R6 Greta: Briana, part 3 of 3

Fae held Berry from one side and Hans held her from the other as she covered her face and cried great sobbing tears.  They sat on a big stone block that looked deeply weathered by age.  Fae also looked teary eyed, and Hans looked ready to cry with them both.  Hobknot stood there, too, shuffling his feet and looking uncomfortable with this great display of emotion.

“The dragon is your father, or was.”  Greta heard a man’s voice, but only saw him when Fae turned her head to look.  He looked like an elderly man, with gray hair and some small wrinkles around the eyes, but his concern for their distress seemed genuine.  “Mithrasis transformed your father, and she uses him to go where she cannot go.”

“How are there places she cannot go if she is a goddess?” Hans listened.

“Ah, because this whole land is surrounded by a field of force first made by the Gott-Druk and enhanced by the old god Loki and by myself.  It would be death for her to attempt to leave.”

“I have heard of such a place where those who enter cannot escape.”  Fae spoke up as Berry turned to cry more securely on Han’s shoulder.  “I had not realized we came this far.  I should have known.  The Land of the Lost.”

The old gentleman shook his head.  “Your hearing is from recent history, about a hundred years. That is how long I have been trapped here.  This dome, or rather these ragged stones and the opening where the great door once stood are thousands of years old.  At the dawn of history, a Titan ruled from this place, and the people in all the land around here were lost, you might say, cut off from the rest of the world. They were enslaved, and worse. They were eaten.  The Gott-Druk and Loki helped the Titan so even the gods were powerless to end his reign of terror.”

“What happened?” Hobknot asked since Hans stayed busy comforting Berry.

“Young hobgoblin, that is a long story, but I hope the same one who ended the terror of the Titan will come here now and save us all.”  The man turned to look at Fae and Greta thought he looked directly at her.  “It will be a long journey.  I will send help when I can, but Mithrasis will try to stop you. Do not underestimate her.”

“Old man.”  Mithrasis stood in the doorway, fuming, hands on hips, but she looked unable to come in.  “Send the people back out to me.”

“Nymphus,” the old man called her.  “We have guests.  Be nice.”

“Greta.”  Greta heard her name, but oddly, not one of the people present spoke.  “Greta.”  She heard it again coming from outside her vision and it impacted her actual ears. She opened her eyes.  She saw Mavis.  The women hovered around her.  Greta grabbed Aowen’s frail arm.

“Fae is not dead, but she is a prisoner far in the north.  I am going to try and set her free.”  Greta caught her mouth.  “Don’t tell anyone.”  But Aowen began cry, and like Mother Hulda used to cry, she cried as though she saw something of the vision.  Unlike Berry, Aowen was an old woman so the tears came soft, but Berry came there to comfort her—or, no it was Briana offering comfort, and Mavis stood right there with her too, crying in empathy, as so many little ones tended to do. Greta sat up slowly so as not to interrupt, but they had a party to attend before they could go anywhere.

###

At dawn, Mavis helped Briana pick out a horse for the journey.  Within an hour, the group had saddled and got ready to depart.  Briana would lead them to the village of the Dragon Clan.  That was a long way, at the top of the plateau on the edge of the Carpathian Mountains.  The men all said it would be safer on foot.  On horseback, they had to cross several places where the Lazyges might be lurking, but with luck, horseback would be quicker.  Greta gave a choice, but everyone, including Briana said they would stick with the horses.

Alesander rode out front with Briana to show the way. Greta stayed beside Lucius and let Mavis ride beside Hermes who tied Stinky’s reigns to his saddle so the mule actually brought up the rear.  They moved better that way, as long as the wind didn’t blow from behind.  Greta kept her eyes open, but she figured it was already too late if Mavis had any ideas.  Meanwhile, she wanted to keep one eye on Lucius since she just could not convince herself to trust him.  It was not his few words and naturally sour disposition, but the fact that came to her in the middle of the night.  Lucius was a follower of Mithras.  Many in the Roman army were.

Greta took Alesander aside, Briana and Mavis being right there, and she talked about her suspicions.  Alesander said Lucius was foremost a top ranked soldier and not a devoted follower.  “All the same,” Greta responded.  “Don’t let your admiration of the man cloud your vision.  If he says go left, don’t be surprised if we go right.”  She considered sending Lucius on an errand back to the legion fort, but at last she decided he might be useful.  If Mithrasis had his mind, Greta might be able to feed him misinformation about their path and intentions.

On the second day, they came to the first stretch of flatland.  They saw a party of some thirty or forty Lazyges camped right in their path. Greta felt naturally suspicious by then, having ridden so long beside Lucius.  She thought hard about it and remembered that Mitra, Varuna’s brother began in India but took up residence in Persia when Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma invaded the Indus.  Mitra or Mita, sometimes Mica and then Mithras moved out of Iran with the Scythian people.  She concluded that any tribes with roots in the Scythians would be tied to Mithras and thus Mithrasis.  That put a lot of people in her path.  Besides the Lazyges, there were the Costoboci, the Carpi, and the powerful Sarmatians.

“They are all Scythians,” Alesander suggested.

“Different battle tactics,” Hermes advised.  “Scythians, like the Lazyges fire massive amounts of arrows from horseback.  Sarmatians armor their men and horses and have big lances on horseback.”  The others looked at him in wonder.  “We served in several Roman outposts on the north shore of the Black Sea before being assigned to Dacia.  It was rough duty, let me tell you.”

“Yeah,” Greta still thought out loud.  “Horsemen with lances.  Not a pretty sight, and three hundred and fifty years before King Arthur, I might add.”  The dumbfounded stares shifted to her, but she did not explain.  “I guess we have to wait until dark and make a run for it.”

“No, wait.”  Alesander and Briana were both paying attention.  They saw some commotion in the trees on the hillside across the open ground.  “Get ready to ride,” Alesander said, and they scooted down off the small rise they were hidden behind to where Lucius and Mavis held the horses.

Alesander moved them into a small copse of trees by the grass and pointed them toward that hillside and waited.  Greta squinted, but it looked to her like the Were people were back in business.  It looked like bear and great cats and wolves moving through the trees.  Then the arrows came from the trees on the hill, and the Lazyges got surprised.  Three men went down before the Lazyges could scoop them up and ride out of range. Alesander did not wait.

