Preview of Coming Attractions: April 10, 2019

The story of Gerraint, son of Erbin, in the days of King Arthur, will continue in the next book:

Kairos Medieval Book 3: Light in the Dark Ages

M3) Gerraint: The Holy Graal   13 weeks of posts

Gerraint feels his days of struggle should be behind him.  All he wants is to retire to Cornwall with Enid, his love.  But when ghostly hands carry a cauldron across the round table, he knows he has to act.  Arthur deftly turns all talk to the Holy Graal, but Gerraint knows he has to stop the older men from recovering the ancient treasures of the Celts and dredging up the past.  Christendom is only a thin veneer, and if Abraxas is allowed to strip that away, history might be irrevocably changed.

Gerraint’s story will begin again one year from now right after the posting of Avalon, Season Six, which will post over 22 weeks and  serve as an interlude between the end of the Kairos and Rome series and the beginning of the Kairos Medieval series.  Of course, the Avalon stories: the prequel, the pilot episode, and seasons 1, 2, and 3 are available as E-books, with the pilot episode free in most places.  Look under the author M G Kizzia.  Avalon, seasons 4, 5, and 6 will also go up as E-books as soon as I can work out some details… But I promised myself I would not turn this into a sales pitch…

First, we have two stories of the Kairos and Rome saga to complete:

Kairos and Rome Book 6: The Power of Persuasion

For those who enjoyed the Kairos and Rome book 5, Greta’s story (R5 Greta), which began on June 4, 2018, and which you can look up in the archives and read for yourself, you maybe realized the story is not finished.  Picking up the story several years later…

R6) Greta: To Grandfather’s House We Go   20 weeks of posts

Greta’s ward, Berry, and her sister Fae, along with Greta’s brother and Fae’s husband go north, looking for Berry and Fae’s father to bless their marriages.  They get trapped in the land of the lost, and the shattered pieces of the old god Mithras stand against Greta when she sets herself for a rescue mission.  Soon enough, the Iranian (Mithraic) tribes in the wilderness come to knock on Dacia’s door, which doesn’t have enough strength to stand against them.  And the Roman ranks are full of Mithraites.

Before that, as we did on April 2, 2018, roughly one year ago, we have the further adventures of Festuscato, Senator of Rome and all around cad, who is good at getting into trouble, but even better at wriggling out of the consequences.  That may be why the Emperor Valentinian and the Pope both tapped him to go to Britain and bring order out of the chaos that had taken over that former Roman province.  That may also be why the Bishop in London got him to take on a special assignment:

R6) Festuscato: The Dragon in Ireland   10 weeks of posts

Festuscato gets roped into providing safe passage for Patrick to get to Ireland.  Festuscato, knowing something of what to him is the history of these events, wants to see Patrick get started on a good foot.  That isn’t going to be easy when the so-called King of the Irish is against you, not to mention the reluctant druids, the Irish pirates, and the Saxon intruders.  The boy and his pet dragon don’t help, either.

 

 

MONDAY

R6 Festuscato:  Festuscato and the bishops relax in Caerdyf.  Before setting out, they are interrupted by a boatload of Irish pirates; an indication of things to look forward to…

Until then, Happy Reading

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R5 Greta: The End of the Day, part 3 of 3

They were in the tent with Darius who was lying down, recovering from his many small wounds from the battle.  Bragi was not present, but Salacia decided that would be just as well.  She let the first wave of forgetfulness pass by unhindered.  They forgot all about the guns.  But she protected them from the second wave.  Darius would have a place among the little ones and needed to know. Hans would marry one, though she had become fully human now.  And Berry could hardly be allowed to forget.  There would have been almost no Berry left if she forgot her little ones.

“Greta?”  Hans remembered.

“Yes,” she said.  “Amphitrite.”  She looked at Darius.  “Salacia.” She spoke to him.  She felt a bit anxious.  She did not know exactly how he might react and prying into his thoughts and heart would have been extremely improper.

