Saturday, April 29, 2017

Book Two of The Princess Tara Chronicles: The Princess Witch, Chapter Three

Chapter Three
Part One

“So Class,” Michael said to his Introduction to U.S. History 101 class, as he fixed his eyes on the clock at the back of the room, desperately trying to will the clock to count down to the end of the period. “Did Abraham Lincoln fight the Civil War to abolish slavery? Or to preserve the Union?”

“Professor?” a female student in the front row asked, one of only two students sitting in the front row. Michael long ago discovered a direct correlation between grades and the seating chart. Well, at least he had two students actually interested in U.S. history.

Michael glanced at his seating chart. “Yes Mandy?”

“We covered this material last week,” she said.

“We did?” Michael flipped through his lecture notes, trying to remember his last lecture to the class.

“We were supposed to read the chapter on Reconstruction for today’s class,” the student added.

“Oh yes. So sorry,” Michael replied. “Don’t know what I was thinking.” Several students in the back snickered. Michael knew perfectly well what he was thinking. Red Tara sat perched on the window sill of the history lecture hall window on the second floor of Denny Hall, open thanks to another gorgeous Seattle spring day. The students saw a strikingly colored red and green macaw parrot, with a pure white face scored with zebra stripes of tiny black feathers. Michael saw a stunning six foot tall red skinned Amazon goddess with four arms and a long bow slung over her shoulder. A red skinned Amazon goddess only partially clothed. In Michael’s defense, any red-blooded male history professor in similar straits would have difficulty concentrating on his lecture notes.

“Reconstruction. Oh yes. Reconstruction. . .” Michael glanced at the clock before his eyes strayed back to Red Tara. He could feel sweat beading on his forehead. Michael became a minor celebrity at the U Dub when Red Tara started flying around the campus following Michael between his office and his classes. Some days even Margarita scampered along as well. Students became to call Michael the pied piper of the U Dub, or Doctor Dolittle behind his back. Michael did notice that women students began to smile at him more often, and even stop him for conversation as they passed on campus. Red Tara would perch on top of campus buildings like a gargoyle and wait for Michael to finish his lectures, or like on this day, sit on an open window sill.

“It’s started!” a male student at the back of the hall shouted, jumping to his feet.

“Reconstruction?” Michael responded, confused. “Wait. What’s started?” he asked as students scrambled to their feet.

“Deportation Police are moving into the city. In force,” the student said, holding up his tablet. Local news video on the screen showed masses of black clad Deportation Police goons surrounding Seattle Police Department headquarters downtown. “The regime nationalized the city police!” the student cried out. Anyone still sitting jumped out of their seats and surrounded the student with the tablet, trying to get a glimpse of the news broadcast on the slab.

Red Tara squawked, flapped her wings, jumped out the window and disappeared into the sky.

“Reconstruction. . .” Michael whispered, and closed his lecture book.

“They’re rounding up the city police and detaining any cops that refuse to change their blue uniforms for black jumpsuits. They’ve occupied City Hall. The mayor is in hiding and calling on the city to resist this federal incursion,” the student continued, attempting to explain the developing situation as students yelled questions at him.

“Class dismissed,” Michael softly said, not sure if the bell rang to end the class. It was clear his students no longer cared about Abraham Lincoln or Reconstruction. He thought to say something about the next class assignment, but realized no one was listening to him. The room became a cacophony of incoherent shouts and questions yelled at the man with the tablet, while the man with the tablet tried to concentrate on following the news broadcast. Shouting and the sound of running feet in the hallway outside the classroom door competed for attention with the shouting inside the classroom. Michael gathered his lecture materials and dashed out the door. He wanted to get back to his office so he could call Charlie at the bird store to get an update on the underground Seattle expedition.

Michael ran out of Denny Hall and smack into a line of black clad Deportation Police holding nasty looking machine guns, almost dropping his books and lecture notes. An officer armed with a side arm and a magic harpoon stepped forward to confront Michael. Tall. Sallow face and skin. Long stringy black hair. Sunken black eyes. A laxsa. “Papers!” he ordered. Michael held out his lecture notes.

With a swipe of the magic harpoon the laxsa knocked Michael’s lecture notes and books out of his hands, scattering them across the lawn. “Does this look like a circus to you? the officer asked Michael. Michael shook his head. “Then why are you treating this like a joke?”

“You asked for my papers,” Michael replied. “Those were my papers from the class I teach.”

The goon swung the magic harpoon and clocked Michael across the side of his head. Michael screamed in pain as his knees buckled and he fell to the ground.

“Show me your campus identification!” the goon yelled at him. Michael struggled to his feet, the side of his face covered with blood. He jammed his hands into his pockets, searching for his wallet.

“I must have left my ID in my office,” Michael tried to explain. He froze in terror as the goon lowered the magic harpoon.

The harpoon fell to the ground. It dawned on Michael that an arrow stuck out of the goon’s forehead. The goon toppled over backwards, a stream of blood running down his nose.

One of the other Deportation Police goons raised his machine gun. With a thud, another arrow pierced his skull and the point stuck out the back of his head. The goon spun to the ground, firing off a burst from his machine gun as he fell. The burst of bullets cut down three Deportation Police goons standing next to him.

Michael grabbed the magic harpoon and pointed it at the remaining cops. Several collapsed to the ground, dead. The last two goons standing turned to run. One stumbled face first onto the sidewalk with an arrow sticking out of the back of his head. Michael realized that Red Tara stood next to him, bow in hand as she nocked another arrow into place. The last goon spun backwards onto his back when a black dervish with steel claws bounded out from the corner of Denny Hall and slashed his throat, separating his head from his shoulders. The goon’s head rolled down the sidewalk to stop at Michael’s feet. Back arched, fur standing on end, Margarita walked up to Michael and rubbed her head on his leg. Students gathered around the battlefield and stared at the bodies in stunned silence.


Michael stood frozen in shock. Holding her long bow at the ready, Red Tara grabbed Michael’s arm with one of her extra hands and shook him to break him out of his stupor. “Snap out of it!” she ordered. “Take the magic stick. This would be a good time for us to leave.”

Michael mumbled something about his books and lecture notes strewn across the lawn.

“Never mind that!” Red Tara insisted. “We have more important matters at hand.”

Holding Michael’s arm she dragged him down the sidewalk away from Denny Hall. Heading back toward Michael’s office, a line of Deportation Police strung across Red Square blocked their unfettered retreat to the Suzzallo Library. The espresso cart lay broken and smashed by the steps to the library and the bullet riddled body of the barista lay in a pool of blood on the red brick.

“Ah, fuck!” Michael exclaimed. Running his fingers through the blood on his face, he drew red lines of blood across his forehead and chin. Screaming his best impersonation of a war cry recalled from any number of old John Wayne movies, he lowered the magic harpoon at the goons and charged. Three goons to his left toppled to the red brick, dead. He turned to face two goons to his right, but as he pointed the harpoon an arrow pierced one goon’s head and planted itself in another’s skull. They fell to the pavement dead. The black steel-clawed dervish Black Tara separated the heads from their bodies of the last two goons standing.

“Run!” Red Tara commanded, and they sprinted around the library to the door leading to the subbasement and to Michael’s office.

Michael slammed his office door shut and bolted the lock, then pushed a file cabinet against the door.

“How long can we hold out?” Michael asked. “What if they decide to come after us?”

“We are safe here in this space,” Red Tara replied. “No extra precautions are necessary.”

“How is that?” Michael asked.

“We exist in a different dimension here in this space. The ghouls could break down your door and enter this place, yet they would not be able to see us.”

“Why can’t we exist in a different dimension in the real world? A different dimension without Deportation Police and cannibals and witches?”

“That kind of power does not exist. This is the real world. Unfortunately the real world is more complex than you might like.”

“Why didn’t I take that tenure track offer at Beuhler College?” Michael asked, just for the sake of asking.

“What is a Beuhler College?”

“A little Baptist College down in Southern California. They offered me a tenure track appointment for chrissakes.”

“That was not meant to be,” Red Tara replied.

“At least we have a magic harpoon again. That was some nifty work with that bow,” Michael said. “How did you ever learn to be so good with a bow and arrow?”

“There is nothing to learn.” Red Tara gave Michael a puzzled look. “Firing a bow comes as easy to me as seducing a man. That is what I am.”

With one hand she took the bow off her shoulder and placed it next to the door. Another hand swept books and papers off Michael’s desk. A third hand took hold of Michael’s belt and pulled him to her. She lay back onto the top of the desk. Her fourth hand pulled Michael down on top of her. She kissed him. Her tongue slid into his mouth. Then all four hands removed Michael’s clothing. Michael’s hands found Red Tara’s breasts. Margarita curled up on her sleeping mat next to the desk and hissed.


