[DND] The Truth is Outback Steakhouse
Heavy thuds passed through the cart as he moved it onward, slowly, steadily. At it's helm were the iconic draft duo of Magni and Fantasy, but ahead of them on a make-shift collar was Cresum, the mare he'd traded with a foal at the worth of their own meat. It was more a bargain to save their lives, but in the long run, Cresum had shown herself patient and intelligent. The mare responded well to the low speech Ezra offered her to inform her of what was going to become of her. Health for her and her young, but she would have to work as they all did for it. Work, she did, and happily at that.

Alongside the cart, a careful distance safe for toes and the like walked Arrow with a heavy bag slung over his shoulder, leading on Cresum's foal within her range of view. The silly filly danced and trotted along happily, not a care in the world as she snorted and hopped in the grasses. The baby was growing into a fine specimen, not that Arrow knew anything about horses, but Ezra spoke it well daily. If they could get the both of them trained without needing low speech to convince them, then they'd be prime horses for market. Ezra might have kept them, but on his own? Four horses was too much. Their built wasn't proper for what Ezra might use them for, made for more for hunting than pulling, though Cresum was certainly persuading him.

In the back of the cart say an agitated Bygul and a wooden box that buzzed and whirred with it's contents. It wasn't so much heavy by it's own contents as it was heavy on it's own, and it had taken up enough space in his cart to bring cause to trade other goods out for a lower rate to make room. Still, these hives were well bargained for and in a long time making. To his luck Honrin had felt over born with what he had and offered a rate much lower to Ezra than Ezra would ask of Sekhmet, but the travel and other goods he had to give up to make the room for this journey broke it all even in the long run. A merchant herself, she must know this, and her own desire made the hives a high price as they were.

The cart dwindled to a halt as he reached the main road outside of Amherst, to which their letter declared. It wasn't heavy with too many people, this time of day those that were want with trade found themselves at the city's hub. It would benefit them if they were going to get the hive over to the cart that she would bring, and hopefully she brought a little muscle on her own, but Ezra would be fully willing to prep the hive and have he and Arrow move it over for her. Sliding it would be much easier than hoisting it into the cart, that is," Alright, my boy. We're here!"

A few mutters of horse speech had the cart to a gentle stop, rather than tugging at their lips. Hopping down from it's bench, Ezra moved around the wagon as Arrow tied the foal up to a rung along the cart. Together they pulled the canvas back and worked the items aside, prepping the wooden fixture at the edge of the cart so there'd be no delay at moving it over.
Helena Troy Lykoi


The wedding had occurred spectacularly. A riotous explosion of drunken revelry and celebration. Everything had gone perfectly and even the aftermath, deep within the forests was a splendorous if somewhat unwise move, truthfully she still couldn't find it within her to care. At any rate, the red and gold dress had survived the encounter unlike her green tunic, such a shame. Phobos and she took the open cart, Helena wrapped up in her signature fur-trimmed red cloak.

Ever a smart woman, Helena circled all the way around, and came from the north. Everything of Salsola had been hidden away, concealed like her true nature, in spiced and herbs and gracious, friendly smiles. Ezra was not a man to deal with slavers and likely he would not make much of a distinction between slaves and indentured servants.

They came upon the two men at the arranged place. Helena lightly leaped from the seat next to Phobos. She favored the two with a graceful curtsy.

"Monsieur Arrow, Monsieur Vahn, 'ow mcuh a pleasure eet is to be zeeing you both again." Courtesies aside, Helena's eyes fell to the softly humming boxes, her smile widened.

Behind her Phobos climbed down and began to unload the goods they had brought the dog man, as agreed upon. Bales of Jute, long bolts of linen and sacks of harvested grains for horse feed.

Feel the heat of my breath
Hear the furnace in my chest

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Just who they were waiting for.

Sekhmet's cart rattled with weight as the wooden fixture rolled into sight, the lady and her cohorts atop it's steering bench. Graced with a warm greeting, Ezra placed his hand on his stomach to prevent his shirt from billowing and offered her a polite bow, Arrow mimicking the notion with a few darting glances,” A pleasure it is,” He agreed,” I must apologize for the wait, Lady Sekhmet, but as honored, I've brought you what you've had me seek out,” A hand lifted to the hive that hummed in the back of the cart. Surely, she'd be delighted to take a look at it before they moved it over.

“N'we help'ya put't n'ya wag'n,” Arrow offered, a small comfort. He didn't mind using his muscle in tow with the other men, if it meant to save the lady from the extra work. Ezra's lessons may not have been making much difference in speech, but his mannerisms were coming along quite well.

After she had a look at what she'd come for, Ezra moved over to the goods she'd brought. Inspection was just another part of trade. The jute looked in fine form and perfect for pounding into fibers, the linen was as clean as it could be expected and in good shape, as well. The sacks of feed were dry, lacking tears that might waste precious grain and well seamed. All was well accounted for. A nod was offered to Arrow, the trade could continue.

Phobos would surely offer help as Ezra gestured politely for him to stand beside him at the end of the cart. Arrow climbed up and nudged the hive to the edge. A strong yet controlled shove slipped the buzzing box right to the end of the cart, with enough room for hands to grip. Together, they'd carry the hive from one cart to the other, with Arrow jumping down to offer an arm. It was a bulky, heavy thing, but it was sturdy as long as it didn't hit the ground from a great distance. Sekhmet's cart shifted ever so slightly as they teetered the hive on the edge of the empty cart. Arrow hopped up and guided the hive and the two men below pushed it forward. All in place, Arrow returned to the earth and Ezra clapped his hands and returned to Sekhmet's side.