Darius smiled and held out his hand.  “It’s all right,” he said.  “Berry explained it to me.”

Salacia took his hand but spoke honestly.  “I do not love you as she does, you know.  I still love my husband, though he is now gone from me.”

Darius seemed to think for a minute, but he got it. “I understand.” he said.  “I certainly would not be interested in any of the men you have been, either.”  He laughed, a little, almost.  “But seriously,” he went on.  “You must know how I feel.  I don’t suppose I could live without her at this point, but she has been so hot and cold. Does she really love me or not?”

Salacia smiled.  “But if I tell you that, I will be mad at myself for years.”  Darius thought again, but he did not quite understand what she meant.  “Let me say this,” she went on.  “You are not the problem.  In the past, her love sometimes got met with derision.  She does not think highly of herself, and especially the way she looks.”

“What is wrong with the way she looks?”  Darius asked.  “I think she is beautiful.  I think she is perfect.”

“Perhaps she had better tell you.”  Salacia said and went back to her own time to let Greta stand awkwardly on her own two feet, still holding Darius’ hand.

“Well?”  Darius asked.

“Well,” Greta said and looked down at her too big feet. How could Amphitrite do this to her? Too late.  She did get mad at herself for having a big mouth, one the size of the Pacific!  “Well, its’ my eyes.  They are just ordinary brown, and my nose is too big and my hair is like wild straw, and there is too much of me, and I don’t want to talk about it.”  She paused to sniff so she wouldn’t cry.

Darius took her by the chin and lifted her face to his.  “I see golden hair and eyes to match, sparkling with life.  I see a small and dainty nose.  You should see the ones in Rome.  And lips, so full and red which I have kissed.  I would not trade them for all the gold in the world. And as for the rest.”  He paused to look.  “That will have to wait until we are married,” he teased.  Of course, she threw herself at him and he did nothing to resist.  After only a moment, though, they parted.  Hans and Berry were in the room, after all.

“I love you,” Greta said.

“I love you, too,” Darius returned.

They both grinned like fools until Greta had to turn and run from the tent.  Her feelings would not let her walk.  She found Hans standing by the tent door and Berry some distance away, sitting alone, looking sad, almost desperate.

“What is it, sweet?”  Greta asked, feeling oddly maternal in a strange way she never felt before.  She put her arms around the girl and hugged her.

“My tummy hurts.”  Berry said.  “And now I am bleeding a little.”  She reached over to hold on.  “Am I going to die?”

Greta laughed.  “No, sweet.  You are not going to die.  You are human.  That’s all.” And she sat and talked with Berry while the ripples of forgetfulness did their work.

At last, Greta knew she had to get back to Marcus. She stood and traded places once more with Amphitrite.  She gave Berry a quick kiss on the forehead and floated off, invisible to all the world. She let her consciousness search far beyond the battlefield.  The ripples had done the job.  But she spied Greta’s Papa on the road, and Mama came with him.

When she entered the room, Centurion Alesander was there with Sergeant Lucius, examining the men.

“What magic is this?”  Alesander asked.

“I don’t know.”  The sergeant answered.  “But I don’t like it.”

The goddess slowly let herself come into focus.

“Salacia.”  Alesander named her and fell to his knees.  He had worshiped in her shrine all of his life as had his mother and father, and she loved him for it; but Sergeant Lucius took a couple of steps back.

“Mithras defend me,” the sergeant said.

Salacia placed her hand on Alesander’s head and blessed him, and with a final thought she changed the writings of Marcus and General Pontius to reflect the new gunless and fairyless reality.  Then she looked up at the Sergeant and spoke sternly.

“I told someone just yesterday morning, Mithras does not come here.  It would be his life if he did.”  She waved her hand to set Marcus and General Pontius free and vanished, to appear again as Greta, just outside the door.

