The River Runner and other tales

the River Runner part 2

Chapter 5

 As the first light snow reached the valley, the brothers grew closer in their secrecy.  When Father got sick for weeks, it was up to them to get the winter supplies.  The wagon left one fall morning for the city with two brothers, the family savings and one carefully hidden seed pod.  They rode excited as they ever been, for Jan Jan, it was his moment to finish his watercraft and for Bren, a chance at a different life with more responsibility.  They crossed the Iron bridge as warriors on the prowl.  Turning left towards a part of river too unfriendly for river commerce, the warehouses down here featured other crafts, and one was a carpenter named Jooesy.

   Outside the warehouse, Jan Jan unloaded his pod and shook his brother’s hand. “…get a good deal on those supplies, the whole family is counting on you, and don’t forget medicine for Pa.”  They fondly smiled as the young man on the wagon left his brother at the doorstep of destiny.

Bren worked his way up the boulevard greeting strangers and nodding politely at passing girls.  His straw hat bobbing with the beat of the cobblestones.  Pulling up in front of the mansion, leaving the wagon proudly in front, the boy danced his way up the steps.  He had practiced this moment for months and put on his best boyish charm, knocking on the door.

Her Father stood in the doorway with a wondering look, unsure of the protocol, clearly the servants, and delivery boys entered from the back.

“Is your daughter Keyla available at the moment.” Bren grinned like a snake.

The Father understood quickly and shut the door leaving the boy confused.  Time passed as he awkwardly waited for something, when suddenly the door opened.  

“Bren”, she beamed at him  “What brings you to my door?”

He shook off the doubt and added his charm again, rising closer up a step towards her. 

“Me and Jan Jan are here in the city and wanted to see if you were available for a day on the town?”  He patted the place where the family money was.  

She smiled and said yes, closing the door to ask permission. Bren was the happiest boy in the world, he imagined the shopping, the parks, the food, and in a moment’s time they were at the iron front gate looking at the wagon.  

“Where is Jan Jan?”  she asked

“At the carpenter, he got his pod….” Bren was beaming with pride. 

“He’s with Joosey ..let’s go..!”  Keyla understood the importance and began to hurry down the street.

“Wait…”  Bren exclaimed “I have the wagon!”

“We can walk.” She smiled at the silly boy with a question on her face.

“but…but……I have to buy supplies.”  Bren was in shock.

She smiled at him and returned to give him a kiss on the cheek.   “Thank you Bren….good luck with the supplies.”  and she wandered out of sight towards the river.

Keyla remembered the process, how a pod was made. Very careful structural efforts must take place to maintain and lighten the weight to make it seaworthy.  Old Thom says it was the tree itself that taught him how to make the watercraft.  The Seed spoke to him and he did it all by hand.  Took him a year, he says, but now with the modern tools of carpentry a pod can be worked and improved.  New technology developed around the straps, and the addition of a tiny seat, as Old Thom did the trip on his knees, now ruined in his old age.  Only one carpenter would do the work proudly, taking the meager earning of the River Runner, in exchange for certain free shipping situations.  Joosey was a craftsman and Marketeer building an empire like most of the men in Iron City.  Her feet couldn’t move fast enough and as she got to his warehouse passing the corner into the front entrance.   She was surprised to find Jan Jan sit waiting in front.  

“It’s beautiful”  she said softly

He looked up from the edge of two giant closed doors, he had been hunched over touching the smooth edges of his seed, his boat, life raft and legacy.  Each pod is a unique creation, shape and Jan Jan’s was special.  He beamed with pride and she moved on the other side, gently touching it with her soft bare hand.  Something rose within Bren and an impulse rocked his hand into movement.  He put his hand over hers.  An energetic buzz flowed through them, and their eyes never waived from each other.

The sound of metal being pushed up, as Joosey opened the door with excitement.  “Jan Jan, Keyla, and oh my….a beautiful seed pod….come in come in…”

They carried the treasure to the table and the Carpenter began to tap every few inches, listening for echos and the heart beat of the pod.   He murmurs to himself in glee absorbed in the fun.

