The Battle of Inktomi
The next days were spent with many talks, more new visitor touring/adjustment and the final preparations for war. The K-Hertz-20's were near city center and the Hallow. We were all waiting. Each day we heard updates on Alexander's army. The first skirmish occurred in the night a day and a half before Alexander arrived with his caravan. Sentries reported movement in the area beside the main road leading into Genesis. Apsaalooke and Guild warriors led by Gawonii went out and encountered them. The result was one where the warriors were overcome by the soldiers and scattered. But Alexander's soldiers did not pursue them but returned to the main army. The rest of the night the sentries were increased and more warriors were standing in ready. Nothing occurred again that night and in the morning Gawonii and Mani reported to the Committee.
After that meeting Pythia was standing outside the conference room when she had a vision. She told us this was a vision unlike any before. As everyone was leaving Pythia she reached out and touched Gawonii's hand as he passed. Gawonii smiled at her as he moved on. She looked for just a moment with her spirit eyes. She saw a vision of a wolf running in open ground. Suddenly for no apparent reason the wolf stumbled and fell. It was dead. She stopped him as he was leaving because she knew that she must share this with Gawonii and others because it was a vision of Gawonii's death. She vigorously implored him to be careful and asked others to be overly mindful of what he was doing. Everyone took this vision with all seriousness.
We who had been traveling with her so long were all gathered there including Ari Adra and Pythia asked us to join ther in the Wheel before we went elsewhere. Once we all had something to eat and drink we all sat together and Pythia had something she wished to say.
“This vision of Gawonii has troubled me. In the past I have felt and occasionally seen something that seemed like a vision of the future but never like this. In part my quest has always been one to of seeking the visions of the future. Those who call me Pythia have indicated that is my role in service to our futures. Seers of much different peoples separated by culture and distance have seen the same visions in regard to me. The Gatekeepers, Mugu and Nahdi are consistent in this. Yet for them also their visions only go so far and teeter on the edge of a precipice near some unknown vast void. My seeing stone Nyx is like this void always moving but never suggesting certainty, only possibilities. Is this a curse of all seers? I am reminded of the tarot cards my father gave me and all I have read about precognition and soothsaying and the many methods that have been done for thousands of years. I have noticed that even the best of them had troubled personal lives and had a difficult time seeing their own futures. A gift and a curse for sure. When I do see some things they are often just symbols and seldom reflect the actual moments like my visions of my brother Jessie and Alexander. I suppose my task must be also a interpreter of symbols. Ira's yellow eyed crow is a much better guide than I am it seems.”
As we had been talking a group of birds had began forming around us on the ground. And as if, like an actor in a play, when Pythia said that last line, as if on cue, Ira's crow landed on his shoulder cawing in his typical manner before hopping to the ground joining the other birds. Ira suggested that they contemplate Sadie's words for a time while he went to a food vendor to get some treats they could feed the birds. While he was gone they noticed that all the birds were surrounding their table causing the others in the Wheel to note the same. When Ira returned he noted that some of the birds were the ones he had sheltered on the roof of the theater but not all. Chi asked what the crow had said to him. Ira said it told him that he was there but had no news that Ira did not already know but assured him he was there to assist and be watchful.
We fed the birds for awhile still contemplating what Pythia had said. In an unusual moment Salome began to talk. Unusual because she is very quiet most of the time and I am the one who usually spoke for my sisers.
“In our world there are many seers and we rely on them for many things. Just as what you said they too say they are frustrated by that void they run into. But in our prophecies it is told by Magu and others that there will one day come a seer who has none of those limitations and can walk in the void like anyone can walk on the dirt of our Mother earth. The prophecies say that this one will come from the decedents of Agamede. This has always confused all Daughters because we have always believed and have been taught that our elders were decedents of Ceridwen, a seer from Celtic origins and Agamede was from the land of the Greeks. Although this vision make no sense our seers teach this as truth.”
When Salome finished Grigori spoke.
“When I first met the Daughters Wyrd I was on my quest and I thought they may help me. Until then I had been seeking a vision of a place and guidance to it. A place I hoped would answer my burning question. But I thought perhaps the seers could take me into time and show me something that would give me hope that my quest was not in vain. A vision of the end of my searching. But their visions could not. I asked them to teach me to be a seer and I tried but it became clear that one does not learn to be a seer but must be born that way. So still my quest remains as it has always been and my search continues.”
It would be a while longer until Grigori revealed his quest to Pythia and and the Daughters. But this will be shared in another tale one day I am certain.
We talked into late afternoon about various subjects and Pythia shared with us things about Genesis that perhaps others had not told yet. We allowed her to talk about this but Tess had been an excellent guide and we did not hear much new. Grigori told of his first contact with Pythia at the Wheel and how he was led to this meeting He said perhaps it was a little of a seer on his part but laughed when he said it adding that all he knows is he does not know, another sign that Grigori is a wise man. In the background unspoken was the awareness that by tomorrow's end all our lives would be changed forever. Before we broke up the gathering Ira bent over lifting the yellow eyed crow up on his arm.
“My friends I charge you to keep your watchful eyes on Gawonii for us and alert me to anything I need know. Make this your priority. We will rely on humans for most things in the coming days.”
With that the crow flew away. We later learned that on that night Ira gave the crow a name. In his days in Genesis he lived and worked in a place called called the Theatre Mystère and he kept birds on the roof of the building. He had names for many of them. Ira chose an Indian name for a raven, Kangee, a name he learned from Gawonii. Kangee is a creator god and a shapeshifter. Kangee became a pretty much constant companion of Ira and we saw him often.
We learned that Jessie had spent the day with Zed and Mira. That night Pythia, Grigori, Kether and Jessie stayed up and talked which led then to a talk about shapeshifters like Jessie and Grigori.
What happened the next day I am sure will surprise you as much as it surprised us. Much of what follows was pieced together from things I saw myself and things told to me later and many of the words were new to me.
The day had come and Alexander was near and being watched by hidden sentries. The whole city woke up very early. Everyone was hidden for the most part because it had been decided to allow him to enter the city unmolested and see what he would do before they acted. It was uncertain how the citizens were going to react and if their fears would override their months of preparation. All the children under sixteen years of age had been instructed to gather in the basement of the Hallow. The older children were to care for the younger. Those over sixteen were gathered with friends and family in hopes they could be active in supporting roles in the fighting. They were told that no one would fault them if the chose to remain gathered in the basement level of the Hallow.
The residents of the Hallow and many Tillers watched from the windows. We were with Pythia, Ira, Jessie, Tess, Kether, Griffin, Zephyr and Calypso. Grigori joined the Guild and Apsaalooke on the ground. Alexander arrived by the main road and came into the city with extreme confidence. He left the a few soldiers with each supply wagon in the Meadow of Nine Muses before his soldiers entered and fanned out in the center of Genesis. At first Alexander did not appear. The warriors kept moving here and there as to still remain hidden. The K-Hertz-20's were standing with no one guarding them and some of the soldiers investigated but were not knowledgeable as to what they were. There were about two-hundred of Alexander's soldiers who began searching the area and fanning outward. Our people numbered well over fifteen-hundred. Still no people of Genesis had made a move against him. The Dragoon had been instructed to remain motionless until told otherwise.
The soldiers began flushing some out and using their guns, marched them into the Wheel, tossing tables and chairs to the side. At a point some of the soldiers piled them up and set them on fire. This went on for about an hour as we and Pythia watched from a window high up in the Hallow. A man we later learned named Stinger, who was Alexander's main “general”, noticed the ear protectors everyone had, Stinger collected and took some of them to Alexander. The soldiers had come upon and captured some of the warriors who were planning to be very close to the K-Hertz-20's and they had protection that were more in line with headphones which also contained radio technology to be able to listen for instructions. Being intelligent as he is Alexander wrapped a pair around his neck knowing the purpose would be revealed. The Tillers were proud that the citizens as far as they could tell remained mute to any interrogations the soldiers may have done. The moment we had been waiting for arrived as Alexander's soldiers made an opening and he rode into the center of the Wheel with Stinger and his wife Annie on either side. Annie handed him a three foot long acoustic megaphone which he used while marching to talk to his soldiers. He separated from Stinger and Annie and began to weave himself between his soldiers and their horses, circling the captives who were either sitting or kneeling on the brick paver surface.
“Citizens of Genesis! As you know I have come for a very specific purpose. I really do not wish to harm you but as evidenced by my dedication to come here my resolve is unmatched. If I see it becomes necessary I WILL! begin killing these people before you. I want your leaders to come out of hiding and talk to me. I know you do not use guns and abhor violence. I assure you my soldiers will not hesitate, given the word, to begin killing you all until this meeting takes place and my demands are met. I can be forgiving but also just as easily ruthless if provoked. The choice is yours to live or die. I am not patient and I expect your compliance and your leaders to appear before me within ten minutes or I will begin to raze this city. I have been told you are a wise and rational populace. So choose wisely. The time begins now.”
