Avalon 3.3 part 5 of 6, Three Witches

Martok heard the cry from overhead and he dared to look. The flying creature of the witches was a griffin, a magnificent creature, and bigger than he imagined. It was a lion with eagle wings, an eagle head and eagle claws instead of the lion’s front paws. That was how the humans saw it and revered it in stone in the millennia to come. But Martok was not human. He was Bospori, and with his alien eyes, he saw something alien about the creature. He wondered briefly what planet the griffins came from, but then he returned to his work because he had more adjustments to make.

The Griffin swooped down to hover in front of the witches. Its powerful wings blew the thatch off the nearest houses and stirred up a dust storm. Martok had to lean over to protect the exposed internal electrics of the Gott-Druk scanner. It did not hover for long, though, before it started over the houses toward the villagers and the children huddled down on the beach.Caspian Griffin

“Damn,” Martok breathed and he twisted the Blueblood tube half a rotation. The griffin instantly fell unconscious from the projected feedback, and it crushed a house on its way to the ground. Martok hoped it was not seriously hurt, but he knew he needed a stronger wave to take down the witches. He was afraid if the witches were smart enough to recognize what he did, he might not live long enough to make that happen.

“Move village. Move village.” The witch in the center repeated its programmed speech twice, and if a robot could be said to be angry, this one sounded angry.

“We bring ourselves,” The one on the left had to say something.

“Ourselves, come,” said the one on the right, and it was followed by several rapid explosions and sudden holes in the ground all around where Martok was working. Decker and Katie answered with their rifles. A few bullets penetrated and created sparks, but most merely dented the robot’s metal skin. Arrows and spears did not even do that much, but then Elder Stow stepped out from behind the house where he had taken refuge, and he fired a wide angle shot that took in all three witches.

The two witches on the outside wobbled in the air. They stopped firing briefly. The witch in the center fell to the ground, but it rose back up again before Andovar’s men or the Amazons could get to it.

“It is going after movement,” Major Decker yelled in the momentary lull.

Katie imagined motion detectors and yelled. “Alia, everyone stand still, stay where you are.”

Most of the men and women did not stand still, so the witches started firing again. They fired some kind of pulse from their right hands at the end of stiff right arms. Katie and Decker continued to search for joints and weak spots while people died and the center witch flew over to the back side of the village.Caspian witch

The witch ran straight into Lockhart. Boston was the first to fire, but her Beretta did nothing and Roland pulled her down to shield her with his own body. The witch turned on them, but Lockhart fired his shotgun before the witch could take aim. Unlike Katie and Decker, he did not aim for the robot middle. He shot the hand – the weapon that was wreaking so much havoc. The hand broke off at the wrist and fell to the dirt. It held wires that sparked and sizzled. The witch gave the hand an uncomprehending look, but managed to rise up again before Lockhart could shoot the head.

“I thought we were dead,” Roland admitted.

“No. I came this way to get close up for a shotgun blast. I see I was right. Come on,” Lockhart came to a space between two houses which was right alongside the witches in the square. Before he reached a position to fire, he felt a deep pulse in his chest, and the two witches in the square collapsed.

The one with the missing hand appeared It was going after Martok, but then Elder Stow stepped out again from his hiding spot and fired at the robot head He had turned his weapon back to a narrow beam and turned up the power. The head of the witch vaporized, and the last witch fell in flames.

Iddin-Addad came back when Martok went away. He handed the scanner back to Elder Stow and took out his long knife. He went to all three grounded witches, including the headless one. “They are self-repairing up to a point,” he said to anyone who was listening as he tore the back of the Witch’s dress, opened the back panel and yanked out the power source. “If they can’t repair, they may be designed to self-destruct,” he added the last note more softly.

