Avalon 3.2: part 4 of 6, Moonbeams

Elder Stow spent most of the supper time purifying the water so he could drink something safe that did not have alcohol in it. He offered to set his tent up on the courtyard where he could keep an eye on the Bluebloods, but Weret declined. The girls all moved together toward a doorway. The men stayed, but Elder Stow looked ready to retire. Lockhart only made Elder Stow pause because he had a question.

“You seem changed, somehow, since the last time zone. Are you okay?”

Elder Stow gave a slight and uncharacteristic bow of his head. “My father,” he began. “Through the eyes of the furies I saw myself. I did not like what I saw. Decker keeps reminding me of the mission, to get everyone back to our own time zone, alive. This also is what I want, and it has come to mind there is more I can do to help accomplish this task.” He looked like he might say something more, but changed his mind. “Right now I believe I will sleep. I will try my best to snore loudly so you can find the room when you come.” He hurried off to catch up with the women. Fortunately, the feet of the women were moving rather slow even if their jaws were not.

Lincoln nudged Lockhart. “His ways are not our ways,” he said.

At that same time, Narmer turned to the old priest beside him. “You are a learned man,” he said. “You are perhaps the most learned man in the kingdom. So tell me. Did you understand the conversation the Princess had with her friends and the blue ones?”egypt king and priest

The priest shook his head and sipped his brew. “Hardly a word.”

“Lord.” Two of the generals came up from the far end of the table, stepped around the blood on the floor, and took seats by their king. “If we could get weapons like the dark one has, we could end this war in no time.”

Narmer doubted it. Weret made clear to him the dangers of disturbing history. “I will ask,” he said. He waved the travelers to come and join them at the head of the table. He also called for more brew which the servants brought right away. The travelers sat opposite the priest and the Generals, with Lockhart next to the king. That left Roland in the odd, extra seat, but he did not mind.

“A fine supper,” Lockhart felt the compliment was in order before he sat.

“This brew is not the best,” the king confessed. It was watery, but acceptable. Of course, it would be hard to top the thick brewed ale made by Bogart in the last time zone. “But now, Major, I have a question.” He looked at Decker. “My Generals were wondering if they might look at that miraculous weapon of yours.”

“Not allowed,” Decker said flatly.

“The Kairos,” Lockhart said. “The god of history would be very upset if we shared things from the future and disturbed the present.”

“That probably goes for the horses, too.” Lincoln added.

“So it has been explained to me,” Narmer turned back to his Generals. “There you have it.” The Generals did not look happy.

“Lockhart, correct me if I am wrong,” Roland said. “But I have been thinking about what Elder Stow was doing all night, purifying some water to make it safe to drink. How about if we offer them a chance to egypt crowd generalget to the battle without having half their army out of action with dysentery.”

“When are you leaving with the army?” Lockhart asked.

“I was thinking in the morning with the Princess and the blue people.” Narmer was curious.

“What!” Both Generals jumped to their feet. “Morning?”

“Wait.” Lockhart held up his hand. “Give it one more day. Let me explain what we can do for you.”

###

Upstairs, the women all wanted to feel the baby move. “He is not moving as much as he used to,” Weret admitted as she stepped to the window. The window was actually a wide open space between the columns. Only a simple overhang of the roof protected the room from the rain, if it should ever rain in Egypt. There were curtains Weret could pull across the space, but she preferred to leave them open so she could see the moon and the stars.

“Are you sure you have another month before delivery?” Alexis asked.

“Doctor Mishka’s estimate,” Weret said. “But it is hard to estimate when I can’t examine myself.” Alexis nodded as Boston butted in. She put her hand on the baby and whined.

“I want a baby.”

“So do I,” Alexis said. “But you should know, elves, and all the little spirits reproduce slowly. I know an elf couple that faithfully mated for six hundred years, and in all that time they only had six children.”

“One per century. But I don’t have that long,” Boston continued to complain until Sakhmet’s words distracted them.

“I hope you have a handful, Mom.” She hugged Katie and spoke to the others who were listening in. “Surrogate mother, and Lockhart is my surrogate dad.”

“Yes, What is wrong with that man?” Boston found something else to complain about.

“He is slower than Benjamin,” Alexis said.

“The moon.” Weret had moved to the window and the bit of a balcony that it had. She was pointing to the risen moon. “It has been full for a fortnight. Chron is so sweet. I told him the full moon was romantic, so he has kept it full all this time.” Something special crept into Weret’s voice on the mention of Chron’s name. Alexis picked up on it.

Weret turned to face them and there was something special in her smile as well. “He is young and strong and handsome. Oh, Narmer is a lovely older gentleman, and I love him in a very special way, but he is a bit of a father figure.” She stopped talking and everyone stared. Something on the balcony railing behind her growled at her.Egypt Bedroom

“Come away, slowly,” Katie said. She had her pistol out. Alexis and Boston pulled the goat bone wands they had fashioned in the alps. Sakhmet was not there anymore but a lioness was, and she was full grown, and she roared and growled in response. The werewolf stepped down from the railing, but it went no further while it tried to judge the opposition.

