Avalon 4.7 part 5 of 6 Setting Things Straight

It took three days for the little ones of the Kairos to locate the Marzalotipan ship and get them to land just out from the city gate.  They set down on the fallow fields between the city and the Jebusite army. Mebdred arrived by then, but despite his urging, the Jebusite army took a giant step back from the unknown.

The travelers saddled up, and Yadinel and Paghat pledged to walk down the hill with them.  A dozen city guards and Pluckman with a dozen dwarfs insisted on joining them.  Alexis made Yadinel ride her horse while she walked the beast.  Lincoln and Lockhart walked to either side of them where they could keep their eyes open.  Decker and Elder Stow went to the flanks where they could watch for Jebusites or whoever else might interfere.  Mingus rode out front, ostensiblysalem 4 for the same purpose, but honestly, he was not about to ride at the rear where Pluckman and his people were jabbering away and acting like they were headed for a picnic among the flowers.  Paghat walked between Boston and Katie—one who lost her husband and one who had not yet gotten a husband.  They talked quietly.

“Do you love him?” Boston needed to know.  Paghat nodded without hesitation.

“He is big and strong, a true leader.  And he is smart, and not afraid.”  Paghat smiled.  “And he makes me laugh.”

“But does he love you?” Katie asked with a glance back at Lockhart.  “That is the important question.”

Paghat held up her hand.  “Do you see this finger?  I only have to wiggle it and he comes with his hat in his hands.”

Boston and Katie eyed each other.  Katie was the one who spoke.  “I’m not sure that qualifies for love.”

“Oh, don’t worry.  He loves me well enough.” Paghat smiled again before she confessed.  “I’m going to have his baby.  I think I am pregnant.”

Katie just got her hand over Boston’s mouth before Boston shouted out the happy news.  “Are you sure?” Katie asked.

Paghat shook her head.  “But I think so.  I feel it, if you know what I mean, and we have certainly tried well enough.”  It looked like she could not stop grinning at that thought.  “Besides,” she settled her mind.  “I can’t exactly ask Doctor Mishka to examine me.  Father would never forgive me.  He and Mebdred’s father, Chief Mibdrus are the worst of enemies and have forbidden us from seeing each other.  I’m afraid this may break father’s heart.”

paghat 2Katie and Boston walked in silence before Katie added a thought.  “Your father is a grown man.  The Kairos can handle more than you think.”

“You won’t know unless you tell him,” Boston added, with one look back at Yadinel and Alexis.  “I am sure it won’t be any more difficult than when Alexis told Father Mingus she was going to become human to marry Lincoln.”

Paghat nodded.  “I will tell him if it proves true.  I will have to tell him when I start to show.  But I am afraid for him all the same.  I will put it off as long as possible, so please don’t say anything.”

“Don’t worry.  We are getting used to not saying everything we know,” Katie said, with a glance at Boston.  “Some of us are even learning to tell little white lies, isn’t that right, Boston?”

“What?  You mean me?”  Boston sounded offended, but the offence was obviously fake.

###

Noodlegluk, Screek, Shloop and his mate Clack-Clack were all standing on the ramp, waiting patiently, but nervous.  They had some wares out on display, in particular those items Mebdred and the travelers seemed interested in.  Elder Stow was always in the market for something he could adapt to charge up his equipment.  Alexis mentioned Dilodian silk.  Mebdred had his eye on weapons, but that was expected.

Lockhart made sure everyone knew the rules going in.  Mingus would translate for Yadinel and otherwise everyone else was to shut up.  Elder Stow took Shloop aside to see what they could find.  Alexis stepped off with Clack-Clack, and Katie, Paghat and Boston followed.  Decker watched the weapons and imagined one big gun looked like a Blueblood weapon.  It had a wide angle and stun setting, but he wasn’t exactly sure how it worked.  Lincoln and Lockhart stayed back while Mingus and Yadinel stepped forward.UFO Birdman 5

The conversation between Yadinel and Noodlgluk was brief, and Noodlgluk cried.  Yadinel traded places briefly with Amun Junior and did something by divine fiat, but Yadinel came back in time for Mibdrus, his elders, and two dozen soldiers to appear on the edge of the woods.  They were coming to see about this strange, giant ball that floated on air.

