Reflections W-3 part 2 of 3

Wlkn swallowed slowly before he fell to his knees and dropped his head. Odin ignored the man and bent over toward Wlvn. Somehow, he laid his hands on Wlvn’s head and before Wlvn could object, something went from the king of the gods into Wlvn’s stomach, or at least it felt that way.

“So you can return fire yourself if they should send another airboat in your direction,” Odin said and sat up straight. “So, where are you headed, any ideas?”

Wlvn frowned. First Poseidon filled his spirit with horses and now Odin filled him with a power strong enough to take a Gott-Druk shuttle out of the air in flight. “Southwest,” Wlvn said, but he could only guess.

Odin did not look pleased with that, but his words were merely curious. “I would think your troubles are behind you, back the way you came.”

“Zeus has something I need,” Wlvn said. “I have to have something to kill the Titan. That is not an easy thing to do, you know.”

“Yes, I know,” Odin responded from experience, but then he had another question. “So, your intention is to kill the Titan?”

“Yes. It is my intention.” Wlvn spoke flatly, but it scared him to death to think about facing that great creature, so he thought instead about getting a swing at Loki if he could.

“Good, good.” Odin appeared to be satisfied with Wlvn’s answer. “Then I won’t stand in your way or keep you.” He shook his reigns, and without another word, his horse began to carry him up into the sky. Wlvn saw the rainbow bridge drop down for him, but he said nothing because he felt sure a dumbfounded Wlkn could not see anything but the Alfader flying. After only moments, Odin was too high to be seen, and then Wlkn looked once at Wlvn, but stayed on his knees.

Wlvn frowned. He did not understand what was going on. If Odin wanted the Titan dead, why didn’t he just do it himself? If he did not want to do it himself, Wlvn knew Tyr or Thor, or any number of other Gods would be glad to kill one more giant. Why did Odin want Wlvn to do it?

Wlvn had to whistle again for Number Two. “Get up old man,” he spoke sharply to Wlkn. “We have a long way to go.” Wlkn got up but said nothing at all until they started out along the stream at a slow and gentle pace. Then he seemed to burst with questions.

“That was the king of the gods?”

“Yes.”

“And to be clear, who was that woman who met us earlier, the one that gave me this wonderful sleeping pad?”

“Vrya. Goddess of love and war.”

“I figured it had to be something like that,” Wlkn said. “Did you know she spoke to me, even though I was unconscious at the time?” He seemed a little confused by that idea.

“What did she say?”

“She said I am supposed to stay with you and use my wise, old head to help you in any way I can. You do know I am too old for this? All this riding will probably kill me, I shouldn’t wonder, and then I will be no good to you at all.” He brushed back his gray hair, what he still had of it.

“And I am too young,” Wlvn admitted. “Your point?”

Wlkn shrugged. “I am traveling with the god of the horses, why should the rest of this surprise me?”

“Not me,” Wlvn said. “I’m just as normal, mortal, and human as you are.” Or at least he was before Odin laid hands on his head. It made him wonder what Mother Vrya did. She touched him, twice.

“Hmm.” Wlkn had to think about that. “So now, I suppose you know where we are going?”

“Right out of this world altogether,” Wlvn responded. “The king of the gods in the next world over has something I need to kill the Titan.”

“What?” Wlkn tried to grasp the concept of passing out of the world, altogether, but Wlvn thought he asked what he needed to kill the Titan.

“I need blood, from a beast called the Golden Hind; that is, if Zeus has not yet destroyed them all.”

“And you did not mention this to the Alfader?”

Wlvn shook his head. “I would guess he probably already knows; but in any case, it would not have been polite to talk about something that can kill a god.”

“The gods can die?” Wlkn started having real mental problems with all of this. Wlvn decided to hold his tongue. After a moment of silence, Wlkn stopped so Wlvn felt obliged to stop as well, and he turned Thred to face the man and waited patiently until the man spoke.

“I need to know,” he said. “Gods know the knowledge will probably kill me, but the gods also know that I will be no good to you if I don’t know. I can’t imagine the surprises we may have to face out here on this journey, but I hate surprises. A big enough surprise might make my old heart stop altogether, so I figure you have some explaining to do.”

Wlvn understood, but he hardly knew what to say. “I don’t know where to start.”

“Try the beginning,” Wlvn folded his arms.

“Well,” Wlvn swallowed. It already sounded impossibly strange to his ears, and he had not yet said anything out loud. “I’ve lived before, in the past, and I will live bunches of times in the future as well. You see, when I die, I won’t really die. I’ll just be reborn somewhere else and grow up into a new person. I won’t just be a copy of me, Wlvn.”

Wlkn scrunched his arms tighter around his chest. “And how do you know this?”

Wlvn knew that like Flern he had no choice but to show the man. “Back there,” he said. “When Loki yelled at his helpers to stop that man, me. I traded places with the Princess and got away.” And he did that very thing again. Of course, when Wlvn vanished to be replaced by a beautiful young woman with long, golden-brown hair and deep blue eyes, Wlkn’s jaw dropped. The Princess smiled and raised her arms like she was showing off. “Do you like my disguise?”

With that, Wlkn slid right off his horse, and had no mattress on the ground to catch him this time. The Princess jumped off Thred’s back. “Are you alright?” she asked, worried, and lifted his head gently from the ground.

Wlkn shook his head opened his eyes and screeched. Immediately the Princess went away and Wlvn came back. “Sorry,” he said. “I suppose it can be a bit of a shock.”

