They had traveled that way before – by divine fiat – so the feeling of disorientation did not last long. When they vanished from one part of the globe, they knew they would arrive elsewhere instantly and only had to adjust their mind and eyes to the change in scenery. In this case it was easy because they remained on the undulating landscape, though a great forest was to their right and a man was nearby, down on his knees. There was one thing, though, that caused all of them to wonder. The field they were on was full of horses and a number of them had western style saddles and saddlebags.
“Oh, you just made it,” the man said as he got up from his knees. “Mother must have sent you, and good thing. I was just about to pass out.”
“Nameless?” Lockhart remembered the man, or rather the god from a past encounter. It was the Kairos.
“Good to see you again,” Nameless said. “Good to see all of you, but now you must listen carefully before I go away and let Wlvn gift you.”
“Gift?” Lincoln asked.
Nameless waved off the question and waved them in close. “First, don’t go into the forest. That area for miles belongs to the Titan at the center, and Loki assisting. They have the territory ringed by forest and a one-way electric fence. It is like a dog fence that keeps in dogs, but you don’t have to wear a collar. It is keyed to humans. You can pass through from this side, but will get scorched trying to pass through from that side. You can see the old man,” Nameless pointed and some for the first time saw a man sleeping peacefully on a fine mattress.
“Nice Mattress,” Katie whispered. Her eyes were always on the technology of the times.
“Compliments of mother Vrya,” Nameless nodded his head. “He went unconscious racing through the fence on horseback. The horse felt nothing, but the fence nearly killed him.”
“And Wlvn?” Lincoln asked.
“He should be out cold,” Nameless admitted. “But you first. Now listen, here is the kicker, or two. The Titan at the center has made an agreement, or Loki has, with the Gott-Druk. They are his strong arm helpers and have the ships, shuttles and firepower to enforce the slavery of the people.”
Several eyes looked around as Lockhart spoke. “We may have a Gott-Druk from the future following us through the gates. Maybe not. That has not exactly been confirmed yet.”
“We found him in Odelion’s time.”
Nameless nodded. “I remember, only it is the ones from this time that are your immediate threat. They will be out in force looking for me – I mean Wlvn, and might pass on you, but no guarantees. Then also, there are night creatures around. They won’t bother you at all unless they are given your scent and you become their prey. Then they won’t stop until they eat you. And no, they are not native to this earth, though I have yet to fix a planet of origin.”
“God help us if one of them starts after us through the gates,” Mingus said.
“They can be killed,” Nameless assured them with a look at Captain Decker and Lockhart. “But they are very dense creatures, almost all muscle and cartilage, so the bullets might not penetrate as much as you would like. Also, they are smarter than any earth animal, so keep that in mind.”
“And?” Boston wondered if there was more.
Nameless shook his head. “Just the zombies chasing Wlvn, but I suspect they won’t bother you. Oh, and watch out for Loki.”
“Now the horses,” Alexis said. She had her eyes on a gray.
Nameless nodded, tossed some dust in the air and traded places with Wlvn so the dust fell on Wlvn’s head. “Just a little godly magic to keep me conscious until we are finished.”
“God of the horses?” Lincoln was paying attention. “But you are just human.”
Wlvn nodded. “Long story short. When Poseidon lost the contest for Athens to Athena, he was not going to give the Athenians the horses for nothing. He brought them to me. He figured I would know what to do with them. Then he laid hands on me and filled my mind with everything I needed to know about the care and handling of the beasts. And he allowed that I could lay hands on others as well to spread that information quickly. Knees, please.”
No one understood what he was asking until Alexis got down on her knees. Everyone followed her example. Wlvn only said one more thing as he went from person to person and laid hands on each in turn. “This is very draining. If I was not due to go unconscious from the electric fence, I would certainly need to pass out after this.” When he finished, he stepped back and let Nameless return in his place. Everyone else marveled and tried hard to integrate this sudden influx of new knowledge.
“Now don’t worry. Wlvn already laid hands on the horses too. They will recognize you all and know which of you they belong to. Yes, Mingus,” Nameless spoke before Mingus could register his protest. “You and Roland have horses as well, and you will ride with the others, so get used to it.”
“But the saddles,” Lockhart started to speak, paused to consider his words, and spoke with sure and certain knowledge. “They are from the nineteenth century. Aren’t they a bit out of time?”
“The horses are from the eighteen-seventies. The saddles are a concession since hopefully you won’t be staying in a given time period for too long. The horses are all sturdy mustangs, stallions from the old west – Marshal Casidy’s days. He got them from a horse trader in the Dakotas. Then Alice and I managed to bring them back here to this point. Horses and the use of horses spread slowly across the old world, but begin here on the edge of the steppes. These particular horses should not be startled by the sound of gunfire, hopefully never needed, and since they are also from the future they should be able to go with you into the future.”
People went to their horses, also knowing which ones were theirs. Lockhart got fancy. He whistled and the horse went to him.
“One more thought,” Alexis made everyone pause. “How is Lady Alice?”
“Confused.” Nameless shook his head. “My Storyteller is still missing, not dead so most everything is in confusion. Avalon is whole,” he reassured the elves. “But she can’t just bring you home and I can’t send you there. I’m sorry. You will just have to get home the hard way.”
“Understood,” Lockhart said and he walked his horse north where Boston was waiting so he could check the direction.
“Now, you all need to move on at least an hour from here,” Nameless continued. “It would be better if old man Wlkn woke up none the wiser. And me? I have to pass out for a while.” He watched the party mount, not expertly by any means. “Good luck with your butts and legs for the first couple of weeks. Knowing how to do something and doing it are two different things. Good luck.”
As they rode off, Nameless went back to his knees, traded places through time back to Wlvn who immediately went out cold and ate dirt.