Avalon 2.9 In the Night, Dark and Light

            Black Sea snake.  I understand at sea they were sometimes confused with sea serpents, but they were not made to survive rifles and a double barreled shotgun.  But the travelers have virtues that most people in 3420 BC cannot imagine, and some that people in the twenty-first century might not imagine, like Gaian healing chits.  Hopefully they are transferable and will work.  Slow poison is not a good way to die.

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            The sun fell to the western horizon, but it would be some time before they knew if the healing chits of the Gaian would be effective on Boston and Kined.  Flern stayed beside Kined and Roland stayed beside Boston, but Flern made Riah get up and help the others.  They were planning something.

            Once the dark was well along, with the moon near new so it was very dark, Riah, Elder Stow, Captain Decker and Lieutenant Harper moved slowly across the grass.  Goldenwing flew between them to keep them informed of their progress until they stopped where they formed a wall against the Jaccar camp.  Once they were set, Goldenwing flew back to start the others.

            Vilder and Pinn made three trips to the wagons where they got weapons to arm their group and plenty of rope so they could tie off the horses close to hand.  The others went after the horses that had wandered some distance as they grazed for two days.  The horses did tend to come near the wagons at nightfall, but not so much on this third night and some were afraid they might wander away altogether, 

            Kiren and Thrud caught two fairly quickly while Lockhart watched with his shotgun ready.  Gunder and Vinnu had a bit more trouble with Flern’s and Riah’s horses, not the least because Gunder kept having to remind Vinnu to be quiet.  Lincoln stayed with them, his pistol near to hand.

            It took most of the night, but between them thy managed to catch the nine horses ridden by the four couples and Riah, their elf guide.  Godenwing needed no horse.  He preferred to travel in his small fairy size and needed no more than a horse’s mane to rest in.  They did not find the six draft horses they had trained to pull the wagons, however, and expressed their fears.

            “Well, one good thing,” Gunder kept saying, “The Jaccar won’t be able to take the wagons either without the horses.”

            “I am sure they have gone back to the wild,” Kiren said.  He had been with Flern when they caught the horses and broke them to their task, but that was only a few months ago.

            Vilder shook his head.  “They may have just wandered out of range.”

            “I would have thought the draft horses would have stayed closest to the wagons,” Pinn said.

            Vilder shook his head again, but before he could speak there was a brilliant flash of light out over the grass.  It was far brighter and illuminated far more of the land than any eldritch fire or fairy light could hope.  There were gunshots before Goldenwing came racing back to the beach.

            “The Jaccar were trying to get to the wagons just as the friends of my Lady said they would.”  Lockhart got up quickly, prepared to run out to join the fight, but he stopped on Goldenwing’s word.  “Stay giant.  Your friends and weapons made short work of those few Jaccar.”  And the great light went out.  Moments later, Lockhart and Lincoln heard Katie and Elder Stow arguing. 

            “I did not know you had infra-red glasses,” Elder Stow sounded defensive.

            “Night goggles,” Katie responded.  “Standard issue for an assignment like this.”

            “As is the blast of light.”

            “I understand.  Just warn us next time before you pull out a new technological wonder.”

            “Yes.”  Lockhart could hear the strain in Elder Stow’s voice.  “Mother.”

            “You alright?”  Lincoln wondered as they climbed down the riverbank to the beach.

            “Seeing spots,” Captain Decker said with no other comment.

            “Hey, where are the draft horses?”  Riah was concerned to notice and ask.

            “If there were six, my people will bring them along, shortly.”  The voice came out of the dark before a man some three feet tall stepped into the firelight.  Three guns were immediately pointed at the man along with two bronze swords in the hands of Vilder and Gunder.  “Am I right to assume the Kairos is among you?”  That helped lower the guns and swords and Lockhart spoke.

            “She is with her husband.”  He pointed.

            “Shhh.”  Katie came up beside Lockhart.  “Boston and Kined are better and Flern is asleep.”

            Several eyes looked over into the shadowed area where they could just make out Flern resting on Kined’s chest and Roland still holding tight but tenderly to Boston’s hands.

