They untied the three men and Lockhart was the one who named the wounded one. “Engelbroad,” he called the man.
The man coughed and spit. He would not live long. “Engel,” he said. “Engel Bronson, king’s man. I fixed their tank after they crashed. Ungrateful…” He began to cough up some blood. “I strengthened their screens and enhanced their photon canon. I warned them about you, but I see I did not enhance their weapon nearly enough.” He had to stop talking. He moaned and seemed unable to stop the bleeding. “A mistake I will not make again,” he said, and it was the last thing he said.
Meanwhile, the Ape commander asked Kerga what he would do with the Eater bodies. “Bury them, like the Christians,” Kerga said. “They do not deserve the flames. We will give them a good Christian burial, and as they say, may God have mercy on their souls.”
“Hey!” Decker shouted. One of the freed men started to scream and ran off. Nanette pulled her wand to stop the man, but Decker lowered Nanette’s hand. “Let him go. I don’t know if we can help him.”
Harrold came to look. “He is Vanlil,” Harrold said. “A man of the mountains. We fought them when I was young. He has no welcome here.”
“Come,” Kerga shouted generally to everyone. “We must celebrate.”
The Ape commander shook his head. “We are under strict instructions not to mingle. Though I do not understand why the Gott-Druk is here.” He stared at Elder Stow.
Lockhart answered. “The Gott-Druk and the Elenar are native to this planet tens of thousands of years ago. They are allowed to visit if they do not draw attention to themselves. I don’t know if that explains it. Lincoln has the database. He could explain it better.”
“This is the world where my people began,” Elder Stow said.
“And another reason why this world is supposed to be off limits to outsiders. The Gott-Druk, The Elenar, the Imuit all began here and keep an eye on this world.”
The Ape commander understood something, anyway. He took his crew back to his ship. They would probably be a while before they lifted off.
The travelers went through their camp and picked up Lincoln, Alexis, Eric and Astrid, and from there they went to the big house to celebrate. That consisted mostly of the men drinking, bragging, and showing how strong, or as Alexis called it, how stupid they could be. The travelers did not stay long. Katie only asked one question to Captain Jarl.
“Where did that third man go?”
“He said nothing the whole time,” Nanette agreed.
“He said he had to take the king’s ship out that evening,” Jarl said. “You might still catch a glimpse of the sail, but he said he had to get back and report to the king. Now that Engel died, it fell on him to bring the bad news.”
“Come on,” A man interrupted. “They are sending Engel off in old man Knute’s ship. The old man will have to make another ship for when he dies, if he ever dies.”
Katie insisted on witnessing a real Viking funeral. Tony and Nanette went with her, but Lockhart took the others back to the camp.
Kirstie arrived the very next morning. She started out happy to see her friends. She hugged her son, Soren, and added a hug for his friend Hodur. She hugged Inga and introduced her husband Wilam to the group. “Wilam is from Danelaw.” Boston stood the whole time turning her toe in the dirt and trying to be patient. But at last, Kirstie opened her arms wide and yelled, “Boston,” though Boston was only a few feet away.
Boston grinned a true elf grin, and Wilam came close to matching it on his human face. “I started to think you forgot me,” Boston said.
“Never,” Kirstie responded and gave an extra squeeze before she let go. “So, what have you all been doing while waiting for me?” she asked. “Inga’s note talked about, murders? It was rather vague.”
“Flesh Eaters,” Lockhart got her complete attention and he told her the story, beginning with their arrival, and ending with Engel’s funeral. Kirstie’s face turned more and more sour as he talked. “The Ape warship moved out a few hours ago,” he said. Then he told her in the end that Engel, the king’s man was Engelbroad, physicist and servant of the Masters in Genevieve’s Day, and Kirstie let out a war cry.
“That is it. My life is over. Bieger?” she asked Inga who nodded. “He will report to the king quick enough. They have been looking for me, for the Kairos since I was a teenager. Now they will know who I am and where I am and have proof.”
“We can move to Northumbria,” Wilam suggested. “They will never find you.”
