M3 Margueritte: Roland, part 3 of 3

Roland paid the gypsy woman before Margueritte could speak, but the woman’s practiced eye caught her reluctance.

“Little unbeliever?”  The woman spoke better Frankish than Breton.  “Do not be afraid.  Though the world is far greater than you could ever imagine, full of sprites and demons of all shapes and sizes, you need not fear them.  They will not touch you here.”  The suggestive speech had been designed to stir up anticipation and a little fright, even as the woman said, do not be afraid.  Margueritte did not get taken.  Besides, she had friends in all shapes and sizes, so she heard nothing new in what the woman said.

“Lord.”  She took Roland’s hand and he looked to Margueritte with a most silly look.  “You have a strong hand.  I see you have already known battle, but many more will follow after the first.  You will be well renowned and well respected and win great honor and praise for your deeds.  Great courage I see, and even kings will seek your counsel.  Such is a future to be desired.”

Margueritte took a breath.  The woman told him what she undoubtedly thought he wanted to hear.  Perhaps she was safe.  Perhaps the woman was merely a fake.  Good grief, Margueritte thought.  The woman could have said that much just by looking at his clothes.

“Five children.  No.  Only four will live, but they will follow you in honor, especially your two sons.  Great are the days ahead for you, and this, then is your young Lady?”

And why should a fortune teller have to ask such a thing?  Margueritte wondered.  The woman reached for her hand, but Marguerite still felt reluctant.  “Go ahead,” Roland said, quietly, so as not to break the spell.

At last Margueritte put her hand out.  The woman looked and turned the hand over and back again.  She reached for Margueritte’s other hand and stood, knocked over the stool she sat on, her eyes wide and her look far away.  “It is the one,” she said.  “It is,” and she spoke for a minute in a language neither Roland, Margueritte, nor Thomas had ever heard, and then she leaned in close and breathed garlic and onions in Margueritte’s face.  “The curse,” she said in her breath.  “The curse!”  She screamed and hurried out the back of the tent.

Margueritte felt in shock and near tears, not knowing why.  Roland picked her up by the arm and with Thomas they left that area.

“What could have come over that woman?”  Roland wondered out loud.

“I can’t imagine.  I’ve never seen the like,” Thomas said.

“And she was doing such a marvelous job of telling us just what we wanted to hear.”  Roland said.  Margueritte looked up and felt glad he had not been taken in.

“Just what I was thinking,” she sniffed, and took out her handkerchief to wipe her nose and dab her eyes.

“Strange, that,” Thomas said.  “But I would not worry about what a gypsy says.  They are a strange breed altogether.”

“Breedies.”  Margueritte remembered what Goldenrod had called them, and they went back to the inn where Thomas left them to attend to the king’s table.

Margueritte did not sleep well that night.  She never did just before that time of the month.  She felt glad that the morning would be filled with races, and the afternoon filled with games.  Likely, she would see little of Roland until that evening.  She felt excited about that, because for the first time she would be attending the king’s feast instead of waiting in the cold and dark inn for the fire to return.  With that thought she slept a little.  She still got up in the morning before most.

Lord Bartholomew won the race that year, and handily.  Margueritte did her best to congratulate her father, but he said it was a hollow victory since there was no Gray Ghost to beat.  In the afternoon there were indeed games, and she was thrilled to see Roland do so well at so many things.  Normally, she would have been at the fair with Elsbeth and Maven, but this year she decided it would be best if she simple sat quietly.  She would have done so, cheering on her quarterback, as she thought of him, and lamenting the fact that she was not more the beautiful cheerleader type, except for two interruptions.

The first came in the form of fat Brian, the village chief who sat beside her on the bench and looked over the field where they were pitching stones and trees.  She just started wondering if Roland might think the Breton went in for some strange sports when the chief spoke.

“Have you seen Curdwallah?” he asked.  It seemed a very strange question.

“No,” Margueritte said.

“Neither have I,” Brian responded.  “But you can be sure she is around.”  He got silent for a moment, watched the games and pretended that he was not talking to anyone at all.  Margueritte’s curiosity finally got the better of her.

“Why do you ask?”

“Because Duredain the king’s druid and Canto, my own druid, are both completely under her spell, as far as I can tell.  Canto I can handle, but Duredain has the king’s right ear, you know.”

“Why do you say they are under her power like that?”  Margueritte asked.