Wlkn nodded. “So, when the goddess said she was your mother, she was not kidding.”

“One day she will be,” Wlvn confirmed.

Wlkn scratched his chin. “That explains a lot already.” He paused before he offered his assessment. “And it helps. Yes, it actually helps me understand and be more comfortable.” Wlvn felt glad for that and helped the old man back up on his horse. Wlkn had another thought as Wlvn got back up on Thred.

“So how many lives do you have in there?”

Wlvn paused again. How could he explain this? They were not inside of him, but in their own time and place. The Princess came into the past from almost four thousand years in the future. He decided it was best not to get into why he was the Traveler in time and did a quick count, instead. “Ten right now that I can remember.” He got the man riding again as he talked. “There is the Princess. She is the huntress, an expert beyond any our village ever saw. I’ll be depending on her to help find the Golden Hind when we get there. Then there is Diogenes, chief of spies for Alexander the Great —but then you don’t know Alexander the Great. Diogenes is the consummate warrior, but I hope we don’t have to call on him. Mishka is the doctor, the healer, and I hope we don’t need her either. Then there is the Storyteller.” Wlvn paused.

“What does he do?”

“Keeps a record of all these different lives. Keeps my mind straight, you might say.”

“That’s four,” Wlkn pointed out, and Wlvn nodded.

“Then there are the two who belong to the gods. There is Vrya’s son and Amphitrite. She was wife of the god that first brought me the horses. A goddess of the sea, actually.”

“Like I said, that explains a lot. You spoke to the king of the gods as neighborly as I might have spoken to your father in the old days. I suppose we might expect all sorts of gods and goddesses popping in and out on this journey.”

“God, I hope not.” Wlvn turned up his nose at that idea, but Wlkn could not see him. “There are two more. They are the last two lives I lived before I was born. First there is Faya. I think though I only remember her because she is connected to Nameless in some way that I have not yet figured out. She died some eighty years ago or so.”

“I thought you said you did not die.”

“Oh, I feel all the pain, not the least the pain of letting go of all the people I love.”

There was silence again for a moment before Wlkn spoke. “I’m sorry for that.”

What could Wlvn say? He took a deep breath and continued. “My last life was Kartesh.” Wlvn smiled at his stray thought. “She discovered dragons.”

“What are dragons?”

“You don’t want to know.”

They rode a bit before Wlkn brought it up again. “There are still two missing.”

Wlvn nodded. “Me you know. And the one I am closest to is Flern. She doesn’t live that far away, only about six hundred years in the future. We are like partners, I think. I am experiencing her life while I am experiencing mine, and she is experiencing mine as well as her own.”

“I would be pleased to meet her,” Wlkn said honestly enough.

Wlvn shook his head. “Maybe later. Besides, apparently, she looks like me. We are genetic reflections, like identical twins of the opposite gender, if you know what I mean.”

“No idea what that means, but I have to say you are a very masculine young man. I can’t imagine a girl that looks like you.”

“She is very pretty. She is a beautiful young woman, and just thanked me, by the way, for calling her a woman instead of a girl.”

“You can talk to these other lives?”

“Sometimes. In my head,” and he got lost in an internal conversation that Wlkn stayed polite enough not to interrupt.

Reflections W-3 part 1 of 3

Wlvn returned to consciousness very slowly. The sun appeared to be ready to rise in the sky by the time he sat up and listened for sounds of pursuit. All he heard was the sound of a baby crying in the distance, and he remembered his experience from the last time he came to the edge of the land of the abomination, as Vrya called it. He arrived back in the spring, before he had eight months stolen from him. He decided that he still did not want to know what might be making those calls, because when he listened more closely, he concluded that it did not sound like babies at all. Thred dutifully stood there, not in a panic yet, so Wlvn knew the babies were not close enough to smell. He hoped they were not close enough to smell him and the horses. He considered that possibility as he took a good look around.

“I was beginning to think you were going to sleep forever, or maybe die on me,” Wlkn said, as he stirred the small fire he had built.

Wlvn said nothing. Wlkn had tied off Brmr’s, Gndr’s and Strn’s horses, and Thred stood close by, but Wlvn had to whistle for his second-best horse. The horse trotted right up when called, and Wlvn’s first thought was Number Two was not a very good name. On second thought, he looked in the direction where Number Two had been foraging and he saw that they were at the edge of the forest. A wide grassy plain sprawled ahead of them. One dip that rose again on the other side, up to some rocks—boulders, really, that protruded from the grass, but then the grass appeared to level off and it seemed to go on forever.

“We have to keep moving.” Wlvn spoke at last.

“Where?” Wlkn asked. “I don’t even know where we are.” He stood and looked around in a complete circle.

Wlvn grabbed Number Two’s reigns and climbed up on Thred’s back with only a slight groan. Wlkn shrugged and got up again on Brmr’s horse, having tied the other horses to trail behind. Wlvn had laid hands on Wlkn some time ago, so he knew about horses well enough, even if he never rode much and never wanted a beast of his own.

“Before the undead get here,” Wlvn added in the slightest whisper. He nudged Thred forward, knowing that the horse had already had more than enough work that day, but he only planned to walk the horses in a general south westerly direction, and he felt fairly sure that he had not recovered enough yet to do the walking himself. Thred did not seem to mind, so they passed beyond the trees, out on to the grasslands, and started down into the gully where they discovered a stream that bent around a corner and moved on its own in a southwesterly direction. Wlvn amended his plans and decided to follow the stream, thinking that at least they would not die of thirst.