“Now,” he said, and at least Greta hoped the bears in the woods would not turn their arrows on her.  Greta left that place and the Princess returned to get a good grip on her bow.  Alesander, Lucius and Briana each fired two arrows as they rode for the hill. Hermes, who swore he was not so good at shooting from horseback rode hard with Stinky’s reigns in his hand. The Princess and Mavis each got off three arrows, and they struck home.  The Lazyges now had eleven dead or wounded men and several horses were injured as well. If they thought of a counterattack, it came too late when the group squirted into the trees and kicked their horses to get them up the hill.  The Lazyges made one half-hearted attempt to follow, but many of the men in animal skins remained behind to discourage pursuit.

Greta returned right away when the Princess went home, and she got down from her horse to face their rescuers.  The others joined her on foot as a big man in a wolf skin came to her.  “Mother Greta?”  He was not sure.

“You were warned we were coming, and thank you for all your help.”  It became her way of asking how the men knew they were coming, but clearly the men knew so she did not turn it into a question.  The man grinned as a few others came to stand beside him.

“It is not my place to question how a druid knows what they know, but I will tell you it was the goddess that warned us and told us you would need help to cross the long field.”

Which goddess?  Greta thought that did not sound right.  She figured Mithrasis sent the Lazyges to stop her and would not have sent the Celts to help her unless Mithrasis was seriously psychotic.   She thought hard for a moment, but she said something else.  “We best get moving before the Lazyges get reinforcements and follow.”

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MONDAY

The troop moves north to the next village where they discover the elect and her cousins.  Until Monday, Happy Reading.

*

R6 Greta: Briana, part 2 of 3

A head popped out of a bush, startled Alesander and spooked Lucius enough to make him jump back.  “It’s Mother Greta,” the man shouted, and twenty men came slowly up on to the road from all directions.

“Was it me or the armor?” Greta asked coyly, as she stepped up and made sure Lucius did not react in the wrong way.

“Both,” the man said.  “I remembered from the road.”

“Peace, everyone.  Put up your weapons,” one man shouted to the rest of the group.

“We have been watching the low road since the Lazyges came through two weeks back,” another man confided to Greta.

“But what brings you to our land?” a third asked.

“I’ve come to see my good friend Cecil, and to offer Danna’s blessing on your homes and fields.”

“We are honored,” the first spoke again, and the group lead their horses as they walked up the hill to a path in much better shape than the old road.  It took less than an hour to get to the village itself which rested behind fields, harvested in the fall, and flocks of sheep that grazed lazily on the hillsides.  The village sprang up suddenly on the mountain, hidden behind a well-built wooden stockade and butted up to a tall cliff. They no sooner entered the gate when all sorts of noises split the air.  People ran and shouted and a ram’s horn got blown from the town hall.  Word had evidently gone ahead of them, and a crowd gathered around them, but Greta held one man’s attention so he led them to Cecil’s house.  Mavis stayed close to Greta’s side, like her shadow, her eyes lowered, not being entirely comfortable in the midst of all these strange humans.  Greta assured her that it would be all right, and she watched Alesander, Lucius and Hermes.  They gaped at everything that happened around them, and pointed here and there to both familiar and unfamiliar things.

“Looks like we’ve returned to Gaul, if you ask me,” Lucius said.  “I even recognize some words, or at least the sound of them, though I couldn’t tell you what anyone is saying.”

“Ancient history,” Alesander told Greta.  “A brief tour before we were moved into Dacia.”

“They are a lively people, I must tell you,” Hermes said, and they arrived.  They found a woman in the doorway.  She looked young, maybe Greta’s age of near twenty-four, or a little younger, and dressed in a leather jerkin and britches.  She had a bow over her shoulder and a sword at her side.

“Father is not here,” she spoke right up.  “Our home is small and our meat is no great bounty, but you are welcome to share in all that we have.  My name is Briana.”  Briana’s Latin sounded passable.

“Maybe we should set our own camp and not burden the young woman,” Hermes suggested in his native Greek.

“That would be rude,” Greta responded in the Greek before she turned to Briana and spoke in Briana’s native Gaelic.  “Thank you for your hospitality.  If you be willing, the men may wish to sleep outdoors.”

“Nonsense,” a young man stepped up on the porch to stand beside Briana.  The young people shared a glance that only best friends can share, but they did not touch in any way like lovers.  Greta decided they were probably birth-mates like Beauty and Koren of old.  Briana even had a bit of red in her auburn hair. Of course, Beauty had been fire red.

“Koren,” Briana introduced the man and Greta just nodded at the name.  History did tend to repeat itself.

“I will take the men, and we will see to their needs,” Koren said as other men came up to take the horses and the mule that Greta had taken to calling Stinky.  Lucius and Hermes were reluctant to part with their animals, but with a nod from Greta, Alesander insisted so they had no incident.

“Gentlemen,” Greta turned to the soldiers.  “Follow this young man.  His name is Koren and he will see you bedded for the night.”

“Bedded, yes.”  Koren’s Latin sounded better than Briana’s.  “But the elders are planning a feast tonight so there might not be much sleeping.”

Greta listened to what Alesander said in response before she followed Briana into the house.  He said they were old soldiers, certainly older than the young man leading them.  “And after our journey, please don’t be disappointed if we sleep more than the elders planned.”  Koren laughed and took it with a good will, just as the other Koren would have taken it.

Greta shook off the visions of history and paused in the doorway.  “Blessings be upon this house and all who dwell herein.”  She stepped into the little two room house and it reminded her of Mother Hulda’s house by the woods, and it looked just about as messy.

“Father went south on an errand,” Briana said, while Greta sat at the table and Briana hung her bow, arrows and sword in their places on the wall.  “I must dress.”  Briana got ready to go into the back room when she paused.  They saw a shadow at the door.  “Aowen,” Briana named the old woman.  “Aowen is our healer, now that Fae is gone to us.”  Aowen scowled and leaned heavily on her cane, a sure help in her advanced years.

“You were close to Fae?” Greta asked.  “She was such a dear and lovely woman.”  It was not the time and place to mention that Fae still lived, only transformed into a dwarf wife as her half-fairy blood finally had a chance to express itself.

Aowen grunted and stepped into the house. Apparently, Greta said something right, and it helped when Greta stood and offered her seat.  Aowen grunted again and sat heavily.

“Mavis, fetch a cup of water.  Aowen has something to tell us.”  Mavis smiled at having something to do, and Aowen stared at Greta while Greta took another seat at the table.

“You are the wise woman of the Dacians?”  Aowen prodded.

“I am a woman of the Dacians,” Greta responded.  “Whether I am wise or not remains to be seen.” Greta reached out to touch Aowen’s hand, to show friendship, but her hand did not get that far.  She stiffened, and Mavis grabbed her, knowing the signs.

