It is a strange and varied group of people preparing to invade the land across the sea. War is in the air, but the various groups appear to be unconcerned with the travelers. This is good, if the people let them journey unmolested. Unfortunately, the people through whose territory they are traveling are not the problem. It is the ones following.
It was not long into the morning before they began to smell the sea. Lincoln decided they were definitely headed out the peninsula of Brittany, but at an angle that would eventually bring them to the shore. Boston looked back several times to see if Grubby and his crew were following, but she never saw anything. Alexis also looked back several times.
“I hope Father has come to his senses and is following.” What she meant was she hoped her father was safe. Lincoln looked.
“I hope the Djin and the ghouls have lost the trail,” he said. That triggered Katie to look.
“I hope Bob is okay.”
“I’m not looking,” Lockhart said. “Whatever is following, I don’t want to know.”
“This be dragon country,” Roland spoke up from the front where he heard everything with his good ears. To Boston’s curious look, Roland pointed at the sky. An Agdaline scout ship passed overhead, and Boston remembered the Agdaline kept dragons as pets when they were young and small and ejected them from their ships when they got big, lost their feathers and would no longer obey simple commands.
“Thanks,” Lincoln looked at the sky without further comment,
By mid-morning they came to a small river that was swift but not too deep. Sometimes, the party had to go miles out of the way to find a safe ford, but in this case if they were careful, Roland imagined they could navigate the crossing well enough.
Roland and Boston dismounted while the others caught up, and Boston paused to spy the woman downstream. She appeared to be washing her clothes on a boulder that split the stream. She used a rock to pound a tunic which had some sort of red stain, but it was some distance so it was hard to tell exactly what she was doing.
“The water here is cold, I bet.” Roland got Boston’s attention.
“Let me see,” Boston said, and put the washer-woman out of her mind. She bent down to touch the water and yelped. Something grabbed her hand and pulled her in.
“Roland!” Boston managed his name before whatever it was pulled her under.
“Boston!” Roland grabbed for her but she was already too deep.
The others came up quickly to the shore and spread out and tried to grab her when she bobbed up and down, gasping for air They were yelling things like “grab her” and “there she is.” She appeared to be swirling around a jetty and luckily not rushing downstream.
“Roland!” Alexis grabbed her brother’s hand and had her wand out. Roland was in a bit of a panic, but her touch steadied him and she drew on her power and his as she caught Boston by the shoulder. Boston lifted and grabbed several breaths of fresh air before they heard the sound, It was a wailing with which they were familiar. It was the bokarus, and it was fighting to drag Boston back under.
Elder Stow tuned a piece of equipment and he managed to stop her spinning. She was ready to throw up. Then the elder caught her in an anti-gravity bubble which would have shot her a hundred feet into the air, but the bokarus was still dragging her down.
Roland suddenly took over the action from his sister as soon as he realized Elder Stow had Boston stabilized. Roland was not feeling kind when he borrowed a play from his father’s playbook. It was a shock of lightning, and while it shocked Boston slightly where she was still hanging with her boots in the water, not able to rise higher but no longer in danger of being dragged under, it fried the bokarus, and fried a few fish as well.
The bokarus let out a monstrous howl and let go. Elder Stow almost lost Boston when she skyrocketed up, but he quickly got her back down into the arms of Katie and Lockhart where she claimed she felt like pulled taffy. The bokarus looked ready to attack, and Roland was ready to go toe to toe with the beast when the bokarus suddenly rushed off. Lincoln noticed.
The washer-woman from downstream had somehow crossed over the river without getting wet. She walked up the riverbank with a shirt that looked full of blood in her hand and she had a cross expression on her face. When she got close, the bokarus fled for his life, and Lincoln asked.
“Can we help you?”
The woman looked steaming mad. “And I had my scary voice on, too,” the woman said. “Guaranteed to scare your spine.”
“But no. That stupid green man had to cut in line. What has he got against you folks anyway?”
“We haven’t been able to figure that out yet.” Lockhart shook his head.
The woman paused, now that she had everyone’s attention. She slowly scanned the group ending with Elder Stow and Alexis. She lifted the shirt and shook it which sent red droplets of blood to the grass. “The blood of the father. Not too long from now. That’s all you get.”
The woman faded until she disappeared altogether, but she spoke while she vanished. “I may go hunt that little bugger. Ruin my surprise and everything.”
There was a moment of silence before Roland broke the spell by going to see to Boston.
“Morrigu?” Lincoln asked out loud.
“One of the future Irish,” Katie said. “Or Welsh gods.”
“But what did she mean the blood of the father?” Alexis looked concerned. Elder stow looked at Lockhart and wondered the same thing.
Avalon, 2.12: The Second Encounter … Next Time