Avalon 6.8 Archidamian War’s End, part 5 of 6

Labium and his elf troop had been secretly ferrying out humans from the village since they took up their watch. They doubled their efforts as soon as they knew Ophelia was on the way.  They feared the intervention of the gods and imagined there might not be a village when it was over.

Taking people to safety did not always go well.  In one house, a husband, wife, and two children cowered in their hut-like dwelling. They seemed typically human when Labium spoke.

“Friend.  Friend.  Do you want to get to safety?”

“Yes,” the man said, a bit loudly. “Where are you?”

“I am here, but I am invisible.  I am an elf.”

The man stopped.  The woman looked at her husband, and he said, “Can you guarantee our safety?”

“If you follow my instructions and keep very quiet, I can lead you to safety outside the village.  I am not a god to guarantee anything, but we have a good chance to get away from the monsters, if you stay quiet.”

“We will,” the woman promised.

“I will show myself.  Not a sound.  Not a peep.”

“I understand,” the man whispered.

Labium became visible, and the woman took one look and screamed as loud as she could, and it seemed she would never stop screaming.  Labium went invisible again.  Two Wolv came in from the street, and Labium slipped out behind them.  After a moment, the screaming subsided.  Labium heard weeping with his good elf ears, and the Wolv came back out from the hut with the two children, whom they killed and ate.

In another case, a young elf maid led two parents and their teenaged son to the corner of an alley.  She held them there because two Wolv were on the street, and until they moved, she could not safely bring the people across the back of the alley.  She hushed them again and again.  Finally, the boy got bored.

“Dad,” he said, nice and loud, and touched his father on the shoulder.

The man’s fear came out of his mouth, really loud.  “We are going to get caught.”

The elf maid saw the Wolv coming down the alley.  She quickly shoved the nice woman into the house there and shut the door. Then she ran, much faster than the Wolv could catch her.  Sadly, she heard the nice woman come right back out of the house.

“What ya pushing for?”  She was nice, but not smart.  Needless to say, that family did not live long.

Far and away, most of the people in that village made it to safety.  Most of those headed for Corinth.  They got off the road when the dwarfs and travelers approached.  Few spoke.  No one pointed.  Most just stared.

A few villagers headed for Sidius, some because they had relatives there.  When they found the army coming to Isthmia, they wept and cried, believing the army would save them from the monsters.  In that moment, they could not have cared less if they were Athenians or Spartans.  Too many of their friends and neighbors had already died.

“Nicias,” Ophelia shouted, though the man was not far away.  “You need to set an escort to take these people to Sidius, to find shelter.”

“Just coming to that,” Nicias responded gruffly, and Ophelia changed her tone.

“Of course.  My apologies.  You are the general here.  You will do what is best.”

Nicias eyed her and nodded.

“Trouble?” Styphon stepped up.

Ophelia shook her head.  “I am a Spartan woman, but I must remember I am still dealing with Athenians.  I should respect the men, that they know what they are doing.”

Styphon nodded, and Nicias came up as Styphon stood up for her.  “We would have suffered much worse if you had not directed us in the battle.”  Nicias scratched his beard, but nodded a little. “I don’t know how you became friends with the spirits of the earth, but that has helped greatly.  You also seem to know about these space aliens, as you call them, and the story isn’t finished yet.  I am willing to follow your lead.”

“As am I,” Nicias admitted.

Ophelia accepted that.  “Just please be gracious to me.  When I deal with flighty fairies, or trickster elves, or pig-headed, stubborn dwarfs, I often have to be hard and harsh.  I do not need to turn that same attitude on you men, stubborn as you can be.”  She smiled, and the men smiled a little with her.  “Just forgive me and remind me if I overstep myself. Okay?”

This time, Nicias nodded in earnest. “I think an escort to Sidius for these good people is a fine idea.  I will see to it.”  He walked off, and Ophelia offered Styphon a kiss on the cheek.


Ophelia and the travelers arrived at Isthmia at about the same time.  The little ones guiding the travelers and scouting for the army were good at that sort of timing.

Prissy sat on Ophelia’s shoulder. Labium and Flaves stood beside her as she looked down on the village and the Humanoid transport.  It evidently crushed several houses when it landed, and no one bothered to see what or who might be under there.  Zeuxides and Tellis stood close as well.  Nicias, Styphon, Antiphas and Timocrates stood a couple of steps away so they could see around a tree.

