"Just horrible. He took that beautiful gun with him and it was destroyed."
Dog eyed him.
"Well, all right, we backed up, grabbed the idiot and hit the gas, centimeters ahead of the rhino's horn . . . but the gun was toast."
Dog managed to not laugh. Cleared his throat. "Indeed, a great tragedy. So . . . what's the schedule look like?"
Ice nodded at the fence. "I need another week to shift the drop off points for logs, then I ought to be good to head east. A couple of days to show you around—to the people and around the forest—then the wedding hunt can proceed."
The Chief of Police nodded. "That shouldn't take more than a week . . . else, we'll send you off as unsuitable."
Dog tried hard to look worried. Judging by Ice's grin, failing. One trusts that no one is off beating the bush and scaring everything away!
There was a road all the way to Mo Zany Gangway. So long as one wasn't picky about what constituted a road.
Three days of following a dirt track, occasionally with a bit of gravel in low spots, winding through trees that any sane road builder would have cut down . . . Over ridges without a trace of road cut, the utes leaning to the side. Single lane bridges over creeks. Where there weren't fords.
A day and a half from the last village that had a fuel dump and charged a mind boggling amount for it . . .
Ice stopped at a stone outcrop where they could look down into a broad valley. Dog caught glints of sunlight off water and marked the winding path of thicker trees that flanked a river. A few open fields with rows of crops. A high wall and rooftops, too far away to see details.
"Mozany Gungwa." Ice eyed it. "Looks like they're expanding the outer wall. Excellent."
Then down through the forest, winding, of course, for another hour, until they turned a corner into bright sunshine and parked in a spot near the new village wall.
Their two utes weren't the only vehicles. A decrepit truck was parked there, and looked like it might have died there.
Ice nodded at it. "Looks like a trader's in town. He's going the hate your guts."
Dog grinned and hauled his chest out of the back of the ute. Presents for everyone, and the chest for Zizi's household goods, to bring away with her. Old Gods, I hope I'm not hurting her, taking her away from her home.
The wall was not the logs he'd expected, but rather sawed and tight fit together. And the village bigger than he'd expected paved with flat stones, tidy wooden houses with bright trim and carved eaves. Trees and gardens, both vegetable and flower.
"The gardens are an indication of wealth, land inside the walls is expensive. The large village square is an indication of the status and well-being of the village as a whole. Mozany Gungwa has never had to sell plots of the commons to get through a bad stretch." Ice pointed at a bench and Dog set his chest down with a grunt. He'd been lectured about this part, and he and Zizi had had fun buying it all . . .