Avalon 6.6 The Count, part 2 of 6

Muhamed was not a doctor.  He could only guess at what chemical reactions might be taking place within the woman’s living human body.  His elixir of life had been made to bring the dead back to life, not bring life to living tissues.  The woman developed a high fever.  He knew that much, even if he was not a doctor.

When the woman stiffened, he imagined the elixir killed her.  He thought, double life might be death.  She felt cold to his touch, and lay unmoving.  He checked outside.  He hardly noticed the dead body of the man by the door.  The sun began to set.  It appeared bright outside the window beside the bed.

Muhamed sat again at the table.  He had waited and watched all afternoon, and now it became time for supper.  He thought he might finish what little food the couple had, then he resolved to go.  He decided it would be a waste of his precious elixir to try another drop on the woman’s possibly dead body.

Earlier, when the sun began to drop in the afternoon sky, Muhamed spied the glint of sunlight off the walls and domes of a distant city.  Of course, he could not be sure because he did not cross the Assyrian wilderness on his way out of the last time zone.  An angry Ashtoreth brought him to the time gate, instantly, and yelled at him. Muhamed chose not to think about that, lest it make him angry again.  He thought instead that the city in the distance might be the same city from the last time zone, where he brought the zombies to life.

While he sat, and watched the woman, and nibbled on the bread, he wondered how the time zones worked.  He figured he jumped fifty or more years into the future when he passed through the time gate.  This city, if it was the same city, would be fifty or more years later. He guessed it was Babylon.  He had been educated.  He did college before pharmacy school.  He knew something about ancient Mesopotamia.  He knew enough to recognize Assyria, even if he guessed. The Tigris and Euphrates sort of gave it away.

“The distant city must be Babylon,” he said to himself, out loud, before he held his tongue.

The woman moved.  She stretched, and Muhamed heard the clicking sound of bones falling into place. He thought he might have dislocated a few, and maybe cracked a rib or two.  The woman sat up.  Her eyes popped open to stare at him.  He stopped still, a piece of bread half-way to his mouth.  He returned her stare.  Her bruised and bleeding face healed itself, piece by piece, until she appeared perfect, beautiful, and quite possibly younger than before.

Muhamed swallowed when the woman put a hand up to block the light of the setting sun.  She swung her legs to the floor, stood, and closed the shutters. Then she surprised Muhamed when she spoke, and in perfect Arabic.

“The bright sun always gives me a headache.”  She turned and appeared to smile.  At least Muhamed thought it might be a smile.  In his uncertainty, he moved to the chair on the other side of the table, and pushed the bread toward her.

“Are you hungry? he asked.

She sat in the chair Muhamed vacated, and nodded.  “Yes, but bread will do for now.”  She ate some, and Muhamed watched until he thought of what to ask.

“How is it you speak modern Arabic?”

“I seem to know a lot of things now.”

“How do you feel?”

“I think you made me immortal.  I feel wonderful.  Strong.  Alive. Hungry.”

Muhamed slipped his hand to the pommel of his knife.  “I hope you have no desire to get revenge on me.”

The woman laughed.  “Why should I do that?  You destroyed a good woman.  You killed a good man.  And I have a feeling you have more that you wish to kill and destroy.  I think I will help you.”

“Good, good.”

“Besides,” she said, and stared at him so intently he had to look away.  “You have the elixir of life, and know how to use it.”

“Good,” Muhamed said.  He let go of the knife, but kept his hand from going to his inner vest pocket where he kept the elixir.  That would have given its location away, and that would not have been wise.  He thought instead to explain.

“They began five days away, but they are on horseback, so slowly catching up.  By now they may be three or even two days away.  We will go to the city where we can get lost in the crowd, and wait for them.  Since they will eventually catch up, we might as well let them find us in a place where they cannot find us.”

She smiled at the thought, and said, “You have a way with words.  I appreciate confusion.”  Muhamed knew what he meant, so he continued.

“Once they arrive, and I will point them out to you, you can help me kill them all.”

