Reflections W-4 part 3 of 3

Everything on the table tasted wonderful, just the right temperature, including some of the fruit, which was chilled. The woman merely sat at the head of the table the whole time and watched, mostly Wlvn. Wlvn felt uncomfortable having those eyes trained on him, but for most of the time he got too busy stuffing his face to protest. When she produced the raspberry ices at the end of the feast, Wlvn finally had to say something.

“My Lady is too kind to us poor travelers,” he said, and she smiled at his sentiment while he continued. “Have you tried orange ices? You must, though I don’t know where you can get oranges this time of year outside of Italy or perhaps Iberia.”

The lady opened her beautiful blue eyes just a little wider and brushed her long, blond hair behind her ear. “I thought you were the one,” she said, without explanation.

Wlvn returned her smile and got to the point. “I would not like to impose on your hospitality, but we are being pursued by Loki’s creatures and I would be most grateful if you would give us sanctuary for the night.” Wlvn had looked out the long window in the room and he saw that the sun getting ready to set.

The lady eyed him for another moment before she answered. “Your horses will be safe. The creatures will not come up to the house, though I may require you to teach me how to ride one of the beasts.” She paused to flash her smile for him once more. “As for the rest, your rooms are already prepared. If you will follow me.” She stood. Somehow, she had changed out of her robe and skintight clothes and now wore a dress, still skintight from the waist up, and which did not even fall to her knees, and when she walked, moved in a way to where it is safe to say the three travelers who followed her did not see any other parts of that great house.

“For your servants,” the lady said and opened a door to a room with two beds. She stepped back to let Wlkn and Badl enter the room, and she took Wlvn by the arm. He could hardly protest, though he thought she seemed taller when he first saw her. Presently, she looked just tall enough for her head to top out about at his eyes. That made her his perfect height, as Wlvn supposed, and he had no doubt that was what she wanted to be. “Call if you need anything.” The lady turned Wlvn to walk down the hall.

“My friends will be safe, Ydunna?” Wlvn had to ask. He knew the woman’s name. She was the goddess of youth, keeper of the golden apples.

Ydunna stopped in mid stride and turned to face him. Clearly, she had made herself to be as ordinary and human as possible and looked a little miffed that he guessed. He looked down into her blue eyes and saw her change of mind as she pulled herself in real close and planted her lips on his. What could he do but oblige? But when they parted, he spoke again.

“My friends will be safe?”

Ydunna looked miffed again. “Yes,” she said. “And your horses. The Alfader says your mission is too important to keep you here, much as I might like.” She looked up again into his eyes and smiled as if in search of another kiss, but then she seemed to change her mind and turned him toward a door. That room was filled with a great big double bed, and Wlvn thought that maybe the Goddess did not change her mind after all. “In the meantime, you are mine tonight, and you will always have a bed here when you want it.” The way she said that gave Wlvn chills, as she followed Wlvn into the room and closed the door behind her, tight.

“What about your husband?” Wlvn asked.

“Oh, I’m not married,” Ydunna responded.

Wlvn quickly grabbed her to keep her at arm’s length. He studied her for a minute. “Only because you are so young,” he concluded. “What are you, fifty? Sixty?”

Ydunna dropped her eyes for the first time. “How could you possibly know that?” She asked.

“I’ve been around.” Wlvn softened a bit.

Ydunna looked up, and the look in her eye made her look like a cat and Wlvn felt like the mouse. “But I just love red hair.” She reached up to lay her hand tenderly on his cheek. Wlvn became afraid she might start to purr or growl at any moment, so he felt he had no choice but to change. One second Ydunna stroked Wlvn’s young cheek and looked longingly into his eyes and the next second she snatched her hand away like she had been burned. Wlvn went away and Flern came to stand in his place; and Flern frowned at the goddess.

Ydunna backed away and thought for a second before she came to a conclusion. “I don’t go that way.”

“I don’t either,” Flern said. “But look, as lovely, desirable and attractive as you are, my Wlvn has not had a good night’s sleep in three nights. He really needs to rest, if you follow what I am saying. Please, not tonight. Maybe some other night, but not tonight. Okay?”

Ydunna looked down for the second time. “But maybe it is too late,” she said. “I painted his ice with ambrosia. Odin said he was going to go against the Titan, and I was afraid he might need some extra help. He should be immortal now. What?” She asked what because Flern kept shaking her head.

“It doesn’t work on me. I’m immune. Whoever is in control to make sure I keep getting reborn at the right time and in the right places has taken me out of the hands of the gods altogether. Ambrosia is just apples to me. Oh!” It became Flern’s turn to act startled and Ydunna responded appropriately.


“I just realized. Wlkn and I shared a taste of our ices because I didn’t think mine tasted like raspberries. That old man had a taste of ambrosia.”

