Nathan’s Private E-Journal October 6th, 2014 “I May Have Made A Mistake…” Part – II

     Ah, how I love the crisp night air on nights like this.  I think Fall and Winter have always been my two of my favorite seasons.  Long before my change I used to love these times of year.  Something about the cooler weather just made things easier on my achy body.  Of course back then no one had heard of Fibromyalgia, you were just considered “too delicate” or “a malingerer”.   But in those seasons, I just always felt more alert, more alive and still do.  Although now it may be partly the fact that since my body prefers evenings, the shorter hours of daylight probably plays a big part in things.

     In any case the cool air and the signs of autumn are helping lift my spirits tremendously.

     The barren branches of the trees seem to reach out as if to touch the starlit night sky.  There are a few clouds but not enough to mar the view of the moon or the stars.  Halloween is not far away, I hope the evening is like this so everyone can enjoy themselves trick or treating, or going to parties.  Perhaps I should open the manor to visitors?  Nah, too soon.  Although Richard’s done wonders with the place, but it’s not ready for visitors.  Or maybe it’s just me which is probably the case, since I’m using all this mental wandering to avoid the problem of Marisa hanging around the old locomotive, which happens to be exactly where I’m headed right now.

     How long has the old thing been there?  Even I’m not really sure.  We were a rail town long before the war started back in 1861 and trains were coming and going on such a regular basis, who’d have noticed if one engine never seemed to be moved?  I’ll have to ask Louisa the next time I see them.

     I can see her outline in the darkness up ahead.  One side of her is lit up from the distant glow of a streetlamp.  She’s always been impressive looking, in spite of all the rust and weathering from all the years of exposure to the elements.  She’s a fixture from another time and will in all likelihood continue to stand there for many decades to come.  Especially since there is no way to move her.  She’s anchored to that spot, just as I hinted to Marisa last night.

     That probably wasn’t one of my better moves, but she was so upset at the idea of the thing being haunted I had to come up with something more pleasant and intriguing.  Alas, that is part of my curse for having become a writer.  My mouth works faster than  my common sense some days.  Of course there are those who question whether I have any common sense at all, like Louisa.

     Oh the haranguing she’ll give me if the carnival shows up and finds Marisa hanging around one of their ‘anchors’ to this world.  That woman can have the sharpest tongue on her at times.  Hell, she could put a ginsu knife to shame when she wants to.  Not that I can blame her.  Like me she’s very protective of those in her carnival, and with good reason.  If anyone ever knew the true nature of any of the members of Karneval Schatten, or where they came from…

   Wow, I’m actually shuddering at the thought.   But who could blame me?  Our first adventure together was a terrifying one.  If it hadn’t been for Brandon Elliott and his great-grandson Peter, I don’t know if even I could’ve survived the fire that night.  Thanks to them, we all got out in one piece… well almost all of us.  Brandon stayed behind to keep that white-haired creep at bay, while Peter and I got the trapped employees, along with Louisa and her troupe, to safety.

     I tried to go back for Brandon but it was already too late.  The building had begun caving in on itself and the heat had become too intense even for me to mist through.  I felt like a failure that day, until I noticed young Peter, who was standing no more than a dozen feet away, talking to a man that everyone else seemed blissfully unaware of.  It took me a moment to recognize the figure as that of the man who had saved us all, only he was looking much younger.  I thought about going over to them, but just then the figure faded and Peter came over to me saying, “We have to get the others out of here.  There’s a train about a half a mile from here we can get them them on.  But it has to be soon, otherwise the opening will close and they’ll be caught again.”

     I started to ask why, only Louisa’s mother (also her namesake) joined us.  Having seen my abilities in action earlier, she begged me to help get those in her care back to their train.  Most were still exhausted from their imprisonment inside the depths of the factory, while others had been injured in our escape.  Having learned that many of them were, like my Sangui-Sapio half, were not from this Earth, I agreed.  Getting them to the safety of their conveyance had not been easy, but between my mist form and mind control we managed and saw them off.  That was the second time I’d seen a portal to a Para-Earth open, but the first time I saw one close.  However, it wasn’t the last.

