The Oracle’s Dilemma Vol. Thirteen, An Isle of Mist Short

 

I was only half right, Keyne loved the pub but instead of being in the middle of everything he took us to a table in the back corner, out of the way of everything. After settling in beside me he leaned over, “I know you wanted to talk last night but you fell asleep as soon as your head hit the pillow. Here we can talk and no one will pay any attention.” I was puzzled but touched. “It’s OK, if you want to go and have fun with the crowd I will understand. I came here because I thought you would like it.”
“I do love, the ale is plenty and the booth is comfortable. It is just my kind of place. However, I wish to spend my time here with you, not these mortals I will never see again.”

Overwhelmed by feelings I wasn’t sure I could name, I lowered my head and began fiddling with the bowl of bread that had been placed on the table with our ale. I was so lost in thought I missed Keyne ordering dinner until a giant plate of shrimp, potatoes, corn, and sausage was set down in front of us. “I hope you don’t mind La’el, I ordered a Low Country Boil for us to share. If you would like something else we can get it.”
“This is perfect Keyne, I love shrimp. What will you eat?” Snorting at this he took a sausage from the plate. “What is it you wished to talk about love? You can’t keep avoiding it forever.”

I debated what all to tell him as I pushed the food around on my plate, suddenly the shrimp looked less appetizing. I decided to go for full honesty. He had been kind to me and made sure I not only had fun but didn’t feel bad about not being able to bring us home.
“You will not like this but I feel I must tell you the truth. I took Dragon-Breath, I felt bad even as I did it, but I needed time to undo all of the havoc you have caused with your power to grant divinity. I thought that if I hid the ax you would go on a quest and give me a day or two to fix things. I also hoped it would give me time to make Erwin realize how much of a problem it was causing for you to be creating new Gods and Goddesses at random. I devised a plan to get you drunk enough to transport it here while you slept. I did not expect to enjoy your company so much that night. That someone might look for the ax as well never entered my mind. They should not have even known about it. Once I saw that there were others involved I knew I had to come with you though I never expected Erwin to know what I did. I certainly never thought I would have so much fun on the trip, that horrid swamp notwithstanding. I hope that you can forgive me and we can at least be friends. I have found I want that very much.” It all came out in a rush. When my mouth finally stopped moving, I slumped back into the booth relieved that it was all out in the open.

Keyne was silent for a long time. So long I thought he would never speak to me again. Just before I decided to leave he threw his head back and gave a loud laugh. He laughed as though he had never heard a more funny joke which sat my teeth on edge. I pushed up from the table and turned to go but he grabbed my arm and holding his stomach

“sit La’el, I am sorry if I offend you, it was not my intention. I had despaired you would never interfere with the new Gods and Goddesses I was creating and had gone to The Khan that very night to tell him I wanted a new plan. He was going to undo their divinity the next morning with or without you. When I told him to fix things he agreed as long as I gave you one more day to react. He said he knew you were up to something and wanted to see what you would do. I agreed and I had never been gladder than I was when you walked into the great hall that night. I wasn’t sure if you dressed up for me or not but I had to speak to you regardless. I was shocked you sat with me and I could tell you were up to something but I went along with you just to see where it would lead. When I woke up to find my ax gone, I’ll admit it threw me and I was angry at first but I realized quickly that was part of your plan. I knew if Malachi did not have the ax then you took it and if you did it was safe where ever you put it. Erwin sent you with me because he knew that you would either realize my feelings for you and return them or you would make it clear to me once and for all I was never going to win you. He is the one who created the men in your vision. They are nothing more than the magic of The Khan, illusions used to have a reason to send you. So yes, we can continue to be friends. I hope we can be more than friends at some point soon.”

Stunned, all I could do was stare at him. Part of me wanted to be angry that he and Erwin had done all this but a perverse part of me was touched that he would go through all the trouble to make me notice him. I just didn’t understand why he felt the need to. Finally, when I could speak again, I asked a ridiculous question,
“OK, but why Carl, the God of Wet Willies?”

“Oh, because I knew that would be the one to get you. After all the other stupid powers I had handed out I was running out of ideas and so they kept getting increasingly more silly. Carl was the last by the way, he thought it was a riot to have the power even for a day or two. They all knew it was only for a time even if they didn’t know the reason.”

