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Plot Twists

caravan route

Two days after the full moon in the month of Quickening the skies filled with clouds and large flakes of wet snow began to fall in earnest just before sunset. To the surprise of most travelers, who viewed the sudden snow, on top of the weeks of bitter cold, as a bad omen at best, the caravan masters began chivvying their crews into place, packing up their accommodations and giving every indication of imminent departure.

"Won't the snow just make the passes worse?" asked Frisket Amseti. Her background included very little in the way of cold weather knowledge.

"No, no, most high mistress," her caravan master assured her. "The wet snow indicates that the weather has broken. We will start tomorrow, or the day after, for the honorable Lord Prince Kadis has claimed the right of first passage, and by the time we have reached the slopes of the mountains, the warm air will have melted away the high snows.

"We must be careful of meltwaters rushing down in certain places, but the road will be open." He salaamed his way out of her tent and continued his frenetic preparations which consisted mostly of shouting commands and insults to his camel herders and the women in charge of the baggage.

All over the small valley that sprawled with tent cities similar activities were taking place.

"You must be ready to leave tomorrow, probably in the late day," said Brigitte ap Fanwyn's caravan master. "We will be as close to the Prince as we can be, but some hours behind." He shrugged regretfully.

"Unless you have more money for making bribes, perhaps," he added with a sly look and a suggestive rub of his thumb across his finger tips.

In the great caravanserai where the warriors and fighters have been drinking and gambling to pass the time, often betting and losing wages they do not even have yet, the caravan masters and their second in commands were busy selecting the last few additions to their entourages.

"You! Yes, you with the long hair. Can you use that sword or is it just a substitute for a manhood you don't have?" cried a large Nubian to Varik of Asgard. The black man was armed with a huge cudgel and wore many scars on his face. It took the northerner a long moment to realize that the man was even speaking Aquilonian, his accent was so bad, but then he understood the question. Was he being offered a position or being taunted for a fight?