The Reunion Part Three: The Plot Thickens
"We're going to need more rock and dirt!" Methos shouted up to Silas and Kronos on the canyon rim.
For several hours, the three of them had been building up rockslides on both sides of Crescent Canyon - so named for it's curved shape similar to a crescent moon. When the slide traps were finished, one man on each rim would be able to release the slides by yanking on a series of ropes. The rocks would thunder down the canyon walls, hopefully creating quite a bit of racked and spooking any horses that just "happened" to be below.
Methos sat back on his heels, reviewing the lay of the rock piles and the strength of the ropes as he reflected on the reason for these particular traps. Kronos had revealed his desire to somehow attack the Cossacks several days earlier at Silas' farm. No amount of questioning had yielded beyond the most perfunctory explanation of why. Methos was certain it had something to do with Jair. His suspicion had been confirmed when Caspian had returned from a scouting mission at the Cossack village with news that Jair was at the palace.
The village's tavern had been abuzz with two pieces of news. The barmaid, Patsy, had been particularly talkative while trying to impress Caspian. She had first described the spectacular entrance Jair and her new "mystery man" had made. Seems they had appeared in a flash of lighting laughing and giggling, clinging to each other "in a manner almost indecent". The wench had given some rather lurid details of this entrance speaking as she had witnessed it first hand. According to her, the mystery man was rather divine, bordering on god-like. Jair had been desperate to keep his attention, but the barmaid insisted the mystery man was really looking at her the entire time. Caspian recounting of Patsy's gossip, complete with the falsetto voice and batting eyelash had Silas and Methos laughing so hard Methos nearly toppled over backwards.
The second bit of gossip that Caspian had returned with was talk of the lavish gifts the Cossack leader was going to be presenting at the Christmas Celebration to be held at New Camelot the end of the following week. The herd of horses was to include several rare breeds and a mare and colt worth a king's ransom. All told it was nearly twenty horses, but what had Caspian nearly drooling as he recounted this was the news that only Kris and two other Cossacks would accompany the herd and Jair to New Camelot.
Kronos hadn't said anything to Caspian's report - but he had nearly beheaded Methos in a sparring match later that evening. Methos had been able to determine that Jair had not only arrived at Kristov's nearly a week early, but that Kronos intended to kill this mystery man one way or another. It had taken Methos the rest of the intense and exhaustive workout to convince Kronos the mystery man was not worth getting exiled from the island (the current penalty for murdering an inhabitant).
When Kronos had tired enough to listen to Methos' calm outline of all the reasons why the mystery man couldn't be "killed", Kronos had smiled that same tight, smug smile he always got just before a raid.
"Why, my dear brother, if you had a better plan, you should have just said so."
Too late, Methos discovered the corner he had painted himself into. Now, instead of just trying to find out the reason behind the sudden re-assembly, Methos would once again be walking the tightrope between planning Kronos' attacks and trying to insure lives were not ended because of it. So here he was a few days later, in a canyon in the middle of the mountains, once again laying traps for his friends.
The road leading through the canyon was the only easily traveled route from Kristov's palace to New Camelot - and it was by far the easiest terrain for herding a large quantity of horses through. All of this made it the ideal location for an ambush. Methos' plan was simple, and it was safe. There was almost no risk of injury to anyone.
<Well, except maybe the horses that are going to stampede through the canyon.> Methos sincerely hoped the horses weren't hurt, but it was better to spook a few horses than wage an all out battle. Someone would most assuredly get killed if that were to happen.
Methos glanced up at Kronos tying the final knots in the series of ropes and wondered for the millionth time just what was going on behind those grey-green eyes. Whatever was eating at Kronos, it was serious, because less than three weeks ago Kronos had been laughing at Jair for throwing mud in his face.