“Because they do not seem themselves.  Because they are mouthing words I have heard her speak.  Because that woman is a witch in the worst possible terms,” he said.  Another moment came of watching before Margueritte spoke again.

“So why are you telling me this?”

Brian looked at her for the first time, but only briefly.  He looked away again before he spoke.  “Because I know you have some connection with the powers in this world, yourself.”  He put his hand up quickly to stop her mouth and then pretended to wipe his chin.  “I have my sources.  I know there are spirits hanging around your home and I know they answer to you.  I have seen things through the touch of your own hand, in case you have forgotten.”

Margueritte looked down at her lap and worried her hands.

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

MONDAY

Margueritte gets Backed into a Corner.  Don’t Miss It.  Until then, Happy Reading.

*

M3 Margueritte: Roland, part 2 of 3

Roland looked up and Marguerite turned, both having rather silly smiles, just as Hammerhead stuck all six potatoes in his mouth at once and chewed and announced.  “These are good to eat.”  Margueritte barely stopped him before he disgorged his chewed bits into the good bin.

She thanked the little ones and asked them to see if Luckless or Tomberlain might need their assistance.

“Always glad to be of service,” Grimly said, and Roland rolled up his sleeves and helped.

“That gnome still has a lot of imp in him,” Margueritte said, and that sparked a good discussion, but the kiss they both thought about never got mentioned.

When the evening came. Marta came to Margueritte’s room where she helped brush Margueritte’s hair.  That near black hair, when taken down, now fell to the floor which made it more than five feet long.  Marta had begun to help her care for it, though she also bore the brunt of nearly every other duty in the house.  Margueritte was grateful, and they were both rather giddy that night, though Margueritte became a bit miffed by bedtime.  She could hardly get a word in about Roland.  Marta kept talking about her Weldig, the potter, whom she called, Mister Potter.  And every time Margueritte did mention something, it only reminded Marta of something else.  Marta was not long for this world, Margueritte reminded herself, and she reconciled herself to having good dreams, which she did.

By the time they reached Vergenville that next day, Margueritte felt rather grumpy.  She knew what was going on, physically, but she thought the timing rather poor.  While she waited at the inn for Roland to deliver his letters to the king, all the talk around her was of the dragon.  The people hoped that now that the king had come from his western court, something might be done about this scourge.

“I heard it was as big as a tower,” one said.

“Big as the whole village,” another countered.

“I heard it ate a whole fishing boat in one gulp, fisherman and all,” one said.

“A whole fishing fleet,” yet another spoke.

“It’s big, but not that big,” Lord Bartholomew turned to the table.

“You’ve seen it then,” the baron concluded.

“I have,” Sir Barth nodded, and stopped Margueritte’s hand.  “No,” he said.

“Father.”  She complained, rolled her eyes, but acquiescing in the end.  She contented herself with unfermented cider, though she thought she ought to be able to try the harder stuff.

“Bartholomew.”  Lady Brianna called from the doorway.  Owien stood there, and Elsbeth was going, too.  Bartholomew stood and downed his drink at once.

“Coming,” he said.  “Time for the Fens.”

“But I thought the king said you were not supposed to do that anymore,” Baron Bernard questioned, with a smile.

Bartholomew shrugged.  “Young Owien has so been looking forward to handing out the soap, I hate to disappoint the boy,” he said.

“You’re not going this year?”  The Baron asked after they left.  Margueritte shook her head.  “Oh, that’s right.  Your young man.”

“I bet he gets to drink the real stuff,” she said, in an attempt to not turn red at the thought of her young man.

“You had better wish he doesn’t like the stuff,” the baron suggested, as Constantus came crashing in the door, all but swearing.

“Don’t bother,” Baron Bernard said.  “Bartholomew’s gone to the Fens.”

Constantus calmed down instantly, got a drink and took a seat with his friend.  “That dragon got my Gray Ghost.”

“Ah!”  The Baron smiled, knowingly.

“It didn’t.”  Margueritte felt concerned.  Constantus looked up and patted her hand reassuringly.

“It was the Gray Ghost number two,” he said.  “And really too old to be racing again.  The truth is Gray Ghost number three is not ready.  Still too young.”

“Too young?”  The Baron asked.

“Yes, and not a true gray in any case.”

“Too bad,” Margueritte said.  “Father has been breeding Arabians to get a winner, and now he’ll never know.”  They all had a little chuckle at that thought.