Hamatsa and Kinqalatlala stood in the Department of Homeland Security’s fortified control room on Level C of the basement of the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building in downtown Seattle, replaying security video from the U Dub, watching Michael and Red Tara take out a platoon of his Deportation Police on Red Square.

“Two of the Taras have answered Blue Tara’s call,” Kinqalatlala said.

“I have a large number of laxsa at my service,” Hamatsa replied, clearly unhappy with what he watched. “But their numbers are not inexhaustible. This is not our only fight. We are stretched thin by the resistance. It is imperative that the Taras be stopped. Whatever the cost.”

“Yes master,” Kinqalatlala replied.

“If more Taras join the resistance our position here will become precarious. We have control of the city police, and once we capture the mayor we will control the city government. We need to secure the campus and root the Taras out of their hiding places. I’m putting you in charge of this operation,” Hamatsa told Kinqalatlala. “Use whatever force is necessary. Start blowing up buildings if that’s what it takes!” Hamatsa yelled at his lieutenant. “I want the man with the parrot brought to me in chains! Is that clear?”

“Yes master.”

“Why are you still standing here?”

Kinqalatlala saluted, turned, and ran out the door.


When Michael regained consciousness he found himself sitting naked in his office chair. Red Tara stood on one leg in front of him, smiling. Her right foot rested against her left knee. She stood completely naked. Michael stared at her brilliant red body, then jumped out of his chair and threw his clothes on as quickly as he could.

“Shouldn’t you get dressed? Or something?” he asked, his face flushed. Not moving, Red Tara continued to smile at him.

Michael panicked, recalling the events of the afternoon. “What time is it?” he wondered aloud. “Oh God! I need to call Charlie. Find out what’s going on.”

Michael picked up his desk phone off the floor. The line was dead. He slammed the receiver down and fumbled for his cell phone in his jacket pocket. A big red ball where the signal strength bars should be. No cell phone service. He flipped his computer on. No internet service. “Well, that’s just great!” he exclaimed. “What do we do now?

“We wait,” Red Tara replied. “Things will happen when they are meant to happen. Our numbers are too small. We can not take on the forces of the Winalagalis just by ourselves. We need help from the other Taras.”

“So we just sit here?” Michael replied.

“We are safe here. We wait for Blue Tara and your friends. We wait for the other Taras.”

“I’m not good at just sitting and waiting.”

“Neither am I,” Red Tara said. She stepped up to Michael and put two arms over his shoulders. She pulled him to her, sticking her breasts in his chest. She licked his face and his lips. One of her other two hands undid his belt while another slid into his pants. Michael felt his body tense.

“Just relax,” Red Tara said. “You have nothing to fear from me.”

“I’m trying to relax,” Michael tried to reply, as Red Tara’s tongue slipped between his lips and found his tongue. His body tingled as if from an electric shock wherever Red Tara’s body touched his. He lost all sense of touch and feel. He felt his body melting into Red Tara’s body. Finally he lost consciousness.

Part Two

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jean pull the 45 Smith and Wesson out of her holster. She pointed the pistol at Hamatsa and pulled the trigger. “Go to Hell!” Jean screamed. A huge red hole appeared in the center of his forehead before I heard the gunshot. The impact flung him backwards against the wall of the longhouse, where he crumpled to the ground.

The shaman appeared out of the darkness of the longhouse holding a magic harpoon and pointed it at Jean. I screamed, “Watch out!” I threw myself at Jean to try to knock her out of the way of the death stick. I was too late. Jean dropped her pistol as she collapsed to the ground. I screamed again as I grabbed the pistol off the ground and swung around to fire at the shaman. The bullet struck his chest and knocked him back onto the ground, the magic harpoon flying out of his hands and bouncing off the wall.

Surrounded by the grizzly bear dancers and the men with the lances, Kinqalatlala walked up to me. I pointed the pistol at her chest. She put a hand on my shoulder and pulled me to her until the nozzle of the 45 pressed against her naked skin.

“Pull the trigger,” she told me calmly. I couldn’t speak. Her penetrating black eyes hypnotized me. “Pull the trigger,” she repeated. “Know the power of death.” I felt my will succumbing to hers. My finger tightened on the trigger.

“Do not shoot her!” I had completely forgotten Blue Tara during the melee. “Do not act impulsively,” she commanded. “Do as I say.”

“Shoot me,” Kinqalatlala said. “To gain power in the realm of the dead you must know death. Shoot me.”

“No!” Blue Tara demanded. “She is not the one to die.”

“Then who is?” I asked. The pistol wavered in my hand. “They killed Jean!” I screamed. Tears poured down my cheeks as I waved the pistol at Kinqalatlala’s head. “What am I supposed to do?” I cried.

Blue Tara stepped to my side. “You must enter the realm of the spirits to search for the tlogwe, the ultimate treasure the spirits have to give to those brave enough to enter their realm.”

“But how do I do that?” I pleaded. I stuck the nozzle of the pistol against Kinqalatlala’s temple. “Do I take her life?”

“No!” Blue Tara insisted. “To enter the realm of the spirits you must know death.” She placed her hand on my back. “You must die.” I stared at Blue Tara, incredulous.

“Then die it shall be,” Kinqalatlala said. She raised her hand to her face and watched her fingers turn into a narrow blade of steel. I tried to pull the trigger of the pistol, but my muscles froze in fear. Kinqalatlala thrust the steel blade that was her hand into my chest. Excruciating pain overwhelmed my senses. I could feel blood pouring down my legs. My blood. It seemed to me that Kinqalatlala put her arm around my neck and pulled me to her. Her lips touched my lips and her tongue touched my tongue. I had no sensation of touch or feel. My legs gave out and I blacked out before I hit the ground. Before I completely lost consciousness I thought I heard Blue Tara screech.


Jean beat on the bottom of the trap door to Charlie’s basement with a stick for about ten minutes before Charlie finally pulled the door open, and helped Jean and Blue Tara up the ladder. Dirt and mud coated Jean’s tattered clothing and caked Blue Tara.

“What happened. Where’s your friend? Where’s my 45?” Charlie asked, staring at the empty holster on Jean’s hip.

“He’s dead!” Jean blurted out.

“What?” Charlie asked, stunned. “My God, woman. What happened?”

“Kinqalatlala stabbed him with her hand. She killed him!”

“You’re kidding? With her hand?”

“She stuck her hand through his chest. I saw it. Her hand turned into a steel blade.”

“Where is your friend. . . Where is the body?” Charlie asked hesitantly.

“We found the old Indian village. Hamatsa burned Kinqalatlala to death. Then brought her back to life. To demonstrate his powers. I shot Hamatsa.”

“Good Lord, woman. This sounds like you were in the middle of an Indian war. So where is your friend. . . friend’s body?”

“He’s still in the village. His body is still in the village. I was almost killed by a magic harpoon, but he pushed me out of the way at the last moment and saved my life. I thought we were all dead.”

“What village?” Charlie asked. “Where is this village you’re talking about?”

“The old Indian village under the city,” Jean replied.

“There’s an old Indian village under the city?” Charlie looked incredulous.

“It really exists. It’s not just ruins. We were there. I saw it.”

“The village of the ancients exists in a different time and space,” Blue Tara said. “We traveled through time and space to get there, and I bent time and space to get us back to you.”

“Why didn’t you bring your friend back with you?” Charlie asked. “His body anyway?” Charlie stared at Blue Tara’s naked mud caked body. “You sure you don’t want a towel or robe or something to wear?” Blue Tara shook her head.

“I could not bring your friend back with us. His path lies with the spirit realm. He must search for the tlogwe, the gift of ultimate power. That is our only hope to overcome the Winalagalis.”

“So he’s not dead?” Jean asked, grabbing Blue Tara’s arm.

“Yes, your friend is dead. He has entered the spirit world. He must complete his quest for the tlogwe.”

“Why didn’t you bring him back?” Charlie asked.

“If I had brought him back with us all would be lost. We would have no hope of defeating the forces of the Winalagalis, the forces of evil.”

“You let him die!” Jean screamed, pounding her fists on Blue Tara’s chest. “You could have save him!” Charlie grabbed Jean’s shoulders and pulled her back. She threw her arms around Charlie and buried her face in his chest, sobbing. “She wanted him to die,” she blurted out.

“I had no choice,” Blue Tara replied. “We had no choice. It was necessary for your friend to die so he could commence his quest for the tlogwe.”

“You could have saved him! We need to go back,” Jean cried to Charlie. “We need to save him!”

