After 1526 BC, India, by the Ganges. Kairos 62: Padrama the Aryan
“Mohini.” The call echoed through the hills. It flowed down the river of life, like ripples on the surface of the water, and stopped behind the caller at the snow-covered peaks in the great beyond. The mountains guarded the land of the dead and the Golden City of the gods. Ravager, the demon servant of Shiva would not dare go there. His life would be forfeit. And Mohini would be lost. “Sasha.” The caller tried her other name, but he heard no response.
“Lord Padrama,” Raja got the lord’s attention as he got down from the chariot to check on the horses. “Your faithful steed, Buhto, is finished for the day. He cannot go further and live.”
Padrama did not want to stop, but he knew what his servant said was true. He got down from the chariot. “We will refresh here,” he said, while he loosened the harness on one side. He led the other horse, Tata, down to the riverbank to drink. The poor horse sweated, and breathed hard after its day of labor. Padrama wiped some of the sweat off the horse’s neck, and the horse nodded. “Tata. You would ride to the end of the earth if I asked, and never complain.” The horse appeared to nod again before it bent down to drink.
Padrama decided that might be a good idea. He knelt, cupped his hand and pulled up some water to sip, while his eyes looked up at the distant mountains. It looked like a heavy winter snow, and ice likely covered whatever passes might be there—places Padrama did not know, him being a stranger in the land.
Raja brought Buhto to drink, and Padrama spoke. “We will sleep here and watch Chandra rise, and rest under the many watchful eyes of Varuna.”
“I do not know these gods you speak of, though my heart says I should,” Raja responded. “Are these gods from the land your Princess comes from, or from this strange land we have entered into?”
“They are of this land,” Padrama said. “The Princess not only comes from a far-away land, but from far in the future; much farther than three generations, as you count time.”
“So you have said. But I do not understand.”
Padrama stood and reached out to that future. He traded places with that very Greek Princess, and the armor of the Kairos, which Padrama rarely took off, instantly adjusted to perfectly fit her shape and size. She pulled her bow and quiver of arrows from a pocket in Athena’s cape, and checked the ground beneath her feet for signs of passage.
The Princess smiled. “We hardly had time in the village to gather any food,” she said. She looked around. She was in Padrama’s time and place, so she shared Padrama’s thoughts, felt Padrama’s concerns, and her tongue naturally conformed to Padrama’s language, though Raja said she spoke with a strange accent. “I cannot believe we saw her there in Ravager’s clutches. She screamed for me, for Mikos, as he dragged her away. We got delayed by the crowd, but not by that much. I can’t believe he eluded us again.”
“Did we lose the trail?”
“No,” the Princess said. “I checked it personally, several times.” She put one arrow on the string and looked along the edge of the river for more signs of passage. “I cannot believe he has gone closer to the mountains. If the rocks, cliffs and crevasses don’t kill him, the snow, ice and wind certainly will.”
“Ravager is a man without a mind,” Raja said. “He is the worst sort of demon, to make war on a woman. But I believe he thinks Shiva will save him if he should get in trouble to lose his life.”
The Princess shook her head. “Shiva is not in the saving business,” she said, before she added, “Keep the camp and make a fire. I will see if there is something I can hunt for supper.” She started up along the riverbank, and Raja shouted after her.
“My pot is full, ready to boil the water. My pan will be ready and hot on the fire when you return.”
The Princess quickly got out of earshot, and just as quickly picked up the trail of the deer that had been to the river earlier to water. The small herd had moved on, a good half-hour into the wilderness, as the signs said. It took the Princess forty minutes to cover the exact same distance, and she fired her arrow, a perfect shot, even as the edge of the setting sun first touched the horizon.
The Princess dug out her arrow. It was one of her good ones, with a barbed, bronze point. She checked to be sure the shaft remained straight and un-cracked, before she cleaned it and slipped it back into her quiver in the pocket of her cape. She considered how best to carry back her prize when someone spoke.
“Food,” A little man spoke, and drooled, but just a little. “Pardon.” The man tipped his hat. “I haven’t had a bite to eat all day in this wilderness.”
“So, you ate before you came into this wilderness?” the Princess teased.
