The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 20

Erek-Monte ran forward to highest tree amenable to climbing he could find, and spryly darted up the trunk. He stopped only when he arrived at the highest branch that could safely bear his weight and perched himself in place. Erek-Monte was a thickly-bearded giant of a man, with a barrel chest upon which the ends of his long, braided hair rested.

From the tree, he looked downslope to the small caravan of travelers and their mysterious black palanquin. He and his itinerant band had been following them since the day before, provoked mostly by curiosity. The caravan looked little promising for a raid: little food, no clothing of value, not much in the way of useful supplies and a contingent of soldiers that outnumbered his band. Nonetheless, Erek-Monte and his men continued to follow them.

Two men led at the head of the caravan, followed by a group of soldiers that surrounded the palanquin on all sides. Four soldiers carried the palanquin, and all the soldiers carried a shoulder supply on their backs. A caravan of supply handlers, unarmed that carried the bulk of the supplies trailed behind this lead unit, and at the back were two more soldiers. He could clearly tell they’d packed sparingly, and they moved quickly. There wasn’t much of the land to live off of in this regions of the mountains – some animals to hunt and some plants to gather; no farms or livestock – but they still looked as if they hadn’t brought more than just enough food to keep their ribs from sticking out further than the stomach.

Erek-Monte supposed the caravan was Aresan or from the Omnia based on their dress and the direction they traveled, but they carried no banners or insignia. Most troops would announce themselves boldly to anyone that might see them in the distance with clear markings so that any itinerant band they might stumble across would know whom they were dealing with and stay away. But this caravan seemed to want to sneak through unseen.

He watched the palanquin be set down and the sole female soldier open it up and pull out a small hooded person and walk the person about for a few minutes. A private chamber with four people to carry it around seemed to Erek-Monte’s mind like a profound royal honor, yet this child was hauled around like a slave or prisoner, and he or she was always covered, even treated with some trepidation. Their attitude towards this child was strange. Admittedly, Erek-Monte and his men had always found the Aresan Clan and the Omnia unceasingly strange, based on their few encounters. He didn’t tend to like them. Their lumbering cities infested the large valleys and they only continued to spread and expand, their people vitiating the land as they spread over it. Erek-Monte and his band much liked the Fourth Order better. They proselytized: picking up small settlements, giving them the Fourth Road to Divinity and some spare military protection. It wasn’t quite as much of an infestation that way, or so Erek-Monte thought.

Erek-Monte leapt down from the tree and pulled his small itinerant tribe of warriors and hunters together. He towered over them, standing a full head above the next tallest among them, and looked down as he spoke to them. “I want to go in closer and check them out tonight,” Erek-Monte said, “We shouldn’t expect much out of this. We’re just going to sweep in, investigate, and sweep out before they notice us. Arm yourselves for speed. We’ll bivouac upslope from their next camp. Are we all in?”

“We’re in,” said a few of them. “The rest of you,” Erek-Monte asked. They were thinking, then they said in accord, “We’re in too.”

“We’ll sweep in when some of their fires are still up. It’ll give us some light to see and blind them from our approach. Sound Good?”

“Good,” they all said.

“The little person they carry around in that enclosure, I want to know about that little someone. We’re curious and we want information. You good?”

“We’re good,” they sounded again.

“Let’s keep on the move. These men are slow and lazy and we’ll run in and out of their camp tonight like the flick of a lizard’s tongue,” Erek-Monte said, “Right ho!?”

“Ho!” they sounded in resounding accord.

<-- Go to Part 19         Go to Part 21 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

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