Avalon 5.1 Sirens Are for Emergencies, part 2 of 6

The travelers fixed their fairy weave, as well as they could, into local-looking clothes, with only three shepherds to judge by.  They had to guess, especially the women, until they saw some examples.  Nothing they could do would hide their big mustangs, but along with roads, or glorified paths, horses were becoming more common. Granted, they were not the relatively big horses the travelers rode, the result of millennia of cross-breeding, but they were horses, or mules all the same.  They also could do nothing to hide their equipment, especially their saddles.  Lockhart figured he would ask Amphitrite about that when and if they found her.  He knew the chief work of the Kairos was to keep history on track, and something like saddles, not to mention stirrups, could throw everything out of whack.

The rain started when they came to the edge of the village and eyes went everywhere to take in the sights.  Decker looked for potential trouble.  Katie also looked for something amiss. She sensed trouble ahead, though not necessarily danger to the group.  Elder Stow rolled his eyes at the silly homo sapiens.  Lincoln paid attention to his wife, as Alexis pointed out one thing or another.  Artie listened to Alexis some, but looked thrilled with all the human activity and human ingenuity.  Lockhart noticed the ships in the dock.

Men were drawing several ships up on shore to protect them if the storm got bad.  All the local eyes turned toward the sky now and then, as people moved to get out of the rain.  Women scurried across their path, and men ran down the street.  It seemed impossible to find one who might stand still long enough to ask a question.

Lockhart noticed the simple fishing ships at the dock looked as primitive as he had seen in a while.  It appeared the Mycenaeans were not great sailors at this point in history.  That was what made the bigger ship anchored out from the shore stand out, and he thought to interrupt Alexis to ask Lincoln a question.

“The big ship.  It is Akoshian or whatever you call it?”

Lincoln looked.  “Most likely.  A trader in the village.”

“Minoan,” Katie translated the term into her own understanding.  “We will probably find them at the common house, if these villagers have a common house of some kind.”

“We could ask,” Decker said, as he carefully eyed the ship.  “If anyone would stop long enough.”

“Excuse me.”  Katie reached out, but only the third woman, a young one less bothered by the rain, paused. “Is there a common house in this village?”

The young woman thought about what she was being asked, then pointed.  “There is the meeting hall.  You will find the Akoshian lord there with his crew, if that is who you are looking for.”

Katie nodded, said thanks, and led the rest to the lumber built hall.  All Lincoln could say was, “It doesn’t look very Greek.”

“Lockhart.”  Katie only had to say his name and his attention became all hers.  Everyone else looked as well. Katie deliberately spoke in English so no one who overheard would know what she was saying.  “I do not have a good feeling about this.  I don’t sense danger to us…or our horses, but I think we need to be careful.  That feeling could change.”

“Understood,” Lockhart said, and looked at Boston while Katie explained for Artie and Decker translated Katie’s comment into Gott-Druk for Elder Stow, only to remember he kept a translation device in his ear.

Boston shrugged.  “I sense no danger, except in being surrounded by so many strange human, which will make me paranoid if I dwell on it, so I would rather not think about it.”  She shrugged again.

The travelers found places to tie off their horses under an inadequate overhang, not that the horses would wander off, even if it wasn’t raining.  Boston and Alexis felt sorry for the horses, to have to be out in it.  The rain changed from light to steady, and it did not look like it would get better any time soon.  Lincoln said it was three in the afternoon, but it looked as dark as a late evening.

Lockhart stepped up to the meeting room door and paused as the door opened.  A young man looked ready to come out, but he stopped and took several steps back in the face of the giant.  Lockhart ducked his head a bit and came in.  He spoke in his friendly voice.  “Hello. At least it is dry in here.” No one responded as they watched seven more people fill the room before that young man ran out into the rain.  Alexis brought her satchel that doubled for a handbag.  It was filled with elf bread crackers, if they had nothing else to eat.  Decker carried his rifle in his arms like a baby.  The rest just dripped.

“Welcome strangers,” a fat old man finally spoke.  A young and a middle-aged man made room on the benches that ran around the inside walls.  Boston watched a mother and daughter stick their heads out from what was likely a kitchen area.  They appeared to have a fire burning in a fireplace that was not well designed, because it let an annoying amount of smoke back into the room.  Katie, Artie, and Alexis went to the fire all the same.  They dropped their slickers on the end of the bench while Lincoln sat and pulled the database out from a pocket he made in his fairy weave.  The rest of the travelers paused to look around.  There were already nine men in the room.  Eight sat around a long table and stared at the strangers.  They looked like sailors, or perhaps pirates, and they drank some brown colored swill that was probably some form of beer.  The ninth man sat by himself, and watched them.  He was covered in a long cloak with a hood that mostly hid his face.

