Elect II—2 Amazons, part 2 of 3

As Emily limped to her suite, her thoughts turned to Ms Maynard, her Earth Science teacher from last spring.  The woman was not like the other Professors.  She did not just hate the students.  She hated the whole human race and acted like she would not mind if everyone just died.  Emily wondered briefly why the woman came to mind.  She was trying very hard to forget that class.

Emily shook her head to clear her mind, but thoughts about her destiny kept bubbling up to the surface.  She decided that given the chance, this whole being elect business could make her paranoid.  She was seeing shadows around eye-witless news, professors Granger, Maynard and this new professor Orlov.  There might not be any shadows at all.  She took a deep breath even as something occurred to her that she had forgotten.  Pierce once mentioned that he had a younger brother.  And Doctor Zimmer, his maker was still missing.  Please, she prayed, don’t let them come back here.

zenobia-3“And why do you not want them to come back here?” A woman asked.  The woman was pacing Emily, and Emily did not even know it until the woman spoke.  It startled her, but in her mind she responded, because she did not want that kind of fight if she could help it.

“Yes, it is wise not to fight unless you must,” the woman agreed.  “But I thought you were afraid he would remind you too much of Pierce.”

“Yes,” Emily whispered her admission, but her mind mostly thought that she just wanted a quiet semester.  As far as it went, she told the reporter the truth.

“And I wish you could have a quiet semester too.”  The woman smiled and Emily stopped cold.  This woman was reading her mind.  “Sit,” the woman said, and Emily saw two chairs around a small table where there had been only grass.  She suddenly realized they were just outside her new dorm, but she knew she did not limp nearly that far.  She sat slowly because of her ribs, and saw a tall to-go cup on her side of the table.  “Chai Latte.”  The woman pointed to the cup and picked up a bottle of water for herself.

“Who are you?” Emily asked.

“Zoe,” the woman said, and added, “Yes I am real, and yes we are really here, not dreaming, and no I am not an angel.”  Zoe gave the answers even as Emily framed the questions in her mind.  “Honestly!” Zoe sipped her water and rolled her eyes just like Emily.  “Angels are sexless.  I can’t imagine it.”

Emily sipped her Chai Latte and examined the woman, and Zoe was all woman.  She was dressed in what looked like a toga, but more like a mini-skirt version.  The sleeves barely went beyond the shoulder and the neckline plunged more than necessary.  It was pure white besides, and clean, which at the least said something about the woman’s choice of detergent.  Zoe’s sandals tied up to her knees, and they were brown, a match for her light brown hair.  She also wore a choker with a small stone that Emily guessed was supposed to be an emerald.  The green stone matched the woman’s green, deep set eyes which were so piercing, Emily had to look away.  All the same, Emily put out her finger to touch the woman’s shoulder, just to be sure.

“There, feel better?” Zoe asked.

Emily nodded and got a question all the way out.  “So what do you want with me?”

“Here’s the thing.”  Zoe shifted in her seat so she could face Emily better.  “With all I have on my plate right now, what with the Kargill-Reichgo war starting up,” Zoe paused to point at the sky so Emily might guess that was something outer spacey. “And earth politics and international relations bottoming out.  Don’t get me started.  And Melanie fighting off dimensional interlopers, and poor Lockhart trying to take over after Bobbie retired.  And my little ones.  There is trouble in the ranks!  Who would have thought it in this late day and age?”  Zoe clicked her tongue.  “Well, it is more than a lot.  You see, I am not sure I can handle the revival of a real Amazon tribe right now.”

“I’m not sure I can either,” Emily admitted.

“But here is the thing,” Zoe repeated.  “There is something about this place, this campus that is hidden even from my sight.  If I had the time I would never let such a mystery go.  Alas, as my elect, you will have to figure it out.  You and your tribe will have three years to do it.”

“Your elect?”

“Of course, silly.  Who do you think elected you?”

“I thought it was all the ancient goddesses and stuff.”

zoe-1Zoe just looked at Emily and smiled before she spoke again.  “As my elect, you must be queen of the tribe, but you must learn that an Amazon queen never acts alone.  She listens to her counsel.  There are three to her left that face the darkness and three to her right that face the light.  On your left is the hunter, that is Jessica.  The spirit of Artemis is in her though she hardly knows it.  Beside her is the Sybil, your seer Amina.  She must learn it is not always wise to say everything she sees.  Closest to the darkness is your spell caster, Melissa.  I know her power is small, but she is the one always in most danger of falling into the dark.  Her rules are simple.  First, she should not practice her art against those who have no such power to defend themselves.  Second, she must never practice her art for selfish ends, not ever.”  Zoe shook her finger at Emily.  “All of you must do you own homework the old fashioned way and get a good education.  Am I clear?”  Emily felt the scolding in her gut, and nodded as Zoe sighed.  “Just like instructing my children, but then that was five thousand years ago.”

Emily swallowed.  “And what of the three that face the light?”

“To your right hand is your wise woman, Mindy.  She knows the lore, the legends and the ancient ways.  When you face something inexplicable, she is the one who can find a way to explain it.  Her stories are instructive as well.  Let her whisper in your ear.  Beside her is Maria, your healer, filled with the spirit of Eir, though she does not know it.  Every Amazon tribe needs a healer, and Maria has the drive and the smarts to become a great one.  And the last is your priestess, set a bit apart.  She is your Liaison with the source of all things, with the light, with me, and with the universe.  She will not only keep you morally grounded, but spiritually grounded as well if you let her.”

“But wait.”  Emily held up her left hand and counted.  “Jessica the hunter, Amina the Sybil, Melissa the witch.”

“Spell caster,” Zoe corrected.  “A much nicer term than witch, don’t you think?’

“Spell caster,” Emily repeated and held up her right hand.  “Then Mindy the wise and Maria the healer, but that is everyone.  Who is this priestess?”

“I will send her.  I got her reassignment rescinded.  She will be here for three more years with you.  Now I must go.”

“Go?”

ac-emily-7“Lead your tribe.  Solve my mystery.  Somewhere there is a door open to Avalon.  Creatures have escaped.  You met one.  The world is in danger of going mad, blah, blah, blah…”  Zoe disappeared.  She literally vanished and took the two chairs, the drinks and little table with her.  Emily fell hard on her butt in the grass.

“Hey!”  Emily instinctively reached for her broken ribs before she paused.  She stood and ran in place for a second.  She jumped up and down several times.  She Planted her feet and twisted her trunk to the left and right.  There was zero pain.  She was completely healed.  She could not help looking up to the sky and mouth her thoughts.  “Thank you.”

She only felt slightly surprised, and maybe a little disturbed, when she heard the words plain as day, “You’re welcome.”

Avalon 3.9: part 3 of 5, Showdown

“Listen up,” Lockhart said again, and the sound echoed off the distant mountains. The people held their breath. “This is not your stopping place. All of you said you were told to go until you reached the river. This is not the river. And we cannot protect you if you do not do what you are told. Remember, there are others behind you who want to take your place and rule over you. It is time to move on, before anyone else gets hurt.” He handed Elder Stow’s sonic device back to him and turned, as a man threw a rock at him, or more accurately, picked a rock up with his mind and heaved it at him. Lockhart raised his hand to fend off the missile, but at half the distance, the rock turned into two pigeons and they flew away.zis pigeons

“For your own safety, go.” Lockhart added, not in the echo voice, but plenty loud enough for the rock thrower to hear.

Roland and Lincoln moved up beside Lockhart and Elder Stow. “Nice moves,” Lincoln said. “More than half of these various shaded brown and dark brown people are mixed blood, but plenty of it is Shemsu blood. They should build some nice cities.”

“Not if they never get there, and we can’t help them,” Lockhart admitted. “It was fun playing god for a few moments, but we are not gods and have no business pretending.”

“As I told Boston,” Roland said. “She felt the woman’s pain. The woman lost her husband, or her man. Maybe you have to be an elf to really understand that sort of empathy. But I told her it did not matter because there was not anything we could do about that.”

“How did you turn the stone into birds?” Elder Stow looked stumped on a different point.

varuna on the road“I did that.” There was another man beside them that they had not noticed. He waved hello. “I hope you don’t mind. The people made up their own minds, I understand. But it does not look good to fail to a rock.”

Lockhart took a close look before he spoke. “Thank you, Varuna. That is two I owe you, at least.”

“You take responsibility for the one now turned elf?”

“It is my job to get us home, alive if at all possible, and disrupt history as little as possible in the process. Boston was dying. You saved her and gave her another chance to get home. Thank you.”

“Yes,” Varuna nodded. “I understand this sort of responsibility, and I wish you only well. For me, I only wish it was so easy.”

“You are facing a war,” Lincoln said.

“I am still trying to prevent a war among the gods.” Everyone nodded.

Out on the field, Katie found a woman pacing her, floating in the air to be eye level, and moving at the speed of the horse with no problem. The woman had blonde hair, and blue eyes, and Katie was afraid to say her name.

“Shivishuwa,” the woman said. “And you should not fear to say my name. I get called many things through time.”zis goddess 2

“A cathartic god. A god of the dead?”

“Yes, that’s right.” She seemed pleasant enough. “You know, I can’t get with Amazons, but I understand Anath-Rama has established a real Woman’s paradise over by the Black Sea.”

“Don’t tell me. We get to drink wine and have our nails done and get messages and pedicures while the men all cook and do the laundry.”

Shivishuwa laughed. “Something like that. I like you. Maybe not Amazons, but I think you can be fun. I know,” Shivishuwa held up her hands to forestall the objections “The elect are supposed to defend the innocent women and children, not be offensive.”

“For the record, I don’t like being possessed.”

“I didn’t possess you, exactly. I just nudged you to say the thing you were not willing to say, and do something you wanted to do.”

zis goddess 1“I did not want to hurt that man.”

“No, but you wanted a test for your skill., and it would not have been bad to kill him. He is a coward.”

“I didn’t kill him.”

Shivishuwa shrugged. “With his bad attitude, he won’t last long.”

“Whose bad attitude?” a man asked. Katie stopped her horse and stared. There were roughly three hundred men standing there. The missing men, she thought. Katie looked again to the side, but Shivishuwa was gone.

“Zisudra?” Katie asked.

“Right,” a middle aged man responded. “As usual, your timing is impeccable, either good or bad, depending on you point of view.”

“Zisudra!” A streak of running madness, faster than a cheetah full out, came racing up and threw her arms around the man. “Zisudra. I love you. I didn’t know if I would because you are a man, but I do. I really do, and I miss you when I am not with you.”Zisudra 1

“I don’t hug,” Zisudra said, and Boston extracted herself, looking embarrassed. “But in this case, I am willing to say, Boston!” He shouted her name and waved like they were far away, though they were face to face.

“Zisudra!” Boston returned the shout and the wave, and almost giggled for joy.

Katie turned her horse and spoke. “Now that the important things are over, let’s go and find out what is happening with the rest of the crew.”

“Captain Harper,” Zisudra said. “You are hanging out with Lockhart too much. You are learning his sarcasm.”

Katie put one hand to her mouth and Boston nodded. “You are,” Boston said.

“Men,” Zisudra spoke up. “You might as well catch up with the women and children while I find out why they are still here.”

“We kind of ran into them and they were delayed for a day,” Katie said.

“Sorry,” Boston added.

“I’m glad I sent them ahead so they could get to safety,” Zisudra said in his own version of sarcasm. He stopped at the edge of the camp and shook his head. “Now I have run out of options.”

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.

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            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. 

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            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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