R6 Greta: The Swamp of Sorrows, part 2 of 3

Greta looked hard at Lucius before she continued. “It was by trick, and with some help, I got Mithras out of the land of the dead.  He faced down Baal again, and this time he won, and Baal got sent over to the other side, and the world was saved, Hooray!  But Mithras got badly broken.  At the time, I had no idea how badly broken he was, but you know, I had a different life too, at that point in history.  Lydia had other worries, like her own husband and children, and trying to get the Han and Roman ambassadors to meet and peacefully discuss trade rather than posture from too much testosterone.”

“And Mithras did not volunteer to go over to the other side after his task was done,” Treeborn interjected.

“No,” Greta nodded.  “He went to Apollo.”

“The sun god?”  Hermes breathed.

“Yes, but Apollo, father of Aesculapius, was also a great healer.  He helped Mithras heal, though Mithras was technically dead, but Apollo could not heal the brokenness.  Apollo went over to the other side, and I wept for him.  He took his sister, Artemis, and I still weep for her because she is my best friend in the whole world, forever.  But Mithras would not go.  Instead, he fell apart.  Seven pieces of him formed themselves like a new pantheon of gods.  There is the Raven Mercury; the Nymphus Venus, Mithrasis as she calls herself; the Soldier Mars who has brought many into submission, including the Wolv; and I no longer think the Wolv are being controlled by Mithrasis. Then there is the Lion-headed man with the serpent at his feet, which is Jupiter, the judge; the Persian who is the moon and the stars, a powerful person of Magic who carries the sickle of death and rules the scorpion of the sky; Helios, the sun-runner, a demon who holds the whip of the fire of the Sun; and the Pater, Saturn, the father of them all.” Greta stopped talking, and it took a moment before anyone dared ask another question.  It was Bogus in the end.

“And what are we supposed to do about them?”

“We have to kill them, to finish the job.”  Greta spoke in a very flat voice.  “Anyone who wants is welcome to quit and go home.” Greta pulled up her blanket and laid back down where she would not have to look at them.  She was serious.  She would not blame them if the whole gang just left her to her fate.

###

Another day later, they still moved in and out of the trees.  The steppes, Greta recalled, were not necessarily endless grasslands.  Just before four in the morning on the third day, about an hour and a half before sunrise, reports came in that enemies had been sighted on the treeless section they had to cross, both to the left and to the right.  The horsemen to the left were likely Scythians.  They were the people with the sun symbols on their tunics. The horsemen to the right were the Dacians from the other day, heavily reinforced if the report proved correct.

“That is a pickle,” Hermes said.  “And when we are almost there.”

“We try to cross to the swamp and we will be crushed between the hammer and the anvil,” Briana suggested, and Alesander praised her.

“Good image.”

“We cross now,” Greta said, without a second thought.  “Pack the camp and be quick.”  She called for the fairy King.  “Treeborn, I need two volunteers, and they must be genuine volunteers because I cannot say they will come back alive.  And not you.” Treeborn’s face fell.  He thought of being one of the two.  It took a moment before two old warriors of the fee arrived, and she instructed them one at a time.

“Go seek out the chief of the Scythians and tell him the followers of the Lion, Jupiter are across the field.  Tell him the Lady and her quest will be crossing the field at dawn and point out to him that the favor and reward of Mithras cannot be shared, and then get out of there and come back to join us, and turn your natural light down so they cannot follow you with their eyes.”  The message became the same for the Dacian chief, but to suggest that the worshipers of Helios, the sun-runner were going to get the prize first if the Dacians did not move to stop them.

“Ready.”  Grassly stepped up to Greta.  Mavis had her medical bag, and Greta put it on her shoulder, over her head, and looked to see that her blanket got picked up.

“Time to move,” Alesander said, and Greta felt glad the Romans had the discipline to break camp quickly.

“Vedix and Bogus out front,” Greta said.  “Fee to the left and gnomes to the right. Come on Stinky.”

Moving as fast as they could during that hour and a half of darkness got them half-way across the field.  Then the sun touched the horizon.  They heard the horses, and should have been plain as day to the riders, but the fairies and gnomes put up a powerful glamour to make the people appear like bushes blowing in the wind, and all but invisible to the human eye. The horses pounded the earth in a full charge and Greta, and several others yelled.  “Don’t stop.  Keep going.”

Greta avoided screaming when the Dacians rode through their line.  The horses were able to sense the people and the mule and managed to avoid them, but it felt terrifying to be in the way of a cavalry charge.  A great roar split the air when the Dacians and Scythians met, fifty yards off.  Greta and her group kept moving.

They were a thousand yards from the forest at the edge of the swamps when thirty Scythians, still on horseback, and some fifty Dacians, mostly on foot, moved to cut them off from their goal.  It seemed someone woke up and remembered what they were there for, and Greta felt out of options.  The group stopped moving

“Shields on,” Alesander yelled, and the five who had shields clicked the button on their wrist-watches.

“Nudd, stay behind me,” Greta grabbed the boy and pulled him back while everyone got out their bows and swords.  They walked forward, slowly, while the Scythians got down from their horses and pulled their own bows and swords.

A volley of arrows came from the Dacians who were off to the side, in the direction of the battle.  The arrows missed or bounced off the shielding, and one bounced off Greta’s chain mailed breast and would leave a slight bruise.  Stinky bucked as one arrow grazed his flank.  Fortunately, a second volley did not follow as the Dacians charged.  Treeborn’s fairies raced out to meet the Dacians after the men only took a few steps, and they sped around the heads of the men until the Dacians began to get dizzy. Then they backed off as the gnomes stepped up.

The gnomes stood only two and three feet tall, but with their fairy weave clothing they were all but impossible to see in the tall grass.  That negated any advantage the men might have had due to size and reach, and it gave the gnome’s long knives a field day.

When the fairies backed off a few yards, they took on their big form and looked resplendent in the morning sun.  They were man sized, but wore armor and breastplates that glistened in the sun.  They began to walk forward in formation, and the Dacians decided it was not worth the effort.  Soldiers were disappearing into the grass as three and four gnomes took down one after another.  Now faced with these fairy warriors, the Dacians wisely turned and fled.

Meanwhile, the Scythians ranged themselves between the people and the swamp woods.  They looked ready to charge the oncoming group as Greta and her people walked slowly forward, but the Scythians paused when Treeborn and a half-dozen fairies landed in front of the group and took on their big size.  Grassly and a dozen gnomes stepped up with the fairies and made themselves visible.  Greta knew, unless the Scythians concentrated on them, her group still looked like bushes blowing in the wind.  But when the Scythians caught sight of what happened to the Dacians, the got back up on their horses.

