Rabbo sat under the bush with the rain pouring down hard.
It had started to rain when he was about seven miles from home and just about half way between the two great forests. The only shelter he had been able to find was a rather small and compact bush that the sheep had not gotten to yet. Rabbo eyed the sheep who where huddled together in the middle of the meadow under a rather old looking oak tree.
The plan had been that Rabbo would set off early in the morning and head up the track in an easterly direction though the great forest and out past the settlement towards where the rolling hills that separated the next great forest where. The night before Merwyn, Athena, Merryn and he had sat talking about the reports from the local settlement that the iron people or Romans had started to march down the track that ran all the way from the great hill fort of the maiden.
Rumor had it that they had a huge siege at the fort of the maiden and the Romans had won and turned the few surviving people into captives and slaves. The locals where now worried that the iron people as they called them would move westward and do the same to them. Even the people at the hill fort of Hembury where worried and they had sent a couple of elders to confer with Merwyn.
Rabbo had sat very still while he listened to the elders and Merwyn talk about the iron people.
“They took the maiden” said one of the elders “and her people have been enslaved. What few survived”?
“That they did. But they fought against them” said the other elder. “I’ve heard told that those who did not fight were killed just the same”.
Merwyn sat thoughtfully listening to the elders.
“They do say that those of the Durotriges would not give into them” said the first elder.
“Aye Ive heard that. But the Belgae did not fight them ,in fact they welcomed them with open arms. They gathered all the elders together and told them that they had to pay tribute and those that helped would be rewarded” said the second elder. “and they did; and some I hear are starting to dress and act in the ways of the iron people”.
“That is against our laws and customs” said the first elder.
“The fact is that those who work with the iron people seem to be doing very well. Even if they are now going against our laws and customs” said the second elder.
“What we need to do is unite against the iron people and drive them out” said the first elder. “We need to get all the nations together and push these iron people back into the sea from whence they came”.
“And how will we do that” said the second elder. “We can’t even unite or agree on simple matters like what day is a holy day”.
“That is a small matter next to the very surivial of our way of life” said the first elder. “If we unite all the nations together we can and will beat those iron people”.
“Would you like a cup of wine” said Merwyn placing two wine goblets down on the table.
Both elders nodded.
“Who will lead us” said the first elder. “Not Caratacus? He is full of his own power and glory”
“Caratacus would make a great war leader for all of us” said the second elder.
Merwyn started to pour the wine into the goblet nearest the first elder as the first elder started to speak again.
“Who would follow Caratacus other than his own nation? I know as a Dumnonii I would not follow him nor would the Dobunni or the Cornovii”. The first elder turned and looked at Merwyn “You are spilling the wine. Did you not see that my goblet is full”?
“Much like your mind with your own ideas” said Merwyn looking at both elders.
The seond elder turned and looked at Merwyn.
“You are right” said the second elder. “We come to you for advice and we talk and talk and do not give you a chance to speak”.
“What are your thoughts” asked the first elder.
Merwyn turned and looked towards the corner where Rabbo had been sitting. “Come join us Rabbo” said Merwyn as he pulled a chair closer”.
* * * * *
Rabbo shivered as a rain drop dripped down on his nose. “Soon enough we will get a closer look at those um Romans” mused Rabbo to himself.
The rain was coming down hard now and crossing the meadow in gray bands of rain that showed now signs of letting up. “Did you check the weather before you left” muttered Rabbo to himself mimicking Merwyn’s voice. “You know better than to race off out without checking the weather. And what lesson have you learned from not checking the weather” continued Rabbo.
Rabbo listened hard, but other than the wind, rain and the odd sound of the sheep Rabbo heard very little. “Well I’m not going to learn much sitting under a bush, am I”?
Rabbo set off across the meadow running fast towards the great oak tree and the sheep. His logic was that if he ran fast enough he would not get as wet from the rain. But when he was less than half way between the bush and the great oak tree Rabbo knew that his idea was a waste of time as the rain had started to soak though his fur. So he turned around and started to return to his bush as some cover was better than no cover.
About half way back Rabbo heard the sound of running feet so he half turned and looked back to see a wild hare being chased by three large and hungry looking wolves. Without thinking and no fear or panic Rabbo turned towards the wolves who had not yet spotted him. Summoning up all his creativity Rabbo suddenly grew in size to that of a huge giant rabbit over twelve feet tall with blood dripping from his claws and mouth.
