The caravan, part seven

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To Arthur the weeks took on a monotonous routine. Waking at daybreak to the sound of metal clanking at the cooking wagon, then eating porridge, saddling a horse and away checking the road while the wagons were made ready. After that an entire day covered in dust, with only a short break for the midday meal, before it was time to make camp again. Riding with the vanguard was the only way to keep the worst of the dust away. Riding with the vanguard, unfortunately, also required him to don some pieces of leather armor which turned out to be heavier than he suspected, and a lot warmer.

To his dismay he quickly learned that his attempts to communicate with anyone but Harbend still failed because of his inability to properly use De Vhatic. Words, he desperately hungered for new words. It wasn't as if he disliked Harbend's company, not at all, but he wanted to be part of the caravan as well.

The feeling of not belonging was strongest during the evenings, especially the evening following bathing day, the last of each eightday, when the caravan stood still and people spent the time making small repairs and washing their clothes. That day closed early, and great bonfires were laid in preparation for the coming feast. The evening meal one worth the name rather than cold leftovers or trail rations. A cow or some sheep were slaughtered and they all ate and drank until long after dark.

One of the guards had a knack for storytelling, and Arthur was shut out from the happy laughter unable to understand more than occasional words. That hurt, hurt almost as much as his nightmares, but he forced himself to learn more despite the small voice telling him to give up.

One morning Arthur tried to make notes on what he had caught of De Vhatic the previous day, and as always jotting down words on his notepad turned out difficult as he was riding. He'd thought of using a microphone rather than a pen, but that would cut down the lifespan of his power cells to less than half, and he didn't know if he could ever get new ones.

He was interrupted by the unfamiliar feeling of water on his face. Not a downpour but rather a steady drizzle, and Arthur was grateful when the ever present dust slowly settled.

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