Reflections Flern-13 part 1 of 1

“What the Hell is wrong with me?” Flern screamed. “I never said I wanted kids.” She began to breathe. “Let me rephrase that. What the Hellas is wrong with me?”

“Hush, you are doing just fine,” Eir reached up to wipe Flern’s brow.

“Doctor Eir. Just for that, I’m going to get you pregnant, again.”

“Really?” Eir tried not to look excited. “A playmate for Tien?”

“Listen to me. A woman telling another woman she is going to get her pregnant.”

“I know how that can be arranged.”

“Hush you two.” Nanna stood up with baby Tien in her arms. “Isn’t it time for you to push?”

“Dubba, dubba, dubba.” That felt like all Flern could say for a minute. When sense returned, she added. “Really. You know we don’t have to stay in the far east to watch the Jaccar.”

“I like it there,” Eir said. “It is peaceful.”

“Eir doesn’t like being too close to the watchful eye of Aesgard,” Nanna said and sat back down.

“You know, you have fine hips for babies,” Eir said.

“Are you saying I have a fat butt?”

“One more push.”

An hour later, Kined came in, Riah and Goldenwing on his tail. He looked so concerned.

“One would think you were the one sweating,” Flern said.

“He was,” Riah admitted.

“Our daughter?” Kined looked down and touched the precious, baby face, and then the crew came in. Vinnu’s son sat on her hip and chewed a block of wood. Thrud’s daughter wriggled to get down, so she could crawl around and break things. Pinn came last of all. Her baby son, born only a month ago, nursed. Pinn smiled and indeed, she had not stopped smiling since the baby was born.

Flern looked around while Kined held their baby. “Well, we survived.”

“I know,” Thrud said. “Amazed the heck out of me.” Vinnu and Pinn just nodded while Kined spoke.

“Yes, that was a long, dangerous trip. But we made it home and saved our village and brought peace at last to all the people.”

“What are you talking about?” Thrud asked. “We were talking about childbirth.”

“Oh.” Kined froze. He looked once around and handed the baby back to Flern. “Excuse me. I think I am late for being punched in the arm multiple times,” and he left, Goldenwing clinging to his shoulder, just to be safe.




The introduction to Avalon, Season 9, the final season when the travelers get home, wherever home might be… See you tomorrow


Reflections Flern-2 part 3 of 3

She led them a short way down the hill to some open space broken by an old stump that she could sit on. For some reason, she felt like she might have to sit down for this, though to be sure, the boys were probably going to need to sit as well.

“Take my hands,” Flern said.

Kined took one readily, but Vilder had to speak as he acquiesced. He looked around and obviously did not see anything out of the ordinary. “Well?”

“Just listen first.” Flern was not sure how to explain all of this, and none of her other lives really knew how to explain it either. It was something that had to be seen to be believed. “I’ve lived before and I will live again after this life, in the future.”

“The goddess told you this?” Kined looked honestly willing to go along with her and try to understand.

Though the move got harder to see in the lessening light, Flern shook her head, even as her mouth said, “It doesn’t matter. Anyway, I have recently learned that I can trade places with those lives when the need is appropriate.”

“Trade places?” Vilder also tried to understand. She gave him credit for that much.

“I mean I go away into the past or future or where—whenever, and my other life comes here, to be with you guys.”

“What, in your mind?” Kined suddenly sounded worried, like Flern might be losing a grip on her sanity, but again, Flern shook her head.

“I mean actually, physically and everything, and what I want you to do is hold my hands when I do it and promise you will not let go no matter what.”

“You mean you actually become a different person?” Kined wondered.

“No. It will still be me, but it will be who I was in a past life, or in this case, in a future life. I am going to trade places with the Princess because she knows everything there is to know about hunting and tracking and sneaking up on an enemy encampment.” To be sure, she probably should have traded places with Diogenes, the spy, but she figured the male-female thing might be a bit much for these boys.

“The Princess?” Vilder sounded more than just skeptical. “What kind of a name is that?”

“Promise you won’t let go. It is tradition,” Flern insisted and squeezed both of the hands she held to emphasize her words.

“I promise.” Kined simply agreed.

“I promise.” Vilder easily agreed because he sounded as if he was certain nothing would happen. It only took a second and very light golden-brown hair replaced red hair, blue eyes replaced brown eyes, and though Flern was very pretty, the Princess looked absolutely beautiful. Both men let go. Kined fell down in shock and landed hard on his butt. Vilder snatched his hand back like he feared he might catch fire or something. When the Princess stood, she proved a good three inches taller than Flern as well, being almost as tall as Kined’s five-eight and Vilder’s maybe five-nine.

“So? How do I look?” the Princess asked, being careful to speak in Flern’s language with as little Greek accent as possible. She turned in a circle once, even as Flern had modeled the armor earlier. “Speechless?” She teased because neither boy said anything. “So, here is the plan. You two are going with me to fetch Pinn, Vinnu, Thrud and Elluin while the rest of the crew stays here. Then you are going to escort Flern south and over the mountains to fetch bronze weapons and raise an army on the way.” The Princess paused only to tap a finger on her chin. “I don’t know how that is going to work out, but that is the assignment. Clear?” On hearing no objection, she continued. “Now, you have to follow my instructions in the village without question and I will kick the first one of you that makes an improper sound.”

Just then they heard the sound of a twig snapping behind them. The Princess had her long knife in the air in no time and it sunk into a tree beside a man’s head. “Come out of there and show yourselves before I have to fetch you,” she said, without seriously raising her voice, which made her sound cold and very sure of herself, and which was probably more effective than a shout. Besides, she had her sword in her hand and at the ready, so she made an imposing sight in the dim light. The man stepped into the small clearing slowly, followed by another man and a woman. Drud, Bunder and Elluin came into the light, and the Princess sighed. “Elluin, I’m so glad you are safe.” She spoke this as an old friend, even though she knew the girl would not know her at all. She put her sword away and stretched out her hand. The long knife vacated the tree and jumped back to her waiting palm, at which point she put it away as well. “A virtue of its making,” she explained. “The same makers as Thor’s hammer.” She paused. She was not entirely sure they had made Thor’s hammer yet.

“Goddess.” Elluin went to her knees at this display of power. Drud and Bunder just stared, open mouthed.

“No.” Kined laughed, nervously. “It’s just Flern.”

The Princess shook her head. “You three, up the hill with the others and wait until we come back, is that clear?” She had underlined the word, “Wait.”

Drud nodded. “But if you are taking these two mortals down there.” He pointed toward the village. “You will probably get them killed. We had a hell of a time getting Elluin out, and Bunder had to kill a man.”

“Bunder, I’m so sorry.” The Princess sounded sympathetic. The young man just stood there, dull faced as usual. Though the Princess had killed more men than she dared count, a friend named Leodis constantly reminded her how hard it could be, even in war, and especially a first kill.

“We will wait.” Elluin got off her knees, but her attitude still said, goddess. As usual, she did not quite get it, and neither Kined, Vilder, nor the Princess had the time to explain it to her. She led the two boys up the hill, but once beyond the trees, Vilder grabbed the Princess by the arm and turned her to face him.

“Flern.” He started to speak to her.

“Princess,” the Princess interrupted. “Flern is who I was, or will be, but right now I am the Princess.”

“Princess. What does it mean?” Kined asked, accepting her hand to help him up. He asked because Flern’s language had no such word, so she used the Greek word.

“Chief over many chiefs.” The Princess explained. “Are we ready?” Vilder shook his head. He just could not grasp it all. The Princess said something to help steady him. “After we get the girls and some horses, I will be depending on you and Pinn to lead everyone safely to the bronze. You know Flern is no leader and does not want to be the leader. You and Pinn need to lead, only right now we need to fetch Pinn first. Okay?”

Vilder nodded slowly. Getting Pinn to safety came foremost in his mind, too. The Princess, knowing exactly where they were, led the boys to the horses.

“I was going to say the horses are this way,” Kined said, “But you knew.”