“General.”  The sergeant spoke.  “Salacia was here.  Probably drawn by the creation of the new lake and streams.”  Greta knew the General was another Mithrite.  She remembered the Roman army was full of that pretender’s disciples.

“Nonsense,” Marcus spoke, sternly.  “The gods, if they even exist, would not be drawn to these back woods no matter what happened here.  What is it, Greta?  I thought our business had finished.”  Marcus sounded cordial, but stiff.  The joy and play were gone from him.  He did not seem inclined to give in to any emotion, and Greta felt that reality like a cut to her heart.

“Papa and Mama will be here this afternoon,” she said.

“I know,” Marcus responded flatly.  “I sent for them as soon as I assessed the situation here.  I thought your father might end this trouble in a bloodless way, but that was before the Quadi showed up.  Been listening to my guards?”

“No,” Greta said.  “I saw them from above when my mind was in the clouds.”

Marcus grimaced.  “Of course,” he said.  “Wise woman talk.”  He looked down at his papers.

“But what right did you have calling him here when he should to be home, healing?” she asked.

“He is a man who knows his duty,” Marcus said as he gave Alesander a sharp look.  “But I would not expect a woman to understand that.”

Greta swallowed several things she wanted to say. She helped Alesander to his feet, and she still had enough of Salacia’s aura about her to make him respond.

“Did you see her?” Alesander asked.

“No,” Greta said, honestly enough.  She helped the Centurion to a place where he could have some solitude for a time, and then she hurried off.  She wanted to get back to Darius, but some soldiers stopped her on the way.  They reminded her of her duty to the wounded, and especially in the makeshift hospital she had made of the Roman fort.  She cursed, but for old time’s sake and for Berry’s sake, she could not help sticking her tongue out at Marcus, no matter how many rooms away he was at that point.  Women don’t understand doing one’s duty?  What an idiotic thing for Marcus to say!

Years later, Darius thanked Greta one night while they sat before the hearth in the governor’s mansion.  He said because of all the magic and wonder that surrounded her life, it saved him from becoming an emotionless statue, like Marcus.

“Was it just the magic?” she asked, and he showed her that it was not.

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MONDAY

It would not be right to leave you without some thoughts concerning what is to come for Greta, Berry, Hans, Fae, and Hobknot.  As I said, the work of the Kairos never seems to be over.  There is always some witch, creature, or monstrosity knocking on her door…especially on Halloween.  Until Monday, Happy Reading.

 

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R5 Greta: Confrontation, part 3 of 3

Immediately, the two men who held Greta’s arms jumped back. This proved good, because Greta needed to collapse to the floor and take a moment to herself, to recover from the brink of death, and fortunately, Lady Brunhild gave her that moment.  The woman stared at her and seemed to be recovering a bit of her own strength as well, but outwardly she appeared to be examining the armor as if deciding what to do.

“I must tell you.”  Greta breathed as she struggled to her feet.  She would have appreciated the opportunity to pass out, but she was not about to stay prostrate before the woman.  “The armor belongs to the Nameless god.”  She spoke of the one with whom Brunhild and the men with her were most familiar.  “Defender and the sword, Salvation, have a mind of their own.  I do not want you to be hurt.”

Even as Greta finally got to her feet, Lady Brunhild spit in her face.  “Strip her.” She ordered.  The two who had been holding her arms stepped up and touched her.  Greta cried out.  She felt the power surge through her.  It struck the two men like lightening and shot them twenty feet through the air where they crumpled, unconscious, if not dead.

Greta caught her breath again, but found it much easier this time, as if the armor protected her from more than just arrows. Lady Brunhild stared hard at her and began to pace, once again to decide what to do.

“Ruby slippers,” Greta said, and Brunhild squinted at her, not understanding.

“I saw these weapons and this armor in a dream.” Brunhild began to speak.  “It was before Boarshag and it may be why you startled me so at the time.  The great God, Mithras, bless his name, revealed to me that if I could take them from the one wearing them I would receive riches and power beyond counting.” She stopped in front of Greta’s face and Greta tried to smile for her, and it would have been a truly obnoxious smile if her cheeks were not hurting.  “Give it to me, now!”  The Lady said and threw her every ounce of compulsion behind the words.