Men came from all around the village and they were soon followed by the women and children. Most celebrated, but that was blunted some by the four dead men and the number of wounded. Alia lost two women from her troop. Katie and Decker both took a couple of cuts from shattered rocks, but otherwise the travelers were not affected. By chance, neither the monsters nor the witches touched the house that held Alexis, Lincoln and their wounded man. Of course, Alexis now had more wounds to tend to, but Doctor Mishka returned to give her a hand.Caspian child 1

“Indo-Aryan,” Katie explained to Lockhart and Boston. “Most of the ones north of here have already pushed into Europe and down into Italy and Greece and up into Scandinavia, pushed by the movement of the Slavic peoples that are more slowly expanding into the west. The ones here are like Cimmerians, and on the other side of the Caspian they are like the Scythians. They are also the same people who eventually move down and take over India.”

“Indo-Aryans,” Lockhart repeated.

“So this is like Hitler’s famous people?” Boston asked.

“In name only,” Katie answered as Boston looked around.

“But I don’t see many blonde hairs or blue eye in them,” she concluded, and then she excused herself to find Roland and make sure that hobgoblin was not making any moves.

Caspian child 2“Sorry,” Katie apologized. “Sometimes I can’t help it. I see things that were not entirely clear, sort of theoretical in graduate school, and now they make perfect sense. I just talk too much.”

“No,” Lockhart waved off her concern. “I was never good at history, at least the details, but I enjoy it when you explain it.”

Katie had to turn her head to the side to look at the village. “And you pay attention,” she said as a smile touched the corners of her lips.

“Yes I do,” Lockhart said, and he thought close, personal attention.

Avalon 3.3: part 4 of 6, The Giant of Transvaak

The giant roared. He tossed boulders at the village from a distance. Most struck the dirt and rolled to a stop. A few cracked against the stone huts and a couple of walls collapsed. One went through the roof where, fortunately, no one was home. Katie and the Amazons ran up from the horse pen. The Amazons arrived with their bows at the ready. The local men with their spears looked lost until Andovar shouted.

“Get the village down on the beach,” Several men ran off to do that, but most of the men stood ready with their spears. Andovar organized them around their homes. Katie and Decker had their rifles ready and Lockhart had his shotgun. Lincoln pulled his pistol. Boston got her Beretta and Roland looked ready to join the Amazons with his bow in hand. Iddin thought it was all a bit of overkill for one little giant. The poor giant would fall full of holes and sharp points, and never make it in to the village, no matter how big he was.

“Do you have stun on that weapon?” Iddin asked.

“I already asked that,” Lockhart said.

Elder Stow shrugged a final time before he fired. The giant, some fifteen feet tall, was close enough by then to be hard to miss. He staggered under the stun-ray and stopped throwing stones, but he continued to move forward. It looked like something was driving him. “Forgive me if I kill the fellow,” Elder stow said. “Not intentional.” He fired again.caspian giant

The giant came to the edge of the village and fell face down in a field of grain. Iddin-Addad immediately left his time and place so Doctor Mishka could have the first look at the big man. She came dressed in the armor of the Kairos, a precaution, but instead of bristling with sharp weapons, she arrived with a simple satchel over her shoulder

“Roland and Boston. Lincoln and Elder Stow. Andovar and Alia, you can come too, but leave the rest of your people here.” Mishka marched off to examine the giant. When she arrived, she saw that he was an old man and wondered why he attacked. “What?” She spoke to the sky. “Oh, I see,” she added. It was like she was speaking to someone, but not anyone physically present.

“How long will he stay out?” Lincoln asked.

“I cannot say,” Elder Stow responded. Obviously, his weapon was not designed for giants.

“Scanner.” Mishka held out her hand. Elder Stow hesitated before he handed his weapon to Lincoln. Lincoln held it gingerly with his thumb and forefinger. He dared not touch any other part of the weapon for fear he might set it off. Mishka took the scanner and scanned all around the giant’s head. She adjusted the settings several times before she settled on the giant’s right temple. She returned the scanner and retrieved a bronze scalpel from her satchel.

“Andovar and Alia, sit on his shoulders. Lincoln and Boston, hold his head.” To be sure, the giant was three times the size of a normal man, but that was not as imposing as it might sound.

Mishka, a surgeon by training, cut expertly. It bled, as any injury to the head will, but the cut was paper thin despite the crude looking scalpel. Mishka pulled the forceps from her satchel, and it took no time at all to pull a thin, glowing tube from the giant’s head. She stitched up the wound and bandaged it while she asked Andovar to fetch men to tie up the giant.

