R6 Greta: The Persian, part 2 of 3

The Persian waved his hand, and a scorpion appeared.  It looked the size of a rhinoceros, though flat and low to the ground like a true insect. The horn on this beast appeared, not on the head, but at the end of the multi-jointed tail where it waved slowly up and down, ready to strike at any moment.  Its six legs made the creature shuffle back and forth, and it made a great clicking sound with its jaws, but it did not charge.

“Oh, Lovely.”  Greta clapped like an excited schoolgirl.  “A teleport device.  I can do that.”  The Persian looked confused again as Greta called.  “Bonebreaker!”

The ogre appeared beside his goddess as he had no choice.  He looked confused about what just happened and where he was, but looking confused was not an unusual thing for an ogre.  The poor ogre looked cut up, a few deep cuts, and he looked burned in several places, but he lived and would heal.  Greta touched Bonebreaker’s upper arm, about as high as she could reach, and the ogre felt strength and healing enter his body.

“But you can’t do that,” the Persian protested.  “You are just an ordinary, stinking, mortal human.”

“And this is my ordinary, stinking ugly friend,” Greta asked the ogre a simple question.  “Bonebreaker, dear.  Would you smash the scorpion?”

Bonebreaker grinned, which made Alesander and Briana look away and made Vedix swallow to keep from throwing up.  “Yes, Lady,” Bonebreaker said.  Ogres lived to smash things.

The scorpion moved, but Bonebreaker leapt and both fists came down at once on the scorpion head.  He grabbed the clicking jaws and with a great roar, ripped them out. The scorpion insides and brains began to leak out on the dock even as the stinger struck Bonebreaker in the shoulder. Bonebreaker howled, but grabbed the tail below the stinger and yanked.  Reflex kept the stinger in attack mode, but Briana let out a great scream of her own and leapt.  One swing of her sword and her sword broke even as the scorpion stinger flew off into the bushes.

Briana landed hard on the ground, the wind knocked from her lungs and the strength gone from her arms.  Alesander raced up and grabbed her.  He carried her to safety even as she protested that she could walk.  He told her to shut-up and kissed her to keep her quiet.

It turned out a good thing Alesander pulled her back from the action, because Bonebreaker shifted his hands on the scorpion tail and began to swing the scorpion to the left and the right, smashing it against the ground on the left and on the docks to the right.  When the scorpion became sufficient pulpy, Greta said stop, and Bonebreaker stopped and fell to his knees.

Greta rushed up.  The scorpion venom started having its way.  Greta was not a goddess, but even as a human, she remained Bonebreaker’s goddess, and she was the woman of the ways for all the Dacian people, and not without training and some small power.  She prayed as she touched the big ogre on the shoulder.  She emptied her mind and focused as well as she could, even as Mother Hulda taught her, and the venom collected next to the wound and forced itself out of the hole in the shoulder.  It dribbled to the ground and the earth steamed where it landed.

“That’s not possible,” the Persian shrieked.  “You are not a god.”

“I am human, but as Mother Greta, you know I have some small power.”  Greta turned and her eyes were hard and cruel enough to startle the Persian.  Her hand once again shook a finger at the Persian like he had been a naughty child.  “You claim to be a god, a claim I dispute.  So let me put you to the test of water, fire, earth, air and ether.  We will see if you are truly a god or not.”

The Persian looked surprised, but soon enough the sly look returned to his face and he accepted the challenge.

“We are here by the river,” Greta said in her stern voice and left little time for the Persian to think.  “Since I am already soaked from the rain, let us begin with the water test.”  Greta sat down on the dock and dangled her feet over the side.  “Let us see which of us can stay longer under the water.”  She slipped off the dock and sank beneath the waves.  The fish gave her plenty of room as instructed, and the water sprites surrounded her with a bubble of air and kept her supplied with plenty of oxygen.  The Persian slipped into the water to stand beside her, a smug look on his face before he realized she tricked him again. The water sprites that protected Greta could also feed off the pressure at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, and they pressed in on the Persian and would have crushed him utterly, before he could react, if they were not followed by the Piranha.  It took less than thirty seconds to strip the Persian of every ounce of flesh.  Greta surfaced, as a spark of white light shot out of the water and zoomed into the north.  Then the gnawed bones floated up.

