knife and the next second he no longer stood there. Diogenes came all the way back in time from the court of Alexander the Great to stand in Wlvn’s place. What is more, he came clothed in the armor of the Kairos, god-forged chain mail over leather, and he had a sword at his back and a long knife across the small of his back also forged of that wonderful new material the dark elves had discovered, Flern’s dream metal, bronze.

“G-gods of Olympus!” Diogenes’ sword jumped into his hand, and he cut down the nearest helper where the helper had a hard time keeping his seat. He cut the restraining harness on Thred’s back with the same stroke. Thred responded by rearing up and making a great noise in the face of the zombies. Terrified by the smell of death, he could hardly contain himself. Gndr barely got out of the way, and at the same time, Diogenes sheathed his sword, well-practiced soldier he was, leapt up on Thred’s back and grabbed Gndr with his hand to drag the fifteen-year-old up behind him in one motion.

The zombies started to push their horses in to cut off his escape route, but Diogenes grabbed Gndr’s hands around his waist and brought Thred up again. Thred responded with a great noise and motion that made the other horses hesitate, and Diogenes seized the opportunity to race for freedom, brushing by the horse formerly occupied by one of the helpers, where the horse desperately tried to back away. Diogenes considered and went away from that place to let the Princess come and sit with Gndr, lightening the load on Thred’s back.

The sudden appearance of the woman in the man’s place disturbed and confused the zombies and dumbfounded the helpers so none of them went rushing after her. That allowed the Princess to take off back up the road at great speed, and she wasted none of the opportunity. Thred seemed more than happy to get out of there; but then, Loki, a master of false appearances, had not been fooled in the least; yet even he shouted, “Get him! Stop him! Kill him!” That did not help the zombies or the helpers since the boy, Gndr, was the only him present at the moment. The Princess wondered why Loki did not simply trap her with a small exercise of his godly power, but then, she did not waste too much energy wondering.

As soon as they were over the rise and out of sight, the Princess considered trading places once again through time even as she caught sight of the robe out of the corner of her eye. She thought Mother Vrya smiled. Of course! She traded places with Vrya’s son-to-be, the Nameless god, and that proved a good thing, because Gndr could not hold on much longer. Nameless glued the boy to his seat, but then he found he could do little more. No way they were going to disappear and reappear in Wlvn’s village. “Eir.” He said her name out loud. She was the one, blocking Loki’s efforts, canceling out any exercise of Loki’s godly power. That eased the Princess’ getaway. Unfortunately, Eir blocked Nameless as well. Nameless knew it was only because she was so young and did not exactly know what she was doing. Nameless smiled and loved the girl as he always would, and he at least tried to send a message. “Thanks. I’ll be back for you.” He felt her heart beat a little faster.

Thred let out great gasps of air by the time they got back to Wlvn’s village. The sun would soon be down, so he did not have much time to make his moves. Nameless unglued Gndr, who looked to be in absolute, uncomprehending shock, and then he let go of that place so Wlvn could return to his own life. Wlvn decided to keep the armor and weapons, however, and his armor dutifully adjusted itself to fit this new form

“Get down.” Wlvn had to tell his brother what to do and help him dismount.

Reflections W-2 part 1 of 3

It did not take long to disseminate the knowledge of the horses. Several villages were nearby, the fields almost touching, a necessity given the harsh conditions of their lives. Giving the knowledge of horses entailed Wlvn laying his hands on a lot of heads. The men were always grateful. With horses and knowledge, their hunting range would be increased ten-fold, and that alone might be enough to keep the winter plague at bay.

With horses beneath them, it did not take long to capture more. Some were trained to be ridden while others were trained to pull the plow or wagon. Wlvn got to select the riders and separate them from the work horses, though every village often had more than one able student, quick to learn. The people gave Wlvn the name, God of the Horses, and people began to treat him like one of the gods, whether he liked the name, or protested, or not.

The villagers agreed to keep this knowledge as far away from the helpers as possible. The villagers all agreed to keep their horses in the fields away from all well-worn paths, but as the days wore on into summer, people became animated about the possibilities for the future. Men, who had lived their whole lives without the slightest glimpse of hope, now became excited about the future. One man even had the courage to dream the impossible.

“Perhaps we might pay back the helpers for their cruelty and flee to a place beyond the reach of the dome altogether,” he said.

“There is no place beyond the dome.” A different man gave the crushing response.

“Then we will have to destroy the dome.” A third man spoke. He thought he was being realistic, though no one mentioned the Titan, or the immortal in residence, or the fact that the helpers had airships that could rain down fire from the sky. Wlvn did not imagine the fire cared if the man walked on foot or rode on horseback, but he held his tongue. Nothing he could say would deter men from dreaming, and he knew these dreaming men had never dared to dream before in their whole lives.

In the end, Wlvn got proved right. The secret of the horses lasted until the next harvest. Then, more than one idiot hitched his horse to his wagon to haul in his grain. Wlvn felt glad that at least no one proved so terminally foolish as to ride to the center of the universe. To Wlvn’s surprise, there did not seem to be much reaction from the dome. As one man described it, “The immortal convinced both the helpers and the Lord of All to let the men keep their horses. He said, “Consider the increase that may come from this new beast of burden the wretched have found for themselves.” You can be sure he meant to increase their take. He also said that the Lord of All should get horse meat off his mind. I suspect the Lord was thinking of his supper.” The man snickered.

Wlvn and his father were shocked at the man’s brash words. Just six months earlier, no one would have dared speak of the Lord of All with such disrespect.

~~~~~

Early one spring, the spring of Wlvn’s eighteenth year he whistled for his best stallion and took off across fields. He raced around the stubborn drifts of snow and through the trees just to see how far he could get. Thred, the horse, seemed more than willing to get into a good run, being an energetic three-year-old. Wlvn considered his horse’s name. It was the first horse among them all that the Princess called, “beautiful,” and she should know. She had been virtually raised on the back of a horse. Thred meant “beautiful” or “beauty,” but still, Wlvn could hardly call to his horse without thinking of his friend, or rather, Flern’s friend, Thrud. The language had degraded by Flern’s time, but Thrud still meant beautiful. Vinnu meant flower. Elluin meant little one. Pinn was a tough one, but it probably meant a gift, where in another time and place, the Storyteller suggested that it might mean “Gift of Grace.” Flern meant doe a deer, a female deer. To avoid singing, Wlvn imagined the grace and speed of his beast; but then he could not help envisioning Flern staked out on some guy’s dinner platter with an apple in her mouth. Would it be Strawhead Trell, Fat Fritt or Tird? Wlvn laughed as he heard, or imagined in his mind, the distant sound of a “Grrr.”

Wlvn turned his mind to his own prospects. He was not interested in any of the girls he knew, and though he supposed any unmarried young woman in the nearest dozen villages would have been overjoyed to be the wife of the God of the Horses, he found none of them especially attractive and imagined there might not be a brain among them all. True, Flern was known to say that Trell, Fritt and Tird shared a single brain. “They take turns using it.” Wlvn heard her say. But there it was. It bothered him and her. Whoever they ended up with simply had to be able to carry on a conversation. Wlvn wondered briefly if that would be the case in every life he lived.

Wlvn rode, prepared to camp out in the night. He honestly wanted to see how far he could get in a single day so he kept to a straight line as well as he could. He rode away from the center of the universe, and he did not stop until poor Thred became all breathless and sweating. Wlvn leapt from the back of his horse, not because he had seen something in the lowering sun that turned the sky red in front of him but a bit off to the left, and not because the land appeared any different up ahead, but because of something he saw in the dirt. It looked like a strip of dirt all along the ground where no grass grew, and it made a line in both directions for as far as Wlvn could see, perhaps curving just a little in the distance to suggest a circle.

Wlvn reached down and found a good stone. He threw it past the line, but nothing prevented the stone from following its normal course. At least he knew it could not be some kind of particle screen. Wlvn looked again, and he saw a bird pass right through the space. He thought he might just be imagining things, but the line in the dirt appeared so pronounced, it had to be something. When Wlvn walked up to where he stood only a hand span from the line, he found Thred by his shoulder. He patted the horse’s nose and apologized before pushing his horse’s nose beyond the line. The horse felt nothing, but as Wlvn’s fingers got close, he felt something like an electrical charge run right up his arm. Wlvn withdrew his hand, quickly and told Thred to eat up because it would be a long way home. Thred puffed and went right to grazing on the stubborn grass that survived all winter beneath the snows.

Wlvn tried to put his hand out again, but he felt it tingle and decided not to get any closer, even as something caught his eye. He saw a face in the clouds out near the sun. Wlvn had taught his baby sister, Brmr, to look at the shapes in the clouds, and he got good at picking out all sorts of animals and such, but this seemed more of a face than he had ever seen before. It almost looked like a real face, even before it winked at him. Wlvn felt so shocked at the wink, he fell back and landed hard on his rump. The face puffed its cheeks and began to blow, and when Wlvn felt the wind, he knew it had to be one of the gods. The wind blew strong, and it covered him and Thred, who paused in his munching to draw closer to Wlvn. Wlvn reached up with one hand for the drooping reigns, and Thred helped pull Wlvn to his feet, but at the same time, Wlvn had to use his other arm to cover his face and eyes, because the wind blew leaves, twigs, and plenty of dirt in his direction.

The wind stopped all at once, not at all like a natural wind. When Wlvn looked again, he was not surprised that the face in the clouds had gone. “Strange events,” Wlvn mumbled, as he patted Thred’s nose. Thred puffed again and seemed to nod in agreement.