“No! He can’t have had enough to be made immortal.”

“No, but I bet he gets a fair bit younger.” Flern started to laugh and Ydunna joined her in her laugh, and even put out her hand to touch Flern’s hand in a spirit of sharing. “You really blew that one,” Flern said.

“Now what is that old man going to do?” Ydunna asked and both girls began to laugh again just thinking about it. Then at once the laughter stopped and Ydunna looked hard into Flern’s eyes. “You know; you look exactly like him in a way. You have the same skin, same hair and same eyes.”

“We have the same soul,” Flern said.

“I know that, but I mean you look exactly alike, except you are a girl and he is very much a young man.”

“Thanks for that,” Flern said.

Ydunna patted Flern’s hand before she took her own hand back. “All right. I won’t have him tonight. I will let him rest, but remember, you promised I will have a turn.”

“No, no.” Flern spoke quickly. “I said maybe. The gods never make promises, and you might as well learn that now before you get any older.”

“We don’t?” Ydunna had to think. “I never heard that before. The gods never make promises?”

“Exactly.” Flern patted Ydunna’s hand this time and went away, letting Wlvn return to his own place and time. “That way you never promise something that you can’t deliver or that gets you in trouble later on.”

Ydunna put her hand to her mouth at the change. “That is remarkable the way you do that.” She stepped in and grabbed him and kissed him good night, but like she meant, see you later. “Just so you remember me,” she said, as she pulled away. Then a wry little grin crossed her face. “Right now, I have to go check on an old man.” She left, and Wlvn thanked Flern with all his mind and heart because there was no way he was going to be able to resist Ydunna if she became really determined. Wlvn tried not to think of poor Wlkn as he crawled up into the big bed. It turned out to be not much of a struggle for him to put Wlkn and everything else out of his mind because his head only touched the pillow and he fell asleep.

When Wlvn returned to the dining room in the morning, he found the table set once again with every delectable food to break his fast, but this time Ydunna did not come around. Badl came in and joined him as he partook of the feast, and Wlkn came in last of all, slapping his hands against his skinny chest. The gray hair was black again and it looked like a full head of hair. His teeth were restored, the wrinkles were all gone, and his eyes sparkled with vitality and youth.

“I’m a new man, I tell you.” He fairly shouted. “Never in all the world has a man been blessed as I have, to be young again and full of life.”

“Good,” Wlvn said. “So you can carry your own grain again to the center of the universe and once again risk being selected. Pass the butter.” He said the last to Badl who obliged with a straight face.

Wlkn sat down quietly, having the wind knocked out of him a little with that comment. “Now, that was hardly something to bring up when I was just thinking how good it felt to be a man again.”

“You have my sympathies,” Badl said. “Fortunate for me, I was never a man in the first place. Pass the bread.” Wlvn passed it and tried not to grin too hard.

Wlkn placed his chin in his hand, his elbow on the table and stared hard at his two companions. He looked like he was ready to sulk until Wlvn spoke up. “You better fill your plate. No telling when we may get a next meal, and you are skinny as a sapling, new man or not.”

Wlkn said nothing, but he did fill his plate, twice. Then he mumbled as he sat back with a contented grin on his face. “Still, it’s been a good dream so far, overall.”



A good sleep and a good meal helps, but the night creatures are still after them and Badl can’t think of where to lead them except into the swamp.  Happy Reading


Elect II—22 Temptation, part 2 of 3

Emily watched as Ferdinand Franco stepped up to President Batiste’s door.    “Batiste, we got your package,” he said.  He waved one of his people to open the big double doors while he hid.  That suggested to Emily that Franco was certainly not stupid.

The man opened both of the doors wide thinking his group had the upper hand, and he took a bullet in his chest and collapsed.  Heinrich immediately knocked over a table with his feet, to act as a shield.  He made them scoot behind a well cushioned chair for added protection, even as the ac-emily-b1bullets started flying.   But Emily first saw Batiste’s head was on his desk and there was plenty of blood flowing from the hole in his head.  The man was already dead and Emily guessed it was Captain Gouldos.

While men were killing each other, Emily sat on her hands.  She hurt her wrists terribly, but inch by inch her hands came forward.  She figured when she got them all the way down around her feet she could at least have her hands in front and might be able to grab something to fight.

Heinrich was fascinated by the battle.  His eyes poked up, dangerous as it was, and he counted the dead.  Secretary Nancy hid behind her desk.  The man with the limp and the hot pads hid around the back of the desk and trembled with his hands over his ears and his eyes shut tight.

