The travelers with Silenus did not have to knock on the giant door. Kartesh appeared in their midst and said Saturn was sleeping some of it off. “But he will be right back at it if we don’t administer a cure.” She curtsied to Silenus.
Silenus said, “Tut, tut woman,” and held out the jar. Kartesh took it, opened it without asking permission, put a touch on her finger and touched it to her tongue.
“Ipecac,” she called it by name though no one had mentioned that name. “This might help.”
Silenus raised his eyebrows. “You are as bright and insightful as I have heard, indeed. And by the way, you have very nice friends.”
“Actually, she’s my boss,” Boston said.
“Our goddess,” Mingus added with his hat in his hand and an elbow in Roland’s ribs.
They looked at the centaur, but he was clearly having a hard time just keeping up with what was going on.
“I thought we might get him to take it in some of this lovely wine young miss Boston told me about,” Silenus suggested.
Kartesh gave Boston a hard look, but Boston shrugged. “I had to bargain. Was I wrong?”
“No,” Kartesh said. “4000 BC is about right for wine, but I’m not sure it appears in this part of the world for another two thousand years or so.” She looked at Silenus. She saw him rubbing his hands.
“A secret. I like secrets, and I am very good at keeping them.” He grinned as broadly as he could, and it was much too broad for a human face.
Kartesh said no more. She lifted her hand and a goblet of wine appeared. She poured the ipecac into the wine and stirred it with her finger much as Boston had. Then she said, wait here, and vanished. It was only a few moments before they heard a roar. “Woman. What have you done? You have poisoned me!”
A moment later, the giant hovel vanished and left two elves, one centaur and one young woman staring at each other because Silenus had, perhaps wisely vanished as well.
“Now what do we do?” Boston asked, but no one answered as they waited in that place for over an hour.
“I’m hungry,” Boston finally added, and they trudged back to their camp where they had lunch in silence.
Saturn was regular, human size when he threw-up, thank God, Kartesh thought. She made a wet washcloth in her hand and then risked everything. She traded places through time with a woman – an ordinary, human woman with long red hair brushed back from her forehead to keep it out of her eyes.
“There, there,” the woman cooed to Saturn and she gently wiped his forehead and cleaned his face.
“Woman.” Saturn looked up expecting to find Kartesh but instead he found someone else, someone he had never seen before.
“Valencia,” the woman gave her name softly as she put her free hand to Saturn’s cheek and put her lips to his in an equally gently kiss. Saturn’s eyes went wide for a second. He saw the look in her eye and suddenly wanted to do more with this woman than merely kiss. Sadly, vomiting took precedence.
The woman never left him, and Saturn was never so grateful. In fact, he never had reason to ever be grateful to anyone or anything ever before. It was all new to him as was being sick to his stomach, even if every feeling he was feeling was not new. She held his sides to keep him steady. She wiped his face and cooled the back of his neck with her soft breath, blowing away the rise in temperature he felt as he emptied his guts.
When she leaned over him to wipe his brow once more and coo in is ear, Saturn caught sight of her young, full and inviting breasts and decided he had enough of this throwing-up business for a while. “Who are you?” He only thought it polite to ask.
“I am a woman you will know and have many centuries from now after I am born.”
“But you are human. Wait, after I am born? You are the Egyptian?”
Valencia let her lips turn up just a little. “I am the woman Kartesh will become some day if you let her go. There is no telling who I will become if you keep her trapped here much longer.” She could almost see the gears grinding in Saturn’s head. He put a hand to his head and squinted.
“Why does my head hurt?”
“That would be the hangover, lover.” Valencia raised her free hand and gently brushed back the hair from his eyes. He looked at her again.
“I think I’m in love.”
“We may talk about love some day,” she conceded that much. “But right now I think you are in lust.”
“That too,” he said. He leaned forward to kiss her and the hand in his hair went to the back of his head so Valencia could draw him in and kiss him back with all the passion in her heart. Saturn responded as any man would.
Back in the camp, five people appeared, laid out on their own blankets, unconscious, but alive. No one dared to wake them nor could they if they tried. Those five remained unconscious and passed into a deep sleep as the sun set. It was close to ten the next morning before the first one woke.
“Food.” Captain Decker reached out. Boston and Roland were cooking up a feast and the smell of it had finally opened some eyes.
“Slowly. Chew slowly,” Boston scolded. “You haven’t eaten in three days.”
“That was the strangest dream,” Lockhart said with a quick glance at Katie. Roland and Boston had turned everyone’s clothes back to the way they had been before the incident, so there was no embarrassment from nakedness. What they might remember from what they saw when in the dream state, though, was hard to tell.
“Like a dream,” Mingus nodded. “But completely real.”
Alexis gasped. “What power could do such a thing? That would take enormous, almost ultimate power to completely overwhelm me – no offense to Katie and the men.”
“She does have the magic,” Roland reminded everyone before Mingus answered his daughter’s question.
“Pan.” He only had to say one word.
Alexis nodded. That had to be it.
“So what is it with Saturn?” Lockhart asked. He was still processing his experience.
Mingus answered him. “As I understand the story, When Zeus and his siblings rose up and killed Chronos, Saturn was trapped.”
“I thought they were the same person, Saturn and Chronos I mean,” Boston said.
Mingus shook his head. Saturn is Zeus’ grandfather, he is the father of Chronos. Anyway, he was given Italy since it was relatively depopulated, but he is trapped here. He is the master of passive-aggressive behavior, though. He insists when anyone comes to Italy, they have to have different names. Zeus he calls Jupiter. Poseidon he calls Neptune.”
“Hera is still Hera,” Katie pointed out.
“I said he was passive-aggressive,” Mingus responded. “I did not say he was stupid.”
Kartesh chose that moment to appear in the camp. “Can you walk?” That was her first question.
“I don’t honestly know,” Lincoln said and dragged himself to his feet.
Kartesh waved her hand and everything was packed and ready to go. “Unfortunately, you have to walk,” she said. “No, Boston, I didn’t miss anything. Lest you forget, I was the one who packed your things in the first place – or Alice was. Anyway, Saturn and Silenus are plotting. I am going fifty miles south to be beyond Pan’s reach and that should bring the gate fifty miles in your direction. Boston?”
Boston pulled out her amulet. “That should just about do it,” she said.
“Good, hurry,” Kartesh finished her thought. “Before Saturn changes his mind. And I can’t escape this place until after I am sure you are all safe.” She vanished again. Boston kept an eye on the amulet as it adjusted the distance. She stood when the gate was only a hundred yards off.
“Come on,” she said, not removing her eyes from the amulet. “I think we better hurry.”
There were groans, but everyone got up well enough to stumble, and Truscas had a comment as they walked. “I am sorry I won’t be able to go with you. But I have more than enough to think about and teach to my younglings.”
“You mean about being so close to the gods?” Mingus asked.
“You mean about the wine, or about the Kairos?” Roland wondered.
“No.” Truscas lifted his head and looked at Boston. “About the wisdom that can come from the human mind and heart, even a very young woman. You are Sophia.”
Boston appreciated the compliment. Katie Harper and perhaps Lincoln imagined that Sophia had not yet been born.
Boston stopped when she bumped into Roland. Roland looked down at her and agreed with the centaur. “You are Sophia,” he said, and he kissed her, and she kissed him right back in front of everyone. Some smiled, but Mingus turned red. The words, not again lit his face, but at least they did not come out of his mouth.