After 2914 BC in the Persian No-Man’s Land. Kairos lifetime 38: Tara of Sumer
At the beginning of the journey, back in the days of primeval chaos, at the beginning of history, Lincoln and Alexis, a couple in their sixties, were restored to their youth. Lincoln claimed to be twenty-nine because Alexis appeared to end up closer to twenty-four. Yet, despite their youth, Lincoln and Alexis argued like only old, married couples know how to argue. Lincoln tried to end it by saying Alexis was right, but Alexis did not end it because she knew Lincoln was lying and just trying to end the argument. The first interesting thing about it all was they were arguing about something that was none of their business—the way old, married couples so often do.
“But if Roland becomes human, that would kill father,” Alexis said.
“Oh, he is still out there,” Alexis assured him. “He may be watching us this very minute.”
“Good,” Lincoln said, and he reached over and gave Alexis a kiss. “But I just don’t see Boston willing to give up her humanity to become an elf. That is a choice Roland will have to make, as you did.”
Alexis squirmed in her seat. “Boston already has a lot of elf in her, the way she talks and acts and thinks. The physical change would not change her much on the inside.”
“But some. Enough. It would be a tremendous difference on the inside in some ways, and on the outside. I mean, what would her parents and brothers think?”
“There are ways,” Alexis hedged. “She has enough magical ability to cover herself with a glamour. They would not have to know.”
“Ah! But what about children?”
“Elves don’t conceive but maybe once in a hundred years. They might not have any children until after her parents are gone, and maybe after her brothers are gone too.”
“Well, I don’t see Roland giving up being the elf he is. It would kill father if both of us became human.”
“Having second thoughts?” Lincoln used that phrase often enough in all their years of marriage.
“Benjamin, you know I am not,” Alexis responded and gave him the kiss she always did.
Of course, the second interesting thing about it all was they were supposed to be on watch. It was near midnight, the horses were tied and quiet, and everyone else was asleep. To be fair, they had ridden all day and not seen any sign of people. And also, the sleeping potion, a poppy derivative, came wafting into the camp on a gentle breeze and Alexis and Lincoln were asleep even before it worked its way into the tents.
The horses were carted off by gnomes who learned the hard way that these horses were not for eating. Two gnomes tried to cut Boston’s Honey, and a third went for Alexis’ Misty Gray, and they all received electric shocks strong enough to incapacitate them for a good half-hour. It was the hedge of the gods and particularly, the work of the Kairos. They did not try that again.
The tents and equipment were all taken by dwarfs. They tried to take the clothing as well, but found the fairy weave only responded to the person to whom it belonged. They might have taken Elder Stow’s space suit, but they decided they did not want to deal with a naked Gott-Druk. They were content to take the Elder’s artifacts.
The people, including the Gott-Druk, were taken by the Giants who ruled this stretch of land. The gnomes and dwarfs and the human beings who were their slaves dared not complain, or even point out the obvious. Nothing makes a giant angrier than the belief that you are speaking down to them, like they are stupid or something. And nothing is worse, well, little is worse than an angry giant. In this case, the giants thought they had new slaves and horse bacon. The gnomes decided to let the giants learn for themselves about the horses. And the dwarfs, and in fact the little ones in general by then knew something about the travelers. They dreaded the consequences if the giants tried to have their way.
Roland woke up in the wee hours before dawn. He woke several hours before the others because he had a high metabolism. It was not the kind of metabolism that made him want to eat second breakfast or thirds at lunch, like a dwarf. But it was the kind that kept him skinny. In this case, the sleep of the poppies wore off sooner than it did for the others.
Roland found himself left where he slept. The Giants did not want the elf. He hummed a little tune as he searched the area. The tents were gone and the horses were missing, not to mention his fellow travelers, and when he reached to his side, he found even his knife was gone. Somewhere out in the dark, he heard the roar of a lion. He stood, thinking it was not a good thing to be alone in the wilderness, especially one that Lincoln had described as a no-man’s land.
Roland had to think. Tracking the group would be easy enough. He was a hunter, after all. But what he might do when he got there, he would have to think hard. He saw the giant tracks even in the dim light of pre-dawn.
The rest of the travelers awoke in a one-room log house made out of whole trees notched like a child’s Lincoln logs and with a twenty foot ceiling over a dirt floor. There were thin cut windows spaced evenly along the walls, barely wide enough to shoot an arrow through, and just the one door that Lockhart guessed was more than twice his six feet in height. There was also a table with three chairs on each side and one at each end. Lockhart, at over six feet, could sit in a big chair and barely reach his chin above the table. He looked like a child.
“Giants,” Lincoln said. “I would guess the ten foot variety.”
“There are houses off to the side here.” Alexis was peering through a window at the far side of the building.
“Barn in this direction,” Boston said. She was looking out the opposite direction, through a window by the door. “It’s a really big barn. I wonder if they have giant chickens or something.”
“Looks like a graveyard out here,” Decker said, and everyone went to the side wall to look. There were only four slit windows along that side wall, but it was enough to see the graves.
“Between the houses and the barn,” Alexis said. “Like a warning.”
“Like a threat,” Decker countered.
“Do what you are told or end up here,,” Lincoln agreed.
“Visitors.” Lockhart heard the latch on the door and quickly got down from the chair. The others bunched up around him.