“She’s not in the lists?” Apollo hissed at Orion’s revelation.  The blue man shrugged.  “Just because she’s not in the lists doesn’t mean someone didn’t make for earth and have a bit of fun for an evening and decided not to mention it.  Not everyone wants to admit to having done it with a horse,” Orion pointed out.

“Something just feels off about this, Orion,” Apollo paced his study.  Hermes had returned to the infirmary with a set of sedatives that would have laid flat a herd of rhinos.

“How so?” Orion sipped his tea.  He wasn’t really paying much attention.  Apollo had a tendency of blowing things out of proportion and it just wasn’t worth it to him to get involved in another psuedo mystery.

“I don’t know.  I can’t really put my finger on it.  She’s not like the woman that bound me those years back,” he mumbled.

“She’s been in your house for what, four hours, five tops?  How could you learn anything about her in that amount of time?” Orion presented a valid point.

“I couldn’t scry her future,” Apollo admitted.

“So she’s got a room to rent with Hades soon,” Orion shrugged.

“No, I couldn’t scry anything on her, in her realm or this,” Apollo tried to emphasis the point.

“Did you do it on your own, or did you have her actual touch the medium?” Orion asked, his interests beginning to perk up.

“I had her actually touch the liquid in the bowl.  It gave me only pieces of her past she didn’t mind us seeing, but it wouldn’t move past today.  I’ve never had that happen before,” Apollo admitted.

“Is it the same reaction you get with me or Hermes when you try to scry us?” Orion asked.  Because they traveled the dimensions more frequently than the other Great Houses, their futures were muddled, but with effort Apollo could determine their linear biologic time.  Apollo paused at Orion’s question, pondering.  “It’s like she’s not even there, like a phantom or a figment.  It’s like the time that I snuck into a party that Chronos and the Fates were having and I scryed their punchbowl.  They didn’t even make a ripple in the medium.”

Orion glanced over at Apollo, his eyes going wide.  “You’re joking right?”

“Nope, snuck in and they didn’t even know…well, the Fates probably knew – they know everything, but I never got in trouble for it,” Apollo mused.

“Not what I meant Apollo, you really couldn’t scry her at their level?  What does that make her?  She’s not a demi by our books – but any demi can be read.  She’s not an elemental or a nymph spirit right?” Orion asked.

Apollo waved him off, “definitely not – they’re so easy to read they aren’t even worth the medium.”

“What about…no that wouldn’t be it,” Orion paused, wondering.

“What?  You got an idea?” Apollo was all ears.

“Could she be a demi from a different Great House?” Orion asked.  Athena might be the keeper of the Greek’s Great House demi offspring; however her book was pointless if Rosemerta was not offspring from a Greek Great House.  Apollo stared at him in awe, dawning realization washing across his face.  “You’re joking Orion! Why didn’t I think of that?  These blasted du’las are Gaulish in origin, right?” Apollo leapt from his chair, excited.  He might just be able to find the answer now.

“Where are you off to?” Orion asked, getting up to follow Apollo.

“Come on, we’re going to go pay some old gods a call,” Apollo grabbed his jacket at the door before vanishing through a dimensional shift.  Orion dashed after him before the shift closed.  They found themselves in a meadow ringed with mist laden trees.  A towering oak tree took up the very center of the meadow.  A modest waddle and daub walled cruck house sat under the protective branches, it’s door facing toward the glimmering sun.  Smoke gently trailed through the holes at the ends of the building.  The thatch was growing flowers and moss.  It was rather idilic.

“Artemis would love this place,” Orion whispered in awe.  The meadow was singing in the soft light.  Birds flitted in and out of the grasses.  Apollo nodded affirmatively.

“So where’d you drag us to?  We haven’t gone out calling in years, and honestly, I don’t recognize this place,” Orion confided, a bit ashamed.  It wasn’t that he didn’t like visiting, he just hadn’t been around as much as everyone else.

“Sort of to be expected, Orion.  You aren’t a god after all, just a great hunter that sort of got promoted,” Apollo smiled to his friend.  “This is one of the Islands of the Blessed.”

“It’s not a Sídhe is it?  I’ve heard some awful stuff about ticking the fair folk off,” Orion cowered behind Apollo.

“What’s this? The great hunter afraid of a few sprites?” Apollo laughed.

“It’s not a laughing manner, those things can be evil incarnate!” Orion confided.  Apollo slapped him on the back.  “No, it’s not a Sídhe.  Medb’s not going to come out and scare you sleepless,” Apollo strode up to the house and knocked at the post.

“You know that’s quite a slur upon my family,” a tall, thin, young man with flowing white hair emerged from the hut.  Orion stared in fascination, for the man, clad in a long white tunic and soft white bratt, affixed with a bronze and amber torc and diadem, had a pair of Corsican antlers growing from his head.  Woad blue whirls and stripes marked his face and arms.  Apollo didn’t even blink at the strange man’s appearance.  Orion consoled himself, for there were cyclopsis and titans from his Great House’s division, so this really wasn’t as odd as he was making it out to be.  “The fair folk might be mischievous, but to call one of our greats a child and evil incarnate is rather reprehensible if you ask me,” the man stared Orion down.

