Valiant: Knock Knock…The Sandman…The Gift…Part 1…

A Circle of Light and dancing lines,
The light to guide the way…
Then down through the stars
A fractured line re-aligns, and All worlds
Fold into this one…to tell a story.

1539 Nuremburg, Germany
In a small farming village just outside
Of the city.

A small caravan of six covered,
Box-like wagons made its way through

The German countryside under twilight
As a full moon rose in a stormy sky.
But there was something strange and
Different about this April moon as
It shined brightly in that early Spring.
It was bigger than normal and cast
An ominous color tinted a shade of
Red, a blood moon.

Villagers had seen this caravan before.
They were travelers, swarthy-looking
Foreigners from the South,
Seeking change and trade. Few knew
Them very well as they kept mainly
To themselves, inspiring rumors and
Gossip this way…it was far easier
To gossip than ask; it was a
Modern world then. The Strangers
Traded exotic merchandise from
Distant lands acquired on their
Journey…and entertained locals
Wherever they went with mystic charms
And fortune telling. Some called
Them trouble makers as they were
Rather head strong and camped
Where they wanted, rather rudely…
But others saw them as free spirits
Chasing opportunity, but more or
Less, they became known as gypsies.

Baja, the leader of his brothers and
Cousins and their families led the
Caravan…and parked it in an open
Meadow of a goat farmer, (he did
Not know) then set up a circled
Camp and fire pit as the moon
Grew higher and redder in the night
Sky. His family whispered and
Gawked at the sight…something
Strange was in the air. Signs and
Senses were highly important to
His people, they paid attention to
Everything.

Baja’s wife Raya was the mystic,
And midwife…well known to her
People as being the most gifted
Fortune teller and seer. She read
Palms, and tea leaves…and patterns,
And knew the secret arts of the
Far east…of sacred lines and
Geometry, the ways of seasons and
The stars…and of nature. Frauds
Hated her, because they could not lie
To her…which made Baja a very
Proud husband!

As the men set up camp, and
The children ran and played, the
Wives prepared meals and laundry
And beds. The ways of men and
Women were tedious then, but oddly
Comforting for them. Raya and her
Eldest daughter Mira sat cozily
In their covered wagon, at a small
Table where they opened boxes of
Cards and stones and runes to
Read. The blood moon had Raya
Anxious.

“Tell me, Mother,” Mira, her sweet
Olive-skinned daughter asked as she
Pulled her long dark hair loose
From braids to admire it. “What
Do you see in the moon tonight?
Is it a darkness, is it a warning?”

“No,” Raya said, as she stared into
A large yellowish oval crystal;
A rare large Beryl, her favorite.
“Something special this night, not
Dark…” She gazed deep with
Big painted eyes into the crystal,
Her mind was feverishly wild and
Grew more excited. “Someone is
Coming.”

“Who?” Mira paused, staring at her.

“I see a man, a tall man,” Raya
Answered almost in a trance… “I
Can’t see his face, but he is pale
Like the locals…but he is not of
Them…He is a traveler like us, but
He is not like us…”

“Tall?” Mira laughed. “He is clearly
Not a local then…All the men here
Are so short.”

Raya stared further into the crystal,
Then rose and moved to leave the
Wagon. “I must go now.”

“Where are you going now?” Mira asked.
“What about the meal?”

But Raya said nothing and only
Continued to climb out of the wagon
To seemingly wander off in the
Direction of the nearby woods. Mira
Knew better than to disturb her
Mother, she was consumed by a
Vision. Then Raya went and
Stood between two towering fir trees
Staring up intently into the dark
Branches…an owl cried out. She
Turned sharply back with her eyes
To the moon, waiting.

Minutes passed, and she stood calmly
Waiting…staring at the moon; it was
Quite red now. Every sight and sound
Caught her ears no matter how dark
It was. There was absolutely no
Sign of anything nearby…
Nothing. Then suddenly…

“Hello…” A very calm but strong man’s
Voice said from behind her.

