On the horizon were two figures riding camels. But it was unlikely anybody would mistake them for locals: even at a distance, one could tell the camels were Asian two-humped bactrians, not the single-humped dromedaries of the Middle East. And as one looked closer, it became abundantly clear the two riders were from a very different time and place.
The first camel-rider was a short, lean, sinewy man with skin the color and texture of tanned leather. His fading black hair was worn long and tied into a tangle of crude braids decorated with purple glass beads, and his face bore the marks of having been broken, slashed, and otherwise rearranged many times. Somehow, though, his appearance managed to remain oddly endearing
. His left eye was grey, while his right, marked by a scar, was a blind, milky white. His iron diadem, decorated with amethysts and large, iridescent purple feathers, was a clear symbol of authority, but the rest of his clothing suggested he was more at home in an army tent than a throne room: pants of undyed linen, a steel lamellar cuirass, a padded undershirt, a leather quiver full of bronze-headed arrows, and unusually thick riding boots. Attached to his camel’s saddle was a bow ideal for mounted archery, and a steel sword that appeared to be some relative of a scimitar.
From a saddle bag, the feather-crowned man pulled a bronze spyglass and, putting it to his good eye, did his best to make out the figures in the distance. “Looks like a tomb-raiding operation.” Obliviously passing over the gun-toting guards, he added, “poorly armed, as far as I can tell. Not so much as a single spear or bow among them.” Again examining the guns, he said, “just some great, big, ugly clubs, unless they’ve got a surprise somewhere. If only we had some soldiers here... but for now, I say we leave them be.”
His companion was a tan, grey-eyed, effeminately handsome
young man. He looked to be fifteen, but had a tall, wiry build, and the eyes and posture of somebody who had already become an adult by necessity. His hair was jet black, well-combed, and reached almost to his waist. He was dressed similarly to his companion, but more humbly: he wore sandals instead of boots, his diadem was smaller, unfeathered, and decorated with blue glass instead of amethysts, his pants were of rougher linen, his shirt was sleeved to the elbows, and his the scales of his cuirass were made of hardened leather. Tied to his camel was a sheathed bronze glaive akin to a naginata, and poking out of one of his pockets was a leather sling. “Er, Okul,” he said, “we ain’t got much left in the way of water, and no idea where we are. Might be smartest to see if they might be up for some trade, ‘less they’re slavers. But ain’t likely — city dwellers are superstitious about disturbing tombs. Hopefully they’ve got a sense for hospitality... but even if’n they’re cheap as Yoth, I think we’ve got a few baubles to spare that’ll get us fed. What’re we lookin’ at?”
Okul shrugged and handed the younger man the spyglass. “I don’t know have the slightest idea what I’m seeing, honestly. Look for yourself, Amu. See anything you recognize from one of those books?”
Amu peered through the spyglass, then shook his head. “Er... I got nothin’. No tribe I’ve ever seen or read ‘bout.” Then, returning the spyglass to Okul, he added, “that just makes me curious, though. We oughta see who they are, what they are. Might be able to buy or swipe us something nice. Y’know how those caravans get for weird stuff they ain’t seen before!”
Okul put the spyglass back in its saddlebag and said, “I do not like greeting strange tribes without at least a small army behind me... but very well. Possibly dying at the hands of an unknown culture beats certain death by dehydration.” Then he glanced up and, suddenly turning pale, added, “er, Amu... the sun is wrong.”
Amu looked at Okul, then up at the sun. “Yeah,” he said, with a gulp, “it shouldn’t be that color. I think we might be a bit more lost than we thought”
Okul just muttered, “just remember, trusting a Transcendent One to give us directions was also your idea.”
With that, the pair had their camels make their way to the camp, Okul leading and Amu following behind.
Yes, the spyglass would be anachronistic by Earth’s Technology Levels. There’s a reason for this, but don’t expect Amu or Okul to help much since they stole it. And this is Amu from before his Start of Darkness. Neither he nor Okul have any magic or other supernatural powers.
edited 13th Oct '12 9:01:40 AM by KillerClowns