Avalon Pilot part III-8: Bokarus

Roland happily helped Boston into the woods.  Lockhart, Captain Decker and Lieutenant Harper kept their eyes open in case any people escaped the trouble on the plains by wandering in among the trees.  Lincoln kept thinking of things to jot down in his notebook and his wife made sure he did not walk into any trees.  Mingus appeared to be thinking hard about something else and stayed quiet.  Doctor Procter walked out front with his eyes glued to the amulet.  He did walk into a couple of trees.

After a stop for a snack and a chance for Boston to rest, they entered a section of the forest that somehow felt darker and more oppressive than before.

“A bit like walking into a goblin’s lair,” Mingus suggested.  That did not help.

Lockhart figured they were far enough into the trees by then so it was safe to shoulder the shotgun.  He offered to take a turn helping Boston.  Roland seemed reluctant to let go of her and Boston hesitated as well.  But after only a moment’s hesitation, Boston gladly let Lockhart help her, though she felt pretty sure she could have handled it on her own by then.  As they walked, she thought about how she liked having Lockhart’s big arms wrapped around her.  But then, she did not mind Roland’s arms, either.  She felt confused.  Lockhart was supposed to be a father figure—a grandfather figure.  Lockhart did not help matters when he reminded her of his previous life.

“I was married once, you know, and I have a granddaughter that is not much younger than you.”

The forest continued to darken until there came a legitimate reason for the darkness.  The sun got ready to set.  Lockhart called a halt, and though he felt certain the elves and probably Doctor Procter could have continued without trouble in the dark, he thought it best to let everyone get some rest.  Alexis showed signs of being tired, drained from the healing magic she performed on Boston, and Boston was not fully healed despite her playful attitude.

“So, what’s for supper?”  Lincoln asked first.

“Bread-crackers and bread-crackers,” Alexis answered.

“Father, make a fire and give me an hour,” Roland said.

Mingus nodded.  “My son has some talents, too.”

“A hunter?” Boston asked, as Roland disappeared into the dusk of the forest.  Mingus nodded.

“Are you offended?” Alexis wondered.

“Not at all.  I grew up with hunters.  I love a good hunt.  I can skin and cut up a deer and everything.”

“Redneck daughter,” Lockhart smiled.  “Matches her red hair.”

“Good of you to notice.”  Boston smiled right back at him.

When the tents were up and the cut-up deer roasted away, people wandered off for firewood and personal reasons, and perhaps to spend some time alone with their thoughts.  Forty-five hundred BC was a long time ago.  Sixty-five hundred years was a long time to travel.

Boston sat beside Doctor Procter and stared at the fire, her mind contemplating the impossible journey they faced.  When she turned to the man, she imagined Doctor Procter had been unreasonably quiet so far.  Her handheld database proved to be full of information about the various lives of the Kairos, but she imagined Doctor Procter knew a wealth of more intimate information, if she could just learn how to tap into it.

“So how far do we have to go?” she asked, casually.  “Do you know who the next life of the Kairos we will meet?”

The doctor took out his amulet and answered her first question with a look.  “We should easily be there by noon.”  He shook the amulet and then repeated himself.  “Yes, by noon.”

“May I see?” she asked, but when he held the amulet out for her, the first thing she saw was a blackening of his pointer finger.  It looked black all the way to the palm.  “What is that?  It looks blood black.  How did it happen?”

Doctor Procter pulled his hand back, quickly.  “It is just a bruise.  It will be fine.  It must have happened when we were escaping the fight back on the plains of Shinar.  I think someone jammed it.”

“Shouldn’t you let Alexis look at it?  Maybe she can heal it.”  Boston felt amazed at how Alexis had healed her.

“No, it is fine.  Look.”  He wiggled it.  “It is not swollen or anything.  I am sure it will clear up in a day or two.  Besides, healing magic takes a great deal out of a person.  We can’t expect her to heal every cut or scrape or bruised finger.”

“But it looks so dark.  Is that blood?”

“No.  It is fine, really.  Now if you will excuse me, I have some personal business to attend to.”  He got up, smiled, and waddled off.  His old legs looked stiff.

Boston could hardly follow him, but she made a point later of mentioning it to Lockhart, privately.  He also said to do nothing and not tell the others just yet.  He said she should keep an eye on it, but when Doctor Procter came back to the fire, she noticed he made some fairy weave gloves that fit right up beneath his long sleeves.

“I thought I better protect it for a couple of days, just to give it a chance to heal,” he said.

That made sense.  It was probably nothing, so Boston decided not to worry about it.

By four in the morning, a good hour before dawn, Boston heard the crack of a great tree.    Someone yelled.  “Everyone out of the tents, now.  Hurry!”  Boston jumped because the crack sounded very close.  Lieutenant Harper, who shared her tent, helped her, and they ran as well as Boston could.  The tree came down on their tent, and while Boston and the lieutenant were brushed back by some branches, they only got scrapes and cuts like Doctor Procter talked about.

“Boston?”  Lockhart was the first one there.

“You shouted?” the lieutenant asked.

“I woke up early, uncomfortable.  I felt someone needed to be on watch and found Captain Decker had the same feelings.”

“Boston.”  Alexis came running up.  “What is it with you?”  She began to tend their cuts.

“This is not accidental.”  Mingus’ voice came from the far end of the tree.  “The tree is old, but not dead, though what could have ripped it up, roots and all, is beyond me.”

“Is everyone all right?”  Doctor Procter came up last of all.  “What happened here?”  No one answered him.

“Roland, Captain Decker, can you watch the perimeter while we break camp?”  Lockhart asked, and the elf nodded and stepped out among the trees.  The captain simply checked his weapon as Lockhart spoke.  “Lincoln, can you get Boston’s tent out from under the trunk?”

“I’ll do it,” Mingus said.  “It is fairy weave, but it will take some finesse in its present position.”

Lockhart nodded.  “Lincoln, you get scullery.  See what there is for breakfast and be sure the fire is out.  Are you able to travel?”  That last question got directed to the women.  The lieutenant, Boston and Alexis all nodded.

“What about me?” Doctor Procter asked.

“Just get us to the gate before the tower falls and this whole time zone resets, whatever that means.”  Doctor Procter nodded like the women and went to help take down the other tents.

Two hours after sunrise, Alexis screamed.  “A face.”  She pointed.  “There was a face, there, among the leaves.”  Everyone looked, Lockhart and Roland extra close, but they saw no one.

“A face?”  Mingus wondered what his daughter saw.

Alexis took a deep breath.  “It startled me.  A man’s face, I think.”

“Well whoever he was, he is gone now.”  Captain Decker came in from behind the bushes.

“No, wait.  I don’t mean a face like on a person.  I mean the leaves shaped themselves into a face, and—and I sensed the presence of something alive.”

“I don’t see it.”  Lincoln squinted.

“No, it is gone now.”

“A face in the leaves.”  Mingus rubbed his chin.  “A green man, do you think?”

Doctor Procter looked up.  “It seems a good explanation, this far back.”

Mingus spoke to the others.  “A bokarus, a spirit of what you humans call the pristine wilderness.  They resent intrusion, particularly human intrusion, and fights against any environmental changes.  That would explain the old tree torn up by the roots.  The tree probably did not have long to live and it became a worthy sacrifice to kill us, or two of us anyway.”

“I read they are especially dangerous around water,” Doctor Procter said in his way, without explaining why.

“They like to drown people and feed off their souls—the life force.”  Mingus did the explaining.  “It is neat and clean, does no damage to the environment, and the dead body feeds those things that live in the river.  But a bokarus can be dangerous on any ground.”

“I understand.”  Boston touched the cut on her cheek.  “But will it follow us through the time gate?”

“Not likely.”  Lockhart said, and looked at Mingus who nodded to confirm that idea.  “Probably native to this land.”

“Probably the reason these woods were considered off limits to the people back on the plains,” Lieutenant Harper suggested.

“No doubt,” Lockhart got everyone moving again, though they did not have very far to go to get to the gate.  When they arrived, Doctor Procter held up the amulet, which glowed, slightly green, but he could not seem to locate the source.

“It is here, I tell you,” Doctor Procter insisted, but no one could see the shimmering air.  “But it must be here.”  He stepped forward and disappeared.

“I guess he was right.”  Lockhart said, and after only a second, Doctor Procter reappeared.

