Avalon 2.3: Here Comes the Sun

            The rest of the crew got up slowly.  Just being near Ameratsu, even dampened as she was, it was like sitting before a roaring fire with sub-zero temperatures behind them.

            Everyone went for the horses.  Lincoln brought up two and Elder Stow, temporarily finished with his cry, mounted without having to be told.

            “But what are these magnificent beasts?”  Ameratsu looked to Kim for the answer, but Katie spoke.


            “And you ride upon them?”  Katie nodded, and Ameratsu turned to Kim in earnest.  “May I have a horse?  Please, may I?”

            Kim took a deep breath and spoke to his beloved.  “My love, as hard as it may be for you, you must understand that sometimes the answer will be no.”

            Ameratsu lost her radiant smile and it broke everyone’s heart to see it, though they also saw her lift determination to her face.  She faced Kim and lowered her eyes.  “You are my husband.  I understand.”  The words were heart wrenching to hear.  Any one of the travelers would have gladly given their horse then and there.  They all wondered how Kim could be so heartless.  Then Kim spoke.

            “But in this case, I think maybe a pony, yes?  Would you like a pony?”

            “Oh, yes, yes!”  Ameratsu clearly grabbed the notion of a pony out of someone’s mind, and she practically tackled Kim and almost smothered him with kisses.  Everyone had to wait, but no one really minded.

            “But first we get to safety,” Kim spoke again when he could, and Ameratsu pulled herself together and nodded.

            “Better if we had some light for the journey, Lord.”  Roland spoke up.

            “I believe we do,” Boston said.  She pointed to the unicorn in the distance who appeared to be waiting, patiently.

            “Good-bye, friends,” Ameratsu shouted back from some distance.  “I will remember you.”

            “And you,” they all returned the sentiment, though by then they were already too far away to be heard.  They followed the unicorn which went perfectly the way Boston’s amulet pointed, and without any prompting.

            The journey in the dark was as quiet as it was cold, but their way was safe and unwavering as the unicorn led them by a true and easy path.  By the time they stopped for supper, the snow had started to fall once again, and this time it came with ice.  Breath from people and horses came in great white puffs which by then were seen in the lamplight.  Katie spoke quietly as they dismounted and started a fire, Elder Stow’s sonic device being an excellent tool for that job.

            “Will they make it?”  Katie looked back as she talked to Lockhart.

            “They must,” he answered.  “I don’t recall the far east in our day being shrouded in eternal darkness.”

            Katie nodded.  She had to work on putting two and two together.

            As they mounted, Lincoln had a thought about Elder Stow.  The Gott-Druk was still dressed only in his orange jumpsuit, but did not complain.

            “Are you warm enough?”  Lincoln asked.  He was thinking the Neanderthal probably had a higher tolerance for the cold.

            Elder Stow patted his jumpsuit.  “With a helmet and gloves, this suit is designed to take the sub-zero temperatures of space.”  Lincoln nodded and thought of course, he should have guessed.  Elder Stow just added one more thought.  “I wouldn’t mind having the helmet and gloves though.”

            They traveled all through the night and did not stop again until it was after five in the morning.  The horses were exhausted and needed the stop.  The people were exhausted as well, and Lockhart feared they might have to find a shelter or a cave to survive.  The cold was becoming dangerous, even with their fairy weave clothes as thick and warm and they could be.

            Boston was the one who noticed.  “Turn off the lamps.  Please.”  She sounded excited, and though the others thought various forms of wishful thinking, they obliged.  They were wishing for the same thing.  To everyone’s surprise, they could see each other better than expected.  They looked back the way they had come.  There was the least perceptible lightening on the horizon.  Boston checked.  The unicorn was nowhere to be seen.  The sun was going to rise.

            “Thank God they made it,” Katie said.

            “They had to,” Lockhart agreed.

            It was less than an hour from their encampment to the time gate.  Sun or no sun, it was still bitter cold and would take hours if not days to warm up again.  Moving into the next time zone was the only real option, and they did that with the hope that the next place would be warm and they could find a place to pitch a camp.  Lockhart knew they all needed a day off.  They would rest that day and night and start out the following morning, if they could.

            Katie and Lockhart were the last in line and Katie only ventured one brief look back before they left that world. 

            “I hope the Bokarus froze its butt off,” Lockhart quipped.

            “I hope Bob is alright,” Katie said.


            “The wolfman.”

            “You named the werewolf?” and they went through the gate.


Avalon 2.3: A Heated Tale

            Kim sat down beside Ameratsu.  “But so much beauty.  So much beauty.”  That seemed all she could say about the angel.

            “You are beauty itself,” Kim told her and looked around.  Elder Stow was in tears and Kim had no desire to interrupt the Gott-Druk.  Roland and Boston were also crying and hugging and kissing.  But Lockhart, Lincoln and Katie seemed to be paying attention. 

            “You are beautiful,” Lincoln said.  “So much I can hardly look at you.”  Lockhart and Katie agreed as they sat to face the couple.

            “I think she is hot,” Kim said.

            “I know I am hot,” Ameratsu responded.  “I can’t help it.”  Kim just smiled while Katie spoke.

            “It means he thinks you are sexy.”

            Ameratsu looked at the woman and her eyes went wide.  Her face turned red and she covered her face with her hands, but they all felt the heat, like getting a bit close to a lava flow.

            “That is a good thing,” Katie suggested, and Ameratsu leaned forward, but she was clearly not used to whispering.

            “I think he is hot, too,” she said loud enough for all to hear.

            “You are rather young, aren’t you?” Lincoln guessed.

            Ameratsu insisted on speaking to Katie.  “He calls me his baby.  I thought he wanted a baby.”

            “A term of endearment,” Katie explained, and then went way out on a limb.  “Maybe you should give him one.”

            Ameratsu buried her face in her hands and her face turned scarlet.  The heat from that caused the other three to back away.  “Maybe more than one,” Ameratsu said in more of a true whisper and just the smallest glance at her husband.

            “Yes, but first we have to get you to safety in the land of the rising sun,” Kim said as he slipped his arm around her shoulder.  Ameratsu responded by snuggling into his shoulder and she looked up at his face with nothing but love in her eyes.

            Lockhart was thinking.  “Couldn’t you take her to Avalon and come back to earth at your chosen destination?”

            Kim shook his head.  “Against the law, mine I think.  I mean, we could do that but I would not dare take her out of this world.  Even a few minutes and I fear the whole world would become a block of ice.  It is cold, and will get colder for you when we move south and you go north, but even with Susanu’s friends dampening her spirit, she provides more warmth for this world than you know.”

            “But that was your light and heat used against the kraken, not hers.” Lincoln protested. 

            “A little bit shared from her, and good thing I was the one.  If she let herself out, even just a little, everything and everyone would be instant cinders for miles around.  She is a full grown woman, but still young as you said.”

            “How did you two meet?”  Katie interrupted, changed the subject, and Ameratsu smiled and responded.

            “I was hiding.  My brother was mean to me and I did not want the others to see me cry.  I was content to stay in my cave, but after a time I heard the most wonderful sounds.  Joy was dancing on a tub and everyone was clapping and singing.  I just had to see.  When I poked my head out from the cave I caught sight of the most lovely woman ever seen, and beside her was a lovely man, a mortal man, and he was blaspheming.  I wondered why this was.  I had to ask him.”

            Kim interrupted, and spoke in English so the villagers could not understand what he said.  He knew Ameratsu’s tale would be passed on from generation to generation, but there were some things the people did not need to know.  “Actually what I said was, “Now I have seen the most beautiful creature on God’s green earth.”  You see, the gods don’t call the source by the G-word.  You might as well learn that now before you go further in your journey.  Some of the high ones get violent at the mention of the Most High, if you know what I mean.”

            “But how did you come to be there?”  Lincoln asked.