Kirstie shook her head. “Can’t. Not yet. I have to get all the pieces of a crashed ship, and a tank, and all the bodies and weapons to the Avalon isles and off this earth. I have to help these people move on in their journey. It is a good thing you stayed here. Much of the inland road you would have to follow is hardly suitable for horses, much less a wagon. I have to think about that. Then I have to scour the mountainsides for Flesh Eater survivors and get rid of them. They can be worse than Bluebloods, and they breed like rabbits. God, I sound like Genevieve.”
“How can we help?” Inga and Katie asked more or less at the same time.
Kirstie put a hand to her head. “Alexis, got any aspirin?”
The following morning, first thing in the morning, Kirstie made the travelers get up and saddle up, prepared to move. The sky turned overcast, but the rain had the kindness to stay away. Besides Wilam, Inga, Eric, and Astrid, Kirstie’s son Soren, his friend Hodur, and Hilde, who was both Hodur’s and Eric’s mother was there. She was always kind enough to be like a mother to Soren when Kirstie was away. Kirstie instructed them all, sternly.
“The gate will stay active for a bit after the travelers go through. Do not follow them under any circumstances, and do not let anyone else follow them. The travelers belong in the future, and they are trying to get home, but anyone else who goes through the time gate will age as many years as they advance through time. That could be fifty or more years all at once. Soren, you would become a wrinkled old man of sixty without having lived any of the years in-between. All of your friends would be lost to you, and who know where you might end up. Probably in the desert where it never rains.
Kirstie looked up. The sky began to produce a wet mist. It would surely begin to rain shortly.
“But how are you going to move the time gate to us?” Sukki asked.
“Amphitrite has agreed to help this one time,” Kirstie said. “Pardon me Wilam.”
“All right,” Wilam smiled, and he smiled for Boston who he knew to be an elf. Boston returned the smile.
“Amphitrite?” Astrid asked. She did not understand what Kirstie was talking about.
“The goddess,” Eric told her and lowered his eyes out of respect.
“But… where is she?” Astrid asked, even as Kirstie went away so Amphitrite could take her place. Kirstie wore her armor—the armor of the Kairos which automatically adjusted to Amphitrite’s size and shape. Astrid’s eyes got big, and she quickly dropped her face as she shut her eyes, tight. Hilde gave a knowing look to Hodur and Soren. She glanced at Eric and Inga, who apparently knew all about it, and lowered her eyes as well.
“Lockhart,” Amphitrite spoke. “I will go out to sea to the point where the time gate should appear in this place. It is early morning if not first thing. Please go through quickly. Kirstie has a lot to do before she and Wilam can go anywhere. I cannot say she will get it all done before she is found. You know, I cannot say… Lincoln, don’t you dare look it up. Wilam, please make sure no one follows the travelers.” With that, Amphitrite vanished, leaving a small misty spray in her place, but one that smelled of salt water and the sea.
“Boston and Sukki,” Lockhart said. The time gate appeared literally in front of their faces. Boston and Sukki had taken to going through first. When they did, Soren and Hodur jumped up and shouted.
“Good-bye. Bye.” Inga grabbed Soren and Hilde grabbed Hodur, just to be sure.
As Lockhart and Katie went through, Katie remarked. “Funny to mention the Elenar. We haven’t seen them in a long time.”
Elder Stow, who came behind them said, “Please no,” nice and loud. Then he appeared to think about it and said, “Sorry. What you call a knee-jerk reaction.” Decker laughed.
Tony drove the wagon and Nanette sat beside him on the buckboard. Nanette waved and spoke. “Lovely to meet you all.”
Lincoln and Alexis came last. Lincoln had out the database but waited to say anything. What he actually said when he went through was, “It is hot.” Then he talked to Alexis, Nanette, and Tony while Boston and Katie compared directions on their amulets. Elder Stow, Decker, and Sukki fanned out to get the lay of the land, and Lockhart wondered where they ended up.
“Kirstie does not make it,” Lincoln said. “She dies that year, near as I can tell.”
“She is still quite young,” Nanette objected.
“Thirty-one,” Lincoln agreed. “Don’t tell Boston. She will want to go back and warn her.” He stopped thinking about it when he heard Lockhart shout.
“Lincoln. Where are we?”
The travelers find themselves in North Africa where Yasmina, the Arabian princess is trying to get away from the soldiers who have accused her of murder. Monday, 8.7 Escaping Don’t miss it. Happy Reading