The woman seemed to appreciate the idea of killing.  Muhamed wondered what kind of psychotic the man in the doorway married.  But he shrugged it off, thinking the madness of unbelievers was beyond his understanding.  He took no classes in psychology, or theology. He became a simple pharmacist.

“We will leave when it is dark,” the woman said.  “It will be safer to travel in the night.”

Muhamed shrugged.  He had gotten used to traveling in the dark, and knew it would be safer.  Homes, villages, and wilderness campfires, in particular army campfires, were much easier to avoid in the dark.  He stood and walked to the door to look.  He felt glad the sun had nearly set.  The woman behind him started giving him the creeps.

###

“Let me go in alone,” the woman insisted. “The widow who lives here knows me and will raise no alarm.”

“Why don’t we just go into the village?” Muhamed asked.  “The sun will be up soon enough, and we are less conspicuous, being a man and a woman traveling together.  We should be able to beg bread easily enough.”

The woman shook her head.  “I won’t be long,” she said, and walked to the front door of the house.  She knocked. Muhamed watched closely and fingered his knife.  It appeared as if the old woman of the house did know her.  She got invited in, so Muhamed relaxed.

Muhamed heard the scream.  He stood, but hesitated in indecision. Which woman screamed?  Surely the old woman, but why?  He had a feeling he knew why, but he did not want to think about that.  Shortly, the young woman came back, a bag over her shoulder.  In it, she had bread, some vegetables and a bit of smoked meat. Muhamed did not complain, or ask what the scream was about, as they walked the rest of the way to the village. He did not want to know.  He imagined the young woman had to hurt, or maybe kill the older one.  He did not see the young woman lick the blood off her lips.

When they got into town, the young woman took him to the well in the village square.  “I know a shopkeeper,” she said.  “He is a lonely sandal maker, very poor, but he will make a room where we can sleep today.”

Muhamed used his hands to cup some water out of the bucket meant for the well, and he stared at the woman.  He asked, “Why are you helping me?”

“Your wish is my command. Honestly,” she said.  “Farm life is terrible, hard, and boring.  You saved me from all that.  And you have such wonderful plans—to kill people and destroy so much.  It is exciting.  I can’t wait.”

“Good,” Muhamed nodded, but decided the only safe thing would be to lose her as soon as the deed was done.  He would hurry into the future, where she could not follow.

She touched his arm.  Her hand felt cold.  “But, wouldn’t it be better if there were others to help?” she asked.

Muhamed had already considered that, but her encouragement helped.  “You find the sandal maker.  I will stay here by the well for a while.  In the cool of the morning, people will come to fetch their water.”

“No,” she said, quickly.  “Come and see the place, so you know where to go. Then come back here, and I will prepare food for us.  I will not bother you in your work, and you can stay by the well and come when you are ready.”

Muhamed stood.  He did not argue.  He figured that was one way to do it, and if the woman wanted him to watch her make contact, and be there in case something went wrong, he thought he could do that.  He fingered the pommel of his knife.  She was only a woman, after all.

R6 Greta: Briana, part 1 of 3

When Greta and her followers came to the place where Captain Ardacles made them lunch on the way up, the place where they ran into the Celts of the Eagle Clan, the day was on and Greta got ready to stop. She thought how happy she was for Gerraint, Enid seemed very nice.  She did not pay close attention to where they were going.  Actually, she simply felt tired and ready to stop

Alesander made them bring the horses well off the road as a precaution, just in case they were being tracked.  He and Lucius did their best to disguise the camp while Hermes collected the stones he needed to build a ring for a fire.  Mavis made a passable cook, better than Greta, but Hermes proved to have a real talent for making things over a campfire that actually tasted good.  Alesander let him build up the fire and have at it, but warned him that the fire needed to be extinguished by dark.

That evening, Alesander pulled out a skin of wine he had been saving.  He said, “Without a fire, we need something on these cold fall nights.”  The conversation became pleasant, all about family and friends, and growing up.  Greta felt she talked too much about her children, but in lieu of photos in her wallet, she had to do something.  Finally, Greta slipped a note into the conversation which she thought sounded casual and she thought might slip by, unnoticed.

