Reflections Flern-12 part 3 of 3

The night creature, and one that seemed able to move in daylight, contrary to all things natural, roared. It moved slowly and awkwardly, like a donkey might move in a barnyard, as it looked her over. Flern was not fooled by the awkward gate. When it attacked, it would move more graceful than a leopard and with more ferocity than a whole pack of hungry lions. Flern felt she only had one choice, to call on the gift of Odin. She felt it in her gut, and it burst from her hands just as the night creature prepared to charge. No way her blast would have melted the main gun of a Gott-Druk battleship, but in this case, it proved enough to put a foot-wide hole through the beast and continue to where it put an equal hole in the newly erected wooden wall. The night creature, what remained of it, collapsed, and then sizzled in the sun until it was no more.

The Wicca screamed and threw her hands toward Flern. Flern got caught in the middle by the same kind of force she just used, a force great enough to lift her from her feet. The force could not break through the shield of Frigga, and even if Flern only reflected in a small way the gift given to Wlvn, it seemed enough so the force did not harm her. It did drive her back, however, until she reached the middle of the river where it sent her down under the deep of the water and held her there.

Flern asked her water sprites to wait. She figured the gift of Njord would not let her breathe all day underwater like it would for Wlvn, but she could certainly breathe underwater for a few minutes. The Wicca kept up the pressure for a good five minutes before assuming she must have drowned. When the pressure lifted, Flern let the sprites help her up. She came to her feet on the top of the water where her water babies held her up. She spit the water out of her lungs and then walked back to the land on top of the waves.

“Thank you,” Flern said as her feet reached the shore.

A little water baby head popped up from the waves and squeaked an excited, “Your welcome,” before it disappeared again moving downstream.

By the time Flern reentered the circle, she had gotten just about dry, apart from her hair. “A fine dip in the fine water. Very refreshing. Thank you,” Flern said. The Wicca said nothing. She simply clapped again. Flern imagined the Wicca had to be running out of steam, given her age and the amount of power she had already exerted. Flern knew she was getting tired with all of this.

When Flern looked up, she saw her parents and sisters dragged to the circle by Jaccar. The Jaccar had swords drawn, and the threat appeared to be against her family’s necks.

“No,” Flern said in a surprisingly calm voice. Mother Vrya said I had to be willing to be who I am. Well, I am her son even when I am her daughter. And I am also her son when I am her son.” Flern went away from that time and place so Nameless could stand in her place. “You go too far,” he said, and in the blink of the Wicca’s eye, Flern’s family and all three hundred and fifty-two villagers disappeared from their village and reappeared safely across the river. The Jaccar found their swords all put away, and Nameless took one step toward the Wicca who screamed in terror.


Loki came, and the first word out of his mouth was, “Please.” It had a touch of sarcasm in it.

“Hilde,’ Nameless called. “Mother.” Both women appeared, one to each side of him, and they waited with an eye on Loki to see what might transpire.

“Please,” Loki began again with much more sincerity. “Odin pledged a time of indulgence.”

“The time is over,” Nameless said. “Your spoiled little brat has caused too much undue suffering. Set the Jaccar free and let them go home to their families and children. Let her go home to live out the remainder of her days in peace.”

“But she is my daughter.” Loki’s crooked face scrunched up with angst. “They won’t let me make her immortal. A little kindness. She has so little time.”

“That is the problem. Your kindness to her is terror and hatred to everyone else. Now it is ended.”

“But Hellas has vowed to keep her half-sister in torment and torture forever, and there is no talking her out of it.”

“Mother?” Nameless turned to Vrya. He did not have to spell it out. She took her son’s hand and pointed at the Wicca.

The old woman crashed back in her chair and screamed again. “Father. You promised.” A sickly green light, the color of mold and decay came out of the Wicca to dissipate in the sunlight. Then it was done. The Wicca collapsed, like she no longer had the energy to sit up straight. She was old, and now she showed it. She looked tired. She looked used up.

“Now she is fully human,” Vrya said. “Now I can let her serve in my house when the time comes to make up for all the people she forced to serve her in her lifetime.”

“When the time comes, I will personally bring her to your home,” Hilde said.

“How can I trust you?” Loki’s face contorted. “Do you promise to do this?”

“The gods don’t make promises,” Nameless responded. “But you have three witnesses who will see if people stay free and if she lives in peace.”

“But father,” the Wicca’s voice sounded weak and cracked in the upper register. “You promised I could have what I want.”

“You don’t know what you want, child,” Vrya said, and she looked to her son for an answer.

Nameless nodded. “It is a breach of temporal etiquette, but I can give her something like medicine to indulge her in her final days.” He thought through the recipe so Vrya, Hilde and Loki could catch it. Then he produced a small bowl out of thin air. He handed it to Loki who tested it with a finger. He gave a small spoonful to his daughter who made the strangest noises.

“Nectar,” the Wicca called it and grabbed for the bowl. It was Chocolate ice cream, and with it in hand, Loki and his daughter vanished from that place.

“Indulgent,” Vrya said with a slight smile.

“I’ll never be thin again,” Hilde admitted.

“Jaccar leaders!” Nameless shouted. The Jaccar were all on their knees before the gods so Nameless softened his voice, but it still carried the power to be heard. “Go home.” The Jaccar found their horses saddled and ready, and with minimal urging from their chiefs, they mounted and rode off into the East, never to return.

Vrya kissed her son. “I await the day when you will be my little one,” she said, and vanished.

Hilde bowed. “My Lord. I am yours with a willing heart, and I have sisters now to help in this great work.” She vanished.

Nameless waited until the Jaccar were all gone before he vanished and Flern came home to stand on the riverbank, all alone in her own village. Across the bank, the people were cheering and celebrating, and Flern did not blame them. No more good people would have to die.



The conclusion of the story followed by a look ahead toward Avalon, Season 9, the final season.  Until then, Happy Reading.


Reflections Flern-12 part 2 of 3

Flern and her friends looked across the river and into their village. It looked very different, but familiar at the same time. The houses, barns, workplaces, and market square looked much the same, as did the great hall in the village center, but all around stood a great wall that no one imagined would be there. It looked like the greatest fence ever constructed, made of whole trees driven into the ground, with mortar of some kind filling the little cracks between. It had a walkway all around which would put a man on the inside of the wall, able to see over, some twenty feet down on an enemy.

“I see why they only made those few little stabs at the men,” Flern mused out loud.

“Little stabs?” Karenski, Venislav and Vilder, speaking for the young people, were all amazed at her description. Good men fought, and good men died. But Diogenes knew, and both Mishka and the Princess confirmed, and so Flern knew that the attacks of the Jaccar were no more than sorties, meant to test the strength and determination of the opposing force, and to probe for weaknesses. If the enemy got driven off, all good and well; but it had not been expected. The Jaccar had the village fortified and showed that any confrontation would cost many lives. Now, the Jaccar counted on the attackers being unwilling to lose the lives it would take to break the wall. Only the riverside of the village had no wall. No doubt, the Jaccar assumed the river would act as a wall of its own.

Flern thought for some time. She had goblins, trolls, dwarfs and ogres who could tunnel under the wall before a single night was over. She could call up fire sprites from the deepest depths in the earth and burn the wall, and probably the village, so that would not be a good idea. If she wanted to destroy everyone, her sprites in the sky could bring torrents of rain, and her water sprites could overflow the river. She could flood the village, and the wall would act as a retaining wall to keep the flood waters rising. But she would not do these things. She would never put her little ones in danger if she had another way. And besides, they had every hope that their parents and families were still alive. They planned to save them, not get them killed.

Flern waved to the old woman in the chair that faced them across the river. Then she dismounted and everyone dismounted with her. She went first to Pinn and gave her a hug without a word. She hugged Vilder and then spoke. “Whatever you do, keep the people together.”

“Why? What do you have in mind?” That came from Kined, the smart one. Flern smiled and added a great kiss to her hug.