I was at a loss and too confused by this change of events I didn’t begin to know where to start. I had to admit, the plan was pretty amusing now that I knew the entire to story. “Erwin was in on this?” I finally asked. For some reason, I was stuck on that. Then a light bulb went off.

“You two are the reason my powers have been so off lately! I had no idea he would give you the ability to create gods and there is no reason I shouldn’t have been able to get us home after we got the ax. You and Erwin combined your powers to block mine! How could you? My powers are everything to me!”
Now I was mad and ready to go home. I no longer wanted to spend time in the city or with Keyne, I needed to think. With no warning, I jumped up and fled to the restroom where I quickly gathered my powers and disappeared just as Keyne burst into the ladies room.

The Oracle’s Dilemma Vol. 12 An Isle of Mist Short

The next morning, I woke refreshed and ready to hit the road. I was excited to visit Savannah. On my last trip to the south, I spent days there just wondering the city streets. I inhaled my breakfast, a bowl of fruit and coffee. I tapped my foot impatiently as Keyne ate his third plate of bacon and eggs. When he started talking about a waffle, I had enough.
“Let us go now. We can eat more when we get there. I will take us. I feel much better today.”
He didn’t argue with me as I thought he would. He just rose and threw away his plate.
“Let us go then.”
Once we were checked out and in a secluded area, I gathered my magic around us and with a flash we were standing at the entrance to Bonaventure Cemetery. Grabbing his hand I led him down the path, entranced by the majestic trees and moss. Even Keyne was impressed. Trust a Northman to understand honoring the dead. We spent hours wandering around the paths, stopping to rest on a bench overlooking the marsh and the curve of the river. It was a wonderful morning. Just enough chill in the air to make the day comfortable.
Soon my stomach rumbled and I realized I was hungry. Laughing, Keyne pulled me toward the entrance
“we should find lunch La’el, even you cannot deny your hunger now.” As luck would have it, a taxi was dropping off a family when we arrived at the gate. Before he could drive off, I was in the back seat holding the door for Keyne. “Could you take us to City Market please.” As much as I wanted some decent southern food, I knew Keyne would be less likely to enjoy it. I was hoping that while walking around downtown, something would catch our attention without us having to go to River Street. It was always so crowded there I hoped to avoid the place if I could. And at City Market, we could always grab a pizza if all else failed. After walking around for awhile we settled on Sweet Potatoes, a little place on Waters Ave. Thoroughly stuffed with gumbo, we resumed our ramblings.
“What do you say to another night love, I think there is more of this city to see.”
“I would love to Keyne, that’s a wonderful idea!” Grabbing his hand I drug him off to explore more of the city. Around dark, I took him to River Street, I knew he would enjoy a pub crawl and I wanted to do something for him as well. As we climbed down those treacherous steps I noticed those men again. Keyne once again brushed off my concerns saying they could not possibly know who we were.
“Be that as it may, they knew where your ax was when they should not have, they were in the first place we stopped at, and now they are here. That is cause for concern to me.”
“You are right La’el, I will be more alert as we wonder. Gods woman, are you leading me to my death on these stairs?” He caught himself as he stumbled on the last two steps. They are incredibly steep. Giggling I took his hand “I’ve got you big guy” and with what I hoped was a saucy wink, led him to one of the crowded pubs.

The Oracle’s Dilemma Vol. 11, An Isle of Mist Short

“A bath! I would like a bath first.” I could not help the pleading in my voice. He had taken me completely off guard. I will admit I was finding him much more appealing than I thought I would but I was still unsure if I found him that appealing. “I must be clean, as must you. Also, we should talk first. If we are to do this, there are things we must discuss.”

He gave me a curious look, before sighing and leading me to the shower. “Fine, you have ten minutes. If we must talk I wish to be done with it.”

What happened to the Keyne I was enjoying so much? The brutish one was back and I was not in the mood to deal with him.

“As you wish Keyne.” With a huff I slammed the door in his face and with no small amount of satisfaction, slid the lock in place.

