We rode slowly for a few hours and then we found a good place to camp and wait. It was late and the moonlight was bright. We had been waiting and setting up camp for a couple of hours when out of the wood Pythia, Tess and Grigori appeared. Ira rushed to embrace Pythia. We all were very happy to see them and after a brief conversation between Grigori and Gawonii Grigori said that talk could wait until morning and we should eat and get some rest. It was decided that three Chindi were chosen to take shifts staying awake during the night at watch.
In the morning just before dawn we were awakened by Grigori. He told us to be very silent and dress. He then went to Pythia, Tess and Ira and said the same. We were surprised how we did this without stirring the others, not even the one on watch, and Grigori asked us to follow him to a place near but out of hearing range of the Chindi. It was chilly this morning as we all gathered together.
“I have woken you like this because I have an important request. As far as the event last night that we went through I believe it is best that only we understand what really happened. I understand that some of you may be uncomfortable with having secrets but it is a must for now. Aja could you and your sisters quietly go around and place a forgetfulness spell into the minds of the others before they awake? When we speak about last night we need to say that Pythia, Tess and I just ran into the woods and hid together. For them they will just remember that we were in battle. No need for them to remember that Ira vanished as well as us or the appearance of the shapeshifter who became a cougar. And Sadie, I saw how that cougar was protecting you and if you can tell us more about that I wish you would. Can I get agreement on this?”
This request was very easy for us all to agree to because all of us had great trust in Grigori. First my sisters and I quietly approached each one of the sleeping Chindi, kneeling down and whispering in their ears. I silently came up behind the sentry and reached out with my mind, putting him asleep before whispering to him also. Next after this was done we all began to saddle our horses and the noise awoke the others. They too got up and followed suit. Everyone got into their packs and got out something to eat and drink. As we stood together we commented on how it was good there were no disturbances during the night. Questions about the battle the night before did not seem to come up. Grigori told everyone that he thought their next move was not to engage Alexander's soldiers and proceed as quickly as possible to New Eden and make their next stand there. All were in agreement and it was not long before we mounted our horses and began the journey to New Eden.
We rode until the sun breached the top of the trees at which time we stopped while Gowanii climbed a tree to survey what he could. He took with him binoculars that were very much more powerful than our. We learned later that they were used by the armies of the days before the Great Turning. When he came down he reported he saw what appeared to be the end of Alexander's army entering the tree line and soon they would be out of sight. He estimated they were still at least a day and a half behind us or more and suggested that the we ride faster than normal. That would bring us to New Eden in only about three hours. He also said he would like to divert near Post Falls and head north to Spirit Lake where the Apsaalooke lived. He said he felt they could bring warriors with him and meet them all in New Eden early the next day. By then if all was as planned most of the non-fighters of New Eden would be gone and there they could meet Alexander. It was decided that was a good plan. After a short break we continued onward. Because we were riding at a quicker pace there was no talking between us except non-verbal conversation between my sisters and I. Grigori was keeping a watchful eye on everyone and everything.
Pythia seemed pensive but I did not hear her thoughts. Through the trees we all could see remnants of old buildings and houses from civilization long since deserted. saw old signs and the road seemed to get a little better. The first sign we saw said East River Road. It was near here we stopped again and Gawonii said this is where he was to take the Indians in the convoy and head north to Spirit Lake leaving us and the three Guild members. After wishing them safe traveling we again proceeded on. Evidence more and more was seen that people were still living here and there amongst the shattered and fallen buildings indicating they were getting close to New Eden. Grigori yelled out that we needed to turn south and find another old highway and go to New Eden on it.
As we entered the center of town it was not long until we were surrounded by a dozen or so people. Among them we recognized Nahdi, Mani and Ahi Adra. Mani sounded out a welcome and asked us to follow him and others a building that said city hall on it. Some Chindi began fellowship with Guild and Indians. As they entered Mani asked some Guild to take care our horses. Tess could not contain her joy at seeing Ahi Adra and as soon as she could she ran to her, engulfing her with an excited embrace. We followed Mani through the building to a large conference room and everyone took a chair.
Once everyone was seated Mani addressed us.