“I have in mind to face the Wicca first and keep both armies out of it,” Flern said, and stepped back. “All of this fighting is giving me a headache.”

“No. But wait. No.” Several people spoke at once, but Flern turned quickly toward the river.

“It is my job,” she shouted. “I just have to be who I am.” A water bridge formed instantly over the river and Dinester, the naiad stood an imposing twenty feet beside it. That vision made everyone pause just long enough. Flern started over, and as she did, the bridge collapsed behind her so no one could follow her. She had on her armor and weapons, but hoped she would not need any of it, though she might. The Wicca was a power to be reckoned with. She had a thousand Jaccar warriors enchanted to do her will. She had the power to enchant people hundreds of miles away. She had power over certain monsters, even night creatures. When Flern thought about it, she imagined she had little chance against this woman, but she had to try. It might be better not to think about it.

 The Jaccar kept a respectful distance as Flern stepped on land. She marched toward the woman in the chair and stopped some twenty feet away. This woman looked old. She looked fragile, with the brittle bones of age and that gaunt look that nevertheless got bloated with fat in certain places. She did not look long for this world. But with all that, Flern reminded herself that this woman remained a power to be reckoned with. She was half human and half god, and Flern thought she knew who that god might be, but thus far, she had only circumstantial evidence. Flern waited for the woman to speak.

“Do you dance?” the Wicca asked. Flern said nothing as the woman continued. “Circle, circle. We need a circle for the dance.” The Wicca raised a boney finger and slowly drew a circle in the air. The ground trembled and a circle, cleared of grass, slowly formed on the ground some forty feet in diameter with the chair just outside, but with Flern in the middle. “Let us see how my servants dance.” She clapped her hands, and a half-dozen imps appeared around Flern.

The imps immediately began to dance and chant. They reached down and pulled up grass and dirt to sprinkle at her as they danced. Flern put her hands to her hips and frowned. The imps were brought from the east, and like all the Wicca’s slaves, they were uprooted from their families. After a minute, the imps stopped, and one spoke to the Wicca.

“I doesn’t seem to be affecting her.” The Wicca did not look happy.

“Let’s see how you deal with their bigger companion.” She clapped again and an ogre appeared. The ogre needed a minute to get his bearings, and Flern covered her grinning mouth.

“Stonecrusher,” Flern named the beast. “Gods you are an ugly brute.”

“I am,” Stonecrusher said with a touch of pride. He reached for Flern, and he did not move slow, but Flern had some superspeed from one of the gifts given to Wlvn. She slapped that hand on the knuckle and the ogre yelped. “Ouch!” He pulled his hand back just as fast as he put it out and he stuck the whole finger in its mouth. He looked at Flern, dumbfounded.

Flern got tired of this game. “Stonecrusher, and all of you imps. You are free of the control of the Wicca. Now go home.” She did not clap her hands. She merely waved and they all vanished.

“No!” The Wicca stood in protest, but then sat again as she decided on another avenue. “Let us see how you dance with my pet,” she said, and with another clap, a great black bear appeared in the ring.

Flern immediately shot up some twenty feet in the air. Another gift to Wlvn, she remembered. The bear stood but it could not get at her. Flern pulled her sword and used the flat on the bear’s head, like she did once before in the wilderness. Even standing, the bear’s paws were too short to reach up at her. After a couple of good clonks on the head, the bear had enough. It whined, fell to all fours, and waddled off to the river where it swam around the village wall and headed for the wilderness.

Flern had her sword put itself away because she had not practiced doing that, and she figured it would be a good show for the watching Jaccar. The Wicca had something to say. “You cheat.” She clapped her hands again and ten ghouls surrounded her. “Try to cheat with these.” She laughed.

Flern only hesitated a moment before she began to run at super speed. But Flern did not run away. She ran in the circle, which made everyone watching her get dizzy, including the Wicca and the ghouls.

The ghouls tried to grab her, but they were too slow and awkward, a weakness. They began to bunch up, but eventually one thought to stick out his arm and let her run into it. Unfortunately for the ghoul, Flern saw, and she arrived filled with the strength of Thor. She grabbed the ghoul and dragged him around after her, before she ripped the arm right out of its socket. Flern had no sympathy for ghouls. They ate human souls.

Flern ran once around, slapping each ghoul in the face with the arm. The ghouls got knocked back, and she felt that gave her the room she needed. By the time the ghouls remembered their weapons, Flern already had her sword out. She did not use the flat side this time but cut a deep gash in the middle of every ghoul she passed until she came to a halt, once again in the center of the circle, now surrounded by ten puddles of purple and green puss. Flern, however, did not have time to amaze herself at the ease of overcoming ten ghouls since another creature already arrived on the field.

Flern took a step back. The night creature was the only thing she truly feared.

Reflections Flern-11 part 2 of 3

It took three days to reach the river and they never questioned the path or wavered in their course, even through a whole day of late spring rains. Riah brought them straight to the village of Andronicus, but she said it felt more by instinct than knowledge. They found homes there of a very different construction than their own. These were made out of far more lumber and used far less stone, and it made them all feel like they were in an entirely new world. The language the people spoke underlined that feeling. They understood none of it.

A big man, a Gunder sized man of about forty years came out dressed in a leather apron. “The word came through our seer that you were coming.” Riah had to translate for the others, but Flern understood the words well enough. “The thing is we are not inclined to give away our secret for free.” A dozen or more men stood in the background, and they were all watching, More than one pointed at the elf, and whispered.

“Not free,” Flern spoke quickly. “You have four strong men who will work to learn.”

“And me,” Pinn volunteered when the words were translated.

“And you have horses,” Andronicus said and wiped a bit of coal dust from his naked arms. “There are not many horses around here, at least domesticated horses.”

Flern dismounted, so the others dismounted as well. She went straight to Kined and took his hand first before she walked up to face the big man. “We are offering free labor. I think we need to talk about the horses later,” she said, and tried to sound firm about it.

The big man looked down on her and studied her face. He shook his head. “No. Despite your spirit guide, I see nothing special in you. I think you need to give us your horses and maybe whatever else we want if you want the secret of the metal.”

Flern floated up to face the man which caused the man’s eyes to widen a bit and caused him to take a half-step back. “Horses later.” Flern put her hands to her hips and spoke in her most determined voice even as a bright flash of light came from down by the river. A beautiful woman appeared in what looked like a Greek mini-skirt, and she had a silver bow over her shoulder. She looked down as she walked, like she was following some special trail.

“Artemis!” Flern squealed in delight and forgot all about the big man. She fell to her feet and ran to the goddess, but when Artemis looked up and gave her a hard and uncertain look, Flern left that place and let the Princess, dressed in her armor, finish the run. Artemis showed a guarded smile at the change. The Princess got gifted and filled with the spirit of Artemis herself, and of course Artemis knew that even if she could not imagine when she might have done that or might do that in the future which she knew as something special about the Kairos.

“Good thing you got here,” the Princess said when she arrived. The two women looked at each other for a moment. The Princess knew that for Artemis the relationship was still young, but she had known Artemis for centuries and finally gave into her urge. She hugged the goddess and greeted her with a true sisterly kiss. Artemis responded in kind though the uncertainty remained. A moment later, Kined arrived and went to one knee before the goddess. Riah was right beside him, though the others kept back.

“I see you have one already.” Artemis pointed her head at Riah. “I brought some more to help with the language problem and whatever.”

“Kined,” the Princess spoke to Flern’s fiancé. “This is Artemis, my best friend in the whole world, forever. Artemis, this is Kined and Riah is also my friend.”

Artemis merely nodded and turned her head to look around. “Where can they have gotten to? Goldenwing.” Artemis called just like Flern when she called Bricklebrains back from his journey. Goldenwing had no choice but to appear. He was a fairy, and there were two dozen young fairies with him, males and females. They fluttered a bit before they took to hovering in the air as Goldenwing transformed into his full, human sized form. He bowed graciously to Artemis and then bowed with equal grace to the Princess as he spoke.

“My Lady, how may we serve you?”

