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Badly shaken

Out of the corner of her eye, Brenzel noticed Derek coming up beside her, recovered from the voices inside his head, silent and menacing. She put her palm flat and down, waving him back. She was sure that if he still had his Colt pistols on his chest, Komae would have been shot by now. Komae eyed him, but didn’t say anything.

Breaking the building tension, Brenzel said, “We will come with you, but allow us to gather some of our things.”

Komae nodded, moving over to the opposite side of the road, crouching down on her haunches, waiting.

Turning, finding Fallon, who was still far back on the road, Brenzel called to her, “Are you alright, Hon? Come on, it will be okay.”

Still badly shaken, Fallon nodded, but walked toward Brenzel and Derek. “It was like thousands of people inside my head, all yelling at me at once.”

Derek chimed in, “Damndest thing I’s ever felt. I wish I could give the insides of mys head a washin’. Who’s that woman, Miss Brenzel, I’s don’t like her.”

It’s the situation we’ve got

Glancing over to where Komae still crouched, waiting, Brenzel said, “I think she’s Halan, a native of these parts. She wants us to go with her.”

“I’s don’ts like it Miss Brenzel. I’s don’t like it one bit. She uppity, and I’s pretty sure she’s hearing everything we say or thinks.”

“Yes, I think Derek’s right,” Fallon agreed, “I feel likes she’s watching me…from inside.” She gave a little involuntary shiver.

Brenzel felt it, too, like the elf lady was still walking around inside her own head, a stranger in her house, handling personal things, looking through her closest, even going through underwear in her dresser drawers. It gave her the shivers, too.

“Look, guys, it’s the situation we’ve got. Alethea told me I would meet someone named Fey in the forest, and right now Komae is the only connection we have to this place. I know you’re upset, but I feel things will be alright.”

Derek nodded. Fallon said nothing, standing still, arms folded tightly. Brenzel looked at her and then at Derek, as he moved toward Fallon, reassuring her. “Darlin, it’s gonna be’s okay.”

“Grab your saddle bags and some water, lets get going,” Brenzel said.

Fey feels your pain

Since learning how old the people in Elysia were, Brenzel never knew what to make of these ancient people, like the Halans. Depending on their race, some were literally tens of thousands of years old, but they never looked over thirty. On one hand, they appeared and often acted just like someone in their mid twenties, but behind it all, was something vastly different, incredibly old, having experiences that spanned millennia.

“Okay, we’re ready,” Brenzel said as they walked toward Komae. “How far is it?”

Komae stood and looked at Brenzel. “Not far.” Then coming closer and looking deep into her eyes, she put her right hand on Brenzel’s heart, causing her to stiffen a bit. “I feel your pain, I know you are good. I am sorry I was rough with your machines, I assumed you were Haders. My apologies. Fey will respect your mind’s privacy.” Bowing her head, she said, “Forgive us, we are not used to thinking alone.”

Komae’s apology softened Brenzel’s heart, for she felt her genuine sincerity. “Let’s be friends, Komae, I respect you and your people, we have much to learn from you. I am ready to do what you feel is best.”

Smiling, Komae nodded, then added, “No need to bring food, it will be provided, and there are plenty of mountain streams along the path.”

“Alright,” and putting down the water skins, Brenzel told the others to do the same, although Derek brought a small one, anyway.

Suspension bridge

Immediately Komae headed into the forest as sure of where she was going as if she was following a marked trail, yet there was none. At times she would stop, put her hand on a tree, or stone outcropping, as if communicating in some way.

****As they walked, Fallon caught up to Brenzel from behind her. “Brenzel, if we are in such a different place, why does this woman speak our language?”

Brenzel paused for a moment. She was used to the power the seraph hunter hats had to help her understand and speak the language of the people around her, she had experienced that several times. But this time, it didn’t seem like that was what was happening. Fallon was right; the crazy elf lady was speaking English to them – both in their minds and out loud. “I. . . .I’m not really sure,” she finally answered. “Maybe it has something to do with their ability to read our minds.”

