“Avi, sweetheart,” Devya said as she kissed him. “Please gather Archamenis’ things and horses and bring them back to sanctuary. I must fly. It is the only way to end the bloodshed.” She pointed in the direction of the city of Sanctuary, and up to where the Nuwa dragon was already speeding off.
“Can’t one of the gods help, like Junior, Danna, or Nameless?” Katie asked.
Devya shook her head. “I’m surprised you didn’t mention Mikos’ female reflection, Amphitrite, but no. With the amulet, even the gods are limited in what damage they can do. So is the djin, which I am sure is why he wanted it out of the city. He had to have told Archamenis about it and got him to steal it. Now, I have to return it, and hopefully before Nuwa and Fuxi dragons turn the city to rubble and ash fighting off the djin.”
“She can do many things,” Avi said. “She explained to me in the night. She told me you met Zisudra, her reflection, when he was at the end of his journey, bringing the last of the people into the Indus, my ancestors. What you did not know is the people had been slowly moving down to the river valley for fifty years or more. Devi said the Scythian-like people tried to overrun the land, but since Zisudra was a baby, the little ones stopped them on their own. Then the Elamites thought to make them slaves, so they finished the migration, as you saw.”
“And how did the little ones stop the wild Scythians?” Lincoln asked. He was listening, but also helping to pack things, so he did not have the database out to read all about it.
“Ah! There is the rub, as Devi says. They stopped the Scythians in their beds. You know this is forbidden to the little ones. But by the time Zisudra found out, there were thirty-year-old half breeds with bunches of quarter breed children running all over the place. He got angry. Apparently he cursed them, that they should never have a home or settle and be satisfied on this earth as long as there was little one blood in them.”
“Gypsies. But I think not Romani, though maybe related.” Avi really did not know. “Anyway. The gods were not about to let him get away with having these breeds wandering all through their territories, so they made Zisudra a lesser god for the gypsies and saddled him with watching over them forever. Poor Devi has cried in the night for how stupid she, or rather, he was. The curse has been overcome at times and in places, but it remains.” Avi shook his head. “Anyway,” he said again. “Since Devi is what she calls Zisudra’s gin-tetic reflection.”
“Genetic,” Decker interrupted.
“Exactly, so she reflects in a small way what was given to him. She cannot move in an instant from here to there like a god or lesser god, but she can do many things that no ordinary person can do.”
“Like fly,” Lockhart said, and looked, so they all paused to look in the direction of the storm over Sanctuary.
Alexis gripped her wand as Boston tried out her Beretta. Boston got off three shots, and may have hit someone before the gun just went click, click. She got out her wand, and they waited for the Afridi to attack down both roads leading to the palace on that side of town.
Mingus gripped the shoulders of his daughters to give them his magic. Alexis sent a hurricane force wind out which drove back the Afridi and picked several right off the ground. Boston released something more like a flamethrower from the end of her wand, and with Mingus’ help, his strength being in fire magic, it was strong enough to shoot through the rain. The Afridi retreated, and some had to be put out.
Boston’s fire ended too soon. She had in mind to spark a few behinds of the fleeing men, but her flame gave out, like she was suddenly out of power. Alexis’ wind quit at almost the same time, and she looked up at the cloud and frowned. The djin laughed again
“Bows,” Mingus said and turned to the old man. Boston had hers out already, and had that quiver of never ending arrows to draw on, if she ever hit anything. Alexis got hers, but protested, and vowed not to hit anything unless she could not help it. Mingus held his ready and talked to the men. “Give the bows to the best archers. The rest of you get ready with spears, and spread yourselves evenly down the line.” The old man made sure that happened, not about to argue after that display of magic and power. Boston and Mingus still looked human enough, but more than one servant and guardsman wondered.
One woman let out a soft wail as they waited. Another put a hand to her own mouth to still her chattering teeth. More than one man had his eyes closed in prayer. They expected to hear the shouts and screams of the enemy any moment, but it never came. Fuxi dragon landed in the courtyard, and his flame was much larger and more devastating than Boston could imagine. They heard screams, but it was not men attacking.