This time, Greta hardly felt it, though she knew it had to be very draining for the Lady.  She knew Lady Brunhild would sleep well that night, but for Greta, she merely smiled more broadly.  The Lady, however, did not attack Greta.  Greta remained as vulnerable and human as ever.  But the Lady went after the armor of the Kairos, and as such she had zero chance of success.  Greta watched the Lady’s face flush and she could almost taste the anger that rose up in the woman’s veins.  By contrast, Greta stood very calm and resolute, and smiled as much as her cheeks allowed.  Finally, the Lady grabbed the hilt of Salvation which stuck up over Greta’s shoulder. This time, the charge appeared sufficient to glue the Lady’s hands to the sword.  The more the Lady tried to pull, the more she got drained, until a small surge kicked her free before she killed herself.

“I told you, you cannot have it,” Greta said, and something rose up in her from all the days in the ancient past.  “And your Mithras will not help you.  He has no given authority in this region, and he knows if he shows his face he will be killed for real, and this time I will not be there to bring him back.”  Nameless got tired of the game, and he was a master game player, arguably second only to Loki among the northern gods of old.  Indeed, some of the men thought they were hearing directly from the Nameless god, the reported owner of the armor, and they would not have been wrong in that assumption even though Greta remained where she stood.

Meanwhile, Lady Brunhild fainted in Kunther’s arms. “Watch her tonight,” she said and promptly passed out.  They took Greta away at sword point because no one would touch her.  To Greta’s disappointment, however, they did not return her to the room with the others.  Instead, she got driven into a real storage closet which did not even have a window.  When they shut the door, she sat in utter darkness.

The state of grace Greta had felt, left her with the light.  She tried to reach out to Yin-mo.  She tried to tell him it would be all right to plan for the morning attack, as he thought best, but please limit his and the knight’s contact with humans as much as possible.  She felt he acknowledged her, but she could not be sure.

She searched for Thorn in her mind’s eye, but he seemed to be asleep.  Thissle, on the other hand, seemed awake and curious.  She and Bragi were half-way down the Mount on night watch.  They had been busy.  Thissle left the glamour that Lady Brunhild found.  She left it to fool the guards when Bragi stole the real statue and took it to the diggings.  After hiding the statue beside the powder, they talked to any number of men. Thissle tired from all of that. More than once she had to step up and break the spell Lady Brunhild had set like a glaze over the men’s eyes. That seemed the only way they could be sure about the men, and then Bragi went on duty with a rocket-like flare which would be the signal for all of the men to vacate the Temple.

All at once, Greta seemed to be seeing out of Thissle’s eyes and hearing with her ears.  Thissle yawned and Greta yawned with her.

“But in reality,” Bragi said.  “I think Karina is so very beautiful, it has made her shy. She is shy around men and shy about outshining all of the women around her.”

“Silly boy.”  Thissle yawned again.  “Human women live to outshine each other.  Why, for some, if they can’t outshine their neighbors, life is hardly worth living.”

Greta jumped back into her own skin.  That felt like a strange experience, and now Greta had a monster headache on top of her hunger and all of her other pains.  She did not expect to sleep.

She tried to reach out to Berry, to see how she was.  She imagined her and Hans, Fae and Hobknot all sitting in Fae’s tent worrying about her. It seemed a sweet thought, but then, Greta felt sure it was only her imagination.  Greta smiled at the thought and got struck with a vision, like the opening of a curtain on a scene that looked all too real.

She saw a young woman, screaming and terrified. She looked about Greta’s age, perhaps seventeen, but absolutely beautiful.  Greta well understood her terror.  A worm, a dragon hovered over her, looking at her like a tasty morsel.