“Company,” Pluckman shouted out what everyone saw.  The city guards looked ready, but relaxed.  Pluckman’s dwarfs pulled their arrows and axes, set up a defensive line, and growled.  Katie looked, but not at Mibdrus, and Decker, Father Mingus and Boston all looked a moment later.

Mebdred and some twenty men came from the trees off to the left, and it looked like they were charging, an enemy ready to do battle.  People were going to get hurt, but Decker snatched up the Blueblood weapon and sprayed the group.  They all fell, unconscious, he hoped.

Junior came back for a second to check before Yadinel returned and relaxed.  Paghat ran into the field and began to wail, supposing Mebdred to be dead.  In fact, he sat up by the time she arrived and began to fawn all over him.  He looked like a man who might soak his injuries for all they were worth.

Yadinel sighed for the travelers as he hobbled to the end of the Marzalotipan ramp and hollered.  “Paghat, get away from him.  He may be poison or something.”

The travelers looked up at Mebdrus, who was certainly close enough to hear what Yadinel yelled.  “Yes,” he also yelled, but he grinned the whole time like a bad actor.  “Mebdred, leave that girl alone.  She may have a hidden knife or something.”

UFO Blueblood CanonThe young people, which in this case was about twenty-seven and thirty-years-old, ignored their fathers and even pecked at the lips before they separated.  Mebdrus arrived, and spoke.  “What was that great flash of light to knock over my son and his friends?”

“Blueblood cannon, updated, I assume,” Decker admitted.

“And a very dangerous choice if you read the settings wrong,” Lincoln pointed out.

“Sorry,” Decker apologized to Yadinel.  “Automatic reflex, but I figured it was better than bullets.”

Yadinel frowned, but only slightly.  “The Marzalotipan will be leaving, and not coming back.  Junior slipped the coordinates into the navigation system for a small Marzalotipan colony way out on the galactic rim.”  He held up a hand to prevent people from speaking.  “I mean further out on the rim than we are right here.”

“Bird people,” Mibdrus said, astonished as soon as he got a good look.  “Good to know my son has not gone mad.”

“Mad is a relative concept,” Mingus said with a quick glance at Alexis.

“Yes,” Alexis caught the look.  “Father is an expert on the subject.”

“Should we tell the young people what we have decided?” Mibdrus asked, but Yadinel shook his head.reb tera

“We dare not suggest such a thing yet.  Too soon may ruin everything.  We have our three-day feast and meeting without the young ones present, and I suspect by this time next year I may be called to move on to a new assignment, whatever that may be.”

“Called by your one god,” Mibdrus nodded.  Everyone knew they were talking about Yadinel’s death.  “But now I have brought only three hundred young men.  I will take the five hundred home, so you see my army at the gate is getting smaller in anticipation.”

Yadinel nodded.  “Good.  The less men, the less chance blood gets spilled.”  He turned to the travelers.  “Mibdrus does not entirely trust me to keep the bargain, but as I tell him, it is Mebdred and Paghat who will keep the bargain.

Avalon 4.7 part 4 of 6 Paghat

The travelers got to the gate by lunchtime, having successfully avoided the five-hundred-man army that was camped just far enough away to be out of sight from the city.  Abandoned farm fields stood between the army and the city on the hill.  The city itself appeared to have a good, solid wall.  While the wall offered no protection for the people to work those fields, the city would not be easily overrun.  The travelers supposed without the use of those fields, the people might be starved into submission, but it would not be easily taken.salem 2

Lockhart and Katie got down to stand in front of the gate.  Lockhart banged on the big wooden door while Katie shaded her eyes and looked up at the battlements above.  Lincoln shouted from his horse.

“Yadinel.  We have come to see Yadinel.”

A man’s voice answered from above.  “Lord Danel is in seclusion.  He sees no one.”

A woman’s voice interrupted.  “Why do you wish to see Yadinel?”

“We are old friends,” Alexis shouted, as they heard an all too familiar voice in response.