Fallon looked at her with questioning eyes, then shrugged fell back beside Derek.***

Gradually they climbed higher and higher, walking alongside narrow ledges with great rushing streams down below, then over a rope suspension bridge, long and narrow, which spanned a river falling from the mountains beyond.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Fallon said as they approached. “I’m not going over that.”

Truthfully, Brenzel thought the same thing, just not out loud.

Without looking back, Komae started across the bridge.

Derek, looking up and down the ravine, said, “I’ll go. If’n it holds me, it’ll hold you.” Putting his big hands on the rope, gingerly he stepped out on the slate stone supported by the weave, pressing down on the bridge, putting more and more of his weight on it. Then he walked further, looking down at the rushing water hundreds of feet below. Komae stood on the opposite side, studying the big man’s hesitant progress. Soon, confident of it’s soundness, Derek walked towards the middle, bouncing a bit, holding on tight. Turning around, he said, “I’s okay!”

Later, at one point, Komae seemed to sense that she was going too fast, for she slowed greatly, allowing Brenzel and the others to catch up and catch their breath.

Unexpected table

Several hours later, near the first sunset, they came to a clearing where tables and chairs were set with food and drink. As if it were commonplace or natural, Komae invited them to sit and eat. There were fruits and bread and other foods, somewhat like those Brenzel had eaten in Elysia, but less ornate, simpler dishes.

The bread and butter, something with honey, was delicious. Derek tasted what seemed to be some sort of banana while Fallon sampled some pudding-like dish, the color of light green.

“Thank you, Komae, and your friends, too.” Brenzel said with a smile. “The village must be near.”

***(how do they bake bread if they don’t make fires? Maybe coals in a stone oven?)*** Komae, cutting a slice of fresh bread said, “No, we will not reach there until tomorrow at noon at the very soonest.”

“Oh. Then someone lives here?” Brenzel inquired, trying to figure out how their forest feast came to be.

Seeming to sense Brenzel’s confusion, but also seeming to respect her thoughts, Komae said, “I spoke to some of my people before we left together this morning and asked that food and drink be provided. They came, set up, and have already left. I will introduce you to them after we arrive and you have rested.”

Brenzel felt the soft yeasty flavor of the bread as she chewed, remember Darren and his bread. Darren’s was better, but just slightly.

Komae rose and walked over to Derek and Fallon, pointing out dishes and telling them their names. She was very friendly and casual, telling Fallon she loved her hair and asking if Derek was Zulu. Derek answered, “I’s from the south, Georgia.”

Nodding, Komae said, “Yes, I have heard that on Eden there are different races.” Gone was the fierce forest warden that challenged them, replaced by a gracious and attentive host. The change was remarkable, but somewhat disturbing in a faint way Brenzel couldn’t quite pinpoint.

The white wolf

Feeling full and satisfied, Brenzel leaned back in her chair, breathing the fresh air deeply. As she looked around the forest, in the bushes by one of the trees she spied the eyes of a white animal. She looked closer and saw a big white dog staring back at her. A bit alarmed, she touched Komae’s sleeve then pointed to the animal. “What’s that?”

Komae looked in the direction she was pointing and smiled. “Come Shala, it’s alright,” she said. The big dog, twice the size of any canine Bren had seen, trotted over and nuzzled Brenzel.

Upon seeing it, Derek stood and exclaimed, “That’s a wolf!

Komae said, “Don’t fear, she’s a friend. She’s Fey’s friend. She came to greet you. Come Derek, say hi, she won’t harm you.”

The big man hesitated and glanced at the knife on the table, but got up and came around to where Brenzel sat, kneeling, looking in the big canine’s eyes for a moment, extending his hand slowly, which Shala tentatively licked.


Brenzel noted that Derek’s face seemed to relax, stress draining from around his eyes as he, for one of the few times Bren had ever noticed, smiled.

“Ah,” Derek said, “You’s just a big puppy,” and embraced the giant animal as she moved forward.

Fallon, seeing the spectacle, got up, too, and walked toward Shala, petting her and smiling also. Brenzel sat for a moment looking at the scene, sensing there was more to the dog than there appeared. Finally it clicked in her imagination. Though her mind couldn’t quite grasp it she was sure of it. Fey was already there.

The Voice by Celtic Women