Bragi stood there, yelling at the monster. Greta could not hear the words. But no, it was not Bragi.  She heard the young woman.

“No, father.  Please!  Hans, help me!”

It was Hans, but Bragi’s age.

“Berry!”  Greta snapped out of it, shouted the word out loud.  But how did she age so much in her big form?  She should have still looked thirteen, even if Hans looked eighteen or nineteen.  It seemed a mystery.  She would have to puzzle it out somehow, but even as she began to think, she fell fast asleep.

Avalon 5.3 Perseverance, part 3 of 6

The volume felt unbearable.  Padrama regretted inviting the dwarf family to dinner, even if he felt he had no choice. The only good thing was it guaranteed no tiger would come within a hundred miles of that noise.  Bobo and Rinna argued and complained about the deer, and the cooking, and whatever else crossed their minds.  The boys sang.  At least Padrama imagined it was supposed to be singing.  Their volume was probably intended to drown out the sound of their parents fighting.  Poor little Rita sat quietly and rubbed the stubble on her chin, not counting the half-dozen times she mentioned that her mama told her that one day she would have a beard down to her knees.

“Good for you,” Padrama always responded, and Rita grinned with pride and went back to rubbing her stubble.

Raja sat close to Padrama at first, and eyed these spirits that he called Yaksha.  He said they were known to practice strange and powerful magic.  But Padrama assured his servant that these would not be any trouble, and after about an hour of the boys singing, the little girl rubbing, and the parents arguing, Raja threw his hands up with a comment.

“They might as well be human.”

Somehow, Bobo managed to slip something into the tea to make it alcoholic.  Padrama was surprised for all of a second, before he shrugged and decided it was just as well.  Maybe the group would eventually pass out in a drunken stupor.

Padrama did not imagine how bad it could get until he saw them eat.  They hardly chewed, but showed everything when they talked, and they all talked at the same time through the meal.  They stuffed more in before they swallowed, and more than once, one or the other of the boy had to lean over, gag, and throw something up.  One time it was a rib bone.  And the boy picked up the bone to chew on.

They ate through a whole deer, and half of the second one, leaving half for the morning, which for himself and Raja would have been breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It would be just a slim breakfast if the dwarf did not go home by first light.

Raja had a hard time holding his hands over his ears and eating anything at all.  Padrama finally had to secretly compel the dwarfs a little, to quiet them down after the meal.  He thought to get their attention with a story, and he made them listen and not interrupt.  Unfortunately, the only story that came to mind was the story of the three dwarfs at the bottom of the well.  It was a well-worn story with hysterical twists and turns throughout.  Padrama knew Bobo and Rinna had heard it before.  He knew they once told the story to the boys.  Little Rita was the only one who had not heard it, but Padrama imagined he could get away with a few laughs and a good night’s sleep.

He glanced at Raja.  Of course, Raja had not heard the story.  It was not the kind of story one shared with humans.  He imagined it would be all right.  Raja was a serious-minded soul and did not have much of a sense of humor.  So he told the story, and later regretted it.  Little Rita giggled all night long.  That was punctuated with Raja’s snorting laugh, which sounded worse than his snoring.  That was drowned out now and then by great guffaws from one boy or the other, not to mention the occasional snicker from Rinna.  Only Bobo appeared to be immune, but suffice to say, Padrama did not get much rest.

Padrama heard them get up in the morning, before dawn.  He heard them trying to be quiet, though they sounded like buffalos in a coffee shop.  They also laughed now and then, especially Bobo, who seemed to have saved up his laughter for the morning.  They left.

When Padrama opened his eyes, he saw that the half of the deer was gone.  He expected that.  Beside him, Raja’s voice whispered.

“Are they gone?”

“They are gone,” Padrama said, and he got up to make sure they did not tinker with the chariot, and the horses were okay.  He found a small stack of wood beside the fire and assumed it was their way of making payment for the half a deer.  He knew by morning they would all conveniently forget that he was the Kairos, their own personal god, given to the little ones by the gods in the most ancient times.  He would not remind them.  He would look out across the way and think about where he was proposing to go.