    They’d asked me to come with them before they left, but I’d declined.  I’d only recently lost Madeleine my first wife, and our son Brian (who Lisa’s father is named after) was still in mourning and needed me.  So I remained behind, that time anyway.  But our paths crossed again and again, and always they’d bring me back here to this spot because it’s one of their an “anchor points”.  At least that’s what Otto and Louisa told me once, long ago.  In spite of all my travels with both Otto and my carnival friends, there’s still so much to learn about Para-Earths.  Lisa seems fascinated and would like to go with us on one of our jaunts, and one day I might take her.  But first I’ll introduce her to Louisa and company the next time they come calling.

     Whenever that will be.  I never know.  Sometimes they’ll come to town and stay a few days, while other times they’ll just show up in the middle of the night looking for me because my talents are needed.  They always seem to know where to find me, not that I mind.  I have many friends aboard that train.  I’m just not sure about Marisa encountering them unexpectedly.

     The Crypt will be open tomorrow night and I know the girls will be showing up, so I’ll talk to them then.  If worse comes to worse and Marisa insists on visiting the engine, I’ll make sure I’m on hand just in case the carnival suddenly decides to come to town at the wrong moment.

*And so ends this untold tale.  We hope you enjoyed this latest installment and that it piques your interest to learn more about the strange traveling carnival who will make their first full appearance in our upcoming anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At A Time”.  

And For those who have read the “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” this entry takes place the night before Marisa and Lisa are taken up to Nathan’s art studio, after Marisa’s little fight with another girl.  It in the studio that Marisa’s first suspicions about Nathan’s true nature form because of a dropped compact. 

Until next time, happy reading dear friends.*

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Nathan’s Private E-Journal October 6th, 2014 “I May Have Made a Mistake…”

*Today’s tale takes place during “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.  You may consider it an untold tale that happened shortly before the big showdown between Nathan and the Funus-Sorbere  (referred to as the Ghoul Slime in the story).  Yes we intend to start giving these life forms real names in “The Vampyre Blogs – Family Ties” novel.  For the record, the life form that transformed Nathan is referred to as Sangui-Sapio.  This story also serves as a little prelude to one of the tales in our upcoming anthology “TVB – One Day At A Time”.  So please sit back and enjoy.*

         As I sit here in my study, staring into a nice blaze in the fireplace, I think I may have made a huge mistake.

     All that encouragement I gave Marisa last night with the writing… what was I thinking?  But it’s probably too late now.  She seemed really fired up about the idea, especially with Lisa cheering her on.  Any sudden change in attitude on my part would only raise a bunch of questions and self doubts, which is the last thing she needs right now.  I gave her the idea about taking up writing to help keep her mind busy while we wait to hear back on her dad’s test results.  But now I can’t help thinking that there may be unforeseen consequences.

        Not that I don’t think she should try her hand at writing, I think she could probably become a very successful writer.  She has a very keen mind and I’ve looked over some of her papers when she and Lisa have done their homework at my place.  Her command of grammar and sentence structure would make any college professor weep for joy.  Believe me I would know, Otto used to give me no end of grief about my writing.  Mind you, I learned to write back in the 1850’s and 60’s and what was considered acceptable back then was quite another matter.  Furthermore, I went to war instead of college back then.  It wasn’t until 194- that I actually stepped into my first classroom and that was at a university.  And that was only after Otto spent a number several years bringing my skills and knowledge up to an acceptable level, while Para-Earth hopping.

       Otto… I wish he were here, he’d know how to advise me and not just because he’s at least a couple centuries older than me. Oh wait, that’s precisely why he’d know what to say right now.  Sigh.  My mind is all over the place tonight.  Between coming back home, finding out Isabella has been around all this time apparently waiting for me, helping Richard with his drug addiction, and having to keep my secret from Penny and Marisa… it’s a miracle I’ve still got my head on straight at all.

        I so want to see Isabella and talk to her, but as near as I can tell I shook her up pretty badly the night I attacked Richard.   I don’t want to make the same mistake with the others, especially Marisa.  She seems to have a deep dislike for anything vampire-like, which is strange because John told me in confidence they used to watch vampire films together all the time.  I wonder what changed?  Maybe Lisa can tell me, I’ll check with her.

      “Not that any of this helps me with my main problem,” I tell myself and get up.  Pacing around the room I find myself stopping to stare out the window.