She turned to the woods. There,
Maybe twelve feet away stood
This very tall built man in dark
Clothes staring at her. He was
Pale, handsome with chiseled features,
With light hair and eyes…
An expression on his face that
Was confident, yet kind, fearless
And powerful. “I saw you coming.”
Raya said.

“I thought you might.” He calmly
Answered.

His words were perfect to her language,
No accent. But…she couldn’t be sure
In the dark, did his lips move? His
Clothes were like nothing she
Had ever seen, the tailoring…even
In the night they appeared so sharply
Made. The sight of his stance, his
Attire made her shiver slightly.

“Do not be afraid.” He said.
“I’ve just come to ask you
Something.”

What could a man like this ask?
She wondered. He had to be some
Wealthy landowner, a royal perhaps,
A prince maybe? “What could you
Ask of me? Who are you?”

“They call me Apollo.” He smiled
Very proudly, almost with a laugh. “It
Is just a small thing I have to ask.”

Raya tilted her head at him. The
More she stood with him the more
Intensely her senses worked. (And he
Wouldn’t allow that for long) Her skin
Tingled…her mind began to race;
And race…and race. This man was
Different, yes, this man was VERY
DIFFERENT. Yes, FEW would ever see
This man. “Where do you come from?”
She dared to ask.

Apollo smiled slowly, staring
Strongly at her…then he raised
His right arm up and pointed
To the sky, to the stars.

Raya froze and gasped. Stunned.
She knew he wasn’t lying. She
Just knew, there was no doubt,
None at all.

“Do you see that star?” Apollo
Said pointing near the moon. “The
Small one there, blinking?” And
As he pointed and she watched, the
Star began to move. “That is
Where I come from…”

Raya nearly choked at his words…
At the gesture, at the sight of
The star moving slowly across the sky.
“How did you do that?”

Apollo just kept smiling with a simple
Laugh. “It doesn’t matter.” He put his
Arm down and began to walk
Around her in a circle. “That’s all
You need to see and hear.”

Raya nodded. Yes, that was more
Than enough. This was definitely
One of her most overwhelming
Experiences; the most ever.
“What do you have to ask?”

Apollo paused beside her, stared at
The moon and then to her. “Tomorrow
A young woman from the village
Will come to you with a friend…
Her name is Anna Frikova…I
Want you to tell her YES.”

“Yes?” Raya asked with nearly a laugh.
“That is all? That is all you
Have to ask me?”

“Yes, that’s all?” Apollo said still smiling.

“You would ask me nothing else?” Raya
Asked strangely.

“You will understand why.” Apollo
Said.

“But why would you ask me such
A simple thing?” Raya replied.
“Surely I could have done
That on my own.”

“You would not have done this
Had I not asked.” Apollo said.
“Had I not come, you would have
Not been willing to see her tomorrow.
Now you will. And now you will
Tell her Yes.”

“Because then tomorrow If I had
Not seen you…” Raya understood.
“I would have turned her away.”

“Yes.” Apollo said…He nodded, she
Understood.

“You made this great effort
For such a small thing…” Raya
Said with wonder… “It is that
Important?”

“Often times it is the smallest thing
Which matters most.” Apollo said.
“Do you understand the message
Here…in regards to things?”

Raya nodded once, a noble smile. “Yes
I do.”

Apollo smiled, very content, at her. “Good
Then. Thank you.” Then he began to walk
Away into the dark woods…very casually
As if nothing bothered him at all.

“Wait.” Raya called to him. “Am I
Allowed to ask…”

“Things have to happen for a reason.” Apollo
Said as he paused, but he only slightly
Turned his head back to her. “There is
Not always an explanation offered…”

“Will I…” She began to ask.

“This is your part. That is all.” Apollo
Said. He did not apologize.

Then Raya calmly nodded, though her
Mind was working wildly…she understood
The nature of thing as a seer, as
A fortune teller… Sometimes the
More you explain, it creates too much
Unnecessary reaction. She knew the
Way to speak carefully.

Apollo thought for a moment, then looked
Down and sighed. “Time is a mysterious
Thing…There is often more hope in not
Knowing…”

Raya nodded humbly. “So true.”