The wild hare just kept running and ran right past Rabbo while the wolves stopped took one look at the giant bloody rabbit and turned around and with tails tucked between their legs and ears down the wolves turned and yipping and yelping they ran away. Rabbo held his nightmare form until the wolves disappeared in a dip in the meadow. He then shrunk back down to his normal size and turned to continue his soaking wet hop to the bush.
* * * * *
On the eastern edge of the great forest eight Romans legionnaires stood looked towards the middle of the great meadow. Slowly as a group they started to huddle together muttering between themselves. “Did you see that giant creature in the middle of the plain?” asked one of the young legionnaires.
“It was giant rabbit by the looks of it” said one of the more seasoned legionnaires. “In my ten years of service I’ve seen nothing like it. The gods are strange in this land”.
The avocati walked forward held up his arms “BE SILENT”.
Once the seven other legionnaires were silent the avocati spoke calmly and slowly measuring his words as he spoke. “Whatever it was it was not bothering us. It was focused on the wolves that are running off over there” said the avocati pointing towards where the wolves could be seen running as if something horrific was still chasing them. “We are here to set up the marching camp for the rest of the legion. As long as we behave and are respectful the gods of this land they will not bother us. So lets get to work and measure out the camp’.
The legionnaires stood muttering for a moment and then picked up their tools.
“Oh one last thing” avocati said “when the others arrive I don’t want to hear talk of this giant rabbit. If I do I will have the speaker stoned. GOT THAT?”
So the legionnaires got busy measuring and laying out the lines for the matching camp yet every so often they would look around for signs of the giant rabbit.
* * * * *
Rabbo sat under the bush using his creativity to drying himself and the wild hare. “Well my friend what are we to do. The rain has eased up a little I think. But it’s getting into mid afternoon and it will take me a long while to hop back to my home”. Rabbo paused looked around and returned to drying himself and the wild hare.
“Where are you Rabbo” said Merwyn’s voice in Rabbo’s head.
“I’m out looking for these Romans” answered Rabbo telepathically.
“What? on a day like this?” asked Merwyn with an amazed tone in his voice.
“Last night you said we needed to get a good look at these Romans. So I set off early so that I could get a good look at them,” Rabbo said trying to sound smug.
“It’s raining, Rabbo. Did you not check the weather before you left” Merwyn asked totally unaware that a while before Rabbo had been mimicking his voice and pointing out how stupid Rabbo was for not checking the weather.
“I knew you were going to say that” said Rabbo with an amused tone in his telepathic voice.
“You know better than to race off out without checking the weather. And what lesson have you learned from not checking the weather” Merwyn said.
Rabbo could not help but giggle at Merwyn.
“I don’t think that’s funny at all, Rabbo. More than likely you are soaked” Merwyn said his telepathic voice taking a tone of no humor at all. “Have you succeeded on your self appointed mission?”
“Sadly no” answered Rabbo. “I go interrupted by three wolves that where chasing a wild hare. I scared the wolves off but I was so wet that I returned to a bush that I had been sitting under to keep dry”.
“How did you scare the wolves off” asked Merwyn.
“I made myself into a giant blood covered rabbit. Which made the wolves turn and tuck their tails between the legs” answered Rabbo with pride.
“Did anyone see you” asked Merwyn.
“Of coarse not” Rabbo said with total conviction in his voice.
“Are you sure of that? By my guess and how they march they should be either at the edge of the great forest or already in the downs” Merwyn said thoughtfully.
Rabbo scanned with his ears and picked up the sound of wooden shovels and metal picks digging into the ground. So he climbed up the bush until he poked his head though the top and looked around. Rabbo could not see much so he levitated himself until almost all of his body was out of the bush.
This gave Rabbo almost two extra feet of height and he could just make out the far edge of the forest and a long line of Romans coming out of the forest as well as Roman legionnaires already digging into the turf and digging ditches. Rabbo closed his eyes so that the image was imprinted in his mind and he climbed down the bush and onto the ground.
“Merwyn, it looks like they are just arriving and digging one of their camps that they dig every night” Rabbo said.
“Ok then come on back and please be careful. I don’t want you as guest of honor at a meal” Merwyn said with worry in his voice.
“I’m on my way back” said Rabbo as he came out from under the bush and headed west toward home.
