"Different Path" - A Muzik Chronicles story by Alain Gomez

The city was enormous.  Bigger than anything she had ever seen.  Her tribe lived mostly in tents made of animal skin.  In the cold season they would have makeshift mud huts.

But this...

This was beyond anything she could have imagined.  There were beings everywhere.  Merchants lined the street selling goods.  Crowds flowed through the street like blood through veins.

Where should she even begin?  Who should she talk to about the invaders she had found?

Calen shifted her pack slightly to a more comfortable spot.  The blood had already drained from the severed heads of the Imperium soldiers that she had killed.  Still, they were heavy.  Taking a calming breath she decided to trust The Spirits to guide her and pushed her way forward in the crowd.

She wandered for what seemed like an hour.  The streets grew more crowded.  Calen started to look around for a place where she might rest when a voice cut through all the noise to address her: "Where are you headed, young one?"

She turned and saw an older scarlati sitting at what looked to be like some sort of food establishment.  She walked over to him.  "My name is Calen Natari.  I come from a tribe two days journey from here.  I would like to talk to the leader of this place."

The old stranger chuckled.

"You mock me?"

He sobered.  "No.  There is just much debate late as to who is really in charge.  But I bore you.  Why do you wish to find the leader?"

Calen hesitated a moment.  Why should she trust this stranger?  She shouldn't, but at least it was a starting place.  Perhaps The Spirits led him to her.  "I have evidence that the Imperium may be scouting out our planet and possibly invade."

"What evidence?"

She dropped her pack onto the table with a thunk and opened it for the man.

He viewed the contents without so much as a flinch.  "This is serious," he observed."

"I thought so."

"You killed these soldiers?"

"I did."

"By yourself?"

"Yes."  She found his tone to be slightly insulting.

"Leave the evidence with me.  I will see it reaches the proper hands."

"Why should I trust you?"

"You shouldn't.  But I am a person of.... influence... on this planet.  Besides, who else would you go to?"

Calen conceded the point with a shrug.  "I will give you the evidence.  But I will need a reward."

"What kind of reward were you thinking?"

"A ship.  I want the freedom to leave this planet.  The Spirits have told me in a dream I am destined for greater things."

The stranger looked at her for long moments; as if he were measuring her.  He seemed to come to a decision.  "The Spirits may be right in this case.  I'll give you a ship.  I'll even give you a job, if you choose to take it.  A job that will most certainly take your life down a different path."

"What job?"

"I want you to kill someone for me."


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