Avalon 9.4 Broadside, part 6 of 6

Most of the men, soldiers and sailors did not make it, but some did for two reasons.  Elder Stow, at the last minute, removed the wall setting and placed an invisible globe of force around the travelers, Captain Hawk and his immediate crew of officers, many Dutchmen, and some Spaniards.  He slowly expanded the bubble as he flew to the edge of the beach.  Once the travelers could wade out into the water, he let the bubble go.  They would have to swim a bit, and their weapons and rifles would need some care to be restored, but they would be safe.  Besides, they had help.  The other reason some made it to the ship.  Three hundred mermen came out of the bay.  They carried harpoons they could throw and trident-like pikes they could use to cut and stab from a distance.  The mermen, legs on, made a way through the spiders for men to get to the sea where the mermaids waited to carry them to the ship.  As frightening as the mermaids were for some of the sailors, the spiders were worse.

As Captain Hawk climbed aboard the ship, he realized the bay was full of his water sprites.  He understood then why the spiders had not overrun the Golden Hawk.  He saw that any spider that put so much as a foot in the water got grabbed and pulled under to drown.  The Mere people just made it so much worse for the spiders.

The mermen did not stay on land very long.  They quickly pulled back into the water, effectively abandoning the rest of the men to their fate.  By then, there were not many left alive.  The deck of the Golden Hawk was littered with men, soaking wet from the sea and from the sweat of fear.  It would be a long time before the nightmares went away.

The shoreline still teemed with spiders, but Inaros pointed to the edge of the woods where after a moment they heard musket fire and arrows began to bombard the spiders.  General Diego had arrived.  The Buccaneers were there to cut off escape to the north.  The natives pressed in from the south.  And now that the sea was certain death, it was only a matter of time before the spiders were finished.  They had nowhere to escape.  Half, or more of the men would die in the fight, but they would finish the job.  Captain Hawk knew his little ones would scour the whole island.  No spiders on the island would survive.

Inaros pointed up.  The old Agdaline transport had taken to the sky and was headed right toward them.

“Damn,” Decker noticed, and then everyone noticed.

Captain Hawk shouted.  “Mister Peevy!  Prepare the ship for flight.”

“Aye Captain,” came the response.

The captain spoke more quietly to Elder Stow.  “Can you project screens all around the ship?”  He explained for the others.  “Agdaline ships are big transports, not warships.  They only have… er, ray-guns to remove objects in space that might damage them or maybe to clear a landing site during planetfall.  Those systems, though, can be used as weapons, so we need protection.”

“Yes,” Elder Stow responded.  “But we will pick up a lot of water and anything that happens to be swimming in it.”

“Wait until we are high enough in the air.”

Elder Stow got out his scanner.  “I did not see any flight engines aboard.”

“Ready Captain,” Peevy shouted.

“Never mind about that.  Just get ready to set your screens,” Captain Hawk said before he returned the shout.  “Take her up.”

The ship rose right out of the water.  General Diego’s men who made it to the shore gawked, shouted, and pointed.  The Agdaline ship came overhead, and as expected, they fired their meteor deflectors.  Fortunately, Elder Stow got the screens up in time, so the makeshift weapon did not touch them.

“One moment,” Elder stow said, as he set his screen device down by the main mast.  He had his scanner out and his weapon.  Sukki said she was ready.  Captain Hawk talked to Lockhart and Katie.

“The thing is, there are probably a thousand or more spiders still aboard the ship in suspended animation or cryogenic sleep chambers, or whatever the current term of use may be.  They will have to be dealt with at some point, but I take back what I said about this day and age.  By brute force and with gunpowder, the human race might be able to fend off the spiders.  Of course, maybe not when the spiders are counted in the trillions.”  He shrugged.

“Let’s not let it get to that point, if you don’t mind.”  Lockhart said, as Katie interrupted.

“So you know.  I saw Captain Esteban and his officers taken by a dozen spiders.  It was while we were running.”

“I can confirm that,” Lockhart said.

“Sadly, there is still Don Fernando Delrio, the mastermind behind the idea of colonizing the Southern United States.  He is the one that mostly needs to be stopped, before the Atlanta Braves become the Bravos de Atlanta.”  Captain Hawk interrupted himself as he saw they were coming up alongside the Agdaline ship.  He anticipated what Elder Stow was working on and shouted.  “Mister Peevy!  Prepare a broadside.”

“Aye Captain.”

Elder Stow raised his weapon and fired, striking the Agdaline ship in three places.  The first shot took a moment to penetrate the Agdaline screens, but the second and third shots were swift.  Sukki, eyes on the scanner, confirmed the three shots struck home.  Elder Stow took the scanner to double check while Sukki explained to Lockhart and Katie.  Decker, Nanette, and Lincoln all walked up to listen.

“The first shot took out the Agdaline screens.  The second killed the weapons system.  The third damaged the engines in a way that would not explode.”

Elder Stow mumbled.  “I figured an atomic-level explosion was not a good idea.”  He looked up from his scanner and spoke more clearly.  “Hopefully, they will come down in the sea and all drown.”

Captain Hawk did not hear.  He was busy shouting, “Fire!”

The broadside from the Golden Hawk, in an equal and opposite reaction, pushed the ship away from the Agdaline transport and into a cloud that was both cold and wet.  The ship rocked a bit, and the deck became slippery to stand on, but at least no one fell overboard.  The little ones keeping the ship up in the air complained but things settled down quick enough.

They came out of the cloud in time to see the Agdaline ship head off to the north.  She had a dozen big dents in the side with a couple of loosened plates in the outer hull, and she had at least five holes in the ship, ruining the ship for spaceflight. Her engines were smoking, badly.  She would not stay aloft for very long.  In fact, she managed to fly all the way to the Delaware River where she sank, somewhat deliberately in the soft mud by the river.  She would awaken, and the spiders would make a mess in the future, but that is a different story.

Aboard the Golden Hawk, the captain shook his head.  “We can do up and down and sail some if we get a good tail wind, but it is very draining on the little ones keeping her up.  No way we can follow the ship and see where it lands.  That will have to be a future headache.”  He shouted again.  “Mister Peevy!  Get the boards and raise the Jolly Roger.”

The boards held the words, Flying Dutchman.  They effectively covered the ship name, Golden Hawk.  The flag had the expected skull and crossbones, but it was offset to make room for an hourglass.  “What do you think?” the captain asked.  “I’m about a hundred years ahead of time with the flag, but someone has to start it.”  He smiled for everyone, and Inaros said Argh

The ship set down in the bay virtually in the same spot where it began, but now pointed out to sea.  They unloaded the surviving Spanish.  General Diego would take them back to Santo Domingo.  The Buccaneers, mostly French and some English, knew Captain Hawk and his crew, and they waved like they were all great friends.  They were not all great friends.  The native survivors did not appear to know what to think.  These Europeans were full of surprises.  But mostly, these spiders were creatures of nightmares.  Who knew what tales they might tell?

Once the deck was cleared, the ship set sail for Guantanamo Bay.  They would sail two days to get there, as long as the weather held.  The travelers would be able to rest there for a couple of days while Captain Hawk sailed back to Hispaniola.  Then they would travel half a day inland across Cuba to reach the time gate.  In all, about a five-day journey to the next time gate. That was not so bad, if the horses did not complain after all that rest and pampering.



The travelers arrive in the frozen north and Lady Elizabeth of Gray Havens brings her recruits into a strange world. Monday. Men in Black. Happy reading.


Avalon 9.4 Broadside, part 5 of 6

“You can see for yourself.”  Captain Esteban pointed behind him where the travelers waited.  “I have not damaged them.  I have treated them well.  They even have all their equipment.  I figured we will need their help to drive out whatever landed here in the west.  Do you think?”

“Spiders,” Captain Hawk said, confirming Lincoln’s word.

“As I feared,” Captain Esteban responded.

“We will begin by moving the travelers and their horses to the Golden Hawk.  Then we will discuss what we can do about the spiders.”

Nanette and Suki left off tending the Spanish wounded.  The Spanish were grateful for the help.  Tony had Ghost and the horses and found a dozen human looking men come to help him transfer the horses to the frigate.  They looked human enough, but Tony suspected they were not, given the way the horses readily responded to them.

“Sukki,” Captain Hawk called her and hugged her.  Lincoln had to ask.

“Peter van Dyke?”

“Captain Hawk,” Katie called him.

“It is all in the profile,” Captain Hawk said, and he lifted his eyes and showed the side of his face.  With his aquiline nose, he did look a bit like a bird of prey.

Captain Esteban let his hostages go without trouble.  He had no choice.  His crew had been damaged.  His ship shredded.  His company of soldiers remained intact, but they would all be needed if they indeed faced spiders from the stars.  Besides that, he would need the guns of the Dutchman and his soldiers, and the Dutchman’s ship if retreat became the only option.  If giving up his hostages ensured cooperation, he would do that.

“But look,” Captain Esteban said.  “Neither you nor the Masters want an invasion of alien spiders at this time.  You see my good faith in bringing the Travelers from Avalon to you unharmed.  Perhaps we can make a temporary truce until these spiders are taken care of.  You know, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

“The enemy of my enemy is still my enemy,” Captain Hawk countered.  “I do not trust you, but I will use you and your men in this circumstance as I am sure you will use me and my men.”

Captain Esteban grinned before he nodded.  “I was told you are no fool.”

“But maybe I am.  Eh Inaros?” Captain Hawk grinned at his mate.  “General Diego has crossed through the mountains with three thousand men.  They are not all soldiers from Spain, but they all know how to fire a matchlock and can use spears and knives.  LeBlanc has brought around three thousand Buccaneers down from the north.  He has some English pirates with him as well.”

