Reflections Wlvn-11 part 2 of 3

Moriah came up beside Laurel. “We did it,” Moriah announced. She looked covered in blood and held a hunter’s knife in her hand that still dripped purplish puss from the blade. Flern turned her head and went away from that place. Nameless came to fill her shoes. Laurel looked to the ground on recognizing the god. Moriah gasped, but Nameless smiled for her before he walked the village square and made certain that all of the ghouls in the village were dead.

Twenty ghouls had died, and none of them were merely wounded. They melted and left a purple-greenish puddle of puss on the ground. The village defenders had already made certain of that. Nameless sensed a half-dozen ghouls running for their lives, headed back to their home in the north, and he knew they would not come that way again, so he let them go. “Take the wounded to the house of the village chief,” Nameless ordered. “Carefully.” He underlined the word. “I will be along shortly to help.” He looked at his feet. The body of the village chief lay there beside the body of the chief dwarf. “Don’t worry. Don’t be afraid,” he said softly, as he knelt down to close the poor dwarf’s eyes. Then he called, and everyone stopped for a moment to hear as the sound vibrated in their souls before it left that place and scattered to the wind. It crossed over the mountains, even to the Great River, and sped north through the limitless forests, to the North Sea and beyond to the great peninsulas that hung down over the world like fingers from the ice cap. The call pushed across the east and south to the shores of the Black Sea, over the waves of the Crimea and to the wilderness beyond. And it went north, even to the Ural Mountains where more than one man lifted his head from the hunt to listen and wonder. There was one. She heard. She appeared in a flash of light and dropped to one knee without even looking up.

“Hilde.” Nameless knew her name and said it tenderly. Then the angelic-like form looked and saw the smile on his face and became very curious. “Hilde. First sister of many, I have a task for you which you alone can do.”

“I will, my Lord. But how is it that I know you and do not know you? How is it that I love you so dearly though I love no man? And how may I be the first of sisters when I have no sisters?”

“These mysteries will resolve in time. Be patient, only for now you have work to do.” Nameless pointed to the chief at his feet.

“The dwarf is gone beyond my reaching,” Hilde said. “It is so with all of the people of the spirit, from the littlest up to the gods themselves, yet this man is within my grasp should I choose him.”

Nameless nodded. “The valiant should not suffer in the pit with the wicked. I charge you, Hilde, and all of the sisters that follow after you to take the spirits of the valiant to the house and halls of Odin so that the Alfader may decide where to keep such men for eternity.”

“And the women?”

“Take them to my mother, to the House of Vrya and let her care for them as she will.”

“I will do this thing,” Hilde said as she stood. “It feels right, like I have been sleeping all of my days and have been waiting for this moment to come awake.” She returned Nameless’ smile at last, vanished from that place, and took the souls of the dead with her.

“Who was that?” Laurel still stood by his side, though Moriah had gone in search of Badl.

“The first Valkyr,” Nameless told her, and then he made her wait there a minute while he took two steps forward. Skinny Wilken ended up among the wounded and needed Doctor Mishka, but he had one more thing to do first.

Nameless reached out with his thoughts. “Loki. Play your games, do your tricks, make you mischief through your surrogates as you will. That is your business, not mine. I only want to remind you of the penalty for killing a god.”

After a pause, there came a response, one that felt cold in the mind. “I am in no danger, foolish boy. I would say it is that little girl of yours that is at risk if she should come up against the Titan.”

“Yes, but I kill more than one over the next several thousand years, so it is too late for me.” Nameless thought the words with a little coldness of his own. “But you should remember that the little girl is the Kairos, and the Kairos is counted among the gods.”

Another pause, but Nameless knew that Loki was still there. “But no one knows exactly what that means,” the response came.

“Even so, a little friendly advice. The Kairos will be coming for your big friend, and I would not recommend getting in the way.”

“That girl has a long way to go yet.” Loki responded more quickly that time.

“Just so we understand each other,” Nameless thought, and he cut the connection. He watched the escaping ghouls for a minute before something else caught his attention. Badl talked with the remaining dwarfs who were now leaderless. He took Laurel by the arm and walked to the meeting.

“Your mother was the daughter of a chief, and your father, though not strictly a dwarf, he was beloved by the goddess, and we need no better recognition than that. You could come with us and be our chief.”

“And if the Halfling can cook like you say, she can come, too.” A second dwarf interjected, and no one seemed to have an objection.

Nameless arrived and took Badl by the other arm. “Sorry friends,” he said. “I need him first. He can come to Movan Mountain after we are done.” He turned to Badl. “Time to go see Skinny Wilken,” he said, and he became Doctor Mishka as she walked toward a nearby house.

“How did we do?” Those were Wlkn’s first words, once Elleya took a breath. She mothered him, terribly, and told over and over how he saved her life. Apparently, a ghoul busted down the door to escape the carnage, but Wlkn got there first and sent a knife into the creature’s throat. The ghoul slammed Wlkn against the wall before it collapsed, and Elleya proceeded to beat the poor dead ghoul senseless with a frying pan, and no, she did not otherwise know what a frying pan was for.

“I’m not as young as I was, you know.” Wlkn pointed out, though he had no gray hair. “It felt like he tried to eat my youth with magic, if you know what I mean. I think the bite of apple I ate might have been too much for him, though.” Wlkn quieted as Mishka worked. She examined Wlkn and was pleased to find no broken bones, but then she had another duty.

Nameless returned and he told them all that he would be right back. He touched the dead ghoul at his feet, and both vanished to reappear in the woods outside of town. Nameless pulled his sword, and in a swift move, chopped the ghoul’s head off. Sure enough, he heard a moan as he did it. The ghoul had been trying to live off of Wlkn’s youth, and the last thing the village needed would be a ghoul resurrecting itself. Nameless threw the head into the mountains and left the body where it lay. It quickly shriveled and shrank until only a small greenish-purple stain remained. That was the way of ghouls, unless they were eaten. Nameless cleaned his sword, returned it to its place, and reappeared in the room to change immediately with Mishka once again.

Mishka said nothing as she finished examining Wlkn’s wounds, then she finally answered Wlkn’s question as she bandaged Wlkn’s head. “Even with the surprise turned to our side, and the arrows that decimated the ghouls before the fighting started, and an extra surprise of nearly as many dwarfs as there were ghouls, the ghouls managed to take as many with them as we killed. Twenty ghouls fell in the battle, and fifteen men and five dwarfs died. Plus, we have many wounded besides.”

No one spoke. That seemed a terrible toll, and Mishka knew that when Flern came home, she would be in tears because, in a real sense, all of those lives were given to protect and defend her, even if it was not the only reason for fighting. Mishka wiped her own eye and took Laurel and Moriah to check on the others. Badl stayed with Wlkn and Elleya until he needed to go out for a breath of fresh air and a bit of quiet.