“We will, young lady. We will,” Charlie replied. “But first we need to get you cleaned up and we need to hook you up with that fellow who teaches at the U Dub. We need to figure out how we’re going to save your friend. A whole lot of shit has come down here in town since you left on your little expedition.”

“What’s going on?” Jean asked.

“The Deportation Police are trying to take over the city. They’ve nationalized the city police and tried to arrest the mayor. He’s in hiding, trying to organize a resistance.”

“Oh no!” Can we call Michael at the U Dub?”

“Phones are down. No cell phone service. Even the Internet’s down.”

“We will return,” Blue Tara told Charlie, and then she screeched. When Jean opened her eyes she found herself on the floor of Michael’s office with her hands protecting her ears, staring at the face of Michael’s cat, Black Tara, Margarita, who walked up to Jean and licked her face.

“Am I ever glad to see you,” Michael exclaimed, as he helped Jean to her feet. “You wouldn’t believe what’s happened. Say, where’s your boyfriend?” Michael looked up and down Jean’s tattered and soiled clothing. “Jesus H. Christ!. You look like shit.”


This seemed an unusual way to be dead. When I opened my eyes I found myself sprawled out on a cedar bark mat outside the longhouse. The longhouse sat just below the tree line above the mud flats at the mouth of the Duwamish River, where the river emptied into Elliott Bay. I could hear the surf lapping against the rocks on the beach. Wisps of fog rolling off the bay flowed up to the longhouse and seemed to bring the double headed serpent painted on the front wall to life, as if it were blowing smoke out its nostrils. Up the river to the south Mt. Rainier glowed red in the light of the rising sun. With no pollution in the sky it seemed I could reach out and touch the snow-capped volcano, even though I knew the mountain stood thirty miles away. Seattleites call Mt. Rainier ‘the mountain’, even though any number of other mountains can be seen from the city.

Kinqalatlala stepped up to me and the shadow of her tall, dark, svelte, naked body fell over my face. I struggled to try to get to my feet, but my muscles refused to respond to my brain. I realized if I was already dead she couldn’t kill me again. She reached down and took my hands and pulled me to my feet. I was relieved to see normal hands and not steel blades. I tore my shirt open and gingerly felt my chest. I expected to see a hole where Kinqalatlala had stabbed me. I found nothing. Not even a scratch mark.

“Am I dead?” I asked her.

“Yes, you are dead,” she replied.

“Then are you dead?” I asked, confused.

“Death is a relative state of existence,” she replied. I didn’t have a clue what that meant.

“What the hell does that mean?” I responded.

“Hell has nothing to do with this state of existence. Hell is a possible destination, if you are not careful. You have begun your journey into the spirit world. I know that Blue Tara sent you on a quest. A quest for the tlogwe.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I lied.

Kinqalatlala stepped up to me and put her arms over my shoulders. Her dark naked skin smelled of cedar smoke. She ran a hand through my hair and traced the outline of my lips with the forefinger of her other hand. She pulled me to her, her breasts sticking in my chest.

“Don’t spirits ever wear clothes?” I asked.

“I am not of the spirit world.”

“What are you?”

“I am your heart’s desire,” she said, placing her hand on my chest. “I am your guide for your journey through the spirit world.”

“You killed me,” I replied. “And now you want to help me? You are a slave to Hamatsa.”

“It was necessary for you to die, so you could begin your journey. Why do you think that witch Blue Tara failed to save you?”

“What? Blue Tara failed to save me? What do you mean?”

“She let you die. She allowed me to kill you. She wished me to kill you.”

Kinqalatlala’s tongue traced my lips. She forced her tongue between my lips and pushed it against my tongue. I grabbed her arms and pushed her back away for me. I ran to the longhouse and looked inside.

“Where are Jean and Blue Tara? Are they dead?”

“Your friends reside in the world outside this one. They abandoned you to me.”

“No they didn’t! If they left Blue Tara had a reason. Why are you here? If you killed me already, you can’t kill me again. Can you?”

“As I said, I am your guide through the spirit world. I can help you. Or I can stop you. I can pleasure you.” She took my hands in hers.

“Why do I need your help? And why would you help me? Is Hamatsa trying to trick me to confuse and mislead me?”

“It is true I am Hamatsa’s slave in the world outside this one. But his powers are not unlimited. And I do not intend to remain his slave forever. By helping you, you can help me break free of his domination.”

You killed me!” I exclaimed. “And you want me to help you?”

“Killing you was necessary,” she replied. “Killing you was what Blue Tara wanted.”

“What? Bullshit!” I yelled. “You’re lying to me!”

“Your only hope for finding the tlogwe is here in the realm of the spirit world.”

“You want the tlogwe for yourself. You and Hamatsa!”

“The tlogwe can only be bestowed on the one the Tlogwala deems worthy enough to receive it.”

“The Tlogwala? What is that?”

“Not what. The Tlogwala is the one who holds the secrets to the tlogwe. Blue Tara knew that I could assist you to find your way to the Tlogwala. That is why she didn’t prevent me from killing you.”

“So you and Blue Tara are working together? Are you a Tara?”

“We are working to the same end.”

“Which is?”

“To unleash the power of the tlogwe. To stop the Winalagalis.

“You’re a double agent!”

“I do not understand those words,” Kinqalatlala replied. “I am working to break the hold that Hamatsa has over me. And I am willing to help you break the hold that Hamatsa has over you.”

“If I am dead, what kind of hold can he possibly have over me?”

“The Water of Life.”

“Are you one of the Taras?” I asked again.

“I am not one of the Taras.”

“But you are a witch.”

“I have special abilities and special magic. If that makes me a witch, then I am a witch.”

“I don’t understand. You’re not one of the Taras, but you want to help Blue Tara? By killing me. By killing Jean.”

“I did not kill your friend.”

“I saw her die by the magic harpoon.”

“That was not my doing.”

“Where is she? Where is Blue Tara?”

“I have already told you that they are not in this realm of the spirit world.”

“Is Jean not dead?” I asked, begging for the answer I wanted to hear.

“I can not tell you what I do not know.”

“She is alive?”

“We must begin our journey.”

I felt euphoric. If Blue Tara did her time and space bend trick to get them out of harm’s way, I knew it would be only a matter of time before they came back to rescue me, with the help of the other Taras. And I knew that with Blue Tara time was relative and fluid.

“How do I know you and Hamatsa aren’t setting me up? That you aren’t trying to trick me?”

“You don’t’ know. It is in your best interest to trust me and let me help you. I have already explained my situation. And what I can do for you. And what I expect you to do for me.”

Kinqalatlala put one hand on the back of my head and pulled me to her, kissing me. She ripped my shirt open with her other hand and slid the hand into my pants. My hands found her breasts and I kissed her back. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but I couldn’t help myself. I was bewitched. Chalk this up to research, I told myself.

Part Three

“I don’t understand how we’re supposed to fight ghouls like Hamatsa and Kinqalatlala that can exist in two realities at the same time,” Michael said. “You saw them in the ancient village. Yet we’ve seen them in this world.”

“I shot Hamatsa,” Jean replied. “I practically blew the top of his head off with Charlie’s 45. He must be dead.”

“Hamatsa’s powers are great,” Blue Tara said. “With the Water of Life he can give life to the dead. With such power the boundary between life and death is fluid. He has mastered the magic to travel between the spirit world and the world of men,” Blue Tara said.

“And the world of women,” Jean added.

“I don’t know about anyone else,” Blue Tara added, “but I am starved.” She screeched to bend time and space. Jean and Michael found themselves rolling on the floor of the Ballard apartment in the St. Charles Hotel with their hands pressed against their ears. Margarita growled at Aboo, the blue and gold macaw, Lord Garuda, who sat perched on Princess Tara’s stand.

“You need to buy us pizza,” Blue Tara told Michael, as she walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge. “Yes, beer.” She reached in and grabbed a can of Rainier.

“While you’re getting the pizza I’m going to jump in the shower and see if I can find some clean clothes to wear,” Jean said.

“Maybe we shower together?” Blue Tara suggested.

“Maybe you drink your beer. I’ll take a shower. You can shower after I’m done if you want. On second thought, I’ll take a beer into the shower with me," Jean added.

Over pizza and beer and wine Jean filled Michael in on the events at the longhouse.

“You were standing at the original site of Seattle long before Seattle as ever established,” Michael said. “How is that possible? You say you were working your way underground through the ruins of old Seattle, and suddenly find yourselves in another time?”

“Your concepts of time and space are too rigid,” Blue Tara replied. “Time is not linear in my world.”

“You bent time and space to get back to Charlie’s, right?”

