Avalon 3.1: part 7 of 7, Carthair Revealed

“Can I stay and watch?” Vrya asked.

“Of course, mother,” Danna responded, and she clapped her hands. “Boys!” There were three who appeared. Two went straight to the body and hauled the ghost of Carthair out by his arms. He kicked and screamed and protested, but it did him no good. The third one went straight to Danna.

.“No, please,” Carthair protested. “It was Vorgen. He made me do it. I didn’t want to kill anybody. I was enchanted.”

“I was thinking the deepest pit for this one,” the man said to Danna.

Danna slapped the man hard on his cheek. “You were raised better than that. You do what is right, and nothing more and nothing less.”

“Ow.” The man put his hand to his cheek. “Mother!” he protested.

“I like that,” Vrya said. “Do the right thing.” Danna simply nodded.

“All right,” the man said. “But he did commit murder, and he was not enchanted so it won’t be easy on him.” He pointed to his compatriots and they all vanished along with Carthair’s ghost.

“Mother Vrya.” Danna turned to the goddess.

“I’ll meet your friends another time,” Vrya said and she vanished. So Danna also left that time, and Lucas instantly came back in her place, and it was just in time to be smothered by a young girl and her kisses. Lucas did not seem to mind, but when he could catch a breath, he yelled.inside Blacksmith


Boston nudged Roland with her head. “Is it safe now to uncover my eyes?”

The young girl giggled at Boston’s response and then spoke to Lucas like they did not have any visitors. “I was with Mother Vrya. We were making wedding plans.”

“Really? Who is getting married?”

The girl’s mouth opened wide in pretend shock. She slapped Lucas softly in his arm before she took the arm and turned at last to the travelers. “You are,” she said to the side.

“Oh,” Lucas pretended surprise. “To you, I suppose.”

“No one else,” the girl said and proceeded to introduce herself. “I’m Oneesis. I felt you all day walking down my mountainside. Sometimes it tickles.”

“The oread of the mountain,” Lincoln said.

“Lovely to meet you,” Alexis shook the girl’s hand.

Katie had a different thought and turned it on Lucas. “Do you ever marry a normal woman, human I mean.”

“Yes, yes. Normally. All the time.” His voice trailed off as a normal, human woman came into the blacksmith shop with two small children. The woman fell on Carthair’s body and began to weep. The children did not know what to do, so they stared at the travelers with weepy eyes. Men were coming in to take away the body, so Lucas thought it was wise to move everyone back outside.

blacksmith shop“Maybe we should all go over to Bogart’s,” he said.

After that, it was mostly a liquid supper. The elf bread Alexis offered up did not help much. Elder Stow opted out of the refreshment. He found a place to set their camp and put up his tent to rest. For the others, there was plenty of laughter and good feelings until Decker could not hold back his question.

“So who did Carthair murder?”

The locals grew quiet so the travelers did the same. They looked at Lucas. Oneesis put an arms around him and gave him a squeeze of support. “My father,” Lucas answered. He took a deep breath before he told the story.

“I was just thirteen or so. My father was the worker in metals in our village on the other side of the mountains, you see, and when traders came over the mountains with bronze artifacts, we just had to find out how to make that metal.   It took some convincing, but my older brother got the metal works and Father and I went back over the mountains with the traders.

“We spent almost two years here learning the craft of bronze making. Then we were ready to take our knowledge back to our people. Carthair was a helper in the shop, and he volunteered to go with us. He said he knew the way over the mountains and he could help once we got settled in back home. Father was agreeable.

“The first leg of the journey was the worst. It took a week going around, not through the goblin lair, to get to the stunted forest beside the glacier. We felt invigorated, because no part of the long journey to come would take us to so high an elevation. It was there that father let me hunt for something edible, as long as I didn’t wander too far. I found the goblin lair and made a request for some deer meat. You can imagine.

“Carthair took advantage of my absence to stab my father in the shoulder. Father knocked Carthair into a hole he had trouble getting out of, but then Father saw two men rushing up. They had followed all the way from the village. Father was bleeding badly, but he had no choice but to grab his bow and run.