“We have been awaiting you and are so happy to see you all safe. First I am sure you are wondering how I got here before you. After Alexander captured and killed some of our people I decided that covering his flank was no longer useful and it was dangerous. We were not as prepared as we thought for his use of guns and his disregard for life. So I took the warriors to the Dojo and there we gathered our vehicles, seven in all, and used another route in order to reach New Eden before you or Alexander. This has proven to very advantageous. We have been getting New Eden ready for Alexander. Also because of communications we knew you were coming here and disbanded our holding cells as was planned when we had our first council with the Apsaalooke. If Sadie still wishes to capture soldiers we can still make arrangements for this. For now we plan to devastate Alexander's army as much as possible from here. The citizens of New Eden are not warriors and that is why they have been hidden for now. We have been told that the populace of New Hope and Genesis are prepared for Alexander's arrival and have plans to stand their ground there. Our main intent is to make our focus on saving Genesis, because we are sure Alexander will make it there.
“For this reason we have had council together and we believe that Sadie and her companions should not stay here but keep moving on to Genesis where what they know and do will be much more useful. We can slow Alexander but not stop him. Our warriors are brave but the whole idea of dying at the sounding of a gun has them scared. Guns are so foreign to us all, even the Guild, although we understand their history and use and have collected them ourselves, seeing them actually deployed was an awakening surprise. Genesis has sent word that they have been working hard on some non-lethal technologies that they feel will stop Alexander. This is our greatest hope. We think it will take Alexander almost three weeks to reach Genesis after he leaves here. We have weighed where we should have Sadie travel there in vehicles or horse. We feel that some of our warriors should use the vehicles to go to Genesis after engaging Alexander staying ahead of him. If Sadie rides hard they will still reach Genesis in time if they do not delay. There is still time that you could leave today and gain time on Alexander. If you move swiftly each day we think you could be there in two weeks. But we will need to see what Sadie thinks best as we have pledged to follow her lead primarily.”
There was a pause here at which a man we learned was named Asku and the leader of the city stood to say something.
“There will be many Apsaalooke warriors here but we have also sent a good number ahead to Genesis. They will be waiting there for us and helping where they can while waiting. Nahdi has asked to speak with Pythia before she makes a decision on this matter. She has insight we do not and insights only Pythia will fully understand. We have also discussed The Devil's Breath that Gowanii brought to you. We think at this point it may be more useful to us than you. If you choose to leave rather than stay of course. If you go ahead you will not have conflicts with Alexander and once there you can receive more from those who make it if you wish. Our warriors have been so very curious about this substance since we were told about it and its effects. If it works as told we would love to trade for it with Genesis at some future date. Mani is being optimistic about time because the snow will be arriving soon to many parts of your journey. But the same snow will slow Alexander. Depending on that many things could occur. Worse case would be that he returned to New Eden and waited here for the spring to continue to Genesis. So let us pray to the gods they hold back the snows this year.”
Asku looked to the sky holding up his arms and spoke in his native language. We did not understand his language but we knew it was a prayer to his gods. We later learned that Pythia had a gift that allowed her to understand their words and the words of other languages as well.
Asku then sat down again. Looking around it was clear that no one was going to add to the discussion for now and Pythia addressed us.
“It is good to be back in New Eden but it would be better to be here in happier times. Let us hope what we do will result in those times returning very soon. Asku, as far as the Devil's Breath that is easy. We never used it and I think whether we stay or go we will not need it. You can have it with my blessings.
“I can see my friends and family preparing the way before us and I am anxious to be with them again. But my choices must be made for the benefit to all. So yes, before I decide I wish to speak with my companions more and with Nahdi. At first blush what Mani has said seems sound thinking on your parts. A number of things on the ground have changed since we first began formulating plans and actions. Being flexible is a fine gift and skill. As a leader I know that the input of as many voices as possible must be weighed and each has it's validity. I wish I had the time to talk to the ordinary citizens of New Eden who have chosen to fight along side the warriors of the Guild and the Apsaalooke. Their voices are just as important as any of us sitting here.
“Because of this if we do leave it will not be sooner than the morning because the time is short to prepare. Plus I think our horses would do well to rest. They are not used to the pace we rode them today. This has been a short and informative meeting and gives me much to consider. I suggest that we close for now. The first thing on my list is to sit with Nahdi. During this time if as many as can would resupply our saddle bags with food and water that would be good. I ask my companions to talk about this while I am with Nahdi and when I am done we can get together and share our thoughts. I do not anticipate my time with Nahdi to be more than an hour and meeting with my companions perhaps another. So I would like us to meet here again in two hours and I will give a decision then.”
