After 104 B.C. Rome, Italy
Kairos 87: Bodanagus, the King
“We are somewhere just north of the toe of the boot of Italy, I would guess an easy fifty miles below Capua,” Lincoln said. He stared at the database and never looked up. “Via Popilia-something. We should pick up the Appian Way in Capua.”
“That is interesting,” Evan said to the group. “When we traveled into the past two years ago, the time gate was in Capua. That was where Minerva gave us the chestnuts that we used to find the time gates. Two years later, you are telling me the gate has moved a hundred miles south. Maybe King Bodanagus is not in Rome.”
“No,” Boston said, as she pulled out her amulet. It showed a significant map of the two time gates and the major towns and obstacles that lay between them. “We went over this carefully. As near as I can tell, the Kairos is in Rome, probably with Caesar.”
Katie glanced at her own prototype amulet. “The next time gate appears to be around Genoa, well beyond Pisa.” She thought to explain. “If you recall, in Diana’s day, last time we were in Rome, the time gates were in Pisa and around Capua.”
“So, the gates are getting farther apart, as you guessed,” Lockhart concluded.
“Well,” Katie said. “People are moving more and longer distances in this age. Maybe just Bodanagus is moving more than the Kairos moved in the past. He is Gallic, right?”
“He came to Rome. That is a long way. And then where?” Katie asked.
“He went to Spain,” Millie remembered.
“Let’s see,” Lincoln scanned the database. “Spain, Illyria, Greece, Egypt, Tarsus, North Africa; and lots of trips to Italy in between.”
“So, you see?” Katie concluded. “We are lucky the time gates are not in Arabia and Great Britain.”
Lockhart added it up in his head. “But that leaves us ten days to two weeks to Rome, then ten days to two weeks to the next time gate. If we rest five days or a week in Rome, that adds up to a whole month in this time zone.”
“How many more time zones do we have to travel to get home?” Decker wondered.
“Thirty-four,” Lincoln was quick on the answer. He kept track.
“Just shy of three years counting a month per zone,” Lockhart said.
“Cuts it kind of close, Princess-wise,” Decker said. “2007 to 2010 is three years.”
“Three years before the Storyteller gets lost in the Second Heavens and everything goes haywire,” Lincoln said, half to himself.
“See?” Alexis said. “Lincoln is worrying for me already. Food is ready, and I am changing the subject. I am calling my horse, Chestnut. How about you?”
Boston frowned. “Your horse is sorrel colored, not chestnut.”
“I always called that color chestnut,” Katie said. “Mine is a bay. I think I’ll call him… Bay.”
“As in, somebody bet on him?” Lockhart asked. Katie nudged him.
“Mine is Strawberry,” Boston said.
“Well, yours is roan,” Alexis said. “Not strawberry, exactly.”
“Are we going for colors?” Sukki asked. “Mine and Elder Stow’s horses are brown, but that is not a good name, and he already picked the name Mudd.”
“Mud?” Katie and Alexis frowned, but Lockhart and Decker smiled.
“I can spell it with a double D,” Elder Stow said. “His name is Mudd.”
“Works for me.” Lockhart grinned.
“Well, I’m thinking of naming my horse Dumbo,” Lincoln said.
“Can’t,” Decker protested. “The ears aren’t big enough.”
Boston also protested. “Your horse’s color is dun, not dumb.”
Katie ignored them and turned to Lockhart. “You got the gray one this time. What are you thinking?”
“He is gray like the sea,” he said. “I think Sea would work.”
“The letter C? See as in vision?” Katie thought a moment. “Seahorse?”
Lockhart shrugged. Decker chuckled.
“Maybe Dumbo is a good name,” Alexis said.
“Chestnut is a good name,” Lincoln said. “But it is taken.”
Alexis shoved him a little.
“I haven’t decided,” Decker admitted.
“I didn’t know we were naming our horses,” Millie confessed.
“I’m going to have to think hard now,” Sukki said. “There aren’t any good brown names.”
“How about Chocolate?” Alexis suggested, and everyone stopped to stare at her with their meanest stares.
“That was cruel,” Boston verbalized.
“What is Chocolate?” Sukki asked.
“A future delicacy of infinite delight,” Elder Stow answered. “I will be happy to introduce you to it when we get there.”
That ended the horse naming time. After that, people spent the rest of the night reminiscing about the best deserts they ever had.
The travelers reached Capua in three days and figured they had another five, or more likely six to reach Rome. It did not seem too bad, as long as they had good roads. The trip would be longer if they had to travel through the rough. In Capua, they shelled out a couple of their coins for rooms and to stable Ghost the mule and their horses. Lincoln had his doubts about letting the horses out of their sight, but Lockhart convinced him that they had to get used to it. They would be staying at more and more inns as they moved forward in time. Of course, they took their guns to their rooms, and Decker had no intention of going anywhere without his rife.
In the morning, they got supplies for the trip, including plenty of vegetables and fruit. Alexis, Sukki, and Elder Stow were happy about that, not being big meat eaters. “I wouldn’t mind picking up fish on our way, from one of the villages on the coast,” Alexis suggested.
“I don’t know what to say about that.” Boston scrunched up her face and looked conflicted. “I like fruit and veggies well enough, but I grew up on meat and potatoes.”
“You’re young,” Alexis told her. “Your metabolism is still racing. But when you get older, keep in mind, too much meat will just make you fat. No one wants a fat, old elf.”
“Santa,” Boston said, and grinned, but she would have to think about it.
On the way out of town, they filed past a group of soldiers sitting by the side of the road, waiting for something. Lincoln noticed that two of the soldiers hid their faces when Boston rode by. He looked closely. He had a gift for facial recognition, and these two men looked familiar, even if he could not place them. He paused. Naturally, he could not place them, not having been in this time zone before. He supposed if he looked hard enough, he could find plenty of familiar faces, similar to people he met or saw in the past. Of course, they could not be the same people. He shrugged it off.
For four days up the Appian Way, Katie felt anxious. She said they were being followed by soldiers. Boston felt it too but wondered how Katie could tell. Elect senses were made to sniff out enemies on the horizon—whatever might pose a danger to family and home. Boston also felt they were being followed, but she could not pinpoint the feelings to soldiers, necessarily. She said the road was full of soldiers and groups of soldiers traveling; mostly headed to Rome as they were.
“No,” Katie said a few times. “It feels like one group is following us, specifically.”
Boston did not disagree, but since neither had any reason to feel the way they did, and since no one else felt the discomfort, they let it go. It came up on the last night before Rome.