“So, Alesander.  If I remember, you once said you were raised by the shrine of Salacia and you, and your parents used to go there often.”

Alesander looked at her for a moment as if trying to remember when he might have said something, but he nodded.  “That’s right.  Salacia is special to me, so much so, you would think I would have joined the navy rather than the army.”

“Eh?”  Hermes did not follow.

“Amphitrite,” Mavis gave him the Greek name for the goddess and glanced at Greta because she knew who Amphitrite was.

“Ah,” Hermes got it.  “She has not many shrines in Greece, but many on the shore and who make their living from the sea remember her. They say when Poseidon gets in an angry roar, she is the only one who can calm the waters.  Many prayers go up to Amphitrite when the seas get rough, let me tell you.”

“She has her moments,” Greta said, with a small, internal grin.  “But how about you.  Do you hold any of the gods dear?”

“For me it is Ares,” Hermes said.  “That’s Mars to you Romans.  Though I have been used to carry messages on the battlefield, for some reason my namesake Hermes doesn’t come to my heart.  Ares is the one who has kept my arms strong and my back stiff.  He has seen me through many a battle, let me tell you.”

“For a grizzled old warrior, I would expect no less,” Alesander said, and saluted with his wine.

“Not so old,” Mavis protested, softly, and Greta turned quickly before she lost the conversation.

“And what about you Lucius?”

Lucius was not one to speak if he could help it. “Me?  I try to remember all the gods of Rome.  Safer that way.”

Greta frowned.  What he said sounded true enough, but he seemed to leave much unsaid.

“What about you, Miss Mavis?  Who do you hold dear among the gods?”  Hermes sounded genuinely interested.

Mavis squeaked like a mouse and looked down to worry her hands in her lap.  Her voice came out very soft.  “I worship my Lady, and I always try to do what is right, good and true, and she has blessed me more than all the others combined, and I sometimes catch my breath just to know that I am near to her.”

“Near and dear,” Greta said, with her warmest, most motherly smile.

“Such devotion,” Alesander grinned.  “But what of the Lady?  Being in such a delicate position between the governor and your father, I am sure like Lucius you acknowledge all the gods of Rome and Olympus and maybe even these strange German gods I have heard of from the land of Aesgard.  Or, being the wise woman of all the Dacians, perhaps you keep your devotions close to home and worship the Thracian Hero and his Lord, Zalmoxis, Sylvanus of the woods, and the Nameless god who is the light for heroes and the bringer of conflict and war with one hand and peace and love with the other.  Or do you focus on the women and maybe worship Bendi, the one the Celts call Epona and we call Diana?”

It became Greta’s turn to look down and worry her hands a bit.  “To be honest, for millennia, Artemis was my best friend in the whole world.  She and my Princess were especially close. Artemis gifted the Princess with a spark of herself.  Artemis still is my best friend ever, though she is lost to me now.  But as for worship, it is only for the Christ.”

“I have heard you speak of this one,” Alesander turned serious for a moment.  “In fact, you were the first I heard speak of this new way which is sweeping across the empire like one of Neptune’s storms at sea.”

“But let us not speak of that now.  Instead, let me ask you something.  These woods and hills and mountains, do you know who used to live here?”  They did not, so Greta told them the story of the Were people who once ruled the Transylvanian Plateau and Beauty who became their queen when she married her beast.

###

The Princess took over in the morning and it only took until lunch to finally get the others to call her Princess instead of Greta.  The spark of Artemis the hunter inside the Princess helped her follow some thirty men of the Eagle Clan over what for her seemed a rather easy trail.  By the end of the day, they came to a rough road in the wilderness.

“The low road,” the Princess surmised, and she stayed with them through the night.  The Princess needed to sleep.  Greta would be fresh in the morning from the sleep she had two days earlier.  Midday, on the third day out, Alesander called the party to halt.  The road started to peter out again and Greta began to think the Princess might have to return to find the way.

