In what’s now referred to as the sixth year of the Anonassi War (AW6), the Rostov Clan suggested that the group pool their resources to fight the Anonassi.
Here’s a story about the three Clans…
They entered the Lost Lands as soon as they could. Because of the vagaries of timing, and because no human really had control over any of the portals, this meant that the team all entered at different places up and down the course of the River of Souls. The runners from the Falling Rock tribe collected them, bringing them to the tribe’s camp where they could rendezvous.
Sandra ran her hand along the barrel of her gun, rubbing the bronze fittings. It was her pre-raid ritual, the thing that made her feel safest and most in control. They all had something similar that they did for luck, whether it was as simple as stroking a weapon or as complex as Carmine’s series of prayers and hand gestures. She had learned a long time ago not to interrupt his little religious observances before the raid.
Koura, one of the youngest Falling Rock runners, came into the reptile-hide tent where the three assembled members of the team were resting. Sandra, Carmine and Luis all looked up expectantly when she pushed the flap aside and joined them.
“Another comes,” she said. “A woman.”
“Ah!” Luis said. “Teresa.”
Carmine nodded, pleased. “Good. We are gathering quickly. God is smiling on us.”
Koura looked at him strangely but said nothing. The Falling Rock people were distrustful of gods from outside their realm. “Keep the God talk quiet,” Sandra advised Carmine. “You’re making people nervous.”
She expected him to argue, but instead he fell silent. She nodded, satisfied.
A few minutes later, Teresa joined them, her black hair braided into a long plait down her back. She had a crossbow, and a quiver of incendiary arrows was strapped to her thigh. She knelt beside Sandra with a smile.
“Good to see you,” she said as they shook hands.
“Likewise. Did you see Blake?”
“He’s coming,” she nodded. “I saw him on the other side of the camp.”
She waited until their last team mate arrived, and then she drew a squiggling line in the sand. “This is the River of Souls.” She punched her finger into the sand, making a dot. “This is the camp where we are now.” She scribbled her finger through the sand on the far side of the line representing the river. “This is the mountain ridge, and here’s the pass. We’re going to go through that pass and link up with Andre Rostov, who’s been here for a few days with the Shadow Runners. Once we meet him, we’ll continue on to this point.” She jabbed another divot into the ground. “That’s the slave pit where they have them splitting stones, useless as that is.”
“Yeah,” Luis said. “Why do they make them cut docks, anyway?”
Koura answered. “It builds their muscle and keeps them busy during the day.”
“Why do they want them to build muscle?” Luis asked, obtusely.
Koura looked at him with something like pity on her face. “Muscle is meat.”
They were quiet for a moment, then Teresa said, “Okay, that’s disgusting.”
Sandra smiled wryly and sat back. “Andre and his scouts will have intel about the guards and the number of slaves there. We can only hit one pit at a time. I figure we can get the humans there out of danger, but once the Anonassi know we’re raiding, they’ll close ranks, and the others will be out of reach. We’ll have to come back for them later.”
Carmine mused, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could bring a whole army here? Maybe then we could rescue everybody at once and kill these bastards once and for all.”
Teresa nodded. “Until we can control the portals, that’s not going to happen… unless we can train up the tribes.”
Once again, Koura spoke. “We are ready to fight. At the next Rivermeet, we will talk among ourselves about arming against the enemy.” She looked at Teresa. “My father and your father will meet.”
Carmine shook his head. “No offense, but if the tribes here were going to be any good at fighting, they’d already be doing it.”
“Falling Rock are fighting,” Koura said, aggrieved. “Am I not here? Am I not leading you through the mountains?”
Sandra put up a hand, and Carmine bit back on what he’d been preparing to say. “We know that the Falling Rock and the Shadow Runners are our allies, and that you fight the best we can. We will be attending the next Rivermeet, and we’ll talk then. There is much more that we all can do. All of us, Carmine.”
He looked away. “If you say so.”
Blake finally spoke up, the first thing he’d said since he’d joined them. “So…when do we leave?”
She looked over her team. They were all armed, all rested, all ready. She nodded. “We leave now.” She rose and looked at Koura. “Lead the way…”