~~~~~

Wlvn camped in the night, and about two in the morning, he woke when he heard some eerie sounds in the distance. It sounded to him like a baby wailing. Wlvn jumped up when he first heard it. He wanted to find out if it might actually be a baby in distress, but he paused when he realized that the sound came from over the line. He stopped altogether when he heard several babies start wailing at once. He decided then and there that it really did not sound all that much like a baby, and maybe he did not want to know what it was. He threw another log on the fire and went to see Thred. The horses’ eyes widened, and his ears darted back and forth as if listening, intently, yet Thred did not seem to be in a panic at the sound. Wlvn decided that the horse probably did not recognize the sound. Wlvn never heard such a sound before either, so he rubbed his horse’s flank for reassurance and threw yet another log on the fire.

In the morning, Wlvn decided not to test the line. He would save that for another day, and besides, he had to get home. Father, hardly a mother substitute, only had eight-year-old Brmr, not much better, to help. Of course, Strn at thirteen and Gndr at fifteen were completely useless, and Wlvn wondered briefly if he had been as useless as Gndr at fifteen.  That thought made him wonder again about Flern and her Gunder. Gunder and Vinnu were married for a whole year by then, and Wlvn wondered how long it would be before Vinnu became pregnant. Meanwhile, Thrud and Kiren were about to marry, and Pinn and Vilder were officially engaged, though as far as Wlvn knew, no one had yet seen them touch. That left Flern, and sadly, Elluin, who looked like she would marry Drud the crud. Wlvn decided that he would like to get his hands on Drud just once to beat him up for a change, and then maybe beat up Bunder as well, just because of the way he looked at him, her—Flern.

Wlvn pulled his ragged cloak up tight against his shoulders. It might have been early spring, perhaps around April first on the Storyteller’s calendar, but it still felt cold in the wind. He rode, mostly without thinking at all, just looking at the trees and grasses, and wondering how long it would be before he saw the buds. With that thought in mind, he rode into the village and found everything changed.

For one, no one could be found at the house. For two, people came up to him and asked where he had been all that time. For three, he found out it was not early spring anymore, but after the fall harvest and only a week away from having to make the trip to the center of the universe. Wlvn felt a bit like Rip Van Winkle, but then he got angry. That god in the cloud had taken advantage of him in a way not strictly lawful. Unfortunately, he still did not know who that god might be, so he was not quite sure who to be mad at. More unfortunately, he got quickly distracted by Brmr who came running up to him for a hug. She arrived in tears, and she said that she and Strn and Gndr had been staying with old man Wlkn for three days, ever since the helpers came. Wlvn looked around, quickly, but Father was nowhere to be seen.

Reflections W-1 part 3 of 3

Since Wlvn had turned old enough for the pilgrimage, he got to hunt that winter with the men. He did not have to hang around his mother’s skirts and dig through the snow to gather whatever he could or climb trees to steal nuts from the squirrels. All of that digging and climbing could be hard work, especially when it turned ten or twenty below. Of course, hunting was not exactly easy, though as often as not, for the first couple of years Wlvn got to stay in the camp and keep the fire burning while the older men went out into the wilderness. In fact, he was busy doing that very thing one day when he had an unexpected visitor.

A mature man came to him, one certainly older than Wlvn, though it seemed hard for Wlvn to tell exactly how old the man was, like the man appeared very old and quite young at the same time. The man held in his hand a string of large, swift animals tied in a line. Wlvn had seen such animals before and ate one once when the men brought back one that they claimed had fallen into a ditch. He had never seen them before, though, with bits in their mouths and reigns and standing still in a line as if the man himself was the lead stallion.

“You are Wolven?” The man pronounced the name imperfectly. “I’m sorry. You must be. I can’t read your mind all that well.”

Wlvn felt that he knew this man even if he could not find a name. He decided to stand up as tall as he could to show that he was not afraid, though indeed, if he felt anything, it was a protective warmth that emanated from the man.

“I am Wlvn,” Wlvn said. “What brings you so far from home?” He asked that because he felt that surely this man had to be a long way from his normal haunts.

“I have Odin’s permission,” the man said, assuming that Wlvn knew who Odin was. “Nereus, the Sea Elder said that in all the world you would be the only one who would know what to do with these and make proper use of them.”

“Horses?” Wlvn said the word like a question even as his mind flooded with images from the future—images of riding horses, plowing in the fields, of chariots and carriages and millennia of cooperation. The dog might be man’s best friend, but the horse was always man’s best help. Wlvn had to sit down again to clear his head.

“Who are you, really?” The man asked as he tied the lead horse to a tree branch and stepped closer. Obviously, the man had some thoughts on the subject.

“Poseidon?” Wlvn named the man and the man stopped where he was. “But I don’t really know what to do with them. The idea of catching them and training them and caring for them is all too complicated right now for me to remember. I think I am still too young.” Wlvn looked up into the big man’s eyes, but the man smiled as if he had guessed correctly.

“No, but that is easy,” the man said, and before Wlvn could protest, the man took that last step forward and laid his big hands on Wlvn’s head. Then Wlvn knew. In that moment, he knew more about horses than anyone alive, perhaps ever. “And here.” The man took Wlvn’s hands to help him stand, and Wlvn felt a strong tingling in his hands as he stood. “Now you can give the basic knowledge to others. It is that simple.”

“But where did they come from?” Wlvn asked. He let go of the man’s hands to examine the lead horse. He felt a little uncomfortable and not sure he liked the way the man kept staring at him.

Poseidon tried to get serious as he shrugged. “Athena won.”

Wlvn put his hand to his head. It all felt like too much, too fast. He felt a little dizzy. “Athens.” He got that word out and it helped him say the rest. “The olive tree.” Poseidon nodded and smiled and Wlvn felt the strangest thing happen that he had yet imagined. A woman pushed up inside of him; or rather, not inside, but from somewhere in time, one of those imaginary lives he would one day live. She pressed really close to his consciousness. It almost sounded like she might be speaking to him, like she stood right beside him, or inside him as he thought at first. She appeared to be asking if she could visit with her husband for a minute.

No. Wlvn thought, absolutely not. But the woman pleaded so sweetly, and Wlvn felt so confused at the moment, he finally said yes, but make it quick. Then Wlvn no longer stood in his own shoes. A woman stood in his place and Poseidon spoke her name.