“Yes, that is right.”

“So once we work up a rescue plan you can bend us through time and space back to that place? Save us the hassle of going through all the tunnels and basements.”

“Unfortunately, I can not,” Blue Tara replied.

“But why not?”

“It is because time is fluid, that I can not know precisely what point in time we might arrive at. I could be a thousand of your years off, and we could be lost in time and space.”

Michael glanced at Blue Tara. “I’m a big science fiction fan, you know.”

“We will need to go through the tunnels below the city again, as we did before, and retrace our route to the ancient village.”

“But if he’s dead, what can we do? Without the Water of Life I mean. Will we even be able to see him? Or will he just be a ghost?”

“I do not know the answers to your questions. We must search for the tlogwe. We may find your friend and possibly the answers to your questions. Kurukulla will come with us,” Blue Tara said, nodding at Red Tara. “Aboo will remain here to await the other Taras.”

“Margarita will come with us too,” Michael added, as the cat chewed a slice of pizza underneath the dining table. “We may need a good mouser.”


Hamatsa, his long stringy black hair tucked under a black leather fedora and his scalloped yellow skin hidden under a black leather frock coat, and Kinqalatlala, her dark-skinned svelte athletic body accentuated by skin tight leather pants and a coat, stood on the sidewalk on old Ballard Avenue across the street from the St. Charles Hotel, looking up at the lighted bay window in the northwest corner on the upper floor.

“You explained your situation to the man with the parrot?” Hamatsa asked Kinqalatlala.

“Yes master,” she replied. “I explained how I wanted his help to break free of your hold on me.”

“And he believed you?”

“I am very convincing, master. He is weak. Men are weak.” She glanced up at Hamatsa’s fiery red eyes burning under the black leather fedora. “Men of this world are weak,” she clarified.

“Once he leads you to the tlogwe you can dispose of him once and for all. Just remember. I want to see his head mounted on the wall at Control. Is that clear?”

“Yes master.”

“Do you believe he will lead the Taras into the trap we have set for them?”

“I believe he will do whatever I want him to do,” Kinqalatlala replied.

“How can you be so certain?”

“All I need to do is show him these,” Kinqalatlala replied, pulling her coat open to show she wore nothing underneath.

“Then we will proceed with our plans. Once we eliminate the Taras, and once we eliminate those fools who fall under their spell, we will establish a seat of power here in Seattle. A seat of power to rival that of the Winalagalis himself.”

“Yes my master.”

“It is time to summon Bokwus and the Gagit.”

“Bokwus? The chief of the dead?”

“Do not make me repeat myself.”

“The Gagit I understand. Because of Lord Garuda’s power, the furies can not challenge the Taras. And although he can fly, the Gagit is not a furie. But Bokwus desires to build his own empire of the dead. Is it wise to unleash his power?”

“I will deal with Bokwus at a time and place of my choosing. But for now he is useful to me. His army of the dead can not be killed. The Taras can not fight ghosts. I will use his power to wipe out the Taras once and for all, and then I will turn his power against the Winalagalis. What happens after that will be of no concern to me.”

“You are wise, my master.”

Hamatsa reached under Kinqalatlala’s coat and grabbed one of her breasts. “Remember who you serve,” he commanded. “Fail me and I will cut these off and feed them to the furies. I will cut your heart out and feast on it myself!”

Margarita jumped to her feet underneath the dining table and raced across the apartment floor to the bay window. Stretching herself up to her full length, she growled and pawed at the blinds. Blue Tara slammed her beer on the table and jumped out of her chair. “Something is wrong,” she said. She stepped to the window and peered through the blinds, her hand gripping her battle axe.


As I struggled to put my clothes back on I asked Kinqalatlala, “Where do we go from here? I’m guessing the tlogwe is not going to come to me, so we’ll. . . I’ll need to go and find it.”

“You are correct. The tlogwe will not come to you. You must seek the tlogwala, the keeper of the treasure.”

“And where do I find the tlogwala? How do I even know where to look?”

“You are already on the correct path. You are in the spirit world. I can not tell you where to find the tlogwala because if I knew that I would seek him out myself.”

“Well, that’s not a lot of help. And I’m guessing the spirit world is just as big as the real world. If not bigger? Only without cars.”

“The spirit world is just as real as your world. Your standing next to me talking to me should convince you of that. Do not make the mistake of denigrating that which you do not understand. It could cost you your eternal soul.”

“So, if I’m dead. . . “ I found myself staring into Kinqalatlala’s hypnotic black eyes, like black holes into her consciousness. “If I’m a ghost, then can I just dispense with walking around this reality and searching for something I have no clue about? Can’t I just levitate? Or mind meld? Or do whatever it is that Blue Tara does to bend time and space?”

“You can not change your reality and assume magic you do not possess. The spirit world is just as real as your world. And is governed by the same laws of nature. The sky is up. The world is down,” Kinqalatlala said, stamping her foot on the ground. “A rock dropped will fall down, not up.” She picked up a rock off the ground and dropped it on my foot.

“Ouch!” I cried. “No, wait. How is that possible? I’m dead. Or am I?”

“You have a narrow conception of death,” she replied.

“Death is simply the absence of existence. You are dead now to your world, but you are very much alive to the spirit world. Someday, with my help, you may be able to master the magic required to travel between these two worlds. Without my help, you may find yourself forever lost in the spirit world, or worse. Forever lost.”

“Will I get hungry in the spirit world? Or thirsty?” I looked up and down Kinqalatlala’s naked body. At least I’m not dead to women, I thought to myself.

“You waste time concerning yourself with trivial matters when you should be searching for the tlogwe.”

“See, there you go again. I don’t have a clue whether to go east, west, north, or south. Should I go into the forest? Or should I go out to sea? I’m not going to just charge off like a chicken without a head.”

“Why would a chicken charge off without a head?”

I looked back into Kinqalatlala’s mournful eyes. “Did you just make a joke?” She looked back at me quizzically. “It’s a figure of speech. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“You were a person who studied your world and your history, is that correct?” I nodded. “Then apply the same principles to this world. You face a problem. You need to solve it.”

“But when I study the history of my world I have books and documents that give me answers. I don’t see a library here,” I said, as a waved my hand toward the longhouse. “Maybe I’ll just sit here and wait for the Taras to rescue me.”

“Then you are a fool. You would have a long wait. The Taras, as powerful as they are, have no powers in this world.”

“So you say, but I’m not so sure. You might just be saying that so I don’t sit here and wait for them to rescue me.”

“I have no reason to lie to you. And every reason to help you.”

“Then help me by telling me how to start my journey. Tell me which way to go. Tell me how far to go.”

“You stand on a sacred ground, home to the ancestors who created this place. Possibly your journey is shorter than you realize.”

Damn. Kinqalatlala would make a great poker player, I thought to myself. “Michael said there was an ancient Indian burial ground under the city. Is that what you mean?”

“You are in the world of the dead. This entire world is a burial ground.”

I walked up to the longhouse and inspected the double-headed serpent painted on the front wall. Then I noticed the totem standing in front of the building. The furies. Qoaxqoaxual. Hoxhok. Gelogudzayae. Nenstalit. I rubbed the cedar wood with my hands.

“Of course,” I said. “The tlogwala is a bird. The ancients worshiped birds. The great raven. The giant crane. The fierce condors. I’m looking for a bird.”

“See. Your task is not so difficult as you might think.”

“But I need a bird to find a bird. I need the Taras. I need Princess Tara and Garuda.”

“As I have told you, the Taras can not help you here in the spirit world. They have no powers in the world of the dead.”

“Then help me get back to my world. It seems you possess the magic to travel between the worlds of the living and the dead. Get me back to my world. Join with me and the Taras. We can fight Hamatsa together.”

“Only Hamatsa has the power to get you back to your world. Or possibly the tlogwala. I do not possess that magic.”

“Then what good are you to me?” I asked.

“If you want to find a bird, you need to get up into the sky where birds can be found,” Kinqalatlala replied.

“In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t have any wings.”

“Neither did the furies, at first.”

“Yes, but they found a cliff of crystal quartz, which turned them into birds. And then they couldn’t turn themselves back into people. They had to make a bargain with the devil.”

“I saved them from obliteration,” a voice said from the doorway into the longhouse. “The devil had nothing to do with it. I saved their lives.”

I spun around. I recognized Hamatsa’s voice immediately. He stepped out of the doorway, clad in black boots, black leather pants, a long black leather frock coat, a black leather fedora, and black leather gloves. The black leather accentuated his pallid yellow face and glowing red eyes. I stumbled backwards away from him as he stepped forward.