The Princess pinched the young man’s cheek. “And anything you tell me, Flern will hear as well.” She felt it only fair to warn them.



Flern needs to get her friends safely out of town,  They need the horses and need to escape, to get far enough away so the Jaccar cannot follow  Until Monday…


Reflections W-4 part 2 of 3

Wlvn woke at first light and found that Badl already had the fire up and three perch cooking on the end of sticks. “Morning Lord.” Badl tipped his hat before he pulled a good-sized clay cup out of a hidden pocket in his cloak and wandered down to the river to fill it. Wlvn looked over at Wlkn, who appeared to be sleeping comfortably despite the loss of his mattress. He looked to see that the horses were near, and then he paused as he heard the baby wailing in the distance. The night creatures had crossed the river in the night, and Wlvn stood to get a better grasp on his bearings and perhaps get a better determination on how far away they might be. There were a few trees nearby, and he thought to climb one to look, but he supposed that crying sound likely traveled for several miles and the creatures might be too far away to see. He knew that they would make up the distance soon enough once the night came so it did not really matter if they were a mile away or three.

“Son.” Wlvn heard the word and paused. Someone stood in the shadow of the trees, someone hard to make out in the dim light of the dawn. “Son.” The man spoke again, and Wlvn took one step back. When the man stepped out from the shadow, Wlvn took another step back, not believing what he was seeing.

“Father.” He breathed the word because this could not be his father. His father got selected by the helpers, and as he looked closer, he saw the deadness in the eyes. A sudden breeze blew the stench of death in his direction.

“Son.” The body spoke again. “I have come to help you.”

Wlvn shook his head. “I don’t know what demons are keeping your body upright, but my father is dead.” He spat the words, for even in death and decay, this man did look like his father.

“Wlvn, my son. I am your father. I set out with six others, and they gave me their flesh and bone so I could reach you. I want to help. I know you seek to kill the Lord of All and I have come to show you how that can be done. Here, take my hand, I haven’t much time left.”

The man reached out his hand and tried to smile with putrid, decaying lips. Wlvn jumped back. “No! Keep away.” Wlvn had watched a fly enter a hole in the man’s cheek and come out somewhere near the opposite eye. He knew this man was stone dead and he felt afraid to listen, yet he could not help himself, because this man looked and sounded so much like his father. “I will listen,” he said. “But you must stand where you are and come no closer. I will not be infected with your death and demons.”

“Son.” The dead man paused for a moment as if thinking of what to say or do. At last, the putrid smile returned and he grabbed hold of his left wrist with his right hand. One yank, and the left hand broke free of the arm. “You are right. A touch would infect you, but it would also infect the Titan. Here. Take this hand in a cloth so when you find the Titan you may infect him with death.” The man shuffled forward one step and came out from the trees altogether.

“No!” Wlvn jumped back again. He loved his father so much he wanted to cry, but this was not right; it was not good. It had to be a trick to kill him—to give the demons entrance to his soul. “No!” He shouted again. “You are demon flesh. You are not my father.”

“Son, I am your father.”

“My father does not know what a Titan is,” he yelled and found two tree branches come up along each side of him. Wlkn held one and Badl had the other. They caught the zombie in the chest and arms and shove for all they were worth. They might have knocked the zombie on its back which would have accomplished nothing, but the zombie was slow to react and was still holding out the hand, trying to get Wlvn to take it. With that bit of balance going for it, the dead man began to stumble backwards.

“Son.” It spoke once more as its legs tripped back over a fallen log. It headed toward the water, a bane for any dead man, and when a foot stayed at the log, it became completely off balance. It rolled when it caught the riverbank and as a last gesture, it tossed the broken off hand in Wlvn’s direction. It fell short, even as the dead man fell into the water and began to break up into little pieces of flesh and bone.

“Don’t touch it.” Badl yelled at Wlkn about the hand and the foot while he went to find the right sort of branches to pick up the appendages and add them to the body in the river. All Wlvn could do was cry.

Once settled back around the fire, no one felt hungry.

“Save these for later,” Badl said, and they disappeared into a pocket in his cloak. Wlvn got the horses while Wlkn put out the fire and Badl protested. “Not up on those things again!”

Once all got settled, no small task in itself, Wlvn started them upriver.

“But the creatures are this way,” Wlkn protested.

Wlvn said nothing until they were well beyond the place where the zombie had fallen in. “Cross.” He said, and he went down once again into the frigid water. They rode all that day along paths Badl selected and in that way, they came in the late afternoon to a strange sight. It looked like a mansion; at least that was what Wlvn called it. It stood two stories tall, all painted white, and it had great columns along a wide porch, and double doors in the front where Wlvn half expected to find a doorbell. Out beside the mansion, there stood a great orchard which looked to be filled with apple trees and what he guessed were golden apples.

Badl shook his head. “Never saw this place before. It must be new.”

“Who lives here?” Wlkn asked the more practical question.

“I have an idea,” Wlvn said. “I only hope she will shelter us for the night.” He rode up and tied Thred and Number Two off at a railing. Wlkn followed his lead. Badl was a little slower getting down. He sniffed the air and did not trust what his senses told him.

“Apples,” Badl confirmed. “God’s apples. Not for the likes of me.” He got down and did not care if Strn’s horse wandered off.

Wlvn found a great copper knocker on the door and when he knocked, he heard the boom echo through the house. The door opened of its own accord, and they stepped in, Wlkn and Badl doffing their hats in the process. Wlvn, who had no hat, shook out and ran his fingers through his long red hair before he spoke.


“Hello.” The answer came from a woman, and they moved as a group into what appeared to be a dining room. The table looked laid out with a sumptuous feast of boar’s head, venison, pigeon, salmon and flounder. Plenty of vegetables and fruits completed the feast, though Wlvn noticed there were no apples. A kind of rude beer sat ready to wash it all down, not that they needed any encouragement. They were starving, only having tasted a bit of perch at lunchtime, surprisingly still warm, but full of lint from Badl’s pocket.

“Smells wonderful,” Wlkn said, but he felt unwilling to move forward until invited, no matter how tempted he might be.

“Welcome.” The woman’s voice came before they saw the woman. That only happened when she stood up from a high-backed chair that sat facing away from them and toward the fire. “Please, come and help yourselves.” The woman smiled and put out her arm to invite them to sit at the table. She opened her robe in the process in what seemed a most innocent and welcoming gesture. Of course, the men were unable to move, seeing what they saw. This young woman had skintight, see-through clothing on under her robe which hid nothing, and neither was there a smidgen on that glorious body that needed to be hidden.

“I’m too old for this,” Wlkn mumbled.

“I’m too young,” Wlvn echoed.

“Gentlemen, please.” The woman smiled more broadly, apparently satisfied for the moment with the reaction she provoked.

“Well, I’m hungry,” Badl said. “Er, thanking you very much.” He tipped his hat and he moved to a chair at the table, and that got the others moving as well.

M4 Margueritte: Tours, part 2 of 3

The Princess, dressed in her armor and weapons, the cloak of Athena streaming out behind, rode all the way from Tours on good, old Concord.  Margueritte was well enough to ride, but her side still got sore when she rode far and fast.  The Princess thought when this was over, the old horse needed to be put out to pasture and Margueritte should get a gentle mare for her age.  She suggested the name Concordia.  Margueritte said she would think about it.

When the Princess arrived on the hill overlooking the enemy camp, she called a halt while the men were still hidden by the rise.  Walaric and Peppin went up the hill with her and Calista, and the four men assigned to keep Margueritte safe, no matter what she looked like.  Other men held their horses, out of sight.  Abdul Rahman just then left the camp, and the Princess saw that the camp would be minimally defended.

“You should have the element of surprise, and the men left in the camp are probably not the best, but watch out for special, well-trained troops he may have left around his own tents.  You don’t need to kill them all, but you might.  Just keep in mind, the main idea is to liberate their human captives and as much treasure as you can.  When you hear the signal, you must return to the hills, so listen for it.  The signal will mean our ruse is working and the enemy is returning to protect their treasure.  Now, wait until I tell you to start.  Go on.”

