Elect II—1 Summer Fun, part 1 of 3

The phone rang.

Emily’s younger brother, Tyler was hiding in the basement.  Dad was outside cutting the grass because Tyler was hiding in the basement.  Mom was outside talking to the neighbor to avoid any serious work in the garden.  All was right with the world, Emily thought.  She could get a short nap if the phone would just stop ringing.  She had not been sleeping well.  Too many nightmares about Pierce.

The phone rang.

She loved Pierce, as much as she ever loved anyone.  She did not care if he was a genetically engineered super soldier, or what.  She loved him and he loved her, and that was enough.  Life was good, but then he got activated.  He was ordered to kill every student at New Jersey State University.  She died when she killed him.  It felt like stabbing a knife into her own heart.

The phone rang.

Emily did not want to be one of the elect anymore.  She did not want to be one in a million.  She did not want to be the woman warrior, empowered to defend home and community.  Whoever came up with that idea could stuff it.  Lisa said she was as strong as any man with an uncanny ability to fight with or without weapons.  She was hard to injure, quick to heal, coordinated, agile, graceful…  Emily just wanted to be Emily, not some freakish superhero.

The phone rang.

Okay, back at New Jersey State in Trenton, Detective Lisa and Latasha, a high school sophomore, were also elect.  That made three women warriors in one little city.  The odds against that were astronomical, but at least for Emily it was nice not being the only one in town.  At that moment, what felt more important was she would not feel too guilty about abandoning the city if she decided not to go back to school.

The phone rang.

How could she go back?  She would see Pierce everywhere she looked.  That was what her dreams were telling her.  That was what her nightmares were vividly pointing out.  Stay home.  There are good nursing schools in Ohio.  But, “Damn it!”  She promised Pierce she would go back and finish at New Jersey State.  She promised that right before she killed him.

The phone rang and someone had the nerve to pick it up.

“Emily!”  It was Mom.  Emily tumbled off the couch and walked grumpily to the kitchen.  “I think it is one of your friends from college.”  Mom smiled and held out the phone.

Emily nodded.  “Hello?”

“Emily!  Are you all right?  I have been worried sick about you.”  It was Amina, her own personal Sybil.

“You’re the seer,” Emily had no patience at the moment.  “You’re the one who sees things no one else can see.  You tell me.”

“The dreams.  You have been having terrible nightmares.”

Emily sighed.  She had not told anyone about her dreams.  The girl could truly see things.  Amina was a bit of a freak herself.  “Yes, I’ve been having dreams, but I think it is just my subconscious trying to talk some sense into me.”

“No, you must not listen.  It isn’t you dreaming.”

Emily paused before she asked, “What do you mean?”

“You are being attacked.  I have discussed it with Mindy.  She is looking for possible causes, what it might be that is attacking you.”

Emily swallowed.  “Attacked?”  If that was true, her attacker knew just where she was weak and vulnerable.  It was preying on her guilt and broken heart over Pierce and telling her not to go back to school in Trenton.

ac-amina-4“We are coming.  We will all be there on Saturday.  Melissa is finishing her summer classes and working on a spell of protection.  Jessica is anxious to find what it is and is harping on poor Mindy to identify it.  Maria will meet them at Newark airport.  She says she has been researching in her pharmacology books and may have something to help you sleep without remembering your dreams.

“And you?”

“Mindy will come up from Colombia, and I will come down from Chicago.”

“Your father is letting you go?  I thought he was going to keep you under lock and key until you were twenty-one and married.”  Amina was born in Chicago, but her family was from Morocco and strict beyond reason.

There was a pause this time on the other end before Amina spoke.  “My family knows I have the gift.  I told them it was a matter of life and death.”

“And is it?  A matter of life and death, I mean.”

This time the pause stretched out into an uncomfortable silence and Emily felt the chills of that silence in the back of her neck.  “I told my father I am going to go on a date this year,” Amina said.  “Meanwhile, we will all be there Saturday.  Please tell your mother not to make a fuss.”

“That will be like telling water not to be wet.”

