Mankayo stared at the newcomers in awe. They were witches, they had to be to have tamed the beasts that they rode and led by ropes. They were beautiful animals, but he had only seen herds of them running in the North Country. To him, they symbolized the very meaning of power.
The people upon the mounts were cloaked in white robes with hoods that hid their faces in shadow. The man held a weapon he had never seen, but some of the elders had told stories about for many years. He thought they had been dead and buried with the rest of the old world during the storms caused during the chaos. However, the sun reflected off the black steel, it was evidently not true. The Man shifted his weapon to relay to Mankayo what he wanted him to do. Mankayo jumped from the fence and made his way to the rest of his men.
The young woman slid off her mount and left it to graze with the others. She silently joined her companion holding the exploration party at rifle point. Mankayo noticed she had a young, sleeping child wrapped tightly in a multicolored blanket in a carrying device on her back. He could sense his men getting restless. He again held up his hand to quiet them. “We mean you no harm. I am Mankayo, Prince of the Land Dwelling clan; Clarita. We are an exploration party, not a warrior party, nor are we here to coven any of your belongings.”
“We came from the forest, and saw you in the pen, chasing our livestock. Yet you claim you are not here to steal.” The man’s voice was quiet, but accusatory. “Your actions are out of step with your words.” A dog joined the couple, with a bushy coat, intense blue eyes, and a mane around his face. His snout was short and snubby. He studied the newcomers with a wary eye, and haunches up. The woman placed a hand on his head and spoke softly to him. The animal leaned into her touch, his tail wagging.
Mankayo’s men fell to their knees and begged for these strange beings to spare them. Mankayo spoke harshly to them. Then he turned back to the couple. “What are you that you can have such control over beasts and use such powerful weapons?” He demanded. “Release us, and let us be on our way, my men have no fight with you. I am the one that trespassed on your property. Take me and let them return home.”
“If you are not here to steal, then what is your mission?” The man demanded.
Mankayo and Balam exchanged glances. Mankayo took a breath and blew it out. “Who are your people? Where does your loyalty lay? Our mission is of the highest rank, and I cannot share it unless I know you will not stand in our way.”
The couple looked at each other, and then he turned to Mankayo. “Our loyalty is to each other. Our people are far from here. That’s all you need to know.”
Mankayo rose a brow. “Can you show your face? Give me the good will of at least letting me see who I am talking to?”
The man slipped his hood down behind his head. Mankayo sighed. The man was not what he expected. He was tall, his skin a toss between a copper and a beige. His hair was raven black and pulled back into a single tail that disappeared between his robe and some kind of suede shirt. His eyes were so deeply dark that they pierced his soul. “My name is Langundo Goldring.” He pointed to his wife as she did the same. Mankayo noticed that she was easily not from the same clan as her husband. Her skin was shades darker than his. “This is my wife, Tiva,”
“We are on a mission of recovery,” Mankayo said, “The Sea Clan Aura has been attacked.”
An expression of concern came over Tiva’s face, tears filled her eyes. “Lyber?”
Mantakayo’s head snapped back toward her. “Yes. Our mission is to search for survivors. I am leader of Rebellis. We are trying to stop him.”
The couple relaxed their hold on the weapons. Languendo offered his hand. “Tiva and I are traders. I am former member of the Elitis Clan Mullhollan, and my wife is Sea Clan Orion. Welcome to our home. Forgive our earlier actions. It is not only the Land Dwellers and Sea Dwellers that have reason to fear Lyber and his warriors. He has been killing traders and their families. If you are willing to fight him, the least we can do is offer you a warm meal and quarters for the night. My wife put on a stew to cook earlier. Please come in.”
Balam eyed the strange group of animals and people. He dragged Mankayo back. “No, Prince, you must not let them bewitch you!” He raised his spear to place a border between Rebellis and the strangers. Tiva raised her gun again with lightening speed straight at Balam.
“There will be no more violence tonight!” Mankayo barked, putting his hand on the arrow.
