Someone had prepared a spooky nightmare reception, but the bokarus interrupted. Boston was being drowned, but the group managed to pull her out and singe the bokarus at the same time. The bokarus did not flee, though, until the goddess came up from downstream, and she was not happy having her nightmare surprise ruined. All the travelers could think was good, if the bokarus made a goddess mad, maybe he would be prevented from following them. They could hope.
After a careful river crossing the travelers found the land changed. There was more sand and stone, more tuffs of grass and less meadow grass. The gentle up and down of the landscape continued to lead them toward the sea, though it was still at an angle that would not reveal the water soon. Boston was winded from her encounter with the bokarus, but not injured. Roland looked relieved.
“I’m worried,” Alexis said, but she revealed no details of her thoughts. Lincoln sought to comfort her, believing that the father spoken of was likely her and Roland’s father. Mingus was still lost somewhere behind them, and he was nowhere near a place where they could protect him from a bokarus or anything else. All Alexis could do was keep looking back for some sign of him and hope.
Captain Decker and Elder Stow had a different take on the matter. They spoke little as they continued to keep an eye on their flanks while they traveled, but in their few words the message was clear. For Elder Stow, the mother and father of the group was Katie and Lockhart. It was a standard designation among the Gott-Druk, and Decker was inclined to agree with him. They kept a sharp watch for trouble along the path, but kept one eye on Lockhart as well.
Katie and Lockhart were the least concerned of the group. They had traveled side by side, protecting the rear guard for some time now. They were not inattentive, but maybe less focused on potential trouble and more focused on each other. Lockhart was feeling comfortable and content to wait for things to develop in good time. Katie was content to wait until Robert was ready. She was ready, but he had the responsibility of navigating several thousand years to get everyone home safe. Robert had also been married before, she reminded herself, and maybe she could give him a little more patience and breathing space because of it.
The travelers came to a halt just before lunch. There was a man blocking the way.
“And who are you? Do I know you? Why are you blocking the way? Nice horses.” The man was not exactly talking to himself, but he night have been.
People answered him, but he did not seem to be listening until Lincoln said, “We’re looking for Danna.”
“Ah!” The man stared at Lincoln and it looked something between a curious stare and a half-mad, frightening kind of stare. “Do you know the Don?”
“We know the Kairos,” Lockhart spoke softly as he stepped up to join the crowd,
“The Kairos! What does that word mean? Silly Greek words. The Greeks are full of silly words. My grandfather knows how words work.” The man sighed and shrugged. “You know my grandfather only has one eye? He says he sees twice as good out of one as he ever saw out of two. There’s a riddle for you.”
“Your grandfather only has one eye?” Katie wondered and risked the man’s stare falling on her.
“Yeah, but Danna’s got two eyes. Pretty eyes too. She is going to be my aunt or cousin or something – sister – something or other.”
“Sister-in-law?” Boston guessed.
“That’s it!” The man was pleased like he figured it out himself. “She can’t marry my brother yet because she has to kill the bugger across the channel first. I call her the bugger because every time I say her real name I get mad. You know what I mean, mad?”
“But Danna is nice, isn’t she?” Alexis tried to make sense of the conversation.
“Yeah, but – hey, are you trying to distract me? I know what you are doing. You don’t want me to get mad. I’m frightening when I get mad, you know.”
“I thought we were just having a nice conversation,” Lincoln said and looked quickly around the group.
“You were telling us about Danna,” Alexis prompted.
“Yeah, but – hey. We’re having a pleasant conversation here. Who invited you?”
Everyone looked to the back of the group and screamed. A dragon came in for a landing and there was the bokarus riding on the dragon’s back. The horses scattered. The people ran for cover. The man started to protest, but the dragon fire hit the man dead center and for a moment all the others could do was see the flames and feel the heat. When the dragon took a breath, the man got really mad.
“That was rude,” the man said, jumped up to the dragon’s face and punched the dragon hard enough to kill the beast with that one blow. Blood splattered across the ground, the sight of which made the man turn red angry. More punches followed, as the bokarus fled for its life.
“Rude, rude, rude,” The man flailed away on the dead beast until the whole top portion of the dragon became like pulp in the dirt. Then came the dangerous point as the man started to look around for the bokarus. He did not seem able to focus very well. There was the look of murder and the wildness of death in his eyes. Lincoln bit his finger to keep still and quiet. The man started toward one of the horses, like maybe it was another dragon of some kind when a man, a very big and well muscled man appeared behind the first and grabbed him around the middle, pinning the man’s arms to his side.
The man gone mad began to twist in the air in the attempt to break free all while the big one who had him trapped whispered in the man’s ear. They rose up in the air and slammed to the ground. They blew across the way and slammed into a tree which snapped the tree in two. They continued the struggle, disappearing in the distance, suddenly drawing close again, breaking several bigger boulders with the big man’s back until at last the whispered words began to have an effect. The berserker started to breathe and the madness drained slowly from his face. The big one looked a bit banged up, but the travelers then caught glimpses of what he was saying.
“It’s alright, Modi. These are friends. Friends. The danger is over. It’s okay.” It went on, until at last the madman could breathe normally, and he looked down as if he was ashamed of what he did or might have done.
“Forgive my brother,” the big one said as he let the madman go. “You are strangers to him. He really is gentle when you get to know him, and loyal and good.” He turned to his brother and took his hand. “I think we may have a little nap time,” he said, and as the madman sighed and nodded, the two of them vanished.
No one said anything at first outside of gathering the horses. Boston spoke when they mounted. “That was weird.” No one contradicted her.
As they got in line and started out again, Lincoln added a thought. “I did not know a bokarus could control a dragon to ride it. I thought they were nature spirits and dragons are not natural to earth, are they?” No one commented on his thought, either.
Avalon 2.12: The Third Encounter … Next Time