“Try to rest, only don’t listen to your dreams, my queen.”

Amina hung up, and Emily griped.  Being elect made her some kind of Amazon queen to these women.  That was why at times they referred to Amina as the Sybil—the seer—and Amina referred to Emily as her queen.  Emily shook her head.  Despite the terribly prejudiced point of view, Emily’s picture of an Amazon was some big, weight-lifting, man hating woman with a moustache.  She could not help thinking that way, and that was so not her.  She went back to her couch.

“Oh, honey.  Don’t you have to go to work today?”  Emily’s mother began to dust around her.

“No,” Emily said.  “A day without French fries is like a day with sunshine.  By the way, Jessica, Melissa, Maria, Mindy and Amina are all coming here for a visit.  They will be here Saturday, and Amina said don’t make a fuss.”

Emily’s mother quickly calculated and looked at the clock on the mantle.  “I just have time to get some new bedding.”  She whipped off her gardening hat as she walked briskly to the basement door.  She shouted down the stairs.  “Tyler, as long as you are down there, pull out the bed from the convertible.”

Emily heard Tyler shout back.  “Is Aunt Matilda and the freak parade coming?”  Mother shut the door without answering.  She picked up her purse, paused by the mirror in the front hall and left.  Emily lay back on the couch and thought, at last!  Now she could get that nap, only now she could not get her eyes to close.  The dreams were bad enough when she thought they were her own, but the idea that someone or something was getting into her head and attacking her in her sleep made the chill return to the back of her neck.  The worst part of it was, given all she had seen and been through last year—her freshman year at New Jersey State, she did not doubt for one second that such a thing was possible.  Heck, if Amina said it, it was a virtual certainty, in which case she imagined she might never sleep again.

###

ab-fast-foodDad had to go into work Saturday morning.  The overtime was good, but that meant he could not pick up the girls.  Mom was too busy making beds, putting out flowers and checking the cookie supply to drive.  Emily was going to have to do it herself, but even as she got in the car, her manager called.

“I know you need the week off for police work.  You know me, cooperating with the police is my first choice, but I need you.  Can you come in for the morning shift?  Paul and Debbie both called out, but Alesandra will be in at two.  Please?”

What could Emily do?  As tired as she was, she needed the money.  Besides, she was not too sure about navigating the airport traffic lanes in her current condition.  Flipping burgers or running a register designed for idiots should not be a problem.  She called officer Marion.  The woman was instrumental in setting up department seven in the Columbus police force to help her stop an outbreak of vampires last Christmas.  At times, she felt like Emily’s own shadow, and Emily thought it was only fair to give the woman something to do.

###

ac-jessica-5Jessica was the first one off the plane from Newark, and not surprised to find a police officer waiting for them.  The woman looked about Detective Lisa’s age, around thirty-five or so.

“Where is Emily?”  Maria asked.  They had a half-hour wait for Amina to arrive from Chicago.

“Called in to work,” Mindy answered.  She had gotten there an hour earlier and spent most of that time sipping her latte, going in and out of the bathroom, fiddling with her long red hair and not talking.  She heard about the vampires, but offered little in return.

“Gee, Detective Lisa never offered us a ride in a police van,” Jessica said.

“I talked to your detective friend,” Marion said.  “She seemed to think if you are all gathering here, there must be something going on.”

“She is a detective.”  Jessica shrugged it off.  “Naturally suspicious.”

“So am I.”  Marion treated them to coffee and tea and then made them sit in a quiet corner.  “As I explained to Mindy, Captain Parker set up department seven last Christmas to help Emily and Anna Lee with the vampires.”

“Anna Lee?”  Melissa looked at her friends.

“Elect from New York City,” Maria explained quietly and Melissa nodded.

“Now, whenever Emily is in town, my job is to keep an eye on her.”  Marion hardly took a breath.  “I heard some of what you did at school last year.  I am sure you can still probably surprise me about things that a year ago I would have said are not real and you are mad, but I need to know what is going on or I won’t be of any use.  Besides, Lieutenant Anthony does not like surprises, so talk.”  The women looked at each other, but said nothing.