Ophelia opened her arms as the travelers dismounted and began to climb her little hill.  Boston raced into Ophelia’s arms at a speed that made Labium smile and made the men take another look.  Boston appeared human enough.

“Ophelia?” Lincoln shouted up the hill as he walked.

“Yes, Lincoln,” Ophelia shouted back. “Lockhart and Katie, I have some people for you to meet.  Elder Stow, I will need your help.”

“You are older,” Boston said as she stepped back.  “Your hair is all gray, and short, like mine used to be.”

“I am forty-six, I think.  My youngest son is eleven.  My eldest son is seventeen. My daughter should be fourteen. She was ten when I went into captivity in Athens.  It is a long story.”

By then, Bergeron had pushed to the front.  He went to one knee and spouted his report.  “We have brought your traveler friends here safely.  We had to fight to protect them, especially the women, but we knew you would not want to see them hurt…” his voice trailed off.  He looked at the dirt.  He dared not say more.  Even with overwhelming odds, and mostly injured Wolv, a dozen dwarfs died.

Ophelia put her hands to her hips and tapped her foot.  “Prissy. You should visit with Boston’s shoulder.”

“Yes, Mum,” Prissy said.  “Thank you, Mum.”  She quickly vacated Ophelia’s shoulder before steam started coming out of Ophelia’s ears.  Ophelia tapped her foot and let Bergeron build up a good head of sweat before she said, “Thank you,” She growled, and turned away, and never smiled until she spoke to the others.  “Lockhart and Katie.  Please meet my friends.”  She introduced the couple to the commanders present even as she noticed an older woman and a young woman hugging Millie and Evan.

“Athenians and Spartans working together,” Katie remarked without explanation.

“Given the circumstances,” Styphon said. “We are all Greeks.”

“We worked hard to make a peace that would last,” Nicias added.

Katie did not respond, but the look on her face suggested she did not believe it would last.

Ophelia took charge then and began giving orders.  She moved the Spartans and their allies to the south, behind the dwarfs.  She kept the Athenians and their allies on the north, and moved the Elves in front of them, just in case.  “Yes,” she said.  “They know we are here, and are watching.”  She did not need to tell them that given Humanoid technology, they no doubt tracked them all the way through the wilderness.

“Katie and Decker, take opposite sides of the little hill here.  Zeuxides, open your blanket.”  The man did. There were three Humanoid heads in the blanket.  “Bergeron. Add your three Humanoid heads to the pile.  Lockhart and Lincoln, get the binoculars and direct things from here.  Millie, Evan, Sukki, Boston and Alexis, stay here with mother and my lovely daughter, Nyssa.”

“Ready,” Elder Stow said.  Ophelia nodded.

“Zeuxides,” she said, and the man picked up the blanket full of heads.  “Do not follow us, no matter what,” Ophelia told Styphon, Nicias and Lockhart.  She started down the hill toward the village, with Elder Stow beside her.  Zeuxides followed, and another young man appeared on her other side—a most handsome man. Ophelia squinted before she named the man.  “Proteus.”

The man smiled.  “I can’t ever fool you, mother.”  After several more steps, he added, “So you know, father wants to help.” Ophelia nodded, but she grimaced a bit to imagine what the god, Poseidon, might consider help.

Avalon 6.8 Archidamian War’s End, part 2 of 6

Nicias and Styphon got the Athenians and Spartans working together to fortify their position.  Timocrates and Antiphas, the Athenian and Spartan seconds, worked side by side.  Porocleon of Olympia had command of the 167 Spartan allies, members of the Peloponnesian League that had also been held captive in Athens for four years.  Lesycles of Thebes did the same for the Athenian allies who came along for the ride.

Lesycles wanted to kill one in ten Spartans to send the message of what would happen if they did not keep the peace, but Nicias overruled him.  He knew the Spartans would see that as an offense to their pride.  If they gave their word for peace, that should be enough. The decimation of the prisoners would have only angered the Spartans to continue the war.  Maybe that was what Lesycles wanted.  Now, if Ophelia was to be believed, he was glad to have the Spartans standing out front to face the enemy.

Ophelia got left in her tent with the Athenian Tellis and Zeuxides, who had been a good friend of her husband. Zeuxides knew, but Tellis stifled his own shriek when Ophelia called and a man appeared out of thin air, or rather, an elf, pointed ears and all.  Ophelia ignored Tellis.

“Labium, have you had a chance to examine the Humanoid ship?”

“Yes, lady,” Labium said.

“An explorer?  A scout ship?”

“No, lady.  It is a patrol-transport.”

“Damn,” Ophelia swore.

“Trouble?” Zeuxides asked.

“Double trouble,” she answered, before she explained.  “A typical patrol ship will be crewed by nine to fifteen Humanoids.  They patrol the solar system where they are based, and keep watch on whatever colonies or outposts might be in operation.  You might think of them as small ships that watch the coast for enemies or intruders.  A patrol-transport is a bigger ship that can supply colonies with men, equipment or food stuffs.  In a pinch, they can be used to transport troops to an outpost or colony that might be under attack.  They might carry as many as a hundred Wolvs on a short trip.”

Zeuxides whistled.  “If these Wolvs are as formidable as you say, and I do not doubt that, having seen the remains of the night guard—and no dead Wolvs, I might add, though they may have taken their wounded with them—that sounds like a lot to contend with.”

“But that isn’t the worst of it,” Ophelia shouted.  “Patrol ships are not built for long distance travel.  A patrol ship means they have to have come from a nearby star, and only a half-dozen would qualify, I would guess.  Tau Ceti, or maybe Epsilon Eridani.  They would be candidates, about ten to twelve light years away.  That means we have a humanoid house staking a claim in our back yard.”

“When you say star, you mean…” Tellis looked up at the roof of the tent, swallowed and pointed… “Star.”

“What do you mean, house?” Zeuxides asked a question Ophelia could at least try to answer.

“Think of the Humanoid Empire like Greece, but with an emperor—a kind of high king, like Agamemnon was in the Trojan War.  The houses are like cities, all but independent, but sworn in allegiance back and forth across the stars.”

“Like the cities sworn to Athens?” Tellis asked, and thought to add, “Or Sparta.”

“More medieval,” Ophelia said. “More complicated,” she clarified, since the men would have no way of knowing what medieval meant.  “Like Megara is pledged to Athens in one way, has long term economic ties to Thebes, has other contracts with Corinth about shipping, and a long friendship with Argos.  So, when Corinth attacks Argo and Athens comes to the aid of Argo, but Thebes wants to stay out of it, which way does Megara go?”

“Complicated,” Zeuxides got the gist of it.

“So, we have a house in our back yard, and you can be sure they are looking at our world as a world to feast on.”

“But what about us?” Tellis understood something.  “We are living here.”

“They bring tens of thousands of Wolvs here, and those humans, Spartans and Athenians, that don’t get eaten would become their slaves.  We need to discourage that idea from the beginning.”  Ophelia brushed everything off the table in the tent and got out a map of the area.  “Labium. Show me on this map, where they are and how many, as best as you know and what house?”

“House of Lachkar,” Labium said, as he stepped up to examine the map.  “Isthmia?” Labium pointed and asked.

Ophelia nodded.  “Corinth is the big spot.  We are about here, just on the isthmus, down from Sidius.  This is Isthmia in the middle between Corinth and us.”

“They are in Isthmia.”  Labium tapped the map.  He paused to catch the drool that tried to slide out of his oversized lower lip.  “Best guess is ten Humanoids and about fifty Wolvs in the village.  They have the villagers completely cowered, but have not eaten many yet.  Less than a quarter league from here are twenty more Wolvs under three Humanoids. They are scouting the area, examining the flora and fauna, and specifically looking for military information. Your group of roughly eight hundred affords them a perfect opportunity for testing.”

“Tough luck on us.” Ophelia said, and stopped when she had a sudden thought.  “Fifty, plus ten Wolvs still on the ship, plus twenty here, makes eighty. Did they explore the isthmus in the other direction, like towards Corinth?”

“I was just coming to that.” Labium sipped.  “Twenty more, with three more Humanoids are headed in that direction.”

“Damn,” Ophelia spouted.  “Who do we have down there?  Bergeron,” she commanded, and a dwarf deked out for battle appeared in their midst.

“What?  What?”  Bergeron appeared confused for a moment.  “Labium,” he acknowledged the elf before he turned to Ophelia.  “No, before you speak.  We got our eyes on the Wolv and a plan to turn them back before they get to the city.”

“You will do no such thing.  The humans have to defend themselves.  I won’t have any of your people killed defending the human race.”

Zeuxides stepped up and spoke. “Corinth has stout walls and a strong garrison.”

Ophelia shook her head.  “Wolv weapons will make holes in the wall and they will run right in.  As for the garrison, nothing disarms a man faster than panic.  Better they check the city and decide to not try it without reinforcements.  They could eat Corinth in a couple of days of feasting.”

“So, what can we do?”  Bergeron sounded put off by her refusal to let them fight.

“Keep me apprised of developments. If it looks like they are going to test the city, let me know.  We will decide what to do when that time comes.”

Bergeron looked mollified a little. She did not say when that time came that she would not let the dwarfs fight.

“And my people?” Labium asked.

“Keep an eye on Isthmia and on that ship, and please ask Prissy to come see me.”  She clapped her hands and Bergeron vanished.

“Miss Prissy is here?” Zeuxides brightened.

“Miss Priscilla and her whole troop have been following since Athens, and trying to hide,” Ophelia said, though her eyes stayed on the map.

“I told her it wouldn’t work, that you would know.”  Labium grinned.

Ophelia smiled for the elf.  “And you were right.  Thank you for all you do.”  She clapped.  Labium bowed as he vanished.

“Miss Prissy?” Tellis asked that much before two lights zoomed into the room.  One landed on Ophelia’s shoulder, though being a married woman, Ophelia had her hair cut short, so she had no locks for Priscilla to hide in.  The other light landed on the map.”

“Flaves, old man,” Zeuxides smiled for the fairy who was Prissy’s husband.

“Zeuxides, young man,” the fairy responded.  “Are you ready to go to war?”

“Always,” Zeuxides grinned, before Ophelia interrupted.

“Tellis.  Stay.”

Zeuxides grabbed the man before he could run out of the tent, screaming.  The elf he could accept.  If he ignored the lip and the pointed ears, he looked human enough.  The dwarf he could pretend was a short, stout man with an extra-long, untrimmed beard.  Fairies, however, became too much.  His eyes stayed wide as he stared at Flaves.

“Please get big.  That might help our friend here,” Ophelia asked Flaves.

“Me too?” Prissy said in her ear.

“Yes, please.”

In a moment, a very fine man dressed in armor appeared beside a most beautiful woman, one who appeared a bit shy. Ophelia watched Tellis take a breath and let it out slowly, as she introduced them.  “Flaves and Priscilla, this is Tellis, Athenian from Marathon.”

Flaves bowed and Priscilla curtseyed because they were sensitive enough to know a handshake would have been too much for the man.

“G-good to meet you,” Tellis stuttered.

“So, tell me about the twenty Wolvs and three humanoids not far from here,” Ophelia said, having little patience for formalities.

“Of course,” Flaves said, and pointed at the map.  “They have a physician who took the captive men and ran some tests?”  He did not sound certain about the phrase, but Ophelia nodded.  “I don’t know what he tested for, but he gave most of them to the Wolvs for lunch, after separating some prime pieces for the Humanoids.  They ate it all raw.  No one built a fire.”

“And their conversation?”

“They want to run more tests, and one is keen on testing the military strength you show.  He figured out in the wilderness, away from the settlements, we are fair game.  That was how he talked about you humans, as game.”

“Well,” Zeuxides said, plenty loud. “If they are hunters, they will not find us rabbits.  We will be like the bear and turn on them to their end.  Isn’t that right, Athenian?”

Tellis nodded, but he did not look at all sure.

“Zeuxides,” Ophelia said.  “Fetch Styphon and send for Antiphas and Porocleon. Tellis, fetch Nicias and send for Timocrates and Lesycles.  We need to share what we have discovered.”

“Yes,” Tellis said, as the two ran off.

“You should know,” Flaves said to Ophelia.  “The travelers from Avalon are in Corinth, and so is the witch and her three cowboys.”

“Typical,” Ophelia said.  “When it rains, it pours.”  She let out something between a scream and a growl and stomped back into the tent.