Keyla backs up sensing a private moment and Jan Jan catches her hand in his.  Holding her gently.  “I don’t want to intrude.”  she speaks with no conviction.  

His eyes said it all and they stood side by side, watching the Master begin his craft.  Hours went by and few words were spoken.  Jan Jan had his part in the work, sanding and smoothing edges.  When Jooesy left them alone to tend to his own work and returned every so often with advice and food made by his wife.  Keyla was given tools herself and added to fine details of the watercraft both absorbed in the building of a dream.  

Suddenly Jooesy returns in alarm, pointing out the time and the darkness of the winter night.  “My friend, this work can not be done in a day, do you trust me to work on her while you are gone?”

Jan Jan placed the money in the Carpenter’s hand and thanked him too many times, then hurried out the door with his love. They rushed laughing through the snowy streets to the Iron gate of her house.  She didn’t dare kiss him on the street but they lingered, with fingers touching for a few more minutes.  After she entered her house, he walked down the empty street in a daze, it wasn’t till he reached the Iron Bridge that something dawned on him.  

Where was his brother? Jan Jan ran all the way home and looked in the barn, which was empty of the wagon.  Silently he opened the door to the kitchen only halfway in.

“Your father is still asleep” she smiled at the young man  “I hope you boys had fun in the city?”

She saw something in his eyes and the look she gave …froze his mind so only the truth mattered.  The cold look was enough for him.  “Find him”.

Jan Jan took the only horse left, his mother’s old horse, who could still get to town but not quickly.  Moving up and down the streets he watched for the wagon and found it down by the warehouses in front of a tavern.  Running inside, the door slamming loudly, the men inside growled at the young man.  He found the Owner still serving Drink to his patrons.

“Did a boy come in here?  The one with the wagon out front?”

“Aye, he did, but he’s gone now.”  the Owner scowled.

“Did you serve him anything?”

“Aye, he had money didn’t he!” and that was that, he turned away to do something else.

Jan Jan stood on the street looking both ways with a tight tension of despair when a sound rose from inside the wagon, where his brother snored away.  Quietly the sober one hooked up the old horse and rode the wagon back to the farm.  At the bridge, the young man rose and said. “I don’t feel well, Jan Jan, Why does Pa like the Drink.”  then he passes out.  

The next day the older brother went back to Ironton to buy what he could and exchange any favor he had.  The supplies would only last till early spring, and he would have no choice but ride the River to Port City and accept the future as a River Runner. 

                        Chapter 6

The Tea Shop was warm and they sat next to the window watching the snow pile against the glass.  Mother was shuffling the cards and Keyla was listening to the conversations in the room.  

“So you haven’t heard from Jan Jan at all?” Mother asks with a strange tone.

“No, the snow has been strong and I know he’s been in the hills hunting for food.” Keyla was sad and it was reflecting on her face.

“Can I read your Cards…?  Her Mother asks in a sober tone.  

Keyla closes her eyes, and nods in appreciation. Her mother begins to lay down the cards one by one.  She felt each card and its significance to the moment, ignoring some, and the aching need of others to be revealed.  7 cards came out in the shape of a triangle.  

Keyla peers down only aware of certain cards, but the skeleton always scared her and naturally it appeared.  She looks up at her Mother’s face, which records the moment with a long breath.  

“The chariot …hmm… and cycles…health….there is something missing.”  she had been trained in Port City but her talents innate.

Her mother is interrupted by a friend who jumps into the seat next to her with a bit of gossip.  It’s a long tirade about her husband and medicine, and the nerve of the farmer’s wife asking for more medicine. “Charity was not to be had under these circumstances. The good doctor was already swamped by this new sickness and if that farmer didn’t want to come to the city, well he could just die out on the farm, because her husband doesn’t make house calls anymore. ” She said. 

Keyla stares mouth agape at the cards and then in wonder at her Mother who nods in understanding.  

“I raised you to be an independent woman, Keyla, your father has no say in any of these matters, you do what you need to do.”

“Thank you Mother.”  She kisses her gently on the cheek and runs out of the Tea Shop into the night.  