“Probably an old road not used for years,” Greta guessed. “Rubobostes drove the Celts out of Dacia, when?  Three hundred years ago?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Alesander mumbled as his soldier’s sense told him that an enemy was near.  He fingered his sword and looked around in the trees and bushes, seeking a sign of passage and listening for some rustling in the leaves.  Lucius reacted as well, old soldier that he was. He dismounted to stand beside his centurion and would have drawn his sword if Alesander did not put his hand out to keep Lucius calm.  Meanwhile, Mavis spoke softly to Greta and to keep Hermes calm as they also got down from their horses.

“These are the same that met us on the road.  I sense no ill intention, only caution.” Greta nodded, knowing that Mavis’ elf senses were far more attuned to the advent of humans than the soldiers could ever hope for.  Her ears and eyes were far better as well, and she spoke again after a short wait.  “Lady, they are here.”

Avalon: One Week Episode

Monday, May 23 ************

hawk 1Avalon 4.3 will post in a single week: M, T, W, And Th.

You can get the whole episode without waiting through the weekend for the second half.

Avalon 4.3, Go Away is only 4 posts long, so don’t miss it…Caspian serpent

 

Lincoln and Lockhart, two old men returned to their youth at the beginning of the journey, remember the last time they were in Southeast Asia.  It wasn’t so much fun.  This time, everything feels peaceful and calm until all hell breaks loose.  The sky gods and the sea gods (sea demons) are struggling for control of the land, and the travelers have stepped right into the middle of it.  It seems like both sides want to kill the travelers, lest they take the other side Ruan 4in the struggle.  And the Kairos, Ruan Zee, appears very limited on what she can do to keep them all alive.

Avalon, episode 4.3, Go Away.  That’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, AND Thursday of next week.  Enjoy.

Avalon 3.10: part 5 of 5, Dispersal

Hadj’s first wife, Ishitak stood beside a woman, a stranger, and the only suggestion as to who it might be was Ishitak’s downturned eyes. She suggested a pose of reverence. The woman spoke first.

“You must be Hadj. Hadj of the three wives. Traveler in Time. Watcher over history. Kairos of the earth, and I see you have your hands full.”

Hadj paused and rubbed his chin before he felt a sudden urge, stepped up and kissed the goddess on the cheek. The goddess’ eyes got big. It may have been the first time she was surprised in her whole life. She lost a touch of control for a moment and let out a smidgen of her awesome nature. Sokar gasped, fell to his knees, and covered his eyes with his hands. Ibin el-Wadi joined him and then thought it better to go to his face. Lockhart bowed as well as a twenty-first century American can bow, and Hadj stepped back to rub his chin again.hadj 2

“Don’t tell me,” Hadj said. “Your face is familiar, like family, but I can’t place the name.”

“Kirisha, your sister,” Kirisha stomped her foot in a playful manner, but she put her hand to her cheek where he kissed her and smiled.

“But I thought you were twins,” Hadj said. “I heard you had a sister.”

“Pinikir has the north here, and Susiana, but she says she doesn’t want it. She says it is too much responsibility, but then she has really played with the queen of Susiana. Poor Sokar is so in love with the queen, sometimes I’m afraid he is going to blow up like that flying air thing.”

“She is very beautiful,” Hadj admitted.

“Pinikir stepped inside the woman and shaped the queen’s body and features to match her own,” Kirisha tattled.

“I see,” Hadj said, while Alexis, Lincoln, Roland, Boston and Mingus all came close to see what was delaying Hadj. Lincoln stood beside Lockhart. Roland and Mingus bowed to the goddess. Alexis and Boston curtsied as well as they could, neither as gracefully as a true elf since Alexis was now human, and Boston had just become an elf and was still learning.Barak Hebat 1

“And may I ask who your mother might be?” Alexis asked with her eyes downcast. She felt the goddesses mother would be the telling connection.

“Mother Ishtar,” Kirisha said with a broad smile, “And yes, Lincoln, my grandmother was Innan,” Kirisha lost some of her smile and everyone felt the heartbreak.

“But I should consider my manners,” Hadj said, with a glance at Ishitak who nodded without ever looking up. Hadj went away and Junior came to stand in his place. “You might give your actual brother a hug,” he said, and held out his arms.