“I need some of you to translate so my friends can understand and communicate with these people. Then I need the rest of you to help us set up and maintain a camp outside the village where we can stay through the summer while we learn about the bronze making.” The Princess turned back to Artemis. “Thank you,” she took and squeezed Artemis’ hand. “I never considered the language barrier, and you would think of all people I would have thought of that. You are always so thoughtful. Please,” she waved the fairy troop toward her friends. “I would be grateful if you would help.” Some of the fairies fluttered toward the horses.

“Actually, I thought you might have some trouble here. Andronicus can be hardheaded and greedy.” Artemis took a moment to study the Princess’ face even as Andronicus studied the face of Flern moments before. “Let me see the one who belongs here.” She said the words, but she honestly asked, and it sounded odd because the gods never really asked anything.

The Princess nodded and Flern returned. Oddly, Flern felt a bit shy in front of the goddess where the Princess felt completely comfortable and familiar. “Do you like?” She lifted her arms to show herself off, but her uncertainty in herself mostly showed.

Artemis slowly smiled like she just figured something out. “I like,” she said. “I think I could get used to the idea of having a best friend in the whole world,” and this time she hugged Flern and gave her the sisterly kiss. Flern blushed and had to turn to Goldenwing who stood patiently, waiting on the gods.

“This is Kined, my betrothed,” she said. “I would be grateful if you stayed with him and maybe the two of you can find the right helpers for my friends.”

“It would be an honor to stay with the young Lord.”

“Maybe you could get small and sit on his shoulder. Then you could whisper wisdom in his ear.”

“If I have any wisdom to whisper,” Goldenwing said. He seemed quite young, as was his whole troop of volunteers. With a bow and a look at Riah that no one missed, Goldenwing returned to his natural small size and fluttered to Kined’s shoulder. Together, they walked back to the others, talking like they were old friends, the rest of the fairy troop following. Flern noticed Andronicus had turned from the group. Vilder and Gunder were following while the others held the horses. Pinn shouted and pointed to the fairy that hovered beside her.

“He said he would give us everything we want. He said he was not about to cross the gods.”

“Good,” Artemis said, and looked again at Flern when the two of them were alone, but for Riah.

Flern had a thought and voiced it. “But where are Ares and Dite? They were the ones who came to Wlvn.”

Artemis smiled at the name, Dite. “Aphrodite is flitting about in her way as I am sure you know. Ares is off sulking. Your war will be in another world, and he cannot even attend unless he is invited.”

“Oh, yes, of course,” Flern said. The jurisdictions of the gods were fairly well defined, and they were strict about humans and other gods crossing the lines. Of course, that meant little to the Kairos who moved as the Watcher over history. The gods understood that history included the whole earth. And it also did not mean much to the little spirits of the earth that migrated with the winds and the waves and the seasons.

Artemis spoke again as they slowly walked toward the village. “What I have heard is Odin believes you may find a way to resolve things without the need for further bloodshed. He thinks very highly of you.”

“The Kairos, not me. I’m just Flern.”

Artemis offered Flern another kiss on the cheek, and a genuine, unguarded smile at last. “You will never be just an anything.” And she vanished.

Flern sighed and spoke to Riah as she took the elf’s hand and walked slowly beside her. “I have all the rest of the spring, all summer and probably all fall to try and figure out what to do about the powerful and terrible Wicca without spilling more blood and killing more people.”

“Good luck.” Flern felt the words echo in her soul and thought “thank you.” She was going to need all the luck she could get.

Reflections Flern-11 part 1 of 3

Flern woke up happy and wonderfully well rested. There was only one thing that caused ripples in the calm surface of her mind. “Am I home?” she asked.

“Yes.” Mother Vrya stood right there to assure her. “And I have something else for you.” She handed Flern a paper with the name Andronicus written on it. “The bronze maker.”

Flern gave Vrya a funny look. “But didn’t all the gods promise not to interfere with the Wicca?”

“I don’t make promises,” Vrya responded. “I learned that ages ago from someone very wise. Besides, a name is hardly interfering.”

Flern arrived in her good old dress, and she had a pocket where she put the paper, but first she had to hug the goddess and say, “Thank you.” And Vrya said something sweet to Flern’s ears.

“Just what Brmr would have said.”

It did not matter that Brmr had technically been Wlvn’s sister, not hers. She felt the joy of the statement and felt very happy for Brmr, for Wlvn, and for herself. “But my friends?”

They stood and Vrya informed her. “They left the village last night and are camped outside. It is early morning, but I believe they have eaten.”

“Oh?” Flern walked slowly to the cave entrance. Vrya disappeared at some point, but Flern did not notice. Her mind focused on Pinn, Vinnu and Thrud, and the boys, Vilder, Gunder and Tiren. She knew she had to remember Riah, but when she looked, she only looked for one person.

“Flern?” “Flern!” The girls stood when they saw her. The boys moved a little slower, but they also rose as Flern saw him. She ran, perhaps floated a bit, tackled Kined and landed on top of him.

“Yes,” she said. “Yes,” and she kissed his face. “Yes.”

Kined smiled well enough as he rolled her over and pushed up to look into her eyes. “But I haven’t—oh, I see. So will you marry me?”

“I already said yes.” Flern answered and thought of Andrea as she pulled his head down to kiss properly.

“I’m glad that’s settled,” Thrud said. At least Vinnu had the decency to sigh.

“You owe me,” Tiren said.

“Ha. Glad I didn’t bet this time,” Gunder grinned while Vilder rolled up his sleeve.

After a while, Kined stood. Flern’s face appeared full of curiosity, but Kined spoke honestly. “I have to.” He started getting too interested.

“Oh,” Flern felt it too and did not argue. “I suppose we need to keep moving while we can. Oh, I missed you all so much.” She hugged the girls each in turn and pulled out her paper and handed it to Pinn.

“What is this?”

“A gift from Mother Vrya.”

Pinn barely paused on Flern referring to the goddess as mother. She started adjusting. “But what is it?”

“Real paper. I don’t know how she managed that.” Flern rolled her eyes at Vinnu.

“No, I mean these marks on it.”

“That’s writing.”

Pinn stared at it for another moment while Vilder came up to look over her shoulder and the others gathered around. Finally, Pinn spoke again. “But what does it write?”

Flern realized the problem and took the paper back. “It says Andronicus. Mother Vrya says that is the name of the bronze maker.”


“Andronicus,” Flern repeated as she put the paper back in her pocket.

Riah chose that moment to come up and bow. “Lady,” she said and kept her eyes lowered.

Flern reached out and took the girl’s hand. “It is still just me. You were very good to Wlvn me. I hope we can be friends, too.”

Riah smiled at that thought, but Kined had to ruin it.

“But poor Riah is now the only single person on the trip.

“Maybe we need to find someone for her,” Flern suggested, and she felt very grown-up as she slipped her arm around Kined’s waist. He grinned and put his arm over her shoulder.

“Oh, yes,” he said, “someone very nice.”

“Oh no, you wouldn’t, would you?”

Flern giggled. “You sound like your mother.” She poked her finger in Kined’s chest. “And you sound just like my wife.”

“Your,” Kined wrinkled his brow. “Wife?”

“Well, Wlvn’s wife.”

“Ah. He never mentioned it.”

“Later,” Flern said as she thought she better let go of him again. They needed to fetch their horses anyway. “But say, where is Bricklebrains? I was looking forward to seeing him with my own eyes.”

“Ah.” Vilder stepped up as he rubbed his upper arm. “He went back to Movan Mountain. He said his wife’s cooking called him, but he said you knew where to find him if you need him.”

“And I do,” Flern said. “Bricklebrains.” She called in a special way and the dwarf was obliged to appear before her. It looked like great magic, but in truth it was something perfectly natural to Flern since the gods collectively saddled the Kairos with oversight of the little ones. Bricklebrains showed up with his back to her and had something to say.

“Hey! I was almost half-way home.”

