The innkeeper and his son got locked in the dungeon in the town hall. To his credit, Charlemagne understood on the first telling of the events. Uncle Bernard only needed a bit of clarification on a couple of points, but the magistrate needed things explained about five times. Lincoln was good about it, and Tony helped.
The soldiers cleaned up the dead bodies. Lockhart said to Charles how glad he was to look up to someone at last. He said Gerraint was the last man he met where he could see eye to eye. Charlemagne said he met the man, so they knew Genevieve shared some about the Kairos with him.
Charles said he had to go to bed. He would be leaving in the morning, hopefully before this Engelbroad showed up. He appreciated the fact that they would keep an eye on the events and keep Genevieve safe. “Those elf maids are special, but I am more comfortable having a couple of Rhine maidens looking after her.” He glanced at Sukki. “One punch?”
Sukki nodded and kept the tears at bay.
Charles said, “Of course, Genevieve is a bit of a Rhine Maiden herself.”
“Really?” Katie sounded surprised. “She seemed like such a nice and gentle soul.”
“In public,” Charles nodded. “But in private? Fierce.”
Bernard spoke up. “You men are welcome to come to the party for Otto.”
“Bachelor’s party,” Decker called it.
“I don’t do alcohol,” Elder Stow admitted.
“Oh, come on,” Lockhart said. “It is one way to stay close to the women and keep one eye open.”
“So, don’t drink too much,” Lincoln said and winked. Bernard laughed.
Very early the next morning, while men slept all around the room, Lockhart woke to the sound of activity outside, just as the sun touched the horizon. Something felt wrong. Decker got up right away. Apparently, he felt it too. They both found Elder Stow by the window that looked out on the street. When they snuck out of the main room and went to the front door, Bernard joined them. Out on the front steps, Lockhart saw what bothered him.
Charles stood in the open square talking to several men. He was not hard to find, being as tall as he was. Engelbroad could see him, and shoot him, easily. Boston said it looked like Engelbroad got his hands on a ray-gun. Lockhart would not have believed it if they did not run into those Ape spacemen aliens.
“Elder Stow,” he said. “Can you put screens around the open space and make sure Charles is covered?”
Elder Stow got out his screen device. “In a minute. It would be best not to cut men or horses in half.”
Decker snapped the scope to his rifle as Bernard spoke. “You expect this Engelbroad person to show up and attack Charles. I can’t imagine he will get close enough, going through all those men.”
“He won’t have to get close,” Lockhart said as he scanned the crowd. At least he found Waldo.
“A bow or crossbow?” Bernard asked. “A javelin would be too difficult through so many people.”
“There he is,” Decker said, raised his rifle and fired several shots in rapid succession. He heard Nanette yell from the steps of the church.
“Decker. You’ll hit innocent people.”
While he paused, Elder Stow said, “There,” and turned on the device. Engelbroad, who had ducked behind a wagon when Decker opened fire, rushed out from hiding, raised his weapon, and fired straight at Charles who just noticed where Decker’s rifle pointed. The slightly red tinted light from that gun stopped ten feet short of Charles. Charles saw and then looked again at Decker.
“It is not a Decker wall,” Elder Stow said quickly, and Decker lowered his rifle.
Engelbroad did something to the gun and tried again. He had no better luck than the first time.
Decker groused. “If I can’t shoot him, how do we get at him?”
“Maybe we won’t have to,” Lockhart said. He pointed as an Ape shuttle came in for a soft landing on the street outside the screens. By then, a white dress appeared on the far side of the screens. It looked like a wedding dress, but it did not look like Genevieve. The woman had long black hair and looked a little fuller everywhere. Genevieve was as skinny as a runway model and might have modeled in the future. The travelers figured it was probably because of what Katie called the Cinderella diet.
Amphitrite stepped into Genevieve’s life for a bit. She landed and Engelbroad turned on her, but she raised her hand and the Ape weapon disappeared and reappeared in her hand. She shut it down and marched up to the shuttle as the door opened and an Ape came out. She yelled.
“Hiding. What part of stay away from the people did you not understand? How did he get this weapon? I don’t want to know.” She paused when she realized she was babbling just like Genevieve. “Here. Go hide. Stay away from people. Don’t let it happen again.”
She spun around and saw Engelbroad in the hands of Charles’ soldiers. She blinked herself back to the church steps and let Genevieve come home and complain.
“She stretched out my dress.” Genevieve put her hands on her stomach. “Wait. Nobody will notice the belly. Good. I can blame it on Amphitrite. Hey! Real fairy weave should change sizes to fit whoever is wearing it. Must be the cheap stuff. We got any more chicken?” She paused to give Charles her snooty look. He returned an equally funny face. She marched back into the church, followed by her maids and the fairy. The women waved to the men, Boston having her left arm in a sling. Katie shrugged, and the men turned, Elder Stow having turned off his screen device.
“And I can’t see that weapon,” Bernard said, just to confirm.
“Not allowed.” Decker said.
“And those Ape men you just saw?” Lockhart said and Bernard nodded. “You didn’t see them either.” Bernard thought a second before he laughed.
This wedding was a far cry from the wedding Father Aden performed when Margueritte and Roland married. This one went on for three hours. The bishop would not finish. He seemed to want to cover every bit of theology he learned in seminary in one go. Poor Genevieve fell asleep briefly, and nearly fell over. Katie confessed that Genevieve did not sleep a wink all night. Poor Otto. They had to kneel so long, when they could get up, he could not get up. Bernard and the Major Domo of Provence had to help.
Once the service was done, the feasting began. Neither Genevieve nor Otto were to be found, but that was to be expected.
Bernard secured two big riverboats to take the travelers and all their horses and equipment down the Rhine. He said they would wait a week and then head into Francia and Provence to drop off Otto and pick up his contingent of soldiers.
“The way into the Lombard Kingdom will be easier and quicker for us not having to move through the rough mountain passes, even if we have a longer way to go,” he said. “In the meantime, Genevieve assured me before she fell asleep that a week should be more than enough time to make your next destination, wherever that is.”
“North, above Strasbourg,” Lockhart said.
Katie added. “The place is somewhere further north, but not as far as the Selz.”
Bernard knew the area and said the riverboats would travel through the night and get them to Strasbourg in plenty of time.”
Of course, what Alexis told them when Genevieve came the next morning to see them off, driving up in a beautiful Cinderella-like carriage, she slept for most of her wedding night and Otto stayed mostly awake, sleeping in the chair some, looking at her and smiling the whole time, or so Otto told her.
“In other words.” Boston just had to say it. “They lived happily ever after.”
Th vikings overrun London and beat back the king of Mercia. Only Wessex stands between them and the conquest of the whole island. The vikings have some alien help. The travelers will have to counter that. Until Monday, Happy Reading.