“You enslaved the furies,” I said. “You didn’t save them. You gave them a fate worse than death. You turned them into cannibals, just like you.”

“I gave them immortality. Eternal life. I can do the same for you. I can give you the Water of Life and send you back to your world. Or I can obliterate your very existence.”

“And turn me into your slave? Just like her,” I replied, pointing at Kinqalatlala. “As for turning me into a cannibal. No thanks. I’m a vegetarian.”

“You found my slave pleasurable, did you not?” Hamatsa said. I stared at Kinqalatlala in surprise. Her face remained expressionless. Did Hamatsa watch us make love?

“You can enjoy her pleasures whenever you wish, if you help me. I can make her your slave.”

I began to think my former life of celibacy didn’t seem so bad. “She bewitched me,” I replied, knowing that was a lame excuse. “I have no interest in helping you, and a lot of interest in stopping you. And I have no interest in a sex slave,” I added, glancing at Kinqalatlala’s breasts.

“Then I have no choice but to obliterate you,” Hamatsa replied.

“I take it you make up for your lack of intelligence with your good looks?” I told Hamatsa.

“Insolent fool!” Hamatsa yelled. He struck me across my face with his gloved fist and knocked me backwards into Kinqalatlala’s arms.

This being dead thing just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, I thought to myself as I scrambled to my feet, trying to rub the pain out of my chin with my hand.

End of Chapter Three

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Book Two of The Princess Tara Chronicles, The Princess Witch, Chapter Two

Coming This Summer

Chapter Two
Part One

The old lady slowly made her way down the sidewalk along Ballard Avenue, couple blocks short of the old Ballard City Hall bell tower, a salute to the once free city of Ballard. She walked slowly, aided by a cane. One halting step after another. Short, severely bent over, she appeared so frail it seemed a good gust of wind might blow her over. Her white bushy bouffant hair stuck out in every direction giving one to wonder how she managed to stand up at all to the weight of such a massive hairdo. White boots and white pants matched her hair and sandwiched her black coat. She held a long black flight feather in her free hand.

As she approached an intersection a good Samaritan passing by stopped to ask if she would like her help to cross the street.

“Why thank you, young lady,” the old woman said, bending up to look at the young woman. “That would be so nice of you,” she said in a voice so soft the young woman could barely hear her. The young woman reached out to take the old lady’s arm. The old lady touched the young woman with her black feather. Just like that, where a good Samaritan had stood reaching out to take the old lady’s arm, the young woman vanished. In her place a large black crow danced a circle on the pavement in front of the old lady, cawed wildly, and took flight, flying over the adjacent building and out of sight.

“Mind your own business honey,” the old lady cautioned, too late to help the young woman.

The old lady hobbled across the street only to find a huge puddle of rainwater blocking the sidewalk thanks to a clogged storm drain. She halted and looked indecisively up and down the sidewalk. A middle aged man walked up behind her and asked the old lady if she needed help the negotiate the puddle.

“Thank you young man,” she said.

“You flatter me,” the man responded. “I’m not that young anymore.” He reached out to take her arm. She touched him with her black feather. Just like that, the man disappeared. A mallard duck appeared in the puddle, paddling circles in the water. A homeless man who had crouched in a nearby doorway for shelter from a rain squall screamed and ran away down the sidewalk.


Jean stopped by my apartment after she closed her coffee shop, not long after Michael and I returned from our trip to Charlie’s Bird Store. She looked delectable in her tight black jeans and white cashmere sweater. I thought to myself that Jean wore cashmere well.

“The strangest things have been happening here in Ballard today,” she blurted out soon as I opened the door.

“I’m happy to see you too,” I replied with a grin as I bent over to kiss her. “Come in and have some pizza,” I told her. “There’s someone you need to meet.”

Jean walked into the kitchen with me. “Oh. My. God! She exclaimed. Her face froze in shock as she stared at Red Tara, sitting at the dining table with Blue Tara and Michael, feasting on pizza and beer, with Margarita at Michael’s feet chewing on a slice of pizza as well. By now I had the pizza place across the street trained to have a couple of pizzas ready for me every day.

Jean could not stop staring at Red Tara. Which is understandable because I mostly couldn’t stop staring at Red Tara, even with a totally naked crystalline blue skinned Amazon warrior goddess with a battle axe sitting next to her.

“Red Tara saved my butt at the U Dub,” Michael said. “She also appears as a red macaw, which for some inexplicable reason is called a greenwing macaw.”

“That’s because they have green feathers on their wings,” Jean replied.

“Only certain people can see Red Tara for who she is,” I added. “Michael told me that the students on campus could only see the red parrot, and not the red four-armed goddess that we are priviledged to see.”

“What happened that caused her to need to save your butt?” Jean asked Michael.

“One word. Kinqalatlala.” Michael replied. “Oh, and the lalenox. Two words, I guess.”

“Lalenox?” Jean asked with a puzzled expression on her face.

“Zombies who kill people just by touching them.”

“Which is why I’m here,” Jean said.

“What is why?” I asked.

“There’s been the strangest goings on here in Ballard today. People are disappearing. One of my customers said some homeless guy was screaming about an old lady who turned a man into a duck just by touching him with a feather.”

“Oh shit,” Michael said.

“Yes?” I was almost afraid to ask.

“Sounds a lot like a hadaho,” Michael replied. “A powerful witch that can transform people into birds and other animals.”

“Just terrific,” I said. “First Kinqalatlala. Now this. They’re coming after us.”

“There’s more,” Michael replied. “Hadahos can also transform stone and statues into animate beings as well. They can create their own zombies.”

“Why are they coming after us now?” Jean asked, as she grabbed a beer out of the fridge and joined us at the dining table.

Red Tara finally spoke. “They are not coming for you,” she said. “Not yet. They are creating chaos. They want to sow fear. Keep us off balance. We need to keep our focus on our plan to defeat Hamatsa.”

“Which is?” Jean asked.

“You must enter the city of the dead and find the tlogwe.”

“Wait. What? I must enter the city of the dead?” Jean responded, perplexed. “What city of the dead? And why me? And I thought nothing would surprise me anymore.”

“Not you Jean,” I replied. “She means me. She’s talking about underground Seattle. The Taras seem to believe the source of ultimate power to defeat Hamatsa is buried below old Seattle, down in Pioneer Square.”

Jean stared at Red Tara and Blue Tara for several moments. “Can’t we get you some clothes?” she finally asked. “All this nudity is disconcerting. Are all the Taras naked?”

“You know,” I replied. “I said something along those same lines earlier. But apparently parrots have feathers to cover themselves with.”

“But they’re not wearing feathers now, are they?”

“Clothes just get in the way during battle,” Blue Tara interjected. “You should try our way sometime,” she said to Jean. Jean’s face turned red as a beet.

“I’m not really interested in joining a nudist colony,” she replied. “And Seattle’s just too damn cold and damp to go around naked.” Jean looked at me. “This must be a male wet dream,” she smirked. I could feel my face flush. “I knew it!” she exclaimed. “You guys love this.”

“Not to change the subject or anything,” I responded, trying exactly to change the subject, “but we need to focus on the matters at hand. Shouldn’t we be out looking for this old lady that Jean’s talking about? Especially since she’s right here in Ballard?”

“It would be pointless,” Red Tara replied. “These ghouls can change their shape at will. The hadaho most likely already has taken a new form. No. We need to keep our focus on finding the tlogwe.”

“What’s a tlogwe?” Jean asked.

“The source of ultimate power,” I replied. “Given by the spirits to those brave enough to enter their realm.”

“That sounds ominous,” Jean said. “And I’m almost afraid to ask. But where is this spirit realm? And who’s going to be dumb enough to take on this mission?” I raised my hand.

Old Seattle was built on a Duwamish Indian burial ground,” Michael replied. “Somewhere under Pioneer Square. And someone who is not me needs to go down there to find it.”

“We went to see Charlie today,” I added. “There may very well be an old smugglers’ tunnel under his shop that will lead us into the buried city.” I took Jean’s hand in mine. “You feel like doing some spelunking with me?” I asked her.

“I will go spelunking with you,” Blue Tara interjected. “What exactly is spelunking?”

“Sure,” Jean replied. “I’m off tomorrow. So yes, I’d love to spend the day with you looking for zombies and monsters in dark and dangerous tunnels. What could possibly go wrong?”

“I will go with you,” Blue Tara stated. “To protect you,” she added, with what I sensed to be an unnecessarily gratuitous tone in her voice.

“Kurukulla will stay with your friend Michael to protect him.”

I shrugged. “I remember reading in history books about a time long long ago when knights errant wandered the land protecting damsels in distress.”

“How quaint,” Blue Tara replied.