“I am sure you know what is best. I honestly don’t know what relationship you may have formed with the giant, only don’t kill him. Alia, he is not allowed to kill the giant.” She hated putting one group to watch the other, but it would keep them both busy for a bit and out of deeper trouble.

“Yes, Doe-ctor.” Alia bowed her head. She did not pronounce the word “doctor” correctly, but she clearly knew who Mishka was.

When Mishka was finished, Iddin-Addad came back. He wisely kept the armor. He lost the doctor’s satchel but added his sword and long knife to the ensemble. He held tight to the tube taken from the giant’s temple and examined it as he walked back to where Lockhart and the others were waiting.

“What is it?” Elder Stow asked before Lincoln could frame the words. Iddin said nothing, so Boston nudged him.

“What is it?”

“Back in the future, I called this technology brain controllers. They work at a certain frequency. Scanner.” Iddin held his hand out again and this time Elder Stow put his weapon away before he took out the scanner. Iddin scanned the tube and then sat on the dirt in the middle of the town square while he removed the top of the scanner to get at the sophisticated insides. “I need to find a way to plug this tube in to amplify the thing and cause some feedback,” he said, without further explanation.

“What are we facing?” Lockhart asked.

“What are those witches?” Katie asked at the same time.

“Robots of some kind,” Elder Stow answered Katie as he took a seat and leaned his nose into Iddin’s business, concerned about his equipment. The others, including Alia and Andovar, joined them. They all sat in the middle of the village where the villagers had to walk around them. Lincoln opted to check on his wife, Alexis, and the wounded man.

Iddin talked while he examined things. “This is Blueblood technology. Not exactly compatible. The witches are the defense mechanism for a crashed ship. They go out and find whatever monsters they can. They control the monsters and use them to drive away the indigenous population until there is about a hundred square mile free zone around the ship. It helps protect the survivors of a crash and leaves plenty of room for rescue ships to land.”

Iddin traded places through time to let Martok work on the scanner and the tube. Andovar got a word in to Alia. “Are you understanding this?”

“Not much, but these people are known in the legends of my people and I trust them without question.”

Andovar nodded, but then looked like he was wondering why he asked an Amazon, whom he hardly trusted.

“Hey!” Boston shouted and pointed to the sky above the house next to where the witches floated. Something was still floating there, and it looked like an eye. People jumped. Decker wanted to take a shot at it, but the eye buzzed off to the south where they saw the three witches returning.

caspian eyeball“I assume they left the eye to observe how we handled the giant,” Lockhart said.

“Yes, that is very good,” Martok looked up. “I knew there was a reason you were Director of the Men in Black.”

“Assistant Director,” Lockhart said softly, but he did not argue.

“Blueblood scanner?” Elder stow asked about the eye.

Martok nodded. “But not nearly as sophisticated as yours.” He twisted the Blueblood tube into place in the Elder’s scanner. “Mostly just a camera with maybe infra-red and some audio pick-up.”

Men and Amazons began to take up defensive positions around the village. Katie and Decker split to cover both sides of the village square. Lockhart, with Boston and then Roland following, started around the outside of the houses with the hope of catching the witches from a better angle.

The witches stopped this third time in the same place as before, and the center one raised its voice again. “Move Village.”

“We bring the flying creature,” the one on the left made her pronouncement.

“Flying creature, come,” the one on the right said.

“Dragon or something else?” Martok asked Elder Stow as he turned his back on the witches. Martok had his cape on, and though he was right out in the middle of an open space, he merely pulled his hood over his head while he kept working. Elder Stow thought about it, but finally abandoned his scanner and made for the back corner of a house. He pulled his weapon and began to make some adjustments.

Avalon 3.3: part 3 of 6, Serpents of the Deep

Iddin-Addad stood on the beach and took a long whiff of salt air. “One day those hill will be covered with grass and trees. All they need is several thousand years for the wind and rain to leach out all the salt in the soil.”