            The guns and swords went all the way down as Pinn stepped up.  “We thank you, er … “

            “Pigot, and gnome is the general designation.”

            “Imp still,” a woman’s voice joined the party.  She was hardly two and a half feet tall and probably would not have topped three feet even if she was not so old and bent over.  “There’s imps and ogres all around, trolls and goblins underground, dwarves in the middle are ready to fight while elves and fairies live in the light.  All the sprits, too many to stand rest secure in the Kairos’ hand.  That’s called poetry.  I invented that.  What you got to eat around here?”

            “You invented poetry?”  Katie was stunned.

            “Well, Toth and that kid, Braggi helped some.”

            “We have elf bread,” Lincoln suggested.

            “And left over deer stew with something in it that used to be green.  Ouch.”  Kiren said ouch because Thrud, the cook hit him.

            “Please excuse Madam Livia,” Pigot spoke while the old imp scrambled down to the beach.  “She sees things and some think it has addled her brain.”

            “Addled my foot,” the old imp mumbled before she spoke up.  “Once an imp, always an imp.  That is an old and well known expression I just made up.”

            “Sees things?”  Katie wondered if this imp might be a seer, like the seers among the Amazons.

            The woman paused as she pulled up a ladle of the stew and turned up her nose.  “Sure.  Thirty goblins moving down the mountains in the dark.  Some fifty dwarfs marching through the hills and three dozen elves rowing down the river all planning to meet up with this caravan and bring the gold home.  I can see you will have to let me do the cooking.”

            “Bronze.”

            “Eh?”

            “We are bringing bronze home, not gold,” Pinn explained.

            “I think she means the stuff you value,” Pigot said.

            “So, do you need all six of those horses?”

            “Pigot smurf,” Captain Decker mumbled as he sat and enjoyed his stew and bread.  The others settled down and Riah went back to sit beside Flern and Kined.

            “Seriously.  There’s good eating on one of those horses.  Ever had horse bacon?  Makes my mouth water to think of it.”

            “Yes we need the horses!”  Vinnu yelled.  She was uncomfortable around the sprites and still was not even sure about Riah and Goldenwing.  She buried her face in big Gunder’s chest.  He didn’t mind.

            “Fogbottom,” the old imp swore as she pulled out leaves, whole branches and all sorts of spices from unknown pockets and unseen pouches.  “Might at least make this edible.”  She began to add them to the stew as the gnomes brought in the draft horses.

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Avalon 2.9  Morning Surprise.

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Avalon 2.9 Overstepping Boundaries

            What have the Jaccar got against red hair?  Boston took an arrow in the middle and is laid out on a stretcher.  Decker has identified the young people on the riverbank as well as the Jaccar warriors surrounding them.  The travelers all feel the need to get to those young people and help, but it may not be so easy breaking through the enemy lines.

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            Thrud was cooking again, though it was hard to do it well and stay behind the trees.  Her husband Kiren kept an eye out in case there was more moving grass.  Goldenwing, in his normal, small fairy size, stayed up a treetop.  He wanted to watch the field, but also the distant rise where the hundred Jaccar warriors remained hidden and were no doubt planning their next move.

            Riah the elf stayed with Flern, her mistress, and together they hovered over Kined,.Flern had immediately gone away from that place so Doctor Mishka could come and tend Kined’s wound properly.  She got the arrow out easily enough, but the hole in Kined’s thigh bled a lot, even through the doctor’s stitches.  Now Kined was sleeping because of the potion the Doctor cooked up and all Flern could do was sit and hold his hand and fret.

            “What are we going to do?”  Vinnu looked up at Gunder’s face.  He looked at Vilder and Pinn, the leaders of the expedition, not counting Flern, of course.

            “I still say we should have made barges to carry the wagons as far as we could downriver before we needed to turn inland,” Gunder said.

            “Too late for that now,” Pinn replied.

            “Besides,” Vilder spoke up he tossed a pebble out into the river.  “Flern was right about that.    All that bronze would have been too heavy for any barges we could build..”