Hearing this Griffin announce via speaker within and without the Hallow he was coming to meet Alexander. This message also transmitted via personal radios the the warriors hidden and waiting. Pythia was unclear what the others should do and said that we should wait a bit longer before taking any action. As we watched, Griffin alone exited the Hallow. Grigori came out of his hiding place and joined him, which pleased Griffin and helped relieve the terror he was feeling. Grigori stood behind him carefully surveying the scene.
With the strongest voice he could muster Griffin called out to Alexander.
“My name is Griffin Gamma and I am among the people chosen to administer the goings on in Genesis and the areas beyond. Approach if you wish to talk.”
Handing the megaphone to a nearby soldier Alexander slowly rode up the the foot of the stairs that led to the landing Griffin and Grigori were standing on. Griffin, Grigori and Alexander were the only ones who heard what was said at this point but Chi and Griffin gave exactly the same account to me.
“Griffin Gamma! You are exactly the man I was most looking forward to meeting. How advantageous. I commend your courage and concern for your people by choosing so wisely. First I must caution you that if I perceive any trickery on your part all I need do is raise and drop my arm and my soldiers will begin their tasks. And my first move will be to take this sword and cut off your head. But being reasonable men I am sure that will not be the case.
“I have come for the Elixir. I am willing to come to fair terms in regard to your surrender but until the Elixir is in my hand and in my blood the possibility of the deaths of your citizens will remain in effect. From here on you may consider me as a benevolent conqueror. I have not decided when I will return to Black Swan after the winter so I expect you to be good hosts and teach me all you can before I leave. I hope your people follow your instructions as well as mine follow me. For the next while I and some of my soldiers will accompany you while you inform your citizens of what I have told you. From there you and I without delay will go to where you keep the Elixir.”
Griffin was still a bit frightened and he knew this was the moment of truth. Grigori could see this all in his eyes and knew it would soon become clear that the warriors and citizens needed to commence their resistance. Before Griffin's next move Grigori jumped in front of him startling Alexanders horse which threw him to the ground. Grigori yelled NOW! into his headphone ear protector as he put it on and the warriors and citizens did not hesitate.
Upon his falling Alexander's soldiers began killing people everywhere they could. At the same time warriors rushed out and turned on the K-Hertz-20's it only took moments and their function preformed perfectly. Starting with those near the Wheel the machines began to roll outward. Those in the Wheel, warriors, citizens and Alexander's soldiers, began to fall to the ground unconscious. Those with the enhanced ear protectors did not including Alexander and Grigori. Alexander quickly had realized what was happening and swiftly put on the headphones. The scene was utter chaos. Citizens ran out and were obviously unsure of what to do next.
Seeing what was happening and realizing that Alexander's closest enemies were Griffin and Grigori Jessie started running out of the Hallow in hopes of stopping Alexander, Jessie's old friend. Descending the stairs he transformed into his cougar self and it was not long until he was on the steps of the Hallow. Griffin had been overcome and was passed out on the landing. Alexander did not receive the acoustics of the K-Hertz-20's long enough to become unconscious before he realized what the headphones were for. But he was stunned and moving slowly. Pythia and we with her jumped and followed Pythia as she followed Jessie, all arriving at the landing a few moments later.
Grigori and Ira both assessed the scene quickly running toward the chaos happening in the Wheel courtyard and started zip-tying the hands of the soldiers giving visual direction to the conscious citizens. People continued to fall unconscious as the K-Hertz-20's kept moving. More and more were instructing others on what to do and the word was spreading organically and exponentially.
Pythia, upon reaching Jessie saw that he was hesitant to attack Alexander, as Alexander raised his sword intent on protecting himself and attacking him. Alexander also knew this was his friend who he had come to regard as the ultimate Judas, even more so at this moment. Without a conscious thought Pythia pulled her blade and as in her terrifying dream of Alexander. Jumping between them she plunged Avalon into his chest. She did not pull it out as she fell backwards landing on her back stunned at what she had just done. Her companions were stunned and motionless as well as Grigori, who had witnessed it from afar, began running toward the Hallow.
As I said you would be surprise at this because all these things happened simultaneously and very quickly. The long awaited battle was over almost as soon as it began relatively. Everyone was in motion including Zephyr, Kether and Calypso. Many of Alexander's soldiers began to run from the battle and it took days to find them and offer to protect and treat them well, bringing them back to the city. Alexander was too weak to struggle as Grigori picked him up and carried him inside. Tess and Ahi Adra helped Pythia to her feet as my sisters and I carried Griffin inside. Once inside we all removed our ear protection because the machines were far enough away to no longer effect us. We could hear yelling and screaming voices for the first time and many residents left the Hallow to help the others outside. Tillers watched from the windows. Kether and Zephyr were concerned for Pythia and join her. In turn Pythia turned around and went back to the landing to find Jessie naked and crying. They walked inside together and both went to where Grigori was ministering to Alexander.