“I was not aware there were that many Buccaneers,” Captain Esteban interrupted with a pull on his beard.

Captain Hawk nodded.  “Then in the south, the Taino and Carib have made a temporary truce, like us, and they have come up with some three thousand more.  My spies tell me the circle is about closed.  The spiders have nowhere to go except this direction, or back to their ship.  Let us hope they retreat to their ship.”

“You are mad,” Captain Esteban said.

It did not take long for Ghost and the horses to be loaded on the Golden Hawk.  Captain Hawk gathered two hundred soldiers and sailors, leaving plenty of men to guard the ship.  He had a company of fifty well-disciplined Dutch regulars.  The rest were from the Netherlands, Holland, England, and some from Brittany, or they were little ones, at least a few, disguised as men.  Captain Esteban gathered two hundred and fifty soldiers and sailors still able to fight.  He left the wounded on the shore and smiled to think he had the numbers to pull a double-cross until a hundred more natives and pirates appeared in the woods.  Captain Esteban frowned at the turning of the odds.  The travelers guessed that these were all native little ones come to lend the Kairos a hand.  Katie guessed in their natural appearance they might look something between gnomes, elves, and dwarfs with a couple of ogre-trolls and maybe a few flyers, if not exactly fairies in the mix.

“Off to see the wizard,” Captain Hawk announced, and the men began to move in among the trees as quietly as they could.  “The wizardess,” Captain Hawk corrected himself.  “The chief spider is a female.”

Lockhart stood close and his old police instincts flared.  “Are you afraid Captain Esteban might make a deal of some sort with the spiders?”

Captain Hawk shook his head.  “He might have with some other species, but spiders do not deal.  They might let someone live a while if they are useful, but they will eventually be eaten.  Spiders don’t bargain.”

“But you said the female was especially intelligent.”

Captain Hawk nodded.  “They may have come here in an old Agdaline transport as Elder Stow has suggested. There may be ten thousand spiders aboard the ship, but most are likely still in suspension.  There is one female in charge and perhaps not a single fully adult male.  When the female’s eggs hatch, the females tend to eat the males.  You have to understand.  On their world everything has been eaten.  They might eventually die out and leave a barren world if people would stop landing explorer craft.”

“Okay,” Katie interrupted, catching up with the conversation.  “But why would they land here on an underpopulated island in the Caribbean?”

“To secure their foothold.  There is plenty to eat here, and not just humans.  Meanwhile, the female lays several hundred eggs at one time.  They hatch in six months, and by a year old, the babies are eating everything in sight.  It only takes three to five years before the females are mature enough to begin laying their own eggs.  By the time they invade Cuba, ten thousand might be a million, and by the time they invade Mexico, or maybe Florida or Venezuela, a million might be a billion, and they will increase exponentially.  Once they cross over to Africa, that will be the end of life on Earth other than spider life.”

“How long do you figure that will take?” Lockhart asked.

“A hundred years before Africa, maybe two hundred at most, but I don’t see the human race coming up with anything other than brute force to stop them, and frankly, if we can’t stop them here at the start, there may be no stopping them.”

“Hold up,” Katie whispered.  She was paying attention to where they were going.

They had not gone far, but they reached an open field, and the hundred natives and pirates that joined them at the last minute became agitated.  Most climbed the trees at the edge of the woods and the word spread among the men to get ready.  The Spanish and Dutch soldiers pushed to the front on either side of the natives.  They each formed two lines facing the field and waited.  The travelers, guns ready, crowded in the middle ground with the ship captains and their officers.  The natives in the trees pulled out bows and grasped their arrows in anticipation.  The sailors gathered behind the soldiers, matchlocks ready, though many held only pikes and swords of some sort.  They waited, but not for long.

Spiders came racing across the field, each one looking the size of a man.  The Spanish military captain panicked and yelled too soon.  “Fuego!”  Some of the shot fell short, but most hit something.  As long as the soldiers fired at ground level, it would have been impossible not to hit something, the way the spiders were massed together.

A few seconds later, the Dutch fired.  Spiders went down, but it hardly made a difference.  There were too many of them.  Most of the Spanish and Dutch soldiers got their matchlocks loaded for a second shot, but it was not a second volley.  The spiders came on as fast as a cavalry charge.  Lockhart admired the courage of the soldiers as many of the sailors already abandoned the fight and were racing back to the beach.  The soldiers put down their matchlocks and grabbed whatever pikes, swords, or knives they had or could find.

By far, the travelers took the biggest toll in the center.  The little ones overhead could fire a half-dozen arrows in the time it took a soldier to load and fire his matchlock once.  Decker and Katie had their military rifles set to automatic and fired hundreds of rounds in a short time.  The rest had handguns, including Nanette, who had Boston’s old Beretta. The handguns brought down plenty, but the spiders seemed endless.

Everything stopped when the spiders crashed into an invisible wall and could go no further.  Elder Stow held on through the crash, then he picked up his screen device, floated up about six feet in the air, and shouted to the travelers.  “It is a wall.  They will find a way around the edge.  I recommend retreat.”

Sukki floated up next to Elder Stow and she let her power pour from her hands.  The front row of spiders burned, but Sukki knew her strength would give out before the spiders stopped coming.

Men began to run back to the beach, and as predicted, the spiders soon found their way around the wall.  The spiders had to rush toward the center to get at the men, and some men got taken.  Elder Stow had to turn off the wall, race a couple hundred yards into the woods, and turn the wall on again.  This again stopped the spiders completely, if only temporarily.  He did this several times between the field and the beach, and most of the men made it to the shore.

What they found was hundreds of spiders crawling all over the shore.  The wounded Spaniards that Captain Esteban left there were all dead.  Some were partially eaten, but several canisters of Mustard gas had been opened.  It was suicide for the Spanish to do that, but the spiders shriveled under the gas.  Everyone avoided that end of the shoreline.

The spiders ignored the oncoming men at first.  They appeared to be scurrying about, looking for a way to cross the water and get to the Golden Hawk.  Captain Hawk had a thought.  “To the ship,” he yelled, but few heard him as the men had to fight their way to the water.

Avalon 9.4 Broadside, part 4 of 6

Elder Stow determined that the spacecraft used old Agdaline energy sources.  That did not tell him much.  So many early ships and people new to space travel used the same strictly natural sources of energy.  “If they have managed to master gravitational forces, they might have faster than light craft,” he said.  “But if that is the case, they should be on the verge of discovering new and better energy sources.  We may assume a slower than light speed craft, at which point they may have cryogenic chambers,” he turned to Nanette and Tony.  “That is sleep chambers where the body functions are slowed to almost nothing while the ship travels the great distances between the stars.”

“It may be an actual Agdaline ship,” Lockhart said, hoping Elder Stow would contradict him., but Elder Stow agreed.

“The Agdaline fly in fleets of six or twelve.  The odds are hard to calculate where they lost five ships and only one survived.  Also, their normal destination would be Egypt at the place of the lion.  They would not come here unless they were followed by whatever destroyed the other five ships, and then they would hide.  Whatever landed here has made no effort to hide.  Besides, I spoke with Lincoln earlier.  He has assured me that the Agdaline stopped coming around the year one thousand.  There are no more Agdaline fleets out there.”

“And the Agdaline don’t eat people,” Katie said.

“So, the ship may have been hijacked,” Decker suggested.

“That would be some hijacking to overcome the andasmagora.”  Katie also turned to Nanette and Tony who were not with them back in the early days.  “Dragons,” she explained.

“Sounds like spiders to me,” Decker said, and he did not bother to spell out the idea that if an Agdaline ship or fleet landed on the spider planet, a million poisonous giant spiders might easily take the ship and overcome whatever dragons might be guarding the hallways.

“I was hoping it was not an actual Agdaline ship,” Lockhart said.

“Do you have any idea how many spiders that could carry?” Lincoln said and swallowed.

“Round, but the size of a big city block,” Katie explained to the others.

Lockhart, Decker, and Elder Stow all looked eye to eye, and Elder Stow said, “This way.”  He took them straight to the cabin where their guns and equipment were stored.  They got everything back, and Lockhart sent Tony and Lincoln to ready Ghost and the horses for a quick evacuation.  The others went up on deck.

Captain Esteban saw them, rearmed, but he said nothing.  His attention stayed on the fog that covered the bay.  The ship inched forward.  Only the lateen sail on the mizzenmast was deployed, and it sat limp in the dead calm.   They had oars, twelve to a side and three men to an oar.  In this way, they moved slowly toward the shore, a young officer on one side and the boatswain on the other taking soundings every minute.  They did not want to run aground on a sand bar, or worse, scrape against some rocks that might put a hole in their ship.

“No telling how close we are to the shore,” Captain Esteban said to Decker.  “Unless you can convince the Gott-Druk to scan the area ahead.  It would be for your safety that we do not wreck this ship.”  Both Decker and the captain looked through the mist to where Elder Stow and Sukki stood by the railing.  Elder Stow did appear to have something in his hands on which he concentrated.

“Father?” Sukki whispered.  Gott-Druk were not generally good at whispering, but Sukki made the effort to learn since she was made human.

“Hold on,” Elder Stow told her before he shouted the words, “Hold on!”