“How do you figure?” Clicker asked.

“Easy. The Caspian Sea is shrinking. Once, it covered those little hills and deposited plenty of salt. Now, it is drying up, and the sea will continue to get smaller over the next some thousand years.”

“I like it,” Serpentelle said as she splashed her feet in the water. “I never got to see the water before in caspian sea 4the sunlight.”

“You are a hobgoblin now, no longer stuck in the dark,” Iddin told her for the thousandth time.

“I know, and I can’t wait to have a handful of little hobgoblins.”

“Not with me you don’t,” Iddin said as he looked down the beach in the direction they had to travel.

Serpentelle smiled at him even if he did not notice, before she turned to the imp. “How about with you, Clicker.” She bent down to kiss the imp’s gray, bald forehead and gave him a good view of her scantily clad body. Iddin noticed a little reddening underneath Clicker’s gray skin.

Clicker coughed when Serpentelle stood up straight again and looked once more at the sea. “We best keep moving on,” Clicker said.

“I don’t think we can,” Iddin responded. Nine riders, warriors by the look of them, were blocking their path.

###

The three witches floated in the air and let their eyes look all around the village, like they were calculating something. “Move village.” The one in the center spoke in the local tongue.

“We bring the three serpents of the deep,” the one on the left spoke. It was in a language unknown to the locals, but thanks to the translation gift of the Kairos, the travelers understood perfectly what the witch said.

“Serpents, come!” The one on the right shouted.

“Move village,” the center one repeated and the three witches flew off down the beach that the travelers had just come up.

“Congratulations Major,” Lockhart said. “We managed that whole exchange without you taking a potshot at one of the witches.”

Caspian sea 2“It was tempting,” Decker said. “Just to see what they were made out of.”

“Some kind of robotics,” Elder Stow reported what they already guessed.

“The serpents?” Katie got their attention and they followed her down to the sea which was already beginning to bubble with activity. Of course, it turned out there was only one serpent left, and it squealed when it saw the travelers, like it recognized them and did not want to be there. But it could not help itself. It was still bleeding from several bullet holes it received earlier in the day, but it dutifully began to reach for boats and nets, to tear them up.

“Allow me,” Elder Stow said, and he fired his weapon. The energy beam sliced perfectly through the neck, and like the last time, the head fell before the body joined it “Mercifully quick,” Elder Stow added even as Andovar and some thirty men armed with spears and bows came to the beach.

There were several moments of silence and dropped jaws before spontaneous joy erupted from the men on the beach. It was quickly joined by shouts and cheers from the people around the village. Boston took Roland’s hand and said they had to check on Alexis. The others and Andovar abruptly paused the celebration when they saw the witches returning. It was hard to tell on those unexpressive faces, but the travelers imagined the witches were not too happy

The witches moved again to the edge of the village and the center one spoke once more. “Move village”

“We bring the Giant of the Transvaak,” the one on the left said.

“Giant, come!” The one on the right shouted.

“You got a stun setting on that thing?” Lockhart asked.

Elder Stow fiddled with something on his weapon, but shook his head at the same time. “I don’t know about robots as you call them, or giants,” he said as the witches once again flew off down the beach to the south.

“We may have a wait,” Andovar said “The giant lives some distance from here.”

“Good to know,” Lincoln said

“How big?” Elder Stow asked.

“Which direction?” Major Decker asked.

“Hold up!” Katie yelled and pointed. There were twelve horses riding toward the village, eleven with riders, though one horse appeared to have two figures on it. Andovar quickly gathered his men into some semblance of a defensive formation, and they waited.caspian ponies

The riders were mostly women, as it turned out. One man and one of the women dismounted immediately on arrival. “Hey, Lockhart,” Iddin got that much out before he was surrounded by spears. The woman drew her sword. The other women appeared to have bows already strung and ready for battle.

“No, no,” Lockhart spoke quickly. “Andovar. That would be most unwise.”

There was serious tension in the air until they heard a squeak from the back of the horse that appeared to be wandering off down toward the beach.

“Help.” It was a pitiful sound.