Half-way down the dip, Wlvn heard a screaming sound above his head. A Gott-Druk shuttle shot down from the clouds, straight toward them. Wlkn let out a little screech. He did not recognize the craft from that distance, but he did not like the look of a bird that big. Wlvn surmised that the Gott-Druk hovered up beyond eyesight and scanned to see where he emerged from the trees. He turned Thred and kicked the poor horse to make the full effort but going uphill proved not nearly as easy as going downhill. Wlkn also turned his horses around, but he stopped when the mattress Vrya had made slid off the back of Gndr’s mount.

A high radiation particle stream came from the ship in a sudden burst. The shuttle appeared armed. Though the shot had not been well aimed, the shuttle not yet being close enough, it turned a boulder into gravel, vaporized part of the stream, and sent a great cloud of steam into the air. This convinced Wlkn to leave the mattress where it lay.

“Come on!” Wlvn shouted to encourage Wlkn and the horses in the climb. At least under the trees the Gott-Druk could not get at them so easily.

The shuttle fired a second shot. This one came closer, but even as Wlvn topped the hill, he saw an echoing shot of something strike back. The shot from the ground looked much better aimed, and more powerful besides. It tore through whatever screens the shuttle had and punched a hole all the way through the ship itself where it came out the top side to disappear in the clouds. The shuttle began to wiggle in the air and Wlvn guessed the lucky shot from their savior must have melted the stabilizers. Smoke poured from the back engines as the shuttle headed toward the far side of the rock ridge. The pilot tried to keep the nose up but could not. It disappeared behind the rocks and a ball of flame and smoke burst into the sky in the distance, like a mini-volcanic eruption. Wlvn and Wlkn heard the thunder of the explosion and the scream of twisted metal.

Wlvn turned again and let Thred walk down the hill to the stream. Wlkn wisely decided to stay put on the edge of the trees while Wlvn dismounted where Thred and Number Two could water. He used his own recovering legs to climb the other side of the gully as he wondered who fired that answering shot. He felt grateful, but it was a mystery because he knew the Elenar could not be anywhere near the Earth, yet. As Wlvn huffed and puffed his way to the top, a man stepped out from behind a boulder, a helper, a Gott-Druk. He looked cut, bruised and burned, and he appeared to limp, but he held the high radiation pistol in his hand steady enough.

Wlvn stopped and considered putting his hands up but changed his mind when he thought the gesture would be lost on the elder.

“Stay where you are,” the Gott-Druk spoke in a gravel voice. The pistol wavered as the helper cleared his throat.

“Gott-Druk.” Wlvn called the man by his proper designation and that got his full attention, and curiosity. “You were removed from this world in the time of the great disaster and no longer have a place on this planet. Leave.”

The Gott-Druk grinned and chomped his teeth which had been unnaturally sharpened and presented a horrifying sight. “We were invited, whoever you are.”

“I thought your kind was all vegetarian,” Wlvn said. The Gott-Druk were omnivorous, but not great meat eaters apart from the snow and cold days of winter.

The Gott-Druk broadened his grin. “You do not know everything, whoever you are. We are the Children of Layettee and have vowed to consume Adam’s flesh until your kind are no more.”

“You can’t have the Earth back. Leave, before it is too late,” Wlvn said, and with that, he turned to start back down to the stream. He knew his legs were shaky, but he figured the Gott-Druk was in no better shape to catch him.

“Stop!” the Gott-Druk yelled. “Stop where you are, or I will fire.”

Wlvn shook his head. “Your kind always shoots first. If that pistol had a charge, I would already be dead.”

The Gott-Druk roared and threw the pistol at Wlvn’s head, but Wlvn anticipated this and easily ducked. “I will catch you, and when I do!” The Gott-Druk hissed at him without finishing the sentence. He did not have to. Wlvn knew if the Gott-Druk did ever get his hands on him, the elder would probably tear Wlvn to pieces. The Gott-Druk were very strong.

“Save your strength.” Wlvn paused and turned to face the elder again. “The Elenar have been called. They will be here soon. If I were you, I would go back and get your crew and leave this world while you can.” The Gott-Druk’s jaw dropped, but he stared at Wlvn to see if Wlvn might be lying. Wlvn responded to the stare. “I may not know everything, Child of Layettee, but I know who your enemies are.”

The Gott-Druk roared again, but this time Wlvn heard the sound of frustration. The Gott-Druk began to limp in a different direction and headed down that side of the gully to where the stream turned into the woods. From somewhere in that direction, closer than last time, both Wlvn and the Gott-Druk heard the baby wail. Both paused and the Gott-Druk glanced back in Wlvn’s direction once before he took the short cut, down into the gully and up the other side to the woods. Wlvn decided that it might be a good idea to get away from whatever made those sounds.

When Wlvn got back down to the stream and horses, he had a surprise waiting for him. A man, an ordinary, human-looking man sat astride a horse of his own, only this strange horse had six legs. Wlvn shaded his eyes a little against the rising sun in order to take in the man’s face and features. He saw no eye patch, but the horse remained a dead giveaway. Wlvn knew who it was, and he named the man. “Odin. Alfader.”

“Should I do away with the elder one?” Odin asked. That felt strange enough. The gods never asked, especially young human, mortal boys.

