Arthur, Diogenes, Bedivere, Gwynyvar, Enid, and Guimier hid in a back room of the great hall. The room had a big enough window that looked out on the barracks and the new tower. They could not see much of the central courtyard where most of the activity seemed to be taking place, but in any case, Diogenes made everyone stay away from the window. He said they had to wait until dark. With that, Diogenes sat on the bed in that room and went away, so Gerraint could return and hug his daughter, who was worried about him.
“Besides,” Gerraint said, “Any trouble we face will come from the door, not the window, and that will only happen if they discover we have escaped from our cell.”
“You know I don’t like not knowing what is going on,” Arthur said. “But we will wait.” He examined the sword he held, the one they took from a sleeping Saxon. The man had probably been posted to guard the downstairs cell, but figured since the cell was locked, he could take a nice long nap. They took the man’s things without waking him. Bedivere got Gerraint’s long knife, Defender, and gave Enid Gerraint’s cutting knife. Arthur took the sword and grabbed the man’s wicked looking knife that had been set on the table. He gave the knife to Gwynyvar. No one doubted the women knew how to use those knives, and would use them expertly, if they had to, and to protect Guimier.
Outside Cadbury Fort, Elder Stow handed Sukki an invisibility disc and said, “Be careful. A lucky shot can still hit you, even if you are invisible. I have mini self-screens in my belt array, but you have no such help.”
“She has pressurized fish skin,” Boston said. “She got shot once before, but the bullet did not penetrate far and quickly fell out.”
“But it hurt,” Sukki said.
Elder Stow assured her. “If you cut along the bottom of the wall while I press down from the top, you should be able to finish cutting before they figure out where you are. Hopefully, I will distract them, so they may not even realize what you are doing. And when you are finished, you need to rush straight back here to the others. Is that clear?”
“Yes Father,” Sukki said. “I am ready.” She rose up into the air, and Elder Stow touched his belt to fly up and join her. Then he touched in another place on his belt and the two of them vanished from sight.
Inside the fort, the Saxons hurried to reinforce the east wall with their guns. “They will be charging into the setting sun,” Odacer pointed out. “That is one more point to our advantage.”
“It will be a slaughter,” Harwic agreed.
“It will be a waste of your weapons and powder,” the wraith appeared, and yelled. “I care nothing for the men of this age. You should talk. I have seen humans talk before they fight. You should insist the man and woman who lead the travelers be there. Also, the one who carries the memory in a box, and his wife. And the big, African. Then, when they are all present, you can shoot them with your gunds, and kill them.”
“Guns,” Harwic corrected the wraith.
Truth was the wraith came from the year 3585 BC. Domnu, the Titaness who tried to take the old lands of Vanheim for herself, laid a geis on the wraith. The compulsion to kill the travelers would never go away on its own. The wraith honestly had no idea what guns were, but she knew the travelers had guns, and somehow, she became convinced she needed guns to kill the travelers. It would be an understatement to say the travelers frustrated her and made her mad. Wraiths are angry creatures, by nature, and mad as well, for that matter. But she remembered. She had to kill the humans traveling through time.
When she first followed them through the time gate, she aged about sixty years all at once. It all but killed the human men that followed her, but sixty years is not so much for a wraith whose lifespan is counted in centuries. After the initial shock of ageing so rapidly, she almost turned back. She found she could not. The compulsion to kill the travelers felt too strong to resist. She hesitated before following them again through the next time gate, but discovered after going through the first gate, she aged normally, no matter what. The travelers could have explained to her that once she went through the first gate, she became displaced in time and aged according to her own personal timeline without regard to what time period she entered. Of course, she would not understand that. She just knew the travelers had to die.
She had enough sense to lay low while the gods remained active in the world. The gods seemed to favor the travelers, and while she made a few slight attempts, she dared not do more than follow them. Then the day came when the gods all went away, and she felt, surely, she could kill them. But then she realized the Elder Race man had a thing that she could not break through to get at her prey. And he had weapons that posed a danger to her. And the girl who had been an Elder Race girl had dangerous powers. She contrived a way to break the thing stopping her and got the guns in that day to attack the travelers, but the travelers proved too strong.
“Talk to your enemy,” she yelled at the gun makers. She had to resort to trickery, but that was something she was very good at. The two men grabbed the idea the wraith put in their heads.
“Our supplies of powder and shot are about two days away, I would guess,” Odacer said. “Talking would delay the battle and help preserve what supplies we have.”
Harwic looked over at the barracks where the powder got stored. They all looked over and saw a girl going inside. The men thought nothing of it, but the wraith knew it was no ordinary girl. She screamed, even as an invisible Elder Stow, that she could see perfectly, began to clear off the men from the top of the wall.
The wraith sent something like a fireball at Elder Stow, but it dissipated around the elder’s personal screen.
“Save the powder,” Odacer shouted. His suspicious nature told him the girl did something. That girl came out the door, transformed into a ball of flame, and raced to hide in the cooking fires. The wraith screamed once more and flew to the barracks, easily getting inside the powder room.
“Get down,” Diogenes glimpsed Spark flying away and shouted to the others. No one questioned him. They all got to the floor, and Enid, Guimier, and Gwynyvar ducked behind the bed.
Elder Stow finished sweeping the wall clean of men as Sukki finished cutting the bottom of the wall. The wall did not rumble for long before it fell, though it may have been helped when the powder room exploded. That massive explosion knocked Odacer and Harwic to the ground where they got skewered with splinters from the barracks. It provided enough push to make most of the east wall fall outward, like a cleanly cut tree. Spark had to hold on to her log to keep the kitchen fire from being scattered everywhere. Any men in the barracks, died. And the new tower shook, right down to the new dungeon cells down below.
It felt like an earthquake, but the two Saxons managed to throw their prisoner into the cell before they slammed the door shut and raced back up the stairs, followed by the two assigned to guard the prisoners. Inside the cell, a sergeant of the fort soldiers stepped forward.
“Who are you?”
“A friend of Arthur,” Scorch said, while in the back of his mind he thought, “good girl, Spark. I love you.” He heard her answer his thought.
“I love you, too.”
Scorch looked at the men. “So, are you ready to fight the Saxons?”
“Sure,” the sergeant answered. “But we appear to be stuck here.”
Scorch just grinned and got one finger hot enough to melt the lock on the door. “I don’t much like metal,” he said, softly. “Leaves a bitter aftertaste.” He swung the cell door open, and the men piled out. One grabbed the keys left hanging on the wall. He opened all the cells. Two went to a cupboard where the weapons of the soldiers were not so neatly stacked. As soon as the first ones were armed, Scorch yelled, follow me, and he practically flew up the stairs.
Arthur’s men saw the wall fall. Percival did not blink. He shouted. “Prepare to dismount and climb over the wall.” He expected the order would be passed along by the leaders of the various groups, not that what they had to do would not be obvious.
Sir Thomas, standing beside Lockhart and Katie, put his own spin on the order. “Boarding party ready?”
“Aye, Captain,” one man answered.
The little army mounted, but before they even sat on their horses, they noticed about fifty dwarfs already halfway to the goal and charging with all their might. They saw an equal number of elves rush passed them, running at a much greater speed, but even they could not match the fairies who looked like mere streaks of light.
“The sun is almost set,” Katie said. “I am sure the dark elves will want to take a turn, too.” The travelers started their horses at a walking pace, so Percival and the army matched that pace. Boston laughed, and then reported to the others.
“Piebucket said those skinny wickets and fly-balls better leave something for them to do.”