After 755 A.D. Provence
Kairos 102: Mistress Genevieve
The travelers came out in the mountains. Tony drove the wagon. Nanette and Sukki helped guide the wagon through the roughest spots until Tony brought it down to a dirt and gravel road that ran alongside a river. Boston and Katie compared amulets but decided the road by the river was the best they could do. The valley was not wide in most places, but the mountains looked impossible.
“Somewhere in the Alps,” Lincoln concluded. “Genevieve should be toward the southwest, maybe west from here.”
“North,” Boston corrected his thinking.
“Almost due north,” Katie said.
“But Provence should be that way from the Alps,” Lincoln protested. “Unless we are all the way over in the Pyrenees.”
“Definitely the Alps,” Alexis said and pointed to the ground. “I recognize the edelweiss.”
Elder Stow stared at his scanner, shook it a few times to be sure it was working but reported nothing. Lockhart looked around for Decker. Colonel Decker disappeared in the forest that lined the road and the river as soon as they came through. Lockhart debated calling the man but imagined Decker might have run into something and did not need a blast of sound from his watch-radio. Decker could call them if he got in trouble.
Decker, at that moment, stopped and stared through the trees. It looked like a gorilla. A couple of gorillas, or big apes of some kind. It felt too cold for tropical apes, like gorillas. One of them moved, and he saw the gorilla wearing pants. Aliens, he thought. Gorilla aliens. He wanted to flee, but wisely planted himself where he was, and his horse cooperated and stayed quiet. They had not seen him yet. He imagined if he moved, they would spot him and then who knew what might happen. He felt certain they had weapons of some sort. They would not be out here in the wilderness on a strange planet without protection.
He did not have to wait long before the aliens moved further back among the trees. They must have finished whatever they were doing, like taking samples of something. Decker quickly turned around and headed back toward the others, and his watch radio went off.
“We got gorilla aliens in the woods,” Decker’s voice came before he appeared fifty yards down the road. The rest caught up and he reported his encounter.
Katie shrugged. “I’m not picking up any hostility,” Katie told Lockhart.
“Me neither,” Boston confirmed.
“Nothing here,” Nanette agreed.
“Alexis?” Lincoln turned toward her and grinned.
Alexis frowned. “You know I don’t do that hypersensitive-intuition thing. They could be looking over my shoulder and I would not know it.”
Lincoln smiled. “I just wanted to make sure all the witches got heard from.”
She hit him. He laughed and reassured everyone.
“The Apes—that is the only name for them given in the database—they are essentially peaceful and nonviolent. It says they land somewhere in the Jura Mountains on the other side of the Swiss Plateau. I’m surprised we saw some here.”
Lockhart nodded, ignored the couple as Alexis nudged Lincoln again, and started them down the road just when they saw a small craft lift above the trees and head off to the northeast.
“Going our way?” Katie said. “Something to look forward to.” She quoted Lockhart from a few time zones earlier.
It took the travelers all day to get out of the mountains and to the lake, even following the road that ran through the river valley. By the time they arrived and set their camp by the lake, Lincoln identified it as Lake Geneva, and said he had to do more reading. He said he expected to land somewhere in Provence, southern France, or if Genevieve was really young, like under eighteen, maybe somewhere on the Rhine River, not the Rhone up in the mountains, near the glacier. He explained over supper.
“Genevieve of Breisach, an old Roman fort town on the Rhine, was daughter of the Frankish chief of the town and an Alemanni mother. Her mother died after giving birth to Genevieve’s baby brother, who also died at age two. That left Genevieve as the sole child and heir. After that, the story reads like a remake of Cinderella. When Genevieve turned six, her father remarried a widow from Habsburg who had two daughters of her own, one a year older and one two years younger than Genevieve, then her father died fighting for King Pepin of Francia. Genevieve was twelve. The stepmother was cruel, and Genevieve got reduced to a virtual servant in the house, though it was technically her house. Then the prince came to town, or in this case, Charlemagne, though he wasn’t called the great yet, so maybe just Charles.”
“Charlemagne,” Boston interrupted. “I heard of him.”
