Boston stared out of the gate at the distant enemy. “What are they waiting for?” she asked. Alexis raised her hand to shade her eyes, and was sorry she did not have good elf eyes. Elf eyes were far better than human eyes.
“What?” he responded in a surly voice.
“Can you see what they are doing?” Alexis asked, in her calming voice.
“Do I care what they are doing?”
Alexis stopped and turned on him. “You sound like Elder Stow.”
Katie stepped up and lowered her binoculars for a minute. “Lockhart has the wall,” she explained when the women turned to look at her. When they continued to look at her, she said something more. “Mingus claims he has one good daughter and one bad one. Sorry. Not my words. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.”
“It’s okay,” Alexis said. “I thought it was something like that.”
“I’m sorry,” Boston got weepy. “I would never want to get between you and your father.”
Alexis nodded and looked at her Father who was climbing to the top of the gate pillar. He certainly heard what they were saying with his good elf ears. “I understand, and Boston, it is not your fault if he wants to behave like a three-year-old. We only have to work together to get home in one piece. After that, he can take his fat body as far away from me as he wants.” She reached out and hugged Boston because Boston looked ready to cry. In the way of young little ones, Boston’s mood switched in a blink.
“He does look like he is putting on weight,” she said with a grin.
“Elf metabolism slows with too much meat protein. Most elves don’t eat so much meat, but we have been on the deer, deer, elk, deer diet, Atkins gone wild, you know,” Alexis said.
“I hope I don’t start putting on weight,” Boston said. “I just got elf skinny.”
“I wouldn’t worry. You are young. Your system can handle it.” Alexis said, and hugged Boston again, just to say she held no grudge against her.
“We got company,” Katie said and pointed to the gate. Three dwarves came in the gate, and men backed up to make room for them. They were armored after a fashion. One even had some chain over his leather. One dwarf had a sword and shield, one had a more traditional dwarf-like axe, and Pluckman, in front, carried a spear, but he had a shield on his back and a sword at his side.
Ulrik was right there to hear Pluckman speak. “Reporting for duty, sir.” Pluckman and the dwarves turned and offered a bow and words to Channa. “And the lady is looking lovely today.”
Channa turned her head to Boston, Alexis and Katie. “My Ulrik has the most interesting friends.” She turned to the dwarf. “Thank you Pluckman, you dear little thing.”
Alexis looked at Boston, and Boston spoke. “I feel it too,” she said and stepped up to speak to Channa. “You know; the little ones only pay that kind of attention to a person that their Lord has a special relationship with. In this case, I would say Ulrik loves you.”
Channa’s eyes got big and Boston almost caught a glimpse of the wedding dress in Channa’s mind as she grabbed Ulrik for a big, very sexy kiss. When Ulrik could breathe again, he turned first on Boston. “I wasn’t going to tell her that,” he said, before he turned on Pluckman. “You know what I said. This is not your fight.” He raised his voice, but by then a man appeared beside him, and the appearance of the man, more than Ulrik’s displeasure, made Boston humbly lower her head.
“No cheating,” the man said.
Men were still coming for Lincoln to direct. Lockhart and Decker were on the walls. Mingus was up the pillar, and Elder Stow was playing with some piece of equipment, but the women were right there, and it was Alexis who recognized the man first.
Katie spoke up. “I didn’t recognize you without your other half. Where is Assur?”
“I am not cheating,” Ulrik said. “I was just about to yell at the dwarves, if you waited a minute.” Marduk growled again, and Ulrik was afraid some of the men in the gate might die from fear. Channa hid her face in Ulrik’s chest when Ulrik traded places through time. He changed to Doctor Mishka and she clothed herself in the armor and weapons of the Kairos. She had something more direct to say to Marduk.
“Sit. Keep your thoughts to yourself, and tone down the awesome nature. You are scaring the men.” Marduk sat and quieted, and he did so without question. Mishka went away so Ulrik could come back. He kept the armor and weapons. “Man that gate,” he yelled at the men, and the men turned away from him and toward the enemy, except for the three that ran away.