“Father climbed the ice, thinking the men would not follow him there. He had a good head start and got way up on the glacier. The thing is, ice flows develop cracks as they move, especially when they are generally melting back, and it is. The last vestige of the last ice age. It may be gone in several thousand years. But anyway, he was losing blood and strength and knew they would catch him in time. He turned and shot Carthair in the belly. The men fired back, but it was Carthair’s arrow that pierced my father’s heart.

“Now Carthair was the one lagging behind and losing blood and strength. When he stepped over a crack in the ice and broke through, he plummeted into the ravine and got stuck down some twenty feet. He broke his leg. The other two men had no way to get him up, and anyway, already counted him dead, so they moved on.

“I returned to the camp. I saw the blood and pieced it together in my mind. I hid when the two men came though. They called Carthair no great loss, and said as a young boy I wouldn’t last three days in the wilderness this high up. I am ashamed to say it, but I let the goblins have the men. It was Aphrodite, of all people who found me, freezing, and took me to my father’s ghost. Then Hades showed up, but that is a very long story.”celtic town

The howl of a wolf sounded in the distance and echoed down the mountainside. The locals thought nothing of it since wolves were common in the alps. The travelers recognized the slightly human nuance in that sound, and Roland stepped out to confirm the full moon. They were about to discuss what measures to take when Elder Stow returned to the party.

“I set a screen around the village. The people will not be able to go out tonight, but the wolf should not be able to get in either.” He took a few discs out of a pocket in his belt. “Are there any unaccounted for villagers in the wilderness tonight?”

“By the way, Lucas,” Gunther looked over at the young man. “You did shut down the forge for the night, didn’t you?”

Lucas spilled his drink and jumped to his feet. “Damn!” He ran out. There was no telling what those dwarfs might be doing left to their own devices.

Avalon 3.1: part 2 of 7, Hunters On the Road

“Where to?” Lockhart asked, not that they had much choice on that narrow mountain path. It was either up or down.

“Up,” Boston answered with a careful look at the amulet. She would not look at Roland. She held on to her virtue in the night, but just barely. She knew it would not be long and all she could think was then the unicorn would not visit her, if she ever saw it again.

Roland was not looking at her, either. He was focused on the ghost and repeated what the ghost said. “Up.”

“Good enough,” Lockhart said and they started up into the snow filled heights.

Carthair floated along beside Decker when he was on the wing. “I am not at all comfortable with the Elder Stow,” he said. Elder Stow tended to float along on the other side of the column when there was room. When the way got narrow, Decker and the Elder slipped in behind Roland and Boston, in front of Alexis and Lincoln. Carthair stayed beside Decker’s right hand, and when it got really narrow and they had to travel in single file, he stayed right there, even if it meant floating out over the edge of a cliff.

“Gott-Druk. Neanderthal. Elder race,” Decker said.

“Yes,” Carthair agreed. “The people I don’t mind, but you have two witches and a light elf. The elf worries me. Elves sometimes escort dead people to their resting place, and I’m afraid he might take me to the wrong one.”

Decker said nothing, but he indicated that he understood. He would not want to die and be escorted to the wrong place.

When the travelers came to the top of a particularly treacherous climb, they found a wide and long stretch of relatively even ground. They also found a man there walking in their direction.

“Hello,” Boston called.horseback snowy forest

“Hello, witch,” the man shouted. He was frowning. “Bitch,” he added., and when he got close he began to insult her. “Coward. What are you, too good and pure?”

“Now wait a minute,” Roland started to object as the others crowded up to join them.

“Baby stealer.” He turned on Roland. “The imps were right. You must be cursed. Your whole family.” The man frowned at Alexis and then Lincoln. “Attracted to morons, I would say. Oh, and look you got an old one to drag around.” He looked at Elder Stow. “Kill you in a blink of an eye with all his fancy gadgets. Without them he is just a grubby caveman. And a ghost lover. Where is that fool of a ghost, anyway?” Decker could only shrug while Alexis interrupted.

“Can we help you? If you are headed down the way we came it is slick with ice, you should be careful.”

The man stared at Alexis for a second before his face blurred and his features became unstable. It took a few more seconds for the face and feature to stabilize, but then the man had a broad grin and kind, sparkling eyes.

