Lockhart explained for Katie, and Roland if he did not know. “The Elenar are one of the two primary elder races that survived the flood by moving out into space using Agdaline technology. The Elenar are like proto-humans or Cro-Magnon. The Neanderthals, that is the Gott-Druk you have already met.
“And this is an Elenar ship?” Katie was just checking. When Lockhart nodded she asked her real question. “Why don’t they repair it themselves?”
“They lost a section of the bulkhead,” Cophu interrupted. “Space got their engineering staff and most of the technical staff as well. They still have their pilot and he can take the rest of the crew home if they have a working ship.”
“Will you be able to fix it?” Boston wondered.
“Replacing the bulkhead is easy. We just use some of their inner walls and double reinforce them. My little ones about have that done already. And as far as I can tell, the actual explosion that blew out the bulkhead did not really damage any of their systems. I’ll spend tomorrow doing a systems check, but I expect no problems.” He looked over at the ship where the fires burned and the sound of the night shift could be heard in the clang of metal against metal.
“Where is home?” Lockhart had his head pointed up at the stars.
“About there.” Cophu pointed at a star, though it was hard to tell exactly which star since after the rain the sky had turned perfectly clear and cloudless and it was covered with millions of stars.
“These are the same stars Abraham looked at,” Lincoln mused. “And he was told his seed would number more than the stars in the heavens. Looking at this sky I can understand why that was so hard to believe.”
“If you don’t mind,” Cophu gave Lincoln a hard stare. “That has not happened yet so I would appreciate you keeping such things to yourself.”
“We have broken that rule a few times so far. Sorry.” Boston apologized for them all as Ranna came out from the house.
“All asleep,” she announced quietly. She stepped over to the fire and sat beside Cophu. She took his hand which he was happy to give her. “I thought the boys would never get to sleep with all the excitement today.”
Lockhart looked at Katie. It was the first time he looked at her all evening. She did not seem to notice, but when he turned back to the fire, she looked at him. “Well, we have had some excitement today as well,” Lockhart said. “We should also get to sleep if we hope to get an early start in the morning.” He got up, said goodnight and went to the tent he shared with Roland. Katie stood as well.
“Coming Boston?” Boston let go of Roland’s hand and followed. Lincoln had his own tent at his insistence, but sometimes he slept by the fire.
Cophu said nothing. He did not want to jinx them. He took Ranna quietly into the house and to bed.
Come the dawn, there was quiet down by the Elenar ship. The travelers packed quickly and as quietly as they could, but were not surprised to find Cophu and Ranna up to see them off. The two held each other in the morning mist, and Ranna whispered in Cophu’s ear.
“Will they be able to get through?”
“I don’t think so,” Cophu admitted while he smiled and waved.
“The trail is clear enough,” Boston said from the front. “All we have to do is follow the trench made by all those ogres that dragged in the Elenar ship.”
“I just hope none of those ogres stuck around after the job was done,” Lincoln said. Boston and Roland looked back and Katie and Lockhart looked up as well. “What? It’s my job to say things like that.”
“So when do you think we will reach the wall of Chaos?” Katie asked quietly.
“We should feel it, like coming in. You remember, that static electricity feeling,” Lockhart answered with equal quiet, and then they rode in silence.
The way was in truth easy to where Roland only had to ride out front a few times to check sounds in the distance. It was all farm fields at first, mostly wheat and some rye. The sky remained clear, and the sun came out so it got warm, but not too hot. In all, it was a pleasant ride and all went well until Roland called the group to halt.
“Hold your horses quiet,” Roland said softly. He had his elf ears tuned to something. He turned after a moment and looked at Lincoln. “It sounds like a horse up ahead, but you better let me check it out first.”
“That’s an order.” Lockhart quickly spoke from the rear. Lincoln turned with his face full of hope that it might be Alexis, but he was good and waited. Boston, who was up front, kept her eyes on Roland for as long as she could. She shrieked. It startled everyone.
“He vanished,” she said, and raced forward. With one “damn,” from Lockhart since the others were obliged to follow her.
“Roland? Roland?” Boston began to call out as she rode.
“Roland?” Lockhart added his voice to the call and Lincoln and Katie echoed him, but at last he forced Boston to halt. “We may have passed him,” he said. “We might need to turn around and check off the trail for signs of him.”
“No. I looked at the grain on either side as we went by. It hasn’t been disturbed.” Boston was in a fretful state.
“I have to say I checked, too.” Katie spoke up. “If he left the trail, I missed it.”
“Wait,” Lincoln made Boston pause. She already had her horse turned. “What is that?” He pointed. It was the Elenar ship. It could be seen even if the houses near it were still hidden by the grain.
“We can’t have gotten turned around,” Lockhart said. Again, Boston did not wait. She turned away from sight of the ship and spurred her horse to a run. Again the others were obliged to follow.
“Roland! Roland!” She called, but there was no answer, and in less than ten minutes they were back at Lincoln’s spot, staring at the distant ship.
“But we never turned around.” Katie insisted and no one argued.
“Roland!” Boston stood up in her stirrups and shouted as loud as she could.
“Look here,” Katie was being practical. Lincoln looked as did Lockhart, but Lockhart kept one eye on Boston. “I can see where our tracks galloped off from here.” Katie pointed in the direction that would take them away from the ship.
“What does the amulet say?” Lockhart asked.
Boston paused. She pulled it out and stared at it. She looked up and looked bewildered and a little afraid. “It doesn’t say anything.”
“Tiamut’s wall,” Lincoln said. “Apparently she did not want the elf.”