“Get your paws off of me.” The response came in a woman’s strong voice.

Iddin rolled his eyes. “Clicker! Serpentelle!” he yelled and pointed at the small space in front of where he stood. The little ones appeared as out of nowhere. Clicker breathed. Serpentelle brushed off her little bit of clothes and remarked.

“Normally I don’t mind hands all over me, but you were preventing me from getting down.”

The men with the spears backed up. It was hard to say what was more frightening, the imp or the hobgoblin, or maybe the fact that this man just called them to appear out of thin air. Iddin signaled to the woman beside him and she lowered her sword. She turned to her troop and shouted, “Lower your weapons.”

“Borsi, put down the spears,” Andovar shouted as soon as he found his breath. The spears were lowered, but Iddin was already on another track.

“Hey, Katie. I brought some friends of yours.” The woman beside Iddin opened her mouth and her eyes, wide. She rushed to Katie and two of the women in the troop leapt from their horses and joined her. All three went to their knees.

“Elect,” the first woman said. “The second in all the world. Zoe is gracious to her humble servants.”

“Yeah.” Iddin was still speaking. “The Amazon seer said I was going to face a terrible monster and she sent help all the way from the Black Sea. They have been chasing me for weeks, and finally caught me just up the beach here. Say, where is Little Fire?”caspian village 2

“You? Facing a terrible monster? Hard to believe,” Lockhart said and Decker almost smiled.

“Here I am,” Boston said as she and Roland came back out of the house. “What’s up?”

“Iddin-Addad,” Lincoln pointed at the newcomer.

“Just Iddin,” Iddin said. “Addad is a reference to our family god, if you follow me. Nice guy, by the way. I met him.”

“Come on Alia.” Katie was already giving orders. “Let’s get your horses rubbed down and put up for the night.”

“Can someone explain what is happening?” Andovar shouted to the sky. Lincoln and Lockhart decided to try to explain the inexplicable.

Boston and Roland came close and Serpentelle became very animated. “An elf. A light elf Well, well. I could have fun with this one”

Boston grabbed Roland’s hand. “Not a chance. He is taken.” The fire danced in her eyes.

“I don’t traffic much with hobgoblins,” Roland said, honestly.

“I could show you how,” Serpentelle batted her eyes and wiggled her fine figure in an enticing way.

Boston found the fire down in the palms of her hands and Roland had to let go quickly to keep from being burned.

“Hold it” Iddin bravely stepped between the women. “Boston. You have no claim until you and Roland make a decision.” That stopped Boston cold and she looked at Roland, but he deliberately kept his eyes on the Kairos whom he hoped was not finished speaking “And Serpentelle. You keep your wiggles to yourself. You can practice on Clicker, but that is it.” Serpentelle pouted.

“Incoming,” Major Decker interrupted everyone. At least he was still keeping watch.

“He is bigger than I thought.”  Elder Stow shook his head again.

The giant began to throw stones into the village that were more nearly the size of small boulders.

Avalon 3.3: part 2 of 6, The Fishermen

Iddin-Addad paused at the top of the next hill. There were some trees that he could hide behind and spy on who was following them. The people were on horseback, whoever they were, so they moved slowly through the hills, weaving in and out and around the hills. Iddin went over the rocky top, which was quicker, but tiring. If they did not reach the sea soon, he would have to stop and seriously rest.

“We are almost there,” Clicker said with a little less optimism than usual. Serpentelle did not let out her expected giggle. She was too busy peeking over Iddin’s shoulder and trying to be good. She just couldn’t be good. Her serpent-like tongue squirted out and licked Iddin’s ear.

“Serpentelle!”Caspian hills 3

“I’m sorry, but you smell so good. You taste so good.”

“Stop it. I am not for smelling and not on the menu.”

“I didn’t mean that kind of tasting.” Serpentelle grinned, batted her long lashes and pretended to be shy which no one in their right mind would believe.

“Forget it.” Iddin stood. “They seem to have a sixth sense about when I am looking and don’t show themselves.”

“I think there are seven,” Clicker said in all seriousness. “There may be more. There may be less.” He shrugged.