            “The gods panicked.”  Kim waved at the darkness that surrounded them.  “This is not the first time the sun has failed to rise.  Once upon a time, the sun sat in a cave unhappy and alone.”

            “But I am happy now,” Ameratsu practiced her English as she took Kim’s arm.

            “Anyway, they sought me out believing I might have an idea of what to do.”

            “Wait,” Lockhart had a question.  “Who was that other woman?”

            “No other woman,” Ameratsu said with a big grin.

            “I made a brass mirror.  That was not easy in this age.  But Ameratsu saw her own reflection and was enchanted.”

            “By the one beside my reflection.” Ameratsu insisted.

            “Yes, well.  She came up close and I turned away.  I told her my mortal eyes were not made for such dazzling light and while I wanted to give her a gift, it might mean I would have to touch her and my mortal flesh was not made for the warmth of her beautiful heart.  I said, share just the smallest bit of your spirit with me and I will gladly give my gift.”

            “And I did.”

            “And I took her and kissed her.”

            “And it was the perfect gift, just what I wanted.”

            “Whirlwind romance?”  Boston said as she and Roland caught up with the group.

            “Until her brother decided she should be imprisoned in the sky as insurance to make certain the darkness never came again.  Some of the other gods agreed with him.”

            “I am sorry for the darkness now, but my husband said we must flee and I begin to understand that.”

            “If we can reach her father, Izanagi, then we should make it safely to Nippon.”

            “Yes,” Lockhart stood.  “And we must go the other way with all speed before the cold finally closes in.”



Avalon 2.3:  Here Comes the Sun, Little Darlin’ … Next Time

Avalon 2.3: Angel in the Dark

            “Ameratsu,” Lockhart said as Katie and Elder Stow brought the old woman up the hill to safety, though now that the wind was down, the sea was going back to its place.

            “Wait,” Katie interrupted.  “Shouldn’t you be in Japan?”

            “We are trying to get there,” the young man said.  “She will be safe there.”

            “Eh?”  Lockhart said it, but the question was all over Lincoln’s face as well as he stepped up to join them.

            Katie pointed around at the people who were all on their knees, though Ameratsu showed none of her true self.  “Goddess of the sun.”

            “Yes,” Ameratsu spoke to Katie and appeared more comfortable speaking to the woman than she did the men.  “And there is something special about you as well I see, though I am not sure I know what it is.  Kim?  This is strange for me.”

            The young man, Kim took a minute to properly introduce his friends from the future before he said, “But we must go before Susanu finds us.”  He explained for the others.  “My wife shared a little of her spirit with me.  That was why I could do what I did, but I fear Susanu will notice even that little thing and come here.”

            “Lord.”  It was almost a wail.  Roland had tears in his eyes and his arms around a woman that was so frail and old, Kim hardly recognized her.  Her hair was gray, her face wrinkled and the hand she put out was gnarled and leathery in the extreme.

            “Mary Riley, but everyone calls me Boston.”  The old woman spoke through terribly cracked lips.

            “But you should not be old,” Ameratsu got that right away and again looked at Kim.  “But Susanu and his friends are dampening me?”  She was not sure if that was the right word.  Kim nodded so she went on.  “My self is small when the gods do this.  I cannot make her young again.”  A tear came up into the eye of the goddess and Kim was right there to hold her and tell her everything would be alright.  The single tear fell to the earth and steam came up from the rock it landed on.

            “Why does your brother want you?” Lincoln had to ask.

            “To mate.  Hush.”  Katie quieted him.

            Ameratsu made a face of disgust at the idea, but a face only intended for Katie even if everyone saw.  “I have a husband.  My brother is such a moron.”  Lockhart, Katie, Lincoln and Boston all laughed.  “What?”  Ameratsu looked to Kim.  “Did I not use the word correctly?”

            “You used it perfectly,” Kim assured her.

            “I have a moron for a brother, too,” Boston managed to speak.  “I would hug you, but I would be afraid of falling apart.”

            “But Kim, can we not?” Ameratsu started to say one thing when her eyes turned big and she shouted, “Oh, no!”

            A giant wave came in from the sea and a tall thin man rode on top of it.  The wave crested at the last second and deposited the man precisely at the edge of the hill, only a few feet away.  “I have found you,” the man said, and then paused to stare at the travelers and wonder why they were not trembling in their boots.

            “Go away!”  Ameratsu was adamant and turned her face into Kim’s shoulder.

            “After Set and Tiamut, this one doesn’t seem so bad,” Lincoln said.

            Katie rolled her eyes, “Especially after Tiamut.”

            “But,” Susanu was clearly thrown by this reaction.  “Look here, you are to be my wife.”

            Kim looked Susanu in the eyes and Susanu appeared to have a hard time not looking away.  “The lady has made her choice.”

            “I should kill you right now.  That would settle things.”  Susanu threatened.

            Ameratsu tried to lift her head to respond, but Kim kept her planted in his chest and hushed her gently.  It was Roland who stepped up.

            “Not advisable,” he said.

            “I need no advice from a demon,” Susanu said.  “And a lesser demon at that.”

            Ameratsu could not help but say, “Elf.”  There was a pause all around and she looked up at Kim.  “How did I know that?”

            “Hush.  Later,” Kim said, and Ameratsu went happily back to laying her head in Kim’s chest.

            A second wave came in from the sea and even Susanu looked surprised.  When this wave crested, dozens of the cutest translucent sea sprites escaped the sea.  They looked like gingerbread men made of sea green and blue see-through gelatin and they marched in perfect order to stand between Susanu and Kim.  They climbed on each other’s shoulders until they made a pyramid to block Kim completely and then one spoke in the sweetest, baby voice.

            “You will not harm our Lord.”

            “What is this rebellion?” Susanu asked.

            “Children, you must not put yourselves in danger,” Kim said as he moved Ameratsu behind him and called out to his armor and weapons.  One moment he looked like a poor Korean peasant, and the next he looked like a Greco-Roman or perhaps a medieval warrior in the finest chain armor skirt, a long sword across his back and a long knife across the small of his back.

            “Kim?”  Ameratsu was surprised, but did not sound displeased with this transformation.

            “Enough!” Susanu shouted and waved his hand.  The sea babies shattered, turned back to water and soaked into the ridge, and Roland was shoved ten feet away, lucky to survive the god’s wrath.  Susanu paused when he saw Kim and how he was dressed and what he was reaching for.

            “You do not want to do this,” Kim said.  “And neither do I.”  Fortunately, it did not come to blows as a new figure arrived and stood between the two combatants.  Everyone, including Ameratsu did not hesitate to fall to their knees and tremble.  This one was brighter, more pure, more perfect that even the unicorn could ever hope to be. 

            “Angel,” Boston named the visitor and tried to go to her knees as well, but it was hard.  Kim caught her and held her up, but she lowered her head and eyes which was the least she could do.

            Angel turned his head and took one look at Susanu.  Susanu screamed like death and raced back to disappear into the sea.  “He will tremble for a time,” Angel said.  “But you must not be afraid.”

            “Boston?”  Kim spoke boldly, but he dared not say anymore.  Angel looked at Lockhart and Lincoln, both of whom were once over sixty and now were hardly thirty.

            “The ones who will grow the trees and guard them are not yet born,” Angel said.

            Kim thought of Yduna and others.  He thought there was slim hope.

            “The tree is guarded by one whose sword is bigger and sharper than anything you imagine carrying,” Angel said.  “And I know you have quite an imagination.”

            “Please, Lord.”  Kim could not let it go.

            Angel held out his hand.  “I have procured this for you.”  He held a perfect golden apple.

            “Thank you Lord,” Kim said.  Then he took it carefully so as not to touch the holy one.  He took out his knife and eye measured a piece for Boston.  She chewed it slowly at first, but in less than a minute she was fully restored and even younger than she had been before, being more nearly nineteen or so rather than twenty-five.  She wept as she fell to her knees.

