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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 61: Kondor 146
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Previous chapter: Chapter 60: Slade 146
By the time Kondor, leading Zeke and Derek and two spare horses, reached the destination, he found Slade and Shella seated on the rock at the beginning of the trail down into the valley. Smoke rose as from several fires below. He clumsily reined his horse to a halt.
“I thought you’d need help,” he said to Slade.
“Oh, I’m sure I always need help, and I never turn it down if it’s offered. I think things are pretty much under control despite the fact that they’re still a chaotic mess down there. I suspect that we should do a bit of cleaning up, finish off any surviving troublemakers.”
“So, tell me about it.”
“Well, you already know that I went in ostensibly as a prisoner, introduced myself to their leader, and when he wasn’t willing to negotiate I killed him. Then I used that insignificancy spell you’ll remember Shella and I using back in that race war world--Shella was already using hers--so that they couldn’t find me. A few well-placed shots with the kinetic blaster and I had them fighting among themselves.
“We wandered back the way we came, stirring up trouble as we went. At some point, someone must have released their fire beast, thinking it would come for us, but no one had control over the thing so it started burning down the camp. We let it do that for a while, until it came toward us, and Shella got rid of it.”
“Got rid of it?” he asked.
“I buried it, my lord,” Shella answered.
“Buried it,” Kondor stated flatly.
Derek replied. “Shella has a spell that turns the ground below a target into something like quicksand, so that it sucks someone in and folds over them.”
“Impressive,” Zeke said. “I’m sorry I missed it.”
“Yeah, well, I’ve seen it quite a few times,” Slade replied, “but this was the first time I really got to watch it. Usually there’s too much happening that requires my attention. This time I wasn’t too busy. It is impressive to watch.”
“Thank you, my lord,” Shella said with a bit of blush in her cheeks.
“So anyway,” Slade continued, “I’m thinking that we ought to go down there and see who’s left standing, and take them off their feet.”
“No prisoners?” Kondor suggested.
“I can’t understand a word they say anyway, and don’t feel like struggling to take prisoners back to the palace however we travel, when we don’t know what they’re likely to know or tell.”
“Derek might be able to help.”
“I speak a bit of Arabic and a bit of Farsi,” Derek reminded them. “Not a lot, but enough for a conversation.”
Slade nodded. “Yeah, well, we’ll think about it. I doubt these know anything of value, and if they do they won’t tell us. I’m no interrogator, and I don’t take any of you to be the sort who would torture a man to prove he doesn’t know anything. If someone wants to talk, I suppose we should listen, but most of them didn’t seem interested in talking last time I tried. Might be some surviving women, but my impression is they were just camp followers and cooks. I’d be surprised if they knew anything.”
“O.K., then,” Kondor said. “Lead the way, and we’ll clean up whatever’s left here.”
Slade and Shella rose, and the others dismounted and tethered the horses to the scrub. Then they proceeded down the slope into the wadi and the remains of the enemy camp.
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 #293: Versers Relate. 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: