Avalon 8.8 The Bad Penny, part 1 of 6

After 979 A.D. The Black Forest

Kairos 106: Don Giovanni, Ringmaster.

Recording …

“Sir Brutus!”  A man’s voice echoed through the woods.  Boston could not tell how far away that muffled voice might be in the thick evergreen forest they traveled through.

Sukki rode up beside Boston where she stopped on the road in the sunlight, and Sukki commented.  “These woods are dark and spooky.”

Boston nodded as both girls turned their heads to the sound.  “Sir Brutus.”

“You hear that?” Boston asked, and Sukki nodded.

They rode back toward the others, but they did not get very far.  A wolfman stepped out on to the road.  The man had the Lon Chaney Junior look from the old black and white movies, with his face and hands completely covered in fur, but he otherwise looked human enough. Sukki screamed, but Boston had seen an actual werewolf before, and besides, it was around noon on a bright and sunny day, even if the forest floor remained covered in darkness.

“Are you calling for the knight?” Boston asked, assuming Sir Brutus was a knight.

The wolfman smiled and pointed back into the trees.  “Sibelius and Severas are calling the bear.  Sir Brutus is a bear.  I thought it would be better to sneak up on him.”

“Sir Brutus is a bear?”  Boston asked.  “You are sneaking up on a bear?”

“Bear?” Sukki’s concern doubled as she looked all around.

“He is tame,” the wolfman said.  “A well-fed pushover, though he may be hungry.”

###

Nanette screamed.  The black bear surprised her and came right up to sniff her.  Decker came in from the flank, his rifle ready, but he hesitated for fear that Nanette might get hurt.  Lockhart grabbed his shotgun, but Katie shouted.

“Don’t shoot him.”  She bravely stepped forward.  “He has a collar.”

“He is probably hungry,” Alexis said.  “Especially if he is lost.”  She stepped to the back of the wagon and butted right in front of Tony who stood there petrified beside Nanette.  Alexis reached in the back of the wagon and pulled out a leftover leg from the deer they cooked the night before.  “Probably smelled the meat in the wagon.”  The bear stood up, a bit over six feet tall, and it growled softly as Alexis approached.

“It’s okay,” Alexis said softly, like a mom.  “No one is going to hurt you.”  She set the deer leg down on the edge of the road and backed away. The bear looked at her.  “Go on,” she said, smiled and waved her hands at the deer. The bear sniffed the deer leg once before it flopped down on its belly and began to nibble on it. The brute let out a grunt of satisfaction

“I think we need to keep walking,” Lockhart said as calmly as he could.  He put his shotgun back in its holster.  “We can wait on lunch.”

“I wonder who the bear belongs to,” Katie said as they began to move.  She looked back and saw Nanette and Tony in the rear gave the bear a wide berth.  The horses probably insisted.

Decker fit in behind the others as Elder Stow came in from the other side with a report.  “There is a town up ahead.”

“Baden-Baden,” Katie named the town.

“About an hour,” Elder Stow finished his thought.

“Maybe we should lunch there,” Lockhart said, as everyone stopped.  A seriously big man with a beard stepped out into the road.  It took a few seconds before the travelers realized it was a seriously big woman with a beard.

“Titania.  What did you find?”  A young woman’s voice came from the trees before the woman, a rather lanky, but remarkably beautiful woman in tights, stepped on to the road.

“I’m not sure,” the big woman said in the meekest, squeaky, high-pitched little voice.  “Come see.”

Even as the arm with enough blubber on it to make a walrus proud pointed, Boston rode up.  Sukki walked her horse and seemed to be talking to a wolfman.

“Now, this s getting strange,” Lockhart whispered to Katie who had the oddest grin on her face.

“Hello strangers,” the skinny young woman said.  “Have you come to see the Don Giovanni circus?  The greatest show on earth.”  Katie nodded.  She figured it out.

Decker, Nanette, and Tony came up from the back, where the wagon stopped. “The bear is following us,” Tony reported.

“Sir Brutus!”  The skinny woman shouted, did one cartwheel, a back handspring, flawlessly, and scampered down the road to fetch the bear.

“We have meat leftover in the back of the wagon,” Tony warned as she went by.

“I’m Katie, and this is my husband, Lockhart.”  Katie smiled.

“I’m Titania, the bearded fat lady, and Baklovani is the wolfman,” the fat lady said with a welcoming smile beneath all that beard.

“Do you sing?” Decker had to ask.  That confused Titania until her attention got retaken by Katie who went on to introduce the rest of the Travelers.  By then, Sukki and Baklovani arrived, and the wolf man added the last note.

“Leonora is our harlequin, and about the best one I’ve ever seen, but since she is not in her makeup, right now she is just Leonora.”

“Sir Brutus,” the shout came from one direction

“Over here,” Baklovani and Titania shouted together before everyone paused at the sound of a great howl of a wolf in the dark of the forest.

“The big, bad wolf,” Lockhart said with a grin at Katie.  Katie’s response surprised him.  She actually looked worried.  Boston also seemed to sense something wrong in that direction.  Elder Stow took note of the reaction of the women and got his scanner back out.