“Ready for a cavalry charge,” Alesander yelled and the soldiers, Briana and Mavis made sure they had their bows and arrows ready. Greta thought she had suffered the better part of valor, and Festuscato complained so loudly that it was his turn, she just had to oblige.

“Stay behind me,” Greta told Nudd in her own voice before she went away and let Festuscato fill her boots.  He came with the helmet of Mars and all the weapons any unreasonable person might need.  He also held tight to his bow, a bow that sadly had seen plenty of action.  Mavis stepped up beside him, determination on her face.  She looked ready to die beside her mistress, even if her mistress was a man at present.

The Scythians had spears which they lowered in Samartian fashion, like Arthur and his lancers, and they were well disciplined to wait until the others crossed most of the ground on foot. They looked ready to charge when a horse and rider got tossed twenty feet through the air to land in a lump on the ground.  The Scythians started to scream, and Nudd joined them, but he only screamed once before he closed his eyes.  A whole family of ogres came tumbling out of the swamp-woods behind the horsemen.

Scythian bows and arrows were of no use at such close range.  Swords cut the ogres, but not bad or deep into their rock-hard skin, so that only made the ogres mad.  The spears were all pointed the wrong way, and when the Scythians tried to turn around to get some weight behind their spear thrust, the horses knew better and ran.

It was all over very quickly.  A dozen Scythians were down and torn up, several with their heads popped from their shoulders.  Three horses had to be put down, and the gnomes got terribly upset by that.  In fact, Grassly and his people were ready to attack the ogres right then for their carelessness, and would have if Greta did not return and yell.

“Grassly.  Take your people home and leave the ogres alone.”  She yelled to the ogre father.  “Bonebreaker, take the horses and take your family home, now.  Take your family home.”  She repeated it because ogres were not always quick to get the message.  Greta never would have been heard by people with all the yelling and screaming and thundering horses, but Greta knew her little ones would hear her loud and clear, and she hoped they heard the determination in her voice.  “Thank you Grassly.  Thank you Treeborn and Goldenrod,” she added and walked toward the tree line, Mavis beside her and Nudd stumbling behind.  Mavis had reached out and grabbed Nudd’s hand to pull him along, since he still had his eyes closed.

“And you were?”  Mavis asked quietly.

“Festuscato, Senator of Rome, and he felt disappointed that there was not a good fight.  Even now he is arguing that the turn did not count because he did not get to do anything.”

“Indeed?”

“He is weird,” Greta said.  “And a future me.”

They paused the conversation as they stepped among the trees and the morning sun faded and then vanished altogether, hidden above the canopy.

R6 Greta: The Lake of Gold, part 3 of 3

Some fairies came from the woods and the lake with all sorts of things to cook on the fire and share for supper.  Most of it was vegetables and fruit, but also some fish, well filleted.  They had warm bread that steamed when broken open in the air, and a fine wine that Alesander called excellent.  It seemed a good contrast to the hearty brew of the dwarfs and the light, amber ale of the elves.

Most of the fairies remained hidden, both in the evening and in the next morning, but a couple of fairies took on their big size to do the cooking.  Greta thought that was good and she felt grateful because if she tried to cook that fine food, she determined that she would just mess it up.  Hermes paid attention to what the fairies did to prepare the feast, and so Mavis paid attention, but the rest were content to wait, and more content when supper got served.

As the sun set, King Treeborn and Queen Goldenrod came in their big form to sit by the fire and talk.  Young Prince, Waterborn had been put to bed, but Goldenrod admitted that he spied on them from the reeds.  Lots of fee watched, especially the young ones.  The travelers looked all around, but confessed if they were not told, they would have imagined they were alone beside the lake.

“In the morning, we will head out for the swamp.” Treeborn talked to Alesander and the other men, though around the campfire sort of got spoken to everyone. “That will be about two days the way you folks travel, even moving by secret ways, but we will watch all the way to insure your safe arrival.”  Alesander thanked the king and the king grinned and nodded as if to say it was the least they could do.

Greta and Goldenrod talked about children with Mavis being all ears and Briana not wanting to miss what the men were saying, but interested in what the women were talking about.

“I never thought much about children before,” Briana confessed.

“And how many will you and young Alesander have?” Goldenrod asked, and Briana turned red.  She could not disguise such a thing as love from a fairy.

“I think that is supposed to be a secret,” Mavis said, in a voice meant to be a whisper but loud enough for all of the women to hear.

Goldenrod looked down.  “My apologies.”

“Think nothing of it,” Greta smiled for Briana as much as for Goldenrod.  “They are not fooling anyone.  Even us clunker humans can see it as plain as day.” She turned to Briana who only turned redder and would not look at her, and Greta explained.  “Love in the fairy world is not the complicated mess we humans have made it.  When a male and a female like each other, they are friends, plain and simple.  Then one says, “You are my heart.”  And the other says, “You are my heart,” and that is it. They marry and they usually have children, though to be sure, the little ones reproduce slowly.”

“So, what say you?” Mavis asked Briana the question that Greta would not touch.

Briana finally turned scarlet, but whispered, “He is my heart.”

“There,” Goldenrod smiled, and reached for Briana’s hand which Briana slowly gave as she looked up.  “Doesn’t that feel better?”

“But what if I am not his heart?” Briana asked.

“Very sad,” Goldenrod said.  “It is not unknown, and sometimes fairies pout for a whole day, even two whole days.  But in this case, I can tell you that you have nothing to worry about.  It is plain on his face that you are the only one he wants to be with.”

Briana took back her hand to touch her cheek. Her scarlet embarrassment turned to a true blush as her eyes wandered to the other side of the fire.  “But you need to tell him,” Greta added.

“You’re an elect.  You can beat him up if he gets stupid,” Bogus said as he dashed his wine on the fire to fill his cup with plain water.

“Bogus!”  Greta, Mavis and Goldenrod all scolded him, but he merely shrugged.

“I have a bone or two to pick,” Bogus said, and he sat where he could take in both Greta and Goldenrod.  He started right in.  “You made me and mine give up the free space we had east of the Bear Clan River. It was only a little space between the river and the road, but you said the time for separate places was over. But here, we have been to a protected elf village, we are sitting in a protected fairy nest, and we are going to a swamp full of dark elves who I am sure have their own place as well.  What gives?”