Avalon 6.8 Archidamian War’s End, part 1 of 6

After 467 BC, Attica. Kairos lifetime 80: Ophelia, Spartan Princess

Recording …

A man screamed.  It came from the perimeter.  One man, and then several men began shouting, “To Arms!  To Arms!”  The camp scrambled.

The Spartan commander, Styphon, and the Athenian general, Nicias, both jumped to their feet and looked to the tent door.  Ophelia shouted.

“Wait.  See what it is first.  Panic and rash decisions help no one.”

Styphon growled.

Nicias looked again at the supper on the table.

Shortly, Timocrates, Nicias’ number two, and Antiphas the Spartan came to the door.  Timocrates reported.

“They came from the coastal area. No idea who.  Several men are dead, torn up, I don’t know how or from what. The sergeants are counting their charges to see if any are missing.”

Antiphas the Spartan spoke. “Zeuxides walked near the area. He claims he saw a wolf, but one standing on its hind legs, and bigger than any wolf he ever saw.”

“Damn!” Ophelia stood and threw her cloth to the table.  “Lord Nicias. We are less than a day from the border of the Peloponnesian League, but you better give the Spartans and the others their weapons now, if you want to survive this.”

Nicias shook his head slightly.  “I don’t know.  The Ecclesia charged me to see the prisoners safely out of Athenian land.”

“You know what we are facing?” Styphon asked, ignoring the general.

“I have a good guess.  I fear that I do know, and that is saying something, because you know I fear no man nor beast,” Ophelia responded.  “Timocrates, can you take us to the place so we can examine the evidence?”

Timocrates glanced at his general who appeared to nod, slightly.  “Follow me,” he said.

General Nicias had five hundred Athenians to escort two hundred and seventy-three soldiers of the Peloponnesian League to their own territory, one hundred and six of whom were Spartiates—Spartan warriors of the highest class.  Some did not survive four years of captivity, after the surrender at Sphacteria, though they had been treated well, and fed during those four years. Rightly or wrongly, the men credited Ophelia, a fellow prisoner, with the humane way they were treated and survived captivity, being treated like prisoners of war, and hostages, not like criminals.  They knew that being a woman, the Athenians wanted to release her, but being a Spartan woman, she refused.  She insisted on sharing the hardship of her people, even though she had a ten-year-old daughter back home.  Well, she had two older sisters to count on, and a husband who died an honorable and glorious death on Sphacteria.  Helen should be a fine young woman of fourteen by now.

When Ophelia and the men arrived, they found Zeuxides and the Athenian Tellis of Marathon waiting.  They looked uncertain.  Ophelia bent down to the shredded body of the guard.  She did not have to examine much before she swore again.

“Damn.  Wolvs.”  Ophelia called to her armor and weapons, and they came out of the Second Heavens and replaced the dress she wore.  No one blinked.  They had all seen her do that before.  “Nicias, you better arm the Spartans, even if it is a day early.  It may be a scouting party from a small ship, but we cannot count on that.”

“What are Wolvs?” Styphon asked.

“Like the name, but intelligent as a man, and big.  They have weapons of fire and explosions.”  She pointed to the burn marks on the body.  “They travel in ships that fly in the air the way our ships travel on water.  And even without weapons, they have claws and teeth that can shred you.  In fact, they seem to delight in shredding things like soft, human flesh.”

“Timocrates,” Nicias pointed at his number two.  “Arm the Spartans.”  Antiphas went with him to see it done.

“I haven’t even said the worst part yet,” Ophelia added, regaining everyone’s attention.  “The Wolv are just soldiers.  They answer to Humanoid commanders.  The Humanoids look like us, but have very sharp teeth.  They like to eat humans, raw.  They won’t bother to cook us first.”

“Wonderful,” Zeuxides said.  The Spartan took it like a challenge.


Evan explained how they came this way before, in the opposite direction.  “The time gate stood in the middle of a shallow river well north of Rome…”

“In the village of Pisa,” Millie interrupted.  “The Arno, I believe.”

“It was fairly shallow, and nearly dry,” Evan continued.  “We swam out in the muddy water, and did not know what to expect on the other side.” He paused to see if Millie wanted to add anything.  She shook her head.  “We landed in the Aegean, somewhere off the coast of Chios.  I thought we would surely drown.”

