A Night as Fugitives

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It was a short time after dark when the three friends left the farm. They started south toward Puquykilla and then cut east before reaching the city. Even when the city was asleep, they did not want to risk drawing attention to themselves.

The goal was to reach the shores of Lake Mayuasiri and follow them south until they found Huksonjo's village. David was sure that he would recognize it after the two days he had spent in it, even if that had been almost five weeks earlier.

If they arrived in the middle of the night, David wanted to spend the remaining hours in the woods. He was afraid to go into the village lest he should be recognized and to have two strangers knock on Huksonjo's door in the middle of the night was not the most friendly thing they could do. He hoped to gain some insights into their best course of action while they were there.

Mark was the first to speak after they had left the farm. "I'm still surprised that Ch'uya 'bought' the business from us. I completely misjudged his intentions in pushing us so hard."

David laughed. "You said he was a good businessperson and fair to his workers."

"Yes, but I was asking to be freed from the duties he had already assigned me and for food and lodging for you on the same night."

"We gave him the money from today's wagon purchase."

Sañi chimed in, "He is a good man."

The other two fell silent for a few moments. After they took a road to the left in order to avoid Puquykilla, David picked up the conversation again. "Mark, when I found you, you were unwilling to say anything against Mallqu. ¿What do you think of him now? I'm sorry, Sañi, I know this is not an easy topic."

Sañi answered first. "I can not run from him for my entire life. Hakan ran and it did him no good."

David wanted to ask why Hakan had needed to run but Mark began his reply. "I think he is uniting the people as they have not been in a very long time. I do not like some of the ways he is doing that but have not figured out why he is doing what he is. ¿Why?"

"As you know, Huksonjo is actively opposed to Mallqu. ¿If our way home lies with Mallqu, as Sumailla's father thought, what are we going to do?"

"Let's... er..." Mark realized that he couldn't translate into Runasimi what he had intended to say about crossing that bridge when they came to it. A literal translation was almost sure to draw a strange glance from Sañi. "We'll make our plans after we talk to your friend."

"¿Am I getting too far ahead of ourselves?"

Mark chuckled. "Yes."

A mile further, their road ran across the main path from the lake to the city. David wanted to follow it but Sañi argued that they should continue to use the smaller farming roads. Not that finding them was a high priority, but three people traveling at night would warrant special attention if a soldier should happen across them. This was especially true with there being two men as young as Mark and David.

Sañi's argument won out and they continued straight but took another road to the left shortly afterward so that they could travel as close to the lake as possible. In the dark, David was not sure how easy it would be to recognize their destination.

The walk progressed in a leisurely manner with conversation remaining quiet but coming at sporadic intervals. As the night wore on, all three of them began to feel tired from the events of the day. The nap that David had taken did not help much and, surprisingly, Mark was holding up the best. He and Sañi hadn't had a break since that morning.

They were almost past Huksonjo's village before David recognized the stream that ran through it.

He called for the others to stop. "I need some sleep."

Mark asked, "¿Can't make the goal you set for us?"

"No, I almost let us walk past the right place."

Mark sighed. "¿Now what?"

David pointed to a small one and a half bedroom structure. "That's Huksonjo's house. He's adding on to it. I would just as soon sleep out here until morning and then try to figure out what he is up to."

"¿Do you think we could crawl into that room he is adding on to the house?"

"Uh... ¿Wouldn't somebody see us?" David looked at Sañi.

She replied, "Right now I just want some sleep."

Mark started toward the house and David ran to catch up. He whispered in harsh tones, "Mark! You don't know the guy. Even if you did, it's polite to ask first."

"He'll have to forgive us. If I can help it, we need to provide a roof of some kind over Sañi's head. Would you rather that we knock or just crawl through the frame into the new room? I'm almost certain that it does not open to the other room yet."

David didn't know what to say. He hung back and Mark turned out to be right. The room was partially constructed and was still separate from the main room.

Mark made sure that most of the floor space was clear before telling Sañi she could crawl in between the boards. They did everything as quietly as possible and at length David joined them. The three travelers lay down and sleep drifted over them almost immediately.

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