“What will you be doing?” Walaric asked.

“I have a date with a sorcerer,” she said.  “Don’t worry.  I will be in good hands.”  As Walaric and Peppin walked back to join the men, Danna, the mother goddess of all the Celtic gods took the Princess’ place.  “Melanie,” she called.  The elf maiden Melanie appeared and fell to her knees.

“Great Lady,” she said, and lowered her eyes.

“You and Calista need to watch and protect us from any of the enemy that may be tempted to escape the camp and head for this hill.”  Danna called in all her little ones from the hills on both sides of the camp.  They were not allowed to enter the camp, but they were allowed to keep men from escaping the camp by going overland.  “Gentlemen,” she turned on her four guards who trembled in her presence.  “Focus on the enemy camp,” she compelled them.  “Calista and Melanie may need you to back them up.”

Abdul Rahman finished exiting the camp, though it would be a couple of more minutes before all his men made it to the gentle tree covered rise that lead up to where the Franks were waiting.  Danna used that time to call Odo and his horsemen.  They came to her as surely as Melanie came.  They appeared instantly and had no power to resist her call, and she turned to Odo and stilled his heart, because he was an old man, and she was afraid for him.

“My dear friend,” she said.  “This was your idea.  I thought you might like to be in on it.”

Duke Odo did not recognize the person talking to him, but he looked behind the hill and saw Peppin, Walaric and a thousand horsemen ready to ride, and he smiled.  He saw the enemy camp and nodded.

“Boys,” Danna called again and clapped her hands.  Pepin, Weldig Junior, Cotton and Martin appeared on foot, their horses in the hands of the men behind the hill.  Martin immediately complained.

“Mom!”  It did not matter that Danna was not exactly his mom.  He knew who she was.

Danna let out a little smile.  “I admire your courage,” she told the boys.  “But at sixteen and seventeen years old, you may watch, but not participate.  Squires only, and older.”

“Not fair,” Weldig Junior groused, but their feet got planted beside Margueritte’s four guardsmen, and they were not going anywhere.  Danna gave the signal, and a thousand men of the Breton March attacked the Muslim camp, Walaric, Peppin and Duke Odo in front.  Once they passed by, Danna called again and clapped once.

“Abd al-Makti.”

The sorcerer came, saw her, and screamed.  He babbled.  “I did not know.  He lied to me.  He said you were just a woman of the Franks.”  The man looked so afraid, Danna thought he might die right there for fear of what she might do to him.  In fact, she took away his magic, so he fell to his knees a wept, an ordinary human being.  Then Danna let Margueritte return, and Margueritte spoke calmly, as Danna made sure Abd al-Makti’s ears were open, and he would hear.

“Long ago, a man named Julius Caesar came to conquer this land.  The Gallic people of the land tried to fight, but only one king successfully stood up against the power of Rome.  That was me,” she said, and took a deep breath.  “In that day, in that lifetime, I was a man named Bodanagus.  But I went to Caesar to talk peace because peace is always better than war.  My love, Isoulde, was killed in the fighting, and I hardly had the strength to go on without her.  But even as Caesar and I talked, we were interrupted by the gods of Aesgard.  You see, the time for dissolution was near.  The gods would be going over to the other side.  But Odin wanted to defend his German and Scandinavian people so they would have time to become the people they are even now becoming, centuries later.  It was Odin and Frig, Syn and even Loki who empowered Bodanagus to keep other men with other cultures and traditions from pouring over the border and ruining what Odin set in motion.”  Margueritte paused. not sure how much Abd al-Makti, or anyone standing there understood.  It did not matter.  She felt compelled to finish the story.

“I am the life in all of time that is the perfect genetic reflection, say, the perfect female version of King Bodanagus.  As he was empowered to protect the Germanic people, so I reflect the gifts given to him.  You see, I am not a witch. I simply reflect in a small way the gifts of the gods.”

Margueritte turned to where a dozen Muslims were trying to escape the bloodshed in the camp.  As suspected, some made for the hills, and Calista and Melanie were running out of arrows.  Margueritte raised her hands, and something like blue lightning poured from her eyes and fingers, but unlike the Taser effect it had on Franks, or even fellow Bretons, to knock them unconscious, this looked more like real lightning, and the dozen Muslims burned to ash and charred remains.

“And I simply reflect his gifts in a small way,” Margueritte confessed.  Abd al-Makti wailed, trembled, and covered his eyes.  “Iberia is full of Germanic Visigoths.  North Africa is full of Germanic Vandals.  I could sweep the land clean of Islamic usurpers, right up to the border of Egypt, and there are other things I could do in Egypt and the Middle East.  But I won’t.  Why?  Because men need to fight their own battles.  You claim Allah is the one true god and Mohamed is his prophet.  I will show you what kind of men have taken up your cause.  They are men filed with greed for riches, lust for power, covetousness for land, and hatred unto the death for anyone opposed to them—even the innocent, including women and children.  Let me show you the kind of people you have.”

Margueritte called Larchmont and his men.  She traded places again with Danna as she spoke to the fairies.  “You must whisper in the ear of Abdul Rahman’s men and commanders that their camp is attacked, and they are losing their slaves and their riches.  If they want to go home rich, they better come and defend their camp.”  Danna made the fairies temporarily invisible and sent them on their way.  “Greedy men,” she said.  “And now the end.”

Abd al-Makti screamed again and threw his hands to his head.  It felt like someone was walking around in his mind, and Danna was, before she mumbled.  “He really isn’t that smart.  He ran away when you sent men to assassinate Margueritte, and failed, but he neglected to remove the connection.”  Danna raised her voice and called, more than she ever called before, and it was one word.  “Abraxas.”

Danna’s voice roared through the Muslim camp like a whirlwind.  It raced south, crossed the Pyrenees, and echoed throughout Iberia.  People, especially of Celtic descent, looked up at the sky and wondered.  The call crossed over at the straights of Gibraltar, bounced off the Maghreb, crossed the Nile and landed in Damascus, where Abraxas worked to save the Caliphate from the Abbasids.  Abraxas vanished from there, and appeared on a hill south of Tours, and once he stood on Danna’s soil, he could not move.

Danna tuned out everyone else and stared hard at the goatee face.  “Bastard son of Morrigu, my self-centered daughter-in-law,” she said.  She glued his presence to that spot and went away so Amun Junior could take her place.  You are hereby banished from Africa, Egypt, and the Middle East right through Persia and up to the Aral Sea and Lake Baikal.  If you return to interfere with the people there, it will be your instant death.  Amun has spoken,” he said, and went away so Amphitrite could take his place.  Abraxas strained to get his feet free, and sweated, a little-known commodity among the gods.

Amphitrite imagined Abraxas might be cute to some girls, like Galatea, in a wicked, skinny, black hair, goatee sort of way.  She could see Janus in him a little around the eyes—that two-faced moron and back stabber when he got drunk.  “As Amphitrite, called Salacia in Rome, wife of Poseidon, called Neptune by his grandfather Saturn, I stand as the last of the Olympians, or near enough, and I banish you from all the lands of Olympus, and from the Mediterranean.  In fact, I banish you from all my waters around the globe.  Drink milk, wine, ale, tea, but let pure water, salt or salt-free, be poison to you, and to step on Olympian land will be instant death.”

“Please,” Abraxas started to cry.  “I am fire and water.  You cannot take the water from me, or I will burn and die.”

“Steam,” Amphitrite called it.  “Also called hot air.  So be it,” Amphitrite said, and Danna returned to have the final word.  “Nameless gave you a chance when he banned you from the lands of Aesgard.  You could return, which would be suicide, or you could find the courage to do what you should have done centuries ago.  Give up this little bit of flesh and blood and go over to the other side.  The time of dissolution is long past.

