Avalon 2.9: Dead and Wounded

            Bronze.  Four young couples are desperately trying to get the newly discovered bonze weapons home to help liberate their village from the conquering Jaccar, only now they are trapped on a riverbank of the Danube by a hundred Jaccar warriors who want no less that to kill them all.  Little do the Jaccar know, the wagons now sitting idly beyond the reach of the couples are filled with weapons presently more precious than gold … and the travelers are riding right into the middle of it all.

###

            Boston was examining the amulet to check their direction when Roland shouted.  She was slow to react and the result was an arrow in her  gut.  She screamed her surprise before she moaned and doubled over in her saddle.  Roland quickly pulled her to the side and out of sight from the incoming arrows.

            The others dismounted rapidly and stared hard off into the forest, except Elder Stow who floated over to where Roland was gingerly helping Boston to the ground.  Captain Decker and Katie fired their rifles at the same time, before Lockhart could pull his revolver and wave them toward the trees.

            “Go,” he said.  “Lincoln, help me get the horses.”  He preferred not to watch Katie head into danger.

            “Hey Lockhart,” Boston called softly.  Her lips hardly moved and her eyes were half shut against the pain.  “Why am I always the lucky one?”  She tried to laugh, but that just made her grit her teeth and squeeze her eyes shut.

            Elder Stow leaned over her with that miraculous piece of equipment he once used on Katie and Lockhart.  As the equipment softly hummed, the arrow pulled itself out from the wound.  Then the wound slowly closed, or most of it anyway. 

            “I am sorry, my Father.  I have nothing that will really heal her.  I am no physician.  I can only hope she will recover and heal the old fashioned way, and she should, barring infection.”

            Roland cradled Boston’s head as he looked first at the Gott-Druk and then at Lockhart while tears came up into his eyes.  At last he lifted his head and howled a word into the air.  “Alexis.”  He called for his sister whose magic was especially healing magic.

            “Alexis.”  Lincoln could not help but add his voice in a call for his wife.  The difference was Lincoln’s voice was a mere human shout of frustration while the elf’s voice carried, who knew how far.

###

            Katie put her back to a tree and looked over at Decker who knelt by another tree.  Katie signaled with her hand that there were two just out from Decker’s position.  Decker signaled back that she was facing a third.  The men were bobbing up and down and craning their necks this way and that to see the trail the group had been following through the forest.  They were looking for movement and listening for the sound of horses attempting a quick getaway.  One man even had an arrow ready on his string.  Decker pointed.  Katie called out.  

              “We have no quarrel with you.  Can we talk?”  She did not get to finish her thought as the nearness of their voices caused the three men to abandon their bows, lift their spears, draw their knives and charge, screaming.

            Captain Decker pumped his fist.  Katie and Decker burst out from their hiding places.  A few quick shots and all three men lay dead a few feet away.  It all happened so suddenly, there was no time to think about it.

            “They were determined to try and kill us,” Decker said as he checked the bodies.  “I have no idea why.”

              Katie said nothing.  Elect, Marine lieutenant, impossible situation thousands of years from home all meant nothing.  She did not like the killing.

            Beyond that point, the forest petered out and it was all grasslands to the horizon.  Decker stepped out on to the grass.  Katie followed warily.  There were horses near and Katie thought about what Decker said.  She decided she wanted some clue as to why the men attacked.

            “I wonder if there are others.” Katie asked out loud.  “It may be tribal dress, but those three are dressed the same, almost like a uniform.”

            Decker nodded.  “I’ll have a look see,” he said and sat cross-legged on the grass outside the shadow of the trees.  He put his rifle in his lap, placed his hands on his knees and closed his eyes.

            Katie thought to call the others while she waited with one eye on the surrounding area, just in case.  She looked at her wristwatch and took a moment to remember how it worked.  “Robert?”  She had to wait a minute for a response.

            “Katie?  I forgot we had these wrist communicators.”

            “How is Boston?”

            “Elder Stow got the arrow out and the wound is mostly sealed, but he fears infection from the filthy arrowhead.  He has pretty much ruled out poison, which is a good thing.  Roland is with her.  Lincoln has the horses.”