“Amun,” the goddess shrieked her joy and raced into his arms for a real hug. “Pinikir is going to be so jealous,” Kirisha said as she returned the kiss to Junior’s cheek. Kirisha stepped back and said something the others hardly expected. “Oh, I almost forgot. You missed one.” She raised her hand and a ghoul appeared beside her. “Do you want this one?”

hadj ghouls 4“No. No. No way,” the people there all shouted.

“I didn’t think so.” Kirisha snapped her fingers and the ghoul collapsed and melted until he was no more than a green and purple smudge on the grass.

Amun nodded and spoke to the goddess as he took her hand. “Don’t go away. I want to hear all about this place you have, and your husband and the others, but first I have to attend to business. Alexis,” he said, and commanded her attention. Even so, it took a moment to remember what she had to say.

“Commander Slurpee died in the night. I’m sorry. I did everything I could.”

“Cody, are you satisfied?”

“I do not understand why these humans should help the Pendratti, but I begin to understand why this planet is off limits.”

“Good. Roland.”

Roland spoke right up. “The Sevarese commander killed his companion during the ghoul attack.” The Sevarese commander was weeping. “There is one left in the transport, but the transport engines are ruined, and the communicator as well, so they cannot contact their ship.”

“That should be along walk,” Mingus guessed.

“Boston?” Junior smiled for her.

Botson, who was on her knees, shuffled forward to hug Junior’s knees. “Oh, Great Lord, I love you so much, and I am willing to do whatever you ask of me even if I may not do it, but please, can I marry Roland now?” She looked up at him with eyes full of pleading and hope.

“She is a cute one,” Kirisha said. “And she is very much in love. And I should know. My mother is the love goddess.”Boston thanks

“Not just yet,” Junior said. “You need Mingus’ permission first,” He tried to look stern, but found it impossible.

“Yes, Lord. Thank you Lord,” Boston said, and she shuffled over to Mingus, gave his knees one good hug, and then sat back on her heels without ever lifting her eyes.

“One more thing,” Amun said, and he called, “Reglala and Ouklee.” the Marzaotipan couple vanished from where they were hiding inside their ship and appeared in front of Junior. “Do you understand that this planet is off limits?”

“Oh yes, very much. Indeed. We do. Oh yes.”

Junior quieted them. “You got a little closer to the fighting than is normal for your kind,” Junior pointed out. “Now you have several destroyed Sevarese fighters and Pendratti fighters from yesterday. You also have a Pendratti and Sevarese transport to salvage, if you dare. But then I expect you to leave this UFO Birdman 6system and not come back. It is for your own safety.”

“Oh yes, indeed. We will. Yes, we will.”

“So everyone listen,” Junior commanded everyone’s attention, and Kirisha squeezed his hand, attracted to the exercise of power. “Hadj will be taking a detour, to take the Pendratti back to his ship. He will send the Pendratti back into space, immediately. You surviving Sevarese will have to walk back to your ship, and that is a long way, so you will have to hurry. The Pendratti will have a reasonable head start.”

Junior looked at Sokar who refused to lift his head. “Sokar,” he said, and made sure the man’s ears were open. “You will take your men back to Susa where you will no doubt continue to worship your queen. But if you are good, and stop doing the queen’s evil, maybe, and I am saying only maybe, mind you, you will find something in your stocking at Christmas … “ Junior shook his hea. “Frosty the Snowman,” he said. “I mean, maybe Kirisha will find you a woman that you can truly love and who will also love you.”

“I am not my sister. I make no promises,” Kirisha caught the reference to Frosty the Snowman and laughed, and everyone smiled at the sound of pure joy. Junior coughed like he was clearing his throat.

“Reglala and Ouklee will take two goats for whatever Elder Stow needs to charge up his equipment, and then they will take their leave and you can leave this world. And Lockhart, by the way, you might stay here for a day or so. I think the time gate will get closer to you as we go toward the Pendratti ship.”