“Last time we moved from water to water,” Lincoln said, thinking a minute.  “That seems to be the way it works.  If the gate is in the water, the exit gate will be as well.  But, in any case, we moved from river to river, but that was before we had the horses.”

“So, what happened?” Alexis asked Millie.

“We got rescued,” Millie said, with a smile.

“We got picked up by a ship out from Rhodes, headed for Piraeus harbor and Athens.  That took a week, and the winds were favorable the whole time. Odd, to think of it.  The captain and crew acted like they picked up all of us in Chios, and our passage got paid.  That is very odd, now that I think about it.”

“What do you mean, we?” Alexis asked.

Millie answered.  “We traveled with a very kind older woman, Doris, and her granddaughter, Nyssa.  They gave us a cabin, where we ate all out meals; but I did not even know such ancient ships actually had cabins.”

“They don’t,” Lincoln said, as he got out the database to read.

“Another woman, one that Nyssa called Aunt Galatea was there, too.  But we only saw her on a couple of days,” Millie finished.  “I guess she kept mostly to herself.”

“We exited this zone around Olympia, where we came in,” Evan also finished, and added, “What?” because Lincoln appeared to be reading something interesting.

“Doris is Amphitrite’s mother. Nyssa is her daughter.  Galatea is her sister, one of the ninety-nine.”

“Amphitrite?” Evan asked.  He knew the name, even if Millie did not know it off hand.

“The Kairos,” Lincoln said, and Evan nodded, like he should have guessed.

“Sea goddesses,” Alexis told Millie, and a light seemed to go off in her head.

“Poseidon is Nyssa’s father,” Lincoln said.

“Neptune,” Evan told Millie.  “You would know her mother as Salacia.”

Millie nodded.  “Amphitrite is Salacia, and the Kairos.”

“And a wonderful woman, from what little I’ve seen of her,” Alexis added.

“Walk ‘em,” Katie spoke back to the four following.  She slipped off the back of Lockhart’s horse, and he also got down.  Sukki, who had taken to riding beside the mother and father of the group, also dismounted, but looked ahead.  Boston was returning from out front, having ridden out to check the lay of the land, and she had her amulet out, no doubt checking their direction.

“Corinth is up ahead.  Walking distance,” Boston reported.  “My guess is the Kairos is at the other end of the isthmus, on our side of the next big city, but not far from a village.”

Decker rode up in time to hear Katie name the village.  “The village is probably Isthmia, or whatever they call it in this time period, or maybe Sidius.”

“That’s it,” Decker said.  “The Kairos is insidious.”

“Ha, ha,” Boston spoke without laughing.

Elder Stow came in with an apology. “I am sorry, my mother.  The shrine of Artemis is no longer in the woods, and its wilderness location now appears to be farm fields just outside the city walls.”

“That’s okay,” Katie responded.  “I didn’t expect it to still be there after all this time.”  She glanced up at the sky and let out a little sigh for Artie, the android that Amphitrite made human, and that she and Lockhart adopted before they were even officially married.  She changed the subject as Lincoln, Alexis, Evan and Millie walked up.  “I am more unhappy that we came right through Nemea and did not get one whiff of a lion in the neighborhood.”

“The Nemean lion would be Hercules. That would have been ages ago, wouldn’t it?” Evan asked.

“We met him,” Lincoln whispered, to Evan’s surprise, but his whisper got over drowned out by Lockhart’s volume.

“Lunch.”  He shouted before he said more softly to Katie, as people turned to first take care of their horses.  “I want to get a meal in before we get to the city.  Even I can see that herd of sheep down that hill there.  That means we are too close to habitation to even technically be in the wilderness.”

Katie nodded.  “I wonder if your horse-thief’s inn is still there, in the city.”

Lockhart rolled his eyes.

When they were seated by the fire, Boston looked again at her amulet.  “The Kairos was moving in our direction,” she said.  “But she appears to have stopped for some reason.”

“We are too far away for a look,” Decker said.

“Indeed,” Elder Stow said, with a look at his scanner.

“Let’s just get through Corinth first,” Lockhart said.

“I’m sure there is a good reason,” Katie said, at about the same time.

“Who can understand the mind of the gods,” Millie said, still thinking about her trip aboard that ship.

“Exactly,” Boston and Sukki said together, but Boston said it louder.