“I’m sorry to have offended you, sir.  I am not familiar with this Great House and did not mean to have provided you with such a detestable introduction.  I am Orion, a hunter placed into the skies by Zeus’s hand,” Orion introduced himself as modestly as possible.

“I have heard of you, Orion.  My brethren have told me of your value,” the white haired man waved his hand out to show the meadow now quite covered in animal of various shapes and sizes.  Orion took a step back, startled.  He might be a hunter, but he knew when it was better to let the animal win.

“Apollo, son of Zeus, it has been a long time,” the man extended his hand in a warriors shake.

“Cernunnos, you are so evil,” Apollo grinned, gripping the man’s arm in return.

“I had to,” Cernunnos smiled.  “What brings you here to the fields of the dead?”

“Dead?” Orion gulped, glancing to Apollo.

“Hades doesn’t have a card on everyone, Orion,” laughed Apollo.  Orion gave up.  It was going to just be easier to keep quite and see what Apollo was up to.

“I’ve actually come because of an interesting phenomenon that you might have some explanation in,” Apollo confided.

“Please,” Cernunnos motioned to a dry fire pit and a series of low cut stools.  Apollo and Orion eased themselves into the surprisingly comfortable chairs.  “Continue,” prodded Cernunnos.

“We have in our care within the Greek’s Great House’s realm an injured woman that, how shall I put this?  Has an extremely high tolerance to mortal anesthetics.  We have gone through our books and do not have her documented as a demi.  I am honestly quite tempted to call in Hypnos to get her to sleep through her pain.  My brother is also bound to her through a du’la.  I wonder if you might have some information on her,” Apollo laid out the facts.

“A leaf?  I haven’t heard of one emerging in such a long time,” Cernunnos stared up at the misty sky.  Apollo sat patiently waiting.  The man might look to be in his 20’s, but truth be told he was older than the Greek’s by a millenium.  It was better to defer to his seniority.

“Describe this anomaly to me, Apollo,” Cernunnos prodded.  He closed his eyes, ready to listen.

“Tall, blonde, American,” Apollo generalized.

“A mutt?” Cernunnos supplied.

“She has the power of the Gaulish tongue, at least enough to command Hermes,” Apollo conferred.

“The du’la is on your half-brother?” Cernunnos looked back at Apollo, suddenly intent on the topic.  

“Do you know of the du’la?” Apollo asked.

“You had a du’la placed on you once by the great sorceress, Becuille, only to be freed from her side by the gray demons,” Cernunnos blinked, dodging the question, yet revealing that he knew of Apollo’s du’la.  Apollo shifted uncomfortably.  He was not fond of remembering his time with Becuille.  She had been brilliant, and difficult.  She had fought hard, only to have died in the end, fighting with all the vehemence that came with her clan.

“I know of every god that has been cast under a du’la to a great woman.  It is always a woman.  You have read our stories, have you not?” Cernunnos handed a worn copy of the Tuatha Dé Danann to the god.  Apollo could feel tears burning behind his eyes.  “A du’la has always been passed down within the clans.  Since the time Aerten made her deal with your Fates, we have always had a partnership,” The horned god stood up to pace to the edge of his working space in the yard.

“Have you ever had a case where one of these women were not mortal?” Orion asked.  Cernunnos looked over his shoulder, fixing the hunter with one burning blue eye.  “No,” he replied simply.  “And it is not my duty to elaborate upon Aerten’s bargain, nor your place to question your Fate,” he elaborated.

“If you aren’t going to be helpful, we’ll just have to tell Rosemerta to grin and bear it then,” Apollo waived for Orion to get up.

“Rosemerta?” Cernunnos gulped.  Apollo eyed Cernunnos.  “Yes?” he pressed the god.  “Her name is Rosemerta?  In what time was she found?” Cernunnos asked, walking back to the men.

“She came out of the 21st century by the Gregorian calendar,” Orion answered.

“May I humbly request entrance to your Realm to meet this girl?” Cernunnos rubbed his sweating palms against his tunic.  Apollo blinked.  This was unusual to have a god from a different realm requesting entrance to the Greeks’ Great Houses.  “If you have some ability to alleviate her symptoms, I would greatly appreciate it,” Apollo bowed to the god, opening up a shift.  “I am not Borvo, but all gods are versed at least in some minor pain relief,” Cernunnos tried to apologize early on.

Cernunnos followed behind Apollo and Orion into the Greeks’ realm.  He trailed after them down the halls of Apollo’s house to the infirmary.  Apollo knocked at the door and humbly waited for Hermes to open it.  He blinked in surprise at Cernunnos’s appearance, not used to seeing the god.  “Hermes,” Cernunnos bowed.  “Cernunnos,” Hermes bowed back, admitting him to the infirmary.  Rosemerta was laying back on one of the infirmary cots, her eyes closed, a thin sheen of sweat glimmering on her ashen face.