Across the river and slightly up the mountain, Jan Jan finds some ferrets in a trap and works his way back to the farm.  In spite of the fur coat, gloves and hat, his body was freezing and he rushed too fast down a hill losing his footing in the snow.  Crashing down for an eternity he finds blood on his face, and a scrape on his leg, but he survived.  The ferret pelts were missing.  

Laying on the snow looking upwards to the bare trees, he thinks of Keyla and wonders if she was just a dream.  The harsh realities of his life had no room for love.  His family might starve this winter, and unlike his Grandfather who saved those Miners with fish, he lacked the ability to save the day.  He couldn’t work until spring and his sick father was worse than ever.  It was his lowest moment and he almost wished for death, yet like that moment in the tree months ago, the Moon suddenly shone down… giving him purpose and direction.  The ferrets hung by a branch nearby and he had something to show for his time.

The smoke at the farm was small, meaning they were saving the wood for his return.  As he crossed the field, a dark figure came to meet him.  

“Jan Jan…..hurry….come on…”   his brother yelled and led him to the barn.  At the entrance he stopped the boy with a twist of his arm… “What happened?”  he demanded.

Bren pushed open the door to the barn and he saw the wagon with a tarp over it, and Keyla standing up on it, wearing men’s pants.  She jumped down and ran to him, grasping him in a hug and a medicine bottle in her hand.  

Bren was excitedly ranting and pulling back the tarp….” she brought us supplies and medicine for Pa…look look…meats, grains, clothes…”

Jan Jan and Keyla stared into each other’s deep eyes reading in wordless forms an understanding. He leans over with one hand to her face and gently kisses her lips.  Bren smiles and awkwardly falls back on the wagon with a sigh…and they smile at his silly antics in an awkward moment that felt less romantic and filled with the simple comfort of touch. .  

Jan Jan breathes in and takes the medicine bottle in hand. “Now is the time to come clean!”

The trio march into the kitchen with arms full of supplies and drop them on the table, Bren hugs his Mother while she cries and the older son goes to his father slumped by the fire.  

“Medicine …Pa, she brought you medicine.”  his eye’s searching for approval.

The Father regains his composure and looks at the table, his son, and the medicine bottle in front of him. 

“That’s from Iron City….I will not take it’s poison.”

Jan Jan rises leaving the bottle next to his father.   “Listen Pa, the farm is almost done, we are starving, this is our shot at living.  We can get through the winter now, you got medicine to get better and in the spring….I will make us money as a River Runner to save the farm.”

The silence was deafening, his mother stopped looking at the supplies, Keyla sat at the table watching and Bren flinched waiting for the fight, the anger and the danger.   Father seemed real quiet and abruptly grips the medicine bottle throwing it into the fire.  

He grumbles something no one hears but  begins to repeat a phrase, “Iron Town took everything from me…Iron Town took everything from me…”

Several weeks later, winter broke and with the first thaw, Father was dead.  The next day the boys found their mother packing a suitcase and saddling up her old horse.  

“I miss my village, I’m going home.”   She turns the horse towards the flat spaces in the east and says one last thing.   “Come see your Ma from time to time, always a place for my boys.”

The brothers watch her leave together, then Bren smacks his brother’s back.  “Guess it’s time to be a River Runner. eh Jan Jan?”

The young man looks at his last family member with worry and only a smile is returned. 

“Don’t worry Big Brother, I got a plan.”

Chapter 7  

The river side was alive with activity.  Logs and barges were being unloaded across the way from the Shack.  Old Thom has a young man’s attention as he tells stories from his glory days.

“Aye, that was my 72nd trip to Port City and boy was that one a doozy.  A guy shot at me just after the falls.. I had damn near a fortune in my box, don’t know how the Weasel found out…but I wasn’t having it.  I tilted my vessel and the buckshot bounces off my old pod. I took a shot at them then started paddling. They chased me for two days.  Sometimes it seemed as if they jumped the river, thinking I was safe on one side or the other but I out-witted them and the client was so happy, he took me to a fine eating establishment..with food you wouldn’t believe….they had these sea creatures all covered in butter….”