“Amphitrite.”

She stepped up into his arms and they kissed, passionately, before she asked how the children were.

“How like a woman,” Poseidon responded. “Our son is just fine.” Then he got a very curious expression. “Children?”

Amphitrite nodded but said no more. She had obviously appeared very deep in the past, and they only had one son, Triton, so far. She knew she was not supposed to tell him about the future, so instead she reached up again and let him kiss her again and again. Finally, they heard a “Cooo! Cooo!” in the distance and Amphitrite stepped back.

“I will do my best with your gift.” Amphitrite spoke for Wlvn.

“You always do.” Poseidon grinned, knowing it was time to leave. “Children.” He let that word float on the air as he vanished.

“Thank you Wlvn,” Amphitrite said, not hiding the grin on her own face. She said the words out loud, though she knew Wlvn would have heard her merest thought. She told the horses to be good and mind the boy, and then she let out a “Cooo!” in Wlvn’s voice before she vanished and let Wlvn come home.

The first thing Wlvn did was wipe his lips clean, though it had not been his actual lips that did the kissing. Then he sat down because that had been the strangest experience in his life. He wondered briefly if he could do that again, and he thought of Flern; but no, he did not want to be another stupid girl. He got a shock when he actually heard a response.

“And I don’t want to be a stupid boy, either.” Flern spoke clearly into Wlvn’s mind, and he even heard the raspberries. Fortunately, the lead horse had just nudged him and let out a puff of cold air. Wlvn had to look at the horse. The men were coming back, and he realized that he had to act fast. Even so, it was nearly impossible to keep Ktrn from immediately killing one of the beasts.

After Wlvn explained things as well as he could, leaving out the part about Amphitrite, of course, he laid hands on the men so the horses would not appear to be simply lunch. They returned to the village without much meat, but with the most sensational find any village ever knew. They rode home, and Wlvn felt two things he never felt before. First, he felt proud, and second, he felt happy. Until that moment, Wlvn could honestly say he did not really know what happiness was, and given the hardship of his life, that was no wonder. Now, with the horses, that life might be immeasurably improved. Sadly, that elated feeling lasted a very short time. Mother had been taken by the selection.

A great deal of yelling happened at first. Brmr and the boys fell to tears. They could not frame clear sentences, but Wlvn could hardly blame them. Finally, Father and the other hunters got old man Wlkn to explain.

“They came on the ground and with one of their air wagons, though I cannot imagine how it stays up in the air. Anyway, they had some selections on the ground, and they looked like a despairing lot, though I did not see anyone from the other villages that we know.”

“They come around for selections every few years.” Father interrupted. “They want to make sure we are not hiding any grain in the years of calling. We know this.”

“They searched everywhere,” Wlkn said, and his eyes got big and filled with fear at the memory. “They were very thorough, and I felt sure that this time I would be selected, but when they finished searching my house, your wife asked me to keep the children while they searched your house. Then they asked about everyone and made sure we were all accounted for. They wanted families and ages and all. Your wife was very honest. She said she had three sons and a daughter that was six. That seemed to satisfy them, and I thought they would leave, but they said something about her replacing herself and she got added to the selections. It was just like that.” Wlkn snapped his wretched old fingers. “They tied her to the end of the line, and they were gone.”

“Where did they go?” Wlvn spat and growled. The red rose to his face and made him look and feel like he had a fever.

Wlkn raised his brows, surprised by the fury of the boy. “To the next village, I suppose.”

“Father.” Wlvn turned to his father, but the man stood still like a statue. “Father, we have to go after them and get her back.”

“Oh, that would be very dangerous.” Wlkn verbalized his fears. “They have an air wagon that can rain fire from the sky, and the immortal came with them.”

“What?” That got Wlvn’s attention. “What immortal?”

“The tall, boney one with the crooked eyes.” Wlkn blinked. “They said he was looking for a particular person. I am only glad he did not find that person here. I hate to think what might have become of us.” Wlkn looked away and started to shake his head.

“Loki!” Wlvn spat again as he turned to his father, but the man kept shaking his head as well. “But we have the horses now. We can catch them by surprise.”

Father looked up at that, but his head still shook. “No, son. There is nothing we can do.” He grabbed Wlvn by the shirt and spoke sternly into his son’s face. “And I forbid you to go after them.” He shook his son hard before he let go.

Wlvn’s face turned red with both anger and tears. He stomped off and for the first time in his life he seriously considered being disobedient. Someday, someone had to do something. He knew the Princess could track them easily in the snow. She had been gifted by the goddess Artemis herself and knew all of the ways of the hunt. And Diogenes could beat them up. Wlvn believed that Alexander the Great’s first cousin was the greatest warrior of all time. It was hard to think of Diogenes as simply himself in another lifetime. And if Mother is hurt, Doctor Mishka can heal her.

“And accomplish what?” Wlvn heard the words clearly in his head. It was like when Flern talked to him, except this sounded like a man’s voice—like the Storyteller. “All you will do is make them mad enough to kill everyone.” There. He said it.

“I’m sorry, Wlvn.” Flern added her words, but by then, Wlvn sat down to cry, bitterly. There was nothing he could do.

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MONDAY Chapter 2

It does not take long to get horses into the hands of the people, but it puts a strain on Wlvn.  He takes a break before his village is called to the center of the universe where Loki and the Neanderthals are looking for him.

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Reflections W-1 part 2 of 3

Wlvn never said anything, but he had imagined for some time that he had lived other lives in the past and many more in the future. He supposed it was his way of escaping the hardship and hopelessness of his daily life—to pretend to be someone else in some other land and some other time. He also thought at times that it was not exactly a sign of mental health, but then, he had little else to live for. Sadly, most of what he supposedly remembered about those lives seemed a plague of useless information, given his present life and circumstances. He could not remember anything about working in metals or even how to build a plow better than the stone and bone contraption they used. Sometimes he imagined that certain information was being kept from him, deliberately, for some reason. Only now, Wlvn felt certain that, given the opportunity, he could fly the craft he identified as a shuttle. This information did not come to him from the Storyteller, the Princess, Diogenes, or Doctor Mishka for that matter; the four people he imagined as lifetimes he would live one day, far in the future. They were lives with which he was slowly becoming familiar, yet as impossibly far in the future as those lifetimes felt, he knew they were not far enough. The knowledge of the shuttle had to be coming to him from even further in the future, from a lifetime of which he was not even aware. “Unless, of course, this is not the first life where I have encountered whoever these helpers are,” he mumbled out loud.

“Son?” Father looked up.

“Nothing.” Wlvn shook his head. He looked at his feet. He had a great deal to think about as they inched forward, one wagon space at a time. Naturally, the first thing he thought of was more of the useless stuff. He guessed that this line of wagons might be the first traffic jam in human history.

Wlvn took a step and someone touched him square on the forehead and whispered, “My son, even when you are not my son.” The words were spoken with the kind of true whisper where he could not tell if it was a man or woman speaking. He looked up and saw the back of a full-length cloak and hood, which told him nothing. This cloak walked, unnoticed, against the train of wagons. It walked slowly and deliberately away from the center of the universe. Wlvn touched his forehead, but nothing had been put there. When he looked again, the cloak was gone. He stood on his toes and tried to look over and around all of the wagons behind, but the cloak was not there. Whoever it was, had vanished into thin air.

“Son.” Father’s word sounded a bit more urgent.

“Sorry father.” Wlvn tried to assume the right position and attitude. He mirrored his father as well as he could.

They did stop when it got dark, but Father proved right; little sleep came Wlvn’s way. With the first light of dawn, they started again, and Wlvn got his first real look at the helpers. Some walked up the line to be sure everyone got up and started moving. They had whips.

