Devya paced. She was angry and upset. She felt like screaming.
“Mother,” the young man in the room spoke up to calm her. “They will be back soon. Father will have the amulet and everything will be all right, you will see.”
Devya paused. She placed a gentle hand against her son’s cheek and smiled for him. Then she turned and screamed. “What is wrong with me? I trusted people.”
Devya stopped pacing again and assured the man. “You have done a good job, Megul the Short. In fact, you may be mayor for a third term if you keep it up.” She smiled again, but Megul the Short sighed and nodded. Being Mayor was not an easy job. Already hundreds of light skinned people from the steppes had moved down to the green and fertile land round the city. Keeping the peace among the tribes was not hard as long as the amulet of peace and prosperity was in place, but there was no telling what might happen once that magical help was removed.
Devya started pacing again. It was a very big room, so she had plenty of room to move, and the big table in the center, where Chuchi had taken a seat to watch his mother, allowed her to pace around it in a wide circle, rather than just pacing back and forth. She paused at the table where a crude map was laid out.
“There is no way to avoid it,” she breathed, though loud enough for everyone to hear. “The City of Sanctuary is not enough. We will have to build a little kingdom and exert more control over our connections to the silk road. I would say from the Khyber pass, up to Bukhara. From Samarkand to Merv in the other direction.”
Megul the short left his friend by the window and came to where Devya was leaning over the map, and Chuchi was looking over her shoulder. “That is a lot of territory to control,” Megul the Short protested. “That may be more than any of the Holy Cities of the Indus control.”
“We don’t have to control it. We just want to oversee it in a sense, to encourage the ideals of Sanctuary. To support the peace and prosperity of all the people, especially when people begin to move in here by the thousands and tens of thousands. We need to have a reasonable structure already in place.”
“Horses in the gate,” the man by the window reported, and the others all went to look
“Thank you , Miras,” Devya said, sounding better now that she had decided something.
The travelers were led up a steep path to the city gate, the city, really hardly a town, sat on the top of a hill. It had a wall around it, stone and well fitted, and Katie had to remark.
“I smell Shemsu work in the fitting of those stones.”
“Probably cut, carried from some distant quarry and fitted perfectly. The Shemsu way,” Lincoln spoke up from behind. “It says here that Devya’s people have Shemsu roots. From Zisudra’s day, I would guess. Devya herself is described as having skin as dark as an African, but with Caucasian features and eyes as blue as the sky.”
“A fair description of my wife,” Avi interrupted. “And yes, she speaks often of the Shemsu talent with stone, but right now we need hunters to track down whoever stole the amulet. Devi says with all of the Indo-Iranians that are due to move in and through the area, without the amulet we can expect nothing but war and killing, and the destruction of our fertile valleys.”
They all dismounted, and Lincoln and Alexis volunteered to set the horses for the night so the others could go inside the temple, or cathedral, which is what the palace looked like. As they crossed the front covered porch to go inside, Lockhart pointed out the rocking chairs.
“My favorite pastime,” Avi admitted. “I can sit and rock for hours. Devi says one day, far in the future, Romans and Han will meet here and rock and make treaties. I do not know who these Romans and Han may be, but living in peace is a good thing. I have seen too much of the alternative in my life.”
“As have we all,” Katie agreed.
“Boston!” It was the first thing they heard when they went inside.
“Nuwa dragon already covered that,” Boston said, and stuck out her tongue.
“I see you are maturing in your elf life,” Devya said, as she reached out and gave Boston a hug. “Lockhart, I am glad you are here.”
Avi went straight for his wife, Devya, and kissed her, which made her smile.
“I’m over forty, and he still makes me smile,” she said. “Where is Alexis?” she looked around. “Alexis would understand.”
“She and Lincoln are looking after the horses,” Lockhart said, anxious to hear about what was going on. “So Vanu,” he referred to a time zone almost fifteen hundred years in the past, real time. “Did Dayni’s brother and friend steal the amulet again?”
Devya offered a grin as she remembered.
“You are not supposed to tell her about lifetimes she does not remember for herself,” Mingus scolded.