“We should keep moving,” Nanette said, and stared into the forest like a child afraid of the dark.  They did, but only to stop again a short way down the road. Three men came to the road, or at least one of them looked normal enough.  He went straight for the bear who was behaving badly, wanting more of that meat from the back of the wagon.  He scolded the bear and put on a muzzle with a lead to bring the bear home.  Leonora appeared glad to be relieved of that duty, and she climbed into the back of the wagon to watch events transpire.

“Halloo!” the short one yelled and waved, though they were not that far away. He looked to be under four-feet-tall, but there was something odd about the way he looked and moved.  He did not look like a typical little person. His near seven-foot-tall and terribly ugly friend did not look entirely human either.

“Halloo,” Katie returned the greeting.  Boston cleared up the mystery.

“A dwarf,” she said.  “A dwarf without a beard.”  She sounded amazed.  “I’m Boston.”

“I’m Oberon, and I’m supposed to look human, miss skinny-minny.  I must say though, with that glamour you look almost human yourself.”

“Almost.  Ha!”  Boston did not take it as the insult it was meant.  “Who is your big, ugly friend?  He looks ogrish to me.”

“Name’s Sibelius,” the big man spoke for himself and doffed his hat.  “Only half an ogre on my father’s side.  I do endeavor to mind my manners, especially around the womenfolk.”

They started out again, only to be interrupted once more by five men riding hard up from behind them.  “Don’t stop,” one of the men yelled when they arrived.

“My father,” Elder Stow interrupted as they started to walk again.  “Those are not wolves. They are Wolv.”  The locals could not hear the difference, but the travelers knew, and Sukki shrieked.

“I thought they all died.”

“Keep moving. Fast as you can.  We have to go and warn the village.”  Four of the men rode off at full speed.

One man stopped by the wagon and reached out a hand.  Leonora leapt up behind the rider and the rider said one more thing before he raced to catch up with the others.  “Lockhart.  Good timing or bad timing as usual.  Later Boston.  Hurry.”

Oberon went straight to the wagon, as did Elder Stow.  Oberon yelled at Lincoln and Alexis. “Let me drive the wagon. Get to your horses so they don’t drag behind.”  Lincoln hesitated, but Lockhart said to do it.

Sibelius got on the buckboard beside the dwarf.  Titania struggled to get her bulk in the rear, while Elder Stow attached two discs, front and back, and tuned them to his anti-gravitation device, to lighten the load for Ghost the mule.  Baklovani got up behind Sukki, and they set off at a run.  The horses hardly went all out.  Everyone was aware that they could only go as fast as Ghost and the bear could manage.  But they hurried.  Decker and Elder Stow dropped back behind the bear to guard the rear.  No one heard so much as a howl before they reached the village, but they did not have to, now that they knew what was out there.

Avalon 3.12: part 4 of 5, The Kairos and the Mission

Katie stood over two bodies. They were both Ulwazzi’s men from inside the building. “I caught them trying to get our bread crackers and whatever they could find that belonged to Elder Stow. I told them to stop, and they laughed, and then they rushed me. I had no choice.”

Lockhart held her. “Hush. You did the right thing. Just don’t second guess yourself with should haves.” The men on the ground both had knives. Puzziya and several of the men from down the hill were there, staring, slack jawed.

“The horses,” Boston squeaked, and got back to the pen in time to see one man try to carry away a Boston LF1saddle. Boston pulled out her wand and let her glamour of humanity drop. “You don’t want to do that.” The man looked up and opened his mouth “You don’t want to anger the gods who have put a hedge around these travelers all of their things.” The man took one step back. “You don’t want to make me angry.” The man screamed, dropped the saddle, turned, and ran smack into the back section of the screen, flattening his nose and knocking himself delirious. He scrambled to his feet, and as he rounded the corner at the back of the building. Boston could not resist a shot that sparked against the man’s pants and started a small fire on his butt.

“Very good,” Lockhart said, as he caught up in time to see the butt fire. “Now pick up your father’s saddle.” It was Mingus’ saddle, and Boston picked it up to stack it neatly, but she could not resist the comment.

“Yes, grandpa.” She giggled and said now giggling was allowed, too.

Bob was not around when the group rode out at first light. Neither was Ulwazzi. Decker said he would have been surprised if the man showed his face. Lockhart pointed out that the man could deny any knowledge of what the others may have done and plead innocence.

Alexis 2“But he would have to be a good liar,” Alexis said. “Elves are known for being able to point out liars. It comes from telling so many of them.”

“Hey!” Boston objected.

“Sweetheart,” Alexis got motherly. “The expression you lie like an elf did not come from outer space.”

“Even so, Hey!” Boston still objected.

Puzziya begged to go with the travelers. He said he knew the way they were headed and could guide them, though he honestly had no idea where they were headed. Lockhart allowed it, believing the poor man might not live long after they left; that he might be punished for bringing the travelers there in the first place. The rest of the workers bowed and scraped themselves on the ground, believing if the travelers were not gods, they were the next best thing.

