Avalon 6.1 Little Things, part 6 of 6

On horseback, the travelers moved faster than on foot and made it back to Valmiki’s ashram in a single day.  Rama seemed happy.  He said he missed his wife.

When they came in, Sita came running out to him and threw her arms around him for plenty of kisses.  The only reason she reached him first was because he had to be careful getting down off the horse.

“You don’t run to me,” Lockhart mentioned with a pouty face.

“I walk fast,” Katie said.  “You are not allowed to be that far away.” Lockhart smiled.

“Children,” Lincoln said.  Alexis also smiled, and leaned over to kiss Lincoln.

After a time, Sita pulled back, excited about something.

“Come.  Lakshme.  Bring your friends.  I have to tell you all about it,” she said

The travelers found places to tie off their horses for the moment, and the women took the seats that remained there from the other night, while the men stood around.  They met Rama’s brother, Lakshmana, and then got quiet to listen.

“The very day you left, I stood for a long time by the path to the forest, awaiting your return.  Silly, I know.  I knew you would be gone for more than a few hours.  But there, I saw the most glorious sight I have ever seen, ever. I saw a deer, all golden.  It looked made of gold, and I thought, if I could just touch it.  It looked so beautiful.  Glorious. I wanted to have it and hold it. I walked very slowly and carefully so as not to frighten it, but when I went near, it became shy and ran away.”

“Golden?  A trick of the light,” Rama said.

“It was no trick,” Sita said. “Lakshmana saw it just today.  I thought it was lost to me, but it came back, not an hour ago.  Isn’t that right?”  Sita looked at Lakshmana, and he agreed.

“Golden, like made of gold,” he said. “But alive, nibbling on the plants.”

“I thought Zeus killed all the golden hind,” Lincoln remarked, out of turn.  That set off Lakshme.

“Shut-up,” Lakshme insisted, and pointed specifically at Katie.  “You especially shut-up.  I don’t want to hear one word out of any of you.”

Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, and Libra all looked at Lakshme with surprise, but after only a second, Sita began to plead with Rama to capture her golden deer.

“I am not hearing this,” Lakshme said. “I am not here.”  She got up to walk out into the compound.

“Where are you going?” Libra asked.

“I have to take my friends to the next place in their journey.”

Lockhart, not understanding what all the fuss was about, said, “Isn’t it getting kind of late?”

“Devi,” Lakshme called, nice and loud.  “Devi, my friend.  Please, I need you.”  Lakshme saw Valmiki coming up from the houses down the path.  “Devi.”

“I am here, my friend,” Devi appeared to Lakshme, but she did not appear to any of the others.  “Why are you so distressed?”

“I have a request.  Would you take me and my friends from the future with their horses and all of their things… and, and Libra to the next time gate? Please, history is happening very fast right now, and we need to not be here, please.”

“But what is it?” Devi sounded concerned.

“Please, if you love me, my friend.” Lakshme put on her most pleading face.

“You know I love you.  I owe you everything,” Devi said, as Valmiki stopped and gave Lakshme a look.

“So, it has gotten to talking to yourself and your imaginary friend Devi in public, I see,” Valmiki said.

Lakshme poked Valmiki in the chest. “I am not here,” she enunciated, slowly, even as she vanished, and the travelers and Libra vanished with her.


The travelers ended up somewhere near the Ganges delta.  Devi materialized so all could see her and hear her.  Libra, at least, bowed her head to the goddess, but Devi looked focused on Lakshme.  Devi tried the hands-on-hips routine, and the stern voice.

“Now, what is this all about?”

Lakshme sat down and began to weep. She shook her head, and Libra came to sit and weep with her.  Devi softened.  Katie opened her mouth, but Lakshme shouted.

“Shut-up.  Shut-up.”  Devi felt the surprise the others felt earlier.  “Three days,” Lakshme said more softly.  “Find me in three days.  Libra and I should be on the road somewhere.  I will tell you in three days.”

“All right,” Devi said slowly. “Three days,” and she vanished.

“Why couldn’t we speak?” Lincoln wondered.

“Because it hasn’t happened yet,” Katie said.  She honestly understood.

“What?” Boston asked for everyone.

“Rama goes in search of the deer,” Katie said.  “It is a demon trick—an Asura trick. Lakshmana gets tricked out of his duty to protect Sita…”

“Not the sharpest yo-yo on the string,” Lakshme mumbled.

“Sita gets kidnapped,” Katie finished and turned to Lakshme.  “But it turns out all right.”