Pythia ended abruptly and everyone responded by their actions by standing and exiting the room leaving Sadie and Nahdi alone. In just a couple of minutes Pythia was seen helping Nahdi out of the building and walking out of the city center.
Pythia was gone for more than an hour while we waited talking. When she returned she simply asked if continuing on the Genesis swiftly was agreed upon. Nahdi did not return with her. We told her we agrred with that plan and she led us inside. Once everyone was again gathered she addressed us all.
“This will be a very short council unless others wish to speak after me. Nahdi, my companions and I agree that the best action would be for us to proceed quickly to Genesis. We will do this with our horses leaving the vehicles for some of the warriors to follow later as fast as possible. Tomorrow we will gather the Devil's Breath and give it to Asku. When Gawonii returns from Spirit Lake he can relay the instructions for its use. We will use the rest of the day and evening to get ready to leave early in the morning. I have been told the Guild has done most of this for us already. If you have a god it may be good to pray for the safety and success of us all. Soon the lines in time will be crossing and the events that transpire will build our paths into an unknown future. I do not know what that future is but I have high confidence that all is well and whatever the gods have planned for us we will do the best we can.”
When Pythia had finished my sisters and I notice that she and Tess both had that netherworld look in their eyes and were staring a something or someone at the far end of the room that no one else could see. Right near this time Mani stood up.
“I have just gotten word about something we have not spoken about for quite a while. The reason being is that we have had so much focus on concerns with New Eden. But our people in New Hope have not been idle and are expecting Sadie and her companions to arrive soon. A personal message from Zany of New Hope. She is very excited to see you again. The Guild has been monitoring New Hope since you left there and we have not troubled you with what has been happening. Be assured they are very prepared for your return and the eventual arrival of Alexander. We have updated them with the newest plans. They will be doing essentially the same actions that have been done here in New Eden. Most will evacuate the city and allow Alexander to loot and pass. There are quite a few warriors there mostly Guild members. They plan to not engage with him in any significant way like we will here in New Eden. When the warriors leave here in the vehicles they too will pass through New Hope and go directly to Genesis following you. Once Alexander has passed they will reassess what their next move will be. The Guild will be consulting on this the whole time. I hope we can find the time to discuss this a bit more before Sadie and her companions leave us. I will leave that up to her. For now then it all sounds good and the meeting seems to be over. Be well everyone.”
As everyone left the room Pythia asked Grigori, Tess, Ira, Ari Adra and the sisters to remain.
“ Ahi Adra, I am pleased you are here with us. I wish for us all to gather somewhere alone and talk a while. I have something important to say. I am thinking that a hot bath would feel so good. This may be the last chance for a while. Perhaps we can find those famous public hot tubs and ask someone to keep others away for a bit so we can be alone.”
Grigori said he could easily accomplish this and asked the others to wait while he arranged it. They all went outside and sat on the steps in front of the building. Tess and Ahi Adra were locked in conversation, both with much glee in their eyes. Pythia and Ida sat holding hands but shared no words together. My sisters and I looked around people watching. Not long and Grigori returned telling us that all was set. We followed Chi and soon reached the building that housed the public hot tubes. It was a building with no roof, only walls. The view of the sky was expansive. All total there were ten small pools surrounding a lager pool in the center of them with a distance of six feet between them all. Just as we arrived a Guild member was leaving having brought and left a tall pile of towels.
We all disrobed and began to enter the welcoming pool in the center. It was going to fit the eight of us perfectly. After we were all settled Pythia proceeded to repeat what she had told Nahdi about her brother Jessie, who we learned was the cougar in the recent encounter and her fears and anxieties after having stabbed Alexander who was the man there. She informed us that she would be watching for her opportunity to find Jessie as they traveled back to Genesis. After so many things we have seen none were surprised by anything she told us about Jessie.
Ira then spoke to us.
“I have thought about this quite a lot since I started working with the Guild at Ground Zero. Since then I have also learned more and listened to what has been said by Guild members, Apsaalooke, and most recently the Sisters. I understand the intentions of the Tillers in teaching us that violence is not a path we should follow. But I also realize that this is an ideal worthy to strive for but full implementation of this ideal may not be possible yet. The world is a very large place and as Chi has told us we at Genesis have only really seen a very small segment of those who survived Waterfall. We are unique in Genesis I believe and very lucky. But Alexander is just one example of survivors who do not share our ideals. We wish to have a world that shares all things but many have grown to feel in order to survive they must take, even take lives if they feel the need. For this reason Sadie I do not condemn you for your actions. The Tillers have always wished us to study history and the world before Waterfall in order to learn from this history not to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors. Our spiritual teachers strive to teach us the path to this ideal self but perhaps, as some have said, this violence is part of who we have always been and who we will remain. Spirituality and philosophy are more to your sensibilities Sadie but I am more of what is known as a realist. Simple observation of the world we see with our normal eyes is more to my sensibilities even as I have seen there is another world. Nature shows us that the stronger dominate the weaker. It may seem wrong and unfair but as I said, for now that may still be the way it is. Even the Bio-Domes of Genesis are contradictory the this grand ideal. Does not raising insects and worms for food violate this non-violent ideal? We have given ourselves permission with justifications, but how does that make us any different than Alexander who justifies war and killing to fulfill what he sees as a need? Since Waterfall the overriding thought has been survival, ideals being secondary. Even at the beginning the Tillers gave the Guild permission to go outside the ideals they were setting forth because they deemed it necessary for our survival.”
They all sat there considering what Ira said and there was much to consider in his simple words. Survival. Justification. Ideals. History. Pythia said it seemed obvious the real wars may be ones that have been waged for tens of thousands of years. Wars fought on the battlefields of human minds.
I again spoke for my sisters,
“As we have said before, we have killed. Ira seems to have a good grasp on the subject. We do not kill often the last years, not like the first fifty or so years of our founding. From personal knowledge Grigori could tell more about those early days, we just have written and oral histories to inform us. Being panthistic in our beliefs we love all life as much as our own ideally. But as Ira pointed out, like you, at our beginnings we too rationalized that our survival required a compromise of our core beliefs. There were wars in those days, but we seemed better equipped to survive and many enemies of those days died out, leaving few surviving offspring. So our sanctuaries, teachers and philosophies have survived.”
Grogori sat thoughtful for a time before choosing to speak. There was a strange tone in his voice and we see in his eyes he was vacillating between the moment and the world of his memories.
“Yes I remember well. In the vastness of time it was not so long ago for me. I too fought in those wars as a warrior of one, until I met the Daughters Wyrd and they accepted me into their fold. In those days they did not choose to always kill and offered those they captured a choice. Join them, adhere to their laws or die. I was surprised that so many chose the latter. And those who remained are
grandfathers and grandmothers of those in your sanctuaries. Your ancestors were powerful warrior women mostly and that is why your society is a matriarchal one. The armies they met were small and the fact that they were fighting women for the most part surprised them greatly. I would say the ratio was about four women to each man. They were pleased when men joined them because in those days they surmised if they were to survive more men were needed to populate their new world. They were a benevolent matriarchy and treated men as equals for the most part but reserved the law giving and the spiritual teaching to the women. This is embedded in the core of all who live in their sanctuaries. Was this what the gods intended? It seems so because the experience of the Desert Daughters was mirrored in the evolution of the other orders and societies of those who share their beliefs. It was perhaps after meeting them that I began to believe in fate much more than I had before. Even though my own story alone should have done so it had not. Of the Daughters there is only one who remains who remembers those days and she shall pass soon I am afraid. The Sisters know her as Aurora. She is my longest known friend and I will lament her passing. Hopefully we will find a resolution swiftly in this struggle with Alexander so I may return to the Desert Daughter's sanctuary to wish her well one last time.”
Grigori let out an audible sigh before he finished by saying, “Sadie, you are a teacher and perhaps one of your missions will be to teach the citizens of Genesis the wisdom of what Ira articulated so well. Nature holds no judgments about life and death and neither should you at this point in my opinion. Harsh personal judgment of one's self is not good and the ways of patience and mindfulness you have learned will serve you in this transition. This advise is wise for us all. It is a process and only we can do the work for ourselves. Our hope always being that someday perhaps we will find balance, manifesting those higher ideals and the struggle will end.”
Again Pythia responded.
“I want to thank you for the enlightening conversation. It has left me with many things to consider and I desire we continue such talks when we find time to do so. I wish to say thank you especially to Chi. I have wondered so many things about you since the first day we met and your openness of late has answered so many questions but I find more appear. Ira, your understanding and the way you presented it has lifted me up in my time of distress. I must process all we heard more and so I have little to say for now on it. So I will just mention a couple of things.