Methos had been astounded that Kronos could laugh at something he would normally have considered a killing offense. Amazement over Kronos' seemingly relaxed outlook had increased tenfold at the smile that had crossed Kronos' face when Jair had tossed him over her shoulder into the river. Methos suspected Jair was at the heart of whatever was driving Kronos, but the man refused to talk about her. If she was the issue, Methos couldn't help speculating why she was at Kristov's and not the tree house. Either way, Methos doubted Jair would be pleased with Kronos' plan to steal Christmas gifts.
<This is the best I can do.> Methos thought wearily. <If this slide spooks the horses, the Cossacks should ride after them. Hopefully they will not put up much of a fight when they are trapped inside the canyon.>
Silas and Kronos called out having finished the knots. Methos did a slow walk around both traps, inspecting everything. If these slides failed, the Horsemen would meet the Cossacks head on in a general melee. Methos held no illusion that such a battle would have a chance of ending without at least one man dead.
"That should do it!" he shouted up to the rim. Silently, Methos sent a small prayer to any god that cared to listen hoping the battle to come went as planned.
That evening, sitting around the fire, Methos outlined his plan for the other three. When he was finished, Methos walked into the night without another word, leaving Silas to struggle with the enraged Caspian while Kronos just stared after him.
<So the bastard thinks he can go play without me, huh?> Mel snarled as from her perch in the tree. <We'll just see about that!>
<Thinks he can leave me trussed up like some pig on the way to market does he? I'll teach him to try chasing my horse away."
It had been five days now since Mel had freed herself and set out after her wayward lover. One entire day was lost finding her horse Caspian has so "thoughtfully" released from the corral outside their hut. Thankfully, (insert name here) was better trained than Caspian because (insert name) hadn't wandered far.
Another day had been lost following Kronos and Caspian's trail to Canopy Aerie, the tree house Jair shared with Kronos. Mel had been surprised the trail hadn't been covered up some. Following their tracks had been simple, since the men had ridden at a hard gallop the entire way leaving deep groves in the soft dirt of the trail. Either Caspian didn't think she would follow (which was just plain stupid and not like Caspian at all), or he didn't care if she followed. Both possibilities infuriated Mel.
<Not as much as Jair's gonna be when she gets home.> Mel thought with a snicker.
Kronos and Caspian had stopped back at the tree house on their way to Silas'. One or both of them had completely trashed the place. Nothing had appeared broken, but Mel winced remembering the overturned furniture, the messes scattered everywhere. The kitchen was the worst. Mel would be surprised if it turned out the guys took any supplies, since most of the food seemed to be on the floor. All the cupboards and cabinets had been emptied. Mel had left the tree house disgusted with both Caspian and Kronos.
The next four days had been spent following the guy's to this canyon. When Methos had walked out of the trees from the other side of the yard at Silas', Mel had been really surprised. No one knew he was here, and Mel would have given her eyetooth to know how he got on the island. Mel had watched Methos direct Kronos and Silas to set up the rockslide, and had seen Methos gesturing to various parts of the mouth of the canyon and the rims. It was easy to see they were laying a trap for someone, but Mel couldn't be certain whom - much less why. She also had no idea where Caspian had been while the other three worked, and that worried her.
When the guys had settled around their fire for the evening, Mel had retreated through the forest to the large tree she had staked out earlier. Nimbly she had climbed up the branches and tied a hammock chair to hang below one of the larger branches. From here, she could see Kronos' campfire. Mel had laughed when Caspian went berserk, screaming and straining against Silas' meaty arms.
"Serves him right! I hope they told him he doesn't get to play tomorrow." Mel thought grumpily. "How dare he try to leave me out of this. I'll show him."
Mel tilted her head back against the webbing of her swinging chair and settled down. She suspected that the battle the guys had been preparing for would be soon. Either way, there weren't any signs of them breaking camp on this night, so Mel chose to get some much-needed sleep.
Dreams of foxes running from hounds plagued her sleep. Through
out it all, she never relaxed her tight grip on the soft leather handle
of the giant bullwhip at her side.
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