“Mostly,” Lakshme nods.  “But you don’t know how hard it is.  Most of the time I have no idea what is going to happen. Usually, the next hundred years or so are a blur, at best.  But every once in a while, something comes to me crystal clear, and you have no idea how hard it is not to say anything.  Maybe you, of all people, will understand soon enough, especially when you know something bad is going to happen, and you could prevent it with a word, but you dare not say anything.”

“I think we can all imagine,” Katie said.

“And you better not say anything,” Lakshme raised her voice.  “You can’t say anything.  Don’t you dare say anything, no matter what… No matter what.” Lakshme cried some more, and Libra dutifully cried with her.

Lockhart looked around.  The sun started getting ready to set.  “Make camp,” he said.

“The time gate is right here,” Boston interrupted.  “Hey!  I thought you couldn’t get near the time gates,” she told Lakshme.  “I thought the one where we entered and the one we exited the time zone stayed equally far apart, with you at the center.”

“Special dispensation,” Lakshme said. “Devi is a brilliant woman, and the right choice to represent all the women on the high council of the gods. The gates should readjust as Libra and I move south.  Tomorrow.”

The travelers nodded, but no one said anything as they looked around at the trees and the sky.

“Standard watch,” Lockhart continued, having already said to make camp.  “We go through in the morning.”



Avalon 6.2 Sudden Encounter.  The travelers meet the necromancer without realizing it, and find space aliens at war… oh, and face some skeletons.  Mustn’t forget the skeleton-zombies.

Until MONDAY, Happy Reading



Avalon 6.1 Little Things, part 5 of 6

Rama scooted up to the back of a hut. Lakshme and Libra followed.  Libra had her bow out and said she practiced. She said she was going to protect Lakshme to the death.

“You better not die,” Lakshme responded, gruffly.

Pokara, Salipsa and the gang followed more noisily, but they came prepared for a fight.  Someone saw them and shouted.  Men and women came pouring out of their homes and gathered in the village center.

Rama stood, figuring, what was the point? Lakshme stood and Libra pointed her arrow at the people.  What the people did surprised them all.  The people fell to their knees and faces and pleaded.  “Help us.  Help us.”

Rama needed no more enticement.  He turned toward the cave entrance and shouted. “Rakshasa.  Show yourself.  The universe rejects your existence.”

They heard rumbling in the cave. They saw a very big hand, followed by an equally big arm, and finally a head, that when the Rakshasa stood, he looked about twenty or more feet tall.  The Rakshasa laughed as it looked on them.

“Perhaps I reject your existence.”

Rama paused, not because he was afraid, but because it became Lakshme’s turn.

“Titan in the wilderness, hear me. You have chosen the path that leads to destruction.  No good end will come of your days if you continue down that path.  I am forgiveness.  I offer a path to grace and mercy.  Repent of your wickedness, turn to the path of righteousness, and live among the gods once again.”

The titan reached out and snatched Lakshme, lifting her with one great hand.  “Maybe I eat forgiveness.” he said.  Lakshme screamed as three things happened in quick succession.  Libra let her arrow fly.  A stream of light came from the forest and put a hole the size of a basketball in the titan’s chest.  And Rama leapt up to the titan’s head, and with one sweep of his sword, he cut the titan’s head off.  Then Libra’s arrow arrived.

Lakshme fell to the dirt and twisted her ankle. Pokara, Salipsa and Libra all arrived at about the same time, but Lakshme got up, livid.  She leaned on Libra.  “Elder Stow,” she yelled.  “You almost killed my friend.”  She swallowed and glanced at Rama.  “And thanks for saving my life.”

The travelers came sheepishly from the trees.  The locals made plenty of room, afraid that this might be a new terror.  They breathed some relief when Lockhart got down from his horse and they realized he and the horse were two separate beings. Of course, they did not breathe much relief, him still being a six-foot man in a five-foot world.  Then again, after the titan, he did not look very big at all.

“Welcome friends,” Rama said. “Your faces look oddly familiar. Even the monkey man.”

Lakshme growled and yelled again. “Major Decker is not a monkey man. Decker, please ignore him when he says stupid stuff.  He is a person.  These are people.”  She pointed at the locals who were all dark-skinned Dravidians.

“My name is Lockhart.”  He stuck out his hand and Rama knew enough to shake that hand.  “My wife, Katie.”

“Yes,” Rama said.  “My wife, Sita, is back in Valmiki’s ashram.”

“I look forward to meeting her,” Katie said, and bit her lower lip to keep from saying something, or maybe shrieking like a groupie.