“Get that gate open,” the voice ordered.  “Hop to it.  Hurry,” the voice continued as the big gate slowly opened wide enough to get two horses in abreast.

“Pluckman,” Katie named the dwarf, and actually smiled while Lockhart turned to tell the others.

“It’s Pluckman and his gang.”

“I wonder how many stooges they have by now,” Decker mumbled.

“Sixty?” Elder Stow suggested.

“Maybe eighty by now,” Alexis suggested with a grin.  “Those women folk keep pushing out the young ‘uns, you know.”

dwarves a2“Pluckman,” Boston ran up front and left her horse, Honey, for Father Mingus to bring inside.  Boston paused before she bent down to hug the dwarf.  He showed some signs of age, his hair graying, and his beard long, almost to the ground.  Boston glanced at the woman, just shy of thirty, who stood a bit to the side and stared at the travelers, but Boston spoke to Pluckman.  “How old are you now?”

Pluckman smiled broadly, not the least for being hugged by the pretty red-head, even if she was an elf.  “I’m four-hundred-years old, but I still got plenty to go,” he said, nice and loud.  “My great uncle Donner lived to be nearly eight hundred years, he did.”

“I thought Donner was one of Santa’s reindeer,” Lincoln said as he passed by.

“No surprise there,” Decker mumbled, without explaining.

Pluckman led the travelers to a big barn where they could stable their horses.  There appeared to be dwarfs everywhere, but also some gnomes who knew all about the care and feeding of horses.

“This is the threshing floor,” Pluckman explained.  “You can see there isn’t much grain here at the moment.  Lord Danel lets us go out and glean the Jebusite fields after they get harvested, and I am not saying we steal Jebusite grain, mind you, but there’s plenty that has to eat here in old Salem town.”

“It is a wonder the Jebusites don’t starve,” Mingus suggested quietly to the group.

Once the horses were in good hands, the woman who followed them from the gate spoke one word.  “Come.”  She turned to walk, evidently used to being obeyed.  Boston started to follow without question, but then stopped suddenly as a question came to her face.  She turned to ask Mingus, but Pluckman answered.

“Lord Danel’s daughter, Princess Paghat.”paghat 1

Father Mingus explained to Boston.  “The children of the Kairos are to us like children of the king.  We have used the terms prince and princess from the beginning, even though most human people do not yet know the terms.  They have a special relationship and some authority over all the little ones, even to the third generation, that is, the grandchildren of the Kairos.  We all feel the obligation to protect and defend them, and listen to them, even if we do not always do what they ask.”

Boston understood.  When Paghat told her to come, she felt a compulsion that was by no means irresistible.  Still, the travelers followed the woman and soon found a large home with a beautiful garden, not far from the main spring that gave water to the whole city.  They found Yadinel, an old man, tending the flowers.

“Lockhart, good to see you with these old eyes,” Yadinel said.  He turned and opened his arms for Boston.  She hugged him carefully, since hugging the elderly seemed to be the theme for the day.  “Katie, are you and Lockhart working things out?”

Katie glanced at Lockhart who preferred to stand, statue-like.  “I am honestly trying,” she said.  She did not explain what she was trying and she did not speak for Lockhart.

“Good, good,” Yadinel accepted whatever she was willing to offer in answer.  “Father Mingus.”  He turned to the elder elf.  “Are you loving your daughters?”

Mingus dropped his head and echoed Katie’s words.  “I am trying.”  Lincoln hushed Alexis before she could say anything about just how trying he was.

mes king 1“Good, good,” Yadinel said.  “I have my own headstrong daughter to care for.”

“Father,” Paghat protested with her voice, but stepped up and kissed Yadinel’s cheek before she turned again to look at the travelers.  “You are welcome to Salem and welcome to share whatever we have.”

“Yes, yes,” Yadinel said, and spoke to Paghat.  “You best go tell Missus Rondel and the ladies that we have guests, I hope for the next several days at least.  That means eight more at meal time, not that the dwarf ladies don’t already cook for an army.”

“Yes, Father.  But more Jebusites are coming to the army camp.  I saw from the top of the wall.”

Pluckman spoke up.  “My guess is Mibdrus himself.  That makes some eight-hundred men at arms, almost as many as we got men, women and children inside the city.”

