Jair's Journey: Part Four - Crescent Canyon
The small caravan had been riding since morning. Kris wanted to get the herd through Crescent Canyon before they stopped for the night. There was a small spring fed lake on the other side that would make a good campsite. Vassili and Radzin rode at the front of the herd, leading the nearly twenty horses. Kris and Efram were talking about their homeland while making sure the herd didn't straggle out too much. Jair and Jason had drifted even further behind as Jair tried to explain the island and how it worked to Jason.
"No, Jason. We don't normally go zapping across the island on lighting bolts." Jair laughed. "Rayden might, but the rest of us use the horses or our feet."
"So that Rayden guy - he's a god right?"
"Yep. God of thunder and lightning I believe."
"But Zeus is God of Lighting."
"Only in your world Jason. In this world, the Gods of Olympus don't rule. In fact, they aren't even here that I'm aware of. Even here - Rayden doesn't 'rule'. That's the Chancellor's job."
"She must be a powerful Goddess to rule over Rayden."
"Well, I don't think she's a Goddess, but who knows what that glow stuff is doing to her." Jair laughed. "This island is just different. The only way here is through the Grigori portal. Anyone not complying with the laws is ejected. We all know that, so we behave ourselves. Since Sharon presided at the trial, and makes any rulings required, she does have quite a bit of power."
"So she's like your Queen? What do you mean by 'glow stuff'?" Jason asked, struggling to understand this place.
"Ummm, yeah, I guess you could say that. She lived in the castle with a King." Jair shrugged. "She's really great. You will like her when you meet her. The glow thing is what happens when you .. ahh.. have intimate relations with a Grigori. Sharon and the Grigori, Leabhar, are in love."
"If she is Queen, then this Leabhar is King right? What sort of laws do you have here?"
"Uh, well Leabhar isn't King. Arthur is King."
"Well, if she is in love with Leabhar, why did she marry this Arthur guy?" Jason asked getting confused.
"Weellll - she isn't 'married' to either. We don't do marriages here. But the Chancellor's Number One is Lord Boteral, but neither Bo nor Arthur are rulers. And before you ask - yes, 'Number One' is sorta like being married. Sharon is carrying Bo's baby, but it isn't an exclusive relationship, and she is having relations with Leabhar." Jair held up her hand before Jason could say anything about that. "Things are different here, Jason and it would take a very long time to explain it."
"Let's skip the interpersonal relationships for a moment, and let me answer your next question. The laws here are mostly unspoken. They all mean the same thing - play nice with the other islander's or you can't stay. No killing, stealing, or destroying of people or property. Any and all disagreements are to be brought before the Council for judgement. Chancellor's rulings are final and not subject to appeal. It's pretty cut and dry."
"And this works?" Jason asked skeptically.
"Why wouldn't it Jason? Think about it - there aren't that many people here. This is a paradise. Food grows year around; there is no war, no crime to speak of. Okay, there are a few petty thieves running around the city - but Arthur and his Knight's dispense justice swiftly. The Cossack village gets a bit rough, but again, Kris and his Lieutenants mete out some rather stern justice when needed. The rest of us all came here knowing the rules and accepting them."
"Imagine if everyone in Corinth was there by choice. If all who were there were provided for, and they all *knew* that if the broke the rule they would be forced to leave - unable to return? No one there would violate the rules. Only, in Corinth, you have neighboring cities and states whose citizens are free to pass through. You have warlords and others always fighting. We don't have any of that here. It's just us."
Jason pulled his horse to a stop motioning for Jair to do the say. Ahead of them, Radzin and Vassili had just led the herd into Crescent Canyon. Kristov and Efram were following behind.
"Do you hear that?" Jason asked, concern etched on his face.
"No.. what is it?"
"It's a rockslide! Come on!" Jason shouted as he recognized the rumble. Kicking his mare into a hard gallop, Jason raced down the road yelling a warning to the others.