Not long after that, Roland returned with the bard, Thomas of Evandell.  Margueritte slid down the bench so Roland could sit comfortably beside her, and then he, the bard, the baron and Lord Constantus had a grand old time all around her.

At last, Marguerite sighed, and Roland got the hint.  “I think it would be good to see this fair of yours, Thomas,” he said.  He rose-up and put his empty tankard which had been full of ale on the bar counter, and Thomas rose with him.  “And would my lady like to accompany us?”  Roland added.

Margueritte rose immediately.  She said nothing but merely took Roland’s arm, and then Thomas’ arm as well for balance.  Together, they went into the market fair.  Thomas said, “Well I’ll be,” more than once, because as long as he held Margueritte’s arm, he saw what she and Roland saw.  Every little one, every sprite, elf, dwarf and fee in the market area, though otherwise invisible to the people, came and paid their respects to the girl before they began to pilfer their little bits.  Odd, though, that Thomas was not truly amazed, nor the least bit frightened by it all.  He said he could not tell all those stories for all of those years without believing at least some of them.  He did ask, however, why they could see the sprites when no one else could and why the little spirits were so careful to pay their respects to Margueritte.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Roland teased.  “Clearly my lady’s charms surpass those of other, ordinary mortals.”

Margueritte struggled and at last produced the littlest burp.  “Excuse me, Gentlemen,” she said, and Roland fell over for laughing.

When they came to the end of the royal fair, they found a small gypsy camp had been set up.  Margueritte thought it odd that there were no little ones among the gypsies, but she said nothing to the others.  She felt reluctant to enter the area herself, but with some persuasion she came along, and the first place they came to, was a tent with an older woman who claimed she could tell fortunes in a man’s palm.

M3 Margueritte: Burning Questions, part 1 of 3

Late in the spring in the year of our Lord, 710, when Margueritte turned thirteen, a great caravan got spotted in the northeast quarter, headed toward the Mark and for Amorica.  Margueritte was out riding with Elsbeth and Tomberlain when they found it.  There were some riders with the caravan, but mostly mule and oxen wagons that moved slowly across the fields.  Tomberlain went for Bartholomew, but Margueritte and Elsbeth refused to move from their perch.  They were on a hillside, hidden enough by the trees to not be an obvious target, so on the promise that they not move an inch, Tomberlain went, and he was not gone long.

Lord Bartholomew and every man of the March he could muster came armed to the rendezvous.  Even young Owien came with them, having taken up as page to Sir Gilles, Bartholomew’s sergeant at arms.  They rode down toward the oncoming troop, slowly and carefully, not knowing what to expect.  Bartholomew, of course, told the girls to stay put, but of course they did not.

Several men rode out from the wagons to face their visitors.  The men did not appear hostile, and they did not appear to be armed.  Appearances can be deceiving, but in this case, they turned out to be gypsies, that wretched and miserable race said to be doomed to wander over the earth, never to have a home of their own for the great sins of their forefathers.  Margueritte never thought that was quite fair to the children and grandchildren, and she felt a pang of conscience when she drew near.

Margueritte pulled up to wait, but Elsbeth could hardly keep herself from riding into the midst of them.  They were stopping at any rate.  The day was on.  Marguerite did not hear what deal her father made to have them pass through the Mark unmolested, but she felt sure it was pass through.  There would be no long camps on the Breton border.

Margueritte, however, did hear what Goldenrod whispered.  “Breedies,” she called them with a turned-up nose.

“What do you mean, breedies?”  Margueritte asked.

“They got little one blood in them,” she said.  “Not much, but enough to make them smelly.”

“Hey!  I’m a breedie, half Frank and half Breton,” Margueritte said.

“You’re a human bean.”

“Being.”

“You all smell stinky, the same,” Goldenrod said and rolled her eyes, as if everyone knew this.

“Thanks a lot.”  Margueritte kicked her horse to get a closer look.

Lord Bartholomew got invited to examine the camp to be sure the gypsies were not hiding the weapons of a secret army, and Tomberlain and Elsbeth went with him and his troops, so Margueritte thought it would be all right.  When she got near, however, she saw something she did not expect to see.  Curdwallah was speaking with one of the gypsy chiefs while at the same time trying to blend into the background with the hope that Sir Barth and his troop would not recognize her.  Margueritte recognized her.  Curdwallah the hag could not escape recognition despite how much she appeared like just another gypsy witch.

“Invisible?”  Margueritte checked with Goldenrod.