Weret stepped in little steps from the window and tried not to trigger the instinct that pursued anything trying to escape. A man appeared in the room. He held a big sword, but could not use it around Weret who scurried into his arms and buried her eyes in his chest.

With the appearance of the lioness and the man with the sword, something triggered in the werewolf’s brain that said this was not a good place to be. It howled and leapt back out the window. When it touched the ground below, it scurried off into the long shadows of Abydos at night.

The man looked down at Weret as she looked up at him. The sword vanished so he could hold her better, and they kissed for some time with hardly a breath between them. Katie’s hand reached down to pet and scratch the head and ears of the animal beside her. It did not occur to her at first she was petting the lioness because the lioness was sitting and panting like a puppy.

‘Chron.” Alexis guessed the visitor’s name and added an odd thought. “You know, if the moon was not quite full, the werewolf would not be able to take the wolf form.”

“Hush,” Boston said. She had her arms folded and was watching the kissing.

When the men from the table downstairs burst into the room, decked out for war, they were presented egypt lionesswith this very strange sight. Narmer turned first to the lioness.

“You ate Sakhmetet again, I see.” The lioness did something like stick her tongue out at the man before she plopped down by the window and began to clean her paws.

The couple separated and both wore doofy grins the way only young people in love can look. When they noticed the room was filled up with visitors, Chron thought it wise to vanish and Weret felt a sudden need to straighten out her dress.

Alexis went to Lincoln and held him. Boston went to Roland and kissed him, not wanting to miss out on the action and wanting a doofy grin of her own. Roland obliged. Katie looked embarrassed for having been standing there petting a lion without realizing it. Lockhart went to her and gave her a kiss which she thought was all too brief.

“Gentlemen,” Decker called. “Listen.” Everyone got still so they could hear Elder Stow and the honks and snores that penetrated from the room next door.

“Right,” Lockhart agreed. “Busy day tomorrow.” He headed toward the door. When Narmer joined him and he realized he would have to wait a moment for Lincoln and Roland to catch up, he asked the King a question.

“Does it bother you?”

Narmer knew exactly what Lockhart was asking. “I am happy for her if she is happy. This way she will be safe. Otherwise, when the baby is born, I have every assurance that the Queen will have her killed. Better she be safe and happy, don’t you think?”

“I agree.” Lockhart nodded. “I was just wondering.”

Avalon 3.2: part 3 of 6, Negotiations

Supper put the six Bluebloods on one side of the long table with several of the king’s generals, the other side was taken up with the travelers beside Weret and Sakhmet who was masquerading as Sakhmetet, Weret’s good friend and something like a lady in waiting. There were other dignitaries, and guards stationed around the room, but to be sure, the king’s table could hardly accommodate thirty.

Narmer sat at the head of the table, Weret to one side and a chief among the priests to the other. Narmer was a middle aged man, but looked to be in excellent shape and health. He was content at first to eat his beef, grain and onion quietly and sip his beer while he watched his guests. The chief Blueblood showed right from the start that rude was to be expected.

“I see the Gott-Druk still has his equipment, and weapons I presume. Special privilege for the one not so bright?”

Weret put her hand on Narmer’s hand and repeated what the Blueblood said, then she turned to the Egyptian banquetBlueblood and answered, calmly, in the local tongue. “Elder Stow and his people are native to this planet. He is a trusted and welcomed guest at this table. You are not of this world and thus far have not proved yourself a friend. You are a guest here, and would do well to remember that.”

Narmer pulled his big hand from beneath Weret’s little one to capture her hand with his warmth. He smiled for the young beauty. Every man did, but clearly Narmer and Weret has shared on a most intimate basis. “She is my reason,” he called her. “She knows things no other person knows and she has resources no other person has. Isn’t that so, master elf?” He looked briefly at Roland who nodded graciously. “Every man in the army is in love with her and no doubt would die for her if she asked them to, but diplomacy is not her strong suit. These blue people are strangers to us, as may be their ways. What we consider proper, they might not understand. They might consider very different things proper.” He shrugged a very human shrug. “But I have said they are welcome at my table. Let it be so for now.”

“But tell me,” Katie spoke up casually. “Weret mentioned your ship is parked down by the Place of the Lion and in need of repair. What brought you all the way up here?”

The second male brought a small translator from his belt that would translate his words to the local words, then he spoke since the chief looked put-off by Weret’s comment. “We heard there was a king in these lands and we thought we might ask his help. There are certain things we need for our repairs, the chief thing being copper.” It was not the whole truth, and many of the people there, travelers and Egyptians alike were not fooled.

“Yes.”   Lincoln took up the question as he imagined he was wondering the same thing as Katie. “But how did you know to come here, to Abydos? There are real cities you passed over on the way, and the Narmerbig cities are all upstream from here. We passed through two, Hekhen, which is the capitol and where I would expect to find the king, and the big city, Thebes.”