“We will keep an eye on it,” Lockhart said.UFO alien tech

“Good. Ibin el-Wadi. Everyone needs breakfast, and then we need to be packed to leave at dawn.” Ibin el-Wadi dared not speak as Junior and Kirisha vanished.

An hour later, Hadj walked across the field where it looked like some kind of battle took place, even if the ghouls were no more than purple and green smudge spots on the ground, and the trees set on fire by the fighter crash had burned down to hot, red ash. The sun was coming up, and the bodies of the Elamites and the Sevarese made a spectacle.

Anashk and Leahn, Hadj’s second and third wives came running to hug him and grab his arms to carry him back to the camp. They were grinning, and having been so close to a love goddess, and then seeing Hadj become a god who reflected the same love, Hadj had no doubt they had something specific in mind. Ishitak, his first wife, merely stood and was quiet, wiling to wait, but Hadj could see the calculating in her face. Hadj thought he had enough children, but then again, he was only human.

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

Starting Monday, as we approach the end of season three, be sure to catch Avalon, episode 3.11 Festival of Marriage.  It is about time Boston and Roland settle things …

Boston7

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 3.9: part 2 of 5, The Gods Stop By

Boston lifted her happy face and shouted in her best elf voice which echoed around the whole camp and shot off into the wilderness. “Father Mingus, hurry up. I’m going to marry your son, so please hurry.” Everyone in the refugee camp looked up, and some applauded at the idea of the love goddess marrying the hunter, even if they did not know who Father Mingus was.

“Boston, you are not helping our situation,” Alexis scowled.

“Actually,” Lincoln piped up. “I am surprised this complication has not come up before. Think about it. The elf bread I shared had to look miraculous in the eyes of the people. Elder Stow has the gadgets which must look magical, and Alexis heals by laying on hands. No doubts there.”

“We ride these wonderful, obedient beasts, and offer free food,” Roland agreed.Stow 6

“And we found the water, I suppose,” Elder Stow added.

“And tomorrow, if what we think is following turns out to be true, the god of war and the death goddess are going to get a workout,” Lincoln said.

“And the king of the gods will roll out the thunder,” Katie agreed, referring to Lockhart’s shotgun.

“You just are not going to convince these people that we are not gods, almost whatever we do,” Lincoln concluded.

“Well, I am ready to sleep,” Elder Stow said. “I will endeavor to snore like a god.”

Alexis shook her head. Boston questioned her before Lockhart could speak. “You don’t find this funny?”

“Not at all. I think we are playing with fire,” Alexis said, and she turned away from the group to sleep.

“Double watch tonight,” Lockhart said in all seriousness, and Alexis got up with Lincoln to take the first turn.

zis dravid 6The hundred people following came in around midnight. Another three hundred or so came in at sunrise. That made more than seven hundred gathered on the edge of the hills, a small city of people for those days. The striking thing about the gathering, though, was it was mostly women and children. The men, especially the sixteen to thirty-two-year-olds, were missing.

“Zisudra’s army is fighting somewhere,” Katie suggested.

“Zisudra,” Boston said the name. “It feels strange, and different to have a male as, you know.”

“Not really,” Katie admitted. “But the Storyteller was a male.”

“Yeah, he was,” Boston said, like it was a sudden revelation. “Oh, but he was older, like gray beard and all. To be honest, I thought he was a bit like Santa Clause, and that was before I, you know.” zis dravid 9

“Not really,” Katie repeated, when they were interrupted by several women from the camp. The women had been up cooking and preparing something since before dawn. Boston stepped over several times to rev up their fires with a touch of magic, and she thought it hardly mattered. They already thought of her as a god.

The women had flushed a covey of more than a hundred Himalayan quail and had birds and eggs to share. They first brought their offering to the gods, and Boston could not help herself. She got up when she felt the heartbreak in the young woman’s heart, so she hugged her and said, bless you, and the woman began to cry, so Boston began to cry.

Roland came over after a few minutes and pulled Boston free, and Boston got mad, then upset at herself. “I’ve always been sympathetic. I thought I was empathetic, but not like this. She lost her love in the escape. I know that. I felt exactly what she felt, and it hurt so much. Roland, there was not anything I could do for her.”zis dravid 8

“And you must remember that,” Roland said. “There is not anything you can do for her.”

