Avalon 8.7 Escaping, part 1 of 6

After 914 A.D. North Coast of Egypt

Kairos 105: Yasmina, Arabian Princess

Recording …

Lincoln came around the wagon.  Tony mumbled, “Old Roman Road.”  Lincoln had the database out and read for a moment before Lockhart interrupted.

“Where are we?”

“We might be in Arabia.  Yasmina was born in Mecca, daughter of… the ruler of Mecca under the Abbasids. Sorry, I can’t pronounce the names.  It doesn’t matter because she ran away at age sixteen and…”  He had to read for a moment.  “I would guess we are somewhere on the coast of North Africa.  That could be anywhere between Egypt and Morocco.  Maybe Tunisia?”

Lockhart managed a grin.  “That certainly clears that up.”  Lincoln shrugged.

“Smells like Egypt,” Boston said as she and Katie came up beside Lockhart.  Katie pointed in the direction they were to travel.

“Looks hot,” Lincoln said.

“What is the word?” Tony shouted ahead from the wagon.  Nanette got down and got her horse.  That would be a little less for the mule to carry in this heat.

“Sun at our back this morning.  Sun in our eyes this afternoon,” Boston returned the shout, though that did not really say much.  Tony turned the wagon to the old Roman road, and they moved out.  Alexis had a comment when Nanette joined her on horseback at the back of the wagon.

“After so many time zones, I figure I am just along for the ride.  Hard to believe I have actually learned to trust the men to get us where we need to go.  Now, if only I could get them to stop and ask for directions.” she shrugged and almost laughed.  Nanette did not exactly understand but she got the gist of it.  “So, we can bring up the rear and work on your magic lessons.  Lincoln says the other earth will be out of phase in the next time zone so you won’t be able to practice for the next three hundred years, however many time zones that may be.”

“All right,” Nanette agreed.  She reached for her wand and she and her horse lifted about three feet off the ground, much to the horse’s protest.  They settled down after a moment, and Nanette smiled, but Alexis shook her head.

“Telekinesis is too easy for you.  We need to work on other things.  I was thinking we could work on our glamours so the next time you are in China, you can make yourself look Chinese.”

Nanette agreed.

Meanwhile, up front, Katie had a thought.  “We may have to walk the horses more in this heat.  Maybe we should think about getting Decker’s rope and let the horses take turns helping Ghost pull the wagon.”

Lockhart nodded and looked back.  Ghost seemed to be doing fine.  “Maybe take a longer lunch and stop a bit earlier in the evening,” he said.  He glanced at Lincoln, but Lincoln had his nose in the database and hardly paid attention to where he was going.  Fortunately, his horse had learned to follow the others.

Decker rode in from the wing.  “Too many sand dunes on the wing.  I’ll take a fly around at lunch.”  He fit himself in beside Lincoln.

Elder Stow reported in.  “I am picking up a large settlement about twenty-eight miles away. We may get there by evening, or in the morning depending on how far we get in this heat.”

“Roger,” Lockhart responded through his wristwatch communicator, but he said no more as Sukki came riding back from the front.

“We have people ahead, on the road,” she said.  “Five or six armed men on camels.  Boston called them Bedouins, but it was just a guess.  She said maybe Berbers.”

 “Fine,” Katie said, and thumbed Sukki to ride behind.  Sukki fit in beside Decker while Lincoln dropped back to lead the wagon.

It did not take long to catch up to Boston.  Elder Stow came in to ride beside her as they pushed into the line in front of Decker and Sukki.  Lockhart looked back to be sure Lincoln was far enough away to not hear the conversation well.  Hopefully, he would not shout out unwise answers to whatever questions these Berbers asked.

“You have come from Fustat?” the chief Berber asked without introducing himself.  He talked like a soldier not interested in small talk.  “This is the road to Fustat.”

“We were last in Norway,” Lockhart said.  They all still had the fairy weave they wore shaped and colored like the Norwegians and Vikings they lived around for the last ten days, so it was an easy admission.  “A land far to the north.  We are looking for places where we may trade.”  Trade was his one lie, a concession to simplify things.

The Berbers stared at the red and yellow hair in the group and did not doubt they were from a place most never heard of.  The Berber chief heard of something.  “I have heard of the land of ice and snow where the cold is so strong, even the bears turn white.”

“They have polar bears,” Lockhart said in a friendly manner, not knowing for sure, but he added, “It is normally not that cold.”