The helpers hardly looked human, being squat, very muscular, with great brow ridges and sloping foreheads. But they had to be human, didn’t they? Wlvn pondered all of this and searched his memory. He searched through time to those few lifetimes he could remember, but neither the Princess, the Storyteller, Diogenes, nor Mishka told him anything. He knew it was pointless to ask Flern, a fifth lifetime he often remembered in detail, and one that made him uncomfortable. Flern was a girl. Wlvn could not imagine living life as a girl. True, the Princess and Doctor Mishka were girls, but they were far enough away in the future, and generally older, so he could overlook that reality. Flern lived too near him in time and shared a similar culture, living almost as Neolithic a life as his own. He could not imagine being a she. He decided not to think about it at all.

By the time their turn came, Wlvn started thinking of his mother, Gndr, Strn, and little Brmr. He managed to get himself into the right position and the right attitude, as his father told him, so he felt a little surprised when one of the helpers came up to him, grinning, holding tight to something in his fat fist.

“How old is this one?” The ugly brute looked hopefully at the one who examined the grain offering. Father had just finished explaining about Mother being home with the baby and the two younger children. Father hid nothing, he did not dare, but when asked the question, he had to blink. An expression crossed his face that looked briefly like fear for his son.

“Fifteen.” Father spoke honestly enough. Wlvn wanted to say nearly sixteen, but something held his tongue.

The one beside the grain shook his head to the disappointment of the other, and then he spoke in words that no one among Wlvn’s people should have been able to understand. Wlvn’s surprise turned to shock. He understood the words, perfectly.

“We don’t take them that young, however tempting, lest they cease producing and we run out of selections altogether,” the chief helper said. “And we don’t take the fathers until the sons are old enough to take over.” With that, the chief helper put a mark on the back of their hands and told them exactly where to put their grain. Father moved them on.

“Quickly,” he said; but Wlvn moved slowly, still in a bit of shock. He could not keep his eyes from staring back, in part for understanding what they said, but in large part for realizing that the bone the grinning one nibbled on was not an animal bone, but the end of a human leg. Wlvn looked away before his empty belly emptied itself further.

“Come on, son.” Father risked speaking again. “Quickly now.” They were the last ones to fill that bin, after which the wagons would be sent over to the other side, and Wlvn tried to concentrate, but again he got distracted. A man that was clearly a man, not one of the ugly brutes, kept staring at them. He seemed to point at them with a boney hand, a hook nose, and a pointed chin, all pointing together. Wlvn thought the man looked crooked in some strange way, yet he was about to smile a friendly smile when the man floated up into the air. It seemed the man was looking for something and thought perhaps a little height might help it come into focus. Wlvn looked away, thinking, this is one of the gods! The man came back down to his feet, walked off to the other side, and Wlvn breathed. Then he remembered the man’s name when a memory came to him from somewhere in time. Loki! Wlvn also remembered his feelings were not kind toward that particular god.

“Son.” Father tried again, and Wlvn began to empty the grain from the cart into the bin, but for a third time he became distracted. This time, it was a face, a girl’s face. The girl appeared to be a prisoner in a cage, a small cage, like one a lion or tiger might occupy in an old city zoo or on a circus train. Wlvn felt his jaw drop because the girl looked absolutely stunning, though she could not have been older than thirteen. Wlvn paused, in part because he was not sure if the girl called to him. Perhaps the call came only in his mind, but it came with enough pull to garner his attention.

“Son.” Once again, father’s voice required his attention. Wlvn hurried to finish unloading, at which point Father was for getting out of there as quickly as possible. Wlvn spoke before they could turn from the bin.

“Turn this way, Father, please. I am asking you to trust me, and I can’t explain just now, but please.” He asked his father to turn the cart around by heading deeper into the camp rather than away from the center of the universe. Father looked at him, dumbly, but there must have been real urgency in his plea because his father complied. Then came the hard part.

“Stop here,” Wlvn said, and he pulled hard on the oxen collar to stop the beast from turning further. “Pretend you are having trouble with the harness, fix the wagon, anything, only stay here for a minute.” Again, Wlvn’s father raised an eyebrow, but he noticed that all eyes were turned in the other direction where they were presently sending the wagons, so he said nothing, and he began to fiddle with the rigging. He watched his son melt away behind the nearest small building.

Wlvn found the back of that building to be a genuine cage with metal bars and everything. The girl stood right there, so close, in fact, she was able to reach her skinny arm through the bars and touch Wlvn’s cheek almost as quickly as he saw her.

“Wlvn.” He whispered his name.

“Eir.” She gave hers as she studied his face. “You are not the one,” she said at last and collapsed. “I saw your hair, it is like his, the color of the sunset, but your eyes are not his. Your eyes are brown, like the mud. His eyes are as dark as the night, though sparkling as if full of stars. And yet…” She sat up a little straighter. “I sense that you and he are very close, that somehow, he must come and stand in your place.” Eir withdrew her hand and withdrew herself into her captivity.

Wlvn was not sure what he felt, but a storm brewed somewhere in time, and it was such a storm, Wlvn dreaded to think what might happen if that storm ever got loose. “You are a prisoner.” He made it a statement.

“Since I was a baby,” Eir answered softly. “I am a hostage. I barely remember my mother and father, but one day my Nameless, red-haired, black-eyed warrior will come and save me. I have seen it in the setting sun. I have felt it in the earth and heard it whispered in the wind.” She fell silent.

“It will be me.” Wlvn spoke without hesitation in his voice, like he was speaking undeniable truth. “Though perhaps not in this lifetime,” he concluded, strangely. Eir frowned, but only for a moment before her expression changed because of some understanding that Wlvn could not yet grasp. His own thoughts got interrupted by his father.

“Son. They have noticed,” Father said, and Wlvn felt obliged to return to the cart even as Father spoke more loudly. He nudged the ox and they turned toward the road for home.

Wlvn spoke of his encounter several times on the way home, but Father always had the same basic answer. “It is not our concern. There is nothing we can do for her.”

Wlvn finally let out his deepest feelings about the issue. “But I believe she is being held as a hostage against the gods. I think that she, herself, may be a goddess.”

Father looked horrified at that thought, but still he said, “There is nothing we can do.”

Wlvn and his family made it through the worst of the winter, though not everyone in the village survived. Three elderly people and two children died of the winter plague. Wlvn knew it was likely some strain of pneumonia, a disease against which he felt powerless. Despite having access to his future life as Doctor Mishka, the only thing she suggested was near starvation and malnutrition contributed mightily. Wlvn got angry and cried. He imagined his future lives were as bad as everyone around him. There is nothing we can do, he thought.

Reflections W-1 part 1 of 3

WLVN

After 4026 B.C. Moscow in Ancient Days

Kairos 19: Wlvn, God of the Horses

It came time for the selection. The harvest was in and every speck of grain the family had struggled to grow got loaded in the rough, two-wheeled wagon—a heavy load for the old ox, but none of them had a choice. The very survival of the village was at stake, because if they failed to respond to the call, the village would be burned out by the fires from heaven. The helpers would come from the sky and no one and nothing would be left alive. Wlvn heard how it happened to one village in Wlvn’s lifetime.

“But Father,” Wlvn protested as he brushed back his red hair to wipe the sweat from his brow. “How shall we live if we bring all of our harvest to the center of the universe?” The practical question had to come as it always did; but secretly Wlvn felt excited because he was finally old enough to see the Lord of All and the great dome with his own eyes.

“We shall glean.” Father gave the practical answer he always gave. “And other villages, those not called this year, will share as we have shared with them in years past.”

“Oh, my son.” Mama came up, crying. She would stay home with Wlvn’s brothers, Strn and Gndr, and Wlvn’s baby sister, Brmr. Mama reached out to hug Wlvn and gave him great, tear soaked, slobbering kisses. Wlvn, who turned fifteen in the short summer, did not appreciate the attention; but he stayed gracious enough to allow his mother to do as she would. He did not fight her, and deep down, he did appreciate the sentiment, if not the slobbering.

“Now, dear.” Father stepped between mother and son and embraced his wife. Wlvn felt grateful. “He is of age so there is nothing we can do. The Lord of All has called us to the pilgrimage and there is nothing we can do.”

