Roland and Boston were the last to leave the underground, and Boston told Coressus that unless there was a way over the mountain, they would probably have to go back through to get to the other side.
“There is a way,” Coressus said. “But it is very difficult. You are welcome to come back through when you are ready.”
Roland barely got out the thank you before they heard a woman scream. They ran through the glamour that pretended to be a rock wall and found a woman pointing at Elder Stow and screaming. The appearance of Roland and Boston could not possibly make her scream louder, but she tried.
We are friends. We are not going to hurt you. It’s all right.” The travelers said various things. Decker even tried “Shut up,” but nothing worked until two dozen men from town showed up with copper swords and copper knives and a few wicked looking bone clubs with copper shards in the head to make it like a mace. The travelers saw an abundance of tin and copper, on belt buckles and in farm implements, and silver in hair clips and decorative pins, and even some gold and a few precious stones.
“So one side of the mountain is a different world from the other side?” Katie said.
They came out of the mountain beside a small ranch style house with maybe three rooms, and now they were standing in an open space beneath the mountain. The village proper started a hundred yards down the hill and continued with buildings here and there until it reached a bay. A quick three hundred and sixty degree scan showed heights all around the bay, but the few large ships in the docks suggested that somewhere across the bay, there had to be a way to the open sea.
“Thanks Muggy. We’ll handle this.” One man said, and the woman appeared to curtsey before she picked up her water jug and walked toward the town without a word. The travelers saw where the spring came out of the side of the mountain, and Lincoln spoke.
Alexis responded quietly. “Timing is everything.”
Everyone waited for Lockhart to speak. “We have come a long way in search of Nalishayas. She knows us, and should be looking for us.”
“And your beasts?” another man interrupted.
“Poisonous,” Katie said, and no one said otherwise. “Not safe to eat, but they serve us well. The are shy, though. They have been known to bite strangers.”
“Nalishayas?” Lockhart repeated.
The man looked at a couple of other men and appeared to make a decision. “This way, he said, and his men spread out to give the travelers and their poisonous beasts room.
“Do I look all right?” Boston asked.
“You look like you used to look,” a very human looking Roland told her, but Boston was not satisfied.
“But do you think anyone noticed?” Boston asked, followed by, “I wish you had your mirror.”
The men led the travelers to a building with a long front porch and said they would have to leave their beasts outside. Fortunately, there was a porch railing where they could tie the horses off. Lockhart went first as the men held the door open. Boston came last as the man said, “Wait here,” and he closed the door and lowered the latch on the outside.
“Nalishayas,” Lockhart said again through the door.
“Many people are searching for Nalishayas, and most of them mean her ill. I’ll fetch her, in a day or three. You and your muggys need to just wait.” The man left the porch.
“No windows,” Lincoln pointed to the obvious.
Decker pulled his knife. “I could cut free a few of these stones.”
“No, let me kick down the door,” Katie offered. Being an elect, she had no doubt she could do it.
“But Nalishayas isn’t here,” Boston said. She could tell in her gut.
“But she is coming,” Boston stood, looked at the wall, and formed a true smile of anticipation on her lips.
“Listen to her,” Alexis said. “She is an elf, too.”
Roland took Boston’s hand and smiled with her. “The attraction is very strong in you.”
“Proximity to the amulet,” Elder Stow suggested as he put away the most destructive options for opening the door.
“Quite possibly,” Boston said. “She must have been at sea, but somehow she got the time gate to remain on land in case we came through. Maybe the gods?” She looked at Roland, who shrugged.
“Maybe,” he said.
It was an hour before they heard the towns people begin to shout, “Nalishayas. Nalishayas.” The travelers imagined a whole crowd of people gathered by the docks.
Lockhart stood. “Time to go.” He pointed at Roland and Roland spit on his hands, stepped up to the door, and slowly raised his hands. They guessed two guards, because they heard one call for his mama and run off like he saw a ghost, but the other grabbed the latch and put his weight into it to hold it in place.
“Move,” Alexis said, and knocked Roland to the side. She tried, but had little luck. “The guy is too fat,” she concluded.
Katie huffed and kicked the door. The whole thing shook, but the door did not go down until Decker barreled in and put his shoulder to it. Decker said, “Ouch.” The door fell on the man, who was indeed fat. Lockhart whistled, and his horse, Dog, came right up to the opening to stare own the man. The horse would have stepped on the door and crushed the fat man beneath it if the travelers hadn’t been busy exiting the building and stepping on the fat man themselves.
We might as well leave the horses here, as anywhere,” Alexis said, so they did, and marched off to the docks to stand at the back of the crowd and be inconspicuous.
Nalishayas’ ship was a big single main master, with eight men rowing on each side, a cabin and upper deck in the back where a man stood with the rudder oar, and a cook hole in the front. Being a sailing ship, driven by the wind at their back, it was important to keep the smelly stuff as far forward as possible.
“Nalishayas.” the people waved. Nalishayas stood on top of the cook hole and held onto a pole which might have been used for a small lateen sail to help steer the ship and keep it accessible to the wind. She waved back before she cupped her hand and shouted.
“Lockhart.” She jumped to the deck and marched toward the group that no one knew was standing at the back of the crowd. People made way for her. She was a lovely woman, about five three, with regular brown hair but eyes a deep. rich brown color. “Boston!” she shouted, and straightened her leather jerkin over her leather breaches just before Boston tackled her for a hug.
Boston kissed Nalishayas’ cheek over and over and said, “Thank you. I love you so much. Thank you for Roland. I love him, and you are so wonderful to me. And I missed you. and I’m never going to marry if Mingus doesn’t show up. And that makes me so sad.” Boston began to cry.
Nalishayas extracted herself from the hug with a word. “I’m guessing she has been an elf for less than a week.”
Roland nodded. “About four days.”
Be sure and come back tomorrow for the conclusion of Avalon, episode 3.8 enjoy.