Two university students came rushing into the inn, yelling. “An army is gathering in the University Square.” The students felt sure they were going to attack the school, and maybe the church where Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses. “Beer,” they demanded.
The inn, on one side of the broad street that came down from the square, sat beside the University Commons. It was a favorite pub for both students and professors alike. Pater got them all rooms at the inn and rested the horses and mule out in the corral behind the inn. The wagon sat in the barn next door which sat beside a couple of small shops on the square itself. The broad street between the University Square and the University Commons was not a long street. A church with a couple of small out buildings and an equally small cemetery sat across the street from the inn and barn.
Hans checked the corral behind the inn when he told Heidi to keep Helga inside. He left Kurt at the inn to guard the women and make sure Helga stayed safe. It was not the O K Corral, thank goodness, he thought, as he hurried down the back alley. He saw soldiers, or more probably, mercenaries coming in from both sides of the town. It looked like one group came from the east gate and the other from the west gate. They gathered in the square, and Hans, and Pater who came up behind him, had no doubt who they were looking for.
Alderman climbed up to the roof of the barn where he could look over the shops and get a clear view of the square. He looked for Mister Muller. They found Mister Muller’s wagon full of sacks of coarse ground, ergot-laced rye flour in the barn, but had not yet found the man. Hans figured Mister Muller planned to feed the hallucinogenic flour to the university students and faculty in order to make Martin Luther’s ideas look like the cause of all that insanity and death. It might kill the reformation. Hans decided if Mister Muller did not work for the Masters, he was at least doing their job.
“There’s two witches,” Bushwacker said as he came up beside Hans and Pater. “Sergeant Adolph, Ralph, and Herman are watching from the barn door, just shy of the shops on the square.”
“What do you mean, two witches?” Pater asked. Bushwacker merely pointed. Two women rose about twenty feet above the men and horses. They both sat on brooms, cliché though that was, and they appeared to know each other. Pater and Hans both recognized Ursula.
“The one says she is following the Kairos. The other says she is following the travelers from Avalon,” Bushwacker reported, and promptly cleaned his ears with his fingers, like he got some dirt in there. Hans and Pater watched the witches laugh, like it was all so funny. Hans imagined it was more like a cackle.
Hans already called to the armor of the Kairos, so he stood there ready to fight, even if he was not much good with the weapons at his back. He suddenly put his hand to his head when he remembered who the travelers from Avalon were. Fortunately, the sudden influx of information passed quickly, and he spoke. “I hope Lockhart is not caught unaware.” Then he had to think.
Hans realized the witches, servants of the Masters, were demon infested. He also knew they were only there to kill him and the travelers. In his case, it would not ultimately matter. He would simply be reborn, though the Masters might get fifteen or more years of freedom to do whatever evil plan they had in mind while he grew from a baby. Squashing the reformation might be a big one the demon-Masters might like to do. As for the travelers… he imagined they would interfere with more events in the future. Eliminating them would prevent their interference.
But what can I do about these demonized witches? he thought. He had no magic to fight them, and his few men would not stand a chance against forty or more hardened mercenaries.
“Burn them at the stake,” he heard clear as a bell. He was not sure which lifetime talked to him. Probably not the Storyteller, peace lover as he was. Probably not the Captain, or Diogenes, or Martok who never had to deal with anything like that, and probably could not imagine it.
“Lord?” Bushwacker got Hans’ attention. He and Pater were staring at him rather than the events in the square.
“This is beyond my ability,” he confessed. “I need help.” He did not explain.
The travelers made a big swing around through the town when they saw the witch Inga and her men got ahead of them. They arrived at the church across the street from the inn when the soldiers began to gather in the University Square. After tying off their horses, they snuck up through the cemetery and hid behind the grave markers. They all saw the two witches fly up to get above the crowd of soldiers.
Decker spotted Blondy. He appeared to be leading one side of the soldiers, and Big Ugly was right there with him. “Major,” Decker called Katie. He had her get Big Ugly in the scope of her rifle while he kept his rifle pointed at Blondy. They waited, wanting to give Elder Stow as much time as possible to get his screens ready to deploy. They had to act sooner than planned.
A man stood on the ground beneath the witches and shouted up to them to make himself heard. An arrow came from the roof of the barn across the street. A perfect shot, it killed the man on the ground. Decker did not hesitate.
“Now,” he said. Katie killed Big Ugly with one shot. The man made a big target. Decker had to fire twice before Blondy went down.
“I’m not ready,” Elder Stow shouted. Sukki stood right there and felt his distress. The witches both turned their heads toward the barn and then the cemetery. Sukki let her power out of both hands. She hoped to fry the witches without setting the city on fire. The witches did not burn. Something prevented Suki’s power from reaching them. Everyone looked surprised, especially Sukki.
Nameless, son of Frya of the Vanir and Tyr of Aesgard. The Nameless god, grandson of Odin the Alfader, and also the Kairos appeared beside the witches. All the soldiers in the square froze in place. The witches appeared powerless in the face of the god. Nameless did something that made the witches scream, and the witches fell to the cobblestones.
Thirty men came up the broad street from the University. They looked prepared for a fight. At the same time, people came from all the side streets around the square, again, mostly men being the watch and city guards. They disarmed the mercenaries who came stiffly out of their frozen state. They grabbed the two women who were seen by all flying over the heads of everyone. Those witches got securely tied and gagged and hauled off to the nearest jail cell.
Nameless appeared by the travelers. He smiled for them, and they remembered him from the past. Then Nameless returned to the past and Hans appeared in his place. “Lockhart, good timing for once,” he said, before he opened his arms for a hug. “Sukki.” Sukki began to understand why Boston loved her hugs so much.
Pater and Bushwacker came through the barn from the back, and Alderman came down from the roof. Sergeant Adolph, Ralph, and Herman all got introduced and Alderman reported on the ergot.
“I got Mister Muller with an arrow, but I noticed his wagon and sacks of rye flour are missing from the barn.”
“Nameless thought it best to remove it to prevent it being baked into bread.”
“Ergot,” Alderman said to explain. Katie and Tony both recognized the word.
“Yes,” Hans said. “Mister Muller had in mind to poison the university students and faculty and blame Martin Luther and his teachings. He wanted to accuse Luther of witchcraft and demonizing the people. My guess is the Masters would rather not have a reformation.”
“But what will happen to the real witches?” Nanette asked, and Sukki stood with her.
“Inga and Ursula,” Hans said. “Nameless took away their magic. They are just ordinary girls now, but still demon possessed. No one can help them unless they want to be free, and that is in God’s hands. My guess is they will be tried and burned at the stake, or hung, or beheaded. These are the years for that sort of thing, you know. Nanette and Sukki, you need to be careful right now on what power you show in public. You don’t want to be arrested and tried for witchery.”
“It’s okay,” Nanette said. “Lincoln has assured me in the next time zone my magic will go away, and I won’t get it back until 1875, five zones from here.”
“Good,” Hans said. “Come and meet the rest of the crew.”
They all walked across the street and up the steps of the inn. They did not get in the door because a young woman came out the door, wrapped herself around Hans just as tight as she could hold him, and she went for his lips. People paused and smiled before Pater took the lead.
“Heidi,” he named the woman, and waved everyone into the inn. “Let’s see how Kurt and Helga are making out.”
“I am sure they are,” Alderman said with a grin for the travelers who knew exactly what he meant.
The travelers travel to the Caribbean in season 9, episode 4 (9.4) Broadside where they find Captain Hawk, the Flying Dutchman, and some nasty visitors from the stars. Until then, Happy Reading.