     Evening has fully settled in, perhaps a walk might help me work through my little dilemma.  Yes, that sounds like a nice idea.  I always think better when I’m out and about on my own.  And then maybe I’ll come up with a good excuse to keep her away from the old locomotive on the edge of town…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Another Glimpse Into Our Upcoming Anthology

     *Update from Allan: Last week, while awaiting the arrival of a replacement laptop for me, our desktop computer gave up the ghost. This left us with just Helen’s laptop which she needs for college accounting courses. So our release date for “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At A Time” has been pushed back until “Twelfth Night” or January 5th, 2018. We chose this because with the holidays coming we will have a harder time getting things done like beta-reader testing, edits, artwork finished, cover art, and formatting the book. Furthermore, December is notoriously a bad time for independent authors to get much visibility due to the big publishing companies dominating advertising for the Christmas rush. 

     In the meantime, here is another sneak peek into the anthology. This installment is one  that I feel really shows off Helen’s skills in setting, mood, and storytelling. We hope you enjoy what you see and we’ll keep you posted on when pre-orders will be available. Happy reading everyone…

THE EYES UNDER THE SOFA

BY

HELEN KRUMMENACKER

     Tim was bored. It was another long summer day in a summer that was made ever longer by their move to a house in the country. He didn’t know any kids in the area, and even if he did, it wouldn’t make any difference because it was too far to walk anywhere if he didn’t tell his folks where he was going first. That was unfair. It was unfair, too, that they had moved in the first place. He couldn’t believe his folks actually thought he’d like it out here, where there was nothing for miles but rocks and trees, and stupid hick people, and dirt and snakes.

      Nothing happened out here. At least, nothing exciting. Back home (home was still the city, this was just the new house) there were games in the street, and rollerblading on the sidewalks. If you bladed fast and were quiet, you could go right past the old folks carrying home their groceries, and scream at the last minute so they’d get scared and drop them. And sometimes one of the older kids would get in a fight and get cool bandages. And you could hear fire engines and police sirens and ambulances.

      Out here all you ever heard was the wind in the trees. It didn’t even sound the same as wind did back home, gusty and thudding. It was like being at the ocean, all the noise dying into a murmur. He could hear himself breathe. He could probably hear Killer breathe.

      Killer was Tim’s cat. Killer was all black, so when he was in a dark place, all you ever saw were two shining eyes. He usually did hide in dark places, too, under furniture, so that he could reach out from underneath to attack passing ankles. There was a dangerous sort of energy in that cat, the strength, the obsession, the ruthlessness of an army compacted down into a twelve pound package– at least when he wasn’t curled up in a lap or taking a nap.

     If Tim could find Killer, they could play. Killer got bored out here, too. No more cockroaches to kill and carry around in his mouth. Not that he shouldn’t be able to find enough other disgusting little things to play with out here. But he hadn’t been himself since they moved a month ago. He was shying at corners, sniffing and bristling as he looked at empty spaces.

     Tim laughed. “Killer, are you afraid of the bogeyman? Didn’t you know mom and dad moved us out here ‘cause it’s safer?” Sure it was safer. Mom hadn’t liked it when he’d told her about the neat pistol Bobby had brought to school last May. But here the guys probably all had hunting rifles. “Killer, where are you?”

     Scuffling came from the family room. That was where all the comfortable furniture was, the stuff that had come with them from the city. The stuff in the living room was all ‘country’, which his mom liked and he would like to make kindling of. That was an idea, Tim told himself. We got a fireplace now.

     Tim went in search of the scuffling noise. Maybe Killer had found a rat. He could take it and put it where his mom would find it and maybe she’d be so grossed out they could move back home. Not likely.

    He could hear the noise more clearly. It was coming from under the big, fluffy sofa, and it was kind of a growl, repeated once in awhile, and a lot of scuffling and scratching. Yeah, Tim thought, Killer’s found a rat.

     Dropping to his knees, he bent down and twisted his head so he could look under the sofa. It was tricky, because the furniture was so low. He had to almost lie against the hardwood floor to do it. But under the couch were two big yellow eyes.

     “Killer,” Tim called, hesitating a moment. The eyes didn’t look real friendly. Of course, they wouldn’t– not if Killer was really going after something…

1st Sneak Peek Into Our Upcoming Anthology..