A blueblood female leaned over to speak into the translation device. “There are a small number of men outside a town in the north. They told us of the king of the south.”

The travelers looked at Narmer and he took his smiling eyes from Weret to give an answer. “I have three thousand men holding a wall just outside Memphis. I came here a year ago and have raised and trained five thousand more. We hope to pick up another two thousand as we move on the Land of the Bee. That will be an army the Red King cannot counter. We already have Bubastis, Heliopolis and Merimde pledged to switch sides. If we can take Buto, the delta will fall and the two lands can finally be at peace.”

“But we were in Thebes until a week ago.” Weret interjected. “We only came here to see how five thousand men might be moved. We learned a few things, but I am sure word has not yet gotten to the three thousand so there is no way they could have told you we were in Abydos.”

The other Bluebloods looked at their chief. “We saw the army here.” He said the words, but it truly came out as a question. Weret shook her head.temple at abydos

“The impressive building here, the one any stranger would take for a palace is the Temple of Osiris, but you came straight here.”

The Blueblood nodded like he knew he was trapped in the lie. He appeared to think it was time for some honesty. “The king in the north has already promised us all the copper and other things we need. He has required only one price.” The Blueblood took something from his pocket. It looked like a spray bottle of some kind. “He said we must kill the White King.”

Even as the translation box was rendering those last words, the Blueblood raised the bottle and sprayed its contents at the king. He did not know that Sakhmet, the warrior goddess whose job it is to defend the upper lands, had already put up an invisible wall against treachery. The spray only went as far as the wall where it bounced back in the face of the one who sprayed it. They did not get a chance to see what affect that spray might have, though, because Sakhmet’s wall was not put up to stop Decker’s bullet.

Decker had pulled his pistol to his lap, and used it without hesitation. The Blueblood chief got a hole right through is head and he fell to the ground. Several spear toting guards rushed up and stabbed the body several times, but the Blueblood was already dead.

egyptian soldiers“Wait!” Weret yelled and stood, and Sakhmet stood with her, her hand of concern on Weret’s belly. The guards were ready to slaughter all of the Bluebloods present, but with a glance at their king, they were willing to wait for Weret.

“I want to send them home, get them off this planet, and I would rather not see them all killed if we can help it,” Weret said as she sat again, slowly, with Sakhmet’s help. “Let’s start again. What is wrong with your ship and how can we help you repair it?”

The five remaining Bluebloods watched as men came and took the body away. Then the man on the end grabbed the translation box and spoke rapidly. “The wires burned out in the navigation system. We brought extra, but lost it in battle. The hole in the hull is sealed off. It should not be a problem, but without navigation we won’t be going anywhere.”

The woman leaned over again. “Navigation is the system that shows us what path we need to take through the stars—“

“We know what navigation means,” Lincoln interrupted.

“Did you try replacing the wire?” Katie asked.

The man spoke again, more slowly this time. “We had enough to try and replace it once, but it just burned out again.”

Several people looked at Boston. She held the doctorate in electrical engineering, after all. She considered her words. “It sounds like the trouble is deeper in the system, like whatever you are using as capacitors are malfunctioning, maybe shorting out. It sounds like the electricity is being stalled at some point and then suddenly surging out like a mini-lightning strike, frying any little wires in the way. Something like that. But I can’t really know what the real trouble is until I get a look at it.”

“You would look at it?” The woman sounded surprised.

“I will if you want me to fix it, and maybe if Martok helps.”

Weret did her best to lean over to look at Boston. “He says he would be delighted.” She sat back down . “But now you five that used to be six. You have two strikes against you. One more incident and I won’t be able to save you from destruction. Remember the rules. You are not to kill the locals, king or commoner alike. There will be no Blueblood babies. This planet is off limits for breeding. And you will respect the rightful authority here. Again, is that clear?” Weret saw that at least a couple of the Bluebloods were willing. “Then for your own safety, I suggest you sleep tonight in your shuttle. We will see about going to your ship in the morning, after we have all had some rest.”

“But our ship is gone,” the Blueblood woman protested.egyptian beauty

“No,” Weret countered. “It is back where you parked it. But your weapons and engines have been temporarily disabled so you won’t be able to hurt anyone or go anywhere tonight.”

Narmer waved for guards. “Escort these back to their ship for the night. It is in the courtyard?” He had to look at Weret who nodded.

As the Bluebloods marched out, Sakhmet helped Weret stand again. Narmer wanted to help, but Weret waved him off. “I am fine. You have to wait at least another thirty days before you can see your, um, grandson. Right now, I just want to show my friends to their rooms. Ugh. I sat too long.”

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

This ends the first half of Avalon, episode 3.2.  Be sure to return next week (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) to see if Weret and Boston can repair the Blueblood ship and how far the Bluebloods may go to test the patience of these two trusting young women.