The water was close to boiling, even one more degree and it would be to hot to tolerate. It felt wonderful on my scratched and itching skin. I felt the dirt and sweat wash away, along with it the aches and pains of the day. I was beginning to feel more like myself. If he thought he would bully me into his bed tonight the man was in for a rude awakening soon. But first I must tell him what I had done. I owed him that much for all he had done for me today. Suddenly, the water was no longer making me feel better.

I finished my shower and dried off. Calling my magic, I was able to produce a flimsy night gown. This would not do. I needed to send a message and not the one this night dress would send. It barely covered my bum. Trying again, I managed a pair of shorts. Those two pieces of clothing draining what little reserve I had built up.

Tears were streaming down my face as I walked into the main room. Keyne was at the door, arm raised as though he was about to knock. When he saw my face he wrapped his arms around me and just held me as I cried. Crap, now we are back to the nice, thoughtful Keyne. Had the swampy air addled his whits? I wish he would just be himself, whomever that really was, and quit going back and forth.

“Why the tears love? It can’t have been that bad of a shower now could it?”

I tried to laugh though it sounded more like a snort. Taking a deep breath I began to talk.

“We should be home by now, in our own beds. We should not have to worry about those men, or if I will have enough magic to get us home tomorrow. I don’t understand why it isn’t working now. I feel lost, like the biggest part of me is missing. I do not like this feeling.”

I thought I saw him grimace but it was so quick, I’m not sure.

“It will be fine love, you will rest tonight and have food tomorrow. Then we will see the place in the picture and go home. You will see.” His kindness made me cry again.

Feeling a change in subject was in order I screwed up my courage and asked

“Why is it that here, alone, you call me love but at home it was woman this and woman that?”

“Because, here alone, you let me. At home you refuse to have anything to do with me most of the time and when you do you are looking down your nose. Last night, I know you were up to something but it was nice to have you at least pretend to like me for a while. And here, you seem to like me a little better than before. I am not really the man you see at home. That is just what everyone expects, so that is who I give them. It is also why I travel as often as I can. Why I always try to get you to go with me.”

Well, that was unexpected. Unsure how to respond, I wrapped my arms around his waist, hugging him tight.

“Lets go to bed Keyne.”

The Oracle’s Dilemma Vol. 10, An Isles of Mist Short

As it would happen, our waitress, whose name was Alice was leaving work as we walked out the front door. I had been to nervous about the men to eat and Keyne followed me out of the dinner chastising me on how little I had eaten. He left out the part where he finished off my burger as well as his own.

“Hey y’all, I’m headed into town, do you two want a ride? It’ll be night soon and I hate to think of you walking these back roads in the dark.”

“Thank you Alice, a ride would be wonderful.” I got into her car before Keyne could protest, relieved at not having to walk any more. Surprisingly he didn’t argue, he just got in the back seat of the car next to me and wrapped an arm around my shoulder, pulling me close. I would normally protest but I was to tired.

He and Alice kept up a quiet conversation as we drove into town. Exhausted, I just kept my eyes closed and pretended to sleep. He told her all kinds of interesting things about us deciding to hike along the coast of the US and getting hopelessly lost in the swamp. We would get our bearings in town and a good nights rest. Then head out in the morning. He thanked her when we came to the hotel, and instead of waking me, he lifted me into his arms and carried me into the building.

“She’s gone now love, you can stop pretending to be asleep” he chuckled as he stood me on my feet in the lobby.

“I am not feeling myself.” I offered by way of apology. I left him to make arrangements for a room and busied myself looking at a the pictures on the walls. They appeared to all be of locations near to the area. They were lovely. I wish we had walked past those places instead of that horrid swamp.

“That place looks peaceful. Is it near here?” I startled at Keyne’s question, not realizing he had come up behind me.

“I believe so. The location says “Bonaventure Cemetery”, it must be a place they honor their dead.”

He stared, seemingly deep in thought for a moment, “then we shall go there before we go home. One more day will not matter. I like the look of the river and the trees behind it. I should like to see it for myself.”

“As you wish. I think it would be more lovely in person. Where is my room key, I would like to sleep?”

