Sukki stopped at the top of the last hill and looked at her amulet. The Kairos was coming down from the northeast. He appeared to be following the river. Sukki shifted her eyes to the valley below and the water that made a thin blue line in the distance. Now that they found the Danube, they would turn from traveling due east and follow the river, which ran to the northeast. In this way, they should run right into Hans. Sukki thought it was a good thing Lincoln had the database and knew the details of the route Hans took to get from Bremen to Zurich. Sadly, it was skimpy on the details of what exactly happened along that route.
Sukki reigned back to go tell the others she found the river, and the village that sat where the river and road met. The village looked peaceful enough. Hopefully, they could find a place to stop for the night. Lincoln got badly cut, even if he said it was not so bad after Elder Stow and Nanette worked on it. All the same, he could use the rest.
Back in the group, Nanette started whispering again. “We are headed downhill and out of the Black Forest. The Danube can’t be far away, and we haven’t run into any monsters or creatures, or anything like the Brothers Grimm described in their tales.”
“Just some highway robbers.” Tony smiled at that thought. “No Wolv this time,” he said. “I did not know you were an aficionado of fairy tales. Anyway, as I recall, most of those creatures would be counted as belonging to the Kairos, and they would know who we are and would not hurt us. You know, like fairy godmothers and seven dwarfs.”
“Witches,” Nanette said.
“Like yourself?” Tony teased.
“Not funny,” Nanette objected. “Alexis was very clear about that back in the days of Marco Polo before she left us. From then until I lost my magic again, I would have to be careful with my magic, especially in Europe. These are the days of witch hunts and burning people at the stake. Even for a hundred years after the magic goes away, like what happened in Salem.”
Tony agreed. “I never studied much about witch hunts and witch trials. I mostly studied a thousand years of Rome, the republic and empire, and some Byzantine after the 440s. I read some about what followed in the west, like the Franks, Huns, Vandals, and all those Goths, but it was mostly social and political reading, not really on daily life in the Middle Ages, and certainly not on the church—evangelism, heresy, and all that. I understand the reformation that is going on around us. Believe it or not, I agree with a lot of the reformers, even if I remain Catholic in my faith. I think by our day, many of those reforms got into the Catholic Church as well, whether Rome admits it or not.”
“They burned Johanne at the stake,” Nanette reminded him.
Tony nodded in agreement again before he clarified his thoughts. “No doubt many, if not most of the witch trials had nothing to do with magic or witches. They were social or politically motivated, or mostly faith motivated, like people charged with heresy of one kind or another. The church recognized they made a big mistake condemning Joan of Arc, and the Salem witch trials are now condemned, but most supposed witches are still on the books as condemned, whatever the reality.”
“Like William Tyndale,” Nanette said.
“Who?” Tony questioned the name.
“His heresy was translating the Bible into English,” Nanette said. “That’s it. They strangled him to death and then they burned his already dead body at the stake.”
“In the Black Forest?” Tony asked.
Nanette shook her head. “England, or maybe the low countries. I am not sure.”
“When was that?”
“About this time period,” Nanette said. “I am not exactly sure.”
“Didn’t Professor Fleming talk about that?” Tony asked.
Nanette looked down on mention of their old professor. Tony had been his student, and Nanette had been his Administrative Assistant as Decker called her. “No. I remember that from a story I heard in church.”
“Baptist church,” Tony confirmed, and Nanette nodded as they stopped moving. Sukki came back from the front. Tony and Nanette had to strain a little to hear. Nanette looked around Tony and saw Elder Stow close to the road on one side. He appeared to be staring into his scanner device. She looked the other way but did not see Decker. Decker appeared to be too deep in the woods, riding faithfully along their flank.
“This is Inga, my friend,” Sukki said.
Sukki pointed to a young woman that rode a horse beside her. Nanette wondered where the woman came from, and what did Sukki mean by calling her a friend? Nanette looked again at Tony. He put a silly smile on his face, but he did not otherwise appear to be home. He looked enchanted, and Nanette saw a brown mist try to get at her. She quickly pulled her wand and batted the mist away while Sukki talked.
“We need to follow Inga. She has a barn where we can stay until she decides what the Masters wish to do to us.”
“Follow,” Inga said. “Follow me,” and Nanette put her fingers in her ears to clean them out. Inga’s voice carried the bewitching.
“Of course,” Katie said, with a shake of her head.
“We are all friends here,” Lockhart added.
Nanette shouted. “No!” She caused a whirlwind to spin around Inga, like a mini tornado. It picked up the witch and transported the witch and her horse miles behind the travelers where it dropped them in among the trees. She honestly did not care if they crashed into the trees, got crushed, or survived, though she imagined the witch would ensure their survival.
“What was that?” Elder Stow asked as he came to the road with his weapon in his hand.
“The witch,” Nanette said as she turned to Tony and shouted, “Snap out of it.” She caught her breath, paused, and focused the way Alexis taught her. Her magic was not golden like Alexis, or fiery orange like Boston. Her magic appeared green, like newborn leaves, and it came from her to set the others free.
It barely touched Katie before she shook her head again and said, “I’m free. Zoe said as an elect I had some natural resistance to magic. I just got caught by surprise.”
Decker rode up and asked what happened. Elder Stow and Katie explained, and together they opted to ride beyond the village and find a defensible spot in the wilderness to camp for the night. Nanette ignored the whole conversation. She concentrated. Sukki came free, followed by Lockhart. Lincoln seemed free, and then Tony shook his own head like Katie and Nanette felt glad. She ran out of strength and concentration.
“That witch was powerful,” she said as she caught her breath.
“Are you okay?” Decker asked.
Nanette nodded and swallowed. “I caught her by surprise and unprepared and sent her miles from here, but I expect she will be back. She mentioned the Masters.”
“I remember,” Katie said. She looked at Lockhart, but he shrugged. Apparently, Lockhart, Sukki, Lincoln, and Tony could not remember anything from the time they were under the spell.
“We should get moving,” Decker said.
“I will set the screens around our camp tonight,” Elder Stow volunteered. “They blocked out other witches, and even the wraith.”
“Lincoln. Are you okay?” Lockhart asked as Sukki started out front.
“Fine. Fine,” Lincoln answered, but he shook his head again and dropped one hand to where he had been stabbed in the thigh. It might not be open, bleeding, or in danger of infection, but the muscles would need time to heal, and it still hurt.
The travelers almost miss the Kairos as he crosses the river and heads for Augsburg. The travelers have to cross the river to head in the same direction, but it seems the witches and plenty of people are all headed for Augsburg, the home of Martin Luther. Until Monday, Happy Reading.