“Bogus.”  Greta tried to keep the sharpness out of her voice.  “I explained.  This world belongs to the human race now.  You were crowding the people of the Bear Clan and keeping them out of land that was rightfully theirs.  Presently, men have not moved into the swampland, and won’t for some time.  The goblins are keeping it from no one. Likewise, these fine fairies live in a very small and unobtrusive area.  They are preventing no one from using the land or the lake.  Then the elves live some distance from the nearest humans, but I imagine as the humans move up into the hills beneath the Carpathian Mountains, the elves will move further and further up the land until Miroven itself may be revived.”

“Miroven.”  King Treeborn raised his voice from the other side of the fire.  “There is a name of legend.”

“Indeed,” Goldenrod said.  “But I wonder, young Bogus, who might your mother be?”

Bogus paused.  He did not expect that question.  “Willow,” he said, and wisely listened.  It took some time to figure out which Willow, because Goldenrod knew three of them, but at last, it got determined Bogus’ Willow went with the snow fairies that moved up to the Ural Mountains more than a hundred years ago and now lived in the land of the Lavars, whom King Treeborn called a brutal and savage people.  The fairies had very nice things to say about Bogus’ mother, and Bogus sat quietly for the rest of the night.

“So, who are these Lavars?” Hermes asked.

“People that Rome does not know,” Greta answered. She grinned at her own thoughts, but as usual she had to explain.  “The Germanic tribes are moving west.  Already the emperor is having a hard time holding the Rhine, the western border of the Empire.  It is only going to get worse in the next couple of hundred years, but meanwhile, other people have moved into the east here, to fill the empty spaces.  All the many tribes of Scythians like the Lazyges and Samartians have moved into the plains above the Danube and around the Mountains of Dacia, which Rome currently holds as an enclave in Scythian land. But the northern half of those old German lands, the old lands of Aesgard, are being filled with Slavs, pouring out of the east and Siberia, and eventually they will settle down to farm and build towns and villages.”

“What are Slahbs?” Alesander asked.

“Lucius is a slob,” Greta said, and did not explain. “But the Slavic people are Indo-European remnants from the east around the Caspian and west of the Aral Sea, kind of a loosely defined people, and right now, like King Treeborn described them, they are savage and brutal.  They have pushed from the Ural Mountains to the Baltic Sea and into Belarus.  They are leaking into Poland and will one-day push down to the Danube, but for now, the Scythian-Iranian stock own the Ukraine. The Scythians won’t be pushed out until there is a back-up at the Rhine and South becomes the escape valve for the Goths and others.”

No one spoke for a moment because they were not sure they understood all she said, but then Alesander grasped at something. “Are you saying the Germanic Goths will one day push to the Danube and into Dacia?”

“They will swallow Dacia whole, but not for a couple hundred years.”

“Sounds like a game my brothers used to play when we were young,” Nudd said.  “We would set up bricks in lines and knock the first one down which knocked down the next and the next until the whole line got knocked down.”

“What was the point of that?” Lucius asked.

Nudd shrugged.  “Fun?”

“Dominoes,” Greta called it.  “That image is used for more than a thousand years, and not a bad image.  The Scythians push the Germans, the Slavs push them both.  The Germans get backed up by the Roman wall at the Rhine and curve south to where they push back at the Scythians.  But then the Huns will come out of the Caucasus Mountains and overrun everybody, but that won’t be for a long time.”

“And to think, we get to go into the middle of all this pushing and shoving,” Briana said.

“Expect everyone we meet to be on enemy thinking unless we can prove friendship in some way.” Alesander nodded.

“Like running the gauntlet,” Hermes said, and Lucius laughed at that thought for some reason.

“I’m more worried about the Wolv,” Nudd said.

“Me too,” Greta agreed.

“They won’t come here,” King Treeborn insisted. “This area is covered by a magical dome that makes all who are inside invisible.”

“The Wolv found their way into Movan Mountain,” Hermes pointed out and Mavis nodded vigorously.

“They have air ships,” Greta explained for the fairies.  “And there is no telling what natural magic their instruments might penetrate from the air. My only hope is this group is about the size of a typical Scythian or Dacian or German hunting group and so the Wolv might have a time trying to figure out which group is ours.”

“Slim hope,” Lucius popped that balloon, and everyone sat and sulked for a minute.

“Well, at least the humans won’t come here with all their pushing and shoving,” King Treeborn spoke into the silence, and Alesander added a thought.

“Get some rest.  We have a long day tomorrow through enemy territory.”

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

MONDAY

Greta and her friends pick up another traveler as they move on to the swamp of sorrows.

Until then, Happy Reading.

*

R6 Greta: The Lake of Gold, part 2 of 3

The morning journey started out damp and cool, a reminder winter would be just around the corner.  The sky stayed overcast most of the day, but by lunch the ground had dried and the going got easier as the trees around them began to thin. They traveled by secret elf paths and covered an four-day journey in only two days.  By two o’clock on the third day they topped a rise where they saw the lake in the distance.  The forest in that place gave out altogether so only small clumps of trees dotted the landscape between them and the water.

“A lake on the Dnieper,” Greta called it, but the others ignored her.

They crossed the river to put the lake on their left side and then Longbow explained.  “Look up river, over the water to the other side of the lake.  If your eyes are sharp enough you might just make out a tent camp of the Samartians, or maybe Scythians.  It is hard to tell you human folk apart.  This is the only safe side of the lake, and when you get to the top of the lake, you will have to cross a half day of grasslands before you enter the swamps.”

“Our eyes are not quite that good,” Hermes admitted. “Especially mine.”  He squinted all the same, but as the sun had come out after another overcast morning, and it started dropping down in the sky, and glaring in their eyes, the reflection off the water became increasingly hard on the eyes.

“Get the sun near the horizon, and I can see why some might call it the lake of gold,” Vedix said, as he raised a hand to shade his eyes and tried to make out the tents Longbow talked about.

“Longbow.  My Lady!” Lord Horns came up with three young elf men that were outfitted in armor and all sorts of weapons.  All of the elf men were volunteers.  Greta insisted, but the whole elf village wanted to volunteer, so her insisting really did no good.  In the end, she let Horns and Longbow select a reasonable company, which became more than she would have chosen, but less than there might have been. “There are riders in the south, coming up fast,” Horns reported.  “Dacians I think.  They must have got word of our travels.”  Everyone assumed he meant Mithrasis had a big mouth.

