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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Aresan Clan pt 54

“Deliver a message?” Erek-Monte replied, “We are not couriers, comrade. We don’t normally do this. We are merchants, you must know. We travel the empty mountains. We search for the ruins of our ancient ancestors, and we excavate them for treasures. Just recently we found this artifact.” Erek-Monte hefted up a heavy a chunk of cement almost as big as a man’s head, out of which a bent metal rod protruded. It was grey and had two smooth edges, as if it was pulled from the corner of some structure. “Do you know much this is worth?” Erek-Monte asked, “A fortune. One of your stinking Omnian aristocrats will probably pay us its weight in gold. To our ancestors, this would be junk. To us, we could use it to buy enough meat to feed our whole tribe for months. And we find many other things: coins, silverware, fragments of glass, and more. So, having heard that, I have to ask you why we should settle for being couriers. Why would it be worthwhile for us?”

“I’ll pay you generously. You just have to take a message to Lamosa, deliver it to Anders. And you needn’t bring your whole tribe. Just send one of your minions.”

“I have no minions,” Erek-Monte announced to a shout of uproarious agreement from his soldiers, “Only comrades. Besides, Lamosa is a like a festering corpse to my nose. But if there are any volunteers, I won’t object. Anyone willing to take this commission and travel into that festering swamp of disease that is Lamosa?”

“What will you pay?” Dylan-Nantes asked.

“Let me fetch it,” Mill said. Dylan-Nantes escorted Mill back to his clothes and bag, which were stowed in the possession of the sentries. Mill returned with a stack of gold coins a hands-breadth tall and displayed them for all to see. “Half up front and half when you return,” Mill said.

After he heard these words, Dylan-Nantes looked around to the other members of his tribe, to see if any of them were eager to leap forward and volunteer. With no one showing any interest, Dylan-Nantes announced, “I’ll take it. You give me that message and that money and I’ll be flowing through the gates of Lamosa as fast as a waterfall.”

“He will stink of the city when he returns and we shall have to scrub it off of him thoroughly,” Erek-Monte said to Dylan-Nantes, “But I consent to letting him leave us for this mission. Do we all consent?”

All of Erek-Monte’s soldiers consented at once with a loud shout of “Ho!”

Dylan-Nantes turned to Mill again and they traded the looks of two people pleased to do business together. Mill reached out his hand and they again traded a soldier’s shake to confirm the deal.

“We’ve made a binding agreement in front of all these witnesses,” Dylan-Nantes said. Mill nodded and handed half the stack of coins to Dylan-Nantes.

“Unfortunately, I shan’t be able to stay with you fine soldiers any longer. I must return to Orinda as soon as possible. My absence has probably already been noted and speculated over. All I need is to prepare the message and of course ask that Dylan-Nantes be as prompt in beginning his journey to deliver it as I am prompt to leave.”

“You sure you cannot indulge in more of our feast?” Erek-Monte offered, and a woman stepped forward with food in hand.

“No, thank you. You have been very hospitable,” Mill said. Then he looked at the woman, a large and imposing figure with broad shoulders and thick arms, and he added: “That’s quite a strong woman to just be serving food.”

Erek-Monte said, “All our women are strong!” and all the men raised a cheer of joy, “Because our women, they fight. We don’t like them to fight because they’re valuable to us,” his men assented with eager howls, “but they can knock down your soldiers as easily as they could knock down a sapling, when they need to. You do not value your women so much. So you be careful! We might take them!” And the men laughed heartily.

Mill replied, “I do thank you for your hospitality and do apologize for having to leave so quickly.”

“We bid you goodbye respectfully,” Erek-Monte said, raising a glass to Mill.

Mill had to transcribe his message using available materials, since he hadn’t planned on using the itinerant tribesmen as couriers. He carved it on the inside of a piece of bark, writing it in the Omnian language and handing it off to Dylan-Nantes with the words, “I don’t have time to encrypt it. So I trust you to put this into Anders hands without it being stolen.”

Dylan-Nantes nodded and then Mill dressed and departed.

<-- Go to Part 53         Go to Part 55 -->

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

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