“Paghat, go on and tell the ladies,” Yadinel said, and Paghat nodded and left so he had to shout after her.  “And stay away from those Jebusites, especially that Mebdred fellow.”

“We met Mebdred,” Lincoln said.

“Don’t tell me, she and Mebdred…” Lockhart did not finish his thought.  Yadinel let out a wry smile.

“Did you ever see The Fantastiks?  The play in New York was performed for, I don’t know, twenty years or more.”  A few heads nodded.  “Well, Mebdred’s father Mibdrus and I have an agreement, to avoid as much bloodshed as possible.  You see the wall.  You must always keep the wall.  But I don’t have long to live, then Paghat and Mebdred will be together and the city will become a Jebusite city.  I can only pray that the Elohim will survive.”

“Elohim?”  Katie was curious.  “You worship El?”pag david

Yadinel began to walk, slowly, almost staggering in his old age.  He shook his head.  “You must understand that history often repeats itself.  Lord Melchizedek’s father was like Saul, the King.  He turned the people to worship the Most-High god, but he stumbled, often.  Lord Melchizedek was himself like King David.  He was not perfect, but God approved, you might say.  I play the part of Solomon, though my failure has not been infidelity.  In my case, my son and wife have both been taken from me, and my daughter will marry the enemy, and the gods of infidelity will once again move into the city.”

“How old are you?” Boston got weepy, watching him struggle.

“I am fifty-seven,” he said, and quickly added, “You can’t judge with twenty-first century eyes.  Fifty-seven is a good, long life in this day and age.  For me especially.  I don’t think I live more than sixty years right up through the middle ages.  There may be a couple after Y1K, but honestly Doctor Mishka in the twentieth century is about the first to begin living longer than sixty years.”

“There are historical crisis points where the Kairos is needed,” Mingus explained.  “He can’t age gracefully here if he is needed in ten or twenty years in China, Africa, or the Americas.”

“Even when I am young and healthy,” Yadinel nodded.  “I will die when it is time to move on, sad as that may be.  I am like everyone else in that respect.  I have no control over when I die, and it can come at any time.”

People walked in silence for a while, not unlike a funeral procession, Boston imagined.  Eventually, they got back to the threshing floor building, which turned out to be much bigger from the outside.  There were any number of oversized rooms, all attached.  The horses were in one room.  elohim 1The noise, like a raucous celebration, was coming from another great room, and Lincoln thought he better say something before his words got swallowed up by the noise.

“We ran into a Marzilotipan on the way here.”

Lockhart took up the story.  “She said the Anazi have overrun her home world and she escaped.  She is here seeking refuge and apparently she will trade any sort of advanced technology for some land.”

“A foolish idea,” Yadinel said.  “Property and ownership is a fluid concept for the human race.  Humans give land, and then change their minds.”  They went in to lunch.  The dwarfs were celebrating extra hard, and extra loud and wild for the arrival of their friends.

Avalon 4.7 part 3 of 6 Seeing is Not Believing

Alexis and Lincoln always had first watch.  They went out in the evening, from sundown to about nine o’clock.  There were often others awake at that time.  Decker and Elder Stow learned to go to bed with the sun.  They had the watch in the wee hours.  But the others often stayed up in the early evening, at least for a while.  Katie and Boston sometimes gave the horses some extra attention while Lockhart and Mingus discussed their progress and what they might expect up ahead.  At this point, both agreed that they were closing in on the ghoul home location, whatever time zone that might be in.  They had been attacked twice out of the last half-dozen time zones, though the attack in Rebecca’s time zone was curious because it did not strictly focus on the travelers.mingus 1

“Still,” Mingus said.  “Normally ghouls terrorize a community for months, but in secret, and one or two at a time before they move on.  They don’t normally expose themselves like that in an all-out attack against a community.”

Lockhart was glad to get that much out of the Elder Elf who was otherwise not inclined to speak at all.

Sometimes, Katie and Lockhart spent the sundown to nine o’clock hours together, and often enough that included caring for the horses.  That, of course, was back over those weeks after Roland was taken from them, and Mingus focused on teaching and training Boston like the young elf she was.  Currently, Mingus hardly talked to Boston, and Boston spent much of that time in tears.

