After 4086 BC in the Italian Peninsula. Kairos: Kartesh of the Shemsu
“It says here Kartesh was originally from Egypt.” Lincoln summarized the information from the database as they walked. “It says she genetically altered the Shemsu people for the sake of the Agdaline, whoever they are, and had her Shemsu people spread around the globe. It doesn’t explain. I could look up Shemsu and Agdaline.”
“No, finish about Kartesh.”
Lincoln nodded. “So the gods collectively decided that she needed to be responsible for her work and made her a lesser goddess over the Shemsu. Then they moved her to Rhodes to protect her from the god Set.”
“Sounds complicated,” Captain Decker said.
“Real life usually is,” Alexis countered.
“Anyway, hey! It says it was this lifetime that the gods collectively first recognized her as the Kairos and formally invested her with her Little Ones.”
“Little Ones?” Lieutenant Harper asked.
“Us,” Mingus answered. “This is the life when she became our goddess, or god as the case may be.”
“But wait,” Lockhart interrupted. “You just said in this life she was made goddess over the Shemsu people.”
Lincoln nodded. “That, too. Maybe that is why they made her an actual goddess, lesser goddess anyway.”
“Sounds complicated,” Captain Decker repeated himself.
“Real life usually is,” Alexis gave the same response.
“Hold on,” Boston interrupted. “I need to stop for a bit.” She rested several days after her ordeal in Faya’s time, but she was still far from perfectly healed. Now, she was exhausted and aching everywhere from having walked all day.
Lockhart looked at the sky and thought they should all stop for the night. “Make camp,” he said. “We have a long way to go tomorrow and the next day as well. No reason to push it.”
Roland stayed near Boston the whole time with plenty of cursory looks toward his father. Lockhart, Alexis and Katie thought it was cute. Lincoln had no opinion. Captain Decker did not notice. Whether Mingus noticed or not, no one could say.
Roland found the hunting good, and came back with a better notion of where they might be. “North of what will one day be Rome,” he said. “We spent the day moving through the seven hills and the Tiber river is not far.”
After that, it was supper and early to bed. For their supper, Alexis found a real treat. There were more ripe grapes on the nearby vines than they could possibly eat. Before bed, Lockhart went back to two on watch through the night. Everyone knew the easy days of Faya’s mountain village and sleeping in were over.
Roland and Captain Decker took the wee hours. They would wake Boston and Katie just before dawn, though Roland said he would take Boston’s turn.
“Suit yourself.” The Captain did not argue. He went to one side of the camp while Roland went to the other. An hour went by and the moon finally rose, the tiniest sliver just past new.
No wolf, Roland was glad to think when he heard a fascinating sound in the distance. It sounded a bit like the wind whistling in the trees, but it gradually grew louder and more sustained. He strained his ears and all at once he realized the whistling was changing pitch and tone. Someone was making music.
Roland stood and moved a short way into the woods. It was definitely music, and like the best music of the little ones, he recognized that it had a magical, hypnotic quality. As he thought about it, his eyes opened wide. He spun and ran to the camp, but it was too late. Lockhart, Decker and Lincoln had abandoned everything in camp and were running off. Katie Harper paused to change her fairy weave from military style to the sheerest, see-through nightgown that barely came below her hips and otherwise showed her as naked. Alexis was a bit behind, but danced off with Katie into the woods before Roland could stop her.
Boston was fighting her stiffness, trying to get up and join them. She was in pain, and Roland thought the pain might be helping her. He tackled her. She fought back. “Father!” Roland yelled. Mingus sat up and shook his head like he was trying hard to clear it.
“Father!” The music was getting stronger, coming nearer.
“Son?” Mingus appeared to break free of the spell for the moment. He quickly gauged Roland’s struggle and put his hand to Boston’s forehead. She passed out as he spoke. “Quick. We must get away from here before we get caught up in the dance. Hurry.”
It was a struggle to walk, drag and carry Boston between them. Mingus shook his head several times as they went, and Roland agreed with him, but his mind was occupied with saving Boston. The music decreased slowly in volume as they added distance. It was amazing to Roland how one simple set of pipes could carry for so many miles. But then, it was no longer one simple set of pipes. Other musicians were joining in.
Boston woke and struggled for a moment before she realized she was trapped. She kept her mouth shut and dragged her feet. Only the pain made her feet move again, and by then she was fascinated by the creatures that were streaming by to join the dance. She saw fauns, shy goat legged people with small horns that adorned their ruddy faced heads. The fauns tried to move through the trees, but they could not help but be seen. She saw dwarfs, or perhaps they were gnomes. They were quite small, and cute. Some of the last were the greatest of all. They were Centaurs, majestic and stately creatures that galloped toward the music.
The music was faint by then and Boston spoke up. “I’m fine,” she said calmly. Mingus and Roland stopped and eyed each other. They let go and Boston made a dash for it, but the elves were much too fast for her. They grabbed the arms and lifted her off the ground as they turned her back to the path.
“Let me go,” she struggled again, but again she soon gave it up. It hurt too much to struggle. Then they saw the last of the centaurs. He was old with gray hair around his hooves and on his head. He was shaking his head, much like Mingus, and Mingus had a thought. There was no telling what lay ahead and they could use an ally.
“You can fight it,” He told the Centaur. “You can win against it.” The centaur stopped and looked at them with eyes that said he did not grasp what they were saying.
“Come with us. This way.” Mingus said, and they began to drag Boston further from the music.
“But –“ the Centaur pointed in the direction the other had galloped.
“This way. Short cut,” Mingus lied like an elf.
The centaur slowly turned and followed.