The colonists had spent the few days since their arrival building log
huts, since it
would be many years before Castle D'Honaire could be rebuilt and they
quickly. Over the coming months, the huts would gradually be replaced by
more comfortable buildings.
Even a log hut is a big improvement over living in a covered wagon, though, Astra thinks as she sits and relaxes. The babies are all soundly asleep at last. She wonders how much longer Fred and Synizn will take with the poor centaur, for darkness fell a good hour ago. Then she hears a knock at the door. One of the other colonists wanting some advice about something or other, she assumes.
She opens the door, and is amazed to find a dwarf there. The dwarf carries a sword (which has the advantage over firearms of being silent), and she knows that the dagger in her belt would be useless in the face of such a weapon. Besides, there are more dwarfs behind the leader. Astra regrets that she doesn't keep a gun in her belt the whole time, like some of the colonists now do.
The dwarves' leader says in a low voice: "Come with us, and quietly - unless you want your throat to be cut." "But I can't leave my children. They aren't fully weaned yet and..." "Quiet, I said. They are coming with us as well." As he speaks, other dwarves have entered the room, and they place the babies into carry-cots. Fortunately none of the babies wakes, for who knows how the dwarves would have reacted had one or more of them made a noise.
Astra is hustled away from the settlement. Fred's and her hut is a little way apart from the others, as befits their rank, and in any case no-one is about. After travelling a mile or so, they are met by an orc, who judging by his head-gear Astra guesses is a shaman. He casts a spell on the party that Astra assumes is intended to prevent their being magically tracked. Dwarves and an orc? That is a strange alliance, she thinks.
Mule-drawn carts are also waiting, for even dwarves would tire eventually if forced to carry the babies over many miles. Astra and her babies are put into the back of one of the carts, and they resume their journey. There is no need to keep a guard on Astra, for while she might escape on her own there is no way that she could take seven babies with her. However, either her captors haven't thought of that or they are taking no chances, for one of the dwarfs sits in the back of the cart with her. Her dagger has been confiscated, of course.
1/23/2000 1:29:02 PM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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