“Good of you to say. Very kind of you.” The man’s smile enlarged to fill his face and Alexis could only imagine if he had the beard he might model for Santa Clause. “I am sure that is a virtue for which Lincoln loves you well.” He turned to Roland. “And you, young elf. You should marry that girl before she slips away. That would be a tragedy my other half would like well. And Elder Stow.” He turned again. “All of you, really, I feel if you stick together and help each other as you have been doing, you just might get home in one piece.” He looked at Lockhart. “By the way, I suppose you don’t exactly know where that young Lucas might be.”

“No,” Lockhart responded. “Not exactly.”

“No, I can see you don’t know exactly, and he may well be on the other side of the mountains as you suppose. Still.” The man disappeared and reappeared behind them and their horses. “I am presently charged to look for him, so I am looking.” He started down the way the travelers had come up, and he began to whistle.

Those who dismounted got back up on their horses, with Decker adding a bit of commentary. “Weird, again.”

“Janus,” Katie named the man.

“Eh?” Lockhart wondered.

“Two faces, like comedy and tragedy.”

“We are headed more or less across this open field,” Boston reported, checking the amulet and again not looking at Roland.

“What does the ghost say?” Lockhart asked.

“Not here,” Roland reported.

“I hope the bugger didn’t get himself lost,” Decker added.

alps in the snowSnow covered the field and muffled the sounds of their passage. The sky was cloudy all day but whether that was because the clouds were low in the sky or because they were high in the mountains was not clear. They were glad it did not start snowing.

“It is honestly hard to tell which way to go without our ghost guide,” Katie spoke quietly. There was something about the snow that encouraged stillness and quiet.

“I am iffy on the ghost guide, though it is impossible here to see the trail, if the trail still exists. It was never much of a road to begin with, even lower down.”

“Company,” Decker got their attention, and again the travelers stopped to greet three lovely ladies, in bare feet in the snow.

“Welcome,” Alexis tried, but the women weren’t buying it.

“Why are you hiding Lucas,” the first woman said.

“He must come with us,” the second woman said.

“We will make you tell us where he is,” the third woman said, and the travelers all felt that their minds were on fire. Every evil thought, every bit of wrongdoing, every mistake they ever made came crashing into consciousness. It was torture. They were tormented even with the good in their lives which was twisted to appear wicked.

Several travelers screamed. They all abandoned their horses and rolled on the ground in agony. Lockhart remembered one of those beauties bending over him with a grin of pleasure. The next thing he remembered someone hand held his and patted it gently.

“What?” Lockhart tried to sit up. “What happened.”

It was a man who let go of his hand and answered. “The furies got a bit zealous and the hedge the gods put around you rose up and slapped them.”

“Gave them a taste of their own medicine,” a woman said. “Ha! They will be in recovery for a while.”

“What?” Lockhart sat up quickly and counted heads.

“All will recover,” the man said. He stood over Lockhart. “I like these people. I claim them.”

“Hello? They are not dead,” the woman countered.

Lockhart watched Decker struggle to his feet while Katie crawled to him.

“But when they die, I put in my claim now. The furies won’t be hampered when they are dead.”

“You do and I’ll find all three of them husbands.”

“You wouldn’t. That would ruin them.”

“Yes and wait for the children.”

“So maybe I’ll take them now.”

“You do and I will find you a wife.” The woman grinned. “Besides. Hedge.”

“Oh, yeah. I guess I have to wait.” The man vanished. Katie arrived by Lockhart and leaned on his shoulders to get to her feet.

“Who was that man?” Katie asked.

“Hades,” the woman answered and then spoke off subject with a glimpse at Lockhart. “Katie, you have Amazon instincts. You can initiate things.”

Katie shook her head with an equally quick glimpse at Lockhart. “It doesn’t work that way in my world.”

“Yes,” the woman responded. “Some of the future things I have to think about,” and she vanished.

“Who was that woman?” Lockhart asked.

“Aphrodite,” Decker said before he went off to collect horses and think about what being on her list might mean.


Be sure and return tomorrow for part 3 of 7, Down in the Cold.