“But —”

“Quiet.  I have now taken from you every place on this planet where you might have staked a claim other than this land, the land of the Celts, the land of my children.”

“Please.  I have nowhere else to go.”

“Why should I give you a third chance. Will you go over to the other side?”

“I will.  I swear it.”

“In an elf’s eye,” Danna said. “But this is it.  There will be no fourth chances.”

Avalon 7.6 Food of the Gods, part 6 of 6

Once in Potaissa, the sergeant of the little group of soldiers said he knew a place they could go and be safe.  “The old legion fort.  Five, Macedonian.  They built this place back when Trajan took the province.  I heard after the trouble on the border those few years ago, the emperor is thinking about bringing them back.  Meanwhile, we got stout walls, a place to stay, stables, and at no cost.”

The travelers did not argue.  Lockhart spoke when they came to a halt by the stables. “Decker and Elder Stow, stay here and get the horses settled.”  Decker pointed to the wagon and draft horse already in the barn.  Lockhart nodded.  “Katie, Lincoln, Alexis, and I will see who might be around.”

“Sukki, come with us,” Alexis said.  “Boston, you might help Berry and Lavinia with the boys.”

“Hans and I got the wagons,” Tony said, and he started to take Ghost out of the harness.

“I can help,” Nanette added, and glanced at Decker.

Lockhart nodded and pulled his shotgun as Katie got her rifle.  Katie whispered, “No telling what we will find.”

“Wait,” the sergeant said.  He assigned three of the soldiers to go with the explorers, and Lockhart did not say no.

The group of explorers walked toward the main building, quickly turned a corner and got out of sight.  The others began to strip the horses when Boston spoke up.

“I hear something scurrying around the ceiling.”

“I hear it too,” Lavinia said.  “And slithering”

“No, no!” Tony yelled.  “I won’t, I won’t.”  Tony screamed and began to grow.  He tried to look at the others, but his eyes did not appear to focus.  He ran, away from the group in the direction the others went.

“Rats,” Boston yelled.  They looked the size of Saint Bernard’s.

“And snakes,” Lavinia added.  They appeared twenty feet long, and hungry.

Decker put holes in two serpents that got close.

Nanette threw her hands out and a half-dozen giant rats flew fifty yards back across the courtyard.

Boston laid down a line of flames across the cobblestones, which appeared to cause the rats and snakes to hesitate.

Elder Stow threw the switch on his screen device which he left primed, and the stables became encased in a particle screen the rats and snakes could not penetrate.  Decker continued to blast the ones that tried.  After a minute, Elder stow added fire from his weapon, and Boston fired her Beretta.

The soldiers, Berry, Hans, and Lavinia grabbed Javelins and bows with arrows, but Nanette stopped them.  She was not sure and explained that their hand thrown spears and bowshot might not be strong enough to get through the screen.  They might bounce back in their faces. She was not sure, but the people relaxed when they saw the rats and snakes stopped at the invisible barrier and could not get at them.


The others found an extended family group huddled around a small fire in the central square of the fort, beneath the overhang in front of the officer’s quarters.  The people did not panic on being confronted, but the man got up right away and began to make excuses to the soldiers for their presence in the fort.  

Alexis said the family would be welcome to join them for supper.

“If you don’t mind my cooking,” Sukki said, with a smile for the women and the children.

Katie yelled.  “Danger!”  She grabbed Lockhart and Sukki. They rushed inside and came right back with whatever furniture they could find to throw down to make a makeshift mini fort around the fire.  Lincoln shot a giant rat, which made the women in the family group scream, and the men cower in fear.  Alexis caused the wind to pick up a slithering snake and whip it against two more rats and another serpent.

The soldiers corralled the family in the doorway of the house, thinking they might have to fall back into the building, but at the same time they kept one eye on what they could see inside, in case some giant rats and snakes already got inside.

Katie and Lockhart added their fire to Lincoln’s, and Lockhart felt glad he brought his shotgun, though he could not say why he thought he needed it.  Alexis continued to raise the wind, which kept most of the creatures at bay until they could be put down.  Sukki pulled her big knife, thinking she would act if any got too close.  Then she remembered her gifts.

Sukki rose up a few feet so she could see better around the central square.  She seriously concentrated on her finger.  She wanted to stop the rats and snakes—especially the snakes.  She hated snakes and had a phobia about them.  But she did not want to cook the creatures.  She imagined the smell.  She pointed at a snake and put a hole in the snake head.  She smiled at herself before she gagged.  The snake body kept whipping around, like the snake died, but the body kept involuntarily moving.

Sukki shut her eyes for a moment and swallowed the bile.  When she opened them again, determined to act, a twenty-foot-tall Tony came rushing around the corner, screaming, “No, no, no.”

Sukki flew out to meet him, yelling “No, Tony.”

Tony raised his foot and pushed Sukki to the ground, like he intended to squish her.  But Sukki had pressure resistant skin, and inhuman strength.  She shoved on his sandaled foot, and the giant Tony tipped over and fell on his back, several yards away.

A viper lunged at her, but Katie’s bullets spoiled the viper’s aim.  Lockhart’s shotgun turned the viper head to mush as Sukki got up and, with Katie and Lockhart, rushed back to the mini fort.

“That is one step too far.”  Everyone heard the words in their bellies.  Two soldiers and several family members shook their heads and stared.  The rats and serpents stopped where they were, returned to normal size, and while the rats scurried away to their holes, the vipers vanished altogether. Tony shrank to his normal size and moaned, not like anything broke, but like a man bruised everywhere.

A beautiful goddess appeared in the central square, her back to the travelers.  The wraith appeared facing the woman, and the wraith looked like she had no choice.  She seemed unable to move.

“You are no longer permitted to have the food of the gods, or any such thing,” the woman shouted, a fire in her voice.  She waved a hand before she placed her hands on her hips.  

The travelers could only later say that the wraith appeared to shrink or become less in some way.  They could also only imagine the expression on the face of the goddess, but they felt glad it did not point at them.

The wraith wailed, a bone chilling sound.  “It is not fair.  I waited and moved into the days to come, almost four thousand years, until the day that the gods went away.  You should not be here.  You should be gone.”  She wailed again.

“Enough,” the goddess in the square said, waved her hand again as the wraith vanished.

“Rhiannon,” another goddess appeared in the square, but she sounded more annoyed than angry.  “Where have you been?”

“Mother?”  The goddess Rhiannon turned to face the newcomer.  She also turned in her attitude from avenging goddess to humble daughter who feared she might be scolded for doing something wrong.

“I have been calling you.”

“I heard,” Rhiannon said, humbly.  “But I thought it best to keep an eye on your friends.”

“And what have you done?”

“I nudged them a little, to get them to pay better attention.  …No, I have taken away the wraith’s ability to have even a little sway over them.  And I took away her gift of the gods to make the animals unnaturally big.”

“But you did not stop her.”

Rhiannon looked at the ground.  “I sent her to the next time gate.  I wasn’t authorized to send her over to the other side.”

The mother goddess stepped up and kissed her daughter on the cheek.  “Next time,” she said, and turned to the travelers.  She went away, and Greta came to stand in her place, so the travelers knew it was the Kairos.

“Yes, Lincoln,” she said before he could ask.  “Boston,” she opened her arms, and Boston, who had been coming up the road with Nanette and Decker, raced into the hug.

When the evening came and people settle down, Darius, Mavis and their escort arrived.  The extended family got to complain to the former governor of the province about how a Roman threw them out of their house and stole their land.  Darius said he would look into it.

Boston sat with Mavis and Lavinia and saw how they appeared perfectly comfortable around humans. She decided her discomfort had been Rhiannon’s fault, warning her, and Boston had been too preoccupied with herself to understand the message.

Alexis, Sukki, and Nanette had their first disagreement about how to cook the roast, and Berry got right in there with them.  She just said, “As long as Mother Greta doesn’t start making suggestions.  She can’t cook.”

“Or Boston,” Alexis nodded.  “Or Katie.”

