Roland got up early in the morning and salvaged as many of the vines he could from the wreckage of their box project. He wove the vines together into a fine net and let his father Mingus and Truscas clear away their ill conceived trap. By the time the clearing was once again relatively cleared of the debris, Roland was nearly finished with his weaving. He sent the older men out to gather more vine. In particular, he needed four long vines.
“I think we’ve cleared a square mile of vines,” Mingus commented on his return. Boston was there with the rope from Captain Decker’s pack and Truscas came in a short while later with the last of the long vines. Then Roland got to work in earnest.
He needed Truscas to bend a bigger tree than he liked, but they had cut all the nearby saplings. He tied the rope to the tree and the long vines to the rope on one end and the net on the four corners. He held the tree down with a last vine that he found and stretched it tight across the center of the net. Then he covered the net with leaves and made everyone keep back, especially the Centaur. One trip on that vine in the center and the net would be pulled straight up, trapping whatever was inside.
As a final precaution, Roland cast a small spell to ward off any innocent animals who might be tempted to cross the clearing. Then they headed back to camp to wait. Boston had a fine lunch ready, including some warm bread. That was when they all felt better, and Truscas marveled at the bread.
“Magic?” Truscas wondered about it.
“Yes,” Boston lied like an elf before either elf could lie for her.
Once again, they did not have to wait long before they heard “Aye-Aye, Yip!” Then they heard Silenus in the clearing. He shouted, “Ingenius!” this time, the three men walked carefully to a position where they could watch. They saw Silenus deliberately kick the trip vine. The trap sprung and he was caught. He swung wildly because the tree was too big, but the whole time he shouted “Weeee!”
The three stepped out from the trees when the net stopped swinging, but then Silenus dripped himself through the spaces in the net like a glass of wine through a strainer and he reformed again on the ground. He shook a finger at the three, grinned and waved at Boston and ran back into the woods faster than they could follow. Mingus only had one thing to say.
Boston shook her head while they used the lumber they had cut and some stones to dig a hole in the earth. It took all afternoon with Truscas hauling the dirt away in a couple of baskets Roland hastily wove out of the net. When the hole was six feet deep and about six feet long and wide, Mingus covered it over with branches and leaves.
“I’m tired,” he said when he was done. “I need a night’s sleep.” And he did that. In fact they all did that and without bothering to eat supper.
By the end of the second night, Katie and Alexis could hardly keep moving. Everything hurt, and while the pain helped clear their minds a little, they were so deep into the dance by then, they hardly knew what else to think. Lockhart, Lincoln and Captain Decker were also up and moving, and without having any sleep in forty-eight hours, Lincoln felt he was hallucinating. It was near noon on the next day, at about sixty hours when he was the first to collapse. Even unconscious, his arms and legs continued to move like a puppet to the music. Two thing did happen before that, though.
For one, Kartesh finally got Saturn to a sufficient sobriety, or at least awake state where she could talk sense to him and feel he honestly heard her. Whether he would listen or not was another issue.
“I don’t know how the centaurs and fauns and the others stand it for a whole month, but normal human flesh and blood is not made to go without sleep and without food for a whole month.”
“But Kartesh. The human element is adding such spice to the dance. I have never heard Pan and his helpers play so well. There is something truly great going on with your friends in the mix.
“But you are killing them!” Kartesh shouted. Saturn heard but did not want to hear. He wanted some more grapes.
It was around eight o’clock, with the sun well up in the sky when they heard the “Aye-Aye, Yip!” followed by “Blithering Genius!”
The less than enthusiastic men went carefully to the clearing and saw the branches over the trap removed. They got excited to think that something actually worked. They inched up to the hole expecting to see Silenus trapped in the bottom and were surprised to see it empty. Suddenly, the hole got bigger. Truscas fell in. Mingus grabbed on to the lip, but it shook him off and he slid to the bottom. Roland jumped back and began to run around the edge of the clearing while the hole followed him. He got caught when the hole disappeared and reappeared in front of his moving feet.
Boston came to the edge of the clearing and tried not to laugh, though it was a sight to see Truscas from the arms up and the top of Roland’s head. Mingus was not tall enough to stick out.
“Yip-Yip.” Silenus was across the clearing, staring at her.
“Yippie!” Boston shouted back. A serious expression crossed Silenus’ face before he smiled and shouted back.
“Yahooo-ee!” Boston responded appropriately. The next thing she knew, Silenus was beside her, his arm around her shoulder.
“I like you,” he said.
After a brief moment of shock, Boston responded. “I think I like you, too.”
“I love your red hair,” Silenus continued. “It is an unique color and I love what you have done with it.”
Boston was growing it out, not that she had a choice. It was not as short as it had been, but she thought for the moment it was rather scraggly. She could only respond politely. “Thank you.”
“We could retire to my boudoir.”
“Sir, I have a young man,” Boston looked down at her feet for a second.
“Oh, I see,” Silenus responded
Afraid she might lose him, Boston leaned over and kissed the man on the cheek. “But I think you are sweet.”
Silenus raised his eyebrows before he smiled again. “I see. Fatherly type. To be honest, I might prefer a young man myself.” Boston did not flinch. “Grape?”
Boston raised a hand. “No thank you. My mother does not approve of me drinking.”
“Silly mother,” Silenus said as he turned them to walk toward the hole.
“A little help here.” They heard Mingus’ voice.
“But now, I assume all of this is because you want something of me,” Silenus became as serious as the fat drunkard could be.
“Yes,” Boston said, turning to the god. “My friends are trapped in the dance and Kartsh says Saturn is the only one who can set them free. She thought you might have some way of sobering him up, at least temporarily.” She saw Silenus put his hand to his goat-skinned cloak as if feeling for something, but he said nothing so she said nothing.
“Humans like me. Kartesh says the dance will kill them. Please.”
Silenus appeared to think for a minute. “That Egyptian woman is said to be very smart. She is…” he snapped his fingers as if trying to remember the word.
“The Kairos,” Roland offered.
“Exactly. Goddess of time. They say she knows the future.”
“We are from the future and trying to get back there.” Boston could hardly keep the desperation out of her voice. Silenus put that serious expression on his face again.
“You and the elves and no doubt the friends you want to save, but the centaur belongs here, I believe.”
“A good person who was kind enough to help us in our time of need,” Boston said.
Silenus looked down at the centaur. He snapped his finger and the three in the hole shot up in the air while the hole closed itself up beneath their feet. “At the risk of sounding like an elf, what’s in it for me?” Silenus asked.
“I need a cup to show you,” Boston said. She was prepared for this possibility. She lifted her hand and a crude wooden cup that was more like a bowl appeared. She took the grapes from Silenus’ hand, squeezed them and allowed the juice to flow into the cup. She stirred it with her finger while Silenus watched carefully. Then she got the canteen from her side and added a little water and stirred it again. When it was as ready as she could make it, she handed it to Silenus. He took it carefully and sniffed it.
“Nice bouquet,” he said before he put it to his lips.
“It’s called wine and it has no seeds or stems.”
“Interesting,” Selinus liked it and stood still while Boston thought through the wine making process, what she knew of it. She knew Silenus was following along in her mind. “Interesting,” Silenus said when she was finished. “You humans are very clever. Sometimes I think the gods don’t give you nearly enough credit.”
“So you will help us?” Boston tried not to plead.
Silenus looked up at the centaur once before he looked back at Boston. “Never let it be said a centaur was kinder than the god.” He smiled and pulled a clay jar from his clothing. “A formula I developed in case I ever got drunk. I call it Ipecac. It may do the trick, but I think I had better administer it.” With another snap of his fingers, they found themselves once again standing outside that giant door.