Iddin rolled his eyes and started down the back of the hill. Serpentelle sashayed beside him and kept looking at him with a humble expression, but her eyelids still batted away. Clicker walked on the other side and got out the words “We are –“ before Iddin put a hand over the imp’s big mouth.

###

Elder Stow did not float quite so far over the water this time. He clung to the shoreline, kept his eyes wide open, and one eye on his scanner. Major Decker wandered out over the sharper rocks, inland. He let his horse pick the way while he continually scanned the horizon. He only hoped he would not have to make a dash for safety over those sharp rocks.

“We are coming up on the village,” Roland reported. After passing that morning through the second abandoned village, Decker took the time to let his mind rise up with the eagles and spy out the land ahead. Elder Stow extended his scanner as far out as he could, but he admitted at that distance, his little handheld could not distinguish between human and animal life signs.

Caspian 2“What reaction do you think we might receive?” Lincoln asked.

“No telling,” Roland answered. “Humans have a way of surprising me.” He turned his elf smile on Boston.

“Wailing women,” Boston said, and she looked at Roland like a woman who might wail if she lost him.

“We don’t know if these men are from the village,” Alexis countered. “These might have been the ones who drove the other villagers off.”

“No.” Lincoln and Lockhart spoke together. They eyed each other and Lockhart motioned for Lincoln to explain.

“Whatever drove the people from their villages was not local. We found burn marks from energy weapons.”

“Bluebloods or Pendratti?” Katie asked Lockhart quietly.

“Maybe the elusive Sevarese,” he answered. “Probably not Gott-Druk or Elenar. I believe Elder Stow would have identified them as such.”

Katie nodded and turned her attention forward. There were a dozen horsemen riding out to meet them. They stopped several yards off. Katie and Lockhart split and came up alongside Boston and Roland. Decker and Elder Stow shadowed Lincoln and Alexis.

Three of the village men separated from the group and came forward slowly, without a word. They recognized the ponies and, from the look of it, the dead men. One pushed around Decker to examine Alexis’ wounded man. The other two, in particular the elder one, kept a close eye on the proceedings. The wounded man showed some sign of movement when they stopped, but his eyes never opened.

Alexis reacted before the local could touch the wounded man. “Are you a healer?” The local looked up, surprised. He gently shook his head. “Then keep your hands off him. I won’t be responsible if you kill him with your bungling.”Avalon 3 explorers on horseback

The local withdrew his hand and looked at his elder. The elder appeared to nod. “Come,” he said, and he turned back to his troop. They all entered the village together and Alexis had a hard time keeping one of Boston’s wailing women from dragging the man off the pony and into the dirt.

Katie and Lockhart dismounted in the center square and untied their ponies for the locals to take away. Decker opted to stay up on his mustang for the moment where he could look down on events. His horse was far taller than the horses the locals rode. Elder Stow floated down to use his own feet. The locals did not know what to make of the Gott-Druk, but they gave him plenty of space.

The elder man who came out to meet them came up to Roland with his two followers, but Roland merely pointed at Lockhart. Lockhart introduced himself and Katie and the man reciprocated.

“Andovar.”

“Your wounded friend has not said much so far.”

“Pedic. He and some of his people were trying to get back to their village to gather the things they left behind.”

“He spoke of three witches.”

Andovar nodded. “Pedic’s people and Lorimar’s both claim they were driven out by the witches and many fear we will be next. But above us, the land is ruled by the Scaldi so there is nowhere we can go.”

“Inland?” Katie wondered.

“Dry and stones. Our land grows little” The man shrugged. “We are fishermen.”caspian village 1

Lockhart understood. There was a real beach here, and a number of primitive boats and nets set out to dry. Several small fields had been cleared of rocks to grow grain of some sort. The rocks were used in the houses, since wood was scarce enough. There were trees and bushes in places, but no forest of any kind. The people burned something like coal for heat and to cook. They also had stone ovens for baking, which Katie pointed out. It appeared they had not yet learned to bake clay into pots, but the coal obviously burned hot enough to melt and shape whatever soft metals came to hand.