“Which one of you is in charge when Emily is not around?”  Marion tried again.

Melissa and Mindy spoke together.  “Jessica.”  But Jessica spoke otherwise.

“Maria.”

Maria shook her head.  “I am going to be a doctor.  The doctor is never in charge.”  She turned to Officer Marion.  “Jessica,” she said, emphatically.

“I don’t want to be in charge,” Jessica protested.

“That is just what Emily says,” Maria responded.

“Hey!”  Marion regained their attention.  “So Jessica, what is going on.”  Jessica just looked at Mindy who nodded to the look and finally opened up.

“I’ve narrowed it down to either ghouls or a bogyman.  According to my reading, though, it seems to me ghouls affect the vision and daydreams more than regular dreams.  Bogymen are the ones who turn night dreams into nightmares.”

ab-bogy“A boogyman?”  Marion had to ask.

“Bogyman.  Like Nightmare on Elm Street if you ever saw that movie,” Mindy responded.  From the look on Marion’s face it appeared she had seen the movie.  “Emily is having bad dreams,” Mindy offered.

Marion took a deep breath and her imagination almost took over.  She thought it wise to turn to Maria and change the subject.  “So you are going to medical school?”

“I haven’t applied yet.  I’m only a sophomore.  We all are, but that is the plan.”  Maria sipped her coffee.

“And you are in charge when Emily is absent?”

“Apparently,” Jessica said with a frown.  “And despite the fact that I am the blonde one.”

“You are going into ROTC with Emily,” Maria pointed out.  “You are going to be an officer.  And besides, you are the business major,” as if that had anything to do with it.

“Antiquities,” Mindy interrupted and offered her own major.  “The research information in Columbia is slim, but did you know New Jersey State has one of the biggest collections of old books, parchments, scrolls including papyrus and fragments in North America.  There are clay tablets at the school from Byblos, Nineveh, Babylon, and dating all the way back to Sumeria.  It is all such fascinating stuff.  Professor Papadopoulos—.”

“I am sure it is fascinating,” Jessica interrupted and Mindy quieted.

“And what about you?”  Officer Marion turned to Melissa who had said only that one peep to Maria about the Chinese woman from New York.  “What is your part in all of this?”

Melissa spoke quietly and in a very shy and unassuming manner.  “I’m the witch.”

Marion widened her eyes for a second before she appeared to shrug with those eyes.  “Did you think maybe a witch is giving Emily the nightmares?”

Jessica shook her head.  “Amina said whatever it is, it isn’t human.”

“Amina?”

“The one we are waiting for,” Maria spoke up.

“Our seer,” Jessica said.

“Our Sybil,” Mindy said.

“Sybil?”

“Amazon term,” Mindy explained.  “Amina says we are Emily’s Amazon tribe since she is…special.”  Jessica stared at her again.

“We think of it more like a club,” Maria said.  “You could be like an affiliate member.”

“Amazons,” Marion mused as the announcement blared over the speakers that Amina’s plane was at the gate.  Marion wanted to see this so-called seer, and while she waited she changed her mind.  Life still had plenty of stuff that could surprise her.

ac-amina-a1Amina had short cropped hair that cupped her face nicely and set off her deep set dark eyes.  Her hair was black, like Emily, but her skin looked extremely well-tanned, like she spent every day in the tanning salon.  When she got close and began to hug each girl in turn, Marion realized that this was the girl’s natural skin color.

Amina hugged Marion too, though they had never met, and she spoke.  “My family came here from Morocco.  I am glad the others explained things to you.  That saves me a lot of trouble.”

Marion turned to Jessica as they left the airport.  “Your seer?”

“Sybil,” Jessica nodded.  “It’s her job.”

The Elect 1, part 2 of 4: Puzzle Pieces

Everyone gathered in the Amazon lounge Saturday morning to discuss what needed to be done. Three horrific murders were not things that made anyone comfortable.

“But shouldn’t we call the police?” Tom, not the swiftest member of the football team, immediately asked when he got told.

