Caravan to Ohamet

JP with Ender

((Shadrazar, Zatar))

The group emerged from a hidden passageway, Kara leading Horo and Severos clear of the Shadrazar’s outer walls and any one patrolling them. They stepped out back into the hot desert sand, the shaded tunnel only a short reprieve.

Off in the distance a series of ramshackle conveyances stood in a bunch. A mass of gaudy cloth covered wagons they saw upon closer look. With the heat haze it was hard to tell what kind of group they might belong to, but the brightly coloured canopies stood out in stark contrast with the ashy gray sand that made up the dull, monotonous terrain of the desert.

“We should see if we can join these travelling folk. Hide within their numbers. A group like that of people of paler skin won’t stand out as much as being singular in the city walls, don’t you think, Severos?” Putting up his hood, the man who once again called himself Horo Inu started towards the sprawling caravan not waiting for the others' input.

The man walked, not checking if the others were following until he’d gotten close to the caravan, and enough that the caravan had seen his approach. Two guards began to converse in close whispers each taking turns keeping an eye on Horo. Before the guards could make a move someone unseen forced them apart, and a small figure hopped down from the cart. Barely knee-high to the guards, she began to make her way towards Horo and the others, meeting them part way. The guards followed behind her.

Kara joined Reise's side, she gently tugged at his sleeves, "Horo, look." She motioned to the small figure and the guards, "We have company."

“I know, I wasn’t trying to sneak up on them. It’s better that they see us coming and not as if we are thieves.” Horo said.

"Have a plan? The sands are shifting soon, it will be difficult to find your friends." She pulled her hood to cover her fair skin from the onlookers around them.

“I have my ways of finding people.” Horo said, “We don’t need to track them with the sands.” He said, “Now be ready, we’re going to have to talk them into letting strangers join their ranks.”

Kara gave a nod and whispered, "For your sake, I'm your property if they ask. If they see a man with a female elf who isn't a slave, they'll be suspicious. If they ask about the cloak, it's because I belong to your eyes only, good enough story for you?" She kept her head down, not daring to look up at him to keep the illusion she created up.

The guards stood far enough back they could act if needed but they group was approached by the green figure. She was short. At a distance she could easily be mistaken for a child. And judging by looks she was a goblin? No, that wasn’t quite right. Her features were to ‘normal’ and she would have been short even by goblin standards. Her eyes were large saucers of yellow, her hair a dark teal, she was dressed like a bard with puffy pants and a shirt with puffy sleeves, and a cape though the colors were browns and creams, fairly muted for a bard's attire.

When she’d finally reached the group she looked up at Horo. “Hoi, I’m Nettle, Leader of the Half Moon Performers.” she said, reaching up a tiny hand to greet Horo with a hand shake. To which Horo had to bend to meet. “You look lost.”

Horo offered a smile. “A little yes. We were wondering if there would be any way we could trouble you for passage with your caravan to the next city? We can offer an extra set of hands, and eyes to help out, we would supply our own supplies for food, water and camping. We only require a ride.”

Nettle stood there a moment thinking. “I’d have to ask moi fellow performers, but you are free to come and ask with me.” she said, spinning on her heel and trudging back to her cart, in a slight waddle as she tried to locomote through the dense sand on her short legs.

The dust elf tilted her head in curiosity, she turned to Horo, gently nodding, informing him that she was good to speak with the performers. She had no intention of speaking until she was certain that these people weren't like the majority of Zatar.

They followed the woman who’d introduced herself as Nettle. When they arrived back at the group of carts she stood for a moment. “Well?” she said looking at one of the guards who looked like he’d just remembered something and was stupid for forgetting and picked the woman up and put her back in the cart. She let out a high pitched whistle whose volume was shocking to hear come from someone so small. And people began to poke their heads out of the covered carts. People of all types, though most seemed to be of half-breed nature. Just like their leader. Who circled around Nettle’s carriage. “We have a few people who would like to join us for a short time. Would anyone be opposed?” she asked, after a short while of no one saying anything she waved the group over. “Come say Hoi and tell them your names so we know what to call you.”

Kara watched the interesting sight before her, she relaxed once she realized that this band of misfits were nothing like the common people of Zatar. She felt a bit of shame for thinking of it at first, but pushed it aside. "My name is Kara." She gave them all a respectful bow, her hood dipping down.

In unison the group said, “Hi Kara.”

“You can call me Horo or Reise whichever you prefer.” Horo responded.

“And I’m Severos.” Severos added hoarsely and he proudly showed his brass plaque, which the carnie people stared at with suitable respect and awe.

“Hi Horo, Hi Severos.” the group said.

Horo looked at Severos’ neck that appeared somewhat swollen, “You might want to rest your voice. It sounds like that gargoyle did some damage to your vocal cords. I’ll do the talking for now. We’ll get you something for it on the next stop.”

Nettle chimed in. “You can get to know the others a bit later, since there are so many of us it’ll be easier to just ask everyone when you’ve got the time.”

Kara noticed something glimmering in the sand, she knelt down to remove it from the sand. "Hmm, Nettle was it? Did you see any odd looking bounty hunters?" Horo could see what looked like a metal cog in her hands, something strangely familiar about it.