“There is never anything we can do!” Mama spat the words when she stepped back. True enough. Wlvn had heard it all his life. Whatever the Lord of All decided, the helpers enforced, and there was never anything that anyone could do about it.

“Mama!” Brmr came toddling up and Mama groaned as she bent down to pick up the four-year-old girl. Wlvn reached past his mother to give the little one a kiss and a big squeeze, and little Brmr gave it right back to him.

“Mama!” A different emphasis on the word came from beside the house. “Mama!” Nine-year-old Strn came around the corner, his face tear streaked. Eleven-year-old Gndr held back because Strn got knocked down again.

“Gndr!” Father called. “Come and say good-bye before we are last in line and eating dust the whole way.”

“Gndr!” Mama sounded like she had something else to say as she reached out for poor, picked-on Strn.

Gndr came from the side of the house, looked down and kicked the dirt. “Good-bye,” he said softly. Wlvn gave Strn a quick pat of reassurance and then chased Gndr once around the house for old time’s sake. Gndr shrieked the whole way and ended up hiding behind Father who grinned broadly at the exchange.

“Just something to remember me by,” Wlvn said, as he put out his hand in the obligatory peace offering. Gndr looked up and clasped his brother’s wrist, then rushed in for a hug.

“Come back,” Gndr whispered. Everyone heard. People feared the selection, because some people always got chosen with the grain, and those people never came back. Then, sometimes, the helpers toured the villages after the selection, and more people got taken. No one knew what happened to those people. Some said they were forced to slave for the helpers until they died from lack of food and rest. Some said they became sacrifices to the gods, and to the Lord of All. In any case, families were devastated and left without hope when it came time for the selection.

“Got to go,” Father said, and turned his back on the family. He put one hand gently to his eyes as if he had a tear, and that was the end of it. He nudged the ox on the backside with his little whip stick, and they started. Wlvn walked backwards for a long way.

By the end of the day, the people from Wlvn’s village joined people from two other villages. They slept, strung out as they were, made little fires, and visited with neighbors enough to whisper encouragement, or in some cases, to express fears. Poor old man Wlkn, Wlvn’s neighbor, felt certain he was going to be selected. Wlkn quaked under his blanket and slept very little that night.

“They go for the fat ones, you know,” Wlkn insisted. Wlvn knew the man was only fat from age, certainly not from overeating. Their hard and cruel life kept everyone near starvation, even in the years when they were not called to the center of the universe.

“Never you mind, son,” Father countered when they were alone. “Wlkn’s just a worrier. Everyone has their theories about the selection, but I never heard any good reason for why some and not others. It is the helpers that do the choosing. They take people off to a long house and those are never seen again, but those people are fat and skinny, tall and short, men and women and no one knows why them and not others.” Father shrugged as he settled down to rest. Wlvn did not get much sleep that night, either.

The next day, Wlvn lost count of the people that joined the train on that two-rutted path. All he knew was he got filthy, felt exhausted, and wanted to get the whole thing over. He and father talked little on that day. There just was not much to be said, until they came to a complete halt. Wlvn found he had to ask about that.

“No, son, this is not an early stop for the night. I doubt we will sleep at all tonight.” Father whispered so softly at that point, Wlvn could barely hear him. “This is the line. The one in front is being examined before being directed where to put his grain. Then the next will go, and then the next. Eventually it will be our turn. When it is, all that you have to do is keep your eyes down on the ground. Say nothing, do what you are told, and don’t call attention to yourself. If you do these things, we should be all right and on the road home to your mother by tomorrow afternoon.” Father said no more, but he looked now and then at the sky while the sun was still up.

An hour before sunset, Wlvn and his father finally inched to the top of the last small ridge. At first, Wlvn felt discouraged by the length of the line in front of them, but then he saw something that absolutely took his breath away. As he had been told, a dome of golden splendor, five or six stories high, stood at the end of the road—the center of the universe. The outside, plated in gold, sent out a tremendous glare in the low light of the sun. Wlvn stood still, awe struck.

Wlvn squinted as hard as he could before he had something like an out-of-body experience. His mind began to flit around somewhere in the future.

He first wondered how on earth they came up with the technology to construct something like that. He knew that it was more than a wonder of the world. It was an impossibility for his day and age. Wlvn’s people could build crude square huts that passed for houses, but a dome needed more than simple skill with wood. The stresses had to be enormous. As he looked closely, he decided that the spire on top had to be pure silver, or near enough. Wlvn knew that no one in his age was that good with the smelting process, even with soft metals.

Wlvn shook his head and wondered briefly where those thoughts came from, before his eyes got drawn back to the other buildings in the compound. The long houses that had to be barracks for the helpers and the grain storehouses and towers filled the back and both sides of an open square. Wlvn knew that any one of those buildings would have been beyond his own people. But the dome! Something moved and Wlvn let out a peep. He shot a quick glance at his father who frowned in his direction before his eyes darted back to the dome. A man stood outside the edifice, but he had to be twenty feet tall or taller. It had to be the Lord of All, standing beside a three-story door in the dome. The Lord of All went inside. Wlvn let out a shriek. Father whispered this time.

“Quiet son. Don’t call attention to yourself. Lower your eyes.”

He needn’t have said anything. Wlvn felt frightened out of his wits on the sight of that monster. His eyes became pasted to the ground until he heard a strange, whining in the sky—a sound he recognized. A hovercraft came in for a landing out behind one of the long houses—a sky ship of the helpers from which the rain of fire came. Suddenly, the future invaded his mind and a great number of things made sense.

Kairos in the West, Book 1, Reflections

The story of Wlvn and Flern, him and her, two lifetimes of the Kairos, is written in counterpoint, like two melodies that harmonize with one another at different points along the way. Sadly, the story, as written, does not break into little bite sized pieces. I want to maintain the schedule of three easily digested posts per week on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but I understand the limited attention span of some people. Twenty-seven weeks is too long, especially when the story jumps back and forth between two people who live 586 years apart. If you held the book in your hand, either digital or in print, and read it in a day, a week, or however long it takes you to read a book, it would be one thing. I am not Charles Dickens to break the story into 3-6 rather large parts to serialize in a monthly magazine. Back then, Dickens did not have to contend with movies, television, streaming, the internet, cell phones, and the million other entertainment distractions we have. So, I have concluded that the only way I can share this story—these stories is to separate them and share them individually, even as I did with the stories of Greta, Festuscato, Gerraint, and Margueritte. and even though it gets strange in the middle I hope you will follow and enjoy.

Flern, after 3440 BCE.  13 weeks (13 chapters).

Her village is overrun by an army from the east ruled by a powerful sorceress.  Flern and her friends escape, but they have a quest, to find the secret of making bronze, to make weapons, and to gather enough brave fighters to set their village free. Of course, the Wicca is a very powerful sorceress, and she seems to be supported by one of the ancient gods. My hope is in the story, every time Flern picks up an empowerment from her reflection (Wlvn) you will recognize what is happening. To that end, it will be best to start with Wlvn’s story.

Wlvn, after 4026 BCE.  14 weeks (14 chapters).

The gods have a reason for empowering the young man.  His people are enslaved by the Titan at the center of his universe.  The gods want the Titan overthrown, but Odin promised that the gods would not interfere in any way. They expect Wlvn (the Kairos) to do the deed, and many of the ancient gods give him what they think he needs to be successful. Unfortunately, the god sent to spy on the Titan wants the Titan to stay in power and is secretly working on his own agenda.  And the Titan has contracted with a space race to help maintain his power; and the “Gott-Druk” find human flesh very tasty.

The Strange in the Middle:

Wlvn and Flern, being genetic reflections, or as the Kairos sometimes says, identical twins of the opposite sex, accidentally double trade places with each other through the time stream and can’t figure out how to get back to where they belong. Wlvn, with all his new god-given abilities should be able to deal with a sorceress, provided the god supporting the Wicca stays out of it. Flern, however, even reflecting in a small way the gifts given to Wlvn is in no condition to face down a Titan. Just to think of him frightens her half to death.

