November 11, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
The chief constable frowned deeply for a moment. Enrie counted backwards from seven to zero in her mind, twice, and then did it again as the chief opened his mouth.
“You’re here for a school project,” he repeated. He was putting quite a bit of emphasis on those last two words. “You should go visit your cousin.” He gestured to the drivers of the constables’ wagon, who moved the wagon from blocking their route to blocking the oncoming cart’s route in a series of back-and-forths.
Enrie held her breath. The constable’s wagon was moving at a glacial speed, barely blocking the road, and the cart was almost here.
“Go,” the constable repeated. He made a pushing motion at her, towards Libkazaari and the wagon. “Now, go visit your family, now.”
That was about as clear a signal as anyone could ask for. Enrie jumped into the wagon just as Libkazaari was getting it turned the right way. Taikie was helping, with a skill with goats that probably shouldn’t have surprised Enrie.
A shout rose up from the other side of the constable’s wagon. Libkazaari clucked to the goats and snapped the reins, and in a moment they were going. It wasn’t the most direct route to the capital – but there was a wagon full of dubious characters on that route.
“Hey!” Another shout echoed behind them, along with some choice swearing. A moment later, a crash and the sound of splintering wood and tearing metal echoed over the hillside and down the Lannamer canyon. Libkazaari swore her own series of colorful oaths at the goats and clucked them along faster, faster, getting the wagon careering over the road.
Long-dead Emperors and more recent Engineers had dictated that both roads into Lannamer were easy to traverse, wide, and smooth, no matter how hard the bridge had been to cross. Enrie, holding on tightly to both front sides of the bench seat, swayed on her feet but wasn’t jostled. She could hear grunts and muffled groans from the back, as those passengers pretending to be cargo were shifted and tossed with the turns.
Enrie twisted to look back around the wagon, only to find Libkazaari’s hand on the back of her vest, holding her where she was. “You fall off, this whole thing can go up in Viegnevaar’s flames. We’ll be sitting there explaining to your cousin how we had all this information, but we let you get grabbed by bandits-and-worse.” Libkazaari’s voice was loud to carry over the sounds of the hoofbeats and the wagon wheels, the oncoming cart and the clacking of tack. “And you, in the meantime…”
Enrie didn’t need her to finish that sentence. She could guess what might happen if people determined enough to crash through a constable’s’ cart got their hands on her. “I just want to look. I’ll hold on carefully.”
Libkazaari’s hold loosened but did not release. “Very carefully.”
Enrie nodded her understanding and grabbed two handholds on the side of the wagon. “Very carefully,” she agreed.
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