Mingus and Lockhart watched through the night, from roughly nine until midnight, while everyone else slept.  Sometimes Katie stayed up a bit with Lockhart, but most of the time she was tired and needed at least her six hours.  Lincoln and Alexis were not always careful to separate and walk the camp perimeter, but by the time Lockhart and Mingus got the duty, the dark generally closed in.  They watched both ends of the camp so there was no time to discuss things.

On that evening, Alexis made a point of walking in front of her father and talking to Lincoln about making wild, passionate love under the moon.  That did not put Mingus in a good mood.  He kidnapped Alexis in the first place, which got this whole mess started, because she had the bad sense to become human and marry a human.  He spent the next few hours stewing, and not paying attention to anything that was going on around him.

At midnight, Elder Stow and Major Decker took over.  Again, they were careful to watch both sides of the camp so they spent little time together.  Elder Stow’s scanner was a great help in those hours, which were often the darkest hours before the dawn.  On that night, the scanner was not prepped to sound an alarm based on what his detectors might detect.  He regularly watched it during his shift, but it was a quiet night, so when he went back to bed, he neglected to turn on the alarm function.

Stow 1Elder Stow got up twenty minutes early that night.  He wanted the time to talk to Mingus.  He felt for the elder elf and thought a good word might help.  He talked about the importance of family and the bonds that tied family into one unit.  He said how he accepted the travelers were his family for the journey, and how he understood that it was important to do his part.  He told Mingus how lucky he was to have actual family, or blood family as he called it, having two daughters in the group.  He wanted to encourage the elder elf to do all he could for them and cherish the time he had been given with them.  Elder Stow had family, both sons and daughters, but he never saw them.  He missed them.  Mingus was lucky, and he should take advantage of the time.

Mingus did not say much.  He went to bed when he could, and Elder Stow sat up wondering if his talk did any good at all.

Three in the morning, Boston and Katie got up.  They built up the fire and sat together, as they did at times, to watch the sun rise, or at least to see the horizon turn light.  They were charged to get everyone up by six, and while it was not expected, they usually had whatever was available cooking for breakfast.  To Lockhart’s delight, they had whatever might substitute for coffee boiling away.

On that particular morning, as the light first touched the horizon, they saw the last thing they expected or wanted.  A whole army had moved up in the night, and it was camped on the plain about a hundred yards out from where they sat.

“I’ll get the others,” Katie said, and she went to wake everyone, though it was not quite six.  Boston sat and watched as a half-dozen men, not dressed like common soldiers, but like elders or dignitaries of some kind, stepped out of the army camp, walked some distance from the camp.  They stopped at a certain line.  One reached out and his hand toward the travelers.  Boston guessed the men did not come close enough in the night to wake anyone. desert at dawn 1

“Boston,” Lockhart called.

“Coming,” she answered.  She stood facing the men who were staring at her.  She removed her glamour of humanity, to their surprise, not that they could see her well at that distance in the dim light before sunrise.  She turned and used some elf speed to race out of sight.  She was behind the trees and rocks and at the campfire in the blink of an eye, and in fact, if those men all blinked, it might have looked like she disappeared.

“Decker says there is a route we can follow out of here,” Lockhart explained.

“I need to see your amulet so I can judge where we need to turn west.”  He held out his hand.

“I haven’t taken this off since Doctor Procter gave it to me,” Boston said.  She pulled it out and showed it to the marine, but she seriously did not want to take it off.

“Is that a settlement?” Decker asked.  The amulet was not exactly clear, like an old road map after too many rain showers.

“Yes, I think so.  But whether it is a town, a city, or a tent camp…”  She shrugged.

“Salem is a city,” Lincoln spoke up.  “I thought I was clear about that.  Yadinel is king of Salem.”

“And this here?” Decker asked.  Boston shrugged.

Alexis looked.  “Bethany?  Bethpage?”

“Bethlehem?” Lockhart asked.

Katie 8“No.  That would be further down,” Katie assured him.

