Jair's Journey: Part Three - Lightning Strikes
Jair's fingers drummed an impatient tempo against Lilly's desktop as she waited impatiently for Ev's response. Even though Jason was showering in the adjacent room, the cloying scent of the flowers Jair had beat him with continued to cloud the room. Jair's nose wrinkled anew as she swallowed to prevent herself from gagging.
<Who would have thought such pretty flowers could stink so bad?> Jair thought peevishly. It wasn't so much that the flowers "stunk", the scent was just overwhelming in it's power and intensity.
<What is taking so long?> Jair wondered. She was praying that Ev would be able to persuade Rayden not only to do something about the smell, but also to "zap" them up to Pavlovsk.
Originally, Jair had fled Canopy Aerie and Kronos' confusing presence to find some time and space. Everything she had ever heard about Kronos told Jair nothing with him should be "easy", and yet that is exactly what living with him had been. Comfortable, passionate, invigorating, and relaxing all at once. Even in their "fights" he seemed to know just when he needed to back off, to change the tide and redirect Jair's flash fire emotions.
When Kristov had emailed her an invitation to join him on a ride to the Christmas Celebration, along with a thinly disguised reminded that she had yet to visit him as promised, Jair had leapt at the offer. Jair had quickly planned a nearly two week whirlwind tour of the island that had her stopping at all of her friend's homes on the way to Kristov's village. Jason's appearance had changed that plan.
Something wasn't right with the portal, and now Jair was worried. It had opened without Lilly actively trying to open it. If it opened to allow Jason through, then what else might it be opening for? Jason was a nice enough fellow, but what if it had let through one of the warlords that Hercules and Xena were known for fighting? Jair's mind flashed through the variety of universes represented on the island, and all the "bad guys" that weren't here. What if the portal started allowing them through? Sudden visions of Mordred's army thundering down on Camelot flashed through her mind. It was a tame vision compared to the possibilities.
Even without the portal to worry about, something was not right with Jason. Granted, he was shocked by the whole thing. Stepping into a strange world only to meet people that know you had to be disconcerting, but there was something more to whatever was bothering Jason. He hadn't spoken much after asking about Methos. Thankfully, Jason's color had returned by the time the reached Lilly's cabin. Jair had ushered him into the shower and jumped on Lilly computer to send off an urgent plea to Ev and Rayden.
A flash of light to her right caused Jair to turn around, only to jump up with an excited shriek.
"Ev!!" Jair rushed over to hug her friend. "Guess I should have been waiting for the lightning and not an email huh?"
Ev wrinkled her nose, while Rayden coughed quietly.
"What is that smell?" Ev choked out.
"That's part of why I needed your help." Jair giggled.
In the next room, the shower stopped. All three people turned to look as Jason emerged from the bathroom wrapped in a towel.
"I don't think it helped much." Jason said glumly, before looking up. "Oh, we have visitors."
At Jason's appearance, the scent grew even stronger.
"Jason, this is Ev and Rayden. I'm hoping Rayden can help us out some." Jair glanced at Rayden, trying not to breath too deeply. "This is Jason, King of Corinth. He's new to our island, and he's run afoul of some jungle flowers. Is there -"
"Hehehe... Ev, dear, it isn't polite to drool in public." Rayden chuckled as he gently reached over and pushed Ev's bottom jaw back up. With a wave of his hand, the smell vanished.
Everyone in the room breathed a sigh of relief. Ev just giggled.
"My what broad shoulders you have.. " Ev leered in her best little old granny voice as she still stared at the expanse of tanned flesh not covered by the towel.
"The better to heft you over his shoulder and toss you on the bed with." Jair completed with a laugh.
Jason flushed, having sudden flashbacks the Danaides, the fifty daughters of Danaus, and their relentless pursuit of any available man. At least these two weren't chasing him around the palace pinching his butt or arms at any chance. A quick smile flashed across his face as Jason thought of what Cerys would do to Danaus' daughters.
<No, Cerys won't.> Jason realized with a frown. <Cerys is probably wondering where I am now. I wonder how long she'll wait outside the forest for me.>
Jair noted the small frown that chased the smile from Jason's face. Something was definitely troubling the man, and Jair didn't think it was just being in a new world.
"Ev, do you think you might be able to help Jason find some clothes?"
Jason's head snapped up at his name. He glanced from Jair to Ev, then back to Jair.
"Oh suuurreee.. " Ev purred. "I'd be happy dress him for you."
