Katie stood over two bodies. They were both Ulwazzi’s men from inside the building. “I caught them trying to get our bread crackers and whatever they could find that belonged to Elder Stow. I told them to stop, and they laughed, and then they rushed me. I had no choice.”
Lockhart held her. “Hush. You did the right thing. Just don’t second guess yourself with should haves.” The men on the ground both had knives. Puzziya and several of the men from down the hill were there, staring, slack jawed.
“The horses,” Boston squeaked, and got back to the pen in time to see one man try to carry away a saddle. Boston pulled out her wand and let her glamour of humanity drop. “You don’t want to do that.” The man looked up and opened his mouth “You don’t want to anger the gods who have put a hedge around these travelers all of their things.” The man took one step back. “You don’t want to make me angry.” The man screamed, dropped the saddle, turned, and ran smack into the back section of the screen, flattening his nose and knocking himself delirious. He scrambled to his feet, and as he rounded the corner at the back of the building. Boston could not resist a shot that sparked against the man’s pants and started a small fire on his butt.
“Very good,” Lockhart said, as he caught up in time to see the butt fire. “Now pick up your father’s saddle.” It was Mingus’ saddle, and Boston picked it up to stack it neatly, but she could not resist the comment.
“Yes, grandpa.” She giggled and said now giggling was allowed, too.
Bob was not around when the group rode out at first light. Neither was Ulwazzi. Decker said he would have been surprised if the man showed his face. Lockhart pointed out that the man could deny any knowledge of what the others may have done and plead innocence.
“Hey!” Boston objected.
“Sweetheart,” Alexis got motherly. “The expression you lie like an elf did not come from outer space.”
“Even so, Hey!” Boston still objected.
Puzziya begged to go with the travelers. He said he knew the way they were headed and could guide them, though he honestly had no idea where they were headed. Lockhart allowed it, believing the poor man might not live long after they left; that he might be punished for bringing the travelers there in the first place. The rest of the workers bowed and scraped themselves on the ground, believing if the travelers were not gods, they were the next best thing.
Katie caught Ulwazzi’s girls out back fetching something to eat, and she laid it down in simple terms for them. “Puzziya is going to lead us out of the territory. Don’t follow us, or we will come back and burn the poppy field to the ground.” She was not feeling very kind hearted, having killed two men in the night
“But why do I have to take him?” Lincoln objected.
“Because, like before, you know what to ask and might recognize when he says something worthwhile.” It was not much of a reason, but the best Lockhart could think of.
As they rode, Puzziya said he was glad to at least be getting away from the wolfman. Lincoln killed that thought. “He will follow us, but with luck we may get far enough in the day to make it hard for him to catch up in the night.”
Puzziya fell silent after that, but looked back on a regular basis. They rode all day, and near sundown Decker, Roland and Katie began to look for a defensible position. What they found was a lone traveler in the wilderness where the man and his camel were settled in for the night.
“Good solid rock at our back. A large enough clearing for the camp, down hill on all sides from there, and plenty rock strewn downhill so even the wolf will have to be careful climbing. I say we join the lone wolf, no pun intended,” Decker said.
Lockhart and Katie walked their horses up to the ledge to ask if the man might need company for the night, as a scantily clad and immensely beautiful woman came out of the man’s tent. At least Katie thought she was beautiful. Lockhart was a bit put off by the tattoos.
“Halloo.” The woman waved to them, though they were hardly far away. The man was nibbling on what looked like a chicken leg. He stopped nibbling long enough to speak as Lockhart and Katie drew near.
“Are the rest going to join us or not?”
Lockhart waved for the others to come on up. “We were not sure if you would let us join you. Often lone travelers want to be left alone.”
“Hebat says she is never going to leave me alone,” the man joked, and Hebat, the woman, sat beside the man, hugged him and leaned in to nibble on his ear and tease him with her ample breasts.
“I could go back to my husband, if I had one,” Hebat looked at the man with what could only be described as longing.
As the others came up, the man lifted his head and smiled. “Mary Riley. Alisha. But everyone calls her Boston.” He waved and Boston vacated her horse, ran up and threw her arms around the man.
“Barak?” Lincoln asked, and Barak nodded.
“An elf?” Hebat looked right through the disguise. “I can do elf.”
Boston pulled back. “My lord, willingly,” she said before she asked, “Alisha?”
“In high elf. It means Little Fire.”
“And you are,” Roland said, and Boston left Barak to hug Roland.
“Newlyweds,” Barak explained to Hebat who looked, knowingly.
“Now, What is it?” Barak wondered what had people on edge.
“For an ordinary mortal, Barak is very perceptive,” Hebat praised him.
“The wolf,” Lockhart said, and they all sat and took time to explain their adventures, and explain who Puzziya was. Lockhart took especially long to explain about Ulwazzi. He, and Katie, wondered how the man knew certain things, beginning with the fact that there were no Were people in Anatolia.
“How would he even know who the Were people are, especially if there are not any around?” Lincoln asked.
“Good point,” Mingus agreed.
Barak got some tea before he spoke. “Someone is refining the opium. They have made heroine, I figure more than four thousand years ahead of schedule. That is two to four times the potency of the opiates that naturally occur, and I need to stop that distribution. Whoever is synthesizing the stuff has been working with a dealer in Kish, now dead, and has gotten some of the kings and rulers hooked on the stuff. Imagine a heroine empire with the drug dealers in control.”
“I should go,” Roland stood. “The day is getting on, but I should be fine,” Roland assured Boston. “I figure it will be after midnight before the wolf catches us, if he catches us tonight at all.”
“And this is the third and last night for the moon,” Alexis agreed.
Roland picked up his bow and a few arrows he got from the Hattians and headed out to hunt.
“Don’t know where we would be by now if we did not have Roland to bring home the bacon, so to speak.” Lincoln praised him.
Boston looked worried, Everyone assured her that he would be fine, but Barak had a question for Katie, because she also looked upset, and she never left Lockhart’s side. “Are you all right?”
“I killed two men last night. I had to. I understand there was no choice. I would have been killed, or worse, and probably everyone in the camp would have been killed with me. In fact, if they turned Elder Stow’s screen off, even by accident, I imagine the wolf would have killed everyone.” She looked at Decker. “I’m not seal trained. It is hard for me.”
Decker said nothing, but Barak nodded. “Stay close to Lockhart,” he grinned. “In fact, I think you should hold him in your sleep, just until you feel better and safe in the night.”
“I will,” Katie said. “You are the boss.” She took Lockhart’s arm and he looked like he wanted to object and not object at the same time.
“Ooh,” Hebat cooed. “That was sneaky good.” She leaned in for more nibbles on the ear and kisses on Barak’s cheek, and she gave it her floozy best.
Be sure and catch tomorrow’s post for the conclusion of Avalon, Season 3, and the end of Episode 3.12 The Moon Goes Down