Reflections Wlvn-11 part 1 of 3

Flern spent most of the day listening to everything that Diogenes, the Princess, the Storyteller and Doctor Mishka had to offer concerning the defense of the village. One of the first things would be to move the women and children up on to the ridge, a place from which they could escape up into the mountains if necessary. A few of the women stayed, but most, even those who wanted or were willing to stay, understood that their first duty was to the children. Of course, the children wanted to stay too, or at least some of the older boys, but for the most part the village elders said no. They said those boys had to watch out for the women and children in case they had to flee. Andrea stayed with Boritz and Moriah stayed with Badl. It seemed hard to tell exactly what Moriah might be thinking, because she seemed anxious for the fighting to start. That felt curious to many; but in truth, Flern understood that Moriah felt anxious for the fighting to be over, and she did not blame her for that. Wlkn volunteered to help the women and children on the ridge, but he got told, absolutely not. He got handed a bow and a hunting knife, both of which he knew how to use perfectly well, and he got told where to stay, and Elleya stayed right there with him.

Around two o’clock, a troop of twenty dwarfs came marching into the village, armed with axes with sharp copper heads. Flern told them that this was not their affair and she only wanted them to stay if they truly wanted to volunteer. “No pressure,” she said.

The chief dwarf looked at her and his first words were a great relief. “Don’t worry,” he said, and Flern relaxed a little. “We had a run-in with some of these ghoulish creatures a few years ago and everyone here is anxious for get backs.”

“Oh, but revenge is not a good thing.”

“Don’t worry.” The dwarf repeated himself with a fatherly tone that crept into his words. “Now, what’s the plan?”

A couple of hours later, Laurel had a question. “But will it work?” Flern knew the elf was not afraid, young as she looked and in elf terms truly was. Of course, she thought Laurel asked about all of their preparations and she could only shrug in response. “No, I mean do you think we can get in and out without getting caught?”

Flern paused before she shrugged again. “You can’t go invisible or immaterial with ghouls like you can with humans, and a glamour won’t fool them for long, either. You don’t have to come.”

“I’m coming.” Laurel said with the sound that it was already a settled matter. “They are fast, but not elf fast. Once I get moving, they won’t be able to catch me.”

“As for me, I don’t know how fast I might be, or not, but I can go up out of reach and maybe fly back, sort of, I think.”

“But you are the one they are after. What if they catch you?”

Flern shrugged again. “I’m not a red headed boy. Anyway, the village will probably be saved. It won’t be the worst thing.”

“Except for you.” Laurel generally did not like the idea.

Flern suddenly looked serious. “You didn’t tell anyone our plans?” Laurel shook her head and Flern relaxed. “Good.” Flern felt sure if the others knew they would either try to stop them or insist on going with them, or both.

An hour before sundown, Laurel and Flern went out from the village. They ran to the tree line. Laurel got surprised. Flern kept up, but Laurel said nothing as they moved more slowly and carefully through the woods. Laurel made no sound at all, and Flern made virtually no sound. She generally kept herself an inch or so from the ground and pushed herself along through the trees. When they got close, Laurel stopped. She turned up her nose, and then Flern smelled it, too. It smelled like the ghouls had roasted and eaten the two that she had wounded, maybe killed. Anyway, those ghouls were certainly dead now.

Flern put her finger to her lips and floated high into a tree. She caught a branch and pulled herself along, dancing from tree to tree like a squirrel until she was right over the camp, but well hidden in the branches and leaves. The cooking smelled nauseating from that vantage, wafting up as it did from the campfires below. Flern almost threw up, which would have ruined everything. Then again, she imagined the ghouls might not have noticed, or might have thought of it as manna from heaven. That thought did not help her stomach, so she decided to concentrate on her ears instead. She found it was not like in the movies. She heard no plans about how they were going to attack the village, and only knew they were planning an attack because she heard two in the grass talking about how much they were looking forward to eating some living, human flesh and sucking out the souls.

Flern backed out the way she came in, moving from upper tree branch to upper branch like a confused robin. When she reached the place where she left Laurel, she got miffed. Laurel was nowhere to be found, so she waited, but not for long. She heard where Laurel went before she saw her.

“It’s the elf! I knew I smelled something! Get her!” Laurel came running, and Flern stayed right on her heels. They soon left the ghouls well behind, but they did not stop running until they reached the barricade around the village. In fact, Laurel ran right over the barricade, and though Flern had to use a little flying lift, she followed right behind. Then she needed to breathe, and they were deep, heavy breaths. She might be fast, but that still made a long way to run. Laurel did not have nearly the recovery problem.

“Where did you go? Where were you?” People came running up including Boritz and Badl. Flern waved to Laurel because she could not talk yet. Laurel simply made an announcement.

“They are coming.”

“Are you crazy?” Badl started to yell at them, but Flern stopped his mouth when she put a hand on his shoulder.

“I was hoping they would go away. We just wanted to be sure.” Flern gasped, and then she felt better.

Two hours later, after the sun had set and before the moon came up, the village streets looked deserted. Several figures moved through the shadows. Several more figures appeared from another direction, and several more from a third place. They moved slowly toward the center of the village where a big open area, like a village square centered around a spring. The spring soon became a little stream that trickled off in the direction of the river. Flern stood completely still, nearly invisible in the darkness, her cape with the black side out, her hood up, her fingers twitching ever so slightly with nervous tension. She waited as long as she could, but then the ghouls spotted her, having perfect night vision. One shouted. Several shouted. But Flern already started rising like the moon, and she concentrated on letting out every ounce of glow Nanna the Moon gave to Wlvn. She felt like a little moon herself, thirty yards above the village, she bathed the square and the houses beyond in a soft but certain light. The ghouls were revealed. The people could see, and at once, arrows shot out from house windows and cracked doorways all around. Perhaps half the ghouls were killed or wounded in those few moments. Then the people came out with spears, axes, knives and clubs, and they came in threes and fours against each ghoul that still stood beneath the glowing girl. Boritz broke one in the back of the head with his spiked club. He smashed a second in the face, before he picked one up right off the ground and threw it against two more. Those three fell on their backs and became easy targets for the crowding men.

Flern shut her eyes and focused on the glow—float and glow, that was all she had to do. With light, the major advantage of the ghouls got stripped away, and the village had a chance, but screams of death came from every direction, and Flern could not shut her ears. She also could not do anything if a ghoul took a shot at her. She felt vulnerable in her legs, arms and face where she had to be naked to properly glow.

It felt like forever before Flern dared to open her eyes once more. The screaming became subdued, and some people milled about, no doubt wondering what just happened. The blood ran everywhere, and much of it looked like slimy, greenish purple in color, but plenty of it ran red. Flern preferred not to look, so she let her glow diminish as she floated back to the earth. The real moon rose in the late fall sky, and though the sky soon filled with heavy gray clouds moving in from the north, there came significantly more natural light than before. When Flern touched down, she fell to shivering. She had never been so scared in her life, and she could barely keep her head up when Laurel came running up.

“It worked, but barely.” Laurel said.

Reflections Wlvn-10 part 3 of 3

“Lady?” Laurel touched Flern’s arm gently and Flern closed her eyes for a minute. Laurel, Moriah and Badl all had their bows out and strung, and Flern knew there might be something she could do to gain the villagers the time they needed, but she felt reluctant, having so recently messed everything up with Wlvn. All the same, she let go of her place and time and let the Princess come to fill her armor, and the Princess first reached out with her mind and heart to any other little ones that might be within range of the village. She called to them to hurry and come. She knew how to do that much, even if Flern did not. Then she opened her eyes and pointed to some rocks off to the right.