"Uh - are you sure its.." Jason asked hesitantly, licking his lips in faint apprehension at the sudden glint in Ev's eyes.
"Don't worry Jas," Jair chuckled. "She won't do anything you don't enjoy."
Ev and Jason disappeared in a flash of lightning. Jair just sighed.
<I'm sure Ev will help him recover from *that* surprise.>
"He will not be harmed by that. You wish to speak with me?" Rayden asked Jair turning his electric eyes on her with a conspiratorial wink.
Vassili walked out the tavern doors to get a breath of fresh air and try to make up his mind. His long blond hair rippled in the slight breeze as he leaned against the railing sipping his ale and considering his choices. It was the end of a long week of harvesting grain. Some changes had been made to the traditions, since they were only a small band. The Cossacks had to harvest enough for the palace and several others. In order to meet the demands of the livestock, and not completely wipe out the men, Kris had agreed they would conduct a harvest twice a year.
Kris had chosen two fields in a meadow behind Pavlovsk palace for this year's second harvest. Traditionally, only men serving in the army had the right to harvest, but there was no standing army - so any man that wish was allowed. Each family was required to send at least one man to the harvest though. The families had all walked up to the meadow the night before to choose their "circle".
Several good natured wagers had been placed on who could mow the largest complete circle. Radzin had won this bet several year's running, but one of the younger men, Sergei, had challenged him this year. Sergei bet he could complete a larger circle and complete it faster than Radzin or he would cut Radzin's share of the harvest. Such an unheard of challenge had set the whole village to whispering. To make the wager fair, Kris allowed Sergei to demand a counter offer. Sergei demanded first pick of next month's foals. Since Radzin's horses won most of the races, and his prize mare was about to foal, the demand was deemed a fair one.
At the crack of dawn, Kris had blown his whistle, and the men had all set to hand-mowing a circle. Tradition had it that the circle must be complete by sunset and all inside the circle would then belonged to the man's family. In the past, it had taken quite a bit of skill since a circle made too large wouldn't be finished in time, or, if started too near a neighbor, would intersect each other rendering both useless. Here on the island, the circle was just for fun and competition. All the harvest would be shared equally, and some would be distributed to other parts of the island.
Towards the end of the day, most everyone stopped to cheer on either Radzin or the younger Sergei. The two men were dripping sweat, but swinging their scythes furiously. Sergei's circle was most definitely bigger, but it looked as though Radzin might finish sooner. The race had gone down to the last 10 or so strokes. Sergei and Radzin had both nearly been "disqualified" for not completing the circles before sunset. In the end, Sergei had won - but barely. The celebration that followed was missed by both men, who passed out asleep after less than one mug of ale. The rest of the village celebrated so long, and with such enthusiasm, that only a handful returned to the meadow the next day.
Now, at the end of the week, nearly all the hay had been harvested. Most of the people had simply stayed at the meadow until they finished their portion. The weather on the island was so pleasant that a small cooking fire and a light blanket was all that was required for comfort. Vassili had enjoyed the camaraderie of the work, and the singing and dancing around the campfires, but he had sorely missed the softer companionship he enjoyed while staying in the palace. Back in town, Vassili still hadn't decided which one of the lovely women he wished to visit first, so he stood on the porch of the tavern sipping his ale and pondering his choices.
The air in the square before the tavern crackled as a flash of lightning deposited Jair and Jason, clinging to each other in surprise, in the center of Pavlovsk village square. A small crowd of Cossack's gasped in surprise at the stranger's arrival. Several people quickly crossed themselves. Jair giggled nervously and hugged Jason tightly to make sure they were both really solid.
"Thanks Rayden!" She called out cheerfully. A rumble of thunder,
sounding for all the world like a chuckle, rolled across the clear sky.
Vassili recovered from his initial shock and quickly walked over to Jair, pulling her away from Jason and into a hug.
"Jair! We didn't expect you for another week, and somehow, we really thought you'd be riding a horse."
As if in answer, lightning crackled behind Jason leaving Copper in it's wake. Copper snorted and butted Jason with her nose. Vassili laughed as the chuckling thunder sounded for the second time.
"I think I need to meet this Rayden fellow someday." Gesturing to one of the boys gawking at the edge of the square, Vassili commanded, "You, boy, take the mare to the stable behind here. Brush her well, and give her an extra handful of grain. Come inside Jair, you can introduce me to your friend and quench your thirst before we ride to the castle."
~ End of Lightning Strikes ~
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