“Good to know the gates are two-way.”

“Good to know,” Lockhart agreed and he encouraged the doctor to go back through once more and everyone else to follow.  They started to move when they heard a rumbling sound like thunder in the distance.

“The tower,” Lincoln said, as he took one last look around, and they all stepped through the gate into the next time zone.

Avalon 2.12: Looking at Tomorrow

            The bokarus tried a third time to attack the travelers, but this time he looks to have vanished, the travelers hope permanently.  Riding off the end of a cliff and into the sea would not have been a good thing, but after that encounter it appears someone showed some wisdom.  The goddess Galatea, the one Grubby the dwarf call the Greek is escorting them the rest of the way to Danna.

###

            The travelers came to the top of a small rise in the landscape and stopped.  Tents and people of all sorts along with thousands of primitive boats stretched out for miles along the coastline in front of them.  They looked like an invading army preparing to cross the channel, and they were.  They were simply awaiting the order to go from the one oversized tent that was set up facing the sea, well apart from all the others. 

            Galatea vanished at the top of the rise with the words, “My baby is hungry and probably needs to be changed.”

            “Bye,” Boston and Alexis voiced the word.  The others were too taken in by the view to speak.

            When they started down the backside of the rise, Katie had an observation.  “I was not aware the gods were ever in such close proximity to the mortal world.”

            “New jurisdiction, new rules,” Lockhart suggested.

            Lincoln had the database out and was reading carefully, not paying attention to where his horse was taking him.  “Aesgard, Olympus, a bit from Karnak and who knows what others are contributing to building a new house.  Those children will marry Danna’s children and Western Europe will become its own world.  The Children of Danna.”

            “The Celtic world, before the days of Julius Caesar,’ Alexis said.

            “Eventually, but not for a couple of thousand years,” Lincoln explained.  “The Celts will move slowly out of Central Europe as the Germanic tribes move in.”

            They came to the big tent, stopped and dismounted.  After a bit of a wait, they hobbled the horses to let them graze and waited some more.

            Danna was just standing there, staring out across the water to what would one day be called England.  She had a cat cradled like a baby in her arms.  The only movement she made was to gently pet the cat now and then.  They all thought the cat was terribly patient for a cat, but eventually it wanted down.

            “All right Mother,” Danna said. She set the beast down, but without moving her eyes from the water.  She called, also without looking.  “Lockhart.”  He stepped up as the others kept back and watched the cat move to a rug at the entrance of the oversized ten where she gave herself a bath.  They knew Mother was keeping an eye on the visitors.  “I know you can’t see England from here, but she is out there, plotting and scheming with her children to wrest control of all these lands.”

            “Who is?”

            “Domnu,” Danna said.  “I have issued a challenge to single combat, but I don’t know if she will accept.  I would guess her answer will not come today, but it may come in the night.”

            “One of you must die?” Lockhart asked.

            “Yes.” Danna said softly.  She took a deep breath and turned with a smile for the rest of the group.  “Welcome.  There are some things you need to know right from the start.”  She had everyone’s attention, but paused to look around at faces.  “Goddess though I be, I cannot send you five thousand years back into the future.  Three or four days is the normal limit for stretching time that even the gods must keep.  Besides, Lady Alice remains unsteady as long as the Storyteller remains missing.”

            “Understood,” Lockhart said.

            “And as for all the ones that are following you and mean you harm, there is little I can do there.  I see it foremost in Captain Decker’s mind, and Lincoln of course.  The Djin following you is not in this time zone, and neither are the ghouls.  The ghouls are gathering somewhere in your future so you must keep alert.  Alexis and Katie, as for Bob, your werewolf, there is nothing I can do if he remains distant and in human form.  My authority is not over humans.”

            “Father?” Alexis had to ask.  He was an elf so he was one of hers.

            “Not in this time zone yet.  I am sorry.  Sorry Roland.  But I am sure he is following, not far behind.  I will hurry him when he gets here.

            “What about the bokarus?” Lincoln asked.

            “It made three attempts on our lives just since we have been in your time,” Katie explained and Alexis looked at the ground, embarrassed by one of those attempts.

            “Mother, do you mind?” Danna asked the cat, and the cat appeared to blink.  “Thank you,” Danna said as she held out her arm, and they all saw something like a dwarf materialize, upside-down, with one foot grasped in her hand.

            “A dwarf?”  Boston asked.

            “Not even.”  Grubby was still standing next to Roland and Boston, though no one much noticed.  “This one’s got greenish skin, and green hair with no beard at all, and it is all as skinny as a one lunch, salad eating elf, er, no offense.”  Grubby tipped his hat at Roland.

            “My daughter-in-law, Morrigu snatched him just off the coast up in the direction from whence you came.  No telling what torment she had in mind, but she brought it to me because she thought it might be one of my little sprites.”

            “Not even,” Grubby repeated.

            “Lady Alice has made an island of pristine wilderness in the archipelago of Avalon.  This bokarus will live out its days there, and in time others of its kind will join him, but he will not be able to return here.”

            Danna looked briefly at the bokarus and its mouth opened.  “Help me.  Get me out of here.  This isn’t fair.  This isn’t right.  I’m getting dizzy.  Help.”

            “We had an agreement,” Danna said and she went away from that time and Faya, that was Beauty from long ago came to fill her time and place.

            The eyes of the bokarus got far bigger than humanly possible.  “No.  No.  I didn’t know it was you.”  Danna came back to her own time and place and the bokarus faded like the mist until it vanished, echoing the sound of Darth Vader on a bad day, “NOooooo.”

            Danna smiled again for everyone and waved her arm.  Their tents were all set up for the night.  The horses were gathered in, with plenty of oats to eat and a clean trough to drink from.  The little dwarf lady from the first day was there cooking, except at the moment she appeared to be giving an elder dwarf a few pieces of her mind.  They all guessed it was Gorman. There was spritely music in the distance, and plenty of chairs around a long oak table filed with all sorts of food.  Mathonwy’s tent was there and Ahnyani and Kimkeri came out to get the festivities started.  But Danna had one more thing to do.

            “Boston,” she called, and Boston was obliged to appear in front of her.  “Let’s step over here for a minute.”  There were two chairs by the big tent placed conveniently to look out over the feast.  “Do you love him?”  Danna wasted no time.

            “You know I do,” Boston said.  Her eyes shot straight to Roland while Danna took her hand.  Boston was nervous about holding the hand of an actual goddess, even if it was simply one of the lifetimes of the Kairos.

            “Will you marry him?”

            “I will if he ever asks me.  He’s kind of slow.”

            ‘Boys are slow,” Danna said and she shouted toward the table.  “Mathy!”

            Mathonwy looked over and Danna stuck her tongue out at him.  Mathy grinned.  “That is what I admire most about my big sister.  Her maturity.”  He returned the raspberries to her and went back to his feasting.  Boston covered her giggles.

            “But I sense you will not ask Roland to become human and share your life with you,”  Danna let go of Boston’s hand and stood, so Boston stood beside her.

            Boston looked at the ground and spoke quietly.  “Alexis made that choice to be with Lincoln.  That almost killed her father Mingus.  This whole thing started because he could not stand the thought of losing his only daughter to old age.  I couldn’t do that to him again, to lose his son as well.”

            “You like Mingus, don’t you?”

            Boston nodded.  “I do, despite everything.”

            “But I am not always easy to get along with,” Danna said without explanation as she put both hands gently on Boston’s head.  Boston felt a tingling sensation that went all the way to her feet.

            “What did you do?”

            “Nothing yet,” Danna admitted.  “You have a long way to go to get back to the twenty-first century.  Now we can see what your future may hold.”

            Grubby the dwarf ran up suddeny, tipped his hat to Danna and grabbed Boston by the hand.  He dragged her out to the makeshift dance area where Roland was waiting.  Roland planted a kiss smack on Boston’s lips and she returned the kiss with a willing heart before the dance began.

            Danna nodded and spoke to herself.  “A long way to go is sometimes not very far.”

 .