Familiarity in this case did not breed informality. Cynical as she was, the suspicious woman never truly relaxed her dubious impressions of these Outsiders, even as she called them friends and laughed with them. Legerdemain would not be tolerated from any but herself. She projected herself onto others and knew that should either of these men exhibit anything less than helpful transparency then their lives would immediately, and permanently, forfeited.

They bowed to her, as was expected, as was her due. It had been a tortuously long wait and although the intended partial recipient for this gift was now deceased, Helena would still accept it for the increasingly positive image it would afford her. Keeping bees was a profession she knew nothing in great detail of, all of the knowledge she held was for the products of those busy workers. An individual expertise in the subject was worth its weight in whatever value was traded.

"Ah zhis is no matter. I knew zhis would be difficult to find. Zhis is why I asked you, mon cherie."

Helena moved to inspect the hive, her eyes coming to where she could see an entrance had been covered. This was where the small insects would come and go from. She was smart enough not to try and remove the lid. She smiled at Arrow, nodding her head,

"Zhis we are thankful for, Phobos is strong but... myself not so much." She laughed, an airy sound. Phobos' voice struck out, impossibly deep, "Helena is the brains, I'm just the brawn." The Serf man chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck.

She thoughtfully slipped through the book she'd also requested. It was written in some kind of dark charcoal that had smudged slightly, on pale parchment that crinkled beneath her touch. The man who had written it went into exacting details about his observations over the years of keeping bees. She alternated between idly flipping through the crudely bound pages and Ezra's drawn face as he inspected her own offerings.

This might seem an unevenly skewed trade for the moment. A box of insects and a book for cloth, grain, fibers and the other things she had offered him in exchange for paper and their contract. This was an investment that would return to her the initial cost several-fold. Helena saw it stretch forth into the future when Salsola no longer had to buy in wax and honey, when they would produce enough to sell instead. Behind her eyes, the stars of wealth gleamed.

She stood out of the way as the three men wrestled with the heavy box, transferring it from their cart to her own. The bees made their anger known, to her amusement. She breathed easier once the hive was safely on her cart and Phobos began to lash it down so it wouldn't fall on the bumpy trail.

"And you are begin still willing to carry on zhe contract for paper, Oui? I 'ave not tired you of my presence." She rose an eyebrow, and then from her cloak pulled a small bottle of spirit. She took a quick drink and then offered it to Ezra. It burned her throat, settling her stomach aflame.

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Sekhmet gave her opinion of Ezra's labors and the time it took to achieve them and it seemed as if time wasn't so much an element to her as the attainment of the hive. While Ezra wasn't exactly pleased with the wait, even he knew that you couldn't make goods appear out of thin air, and with Sekhmet a merchant, it appeared she knew the same. Another dip of his long muzzle was gifted to her and then they made their move to the hive. He found her eyes scrutinizing the box and it's elements, a smile offered to his apprentice as he offered her cleaner hands than the rest of them. Ezra grinned as well.

There came a fond, warm chuckle between the three men at Phobo's words before they got to work. Sekhmet was certainly the brains, if that were the case. She made honest deals, bartered well and sought out dependable merchants to work with, from Ezra found. He might never be the wiser.

She'd taken it upon herself to retrieve the book while the men worked around her, Ezra paying little mind to the woman with the strong feeling that he could trust her. There wasn't much else in his cart save survival gear, and with the Cart's barren cargo area, he'd know if any of the few items were missing, anyways. No, Sekhmet was honest, and continued to work with him on a level that many others did not. She was cunning, kept him on his toes, but genuine nonetheless.

Arrow retreated to their cart to restore their own goods to steady travel settings, as Phobos strapped the hive in for a safer venture.

When Ezra arrived at her side again, he thoughtfully minded her words. Her worries were met with a compassionate grin,” By all means, you have not. Our contract still stands for however long we are both able,” A dip in his muzzle came again, his eyes finding her with a bottle of drink and fire on her breath. A half-grin slipped to him as he took the bottle, and washed the sting into his stomach. A peace pipe of sorts. Lapping his lips, he returned it to her. He knew he'd likely become a little lighter when it came to the effects of the alcohol, but without the twisted wheeze of those unfamiliar, his history peeked through a bit. He'd certainly had worse than this,” What fibers should you like this coming batch? Any wildflowers take your fancy, Lady Sekhmet?”



By her will these things had come to pass, and it was the natural progression of things. The lesser beings were commanded by their superiors even if they did not truly realize it. She understood the necessity of playing nice and saying all the right things, playing the actress' part and to their faces she paid a lip service that was just another form of trading.

Her fingers slid idly across the red fabric of her tunic. She closed the book with her hand, setting the leather bound tomb with the hive. They had a large, waterproofed hide that they could string over it if the weather should turn sour on their way back. She glimpsed to the shining sun, she did not think it would.

He took the offering from her, shrewdness watching him as he sipped of the sweet, fiery nectar. Their one-sided friendship grew and it was less a trap and more a slow bleeding to death. While he continued to be useful she would hold at bay the secrets and spirits that waited ever so impatiently to be freed.

Ezra did not stumble over the potent liqueur. Her laughter was soft, almost carefree in a manner.

The long-nosed head turned, curls swaying with movement and she peered at him with an insidious faux docility. Intrusive thoughts were a heavy influencing part of her life, she was adept at catching them mid-formation and twisting them to fit her own motivations. Re-direction proved to work with greater success than simply suppression -- for momentary discretion she swapped lascivious speculition of him for another, one easier to attain and hold within the palms of her hands.

His question was posed, what should she like this time and fingers tapped the curve of her mouth thoughtfully, deliberately.

Her eyebrows raised with a contemplation, the sinuous twist of black lips was almost friendly,

"Surprise me." The deepening lilt of her voice caressed the air, soft as a lover's sigh.

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