Move 'em on, head 'em up
Chapter 8: Pirates and Cowboys
Location: Oustside Murphy's Folly
Timeline: Last day in Harling Pass
The wagons were lined up, sailors tightening their horses' saddle cinches as if they knew what they were doing. McGinty climbed up on the first wagon next to Faizel, who looked at home holding the reins to the horses pulling the cart.
One man was running from wagon to wagon, looking at the markings on each and checking this against the papers he was holding. "Where are the bloody sacks of flour? Did anyone load the bags in the Red Hand wagon? The wagon for food storage? The cook's wagon?" A kitling face peeked around the canvas of the Red Hand wagon. Bruised and stitched, Blazingtail remembered he was now the crew's cook.
"I thought the flour was for the horses, so I put it on the Green Leaf wagon," he shouted happily. Kevin Price walked up to the kitling, looked him in the eye with a grim stare and said: "Don't think. Now get those bags back on your wagon, cook!" Blazingtail leaped from his seat and was set to work.
Kevin shook his head as he tried to hide a smile. He had not worked with many kitlings before, but he always saw them as young kids needed guidance and a firm hand. He was sure he could shape Blazingtail into a good cook and a passable sailor, in time. He walked up to the captain and said: "All is ready, Captain. I sent three sailors on ahead on horseback. We should catch up with them by evening, when they've picked a camping spot. The rest of us will stick together on the road."
"Not much of a road, quartermaster," Daenelia said. Jefferson stood at her side, looking at the preparation. "Is everyone accounted for, Price?" he asked. The quartermaster nodded, tentatively. "Then give the order to move out."
"Move out! Giddy-up! Hi-ho, wagons! Awaay!!" Price shouted loudly, his had cupped to his mouth to help amplify his voice. The wagons at the front slowly started moving away from Harling Pass. Two women were standing near the road, clutching each other's arms, and watching the wagon train move away. One of them waved carefully at a sailor passing by, who tipped his newly bought cowboy hat to her.
Daenelia touched Jefferson's arm and pointed him towards his wagon. "You're sure you're going to be okay on horseback, Captain?" He said with a worried frown. Daenelia swung into the saddle of her mare. "Yeah, I want to, " she said, as she watched Colton's horse saunter up to hers.
"Well, if you change your mind, there is room in the wagon," Jefferson said. He climbed up the wagon, took up the reins and set the horses to moving.
"You look uncomfortable on horseback, 'Nelia," Colton said with a grin.
"I'll be okay," she grinned back. "It's been a while, but I can still ride." She patted the mare on the shoulder. "I think I'll call her Lizzie." Colton looked at her, his face going from jovial to stone in seconds. Lizzie was the horse he gave her, before the train robbery. He had watched her escape on that horse. Just a little reminder that no matter how close he came to 'Nelia, she still had to pay for what she had done.
Daenelia patted Lizzie and thought fondly of her namesake. Old Lizzie had been a good horse, handpicked by Colton to suit her riding style and temperament. Without Lizzie she would never have escaped the marshals. She hoped Young Lizzie would be as good a horse as the old one.
Colton kicked his gelding and started following the last of the wagons. Jefferson made himself as comfortable as he could on the hard wooden wagon seat. Faizel reached behind him and pulled out a pillow he had kept aside for his travelling companion, and smiled as Jefferson sighed with relief. Blazingtail looked out for Zora... Catscratch. He was relieved too, so see her sitting in the back of some wagon, looking angry and miserable at the same time. Chago and Miyra were both on horseback, but far apart and not making any eye contact. McGinty sat next to Leftheris, the Master Gunner, and was shouting instructions and anecdotes in his ear. Leftheris tried to smile politely, while trying to get ahead of the wagon train.
Daenelia took one last look at the Steamhawke and bid a silent farewell. Murphy stood next to the hangar, and stuck his arm up in the air to wave goodbye. Daenelia couldn't make out if he was smiling or scowling. She shrugged and drew the reins to the side, to direct Lizzie to follow the wagons to Kanesville.