“I am beat,” Jean said. “I want to call it an early night.” She looked at me. “I don’t suppose your bedroom door has a lock on it?”

Part Two

The next morning Blue Tara did her time and space bending trick to send Michael, Margarita, and Red Tara back to Michael’s office at the U Dub. We left Aboo, the blue and gold macaw, to guard the apartment. Then Jean and I, along with Princess Tara, hopped into my truck and drove down to Pike Place Market. We arrived early enough, well before the shops opened for the day, before Charlie’s Bird Store opened, so finding a parking spot proved no trouble at all. In fact, I parked directly in front of the original Starbucks. Princess Tara became very animated when she spotted the coffee shop. Jean and I were ready for coffee too, so we walked in with Princess Tara on my shoulder.

I sensed that Princess Tara was ready to disappear half the line in front of us, mostly office drones, if she didn’t get her coffee. Too early yet for the tourist crowd. I asked Jean to order for us while I grabbed a table out front to keep Tara from an unnecessarily precipitous action.

Thankfully Jean came out with three cups of coffee, and set two iced Americanos in front of me. I smiled at her. Without so much as a thank you, Tara ran down my shoulder, hopped onto my lap, and dunked her beak in the coffee.

“I don’t suppose the spirit world offers any lunch amenities?” I joked.

We sat in silence for a few moments drinking our coffee and watching the disparate market vendors setting up their shops for the day. The flower mongers arranged their strikingly beautiful flowers with colors so bright they almost seemed painted. Tee shirt vendors arranged shirts with their Seattle scenes. Deli workers cleaned and filled their display cases. As I looked down the line of stalls, I noticed a frail old lady with a cane gingerly making her way across the cobblestone pavement near the flying fish booth, aiming toward the brass pig. She sported the whitest and wildest crop of hair I had ever seen on any woman. Or man. Then I noticed what appeared to be a long black feather in her hand.

I grabbed Jean’s arm and pointed. “What was that you were saying about an old lady turning people into birds just with the touch of a feather?”

Princess Tara pulled her beak out of the coffee cup and ran back up onto my shoulder. Pinning her eye at the old lady she let out a screech right in my ear that almost burst my eardrum.

The old lady reached the brass pig and touched it with her feather. Imperceptibly at first, the brass pig started to move. It raised its head slowly and then took a halting step forward. People rushing by halted and stared. The old lady turned and pointed her feather directly at us.

The gigantic pig pawed the cobblestones with its hoofs. First one foot. Then the other. No longer frozen in brass, the animal raised its head and looked directly at us. It started snorting. Then it charged.

We sat only a short block away from where the statue had stood. In just moments, before we could react, the animal charged two-thirds of the way down the block directly towards us. The hooves clanked on the cobblestone, getting louder as it got closer. I swear I could see the animal madly snorting as it approached. I jumped out of my chair, knocking over the coffee cups. I grabbed the table thinking to upend it as some sort of barrier.

Gunshots rang out behind us. The front legs of the charging pig buckled and its head plowed into the cobblestones only a few feet from where we stood. Charlie stood next to us with his 45 Smith and Wesson in his hand, pointed at the pig’s head. Princess Tara jumped on the table and screeched. I covered my ears with my hands and closed my eyes from the pain of the noise.

“You folks okay?” I heard Charlie ask. “I saw the princess perched on your shoulder from down the street so I thought I’d join you for coffee. Whatever in hell was that thing, anyway?”

I opened my eyes and looked around the market. There was no sign of the old lady. The pig once again stood frozen in brass unmoving in front of the famous flying fish booth. Three cups of coffee stood unspilled on our table.

“Looks like Tara reset the clock,” Jean said.

“Did you disappear the old lady?” I asked Tara.

“She disappeared herself,” Tara replied. “Her magic is too strong for me.”

“Disappear who?” Charlie asked. “What just happened.

“I think Michael called that a hadaho,” I replied. “A witch that can turn stone and statues into living beings.”

“Maybe,” Charlie said. “But my friends Smith and Wesson can turn them back into stone.” He patted the 45 on his hip.

“You have a permit for that?” I asked.

“Don’t need no stinking permit, son. Washington State allows open carry. At least they used to, before the new regime.” Charlie pointed at our coffee cups. “I sure could use a cup of joe, though,” he said.

“Don’t know about joe,” I replied. “Will an americano do you?” Charlie nodded. I purchased an Americano for Charlie and we headed down the Pike Hill Climb to Charlie’s shop. I stopped momentarily at the brass pig and patted its snout for good luck.

Not having a clue what we might encounter below the streets of Seattle, I brought along a day bag with a couple of flashlights, extra batteries, some rope, a few Cliff Bars, and a couple bottles of water.

For once Princess Tara did not resist entering Charlie’s store. Once inside, Charlie said, “I want you to take my 45.” “Better to be safe than sorry. Only thing is, you have to promise to bring it back to me, or don’t bother coming back at all. Understand, son?”

“We’ve got Blue Tara with us,” I replied. “What do I need a 45 for? It’s been years since I’ve even fired a gun. This isn’t the Wild West.”

“You sure? What would you call that brass pig coming to life and charging you? If I hadn’t shown up when I did. . . “ Charlie pulled the pistol out of its holster. “It’s not rocket science, as they say.”

He showed me the gun. “You’ve got the clip release. Safety. Slide action.” He demonstrated the various functions. “And I’ll give you a couple extra clips to put in your bag.”

“I’ll take the pistol,” Jean said.

“What?” I responded in shock.

“I know how to shoot. My family were big hunters when I was growing up. Spent most weekends during summers at the family cabin practice shooting with my brothers at varmints out in the woods.” Jean took the holster and belt from Charlie. “Better that someone who knows how to use a weapon uses the weapon. Less chance of accidents that way.”

I began to feel rather inadequate, but I knew better than to argue the point with Jean. She put on the belt and holster. Damn, I thought. She looked hot packing heat.

“You sure you don’t want to go down there with us?” I asked Charlie.

“No thanks, boss. I’ve still got the shop to run. And I hate dark confined spaces. And I don’t mind saying, I’m scared of ghosts.” I gave him a look of surprise. “Yes, even me at my age. There’s powers and mysteries in this world that people are better off not messing with. I’ll stay here and watch the door, so at least you know there’s nothing sneaking up behind you. You’ll just need to worry about what’s in front of you. Godspeed, son.”

Charlie dropped a ladder down into the basement through the trap door. Princess Tara spread her wings and jumped off my shoulder. She twirled through the air, creating a pulsating orb of blue light which coalesced into Blue Tara.

“My. Oh. My!” Charlie exclaimed, staring at Blue Tara in all her naked Amazonian glory. “I am so sorely tempted to join you.”

One by one we climbed down the ladder. Blue Tara’s glowing crystalline blue skin bathed the basement in an eerily surreal light, as if we were entering another dimension. Jean and I failed to realize as we stepped toward the darkness before us, we were in fact entering another dimension.


Charlie dropped the trapdoor shut over our heads and I pulled the flashlights out of my pack for Jean and me. At the back of the damp and muddy basement we found a heavy wooden door sealed by a large steel lock.

“This would be your department, Jean,” I said.

“Cover your ears,” she replied. She pulled the pistol out of the holster, aimed at the lock, and fired. The lock exploded in a cloud of metal shards. I hoped that Charlie didn’t hear the gunshot over the din of the birds in his store. I gave the door a kick and it creaked open.

“God I hate that sound,” I said. “Makes it sound like we’re in a horror movie.” I shined the flashlight into the passageway. About six feet high and three feet wide. Looked like a mining tunnel with a line of posts and beams holding up the ceiling and walls of the tunnel. And off we went.

I immediately lost any sense of distance as we made our way toward the ever receding darkness. The tunnel grew larger the farther we walked. Eventually the rock and mud floor turned into broken pavement and cobblestones and we found ourselves walking on one of the old city’s original sidewalks. The tunnel’s walls gave way to jagged stone and rotten timbers.

An open doorway led into what appeared to be another basement. Jean and I shined our flashlights around the room. I stood stunned into silence. This was an historian’s dream come true. Instead of being empty and desolate, furniture filled the room. Mud stained and covered with dirt and cobwebs, but furnished none the less. Chairs. Tables. Even an old tattered sofa tucked in a corner.

“Nice antiques,” Jean finally said.

“Damn,” I replied. “Now I know where I can get furnishings for the St. Charles Hotel. Too bad this isn’t a shopping trip.”

“There’s another door over here,” Jean called out from the back of the room. I pushed the door open and we entered another room, not dark but softly lit by a partially buried skylight in the ceiling. More furniture. Chairs. Reading tables. A couple of tattered settees. Broken hookas. We had stumbled into an opium den.

