Avalon 5.12 Bad Wine, part 5 of 5

The travelers got hauled in front of Solomon, no matter how much they insisted that they needed to see Korah.  They tied their horses out front, and armed up, just in case.  They left the Patton sabers wrapped at the back of their saddles, but they brought their gun belts, and Decker and Katie carried their rifles while Lockhart shouldered his shotgun.  Lockhart figured the locals might not even recognize the guns as weapons, though they said nothing about the knives the travelers carried on thier belts.

“Remember what the Kairos told us last time.”  Alexis spoke to everyone before they entered the audience chamber, and she focused especially on Lincoln and Katie.  “It would have been better to avoid seeing Solomon, but for Pete’s sake, keep you mouths shut.”  She shot the last at her husband who raised his hands in surrender.

The room looked overly large.  Solomon sat at the far end, in a comfortable looking chair, on a raised platform.  The travelers were used to that.  The unusual part was how many, mostly less comfortble chairs, sat up on the platform with him.  Most were empty, but a few were filled with what looked like advisors of a sort—or possibly close, personal friends, not one of whom looked under sixty.  To Solomon’s left hand, one chair got filled with a young girl, maybe fifteen or sixteen, and an Egyptian from her look.

The travelers looked around as they marched up front.  The guards and soldiers were inconspicuous.  Decker, Katie and Lockhart certainly noticed, and Decker probably counted them, but the others paid no attention, which was likely the idea.

Alexis saw one woman, an African looking woman, but with European features, which felt odd.  In fact, Alexis had an odd feeling overall, just to look at her.  The woman did not go about some duties.  She certainly scrutinized them with a knowing look, but Alexis had to move on before she could explore her feeling further, and when they reached the front, she forgot about the odd woman.

The travelers stopped several yards from the platform, and when Solomon waved his hand back and forth, they took the hint and spread out into a single line.

Solomon scrutinized the travelers, and spoke when he was ready.  “You are?”

“Robert and Katherine Lockhart.  Benjamin and Alexis Lincoln.  Elder Stow and his daughter, Sukki.  Mary Riley, that everyone call Boston, and Major Decker.  I assume you are Solomon, the Wise.  It is a pleasure to meet you.”

Solomon let out a slight grin.  “Some think not so wise, including sometimes your friend, Korah, who has been sent for.”  He stared at them again before he asked, “And where are you from?”

Lockhart looked at Katie, Lincoln and Alexis.  He figured if Solomon was half as wise as his reputation, he would see right through any lie he came up with.  So much for Alexis’ admonitiion, he thought, before he turned again to Solomon and answered, “The future.  And we are headed back there, slowly.”

Solomon smiled again.  “We are all headed slowly into the future.”

“But some more slowly than others.  And no, we cannot tell you about the future, and I probably should not have told you that much.”

“Sukki was born before the flood,” Boston blurted out.  “She is not technically from the future.”

The little Egyptian girl huffed.  “Suliman.  These people are boring.  Telling a strange tale that makes no sense does not make them less boring.”  Solomon looked at her, but let her ramble as she turned to the travelers.  “You see, in my hands I have Sekhmet, the lion, who is the real goddess.  I have seen her outside my window on the hot days when she has come into the shade of the wall.  She is my protector, and if you lie about things, and say you are from some imaginary place called the future, she will eat you.”

“She would not do that,” Kaie said.

The Egyptian girl huffed again, and spouted, “What do you know of the real gods?  How can you say that?”

“Sekhmet is our daughter,” Lockhart said, and with a glance at Solomon, added, “adopted, though I believe she adopted us as much as we adopted her.”

“We last saw her when we married,” Katie said, and took Lockhart’s hand.  “That was when the Philistines came from the sea and conqured the land you call Philistia.”

Solomon tipped his head, like he understood something.  “Both my father and King Saul before him struggled mightily to keep the Philistines from overrunning the whole country, and to make a lasting peace.”

“We could call her,” Lockhart suggested.

“But I am sure she won’t come here,” Katie interrupted.  “This place is given to worship the Most-High God—the God of the gods.  The old gods of this world have no place here.”

The Egyptian girl frowned.  “Liars.”

“I don’t think so,” Solomon responded.  “Even if they are not telling the whole truth.”  He scrutinized them once more before he said, “You should not hide yourselves behind such masks.”  He seemed to indicate Boston and Elder Stow, beside Sukki.

Boston looked briefly at Lockhart and Alexis before she removed her glamour of humanity.  The Egyptian girl shrieked and covered her eyes with her hands.  Elder stow looked only at Sukki and nodded.  They removed their glamours as well.  Even Solomon looked shocked at their appearance.

“We are of the elder race that once roamed these very lands,” Elder Stow said.

“Do not be afraid,” Alexis said.  “They are very nice people.”

“We all are,” Lincoln added.

“I am sure this is so,” Solomon said, as he watched the Egyptian girl slowly uncover her eyes, to stare.  “And you are traveling back to the future at a slighly faster rate?”

“Sorry,” Lockhart said, with a smile.  “Still can’t tell you about the future.”

“And you didn’t even say Back to the Future,” Katie said, and squeezed Lockhart’s hand.

“Lockhart,” a man’s voice sounded out from the back corner of the room.  “Have you been telling stories?”  The old man paused while he hobbled into the room, leaning heavily on a cane.  “Boston,” he said, and opened his arms for a hug.  Boston only glanced at Lockhart and Alexis before she raced into the hug.  Everyone smiled, except Lincoln, who asked.

“Korah?”