Amina came in and that surprised Emily even if Maria did not appear surprised. After the introductions and noting that Amina’s room was on the third floor, Amina spoke up.a dorm lounge 4

“So there have been seven murders.” Amina shivered, like she felt each one personally.

“Three,” Jessica corrected.

“The Sybil says seven. I don’t think the police have found them all yet.” Maria bought into everything. Emily felt it prudent to take hold of the conversation.

“The police only know of three, except they have no suspects because they can’t figure out what is killing these girls. They have asked us to keep our eyes and ears open.” Emily assumed the victims were girls but she had neglected to ask. It was possible one or more of the victims were boys.

“Not us,” Jessica spoke up loudly. “You. The police asked you to watch. You asked us to help.”

“Makes sense,” Tom said. When Jessica looked at him oddly, he explained. “I saw what she did to those two men that attacked you. If there is trouble, Wonder Woman is the one I would call.”

“Did I tell you about how she held that flag?” Karyn interrupted.

“Yes,” several people responded.

“But what makes them think it is something on campus?” Owen asked.

`“You’re my Wonder Woman,” Tom said completely off topic.

a dorm lounge 5“That’s better,” Jessica responded and the two of them got lost for a time. Everyone else ignored them.

“On campus makes sense,” Maria started to answer Owen’s question but Owen interrupted again.

“No. It could be someone in town. The campus might just provide an easy group of young women for whatever it is they are doing.”

“They?” Emily asked.

“He, she or it.” Owen responded with a shrug and a look at Maria.

“And what makes you think “they” are doing anything beyond murder?”

“Now that makes sense,” Maria said. “There are several body openings through which fluids might be extracted, the mouth being the most obvious. But whoever is doing it must have a reason for doing it even if it is just for lunch the way Detective Mousad suggested.”

Emily had told them that much. She did not tell them Detective Schromer, that is, Lisa’s response. If it was something like that, she would have been contacted. Emily still had to think about that one.

“Yes, they have to be doing something with the liquid. There must be a reason for it,” Owen agreed with Maria, but sounded hesitant.

Emily nodded. “That is what I felt and so did Lisa.” She would have to say that name a bunch of times to get comfortable saying it. “As for the town thing. No. I am certain it is a campus activity.”a dorm lounge 1

Amina spoke up. “I feel strongly that it must be connected to the university.”

“How can you be so certain?” Owen did not give up.

“I feel it in my gut.” Emily had not told any of the others about being elect or what that might mean. She was not sure what it meant, except the image of Wonder Woman did not sit well in her mind. She knew it meant she ought to follow her intuition, and that kept telling her this was undoubtedly an on campus situation.

“Guts don’t hold up in court,” Karyn pointed out.

“So we need to find out who is killing these students and get the evidence that will hold up in court,” Emily responded. “I appreciate your help, only don’t take any chances. If you find something suspicious, call me. And don’t say anything about this to anyone outside of this room, Jessica.”

“What?” Jessica broke herself away from Tom at the sound of her name. Emily sighed and repeated herself.

###

Sunday noon, the police got a missing person call and Ashish Mousad got rudely taken from his NFL ab nursing home 2Sunday. Lisa picked him up and dragged him down to the nursing home where they endured an hour of nursing assistants giving explanations and excuses.

“Missus Cox was in bed, and then she was gone. I know it sounds impossible, but at one hundred and seven years old there is no way she could have gone anywhere on her own, even if she was ambulatory, which she isn’t.”

“I don’t see any sign of forced entry at the window,” Ashish reported.

“So someone had to come in the front door in the night and take her out without anyone noticing,” Lisa suggested.

“Impossible,” the nurse said, and she explained for the umpteenth time why that would be impossible.

Ashish complained when they got back to the car and out of earshot. “Did we really have to come here for a simple missing person? I know how night crews work in these places. The old woman’s family could have come in with a marching band and taken her out without anyone noticing.”ab nursing home 3

“You know full well for a city this size there are far too many missing persons. We are off the charts, even counting those that turn up dead which is itself an unbelievably high number,” Lisa said. “Anyway, this one is connected. Not directly.” The woman was old, extremely old, and thus far, all of the other victims were young and strong. “It is connected somehow to the university, to something happening there. I know it.”

