Avalon 6.2 Sudden Encounter, part 6 of 6

Artie explained.

“We found a good world, not far away, and made it our new home.  The beautiful Anath-Rama brought us a village of humans to help us grow our daily bread and learn the ways of the earth.  I had a son, and he had good people around him, to love him.  It took real effort, but soon enough we had androids and humans living together, in peace.  We made a good world; but then we got attacked, twice, over two hundred years.  Some got killed.  The humans could reproduce and repopulate, but we could not. All of our efforts proved fruitless.” Artie took a deep breath.  “When the Anazi world got destroyed, the secret of self-aware, true, living android people became lost.  We have made super intelligent robots, but they are only robots…”  She let her voice trail off, and looked at Ibelam.

“I cannot tell you how to do that,” Ibelam said.  “Some future lives might know, but I have no idea.”

Artie’s eyes shifted to Elder Stow, but he shook his head.  “It is not a secret, but I don’t know…I don’t think I can say…I don’t know.” Elder Stow also looked at Ibelam, who shook his head as well, before he spoke.

“None of my future lives are willing to tell.  I don’t know if that is because you are not supposed to know the secret or because you have to find out for yourselves.  But I will tell you what I know.  Your robots remain robots because I am sure your programming is perfect, and without flaws.  Life requires a miracle.  It happens like magic, or by chance accident, or by what you might call a glitch in the program, and not just any flaw will do.  But by reason and logic, you will never find it.”  Elder Stow nodded, and Ibelam continued.

“It is like finding God’s perfect plan for your life.  You can sit and think all day, and never find it.  There will be things in life that you will never understand, even things that don’t make much sense to reason, logic, or thinking really hard.  You can submit to the almighty and have things revealed, or be led to things.  You may stumble upon things and have them confirmed from above.  But the truth is, for reasons God alone knows, some never discover their purpose in this life.  Some seek haphazardly, or quit seeking after a time.  And altogether too many conclude that everything is just an accident, and they never start seeking in the first place.”

“I have known a few like that,” Alexis said, softly.

“Let me also say this,” Ibelam said. “Never quit seeking.  Never quit asking.  Never quit knocking.  You might never find, or fully find what you are seeking, but if you trust the almighty, you will find what is necessary—what is right, good and true.”

“The almighty?” Artie asked.

“Anath-Rama’s god,” Ibelam answered. “The one she calls the source.”

Artie lowered her head again to think, but continued her tale.  “We became explorers over these last couple of centuries.  We needed to head off any future attacks, if possible, but also, we went looking for the key to life.  We are slowly becoming less.  Someday, we may all be gone to Anath-Rama’s paradise.”  Artie quit speaking.  She had to consider Anath-Rama’s god.  Her thoughts were like a prayer, though she did not know it.  It helped when Mother Katie scooted over and hugged her.

General Redfern took up the telling. “About a hundred years ago, we discovered the Humanoids in space.  They appear to have risen to the top in this sector of the galaxy, and they have no interest in peaceful relations.  We have lost ships, and people.  We appear to be targeted as rivals.  We are becoming less, and outside of David, and the colony of mostly humans around him, we have found no way to replicate ourselves.”

 “They came out from behind a dwarf star and surprised us,” Artie interjected. “We did not even see them until they were right on top of us.  I headed straight to earth, and they appeared to keep their distance.”

Captain Korman spoke up.  “An analysis of their propulsion system and weapons suggests a technology that is not better, and may not be as good as our own. The record suggests in a longer journey we would have outrun them.”

Elder Stow looked ready to say something, but General Redfern interrupted.  “Our immediate concern is the Hungdin craft.  We picked up their troops easily enough, but their ship and base of operations are invisible to us.  We fear they have gained one technological advantage.  If they have an invisibility screen, they may be the end of us.”

Elder Stow had to think, and everyone allowed him the time without interrupting.  “I am not sure what is safe to say,” he said, softly, and looked at Ibelam who betrayed nothing on his face.  “But I believe it would betray no future to tell you the humanoids have no invisibility.  Their ship is built of the right composite materials and designed to cause your simple radar-like long range scanners to slip right over them, as if they are not there. Their stealth design is well done; perhaps even impressive.  But they do not have even a glamour of invisibility.  I believe I can help you there, but as for what makes a robot into a living being…”  He shook his head, his face filled with uncertainty.  Everyone understood.  It was not his decision, and the Kairos already gave all he could.

