The travelers settled in for a bite to eat. With Boston’s careful tending, the fire roared well for such a wet and dreary night. The priest watched and tried the bread, but was non-committal about it all. He stayed quiet and appeared content to listen while the travelers talked among themselves. Roland and Boston sometimes whispered to each other. Katie and Lockhart included Lincoln in their conversation.
The rain drifted away at sunset, though the cloudy night would take some time to clear. Lincoln suggested they might see the stars by midnight, and Lockhart was ready to set the watch through the night when a group of twenty or more men arrived and Asspurbinal the priest stood to greet them. This was what he had been waiting for.
“Now I think you will give me everything from the future,” the priest said. “Including your clothes that you change with a word, as I have seen.”
The travelers stood, their weapons ready. The men were armed with spears and clubs and several held torches against the dark. Roland pulled his sword, pointed it at the priest and let him feel how sharp it was while Lockhart spoke.
“Don’t make us kill all these men,” Lockhart said. “Because we would have to kill you first.”
“The future is not for you to take,” Boston added as she pulled her Beretta and stood close to Roland’s side.
The priest touched the sword, looked at the travelers and thought about it while the men in the street awaited orders. In that moment of hesitation, a woman appeared in their midst. She was seven feet tall and glowed in the dark with an awesome presence that made her hard to look at directly. The men stepped back and several ran. The priest trembled and fell to his face. The travelers recognized her and growled, having met her before. Katie named her.
“Marine,” Tiamut responded and reached out her hand. Lockhart’s shotgun broke free of his grip and flew to the woman. She shouldered the weapon, not expertly, but well enough to turn it on the crowd of men. She shot three of them before they scattered and vanished back into the darkness of the city. “I have to get one of these,” Tiamut said and tossed the weapon back to Lockhart.
“Do you expect our thanks?” Boston asked.
“Elf lover,” Tiamut turned her eyes on the redhead. “What a disgusting thought. I like it.”
“Mistress,” Asspurbinal the priest could barely manage the word through a throat constricted by fear. Tiamut bent down to him as if to whisper, though her words were loud enough for all to hear.
“These people are mine. You leave them alone. Now I suggest you run for your life.” She backed up to watch.
The priest looked up once at the travelers, dared not look at the goddess, leapt to his feet and ran off screaming into the night.
“We are not yours,” Lockhart said.
“But you are,” Tiamut turned on him. “I have a mind to keep you for a time. Maybe not the elf. I have no use for such.”
“But our journey,” Lincoln was afraid to protest too strongly. He was learning that in the ancient days it was not wise to cross the gods. They were all learning.
Tiamut looked at him which caused him to look away. “Yes, your human wife and her elf father. They were wise enough to perceive my wall outside the wall and went around. But no, you will never see them again, not the father you fear nor the abomination you married.”
“But my wife,” Lincoln started to speak, but Tiamut interrupted.
“My priest is unscrupulous, greedy, manipulative and full of many such admirable qualities, but do not worry, I will set a guard for the night. Now you must sleep and rest while I decide how I will use you.” She waved her hand and the travelers fell to the ground where they were. As they fell into a fitful, nightmare-filled sleep they heard the laughter of Tiamut, goddess of chaos, float away on the wind.
Katie was the first to wake, and she found herself very comfortable in Lockhart’s arms. In a way, she hated to wake him. After the rough start to the night, everyone slept wonderfully well, or at least she did. Lockhart looked to be very comfortable as well.
“Robert,” Katie backed up a bit and shook him. With that sound, Roland sat up on the other side of the fire. As Katie and Lockhart separated with looks of uncertainty, Boston pulled Roland back down so she could snuggle a bit more. She wasn’t finished sleeping.
Lincoln in the middle had his arms around two unknown women and both Katie and Lockhart were surprised to see such a smile on Lincoln’s face. Everyone was fully dressed, but Lincoln was grinning as wide as his face could go.
“He is dreaming about his wife,” the blond woman spoke up.
“She must be very nice,” the dark haired woman added, and since the two women were awake they both sat up and then stood up.
“I’m KimKeri,” the blond intoned in a voice deep and filled with promise.
“I’m AhnYani,” the dark haired, well tanned woman spoke in a devil-may-care tone.
“Young goddesses of love,” Roland was up again, and this time he stood and bowed.
“Of the lesser variety,” AhnYani sighed like a child who was not allowed out to play.
“And just as trapped here as you,” KimKeri also sighed like a woman who only wanted to satisfy her man. The men heard that, but so did the women. Katie and Boston both stepped in front of Lockhart and Roland.
“Don’t fret,” KimKeri continued. “We have no interest in your men. We were sent to guard you in the night. That is all.”
“But our mistress did not say anything about the day.” AhnYani spoke with glee in her voice and a twinkle in her eye. “If we happen to be going to visit our friend Cophu, I suppose we can’t help it if you happen to follow us.”
“Give us a minute to get our horses saddled and ready,” Lockhart replied. He had no doubt in his mind these lesser goddesses meant what they said.
“More than a minute,” KimKeri said. She waved her arm and a table full of food and all sorts of delicacies appeared. “I would hardly be worthy of the name, goddess of satisfaction if I let you go hungry.” She waved her other arm. “And grain for the horses. Let them enjoy the morning.”
“And what are you goddess of?” Katie asked AhnYani as she stepped up beside Lockhart. Without thinking, Katie slipped her arm around the man’s waist. He let his fall across her shoulder. They turned their heads to each other and let their lips touch. Then at once they separated, though it was clear that they both needed to think about what just happened.
“Wait a minute,” Boston shouted and turned Roland to face her. She kissed him, she did not just touch his lips, and to be fair he kissed her right back.
“Now, AhnYani that will be quite enough,” KimKeri scolded. “Spontaneity. She is spontaneous joy and love,” KimKeri described her friend as she looked down at Lincoln. He was stirring, still dreaming before he bolted upright.
“Alexis!” He looked around and saw Roland and Boston, the two strange women, the table filled with breakfast and Lockhart and Katie Harper who seemed to have no eyes for anything but each other, but no Alexis. “What is going on?”