            “And what will you do with the rest?”  Angel asked and indicated clearly he would not take it back.

            “My Lord?”  Ameratsu dared to speak.

            “No, I would not want a baby for a wife.  Nor is it for any of you others.  Nor is it for mortal hands.”  Kim looked around before he voice the only possible conclusion.  “I will have to eat it myself.”

            “And the core?”

            “I will plant it on Avalon,” Kim said and caught a very human expression on Angel’s face.  “Not on Avalon proper, but a new island, shrouded in mist and impossible to find.  I feel that Avalon of the apples will be important in the future, if not in the East, then certainly in the West.  And the offspring of this seed will be guarded.”

            “So be it,” Angel said and he vanished, but he left some light to linger in that place for a time.



Avalon 2.3:  A Heated Tale … Next Time

Avalon 2.3: To Warm the Heart


            “I’m going out to check the amulet and distance,” Boston interrupted.  “Then I vote we move on before this storm gets worse.”  She stepped outside, and for a second she imagined her eyes were playing a trick on her.  It looked like there was a light on the beach, not of a fire, but a glowing, pure white light, and it appeared to be getting closer before it became hidden by the rocks.

            “A trick of the light,” she said to herself and honestly believed it had something to do with being inside with the light and going outside into the darkness.  “Like a flash camera,” she said and looked at the sky.  Everything was black, like there was no light at all.  Maybe the sun was missing.  She could not think about that.

            Boston looked at the amulet and gasped.  They were closer than they had been just hours ago.  How could that be, she wondered as she was interrupted.

            “Boston,” Roland found her.  He was smiling at her, but said no more.

            “You should go in and warm up,” Boston said without much thought, her eyes still attracted to the amulet.  “Where are Lincoln and Elder Stow?”

            “You can warm me with a kiss,” Roland suggested.  Now Boston paid attention.  She usually had to initiate that sort of thing.  “Come close,” Roland reached for her.  “It is very cold.”

            Then again, Boston thought, who was she to argue with that idea.  She came in close and his lips touched hers.  Immediately, Boston felt her soul being drawn out of her body.  She struggled, but this Roland was strong.  She cried out in her mind because her mouth could not cry out.  She ripped at the elf ears, but the thing, whatever it was did not seem to feel anything, and Boston was slowly dying.

            The light came again, only this time it filled her eyes.  She began to think it was the light she was supposed to walk into.  There was an unearthly scream, a howl to wake the dead, but Boston had no idea who or what made the sound.  Perhaps it was her.

            Boston fell to the ground, unconscious.

            Lockhart and Katie rushed outside.  The unicorn looked like a white light, a flame of pure white fire, but it backed away to let Katie tend to Boston.  It kept Lockhart’s attention when it deliberately stuck its horn through an opening in a fishing net set out to dry.  Somehow it threw the net over its own back and then added a graven image which adjusted to sit like a rider, though the image never ceased to be clay.

            Roland, Lincoln and Elder Stow ran up, but stopped on sight of the unicorn.  It was only for a momentary pause as the unicorn took off for the ridge behind the village.  It stopped a hundred yards away, turned and pawed twice and stomped its front right hoof hard on the ground before it bounded off again toward the high ground.

            Lockhart got the message.  “Saddle up,” he said.  “Get the villagers together.  We need to make for the high ground.”

            The wind started as Katie stepped up to speak to Lockhart.  “I don’t know if Boston can be moved.”

            “Is she hurt?”  Lockhart started to bend down to look.

            “No,” Katie stopped him.  “She is old.”

            Lockhart spun on his heels.  “Get the villagers!” He yelled, but the others were already doing that.  He stuck his head back in to the old man and his daughters.  “Get your people out and to the high ground.  Hurry!”

            “But Grandfather cannot move quickly,” one daughter said.

            “Then carry him,” Lockhart paused before he exited the shack.  He pointed at the other daughter.  “Good, bring all the blankets you have.”  He went back out.

            Roland had Boston around the middle and was already helping her toward the edge of the village.  The wind was strengthening and they were beginning to hear it in the roar of the sea.  Katie had to shout.

            “Yours and Roland’s horses.  I have mine and Boston’s.  Lincoln has the others,”  That was all she could say as the old man and his daughters headed for the hills.  There was a light up there.  The travelers knew what it was, but all Lockhart could say to the families was, “Head for the light.

            The wind drove off the sea, and started to drive the sea before it.  The horses tails whipped wildly in the wind long before they became wet with spray.

            “I think the sea wind has actually warmed things a bit.”  Katie shouted as loud as she could, but all Lockhart could say was, “What?”

            Waves of water soon began to crash around their feet.  They hustled, but it was slow going in the dark until they heard a sound that made them ignore the danger of the rocks.  It was the Kraken, and it sounded like it was hovering over their shoulder.

            A vine wrapped quickly around Decker’s horse.  They all heard the horse squeal, but Elder Stow was right there, and he never gave back the sonic device.  The Kraken burned, but it looked like this time it was not going to be deterred.  A thousand vines rushed after the first.  They broke the houses of the village, looking for something soft to eat.  They rushed up to the side of the hill, and grabbed two stragglers among the people, stragglers that were already knee deep in sea water.

            Katie saw somehow from the light overhead and jumped.  Lockhart had to grab the reins.  He wanted to call Lincoln, but Lincoln could not bring all six horses alone.  He looked to the Gott-Druk, but he was carefully sliding on the snow back down the hill.  Lockhart felt helpless, and then he could not see well in the dark besides.

            Katie grabbed the first villager by the hand.  It was an old woman, her face was in the water and she was struggling against the pull of the vine.  Katie dove and sliced through the vine with her knife, and then she practically carried the old woman to safety.  All the old woman could do was wave and make sounds toward the sea.  Her son or daughter or old man had been behind her.

            Elder Stow was there and he let the full force of his sonic device rip in what he hoped was the right direction.

            “Come on!”  Katie shouted.  The old man was surely gone.  Elder Stow looked ready to give up when a giant wave crashed over his head and licked the feet of the women.  “Ahh!” Katie voiced her concern, but as the wave receded she saw the Elder still standing on the same spot.  The strength of the Neanderthal was astounding.  “Hurry!”  Katie shouted one more word and turned to force the old woman up the hill.  The wind had turned hurricane wicked.  All the woman kept saying was, “Kamakazi.”  And the water was still rising.

            They heard the Kraken again.  It was moving inland with the rising sea.  Lockhart imagined he could make out a slightly darker mass in the midst of the darkness, but it had to be at least a quarter mile high, much higher than the high ground they stood on.

            A young couple pushed their way to the front.  He held her hand and held her behind him, and looked once at Lockhart.  “Close your eyes,” he told Lockhart and then shouted for everyone that could hear.  “Close your eyes!”

            “Should I?” the young woman asked.

            “Dare not,” the young man answered and gave her a quick peck on the lips.  She looked like that was not enough, like that would never be enough, but lowered her eyes and waited for her young man to act.  He raised his hands and began to glow, and in a moment people backed away from the heat.  Then the light came, all at once, and it lit the whole seashore and for miles out to sea.  For one instant, Lincoln saw the kraken.  He was well behind with the horses turned away in case they needed a quick getaway, and then he had to shut his eyes against the incredible brightness.  He could still hear the creature, though, as it sizzled.  The wind stopped.  The sea began to boil.  And then the darkness returned, and some sense entered Lockhart’s brain.

            “Hey!  You told me to shut my eyes in English!”

            “Hey!  Lockhart.  Allow me to introduce my wife, Ameratsu.”

            “Very pleased to meet you,” the young woman said and bent her knees, head and eyes in a kind of perfect bow that every geisha would attempt to imitate, forever.