            “Three here, all dead,” Katie glanced around and something in the back of her mind said there was something about the horses.  “They were all dressed the same, like uniforms even though I know we are way too early in history for such a thing.  Decker is meditating to see if his eagle eye can find more of them.”  Katie heard a sound and caught some movement from the corner of her eye.  “Out here there are grasslands for as far as I can see.  I recommend we move out on to the grasses and away from the forest where we can hardly see around the next tree.”  Her mouth paused as her mind screamed.  There were four horses.  She spun and grabbed the man’s knife hand before he could stab her in the back.  They tussled for a second which startled the horses and sent them scurrying out on to the grass.   The man tried to force the knife, but Katie was stronger.  He tried to punch her, but her foot caught the man first in the belly and sent him staggering back.

            Katie pulled her own knife rather than her gun.  She thought a prisoner might be more useful than another dead man.  He came at her again, and she blocked his copper knife with her American steel.  A few more stabs like that and the copper would snap.  Katie looked into the man’s eyes and wondered what was driving him.  What she saw was wild, bloodshot eyes that did not look entirely in focus.  He caught her look and spoke.

            “Give me the girl with the red hair.  She must die.”

            “What?”  Katie easily countered the man’s next move, and noticed his reactions were not the swiftest.

            “The red hair girl must die.  The Wicca has commanded.”

            Katie stepped up and cut the man’s forearm so he dropped his knife, but he managed to shove her back and retrieved his knife from the ground with his other hand.

            “Who is the Wicca?”

            “She is the great and mighty Wicca.  It is her great desire that the one with the red hair die.”  He charged again, and again Katie easily countered, and got her fist into the man’s face.  He staggered, but he would not fall.  He was sweating like a man with a fever.  He screamed, abandon all sense and ran toward her to tackle her, but there was a gunshot.  He spun once and plummeted to the ground.

            Katie glanced at Decker thinking it was him before Lockhart stepped from the woods.  Lincoln and the horses followed.  Elder Stow and Roland came last with Boston on a stretcher that Roland had hastily constructed.  They did not have to carry the stretcher, however, because Elder Stow rigged up his anti-gravity device to carry it on an even keel over the rough ground.

            “Perhaps if she does not jiggle around so much she may heal faster,” Elder Stow suggested. 

            “Alexis,” Roland was still calling and looking off to the horizon, but now the call was a mere whisper of desperation.

            “Robert, I was trying to take him alive,” Katie complained.

            “Sorry,” Lockhart said.  “But the Kairos, my boss said do not hesitate with anyone who is trying to kill you, and I agree.”

            Katie looked down.  “I suppose I might have had to kill him myself.  I don’t think he would have stopped until he was dead or unconscious, and I imagine it is not as easy to knock someone out as it appears in the movies.”

            “You are right about that,” Lincoln said.

            “A berserker?”  Lockhart saw the look in the man’s face and eyes and wondered

            Katie shook her head.  “Slow to react.  More like he was on drugs and maybe could not help himself.”

            “Enchanted?”  Boston suggested, though her voice sounded weak and far away.

            Katie nodded that time.  “Maybe enchanted.  Maybe enchanted by that Wicca person.”

            The others said nothing for a time.  What could they say?  It was not every day total strangers tried to kill them without any provocation and for no known reason.

            Captain Decker took that moment to stir and everyone came close to hear about what he saw, if anything.

            “Eight young people are trapped against the bank of a big river.  I assume the Kairos is one of them since they have a couple of elves with them.  Three wagons, horses hobbled, but they are surrounded by about a hundred men dressed like these.”

            “Flern.”  Lincoln pulled out the database.  “The Kairos is a she,” he clarified.  “If it is a really big river, it is probably the Danube.”

            Captain Decker nodded and got up on his horse.  The others followed and even Elder Stow got up on Boston’s horse, Honey, and with only a small moan of protest.

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Avalon 2.9  Overstepping Boundaries … Next Time

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