When Flern shows up in the middle of Wlvn’s story, I hope you don’t get confused.  Flern has her own troubles, and her story will follow, so bear with me.  I believe this is the best way to approach this.  You can always let me know what you think.

So,

Wlvn first for 14 weeks

Flern second for 13 weeks

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Avalon Season 9 (The final season) will follow Kairos in the West, Book 1, Reflections.  By my (subject to change) calculations, that should begin posting on March 20, 2023.  The travelers will at last get home to their proper time and place.  Meanwhile, if you enjoyed the Avalon stories, they are available from Amazon as e-books or paperback, or from Smashwords, B&N, Apple, Kobo, etc. as e-books.

 

 

I recommend the prequel, Invasion of Memories which will give a good overview of the many lives of the Kairos as well as introduce some of the travelers.  The pilot episode is still free in most places, though in the paperback (and e-book if you want) it is included with Season One.

To find all these books (and more on the way) look under the author’s name M. G. Kizzia.  And remember, reviews are always appreciated.

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Avalon 8.12 Abomination, part 5 of 5

Jai the Mongol became substantial again as soon as Sung Ao fired the photon canon.  He leaped to cover Sung Ao when the canon got crushed just in case it exploded.  Sung Ao quickly checked it, but Gan Ao spoke.  “I thought it best that the weapon not explode.  I turned it off before it got crushed.  Sorry if I overstepped my bounds.”

“You did right as always.  I am very proud of you.  But what are you doing here?”

“I reserved a time for coming back should I be needed.  Apparently, I am needed now.”

“Sung Ao?” Lincoln asked.  He always had to know.

Sung Ao nodded, but then Lockhart had a question for Gan Ao.  “Who are you?”

The old man smiled as men started to revive all over the field.  They had headaches but would recover.  “I am not surprised you did not recognize me.  I am much older than I was when I traveled with my master, the great lord Zhang She of Xi’an, servant of the Great Emperor Guangwu of Han.”

“From Lydia’s day,” Boston remembered, and smiled, knowing who Gan Ao really was.  Sung Ao reached out and gently hugged Boston, then he said something strange.

“I am going to miss my hugs.”

Alexis and Katie knew who Gan Ao was and Alexis spoke before Boston could ask.  “Didn’t you go over to the other side?”

“I did,” Gan Ao said.  “But I can’t remember anything about it while I am here.  Funny how that works.”  He let go of the old man and became Tien Shang-di, king of the ancient gods, and son of the Kairos, the Nameless god of the north.

Lockhart nodded like he had forgotten.  He looked quickly, but the wagon was close by and Ghost, for once, was minding his own business.  Decker and Nanette were busy being lost in each other, and Lincoln and Tony were failing to comfort Sukki, who looked teary-eyed but maybe finally realized there were times she had to act even if it meant people had to die.

“The cyborgs are all dead,” Tien said.  “The super soldiers are all dead as well.  They were possessed for a long enough time so there was not enough of them to come back.  The rest should recover.  Their time of possession was brief.  So, you see, Elder Stow.  Now, you can report to your people that possession by an abomination does not kill a person right away.  The consciousness hangs on for some time, and the body continues to live, though yes.  I see how terrible that must be.”

“Anyway,” Sung Ao interrupted everyone.  “Boston.  I have someone for you to meet.  Jai.  He came a long way just to find you.”

Jai stepped up, and Boston knew he was an elf, like her, but she did not know who until he removed his glamour that made him look Mongolian.  Roland said nothing.  He did not get a chance.  Boston screamed and tackled him.  She kissed his face all over.  Then she began to weep great big tears, and Roland was not against weeping himself.  They stood as Roland’s sister, Alexis came up weeping as well, and joined the hug.  They might have continued for a while, but Lincoln shouted from a distance.

“Alexis.  Nanette.  We have wounded here who need help.”

“May I?” Alexis asked Sung Ao.  She felt a slight curtsey was appropriate.

“Of course,” he said, and turned as three men came to ask what they were doing.  Sung Ao put Niccolo, Maffeo, and Marco in Katie’s hands and said she could talk to them as long as she kept her mouth shut.  He went to find Timur the chief and the servants of the Masters.  Tien went with him and waved his hand while they walked.  All the cyborgs and super soldiers, the ship inside the cave and the busted photon canon with the wet spot that had been the abomination vanished.

“Sent to Avalon,” he said.  “To the alien island and museum,” he explained.

“Yes, thanks, but that does not explain why you are here.”

They found Chin Li alive and checking out the bandits.  He had a half-dozen men with him, just to be safe.  Timur, Bozarius and Hakim the Berber were all dead.  Timur got blasted with a super soldier gun and the other two were killed by the travelers. Bozarius got a shotgun slug in his middle.  Hakim got crisped by Sukki.  “No idea what their names were in this life,” Sung Ao mumbled to himself.

Timur’s son, Kohja, knew better than to stick around.  He promised to take the bandits home and not bother them again.  Sung Ao let them go.  Lincoln, who came up to watch the exchange, commented.

“He knew they were out gunned,” and added, “Sorry.”  He knew the Kairos was not a fan of clichés.

In this case, Sung Ao responded, “You were out gunned, but I am glad you butted into a bad situation anyway.”  Lincoln said no more, as they watched the bandits leave. They took their dead and wounded with them, so that was at least one thing they did not have to worry about.  Even so, Sung Ao thought to say something to Lincoln.  “You better go and check on your wife.  You don’t want her working herself to exhaustion.”

“Right.” Lincoln jogged ahead to the camp.

The travelers stayed that night with the Polos, but Sung Ao said it was best if they leave in the morning.  “We will head south, two days to Khotan.  We will rest there a week while our men heal.  You should be able to reach the time gate before we move on again.”

“But Father,” Alexis said, and Sung Ao and Tien took Alexis and Lincoln aside to speak with them privately.

In the morning, Roland stood beside Boston, holding her hand, and repeated what everyone already knew.  “Father is dying.  He never really recovered from his struggle with the ghoul master of the hundred.  Now he is dying.  I came to fetch Boston and Alexis so they could be with him in the end.”

Alexis came out of her tent, an elf again, and she explained for everyone.  “Time is still broken with the Storyteller missing.  Lady Alice can only move her own through the Heart of Time.  I have temporarily become an elf again so I can go and say good-bye to Father.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Lincoln said.  Alexis gave him a kiss and said she was ready.

Tien stepped up, and Sung Ao traded places with the Nameless god, Tien’s father, so the two gods could work together.

“I’ll miss the wagon,” Tony said.  Most of the travelers shook their heads.  They would not miss it.

“I’ll miss my hugs,” Boston said suddenly.  “And Strawberry, and Honey, but I will see you when you get back.  Sukki, sister, take care of the amulet and remember, I’ll be waiting for you.”

Sukki nodded, and Nanette said, “Good luck.”  Nanette carried Alexis’ bag, the one with the vitamins and medical supplies.

Boston said she was ready and looked up at Roland who merely nodded.  They vanished along with the wagon, their Roman saddles and most of their things.  Ghost stood with saddlebags that carried their spare horseshoes and necessary equipment.  They went back to carrying things in saddlebags and having their tents and extra blankets strapped to the back of their western saddles.  The Kairos said they could ride them again.  They were well into the Middle Ages by then.

Tien said good-bye to them all.

Nameless smiled for them and Sung Ao came back to wake up the Polos.

Lockhart spoke as they headed out.  “Sukki, you have the point.  Be careful.  Decker and Elder Stow still have the wings.”  He paused to look at Katie before he turned his head back to talk to Lincoln.  “So, where are we going?”

Lincoln had to look it up, while Katie shouted back to the ones behind.  “Tony and Nanette.  You have the rear.  Keep your eyes open for whoever or whatever might be following us.”