“Decker is getting better at it,” Nanette said, and only turned a little red.

“Lincoln and Lockhart don’t do too bad a job,” Sukki agreed.

“The men take a turn cooking?” Berry sounded surprised.

“Yes,” Alexis said.  “But not often.  I like to eat something worth eating.”

“And with some flavor,” Sukki agreed.

After supper, everyone pulled up what they had to sleep, and curled up around the fire.  Greta whispered, “Watch out for the rats in the night.”

“Ha, ha,” Boston heard, and said it out loud, without laughing.



Episode 7.7, a four part episode, will be posted in a single week. Yes. There will be posts on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, AND Thursday, so don’t miss it. The travelers return to Syria and find Guns Between the Rivers. Until Monday, Happy Reading.


Avalon 7.4 People in the Middle, part 5 of 6

Lydia and her Romans got to Bactra before the Travelers and Zhang She’s slow moving train.  They had a meeting before entering the town and opted to remain disguised as Greco-Syrian merchants with hired mercenaries to guard the goods.  The Roman armor and weapons filled two of the wagons, covered over by tarps.

The Romans made their way to a field beside the marketplace where caravans regularly came and rested.  Of course, in town, they dared not make an identifiable Roman camp, but David-Marcus set guards through the night, just in case.  They did not expect trouble, but all the same, in the dead of the night, Lydia woke.

She kissed David’s cheek.  He mumbled and turned on his side, as she rose from her bed and slipped into her dress.  She stepped out by the well-kept fire and found Varina sitting, staring at the flames.  Lydia turned her head at the distant sound of a howl.  It sounded human, and not human at the same time.  She felt the chill in the air and put her hands toward the fire as she sat.  One of the night guards walked past before Varina spoke.

“The gods have gone away.  The demons are out of the pit, and the children are afraid in their beds,” she said. “The rulers are pretending that nothing is happening, but the people know better.  Some have fallen to the seductive darkness and become possessed with evil.  Some have been killed.”  Lydia looked up when she heard another howl.  Varina looked at Lydia.  “You may rest safe, mistress.  The demons will not come here.”

Lydia nodded and got up to step into the tent; but she only went to fetch something she could wear as a shawl against the chill in the night.

Bactra got one or two caravans per week, and most were headed for more distant locations, so the Romans hoped to hide and rest for a few days without revealing themselves.  That plan did not work, of course.

On that first full morning, Kushan soldiers came into the marketplace and expected them to offer gifts to the king.  That happened in several places, and Tribune Valerion began to fear they would arrive at the Han capitol with nothing to show for it.

“A token of respect,” Lydia suggested.  “A rug.  Some more glass beads.  And a small bag of gold and silver coins should do it.  Just make sure there are no coins that might be identified as Roman coins.”

In front of the king, Shehan spoke in Aramaic with David and Aritides.  They avoided speaking in Greek which would certainly be understood.  They absolutely avoided any words in Latin, and that was why Valerion did not go with them.  Valerion did Latin and Greek, but he stumbled on Aramaic.  They spoke casually, like men who did not expect anyone to understand them.  But their words were carefully planned, assuming that even in Aramaic, someone would understand and later translate for the king.

“We are poor merchants from Syria and Armenia who had to spend too much of our money on cheap mercenaries to guard us in the wilderness.  We are not rich Parthians who come bearing gifts for kings.  We hope only to reach Kashgar and find a merchant of the Han who may have precious silk for us to carry into the west.  That would make this trip worthwhile and help feed and care for our families when we return.  We have traveled for one hundred and fifty days and are dusty and weary.  We will travel a whole year before we reach home again.  Presently, we are grateful to the Bactrian people, to the Lords of the Kush, and to the king of this wonderful city for providing a place to rest in our journey, and we are glad to offer a token of our gratitude.  The rug, soft for your feet, has golden threads woven into the fabric by the lovely women of Armenia.  The glass beads and jar are from Syria, made with great care under the searing heat of the desert sun.  And let us humbly share a fair bit of the gold and silver, what little we have, with which we hope to buy the silk to bring to our home.  Perhaps, if we are successful, on our return, the king might accept a roll of silk for the kindness you have shown us.”

The king was in a good mood that day, and said he appreciated the gifts and wished them well.  It was always touch and go in such situations.  One king in a bad mood, and they might lose everything.  Then again, kings sometimes offered gifts in return, so it became more of an even exchange.  The king of Bactra offered nothing, so he could not have been in that good a mood.

The next day, the travelers with Zhang She came into town.  The Romans needed to make room in the field, but it was not too bad.  Two caravans at once was not normal, but not that unusual.  A third might be a tight squeeze.

Boston wanted to run off and find Lydia right away, but Lockhart made her, and everyone else, bring the horses and Ghost with the wagon to a secure place.  Then he insisted they make camp before they ran off shopping.

“Hey!” Alexis protested the obvious sexist comment.

“Not a bad idea, actually,” Katie said.  “I haven’t been shopping in a long time.”

“Might be fun,” Nanette agreed.

“Can I go now?” Boston whined, like a teenager, and Sukki giggled.

“Yes, you can go,” Katie said, but when Boston turned to run off, she saw two women already standing there.  The trouble was, Boston did not know which one was Lydia.

“Hello, Boston, dear,” Varina said, and Boston ran to her but stopped short.  Varina was a goddess, but not her goddess.

Boston lowered her eyes and heard clearly in her head, “Don’t say it out loud.”  She looked up and saw Lydia had her arms open.  She rushed into the hug.

“You almost fooled me,” she said.

“I said it would not work,” Varina admitted.

Lydia said nothing.  She gave Sukki a much-appreciated hug, and then introduced her followers.  “Varina takes care of me in this wild land.  My husband, David-Marcus, is with Tribune Valerion, the Decurio, Aritides, and Shehan the merchant chief meeting the Han, with Crumbles the imp-head to interpret.”

Lincoln, Decker, Tony, and Elder Stow walked up to hear what the women were saying, and to watch the two men with them.

“David insisted I be escorted by these soldiers around the strange looking men.  Tobias is the Staff Sergeant or Master Sergeant of the company.  Jonathan is the signifier, which is the standard bearer, and he doubles as paymaster.”

“Good to meet you,” Lincoln said, and introduced the travelers.  Only Jonathan had something to say, and it got directed to Boston.

“I love your red hair.  Are you Gaelic?”

Boston looked at the man, and his smile, and said, “I’m an elf and married.  Sorry.”

R6 Greta: Downriver, part 3 of 3

At four in the morning when people began to stir, Festuscato got his turn, and he did not gripe because at eight o’clock, Gerraint stepped in, which meant Festuscato still had the next turn.  The sun was due to come up, not that they would see it through the fog.  More important, the width and depth of the river changed overnight.  In some places, there were obstructions in the river and the place of safe passage narrowed.  Everyone needed to be awake and poles ready just in case they needed to fend off any rocks or other obstructions in the water.  Gerraint felt confident that his water babies would guide them safely to the dock, but it would be better to be prepared, just in case.

Gerraint picked at breakfast, and at eight o’clock he traded places with Diogenes.  Diogenes was not hungry, th-thank you.  He sat in the middle of the deck, pulled his sword and laid it across his lap.  Then he spent the next four hours making Lucius uncomfortable by staring at the man and trying to puzzle out just where the man’s loyalties lay.

At noon, Doctor Mishka took a turn.  She was more animated than most and did not mind sharing lunch and several stories from the future about the very land they were traveling through.  She kept her voice low, but she figured after all that snoring the night before, surely the Wolv knew where they were.  Unless, as she hoped, they were checking out the Muskva River awaiting their arrival.

There came one moment when the boat came rushing around a corner as it turned to the east.  The boat swayed and tilted heavily to starboard as it got caught in a side current.  Hermes almost slipped and fell overboard, but Mavis grabbed him and they both tumbled to the deck, laughing.  The rest of the group shouted Wee! and Aah! like they were on a log flume ride before the boat settled down in the new current.  The boat then slipped into the calmer waters behind a jetty, which had been built out into the river.  A short while later, they came around a second jetty, and there they came gently to the dock of a fine-looking village.  They did not exactly stop perfectly.  They felt a bit of a bump, but Vedix and Hermes jumped to the dock with the ropes and tied the boat fast.