    The long wait to replace my now deceased laptop has unfortunately been extended due to circumstances beyond my control like, car registration, car repairs, books for my wife’s college classes, etc.  Luckily I am on vacation this week, or rather a ‘stay-cation’ and am working hard to get our upcoming anthology edited and ready for beta-reading.  We hope to have this process completed by the end of this month.
     In the meantime, with our time and resources being a little limited, we decided to offer the first sneak peek into the anthology itself.  We hope this peek will intrigue and delight you all, since it will be the first of several leading up to the day of the book’s release.
So without further ado, here is a snippet from the first of the twenty plus tales that will appear in the collection we call:  “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time”:

 

FROM THE DESK OF CAPTAIN BRIAN WESTON OF THE UNION ARMY – June 30th, 1863 

“A Letter To My Wife”

 

My Beloved Madeleine,

     I know you have been troubled by how distracted I seemed last we were together. I know I told you it was simply the weight of being responsible for not one but two companies of men. But with our division on the eve of what may possibly be the biggest battle we’ve faced to date, I feel it only right to explain myself in case I fail to return, especially with the approach of our firstborn mere months away. I want our baby to know that my thoughts were never far from home, nor was there a mistress or dalliance that had captured my heart. There has only been you and no other.

     Actually, it is an old friend, whose unexpected return one cold night in January, who has occupied so much of my mind. Of course, you will correctly surmise that I am referring to young Nathaniel Stewart. After believing him lost at Mary’s Heights, his sudden reappearance weeks later raised more than a few eyebrows and murmurings among the men. But then it became clear he had come back to us not as a deserter, but as a hero.

     Why did I not mention that last fact to you earlier? I have been under orders from the President himself to be remain silent on the matter, but with the war so unpredictable, and having recently just escaped death thanks to young Nathan, I feel it only right that you know everything.

      As I already indicated, it began early this year, January 2nd. Night had fallen and my men had already turned in for the night when a carriage arrived. It had been stopped at the gate and then sent right through, which is highly irregular. Even Colonel —-, had not been notified of the late arrival, nor was he summoned to the meeting that followed. Instead our late night visitors came straight to my quarters.

     Being a soldier, I am accustomed to being awoken at odd times, but upon seeing who my visitors were, I was so taken aback, I almost forgot to snap to attention. Discovering the President himself in your office wishing to speak to you, is not a position a mere captain is used to finding himself in. Even more shocking was finding a member of my company, and long time friend whom I believed had perished at Marye’s Heights, standing next to such our Commander in Chief.

     “Nathan?” I breathed, before finally remembering my place and greeted the President smartly.

    “At ease, Captain,” my superior instructed. “This meeting is of course not a social call, but a matter of great delicacy. It will help decide the fate of this young man.”

     My legs nearly failed me. Seeing Nathan alive after nearly a month’s unexplained absence, I had feared that I would have to brand him a coward and order a firing squad come morning.

     You know of course from long habit that in spite of the almost decade difference in our ages, I look upon Nathan as a younger brother. Perhaps, it was losing my own sibling, that I sought to fill the gap in my life created by his passing and Nathan was a good fit. Plus it was because of me he was able to join our company, in spite of his young age and sometimes questionable health.  So you can understand how the very thought of having to order his execution for desertion clutched my heart with an icy vengeance…

Notice From One of the Authors…

For anyone wondering why I haven’t posted much lately, three weeks ago my portable laptop became too unreliable to trust with writing.  First the tabs I had open kept crashing on me so I couldn’t even keep one open.  

Around the same time  it insisted my flash drive stick had errors only to scan it and find it clean. Then another area of the hard drive crashed which led to me to believe I could not risk my stories with it.   As a result of all this, the laptop has been declared deceased and I am without any computer to use at work where I’ve done most of my weekly writing.

Now, I still have my desktop at home, but my daily commute (round trip) is between 2-3 hours which means I’m not in much of a writing mood when I finally get back after a long day at work.  Once I get home, I wish to spend time with my honey more than anything, plus I’m pretty tired.

In good news, I will have a new laptop in another 2-3 weeks .  So until then my writing and online availability will be more limited. I’ll see you all when I can until then. In the meantime be well and I’ll pop in when I can. 

While you’re waiting to see more here, please take comfort in knowing that what little computer time I’ve had has not been wasted.  Helen and I have been very busy on getting ” The Vampyre Blogs – One Day at a Time” ready for release on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.  This anthology has grown to 25 stories (a third of which are “All-New” never before seen tales that were created just for this collection).  While Nathan appears in over half of the tales, not all of them focus on our favorite vampyre.  Helen and I see The Vampyre Blogs as an ensemble piece so you’ll be getting stories involving Otto, Lisa, Marisa and others who’ve appeared not only in the vampyre books, but also other books in the Para-Earth Series.