Boston nudged Lockhart and whispered with a nod of her head in the man’s direction.  “Assassin’s Creed?”

Lockhart shook his head.  “Aragorn.  Lord of the Rings, only we are not hobbits.”

Boston nodded and grinned as Lockhart got busy, with Elder Stow’s help, and the young and middle-aged workers on the other end.  They brought out a table and some more chairs.  Decker sat where he could keep an eye on the pirates. The others eventually joined him at the table, and the old man brought a bowl filled with the same musky drink the pirates drank, and another eight hand sized bowls, a few of which looked like they were hastily cleaned, or at least wiped out.

“We shall see if the giants can hold their wine,” one of the pirates finally spoke.

“Is that what it is?” Lockhart looked uncertain.  He picked some up in a bowl, tried not to get the dregs floating in it, and sipped.  He could taste something like grape.  He was not too sure what else.  He felt certain it had plenty of alcohol content.

“Now Lockhart, I am sure it is his best,” Alexis said.

“Maybe we can offer some bread in return,” Katie suggested.

Alexis got the old man’s attention.  “Is there any way we can get some hot water?”

“Water?” the man looked up at the ceiling, like he feared the roof might leak at any moment.  “I am sorry. The copper pot is filed with fish stew.  It will be ready soon.”

“Never mind,” Katie said.  “I’ll get your pot,” she told Alexis, and stepped outside.

The pirates, who had been whispering, watched her leave before one spoke.  “Hey, giant,” the man spoke the local tongue imperfectly.  “Lord Andipas wishes to know if you are big everywhere.”

Lockhart turned his back on the man.  After a while the man spoke again.

“Hey, African giant. Lord Andipas wishes to know where you got your clothes.  He says he has sail to Africa and never see clothes like you got.”

“They are magic clothes made to kill pirates,” Decker said.  The sailors laughed, but Lockhart looked at Decker and imagined Decker might be thinking like he was thinking.  He leaned forward and spoke in English since Katie reminded him he still had his native tongue in the back of his mind.

“Any of you ever see the Magnificent Seven?”

Katie came back in, a pot in her hand, and there was a brief interruption to get some water to put on the fireplace fire.  When she sat, Lincoln reminded them of where they were.

“Magnificent Seven.”

Alexis, Decker and Katie all nodded, and paid attention to the English as Lockhart spoke.  “Well, I get the impression Lord Andipas is Calveras in disguise.”

“Too bad we are eight,” Lincoln responded.

Several heads nodded, to one or the other comment, while several watched the pirates and how they looked at the pot.  “When you make the bread, their eyes will get extra big,” Boston said.

“That is what I am afraid of,” Lockhart said.

The sailor man spoke again.  “Hey people.  My mate says there will be a real blow tonight.  Lord Andipas says Poseidon must really be beating his wife, badly.”

The ninth man, the one at his own table, stood suddenly and reached for a knife; one to cut meat, not a good weapon.

“Sit, sit,” the pirate said.  “Lord Andipas asks what ails the priest.”

The man spoke in a good, strong voice. “Our lady of the sea does not suffer men who beat women.”

“Lord Andipas begs your pardon, priest.  His wife is a man so he does not know.”

“Our lady of the sea?” Alexis turned to ask.

“Amphitrite.” the man said.

Lincoln looked up from the database.  “Oh, is she here?  I have to ask her something.”

“No, hush,” the others whispered and Lincoln shut his mouth.  The two workers brought in the fish stew, and everyone tried to cover up what Lincoln said, but the sailors all heard and laughed.

Lord Andipas finally spoke for himself.  “She is here, Amphitrite, in the air and in the storm.  She is in the fish stew with her fishies, and I eat her.”  he took a big swallow.  The priest would have responded again, but Boston arrived with a loaf of bread.  Alexis had gotten out some elf crackers, and with warm water, they grew instantly into hot, steaming loaves of bread, just the thing on a rainy evening.

“Ignore the fools,” Boston said, wisely, as she set the bread down.  “Maybe they will fool themselves into real, serious trouble one day.”  She grinned her best grin and returned to her own table.

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