“Ahem,” Flern coughed to get the dwarf’s attention. Bricklebrains turned around, saw her, whipped off his hat and held his tongue. “I just wanted to thank you for taking such good care of Wlvn.” She bent down and kissed the dwarf on his receding hairline. “Say hello to Balken for us and give a special hug to Badl for me. Now go to Movan Mountain.”

Bricklebrains said nothing. His cheeks and forehead were scarlet from the kiss, but as Flern clapped her hands, Bricklebrains vanished.

“Amazing,” Kined said. Flern just looked up at him and smiled.

Reflections Flern-10 part 3 of 3

The inn looked guarded. There were Jaccar outside and no doubt inside as well. Wlvn had to walk all around the house to find an unguarded second-story window. They probably imagined the second floor would be safe. They never reckoned on the fact that Wlvn could fly. Reaching the window proved the easy part. Opening the shutters without alerting everyone up and down the road seemed a bit more difficult. With the window cracked open, he floated, listened and hoped to hear nothing. Instead, he heard the voice of a very old woman. The Wicca? He wondered, but soon decided it could not be the Wicca. It had to be just an ordinary witch.

“Why won’t you children tell me the truth. A girl cannot simply slip backwards in time. Life does not work that way.”

“We are telling the truth.” Wlvn thought that might be Thrud’s voice. “She is no longer here and Wlvn, a boy has taken her place.” Poor Thrud sounded like she had either been drugged or enchanted, which amounted to the same thing.

“More likely the girl has turned herself into a boy to elude capture. That says there is some real magic at work here,” the old woman responded. “And where is this boy now?”

“We don’t know,” Pinn responded out of the same drugged voice.  “He became a legendary woman and turned into an owl to fly up to the Were plateau in search of our friend. He has not come back yet.”

“What legendary woman? No one can go up to the Were plateau and live.”

“Faya,” Thrud said.

“What? Impossible.” The witch paced. Wlvn heard the click clack of shoes against the plain wood floors. “It is no wonder the Wicca asked me to do this,” The witch explained to someone. “This girl sounds like a very powerful sorceress to change her shape as she does.”

A man answered, but he spoke in a language Wlvn did not know.

Wlvn opened the window slowly. He had not yet been seen, probably because the Jaccar soldiers below were not in the habit of looking up other than to check the time of day. Since the sun just started to break above the horizon, no one looked up, but that grace would not last forever.

The shutter creaked, but only a little, and Wlvn managed to slither in while he floated, so his body never touched the wooden floor. There were four rooms upstairs, the room he entered and the one beside it, where the questioning took place, had the door cracked open. Then there were the two front rooms by the stairs. Wlvn wanted to find Riah and Bricklebrains. He assumed the boys were as enchanted as the girls, but he imagined his little ones would be resistant. He opened the front room door slowly and snuck a look. Riah, Nadia, and Vinnu were there, tied up, and Vinnu slept, besides. Wlvn guessed the boys got tied up in the other room, but this would do for his purposes.

He was about to enter when he heard the door to the boy’s room open. Thrud and Pinn got tossed back into the girl’s room, and they both stumbled and fell. Whatever the enchantment or drug this old witch used, it looked powerful. Neither girl complained, but they also did not get up right away. Wlvn thought to try a different approach.

He sat quietly and cleared his mind. Then he reached out to Riah with only his thoughts. “Be free,” he thought first. “Be free of whatever drugs or enchantment the witch has laid upon you.”

“I am free,” the thought came right back. “She has not tried to drug me or Nadia yet.”

“Good,” Wlvn thought and put a hand to his head against the inevitable headache. “One of you needs to keep the others entertained while the other one backs up to where I can untie you.” He pictured it in his mind and cut the contact. Riah immediately leaned over to Nadia and whispered in the girl’s ear. Nadia backed up. Wlvn thought it would be the other way around, but then he imagined Riah would be the more familiar face for the drugged ones. They might be too blurry to even remember Nadia unless they looked directly at her.

Riah engaged Pinn and Thrud in conversation right away. She also planted the thought that they should face the boy’s door since that was the way they came when they were fetched. Wlvn thought of that as good thinking. It gave him a chance to work on Nadia’s ropes without someone facing him. He did quick work, but almost not quick enough as the men came back to fetch Nadia and the elf. Riah had already set herself free, it turned out, with a bit of magic of her own. And she and Nadia went straight at the two men who at first were startled and surprised to find them free. Wlvn would have made quick work of them if his own door had not opened, and two men came into his room.

Wlvn moved at a speed impossible to follow. He grabbed each man in turn before they could reach their weapons, and tossed them hard out the window he had come in. He almost got them before they could raise the alarm, but the last one shouted and shouts also began in the girl’s room.

Wlvn decided he had no going back. He smashed down the door to the witch’s room and punched the big man with the strength of Thor in him. The man crashed through the wall and no doubt died as he broke to pieces.

“Stop!” The witch raised her hand and Wlvn found he could not move, but his hand was also raised in her direction, and he had no doubt the thunderbolt of Odin would reduce her to ashes. He just got ready to unleash the power when he found himself totally disabled by a power far greater than the witch. In fact, the witch herself also seemed disabled and Wlvn quickly understood why. Mother Vrya stepped in front of his face and had some stern words.

“You were about to make cinders of my pupil,” she said. She turned to the old woman and touched her. “There, dear. Now you are free of the Wicca’s control.”

“I was controlled?”

“Yes, dear. The Wicca is a half-goddess, and you have no power against that.”

Wlvn could not speak, but his mind yelled, a demi-goddess!

“The witch!” Bricklebrains came storming into the room ready for the kill, but Vrya just sent her pupil somewhere else. “I spent her whole life trying to push her magic to the limit. My great experiment. I am not going to lose her now.”

Bricklebrains caught up with events in his mind and whipped off his hat. “Sorry your ladyship. Trying to save my friends is all. I’m sure you understand.” Vrya could not resist a little smile for the scamp.

Nadia and Riah came in next, and Riah made the announcement. “The boys and girls are all free of the enchantment, and the boys are right now chasing off the remaining Jaccar.”

“I did it!” Nadia interrupted, and spoke to Wlvn, not yet realizing he could not speak back. “I fought and won.”

Vrya smiled and stepped up to kiss the young girl on the forehead. “Yes, you did, my sometime grandchild. And don’t you worry, everything will work out, but for the moment I have to borrow my son, even if he is not presently my son. Come to the cave at the bottom of the hill when you are ready to finish the journey.” She smiled for them all as Thrud and Vinnu came bounding into the room.

Wlvn appeared in a cave with a bed. It felt strange to him, being in bed in a cave, but when Mother Vrya said lay down, he did not argue. Nothing he wanted more than a good eight-hours of sleep.



Flern returns to her proper time and place, plus they get some extra help toward finding the secret of the bronze. Until then, Happy Reading


Reflections Flrn-10 part 2 of 3

Faya flew into the dark and picked up a few followers along the way. She had a long flight to the stone tower where the Were king and queen resided. Faya recalled her own days there fondly, with her beast and their many children. Not to say that everything was perfect. The gods were at war in those early days. But mostly it had been a wonderful life, and she hoped Flern and Kined could find some happiness together as well, if she could figure out how to switch Wlvn and Flern back to where they belonged.

When Faya landed, and resumed human form, her followers did the same. She had collected a small crowd behind her on the stone court, and she wondered what they might be thinking, especially since she began to glow over the last couple of miles. “As the crow flies,” she said to herself, and ignored the people behind her as she knocked gently on the door.

A young man opened the door. “May I help you?” he asked, before he took a look at her face.

“Faya, to see whoever is in charge,” she said, and there were several audible gasps from behind. The young man tried to smile.

“One moment.” He shut the door slowly, but his trembling hand suggested he wanted to slam it. A moment later, a rather older and bigger man came and hauled the door open.

“Who dares? I don’t find it funny.” The older man already decided what he would believe before he arrived.

Faya studied the man and saw something of her beast in him these many generations later. She spoke calmly. “I think you may call me grandmother,” she decided.