Blue Tara stuck a pipe into her mouth. “Should you be doing that?” I asked.

“Just checking,” she replied.

“I’m surprised you even know what that is,” I said.

“There are many methods to expand the mind,” she replied. “I will show them to you someday.”

Another door. Another basement room. Jean screamed. I ran up behind her. She stood in the doorway shining her flashlight at a chair in an otherwise empty room.

Someone sat in the chair. Dirty black hair. Pallid scalloped white skin. What appeared to be a tattered canvas bag for a shirt.

“He looks dead,” I observed. Blue Tara walked around the body.

“A lalenox,” she said. “A warrior of the spirit world. We are on the right track.”

“Is he dead?” Jean asked.

“He looks dead,” I replied.

Tara grabbed her battle axe and with one quick blow lopped off its head. The body remained sitting in the chair. “It’s dead now,” Tara said.

“No blood,” I said. “It must already have been dead. Wonder how long it’s been sitting here? And why?”

“A message to those like us who pass,” Tara replied. “And a warning.”

I kicked the chair and the body toppled onto the floor.

“We must continue on,” Tara said.

Another doorway led onto a street, paved with cobblestones. Old sailing ships used cobblestones for ballast. When they docked in Seattle to pick up timber and logs, Seattle’s primary export, the ships dumped the cobblestones on the beach giving Seattle free paving material for its first streets. We looked up and down the street, lined with partly ruined timber store fronts on concrete and stone foundations. I imagined I could hear the sounds of a piano playing in the distance.

“Listen,” I said. “Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?” Jean replied.

“I thought I heard a piano playing.”

“Stop that,” she said. “You’re freaking me out. You’ve watched too many John Wayne movies.”

"Or Twilight Zone episodes," I replied.

We walked down the street for about a block before we found it buried in rubble. Storefront after storefront seemed to be filled with abandoned furnishings.

“This used to be street level before the Great Seattle Fire,” I said. “After the fire, this was all filled in and covered over, and what had been street level became basements for the new city built on top of this.”

“Apparently not all filled in,” Jean replied.

“I never in my life would have imagined how well preserved this would be,” I said. “It’s like walking into a time capsule. Every historian’s dream come true.”

“Why don’t more people know about this?” Jean asked.

“Probably for safety reasons,” I replied, as clouds of dust and rocks rained down on us whenever the ground shook from the traffic over our heads.

With the street blocked by rubble we ducked into another storefront, what appeared to have once been a saloon. A long bar stood against a wall covered by a long busted mirror. Wooden tables and chairs lay broken and scattered across the floor. An antique player piano stood against the back wall. I tapped a couple of the keys and the room filled with discordant sound. “Needs tuning,” I said.

“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” Jean said. “It’s creeping me out. Not sure if we want to be announcing our presence down here.”

“Sorry. Point taken,” I replied.

“This way,” Blue Tara said, standing at an open doorway behind the player piano. We peered through the doorway. Instead of another basement we found a vast cavern which stretched into the darkness beyond the reach of our flashlights.

“How is this possible?” Jean asked.

“We are at the heart of the old city,” Blue Tara replied. “We are about to enter the realm of the ancients that once claimed this place. The realm of the spirit world.”

“Are you talking about the old Indian village?” I asked.

“We are about to enter a place where the laws of your physics and reality no longer apply.”

“Terrific,” I said. “I suppose there’s no turning back?”

“There is no turning back if you ever hope to find the tlogwe. There is no turning back if you ever hope to defeat Hamatsa. Our only hope is to go forward. If we go back all will be lost.”

“I was afraid you were going to say that.”

“Oh come on,” Jean said. “Buck up. Do you think Indiana Jones ever backed out of an adventure. How many historians ever get the chance to relive history?”

“Well, none actually,” I replied.

“So you’ll be the first,” Jean said. “Put your name into the history books for sure.” She put her arms around me and kissed me. Long and hard.

Part Three

We moved on into the cavern. At first total darkness beyond the reach of our flashlights. We seemed to be walking on forest floor. Grass and brush covered small meadows between towering pine trees.

“How is this even possible?” I asked.

“Open your mind,” Blue Tara replied.

I heard the sound of a large gathering of people in the distance. Shouts and cries interspersed with what sounded like chanting.

“We are coming to the village of the ancestors,” Blue Tara said. “Be on your guard.”

Soon we saw the lights of several large bonfires. Billowing flames tossed menacing shadows across the cavern from people dancing around the fires. A magnificent Duwamish longhouse stood before us. The front decorated with a fierce double-headed serpent brilliantly painted in red and black and yellow. A totem, at least twenty feet tall, stood in front of the long house. On the totem four frightening winged ghouls stood on top of each other. The four furies, the giant raven Qoaxqoaxual, who feasted on the eyes of Hamatsa's victims. Hoxhok, the giant crane, who cracked open the skulls of his victims with his great beak and devoured their brains, and the two condors and feathered grizzly bears Gelogudzayae and Nenstalit.

“Turn off your lights,” Blue Tara ordered. “Do what I tell you. And only do what I tell you. Understand?”

“Yes ma’am,” I replied.

We slowly approached the longhouse. No one seemed to take notice of us. Not the dancers. Not the audience. Not even taking notice of a tall naked crystalline blue skinned glowing Amazon witch with a battle axe. Blue Tara motioned us to the back of the assembly and stood with her right foot resting on her left knee. Jean and I sat on a log lying on the ground to watch the ceremony in progress, as if we belonged there.

A cleared piece of ground between the bonfires in front of the longhouse served as a stage. Four men walked onto the clearing. They wore western clothing. Tattered, soiled, and torn. Their faces blackened, eagle feathers covered their hair. Each of the four men carried a menacing lance.

Four other men entered the stage. They wore grizzly bear hides for cloaks and grizzly bear skulls on their heads. They held bear claws in their hands. A solitary figure walked onto the stage behind the grizzly bear dancers. A tall man with long disheveled black hair, he towered over any of the other men on the stage. Scaly pale yellowish skin under a red cedar bark cloak. The flickering light from the bonfires highlighted his gleaming red eyes. I practically swallowed my tongue in surprise.

“Hamatsa!” I exclaimed. Jean grabbed my hand.

“Quiet,” Blue Tara admonished, in a whisper.

I sensed Hamatsa’s burning red eyes staring straight at me. The people sitting around the bonfires took up sticks and commenced beating time on planks they held in their laps. The four grizzly bear dancers lifted Hamatsa on their shoulders and paraded around the square. Once. Twice. A third time. And again. They commenced to chant to the beat of the planks:

“We follow Hamatsa to the ends of the world.”

Then they paraded back the opposite way around the square, chanting:

“Hamatsa made me a warrior.
Hamatsa made me pure.
I destroy life. Hamatsa is a lifemaker.”

The grizzly bear dancers and the men with the lances rushed out into the audience and seized four people, two men and two women, who they dragged onto the stage, screaming and struggling. One of the grizzly bear dancers slashes the throat of one of the prisoners with a razor sharp bear claw, and the man falls to the ground which pools red with his blood. The other three captives immediately stop struggling. Hamatsa walks up to each person, opens his mouth revealing glistening ivory fangs, and rips their necks open. They fall to the ground. After a few moments writhing in pain they lie still. Dead. Hamatsa pulls out a flask from under his cloak and sprinkles a clear liquid over the bodies. The four people on the ground, previously dead, stir and jump onto their feet, their faces wild with fright. Unrestrained, they run into the darkness.

“Water of Life,” I observed.

A solitary man enters the stage and walks up to Hamatsa. A shaman, the man wears deerskin leggings and a chilkat blanket boldly embroidered with a double-headed serpent. He wears a crown of red cedar bark and holds a rattle carved in the shape of a serpent’s head. The man takes handfuls of eagle feathers out of a bucket filled with eagle feathers and tosses them over Hamatsa’s head. Hamatsa begins to dance. First slowly. Then frenetically. He begins his dance crouched down, then slowly raises his body until he is dancing standing straight up.

The shaman swings and shakes his rattle in wide circles over his head for about ten minutes while the assembly beats time on the planks on their laps, crying:

“Wai, hai, hai!”

Then the shaman signals the assembly to stop beating their planks. Deep silence grips the scene. Silence so deep it seems I can hear hearts beating. Hamatsa begins to chant the cannibal song:

“Ham ham amai, ham ham amai, hamai, hamaima, mamai, hamai hamamai.
Ham hamam ham am ham am amai hamei hamamai.
Ham ham amai
Ham ham amai
Ham ham amai
Ham ham amai.”

