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Jun 20, 2019 3:13 AM
stevenchainsaw & imrainai in caravaneer
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"Yes, that seems like a good idea," he agrees. "I apologize in advance for probably not being very good at making camp; I'm still very new to traveling and if there is any procedure more complicated than 'put stuff down, put self down near stuff, go to sleep wrapped in warm things' I'm afraid I don't know it."

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Probably not a setup probably not a setup probably not a setup -

"Well," she says, in a tone that she hopes expresses that she has about half of an idea what she's doing, "If we were in a group we'd pitch tents and probably start a fire for cooking, but we don't want to attract attention so it's probably best if we just focus on the being wrapped in warm things."

Oh man, that's like an ideal setup for him pointing out that she's a warm thing. Why did she say this. She's an idiot.

She's not gonna put her stuff down first. If she puts her stuff down first then she can't decide how far apart they should be without looking rude.

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"That is sensible," says Nick, and he puts down his bag and tucks his shoes under one edge of it and detaches his rolled-up sleeping bag from the top and unrolls it and drapes his coat over it and scoots himself in. The end result after maybe a minute and a half is Nick bundled up in a sort of cozy cocoon with only his nose poking out.

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Cool. Cool cool cool. She will just set up her blankets several yards away, where she can scream if anyone sneaks up on her but also have some level of advance warning if Nick decides to move. 

She doesn't sleep very well. She stares up at the stars some and traces new pictures between them.

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Nick doesn't sleep very well either. It is weird and unsettling being responsible for another person's safety. What if he doesn't do a good job? Then Karakul will get hurt and it will be his fault, and that would be terrible. He'd better make sure to look after her really really well.

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She's up and eating insects for breakfast at daybreak, slightly more calmly than before. Just because nothing terrible happened last night doesn't mean that nothing terrible is going to happen, but it's a positive sign.

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Nick wakes up not long afterward, extracts himself from his sleeping bag, rolls it up and reattaches it to his backpack, and makes himself a small drab breakfast out of his supply of small drab foods.

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She packs things up and gets them moving towards the Pullid camp as quickly as possible. Now that she's a little less horribly nervous, she notices that she's bored, and eventually attempts to make some kind of conversation.

"So where were you from before?" she asks. "Before you came to this region. By Qubba, like Kukul?"

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"Oh, just somewhere else," he says, with obviously deliberate vagueness. "I don't expect you to have heard of it. We keep to ourselves."

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"Oh." So that is not a welcome topic of conversation. It's unfortunately sort of hard to have a conversation with someone when you don't know anything about where they're from or who they are or what they're doing.

 

"Olaf's really important to you?"

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"I... I'm not sure. Looking for people is what you do when they go missing, isn't it? I guess most people would have given up a while ago. Possibly around the first time someone tried to kill me. But I don't... know what else I would do, if I wasn't doing this. So I guess I'll keep looking until I find him."

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"Huh. Well... I'm sure he appreciates that. Or will. Whenever you find him."

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"I suppose he will," he agrees.

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Talking is hard and she's bad at it. She tries it a couple more times on the way to camp, but she doesn't feel like she learns very much, possibly because most of the questions that she could theoretically ask strike her as probably super rude. 

They only have to sleep one more time to reach the Pullid camp, given the pace they've set for themselves. She points it out on the horizon when it's nearby.

"You'll wanna speak to Apis. Probably. I've never actually, like, been here before, but Kukul said you'd probably want to speak to Apis about anything you wanted to know."

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"Okay," he says agreeably. "Then I'll talk to Apis."

Thoughtful pause.

"Do you know where to... find Apis?"

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"...nnnope, we'll have to ask."

 

It's more difficult than you might expect to find someone to ask. The camp isn't exactly deserted, but it's not lively the way the Lintu camp was. There are no children playing. There don't actually appear to be any young people at all. There is a group of women knitting something outside an animal pen, undoing an old project to get material for the new one. None of them look like they're under forty.

"Excuse me," says Karakul. "We're looking for Apis."

The women whisper among each other. "Kukul can't want anything very badly, if he won't show his face here," observes one of them, eventually.

"We're not here for Kukul. We're here about this man's friend. Someone named Olaf. He's gone missing."

There's more whispering, and then one of them jerks a finger towards a different part of the camp.

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Well then he supposes they will go that way.

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The only person who seems to be in this area of the camp is a very old man who doesn't appear to be doing anything at all. He looks up when he sees them. His expression doesn't change at all. He doesn't say anything to them.

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That's...

...concerning...?

 

"Um. Hello," he says tentatively.

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The man grunts in acknowledgement.

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"I'm looking for my friend Olaf. I'm told you might know where to find him...?"

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"No one's been through here."

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...he sighs. "Well. Thank you anyway."

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The man grunts.

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...he really isn't sure what to do with this. He glances at Karakul, in case she has any idea.

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