Noise came from above on the bridge, a mummer and cheering.  Old Thom knew that was a River Runner.  They were walking with a fresh package for a client in Port City.  He waited to see who it was.  Piercy, Zauch or one of the other men?…

Jan Jan proudly strolled down the embankment wearing a different type of clothing, hand sewn by his Mother.  It was form fitting, waterproof and had pockets.  His pod was stained a dark color and shone in the sunlight.  A pistol hung on a belt around his waist next to a fine water bag hanging to his side paid for by the sale of the family farm.

“Well…Jan Jan..I do believe you are ready.”

Old Thom was proud, and like the emotional father figure he was, wrapped his arms around the young man and told him so.  

The River Runner wasn’t nervous, but felt a stoic sense of purpose.  As Old Thom performed the ceremony with a fresh new bottle of Drink in his hand, he pours real blood and wine into the river, calls for the Goddess and her blessing.  

“Aye” scream the men, and Jan Jan prepares for his first launch.  

Old Thom wobbles into the water to personally deliver the Runner to the River.   “You coming back Jan Jan?”

The Young Man smiles and pushes out yelling… “SEE WHERE THE RIVER TAKES ME!” 

Hand by hand with his new leather gloves pulling him deeper into the flow.  He steadies his balance, his breath and finds that sweet spot aimed at the falls…then let’s go.

The pod is free and the pull of a mighty river yanks and bobs in the spring gusts.  Jan Jan falls over the first obstacle with no effort then paddles, flexing the hard muscles from a lifetime of labor to mold the river into direction.  The pod and water are one and next fall is not as graceful.  His arm comes out of the strap on one side forcing the pod too far, with water pouring in he grips thinly the edges pulling upwards while the jetties pull downwards.  He willed the pod upright with pure magic and paddles for the next open hole.  

Minutes felt like hours but finally he has gone through the worst of it and gently paddles and steers the pod.  The trees line the river with roots exposed, as it was the acorn’s blind luck to grow next to a river and one day the broken branches will join the river’s progression downstream.  

Animals on the bank drink from the water carefully, turtles dive off of logs and the silent man sees the world go by as he himself moves like the wind past all of it.  

After an hour or so, he pulls the package from his safe box and views the address.  Jan Jan doesn’t know Port City, so that will be a challenge.  The client was named … Commander Eliade…and he lived at 23 Casa Royale st.  He had time on his hands and so the young man thought of her. 

Jan Jan and Keyla had a strange spring, as he buried his Father, sold the farm,  and prepared for his first River Run.  The love between them grew but so did a huge gap, as the dangerous future he wanted was coming closer and closer. 

Keyla told him, he had to go down river, there was no question of that.  He had to a destiny to fulfill and she supported it.  She picked out his gloves, helped stain the pod and watched his mother sew the fine leather Keyla brought, while remaining silent as the coughs of the Patriarch grew faint in the other room. She helped carry his body to the family grave site.  The young woman had become intertwined in the life of this young man and yet, this strange gap still existed from his riverbank to her mansion.

The night before, Keyla left after supper while the sun still shone. She looked down from her Mare and told Jan Jan “I can’t  watch you leave.  Someone was sure to hire him tomorrow and she simply couldn’t be there to see.”   Before the shock of this hit Jan Jan, she had turned and rode away.

Jan Jan passed her house on the way to the river from the Shipping Office and looked up to her window wondering why she abandoned him…now…at his proudest moment.  

The sadness on the River Runner’s face was confusing to the bird perched on riverbanks watching the young man float by.  How could a man be so silent, or was he a fish?  

Jan Jan secretly promised to himself that if he lived through this adventure, perhaps he could one day afford to love her.  How long that would take was the cause of his sadness.  He shook the emotions loose thinking about the sea that waited for him at the end of this journey.   

By the end of the first day, he was resting as taught hidden by his pod under some trees attempting to sleep.  He gave up after a while and built a fire out in the open on a soft sand bar.   

He knew all the stories Old Thom told, by heart, so every traveler on the river was suspect, every bridge could have had a bandit.  The weasels are everywhere said…. Old Thom said…watch out boy…

Jan Jan laughed at the old man in his head and looked up at the stars.  There was no one for miles and once that thought landed, Jan Jan was out, exhausted from a long first day.

