Alexis and her father Mingus are alive and well, all things considered, and Elder Stow, one of those dreaded Gott-Druk, is a prisoner of the elves. Tsk, tsk.
“I am sorry, young Lincoln. I did not expect treachery.” Elder Stow shook his head, sadly.
“Captain.” Tetamon called the elf to get off the floor. The elf was shaking once he discovered that this particular Gott-Druk was with the friends of the Kairos. Tetamon just looked at the elf for a minute before he spoke. “You did your best in a confusing situation and that is all I can ask. You brought the elder Gott-Druk here without harm, and you respected the elder of your own people. Respect is never a bad thing. Learn and grow. Dismissed.”
The elf had a tear in his eye as he left and realized that nothing bad was going to happen to him for messing up and letting the others get away. He would work twice as hard after that to be sure he did twice as good a job.
“But what about your people?” Boston asked.
Elder Stow shrugged. “Stupid and stubborn. I may have planted some seeds. Domnu has promised them the land of what you call Western Europe. It is our old land, you know. But as you humans say, you can’t make a deal with the devil and expect it to come out heavenly.” Elder Stow shrugged again. “I will say this also. Her humans are starving. Children are dying of hunger, and some females. The men are grumbling and may rebel. Who can say?”
“We may turn the Gott-Druk,” Tetamon spoke up. “The men may rebel, and every day we are seeing Little Ones repent their rebellion and switch sides. But all of this will mean nothing if we cannot drive back the titans. I have every hope that mother will be able to persuade the gods of Egypt. If Amon, Ptah, Bast, Anubis, Wadjt and others come, they have the least claim on this land. I am certain Aesgard will come in force and probably Olympus as well. That should be plenty to turn back the titans, but then how we settle the claims between them may be another problem.”
“What if the gods start fighting each other over the land?” Katie asked.
“The whole earth might end up in a ball of flame,” Tetamon shrugged like the Gott-Druk.
“But that didn’t happen in history,” Lincoln protested. “If it had, we would not have been born.”
“History is in flux,” Tetamon responded. “What you say and what I remember about the future gives me hope that a solution will be found, but we still have to find it. I can’t just sit back and assume it will all work out. My memories of the future and your lives are uncertain right now. It can all be changed.”
“So it is possible we might never exist,” Lockhart summed things up, and Tetamon nodded. “Sounds like this watching over history business is not so easy.”
“Figuring out how to keep it from all falling apart can be hard,” Tetamon admitted.
“How can we help?” Boston was first in line to volunteer.
“I’m not sure we can,” Roland spoke to her.
“That’s right,” Tetamon said. “The best help right now is for you to move on. That is one less thing for me to worry about. I am just sorry you couldn’t come at a point in my life when I was alone and bored.”
“Me too,” Boston said.
“We do have Alexis and Mingus to follow now. We should be hot on their trail and might catch them soon.” Lockhart put a hand on Lincoln’s shoulder to encourage the man.
Lincoln looked at his boss. “Thanks.”
They gathered the horses first thing in the morning and found them well groomed, well fed and rested. They imagined it might give them an advantage in catching up to Alexis and Mingus and their worn out steeds. Elder Stow grumbled at the prospect of riding again, but Decker’s horse did not seem to mind. On the other hand, he was not the only one relieved to know they would be traveling away from the battle front.
The elf Captain, Arturo and his troop were assigned to protect their flanks and rear. That meant they could not move too swiftly with the horses, but in any case it was going to take them more than a day to reach the time gate. Lincoln was mostly good about it. Sometimes he cursed the pace saying they would never catch Alexis at that rate. At other times, when he looked around at the devastated landscape. he worried that without help, Alexis and her father might have been captured again and end up lost in that time zone forever, or killed. But mostly he was quiet, and that was fine with Elder Stow who had no conversation left in him.
The forest they traveled through was thin, and even as they increased the distance from the actual fighting there were signs of burned trees and fallow fields. The few huts they saw were all abandoned. And there was a pall in the sky which probably meant it was going to snow again, but all it did was dampen everyone’s spirits.
“I bet this place was once beautiful,” Katie whispered.
“War is Hell,” Lockhart responded.
Katie and Lockhart whispered from time to time as they brought up the rear, but it was not really about anything in particular. Roland kept his peace most of the way, but an elf maid was assigned to run at the front of the group beside Boston and those two soon became involved in a real discussion. Some of it was about Roland which was perhaps why he wisely remained silent. Some of it was about magic, and the maid, Linnia became animated when she discovered that Boston had some abilities in that direction. Most of it was about being an elf, about life and culture and work such as elves did in the grand scheme of the earth. Boston got excited when the conversation turned to talk about Avalon. Boston was interested, but not surprised to find out that one day on Avalon could be worth three or four days on earth, or a third of a day, depending. It made sense in a twisted sort of second heavens kind of way. She was also not surprised to find Linnia had only been there once as a young girl. Boston imagined Avalon was a nice place to rest for a time, but not meant as a permanent residence to take the Little Ones out of the world altogether.
They halted to camp for the night when Captain Arturo, Roland and Lockhart all agreed on a defensible position. Katie confirmed the choice with a nod that neither Lockhart nor Roland missed. Lockhart once relied on Decker’s counsel, but he was finding Katie could judge such matters just as well, and in some ways perhaps better, as a woman might see it. Thus they stopped, gathered wood for a fire and Boston got to practice her little magic to start the fire.
“The Amazons called me Little Fire,” Boston admitted after she calmed from her excitement at lighting the fire with magic alone.
“And you are,” Linnia said. “But it is enough.” She smiled. They were friends by then and would remain so no matter how many millennia ended up separating them.
There was not much to put on the fire, but the travelers had plenty of elf bread. The dwarfs complained and the ogre would not touch it, but no one starved. For everyone’s safety, the Little Ones shared their meat with the ogre first.”
“When the ogre is fed you are safe in your bed,” Boston repeated what the Kairos once told her.
“That is very good,” Captain Arturo said. “I will have to remember that.”
“Isn’t it a well known expression among the elves?”
“No,” Roland and Lincoln spoke together, and Roland added, “But it is now.”
“But what is that?” Katie took everyone’s attention as she pointed off into the dark. A string of dim lights stretched across the horizon some distance from the camp, undulating up and down like a snake slithering through the air about five feet above the earth.
Avalon 2.6: Traveling Mercies … Next Time