Briana came from the other room, dressed in a long tan dress with a green apron.  Now she looked like every other woman in the village, except for being young and pretty in a certain Celtic way that Festuscato would have loved.  She noticed nothing at first, but Aowen spoke sharply and got her attention.

“Put her on the cot.”  Mavis did and Briana asked what was the matter.

“She is having a vision,” Mavis explained.

R6 Greta: Roman Persuasion, part 1 of 3

Captain Ardacles decided to escort Greta himself. “I did not want to risk your safety with a lesser officer,” he said.  Then he had a fit when Greta refused to ride in the wagon.  She had her horse saddled, and the horse Mavis rode as well.  Greta had practiced on horseback, and Mavis was an expert horsewoman, so Ardacles’ childish behavior did not last long.  There really seemed not much he could say or do about it.  Finally, Captain Ardacles assigned his Sergeant, an older man named Hermes, and three guards to stay with the women at all costs. He yelled, “At all costs.”  They tried to box the women in, but there were places on the road where more than two could ride abreast, so that was not always possible.

“Sergeant Hermes,” Mavis attempted to speak sense now and then.  “We are not going anywhere.”  Mavis would have appreciated the chance to let her horse out now and then, at least to trot.

“Right you are, Miss,” the sergeant responded over the sound of plodding horses.  “You are not going anywhere.”

At the end of the day, Greta finally spoke.  “Sergeant.  Since we were good all day, you can get your men to set up our tent and camp, and be quick about it.”

Sergeant Hermes did not know what else to say but, “Yes mum.”

In the morning, he did not even ask.  His men packed up the camp without a word, and Greta confided to Mavis.  “As long as we have to put up with them, we might as well get something out of the deal.

“I think Sergeant Hermes is nice,” Mavis said.

Greta’s eyes narrowed.  “Don’t you start.  We don’t need those kinds of complications”

“Yes, Lady,” Mavis said softly, and lowered her eyes. “I only meant nice.”

Greta nodded and accepted the word on the basis that children, dogs and elves had a kind of sixth sense about people.  She decided not to push the subject.

Shortly after noon, before everyone mounted up for the afternoon ride, the two men sent to the point came riding back in a sweat. “Men on the road,” they reported. “About thirty on foot and armed.”

Captain Ardacles inhaled, but held his tongue when Greta grabbed his arm.  Greta called for her armor.  It fit her perfectly, and included the full array of weapons at her back, even if she did not know how to use them.  The Captain clutched his heart on seeing the transformation.  “Get half your men up the trees on both sides of the road,” Greta ordered.  “Have the other half ride back around the bend in the road.  No hostile moves unless I say so.”

“Now miss—”

“I’m not asking.  That’s an order,” Greta said, and she went away from that place to let the Princess fill her shoes.  Captain Ardacles fainted.  Fortunately, Sergeant Daemon was able to take up the slack and began doling out orders. “Mavis.  You take the riders,” the Princess finished her thought.

“Very good, my lady,” Mavis spoke softly and then she raised her voice to command proportions.  “Sergeant Hermes.  I need your men now, mounted and ready, and ten more with you.  Be quick.”  Mavis leapt on her horse, bareback.  She had produced a bow and quiver of arrows from nowhere and hardly used her horse’s reigns to ride back behind the bend in the road.  Sergeant Hermes and the rest of the troop were a bit slow to catch up.

Ardacles’ company might have only been thirty strong, but they had all the advantages with horses ready to charge and men off the road ready to catch the enemy in a surprise crossfire.  The Princess got Ardacles to stand, and then she told him to shut up as the men in the distance came around the bend and stopped within a few feet.

“Celts.” The Princess announced.  “What brings you out of your forested hills and so deep into Roman land?  Are you dog clan or eagle clan?”  The Princess could not be sure because Greta, looking through her eyes, did not feel sure.

“Eagle clan,” the front man said.  “We have been four days chasing a Lazyges raiding party. They snuck passed us in the night on the low road beneath our village.  We quit the chase last night and are returning to our homes.  Good thing we found you, though.  A lone Roman and his lady, even a lady warrior would make easy pickings for the plains riders.”

“I am Greek, not Roman,” Ardacles said.

“You fight for the Romans,” the eagle man countered.

“These Celts are allies,” the Princess told Ardacles and laid a soft hand on his arm as if to keep his sword in its sheath. “And I am Greek too.  A princess.” She gave him her lovely smile.

“And we are not alone,” Ardacles continued with an effort to control his adrenaline.

The Princess frowned.  A testosterone confrontation would not help anyone.  “Put your arrows down and come out,” the Princess took the initiative and shouted.  “Mavis.  We have friends.”

The Celts were not inclined to move, especially when the soldiers began to come out of the woods and Mavis lead the troop back to stand behind the speakers.  Mavis dismounted and came up to her mistress even as a man in the midst of the Celts shouted in Gaelic.  “I know that armor.”  Men stepped aside to let the man through, and he stepped up and went to one knee.  “Mother Greta, even if you aren’t Mother Greta at the moment.”  Most of the Celts visibly relaxed on hearing who she was.  They knew the Dacian name for the one they thought of as a true Druid.

“Cecil.”  The princess, or at least Greta recognized the man.  “But I am Mother Greta,” the Princess responded in the same tongue and left that place so Greta could return and stand in her own shoes.  “Captain Ardacles, meet Cecil, my very good friend.” She reached out and helped the man back to his feet, and Cecil held out his hand so the captain had to shake the hand or appear rude.

“So how is your brother Hans and the women, Fae and Berry?”  Cecil neglected to ask about Hobknot because Greta remembered that knowledge of the little ones got cleansed from the minds of most after the battle in the last rebellion concluded.

“Lost,” Greta said, sadly.  “Fae and Berry went into the far north in search of their father, and Hans went to guard them, but they have not been heard from in two years. All I know is they are not dead. We are waiting.”  Greta added the near lie and let her voice fall.  She dared not say any more.

“I am sorry to hear that.  Pray that Danna may send them home soon,” Cecil said.

“So I pray,” Greta responded as the head of the eagle clan butted in.

“Mother Greta.”  He smiled, few teeth that he had, but they matched the few gray hairs on his head.

Greta caught the man’s eyes.  “On behalf of my husband, imperial governor of Dacia, I appreciate the effort your people make in keeping the Lazyges horsemen on their plains.  Do not hesitate to call on us as friends and allies.  Rome is strong to war, but peace and friendship are better.”  The man reached up to rub his hairy chin and think about it while Captain Ardacles proved for a military man that he was not without some political understanding.

