Avalon 4.6 part 6 of 6, While the Getting is Good

“Be good,” Hathor turned to the travelers.  “Live long and prosper,” she grinned that time and vanished.

“Hey, that’s my line,” Sinuhe said.

“No it isn’t.  That is Spock’s line,” Lincoln objected.

“I’m saying it four thousand years before Spock is even born, so I can claim it.”kiss 1

“Cheater,” Lockhart took a breath and offered his opinion.  Katie nodded like she agreed, and then went for more of that kissing stuff.

“All right,” Sinuhe started, but Lincoln interrupted.

“What did she mean about the way the gods keep secrets?” he looked like he was still coming out of a fog.  “Was she talking about Heba—.”  He found his mouth covered by both Alexis and Sinuhe.

“Yes,” Sinuhe said.  “And given the way the gods keep secrets; I expect her to show up any second.”

“I’m so sorry,” Alexis said to Sinuhe as she turned to Boston and hugged her.  Mingus was still on the floor, crying.  Elder Stow moved to comfort the girl, but he was not a hugger.

“All right…” Sinuhe started again, but this time Hellel interrupted.

“Why is she crying?”  Hellel pointed at Boston.  “The goddess loved on her.  I’m the one who got threatened.”

“Hathor reminded her of when she married,” Sinuhe explained.  “She got married in Egypt, but there was an accident, and she lost her new husband.  We think he made it home ahead of her.  We hope he will be there when we get home.  That is the hope we are going on.”

“But you said you had three more years to get home.  When did she marry?”

“About four hundred and fifty years ago,” Sinuhe said.  “That is just an estimate.  About three months ago, travel time.”

Hellel did not know what to say about that.  Gabrall looked up from his place even as Lockhart and Katie took a breath and went to join in comforting Boston.

kissing 1“Gabrall,” Sinuhe caught his attention.  He got the man to take charge of getting the army started on the clean sweep project.  They had to get every shovel, broom and bucket for water they could find.  Fortunately, the sea was full of water.

Just as that was settled and Zagurt and the king were beginning to stir, and it looked like Hellel was ready to get off her chair and find out more about a four hundred and fifty-year-old bride, there was a flash of light and Hebat arrived wearing a yellow sundress and big round sunglasses.  She marched up to Sinuhe and planted her lips on his, and he kissed her back.

After a while, they parted, and Hebat had the biggest, silliest grin on her face.  “My Egyptian,” she said.  Hellel found some courage.

“Hey.  That’s my husband,” she protested.

Hebat turned and lowered her glasses to glare at the princess.  “So?  You don’t love him.  My man is starving for love.” She turned back to Sinuhe and kissed him again, and this time he reached down and squeezed her bum.  She purred, and Hellel couldn’t say anything but, “Hey!”

“I am a married man, alas,” Sinuhe finally said.  “And you are a married woman.”

“I know,” Hebat said.  “Kind of exciting, isn’t it?”sinu hebat

“You should go.”

Hebat pouted, but did not argue.  She turned to strut in front of Hellel and caught movement out of the corner of her eye.  She shrieked a happy shriek and vanished just before Sinuhe could whack her bottom.  Hellel’s comment was interesting.

“Gee, you never whacked my bottom.”

###

The travelers all agreed it would be wise to move on the following morning.  As Sinuhe explained, “The wrath of the gods is unforgettable.  Even the mild annoyance of the gods leaves an impression, but you know how memory works.  The mind twists the message very quickly.  Often, the message is not clear, filtered through that anger.  But even when it is clear, it does not take long before the person is doing the very thing the god warned them not to do, and they will swear they are following the will of the gods.”

“Basically you are saying the king is going to change his mind,” Lockhart summarized.

“I don’t think it will take long,” Sinuhe nodded.

Decker added a thought.  “The human race is a poor excuse for…the human race.”  He rode out to the wing.

dwarves a1“By the way,” Mingus said as he was at the end of the line with Boston.  “Thanks for giving us Pluckman.”  More than forty dwarfs surrounded the group.

