R6 Greta: Going, Regardless, part 2 of 3

Dacia seemed a melting pot of people.  Her own heritage, a mixture of Thracian Gatae and Germanic Venedi.  Some Dacians had roots in the Sarmatian people and the Scythians that ruled the steppes.  Others came from Panonia, Moesia, or still thought of Greece or Macedonia as the homeland of their ancestors.  Then there were thousands of Romans that were encouraged to move into the province.  More came every year: retired legionnaires, merchants of all sorts, and rich men in the mountains where imported Dalmatian miners dug out the precious gold and silver, and the iron that made Rome’s strong right arm.  In these seven years, especially after the last rebellion, the empire settled thousands of auxiliaries along the border and to protect the roads where they built forts and fortified towns and villages.  These auxiliaries came in from all over the empire, from as far away as Syria, North Africa, Gaul and Britannia.  And these all spoke Latin where they could not otherwise communicate with one another.  That tongue, a kind of lingua-franca of the province, began to affect all the other tongues and would one day lay at the foundation of the language they would call Romanian.  Greta knew something of the far future.  Too bad she could only guess what tomorrow might bring.

“Lady.”  Mavis insisted until Greta accepted the cloak, graciously.  She could still see the wagons slowly dragging down the road, but at that distance she could no longer make out where the Roman cavalry ended and the auxiliaries took over, much less see Darius or her father.

Greta pulled her wind-driven light blond locks out of her mouth and eyes and turned to follow the line of the ancient forest that ran as far north as her eyes could see.  The Celts lived in the forest, and on the far western side of the mountains, in the hills that ran down from the Transylvanian plateau. Most of the Celtic land lay technically beyond the boundary, so officially outside of Roman control. Likewise, there were many Dacians, her own people, who lived outside the official Roman border.  Most of the Dacians, like her people, were part Germanic, part Thracian-Greek, part Scythian and Sarmatian.  Then there were dangerous Germanic tribes pressing on the border of the empire, like the Quadi, the Macromanni, the Bastarne and further afield there were Vandals and Goths.  There were also Scythian descendants outside the province of Dacia, great tribes like the Lazyges, Roxolani, Costoboci and Carpi.  And they all hated each other, fought and struggled for land, and distrusted and did unspeakable things to strangers.  Greta decided she had to be mad contemplating the journey she had in mind.

Greta stretched out her senses.  She knew the Romans were building a wall of men against all of the outside pressures that threatened to overrun the peace.  Sadly, the Romans, and the XIII Gemina Legion safely behind their walls at Apulum, were not paying nearly enough attention to the struggles within the province.  The melting pot of Dacia was going to boil over and the only question was when.

“Tomorrow and the next hundred years are always a mystery,” Greta said, mostly to herself.

“As you say, Lady,” Mavis dutifully answered, as they stepped off the battlements and made their way back to the Governor’s residence.

Greta hoped the outsider Dacians she would run into would be people she could relate to, people who might be able to guide her in the way she needed to go.  Hans and Berry, Fae and Hobknot were not only gone for two years, it felt like they were taken right out of the world altogether.  She could not touch them with her mind’s eye, not even Hobknot, a pure blood hobgoblin.  It felt unnatural.  All she knew was they were not dead.  They were hidden, invisible, like they were prisoners of a great power, or maybe protected by a great power, but in any case, she would have to go and fetch them.

“Mother!” Greta called as she came into the house. Mavis took her cloak and Greta walked to the great hall where they took their meals and held all those boring state dinners.  “Mother?” Greta’s mother sat there, feeding mush to two-year-old Marta.  Four-year-old Gaius sat on the floor, playing with blocks and the children’s nurse, Selamine watched.  Greta paused to give her son a kiss while mother spoke.

“Did the men get off?  I worry about your father making such a long trip.  Six months away is a long time, even if it is important, as he said.”  Greta interrupted her mother by kissing her on the cheek before Mother finished her thought.  “He is not so young now, you know, and the leg where he was wounded throbs sometimes, and he does not walk well.”

“Mama,” Marta threw her hands up for some of those kisses and knocked the spoon.  The mush dribbled to the floor.

Greta kissed her baby with her whole heart, but made her stay in the chair to finish her mush.  At the same time, her mouth spoke of other things.  “Now that the men have gone, I must go as well.  I am overdue in my own responsibilities.  I have my own journey to make.”

“How so?”  Mother asked. “Your place is here, with your children.”

“I am the woman of the ways for all of Dacia. Marcus Aurelius himself proclaimed me the wise woman for the Romans, and I have been named a druid among the Gaelic people of the forest.  I have neglected my duties for far too long.”

“Nonsense,” Mother said, and shared a look with Selamine. “Mother Hulda never left her home by the woods.  For the last fifteen years, pilgrims came to her doorstep.  People came to her to learn how to be midwives and healers. Chiefs came to her for counsel. Ordinary people made the pilgrimage to her home to receive the words of her wisdom.  You know this well from the many years you spent with her, and now the people seek you here.  This is your place, at home with your children.”

Greta shook her head.  “No mother.  The Emperor himself charged me with responsibility for Drakka and all of the lives that I begged him to spare after the last rebellion.  I have neglected this responsibility.  I must check on Drakka and Liselle.  I must go see Bragi, Karina and their children.”  Bragi was Greta’s older brother, and Mother changed her thoughts as fast as a fairy.

“You are going to see Bragi and the grandchildren? Can I go with you?”

“Not this time,” Greta smiled, and offered her mother another kiss on the cheek.  “But Bragi and Karina are not branded.  Perhaps I can bring them and the children to come and visit you here.”

“Johannes.”  Mother called for the house butler before she turned again to her daughter.  “Does Darius know you are leaving Ravenshold? Does your father know?”

“I will be meeting them in Porolissum when they arrive in the north in a few months,” Greta said what she hoped would be true.

“Lady?”  Johannes arrived and bowed to the wife of the high chief and to Greta, the mistress of the house.

Mother put the bowl and spoon on the table as she spoke.  “Marta needs cleaning, and so does the floor.  Selamine, please take the children out to the green where they can play with their friends.”

“Very good,” Johannes and Selamine spoke more or less together while Mother framed her thoughts.

Gaius shouted, “Yea!” and knocked over the blocks. Greta took the cloth and dipped it in the bowl of water to wipe Marta’s mouth.  Marta knew the routine and held out her hands, fingers spread

“But Greta,” Mother had one more word.  “Porolissum is on the border and it is dangerous and full of dangerous men.  There was a reason the rebels were given a choice, to lose their heads or be branded and guard the border, because the border is dangerous.”

“Exactly why I must go see Procurator Spato and Captain Ardacles to arrange an escort.”  Greta kissed her children once more and stepped out of the great hall before Mother could think of any more objections.

Preview: R6 Greta: To Grandfather’s House We Go

A simple introduction:

The Kairos and Rome book 6: The Power of Persuasion

R6) Greta: To Grandfather’s House We Go   20 weeks of posts

Greta’s ward, Berry, and her sister Fae, along with Greta’s brother and Fae’s husband go north, looking for Berry and Fae’s father to bless their marriages.  They get trapped in the land of the lost, and the shattered pieces of the old god Mithras stand against Greta when she sets herself for a rescue mission.  Soon enough, the Iranian (Mithraic) tribes in the wilderness come to knock on Dacia’s door, which doesn’t have enough strength to stand against them.  And the Roman ranks are full of Mithraites.

Do enjoy… But it occurs to me that some might not understand who the main character (Greta) is, and how this person might appear, at any moment, to be another, completely different person.  Allow me to introduce you to…

The Kairos

A Greek word meaning opportunity, the right time, a propitious moment, event time, or as the Kairos defines it, history.  It is the name the old titan Cronos gave to the polyploidy being he struggled to bring to life as a complete male and a complete female.  Knowing his time would soon be over, he imagined this complex “one being in two persons” would be his replacement.  When Cronos died at the hands of his children, the mere counting of days ended, and with the birth of the Kairos, history—event time began.

The Kairos might be called the god of history, though the Kairos prefers the term watcher over history, because unlike the gods of old, he or she is not immortal.  Instead, the Kairos normally lives as an ordinary mortal, male or female, sort of taking turns, and as such is subject to all the frailties of the species, while at the same time, being captured by the very events where he or she must inevitably act.

Not allowed to fully die, the being or spirit of the Kairos is taken at death and reborn somewhere else on the planet, where some important historical juncture looms on the horizon.  On bad days, the Kairos complains about being no more than a cosmic experiment in time and genetics.  On good days, the Kairos averts a disaster.