END of SEASON 2

COMING SOON:

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Forever, On the Road:  What happened to the Kairos, Glen, called the Storyteller when the travelers from Avalon began their journey?  He sacrificed himself by leaping into the primeval chaos at the beginning of history.  Now he is lost in the Second Heavens, that infinite space between Earth and the Throne of God, and he is trying to find his way back to the archipelago of Avalon, when he remembers who he is.  The Second Heavens is the realm where memories are easily broken and distorted.  It is the place where dreams come true – not just daydreams.  It defies all of the laws of physics as time and space bend and fold back on themselves, and a life relived is twisted beyond recognition.  It is the place of shadow images of living people and disembodied spirits of the dead, where Angels and Demons struggle for eternity, where myth and legend impact reality and it is a very dangerous place for someone who isn’t dead yet.

 .

Avalon Season 3:  Life in the twenty-first century was never like this!   In the third season, Civilization begins to show its true colors with piracy, slavery and human sacrifice..  Roland and Boston heat up.  Roland may ask Boston to marry him, and his father Mingus will have to do some serious adjusting, again.  All of the “unsavories” presently following the travelers begin to get anxious for fear the travelers may be slipping away.  And they find some new shadow beneath the full moons where Bob, the insane man they showed kindness to – well, they say werewolves always kill the ones they love.  Technological and alien wonders, magic and mayhem, and the struggle to race with the human race and stay alive. 

AVALON SEASON 3 … DON’T MISS IT …

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Avalon 2.12: The Third Encounter

            There appear to be plenty of people in the path of the travelers, and the archetype berserker is not one that anyone might want.  Also, the bokarus is still on the loose, so maybe the travelers need to proceed with caution.

###

            The mist rolled gently over the meadow and Elder Stow confirmed that they were nearing the Channel.  Roland slowed the party to a walk when the mist gathered around their feet.  He urged extra caution when it was two feet deep, thick at the ground and could be seen creeping around the tree branches.  Soon enough the mist rose and turned to a genuine fog, and they had to line up and keep a sharp eye on the horse in front of them.

            Alexis rode up front behind Boston.  She looked back now and then, but she was not looking at Lincoln.  “Don’t tell me,” he said.  “You’re looking for the werewolf.”

            “Ghouls,” Decker suggested up from behind Lincoln.  “It seems to me this is the kind of weather they would love.”

            “No.”  Alexis frowned.  “I’m worried about Father.”

            “He can take care of himself,” Roland spoke up from the front.  There was silence for a moment before Elder Stow spoke.

            “We are very close to the sea,” he said, and then the silence settled in with the fog.

            After a short while, Roland brought the party to a stop.  He heard something.  He described it as a low moan but made no judgment about what it might be.  Elder Stow tinkered with his equipment.  It crackled for a bit, like a bad radio reception before it came in clear.

            Boston commented first.  “It sounds like someone in pain.”  The group began to move again, but carefully.

            “More like a hangover,” Decker said.

            “Or someone with a bad stomach ache,” Alexis said.

            “I’m not sure it is human,” Roland said and he spurred across the meadow and came back to the head of the line without explanation.

            “I cannot say,” Elder Stow admitted.  “I cannot get a scan lock on whatever it is.”

            “Why not human?” Boston asked.

            “We are getting closer but the sound is not getting louder.”

            “I can confirm that,” Elder Stow said as he shook his instrument to be sure it was working properly.  They rode in silence for a bit before Lincoln voiced his thought.

            “Maybe it is a wraith or a ghost.”  When Alexis looked back at him, he felt the need to defend his idea.  “What?  I only said what we were all thinking.”

            “I wasn’t thinking that,” Decker said.

            “Nor was I,” Elder Stow agreed.  “But given some of the things we have seen, it would not surprise me.”  Elder Stow’s instrument crackled again like he was losing the radio station.  He shook it and twisted some dial when at once a voice came clearly from the speaker.

            “Alexis!  Help me!  I need you.  Alexis!  Help me!”

            Alexis kicked her horse to the front of the line before anyone could stop her.  “It’s Father.  He needs me.”  She yelled back as she raced off into the fog.  Roland and Boston rushed after her, but everyone else stopped when Lockhart shouted from the back of the line.

            “Hold it right there.”  Decker butted up in front of Lincoln’s horse in case he was thinking of following the runners.  “Elder Stow,” Lockhart still shouted.  “Can you track and follow them?”

            “Yes, of course,” the Elder said and he floated to the very front.  His pace was a bit quicker than the one Roland set, but it was safer in the fog than riding flat out. 

            Katie looked back at Lockhart several times with worry on her face,   Lockhart looked worried, too.  It was dark, like evening, though it was only the middle of the afternoon.  The fog covered the ground especially like a blanket.  A horse at speed could easily step into a snake hole or some such thing and break a leg, and injure or maybe kill the rider.  Or maybe they could ride right into a pit.

            Alexis thought nothing of that.  She was in a complete panic and raced through the nearby woods.  Roland, her elf brother and Boston, the rodeo rider could hardly keep up.  They could not seem to catch up.

            They could hear the voice now even without the aid of Elder Stow’s equipment.  “Alexis, I need you!  Alexis, Help me!”

            Alexis broke out of the trees and on to rocks where her horse slowed imperceptibly out of self-preservation.  The horse stopped suddenly and all at once when a figure of a person rose up in front, waving his arms.  The horse bucked and Alexis held on by sheer force of will.  Boston arrived and grabbed Alexis’ reigns,  Roland grabbed his sister while Boston looked down at the shadow and spoke.

            “Thank you Grubby.”

            Grubby doffed his hat.  “I say, you was getting too close to the cliff here.”  The cliff was several yards in front of them and dropped a long way to where the sea crashed up against crumbling boulders.  Riding over the edge at full speed would have been certain death.

            “What was I doing?”  Alexis asked her brother in a voice that suggested she was enchanted.  They heard the voice again from twenty yards beyond the cliff, only this time the words were different.

            “Roland, help me.  I need you.  Help me.”

            Alexis quickly grabbed her brother, but he appeared to have enough of their father’s mind magic to shake it off.

            “Fire!” Grubby yelled and waved his hat.  Six fireballs went out from the cliff top and disappeared in the fog.

            A wind came in answer and it temporarily pushed back the fog in the immediate area.  A face appeared floating over the water.  It screamed anger and rushed at them.  It was the Bokarus.  Boston felt Alexis grab her hand, and giving their magic to Roland, Roland let out a far bigger and more powerful fireball.  The bokarus quickly retreated before it burned.

            “Fire!”  Grubby waved his hat again.  Six more dwarf fireballs sprang from the ledge.  They look puny, barely warm, and Boston was not sure any made it as far as the bokarus before they fizzled out.  It was hard to tell as the fog closed in again.

            Lockhart and the others caught up in time to see the bokarus.  Elder Stow was fiddling with a different piece of his equipment when they heard the bokarus speak.  It was not what they expected.

            “No!  Wait!  That’s not right.  That’s not fair.”  It ended in a few mumbles before there was silence.  Immediately the fog began to dissipate.  The sun was out.  It was just after three in the afternoon.  Their spirits lifted as they saw a young women floating over the sea.  She shouted as she came near.

            “Hello.  Are you Lockhart?  I’m supposed to find Lockhart.”

            “It’s the Greek,” Grubby said and made a funny face without explaining.

            “A young goddess,” Katie guessed.

            “I’m Lockhart,” he said when she got close enough so he did not have to shout.

            “Goody,” the goddess said as her feet touched the ground.  “I’m supposed to take you to Danna.  I’m sorry.  She told me all of your names but that was too hard to remember.”

            “Thank you for your help,” Alexis said, assuming she did something with the bokarus.

            “I haven’t helped you yet,” the goddess said.

            “Do you have a name?”  Lockhart was curious.  She was a lovely person, as all goddesses should be.

            “I’m Galatea.  I have a baby.”

            “Really?”  Alexis stole a glance at Lincoln who opted not to return her glance.

            Boston pointed.  Roland and Lockhart started moving so the group started out and Galatea floated along, like Elder Stow but without the need for equipment.

            “Yes,” Galatea continued to talk to Alexis and Boston.  “I have a husband, well, temporarily.  Njord is a bit of an old man, but nice.”

            “He is your old man,” Boston said, and Galatea clearly thought about it for a minute before she smiled.

            “Yes he is, and I have a baby.”

            “So you said,” Alexis agreed.

###

Avalon 2.12:  Looking at Tomorrow … Next Time

Avalon, 2.12: The Second Encounter

            Someone had prepared a spooky nightmare reception, but the bokarus interrupted.  Boston was being drowned, but the group managed to pull her out and singe the bokarus at the same time.  The bokarus did not flee, though, until the goddess came up from downstream, and she was not happy having her nightmare surprise ruined.  All the travelers could think was good, if the bokarus made a goddess mad, maybe he would be prevented from following them.  They could hope.