“It is sort of like tromping around with Heracles,” Lakshme admitted.  “Althea already did that.”  Lakshme shook her head.  “At least Rama is calm and collected.  I don’t think I have ever seen him get angry.”  Lakshme made the rest of the introductions.

They ended up staying the night. The titan’s body got dragged back into the cave and Elder Stow kindly used his sonic device to collapse the entrance. The titan’s head, however, got set up on the ledge by the cave, and no doubt would be set up on a pole, as soon as they managed a tree bit enough to handle the job.

The celebration seemed almost caveman primitive to the travelers.  Sukki might have been the only one to appreciate certain parts of the party. Even Rama found the festivities backward.  He asked what was wrong with calling them monkey people?

They got the recipe for bug repellant, and first thing in the morning the headed for the ashram.  Lakshme got to ride behind Katie, and Rama rode with Lockhart. Libra rode behind Alexis, scared though she was.  Pokara, Salipsa and the gang had to use their own feet, though Lakshme admitted that they would probably move by secret ways and get back ahead of them.

About two hours out, Katie had a question.  “So, explain to me why in India, the Devas are the good gods and the Asuras are the bad ones, while in Iran it is the opposite, with the Ahuras being good and the Devas being bad.”

Lakshme looked at Lockhart and Rama.  “Would you two mind riding to the point?” she asked.  “When we walked this way yesterday, I did not have horses in mind. I would like to be sure the way is safe for the horses.”

Lockhart nodded and spurred to ride out front, hopefully out of earshot.  Then Lakshme explained.

“The Ashri were the native gods in this jurisdiction.  The Divas, as in either divine or devils served the Brahman next door, really Afghanistan, in the center of the old world.  You remember the titan Bhukampa held Iran itself.”  Katie nodded.  “Well, when the Indo-Aryan people invaded, and the Divas came, it was trouble putting two houses together, peacefully.  Eventually, the Ashri who fit themselves into the new house of the gods got called Devas, whether they were, originally, or not.  The ones who refused to fit in remained Ashri, which became Asuras. They resisted the new order and caused much trouble.  Still are causing trouble. Sita will be kidnapped by an Asura.”

“I understand that part,” Katie said. “But in Iran the names are reversed.”

“Well, when the Divas came into India, some Ashri moved into Iran and Afghanistan, which were pretty depopulated, god-wise.  Mita, who became Mithras went there.  Varuna, who moved into the sea, kind of touched both places.  Agni, the fire god is still straddling the fence.  But in any case, the reverse happened.  With much less struggle, a new house got formed there, only this time the ones who fit in with the immigrant Ashri came to be Ashri, which became Ahuras.  The resistors there, which is to say, the troublemakers became the Devas who stayed Divas.  You see?”

“I get it.  But now, what about the Aesir.  Where do they fit in?”

“Same root word in the primal language of the Caspian peoples.  Some moved east, into India and Iran.  Some earlier moved down into Greece, Italy, and all the way to Iberia.  Then came the Celts, who eventually got pushed west by the Germans, who eventually filled Germany and Scandinavia, when they were pushed in turn by the Slavs, and in the south, the Scythians that had kind of Iranian connections by then.  The Hati, the Hittites, then the Scythians.  There were others, but they were all rooted in the original people between the Black Sea and the Aral Sea, and the language they spoke.  Aesir.  Ashri. Ahura.  All from the same root.  Even Diva if you follow it back far enough.”

“I see.  But Divas?”

“James is James in most major Western European languages, French, German, Spanish, but in Italian it is Giacomo. Go figure,” Lakshme shrugged.

Avalon 6.1 Little Things, part 4 of 6

Lakshme and Rama stopped early because they wanted to come upon the Rakshasa sometime in the morning, and not in the dark.  Pokara and Salipsa made sure the screens around the group remained strong, so the insects and spiders would not get to them.  They had three elves at a time watch the camp and project the screens for several hours.  Then they needed to sleep while three others took over.

“Will my lady sleep here by the fire?” Libra asked.

Lakshme looked at her and nodded.

“My lady should change first.  It is not good to sleep in your dress after a long, hot day.”

Lakshme looked at Rama, and called to her armor.  He had seen her in it before, so he did not get startled.

“Fairy weave under it all,” Lakshme said. “It absorbs the sweat and pushes it away from the body, keeping one cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  It is a remarkable material that can be freshened, everyday clean and new, with only a thought.  It is very comfortable, and I hardly feel the chain mail.”

