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Thinking back to Sturgis

The rumble of the twin engines, muffled by the modifications her friends in the Realm of Omey made, felt comforting as Brenzel glided over the smooth Halan road. Trees, some young, some ancient, lined the way, a visible reminder of the Halan’s dream Alethea had explained to her, the dream to replant their planet; to make it lush again.

Black, cushioned leather seat between her legs, she liked feeling the power as they wound up into the mountain forest. Goggles firmly on her face, wind kissing her cheeks, the feel of the road beneath her, it all sat well, felt right.

As she rode, Brenzel thought back to how her assignment in Sturgis had been a revelation. An alien world, just as much as the Halan ground rolling beneath her now, peopled with others – she found out – just like her. Remembering her assignment to save Vic, being dropped into a small room with a white chair, in a strange land called South Dakota, she had opened the door, startling a tall brunette in her underclothes who had jumped, then said, “Howdy darlin!” Sizing up Brenzel, the strange woman had exclaimed, “Ain’t you a peach! Where you from?”

Trying to get her bearings, Brenzel had replied, “Ah…Britain.”

“Oh, ain’t that something! All the way from England to here. You with your old man?”

“My wh?. . . .no, just myself,” Brenzel had said, noting the sing song quality of the woman’s voice. She glanced around the room and had caught her own reflection in the large mirror, which was clad in black leather and some type of leather cap, pig tails, and dark lip rouge.”

Smiling broadly, the other woman had said, “Well, you’re with someone now.” Pointing to a patch on her arm she said, “Come along, I have got to show you off to my girls.”

Brenzel gets a ride

After spending some time in Sturgis, watching Vic make his choice for good – and avoiding murder by the gang – he’d given his motorcycle to her as a present, saying, “You like to ride, and I don’t need this anymore. It’s yours.”

She remembered her astonishment, that she didn’t know what to say, but she had hugged him tightly. “Thanks Vic, I’m so proud of you.”

Later, it took some real convincing, well more like whining, to get Traveler to let her keep it. However, his agreement was easy compared to Dove’s. When she had shown up in Dove’s sanctuary with it, you’d have thought Brenzel had brought home a pet rat. The big Blue Seraph didn’t like it at all, saying it was too noisy and smelly, making her keep it down the city. She wouldn’t even let her ride it in Elysia where Brenzel had been staying nowadays between Hunter assignments. However, every time she could, Brenzel begged a blue feather and translated to the open road, riding the long, grey ribbon that ran through 20th century America called Route 66. She loved stopping at roadside diners, who served an American dish something like English chips with a thick red sauce called ketchup. Mmm…Ketchup. It felt good that Dove indulged her; made her feel special.

It’s a learn as you go thing

Coming back to the present ride, Brenzel glanced in her mirror, seeing that Derek kept up just fine. Fallon looked hunched down in the side car, gloved hands holding tight. He doesn’t talk much, but he’s a good man, Brenzel thought. Nearly twice his companion’s size, Derek was nothing but a big puppy around Fallon, making sure she was always comfortable and fed.

Fallon was inquisitive, and the first two nights they spent after translating to the ridge in Hala, she talked with Brenzel long into the evening as they got to know one another. Derek had spent both evenings just layed out, with his hat tipped over his face, and was out right after they ate.

Fallon had lots of questions of how they had ended up on Hala, not all of which Brenzel could answer completely. “If we’re not on earth? Well, where are we?” the young woman had asked, incredulous.

“A place called Hala, see the sky?” Brenzel pointed. “Its got that orange tint all the time. That’s because of the Orange Seraph named Alethea, who takes care of this place.” Finally, when Fallon just sort of fell silent and Brenzel knew that she was at a loss as how to explain further, she had tried to ease her tension a bit. “Don’t worry, Fallon. Believe me, it’s just kind of a learn as you go thing.”

Today, her little gang motored gradually into the hills, winding through an endless forest on the well-maintained Halan road. Alethea said that they would have no trouble getting around in the north, for all the ancient roads were intact, but near the equator most were not in good repair. Walking or horseback would be their only means of transport unless they could find a passing sky ship. In the south, no one knew what conditions were like; that was Hader territory.