“Yeah,” Lincoln interrupted his reading.  “Watch out for dragons, little green-men, werewolves and vampires, ghouls and genies, witches, displaced people, space aliens and servants of the Masters, and whatever else I can’t think of right now.”  He returned to his reading.

Nanette took his words seriously, but Tony smiled and said, “Hut, hut.”  Ghost, who had his long lead tied to Tony’s saddle stepped up.  Tony did not want to have to drag the mule all the way back to the twentieth century if they should live so long.

END of Avalon, Season 8.

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TOMORROW

Introduction to the twin tales of Wlvn and Flern, two lives of the Kairos separated by a mere 500 years.  They are genetic reflections, or as they say, identical twins of the opposite sex, and it gets them in big trouble.

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Avalon 8.12 Abomination, part 4 of 5

Metal skinned warriors though they were, the cyborgs took advantage of the rocks and boulders strewn on their side of the field.  What few trees there were also got utilized along with the trees on the hillside where the super soldiers hunkered down and returned fire.  Curiously, the super soldiers were not caught unprepared.  The power beams from their rifles split the trees and shattered the corners of the stone.

Sung Ao watched as one cyborg got blasted dead center.  It went down, but after a second, it started to get up again.  It got blasted a second time, and this time it stayed down.  Several super soldiers got struck and they tended to stay down.

Jai came up to Sung Ao’s shoulder and commented on the fight.  “This could go on for a while.”

“Maybe not,” Sung Ao said and pointed.  The cyborgs brought up their machine, or whatever it was.  It floated on a gravity bubble and Sung Ao tried to remember where he saw such a machine before.  He watched as the cyborgs kept the machine behind some rocks.  It appeared to be protected by screens of some sort, but they were not about to expose it until they were ready.  It came to him.  Of course, Kirstie only saw it after Sukki and Elder Stow melted it, but it looked like the photon cannon the Flesh Eaters used in Norway back then…  He wondered who Kirstie was, but then he had to concentrate on what the cyborgs were doing.  The battle was going about even, but there were more super soldiers on the hill than cyborgs down below.  That meant the super soldiers could lose half their men and still be victorious.  Sung Ao wondered if the photon canon might be used to sweep the hillside.

Jai tapped his shoulder and pointed to the wide cave up the side of the hill.  “A docking bay for their ship,” he said.  “The Sevarese used to park in the same way when they came to earth.”

“Of course,” Sung Ao shouted, and quickly looked back from where he hid behind a boulder.  The men in his camp all looked like they were drunk on something.  The bandits across the way looked the same, or even worse.  “The big bad is in the cave,” he concluded.

“That would be my guess,” Jai agreed.

Sung Ao heard a soft whine over the sound of battle. His eyes went to the photon canon.  The cyborgs pushed it out from the rocks.  He heard an answering whine come from the cave. Several cyborgs stood in front of the machine, like willing sacrifices.  They got cut down with two or three shots, but the photon canon fired before the ship in the cave had a chance to return fire.

Sung Ao saw the screens in the cave turn red and rapidly climb the color scale to purple before they blacked out.  Sung Ao ducked, and Jai ducked with him.  The cave exploded.  It was a massive explosion, but fortunately, mostly absorbed by the hill and mountain that contained it. The front of the cave completely collapsed.  Perhaps the whole cave collapsed.  The ground shook, and a few more good-sized rocks fell from the cliff.  Then only little wisps of smoke came out the cracks left in the cave entrance, and Sung Ao had to say something.

“Thanks.  I have to clean that up.”

Jai laughed.

The super soldiers collapsed.  The five remaining cyborgs checked them briefly before their feet fired up, their legs stiffened, and they sped away at a good clip about two feet off the ground.  They left the photon cannon where it was.  Sung Ao had to run out and turn it off.  Then he looked at his people and at the bandits.  They all appeared to be unconscious.

Hardly two hours later, Sung Ao and Jai saw a ship take off for the outer atmosphere.  “The cyborg ship, I presume,” Jai said.

Sung Ao nodded before he said, “God, I hope so.”

After another five minutes, the super soldiers woke up along with Sung Ao’s people and the bandits.  roughly a third of the super soldiers went to join the bandits.  They forgot their rifles but took their handguns with them.  The men returned to their positions to fight.  The bandits dismounted and prepared to do battle.  Sung Ao and Jai both looked at the collapsed cave.  They saw something slithering through the trees and Sung Ao swore.  He turned the photon canon back on, but it would need a minute to warm up.

The super soldiers in the field fired on the men behind the wall and boulders.  Some men died.  The super soldiers that joined Sung Ao’s people returned fire, and some men in the field fell.  A rain of arrows fell on the boulders.  More died or were wounded.  The men behind the boulders fired back and a few in the field got stuck, including a couple of super soldiers.  Then came the charge and more arrows from the boulders.  Super soldiers were firing in both directions, and Sung Ao saw Niccolo, Maffeo, and Marco pick up swords and run to get in the middle of it.

“No!” Sung Ao yelled, and curiously, everyone stopped, and all eyes turned on Sung Ao and Jai.  Sung Ao vaguely remembered this happening before, maybe more than once.

The nearest men yelled at Sung Ao.  “Why can’t I possess you?”

Jai put his hand to his head, but there was no way an abomination could possess a nature spirit, even in manifest form.  It might give Jai a headache, though.  Jai turned insubstantial so the abomination had nothing to latch on to.  “Forgive me,” Jai said to Sung Ao.

“Quite all right,” Sung Ao responded before he shouted to the trees.  “Even the gods of this world were not allowed inside my mind.”

“I am a god,” the abomination said through the nearest man, and it echoed among many men, bandits and super soldiers included.  “I am the god.”

He no sooner finished speaking and Boston and Sukki came from the trees, followed by Lockhart and Katie, Lincoln and Alexis, Decker and Elder Stow.  The wagon stayed in the woods with Nanette and Tony riding shotgun and Gan Ao driving the mule.  Nanette complained, if only she had her magic back.

Everyone got down right away and pulled their weapons.  Nanette and Tony whistled and got the horses back in among the trees.  People raced to get behind the rocks and boulders in the field.  Alexis pulled her wand and sent a great wind that scattered the bandits’ horses.  Boston laid down a line of fire to keep everyone back.  And Sung Ao yelled.

“Lockhart.  Go for the trees on the hill.”

Elder Stow got confused.  There had been a battle.  They were in a battle.  He thought to put the screens up against the people turning on them.  He thought to pull his weapon to rake the enemy with fire, or maybe his sonic device.

Katie and Decker figured it out right away.  They opened fire on the trees, and the bandits, Sung Ao’s men, and the super soldiers turned on the travelers, heedless of the wind or fire.  They heard screams coming from the people but did not know if it was screams of anger or pain.  They assumed it was the abomination verbalizing its pain.  Bullets were a new thing.

Lockhart turned with his shotgun and started blasting the men and super soldiers that got too close.  Those men forgot all about their bows, spears, and guns, and acted like animals that would only be satisfied with ripping the travelers apart with their bare hands.  Lincoln and Tony came up to join in the melee, shooting men at random when they came close.  Sukki finally reacted and threw out her hands.  The whole front row of oncoming men became like charcoal.  Sung Ao had one brief fear to lose the Polos, but by then, Elder Stow just about decided.  Sung Ao fired the photon canon, and the trees lit up, showing exactly where the abomination was located.  The abomination, however, figured out how to mentally project screens of its own, and they were strong enough to protect it from the photon cannon, at least for a bit.

“No!” Sung Ao yelled again and turned the canon back on.  He held the switch against the abomination turning it off again.  The abomination started to strain, and in a last effort, it ripped a boulder from the ground and heaved it at the machine.  The people scattered when the photon canon got crushed, but by then, Elder Stow figured it out.  He fired his weapon full blast at the thing in the trees.  It tore through whatever flimsy screen the abomination could project and fried the thing.  The men and few remaining super soldiers in the field collapsed again as the abomination rapidly burned to a crisp.  The trees there also burned and would soon be charcoal themselves.  It fell to the ground and appeared to shrivel up before it liquified, and Sung Ao pronounced it dead.