“Quickly now,” Longbow got them moving, but it did not appear as if they would cover the whole ground to the lake before they were overtaken.  After a bit, Longbow sent out scouts who by magic or otherwise, caused the horsemen to slow.  The Dacian chief sent riders to the lake on the left and the trees on the right, but continued forward with the bulk of his men.

Greta’s first thought was, at least they were not Scythians.  Her second thought confessed that this far from the Carpathian Mountains would hardly count them as real Dacians.  They might have some Thracian blood in their ancestry, but they were likely as Iranian as the Scythians, and thus as easily swayed by Mithrasis.  The Germanic tribes that mingled with the original Dacians lived far to the north and were cut off by Scythian and Samartian incursions in the area that began several centuries ago.  Greta hoped they were going far enough north to escape the Scythians altogether, not that she expected better treatment in the land of the Vandals, Goths and truly barbaric Slavs.

Longbow stopped, so everyone stopped with him. The sky filled with little flashes of light, visible even in the late afternoon sun.  One flash of light came up to Mavis and Greta and took on the form of a chubby, middle-aged Lord.  “My Lady,” he said with a bow.

“No time for that,” Lord Horns interrupted.  “You need to get men in the trees with bows ready. My men will take the ground and set a wall against the oncoming horses.”

The fairy King agreed and called several light flashes to escort the traveling party to the nest, as he called it.

“Follow the lights,” Bogus yelled, and the party hardly had time to say good-bye before they came to a small group of trees, a half-dozen lights leading the way, and whatever might be happening behind them got cut off from their sight and sound.

“These trees do not go all of the way to the nest,” a floating light said in a woman’s voice.  “But they will bring us close, and then it is only a short way across the grass to the lake.”

“Thank you, Goldenrod.”  Greta named the fairy queen.  “And you, too, Waterborn.”  She noticed the little light, the prince beside his mother.  He could not have been older than fifty, which in human terms made him about a nine or ten-year-old.  He spouted and squealed at being recognized, and Goldenrod, his mother, hushed him.

Mavis smiled for the little one and looked back at Hermes who dutifully led Stinky, now burdened with food and gifts from the elves of the forest.  Hermes suddenly jerked and collapsed, and Mavis screamed.  Several arrows came from the trees.

“Ambush!”  The fairies and men yelled together.  The fairies raced into the woods to rout out the Dacians.  The men and Briana drew their swords.  Mavis knelt, hovered over Hermes, and pulled a wicked looking long knife. The look in her eye must have made the three men who stepped from the trees pause, not to mention the fact that as an elf, she undoubtedly knew how to use that knife.   That pause cost the men, dearly.

A very big man in the armor of Hephaestus, complete with helmet but lacking the cloak of Athena stepped up to face the three men. He had the sword Wyrd in his right hand and the long knife Defender in his left.  He showed no quarter, and two men quickly went to the ground, dead. The third did not follow, but only because Stinky tried to kick him as he ran away.

“Lord?”  Mavis looked up at the man, but the man paused to see that Alesander, Briana, and the men, with fairy help, made quick work of the rest of the Dacians.

The big man then removed his Ares designed helmet and knelt down to Hermes.  “Gerraint, son of Erbin,” Gerraint said in his native Cornish, which Mavis understood perfectly, and Hermes did not understand at all.  “I thought borrowing a life from the future might give Mithrasis a headache.”  He laughed, but the tears came up into Mavis’ eyes.

Gerraint went home and Greta returned to her own time and place.  She kept the armor in place of the dress and red cloak she wore all day, but sent the weapons and helmet home and recalled Athena’s cloak.  It came still turned out with camouflage in place of the silver side. “Let me look,” she said even as Hermes moaned.  She had to push Mavis out of the way because Mavis seemed inclined to hug the man.

Hermes had an arrow scrape along his hard head. It bled a bit, as cuts to the head tend to do, but he would not need more than a little ointment and a bandage for a few days.  She helped him sit up while she bandaged him with supplies from her side pack, and she turned to look at the others.

Six Dacians were dead.  Greta saw the image of a lion headed man on their tunics, a great serpent curled around the lion-man’s feet.  She also noticed that none of the Dacians were wounded, but Greta did not ask any questions.  Nudd had a cut on his arm; but not a bad one, or deep, and he took it well.  The soldiers and Briana looked untouched, as did the fairies.  “A two hitter and final score of six to nothing.  I’ll take that,” she said at last.

“As you say,” Alesander and Briana spoke together.

“Wow.  That was great.  Do it again,” a young voice shouted near Greta’s ear.

“Young man,” Greta spoke sternly as she bandaged Nudd’s arm.  “Sit here and mind your own business.”  She tapped her shoulder, and the young fairy hesitated.  “You can hold my hair, just don’t pull it hard.”  The boy sat with his face completely scrunched up in case it hurt.  Alesander, Lucius and Briana all saw and laughed.  Bogus and Vedix made a reappearance from the trees.

“They have gone completely,” Vedix reported.

“Indeed,” the queen’s voice confirmed.  “They had horses waiting at the edge of the woods. They rode off, fast.”  Greta nodded.  She understood fast as a relative thing.  A fairy could fly around the entire lake of gold, stop to flap the doors of the Scythian tents on the other side and be back by the count of ten.

“How is Hermes?” Briana asked.

“He’ll live,” Greta said, and she looked to see him on his feet.  Mavis stood right there, arm around him, helping him stand and walk.  Stinky nudged up behind them.

Greta would not violate Mavis’ thoughts.  She did not think after walking all day she could handle the migraine it would give her.  But soon enough she would have to find the right time to ask just what was going on with those two.

They started walking again, and Greta became inundated with questions from a certain young fairy on her shoulder. Fortunately, Goldenrod flew alongside and pointed out to her son which questions were not appropriate.

The short space of grassland between the trees and the lake took an hour to cross so the sun started setting by the time they reached the water’s edge.  Lord Treeborn caught up with them there.

“It was disappointing, really,” he said.  “When they got close enough to take a look at us, they stopped and argued about it.  Some of the humans were determined to try us, but some were equally determined that they were not going to do that.  When the men came riding up from the flank, and now I see they were the ones who ambushed you, the arguments became really intense.  The elves finally quit the field, and we came here as soon as you were safely in the circle.  By the goddess, I swear they may argue all night.

Goldenrod coughed.

Everyone got silent.

No one especially looked at Greta but she felt nothing but eyes turned on her.