* * * * *
It was almost dark when Rabbo turned down the track towards his home. The wild hare had kept up with Rabbo the whole way back. Rabbo had stopped only once on his long hard hop back and that was so that he could dry himself and the wild hare again. As Rabbo and the wild hare turned down the track to Rabbo’s home they were met by Athena who was sitting at the side of the track with an invisible umbrella over her.
Rabbo hopped over to Athena and looked her up and down.
Athena reached down and picked Rabbo up putting his paws over her should. “You better ask your friend to come alone so that it can get dry”.
“It’s a friendship of gratitude” Rabbo said. “I saved the hare’s life as it was being chased by wolves. And now the hare seems to have tagged alone for some reason I don’t understand other than it thinks I am some kind of protector?”
“Have you asked the hare?” said Athena.
“Don’t be silly the poor thing can’t speak rabbit for one thing and another I don’t think its smart enough to understand” Rabbo said briskly. “Maybe it will keep the other three hares company that inhabits our meadow”?
“It seems smart enough to understand that you protected it. Plus smart enough to know that it’s safe around me” said Athena smiling. “Anyway let’s head back to the cottage as I think the rain is falling harder”.
Athena walked down the track with Rabbo on her shoulder and the wild hare following along behind her. Once they came out from the trees the wild hare stopped looked around and moved closer to Athena and Rabbo.
Rabbo looked down at the wild hare and then struggled against Athena so that she had to put him down on the ground. Rabbo then lead the wild hare over to the barn where there was warm hay and some fresh grass that was growing just outside the barn wall. Rabbo sniffed the grass and took a couple of bites before entering the barn. The wild hare did likewise and once the hare was in the barn Rabbo showed the hare where the best hay was to curl up in.
It took Rabbo a little while to get the wild hare settled in and settled down, but once the wild hare had made itself at home in the warm hay Rabbo left and headed into the warmth of the house and its kitchen.
Sitting at the kitchen table was Merwyn and Merryn deep in conversation. “Tell me again what you saw and learnt when you where in Rome” Merwyn said.
“Dad, how long are we going to go over what I saw” Merryn said with a tired tone to her voice. “I mean how many times can I say the same thing”.
“Each time I learn a little more. Remember I’ve never been to Rome” Merwyn said. “So let’s go over what you saw once again”.
“No” Merryn said. “Not until I have eaten and had something to drink. We have been going over the facts for a while and I am hungry and thirsty”.
“It would be easier and faster if you would let me into your mind”.
“As I said earlier, no. There are things I don’t want you to see, Dad” Merryn answered kindly but very firmly.
Merwyn turned and looked down at Rabbo. “You speak to her” Merwyn said a little crossly and then stood up and walked out of the kitchen.
Merryn reached down and picked Rabbo up and placed him on the table in front of her. “He still thinks of me as a little girl” Merryn said as she started to stroke Rabbo’s ears. “I’m over fifteen hundred years old and all he sees is me when I was eight years old. If he knew that I went to some of those parties that the Romans like, Dad would get upset and be very shocked”.
“Tell me instead” Rabbo said trying hard not to roll his head at the pleasure of Merryn playing with his ear.
Merryn laughed softly.
“If it’s something I don’t think your father should know I won’t tell him” Rabbo said.
Merryn laughed again “either Dad is being very clever getting you to do his dirty work or” and again Merryn laughed.
“I need to bathe” said Merryn as she stood up and picked Rabbo up off the table.
* * * * *
It was some hours later that Rabbo sat with Merwyn talking about what Merryn had told him about what she had learn about the Romans. “Do I understand that they are very much a patriarchal society” Merwyn said more as a question than a statement.
“Very much so” said Rabbo.
“And that is what Merryn wanted to keep from me. The fact she had to shape shift into a man”?
“I don’t know” said Rabbo. “You and your quaint humanoid customs”.
Merwyn gave Rabbo a sour look and looked closer at Rabbo. “And you are holding back on what she told you?”
“I happen to agree with what she said not to tell you. Beside I have told you all that she is willing to tell you other what she asked me not to tell you” Rabbo said with a smile on his fur covered face.
“That’s a feat and a half” Merwyn said looking at Rabbo’s smile. “But even in the small details that she does not want me to know there could be key information”.
“Maybe I should talk to Merryn” said Athena who had just come into the room.
“That might be a good idea. And take this furry freak with you. His smile is upsetting”.
