Wisdom From The Ashes
Part Three – What Is Right And Just
Abasan sat alongside Nhaqosa, watching as he slept. The giant minoatur’s body shook fitfully. At times he would toss and turn and looked as if he might cry out though no sounds escaped lips that curled back in a silent snarl.
Around him came the sounds of the camp being packed away. The fire was doused and all trace of them ever having been there was carefully erased. Yet Nhaqosa slept on during it all, oblivious to the activity.
“The dreams again?” Niati asked, setting her pack down alongside Abasan. She sat down with her back to it.
Abasan nodded, running a hand across the scalp of his head, his eyes concerned. “This one seems worse than usual. There is something that troubles him terribly.”
“Should we wake him?”
Abasan shook his head with great tiredness, his eyes reflecting the same state of weariness. “I do not know, Niati,” he sighed. “I do not know.”
Lakach walked over from where the others were gathering. He tugged at the corners of his moustache with fierce energy, a sure sign, Abasan had found, that the man was deeply troubled. “We’ve got problems,” he announced. “Zethar.”
“What of him?” Abasan asked, looking up.
“He has talked the others into going along with his insane scheme. All of them. They are going to leave now for the Red Hills.”
Abasan scowled, riding to his feet in a hurry. He walked over to where the others were gathered, his legs eating up the distance with great strides. They were slinging packs and weapons over their shoulders, tightening straps and buckles. They went about it with a great deal of purpose, all knowing exactly what it was they were getting themselves in to.
“What is the meaning of this?” Abasan snapped. Immediately he regretted letting his frustrations boil to the surface like they had.
“We are doing no good here, Abasan,” Zethar replied, returning once more to his old arguments. Abasan had heard them many times before. “There are plenty out there who are suffering and we need to be doing what we can for them, not merely sitting around and waiting.”
Abasan swept a gaze across the rest of the band, one cold and hard. Many of them he had know since the days of the gladiatorial fighting pits, escaping alongside them with Nhaqosa. That they would abandon the Kwaza now filled him with a deep sorrow, and a sense of betrayal. “You all agreed to this?” A grim nodding of heads gave him his answer. Some among them would not meet his eyes as he looked at them. “After all the Kwaza has done for you, you would still abandon him now?”
One of the band spoke up, a man named Katako. Abasan felt that the man should have known better, given that Nhaqosa had once literally carried him when he had been on the verge of death. If any owed Nhaqosa, it was he. “Abasan,” he said, “If there is one thing that Nhaqosa has taught us, it is to not turn our backs on those in need, and to fight for what is right and just. He would understand what we are doing if he was still himself. It has been weeks since the tower and still he is absent, lost in his mind. We have to face the facts that he may never recover, and if that is so then we mean to carry on his legacy.”
Abasan’s shoulders slumped at the words, forced to confront a truth he did not wish to admit or think about. “If that is the way it must be, then go. I will stay with the Kwaza and tend to his needs.”
“When it is safe, we will send word to you,” Katako told Abasan. “We will arrange for a place where the Kwaza can be comfortable and cared for properly so that he can recover.”
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