“Badl and Moriah you need to take a position there. Laurel and I will stand in the trees to the left, but first we need some hunters from the village.” She turned and yelled. “I need six men good with the bow, right here. Right now!” Andrea did a double take on the person now wearing the armor.

“Ghouls have a very tough hide. They are hard to pierce. We will have to wait until they are close.” Laurel said. Moriah and the Princess nodded, even as three men and one woman came trotting out from the village. The Princess divided them, took the woman with herself, and instructed them in what they were to do, especially retreat to the village on her signal and without any arguments. Once that was settled, they barely got into position before the ghouls topped the rise. The Princess had a good hope of catching the creatures in a deadly crossfire by surprise; but of course, just then two more men came out from the village, and after some quick pointing, they ran, one to each side. Thus, their positions became completely compromised and the one who arrived by the Princess got told exactly how stupid he had been, and she minced no words. True, the worst of it was in a Greek language from so far in the future it could not be imagined, except by the elf maid, whose ears turned scarlet just to hear some of those words.

The ghouls hesitated when they were still out of range. The Princess had to remind herself how early the days were that she was in. This was around four thousand BC, and war and warfare were not exactly well known, yet. Then again, she had to remember that these ghouls were hunters, and being filled as she was with the spirit of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, she knew these creatures would not be utterly taken in. She breathed some relief when the ghouls started up again, to climb the hill to the village, but at the same time she felt certain that a few of them had slipped to the side to come up on their positions, hopefully affecting their own surprise on the human defenders. The Princess let Badl know in his mind what she thought, and felt him confirm the message, though it seriously risked a headache on her part, and that was something she could not afford.

The ghouls stopped again, short of what they imagined as human bowshot range, and one stepped forward. “We only want the red hair boy. The god said we could have him for the feasting.”

The Princess stepped out as well, their cover already being blown, and after a brief talk with Laurel concerning whatever weak spots these creatures might have. Laurel listed the neck under the chin and under the arms, not places easily reached with an arrow. “No red hair boy here,” she shouted back.

One anxious ghoul stepped forward, bow ready. He let an arrow fly in the Princess’ direction, and the Princess responded in kind. The ghoul’s arrow struck the Princess in the chest but bounced off her armor without any ill effect. The Princess’ arrow struck the speaker in the neck. He had started to laugh, believing himself to be out of range; at least the Princess thought it might be laughter, but at the last minute he tried to duck. Too late. Several ghouls scooted up to drag their fellow ghoul back, and they all backed up several paces.

The Princess stepped forward while the others came out from the trees and rocks and some came from the village barricade to support her. Then Flern insisted, as much to Flern’s surprise as anyone else, and she let the Princess go back to her own time and place while she came home. The ghouls noted the transformation, and the stupid ones were for rushing in, but the smarter ones kept them back. Flern shouted.

“Loki can go jump at himself. He has no say over my life, boy or otherwise. Go eat Loki in your feast for all I care.” She took a couple more steps forward before she stopped. “Go now, and I will let you live.” Several ghouls ducked, expecting the wrath of the god to fall at any moment. Clearly, they did not at all like the way this girl mocked the crooked one, and they did not know what to think about the fact that she seemed to be getting away with it.

One ghoul, a big, ugly brute with true incisor teeth hanging out from his drooling mouth stepped forward and carefully laid his bow down on the ground. He waved a big hand to invite Flern to do the same. Flern did, but she laid her bow close to hand where she could pick it up in a hurry if she needed it. The ghoul took a few steps closer, spread its hands as if to pretend it had no other weapons, and smiled. At least Flern imagined it was supposed to be a friendly smile. She felt wary, but she could not have prepared for the onslaught of force that came from the creature. It came in a blue streak, like lightning, and Flern felt the electrical charge as it tingled in her fingers and toes. After a few second, it finished, and the ghoul balked. Flern looked unmoved. The shield that Frigga had given Wlvn reflected in her enough, so she remained virtually untouched; but the unwarranted attack did accomplish one thing. She got mad.

Flern let herself float up about three feet from the ground which prompted sounds of amazement from ghouls and humans alike, and then she put all of her anger into her own small reflection of the gift from Odin. The big ghoul had no Frigga shield, and even the mere reflection of the Odin gift in her appeared stronger than any magic the ghouls possessed. The big, ugly ghoul did not get reduced to a charred carcass as it would have been in the first second under Wlvn’s attack, but it got electrocuted to the point of smoking. When Flern stopped the attack, the ghoul collapsed like a rag doll, and Flern felt a brief moment of guilt, afraid that she might have killed the creature. Again, ghouls had to rush forward and drag the big ghoul back beside the one with the arrow in its neck.

Flern let herself return to earth and shouted again. “Second and final warning. Go home and give up this foolish idea, and I will let you live.” Some ghouls looked ready to do that very thing, if she read their faces correctly, but she felt concerned that the others might talk them out of it. They picked up their wounded and trotted back down the hill to disappear into the woods. That did not mean they were gone.

Flern picked up her bow even as Badl, Laurel and Moriah caught up with her.

“That was magnificent!” Moriah praised her and Laurel felt the same, but Flern minced no words.

“They will wait until dark and attack when they think we are sleeping.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Badl confirmed.

When they walked up to the barricade and the village, there was not the celebration Flern expected. Boritz provided the explanation.

“I told the men here to set a small watch and rest up during the day. I think we are going to be very busy tonight.”

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

MONDAY

It is a busy night, and for the Valkyrie not the least, but then the ghouls are not the only trick Loki has up his sleeve.  Until Monday, Happy Reading

*

Reflections Wlvn-10 part 2 of 3

Flern pulled her cloak tight against the cold. They sheltered against the rocks, with fir trees to block the worst of the wind. The fire stayed good and high because people got up in the night to add a log or two. Around four or five in the morning, Flern heard some rustling in the nearby leaves. She sat up and saw that Boritz came awake as well. Moriah started coming around. Flern heard it again after a minute. She had heard Jaccar warriors in the bushes, but this sounded nothing like that. This sounded more like something on the prowl, and it did not care who might be listening. Flern’s first thought was night creatures, but she quickly rejected that idea, knowing that the night creatures would not stop to rustle the leaves. Her second thought was ghouls, or whatever might have set that trap, but Laurel dissuaded her from thinking that way.

“Not ghouls,” she whispered, but it came clear as a bell in Flern’s mind. “They would be on us and already building the fire for the feast.”

“That’s where I left the remains of our supper.” Moriah said, but she spoke a bit too loud, and the rustling leaves stopped all at once.