“I should say not.” Wlvn spoke with certainty. “I want him to get back and take his people off this planet, preferably before the Elenar get here. The last thing I want is a space battle in the upper atmosphere with high radiation weapons shooting every which way. Better they should be gone so when the Elenar arrive, on not finding them, they may turn around and go, too.”

“Avoid the conflict altogether.” Odin sighed a little. “Probably wise.”

“Hello.” Wlkn came up leading the horses, having stopped long enough to retrieve his mattress. “We have company?” He shaded his eyes like Wlvn and looked up. The early morning sun that shone around the man on horseback seemed exceptionally strong.

Wlvn made the introductions. “Wlkn, this is Odin, the Alfader, king of the gods.”

Kairos in the West, Book 1, Reflections

The story of Wlvn and Flern, him and her, two lifetimes of the Kairos, is written in counterpoint, like two melodies that harmonize with one another at different points along the way. Sadly, the story, as written, does not break into little bite sized pieces. I want to maintain the schedule of three easily digested posts per week on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but I understand the limited attention span of some people. Twenty-seven weeks is too long, especially when the story jumps back and forth between two people who live 586 years apart. If you held the book in your hand, either digital or in print, and read it in a day, a week, or however long it takes you to read a book, it would be one thing. I am not Charles Dickens to break the story into 3-6 rather large parts to serialize in a monthly magazine. Back then, Dickens did not have to contend with movies, television, streaming, the internet, cell phones, and the million other entertainment distractions we have. So, I have concluded that the only way I can share this story—these stories is to separate them and share them individually, even as I did with the stories of Greta, Festuscato, Gerraint, and Margueritte. and even though it gets strange in the middle I hope you will follow and enjoy.

Flern, after 3440 BCE.  13 weeks (13 chapters).

Her village is overrun by an army from the east ruled by a powerful sorceress.  Flern and her friends escape, but they have a quest, to find the secret of making bronze, to make weapons, and to gather enough brave fighters to set their village free. Of course, the Wicca is a very powerful sorceress, and she seems to be supported by one of the ancient gods. My hope is in the story, every time Flern picks up an empowerment from her reflection (Wlvn) you will recognize what is happening. To that end, it will be best to start with Wlvn’s story.

Wlvn, after 4026 BCE.  14 weeks (14 chapters).

The gods have a reason for empowering the young man.  His people are enslaved by the Titan at the center of his universe.  The gods want the Titan overthrown, but Odin promised that the gods would not interfere in any way. They expect Wlvn (the Kairos) to do the deed, and many of the ancient gods give him what they think he needs to be successful. Unfortunately, the god sent to spy on the Titan wants the Titan to stay in power and is secretly working on his own agenda.  And the Titan has contracted with a space race to help maintain his power; and the “Gott-Druk” find human flesh very tasty.

The Strange in the Middle:

Wlvn and Flern, being genetic reflections, or as the Kairos sometimes says, identical twins of the opposite sex, accidentally double trade places with each other through the time stream and can’t figure out how to get back to where they belong. Wlvn, with all his new god-given abilities should be able to deal with a sorceress, provided the god supporting the Wicca stays out of it. Flern, however, even reflecting in a small way the gifts given to Wlvn is in no condition to face down a Titan. Just to think of him frightens her half to death.

When Flern shows up in the middle of Wlvn’s story, I hope you don’t get confused.  Flern has her own troubles, and her story will follow, so bear with me.  I believe this is the best way to approach this.  You can always let me know what you think.

So,

Wlvn first for 14 weeks

Flern second for 13 weeks

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Avalon Season 9 (The final season) will follow Kairos in the West, Book 1, Reflections.  By my (subject to change) calculations, that should begin posting on March 20, 2023.  The travelers will at last get home to their proper time and place.  Meanwhile, if you enjoyed the Avalon stories, they are available from Amazon as e-books or paperback, or from Smashwords, B&N, Apple, Kobo, etc. as e-books.

 

 

I recommend the prequel, Invasion of Memories which will give a good overview of the many lives of the Kairos as well as introduce some of the travelers.  The pilot episode is still free in most places, though in the paperback (and e-book if you want) it is included with Season One.

To find all these books (and more on the way) look under the author’s name M. G. Kizzia.  And remember, reviews are always appreciated.

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R5 Greta: Confrontation, part 2 of 3

“You really are an ordinary looking girl,” Brunhild said at last, squeezing Greta’s cheeks.  “Funny that you should have gotten so close to power and then failed at the last.”

“Whatever do you mean?”  Greta asked through fish-like lips.

“Silly girl.”  Brunhild smiled wickedly and let go, scratching Greta’s face with her nails. “My god, the Lord Mithras, blessings on him, has pledged to take over the whole world, beginning with Rome.  I shall marry the next emperor and rule the world, my dear.”

At first, the idea of Rome taking over the world brought a bad episode of Star Trek to mind; but then Greta’s eyes widened. “No,” she said.  “You cannot have him.  He will not serve you.”

“So, you know.”  Lady Brunhild mused.  “Yes, I must remember that you are no fool.  At first I thought my Lord wanted me to use Trajan’s weapons against Rome, ironic as that would have been.  But now I see that in his all-powerful turning of fate, all of this, the rebellion, certain Romans being here in this hinterland, the Quadi, all of it was simply to bring Marcus to my side.”

“No.”  Greta still shook her head.  “It won’t happen that way.”

