Eight hours into our trip the cograil comes to a screeching, sudden, horrible halt. The noise is deafening, we are thrown around in the end car as we crash and tip, coming to rest at an angle that is not natural for this beast of a machine at all. As my companions scramble to get out of the tilted car, I a stunned and can’t seem to get any of my limbs working… until people start getting shot around me. Under attack by elves wearing ridiculous red hats I stay hunkered down until all the bravos have exited and headed into the fray. With a sinking feeling in my stomach I head towards the front of the cograil hoping to see what has become of the engine and my M.U.L.E. Through the intervening cars I scramble and crawl coming out onto the tipped coal car to see my lovely perpetual motion carrier on its side in the tall grass beside the track. The engine itself is a total loss to us, on its side and where it will stay until workers can get a crane out here to lift it back upright. The fight is over faster than one would think it could be, with several of the Red Hats being taken captive.
I have to admit at this point that I did not take part in much of anything that went on, being too wrapped up in dealing with the righting and repairing of the M.U.L.E. to really notice. However. When I do join the world and the gentlemen again, and I use that term lightly, the tension in the air is palpable. I still am not certain what went down between them all, but the captives were set free without weaponry and the M.U.L.E. was loaded with the our and the other passenger’s kit, along with the coal man who’s leg was badly broken, all under a pall of what, I’m not certain, but it wasn’t happy fuzzy camaraderie.
What is it about men that they must keep secrets? Why must they posture and push to be at the fore, be percieved as the smartest, the most clever, most handsome, most desirable, biggest muscles, biggest… well… you know. I do not comprehend the opposite sex, yet I am surrounded by them. Even the dog is male. How did I manage that? How am I going to keep them from back biting and undermining each other to the point of our little group’s failure?
It took two days to walk to Hawthorne Town along the cograil. I spent much of those two days furious, frustrated and even a little frightened. Thinking on the men around me, looking back on observations made previously, tallying up little comments and even body language I came to the conclusion that I will probably never understand the opposite sex. I do think I might have some insight into the men around me, for instance, Icharus who is a simply beautiful man, charming, gregarious, funny, is full of deep seated anger that drives him to many rash choices, although they often seem to turn out for the best I cannot believe such wanton chance taking can be good for his health, or mine for that matter. Ed… now Ed, is highly intelligent, witty, even charming when he chooses to be so. What drives him eludes me. I know there is something that IS, in fact, driving him…. but what, is a mystery. I can conclude that whatever it is serves the Marquis purpose and only the Marquis purpose. He will bear watching. If I am going to be complicit in his schemes I need to make sure my eyes are open and I am agreeing with that I am encouraging. Roman is easy. He is driven to right the wrongs of the world. He spent his life on the wrong end of it all and he is determined to make a difference. I trust Roman more than I trust any of them. His motivations and drivers are right out there in the open for everyone to see. Darius on the other hand is an enigma. He goes toe to toe with Icharus, questions Ed constantly and has strong fundamental beliefs, however, he keeps those close to his chest. I like the fact that he had been a scout… I like that he is open about the disaster that caused him to resign… I honestly hope he finds the redemption that he so obviously seeks… however… until I know more of his inner workings I will keep my eye on him as well.
So. Walking two days to Hawthorne Town with a group of cantankerous men who make no sense to me was harder than those days spent in the Savage Lands hurt, tired, dirty, hauling all my supplies on my back. I don’t much desire to repeat either experience any time soon. Men.