So please stay tuned and know that more new stories will be appearing here again soon.   And thank you all for your patience and support.

ANNOUNCEMENT – COMING THIS NOVEMBER THE FIRST “VAMPYRE BLOGS ANTHOLOGY” AND OTHER NEWS…

With the completion of Nathan and Otto’s rather lengthy adventure with the Unicorns and Terror Raptors, I thought now might be a good time to let you all know that Helen and I have been hard at work on a brand new Vampyre Blogs book. This volume is set to be released just after this coming Thanksgiving, so you only have to wait another four months to get your hands on this latest installment of the Para-Earth Series.

However… unlike the first book, this one will be an anthology instead of a novel. We will be taking select entries from this nearly four year old blog site to be included in the anthology. Now you may be asking yourself, why put a bunch of stories that are available online into a collection? Well, I’d been getting some e-mails and messages on Facebook, that newcomers to the site telling us that they loved Nathan and company, but found scrolling through so many pages to get to the earlier stories was a bit tedious to say the least.

Upon repeatedly hearing this, Helen and I went over the site and found that had created almost fifty different stories. And while some of them were short, others were so long that they could have anywhere from two to six separate entries to tell entire tale.

While going over some of the earlier and more recent entries, I also began to notice some glaring problems that had been overlooked when they were originally published. This was the direct result of the fact that all of the stories in this blog were basically 1st drafts. Meaning of course they were not fully edited so the ‘occasional’ (massive understatement) misspelling or less-then-perfect punctuations appear in a number of them.

However I can tell you now that all the stories going into the anthology will be getting edited and have a few tweeks made to them for better clarity of reading. Also, the stories will be put in a chronological order. This means they will appear in the anthology by according to when the character telling the tale originally wrote/experienced the adventure. Furthermore, some adjustments being made to some of the stories to create a more smooth timeline for who met who when.

The purpose of doing these ‘adjustments’ is so that the readers can have a better idea of how each of these life events shaped the characters’ personalities before they appear in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.

And as they say on television…

 

Both Helen and I agreed right off the bat that any anthology we created needed to have new never-before seen tales in it. In this case, out of the 23-24 stories we currently have lined up for the anthology, six to seven (about a third) of the stories are completely NEW and will not be appearing on this site. Several of these new tales involve Nathan’s ‘long-time’ Otto, aka “The Professor”, who made his debut in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”. Both his introduction in the novel and his comment, “Apparently, I am am made of NOPE…” have caught the imagination of our readers who have been clamoring for more details on this strange man who Nathan looks up to as a mentor, as well as friend.

Also, since Helen and I are both artists, we are going to try and add some original pen and ink artwork to a number of the stories. We will also be placing either an Intro or an Afterthought to each tale explaining either how the story came to be.

We are also planning more anthologies for the future, not only for the Vampyre Blogs, but also the rest of the characters appearing in Para-Earth Series such as: Alex Hill, Veronica Ross (who along with her boss Roy Petersen – appear in two of the tales in this anthology) and their friends…

Our goal is to release “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day at a Time” on Black Friday or Cyber Monday at the latest, so add it to your holiday wish list, or think about someone you know who’d love a good read on those cold winter nights.

Finally, we are also exploring another avenue with the Para-Earths namely… AUDIOBOOKS!  We’ve had a number of people asking us if and when we’d make the books available in that form.  So currently we are looking into that area and will be providing updates soon.  With we might even have a couple of short stories in audio form for free, to be released just in time for the holidays so we can get some feedback from all of you.

With all that said you can see we have a lot of plans for both The Vampyre Blogs and the rest of the Para-Earth Series in the works.  But have no fears, new stories will still be appearing here as well.  So stay with us and please help spread the word about Nathan, his friends, and the rest of the Para-Earth Series.  The fun has just begun…

Amazon US:

https://www.amazon.com/Allan-Krummenacker/e/B00B1W8TEU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1501360496&sr=8-1

Amazon.UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Allan-Krummenacker/e/B00B1W8TEU/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Barnes and Noble:

 https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/allan+krummenacker?_requestid=724422

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/1383

Nathan’s Private E-Journal – February 16, 2014 “My Odd Valentine’s Day Adventure” Part – Conclusion

terrorBirdsNotice

         At the sight of the Terror Raptor’s return, with reinforcements, mom got right to her feet and took a protective stance over her foal.  The movement caught Don’s eye and his trigger finger began to tighten until he saw it was her and not me.  “Tell her to stay still!” he shouted, keeping the business end of his gun pointed at me.

