« October 2008  

After lunch was over, Huksonjo took David to a grassy knoll near a creek and began to explain the situation of the country. David really wished that he understood more of the language.

From what he did understand, with a lot of help from questions and gestures, Huksonjo had become the equivalent of a local police officer for his village. Mallqu had recently incorporated the various local enforcement groups into his military.

That isn't so bad, thought David. It would make sure that the laws are more uniform across the board. His mind suddenly made the connection with the highway thief. Huksonjo was rebelling against the authority of the king!

David's mind reeled as he tried to think about any abuses, but he hadn't heard anything bad about Mallqu so far. The two men drinking corn beer at the hotel came to mind. Was that it? A little inconvenience was enough reason to conspire against a king?

Mark would have complained about that line of thought, but it was something they disagreed on occasionally anyway. He would have argued that a business man needed to know how much his operating expenses would be.

David mused that if that businessman couldn't appreciate the work these soldiers did to keep everyone safe, he deserved to have some of it taken for their use. He wasn't able to argue this very well with Huksonjo, so instead he continued to listen.

It seemed that Huksonjo's village had paid him themselves before, but now they were being taxed by Mallqu and then some of the money was sent back to pay him and the others.

To David, that still sounded fair. They obviously needed couriers or runners to get news around. Those men had to be paid somehow. Huksonjo continued.

As the army was built up, Mallqu had decided to expand his kingdom. Many of the men who had simply been keepers of the law before were now forced to fight on the borders in order to claim new lands. Huksonjo was one of the lucky few who had not been assigned for that purpose yet. He thought that the recent work with the well had postponed it.

He also thought that Mallqu wanted to use the well to invade David's own land.

The thought almost made David laugh. The idea of swords and bows attacking a land with airplanes, missiles, and grenades was hilarious. Then he thought about it from the view of somebody who would be in that battle. It would be a slaughter.

The situation David found himself in suddenly became even stickier than he had ever imagined. It only made sense that Mallqu would want intelligence on the land he was trying to invade, so if the wrong person discovered where he was from it could give the king a known target to aim for. To make matters worse, if what Huksonjo said was true, it was possible that Mallqu had activated the well in the first place. He realized that the way home probably lay with this king.

It wasn't possible for Huksonjo to take David back to his own village since he would have been recognized by the other villagers. Huksonjo left mid-afternoon to get back from "the big city" by evening, so David was left in the care of Lluqiyupanki. He was the highway thief and was also the general leader for the region. Thankfully he let David call him "Lluqi."

David was given as much freedom as the other men. It seemed that Huksonjo held a lot of sway and that his trust went a long ways.

A couple hours later David helped the five remaining men to break down the pavilions and packed them on to narrow dog carts. The size of the folded material made David glad that the tent in his backpack, wherever it was, was not as bulky. The carts were unstable, but necessary for the terrain that they hiked over.

Before nightfall they arrived at a small farm. The men made a bee line for a barn-like structure that turned out to be mostly empty. It still smelled like it had held animals, but the food and cots more than made up for it. David's cot that night was a welcome change for him. It was much better than the one in the prison cell or the tree branches he had been using since.

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