Passing Time

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David lay on his cot watching the others for a couple minutes before getting up. It was just before dawn and those around him were already preparing for a long day.

He had been living in the barn with these men for almost two weeks already. His plan had been to find a small job in a big city where he could learn the language without being too conspicuous. Circumstances had offered a much better alternative where very little was really required of him. In order to fill the time, he volunteered to help the others often with small jobs such as setting up targets or cleaning up after the meals.

The cook, a slightly older man who called himself "Ninan," was always willing to talk with David. The man had taken on the job because the others felt their host was already doing plenty for them and did not want to burden his wife with cooking all the food that was required every night. David was now stumbling through broken Runasimi thanks to Ninan's help.

The number of people at the farm changed from day to day, but there were normally about fifteen men housed in the barn at any time. A couple of them were wary of David, and even those who weren't often silenced their conversations or changed topics when he approached. He didn't mind because he had not decided what he thought of the rebellion yet. If he did side with Mallqu after all, there was less he could incriminate these men with.

Lluqi encouraged David to improve his sword and archery skills also. David had some experience with them previously, but sword fighting was more of Mark's area. It had been ever since they had studied Shorin-Ryu in junior high. At the time David had decided a staff would be easier to find in any random fight, so it was the first weapon he had chosen. It was still his favorite, even if it hadn't helped much lately.

There were several spare swords and Lluki had given one of them to David. He explained that it had been issued to a soldier who was now dead. In order to better mask its origin while out in public, David was also given a travelers cloak. The sword gave him more reason to practice, and he found that he had improved quickly.

David finally sighed and sat up. The day would mark another change that he wasn't excited about. Change was always hard, but Lluqi did not like the idea of staying in one place for more than a few weeks. It gave time for rumors to get around of his location which made him and those with him into targets. David wasn't going with them but still felt it was his duty to help them finish the packing.

He needed to find Mark. Nearly three weeks had passed since their disappearance and people would be worrying about them soon. For that matter, he was worried about the two of them. Maybe with some understanding of the local language he could find another way back home. He hoped Mark was not wandering around too. It would take years for them to find each other.

After a final cheerful breakfast, the last of the cleanup and packing was done. David wore his cloak and had his sword strapped to his waist as he wished everyone well. Most of them said in their varied ways that they hoped he would find his friend. Ninan told him to be careful and, with that, the rebel fighters headed off over one of the farmer's grazing fields.

David was left with the farmer and his wife. The man always seemed to be content and happy with his place in life, which made it hard to imagine that he could harbor enemies of the government. Beneath that exterior was the story of a son who had been drafted into Mallqu's fighting force and had died in a battle to conquer new lands.

David thought it ironic that some cultures thrived on war while a few men, such as these rebels, were willing to go to war to stop it.

He thanked the farmer for his hospitality and then left by the road. He would need to go east, as it was the general direction of the lake where his simple hike had been changed into something so very different.

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