Avalon 2.3:  Angel in the Dark … Next Time


Avalon 2.3: In the Dark


            “Lockhart,” Boston shook the man.  He was too tired to wake and having pleasant dreams.

            “Boston, go pick on some other old man,” he said before he sprang awake, eyes wide open.  “Why is it still dark out?  Why is it so cold?”

            “The sun didn’t come up today,” Boston said.

            “What?”  Lockhart shouted.

            “What?”  Lincoln echoed as he sat up straight.

            “Bread?”  Boston held it out and grinned.

            Lockhart took a piece, but not without comment.  “You are spending too much time with that elf. 

            “Okay,” Boston said.  “Roland Katie and Elder Stow are down by the beach, away from the hillside.  Elder Stow has his equipment and is examining the stars.  In fact, they were coming into the cave as she spoke, arguing in the normal human way.

            “Can’t be,” Katie said.

            “Must be, but we shall see,” Elder Stow countered.

            “We will see,” Katie said, skeptically.

            “What?”  Lockhart and Boston asked at the same time.  Lincoln had bread in his mouth.

            “It is eight in the morning,” Katie said with a look at her watch.

            “Your timepiece is correct?”  The Elder asked.

            “It is correct,” Roland said.  “Internal clock cannot be fooled by light and dark, at least not for many days.”

            “Elder Stow claims it is summer and the stars we saw were winter stars which we could only see if the sun is not there.”

            “We will look again, eight this evening,” Elder Stow said.  “We should see the summer night stars then.”

            “But the sun has to be there!”  Katie protested.

            “But it is not.”

            Lockhart left the argument behind as he stepped out of the mouth of the cave.  The sea was calmed, but still thundering enough against the rocks to fill his ears.  And it remained as dark as the night.  He looked up at the stars in the sky, but he did not look long.  “Everyone,” he shouted as he turned back to the others.  “Saddle up, we ride as fast as is safe in the dark.”

            Oh, not that torturous beast again,” Elder Stow complained.

            “Katie, I figure without the warmth of the sun the temperature is going to drop rapidly, and keep dropping.”

            “Best to stay close to the water.  Water is slower to lose heat,” Boston shouted as she went for her horse.

            “Best to thicken up your fairy weave clothes,” Katie added.

            “Lockhart,” Roland got his attention.  “We can use the fairy weave tents like medieval blankets for the horses.”

            “Good idea,” Lockhart agreed before Elder Stow spoke up.  The Gott-Druk had a pitiful look on his face which reminded Lockhart how human this Neanderthal really was.

            “If I had my things, I could keep up well without having to ride that beast again.”

            Seeing that look nudged Lockhart to give a serious answer.  “First you must prove yourself a good son who means no harm to the tribe.”

            The Gott-Druk looked surprised before he lowered his eyes in a sign of submission.  “My father,” he said and bravely went to mount his horse which Lincoln had ready and waiting.

            As fast as they could in the dark was not very fast.  There were not many journeys inland to get around breaks in the shoreline, but they just could not move fast without light.  The lamps helped a bit, but Lockhart was concerned by noon and ordered three lamps only, one with each pair of riders.  The other two he turned off to save what battery life they might have.  They would all need time in the sun to recharge.

            It was not much further before they came to a fishing village that was built along a gray beach.  It was about that same time it began to snow.  The villagers were afraid of them, which was to be expected as it was likely their first experience with horse riders.  What was not expected was the immediate reception by three elders who cried out to them.

            “Help us, help us.”

            They all heard the scream in the distance.  They dismounted, drew their weapons and marched toward the sound, escorted by the elders.  Lincoln and Elder Stow gladly stayed with the horses.

            Something flew out from one of the huts, like a specter in the dark with just enough glow to be visible. 

            “Alexis?”  Lincoln thought he recognized the ghost, but Katie spoke at the same time.


            The elders cowered, squatted down, turned their faces to the dirt and cried.  The specter circled around the newcomers several times before it flew off and disappeared into the dark sky.

            “What was that?”  Lockhart asked, not expecting an answer.

            “Succubus, or near enough,” Roland answered.

            “Not Alexis?”  Lincoln had to be sure.

            “Not Alexis, though it may appear to you that way.  Or your father, Lieutenant.  It will appear in whatever way necessary to get close enough to suck out your life force.”

            “On that happy thought, what say we stop for lunch.”

            “Indoors?”  Boston asked.

            Lockhart picked one of the local elders off the ground.  “Indoors,” he did not ask.

            The snow flurries became a constant downfall by the time they finished eating what they and the village had.   “And now we shall all die,” the elder said.  “My wife was drained of life before my eyes, and I have but two daughters left to me in my age.  I was angry at the loss of my wife, but she has eaten the food of the dead and cannot return.  Now, I feel as if the spirit showed mercy to take her life.”  The old man pulled his cloak tighter around his body, but it was thin, and even with all the heated rocks it was not enough.

            “Don’t give up,” Katie encouraged.  “If we can find our boss, there may yet be hope.”

            “Our boss?” Lockhart asked.

            Katie just smiled.  “You don’t think after all this I could go back to just being a marine, do you?”

            “I don’t think we will get back to anything if this situation continues much longer.”

            Roland, Lincoln and Elder Stow were off checking on the rest of the village, heating all the rocks they could find and drag inside the homes.  They were lucky none of the straw and bamboo huts caught fire, though at least that would have provided some light and heat against the cold darkness.

            “I have faith,” Katie said with a look in Lockhart’s eyes.

            “I am not sure you and Elder Stow will make it to the eight o’clock evening stars,” Lockhart countered.



Avalon 2.3:  To Warm the Heart … Next Time


Avalon 2.3: The Dark of the Sun


After 3794BC on the Korean Peninsula.  Kairos, life 23: Kim




            “Hey!  Who turned out the lights?”  Boston called out into the dark and against the roaring sound of the sea breaking on the rocks. 

            “Over here,” Roland’s voice rang out.  He could make himself heard against the thunder of wind and waves.

            “Glad it is not raining,” Lincoln said as he and Lockhart came up.  Lincoln retrieved his lantern from his pack.

            “Can’t hardly tell from the sea spray,” Lockhart responded and added, “Where’s the Gott-Druk?”  He went for his own lantern.

            “Here,” Katie shouted and a moment later she appeared, holding tight to the reigns of the Gott-Druk’s horse.  Elder Stow looked as seasick as a man caught in a boat in the storm, but he held tight to the saddle horn and tried to grip with his legs as instructed.  “I caught him just before his panicked horse dove into the drink.”

            “Lucky for him,” Lincoln said.

            “Lucky for Decker’s horse,” Lockhart offered the alternate view.

            “We can’t stay here,” Boston shouted as she coaxed her horse up the rocks from the other side.

            “Inland?”  Roland decided but looked at Lockhart for confirmation.

            “But keep to the shore?” Lockhart suggested and in turn looked at Boston.  She checked the amulet, pointed up the shoreline and it was settled.

            Katie handed the reins for Decker’s horse back to Lincoln and he took up his usual place in the center, the Gott-Druk beside or behind him.  Boston, with her lantern lit, traveled out front with Roland.  Lockhart and Katie with their lanterns brought up the rear.  Lockhart kept watch on the Gott-Druk.  Katie kept looking back as if she could sense something following them in the dark.

            “I don’t like this,” Katie said at last.  “We need to find shelter for the night.”

            “Working on that,” Roland heard with his elf ears and made his voice heard to the back of the troop.  Shortly, his elf eyes spotted a cave in the hillside above sea level.  It was not the best accommodations, not the least because there was no wood around to build a fire, something they all wanted, but it was big enough to get the horses away from the sounds of the storm, and it was shelter in case it did decide to start raining.