Rama nodded, and smiled.  “I believe Valmiki may be right.  You are a goddess, of time.  The Kairos.”

“Greek word.  Like the chain mail.  It refers to event time, like maybe the watcher over history.  I have been called the Traveler, like the traveler in time.  You know, like when I go away and Doctor Mishka shows up to make her medicines.”

“From the future.”

“Well, yes.  But don’t make more of that than you see.  A couple of women struggling along with the rest of the human race.”

“And Diogenes?”

“The Macedonian?  Also from the future, but not nearly as far as Doctor Mishka. He says thank you for the blessing, by the way.”

Rama smiled.  “I bless everyone who saves my life.”

“A lucky shot.”

“I doubt it.”

Lakshme sort of nodded, as she took Athena’s cape and wrapped herself for the night.  She lay down to sleep and hoped she did not have Rakshasa nightmares.


In the middle of the night, Billy Porter banged his nose against Elder Stow’s screen.  He could not find a way around the invisible barrier, so he went back to tell the others.

“I couldn’t get close enough to get a look, see.  Like maybe they got some magic, too.”

Tom Porter and Juan Reynard looked at the witch.  She stood and reached out with one hand.  After a moment, she began to shake and growl.  Then she quit.

“I do not understand it.  They have something that shields them even from my eyes.”

Tom Porter, the older brother, spit. “So, we go with plan B,” he said.

“I don’t like people with horses following us,” Juan agreed.

“Do you think maybe it is the sheriff?” Billy asked, genuinely concerned.

“In the Before Christos?” Juan scoffed.

The witch just looked hard at the simpleton, but Billy’s brother Tom had to comment.



Four groups met in the morning. Rama, Lakshme, and their band of merry men found the village and cave of the Rakshasa.  The men and women brought the daily victims to the cave.  The Rakshasa seemed to like human flesh.  Most of the victims appeared to be stunned and near death from multiple bites from both spiders and insects.  The people serving had no such bites.

“If we can find out what these people are using for insect repellent, it would help a lot,” Lakshme said.

Rama looked at her, like he had not thought of that.

Roughly one mile away, the travelers mounted up, and after they were assured by Elder Stow that no insects or spiders were in the general area, they moved into the trees.  Elder Stow’s equipment proved capable of warning them, even in the jungle.  Besides, the insects came in a mass, easily detected, and the spiders were the size of a fist, so easily shot.  Elder Stow, the afternoon before, fired his weapon once and cleaned spiders off an entire riverbank.

They moved slowly, but soon, up ahead, they saw an exceptionally dark bit of jungle.  Alexis got ready to say that patch looked supernaturally dark when a gun went off, and a bullet came screaming through the trees.  Boston screamed in response.

“Ouch.  Roland! Alexis!”  She got down and pulled her horse, Honey, behind a tree.  Her leg bled, though it looked like only a scrape.  “Why is it always me?” she asked the sky, oblivious to what happened around her.

The travelers got down and got behind trees before the other side opened up with gunfire.  Whoever they were, they appeared to be careful not to waste bullets. Alexis struggled to get to Boston. Decker signaled Katie with his hands. Lockhart spoke to his wife.

“You have to teach me marine sign language.”

A ball of fire came from the darkness. Alexis batted it away with a gust of wind when she reached Boston.  Boston had another idea.  She grabbed Alexis’ hand and her wand, and let out a stream of flame, like a flamethrower that lit up the darkness.  She heard a young man scream

Decker and Katie stepped out from their trees and fired several rounds of automatic fire into the forest as soon as Boston’s flamethrower stopped.  The young man screamed again, and Decker and Katie got back in time.

“They got a damn Gatling gun,” That young voice screamed, as the wind started to blow and quickly became violent. A small tornado formed, and picked up whoever it was, including what looked like horses, and moved rapidly out of sight in a northeasterly direction.

Boston said, “ouch,” and put her hand to her bleeding leg.

Alexis stared at the tornado.  “I don’t have any power like that.”

“Me neither,” Boston said, along with, “Ouch, ouch.”

Avalon 6.1 Little Things, part 3 of 6

Decker moved from his rock with bad news, even as Elder Stow came to more or less the same conclusion.

“In the distance, beyond the river,” Decker reported.  “Though I could only see and not fly that far and get back, I saw swarms of what looked like nasty insects.  They swarmed outside the forest areas, but I have no reason to suppose they are not in the forest as well.”

“More jungle, I think,” Elder Stow said. He looked up, aware that he interrupted. “More jungle-like than forest. Sorry.”