Decker paused the discussion.  “So this could be the main army camp.  A place of tents as far as you can tell.”

“I know,” Boston said.  “It is frustrating sometimes trying to interpret the thing.”

“Mine only shows minimal landmarks on the direct route to the gate from wherever we are,” Katie said.  “It doesn’t show Salem at all at this point, because the direct route is mostly south.”

“Okay,” Lockhart made a decision.  “Everyone needs to be packed and ready to move on short notice.  I’ll try to buy some time to get packed.  Right now, they only seem to be curious about who we are.  My guess is Salem is probably their objective, but if we run, they will probably chase us, thinking we are an enemy.  So Mingus, would you join Katie and I when we talk to them?  I want someone who can recognize if they start lying.”

Mingus nodded and followed while the others began to pack the tents, but he said nothing.

Lockhart buckled the police belt that held his trusty revolver.  He changed his fairy weave clothes to his normal slacks, shirt and boots, and grabbed his shotgun.  Katie already had her gun belt on for her turn on watch.  She also dressed in more modern shirt, shorts, and riding boots, and brought her rifle.  Mingus came as is, but his magic was not limited to what he wore.

“Hello,” Lockhart spoke in a friendly manner as they approached the delegation from the army.  Katie and Mingus both pushed out their senses and both concluded that the army, about three hundred men just rising in the morning, did not represent any hostile intent for the present.

“Just curious, for now,” Mingus guessed.

“Hello,” Lockhart repeated.  “How can we help you?”

“We are not in need of help,” one of the elder men responded.  “We did not expect to find people in the wilderness before the city.”  There were, in fact, seven men facing the three.  The two in the rear were young soldiers with spears, but the other five looked unarmed and had gray hair.soldiers 4

“We are simple travelers, passing through this fine land.  I am Lockhart.  This is Katie and Father Mingus.  And you are?”

“You are a priest?” One old man stared at Mingus while others had different questions.

“You are Raphaite?” another asked.

“You are Elohim?” a third asked.

Katie whispered to Lockhart.  “The Raphaite are giants.  Elohim, children of the god El.”

Mingus gave a terse response.  “I am an elder elf from the long march of Avalon.”  He dropped his glamour and the men facing them all took a step back.  At least none of them ran away screaming, this time.

One man stepped forward.

“I am Mibdrus, son of Jebus, King of Jericho and Chief of all of the people of Jebus.”  They all heard the touch of fear in his voice.  He looked around before his eyes settled on Katie who appeared the least threatening, even if she had strange yellow hair.  “You have come upon my land without permission.  You must account for yourselves to my satisfaction or by right I will claim you wives and daughters and all of your cattle.”  He drew himself up to look as tall as possible.  He looked back once to be sure his army was behind him.

“Jebusites,” Katie said.

“Interesting,” Lockhart said, before Mingus interrupted.

“You wouldn’t want my daughters.  They are both witches.”

Lockhart continued.  “Three days ago, we met a young man named Mebdred who claimed to be chief of all the Jebusite people and ruler of all this land.”

“Your son?” Katie guessed and asked, and the king nodded, even as he frowned.

“I would watch him,” Lockhart said.  “It sounds like he is getting ahead of himself.”

nat jerusalem 1Decker, Boston and Elder Stow came out from the trees, mounted, and trailing three horses.  Boston had Father Mingus’ horse.  Decker and Elder Stow had Katie’s and Lockhart’s horses.  Elder Stow neglected to put on his glamour of humanity, which startled the delegation, again.  Decker spoke.

“We are ready to go.”

Mingus turned to his horse while Katie added a thought.  “We are travelers and we will be gone from this area in a couple of days.”

Lockhart added one further thought before he mounted.  “It looks to me like your son wants to be chief and is impatient that you are living so long.”

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The travelers are just trying to get to Salem, but there are obstacles.  Aliens have landed in the wilderness.  The travelers are being chased by a warrior and his men who would love to get their hands on some advanced alien weaponry.  And just when the travelers think they have moved safely out of range, they run into an entire army of Jebusites.  Don’t miss next week, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, for the conclusion of Avalon, episode 4.7 King After Melchizedek.  Happy Reading.

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