The traveller introduced himself as Inabikari, in a thick accent that led me to believe he was from the north east, most likely the regions of Petra. But his hair was light, his structure was slender and his eyes were the most curious shade of blue; they were strange features for a Petra native. His weapons had disappeared as quickly as they had appeared, and I was unsure whether he had managed to hide them on his person – through quick movements – or if he was what I suspected him to be.
I offered him supplies from the carriage as payment for helping me; extra food, a blanket and some spare clothing for him to use on his journey. With four out of six passengers dead, those extra supplies were no longer needed and would’ve been sold once I had reached Avaris. Inabikari was more grateful to receive the clothes, which were warm and lightweight. He was unbothered by the fact they belonged to a dead man. Inabikari then gave a smile, one that was sharp and forced, resembling the look of the crazed. He left without saying anything else.
My ego was slightly hurt – I was convinced that I would’ve been able to survive a fight against Kile. No doubt Inabikari had saw me as a damsel in distress, a pretty woman being attacked by a giant of a man, in need of being saved by a hero. When I no longer needed protecting, he had left, leaving me to deal with the dead and to save the dying. Some hero.
My situation meant I had to reach Avaris as quickly as I possibly could. When I returned to Ashq, his skin was hot to touch and he had muttered something inaudible. The solution that I had fed him did little to lessen his temperature and I was beginning to have doubts about whether Ashq would be saved.
Mace, Kile and the two guards were placed in the supply carriage, amongst the weapons and their cases of clothing. I would have to cremate them at the first chance I got at Avaris. All the while, night fell and I stumbled over Kulwa’s body – in my haste to fix things, I had forgotten about him. He must’ve been killed sometime during the fight – but by whom? Kile? Or Inabikari?
I couldn’t lead the carriage to Avaris, not in the dark. So instead, I sat inside the passenger carriage, next to the feverish Ashq, and avoided looking in the direction where Mace’s blood had begun to dry.
I woke not with a start, but slowly, as I became aware of the cramp in my neck and the biting cold air of the morning. I couldn’t tell how long I had been asleep, but I hoped that the hours had been enough. I clambered out of the carriage, and made my way to where the horses were, paranoid that they would be gone or killed in the night.
They were alive, and I breathed a sigh of relief – my journey to Avaris was still possible although I didn’t know how long it would be until I reach the town.
The first inn that I came across was called The Vengeful Cat, an old brick building that looked pleasant enough to spend the night in. I had driven the carriage throughout the morning and had arrived at the outskirts of Avaris by mid-afternoon. The horses were separated from the carriages, and I led them to drink from the trench near the stables of the inn, tying the reigns near a post.
I managed to book a room without the inn owner recognising me. The short, red-faced owner reassured me that a doctor would arrive before the sun sets to tend to my ‘husband’ and that he would organise a funeral pyre for my deceased travellers. If he had any questions about why I was travelling in a royal carriage, he didn’t voice them.