**The story below is a draft **
The contingent of men surrounded Davidian as he braced himself for the encounter was to come.
For 3 days continuous he’d been stood upon the ramparts in a continuing vigil for Alyssa’s return, having already waited a full 14 days after her departure whilst performing his duties. In those 3 days he’d seen no sign of her journeying to the city gates but on the third day, as the light faded and the sun was setting, in the far distance his augmented eyes had discerned a cloud of dust made by figures on horseback that he hoped was her and a retinue of her people.
He was wrong. The fall of their ship many weeks previous had doubtless not gone unnoticed to others of this new world and it seemed there were those who were would chance danger and peril to see what nature of calamity had fallen from the sky and whether there was glory and profit to be made in its finding.
He’d jumped down from the city limits and ran towards the distant cloud at his great speed, slowing before he reached them and coming to a halt to allow them to come to him in their own time. When they met him they did so still mounted on their horses, encircling him whilst looking down from on high, corralling him at their centre.
Now clouds of earth rose up around him as hooves of the steeds about him pounded on the sun beaten ground as they continued to encircle in what he new was an attempt to menace him, a display of strength any warrior caste member would recognise. The din of their clomping and neighing began to quieten as the horses came at last to a halt after the command of one who Davidian was sure would be their leader. After a short time, that was doubtless intended to instil a little extra fear into him, sure enough the same individual who had given the order to stop came forward a few paces on his mount, the biggest of them all, and stopped a few paces in front of Davidian.
“Greetings, I am Salen of the Thousand Sons of the great Soonhattan City. And you are?”
Davidian looked about him at the many mounted men whom his instincts were telling him were fighters of some kind, perhaps military, perhaps mercenary, but likely dangerous regardless.
“My people call me Davidian”
“Davidian, a strange name, I know of no people in these parts whose people use such names and I know these lands well.”
“We are new to these lands and doubtless my name is strange to strange ears.”
“Hah, indeed and there are many strange ears about these lands of late, strange ears that hear strange things, such as tales of men and horseless chariots, tales of men with the strength of ten and who run faster than the beasts of the plains, tales of men who woo the daughters of our lands greatest rulers who then go on to break their oaths to marry princes. These are strange times in which to be a stranger to these lands.”
Then men all murmured in their agreement.
A shadow of thought passed across the landscape of Davidians mind, had he meant Alyssa? Was she betrothed to someone? If this was true not only had he acted outside his principles but what defiling light did this shine on their encounter those few weeks ago. She was an honourable warrior like himself and he would ask her, without prior judgement, as one warrior to another and leave be the words of the likely scoundrel-el in front of him, for now.
“I have no wish to be a stranger to anyone who might offer me their friendship.” Davidian tactically replied
“Friendship is not freely given in these parts stranger, it is earned and our trust must be gained.”
“And how does one gain the trust of such fine men as stand before me?”
The captain of the men before him allowed himself a small smile, the boldness of the man.
“A friend to us is respectful at all times and tells us the things we want to know.”
“Then I can only hope to be so respectful and able to help you with the answers you seek.”
“Those are words that me and my men are glad to hear.”
Again, another murmur rippled through the cohort that stood in silent watch as the exchange continued.
“Tell me then, stranger but friend, where is the site of where the jewel from the heavens fell?”
Davidian could only assume they meant the craft which had brought his people here in what must have been a spectacle in the sky as it fell to the planets surface, caught in its gravity.
“The place of its landing was there.” Davidian raised his hand and pointed to where he’d only just come from, the wondrous city of his remaining people.
At his pointing, the leader let out a few cautious laughs that soon became raucous bellows and his men began to do the same.
“Stranger, I thought we were to be friends. Would you have me believe that City fell from the sky?”
“No, we built the city on the site where your ‘Jewel’ landed. We have re-crafted it into what you see before you.”
A disquiet came over the leader, both his demeanour and his face, and as if bonded to him the same became of his men, the odd horse here or there snorting and pacing a few steps on the spot in reaction to their riders change of mood.
“Stranger, ‘friend’, if this is true then you could be a dangerous people, able to achieve much in so short a time. Perhaps it is your people, perhaps it was the Jewel, such a treasure many would wish to possess and I doubt your friendship is so open as to allow such a thing.”
“Our treasures are our own, our friendship is anyone’s to possess.”
“Friendship, without sharing, is not the friendship my prince seeks.”
“Then your Prince has found nothing this day”
“Not true, he has found the place to send his armies and where a great treasure surely lay and at the end of his conquest it seems he may find many new slaves.”
Davidian could not understand his last words, it was likely his own language had nothing to which it could relate but he understood the grammar of the sentence, ownership, possession and subjugation.
In a blur of motion he sped to the side of the leaders horse, startling the leader and his mount causing the horse to rise up in reaction only to then settle having taken a few steps backwards and after feeling the re-assurances of it’s rider after he himself had managed to calm his own reactions. He drew his sword in habit as did his men but Davidian spoke before he had the time and bad sense to act on his instincts.
“Know this. You may well bring your Prince many tidings in the coming days but ensure you bring him this one, we are a peaceful people but we are no fools as we have endured much and are no strangers to war and loss, be sure to have your prince ask himself, can the same can be said of him?”
Through gritted teeth the leader replied.
“You think you have known War? You think you have known loss? You have not truly known any of these things but you will soon now that you have met The Thousands Suns.”
With that he let out a rallying cry and turned his horse the way they’d came to return to his city and his prince, digging his heels into the sides of his animal to let it know that speed was of the essence.
His many comrades did the same, letting out crys and rearing into the air before disappearing once more in the same cloud of dust and arid dirt that had heralded their arrival.
Damn them. Damn them and their intrigue. He knew he would have to report this encounter to the caste council, likely reprimanding him for his displays of aggression, and it could very well settle their minds on a matter that had been debated heavily ever since his and Ezek’s first encounter with Alyssa, that of the future of their city and their destiny on this planet.
Their mission had been to colonise the planet on which they intended to arrive at, a barren rock perfect for transformation into a utopia. The one though that through and accident and questionable fortune they’d landed on was teeming with life, the pinnacle of which was the human people that inhabited many areas of it’s surface and their origins still a mystery to Ezek and his caste.
Since the rebuilding of much of what was damaged in the accident they’d discovered many scientific things about this world but they knew nothing of the nature of the people and beasts that inhabited it. He’d discovered much this day and he was left only wishing that he hadn’t.