            Elder Stow got off his horse and fell to kiss the dirt and rocks.  He bowed and chanted for a good ten minutes before he collapsed and laid out flat.  They left him alone.  They rode hard all day in Cophu’s time and came through the time gate to this forsaken place.  They all remembered when they first started to ride, how painful it was.  They were improved now, or at least toughened up, but poor Elder Stow had to be rubbed raw. 

            Lincoln went first to the back wall to make sure the cave did not continue off into the dark.  He was glad to see it did not.  He did not want his sleep interrupted by some troll or worse.  He just got a comfortable seat in the light and pulled out the database for some reading when Roland came from the back of the cave. 

            “No hidden dwarf or ogre doors I could find,” he said.  “Of course, goblins can be clever so we may never know.”

            “Thanks,” Lincoln said and he tried to concentrate on his reading.  It helped to read it out loud.  “Kim is the Kairos we are looking for.”

            “Kim?”  Lockhart sat by the entrance to put Katie between him and Lincoln.  Elder Stow stayed on Lincoln’s other side next to the elf whom he kept looking at with big eyes.

            “That’s it.  Kim is the only name.  It says he married the sun, whatever that means.”

            “Maybe he was a bright fellow,” Lockhart suggested.  Only Katie nudged his arm.

            “I have some fresh water in my canteen.  At least we can make some bread out of these crackers,” she said.

            “Hardtack,” Lockhart called it.

            “Good elf bread,” Roland defended his people.  “It will sustain you when nothing else will.”

            Lincoln leaned back into a rock.  “This is either Korea or Japan, depending on the time.”

            “Korea,” Lockhart said with enough certainty to get a few stares.  “I can smell the kimchi.” 

            “Not kimchi,” Boston countered.  “I’ve had kimchi.  This smells more like a compost heap.”

            “Chinese food?”  Lincoln made a joke.

            Elder Stow finally touched the elf.  “You are a strange tribe.”  He turned to Lockhart.  “May I have my sonic device?”

            Lockhart looked at Katie.  They spoke without speaking before Lockhart reached into the bag and pulled out three suspects.  Elder Stow pointed and tried to smile when Lockhart handed it over.  The Gott-Druk stood and lifted a stone far bigger than any of the humans could lift.  He set it square in their midst so they sat around it.  Then he adjusted the device and pointed it at the rock.  In a short time, the rock began to glow.  A minute longer and it got positively hot.

            “Warm bread is better than cold,” Boston said, and Katie put the water on to boil.  Elder Stow handed back the sonic device.  Lockhart looked squarely at the Gott-Druk.

            “This could be used as a weapon, couldn’t it?”

            “Easily,” the Gott-Druk looked away.  “But I am much too exhausted to argue.”

            “Argue?”  Katie asked.

            “In Gott-Druk, even fighting is in familial terms.  Argue means fight.”

            “What is that smell!”  Roland looked like he could hardly take it.

            “Rotting seaweed?”  Boston suggested.

            “I’ve been wondering,” Elder Stow said.  “It is making me hungry.”

            Katie screamed, and when Lincoln saw he screamed too.  Vines were creeping into the cave from the sea, not all that fast until they touched Katie’s ankle.  They whipped around her leg like a constricting snake and gave a great tug to drag her out to sea.  Katie had her knife out and cut herself free almost before the others could react.  When the vine snapped they heard a wail from the water and the dark that chilled them all.

            “The horses!” Lincoln yelled.  They were prepared to panic.  He and Boston got in their way and calmed them as well as they could while Lockhart drew his knife and Roland pulled out his sword.  Two more creeping vines were cut and got the same chilling sound from the deep.  Yet for every vine they cut, two seemed to take its place.

            “A Kraken.”  Roland yelled between strikes.  “But they stay in the deep.  It takes a week of stormy darkness to tempt them to the surface.  The sun is death to them.”

            Elder Stow watched, until Roland mentioned the sun.  Then he stood.  “My sonic device.”

            Lockhart still had it in his other hand and gave it to the Gott-Druk without hesitation.  He was otherwise busy.  The Gott-Druk took it and turned it on the vines.  They quickly burst into flame, full of sea water or not.  The sound that got from the Kraken was more like pain rather than shock.  Then he turned it to the sea straight out from the cave and turned the volume all the way up.  Roland held his ears, opened his mouth in a scream, but that scream was overwhelmed by the scream from the creature.  They saw a streak of fire rise from the surface of the sea to several hundred feet in the air.  That quickly shrank as the kraken submerged.  The vines were all withdrawn and Elder Stow stopped firing. 

            “Now I will sleep,” the Elder said, and he lay where he was beside the hot rock and closed his eyes.

            Boston and Lincoln came back.  Lincoln had his foot stepped on by one of the horses, but nothing was broken.  “Katie and I first watch,” Lockhart said.  “Lincoln, you can overlap with me and Roland.  Roland and Boston third watch.  Get some sleep.”

            “What about the sonic device?” Lincoln asked.

            “Leave it with the Elder for now, and pray we don’t need it again.”




Avalon 2.3:  In the Dark … Next Time



Avalon 2.2: Escape


            Cophu took Elder Stow down to the Elenar ship after lunch since he was the only other person who knew anything at all about advanced electronic systems.  Boston and Katie came along out of curiosity, though Katie also came to keep one eye on the Gott-Druk. 

            “Elenar?  No wonder everything is backwards.  Primitive junk.”  Elder Stow complained the whole time, but he did  a good job checking the systems, especially since Cophu said he would be taking the Gott-Druk into space so he had better be sure everything worked.

            “I can’t imagine the Gott-Druk systems you saw in the past were much better,” Boston groused right back at the Elder.

            The Gott-Druk frowned before he nodded.  “It is a wonder my ancestors dared to go into space with such junk.”

            “Wonder or not, we need to check the screens,” Cophu interrupted.  “I’m detecting some variation in the negatively charged ion screen.”

            “Let’s see,” Elder Stow went to look.

            “I would think the particle screen would be the important one,” Boston suggested.

            “Not in deep space,” the Gott-Druk explained.  “Well, yes, but you don’t want to arrive at your destination dead from radiation poisoning.”

            “Don’t want to show up glowing in the dark,” Cophu said from beneath the panel.  “Loose wire.”

            “Good,” Elder Stow pronounced the patient cured.

            “Scanners are good too as far as I can tell,” Katie stepped up to the group.  “Still just fancy radar equipment to me.”

            “About right,” Cophu agreed and lead the party back outside in time to see the gnomes coax the last of the horses into the cargo hold.  He turned to Elder Stow.  “Oh, I forgot to mention the travelers will be going with us as well.”

            Elder Stow reacted as expected.  He looked like he might have sabotaged something if he knew, but then he shrugged in a very human way.  “I am not the suicide type.  Besides, three of the tribe are still missing.”

            Katie and Boston looked at each other, wide-eyed.  “Good to know,” Katie said.

            The evening went well enough.  The Gott-Druk behaved himself.  There were Little Ones – Dark elves posted to watch him and his things in the night, but he was allowed his tent which was good because certainly no one wanted to invite him in.

            The Gott-Druk only made a passing stab at the deer Roland brought in for their supper.  He liked the elf bread well enough, but found the local bread too gritty for his tastes.  The others all told Ranna how much they liked it to make up for Elder Stow’s rudeness.  That was good, considering Ranna spent the afternoon carefully grinding the grain between two well worn stones, without the need to touch the stones, of course.

            The only difficult thing that evening was trying to keep the wolfman calm around the smell of blood, and to feed him.  He wanted nothing to do with the greens or bread, and cried a little when he was offered cooked meat.  Lockhart was the one who figured it out.  He found the most undercooked portion of deer on the spit, added some raw, stringy guts tossed over on the fertilizer pile, and the wolfman ate it like a dog.  Then they tied him for the night and set a troll to watch him.  The troll gladly finished eating the guts the wolfman did not eat.