When Rabbo and Athena returned to Merwyn he was sitting in the same position as if he had not moved a muscle.
“Well” Merwyn said.
“I totally agree with Rabbo and Merryn. You don’t need to know the details of what she is holding back. Those details bear no weight on what you need to know”.
“So what am I going to tell the elders tomorrow when they arrive here again for council?”
“I don’t know. If I did know what you where going to say tomorrow we would not need you. Have you spoken to Bastet” asked Athena.
“Yes. But I wanted another person’s point of view on the Romans” suddenly Merwyn laughed “is that what Merryn is hiding”. Merwyn stood up looked at Athena and smiled. “I can understand why she does not want to talk about that”. With that Merwyn walked over to the cabinet in the corner and got out a clay bottle of wine and poured a glass for Rabbo, Athena and himself.
Athena sat down by the fire and looked into the fire before turning back to look at Merwyn. She patted the ground next to her for Merwyn to come and sit next to her.
Instead Merwyn walked over and sat down in the chair by the fire. For a while Athena and Rabbo sat watching the fire sipping on their wine and talking privately and telepathically.
Merwyn sat sipping on his wine deep in thought going over all the facts and details that Merryn had told him and the facts that Rabbo had told him. The main issue was not what the Romans would do but what would the local people do. The Romans always won even if they took some major losses in battle and it seemed that they learnt very well from defeat. There had only been one time that the Romans had been so defeated that they had withdrawn and that was from Germania. Somehow a war chief called Arminius had unitted his people and beaten the romans so badly that they had never returned in force. However there was still trade between Germania and the Romans.
But was that the right thing to do? Unite the celtic people and drive out the Romans. Would it be better to bow before them and take on their ways and become like them? If the celtic people unitted they could drive the romans out. But if it was not a total victory then the Romans would keep returning until they won.
The thing was,that Arminius had united his people, but in the end it cost him his life. Merwyn thought deeper and looked at the pros and cons of standing against the Romans. On one hand if the celtic nations could unit they could drive the romans out and remain as they were. But on the other hand if they welcomed the romans with open arms they might end up being enslaved or worse. There again they could profit and change and take what they needed from the romans and become better and wiser than the romans.
If he could sit in the shadows and manipulate the elders for the betterment of the celtic people then they would profit and in so doing so the genes that he, Athena, Bastet and his children had introduced into the celtic people would grow and spread out.
But if things went wrong then the Celtic people and the genes they now carried would be wiped out and everything would have been for nothing. Suddenly Merwyn chuckled softly. “If he could sit in the shadows and manipulate the elders?”
“What’s so funny?” asked Rabbo.
“Nothing” replied Merwyn.
“Nothing is something” Rabbo answered.
Merwyn stood up and stretched, his bones popping ever so quietly that only he and Rabbo heard them. “Time for me to get some sleep” Merwyn said. “You want to join me” Merwyn added has he turned and looked at Athena. Athena just smiled and stood up.
* * * * *
Rabbo woke early before dawn and headed outside to take care of his morning needs before the day started. He sniffed the morning air in the half dark and then turned to head back in. “I should check on the Romans” Rabbo mused to himself.
Rabbo hopped up into a chair by the fireplace and closed his eyes. An hour later he opened them and heard sounds of breakfast being made in the kitchen behind him.
“Your timing is nothing but perfect” said Merryn as she started to pour beaten eggs into a pan. “Mom and Merwyn should be up soon”.
Rabbo hopped down from his chair and walked over to the ramp that led up to the sink. On his way Rabbo stood up on his hind legs grabbed a cup for water and when he reached the sink he poured a cup of water to drink and clear his mouth. As Rabbo headed back down the ramp he heard a faint thumping sound coming from upstairs.
“Sounds like Mom’s awake” Merryn said with a sly smile on her face.
“When’s Wenna coming over?” Rabbo asked.
“Not until after the baby is born,” Merryn answered. “She is pretty close, maybe a couple of weeks at the most”.
Rabbo laughed softly “How many has she had”?
Merryn looked at Rabbo and smiled before answering. “More than I have had. We did have a contest to see who could have the most children but I stopped at twenty one”.
Suddenly Merryn’s eyes lost focus then they refocused, “The elders have just left the village. I guess they will be here in about an hour. I guess I better let Mom know she can finish up her morning workout” Merryn’s said with a hint of a giggle in her voice.
