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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 45: Kondor 144
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Previous chapter: Chapter 44: Hastings 148
Kondor decided he should let Slade and Shella know what Derek had told him, so he abandoned his perimeter sweep and returned to camp. “I heard from Derek,” he said.
“News?” Slade asked.
“Yes, I think so. There are scorch marks scattered across most of the wilderness, but they’re densest toward the northeast. I’ve suggested he scout that direction and see whether there’s anything that looks like a decent hiding place for a band of bandits.”
Slade nodded; Shella answered, “I’ll start scrying that direction; maybe I can find something.”
Hesitantly Slade said, “N-no, let’s break camp and start moving that direction. You can reach Derek if we need him, and he can certainly reach us, so we don’t have to worry too much about losing him. Besides, he’s got that scriff sense. Pack anything of his that’s loose, and let’s move in his direction. I agree that this is our best lead, so we should close the distance while we can.”
“You wouldn’t rather travel at night?” Zeke asked.
“It’s not hot enough here for that, I think,” Slade said, “and I want Joe to be able to watch the paths and such, both to make sure he knows the way back and to look for anything that might be important.”
There wasn’t much to pack, and in a few minutes everyone was ready.
“Wait, everyone. Derek’s calling me again.” Yes?
I might have found something. There’s something that looks like a gully--probably the sort of ditch that becomes a stream when it rains and then dries up again. But it looks like it’s pretty deep and pretty wide.
Joe thought that something like that ought to be on local maps, but then, they never thought to ask if there were any local maps. They had a guide; he should ask.
“Derek says there’s a gully of some sort to the northeast, fairly wide and fairly deep.”
“That would be Sunrise Wadi,” the guide said. “It is perhaps fifteen miles from here, at the near end, and is a good sixty miles long into the eastern hills.”
“What’s a wadi?” Zeke asked.
“It’s a watercourse,” Kondor answered, “that carries water in the rainy season and then dries up in the dry season. There are quite a few of them in Africa, and African migrations are very much dependent on them.”
“So it’s like a flash flood gully?”
Kondor thought a moment. “Yes and no. The kind of flash flood gullies they have in the American west flood for a few days and then go dry again, fairly frequently. A wadi becomes a major waterway for months, watering a large area, and then is dry for months. Its flooding is predictable, to a significant degree, by the time of year.
“Anyway, assuming the water is receding, it would be a good place for bandits to camp. It’s apparently difficult to spot from any distance, would have some water and probably food, and if they come from the east would become a path back to the hills as the water recedes. I’m not sure how we approach it, but I think it’s our best bet.”
“I think Derek is waiting for an answer?” Slade said.
“Oh, right. What should I tell him?”
“Tell him we’re coming his direction and if he sees a good place for us to camp he should lead us to it.”
Slade says, Kondor sent, see if you can find us a good place to camp. We’re coming your way.
Right, Derek answered. I’ll let you know.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #284: Versers React. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: