Reflections Flern-11 part 1 of 3

Flern woke up happy and wonderfully well rested. There was only one thing that caused ripples in the calm surface of her mind. “Am I home?” she asked.

“Yes.” Mother Vrya stood right there to assure her. “And I have something else for you.” She handed Flern a paper with the name Andronicus written on it. “The bronze maker.”

Flern gave Vrya a funny look. “But didn’t all the gods promise not to interfere with the Wicca?”

“I don’t make promises,” Vrya responded. “I learned that ages ago from someone very wise. Besides, a name is hardly interfering.”

Flern arrived in her good old dress, and she had a pocket where she put the paper, but first she had to hug the goddess and say, “Thank you.” And Vrya said something sweet to Flern’s ears.

“Just what Brmr would have said.”

It did not matter that Brmr had technically been Wlvn’s sister, not hers. She felt the joy of the statement and felt very happy for Brmr, for Wlvn, and for herself. “But my friends?”

They stood and Vrya informed her. “They left the village last night and are camped outside. It is early morning, but I believe they have eaten.”

“Oh?” Flern walked slowly to the cave entrance. Vrya disappeared at some point, but Flern did not notice. Her mind focused on Pinn, Vinnu and Thrud, and the boys, Vilder, Gunder and Tiren. She knew she had to remember Riah, but when she looked, she only looked for one person.

“Flern?” “Flern!” The girls stood when they saw her. The boys moved a little slower, but they also rose as Flern saw him. She ran, perhaps floated a bit, tackled Kined and landed on top of him.

“Yes,” she said. “Yes,” and she kissed his face. “Yes.”

Kined smiled well enough as he rolled her over and pushed up to look into her eyes. “But I haven’t—oh, I see. So will you marry me?”

“I already said yes.” Flern answered and thought of Andrea as she pulled his head down to kiss properly.

“I’m glad that’s settled,” Thrud said. At least Vinnu had the decency to sigh.

“You owe me,” Tiren said.

“Ha. Glad I didn’t bet this time,” Gunder grinned while Vilder rolled up his sleeve.

After a while, Kined stood. Flern’s face appeared full of curiosity, but Kined spoke honestly. “I have to.” He started getting too interested.

“Oh,” Flern felt it too and did not argue. “I suppose we need to keep moving while we can. Oh, I missed you all so much.” She hugged the girls each in turn and pulled out her paper and handed it to Pinn.

“What is this?”

“A gift from Mother Vrya.”

Pinn barely paused on Flern referring to the goddess as mother. She started adjusting. “But what is it?”

“Real paper. I don’t know how she managed that.” Flern rolled her eyes at Vinnu.

“No, I mean these marks on it.”

“That’s writing.”

Pinn stared at it for another moment while Vilder came up to look over her shoulder and the others gathered around. Finally, Pinn spoke again. “But what does it write?”

Flern realized the problem and took the paper back. “It says Andronicus. Mother Vrya says that is the name of the bronze maker.”


“Andronicus,” Flern repeated as she put the paper back in her pocket.

Riah chose that moment to come up and bow. “Lady,” she said and kept her eyes lowered.

Flern reached out and took the girl’s hand. “It is still just me. You were very good to Wlvn me. I hope we can be friends, too.”

Riah smiled at that thought, but Kined had to ruin it.

“But poor Riah is now the only single person on the trip.

“Maybe we need to find someone for her,” Flern suggested, and she felt very grown-up as she slipped her arm around Kined’s waist. He grinned and put his arm over her shoulder.

“Oh, yes,” he said, “someone very nice.”

“Oh no, you wouldn’t, would you?”

Flern giggled. “You sound like your mother.” She poked her finger in Kined’s chest. “And you sound just like my wife.”

“Your,” Kined wrinkled his brow. “Wife?”

“Well, Wlvn’s wife.”

“Ah. He never mentioned it.”

“Later,” Flern said as she thought she better let go of him again. They needed to fetch their horses anyway. “But say, where is Bricklebrains? I was looking forward to seeing him with my own eyes.”

“Ah.” Vilder stepped up as he rubbed his upper arm. “He went back to Movan Mountain. He said his wife’s cooking called him, but he said you knew where to find him if you need him.”

“And I do,” Flern said. “Bricklebrains.” She called in a special way and the dwarf was obliged to appear before her. It looked like great magic, but in truth it was something perfectly natural to Flern since the gods collectively saddled the Kairos with oversight of the little ones. Bricklebrains showed up with his back to her and had something to say.

“Hey! I was almost half-way home.”

“Ahem,” Flern coughed to get the dwarf’s attention. Bricklebrains turned around, saw her, whipped off his hat and held his tongue. “I just wanted to thank you for taking such good care of Wlvn.” She bent down and kissed the dwarf on his receding hairline. “Say hello to Balken for us and give a special hug to Badl for me. Now go to Movan Mountain.”

Bricklebrains said nothing. His cheeks and forehead were scarlet from the kiss, but as Flern clapped her hands, Bricklebrains vanished.

“Amazing,” Kined said. Flern just looked up at him and smiled.

Reflections Flern-10 part 3 of 3

The inn looked guarded. There were Jaccar outside and no doubt inside as well. Wlvn had to walk all around the house to find an unguarded second-story window. They probably imagined the second floor would be safe. They never reckoned on the fact that Wlvn could fly. Reaching the window proved the easy part. Opening the shutters without alerting everyone up and down the road seemed a bit more difficult. With the window cracked open, he floated, listened and hoped to hear nothing. Instead, he heard the voice of a very old woman. The Wicca? He wondered, but soon decided it could not be the Wicca. It had to be just an ordinary witch.

“Why won’t you children tell me the truth. A girl cannot simply slip backwards in time. Life does not work that way.”

“We are telling the truth.” Wlvn thought that might be Thrud’s voice. “She is no longer here and Wlvn, a boy has taken her place.” Poor Thrud sounded like she had either been drugged or enchanted, which amounted to the same thing.

“More likely the girl has turned herself into a boy to elude capture. That says there is some real magic at work here,” the old woman responded. “And where is this boy now?”

“We don’t know,” Pinn responded out of the same drugged voice.  “He became a legendary woman and turned into an owl to fly up to the Were plateau in search of our friend. He has not come back yet.”

“What legendary woman? No one can go up to the Were plateau and live.”

“Faya,” Thrud said.

“What? Impossible.” The witch paced. Wlvn heard the click clack of shoes against the plain wood floors. “It is no wonder the Wicca asked me to do this,” The witch explained to someone. “This girl sounds like a very powerful sorceress to change her shape as she does.”

A man answered, but he spoke in a language Wlvn did not know.

Wlvn opened the window slowly. He had not yet been seen, probably because the Jaccar soldiers below were not in the habit of looking up other than to check the time of day. Since the sun just started to break above the horizon, no one looked up, but that grace would not last forever.

The shutter creaked, but only a little, and Wlvn managed to slither in while he floated, so his body never touched the wooden floor. There were four rooms upstairs, the room he entered and the one beside it, where the questioning took place, had the door cracked open. Then there were the two front rooms by the stairs. Wlvn wanted to find Riah and Bricklebrains. He assumed the boys were as enchanted as the girls, but he imagined his little ones would be resistant. He opened the front room door slowly and snuck a look. Riah, Nadia, and Vinnu were there, tied up, and Vinnu slept, besides. Wlvn guessed the boys got tied up in the other room, but this would do for his purposes.

He was about to enter when he heard the door to the boy’s room open. Thrud and Pinn got tossed back into the girl’s room, and they both stumbled and fell. Whatever the enchantment or drug this old witch used, it looked powerful. Neither girl complained, but they also did not get up right away. Wlvn thought to try a different approach.

He sat quietly and cleared his mind. Then he reached out to Riah with only his thoughts. “Be free,” he thought first. “Be free of whatever drugs or enchantment the witch has laid upon you.”

“I am free,” the thought came right back. “She has not tried to drug me or Nadia yet.”

“Good,” Wlvn thought and put a hand to his head against the inevitable headache. “One of you needs to keep the others entertained while the other one backs up to where I can untie you.” He pictured it in his mind and cut the contact. Riah immediately leaned over to Nadia and whispered in the girl’s ear. Nadia backed up. Wlvn thought it would be the other way around, but then he imagined Riah would be the more familiar face for the drugged ones. They might be too blurry to even remember Nadia unless they looked directly at her.

Riah engaged Pinn and Thrud in conversation right away. She also planted the thought that they should face the boy’s door since that was the way they came when they were fetched. Wlvn thought of that as good thinking. It gave him a chance to work on Nadia’s ropes without someone facing him. He did quick work, but almost not quick enough as the men came back to fetch Nadia and the elf. Riah had already set herself free, it turned out, with a bit of magic of her own. And she and Nadia went straight at the two men who at first were startled and surprised to find them free. Wlvn would have made quick work of them if his own door had not opened, and two men came into his room.

Wlvn moved at a speed impossible to follow. He grabbed each man in turn before they could reach their weapons, and tossed them hard out the window he had come in. He almost got them before they could raise the alarm, but the last one shouted and shouts also began in the girl’s room.

Wlvn decided he had no going back. He smashed down the door to the witch’s room and punched the big man with the strength of Thor in him. The man crashed through the wall and no doubt died as he broke to pieces.

“Stop!” The witch raised her hand and Wlvn found he could not move, but his hand was also raised in her direction, and he had no doubt the thunderbolt of Odin would reduce her to ashes. He just got ready to unleash the power when he found himself totally disabled by a power far greater than the witch. In fact, the witch herself also seemed disabled and Wlvn quickly understood why. Mother Vrya stepped in front of his face and had some stern words.

“You were about to make cinders of my pupil,” she said. She turned to the old woman and touched her. “There, dear. Now you are free of the Wicca’s control.”

“I was controlled?”

“Yes, dear. The Wicca is a half-goddess, and you have no power against that.”

Wlvn could not speak, but his mind yelled, a demi-goddess!

“The witch!” Bricklebrains came storming into the room ready for the kill, but Vrya just sent her pupil somewhere else. “I spent her whole life trying to push her magic to the limit. My great experiment. I am not going to lose her now.”

Bricklebrains caught up with events in his mind and whipped off his hat. “Sorry your ladyship. Trying to save my friends is all. I’m sure you understand.” Vrya could not resist a little smile for the scamp.

Nadia and Riah came in next, and Riah made the announcement. “The boys and girls are all free of the enchantment, and the boys are right now chasing off the remaining Jaccar.”

“I did it!” Nadia interrupted, and spoke to Wlvn, not yet realizing he could not speak back. “I fought and won.”

Vrya smiled and stepped up to kiss the young girl on the forehead. “Yes, you did, my sometime grandchild. And don’t you worry, everything will work out, but for the moment I have to borrow my son, even if he is not presently my son. Come to the cave at the bottom of the hill when you are ready to finish the journey.” She smiled for them all as Thrud and Vinnu came bounding into the room.

Wlvn appeared in a cave with a bed. It felt strange to him, being in bed in a cave, but when Mother Vrya said lay down, he did not argue. Nothing he wanted more than a good eight-hours of sleep.



Flern returns to her proper time and place, plus they get some extra help toward finding the secret of the bronze. Until then, Happy Reading


Reflections Flern-9 part 3 of 3

Once the enchantment had been removed, the dark elves turned out to be an affable people, quick to talk about the weather, life under the earth, and working the rich veins of metal and precious stone that mother earth provided. Thrud hated being underground and cried a lot, so Tiren often had to focus on her. Vinnu never got over being frightened, just to look at the goblins, so Gunder had his hands full as well. Kined, Vilder and Pinn, by contrast, were all ears, especially when the goblins talked about the bronze. By the time they reached the other side of the mountains, they had a good idea of how to work and blend the metals to produce the high-grade composite.

They came to a big cave that first night, one that had been worked and expanded over the years. Bricklebrains felt right at home in the cave, but he felt wary about the company. Riah did not mind the company so much, since her people had not had a run-in with goblins in a long time, but she said she felt likely to suffocate in the caves if she did not soon get out into the fresh air. Wlvn stayed non-committal about the whole thing and would have been content to sit back through the whole journey if there had not been that argument in the night.

“What are they on about?” Bricklebrains asked. The goblins camped a bit apart from the travelers so as not to interfere with their night sleep. Goblins were creatures of the night and apt to be up at all hours.

“Seeing who gets what part to eat once we fall asleep.” Vinnu could not help it. The words just popped out of her mouth. Everyone ignored her except Gunder who held her.

“Wondering which way to go?” Pinn suggested.

“How they find their way in this underground maze is beyond me,” Vilder agreed.

“The nose.” Bricklebrains tapped his nose like a person might tap the side of their head. “Can’t you just smell them? I smell trolls, come to think of it.”

“I can’t smell anything,” Riah admitted. “I can’t hardly breathe down here. It is so stuffy.”

“Stuffy is not the word I would use,” Thrud said. “It smells like a grave if you ask me.”

“Hush,” Tiren said softly, and turned Thrud’s head back into his shoulder.

Kined got ready to add his thoughts when a goblin stood and said, “Lord,” loud and clear. Wlvn sighed. He hoped he could stay out of it.

Two goblins came over with Goldenstone. Wlvn named them as Batwings and Dross. Goldenstone did the talking. “We got an argument brewing and wonder if you could help us settle things.”

“I heard,” Wlvn said.

“Well, you see Lord. It’s about all the hardware you are carrying. Dross here says it was made by the gods what with you being counted among them and all, but Batwings insists it is elf made. He says his family proudly made some of it back in the ancient years.”

“Let’s see.” Wlvn pulled out his sword. It gleamed in the firelight, though how the goblins managed a fire underground that did not smoke them all to death was a magic beyond any the humans could imagine. He handed the sword to Goldenstone to examine, and Vinnu shrieked softly.

“Are you mad?”

Wlvn just smiled as Goldenstone turned the blade to the ground in order to examine the area around the handle. “The runes here are kinda small,” he said.

“Unauthorized,” Wlvn told him. “No permission from Aesgard to use runes.”

Goldenstone did not look up but nodded. “More than likely. It says property of the Kairos, but we know that.” Goldenstone turned it over and then turned it over again. “Sorry Batwings, I don’t see your family mark. But then I don’t see any mark.”

“Check the handle,” Wlvn suggested.

“Naw, they always mark the metal,” Dross insisted.

“Not when they are using unauthorized runes,” Wlvn countered.

“Good point,” Dross conceded, and they checked the handle and Batwings fairly shouted.

“Aha! There it is. My family mark, just like on Thor’s hammer. This sword was strictly elf made. No god ever touched it.” Batwings puffed out his chest. “My family is the best in the business. The gods themselves come to us for what they need.”

“Let me see that.” Dross made a grab for the sword.

“Hey!” Batwings had one hand already on the handle while Goldenstone still held it. They began to tussle for it, and someone yelled.


Vinnu buried her face in Gunder’s chest. She did not want to watch. Kined, quite to the contrary, had to keep himself from laughing. He started adjusting to the idea of having at least some second-hand responsibility for all of these spirits of the earth. Riah caught Kined’s feelings and stifled her own laugh.

Wlvn just sighed again and snapped his finger, and with a word the sword vanished from the hands of the goblins and reappeared properly sheathed across his back.

“Hey!” All three goblins shouted and swatted at the air with empty hands for a moment before they stopped.

“I told you it was elf made,” Batwings smirked.

Dross turned red in the face. “Your family got no finesse. We make everything worth having, like the amulet of peace and prosperity. That was one of ours.” Dross raised a fist. Batwings responded by raising both of his fists. Goldenstone backed up to get out of the way. Wlvn spoke up.

“Gentlemen, we have guests. Please behave yourselves. I have heard this argument before and it is pointless, but at least you could wait until we are finished with this little journey.”

Batwings and Dross both lowered their fists slowly, but they snarled at each other before they smiled for Wlvn. “Of course, Lord. As you say. We can always settle matters later. Journey first.” And they backed away with a few bows before they rejoined the group of goblins on the other side of the cave where, truth be told, some looked disappointed that there would not be a brawl.

“So, your weapons are elf made?” Vilder had to ask, and Wlvn responded by pulling out his long knife. He handed it over with a word.

“Bronze. The dark elves discerned the secret ages ago, but we humans are just discovering it.” They all examined the weapon before they opted for sleep, not to say that Vinnu, Thrud or Riah got much sleep. Bricklebrains also felt inclined to stay up most of the night, since he had little trust of goblins.

After two days, they saw sight of the setting sun through a cave entrance and Thrud dropped the reins of her horse and made a run for it. She collapsed just outside the entrance and breathed like she had been holding her breath the whole time she was underground. Riah also took deep breaths, but it was because the stink underground finally got to her, or so she said.

Wlvn made Kined stand beside him when he said good-bye to Goldenstone and the other goblins, and then they all started out together, still walking their horses over the rough, rock-strewn upper mountain path.



They arrive in the village where Faya grew up and find great-grandchildren there. Faya is prompted to search for Fritt, but the Jaccar and a powerful witch arrive. Until Monday, Happy Reading


Reflections Flern-9 part 2 of 3

That night, halfway up the mountain, it became a warm but comfortable night with all the stars out in their glory. The moon came up full as well, and while the lovers loved, Wlvn knew that up on the plateau, the Were hunted under the wolf moon. Presently, they hunted in the guise of wolves and this being the second night of the moon, he knew the blood lust would be at its peak. They would reach the top of the pass in the afternoon, but Wlvn would make them camp off the plateau again, to avoid the third and final night of the wolf moon.

The next day they rode some, but often had to walk their horses up the mountainside. Thrud complained the whole way. Vinnu stayed unnaturally quiet. Bricklebrains made up for it by jabbering about the great life he had in Movan Mountain, and how lucky he was to be a dwarf instead of thick mud like the humans. No one but Kined, and sometimes Fritt really listened to the dwarf, but no one had to listen at all since he appeared to be speaking to himself. Wlvn only felt glad the dwarf seemed to have adjusted to being one of their companions.

Riah, like Vinnu, also stayed unnaturally quiet. When pressed, she confessed some trepidation about going up on the plateau of the Were. They were not known to be a friendly lot, not even to the little ones. “Mostly the spirits of the earth work there invisible and immaterial,” she said, though that was true in most places. “It just isn’t safe otherwise.”

Wlvn understood.

Shortly after noon, they came across a great stone wall made up of many slabs of stone that appeared to have been pushed up from below. They were rounded and weathered, but even Wlvn could not imagine a force that might have pushed them up so perfectly into a wall. He just wondered about that when they walked to the upside of the wall, and he heard a sound he never expected. The roar got followed by a stream of fire. The dragon landed where the wall stood between them. Then the big worm lifted its head over the top of the wall as if to spy on them. Wlvn immediately got the impression of someone’s spoiled pet. It did not do well in flight, like it got too fat.

Vinnu, Thrud and Fritt all screamed. Tiren and Kined appeared frozen in place. Gunder and Vilder tried to get them all moving, but no one seriously moved until the next stream of fire just missed frying Pinn, horse and all.

“This way!” Pinn shouted above the screams. Wlvn shouted something else. He knew that, like night creatures, dragons were an off-world phenomenon. The people who bred dragons, bred into them obedience to certain, simple words in their tongue. Wlvn found that tongue in the mind of Kartesh, his most recent life. He called out to the dragon and tried desperately to shout over the screams of the others. But then he knew, once the dragons got big and old, they did not necessarily respond to the words.

“No fire. Do no harm. No fire!” It was not clear if the dragon even heard him.

They started moving out of range along a rock face. The dragon slithered over the stone wall to follow. It could have taken to the air, but it preferred to slither up alongside them, and though the plateau sat just above, it did not look like they were going to make it. Another stream of fire cut off that direction temporarily. It seemed the dragon decided to play cat and mouse, and they were the mice.

Vinnu continued to scream. Wlvn continued to shout his words in the attempt to be heard above the din. It is a wonder that Riah heard a quiet voice call from a dark place in the rock face.

“In here. Hurry.”

As it happened, they were turned around at that point so Fritt appeared in the lead. Riah turned for the dark space and found a cave. Her horse barely fit, when she dismounted, but the cave got deep and ran back a long way. She imagined it might not be big enough for the dragon, though, and that mattered most. Tiren, Gunder, Thrud and Vinnu followed, and Vinnu temporarily stopped screaming. Pinn, Vilder and Kined came right behind, and the dragon realized it was losing its prey. It swung straight for them.

Fritt raised his voice above the others, now that the screaming abated. He rode quickly very close to the dragon’s mouth. He turned up toward the plateau, away from the others, and the dragon turned after him. It made a lunge at him, and barely missed as Fritt topped the rise and became lost to sight, the dragon literally hot on his trail.

Wlvn, the last in the cave, arrived just in time to hear Vinnu start screaming again. Their saviors turned out to be a troop of dark elves, what most people would call goblins. Wlvn stepped over and put his hand over Vinnu’s mouth before he handed her to Gunder and spoke.

“Goldenstone, can we get back to the surface from here without crossing the path of the dragon again?”

The goblin looked surprised at having his name known, but quickly recovered. “I thought you might like to go underground to the other side and not have to deal with the wolves above.”

“Yes, the wolf moon. But that is only for another night and then they will settle down again for a time.”

“But they remain Were,” Goldenstone argued.

“Listen, Goldenstone,” Bricklebrains stepped up. “These may be mud people, but they are all right, I tell you.”

“Bricklebrains.” The goblin knew the dwarf. “And I see you brought an underage, scrawny little elf with you.” Riah made a fist, but Wlvn caught it.

“She isn’t here,” one of the goblins spoke up from the cave entrance where he managed to get behind them.

“Maybe she is lost.”

“Or the dragon got her.

“Or maybe she is dead already.” The last suggestion became the one most of the dark elves appeared to agree with. The humans, of course, knew exactly who they were talking about.

“Oh bother.” Wlvn sighed before he waved his hand and said, “All of you are free from the enchantment of the Wicca,” and all of the goblins fainted. “And any trolls or goblins or others that might be down any of these passages or in any of the rooms, you are all free from the enchantment, even if you can’t hear my voice.”

“I don’t understand.” Vinnu removed Gunder’s hand from her mouth to express her uncertainty.

“These ones belong to the Lord, too,” Bricklebrains explained.

“All of the little ones,” Pinn remembered the village battle against the Jaccar. “All of the sprites of the air, water and fire as well as the earth.”

“Er, yes,” Riah agreed, though she was not sure she liked the idea of being referred to as an earth sprite.

“Be free,” Wlvn said again with a smile and show of his hand. He was kidding, but at once the earth began to tremble. Above ground, that could be frightening. Underground it became terrifying. Fortunately, it did not last long as a woman as tall as the tunnel appeared. She came dressed in something like silk, and it gave her demeanor a true stately appearance, but her skin looked gray, and her eyes and face looked like marble, and that made her look more like a moving statue.

“I was afraid for you, but I see you have handled things well enough.”

“And you are?” Wlvn got curious enough to speak. The others dared not speak in this great lady’s presence.

The lady squinted. “The young woman did not tell you?”

Wlvn sighed and guessed. “Flern and I are not in contact at the moment.”

“Oh, I see.” The lady said, but what she actually saw would be a matter for later debate. “I am Carpasis. I am the oread of these mountains. Oakvein and Firblog both said you were coming. And I had a reception planned, but at the last minute I got word that my sister Sylvan needed me. She lives on the other side of the plateau.”

“May I ask how this word was delivered?”

“Yes, one of the rats that burrow through these caves. But when I got there, I found she did not need me. And when I returned, I found the dragon you gave me awake and hungry. It is the strangest thing. I had thought the dragon would sleep another year at least.”

“Pardon.” Kined found the courage to speak before Wlvn could say, “The dragon I gave you?” Kined rightly worried. “My friend Fritt drew the dragon away so we could make it safely to this cave. Is there any way to see if he is all right?”

“I can speak to the Were,” Carpasis answered. “But I would not hold out hope if he was being chased by my dragon. I am sorry your reception turned less than pleasant.”

“Quite all right.” Wlvn spoke again. “Now we have these good dark elves to guide us through the mountain. Can we convey your greetings to your sister when we arrive on the other side?”

The oread smiled. “You are very like her. She thought to thank me for my assistance. That was most unexpected and most appreciated. I will say, the goddess is waiting for your arrival. Safe journey.” She vanished even as the goblins started to get up.

“Poor Fritt,” Vinnu said, with a look up into Gunder’s face. He nodded.

“Poor us,” Thrud said with a look around and up at the roof of the cave. “Can we get out of here now?”

“No.” Wlvn said. “How long to the other side?”

Goldenstone bowed. “Lord, it should only be two days to the other side by our reckoning.”

“Underground elf ways,” Wlvn said. “But we better keep to the troll roads to make sure there is enough room for the horses.” Goldenstone bowed again.

“Two days!” Thrud erupted and buried her face in Tiren’s shoulder.

“Claustrophobic,” Wlvn concluded though no one there knew the word. “But I wouldn’t worry. I don’t expect the trolls will exact much of a price for the troll road.” He giggled at his own bad joke, well used as it was, though again no one knew what he was talking about.

Reflections Flern-9 part 1 of 3

Wlvn made Bricklebrains ride behind Kined, though Bricklebrains called it an honor he did not deserve. Still, it gave them a chance to get to know each other a bit, and after a while, they dropped back to include Fritt in their conversation. Kined felt concerned. He feared Fritt might not speak to him alone, but Fritt adjusted better than Kined supposed, and even said something surprising.

“I’m glad if Flern did not pick me, she picked you. I could not have stood it if she picked Trell or Tird, but you and Flern have been best friends forever, so I don’t mind so much.”

“Good,” Wlvn said when Riah with her good elf ears told him what they said.

“But I don’t like spying,” Riah complained.

“Yeah, well Flern hasn’t picked anyone yet, and I am certainly not going to marry Kined.” Riah opened her eyes and mouth wide before she shut her mouth with a clack.

“Of course.”

They crossed the river Sware just after lunch and reached the town well before sundown. This was the first town Wlvn ever saw that had an inn of sorts. Of course, he never saw much in the way of towns. There were nearly five hundred people in and around the town and it had become a real center for civilization in the area. Apparently, there were a half-dozen towns on the river along with any number of villages, and they all traded with each other. Back in Wlvn’s day, a hundred was a massively sized village, and when he added it up, there were probably more people in those towns along the river than in all the villages in the land of the Titan, combined.

“There weren’t as many people back in my day,” he confessed to the others. “This feels very crowded.” Still, he knew what to do at an inn, thanks to the Princess and others guiding his hand and words. The economy had no money, of course, but trade worked well enough, even the prospect of future trade.

They were found by the important people in the town right away. Wlvn demonstrated his bronze sword and knife and said how they were going to find the secret of making this miraculous metal. The people said, “We heard,” and an elder named Oren took the lead.

“We also heard how you fought off the Jaccar. It is all the talk up and down the river. We have turned from being a people in fear to a people with hope. And we will fight with you, whether you succeed in finding your bronze or not.”

Vilder and the others got excited by that word, but Wlvn, and now Pinn, waited for the other shoe to drop. It came from a woman on the council named Leelar. “But where is the red headed girl?” she asked. Wlvn turned to Bricklebrains, and he nodded and pointed at the woman. Wlvn returned the nod and put poor Pinn and Riah on the spot.

“These two will explain how Flern is negotiating with the dwarfs but will be along in a couple of days.” He took Oren by the arm, and Bricklebrains followed them outside where they could talk without being overheard.

“Never mind Leelar,” Oren said. “She is firmly against all sorts of fighting. But I tell her she cannot hide beneath a basket and expect to be safe. Most of the council is solid in support of you, and I feel what reluctance there might have been vanished when you rode into town with an elf and a dwarf who both answer to you. I never saw an elf before, but I understand they are a proud and independent people, as wise as they are mysterious. And I never heard of a dwarf answering to anyone.”

“I appreciate your sentiment, but Bricklebrains, tell him.”

Bricklebrains frowned but Oren bent down a little to better hear what the dwarf had to say. He even smiled against Bricklebrains’ frown in anticipation.

“When me and the chief found Lord Wolven, we were enchanted by the Wicca.”

“Eh?” Oren did not know who that was.

“The leader of the Jaccar,” Wlvn said. “A most powerful witch.” The look on Oren’s face showed that he knew what a witch was. “Powerful enough to enchant dwarfs.” That was serious power. Bricklebrains tugged on Oren’s sleeve. He had not finished.

“Well, our Lord set us free of the enchantment, but he made it so I could smell if someone else was enchanted, you see? I got the nose for it.” He proudly lifted up his nose so Oren could get a good look at it.

“Well?” Oren asked the dwarf.

“Well, it’s like this. Your Miss Leelar is enchanted by the Wicca, just like we were. I don’t imagine she can speak her own mind. No idea what her mind might speak. But she can speak what the Wicca wants, that’s for sure.”

“What?” Oren turned that question on Wlvn.

“I have no power to break the Wicca’s spell over humans,” Wlvn said. “All I can say is don’t listen to her. The words will be full of lies and manipulation, and she will lead the village into slavery to the Wicca and the Jaccar.”

“What!” Oren shouted and looked back and forth between the man and the dwarf. “Are you sure?”

Both Wlvn and Bricklebrains nodded, and Wlvn had a suggestion. “Let Bricklebrains sniff around, quietly, and see who else, if any, might be under the witch’s spell.”

“I can’t believe it.” Oren said as he found a place to sit down. That did not mean he did not believe it. “I have known Leelar for forty years. She does not seem changed to me.”

“That is probably why the Wicca was able to get to her,” Wlvn suggested as Oren took another look. “Leelar probably leaned in a direction convenient for the witch to use.”

“But why should I believe you? What reason do I have to trust your word for this? These dwarfs are known to be great tricksters and not to be completely trusted.”

“Hey!” Bricklebrains took offense, but Wlvn calmed him with a simple wave of his hand.

“Let me put it this way. If you wish to support us with men and hunters against the Jaccar, fine. If you decide not to support us, fine. I am not here to control your decision. I am only asking that you make your own decision and not let the Wicca make it for you.”

Oren thought for a minute. “Your offer is fair enough, and I think I would like to test it if your dwarf is willing.”

An hour later, they stood in the council chamber and Bricklebrains sniffed at the seven men and two women. He quickly identified two of the men along with Leelar. Oren nodded, knowingly.

“These two and Leelar have been most vocal against joining you in your fight. You would have no way of knowing that unless what you say is true. Mylara,” he pointed at the other woman. “She has also voiced some opposition, but I felt she just agreed with these others and did not feel committed. She has said as much.”

Mylara looked up and nodded her head. “I believe it will be terrible to lose our young men and then have no one to defend us when the Jaccar come here.”

Wlvn got the woman’s attention. “An expression to remember. United we stand, divided we fall.” The woman said no more because Leelar spoke up.

“So, what is this? To see if the dwarf could point out the ones against fighting and dying for some unknown village and unknown people?”

“No, actually, it was to see if the dwarf could pick out those under the spell of the Wicca, the powerful witch that also controls the Jaccar.”

“What?” The council imitated Oren to a person, and some backed away from the three singled out.

“The fact that you three have also spoken so strongly against joining the fight just confirms it,” Wlvn said. “I will tell you what I told Oren. If you fight with us, great. If you decide not to fight with us, that is fine. We will not hold it against you, only let it be your own decision. Do not let the Wicca decide for you.”

Wlvn returned to the inn and made everyone follow him to just outside the town where they camped in the wilderness at the foot of the pass. All he heard was how they were all looking forward to spending a night in a real bed, despite the fact that the so-called inn only had three beds. But Wlvn would not hear it, and they understood despite the complaints. Town simply became unsafe. Someone under the power of the Wicca might easily be there to kill them in their sleep.

For the first time, Wlvn organized a watch in the night. They knew about the watch set out against the Jaccar, of course, but this time they were not expecting any Jaccar so there was reluctance until Wlvn thoroughly explained it. “Just a precaution,” Wlvn said.

“Genius,” Vilder called it in the end. “We each take two hours to watch and guard the camp so people can sleep in peace, and everyone gets real rest, and everyone stays protected.”

“Provided you watch during your watch,” Wlvn underlined the word.

The morning came without incident, and they left that town behind as they began to climb for the pass. Thrud, Vinnu, Tiren and Fritt were anxious to find out what the town decided in the night, but Wlvn would not let them. He said the best way to show they meant it when they said they wanted the town to make their own decision would be to leave, not to go back and put pressure on them. “Besides,” he said. “What if they decided against us after all?” That quieted them.

Reflections Flern-8 part 3 of 3

Wlvn spent the afternoon riding out front, alone, as Fritt brought up the rear by himself. Kined and Riah rode side by side, and that was fine. It gave Wlvn some time to think things through.

This Wicca and her army of Jaccar warriors seemed a terrible thing to have to face, but in his heart, he knew it was something Flern might be able to handle on her own. He knew Flern had no business going up against a Titan, and he marveled at the revelation of how he was one person through time and yet many different people. Each life he lived not only had a different skill set and different abilities, they also had different personalities, and in some cases, they were very different. It might all still be just him, but the differences could be striking. Being male or female of course was the obvious one, but upbringing and culture were massive. In different places and times throughout history, he, or she saw and responded to the world in startlingly different ways. God, he hoped he was never content to be part of someone’s harem.

With that strange thought, he glanced back at Kined. He genuinely liked Kined, and he wondered if the reverse of what Kined said might also be true. He was not sure he could dislike, much less hate Kined as long as Flern felt the way she felt about the young man. Then again, he did not know exactly how Flern felt since she remained out of touch. That disturbed him. Maybe he still just vibrated the feelings she felt before they double traded. He supposed she might change her mind, given the chance, only he could not imagine a way she might have that chance. There had to be some way they could double trade back, but he could not imagine it, and none of his other lifetimes knew how either—at least the lives he could currently touch.

The night crept up on them and they almost stopped too late in the day. Riah found a roe deer that she said practically got handed to her. “The spirit of this forest, old Firblog was being kind, and I thanked him,” she said.

“Firblog?” Fritt asked. He still tried to fit into the group, though he told Vilder he felt a bit like a leftover.

Riah nodded as she swallowed her bit of liver and spoke. “These are dwarf woods, the woods of Movan Mountain. They run up to the Pert and the river bridge we came over. The elf woods of Miroven are the woods of Lord Oakvein. This side of the Pert belongs to Firblog. His woods rise up to the plateau itself and cover all the land between the Pert and Sware Rivers. Of course, the humans call the whole thing the Brugh, like they can’t see one side from the other.”

“You are right about these being dwarf woods,” a voice came out of the dark and startled everyone. “It makes me wonder why a young elf maid and these humans might be traipsing through my woods.”

“Firblog?” Vinnu asked.

Wlvn shook his head. “Show yourself,” he said, and just like his dwarfs, he smelled them all around. A very short looking creature stepped into the light. He might have looked like a man but for being just four feet tall, and he might have looked like an elf except his pointed ears folded down, his nose looked too bulbous, and he had far too much hair on his face. “Balken.” Wlvn named the creature but said no more as he waited for the dwarf chief to speak.

Balken looked around the circle of faces before he made his pronouncement. “You appear to be missing one. A girl with red hair, I believe.”

Wlvn nodded. “He is looking for Flern, as I suspected. I can feel the enchantment, can you?” He spoke to the others but looked at Kined and Riah. Riah shook her head. Kined did not seem sure. Wlvn spoke up, loud. “Put down your arrows and come into the firelight so we can see you all. Now. And stay by the fire until I give you leave.” Balken stared at Wlvn, and wonder crossed his face. Wlvn stared back and said one more thing while they waited. “You are free from your enchantment.” He did not speak it loudly, or wave his hand, or flash a wand, or anything associated with magic, but both Riah, and in a lesser way Kined felt a power beyond calculating. The only way to describe it would be to say this was not a derived power like magic, but a source power, the kind of power from which all other magic is derived.

Balken responded by rolling up his eyes and collapsing.

“Hey!” More than one incoming dwarfs reacted, but Wlvn reassured them. “Your chief is fine. Just come here so we can see you.” There were eleven so Balken made it an even dozen. These others were all clearly dwarfs.  Their ears were more normal, but their noses were extra large. The tallest stood a bit less than four feet tall, and their stocky builds and long beards completed the look.

Wlvn knew exactly who he was looking at, by name and family history if he cared to look. He found one who stood shorter than most, barely topping three feet, but who had an uncanny nose. He could track and find about anything with that nose, and the dwarf only hesitated a second when Wlvn said, “Come here Bricklebrains.”

“L-lord?” Bricklebrains certainly smelled something.

“The rest of you are free of the enchantment.” Wlvn waved his arm that time, and all of the dwarfs collapsed even as Balken got up, rubbing the back of his neck.

“What hit me?” The dwarf chief asked. No one answered because they were too busy watching.

“Can you smell the enchantment?” Wlvn asked Bricklebrains.

“Y-yes,” Bricklebrains stuttered as he whipped off his hat and worried it in his stubby fingered hands. He looked frightened, and Wlvn responded to that. “Don’t be afraid.” He smiled for the dwarf.

“Your Lordship, yes. I smell it, but I can’t do nothing about it. I want to kill the red headed girl and I can’t help it. Please, I don’t want to kill anybody.”

“The Wicca?” Pinn asked. She and Vilder were beginning to get it. This was not all about a Jaccar army.

Wlvn nodded but kept his attention on Bricklebrains. “Be free of the enchantment,” he said softly. “But be able to still smell it on others.”

Bricklebrains stumbled. Riah and Kined caught him, and he turned his head farther than any human could and said, “Thanks other Lord,” to Kined and, “Creepers, I got elf cooties,” to Riah.

“Balken.” Wlvn spoke to the dwarf chief. “Tell your father I am sorry our path does not take us to Movan Mountain, but I hope when we return he will send any who are willing to volunteer for the fight against the Jaccar. I am going to borrow Bricklebrains for a while, but I plan to return him in one piece.”

“Good to know,” Bricklebrains whispered quietly to Kined who started practicing his elf grin.

Balken meanwhile stared at Riah. “So Lord, you are traveling freely with the one who stole my mother’s name?”

Riah reacted. “My mother and yours were best friends.”

“So I heard,” Balken said, but clearly, he did not appear pleased with Riah being named Moriah. “I didn’t recognize you at first. You have grown.”

“You haven’t,” Riah shot back.

“Thank you,” Balken responded, much to the surprise of the others, but then Wlvn spoke up.

“I have given Moriah the name Riah for this journey, and you must remember she is innocent. She was given her name as you were given yours. She had no say over what her name would be.”

Balken put his hand to his beard and stroked it. He had not looked at it in that way. “The Lady Laurel and I may speak one day.”

“And it better be a nice talk,” Wlvn said, sternly. “Meanwhile, please take yourself and your fellow warriors home.”

One of the dwarfs spoke up. “Can’t we stay for a bit?”

“There is too much deer for this group,” another interjected.

“We could like help them fix it proper.”

“And build this pitiful fire into a real fire.”

Wlvn looked around at the others and saw no serious objection. “They are immune to fairy food and no tricks or stealing but treat these like your friends and I have no objection.”

Balken nodded slowly before he sent his people here and there to gather wood and food for a real feast. Then they partied, and Wlvn eventually had to sneak off to get some sleep. That was about the time the humans realized that two of these dwarfs were women.



With Bricklebrains along to sniff out any enchantment, they visit a village beneath the mountain pass and find a couple of key players swayed by the distant Wicca. Until Monday, Happy Reading


Reflections Wlvn-14 part 3 of 3

Wlvn, his family, and Laurel rode straight to the dome and dismounted just beyond the Titan’s reach. They looked in the distance. There were a couple of Elenar fighters in the air, zipping about, trying to get a clear shot on the Gott-Druk below. It looked hard, because Wlkn and company had gathered a hundred or more men who were trying to catch and kill any stray Gott-Druk they could find. Wlvn felt sorry there would be a human toll, but he prayed that this might be the end of the Children of Layette.

In another corner, Thor and Tyr had a protesting Loki by the arms, and Vry stood behind the group, just in case the god should wriggle free. Wlvn remembered the last time Loki wriggled free, they had to chase him down over half the earth. Of course, that would be about 2700 years in the future. Wlvn sighed. Sometimes he wished his memory would run in chronological order, but he imagined there was nothing he could do about that.

Baldur and Nana were by Eir’s cage and setting the girl free. She still looked to be about thirteen or fourteen years old, but Wlvn knew the gods aged slowly. She might be seventy, and she might have spent most of her life in a cage. Wlvn got angry and looked up at the Titan. Curiously, he had little room in his heart to feel afraid. When he went away and let Nameless take his place, the anger that filled him became a fire, and the earth itself trembled briefly beneath his feet.

Ymir stared at everything going on, but it looked clear that he did not understand what was happening. Laurel held the horses back, not that they needed the encouragement. Gndr looked petrified. He had his mouth open and drooled, slightly. Strn had his hands over his eyes. Brmr shot pure hatred at the Titan and looked like she wanted to prove the expression “if looks could kill,” but at the same time, she kept back where she could be surrounded by Shana’s protective arms. For one moment, Nameless saw the Swan Princess protecting her little gosling under her wing. That helped him settle his rage and brought the task into sharp focus.

He looked up and shouted. “Hey Moron! Ymir! Yeah you.”

Ymir looked away from all the confusing activity in the distance and looked down at something he could better comprehend. His mouth immediately began to drool and Gndr closed his mouth with a snap in response.

“Have you brought me treats little god? They look young and very sweet.”

“No, I have come to kill you,” Nameless said, and drew his sword.

Ymir paused and then laughed a great, rumbling laugh. “You cannot kill me. I have Odin’s promise.”

“So, you don’t mind if I take three chances. I tell you what, give me three tries, and if I fail, then you can eat the three children.” He mumbled, “If you can catch them,” but no one except maybe Laurel, heard.

“Wlvn. No. No!” Brmr and the boys yelled and called Nameless by the name they knew. But Shana wisely pulled Strn close and that made Gndr also move near, and she spoke.

“Trust your brother.”

“Maybe I eat them now,” Ymir said.

“Why? Are you afraid? I ask for three chances. Or do I need to tell everyone in heaven and on earth that Ymir is a coward?”

Ymir paused his hand. “I am not afraid.”

“Of course. You have Odin’s promise. So, I get three chances to try and kill you.”

Ymir paused to think. It looked painful on that face. “What is three?”

Nameless took Wlvn’s brothers and sisters and compelled them to stand apart and keep quiet while he touched each on the head. “One, two, three,” he said.

“Little god, you cannot kill me. I have Odin’s promise.” Apparently, that much got ingrained in the Titan’s head.

“Good. Are you ready for try number one?”

Ymir took a moment before he stood up straight and smiled. “I am ready, little god.”

Nameless leapt until he was above the Titan’s head. At the last moment, he traded places with Wlvn and brought the sword down on the Titan’s soft spot in his skull. The sword bounced off, and Wlvn barely held on to it as he got thrown back. He traded back to Nameless as he landed on his two feet beside the children. He did not expect Wlvn to be able to do the deed. He had been graced by too many of the gods.

Ymir laughed. “Haw. Haw.”

“That is the first try,” Nameless said.

“So, I eat one?” Ymir did not seem sure how this game would be played

“Not yet. I have two more chances.” He compelled Gndr to go with him to a spot just outside the Titan’s peripheral vision. “But we will put this one here, out of the way, so we don’t lose count.”

“I want to eat one.”

“Two more chances first. You don’t want to be called a cheater.”

Again, Ymir thought, and it looked like a headache coming on. “I will not cheat.”

“Ready?” Nameless said, and hardly waited. He leapt again, but this time he traded places with the Storyteller, the most human, unempowered, unmagical lifetime he presently remembered. The Storyteller thought of himself, “that’s me. Mister Dull.” Then the sword came crashing down, but again it bounced off and the Storyteller could not fly like Wlvn. He lost his grip on the sword, but Nameless returned to grab it and land once again on his feet. He thought, if mister dull could not make a dent, that explained at least something of what it meant to be counted among the gods.

Nameless brought Strn to stand with Gndr and effectively kept their mouths closed and their feet glued to the spot just outside the Titan’s vision. To be sure, he could not be exactly certain what the Titan saw. Ymir did not appear to have noticed the change in people pounding on his head. He checked his sword as he walked back to where Brmr and Shana stood. Brmr was in tears.

“Hurry up,” Ymir roared. “You are making me hungry.”

“But I have one more try. Isn’t this a fun game?”

“Fun when I feast.” The Titan grinned. Not a recommended sight. Fortunately, the grin did not last long. “But, hey! You said one more turn but there are more than one left.”

One and more than one, Nameless thought. Good counting system. He spoke. “Shana is a Swan Princess. She is not part of this contest. And Laurel is an elf. You only get the humans.”

“I could still eat them,” Ymir insisted.

“Maybe another time.” Nameless shook his head. “First we deal with the humans,” he said, and he hoped the boys were ready. He said it out loud, “Ready?” Ymir stood up straight and too tall.