“Why, yes, my dear.”  The lady had a flashy grin.  “And when I put my Germanic peoples together with the Romans, no force on earth shall stop us.”  She laughed. “Now don’t you think Marcus will make a good puppet?”

“He will make a good emperor.”  Greta spoke carefully.  “But he will never be the puppet you imagine.  Be careful, lest you end up serving him.”  Greta shook her head.  “Oh, I forgot.”  She spoke with determination.  “You won’t be there with him.”

Lady Brunhild slapped Greta’s face and started her lip bleeding again.  Then her smile returned and she pinched Greta’s cheeks once more.

“Now, what makes you think that?” She asked.

I’ll stop you, Greta thought, but she said nothing. All the same, Lady Brunhild laughed. She might not have been able to read Greta’s mind, but she could easily read Greta’s face.

“Let’s see your toy.”  The lady said, and scratched Greta’s face again as she turned toward the altar.  She looked carefully, and so did everyone else.  Lady Brunhild slowly circled the altar until she stood right behind it. Then she laughed again and waved her hand right through the object.  The statue wavered for a moment in the wind, like a vision of heat rising from the rocks, and then it vanished altogether.  “Very good.”  Lady Brunhild appeared impressed.  “I knew you had some power by blood, though I thought it was only a little from your grandmother.  I had no idea you were capable of such an illusion.  Such magic!”  She was not really impressed, but spoke to Greta like a mother might speak to a toddler. She came to pinch Greta’s cheeks a third time, and now it started to become very painful, but there seemed nothing Greta could do about it.  Her arms were still held tight.  “You may even have something of a lesser Spirit about you and that may be why I can’t quite catch your thoughts.”  She let go once more, and the scratch in her face began to bleed.  “But no matter.  My power has been granted to me by a god, by the Divine Mithras himself, blessings on him.  You startled me well in Boarshag, but I was not nearly so strong then as I am now. Perhaps this time I can startle you.” She giggled a very girlish giggle at her own thoughts and it made Greta want to gag.

“Mother.”  Kunther interrupted at no little risk.  “I mean, Brunhild.  These are the result of no illusion.”  He brought forward the man with the burned hands.  Brunhild touched them and closed her eyes.  Greta could see the strain on Brunhild’s face, but slowly, the blisters went away, the blackened flesh turned red and then fair again, and soon enough, all of the red had gone.  The man began to weep in gratitude, but Lady Brunhild brushed him off.  She had to catch her breath.  She clearly looked worn.

“There are other ways to burn a fool than by a spurious statue,” Brunhild said.  “As you told me, he dropped the statue, but the fire stayed on his hands.”

“That’s true.”  Several men confirmed, and Lady Brunhild brushed off any further discussion on that matter as well and turned back to Greta.  Greta steeled herself, calmed her insides and wondered what would happen next.

“That armor you manifested that day in Boarshag.  I would have it.”  She came right out with it.

“It is not mine to give.”  Greta responded.  It was hers, but only in her lifetime.  In truth, it belonged to her greater self, to the Kairos, and got passed down from Traveler to Traveler, from life to life.

“Manifest it now!”  Greta felt the power of Lady Brunhild’s demand hit like a brick.  It struck her mind and twisted her gut. Greta had no power like that.  She could not resist, but the armor resisted. It remained rooted too deep in the works of the gods of old.  Lady Brunhild might kill her, Greta thought, but the woman would never have the armor.

“Now!”  The Lady got impatient, and Greta could see her straining.  She forced the issue and Greta nearly went unconscious.  Then voices came into Greta’s head.

“She would do better if she relaxed and kept herself free of her emotions and impatient will.”  Danna spoke through time.

“I would not suggest it, though.”  Salacia quipped.

“Go ahead and show her the armor.”  Nameless finished.  “Trust.  You are the Kairos now.”

Greta did not exactly understand what Nameless meant by that, but she understood that her work throughout history was always a struggle, full of human foibles and failings.  Invariably she had to trust in the source, as the gods used to call it. She knew now, and for the last hundred and fifty years or so, what she had always known but was never allowed to speak about.  She knew what Gerraint knew, what Arthur learned despite Merlin, and what Festuscato knew as well.  She had to trust in the source, now called the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, which is to say, the God of the gods.  She called to her armor, and the call sounded strong, though she had nearly fallen into a coma.  She could always call for her armor, she knew, whether she found herself beneath the ocean or sucked into the vacuum of space, her voice would make the sound, and her armor would come.

R5 Greta: Confrontation, part 1 of 3

Something bothered Gregor.  “And where will you be in all of this?” he asked.

“I have to confront the Lady Brunhild,” Greta said.  “Which reminds me, Thissle.  Under no circumstances are you to be in the same room as Lady Brunhild.”  She turned to Bragi.  “I do not know the extent of her powers, but I will not risk Thissle, Okay?”

Bragi nodded again.

“I understand, my Lady,” Thissle said.  “I don’t like witches.  No, no, no.”

“She said that right,” Bragi interjected. “Lady Brunhild is a witch.  She bewitched us all.  I know you have the sight, but you have no power like hers.”

“She turned one man into a dog,” Gregor said. The others looked at him as if he had lost all sense, but he insisted.  “It is true.  Hagen confronted her and she turned him into a dog right in front of my eyes.”

“You can’t confront her,” Bragi said.

“But I am the only one who can,” Greta responded. “And this rebellion will never be over until Lady Brunhild is finished, one way or the other.”