            “But what if the Jaccar get the bronze?  How will we ever set our village free?”  Vinnu was thinking which was not necessarily a good sign.  “The wagons are just sitting out in the grass begging to be stolen.”

            “Not to mention all of our horses grazing, just out of reach,” Pinn added.

            “They probably will get the bronze,”  Gunder rubbed Vinnu’s back gently.  “But only after they kill Flern and the rest of us.”

            Vilder gave Gunder a look to suggest he was not helping.  “The object is to figure out some way to prevent that from happening.  We can sneak out after dark and arm ourselves from the wagons so maybe we can defend ourselves, but it is still ten to one against us and the Jaccar have us trapped here against the river.”

            “Hush,”  Pinn said.  “Think.”  And then Thrud spoke up.

            “Supper’s ready.”

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            Roland tied Boston and her floating stretcher to the back of his horse like he would a travois.  Elder Stow rode to one side of Boston and Lincoln rode to the other side to be sure Boston did not fall off in transit.  Roland did not want to move her at all, at first.  The wound in her gut was severe, but Boston insisted they help Flern, and at present she was sleeping, and with the Gott-Druk’s anti-gravity disc holding her up so she did not bump and drag across the ground he decided she might not even know she was moving.   

            Captain Decker took the lead, though he confessed seeing things from the air was different from seeing things on the ground.  They understood, but started right out in a straight line for the river.  He said it was not far and they ought to reach the young people by nightfall, but he could not guarantee that because it might be slow going.  There would be streams and small rivers to cross where all of the water from the Carpathian mountains drained down into the Danube.  Still, he reasoned the riverside was the only way to approach Flern and her people and avoid the hundred or so warriors he saw camped out on the grasslands.

            “It would not have done any good,” Lockhart spoke softly to Katie who rode beside him.  “This is the way we would have had to go anyway, more or less.”

            “But what do we do when we get there?”  Katie asked.  “What is to prevent us from becoming trapped against the river with Flern?”

            Lockhart shook his head.  “I don’t know, but Decker, mister move on as soon as possible picked this route.  I have to assume he has some plan in mind.”

            “I don’t know.  He has changed since the eagle became his totem and he spent several centuries in that Agdaline sleeper.”

            “Changed,” Lockhart nodded.  “But still a former Navy Seal now assigned to the Marines, like special assignment.  He thinks military and I don’t suppose that has changed.”  After a moment he had a question.  “So how is it a Seal gets reassigned to the regular Marines?”

            “State Department,” Katie responded quietly.  “Embassy service available for other special assignments.”

            “Like this one, working for Colonel Weber and the area 51 crowd?” 

            Katie nodded.   “The Marine uniform is something like a disguise.”

            “And you, Lieutenant?”

            Katie frowned before she grinned, and she only grinned because she saw Robert was smiling at her.  “Pentagon, straight out of graduate school, and overdue for a promotion.  But I guess the Pentagon does not have much call for a specialist in ancient cultures and technologies.  Neither did area 51, until now.”

            “Well I am glad you are here.”

            “Me too.  I mean I am glad to be here, too.”

            They were smiling at each other when Decker rode by.  “We are supposed to be keeping our eyes open for the enemy,” he said, and rode up to Roland.  Katie and Lockhart both turned their heads to watch.  Decker pointed to the woods by the Danube.  They had come up on a small tributary.  Roland nodded and turned to the Gott-Druk.  Elder Stow got out some piece of equipment and after a quick look he also nodded.  Decker waved to them all and started up the small river away from the Danube, riding at a good pace.  They followed.

            It was a short distance before Decker turned the troop to cross the tributary.  The water in that place was slow and meandering, and not too deep.  The horses swam it easily enough and Boston stayed above it the whole time.  She had a bit of a fever by then and getting soaked would not have helped.

            Once on the other side, Decker picked up the pace and rode them angling back toward the Danube.  When he saw a place where the trees stretched out to cover some of the plains, he turned them in.  Roland rode through that small bit of woods to the other side and took Boston with him.  He pulled his bow and unsnapped his sword and knife, just in case.