       Obviously, he had figured out that I had some influence over my charges.  At that same moment, my ‘moles’ broke ground.  Immediately, I had several of them leap up inside the legs of his thick snow pants.  I was mindful to have them cling to the inside of the fabric instead of his leg, to avoid startling him into accidentally firing.

      Meanwhile, I gestured for Momma to calm down, while keeping an eye on our two sets of ‘friends’.  The raptors were silently closing the distance between us.  It was amazing how such huge creatures could move so stealthily.

        However, Eric must’ve sensed something was wrong because he turned and froze for a second.  Then he quietly backed up towards his brother muttering, “Donnie… Don… oh Don…”

         Immediately I thought of Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein, only this was real life and clearly lacked the true comedic timing of those great men.  Still, it was pretty funny, in an unnerving kind of way.

       “What?” snarled his brother, refusing to tear his eyes away from us for even a second, “I’m trying to keep these three…”

       Eric was right next to him, but too terrified to speak.  Instead he grabbed his brother’s shoulder and spun him around to face the approaching danger.

       Immediately, I had my ‘moles’ sink their teeth into both brothers’ legs.  Within the space between seconds I saw into both their minds and tried to wipe all thoughts and memories of having seen the two unicorns from their memories. Now they should only remember my original lie of meeting a Norwegian farmer who had been looking for a lost pregnant horse and that we were under attack from wolves and they had the only weapons.

       Unfortunately, wolves are a lot lower to the ground than our opponents, which meant my two mind-slaves they aimed their guns a lot lower than I needed them to be when they opened fire.

       Their first volley wound up hitting the snow at the birds’ feet, which was effective enough to alarm them into scattering in a wide loop around and past us.  Eventually they regrouped some fifty yards away at the edge of the woods.  Eyeing us warily, the largest of the three glanced at his compatriots and then in unison they let loose with a threatening cry.  It was the same cry that had thrown me before, only this time it was in triple stereo.

       Luckily, I had seen what was coming and managed to close my ears up completely, but my charges, and our ‘protectors’, were not so fortunate.  All of them began to struggle just to keep their balance, while our opponents seized their chance.  The sound also broke my hold on the brothers’ minds and once more they could see things as they were.  But instead of raising their guns, the pair dropped their weapons and dove for cover behind a nearby fallen tree.  This left mom, foal and me as the only targets for the birds who ceased their vocal assault and began racing straight towards us at an alarming speed.

        Immediately I stopped protecting my ears, while my mind raced for to figure out the best way to protect everyone, when I realized the sound of the birds approach sounded more like hoofbeats.  Which of course made no sense whatsoever.

        Just then I noticed the mare tossing her head as she glanced towards the spot where the portal to her world stood.  From the oddly bright patch burst forth a long, stripped… branch hovering in the air?  As I stood there staring, the branch seemed to stretch to a good feet length and was still growing when a horn, attached to a night-black unicorn’s head emerged through opening, followed by the animal’s body.

       As magnificent and welcome a sight as the beast was, the figure sitting astride its back holding the make-shift lance was even more impressive.  Otto looked taller and more commanding than I’d ever seen him before.  Mind you this was not simply because of the elevation from his being seated on such a magnificent animal, but his posture was erect, and his face was stern and determined in a way I’ve rarely seen.

       As he caught sight of the Terror Raptors, my old friend cried out, “For God and Charlemagne!” Then bending forward, he wrapped his left arm around the unicorn and braced the huge branch he was holding as a weapon.   For a second I had to wonder to myself how many times he had uttered that particular battle cry.  To this day I have no idea how much older Otto is than me, and he’s always telling me, “I’ve given you enough hints over the decades, you should’ve figured it by now.  Don’t you like puzzles?”

       Meanwhile, to my surprise, a second unicorn appeared through the unseen entry.  This one was followed by yet another.  I quickly realized that Otto had not only shown up in the nick of time, but that he was bringing a small cavalry with him.

Now all of this took place within seconds, with a fourth unicorn arriving just as Otto and his steed leapt over me and my two charges.

