After 883 A.D. Norway
Kairos 104: Kirstie, Shield Maiden
The time gate sat just off the shore beyond Bristol. Lincoln complained. “If Elgar stayed in Winchester, the time gate might have been in the swamps of Somerset, or maybe in Devon, but on land.
“It might not be so bad.” Sukki stayed positive as she and Boston got ready to test the gate.
“Yeah,” Boston agreed. “Kirstie is a Viking. She might be sailing across the Atlantic. Too bad we had to kill so many of the local Vikings.”
“Boston,” Sukki objected. She did not need the reminder. She did some of the killing and found it a traumatic experience.
“Sorry,” Boston said. “Sorry.”
“Just see where the water gate leads and come right back,” Kate told them. “No playing around.”
“I understand,” Sukki said, and Boston nodded while she walked her horse out to where the water came up to her horse’s withers. Her saddle got soaked, and the water felt cold on her legs, but Boston had the fairy weave she wore as thick and waterproof as she could make it.
They came out in a bay—a skinny bay surrounded by high mountains and cliffs, near a dock where people worked. A Viking longboat sat alongside the dock, and the men and women who worked on the boat took a minute to notice. The water was calm, but deep, so the horses had to swim, and it felt very cold, almost ice cold.
One man shouted as Boston, Sukki, and their horses struggled to swim to shore. Another man shouted. A woman said something and pointed. Several men raced down the shore from the dock to indicate where the horses might find some footing. Several people ran into the village.
Boston had to turn her heading. Sukki already had Cocoa moving in that direction. They quickly reached a spot where the shivering horses could climb out of the water, even as men came up with blankets. The men went straight to the horses, to rub them down and warm them. The few women covered Boston and Sukki in blankets and told them to walk it off.
“Keep walking until your legs don’t feel like they are about to fall off,” one woman said., but it was not so bad. The fairy weave naturally pulled the wet and cold from their legs and expelled it. Fairy weave was a marvel.
“We have to fetch the others,” Boston told the woman beside her.
“More?” the woman asked, not really questioning the idea that there were more. She looked at the old man who came over to question the strange women but seemed get some sort of message. He backed off and gathered a half-dozen more men to stand on the shore and wait for the others. Boston ignored that whole exchange, having the others on her mind.
“Sukki, are you ready to fly?” Boston asked and Sukki nodded. Besides the fairy weave, Doris, the sea goddess, one of the goddesses who changed Sukki from a Gott-Druk—a neanderthal—to homo sapiens, gifted Sukki with pressurized skin where the cold water did not affect her nearly as much as a normal human. She could also hold her breath much longer than anyone else and go into the deepest parts of the ocean without being crushed. She could also fly, but that was thanks to one of the other goddesses.
“I hope we won’t be long,” Sukki said and lifted into the air while the men and women on the shore gawked and some shouted. She went to where the time gate still stood activated and flew closer to the sea than necessary, but just to make sure she got through.
“Inga.” The woman who stood beside Boston introduced herself.
“Boston.” Boston reciprocated, and sat on the shore staring at the time gate
“Kirstie is not here,” Inga said, flatly, and sat down beside Boston.
“I know,” Boston responded. She looked at the woman and had to ask. “Why did you think to mention her/”
“Two reasons. First, you appeared out of nowhere and plopped into the fjord. Only Kirstie would know someone who can appear out of nowhere. Besides, your friend can fly. Second, I feel there is something different about you. I have been to Avalon, you know.”
Boston understood. She could not deny herself. “I’m an elf,” she admitted, and Inga merely nodded that she understood. “My friends are all human, mostly. Elder Stow is an ancient one. Sukki used to be an ancient one, but she got turned into a human several hundred years ago by a handful of goddesses. They made her human but got a little carried away. They gifted her with all kinds of abilities, like the ability to fly.”
“I see,” Inga said. “But you said hundreds of years ago? Where are you from?”
“The future,” Boston said. “I probably shouldn’t talk about it.”
Inga looked confused, so Boston explained a little more. “We started on Avalon eleven or twelve hundred years in the future. We traveled into the past through a thing called the Heart of Time.”
Inga’s eyes got big. “I saw the great crystal. Kirstie said it remembered all of the past, but I did not know it had such magic.”
Boston shook her head. “Not magic. Like magic, but I think it is more a natural device, in a way. Certain crystals have the capacity for massive memory storage…” Boston stopped. “Sorry. I’m an electrical engineer. You don’t need the specifications, which you probably would not understand anyway. Besides, as an elf, my inclination is to say, yes, it is deep and mysterious magic, and make a spooky face, and grin.” Boston grinned.
Inga laughed. “I believe I understand just fine.”
“Oh,” Boston pointed. Elder Stow and Sukki came through the time gate. They appeared to be carrying the wagon, but Boston knew they were merely directing it to the shore. Elder Stow had it floating along above the water, lifted by a half-dozen discs tuned to his flotation device.
Elder Stow collected the discs and flew back through the time gate before he could be introduced. Sukki simply said, “Be right back,” and she followed Elder Stow through the air and vanished over the water. Inga watched. She squinted but could not say how the magic was done, or perhaps more accurately, where the people went. Boston took a second to look at the five men and two women who stood on the shore. They seemed to be patiently waiting for something. She wondered if maybe they were some sort of elder council. The rest of the crowd stood a few feet behind the council.
“Kirstie is on her way back to the village,” Inga said. “I expect her in a week or two.”
“That should be interesting,” Boston said. “Maybe we can stay here for a week or two and wait for her. That would beat having to chase her all over the roads. You do have roads?”
Inga said they did. “But they are not especially good for a big wagon like yours. Our road is mostly the sea.”
“So, would you mind if we stay here for a while?” Boston asked.
“That depends on how much you eat,” Inga smiled. She did not have the lips for a good elf grin.
“Like an elf,” Boston answered with a straight face before the two laughed softly.
“There is one thing,” Inga said, and lowered her voice in a way that got all of Boston’s attention. “There have been three unexpected deaths this season. All three were found in the wilderness, outside the village itself, where no one else was around. We found the bones, twice. The third time, men rushed into the woods on the hill and must have scared away whatever it was. We found Earika, a young wife and mother. She had not been eaten like the others, but all of the blood had been drained from her body.”
“Flesh Eaters.” Boston voiced her suspicion just before the others began to come through the time gate.