###

Several hours later, Elder Stow, Boston, Katie, Artie, and Captain Korman came from the ship with news that they now had the means to detect humanoid ships in deep space.  The one on the ground had also been found.  They discovered Ibelam got the people to start partying without them.  They had a big bonfire with plenty of game cooking away, and Ibelam told stories of his adventures.

Lincoln commented.  “No one in our century would believe a word of it.  I would not believe the stories myself except for two things.  First, we are talking about the Kairos.  As Lockhart said, he sits at the center of the hurricane while everything else swirls around him.  Second, we have four eyewitnesses here who have more or less confirmed the stories, no matter how strange they sound.  And, trust me, some have sounded pretty wild.”

“Never underestimate the veracity of four eyewitnesses,” Alexis agreed.

Decker came back from visiting the perimeter where android soldiers were keeping a sharp eye out for any humanoids or skeletons that might be headed their way.  He interrupted.  “Anybody ever figure out where that Muhamed guy went?”

“We found the guy running from skeletons,” Boston blurted out.

Alexis took up the explanation. “He seemed grateful.  He thanked Allah and the Holy Prophet for being saved. He only had a scrape from a skeleton spear.  Otherwise, he seemed in fine shape.”

“I guess he ran away when the soldiers attacked us,” Elder Stow said, and Sukki nodded.

“We should have made more effort to find him,” Decker said, still thinking about not leaving people behind.

“I figure he is native,” Lockhart said. “I imagine he knows where he is going.”

“Wait.”  Katie interrupted.  “He thanked Allah and the Holy Prophet for being saved?”

“Yeah,” Boston confirmed.  “So?”

“I told you, Allah’s holy prophet won’t be born for another fourteen or fifteen hundred years.”

Everyone got quiet.  Ibelam finally said it.  “So, your Muhamed is from the future.”

“He said he was a chemist from Medina,” Boston remembered.

“Probably a pharmacist.  Maybe from Mecca,” Alexis suggested.  “Someone who could make the life elixir.”

“Probably from our century,” Lincoln added.

“Probably the necromancer,” Elder Stow said it.

“Had to be,” Decker agreed, as the call came that there were some skeletons coming.  Some must have survived getting through the humanoid line.

Lockhart said, “Damn.”  Lincoln looked at Ibelam and wondered why he doubted the truth of any of Ibelam’s stories.  Ibelam just laughed.

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

MONDAY

Next Time: Avalon 6.3, Stubborn. The travelers find themselves arriving just before the founding of Rome, and they find someone from the future who has been enslaved and does not belong there.

Until next time, Happy Reading

*

Avalon 6.2 Sudden Encounter, part 1 of 6

After 821 BC Phoenicia. Kairos lifetime 74: Ibelam, the Sailor

Recording …

The dry ground appeared desert-like in every direction.  There were trees enough for shade, but many looked stunted by the conditions.  The travelers moved in a group.  No one wanted to be the rear guard because the dust blew in that direction.  For once, Boston and Sukki did not straggle at the back of the pack.

“His name is Ibelam,” Lincoln said, having read about him in the database.  Alexis and Katie listened, and so did Lockhart, though he kept one eye on the trail ahead.  Boston certainly could have heard with her good elf ears, if she bothered to listen.

“Phoenician, you said.”  Katie wanted to get something straight in her mind.

“I would guess we are in southern Syria,” Lockhart said.

“Or northern Arabia,” Alexis offered an alternative.

“He must be moving,” Boston interjected. “The gate is getting closer on its own.”

“Ibelam?”  Sukki did not seem concerned about where they were.  She just wanted to get the name right.

Lincoln nodded.  “Next to Ibelam it says, see Sinbad the Sailor.”

Lockhart laughed.  Katie took it more seriously.

“Maybe some of those stories started this far in the past.  They were told, originally, long before Mohammed.  They got modified to fit Islam after the fact.”

“After the fact?” Boston asked, and this time Katie nodded.

“Mohamed won’t be born for almost fifteen-hundred years in the future.”

Lockhart spoke his thought. “Sinbad sounds like the Kairos. He sits at the center of the hurricane while everything whirls around him.”

Katie almost said she agreed, but Decker chose that moment to ride in from the wing.  Elder Stow, seeing Decker’s dust, rode in from the other wing.

