After 2455 BC near the Tian Shan. Kairos lifetime 46: Lin, Empress of the Hsia
Elder Stow rode in from the flank where the trees thinned out and the sun gave no mercy. He tugged on his fairy weave vest, a habit left over from when he wore his space suit. He bounced in the saddle like an old man on a trampoline. He had the appearance of an old man, so he competed the image, but the old man image was a glamour designed to cover his normal Neanderthal look. The Kairos told him from this point forward in history, it would not do to have a Gott-Druk riding through the streets of wherever.
“My Mother and Father,” the Gott-Druk spoke to Lockhart and Katie as the two in charge of this expedition through time. “Would it hurt anything if I were to forego the glamour at this time, out here in the wilderness?”
“Not in the daytime,” Lockhart said flatly. “No telling where there might be eyes watching from a distance.”
“It’s not like they have binoculars,” Katie looked at Lockhart before she spoke to the Elder. “As long as your scanner doesn’t show anyone around,” she said.
“And as long as you make sure you are covered as soon as there is someone around,” Lockhart interrupted with an unhappy look behind Katie’s back. His wife contradicted him all the time, back when he was married.
“But what is the matter with wearing a glamour? You should not even know that you have it on,” Katie asked, because she felt Lockhart’s unhappiness even if she did not see his face.
“I understand, and I am sure I will get to a point where I don’t think about it, but right now I feel it is stifling, like I can’t breathe, just knowing that I am walking around looking like a human.”
“I know what you mean,” Boston shouted back from the front and put on a big elf grin.
“Miss Riley. You must pay attention,” Mingus said sharply to Boston. “Never have I seen an elf maid so easily distracted.”
“Not true,” Alexis spoke up from behind. “You had me.”
Mingus turned back his head. “You were a handful at least until you were a hundred and fifty. And then, after two hundred, you lost it altogether and became human to marry a human.” He turned his head a bit further to give Lincoln a hard stare. Lincoln put his hands up like he was surrendering and kept his mouth closed.
“Hey, I’m only twenty-five. And after that bite of golden apple, I’m probably more like eighteen or nineteen.”
“Nonsense. In elf years I have judged you to be about a hundred and ten.”
“Hooray!” Boston yelled. “I have forty more years before I get to one-fifty and have to be grown up. That’s what you said. Alexis was a handful until she was one-fifty.”
Mingus looked back again as Alexis spoke. “She is a mathematician and engineer.”
Boston shook her head. “Honey doesn’t like the fire and light.”
“You mean your horse?” Mingus shook his head. “Elves don’t name their horses.”
“I thought you named your horse, horse,” Alexis said.
“You say, horse come here, horse go there, and horse does it,” Lincoln interjected, but softly.
“Hey. Elder Stow,” Boston shouted again. “Have you decided on a name for your horse yet?”
“They won’t let me call it torture beast,” Elder Stow said as he bounced along.
“Hey! I like My Little Pony,” Boston still shouted.
“There, see?” Katie said.
Lockhart simply shook his head. “After my time.”
“My favorite is Doctor Hooves,” Boston added.
“That’s a modern one,” Katie shouted back, though she did not need to shout for Boston to hear with her good elf ears. “I was talking about the original series.”
“And another thing young lady,” Mingus garnered Boston’s attention again. “You now have ears that will hear many things you never heard before, and much better than a human. But it is not always wise to say what you hear, especially among humans. And it is not polite to butt into other people’s conversations.”
Boston lowered her head and took her scolding graciously. Then she noticed her red hair was starting to get long, and she shook her head several times to see her hair move. “You’re right Father Mingus, I’m sorry,” she said, in case Mingus thought she was shaking her head in disagreement.
“There, there. That is perfectly okay. You did not know. Everyone has to learn these things.”
Major Decker took that moment to ride in from the other flank. “Anyone watching where we are going? Captain Harper?”
“Sorry sir.” Katie sat up straight. “We were just talking about childhood, growing up, unimportant things. Sorry sir.”
“I also apologize,” Mingus said.
“We were having a kind of family discussion,” Boston said.
“You must always make time for family,” Elder Stow added with a smile and some volume.
“I mean, I am not the hunter my son is. My senses are sharper than human senses, so it is right I should be out front, but I do not have my son’s instincts.”
“I miss him,” Boston got very sad, very quickly, but when Alexis reached out to her, she jumped. “He’s not dead. I know that. I would know if he was dead. He’s just 4500 years in the future, that’s all. I just want to get there as quick as we can, that’s all.”
“So, people, and especially those with sensors,” Decker said, with a look at Elder Stow. “What do you sense about three hundred paces in front of us?”
Elder Stow took a quick look at his scanner. Everyone else looked at the caravan. There were twenty men, and a dozen heavily burdened donkeys standing in their path, waiting patiently for them to catch up. Obviously, the men decided that the travelers were peaceful people, since they paid so little attention to where they were going and what they were doing.
“Glamours everyone,” Lockhart raised his voice.
“Now, Miss Riley, just like we practiced,” Mingus said kindly to Boston. Boston made her glamour so she would look human. “Yes. Very good. Good girl,” Mingus added, and Boston smiled at the compliment.
“Hey!” Alexis said again, and this time Lincoln caught the sour expression on her face.