“Stand off to the side of the road,” he shouted to his men.  “Let these good men pass in peace.  They have homes and families waiting for them.”  And the Romans stepped aside while the Celts moved on, Cecil alone insisted on a hug first.  Greta betrayed nothing, but Cecil seemed a wise man in his own way.

“Good luck,” he whispered, so Greta imagined he figured out something of her real journey.

R5 Greta: Battle, part 3 of 3

Fae took a deep breath and continued.  “When as the knights of the lance, as Hobknot calls them, crashed into the center of the enemy charge, they divided very sharply to the left and the right and many came very close to us.  That was when I took an arrow.  It must have been one of the first to ride by with a bow in his hands. But my people were watching, and with a great cry, they came pouring out of the forest and crashed deep into the side of the enemy horsemen.  Lady, it was glorious!”

“But now you got a big hole in your side.” Hobknot could not restrain himself. “You stupid moron.”

“Oh, shut-up.”  Fae smiled at him.

“No, you shut-up.”  Hobknot wanted to smile back, but he could not for worry.

“You both shut-up,” Greta said.  “Now Hobknot.  Fae is three-quarters human.  She has lived the human life between her and Berry.  I have no authority over that.”  Hobknot looked downcast, but Fae reached out and squeezed Greta’s hand.

“The Don,” she said.  “Or if in her wisdom, Danna will not help me, please, may I see her again before I die?”

Greta checked.  Danna was willing, and she had something she would also do which helped Greta understand a mystery.  “All right.” She told Fae, and she and Danna traded places through the time stream.

Danna looked at Hobknot, Berry, Hans and Bragi in turn.  They were very quiet.  Fae, however, became filled with joy.  “Great Mother,” she said.  “How often I prayed to you and to your children, hoping against hope that I might someday see with my own eyes.  I knew you were gone away.  You left the world in the hands of your children, but I never understood what that meant, until now.  All the same, I think I loved you most of all.”

“I know,” Danna said, and she did know, exactly so.  “The lady speaks true,” she added.  She smiled for Fae’s love, but it became time to act.  “Berry.”  She called softly.  Berry came timidly, but Danna put her free arm around the little one and hugged her. “Would you be willing to give your fairy blood to your sister so that she may live?”

“Oh, yes, Great lady,” Berry said.  “Even if it means I will never be little and never fly again.”  Danna made sure that Berry understood what she was asking.  Berry looked up at Hans.  “Even if it means that Hans will not love me anymore.  Yes, I will,” she said, sadly.

“Good,” Danna said.

“Wait.”  Berry got little and flew all around the tent.  She flew a couple of back flips and then kissed Hans on the cheek.  At last she got big again and stood beside Fae. “All right,” she said.  “I’m ready.”

Danna put Berry’s hand in Fae’s hand and it was done. Berry showed no outward sign of change at all.  She simply became a full-blooded twelve, nearly thirteen-year-old girl.  Fae, however, changed dramatically.  She shrank, but unlike Berry who reflected the fairy side of the family, Fae reflected more of her grandfather, Bogus the Skin.  She became a perfect little dwarf, though technically a half and half.  Hobknot got so excited, he did handsprings and cartwheels all over the tent.  As a dwarf, Fae now became considerably younger than she had been as a human. Seventy or so was not so much in dwarf years.  She seemed to want to jump up and join Hobknot in his game, but she still felt sore in the side though she no longer showed any sign of her wound.

Berry, on the other hand, became shy and tried to hide behind Danna’s back, no longer having access to her hair.  Danna had to pull her out and she held her, until Hans reached for her.

“I don’t have to give her up, do I?”  Hans asked.  “We can still be engaged, can’t we?”  Obviously, Berry wanted that very much, and she giggled a little in delight when Hans took her again, to hold her.

“You still have to wait four years.”  Danna reminded them, even if Berry still felt like that was forever.

“Now Bragi.”  Danna said at last.  “Please don’t tell Mama or Papa about this.

“No problem, er, Great Lady,” he said.  “I’m not likely to tell anyone.  They will just think I am mad.”  He meant what he said, but he smiled and Danna could tell he started enjoying himself again.

“Right now, I am Danna,” she said.  “And I have lived any number of other lives as well.”

“She’s the nameless god, too.” Hans blabbed.

“I know,” Bragi answered.

“Stop winking.”  Danna scolded them.  “Most of the time I am just a plain, ordinary person, like this time.  This is Greta’s life, your sister of the same mother and father.  And I hope you take good care of her.”  She traded back with Greta, and Greta continued speaking.  “I mean it.  Please don’t say anything to anyone.  I would like to live a nice, quiet, ordinary life.”

“Not likely,” Bragi said, with a grin to beat all grins.

Thissle ran in and jumped into Bragi’s arms. Thorn walked in and saluted.  Then the musicians came in.  It was Fiddler, Whistler and several others.  The music started, and Fae did finally get up and dance. She could hardly keep her feet still. Bogus the Skin came in with Ragwart and Gorse and several woodwives.  Greta only felt glad that Thunderhead was not to be seen.  That would have been too much.

The atmosphere quickly became festive and someone even produced a table of wine and sweet meats.  Greta did not really mind.  For the moment the war and the world were shut out.  Then she felt two arms slip around her from behind.  She turned.  It was Darius.  He did not seem to mind holding her close and she knew she did not mind it at all.

“Is this a private celebration, or can anyone join in?”  He asked.

“Not just anyone.”  She answered, and they kissed until Greta felt she could not kiss him anymore.

“I almost forgot,” Darius said at last.  “I have something that belongs to you.”  He reached under his tunic and untied something. He handed it to Greta.  It was her scarf.  Greta became wide eyed and found out she could kiss him a lot more.

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MONDAY

What a lovely place to end a story… but the work of the Kairos never seems to end.  Some things need to be remembered, but some things are best forgotten.  Greta will need some extraordinary help to keep the guns out of Rome, and to save as many lives as possible.  Monday, The End of the Day.  Happy Reading.

*

R5 Greta: The Way Things Are, part 1 of 3

Alesander explained things as they walked.  “Lord Darius said he saw you in a dream and was warned.  I don’t know about that, but when that man betrayed us and took fifty of your people with him, we were prepared.  We sent men secretly behind the ambush on the road.  We surprised them and thus came into Ravenshold.  After that, we got into a terrible, bloody battle in the city, but finally we broke through the siege on the fort.  Then, to our surprise, the enemy retired to the Temple Mount and left the city in our hands.

“Why would they do that?” Greta wondered.

