Avalon 1.5: Joys and Sorrows

            Korah recognized the sound and ran toward the cry.  The sheep parted to let her through, and her future husband was right behind her.  The young boys in the field stood over their mother but did not know what to do.  She was crying over a dead sheep, and there was no comforting her.

            The dogs only killed one, but the woman’s herd was down to six.  Herds that once sported forty or fifty sheep were in a death spiral in that harsh and inhospitable environment. 

            “Godus, dear.”  Dallah turned again to her husband.  “Give her one of ours.  Make it a good one.”

            “But then we will have just six.” 

            “As she will.  Give it to Korah for her new family,” Dallah decided.  Godus raised an eyebrow.  That was not really playing fair.

            “Pardon, lady.”  Itchy stepped forward.  “Might Stonecrusher have the dead one?  That would certainly be a relief for everyone.”

            “No,” Dallah said.  “Roland, you take the dead sheep for tomorrow and the next day if necessary since you likely won’t find anything between here and the gate.  Stonecrusher.”  She waited until she had the ogre’s complete attention before she spoke.  “You can have the dogs.”

            “Mother!”  Reneus objected.  There was a lot of good meat on those animals that would sustain them for some time.  But Dallah was not finished speaking.

            “Take only the dead dogs and be content.  Share one with your impy cousins and go with them to Lord Varuna.  He may have new work for you.  You are released from your obligation to Dayus.”

            “Yes, Lady.  Thank you Lady.”  The ogre picked up the dogs one by one and carried all four back into the wilderness without any strain at all.

            “Strong sucker,” Captain Decker noted.

            “And you imps.”  They looked up at Dallah with big eyes.  She smiled.  “Skat,” she said.  “Shoo.”  They ran off, happy.

            Godus sidled up to his wife and spoke softly.  “Any more surprises?”

            “A few, but mostly you are looking at them.”  She took his hand introduced the travelers.  She remembered to say “Her name is Mary Riley but everyone calls her Boston.”  Then they all went to a wedding.

            Dallah cried.  Boston cried with her.  Alexis only got teary eyed so Lincoln cried for her.  Captain Decker said, “Women.”  Captain or not, Katie Harper slapped him in the arm.

            The third family in the camp was the family that performed the actual ceremony.  They were also witnesses to the union.  It was a lovely ceremony and surprisingly not unlike modern ceremonies in most parts.  But then there was the sacrifice of a sheep.  And several moderns looked away then the old man who performed the sacrifice soaked his hands in the sheep’s blood and sprinkled it liberally all over the couple.

            Boston kept her mouth shut be she thought “Ewww,” really loud.

            After the wedding, the couple had a place not far from the camp.  They had their own fire and sweets and got the prime portion of the sheep for their supper.  The families, meanwhile, settled in for a party of their own.  Korah’s new mother sat beside Dallah for a time, though it made Dallah uncomfortable.  Dallah only had one word of advice for the woman.

            “Korah has a big, sensitive heart full of love.  If you treat her gently and with kindness and encourage her in what she does she will love you forever.”  The woman responded in a way which should not have been too surprising given the events of the day.

            “Yes, Lady.  I will do that very thing.”

            By evening, Doctor Procter appeared to be much better.  He sat up and ate, but thought it best not to go join the celebration.  He claimed to be too tired. 

            Later, when the sun was set and most of the camp was asleep, Alexis stayed up a bit to watch the Doctor.  She was looking out beneath a nearly full moon when her eye caught something glisten in the moonlight.  She had no idea what it might be until she heard the sound of a horse snort a big gust of breath.  The knight came close to the camp, but it did not come into the camp.  Alexis stood.  Doctor Procter appeared to be asleep, but he began to shiver.  Alexis held her breath while the knight reared up, turned and galloped off into the dark.  She immediately woke her father and told him.

            “It was a knight of the lance.  I am sure.  It had to be.”

            Mingus shook his head.  “There haven’t been any knights of the lance around for centuries.”

            “No,” Alexis argued.  “I heard there was one a few years ago when Ashteroth came up into the castle of the Kairos and the Kairos got so sick.”

            Mingus nodded.  “I heard that, too, but there was never any proof.  It was just a rumor.”

            “But father –“

            “Go to bed and sleep.  We will be leaving in the morning.”

            Alexis looked down and nodded.  Maybe she had not seen it.  Maybe it was like a waking dream.  Maybe she was not sure.

            Later in the night, Doctor Procter woke as a lizard crawled across his belly.  His hand reached out and grabbed the creature.  It was a harmless little thing that the Doctor held and bent backwards until there was a snap!  It was not that Doctor Procter had a reason for doing that.  He felt the urge to kill and wanted the pleasure of watching the beast die.

            There were more tears in the morning as everyone said good-bye.  The witness family was the first to leave.  They took their sheep and headed off to the southeast.  Then it was time for Korah and her mother to be parted.  “Always respect your husband,” Dallah whispered between the hugs and tears.  “And he will love you without ceasing.”

            Korah nodded, and shortly they headed off into the north.  They said they were going to go as far as the mountains to escape the dead lands.  Dallah truly wished them well.

            Last of all the travelers headed into the west and Andor waved until they were out of sight.  After they were gone, he pointed his fingers at Mya and said, “Bang!  Bang!”  She just had to chase him.  They were staying where they were for the present.  They had the stream and some grass that was worth eating for their few sheep, but how long they might hold out was anyone’s guess. 

            Boston was the last to say anything under that blazing sun.  “Doesn’t the Kairos ever get born anywhere off the equator?  I mean, a little rain might be nice, at least.”  Naturally, as they stepped through the gate they found themselves in a torrent.

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