Avalon 6.1 Little Things, part 6 of 6

On horseback, the travelers moved faster than on foot and made it back to Valmiki’s ashram in a single day.  Rama seemed happy.  He said he missed his wife.

When they came in, Sita came running out to him and threw her arms around him for plenty of kisses.  The only reason she reached him first was because he had to be careful getting down off the horse.

“You don’t run to me,” Lockhart mentioned with a pouty face.

“I walk fast,” Katie said.  “You are not allowed to be that far away.” Lockhart smiled.

“Children,” Lincoln said.  Alexis also smiled, and leaned over to kiss Lincoln.

After a time, Sita pulled back, excited about something.

“Come.  Lakshme.  Bring your friends.  I have to tell you all about it,” she said

The travelers found places to tie off their horses for the moment, and the women took the seats that remained there from the other night, while the men stood around.  They met Rama’s brother, Lakshmana, and then got quiet to listen.

“The very day you left, I stood for a long time by the path to the forest, awaiting your return.  Silly, I know.  I knew you would be gone for more than a few hours.  But there, I saw the most glorious sight I have ever seen, ever. I saw a deer, all golden.  It looked made of gold, and I thought, if I could just touch it.  It looked so beautiful.  Glorious. I wanted to have it and hold it. I walked very slowly and carefully so as not to frighten it, but when I went near, it became shy and ran away.”

“Golden?  A trick of the light,” Rama said.

“It was no trick,” Sita said. “Lakshmana saw it just today.  I thought it was lost to me, but it came back, not an hour ago.  Isn’t that right?”  Sita looked at Lakshmana, and he agreed.

“Golden, like made of gold,” he said. “But alive, nibbling on the plants.”

“I thought Zeus killed all the golden hind,” Lincoln remarked, out of turn.  That set off Lakshme.

“Shut-up,” Lakshme insisted, and pointed specifically at Katie.  “You especially shut-up.  I don’t want to hear one word out of any of you.”

Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, and Libra all looked at Lakshme with surprise, but after only a second, Sita began to plead with Rama to capture her golden deer.

“I am not hearing this,” Lakshme said. “I am not here.”  She got up to walk out into the compound.

“Where are you going?” Libra asked.

“I have to take my friends to the next place in their journey.”

Lockhart, not understanding what all the fuss was about, said, “Isn’t it getting kind of late?”

“Devi,” Lakshme called, nice and loud.  “Devi, my friend.  Please, I need you.”  Lakshme saw Valmiki coming up from the houses down the path.  “Devi.”

“I am here, my friend,” Devi appeared to Lakshme, but she did not appear to any of the others.  “Why are you so distressed?”

“I have a request.  Would you take me and my friends from the future with their horses and all of their things… and, and Libra to the next time gate? Please, history is happening very fast right now, and we need to not be here, please.”

“But what is it?” Devi sounded concerned.

“Please, if you love me, my friend.” Lakshme put on her most pleading face.

“You know I love you.  I owe you everything,” Devi said, as Valmiki stopped and gave Lakshme a look.

“So, it has gotten to talking to yourself and your imaginary friend Devi in public, I see,” Valmiki said.

Lakshme poked Valmiki in the chest. “I am not here,” she enunciated, slowly, even as she vanished, and the travelers and Libra vanished with her.

###

The travelers ended up somewhere near the Ganges delta.  Devi materialized so all could see her and hear her.  Libra, at least, bowed her head to the goddess, but Devi looked focused on Lakshme.  Devi tried the hands-on-hips routine, and the stern voice.

“Now, what is this all about?”

Lakshme sat down and began to weep. She shook her head, and Libra came to sit and weep with her.  Devi softened.  Katie opened her mouth, but Lakshme shouted.

“Shut-up.  Shut-up.”  Devi felt the surprise the others felt earlier.  “Three days,” Lakshme said more softly.  “Find me in three days.  Libra and I should be on the road somewhere.  I will tell you in three days.”

“All right,” Devi said slowly. “Three days,” and she vanished.

“Why couldn’t we speak?” Lincoln wondered.

“Because it hasn’t happened yet,” Katie said.  She honestly understood.

“What?” Boston asked for everyone.

“Rama goes in search of the deer,” Katie said.  “It is a demon trick—an Asura trick. Lakshmana gets tricked out of his duty to protect Sita…”

“Not the sharpest yo-yo on the string,” Lakshme mumbled.

“Sita gets kidnapped,” Katie finished and turned to Lakshme.  “But it turns out all right.”