“To avoid an even bloodier fight in the streets.  Apparently, their weapons are in the temple and they knew they would be safe there last night.  I see now, it was all that they needed.  Their Quadi allies began to arrive in the morning and already their tents stretch to the horizon.  They are camped outside the city on the far side of the Mount.”

“What of the legion?” Greta asked.

“Still three days out,” Alesander responded.

“Our numbers?” She asked to clarify her picture.

“We had three hundred Legionnaires and about an equal number of your people and auxiliaries when we left Boarshag.  Now, with the fort garrison and the city we have about six hundred Legionnaires, a thousand auxiliaries and maybe fifteen hundred Dacians.  I believe there are some who might have joined the rebellion but have come to our side to fight the Quadi.”

“Yes, I see,” Greta said.  “In many ways that was a wrong move on the part of the rebels.  Tell me about the weapons.”

“Well, as I said, they seem to be located in the Temple, but they are not the force I expected. There don’t seem to be very many of them, and they don’t use them much except to protect the Temple Mount.  So far, they have not really impacted the battle.”

“They are old.” Greta thought out loud.  “They were not well weather protected.  Most of the powder is bad and many of the guns are rusted.  They are probably a real disappointment to the rebels.”

“Maybe so,” Alesander said.  “But with the Quadi, they have ten to one numbers now, and even when the legion arrives, they will still have us better than two to one.”

“I figure you would think that was fair odds for you Romans.”  Greta smiled.

Alesander relaxed a little and that felt good.  She had to hit him with the important question.  “Lord Marcus send any captured weapons to Rome yet?”

“Yes.” Alesander got frank.  “Just this morning he sent two by courier, why?”

Greta stopped in the gate and almost closed her eyes before she realized Hobknot stood right beside her.

“Don’t worry.” Hobknot spoke in his invisible voice which only she could hear.  Bogus got them both, but he said it was more like twenty and a whole troop of guards.”

Greta heard Bogus in her own mind.  “And how come Hobknot’s getting paid?”

“Because he hasn’t jerked me around yet.”  Greta thought back, and Hobknot, who caught the thought, suddenly excused himself to attend to his duties.

“Are you all right?” Alesander asked.

Greta had a hand to her head and a sudden whopper headache.  “Yes, fine,” she said.  “Tell me about Darius.”  It really felt like the first thing she wanted to ask, but she thought she could slip it into the normal conversation so it would not appear too important.

Alesander did not get fooled.  “He has been beside himself all morning with worry.”  He said, and Greta felt her heart thump.  “He has been pacing around and driving everyone crazy, and as soon as the sun hit midday he wanted to take a troop into the forest to find you, but Marcus would not let him.”  Greta felt thrilled by what she heard, but she tried not to let on, even to herself. “All the same,” Alesander winked at her. “I am sure that would be how I would feel if my betrothed got lost in the Demon Woods, but if you tell him I told you all this, I will deny I said anything.”

“You stinker,” she said to him.  “You’re almost as bad as Marcus.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.  Now let’s see to those allies of yours.”

It did not take long to get everyone housed and settled into the tent camp at the outpost. Alesander said they should all stay in the city, behind the walls, but Fae and her people thought it best to stay as near the woods as possible, and Greta chose to stay with them.  She said that they were her particular responsibility, but in truth, the outpost was the forward position nearest the Temple Mount. That was where she had to be, though figuring out how she would get up the Mount, locate the guns and destroy them remained a problem.

Alesander gave up his command tent for the women.  He claimed he did not have much commanding to do at the outpost, anyway. The auxiliary tent next door was given to the three Celts.  They were appreciative, and Vilam most of all.  He had been on the hard end of several bargains with the Romans and he did not imagine they had a generous side.

Greta explained everything, more or less, to Alesander, only leaving out Hobknot, Danna and the little ones in general.  She told him all about Chobar including the assumption that he gave up the chase. She also assumed that the Celts would eventually send a body of men to the edge of the forest, but whether they would wait until the Romans, Dacians and Quadi devastated each other in order to take advantage of the aftermath, or whether they would come as allies, she could not say.

Then, Darius rode up, outpacing Marcus, Hersecles and a dozen others.  Greta stood in the doorway of the tent feeling the need for a bath.  She wanted to wash her hair, and maybe spruce herself up a bit.

“You look just fine,” Fae said from her bed in the corner.  She spoke as if she read Greta’s mind.

Darius jumped down and ran over.  He hugged her, hard, and held her as if not wanting to let her go.  Their lips touched, but then Greta found herself pulling back.

“I’m okay,” she said, and she turned away a little so he would not kiss her again.  “No need to make a fuss.  It’s not like we are already married.”

Darius took a half step back.  “I know,” he said, a bit too loud.  “I’m just glad you’re safe, that’s all.  Can’t I be glad you’re safe?”

“Of course.” Greta found her own voice rising. “And I’m glad you haven’t gotten yourself killed.  It wouldn’t be much of a wedding without you.”

“Or without you,” he said.

“So, fine,” she said.

“Fine.”

Greta felt in danger of turning color from frustration, anger, embarrassment, or who knew what.  She stomped her foot, spun around and walked back into the tent.

R5 Greta: To Ravenshold, part 1 of 3

Oh, bother! Greta sat up.  The sun would be up soon enough and the bed she had was not the best.  She found her way to the kitchen and found Mayann already up and cooking.  The woman handed her a bowl of some kind of mush in milk. Yesterday’s bread, she thought, but it went down well.

“Thank you,” Greta said.  “I would help, but my Mama says all I do in the kitchen is make a mess.”  Greta wondered what Darius would think of that.

“Quite all right,” Mayann said.  She seemed perfectly at home in the kitchen.

“I thought maybe you went home.”  Greta had not realized Mayann stayed in the village.

“I stay with Vilam when I can,” Mayann said.  “He is a good man and a good father.”  Greta noticed she did not call him a good husband.

“Are you happy?” Greta asked.

Mayann stopped cooking.  “I suppose.  Well enough. I don’t ask for much so I don’t get disappointed.  Vilam cares for me and he has never beaten me.  I suppose that is more than some women can claim.”  She tried to smile.  She handed Greta a second bowl of mush.  “Here.  You need to get some nourishment into that brother of yours.  He has slept long enough.  That girl made sure of that.”

“What do you mean?” Greta asked, and tried to sound casual about it all.