“Alexis,” Lockhart called, but she was busy. “Boston.”

“Yes, boss.” Boston was nosing around and her horse was sticking to her shoulder. “Tell Alexis. You can share the bread crackers here.”

Boston waved. Katie spoke. “A hard life.”

“Hard for you,” Lockhart spoke to her in English so Andovar would not understand. “You are not allowed to show them how to better store their grain or how to make pots or anything.”

“I understand. The Kairos would not be happy if I did that.” Katie made a joke, but got serious to match Lockhart’s more serious look. “I really do understand. Messing with history is not a good idea.”

“Incoming.” Decker interrupted with the word. Everyone looked up. There were three figures flying toward them. Lincoln, Boston and Roland were already bringing their horses and Alexis’ gray to a fenced in area. Alexis was in a nearby house with their wounded man. Decker pulled his rifle, dismounted, and hurried his horse in the same direction. Katie and Lockhart followed his example. Andovar tried to gather his men, but most of the rest of the village went into a panic when they saw what was coming.

The three witches came to the edge of the village where they hovered fifteen feet off the ground. The travelers heard the slight hum and saw the little light that came from beneath their long dresses. They did not appear to have legs, but they had arms and hands that Boston guessed were gloved until Elder Stow pointed out that they were metal hands. They also had faces that only approximated human faces. Their mouths opened and closed when they spoke, but the lips did not move with the words, like some cheesy animation. And they spoke while the people stared up at them in abject terror.

Avalon 3.3 Fireworks, part 1 of 6

After 3029 BC, around the Caspian Sea. Kairos lifetime 36: Iddin-Addad

Recording …

Every time Iddin-Addad reached the top of a hill, he expected to see the shoreline of the Caspian Sea stretched out in front of him in blue and deep glory. Instead, he found there was yet one more hill. “There is always another hill to climb,” he said out loud, and then scolded his tongue for mouthing the cliché.

“We are almost there,” Clicker the imp said. He always said it with the same cheery voice, and Iddin thought if he said it one more time, he might hit the imp.

Serpentelle, the hobgoblin laughed. She always laughed when the imp said it, and licked her lips with Caspian hills 2her forked tongue. Iddin thought he might have to do something about these two and their obsessive, compulsive disorders.

Iddin stopped and looked back. Whoever that group was that was following, they were still following.

###

“Over here,” Roland yelled. “This one is alive.”

Boston raced up and dismounted before her horse stopped moving. She rushed to Roland’s side, but said nothing as she looked. Alexis was moments behind. She arrived as the man began to moan and mumble.

“Three witches,” the man said. “No escape. Three witches.” He fell back into a semi-conscious state as Alexis came up and began to lay on hands to heal the man’s obvious wounds.

Lincoln and Lockhart rode up more slowly. They each had a string of ponies that trailed out behind their stallions. Three of the ponies had dead bodies of men carefully draped over the backs and tied underneath with old fishing net to keep them from falling off.

“Did he say anything?” Lockhart asked. He was searching for some idea of what they might be up against.

caspian 1“He said something about three witches,” Boston responded. Lincoln quickly looked around. That did not sound good.

“We must be getting near the Kairos.” Lockhart tried not to grin.

“How do you figure?” Lincoln asked without moving his eyes from the horizon, what he could see of it over the hills.

“Dead bodies and witches. What could be more Kairos than that?”

Lincoln gave Lockhart a foul look, as Katie came up leading another pony. “That makes seven ponies,” she said. “But we only found four men.” She craned her neck to see what she could. “How is he?”

“He’ll live,” Alexis stood. “But I have no doubt he has a concussion and maybe some internal bleeding around the brain. He had a terrible gash there.” Alexis looked at the arrangement. “Katie, would you take Lincoln’s string of horses? I want to tie the pony you found to the back of Benjamin’s horse so we can put our wounded one on it. I want to keep an eye on him.” Katie nodded, and she and Lincoln got down to make that arrangement.

Major Decker and Elder Stow came in last and the Elder reported. “The scanner doesn’t pick up any more bodies.” He looked up. “Flesh and blood bodies.”

