The travelers saw some people during the day, and passed by a village, but kept their distance. The lifestyle looked primitive. People dressed in animal skins, the huts barely kept out the rain, and the fields of grain got worked with tools of sticks and bones. It was early spring, and people were planting seeds in the hope of a harvest come fall. There were no guarantees in that world, and Katie made some commentary along the way.
“Back home, these years are spoken of with simple, meaningless numbers, and it feels foolish now to set dates for the end of this era and the beginning of the next. These people, on Rhodes or Crete, whichever island we are on, are still living Neolithic lives. I don’t even see any soft metals, like copper. Yet we have already seen bronze in the Alps ages ago, and even earlier in the Carpathian Mountains. These people hardly have huts enough to form a village—a little hamlet they can pack up and move at anytime. They are hardly a settled people, still mostly hunting and gathering. Yet we have seen the great civilization city of Kish in Mesopotamia, cities in Weret’s Egypt, and even earlier, the city of Jericho. So where does the Neolithic end and the copper age begin and then copper end and bronze begin? Things blend into each other much more than I ever imagined back when I was at the university memorizing exact dates, and they go on for much, much longer than I ever imagined.”
“What did Nuwa say?” Lockhart asked rhetorically. “They did not call it Longshan culture. They just called it life. Same here I suppose.”
They camped that night in a field beside a forest full of tall bushes. Lockhart set a watch in the night. He did not expect that they would be disturbed, but after all this time, he erred on the side of caution. He and Roland took the second shift, around ten o’clock, when Lincoln and Alexis went to bed. Decker and Elder Stow would take the wee hours, when Elder Stow’s scanner would be most useful. Katie and Boston had the sunrise, and usually made some kind of coffee, which Lockhart appreciated. It was a relaxed watch, but a watch all the same.
Boston woke when Roland got up. She closed her eyes right away to go back to sleep, but could not get back to sleep. She checked the moon and saw it was a fingernail, which was good. If Bob the wolf followed them into this time zone, and she did not doubt that he did, at least he would not go wolf on them.
Boston sat up as Lockhart finished putting some wood on the fire and walked off to his place on the perimeter. It was still early enough in the spring to be chilly in the night. Boston blamed the sea breezes. She spent several minutes listening for the sounds in the night and touching the points in her ears before she stood. She wondered briefly how she might look with a dress like she saw on Avalon before they went though the Heart of Time and got whisked back to the beginning of history. Shaping her fairy weave would be easy enough, but she wished she had Alexis’ mirror to look.
Boston stood. She was always an energetic girl, no doubt why she graduated early from high school and college, and got her doctorate in electrical engineering at such a young age, but that was not all of it. She rode rodeo, and grew up with her brothers as a tom-boy, running around and getting into trouble. Redneck trouble, she thought, but to be sure, it was Massachusetts redneck.
“Psst,” Boston heard the sound and wondered why her human alert system did not warn her a stranger was near. “Psst, elf.” A goblin head poked out from between two bushes. Boston was wary, but she was thrilled that this little one talked to her, and called he elf, which she was. She could not help responding.
“What?” she directed her whisper to the head, almost without thinking about it, like it was a natural thing to prevent waking the others. The goblin pulled out his hands and waved them at her, tossing a bit of dirt in her direction, and a monster of a troll reached out with incredibly long arms and grabbed her. Boston was prepared to scream, but her mouth was magically sealed. As the three goblins and the troll forced her into the woods, she tried to think to Roland, but even that was stymied, and after a minute she passed out from something like lack of oxygen, but it was lack of connection.
Underneath her change from human to elf, Boston did not realize that when she was cut off from the human race, she was connected to the natural world in an absolute way. It was a literal connection to life around the globe that sustained her life and that she helped to sustain with her life. When that connection was stifled, it was indeed like being cut off from oxygen. Fortunately, she came back after a short way, and the goblin complained.
“I can’t keep it up any longer,” he said, and looked drained.
“It’s all right, Boogern. We are close enough to the mountain. The light elves won’t follow us underground.”
“Hey, Flintskin,” The troll that was carrying Boston had to ask. “Does that mean we shouldn’t take this light elf underground?”
“No, Chewy, ya idiot. This one is our prisoner. We need to teach these light elves they have no business going about in the dark time.”
Boston tried not to laugh. Chewy the troll did look a little like something out of Star Wars.
“Kraken,” Flintskin spoke to the third goblin. Lead the way. They came to the entrance, a cave, and Kraken got a torch from some hidden place behind the wall. He got his flint, but as the torch came to bump Boston in the shoulder, she thought she could help. It was easy to cause the torch to light up. Magic in general was easier for her since she became an elf. As a human, she had to really focus and shove all her extraneous thoughts out of her mind to do anything. As an elf, she just reached into that compartment of her brain where she kept her magic, and there it was. Of course, the goblins were startled, and Chewy almost dropped her.
“I didn’t know.”
“You know, I can walk,” Boston offered.
“Not a chance,” Flintskin responded. “You can run like the wind, ya mean. But we aren’t letting go until you are safely locked up.”
Boston pouted and looked up at her troll. “Chewy, be gentle with me.”
“Yes mum,” the troll responded, impressed with her little bit of magic
Don’t miss tomorrow and the conclusion of the first half of Avalon, episode 3.8. Avalon 3.8 will conclude next Monday and Tuesday. Help yourself to this free read. Enjoy.