What have the Jaccar got against red hair? Boston took an arrow in the middle and is laid out on a stretcher. Decker has identified the young people on the riverbank as well as the Jaccar warriors surrounding them. The travelers all feel the need to get to those young people and help, but it may not be so easy breaking through the enemy lines.
Thrud was cooking again, though it was hard to do it well and stay behind the trees. Her husband Kiren kept an eye out in case there was more moving grass. Goldenwing, in his normal, small fairy size, stayed up a treetop. He wanted to watch the field, but also the distant rise where the hundred Jaccar warriors remained hidden and were no doubt planning their next move.
Riah the elf stayed with Flern, her mistress, and together they hovered over Kined,.Flern had immediately gone away from that place so Doctor Mishka could come and tend Kined’s wound properly. She got the arrow out easily enough, but the hole in Kined’s thigh bled a lot, even through the doctor’s stitches. Now Kined was sleeping because of the potion the Doctor cooked up and all Flern could do was sit and hold his hand and fret.
“What are we going to do?” Vinnu looked up at Gunder’s face. He looked at Vilder and Pinn, the leaders of the expedition, not counting Flern, of course.
“I still say we should have made barges to carry the wagons as far as we could downriver before we needed to turn inland,” Gunder said.
“Too late for that now,” Pinn replied.
“Besides,” Vilder spoke up he tossed a pebble out into the river. “Flern was right about that. All that bronze would have been too heavy for any barges we could build..”
“But what if the Jaccar get the bronze? How will we ever set our village free?” Vinnu was thinking which was not necessarily a good sign. “The wagons are just sitting out in the grass begging to be stolen.”
“Not to mention all of our horses grazing, just out of reach,” Pinn added.
“They probably will get the bronze,” Gunder rubbed Vinnu’s back gently. “But only after they kill Flern and the rest of us.”
Vilder gave Gunder a look to suggest he was not helping. “The object is to figure out some way to prevent that from happening. We can sneak out after dark and arm ourselves from the wagons so maybe we can defend ourselves, but it is still ten to one against us and the Jaccar have us trapped here against the river.”
“Hush,” Pinn said. “Think.” And then Thrud spoke up.
Roland tied Boston and her floating stretcher to the back of his horse like he would a travois. Elder Stow rode to one side of Boston and Lincoln rode to the other side to be sure Boston did not fall off in transit. Roland did not want to move her at all, at first. The wound in her gut was severe, but Boston insisted they help Flern, and at present she was sleeping, and with the Gott-Druk’s anti-gravity disc holding her up so she did not bump and drag across the ground he decided she might not even know she was moving.
Captain Decker took the lead, though he confessed seeing things from the air was different from seeing things on the ground. They understood, but started right out in a straight line for the river. He said it was not far and they ought to reach the young people by nightfall, but he could not guarantee that because it might be slow going. There would be streams and small rivers to cross where all of the water from the Carpathian mountains drained down into the Danube. Still, he reasoned the riverside was the only way to approach Flern and her people and avoid the hundred or so warriors he saw camped out on the grasslands.
“It would not have done any good,” Lockhart spoke softly to Katie who rode beside him. “This is the way we would have had to go anyway, more or less.”
“But what do we do when we get there?” Katie asked. “What is to prevent us from becoming trapped against the river with Flern?”
Lockhart shook his head. “I don’t know, but Decker, mister move on as soon as possible picked this route. I have to assume he has some plan in mind.”
“I don’t know. He has changed since the eagle became his totem and he spent several centuries in that Agdaline sleeper.”
“Changed,” Lockhart nodded. “But still a former Navy Seal now assigned to the Marines, like special assignment. He thinks military and I don’t suppose that has changed.” After a moment he had a question. “So how is it a Seal gets reassigned to the regular Marines?”
“State Department,” Katie responded quietly. “Embassy service available for other special assignments.”
“Like this one, working for Colonel Weber and the area 51 crowd?”
Katie nodded. “The Marine uniform is something like a disguise.”
“And you, Lieutenant?”
Katie frowned before she grinned, and she only grinned because she saw Robert was smiling at her. “Pentagon, straight out of graduate school, and overdue for a promotion. But I guess the Pentagon does not have much call for a specialist in ancient cultures and technologies. Neither did area 51, until now.”
“Well I am glad you are here.”
“Me too. I mean I am glad to be here, too.”
They were smiling at each other when Decker rode by. “We are supposed to be keeping our eyes open for the enemy,” he said, and rode up to Roland. Katie and Lockhart both turned their heads to watch. Decker pointed to the woods by the Danube. They had come up on a small tributary. Roland nodded and turned to the Gott-Druk. Elder Stow got out some piece of equipment and after a quick look he also nodded. Decker waved to them all and started up the small river away from the Danube, riding at a good pace. They followed.
It was a short distance before Decker turned the troop to cross the tributary. The water in that place was slow and meandering, and not too deep. The horses swam it easily enough and Boston stayed above it the whole time. She had a bit of a fever by then and getting soaked would not have helped.
Once on the other side, Decker picked up the pace and rode them angling back toward the Danube. When he saw a place where the trees stretched out to cover some of the plains, he turned them in. Roland rode through that small bit of woods to the other side and took Boston with him. He pulled his bow and unsnapped his sword and knife, just in case.
“What is going on?” Boston asked without opening her eyes.
“Hush,” Roland said. “Some more of those men. They probably had the same idea we had, to sneak up on the Kairos from the flank, er, side.”
“I know what a fllank is,” Boston said and rolled to her side before she immediately returned to lie on her back with an expression of pain on her face. Roland just stared at her. The concern showed on his face.
Lockhart and the others had tied off their horses and had their weapons ready. Elder Stow still had that sonic device. He had yet to show a real weapon of any consequence, though no one doubted he had one. But Lockhart imagined the sonic device would work well on the horses, so he did not say anything. Besides, they could hear the horses moving slowly through the bushes by the river.
A rock outcropping caused the horsemen to vacate their cover and move to the grasses. There they became open season. When they were close, Captain Decker said nothing, he just opened fire. Lockhart and Katie might have wanted to talk first, but they had no choice but to join Decker in the slaughter. It did not take long to down eight men, and three of the horses were down as well.
“Jaccar,” Lincoln named the men when the firing stopped. “According to the database they were probably under the spell of the Wicca and unable to do anything but follow orders.”
“You mean enchanted?” Katie used the word.
Lincoln nodded as Decker spoke. “So it was kill or be killed.”
“Fair enough,” Lockhart said with a glance in Katie’s direction. Then he exploded. “But next time you ask me and share your information. This is my decision. And we don’t kill if there is any possible way to avoid it, is that clear?”
Decker straightened up. “Yes, sir.” He added the sir softly, but he understood.
Avalon 2.9 Healings … Next Time