“Man crying for help up ahead,” Decker showed his binoculars.  “Being chased by what looks like skeleton soldiers.”

“Sinbad must be getting close,” Lincoln mumbled through a slight grin.

Lockhart pointed.  “Decker and Katie with me on the right of that hill up ahead.  Elder Stow, take Sukki to the left.  We need your scanner, but get your weapon ready.  The Patton sabers is about all we have that is effective against skeletons. Fire and wind,” by which he meant Boston and Alexis.  “You go down the middle, and Lincoln, go with the women, sword ready.”

Katie gave Lockhart a love slap in his shoulder.  “And what am I?”

“I should say the other women. You’re with me.”

Katie nodded.  She wanted to be with him.  The riders split up.

###

“Help!”  Muhamed scrambled up the steep, rocky side of the hill.  He almost slipped in his haste, but then he had a thought.  He kicked at the loose rocks in the hope of starting a rock slide.  “Help!”  His cry felt like an automatic reaction to danger.  Like, the word just popped out of its own volition.  He had no idea if anyone might be around to hear him.  It did not appear so.  He picked up a couple of rocks and threw them at his pursuers. The skeletons were not bothered by the rocks, even as he hit one and knocked the arm out of its socket.  The others raised their shields and brandished their swords.  He imagined if they had flesh and blood, they might shout at him.

“Help!”  Muhamed shouted, involuntarily, and turned to resume his run. It hardly mattered.  He would eventually tire and run out of breath.  The skeletons needed no breath.  He stumbled. It proved fortunate. A skeleton-thrown spear tore through his sleeve and scraped his arm, but missed his back.  “Help!” His voice rang out again.

Muhamed glanced at the sky and realized he ran the wrong way.  The time gate lay in the opposite direction.  He seemed headed toward the very people he intended to stop.  The goddess had been very clear about that.  The demoness in the future gave him the elixir of life, and the formula, and showed him how to make it.  The same demoness in the past ordered him to ruin the ones running through time.  She made him able to know the time gates and where to locate them.  She kept him in bondage for several years, but at last she set him free to exact her revenge.

“Ahhh!”  Muhamed threw himself to the ground and covered his head.  A line of flame, like from a flame-thrower, shot over his body and struck the nearest skeleton.  The skeleton began to burn, rapidly, but it did not stop moving. “Ahhh…” A great wind followed the flame.  It knocked two off their feet, and caught in a shield where it picked a third off the ground.  It blew long enough to make the skeleton lose its footing, so it tumbled down the rocky ridge and broke to pieces.  But clearly, the wind proved no more effective than the fire, even if the burning skeleton eventually collapsed.

“Elder Stow,” a young woman’s voice called out.

“Just coming to it,” a man answered.

Muhamed dared to lift his head and watch. His eyes got wide, his mouth opened and he gagged on what he saw.  A line, like a stream of light struck skeleton after skeleton.  They did not move, like being blown by the wind.  They did not burn, like the one struck by the fire. They simply crumbled to dust as soon as they were touched by the light.  The dust, or maybe ash, blew away on the wind like nothing ever existed in that place.

“Such power,” he mumbled, before he shut his mouth.  The witch with the raven-black hair came to him.  He feared what she might do, but she surprised him with her words.

“Are you all right?  Are you injured anywhere?”

Muhamed smiled.  “No, praise Allah and his holy prophet.  I escaped with only this scrape.”  He showed his arm where the bloody cut looked like more than a scrape.

The other witch, the one with fire-red hair ran up.  “Lucky we came along,” she said, while the black-haired witch tore his sleeve to get at the wound.

Muhamed nodded, but said nothing as he could not get his eyes off her red hair.  He understood this one, in reality, was a demon creature of fire and light who only appeared as a red-headed human witch.

“Lincoln, help me,” the black-haired witch called, and a man came to help her get Muhamed to sit up.

“I am fine,” Muhamed assured them. “I am just winded by running so far and so fast.” then he quieted while the black-haired witch worked.

Three people came from one direction, riding on big horses.  The men looked like two giants, one white and one black.  The woman between them appeared a beauty with hair as gold as the sun. Two more walked up from a different direction. One old man, who toyed with a box as he walked, and one broad-shouldered young woman who looked strong enough to wrestle one of the giants.

