Handing It Off

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David woke up from his nap to the sound of the other men grabbing their dinner in their sleeping quarters. He smiled to himself as he thought about how only two weeks earlier he would have been awake the moment any of them set foot in the room. Somehow his body instinctively kept track of who was around and whether he trusted them or not. It was obvious that he was not wary of them now. He got up and went to collect his own plate from Sañi, as she had made the meal.

Mark had already supplied Ch'uya with the list of their current customers and explained the special requests. Ch'uya had taken notes and appeared ready to take over the business. In exchange for it, Ch'uya had given Mark 15 gold coins. This was a lot but it turned out that the man had intended from the beginning to buy Mark out. That was why he had pushed them so hard with his own standards.

They had also been told not to lie about what was happening but to keep it quiet nevertheless. Ch'uya didn't mind rumors being told after they were gone. Mark said in a voice that was just loud enough for everyone at the table to hear that he was learning a lot and really appreciated everyone's help. In order to downplay the reason for that statement he announced that they had delivered their first wagon that day. A general round of congratulations followed and set the mood for the rest of the meal.

Once dinner was over the three of them, with help from Ninan, cleaned up the mess that preparing the food had caused. That was soon over and the three of them made their way, almost without thinking, to their work area.

Mark picked up a board and began to plane it. In reply to David's laugh, he defended himself with "I have to do something. I can't just sit around tonight."

David picked up an axe and began to chip off pieces of the tree they were using for coal, which left Sañi to find something to do.

Almost an hour later, after the sun had set and the twilight was beginning to fade, they halted their work.

David joked, "We work cheap. We should ask for another copper or two in exchange for this business."

Mark just laughed. "I suppose we won't have much to take with us. ¿David, do you want to go get some food for our trip after everyone is asleep?"

Sañi interrupted as he had asked in Runasimi. "I can get food from the main house. I have to get my other clothes anyway."

Mark and David looked down at what they were wearing. They were the clothes they had come to the farm in. "Women," muttered David.

"Oh, quit your whining," countered Sañi.

Rather than pressing farther, David asked, "¿Do we know where we are going?"

Mark looked at Sañi who didn't want to make the decision either. "From what you have said, we will have to meet Mallqu eventually."

Sañi shuddered slightly but didn't say anything. She didn't need to.

David offered an idea. "¿Why don't we go back to Lake Mayuasiri? We could use Huksonjo's advice. He'll know how to avoid capture and while we are there we can drop around and pick up our stuff... if somebody else hasn't done that for us by now."

Mark sighed. "OK. It should at least give us a direction to go. If nothing else we will learn some basic survival, which the men here aren't very good at."

David turned to Sañi and asked, "¿You know that you don't have to come with us?"

"¿How will you survive without a woman to tell you how to put a shirt on? I'll go with you."

"Ay. I probably deserved that."

After a final look around, the group turned toward the house. They might have been a little sweaty from the work but it did not matter to them. The road was going to be a long one and the work had helped to calm their minds a little. David was discovering that no matter how much he anticipated moving on, there was a twinge of fear involved in leaving what was known to be safe.

Bravo, Bravo

*gives a standing ovation*

Now I'm going to have to go reread the rest of the story just to remember what's happening here... ;)

Chris's picture

Yeah, I did take a few weeks vacation...

But it has returned. :)

Yay!

*is glad it has returned*

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