Since leaving the deepest past, the travelers have picked up any number of creatures – creatures that are hunting them, following them through the time gates from time zone to time zone. The power of the Djin has attracted them and the travelers have to fight for their lives. They no sooner drive one off and another comes.
“Boston?” Alexis called up to her. She was concerned. She knew like no other what magic could take out of a person.
But Boston stood again and climbed slowly back on to her chair. “Just like an all-nighter at school,” she shouted. “I could use an energy drink.” She raise her arms and began to glow once again, just like she did before she sent the great wind. Then she shouted, “Ameratsu, give me your light and strength.” Down below, Katie tried to be more practical about it all. She prayed for Zoe to send help. Two hundred men presently faced Lockhart’s one hundred, and a hundred and fifty skirted Lockhart’s position and were presently headed for Katie and her warrior women.
Oktapi and a dozen gnomes came in from the west, driving a small herd as agreed. The animals were mostly lame, halt and broken in some way, but that would hardly matter when the creatures of mud and blood cut them up for food.
Beltain waited patiently. She folded and unfolded her hands in front of her belly and tapped her foot, but that was about as patiently as she could wait.
“Lady.” Oktapi stepped forward and bowed as soon as he arrived. “The animals agreed.”
“I thank you, Oktapi, on behalf of all your people. You have been a great help to us all as we cross this land and do not settle here. I know it is your wish that we be gone from your territory, and that is our wish as well. But tonight I have a special request.” Oktapi looked at Beltain with a twisted eye. This was not the goddess he knew and loved. Okay, he admitted it to himself.
“You may certainly ask,” he said.
“I know I can only ask, and here it is. Some geis has fallen on the other camps to make them believe we have not shared fairly from the herd. Even now they are attacking us. I have every hope that come daylight, we may be able to work out our differences, but for now we are in grave danger. My request is to ask if you and your people may help us defend ourselves on this one night. I would be very grateful.” Beltain quieted for an answer, and that was when the Djin descended on them.
The Genii had seen this troop of gnomes travel through the boundary set up by the old one. He watched the elder elf, aided by his son and that other gnome, lay hands on each of these little spirits in turn. He expected to find a resistance to his power, but imagined he was too clever for them. He found the spell of resistance and easily vanquished it. Then he swallowed the will power of the little gnomes almost as easily and he swallowed the human will power. The gnomes were completely his, but then he was distracted by a great light in the battle and just had to see what these clever people from the future were up to.
Oktapi finally answered Beltain’s question. “Not a chance. We would like nothing more than to see you destroy yourselves in blood and go back to the mud from whence you came.” He laughed, and several of the other gnomes laughed with him. All the same, the gnomes spread out to circle around Beltain. They began to dance around her and quietly chant. There was a compulsion laid inside of them all, much deeper than the surface resistance found by the Djin. They belonged completely to the Djin and would do whatever his will required, after they finished doing what they were compelled to do.
Beltain watched them dance and chant. They had her surrounded. She fell to her knees in their midst and became afraid.
When Boston was fully cooked, she leaned forward, suddenly, which almost made her lose her balance. She was indeed glowing like the sun at that point. People could not look at her directly. And all that energy projected from her in a single beam of sunlight.
Lincoln was backing up from the snarling wolf and telling others to stay behind him. He had a copper sword in his hand, not that it would have much effect on the drooling beast. The wolf looked hungry when the light fell on it. The wolf howled. It was trapped in the light. And Lincoln watched as the snout became a human mouth and the claws became hands, and very quickly a filthy, naked man collapsed to the ground.
“Rope, quick!” He rushed forward into the light and pinned the man to the ground while others came up with rope. They tied up the man, hands behind, legs together, and Lincoln determined he wanted a rope mummy. The light went out all at once, but Lincoln knew they had to have the man completely incapacitated before it turned back into the wolf.
Boston fell. The chair slipped off the table which was on top of the upside-down wagon. She fell, and would have landed hard on the ground, but Katie was right there to catch her as easily as a mother might catch a small child. Katie could not stay, however, because the attackers were getting close. She put an unconscious Boston in Alexis’ arms to work whatever healing magic Alexis could work, picked up her spear and rejoined her Amazons.
“Archers ready!” She shouted even as Lockhart was shouting the same thing out on the perimeter of the camp. “Aim.” She yelled and raised her hand with the spear grasped tightly even as a lightning bolt struck the earth between the two opposing groups.
A figure appeared between the combatants, some of whom were looking up because the sky became suddenly cloudless and the full moon made everything visible. The figure was a woman. Katie recognized her at once. It was Zoe, but the goddess, not just Zoe the human Queen she knew. This was Zoe transformed, the Queen of the Amazon Pantheon of goddesses, and she looked pissed.
Avalon 2.7: Death and Life … Next Time