Kengetar was already on his way back. He had found a small trail that was relatively dry, and rejoined with the main footpath after not too much distance. True, it was too small for the carts, but with a day's work, the undergrowth on the sides of the trail could be cleared away and there would be enough space for the carts to role by. And it was also true that he had been forced to avoid a pair of Roki Tribe hunters, but he seriously doubted that the caravan as a united force would be under threat. Of course, with the threatening rain, it was only a guess if it would still be usable after today. This wouldn't even be an issue if we were using boats, thought Kengetar.
Suddenly, he heard a scream that was quickly cut off, from a direction that was nearer to camp. Concerned, he crept towards the source of the sound. The source of the sound came into view in a clearing just off the trail. It was the two Roki hunters from before, and they were evidently pleased with their catch. In their arms they held their struggling captive, which Kengetar recognized as the young servant belonging to the caravan's leader. He didn't know what had possessed her to go out into the forest alone, but it was a stupid decision. No tribe in the South was as dangerous as the Sedents, but anyone found out alone in the wilderness was fair game. The girl would likely be sold to slavers traveling North, if she was lucky.
Kengetar crept closer, unnoticed even as he drew close enough to the back of one hunter to touch him and drew his knife. Almost casually, he stepped into the clearing and slipped his knife between the ribs of the hunter. As the hunter fell, Kengetar threw back his cape, flashing his predatory grin and tribe-identifying tattoos.
"Boo," he said quietly.
The other hunter backed off and began to run, nearly dropping his bow, the girl and his fallen comrade forgotten. Kengetar didn't chase him. He doubted that his knife would be any match against his bow, but if he acted confident, the hunter might be convinced that there were other Sedents hidden nearby, and wouldn't stop running until he was halfway back to his tribe.
He then turned his attention to the servant girl lying where she had been dropped by the hunters. Not seeing any obvious injuries on her, he picked her up and asked, "Why did you come out here alone? Don't you know it's dangerous?"
"Melody sent me to find you," she lied, thinking fast. "She says you have to come back."
"Who's Melody?" Kengetar queried.
"My mistress," she said. "I'm Frandy, by the way. Thank you for rescuing me." She pressed her head and arms into Kengetar's muscular chest in a way that was a bit too sensual to be merely appreciative.
Kengetar sighed. Evidently there was some trust that Melody had withheld from him. But the softness of Yallans was quickly becoming apparent, and aggravating. He picked up the fallen hunter's bow, quiver, and knife. No sense in letting them go to waste, after all. Frandy was going to be a problem, though. Her uncareful steps could easily lead more unwelcome guests to them, and that would be a death sentence. There was simply no helping it, unless...
Frandy yelped as Kengetar roughly lifted her and slung her over his shoulders, and gripped her arms and legs like she was a slain deer. "Don't talk until we're back at camp," Kengetar said, and took off jogging down the trail.
When Kengetar got back to camp and planted Frandy back on the ground, it was already beginning to drizzle. She stood looking embarrassed for a while, then said, "Mistress is in the women's tent, I have to cook the midday meal, thankyougoodbye," then ran off to the cooking tent. Kengetar shrugged, then went to the women's tent and impatiently rapped on the flap.