And so it was, the battle had been won. In the end all who died were of our warriors. That total being two hundred and eighty three souls. This battle came to be known as The Battle of Inktomi in reference to the day Grigori brought my sisters and I to meet Nahdi, Pythia and the others. Nahdi had told Pythia that Inktomi their spider god was instructed to weave all our fortunes together.
Truly concerned Pythia asked Grigori if Alexander would be alright, still holding the shaken Jessie in her arms. She sighed a sigh of relief when Grigori said that it appeared to him that the blade had missed his heart and perhaps he had a punctured lung and broken ribs. Avalon was still buried in his chest. Pythia walked Jessie to a nearby couch and they sat down together asking if someone could bring blankets and a doctor to attend to Alexander.
Grigori told Alexander that a doctor was coming and even in his pain Alexander was defiant, beginning to attempt to sit up, trying to lash out at Grigori. This was a short lived attempt. It was obvious that Grigori knew what had to be done as he grabbed a cloth that was covering a nearby table, wrapping it around the knife and wound. Grigori's strength kept him subdued and before long the doctor arrived. She had been told what to expect and brought what she needed to treat him on the table he was resting on before moving him somewhere more appropriate. Alexander was having trouble breathing and soon he slipped into a state of unconsciousness. With assistance from people she brought with her in about a half hour she said he was stable enough to move.
Meanwhile Grigori and others had shifted attention to Griffin. It was determined that he would be fine in a few hours when the effects of the sound waves wore off. Then attention was drawn to Jessie and Pythia. Jessie had calmed down swiftly, comforted by the presence of his sister. Grigori suggested that Ira and my sister and I join him outside to assess what was happening. Pythia said that she and Jessie would be fine and Grigori's suggestion was a good one. Tess and Ahi Adra decided to wait by Griffin until he woke up. Kether, Zephyr and Calypso found another couch and sat discussing what had just happened. Pythia and Jessie just sat together silently, also choosing to wait until Griffin woke up.
When my sisters and I, Grigori and Ira went outside we saw a sea of bodies on the ground. Citizens were checking on the well being of the captives while systematically tying them up. Others were leading horses away. Using his communicator Grigori inquired as to where Mani and Gawonii may be. Both replied saying they would meet him in front of the Hallow in a few minutes and that everything seemed to be going well. When they arrived Grigori gave them a quick report about what has happened on the stairs of the Hallow and what was happening inside.
They in turn told us that what we were witnessing was what essentially was happening all over and around Genesis. Mani said the next task was to decide what to do with the captives as they woke up and where to put them all. Grigori suggested that they spread the word about what he saw as a plan and after discussing it they decide it was sound.
The plan was to have the citizens to continue but to have as many as possible talk to the captives after they regained consciousness. Grigori believed that many of them could be released and trusted not to resist us, especially after they were told of the fate of Alexander. He said that they should trust the sensitivities of the citizens and warriors to assess whether a person posed a risk and the instructions would include this. It turned out that Grigori was right. Alexander's soldiers were not as loyal as he had believed. When they realized the battle war was over and lost, were told the situation and knowing they were dependent of Genesis to survive the winter almost all agreed to comply peacefully.
Over the next days the citizens had agreed to take the soldiers into their homes rather than put them into the holding cells they had constructed. The next week Pythia and Tess wandered Genesis talking to the captives and making their own assessments. The citizens showed the captives the benefits of Genesis and the word went out that they would be welcome to stay here if they committed to help build new homes and adopt some of Genesis's main values and philosophies, which to a person for the most part was agreed to. They were told that even if they did not totally agree they would not be ejected because, as I have learned, Genesis has few real taboos of thought or action.
Getting back to the day of the battle, for a start, Griffin did awake and did not suffer any long term effects from his ordeal. Grigori, Ira my sisters and I returned to the Hallow in the evening. Grigori told everyone that Mani and Gawonii had everything outside under control and the citizens were performing very well. He said they even were being joyful at the prospects before them. They were feeding the soldiers and many had already taken most of them into their homes. The Guild had released the Dragoon to help in all manners of ways.
Feeling very tired everyone decided all was well and to go to bed. In the morning the Committee would meet again and the next plans would be made and reports given. The night was restful and uneventful. In the morning everyone was in good spirits. We did our morning rituals. Students of Omni Fidem came to the rooms and told everyone that food would be served at the meeting and that Griffin, Tess and Ahi Adra were already waiting.
It has taken many words to reach this point and in many ways it may seem this is the end of my tale, but it is not.