###

            After a careful river crossing the travelers found the land changed.  There was more sand and stone, more tuffs of grass and less meadow grass.  The gentle up and down of the landscape continued to lead them toward the sea, though it was still at an angle that would not reveal the water soon.  Boston was winded from her encounter with the bokarus, but not injured.  Roland looked relieved.

            “I’m worried,” Alexis said, but she revealed no details of her thoughts.  Lincoln sought to comfort her, believing that the father spoken of was likely her and Roland’s father.  Mingus was still lost somewhere behind them, and he was nowhere near a place where they could protect him from a bokarus or anything else.  All Alexis could do was keep looking back for some sign of him and hope.

            Captain Decker and Elder Stow  had a different take on the matter.  They spoke little as they continued to keep an eye on their flanks while they traveled, but in their few words the message was clear.  For Elder Stow, the mother and father of the group was Katie and Lockhart.  It was a standard designation among the Gott-Druk, and Decker was inclined to agree with him.  They kept a sharp watch for trouble along the path, but kept one eye on Lockhart as well.

            Katie and Lockhart were the least concerned of the group.  They had traveled side by side, protecting the rear guard for some time now.  They were not inattentive, but maybe less focused on potential trouble and more focused on each other.  Lockhart was feeling comfortable and content to wait for things to develop in good time.  Katie was content to wait until Robert was ready.  She was ready, but he had the responsibility of navigating several thousand years to get everyone home safe.  Robert had also been married before, she reminded herself, and maybe she could give him a little more patience and breathing space because of it.

            The travelers came to a halt just before lunch.  There was a man blocking the way.

            “And who are you?  Do I know you?  Why are you blocking the way?  Nice horses.”  The man was not exactly talking to himself, but he night have been.

            People answered him, but he did not seem to be listening until Lincoln said, “We’re looking for Danna.”

            “Ah!”  The man stared at Lincoln and it looked something between a curious stare and a half-mad, frightening kind of stare.  “Do you know the Don?”

            “We know the Kairos,” Lockhart spoke softly as he stepped up to join the crowd,

            “The Kairos!  What does that word mean?  Silly Greek words.  The Greeks are full of silly words.  My grandfather knows how words work.”  The man sighed and shrugged.  “You know my grandfather only has one eye?  He says he sees twice as good out of one as he ever saw out of two.  There’s a riddle for you.”

            “Your grandfather only has one eye?” Katie wondered and risked the man’s stare falling on her.

            “Yeah, but Danna’s got two eyes.  Pretty eyes too.  She is going to be my aunt or cousin or something – sister – something or other.”

            “Sister-in-law?” Boston guessed.

            “That’s it!”  The man was pleased like he figured it out himself.  “She can’t marry my brother yet because she has to kill the bugger across the channel first.  I call her the bugger because every time I say her real name I get mad.  You know what I mean, mad?”

            “But Danna is nice, isn’t she?”  Alexis tried to make sense of the conversation.

            “Yeah, but – hey, are you trying to distract me?  I know what you are doing.  You don’t want me to get mad.  I’m frightening when I get mad, you know.”

            “I thought we were just having a nice conversation,” Lincoln said and looked quickly around the group.

            “You were telling us about Danna,” Alexis prompted.

            “Yeah, but – hey.  We’re having a pleasant conversation here.  Who invited you?”

            Everyone looked to the back of the group and screamed.  A dragon came in for a landing and there was the bokarus riding on the dragon’s back.  The horses scattered.  The people ran for cover.  The man started to protest, but the dragon fire hit the man dead center and for a moment all the others could do was see the flames and feel the heat.  When the dragon took a breath, the man got really mad.

            “That was rude,” the man said, jumped up to the dragon’s face and punched the dragon hard enough to kill the beast with that one blow.  Blood splattered across the ground, the sight of which made the man turn red angry.  More punches followed, as the bokarus fled for its life.

            “Rude, rude, rude,”  The man flailed away on the dead beast until the whole top portion of the dragon became like pulp in the dirt.  Then came the dangerous point as the man started to look around for the bokarus.  He did not seem able to focus very well.  There was the look of murder and the wildness of death in his eyes.  Lincoln bit his finger to keep still and quiet.  The man started toward one of the horses, like maybe it was another dragon of some kind when a man, a very big and well muscled man appeared behind the first and grabbed him around the middle, pinning the man’s arms to his side.

            The man gone mad began to twist in the air in the attempt to break free all while the big one who had him trapped whispered in the man’s ear.  They rose up in the air and slammed to the ground.  They blew across the way and slammed into a tree which snapped the tree in two.  They continued the struggle, disappearing in the distance, suddenly drawing close again, breaking several bigger boulders with the big man’s back until at last the whispered words began to have an effect.  The berserker started to breathe and the madness drained slowly from his face.  The big one looked a bit banged up, but the travelers then caught glimpses of what he was saying.

            “It’s alright, Modi.  These are friends.  Friends.  The danger is over.  It’s okay.”  It went on, until at last the madman could breathe normally, and he looked down as if he was ashamed of what he did or might have done.

            “Forgive my brother,” the big one said as he let the madman go.  “You are strangers to him.  He really is gentle when you get to know him, and loyal and good.”  He turned to his brother and took his hand.  “I think we may have a little nap time,” he said, and as the madman sighed and nodded, the two of them vanished.

            No one said anything at first outside of gathering the horses.  Boston spoke when they mounted.  “That was weird.”  No one contradicted her.

            As they got in line and started out again, Lincoln added a thought.  “I did not know a bokarus could control a dragon to ride it.  I thought they were nature spirits and dragons are not natural to earth, are they?”  No one commented on his thought, either.

###

Avalon 2.12:  The Third Encounter … Next Time

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Avalon 2.12: The First Encounter

            It is a strange and varied group of people preparing to invade the land across the sea.  War is in the air, but the various groups appear to be unconcerned with the travelers.  This is good, if the people let them journey unmolested.  Unfortunately, the people through whose territory they are traveling are not the problem.  It is the ones following.

###

            It was not long into the morning before they began to smell the sea.  Lincoln decided they were definitely headed out the peninsula of Brittany, but at an angle that would eventually bring them to the shore.  Boston looked back several times to see if Grubby and his crew were following, but she never saw anything.  Alexis also looked back several times.

            “I hope Father has come to his senses and is following.”  What she meant was she hoped her father was safe.  Lincoln looked.

            “I hope the Djin and the ghouls have lost the trail,” he said.  That triggered Katie to look.

            “I hope Bob is okay.”

            “I’m not looking,” Lockhart said.  “Whatever is following, I don’t want to know.”

            “This be dragon country,” Roland spoke up from the front where he heard everything with his good ears.  To Boston’s curious look, Roland pointed at the sky.  An Agdaline scout ship passed overhead, and Boston remembered the Agdaline kept dragons as pets when they were young and small and ejected them from their ships when they got big, lost their feathers and would no longer obey simple commands.

            “Thanks,” Lincoln looked at the sky without further comment,

            By mid-morning they came to a small river that was swift but not too deep.  Sometimes, the party had to go miles out of the way to find a safe ford, but in this case if they were careful, Roland imagined they could navigate the crossing well enough.

            Roland and Boston dismounted while the others caught up, and Boston paused to spy the woman downstream.  She appeared to be washing her clothes on a boulder that split the stream.  She used a rock to pound a tunic which had some sort of red stain, but it was some distance so it was hard to tell exactly what she was doing.

            “The water here is cold, I bet.”  Roland got Boston’s attention.

            “Let me see,” Boston said, and put the washer-woman out of her mind.  She bent down to touch the water and yelped.  Something grabbed her hand and pulled her in.

            “Roland!”  Boston managed his name before whatever it was pulled her under.

            “Boston!”  Roland grabbed for her but she was already too deep.

            The others came up quickly to the shore and spread out and tried to grab her when she bobbed up and down, gasping for air  They were yelling things like “grab her” and “there she is.” She appeared to be swirling around a jetty and luckily not rushing downstream.