Caspian pony“There is a village not too far north along the shore,” Decker said with one more look around. “But this is a pretty desolate area.” The rises in the ground they had been traveling over were full of rocks. The horses had to tread carefully. Even the shoreline of the Caspian Sea was rocky, though those stones were rounded from the sea and the tides. “No place to hide a body here,” he concluded. There were trees here and there and some grass and bushes between the rocks, but that was it.

Lincoln got up on his horse to keep the horse steady while they got the wounded man up on the pony. They draped the man’s arms around the neck of the pony and Alexis and Roland did some magic to keep him glued there. Lincoln would not be able to move fast in any case because of the man’s wounds and head trauma, but at least they would not have to worry about the man falling off.

Roland and Boston prepared to take the point, as usual. They had seen two villages in the morning, likely fishing villages, but both were deserted. There were signs of violence, like the people were driven out in a hurry, but at least they found no bodies until now.

Lincoln and Alexis took the middle, and Alexis paralleled the pony with the wounded man. Decker and Elder Stow switched their normal sides so Decker could watch the inland flank while Elder Stow floated over the sea. Katie and Lockhart took rear guard position, still wary of what might be following them, though presently, two strings of ponies with three dead men, trailed out behind. The ponies at least seemed to be obedient animals and had not bucked much since being tied in a line.

“We ready?” Lockhart asked with a quick look around at the nods. “Wagons ho!” He waved his hand forward and spoke in a funny voice before he turned to Katie. “I always wanted to do John Wayne.”

“That wasn’t anything like John Wayne,” she scoffed. “He was a movie actor, right?”

Lockhart was astounded before he said, “We have some generational issues I see.”

“Great Gobs of Puss!” Elder Stow swore. He had not done that before. Everyone looked as three giant serpent heads rose out of the shallows. The center one snapped at the Elder and could have swallowed him in one bite. Elder Stow raced to the shore as Decker came riding up, blazing away with his rifle.Caspian serpent

Everyone kicked their horses into high gear as Katie got out her rifle and began to fire. One snake head lunged for Alexis, but Lockhart blasted it with both barrels of his shotgun and it swerved off.

Decker and Harper put enough holes in the one on the end, it began to jerk from the concussions before it collapsed to the beach behind them. They turned on the one out front that made a snap at Alexis. Elder Stow had his sonic device out, but the sound made no difference to the snakes. He fumbled for his weapon, but before he drew it, the center snake grabbed the pony on the end of Lockhart’s string. The serpent easily lifted the pony and began to lift the whole string of ponies.

Katie dropped her rifle and grabbed her knife. She got up on her horse’s back and leapt straight toward that terrible mouth. She cut the lead and the snake head snapped back, the screaming pony in its jaw. It began to submerge.

Elder Stow had his weapon by then, but he dared not fire on the snake with the pony for fear of hitting Katie. Decker was riddling the other even as it made a try for the pony with the wounded man. Elder Stow turned and made short work of the beast when his weapon sliced through the neck. The head fell and landed inches from Alexis. Then the body fell, mostly in the sea.

There was pandemonium as the travelers struggled to restore order to their animals and the trailing ponies. Katie was banged up when she fell, but all right. The second to back pony on Lockhart’s string broke its leg when it fell. It had a body tied to it so they had to transfer the body to one of the unburdened ponies they had. They took it and tied it at the end of Lockhart’s string so he and Katie now had two each rather than three ponies trailing behind. Lockhart shot the poor pony with the broken leg, and Decker came up to Elder Stow with an observation.

“Now we can guess where the other three bodies went.”

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Please forgive my haphazardness in posting these episodes.  I am 70,000 words into a book.  I’ve been writing for the past twelve days like a madman, and losing track of day and night, and things like posts.  Episode 3.3 of the Avalon season 3 will cover six posts.  M, T and W of this week, and again, M, T, and W of next week.  If I lose track and miss a posting.  Bear with me.  I will get it up on the net.as soon as my brain starts functioning outside my current story mode.  Thanks, and enjoy the episode.

— Michael.