“Eh?” And for the first time the big old man looked squarely at Faya and into her eyes. Faya let the fires of the sun come up into her eyes. She waved her hand and the vines that clung to the tower grew miraculously and stretched out to the very edges of the door, like they were ready to crash inside the house. Then she rose up until she was able to look him straight in the eye and spoke sternly.

“This is an urgent matter and I have no time to play. Be a good boy and hear me.” She turned and addressed all the ones who had gathered. “My friend Carpasis has likely told you already, but just to be sure. There is a human who rode up on to the plateau with a dragon hot on his trail. Have you seen him or heard of him?”

Everyone said no, including the big man in the doorway.

“I wish to know if he survived or if the dragon caught him. If he survived, I want him treated with respect, fed and rested, and brought safely to the village on the mountainside where Raini and I used to play. Tell him he is to go to the inn of Nadia and her father which is on the road that leads down the mountain and wish him well. If he did not survive, if the dragon caught him, I would like to see the evidence. And if you kill him after this telling, I will find out and I will be very cross with you all.” Faya turned again to face the big man in the door and look at him eye to eye. “Hear me,” she said, and then she could not help putting out her hand and touching the man on the cheek. “My grandchild.”

With that, Faya rose up high into the sky and changed back into the scarlet owl as she headed back toward the inn. Some of her first followers followed her again, and they picked up a group of new ones as well along the way. Faya only hoped she could get back by sunrise. She would be very tired, but she paid for two nights because she knew that both she and Wlvn would need some rest.”

When she arrived, the Were stopped at the wall on the edge of town, but Faya flew freely over the rooftops. She saw a perch erected in the town square, just where she used to land when she visited her cousin Raini. The only thing missing on the perch was the big copper bell. She knew it would be a walk to the inn, but she could not resist. She changed to an eagle with the same red glean in her feathers as the sky in the east turned a corresponding red, and she landed on the perch and paused only to preen her shoulder feather. Then she jumped from the perch and changed simultaneously into Faya as she landed and thought she could not count the number of times she did that in the deep past.

Faya sensed the arrow in the air before she saw it. Her aunt Freja taught her that—aunt Vrya, she corrected her pronunciation. Her right hand came up as she thought and something like a solar flare came from her hand. It turned the arrow shaft completely to dust and the copper head to little melted drops that fell and blended into the soil. At the same time, she raised her left hand and the clouds overhead congealed in a moment of time. A bolt of lightning struck the earth not two feet from the bowman. The bowman got tossed by the explosion. He got singed everywhere, but not badly burnt, and he went unconscious, but did not die.

“Why?” Faya asked out loud. I pose no threat to anyone, she thought, and she started toward the bowman, but stopped after only a step. Wlvn said this should be his job, and she could not argue. All she could do was look around and say it felt so good to be home, and then she went away. Wlvn came back and headed for the archer.

“Jaccar.” Wlvn recognized what passed for a uniform. He wondered how that was possible, but he remembered one of the gods stood behind the Wicca and helped her in her wicked designs. Wlvn had a thought and ran for the inn at super speed before the gathering crowd could block his way.

Reflections Flern-9 part 1 of 3

Wlvn made Bricklebrains ride behind Kined, though Bricklebrains called it an honor he did not deserve. Still, it gave them a chance to get to know each other a bit, and after a while, they dropped back to include Fritt in their conversation. Kined felt concerned. He feared Fritt might not speak to him alone, but Fritt adjusted better than Kined supposed, and even said something surprising.

“I’m glad if Flern did not pick me, she picked you. I could not have stood it if she picked Trell or Tird, but you and Flern have been best friends forever, so I don’t mind so much.”

“Good,” Wlvn said when Riah with her good elf ears told him what they said.

“But I don’t like spying,” Riah complained.

“Yeah, well Flern hasn’t picked anyone yet, and I am certainly not going to marry Kined.” Riah opened her eyes and mouth wide before she shut her mouth with a clack.

“Of course.”

They crossed the river Sware just after lunch and reached the town well before sundown. This was the first town Wlvn ever saw that had an inn of sorts. Of course, he never saw much in the way of towns. There were nearly five hundred people in and around the town and it had become a real center for civilization in the area. Apparently, there were a half-dozen towns on the river along with any number of villages, and they all traded with each other. Back in Wlvn’s day, a hundred was a massively sized village, and when he added it up, there were probably more people in those towns along the river than in all the villages in the land of the Titan, combined.

“There weren’t as many people back in my day,” he confessed to the others. “This feels very crowded.” Still, he knew what to do at an inn, thanks to the Princess and others guiding his hand and words. The economy had no money, of course, but trade worked well enough, even the prospect of future trade.

They were found by the important people in the town right away. Wlvn demonstrated his bronze sword and knife and said how they were going to find the secret of making this miraculous metal. The people said, “We heard,” and an elder named Oren took the lead.

“We also heard how you fought off the Jaccar. It is all the talk up and down the river. We have turned from being a people in fear to a people with hope. And we will fight with you, whether you succeed in finding your bronze or not.”

Vilder and the others got excited by that word, but Wlvn, and now Pinn, waited for the other shoe to drop. It came from a woman on the council named Leelar. “But where is the red headed girl?” she asked. Wlvn turned to Bricklebrains, and he nodded and pointed at the woman. Wlvn returned the nod and put poor Pinn and Riah on the spot.

“These two will explain how Flern is negotiating with the dwarfs but will be along in a couple of days.” He took Oren by the arm, and Bricklebrains followed them outside where they could talk without being overheard.

“Never mind Leelar,” Oren said. “She is firmly against all sorts of fighting. But I tell her she cannot hide beneath a basket and expect to be safe. Most of the council is solid in support of you, and I feel what reluctance there might have been vanished when you rode into town with an elf and a dwarf who both answer to you. I never saw an elf before, but I understand they are a proud and independent people, as wise as they are mysterious. And I never heard of a dwarf answering to anyone.”

“I appreciate your sentiment, but Bricklebrains, tell him.”

Bricklebrains frowned but Oren bent down a little to better hear what the dwarf had to say. He even smiled against Bricklebrains’ frown in anticipation.

“When me and the chief found Lord Wolven, we were enchanted by the Wicca.”

“Eh?” Oren did not know who that was.

“The leader of the Jaccar,” Wlvn said. “A most powerful witch.” The look on Oren’s face showed that he knew what a witch was. “Powerful enough to enchant dwarfs.” That was serious power. Bricklebrains tugged on Oren’s sleeve. He had not finished.

“Well, our Lord set us free of the enchantment, but he made it so I could smell if someone else was enchanted, you see? I got the nose for it.” He proudly lifted up his nose so Oren could get a good look at it.

“Well?” Oren asked the dwarf.

“Well, it’s like this. Your Miss Leelar is enchanted by the Wicca, just like we were. I don’t imagine she can speak her own mind. No idea what her mind might speak. But she can speak what the Wicca wants, that’s for sure.”

“What?” Oren turned that question on Wlvn.

“I have no power to break the Wicca’s spell over humans,” Wlvn said. “All I can say is don’t listen to her. The words will be full of lies and manipulation, and she will lead the village into slavery to the Wicca and the Jaccar.”

“What!” Oren shouted and looked back and forth between the man and the dwarf. “Are you sure?”

Both Wlvn and Bricklebrains nodded, and Wlvn had a suggestion. “Let Bricklebrains sniff around, quietly, and see who else, if any, might be under the witch’s spell.”

“I can’t believe it.” Oren said as he found a place to sit down. That did not mean he did not believe it. “I have known Leelar for forty years. She does not seem changed to me.”

“That is probably why the Wicca was able to get to her,” Wlvn suggested as Oren took another look. “Leelar probably leaned in a direction convenient for the witch to use.”

“But why should I believe you? What reason do I have to trust your word for this? These dwarfs are known to be great tricksters and not to be completely trusted.”

“Hey!” Bricklebrains took offense, but Wlvn calmed him with a simple wave of his hand.