“My pleasure,” Sinuhe said and waved.

“I am sure,” Mingus mumbled, and Boston giggled.

The travelers moved three days down from the hills toward Galilee, and stopped on the third afternoon.  An army was coming up the valley.

“Pluckman, can you tell whose army that is?” Lockhart asked.  Pluckman stared at the man, slack jawed.

“You are asking a dwarf to tell the difference between one set of humans and another/” Katie scoffed and put down her binoculars.  “Besides, how many armies do you expect to find traveling in this wilderness?”

The others waited while Lockhart and Katie walked their horses forward.  Pluckman and a half-dozen heavily armed dwarfs went with them.  Decker and Elder Stow stayed out on the flanks where they appeared to be out of range from enemy slings and arrows, but were well within range of the weapons they carried.  They each had their own little troop of dwarfs that clung to them like bugs on a windshield.

Lockhart and Katie did not have to wait long before the army ground to a halt and a dozen men jogged out to face them.  Lockhart spoke before they got too close.

“I have a message from Lord Sinuhe, general of King Enshi.  He says you better hurry up.  The Syrians are two days ahead of you, and you know how the Syrians can be.  They will try to sneak in and take your prize if you don’t get there first.”

The men were amazed by the horses, but their eyes hardly left the dwarfs.  “You travel with earth spirits?”army 2

“We have many friends,” Katie said.

“But why would the king’s general send us this word?” a second man asked.

“Because he knows you Canaanites and the city people have much in common where the Syrians are a strange and unnatural people of foreign gods who should be driven back to where they came from.”

“And you?” The man framed his thoughts, but Lockhart cut him off with his hand like a traffic cop.

“No, we have other business to attend to.  We have delivered the message for our friends, but we are going to the inland sea.  What you do with the words we have given you is up to you.”

The man nodded as Lockhart and Katie turned their horses and went back to the group.  The dwarfs disappeared, but they growled, an effective sound for the Canaanites, no doubt, but it almost ruined everything as Katie and Lockhart tried not to laugh.

The Canaanites went back to their army to begin moving again.  The travelers and their dwarf escort passed them from up on the ridge.  Whether the Canaanites hurried from that point or not, Katie and Lockhart never knew.

“So I don’t get it,” Alexis said when they finally settled down for the night.

Lockhart answered her.  “The way Sinuhe explained it, there are natural prejudices that he can stoke to a nice little flame.  He hopes, if he plays his card right, the Syrians and Canaanintes will fight each other and leave the city alone, or at least be so diminished at the end, he and his little army should be able to handle them.”

“Tricky, and mean,” Alexis said.

“And very hard to pull off,” Decker said.

dwarf night

 

Pluckman yelled “Food,” and the campfire became a madhouse where no one could talk.  Katie had to shout her question at Lockhart.

“I wonder how it will turn out.”  Lockhart could only shrug as the music and dancing started that would go on passed midnight.

Avalon 3.12: part 5 of 5, You Have the Power

“You have the firepower to deal with the wolf, if necessary,” Barak explained.

“No silver bullets,” Decker complained.

“Not needed,” Barak said. “The wolf has some wolverine type of healing ability. It can eject several bullets and heal if it can find a place to get away and hide.”barak werewolf 3

“You mean like the X-men wolverine,” Boston said.

“Yes, but that ability is not absolute. Stick it with enough arrows and spears, and you will kill it. Just good luck sticking it before it sticks you. But in your case, you can turn your rifles to automatic and riddle the beast. There is no way it will survive that. And as far as I know, a shotgun blast at close range would still blow its brains out. No healing from that, though I would not recommend getting that close.”

The conversation petered out as people went to set up their tents and get ready for the night. Mingus was just wondering what was taking that boy so long when they heard the howl of the wolf.

“No. It must be regular wolves in these hills,” Lincoln suggested, but people were not sure.

Puzziya fell to his knees beside the fire and began to pray. Alexis held Boston. Katie looked to Lockhart to say something. The howl came again and Boston screamed.