“Bragi.”  The guard stuck his head in the door.  “The Lady is returning from the Quadi camp.  You need to get out of there before Kunther finds you.”

Greta gave her brother a last hug.  “Good luck,” she said.  “Take care of my Thissle.”  Greta let go, and Bragi left with the invisible Thissle beside him. The door got shut and bolted once again.

After that, Vasen became full of questions for Thorn. Curiously, no one questioned her authority over these gnomes except for Vasen’s one comment near the end.

“Truly you are Mother Greta.”  Gregor started it.  “Only the woman of the ways would know such things.”

Vasen shook his head.  “There is more here than mere tales of the woman of the ways.”

“Yes, that’s right.  Much more.”  Thorn started, but Greta hushed him.

“You don’t want to be a tale teller,” she said, as she went over to examine a tapestry on the wall.  Thorn shrugged, but got the message and got quiet.

“There is a lot of fairy work in the wall hanging,” Thorn said after a while.  “I can smell it.

“Yes,” Greta agreed.  “Grandfather Woden had it on the wall when this served as his hunting lodge.  The haunted forest started as his hunting preserve, you know.”  Thorn smiled.  Greta rolled her eyes and slapped her hand to her mouth almost hard enough to start it bleeding again.

“Grandfather Woden?”  Vasen caught it.

“The wise woman keeps silent, but the fool’s tongue cannot keep still,” Greta said through her fingers just before they heard a sound at the door.  “Thorn. Behind the tapestry.”  The little one complied.

Four guards stepped in and then stepped aside to let Lady Brunhild enter.  She looked as haughty and cruel as ever, Greta thought, yet something else as well. It disturbed Greta to look at the woman because she could not pinpoint what was wrong with the picture.

Lady Brunhild glanced at Greta, looked at Gregor who had a scowl on his face, and looked briefly at Finbear who did not look sure he knew what was going on.  Vasen turned his back on the Lady, but she stared at him, and he knew it as everyone saw the back of his neck turn red.  She walked casually to the tapestry and examined it, as if she sensed something.

“An exquisite piece of work,” she said. “Don’t you think?”  Greta heard something different about the woman’s voice as well, but it still eluded Greta’s grasp.

“Fairy work, one might say.”  Greta spoke pleasantly.  “It is very finely done.”

“Indeed,” the lady said.  Her hand came away from the tapestry to focus more fully on Greta. “I have been smelling the annoying things all over the Quadi camp all day.  No wonder they were in no condition this morning to mount an attack.”  She took a few steps closer and looked at Greta as if trying to penetrate her mind, but Greta, or more precisely, the Kairos would not let her in.  “Why do I feel you know something about all of this?” she asked.

Greta shrugged and smiled.  The woman would not read her thoughts, and after a moment, Lady Brunhild gave up trying.  She turned quickly toward the door.

“Bring her,” the Lady commanded.  Two men grabbed Greta roughly and seemed to delight in dragging Greta into the sanctuary.  It felt like Vedix all over again.  They returned to the alter which got towered over by the Odin statue, and there the men held her and did not let her so much as touch the scab forming on her lip. Greta saw her own small statue still on the altar, but then she realized it was only a glamour left by Thissle to fool the men.  The real statue had already gone.

Kunther also stood there along with a half dozen other men, including the man with the burned hands.  “Mother.”  He started to speak but became silent when she looked up at him, sharply.

“You must remember to call me Brunhild, Kunther dear, now that I am younger than you, Mother will not do.”  She said it.  That was it!  Lady Brunhild was no longer an elderly woman in her late fifties.  She was now no older than twenty-five, or perhaps twenty, and she spoke as if she expected to get even younger.  She walked up to Greta and squeezed Greta’s cheeks with her boney fingers. She caught the moment of recognition on Greta’s face and thought she might try once more to penetrate Greta’s mind; but no way she could.  Lady Brunhild had obviously gained a great deal of power and strength since their last meeting.  She was probably even more powerful than the Hag at that point, but the Traveler knew too much about the future.  Greta’s mind had been covered under the contract, so to speak, that the ancient gods in unison made millennia ago in the halls of Karnak.  It was the same contract which allowed her to manifest a power far beyond her natural abilities in relation to the little ones for whom she had been made responsible at that same meeting.  For Brunhild, no matter how strong, the attempt to read Greta’s mind became like a fly attempting to penetrate a concrete wall.

R5 Greta: The Temple Mount, part 2 of 3

“Sabazios Dyeus, grant us wisdom and courage,” Greta spoke as she walked.  “Zalmoxis, shine your light into our darkness. Artemis Bendi, defend the powerless on this day, and Selvanus, bring healing to all who do what is right.”  At the end of the sanctuary, there stood a giant statue of a man.  It looked like Odin, and Greta gasped to recognize him.  It had been carved from a single granite block, and it stood over the altar as if keeping a watchful eye on all the proceedings.

Greta set her meager offering on the table.  When she uncovered it, there were collective gasps and exclamations from the crowd. What the statue lacked in size, it more than made up for in priceless quality.  It appeared a magnificently crafted work of art, and the fact that Greta knew it got made in only one day felt almost unbelievable.

“This was made by the people who live in the forest,” she explained, not specifically naming the Celts.  “The lioness represents the Don, the Mother Goddess of the Gaelic people.  The dolphin is for the Romans, for Neptune, and in particular Salacia, Queen of the sea, to remind us that the Romans came to us from across the sea.  The bear is for the beloved grandson of the North, the Nameless god, the result of peace between the Vanir and Aesir.  If the gods can make peace, can we do less?”