“Bear.” Boritz whispered, and then “Bear!” He said it again with some volume as the creature came right into the camp and stood up. It looked like a big one, too. It growled as Moriah screamed, followed by screams from Flern, Andrea, Elleya and Wlkn. Badl threw a log on the nearly dead fire and waved his hands over the top with a bit of dwarf know-how, to bring the fire to new and roaring flames. Boritz screamed as well, but directed it at the beast, and surprisingly it came out something like, “Shoo! Go away!” This bear, one that obviously liked the taste of meat over the herbs and roots most bears ate, looked too startled by all the commotion and screaming to know what to do. To be honest, it struck out of fear. Flern got knocked back by one sweep of a tremendous paw, and she only got saved from death by her armor. Boritz waved his weapon at the beast, still hoping to drive the creature off without having a battle.

“Horses!” Flern yelled, and Wlkn, Badl and Moriah went quickly to try and calm the horses while Andrea and Elleya continued to scream. The bear turned on Boritz as Flern drew her sword with a speed difficult for a human eye to follow. She struck the beast hard on the top of its head, stung it with the flat of her sword, and she let herself shoot up out of reach as the bear turned around. When it looked up at her, she looked down at it and she growled “Grrr!” Boritz threw his hands up and hollered at the same time, and at last, the bear chose discretion over valor. It howled, fell to all fours, and scamper away as quickly as it could.

Flern came back to earth with Boritz’s words. “You are full of surprises, Red.”

“My ribs hurt.” That was all she could say, and she rubbed them a little as Badl came rushing up, to interrupt them all.

“Laurel has heard them, and Moriah confirms, so they can’t be too far away. No time for breakfast. Ghouls on the horizon.” He waved his hands over the fire again and the flames died instantly to their former red ash state. Then he and Boritz peed on it to finish it while Flern looked away. She stepped away from the smell of bear and whistled. Thred came right up. She removed his elf made hobble and then helped Andrea with hers since Andrea still shook from the bear.

“Up,” she said, and added, “Boritz!”

“But in the dark, on the cold and wet and ice it will not be safe.” Wlkn helped Elleya mount his steed.

Flern just let herself start to glow, and she turned in the general direction and let her eyes shoot moonlight ahead, like two headlights on a big rig. “Laurel. You need to be with me to lead. Everyone else, single file and follow my light. Laurel brought Brmr’s horse up without hesitation. They all understood that Badl and Boritz probably knew the territory and the ford better in this place than Laurel, but the elf maid was still new at riding and Flern felt she needed to be where she could be watched.

They trotted at best, not daring to ride full out like they wanted, even with Flern’s light. In this way, they soon came down to the Swr River and found it iced in places.

“Cold going.” Flern warned the others as she and Laurel entered the frigid water. Andrea shrieked when the cold and wet hit her legs. Wlkn shivered himself half to death. Only Elleya appeared unaffected by the cold, but then she kept busy saying that her people don’t swim where the ice runs thick in the distant north and the more distant south. They mostly stayed in the warmer waters of the Mediterranean, though some had gone beyond the pillars to the islands in the North Sea. They were her North Sea cousins; she said, when Badl shouted back.

“Tell her to clam up. There is no reason to tell the ghouls our exact location and there won’t be any talking them to death.”

“Clam up.” Elleya said. “What a lovely expression…” Wlkn eventually managed to quiet her.

Flern kept the glow going for nearly an hour, not that the ghouls could not find them by the light, but they needed it, or they certainly would have ridden into trouble, and likely would have crippled a horse or two. After that time, the sun began to rise, and Andrea suggested they stop to catch their breath. Flern completely agreed. She felt exhausted and terribly drained. She had used flight and speed and strength, all gifts that took something out of her to activate, and then all that moonlight became almost too much; but Badl insisted.

“We must get to the village before they catch us. When they are this close, they won’t stop just because the sun comes up. These are creatures of the darkness as I told you, but they are not night creatures to be afraid of the sun.

They rode on, and Flern hung on to Thred, and only thanked God when it became bright enough to ride more swiftly. Of course, she made the mistake at one point of looking back. She saw them, and it looked to her like more than ten. They were cruel looking, greenish, covered in long black hair, teeth like a saber-tooth in the front. “Or a vampire.” She said to herself.

“No!” Laurel heard and looked back. The ghouls were at the top of the hill, a good half-hour behind. “They are just ordinary ghouls.”

“But I thought you said around ten.” Flern protested.

“Loki.” Badl spoke up from behind, and of course that had to be it.

The group raised the alarm in town as soon as they arrived, but the village people were not quick to do anything until they saw what approached from the valley floor; then they hardly had enough time to drag out every wagon they could find to build a barricade.

Reflections Wlvn-10 part 1 of 3

Boritz turned out to be quite good with the cutter-club he carried around. It looked like an auguar thigh bone or some similar big bone, and it had stones driven through the head like spikes, so it looked altogether like a medieval mace. Flern did very well on her second time around. She credited it to her subconscious mind working on the problems while she worried about other things. To be sure, she felt more prepared, mentally, for this go around, and Boritz did not catch her, even with his fancy moves. What struck her, though, was not how well she did but how strong Boritz was. He could go toe to toe with her and match her Thor enhanced strength. That got her to thinking. Maybe Boritz could be convinced to take on the Titan.

“So how did you get to be so strong?” she asked, as she rode beside him and Andrea once they started out again.

Boritz shrugged. “I come by it natural,” he said. “I guess it is in my blood. I was not lying when I said that Perun was my grandfather.” He smiled, but Flern’s countenance fell. Boritz would not do. She understood that much. The gods, for some reason, could not face the Titan. They had to ask Wlvn to do it. Thus, she had to assume that anyone tainted by the blood of the gods would not do. Of course, she just guessed, and she said so out loud.

“It would be nice to know what was going on.”

“We are going over the mountains, yes?” Boritz did not understand her words.

“Yes.” She answered, and with one more look behind, she scooted up front to ride beside Laurel.

Night came quickly, the sun setting as it did behind the mountains. “I believe we have come far enough so the night creatures won’t catch us, but the Swr River is below here, and it is a couple of hours yet to the village,” Badl reported.

“But have we come far enough so whatever set those traps won’t catch us?” Wlkn had to ask.

“Maybe not.” Badl started to speak, but Laurel interrupted.

“But they may not know about horses and riders, exactly. They might just think a herd of horses came this way and whatever footprints that we left around the trap simply vanished, like maybe we flew away.”

“I would not put it past Loki to use ghouls for his own purposes.” Badl got his word in.

“So, what are ghouls?” Andrea asked. They were all wondering and Laurel and Badl looked at each other before they talked, as if there might be some unspoken communication regarding secrets to be kept and things that could be revealed. Badl finally spoke.

“They are related to the Djin, mighty spirits of the desert, full of magic, mostly evil. My father came originally from the land between the Tigris and Euphrates where the Djin congregate.”

“Bain.” Flern named Badl’s father and Badl nodded.

“My father Bain was an imp, but our god turned him into one of the first of the true, common gnomes. After his wife Pinky died tragically, he migrated north and vowed to remain single for the rest of his days; but shortly our god, who was a goddess then, one Faya by name, a name that meant Beauty, and I understand she truly was. A red head…” Bain paused to look at Flern. “She got hold of him and changed his mind. Faya lived on the Were plateau, by the way, and on the other side of the mountains to boot, and my father lived near her. Well, eventually he found a dwarf woman, and they married so to speak, and, well, here I am. I guess that makes me sort of a half and half myself. Half gnome and half dwarf you might say.” Badl looked at Moriah by the end of his speech and she looked right back at him with the points of her ears turning ever so slightly red.