“It’s all right,” Devya assured them. “Remembering Vanu was how I thought to get the amulet and bring it here to Sanctuary.” She stepped to the back of the room where there were arched openings that led out to a tremendous cobblestone court. She only took one step out, the others hovering behind and around her shoulders, and she called at the top of her lungs. “Fuxi!”
A giant dragon materialized in the courtyard, and yawned, like he had been sleeping. “I see you found your friends,” he said.
“Fuxi,” Devya said, sternly. “Please look up and down your road once again, from Bukhara to the Khyber pass and tell me what you see.” Fuxi rattled off information about several tribal groups, merchants, farmers, and one group of children paying in the road, but none were the ones Devya was looking for. Fuxi yawned again as Devya gave her instructions. “Stay in the court for now. Do not wander off. We will need you to help seek out the thieves in a very short while.” Fuxi said nothing, while Devya led everyone back inside to the map on the table.
“I take it Fuxi saw us on the road,” Lockhart surmised.
Avi nodded. “We did not expect you to be the thieves, but we thought you might have seen them if they hurried to Bukhara before we noticed the amulet was missing.”
“About thirty men came here a week ago and camped below the city,” Devya explained. “They were not a typical migration group, being only men without women and children. that should have raised what you call red flags, but I have been preparing our people to receive migrants by the hundreds and thousands over the next few hundred years, so no one said anything.”
“Migrants?” Katie, the doctor in ancient and medieval history and technology asked.
Devya stopped moving and turned to face everyone to be sure she had all of their attention. She did not want to repeat herself. “Yes,” she said. “People are moving from the north, Siberia, from around the Caspian and Aral and the Tien Shan, They are moving from all around and north of the black sea. They are moving. Areas become over hunted, populations get too big, groups push against groups, people begin to discover agriculture and look for where the grass is greener.”
“People are still just discovering agriculture?” Lockhart asked with some surprise.
“Yes, hush,” Katie hushed him, and Devya continued.
“This place, from Samarkand to Merv and from Bukhara to the Khyber is green. The Monsoons off the Indian ocean have shifted to come up through Iran and we have benefited. Tens of thousands, and over the centuries, hundreds of thousands of people will come here, but most will not stay. History has called them the Indo-Irannian people, but they are really a very diverse people from many places. When the giants in Iran recede, many will move down into that land and become Medes and Persians, and others. Eventually, groups known as Indo-Aryans will move through the pass and invade the Indus, though it won’t be a conquest type invasion, more of a gradual takeover as the Indus dries and the Harappan people move down into the subcontinent. Climate change, you know. Eventually, the monsoons will shift back to the Indus and Iran will begin to dry, but that won’t happen for a long time.”
“So this is like the birthplace, like the womb for whole people groups and eventual great civilizations,” Katie said, with her eyes wide as if something just clicked in her thinking.
“Yes, but it will be a thousand years of blood if we cannot retrieve the amulet of peace and prosperity. It must cover the land, and especially the center point, here, in the city which is supposed to be sanctuary. Without it, we are doomed to war as these various groups fight for supremacy.”
“I can see that,” Decker said, and Lockhart, Katie, Elder Stow and Mingus all looked at him, wondering what was on his mind. Boston looked at the map on the table.
“Very good, sweetheart,” Devya responded briefly as she also looked at Dekcer
“They are,” Chuchi said. “But they are human made roads, not so good. Especially the crooked one that edges the mountains to Samarkand.” Chuchi pointed and smiled hard at Boston. “Mother calls it a short-cut, but in truth it takes almost as long as going around by way of Bukhara.” He leaned over to get closer to her face. “This road is easier to follow, but longer. It goes to Merv.”
Devya stepped between them. “No, my son,” she spoke to Chuchi. “She is an elf, and married.”
“Mother,” Chuchi protested, but the others smiled, except Mingus who appeared to be thinking hard. Lincoln and Alexis came in at that point and Lincoln had to ask.
“So what did I miss?”
You don’t have to miss anything. Be sure to return next Monday (Tuesday and Wednesday) for the conclusion of Avalon, episode 4.2 The Storm Overhead. The clouds are gathering as the travelers go in search of the missing amulet of peace and prosperity, and confront the thieves who stole it…