“Hush,” Alexis quieted her.
“Charles’ wife, Hildegard, age fifteen by the way, was busy giving birth to their first son, Charles the Younger. Charles was frustrated…for many reasons. The stepmother offered her two daughters to relieve his tension. Charles picked Genevieve, also for many reasons, and Genevieve got pregnant, which would not do since Charles was married to someone else. Besides, Charles and Genevieve ended up in a love-hate relationship. It says they argued a lot.”
“One question,” Katie interrupted. “What was Charles doing in Alemanni land?”
“Technically in Swabia, but on the corner of Swabia, Burgundy, and Alemanni land. He was raising an army to invade Italy, that is, the Lombard kingdom. The pope appealed to him to get back the papal lands now claimed by the Lombard king.”
“So, we are talking around 773,” Katie concluded, and Lincoln nodded to say that would be his guess.
“So, Genevieve is pregnant,” Boston grinned. “We saw Margueritte get married and now we have Genevieve pregnant. Good timing.”
“She is seventeen or eighteen,” Lincoln picked up the story. “Anyway, Charles getting someone pregnant when he is married, and not married that long, and doesn’t want to upset his new wife who is busy giving birth is not a good thing. His solution is to marry Genevieve off to Otto of Provence and blame the pregnancy on Otto”
“Otto of Provence?” Tony asked.
“Okay, Otto. He was related to Pepin in some way, a cousin or something, and he fought for Pepin when Pepin was mayor and when Pepin became king of the Franks. He gave good service, and when he was crippled so he walks with a cane, Pepin gave him the watch over Provence, made it a march so he could keep an eye on the Lombards in Italy and keep the Saracens—the Muslim Arabs out of southern Francia. He is a Marquis or Margrave, depending on the language, which means march lord, kind of like Margueritte’s father. He arrived around Breisach with a small contingent, leaving most of his troops at home ready to fall on Genoa or wherever Charles wanted them. Charles would take the men, but said Otto still had Saracen pirates all along the coast and was needed in Provence.”
“He was not going to take the crippled old man on campaign in Italy,” Decker concluded.
Lincoln nodded. “Genevieve was compensation. Otto had an eight-year-old son, Leibulf, whose mother died in childbirth. Apparently, that happened plenty in these days, but the man had been without a wife for the last eight years.”
“Wait a minute,” Boston interrupted. “Genevieve is seventeen and she gets stuck with a fifty-year-old cripple with an eight-year-old son? That is hardly fair or nice.”
“Doesn’t make it right,” Sukki agreed with Boston, but Alexis shrugged.
Lincoln nodded for Katie. He was not going to argue. “The bishop in Basel performs the ceremony. I would guess that is where they are right now.”
“I wonder if Charlemagne is there,” Katie said.
“When is it, I mean the time of year?” Tony asked.
“Mid-spring,” Boston answered, being an elf and tuned into the seasons. “About the end of April or early May.”
Tony shook his head. “Spring planting is over. He has probably gathered whatever auxiliary troops he is going to get and is on his way to Italy by now.”
“Well, I hope Otto is nice,” Nanette said, and smiled for Decker. He tried hard to maintain a serious face.
“Feeling protective of the Kairos?” Alexis asked, and after the briefest moment, Nanette said that she did.
“I don’t blame you,” Katie agreed.
Lockhart stirred the fire. “I remember back in the real world, the Men in Black headquarters got temporarily overrun with marines. Fyodor, the pilot, had been with us about ten or maybe more years at that point and had seen the Kairos in action. I remember Alice, a newbie in the legal department followed the Kairos to a shed where Fyodor waited. She took it upon herself to introduce everyone. She said the big marine sergeant had assigned himself to be the Kairos’ bodyguard for the duration of the trouble. I never saw Fyodor laugh so hard. Like the Kairos, of all people, needs a bodyguard. I swear, for the next hour Fyodor could not look at the big marine without laughing, just thinking about the Kairos needing a bodyguard.”
Boston giggled. “I remember that…But all the same, I agree with Nanette. This Otto better be nice.”