            When the morning came, Cophu hurried everyone aboard the Elenar ship.  They barely got the door closed and the engines warmed before he drove them straight up to the clouds.  He raced them two miles from Jericho and his home and found a clear field to set them down.  Then he spoke.

            “I measured the wall of Chaos.  It is like a ring, only eighty feet high.  I don’t suppose she imagined we could fly to our freedom.”

            Signs of understanding spread across the faces of the travelers and Elder Stow responded.

            “Still, she is a power and we better move on while we can.  As long as we are in her territory, she can always fetch us back.”

            They stepped outside and any number of waiting Elenar drew their weapons on sight of the Gott-Druk.  Lockhart, Katie and Roland immediately stepped between the weapons and Elder Stow.  Lincoln and Boston went to retrieve the horses and Lincoln yelled first.  The wolfman ran off into the woods.

            “Damn it!” Lincoln swore.  “Now we will never find him.”

            Cophu came out and yelled second.

            “Stop it!  Put your weapons down.  You and the Gott-Druk are allies against the Balok.  Save your weapons for the serpent people.” 

            Several of the Elenar hesitated and lowered their guns while they looked at the pilot, their ranking officer.  “It is true,” the pilot said as he holstered his weapon.  “We have made an ill-advised alliance with the beast men against the serpents.”

            “Gee, prejudiced much?”  Boston asked as she and Lincoln brought out the horses.  “Here, Stowy, you get Decker’s horse.”

            “No, I,” The Gott-Druk started to back away.  Cophu had to put a hand on Elder Stow’s shoulder and move him forward.  He spoke while Boston shortened the stirrups.

            “Use your knees.  Your butt and legs will probably hurt for a week, but you will get used to it.  Next time zone, I’ll try and borrow Wlvn and properly lay hands on you to pass along relevant horse care and riding information.”

            “Why not now?”  Lincoln asked.

            Cophu shook his head.  “That would attract too much attention.  AhnYani and KimKeri and some others have the woman,you-know-who preoccupied for the moment, but you better ride fast to the time gate.  Fool her once, shame on her.  We won’t be able to fool her twice.”

            “But what about you?  Why didn’t you bring your family with you?  You could have escaped, too.”  Boston, Lincoln and Katie all had something to say.

            Cophu shook his head.  “I need to go back.  I need to liberate my Shemsu people.  We have a destiny in the Tigris-Euphrates valley turning Anenki’s towns into Sumarian Cities.”

            “You mean go back behind the wall?”  Katie asked.

            Cophu nodded and turned to the Elenar for some final instructions.  Lockhart saluted, whether Cophu saw or not, and rode.  The others followed, at a gallop when the land allowed it.  The sun was set and the last of the daylight was fading when they reached the next gate and paused.

            “I hope all goes well for him,” Boston said as she looked back.

            “So do I,”  Elder Stow said to everyone’s surprise.  He wanted to stretch the time they stopped to rub every muscle that hurt, which was every muscle.

            Then they did something they had hoped never to do again.  They went through the time gate into the dark.


Next Time:  Avalon 2.3 The Dark of the Sun

Avalon 2.2: Forgotten and Unexpected

            Roland nosed his mount forward, wary, eyes wide open.  He came to a clearing.  There were a few trees there, but several had been crushed and Roland guessed this was where the Elenar ship landed.  “Hello!” he called.  He got the expected answer, but it was from behind a tree.

            “Are you friend or foe?”

            Roland instantly recognized the voice.  “Alexis.”

            Alexis walked her horse into the open and mounted.  “How do you know my name?”

            “You don’t know me?”  Roland had to be sure.  If she was enchanted, sudden information contrary to what she had been told might be as dangerous as waking a sleep-walker.

            “I have never seen you before,” Alexis confirmed his fear.  “But I see you are an elf, like my father, and a wise one to have up a glamour to make you appear human in this place.  Perhaps you know my father.  Mingus is his name.”

            “Yes, I know your father.  We have been close all of my life.  Is he near?”

            “No,” Alexis said.  “He is in the camp and probably being very cross right now for my sneaking away.  The geis of the Kairos came upon him as it fell on all of the little spirits who were near.  They took the alien ship behind the forbidden wall so it might be fixed.  I snuck away because I was curious to see it, but I see it has already been taken behind the wall and the geis has been removed.  That is why I said my father is likely cross with me, for sneaking off.”

            “Alexis, can you take me to your father?”

            Alexis paused.  “I like your face,” she said.  “You remind me of someone I love very much, only I cannot think of who.”

            “It will come to you.  Remember my face whenever you wonder where your father is taking you.  Whenever something does not feel right, think of me and it will come to you.”

            “What a strange suggestion.”

            “So can you take me to your father?”

            “I think not.  You see, we are escaping from the terrible thing that is following us.  Father will not explain it, but he says it wants to take my life and I am much too young to be destroyed in that way.  You see, that was why I asked if you were friend or foe.  I believe you are friend, but I feel for safety sake it is best not to take any chances.”  With that word, a mist came up from the ground and enveloped Alexis.  It spread out and would have enveloped Roland, too, if he did not turn around and move away quickly.  He knew there was no way he could follow his sister or even find her when she did not want to be followed or found, so he thought it best to report back to the others.  Unfortunately, the others were just then returning to Cophu’s house.

            “I was afraid this would happen,” Cophu spoke calmly but they could all see his frustration beneath the surface.  “The wall makes you turn back the way you came and won’t let you leave.”

            Ranna smiled since it seemed impossible for her husband to do so.  “Well, I am glad to have you back.  I enjoy the company, and so do the children, but where is Roland?”  She looked up at Boston

            Boston turned her head to look back while Lincoln spoke.  “He probably made it through the wall.”

            “Chaos said she had no use for the elf,” Katie added.

            Ranna walked up to Boston as Boston dismounted and she helped the woman walk to the house.  “I am sure he will come back,” she said.  Boston said nothing and managed not to cry.

            “People!”  There was a sound of thunder which startled the horses badly but certainly got their attention.  It was Tiamut and she had two people with her that caused them all to stare.  “These do not belong here.  I assume they are yours,” Tiamut said.  “And I trust you had a pleasant journey.”  The goddess vanished but let her laughter linger.  Clearly she thought it was funny.

            One of the men was naked, filthy, bruised, cut in any number of places and showed only fear and distrust in his eyes.  “The werewolf,” Katie said as she stepped up beside Lockhart.

            The other, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, eyed a pile of equipment Tiamut left half-way between him and the travelers.  He was the Gott-Druk from the future that followed them since the days of Odelion.  He rushed for his things, but Lockhart drew his police pistol and shouted.

            “Don’t you dare.”  The Gott-Druk stopped, his hand outstretched but still too far from his things to touch.  Lockhart noticed Katie drew her pistol a smidgen faster than he did.  He nodded to her, and she stepped up and used her foot to move everything a bit further from the spaceman.

            “Careful,” it was Cophu who shouted as he came trotting up with a shoulder bag.  “I made this for when my Shemsu people left this place to travel to the young cities along the Tigris and Euphrates.  Now, you see, Tiamut has us trapped and will not let us leave.”  He handed a bit of bread to Katie without explanation before he bent down and carefully examined everything in the pile.  He put it piece by piece into the bag.

            “Yes,” Lincoln stepped up having finally calmed his and Captain Decker’s and Boston’s horses.  “And she won’t let us leave either.”

            “Ahhh!”  The Gott-Druk reacted when Cophu touched a particular piece.  Cophu had made sure it was shut down, but with that reaction he looked more closely.

            “No need to go invisible now,” he said.

            “It has other properties,” the Gott-Druk said.