“And people who hide when the swarms come near a village,” Decker continued.  “Though they look like tents more than houses, so no telling how mobile these people may be.”

“Elder Stow?”  Lockhart turned the question.

“Much the same,” he said.  “I did not pick up swarms, exactly, but what Major Decker says makes sense of the data.  Meanwhile, I mapped several alternate routes to the river, and where I believe we may cross, though it is hard to tell exactly from this distance.”

“Alternate routes?” Katie asked.

“One that is mostly straight.  One that avoids the people.  One that avoids the people and the jungle.”

Lockhart nodded, but made no decision. “Sleep on it,” he said.  “Keep the screens up tonight, in case one of those swarms decides to visit.  In the morning, we will see if you can identify the swarms from a distance. That might be good.”  Elder Stow nodded.  “Standard watch,” Lockhart said.

“Boss,” Boston whined.  “We got the screens up.  Why do we have to watch?”

“Better to stay in practice,” Katie answered, and thought she might take a nap before the nine to midnight shift, if Lockhart would lie down with her.  They did not get the chance.  They got most of their supper cleaned up when Devi arrived.

“Sorry,” Devi said, first thing. “It took a second to figure out how to get through Elder Stow’s screens.”

“Hey…” Alexis, Katie, and Boston all got hugs, and Boston introduced Sukki, who also got a hug, since Devi seemed to be in a hugging mood.  She acknowledged the men, and they all sat around the campfire while she explained the situation they were facing.  She explained the swarms of insects, but then told them about the spiders.  That did not sound good.  She said she had work to do, and could not travel with them, but maybe she could figure out how to charge up Elder Stow’s equipment, and that might help.  Then the women sat and talked about life and everything, like dear old friends catching up on all the news.


In the morning, Pokara and his sidekick, Salipsa moved out front. The rest of the Yaksha followed behind. These ones were mostly like elves, Lakshme decided.  They were certainly not dwarfs, though a few had stubbly beards.  They were not goblins being out in the daylight, though some people called any such things, goblins.

“Elves,” Lakshme said out loud, before she added, “Mostly.”  Lakshme recognized they could act rather impish at times.

“Elves,” Rama said.  He walked beside her and otherwise said nothing.

Lakshme looked back.  Libra dutifully followed in her footsteps despite her protests.  Rama took a look back, and Lakshme spoke again.

“Once they get attached, they are very hard to separate.”  Rama nodded, as Lakshme looked ahead again.  “They are loyal, once they make up their minds.  But they do have minds of their own.”  Lakshme clicked her tongue.  “Like people, I suppose.”

“Like any sentient being,” Rama said. “Even the gods.  They decide for themselves, and then there are consequences.”

He was saying he knew why she came. He did not say, don’t offer a chance for the Asura to repent of their wicked ways, only that he came prepared for them not to repent.

That ended the morning conversation. Lunch would have also been a quiet affair if Pokara and Salipsa had not argued the whole time about the cooking. Libra had to good sense to put her fingers in her ears.


The travelers had to pause, and eventually stopped for lunch as a swarm of insects came upon them.  Devi put up a screen, much better and stronger than even Elder Stow’s recharged equipment could produce.  The travelers and their horses remained comfortable, while the insects might as well have been trying to break through a fifty-foot thick brick wall.

“I must not go further,” Devi said. “I have neglected my work long enough.”

“You have people to care for?” Katie asked.

Devi nodded.  “But not like you think.  Lakshme is teaching Karma Yoga.  Like attracts like.  Doing good, even in the least little things, attracts good.”

“I thought opposites attract,” Boston said.

“No,” Alexis explained.  “I think this is more like birds of a feather.”

“Maybe what goes around comes around,” Katie suggested.

Devi pointed at her, like she got it right.  “Lakshme says as you sew, so shall you reap.  She confesses no action will ever be perfect, clean, pure, or holy without extraordinary grace.  She sometimes calls it good deed doing.  But sometimes, she says between Martha and Mary, this is Martha devotion.”

“Hey, I know that story,” Boston spouted, and Alexis interrupted.

“And not one you should tell a thousand years ahead of time.”

Boston looked down, and so did Devi as she spoke.  “The future. I understand.  I will not pry.”

By the time lunch was over, Elder Stow declared himself ready to throw up his screens as soon as he identified incoming insects or spiders.  Devi said again that she had to go.  She had victims of those insects and spiders to tend.

“Poor Valmiki has had his ashram overrun with victims.  Even with Doctor Mishka’s medicine, not all survive.”  She vanished, and Katie looked hard at Lincoln.