“In about 500 years…” Apollo reluctantly
Told her… “A balance will be precious.”

Then before she could raise her eyes
To him…The mystery man seemed to
Take one step into the woods and
Vanish.

Raya returned to the camp, to her
Wagon and withdrew from everyone that
Night. She did not eat, she did not
Gaze into crystals or read the cards
Or runes…She simply went to bed
And quietly laid there thinking and
Barely slept.

The following day, she awoke, achy but
Active. But the camp was chaotic.
The children were overactive and loud.
The men were grumpy and overate…
Late to do chores…The women moved
Slowly and talked too much…Things
Seemed off, it was one of those days.
But Raya was very much alert.

As the day progressed, things only grew
More hectic. Everyone was sloppy with chores,
The horses got loose and ran off.
The dogs got into a terrible fight
And bit one of the small children…
And her nephew ruined all of his
Fathers weed for smoking and
Infuriated everyone; well, all the adults.
By nightfall, no one was in the
Mood to do anything but relax…
And yet, the locals came. The
Villagers had caught sight
Of their wagons the day before
And gossip spread fast; gossip always
Spread fast.

The young people came first to their
Circle wagons…requesting
Fortunes. And when the men turned them
Away, the teenagers grew angry
And nasty…making demands or
Else. They were called names, liars,
Thieves…selfish, evil…all for turning
Them away. A hostile relationship
Began to grow this way. And the gypsies
Started cursing the Germans for behaving
So rudely, and more rumors spread;
Guess who they believed.

Baja was the most irate, he was a
Very outspoken man and did not
Hesitate to share his opinions. He
Did not care what the locals assumed
Or expected…his people did NOT have
To entertain anyone for their whims.

And Mira was much like her father,
She spat some foul words here and
There…especially at the village girls.
She did not mind, however, flirting
With and teasing the boys.

But Raya remembered
The mysterious stranger and his words
All too well…she kept watch for
Two young women to appear; she just
Knew they couldn’t have been the
Young teenagers, she just knew. And
When finally, a pair of shy village
Women did appear…whispering
Nervously to each other as they
Approached the gypsy wagons…She
Took a deep breath and moved to
Intercept her husband before he
Dismissed them or said anything
Harsh.

Mira sneered and tried to sway her
Mother from seeing them. “Mother, why
Do you wish to see them? You know
All they ever want is the same
Thing…Who will I marry? Will
He be the one I want…will I
Be rich? That’s all they ever ask!”
It was the modern world, Mira had
Seen and heard it all in her young
Life in her travels; the 1500s were
So promising.

Raya just patted her daughter with
A laugh. “Let me decide please. It’s
My time to waste or not.” So, Mira rolled
Her eyes and went to steal some wine
And smoke with her father and uncles.

The two shy young village women
Froze at the sight of this worldly
Exotic looking middle-aged woman
Who approached them…with her painted
Eyes and shiny jewelry and fancy colored
Dress. The woman showed her upper chest in
Public and wore ear rings-they had
Never seen such boldness! They huddled
Together holding hands and whispered
To each other if they should run.

Raya stopped before them and eyed
Them both back and forth carefully.
One was big-eyed and made strange
Expressions…as if to say…I came
Here by accident on purpose…The
Other was very pretty but kept her
Eyes low and moved slow. So sweet
And kind, the softest way about her;
That had to be Anna. Raya smiled
At them both, then focused on the
Shyer one with the blond hair pulled
Back so tightly from her face. “Hello Anna.”

The girls looked at each other in
Shock and shook. Their jaws dropped,
Wordless! How? These people really
Were mystical! “You know us?” Anna’s
Friend with the curly brown hair asked, hopeful.
“I knew you would come.” Raya said
Trying to seem mysterious. Inside
However, she was nervous and so curious
At the same time. “Please come to my wagon,
And we can sit and talk for a while. Alright?”

