Avalon 2.12: The Third Encounter

            There appear to be plenty of people in the path of the travelers, and the archetype berserker is not one that anyone might want.  Also, the bokarus is still on the loose, so maybe the travelers need to proceed with caution.

###

            The mist rolled gently over the meadow and Elder Stow confirmed that they were nearing the Channel.  Roland slowed the party to a walk when the mist gathered around their feet.  He urged extra caution when it was two feet deep, thick at the ground and could be seen creeping around the tree branches.  Soon enough the mist rose and turned to a genuine fog, and they had to line up and keep a sharp eye on the horse in front of them.

            Alexis rode up front behind Boston.  She looked back now and then, but she was not looking at Lincoln.  “Don’t tell me,” he said.  “You’re looking for the werewolf.”

            “Ghouls,” Decker suggested up from behind Lincoln.  “It seems to me this is the kind of weather they would love.”

            “No.”  Alexis frowned.  “I’m worried about Father.”

            “He can take care of himself,” Roland spoke up from the front.  There was silence for a moment before Elder Stow spoke.

            “We are very close to the sea,” he said, and then the silence settled in with the fog.

            After a short while, Roland brought the party to a stop.  He heard something.  He described it as a low moan but made no judgment about what it might be.  Elder Stow tinkered with his equipment.  It crackled for a bit, like a bad radio reception before it came in clear.

            Boston commented first.  “It sounds like someone in pain.”  The group began to move again, but carefully.

            “More like a hangover,” Decker said.

            “Or someone with a bad stomach ache,” Alexis said.

            “I’m not sure it is human,” Roland said and he spurred across the meadow and came back to the head of the line without explanation.

            “I cannot say,” Elder Stow admitted.  “I cannot get a scan lock on whatever it is.”

            “Why not human?” Boston asked.

            “We are getting closer but the sound is not getting louder.”

            “I can confirm that,” Elder Stow said as he shook his instrument to be sure it was working properly.  They rode in silence for a bit before Lincoln voiced his thought.

            “Maybe it is a wraith or a ghost.”  When Alexis looked back at him, he felt the need to defend his idea.  “What?  I only said what we were all thinking.”

            “I wasn’t thinking that,” Decker said.

            “Nor was I,” Elder Stow agreed.  “But given some of the things we have seen, it would not surprise me.”  Elder Stow’s instrument crackled again like he was losing the radio station.  He shook it and twisted some dial when at once a voice came clearly from the speaker.

            “Alexis!  Help me!  I need you.  Alexis!  Help me!”

            Alexis kicked her horse to the front of the line before anyone could stop her.  “It’s Father.  He needs me.”  She yelled back as she raced off into the fog.  Roland and Boston rushed after her, but everyone else stopped when Lockhart shouted from the back of the line.

            “Hold it right there.”  Decker butted up in front of Lincoln’s horse in case he was thinking of following the runners.  “Elder Stow,” Lockhart still shouted.  “Can you track and follow them?”

            “Yes, of course,” the Elder said and he floated to the very front.  His pace was a bit quicker than the one Roland set, but it was safer in the fog than riding flat out. 

            Katie looked back at Lockhart several times with worry on her face,   Lockhart looked worried, too.  It was dark, like evening, though it was only the middle of the afternoon.  The fog covered the ground especially like a blanket.  A horse at speed could easily step into a snake hole or some such thing and break a leg, and injure or maybe kill the rider.  Or maybe they could ride right into a pit.

            Alexis thought nothing of that.  She was in a complete panic and raced through the nearby woods.  Roland, her elf brother and Boston, the rodeo rider could hardly keep up.  They could not seem to catch up.

            They could hear the voice now even without the aid of Elder Stow’s equipment.  “Alexis, I need you!  Alexis, Help me!”

            Alexis broke out of the trees and on to rocks where her horse slowed imperceptibly out of self-preservation.  The horse stopped suddenly and all at once when a figure of a person rose up in front, waving his arms.  The horse bucked and Alexis held on by sheer force of will.  Boston arrived and grabbed Alexis’ reigns,  Roland grabbed his sister while Boston looked down at the shadow and spoke.

            “Thank you Grubby.”

            Grubby doffed his hat.  “I say, you was getting too close to the cliff here.”  The cliff was several yards in front of them and dropped a long way to where the sea crashed up against crumbling boulders.  Riding over the edge at full speed would have been certain death.

            “What was I doing?”  Alexis asked her brother in a voice that suggested she was enchanted.  They heard the voice again from twenty yards beyond the cliff, only this time the words were different.

            “Roland, help me.  I need you.  Help me.”

            Alexis quickly grabbed her brother, but he appeared to have enough of their father’s mind magic to shake it off.

            “Fire!” Grubby yelled and waved his hat.  Six fireballs went out from the cliff top and disappeared in the fog.

            A wind came in answer and it temporarily pushed back the fog in the immediate area.  A face appeared floating over the water.  It screamed anger and rushed at them.  It was the Bokarus.  Boston felt Alexis grab her hand, and giving their magic to Roland, Roland let out a far bigger and more powerful fireball.  The bokarus quickly retreated before it burned.

            “Fire!”  Grubby waved his hat again.  Six more dwarf fireballs sprang from the ledge.  They look puny, barely warm, and Boston was not sure any made it as far as the bokarus before they fizzled out.  It was hard to tell as the fog closed in again.

            Lockhart and the others caught up in time to see the bokarus.  Elder Stow was fiddling with a different piece of his equipment when they heard the bokarus speak.  It was not what they expected.

            “No!  Wait!  That’s not right.  That’s not fair.”  It ended in a few mumbles before there was silence.  Immediately the fog began to dissipate.  The sun was out.  It was just after three in the afternoon.  Their spirits lifted as they saw a young women floating over the sea.  She shouted as she came near.

            “Hello.  Are you Lockhart?  I’m supposed to find Lockhart.”

            “It’s the Greek,” Grubby said and made a funny face without explaining.

            “A young goddess,” Katie guessed.

            “I’m Lockhart,” he said when she got close enough so he did not have to shout.

            “Goody,” the goddess said as her feet touched the ground.  “I’m supposed to take you to Danna.  I’m sorry.  She told me all of your names but that was too hard to remember.”

            “Thank you for your help,” Alexis said, assuming she did something with the bokarus.

            “I haven’t helped you yet,” the goddess said.

            “Do you have a name?”  Lockhart was curious.  She was a lovely person, as all goddesses should be.

            “I’m Galatea.  I have a baby.”

            “Really?”  Alexis stole a glance at Lincoln who opted not to return her glance.

            Boston pointed.  Roland and Lockhart started moving so the group started out and Galatea floated along, like Elder Stow but without the need for equipment.

            “Yes,” Galatea continued to talk to Alexis and Boston.  “I have a husband, well, temporarily.  Njord is a bit of an old man, but nice.”

            “He is your old man,” Boston said, and Galatea clearly thought about it for a minute before she smiled.

            “Yes he is, and I have a baby.”

            “So you said,” Alexis agreed.

###

Avalon 2.12:  Looking at Tomorrow … Next Time

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