       The Terror Raptors swiveled aside upon seeing the approaching threat, but two of them collided with each other slowing their evasion tactics, long enough for my friend’s make-shift lance to catch one of them in the side of the neck.  The bird squawked and stumbled from the blow, while crashing into its companion yet again and nearly tripping him up.  Alas, only one of them went down while the other struggled to stay upright, but at least it veered away from momma, baby and me.  Which was wise, since the fourth unicorn took up a protective stance in front of the three of us.  He too was a formidable beast, who pawed the ground in a very protective manner.

       This left only the last of the trio who was now confronted by at least two of the unicorns Otto had brought with him.  Both were impressive specimens, powerful, determined, and fearsome all at the same time. The pair shot past me as they raced to intercept the last of the raptors who had not been involved in the collision.  This one, the largest of the three, had taken advantage of Otto’s breaking up their original charge to try and outflank us.  Only now he found himself facing the formidable unicorn team who were galloping at him with horns lowered.

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        Seeing the danger the Terror Raptor changed course once more and veered to the left allowing it to pass through the opening through which it had entered.  He was followed moments later by his one of his compatriots who was desperately trying to outrun Otto’s lance.

         To my surprise, Otto his steed, and the pair of unicorns, who had come to the aid of me and my charges, halted before the portal instead of passing through.  But no sooner had I started to wonder why they’d ended their pursuit a pair of terrifying cries erupted through the opening, which had no doubt come from the same throats I’d heard earlier.  Only this time, instead of sounding threatening, the sounds were that of terror and pain.

         Once again my sharp ears caught the sound of snorting and stomping coming from a large group of enraged equines.  Obviously, Otto had kept more unicorns in reserve on the other side of the portal.

        Before my imagination could form an image of what was probably happening, a similar scene began to unfold much closer to me.  The Terror Raptor that had fallen from the collision struggled to its feet and tried to make a sneak attack from behind on the black steed my friend was still astride.  But before I could cry out a warning, the great stallion reared and then planted both front hooves on the ground, while unleashing a mighty kick with his hind legs.

        The blow caught the menacing fowl under the chin sending the would-be attacker head over talons several feet away.  Before the raptor could even try to recover, the remaining unicorns were upon him, kicking savagely until the bird ceased to move.

        As I stared in shock, Otto drew up next to me saying, “Nature has its ways. These birds are quite dangerous predators and the unicorns cannot have them be a threat to their families. Homo sapiens would have been no more gentle with a pride of lions attacking a newborn and mother. Their battle plays by their rules. I imagine with time the birds will learn to be more wary of the unicorns and the ones who do will not be hunted.” Here he paused to stroke the mane of the unicorn he had been riding and added with a smile, “They have ways of communicating, even beyond their species.”

        Before I could comment, I watched as the black stallion moved towards mother and foal who greeted him in a manner I could only describe as more than friendly.  Nodding to myself I thought, ‘Yup, he was definitely worth it.’

        Meanwhile, Otto dismounted. “Don’t you think we should give them a moment?” he said.

     Nodding I turned away and then realized there was no sign of the Ding-a-Ling brothers.  In fact, neither one had reappeared from behind the fallen tree I had last seen them diving behind.  There was however some growling accompanied by yelps.

        Otto raised an eyebrow. “Is there something else I should know about here?”

      Unable to resist a smile I answered, “Well, I did have some other visitors show up while you were gone and…”

      At that point Don and Eric popped up from behind the dead tree, screaming loudly and looking more and a little worse for wear.  Their nice thick winter garments were now partly in tatters and covered in all kinds of filth.  Both were screaming their heads off and whirling around like a pair of lunatics.  As they spun Otto and I saw the source of their unusual condition… a very grumpy wolverine had attached itself to Don’s back.  Apparently it had not appreciated their unwelcome intrusion into its den located beneath the fallen tree.

      “Tsk. Evidently they entered without knocking. They must not have seen the ‘No Soliciting’ sign. But perhaps you can calm our mustilidae friend down before one of them does him a mischief?”

wolverine

         “Agreed,” I said and unleashed some of my mist.  Within seconds it reached the wolverine who quickly it released its hold on Don and scurried over to me and Otto.  Then, using my ‘moles’ I put both brothers to sleep, while ‘accidentally’ forgetting to make them lie down first.  Unfortunately, with this latest trauma their minds had recovered somewhat from the altered memories.  I quickly informed Otto of the problem and he took it from there.

