After 4146BC near the Transylvania Plateau. Kairos: Faya (Beauty).
The boat came out of the time gate on a broad and slow moving river. The water was blue and fresh and even the marines were glad to be away from the sea, the salt and the storm.
“I’m guessing a tributary of the Danube,” Lincoln said.
“I’m guessing we should pull to shore,” Captain Decker said. The boat was suddenly creaking and snapping and looked to be rotting beneath their feet.
“The wood,” Alexis said. “It aged fifty years in a second.” She pulled out her wand and magically plugged a leak that appeared in the bottom of the boat. “Hurry.”
Lockhart, Lincoln, Roland and the Captain pulled on the oars as hard as they could. Lockhart drafted a bit deep in his haste and the oar snapped. They had a spare, but they were at the shore by then. Unfortunately, the riverbank was a small cliff some six feet high and there did not appear to be an easy way up.
The boat cracked along a seam. Captain Decker donned his backpack and leapt for the top. He grabbed on to a tree root where the tree grew close to the water and with some wiggle and struggle, he managed to pull himself up.
Meanwhile Lockhart, Lincoln and Roland shoved their oars into the soft bank. They were ten feet downriver from the Captain’s position, but it kept them from drifting further in the current.
“Catch.” They heard Captain Decker’s voice though he was out of their line of sight. A rope fell to the deck even as the boat began to sink. Alexis scurried up the line, followed by Mingus and Katie Harper. Boston started to throw all of their backpacks up to the ledge while she got wet up to the knees.
“Lincoln, go.” Lockhart said. He and Roland had the outer oars pressed into the soft mud. Lincoln in the center was not helping much to hold them in place so he scrambled up the line.
“Boston, hurry.” Roland said as he and Lockhart struggled to keep the boat from swinging wildly in the current.
“Got it all,” Boston announced even as the bottom gave out beneath her feet. She went straight under the water.
Roland thought fast and dove after her. He held on to the rope as he went. Lockhart lost control of the remains of the craft even as a far more primitive rope came down and he grabbed on for his life. The boat beneath his feet broke apart, but he hung there for a moment with his eyes on the river. Roland came up a second later with the rope wrapped around Boston. She was hacking and gagging from swallowing too much water. Roland said one thing.
Lockhart found himself pulled up and shouted with all his strength. “Bokarus!”
Alexis and Mingus quickly hung their heads over the side. There was not much Mingus could do with his fire against the water, but Alexis grabbed him to draw on his strength as well as her own and had out her elm wand. She took a shot at Boston and her brother and the rope they clung to began to shorten and pulled them with it. Then at once, Boston and Roland lifted in the air. They saw a big hand reach up from the water to grab them, but it missed and the others were quickly able to draw them to the land.
They all heard the scream. They saw the Bokarus rise out of the river. It circled them in its rage and frustration. The river rose, but the six foot bank was too high to overcome, and with a final scream, the Bokarus flew back beneath the waves.
Boston got to her knees to cough and spit. “I’m fine, I’m fine,” she said as Roland hovered over her. Mingus and Alexis joined them on the grass. Alexis especially looked drained, like she might have looked after running a marathon.
“I was afraid we lost you,” Alexis said.
“The Bokarus had a good hold on her,” Roland nodded.
“Come, girl,” Mingus helped Boston to her feet and he and Roland walked her a bit before they let her sit down. “All appears to be in working order,” Mingus concluded.
Lockhart thanked the three men who helped them. Bruten was the father and Grogor was the son. Thag was the big, ugly one with less than a dozen teeth.
Captain Decker stood, Lieutenant Harper beside him, and both were rifle ready. The Captain spoke. “I thought Thag was a character from the Far Side.”
“It fits, sir.”
“Knock it off,” Lockhart said as he judged the position of the sun and checked his watch. “Make camp.” They did that, and their three new friends did so as well. They strung their rope between two trees and made a lean-to to sleep in. Their eyes got big when Mingus magically started the fire, but not any bigger than watching Roland fawn over Boston.
Lockhart, Captain Decker and Mingus made the camp when Roland headed out on the hunt. Katie Harper spent the next hour checking all of their equipment after the salty sea, all that rain, the river water and the final flight through the air. Meanwhile, Lincoln and Alexis kept watch on their new friends.
“Red hair,” Bruten pointed to his fellows.
“Young.” Thag said.
“I heard,” Grogor looked at the older men. “She looks young.”
“I heard also,” Bruten agreed.
Alexis and Lincoln listened, but the conversation sounded like code.
“And magic.” Thag pointed toward Alexis.
“Flying through the air,” Bruten said with a shake of his head.
“But the Were fly through the air,” Grogor countered.
“Yes, but they become like the birds of the air to fly. This one flies without wings.”
“And the yellow hair woman warrior to watch over her,” Grogor added.
“And the dark one of death,” Bruten agreed.
“Very pretty,” Thag interrupted with a look at Alexis.
“Don’t look at me,” Alexis said. “I am married.”
The men gave Lincoln a cursory smile and continued with their conversation. “The elves care for her, like they say.” Bruten added.
“Must be,” Grogor added.
“Yes,” Thag concluded.
Lincoln tugged on Alexis’ shoulder. She looked at him, but he shrugged. Something did not feel right to him and she trusted his sense about such things, but he would have to verbalize it to truly grasp it – whatever it was. He groped for the words by asking a question.
“So, Bruten, what are you three doing out here in the wilderness?”
“We hunt,” Bruten gave the short answer, but said no more as Roland came back with a deer. He set the deer down by the fire and went to check on Boston while the three hunters nudged each other. It was not clear, though, if they were pointing at the deer or at Boston and the elf’s rapt attention to the girl.
“Lockhart,” Roland called once Boston assured him that she was just fine. Lockhart looked up from where Captain Decker and Mingus were doing a hatchet job on the deer. “I found the Gott-Druk boat about a mile downriver,” Roland said. Everyone stopped to listen. “Empty.”