“There is a town ahead?” Katie asked.

The chief stared at Katie and her yellow hair.  He did not answer her.  Instead, he moved up to look at Decker.  “You are their slave and guide?” he asked.

“I am their protector,” Decker responded with a scowl and cradled his rifle in his arms.  The Berber took a careful look at the weapon, like he tried to figure something out, but he came out with another statement.

“I see two who look like they are from the land of silk.”  He went again to the front of the column.  “Your mule and horses will not survive this day without much water.  They are not so good in this heat.  Be warned.  The Fatimid have great ships to drive away your longboats, and the people have no liking for Vikings, peaceful traders or not.”

“You ride like a military column,” one of the Berbers pointed out.

“Safer,” Lockhart said.  “There are thieves on the road.”

The chief grunted and gave a short nod.  “And you have many women.”

“Wives,” Katie said, just to be safe.

The man grunted again and gave a sharp retort which got his men up and moving.  They quickly moved out of sight around a bend and behind a small ridge.

“I did not get a good feeling about that,” Katie said as they began to move again.

“Me neither,” Boston spoke up from behind

“Like maybe they are some of the thieves on the road?” Lockhart asked

“They seemed especially interested in Decker’s rifle,” Elder Stow said.

“No.”  Katie considered her options and concluded.  “Like a Masters bad feeling.”

“Yes,” Boston agreed.

The travelers kicked up plenty of sand and dust on the road that hardly qualified for a scrape in the ground.  Lincoln drank all of his water and had to refill his canteen at lunchtime.  They had a small barrel of water tied to the side of the wagon, a concession to having been in desert environments before, but no one checked it before leaving Norway.  It was half empty and tasted stale.

“I know water is water,” Alexis said over lunch.  “But we need to find some water in this time zone to fill our water supply.  I think some of the water in our barrel has been sitting in that barrel since Canterbury, if not from Charlemagne’s day.”

“Ugh,” Lincoln said. Lockhart did not look too good, and neither did Decker.  No one said much over lunch.

In the afternoon, it did not get better, especially when they realized they would not make the city before sundown.  They came to an improved road—the coastal road, but the sign pointed up the road to Alexandria, and the way they were headed, to El Alamein.  The sign said ten miles.

“Is that nautical miles?” Decker asked, attempting a joke, and rubbing his stomach.

“I would almost rather be in Arabia,” Lockhart said.  “At least that was dry heat and not so humid.”

“Just stay covered, head to toe, and keep your hats on,” Alexis said.  “Let the Berbers be your example.”

“I’m not sure those Berbers were a good choice.” Katie responded.  “Something felt wrong about them.”

“Still bothered by them?” Alexis asked.

Katie nodded and Nanette spoke up.  “I felt it too.”

Sukki said, “I know what you mean.”  She rode out to join Boston on the point while Decker and Elder Stow rode back out on the wings.

When they found a place off the road where a few palm trees and a couple of fig trees grew, though it did not provide nearly enough shade, they stopped for the night.  Lincoln said he would not be reporting that night, and promptly threw-up.  Decker also threw-up.  Lockhart set up his tent and immediately went to bed.  Tony gave Ghost a good rub down, but then he also disappeared into his tent, without supper.  Katie managed to get Elder Stow to set his screens around the camp before he went to bed and left the women to sit around the campfire and fret.

“A combination of something like heat stroke and bad water,” Alexis shared her diagnosis.  “The men are bigger and need more water.  We should feel lucky the horses are not showing any signs of illness.”

Katie nodded.  “One-woman watch tonight.  Nanette, Alexis, Me, Sukki, and Boston.  We should probably leave at first light when it is not so hot and make El Alamein in the morning.”

“We may need to take a day for the men to rest before we move on,” Alexis added, and they ate figs and elf bread before some went to lie down.

Avalon 3.11: part 3 of 5, Red and Yellow Hair

In the morning, Teti, Katie, Sakhmet, Boston, and Alexis headed for town to shop. There was not much to get, and not really any shops to speak of. There were workers in wood, clay, and metal, but nothing that would transfer well into the future, unless they could find something in gold or silver. Sadly, Thinis had to import everything metal, and that was mostly copper and a crude sort of bronze.

To be honest, most people made what they needed for themselves, or with the help of neighbors, and shortly the shopping trip became a time for visiting Teti’s friends, old and new. Kidrash, the fisherman’s wife, was one of her oldest and dearest friends. Kotemmi was another.