About ten minutes later Athena came walking downstairs wearing her short robe and grinning. Behind her walked Merwyn who looked freshly cleaned.
“Rabbo can you go and check on the Romans and see what they are doing. I want to know how close they are to breaking camp or if they are already on the march” Merwyn said with a calm tone to his voice.
Merryn placed two plates on the table and looked at Athena.
“Athena and I were talking about what we should tell and suggest to the elders when they get here” Merwyn said as he sat down.
Merryn looked first at Athena and then at Merwyn and barked a laugh before walking over and getting two glasses of milk.
“I’ve already checked on the Romans” said Rabbo “and they are still in their marching camp. They have patrol out and a work party has started to cut trees from the forest. To me it looks like they are planning to stay there for a while”.
“Good Rabbit” said Merwyn as he started to eat his breakfast.
* * * * *
It was about forty five minutes later when the elders arrived and Rabbo had just finished briefing Merwyn and Athena in great detail of what he had seen at the roman marching camp. When the elders arrived they were led into the main living that was in semi darkness due to the curtains being closed. The living room was very gloomy and the elders took awhile to adjust to the semi darkness of the room.
“It’s dark in here Merwyn” said the first elder.
Merwyn looked over “Could you light the oil lamps please. I’ll pour you both a glass of wine”.
Once the oil lamps had been lit and the glasses of wine had been served Merwyn sat down facing the two elders.
“Have you any thoughts or suggestions on how we are to deal with these iron people” asked the first elder.
“No I have not” answered Merwyn. “I have been giving much thought about the arrival of Bastet with her ship full of goods and trade items”.
“I do hope she has that fine fabric. My wife loves that fine fabric and has been going on at me to see if I can get a full bolt” said the second elder.
“I put in an order for that light fresh red wine” said the first elder holding up his wine so that it could catch the light from the oil lamps.
“I do believe that she has citrus with her” Merwyn said.
“Oh I remember those from my handfasting to my wife” said the first elder. “I do hope Bastet has those healing herbs for my wife’s joint illness”.
The elders and Merwyn talked at great length about the trade items that Bastet would possible have on her trading ship.
“What is Merwyn playing at?” Rabbo asked Athena on her private telepathic mode.
“I have no idea. But I am sure that Dad is up to something” answered Athena on the same mode. “He sent Merryn off in a hurry when the elders arrived. So Dad has to be up to something”.
* * * * *
Bastet and one of her crewmen sat in the small dingy as it sailed up the river. The dingy was loaded down with wine amphoras and olive oil amphora’s as well is a couple bolts of silk and a crate of oranges.
“Why are we loaded down with so much stuff” said the sailor with Bastet. “We could have unloaded down at the other river instead of carrying everything over that pebble covered stretch of beach”.
Bastet turned and looked at the sailor and smiled “We use to come in that way long before your grandfather was born. Beside it’s the only way we can get to the river. The other river would mean an overland walk of about half a day without all these items”.
As they rounded the bend in the river Bastet spotted Merryn who was sitting on a rock throwing small stones into the water.
“Ahh there you are” Bastet said on Merryn’s private telepathic mode.
“I’ve been waiting nearly two hours” said Merryn on the same mode.
“What is your father up to?” Bastet asked ,still using the telepathic mode as the dingy was still to far away for normal speech.
“I have no idea. I was hoping you would tell me. All he’s told me is that these trade goods you have are very important in his plan”.
“I would have thought that he had more important things to be worried about than wine, silk, olive oil and oranges” Bastet said not hiding the tone of confusion in her telepathic voice.
“Would you like me to increase the wind a little so you can get closer quicker”?
“That would be nice. I’m not as strong as I use to be” said Bastet.
Merryn reached out with her mind and conjured up a gentle breeze that filled the sail of the dingy and pushed it towards her. Once the dingy was close Merryn let the wind go and reached out with her mind and pulled the dingy up onto a small beach.
“Here grab the line and tie me off” said Bastet as she jumped out of the dingy.
The sailor unloaded a small cart and started to place the amphoras on the cart. Bastet grabbed the bolts of silk while Merryn garbed the crate of oranges. The three of them set out across the fields heading towards Merwyn’s house that was hidden by the trees.
“How far away is the legion” asked Bastet.