“Let me put it this way. If you wish to support us with men and hunters against the Jaccar, fine. If you decide not to support us, fine. I am not here to control your decision. I am only asking that you make your own decision and not let the Wicca make it for you.”

Oren thought for a minute. “Your offer is fair enough, and I think I would like to test it if your dwarf is willing.”

An hour later, they stood in the council chamber and Bricklebrains sniffed at the seven men and two women. He quickly identified two of the men along with Leelar. Oren nodded, knowingly.

“These two and Leelar have been most vocal against joining you in your fight. You would have no way of knowing that unless what you say is true. Mylara,” he pointed at the other woman. “She has also voiced some opposition, but I felt she just agreed with these others and did not feel committed. She has said as much.”

Mylara looked up and nodded her head. “I believe it will be terrible to lose our young men and then have no one to defend us when the Jaccar come here.”

Wlvn got the woman’s attention. “An expression to remember. United we stand, divided we fall.” The woman said no more because Leelar spoke up.

“So, what is this? To see if the dwarf could point out the ones against fighting and dying for some unknown village and unknown people?”

“No, actually, it was to see if the dwarf could pick out those under the spell of the Wicca, the powerful witch that also controls the Jaccar.”

“What?” The council imitated Oren to a person, and some backed away from the three singled out.

“The fact that you three have also spoken so strongly against joining the fight just confirms it,” Wlvn said. “I will tell you what I told Oren. If you fight with us, great. If you decide not to fight with us, that is fine. We will not hold it against you, only let it be your own decision. Do not let the Wicca decide for you.”

Wlvn returned to the inn and made everyone follow him to just outside the town where they camped in the wilderness at the foot of the pass. All he heard was how they were all looking forward to spending a night in a real bed, despite the fact that the so-called inn only had three beds. But Wlvn would not hear it, and they understood despite the complaints. Town simply became unsafe. Someone under the power of the Wicca might easily be there to kill them in their sleep.

For the first time, Wlvn organized a watch in the night. They knew about the watch set out against the Jaccar, of course, but this time they were not expecting any Jaccar so there was reluctance until Wlvn thoroughly explained it. “Just a precaution,” Wlvn said.

“Genius,” Vilder called it in the end. “We each take two hours to watch and guard the camp so people can sleep in peace, and everyone gets real rest, and everyone stays protected.”

“Provided you watch during your watch,” Wlvn underlined the word.

The morning came without incident, and they left that town behind as they began to climb for the pass. Thrud, Vinnu, Tiren and Fritt were anxious to find out what the town decided in the night, but Wlvn would not let them. He said the best way to show they meant it when they said they wanted the town to make their own decision would be to leave, not to go back and put pressure on them. “Besides,” he said. “What if they decided against us after all?” That quieted them.

Reflections Flern-8 part 3 of 3

Wlvn spent the afternoon riding out front, alone, as Fritt brought up the rear by himself. Kined and Riah rode side by side, and that was fine. It gave Wlvn some time to think things through.

This Wicca and her army of Jaccar warriors seemed a terrible thing to have to face, but in his heart, he knew it was something Flern might be able to handle on her own. He knew Flern had no business going up against a Titan, and he marveled at the revelation of how he was one person through time and yet many different people. Each life he lived not only had a different skill set and different abilities, they also had different personalities, and in some cases, they were very different. It might all still be just him, but the differences could be striking. Being male or female of course was the obvious one, but upbringing and culture were massive. In different places and times throughout history, he, or she saw and responded to the world in startlingly different ways. God, he hoped he was never content to be part of someone’s harem.

With that strange thought, he glanced back at Kined. He genuinely liked Kined, and he wondered if the reverse of what Kined said might also be true. He was not sure he could dislike, much less hate Kined as long as Flern felt the way she felt about the young man. Then again, he did not know exactly how Flern felt since she remained out of touch. That disturbed him. Maybe he still just vibrated the feelings she felt before they double traded. He supposed she might change her mind, given the chance, only he could not imagine a way she might have that chance. There had to be some way they could double trade back, but he could not imagine it, and none of his other lifetimes knew how either—at least the lives he could currently touch.

The night crept up on them and they almost stopped too late in the day. Riah found a roe deer that she said practically got handed to her. “The spirit of this forest, old Firblog was being kind, and I thanked him,” she said.

“Firblog?” Fritt asked. He still tried to fit into the group, though he told Vilder he felt a bit like a leftover.

Riah nodded as she swallowed her bit of liver and spoke. “These are dwarf woods, the woods of Movan Mountain. They run up to the Pert and the river bridge we came over. The elf woods of Miroven are the woods of Lord Oakvein. This side of the Pert belongs to Firblog. His woods rise up to the plateau itself and cover all the land between the Pert and Sware Rivers. Of course, the humans call the whole thing the Brugh, like they can’t see one side from the other.”

“You are right about these being dwarf woods,” a voice came out of the dark and startled everyone. “It makes me wonder why a young elf maid and these humans might be traipsing through my woods.”

“Firblog?” Vinnu asked.

Wlvn shook his head. “Show yourself,” he said, and just like his dwarfs, he smelled them all around. A very short looking creature stepped into the light. He might have looked like a man but for being just four feet tall, and he might have looked like an elf except his pointed ears folded down, his nose looked too bulbous, and he had far too much hair on his face. “Balken.” Wlvn named the creature but said no more as he waited for the dwarf chief to speak.

Balken looked around the circle of faces before he made his pronouncement. “You appear to be missing one. A girl with red hair, I believe.”

Wlvn nodded. “He is looking for Flern, as I suspected. I can feel the enchantment, can you?” He spoke to the others but looked at Kined and Riah. Riah shook her head. Kined did not seem sure. Wlvn spoke up, loud. “Put down your arrows and come into the firelight so we can see you all. Now. And stay by the fire until I give you leave.” Balken stared at Wlvn, and wonder crossed his face. Wlvn stared back and said one more thing while they waited. “You are free from your enchantment.” He did not speak it loudly, or wave his hand, or flash a wand, or anything associated with magic, but both Riah, and in a lesser way Kined felt a power beyond calculating. The only way to describe it would be to say this was not a derived power like magic, but a source power, the kind of power from which all other magic is derived.

Balken responded by rolling up his eyes and collapsing.

“Hey!” More than one incoming dwarfs reacted, but Wlvn reassured them. “Your chief is fine. Just come here so we can see you.” There were eleven so Balken made it an even dozen. These others were all clearly dwarfs.  Their ears were more normal, but their noses were extra large. The tallest stood a bit less than four feet tall, and their stocky builds and long beards completed the look.

Wlvn knew exactly who he was looking at, by name and family history if he cared to look. He found one who stood shorter than most, barely topping three feet, but who had an uncanny nose. He could track and find about anything with that nose, and the dwarf only hesitated a second when Wlvn said, “Come here Bricklebrains.”

“L-lord?” Bricklebrains certainly smelled something.

“The rest of you are free of the enchantment.” Wlvn waved his arm that time, and all of the dwarfs collapsed even as Balken got up, rubbing the back of his neck.

“What hit me?” The dwarf chief asked. No one answered because they were too busy watching.

“Can you smell the enchantment?” Wlvn asked Bricklebrains.

“Y-yes,” Bricklebrains stuttered as he whipped off his hat and worried it in his stubby fingered hands. He looked frightened, and Wlvn responded to that. “Don’t be afraid.” He smiled for the dwarf.

“Your Lordship, yes. I smell it, but I can’t do nothing about it. I want to kill the red headed girl and I can’t help it. Please, I don’t want to kill anybody.”

“The Wicca?” Pinn asked. She and Vilder were beginning to get it. This was not all about a Jaccar army.

Wlvn nodded but kept his attention on Bricklebrains. “Be free of the enchantment,” he said softly. “But be able to still smell it on others.”

Bricklebrains stumbled. Riah and Kined caught him, and he turned his head farther than any human could and said, “Thanks other Lord,” to Kined and, “Creepers, I got elf cooties,” to Riah.