“Well.” Mayann was not fooled, but spoke freely anyway.  “Vilam got him here and to bed all right, and got on to the meeting.  That girl, though, curled right up on top of the boy and said she would be his blanket.  I said she was being shameless, but she threatened me if I dared wake him, even by accident, she was going to feed me to the ogres.”  Mayann shook her head and smiled.  “Ogres.”  She laughed. It did not seem to Greta that Mayann believed in ogres and she felt it wise that it was not the time to correct her. Instead, Greta took the mush into Hans’ room

Hans lay in bed, alone, with no sign of Berry.  “Time to eat.”  Greta said, as Hans roused a bit.  She began to spoon feed him.

“Greta,” Hans said, as he started to wake up.  “I had the strangest dream last night.”

“Oh?” Greta wondered.

“Yes.  I dreamt we went into the forest and pushed Grandma into the oven.  Then I saw these lovely bright lights and I followed them to a place where I heard the strangest music.  I danced all night with beautiful women.  I suppose I’m not making any sense.”

“That’s the way dreams are,” Greta said.  “Go on.”

“Well, then you showed up, and we went over to a table where they had a feast.  And then Papa carried me to bed like when I was a child, except we didn’t go to bed.  The next thing I knew; we sailed to the land of talking animals.  I remember an eagle and a bear, and we headed to the village of the bears.  Grandma was there, too.  I guess she got out of the oven.  And she had the most awesome young girl with her who was the most gorgeous creature I have ever seen.”  He stopped. He looked a little like he was not sure if he wanted to tell the rest.

“Go on,” Greta said, feigning no interest in anything but the mush and the spoon.

“Okay, but just remember, it was only a dream because it is kind of embarrassing.”

“I’ll remember,” Greta said, and fed him a spoonful.

“Okay,” Hans said. “I was still trying to go to sleep and this bear and this dream girl took me away from you and brought me to bed, and I was so happy because I was so very tired.  But then, before I could lie down, the girl hugged me and snuggled right up to me and kissed me.  You’re not going to believe this.  She kissed me right on the lips, and, I don’t know, but it did not seem like a friendly “How do you do” sort of a kiss.

“Oh?  What was it like.”  Greta could not resist teasing a little at that point.  Hans began to change color.  “That good, huh?”

Hans slid down a bit under his covers.  “Gods, it was wonderful.”  He said to his sister what he would have never admitted to any other human being in the world.

Right on cue, and the little ones do that sort of thing naturally, Berry came breezing in. “Good morning,” she said.  “My Hans.  It is going to be a beautiful day.  You must come and see it with me.”  She bent over and kissed Hans on the cheek.  “Do you see the flower I found?  Doesn’t it look lovely in my hair?”

“Go on.” Greta brushed Berry back out the door.

“Who was that? That was her.”  Hans sat up and looked around as if for the first time. “Where are we?”

“We are in the village of the Bear Clan,” Greta answered.  “And they are people, not bears.  You were missing for three days, but now I found you and you are safe.” She hugged him.  “And that was your dream girl, Berry.  And if you are very good, and for once in your life do what I ask, maybe she will stay with us for a while.”

Hans became utterly transparent for a minute, stared at nothing in particular, and put his hand softly to his lips.  Greta laughed even as Vilam burst into the room.

“We have to go,” he said.  “Can you move?”  He asked Hans, but Hans had no idea what the Celt was saying.

“I think so.” Greta responded for him.

“I hope so. Hurry up.”  Vilam picked up a couple of things and left.

Greta wondered what was up.  She felt afraid to imagine, but fortunately, she had to help Hans to his feet first. He seemed shaky, but he could walk with help and she knew he would get stronger as he walked off his stiffness. They stepped out of the room and out of the house without pause, and Berry pushed Greta out of the way.  “Let me help,” she insisted.  She put her arm around Han’s waist and pulled his arm over her shoulder.  “Ungh.” She said in a very fetching way. “You’re a heavy one.”

“I can’t help that,” Hans said.  “But you feel light as air.”  Greta saw his smile.

“I am,” Berry said, with all seriousness.  “You don’t know, but I am.”  She looked at Greta but Greta shook her head, no.  At least not yet, Greta thought, though she knew it was already too late.  In time, staying big, Berry would begin to behave more like a real thirteen-year-old girl, but as a little flyer, her mind and heart were set on Hans forever and ever. There was not room in the fairy world for the kind of complicated relationships and multiple choices and possibilities that humans got into.  Greta envied her.  Berry belonged utterly to Hans and since Hans had eaten fairy food, Greta imagined he belonged to her as well.  She sighed. Why couldn’t her life be so easy?

R5 Festuscato: The Hun in the House, part 2 of 3

The Huns arrived about mid-morning the next day, and were wary, but having seen no sign of the enemy other than a couple of scouts that they readily killed, they imagined their ruse worked.  They headed north before they turned west again.  They wanted to give the impression they were headed for Wales, but they cut again to the south when they were well hidden by the trees.  They knew right where the ford was as Festuscato surmised.  They either explored out the river or coerced the locals into revealing the location. In either case, there were men waiting, and Julius moving up from behind.

When the Huns arrived, Hywel perhaps jumped a bit soon.  A thousand arrows blackened the sky, and Huns fell before they backed out of range.  The Hun commander sent men twice to charge the open area that lead to the ford, but the trees around were thick, and they did not get very far.  On the second charge, he sent a hundred men west to try and get on the Celtic flank, but they were cut down quickly.  Pinewood and Deerrunner figured the Huns would try a run around the end, and were prepared, hidden by glamours in the tall grass. Surely the Huns were frustrated, but that condition did not last long.  Julius and his men attacked from behind, and the Huns scattered.  They only had one way left to escape, and that was east, back to where Megla studied the ford.

 

 

Megla came to the ford of the ox and the scouts out front found the way blocked.  Megla knew the big and boisterous army of the Celts would still be two days out at their current rate of travel.  He needed to know how many men he faced.  He thought to stay upriver, and follow the water to Londinium without crossing over.  There were swampy areas and other rivers to cross, but none so deep as the Thames.  Unfortunately, that way appeared blocked by the Saxons.  In fact, there were more Saxons in that place than he had seen for quite a number of years.  So he and his men eyed the defenses on the other side of the river and decided in the end the only way across would be a frontal assault.  He would trust his men to get him through, and he imagined once he got to Londinium he might be safe.  There, he could call up the Hun army.  Britain was going to take more effort than he thought, but ten thousand men ought to do it, or twenty thousand if necessary.

Pinewood brought the bad news to Festuscato when he relaxed with Constantine and Ban over a cup of Ale.  Pinewood came in dressed like a hunter, with a green cloak and tall, mud colored leather-looking boots.  He showed the dragon tunic beneath the cloak, so Ban thought nothing of it. Constantine looked twice, but only because the man was not Amorican and he did not recognize him as one of the Romans.