“About 8 miles” said Merryn as she adjusted the crate of oranges.
“That close?” said Bastet, sounding a little alarmed.
“Rabbo went and looked at them this morning and he said that they were not on the march. Dad thinks they will rest for a few days”.
“Merwyn is cutting things fine if he’s going to do something” said Bastet as they entered the forest. “Is he going to fight or get the locals to fight” said Bastet her voice starting to fill with worry.
“I don’t know” Merryn said with a little fear starting to creep into her voice as well.
“I don’t see how he can beat the Romans. If he could unit the nations like Arminius did in Germania then he could. But these people would not stay united and the Romans would come back. He would have to defeat them totally and not just drive them into the sea but wipe them out with no mercy and no survioers to tell the tale. And that’s not Merwyn’s style” Bastet said becoming very thoughtful.
They all became silent as they walked though the forest.
“Merwyn” Bastet hailed on Merwyn’s private telepathic mode “what are you up to”?
“What? me up to something?” answered Merywn.
“How many centuries have I know you, Merwyn?” Bastet asked.
“Too many to count” Merwyn answered as his voice fade out of Bastet’s minds.
Finally Bastet, Merryn and the sailor came out of the forest into the meadow. As they moved across the meadow the long hair cattle started to move towards them and then fall in behind them. “Don’t do that” Bastet said to Merryn.
“It’s not me” said Merryn looking at Bastet and then back at the sailor.
As they got close to the stream that separated the meadow from the gardens and the house a soft giggle escaped from the middle of one of the bolts of silk.
Bastet stopped and Merryn and the sailor bumped into her. Bastet then opened the bolt of silk that the giggle had come out of. “I told you to stay on the ship Soft eyes” said Bastet looking upset at the daft rabbit.
Soft eyes looked up at Bastet and blew a loud raspberry and leaped down and bolted across the bridge making rude and crude sounds as she charged up the garden towards the cottage.
Soft eyes stopped at the back door of the cottage and looked at the small flap door that was on the bottom of the door. She leaned forward sniffed the little flap door bowed her head low. Then with great care and reverence she pushed the little flap door open and hopped into the kitchen. Soft eyes looked around and saw the empty water bowl in the corner and tears welled up in her eyes.
“I miss him too” said Rabbo who was sitting in a high back chair.
“I still can’t get over his passing. Even after all this time” Soft eyes said not wanting to mention Cat’s name.
“I know” said Rabbo. “I can’t believe it’s been over a thousand years. To me his passing is so fresh it feels like yesterday”.
“I know, I was there” said Soft eyes her tears running down her furry nose. “I remember his last words before, umm, before he passed”. Soft eyes was silent for a few moments then she cleared her throat “No love is deeper when life is traded so that friends and loved ones may live”.
“I remember hearing that when he hailed us on the family telepathic mode” Rabbo said as his tears started to well up. After a few minutes both Rabbo and Soft eyes regained their composure and they sat face to face just looking at each other.
Just as Rabbo was about to speak the door pushed open and Bastet, Merryn and the sailor struggled in with there load of trade items. The sailor went back outside with Bastet while Merryn sat down in one of the kitchen chairs and looked around. Once all the trade items had been brought in Merryn got up from the chair and started to boil water.
“Did you been those herbs from the land of Chin?” Merryn asked. “Dad so loves them in hot water”.
Bastet reached into a box and pulled out a block of dried leaves and threw it at Merryn who caught it with one hand.
“I have to admit I like chai, too” Merryn said as the water started to boil.
Athena came stomping out of the living room and looked at Merryn. “I don’t get your father” Athena said. “We have a roman army about two hours away and he’s talking about trade. That man! I just don’t get him”.
“If your dad thinks it’s a good time to talk about trade then it’s a good time to do so” said Rabbo looking at Athena and then at Merryn. “Besides, I’ve never known him to do something without a good reason”.
Merwyn came walking out of the living and so prevented further conversion and speculation on what he was up to. “Athena dear, could you make lunch for our guests?” Merwyn said. “Oh Merryn, I have a little mission for you”. Merwyn took Merryn by the hand and lead her outside. A few moments later Merwyn returned alone.
* * * * *
It was an hour after lunch and the elders had come out into the kitchen with Merwyn to look at the trade items.
“Oh, olive oil for lighting and cooking” said one elder “oh, and the herbs my mate needs for her joint illness”.