The battle ended when Franco killed Captain Gouldos.   It was touch and go at the end as to which one would kill the other, but they were the last two combatants, so Franco ended up with the prize.  He ran into the President’s office and frisked Batiste’s body before he dumped it on the floor.  He began to tear the desk apart.

“Where is it?” Franco said before he had a second thought.  He frisked the Captain’s body and then frisked the two security lieutenants who were there and also corpses.  “Where is it?”  He roared and came to the door to accuse Nancy.

Nancy stood calmly behind the desk, one hand behind her back and the other hand held up a key.  She jingled it.  “Looking for this?” she said.

ac-nancy-1“Give it here.  Quick.”  Franco lifted his gun and put out his free hand to grab the key, but Nancy raised her hidden hand which also held a gun and she killed Franco with a perfect shot to the heart.

The man with the limp and hot pads tried to run to the stairs, but Nancy killed him also with one shot.  She was clearly an expert marksman.

Nancy turned her gun on the two behind the table.  Heinrich was obviously still cuffed, and Emily appeared to be also, from what Nancy could see.  In fact, Emily had just taken off her shoes to get her cuffed hand around her feet, but that was hidden from Nancy’s sight.

Nancy smiled.  “I can be gracious, I think.”  She set down her gun and unlocked the metal box.  “Yes.  It is important to start things on a positive foot.”  She took the lid off the box and the room filled with the aroma of apples and cinnamon.  “Goddess Nancy,” she said.  “It has a nice ring to it.” And she stuffed the apples into her mouth.

Emily moved out of desperation.  She got her hands in front and broke off a leg from the table to use as a club, but then she did not know what do to.  Forty-year-old Nancy now looked closer to thirty, going on twenty, and she was still smiling when she began to gag.

ac-nancy-3“What?”  Nancy got that word out as her body began to convulse in uncontrollable motions.  She fell to her knees and threw up, a mixture of apples and blood.  Her fifteen-year-old mouth tried to yell, “No,” but it was too late.  She convulsed even when her eyes closed and she became unconscious.  By the time she was five, she was dead, and while she stopped getting younger, she began to both decay and her skin began to harden and mummify at a rapid pace.

Heinrich stood up next to Emily.  “I would guess they did not get the recipe right.”

“It smelled good,” Emily said as she touched Nancy’s child hand with her club and watched it crumble to dust.  They stopped when there was commotion behind them on the stairs.  Emily raised her club.  Heinrich went for Nancy’s gun, but it was Riverbend and one of her elves who burst in, decked out in armor and arrows ready.  Sebastian Scott followed.  Maggie Holmes came last with a little huffing and puffing.  They all had to stop for a moment to take in the bloody battle scene.

Emily had a strange thought, but followed her inkling while Heinrich went to the man who had the key to the cuffs.  “Zoe.”  Emily had not said that word in some time and she never called to the goddess.  “Zoe.”  She called.

“I hear you.”  Zoe appeared out of nowhere.  She lifted her hand to examine things with her mind or her spirit.  “They got the recipe almost right, but only used part of one golden apple.  The rest was ordinary apple and not exactly baked to the temperature of the surface of the sun.  I’m glad they included the cinnamon sugar.  I told Hera it had to be in there.  It makes it edible, but…”  Zoe stepped up to the box which still had crumbs in it.  She licked her finger, touched an apple crumb and touched that to her tongue to taste it, to identify some substance.  When she got it, her face lit up.

“Arsenic.  A couple of other virulent and quick acting poisons, but the whole thing must have been saturated in arsenic.”

“That shipment to the science department,” Emily said.  Zoe turned to stare at her while Emily continued to think out loud.  “But that means the apples are still out there.”

zoe-1Zoe smiled that Emily understood.  “Yes, but it should be a while to figure out how to cook it properly, if ever.”

Heinrich stood with the keys in his teeth.  “She got younger because the apple was not cooked properly?”  It was hard to understand his words, but not impossible.

Zoe repeated the thought and nodded. “She got younger because the apple was not properly cooked.  She might have gotten younger than her birth, but the poison took over.  No goddess, I’m afraid.  Just a shriveled child, and too bad about the rug.”  She stepped around the vomit, took the keys from Heinrichs mouth and unlocked the handcuffs.  “It is good to do things in a natural way, sometimes.”  Heinrich rubbed his raw wrists and Zoe spoke again when she unlocked Emily.  “My queen.  When you return in September you still have apples to find and work to do, but that can wait.  Right now, don’t you have finals?”  Zoe grinned and vanished.

“Thanks for reminding me,” Emily groused.

Everyone heard the answer, “You’re welcome.”

Emily had one final thought.  She tore the sleeve on Nancy’s dress and before that arm turned to dust she saw the tattoo.  It was a circle with three squiggly lines up top.