The whole ship shook as they heard a terrible scraping sound all along the port side.  It thundered horrendously through the hold where the horses screamed.  Regular cracking sounds came from below as great boards of seasoned oak split and spit out nails.  The captain did not have time to instruct the oarsmen to pull back as a different sort of scraping sound came from directly below.  Forward motion pushed the bow over the area before the ship jerked and shuddered to a stop, stuck fast on a sand bar amidship.

The crew sprang to action.  Men poured into the hold.  They worked the pumps and desperately tried to seal the wall where the water leaked in.  Men lowered the gate and set the horses free.  The gate made a ramp to the sand dune where the horses easily found their way to the shore.  Lincoln and Tony, having made their fairy weave clothes as waterproof as possible, slipped out with the horses.

Two boats got lowered and crews went to check the outside of the ship.  The carrack was long and wide, so not a fast ship, though it was stable in heavy seas.  The forecastle was smaller than the aft castle and they weighted down the stern of the ship to keep the bow raised a bit, but it still plodded along slowly in normal weather. When the report came back, they learned that the ship was salvageable, but it would take a week or more of hard work before they could sail back to Santo Domingo for better repairs.  Captain Esteban invited the travelers to shuttle to shore along with his hundred soldiers who would make the camp.  Of course, they found Lincoln and Tony already there, and found they corralled the horses, at least the traveler’s horses.

“Two hours since sunrise and the fog still has not lifted,” the first mate groused as he set about shouting orders to the men on shore.

“It feels more like a cloud has come to ground,” Katie said, and the captain wondered what she might be implying.  He got his answer after another hour.

Even as the soldiers got cooking fires burning to burn a late breakfast, the fog literally lifted.  It did not burn away in the morning sun, but like a cloud, it rose into the sky, like returning to the heavens from whence it came.  In that sudden clarity of vision, they all saw and gasped at the angle at which the carrack had run aground.  It was much closer to the shore than Captain Esteban imagined and turned about forty-five degrees, so its starboard side pointed out to sea.

Men shouted at the same time.  A second ship appeared in the harbor, and the captain barely got to say, “The Dutchman,” before a broadside from that ship tore down the whole length of the carrack, effectively destroying any guns that might have returned fire.  A second broadside came almost immediately and caused whatever remained of that side of the ship to collapse. All three masts got taken down and the ship began to list toward the openings in its side.  Much more water poured in from the starboard side than leaked in around the cracked and loosened planks on the port side.  The ship would still probably not sink, being grounded on the sand bar, but that did not prevent whatever sailors could from jumping overboard and abandoning ship.  The two longboats would row out later and see if there were any survivors.

The Dutch-built ship anchored in safe water.  Evidently, the Dutch captain knew that harbor and where it was safe to sail near to shore.  Besides, his ship did not draw nearly the water of the carrack.  He could easily slide over a sandy bottom, get close enough to take on cargo and back off the sand to reach deep water.

“The Dutchman?” Katie asked.

The captain pointed at the newly arrived ship.  “The Golden Hawk.  Dunkirker design out of Hoorn.  First of the ocean-going flyboats—shallow draft ships.  Well-armed but originally designed to ply the shallow waters around Zeeland and the Flemish coast.”  Captain Esteban clicked his tongue.  “It won’t be long before every navy starts building such ships.  By comparison, our carrack, and especially the great galleons of Spain are slow lumbering beasts.  These Dunkirkers are faster and more maneuverable.  They can swing around, fire a broadside, and sail out of range before the carrack can return fire.  Even if the Carrack is prepared, the slim, low-decked, narrow design and speed make these ships hard to hit, even by the best artillerymen.”

“Frigate,” Decker named the type of ship.

“The Flying Dutchman?” Nanette asked.

Captain Esteban laughed.  “I suppose he is.  The Dutch have not yet come here to the islands.  They are too busy fighting against Spain, their rightful rulers.  Captain Hawk has papers from the English Queen Elizabeth who died a couple of years ago. He claims to be a legitimate privateer, not a pirate, but in truth, he came on behalf of the Dutch to interrupt the flow of gold and silver to the Spanish coffers.  In this way, the Dutch hoped to make the prosecution of the war against the Netherlands too difficult and expensive for Spain to continue.  He has had some success.”  Captain Esteban shrugged.  “But he is Dutch.  There is a big price on his head, and he has no safe port where he can rest.  The French, and even the English interlopers in the islands do not welcome him for fear of Spanish reprisals.”  He shrugged again.

“A Dutchman in a fast, powerful ship that is unable to make port,” Nanette mused.

“Yes,” Katie agreed.  “I imagine many Spanish sailors hate to see his sails on the horizon as those sails bring death and destruction.”

“I suppose so,” Captain Esteban said and looked at the travelers as they watched the Golden Hawk let down four longboats and began to fill them with Dutch soldiers.  The Golden Hawk raised a white flag of truce.  At least they would talk before the shooting started.  “Be prepared to move inland,” the captain told Lockhart and Decker.  Meanwhile, the captain needed to check on his men.  They now had four longboats from the carrack, and they were full of wounded men.

Avalon 9.4 Broadside, part 3 of 6

Captain Emilio Esteban proved to be a gregarious sort of man.  He had the travelers dine with him that night, offered plenty of wine, and kept the topics of conversation to pleasantries. The second night proved different.  When the travelers entered the captain’s cabin, they were met by soldiers who stripped them of their weapons and equipment.  Only Elder Stow managed to hang on to his things.  His personal screens went up and the soldiers could neither touch him nor his equipment.

“Hand over everything or we will have to hurt the others.”  The head soldier grabbed Sukki by the arm.  “This is your adopted daughter, is she not?”

“Try not to hurt him,” Elder Stow told Sukki.  She nodded before she removed the hand from her arm, grabbed the man by the shirt, and threw him down the hall to where he crashed into the stairs.  “My equipment stays on my person for now,” Elder Stow announced.  “You soldiers will just break it or push the wrong button and sink this ship by accident.”

“Fair enough,” Captain Esteban said.  He invited the travelers to his table set for twelve, where the first mate, second mate, and navigator were already waiting.  “We are entering Guanabo bay and passing the island of the same name.  I considered dropping you there.  The island is mostly barren, but the Taino people that have taken refuge there would probably help you escape so there would be no long-term benefit.”  The officers stood until the captain got seated.  “I decided you would serve better as hostages.  Of course, depending on who we run into, I might even be persuaded to temporarily return your weapons.  Let us hope the buccaneers leave us alone.”

Everyone sat with questions in their minds.  Katie was the first to frame those questions into words.  “What are you afraid of?” she asked.  “What are we headed into that a servant of the Masters might return our weapons to us?”

The ship’s stewards brought in plates of food for everyone.  The chief steward opened the wine and began to pour.  Captain Esteban sipped his to taste the wine before he spoke.  “It is not fear,” he said.  “The Masters are masters of fear, doubt, and pain.  Resistance is futile, to use the old expression.”  He looked at his plate of food but downed his glass of wine.  The chief steward filled it again while he thought.  Then he began.

“You know the north coast is full of buccaneers—French settlers who hunt and cut the trees.  They trade in leather and lumber and grow subsistence crops to make their daily bread.  But now, they are beginning to leak down into the western lands, looking for places where they can build plantations to grow tobacco, sugar cane, cotton, and other cash crops.  They are beginning to import slaves.  And as if that is not bad enough, they have given ports for French and English, privateers—men with papers from various monarchs and governments.  Some of them have begun to explore the island of Tortuga as a possible redoubt against us, should we raise the men and ships to drive them off.  For the present, though, the north is controlled by buccaneers and pirates.  It is not safe for plain farmers and families.”

“You said the south was full of cannibals,” Decker interjected.

“Natives,” the captain nodded.  “Many Taino have found refuge on the island of Guanabo, as they call it. But most remain in the south of Hispaniola, the southwest, away from the forts around Santo Domingo.  They have begun to protect their territory.  They are not slow to kill any Spanish they find in their land.  But they are not many or strong at this point, and they have been unable to fight off the Carib who have invaded the south coast.  The Carib do sometimes eat people.”

“Why don’t the Spanish fortify the center, here in the west?” Lincoln asked.  “I would think once the center is secure, turning to the north and south might be manageable.  You might even negotiate a peace with the natives and the French.”

Captain Esteban grinned.  Most of the others gave Lincoln hard looks, like he did not need to be helping the Masters.  “That was the plan,” the captain said.  “That, and fortifying Santiago against the English so we do not leave a strong enemy at our backs as we colonize the southern states of what will never be the United States.  Unfortunately, something has landed in the center.  Do you know what I mean, landed?”

“How do you know?” Lockhart asked, as Elder Stow began to fiddle with his scanner to see what he might pick up, long range.

“There are reports of whole villages, French and native, destroyed, not abandoned.  The people that have been found are said to have been drained of blood, and many eaten.  Both the pirates and the Carib are afraid to go there, and the governor of Santo Domingo is drawing up an order to insist the people move closer to the city and forts in the eastern part of the island.  It is for their own protection.”

“Depending on who we are talking about, I don’t see that anything in this age will protect the people,” Decker said, and looked at Nanette and Sukki, both of whom looked frightened, or at least uncertain.

“Yes,” the captain said with a sigh.  “Depending on what we find, I may have to return your weapons temporarily.  I know your weapons have been taken from you more than once in your journey, but I do not have time to train my men in their use and you have all the experience in both their use and in dealing with alien creatures.”

“Maybe the Flesh Eaters,” Tony suggested.  “I might say Wolv, but I am not aware of them draining the blood.”

“Maybe the New Exterminators Lady Catherine mentioned,” Nanette said.  “She did not give many details, so we don’t know what they are, exactly.”