The shaman steps to the front of the stage and cries out:

“Great is the fury of this great supernatural being, Hamatsa. He will carry men on his arms and torment them. He will devour skin and bones, crushing flesh and bone with his teeth.”

A loud murmur breaks out from the assembly as the dancers step to the side of the stage making way for four fierce creatures to step out of the shadows and into the light. The four furies. Qoaxqoaxual. Hoxhok. Gelogudzayae. Nenstalit. They are followed onto the stage by a striking svelte dark skinned woman with piercing black eyes and long black hair. A woman who is totally naked.

“Oh. My. God!” I cry out inadvertently. “Kinqalatlala!”

She steps in front of the furies and signals the grizzly bear dancers. They drag a woman, also totally naked, onto the stage. The woman seems drugged and unresponsive. She needs help standing up.

Kinqalatlala steps up to the woman. She raises her hand to the woman’s face and her hand turns into a narrow steel blade. Kinqalatlala thrusts her hand through the woman’s chest, and the woman falls to the ground dead. Bending down Kinqalatlala slashes the woman’s chest with her hand. She buries her other hand into the chest and rips out the heart, holding it over her head, blood dripping onto her face and outstretched tongue. Hamatsa steps up to Kinqalatlala and takes the heart and commences to eat it. The assembly picks up their sticks and begin to beat time on their planks once again while the furies fall on the dead woman. Qoaxgoaxual the giant raven pecks out and eats the woman’s eyes while Hoxhok the giant crane splits the woman’s skull with his giant beak and sucks out her brains. Then the furies rip her flesh and devour her body.

Jean takes my hand. I can feel her body shaking in fear. I am stunned into silence. Not one muscle on my body so much as twitches.

The assembly begins to chant:

“Wa ha, wa ha, wa ha, wa ha, wa ha, hai ya, ye he, ya ye, yay a, wa ha, wa ha, hai ya, ye he, he ya, ye ha, ye ha, ye ha, hoip!”

Hamatsa sits on a cedar bark mat while continuing to devour the dead woman’s heart, his face coated with blood. Kinqalatlala dances around Hamatsa. She takes some burning cedar bark and shakes it over Hamatsa’s head, showering him with sparks. The grizzly bear dancers accompanied by the warriors with the lances return to the stage and pick Hamatsa up on their shoulders, carrying him into the darkness, followed by the four furies, dragging their victim with them.

Jean and I sit looking at each other in stunned silence.

“The dead live beneath the real world,” Blue Tara said.

Kinqalatlala dances back onto the stage, sweat and blood on her naked body glistening in the flickering light of the bonfires. She dances directly to where Jean and I sit, and grabbing my shoulders pulls me up on my feet and onto the stage. She commences to chant:

“I keep down your wrath, great cannibal Hamatsa.
I keep down your whistles, great cannibal Hamatsa.
I keep down your voraciousness, great cannibal Hamatsa.
You are always devouring property, great cannibal Hamatsa.
You are always devouring food, great cannibal Hamatsa.
You are always devouring heads, great cannibal Hamatsa.”

Kinqalatlala put her arms around my shoulders and pulled me to her. Her breasts stick into my chest. As I struggle to break free of her grip I see Jean trying to get to her feet, but Blue Tara takes her arm and restrains her. Kinqalatlala puts her hands on my face and swipes her tongue across my lips. I can taste blood.

I finally manage to break free and stumble back off the stage as the four furies reappear out of the darkness to surround Kinqalatlala. I sit down on the log with Jean and Jean puts her arm around me.

“How can she know who your are?” Jean asks. “If this is the past, she hasn’t met you yet.”

“Time is relative,” Blue Tara interjected. “The past is present. And the present is past. You must drop the constraints of your linear reality.”

“Maybe we should get out of here,” I said. “Quit while we’re ahead.”

“We can not leave without the tlogwe,” Blue Tara replied. “Otherwise, all is lost.”

“You keep saying that, but how and where do we find the tlogwe? And how will we recognize it if and when we find it?”

“Patience,” Blue Tara said. “We need to get into the longhouse. We may find the answer we seek within.”

“I don’t think the furies are going to stand by and simply let us walk in,” I replied. “So how are we going to get in?”

I shouldn’t have asked. Blue Tara screeched and I found myself inside a large dark timber structure, on my knees, with my hands pressed over my ears. So much for getting used to this time space bend thing I thought to myself. When I opened by eyes I saw Blue Tara helping Jean to her feet. The blue glow from Tara’s crystalline skin gave a nearly empty hall an eerie ethereal effect. Fantastical demons and serpents were painted on the walls in colors so vibrant the figures seemed to be alive. Jean took my hands and helped me to my feet. We were not alone.

Hamatsa stood in the center of the room, his sickly yellow scalloped skin turning blue from Tara’s glow. “What you seek is not here,” he said, baring his fangs.

“How do you know what we seek?” I replied.

“You seek what you can not have. The source of ultimate power. Ultimate power to destroy me and stop the Winalagalis.”

Kinqalatlala appeared at Hamatsa’s side. “Only those who have tasted death and entered the spirit world are able to seek the ultimate treasure,” she said.

I could still taste the blood on my lips from Kinqalatlala’s kiss, but I thought better than to tell her that.

“Only those who have tasted death can achieve everlasting life,” Kinqalatlala added. “Ultimate power and everlasting life rests with those who can take life and restore life.”

“You’re just mad we whooped your ass,” I replied, probably with more bravado than warranted in this situation. “Don’t think we can’t do it again,” I added, as I stepped to Blue Tara’s side.

“There are no defeats or victories,” Hamatsa said. “What matters is who prevails in the end.”

Do not underestimate the power of the Taras,” Blue Tara replied.

“You do not understand power,” Hamatsa said. “Until you gain the power to control life and to control death you will have no power against me.”

Hamatsa signaled into the darkness of the longhouse. The grizzly bear dancers appeared carrying a large cedar box. They brought in logs and sticks and constructed a bonfire in the center of the longhouse, and ignited it with a burning feather stick from the bonfires outside. Kinqalatlala stepped into the cedar box and lay down. The grizzly bear dancers covered the box with a large plank. They lifted the box and placed it on the fire. Kinqalatlala could be heard chanting inside the box:

“I keep down your wrath, great cannibal Hamatsa.
I keep down your whistles, great cannibal Hamatsa.
I keep down your voraciousness, great cannibal Hamatsa.
You are always devouring property, great cannibal Hamatsa.
You are always devouring food, great cannibal Hamatsa.
You are always devouring heads, great cannibal Hamatsa.”

The box quickly caught fire and became engulfed by the flames. After a few moments Kinqalatlala’s chanting ceased. The cedar box burned fiercely for about half an hour and everyone of us just stood and stared. Me, Hamatsa, his attendants, Jean, and Blue Tara. Not uttering a sound, we were mesmerized by the flames consuming the cedar planks of the box. I did not hear one scream or cry from Kinqalatlala trapped inside.

Eventually the box collapsed in ashes and the flames died out. The grizzly bear dancers took sticks and brushed through the ashes, kicking Kinqalatlala’s charred bones to the side. Hamatsa piled the bones in a small pyramid and placed Kinqalatlala’s skull on the pyramidion. He produced his flask containing the Water of Life and poured it over the pile. The shaman appeared and removed his chilkat blanket, placing it over the bones.

Hamatsa began to chant:

“Ham ham amai, ham ham amai, hamai, hamaima, mamai, hamai hamamai.
Ham hamam ham am ham am amai hamei hamamai.
Ham ham amai
Ham ham amai
Ham ham amai
Ham ham amai.”

I practically swallowed my tongue when the blanket began to rise off the ground and a human form took shape beneath the cloth. Hamatsa and the shaman each took a corner of the blanket and pulled it off the body. Jean screamed. I stood dumbfounded. Kinqalatlala stood unharmed and alive before us. She stepped up to me.

“Until you are willing to face death you have no power over us. Are you willing to face death?” she asked me, pointing to the ashes of the cedar box.

Not really, I thought to myself. Not knowing what to say I said nothing. I certainly did not want to go through the fire ritual I just witnessed.

Blue Tara stepped up to Kinqalatlala, holding her battle axe in her hand. “There is more than one way to die,” she said. “Are you willing to face death at my hand?” she asked, raising her battle axe. The four men holding the lances scrambled out of the darkness to surround Kinqalatlala, their lances pointed at Blue Tara.

“You may control death,” Kinqalatlala said, “but you do not control life. That is your weakness. And that will be your downfall.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jean pull the 45 Smith and Wesson out of her holster.

End of Chapter Two