Muhamed knew these were the people the goddess wanted him to ruin.  He had hoped to do that without being found out, but the skeletons had other ideas. The skeletons did not obey him. Instead, some turned on him.  He wondered if that might have been because they lacked the flesh to properly absorb the elixir…  Muhamed looked at the others and shut down those thoughts. He imagined he needed to be extra careful.  The goddess warned him that these people were clever.  It might be best to not talk at all.  He would listen, and maybe learn something of their intentions.

“Elder Stow?”  The white giant named the old man, but his inflection suggested a question.  The old man appeared to be studying a small box.

“There may be more skeletons,” Elder Stow responded.  “But they are some distance away and appear to be headed in the opposite direction.”

“Robert.”  The one with the golden hair got the white giant’s attention.  “This would be as good a place as any to camp. The steep, rocky incline is a defensive help.”

“Decker?” Robert asked the black giant.

“I agree,” he said.  “We will have to watch our rear and have to back-track in the morning to get down below, but we seem to be doing a lot of backtracking lately, so no big deal.”

“On the other hand,” the golden-haired woman said.  “Being on this little hill, our campfire will be seen for miles, unless Elder Stow sets his screen device on invisible mode.”

“No,” Robert said.  “We need to conserve his battery life.  Katie, why don’t you take Decker and see if you can find something to shoot.  Take Boston with you to give warning, in case some of the skeletons decide to double back. Lincoln, Alexis and I will take the horses tonight.  We better tie them.  There isn’t much to graze around here, anyway.  Elder Stow and Sukki, you can get the fire started, if you don’t mind, and if you can find enough to burn. And take our guest…Does he have a name?”

“Muhamed,” he said.  “Muhamed bin Saladi.”  He looked at his arm where Alexis had been working.  “By the prophet,” he mumbled.  The wound not only stopped bleeding, but it looked closed up and completely healed.  He could still feel it a little, where the cut had been, but it otherwise felt as good as new.  Then he had a second thought

“The magic will not wear off in time and the wound come back.”

“Not that kind of magic,” Alexis said with a small smile.  “The healing is real.”

Muhamed nodded and returned the smile, but he told himself again to be careful.  He did not expect help and kindness from the evil people the goddess described.  Saving him and healing him might be a trick to lure him into their wickedness.  He decided his best bet would be to show gratitude and keep silent, feigning ignorance, until he found a way to escape their clutches.  He stood and helped the old man and the strong young woman gather and stack some wood, and he tried to smile.  He mostly smiled.

Elder Stow and Sukki tried to smile in return, though Elder Stow in particular did not appear very good at it. It felt awkward for them all, before Alexis came back and reported that Lincoln and Lockhart had the brushes and would give the horses a good rubdown.

“Sukki,” she said.  “You need to come with me back down the trail.  We need to see if we can find some fodder for the horses to chew on, and maybe something for us to chew on as well.  The camel we shot and chewed on for lunch is already starting to turn in this heat.  We need to find something, in case Decker, Katie, and Boston don’t find anything better to eat.”

Sukki dropped her few sticks beside the circle of stones Elder Stow started building, and she looked up. They all looked up.  A large space ship of some unknown design shot overhead, headed in the same direction they would have to travel in the morning.

“Fudge,” Alexis said, and she really said fudge.

“Not Agdaline, or Anazi,” Sukki knew that much.

“I am not familiar with the markings,” Elder Stow admitted.

Muhamed stared like a man who had never seen or imagined the like.  He barely kept his mouth from screaming.

Avalon 4.8: part 1 of 6 Swords and the Sorcerer

After 1994 BC, The Silk Road, Kairos 54: Thalia-Anath, the Sword.

Recording …

Thalia sat by the fire and worked the stone against her sword.  She shifted her whip back a bit from her hip, and noticed.  Phadon sat across from her and kept staring, as usual.  Thalia never imagined herself to be a woman worth garnering stares.  She was tall enough to be a man; as tall as Doctor Mishka who claimed to be five-feet, eight-inches, and she had the broad shoulders and rather masculine-like muscles in her arms and legs as well.  She supposed her face and rich green eyes might be worth a second look, and maybe her hair, which was such a light blonde it was virtually white.  But most people took the hair to be the hair color of age and imagined she was much older than she actually was.  In any case, a second look did not equate to stares.thalia 3

“What?” she shot at the man.  He blinked and shook his head slightly like one coming out of a trance.