“Naturally,” Goldenrod responded with some miff to think that Margueritte had to remind her.

“Fly there.”  Margueritte pointed and quickly looked away so as not to let on that she saw Curdwallah.  “I must know what she is doing here so far south of her place.  I must know what she is saying.”

“Oooo.”  Goldenrod stood on Margueritte’s shoulder.  “Spies for gossip.”  Margueritte felt the fee practice peeking in and out from behind her hair several times before she took off.

“But Lady, the price you ask is too steep,” the gypsy said.

“I warned you not to enter my territory without my permission.”

“But we have gone around.  You are not disturbed.”

“You misjudge.”  Curdwallah put her hand to his shoulder, squeezed a little, which caused the man to grimace in pain.  “Amorica is mine.  All the territory is mine, and you will meet my price, or you will pay in other, less pleasant ways.”

“I will do what I can.”  She squeezed a little more.  “All right. All right.”  He yelped and fell to his knees.

“But wait.  There are too many eyes here, and I feel certain someone is listening in.”  Curdwallah turned slowly around and nearly stopped right where Goldenrod hid.  Fortunately, the fairy, though invisible to mortal eyes, thought it prudent to also hide behind a bucket.  Curdwallah’s eyes moved on.  “We will be better in your wagon,” Curdwallah said, and the poor gypsy led the way while Goldenrod sped back to Margueritte’s shoulder. She peeked out from the security of Margueritte’s hair before she said anything at all.

On hearing, Margueritte wheeled about and rode back to the hill, and then home, thinking the whole way.  When she told her father about it later, he chided her.

“Why didn’t you tell me right away, while we were there?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” Margueritte admitted.  “I didn’t think of that.  I did not know if it was important or not.”

One thing that was important came up some days later. It happened during Beltain of that year, not many days after the gypsies, when lady Brianna’s conscience finally needed to be cleared.  Tomberlain and Owien were out proving what hard heads they had, as Margueritte put it, but the girls were kept close to home.  Lady Brianna was not going to risk another Beltain romp, and on that day, she took the girls into the chapel where Aden the Convert had taken up temporary residence.

This thing had weighed heavily on Lady Brianna’s mind since Beltain a year ago, and really since the little ones first arrived in their lives.  To that end, she insisted that Little White Flower come to church.  The poor fee acted frightened out of her wits just to think of it, but one look at Father Aden calmed her, greatly.

Aden had actually been taken to Iona as a baby in his mother’s arms.  His own father had died doing no less a thing than saving the king’s life.  Aden grew up in Iona and lived twenty years under the eyes and tutelage of the monks. At age twenty, he felt the great calling to return to his native land and spread the gospel, and he received a warm reception at first for the sake of his father.  Some ten years later, the reception had cooled considerably, and at times, especially during the seasons, Aden felt grateful for the safety of the Frankish mark.

“But it is the Celtic way,” he said.  “I look to the scholars of Iona and the people look to me.  The children look to their parents, and on down the generations until we are able to make our own Iona here in Amorica, and grow our own scholars, steeped in the knowledge of the Lord.  It is better than looking, like sheep, to some distant Bishop to know what we are supposed to think and do.”

Then the topic turned to Little White Flower and the rest.  The fairy turned beet red when Aden examined her, and he seemed not a little embarrassed himself.  Then there were hours of discussion, searching as much of the scriptures as they had, and finally concluding on this note:  First, that it was wise of Sir Barth to charge his people in the strongest possible terms to say nothing of their presence to anyone at any time, and second, that there were more things in Heaven and on Earth than they could imagine

R5 Greta: The Old Ones, part 2 of 3

After that, there only passed snatches of conversations until it got dark and their captors brought some mashed meal and water.  It hardly seemed enough to sustain them, and Greta felt faint from hunger, having gone all day again without food.  One meal a day was not easy.  On the other hand, she imagined she might be losing some weight.  She really did not want to get round, like Mama. That thought did not help much.

Each person found a place to lie down, alone.  Drakka became the first to sleep.  As soon as Drakka began to snore, Koren crawled over beside Greta.  He shook her because her back was turned, but she was not asleep.

“Greta,” he whispered.  “Greta, I want to tell you why we are here.  Greta.”  She stopped his hand.

“I’m listening,” Greta whispered in return.