Greta looked at Alesander and Briana, but they were busy kissing.  All the same, she positioned Vedix between her and the lovers before she traded places with Amphitrite.  Amphitrite bent down to the water and thanked her water sprites first of all.  Bubbles popped up from the water and she petted his head like a mom might brush the hair out or her little one’s eyes. Bubbles turned from a gray-blue color to slightly pink and broke to water pieces.  Amphitrite looked up to the sky sprites, and made a point of thanking them as well as singling out the winds that helped.  She turned again to the water and called her Piranha to the surface.  When they jumped from the water, she sent them all the way home to the Amazon, a little less hungry.

“They would not have survived in these cold waters,” she said, and went away so Greta could come back.  “Better they go home,” Greta finished the thought before she added, “I wish we could go home.”

Vedix nodded.  “As you say,” he said, while he got a boat pole and hook and tried to fish the Persian’s bones out of the water.

“Lady!”  Greta heard Mavis’ voice and looked around.  Lucius was nowhere to be seen.  Greta walked off the dock and headed toward the fort where Mavis and Hermes started walking toward her, followed by a great host of hard looking men in leather armor, round wooden and some metal shields, long spears and great swords that hung from leather straps that fit over the opposite shoulder. Bogus and Pincushion came from the big building with dozens of horses in their trail.

Avalon 2.11: Followers

            In the end there is only one option, to just come out with it.  Emotep needs to go to Abydos and he needs the travelers to help him get the children back.  Though against his better judgment that means Lockhart will be taking a number of minors along.  I imagine the parents will do something about that.

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            When the morning came, Lockhart found far more children on the beach than agreed to.

            “For the return trip,” Emotep said.  “Ankaret convinced me I needed the hands to keep that many little children under control.”

            “That does make sense,” Katie said as she helped Sakhmet up behind herself.  Lockhart made no response, he simply reached down for Emotep. 

            Ankara got up behind Lincoln and there was enough room in the saddle where Alexis let Neferet ride in front and hold on to the saddle horn.  Usersi rode out on the wing with Captain Decker who did not mind because the boy was fascinated with military things.  Aha and Ka got to ride out front with Roland and Boston.  Ka protested at being made to ride with a girl, but only a little.  He was seven, but small, so like Neferet he got to ride in front and hold on to the saddle horn, and besides, Boston could do magic and make fire and light and Ka was fascinated with magic.  A little Harry Potter in the making, Emotep once called him, though as far as they knew Ka had no magic in his bones whatsoever.  Elder Stow contentedly floated along under his own power, and so they rode out at dawn, only to be stopped a quarter mile downstream.

            There were a dozen men from the village there who insisted on coming, including Father Meni.

            “You did not think you would be allowed to go off without your elders,” Father said.  “Honestly son, this is our job, not yours.  You are far too young.  You should go home”

            “He has a point,” Lockhart agreed.

            “Are you done?”  Emotep asked, and hearing no response he said, “I am the only one who knows where to go and what we are facing, including the Sorceress.”

            Father rubbed his chin.  “I had forgotten about that.”

            “Sorceress?”  Sakhmet leaned over and asked.

            “She came up to Abydos a few years ago from Herakleon.  She sought me out and threw me in a scorpion pit.”

            “What happened?”  Katie leaned into the conversation.

            “Serket came to me.  She said she was sent by Isis to watch over me.  But all the sorceress saw, as far as I know was the scorpions, and there were hundreds, and they all stepped aside and let me climb out.  Then they followed me and went after the sorceress.  Scared her senseless and I haven’t seen her since.”

            “The vision of Serket probably would have scared her more,” Sakhmet interjected.

            “Serket?”  Lockhart asked.