            “What is going on?”  Boston asked without opening her eyes.

            “Hush,” Roland said.  “Some more of those men.  They probably had the same idea we had, to sneak up on the Kairos from the flank, er, side.”

            “I know what a fllank is,” Boston said and rolled to her side before she immediately returned to lie on her back with an expression of pain on her face.  Roland just stared at her.  The concern showed on his face.

            Lockhart and the others had tied off their horses and had their weapons ready.  Elder Stow still had that sonic device.  He had yet to show a real weapon of any consequence, though no one doubted he had one.  But Lockhart imagined the sonic device would work well on the horses, so he did not say anything.  Besides, they could hear the horses moving slowly through the bushes by the river. 

            A rock outcropping caused the horsemen to vacate their cover and move to the grasses.  There they became open season.  When they were close, Captain Decker said nothing, he just opened fire.  Lockhart and Katie might have wanted to talk first, but they had no choice but to join Decker in the slaughter.  It did not take long to down eight men, and three of the horses were down as well.

            “Jaccar,” Lincoln named the men when the firing stopped.  “According to the database they were probably under the spell of the Wicca and unable to do anything but follow orders.”

            “You mean enchanted?”  Katie used the word.

            Lincoln nodded as Decker spoke.  “So it was kill or be killed.”

            “Fair enough,” Lockhart said with a glance in Katie’s direction.  Then he exploded.  “But next time you ask me and share your information.  This is my decision.  And we don’t kill if there is any possible way to avoid it, is that clear?”

            Decker straightened up.  “Yes, sir.”  He added the sir softly, but he understood.

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Avalon 2.9  Healings … Next Time

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Avalon 2.9: The Army of Invention

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After 3440 BC in the Ukraine.  Kairos life 29: Flern

Recording…

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            Flern felt cold hands on the back of her neck.  She shrieked and jumped.  Thrud looked up from her cooking and laughed.  Vinnu, who was leaning back comfortably in Big Gunder’s arms while he leaned against a tree hid her smile.  The boys, Gunder and Kiren knew better than to smile at all, much as they might have liked.  Flern frowned, but as she looked up, Kined bent down and kissed her.  That was fine.  She was suddenly not mad anymore.  Flern and Kined had been married for almost a whole month.

            “Where is Vilder?” Kined asked as he grabbed the seat next to his wife.  Flern took his hand and smiled at her own thoughts.

            “He took Pinn past the trees to the little beach on the river,” Kiren said as he patted Thrud’s butt gently to move her over in order to snitch a pinch of the deer to taste test.

            “It’s not done yet,” Thrud protested.

            “Seems we need to throw a bucket of water on those two,” Gunder spoke up while Vinnu squirmed into a more comfortable position in his arms.

            “The river is cold,” Kined suggested, but with a look at Flern he verbalized, “The Danube,” before he finished his thought.  “Maybe we could throw them in.”

            “You’re talking about Vilder and Pinn?”  Vinnu was half-listening as usual.  No one answered her.

            “So where are Riah and Goldenwing?” Kiren asked as he retook his seat to wait for the deer to be done.  Flern said nothing.  She merely looked at Kined, let go of his hand, took his arm and inched up close beside him.  Kined tried to look serious.

            “Let me see.”  He concentrated despite Flern’s attempt to tickle him.

            Thrud spoke an aside to Vinnu.  “Riah and Goldenwing might as well pair off, too.”

            “But we are all married, not just paired off,” Vinnu responded, not quite sure what Thrud was suggesting, but by then Thrud eyed Flern who ignored her friend to focus on her husband.

            “Er!” Kined started to speak but first he had to peal Flern’s free hand off his knee.  “Riah and Goldenwing went out to hunt and scout ahead for when we leave in the morning.  They are – wait.  What?”  Kined jumped up and shoved Flern to the ground in the process.  Flern let out a shout of protest even as an arrow struck Kined in the thigh.  Kiren jumped up and Gunder deposited Vinnu on her rump in the grass as he leapt to help.

