After 355 A.D. Arabia
Kairos 95: Bahati, King’s Consort of Aksum
“Boss.” Boston called Lockhart. She had her amulet out and worried about where they had to go. “Boss.” She checked the sun and looked at her watch. Eight o’clock in the morning. They planned to go through the gate that morning, but this one might be tricky.
“What?” Sukki asked. She held the horses, but looked over Boston’s shoulder, while Lockhart and Katie came to the front of the line of travelers, dismounted, and asked the same question.
“The time gate is ten yards or so out in the lake,” Boston answered. “You know when we enter a gate in water, we exit a gate in water on the other side. According to Lincoln, that might put us in the middle of the Red Sea.”
“Lincoln,” Lockhart called.
Lincoln already had the database out and summarized what he read. “Bahati. She is Kenyan, a Bantu immigrant tribe that pushed into the Cushite area. Her tribe bordered Ethiopia, ruled by Ezana, King of Aksum. Ezana threatened to invade, all the way down the Swahili coast. For the sake of peace, the chief gave Ezana his five-year-old daughter, Bahati. Ezana died that year, and his son, Mehedys took over. Bahati became pledged to Mehedys as sort of his fourth wife, though they did not consummate anything until she turned fifteen. Mehedys was near fifty.”
“Married at five?” Katie couldn’t believe it.
“I hate that,” Alexis agreed.
“Okay,” Lincoln continued and held up his hand for quiet. “Bahati proved to have a first-rate military mind. Apparently, the Kushites, ruled by Aksum, the Etheops and tribes generally around the horn of Africa do not have a problem with women warriors, or even women generals.”
“Is there a point you are getting to?” Lockhart asked. “The issue is a water gate.”
“Coming to that,” Lincoln said. “At age late twenty-something, she went with Mehedys’ son, Ouazebas, and Ouazebas’ friend, General Semka—all about the same age—and an army to what we call Yemen. The kingdoms there, mainly Sheba and Himyar are already tributary to Aksum. The army was sent to conquer the trade competition, a place called Wabar or Ubar.”
“Ubar,” Katie spouted, and both she, and Tony with her, got that far-away look, as if Ubar might be something extraordinary.
Lockhart did not know about that. “The point?”
“The point is, depending on when we arrive in Bahati’s life, the water might be a lake or tributary of the White Nile, or it might be something serious, between Aksum and Yemen, like the Red Sea, or maybe the Erythraean Sea.”
“Eryth…?” Lockhart started to speak, but Lincoln interrupted.
“That is off the actual horn of Africa, off Somalia, connected to the Arabian Sea.”
“Why you?” Alexis asked, just before Sukki asked the same thing.
“I’m an elf. I do invisible. I can check the amulet and look for land if I end up in deep water. I can do insubstantial if there are sharks in the water. You can tie Decker’s rope to me and pull me back after ten minutes if I don’t come back sooner.” She grinned, thinking she covered all the angles.
People looked one to another, and it got settled when Lockhart shrugged. Twenty minutes later, they had Boston tied to the rope. The time gate sat in shallow water, not more than up to the knees, but Boston had to “Yip-yip!” and run across the top of the water to the gate, saying she did not want to get her knees wet.
Boston came out in a very small stream. She saw a little pond behind her, no doubt fed by some spring, and she saw where the stream petered out ahead of her—where it either dried up in the overly hot sun or soaked into the sand so it could continue to run underground. She also found the water hole surrounded by men and their camels. The camels appeared startled. The men shouted and cursed, and back up a bit from the edge. Of course, Boston forgot to go invisible.
“Just as well,” she said, before she raised her voice. “Hey, you men need to back up and move your camels back. I’ve got a bunch of people on horses, and a wagon coming through here.” The men stared but did not move. “I mean it. Back up,” she said, and let a small stream of fire shoot from her fingertips, up into the sky. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt. You can get your water after we come through.” With that, she turned around and vanished back through the time gate.
“Hey!” Boston shouted. She forgot the water was knee deep and sank in it.
Katie asked, “What did you find?” Decker reeled in his rope.
“A spring pool and little stream that doesn’t last long in the sand and heat. There are mountains a bit to the left of where we need to go, and maybe the sea is to the right. I think I smelled salt, but it might just be the stinky men and their camels.”
“Men and Camels?” Lincoln asked, always the first to be concerned about potential danger.
“Harmless. Surprised to see me, but I think just merchants of some kind. The camels have packs of stuff.”
“An oasis?” Alexis asked
“Yeah, an oasis, but only a couple of stunted trees and bad grassy bushes by the pool. The land looks covered in a poor scrub grass. Not much else to see except sand and rocks. Maybe we should fill our water skins here, before we go.”
They did that very thing. Then Boston and Sukki went first on Strawberry and Cocoa. They found the men and camels well back from the water, but still staring like men in shock.
When Lockhart and Katie came through, they went to talk to the men, some of whom bowed to them, and a couple of whom got down and prostrated themselves. Lincoln and Alexis followed, then Nanette, who paused to help Ghost. Tony drove the wagon, carefully. They had no road to follow, just a well-worn camel trail through the grass and dirt. Decker and Elder Stow brought up the rear where they could make sure everyone got safely through before they left the last time zone.
“So, where are you headed?” Lockhart asked in his friendliest voice.
One of the merchants merely pointed. Another said, “Makkah.”
“Boston,” Lockhart called.
“Opposite,” she said, and pointed opposite to the way the man pointed.
“If it is something in history that even I know about, it is probably too dangerous and something we should avoid at all costs.”
“But Muhammad won’t be born for another three hundred years,” Katie argued, but Lockhart just shook his head.
“We need to go in the other direction. It is best we avoid maybe messing something up.” Katie nodded, sadly, and turned back toward her horse. Lockhart thought to add, “Maybe we will find your Ubar.”
“Ubar,” one of the merchants said in recognition of the name. He pointed in the general direction the travelers would be going, though a bit to the left, like maybe beyond the mountains.
Katie at least smiled for that.