Ashish surrendered. “I know what it means when you say that. In the long run you are always right.” Ashish pulled out his handkerchief for a good blow. “And here I thought when we became partners it would be my big nose sniffing out my suspicions, not yours.”

“I like your nose,” Lisa said as they left the nursing home behind. “Only what could they hope to get out of a hundred and seven year old woman?”

The Elect, the beginning, post 6 of 8: Given Notice

Friday after supper, Emily and Maria came back from the dining hall and stepped right into the beginning of the Daughter of the Amazon meeting. Both had forgotten.

“Emily. Glad you could make it,” Connie drew them in. Emily glanced at the women and thought fast. There were nine angry, forgettable faces around Connie’s calm exterior. Connie, number ten, collated papers. Mindy, who made it eleven, looked at Emily with puppy-dog eyes that said she needed to go out. One last woman, who made it an even dozen, stared back at Emily with the biggest, darkest, most piercing eyes Emily had ever seen. Emily guessed the woman had some African heritage, but light skinned like an Arab or North African. And those eyes penetrated.ac amazons 1

Fortunately, Maria managed to think fast. “We just came by to say sorry we couldn’t make the first meeting. Library calls.” Maria wiggled her glasses and took the papers Connie held out.

“Things should lighten up after the first couple of weeks,” Emily added, not wanting Maria to be the only liar. They turned toward the door and just got outside before that Arab-looking woman caught them.

“Elect,” she said, and Emily stopped still. The woman spoke directly to her. “You are a called one.”

Maria looked up and saw a frown form on Emily’s face. “That is not for public consumption,” Emily said.

The young woman looked down and then looked away. “I am sorry. My grandmother says I am a seer like her, but I am just learning. I did not mean to speak out of turn.”

“That’s all right,” Maria jumped in and Emily wondered what kind of discipline might be exerted at home to cause the girl to apologize and turn her head away like that. “I’m Maria and this is Emily, of course.”

The young woman looked up and smiled. “I’m Amina. Amina Yousef. Yes, my family moved here from Morocco when I was just a baby.”

a n campus 3“I didn’t ask the question yet,” Emily said, and Amina lost her smile and looked away again.

Maria wrinkled her nose at Emily but talked to Amina. “So, you are going to be the Sybil of the group?” The others looked at her. “I read,” she defended herself. “Every Amazon tribe has a Sybil, a sort of seer-shaman type person.”

“Oh, no.” Amina shook her head. “I won’t be staying with this group. They are not real Amazons. Not like you, Emily.”

Emily did not know how to take that. “Not all Amazons were elect.”

“But the queen was, always. I am sure. These women are not real Amazons. They just hate men.”

“See?” Emily turned on Maria, hoping to get off the topic of being an elect.

“I should be getting back.” Amina turned again to the door.

“Hey, how did you know?” Emily had to ask for a rational explanation.

a student cent 1“You shine so brightly.” That was all Emily was going to get.

After Amina disappeared behind the door and Emily and Maria turned toward the campus center, Maria asked. “So do you think you should wear more make-up against the shine?” Emily had no idea where that quip came from so Maria explained. “Jessica isn’t here, so I said it for her.” Emily nodded, and Maria waited until they got to the campus center door before she asked the real question. “So what is a called one? What did she mean, elect?”

“Something to do with destiny,” Emily said, and then she had to explain what little she knew.

Avalon 2.7: Mindless

            Beltain.  There is an image the travelers don’t want to repeat.  She is rough and bawdy, but still the Kairos on the inside.  She is quick to point out that Katie (the elect) and Boston (the Spell Caster) are not the ones the women are looking for to complete their Amazon council, but then I would guess the great and terrible power lurking on the horizon decided not to lurk anymore.

###

            “What happened?”  Boston shouted her question though the whining sound had subsided.

