Avalon 2.8: The Journey

            Serious war, maybe nuclear looks to be on the horizon, hovering disaster over the poor human race, still living with sticks and stones.  The Kairos has to do something, and meanwhile he has to depend on the travelers to get his people to safety, if any place is really safe.  For the travelers, though, their main job is to get safely back to the twenty-first century, and they understand that sometimes it means they have to move on to the next time gate as quickly as possible.  Sometimes sticking around won’t help, it will just get them all killed.

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            There were ninety three people on the journey that originally started somewhere along the coast of Colombia, South America.  Several died along the way, but there were still a number of older people who were not in the best of shape to be making such a journey.  There was not much the travelers could do when the jungle was thick and passage became a matter of cutting a way through, but when they crossed the meadows and open spaces, which was about half of the first day, they let the older ones ride, and then of course all of the children wanted a ride.  Boston and Lincoln did not mind leading the horses so Lockhart and Katie, Roland and Decker could keep their weapons ready.

            They camped that night at the edge of the trees and in the morning they awoke to a thick mist and a slight rain.  It rained on and off the second day and that made everyone cranky and short tempered.  They stopped early and with the help of Roland and Boston, and Maya of course, they got some good fires burning.  But no one really dried off much and that night they all went to bed early and miserable.

            The sun came out on the third morning and Maya said they were getting close to their destination.  She suggested they might arrive by evening if all went well.  Naturally, within an hour they found their way blocked by some thirty men carrying spears and sporting sharp stone knives.

              The men in the traveling group, which numbered about the same as the opposition, grabbed whatever weapons they had and presented a wall against the locals.  It was obvious Otapec’s people had faced this sort of confrontation before in their long journey.  Thus the two groups of warriors stared at each other, spear to spear and eye to eye.  The people were like statues trying to stare each other down when Decker, Lockhart, Katie and Roland stepped between them.  Lincoln and Boston were a bit delayed because of the horses, but Maya was not slow to arrive.

            “No!”  She shouted at everyone, and the men who blocked the path took a few steps back as she revealed a smidgen of her divinity, before one stepped forward and pleaded.

            “But this is our land.”  The man whined. 

            “Enough people have died,” Maya said softly.

            One idiot who might have been inspired by fear, threw a spear at the travelers.  Maya had her screen up so the spear bounced off that invisible wall and fell harmlessly to the ground.  It did not matter.  No one else was watching.  Instead, they had their eyes on Maya and the man who appeared out of nowhere beside her.  Then the man changed into another man and gave the goddess a kiss.

            “Opi,” Maya smiled.

            “Lockhart, you have a visitor.” Otapec said with a sly look over his shoulder.  It was only a moment before a great snout stuck out from the trees.  The dragon spoke, in the Agdaline tongue of course so no one but Otapec, Maya and the travelers understood what the creature said.

            “Mama.  Hurting.”  The other people all took a big step back because it sounded something like a roar to them.

            “Puff,” Katie said.

            “No fire.  No harm.”  Lockhart spoke quickly as Puff crawled up slowly.  The whole lower half of the worm had first and second degree burns, an oddity on a dragon.

            “What is that smell?”  Boston asked.

            “Leakage,” Otapec said as he left that place and Kartesh once again stepped into his world.   “I’m no healer.  Maya.”  Kartesh stepped to the invisible wall and spoke in Agdaline.  “Friend.  Friend.”

            Puff glanced at her through the tear in its eye.  Lockhart reached out to touch Puff’s nose.            “But I have to keep an eye on these hunters,” Maya said.

            “What hunters?”  Decker asked.  The men that had confronted them were presently running all out across the meadow and away from the travelers and their pet dragon.