            “Roland!”  Alexis grabbed her brother’s hand and had her wand out.  Roland was in a bit of a panic, but her touch steadied him and she drew on her power and his as she caught Boston by the shoulder.  Boston lifted and grabbed several breaths of fresh air before they heard the sound,  It was a wailing with which they were familiar.  It was the bokarus, and it was fighting to drag Boston back under.

            Elder Stow tuned a piece of equipment and he managed to stop her spinning.  She was ready to throw up.  Then the elder caught her in an anti-gravity bubble which would have shot her a hundred feet into the air, but the bokarus was still dragging her down.

            Roland suddenly took over the action from his sister as soon as he realized Elder Stow had Boston stabilized.  Roland was not feeling kind when he borrowed a play from his father’s playbook. It was a shock of lightning, and while it shocked Boston slightly where she was still hanging with her boots in the water, not able to rise higher but no longer in danger of being dragged under,  it fried the bokarus, and fried a few fish as well.

            The bokarus let out a monstrous howl and let go.  Elder Stow almost lost Boston when she skyrocketed up, but he quickly got her back down into the arms of Katie and Lockhart where she claimed she felt like pulled taffy.  The bokarus looked ready to attack, and Roland was ready to go toe to toe with the beast when the bokarus suddenly rushed off.  Lincoln noticed.

            The washer-woman from downstream had somehow crossed over the river without getting wet.  She walked up the riverbank with a shirt that looked full of blood in her hand and she had a cross expression on her face.  When she got close, the bokarus fled for his life, and Lincoln asked.

            “Can we help you?”

            The woman looked steaming mad.  “And I had my scary voice on, too,” the woman said.  “Guaranteed to scare your spine.”

            “What?”

            “But no.  That stupid green man had to cut in line.  What has he got against you folks anyway?”

            “We haven’t been able to figure that out yet.”  Lockhart shook his head.

            The woman paused, now that she had everyone’s attention.  She slowly scanned the group ending with Elder Stow and Alexis.  She lifted the shirt and shook it which sent red droplets of blood to the grass.  “The blood of the father.  Not too long from now.  That’s all you get.”

            “What?”

            The woman faded until she disappeared altogether, but she spoke while she vanished.  “I may go hunt that little bugger.  Ruin my surprise and everything.”

            There was a moment of silence before Roland broke the spell by going to see to Boston.

            “Morrigu?” Lincoln asked out loud.

            “One of the future Irish,” Katie said.  “Or Welsh gods.”

            “But what did she mean the blood of the father?” Alexis looked concerned.  Elder stow looked at Lockhart and wondered the same thing.

###

Avalon, 2.12:  The Second Encounter … Next Time

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Avalon 2.9 Morning Surprise

            It seems the imps and elves, goblins and dwarfs are all on the march to rescue Flern and her company.  That doesn’t get rid of a hundred Jaccar warriors, but it does make a big difference on which side has the advantage.   

###

            Katie and Lockhart sat quietly side by side and looked out over the grass as the sun rose behind them and a bit off to their right hand.  “Late fall.”  She took a big whiff of air and Lockhart nodded.

            Goldenwing was asleep, up in his tree branch.  Riah was also asleep beside her lady.  Roland slept at last when it was clear Boston was going to make a full recovery.  Decker slept fitfully, as did Lincoln.  Lincoln was probably dreaming about his missing wife, Alexis.  They could not imagine what Decker was dreaming about after five hundred years in stasis.  Elder Stow appeared asleep, but it was sometimes hard for the humans to honestly judge the Gott-Druk.  The gnomes, all on the far side of the horses, snored, and some loudly.  They might be good help with the horses, but not worth much on guard duty.

            It was up to Lockhart and Katie in the early morning, but all that changed in a second when they heard a sound with which they were all too familiar.

            “Bokarus.”  Lockhart mouthed the word even as people jumped to their feet.

            The Bokarus came screaming toward them, flying in his horrendous, ghostly form.  Vinnu screamed and this time Gunder appeared to want to join her.  But the Bokarus merely buzzed them and continued out over the river.

            “To the high ground!”  Roland shouted and others echoed the words.  Roland carried Boston to the top of the riverbank and then returned to help Flern and Riah carry Kined.  The rest were on their own.

            “Get up,” Lockhart yelled as he grabed Vilder’s hand, pulled and reached again for Pinn.  Everyone scrambled when the bokarus came again and brought a great wave of the river with him.  He shot out over the grassy field and began to circle around the field, faster and faster.

            Thrud, who was a bit slow in the morning was soaked, but at least no one was damaged by the water, or dragged under.  Katie, Riah and Flern stood side by side and wondered what the bokarus was doing. 

            “The wind created by that flying pest is almost a tornado,” Captain Decker said as he checked his rifle just in case the bokarus should solidify for a moment.  Lincoln could only nod, and he actually wished his father-in-law was there to strike the creature with a fireball.

            The grass beneath the bokarus bent and broke, and some of it began to rise up in sheets.  It took a second to realize why the sheets. 

            “Jaccar!”  Lockhart shouted.  The bokarus had removed their camouflage and likely undid an entire night of inching closer and closer.  The ones exposed that were still across the way turned and ran back to the rise and the Jaccar camp.  But the ones near imagined no alternative but to pull their knives and attack.  Guns went off.  The Jaccar fell.  The last one was hit with an arrow from Riah even as Lockhart pulled the trigger on his shotgun.  Then it was over and the bokarus was nowhere to be seen.

            “It did us a favor?”  Katie asked, confusion in her eyes.

            “No,” Lockhart shook his head.  “It just did not want to Jaccar to get its prey.”

            Katie looked at Riah and then Roland, and Roland responded and pointed at Lockhart, “What he said.”

            “Lockhart.  I promise I will do something about that bokarus just as soon as I can,” Flern said, and  Riah, Goldenwing and Pigot, who had just come tumbling up, all gasped.  The gods never made promises.  Roland just nodded and smiled.  This Kairos was fully human and as unpredictable as ever.

            “Lockhart.  How are we going to get out of this?” Lincoln asked with some exasperation in his voice.  “There are still eighty or more over there.  Eventually they will figure some way to get at us.”

            “Yes,” Elder Stow said, but he sounded a bit put off.  “How are we going to get out of this?”

            Lockhart had no ready answer, but that was fine because he disappeared from that spot and immediately reappeared on the rise overlooking the Jaccar camp.  There was a man there, crooked to look at, and he did not appear to be happy.  Lockhart had learned from past experience about unhappy gods.  He thought it best to hold his tongue.

            “You cheat.”  The god spit at him with his words.  “You killed twenty and none has gotten close enough to touch you but for that red headed witch.  And you healed her with more witchery.  You cheat.”

            Lockhart said nothing.

            “Too bad I can’t deal with you like I want.  The others have set a hedge around you and your group, even the elder among you.  And I can’t touch the Kai-gross either, nor any of hers.  It isn’t fair.”

            Lockhart looked down on the Jaccar camp.  The Jaccar did not seem to be aware that anyone was on the hill.  The god followed Lockhart’s eyes down the hill and frowned before he waved his hand and all the Jaccar and their horses disappeared.  “She will get her whole army killed before the battle even starts if I let her.  The Traveler may be her undoing and I will not be able to help her out.”  The crooked god ground his teeth.  “I suggest you leave before I think of a way to ruin your life.”  And he vanished while Lockhart turned and made the slow walk back to the others on the beach.

            They stayed one more day with Flern, to see Kined and Boston fully recovered.  “No Boston,” Flern said.  “Those healing chits were not designed for your specific genetic signature.  They will die out soon enough and you haven’t the means to grow more.  Besides, they were specifically programmed so they might not do you any good except against maybe another poison arrow in the next few days.”

            “Darn.”

            “Let us hope we won’t have to test it,” Roland added.

            “And you won’t tell me?”  Katie looked at Lockhart, but he shook his head.

            “Just one of the gods.”  That was all he ever said.  “It is hard to know sometimes.  I can see that now.  Some things the Kairos just has to find out for himself.”

            “Herself.”

            “That too.” 

            It was not until they were a half-day away, headed toward the next time gate that Lockhart finally relented.”

            “Let’s just say he is a god and he has an army.”

            Katie had to think before her eyes lit up.  “Ah!  Too bad we don’t have a Hulk.”

###

            The next time zone finds poison everywhere – the kind that causes temporary insanity, and it is in the water.  The days are hot and sweaty, and the travelers don’t have much clean water, but somehow they have to find the Kairos and hope she isn’t under the influence, and if she is, they have to hope there isn’t the usual crisis looming.