“Sorry,” he said.  “You are the most mysterious woman, Thalia-Anath.  No one knows where you have come from or where you are going.  The way you speak of the gods is the way most speak of friends and family, a mixture of love and blasphemy.  I do not understand why everything for you in this world must be a challenge, like you have to fight and struggle through every day.  And yet; you see life filled with more beauty and speak of things with astounding knowledge and understanding.  Even the priests who fill the land between the rivers and the magi who walk the plateau and fill these mountains are amazed at your wisdom, even when you say things that make no earthly sense. You might be a queen worthy of all reverence, but you choose to live alone in the wilderness, just you and your sword, and your friend Nevah who you claim is a half-hobgoblin.  I do not understand you, Thalia-Anath.”

“Just Thalia, please.” Thalia said.  “Anath and I live in a guarded truce.  She had my son Aqhat killed.”

“You had a son?  I thought you were younger than that.”

“I am.  He was Yadinel’s son, but it was me all the same.  Some day you may hear the story.  The scribes in Ugarit are collecting and writing down all the stories they gather from all the lands, including the stories of Gilgamesh, Etana, and Aqhat.  I hear they are writing down the story of Eliyawe and the death of Tiamut, though they give all the credit to the twins, Marduk or Assur, depending on who is telling the story.”

“Why would they gather stories from all over?”

th phaedon 1“To better understand the gods.  Me and my big Sinuhe mouth put the idea in their heads.”  Thalia sighed before she got serious.  “You would do well to pay attention to how capricious the gods can be.  Your devotion to Bael is honorable, but I doubt he is as devoted to you.”

“Do you see?  How can you disparage the gods in that way?  I do not understand you.”

“But I understand you, Bael-Phadon.  In another world you would be called a paladin, or a knight in shining armor.  You have come on this quest to honor your god, Bael.  You are here to save the damsel in distress that is reported to be held prisoner by the evil sorcerer.  You are driven to help the innocent, the weak and needy because you think that is what your god does and what he wants.  You are a true believer, Bael-Phadon,” Thalia said, and she thought, and far be it from me to dissuade you from that notion.  Bael keeps Asherah from her most evil impulses, and looks the other way when she dallies with Yam, but he honestly does not care about people all that much.

Phadon looked to the bushes when he heard the leaves crackle.  Thalia was not worried.  She knew who it was.  Her elect senses stayed flared in the wilderness.

Nevah came marching in, singing.  “It’s a small world after all.  It’s a small—.”

“Hey!”  Thalia was so sick of that song.  Her Danna-self sang it once by accident more than twelve-hundred-years ago, and she still could not go anywhere in the earth without some of her little ones singing the thing.  It was maddening.

Nevah kindly slapped her hand over her mouth for a second.  “Sorry,” she said, and let her forked tongue out from between her very sharp teeth to lick her dry lips.  Thalia waved her off as Bezos the barbarian came in behind her.

“Nice deer,” Phadon said.

Bezos grinned and dropped it by the fire.  Who knew how far he carried it.  He did not break a sweat.  “Thanks,” he accepted the compliment and grinned as much as his teeth allowed.  He was a six foot Cimmerian from the south end of the Caspian Sea, the same area Nevah came from, and when he got mad, he showed signs of ogre strength, though there was no ogre blood in him.  He was too smart for an ogre, but not by much.

Despite her sharp teeth, forked tongue, two little horns that could not really be seen beneath her hair, and her brown eyes that flashed red in firelight, Nevah appeared human enough, if she kept her nails trimmed.  She was a sweet, kind, loving soul who had the flaw of being sneaky and taking th nevah 4things that did not belong to her.  Calling her a kleptomaniac was a kindness.  Thief was probably more accurate, but she had no problem returning non-edible things.  She said it gave her a chance to borrow it all over again.  To be sure, she was willing to return the edible things as well, but people generally declined.

“I got it with only one arrow,” Nevah said proudly as she unstrung her bow.  “But then a bear wanted to steal it.”

“I chased off the bear,” Bezos said with equal pride in his voice.

“I gave it a hot-foot,” Nevah admitted.  She did not get much magic with her half-hobgoblin blood, but what little she had was fire based—that, and she could understand and communicate in any language, the legacy of her mother, Serpentelle, which helped Thalia immensely at times.

