Avalon 8.11 Tax Collectors and Other Thieves, part 6 of 6

Helen and Milch rode out front, with Milch regularly looking at Helen, and Helen trying to keep her mouth closed and not look at Milch.  They started on the road to Milford Bridge, but soon turned on to a hunter’s trail that led to Pleasley north and east of Estreide Bridge and the king’s lodge.  Lockhart and Katie rode in the center, their guns close to hand and their eyes, ears, and senses open to whatever or whoever might wander into their area.  Lady Milpryd and Will brought up the rear.  They rode with a little conversation but relatively quiet, pleasant, and like they might be out for a Sunday afternoon ride.

Helen stopped, so they all stopped.  Something rattled the bushes.  Katie raised her rifle but kept the safety on.  A badger came to the path.  It paused to grunt at the people and horses before it finished its walk across the path and disappeared in the bushes on the other side.  Helen leaned back.

“I’m cheating, you know,” she said.  “Lady Alice is giving the directions from Avalon.  There is a need ahead and I hope we don’t step on it.”  She started moving again and concentrated on keeping her mouth closed.

After a short way, the path narrowed so they had to travel in single file.  Helen got followed by Milch, Lockhart, Katie, Lady Milpryd, and Will, who brought up the rear.  Helen stopped again on the edge of a small clearing.  She looked back once at Milch and said, “I’ll be back.”  Then she looked forward and said no more.

Milch, Lockhart, and eventually Katie squeezed around Helen’s horse to get to the clearing and watch. Lady Milpryd and Will had to keep back because there was not any more room.  They saw a flat, white blob of puss on the ground, with a brown spot in the center, and a dozen or more lines or maybe tentacles coming out from the blob.  It looked like some giant walked along and spit phlegm on the ground as he walked by.

Milch gasped when he looked, though he hardly noticed the blob on the ground.  The most beautiful lady he had ever seen stood beside the blob and appeared to be staring at it, like she was studying it or something.  The dark spot in the center of the blob appeared to pulsate, almost undulate, but Milch ignored it.  Sight of the lady brought tears of joy to his eyes, but at the same time, the thought that she might look up and see him terrified him.  He feared if he looked in her eyes, he would be found naked and be lost in the darkness, alone for all eternity.  Surely, this was an angel of God.  Surely, he needed Jesus to save him.

The woman looked up and spoke to Katie and Lockhart who knew her as the goddess Danna, mother goddess of all the Celtic gods.  “Take Helen back to the camp.  There is nothing you can do here.  I will talk to you later.”  the woman raised her arms and she, and the blob, vanished.

Katie reached out and took the reins to Helen’s horse.  Helen did not object.  In fact, Helen said nothing, and Katie checked regularly to make sure she stayed on her horse.  Lockhart turned around and Will led the way back to the camp.  Milch brought up the rear with much to think about.  They arrived in time for supper, but Will took them to the barn.  He knew they had to take care of the horses first.

Milch got excited when they got to the barn.  He began to babble and talk about how beautiful and amazing the lady was.  He used lots of words.  He kept saying to Helen, didn’t she think so?  Helen made no answer while Katie unsaddled Helen’s horse after her own.  Will tended to Lady Milpryd’s horse while the lady kept shaking her head.

“I have never heard Helen be so quiet,” she said in a worried voice.  She checked.  “She is still breathing.”

“I’m fine.  I’m okay,” Helen said in Helen’s voice, but it seemed to Katie that the girl just mouthed the words without any meaning behind them.  Katie had to take Helen’s arm and direct her to the supper table.  Then the girl hardly ate, and only when Katie or Lady Milpryd said something.

Robin sat beside Marian at the head table and stood at one point to say the men would have to leave Maunsfeld in the morning.  “Surely, the sheriff has figured out where we are, and it is never our intention to put good people in danger. But first thing, we have a wedding to attend.  Milton and Nanette will be married, and our new friend and spiritual guide Friar Tuck has agreed to do the ceremony.  Let us toast the happy couple.”

