Avalon 8.9 Metal Men, part 1 of 4

A whole episode this week in just 4 posts, with posts Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Enjoy.

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After 1045 A.D. Normandy

Kairos 107: Blacksmith John.

Recording …

Boston and Sukki sat uphill, among the rocks, and spied on the train of soldiers.  Sir Bernard, alias Budman, and Sir Hubert, alias Hoffen, both servants of the Masters from Genevieve’s day led the procession.  A dozen soldiers on horseback who appeared well turned out followed the knights.  The girls could tell the soldiers knew their business by the way they kept their horses in line.  A covered wagon followed them all.

“Elder Stow’s scan shows an alien in the wagon and a bunch of electronic equipment,” Boston whispered, though it was unlikely they would have been heard or noticed unless they shouted.

Sukki nodded to say she heard that.  “I wish we could see inside the wagon.” Sukki spoke in her softest voice.  She was still learning to whisper.

Boston nodded in return, but kept her eyes trained on the procession.  One man followed the wagon.  They could not see his face well since he hid it with his fancy hat and a veil of some sort.  They assumed he wore the veil because of the dust on the road, but they heard in several villages where they stopped that it was the Baron Edgar of Vilmont, an estate south of Rouen.  They followed him for two days, this being the third. They expected to reach the river Dives in the afternoon, the place where William was gathering his army for the invasion of England.

“I bet Baron Edgar is Englebroad, alias Engel Bronson, servant of the Masters,” Boston said.

“No bet,” Sukki said.  She had learned not to bet on something that Boston felt sure enough about to bet on. Boston was usually right.  “Come on,” she said, but waited.

Boston hesitated only to make sure the three riders behind the baron and the forty-four men marching in careful order behind the riders were all still there along with the three ox-drawn wagons that followed them all.  Then they went back to rejoin the others.

“We need to just do away with them,” Decker argued.

“We don’t know what their plans are,” Katie said.  “Worse may happen if we don’t know what they intend.”

“Or what they have up their sleeve,” Lockhart supported his wife.

“A wagon full of electronic equipment is troublesome, not to mention an unknown species of alien.” Elder Stow admitted.

Lincoln felt inclined to agree with Decker.  “The Kairos has told us any servants of the Masters have to be considered enemy combatants and need to be removed from this life.”

“Granted,” Katie said.  “But the alien makes that a problem.  They may have it restrained in some way or be controlling it somehow.”

“Or it may be a prisoner and under duress,” Alexis said.

“Elder Stow?” Decker turned to the Gott-Druk.

“No.  Only a small energy signal,” Elder Stow confessed.  “Maybe photon based so not putting out ambient radiation, but only enough for a hand weapon or two.  Nothing that may explode to any extent to be concerned about.  No bombs detected.”

Tony, who had not taken a side thought to point out one thing.  “But your scanner has not proved one hundred percent.  I know.  You call it a toy.  But in the last time zone, you thought a brigade of oncoming Wolv might be a herd of deer.”

“True enough,” Elder Stow admitted.  “But it is very good at reading energy signatures and metal content.  It is honestly a survey tool not the best at reading disparate life signs.”

“This isn’t getting us anywhere,” Lockhart said.  “We will take care of the servants of the Masters, but first we have to figure out what to do about the alien and whatever equipment it is carrying.”  He turned to Boston and Sukki as they rode up.  “What did you see?”

“They are still plodding along on the main road and should stop for lunch in an hour or so, to get into town just before sundown.  If we hurry, we should be able to use this cutoff road and get into town well ahead of them.  That should give us time to get settled and be ready when they arrive.  I figure that is the plan.”

“The town is probably full of soldiers,” Decker said.

“Getting settled might not be so easy,” Katie agreed with that.

“So, let’s get moving.  The sooner we get there, the more time we have to work things out.”

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They arrived in the town of Dives and found the soldiers were just beginning to gather so it was not overwhelmed with several thousand men at the moment.  The rooms at the inns in town, including, and maybe especially the inns by the docks were already full or booked, but one innkeeper had a big yard by the beach and the sea which he gladly rented to the travelers so they could put up their tents.  He also sold them plenty of feed for Ghost and the horses, of course at premium prices.  He even had firewood at a price, but Sukki calculated it would cost more to buy their own food and wood and cook themselves than it would to eat whatever the inn cooked for supper that evening.