“I think the new plans are very good and I am looking forward to returning to Genesis as I am sure we all are. Ahi Adra I told you I was glad to see you because I have a request from everyone and want to hear what you Think. I would like Ahi Adra to be privy to everything we know. Ahi Adra there are things known only to us. I would like you to join our company in our return to Genesis if you would and Tess and others could inform you of those things we do not know. I am sure this would please Tess especially. So first, does anyone have a problem with this invite and Ahi Adra please tell us your thoughts on the matter.”
All of us easily approve of this notion. Ahi Adra actually looked surprised at the invite but she happily said she would love that arrangement. She said besides her love of us she had a great desire to see Genesis. Everyone expressed joy at this consensus. At that moment our attention was drawn to the sound of activity outside the tubs that was much more intense than the usual sounds of people going about their work. We all got out of the bath, dried and dressed and went out to see what the commotion was all about.
The first person we saw near we knew was Mani, standing motionless in the courtyard. We approached him and it was Grigori who asked, “What is happening?”
Mani looked at us all and in a voice not as assured as usual he simply said, “Nahdi has died.”
Everyone was noticeably effected by the news of Nahdi. But the swift rise of the coming storm caused people to hurriedly prepare for it. Horses and wagons were taken to the stable area for cover and the people took shelter in nearby buildings. Everyone could feel that it was going to be a strong one. We were directed by Mani to a building that had been prepared for us to sleep in for the night. Pythia said she would join us but she wanted to first find Waiz (her horse) and her saddle to retrieve her musette bag from the saddle bags.
She soon joined us again. So far the storm had not produced any rain but just moments before she entered the sleeping building the bright light of lightening lashed out immediately followed by loud thunder and the rain began. Not as a trickle but as a waterfall bursting forth.
We all were sitting at a long table at the side of the room. There were rows of cots and nightstands on either side of the room. Pythia joined us. We were discussing the need for Ahi Adra to collect her things for the journey. Ahi Adra's eyes met Pythia and we understood they were sharing grief over the death of Nahdi. We contiunued making plans for retrieving Ahi Arda's things as the first task in the morning. We discussed how we were confident the Guild had everything prepared for us to leave for New Hope and Genesis. At Tess's suggestion they we went to the windows to watch the rain. Grigori pointed out that the rain would be helpful to us because it would most likely slow Alexander's army who were pulling wagons, giving us more time to prepare once we reached Genesis. The next hours passed quickly and it seemed everyone was tired and ready to sleep, which wey did. The sound of the rain seemed to sooth us all and we all slept well.
And so it was that Pythia told us later how on this day she began to develop a new set of eyes, a gift from the netherworld. At first, she told us, she thought it was just sleep in her eyes.We had all risen and decided to go search for something hot to drink before helping Ahi Adra collect her things. The rain had stopped during the night and the sun was just beginning to rise.
She told us as she looked out at the raindrops glistening on everything as we walked she looked at the bushes and small trees that surrounded the courtyard. The raindrops appeared to be like little faceted diamonds reflecting rainbows in the morning light. The colors were extremely vibrant above the norm. This happened for only a moment but it occurred a number of times as they went to the kitchen building in their search for that hot drink. Later she called this sight Eglow. When we found the drinks and sat for a while together with very little talking, mostly morning greetings and thank yous to the Guild who get up each day and prepare food for everyone. After a few cups of warming beverages we got up to follow Ahi Adra to help her. We did not all go with her. Grogori and Ira went to helped the Guild saddle our horses. We made a plan to meet in an hour back at the courtyard.
Ahi Adra's things were in a building a few blocks away where the Apsaalooke were gathered together while staying in the city of New Eden. The Apsaalooke were already busy as were most of the Guild and citizens were. The rain seemed to have revitalized everyone. Entering the building did not take long to get Ahi Adra's things in order. As we left the building Pythia said a dog was walking down the street. It caught her attention and as she watched it too began to sparkle bright and moving colors
but different than the diamonds she had seen earlier on the bushes and trees. The effect was also short lived. We continued walking to where the Apsaalooke stables were in a different place than the Guild's and it took a few minutes to get there. Once we arrived we saddled Ahi Adras horse and then started walking to meet Grigori and Ira at the courtyard.