“Megla is preparing to assault Constans at Oxford, probably in the morning.  He is a brave young man, but his thousand will not be able to repel the Huns or prevent their crossing, even with my support.  I recommend you order him to withdraw to the monastery grounds to defend the monks and let Megla pass.  There are enough soldiers left in Londugnum, so with the sailors and ornery humans they should be able to prevent Megla from entering the city.

“We need to get to the horses.”  Festuscato put down his cup.  “Pinewood, tell him to do that very thing.”  He looked at Constantine who nodded.

“Tell him his father orders it.”

“Horses?” Ban asked as Pinewood bowed and stepped from the tent.

“He is a teenager, or near enough,” Festuscato said.

“Since when does a young man do what his father tells him?” Constantine asked, and after a thought, Ban nodded

It became a race through the late afternoon and the night, with the foot soldiers left in the hands of Baldwin of Exeter, Anwyn the Welshman, and Kenan, a British Lord from the Midlands near Caerleon.  They were to come along as fast as they could while the horsemen rode ahead. Constantine had gathered an additional two hundred men on horseback in his travels along the British lowlands between the Thames and the coast, but half of them were on plow horses and mules, so not much good.  They were mostly farmers, with the British Lords in that area, and their families, killed by Megla.  For the Roman influenced Celts, it was not so easy to decide which among the elders should take the leadership position.  Roman-British Celtic leaders were more or less elected, though sons often followed in their father’s footsteps.  The Saxons remained more tribal in nature.  It seemed much easier for the Saxons to choose a new chief, though he sometimes had to fight for the position.  Most of the Saxons who had settled on the southern coastland survived Megla’s cruelty in much better condition.  But then, they were not going to come out and fight for the British lords.

Festuscato knew they were not going to arrive at dawn.  The road alone became enough to make it slow going in certain places. But they would not be too late. He did not worry until Pinewood returned in the dark with another message.  It got his full attention because fairies did not go around much after sundown.

“A thousand Jutes under Hellgard are crossing the river in the dark near the swamps where the river turns, below Megla’s position.  They will be able to come up behind Constans and squeeze him between the Hun and the German.”

Fetuscato called up Constantine and explained.  Constantine looked about to shout, but Festuscato spoke first.  “We don’t know that Hellgard may be friendly at this point.  Megla did not spare the Jutes, Angles and Saxons from his sword.  Like the British who joined us, the German’s may be looking for a little revenge.  Pinewood, set up a delegation to get Hellgard’s attention and ask his intentions. Be prepared to fly and bring Costans back to the monastery grounds, but if he plans to support the British at Oxford, tell Costans and help coordinate the defense.”

“You ask a lot of my people,” Pinewood said.

“No.  I ask too much.  I am sorry.  I have no business asking you to get involved in a transient human event.  But you have the option to say no, honestly, and with no ill effect.”

Pinewood nodded slowly.  “I know this is true, and that is why we will help as much as we can.”

“Fair enough, and thank you.”

Pinewood left, and Constantine had a comment.  “You seem to have a remarkable relationship with the creatures, er, people of legend. How is this so?”

“I was made their god almost five thousand years ago, but that is a very long story,” Festuscato said, and spurred his horse up to the point.

The whole troop walked their horses when the sun began to lighten the horizon. Festuscato, Constantine and King Ban mounted without a word.  Now they had to ride, and the men joined them.  They rode flat out, not caring in that moment if their horses collapsed at the end of the trip.  They had three hundred men to add to the defense, or at least two hundred with the nags and mules trailing behind.

The sun looked fully up when they arrived, and most of the fighting was over.  There were over a thousand Huns taken prisoner, disarmed and on foot.  Hellgard looked covered in blood, but none of it seemed to be his own.  Constans and Vortigen were all but dancing.  Vortigen lost his helmet and Constans had a shallow cut in his arm, but they did not even look tired.

“Youth,” Constantine said as he got down, and Ban nodded in agreement.

Festuscato looked across the ford and saw Aidan the Lord from the British highlands, and Eudof from north Wales, his lieutenant.  They waved.  They hustled down the thousand and some odd foot soldiers, following right behind Megla the whole way, and they fought to prevent Megla from escaping back to the north. He also saw Deerrunner, whose people got there ahead of Julius, and he knew they filled the gap at a crucial point and made Megla’s doom certain.  He returned the wave, but wondered where the Druid Cadwalder was.

Festuscato stepped up to Hellgard when Pinewood arrived dressed as the hunter. Festuscato’s Four Horsemen accompanied him and Constantine.  Festuscato put out his hand and shook Hellgard’s hand before he spoke.

“Lord Agitus,” Hellgard said.  “I have heard about you.”

“Thank you,” Festuscato said, but then he paused to hear what Constans started saying.

“Lord Pinewood told me Hellgard, King of the Jutes was coming to reinforce our position, so we stayed where we were and passed that information down the line.  In the morning, Megla found twice the numbers he expected, and it became a real battle to hold the ford.  The Huns are smart.  They sent some men to test our line first.  When we surprised them, they ran and Megla tried to return to the north. His way got blocked by the British Highlanders, and I think he charged us out of anger and frustration.  Some broke through, and it looked like they might overwhelm our position.  Many of the Huns got down from their horses and they used our own walls against us, but just then, boatloads of Saxons showed up in the river and came ashore behind the Huns.  That was when the Huns began to surrender.”

“How many escaped?” Festuscato asked and pointed down the road toward Londinium.

“I don’t know,” Constans said, like a man who did not realize that might be important.

“I don’t know,” Vortigen echoed.

“My eyes were on the battle,” Hellgard admitted.

“About five hundred,” a big Saxon with an eyepatch said and he came up to join the group. “Gregor,” he gave his name with a big smile, but that was all he said before he got interrupted by one of Deerrunner’s elves who came racing across the water and up to Festuscato.

“Lord, the Huns are coming, Lord Julius driving them on.”

Festuscato looked to Constantine, and the man started to yell.  “Constans, get those prisoners on the road, away from the ford, face down and guarded.  Get the rest of your men behind the barriers.  Ban, take the monastery side.  Hellgard, the riverside.”

“You heard him,” King Ban yelled at his men and waved them toward the monks.

Hellgard paused only to look at Festuscato smile before he began to yell at his men to take cover.  Constantine looked at the Saxon, but Gregor spoke first.

“We hide real good,” he said, and he grinned an elf-worthy grin before he also began to yell.

