Mountain pass, part five

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"Everyone fine?"

"Yes, M'lord. I think ... accounted for. We've sent ... to look for ... missing."

Arthur grimaced to Trindai. "Need Gring. I you fail understand."

"Yes, M'lord. I go ... her ... now."

Trindai departed. Hopefully in search for the Khraga.

The blizzard was worsening now, and Arthur appalled with their escort failing to see the danger. Only those who spoke little or no De Vhatic seemed to know how to handle the weather, and most had already taken shelter before he found himself in command of the caravan.

Harbend was asleep in his wagon. The idiot had walked on in wet clothes without any concern for his own safety. It was as if he never understood the danger.

Arthur searched his surroundings. They were still beneath the summit, and the mountain gave them some shelter at least. If they'd been halfway on the other side some of them would be dead by now. He shook his head. Primitive world apparently didn't mean everyone was an outdoors man.

Tugging his cloak tighter around his neck he changed his mind. Maybe they were simply not outdoors men used to cold winters. He wouldn't have been of much use if they'd been traversing a desert. Harbend did look as if he came from a warmer climate, so there might be a valid reason for his stupid behavior. Arthur swore. Valid or not. Nature seldom cared, and Otherworld seemed to share that aspect with Earth. Dead is dead, no matter how good an excuse you have.

Denser snowfall now, but without the rise in temperature he'd expected. Turning his horse he rode back along the column of wagons. He needed to get to Harbend's wagon and tether the horse to it before the last light vanished.

With the wagon train stretching for miles there was no way of finding out if everyone was safe. Arthur realized they'd probably spend the better part of the next day finding out what had happened to everyone. Maybe a scouting party could be sent to the other side of the summit, but he doubted they'd make much progress. Still, they had to. Setting camp here for too long would be as dangerous as climbing the trek, but without the benefit of reaching lower, more protected grounds. He spat in disgust and rode on. When he reached his wagon Gring was already waiting for him. A tingling around his temples told him he would be understood.

"How is he?"

"The magehealer is making sure he'll recover. Nothing dangerous," she answered.

"Do you know if anyone's missing?"

"No, I don't. I could search if you want me to."

"I don't know if that would be much help in the darkness."

"I can smell a halfman carcass until it's but bones. The scent of live ones is even stronger. I can search," she responded.

"What about the cold? You must be freezing."

"I'm not like you weaklings. This is nothing."

Arthur smiled. "If you would, please?"

He watched her leave into the darkness and shook his head. Hopefully all would be accounted for, but he doubted they'd all be alive. There was nothing he could do about it now, and he needed to catch some sleep.

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