The Roadhouse, part eight

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"Well met, Lord de Garak."

Harbend looked up. The evening had turned into a bedlam and people were running and yelling, grooms desperately trying to stable all horses and the commander of the fortress occupied in a screaming contest with the master of the caravan about whether or not to let all two hundred wagons stay within the walls. Of course Harbend was made responsible for it all, and a moment earlier he'd been standing with his face in his hands after receiving a verbal beating when he explained that another hundred wagons were to be expected next day.

He gave the stranger a tired look. At least she was speaking Khi with the unmistakable dialect of those living in Ri Khi.

"Well met honored stranger," he answered, politely requesting a name.

"My name is Nakora, of the noble line of the Weinak family. I act as escort captain."

A female soldier. The people in Ri Khi retained none of the high standards in Khi. They must have lost all sense of honor after they left their homeland, but that was to be expected from the descendants of bastards intermingling with impure De Vhatic blood.

What am I thinking? Adapting to some of the more unpleasant sides of my father's values. Had better watch out for those thoughts. Unworthy.

He broke the silence before it became uncomfortable. "Yes, and your reason for addressing me is?"

"I wish to relinquish command of your troops."

"My troops?"

"Two days ago some forty men joined our escort. Their commander, told me they were to meet you here, but that they would be more useful adding to the escort immediately."

What is she talking about? I never agreed to swell the escort. No matter. I'll need all trained men available to protect a caravan three times the planned size. Any available woman as well, he agreed sourly to himself and decided to let that matter drop. "I see. Send them here," he answered as if he'd known in advance.

She bowed and marched away.

Well formed hips. Women definitely should do other things than carry weapons, but he had to admit that an active life obviously had worked wonders on her body. He admired her as she vanished among horses and wagons in search for the escort commander he assumed was waiting somewhere closer to the gates.

Harbend smiled for the first time in hours. Maybe, just maybe this was going to be a very good day. He crossed the open space and stared after Nakora, of the noble line of the Weinak family.

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