            Father Meni, Emotep, Sakhmet and Katie all spoke in unison.  “Scorpion goddess”

            “Actually, she is over all poisons, snakes and such.  She strikes the wicked and heals the righteous.  At least that is her P. R.,” Emotep  added and looked at Sakhmet.  “I think she is nice.”

            “Son,” Meni put his hand on Emotep’s knee.  “You think everyone is nice.”

            “Well, mostly they are if you give them a chance.  So let’s go already.”  He was not about to bring up the idea that maybe the other children should go home.  Aha alone would never forgive him.

            They did not stay long in any of the villages they passed through.  The story was the same, and they picked up ten or so adults in each of the first three villages, so when they arrived in the fourth village, which was considerably bigger that the ones upriver, they easily outnumbered the thirty that came out to face them.  There were words and tears before the people settled in for the night.

            “The boats are docked in the town,” Elder Stow reported while he watched Alexis make loaves of elf bread.

            “City,” Emotep said.  “Abydos is a city in this world.”

            Elder Stow shrugged.  “Almost five hundred people.”  He shrugged again, but then the feast was begun and people were preoccupied with cooking and eating.

            “So,” Sakhmet sat next to Emotep and seemed determined to put him on the spot.  “Beloved of Serket.  I have heard of you.  They call you Scorpion.”  She grinned at him but he was ready for her.

            “And it occurred to me the sorceress of Abydos is named Sacmis after the great goddess Sakhmet, but she must be thirty.  I am guessing you are not ten or eleven.”

            Sakhmet lost her grin.  “Are all brothers so mean?”

            “Of course.  It’s our job.”  Emotep slipped his arm around her and squeezed her.  “We also tickle.”  Sakhmet laughed and jumped away, much further than he could reach. So he tickled Neferet and she let out a giggling uproar.  Sakhmet came back and helped.

            Sakhmet spoke again when they were all breathing hard.  “I never had a brother or sister.  I never knew it could be so good.”  She put her face in her hands and cried before she got mad.  “Amun never lets me do anything.  Mother never let me do anything.”

            “Ptah probably won’t either,” Emotep said.  “But what makes you think they don’t know exactly where you are?”  Or who you are with, he thought, and that made him pause. 

            “I know,” Sakhmet giggled, covered her mouth and looked at Emotep like this whole adventure was one big conspiracy.

            Aha came over then, Ankara and Usersi trailing behind.  They all carried enough meat and bread for six people.  “So when does the adventure part begin?”  Aha asked.  “This is just one boring village after another.”

            “The bread is good,” Usersi said.

            “Food!”  Emotep jumped up, grabbed Sakhmet’s hand with one hand and Neferet’s with the other and ran off toward the feast.

            That night, Sakhmet kept Katie up late talking about war and fighting.  Sakhmet was impressed that this woman was not only military, she was an elect.  Neither got much sleep, but Emotep was grateful.

            Come the morning there was one more village before Abydos, a small village that had not been attacked.  They did not stop.

            The approach to the city was arid, thirsty travel across an area almost clean of vegetation.  The men were sweating hot by the time they stopped, and the horsemen with their binoculars moved to the front.

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Avalon 2.11:  Battle

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Avalon 2.11: Scorpion

After 3324 BC, Upper Egypt.  Kairos life 31: Emotep, the Scorpion

Recording …

            Mother Beset ran into the house and slammed the door against all the yelling and screaming in the village square.  She made her children get into the corners and under the table and tossed blankets over them because she did not know what else to do.  “Aha,” she spoke to the eldest.  “Keep your brothers covered and quiet.”

            “Mother?”  Emotep spoke from under the table, but Beset ran back out the front door.

            “Quiet!”  Aha commanded.

            “Who made you Ra?”

            “You will listen to Aha-Aa, because I am the eldest.”  Aha was twelve.  “And Mama said so.”

            “You are the smelliest,” Ka joked.  He was only seven but he generally took ten-year-old Emotep’s side.

            Aha looked about ready to abandon his corner and use his fist when Emotep spoke again.  “Where is Nidjau?”  Nidjau was the baby, just about five.