Avalon 2.10:  Born To Be Wild … Next Time

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Avalon 2.7: The Trenches

            Looks like war in the camps.  The Djin seems to have taken over the mind and will of the people to play a dangerous and deadly game.  The travelers in the camp have no will to resist, and the ones on the hill who are still in their right minds appear equally helpless.

###

            Boston and the women built a tower on which she could stand.  They made it out of upside-down wagons, a table and a chair.  It slanted a little, but it was not entirely unstable.  Boston felt safe enough to stand up on the chair, and there she watched all around as the sunlight faded into evening darkness, Alexis paced, and the old woman told stories to the gathered children.  Better than television, Boston thought, and then she wondered what television was.

            Even as the last wisps of purple left the sky, Katie came up to check their handiwork.  “We may need some light.”  She shouted up to Boston, though Boston was not that high up.

            “I was thinking that, but I see Lockhart has set some signal fires a little way into the wilderness and pulled his men well within the perimeter.  Lincoln is still setting his.  I would guess Lockhart told him what he was doing and Lincoln is copying the idea.

            “And a good idea it is,” Katie responded.  “I assume you can’t blaze like the sun for very long.”

            Boston was not sure she could blaze like the sun at all, but she said nothing.

###

            Lincoln saw them coming.  He moved all of his hunters with their bows to the front, first.  He briefly wished he had his rifle before he wondered what a rifle was.  That was okay,  they had to wait for the enemy to get close enough.

            “Ready?”  Lincoln moved down his line of archers.  “Remember, just shoot in a straight line.  They are bunched up and you will hit something.  Don’t try to pick a target at this range in the dark.  I don’t want twenty arrows in one person and none in the rest.  Aim.”  Lincoln raised his hand and paused to let the enemy inch closer before he dropped his hand and shouted, “Fire!”

            The volley was withering.  A number of men were struck with arrows and the attacking group quickly gathered their wounded and retreated. 

            Lockhart, a good man in charge of protecting the south ran into the same kind of situation – the enemy attempting to sneak up in the dark.  He dealt with it in a similar way, but this enemy raged after the first volley and attacked.  It took two more volleys to finally drive them off, and certainly some of those men that were down were dead.

            With Lockhart distracted by the attack, a third group took advantage and tried to move on them from the Southeast.  Fortunately, Boston saw from her perch and did not hesitate.  She raised her arms and groaned and shouted.  Katie, who was gifted, Alexis, who had magic of her own, and no doubt the Sybil who looked up, saw the golden power of Boston’s magic rise up into the air like a flare.  At once, Boston threw her hands forward, pointed straight at the sneaky enemy.  The Golden sparkles rushed out over the camp to that place, and the wind followed.  It was a concentrated wind blast of hurricane strength.  It picked up most of the enemy and blew them back in the direction from which they had come.  A few escaped by falling flat to the ground, but then Lockhart was alerted and men came running, so as soon as Boston’s initial blast gave out, the men on their faces jumped up and hastily retreated.

            Everyone paused to catch their breath, and in that brief silence they heard a howl.  It was one with which the travelers were familiar even if the people were not.  The bokarus in ghost form came rushing over the perimeter of the camp and brought Boston’s wind back with it.  People were knocked in every direction.  Tents were torn up by the roots.  Wagons were shaken.  A couple fell apart while several others wheeled off in whatever random direction they were pointed.

            Lockhart and Lincoln held their lines together, as did Katie at the center.  Otherwise, some might have run wild in panic.  “Alexis.  Boston.”  Katie shouted.  This creature, in ghost form, was something which she, for all her gifts could not touch.  The frustration of that ate at her.

            Alexis stomped over to the women and grabbed Star’s bow and one arrow.  She groused, “I am a healer, not a wounder.”  Her magic was much whiter than Boston’s yellow, slightly orange magic and she covered the bow and arrow with a white glow before she handed it back to the hunter.  “Star, shoot it at the bokarus when it flies overhead.  You don’t have to hit it, exactly, but the closer the better.”

            Star waited at the ready, and let the arrow fly with some lead time as a good hunter should.  Alexis had her hands together and her eyes shut tight.  The arrow missed and they thought it was laughter that came from the bokarus; but then Alexis opened her hands and opened her eyes, and the arrow exploded like a bomb on the Fourth of July. 

            The bokarus shrieked.  It felt that.  The women cheered, but then it looked like the arrow just made the bokarus mad.  It headed for the children, and Alexis was afraid some of them were young enough for the bokarus to suck out their life force without having to kill them first.  She looked up at Boston.  So did Katie, Star and the others.  Boston appeared to be staring at her finger.  She did not have a wand.  No one ever told her she needed one.  Her finger would have to do, and when she heard the children scream, she pointed that finger.

            Boston was thinking of Lockhart’s “heat ray” comments.  She did not know what a heat ray was, but she imagined herself as her Amazon name, “Little fire.”  She knew that fire consisted of light and heat, and she felt there was no reason they had to go together.  When the children screamed, a dull red beam of light came from Boston’s finger.  If she had been herself, she might have likened it to a laser beam.  It struck the bokarus in the back and this time the cry of the bokarus sounded painful.  It pulled up from the children, but Boston’s finger followed it.  It began to fly in wild directions, but still she followed.  Her finger fire set a tent aflame as she tracked the bokarus near the ground, but she caught it and stayed with it as often as not.  Finally the bokarus had enough and it streaked out across the camps and vanished in the dark in the distance, Boston hoped never to return.  It had better not.  She was used up.

            Boston sat on the chair to catch her breath.  She did not hear the cheers from the women, but she did hear the Sybil when she ran up as fast as she could.  “Lincoln,” she yelled.  “He is facing the wolfman!”

###

Avalon 2.7:  Changes … Next Time

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Avalon 2.5: Getting Out Alive

            The Buffalo burgers were good, but now it is time to move on.  Lincoln and Lockhart especially want to get back to the twenty-first century before they became old men again.

###

            Lockhart secretly set a watch in the night.  It was only one person for a couple of hours each so no one went without rest.  Even so, when he woke up in the morning he found a stranger beside the campfire and a pile of their things beside him.  With his eyes half closed, his feet stumbling and his brain lacking his morning coffee, Lockhart nevertheless recognized that the stranger was not human and patted himself on the back for that realization.  For one, when the stranger stood and turned to face Lockhart, he proved to be nearly nine feet tall.  For two, Lockhart thought his sleepy eyes were tricking him at first since it looked like a bush grew up in the night beside the fire.  Even when the stranger faced him, he looked something like the trees with bark-like skin, vines for hair and tree trunk knots for his mouth and eyes.

            “I am Deep Roots,” the stranger introduced himself.  “I cannot stay long away from my trees, but I thought I should help.  Huyana is not always on top of every situation and I suspected the little diggers would rob you in the night.”

            “My thanks,” Lockhart said. 

            “Think nothing of it,” Deep roots said and let a smile creak across his face before he vanished.  Huyana came stumbling up, Aster trailing, as Katie brought Lockhart his coffee.

            “What is all this?”  Huyana pointed to the pile

            “Your dwarfs borrowed a few of our things in the night,” Lockhart said.  “I hope they didn’t break anything.”

            Huyana looked suddenly unhappy.  “Lady, remember the Earth, the sea and the sky,” Aster whispered.  Huyana took a deep breath and then called, “Dwarfs!”

            All seven appeared, tied together in a group with Decker’s rope.  They were gagged as well with bits of leather, and not one of them could wiggle enough to get free.  Boston came out of her tent in time to laugh.  Roland, who was with the horses also laughed as he came over to untie them and collect the rope.  The dwarfs pulled off their own gags and yelled, mostly all at once.

            “It was Deep Roots.  We found this stuff fair and square.  We could have been rich.  He stole it from us.  We just want what is ours.”

            “These are our things,” Katie said, reasonably.  Boston interrupted.

            “Three second rule.  All this stuff has been sitting here untouched for three seconds.  I claim it.”

            “Oh, buggers.  Toots.  Twaddle,” the dwarfs swore and added a few real words as well.