When we got there Grigori, Ira and Mani were waiting. The horses look well rested and saddled. On Grigori's horse there was an extra pack at the rear that was not one he usually carried. Mani addressed this when he spoke to us.
“It is good to see you all this morning. Everything appears to be flowing smoothly with our preparations. I have given Chi a small radio so he may communicate with the Guild whenever you may wish. Between here and Genesis there are three of our regular teams set up and equipped with our standard solar radio sites hidden away from the main roads. They will be able to communicate with Genesis and keep them informed with your progress and if need be you too can radio Genesis. They have relayed how very excited they are for your arrival. I do not envy your next two weeks of travel especially at the pace you must go. But there are plenty of people and things along the way that can give you some distraction and pleasure. When you reach New Hope they plan on having special food and drink for you and will resupply your saddlebags for your final leg. You will be notified of all events concerning Alexander as you travel via radio contact also. At this point there is little need of secrecy. Alexander has one of our radios he captured but we feel it will be of little use to him. Once he passes New Eden some of us will use the vehicles to hopefully move ahead of him and take a new stand at New Hope before following you to Genesis. I know you are anxious to start so for now I will say farewell. With the help of the gods we will meet again soon.”
With that we all mounted our horses and began to ride with Grigori in the forefront followed by Pythia with Ira riding by her side. The air was warm for an early October day as silently we rode through and out of New Eden.
Speaking loudly Pythia said, “My father told me that in the days before Waterfall and the change to the world environment, in October they would most likely be bundled up because of snow.” That memory filled our mind for the next many miles. Our hearts were on the past but but our minds were on the future.
We followed the old highway south east along the northern part of what is called Lake Coeur d'Alene. As road we saw boats along its shore. We rode and the landscaped seemed especially beautiful this day. We followed Grigori's lead lead only taking short breaks. After their third short break He spoke to us.
“For this first day I want us to travel a little longer than most days will be. I want us to make it to a place called Wolf Lodge where I have some friends. We will spend our first night there. The Guild has already radioed them to expect us. We will divert from the main road a few miles to find it. My friend's family had maintained this place for a few generations now since The Before. People who travel this way know it well including the Guild who help supply them with goods produced in New Hope and New Eden.”
have some friends. We will spend our first night there. The Guild has already radioed them to expect us. We will divert from the main road a few miles to find it. My friend's family had maintained this place for a few generation now since The Before. People who travel this way know it well including the Guild who help supply them with goods produced in New Hope and New Eden.”
After traveling for ten hours Chi turned them south and soon they were at Wolf Lodge. They knew because it had a sign on it that was faded by age and time but the building structure itself looked well cared for. There we other building nearby and a stable area. Out of the lodge exited an older man and woman. Chi dismounted meeting them with a long embrace. As everyone else dismounted Chi introduce everyone to them.
“These are my friends Emile and Mia. I have known them since their birth. Their family has been here for three generations. But we will talk about such things after we have dealt with the horses. Emile, can your children assist us?”
With a short yell from Emile a young woman and two young men appear and started leading the horses away. We all went into the building. The front room where we entered was set up with tables and chairs and was obviously a dining area, the tables draped with interesting fabrics. There were many old framed photos hanging on the walls. The tables and chairs were all wooden of simple design. The ceiling light were chandeliers made of deer and elk antlers. They were beautiful.
While everyone was looking at their surroundings Grigori, Emile and Mia were talking alone for a few minutes and Grigori began talking to us.
“Emile and Mia have sleeping quarters for us in the buildings surrounding this part of the property. They live in rooms attached to this building in the back and the others who live here have their own serrate dwellings. There are a number of guest cottages and those are the ones we will be staying in for the night. It is late and I suggest we eat some food that Emile and Mia have provided for us and then go to sleep. In the morning we will all talk more.”
As Chi was saying this some people began bringing out plates of food and pitchers of drink. We all took seats and were served what was some of the best food they had eaten in many months. One item that was interesting to Pythia that she asked about was a salad made of unusual greens with a mixture of crunchy things in it. Emile said that the crunchy things were various living creatures that they collect from underneath the horse manure weekly as they clean the stables. We have all eaten such creatures but there was something much different about the way these were prepared and Pythia said she enjoyed it very much. There was little talk during dinner and when it was over wey were all led to the cottages for sleep. When they entered the rooms we found water to drink and beautifully adorned accommodations. We all went to bed and had a restful night.