The second day was long too, with one nap while floating a long stretch but as the swamps and confusing curves lasted for half day, he found no solid land to sleep on, and spent the night drifting and watching for alligators…as the sun rose and he doubled back from an accidentally fork in the river, he saw the edges of civilization.

 Suddenly it was there..Port City.  Flat, strange and full of odd smells.  Jan Jan found the local Shipping office near the docks, stored the pod and uniforms, then wandered the city looking for the address.  

He was so tired and needed a bed, but he couldn’t risk the cargo. After a few bad conversations he found the address on a lonely quiet street built on a slight hill.  

  23 Casa Royale was a thin house but had two massive pillars on the porch.  He knocked on the front door which was answered by an oddly dressed man.  It was part uniform, part patterned fabric and completely original.  The Older man sized up the young man with a glance full of recognition and surprise.

“Your ….the River Runner?”

“Aye, I have the package for Commander Eliade..”

Jan Jan is ushered in and asked if he wanted to sit in the parlor, but he knew he couldn’t sit now for fear of sleeping, so he holds out the package impatiently. 

“Are you Eliade?”

The Commander goes to a desk and rings a large sized bell.  

“Yes..Yes..I am Elliot Eliade but the package isn’t for me, it’s for my niece.” He gives the boy an odd grin.

Jan Jan hears footfalls on the staircase and looks up just in time to see the young woman enter the room.  His breath is lost.

Keyla walks up and takes the package, opens it quickly, and pulls out a small bag of Coin and hands it too Jan Jan smiling like a tiger.  “For services rendered”.  Then kisses him on the lips.

Commander Eliade returns with some glasses and suggests a toast. “To your success, my boy.” Holding a glass up high while Jan Jan stands in a state of tired shock, with his lover in his arms, remembering all the stories of her favorite Uncle and her life in Port City. The two days of coach travel would have put Keyla here just in time to see her man return. The Spy Uncle had been an accomplice in her schemes and plans and the River Runner didn’t mind. Keyla looked into his eyes as she lifted her glass.

“You did it my Love.  The River Runner, and I will be here with a kiss each time you return.”  Jan Jan gets tears in his eyes as she looks deep into his being.  She was there for his proudest moment after all.

 “Want to go see the ocean?”  She winks at him wearing clothes suited for adventures on the town.

Jan Jan smiles and sheepishly asks. “Can I have a nap first?”  

Chapter 8

Commander Eliade rose early most mornings. Today he stood in his closet looking for specific clothes.  His bedroom was a pristine example of modern style and discipline. However Uncle Eli, as he preferred to be called, only used the room for special occasions and a place to put on proper attire.  As he had company,  he silently rose the long stairs to his bedroom from the cot in his lab to find travel wear.  

The former spy looked at himself in the mirror and felt shocked by his reflection.  “How long has it been?”  He asked the alternative Self, staring back. 

Habits had formed in the long days of retirement and while he enjoyed tradition, it had been an introverted affair as of late.  Usually Uncle Eli went to the roof in his pajamas.  His house had a traditional “nest” for watching the ships arrive at the port and from the vantage point,with traveling clothes on, he began his odd morning regime.  

“Ah..the Maddox is back, and unloading humans ….are we?  

He scribbles on a pad of paper and returns to the telescope shining in the rising sun.  A large brown hat rest on his head as the Provocateur agent tilts the brim to block the suns rays while one eye disappears towards a far away dock, watching the comings and goings of the city.  

After he has had his fill of the current state of affairs, he sits in silence with his hands palm up on his knees for a period of 15 mins, like he was taught across the ocean.  Uncle Eli begins to exercise with slow long stretches and a few air punches and kicks.  His breathing is labored slightly as he makes it to the kitchen for food.  

“Hello Uncle.”  She smiles from the table absorbed in a map of the city that was drawn by the Commander himself.  

“My dear” he says with fondness.  

Her presence was always a welcomed distraction.   Not that his life was boring, as Port City had madness at every turn.  Uncle Eli dabbled in activism, intellectual circles and a bit of vandalism.  He hated slavery and everything it stood for and he considered his niece for a possible mentor-ship as she grasped the ideology and stakes of the thing he was rebelling against. Maybe she was maturing or maybe she was just wrapped into her own teenage hormones.  