“I hope they are not the arachnids… Panknos… the spiders,” Sukki said and shivered to think of it.

“We all hope they are not the spiders,” Katie agreed, and turned to Lincoln who had dug out the database.  He read for a second before he reported.

“Spiders,” he said.

“Let me see that.”  Captain Esteban reached out to Lincoln.  Lincoln hesitated, but two of the guards in the room stepped in his direction, so he handed it over.  The captain stared at the screen, tried touching the three buttons, and let the first mate have a look.  The man merely shrugged, so the captain handed the database back to Lincoln who adjusted the buttons to get back on the correct page.

“It is as I suspected,” the captain said with another big sigh.  “All we can see is fuzz and wavey lines.”

“The hedge of the gods,” Katie said.  “It prevents ears from hearing, or in this case, eyes from reading about the future.”

“Yes.”  The captain seemed to understand.  “But I have no such hedge.  There is nothing to prevent me from speaking about the future.  Sadly, hardly anyone understands what I am talking about.  When I mentioned the film Gone with the Wind, only Don Fernando smiled and said, “But now, there will be no Civil War, and the film will be in Spanish since we will hold on to California as well as Texas.”  Captain Esteban shrugged like it was a done deal.

“The Kairos might have something to say about that,” Elder Stow interjected.

“Ah, yes.  The other reason you are my prisoners.  You will lead me to the Kairos, and I will get to kill many birds with one stone, as the saying goes.”

Katie frowned.  “Assuming you don’t get eaten by whatever landed on Hispaniola.”

“Of course,” Captain Esteban said, and smiled.  “More wine?”



The ship comes to land not far from where the aliens have landed, most likely the giant alien spiders. Until Monday, Happy Reading.


Avalon 9.4 Broadside, part 2 of 6

Captain Emilio Esteban did not appear concerned about the travelers being fugitives.  As long as he got paid, he did not seem to be concerned about anything.  His ship El Diablo, a Spanish carrack of twenty-six guns, carried a crew of nearly four hundred sailors and mercenary soldiers with a dozen horses of their own.  They had enough food and feed to sail a month before they had to head for a port to resupply.  A quick trip from Santo Domingo to what would one day be Port-au-Prince would be easy money.  The captain said he was headed for Havana and dropping eight people on the west side of Hispaniola hardly amounted to a detour.

“Convenient to find a ship already stocked and ready to sail,” Decker mused and watched the morning crew scurry about the deck.

“Sometimes things work out,” Nanette responded.  “Santo Domingo is a main Spanish port here in the Caribbean.  It probably gets lots of traffic.”

Decker was not convinced.  Katie and Tony both had questions as well.  Katie talked to Lockhart about it.

“These are the days right before the English and French begin to build settlements on Tortuga.  The French have already settled the northern coast of Hispaniola and are moving into what will one day become Haiti.  The Spanish drive out the settlers three or four times between 1630 and 1650, but they keep coming back.  The French especially build plantations on Haiti and import more African slaves than they can handle.  The slaves eventually revolt, and well, that is all in the future.  Right now, it is about 1605.”

Lockhart asked.  “So, what is the difference between a pirate and a privateer?”

“The Spanish call them Buccaneers—the French on the north coast,” Katie answered, and looked at the captain and his officers on the deck above.  “A privateer is an independent contractor, usually having papers and supplies from a monarch, like the English, French, or Dutch parliament.  They are tasked with harassing Spanish shipping and taking the gold and silver, or cash crops like sugar cane or tobacco.  Some goes to the monarch.  The privateer gets to keep some.  It depends on the contract, which is carefully not spelled out.  They often sail under the country flag, and if they get caught, they are sometimes treated like enemy combatants, like prisoners of war, and held for ransom or exchange.  Of course, the country can always deny and say the captain was acting on his own and that was not according to the contract.  Then they are treated like pirates and usually get hung.  Pirates are completely independent ships that don’t work for anyone but themselves.”

“So, what is the difference?”

“On a practical level, not much.”

“So, do you think Captain Esteban is a pirate or privateer?”

Katie shook her head, but on further thought, she nodded. “Like a Spanish privateer paid to go after pirates, maybe.  Like an anti-pirate or pirate hunter, like a bounty hunter, maybe.”

Tony talked with Lincoln, Sukki, and Elder Stow.  They sat on some boxes along the starboard rail and tried to keep out of the way.  “Captain Esteban seems pretty anxious to take us where we need to go.  My guess is if the governor in Santo Domingo thinks we are pirates or connected to the pirates, Captain Esteban hopes we will lead him to the pirates.”

“The western coast of Hispaniola is mostly populated with Frenchmen,” Lincoln reported, holding up the database.  “Buccaneers, hunters and trapper mostly, and some lumber men.  Not much in the way of settlements yet.  There are some small villages, though mostly on the north coast.”

“You got the horses loaded and we got out of jail fairly easily,” Tony said.

“We were invisible,” Elder Stow said as if that explained it all.  He shifted Lincoln’s moneybag which he held in his lap.  He had a personal screen, turned on at the moment, which protected his belt full of devices.  While it could not be expanded to cover other people, like his officer’s device, he could expand it enough to cover the moneybag.  No pirate could steal their money, or even touch the bag.  “Invisible,” Elder Stow repeated.

“But no alarm got sounded when the horses vanished,” Tony countered that thought.

“It did take us a couple of hours to load the horses,” Sukki agreed.  “I was worried that whole time about what they might be doing to you.”

“We were fine,” Tony said.  “They ignored us.  But then we vanished and walked all the way across town, and no one sounded the alarm. We were not ignored that much.”

“I see what you mean,” Elder Stow admitted.  “It does appear as if they let us go.”

Up above, Decker asked and was granted permission to step on the quarterdeck.  Nanette followed and let Decker make his suggestion.

“Now that we are away from the city, you can drop us anywhere along the southern coast here.  We can go back to minding our own business, and you can get on to Cuba.  Just a thought.”

Captain Esteban smiled as he spoke.  “Clearly, you are new to this island.  I would guess the ship that brought you from Europe dumped you on the east coast before heading down into the Lesser Antilles.  You came into town like you did not expect to be noticed, two Africans riding on horses.  The others may claim to be German and Swedish, with one Italian, though he is not a priest.”  The captain shrugged.  “Such are not wanted here, either.”

“All the more reason to leave you to your business,” Decker suggested.

The captain shook his head.  “You see the coast.  It is very rough country for horses.  You would struggle to get over the hills.  Also, most of the native population has been wiped out, mostly by diseases and such, but the survivors have banded together along this shore.  They hate Europeans.  They will kill you on sight.  Then also, many Caribs have come up from the lesser islands where they have been driven out.  They will not only kill you; they will eat you.  And I haven’t even mentioned the Buccaneers.  Many French have begun to build settlements in the west, though mostly in the north to avoid the natives.  They are armed camps and hidden, and they don’t like strangers.”

“You make the whole island sound hostile,” Nanette said.

Captain Esteban looked at her and appreciated what he saw.  “The governor is planning to tell the Spanish population to move closer to Santo Domingo for their own protection.  He imagines the French and natives will wipe each other out and spare Spain the trouble.  I have argued against it.  He may lose the island, or at least the western part of it.  Still, that is a small matter.  Don Fernando Delrio in Havana has plans to colonize the whole north coast from Florida to Louisiana and up to the river they call Ohio.  The land is well suited to tobacco and other cash crops if we can import enough slaves to work the land.  I understand there is gold along Sugar Creek and the Cabarrus area in the Carolinas.  We shall see.”

“Looks like you have it all figured out,” Decker said.

“Yes.”  The captain smiled.  “And I will take you safely to your French friends.  I may even give them the west side of the island.  That way, the resources that are being wasted in Hispaniola may be diverted to the colonization project in the north.”  With that, he waved them off, and Decker was able to report what he learned to the others.

Lockhart said, “That will kill the future United States.”

Katie went a step further.  “There might not be a United States.”

The following day, the travelers acted on their suspicions, that maybe Captain Esteban was a servant of the Masters, or at least worked for them.  Lincoln spent the day trying to dig out the relevant information from the database.  Decker and Katie, both marines, spent the day watching the captain and his officers on the quarterdeck to see if anything seemed off in their behavior and conversation.  Lockhart, the former police officer, with Nanette’s help, searched as much of the ship as they were allowed, looking for clues.  They watched the crew but figured the sailors and soldiers aboard ship were pawns just there to follow orders.  Elder Stow kept his eyes on his scanner, marking their progress as they sailed along the coast of Hispaniola, and kept his eyes open for sudden energy signals that might pop up aboard ship or on the coast if the captain was leading them somewhere.  That left Tony and Sukki to watch over their horses, Ghost, and their equipment down in the hold.

Mid-afternoon, Tony came up from tending Ghost.  He had a question.  Sukki, Elder Stow, Lockhart, and Katie were all present at the moment.  He turned primarily to Katie.  “You know, my grasp of historical details ended with the fall of the Roman Empire.  I followed the east and Byzantines until they get overrun by the Turks, so I may be off base here.”

Katie smiled.  “I’ve been grasping at straws myself since Prudenza and the days of the plague.  My area is the ancient and medieval world.  I’m not studied in the modern, or pre-modern, or gunpowder age, or whatever you called it back in 1905.”

“Understood,” Tony said and returned the smile before he looked down and looked serious.

“What is your question?” Lockhart asked.