In the morning it was still dark outside and the air was brisk and cool with a bit of frost covering everything. We sat and it was a bit before Pythia, Tess and Ira joined us. Grigori was talking with Emile and Mia. Hot drinks were being brought in for everyone and soon a light breakfast arrived. We all seemed in in good spirits and all were having conversations and laughing here and there. After the breakfast items had been cleaned up the sun could be seen filtering though the windows. Grigori pulled out his pipe and smoke mixture and he, Emile and Mia began to smoke together. Grigori did not offer anyone to join them. He left the room returning in a few minutes.
When he returned he had with him a leather pouch which he handed to Emile and Emile smiles broadly as he showed it to Mia and thanked she him. Everyone was curious about this and Pythia asked about it as all listened intently.
“The Sisters know what this is and when we return to Genesis I have planned on sharing it also with your father Kether. I know it will interest him a lot and perhaps the other Tillers also. Perhaps some already know about it but I do not know. Others who I know know of this have different names for it but the Sister and I call it Pixie-Dust. As far as we can tell it is a psycho-active compound in a mushroom that did not exist until after The Before and grows only under certain situations. For my part it seems the people of the temples of the Daughter, the Redeemers and I all discovered this about the same time. I surmise that there must be many more who have been drawn to it but I do not know for sure. Although we know of and use many psycho-active substances there is something very unique about the effects of Pixie-Dust. It is difficult to explain and it is only in the taking of it that anyone understands its gift. I have chosen to wait to share this with you until after I present it to Kether, Griffin and Zephyr. For now if we used it it would take a day or so after for us to regain our normal faculties and for some the change of many things may take longer to adjust to. We do not have the time right now to explore it. But when we have seen what happens one we are in Genesis and Alexander arrives we will see if we have the time to explore the dust together.”
I spoke up for my sisters and I. I said that for us the Pixie-Dust is a very spiritual ritual and is only used on rare occasions. I said I would share when able all we know about it and its effects on us. After hearing what I and Grigori has said everyone was satisfied with this but they were anxious to know more. Grigori then said it was time for us to leave. Our horses had been readied for us and after goodbyes we all left Wolf Lodge and headed north to the old highway again.
The next days were mostly uneventful. We found time to talk about the Pixie-Dust. Each day we traveled about thirty miles and we were pleased that the horses seemed to be holding up well under the pace. Eating and sleeping filled up many of the days and were very much routine. Ira's yellow eyed crow was seen a number of times but did not bring any messages to him. Tess and Ahi Adra spent time doing crafty things when able. Pythia told us she was constantly aware of the presence of her brother Jessie following us. Grirori had been radioed that Alexander had come to New Eden and not much happened beyond what had been expected. He stayed a couple of days and looted the city a bit. The Guild, Apsaalooke and the citizen warriors had gone back to hit and run tactics to sabotage their wagons and such and did very well at this loosing no warriors in the process. This gave everyone more time and set Alexander further behind us. The Guild had left the city in the vehicles and were expected to meet up with, pass and arrive at New Hope before us. This did occur and we camped an extra day for all to relax and socialize. It was good to see everyone. Chi and Mani were pleased that things were going so well and commended all of us on our efforts. The vehicles left and we continued toward New Hope.
Along the way it was filled with the reoccurring landscape of small towns that had been deserted long ago filled with rusting cars, machines and neglected houses and buildings that had collapsed into ruin long ago. Also, as in many places we had been, there were the bones of the dead scattered across the landscape like the fallen leaves of autumn. People who had died in the Great Turning and never buried. Pythia told us she had been working with her new sight and was increasing her control of it.
One day after traveling for about four hours we came upon a strange man on the road. Grigori said it was a good time for a rest and he dismounted and went to talk to the man. In a few minutes he brought him over to meet us. He was an overweight younger man dressed in raggedy clothes. Besides his unusual size and clothing he had a strange smile on his face that did not seem to go away. The most unusual thing was he was carrying an old and dirty stuff toy. It was a duck.
“This is Vector. Vector is one of Emile and Mia's children. He was lost but I have shown him the way to go back to the Wolf Lodge. So go now Vector. Your parents are waiting for you.” Vector, with that smile on his face, rapidly nodded at Grigori and began running down the road.