“I was named Beauty and lived on the Were plateau? I thought the Were did not let anyone in their neighborhood.” Flern sounded stumped.

“Yes, well…” Badl turned to speak to her. “I know the law. If you don’t remember Faya for yourself, I’m not supposed to speak about it.”

Andrea snapped her fingers to get everyone’s attention back. “But what about the ghouls?”

Laurel took up the telling at that point, after assuring Badl with her look that he indeed said too much. “Ghouls like to feast on raw flesh, and human flesh is definitely on the menu. They have attacked elves and dwarfs at times, and sometimes take goblins and imps as slaves, though I don’t suppose they get very far with the ogres and trolls. Anyway, they are big, like Boritz in size, and they are tough and terribly strong, and they have retained some magic from the days with their desert cousins, and honestly, if they were more organized, they would be a terrible menace to the whole world. There are only two things that are to our advantage.”

“Eh?” Wlkn got on the edge of his seat.

“First, they only hunt in small groups, normally groups of ten, so if we are being followed, there probably are not more than ten of them or so, and some of those may be young. And second, the reason they travel in small groups is because otherwise the temptation to eat each other is too strong. We say in the deep woods, when a ghoul visits a ghoul, on the first day he is company, on the second he is an annoyance, and on the third he is supper. That is what my people say.”

“A comfort,” Wlkn said, and he made the mistake of turning toward Elleya who could not resist opening up about all sorts of things, including, at one point, about how Badl and Moriah ought to get married, which embarrassed them both. Elleya ran out of steam somewhere between sharks and barracuda. After all that talk about night creatures and ghouls, all Elleya could think of was things with teeth.

Andrea spoke as soon as Elleya took a breath. “Well, with that said, I guess we better try to get some sleep.”

“If anyone can sleep in this cold,” Wlkn added, with a yawn.

“We could snuggle. I could keep you warm,” Elleya suggested, and Wlkn did not protest.

“Me too.” Boritz yawned. He sat next to Andrea, and everyone knew he meant that he felt tired and ready to sleep too, but Andrea could not resist a response.

“You keep your hands to yourself, mister,” she said. She wagged her little finger in the big man’s face and poked him once in the chest.

Boritz looked down at his knees. “Yes, Ma’am,” he said, with just the right bit of humility. Flern thought that it had not been a day and a half and Andrea already had the poor man whipped.

Reflections Wlvn-9 part 3 of 3

Just before dawn, Flern awoke to the sound of a soft honk and the poking of a beak. She tried to brush it off but sat up straight and quick when she realized it was not a dream. The swan quickly waddled away, and it seemed a very pronounced waddle, Flern thought. Flern stood and glanced at the other sleepers. Laurel had gotten up and gone off somewhere, and Moriah sat up, but the others were still out for the night. Flern had to squint to see the swan in the gray light, but she felt sure the bird wanted to be followed, and she had no qualms about doing so. This swan, assuming the same swan all along, had saved Wlvn’s life more than once.

“I’ll be back.” Flern told Moriah, even as Laurel trotted up with a rabbit in her hands.

“Where is she going?” Laurel asked. Moriah shrugged, and they went about waking the others.

Flern made no effort to hide her trail, not that she knew how to do that, so she knew the others would not be far behind; but in the meantime, she could not resist seeing what the swan wanted to show her. She found it, even as the light turned from gray to misty white. A unicorn had gotten trapped in a man-made, or something-made trap, and struggled to get free. Flern looked around for the trapper, but no one could be seen, and she assumed that the swan had flown off as well.

“Pretty baby.” Flern could not help calling the unicorn by that name, though she was not so foolish as to run to it. The beast looked like it could be fierce if it wanted to be, and the horn looked like it could be deadly. “I can help if you let me.” Flern said, not knowing if the unicorn could understand her. “I can cut the vines and set you free if you like.” She pulled her long knife slowly and showed it to the beast. The unicorn gave no indication that it understood a word Flern said, but after sniffing at the blade from a distance, it got to its knees and then fell to its side so its trapped foot remained on top. “Poor baby.” Flern repeated herself. “Everything will be all right.” She inched forward slowly and carefully, and when she reached the beast, she heard the others gather behind her and hoped they would be wise enough to keep their distance.

Flern cut the vine-rope quickly and cleanly where it stretched taught, some inches from the unicorn’s hoof. Then she set down her blade and slipped the loop off the hoof itself. The unicorn brought up its head and Flern heard at least one gasp behind her, but the unicorn only nudged her and was very careful about the horn. Flern sighed and loved this beast for all the purity and love she felt emanating from the creature. She could not help kissing the unicorn on the neck, and she felt such peace.

“You are free now,” Flern said. “You can go but be careful.” Flern scooted back and the unicorn appeared to understand. It got to its feet, and with one more loving look in Flern’s direction, it raced off to disappear in the bushes.

“Well, I never,” Wlkn said. Elleya cried for joy at having seen the beast, and Moriah seemed inclined to join her. Laurel had something to say.

“Not just a beast as it appears. Unicorns are greater spirits of all things pure and good.  Only children and a virgin with the purest heart can dare to approach.” Andrea stepped up and put her arms around Flern for a hug but stared all the time at the bushes where the unicorn disappeared.

“Definitely not made by human hands.” Boritz and Badl examined the trap.

“And not a little one trap either. My guess is ghoul, or some other creatures of the darkness.” He looked all around, and Boritz looked with him, and he looked worried. “We should probably be safe in the daylight, but I would not mind reaching the village by dark, even if it means crossing two rivers. As if on cue, everyone lifted their heads at once as they heard the sound of a baby crying in the distance.

“Damn!” Wlkn swore.

“What is that?” Andrea asked.

“You don’t want to know,” Badl answered.

Breakfast became a hurried affair, and as they were right at the Prt River ford, they soon put that water between them and the creatures. Badl pointed out that while the river did not look too wide at that point, it remained deep enough to come up to the horse’s necks and that should probably be too deep for the night creatures to cross, easily. Flern did not feel assured by the word probably.

On the other side of the Prt, between there and the river Swr, the forest changed to include more firs and pines among the deciduous trees. Snow had fallen here as well, as they wound along and around the hills that snuggled up close to the mountains. Flern rode in the middle when the horses had to string out in single file. It became hard to look back around Boritz, but she kept looking back anyway. She hoped, since there were no more iced over swampy areas between the rivers, maybe the ghouls, or whatever they were, would not be interested in the terrain.

“No, Lady. If it is ghouls or worse, they are probably like the night creatures. They will cross any terrain to get what they are after and then go home when dinner is done.”

Flern looked back again. The Storyteller suggested all sorts of possible nasties including orcs and goblins taken straight from Tolkien. That frightened her for a minute until she realized that goblins were of the elf class. They were dark elves, as the gods of Aesgard called them, and thus they were her responsibility. For a while, she kept hoping that the traps were set by trolls, but Badl assured her that there were not any trolls locally who were smart enough to do something like that. So Flern looked back. She could not help it, and she patted Thred’s neck every now and then and talked softly to the horse. “If the spookies come after us, you will ride like the wind, won’t you?” she asked, and Thred appeared to nod his head. That made her want to hug the horse, or maybe hold on for dear life when the time came.