The girls nodded with growing excitement
And followed the exotic woman to the
Rear of her covered wagon and they
Each climbed the steps in. Raya
Waved for them to sit at the little
Wooden stools around her tiny round
Table with a thick yellowish candle
Lit on it. “Please,” Raya told them
Gently, “Just breathe and be calm. It
Is better that we should talk that way,
As friends. Do you see?” She took
Out her favorite large crystal, the
Yellow Beryl, and set it on the table
Before them. She wanted to know as
Much as possible, and this crystal was
Her best to use.

“Can you really see the future?” The
Big bright-eyed girl with the curly brown
Hair, in the green dress, asked
Fast, with hope.

“Marta, please…” Anna said quietly
To her friend, “Don’t be so pushy.”

“Oh Anna, Stop!” Marta told her, “You’re
Already engaged to be married this month.
It’s my turn, it’s about me.” She turned
Fast to the gypsy woman. “Please can
You tell me…Will I be married soon?
Will he be handsome? Will he be very
Rich? Will it be Frederic, the blacksmith’s
Son? He is very handsome. I want a
Handsome husband to love me. But I
Want a rich husband too. To love
Me. I need these things. These
Things are very important. I do
Not want some husband like Ollie,
The pig farmer. He is awful. All the
Girls will laugh at me.”

“Marta!” Anna exclaimed. “So rude
To say that! Ollie is a nice man.”

“But you are already engaged Anna.”
Marta whined. “It is my turn now.
Mine! Edith and Mila are married.
I need a husband now. Can you
Tell me,” Marta begged to the gypsy
Woman, “Can you find me a rich
Husband? Can you make him love me?”

“Marta!” Anna pleaded with her friend
In disbelief, how bad it must have
Looked.

“Oh Please,” Marta begged. “Just tell me.
Men are stupid. How can I get a rich
Man to love me?”

Raya tried to keep a calm sincere
Kind expression; however impossible
It was. “Marta…just be calm.
You know men are not that stupid,
They notice things. I’m sure you
Will have a good husband, just calm
Down.”

“But I’m a wonderful person.” Marta
Said. “I have lots to offer. I want a
Rich husband. I need one now.”

“We will see. OK?” Raya told her.

“Oh, you know! Please just tell me!”
Marta insisted.

“Let me look…” Raya said gazing
Into her crystal… “I see…Anna…”

“Anna?” Marta grew anxious and angry.
“No, me…why Anna? She has a husband.”

“Marta!” Anna begged.

“No!” Marta shouted. “It’s my turn!”
Then she cried and stormed out.

“I am so sorry.” Anna said to the
Gypsy woman. “Please understand,
She is not normally like that.”

Raya smiled, that was hard to imagine.
“I would have talked to her had
She been calmer…”

“She really wants a husband badly.”
Anna explained.

“She has to be calmer. In times like that,
It is better for both to wait.” Raya
Then explained. “There are many reasons
To find a husband Anna…But you
Found one…or rather, you found each
Other.”

“Yes, Helmut was very sweet.”
Anna said quietly with a warm
Smile. “I was surprised but
Happy.”

“The best attitude about love…is just
To know.” Raya told her. “Don’t push things.”

Anna smiled humbly and nodded.

“Now…how about you?” Raya asked
Her, rather excited and curious. “Is
There something I can see for you?”

“Oh No No No.” Anna said. “I’m all right.
Marta talked me into coming. She will
Be very mad at me if I ask.”

“Let’s not worry about that.” Raya smiled.
“Please…let me look. Ask.”

“Well,” Anna said, “I’ve always wanted
A baby…A baby with Helmut would
Be so nice…” She paused and stared up
And out the back of the wagon
At the stormy sky and the moon.
“But I’m afraid…”

“Afraid?” Raya asked. “It’s normal to
Be scared to be a Mother for the first
Time…”

“It’s not that.” Anna said staring at
The stars wondering.

“What is it then, ask me?” Raya said.

Anna turned to her slowly, hesitating
To find the right words. She was hopeful,
But her eyes were full of fear as well.
“Will I have a healthy baby?
Will my baby be…special?”

Raya didn’t have to look into the
Crystal to answer…It all became more
Clear then. Such a sweet person, with a
Nice way about her. Her senses went wild…
As she slowly said… “Yes.”

Valiant.

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