“Ahh, that fine fabric that my bondmate has been asking about. Oh, and that light red wine that is refreshing” said the other elder.
“Oh, citrus” both elders said together.
“Ok let’s talk price” Merwyn said getting ready to haggle.
Merwyn, Bastet, and the elders quickly got down to haggling over what could be traded for the items that Bastet had brought with her.
Athena, the sailor, Rabbo and Soft eyes looked on in total bemusement as first tin and copper where offered and turned down then grain and lastly iron and wool was offered.
“Tell you what. Throw in a extra bolt of that fabric you call silk and I’ll throw in my youngest daughter and we have a deal” said the second elder.
“What?” said Bastet looking at the second elder with shock in her face.
“Look she’s no use to me and I can’t marry her off as the last lad her age left with a black eye a bloody nose and two teeth less than she had when he tried to win her hand. Besides from what my bondmate said, she is more into girls anyway. Don’t get me wrong. I adore my youngest daughter. But she is a handful”.
“You are offering your daughter to me as a slave” Bastet said trying to keep an outraged tone out of her voice.
“No, no, no, you misunderstand me” said the second elder. “I want to get her away from here before she gets her pretty neck cut. I offer her to you so you may help her and keep her out of harms way. I don’t want her ending up losing her head the way my aunty did”.
As the elder spoke there was a faint ding and Merwyn looked over at Athena. Athena closed her eyes for a moment and then opened them. “There is a young woman in chariot who has turned down our little road” Athena said telepathically to Merwyn. Athena got up and left.
“So you want me to take your daughter and show her the world and keep her safe at the same time” Bastet said to the elder.
Merwyn smiled and looked at the elder and then at Bastet “I don’t see how your daughter is a trade item. But if you throw in a torc made of gold I’m sure Bastet will take your daughter on as an umm servant or something”.
“No not as a servant” said Bastet “more as an apprentice. Plus if you throw in her weight in grain we have a deal”.
“Done” said the elder.
Just then there was a loud voice in the kitchen and the door burst open and in walked a young woman dressed in a form fitting dress with leggings and the brightest mop of red hair. She was slim and fit and clearly not a young girl but a woman in her early twenties. Around her hip was a wide belt with a sword hanging from it. The sword looked very old and as Bastet looked down at it she saw that it was a sword that she had once carried.
But the anger that invaded the room in the young woman’s wake made everyone take a step back. “What have you done?” said the young woman looking at the second elder her face red with anger.
“I’m trying to save your life daughter” said the elder.
Suddenly the young woman levitated about three inches off the floor and her body went ridged.
“Enough” said Merwyn.
Bastet walked over to the young woman and looked her up and down. Then Bastet turned and walked away before looking back at the young woman that was being held by Psychokinesis by Merwyn.
“Tell me about your sword” Bastet said in a low calm voice that had a hint of sensuality to it.
“It’s mine” said the young woman as her anger turned from her father towards Bastet who she believed was holding her in some kind of mental embrace.
“Tell me about the sword” Bastet said as her voice changed from one of sensuality to one of commanded.
“It was my grandmothers who got it from her grandmother” said the young woman who was no longer able to control herself.
“Have there been any breaks in the line” asked Bastet.
The anger in the young woman’s eyes started to fade as she realized that if she was to gain control of herself she should do as she was told.
“None” said the young woman.
Bastet turned to Merwyn “let her down”. Merwyn released the young woman who stood free from her mental bonds shaking.
Bastet took the young woman gentle by the hand and smiled “let’s talk”. Bastet turned and looked at Merwyn and smiled “could you finish up here for me?”.
“I’m sorry about my daughter” said the second elder looking first at Merwyn then the first elder and lastly at Athena. “She is very different from most women and I apologize for her anger”.
“There is no need to apologize” said Merwyn smiling. “My daughters have the same anger issue from time to time but thankfully they know how to control it”.
Athena let out a snort and shook her hand.
“Let’s finish things up please so we can talk about the Roman issue” said the first elder.
For the next few minutes they talked about how many ingots of iron and how many sacks of grain and how many bundles of wool. Finally they all shook hands agreeing that the amount of ingots and sacks of grain and bundles of wool was a good deal all around.
“Now let’s go back into the living room and work out what we will do about these Romans” said Merwyn winking at Athena before leading the two elders back into the living room.
Watch for next Chapter!
Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.