Lunch did not take long. Flern had to touch her sword and ask Badl about practicing, but Badl said they had no time for that, as she suspected. She figured it got her brownie points so later she could say she offered, without really having to practice. Unfortunately, Boritz said he could help teach her, and then she got trapped. She sighed. She knew she had to learn for the sake of her village back home, but at the moment she did not really want to learn for fear she would be expected to face the Titan.

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

MONDAY

Ghouls find them, but they are looking for the red headed boy… Happy Reading

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Coming Attractions

Coming Soon

The editing is moving along.  The formatting will not take much time.  The covers are ready.

If you have visited this website in the last few years, you have had a chance to read stories of the Kairos, the Traveler in time, the Watcher over history including Greta, the wise woman of Dacia in the time of Marcus Aurelius, Festuscato Cassius Agitus who calls himself the last senator of Rome and is no friend of the Huns, Gerraint son of Erbin in the days of King Arthur, and Margueritte who is not a witch, but is a friend of Charles Martel. I hope you enjoyed these stories.  They will be edited, formatted, and covers will be made so they can go up for sale, soon.  But first, a trilogy of the Kairos origin stories will go up very soon (I hope).  Here are the covers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think?

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Avalon Stories available as of today

Avalon is a television series in written story form.  Please consider buying the books and supporting the author, and remember, reviews matter. Thanks.

I only have one general rule: that anyone who reads a story/episode, for example, from the middle of season three, they should be able to pick up on what is going on and basically how it all works.  If you want to start with the episodes that appear on my website, mgkizzia.com, and then want to go back and read the earlier adventures, that should be fine.  Of course, reading them in order will enhance the experience, but I hate accidentally picking up book two of some trilogy and being totally lost.  Especially for a TV show, a person ought to be able to come in the middle and still get a good story.

 

Look for the Avalon books, Season One Travelers, Season Two Bokarus, and Season Three Werewolf at your favorite e-book retailers.  Thirteen Episodes from the earliest days in each book detail the adventures of the travelers from Avalon.  Thrown back to the beginning of history, the travelers struggle to work their way through the days of myth and legend.  They face gods and demons, gothic horrors, fantastic creatures and ancient aliens in this romp through time.  They also quickly realize that they are not the only ones who have fallen through the cracks in time, and some of the others are now hunting them.

 

Avalon, Season Four Ghouls, Season Five Djin, and Season Six Witches & Outlaws brings the travelers face to face with the worst of all monsters: the human monsters.  As they move through the days before the dissolution of the gods, they get caught up in the rise of empires and the birth of great civilizations, but it isn’t what they think—a grand adventure of discovery.  It is never what they think.  It is dangerous around every corner, and troubles rise directly in their path.

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Avalon Season Seven Wraith can be found in the archives of this website mgkizzia.com.  It was blogged from March 22, 2021 through September 1, 2021.  Season Eight Aliens will begin posting on April 4, 2022.  Most episodes are 6 posts, so the complete episode will be published Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday over 2 weeks.  A few episodes are only 4 parts long and will be posted in a single week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Avalon Season Nine The Masters will follow sometime in 2023 and be the end of the series being the third book of the third trilogy.  Editing, covers, and formatting for seasons 7, 8, and 9 are happening slowly, but hopefully all nine books of the Avalon Series will be ready for purchase by the end of 2023.

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Look also for Avalon, The Prequel: Invasion of Memories, where the Kairos comes out of a time of deep memory loss and realizes he is the only one who has any hope of stopping an alien invasion.  To keep from being overwhelmed with the sudden influx of so many memories from so many lifetimes stretching from the deep past to the distant future, the Kairos tells stories from various times in his own life when he remembered who he was; the Traveler in time, the Watcher over history.

Invasion of Memories is both a collection of short stories and a novel of the Men in Black who struggle to prevent an invasion by the alien Vordan, a species given to shoot first, and that is pretty much it, just shoot first.

All of these books are reasonably priced at your favorite e-retailer.  You can find them under the author name, M. G. Kizzia.  Now, also available from Amazon in print-on-demand paper editions.

I hope you enjoy reading the Avalon stories as much as I have enjoyed writing them.  Reviews on the e-book websites are always appreciated, and if you wish to support the author by buying a copy, thank you.

Happy Reading.

— MGKizzia

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TOMORROW

Tune n for a preview of Avalon Season Eight. The contents of all 13 episodes plus notes on the season, an introduction to the Avalon series if you have not read any up until this point, and introductory notes on the cast (characters).  This information will be on the website under the tab About Avalon so you don’t miss out.

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Elect II—22 Temptation, part 1 of 3

Riverbend made her warriors dress for battle and hid them around the entrance.  Maggie Holmes quipped to Trooper Scott.  “I don’t know why she said I was in charge.”  They were just inside the main door of the administration building which Riverbend cracked open to speak to them.

“Now a little elf magic,” she said, and gave the signal.  The security people were coming to the door down one side of the building.  The other men were coming from the other direction.  There were trees and bushes that lined the walk on both sides and Riverbend could not help a giggle thinking about it.

ab-war-elf-aThe State Troopers heard one of the elves shout with what Riverbend called directed sounds.  It sounded male and only went where it was intended.  “Quick, there are men trying to block off the entrance.”  This was followed by the sound of gunfire.

The words in the other direction were, “Quick.  Security people are trying to block off the entrance.”  More gunfire sounds, and the elves made sure they stayed hidden, but with their bows ready.

Exactly on schedule, both groups of men reached the walkway at the same time.  Guns blared and men fell while most backed up to the trees and bushes. There was a veritable rain of bullets across the brick walk at first

Maggie looked at her phone and shook it.  “Come on, Carmine,” she said.

“Better to call Ms Nicholas,” Sebastian said.  He had his gun ready but was content to watch the fight and not inclined to get into it.

“I called Nicholas, but Troopers are harder to get in off the highways.  Carmine is the local.”

“But you called before the fight started,” Riverbend pointed out.

“Just as soon as I knew what was up,” Maggie admitted.

The fire rate slackened after a short while.  One of the drug dealers tried to sneak up along the side of the steps.  He took an arrow and fell, but that was just before a ton of local police came roaring up the back street, lights and sirens blasting.

a-trenton-police-a1“Idiots,” Maggie called them as the fight abruptly ended and men scattered to escape.  Sebastian called on his radio.  There were a couple of State Troopers on the street.  “Make for the library parking lot.  The drug dealers have a car and a van parked there.  And hide if you plan to catch them, you light and siren freaks.”  He saw Maggie smiling at him.

“I believe my rookie is learning.”

“Given the company I figure I better learn fast.”  He pointed at Riverbend.

All they could see were the eyes beneath the helmet, but they were expressive.  “What?” Riverbend asked, suggesting she had no idea what they were talking about.

