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. 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.”

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.

The Oracle’s Dilemma, Vol.3, An Isles of Mist Short

Jan Erik Waider

I had decided on the way into the dining hall to let him approach me. His back was to me as I walked in, he was facing the food table. He was sure to notice me as I walk by to gather my food, this would be easier than I thought. Stacking my plate with vegetables, I smiled as a tankard of ale slammed onto the table beside me, “you need meat woman, you eat like a bird”.

 

“Hello Keyne, you know I eat very little meat, why do you insist on having this conversation so often?” Sighing, I turned to face him. I was going to have to reign in my annoyance if this was going to work. Plastering a smile on my face, I decided to humor him tonight. “I will eat a bit of chicken, which do you suggest?”

 

I startled him with my change in demenor and I could see the gears turning behind his eyes. “I don’t understand your ways woman, meat is life. Well, mead is life, meat helps. Anyway, if all you will eat is chicken and not a lot of it, have the chicken and potatoes.  It has plenty of vegetables with a small amount of chicken. It should be to your liking.” He spooned some of the dish onto my plate as he talked. I was so stunned that he would think to offer me a dish so close to my liking I didn’t notice the amount until I almost dropped my plate. “Keyne!” I cried, “That’s enough, I can’t eat all that!”

“Gods woman, you eat less than a bird. This is hardly a first serving.”

“Then you can help me eat it.” I smiled sweetly as I said this and attempted a seductive look with my eyes. I doubt I pulled it off but from the look on his face, he was buying it anyway. This was going to work if I could hold my temper. Chances are he was five or six tankards of ale into the night already. That was fine for me, I’d give him much more before the night was through. I want him good and drunk before we go back to his pallet. The more he drinks, the heavier he will sleep, making my job all the easier.

 

Shocking me once again he took my plate in one hand and my arm in the other, leading me back to the main table. Instead of setting my plate at my usual seat near the head of the table he caught the eye of his friend and tilted his head a bit. I was puzzled by this until his friend got up and found a new place to sit. Keyne set my plate down and helped me to sit down before taking his seat next to me. “Thank you Keyne, although I was joking. I didn’t mean for you to make your friend move.”

“I have been trying to get you to dine with me for years. Even if it was said in jest you are stuck with me tonight woman.” Well, that was almost sweet. I rolled my eyes and took a bite of my food. At my first bite of the potatoes, I was hooked. Even the chicken was wonderful. I must have made some sort of sound. I heard a chuckle from Keyne. Cutting my eyes in his direction, I took another bite. “If you continue to eat like this I won’t be able to share with you. I’ve never seen you eat this much before.”

“Sorry” I mumbled between mouthfuls, “this is amazing. Thank you for bullying me into eating it.”

let us drink and be merry. It is a night to celebrate

“Let us not fight tonight woman, let us drink and be merry. It is a night to celebrate.” He boomed this last part and chugged his ale. Every time I thought this would be easier than I first thought he did something to make me bite my tongue again. I couldn’t even describe how annoying all this “woman” mess was. “What could we possibly be celebrating Keyne?”

“We are celebrating the new-found friendship we are forming.”

“Oh” he was so serious I almost felt bad about what I was about to do, “that’s sweet Keyne, thank you. I’m stuffed, would you like to finish this off and I’ll go get you more ale?”