Under the Dual Moons

Introduction (continued)

Kaldras' Caravan

Now desperate for a discreet way to flee the nearly lawless Tyr, you’ve all accepted work with an elf trader name Kaldras. He needed a few able-bodied workers to guard his caravan and care for his beasts as they journey to Balic, the city-state southeast of Tyr. His plan is to make for Altaruk, and once there, Kaldras plans to reunite with the rest of his tribe, unload his cargo, and pay you 50 gp in ceramic.

Umm leans against his greataxe while standing guard in the marketplace. Darwin Firstborn finishes his deal with Kaldras. Clara Negrescu eyes the two and appoaches. Kaldras smiles at the Tamwar decendant, welcoming her. He explains that his caravan is too small to hire entertainers, but capable crew are welcomed.

Suddenly, as if blown in on a desert breeze, a young woman in the garb of a dancer slides up to Kaldras. Handing him a small bag, she whispers in his ear. He looks the woman up and down, sizing her up, and then nods his head. She lilts off, enters the nearby Golden Inix inn, and reappears a few minutes later, dressed in a tight body suit. A short sword of lacquered bone and obsidian hangs at her side.

Nearby, a young elf fastens the harnesses on a kank. Kaldras looks over at the boy and with a perceptable look of contempt barks at him, calling him over. “My ‘brother’, Zinda. He works for a living.” Kaldras pushes him in Darwins direction. Zinda, averting his eyes and slumping his shoulders, gestures a hello. He looks up, his eyes gleaming and imploring, he awaits Darwin’s response.

Soon you find yourself moving out. Passing through Tyr’s Caravan Gate, a structure consisting of two marble valves, each 20 feet high and nearly as wide, banded and hinged in precious iron, you look back on the parched sandstone walls that bind a city who’s winds of fortune still blow a dust that has yet to settle.

Withering waves of heat lap at you, borne on a dusty desert breeze. It is Highsun, the hottest and most oppressive time of year. You are walking along a cracked and hard trade road leading away from Tyr. Wrapped in dun-colored traveling tunics, Kaldras and his elven family of eight take large, measured strides down the path. Two kanks—large, black, insectlike creatures often used as beasts of burden—carry the cargo Kaldras purchased in Tyr.

The goods are mostly mundane ceramic wares, and you can’t imagine they’ll sell for much in Altaruk’s market quarter. As you settle into your traveling gait, you notice the elves are competent and careful caravan guides. You feel confident that you and the other hired strangers will be able to easily fulfill your commitment over the next several scorching days.

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