“Balken.” Wlvn spoke to the dwarf chief. “Tell your father I am sorry our path does not take us to Movan Mountain, but I hope when we return he will send any who are willing to volunteer for the fight against the Jaccar. I am going to borrow Bricklebrains for a while, but I plan to return him in one piece.”

“Good to know,” Bricklebrains whispered quietly to Kined who started practicing his elf grin.

Balken meanwhile stared at Riah. “So Lord, you are traveling freely with the one who stole my mother’s name?”

Riah reacted. “My mother and yours were best friends.”

“So I heard,” Balken said, but clearly, he did not appear pleased with Riah being named Moriah. “I didn’t recognize you at first. You have grown.”

“You haven’t,” Riah shot back.

“Thank you,” Balken responded, much to the surprise of the others, but then Wlvn spoke up.

“I have given Moriah the name Riah for this journey, and you must remember she is innocent. She was given her name as you were given yours. She had no say over what her name would be.”

Balken put his hand to his beard and stroked it. He had not looked at it in that way. “The Lady Laurel and I may speak one day.”

“And it better be a nice talk,” Wlvn said, sternly. “Meanwhile, please take yourself and your fellow warriors home.”

One of the dwarfs spoke up. “Can’t we stay for a bit?”

“There is too much deer for this group,” another interjected.

“We could like help them fix it proper.”

“And build this pitiful fire into a real fire.”

Wlvn looked around at the others and saw no serious objection. “They are immune to fairy food and no tricks or stealing but treat these like your friends and I have no objection.”

Balken nodded slowly before he sent his people here and there to gather wood and food for a real feast. Then they partied, and Wlvn eventually had to sneak off to get some sleep. That was about the time the humans realized that two of these dwarfs were women.



With Bricklebrains along to sniff out any enchantment, they visit a village beneath the mountain pass and find a couple of key players swayed by the distant Wicca. Until Monday, Happy Reading


Reflections Flern-7 part 3 of 3

In the morning, Wlvn rode out front with Riah close beside him. He needed Riah to show the way, but he also wanted to keep a close eye on her. The more he learned about his many lives throughout time, the more he learned that prolonged interactions between humans and his little ones were not recommended.

Vilder and Pinn rode behind and stayed very quiet the whole day. They only passed occasional whispers between them, and while Wlvn knew full well Riah listened in with those good elf ears, he refused to hear what he assumed was private. Meanwhile, Thrud and Vinnu became very talkative and animated the whole day. It had to do with the terrain, the weather, men and women, husbands, babies, and whatever else came to mind. Tiren and Gunder came next and said nothing, being content to let their women do all the talking. Wlvn only hoped that Kined and Fritt were paying attention at the rear of the column. He felt a little concerned that neither Kined nor Fritt had yet expressed their feelings about Flern’s disappearance and his arrival in her place, but he could not worry about that just yet. It would happen.

In the meanwhile, Wlvn instinctively kept his ears open for the sound of a baby cry, a sound seldom, if ever heard when the sun came up bright. They were night creatures after all. Of course, he knew he had fallen into another time altogether and he had no reason to suppose the Wicca would follow Loki’s pattern. He did not imagine the woman, powerful as she might be, would even have access to night creatures. It would take a god to bring them from their world of origin, wherever that might be. Still, he listened all the same, and the more so as the sun began to set.

He called for an early camp and let Riah practice her hunting skills while the couples built a fine fire. Wlvn sat and occasionally stared at Kined and Fritt. He did not know what to tell them. He knew that Flern started seriously falling for Kined, if not already fallen, and he got the impression the feelings were mutual, poor Fritt. Sadly, there seemed absolutely nothing he could do about it but stare at them now and then and sigh. Things generally stayed calm and quiet in the camp until he heard a voice instruct Tiren.

“Please take only the fallen and dead branches, if you don’t mind.”

He heard Fritt fall over. He imagined Tiren fainted as well. He heard Gunder shout and Vinnu scream, and he sighed and got to his feet. He found a tree-man, a dryad some eight feet tall, well back from them all, and posing no threat to anyone. In the perfect timing that the little ones show now and then, Riah came into the camp at that very moment, a roe deer slung over her shoulders.

“Hello, Lord Oakvein,” Riah said. “An honor to see you again.”

“My pleasure, young daughter of Laurel the Wise.” Lord Oakvein smiled at the elf as Riah walked to a small clearing downwind from the camp where she could butcher the deer for their supper. “You are not the young woman I expected,” Lord Oakvein turned his eyes on Wlvn. “But unless my old memory is failing me, I would say you look exactly like her in a masculine sort of way. Besides, I recognize the sword.” Lord Oakvein lifted the ivy that hung like a vest around his shoulders and showed a scar in his right side. He continued to smile and appeared to consider the scar something like a badge of honor.

Wlvn returned the dryad’s smile and invited him in. “Come to the fire, though not too close, of course. Fritt, get up. Kined, help Tiren. Gunder, why don’t you go help Riah butcher the deer. Ladies, I believe the water is boiling to make the elf bread. Vilder and Pinn, you might want to stick with me. I imagine this good gentleman has some news for us.”

“Not entirely good news, I’m afraid.” Lord Oakvein shook his head as he stepped up to walk beside Wlvn.

They passed pleasantries for a time, until the deer got cooked. Strips of meat started being smoked to take on the road. The bread also got made and some tubers, not unlike potatoes that Lord Oakvein pointed out. They cooked quickly. By then, the company had become comfortable with the dryad’s presence and found him to be a kind and caring soul. But by then, it had also become dark in the woods, and the travelers were inclined to keep close to the light of the fire.

Finally, Lord Oakvein told something of himself. “I am the spirit of the forest,” he said. “I feed the birds and animals that live in my place, and I know that they, in turn, feed others. Even those that die of age feed my roots and help me reach for the light.” He paused to nod at Riah. “The elves of Miroven take the dead and fallen wood. They also cut the trees I mark, the diseased, broken, and stunted ones.”

“Does that hurt?” Vinnu interrupted with the question.

“Like a haircut,” Wlvn responded. “Go on.”

“The elves do me much good when the fires come.” Lord Oakvein took a breath. “But the men by the rivers have no restraints. They take what they will and cut down what they would have. I am the one who is restrained from interfering, but then I have seen the homes and wagons and great things they have done with my wood. I am not unhappy that they nibble at my edges.”

“Good to know,” Vilder said, and he explained when the others looked at him. “We have cut many trees from the forest around our home, but I never thought of it as cutting into someone who was alive.”

Lord Oakvein smiled again for the young man. “All of creation is alive in one form or another. It would be very sad if men began to think that all the world was dead and empty.”



After a visit with the Dryad, Wlvn and Flern’s friends follow their elf guide into dwarf territory. And Kined proposes to Flern, which is strange.  Too bad Flern is not there… Until Monday, Happy Reading.


Reflections Flern-7 part 2 of 3

Flern rested in her own time and place in history but she sat up when the girls called. She got to her feet when she heard the noise of horses in the camp. “They are here,” old Gallred stuck his head in the door, but Flern already started on her way.

Laurel came first to the top of the rise on her elf-steed, one more capable than any the humans rode, and Flern’s mare followed dutifully behind. Kined and Fat Fritt came next, their jaws dropped as they pointed out amazing things about this world where the elf had taken them. The couples came last, Pinn beside Vilder, Vinnu beside Gunder and Thrud beside Tiren who brought up the rear.

Flern walked up as they dismounted. She introduced Gallred, the gray-haired elder elf before she gave her little speech. “I imagine Laurel explained. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I was here a day before I realized I can’t do this without you. Anyway, you all volunteered, and it is your village as much as mine. It was not fair to leave you behind. I understand that none of us may survive this journey, and that includes me.” She stopped because she started crying and could not say more.