            “Yes, of course.”  Cophu turned it on and considered the readout.  He held it up to Lincoln and then waved it past Lockhart and Harper.  “I see.  Good little scanner.”  He shut it off again and put it in the bag.  The Gott-Druk responded by tossing his hands in the air and grunting.  “No doubt how he followed your trail through the various gates,” Cophu added.

            “Neanderthal, got a name?”  Katie asked and Lincoln and Lockhart spoke at the same time.


            “Elder Stow,” the Gott-Druk responded.

            “Katie Harper, Robert Lockhart, Benjamin Lincoln, and Cophu,” Katie made the introductions.  “Boston is the redhead that went inside with Cophu’s wife, Ranna.”

            “Elder?”  Lockhart interrupted with a question.

            “Yes,” Cophu answered for the Gott-Druk.  “They travel in small groups and their ships are designed that way.  The Captain and first mate are called “Father and Mother,” the officers are “Elders and Youngers,” and the crew are their children, at least in name.  It is all very familial.”

            “Actually, Father and Mother share equal duties in captaining a ship,” Elder Stow said.

            “Indeed,” Cophu went back to his last few pieces.

            There was an awkward moment of silence until Cophu finished, stood and spoke again.

             “Elder Stow, why are you here?”

            “You are the one they call the Watcher?  You are the one who sometimes becomes other people in time?”

            “I am.”

            “I have watched you.”

            “I have watched you watching me, even when you thought you were invisible.”

            The Gott-Druk considered this before he dipped his head in a small bow and spoke.  “It was some years ago when my children and I found ourselves in a whirlwind that picked us up from our place and deposited us in the deep past.  At first I feared we landed before the flood, but I soon came to see the land was dominated by humans.  We avoided them.  We lived apart until one of my children discovered a door to another time.  We moved then, not knowing if we were going forward or backward in time until we came at last to the island world where we found ancient people – our people.  We set ourselves to help them become masters of that world, but you intervened and my children were killed.  After that, I followed you having scanned and isolated your being.  At first I was seeking a way to destroy you, but then you helped my people against the ghoulish ones and I became very confused.”

            “Their job is to find their way home,” Cophu said.  “And not interfere with history if they can help it.”

            “So I have perceived,” Elder Stow said.  “You are seeking to return to the future where I also belong.  I would rather go with you than follow you.”  He looked at Lockhart.  “You are the father of your tribe.  May I be as one of your children.”  He bowed his head and waited.  Everyone turned to look at Lockhart.  Based on the encounter he had with the Gott-Druk in the future, Lockhart did not trust this one.  Add to that the fact that they killed Stow’s crew and it was not advisable.  But then, it might be better to know where this one was and stranding him in the past was out of the question.

            “Human parents in my day have a saying for their children,” Lockhart said.  “We’ll see.”  He was not going to commit to a yes or no since as far as he knew the matter was moot.  They could not escape Jericho anymore than Cohpu or his Shemsu people could escape.

            “Fair enough for now,” Cophu said, and he looked up as Boston came tumbling back out of the house and Katie used the bread and tried to coax the wolfman to move toward the house at the same time.  The wolfman stepped back again when Boston yelled out.

            “Roland!”  Roland was still some distance away, but coming on.


Avalon 2.2:  Escape … Next Time

Avalon 2.2: The Wall

            Lockhart explained for Katie, and Roland if he did not know.  “The Elenar are one of the two primary elder races that survived the flood by moving out into space using Agdaline technology.  The Elenar are like proto-humans or Cro-Magnon.  The Neanderthals, that is the Gott-Druk you have already met.

            “And this is an Elenar ship?”  Katie was just checking.  When Lockhart nodded she asked her real question.  “Why don’t they repair it themselves?”

            “They lost a section of the bulkhead,” Cophu interrupted.  “Space got their engineering staff and most of the technical staff as well.  They still have their pilot and he can take the rest of the crew home if they have a working ship.”

            “Will you be able to fix it?” Boston wondered.

            “Replacing the bulkhead is easy.  We just use some of their inner walls and double reinforce them.  My little ones about have that done already.  And as far as I can tell, the actual explosion that blew out the bulkhead did not really damage any of their systems.  I’ll spend tomorrow doing a systems check, but I expect no problems.”  He looked over at the ship where the fires burned and the sound of the night shift could be heard in the clang of metal against metal.

            “Where is home?”  Lockhart had his head pointed up at the stars.

            “About there.”  Cophu pointed at a star, though it was hard to tell exactly which star since after the rain the sky had turned perfectly clear and cloudless and it was covered with millions of stars.

            “These are the same stars Abraham looked at,” Lincoln mused.  “And he was told his seed would number more than the stars in the heavens.  Looking at this sky I can understand why that was so hard to believe.”

            “If you don’t mind,” Cophu gave Lincoln a hard stare.  “That has not happened yet so I would appreciate you keeping such things to yourself.”

            “Right, sorry.”

            “We have broken that rule a few times so far.  Sorry.”  Boston apologized for them all as Ranna came out from the house.

            “All asleep,” she announced quietly.  She stepped over to the fire and sat beside Cophu.  She took his hand which he was happy to give her.  “I thought the boys would never get to sleep with all the excitement today.”

            Lockhart looked at Katie.  It was the first time he looked at her all evening.  She did not seem to notice, but when he turned back to the fire, she looked at him.  “Well, we have had some excitement today as well,” Lockhart said.  “We should also get to sleep if we hope to get an early start in the morning.”  He got up, said goodnight and went to the tent he shared with Roland.  Katie stood as well.

            “Coming Boston?”  Boston let go of Roland’s hand and followed.  Lincoln had his own tent at his insistence, but sometimes he slept by the fire.

            Cophu said nothing.  He did not want to jinx them.  He took Ranna quietly into the house and to bed.

            Come the dawn, there was quiet down by the Elenar ship.  The travelers packed quickly and as quietly as they could, but were not surprised to find Cophu and Ranna up to see them off.  The two held each other in the morning mist, and Ranna whispered in Cophu’s ear.

            “Will they be able to get through?”

            “I don’t think so,” Cophu admitted while he smiled and waved.

            “The trail is clear enough,” Boston said from the front.  “All we have to do is follow the trench made by all those ogres that dragged in the Elenar ship.”

            “I just hope none of those ogres stuck around after the job was done,” Lincoln said.  Boston and Roland looked back and Katie and Lockhart looked up as well.  “What?  It’s my job to say things like that.”

            “So when do you think we will reach the wall of Chaos?”  Katie asked quietly.

            “We should feel it, like coming in.  You remember, that static electricity feeling,” Lockhart answered with equal quiet, and then they rode in silence.

            The way was in truth easy to where Roland only had to ride out front a few times to check sounds in the distance.  It was all farm fields at first, mostly wheat and some rye.  The sky remained clear, and the sun came out so it got warm, but not too hot.  In all, it was a pleasant ride and all went well until Roland called the group to halt.

            “Hold your horses quiet,” Roland said softly.  He had his elf ears tuned to something.  He turned after a moment and looked at Lincoln.  “It sounds like a horse up ahead, but you better let me check it out first.”

            “That’s an order.”  Lockhart quickly spoke from the rear.  Lincoln turned with his face full of hope that it might be Alexis, but he was good and waited.  Boston, who was up front, kept her eyes on Roland for as long as she could.  She shrieked.  It startled everyone.

            “He vanished,” she said, and raced forward.  With one “damn,” from Lockhart since the others were obliged to follow her.

            “Roland?  Roland?”  Boston began to call out as she rode.

            “Roland?”  Lockhart added his voice to the call and Lincoln and Katie echoed him, but at last he forced Boston to halt.  “We may have passed him,” he said.  “We might need to turn around and check off the trail for signs of him.”

            “No.  I looked at the grain on either side as we went by.  It hasn’t been disturbed.”  Boston was in a fretful state.