            Maya caught up in a second and with Kartesh they healed the wound in the dragon’s side while Kartesh explained something about dragon anatomy.  “Their peculiar digestive system produces a mix of gases, mostly hydrogen, that collects in a bladder that runs the whole length of the worm body.  The hydrogen helps them go aloft, like a balloon, but like the old Zeppelins Doctor Mishka is so familiar with, the gas is highly flammable.  They have to expel some now and then to keep from getting bloated.  They have two things, like bones in the throat, that ignites the gas like a cigarette lighter when expelled.”

            “Why don’t they blow up?”  Lincoln asked.

            “A simple flap,” Kartesh answered.  “Not unlike the one you have that lets you breathe into your lungs but swallow into your stomach.  It prevents the flame from riding back into the bladder.”

            “So if they breathe too much fire they might have a hard time getting off the ground.  Boston was thinking.

            “Yes, but for most the sensation of being bloated is worse.  They hibernate when well fed, sometimes for years.  You can imagine how bloated they get and how much they need to expel when they first awake.  That is why it is not wise to wake a sleeping dragon.”

            “There,” Maya said, smiled and stepped back to examine her handiwork.

            “She will still need healing time.  Some of the burns were very severe, but it won’t be so painful.”

            Puff suddenly opened his mouth with all those teeth.  Lockhart snatched his hand back and wondered what on earth he was thinking to get as close as he was, but only a tongue came out and gave Lockhart a warm and wet lick.  Luckily, the kiss was smeared on Maya’s invisible wall which was still up.

            Opi came back and gave Maya a big kiss before he kissed his children and spoke to the travelers.  “Lockhart, I’m sorry.  I imprinted Maya on the dragon’s mind so she will be her Mama now, and my children will be like dragon babies to Puff.  Dragons naturally avoid flaming each other.  Meanwhile, things are just too complicated now.  Maya will bring the people the rest of the way, and by nightfall.  Your way is North, the way those tribesmen went, so keep your eyes open.”

            “Can’t we help?”  Katie asked.  Otapec shook his head.

            “I will be moving instantly south to try and keep the Sevarese and Pendratti from destroying each other in some cataclysmic way.”

            “My people?”  Elder Stow asked as he lifted from the ground to hover in flying position, ready to go. 

            Otapec asked a question in return.  “Are you learning anything?”

            Elder Stow paused to think.  “That human life on this earth is as you say, complicated, and not so easy.  And maybe some respect for my family group, but I would hesitate to say that.”

            Otapec nodded.  “Your people are best kept out of it for as long as possible.  When war erupts and the Pendratti face the Sevarese and Blueblood alliance it gets bad out there for a long time.”

            “But my people recover.”  Elder Stow made a statement, but it sounded like a question.

            Otapec nodded again.  “As do the Elenar and many of the other, lesser people that get involved, but there is silence in space for hundreds of years except for the homeless Agdaline ships moving slower than light with their dragon guardians.”  Otapec drew in his breath slowly like one who hated killing, death and destruction 

            “Mount up,” Lockhart commanded, and everyone complied. 

            “I will be transporting about twenty miles south so you will find the gate much nearer than you might think.  Blessings,” he said as he became someone else and vanished from that place.

            Boston pulled out the amulet and checked.  They would also be at their destination by dark.

            “Good-bye.”  Kuican shouted from his mother’s arms, and everyone said the same and waved.

            “Chac.  Take care of your sister, Ixchel.”  Katie shouted back.

            “I have two sisters now,” Chac shouted, and they understood that Puff would slither along beside them

            “Good-bye Puff,” Lockhart yelled before they moved out of earshot.

            Puff made an unintelligible sound and let out a bit of fire which barely warmed the grass.  It was a pitiful thing, but the dragon would heal.

###     

            Bronze was the first true wonder material of the ancient world.  Unfortunately for Flern, she had to travel a long way to get some weapons and now needs to travel a long way home.  This gives the Jaccar warriors who have her village enslaved time to find her and stop her.  The travelers just escaped out of one potential conflict only to get embroiled in another.  It is has Lincoln has said.  The Kairos tends to live in the midst of the hurricane. 

Avalon 2.9:  Army of Invention … Monday …  

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