She thought it interesting that right after translating to Hala she had felt so strongly to go north, towards the forest, even though the place they were told to meet their guides was further south. She had learned to trust her gut, though, and when Alethea met her and supported her decision, she was proud of herself for learning to go with what she felt inside – just like Hatty had taught her. Alethea mentioned someone named Fey that Brenzel and her friends would meet in the forest, but she didn’t say who it was or why. Who knew what was in store for them here? Always an adventure. She smiled, loving the feeling of riding.

Who are you?

“Who are you?” A voice sounded in her mind, interrupting her thoughts. “Why are you here?” Rang even clearer. Glancing in the mirror Brenzel saw Derek holding his left ear with one hand while he drove with the other, Fallon had both hands over hers. So they hear it, too?

“What are you doing here?” Now many voices demanded, as if they had set up camp in her head and were walking around exploring. More and more, the voices intruded until she couldn’t think straight. Slowing down, Brenzel motioned with her hand and arm for Derek to pull over to the side. The mass of voices between her ears became a roaring ocean of sound, with occasional words rising above the others. Derek dismounted his bike, holding his head, then stumbled, falling to one knee. Fallon looked like she was screaming, but Bren couldn’t hear anything above the tumult inside her head. Finally, she heard one voice ring out clearly, “Stop.”

The cacophony of voices gradually receded, like a door closing. Yet the ringing in both of Brenzel’s ears remained. She looked back at Derek, who was helping Fallon out of her sidecar – she was crying. As Derek held her up, he looked at Brenzel, no…past her. Brenzel turned, then stepped back.

Forest Warden

A tall woman, long brown hair, bow drawn, arrow shaft pointed directly at Brenzel’s heart, spoke out loud. “Who are you?” Brenzel stared, finding no words. Drawing the string tighter, the woman demanded, “Who are you, why are you here?!”

Coming to herself, Brenzel managed, “I am Brenzel, Alethea sent me.”

“You lie! No one speaks with Her Majesty!”

Brenzel straightened and put her hands on her hips. “Yes, she did send me. I am Brenzel of Eden, a friend of Alethea and Dove. Now put down your weapon.” That should get her, she thought, hoping those names carried weight.

Looking behind, her she saw Fallon standing close to Derek, holding onto his arm, Derek still holding his head with one hand.

In Brenzel’s mind, the bowed woman said, Don’t toy with me, child.

Brenzel’s hand went to her forehead. “Don’t do that, get out!” She turned around, facing her mental assailant, pushing back hard with her mind as she felt energy dancing on her fingertips.

With a flicker of hesitation the woman lowered her bow, un-notching her arrow, then spoke out loud again. “But why have you come to our forest?” She turned her head, looking at Derek and Fallon, revealing her pointed ears to Bren.

“I don’t exactly know. . . .” Brenzel said, “but we come in peace, we mean you no harm.”

“Peace?!” the woman flicked her hand toward the motorcycles. “You call these infernal machines peaceful!? I thought you were Haders, I nearly killed you all.”

Looking at the elf-like woman, Brenzel scowled, “You mean these motorcycles? We just use them to move about, that’s all.”

“Why? Have you no legs?” the woman demanded.

“Because its a long way.” Brenzel stated, jaw setting hard.

Slinging her bow back across her shoulder, the irritated woman walked over to Brenzel’s motorcycle and said, “I think it’s broken.”

“No, it works fine, I keep it running really good.”

Bending down, ripping the plug wires off, the pointy-eared woman tossed them far into the trees. “No, I’m quite sure it’s broken.”

“Hey! Crazy elf lady! Don’t do that!” Brenzel’s felt her face flush as she glared at her.

“My name is Komae, I am a Forest Warden, come with me.”

“Where?” Brenzel demanded getting further annoyed by the woman’s brusk speech.

“For an uninvited, you demand much. You will come with me to the City of Fey. She will decide your fate.”

“What if I don’t want to go?”

“It’s your choice. Although, when I leave the block I have put between your minds and my people will fade. You and yours will slowly drown in the sea of voices until you go mad.” Raising her eyebrows, she shrugged slightly. “Up to you.”

Beautiful Fantasy Music – The Elves