Smiling he shook his head and led me to the stairs. Once we were on the second floor, he turned and walked down to the very last room on the hall. I had no choice but to follow since he still had not given me a key or told me where my room was. He opened the door and motioned for me to wait a moment. After assuring himself the room was empty, he called me to join him. “I only got one room. Tonight we shall finish what you started.”

Running his finger over my cheek, he pushed the door closed with his foot.

The Oracle’s Dilemma Vol. 9 An Isle of Mist Short

Jan Erik Waider

 

Keyne held the door and with his hand on the small of my back, led me into the diner and to a booth in the back. He ordered two glasses of water and after pausing over the menu asked me what I would like. “I am unfamiliar with this food. I do not know what to order.”
“Shall I order for us both then?” I questioned. At his nod, I waited for the waitress to return. “We would like a burger and fries for each of us please,” I informed the waitress when she returned with our water.

“Miss, would you be so kind as to tell us where the nearest resting place may be. We are not from this area and find ourselves in need of a good nights sleep.” His manners were impeccable and I wondered, not for the first time who this Keyne was.
“Sure Hun. If you take this road about two more miles you’ll come into town and there are a couple decent hotels there. A couple of not so decent ones too if you need cheap and don’t mind a few bugs. I’ll be back out in a minute with your food. Y’all just cool down and I’ll bring you a glass of tea to wash down the burgers with.”

Looking at her name tag, Keyne thanked her by name. If I had been less interested in watching him drink his water, I would have noticed the men as soon as they came in. They were seated on the other side of the dinner before I realized I had seen them before.
“Keyne, those are the men from my vision. The ones looking for Dragon-Breath. We cannot stay here.”
“Calm down La’el, we look like any other American and I’ve hidden the ax from mortal eyes. We will be fine. You must rest if we are to return home.” He seemed so sure of himself, I, on the other hand, was a nervous mess. I was hot, tired, and itchy. I had been unable to count on my power for the first time in my life and I wanted to go home and consult my books. On top of all that, being alone with Keyne was confusing. He was not the brute I had thought him all these years.

“Ah look, love, our food is here. I trust you have ordered something wonderful.” As soon as the plate hit the table he lifted his burger and took a large bite. “You know, for someone who dislikes meat, you have ordered it to perfection. We must find out how to make these to tell Cook.”

The Oracle’s Dilemma Vol. 8 An Isle of Mist Short

Jan Erik Waider

 

I woke to find myself held in Keyne’s arms and him frantically yelling at me to wake up. “What happened? Are we home?” My voice much too shaky to be my own.
“No, we are right where we were, your magic began and then you just dropped like a stone. I’ve been trying to wake you for the last quarter of an hour.”
“I what? What do you mean my power began and then I dropped? I did not faint, my powers have never once failed me and they did not start today. I must have been distracted. I will try again.”
“Nay woman, you will not. We will go to the nearest town and you will eat and you will rest. You hardly had enough food to feed a child yesterday and drank enough ale to drown a horse. I will not be swayed in this. Now, which way do we go?”

I wanted to protest but I feared he was right. I felt weak and shaky. I wasn’t sure I could use my magic to swat a fly much less get us back to the Hidden Isle. Choking back my sharp reply, I laughed and called him a twit as I headed off to the north. I wasn’t sure where we were in relation to other people but I knew we needed to go North and West to stay in Georgia. If I was going to be stuck here I was getting some decent food. I quickly found that while I was fine issuing a quest, I was ill suited for undertaking one of my own. My feet ached, the bugs and vegetation of the swamp had caused me to be covered in welts and bites. I was doing better than Keyne though. He was much larger than me and learned quickly to step lightly, it’s called The Land of Trembling Earth for a reason. He was soaked through and had seen one of the large swamp lizards and started. He then fell into a plant growing up a tree. Whatever plant it was has caused him to itch everywhere it touched and he has a bright red rash. Note to self, leaves of three, leave it be. For what I am sure was the millionth time since getting to this accursed swamp, I wished my powers were working. I could heal us both and take us to anywhere but here.

We trekked through the swamp for hours, even I had lost my love for it before we finally came upon a road. Sticking with my original plan of going north and west we headed into the setting sun. Thankfully at some point, Keyne realized walking around in our typical, loose, flowy clothes and carrying a giant ax on his back was not the best way to endear ourselves to the natives. He used his magic to make us both look more American. I felt ridiculous in my blue jeans and tank top. At least he gave me comfortable shoes. When we came to a small diner I nearly wept with relief.

