No one found any sign of orcs over the next week and a half. No one found any spiders or ghouls either, so overall things were fairly quiet, if one did not count midterms.
Gertrude Pennyfeather from Boston, an elderly elect who was rich beyond reason, sent Lisa enough spare change to buy a whole new house. Lisa accepted the help toward the hotel stays and for the repair of her house, but returned the rest. Ms Pennyfeather sent it right back with a note saying, use it to help those youngsters, that college girl and the little black girl. Emily was grateful. Latasha and her mother were astounded. Now Latasha had the money for college so she had to get good grades.
Courtney Chase, Channel 5, Eyewitness News caught up with Lisa at her house. Lisa told Courtney they had to fight off alien monsters or maybe they were remodeling, the latter of which sounded reasonable by comparison. It didn’t make the evening news despite the social media imagination of the guy at the pizza place.
Sara got a room in the campus center for a small celebration, Thursday night after midterms. The whole tribe gathered, Greta and Hilde being fully healed by then, thanks mostly to Maria. When Emily arrived last, her first words were, “Where are the boys?”
“Brinkman already left for spring break,” Jessica shouted across the room.
“Bill is still trying to figure out how the archives got fixed so perfectly,’ Mindy mumbled. “And so am I.”
“I didn’t know we could invite guys,” Diane said.
“I left Paul to a night of legal briefs,” Sara admitted.
Amina took Emily’s arm and spoke softly. “Melissa and Robert broke up.”
“Oh?” Emily offered her sympathy through her eyes, but Melissa seemed okay with it.
“I was never a fan of girls night out,” Maria said.
“People.” Sara raised her voice and tapped her shepherd’s crook against the table to get everyone’s attention. “Before we all go wild on orange soda; I could use your help.” That was unexpected.
“Priestess?” Amina took her proper seat at the table and everyone slowly followed. Emily was last again as she had to pace before she took the seat at the table head.
No one asked, “What is the matter?” They all waited patiently until Sara spoke. Sara only hesitated, not because it was unimportant, but because she knew it would take the rest of the night. She took a deep breath and looked down at the table. “It’s just, I never killed anyone before.” It turned out she was not the only one struggling with that problem.
Jessica started with the hard line. “Orcs are not people.” But they ended with the understanding that orcs were people of a sort, or at least they were before they went into rebellion. Jessica cried a little.
“But it all happened so fast,” Natasha said. “There wasn’t time to think.”
“It was kill or be killed,” Hilde added and touched the place where her leg was cut. But with that, Sara pointed out that they did have a choice and they all chose to live.
“It wasn’t like the rifles,” Diane said, referring to the orcs they faced on the parade ground. “That was different, somehow.”
After a long conversation in which Sara offered most of the comfort and counseling, Sara spoke her own thoughts again. “The thing is, I feel we have all been in denial. We need to reach the point of acceptance to move forward.”
“Like grief,” Greta said. She was the psychology major and everyone nodded.
“The thing is,” Emily spoke at last. “This thing isn’t over. We need to know that we can count on each other to do what must be done.”
The women looked at each other, and Jessica spoke first. “I’m still in,” she said and placed her hands flat on the table.
“And me,” Maria added her hands, and the others all followed.
“We still have apples to find and a scroll with the recipe,” Amina said.
“And a mystery to solve,” Melissa added in her quiet voice.
Sara tapped her nails. “And Lord help us find and stop whoever it is before they succeed in making Ambrosia.”
Everyone agreed as they heard a voice from the end of the table facing Emily and wondered how long the young woman had been sitting there. “I don’t understand why you did not ask for our help.” The young woman pushed her glasses up, and Maria mirrored the movement. Emily countered by running her hand through her hair.
“Riverbend. Because this is not your job. Zoe did not ask you to do this. She asked me and these women through me. We are supposed to be Amazons like of old, and that means we have to defend our place and our people from night creatures, orcs, or wicked men and women or whoever might want to steal, kill and destroy.” Emily stood, her face red with emotion. She was silent for a moment before she softened her tone. “Besides, what would I tell David if I got you killed. Seriously, this is our job. It wouldn’t be right to ask for your help every time we got in a tight spot.”
“Oh,” Riverbend let her voice fall silent and she looked down at her hands and worried her fingers. Sara had to ask.
“What is it?”
Riverbend looked at the Sara and spoke into the eyes of the priestess with utter honesty. “Because I need to ask for your help.”
Emily stood. Everyone waited. She asked Riverbend to stand. When Riverbend got up and a look of uncertainty crossed her face, Emily spoke. “You need to show yourself, the way you really look.”
Riverbend hesitated and played with her glasses.
“Sister, everyone needs to know what you are asking.”
Riverbend smiled on the word sister, and consented. Her glamour vanished and she stood, an unmistakable elf. People gasped. They had seen her with their own eyes in the gymnasium first semester, but that was a very brief encounter. Emily had told them about her protector over Christmas break. They had even seen her emerge from the bright light in the archives, but she came as a human, and the mind can play tricks and tell itself lies. Elves were something out of fantasies and fairy tales. They were not real. Yet, here she was. It was Sara who stood at last, and stuck out her hand.
“Captain Riverbend. Wonderful to meet you at last.”
Riverbend grinned and shook the hand but looked at Emily as she spoke. “And I did not even start it this time.” Then the room filled with so many questions and comments, Emily had to shout for silence and quiet everyone to ask her own question.
“What do you need us for?”
Riverbend put on her serious face. “To come with me to Avalon. There are men who are trapped there now that you have closed the door. I need your help to fetch them.”
“Your troop?” Emily asked.
“A dozen are ready, but Commander Falcon will not allow more, and only women. Right now things are quiet, and his spies watch the orcs, but he will not provoke them to war.”
“I assume the men are behind enemy lines,” Jessica spoke up.
“And how many orcs are there?” Maria wondered.
Emily nodded, and looked around the table as every eye shifted to her. “Some of you have plans for spring break. This is above and beyond the call of duty, and I won’t think less of you if you don’t come.”
“Shut-up,” Jessica said. “I’m spending spring break on Avalon.” She turned to Riverbend. “So where is Avalon, exactly?”
Next Monday, The Elect II-18, Spring Break will take Emily and her Amazon tribe for a wild ride into the jaws of danger. Don’t miss it, and Happy Reading