Jair quickly urged Copper to follow. As the distance to the canyon mouth closed, Jair could hear the thunder of the slid above the pounding of hooves. Panic gripped her as she watched her friends disappearing into the canyon. The herd stampeded in the confusion, and the Cossack's raced after them. Jair urged Copper faster; suddenly afraid the slide would trap her outside the canyon. The air itself seemed to shake and Jair clenched her eyes shut as she and Copper swept into the canyon with the rockslide settling on the floor behind her. A huge sigh of relief hissed between Jair's teeth as she twisted in the saddle to look back at the rocks still collecting on the canyon bottom behind her.
<That was a little *too* close.> Jair thought, her eyes still wide with fright.
Frantically, Jair glanced around, trying to see her friends. Jason and Efram were still galloping ahead of her, but the Cossacks and the herd had already raced around the bend in the canyon. Suddenly, Efram's horse reared and twisted, tossing him to the ground. Both Jason and Jair pulled their mounts up and jumped down to help.
"Efram!" The young Russian was laying face down in the dirt. Jair gently shook the man, fearing he might be dead. He didn't respond.
"Efram! Wake up! Are you okay? Please be okay!" Jair shouted urgently, panic cracking her voice. "Oh man, Sharon is gonna kill me!"
"Jair, calm down. Take a breath. The man's had the wind knocked out of him. Give him a moment." Jason said firmly. "Efram, take it easy. You've been thrown from your horse. When you're ready let me know, and we'll roll you over."
The Russian clenched his fist to let them know he heard and understood. Jair didn't even know she had been holding her breath until it rushed out in a ragged groan.
"Thank god your okay Efram! I had visions of being banished myself." Jair joked weakly. Jason flashed her a quizzical look.
"Efram is one of Sharon's favorites." Jair explained. At this, Efram rolled over himself.
"Truly?" Efram asked Jair hopefully. "Since we have come to this new place, she hasn't had anytime for me. I thought, perhaps she no longer desired me."
"You silly man." Jair teased him. "Sharon was worried sick about you. If Kris hadn't mentioned that you were with him, Sharon was going to send the Knights out with strict orders not to return unless they had you with them. She was afraid something had happened to you."
"She would have sent a Knight to find me?" Efram breathed in wonderment.
"Not 'a' Knight - ALL the Knights! Efram, she loves you. The only reason she didn't sent them is because she thought you might have left because you were unhappy with her. She wanted to give you the time you needed to sort out what ever was bothering you. She is very happy you have decided to come home to her now, and if I had gone and let you get killed on the way home, she would have probably banished me - so please, tell me you aren't hurt." Jair begged.
"I think I am unharmed." Efram said as he tried to get up. Jair and Jason each grabbed an armed and pulled the man to his feet.
"But my horse has run off." The Russian said, shaking his head sadly. "Where did all those rocks come from?"
"That's a good question. Rock slides don't normally happen on both sides of a canyon at once." Jason said seriously, glancing at Jair meaningfully behind Efram's back.
Jair's eyes widened as she realized what Jason was getting at - that the rockslides might have been man made.
"Jason, that doesn't even make sense. Why would someone set a trap here?"
"Let's see, what was it Kris said - 'worth a King's Ransom'? I believe.." Jason reminded her dryly. "Jair a herd like this could tempt a saint."
"But your forgetting this is an island Jason," Jair scoffed. "Where would these imaginary bandits hide the herd? Who would they sell them to?"
"I can't answer that Jair, but I think we might want to get Efram up on Copper with you and catch up to the others. The silence is starting to bother me."
It was then that Jair noticed what Jason has already picked up on - the lack of shouting, or hooves, or anything. In fact, it had been a while since the slide, and Kris hadn't come back to make sure they were all right.
"You're right Jason, Kris and the others could be hurt. We should go find them." Jair said slowly, still refusing to even consider Jason's bandit theory.
~ End of Crescent Canyon ~
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