“Valmiki?” she asked.

Lincoln looked up and nodded.  “And Rama, Sita, and Rama’s brother, Lakshmana. I thought it best not to talk about it with Devi around.”

“Wow,” Katie’s eyes got big.  She looked excited.

“Wait a minute,” Elder Stow interrupted. “Where are we?”

Boston had her amulet out to check their direction.  She first said, “Thank you.”  Then she explained.  “I think Devi just took three or four days off our journey.  Lakshme is only a few miles that way.”  She pointed.

“Can we reach her?” Lockhart asked.

“Maybe in the morning,” Boston said with a look at the sun.

Lockhart nodded and turned to Katie. “So, who is Rama?”



The groups will meet in the face of the demon, but first, the travelers will be introduced to the cowboy-outlaws and the real wicked witch.  Until then:


Avalon 6.1 Little Things, part 2 of 6

Lakshme, Sita, and Libra sat out under the night sky, sipping tea and counting the stars.

“Must you go?” Sita asked.

“Must you?” Libra echoed.

“You know I must,” Lakshme answered.

“Are there more Skudsku?” Libra asked. Lakshme shook her head, no.  The Skudsku, as Libra named the weed, fell to earth when Lakshme was young.  She first called it smart kudzu.  It grew like an ivy, much faster than kudzu, and could move, intelligently, and choke everything in its path.  It would have been bad enough if it fell in one place, but it broke up over India and landed in a number of places, determined to spread and eventually take over the whole planet.  Lakshme had to leave her happy home in Dwarka, travel up the Indus and down the Ganges, all through the budding Vedic civilization, fighting and destroying the Skudsku wherever her little ones found it had taken root.  She ended in Kalinga, a loosely formed land of cooperative tribes, not honestly a kingdom, between the Mahanadi and the Godavari rivers. Civilization only slowly leaked in their direction from the Ganges in the north.

“I have no word on Skudsku further south,” Lakshme responded.  “But if I have friends walking into the bad land, as Devi says, I must go to them.”

“It may be, sometimes you do too much for others,” Sita suggested.

“Karma works out, not in the grand things we do, but in the small, everyday things.  My work may never be perfect, pure, or holy, but in my humble way, I do what I can for others as I would have them do for me if I were in their circumstances.”

“Very wise.”  They heard the male voice before they saw the man.  Valmiki built, and in a sense, ruled the ashram they lived in.  “Did you learn this from your imaginary friend Devi?”  Valmiki and Rama knew nothing of the goddess, who stayed careful to appear only to the women.  Lakshmana knew of her, but only from a distance, and not that she was the goddess.

The women got prepared to stand and offer proper respect, but Valmiki insisted they remain seated.  He found a stool and joined the women in their tea and conversation.  He got them started again with a question.  “So, tell me why you must go with Rama to face the Rakshasa?”

“We do not know if the Asura is eating the people.  Only the use of stinging insects and spiders to disable the people suggests it,” Sita took up the explanation.

“All life is precious,” Libra said what she had heard Lakshme say a thousand times.

Valmiki continued to stare at Lakshme, until she answered.  Lakshme looked down at her own lap and spoke softly.  “Everyone needs a chance for forgiveness and a second chance to choose what is right, good, and true.  I cannot say more on that subject because of the future, but even the most vicious Rakshasas have not always been so.  They were once worshiped as the gods of the land.  They deserve a chance to repent of their ways and do penance to learn the right ways.  I can offer that, but I can only ask.”

“The Devas and Asuras were once the same?” Sita asked.

Lakshme took a deep breath and shook her head, but did not look up.  “The Ashri ruled this land.  The Divas came here six or seven-hundred-years ago.  Many of the Ashri joined them, though it felt like pulling teeth to make that happen without war.  But some Ashri resisted.  Most of the resistance has moved south, into the wilds, though not all.”

“South, where I came to build this ashram,” Valmiki said.  “Or do you mean south where the monkey people live.”

Lakshme slapped her thighs and looked up. “You and Rama,” she said, sharply. “They are not monkey people.  They are naturally dark skinned people, but people all the same.  They are Dravidians, a combination of dark skinned Shemsu and original Hamites who first peopled the land.  Many moved south when the Indus Valley began to build their cities.  Many more moved south when the Indo-Aryans invaded the land and spread their Vedic ways down the Ganga.  They are tribal.  Many are still hunter-gatherers, though they have a sort of high chief in Vali, Sugriva’s elder brother.  And I know half of what I am saying is hard to grasp, but they are not monkey people. They are just people.”  Lakshme let her steam run out.