            Goldenwing the fairy zoomed up and got big so the others would be protected behind him and his golden armor.  “To the river!” he shouted as a second arrow hit the log Flern and Kined had been using as a seat.  Goldenwing pulled his bow from some invisible pocket, but Riah already had hers out and the elf maid was coming on faster than any human could possibly run.  She let two arrows fly in the span of a single breath and a grass carpet out in the open field began to rise before it fell back to the dirt to never move again.

            “To the woods by the river,” Goldenwing shouted again as he readied his bow and Riah came up huffing and puffing from her run.  She was elf fast, but she was not fairy fast.

            “Kined!”  Flern yelled her concern as Gunder and Kiren helped Kined walk to the river.  She stuck her head up, but there was another arrow.  It fell short, but Flern put her head right back down.  This time Riah and Goldenwing shot together and another grass rug stopped moving.

            “Now.”  Riah nudged Flern with her foot, but everyone paused when they heard the sound of thunder coming on fast.  Flern stood, but someone stood in front of her.  It was Vrya, the Aesgard goddess of love and war. 

            “My son,” Vrya said and touched Flern’s face gently.  “Even when you are my daughter.”  The goddess smiled and another figure appeared.

            “I don’t belong here,” Artemis said.  “I just came to tell you if you have to escape across the river I could maybe help.”

            “I invite you,” Vrya also smiled for the Olympian.  “As my sister among the Amazon, you are welcome to kill as many of these men as you wish.”  And with that word more than a hundred horsemen came into view, in a full charge.  Goldenwing and Riah could only stare in awe as the two goddesses looked at each other before they let loose a virtual rain of arrows on the oncoming horsemen.  It was only moments before those horses turned toward a distant rise they could hide behind.  They abandoned their dead and wounded as they rode for their lives.

            The goddesses stopped firing at once and their bows disappeared as they turned toward Flern.  Vrya slipped one arm around Flern’s shoulder and Artemis slipped her arm over from the other side.  In this way, the goddesses turned Flern toward the river and spoke as they walked.  Goldenwing, fairy small again sat on Riah’s shoulder and they followed.  The cooking fire with the deer still cooking away also followed them to the riverbank.

            “I shouldn’t be here,” Vrya said.

            “I really shouldn’t be here,” Artemis repeated herself with a nod.

            “But maybe if these Jaccar think we are still here, they won’t try another charge.”

            “I can’t speak for the ones in the grass.”  Artemis glanced around.  It was all grasslands apart from the trees that lined the riverbank.  The three wagons that carried the bronze making equipment and bronze weapons that Flern and her friends were trying to get home to liberate their village from these very Jaccar sat idle in the grass.  All of the horses Flern and her crew rode and with which they pulled the wagons also grazed essentially undisturbed by what just happened.

            “Of course,” Vrya spoke again as they stepped behind the trees.  “Since I am not really here, you will have to find your own way out of this mess.”  She kissed Flern on the cheek and vanished.

            Artemis turned to face Flern.  “Sorry about your man getting shot.  Probably another reason why I don’t want one.”  Artemis smiled for Flern like it was some kind of inside joke.  “But seriously, if you decide to cross the river, I will help.”

            Flern looked back across the grass toward the rise that hid the Jaccar.  “It may come to that, but first I have to do everything I can to keep the bronze from falling into Jaccar hands.  They are a terror with stone and copper.  With bronze they would be unstoppable.”

            Artemis merely nodded and planted her own more tentative kiss on Flern’s cheek before she vanished as well.

            Flern paused and looked around.  She was at the bottom of the four foot river bank beneath the trees.  The deer was still cooking at the top of the bank, above her shoulder in a slight clearing among the woods that she never noticed before.  Kined grinned for her though his pain and the others all looked at her, including Vilder and Pinn who had obviously dressed quickly.  Flern frowned again.

            “Okay,” she said.  “How do we get out of this one and keep the bronze out of Jaccar hands?”  That was all she could say before she stepped over to Kined to hug him and cry all over him. 

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Avalon 2.9:  Dead and Wounded … Next Time

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