The Buffalo burgers were good, but now it is time to move on. Lincoln and Lockhart especially want to get back to the twenty-first century before they became old men again.
Lockhart secretly set a watch in the night. It was only one person for a couple of hours each so no one went without rest. Even so, when he woke up in the morning he found a stranger beside the campfire and a pile of their things beside him. With his eyes half closed, his feet stumbling and his brain lacking his morning coffee, Lockhart nevertheless recognized that the stranger was not human and patted himself on the back for that realization. For one, when the stranger stood and turned to face Lockhart, he proved to be nearly nine feet tall. For two, Lockhart thought his sleepy eyes were tricking him at first since it looked like a bush grew up in the night beside the fire. Even when the stranger faced him, he looked something like the trees with bark-like skin, vines for hair and tree trunk knots for his mouth and eyes.
“I am Deep Roots,” the stranger introduced himself. “I cannot stay long away from my trees, but I thought I should help. Huyana is not always on top of every situation and I suspected the little diggers would rob you in the night.”
“My thanks,” Lockhart said.
“Think nothing of it,” Deep roots said and let a smile creak across his face before he vanished. Huyana came stumbling up, Aster trailing, as Katie brought Lockhart his coffee.
“What is all this?” Huyana pointed to the pile
“Your dwarfs borrowed a few of our things in the night,” Lockhart said. “I hope they didn’t break anything.”
Huyana looked suddenly unhappy. “Lady, remember the Earth, the sea and the sky,” Aster whispered. Huyana took a deep breath and then called, “Dwarfs!”
All seven appeared, tied together in a group with Decker’s rope. They were gagged as well with bits of leather, and not one of them could wiggle enough to get free. Boston came out of her tent in time to laugh. Roland, who was with the horses also laughed as he came over to untie them and collect the rope. The dwarfs pulled off their own gags and yelled, mostly all at once.
“It was Deep Roots. We found this stuff fair and square. We could have been rich. He stole it from us. We just want what is ours.”
“These are our things,” Katie said, reasonably. Boston interrupted.
“Three second rule. All this stuff has been sitting here untouched for three seconds. I claim it.”
“Oh, buggers. Toots. Twaddle,” the dwarfs swore and added a few real words as well.
Huyana put her hands on her hips and tapped her moccasin. It made a surprisingly crisp sound on the dirt. The dwarfs noticed, whipped off their hats and put on their most humble and sorry expressions. Huyana was not fooled. “Three seconds or not, everything these people brought with them is theirs, not yours. You so much as touch one of their things again and you should have your fingers burned.”
Aster stepped up and took Huyana’s hand, but it was too late. Digger cried, “uh-oh,” and whipped something out of his pocket and tossed it to Picky who tossed it to the next one. It was the ultimate game of hot potato, but the potato was Boston’s Beretta. Finally, Gome had the sense to toss it to the pile. It went off when it landed, but by some unknown grace, the bullet missed everyone.
“Now, enough,” Huyana had to take several breaths and squeeze Aster’s hand several times before she could speak. “I am asking you, will you escort my friends to the next time gate. They will know the way, but I need someone to guard them from the bokarus. Will you do this for me?”
“Bokarus is spooky,” Picky spoke for the group. “And what might we expect –“
“This is not a bargain! It is yes or no.” Huyana shouted and squeezed Aster’s hand several more times while the dwarfs all said, “Yes, sure, of course.” Huyana squeezed once more before she said, “Thank you.” Then she let go of Aster’s hand. Aster whipped the hand to her mouth to hold back the tears. Her hand got a serious workout, squeezed again and again by her own goddess, but she would do it again. She did not mind, really.
Ogalalo came up to join them for breakfast and marveled at the bread they offered. Then he saw them mount to ride out.
“We may not make it in a day if we walk the horses the whole way,” Boston said mostly to herself. Huyana heard. She was ignoring Ogalalo.
“The dwarfs will protect you in the night. They will take you all the way to the time gate as promised. Isn’t that right?”
“Oh,yes. Yes mam. Absolutely. Time gate it is.” Gome was the one who asked. “What’s a time gate?”
Huyana sighed. “You will know when you get there, only you are not permitted to go through the gate.”
“Oh yes, absolutely.”
“Just like a real goddess,” Dingle spoke up with pride in his voice. “Cryptic as the best of them. What’s a time gate? You’ll know when you get there. Yes, sir. Just like a real goddess, she is.”
“Ogalalo?” Huyana could not ignore him any longer.
“I wanted to warn your friends to beware the Onakatta if their way takes them into the next valley. They are a treacherous and cruel people best avoided.”
“Thank you for the warning,” Lockhart said as he started out.
“And thank you for the feast,” Katie added.
Boston thought to say something else. “Good-bye Huyana. We love you.” Huyana started to cry when she heard that and Aster and Ogalalo did their best to comfort her, but the dwarfs all began to argue about which one of them was really about to say that, except the dumb human beat them to it.
The tapestry of life is three dimensional. It has layers, but life gets confusing when the layers begin to interweave and the colors bleed into one another, and when war is the reason, it also gets downright dangerous.
Avalon 2.6: Multiple Worlds … Next Time