“Yes,” Solomon said, and he tried not to smile.  “And we haven’t had any stories yet.”

Boston whispered in Korah’s ear.  “You are old again.”

“Every lifetime,” he said, and leaned on her.

“We might tell something from the past,” Katie suggested.

“Like our encounter with Apophis,” Lincoln said.

The Egyptian girl shrieked.  “Please, no,” she said, and covered her eyes with her hands.

Solomon sat up and stroked the girl’s hair, like a doting grandfather, or maybe like a man might pet a faithful dog.  He asked a question while he pretended to be unconcerned.  “So, tell me about this black cloud that chased you into the city so you could not wait for the gate to be opened.  Why did you jump into the pool of Siloam?  Why is it waiting for you, even now, just outside the gate?”

The travelers hesitated, so the Kairos spoke up, now that Boston had helped him get to where he could sit down.  “Go ahead.  Tell us about the djin—the genie.”  He added that word for the men sitting there.

“My wife better explain,” Lockhart said, and he smiled at Katie while he slipped his arm around her.

Katie returned the smile and began.  She told how they entered the time zone, and the djin tried to kill them with the sandstorm. They made it to the city, only to find Ashtaroth, who threatened to sacrifice them in the altar to Moloch.  Boston called to Moloch, and he sent the djin somewhere unknown, and after seeing that they were hedged about by the gods, he sent them to the other side of the Jordan River.  “We set out this morning, after very little sleep, and even so, we almost did not make it to Jerusalem.  We fell into the pool from exhaustion and thirst, after all that time in the heat and desert sands.”

“A djin?” Solomon confirmed.

“A marid,” Korah said.

“Oh, but that is easy,” Solomon responded.  “I have some rejuvination juice right here.”  He stood, slowly for an older man, and picked up a clay jar with a lid that was not exactly like a cork, but near enough.  He lifted the lid, took a sip, and then called to the Egyptian girl.  He leaned on her as he walked, even as Korah continued to lean on Boston.  He took them all to a door that lead out to a balcony right next to the wall.  The cloud floated there, and Solomon called to it.

“Marid, I am Solomon.  I am king of this city and all the land you can see around you.  I have many Marid who are friends in my court.  I wish you no ill will, and I tell you, no harm will come to you here, as long as you do no harm in this place.  Here.  I have rejuvanation juice to toast your health and life.  Come join me in the toast.”

The cloud wavered, but did nothing.

“Come. this will strengthen you after your long hunt.  I drink some every day, but only a little so I don’t become too powerful.  This is stong drink.  You know, I have seven-hundred wives, and three-hudred concubines, and you can imagine at my age how much I need rejuvination.  Even so, all I need is a little of this magic elixir.  They say it can fully restore a person and all of his abilities—even magical abilities, though I have no such talents.

The cloud still appeared to hesitate.

“I see.  You fear the drink may be poison or something.  Here, let me show you.” He took a small sip, waited a moment, and hauled the Egyptian girl to his chest and kissed her, hard.  All the while he held out the jar.  “I am a bull now, ready to mate.  But first I drink to frendship with all the djin.  Will you try some, of course just a little.  No telling how strong you may become if you were to drink it all, or something so foolish…”

The black cloud rushed in, creating a wind it came so fast.  It squeezed itself down into the jug without so much as taking human form.  Solomon put the lid on top and smiled.

“That should keep it.”

A man stepped up with wax and a flame, like he rushed to get them as soon as the king stood.  He melted wax all over the top of the jug and all along the edge of the lid, effectively sealing it tight.  Solomon took off his ring, and while the servant held the jug, he made an imprint of his ring in the top.

“So we don’t forget which jugs have the djin, and which have the fresh wine,” Solomon said.  “That wine had a poor aftertaste, anyway…”  He let the Egyptian girl help him back to his throne.

“We can make love now?” the girl asked.

“Maybe later,” Solomon smiled for her as well as he could.  “Later, if I can stay awake.”

“That’s it?” Lincoln asked.

Korah nodded.  “As long as no one is stupid enough to break the seal, the djin should be held indefinitely.  Even if the seal is broken at some point, the djin will have to return fully to the desert world made for the genies, and heal, before he can do anything else.  And even the powerful and mighty marid cannot return to earth without help from someone on earth, so I would say, yes, that is it.  I do not expect it will be able to bother you any more.”

“But, that is it?” Lincoln asked again.  “But that was so easy—so nothing.”

“Yes,” Korah said, and paused to think.  “You feel let down after all that build up?  You wanted a magical duel, buildings blowing up, sparkas flying everywhere, that sort of thing?”

Lincoln nodded as Alexis answered.  “All I feel is relief.”

“Tell you what,” Korah said.  “Come to my place.  You can eat and rest for a time.  Ignore the boys.  They have the first garage band in history, but at least it is not electric.”

“You don’t want us to move on right away?” Boston asked.

“Lockhart?” Korah looked for him.  He saw him and Katie, still out on the balcony, kissing.

“Still newlyweds,” Elder Stow explained.

Korah nodded.  Solomon spoke.  “You owe me a good story, or two.”

Korah said, “No reason you should not take the chance to rest a bit.  The twenty-first century is still a long way from here.  The gnomes have your horses.  Eat, rest and relax for a bit before you return to the road and your journey… Back to the Future…”

“You said it,” Decker did not sound pleased.

“I know.  If I’m not careful, I’ll get hit with a cease and desist order.  Good luck finding me a thousand years before Christ.”

END of Season Five.

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Special preview post tomorrow.

Please stop by, and Happy Reading

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