“One more try,” the Titan said, and Nameless leapt, but as the sword came down he disappeared and Strn an Gndr found their hands on the hilt of the elf blade. With their utterly human guidance, the elf-forged blade easily sliced through the Titan’s soft spot at the forehead and continued through the brains until it disappeared inside all that jelly-like substance and the boys lost their grip.

Ymir put his hands up to his head, but the boys were already back on their feet beside Brmr and Shana. “Ungh” Ymir tried to speak before his eyes rolled up and he fell to the ground, stone dead. Loki voice became the only sound that could be heard above the crash and rumbling of the earth.


Nameless briefly thought the god needed to deepen his voice for that real Darth Vader sound when Eir flew into his arms. She wrapped her legs around his waist, her arms around his neck, and planted her lips on his and did not let go. The only thing Nameless thought after that was this was no thirteen or fourteen-year-old kiss. They stayed that way while her parents, Baldur and Nana walked up to join them.

“He asked for her hand in marriage,” Baldur said.

“But she is just a child,” Nana protested.

Baldur nodded. “But she won’t always be so,” he added.

Then Brmr tugged on the skirt of Nameless’ armor. “Wlvn,” she called him. “You already have a wife.”

“Oh.” Nameless and Eir let go and slowly stepped away. They looked into each other’s eyes and all the promise in the world was there. Then Nameless spoke.

“You are right.” He went away and let Wlvn come home. Wlvn immediately turned to Shana. “Sorry.”

Shana came in as close as she could around the baby, having just had an example of how it was done. With a glimpse at Eir she said, “Nothing to apologize for. I didn’t marry Nameless. Only you.” And they practice their own version of a lip lock. In fact, they were still working on it when Wlkn and Elleya, Boritz and Andrea, Badl and Moriah rode up and thought to join them. All was quiet, until Gndr and Strn began to argue about whose hand mostly killed the Titan.

Brmr turned to Mother Vrya, who arrived and was the last god present, the others having gone their way. Mother Vrya put her arm around Brmr’s shoulder and smiled. “As my son has been known to say, I love it when a plan comes together.”



The other half of the story.  Flern and her friends have their own quest ahead of them if Flern can find the courage to be herself.  Until then, Enjoy, and Happy Reading.


Reflections Wlvn-14 part 2 of 3

It took a long day to reach the woods that served as the border to the domains of the Titan. Once they entered the woods and passed the one-way barrier, they would be trapped again in the land of abomination. Wlvn stopped the riders. Shana needed a rest.

“Why have we stopped?” Wlkn looked anxious to get home and see if any of his friends survived. After their abrupt exit from the land of the Titan, they feared dire consequences for their neighbors.

“It is getting late. We can camp here, and get home tomorrow morning,” Wlvn said before he focused on his wife. Mother Vrya took Brmr in hand and brought Strn and Gndr to the fire. Wlkn started it with the sticks that came to hand while Elleya supervised. Badl and Laurel went to the forest edge to gather some more wood and to check for whatever they might find that was tasty. Since Badl and Laurel were not human, they were not bothered or hindered by the barrier to the land.

Moriah and Boritz went out across the grasses in search of game. Moriah managed a fine cow and Boritz carried it. Andrea went to the nearby stream to fill the skins and then got her carefully collected spices ready to cook the cow. Of course, Moriah insisted on doing most of the actual cooking, and no one had any complaints.

Once people were settled for the night, content around the fire where they could watch as the remaining portions of the cow they cooked sizzled and send sparks toward the moon, Wlvn spoke again. “In the morning, we will pass through the barrier to the land. It should allow us to pass easily, but once we are inside the barrier, it won’t easily let us back out again—except maybe Badl and Laurel, and I don’t know about Elleya. The thing is you don’t have to go.”

“I remember getting out the first time,” Wlkn shook his head. “But now that I am here, I am anxious about my friends and neighbors.”

“Why would we not go with you?” Laurel asked.

“The journey isn’t finished,” Boritz added, and several heads around the fire nodded.

“I’m going,” Brmr spoke up. She sat on a log and rocked a little in the attempt to keep herself awake. Gndr and Strn already laid out on their blankets, and if not asleep, they were near enough.

Wlvn shifted in his seat. “What I am saying is I don’t know if I will kill the Titan or be killed. If I fail, and that seems likely, I asked the gods to take you to safety, but I don’t know that they will, and I would hate to see you trapped in hopelessness. Wlkn, if you and Elleya decide to follow the river to the sea, no one will blame you. And Badl, if you and Moriah want to make for Movan Mountain, that would be fine.”

“I’m going,” Brmr repeated herself.

Wlvn nodded for her. “I want my family with me, even if it means putting them in danger. I think it is a danger we need to face as a family. But the rest of you—”

“The rest of us,” Laurel interrupted. “It is up to us. And I am not leaving as long as I can maybe help.  If there is danger, that just makes it like the rest of the journey.”

“And the Journey isn’t over yet,” Boritz also repeated himself, and Andrea scooted in close and took his arm.

Wlvn gave his wife a kiss. “Shana won’t leave either,” he said and stood to walk away. “Brmr, go to bed,” he added even as Wlkn said the same thing. Brmr groused but got her blanket ready beside the boys.

Vrya met Wlvn just out of sight and earshot from the camp. Wlvn had tears in his eyes, and she waited patiently for Wlvn to speak. “I am crying for the people who have lived for so long in slavery and absolute hopelessness,” he said.

“It has been going on for a long time,” Vrya confirmed.

“No, not entirely. I am crying for my mother and father whose lives were consumed by Loki and the Titan and the Gott-Druk.” Vrya said nothing, so Wlvn asked what was on his heart and mind. “Will you go with us tomorrow into the land of abomination?” Before she could answer, he added a thought. “The truth is I am crying because I am afraid”

“I understand,” Vrya said. “And I will go with you in your heart, but I cannot go in the way you see me now. I have helped Brmr so she can stay on her horse, even if you need to run, and also your wife will be safe riding with Brmr so you can be free to ride if necessary. But from here on, it is up to you. I can do no more.”

“Before you leave.” Wlvn spoke quickly. “A question please.”

“One question,” She responded with a smile.

“Are there more night creatures and zombies that may disturb us in the night?”

“The night creatures that used to walk the perimeter have not been replaced, and the living dead have been shut down. Loki overstepped himself there in appealing to his daughter Hellas for help.”

“And what about the Gott-Druk?”

Vrya stood. “You have had your one question, but you don’t need me to tell you how stupid and stubborn the Gott-Druk can be,” and she vanished from that place.


In the morning, no one remembered or realized the goddess was not with them, and Wlvn opted not to tell them. He figured it would not go over well, psychologically, if they all thought the goddess abandoned them. So instead, he got ready in silence. He helped Shana up on the horse Brmr rode, as the goddess suggested, and when he got up on Thred’s back, he simply turned and walked his horse toward the woods.

Gndr and Strn fell in beside Brmr and Shana. The others followed, making a slow and silent line of horses, like a funeral procession. Even Elleya had nothing to say that morning, and it was in this solemn way they came to the edge of Wlvn’s village by midafternoon. Wlvn felt something most curious as he stopped and looked ahead to the abandoned huts and barns he once called home. He felt homesick. It felt odd to miss a place that he imagined he despised worse than any place he would ever despise, even if he lived a hundred lifetimes.

Gndr and Strn moved up to the front along with Wlkn and Elleya. The boys looked ready to ride ahead and dismount in front of the house where they were raised, but Wlvn had a bad feeling about the quiet, and he said so.

“Stay with the group and stay on horseback. The village has been abandoned so you won’t find your friends here. Besides, I smell the work of the fires from heaven.” As he looked more closely, he saw numerous scorch marks from the use of high radiation weapons. A few of the homes were burnt to the ground.

“Lord,” Badl spoke. “I can smell the Gott-Druk from here, but I don’t know if they are present, or it is just the leftover smell from the last time they came through.”

“Wlkn. Boys. I will go into the village first and alone to see what I can see. You keep everyone here. Do you know the path from here that skirts the village and leads eventually to the road to the center of the universe?” Both Wlkn and the boys said they knew the path. “Good. If the village is safe, I will call you to join me. If it is not safe, you will know. Escape by way of the path that leads to the road and make a camp for the night where you can watch the road but not be seen. I will get there when I can.”

“Wlvn.” Shana reached out for him in her concern.

Wlvn leaned over and took and kissed her hand. “I will be fine. I think they want me alive, but I think they will just kill all of you as unnecessary baggage.” He let go quickly and rode into the village before they could ask any more questions. He wondered if that was why Mother Vrya left as quickly as she did in the night.

Wlvn, dressed in his armor with his weapons close to hand, paused at the edge of the first house, not sure. Badl had been correct. Something did not smell right. The village certainly looked deserted, but it felt impossible to say what might be lurking in one of the unburnt houses or behind the trees that surrounded the dwellings. Wlvn’s village nestled in the trees, as far from the center of the universe as possible. The fields they cleared and farmed were back in the woods or along the road.

