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Boston could not make out the figure in the tree. “The Bokarus?” She looked up at Roland.
“No, missy.” Mingus answered for his son. “This one’s human, though why he is up a tree,” Mingus shrugged.
“I was worried about Boston so I came ahead. Are you alright?”
“Glen?” Boston squinted in the dim light.
“No.” The young boy responded as a light with a slightly blue tint fluttered up to one side of him and another light with a slightly yellow tint fluttered up to the other. “The boys are following but I flew on ahead. The boys don’t know about my fairy friends, but I told my fairy friends you were okay so they could show themselves. This is Bluebell and this is Honeysuckle. My name is Pan.”
Pan floated down to the fire to warm his hands in the morning chill. Boston took note of the furs he wore. It was not the green suit she expected.
“Kairos,” Roland put his hand on the barrel of Captain Decker’s rifle to encourage the man to lower his weapon.
Honeysuckle flew up to Mingus’ face and smiled. “Hello elf,” she said.
“Elder elf,” Doctor Procter corrected the fairy.
“And you’re a breed,” Honeysuckle said with a bit of disapproval in her voice.
“Bluebell, lovely to meet you,” Boston said. “We girls need to stick together in the middle of all these boys.”
Bluebell hovered a foot from Boston’s face and looked serious. “Oh, I know.”
“Would you like to sit on my shoulder?” Boston asked. “Missus Pumpkin used to sit on my shoulder so we could talk in private.”
Bluebell’s little expression turned from serious to concerned. She never considered such a thing before. She flitted back and forth gently and thought hard.
“I think that would be a good idea.” Pan said, and apparently Bluebell decided the same thing as she zipped to Boston’s shoulder and made herself comfortable.
“Us girls need to stick together,” Bluebell said and turned slightly to look at Lieutenant Harper. She quickly turned back to Boston’s ear. “But why is your friend crying?”
“Where is Alexis?” Pan interrupted.
“Lincoln lost her again.” Mingus quickly complained.
“I did not!” Lincoln yelled.
“Hog and his two chums stole her in the night.” Lockhart looked around at the dark sky. The sun would not be up for a while yet.
“And the medical kit,” Captain Decker added.
“Hog and Shmee.” Pan nodded. “Who was the other?”
Pan nodded again. “So, you met Captain Hook.” He made a motion like he had the bone and wood hook in his hands and was picking something off the ground.
“Not your tribe, I take it.” Lockhart said.
Pan shook his head this time. “Shemashi tribe. We are Jephatha.”
“We?” Mingus asked.
“Me and my boys. They will be here soon.” He called, “Honeysuckle, Bluebell.” The fairies fluttered up from where they were commiserating with the girls. “When they boys get here, you can stick around if you want as long as you pretend to be with the gang here.” The fairies looked at each other as if they were not sure about that. “Meanwhile, Honeysuckle, would you please fly to the Shemashi camp and see if Hog is going there?” Honeysuckle fretted for a second and looked once back at the girls before she flew off over the sea. Bluebell waited. “Sure. You can go back to Boston and the Lieutenant.”
“Katie.” Bluebell said the lieutenant’s name sternly before she grinned. “Thanks,” and she zoomed to Boston’s shoulder faster than the eye could follow. She whispered, though it was loud enough so at the elves caught it. “I’m going to marry Pan when he gets old enough. I love him with all my heart.”
“That’s great,” Katie said, but Boston shook her head.
“I don’t think it works that way. Don’t you know who Pan is?”
“Hey now!” Roland interrupted. He heard with his good elf ears and stepped toward the girls. “No revealing the future. That is still the law. You know who the Kairos is, but the world does not know yet. That won’t be official for a dozen lifetimes. Shhh!” He ended with his finger to his lips.
“So.” Captain Decker squatted by the fire. “Are we just going to sit here and wait for the lost boys to show up?”
“That and the morning,” Lockhart confirmed. “Hurry up and wait.”