“Mostly,” Lakshme nods.  “But you don’t know how hard it is.  Most of the time I have no idea what is going to happen. Usually, the next hundred years or so are a blur, at best.  But every once in a while, something comes to me crystal clear, and you have no idea how hard it is not to say anything.  Maybe you, of all people, will understand soon enough, especially when you know something bad is going to happen, and you could prevent it with a word, but you dare not say anything.”

“I think we can all imagine,” Katie said.

“And you better not say anything,” Lakshme raised her voice.  “You can’t say anything.  Don’t you dare say anything, no matter what… No matter what.” Lakshme cried some more, and Libra dutifully cried with her.

Lockhart looked around.  The sun started getting ready to set.  “Make camp,” he said.

“The time gate is right here,” Boston interrupted.  “Hey!  I thought you couldn’t get near the time gates,” she told Lakshme.  “I thought the one where we entered and the one we exited the time zone stayed equally far apart, with you at the center.”

“Special dispensation,” Lakshme said. “Devi is a brilliant woman, and the right choice to represent all the women on the high council of the gods. The gates should readjust as Libra and I move south.  Tomorrow.”

The travelers nodded, but no one said anything as they looked around at the trees and the sky.

“Standard watch,” Lockhart continued, having already said to make camp.  “We go through in the morning.”

************************

MONDAY

Avalon 6.2 Sudden Encounter.  The travelers meet the necromancer without realizing it, and find space aliens at war… oh, and face some skeletons.  Mustn’t forget the skeleton-zombies.

Until MONDAY, Happy Reading

*

 

Avalon 6.1 Little Things, part 1 of 6

After 882 BC Dandaka Forest.  Kairos lifetime 73: Lakshme, not Sita.

Recording …

“Put him over here.”  Lakshme walked to the back corner of the room, the only empty space in the building. She worried her hands, while Sita fetched a blanket for the poor man.  Devi examined the spider bite.  It looked red and swollen, like all the others.

“Same,” Devi said, just to confirm.

“Water,” the man breathed.  Libra, the elf maid who attached herself to Lakshme’s side, ran to fetch some water.

Lakshme wiped the sweat from her own forehead.  “Well, it is official.  Any more victims, and we will have to build a tent to keep them out of the rain.”

“Don’t worry about having room,” Devi said, as she took the water from Libra, let the man drink some and began to clean the bite with the rest. “I can help with that.”

“That is not how we are supposed to do it,” Lakshme said.  “We lowly human beings, with our short, short lives, need to learn to love one another, and do good for each other while we are here.  The gods can help, encourage, support us in our lives, but at some point, we need to grow up and do for ourselves.”

Sita covered the man with the blanket and got to her knees so she could hold the man’s hand.  “This way of works is hard,” she said.  Libra nodded and looked at Lakshme.

“Karma Yoga.  It is the least we can do.  It is our duty,” Lakshme said.  “I was reminded recently, several centuries ago, that all life is precious.  We do what we can to relieve the suffering and pain along the way.”

Devi looked up at Lakshme, though her attention seemed far away.  She changed the subject.  “Your friends are here,” she said, before she changed her mind and let out a little smile.  “My friends, I hope.  They are walking right into it.  I must warn them.”  Devi vanished.

“Friends?” Sita asked, and Libra looked like she also wondered. Lakshme could only shrug as they heard the door open.  The men came in.

“Girls,” Lakshmana stepped to the back of the room.  “Where did Devi run off to?”

Sita stood to give Rama a kiss.

Lakshme shrugged again and spoke around Sita to talk to Rama, directly. “We must go,” she said.  “This Rakshasa is the worst kind, attacking the people with a pestilence of stinging insects and spiders who carry a venomous poison.”

Rama nodded.  Sita looked like she wanted to tell him to stay, and not risk his life yet again; but she held her tongue.

“Can I go this time?” Lakshmana asked.  Rama shook his head and placed Sita under Lakshmana’s protection. Rama had come into the building first, and overheard something about Lakshme’s friends walking right into it. He figured Lakshme would go, and he would not trust Sita’s care to anyone else.  His brother, Lakshmana, would defend his wife, Sita, against all odds. Lakshme, on the other hand, seemed something like a goddess.  She had resources, as she said, and could raise an entire army of protection in the blink of an eye.  Rama had no one else.  One of them had to stay with Sita.

Libra stepped up, but Lakshme shook her head for the maid, in imitation of Rama.  “No, dear.” She patted Libra’s hand and raised her voice to talk to all of her little ones in the room.  “You have people to comfort and care for.”  She spoke to Libra.  “I have shown you how to make Doctor Mishka’s medicine.  Only some recover, but it is better than no hope at all.” She turned to Rama.  “We will take Pokara and his band of merry men.

Rama frowned, and made a sour face, but he did not say no.