The Oracle’s Dilemma, Vol. 7, An Isles of Mist Short

Jan Erik Waider

 

As an Oracle, I was able to transport Keyne and me to Georgia with no trouble. Finding the ax was easy. We popped right into the field and Keyne grabbed Dragon-Breath, strapping it to his belt. “Thank you La’el, I am nothing without my ax.”
His words shocked me, didn’t he know the legends. Yes, the ax has a name but the legends call it the Ax of Keyne. Placing my hand on his arm, “How could you say that Keyne? You are the wielder of the ax, the ax does not wield you. Do not forget, you are worthy to wield this ax and only the worthy may do so.”

“It is not the same, everyone knows me as the wielder of Dragon-Breath, as the God of Weather and War, no one knows me as just Keyne. At the very least, I am Keyne, Erwin’s son. Surely you understand, Oracle. Does anyone know La’el?”

“No, they do not know La’el. However, that is because I do not allow them to. As the Oracle, I cannot have friends, I cannot appear to have favorites. What if I had to send someone to their death on a quest doomed to fail. It is hard to do when I do not care for the person, what if they were my friend? Could I truly send them on a quest I knew would be their last? Or, what if there was a quest everyone wanted to go on and I knew my friend was the best for this quest. Should I send them and risk the censure of the clan who believed I sent them only because they were my friend or do I send someone else even though they are less likely to succeed? I understand what you feel Keyne, but our reasons are much different.”

“ I had always thought your aloofness was a because of an aversion to me. I guess I never paid attention to your interaction with the others. Is that why you always refuse me?”

“I refuse you Keyne because you are a drunkard who has no sense of responsibility. At least that is what I have always told myself. I question that now. I have enjoyed our time together of late. When you are not with the others you are different. I find I like this Keyne much better. However, that does not change what is. I am the Oracle and Oracle I shall remain. Now, let us return home.”

With the threat to the with the threat to the ax I had given up my hopes of getting some decent food out of this. Sadly Keyne had noticed none of the beauty I saw around me. He had a single minded focus on retrieving his ax. I wish we had time to explore but I would not put us in danger just to have my way. Placing my hand in his, I called forth my magic to send us home. The world went black.

The Oracle’s Dilemma, Vol.6, An Isles of Mist Short

Jan Erik Waider

“Thank you, Erwin, The tea is exactly what I needed.” As I sipped the tea I sat up my mirror and tossed my herbs on the fire. The tea warmed my body and the headache loosened its grip. Soon the smoke from the herbs filled the air forcing me to breathe it in. I was feeling better already. “I cannot imagine that Malachi is behind this. I would think it was something much less sinister. I shall find the answer.” Slipping into a trance, I looked into my mirror as the image of the great hall slowly faded away. A mist clouded the mirror and slowly cleared. “I see a swamp, with dark, tea colored water. Large lizards swimming silently through the lilies. The earth trembles under the feet of those who live there. The ax sits in heart of the swamp. I do not know how it got there, the answers are behind the mist. It’s as though Dragon-Breath has a plan of his own. I see others, they are trying to cut through the swamp, they know something important hides there. Dragon-Breath is in danger. You must go Keyne, you must recover the ax!”

Shaking my head, I came out of the trance. I looked to Erwin, frightened. At no point during my plan did I expect there to be a problem getting the ax back. This was at best a quick trip to Georgia where Keyne would grab the ax and see some sights. No one should even know the ax was there. “Keyne, the Oracle has given you a quest. The recovery of Dragon-Breath is the most important thing. You must leave at once. La’el, a word please.”

I rose and followed Erwin to the table and began gathering some food to break my fast. “Erwin, I don’t understand how anyone could know about the ax.”

“It doesn’t matter La’el, I understand why you did it. It is past time for me to reign in Keyne’s outlandish behavior. I will deal with Carl and all the others. You must go with Keyne, you must help him find the ax. Dragon-Breath is the greatest priority. It is possible that you will also learn a lesson on this quest as well.”