            “Mother?”  Ka asked.  The door crashed open.  A man came into the house, looked once around, rubbed his finger on the table as if checking for dust.  Emotep saw the sandals from beneath the table and was only happy Ka did not scream, or Aha.  The man looked around, no doubt saw the blankets wiggling in the back corners by the bed, but ignored them.  Even if Ka moved, he would figure it was children.  As long as there were no adults hiding, he turned back to the door. 

            “Burn it,” the man said. 

            Two men responded.  “ Yes Lord Seth.”

            Lord Seth grunted as he left, but the two others came in with torches.  They set the reed chairs aflame and left the torches on the matted floor,  Fortunately, they did not stay to watch it burn, and the boys were able to get out from the blankets.  Aha immediately tried to use his blanket to put out the fire.  Ka tried real hard not to cry or shout out in his fear.  Emotep thought.

            “Aha, if we put it out they will come back and wonder who put it out.”  Emotep grabbed Nidjau’s doll with his blanket and told Ka to bring his blanket.  He went to the back window and looked.  Their house backed up to a small grove of trees.  No one was there, so he climbed out and turned to help Ka to the ground.  Aha came over to the window and yelled at them.

            “Where are you going?  Mother said to stay here.”

            “Yell a little louder.  Maybe the enemy will hear you and come running with swords to cut us all into little pieces.”  Aha put his hand to his mouth, glanced back at the spreading fire.

            “Wait up,” he said and disappeared for a moment.  He came back with an un-burnt blanket and a sack of bread with a couple of onions and a skin of Papa’s best beer.  “Okay,” he climbed out.

            “This way.  Keep your head down, like we practiced.  Try not to be seen,” Emotep said.  Ka nodded and followed in his footsteps.  Aha just had to say something.

            “Who would have thought learning to sneak around would prove useful.  Where are we going?”

            “The clubhouse,” Emotep answered.  Aha just nodded.  It was the obvious place for the children and deliberately hidden, more or less, from the grown-ups.

            The three brothers made it to the woods and a short way down the back hill they came to a spot where three trees grew close together, practically from the same seed.  Emotep whistled and a rope ladder came snaking down from above.  He sent Ka up first.

            “Go ahead,” Aha said, so Emotep went up next.  Aha brought up the rear to the place where big branches from the trees intertwined and fought for dominance.  They laid out some wood there, knowing it would not be seen from below.  They also could not be seen from the village, though they could spy through the branches and see some.  They could also spy out the other side where it was a very good view all the way down the hill to the Nile.  Emotep once estimated he could see almost a mile of the river from there.

            Ankara was already there with big Usersi, and Ankara brought his little sister, Neferet.  She was just five, Nidjau’s age, and had been crying.  Emotep covered her with his blanket before he spoke. 

            “They will probably thrash through the bushes below, so we have to be very quiet until we are sure they have left.”

            “Their boat is on the river,” Ankara reported.

            “When it leaves,” Emotep said again, and Aha just had to say something.

            “Who would have thought this clubhouse of yours would ever prove useful?”

            The wait was not long, only about an hour, and then the boys had questions.

            “Were those the minions of Set you warned us about?” Usersi asked.  Emotep merely nodded.

            “I heard two soldiers talk to Lord Seth,” Ka said.

            “But how did you know the minions of Set would come here?”  Ankara was the curious one.  He was a thinker in his way.

            “It is what I told you.  Osiris is stuck between life and death.  He cannot come here anymore except as a ghost.  Set thinks now he can conquer the whole river, but he will kill the river unless we can stop him.”

            “How do you propose to stop a god?”  Aha asked.  An image of the death of Tiamut flashed through Emotep’s mind, but he did not mention it.

            “Not the god, but his minions.  They are not gods.  We can learn to fight and beat them back to the swamps of lower Egypt where they belong.”

            “I can learn to fight,” Usersi volunteered.

            Ankara shook his head, but his little sister spoke up.  “I can learn to fight, too.”

            “Me too,” Ka said.

            Aha said nothing for a change.

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Avalon 2.11:  People In Time … Next Time

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