Barak 1“Roland!”

Barak looked at Hebat, and for once she lost her smile. She shrugged as she spoke, like this was something new to her. “He is not anywhere I can sense. Like he is gone from the world altogether.”

“That is what I am getting,” Barak said, but he knew that explanation was not going to be good enough for Boston. He traded places through time with Junior and stretched his senses out for miles, but there was no trace. Finally, he stretched his mind through time and caught a scent of Roland in the future. As soon as there was a connection through time, Alice sent him many things before the time connection got severed.

Boston was weeping for her husband, and Mingus was right there while Alexis comforted her. Lincoln barak werewolf 2pulled his pistol and hovered over them, as they spotted the wolf racing up the hill. The people hardly had time to think. Eder Stow could not get a screen up quick enough. Decker opened fire, and Katie was moments behind. The wolf slowed but kept coming. At the last, Lockhart had to plug it with a shotgun blast when it got close, and the wolf collapsed. Decker was not content. He stepped up and continued to riddle the beast until his rifle got hot.

“Roland,” Boston yelled as only an elf can yell, to make herself heard by another elf, no matter how far away. Mingus raised his eyebrows to realize how strong the bond was between this girl and his son.

Junior took Hebat’s hand with the word, “Already married,” and for once Hebat looked at the ground, did not argue, and appeared submissive in the face of this god. They walked up to the others and Junior waved his hand. A hole twenty feet deep opened up in the ground, and Junior spoke.

hole in the earth“This world does not yet have the gene among the human population, so there is no danger of making another wolf, but it will have in time, so we play it safe.” The man, and in death he had turned most of the way back into a man, and all of his spilled blood lifted from the ground and went into the hole. A boulder appeared and plugged up the hole, and then dirt reformed over the grave. Last of all, two pieces of wood in a cross formed on top and Junior carved the name Francis in English on the cross piece.

“Francis?” Katie asked. “We called him Bob.” She wiped a tear from her eye.

“He was a priest from your time,” Junior said. “Father Francis was in the confessional when the wolf, a female came in and sought refuge in the confessional. She was bleeding from her own bullet holes and looking for a place to hide and heal. The men hunting the wolf came in and killed the wolf, but Francis was contaminated with the blood. No, the wolf did not have to bite him, though maybe it did. When Ashtoreth had control of the Heart of Time and was trying to change history, one thing she did was barak wolfman 1send a priest into the deep past, hoping it would ruin everything. She did not know he was the wolf, and in typical fashion, when he changed under the moon, the physical and mental change to the mind of the wolf drove him insane.”

“Father Francis?” Boston looked up.

“Consider it a mercy,” Junior said, and even Hebat nodded. “As for Roland. He is alive as I glimpsed him.”

“You know where he is?” Boston reached for Junior but did not touch him.

“I don’t suppose you will want to talk to me, but he was attacked, unaware. He was near dead when Alice snatched him up out of the past, and no, I cannot send you home. The heart of time in this day does not have a record of those future days to send you home to. But Roland is back in the future. Being an elf, Alice could reach him. Pray he survives his wounds.”

Boston 2Boston began to cry, but it was not hopeless wailing.

“Well,” Lockhart said. “We will just have to make sure Miss Boston gets back safely to her husband.”

“We will,” everyone agreed, and Junior spoke again.

“Come.” He lead them up the hill to where he had the things Alice sent him. “I have gifts for you all.” He started by pulling out fairy weave for Elder Stow. “The time for walking around in a space suit is over. You must pack it up and wear human clothes, and then we will see what you look like.”

“But,” Elder Stow started to object, but in the face of a genuine power in the universe, he dropped his eyes and went into his tent to change.

“Major Decker, Captain Harper, Benjamin Lincoln, and Director Lockhart.” He handed each of them a sword. “Patton Sabers,” he called them. “Fit swords for light cavalry, but seriously strong metal to withstand the baddest medieval broadsword, when you get there. I recommend some lessons before you do.”

barak saber

“I don’t want one of those killers,” Alexis said.