            The Sybil spoke.  “The other camps are in rebellion.  They think we are saving the best of the meat for ourselves and not being fair in the sharing.  They plan to attack us after the sunset delivery.”

            “Oktapi must be warned,” Katie said as she picked up a nearby spear.  All of the weapons from the future had vanished, and the travelers never noticed.  What is more, their fairy weave clothing was shaped to match the local clothing, and the travelers thought nothing odd about that, either.

            “Oktapi and his people can take care of themselves, but I will tell him when I meet him.  We cannot count on his help or the help of his people.  He would just as soon we all die, but I will ask all the same.”  Beltain tipped her head to Katie.  “Majesty,” she said.

            “Thank you Priestess,” Katie responded before she went into queen mode.  “Lockhart and Lincoln, gather the men, young and old.  Lockhart take the south.  Lincoln take the north.  You must defend the perimeter for as long as you can, but if they break through, fall back to our line.  Star, gather the women.  With our smaller numbers we will hold the reserve post.”

            “The women are not going to like that,” Star admitted.  She already had her bow off her shoulder and an arrow in her hand.

            “The decision has been made,” Katie said in a voice which also said she did not care if the women liked it or not.  “Our place is to defend the children and the fut… fut…”

            “Future.”  Old woman Hannah said it because Katie seemed to have trouble with the word.

            “Hannah.”  Katie turned to the woman.  “Gather the rest of the women in the center with the children.  Your words and stories will have to be strong tonight to keep the children calm and safe.”

            “What about me?”  Boston stepped up.

            “I want you in the center, but not with the children.  It would be best if you could get up high enough to see the edges of the camp.  I do not yet know where your power may be needed, but if you start in the west and we need you in the east it may be too late by the time you get there.”

            “I will find a way,” Boston said.  “But what of the healer?”  

            “Here I am!”  A woman shouted and ran up to them.

            “Alexis, you need to stay near Boston at the center.  If there are wounded, we will bring them to you.  If there are many, we will probably retreat to you in the center.”

            “Pray to the gods there are no wounded,” Alexis said with a glance at Beltain.

            “Amen,” Beltain said, though the word caused the others to start.  It sounded odd.

            “Move it!”  Katie knew they would have to worry about that later.  The sun was already touching the horizon.

###

            Roland looked up when they sky over the camps clouded over.  His good elf ears barely discerned the shrill sound through Elder Stow’s screen.  He was surprised when Gnumma came to stand beside him and the carcass of the beast to look out over the darkening camps.

            “The Djinn.” Gnumma named the cloud.  “But what game is he playing?”

            Roland could only shrug and worry about Boston and his friends.  The greatness of the Genii prevented him from knowing anything for certain and the power was almost unimaginable.  “This one is as close to being one of the gods as a greater spirit can get.”

            “We will find out soon enough,” Gnumma said and walked away again so Roland could finish his grisly work.

            Roland got a steak sizzling on the stone Elder Stow heated with his sonic device.  He was not much of a meat eater and neither was the Gott-Druk.  He imagined the gnome was a strict vegetarian, but they had to eat something and the Elder was also not a big fan of elf crackers.

            “I guess the Djin has no interest in us,” Roland said at last to make conversation.  The gnome was altogether too quiet and Elder Stow seemed glued to looking at his screen device.

            “An elf, a gnome and an old one?  What would he want with us?”

            “Hey!  I’m not that old.”  Elder Stow objected but never looked up.

            “Okay,” Roland surrendered.  “What is so fascinating about your screening device.”

            “Eh?”  The Gott-Druk looked up briefly before he looked again at the box.  “Something came through the screen some time ago.  I have been tracking it.”

            “What?  Where?”  Roland stood and Gnumma sat up straight and looked around.

            “Right here.”  They heard the voice before they saw Mingus walk into the light.

            “Father?” 

            Mingus came to sit and spoke right up.  “I would not say the djin is disinterested in us, exactly.  He covered all the camps but just did not bother to stretch it out this far.  I was almost taken.  Only my mind magic allowed me to hold out until I was out from under.”

