Obstacles and enemies overcome, and it looks like the travelers may have an open route to the young couples trapped on the riverbank. Getting them out of there safely is a whole other proposition, especially when there are wounded who do not look at all well.
Everyone looked up when they heard the loud cracks in the distance. “What is that?” Vinnu asked. She was easily spooked and said she felt claustrophobic being trapped between the Jaccar warriors and the Danube.
Flern stood slowly and walked toward the sounds. “The cavalry,” she said, and then thought to offer a better explanation. “Friends of mine, and maybe help to get out of this mess.” Vilder and Pinn stepped up to flank Flern and they waited, but not for long.
“Flern?” The call came from a man on horseback. Flern waved as the man stopped and dismounted.
“Lockhart. Good to see you. You don’t want to be here.”
“Lady!” Roland interrupted and came up quickly. He dismounted before his horse completely stopped and untied Boston’s stretcher from the back. He floated it gently towards the waiting trio. “Lady. It’s Boston. She’s been shot.” Boston was presently delirious with fever.
“Let me see.” Flern stepped up as Roland butted in front of Lockhart and stepped down on the small beach.
“Elder Stow got the arrow out of her middle, but she appears to be getting worse, not better. Is it an infection? Is Alexis near?”
“Bring her,” Flern said, but as she turned, Kined spoke up.
“Flern!” He called to her and lifted a hand to reach for her.
“He has a bad fever,” Riah reported.
“Make a place,” Flern said, and Vilder and Pinn helped so Flern could set Boston beside Kined. “My husband took an arrow in the leg. Doctor Mishka treated the wound so it can’t be an infection. I don’t know what to do.” Flern looked up at Thrud and Kiren, Gunder and Vinnu, but they were keeping back, wary of these strangers.
“Slow poison?” Pinn suggested. “That is all we could think of.” She looked up at Vilder who nodded.
“What is the situation?” Katie asked as she, Lincoln and Lockhart came up. Captain Decker was already in among the trees that grew along the riverbank, trying to see some evidence of the enemy. There were campfires, but well behind a rise in the grasslands.
While Roland and Riah passed some unspoken elfish words, eye to eye, Flern squeezed Kined’s hand and stood. “Katie. We got bronze.” She pointed to the idle wagons out in the field.
“What? No.” Katie, the group expert in ancient cultures and technologies was impressed. This was a big step in the development of civilization.
Flern just nodded and fought the tears in her eyes. “We got it to arm our people against the Jaccar. Our village is captive to the Wicca.” She broke down and fell on Kined. “We have only been married a month. I don’t want to lose him.”
Lockhart looked at Elder Stow who was the last to vacate the edge of the grasses for the beach. He just shook his head, sadly, to say there was nothing he could do against slow poison.
“Alexis could pull it out the way she and Anenki’s daughter did back in that time zone,” Lincoln said. “Maybe one of the gods?” He looked at Flern but she sadly shook her head.
“The gods are not permitted to interfere or Mother Vrya or Artemis would have done so. And as for me, this is not exactly time threatening. These are human problems and must be solved in a human way.” Flern sniffed. “Or not.”
Goldenwing chose that moment to rush up. He fluttered briefly out over the river and returned “My lady,” he said. “Beware.” The water began to roll, and close to shore. “Black sea snake.” And the snake rose out of the water some fifteen feet in the air to hover over those on the riverbank. It began to weave and spread its cobra-like head in preparation for feeding. The mouth was easily big enough to swallow a person whole.
Thrud, Vinnu and Lincoln all screamed, and Lincoln added, “I hate snakes.” But then the snake struck. It dropped straight toward Vinnu and big Gunder was barely able to pull her out of the way in time for the snake to eat dirt. The snake tried to move laterally with the young woman, but there were several, sudden loud cracks, and the snakes eye poured out blood. It squirmed more rapidly than its strike, and even as Lockhart unloaded his shotgun which turned the snake’s neck to mush, the head caught him in the shoulder, bowled him over and scratched his forearm.
As the snake sank back into the water to die, Katie knelt down. “Robert. Are you all right?”
“Just a scratch.” He tried to shrug it off.
“Oh,” Riah spoke up before Roland could. “But they are deadly poisonous.”
Elder Stow shook his head. “You would think being so big and all they would not need poison.”
“Wait,” Lincoln and Pinn both spoke at the same time and pointed. Something green and pussy formed in the cut on Lockhart’s arm. It dripped to the ground, and then the cut began to close.
“How is that possible?” Vilder asked and looked at Pinn.
“Yes!” Flern saw and jumped up even as Lockhart explained.
“I must still have plenty of functioning Gaian healing chits.”
“And what are Gaian healing chits?”
Flern took over the explanation as she examined Lockhart’s vanishing wound and his hands. “The Gaian are humans from a parallel universe and more advanced technologically than you, Elder. Far more advanced. The chits are organic and microscopic and were given to Lockhart to heal his crippled back and legs.”
“They liberated me from my wheelchair,” Lockhart confessed.
“Lockhart.” Flern got his attention as she made him get up and follow her to Boston. Roland looked up at them with tears in the corners of his eyes.
“She is passing into a coma,” he said.
“Do you love Boston?” Flern asked.
“Yes,” Roland said, but Flern was talking to Lockhart.
“You know I do.”
“I don’t know if yours can be reprogrammed. You don’t really have the seeds to grow more when yours are gone, but here is what you must do. Think about how much you care about Boston and want to see her well. You want the poison and infection out of her and her wound healed. You must think that very hard and think that some of your chits go to your pinky finger. I am going to try a transfer.”
“Will that work?” Lincoln was the one who asked what everyone wondered.
Flern became flustered. “I don’t know. I just don’t know what else to do.”
“I’m thinking,” Lockhart said and held out his hand.
“Unwrap her,” Flern told Roland and she pulled out her long knife. Boston’s wound had festered under the bandage. It was yellowed and wrinkled like it was too long in the tub. Flern cut it and set it to bleeding again. Most chose not to watch. Then she brought Lockhart’s hand close and told him to keep thinking about healing Boston. She gave his pinky finger a poke and a few drops of blood dripped into Boston’s wound.
“Clean bandage. Cover her back up,” Flern said, before she turned back to Kined and began to cry. He was delirious, not yet at the coma stage. She imagined it took longer for the poison to travel up from his leg.
Lockhart leaned over to comfort her. “I have another pinky, you know.”
Avalon 2.9 In the Night, Dark and Light … Next Time