“Well…” Tony framed his thoughts.  “Several cannon balls, or what I thought were cannon balls got loose and some soldiers came to secure them.  I was tending Ghost.  I don’t think they knew I was there.  Anyway, the head man said be careful with those canisters.  There is enough gas in just one of them to kill everyone aboard the ship.  I did not know the Spanish in this age had poison gas filled canisters they could fire from their cannons.”

“They don’t,” Katie said.

“What kind of gas?” Sukki wondered out loud and turned to Elder Stow.  They all looked at the Gott-Druk.  He appeared to know something.

“Mustard gas,” he said without hesitation.  “I picked up the chemical signatures when I scanned the entire ship this morning.  I did not say anything because the chemicals might be used for other things.  I did not know.  But gas canisters makes sense of the data.”

“Mustard gas,” Katie repeated.  “That is strictly nineteenth century and did not get used until the first World War, as far as I know.  Sorry Tony.”  Tony waved off her concern while Lockhart summed things up.

“If the captain is not a servant of the Masters, he is certainly working for them.  We need to lay low until we reach our destination.  Meanwhile, maybe we can work on ways to make the compound inert.  I hope we don’t have to throw it all overboard.”

Avalon 9.4 Broadside, part 1 of 6

After 1562 A.D. The Caribbean

Kairos lifetime 115: Peter van Dyke: Captain Hawk

Recording …

Elder Stow saw that the horses were cared for, including his own horse, Mudd.  He hated to disturb them, but they had no choice.  Only he and Sukki escaped, invisible.  They would have to break the others out of jail as soon as they got the horses loaded.

He looked at his adopted daughter, Sukki.  She tied the horses to the line in order to bring them all at once to the ship.  Lockhart’s big horse, and Katie’s led the string, followed by Lincoln’s horse and Sukki’s horse, Cocoa, before Mudd.  Elder Stow paused to grin.  The Kairos, Hans, broke into his precious stores of cocoa come all the way from the New World.  He made hot chocolate for everyone.  Sukki, who never tasted chocolate before, said it was better than she even imagined.  Elder Stow found it watery and bitter.  It would take some serious experimentation before the chocolate got really good.

“Father?” Sukki got his attention.  He waved her off and went to sit on a bale of hay.

“Keep working.  I’m fine.”  He watched her tie the last of the horses.  Decker’s big horse followed Mudd, then Nanette’s horse and Tony’s horse.  Ghost, the mule came last, but over the last several time zones, the mule had gotten used to following Tony’s horse.  Elder Stow marveled at how helpful and faithful these animals were.  Their journey through time would have been nearly impossible without them.  He sighed.  He had to admit these Homo Sapiens were no longer the primitive, ignorant apes his people still called them.  They were clever in their way.

Elder Stow thought about the Gott-Druk planet, his home.  It was a good world, but still too many of his people could not see that.  All they saw was Earth, and they counted Earth as their real home.  Over more than fourteen thousand years, various groups attempted to retake the Earth and remove or enslave the homo sapiens that now covered the world.  Sukki, herself, was the sole survivor of the very first expedition.  It had no chance for success. The people on that Agdaline ship were still cave men in their level of technological progress.  Sukki was raised a cave woman, as Lincoln called her at first.  She had come a long way.  She learned a lot over their travels.  But then she wanted to fit in better with her fellow travelers.  The gods remade her into a Homo Sapiens as one of their last acts before the dissolution of the gods.  Sukki remained his adopted daughter, but her being human and no longer Neanderthal brought questions to his mind.

‘Sukki,” he called.  Sukki paused after tying Tony’s horse to the line and turned her face to him to show she was listening.  Ghost waited patiently for his turn.  “Sukki,” he repeated.  “We are only about a half-dozen time zones away from home.  I have been wondering if you will be going with me to the Gott-Druk world, or if you will be staying with the humans.”

Sukki looked pained.  “I don’t know,” she said, not willing to give a straight answer.  “I am not sure I would fit in the home world.  Even with the gift of Athena I don’t understand half of the technology you carry around apart from theory—things that you call mere toys.  I’m learning all of this human history and human culture.  I’m having a hard enough time trying to understand what the twenty-first century will be like.  I don’t know.”

Elder Stow nodded and waved her off.  “Something to think about,” he said.  She would not say it, but she was becoming more human than Neanderthal.  Adopting her all those time zones ago was a very Gott-Druk thing to do.  He had no doubt it kept her alive and mentally stable, having a family connection with the group.  His Gott-Druk people framed everything in terms of family.  But now, she had a mother and father in Katie and Lockhart.  He, himself, often referred to them as the mother and father of the time traveling family.  She no longer needed him to be her father figure.

“Ready,” Sukki said, and Elder Stow got busy.  He was supposed to be tuning discs to the invisible spectrum.  He only had six done.  He needed three more.

“Almost,” he said.  He got to work while she checked the door to the stables to be sure no people were coming to disturb them.

Elder Stow thought about how much further they needed to go to get back to the twentieth century.  Only a few time zones.  He certainly had more than enough experience.  He could abandon the human travelers to their fate and should easily make it back to his time and his people.  He still had his scanner tuned to the peculiar time distortion of the time gates.  He could find them easily enough and maybe get back to his proper time faster on his own.  Maybe these hated Homo Sapiens who stole the Earth, the planet of his Gott-Druk origin, deserved to be imprisoned… But no.  The travelers had become like family for him, too.  He would never abandon them.

“Ready,” he said, and he attached a disc to the mule and each of the horses in turn until they all went invisible.  “Take the lead,” he told Sukki, and they all walked invisible out of the stables and through the early morning streets to the ship.  The sun would be up soon enough, and so would the tide they would need to take them out of the bay.  Once loaded, Elder Stow could retrieve his discs and fetch the others from their jail cell.  He imagined that being invisible might prevent their escape being noticed until after they were well away aboard the ship.

Loading the horses was not hard.  He collected the discs, so the horse became visible again and then the crew helped.  Threatening the captain so he did not sail off with free horses did not take long.  Soon, Elder Stow and Sukki hurried across town to set the prisoners free.  Elder Stow would not abandon the others, no matter how tempting it might be to just get home.

They had indeed become like his family.  Elder Stow had to admit it, and they were correct to some extent.  They were all humans—genus homo—Homo Sapiens and Homo Neanderthalensis.  They were not that different, though on a personal level, Elder Stow wondered if all this time in close contact humanized him.  Having gone through so much of human history, he now understood that the Homo Sapiens belonged on the earth.  He had also come to realize his Gott-Druk home world was actually a very good world.  When he got home, he would talk against the extremists that wanted to retake Earth for a home.  He did not imagine he would become a member of the other side—a friend of the humans.  He expected he would settle down with the vast majority of Gott-Druk for whom it was no longer an issue.


Lockhart, the former policeman, sat in his jail cell trying to figure out how he could pick the skeleton lock in the door.  He needed something big enough and metal-like strong. He looked at Decker, but Decker shook his head.

“I am combat trained.  I know a few tricks, but I am not James Bond,” he said.

In the cell next door, Lincoln pulled out the database and sat quietly to read.  Tony paced with his eyes on their jailer.  The fat Spaniard sat at his desk and looked ready for a nap.  Tony said one thing.  “Are you at least going to feed us?”  The jailer shrugged.

In the third cell, Katie and Nanette waited patiently and talked quietly.

“I am not going to be sold as a slave,” Nanette said with a slight growl.  “My grandmother was emancipated by Mister Lincoln, and I am not going back there.”

“Not going to happen,” Katie agreed.  “We will probably be hung as pirates long before that thought occurs to them.  Besides, Elder Stow and Sukki are out there.  After they secure the horses, they will come for us.”

The women looked at each other, and Nanette said the thing they both felt concerned about.  “Elder Stow checked with Lincoln.  He knows after this zone, there are only five more between here and home.  He can still track the time gates on his equipment.  I think he may abandon us.”

“No,” Katie said.  “We are family, such as we are.  Family is most important to the Gott-Druk.  He will come for us.  Sukki will make sure of that.”

“He is a different species,” Nanette said.  “No telling what he thinks, or how he thinks.  He might not see it as abandoning us so much as returning to his real family.”

Katie shook her head.  “It seemed that way at first, and I felt that way for a long time after, but he has proved himself.  Besides, I have been convinced that he is essentially human.  There are serious cultural differences and maybe some instinctive differences, but he is mostly human.  I trust him, and more importantly, the Kairos trusts him.  If I have learned one thing on this journey, it is to trust the Kairos.”

“Very well said.”  Katie and Nanette were startled to hear Elder Stow’s voice, though of course they could not see him.  The door to the hall was open, so they figured he came in while they were talking.  No telling how much he heard.

“Rodrigo?” the man at the desk looked toward the door and wondered who was talking.  The man started to rise before he fell back into the chair and wiggled like a man being electrocuted.  He appeared to go unconscious, and they all heard Sukki.

“He isn’t dead.  Please don’t be dead.”

“Stand away from the door,” Elder Stow said.  They did, and one at a time, he melted all three locks.  The doors swung open.  “Here.”  he handed each of the travelers a disc still tuned to the invisible spectrum.  As soon as they went invisible, they saw Elder Stow and Sukki.  She tied the jailer to the chair and gagged him.  The jailer moaned a little as everyone retrieved their guns and knives from the table.  Then they hurried across town to the docks and managed to slip out into the bay, going out with the tide.

R6 Festuscato: 4 Clugh, part 1 of 3

The sun came up over the sea to reveal a sail angling to cut them off.  Festuscato squinted, but Captain Breok recognized the ship right away.  “Our Pictish friends,” he said, and sighed, and set about getting the sail down and running his crew through their litany of please don’t kill me.