“Where are we?” Alesander whispered, having spent the day without speaking at all.  People looked up and all around as the fog lifted from their immediate vicinity. They could still see where it clearly covered the river downstream and back upstream, but after twenty-four hours, the fog started to feel a bit suffocating.  People breathed, and looked all around.

The village where they docked had been carved out of the hills and short cliffs that penned in the river.  They found several buildings by the docks that looked to be warehouse buildings, and a three-story tower about where the central village square ought to be.  The houses looked odd, a style of building unfamiliar to both the Romans and the Celts, though to be fair, they had not gotten a good look at the houses of Samarvant. Mainly, there did not seem to be anyone around.  There were no signs of life in that village.

Mishka kept back to see which way Lucius might be interested in going.  He moved immediately to the left off the dock where the village actually ended at a kind of small fort.  The fort looked shut up tight and showed no one on the walls, so Mishka assumed the fort was as empty as the rest of the place.  True, she could not be sure about the dungeon.  She saw another big building there beside the fort, like a great hall for meetings, but it also looked to be closed, and probably locked. That building stood beside what looked like a cave entrance that let people inside the hill itself.  Lucius became self-conscious when he realized everyone followed him, and he said something to ease any suspicion the others might have had.

“I think we go this way.  I think the cave should take us under the heart of the goddess.”

Greta came back, letting the good doctor Mishka return to the future.  She looked at Mavis, but Mavis shook her head.  The only thing Greta remembered saying was they had to go north.  Neither Greta nor Mavis told anyone about the signs they had been following.

“Where is everyone?  Where are the people?” Hermes interrupted.

“Deserted the village,” Alesander suggested.  “Ran away, or headed downriver to get away.”

“At least there aren’t any half-chewed bodies in this place,” Vedix offered.

“Quiet,” Greta said, and they quieted and looked at her while Greta sighed at having to face her own cave.  I would rather have a bridge to burn, she thought, but she said something else.  “Alesander, Briana, stay out here and keep hidden.  Be prepared for us to come racing back out in case the cave is full of Wolv.  Bogus and Pincushion, see if there are any people around, but stay invisible.   My guess is this is a Venedi village, so they may become friends.  Mavis and Hermes, see if there are any horses here for the borrowing.  From here on we follow the Road of Dreams.  Lucius and Vedix, you go with me to check out Lucius’ cave.”  Greta turned to Lucius.  “After you.”

“Lady?” Mavis did not exactly protest, but Greta waved her off.

“It will be all right,” she said, as she stepped toward the darkness.

Lucius drew his sword, but Diogenes said in Greta’s head that it was for show.  Lucius walked slowly up what appeared to be a wide and well-kept path, not unlike the back-door path in the village of the Dragon Clan.  Vedix fingered his wristwatch shield, thinking worst case scenario.  Greta found a stack of torches by the entrance and lit two with her little bit of flint.  She handed one to Vedix while Lucius stared off into the dark.

They did not walk far before they reached a great chamber, like a massive entrance hall carved out of the dark.  It looked like a smaller version of one of the great dwarf halls they saw in Movan Mountain, but this looked strictly human made, with great columns regularly spaced to support the ceiling.  Greta saw the path continued up and out the back of the chamber, but first she became concerned to light the torches that she found spaced regularly around the walls.  She figured this would be the way her group had to go, and guessed that they were beneath the Heart of the Goddess, whatever that was.  She managed to only light the first torch before all the torches around the room came to life as if by magic.

Vedix growled like a true member of the Bear Clan as Greta’s eyes shot to the exit tunnel on the other side of the room.  A small man in a long cloak and Phrygian cap stared right back at her.



Greta faces the second piece of Mithras, the Persian.  Until next time, Happy Reading.


R6 Greta: Downriver, part 2 of 3

Hermes paused at the side of the ship, bucket in hand. “I don’t want to accidentally scoop up one of those water babies.”

“It’s all right,” Mavis heard and responded. “It is what they live for, and you would not know if you did.”

“They live for?” Alesander asked, and Briana looked up as well.

Once again, Greta felt the need to explain. “Water sprites live to make a splash. They are the white in the whitewater, the ripples in the pond, the waves in the lakes and at sea.  They are very regimented wave makers.  They bubble up from deep beneath the earth in the springs and wells, and live to throw themselves up on the sandy beaches and against the rocky places which they eventually wear down to sand.  They have a symbiotic relationship with the air sprites who they meet where the steam rises and in the rain that falls.  In fact, falling with the rain has got to be the best water slide, ever.”

“But the rain splats on the ground,” Briana worried.

Greta nodded.  “And the ground takes them in where they nourish and bring life to all the plants and animals, or they evaporate and go up again to fall in a new rain, or they sink down deep to rise up again with the spring waters that find their way back to rivers, like the one we are on, and eventually they once again reach the sea where my lovely dolphins frolic and play.”

“Your dolphins?” Alesander asked.

Greta nodded, but did not explain.  She made sure everyone was present around the cooking fire and said something else.  “The water sprites in the river will take us safely to our destination, but you all must make sure you don’t fall overboard.  I cannot guarantee your safety if you fall into the river.” Everyone looked around and wondered why she had to mention such a thing.  No one had any intention of falling overboard, and Bogus looked like she jinxed everyone to do that very thing the minute she said it, but he did not say anything out loud.

“Now,” she continued.  “It has occurred to me, in case you have not noticed, that the Wolv, and the Scythians for that matter, have all focused on getting to me and have become confused when I borrow a different lifetime.”  Heads nodded.  They had noticed.  Greta also nodded and checked her armor.  It would adjust in size and shape to whatever lifetime she currently inhabited.  Then she finished her thought.  “It is an oversight I am sure Mithrasis will correct soon enough, but in the meanwhile, I will be other people for a while.  You will know it is me from the armor I wear, so do not be afraid.”

With that, Greta stood and went to the back of the boat where she turned her back on everyone, sat, and dangled her feet off the edge.  Mavis came to sit beside her, but Greta did not mind.  At the same time, a fog rolled in from both riverbanks until it swallowed the boat, whole.  It appeared thick enough to make sight difficult more than a few feet away, and it felt very unnatural, but comforting in a way, like someone laid a warm blanket down for the boat to silently sail beneath.

When Greta felt sufficiently covered, she traded places through time with Amphitrite, queen of the waters.  Mavis turned her head away from the goddess out of respect and began to worry her hands in her lap.  Amphitrite smiled for her, but said nothing.  Her mind wandered all the way to the other side of the world, to the savannah lands of the Amazon.  She found the school of fish she was after and insulated them against the cold waters of the River Heartbreak.  With a thought, she transported them to where she was, and tied them to the boat, to follow in their wake and not get lost.

“I felt something,” Mavis admitted.

“Hopefully unseen by bigger fish,” Amphitrite said and stood, so Mavis stood.  As they stepped from the edge, Amphitrite went away and the Storyteller came to fill her shoes.  He paused a moment to take a good look at Mavis, a real, live elf maiden, a privilege he did not have in his lifetime; though that, as they say, is a long story of its own.  “So how do I look?” he asked.

“Lovely,” Mavis said, and the devotion was so genuine, the Storyteller staggered.  He wondered why he could not show such devotion to the King of Kings.  He turned and spoke to the group, most of whom he could just make out in the fog.

“Howdy Folks.”

“He says hello,” Mavis translated the English.

“You kind of missed the impact,” the Storyteller said. “Words.  That is my business, you know.”

Pincushion interrupted.  “Lord, how can I cook in these circumstances?  I can’t hardly see the food.”