Elect II—12 Christmas Break, part 1 of 3

Ashish parked in the lot next to the donut shop and got out whistling Santa Clause is Coming to Town.  He liked the colored lights that edged the shop.  He stopped when he heard a deep guttural growl.  Something was hidden in the dark of the lot.

ab-elf-girl-1aA young girl ran up, but stopped on seeing the detective.  Ashish imagined a young teen out wandering the neighborhood, and he became concerned about whatever produced that growl, but when he looked closely and revised his thought.  He had to ask.

“Do you work for Santa?”  The pointed ears on the cute thing were unmistakable.

“I wish,” the girl said and the growl came again.  “Over here,” the girl yelled, and so many young people with pointed ears raced up and ran so fast, Ashish blinked and tears came to his eyes from the wind produced by their speed in passing.

Something dark and foreboding stood up between two parked cars.  It looked big and ready to run, but one of the youngsters got a rope around it.  Ashish heard a whine in place of the growl.  They got two more ropes around the neck of the beast, whatever it was.  It strained at the ropes, but people were yelling about holding it steady and not letting it go.  Suddenly, a great flash of light made Ashish blink, and they all disappeared.

Ashish rubbed his eyes, and found the first young woman with the ears beside him.  She curtsied, an exceptionally graceful thing considering she was in slacks, and she spoke.

“Merry Christmas, Detective Mousad.”  She stepped back around the donut shop corner.  When Ashish followed, he found that she had vanished.

“Merry Christmas,” he said, regardless, and he went back to whistling Santa Clause is Coming to Town while he stepped inside the shop.


ac-sarah-3Sara helped the girls pack for the Christmas holidays.  The spider was dead.  Maynard was put out of action and the poor students she experimented on were safely locked up for the present in the old hospital psych ward, while people worked on a more permanent solution.  Curiously, President Batiste made no complaint about Emily handling the Maynard situation without calling campus security first.

“The only thing unresolved is Lisa and her night creatures,” Maria pointed out.

“I wish I could stay here to help,” Emily said.

“I could maybe track them,” Jessica offered.

“If I focused, I might see them,” Amina said.

“Hush.”  Sara talked to them all.  “There has been no sign of them in a week, and you resolved all of your tasks and fought through your finals.  You deserve some rest.”

“But we didn’t resolve anything!”  Mindy shouted and everyone paused.  Mindy was not normally one to raise her voice in frustration.  She was seriously a genteel and petite southern belle who only squealed when she got happy or excited.  In this case, though, she yelled as she stuffed way too much into her carry-on bag.   “We have found no apples.  We have found no door.  And whatever big mystery Zoe wants us to solve remains unsolved.  We don’t even have an inkling of what the mystery might be about!”

“Rest.”  Sara responded.  “Especially you living down in that cave day and night.”  She pointed at Mindy.

“Besides,” Melissa whispered.  “I thought you didn’t like the cold.”  The New Jersey weather had turned to freezing in December.  A little moisture and they might have some snow.  Mindy nodded, but said nothing.  South Carolina weather was much nicer that time of year.

ac-heinrich-a4Emily also said nothing, but she was thinking.

“You should listen to the priestess,” Heinrich spoke up from the door.  “I will help the good detective with her night creatures.  You all need to rest.”  He stood there with one finger laid against his nose.  He had also let his beard grow and was looking once again like the proverbial Santa Clause.  Emily stepped over and kissed the man’s cheek.  The others followed and all gave him hugs as he continued to speak.  “Your tribe all made it safely to the airport, but for Greta who got picked up by her parents.”  Emily had just found out that Greta was Moravian and lived in Pennsylvania.  She thought a Moravian was odd for one considering the military, but what did she know?  “Natasha is safely on her way to Detroit, Diane is probably on the runway right now headed back to Kansas and Hilde is flying off to Syracuse.  Just a puddle-jump flight.”

“I know,” Melissa said.  “She does not live that far from me in Vermont.  We talked about meeting somewhere over the holiday and maybe going skiing.”

“Very good.”  Heinrich rubbed his hands together.  “The airport caravan will be leaving in twenty minutes.”  He looked at Sara who nodded.  Twenty minutes was enough time.

Emily looked again at the note she found in her mail box from Bernie the campus cop.  It said one word.  She handed it to Mindy with a condition.

ac-mindy-7“Promise you won’t open this and read it until you are on the plane.”  Mindy reached for it but Emily snatched it back.  “Promise.”

Mindy looked like she was still angry about something, but settled herself.  “Yes, majesty.  I promise.”  Mindy stuffed the paper in her purse.

Later that afternoon, when Mindy was safely on her way back to her warmer clime, she pulled the paper out and read the word, “Ambrosia.”  Her eyes got big and she gasped her response.

“Of course!”