“As you wish Erwin. This is my mess, I will help to clean it up.”

“Yes, La’el, you will.”

I found a new website.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

I like books. I like to read them, hold them, and smell them. I also like to read them on my Kindle (I know, that’s sacrilege to book readers sorry guys) I like throwing 200+ books in my bag and heading out the door. Fiction, Non-Fiction, Fan-Fiction, Science Fiction, Self-Help, Cereal Boxes. My requirement appears to be words. I have way too many books to read at the moment yet thanks to BookBub I continue to grab more. My mother and my aunt tell me life is too short for bad books. I still maintain I have found less than a handful of truly bad books. I’ve seen bad writing, I’ve seen dumb plots, and I’ve seen books who should have been edited by someone older than a toddler before being released. Even still, those books were rarely so bad I couldn’t finish them and find something to enjoy.

I like reading on my Kindle. I like throwing 200+ books in my bag & heading out the door.

And now, despite all the things I should be doing, I find myself playing around online. (Twitter and Pinterest killed my focus). I discovered Wattpad today. What is that about? Will it connect me to readers or will it connect me with more things to read? Is it wrong that I consider either a win? It could turn into yet another time suck much like Pinterest and Twitter but it’s a risk I will take.

My friends and I have the worst book club ever (we barely remember to use it) on Facebook but I am doing a challenge where I read 26 different books this year. That’s kind of a joke since I have read well over 50 already but these are specific books. I think I may do something fancy and do a review of at least a few of them on the blog just so that I am not reading them for no real reason. I also started working on a bullet journal for my writing. We will see how well that works out. At least I will have important things altogether if nothing else.

Now I will leave you to go check out WattPad and spend time in my cold medicine induced stupor.

-Lynn

The Oracle’s Dilemma, Vol.5, An Isles of Mist Short

Jan Erik Waider

 

“Malachi!”

I woke up to Keyne’s roar and a splitting skull. I could hardly focus but I had some vague notion as to what was going on. I was no drunkard even though mead and ale were common in our village. I mostly drank spring water. This feeling was new to me. How was he yelling like that, he had more ale than me?

“Would you knock it off, I think I may be dying.” I pleaded hoping this would make him stop yelling.

“Woman, Malachi has stolen my ax! This is no time for lazing around. Get up and use your magic to find Dragon-Breath! I will kill him this time!”

“Keyne, please calm down, I can’t think,” I begged as I sat and propped my back against the wall. Squinting, I held my head in my hands. “We don’t know that Malachi took Dragon-Breath. I remember putting it on the wall before we fell asleep. Malachi cannot lift it and I’m certain no one entered the room while we slept. Besides, even drunk, I think we would notice if a dragon came in here. Let me gather myself and I will see what I can scry.”

“Very well, you have an hour.” With that, he left the room bellowing for the Khan.

Besides, even drunk, I think we would notice if a dragon came in here.

Well, this would be great, I better hurry. I grabbed my shawl and ran to my quarters. I wasn’t concerned with the startled looks shot my way. The fools, they had to have noticed him carrying me out of the great hall, where else would I have slept?

Once back in my quarters I quickly freshened up and threw my hair into a quick bun. Gods, what I would give for some tea. Oh well, I’ll have to suck it up, this is my fault after all. Grabbing my mirror and herbs, I hurried to the great hall. That’s where the Khan would expect me. Luckily, I was the only one who could see in my mirror so I wasn’t worried about what it would show, they would only know what I told them.

As I entered the hall Keyne was pacing in front of Erwin. The Khan, for his part, had an amused look on his face and simply watched his hot headed son. When I entered he offered me a cup of tea and had a chair brought out for me. “Tell me La’el, what do you see in your mirror? Has Malachi truly managed to sneak into the rooms of Keyne and steal Dragon-Breath from under his very nose?” He gave me a wink as Keyne turned his back and walked the other way mumbling under his breath. My heart sank, he knows. This would be bad before it got better. Now that the ax was in the swamp the only way to get it back was to go get it. My magic wouldn’t work if I couldn’t touch the object. He had to send Keyne on this quest so I could fix the mess Keyne has made handing out divinity.