“Nothing left to cook,” Raja said.  “I’m glad to still have my skin.”

Padrama laughed.  He prepared himself to hunt, but a pot appeared on the miraculously built up fire, and a man appeared, sitting, and staring into the fire.  Raja leapt up and ran several steps from the fire.  Padrama squinted and then sat.

“Mita.  Why are you here?”  Padrama deliberately used a name for the god that Raja did not know.  He did not want his servant freaking out more than necessary.

“Several reasons,” Mita responded.  “Breakfast is a good one.”

It was rabbit and actual vegetables in the stew, and Raja quickly retrieved their bowls and spoons from his backpack.  “Sorry,” he said.  “We only carry the two.”

“Quite all right,” Mita said.  He lifted his hand that had been hidden by the pot and held a bowl in it, with a spoon in the bowl.  “Here,” he said and reached out.  Raja gave him the two bowls and he filled them.  It smelled wonderful, and from the sounds Raja made, Padrama was sure it would taste wonderful, too.  Unfortunately, he had sudden, serious concerns on his mind.

“You know you are needed,” Mita said.

Padrama glanced at Raja, and Mita, who was, in fact, Mithras, did something so Raja could not hear and thought of nothing but his breakfast.  Padrama spoke.  “Are Brahma and Varuna having trouble?”

Mita shrugged.  “Things have gone well up to this point, but they appear to have reached an impasse.  Varuna has only been king…well for some time, since Dayus stepped down, but it is asking a lot to give that up.  At least, I think so.”

“I didn’t think being king was that important to Varuna.”

“It isn’t.  He is prepared to give up the kingship, but who will take the responsibility?  Brahma seems a reasonably stable and good person, but as chief negotiator for the other side, he can’t exactly negotiate himself into the position.  Shiva wants it.  Vishnu won’t let him take it.  Indra suggested Vishnu might take it, but Vishnu is like Varuna in that respect and wants no part of it.”  Mita shrugged.

“How about Devi?”  Padrama said.  “She would be a great king.”

“She’s a woman.”

“So why can’t a woman be king?”

Mita just shook his head.  “You have to go there.  Both Brahma and Varuna would listen to you, if you don’t offer stupid suggestions.”

Padrama thought about it.  He knew the history and the way things supposedly worked out, but he would have to be careful how he presented it.”  Then something Mita said caught up with him.  “What do you mean, I have to go there?  Don’t you mean we have to go there?”

Mita shook his head.  “I suppose I will have to take you, but you will have to get back on your own.  I’m getting while the getting is good.  You know I have worked with Scythians, and the people all around Bactra for centuries.  It was Varuna’s idea to stall the invasion.  I am known by the people of this land, but I also have a connection to the Aryans.”

“Who are now also in this land.”

“Not all,” Mita said.  “Some Asuras, or I should say, Ahuras will cross the divide and move down with the people into the mostly empty no-man’s land, what you call Iran.  We will be gods for the Iranians, the Avestan Magi.”

“Medes and Persians, and I suppose you will still play with the Scythians, too.”  Mita shrugged, but Padrama had another thought.  “Tough luck on your brother, you running out on him and all.”

Mita shrugged again.  “You know I am not a fighter, and I am a glutton.  I would not do well around ascetics.”

Padrama looked across the river where Mohini had gone.  “You know I have only one desire in this life.  My soul mate is in the hands of a demon and I will save her.”

“Very noble, but if you don’t come, there may be nothing left to save.”

Padrama nodded very sadly.  “Raja,” he said.  “Raja.”  He got the man’s attention.  “You need to stay here and watch our things.  I have to run an errand, and I will be back as soon as possible.”

Raja nodded slightly, and when Padrama and the stranger both disappeared, he swallowed.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Be sure to chew with your mouth closed and swallow.

And Happy Reading.