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Episode 6 Part 9

By:  Lenady

The elder paused and then started coughing, breaking the spell that the tale had seemingly cast over the entire group. The air in the cave was still not completely clear, with dust and sand still flying around, free to make their way into anyone’s eyes or lungs. It was only now though, after the story had ended, that Tilly remembered this. After a moment the elder was able to breathe again and looked towards Sanrook.

“So will you help us?” He asked, pleading entering the tone of his question.

The silence was almost tangible. Tilly looked from the elder to Sanrook and then back again. The two were staring intently at each other, yet it was nearly impossible to tell what thoughts were running through either mind. Neither looked as if they wanted to attack the other, or in the case of the elder send someone in to attack, but the tension was definitely there. Not a person in the room moved, all fixing their gaze towards the small standoff that was going on between Sanrook and the elder.

After a minute or two of silence Sanrook broke the silence that had engulfed them all. “We can help,” She said, “With a few conditions”.

The latter part of the statement was added quickly as the elders face had broken into a grin, afterwards it moved back towards the near scowl that had occupied his face prior to her offer.

“We are really very simple people. I don’t know what you could possibly want from us” he said, hesitantly. “And I don’t know if we can offer what you are requesting”.

Sanrook looked around the group for a few seconds, then turned back to the elder. “Okay, first condition. I can help you fix this stuff up, or at least some of it; a lot of the stuff back there in your junk pile is just that, junk. It stopped being fixable a long time ago. Mineral deposits and such can do that to machinery. However, you do realize that even if I do fix this stuff something’ll just break on you all over again in a few years, and I won’t be around to fix it for you.”

The elder nodded, “so what is going to stop us from simply making sure that you don’t leave?”

Sanrook paused, then laughed loudly, pointing towards the rubble behind them. “You really want to keep me around for that long? And anyway, wouldn’t it be easier just to be able to fix the stuff yourself. I don’t know how long you guys live, but I’m not gonna’ be here forever.”

The elder, whose face had paled considerably at the mention of the state of the city, once again nodded, eagerness entering into his expressions, “So you can teach us then?”

Sanrook held up one finger, “Remember, condition number one. I will show one person here how to fix your stuff. And I get to pick the guy”. Sanrook turned to Tilly suddenly, who jumped slightly, being taken off guard. Sanrook didn’t seem to notice and asked her, “Who do you think? Any ideas?”

Tilly paused for a moment, then looked up at the crowd trying to find a particular face. It was somewhat difficult, but she managed to pick Smiley out of the crowd. He caught her look and grinned, waving at her a bit to the irritation and confusion of the people standing next to him. She smiled back. She didn’t know if he would have the necessary skills for what Sanrook needed, but he had treated her kindly. “Him,” she told Sanrook, pointing Smiley out for her.

Sanrook looked at Smiley as well, and his expression changed from grinning, to confusion and uncertainty. After all, he didn’t have a translator, and thus had only been getting half of the conversation. Still looking at Smiley, Sanrook said to Tilly, “I’ll see later if he would work out okay.”

Sanrook turned towards the elder and pointed at Smiley, “I’d like to talk to this guy later.”

The elder followed Sanrook’s gesture and looked back at Sanrook quickly when he saw who she was motioning towards. “Him?” he asked. “Why?”

Sanrook just shrugged, then held up two fingers. “On to condition number two. Your ship must have contained prisms which powered it, correct?” She paused, waiting until the elder nodded to speak again. “I want them, or at least some of them”.

The elder’s expression sank a little. “Unfortunately”, he sighed, “We no longer are in procession of them. You see, we traded them for supplies quite a while ago. You see, a caravan comes through every so often, perhaps every decade or so, from a large city across the desert. We thought we had no use of them, so we traded them for things that we could use.” He paused, and then began again, uncertainty in his voice. “Does that mean you will no longer agree to help us?”

Sanrook looked at him for a few seconds, long enough to make the elder look a little nervous, then answered, “You’ll just have to help us get there. I’ll count that as your side of the bargain”.

A small smile found its way to the elders face and he began to stand, motioning for the people around him to help him up. “Good, then we have a deal. I’ll leave this young one to you”, he said, motioning for Smiley to come forward, “and I will find a way to get you across the desert; although I can’t promise your safety if you attempt it. It is full of danger, so much that very few of our people have actually made the journey. We will tell you the direction to go, but I take no responsibly for what actually happens.” He handed over the translator and began to walk towards the town, the crowd following after. Tilly thought she heard him utter “May the gods have mercy” as he walked away, but she couldn’t be certain.


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