“It was Drakka’s father, Eldegard.  When the men rode out of the village after Lady Brunhild, he told us to keep an eye on things.  He feared Jodel’s father or one of the others might raise more men to swell the ranks of support for the Romans.  He said we were to watch and stop anyone who headed out for Ravenshold.  He said if we could not stop them, we were to kill them. Then you left town to cross the forest to Ravenshold.  We followed.”

“Drakka’s father, Eldegard?”  She got a clear picture, and her suspicions had been correct.  Darius was riding into a trap, to be squeezed between the hammer and the anvil.

“I want you to know.”  Koren went on.  “I only came along to see that Drakka did not hurt you.  I-I wouldn’t like it if you were hurt.”

Greta looked at him and he looked away.  She kissed his cheek.  “Thank you, Koren,” she said, while he turned scarlet.  “But you need to get some rest now.  We should all try to get some sleep.”

“Yes, you are right,” Koren said, while Greta scolded herself for sounding exactly like her mother talking to the children.  “I’ll be over here.  Good-bye, I mean, goodnight Greta.  I’ll see you later, in the morning.  Goodnight.” He crawled to the other side of the room and Greta glanced at Rolfus.  Rolfus’s eyes were open.  He faced her and as far as she could tell, he heard everything.

“What?”  She shot at him and tried hard to push her mother words away.  She wanted to know if he had a problem.

“Who can sleep with that racket?”  Rolfus frowned and pointed at Drakka, who snored.  He turned over and presumably shut his eyes.

Greta also scooted down and tried to get comfortable on the bare floor.  As she did, she got the distinct notion that Danna not only spoke to her, but said that she would probably have to pay a visit to the people in the morning, and perhaps visit this Bogus the Skin as well. Greta pulled back from the thought. What did that make her?  Far from fighting her own battles, she felt in danger of becoming no more than a pawn of the gods.  Nameless fought her enemies, Salacia kept her safe, and now Danna, to do what?  Gerraint said he was supposed to fight his own battles.  That only seemed fair.

“Is it wrong that Nameless, Salacia and Danna should seek to make peace between Dacian, Roman and Celt?” someone said.

“No.”  She almost responded out loud.  “But what does that make me, just a vessel for the gods to use and trash when they are done?”

“Greta will have to deal with the guns in her day.”  She remembered what Salacia said a lifetime ago, and sighed.  She turned away altogether from such thoughts and just as quickly, she found herself somewhere else.

Marcus, Darius, the Centurion Alesander, Herzglaw and Eldegard stood around a table in a tent of grand Roman design.  They were no doubt arguing about how they should enter Ravenshold in the morning. As soon as Greta saw them, Darius picked a cloth from a pocket in his cloak and went out into the night air.

“M’lord?” Gaius stood by the tent door, faithfully on duty.

Darius waved off his questions.  “They’ll argue a while longer, but in the end Marcus will have his way,” Darius said.

“M’lady?” Gaius asked another one-word question.

“It’s strange, Gaius, but despite being so far away I can almost sense her watching over me,” Darius said.  “But I suppose that is the way of it.  Foolish men go off to fight over foolish things while women stay home and wait and watch.”

Greta felt sure Darius spoke of his true love in far-away Rome.  She imagined that cloth as her token.  With a sudden surge of anger and hurt, she nearly lost the sight, but she settled herself and looked again.

“Women fight, too,” Gaius said.  “And just as much, but in other ways and on other battlefields.”

Darius nodded, as if to say Gaius was probably right, but he said no more.  He walked away from the campfires for a minute and stood under the natural light of the stars and the moon.  Suddenly, he came sharply into focus.

“The road is an ambush.”  Greta’s thoughts came quickly.  “Beware of Eldegard.”  Those thoughts poured out of her, again and again.

Darius’ eyes shifted, and for one brief moment it seemed as if they were looked eye to eye.

“Not tomorrow, but next morning.  Look for me. Look for me.”  She saw Darius lift his hand as if to touch her face and then she saw no more.  Someone kicked her.

“Get up!” The voice yelled.

Greta got up quickly, blinking against the bright morning light that streamed in the doorway. Drakka and Koren were being kept back by two men with swords.  Rolfus was still lying down, saying things in Dacian which made Greta hope the guards did not understand the language.

Despite Greta’s willing compliance, the one who kicked her also shoved her out the door. She spoke her feelings in his language.

“Don’t do something you might later regret,” she said.