Taken out of the hands of the most ancient gods, and placed in the hands of persons unknown; it is her or his job to see that history turns out the way it has been written.  With access to future lifetimes, as well as past lives, the Kairos knows the way things are supposed to go.  But getting it to turn out right is not ever easy.  Fortunately, the Kairos is able to borrow lives from the past or future that often have the skills and knowledge to meet whatever might arise.  No guarantees, of course.


Enjoy the 20 weeks of story.  Posting on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of each week, a complete chapter, divided into 3 digestible daily bites.  Beginning next Monday, June 24, 2019.  Until then, Happy Reading.


Preview of Coming Attractions: April 10, 2019

The story of Gerraint, son of Erbin, in the days of King Arthur, will continue in the next book:

Kairos Medieval Book 3: Light in the Dark Ages

M3) Gerraint: The Holy Graal   13 weeks of posts

Gerraint feels his days of struggle should be behind him.  All he wants is to retire to Cornwall with Enid, his love.  But when ghostly hands carry a cauldron across the round table, he knows he has to act.  Arthur deftly turns all talk to the Holy Graal, but Gerraint knows he has to stop the older men from recovering the ancient treasures of the Celts and dredging up the past.  Christendom is only a thin veneer, and if Abraxas is allowed to strip that away, history might be irrevocably changed.

Gerraint’s story will begin again one year from now right after the posting of Avalon, Season Six, which will post over 22 weeks and  serve as an interlude between the end of the Kairos and Rome series and the beginning of the Kairos Medieval series.  Of course, the Avalon stories: the prequel, the pilot episode, and seasons 1, 2, and 3 are available as E-books, with the pilot episode free in most places.  Look under the author M G Kizzia.  Avalon, seasons 4, 5, and 6 will also go up as E-books as soon as I can work out some details… But I promised myself I would not turn this into a sales pitch…

First, we have two stories of the Kairos and Rome saga to complete:

Kairos and Rome Book 6: The Power of Persuasion

For those who enjoyed the Kairos and Rome book 5, Greta’s story (R5 Greta), which began on June 4, 2018, and which you can look up in the archives and read for yourself, you maybe realized the story is not finished.  Picking up the story several years later…

R6) Greta: To Grandfather’s House We Go   20 weeks of posts

Greta’s ward, Berry, and her sister Fae, along with Greta’s brother and Fae’s husband go north, looking for Berry and Fae’s father to bless their marriages.  They get trapped in the land of the lost, and the shattered pieces of the old god Mithras stand against Greta when she sets herself for a rescue mission.  Soon enough, the Iranian (Mithraic) tribes in the wilderness come to knock on Dacia’s door, which doesn’t have enough strength to stand against them.  And the Roman ranks are full of Mithraites.

Before that, as we did on April 2, 2018, roughly one year ago, we have the further adventures of Festuscato, Senator of Rome and all around cad, who is good at getting into trouble, but even better at wriggling out of the consequences.  That may be why the Emperor Valentinian and the Pope both tapped him to go to Britain and bring order out of the chaos that had taken over that former Roman province.  That may also be why the Bishop in London got him to take on a special assignment:

R6) Festuscato: The Dragon in Ireland   10 weeks of posts

Festuscato gets roped into providing safe passage for Patrick to get to Ireland.  Festuscato, knowing something of what to him is the history of these events, wants to see Patrick get started on a good foot.  That isn’t going to be easy when the so-called King of the Irish is against you, not to mention the reluctant druids, the Irish pirates, and the Saxon intruders.  The boy and his pet dragon don’t help, either.




R6 Festuscato:  Festuscato and the bishops relax in Caerdyf.  Before setting out, they are interrupted by a boatload of Irish pirates; an indication of things to look forward to…

Until then, 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.


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: Birthday Girl, part 1 of 3

It was one of those blustery spring days when the wind grabs everything it can lift and scurries it half way across the village before it can be caught.  Greta purposefully braided her hair on both sides, tied both braids off with her heaviest ties, and pulled them in front just to keep her hair from whipping into her face and eyes with every turn of the wind.  That particular spring day was also wet and heavy from recent spring rains, so she pulled her dress up at times and watched where she put her foot to avoid the puddles and piles of mud.  It all made for very slow progress.