“Careful, lest you fate yourself into a position you don’t want to be in.” Junior scolded her and handed her a long straight knife. “I hope you never need to use this, especially as a surgical instrument.”

Alexis was inclined to turn down the gift until he mentioned surgery. “I am an RN, not a medical doctor. I pray surgery will never be necessary.” She took the gift and said, “Thank you.”

“Boston,” Junior commanded her attention. She looked up at him and adored him, and wiped her eyes. She would cry later. He handed her a bow, just like Roland’s, and a quiver full of arrows. She started to cry again.

“Hush,” Alexis tried.

“A corrected oversight,” Junior said. “The quiver will always have arrows in it.”

“But I—“

“Learn. It’s an elf thing. Trust me.”Barak Stow

“So,” Elder Stow came out of his tent. “How foolish do I look?”

Everyone said he looked great, but they all suggested a bit of a glamour might help him not appear so Neanderthal. Junior took him aside and reshaped his look. Then he let the Gott-Druk take hold of his own glamour so he could put it on or off as he pleased. “Just don’t ever misuse this gift,” Junior warned without further explanation, and he went away to let Wlvn come from the deep past. Wllvn was sometimes mistakenly called the god of horses, because he was given a gift to connect horses to riders and to pass on basic horse care and information by the laying on of hands. And he had one thing to say first to Hebat.

“Married with children.” Hebat just grinned.

A horse stepped out of the shadows. It was another mustang from the old west, and already saddled to travel.

“No, please,” Elder Stow protested, but got down for the laying on of hands. When Wlvn was finished, Barak came back, and Boston protested.

“But you haven’t given anything to Father Mingus.”

Barak smiled. “When you get older, you realize you don’t need many things, but in this case I give Mingus the most precious thing in the universe. I give him you as a daughter. Mingus, take good care of her until you find your son.” He reached out and put Boston’s free hand in Mingus’ hand. Mingus looked at the ground and would not look at Barak or Boston, but his head seemed to nod.

Barak Hebat 3“Barak,” Hebat called from the tent door.

###

In the morning, Barak went to his camel. Katie, Alexis and Boston all met him there, and Katie asked the question that was on her mind. “Hebat. She was not named after the goddess, was she?”

“No,” Barak admitted, as he straddled his camel and got Puzziya to walk along beside him. Puzziya was going to escort him back to the workers camp, and hopefully get Barak in with the right people.Barak Camel

“Hebat has been after me since Anenki.” Barak said. “I really got to find that girl a husband, but not anyone will do, you know? He will have to be really special. She is such a maverick. Taming of the shrew, that sort of thing.” He got his camel to stand and walk. “ But why am I talking here? I’ve got a heroine ring to stop.” He started out and whistled. “Okay, Hebat. You can stop listening in now, we are leaving. Good luck.” He moved off down the hill.

“He has a job to do,” Katie understood.

“I think he works too hard sometimes,” Aexis said, and Boston nodded as they went to gather their horses. Boston would bring Roland’s horse beside her, and she would pray for him.

barak camp horses

“I understand this beast. I have done this before,” Elder Stow said. “Barak said I could not call my horse torture beast. I’ll have to think what to call him.”

Mingus and Boston started out front. Lockhart and Katie brought up the rear, with Lincoln and Alexis in the middle. Decker and Eder Stow still watched the flanks, but Elder Stow did so more through his instruments than visually. All seemed right with the world until Boston checked her amulet and reported back to the others that they probably would not get to see Barak’s city of Urudu.

Babylon“That’s too bad,” Lincoln spoke up. “Because the city will be razed by an army in a few years. The good news is a new city will be built on the foundation.”

“What city?” Katie asked.

“Babylon.”

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END of Avalon, Season Three

Look for 13 episodes of Avalon, Season 4 to begin posting after the New Year, beginning with episode 4.0, The Impossible Journey.

Lin 3Lin a 2

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Beginning next Monday, until January, look for a middle grade Halloween story filled with magic and mayhem, and maybe something special for the days before Christmas.