Avalon 2.5: Things of Power

            Only a guess, mind you, but I believe the bokarus is not finished finding new and inventive ways to try and kill the travelers; and if the natives and native village gets crushed in the process I imagine the green man would think all the better.

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            The hillside just outside the camp was clear of trees and covered only in the tall grasses of late summer.  The camp itself was nestled among the trees and the edge of the forest proper.  At the moment, more than a hundred buffalo were careening down that grassy hill in utter panic, a true stampede, and the only thing that stood between the buffalo and the camp was nothing.         

            “Lincoln!”  Lockhart shouted and pulled his thirty-eight.  The pistol might prove of little value, but it was better long range than the shotgun.  Lincoln stepped up beside Katie.  They had the high powered rifles, and Katie started the action. 

            “Go for between the eyes,” Katie said.  “Hit the ones out front.  The ones behind might stumble or turn aside.”  Three of the beasts fell in short order.

            “Easy for you,” Lincoln said as he began to fire.  Five more fell before the buffalo reached the bottom of the hill and the far edge of the camp.  Several were also standing or stumbling around like they were injured from tripping over the fallen ones, but the majority were not slowing significantly.

            “Rapid fire,” Katie said, and she and Lincoln turned a switch on their rifles.  They sprayed the front of the herd with bullets even as Lockhart chimed in with his police pistol.  Boston added her Beretta, though it was pretty useless against such big animals.  Roland retrieved Decker’s pistol from Decker’s old saddle bag and fired as well.

            Another half-dozen went down along with several tents before Elder Stow stepped up and let his sonic device whine.  “Within range,” he said.  The buffalo turned.  They did not exactly race back up the hill, but the high-pitched squeal finally turned them so they roared off at an angle to miss the rest of the camp.  Everyone breathed deeply.

            `While the travelers talked softly and patted each other for reassurance, Huyana reached up and closed Ogalalo’s mouth.  “You see?” she said.  “They could have wiped out your whole tribe before supper if they wanted to.”  She paused and kissed that mouth, and it was a poor-Ogalalo-will-never-recover kind of kiss.  When she was finished, Huyana kept talking like she was uninterrupted.  “Fortunately for you these are good people, like I said.  You should learn to ask.  Asking is good.  Demanding sometimes just makes people mad.”

            “Hey!”  Lockhart interrupted.  “You have fifteen or so animals ready to supply meat and warm skins for the winter.  You better get your people on them before they start to rot.”

            Ogalalo broke free of the trance he was under.  He might have been excused.  He was holding his beloved, and with that in mind, he quickly kissed Huyana again on the lips and then stepped away to begin shouting at all of the men in the camp and most of the women and children as well.

            Huyana raised her eyebrows and touched her lips like this was the first time Ogalalo kissed her.  She looked at Aster who came up and also kissed her, but on the cheek.  “Are you going to introduce us to your friends?”

            “Oh, yeah.”  Huyana was being neglectful in her duties.  She clapped her hands to get everyone’s attention and then she said everyone’s names, beginning with herself and pointing to each one along the way.  “Huyana, Aster, Roland, Boston, Katie, Lockhart, Lincoln, Elder Stow, Tooter, Dingle, Blocker, Digger, Piebald, Picky and Gome, and I’m Huyana.”  Gome was the smallest of the lot, but he had a hard look on his face like he was not going to take any guff from anyone, least of all a bunch of human beings, big as they might be.  Boston imagined with that look he might stare down an ogre.

            “Mostly she calls him Gomer,” Tooter said, “Like Gomer Pyle,” and he snickered.

            “Yeah?” Gome spoke up.  “Well at least it is safe to be in the same room with me.”

            “And what is it you do?” Katie changed the subject.  There had already been a couple of fistfights since the arrival of the dwarfs and she thought a change in the conversation was in order.  Anyway, she was enchanted by the little ones as always.  Lockhart was more the opposite.  He kept one step behind Katie and stared over her shoulder.

            “We’re prospectors,” Digger said.

            “We were prospectors,” Picky corrected the dwarf.

            “What?”  Lincoln stepped up.  “Like there’s gold in them thar hills?”

            “What? Where?  Which hills?”  the Dwarfs got excited.

            “Just an expression.  Not real.  I was kidding.” Lincoln said quickly.

            “No surprise.”  Piebald moped.  “All we find around here is black gooey stuff in the ground.”

            “Oil?”  Lincoln wondered.

            “That’s the stuff,” Piebald said.

            “And granite.  Lots of granite,” Picky added.

            “Hey lady.”  Dingle came up to Boston.  “Want to buy a diamond.”  He pulled a crystal the size of Boston’s fist out of an unseen pocket and held it up to her so she could see the dazzle in the late afternoon sun.

            “No money,” Boston admitted with a shrug.

            “What’s money?”  Tooter asked.

            “Never heard of money,” Picky admitted. 

            “You got trade.”  Dingle was not going to stray from his mark.

            “I don’t think so,” Roland interrupted the bargain as he stepped up and slipped his arm over Boston’s shoulder.

            “Ooo, uppity elfity –“

            “Ahem!” Aster cleared her throat and the dwarf swallowed his words and moved on to Katie.

            “How about you, Lady?”

            “That is not a diamond.  That is quartz,” Katie said and turned her head to Lockhart.  “I took basic geology in college.”

            “Quartz?  I got snookered?”  Dingle put on a good show.  “Still, very sparkly, mind you, and mighty fine to look at.  Make a fine necklace.”

            “She’s one of the elect.”  Blocker tapped Dingle on the shoulder.  “Dangerous trade if you ask me, especially if she feels taken.”

            “Sorry mam,” Dingle tipped his hat wanting no part of crossing Katie.  He went right back to Boston like he had never talked to her before.

            “Mind you, very sparkly.  Make a fine bracelet.  Maybe a wedding crown?”  He smiled way too much.

            “She’s a witch,” Blocker said.

            “Oh, never mind.” Dingle slipped the quartz back in his pocket and quickly faded into the group as Ogalalo ran up.

            “You must stay the night,” he told the travelers who looked around at the camp outside of what was happening in their little circle.  It would be dark soon enough.  Staying was not a bad idea.  “All of you.  Stay.  We will have a real feast.”  Ogalalo looked very happy, and Lockhart and Katie both imagined it was as close as they were going to get to an apology.  “If those Onakatta thought that stampede would hurt us, how wrong they were.”  Ogalalo thought the turn of those tables was delicious.  Lockhart hated to pour vinegar on the man’s treat.

            “I doubt it was the Onakatta.  Probably the bokarus started the stampede.”

            Ogalalo lost his smile and looked again to the sky and all around.  He had forgotten.  He spoke again, but this time with far less conviction.  “You stay anyway.  We feast.”  He ran back to the kill.

            People looked at Lockhart.  “Unpack.”  That was all he had to say and they went for their tents.

            “Aster,” Huyana said and Aster stepped up to walk beside her.  Huyana was going down to the kill site herself.  She wanted another taste of those lips.

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Avalon 2.5:  Getting Out Alive … Next Time

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