Katie caught Ulwazzi’s girls out back fetching something to eat, and she laid it down in simple terms for them. “Puzziya is going to lead us out of the territory. Don’t follow us, or we will come back and burn the poppy field to the ground.” She was not feeling very kind hearted, having killed two men in the night

barak scenery 4

“But why do I have to take him?” Lincoln objected.

“Because, like before, you know what to ask and might recognize when he says something worthwhile.” It was not much of a reason, but the best Lockhart could think of.

As they rode, Puzziya said he was glad to at least be getting away from the wolfman. Lincoln killed that thought. “He will follow us, but with luck we may get far enough in the day to make it hard for him to catch up in the night.”

Puzziya fell silent after that, but looked back on a regular basis. They rode all day, and near sundown Decker, Roland and Katie began to look for a defensible position. What they found was a lone traveler in the wilderness where the man and his camel were settled in for the night.barak scenery 3

“Good solid rock at our back. A large enough clearing for the camp, down hill on all sides from there, and plenty rock strewn downhill so even the wolf will have to be careful climbing. I say we join the lone wolf, no pun intended,” Decker said.

Lockhart and Katie walked their horses up to the ledge to ask if the man might need company for the night, as a scantily clad and immensely beautiful woman came out of the man’s tent. At least Katie thought she was beautiful. Lockhart was a bit put off by the tattoos.

“Halloo.” The woman waved to them, though they were hardly far away. The man was nibbling on what looked like a chicken leg. He stopped nibbling long enough to speak as Lockhart and Katie drew near.

“Are the rest going to join us or not?”

Lockhart waved for the others to come on up. “We were not sure if you would let us join you. Often lone travelers want to be left alone.”

“Hebat says she is never going to leave me alone,” the man joked, and Hebat, the woman, sat beside the man, hugged him and leaned in to nibble on his ear and tease him with her ample breasts.

Barak Hebat 2“Sadly, after this trip I will go back to my wife,” the man said, giving Hebat a stern look.

“I could go back to my husband, if I had one,” Hebat looked at the man with what could only be described as longing.

As the others came up, the man lifted his head and smiled. “Mary Riley. Alisha. But everyone calls her Boston.” He waved and Boston vacated her horse, ran up and threw her arms around the man.

“Barak?” Lincoln asked, and Barak nodded.

“An elf?” Hebat looked right through the disguise. “I can do elf.”

Boston pulled back. “My lord, willingly,” she said before she asked, “Alisha?”

“In high elf. It means Little Fire.”

“And you are,” Roland said, and Boston left Barak to hug Roland.

“Newlyweds,” Barak explained to Hebat who looked, knowingly.

“Now, What is it?” Barak wondered what had people on edge.

“For an ordinary mortal, Barak is very perceptive,” Hebat praised him.

“The wolf,” Lockhart said, and they all sat and took time to explain their adventures, and explain who Puzziya was. Lockhart took especially long to explain about Ulwazzi. He, and Katie, wondered how the man knew certain things, beginning with the fact that there were no Were people in Anatolia.Barak 2

“How would he even know who the Were people are, especially if there are not any around?” Lincoln asked.

“Good point,” Mingus agreed.

Barak got some tea before he spoke. “Someone is refining the opium. They have made heroine, I figure more than four thousand years ahead of schedule. That is two to four times the potency of the opiates that naturally occur, and I need to stop that distribution. Whoever is synthesizing the stuff has been working with a dealer in Kish, now dead, and has gotten some of the kings and rulers hooked on the stuff. Imagine a heroine empire with the drug dealers in control.”

“I should go,” Roland stood. “The day is getting on, but I should be fine,” Roland assured Boston. “I figure it will be after midnight before the wolf catches us, if he catches us tonight at all.”

“And this is the third and last night for the moon,” Alexis agreed.

Roland picked up his bow and a few arrows he got from the Hattians and headed out to hunt.

“Don’t know where we would be by now if we did not have Roland to bring home the bacon, so to speak.” Lincoln praised him.

Boston looked worried,  Everyone assured her that he would be fine, but Barak had a question for Katie, because she also looked upset, and she never left Lockhart’s side. “Are you all right?”

Katie a2“I killed two men last night. I had to. I understand there was no choice. I would have been killed, or worse, and probably everyone in the camp would have been killed with me. In fact, if they turned Elder Stow’s screen off, even by accident, I imagine the wolf would have killed everyone.” She looked at Decker. “I’m not seal trained. It is hard for me.”

Decker said nothing, but Barak nodded. “Stay close to Lockhart,” he grinned. “In fact, I think you should hold him in your sleep, just until you feel better and safe in the night.”

“I will,” Katie said. “You are the boss.” She took Lockhart’s arm and he looked like he wanted to object and not object at the same time.

“Ooh,” Hebat cooed. “That was sneaky good.” She leaned in for more nibbles on the ear and kisses on Barak’s cheek, and she gave it her floozy best.

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

Be sure and catch tomorrow’s post for the conclusion of Avalon, Season 3, and the end of Episode 3.12 The Moon Goes Down

moon wolf