“Be good,” Hathor turned to the travelers. “Live long and prosper,” she grinned that time and vanished.
“Hey, that’s my line,” Sinuhe said.
“No it isn’t. That is Spock’s line,” Lincoln objected.
“Cheater,” Lockhart took a breath and offered his opinion. Katie nodded like she agreed, and then went for more of that kissing stuff.
“All right,” Sinuhe started, but Lincoln interrupted.
“What did she mean about the way the gods keep secrets?” he looked like he was still coming out of a fog. “Was she talking about Heba—.” He found his mouth covered by both Alexis and Sinuhe.
“Yes,” Sinuhe said. “And given the way the gods keep secrets; I expect her to show up any second.”
“I’m so sorry,” Alexis said to Sinuhe as she turned to Boston and hugged her. Mingus was still on the floor, crying. Elder Stow moved to comfort the girl, but he was not a hugger.
“All right…” Sinuhe started again, but this time Hellel interrupted.
“Why is she crying?” Hellel pointed at Boston. “The goddess loved on her. I’m the one who got threatened.”
“Hathor reminded her of when she married,” Sinuhe explained. “She got married in Egypt, but there was an accident, and she lost her new husband. We think he made it home ahead of her. We hope he will be there when we get home. That is the hope we are going on.”
“But you said you had three more years to get home. When did she marry?”
“About four hundred and fifty years ago,” Sinuhe said. “That is just an estimate. About three months ago, travel time.”
Hellel did not know what to say about that. Gabrall looked up from his place even as Lockhart and Katie took a breath and went to join in comforting Boston.
“Gabrall,” Sinuhe caught his attention. He got the man to take charge of getting the army started on the clean sweep project. They had to get every shovel, broom and bucket for water they could find. Fortunately, the sea was full of water.
Just as that was settled and Zagurt and the king were beginning to stir, and it looked like Hellel was ready to get off her chair and find out more about a four hundred and fifty-year-old bride, there was a flash of light and Hebat arrived wearing a yellow sundress and big round sunglasses. She marched up to Sinuhe and planted her lips on his, and he kissed her back.
After a while, they parted, and Hebat had the biggest, silliest grin on her face. “My Egyptian,” she said. Hellel found some courage.
“Hey. That’s my husband,” she protested.
Hebat turned and lowered her glasses to glare at the princess. “So? You don’t love him. My man is starving for love.” She turned back to Sinuhe and kissed him again, and this time he reached down and squeezed her bum. She purred, and Hellel couldn’t say anything but, “Hey!”
“I am a married man, alas,” Sinuhe finally said. “And you are a married woman.”
“You should go.”
Hebat pouted, but did not argue. She turned to strut in front of Hellel and caught movement out of the corner of her eye. She shrieked a happy shriek and vanished just before Sinuhe could whack her bottom. Hellel’s comment was interesting.
“Gee, you never whacked my bottom.”
The travelers all agreed it would be wise to move on the following morning. As Sinuhe explained, “The wrath of the gods is unforgettable. Even the mild annoyance of the gods leaves an impression, but you know how memory works. The mind twists the message very quickly. Often, the message is not clear, filtered through that anger. But even when it is clear, it does not take long before the person is doing the very thing the god warned them not to do, and they will swear they are following the will of the gods.”
“Basically you are saying the king is going to change his mind,” Lockhart summarized.
“I don’t think it will take long,” Sinuhe nodded.
Decker added a thought. “The human race is a poor excuse for…the human race.” He rode out to the wing.
“My pleasure,” Sinuhe said and waved.
“I am sure,” Mingus mumbled, and Boston giggled.
The travelers moved three days down from the hills toward Galilee, and stopped on the third afternoon. An army was coming up the valley.
“Pluckman, can you tell whose army that is?” Lockhart asked. Pluckman stared at the man, slack jawed.
“You are asking a dwarf to tell the difference between one set of humans and another/” Katie scoffed and put down her binoculars. “Besides, how many armies do you expect to find traveling in this wilderness?”
The others waited while Lockhart and Katie walked their horses forward. Pluckman and a half-dozen heavily armed dwarfs went with them. Decker and Elder Stow stayed out on the flanks where they appeared to be out of range from enemy slings and arrows, but were well within range of the weapons they carried. They each had their own little troop of dwarfs that clung to them like bugs on a windshield.
Lockhart and Katie did not have to wait long before the army ground to a halt and a dozen men jogged out to face them. Lockhart spoke before they got too close.
“I have a message from Lord Sinuhe, general of King Enshi. He says you better hurry up. The Syrians are two days ahead of you, and you know how the Syrians can be. They will try to sneak in and take your prize if you don’t get there first.”
“We have many friends,” Katie said.
“But why would the king’s general send us this word?” a second man asked.
“Because he knows you Canaanites and the city people have much in common where the Syrians are a strange and unnatural people of foreign gods who should be driven back to where they came from.”
“And you?” The man framed his thoughts, but Lockhart cut him off with his hand like a traffic cop.
“No, we have other business to attend to. We have delivered the message for our friends, but we are going to the inland sea. What you do with the words we have given you is up to you.”
The man nodded as Lockhart and Katie turned their horses and went back to the group. The dwarfs disappeared, but they growled, an effective sound for the Canaanites, no doubt, but it almost ruined everything as Katie and Lockhart tried not to laugh.
The Canaanites went back to their army to begin moving again. The travelers and their dwarf escort passed them from up on the ridge. Whether the Canaanites hurried from that point or not, Katie and Lockhart never knew.
“So I don’t get it,” Alexis said when they finally settled down for the night.
Lockhart answered her. “The way Sinuhe explained it, there are natural prejudices that he can stoke to a nice little flame. He hopes, if he plays his card right, the Syrians and Canaanintes will fight each other and leave the city alone, or at least be so diminished at the end, he and his little army should be able to handle them.”
“Tricky, and mean,” Alexis said.
“And very hard to pull off,” Decker said.
Pluckman yelled “Food,” and the campfire became a madhouse where no one could talk. Katie had to shout her question at Lockhart.
“I wonder how it will turn out.” Lockhart could only shrug as the music and dancing started that would go on passed midnight.