A light showed up on the other side of the field. It was a fireball some six feet across, and it headed straight toward the gate. People panicked. There was no time to do anything. But all at once, the fireball stopped. It spread out and dissipated twenty yards out. Elder Stow stepped up.
“Setting a single sided screen like a wall is difficult on equipment not designed for that purpose,” he said.
Boston had something else in mind. “Dwarves, hold on.” They grabbed each other and Pluckman grabbed Boston’s leg, and grinned, but stayed good. “Alexis, I need your wind to get there.” Alexis looked reluctant, but took Boston’s hand. Boston’s other hand held her wand, and an equally large fireball started out across the field. One small fireball came from Mingus up on the pillar and blended into the large fire that raced across the field. The Gutians had no screen and were not prepared for return fire. When the fireball reached their line, they were running away. It struck and exploded, a far more devastating fire than just fire alone.
“Good,” a woman said. No one knew where she came from, or who she was, but the travelers at least had the same sort of feeling they got when any of the gods showed up. No telling what the men in the gate felt.
The woman stopped to bow briefly to Marduk. “King,” she said. She stepped to King Belusis and said, “Not my king.” She moved on to Channa who appeared to be frozen, awe struck, and she took Channa by the chin and gave a good looking over. “Princess,” she said, before she threw her hands up. “My gate?”
“Everyone who comes in and out of the city will think of you,” Ulrik said, even as the travelers were figuring out that this was Ishtar.
The woman raced up and grabbed Ulrik by the chin. She stared at him and into his eyes, which made him flinch. It always did. “Not my son,” she said, and let him go.
“Not my mother,” he responded, and the woman almost smiled.
“No,” she said before anyone else could say a thing. “No temple. No help.”
“Okay,” Ulrik threw his hands down, and Channa grabbed one hand. She appeared to need the support. “Yours will be the next temple built, I promise.”
“Okay,” she repeated the word, and threw something over her shoulder. It was a fireball, but much larger than the first two, being a hundred feet in diameter. When it hit, the explosion shook the ground. The woman pointed at Channa and Ulrik, holding hands. “You marry. No more discussion.” She pointed briefly at King Belusis before she finished. “Make new temple, good one. I tell witch, go to another city. Not Nippur. Maybe I send her.” The woman vanished in front of everyone. Only a few men made sounds of shock.
“Marduk,” Ulrik waved the god to come over, and he did. “So you get to be king of the gods of Babylon, gateway of the gods.”
“I am not going to argue with Ishtar,” Marduk said.
“You mean not his mother,” Katie suggested.
“Does that mean there isn’t going to be a fight? Pluckman asked, and sounded sincerely unhappy.
Channa stared at Ulrik and thought wicked thoughts. “We can marry tonight,” she said.
“No!” both Ulrik and King Belusis shouted at the same time. The king stepped up.
“So, the next temple we build will be for Ishtar, goddess of love and war,” Ulrik said.
The king nodded. “And without delay,” he agreed.
“Hold that thought,” Ulrik responded as another woman appeared. This one pushed out of her dress in several places, and was not at all embarrassed by it. She marched up to Urlik, butted between him and Channa, and locked her lips to his. Ulrik pulled back as soon as he was able, but the woman did not let him go.
“Some of my Amonites are coming here,” she said in her low and sexy voice. “I guess that means you need to build a temple for me, too.”
Ulrik frowned. “Turn around,” he said. The woman raised an eyebrow, but Urlik insisted. She turned, slowly, and looked back until she was completely turned. He whacked her hard enough on her butt to leave a burn mark. She squealed and spun quickly around, but by then Ulrik had Channa in his arms.
“Do that again,” the woman said with a mighty grin.
Ulrik rolled his eyes. “Now, what would your husband say?” he asked.
“Oh, putz,” the woman said and vanished.
“Hebat,” the man in the strange clothes was there. He named the goddess and he had a few tears. He fell to his knees and declared, “Truly Babylon is the home of the gods and Belusis will be our king too.”
“So it is agreed,” the king said, not about to miss the opportunity, besides, Ulrik was busy kissing his wife-to-be.