Avalon 2.6: Escape and Discovery

            Well, the rest of the travelers slept for at least half a night before and Elenar ship found them and the enemy came charging out of the wood with the sole desire of killing them and eating them.

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            Katie was the first to fire at the oncoming horde.  Lockhart’s first thought was for the horses.  “To the barn,” he yelled.

            “Back door!” Lincoln pointed at the barn and yelled back.

            “Our equipment!” Katie joined in the yelling and pointed to the house.

            “Damn,” Lockhart expressed himself.

            “We will pick you up out back.”  Roland finished the conversation.  To be sure, most of the camp was packed and ready to go.  Only Lockhart and Katie still had their bags in the house.

            “Come on,” Lockhart yelled at the three Elenar that had gone to their knees in firing position and were taking a toll on the attackers.  Arrows were beginning to come in their direction, and while they still fell short, they would not fall short for long.  “Come on,” Lockhart was a bit more insistent and got the leader’s attention.  Lockhart pointed to the house and the Elder nodded and barked orders.  They fell back to the house.

            Katie already had the bags in hand.  “Out the back,” he told her.  There was a window and she dove through it.  “Come. hurry.”  The Elenar were not sure what he had in mind, but they knew their three handguns, as advanced as they were, would not hold off this attack or even make much of a dent in it.

            Lockhart got out as Roland brought up his horse.  He mounted and put a hand down for the Elenar leader.  The leader did not look sure, but he took the hand and Lockhart hauled him up behind and told him to hold on.  The other two got up behind Roland and Lincoln and avoided the human female, though the one behind the elf looked very uncomfortable.

            They rode hard for the woods on the far side of the field, and Katie was glad she was not burdened with an extra rider.  It gave her the chance to turn, fire on the enemy as they rounded the building, and still turn again to catch up.  By then the Elenar ship came in to cover their retreat.  This enemy had no weapon to match the flying machine, but they did have some runners among the spirits that could race a horse.  Fortunately, the ship could target them even at that speed, and it was not long before three of those darting Elenar fighters joined the battle. 

            The riders found what appeared to be a natural path through the woods.  They revised their idea of natural when they discovered it led to a village.  It was a primitive, mobile village that was deserted some time ago.  They decided deserted rather than overrun because of the lack of bodies.

            “Who knows if that means anything, though,” Katie said when they stopped to check for pursuit.  “They may have eaten the dead.”

            “No bones,” Lincoln pointed out, and no one wanted to argue that even the bones might have been eaten by one group or the other.

            The Elenar all got down carefully.  They were shaken, frightened by the horses far more than by the enemy.

            “Invigorating,” the Elenar leader said and stepped aside to put his finger to his ear again.  “They have retreated back to the woods from whence they came.  Our ship has zeroed in on our position and will be here in a second, not that you would understand anything about flying in a ship or how it might find us,.”

            “Radar or geo-positioning?”  Lockhart asked, and the Elenar looked surprised.

            “Might be radio if they each have a micro transmitter, like sewn in a pocket, that could show them permanently on a grid,” Katie suggested.

             “But too easy to jam,” Lincoln said.  “Maybe they have a simple scanner on the ship that can track their life-signs.”

            “Who are you people?”  The Elenar asked as the ship appeared over the trees and set down in the adjacent field.

            “People who don’t belong here,” Lockhart said honestly enough. 

            “And there you are.”  They heard the woman before they saw her.  When she manifested, Katie’s face lit up. 

            “Artemis?”

            “Yes, my elect.”

            “Boston?” Lockhart voiced his first thought.

            “Safe,” Artemis said and she raised her arms and they vanished, horses and all.  They reappeared beside the entrance to a tunnel.  “The main cavern is about two miles in.  Tetamon set up a nine square mile area that does not appear to exist in the world so even the opposing titans cannot detect it.  Cheating, I know, but at least the refugees are safe for now.  Don’t be long.”  Artemis vanished down the hole and even the horses at full speed could not have kept up.

            “Curiouser and curiouser,” Katie said.

            “Lamps,” Lockhart said.  “We have a rabbit hole to negotiate.”

            “If it is big enough for trolls and ogres we can probably ride the whole way,” Roland said.

            “Comforting thought,” Lincoln frowned and they started into the tunnel.

            They walked the horses after one point in the tunnel narrowed.  In that way it took them an hour before they came out into the great cavern.  Gnomes were waiting for them and quickly relieved them of their horses.  It was an ordinary man who led them after that, straight to the chamber where Tetamon was waiting. 

            “Lockhart.”  Tetamon recognized them right away, and though they had never seen him before, they knew him once he spoke.  They also knew KimKeri and AhnYani and were pleased to see them safe and free of Jericho.

            Boston was still sleeping comfortably, but it was enough to see her.  They did not have to wake her.  That left them at liberty to ask about Elder Stow.

            “No trace of him,” Tetamon admitted.  “With so many competing powers on the field, even the gods are hampered in what they can do.  We retrieved Captain Decker’s horse.”

            “You did that,” AhnYani said with a joyful voice of praise.

            “Nameless did that,” Tetamon corrected.  “Wlvn plugged Nameless in when you first got your horses.  Nameless is still connected to them, not as strongly as you are connected, but certainly strong enough.”

            “But the Gott-Druk?” Lincoln asked.

            “I fear he may have gone to join his people,” Tetamon admitted what they all feared.

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Avalon 2.6:  Lost and Found … Next Time

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