“Wow,” Libra said, with great big eyes. The anger of the gods was something to behold, and the little ones were no less terrified when their goddess vented, even if not directed at them, and even if she was otherwise entirely human.

Lakshme continued more softly. “Many Asuras, the resisters, moved south with the people.  Sadly, Vali worships them and has let them run rampant through the southern lands. Even the Rakshasa that feed on the people.  The people are ripe to rebel, but the Asuras keep them down; now less so since Rama has killed some.”

“Lakshmana should not have cut off the ears and nose of Surpanakha,” Sita said, with a shake of her own head.

“Killing the demon would have ended it more mercifully,” Valmiki sounded like he agreed, but would never say Lakshmana made a wrong decision.

“Maybe Khara would not have come with his army,” Libra said, and cried softly at the memory.  Some people of Kalinga came out to support Rama, but Lakshme had to call on her little ones to fill the gap, and some died.  Lakshme felt some tears in her own eyes.

“And Vali escaped,” Valmiki added. He rarely said anything in judgment. Valmiki had a remarkable way of just stating the facts.

Lakshme sniffed.  “Well that happened yesterday.  This is today, and tomorrow I have to walk a long way.” Lakshme sounded ready to go to bed. She saw Rama and Lakshmana coming from their workout.  The martial arts seemed their best form of yoga.

“But wait,” Valmiki made Lakshme pause. “Because I have meditated long on this, and come to an understanding.”  He paused to order his thoughts while Rama and Lakshmana stepped up to hover around the group.  “I have concluded that you are indeed a goddess, as young Libra has referred to you more than once in my hearing.  You are the Devi of time.  The gods divide time by the ages in which we live.  People think of time in the days, seasons, and generations.  But real time runs in sixty-year cycles, roughly the number of days you normally live.  What incarnation are you?”

“Seventy-three,” Lakshme said. “But it is not incarnations.  It is simply rebirths, with no time off in between.  I am not a spirit, like the gods, who sometimes take on flesh and blood for a brief purpose and then go back to being a god.  I never get a break.  And I am almost always human, and even when I am not, sixty years about covers it.” Lakshme took a breath.  “But it is not something you should ever write about. Not ever.  Someday, the storyteller may jot down some notes, but that is risk enough.”

“The storyteller?  Have I met her?” Sita asked.

“Him,” Lakshme answered.

“One of the men,” Rama said.

Lakshme continued.  “The things I deal with, not just here in this lifetime, but all over the world through the millennia, are things best not talked about. They are things that don’t belong to history—that might throw history all off track, and even to mention them might be damaging.”  Lakshme raised her voice.  “You should not write about me.  Please, leave me out of the story.”

Valmiki looked at Rama, then Sita and Lakshmana.  He finally looked at Libra and nodded slightly.  “I will not tell the story about you.”

Lakshme exhaled and stood.  “Good, now I can get some sleep.”

“We leave first thing,” Rama said, as he held out his hand.  Sita smiled and stood to take his hand and walk off to his tent.  Lakshmana followed the couple and Libra followed Lakshme, leaving Valmiki alone to sit and contemplate the universe.

Avalon 6.1 Little Things, part 1 of 6

After 882 BC Dandaka Forest.  Kairos lifetime 73: Lakshme, not Sita.

Recording …

“Put him over here.”  Lakshme walked to the back corner of the room, the only empty space in the building. She worried her hands, while Sita fetched a blanket for the poor man.  Devi examined the spider bite.  It looked red and swollen, like all the others.

“Same,” Devi said, just to confirm.

“Water,” the man breathed.  Libra, the elf maid who attached herself to Lakshme’s side, ran to fetch some water.

Lakshme wiped the sweat from her own forehead.  “Well, it is official.  Any more victims, and we will have to build a tent to keep them out of the rain.”

“Don’t worry about having room,” Devi said, as she took the water from Libra, let the man drink some and began to clean the bite with the rest. “I can help with that.”

“That is not how we are supposed to do it,” Lakshme said.  “We lowly human beings, with our short, short lives, need to learn to love one another, and do good for each other while we are here.  The gods can help, encourage, support us in our lives, but at some point, we need to grow up and do for ourselves.”

Sita covered the man with the blanket and got to her knees so she could hold the man’s hand.  “This way of works is hard,” she said.  Libra nodded and looked at Lakshme.

“Karma Yoga.  It is the least we can do.  It is our duty,” Lakshme said.  “I was reminded recently, several centuries ago, that all life is precious.  We do what we can to relieve the suffering and pain along the way.”

