The last scene of Part 1...
The night was starting to press in as the three travellers stopped the cart. Khory gathered wood, and Elena started the fire, while Kieran poked around the cart loaded with the ruined remains of the treasures that had been in the tombs.
Elena smiled, looking over. "You look like you're in Heaven, kid. Anything interesting in there?" She pulled some dried meat from a pouch, passing half to Khory, and started eating.
"Maybe." Kieran raised a long, metal hose and poked it tentatively. "I mean, it's mostly bits and pieces, but I think that the tomb was some sort of First Age storage facility. There weren't any actual graves, and there was all of this stuff..." He frowned, picking a small glass-like nozzle up and tentatively trying to affix it to the hose, before sighing. "I dunno. Light's not great. I think there's a crystal that's supposed to go here..." Humming quietly, he reached into his belt, pulling out a hammer and small wrench, and started playing with the pieces in the cart.
Khory shook his head with a smile, taking a bite of meat. "If we get a chance to hunt, I'll cook us up something nicer tommorow." He glanced over at the cart, and looked to Elena. "He gets focused pretty easy, don't he?"
"Yeah, Kieran's always been like that." Elena smiled, leaning back and holding her hands in front of the fire. "Things fascinate him. He takes after his father."
"Mm."Khory ate for a moment. "I guess you're his mom?"
Elena coughed, choking on the meat she was chewing. By the cart, Kieran looked up in alarm, and Khory slapped her on the back. Coughing, she glared at him and took a swig of water. "Just how old do you think I am, pal?" She laughed, then, shaking her head. "No, I'm not his mother. Just someone who's taking care of him."
"Elena's been looking after me for years." Kieran drew a metal box from the pile, tapping it experimentally and comparing it to the hose, and then set it aside, reaching for another one. "My parents were merchants, in the River Provinces. They were killed in a bandit raid when I was fourteen." He shrugged. "My dad was a thaumaturge, working for a scavenger lord. The caravan was attacked by a rival, Elena thinks. Long time ago."
Khory nodded, chewing thoughtfully, and stared into the fire. "Fair enough. Ain't got no family, myself. Long time." He smiled wryly. "And aren't we a cheerful bunch. Where're we bound, chief?" The last question was directed at Kieran, who looked up again with a raised eyebrow.
"Sorry, what?" He frowned, looking at Elena. "Um. Actually, I dunno."
"The Haslanti would be a good bet." Elena smiled. "They've got outposts within a few weeks of here, and they usually like to buy First Age scrap - especially if you get any of that stuff half-working. Or we could head east towards Halta."
"Nah, west's good." Kieran smiled, and then his smiled widened to a grin. "Ah-hah!" He fished into the pieces of metal, coming up with a small, shining white crystal. "Perfect." Fitting the crystal into one end of the nozzle, he very carefully screwed it into the hose, and then sat back. "Essence focusing device. I think it might be a weapon, actually; not half finished, yet, but still..." He grinned, looking over to the others, and then his smile faded as he looked past them. Elena, catching his expression, slid her sword halfway out of its scabbard, frowning, and held one hand over her lips, half-turning to catch a glance of whatever had caught his attention.
There was a figure in the shadows at the edge of the firelight, crouched low. Elena looked to Khory, who nodded once, and then over to Kieran, and then she raised her voice. "Greetings, stranger. Do you want to share our fire?" Khory and Kieran tensed, ready in case the stranger wasn't friendly, as the shadow straightened slowly.
After a moment, the figure all but dashed forwards, coming into the light and shivering. Kieran gaped. "Hey, you're the girl from the tunnels!" She didn't look any better now than she had then. She was still wearing the clothes she had had in the darkness below the mountains, and her hair was stuck to her with sweat. She looked around, gulping a few times, and then spoke.
"I... can I... can I come with you?"
There was a silence, for a moment, and then Elena sighed. "What's your name, girl?"
"N..nina." She paused, hugging herself against the chill, and swallowed. "I...thank you. For saving me. I can help with travelling. I can hunt..."
"Hey, of course you can come along." Kieran set his gadget down and hopped off the cart. As he stepped towards Nia, she flinched slightly, but held her ground, and he stopped a few steps away from her. "Where are you heading to?"
"I have family. In the west." She paused, licking her lips. "I didn't mean to sneak, but I don't know where else to go." She shivered again, and sat down abruptly. "I didn't have... I didn't..."
"It's alright." Elena smiled, and nodded. "You can come with us, for a while. How far west are you going?"
"F...far. Islands, in the west." After a moment, Nia smiled back, holding her hands to the campfire. "Thank you." She looked around the three, torn between happiness and fear. "You're very good..."
"What would we do, leave you wandering?" Kieran walked to the packs, getting a bag of meat and nuts, and walking over to Nia. She flinched again, for a moment, as he held it out to her, and then cautiously took it. Kieran stepped back, sitting down himself. "Now, I know for a fact that none of us slept last night, so let's get to sleep."
"Go ahead, I'll take first watch." Elena smiled, and the others nodded. Khory yawned, and lay down on the dirt. Nia spent a few minutes eating from the pack before laying down, as close to the fire as she could get, and closing her eyes. Kieran spread out his cloak below him, using his pack as a pillow, and was soon asleep.
"Wake me for the second watch." Khory, lying on the ground, watched the two younger people sleeping. Nia whimpered once, in her sleep, and twitched, before slipping deeper into slumber. Kieran slept quietly, seeming peaceful. Khory chuckled wryly. "What a bunch we are, ehn? An Anathema kid, an over-the-hill soldier, another old one who's weak to boot, and a girl afraid of her own shadow. We're gonna wow 'em in the North."
"Over the hill?" Elena leaned over, smacking Khory across the head. "I'm thirty-four, you old geezer."
Khory chuckled again, leaning back and closing his eyes. "And I'm thirty-six. Well past our primes, aren't we?" A smile on his face, he drifted off into sleep. Elena watched him for a moment, shaking her head, and then looked over to Kieran and Nia. She sighed, turning her attention to the night beyond the campfire. It would be an interesting journey, that was certain...