Nettle paused thinking. “Yes it was Nettle. Nope, odd looking doesn’t help around here though.” she added, “We’re all a bit odd.”

Horo looked at the cog in Kara’s hand. “Do you mind?” he asked, holding out his hand, to get a better look at the strange gear she was holding.

She gently handed the cog to the man, "Is it familiar to you? It's some odd kind of metal, even for me."

Horo took it and turned it over in his hand a few times. “Yeah. Not a common sight. Not anymore at least. Dwarven Delver Brass, but…” he held it up. “Updated process. Delver Brass was used to make drills that could get through the hard rock and take a lot of punishment. Whoever made this was smart enough to know it’d make whatever machine they put it in take a lot to break. But this one’s got a stress fracture so, must not be a perfect update, or actual Delver brass and not just a cheap copy.”

"It feels very old, however it doesn't look old. As if the owner of it was able to keep treating it. What machine would use this strange thing? It appears to have been battered repeatedly. Look at this side." She flipped it back to the side she was originally analyzing, "There's an old gash that was repaired here, newer metal was placed here." She pointed out the thin lines of old meeting new.

Horo eventually shrugged. “Hold on to it.” he said, “When we have more time I can examine it better. But we need to focus on getting far from here and away from the people after me.”

"Then let's get going, Nettle!" She called out with a friendly tone, "When will we be on the road again?"

“Energy I LOVE IT!” she said back in an equally friendly tone. “Won’t be for a bit. We’re finishing checking our supplies and head count then we’ll set off. We got a few that like to drink till the last minute then don’t wander back and we can’t leave them behind.”

She turned back to Horo, "Well, you heard her. We might have to give them a reason to hurry up if we want to leave sooner."

Horo leaned over to Kara. “I’m not going to talk them into leaving their people behind. They are doing us a great kindness to allow us to hide among them. The least we can do is just keep our heads down and wait for them to leave on their own time.”

Kara gave him a shrug, "Fair enough. I guess we can examine this odd piece." She motioned to the gear, "It doesn't look like it just fell off, however it isn't that badly damaged. How certain are you that this is Delver brass?"

Horo pondered the question. “I don’t believe it is, but I do believe it was made in the same manner.” he said, “It is made to hold up to tremendous force, stress, and friction based heat.” Horo pointed to the teeth on the cog. “They use a series of step up, and step down series of gears to generate a lot of power with little effort. This seems to have been part of a greater machine, but I’d have to agree with you. It appears to have been removed deliberately. There is no stripping near the center of the cog like there would be if the bolt holding it in place were to have broken.”

The dust elf mind clicked at the observation, "I have a theory, that whatever machine this cog goes to, is supposed to break apart, but it might have to go by a switch, right here you can see where it had been hit by something sharp." She pointed at a tiny nick in the gear, "So the gear fell off as it was doing what it's supposed to, where it was hit, maybe mid dismantle?"

“It’s possible, but it’s just as possible that some other aspect of the machine was damaged and nicked the cog. Possibly the device was separating due to a malfunction, or an attack and the damaged parts scraped against each other when they were not meant to.”

"That could be it as well, if that was the case, if the cog is made from some durable material, why isn't there more scraps of the machine, or more damage to the cog itself? Don't you think that's a little odd?"

“Delver Brass is strong stuff. It's used to help in the mining of dense rock and crystal. It’s too small to be from one of those machines however, if I could see what this originally came from, or even just a few more parts from the machine it came from I might be able to put together the mystery.”

She kicked the sand around for a bit, until she found something, gaining a chuckle from her. She knelt down and pulled out a shiny object, it appeared to be a gauntlet of some kind, however it was more refined, closer to a hand. Inside was many mechanisms to help move it, darker, thinner metal bars stuck out, clearly sliced off. Kara jokingly held the metal hand up, "Need a hand?"

Horo took it as if he were shaking the hand. “I’ve seen something like this before.” he said, “Sort of, it’s complicated. But let’s call it a vague recollection.” he said observing it. “It’s strange.” he bent one of the gauntlets’ fingers. “I’ve never seen this kind of metal cut so cleanly. Usually it dents or deforms before it gives way.”

"From the look of the cut, it wasn't formed by a natural weapon. My guess is magic, and I can see traces of it. Very twisted magic, it's not from this world. It reminds me of a magical tar, or more of an infestation. Her eyes flicked over it.

Horo only shrugged. “You’d know better than me.” he said, “I deal in magic like you, so your guess in the field is a ‘take your word for it’ type of situation.” Horo added, “But whatever it was, I don’t think I want to tangle with it right now.”

"It stinks, like the city of Ohamet. It reminds me of that psychopath Lucretia's property. My people always feel sick in or around that place." She shook her head, as if shaking away thoughts.

“We can figure that out later.” Horo said. “I’ll study it more when we have free time.” he
added, watching the group in the wagon train going to greet the stragglers. “I think we’ll be moving soon.”

Kara nodded, "Perfect timing for us. The universe is known for that, isn't it? Let us join them, get away from this accursed city."

Nettle let out that loud whistle again, and the carts began to move. Horo, Kara and Severos taking seats in a cart for the first leg of the journey.

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