“Commander Eliade, sir.!” The young man actually stood at attention.  

“Retired my boy, retired, sit down and please….please…please….call me Uncle Eli.  

The Trio politely sits, unsure of the protocols of social decorum.  That is until Jan Jan begins to eat his bread with his hands, and the table collapses into noise.  Forks clinked, ceramic cups landed loudly with slurps and coughs.  

“So…. what do you have planned?”

The elder in the room knew enough to ask certain questions.  The two kissed the evening away as he fed the young man and listened to the story of the River Runner.  Not quite a legendary tale just yet, but the boy was brave and good.  He could sense it and had just wandered away as the evening grew long and had no idea what came next.  Not that it mattered, he was happy to have company and they were both adults as far as he was concerned.  

“We are going to the port to look at the sights!”   She happily said, wanting so badly to see the emotion on her lover’s face.  

Uncle Eli had a look of complete refusal that confused the young people at the table…he stood shaking his head, moving to the window in thought.  

“No, No…the Port is human filth and industry, please…please let me take you to the ocean, myself?”

Two hours later the trio found themselves out of the city on a country lane surrounded by swamp.  Uncle Eli had his back to the Coachman who guided four strong horses pulling their modest transport.  It was uncovered and the  wooden bench on which the Lovers sat bounced with each rut and each groove in the road was pronounced but soft cushions were provided for a decent padding to the posterior abuse.

“That path leads to the Roestercer Plantation, one of the worst slave owners on the swamp.  First Family have expanded their power ….” The elder man was interrupted by his niece.

“Jan Jan doesn’t know about the First Family.”   Keyla frowned and spoke to the young man. “The city was founded by a series of rich families from the Old Country.  They got rich off slaves and have dominated the politics of the City to this day.” 

Uncle Eli was activated by the conversation.

 “Evil men will do evil things unless someone points it out, and the First Family is the scourge of this country i love.  You don’t support slavery…of course you don’t.  What human would?”  Uncle Eli was positively captivating, even the Coachman was listening.  “This big ball of blue is big enough for all of us, but when you profit off other people’s misery, build empires of war and stand on the backs of working class people…….”   His fist was clenched and teeth gritted, Uncle Eli was saved by the first sight of water. 

That magical water body that begins no where, ends no where and fills up the grooves of this planet.  The ocean, the sea and some say the Goddess herself.  

“I heard it said once that air is also water”  Jan Jan is mesmerized as the wagon gets closer to shore.  “Little bits of ocean go all the way up to the clouds which are made ocean too.”  He smells the salt in the air.

Keyla watches his face, completely in love with this man.  This true authentic River Runner and softest soul.  She thinks about something she read.  “This professor across this sea thinks our blood is like the ocean too. He figured out how to separate things into smaller parts, like take the salt out of water, and gold out of stone, he  called it Alchemy.”

The Trio arrive and stand together at the edge of the sand. Where the sky meets the sea is the straightest line Jan Jan has ever seen.  Uncle Eli and Keyla who have both been on this very beach many times, find themselves in a strange awe of the ocean, with the ceremony giving meaning to this moment in time.

Keyla removes her shoes, slips her toes into the warm comfort of tiny crystals and shells.  She reaches out and leads her love to the water.  His shoes sink in deeply and push out a wave of sand roughly behind where Uncle Eli happily follows the pair to the Mother Ocean.  His moment was found and he places himself downward into his pose, hands up, eyes shut and he becomes one with the universe with each intake of salt air.

Jan Jan finally slips his shoes off and after a moment of reverence he focuses on the girl that gives him purpose.  She laughs running wildly into the water, her ankles and long legs bouncing with each step deeper into the water’s depth.  At the waist she stops and scoops up the water with two joined hands, tossing up into the air, the ocean and it’s strange tiny creatures.  

Content she looks back for Jan Jan and sees only the solo man, calmly meditating on the beach.  It was only a split second of time, slightly understanding before the impact.  Her waist rising and warmth of the sun back into lower body parts now sailing upwards with great speed. 