        After ordering me to hide our friends and myself behind a wall of fog which I promptly did.  Then he stepped over to the brothers and began slapping each one of them on both cheeks, while yelling at them in Swedish to wake up.

            “Knock it off, man,” said Eric after a few more slaps.

            “Oh, English. You speak English. You fell asleep out here. You are terribly ill. You look like you have snow shock!”

            “Snow shock?”

            “It is like heat stroke… but different. You fall asleep in the cold and your mind plays terrible tricks on you.”

            “You mean that horse wasn’t real?”

            “In this wilderness. No, no horses.”

            “Or the… weird ostrich?” said Donnie.

            “Ostriches in Sweden?” Otto shook his head and tsked. “You have it bad. Here, you must drink this to warm you up!” He pulled out a flask of vodka and poured some into Don’s mouth. “You, too,” he turned his attention to Eric. I could see through the mist, since it was my own creation, and noted how my friend spilled some of the vodka on their clothes, while still getting a few ounces down their throats.  ‘Oh they are going to smell like a distillery,’ I thought with a smile.

            As we watched, Otto then pulled each of the brother’s to their feet saying, “I can get you on a train soon and back into town. It’s a matter of safety, you should see a doctor as soon as you get there.”

         “How do you know all about snow shock, anyway?” asked Don, who seemed marginally smarter than his brother.

            “I am a Fjord Ranger,” Otto bluffed.

            Eric said, “My sister used to drive one of those.”

           I smiled inwardly, knowing that neither that, nor the snow shock story, would hold up once the boys talked to anyone.  But of course Otto didn’t expect it to.  He was simply doing his usual thing of bamboozling people long enough to get them out of the way.

         As he led the two brothers away from the rest of us and back down the hill, I glanced over at the only remaining evidence, of what had truly transpired, namely the carcass of the Terror Raptor.

        The sound of our new wolverine friend snuffling around at my feet gave me an idea.  “I guess you wouldn’t mind having a nice cache of bird meat under the snow, would you, Stripy?” I asked him.

        Since my mists were still inside him, he readily understood my thoughts if not my words, as he became very excited.  A second later he scurried back to the log and within a few seconds reappeared with a female and two white kits.  As Otto later informed me, usually the male does not hang around after mating with several females, but they do visit.  So apparently, the brothers had caught him during a family visit which had really made him annoyed.

        The kits from what I could see had only recently opened their eyes and after a quick look around scurried back into the den while mom and dad headed for the carcass.  By the time Otto returned, I had been permitted to swipe a drumstick from our former foe, for our dinner.  When morning came, there was no sign of the raptor having ever entered our world.  Even a thin layer of snow covered any remaining blood stains on the ground.

       It was another day or two before we took our leave.  For one thing we wanted to make sure no other Terror Raptors appeared, which they did not.  The second reason we stayed was so Otto could explore the other side of the opening a bit more.  I joined him when night fell on the other side and… well that’s a story for another time.

hand white horse

       In the end, we finally said goodbye to our unicorn friends, who it turned out were telepathic as Otto informed me.  This of course was the real reason why Mama came to me for help in the first place.  She’d sensed the kind of person I was and knew I’d do my best to keep her and the little one safe.  She and her mate also picked up on a little wish of mine which they both kindly acquiesced to.              And what was that wish?  A lock of hair from each of their manes, which is how I will make nice with Lisa who is a tremendous Harry Potter fan.  According to the books, unicorn hair makes a wonderful core to a wand.

       “So, am I clever or not?” I asked my audience of one.

       Alas I received no answer, because little Geoffrey who I had been telling this story to had fallen asleep shortly after I had begun my recitation.  But that’s what happens when you tell an eighteen month old a long story.

       Luckily, my tale was not wasted.  As I suspected would happen, Lisa was listening in from the open doorway.  She’d given me the cold shoulder routine the whole evening, but had obviously been attracted to my storytelling, as well as watching what I was doing.   Especially when I held up the two locks of unicorn hair, one white, the other golden.

       In the next instant found myself feeling like Wile E. Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon.  A black-haired blur shot into the room gave me a peck on the cheek followed by words, “Okay you’re forgiven,” and vanished again leaving me empty-handed and alone with little Geoffrey once more.

     Glancing at the sleeping boy, I tucked a blanket around him and quietly exited the room. But no before allowing a little of my mist to escape from my sleeve so he could have some wondrous dreams about unicorns.