Penelope had been attacked a time or two in her travels. This was her command for defense.The carts circled in well rehearsed unison. “Crossbows ready!”
Penelope used crossbows because they were relatively easy to train her entourage how to use and maintain.
A man in her caravan lay on his side, an arrow stuck in his belly. He cried out for help outside the circle.
She had heard of the Heron dipping their arrows in Pequin. The cries were anguished. “It burns!” His screams were unbearable. He pulled at the arrow in a pitiful attempt at relief. All were grateful when he passed out.
No one looked at the contorted body.
The spaces between the carts became murderer holes for the crossbows.
There was nothing to see.
All was quiet. The minutes drug on. The man on the ground shuddered. He was dead.
Scavenger birds overlooked the caravan. A bold one landed near the corpse.
A figure rose and shouted, “AHUSAKA!”
Several bolts were released and did not make their target. Terrifying whoops came from around the circle and the Heron ran forward in unison then dropped to the ground, rolling into concealment.
More were going to die today.
Penelope was not going to be among them.
If she was, she would do it attempting a sale.
“Can I interest you in trade? I can give you top notch fabric! Not to die for, but exceptional! Is that what you are looking for?”
Her entourage shook their heads and motioned for her to get on the ground.
Undeterred, Penelope crawled under a cart and started walking into the open.
“My lady, come back! You will die or worse!”
“Let’s make a deal, shall we? Who is in charge out here?”
All was quiet.
One of her entourage yelled,
“I know what they want, just get back in the circle.”
She crawled under the carts and looked. Sewn in burlap was a form that looked like a person.
“Who is this?” She demanded. “Open that bag.”
Inside was a Heron woman in her mid twenties bound and unconscious.
She looked at her men. ” This has cost me time! Time is money! Someone’s going to pay for this. Is there anything that tells you that I am in the people business? Who did this?”
All Penelope received was blank stares.
“I am not going down for this one. Oh no. NOT going down. One of you or all of you men were involved in this. Now who did it?”
Distracted by Penelope’s rebuke, The Heron approached the caravan weapons ready. The entourage was unprepared.
” Hold your fire men, put your weapons in their scabbards. I have to talk business with these fine customers.”
Several Heron men took the unconscious woman from the caravan while all watched.
Hatred was in their eyes.
Ahusaka stepped forward.
” this is the daughter of Ahusaka you have taken captive. I will take my own to her lodge. “
Penelope, bring your caravans and we will trade again. You have enriched us with goods.”
Ahusaka looked at the entourage. His voice was quiet. All eyes were on Ahusaka.
“We will trade today, Penelope. I will take the man with the scratches on his arm and you will leave in peace.”