###

The travelers came through the time gate and checked the sun to gauge how much time they might have before sundown.

“We may have a few hours,” Katie said, not otherwise making the decision.  “More if we arrived in the summer.”

“Feels like summer,” Lockhart agreed.

“No telling,” Lincoln countered. “The Indian subcontinent stays pretty hot for most of the year.”  He lifted his head to look around.  People followed his example.  “No telling where we came down in Lakshme’s life.  She moved around a bunch, chasing after alien pods of some kind.”  Lincoln glanced at Alexis.  “I need to do some reading.”

“Mountains behind us,” Elder Stow said as he stared at his scanner, before he put it away.

“Tree free ridge there,” Major Decker pointed, and looked at Boston.  She pulled out her amulet and pointed in more or less the same direction.

“What?” Sukki asked, softly.

“It is in the right direction, more or less,” Boston quietly answered her.  “The ridgetop, without trees to block the view, might give a good view of the area we have to travel through.

Lockhart did not wait.  He started them toward the top, though after a short way, they had to get down and walk the horses.  Decker and Elder Stow moved out a little on the wings.  Boston and Sukki straggled behind, as usual.

The ridgetop proved to be mostly meadow, with a few trees beginning down the other side.  They saw a river valley far in the distance, where the river cut through an odd combination of mixed jungle and dry landscape.

“I would guess the jungle sections follow the tributaries,” Katie said.

“Yes,” Lockhart understood.  “But, would it be easier to follow the path the rivers cut through the landscape, and maybe fight that jungle, or gallop across the drier areas.  Less fight, but more chance to get lost or run into people.”

“Dry areas,” Boston voted, though Lockhart did not ask for votes.  “I can keep us headed the right way.”

Lockhart looked at the others and better judged the position of the sun.  He looked around at the meadow, noting plenty for the horses to chew.  “Camp,” he said.  “Decker, would you mind looking ahead?  I know you can’t look under jungle canopy, but I am curious if the tributary might be a good path to follow.  Elder Stow.  Can you scan ahead and make a map thing, as far as your scanner can go, and then set up a screen around the camp to keep the horses penned in.  We don’t want one to fall off the ridge in the dark.”

“I can do that,” Elder Stow said, as he began to fiddle with his equipment.  “But the energy levels are running low.  I will have to find some way of charging my equipment soon.”  He got down and walked toward the edge of the ridge.  “From this height, we should get some good information,” he added.

Decker said nothing.  He simple dismounted and stepped over to sit on a large rock.  He would meditate and let his eagle totem lift his spirit into the sky where he could fly over the area and see what the eagle eyes could show him.

Avalon 5.3 Perseverance, part 6 of 6

When the travelers packed, and the sun just touched the horizon, and a mist crept out of the forest and came up off the river, Vishnu and Varuna came to visit.  Varuna went straight to the travelers, shook their hands and hugged Boston.  “There will be peace,” he said. and they all said how happy they were for him.

Vishnu stayed aloof.  He had met the travelers, in Zisudra’s day, but he had not had an occasion to get to know them properly, much less grow close to them.  The travelers did not mind, and Padrama, who stopped long enough to say good-bye, had Mohini on his mind.  Vishnu said he only came to see the woman.  He said he liked the name Mohini, so she had one point in her favor already.  He asked about her appearance.  Pardama did not answer the god directly.  Instead, he asked the travelers if they knew what the Kama Sutra was.  When Katie said, surely it had not been written yet, Padrama declared that he was going to write it, with Mohini’s guidance.

“You’re nineteen, aren’t you?” Katie asked.  When Padrama said yes, she said, “That explains it.”  But she did not explain anything.

Padrama told them he did not plan on going anywhere for at least a week, so the time gate should remain in place for all that time.  The travelers moved toward the setting sun, and for two days, they passed through villages and hamlets where they found the people warm and friendly.  The locals were not at all like the crazy people they saw before the gods settled things.

“This is a wonderful land of mystery,” Katie said, pulling in deep breaths of fresh air.

“As long as we don’t get too close to the forest by the mountains,” Artie said.

“I was just thinking the same thing,” Boston spoke up, and Artie looked back at her and laughed, nervously.

Decker rode up, and the group stopped.  “Trouble up ahead,” he reported.  “I would guess the Aryans have broken out from the Indus, but some don’t seem to have gotten the word that this is a migration, not an invasion.”

They rode up close and spied from behind some trees.  A group of thirty or forty men, looking like soldiers, were in the village, driving people into the streets, killing some at random, and burning the houses. Six men in three chariots kept back and watched.  It looked like they did not want to get their hands dirty.

“We should do something,” Alexis insisted.

“Dare not,” Lockhart responded.