Languado put his hand on the barrel of his wife’s rifle. His eyes sought out Balam’s. “We are not witches. However, you would not be the first to think that. That may be what has kept us off of Lyber’s kill list.” He advanced toward Balam, and placed himself between the barrel of the rifle and the point of the arrow. “It is simply communication secrets that have been handed down from our ancestors to generations of young people that have carried on the traditions. We are a dying breed, but we have always been one with the creatures of mother earth. We take care of them, they take care of us. It’s as simple as that. Please, we mean you no harm.” He put his hand on top of of Mankayo’s to show a gesture of friendship. “We are not at war with each other, we have a common enemy to defeat, and I’d rather do it with a trust between us.
Balam let his spear slowly lower to the ground. “Thank you.”
Languando was a trader not a warrior, but if they must join alliances with someone, he would rather it be with Rebellis. He turned his attention to Mankayo. “Mankayo, you and your men can set yourselves up in the barn, or you can set up camp here by the cabin, but we’re going to settle the animals and Innana down for the evening, and unload the pack horses. Then we’ll eat our meal by the fire.”
He turned to his wife and nodded, then left the group to go make the preparations. Mankayo left Balam in charge of getting camp set up and went to help Languando with the animals.
When Mankayo reached the barn, Languano was talking and soothing the animals, as he brushed down the horses. The animals seemed to relax under his touch. Then he pulled some hay from a bale in a hay pile and tossed it into a wooden hay feeder he had installed.
“You seem to know a lot about these beasts.” Mankayo commented.
Languando glanced his way and smiled. “As I said, we kept traditions flowing from generation to generation.”
“Your home seems to be far advanced from other clans on these lands.”
Languando paused in removing another bridle from a pack horse. “My knowledge comes in a large part from the Mulhollen Elitists. Their land has remained almost unscathed by the “Disasters.” They became a clan and have passed their knowledge down from one group to another. They have books by which they taught their children the arts of Equine, mechanics, weaponry, technology, and even space travel as well as knowledge of so much more territory than you can imagine. They have dreams of becoming the largest clan in this world.” He sighed. “But my people had one downfall, they would not share their knowledge with other clans. They thought it was too powerful for people like you and my wife’s people to handle without guidance.
However, I met my wife, and they would not accept her, so we left the clan to start our own. We now call ourselves Of the Orion The Elitist Clan. We carry the names of both our clans, but we do not let one clan rule over the other. We are simple traders. If you need something, we will try to get it for you. We trade food, clothing, yes and weaponry as well. Our children will have an identity, and maybe when the war of the clans is over, we can become of one people, and show the love that we are meant to show to each other.”
“How does one request weaponry. Where does it come from?”
“Before the world’s destruction, there was a highly skilled people in defense, called Military, and they lived on a closed community called a military base. On that base, locked away was many weapons. In this large territory, there are five of them, and many elitists raided them and captured the weapons during the chaos. After the “Destruction,” they put them in caves they called bunkers. When they arrived, many of the bases were broken down, and easy to breach. Many died on both sides, but many military people were already dead from the consequences of the “Disasters.” The weaponry was easy to access. They have the bulk of supplies. But I only need several days worth of travels, across very treacherous land and I can get more.”
“How do you know this information?”
“As I said before, I am an Elitist by birth, much of the history of this world is still kept in territories like Mullhollen.”
“You had all that, and you chose to leave for a woman?”
He shrugged and started cleaning the stable again. “She was the soul of my soul. The Elitists main motivation is hatred and conquering, same as Lyber. There is a danger of Lyber finding his way to them and joining them.”
“Lyber is a criminal, he was brought here for his evil doings, not because of his hate.”
“What were his crimes?”
“He was a thief of goods and weaponry.”
“Sounds pretty parallel to me.” He closed up the last stable gate, and the animals went out into the gated area to graze. “Please come with me. It is almost time to share our meal.”
Mankayo watched the animals run about in the arena and smiled. Yes, this might be a very profitable relationship after all. He followed Languano out of the barn.