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, September 16, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 32

Jesek’s announcement sent a shiver through Alles’ blood. He turned to look at Annsi, who had been knocked down after her pursuit and who was now being led forward by Lee. With his eyes he expressed that she had failed to guard the palanquin. She could feel that deep pang of shame as he looked at her. Everybody saw that withering look that he gave her, while they waited for his instructions.

“They’re a tribe of wandering scraps,” Alles said, with all the derogatory emphasis, “They move quickly. We can’t track them easily in the dark, but we’ll have to. Jesek, grab three men you trust and follow me.”

Annsi stepped forward, “I want to come with you. Samuel will feel more comfortable if it’s me who brings him back”

“No,” Alles said, “Rest. You’ll make sure the men are orderly while I’m away.”

At those words, Alles with Jesek and his three soldiers of choice, Sorn, Imann and Jyorg, ran in the direction where Alles had stumbled across their camp.

Erek-Monte himself had pulled little Samuel out of the palanquin when Annsi was lured away. He found Samuel curled up in the corner, wrapped in a sheet, with only his piercing blue eyes peaking out. Erek-Monte bundled him up in those sheets and took him in his two arms, carefully closing the door in the hope that they wouldn’t notice he was missing. He fled upslope to their camp as swift as a diving bird and immediately announced to his men that they must depart.

By the time Alles, Jesek, Sorn, Imann and Jyorg arrived back at Erek-Monte’s camp, it was already emptied and cleared out. There was very little to indicate that anyone had camped there: some footprints, some flat spots on the ground where they’d sat and set down bags and possessions, some ashes from a fire, and nothing more.

Looking at the camp, Sorn spat out his vitriol and muttered, “Baby-stealing scraps,” speaking to himself, “We should kill them all when we find them.”

Alles looked through the trees around the camp in search of an item known as a “water drip.” The water drip he expected to find would be composed of a small bark cup hanging from a branch holding about as much water as could be held in two hands. The water would be stained with the juice of a berry and would slowly leak out through a small hole pierced through the bottom of the cup. It would take about three or four days before the cup would be dry, and it would be hung on a branch that pointed in the direction the tribe had departed in. It was meant as a secret signal between the itinerant tribes, a sign indicating that they’d camped here, how recently they’d departed, and which way they’d gone. It helped the various itinerant tribes follow each other through the mazes of peaks and valleys as they wandered in sporadic patterns foraging, hunting and pillaging. It permitted them to meet, congregate, trade, exchange and pass on news. This was why Alles now sought it out. When Alles found the bark cup, he was quite surprised that he’d found it in the dark and even more surprised they’d left it after such a quick retreat.

Alles and his four followers pursued in the direction indicated, silently trekking through the night. Jesek, their only guide to this region, was unfamiliar with these slopes, and Alles struggled to find any sort of tracks in the dark. He’d always been able to rely upon his skill at tracking, even in difficult times and places. Now he was failing and he acutely felt the gravity of this failure. If the itinerant tribe was let to escape, the child would disappear forever, lost among the several tribes that aimlessly wandered this region.

As they moved further with no sign, Alles began to reconsider the guidance of the water drip. Even though the itinerant tribes moved quickly and stealthily, they normally took no precautions to make themselves untrackable, yet he could see no human tracks on the ground. He began to think that they mustn’t have gone in this direction, and decided that the five of them should turn around.

As the beginnings of dusk were just beginning to show a changing sky, Alles feared he’d been bested, since Erek-Monte and his compatriots, due to this misdirection, had a huge head start. The time Alles had given them was more than sufficient for them to stretch their legs across several peaks and over several valleys. But he returned to Erek-Monte’s former camp and invested himself in inspecting the ground in hope of continuing the pursuit. In the faint light of early morning, Alles saw that the tribe of raider had gone to some measure to hide their tracks around the camp.

<-- Go to Part 31         Go to Part 33 -->

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

No comments:

Post a Comment