Gregor confirmed that Kunther was a fool and Lady Brunhild wielded the real power behind the rebellion. She had presumably bewitched most of the rebels, but he was no longer fooled. He had lost family up by Porolissum to Quadi raiders. He said there were others who felt the way he did and Greta felt glad to hear that Bragi was among them.
“What I don’t understand is what she intends to gain,” Gregor said.
“Obviously, the people did not rise up in support of Kunther’s rebellion, so she had no choice but to look for help from the outside.”
“Yes,” he said. “But if the Quadi overrun the land, what place will there be for her?”
“I don’t know.” Greta wondered that, herself.
After about an hour, she heard Bragi at the door demanding to see his sister. The guard did not sound unsympathetic, and said he could go in as long as it was brief. Bragi and Greta hugged for a long time, and Greta cried just a little. Despite her outward bravado, Greta still felt very scared and everything about her, her face, her shoulder and her hip throbbed with a kind of dull pain.
Soon, Bragi and Gregor started exchanging notes and planning. They must have mentioned two dozen men who were firmly with them and the only disagreement became whether to effect a rebellion within the ranks and sue for peace, or to contact the Romans first and bring them into the Temple for a surprise attack on Kunther. Bragi saw the political implications and imagined the penalty the Romans might require for traitors. He argued for bringing the Romans in as early as possible. Gregor, however, argued for rebellion within the ranks. A successful rebellion would convince the Romans whose side they were really on more than any talk, he said. Greta imagined the man might have a personal grudge, though she never asked what that might be.
“No.” Greta pulled herself together at last and stood to gain everyone’s attention. “Priest. I take it you have not been cooperating of late.”
“Not since Boarshag,” Vasen said, and the others confirmed this.
“You know where the weapons of Trajan are stored?” She shot straight to the point.
“Yes, good Mother,” Vasen said, but he wondered what she was after.
“They are in the cavern and diggings beneath the Temple,” Gregor said. “But it is very damp down there.”
“Most of the weapons are rusty and useless,” Bragi added. “And the powder is not dry enough to use, either.”
“Is any of it any good?” Greta asked.
“Some.” Bragi shrugged. “But not enough of it to turn the tide of battle, even if our people got all of the good stuff.”
Greta closed her eyes and cleared her heart before she spoke. “Thorn and Thissle.” She commanded, and they appeared a few feet away. It took them a few moments to orient themselves. Then they hugged as if they had not seen each other lately, and they turned together to face Greta.
“My gracious, lovely lady,” Thorn said, with a bow, and Thissle curtsied as well as she could in her new form. Bragi jumped in fright, but stayed beside his sister. Vasen looked delighted as if, like Fae, they represented something he had longed to see all of his life. Finbear looked curious. He had seen Berry fluttering around and had also seen the goddess, so he did not get especially surprised. Gregor let out a short shout and jumped to the wall, but he made no other noise for fear that the guard might hear.
“Thorn, how far away is General Pontius?”
“He should be here by morning,” Thorn reported. “And Gumbeater the Hobgoblin of the lower hills says the Celts are moving through the woods in great numbers. They should also be here by morning.”
“Thissle. Can you make yourself invisible so only Bragi can see you?” Greta asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “That is very hard to do.”
“Bragi is my brother.” Greta explained, and Thissle brightened.
“Sir Bragi,” she said with a little bow. “For family of the goddess, if his heart is true to you as with your brother Hans, he will be able to see me.” She vanished from the sight of the others.
Bragi looked up after a minute to see everyone staring at him. “Is she? Oh. I still see her, but there is a glow about her that I did not notice before.”
“The invisible spectrum, some call it,” Greta said, and Bragi understood.
“Thorn. Can you open this door when the time comes?” Greta asked.
“I’ll deal with the guard,” Gregor growled while Greta explained things to Finbear. Finbear also pledged to help with the guard and extended his hand to Gregor. It made Gregor pause, but then he accepted Finbear’s hand and Greta smiled for them. They were all in it together, now.
“When the time comes and Thorn opens the door, you must follow the Priest. I am sure he knows the quickest and safest way down the Mount. Do you all understand, Thorn?”
“Yes, Lady,” Thorn said and looked at the floor.
“Good,” she said. “Now Bragi and Thissle, here is what you must do. As soon as you can, you must take the statue to where the good powder is and leave it there. Put it as close as you can to the dry powder, and leave it there.”
“The statue?” Bragi asked. “The one you brought? Is it safe?”
“You won’t be hurt,” Greta said. “I have told them, I think. But just to be sure, Thissle, tell Burns and Madwick they are not to harm Bragi.”
“Scorch and Sparky too?” She asked.
“Scorch and Sparky, too,” Greta answered.
“I’ll make triple sure,” Thissle said, and there came an interruption.
“No,” Thorn answered. “Thissle and I live in the forest. Her family is from Elfhome, but my people all come from Mid-elf-land.”
“Quiet.” Greta insisted. She turned again to her brother. “Don’t bury the statue or put it under anything, but hide it behind something, behind the powder if you can.”
“Who are Spark and those others?” Bragi asked.
“Fire sprites.” Thissle started to speak, but Greta hushed her.
“Never mind, just trust me and do what I ask,” Greta said. “And when the statue is in place, gather your friends, the ones who have had a change of heart, and wait until Thissle gives the signal.”
“What signal? For what?” Bragi asked.
“It will probably be something like, “Get Out!” You must hurry down the Mount as fast as you can and head for the Roman outpost and surrender yourselves. Don’t worry about Gregor and these others. Thorn will get them out all right, and they will have the same message. Do you understand?” She looked at Thorn and Thissle, but everyone nodded, including Finbear who had no idea what he nodded for.
Greta has been lucky so far, in one sense. That terrible, powerful witch, Lady Brunhild, has been missing. Hopefully, plans can be put in motion before she returns, but she will return. Next week: Confrontation. Don’t miss it, and Happy Reading