“That isn’t fair, to make me feel all that and be powerless to change it,” she said to the ground. “That isn’t fair,” she repeated to the sky.

Lockhart, Lincoln and Alexis graciously accepted their offering of bird and eggs. Lincoln got out the bread and tried to make toast without burning it. That was not easy. Lockhart stepped over to sit beside Katie, and she growled at him.

“I’m not in a good mood. I don’t know why,” she said.

“I’m not good company lots of times,” he responded. “My wife used to tell me that all the time.”

“Enough,” Katie spoke sharply. “When are you going to get over your wife business? I’m beginning to think you are a moron after all. Here, you have been given a chance to start over, and you can’t let go of the past.”

zis lockWhat?” He meant, what is the matter? or what can I do to make it better? but it came out, “What?” It was the same word he always said to his wife, and it never helped her, either.

“Nothing,” Katie snapped, put her plate down, and stood. That was when a big, young man, a newcomer with the group at dawn, had the bad sense to try and prove something to his friends. As Katie walked by, he made a fist and took a swing at her head. She saw it coming, ducked, grabbed and twisted the arm, which made the young man howl. Then she let all her frustration out in her punch right to the man’s solar plexus. The man flew several feet and crashed to the ground, and Katie heard a rib snap.

Katie stared at the man. She knew that as an elect, as one in a million, maybe one in ten million, she was as strong as any man, and equally good in combat with or without weapons. But she knew the gods made the elect to protect and defend the community when they men were away. She was not supposed to break men’s ribs. She was sorry, sort of.

Alexis pushed past her. “You didn’t have to take it out on him,” she said as she knelt to examine the man.

“I didn’t kill him,” Katie mumbled, as Boston raced up, running much faster than an ordinary human Katie 7could run.

“What happened?”

Katie turned and fetched her horse. She wanted to ride out to the horizon and look for the enemy, but while she saddled Beauty, she heard what Lockhart said.

“Listen up,” he said, but the people were whispering, and he could not get them to stop. Elder Stow came up with the solution. He set his sonic device and told Lockhart where to hold it.

“It amplifies sound waves,” he explained, and Lockhart took it like a microphone.

Avalon 3.9: The Valley Below, part 1 of 5

After 2677 BC, Highlands Above the Indus. Kairos lifetime 42: Zisudra, The Rig (the root).

Recording …

“Refugees on the horizon,” Roland reported back to the group.

“Where are they all coming from?” Katie wondered out loud.

“We have to do what we can,” Alexis said, and she got down from her horse. Lincoln got down with her and looked for a safe area to hobble the horses and let them feed. He knew better than to argue. So did Lockhart.

“Lunch,” he called out.zis nature 1

The travelers rode through one group of refugees early that morning, and barely kept Alexis and Boston from bringing the whole group to a halt. They passed by another group at a distance some time around ten o’clock, and kept on going. Now, this group was headed straight toward them. They could not go around, and Alexis was not going to take keep moving as an answer.

Roland and Boston made a great fire beside the road, and Roland took Katie and Decker out into the fields to hunt. He knew they were going to need quite a bit of food to feed all those people.

Elder Stow spent a good hour fiddling with his scanning equipment before he made his announcement. “Three hundred, and another hundred not far behind. The first group was fifty, and we passed thirty in the distance. This looks like the main group, unless there are other larger groups still to come. My equipment is all running dry. I have drained most of my other things to keep the scanner going as I deemed it most critical. My weapon is about empty. My sonic device is good, but it uses little power.”

“What happened to the charger you got from the Marzalotipan?” Lincoln asked.

“It was too primitive,” Elder Stow said. “It took a long time to charge anything, even after I rebuilt it, and then it fell apart and became useless much too fast.”