Patrick came up with a word.  “I noticed last time you asked Mousden for the small bag. I would guess Captain Keravear decided there must also be a big bag somewhere.”

“They were probably waiting just out from the docks at the Inver-dea.  Probably saw us pull into port and thought to try their luck on our way back out to sea,” Treeve suggested.

“But they had no way of knowing we would be on board again,” Gaius countered.

“True,” Treeve responded.  “But it was worth a shot, and if you were not on board, there would probably be a cargo worth something; and Captain Breok has his crew so well trained to cower and not resist.”

“They probably also decided that your water sprites did not really pose a danger,” Patrick added.  “I mean, what can a blob of water really do to hurt them?”

“Give them a bath, I bet,” Gaius said, as Bran and Dibs walked up.

“What’s the plan?” Dibs asked, not that he expected an answer.

“Doctor Who,” Festuscato said.  “I make it up as I go along.”

It took an hour for the Pictish ship to come along side and tie up.  It looked the same as last time, with Captain Breok and his crew in the bow showing the epitome of respect and abject cooperation, and Festuscato and his people in the stern, lined up like a group awaiting a family photo.

“We talked about it,” Captain Keravear started right in.  “Seeing all those water waves up on the deck was a bit of a shock, I admit, like seeing your pointy-eared woman and that demon, but then we talked about it. Maybe you are the Dragon and maybe you are not, but we figure there are only three of you and lots more of us. So the way we figured it, you should give us the rest of whatever gold and coins you have and we will be on our way.”

“Captain,” Festuscato’s words were sharp.  “You have already been paid for your trouble and I am not in the habit of paying for the same service twice.  There may only be three of us that you can see.  I won’t say how many more may be waiting in the cabins and below deck.  You know I have at least one elf who is quite capable of going unseen among humans. You also know the elf answers to me. Do you really want to know how many more may be on board?”

The Captain paused.  Apparently, these were things he had not considered.  There could easily be others in the cabins and below deck hidden and waiting to come when called.  At least one of the Picts took the thought of invisible elves seriously. He jumped when the wind picked up and shifted his hair around.

Then the wave came, and like the last time, everyone had to splay their hands and feet to keep from falling down.  This time, the deck not only got covered with water sprites, but they came with a person.  He looked tall, lean, and naked but for the seaweed that clung to him. His gray skin appeared the color of cold steel, and his eyes glowed like the furnace.  Pict and Cornish sailors alike shrieked and turned away.  Some fell to their knees, covered their eyes and trembled.  The Pictish Captain dropped his jaw and bugged out his eyes but otherwise appeared frozen in place.

Festuscato’s crew remained more composed, though Mirowen and Mousden dropped their eyes as a sign of respect.  Patrick showed no surprise when this sea-monster of a man came right up to Festuscato and dropped to one knee.  He was slightly surprised by the one word the monster said.


“How did you figure it out?” Festuscato asked.

“Really?” the man-monster responded.  “You have been broadcasting who you are from Rome to Britannia, and really since you took a governess.”

“Mannanon,” Captain Keravear exhaled the name of his supposed protector while Festuscato tapped his foot.  With a glance at Patrick, Festuscato went away and let Danna, the mother goddess of the Celts come and stand in his place.  She stepped up and bent down to kiss the man-monster on the head while she spoke and helped him to his feet.

“You bad boy.  When are you going over to the other side?  You are late, you know.”

“Soon,” Mannanon said with a grin, and an appearance that suddenly did not look so monster-like.

“Well, this is your lucky day.  This is Captain Keravear.  I believe you have met, and I have already paid him for his trouble and I will not be paying him twice.  Will you please take him and his crew and their ship back to the Caledonian shores where they will be too far away to cause us any more trouble.  I have these holy men to deliver to the Irish.”

“Yes,” Mannanon said, with a glance at the Priests. “The new way.”

“And it is a good way, and why you should not be here,” Danna insisted, as she turned Mannanon away from the clerics and toward the Picts.  “Now, please take out the garbage, only don’t hurt them.”

Danna appeared very tall for a woman, but Mannanon stood a good bit taller, like a basketball player, but with the slim build of an Olympic swimmer.  He leaned over and kissed Danna on the cheek.  “Kind heart,” he said, and smiled a sort of Bran smile, and vanished along with Captain Keravear and his whole crew and ship.  Danna traded places with Festuscato right away so he could deal with the questions.

Captain Breok wasted no time.  “Get the sail back up.  Colan, get aloft to see if there are any more sails on the horizon.  Treeve, go get Gerens out of the hold.  Tell him it is all over so it is safe to come back out.”

Festuscato stepped up to his spot on the railing where he could keep out of the way.  Mirowen took Mousden to the cabin.  Bran and Dibs helped lower the rudder.  Only Patrick and Gaius came up with a question or two.

“Who was that?” Gaius asked.

“An old Celtic sea god, and a bad boy who does not belong here,” Festuscato answered.

“The new way has come,” Patrick understood.

“And the old way needs to be gone,” Festuscato agreed.

“And the other side?” Patrick asked.

“Death,” Festuscato answered.  “As near to death as a god can get.  He needs to give up his flesh and blood and become the pure spirit he is, the true force of nature he is without eyes and ears or any senses in this world.”

“And who was that woman?” Gaius asked.

“The mother goddess of all the Celts, and another one who does not belong here,” Festuscato said and sighed.  “I lived her life eons ago.  Before Christ, nature bore witness to the truth, but now the old ways need to be gone.”

They stood in silence for a time before Patrick asked one more question.  “Were you there?”

Festuscato nodded as if he anticipated the question. “When he was born and when he was crucified, but those stories have not been told.  Someday.”  Festuscato quieted, and Patrick looked again at the sea.

“I will pray for you,” Patrick said.

“Good,” Festuscato responded.  “I need all the prayer I can get.”


Captain Breok took them to a port that straddled the land between Leinster and Ulster.  The Lord there, a man named MacNeill, had no love for the King of Leinster, and at the same time, he had not been in a place to be pestered by Palladius so the gospel might receive a fresh start.  Patrick got excited and said surely this is the place, but when they docked, they found a reception committee.  MacNeill had his two roughs with him, Murtagh and Cormac, and behind him were three clerics, the survivors of the work of Palladius, Teigh, Aon, and Seamus.

“Come,” MacNeill said with a big grin.  “I have set the barn for you to hold services after your fashion.  Fathers Teigh and Aon and their wives have made the bread and gathered the wine and the women and children are gathering there.”

Patrick did not know what to say.  He hardly knew where to begin with married priests and church in a stable.  Mirowen nudged him.  “I asked my Uncle Macreedy to let them know we were coming,” she said.

“Is everyone in your family named Macreedy?” Festuscato pulled Mirowen aside and asked, though he would know the answer if he thought about it.

“The males, mostly,” she responded quietly, as Patrick finally spoke.

“Thank you.”

Gaius turned to Festuscato.  “The Bishop will take it from here,” he said to suggest Festuscato back up.

“It is all yours.”  Festuscato smiled, hoped things would work out this time, and he took Dibs and Bran to speak a moment to Captain Breok.  Eventually, they would need passage back to Britannia, but for now they headed to the nearest tavern, and Treeve and Colan followed.  MacNeill and his roughs also followed them, but from a distance, so Festuscato thought to stop and let them catch up.

R6 Festuscato: 3 Leinster, part 2 of 3

Everyone ran to the railing to look.  “Picts,” the Captain described their visitors.  “And their ship is much faster than ours and more heavily armed.”

“What will they do?” Gaius asked what jumped into everyone’s minds.

“Probably get mad that we don’t have any cargo to steal. The Picts generally just steal the cargo and let the ship go.  The Irish would steal the cargo and take any young ones for slaves.  the Saxons would steal the cargo and kill everybody, and then sink the ship.  I suppose the Picts aren’t so bad when you think about it.”

“No telling what they will do when they don’t find any cargo,” Treeve repeated the first thought as the captain got the crew to take down the sail and practice begging for their lives.  Festuscato dressed his people up at the stern, in front of the rudder, like they were preparing for a family photo.  By the time they were ready and quiet, the Picts were alongside and coming on board.

Captain Breok profusely apologized for the lack of a worthwhile cargo but suggested they were carrying some rich passengers whom the Picts were welcome to rob.  He did not exactly betray them, just accommodating to the circumstances. The Pictish captain stepped up to look Festuscato in the eye.  The Pict wore a leather jerkin studded with bronze circles that looked like rivets. He had a long sword at his side and no doubt had various other sharp things hidden around his person.

“And you are?”  Festuscato spoke first, his voice calm and clear.

“Captain Keravear,” the man said.  “And you?”  He grinned.

Festuscato reached out and shook the man’s hand before the man could react.  “Festuscato Cassius Agitus, an ordinary mortal human who will grow old and die like any other human.”  Captain Keravear grinned again, but did not know how to take that.  He glanced back at the half dozen men who were one step behind him, and the men with their knives drawn who were holding Captain Breok’s crew.

The Captain put on his mean face and spouted. “Whether you grow old or not remains to be seen.”

Festuscato looked down at himself and looked embarrassed. “Oh, but I see I haven’t properly dressed.”  He called out for his armor, and it fit him perfectly, Wyrd his sword and Defender his long knife fitted to his back, and overall, he wore the tunic that sported the dragon.  “Some have called me the dragon, but I really hope Constantine will own that name.” Several of Captain Keravear’s men took a step back on seeing the change, and the rest stepped back because they heard stories of the Dragon of Britain.  “Now, if you don’t mind,” Festuscato borrowed Gerraint’s thought. “I have pledged to take these holy men safely to the Irish shore and I don’t appreciate the interruption.”

