After 1499 A.D. Bavaria
Kairos lifetime 114: Hans of Brementown
The Freiburg Inn filled with folks yelling about matters of faith. Lincoln, having spent the last two days reading, now wanted to tell the others about Hans, the Kairos in that time zone, but it was too noisy, with too many people getting jostled about and too many unauthorized ears around to overhear. Likewise, Sukki merely talked direction in general terms. Being the end of the second day in the time zone, it let her track the Kairos and she saw that he was moving toward them. She could not be sure, though. It appeared to be a lazy movement and not at all like the Kairos was in a hurry.
They sat at a table for six with a chair on each end occupied by Decker and Lincoln. Nanette and Tony sat around Decker. Elder Stow and Lockhart squeezed Lincoln. Katie and Suki faced each other in the middle. They only got that much of a table because they were paying customers at the inn. Most of the people, mostly men, had to stand and argue. The beer flowed liberally.
“Hey,” Decker pushed a man away who would have otherwise banged into the table. Somebody noticed them. Two men grabbed chairs, dumping the occupants of those chairs, and they pulled them up to the corners left and right of Lincoln. Decker looked too intimidating. One man shouted to be heard over the din.
“Are you good Catholics or followers of the heretic, Luther?”
“We came from France,” Lockhart said. “What is going on in the Germanies?” They discussed it a day earlier and Lockhart delivered the line perfectly.
“The Diet of Worms,” the other man said without explaining. Sukki had to cover her giggle. She couldn’t help it. The Diet of Worms struck her as funny.
Katie leaned over and talked to the man who first spoke. “I heard something about that.”
“The emperor and the pope agreed. Luther is a heretic. The people of Freiburg will stick with Rome and the true faith handed down from the apostles. We are driving out the heretics.”
“I heard Luther just wants to reform the church,” Lincoln said. “Where it has gotten off from… The apostles… You know… The Bible and such…” he let his voice fall to a mumble. He had his nose in the database when the other discussed it all. He forgot, but realized he was opening his own can of worms and quieted. Lockhart did not even have to kick him.
Katie continued nice and loud. “We have to tell Lincoln all the time that he should not believe everything he hears.”
Elder Stow interrupted. “Wisdom says he should not say everything he hears. Some might get the wrong impression.” Elder Stow smiled for the big, ugly one that sat beside him. The man just lifted his brows, and Elder Stow revised his thinking. The man, probably ugly to the humans, appeared to have some Neanderthal in his genetic makeup. Elder Stow shrugged in answer to the man’s raised eyebrows. The other man, a shorter man with blond hair and sharp features spoke to Lockhart and Katie.
“I don’t know what he heard, but both the church and the empire have declared Luther a heretic, and that is good enough for me. There is no higher authority on this earth.”
“So, Freiburg is going to stay with Rome?” Lockhart redirected the conversation.
“We will, as soon as we drive out the rest of the heretics,” the man said.
“When was the edict issued?” Katie asked nonchalantly.
“Last month,” the man said. “We are just about in July, I believe.”
“Well, we are good believers here. The French will always stay with Rome, and fight anyone who doesn’t.” Katie concluded with a smile. “Go with God.”
“Yes, Godspeed in cleaning up the town,” Lockhart added, and deliberately turned back to his meal. The two men left slowly, and likely never stopped looking at them.
Katie risked a word to Lincoln. “You know, in our day, back home, comments or even questions about the wrong point of view can get you in trouble. Only here, people will not try to ruin your life. They will just kill you.”
Lockhart smiled. “Do you see? All we do is destroy people’s lives. We have progressed.”
After that, only Nanette, whispering to Decker, asked something worth overhearing.
“What is it going to take to get Lincoln to keep his mouth closed?”
“The loss of his tongue, maybe,” Decker answered with a straight face.
In the morning, the travelers left Freiburg behind and climbed the road through the Black Forest that went up into the hills. Tony chewed on a piece of rye bread as Nanette spoke softly.
“Three days into this time zone and nothing bad has happened.”
“I know,” Tony said. “It has Lincoln nervous.” He nodded ahead of them to where Lincoln rode, Lincoln’s head darting left and right like he worried about what might be hidden among the trees.
“I would think there ought to be at least one lifetime of the Kairos where nothing terrible is going on,” she said. “Even the Kairos can’t live in perpetual terror. I would think that would be very unhealthy.”