Wlvn patted Thred’s neck. The horse seemed anxious, no doubt smelling home, so Wlvn let Thred lead him into the open space at the center of the village. They stopped there. It turned out as Wlvn expected. Six Gott-Druk stepped out from the houses and trees to surround him. They probably picked up their movement on a long-range scanner and tracked them. The Gott-Druk Captain stood out front, a radiation weapon in his hand, and he spoke.

“They want you alive, but I would not mind if you tried to escape.”

“Why should I escape when you will take me where I want to go?” Wlvn only then noticed the Gott-Druk shuttle camouflaged among the trees. “But you know the Elenar are coming. After nineteen years at near light speed, they ought to be here by now.”

“Bah,” the captain said. “They are not coming. You are a liar.”

“Huh,” Wlvn responded. “Why do liars think that everyone is lying?”

The captain turned red and showed his unnaturally sharpened teeth. “I can always just say you tried to escape.” He fired. Wlvn got knocked from his horse, but the shield Frigga gave him protected him from harm. It would take more than a high radiation weapon to break through the shield of the goddess. Thred, however, had no such protection. Half of his face and his foreleg became dust and the horse fell to lie there smelling of burnt flesh and death.

Wlvn got pissed but paused at the sound overhead. A two-man Elenar fighter got attracted to the energy discharge. The first shot from the fighter turned the captain to a cinder. Wlvn only wondered if the captain had time to admit he was wrong before he died. Two more Gott-Druk were killed even as they scattered for the trees. Then the Elenar fighter backed off as the Gott-Druk shuttle sprang to life. Gott-Druk shuttles carried a powerful main weapon. Wlvn wondered why the fighter did not try to take it out while it sat grounded and vulnerable. His question got answered when he saw the Elenar cruiser coming in overhead. He did not want to be there when the cruiser melted the shuttle and set the forest on fire.

He ran at super speed and stayed to the road where he sometimes took to flight. When he reached the spot where the road joined the path around the village, he sped into the woods and stopped. He found a place where they could watch the road, be covered by the trees from overhead, and have something of a clearing in which to sleep. He figured he was the first to arrive. He waited for the horses. Then he was surprised to see only Laurel, Shana, Brmr and the boys. Brmr shouted to him before he could hush her.

“Wlkn has taken the others to another village to get help.” Wlvn got his little sister down with a hand pasted across her mouth. He helped Shana down and then wondered what help Wlkn thought he might get from another village, or even villages.

“I wished him luck.” Laurel spoke quietly. “He said whether they succeed or fail, the time had come to stop living in hopelessness.”

“Revolution!” Shana added, and Wlvn kissed her, happy to see her safe. But then he had to add a thought of his own.

“Wlkn has the least courage of anyone I know. A year ago, he would have run away from his own shadow. Succeed or fail, can I do less?” Shana just held him, one hand on her tummy.

“I am very full,” she said. “It is a wonder if I don’t go into labor right now.”

Wlvn nodded. He thought to make them move down the road in the night, under the cover of darkness, but instead, he decided to let them rest.

“No fire. No food unless Laurel knows of something. But we will rest for a time.”

The horses got tied off. Laurel did know something they could at least chew on. But it got very dark that night, as much from the clouds and fires of battle as from the night. Brmr did not stay up, but she had uneasy dreams. Laurel promised to watch the road. Wlvn watched the path and the forest, and Shana held on to him until she fell asleep, her head on his lap. Gndr and Strn, free of the watchful eye of the goddess, had questions which they asked through their yawns. Gndr especially asked about the Titan since he had seen Ymir, however briefly. He cried and thought of Wlvn as going to certain death. Strn cried with him, sure that they were all going to die.

Well before dawn, Wlvn woke everyone and got them mounted. Laurel took Brmr on Brmr’s horse so Wlvn could ride Number Two. Shana held on to Wlvn as well as she could, and she tried not to cry when the late afternoon arrived, and they came in sight of the great dome at the center of the universe.

Reflections Wlvn-14 part 1 of 3

Wlvn hugged Raini goodbye while a few golden teardrops fell from Mother Vrya’s eyes to glisten in the sunlight at her feet. Raini stepped back then, because she knew it had past time for her visitors to go. Vrya nodded and tried to smile. She clapped her hands, twice, and Wlvn and all his companions along with their horses vanished from that hillside village and reappeared hundreds of miles to the east, on the edge of a broad meadow. A big fire, a virtual bonfire roared on the other side of a small stream that meandered gently through the grasses. People could be seen in the distance. They sat around the fire and talked quietly, like they were ready to hold a meeting, and only waiting for the presentation to arrive.

“Stay here,” Vrya spoke to the group as she took hold of Wlvn’s hand. The others could not exactly see the people by the fire, but they had to feel something. No one argued. Even the horses kept to their side of the stream.

Vrya brought Wlvn over the running water and to the fire where Wlvn got a good look at who sat waiting and had a good guess on who they were waiting for. He watched Vrya as she went to sit beside her brother Vry and her father Njord. Baldur and Nana were seated on a log to Wlvn’s right. The other four were across the fire. It was Frigga and Odin, with Thor and Tyr beside their parents. Wlvn stared at Odin, the god who would one day be his grandfather. It took a moment to figure out what was wrong. Odin still had two perfectly good eyes, and no eye patch. It looked like Odin got ready to speak, but Wlvn spoke first.

“How did this abomination happen?” Wlvn went to one knee and traded places through time to let the Nameless god kneel in his place. Nameless added one word to his question. “Grandfather?” Then he looked down at the ground to humbly await an answer. Nameless knew that Wlvn would hear whatever he heard, and maybe the assembled gods knew it as well, but it felt important to appear as one of the gods. No strictly human ears should hear how badly the gods screwed up.

Odin examined Nameless with inscrutable eyes before he opened his mouth. “I promised.” He stood and confessed. “He is Ymir, the grandson of Ymir and the last of the blood. In the first days, we drove the giants back to their place and the slaughter was terrible. All of the family of Ymir was destroyed but this one. He feared for his life, but as a sign of grace and peace, I promised. No god would take his life, or disable him, or cause him injury, or stand against him in the way he chose to live until the end of days. Now, he has built this desolate world and enslaved the humans that we were made to test and try and protect.”

“The gods don’t make promises, and for this very good reason,” Nameless said.

Odin put a hand to his beard, a rich brown colored beard, and not at all white. “Yes. So it has been told that you have said this. Where did you hear this bit of wisdom?”

“From you, Grandfather.” Nameless looked up. “Or I will hear it from you after many centuries in the future, after you seek and find great wisdom. In that day, you will see all things in a different way. I can say no more.” Nameless swallowed. The gods sometimes shared insights with certain mortals, but no one but the Kairos shared such insights with the gods.

Frigga reached up to help Odin back to his seat. “But will you do the thing you have promised?” she asked.

Nameless went away again so Wlvn could return to his own time and place. “I did not promise,” he said. “But it is my intention and I pledge to give it my best try. I may fail. I may die.”

“That is why I gave you strength enough to stand up to that monster,” Thor spoke first.

“Indeed.” Wlvn looked around the assembly. “I am grateful for all of the gifts that all of you have given me, but I don’t see how I can use them against the Titan. You promised the power of the gods would not be turned against Ymir to do him harm, and are these gifts not the power of the gods? Besides, I have been counted among the gods even though I am mostly just a normal, mortal human. No one knows exactly what that means, to be counted among the gods, but maybe it means I cannot harm the Titan any more than you can.”

“But you will try.” Baldur spoke up and took Nana’s hand. Clearly, they had Eir on their mind.

Wlvn nodded. “I will try.” Wlvn got to his feet and glanced back at his group. “But before I can try, you must answer three questions.” He needed clarification. “First, I have three companions that do not qualify—five if we include the mermaid and my own swan wife. Wlkn is young as the result of Ydunna’s carelessness. He tasted the golden apples of the gods. Boritz retains some of the blood of Perun, and his mate, Andrea is Greek, not native to this world. Those that remain are my little ones. You did not promise that my little ones or any weapon forged by their great skill would not harm the Titan, did you?”

“No such promise was made,” Tyr answered with a look at his father, who made no correction.

“Second,” Wlvn went straight on. “You need to keep Loki out of the fight.” He paused, because he expected a response. Apparently, everyone thought to pause until Odin spoke.

“Now, he is really not such a bad fellow.”

“I’ll stop him. I’ll keep him out. I’ll do it.” Thor, Tyr and Vry all spoke together.

“It will be my pleasure,” Baldur said with a determination in his voice that quieted the others. Wlvn looked at the father of Eir and knew this was the beginning of bad blood between the two. Loki stealing the baby, holding the young girl’s childhood hostage was unforgiveable. Wlvn knew that Loki would one day trick Baldur into losing his life, but he dared not say anything. His job was to keep history on track, not change it, no matter how much he might want to see it turn out different.

“What is the third thing?” Nana changed the subject in the face of her husband’s understated fury.

“I need my family back.” He turned to face Mother Vrya. “We are going home. We need to all go home together and face the future as a family.” He glanced back at his motley followers. “I suppose a few more horses would not hurt, if there is some way to sneak a few out of enemy controlled territory.”

“And the question?”