“It’s all right,” Greta said, before Lord Treeborn tried to apologize.  “I would rather you not swear at all, either by heaven or earth or anything beneath the earth, but if you can’t help yourself, better you swear by my name rather than so many other things that can get you in real trouble.  Say no more about it.”  She turned and stepped toward the lake.  The others followed to where they found a fairy ring of stones and a small clearing by the water.  The water itself looked full of reeds, but the ground seemed dry and with more than enough room for the travelers to sleep.

A group of fairies came in while the humans got out their things to set up camp.   The fairies dropped twigs, branches and logs into the circle and then they began to fly around the fairy circle fast enough to make a small tornado.  The humans could not guess how they escaped being sucked into the whirlwind and mercilessly tossed about, but somehow the wind only happened inside the fairy circle.  The circle of speeding fairies began to rise, and as they did, the circle contracted in size until all at once they vanished and the fire sprang up on the wood deposited within the circle.  The smoke rose straight into the night sky, and it continued to rise straight up no matter how strong the wind that came off the lake.

R6 Festuscato: 9 For Peace, part 1 of 3

Festuscato stood on the small hill where he could look out over the activity around Caerdyf.  The wall around the village looked unfinished and the village looked burned and smoldering.  The walls of the fort looked to be holding, but even with every man from the village added, there could not have been more than three hundred human defenders. Luckily, Hywel from Caerleon got there first with two hundred additional men, and Festuscato sent Pinewood and a hundred fairy archers to help.  That put six hundred against some two thousand wild Irishmen under Sean Fen.

Leinster must have sent his whole army.  Sean Fen must have convinced him that now would be the time to strike, with the dragon in Ireland with Patrick.  Festuscato understood well enough.  Caerdyf represented a strong Wales shutting the door against the Irish.  If they could tear down the fort, they could keep the Welsh weak and Wales easy pickings. Sean Fen, the pirate wanted easy pickings, but overall, the Irish benefited from keeping the Welsh weak. It could not have been a hard argument to make.  Sadly, six hundred against over two thousand did not make good odds, even if the six hundred were behind stout walls.

“Addaon.”  Festuscato called the young man to the front.  Dyrnwch stayed with his men as did Bryn.  They had four hundred men from the midlands and three hundred more from the north under Ogryvan.  Roughly another four hundred came from the coasts, but they were mostly disorganized and in small groups, including thirty men and monks from Branwen’s Cove.  The monks Cedrych and Madog smiled when they said they wanted to see that their horses were getting proper care.

“Sir?”  Addaon did not know what to call Festuscato.

“What do you see the Irish building there, over there on the west side of the fort?”

“That is a very long way,” Addaon said.  He squinted and stumbled when he felt a sharp slap on his back.

“Look with your fairy eyes, man,” Festuscato said. “You don’t have to play ordinary human with me.”  Addaon turned his head to stare at Festuscato, so Festuscato used his finger to point and his other hand to turn Addaon’s head to the task.  “There.  Over there. What are they building?”

“They look like towers.  I would say several, and nearly complete.”  Addaon wrenched his head free of Festuscato’s hand and spouted. “How did you know?”

“I know your sire, that disobedient son of a mother. He is a full blood fairy but with a little spark of the goddess Amonette in him so he is immortal, and I can’t get rid of him, God bless him.  He knows full well fairies are not supposed to mate with humans, but how can I punish McKraken when my own son disobeys me?”  Festuscato shook his head.

“Wait.  My father is your son?  How is that possible?  You can’t be more than a few years older than me.”  Addaon was bright.

“I’m not, and if you call me Grandad I’ll hit you. He is Danna’s son, but explaining that is a bit complicated.”

“A woman?  Danna?”

“The goddess Danna.  The Mother goddess.”

“So, I should call you Granma?”  Addaon grinned.

“You do and she will hit you, and she hits harder than I do.  All of her children and grandchildren and so on just call her Mother, and so you understand, I don’t answer to the name Mother.”

“I’m confused,” Addaon admitted.

“Lord Agitus,” Mirowen stepped up and interrupted before she inserted a note for the young man.  “Confusion is what the Lord does best.”

“What?” Festuscato kept looking back at the troops, trying to figure out how to deploy them so they didn’t trip over each other or start killing each other by accident, thinking the unfamiliar face was the enemy.

“Lord.  The wood elves and dwarfs under Weland, and the hundred fairies Pinewood left on our side of the fort have all volunteered to take down the towers on your command.”

“Hold that thought.  I want to try something else first.  For now, tell them to keep to the woods.  If the Irish try to flee the battlefield, it will be important to stop them before we end up with hundreds of wild Irishmen roaming the wilderness.”

“Lord Pyre an Nog suggested we wait until dark when he and his can sneak up on the Irish, unprepared.”  Mirowen made a face.  “He means when the Irish are unprepared.”

“No, but I imagine some Irish may try for the woods in the dusk and dark.  He and his will not lack for targets, as long as they stick to Irish targets and avoid the innocent Welsh.  Now, let me see what I can do.  What?” Festuscato appeared to be talking to himself.  Mirowen waited patiently, as did Dibs and Bran.  Addaon did not know what to think.  “But this is not a job for you.  I’m surprised you are even accessible.  You god types usually hide when it is strictly a human event.  I understand Gerraint and Greta because they are close, and maybe the princess or one of the others around the storyteller, but … No, now wait a minute.  You showed up with Patrick.  You practically took over with the wraiths.  Now you want … I don’t care if he is your grandson … oh bother.” Festuscato went away and Danna took his place.  She smiled and laid a hand on an astounded Addaon’s cheek.  Then she told him to be good for a moment.

“Talesin!” she shouted, and a fairy appeared, took one look and would have vanished again if Danna did not keep him there. “Big.”  It was all Danna had to say, and Talesin got big, and whistled, and looked at the sky.  “Your son, you naughty boy.  Where is his mother?” she asked, but the moment the question formed in her mind she knew the answer.

“He is with his mother.  Dyrnwch doesn’t know.  He went on a trading expedition and was gone sixteen months.  Poor Caru said he could not give her children.  I felt her sorrow so deeply, I could not help myself.  Really. I couldn’t help it.”

“And now you see the results of your infidelity,” Danna tapped her foot, impatiently.

“He seems a fine lad,” Talesin said with a hopeful grin.

“You see the results of you refusing to go over to the other side.”

“Mother?”

“Turn around.”

“But Mother.  People are watching.”

“Turn around,” Danna repeated herself, and Talesin reluctantly turned.

