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I don’t remember these flowers here before, Brenzel noted, the forest floor a veritable carpet of white. To her side, she could see Derek and Fallon holding hands walking among the others. Though she listened, she heard no mind talking. It was as if everyone wanted to be alone with their own thoughts for a while.

Looking down, Brenzel found herself trying not to walk on the flowers that graced the forest floor. It felt good to care about something so small and fragile. It’s always different, she mused, thinking back over the last few days; the Fey, then the stress of Derek and Fallon running off, then meeting Fey herself.

Just ahead she recognized the outcrop of rock that told her she was near where Komae and her friend were waiting. Komae, she knew, would be surprised.

Stepping sideways, her feet narrowly missed a particularly dense clump of white petals. She remembered folding cloths in the bunker during the war and saying to Doc, “I don’t care about ants.” She cringed inside a little. Her mentor had been patiently explaining the greater world that lay outside her experience, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She realized what a kindness it had been for Doc to be gentle with her, as she avoided another single flower.

There is time!

The world was much different than she thought, and that seemed alright today as she led the Fey who followed. In a flash of insight, it became very real that Iris may not be lost to her after all, it was only a matter of convincing the right people to take her to her. In fact…in fact…There is time! I can time travel! I’m even in another realm now! Ugh! She pulled her mind out of it’s constraints like removing her foot from a shoe that was too tight.

Suddenly, a door of slight possibility opened up in her mind, one she hardly dared to peek through, revealing a glimmer of hope. I’m friends with the Timekeeper Extraordinaire! What if….oh my God, what if I went back to the day when I left Iris at the abbey? But how would I feed her? she wondered, knowing she didn’t have any milk. I could at least look in on her, to see she was okay, well taken care of. A thrill of excitement ran through her at the possibilities…and hope! He promised, after all, and she’d been doing all he wanted. . .well, most of what he wanted. But still… after Fey at least.

In her heart and soul, Brenzel felt a lightness of being, breathing in deeply and then out, letting go of some of the pain she’d been carrying. All was not lost, holding her baby wasn’t impossible after all. She realized that part of her heartache was thinking that there was no hope, but that wasn’t true…there was hope, the world wasn’t as limited as she’d assumed. Brenzel realized, after holding a fairy my arms, anything’s possible.

I’m proud of you, Komae

Coming upon a camp, Bren smiled, seeing how Komae’s mouth dropped and eyes grew wide. The Hadite woman, obviously scared, backed away as their group approached. Bren went over to Derek and asked him to let the Fey know they’d bed down here for the night and rest until the morning.

Walking up to Komae, Brenzel asked, “How are you and you friend doing?’

“How did you do that?” Komae said, dumbfounded as she looked at the group behind the tall blond in her Seraph Hunter clothes.

“I talked with Fey.”

“And she just let them go?”

“Well, yes. I think she just felt sad and lonely.”

Seeing it in Komae’s eyes, Brenzel said with mock exasperation, “Don’t you dare bow to me.”

Then she quickly changed the subject. “How’s your friend?” Noticing the Hadite woman peering out from behind a tree, she asked, “She okay?” Then she called to the woman. “It’s okay! You can come out! No one is going to hurt you, I promise.” The woman slowly emerged from behind the tree and walked to a small campfire, bending down to stir it.

Komae looked over at the crouching lady, tending the fire. Sighing, she said, “I told her I didn’t want the fire, but then she got very afraid of the dark, so I let her keep it going. I think she’s hardly slept since you left.”

Brenzel looked at Komae and smiled. “I’m proud of you.”

A faint flicker of a smile came to the Forest Warden’s eyes.

Brenzel took in the large number of people around her. “Got anything to eat here?”


Brenzel woke the next morning with a start, noticing the Hadite lady sleeping so close she could feel her breath on her cheek. Moving away, just a little, she looked at the sleeping woman. As Komae had said, she did smell, but not as bad as the Halan insisted. She looked peaceful, eyes shut, black hair partially covering her face. Her face had a scar above her right cheek. It looked odd, and Brenzel wondered why. Then it dawned on her that it was the first imperfection she’d seen on anyone since she’d come to Hala.

The lady stirred, opening her brown eyes.

“Good morning,” Brenzel said.

Looking instantly down, the woman said, “I’m sorry,” starting to get up.

Putting her arm out and hand on her shoulder, Brenzel said, “Please, it’s alright, you don’t have to get up yet.”

“I’m sorry, I just felt unsafe with all mind talkers around, I shouldn’t have presumed.”

“What’s your name?”

Refusing to meet Brenzel’s eyes, the woman said, after a moment, “Meha.”

“That’s a pretty name. Does it mean something?”

Keeping her eyes downcast, she said, “In my language it means sky water.”

Brenzel smiled, thinking, rain.

Meha said, “I bring you water…”, then, begging her leave, she got up and left.

Rolling over, Brenzel relaxed into the thick moss on the forest floor underneath her. Mmmm. What a comfortable bed.


She dozed for a short time, then suddenly felt something strongly and sat up, looking around, seeing others were stirring, too. A thought came to her – no not a thought, a knowing. Alethea will meet us later today. It was a strange feeling, like it was already a fact, and although it just came to her, it felt as certain as a memory, like it had already happened.

Thinking back to how Komae reacted to who she really was, Brenzel wondered if she should warn her to tell the others about meeting Alethea.

Sitting up, a thought occurred to her, Maybe I can ask Alethea to talk to Traveler about Iris…She laid back down, hands behind her head, smiling as she watched the sky between the trees growing brighter orange beneath the second sun’s rising.

End of the line by Traveling Wilburys – cover by Dominque Cotten