“What happened to the girl?” Cernunnos asked, pulling out a small, smooth wood bowl from amongst the folds of his clothing.  “A guy got her with a knife in the artery of her left leg.  She lost quite a bit of blood, but we were able to stabilize her.  She woke up about half an hour after surgery and honestly was dosed with enough meds to tranq a rhino.  I’m amazed she’s asleep at the moment,” Hermes supplied.

“Not really asleep, just don’t feel like seeing more weirdness at the moment,” mumbled Rose.  Apollo figured it was better for her that way.  Cernunnos could be unusual for someone who knew him.  A mortal would probably faint seeing him.

“You are named Rosemerta?” Cernunnos asked politely.

“Yes,” Rose answered, cringing at the use of her full name.

“I am Cernunnos, I am honored to meet you,” the man knelt down next to her bed, tipping his head down.  The skin on the back of Apollo’s neck crawled and Hermes could feel the skin on his arms raise.  It was almost unheard of for a god to kneel to a mortal.  Rose rolled her head on her pillow to look at the man at the side of her bed.  “You are beautiful,” she blinked, startled that she would say such a thing.

“Surely you jest my lady,” Cernunnos bowed deeper.  Hermes stepped back from the bed to join his brother at the doorway.  He looked at Apollo, questions awash on his face.  Apollo just blinked back at him, not really sure how to respond.

“Rosemerta, may I try to alleviate your pain in some small way?” he asked, holding up his wooden bowl for her inspection.  She looked at the strange murky blue paste.  “Try your best,” she rested her head back into her pillow.  He began a slow, methodical chant as he traced an Ailm onto her forehead, and an Arwen on both of her upper arms.  She could feel immediately her head clearing.  Though her leg still throbbed, it had been lessened to some degree.  This was ridiculous, how could some guy drawing pictures on her with blue mud actually be doing anything for her physical well being?  Then again, what guy actually had antlers growing out of his head?  She decided it was a waist of her energy to even ask.

During this process, Hermes was able to get a word in with Apollo.  “So, what’s Cernunnos doing here?” he asked.

“Athena didn’t have Rose written up as a demi, and Orion had a brilliant idea that she might be a demi from a different Realm, so we went to check with the Celtic Great Houses.  I wanted to see if he knew anything of the du’la too, which it looks like he does.  This is just weird though,” Apollo nodded at the god.

“What is she?” Hermes asked.

“I have no idea, but the way he’s treating her, she must have some importance to the Gauls,” replied Apollo.

“So, what am I supposed to do with her?” Hermes asked, still trying to gain some understanding of his position to the woman.

“I’m not really sure.  You are bound to her through the du’la but that’s only supposed to be a contract between mortals and gods.  If she is what I suspect she is, the du’la shouldn’t have worked,” he mumbled.

“Are you suspecting what I’m suspecting?” Hermes pressed.  He was relieved to see the tension in Rose’s face ease.  

“We will have to test her to find out.  So far, outside of Cern and her anesthesia snaffu, she hasn’t given us reason really to think that she could be a demi,” Apollo whispered.

“She’s not,” Cernunnos dropped into their conversation.

“Cernunnos?” Hermes asked.  Rose had drifted into a deep sleep within moments of the application of the Ailm.

“You have a fate.  I have seen it for myself.  To have her so many centuries out of date though is just odd.  She is why your Fates and Aerten made their deal of du’lai.  It was all for her,” Cernunnos brushed her hair back from her face, his finger tracing her cheek.

“How have you seen it and my scrying bowl was unable to read the future on her?” Apollo asked, confused.

“Her future is not in the coming century, but in centuries long since passed.  She shall return to her proper time, consort of Esus,” Cernunnos couldn’t bring himself to look away from her.

“Consort of…haven’t met him yet,” Apollo tilted his head, fascinated with Cernunnos’s fixation.  “He’s standing right next to you,” Cernunnos replied.  Apollo glanced at his brother.  “Since when were you a Gaul, Hermes?” Apollo asked, he could feel his head beginning to hurt and was wondering if Cernunnos’s magic blue mud could do tricks on him too.  Hermes shrugged, not entirely sure what to make of it either.

“I am Mercury as you are Phoebus.  I guess I am known as Esus in the Celtic’s Realm,” Hermes wandered over to Cernunnos.  “Cern, if she isn’t a demi, and just a plain mortal, is there any good reason for why Apollo’s bowl couldn’t scry her?  She’s not going to die here, for as you said, her time is still moving forward, just in a different century,” Hermes knelt down next to Cernunnos.  The god looked him in the eye, tears misting the pale blue.  “Cern?” Hermes asked, confused and nervous.

“She is no mortal, Hermes.  She is not a demi,” Cernunnos glanced back at the girl.

“You’re not saying…” Orion whispered.

“She is our long lost goddess, Rosemerta, finally resurrected.  The last I saw her was with Fortuna,” Cernunnos elaborated.

“A goddess…” Hermes breathed out.

“Resurrected?” Apollo whispered.

“I believe an explanation is in order,” Zeus was standing at the door.  All of the gods felt a slight chill run down their spine.  Even the Fates hadn’t explained their plan to Zeus…

I am a writer and artist working through the Kavordian Library series. I write sci-fi, fantasy, lgbt romance.

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