The giant was only nine feet tall, though perhaps bent over a bit from age. His hair and beard were gray, and his hands and face showed signs of a long life. There was an ordinary woman in his trail, about five-three, which was tall enough for a woman in that age. She had deeply tanned skin, but she had straight brown hair and bright green eyes which suggested something other than strict middle eastern heritage. The giant took a seat at the head of the table and kept one eye on the people while he gave the appearance that he was ignoring them and did not care one whit about them.
“Lockhart, I am sorry,” the woman spoke in English.
Tara nodded. “Roland and your horses are safe for the moment. Roland is in the workhouse, talking with the gnomes about liberating your equipment. The dwarfs are being stubborn. They want to know how everything works. It’s complicated.”
“Are there humans here?” Alexis asked.
Tara nodded again. “Most of the workers are human slaves, including my people who were caught migrating through the no-man’s land.”
“And the giants?” Lincoln wondered.
“Half-breed titans, and they have found it easy to force others to do all their work and they eat anyone who does not cooperate. Somehow, we have to convince them to let you go, without eating you.”
“I thought we were under the protection of the gods,” Boston said.
“Surely,” Tara agreed. “But the gods mean nothing in this place. These half-human children of the titans worship no one in this no-man’s land. That does not mean the gods are powerless. I am sure that after they eat you, they will face terrible consequences.”
“Great!” Lincoln hardly got to start his complaint when the giant at the table interrupted.
“Woman. What are you telling these slaves?”
“Lord Veregoth.” Tara dipped her head in a slight bow toward the giant seated at the table. “I am explaining that they have been fortunate to have been selected to serve the great masters.”
“And you speak in strange words. How is this? I know every word spoken by blood or spirit.”
“They are words that do not yet exist. The words are from the future as are these people. They were headed back to the future when we interrupted their journey and brought them here.”
“Woman.” Lord Veregoth shook his head. “You are speaking nonsense. People cannot travel into the past. You would have traveled into the past and taken your people by a different road, if you could. Do not deny it. And the only way to go into the future is wait until tomorrow.”
“Truly,” Tara began to speak when Lockhart put his hand quickly over Alexis’ mouth.
“Keep it in English,” Lockhart instructed everyone. “He does not need to know that we can understand him.”
Lincoln had his mouth open, and pivoted toward Tara. “Ask him how he knew where we were to capture us.”
“Young Lord Vinasa had a vision that pinpointed your exact location. That was strange since he has never had such a vision before,” Tara responded.
“Smells like a set-up,” Katie said.
“Exactly,” Lincoln agreed.
“Stop.” The giant at the table was getting agitated. “What are they saying? What are you telling them? Speak, woman.”
Tara offered another slight head bow. “They asked how you knew about them. I mentioned young Lord Vinasa and his vision, though he never had such a vision before.”
“Yes. Strange thing that he saw these people, only I see his vision did not show him everything.” Lord Veregoth eyed Lockhart and Decker. “These are bigger than most. They should do a good day’s work.” His eyes turned to Boston and Katie. “And the strange red and yellow hair might interest Lord Hoth. He likes different things.” Lord Veregoth shrugged. “But the ugly one,” he said of Elder Stow. “I do not know what he is. He seems strange to me. Can they explain?”
Tara translated and Lockhart answered, with Tara translating again. “The red and yellow hair are future colors and do not belong here. Elder Stow is of the Gott-Druk, the people who once lived in this land and were driven out to the stars in the days of the flood. We are all from the future and are trying to get back there as quick as we can. The gods have made a way, but it is a hard and long journey.”
“Enough!” Lord Veregoth shouted and stood. “Do you think I am a fool? No one comes from the future. That is impossible. We are all going into the future, but it is day by day. No one can get there faster.” Lord Veregoth looked down on the travelers, and he had murder in his eyes, and maybe supper.
Alexis shook her head and Lincoln whispered. “The brilliant and stupid share the same flaw. Instead of adjusting their thinking to fit the facts, they adjust the facts to fit their theories.”
“Quiet,” Lord Veregoth roared and slammed a hand on the table, but then he paused in his anger as a young ten foot giant burst into the room, and left the door open.
“Vinasa,” Tara managed to name the giant before the giant pointed at the travelers and laughed.
“Now your days are finished,” Vinasa said. “Behold the dead will eat the living.” There was a wild look in his eyes, and an insane sound in his laughter. “The great one speaks. The dead will eat the living,” he repeated before he collapsed.
Two young men came running in through the open door, shouting, “Tara! Tara!”
Lord Veregoth dropped his jaw, looked at the unconscious Visana spread across the entrance, and seemed to have trouble framing his question.