Fara yawned, covering her mouth with the hand that wasn’t holding a telescope. She’d been watching the slow approach of the wagon train along the road for the better part of an hour - Fortagenta was flat as a board, and from her vantage point she could see for miles in every direction.
There were nearly a dozen wagons, each pulled by four tired-looking oxen. Most of them were open to the elements, and she could tell they contained miserable looking passengers. Human passengers, in mud-coloured tunics for the most part. Also in each wagon sat two soldiers in chain, wearing dark coloured surcotes and exotic-looking helmets. Travelers from the Iron Confederacy.
Fara was a little concerned about why they seemed to be transporting people, though. She fervently hoped there was not going to be any sort of international incident on her watch.
She scrambled down the ladder from the watchtower, and collected two more soldiers to accompany her, then walked out along the road to meet the newcomers. Ahead of the slow-moving wagons marched a man and a woman, deep in conversation. Where the soldiers wore simple chain and undecorated surcotes, both of these travelers wore find chain infused with weltsilver, and their surcotes were beautifully embroidered with what looked to be the heads of birds. Ravens, or crows. Both wore the marks of naga lineage.
The man actually waved when he saw Fara approaching.
They met up a few hundred yards from the farm. Pleasantries were exchanged. The two Suranni appeared relaxed, unconcerned. Both were armed - he with a pair of vicious looking short stabbing blades at his side, she with a heavy great hammer slung over her shoulder. A bec de corbin, with a literal crows-head.
After the initial greeting, Fara got straight to the point. She pointed to the wagons.
“What’s in the wagons then?”
The woman spoke. “Slaves,” she said easily. “Imperial slaves.”
Fara opened her mouth to say something explosive and the male Suranni shook his head exasperated and rolled his slit-pupil eyes. “Forgive my companion, she is being whimsical. It would be fairer to say they are ex-slaves. Each of these is someone who could make a credible claim to be from the Empire, enslaved by mistake. It’s unfortunate but sometimes people who would otherwise be our friends end up in the mines, or working in someone’s kitchen. As we agreed with your ambassador, we are returning them to the bosoms of their families. Free, without charge. Each one can name all seven of your “virtues” and swore convincingly that they are of Imperial blood.”
Fara shut her mouth again and raised her eyebrows.
“What are you going to do with them?”
The Suranni woman smiled broadly showing sharp fangs.
“As far as we understand your law, they were free the moment we crossed out of the Kalino hills. We are simply giving them a ride as far as the port of Bramar. Once they get there … they are no longer our problem.”
The first of the wagons came level with the conversation, and Fara watched as it moved slowly past. None of the slaves in the wagons looked at her as they passed. They looked worn-out, broken, shattered by lives of hard work and little food.
She felt angry, and turned around to give the Suranni a piece of her mind.
“You should think before you speak,” hissed the naga woman, all pretense of good humour gone. “Your people know that our mines and fields are worked by slaves, yet they still welcome our goods and our coin. We, at least, are not hypocrites. Can you tell me that when we reach Dramar nobody there will sell me a bottle of wine because of this?”
She jerked her head at the wagon. Fara said nothing.
“We are keeping to the spirit of our agreement with your ambassador,” said the man, more evenly. “Even though the Empire has seen fit to refuse our offer of a treaty. Now that we have a border with your Feroz, there was no reason not to deliver the first of the freed slaves ourselves. After all, it seemed like the neighbourly thing to do.”
All smiles again, the Suranni asked if there would be anything else. Fara shook her head, and watched them walk past and continue on along the road beside the wagons.
Almost done now. The Iron Confederacy have delivered nearly a hundred slaves to Bramar in the Freeborn terrtiory of Feroz … and simply dropped them off. Apparently this was part of an agreement with the Iron Confederacy … an agreement they are quick to point out that the Senate appears to have refused to ratify for some reason.
You can learn more about this development here → profounddecisions.co.uk/empi … _to_Bramar
This picture came from flickr.com/photos/imageme/3189274533 I put a border round it.
#neeeeeearlydoneandthenIcangetsomesleep, #theSuranniarelovelypeopleandnowtheyreyourneighbours, #gosixmaidensandadwarf