Avalon 2.7: Death and Life

            The travelers did their best to lead the defense of the camp, but unless they got help, divine help, it will be a short lived defense.  Fortunately, the compulsion laid on the gnomes allowed them to set Beltain’s mind free of the control of the Djin, even if only for a moment.  It is enough for the Kairos to reach back I time and bring the goddess into the present.  Divine help arrived.

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            Up on the hill, Roland and Gnumma were completely taken in by the events transpiring in the camps.  Roland did not see his father sneak away.  Once it appeared that his ruse would work, Mingus quietly shuffled off.  Elder Stow saw, but said nothing.

            “Look at Boston,” Roland said with some pride in his voice.  “That is really some powerful magic.”

            “Not bad for one made of mud and blood,” Gnumma agreed.

            The light went out and Roland drew in his breath, sharply.  “Father?”  He was afraid Boston might have been seriously hurt.

            “Gone,” Elder Stow spoke at last.  “I was surprised you did not go with him.”

            “What?”

            “I figured as exhausted as he was, he went to see if he could help.”

            “Father!”  Roland turned and shouted, but there was no answer.  Before he could follow up, a stroke of lightning hit the center of the Aramean camp.  “The Djin!”  Roland shouted and again drew his breath in, sharply.

            “No, boy,” Gnumma explained.  “That bolt went from the ground into the sky.  I would guess our ruse worked and the Kairos is restored.  No telling which life she borrowed.  One of the gods, I suppose.  But I would say she burned the bottom of that Djin and now I think the Djin is running for his life.”  He pointed and the cloud over the camp rapidly cleared.

###

            Down in the camp, the combatants paused at the lightning.  They trembled when they got a look at Zoe, and a few fainted.  The glow around her was very different, and in a way much stronger than the bit of sunlight Boston had produced.  This glow said holy, awesome power of the sort that men and women might be inclined to worship.  It also said you have really made me mad, and the men trembled, not for their lives, but for fear as to which hell she might cast them into; and they did not doubt that she could.

            “Go home!”  Zoe shouted in a voice that demanded a hearing and demanded obedience.  “Go back to the camps you came from.” She waved her hand and the attackers all disappeared at once.  Whether they reappeared in their respective camps or were sent all of the way back to Caana, Syria and Lebanon remained to be seen.

            “Katie!”  Zoe called and Katie ran up.  By her own volition she went to one knee.

            “Queen of Queens,” Katie said.

            Zoe frowned, but only a little.  “Would you get up, you’re embarrassing Beltain.”

            “I know.  I remember myself, but your way is to keep history moving in the right direction.  There are many women here who need to see this.”

            Zoe thought for a second.  “One point for you, but really, you can get up now.”

            Katie did and spoke frankly.  “I am worried about Boston.”

            “Boston is fine,” Zoe said, but before she could add, thanks to Alexis, Lockhart ran up from one direction and Lincoln from the other.  Star and the Sybil also approached, but much more carefully.  The Sybil especially was in tears.

            “Quickly.”  Zoe spoke quietly to the travelers before the others arrived.  “I have taken away the genii’s ability to sap the will.  He will not be able to put you under again, but he lives and I have no doubt he will follow you into the future.  Let us hope he has learned his lesson.”

            “The Djin is from the future?”  Lockhart asked.  Zoe nodded as Lincoln spoke.

            “Odelion.”  They all remembered the encounter with a Djin in Odelion’s day, but they all thought it was local.  They would have thought the same this time if Zoe had not said otherwise.

            “Now, I must go and speak to the leaders in the other camps.  Men have died, and if they try anything so stupid again, more men will die.  They must trust Beltain and be grateful for what she shares.  That is all.”

            Star came up, mouth open but without words.  Zoe acknowledged her.  “Hunter.”  Star fell to both knees and trembled, and more so when Zoe laid her hand gently on the girl’s head.  “My best friend Artemis is not native to this jurisdiction, though I do convince her one day to take part ownership in a temple in Ephesus.  Still, the little sparks of her spirit do tend to get around.”  Zoe spoke tenderly and let out a precious bit of laughter before she took back her hand.

            “Sybil.”  Zoe acknowledged the woman who fell all the way to her face before her goddess, the Queen of all her goddesses.  Zoe’s tone was not quite so tender.  Rather, it was stern but not unkind.  “Always speak the truth or say nothing at all,” she said, before she added, “Later,” and vanished. 

            “Boston?”  Lockhart asked.

            “She is fine.  Alexis is with her,” Katie said and paused for all of a second before she shouted, “Alexis!”  Lincoln’s shout was one second behind, but he ran faster.  Two women were there, helping Boston to sit up.  Boston immediately put her hand to her head like she had a whopper of a headache.  Lincoln noticed, but he could not hold back the shout.

            “Where is Alexis?”

            The women were shocked, but looked up at Katie and one answered.  “A man came for her.  He brought two beasts, and the two of them got up on the backs of the beasts and went off in that direction.”  She pointed.  Lockhart and Katie noticed.  Lincoln just went into a string of invectives which, fortunately for the locals, was mostly in English.

            It was not long after that when the Sybil guided them back to Beltain’s tent.  Star was particularly anxious to see if the priestess was alright.  They found Beltain at the tent door and were a bit surprised by her first words.  “Did you bring Gorman with you?”

            Lockhart shook his head.  “He is still with the men on the perimeter.  But I don’t think he has stopped smiling yet, if that is any consolation.”

            Beltain got a look on her face, but refrained from swearing by simply saying, “What Lincoln said.”  She heard all the swearing.  In fact, Roland later insisted he heard it all the way up on the hill behind Elder Stow’s screens.  “So how many did we lose?”  No one answered her, because the Sybil shrieked and threw her hands over her eyes.  There was a flash of light and a man appeared facing Beltain.

            “I need Doctor Mishka,” the man said.  “It is urgent.”

            “Ask much?”  Beltain responded.

            “The babies are due.  She is in labor, but something is wrong  They are joined together, here.”  Enlil put his hand to the top of his head.

            “Enlil, these are my friends.”  Beltain would have to think for a minute.  This was not good.

            “Hello.”  Enlil barely turned his head before he made his demand.  “The doctor?”

            Beltain looked around.  “Star, tell Gorman to wait for me.  I wasn’t finished.”  Star nodded.  “Anath, be sure these people get whatever food and supplies they require.  I will be back.”  The Sybil nodded as well, though she never uncovered her eyes.  Beltain took Enlil’s hand and said one more thing.  “Doctor when we get there.  Here and now you get me.”

            With that Enlil actually took a moment to look around.  He spoke to Lockhart.  “Not much of a war.”

            “War!”  Beltain tried not to spit.  “I should invent football.  Boys are stupid.”  The word “stupid” floated on the wind as Enlil and Beltain vanished

            Lincoln looked up.  “What did she mean boys are stupid?  We are not stupid, are we?”

            Katie, Boston, Star and the Sybil answered in unison.  “Yes.”

###

            In ancient days there were a few places on the earth where the human race met with … “visitors,” like the place of the Lion where the Shemsu people built those three great pyramids in Egypt.  In the new world, that common ground was the jungle that covered the Yucatan, Guatemala and southern Mexico.  One alien landing can keep the Kairos busy trying to limit alien contact and influence on human development and history.  But when the travelers arrive in the next time zone, they find four species, and they are picking sides and talking war.  For the late Neolithic humans caught in the middle, contact will be explosive; a struggle just to survive.

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Avalon 2.8:  Encounters … Next Time

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