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, October 22, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 53

After about a day’s journey away from Orinda-for, Mill stumbled upon what appeared to be remnants of a recent itinerant-tribe campsite. He could see several bootprints in the dirt and grass that had apparently been flattened by sleeping soldiers. In the middle of all of this was the black char of a recent fire. When he searched for a water trip, he found one, barely emptied, dangling from a branch pointing sunsetward. He deduced that this tribe had broke camp only just this morning, and decided to try and intersect with them, as a new plan developed in his mind.

The various itinerant tribes maintained sporadic trading and communication between one another, and thus would let themselves be easy to find and easy to track for other tribes. Yet, since they were constantly on the move, they were difficult to catch up with. Mill spent his whole day jogging to catch them, as he followed prints in the dirt and channels though the underbrush.

Mill rapidly traced their movements across stretches of forest and through valleys until, as the day was coming to an end, he finally started to approach their camp. Mill smelled meat cooking in the distance, could see the faint wisp of smoke from their fire, and he could even hear the distant sound of laughter through the trees. As he neared closer, he noticed that he was being watched, by eyes in the trees. He announced himself boldly in a fluent rendition of the Itinerant language, the so-called Mountain-speak: “I come to speak with your leader. The only weapon I have is a dagger.”

The eyes in the trees stayed fixed, but another man, Dylan-Nantes a bearded, scraggly-haired man, approached him. The man wore an outfit made from several animal furs and had his three sheathed daggers visible. Around his neck was a necklace made from old rusted bolts and washers that hung down to his navel. “This is Erek-Monte’s tribe. Who are you, and what is your business, stranger?” Dylan-Nantes said.

“My name is Mill, of the Brotian Guild. Tell Erek Monte I am a friend of Strya and would like to see him.”

“You’re a friend of Strya then? An excellent man. My name’s Dylan-Nantes. You can go ahead and see him. But let us greet each other with a comrades’ greeting.” Dylan-Nantes reached out and they shook hands with a soldier’s shake, each grabbing the forearm of the other and then both placing the other hand on the shoulder of the other. “But even friends of Strya must don the frock, I’m afraid,” Dylan-Nantes added, “Erek-Monte doesn’t trust strangers, especially not from the Omnia.”

“What do you mean?” Mill asked.

“Take off your clothes,” Dylan-Nantes ordered, “You don’t need to be embarrassed. There are no women in sight. Go ahead.”

Mill started to remove his vest and shirt; he next slipped out of his boots, his socks and his pants until he was only wearing his loin cloth. This he unwrapped and set down with the rest, now bare-naked and shivering.

“No room to hide any weapons when you’ve only got your skin,” Dylan-Nantes explained, handing him a large brown cloth. Dylan-Nantes had to show Mill how to wear it, wrapping it around him and securing it in place. Dylan-Nantes also handed Mill a pair of sandals and a cloak, since the warmth of the setting sun was rapidly disappearing. After this, Mill pulled a small sack of grain out of his bag and handed it to Dylan-Nantes, saying, “For Erek-Monte.”

Mill then walked towards the camp, with Dylan-Nantes behind him. Through the trees, he found a diverse group of mostly men circled around a fire, seated on the ground. A large, barrel-chested warrior with bright red hair and freckled skin sat at the center of them, taking the first bit of the cooking meat. Everyone turned to look at Mill, who walked cautiously among them. When Erek-Monte saw him he didn’t rise, but he offered him a seat. Mill sat down, keeping a respectful distance from him.

“My name’s Mill, of the Brotian Guild. I am a friend of Strya’s” Mill repeated.

“As a guest, it is your duty to join us in our meal,” Erek-Monte said cordially.

“I will, and I thank you, as long as you don’t mind that the only gift I have is a bag of grain,” Mill responded deferentially.

Erek-Monte laughed heartily and some of the men nearby joined in. Erek-Monte replied jovially, “I guess an Omnia spy doesn’t have much time for hunting, but I think we’ll enjoy it nonetheless.” Dylan-Nantes leaned forward and handed the bag to Erek-Monte, who looked into it appreciatively. He then threw the bag to one of the women. “Am I right to say that you are a spy? If you are a friend of Strya and you are out here, that can be the only explanation.”

Mill nodded and Erek-Monte shouted “Ha! I was right!” with a cheerful laugh. He then turned to Mill and he said, “So, what brings you here, Omnia spy? Why have you sought us out? What could we possibly do for you?”

“I have a commission for you,” Mill said, “For you to deliver a message.”

<-- Go to Part 52         Go to Part 54 -->

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

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