Avalon 3.1: part 6 of 7, Close Enough to Hell

It did not take long to catch up with the procession where a dozen dwarfs were solemnly carrying the body of Carthair down the mountainside to his final resting place. Not much after the travelers caught up with those somber faces, the whole procession began to follow a stream. By late afternoon, they saw they were headed down into an upland valley where the stream became the beginning of a small river. It wound out of sight around much higher elevations, but the travelers understood it would eventually meet up with other streams and little rivers and become a big river that would flow all the way to a distant sea. Which sea was the only question, whether it would skirt the Alps and fall into the Adriatic, or join the Danube and meander to the Black Sea or head north until it emptied into the North Sea. They debated it, for something to do.

celltic town otherOnce they came further down the hill, they saw huts and tent-like structures here and there which showed every indication of human habitation. They were inspired to ride ahead in their excitement and desire for human contact, but Lockhart held them back. He said first they had to follow to where the dwarfs took the body.

“I am pretty sure that is where we will find the Kairos,” Alexis added.

The travelers dismounted at the edge of the village and walked their horses respectfully behind the dwarfs. They headed toward a big open building with fires burning bright and the sound of hammers against metal. It was a real blacksmith shop, and Hart, the one Kobald that stayed with them as they came down the mountain, made a single remark to Lockhart.

“Puckmein the dwarf drank too much and let slip the way of making bronze. Now these short livers are getting rich.”

“The knowledge is slowly making its way north,” Deepdigger, the chief dwarf spoke for only the third time that afternoon. “Lord Lucas and his father were going to take the knowledge of the bronze back over the alps to his Etruscas people, but there was trouble on the way. The way I heard it, the Lord escorted his father down into the land of Hades and barely escaped back here with his life.”

“Trouble?” Katie asked. “Land of Hades?”

“Murder,” Hart explained. “This one here.” He pointed to Carthair’s body.

“Carthair was murdered?” Lockhart asked.

“No.” Hart said, but before he could say more, they arrived.

There was something of a railing, perhaps like a fence to keep out the curious, but the travelers were able to tie their horses off before going inside. The dwarfs stopped outside with their package and only chief Deepdigger went in at first. Hart followed the travelers.

Two big men, giants in their day, though they were not necessarily bigger than Lockhart or Decker, came up to eye the intruders. The one with long brown hair tied back in a ponytail carried a big hammer. The scraggly blond had a cloth to wipe his hands, though it was hard to tell how that dirty cloth could hold any more dirt. Both men had faces streaked with charcoal, eyes that squinted, and frowns that looked etched in from years of bending over the hot fires.cetic town bar

“Lucas?” Lincoln tried the brown-haired man. The man said nothing, so he tried to blond. “Lucas?”

Lockhart tried a different approach. He stuck out his hand. “Lockhart,” he said, and introduced Katie, who smiled.

“Liam,” the one with the brown hair named himself and took Katie’s wrist. “Pleased to meet you.”

“Gunther,” the blond introduced himself to Lockhart, and shouted. “Lucas!”

A young man, not more than eighteen, came from around the back of the forge. He looked strong, well muscled and without any fat, but he also looked small compared to the blacksmiths. Deepdigger followed on the young man’s heels and stopped when the young man stopped to speak to Liam and Gunther.

“This is your place, and I am grateful for all you have done for me. All I can do is suggest you might want to go and see how Bogart’s new ale is coming along. Things around here are about to get very strange.”

“Oneesis?” Gunther asked.

“Lucas fancies himself in love with the Lady of the Mountain,” Liam confided.

Lucas shook his head. “Go ahead Deepdigger. Bring him in.” Then he spoke to the big men. “Probably Hellas, and maybe the same from the West, in case Liam has no other plans.”

Liam nudged his big friend, but Gunther first wanted to wag a finger at Lucas. “You just make sure you keep the fire hot.”

Lucas nodded, and when the dwarfs set down the body, Liam recognized the man. “Carthair.”

Lucas worried first about his job. “Dwarfs. You heard the man. Maintain the fire.”

“Just maintain it,” Gunther yelled and then he confided to the strangers. “Last time they got it so hot they just about burned the place down.”

“Turned a perfectly good plow blade into a puddle,” Liam added.

The dwarfs were delighted with the assignment and began to sing.

“We love to sing and dance and play, and work our work all through the day, And when we work the work we start, it makes us want to –“

“Knock it off!” Lucas yelled. He mumbled to the others. “This isn’t a Disney movie.” Then he turned to Carthair’s body and spoke sternly. “Carthair, come out of there.”

“No,” came the answer. “This is my body and I am going to live again as soon as I thaw out.”

inside BlacksmithThe travelers were not sure exactly what Gunther and Liam heard, but Gunther left quickly, and Liam suggested the strangers were welcome to join them.

“No thanks,” Decker answered. “I’ve already had a long talk with the fellow.”

“Carthair, there is no hiding now.”

“I’m not hiding.”

“Mother,” Lucas called out

“Where is my feast.” A woman appeared who was half woman and half rotting corpse. The travelers tried not to squirm, but it was a horrific sight as a worm crawled out of the woman’s empty eye socket and reentered the skull where the dead lips were peeled back from the teeth.

“Mother.”

“Helper,” the woman called and a ghost-like creature appeared beside her. “Collect my soul.” The creature said nothing. It merely went to the body and began to suck out the ghost.

“Mother. Oh, forget it.” Lucas said, and he was no longer standing there as Lucas. Danna, the mother goddess of the West, came from the past to stand in his place. She let out a great white light and the creature over Carthair squealed in pain and backed off.

“You have no place here,” the half-dead woman said.

“But I do,” Another woman appeared. “And maybe she does.”

‘Vrya, oh thank goodness,” Danna looked relieved.

“My son, even when you are my daughter,” Vrya said. “You know a murderer has no place in my house.”

“I know,” Danna agreed. “But maybe Odin needs to decide this. Maybe the Celts need to head west even if they are still in the Rhineland for the present.”

Vrya patted Danna’s hand like she agreed in principle. She got out the “O” and the god appeared, one eye covered and all. He made an imposing presence. And the travelers did their best to keep their eyes closed even if it didn’t prevent them from feeling the awe and trembling.

“I get the half-breeds,” Odin said without preliminaries.

“Unless they are married to a Celt or raised in the Celtic tradition to know the gods of the Celts,” Danna countered.

“Agreed,” Odin said and turned to the half-rotted woman. “Go back to your hell hole.” Both he and the woman with her creature vanished, but she managed to send back a word.

“And I would have honored him, considering who he murdered.”

************

Be sure and visit tomorrow for the conclusion of Avalon, episode 3.1, Carthair Revealed.