Boston noticed the symbol painted on the side of one chariot.  She voiced her surprise.  “It looks like the Nazis were Aryans after all.”  She pointed.  “A swastika.”

“Look again,” Katie said.  “The swastika shows a man running to his right.  That man is running to his left.”

“Man?” Boston said, and tilted her head to say, “Oh.”

Katie continued.  “Hitler stole the symbol and the whole Aryan notion, but the photograph he saw printed it backwards, like a mirror image.”  Katie shrugged.

“Trouble,” Decker said, as soon as they were seen.  The chariots turned to face them and started toward them.  Lockhart knew they could outride any infantry pursuit, but he was not sure about chariots.  Some ground would be harder on wheels, but they might catch up on flat, level ground.  He decided to talk first, but he pulled his shotgun while Katie pulled her rifle and the rest armed up.  Decker, of course, never holstered his rifle.

“Hello friends,” Lockhart shouted.  He had some lame idea about saying that he noticed they were busy and he did not mean to intrude, so they would just ride on, but before he said anything, a mean looking man with blue skin appeared between them and said, “No.  I know what those weapons can do.”

The blue man glowed with his holy presence, and the travelers trembled.  They had forgotten how awesome the gods could be.  Most of the gods toned themselves down to almost nothing when they came around the travelers, but that was no guarantee they all would be so kind.

The chariots appeared back where they had been, like nothing happened, and the man said, “Go.”  The travelers found themselves transported to a small clearing in some unknown woods.  They startled a tiger.  It roared.  It found an arrow in its side.  It fell, and would not be getting up again.

“Who did that?” Lockhart asked.

“Endangered species,” Alexis complained more softly.

A woman stepped out from the trees and smiled.  She carried the bow, so everyone assumed she fired the arrow.  “I am Mother Devi,” she said.  “I wanted to meet you before you left.”

“Thank you for saving us from the tiger,” Boston spoke up, plenty loud, having been scared first by Shiva and then by a tiger.

“Yes, thanks,” Artie echoed.

“You are more than welcome little elf, or should I say, Little Fire.  And you, too, ART with numbers.  I feel for your people who only wish to be free.  Curious.  I cannot read what is on your minds very well at all.”

“The hedge of the gods,” Lincoln said.  “Brahma and Varuna were among those who first set that up, I think.”

Devi nodded.  She waved her hand over the tiger and a perfectly skinned tiger disappeared, while the skin floated in the air.  “I think I will give this to Shiva for his disappointment in not having his great war.  Call it compensation.”

“A consolation prize,” Decker joked.  Devi laughed, but just a little.

“I don’t know,” Lockhart said.  “He seemed pretty set on destroying something if you ask me.”

Devi smiled again.  He makes at little plays, but it will not last.  Soon enough he will be back to his meditation, and I understand he plans to teach his new son how to meditate.  That should be interesting.”

“Hey!” Boston interrupted.  “The time gate is right in front of us.”

Lockhart looked at Boston before he looked again at the beautiful goddess.  “It is our habit to enter the next time zone first thing in the morning.”

Devi looked at the sky to judge the time.  “Excellent.  I wanted some time to talk to you women.  I understand in the future you are liberated.  Is that the right word?”

“Uh-oh,” Lincoln said quietly.  In that moment, the sky opened-up, like the monsoon finally caught up to them.  All the same, Lockhart said for everyone to get down and set up camp.  He had the feeling it was going to be a long night.

Luckily, Devi sensed their distress and put up a dome of protection that stopped the rain from reaching them.  Elder Stow, who had gotten out his screen device, put it away, and shrugged.  Devi was still speaking.

“Thanks to Padrama, that brilliant young boy, I have been included in the first rank in this new place.  It is a great and exciting privilege, but I have begun to think it is also a great responsibility.  We need to talk.”

“There will be some things about the future we cannot tell you,” Alexis said.

“Agreed.  There may be some things I also cannot tell you,” Devi said.

Katie stepped up and looked directly at Devi, before she followed her instinct and hugged the woman.  “Congratulations, and welcome to the club.”  She stepped back to see a small tear in Devi’s eye.  Artie, who stayed on Katie’s elbow had a question.

“Do you know Anath-Rama?  She is my goddess, and for my people.”

“I am sure she is a wonderful woman,” Devi said, with a genuine smile returned despite the speck in her eye.  “She must be special to be goddess for such a lovely young woman.”  That made Artie return the smile, and they were friends from that moment on.

************************

Monday

The travelers find themselves in the Land of Goshen, which is to say, Egypt, where the mysteries run deep, and the daughters multiply.  Enjoy the warmth in an otherwise cold December.

Happy Reading