“But she gave herself to the temple of Nut, goddess of the sky, who was once married to Geb, the earth, and whose sister Mut is supposedly married to Amun, but is not so secretly sleeping with Set for the past five hundred or so years,” Teti explained.Teti market 5

“Horus kicked Set out of the two lands some time ago,” Sakhmet said, happily.

“You mean, glasses?” Alexis asked, and she put her hand to her face to show what she meant.

“That’s the one,” Sakhmet confirmed and Boston giggled as Alexis dragged Boston to look at the linen, mostly white, which was used for clothes, sails, blankets, doors and windows, and almost everything.

“I swear,” Kidrash said as they stopped to wait. “Teti, you were irreverent as a child and you haven’t grown one bit.”

“I am,” Teti nodded. “But it is hard, sometimes, given the company.” She nudged Sakhmet and Sakhmet nodded, vigorously.

“Sakhmetet,” Kidrash rolled her eyes and called the girl as she knew her to be Teti’s cousin from Abydos. She scolded them as if they were making a joke, and nudged Teti.. “Your cousin is as bad as you,” she said. “Just don’t be that way around Kotemmi. She takes her worship seriously.”

“So do most of the gods,” Teti admitted. “But sometimes it is all too serious for me. My father, one of them anyway,” Teti winked at Katie. “He said life is too important to be taken seriously.”

Teti guardThey all had to think about that for a minute, while they fingered what vegetables were in the market. Boston screamed. Alexis threw her arm out to protect Boston, but the three big men had spears and were not inclined to stop.

“Red hair. I wonder if it is red everywhere,” one man said

Katie said something else. “Stay here,” and she meant it.

One kick to the knee, and Katie put the first man down, possibly with a broken knee. The second one was quick. He poked at her with his spear, but she dodged and grabbed the shaft, stepped in, while her foot found his middle. He let out a great “Oof,” and she doubled the affect by ramming the butt end of his own spear into his stomach. Then she twisted the weapon to block the third man’s spear.

The man paused. Katie said, “Run,” and the man did as some of the men in the market came up to grab the two on the ground and chase the third.

Sakhmet ran up and threw her arms around Katie, and praised her to no end. They were both happy until one of the men in the market mentioned that the disruptive element were guards from the temple of Mehit, the lion goddess.

“Mine?” Sakhmet got mad, and would have said much more and done who knows what if Katie had not hushed her and calmed her down.

###

Boston 7When they arrived at the temple of Nut, Kotemmi came out to greet them. “Priestess,” Kidrash bowed. The others said hello, but minded their own business, except Sakhmet, who peeked over Kotemmi’s shoulder in an effort to see the temple inside.

“Red and Yellow hair,” Kotemmi said in a suspicious voice. “People told me, but I would not believe it until I saw with my own eyes.” Teti and Katie at least wondered what Kotemmi was suspicious about. Boston modeled her head.Katie 3

“And it is really red,” she said, knowing the rest of her appearance was a glamour imitating humanity.

“Don’t push it,” Alexis said an aside while Sakhmet all but leaned into the temple.

“So how is Nut’s sister, Mut these days, if you know?” she asked. “Most of us don’t get to see her much since she has been skipping down to Kush and Nubia to visit, you-know-who.” Kotemmi raised both eyebrows as she tried to make sense of what Sakhmet was saying. She was about to respond, when another priestess came and whispered in her ear.

“But come. Everything is prepared,” Kotemmi said, and they followed her into the dark.

Teti templeTeti took a good look at the candles, torches and braziers that gave light to the stifling gloom of the temple, and she wondered why the sky goddess didn’t have the roof removed to present herself. She supposed it would ruin all the food laid out on the altar if it ever rained. Teti caught the chanting from somewhere in a room behind the altar, and thought nothing of it. It was what priestesses did, but then Katie went stiff and her eyes glazed over. Boston fought it and let out a sharp sound. Sakhmet looked up from where Kotemmi was kneeling in front of a big statue meant to represent the goddess, Nut. It was like Sakhmet was preoccupied with trying to figure out how the sculptor got it all wrong. And Alexis moved.

With her wand in hand, Alexis stepped behind the altar and shot something into the back room. The sound from there became a muffled protest, like the woman’s tongue was glued to the teeth and the lips were glued shut. Then things got serious.

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

The second half of Avalon, episode 3.11 will post on Monday and Tuesday of next week.  Don’t miss it, the Festival of Marriage.