Lincoln nudged Lockhart and said, “Milton?”

Lockhart tried to keep a straight face.  “Colonel Decker if you want to stay alive,” he joked.

Shortly after that, Helen came back to herself, or perhaps switched places with herself and promptly ate enough for three people between sentences.

“She was a Gollum.  Almost no initiative.  I will have to work on that because I will have to do that more and more as I move into the future. Sometimes it isn’t wise in these days to trade places in time right in front of certain eyes.  People don’t need to know.  People write things down and record things these days.”

Helen got up and made Katie slide down so she could sit between her and Lockhart.  She lowered her voice while she kept talking and eating, starting with her second plate full.

“That blob thing was the Kargill.  Not a Kargill, but the Kargill.  It is one being spread across a thousand solar systems already.  No.  They are not like the Achaean colony intelligence.  They were individual one-celled animals… mostly animals who increased in intelligence when they gathered together.  Something like telepathy, I guess.  But no. The Kargill is a multi-celled being whose cells can act independently but remain connected even as far away as a billion light years.  I think they are all brain cells… as far as I know.”  She shouted to the cook.  “Frypan.”  she held up her plate for thirds.

“You are going to get fat,” Frypan told her.  Helen gave him her snooty look and got up.  She grabbed Milch by the head and put her lips briefly against his.

“Thanks for going with me and protecting me,” she said and went back to sit down again to start round three.  “And I may get fat, too.”

The next morning, Friar Tuck, that is, Father Tucker said the man’s full name.  Lieutenant Colonel Milton Eugene Decker.”  Lincoln could not prevent his smile.  Lockhart struggled to keep a straight face.

Robin and Marian appeared the couple everyone expected.  Marian had been betrothed to Baron William Wendenal, Sheriff of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and the Royal Forests, but that marriage would never take place.  Lady Milpryd cried, she said, for thinking about Helen getting married.  Sukki got teary-eyed thinking she was the last sister to remain unmarried.  Boston and Alexis nudged each other and pointed at Milch who never took his eyes off Helen, though she never looked in his direction.

After the wedding, Robin Hood and his core of men, with Friar Tuck and the women prisoners, who were Marian, Helen, and their ladies, moved off to meet up again in Oxton, on the other side of Sherwood in two weeks.  The travelers said good-bye and crossed the Milford bridge and went into Derbyshire.  From there, they turned south and found the time gate somewhere near Canterbury.

On their last night in England while they sat around the campfire, Tony said. “Well, at least we know how the story turned out.”

“Not necessarily,” Katie countered.  “We have seen any number of things happen that are not exactly like in the history books.”

Elder Stow agreed.  “I have a Gott-Druk database, like yours, but I cannot tell you how wrong it has been time and time again.”

“Lincoln is the only one with an accurate history,” Alexis said.  “His database was downloaded from the Heart of Time itself.  I believe Father had something to do with that.”  She stirred the fire vigorously.

“You worried about your father?” Sukki asked, kindly.

“No.  My brother, Roland.  I accept that both my father and brother may be dead, but it is possible both may be alive and waiting for us to return.  But mostly, I am worried about Boston.  She said, seeing Margueritte and Genevieve marry was hard enough, but now Decker and Nanette really pushed her buttons.  She wants to be happy for the couple, but she misses Roland so much she can hardly stand it.”

“She said she wanted to check on the horses,” Sukki said.

“She is off sulking,” Alexis countered.

“Yes,” Lincoln said as he pulled his head from the database and tried to catch up with the conversation.  “Where are Decker and Nanette.”

“Off being married,” Alexis said.

“But they are married now…” Lincoln said, before he understood.  “Oh, you mean off being married.”  He returned to the database.

************************

MONDAY

We come to the last episode in Avalon, Season 8: Aliens.  Episode 8.12, Abomination brings the cyborgs and genetically enhanced super soldiers into conflict with the travelers, the Kairos, and Marco Polo caught in between.  Until Then, Happy Reading.

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