“Vector is an odd character, is he not? He has some mental issues caused by a difficult birth. He is the oldest of their children but has the mind of a six year old. He is harmless but tends to wander off, sometimes for days, before he returns home. He has carried that duck for quite a few years and goes nowhere without it, He will return home and be fine. We should rest a bit but continue on soon.”
Some think it very cruel but the Daughter since the time of Durga have left thos who are too feeble minded or physically unable to function with us to the gods in remote places believing that if the gods wished for them to survive they would provide a means. One of those means is sometimes being found by the Redeemers because they have a special way and place for such people. A change to this is something we learned in Genesis and have taken back to our teachers. This meeting was the only event of interest that occurred and once again it was a few days before another notable one transpired.
The next days continued to be routine. Grigori spoke to others using the special radio he had been given by the Guild in New Eden. Most the evening conversations were mild. Pythia and Ira took time to be alone. We traveled through what once was known as the city called Missoula. It had been a fairly large city at one time and it was not until they came to New Hope that We learned that because those who were survivors there were mostly young and had a hard time surviving the change in weather patterns it had made the area after the Great Turning. New Hope was a hundred and twenty miles south, and more hospitable. Most of the survivors all around these parts had gravitated toward New Hope, combining their populations and taking a stand there. The trade off was that New Hope was contaminated quite a bit from mining practices in the last century before the Great Turning but they were dealing with that. Tess especially liked Missoula because the oldest architecture there reminded her of her home in Genesis. Because of the alluring architecture Tess and Ahi Adra slept in an old building called the Roxy Theater. Grigori went with them and took their horse back to our camp on the edge of the city where they could rest and graze. In the morning Grigori road out early and brought them their horses and they returned to us and then we all left and continued to New Eden.
The night before Grigori had told us that we would be arriving at New Hope in six days. This was very exiting for everyone to know and five days later on the last evening we went to bed early and rose early knowing we would be riding into New Hope that late afternoon.
As expected it was early afternoon when we arrived in New Hope. Grigory had radioed and we were expected. Just as when they came to New Eden we were greeted warmly and people took care of our horses. We were shown where ourr sleeping quarters were which we were thankful for. Food and drink were also waiting. To be able to not be sleeping outdoors for a night was a blessing. Grigori suggested we had the time to rest two days in New Hope and no one argued with that suggestion.
The days in New Hope were spent mostly relaxing and much energy was given to the care of the horses. We all enjoyed the special food and being pampered. Of coarse there was some talk about the plan but it was minimal because all seemed to be still on track. Updates on Alexander continued with nothing to report other than he was continuing to march toward New Hope after his days in New Eden. Because of events he was now expected to arrive in six days. Chi surmised that they could still arrive in Genesis as much as eight days before him. The warriors of New Hope, like inNew Eden, were going to step up their hit and run attacks on his wagons to hopefully increase that time even more and the policy of non-engagement with his soldiers was to continue. Also many in New Hope would follow us and the others to Genesis to assist there. More than ever before everyone's minds were focused on reaching Genesis. The excitement of Pythia, Ira and Tess was palatable as they discussed their return to Genesis, friends and family. My sisters and I were also very excite to reach Genesis. But Grigori seemed even-keeled registering little outward emotion. We often saw him deep in thought and his words echoed in her mind that one day he would leave to pursue his own agenda.
The morning came and we were ready for the last leg of the journey to Genesis. Goodbyes and shared exchanges of good fortune abounded. Just as we were ready to leave Mani said, “I will see you soon in Genesis.” With that we were off.
The next days went well and we passed over the terrain that Pythia told us they had been there before and pointed to where her father Kether lived when not in Genesis. She wished we had the time to go there but we did not. We did spend the last night before entering Genesis near a place called Laurel where Kether's home was and when we awoke that next morning Genesis was just a day's ride away. Even the horses seemed to sense what that meant and they out performed themselves with and we arrived before sunset to a large crowd to greet us. My sisters and I knew no one there but learned among them was Pythia's father Kether Tess's father Griffin, Pythia's spiritual teachers Zephyr and Calypso as well as friends and other students of their teachers. It was soon after our arrival that we first met two of those who we had heard of that Pythia called the Gatekeepers. This was a pivotal event for my sisters and I and the concluding parts of this tale.
To some it may have seemed long but I actually left so much out of this tale that occurred while we were getting to Genesis, choosing to synopsize much.