Then they heard screams from the side of the building. Apparently some men had circled around to the stables and intended to get at the defenders from an unexpected direction, but the Nuwa dragon landed there and only a half dozen managed to get inside in time. They had bows and swords, and Nuwa and Fuxi got busy above.
The sky erupted in lighting and fire. There were roars and high pitched squeals, the latter from the djin. The big room shook, and a small section of the ceiling collapsed. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the people all got down and covered their heads. The Afridi also dared not move out of the doorway.
It was not long before the djin had enough. He raced off to the east toward the next time gate, and he took the rain with him. Everyone breathed, until they remembered the Afridi in the room. Those men did not look happy, and they looked determined to take some blood.
The Afridi drew their bows and swords. Only Boston drew hers faster, but her aim was not so good. It turned out not to be necessary. Two men, looking for all the world like Bluebloods, appeared in front of her. With three arrows each, shot faster than the eye could follow, they killed all six Afridi with six perfect shots.
“Enough brother. That is all,” One of the blue men turned toward the other as Devya came in a side door. She stepped up to the center post that held up the ceiling and clicked her tongue at the portion of the ceiling that had collapsed. She flew, to Boston’s gasp, and paused near the very top where she hung the amulet taken from around her neck. As she came to the ground, the first blue man continued a thought for Alexis.
“You see, Alexis, sometimes preserving and defending go along with destroying in this sad world.”
“It is a sad world,” Alexis agreed with that much and offered a bow.
“I do not like that amulet of yours,” the other blue man turned on Devya.
“I understand,” Devya offered her own bow to the man. “But Lord Shiva, have I not taught the Afridi to kill as the world kills? Have I not sent them to the Khyber able to work your work?”
“And my Lord Rama Vishnu, how may we serve you?” Devya offered a bow to the other blue man.
“You know I love the name Devya.”
“Not in this lifetime,” she responded with a soft, loving voice.
Visnu shook his finger at her. “I cannot read your heart and mind. Such future things as you know are forbidden even to the gods, but I cannot help but live in hope. I will take a wife and I will call her Devi.”
“Indeed you may,” Devya said. “Who can deny the will of the gods?”
“Ha!” Vishnu and Brahma said the word at the same time as Vishnu vanished and Brahma appeared.
“Quite an adventure,” Brahma said to everyone present.
“Adventures with dead bodies are not my desire,” Devya said and Alexis nodded.
“Perhaps I could take these Afridi and teach them something other than fighting,” Brahma suggested.
Brahma needed no further invitation. He raised one hand and the entire group with their horses and ponies and all of Archamenis’ things appeared in the outside court. Katie, Lockhart and Elder Stow appeared in the big room.
“You would tell her?” Brahma said.
Devya looked at the god and paused before she turned to Katie. “Brahma has agreed to teach the Afridi different things, root things.”
“The Brahmins?” Katie blurted out.
“My own people?” Brahama sounded surprised.
Devya frowned. “And you better take care of them,” she said.
Brahma nodded. “It was wise to make your knowledge of the future inaccessible to the gods. And it was wise to put a hedge around your friends from the future to keep that same knowledge hidden. There are no doubt things that would be better not to be known by the gods.” He vanished, and Devya wondered what it would take to get her people up off the floor.
“Oh dear,” Katie said with a quick look at Lockhart. “How can we dare talk without revealing things best left unsaid.”
“Actually,” Devya said, as Lincoln, Decker and Avi came in. “When we talk and when you talk among yourselves, future and worldly things are bleeped out, by design of the gods themselves. As long as you don’t talk in front of the gods, they cannot hear you.”
Devya nodded. “And Avestan Magi in Archamenis’ direction. But it is still way early. Nothing will be settled for a couple of hundred years, and then it will be a long, slow, grinding process to make what history knows. Meanwhile, who wants to help me fix the roof?”
Katie looked at Lockhart. She did not want to be scolded again. Alexis looked at her father Mingus and turned her back on him by walking into Lincoln’s arms. Mingus folded his arms across his chest and frowned. Elder Stow appeared to step away from the lot of them and took a seat. He seemed to be scowling, and did not change his scowl when Decker went to sit with him. Boston, empathic elf that she was, wanted to cry for all the tension in the room. She had to say something.
“Well, at least it stopped raining.”