September 2008 »

The eggs and leftover bacon were not too bad. The bread that David ate with it was fresh compared to what he had eaten the night before. He was hurried because there were guards who were supposed to escort him somewhere else and they were grumpy over the siesta that they were going to miss.

David was tempted to push the boundaries that had been imposed on him. He resisted that desire because he didn't know what he hoped to accomplish by dealing meanly. He didn't even understand why he was in the situation he was in. A small part of him argued that he never would know until he asked questions some way or another. Unfortunately language was a big barrier.

The guards were growing more impatient so David finished off the water in his cup and grabbed another roll. He stuffed a couple pieces of bacon into it. "For the road," he told the guards even though they wouldn't understand it.

They allowed him to walk freely but without his walkingstick. They had not searched him or discovered the knife that was tucked under his belt, but they refused to return his staff. He thought that he would never understand these people.

It did not take long to pass out of the now quiet compound to the open road again. The breeze running through David's hair and the sun's rays on his face made him feel almost free. He laughed briefly and the guards looked at him curiously.

The two of them had introduced themselves as Raymi and Wallpa. They were more professional than the last guards and did not talk as much. When they did, it seemed to be about the world immediately surrounding them. Occasionally a joke was cracked and David sensed it was about him more often than not.

As the afternoon progressed, they moved into hill country. Trees and boulders were scattered in various places, but the land was more open than it had been. Travelers in cloaks were not uncommon. The hoods were mostly thrown back and the fronts were unsecured to let out the heat. There were several pack animals in use. Some were using donkeys while others used large dogs.

David began to wonder where the donkeys came from. If the commerce with his own world had stopped hundreds of years before, then horses would not have been introduced to any of Latin America yet.

As they approached the top of a hill, they could see that two men were engaged in an animated discussion in the middle of the road. Just before the three of them passed, the two men turned to them as if to ask their opinion.

The guards tried to walk around and the tone of the one talking grew stern. Both men drew their swords and seemed to demand that something be handed over. David wished he had his walkingstick. With it he could have easily dispatched these two thieves even with their swords.

The guards drew their own swords in reply, but at that moment a band of about forty men emerged from behind various rocks on each side. Most had drawn bows while a few held swords. The two guards paused only for a moment before lunging at the man who had made the demand. His partner parried Wallpa's blow, and the leader took on Raymi.

The fray was fierce and probably kept the soldiers from getting shot. These men fought better than David had expected, but it didn't stop him from wanting to help even the odds. His best bet was a sword or bow from one of the men who had been hiding behind the rocks. Their bows were too small to be used as staffs, but they might still prove useful.

It didn't take long before some of the men came to take David. His fist flew into the jaw of the first to reach him. The next two tried to hold him back, but it was already too late. He was kneeling over the young man he had dazed and was trying to take his sword from its sheath. They were too close to use the bow. The sword refused to come out as fast as David had hoped and in the next moment he was peeled off by several men.

He fought them off with punches, shoves and kicks. Three men lay unconscious around him. He went for another, but somebody landed on his back and secured an arm tightly around his neck. He began to squeeze. Just as David tried to throw the man off, two more men grabbed him and held him upright. He fought furiously to dislodge them but was unable to this time.

The world around him began to fade...

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