The man paused, startled. “Not what I meant.”
“Well, Bobo,” the Princess said, knowing the dwarf’s name, as was to be expected of the Kairos, god, or in this case, goddess of all the little spirits of the earth. “When I get this prize back to the camp, and Raja cooks it so he and I can eat our fill, I am sure you can enjoy what remains.”
“Yes, well, yes.” Bobo struggled, but could not find a way around what she said, even to twist the words more to his liking. Finally, he tried, “I might enjoy it if I ate with you, too.” The Princess shook her head, so he tried the next best thing. “But there is my wife, and family. They are hungry, too. And I figure you are such an expert with that bow of yours, you can surely find another, and maybe share this with a poor old man.” He tried the poor, pitiful face dwarfs and imps are so famous for.
The Princess calculated in her head how many mouths that would be. She saw another deer lazily grazing in the distance, not scared nearly far enough away after the death of this first one. She took her arrow back out, and hardly aimed. The arrow flew all that distance and struck the deer in just the right place. The deer stood for a very long second before it fell to its side, stiff-legged and stone dead.
“Holy Ganesh elephant farts,” Bobo swore, and whipped off his hat. “I’ve never seen shooting like that in my whole life, and I’ve lived for a very long time, let me tell you.”
“Artemis is my best friend in the whole world. Did I mention that.”
“No, bejeebers, you didn’t. That explains the some of it, maybe.”
The Princess put her fingers to her lips and whistled. Two boys as tall as the Princess’ five foot-seven appeared along with their mother, who looked like she had some ogre in her, and a little girl who looked to be working on the beginnings of a beard. The princess looked the boys over like they were prize hogs. She told one to pick up the deer at their feet, and told the other to follow her. The other looked back at his brother and father, and made a face, like he was the lucky one.
The boy the Princess left behind picked up the deer and asked, “So, do we run for it?”
“Not this time,” Bobo rubbed his chin. “I don’t think that would be wise at all.” He looked at his wife, but she was busy staring at the Princess and did not know what to say.
The little girl looked up at the both of them and announced, “I like her.”
The Princess leaned down to examine her arrow and felt a hand on her butt. She also felt the electrical discharge that picked up the boy and sent him six feet through the air, to land on his back, dazed and bruised. The Princess dug out her arrow, snapped off the cracked shaft, cleaned and kept the arrow head. She turned to the boy.
“Well, pick it up.” The boy moaned. “Come on,” she said. “The meat won’t keep all day and it will be dark soon.”
The boy opened his eyes wide, jumped up, mumbled something like “Yes, mum,” and put the deer on his shoulders. Then he hustled after the Princess, because she had already started walking back toward the others.
“Come,” she said, when she arrived at where the family stared at her. She did not stop walking, but they caught up soon enough. Bobo, with his quick, short steps, came up beside her, hat in hand, and asked a question.
“Are you one of those new gods I heard tell about?”
“Nope,” she said. “I’ve been around a long time.” Bobo walked before he came up with another guess.
“Are you an Olympian come over here to try and keep the peace?”
The Princess thought about that before she said, “Nope.”
“Well,” Bobo explained. “You said Artemis was your best friend and all.”
The Princess nodded. “But I won’t even be born for another thirteen-hundred-years or so.”
Bobo whistled. He had to think real hard, and the Princess did not want him to get a headache. She thought she would give him a clue, now that she reached a point where Padrama could find the camp on his own. She smiled, and traded places with the young man so he could return to his own time and stand in his own shoes, and the armor of the Kairos adjusted to fit him. Good thing, he thought. The Princess has about a twenty-two-inch waist. That would hurt.
The boys stumbled. Bobo gasped. His wife, Rinna, fainted. The little girl, Rita, took the change in stride and said, “Hello.”
“Hello,” Padrama answered. “I like you, too,” he smiled before he turned and shouted. “Don’t worry, Raja. It is just me, and I found some friends, and the wife knows how to cook.”
“Good thing,” Raja said, as they came into the camp and saw him holding Padrama’s spear and shield. “I’ve been hearing noises, like big cat noises. I don’t want the horses eaten by some lion.”
Padrama shook his head. “In this part of the world, it was probably a tiger.