Devi looked up at Lakshme, though her attention seemed far away.  She changed the subject.  “Your friends are here,” she said, before she changed her mind and let out a little smile.  “My friends, I hope.  They are walking right into it.  I must warn them.”  Devi vanished.

“Friends?” Sita asked, and Libra looked like she also wondered. Lakshme could only shrug as they heard the door open.  The men came in.

“Girls,” Lakshmana stepped to the back of the room.  “Where did Devi run off to?”

Sita stood to give Rama a kiss.

Lakshme shrugged again and spoke around Sita to talk to Rama, directly. “We must go,” she said.  “This Rakshasa is the worst kind, attacking the people with a pestilence of stinging insects and spiders who carry a venomous poison.”

Rama nodded.  Sita looked like she wanted to tell him to stay, and not risk his life yet again; but she held her tongue.

“Can I go this time?” Lakshmana asked.  Rama shook his head and placed Sita under Lakshmana’s protection. Rama had come into the building first, and overheard something about Lakshme’s friends walking right into it. He figured Lakshme would go, and he would not trust Sita’s care to anyone else.  His brother, Lakshmana, would defend his wife, Sita, against all odds. Lakshme, on the other hand, seemed something like a goddess.  She had resources, as she said, and could raise an entire army of protection in the blink of an eye.  Rama had no one else.  One of them had to stay with Sita.

Libra stepped up, but Lakshme shook her head for the maid, in imitation of Rama.  “No, dear.” She patted Libra’s hand and raised her voice to talk to all of her little ones in the room.  “You have people to comfort and care for.”  She spoke to Libra.  “I have shown you how to make Doctor Mishka’s medicine.  Only some recover, but it is better than no hope at all.” She turned to Rama.  “We will take Pokara and his band of merry men.

Rama frowned, and made a sour face, but he did not say no.


The travelers came through the time gate and checked the sun to gauge how much time they might have before sundown.

“We may have a few hours,” Katie said, not otherwise making the decision.  “More if we arrived in the summer.”

“Feels like summer,” Lockhart agreed.

“No telling,” Lincoln countered. “The Indian subcontinent stays pretty hot for most of the year.”  He lifted his head to look around.  People followed his example.  “No telling where we came down in Lakshme’s life.  She moved around a bunch, chasing after alien pods of some kind.”  Lincoln glanced at Alexis.  “I need to do some reading.”

“Mountains behind us,” Elder Stow said as he stared at his scanner, before he put it away.

“Tree free ridge there,” Major Decker pointed, and looked at Boston.  She pulled out her amulet and pointed in more or less the same direction.

“What?” Sukki asked, softly.

“It is in the right direction, more or less,” Boston quietly answered her.  “The ridgetop, without trees to block the view, might give a good view of the area we have to travel through.

Lockhart did not wait.  He started them toward the top, though after a short way, they had to get down and walk the horses.  Decker and Elder Stow moved out a little on the wings.  Boston and Sukki straggled behind, as usual.

The ridgetop proved to be mostly meadow, with a few trees beginning down the other side.  They saw a river valley far in the distance, where the river cut through an odd combination of mixed jungle and dry landscape.

“I would guess the jungle sections follow the tributaries,” Katie said.

“Yes,” Lockhart understood.  “But, would it be easier to follow the path the rivers cut through the landscape, and maybe fight that jungle, or gallop across the drier areas.  Less fight, but more chance to get lost or run into people.”

“Dry areas,” Boston voted, though Lockhart did not ask for votes.  “I can keep us headed the right way.”

Lockhart looked at the others and better judged the position of the sun.  He looked around at the meadow, noting plenty for the horses to chew.  “Camp,” he said.  “Decker, would you mind looking ahead?  I know you can’t look under jungle canopy, but I am curious if the tributary might be a good path to follow.  Elder Stow.  Can you scan ahead and make a map thing, as far as your scanner can go, and then set up a screen around the camp to keep the horses penned in.  We don’t want one to fall off the ridge in the dark.”

“I can do that,” Elder Stow said, as he began to fiddle with his equipment.  “But the energy levels are running low.  I will have to find some way of charging my equipment soon.”  He got down and walked toward the edge of the ridge.  “From this height, we should get some good information,” he added.

Decker said nothing.  He simple dismounted and stepped over to sit on a large rock.  He would meditate and let his eagle totem lift his spirit into the sky where he could fly over the area and see what the eagle eyes could show him.