Even that early in the morning, there were others in the village square and the signs and sounds of life were all around.  Several horses paraded across the road on their way to hillside pastures, and several Romans grunted and groaned in some kind of physical exercise at the far end of the square, beyond the fountain.  Greta, though sixteen, felt sure the horses were more interesting than a group of sweaty soldiers.  She got upset when the wind caught her scarf and carried it right into the midst of the Romans.  She felt more unhappy with what she heard when she walked carefully from the fountain to retrieve her property.

“Hey, hey.” A man spoke and pointed and the two wrestlers stopped grunting to stand and watch her progress.  Greta felt glad that at least they had modest cloth coverings and did not wrestle in the naked Greek style.

“Here comes one now, Lord Darius.  She is not the most beautiful I have seen, but more than just pleasant to look at. Nice Tits.  Good butt.  I bet she squeals in bed.”

“Marcus!”  It felt hard to tell if Lord Darius was offended or just pretending.

“What?” Marcus defended himself.  “Hardly one of these barbarians knows a smattering of Greek.  I am sure none of them knows any Latin at all.”

“That may be,” Lord Darius responded.  “But that is still no excuse to be crude.  This is a young woman worthy of respect.  Note the downcast eyes, demure in maidenly virtue.  A virgin, I’ll bet.  See the slim waist of a youth not yet fully mature, and yet the hips are well rounded, awaiting only a child to carry, and the breasts are full and firm, awaiting the child’s cry to suckle him with the milk of life.”

“Waaa!”  One of the men in the crowd spoke up and most of the rest snickered.

Marcus had a grin on his face when he rebutted his friend.  “I say her downcast eyes are because she knows her place in the presence of her master and she knows where her pleasure lies should she please him. Her ample breasts are waiting her lover’s caress, and her slim waist and hips are surely designed to be a handle for a man’s hands.  Note the lips beneath the small, sharp nose, how full and thick and red they are. They await only her lover’s kiss to remove the pout so seductively formed there.  And the twists in her braids that adorn her golden hair, they say, tell how many lovers she has taken to her bed.”

“I’ve heard it tells how old she is,” Darius retorted.  “Nothing more.”

“Women lie about such things,” Marcus responded, still smiling.  “You can’t trust the braids.  Besides, I like my version better.”

Greta arrived and stopped.  Her eyes still looked down because she had them focused on her scarf which sat under Marcus’ feet, and she wondered how hard she would have to kick the man to get him to move.  Lord Darius put his hand to her chin and gently lifted her head to look into her light brown eyes.  Darius’ eyes were Roman dark, but his hair looked nearly light enough to pass for one of the people.

“What can we do for you, maiden?” Darius asked, in his best Dacian.

“Both of you poets lack grace,” Greta responded in perfect Latin.  “Though what you say, Lord Darius, may be nearer to the truth. My eyes were downcast, however, to avoid stepping in something unseemly, and otherwise I am simply waiting for your crude friend to get his fat foot off my scarf.”

Darien let go and he and the others present laughed, loud.  Marcus turned sunburn red, looked down and jumped back rather awkwardly.  He and Greta both began to reach for the scarf, but Greta pulled up sharply, not wanting to knock heads with the man.  Marcus brushed off the scarf and handed it over, still red, though the laughter had subsided.

“Pardon, m’lady.” Marcus spoke most humbly.  “It appears as if I have been clumsy in more ways than one this morning.”

“Thank you.” Greta spoke out of courtesy, but then she could not help herself.  “You big oaf.”

The men snickered again, but Greta turned toward Lord Darius.  “My Lord.”  She curtsied a bit.  It felt appropriate.  Lord Darius was the centurion and commander of the little troop that regularly camped at Boarshag, her home.  Besides that, he was reported to be a good man, never harsh with the people, and he kept his soldiers in line.  Greta appreciated that.

“My lady.” Lord Darius gave a slight bow and grinned, deeply.  Greta turned, then and lifted her dress above the mud, revealing her ankles, though she knew it would get a reaction from the men.  She kind of wanted a reaction, and she was not disappointed when one man whistled. It got cut off quickly by an, “Ow!” Greta did not know if Marcus or Darius hit the man, nor did she care.  She did glimpse Marcus slap Darius on the shoulder and heard what he said, his volume probably due to his embarrassment.

“Live and learn, eh Darius?”

“Yes, my lord.” Darius answered, and suddenly Greta wondered who this Marcus—this Lord Marcus might be.  He was certainly no ordinary soldier.  One recently arrived from Rome?  He seemed too young to be a high dignitary.

