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 Post Posted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 8:47 pm 
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"It grows from a lot of ground, if that's what you're asking. There are, hmm, 20 farms now? 6 big ones, anyway." After a beat, Chip adds "Though it might not look just the way you expect while it's growing. There's usually a few steps between a field and your bowl."

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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:49 pm 
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Peter's eyes widen. "Twenty places?" he asks. "Wow. What does it look like when it grows? Does it come wrapped? What do you have to do to get flour? Oh, and sugar? Oh, oh, and eggs? Do they grow wrapped in something? What do they look like? We are going to go to Villa Lau, right? Shouldn't we start going? We're not going to get there if we don't start going!"

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 Post Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:05 am 
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Chip looks at him for a second, then says 'Most of the year it all looks like plants; trees, grasses, and bunches of leaves. Eggs, now; they're inside birds until they get laid. Chickens, ducks, geese, that sort of thing. I'll tell you about it as we travel."

To himself, Chip is considering that this fellow is about as far from the farmers Chip grew up around as any human being could possibly be.

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 Post Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:49 pm 
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Dock snorts. "I think there's been some focus lost. We need to go fast, after all. So logically the fast route is always the good one. Lets go south!"

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 Post Posted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:57 pm 
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Cafka glared at the ox beneath her. The ox didn't seem to notice or care about the shift in weight, or the new "passenger," and certainly didn't care about the glare it was receiving. After a few moments, the somewhat trained feral child let out a sound somewhere between a whine and a sigh. She was bored. She was mortally bored. She was feeling twitchy, pent-up, and mortally bored. After seeing what "driving" the load-bearing animals actually meant, Cafka growled when Adrian made an attempt to hand her the reins. "This is just a bad kind of herding." Cafka muttered under her breath. But she had made a promise to Adrian not to act up, and be a good Cafka, and she would. Maybe she could still get a chance to herd them later. It would certainly be faster than the pace they were going now. Cafka had been mildly interested in what Chip was saying, but the way that Peter kept butting in was getting on her nerves. "Puppy man like Hurda." She said to herself, nodding in agreement with her assessment of Peter's position within the group as compared to her old pack. Cafka stood up on the ox's back, sticking her arms out for extra balance as she turned around to face the wagon. "I agree with the doc-tor." She said, putting a little too much effort into her pronunciations. "We need to go fast, so let's go fast and take the fastest route. If we need food, we hunt. Cafka can fend for herself and Adrian. And if Emirate people want tribute, we can get food from them too." She turns her head back and glares at the ox again. "But these dumb things are still too slow. We need to make them move faster." Cafka turns to ride said dumb thing sidesaddle, before jumping off completely, and landing on all fours. She begins to walk beside the wagon, managing a surprisingly quick pace despite using all four limbs for the process. "Even Hurda could outrun these things." Cafka finishes with a small amount of disgust.

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 Post Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:04 pm 
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Chip looks at the two in a hurry. "I don't remember anyone saying this was an urgent cargo delivery." Pointing with a thumb, he adds: "They don't usually use oxen for those. And Cafka, the plains riders may not like the idea of outsiders hunting in their range. They may even want our food, instead of selling us any. A little bad luck, a little bad weather, and we may lose a little weight." With a slight grin he adds more generally "And while Horseshoe Meadow sounds nice, I think Villa Lau has a bit more to offer."

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 Post Posted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 3:23 am 
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Cafka's ears twitch, and she turns her head to the cart, and to Chip. She returns to a bipedal stance, and closes in towards the mechanic. Despite her better instincts and training, she's baring her teeth, and growling. "And I don't remember anyone saying you were in charge. Me, Adrian, and Dock all want to go the short way, and Peter did before you started trying to take charge." Cafka grips the side of the wagon, and leaps up onto the railing, sitting on her haunches, putting herself face to face with Chip. "This wagon is valuable enough to get hunted. Valuable enough to pay for protection. The short route means we get there faster, which means we meet less things we need to kill to keep the stuff safe and do our job. You don't want to depend on things that may not happen. I want to avoid things that will." She continues to glare for a few more moments, then leans away from Chip, and turns to the others. "But Cafka won't make the decision on her own. She's not in charge. What do es everyone else think?"

