The women removed their helmets when they arrived, and the lead woman turned out to be a startlingly beautiful blue-eyed blonde; not at all what they expected in Gaza. She spoke in a voice that made them pay attention.
“I am Hildr. My companions are Kara and Hirst.” Kara had more of the brown hair, brown-eyed look they expected this close to the Saini, but her hair came out wild, and full of curls. Hirst had black hair, witch’s hair, hair the color of midnight; and she had the black eyes to match. Hildr continued. “Lady Eir sent us to fetch you. Lord Valdir is expecting you.”
“Nameless,” Lincoln clarified. Lockhart went to introduce his companions, but Hildr interrupted.
“We know who you are.” She turned her horse and began to walk out front, while Kara and Hirst flanked the procession.
“Gee,” Lincoln joked. “You might as well have been Harriet Jones, Prime Minister.”
“Who is that?” Lockhart asked.
“Just a character from a science fiction television show.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Lockhart said. “I don’t watch science fiction and fantasy. I much prefer realistic shows.”
Behind him, Katie had to ask. “You are Valkyrie?”
“That is what we have been called,” Hirst said. “We collect the valiant that have fallen in battle. Those who belong to Vanheim go to the warrior’s field of Lady Frya. Those who belong to Aesgard, we take to Lord Odin’s hall of Valhalla. Thus, has our Lord Valdir instructed us.”
“I thought you worked for Odin,” Boston interrupted.
“All work for Odin,” Kara said, as if that should have been obvious. “But the Alfadur himself decreed that the Nameless god is for us. Nameless says we are to watch him as much as he watches us, though I do not know exactly what that means.”
“That sounds like the Kairos,” Alexis said, and smiled.
“We are pledged to the Kairos, as well,” Boston said, happily. She meant herself and Alexis, but in truth, that included all the travelers.
“Yes, I know, little one,” Kara said, and she smiled at Boston in a way that said they might be friends. Boston looked at Kara’s wild hair, and thought that might be possible, if one could be said to be friends with a goddess.
Katie looked again at Hirst, and Hirst did not wait for her to ask her question.
“In ancient days, Nameless called our first, Brynhildr, out of the snow and ice of the Urals. He called from a village on a river not far from the Black Sea. Many good men died in a battle defending the village from ghouls. He said he was reluctant to leave good men in the hands of Hellas. He asked Brynhildr to take the spirits to Odin’s hall or Frya’s field, depending on the disposition of their heart, and Brynhildr said it was like scales falling from her eyes. She said, this was the reason she was born and the purpose for her life. When she knelt before Odin, he accepted her good service and caused Valhalla to begin, and since that time, many have come to join Brynhildr in this work. We all work for the Alfadur, but in this life, and whenever or wherever the Time Traveler called the Nameless one appears, we are pledged to him with all of our grateful hearts.”
“Lady Eir has stayed with us often in the past, when she has not gone east to be with her children. I am sure she will stay with us again in the future, after the lifetime of the Nameless one has passed. She also goes with us, often, to battle. There, she saves some and not others.”
Kara said, “I do not know why she chooses some to save and not others.”
“Probably case by case,” Alexis said. “Only she would know who she is or is not authorized to help.” Kara and Hirst both agreed that was likely.
“Hello friends,” the young woman spoke. When they got close, they all noticed she was pregnant, and she answered the thought in several minds without being asked. “Yes,” she said with a big smile and a pat on her belly. “My husband and I have been very busy.”
“He will be along?” Lockhart asked.
“Shortly,” Eir said. “For now, I want to invite the women to come into the tent, and I want to hug Artie, who I have not seen in a long time. And how you have changed.” Artie got down and hugged the woman, then she turned to Katie, Alexis and Boston.
“This is Eir, who I met in the cave of Yu-Huang. She is mother of Tien and Yin, Yang, and Tuti.” Artie wanted to show her off.
The women joined her and they went into the tent. The men stayed outside and watched some gnomes come and take their horses away. Lockhart finally spoke.
“These people don’t look Celtic.”
“Vikings,” Decker agreed.
“But they have or had contact with Celts,” Lincoln added. “They picked up some things from them, like some tartan checks.”
“And Nameless is going to take them all the way up the Silk Road to where other, early Celts settled and already introduced some tartan weave,” Lockhart said, and that caused everyone to look at him. “I may be an historical moron, but that doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention when Katie talks.” He thought about that and added. “If Sekhmet can come here, Katie and I will be married in this time zone, though I would not know how to behave at a Viking wedding.”
Elder Stow sounded ecstatic. “Wonderful. And may you grow fat and have many children.”
Lincoln said, “Congratulations,” and it was sincere, though one could hear the touch of sorrow in missing his own wife.
Decker took a third tack. “My condolences,” he said.
Not much after that, Nameless appeared, and Sekhmet came with him. She came right up to Lockhart and hugged him and kissed him like a good daughter. It made him smile, and as she headed toward the tent she shouted, “Yes!” The word echoed off the distant hills.
“So,” Nameless said. “Any idea who you want to get to perform the ceremony?”
‘Nameless?” Lincoln asked.
“Yes,” both Decker and Elder Stow answered for the man.
Nameless nodded. “But that would not do. You know you folks have affected more lives than maybe you realize. You know this land belongs to Astarte and her on again, off again relationship with El.”
“Have we met her?”
Nameless nodded. “Briefly, once or twice. But there is no serious choice, unless she turns down the idea, which I suspect she won’t. You see, Hathor, and my mother, Frya, and many others wish to come, and might even want to perform the ceremony, but it would not be right to pass up the local mistress of marriage and the home. I am certain Astarte will do it, to maintain peace among the gods, and she will be glad to do it besides.”
“And I will,” a woman said as she appeared out of thin air. “And I am happy to bless the couple. But, you should not be so quick to assume. The couple have not asked me yet.”
“Will you?” Lockhart thought to ask.
Astarte smiled. “I said I would,” and she went into the tent to join the women. The men all stared, and could not seem to help it.
“So,” Nameless clapped his hands to regain their attention. “The story of my life has been straightening out messes. Lucky, you missed Ragnarok. Maybe the storyteller will write about it some day. Anyway, I figure we have three messes to fix. Maybe messes is too strong a word.”
“What are you talking about?” Lockhart wondered. Nameless merely pointed up. An Anazi space ship came in for a landing. He pointed over to where a Gott-Druk sat on a log near a fire, and she looked miserable. He moved his pointer finger to where Boston and Alexis came out of the tent. Boston came complaining.
“I know how it works, now. I understand all about that. You have to stop treating me like a fairy still wet behind the wings, okay?”
“Fine.” Alexis threw her hands up.
“I don’t understand,” Lincoln said.
“We have two young women ready to leave the nest.”
The men nodded, until Lockhart asked. “Who is the other one?”
MONDAY (Tuesday and Wednesday)
Don’t mis the second half of Avalon, Episode 5.8
Katie and Lockhart get ready to form a new nest, but Boston and Artie do not appear happy, and Basilisk statues in the wilderness may come to haunt them…