Captain Keravear smiled again in an attempt to regain the upper hand. “Then give me all your money and your gold and we will let you go on your way.  Oh, but I think I will take your woman as well.”

“Not even if Hell froze over,” Festuscato responded and lifted his arm.  The glamour that covered Mirowen fell away and her true elf form looked unmistakable, complete with her cute pointed ears.  Mousden also reverted to his pixie form just in time for Mirowen to put him in Gaius’ arms.  She pulled a bow and arrows from her usual nowhere.  Dibs and Bran meanwhile slipped into their own dragon tunics and drew their swords.  This time Captain Keravear took one step back.  He had to think if it would be worth it.  He had no doubt at least some of his men would die, and given the reputation of the dragon, he was not sure if all of his men might die.

“Gentlemen,” Patrick stepped up and waved his hands like a referee calling for a time out.  “Surely this can be settled without the need for bloodshed.”

“That remains to be seen,” Festuscato turned his head and Captain Keravear pulled a small knife.  Before he got it all the way out from his Jerkin, Festuscato had Defender at his throat, and without missing a beat.  “We will see if Captain Keravear has a brain or not.”  He turned to the Captain and spoke again.  “This ship is under God’s almighty hand.  You need to leave before you get yourself in eternal trouble.”

“Which god are your speaking of?” Captain Keravear said and took another step back to get away from the blade at his throat. “I met Mannanon the sea god, one dark and stormy night by his isle of Man.  He guided us to a safe harbor until the storm passed, and I like to think of him as our protector.”

Festuscato kept a straight face when he spoke.  “It was a dark and stormy night.  He is a good son who does good for people now and then. But I was speaking of Mannanon’s God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

“Don’t start stealing Patrick’s lines,” Gaius whispered from behind.

“We aren’t in Ireland yet,” Festuscato responded with more volume.

Patrick would have stepped between the two men, but Festuscato held his arm out and would not let him.  Still, he spoke.  “What would it take to satisfy things so you leave us in peace?”

“All your money and gold.  I’ll forego the woman.”

“Kind of you,” Festuscato shook his head as a great wave struck the ship and everyone had to spread their arms and legs to keep from falling over.  The wave splashed up on both sides of the ship and formed into several hundred little blobs of gelatin looking creatures with heads, arms and legs, about a foot tall each, with mean looks on their faces, if cute little gingerbread men-like blobs could be said to have mean faces.

“Lord Steran,” Festuscato called.  He knew who it was, the king of the water sprites of the Irish sea.  “Please refrain from drowning these people.  We are trying to work out an equitable arrangement.”

“Lord.”  The water sprite offered Festuscato a regal bow and spoke in the cutest baby voice while Mousden clapped his hands and let out an excited shout.

“Water babies.”

“Mousden,” Festuscato called.  “Bring the little bag.”

“Lord?”  Mousden used the term Mirowen used and now Steran confirmed, though he knew well enough that it was the right term.  He brought the bag and hovered while Festuscato counted out fifteen pieces of gold. “Fifteen pieces!”  Mousden felt more concerned with missing the gold than he felt with the pirates.  He screamed once in the face of the pirates, but the loss of the coins made him want to howl.

“Fifteen pieces of gold for your trouble,” Festuscato said.  “But I suggest you be on your way or I cannot guarantee your safety.”

Captain Keravear ran out of arguments and knew when his luck was done.  Most of his men had deserted his back and were already on their ship.  The Picts wasted no time casting off, and soon enough would dip below the horizon.

“Thank you Lord Steran,” Festuscato said, and could not help the smile as Steran offered a wave not unlike a salute, and he and his people jumped back over the side to blend into the sea.

“Bye.  Bye,” many of the water babies said, and more than one hardened sailor returned a wave and a sweet goodbye before they went back to work getting the sail up and the ship underway.

Festuscato turned and scolded Patrick.  “What did you think you were doing?  You need to let me do my job without interference.”

“What is your job?” he shot back.

“To deliver you in one piece.”  Festuscato swallowed much of what he wanted to say before he deflected the question about his job.  “If pirates think they have the upper hand, you are dead.  You don’t bargain with pirates.”

Mousden shrieked.  “I’ll say.  You didn’t bargain at all.  You just handed them fifteen pieces of gold.  Fifteen!”

Festuscato and Patrick looked at the young man hovering beside them.  Festuscato laughed.  “It’s only money,” he said.  Patrick just nodded and laughed.


The ship pulled into the docks at Wicklow and Captain Breok wished them all well. “Leinster is as fair a trading partner as you can find among the Irish,” he told them.  They all thanked the captain for the journey, but then Festuscato took the man and his mate, Treeve aside.  They would be picking up some lumber, mostly pine in Lyoness, and be back in two weeks to ten days, depending on the weather.

“You are not going with them?” Patrick asked, having discerned that something was happening.

“No,” Festuscato admitted.  “But I have arranged for passage, and meanwhile I promise to get out of your way.”

They found some Christians in the port and Patrick wasted no time bringing them together and sharing the gospel.  He held Mass in a grove by the river every morning and spent every afternoon teaching about the people of God and the life of Christ. He invited his few disciples, the remnants of the work of Palladius, to bring in their family and friends, but found few converts.  Most of the people resisted his message.

Festuscato, Dibs and Bran stayed the next ten days in a tavern by the port.  Gaius spent most of his time with Patrick and occasionally Bran joined him; less often Dibs. Festuscato, good to his word, stayed out of it.  He paced and drank and ate enough for three people, but he kept his mouth closed.

Mirowen and Mousden went out into the wilderness on the first day and stayed gone that whole time.  Mirowen said she went looking for family, elves related to the clan of Macreedy, though the clan originally came from further north, from Ulster. Festuscato recalled that Mirowen was in fact an elf Princess, and her father Macreedy had been a king among the elves.  Mousden said he did not want to be left alone with so many clunky humans, so they disappeared, and Festuscato would have been very bored if he did not find a couple of young women to keep him in the night.  Keela, a tall and slim Celt, inspired him to bad poetry.  Aideen was a short, buxom redhead who Festuscato called little fire.

“She squeals,” Festuscato said.  “Like when the hot iron is doused in the cool water.”

“I’ve heard,” Dibs responded and knocked on the thin wall.  “And I don’t want to hear about it.”

After ten days, Festuscato began to worry that his ship might not return.  That felt troublesome, because a dozen rough men, soldiers to look at them, came riding into town under orders from the King of Leinster, the self-styled King of all Ireland.  They said they had enough of this Christian business with Palladius.  To their credit, they first listened, and one of them remarked it was hard to believe it was the same message.  Patrick taught about the love of God, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  Palladius had put much more emphasis on hellfire and brimstone.

At that same time, Festuscato went looking for Keela. He had ruined another potential poem, so he imagined she might be out back by the cooking fire, ruining another roast.  That would have only been fair.  She was a beauty, but she could not cook any better than Greta.  He found her cauldron bubbling over the fire and her cooking utensils laid out on a table next to the fire.  He found baskets full of herbs and spices, but no Keela.  He started rubbing his chin when he heard her off in the bushes, screaming.

Charmed: Part 11 of 11, A Disney-Like Halloween Story (Without the Singing)

Chapter 11 Afterword

Elizabeth went home at ten o’clock and hugged her mom and dad, not without a few tears, and went straight to bed because she had a long, exhausting night. Jessica met Jake’s mom and dad, who decided Jake was growing up and needed some time to enjoy his last couple of years of high school. They vowed to work on their own schedules so Jake would not have to always be saddled with his little sister. Jake said he did not mind, but that made his mom just say, “See?”hween bonfire 2

Mary, the witch, cast a little spell so when the kids woke up in the morning they would remember having a wonderful time, but the details would be fuzzy. This turned out to be a good thing, because Mike the nerd spent most of the night talking to Jack-o-lantern, wondering if it was made in Japan, and curious about how it worked. He said the programming almost made it sound like it knew what it was talking about, and he marveled at how they got the words and the mouth to work together so well.

Blockhead spent the night trying to explain football to Big Tooth, who understood the game, but enjoyed stringing the kid along. Serena, on the other hand, marveled at the goblin costumes, which is what she hween dancing 1thought they were.

“Second best costumes I’ve seen in my life.”

“Second best?” Marrow was offended until Serena explained. The Italian dance troop with the naturally hairy legs dressing up as fauns was shear genius, and Marrow agreed.

Thomas “Tommy” Kincaid Junior spent the night trying to impress Sage with his money, his car and his presence, that is, whenever he caught Sage in her big form. That was most of the time because Cinnamon insisted the girls not take their fairy form in front of people. Cinnamon took it upon herself to make glamours to disguise as many of the spirits, people and creatures as she could. They did not really object because they knew they were not supposed to be parading about on Earth in the open like they were. Sage rewarded Tommy at the end of the night with a little kiss on the lips. The poor fellow took a long time to get over that.

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In all, it was a good night and people did not seriously begin to leave until just before sunrise. Cinnamon had to make the portal because Mary Procter and Greely Putterwig were fast asleep in their chairs on the porch, and snoring. Jake walked Jessica home.

hween kiss“What are you thinking?” Jessica asked when she turned into his arms for a good night kiss.

“I’m a guy. What do you think I am thinking?”

“Oh.” Jessica thought for a moment before she said, “OH. Let’s not go there yet.”

Jake shrugged. “I was wondering how the Pirates and Indians are making out.”