“So all we are missing is the magi,” Thalia said, as she went back to her sword.  Thalia wore the armor of the Kairos, but her weapons were locally made.  She knew she could call on her elf-made and god-blessed weapons any time, but mostly she lived local.

“Anwanna is over by the cliff meditating,” Phadon reported, as he drew his knife to help cut deer steaks for the fire.  Bezos’ knife was dull, and his axe was not much good, though better than his hammer.  The big man was a walking arsenal, but he had nothing to do a proper butcher job.

Phadon had a few weapons as well.  He carried a sword, kept his knife clean and sharp, and walked with a spear like it was a staff.  His armor was made of overlapping plates, like dragon scales.  His helmet had no face or nose guard, but it protected his head well enough when he wore it.

Bezos wore bear skins, and seemed content with that.  Nevah wore fairy weave which she kept stiff for the most part, like a kind of armor.  She imitated Thalia’s short sleeves and fingerless gloves as well as her skirt and leather boots, but in front, she kept her blouse soft and low cut.  She liked showing off her big breasts, which was again, the legacy of her mother.

Nevah built up the fire and looked toward the cliffs.  Thalia put her sword down and stood.  “I’ll fetch him,” she said of Anwanna, even as the man came running into the small clearing.

skeletons 3“Skeletons,” Anwanna yelled.  “They are right behind me, and they are armed.”

Thalia grabbed her sword, and Phadon pulled his.  Nevah grabbed Bezos’ axe, so Bezos reached for his big hammer, which was honestly like a club.  Anwanna raced behind the others and tried to think how he might help.  He was pretty useless in a fight, which is why he gathered the group for this quest.  He knew the sorcerer, his brother, would not fight fair, so he figured he needed all the help he could get.

Phadon and Thalia began to hack off limbs as soon as the skeletons arrived.  Swords were not the best choice against fleshless creatures, but it was all they had.  Nevah’s axe was more effective, until it got stuck in a rib cage.  Bezos and his hammer were the best, and he appeared to be grinning the whole time he smashed skeletons to pieces.

“This isn’t getting us anywhere,” Nevah shouted.

“There are too many of them,” Phadon admitted.

Thalia said nothing.  She picked up one of the new sticks Nevah put on the fire.  It was only lit at the end, but she waved it and the skeletons near her backed up to stay clear of the flames.  Phadon saw and imitated her actions.

“Nevah, in the middle.  Give them hot feet,” Thalia commanded.  “Bezos, back us up and smash any that break through.”  She considered saying something to Anwanna, but he was busy mumbling some incantation.  Thalia hoped it was a good one.  “Drive them to the cliff.”

Nevah gave it all she had and set a couple of skeletons on fire.  She felt lucky they did not set the forest on fire.

“Spread out to corral them to the edge,” Thalia shouted, and she and Phadon tried to give the skeletons no place to escape.  One by one, the skeletons began to fall over the edge, or they tripped, or they were accidentally pushed by the ones backing up.  Bezos did not get many chances to smash strays, and he looked about ready to complain when Anwanna finished his chanting.th wizard 5

A great wind rose up.  It made the bones rattle, but mostly it flowed right through the skeletons even as it put the fires out.

“Great,” Thalia said, but with her sword, Phadon’s sword, and Bezos’ hammer, they managed to drive the last of the skeletons over the edge.  “Get down,” Thalia shouted over the rising wind.

“Find something to hold on to,” Phadon added.

“My hair,” Nevah complained, as she found herself partly crushed under the weight of Bezos.

“Help.”  Anwanna started to lift off the ground, lifted by the very wind he created.

“Damn,” Thalia said.  She grabbed the roots of the bush with one hand and her whip with the other.  She snapped it around Anwanna’s ankle as he flew past, headed straight toward the cliff edge.  She had to hold on and pray, but in only a moment, the wind stopped, utterly.  Anwanna fell hard on to the lip of the cliff.  Thalia pulled him back from the edge.  Phadon breathed, and Nevah shoved Bezos off her legs.

Thalia rolled up her whip and snapped it back to her side while Nevah and Phadon peeked over the cliff edge.  “Gone,” Phadon said.

“They got all busted up,” Nevah happily reported.  “That is a tall cliff.  They won’t be back.”

Thalia nodded.  “Quote the raven, Nevah-more.”

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.

hween clown zombie