When the travelers packed, and the sun just touched the horizon, and a mist crept out of the forest and came up off the river, Vishnu and Varuna came to visit. Varuna went straight to the travelers, shook their hands and hugged Boston. “There will be peace,” he said. and they all said how happy they were for him.
Vishnu stayed aloof. He had met the travelers, in Zisudra’s day, but he had not had an occasion to get to know them properly, much less grow close to them. The travelers did not mind, and Padrama, who stopped long enough to say good-bye, had Mohini on his mind. Vishnu said he only came to see the woman. He said he liked the name Mohini, so she had one point in her favor already. He asked about her appearance. Pardama did not answer the god directly. Instead, he asked the travelers if they knew what the Kama Sutra was. When Katie said, surely it had not been written yet, Padrama declared that he was going to write it, with Mohini’s guidance.
“You’re nineteen, aren’t you?” Katie asked. When Padrama said yes, she said, “That explains it.” But she did not explain anything.
Padrama told them he did not plan on going anywhere for at least a week, so the time gate should remain in place for all that time. The travelers moved toward the setting sun, and for two days, they passed through villages and hamlets where they found the people warm and friendly. The locals were not at all like the crazy people they saw before the gods settled things.
“This is a wonderful land of mystery,” Katie said, pulling in deep breaths of fresh air.
“As long as we don’t get too close to the forest by the mountains,” Artie said.
“I was just thinking the same thing,” Boston spoke up, and Artie looked back at her and laughed, nervously.
Decker rode up, and the group stopped. “Trouble up ahead,” he reported. “I would guess the Aryans have broken out from the Indus, but some don’t seem to have gotten the word that this is a migration, not an invasion.”
They rode up close and spied from behind some trees. A group of thirty or forty men, looking like soldiers, were in the village, driving people into the streets, killing some at random, and burning the houses. Six men in three chariots kept back and watched. It looked like they did not want to get their hands dirty.
“We should do something,” Alexis insisted.
“Dare not,” Lockhart responded.
Boston noticed the symbol painted on the side of one chariot. She voiced her surprise. “It looks like the Nazis were Aryans after all.” She pointed. “A swastika.”
“Look again,” Katie said. “The swastika shows a man running to his right. That man is running to his left.”
“Man?” Boston said, and tilted her head to say, “Oh.”
Katie continued. “Hitler stole the symbol and the whole Aryan notion, but the photograph he saw printed it backwards, like a mirror image.” Katie shrugged.
“Trouble,” Decker said, as soon as they were seen. The chariots turned to face them and started toward them. Lockhart knew they could outride any infantry pursuit, but he was not sure about chariots. Some ground would be harder on wheels, but they might catch up on flat, level ground. He decided to talk first, but he pulled his shotgun while Katie pulled her rifle and the rest armed up. Decker, of course, never holstered his rifle.
“Hello friends,” Lockhart shouted. He had some lame idea about saying that he noticed they were busy and he did not mean to intrude, so they would just ride on, but before he said anything, a mean looking man with blue skin appeared between them and said, “No. I know what those weapons can do.”
The blue man glowed with his holy presence, and the travelers trembled. They had forgotten how awesome the gods could be. Most of the gods toned themselves down to almost nothing when they came around the travelers, but that was no guarantee they all would be so kind.
The chariots appeared back where they had been, like nothing happened, and the man said, “Go.” The travelers found themselves transported to a small clearing in some unknown woods. They startled a tiger. It roared. It found an arrow in its side. It fell, and would not be getting up again.
“Who did that?” Lockhart asked.
“Endangered species,” Alexis complained more softly.
A woman stepped out from the trees and smiled. She carried the bow, so everyone assumed she fired the arrow. “I am Mother Devi,” she said. “I wanted to meet you before you left.”
“Thank you for saving us from the tiger,” Boston spoke up, plenty loud, having been scared first by Shiva and then by a tiger.
“Yes, thanks,” Artie echoed.
“You are more than welcome little elf, or should I say, Little Fire. And you, too, ART with numbers. I feel for your people who only wish to be free. Curious. I cannot read what is on your minds very well at all.”
“The hedge of the gods,” Lincoln said. “Brahma and Varuna were among those who first set that up, I think.”
Devi nodded. She waved her hand over the tiger and a perfectly skinned tiger disappeared, while the skin floated in the air. “I think I will give this to Shiva for his disappointment in not having his great war. Call it compensation.”
“A consolation prize,” Decker joked. Devi laughed, but just a little.
“I don’t know,” Lockhart said. “He seemed pretty set on destroying something if you ask me.”
Devi smiled again. He makes at little plays, but it will not last. Soon enough he will be back to his meditation, and I understand he plans to teach his new son how to meditate. That should be interesting.”
“Hey!” Boston interrupted. “The time gate is right in front of us.”
Lockhart looked at Boston before he looked again at the beautiful goddess. “It is our habit to enter the next time zone first thing in the morning.”
Devi looked at the sky to judge the time. “Excellent. I wanted some time to talk to you women. I understand in the future you are liberated. Is that the right word?”
“Uh-oh,” Lincoln said quietly. In that moment, the sky opened-up, like the monsoon finally caught up to them. All the same, Lockhart said for everyone to get down and set up camp. He had the feeling it was going to be a long night.
Luckily, Devi sensed their distress and put up a dome of protection that stopped the rain from reaching them. Elder Stow, who had gotten out his screen device, put it away, and shrugged. Devi was still speaking.
“Thanks to Padrama, that brilliant young boy, I have been included in the first rank in this new place. It is a great and exciting privilege, but I have begun to think it is also a great responsibility. We need to talk.”
“There will be some things about the future we cannot tell you,” Alexis said.
“Agreed. There may be some things I also cannot tell you,” Devi said.
Katie stepped up and looked directly at Devi, before she followed her instinct and hugged the woman. “Congratulations, and welcome to the club.” She stepped back to see a small tear in Devi’s eye. Artie, who stayed on Katie’s elbow had a question.
“Do you know Anath-Rama? She is my goddess, and for my people.”
“I am sure she is a wonderful woman,” Devi said, with a genuine smile returned despite the speck in her eye. “She must be special to be goddess for such a lovely young woman.” That made Artie return the smile, and they were friends from that moment on.
The travelers find themselves in the Land of Goshen, which is to say, Egypt, where the mysteries run deep, and the daughters multiply. Enjoy the warmth in an otherwise cold December.