Avalon 2.6: Traveling Mercies

            When the travelers discovered they would be more of a hindrance than a help in the war, they reluctantly decide to more on.  Getting out of the war zone was good, but it hardly meant they were out of danger.

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            The line of lights in the dark steadied for a moment and Katie wondered if it was some kind of ground machine, like a truck with side lights.  “Is it Gott-Druk?” she asked.

            “No,” Elder Stow said flatly.

            “How about a dragon hunting near the ground?” Lockhart wondered with a look at Lincoln.

            “Thanks!” Lincoln sat up straight.  “That is an image I won’t soon forget.”

            Gimble, the chief dwarf stood, squinted, and then let out a whistle guaranteed loud enough and shrill enough to crack a window.  The string of lights wavered, turned, and fluttered straight for them.  The humans might have been afraid if the little ones were not so relaxed about it.  When the lights arrived, it turned out to be fairies, as many as a hundred, and they went mostly for the trees for the night, but a number of them paused to examine the horses first.  Two, one golden lit male and one bluish lit female made a special effort to pause before each human face around that camp.  They hesitated in front of Elder Stow as well, but only very briefly.  They also hardly paused at the elves and dwarfs as if they knew what they were and had no real interest in them.

            “It is as we heard,” the female spoke.  “Humans and spirits working together.” 

            “Strange,” the male said.  “And the gods divided and alien creatures fighting beside the rest.”

            “We are not aliens,” Elder Stow spoke up loudly.  “Our genesis was on this world the same as the humans.  We have as much right to be here as they do.”

            “But you are no longer authorized to be on this world.  By decree of the gods, it is a human world now.”  Lockhart spoke the truth of it.

            Elder Stow got a little hot.  “But the gods have gone away, at least in our day.”

            “Hey!” Roland, Boston, Katie and Lincoln all spoke up.  “You are not to speak of future things like that.”

            Elder Stow paused and looked around the group and ended with a look at Katie.  “Mother.  My apologies.  I did not mean to speak out of turn.”

            “Accepted,” Katie said without hesitation.  Her eyes were on the blue glowing fairy.  “I knew a fairy once that was blue like you.  Her name was Bluebell.”

            The blue fairy rushed up to Katie’s face.  “My mother’s name was Bluebell,” she said. 

            “But it couldn’t be,” Katie shook her head, sadly.  “That was on the other side of the world and had to be almost nine hundred years ago.”

            “My mother lived to be over nine hundred.  I was born five hundred years ago two years ago.”

            “That makes you five hundred and two,” Lockhart suggested.

            “It does?  Well, that is a good thing, isn’t it?”

            “A good thing,” Lockhart agreed.

            “And we just arrived from the other side of the world,” the male added.

            “But I don’t know.  Mother avoided humans.  You see, she met some once shortly before she lost her Lord.  After that, she stayed away from the human world.”

            “But she met some?”

            “Yes.  One with hair like fire who was called Mary Riley, but her real name was Boston and one with hair of gold called Lieutenant Harper, but her real name was Katie.”

            “That’s my Bluebell!”  Boston shouted.  “I’m Boston.”

            “And Honeysuckle?” Katie thought of her special friend.

            “She was my mother,” the young male said.  He did something then that caused Katie to audibly gasp.  He got big, which is to say human sized.  His wings vanished and his fairy weave clothes grew with him to fit his new size.  Katie had forgotten fairies could do that.  “My name is Ivy, and my wife is Holly,” he said.  Holly got big, and she was as beautiful as everyone expected a fairy to be.

            Katie stood.  “I am Katie,” and she did what she did when she said good-bye to Bluebell and Honeysuckle.  She hugged each of the fairies in turn, this time to say hello.

            Captain Arturo rubbed his hands together.  “Good thing you are here.  We can use your help.”

            When the travelers set out in the morning, they had a hundred fairies with them to watch their rear, move way out on their flanks, scout ahead and spy from far overhead.  Elder Stow said he was honestly not sure of the range of the Gott-Druk scanners in the atmosphere, but he thought they might send a ship if they saw him traveling with humans, and especially if they picked up sign of the spirits with them.

            “Then again, in this mixed-up war, they might find that normal and ignore it,” he concluded.

            “Some little or lesser spirits might notice,” Captain Arturo admitted.  He was jogging beside Lockhart and was speaking with him, Katie and Ivy in his small form who sat on the neck of Lockhart’s horse and held on to the horse’s mane.  “Lesser spirits might have been a real problem with just my troop, but I have confidence now that we have the force to meet any such threat.”

            “Let us hope the force won’t be needed,” Lockhart responded.

            “I asked for this assignment,” Arturo admitted.  “But my Lord could only send me and my troop.  There were no others that could be spared.  I believe the retreating has ended now and the real fighting will begin.”

            “What?”  Lincoln looked back as if looking all the way to the burning woods.  “You mean there hasn’t been any real fighting yet?”

            “To be sure there has,” Arturo said.  “But most of our effort until now has been in an orderly retreat.  They landed at the place my Lord calls Normandy.  He brought the humans and us from that place step by step.  We carried what food we could and destroyed the rest.  We harried the enemy, but did not pitch battle.  Now the enemy men are starving and the rebellion of the spirits is wavering.  One good blow now and the enemy may fall apart.  If the elder race can be turned, all the better.”

            “Elder race?”  Katie had to be sure she understood.

            “The Gott-Druk,” Lockhart confirmed.

            Up front, Boston talked nonstop with Missus Holly who was small and rode in her horse’s mane and Linnia who jogged beside them.  Roland did his very best to ignore them.  They were all three talking when a troop of six fairies rushed back from the front.  They paused only long enough for a sentence before they rushed back to report to Lord Ivy.

            “The enemy is up ahead just standing there, doing nothing.”

            Boston got out her amulet and took a reading.  The time gate was less than a mile away and she turned and shouted back to the others.  “I bet they are guarding the time gate.”

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Avalon 2.6:  The Battle for Freedom … Next Time

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