Okay, so where were we? Oh, fully! My drink! Shoot. No, it’s fine. I got it. Okay…so, Bren and I head out to the camp where the men are. I said that bit already, didn’t I?
Yeah, so Bren starts to tell me about how they are on this super-secret mission to Crewda. The people of Crewda are mostly shepherds. They have all kinds of livestock, and they are nomadic. Well, as you know here in Arden, there are primarily farmers like my dear father. Every fall when the harvest would come in, the Crewdians would move their flocks along the river. They’d just be there all day staring at us. Then at night, they’d drive the herds across to plunder our fields!
Okay, well, not “my” fields, but our neighbors who were closer to the river. So Ramoth had sent out these men to go over there and make a few casual threats to the Crewdians. Nothing terrible, just keep to yourselves or there won’t be any more of you.
Still, you could imagine my surprise to see men in royal guard uniforms. They usually didn’t leave the castle, but there they were, and they stuck out like a sore thumb. The guy Ramoth’d put in charge had never been a captain of any kind before. From what I could gather, he had upset Ramoth, and so Ramoth told him that if he could settle this conflict, he would forget the matter and make him a royal captain, permanently. His armor was mismatched and did not fit him at all. I guess I can’t say much, seeing as I only had my father’s ax. Meanwhile, the Crewdians were rugged people living in tents and fighting off wolves. So, I took one look at him and thought, “We are all going to die!”.
So, with no hope in me, I took Bren up on his offer to sample some of the local libations he had procured. We drank all night! It was amazing! The whole troupe joined us, and so I got to know them all a bit better, though again, I figured they were all good as dead, so remembering their names didn’t seem that important.
Back then, Captain was the serious type: you know like that guy who is quiet and always seems to be planning ten steps ahead. Almost like he was playing Tikii all day, every day. Captain had a drink, and it didn’t phase him. We kept handing them off to him, and he just kept taking them. Soon we were all drunk, but Captain remained as sober as ever. Maybe we would make it through this, after all!
I finally got the nerve to ask him what he had done to cheese off Ramoth. Do you know what he said? He said, “I dared to touch the hem of her skirt.” What did that mean? At the time, I didn’t get any further because Captain refused to say anymore. Cool as could be he got up and went to bed: told the lot of us that we ought to do the same.
It wasn’t that I shouldn’t have obeyed; it was just that Bren and I started to get in our minds that we should go down to the river to give those Crewdians a firm warning that we would not put up with their shenanigans. At the time, we felt like we could do anything! So we headed off to the river, but when we got there, no one was around. So, we went for a swim instead.
At least I think that is what happened. In the morning, when we woke up, there was this ruckus. The others had caught up to us and were laughing hysterically! There we were, the two of us passed out on the shore, soaking wet without any memory of how it’d happened. They were teasing us something awful because of our dire estate. That was when I noticed one of them had my ax and another my shoes. It wasn’t that we were naked! We weren’t! We both had a good inch of mud covering us!
Captain was so… mad. I was going to say “mad”! See? I am getting better. Before we could join the others, we had to get washed up. The water was fully freezing, and the whole time the guys are razzing us, but I kept my cool. You know me. It didn’t bother me at all! I certainly didn’t yell anything back to them. That is not me at all. Once we were presentable, we crossed the river and headed into Crewda. We were looking for one of the campsites the Crewdians used.
It did not take us long. We just followed a small herd of sheep, and there they were. They greet one another in a strange way. You put out your hand, and you take their hand and say, “Minas Suto!” which means, “Here I am” or “Here is me.” Captain goes up to their leader and takes his hand like he has been doing it his whole life! The rest of us stayed back a bit, just pumping out our chests. Wait, pumping? Pushing? Whatever.
In any case, their leader is impressed! The two of them sit down and start to chat. They bring us scruffy guys some food too, so we sat down and after a while, we start joking and just having a good time.
It turns out these guys are okay, and their women… well, they were the perfect combination of strong and beautiful! One kept looking at me, Ayika was her name, and I just smiled back. She’d put her hand on my knee and smile her big, warm smile! Never you mind, though! No one is going to tie this man down! I still think about her sometimes. Her eyes flashed like onyx, but she was probably too old for me anyway! We start to chat as best we can and I see there is a lot of opportunity for trade between us if we can get this dispute settled. I mean, we both have something the other wants, right? I mean livestock and produce, Anny! Get your mind out of the gutter!
So, we get done, and Captain tells me it is time to go. It was a sad goodbye! On the way back, I asked him what the deal was, and he says that he told them they had to stay on their side of the river. They insisted they could not stop the flocks from crossing over. So, they had agreed that the herds could cross over, but only once every ten days. Apparently, the sheep found this acceptable. Sheep can be very accommodating. Have you ever seen a baby sheep? Well, yes, then you get it. So cute!
The guys and I are wondering, though, if Ramoth will accept this bargain. Do you know what Captain said to me? He said that it would not matter. He would tell Ramoth that they had agreed to keep out, and by the time ten days had gone by, he would already be officially a Captain anyway. Now that is a clever trick. After that, whenever the report came that the Crewdians had crossed the river, Captain would just tell Ramoth that he would “take care of it” when really he didn’t have to do anything because they wouldn’t be back for another ten or so days.
And that is exactly what happened when we got back to Pent, but you will have to refill my drink if you want to hear more about that!
Click here for Part 3