            Huyana put her hands on her hips and tapped her moccasin.  It made a surprisingly crisp sound on the dirt.  The dwarfs noticed, whipped off their hats and put on their most humble and sorry expressions.  Huyana was not fooled.  “Three seconds or not, everything these people brought with them is theirs, not yours.  You so much as touch one of their things again and you should have your fingers burned.”

            Aster stepped up and took Huyana’s hand, but it was too late.  Digger cried, “uh-oh,” and whipped something out of his pocket and tossed it to Picky who tossed it to the next one.  It was the ultimate game of hot potato, but the potato was Boston’s Beretta.  Finally, Gome had the sense to toss it to the pile.  It went off when it landed, but by some unknown grace, the bullet missed everyone.

            “Now, enough,” Huyana had to take several breaths and squeeze Aster’s hand several times before she could speak.  “I am asking you, will you escort my friends to the next time gate.  They will know the way, but I need someone to guard them from the bokarus.  Will you do this for me?”

            “Bokarus is spooky,” Picky spoke for the group.  “And what might we expect –“

            “This is not a bargain!  It is yes or no.”  Huyana shouted and squeezed Aster’s hand several more times while the dwarfs all said, “Yes, sure, of course.”  Huyana squeezed once more before she said, “Thank you.”  Then she let go of Aster’s hand.  Aster whipped the hand to her mouth to hold back the tears.  Her hand got a serious workout, squeezed again and again by her own goddess, but she would do it again.  She did not mind, really.

            Ogalalo came up to join them for breakfast and marveled at the bread they offered.  Then he saw them mount to ride out.

            “We may not make it in a day if we walk the horses the whole way,” Boston said mostly to herself.  Huyana heard.  She was ignoring Ogalalo.

            “The dwarfs will protect you in the night.  They will take you all the way to the time gate as promised.  Isn’t that right?”

            “Oh,yes.  Yes mam.  Absolutely.  Time gate it is.”  Gome was the one who asked.  “What’s a time gate?”

            Huyana sighed.  “You will know when you get there, only you are not permitted to go through the gate.”

            “Oh yes, absolutely.”

            “Just like a real goddess,” Dingle spoke up with pride in his voice.  “Cryptic as the best of them.  What’s a time gate?  You’ll know when you get there.  Yes, sir.  Just like a real goddess, she is.”

            “Ogalalo?”  Huyana could not ignore him any longer.

            “I wanted to warn your friends to beware the Onakatta if their way takes them into the next valley.  They are a treacherous and cruel people best avoided.”

            “Thank you for the warning,” Lockhart said as he started out.

            “And thank you for the feast,” Katie added. 

            Boston thought to say something else.  “Good-bye Huyana.  We love you.”  Huyana started to cry when she heard that and Aster and Ogalalo did their best to comfort her, but the dwarfs all began to argue about which one of them was really about to say that, except the dumb human beat them to it. 

###

            The tapestry of life is three dimensional.  It has layers, but life gets confusing when the layers begin to interweave and the colors bleed into one another, and when war is the reason, it also gets downright dangerous.

Avalon 2.6:  Multiple Worlds … Next Time

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Avalon 2.5: Things of Power

            Only a guess, mind you, but I believe the bokarus is not finished finding new and inventive ways to try and kill the travelers; and if the natives and native village gets crushed in the process I imagine the green man would think all the better.

###

            The hillside just outside the camp was clear of trees and covered only in the tall grasses of late summer.  The camp itself was nestled among the trees and the edge of the forest proper.  At the moment, more than a hundred buffalo were careening down that grassy hill in utter panic, a true stampede, and the only thing that stood between the buffalo and the camp was nothing.         

            “Lincoln!”  Lockhart shouted and pulled his thirty-eight.  The pistol might prove of little value, but it was better long range than the shotgun.  Lincoln stepped up beside Katie.  They had the high powered rifles, and Katie started the action. 

            “Go for between the eyes,” Katie said.  “Hit the ones out front.  The ones behind might stumble or turn aside.”  Three of the beasts fell in short order.

            “Easy for you,” Lincoln said as he began to fire.  Five more fell before the buffalo reached the bottom of the hill and the far edge of the camp.  Several were also standing or stumbling around like they were injured from tripping over the fallen ones, but the majority were not slowing significantly.

            “Rapid fire,” Katie said, and she and Lincoln turned a switch on their rifles.  They sprayed the front of the herd with bullets even as Lockhart chimed in with his police pistol.  Boston added her Beretta, though it was pretty useless against such big animals.  Roland retrieved Decker’s pistol from Decker’s old saddle bag and fired as well.

            Another half-dozen went down along with several tents before Elder Stow stepped up and let his sonic device whine.  “Within range,” he said.  The buffalo turned.  They did not exactly race back up the hill, but the high-pitched squeal finally turned them so they roared off at an angle to miss the rest of the camp.  Everyone breathed deeply.

            `While the travelers talked softly and patted each other for reassurance, Huyana reached up and closed Ogalalo’s mouth.  “You see?” she said.  “They could have wiped out your whole tribe before supper if they wanted to.”  She paused and kissed that mouth, and it was a poor-Ogalalo-will-never-recover kind of kiss.  When she was finished, Huyana kept talking like she was uninterrupted.  “Fortunately for you these are good people, like I said.  You should learn to ask.  Asking is good.  Demanding sometimes just makes people mad.”

            “Hey!”  Lockhart interrupted.  “You have fifteen or so animals ready to supply meat and warm skins for the winter.  You better get your people on them before they start to rot.”

            Ogalalo broke free of the trance he was under.  He might have been excused.  He was holding his beloved, and with that in mind, he quickly kissed Huyana again on the lips and then stepped away to begin shouting at all of the men in the camp and most of the women and children as well.

            Huyana raised her eyebrows and touched her lips like this was the first time Ogalalo kissed her.  She looked at Aster who came up and also kissed her, but on the cheek.  “Are you going to introduce us to your friends?”

            “Oh, yeah.”  Huyana was being neglectful in her duties.  She clapped her hands to get everyone’s attention and then she said everyone’s names, beginning with herself and pointing to each one along the way.  “Huyana, Aster, Roland, Boston, Katie, Lockhart, Lincoln, Elder Stow, Tooter, Dingle, Blocker, Digger, Piebald, Picky and Gome, and I’m Huyana.”  Gome was the smallest of the lot, but he had a hard look on his face like he was not going to take any guff from anyone, least of all a bunch of human beings, big as they might be.  Boston imagined with that look he might stare down an ogre.

            “Mostly she calls him Gomer,” Tooter said, “Like Gomer Pyle,” and he snickered.

            “Yeah?” Gome spoke up.  “Well at least it is safe to be in the same room with me.”

            “And what is it you do?” Katie changed the subject.  There had already been a couple of fistfights since the arrival of the dwarfs and she thought a change in the conversation was in order.  Anyway, she was enchanted by the little ones as always.  Lockhart was more the opposite.  He kept one step behind Katie and stared over her shoulder.

            “We’re prospectors,” Digger said.

            “We were prospectors,” Picky corrected the dwarf.

            “What?”  Lincoln stepped up.  “Like there’s gold in them thar hills?”

            “What? Where?  Which hills?”  the Dwarfs got excited.

            “Just an expression.  Not real.  I was kidding.” Lincoln said quickly.

            “No surprise.”  Piebald moped.  “All we find around here is black gooey stuff in the ground.”

            “Oil?”  Lincoln wondered.

            “That’s the stuff,” Piebald said.

            “And granite.  Lots of granite,” Picky added.

            “Hey lady.”  Dingle came up to Boston.  “Want to buy a diamond.”  He pulled a crystal the size of Boston’s fist out of an unseen pocket and held it up to her so she could see the dazzle in the late afternoon sun.

            “No money,” Boston admitted with a shrug.

            “What’s money?”  Tooter asked.

            “Never heard of money,” Picky admitted. 

            “You got trade.”  Dingle was not going to stray from his mark.

            “I don’t think so,” Roland interrupted the bargain as he stepped up and slipped his arm over Boston’s shoulder.

            “Ooo, uppity elfity –“

            “Ahem!” Aster cleared her throat and the dwarf swallowed his words and moved on to Katie.

            “How about you, Lady?”

            “That is not a diamond.  That is quartz,” Katie said and turned her head to Lockhart.  “I took basic geology in college.”

            “Quartz?  I got snookered?”  Dingle put on a good show.  “Still, very sparkly, mind you, and mighty fine to look at.  Make a fine necklace.”