Jan Jan spared no muscle, and gave it his all as his love was tossed like a doll into the air from his surprise underwater attack.  

In a moment of memory recall, the worry returned to the young man, that he went too far, like a big brother who doesn’t know his strength, Jan Jan stood in the ocean waiting for her return.

She struck him at the back of the knee with her powerful leg muscles and pulled him under with her arm around his neck. The lovers sank, kissed, splashed and played, like children having the most epic day on the beach.  Yet as they emerged from the water, clothes clinging to tight young bodies, hand in hand.  They were the most powerful people in the world, baptized by the Mother Ocean and ready for adventure.

The Trio ended up on a blanket eating food and talking about the future, basking in the spring sun.   The Elder spoke about the possibilities, where Jan Jan would work for his friends, take a room in his Port City house, and Keyla would be his apprentice. “It’s serious business of course”   Uncle Eli explained.  “Spy work is hard enough, and dangerous some of the time, but it is a worthy effort.”

Jan Jan was concerned naturally and voiced his confusion.  “You want Keyla to work for the Government and be a spy?”

“No, No… I am retired from Government work, this is strictly off the books type of deal.  We are in new territory, this is a revolution, my boy.  We are fighting for the Good, the Just and Hopeful.  Keyla will simply be my assistant.”  Uncle Eli realized the boy wasn’t ready for the truth just yet, and he still had to groom his niece into a decent spy.   

Keyla wasn’t worried and seemed to always be in complete control.  She soothed her lover with a kiss and a whisper in his ear.  “I’ll always be here when you return.”  She knew what Uncle Eli wanted, and she wanted adventure, experience and had the same spiritual vein of seeking for the Good.  Keyla had already been groomed by the witches at the Tea shop, and Uncle Eli was a known Ally of Sisterhood.  

Jan Jan couldn’t even fathom the framework of the strange dealings his Lover tangled with.  A River Runner is a brave soul, and the simplicity of their mission must be maintained. 

Jan Jan, Keyla and Uncle Eli watched the waves crest and pull back unaware that each wave was actually the entire ocean itself and not autonomous at all.  Each cresting wave was just a tiny moment of time when the physics of gravity and a stellar body in space, caused all the water on the planet, nested in deep crevices, flowing down rivers, streams and even the blood within our bodies… simply shift..back and forth in tiny imperceptible movements in space.  

…… 7 months later……

Uncle Eli rose from the cot in his bathrobe and wandered to the roof.  He peered into the telescope out at the port, where very little was occurring.  He sighed with a tad bit of boredom.  It had been a wonderful 7 months with battle education, magical rites and munition training for Keyla.  He almost imagined what a different life would have been if he had been a father, but he never settled and his obsession with justice was solitary. Keyla was quick study and had an intelligence that baffled the old man but his pride trumped all fears for her safety.

The Spy sat on the roof and tried to meditate but he was anxious.  His contact in Iron Town said she had something important to send, and her investigation at the bank had been fruitful. Uncle Eli knew that when corruption was in the air, certain people could be exposed and usually when exposure occurs, death often follows

He rises and looks over the edge towards the street below and the slight curve of the hill, away towards the river.  He spots movement and swings the telescope down the street.  Smiling Uncle Eli rushes down the stairs pounding on her door. 

“He’s back!”.   

This was Jan Jan’s 4th trip down the river as suddenly, secret communication was becoming an issue in the current political climate.  He carried his pod all the way up the hill now, and stores it by the door when he returns home.  She always greets with a giant hug and he looks forward to it each time.  When the door opens abruptly, he begins to widen his arms with a smile, but is quickly shocked by Uncle Eli, tearing through the frame.

“Did you bring it?”   The nod was a life bringer, as the Spy tears open the package and begin to read on the spot.  Jan Jan had been slipped the package behind the Tea shop by an old lady, with shining eyes. She had looked through him in a way he had never experienced. Jan Jan suspected she was Old Thom’s sister.

Keyla sleepily stood in the doorway yawning.  She embraces her Man, as her Uncle yells into the wind, pointing the couple.

“Our action is unleashed…we begin our next mission tonight!”

……..standby for the next exciting chapter

The Mystical Maiden and Provocator…