“Hush,” the Storyteller said and Pincushions eyes got big and her mouth closed.  “Just do your best.  That is all we can ever do.”  He sat and Mavis sat next to him to translate his words.  “This fog should keep the Wolv from seeing us and hopefully keep them from smelling us.”

“True enough,” Bogus interrupted.  “I can smell the trees along the river, but nothing beyond that.”

“I hope it will also interfere with their instruments. The only thing is, it will deaden the sound, but not stop it.”  The Storyteller whispered.  “We have to be as quiet as we can to avoid detection by Wolv ears.”

“Eats.”  Pincushion spoke up like she called a whole regiment for chow.  Everyone jumped.  Then everyone ate a fine lunch.

Four hours later, the Storyteller traded places with the Princess.  Somewhere in the back of her mind, the storyteller remembered that three or four hours was not enough to throw off the sleep routine.  She imagined if she remembered enough lifetimes, she could probably stay up for a whole week without ill effect as long as she traded places with another life every three or four hours.  So at four hours, he became the Princess.  That happened about four in the afternoon.  At eight o’clock, when people began to get ready for bed, she became Martok the Bospori, an alien life that looked relatively human for a man only five feet tall, if he did not show his eye teeth and kept his yellow cat-like eyes turned away.  At midnight, Gallena of Orlan took over, which was not a person to frighten anyone, despite the pure white hair and lavender eyes.  Those things were hard to tell in the dark and fog; but she did have to keep her six foot, six inch Barbie-doll body seated the whole time.  This was not a problem since, apart from the one on watch, the others were unfortunately snoring.

R6 Greta: The Wolf and the Wolv, part 3 of 3

Stinky and the horses were taken by men who promised to tend them well while Greta looked around and asked if anyone else had wandered into the village in the last several days.  She felt determined to find the ones who were supposed to travel with her, but if they were not there, she thought she might have to leave without them.  She pulled her cloak tight against the rain and stepped up to join the argument.

Greta and her friends ended up by the wall and the front gate where the bonfire got built for the feast, if the rain should ever stop.  Dunova, Alesander and Briana tried to make the elders of the Dragon Clan understand the danger, which was difficult since they had only seen and heard the Wolv from a distance.  Hermes and Lucius both got up on the wall in different places and tried to make the same argument.  Sadly, the elders insisted that they had a good, solid wall and they did not grasp the urgency until a wolf topped the wall and shredded the watcher in that spot. It dropped to the ground by the gate, looking like a wet dog with matted fur, but it had death in its eyes.  One great whiff of air and its nostrils flared, and its teeth showed in a primeval growl.  It looked straight at Greta, but got distracted by Alesander, Dunova and an elder of the Dragon Clan.

All three men drew their swords, and Dunova and the elder charged what they saw as a beast.  The Wolv laughed a recognizable laugh.  It stayed covered with a personal energy shield.  Alesander paused on the laugh while Dunova and the elder’s swords received a strong enough electric shock to make the men stagger.

“My turn,” Festuscato spoke loud and clear in Greta’s head.  “The least I can do for your kindness to the wounded men who fought in Cornwall, and to Cador.”

“Be my guest,” Greta heard from Gerraint and she thought Gerraint’s imposing size would not impress the Wolv in any case.

The Wolv smiled a very doggy, toothy smile and pulled out its own weapon.  Everyone saw two red flashes of light and Dunova and the elder burst into flame with great holes in their middles.

“Go for the weapon,” Greta yelled, as she vanished from that place and Festuscato arrived in his armor and his own weapons in hand.  Alesander somehow understood the message, and he struck at the claw that held the fire pistol.  He got blown back by the electrical discharge from the personal shield, but the pistol cracked and fell with Alesander’s sword to the dirt.

The Wolv howled and looked again for Greta, but she was no longer there.  Festuscato and Briana managed to get close thanks to Alesander’s distraction. Festuscato struck first at the other claw where he saw the watch-like wristband that controlled the Wolv shielding. He cracked the watch, his sword being insulated against electro-magnetic discharges.  Festuscato struck just before Briana’s sword came against the Wolv neck.  Her sword half-severed the head, but still the Wolv managed a claw across Briana’s middle. Briana got cut, but not badly as her leather armor proved strong and her one in a million reflexes made her jump back.

Festuscato followed his first blow with a second that chopped off the main part of the Wolv arm, and Mavis sank an arrow into the Wolv chest where the heart ought to be.  Still, the Wolv refused to go down until Mavis sank a second arrow and Festuscato made a swing for the Wolv leg.  Then three men of the Dragon clan ran up and their two swords and an ax finally finished the job.

Alesander got up, groggy.  Briana held him and tried not to bleed on him.  Lucius shouted from the wall and Hermes jumped to the ground.  Three more Wolv came over the top, and Festuscato swallowed hard for everyone present. Three men died and it took four of them to defeat one Wolv.  Three Wolv seemed insurmountable, and worse, the Wolv knew it.  They were content to take their time and look for Greta; and Festuscato had no doubt who they were after.  The Wolv even talked among themselves in a language no one knew and with a tongue no human tongue could imitate.  They pulled out their weapons when the men of the Dragon Clan mustered the courage to attack.  But no shots were fired and the two sides never met as all three Wolv vanished. Rhiannon appeared next to Festuscato, and the first thing she did was make the clouds move off and the rain stop.

“Mother,” she started right in sounding defensive. “I know your rule about not killing alien people, but Wolv are hardly people.”

“If I had a copper for every time someone used that excuse.  Tsk, tsk,” Festuscato said and went away to let Greta return.  “They are near enough to being people, certainly smarter than dragons.”

“But Mother.”

“Hush.  And the technology?”

“Here.”  Rhiannon held out a leather bag.  It contained five pistols and five wrist bands for personal shields.  “There were six on Celtic land.  This was all they had.  I don’t know what you want to do with the broken ones.”

“It was all they would need for a hunt,” Greta said and accepted the bag.  “You can send the broken ones to Avalon.”  Greta stepped up and kissed Rhiannon on the cheek.  “I don’t blame you.  I thank you for saving many lives.”

“But Mother.  I won’t be able to help you once you leave these lands.  Mithrasis has twisted the minds of the Wolv and they won’t rest until they eat you.”

“Hush,” Greta said a second time.  “I have already told you.  The day for Celtic lands in this part of the world is long gone.  You need to unravel these lands and go over to the other side.  You say you still have work to do, and I won’t argue about it, only you need to stay in the Celtic homeland, in Gaul or Amorica or even Ireland if you have a mind.”

“I will,” Rhiannon said with conviction, but Greta knew it would be done when Rhiannon got good and ready.  “For Mother,” Rhiannon said and returned the kiss to Greta’s cheek, and she vanished along with the cracked pistol and broken wrist watch.

Greta watched Lucius and Hermes run up.  Mavis stood by her side as always.  Alesander and Briana stood in awe of the way Greta and the goddess were so familiar, and they kept silent and waited to hear what Greta had to say.

“We can sleep safely tonight.  Enjoy it while you can.  We leave at dawn, no horses.”

“Mother Greta.”  Someone called from a distance.  Greta turned and nodded, like it was about who she expected.  One tall and one short man came up.  The tall one was Vedix, the hunter from the Bear Clan who once kicked Greta before Danna herself put the fear of the gods in him. The short one wore a glamour that could never fool Greta.  He was Bogus the Skin, a full blood little one who lived up to his stereotype, which was an imp.  But he was also Fae and Berry’s grandfather, so his presence came as no surprise.

“Introduce yourselves to the rest of the crew and then get a good night’s sleep.  We leave when the sun breaks.”  Greta took Mavis and Briana with her to the place set aside for her.  Briana’s scratches needed tending and then Greta planned to follow her own advice and sleep while she could.

Briana remained quiet while Greta applied the bandages.  The scratches were not deep, but they had to guard against infection.  Normally, an elect would heal quickly from such a wound, but no telling what alien microbes might be lurking beneath the surface.