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 Post Posted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:38 am 
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Chip smiles. "Cafka, you're right. I'm not in charge, and neither are you. Of course, nobody else is either." Looking over at the others, he goes on: "The folks who hired us didn't name a trail boss. If we want one, we may as well choose them now."

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 Post Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:59 am 
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"Yes! We need to make the oxen move faster!" says Peter. "Then we can get to the place where the food grows out of the ground more quickly! How do we make oxen go faster? Maybe we should make a competition. Whoever can make the oxen go fastest can be trail boss!"

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 Post Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:06 pm 
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Chip turns back to Peter. "Oxen are strong animals, not fast ones. In a pinch they can trot or even run for a while, but then you have to let them stop and rest. They get farther in a day if they just keep walking."

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 Post Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 4:21 am 
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"Maybe they're just slowpokes." says Peter. "Do we have eggs? And flour? And sugar? I think I know how to make them want to go faster..."

He heads for the food bags, and begins rummaging around for ingredients.

"What was it that oxen aren't allowed to eat?" he asks.

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 Post Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:08 pm 
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"No, they're not slowpokes. And they can't eat any of that, except for maybe the flour," Adrian rubs his chin. "It seems like we're all wanting to get there faster, so the fastest route is the way to go."

Adrian takes the reins and guides the Oxen down the southeast path through Horseshoe Meadow and Emirate territory.

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 Post Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:01 pm 
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As Adrian takes the lead, the oxen rumble forward, heading towards the Southeast, and the Emirate Crater.

The first two days of travel are uneventful, with the steady growth of vegetable life the only real sign of progress. Though still somewhat scrubby, the grass-dotted steppes are still more than sufficient to feed their oxen, and larger plants are an occasional but welcome sight. Occasionally, they cross the path of collections of herders, driving their animals across the terrain, although they tend to give the travelers a wide berth. There are no ruins or other interesting structures worth investigating, although there are sufficient wild vegetables and game to supplement rations if need be.

Unfortunately, this state of affairs does not last indefinitely. Mid-morning on the third day, Cafka's nose catches a scent of horse on a wind blown from the northeast, roughly perpendicular to their travels. Dock's keen eyes also see a cloud of dust being kicked up, as if a number of men were riding rapidly in their direction.

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 Post Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:47 pm 
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Cafka sits up suddenly from the back of the wagon, ears as perked as they can, and nose lifted into the air. She takes a few moments to scrabble out of the small blanket pile she's been curled up on, and jumps out of the wagon, landing on all fours and whipping her head up towards the northeast. She lowers her legs, and stretches out her arms, getting her head as high as possible while maintaining her quadrupedal stance. She sniffs the air a few more times, and when she seems certain of the location of the scent, she barks towards the wagon. She barrels towards it on her haunches, and points in the direction of the scent, still locked in her head. "Horses that way! We got comp'ny!" She pauses once more to try and focus on the smell, attempting to see if there's any more she can catch. "No sweat, sex, or meat yet...may not be Ronaldo." She mumbles to herself. "But could be Emirates..." Cafka moves back to the wagon, and jumps on, placing herself as close to Adrian as she can while still putting herself between him and the oncoming horses. She narrows her eyes, and bares her teeth, ready for any potential threat.

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 Post Posted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:36 am 
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Over the past two days, Peter had been learning an amazing amount about plants; starting out from "that part is called a leaf" and progressing on from there. He also cheerfully assumed he'd be doing the cooking; which he's not bad at. Wild vegetables are an eternal wonder to him, and now that he knows what one or two of them look like, he'll cheerfully pounce on them wherever he might find them.

When Cafka points out the approaching company, Peter hops up onto the cart and looks in the direction she indicates. