After the attack of the bokarus, the shaman wants to sacrifice the travelers, and he has a dozen armed men to back him up. The travelers still have their handguns and steel knives but then a woman’s voice interrupts the Mexican standoff. A referee, or more fuel to the fire?
“Huyana.” Ogalalo recognized the woman that bounced up and down on the back of the great beast. Huyana was far from a horsewoman, but rode up and got down carefully. Roland brought up the rest of the horses with strange looking riders in his trail. There was a beautiful elf maiden on one horse, and the other three horses carried dwarfs. Two bounced on Lincoln’s horse, two on Lockhart’s and three on poor Decker’s horse, and they complained the whole way.
“You let my friends go!” Huyana yelled at the Shaman as soon as she felt the earth under her feet again.
“I have no quarrel with you,” Ogalalo said and took a step back.
“You have a quarrel if you mean to harm my friends,” Huyana responded.
“But the Elder Elf and his daughter said they were people of great power. You know the Onakatta tribe we struggle with. I only hoped to help my people.”
“By stealing? By holding innocent people hostage? By making more enemies? Did you ask first if they might help you? These are good people. If you have a genuine need, they would help. No. You never thought to ask. All you think is to take, you brute.”
“I’m sorry,” Ogalalo borrowed Boston’s word. “I didn’t think. I am sorry.” He waved his hand, angrily and the men with their spears went back about their business.
“We had a visit from the bokarus,” Boston told Roland. Roland relieved Lockhart of holding duty, but Boston was about able to stand on her own by then.
“Ahem,” the young elf maid coughed. It was a time honored nudge.
“Boston, this is Aster. Aster, Boston.”
“Hi,” Boston said and gulped. This maid was lovely beyond words, or anyway beyond her words.
“Good to meet you. I have heard so much about you,” Aster said, and Boston fought to keep her nose from turning up. Aster even sounded beautiful.
“Oh?” Boston stood up instead and looked at Roland who gave Aster a mean stare.
“So then the bokarus flew off,” Lincoln finished explaining as Lockhart moved Katie off to the side.
“What did you think you were doing?” he asked her.
“I was trying to get us out of here. I was trying to get him to let us go.”
“You were busy showing off. elect or not, you don’t willingly step into a circle of spears. That is a good way to get yourself killed.”
“I don’t work for you,” Katie said.
“No? You going to go back to some Marine Corps, Pentagon desk?”
Katie paused. “Okay, I work for you, but that doesn’t mean I can’t show initiative.”
“It doesn’t give you the right to behave stupidly either.”
“What I did was not stupid.”
“It was stupid showing off and you are not allowed to get hurt.”
“Well, you are not allowed to get hurt either.”
“Yes, but I still have those Gaian healing chits running through me.”
“But the Kairos said not to depend on them.”
Well, the same goes for you.”
“Well, I didn’t get hurt.”
“Well I’m glad.”
“So am I.”
“People!” Huyana yelled as one of the dwarfs put his fingers to his lips and let out a shrill whistle. Roland, Boston and Aster looked up from one direction. Katie and Lockhart looked up from the other. Lincoln stopped babbling with Ogalalo and Elder Stow. “You need to get your things back for the journey. Am I the only one here with any sense? There’s a switch.”
“Nice crew,” Lincoln said, referring to the dwarfs that crowded around and made the people in the village keep their distance, the ones that were not already keeping back.
“Thanks,” Huyana said before she realized Lincoln was not being serious. She explained anyway. “Aster keeps me sane. She is my nurse in the Dryad’s house in the forest. I left the ogre at the house because Ogalalo is scared of him.”
“I am not.”
“Yes you are, and good thing it wasn’t the right time of day for the goblins.” She winked at the Shaman. “Then there are my dwarf buddies. There are seven of them and I don’t want to hear one wisecrack. I can’t get rid of them. I think if I went to the moon they would track me down. They followed me all the way from the desert, where I used to live.”
“The Mojave?” Boston asked innocently and Aster touched Boston’s arm and shook her head but it was too late.
“Yes,” Huyana said, and she began to cry. “And I am so sorry I made them come. Please. I didn’t mean to make them come.”
Aster moved as did Katie, but Boston got there first to hug Huyana.
“Why am I alive?” Huyana said quietly in Boston’s shoulder. “Why can’t I just die and be done with it all like any normal person. I’m so tired and I screw up everything I touch.”
“Hush,” Boston said softly in return before she did something that surprised everyone, most of all Ogalalo. She placed Huyana in the man’s arms. He held her at first like she was a soft flower, easily crushed. But after a moment he bent to kiss the top of her head and pulled her in to comfort her.
“We have to find our own things,” Elder Stow said. Lincoln shrugged and they went in search. Katie and Lockhart stared at Huyana and Ogalalo and at each other.
“I’ll make sure the horses are ready,” Roland said and went down the line.
Aster stepped up to Boston’s side and spoke to her alone. “I have only just met him, but I would say you are a very lucky woman.”
“I know,” Boston said as she watched Ogalalo’s face turn to one of pure joy.
“As long as you know you are lucky, I am content.” Aster said.
When the men came back with their equipment and supplies, Katie checked her rifle first while Lockhart checked his shotgun. There was the sound of distant thunder and one of the dwarfs stepped up.
“Powerful weather,” A second said.
“But I am smelling something more,” a third spoke up.
“Something is on the hoof and sounds like thunder,” said the fourth, and they saw it as a woman screamed and came running into the village. A herd of Buffalo was headed straight toward them.
Avalon 2.5: Things of Power … Next Time