            “Alexis?”  Roland asked right away.

            “Completely taken.  She thinks she is an Amazon healer, of all things.”

            “Katie Harper is an elect,” Roland said to catch his father up with more recent events.  “And Boston has shown some magical ability.”

            “Really?  Katie doesn’t surprise me.  I thought there was something about her.  But who would have thought that frivolous little red-head would ever amount to anything.”

            “Father!  Boston is the most brilliant, beautiful and capable person I know.”  Roland was miffed.  Mingus rubbed his chin.

            “So it has gone that far already,” he said.

            “Elder Stow,” The Gott-Druk introduced himself again and nodded his head.  “Yes it has, and I say that as a disinterested outsider.”  The elder stared at Mingus because of what happened the last time they met, but he said nothing so Mingus said nothing.

            Gnumma was obviously not following much of the conversation, primarily because his mind seemed focused elsewhere.  “I wonder what is happening in the camps,” he interjected.

            Every head turned though they could hardly see through the encroaching dark.  Mingus picked up the tale.

            “Well, as I understand it they have a huntress, a wise woman and a Sybil already.  It was the Sybil that found us and saw right through my glamours.  Now with an elect to be their queen, a woman of magic and poor Alexis as their healer, they have the foundation for a real Amazon tribe.”  It was hard to tell, but Mingus appeared to not think much of Amazon tribes.

            “All they need is a priestess,” Roland said.

            “Beltain.”  Mingus and Gnumma both spoke at once.

            “The Kairos?  How can the Kairos be taken in by the spell?”

            Mingus got fatherly.  “Son, the Kairos in this life is simply a human being like any other.  As such, she is subject to the full limitations of the breed.”

            “She is mere mud and blood.”  Gnumma gently stroked his beard. 

            “Then we need to save her.”  Roland got excited again.

            “I have already discussed this with Oktapi.  Yours is mind magic?”

            Mingus nodded slowly.  “I have some skill, but nothing to counter the power of the Djin.”

            “But with my help and your son.  Let me tell you what I was thinking which I did not share with Oktapi.”

###

Avalon 2.7:  The Trenches … Next Time

.

Avalon 2.4: Unexpected Magic

            Ah, Mary Riley but everybody calls her Boston, there are more secrets to be revealed.  It isn’t the fact that she is in love with Roland, the Elf,  That is a secret even a child could see.  The Sybil called her Little Fire, but not just because she had short, red hair.

###

            The Sybil got back up on her pony and had Roland help Amira up so the girl could ride with her.  Roland and Boston remounted to follow as instructed, but the Sybil paid them no attention at first.  She turned her pony back the way they had come, right out of the village, through the farmland, and right back up the hill to the cliff face border, all the while whispering to Amira like she was already beginning her time of instruction.

            One of the defenders rode off as they arrived.  Several men were walking back down the far side of the hill to the open field.  They could see the army of men still arrayed there, a hundred or more, and Boston and Roland wondered what had transpired.  They did not have time to ask.  The women defenders were too busy bowing their heads to the Sybil and to the elf, and checking their defenses, and the Sybil spoke.

            “Come.”  She led them to a place aside where they could sit among the rocks, face each other and still keep an eye on the men in the plains.

            “You are betrothed?” Amira spoke up as soon as they sat and the Sybil hushed the girl and in a kind way scolded Amira for speaking out of turn while Boston and Roland looked at each other for a long second.

            “I haven’t asked her,” Roland said.

            “I haven’t asked him either,” Boston agreed.

            The Sybil instructed Amira.  “It is not always wise to say everything you see.  You cannot see their faces or the language of their bodies so it will be especially hard for you.  You are young.  You see the love in their hearts, and know it is true and it is exciting and, um, romantic at your age.  I understand.  I was young once myself, believe it or not.  But you must understand that it is not your place to make decisions or to use what you see to manipulate others.  You must never be the decider.  The goddesses will be very cross with you if you try to decide or control things or make them come out the way you want.  We have a Queen who decides.  That is her place.  And people must make their own decisions for their own lives.  You keep your thoughts to yourself.”  The words were sharp, but not cruel.