“And the horse?” Vasen asked while Kunther nodded as if to say he had the same question.

“Let the horse in the middle be for all of us, and let it be a symbol of unity and peace. When well treated, the horse is a strong, loyal and tireless servant, and so we should serve one another in the cause of peace.  If there must be a fire, let it come from our unity, and let it be a fiery passion to defend our land, our loved ones, and our children who may yet harvest a legacy of peace and security for all.”  She pressed down on the horse’s tail and the horse rose up and showed flame from the eyes, nose and mouth.  When she let the horse down, the flame appeared to go out.

“Why, this is marvelous.”  Vasen said, and he tried the horse for himself.  Scorch behaved, but Greta hoped the Priest would not do that all night. Scorch would surely become sea sick.

Kunther walked once around the object.  He looked reluctant to touch it and Greta supported those feelings.  “This belongs to the temple, now,” she said.  “It is an offering to the gods and ought to be touched only by the priests.”

“Very well. I see no harm in the trinket, but as for you.”  He hit her in the mouth, knocked her down again and brought blood to her lip.  “I am sure Mother will want a word with you.  Put her in with the others,” he ordered.  “And take the Priest, too.”

Greta’s jaw hurt, her nose also bled a little along with her lip, and she feared she might get a black eye, but she refused to cry and shook off Vasen’s attention as several of the men took them to a back room in the temple.  When the door got shut and locked, Greta also knew that there were guards on duty.

The room itself seemed fairly large.  It appeared to be a place where the priests could retire for a time of meditation and prayer, and it held many of the priestly vestments as well as many artifacts of their work.  This was not a mere storage room, however, but rather a place for easy access to the sanctuary.  On one side, a door lead to the priest’s quarters.  It had been locked.  At the back, an opening and a rather small balcony unfortunately overlooked a cliff of considerable size.

Greta already found two men in the room.  They were the “others” Kunther had mentioned.  One, a Dacian named Gregor, had been accused of speaking out against the rebellion, and Kunther, and specifically against making any deals with the Quadi.  The only reason he stayed alive was because Kunther hoped to ferret out any others who might feel the same way, or cow those others into submission.  The other man in the room was Finbear.

“Lady!” Finbear made a beeline for Greta. “I almost lost hope.”

“Finbear.” Greta hugged him, which raised the eyebrows of the other men in the room.  She spoke for a moment in Gaelic which the others could not understand.

“Your father is in the Roman camp with Fae, Vedix the hunter and Cecil of the Eagle clan. They have allied with the Dacians and Romans in the field, but he does not know you are here.  He thinks you have gone home to care for your mother.”

“Yes, they have a right to know what has happened to me,” Finbear said.  “That is the only thing that kept me from jumping off the cliff. I do not think these people know what to make of me, but I think one recognized me as the son of the woodsman. I don’t know what your friend may have told them.”

“He is not my friend.”  Greta decided and confessed.  “I thought I was in love with him, once, but now I don’t think I even like him, and I assume he told them everything, about your people in the forest and everything.” She turned toward him and he noticed her bloody lip.

“But you are hurt,” he said.  “I do not understand.  Won’t the Don come now and set us free?”

“No, Finbear. It doesn’t work that way.”

“But the Don will come if you ask her,” he said, puzzled.  “I saw how she came to the village.  She revealed herself through you.  It must be something to be possessed by a god, even if only for a short time.”

Greta almost laughed.  It had to be about as interesting as a goddess being possessed by a Greta, she thought, but she said something else.  “You know how the gods work.  They put us in these impossible situations and somehow expect us to work our way out, all on our own.”  Finbear looked downcast.  He understood well enough.  “But don’t worry,” Greta added.  “We will find a way out.  The answer may be at the door even as we speak.”

They paused, but heard nothing.  That would have been too much to expect.  She did not have the timing of the little ones.  She was only human, after all.  She patted Finbear’s hand in reassurance, turned to Gregor and found him very informative.

Avalon 3.1: part 6 of 7, Close Enough to Hell

It did not take long to catch up with the procession where a dozen dwarfs were solemnly carrying the body of Carthair down the mountainside to his final resting place. Not much after the travelers caught up with those somber faces, the whole procession began to follow a stream. By late afternoon, they saw they were headed down into an upland valley where the stream became the beginning of a small river. It wound out of sight around much higher elevations, but the travelers understood it would eventually meet up with other streams and little rivers and become a big river that would flow all the way to a distant sea. Which sea was the only question, whether it would skirt the Alps and fall into the Adriatic, or join the Danube and meander to the Black Sea or head north until it emptied into the North Sea. They debated it, for something to do.

celltic town otherOnce they came further down the hill, they saw huts and tent-like structures here and there which showed every indication of human habitation. They were inspired to ride ahead in their excitement and desire for human contact, but Lockhart held them back. He said first they had to follow to where the dwarfs took the body.

“I am pretty sure that is where we will find the Kairos,” Alexis added.

The travelers dismounted at the edge of the village and walked their horses respectfully behind the dwarfs. They headed toward a big open building with fires burning bright and the sound of hammers against metal. It was a real blacksmith shop, and Hart, the one Kobald that stayed with them as they came down the mountain, made a single remark to Lockhart.