Jessica smiled. “See you in school.” She ran to her front door.

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In fact, the Pirates and Indians were tied in the top of the third, nothing to nothing. They had been playing baseball, one night per year for almost a hundred years, and only reached the top of the third inning. But the Pirates had a man on first, and John ‘the Butcher’ Roberts was at bat.

hween graveyardThe bat boy found a skeleton head on the ground. He jammed it into a complete skeleton and pointed. “Look, a double header,” which proved conclusively that a sense of humor is not improved by death.

The Indian pitcher palmed the skeleton head they were using for a ball. He sent in a literal screaming fastball. The Butcher backed away, and Pusshead, the home plate umpire called it a ball.

“What?” The Indian catcher protested. “It went right over the edge of the plate. You must be blind.”

“Not blind,” the skeleton head ball said. “He’s an ogre, you know, a moron.”hween pirate 2

The pirate on first could not help himself. While they argued, he tried to steal second He slid head first, but his body stopped about ten feet shy of the grave they were using for second base. His hands, however, finished the journey, and as the Indian shortstop went to tag the runner, the hands squirted under the tag. The pirate got up grinning and ambled up to catch up to his hands. The occupant of the second base grave stuck his head out of the dirt.

”Safe,” he said.hween indian tomahawk

The Indian shortstop got so angry, he took out his tomahawk and split the hween pirate 3skull of the second base umpire. This, of course, resulted in a bench clearing brawl in the infield which is why, after a hundred years, the teams had yet to make it past the third inning.



If you missed all or part of Charmed, please click on the archives and click on October 2015.  Charmed is the only posting in October, and you are welcome to read as you wish.  It is free.

Meanwhile, tomorrow I will have a treat, or a trick … for Halloween, you know, Jack-o-lanterns by the front door and all hween porch 1

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hween jack 1hween Jack 3

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Charmed: Part 5 of 11, A Disney-Like Halloween Story (Without the Singing)

Chapter 5

When Jake and Jessica got to the walkway outside the old growth forest, they were at a complete loss. They lost all footprints and indication of direction they got when they entered the leaf strewn forest. Now they saw two equal options on a rugged path lined by a six foot wall.

Cinnamon fluttered, hovered and turned her head to look one way and then the other.

Jake looked at the wall and wondered what was behind it.

Jessica was still wondering how goblins could be so scary and so hilarious at the same time. Clowns,hween wal 1 she supposed. She knew some people were afraid of clowns.

“Wait here,” Cinnamon said. “I have to check to find the right way. Oh, and don’t go over the wall.” She flew off, almost faster than their eyes could follow; certainly faster than they could frame a question.

“I was wondering, what’s with the wall. Is it there to keep people out or keep something in?” After the goblins, he could not help the spooky voice.

Jessica shook her head. “After what we have seen this night, I don’t think any teenage spooky voice will ever scare me again.”

“So what is over there?” Jake walked a little way down the path. “Hey, it looks like a gate. Cool.” He was looking through the bars of the gate.

“What?” Jessica went reluctantly. “Cinnamon said don’t go in there.”

“No, she said don’t climb over the wall.” He checked. The gate squeaked, but it was not locked. “She didn’t say we can’t go through the gate.” He grabbed Jessica’s hand and pulled her in. “Cool,” he said again.

hween wall gate“It’s a graveyard.” Jessica resisted.

“But who could be buried here? Aren’t you at all curious?”

“Not really,” Jessica said, but she followed him in about three rows. The names seemed normal enough, but Jake took her hand again and ran her up a path to the top of a small rise. From there, they looked out over a cemetery that seemed endless.

“Woah.” Jake mouthed the word. “Who are all these people.” The graves continued, easily seen under a bright, harvest moon, until it became a gray line in the distance and finally turned black on the horizon.

“I don’t like this,” Jessica said, and she tugged to go back.

“Look.” Jake noticed something three graves in. It was a cutlass, and not entirely rusted as he expected. He picked it up and turned to show Jessica when there was a rumbling at his feet.

“John the Butcher Roberts” Jessica read the headstone before she grabbed on to Jake to steady hween pirate 1herself. It felt like a miniature earthquake. Then a head popped up from the grave, a dead head, definitely a pirate, and he saw the cutlass.

“Ah, ha. So that’s where I left it. Hand it here, mate, and I’ll kill ya quick.”

Jake and Jessica ran. There were pirates rising in every direction, and the gate was cut off by zombies. They tried for the wall, but there were skeletons dancing there. They started to weave around the headstones, but the pirates were waking up.

Jessica stumbled when the ground shook again beneath her feet. Jake tried to help her up, but fell beside her. Two gravestones rose up by their heads. One said, Jacob, Jake Simon. the other said Jessica Cobb. Jessica screamed as the ground beneath them began to open into great, six-foot holes. The only reprieve they got from the pirates was when they were distracted by the oncoming Mohawk war party. Then came their salvation. A great roar echoed from the gate.

“Supper!” A slimy, ugly ogre burst into the graveyard, drooling and ready to chow down on the dead. The skeletons and zombies guarding the gate all screamed and ran for their lives. One of the pirates pointed and hollered a warning.

hween skeletons 2“Avast ye swabs. It’s Pusshead.” The pirates and indians all scattered, and Pusshead roared right past the couple in pursuit.

Jake and Jessica helped each other out of their respective graves and ran for the gate. Jake held tight to the cutlass, not knowing when he might need it. Jessica cared about nothing but getting the wall between her and the zombies. She slammed the gate with a vengeance once they were out and huffing and puffing.

“That was really stupid,” Jessica said.

“Yeah,” Jake agreed. “But I got us a weapon.” He swung it a couple of times which prompted Jessica to holler.

“Watch it.”

Jake did not argue. He loosened his belt so he could slip the blade in by his side. Jessica watched, so neither saw the figure approach.

“Excuse me. Pardon me,” the man said. Jake and Jessica looked up, gasped, and took a step back. They saw a ghost, a real ghost. They could see through the man, though he seemed solid enough fromhween a thackery 1 the waist up, if translucent. From his knickers down he became more transparent until his feet were utterly invisible. Then again, he floated a couple of feet off the ground, so he might not need the feet.

“I am sorry to bother you, but have either of you seen my wife? Abigail Barrett by name. We were traveling by coach from Boston to Brattleboro where I was invited to practice law, when we were waylaid by robbers in the wilds of New Hampshire. Bullets were fired. My wife slumped into my shoulder, and I thought there was blood on her forehead. I leapt out to give the robbers what for, but the next thing I knew, I was lost in the forest and I can’t seem to find the coach.”

Jake was too stunned to talk, but Jessica felt enchanted by the story. “My name is Jessica Cobb, and this is Jake, Jacob Simon.”

“Of course, we haven’t been properly introduced. I am Thackery James Barrett, Esquire. Harvard, class of eighteen twelve. You seem like good New England stock. Surely I am near my destination.”

“I am sorry,” Jessica said. “I know the road to Brattleboro, but I don’t know how to get there from here.”

“Alas, I spoke to a young lady just a short time past. She was most polite, but could tell me nothing at all.”

hween a thackery 2“Elizabeth?” Jake raised his voice. “My sister.”

“Yes, I believe that was her name. The fellow she was with seemed most unsavory.”

“She was kidnapped. Do you know where she is?”

The ghost spun once around. “I am afraid I cannot say. These woods have me confused. Thus I have wandered for some time today. Do you know where the road to Brattleboro might be?”

“Thackery.” Jake and Jessica turned their heads at the sound of Cinnamon’s voice, but they saw a beautiful woman instead of the fairy. She looked perhaps to be in her mid to late twenties, dressed in a long, flowing, fitted gown, and walked slowly up the path.

“Most beautiful lady. Have we met before?”

“Indeed we have,” Cinnamon said, as Jake and Jessica realized the woman had to be Cinnamon hween big cinnamondespite the appearance. “And you must go in that direction until you find the pine trees. Then you will know you are close.”

“My thanks. I pray I may return your kindness some day,” the ghost said, and headed off into the woods.

“Cinnamon?” Jessica asked, to be sure. Jake just stared. The fairy appeared inhumanly beautiful in her big form, with a perfect tan on perfect skin, eyes that sparkled with life, and full lips that showed the slightest bit of a sly smile. In an instant, the woman vanished and the fairy came back, fluttering her wings to stay aloft.

“This is the right direction,” she said. “You went into the graveyard,” she pointed and scolded Jake. “Thackery probably did run into Eliza-BETH, but he has very limited memory retention. The only thing he is able to really remember is his last thoughts, his thoughts for wanting to find his wife, Abigail. Shall we go?”

Jake and Jessica did not know what to say, until Jessica whispered. “She does flit from subject to Hween Cinnamon 2subject. I bet she doesn’t dwell on things either.”

“I don’t,” Cinnamon heard. “It’s a fairy thing.” She settled again on Jessica’s shoulder, though Jessica felt a bit wary about having a full grown woman on her shoulder. Jake said nothing, still taken by that vision of loveliness. He would need a bit more time before his tongue unfroze.


Charmed is either a very, very small book or a long story offered in eleven parts over this October, 2015, leading up to Halloween. The posts will be put up on the blog on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, October 5, 6 and 7; 12, 13, and 14; 19, 20, and 21; 26, 27, and an extra note on the 28th. If you miss a post, or want to go back to the beginning, they are easy enough to find. Just click on the archives and select October 2015. Charmed is the only posting for the month … So after the 28th, I say to you all, Happy Halloween, you know, clowns and zombies.

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