Charmed: Part 10 of 11, A Disney-Like Halloween Story (Without the Singing)

Chapter 10

All of the creatures and people, with Mary, Jake, Jessica, Elizabeth, Cinnamon, Nuggets the dwarf and Mister Greely Putterwig found themselves back in the pine forest where the adventure first began. “Time to go home,” Mister Putterwig sighed, but before he could do anything, he got interrupted.

“We got you now.” It was Marrow the goblin. Worms and Maggot were with him, as was Big Tooth, the troll. “You need to take us to Earth or we will tell Lady Alice that you stole a human child.”nal gobin king

“We already did that part,” Mary got right into the goblin’s face and did not even blink. “Lady Alice has forgiven him now that he has set Elizabeth free.”

“Hey.” Worms sounded very unhappy. “Does that mean we can’t go and scare the children to death?”

“You are not going to scare any children to death,” Jake spoke up, loud, but it was from fear. The goblins were frightful to look at. “I won’t let you.”

“Me neither,” Jessica stood right beside Jake, and they both protected Elizabeth between them.

“How are we going to feast?” Maggot asked.

“Quiet. I’m thinking.” Marrow frowned and pulled on his chin.

“The portal,” Big Tooth suggested.

“That’s right,” Marrow grinned, a look almost more frightening than his frown. “You got an unauthorized portal to the human Earth. You need to let us go there or we will tell Lady Alice.”

“I am sure she already knows,” Cinnamon said.

hween dwarf 1“No doubt about that,” Nuggets agreed.

“Puts!” Marrow swore.

All that while, Mister Putterwig worked on opening the way to Earth, but he was not quite finished when they were all interrupted again, this time by the ghost of Thackery James Barrett, Esquire.

“Sir,” Thackery came up beside Jake and Jessica as if to protect them, and he stared at the goblins. hween thackery“You are brigands to be sure. You should certainly be hanged for highway robbery, but I confess you have the upper hand at present. Thus I implore you, in the name of Christian decency, let the women and children go unharmed.”

“You’re not a woman or a child,” Marrow responded. “I suppose that makes you free game, doesn’t it?”

There was a sudden flash of blinding light as the portal between here and there formed. Thackery let out a chilling shriek before the light settled down and Thackery became able to speak with more calm. “I remember,” he said. “I remember those very words. Suddenly a great light appeared beside me. I was facing certain death, so I ran toward the light. I heard the gun. I stumbled into the light. My God, the man shot me in the back and killed me, and I ended up here.” Thackery began to weep. “Gone. Gonnnne!” He wailed a true ghostly wail and then shouted. “Abigail. Abigail.” And he went into the light. Everyone stayed silent for a moment before Jake spoke loud and clear to the goblins.

“Doesn’t matter. I won’t let you eat any children.” He reached for the cutlass and got a bit unhappy to realize it had vanished along with the Lady Alice.

“What eat children?” Marrow responded with a dumbfounded shrug.

“Do you know the penalty for eating humans, especially children?” Maggot said, and the goblins, troll, and several of the others in that big group from the circle moaned and shivered at the thought.nal goblin extra

Marrow spoke. “We just want to scare them so bad they drop their bags. Then we plan to feast on all that Halloween candy.”

“I want to eat so much I throw up,” Worms said, and sounded happy with that prospect.

“Don’t forget,” Maggot said. “I claim the vomit.”

Most of the people moaned again at that thought.

The portal wavered.

“Hey!” The goblins yelled, but Mary, Jake, Jessica, Elizabeth and Mister Putterwig went though first. Everyone else followed and got directed by Mister Putterwig out the back door, toward the big back yard where an old fairy circle was already present. It wouldn’t take long to put up some lights and get the music started.

hween putterwig house 2Jake, Jessica, Elizabeth and Mary went out the front door and got surprised to find Tommy, Blockhead, Mike and Serena still there, sitting around, nibbling on Elizabeth’s candy. It turned out to be a bit after seven, and they had been waiting for more than an hour.  At least they were sitting and waiting before the ghost came through the locked door. They backed up to the yard and the fence, and Blockhead looked ready to bolt every time Thackery wailed for Abigail.

“Watch it! There’s another one,” Mike shouted. It did not help being by the street, under the street light, when another ghost came floating up into that light. In fact, Mike and the others moved back into the shadows since the ghosts appeared to be attracted to the light.

“Thackery?” the ghost called. It looked like a woman, dressed in a fine traveling dress and cloak. She looked very young and pretty, even if she did not seem to have any feet.hween ghost love

“Abigail?”

“A very fine and proper lady named Alice said I would find you here,” the woman ghost said.

“Oh Abigail. I searched for you for ever so long.” Thackery flew to her and they embraced.

“At last, at last.” Abigail hugged him before he set his lips to hers in a passionate kiss. The two faded from sight and were not seen again in this world. Everyone sighed, except Blockhead, who looked more relieved. Then Jessica made a decision.

“Serena,” Jessica said. “Call Vanessa and tell her the party is being moved to the old Putterwig house.”

“Really?” Serena looked uncertain.

“Hey, we are talking Halloween party.” The music began to work its enchantment from the back to the front yard.

“There is that,” Serena said, and she got out her phone.

hween tommy 2“Tommy,” Jake called. “I got twenty bucks. Take Mike down to the supermarket and buy as much candy as they have left. We got some big kids that are dying for Halloween treats.”

“Keep your money,” Tommy said. “For the ghost show it’s my treat. So how did you do that?”

“Holographic?” Mike suggested.

“You haven’t seen anything yet,” Elizabeth said, and she tugged on Jake’s hand to take her out back. Fortunately, just then Sage and Thyme, with their mother Cinnamon, all in their natural small fairy form, came to fetch the little girl. This time, they sprinkled her all over with fairy dust and Elizabeth giggled when she lifted right off the ground and flew with the fairies down the hall and out the back door.hween fairies 2

“Serena shut your mouth and get the party here,” Jessica yelled, while Jake reached over and took her hand. Jessica stared at their hands for a minute.

“Blockhead, how’s your dancing?” Jake asked.

Blockhead said nothing. He just began to bounce up and down in a way that showed he had no sense of rhythm. Serena interrupted. “Hold it big boy. Save it for when we get to the dance floor.” She grabbed his football jersey and pulled him toward the back.

Jessica suddenly turned Jake to face her. She looked him square in the eyes. She tried to listen to her thumper, and she said, “I am loving you.”

“Well.” Jake hardly knew what to say, so he returned the words. “I am loving you, too.”

“Goody,” Jessica said, sounding like a genuine fairy, and she locked her lips to his. Jake was surprised for all of a second.