“That’s the army,” Captain Decker complained, but it turned out they did not have to wait long.
“Pan!” A young boy came running up all out of breath. He could not have been more than ten, and he looked all American, or rather Anglo-American, complete with freckles. Pan had the same European look about him.
“Tomma, what is it?”
“Ramina,” the boy said. “We couldn’t stop her.” With that, Tomma put his hands on his knees to catch his breath, but he let his eyes wander around to see this strange group of people Pan had mentioned. Pan called them friends, but Tomma did not look too sure.
“Pan!” That was a girl’s voice, and as she ran up she showed no sign of being at all tired. Bluebell fluttered up into the girl’s face and turned her nose up. “Oh, a Fee!” Ramina shouted and reached up to grab the fairy, but Bluebell made a dash for the safety of Boston’s shoulder.
“Ramina.” That was all an exasperated sounding Pan had to say.
“You don’t think I am going to let you go off adventuring without me, do you?” Ramina responded. The girl had to be Pan’s age, or maybe closer to twelve or thirteen. She was beginning to show signs that she was developing little bumps and curves.
“It’s a wonder your father lets you go out so far from home at your age, or are we talking real lost boys?” Captain Decker stood up by the fire and checked his weapons in anticipation of a future fight.
“No,” Pan responded. “Our village is that way.” He pointed. “But in this age, children need to grow up fast. I’m eleven. Ramina is only ten, Tomma’s twin.” Everyone looked again and saw Ramina staring at Pan, wiggling her hips ever so slightly like she was listening to some music no one else could hear. She also looked like she was thinking thoughts for which she was way too young.
Three boys came in and huddled around Tomma, uncertain of what to make of the strangers. “Where’s the Duba?” Pan asked.
“Where do you think?” One of the boys answered and pointed behind with his thumb. Sure enough, in the growing light they saw a boy significantly fatter than the others. He was working his arms like a true runner, but his legs were staggering. When he arrived, he fell to his face, and smiled.
“Okay.” Pan clapped his hands like Alice to get everyone’s attention. “Here’s the story. Captain Hook has kidnapped a great lady. Are you ready to go and get her back?”
“Yeah. Okay.” The boys did not sound too sure. They sounded tired.
Honeysuckle chose that moment to come rushing back. “They are still at sea,” she said to Pan. “They won’t get to the village until the sun is high.” She pointed straight up.
“Well then, do we need to hurry?” Lincoln came out of his funk to ask.
“No,” Pan said flatly. “They are not cannibals and they don’t practice human sacrifice. I imagine she will be alright until we get there.”
“And how far overland to the village?” Mingus asked.
“Half a day at most.” Pan shrugged. “Quicker than by sea in that canoe.”
“Then we stand down and let the boys get some rest. Four hours if Lincoln and Mingus can hold out,” Lockhart decided. “And Ramina can rest.” He smiled for the girl.
“Fairy.” The girl stared at Honeysuckle. Honeysuckle hid behind Pan, but he had a suggestion.
“Go sit on Lieutenant Harper, er, Katie’s shoulder and Ramina, you can visit but do not touch the fairies. Is that clear?”
Ramina’s face lit up. She rushed forward and kissed Pan on the cheek. “Yes. Thank you, shaman. Yes, oh yes.” She skipped over toward the women while Pan wiped the kiss off his cheek with the back of his sleeve.
“Shaman?” Lockhart asked.
“I get that a lot.” Pan laid down by the fire and in a moment he was fast asleep. The other boys followed his example, though they bunched up for protection and warmth and did not sleep quite so quickly, apart from Duba who began to snore.
“But my wife.” Lincoln spoke and Mingus spoke at the same time.
“So strike the camp,” Lockhart said. “Roland, would you mind finding us something for an early lunch? Doctor Procter, you’ve been very quiet.”
“Eh?” Doctor Procter looked up at the man. “I was just wondering what the poor woman must be going through,” he said and went to help take down the tents.