Some Assembly Required

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The clang of iron landing on top of iron woke David as the wagon shivered slightly. The rain droplets that had lulled him to sleep were no longer falling. He tried to sit up but found that the sword he wore had slipped between the boards that made the wagon's bench seat. The blade declared his status as a free man but he considered it to be a nuisance. David freed himself and jumped down to the ground.

Mark informed him that Mayta had finished. The parts were finally ready for them to assemble into their first wagon.

David nodded and disappeared into the modest stable. If he had replied, his voice would have given away that he had fallen asleep. That may have been obvious anyway, but he wasn't going to admit to it.

He returned a few moments later, leading the ox and the two of them began to secure the cart. While they worked, David asked "How long do you expect it to take us to sell the seven we need to make the down payment?"

"If we can get this put together today, we'll have tomorrow and the next day. That will have to be enough time."

"We could probably push it out another day if we needed to." He paused. "Or do you think three days would be too long for Auk'a to wait?"

"We need to aim for five every day to meet the quota Ch'uya set."

They were finally ready to leave. The conversation paused while Mark thanked Mayta and said that he would be back with more charcoal and, hopefully, more work that needed to be completed.

Once they were on the road home, David opted to walk beside Mark and the ox. He commented that if they could sell so many each day that it would easily allow them to pay Auk'a the initial amount on time. He hoped they could do it.

"You need to think more like a salesperson," said Mark in jest.

"Yeah, try selling cars to five people every day."

"Ch'uya didn't say how much we had to sell all 35 wagons for."

"You know, that's a good idea. I'll tell everyone that three gold pieces is the sale price."

"That wasn't quite how I meant it," intoned Mark.

"How do you tell them something is a special introductory price? Somehow I think it would tax even Ynti's ability to figure out what we are trying to say. 'Sale' is easier."

Mark grunted. "Fine."

"I talked to SaƱi for a while before Auk'a got up."

"Yeah? Figured you would."

"How long ago was her husband executed?"

"It has been almost a month -- happened just before we got here."

"That's what it sounded like. You said she was in the same pit you were held in? She must have been bawling something fierce. I'm surprised you were willing to talk to her again."

"No, she was one of the few who tried to make the best of her situation. I don't know how she managed it."

"Well then, I'll try not to tease you anymore about her for now."

Mark chuckled. "Thanks."

By the time that they arrived at Chuya's farm, the rain clouds were beginning to break. David's clothes were still wet but he went with Mark to begin the assembly immediately. While he worked, he did set aside his cloak, sword and shirt. He said that he felt a light chill because of it but they impeded his ability to work.

They did succeed in finishing their wagon without too much difficulty. Throughout the afternoon, Mark joked a couple times that David, in his jeans and tennis shoes, was going to attract another group of those strange trees he had encountered the first day. He said they really had a claim against him now that he had made walking sticks from some of their branches.

Little did he know how true that was. With the wagon completed and evening nearing, David opted to go for a walk through the woods on the property. He was tired but wanted to think about sales pitches again. As he walked, he came upon a single tree that held itself rigidly straight. It was the same kind that had tried to hold him captive three weeks earlier.

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