Wednesday 18 February 2015

Nameless: The Deal

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Nessa slowly woke to the rhythmic beating of a drum and the smell of strange spices. As she slowly sat up she realized she was again in little more than rags but all her injuries were bandaged. To either side of her were her companions, still sleeping and also in the same state of undress. Just as she was thinking they were fortunate to be sheltered under a tent, the flaps opened and a middle aged woman with curly black hair and equally dark, piercing eyes entered, pausing in her stride as she saw Nessa sitting up.

"Feeling better?" she asked as she lightly walked, barefoot, to a nearby table - pouring water into a clay cup. Despite wearing colorful, silken clothes and a collection of bangles on her neck, arms and ankles, Nessa could count at least two small daggers poorly hidden behind them.

Nessa nodded, keeping quiet as she gulped down all the water in the cup offered to her.

"I am Drisana," the lady said with a friendly smile. "You are lucky your friends ran into an acquaintance of mine on in the wastes."

"Friends?" asked Nessa questioningly as she looked to Indas and her sister.

"According to Notaku, they were people you saved from the sewers and again at the soldier's camp. I understand they traded some nice pieces of equipment to pay for your well being and transport here. When you are feeling better, you can find some clothes in the chest behind you and take a walk around. I assure that you are quite safe here."

"And where exactly are we?"

Drisana smiled and pulled open the tent flaps fully. It took a moment for Nessa's eyes to adjust to the brightness outside, before realizing that she was seeing dozens upon dozens of colorful tents with people in all sorts of garb going about their business.

"Welcome to the Sand Market."

It was much later that day when Nessa was joined by the now recovered Nerith and Indas before the tent of the caravan mistress, the entrance of which was flanked by two heavily armored men. Nessa's earlier walk around the Sand Market had been had been uneventful, with little in the many stalls actually catching her interest. She was surprised by the number of visitors that came to purchase things in the middle of nowhere though, and equally surprised by the number of scimitar wielding guards patrolling the boundaries for desert creatures and trouble makers.

"Enter," came a singing, female voice from within and as the three of them stepped in they found themselves standing before the lady that had been checking on them in the tent, Drisana.

"Hello again," she said in a friendly tone. "Don't look so surprised, apart from being a healer I am also the mistress of this caravan. Thank you for accepting my summons. From what I've heard, I could use people with skills like yours - specifically in dealing with some bandits that have been troublesome as of late."

"What's in it for us?" questioned Nerith hesitantly. "You aren't going to turn us in are you?"

"My dear, if I wanted to do that you would already be back there right now. The wizard king is planning something big. Over the last few days he has been gathering his soldiers and recruiting many more for war. I believe he intends to purge the sands of all the slave villages as some show of might. As it stands, with all the villages divided and the lack of equipment to go around, it will be a massacre. Now I can't help unify them, but I can help supply them ... I have already instructed our craftsmen and artisans to build enough weapons and armor for an army. If you agree to deal with the two bandit groups I have in mind, and prove they are dealt with, then the equipment will be delivered wherever you wish."

"Why wouldn't you just supply the slaves regardless? You don't sound like you would just abandon them," said Nerith.

"I don't want to but our traditions are that of trade, not of generosity. Either way, before that army moves this caravan will be crossing the ocean to safer ports of trade. If we happen to have a lot more equipment to sell purely depends on your decision."

"What makes you think we even care about all this?" asked Nessa coldly, much to the chagrin of her companions. "We just want to be free."

Drisana just smiled back at her and then looked to the other two women.

"We'll do it!" exclaimed Nerith finally, giving her sister a challenging stare. Indas nodded her silent approval. "It's what Ash would have done. You don't have to come, Ness."

"But she will," spoke Drisana unexpectedly. "Because you are her sister, and because she wants to keep you safe."

"What she said," grumbled Nessa.

"Then we have a deal," smiled Drisana as she bowed ever so slightly.

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