“Not to mention the work involved in cooking it for ourselves,” Alexis said.  The women agreed.  The men needed to take them out to eat while they were in town.

That afternoon, Boston told everyone that the Kairos would be there tomorrow, probably sometime in the morning.

People understood, and as Katie and Decker both looked at Lockhart, he said, “Unfortunately, depending on what we find out when the baron and his knights get here, we may have to act before the Kairos can be told.”   It was a concession to both sides, that they would try and find out what Baron Edgar had in mind, but by necessity, they might have to act sooner rather than later.  The alien and the electronic equipment they carried was the wild card in this whole thing.

As it turned out, the baron, Sir Bernard and Sir Hubert came strolling into town around sundown with three cavalry soldiers and the alien wagon.  They had prearranged rooms at one of the inns in town and a space for the wagon in the barn.  Apparently, they also prearranged a place on the edge of town for their men to camp, and they met a ship’s captain at their inn.

Alexis and Boston put on glamours to look like a mother and her daughter, with Boston taking special care to cover her red hair.  They went with Elder Stow, a grandfather looking sort of man in his glamour and gray hair and had supper that evening in that inn.  Grandfather had some local coppers to spend so he did not attract attention.  Boston eavesdropped on the baron’s conversation.  Alexis fingered her wand in the hope that she did not have to use it.  Elder Stow kept trying to get a better reading on whatever was in the barn.  He tried to look at his scanner in a subtle way, but he was not very subtle.

“I’ll tell you.”  The ship’s captain raised his voice.  Boston hardly needed elf ears to hear the man.  “I heard ships are coming from as far away as the Baltic.  They all want a piece of English loot and figure William has the best chance of taking the prize.”

That was about the best piece of information she came away with that evening, so after a supper of tough and rubbery chicken, she suggested they leave and try the barn.  They found two soldiers guarding the wagon.  Elder Stow realized that getting close did not help.  He could already identify the quantity and type of metal used down to the molecular level and got a good reading on the alien but could not tell what it looked like.  It seemed all that metal interfered with his scan.  Boston was not for giving up, so over Alexis’ objections, she talked to the guards.

“So, what is in the wagon?”  She pulled her top down to show a bit of breast, swayed a bit as she walked, and smiled to show her good teeth and bright eyes.  “It must be terribly important to be guarded by two such fine men.”

The men were stupid, as only men can be.  They returned her smile and opened up.  “A surprise present for Duke William.” one said.  “But you did not hear it from me.”

“Don’t honestly know,” the other said.  “But it is an animal of some kind.”

“Maybe a hunting dog,” one suggested.

“Maybe a wild and dangerous animal, like a bear or a lion.” the other said, trying to provoke a reaction out of Boston.  “It is a meat eater, whatever it is.”

“They wouldn’t keep an animal like that in the wagon.  At least not without a cage.  Besides, we would hear it.”

“It could be a cub.”

Boston regained their attention by merely leaning into the guard.  She patted his cheek and smiled the whole time.  “So, you haven’t seen it,” she said.

“No one has,” one guard admitted.

“That is why it is a secret,” the other guard said. “I think only the baron and the doctor know what it is.”

“Doctor?”  Alexis heard the word and asked, even as a man climbed out of the wagon.  She saw the man and turned away before the doctor got a good look at her.  She was less concerned about Boston who had to change her appearance considerably to appear like a sixteen-year-old Norman girl.  But she turned Elder Stow away so the doctor would only see him from the back and hopefully would not recognize hm.

Boston saw the man but did not break her stride.  She said good-bye to the guards, thanked them for being so sweet, and left them for the doctor to yell at them.  Back at the campground, Alexis got to name the man.

“Doctor Theobald, or Theopholus, or whatever name he has in this age.”

Boston said now she was curious.  She wanted to go invisible and go back to see what was in the wagon.  Elder Stow even volunteered to go with her, but everyone said no.  At that point, since the baron did not seem to be doing anything in the night, they also needed to get rested and tell the Kairos when he arrived, hopefully in the morning.