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.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 33

Alles realized now that the water drip had been oriented to deliberately mislead them. As the sky grew brighter he could start to make out the traces of footprints that had been carefully swept away. They’d traveled upslope and winterward.

“We’re going to move quickly and quietly,” Alles whispered to his fellow soldiers, “We don’t want a fight. They probably outnumber the five of us, and it’s doubtful any of us will survive if we have to fight them. And even if we try to run, they’ll catch us.” They then began to jog upslope in the direction of the tracks.

Alles and his men came upon them much sooner than they expected, only a few hundred paces from their previous camp. And what they found was more than a little bit surprising, especially to Alles and Jesek who were familiar with the habits of the itinerant tribes.

The first members of Erek-Monte’s tribe that Alles and his men encountered were two night sentries, both asleep. Such dereliction of duty was ill-tolerated and usually harshly punished among the generally strict itinerant tribes and it greatly surprised Alles.

Alles and the other soldiers tip-toed noiselessly by the sentries. Within several paces they came upon the camp and found Erek-Monte and all his men, women, and children asleep. This was even more surprising than to see the sentries asleep. Itinerant tribes never slept in so late into the morning, and it was surprising to find them sleeping when Alles was on their tail. It was evident that they hadn’t taken any time to build the camp, with everyone simply sprawling out on the ground with only a blanket to cover them. Even more shocking, at the center of the camp a fire still smoldered, as if it had been tended throughout the night and then left to burn out. Itinerant tribes usually only built fires in the early evening and early morning, to minimize visibility.

Why they had so uncharacteristically built and maintained the fire was inexplicable. Yet, laying there beside the fire, bathing in its warmth was little Samuel. Erek-Monte lay besides Samuel, holding him with a protective embrace and sharing a blanket with the boy.

Alles indicated for the men to wait for him and not make a sound. Then he began to tiptoe into the campground, quietly stepping over sleeping bodies and progressing towards the boy. There was the sound of heavy breathing all around him and even the quiet drone of some snorers. Alles stepped gingerly over these motionless shapes towards Samuel at the center.

Alles had to gently pick up the arm Erek-Monte had draped over Samuel and lay it on the ground. Then he had to carefully pick up Samuel in his arms. Samuel’s eyes were still closed, and Alles was careful not to let his bare skin touch the child’s bare skin.

Alles pulled Samuel to his chest while the child dozed on his shoulder. He then began to tiptoe back towards the other soldiers.

Alles silently signaled his men to depart, and they followed behind him in single file. Sorn alone surreptitiously remained.

When the rest of the group had moved on Sorn drew his sword from its leather sheath, and pointed it at one of the two men who slept, a young soldier named Erek-Trent. He pointed the tip at the soft of the neck of this soldier.

“Perhaps you’re not the one who killed Lee, but you unfortunately are going to be the one to pay for it,” Sorn quietly whispered to himself. Sorn slowly touched the sword to Erek-Trent’s neck, readying his hands to force the blade through the neck with a sudden thrust, but the cold steel woke Erek-Trent from his sleep. As soon as Erek-Trent saw the sight hanging over him he sounded the alarm with a loud cry. Sorn tried to abruptly silence the soldiers with the forceful thrust he’d been planning, sending the blade directly through the throat and unleashing a torrent of blood.

But it was too late, and the rest of the camp started to rise. Sorn was immediately on the run, bolting downhill towards Alles and the others. When Alles heard the cry and saw Sorn approaching from behind, he gave Sorn a swift look, then he turned forward and began to run. They ran between the trees, leaping over roots and fallen logs downhill in the direction of their camp, where, they hoped their superior numbers would bring them safety.

<-- Go to Part 32         Go to Part 34 -->

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

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