###

Maria and Linnea were very busy with the wounded and Melissa and her and Amina’s elf friends helped as much as they could.  Amina herself was kept back in case they needed her particular skills later on.  She tried not to see what was going on, but she couldn’t help anticipate the casualties as they came in.

ac-amina-3“A broken leg on the elevator.  Missing fingers coming down the stairwell from the top floor,” she said, and every time she said something, she closed her eyes and shook her head.

Mindy and Arwen were guarding the front hall, but it seemed more like they were arguing about Alexander the Great.  There were others, including Sara’s friend who was berating herself for not being up there with Aurora.  “I should have stayed with the priestess,” she kept saying.

Officer Dickenson pulled in front of City Hall and turned off his lights and siren.  He was surprised that Ms Riley, who drove her own car, somehow got there first.  In fact, Roland was already in a conversation with the two police officers outside the main door.  They kept repeating that City Hall was temporarily closed.  They said it was electrical problems until the lights came on.  Then they said it was a gas leak.

Jessica, Fiona and Harmony got to the argument first as Latasha waited for Officer Dickenson to get a shotgun out of his trunk.  Jessica interrupted the argument with a finger pointed at the police officers.  “If you two shoot the ogre you are going to be in big trouble.”

Harmony paused to call her troop in battle ready armor, and now that the front lights were on, the police officers saw everything.  Harmony changed her fairy weave clothes to armor, picked up her helmet, grabbed the spear and shield the others brought for her and marched her troop inside.

“Now?” Fiona asked.  She had opted to remain in hunter’s garb.

“Now,” Jessica agreed, and they each grabbed one of Roland’s hands and dragged him through the opening to Avalon before it closed.

Boston put her hands to her hips.  “Hey!  That’s my husband.”  Officer Dickenson headed for the front door, dragged by an impatient Latasha.  Latasha was not about to miss a chance to get a ghoul, but Boston used the opening to follow.  “My student,” she said, pointed and hustled.

ab-war-eelfOut front, the two police officers stood quietly until one asked, “What did she mean, ogre?”.

Once on Avalon, Jessica felt the queasiness in her stomach so it was up to Fiona to act when Roland protested being dragged off against his will.  They were in a big room with enough tables and chairs to double for a high school lunch room.  Roland slammed his hand down on a table.

“But Commander Falcon will listen to you,” Fiona said, and Jessica moaned either because her stomach was churning or Fiona said the wrong thing.

“Commander Falcon?”

“Over here, Roland.”  The Commander was sitting at one of the back tables.  “I was beginning to wonder if the women were ever going to ask for my help.”  He whistled and the wall of the building vanished to reveal some three hundred spirits of all shapes and sizes fitted out for war.  They were spaced out across a great lawn, and they were looking impatient.

###

Back in City Hall, Latasha was not content to wait for the elevator.  She was moving up the stairwell with abandon when Officer Dickenson stopped suddenly and raised his pistol.  He looked ready to kill Latasha, but the ghoul that reached for his mind made a big mistake going after the big man rather than the women.

Boston’s orange magic snaked out rapidly into the stairwell.  It froze Officer Dickenson in place so he couldn’t shoot anyone or anything, and it showed two ghoul feet and the nappy hair on top of the ghoul head.  That was all Latasha needed.  One great leap and one swing of her ax and they heard the clunk, clunk, clunk of a ghoul head rolling down the stairs.

“I got one,” Latasha said when she landed on her feet and watched the ghoul shrink down to a purple spot.  She had been afraid she was going to miss all the fun, but then some twenty dwarfs, elves and other assorted people pushed up past them, some tipping their hats as they went, and Roland caught up to them.

“They filled the basement first so the ghouls couldn’t go to ground.  Now they are clearing out floor by floor to the roof.”

boston-a2“What do you mean go to ground?” Latasha asked as she nudged Officer Dickenson to help him clear his head.

Boston explained.  “Most creatures that have low or no tolerance for the sun can dematerialize at dawn and sink into the earth.  Many can then move through the earth until they get to a cavern or cave or place they can wait safely until sunset.”

“Like a basement?” Officer Dickenson asked.

“Yes, I suppose,” Roland answered.

“So every little kid who is afraid to go down into the basement may have a good reason.  Maybe there is a ghoul or ogre hiding in the corner.”

“Troll,” Boston corrected him.  “Ogres don’t entirely mind the sun.  It would be a troll in the corner, or a goblin.”

Elect II—21 City Hall, part 3 of 3

Lisa sent Aurora and two of her elves to Sara.  It was a gamble, but Aurora assured her it was not such a risk at elf speed.  As soon as they entered the building, Aurora took off up the emergency stairs while Lisa assigned floors and sections of the building to her groups of three.  The downstairs reception area was empty, until most of the groups moved out.

A spear came from nowhere and struck one of the elf maidens in the middle.  It did not penetrate the armor deeply, but the elf fell, and moaned from the pain, and the others stared at her.  Lisa ac-lisa-a1looked in another direction.  She quickly calculated the angle and estimated the distance while she clicked the rifle she was carrying from semi-automatic to automatic.  She sprayed that distance with half a clip.  They all heard the sound of pain and the surprise.

The ghoul materialized, unable to remain invisible.  It was already leaking purple from several places when it became a pin cushion for elf arrows.  As it collapsed, it deflated like a bogy beast until there was only a slight green and purple smudge on the floor.

“According to Mindy, one down, nine to go,” Ashish said.  “I do hope they are not here in the hundred.”

###

Back in the accounting office, Rob Parker looked up at the sound of gunfire, but then he assumed the guns were with the good guys.  He hoped they got one.  He spoke to Ellain, the elf assigned to his group.  “How do we find them if they are invisible?”

ab-elf-p-1“They must become visible to interact with this world.  They can be shot when invisible, but cannot fight back unless they can be seen,” Ellain explained.

“So invisibility is a mixed bag,” State Trooper Canelli commented.

“That is why they like the dark.  They can see perfectly in the dark and it often gives them an advantage when they become visible to fight.”

“I was wondering why we are looking for invisible creatures,” Rob Parker said.

“They are clumsy and without grace.  We look for the trail of things knocked over and listen for things bumped, if we are quiet.”  Ellain put a finger to her helmet where her lips were hidden and she expressed her seriousness in her eyes, what could be seen in the light of the exit sign.

Rob Parker merely nodded, but Canelli said, “Makes sense,” just before he threw a hand to his head.  “What is happening?  Ghouls!”  He shouted and began to fire at Ellain and Rob Parker.  He looked frightened beyond reason.  He looked possessed.  Ellain’s shield and armor deflected two bullets as she moved toward the dark, but the third hit her in the hip and she went down.  Rob Parker took a bullet in his shoulder before he got behind a desk.

The State Trooper continued to fire in new directions like he was suddenly seeing ghouls everywhere.  But there was one corner he avoided and it was in Rob Parker’s line of sight.  When he saw the filing cabinet wiggle in the dim emergency lighting, he opened fire.  He hit something that moaned.  An arrow from Ellain followed from where she had pulled herself into a dark corner while Canelli was firing in every mad direction.

ab-elf-fireRob Parker saw a visible claw clutch at an arrow which appeared to be hovering in thin air.  It was a direction, and he emptied his gun while Canelli put both hands to his head and screamed.  The man spun around twice before he collapsed.  The outline of the ghoul against the emergency lights did the same thing.

