After 4289 BC in the foothills of Kashmir. Kairos: Vanu
Boston sat by the fire and alternately stared at the amulet and Roland. She did not know what to say to the elf, but she felt she ought to say something. Lincoln inherited the database from Boston and found the place for taking notes.
“Beats my notebook,” he remarked casually. Alexis simply nodded as the howl came again and her eyes were drawn to the sky while her ears tried to judge the direction and distance.
“Full moon,” Katie noted.
“Don’t start,” Lincoln looked up from his notes. Lockhart laughed, but Mingus waved off the laughter.
“There may be something to that,” he said. “But I would think we are too early for a man wolf.”
“Werewolf, father.” Roland and Alexis both corrected the elder elf.
“Man wolf, were wolf. Anyway, it is too early in history. The Were people still have a strong presence in several places around the globe. The disease and genetic component responsible for that most rare of troubles won’t connect for a thousand years, maybe two or three thousand.”
The howl cam again. It was closer, but not by much.
“Well, I did not think there were regular wolves in this part of the world,” Lincoln said.
“Ah!” Mingus raised a knowing finger. “But again, this far in the past may prove different. We might find elephants stretching all the way from Africa to India in unbroken herds, even across the plains of Saudi Arabia, before the land there turns to dust and the elephant herds separate, India to Africa.”
“I recommend a watch,” Captain Decker interrupted.
“Father, you are very talkative tonight,” Alexis shifted her seat to sit beside the elf while Lockhart considered the Captain’s suggestion.
“Just thinking of my old friend, Procter. I am sorry you did not get to know him the way he really was. He should have been babbling and rambling and sharing all this sort of information all along. He could be very annoying, but he was a likeable fellow. He was likeable.”
Alexis leaned in and kissed her father on the cheek while Lockhart stood. “Team watch,” he said. He knew everyone was exhausted from lack of sleep over the past couple of days, but he did not spend all of those early years on the police force for nothing. His instincts were acting up and something did not feel right. Team watch put Lincoln and Alexis up first. Mingus and Lockhart got the dark of the night. Captain Decker and Roland watched through the wee hours and Katie and Boston got the dawn shift. A single watch of an hour or two each through the night would have let everyone get more rest, but something did not feel right. Lockhart glanced at Katie, and she nodded as if to say it did not feel right to her, too.
The howl came a third time, but this time it sounded further away.
The morning arrived without incident, but Lockhart’s feelings would not go away easily. Someone was engaged in something criminal and dangerous, and not too far away. Katie handed him a cup of herbal coffee to help. He said thanks, but honestly the coffee was something he was still getting used to.
The travelers did not go far that morning before they ran into a jungle. They had to spread out a bit as each tried to find the path of least resistance through the thick undergrowth.
“Don’t move out of sight and sound,” Lockhart ordered.
“And watch out for snakes,” Lincoln added. He imagined the place was full of monster pythons and cobras.
An hour in, and the elves stopped still.
“Leapord?” Mingus suggested. Their good ears picked up something the others did not hear.
Roland shook his head. “Tiger, I believe.” Most thought that was worse. Tigers sometimes became man eaters.
Another hour and the jungle showed no signs of thinning and thus far only had what Boston called rabbit trails through the brush. They looked promising for a few yards but quickly petered out into nothing.
The elves stopped again and this time everyone else stopped with them, quieted and wondered what they heard. Then Captain Decker heard and raised his rifle. Then the others heard and became deathly quiet.
“This is a good place.” That was a man’s voice.
“This is the middle of nowhere.” A second man argued.
“So no one will look here.”
“But how will we remember to look here?”
Roland moved in absolute silence. He leapt past Captain Decker and was up the nearest tree in the blink of an eye. No one was quite sure how he did that, except Boston who chalked it up to him being an elf and young and a hunter. Roland stood on a thick branch and spied on the men. He waved down to Decker, pointed to his eyes and cupped his hand. Captain Decker tossed up his binoculars. Even the Captain knew that elf eyes were as superhuman as their ears, but clearly Roland wanted a closer look at something.
“It is only until tonight,” the first man was saying.
“Tonight? But there is the wolf about. Didn’t you see Vanu’s shredded sheep?”
“Ha! I’m more worried about Dayni. If she knew we had this, we would be the ones shredded.”
“But the wolf –“
“You worry too much. You know the day god cannot meet us while the sun is up. It has to be at night.”
“Hey, hey. Do you think he will do everything he said?”
“He is a god. How can you question that?”
“Yeah. I guess Vanu isn’t the only one with friends. But how are we going to find this exact place again?”
“Easy. We just come to the place where that goblin up the tree there is staring at us with boogly eyes.”
There was a moment of silence before everyone heard two men scream like little girls and the thunder of crashing through the bushes. Roland tossed the binoculars down to the Captain and zipped down the other side of the tree. “Over here,” he shouted. He wanted to find whatever it was the two fools dropped.