“Moving through time will do that,” Lockhart said. “Nothing like ageing fifty years in one step.”

cooking meat 4Roland, Decker and Katie all came back with deer over their shoulders, and Roland barely got the first one up on the fire before the people reached them. As they came in, they appeared to have no trouble with the travelers, which surprised everyone. The people even sounded like now they were safe and their long journey was over. Lockhart questioned that.

Alexis got right to the wounded, and worked without argument, and the people blessed her. Elder Stow used his device to pull out shards and rocks from various body parts, and several arrowheads, which he showed around.

“These people have been in a war zone,” Decker said, and he sounded like he guessed that already. Once the deer got cooking, he took Katie, and they rode out over the horizon to see if they could catch a glimpse of what might be coming.

Boston cooked and the people, in particular the women, called her blessed of Zisudra, and helped, when they weren’t bowing to her. She hugged a bunch of them to show she was just a person like the rest of them, but they were not buying it. More than once, Boston had to check with Alexis to make sure her glamour did not slip. She figured the people had been through enough without having to have elves in the camp.

Lincoln made the elf crackers into bread, and he privately gave thanks that the crackers were endless in number. He passed the bread to the people, and the people bowed to him as well. He feared that they might run out of water to turn the crackers into bread, but Elder Stow located a natural, bubbling spring, which Lincoln dug out with little effort. That at least relieved one problem.

Lockhart made the decisions. He told Roland to track his sister to keep her safe. He told Elder Stow to help Lincoln locate a water source. He told Boston to keep cooking because the had so many mouths to feed, and he worried about Katie, and Decker, but he knew they could take care of themselves. The rest of the time, he spent interviewing the people, mostly the men, to try and piece together what these people had been through and who might be following them. In the process, he found out some very interesting information.zis dravid 3

“No,” he told more than one man. “We are not the gods, just people like yourselves.”

“In truth,” the man responded with a wink and a smile. “And I will be sure to tell all of the people that you are not the gods, but just ordinary people who ride the beasts of heaven and perform many miracles to heal and sustain us on this long journey.” He winked again as he left and let the next man be interviewed.

When Katie and Decker returned, and the evening turned to night, Lockhart called everyone aside for a conference. “They think we are the gods,” he said, and tried not to laugh.

“Not funny,” Alexis recognized the seriousness of the situation. “Some of the gods are very sensitive and might not appreciate us going around, masquerading.”

“I told them all we were not the gods, but they don’t believe me.” Lockhart shrugged his innocence. “They think we are masquerading as humans.”

“And I suppose you are the god king,” Decker said.

“You are the god of war,” Lockhart said.

Decker ripped off a chunk of deer and chewed it like jerky. “I can live with that.”

Alexis 2“Alexis, you are the goddess of healing, obviously. Lincoln you are the god of agriculture, as near as I can tell, because of the bread, I imagine. Elder Stow, you are the god of ancient knowledge, learning and wisdom, I think.”

Elder Stow smiled. “Among my people, many a happy ending is when a man becomes fat and full of wisdom.”

“You need to work on the fat part,” Boston teased and handed him some more deer meat. He looked at it unhappily. He was not a vegetarian, but he was not inclined to eat much in the way of meat. He did better with fish and even bird of some kind.

“Roland,” Lockhart went on. “You are the god of the hunt, and Katie—“

“I’m not sure I want to know,” Katie said. “The people keep giving me strange looks and they don’t want Katie 6to get too close. It would bother me if I wasn’t more concerned about what might be over the horizon.

“Shivishuwa, or something like that,” Lockhart said.

“What is Shivishuwa?”

Roland and Lockhart spoke at the same time. “The death goddess.”

“The goddess of death,” Alexis agreed.

“Hey!” Decker looked like he was thinking about it. “No, I am fine where I am.”

Katie did not look too happy about it, but Boston spoke up.

“Hey!” she sounded like Decker. “What does that leave me? There isn’t anything left. Am I the goddess Boston 3aof cooking and dirt?”

Lockhart grinned, even if he could not manage a true elf grin. “You are the goddess of love, and I think marriage, family and the home.”

“I could have told you that,” Roland said.

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

In tomorrow’s post, someone need to get a handle on why these people are refugees, and what are they running from?