“Ellain,” Rob Parker called.

“Make sure it is dead,” Ellain responded, but the words sounded weak.

Rob Parker reloaded and became very aware of the bullet in his shoulder.  He hated to abandon the State Trooper and a possibly still living ghoul, but in his mind the elf maiden came first.  He holstered his weapon, roared at the pain in his shoulder and scooped up the maiden.  He crashed out the doors and headed straight for the front reception area.

###

Upstairs, Sara and Paul heard a knock on the door.  “Don’t answer it,” Paul whispered sharply.  Sara responded in her normal voice.

ac-riverbend-9“Ghouls don’t knock.”  She opened the door and saw three helmeted heads dip in her direction.

“Priestess,” one of the women spoke.  “Lady Lisa asked us to come and defend you.  I am Lieutenant Aurora and my companions are Moria and Sunshine.”

Paul got up and looked over Sara’s shoulder.  Sara smiled up at him.  “We got elves,” she said.

Paul did not return her look.  His eyes looked glazed and suddenly he pushed her aside and pushed toward the door, but the elves blocked his way.  He shouted.  “I’ve got to get out of here.  I have to get out of here.”

Sara grabbed him and turned him enough to kiss him.  It only took a moment for him to return her embrace and kiss her back.  The elf maidens grinned in only the way elves can grin, until Aurora shouted, “Guard duty,” and shut the door.  Sunshine and Moria grumpily turned to face the big room.

###

Lisa was in the basement.  She took it upon herself to try and get the lights back on, but the basement was very dark and the emergency lights were few.  Somehow, in the dark, she got separated from Ashish and Mirowen.  Now she felt fingers crawling around her mind and she did not know how to fight back.

ac-lisa-2“Lisa.”  Ashish came running up.  “I thought I lost you.”

“Oh!  I’m glad to see you, you have no idea.”  The fingers seemed to leave her mind.

“You know it is dangerous to be alone here.”

Lisa nodded and asked, “Where’s Mirowen?”

Ashish looked back.  “Coming,” he said before he changed his mind.  “I lost her too.”

That did not sound right.  Lisa had a question.  “How did you see me in the dark?”  She certainly did not see him until he was right on top of her.

Ashish put a hand on her shoulder, and he had a strong grip.  “That does not matter now.”

Lisa knew that Ashish was not a touchy-feely type and not nearly that strong.  She pealed the hand off her shoulder and watched Ashish’s eyes go wide with surprise.  She hit Ashish in the face as hard as she could, thinking if it really was Ashish he would feel it in the morning.  Suddenly Ashish ab-elf-3arched his back.  He had an arrow sticking out of his spine.  Lisa needed no further evidence.  She turned Ashish, grabbed his chin and broke his neck even as she feared she was killing her partner.

“Lady,” Mirowen shouted to her.

“Lisa,” Lisa heard Ashish’s voice and began to cry.  By the time they arrived, the ghoul on the floor was gone to a purple spot.  “I think I found the circuit breakers,” Ashish said, but Lisa could not stop crying.  It was a little walk and a little work to get the lights back on in the building.  That was when Latasha and Jessica arrived, and Jessica had been thinking that whole time.

Elect II—21 City Hall, part 1 of 3

Lisa interrupted her call from Sara and yelled to Mitzy at the front desk.  “Call in the troops and then call Captain Rogers at the State House and tell him to do the same.  The ghouls have taken over City Hall.”  Lisa went back to her phone conversation while the lone police officer working quietly at his desk in the back corner of the room cracked up laughing at the thought of ghouls in ac-lisa-a2city hall.  “Stay by the phone,” Lisa said, hung up and gave the officer a strange look while her fingers zipped to the right contact.

She had to leave a message on Emily’s phone.  She tried Jessica, but again had to leave a message even as she remembered that Jessica was with Latasha tracking down spiders.  She tried Maria, and got an answer at last.

“Yes,” Maria said.  Mindy, Melissa and I are trying to get Amina to look at pictures.”  When Lisa explained what was happening, Maria added, “Melissa has access to a car this semester.  Should we get Emily?”

“No,” Lisa said.  “I left a message on her phone.  Amina might be needed to find strays in hiding and Mindy for identification and Melissa, and I’m afraid we might need your talents too.”

“I understand,” Maria said.  They were expecting the confrontation to be bloody.  Maria had to take a calming breath at that thought.

“One more thing,” Lisa said.  “Tell Melissa to do the speed limit.  You’re no good if you don’t arrive in one piece.”  Lisa hung up and called, “Aurora!”  The elf, looking like a shy young girl appeared in the corner, but it was where the police officer could see.  He swallowed his laugh and the chair he was leaning back in fell flat to the floor.  Once in the car, Lisa let Ashish have his fun.  He was allowed to turn on the siren, the blue lights, and run the stop lights as long as he was careful.

a-trent-city-hall-1There were already two state troopers and Millsaps was there when Lisa arrived.  Lisa hung up the phone from talking to Mindy and set the rules for the others.  “Groups of three.  Stick together.  Ghouls can cause hallucinations, but usually can’t fool more than one person at a time.  I hesitate to say this because it could get you killed, if you try to take them alive they will eat you, but please be careful who you shoot.”  Then they waited.

Lisa got out her phone and tried Emily again.  She could not imagine where the girl might be.  She hesitated, but then called Sara even as another state trooper came roaring up.

“Yes, we are fine for the moment.  They seem to be leaving us alone.”

“They’re scared of Sara,” a man spoke.

“But Lisa.  I’m thinking about what we all said not that long ago.  The ghouls are the distraction.  The real thing, the ambrosia may be happening on the campus even as we speak.”

“Damn!” Lisa let out that same human expression Paul seemed to like and she hung up.  Lisa went straight to the state trooper who pulled up and was just getting out of the car.  “Get back in,” she said, and when she saw who it was she added, “Perfect.”  She explained the situation and sent ac-emily-a5them off to the University.  Then she tried Emily one more time.  This time she got an answer.  It was Riverbend.

“She is napping,” Riverbend said.

“Well, wake her,” Lisa yelled.  “Emily.  There are ghouls in City Hall.”

“What?”  Emily sat up at that.  “I’ll be right there.”

“No, wait.  Sara reminded me that the ghouls are just a distraction.  Everyone is coming to City Hall.  We can handle things here.  It’s just you and Riverbend there.  We are depending on you.”

“I understand.”

“Get Heinrich.  I forgot to call him.”

“I will, luck.”

ac-lisa-a3“Luck,” Lisa repeated and she hung up as Rob Parker and two more state troopers arrived.  The girls came moments later, and Mindy herself stood up on the trunk of her car and repeated the instructions about groups of three against ghoul trickery.  Then Lisa made Aurora call her troop.  They appeared armored, with shields and spears, sword and bows and helmets that only showed the eyes.  Lisa yelled, especially at the state troopers, that they were not to kill the elves under any circumstances, and they entered the building.