            “I have to say I checked, too.” Katie spoke up.  “If he left the trail, I missed it.”

            “Wait,” Lincoln made Boston pause.  She already had her horse turned.  “What is that?”  He pointed.  It was the Elenar ship.  It could be seen even if the houses near it were still hidden by the grain.

            “We can’t have gotten turned around,” Lockhart said.  Again, Boston did not wait.  She turned away from sight of the ship and spurred her horse to a run.  Again the others were obliged to follow.

            “Roland!  Roland!”  She called, but there was no answer, and in less than ten minutes they were back at Lincoln’s spot, staring at the distant ship.

            “But we never turned around.” Katie insisted and no one argued.

            “Roland!”  Boston stood up in her stirrups and shouted as loud as she could.

            “Look here,” Katie was being practical.  Lincoln looked as did Lockhart, but Lockhart kept one eye on Boston.  “I can see where our tracks galloped off from here.”  Katie pointed in the direction that would take them away from the ship.

            “What does the amulet say?”  Lockhart asked.

            Boston paused.  She pulled it out and stared at it.  She looked up and looked bewildered and a little afraid.  “It doesn’t say anything.”

            “Tiamut’s wall,” Lincoln said.  “Apparently she did not want the elf.”


Avalon 2.2:  Forgotten and Unexpected … Next Time

Avalon 2.2: Goddesses


            The sun was just rising when a man stepped out of the house next door and found six large and strange beasts in his barn and seven strange people sitting around a table out front having a breakfast fit for a king and a pleasant conversation besides.  He responded as anyone might.

            “Hey!  What the Hell are you doing on my property.  Who are you people?”

            AhnYani and KimKeri got up immediately and Roland ventured a comment.  “Don’t look.”

            The others were distracted, but only for a second as AhnYani and KimKeri began to glow with power and holiness.  The man fell to his knees as they neared, and he threw his hands to his trembling face to cover his eyes.  He looked afraid for his life, but all KimKeri did was bend down and kiss the man on his balding forehead.

            “Love your wife and be content,” she said.  “And stay away from the prostitutes.”

            “What’s wrong with the prostitutes?” AhnYani wondered.  KimKeri just grabbed AhnYani’s hand and brought her back to the table.  The man stood like one in a trance and went back inside his house.

            “That was very interesting,” Lincoln said.

            “I can’t eat another bite,” Lockhart suggested, and KimKeri looked at him and nodded to his wisdom.

            “We should go,” she agreed and the table and all vanished while the travelers readied their horses.

            The walk through town was uneventful.  There were times Katie imagined the goddesses made them invisible, but then there were times when they were clearly seen.  People gaped at them, jaws wide open, but no one imagined getting in their way, and probably would have let them pass without incident even if they were not being escorted by goddesses.

            When they reached the other side of the city, there were some small open fields, like public parks, and the architecture changed.  Most of the city was wood structures with thatch or clay and wood roofs that had a post-neolithic look about them.  Here, the houses were stone, and stone without mortar to hold them together, no less.  The stones looked to be fitted perfectly like they were machine crafted and surely nothing primitive.

            “These are Shemsu people, like Qito’s people,” Lincoln explained as he read from the database.

            “So they know how to work the stones,” Katie surmised.

            “And levitate them into place,” Lincoln nodded.

            “Probably built the city walls,” Boston suggested.

            “No doubt,” Lincoln agreed as they moved through a gate in that wall.  They had reached the other side of the city. 

            A small group of huts extended beyond the wall, well into the fields the people farmed like a hamlet.  “Just as well,” Lockhart verbalized his own thoughts as he looked back at the massive stones in that wall.  “I would rather have the wall between us and the city people.”  Katie, who walked beside him, nodded.

            In the very last house, as far from the city as one could go, they found two boys, seven-year-old twins   They were having a contest to see who could hold the stone in the air the longest, using only their minds, of course.  When the travelers became visible, the stone plummeted to the earth because the travelers were not all strangers.

            “KimKeri!” The boys shouted and ran up for hugs, and Kimkeri hugged them like a mother might hug her own.  They hugged her back with equal fervor before they turned to AhnYani.

            “AhnYani!”  They shouted her name in unison, too, and the goddess grabbed them and tossed them both up in the air – about twenty feet.  She caught them, of course, as they plummeted like their stone, screaming their joy and giggling like babies.  It had to be better than a roller coaster.

            “Ranna,” KimKeri called ahead toward the house.  A little girl of maybe five years came out first, and she ran as well as she could, her arms outstretched, but she caught her foot on a stone and fell.  She skinned her knee and looked up at KimKeri with tears in her eyes.  KimKeri was there and picked up the girl before the travelers could blink.  The girl’s skinned knee was instantly healed and, there is no other way to say it, KimKeri mothered all over the girl.

            A round but good looking woman came from the house with a two-year-old on her hip.  “Ladies,” she said with a slight, temporary lowering of her eyes.

            “You have company,” KimKeri pointed as she came up and exchanged kisses on the cheek.

            AhnYani bounced up with the two boys, one in each hand.  “They are Cophu’s friends from the future.”

            The woman looked at the travelers for the first time and gave them the same sort of reception she gave the goddesses.  She lowered her eyes for a moment and dipped her head ever so slightly before she spoke.

            “My husband is out retrieving some great thing, I know not.  It is outside the wall Chaos erected so he had to ask his little ones to bring it in.  He says he must fix it for the ones from far away.”  Ranna took her free hand and waved it at the sky.  “While we wait, you are welcome here.  We do not have much, but you are welcome to share in all that we have.”

            Lockhart and Katie stepped up and with a look at the side of the house, the others nodded and went to tie their horses off while Lockhart spoke.  “It seems to me if you have these two lovely ladies as friends you have everything a person could want.”

            Katie put her hand up to pat his shoulder, to encourage him.  She thought that was very well said.

            “But we see so little of our friends,” Ranna replied as she gave AhnYani the same sort of kiss on her cheek.

            “Chaos does keep us busy,” KimKeri admitted.  “El and his court can be very demanding.”

            AhnYani said nothing,  She was busy tickling the two-year-old while the five-year-old hid in KimKeri’s shoulder.

            “What are these wonderful beasts.” The boys were right there with Boston, Roland and Lincoln who looked trapped into answering.  The two boys had the three grown-ups surrounded.  Lockhart laughed at the sight as Katie spoke.

            “Chaos has threatened to use us as well, be we hope to move on in the morning.”  She looked at Lockhart to be sure and he nodded.

            “That may not be so easy,” Ranna said.  “Even Cophu is trapped by the wall outside the wall that Chaos has put up.”

            “You mean Tiamut?”  Lincoln escaped the boys and caught up with the conversation.  The two goddesses and Ranna looked at him and frowned.  Even Lockhart and Katie had avoided that name, even if just on principle. 

            “Best not to say her name,” KimKeri said.

            “She will hear you,” AhnYani whispered.

            “Ah, but here comes Cophu now,” KimKeri pointed toward a rise in the distance.  All the people could see was something was coming and it looked terribly big.

            “The ship we saw plummeting to the ground when we first arrived,” Katie said, and her hand went again to touch Lockhart’s upper arm as if vying for his attention.

            “Not a stick ship, nor Agdaline nor Balok,” Lockhart said and he looked at Katie who quickly removed her hand.

            “No, don’t you dare,” KimKeri said, firmly, but she was talking to AhnYani and did not explain what she was talking about.

            Lockhart, Katie and Lincoln watched for a moment before they turned to figure out overnight accommodations for the horses.  They pitched their tents, not wishing to crowd the home where six already crowded in.  They built a fire, and KimKeri and AhnYani provided a late afternoon feast before they said their good-byes.  It was actually several hours before Cophu arrived, and when he did he was not in a good mood at first.


Avalon 2.2:  The Wall … Next Time