“Dead as a doornail,” Gan Ao said.  Sung Ao hugged the old man with a word.  “You should not be here.”

Avalon 8.12 Abomination, part 3 of 5

Sung Ao had his people camp up against a cliff face where it rose from a sparse grassland on the edge of the Taklimakan Desert.  Boulders sat here and there around the field, stones that fell from above at some time in the distant past, or perhaps got planted by glaciers long ago.  He made the men dig trenches between the boulders before dark.  They piled the dirt and added what fallen trees, branches, and rocks they could lift to make about a one- or two-foot wall.  It would give his men something to lay behind in case of bandit arrows.  And while horses could probably leap over the wall, any bandits on foot would have to pause and crawl over, making themselves targets for arrow fire in return

Sung Ao and the Polos camped in the corner beside where the cliff collapsed making the field full of stones and big rocks where no horses could go.  Sung Ao noticed a big and wide dark spot up that side of the hill, but he did not imagine anything would be there worse than a bear, and any bear would avoid such a large number of men.

They had a pleasant night.  The Polos argued.  Marco read and conversed haltingly with Chin Li after dark.  Jai the Mongol laughed with Sung Ao now and then.  The stars came out that night and the moon appeared nearly full.  Sung Ao expected no trouble in the night.  It was the morning he was worried about.

###

At dawn, Elder Stow’s alarm went off.  Lockhart, Elder Stow, with Katie and Decker who carried their rifles went to the edge of the screens Elder Stow set up.  It did not take long for three cyborgs to show up and face them.  One cyborg reached out to touch the screen.  He appeared to try several different energy pulses, but the screens barely registered that they had been touched.  The cyborgs had no way of getting through.

“You don’t belong here,” Lockhart said right away.  “This planet is off limits to space travelers.”

“We understand,” one cyborg responded in a relatively normal sounding voice.  At least Lockhart was surprised that it did not make a scratchy-metallic sound.  “We will not be here long.  The enemy has come here.  We will destroy the enemy and be gone.  Stay here until we have finished.  You will be safe.”

Elder Stow spoke.  “You know, there are limits on what a species can do with cybernetics.  You will not live forever, and the collective mind destroys things like creativity and initiative.”

“So we have discovered.  Our kind will not last, but first we must end the abomination.”

“Abomination?” Katie asked.

“The enemy.  They abused themselves in unnatural ways making horrors as evil as the Acca that we drove from our world.  They created the great abomination that ruled our world with its thoughts.  The poor souls have become no more, but our collective being found a way to block the thoughts of the evil one.  We destroyed it, and the lesser abominations it made, but one escaped.  It came here.  When we destroy it now, our work will be done.”

The three cyborgs turned and lifting slightly from the ground, they flew away.

The others turned back toward the camp but looked at Elder Stow for an explanation.  He had his own database out to read before he spoke.  “The Acca are Flesh Eaters.  The Flesh Eaters invaded their world and they drove them off by making super soldiers in one place and cyborgs in another.  The cyborgs have learned that there are limits on their ability to adapt and grow.  They will cease soon enough.  The super soldiers, however, continued to experiment until they altered their genetic code to create a massive world-mind that took over the planet.  The normal, original people on that planet got wiped out.  The super soldiers became its slaves, but the cyborgs, with their collective mind, resisted, maybe because some of them were off world using space technology made by the Flesh Eaters.  They discovered a way to better block the mind of the abomination, and the weapon to kill it.  The cyborgs then invaded their own planet and, at great loss, killed the super soldiers, the abomination, and the lesser abominations the first one made.”

“Thank God for that,” Katie said.  “Telepathic control?” she asked.

“Essentially,” Elder Stow nodded.  “It can project itself into the mind, memories, feelings, everything, and take complete control so the person is no more than a puppet.  Complete possession, though it is unclear in my record when the person dies.  One theory suggests they die instantly when possessed in that way, but most believe the consciousness continues for a time.”

“That must be horrible,” Decker said.

“Indeed,” Elder Stow agreed.  “Fortunately, this lesser abomination can only take over and control an area of several hundred miles radius.  It can’t take over the whole world.”

“I wouldn’t call several hundred miles fortunate,” Lockhart said.

Katie asked.  “When you say control, you are talking about possessing people?”

“People.  Animals.  Plants.  As far as I can tell from my record, the whole landscape and environment can be reshaped.”

“Wait.”  Decker stopped shy of the campfire, and everyone waited for him to speak.  “We have to be within the radius, unless Elder Stow’s screens are keeping the abomination out.”

Elder Stow shook his head.  “There is one screen set to block telepathic projections.  Yes, we have that, but it is not nearly strong enough to hold back anything as strong as an abomination.”

“My guess is it is hiding from the cyborgs,” Lockhart said.

###

“Bandits,” one man shouted, and soon there were many shouts.  The bandits appeared on horseback, about two hundred, but a few rode in front of the others and got down.  They waited, like they expected the merchants to come out and talk.  Sung Ao, Chin Li and Jai were willing.  They took the time to set the men in the best positions they could to fend off an attack, and they came dragging the two that normally rode on the point.  Sung Ao made sure the three Polos stayed in the camp and kept the fire going.

Sung Ao hardly had to get close before he recognized two of the bandits.  He shouted ahead.  “Lord Bozarius and Hakim the Berber.  Sorry you had to be killed, several times I imagine.  You must be about out of lives by now.”

The men growled at Sung Ao, and one even said, “Kairos,” but they let a third man do the talking.  He was a big and ugly one that appeared to enjoy looking down on his opponents.  Sung Ao heard from the Princess.  She said he appeared very Xitides-like, and she wondered if he was actually mean or if it was all bluff and bully like Xitides.

“I am Timur,” the big man said.  “You cannot cross my territory without tribute.  Bring out your gold and the three foreign men you have, and I may let you go unharmed.”

“You mean Niccolo, Maffeo and Marco?”  He saw that was exactly who Bozo and Hakim wanted.  Timur stood and thought about it.  It looked painful.

“I guess so,” Timur said.

“But what do the Masters have to say?” Sung Ao turned to stare at the two men he knew were repeats.  Lord Bozo spoke.

“The Polos will not finish their journey.  The gifts from the Pope will never reach the Great Khan.  Europe will remain in darkness for ages to come.”

“Yes,” Sung Ao understood.  “The Travels of Marco Polo is one of a dozen books that impacted the history of the whole world.  Sorry.  No Venetians. But I do have three strangers for you to meet.  Slymer, Dragos, and Cruncher,” he called.  Slymer was an imp from the Taklimakan Desert. Dragos was a dwarf and Cruncher was and ogre from the Kunlun Mountains.  Timur stood shocked by the imp and dwarf, but he screamed when he looked up at the eight-foot ogre.  He turned and ran screaming, ignoring his horse who backed away from the smell.  His men grabbed their horses and rode after him.  Lord Bozarius and Hakim were the last to leave, and not without another growl.

“Thank you,” Sung Ao said, and waved his hand.  The three little ones vanished and went back to where they came from.  He looked at Chin Li and his men and pointed at the big man running away.  “We should change his name from Timur to Timid.”

Jai laughed.

Sung Ao and his crew went back to the camp and adjusted the defensive position a little according to what they saw among the bandits.  The bandits would argue, perhaps for hours before they did anything.  The Polos all asked but got told they had to wait.  “Stand off for now,” Sung Ao told them.

In less than an hour, laser-like weapons got fired in the direction of the rock pile beside the cliff face and the long cave in the side of that hill.  Jai moved the Polos to the other side of the camp in case a stray shot came in their direction.  Sung Ao watched closely.

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MONDAY

The showdown. Don’t miss it.  Happy Reading

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