            “She’s one of the elect.”  Blocker tapped Dingle on the shoulder.  “Dangerous trade if you ask me, especially if she feels taken.”

            “Sorry mam,” Dingle tipped his hat wanting no part of crossing Katie.  He went right back to Boston like he had never talked to her before.

            “Mind you, very sparkly.  Make a fine bracelet.  Maybe a wedding crown?”  He smiled way too much.

            “She’s a witch,” Blocker said.

            “Oh, never mind.” Dingle slipped the quartz back in his pocket and quickly faded into the group as Ogalalo ran up.

            “You must stay the night,” he told the travelers who looked around at the camp outside of what was happening in their little circle.  It would be dark soon enough.  Staying was not a bad idea.  “All of you.  Stay.  We will have a real feast.”  Ogalalo looked very happy, and Lockhart and Katie both imagined it was as close as they were going to get to an apology.  “If those Onakatta thought that stampede would hurt us, how wrong they were.”  Ogalalo thought the turn of those tables was delicious.  Lockhart hated to pour vinegar on the man’s treat.

            “I doubt it was the Onakatta.  Probably the bokarus started the stampede.”

            Ogalalo lost his smile and looked again to the sky and all around.  He had forgotten.  He spoke again, but this time with far less conviction.  “You stay anyway.  We feast.”  He ran back to the kill.

            People looked at Lockhart.  “Unpack.”  That was all he had to say and they went for their tents.

            “Aster,” Huyana said and Aster stepped up to walk beside her.  Huyana was going down to the kill site herself.  She wanted another taste of those lips.

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Avalon 2.5:  Getting Out Alive … Next Time

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Avalon 2.5: Camp du jour

            Taken prisoners by a Neolithic tribe with only Roland the elf allowed to go free with their horses, the travelers wonder what awaits in the camp when they meet Ogalalo, the shaman, the one described as a man of power, and magic.

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            When they arrived in the camp, it looked purely Neolithic, a transient encampment full of wood and bones and skins and stones.  In contrast to the Amazon village, this camp had no sign of pots or metals or even agricultural activity.  This was strictly a hunter-gatherer world.  

            The men were shoved into a tent and Elder Stow immediately broke his bonds.  The Gott-Druk had extraordinary strength and no simple vines could hold him.  Then he set Lincoln and Lockhart free before they sat and waited to see what this Shaman wanted.  They were free of the vines but there were still guards posted just outside the tent, and Lockhart was reluctant to be the first to start the violence.

            “I say we check on the girls,” Lincoln argued.

            “They will be fine,” Lockhart assured him, and he hoped they were not in trouble, but he fingered his knife and imagined the back of the tent would not be too hard to slice.

            The women got a tent of their own.  Once alone, Boston pulled her hands free and stifled her excitement.  “I did it, I did it.  Magic, see?”  She held her hands up and did a little dance, though seated.

            Boston leaned over to untie Katie, but Katie said, “Wait.”  She tugged on the vines and after a second, they snapped.  “Zoe said being elect meant not just blindly accepting whatever the men decide.”

            “That sounds more Amazon.”

            “Probably,” Katie agreed.  “But part of the package is strength.  Strong as any man, she said, and frankly I am tired of hiding it.  I have been hiding it for twenty-seven years, well, twelve or thirteen years anyway.”

            “I don’t want you to hide anything,” a man said, and Boston and Katie whipped their eyes around to see Lockhart’s head sticking through a hole in the back of the tent.  He grinned at them when they heard a sound outside the tent door and Lockhart quickly withdrew and held the hole closed hoping the cut in the tent would not be noticed.

            A young man stepped into the tent and said, “Get to your feet.”  Boston and Katie got up and brushed off their clothes and the young man lifted his eyebrows at the sight.  He turned quickly to the door and shouted, “Hey!  Who cut these two free?”

            “No one,” Boston said.  “We just got tired of being tied.”

            The man showed anger on his face and grabbed Katie by the elbow.  She flat-handed the man’s chest and he flew out of the tent and landed a few feet away hard on his back, possibly with a couple of cracked ribs.  Katie felt sorry about the ribs, but she could not help her smile.  That felt wonderful.  It felt like something she always wanted to do but never let herself do in her whole life.

            The man quickly rose and held his chest as he rushed away to hide.

            The women came out of the front of the tent.  There was a young man in a wolf skin standing by the fire out front, and Boston guessed.  “Ogalalo.”

            Lockhart stepped out from behind one side of the women’s tent while Lincoln and Elder Stow came from the other side.  They flanked the women as Lockhart spoke.  “So what is it you want?”

            Ogalalo said nothing.  He stepped up and looked at each in the face.  He stopped when he came to Elder Stow and raised an eyebrow.  He spoke to the elder.

            “We have no quarrel with the elder races.  You are free to go.”  The others could hear the touch of fear that echoed in the man’s words as he looked away and returned to his place by the fire.  Lockhart repeated his question.

            “What is it you want?”

            Ogalalo simply waved his hand and Boston saw a bluish light escape from the man’s fingers.  It struck each person, and everyone froze where they were, except the Gott-Druk who was spared.  Boston got mad.  The firelight rose in her against the blue, and in a moment she was free even if her friends were still frozen.  But then she was new at this and could not control it well.  The campfire behind Ogalalo also flared and his wolf skin was set ablaze.

            “Sorry!”  Boston spoke right up.  Ogalalo looked startled for a second before he smelled the smoke.  He tore off his wolf skin and dashed it to the ground as Boston repeated, “Sorry.”

            “Little Fire,” Ogalalo said, and he did not sound unkind.  “A big fire, maybe.”  In that moment the sky darkened and the wind picked up suddenly.  There was a wail, like a banshee set loose and the leaves began to shake in the trees.  Boston, Elder Stow, Ogalalo and the people in the camp all looked up and saw a ghost-like creature that began to fly around the camp with great speed like one trying to create a tornado on a clear day.

            The people screamed and ran, some aimlessly in their panic.  Something like lightning shot from the ghost, but Boston noticed it had to become more solid to do that.  The lightning struck at several tents and those tents were set on fire.  Ogalalo lost all concentration, and Katie, Lockhart and Lincoln were slow to come around.  Boston named the creature for Ogalalo and Elder Stow who was searching for his sonic device.

            “Bokarus!  You cannot have us!”

            The bokarus zoomed up and paused to face her and the others.  The expression on that ghost face said it thought it did have them, but Ogalalo did not hesitate.  He grabbed Boston’s hand and she felt something taken out of her gut as she watched a ball of flame form in Ogalalo’s hand.  It shot at the bokarus who had to fly back quickly to avoid being hit.  The bokarus wailed again and began to circle the camp once more, but as long as Ogalalo had his hand up, the ball of flame followed the creature.  What is more, it was gaining.

            Elder Stow finally found his device and he let it rip, though the frequency was mostly above human hearing.  The dogs in the camp howled bitterly, and the bokarus made a sound like pain and rushed away.  The flame ball dissipated and Ogalalo fell to his knees, exhausted.  Boston fell with him.  She felt totally drained.  Katie was right there to hold her up and Lincoln and Lockhart helped Ogalalo back to his feet where they neglected to let go of his arms. 

            Several men came running with spears, but Lockhart put a knife to Ogalalo’s throat and threatened to cut it, so they stopped short.

            “Please,” Ogalalo begged.  “I mean you no harm.  You are free to take your things and go.”

            “It’s alright,” Boston said.  She had seen inside the man enough to know what motivated him.  He was desperately in love with a woman who did not love him in return.  All Boston could see was sadness.  She missed the cunning.  She should have remembered the wolf

            As soon as Ogalalo was set free, he stepped back and called his men to come in close.  “You brought the bokarus creature among us.  I saw how it looked at you.  If we sacrifice your lives to it, it will leave us alone.”  He was thinking like a cave man.

            “On the contrary,” Katie stood and placed Boston in Lockhart’s arms.  She stepped right up to Ogalalo’s face and was not at all worried about the ring of men with spears.  “The bokarus wants us for itself.  If you let us go, it will follow us and leave you alone.  If you kill us, you will make it mad by depriving it of its prey.”

            Ogalalo would have to think about that.  He did not get much time before a woman’s voice echoed through the camp.  “Ogalalo.  Let my friends go!”

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Avalon 2.5:  Unbroken … Next Time

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