“Quiet,” Tony said. “You are going to get Lincoln blaming you for jinxing us.” Nanette laughed and Tony continued. “Actually, I asked about that. Apparently, Hans, the Kairos in this time period, lives many happy years running a candy shop in Switzerland.”
“But we are in Germany, not in Switzerland.”
“Yes. Well, he was born in Bremen. Apparently, a young woman from Zurich traveled with her merchant father to the Dutch coast where he traded for cocoa, among other things from the new world. He ran into some trouble, got killed, and the young woman got stuck in the north with no way to get home. Hans, and some others, got roped into escorting the young woman back to Switzerland. I don’t imagine he was hard to convince. It was one way to escape the killing going on around him.”
“So, he is escorting a young girl to Switzerland?” Nanette asked.
Tony nodded, but he said nothing as a dozen men walked from the woods, five or six men on each side of the road, and three in front blocked the way. They carried matchlocks, ready to be fired. Tony recognized the short blond one from the inn. Nanette recognized the big ugly one, and those two seemed to be in charge. Tony drew his handgun and pulled Ghost close to his horse. Nanette drew her wand. Lincoln put away his database and pulled his handgun as well.
Lockhart, up front, switched on his watch communicator. He spoke to the three not in the immediate group, Decker and Elder Stow out on the wings, and Sukki on the point. “Listen. We have visitors, about a dozen. Don’t respond. Just listen.” He left his wristwatch communicator turned on. Any conversation with the highwaymen might echo a bit through the wristwatch communicators the others wore, but hopefully, Decker, Sukki, and Elder Stow would hear what was going on.
Lockhart spoke first to the blond. “Did our conversation not satisfy you? Even if you think we are heretics, we have left your town, which is what you said you wanted.”
The blond man laughed softly and shook his head. “I don’t care about that. If we are lucky, the Catholics and Protestants will beat each other senseless. Too many survived the plague, drought, famine, little ice age, and everything else thrown at them in the last two hundred years. A good world war should bring people down another notch.”
“Does the word “Masters” mean anything to you?” Katie asked. She and Lockhart had their hands down by their own handguns and got prepared to draw them at the first opportunity.
The blond man’s face basically said, yes, but the big, ugly one spoke. “Right now, you have gold and silver, horses and weapons. We will have these things.”
“What is that echo?” the blond finally asked, but word came through the communicators.
“Breaker,” Decker said. “I have them in sight.”
“Same,” Elder Stow said. “Hopefully, I won’t set the forest on fire.”
The big ugly one reacted. He pointed at Lincoln and shouted. “We have weapons.” With a bit less volume, he added, “Shoot him.”
Several things happened at once.
Nanette raised her wand to point at the sky, and all of the matchlock rifles and pistols pointed up and discharged harmlessly into the upper branches of the trees, thus making them useless until they could be reloaded. Lincoln shot one man. Decker quickly shot two from behind. Elder Stow shot one, and Tony shot another. Lockhart and Katie drew their handguns. The men drew their swords and long knives.
“Get them,” the blond yelled as he took off running up the road. Big ugly and the other man in front followed. Katie had to turn to the side to shoot the man who had his sword pointed at her. Lockhart had to turn to the other side, as Lincoln shot a second man and got a knife in his thigh. Lockhart shot the knife man. One man tried to grab at Ghost. Ghost kicked out and probably killed the man as the kick caved in the man’s ribs. Tony shot the man in any case, and Decker arrived and shot the final man.
All eyes turned to the front and the three men running away. Big ugly and the blond split and crashed off into the woods as a heat ray came from down the road and caught the man in the middle. The man became charcoal. Sukki walked up, her horse trailing from behind. Elder Stow also arrived and shouted to Sukki.
“Hold it there, daughter. Don’t chase them.” Sukki looked left toward the blond man and right where the big, ugly man went, and then looked again at Elder Stow who finished his thought. “Not worth the risk of setting the whole woods on fire.”
Nanette got down to look at Lincoln’s leg. Elder Stow met her there. Elder Stow pulled out a device and waved it around the thigh. The thigh went numb as the knife seemingly pulled itself from his leg. Nanette laid her hands on the wound, and the wound stopped bleeding and pulled itself together. Nanette was not a healer like Alexis, but Alexis taught her some and she had some natural skill, as long as she had her magic. After bandaging the leg, Lincoln himself said they needed to move on from there. They took it slow.