 Pinn, the first to reach her, hugged her. Vinnu and Thrud were not far behind. The boys stood back and let the girls commiserate, but Laurel stepped up, spoke when she could.  “There, you see?” She added her own hug to the party. Flern simply wiped her eyes and nodded while Vilder spoke up.

“Trell has gone with Arania and the travelers. Tird has stayed with Vincas, and they will be married soon, I think. Elluin and Drud have also stayed in the village. I feel for her as much as any of us, but Drud has said he wants to do right and maybe make up for Bunder and their years of being ox droppings.”

“Vilder!” Pinn objected.

Vilder frowned before he grinned. “Okay, their years of being bad. But as you can see, the rest of us are here. You were the one who wanted to fetch the bronze all along. Maybe it would have helped if we went sooner, and maybe not. I was not sure when we escaped if we might all just end up settling somewhere. I thought the Jaccar could not be beaten. You showed us they can. You showed the village and the travelers that the Jaccar are not invincible. Now I feel we have a real chance to save our village and all of our families and friends. But we have to finish the journey together or die trying.” He paused and looked around at every face. “We understand the risks and I think now we understand why the Jaccar want to stop you, especially. We talked about that. We need to keep you alive to finish the journey because you are the best chance we have to set our people free.” Vilder stopped and looked again at everyone. His face asked if he said that right and if anyone had anything to add.

“I—” Kined started to speak but stopped when Flern turned to walk toward him. She wiped her nose and eyes on the sleeve of her dress as she walked up and gave him a hug, a quick thing before she turned away, but it felt important, or at least she felt it was.

“Got anything to eat around here?” Fritt broke the tension with the question and old Gallred stepped up.

“Of course, young human. Leave your horses to us and come and refresh yourselves. We have non-enchanted food specially prepared, just for you.”

Flern looked at the smiling elf. “It’s all right. I have already decided they won’t be enchanted by the food so feed them what you will.” She returned his smile.

That afternoon, Flern took the girls to the small pool in the woods. It appeared to be just a bit of crystal-clear water, but it had been surrounded by a soft lawn and plenty of flowers that grew to make the whole area smell lovely.  Laurel also accompanied them, but she kept back and kept her thoughts to herself.

“This is called the pool of reflection,” Flern explained with a look at Laurel who nodded. “The elves tell me that sometimes, instead of your own image, it can reflect what is most pressing on your mind and heart.”

“So, what?” Vinnu asked. “It will show me what I really want?”

“Not what you want, necessarily.” Flern started to explain better.

“Oh, go ahead,” Thrud interrupted. “If it is what you want, you will probably only see yourself.”

“Thrud!” Flern and Pinn objected, and Pinn pushed ahead to the pool. She looked, and at first, she only saw herself. The others watched, but from an angle so as not to disturb the image. After a moment, the water began to swirl, or rather the picture began to swirl. The water stayed as still and calm as ever. Slowly, a different picture formed. It remained Pinn, but she sat to the side, smiling, and nursing a baby. Pinn quickly backed away.

“Pinn,” Vinnu touched her friend on the hand. “I never knew.

“Who would have thought it?” Thrud spoke up.

“I never would have guessed,” Flern agreed, and Pinn turned a little red for one of the few times in her life. She moved Flern’s hand toward the pool.

“So, let’s see you,” she said.

Flern lifted her eyebrows, shook her head, and tried to back away, but the others would not let her. The more she said, “No, no, guys. Please, not me,” the more the others insisted until she finally gave in. She got in position, and looked and saw herself, but another picture came into focus quickly—the picture of a young man.

“Oh, where did you find him?” Thrud quickly asked. Pinn looked a little closer.

“Why, he looks just like you,” Pinn said.

“Who is it?” Vinnu asked.

Flern mouthed the word carefully. “Wlvn.” She saw Wlvn mouth a word in return, and she heard that word clearly in her head. “Flern.” Then their eyes met and Flern became terribly dizzy. She fell back, and after a moment, Wlvn sat up.

Wlvn smiled for Pinn, Thrud and Vinnu each in turn. He quickly checked the pool, but all he saw was his own reflection. He looked again at the girls and then up at the Lady elf who stood quietly by a tree. “Laurel.” He named her. “I see you are all grown up, and may I add, you are lovely.”

“My Lord,” Laurel came close. “You did that, or rather Flern did that despite knowing what was going to happen. Why?”

“I didn’t know what was going to happen. Flern did not know. We are partners in time as well as being male and female reflections of each other, you see. I am experiencing Flern and myself at the same time, more or less. Why?”

“Because you have double traded, as you called it. And as I understand it you are stuck now living Flern’s life and she is stuck living yours.”

“That can’t be good.” Wlvn reached out for Flern with his mind, but for the first time in years she was not there.

“I don’t understand,” Vinnu said.

“She is taking up not following things where Elluin left off,” Thrud said. Pinn elbowed Thrud but otherwise stayed exceptionally quiet.

“I assume I won’t find her again in the pool.” Wlvn spoke to Laurel.

“No Lord,” Laurel admitted, and then she appeared to think very hard before she spoke again. “When I was young and Flern appeared in your world I had a vision. In it, I saw you continuing her quest while she continued yours. Whether or not you find a way to straighten out your lives, I cannot say. But what you do is up to you. It is always up to you.”

“You will come with us?” Wlvn asked and Pinn, Vinnu and Thrud all looked at the elf. They had not considered that possibility, but they did not seem to object to the idea of bringing along a little magical help, as they saw it.

“I dare not. I rode with Flern, and I know the outcome of those days. I may speak of things out of turn which may change things in the future.” Wlvn looked disappointed, but he understood. “But there is one, if you wish.” Laurel let out a sound like the whip-o-will at sundown. It echoed through the woods, and it did not take long before they all heard an answer.

“Sounds like a girl,” Thrud said, and in only a moment, a girl ran up much faster than human legs could run. She looked young, maybe fourteen or fifteen, but she was not dressed in a dress like Laurel and the girls. Laurel, in fact, looked majestic to Wlvn’s ancient eyes, but this girl had more of the Peter Pan look about her, being in shorts, leggings and an alpine-type hat. She held a bow in her hand like it was her best friend.

“Is it done?” the girl asked, breathless.

Laurel nodded and introduced Wlvn and the girls and then introduced her daughter, “Moriah. She is not interested in the past and thinks she is an Amazon.” Moriah gave her mother a dirty look.

Thrud and Vinnu stood and said that they were glad to meet the girl, and happy to have someone on the journey who knew where she was going. Pinn looked at Wlvn, and so did Moriah. Wlvn spoke slowly as he framed his thoughts into words.

“After myself you must listen to Pinn and follow her instructions. Then you must listen to Vilder who is in charge of the boys and do what he says after Pinn. Is this clear?”

Moriah wrinkled her nose and looked at her mother who only smiled. “He is worse than you.”

“And another thing. I knew Moriah, the one I am sure you were named after.” Wlvn looked at Laurel who nodded. “I think we need to call you Riah instead. I get so easily confused.”

Pinn interrupted. “But Wolven, won’t you be in charge?”

Wlvn lifted his eyebrows and shook his head and the young women all gasped. It was what Flern always did. “I am an accidental traveler,” he said. “My chief job is to find a way to trade back so Flern can live her own life. Barring that, I have to figure out some way to overcome the Wicca.”

“The what?” Vinnu asked.

“She is the one in charge of the Jaccar. They only do her bidding.”

“And her magic is far stronger than my own,” Laurel said. “No little spirit can resist her power. We are safe here, but only because there are many of us.”

Wlvn nodded like he understood. “It must be in her blood,” he said, and Laurel agreed, though she could not imagine who the Wicca’s mother or father might be.

Wlvn shook off his thoughts and turned to Riah. “Well?” He asked, and it sounded a bit sharp. Riah jumped.

“Yes, Lord. I will do this.”

“Good.” Wlvn stood. “I need to introduce myself to the men, if a certain elf will accompany me.” Laurel just smiled broadly and stepped up to take his arm.

He smiled for her and shot the words over his shoulder. “We leave in the morning.”