Teti wedding 4

Avalon 3.11: Festival of Marriage, part 1 of 5

After 2563 BC, Egypt. Kairos lifetime 44: Teti, the Lion in the Sky

Recording …

“Egypt,” Lincoln said. “Definitely Egypt.”

“I think even the horses could have told you that much,” Lockhart said.

“The big blue river was a bit of a giveaway,” Katie agreed.

“Personally, I was convinced by the sand crowding in toward the water,” Alexis turned her head back to look at Katie.nile river 2

Decker, who was riding alongside the group, looked at the group of jokers and pointed across the river. “It was the Jackals that convinced me.”

“It was the smell that convinced me,” Boston said from the front, having heard everything with those good elf ears of hers.

“Okay,” Lincoln surrendered. “I’ll dig a little and find out better where we might be.” He turned to the database to read.

Elder Stow came in from the riverside where he had been floating across the water. His eyes were glued to his newly recharged instruments. He slowed when he got close and ventured to speak. “Of course it is only a guess, but I think we may have returned to Egypt.”

###

Teti irrigationTeti stopped long enough to wipe the sweat from her brow. Her husband, Anak was slowly lowering the big bucket into the river, lifting it by leaning on the far end of the pole, turning it so the bucket was over the land, and puling the rope so the bucket dropped the water at the head of the irrigation ditch. From that spot, the water spread out to cover the field. The irrigation system was a wonder Teti put together some years ago. It meant the difference between life and death these last dry years. The flood stopped coming the way it used to and the fields needed as much help as they could get, especially since the tax men took most of it for the pharaoh’s court and his bloated bureaucracy.

“Teti,” Anak got her attention. “I heard your irrigation system has gotten all the way to Thebes, and been praised by one and all.” Talking was Anak’s way of taking a breather.

Teti nodded. “I only wish I had invented the automatic washer and dryer,” she said, took her rock and pounded on Koteph’s pants. Her third child—second son, was a five-year-old terror on his clothes.

“Why the frown,” Anak asked.

“I’m thinking of the drought,” she said, changing the subject. “We didn’t exactly get any help from the pharaoh.”

“No, but we aren’t any worse off for trying.” he tried to see the positive side of everything.

“That is because they haven’t figured out who we are yet.” Teti paused, and lightened up on hitting the Teti 3pants for fear that she would put a hole in the pants before Koteph did. She thought a washer with an agitator would really help.

“Maybe the women of Nut will succeed in opening the sky and bring the rains to help.”

“Sisters of Nut,” Teti mumbled, and named them like they were medieval nuns. “They have no control over the weather. The Ra wants to bake us and there is no escape.” Teti stood. She was tired of the sun. She was also miserably pregnant. She gathered the clothes in her basket and her frown deepened.

“I’ll be home in a little while,” Anak said.

Teti tried to smile, but she just couldn’t. She reached her home and got pittance from her children. Ankar accepted a brief hug. Koteph ran by with his friends and yelled, “Hi!” on the way past. At least I have my girls, Teti thought, and she hugged seven-year old Lenanni and got down to hug her three-year-old, Mia who was holding tight to Lenanni’s hand.

“Want a sister,” Mia said with a pat on Teti’s belly. Teti smiled, but already knew it was going to be another son. Last of all, Teti gave a pat to her forty-pound beast of a cat.

“Mother Bast, were the girls good today?” The cat said nothing as she began to clean a paw. “I know,” Teti responded all the same with a look over her shoulder at the boys. “But boys in this culture don’t have to behave.” She moaned and stood. “Mother!” She called.

Teti home 2Mother Nephthys came running out of the house, wiping her hands on an apron. “Is it time?” she asked.

“No mother,” Teti responded. “I’m only seven months. I’m just starting to feel it in my knees when I stand.”

Mother Nephthys grinned and reached to pick up Mia. “I like them when they are little.” Lenanni looked at her grandmother, and mother Nephthys responded. “You are all little to me.” Then she added a last thought. “Friends of yours on the horizon.” Teti looked south and shaded her eyes for a good look. She could not see anyone, so she rose up in the air, about ten feet above the ground and caught sight of Roland, Boston and Mingus leading the rest.

Teti twirled once, slowly, before she settled back down to the ground. She wanted to be sure no one noticed. Koteph and his friends saw, but to them it was no big deal. No one believed them, so they stopped talking about it some months ago.