            “I’m sorry,” Amira responded, and she sounded like she meant it.

            “Besides, that is not what we are here for.”

            “Why are we here?” Roland wanted to change the subject.  He glanced at Boston and saw that she agreed with him.

            “We are here for the magic,” the Sybil said.  “Amira.”  The old woman waited for the young girl to speak.  Amira paused first, like she wanted to get it right and not say too much or too little.

            Amira covered her eyes with her hand as she spoke which said to Boston that the girl could perceive light and dark, and the light might be interfering with her vision.  “There is a man of magic among the men down below.  You are the only two people of magic among us right now.  We ask if you might be willing to, inter…”

            “Interfere.”

            “If you might be willing to interfere with the man’s magic so the events that take place below may happen without interference.”  Amira uncovered her eyes and smiled.

            “It is not the way of the elves to intrude in human events,” Roland answered.  Boston had another thought.

            “I don’t have any magic.”

            “But you do,” Amira blurted out.  “It is more than enough, and I feel it.”

            “Amira!”  The Sybil scolded again and the girl fell silent.  The Sybil turned to Boston.  “I understand in your world magic is considered foolishness.  In you it has been blocked by many things, but mostly by your own thoughts and words.  Your, um, preconceptions.”

            “No, you don’t understand.  I tried to do magic when I was a little girl.  I couldn’t do anything.  Even after I saw what Alexis could do, I still couldn’t do anything at all.”  There was the sound of desperation in Boston’s voice, like she would give anything to be able to do magic.

            “The truth is magic comes with maturity, like the strength of the elect.  I understand in your world by the time people are mature magic is considered a childhood fantasy.  The pressure to be adult is overwhelming and even seeing magic with the evidence of your own eyes, the mind’s way is to invent some reason to explain why she can and you can’t.” 

            “Like reminding yourself that Alexis was once an elf and that must be the source of her magic,” Roland interjected.

            “By the time you were old enough, you were convinced that magic for you was not possible.”

            “You mean?”  Boston did not finish the sentence.  She thought quietly for a second before another thought crossed her mind  “But what about you, don’t you have any magic?  Can’t you take care of whatever it is you need magic for – that man?”

            The Sybil shook her head.  “It is forbidden for a seer to practice magic.  It is also forbidden for an elected one.  The gods are very careful about not concentrating such power in one person’s hands, and would be swift to punish any who try to defy those boundaries.”

            “But.”  Again Boston did not finish her thought before she had another thought.  “What can I do?”  She had no confidence in the matter.

            “By yourself, right now, nothing.  It is up to the elf.  He alone has the power to unblock you and he can teach you all that you need know about the ways of magic to exercise your power.”  The Sybil smiled at the elf.

            Roland felt trapped.  He responded with a frown which he turned first on Amira, though she could not see his face.  He turned the frown to the Sybil and spoke.  “It is also forbidden for elf kind to be involved in the events of women.  But you knew I would do this thing for Boston.  I don’t think I like you.”  He did like the Sybil and thought Amira was precious, but the Sybil had the good sense not to correct him.

            Roland put out his hand, and for the first time Boston hesitated.  She looked the elf in the eyes and found some reassurance there so at last she settled her hand comfortably in his and closed her own eyes.  After a moment she began to glow very softly in a fire yellow, slightly orange color.  She could not see the man or the field or anything like a seer, but she sensed the dark power not far away and with Roland directing, she set her firelight up against that power like a wall.  Roland cheated and added a bit of himself to the wall just to be sure.  That power seemed very dark.

            The wall wavered and nearly fell completely as horses came by.  Boston looked and saw it was Zoe and Katie.  Chloe was riding with Iris.  They were going down the hill and out to the field.  But then Boston closed her eyes again and concentrated and the wall became firm.  She still had her doubts, but could not help thinking about pulling rabbits out of hats for real.

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Avalon 2.4:  Fight to the End … Next Time

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