Wlvn nodded. “I ask, if I die, but my family survives, please take them and my friends to freedom and do not leave them in the land of hopelessness.”

“How is this not a promise?” Odin asked. He had clearly been thinking about it.

“Because it is a one-time thing. A promise is forever. Call it a pledge if you will. If all that you promised Ymir was a pledge for as long as the season of grace and peace lasted, that season could have come to an end years ago.” Wlvn did not wait for an answer to his third question. He turned to walk off, but Thor interrupted.

“What about the women? Have you selected one to wife, or would you like them all?”

“I believe the women have all paired off with other men, and I already have a wonderful wife. Trust me, one wife is about all an ordinary man can handle.” The men grinned, except Thor who didn’t get it. To be sure, Baldur and Odin tried not to grin too hard. The women looked like they were trying to decide if they were complimented or insulted.

Mother Vrya walked with Wlvn. “An interesting thing to say.”

“Flern just married Kined in my memory of the future,” Wlvn said. “She better be his one and only wife.”

Vrya slowly smiled. “You are my son even when you are not my son,” she said.

Badl and Moriah had a fire going and something cooking. Wlkn smiled. Andrea shook her head while Brmr and Elleya appeared to be in a talking contest. Strn and Gndr sat on a log, a bit off to the side, and kept one eye on Boritz. They looked excited on seeing Wlvn, but quickly put their hands in their laps when they caught sight of Vrya.

“I better ride with Brmr,” Vrya said. “She is not the best horsewoman, and neither am I, but I can keep us up on the horse’s back.”

Wlvn nodded and went to hug his wife who stayed out of the way. Brmr saw and shouted. “Wlvn!” She got between them. “My baby brother is going to be a big one,” she said and laid a gentle hand on Shana’s tummy.

“Not brother. Nephew, or maybe niece.” Wlvn looked at Vrya. She raised one eyebrow but said nothing.

Reflections Wlvn-13 part 3 of 3

Two days later, Wlvn explained to Raini about Kartesh, the life that came after Faya and before him. He talked about the dragons since Shana brought it up again, and the alarm sounded. Something came trudging up from below and Raini hardly needed a glimpse before she announced what it was. “An ice giant.” The ice giants were lesser Titans in the way Kartesh got made into a lesser goddess and charged with overseeing the relationship between humanity and the space faring Agdaline. A lesser Titan would not be a threat to a true god, but a demi-goddess, in particular an ancient one, and even a lesser goddess like Kartesh might be in trouble. And this one stood tall enough to look over the stockade. It looked bigger than the Cyclops, and it did not look nearly as friendly.

Wlvn cried out. “Carpasis and Sylvan, I need you.” He did not imagine the oreads would bother with him, but to his surprise they both showed up in an instant. They hugged Raini besides, as they were old friends. “Thank you Carpasis for being so kind to come, and Sylvan, thank you especially for the use of your chamber and your bed.” Raini raised an eyebrow at that, but Shana understood as did the oread. Wlvn gave Shana a peck on the lips, and she spoke.

“Who is it this time?”

Wlvn disappeared and Kartesh showed up because she had an idea. “Talk to it,” she said. “Just stall it for a bit and I will bring a pet for the lovely oreads to keep.”

Sylvan had her hand stretched out toward Kartesh and mouthed the words, “lesser goddess.”

Carpasis got more to the point. “A pet for me?”

“Yes, but one you will have to be careful with. They can be very dangerous.”

Carpasis smiled ever so slightly and looked at Raini. “No boredom in a little danger,” she said.

“I’ll be back,” Kartesh shared the smile and vanished from that place.

She arrived in Egypt in the mountains that sheltered the Great River from the worst of the desert storms. She let her senses fan out and soon found what she came for. She knew something of the story when Wlvn talked about her to Shana and Laurel. She remembered more when Wlvn talked to Raini. It happened in her last days, when Egypt became no longer a safe place for her to be. It remained unsafe. Set still hated her, but she hoped to fetch her prize and be on her way before Set discovered her presence.

Kartesh vanished again and appeared in some long-abandoned troll caves. She found a main chamber near the surface, and there she found the beast. The dragon was eating its mother, saved for last no doubt. Kartesh knew that the people nearby, with the help of the gods, killed the mother and all of her babies, but they missed one—one that had now turned nearly two hundred years old. That became old enough to be hard to control, but still young enough to be controlled with the right words and maybe with repetition it might yet be trained.

“Child,” Kartesh spoke sharply in the Agdaline tongue. “Attend me. No fire. Do no harm.” The creature left off eating for a minute and turned its head 180 degrees to stare at the lesser goddess. “Come. I have work for you,” Kartesh said, and the dragon left its mother and slithered up to face Kartesh. Kartesh felt pleased. The dragon appeared to be a big brute.

“I see,” someone said. “It is the words of the creatures from space that control it.” Set appeared and Kartesh took an involuntary step back.

“How did you find me, and so quickly?”

“You did not think you could come into my land without my knowing it. Curious, though, I heard you were dead.”

“I did die, some years ago. But I do get around in time, and as far as it goes, it is not your land. This land belongs to your brother, Osiris.” Kartesh stalled, though maybe it was not so wise to bring up the reason Set hated her. Still, she did not know what else to do. She feared she might die again when Set got done with her, but then it turned out he was not the only one who noticed her arrival.

“Amun!” Set said the word as he looked over Kartesh’s shoulder. Kartesh merely felt the presence.

“Go, my daughter.” Amun said. “I will hold this one in check for the moment.”

“Papi Amun,” Kartesh got the word out and even a little curtsey before she vanished and took the dragon with her.

When Kartesh and the dragon arrived, she saw Sylvan and Carpasis had called up several great slabs of stone to brace the stockade against the ice giant. He pounded on the stockade and whole logs were being ripped away. He roared. Raini roared right back and stabbed out at him with a long spear, but it looked like a bee stinging a bear. The ice giant hardly felt it. He also felt none of the arrows of Moriah and Laurel. They just bounced off his icy skin. Boritz had his club, and Badl had his ax at the ready in case the giant broke in. Wlkn had the women back from the action. In all, it looked like a real battle, but one that would be over as soon as the ice giant finished breaking in.

Both Kartesh and her dragon took to the air, and Kartesh gave explicit instructions. “Attack with fire and claw and when you are done, come back to me.” The dragon responded like a faithful puppy dog, albeit a pit bull, and on the first burst of flame, the ice giant’s face began to melt. It knew this was a real threat. It raised its hands and icicles sprayed the dragon. They crashed and shattered against the dragon’s armored chest without penetrating. A couple put holes in the dragon’s wings, but that just made the worm angry.

A second spray of fire got followed by a frontal assault. The worm’s stunted claws went for the giant’s face while its mouth snapped at the shoulder. Kartesh knew from the future that a dragon’s teeth and jaws could snap a steel lance in two. No surprise when the dragon came away with the ice giant’s arm.

The ice giant turned, but that just presented its back to the fire. It took a few more breaths, but in the end, the terrible giant got reduced to a puddle of water. The dragon only looked sorry that after all that work, he had nothing left to eat. It came back to Kartesh and whined while it settled in to wait. Kartesh reached her mind into the wilderness, found a nice fat, wild cow and gave it to the dragon for a treat. Then she tried to speak quickly because she knew the beast would not wait long.

“This pet fires my heart,” Carpasis shouted. “Like the river of red that runs beneath my snow-covered peaks.”

“It is magnificent,” Sylvan agreed. “I get a turn.” She looked at her sister.

“But what is it?” Raini floated down from her position by the wall to join them.

“Listen.” Kartesh insisted on their attention. “It is a dragon and almost too old to train. You must guide it every day until it becomes used to your voice and your commands. It is still young enough to respond to simple commands in the Agdaline tongue.” And she thought through many of the Agdaline commands in a way where Carpasis and Sylvan could catch the words from her mind. “Now, don’t let it up on the Were plateau. Feed it only deer and other animals of the forest. If it is let loose, it will seek out sheep and even men to eat. Better if it never tastes men so it never recognizes them as a food source. Give it a deep cave and fill it with nuggets of copper, tin, gold, and silver, and precious stones. That is how they nest, on the hard, shiny metal. Treat it well and it should live another eight hundred years at least.”

“Child,’ Kartesh turned to the dragon. “These are your mothers now. Listen to them.” She moved Carpasis and Sylvan to the front so the dragon could stick its head out to sniff them while they petted its head and scratched behind the ears which the dragon apparently loved. Then the three of them vanished and Kartesh vanished as well when Wlvn came home. Raini immediately reached out to hug him.

“Oh, thank you,” she said. “That was wonderful even if it did not last long.” She wept for joy, but Wlvn felt relief.

“The ice giant could only have been sent by Loki. No way he can blame the Titan for that one.”

“Quite right.” They heard the voice behind them only this time it was not Set. Vrya appeared, and she hugged her daughter Raini. No one who did not know would imagine the young one was the mother and the ancient one was her daughter. Raini just cried all the more as her joy became full and Vrya did her best to offer her comfort and not cry over a daughter she knew she would soon lose.



The conclusion of Wlvn’s story. The confession of the gods and the final showdown with the Titan. Until then, Happy Reading.