Tommy and Mike came back after a while. A bunch of other kids from the high school came. But neither Jake nor Jessica wanted to stop long enough to take a breath.hween greely 7

Greely Putterwig came out of the house, looking once again like an ordinary enough old man. Mary had pulled up a chair and was quietly knitting, have gotten her needles and yarn from some unknown source, presumably by magic. She gave the hobgoblin a look that he thought to explain. He pointed at himself. “You might call this my un-Halloween costume.” He chuckled.

Mary merely smiled and patted the seat on the rocking chair beside her. Greely sat and then stared at hween mary on porchthe witch for a few minutes before he spoke again. “So,” he said. “Want to go out on a date?”

Mary stopped knitting and her jaw dropped.

“Then again, we could just get some DVDs and stay in and cuddle by the fire.

Mary’s face turned red, but she did not say no.

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hween alien 5Charmed is either a very, very small book or a long story offered in eleven parts over this October, hween alien 32015, leading up to Halloween. The posts will be put up on the blog on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, October 5, 6 and 7; 12, 13, and 14; 19, 20, and 21; 26, 27, and an extra note on the 28th. If you miss a post, or want to go back to the beginning, they are easy enough to find. Just click on the archives and select October 2015. Charmed is the only posting for the month … So after the 28th, I say to you all, Happy Halloween, you know, aliens, robots, cyborgs and such.hween alien 1

hween alien 2hween alien 4

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hween alien 6hween alien d2

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Avalon 2.6: The Battle for Freedom

            Apparently, getting out of the war zone did not get them out of the war.   The enemy is guarding the time gate.  There is no other way around it.  Someone is going to have to move or the travelers will never get home to the future.

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            Katie handed her binoculars to Boston as she spoke.  “If they charge, they will run into a wall of arrows here at the edge of the trees and we will be able to get behind them.  If they dig in we will be here a while picking them off one by one.”

            “And if they do both?  Won’t that put Ivy at risk on his own rear?” Lockhart asked.

            “I can see that,” Ivy said.  “But we can watch for that.  I think this is the most brilliant plan I ever heard of.  Who would think of circling around to hit the enemy from the front and rear at the same time?”

            “War is still a relatively new business in the world,” Lincoln suggested as he put down the binoculars he inherited from Decker.  “Anger, fighting, tribe on tribe sure, but tactics?  This scale of war is probably unknown.”

            Boston lingered.  She was looking at the gate, perfectly framed by two great oak trees.  She guessed one of the gods or titans caused the trees to grow and caused their branches to curve and meet overhead.  The space was three riders wide and twice as tall as a horse.  She could see the slight shimmer in the air under the cloud-filled sky.

            “Boston,” Lockhart called and she scooted down the glacial boulder that was their spy perch.  She knew the plan was good, but it was going to take some timing with untrained people.

            Ivy and Holly got a full hour to explain the idea to their people.  Elder Stow spent that time with the help of Gimble and Linnia pinpointing the lesser spirits among the enemy.  His powerful weapon would be needed to take out as many of them as possible.  When he mounted his horse he expressed his reservations.

            “They would be fools to charge us when they have the strong position.”

            “Then we must hope they are fools,” Linnia said, and then Holly and Ivy were ready.

            The travelers on horseback rode out from the trees at some speed.  They had to act like this was the first time they saw the enemy and also make it look like it took thirty yards or so to get their horses to stop the forward motion.  They wanted to get close enough to present a tempting morsel for the enemy to bite.  Immediately, the travelers began to fire their weapons and men and spirits in the flesh began to drop.  Elder Stow was more deliberate in selecting his targets, but hopefully no one noticed in the midst of the confusion made by the guns.

            It did not take long for the enemy to respond.  They charged full out.  Only a half-dozen men and a couple of spiritual creatures remained to guard the gate.

            The travelers turned their horses and rode.  They knew some of the spirits would outrun the men and only hoped they would not outrun the horses.  When they rode into the forest and turned again, they saw the devastating effect of their plan.  Holly brought twenty-five fee from one side and Ivy brought twenty-five from the other so they met at the rear of the charge.  The enemy became covered with volleys of arrows from the hundred Little Ones at the edge of the trees and fifty at their rear.  Some near the sides managed to scoot out from the trap, but they simply ran for their lives.  Half of the enemy lay on the field, dead and dying, and the two sides never actually met.

            The ones left by the time gate realized they were too exposed by the oaks.  They moved aside to take up residence in a cluster of nearby rocks.  It was a wise move, but it allowed an opening that Lockhart was quick to exploit. 

            “Ride!” he shouted, and the travelers rode full speed for the gate.  They shouted as they went.  “Good-bye, thank you, good luck.”  They zipped through the gate into a world of grass that stretched out before them in small, rolling hills that looked like waves at sea.  Lincoln was content to ride straight on until morning, but Lockhart and Katie knew better.  Roland also knew better so he turned back and Boston followed him, and that left Lincoln and Elder Stow in the rear and grumbling.

            A lesser spirit, a harbinger of death that would one day be called a banshee followed them and three men followed the banshee.  The travelers could not take their eyes off the men as the banshee spoke.  Those men aged at least fifty years in a matter of seconds.  Two fell to their knees in pain and clutched their chests.  One fell to his face like one already dead.

            “The two before you escaped before we came to guard this place,” the banshee whined in a voice that made the travelers open their eyes wide and grind their teeth.  “You will follow me down into the land of the dead.”

            “And where might that be?” Roland asked as he came up alongside Katie. 

            The Banshee paused, floated up about three feet in the air, let her head circle all the way around on her neck like a scene from the Exorcist, and she even turned green.  Clearly the banshee had no idea where it was.

            Elder Stow arrived and fired his weapon.  The banshee was caught in the middle and thrown back through the gate, and if it was not dead, it was near enough.  Meanwhile, the three old men struggled to get to their feet and Lockhart got down from his mount to confront them.

            “I don’t know if you can get back through the gate or not.  If you can, I do not know if you will become young again.  Only this much is certain, that we cannot stay here and we cannot take you with us.  If you can get through the gate, you must surrender yourselves, and hear me.  Domnu and her children hate you and will kill you all.  Tetamon and the gods will give your people land and homes and bless your children.  Make your own choice, which is it you want?

            Lockhart got back up on his horse and turned away.  He led the group into those grasslands and while Boston and Lincoln looked back, he never looked back.