When Greta curled up beneath her blanket, she wondered if Festuscato ever got Patrick to Ireland, or if he found some new pirates to fend off first.  She imagined Mousden screaming about pirates and smiled.  She wondered how Gerraint’s marriage might be working out.  She thought with luck she might dream about them in the night and for one night escape her own troubles.  No telling what she thought about next because she put her hand to her belly and fell asleep.



The crew finds the only path safe from the Wolv, not over or around, but through Movan Mountain.  Until next time, Happy Reading.


R6 Greta: The Wolf and the Wolv, part 1 of 3

It became several hours wait, and Greta had to cut Ardwyn before there was a successful delivery.  Ardwyn stayed very brave, but the cut was small and better than a tear.  She had a boy, and Greta immediately recited a litany of dos and don’ts.  She especially emphasized that Ardwyn must eat plenty of greens against iron poor blood, and the baby must get plenty of sun, a precaution against jaundice.  Once that got done, and they finished the tea, and the women and Gwydden were all cleaned up, they made for the feast.  It had been dark for a couple of hours, but in the way such things go, the party just started getting into full swing.

“I must say, I never realized what it meant to give birth.  It is far more complicated and dangerous a thing than I ever imagined.”  Gwydden grinned like a proud father, which was just as well because Meloch became speechless.  Ardwyn’s mother, aunt and cousins all showed up and threw Meloch out of the house altogether, and now Meloch plodded along trying to come to grips with the idea of having a baby.

“And painful,” Greta added.  “You have no idea.”

“Painful,” Eofach agreed.  “But let me add, if I was alone, I don’t know if Ardwyn and the baby would have survived.  You claimed to have no miracles, but what you did to relieve the pressure inside where you could not see was as close to a miracle as I have ever seen.”

“The goddess surely has blessed you,” Gwydden added.

Greta looked at Mavis who just grinned, but Greta had something else in mind.  She knew Mithrasis was not on her side.  She caught that much when Nameless kissed the woman.  So, which goddess were they talking about?  For that matter, which goddess trained Briana to the sword?

They came into the light and Meloch ran off to tell his friends the good news.  The elders of the Raven Clan came up to offer Greta a special seat, and Gwydden and Eofach sang Greta’s praises and said she deserved the best the clan had to offer, but Greta had something else in mind.  She spied Briana seated with Alesander and the Sergeants and headed straight toward her.

“Which goddess?”  She blurted out the question and threw her hands to her hips for emphasis. There were a few moments before Briana and the others figured out what she was asking.  An elder of the Raven Clan gave the answer.

“Why, Rhiannon.  Surely you knew.  To us she is simply the goddess.  She first appeared and saved us when we were driven from the land.  She brought us here and has watched over us ever since.” The man spoke like this was something even the smallest of children knew.  He got shocked by Greta’s reaction, and so was everyone else except Alesander, and Mavis of course.

“Rhiannon!”  Greta called to the sky, and her voice sounded angry.  “Rhiannon, show yourself here, now.”  Greta stepped away from the bonfire.  “Rhiannon, I mean it.  You are a hundred and fifty years passed the time of dissolution and I need an explanation.”

“What do you know about such things?” A lovely woman asked as she appeared beside the fire.

Greta grinned beneath her frown.  “I get the first crack at you, you naughty girl.  I know you are not Talesin, but turn around.”

Rhiannon turned slightly red but before she could voice her objection, Greta went away and let Danna stand in her place.  Greta considered the political implications of what she was doing.  “Mother?” Rhiannon breathed as Danna made them disappear from the sight of the people so they could talk in private

“I said turn around.”  Danna tapped her foot and Rhiannon turned, slowly.  Danna stepped up and slapped the goddess sharply on the butt. “You naughty girl.”

Rhiannon squeaked and turned again with one hand rubbing away the sting.  “Ouch,” she added.

“It wasn’t that hard,” Danna smiled for her. “I know you have work yet to do, but you need to stay away from my elect.”  Danna pointed at Briana.  “You may have some men to train in the future, but you have no business training women in force of arms.”

“But Mother.  She was so alone and afraid of her natural gifts.  I just showed her she had a purpose, a high calling to defend the women and children when the men were away at war.”  Rhiannon stomped her foot.  “I served on the Amazon High Council.  That must be worth something.”

“I won’t quibble,” Danna said.  Rhiannon served a couple of times when Pendaron was preoccupied. “But we have reached the age where the one-in-a-million warrior women have to work things out for themselves. Besides, the larger issue is this enclave of Celtic people you have built and hidden away.  You know this cannot be sustained.  All of this land belongs to the Germans and Greco-Romans. It is old German or Latin with a touch of Scythian or Slavic influence.  Your people here will have to integrate or they will be wiped out.”

“But Mother.”

“If you must work and cannot join your brothers and sisters on the other side, go to Gaul, Amorica, the British Isles, maybe Galicia.  That is your natural place, but not here and not now.  The days when the Celts, and the Amazons for that matter, were used by the gods as a border people, a buffer between the jurisdictions of the various houses of the gods is passed.  Work in your rightful place, but not for too long.  The time of dissolution has passed and even I do not belong here.”

“But mother.”

Danna stepped up and kissed the goddess on the cheek. “There now.  All better.  And now poor Greta will have some explaining to do.”

“Tell her Chobar of the Dog Clan has given himself to Mithras and is two days behind with many warriors, but there are others coming to go north with her so she must wait for them in the village of the Dragon Clan.”  Rhiannon said no more.

“Cryptic as a Celtic goddess,” Danna said and Rhiannon let out her radiant smile.

“I dare not say more.”  Rhiannon offered a small curtsey before she vanished.

Danna sighed.  She would not search the location or the mind of the men of the Dog Clan, and would not hinder them.  This was Greta’s life.  Greta had to fight her own battles, and cross her own bridges, and Danna could not be sure if Rhiannon said too much saying anything at all. Danna made herself reappear behind the crowd and became Greta once again. She called softly knowing Mavis would hear and respond.

“Lady!”  Mavis got enough attention as she pushed through the crowd so the crowd slowly turned around to see Greta standing there.  Alesander, Briana, Dunova and the elders of the Raven Clan followed, but Greta asked a question as soon as they were able to hear.

“What just happened?”  She really wanted to know what they saw and what they think happened, but if they got the impression that she did not know what happened, she would not dissuade them.  “I came up here from Ardwyn’s house and then I found myself standing here behind the crowd.” Greta always stayed careful not to actually lie.

“I remember the story,” Dunova spoke with enough volume to announce it to the many who were present.  “The mother goddess once possessed you and appeared in your place among the Bear Clan.  That is a story the people will not easily forget.  Well, it happened again.”

“Danna can be good in that way,” Greta admitted as she took Mavis’ hand and grabbed Briana’s hand and dragged them up to the platform that had been set up for her.  She knew how this worked.  They would seat her in the place of honor and promptly ignore her.  She became determined to have some company.  Either that, or she would sit down and fall asleep from exhaustion, not that the people would especially notice.

When they reached the platform and two more chairs were fetched so Mavis and Briana could sit on either side of her, Greta whispered.  “But then, Danna won’t be helping us.  She says we have to cross our own bridges.  Grumble.”  She turned to Briana and spoke up against the music.  “So, what do you think?”

“That was Rhiannon, the goddess.  I didn’t know she had a mother.”

Greta frowned.  “More like her great-great grandmother, but Danna doesn’t like to think that way, so all her children and grandchildren and so on call her mother.” Briana bowed her head to the wisdom of her druid and did not question how she knew what she knew.  That made Greta frown again.

After a time, Greta asked Mavis how she liked the music.  Briana, who clapped along, called it wonderful, thinking Greta was talking to her. Mavis shook her head.  “A bit flat,” she said, and then added, “I could call a few friends to come and liven it up a bit.”

“Don’t you dare.”  Greta imagined a bunch of little ones, fiddlers, drummers and flautists enchanting everyone so they danced until they dropped.

A short while after that, Greta did what she feared and fell asleep in her chair.