“Puckmein the dwarf drank too much and let slip the way of making bronze. Now these short livers are getting rich.”

“The knowledge is slowly making its way north,” Deepdigger, the chief dwarf spoke for only the third time that afternoon. “Lord Lucas and his father were going to take the knowledge of the bronze back over the alps to his Etruscas people, but there was trouble on the way. The way I heard it, the Lord escorted his father down into the land of Hades and barely escaped back here with his life.”

“Trouble?” Katie asked. “Land of Hades?”

“Murder,” Hart explained. “This one here.” He pointed to Carthair’s body.

“Carthair was murdered?” Lockhart asked.

“No.” Hart said, but before he could say more, they arrived.

There was something of a railing, perhaps like a fence to keep out the curious, but the travelers were able to tie their horses off before going inside. The dwarfs stopped outside with their package and only chief Deepdigger went in at first. Hart followed the travelers.

Two big men, giants in their day, though they were not necessarily bigger than Lockhart or Decker, came up to eye the intruders. The one with long brown hair tied back in a ponytail carried a big hammer. The scraggly blond had a cloth to wipe his hands, though it was hard to tell how that dirty cloth could hold any more dirt. Both men had faces streaked with charcoal, eyes that squinted, and frowns that looked etched in from years of bending over the hot fires.cetic town bar

“Lucas?” Lincoln tried the brown-haired man. The man said nothing, so he tried to blond. “Lucas?”

Lockhart tried a different approach. He stuck out his hand. “Lockhart,” he said, and introduced Katie, who smiled.

“Liam,” the one with the brown hair named himself and took Katie’s wrist. “Pleased to meet you.”

“Gunther,” the blond introduced himself to Lockhart, and shouted. “Lucas!”

A young man, not more than eighteen, came from around the back of the forge. He looked strong, well muscled and without any fat, but he also looked small compared to the blacksmiths. Deepdigger followed on the young man’s heels and stopped when the young man stopped to speak to Liam and Gunther.

“This is your place, and I am grateful for all you have done for me. All I can do is suggest you might want to go and see how Bogart’s new ale is coming along. Things around here are about to get very strange.”

“Oneesis?” Gunther asked.

“Lucas fancies himself in love with the Lady of the Mountain,” Liam confided.

Lucas shook his head. “Go ahead Deepdigger. Bring him in.” Then he spoke to the big men. “Probably Hellas, and maybe the same from the West, in case Liam has no other plans.”

Liam nudged his big friend, but Gunther first wanted to wag a finger at Lucas. “You just make sure you keep the fire hot.”

Lucas nodded, and when the dwarfs set down the body, Liam recognized the man. “Carthair.”

Lucas worried first about his job. “Dwarfs. You heard the man. Maintain the fire.”

“Just maintain it,” Gunther yelled and then he confided to the strangers. “Last time they got it so hot they just about burned the place down.”

“Turned a perfectly good plow blade into a puddle,” Liam added.

The dwarfs were delighted with the assignment and began to sing.

“We love to sing and dance and play, and work our work all through the day, And when we work the work we start, it makes us want to –“

“Knock it off!” Lucas yelled. He mumbled to the others. “This isn’t a Disney movie.” Then he turned to Carthair’s body and spoke sternly. “Carthair, come out of there.”

“No,” came the answer. “This is my body and I am going to live again as soon as I thaw out.”

inside BlacksmithThe travelers were not sure exactly what Gunther and Liam heard, but Gunther left quickly, and Liam suggested the strangers were welcome to join them.

“No thanks,” Decker answered. “I’ve already had a long talk with the fellow.”

“Carthair, there is no hiding now.”

“I’m not hiding.”

“Mother,” Lucas called out

“Where is my feast.” A woman appeared who was half woman and half rotting corpse. The travelers tried not to squirm, but it was a horrific sight as a worm crawled out of the woman’s empty eye socket and reentered the skull where the dead lips were peeled back from the teeth.

“Mother.”

“Helper,” the woman called and a ghost-like creature appeared beside her. “Collect my soul.” The creature said nothing. It merely went to the body and began to suck out the ghost.

“Mother. Oh, forget it.” Lucas said, and he was no longer standing there as Lucas. Danna, the mother goddess of the West, came from the past to stand in his place. She let out a great white light and the creature over Carthair squealed in pain and backed off.

“You have no place here,” the half-dead woman said.

“But I do,” Another woman appeared. “And maybe she does.”

‘Vrya, oh thank goodness,” Danna looked relieved.

“My son, even when you are my daughter,” Vrya said. “You know a murderer has no place in my house.”

“I know,” Danna agreed. “But maybe Odin needs to decide this. Maybe the Celts need to head west even if they are still in the Rhineland for the present.”

Vrya patted Danna’s hand like she agreed in principle. She got out the “O” and the god appeared, one eye covered and all. He made an imposing presence. And the travelers did their best to keep their eyes closed even if it didn’t prevent them from feeling the awe and trembling.

“I get the half-breeds,” Odin said without preliminaries.

“Unless they are married to a Celt or raised in the Celtic tradition to know the gods of the Celts,” Danna countered.

“Agreed,” Odin said and turned to the half-rotted woman. “Go back to your hell hole.” Both he and the woman with her creature vanished, but she managed to send back a word.

“And I would have honored him, considering who he murdered.”

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

Be sure and visit tomorrow for the conclusion of Avalon, episode 3.1, Carthair Revealed.