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            Once upon a time the world was full of grass, until the day it became overgrazed and began to dry.  That was when people moved in search of greener pastures.  Great and successive migrations eventually filled the place between the fertile Tigris and Euphrates rivers, but in Beltain’s day, keeping the various tribal groups from killing each other while on the road is the key to a successful migration,  and the headache.  The travelers from Avalon are not much help with this problem.  In fact, they get caught up in the problem, thanks to the thing that is following them.  It is big and powerful, cruel, and hidden in the clouds, and it has an irresistible agenda all its own.

Avalon 2.7:  New Blood … Next Time.

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Avalon 2.6: Traveling Mercies

            When the travelers discovered they would be more of a hindrance than a help in the war, they reluctantly decide to more on.  Getting out of the war zone was good, but it hardly meant they were out of danger.

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            The line of lights in the dark steadied for a moment and Katie wondered if it was some kind of ground machine, like a truck with side lights.  “Is it Gott-Druk?” she asked.

            “No,” Elder Stow said flatly.

            “How about a dragon hunting near the ground?” Lockhart wondered with a look at Lincoln.

            “Thanks!” Lincoln sat up straight.  “That is an image I won’t soon forget.”

            Gimble, the chief dwarf stood, squinted, and then let out a whistle guaranteed loud enough and shrill enough to crack a window.  The string of lights wavered, turned, and fluttered straight for them.  The humans might have been afraid if the little ones were not so relaxed about it.  When the lights arrived, it turned out to be fairies, as many as a hundred, and they went mostly for the trees for the night, but a number of them paused to examine the horses first.  Two, one golden lit male and one bluish lit female made a special effort to pause before each human face around that camp.  They hesitated in front of Elder Stow as well, but only very briefly.  They also hardly paused at the elves and dwarfs as if they knew what they were and had no real interest in them.

            “It is as we heard,” the female spoke.  “Humans and spirits working together.” 

            “Strange,” the male said.  “And the gods divided and alien creatures fighting beside the rest.”

            “We are not aliens,” Elder Stow spoke up loudly.  “Our genesis was on this world the same as the humans.  We have as much right to be here as they do.”

            “But you are no longer authorized to be on this world.  By decree of the gods, it is a human world now.”  Lockhart spoke the truth of it.

            Elder Stow got a little hot.  “But the gods have gone away, at least in our day.”

            “Hey!” Roland, Boston, Katie and Lincoln all spoke up.  “You are not to speak of future things like that.”

            Elder Stow paused and looked around the group and ended with a look at Katie.  “Mother.  My apologies.  I did not mean to speak out of turn.”

            “Accepted,” Katie said without hesitation.  Her eyes were on the blue glowing fairy.  “I knew a fairy once that was blue like you.  Her name was Bluebell.”

            The blue fairy rushed up to Katie’s face.  “My mother’s name was Bluebell,” she said. 

            “But it couldn’t be,” Katie shook her head, sadly.  “That was on the other side of the world and had to be almost nine hundred years ago.”

            “My mother lived to be over nine hundred.  I was born five hundred years ago two years ago.”

            “That makes you five hundred and two,” Lockhart suggested.

            “It does?  Well, that is a good thing, isn’t it?”

            “A good thing,” Lockhart agreed.

            “And we just arrived from the other side of the world,” the male added.

            “But I don’t know.  Mother avoided humans.  You see, she met some once shortly before she lost her Lord.  After that, she stayed away from the human world.”

            “But she met some?”

            “Yes.  One with hair like fire who was called Mary Riley, but her real name was Boston and one with hair of gold called Lieutenant Harper, but her real name was Katie.”

            “That’s my Bluebell!”  Boston shouted.  “I’m Boston.”

            “And Honeysuckle?” Katie thought of her special friend.

            “She was my mother,” the young male said.  He did something then that caused Katie to audibly gasp.  He got big, which is to say human sized.  His wings vanished and his fairy weave clothes grew with him to fit his new size.  Katie had forgotten fairies could do that.  “My name is Ivy, and my wife is Holly,” he said.  Holly got big, and she was as beautiful as everyone expected a fairy to be.

            Katie stood.  “I am Katie,” and she did what she did when she said good-bye to Bluebell and Honeysuckle.  She hugged each of the fairies in turn, this time to say hello.

            Captain Arturo rubbed his hands together.  “Good thing you are here.  We can use your help.”

            When the travelers set out in the morning, they had a hundred fairies with them to watch their rear, move way out on their flanks, scout ahead and spy from far overhead.  Elder Stow said he was honestly not sure of the range of the Gott-Druk scanners in the atmosphere, but he thought they might send a ship if they saw him traveling with humans, and especially if they picked up sign of the spirits with them.

            “Then again, in this mixed-up war, they might find that normal and ignore it,” he concluded.

            “Some little or lesser spirits might notice,” Captain Arturo admitted.  He was jogging beside Lockhart and was speaking with him, Katie and Ivy in his small form who sat on the neck of Lockhart’s horse and held on to the horse’s mane.  “Lesser spirits might have been a real problem with just my troop, but I have confidence now that we have the force to meet any such threat.”

            “Let us hope the force won’t be needed,” Lockhart responded.

            “I asked for this assignment,” Arturo admitted.  “But my Lord could only send me and my troop.  There were no others that could be spared.  I believe the retreating has ended now and the real fighting will begin.”

            “What?”  Lincoln looked back as if looking all the way to the burning woods.  “You mean there hasn’t been any real fighting yet?”

            “To be sure there has,” Arturo said.  “But most of our effort until now has been in an orderly retreat.  They landed at the place my Lord calls Normandy.  He brought the humans and us from that place step by step.  We carried what food we could and destroyed the rest.  We harried the enemy, but did not pitch battle.  Now the enemy men are starving and the rebellion of the spirits is wavering.  One good blow now and the enemy may fall apart.  If the elder race can be turned, all the better.”

            “Elder race?”  Katie had to be sure she understood.

            “The Gott-Druk,” Lockhart confirmed.

            Up front, Boston talked nonstop with Missus Holly who was small and rode in her horse’s mane and Linnia who jogged beside them.  Roland did his very best to ignore them.  They were all three talking when a troop of six fairies rushed back from the front.  They paused only long enough for a sentence before they rushed back to report to Lord Ivy.

            “The enemy is up ahead just standing there, doing nothing.”

            Boston got out her amulet and took a reading.  The time gate was less than a mile away and she turned and shouted back to the others.  “I bet they are guarding the time gate.”

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Avalon 2.6:  The Battle for Freedom … Next Time

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