Boarshag, called Tibiscum by the Romans, was a small but important village on the Tibuscus River.  It rested on the main road half way between the Danube and the capital of Dacia at Ravenshold, a place the Romans called Ulpia Traiana.  On the maps the capital got called Sarmizegetusa, but no one locally, including the Romans, called it that, because the true Sarmizegetusa, the old capital of Free Dacia, was thirty miles away and razed to the ground by Trajan and his legions.  So, it became Ulpia Traiana to the Romans, but mostly it was Ravenshold.

The main road from the Danube wandered three days through the valley and into the lowland hills where it passed through rich fields of grain and luxurious pasturelands. It wandered, a very non-Roman road, even if it had been paved after the Roman style.  After that, the road began to climb, sometimes going around but often going over the low hills, three more days to Boarshag.  The fields around Boarshag were not nearly as rich and their pastures were rock-strewn, yet Greta had a good life, and in most years they had more than enough to spare; a reality not missed by the Roman tax collectors.

Above Boarshag, the road continued due east for two miles where it came face to face with the primeval forest.  The old Dacian road then turned abruptly south, as if the forest presented an impenetrable wall, and there followed roughly a seven-day arc along the main branch of the Tibiscus River south to east and north, to Ravenshold.  No one went into the old growth forest, much less through it. They said if you could walk due east, it would cut the trip to Ravenshold down to three days.  Some said two, but no one went into the woods to test it out.

The most recent story told about a century of Romans in the days of the last rebellion, when Hadrian was emperor.  The century, now often called a whole legion, went into the woods to make a swift, surprise attack on the capitol from an unexpected quarter, to catch the rebels unprepared and make a quick end to the rebellion.  The Romans never came out the other side, and the story said the Romans continued to wander aimlessly among the trees.  There were, of course, other stories about witches, goblins, ghosts and all sorts of devils who inhabited the darkness under the canopy.  Some were said to drink blood or feed on human flesh, or on the soul, or change luckless people into stone or stumps or mad animals of the darkness such as wolves or bears.  Though Greta would be seventeen in two days and no longer a child to be frightened by such stories, she figured even an ordinary forest full or ordinary wolves, bears, and perhaps even a few big cats would be dangerous enough for ordinary folks.  No one went into the forest.

R5 Greta: Over the River and Through the Woods

Monday (Tuesday and Wednesday)

8 AM EST, for the next 23 weeks

From the book: R5) Rome Too Far

The Story of Greta, wise woman of the Dacians in the days of Roman rule.

Greta is a middle child stuck at home in Boarshag, with her younger brother, who wants to be called Hans rather than the childish name of Hansel.  Meanwhile, her older brother gets to be with her father and all the men in the capitol of Ravenshold.  The high chief of Dacia has died, and the men need to select a new high chief, with Roman approval, of course.  Sadly, Greta, as a woman, even as the wise woman in training, has no say in that matter.  The men will argue for weeks, as only men can do so well.

Since Greta inherited some of her grandmother’s sixth sense, she got selected at a young age, by old Mother Hulda, to train as the Woman of the Ways for all of Dacia.  There is so much to learn.  Greta, not one of the beautiful people, figures she will have a full life learning and working for her people.  But then her father comes home.  He has been elected to be the new high chief, and suddenly, Greta is betrothed, and to the enemy, a Roman officer.  And sadly, she has no say in that matter, either.

That much alone would make any young woman’s life complicated and difficult.  But the life of the Kairos is never so normal.

Decades ago, in the days of the Emperor Trajan, there were guns–yes, guns and ammunition that the Kairos destroyed but for one caravan that never made it across the Adriatic.  Now, the wind of Dacia smells of rebellion.  Greta’s Roman officer must ride to confront the rebels.  Greta, with terribly mixed feelings, must walk the short-cut to Ravenshold.  She must cross the haunted forest.  Of course the forest is haunted.  And she must find the guns and destroy them before the rebels find them and turn a rebellion into a slaughter.

Worse, the rebellion appears to be led by the Dacian war chief’s mother, a true wicked witch whose power dwarfs Greta and her small magic.  And thousands of Germanic Quadi sit on the border, just waiting for an excuse to overrun the province.

There are fairy tales within this fairy tale of an adventure.  Enjoy.  Welcome to the forest, and Happy Reading.