“Shut-up.” He responded with a slap across her face.  Drakka and Koren both jumped but the door got slammed shut in their faces.  Drakka let out some epithets, but he got ignored. Greta felt the blood in the corner of her mouth, but she barely had time to touch it before she got dragged down the street.  She was not given the option of walking.  When they reached the center square, she ended up thrown face down in the dirt.

“I said fetch her, Vedix.  I didn’t say damage her.”  Baran spoke. He stood in the square with a number of men and one very old woman who was allowed a chair in which to sit.

“Sorry.” Vedix retorted with a laugh.

“He lies,” the old woman said.  The woman looked at Greta with a touch of sympathy as Greta got herself up and did her best to brush herself free of the mud.

“Fae.” Greta remembered the woman’s name. “I am pleased to meet you.”  And she was glad, indeed, to see another woman in the midst of all the men.  She hoped they might hear a woman’s counsel, and she also hoped that she and this druid, or wise woman might find some mutual ground on which to bond.

After a brief pause, Fae spoke softly.  “She does not lie.”

Greta looked at Baran and her curiosity must have shown.  He nodded, and explained.

“They say her grandfather was of the Vee Villy, though some believe he may have been one of the other spirits who haunt these woods.  Her father, the child of that rape, was never right.  He used to run off into the woods and disappear for days at a time.  Some said he went to dance to strange music in the fairy circles in the wilderness, under the moonlight.  Some say his other half needed time to live as well.  Other times, he seemed more normal.  They say when we escaped to these woods some seventy years ago, had it not been for him and his power over the animals and growing things, we all would have starved.”  Baran paused to shrug.  It all seemed mythology to him.

“In one of his more human moments, he impregnated a girl who gave birth to twins and promptly died in the birthing.  He disappeared, though some say he ran away and was lost in the mountains of Agdala, the Dragon.”  He shrugged again.  “But for us, the question was what to do with the twins.  After long debate, it was decided to give one to the Vee Villy in the hope that they would continue our prosperity without him here.  That prosperity has continued to this day.” He paused to take a breath.  He did not strike Greta as a believer in the earth spirits, but most of his people did believe, and as a politician, he blew with that prevailing wind.

“As a young woman, Fae went off with the people who wander the face of the earth forever and who have no home of their own.”

“Gypsies.” Greta named the people.  “It is so diluted now as to be almost nonexistent, but they, too, have the blood of the Vee Villy in their ancestry and have been cursed because of it.”

Fae’s eyes widened to imagine Greta knew anything at all about the Gypsies.  “She does not lie.”  Fae said. But Baran gave Greta a hard, cold stare.

“Sorry,” Greta said.  “Please go on.”

“Our Fae returned to us as you can see,” Baran continued.  “And she has served her people well for more years than any can remember.  But her greatest service has been to know when someone is telling the truth and when someone is telling lies.  She knows without fail,” Baran said, and he looked like he might be gloating.  “So be careful how you answer.”

Greta, however, read the man more deeply than he imagined.  She knew this was all show.  If she hung herself, that would just make things easy, but if she did not, he had already decided her fate.  It really was not fair, not the least because she was still having a hard time responding well in pressure situations.  Don’t panic, she told herself.

“What is your name?”  Baran asked. The lie detector always got the easy questions first.

“Greta.” She responded.  “The Watcher over History, the Traveler in Time, Greta, and I am also called the Kairos, but as the Kairos I have had and will have many names.”  She looked up.

“What?” Baran gave her a stern look, but that stern look changed to surprise when he heard Fae give a little gasp.

“She does not lie.”

Baran tried again. “How old are you?”

“I am seventeen.” Greta said to Baran’s satisfaction, but she had not finished.  “And I am over four thousand six hundred years old, though I cannot say exactly how much over.”

“What does that mean?”  Baran threw his hands up when he heard Fae.

“She speaks the truth.”  Fae looked at Greta with a strange and curious look on her face.

Baran gave it one more try.  “You are the Wise Woman for your people?”  He asked.

“I am, as you call it,” she said.  He almost looked smug again.  “And much more besides.”

“What more?” Baran asked without waiting for Fae to verify her honesty.

Greta herself did not know where these thoughts came from, but she repeated them with certainty.  “An experiment in time and genetics, a safety valve for the gods, the Watcher over History, the Traveler in Time, goddess to the little spirits of the earth, Lady of Avalon…”

“Shut-up.” Baran roared.  He threw his hands at her as if to say she started speaking nonsense, but Fae spoke clearly.

“She does not lie.”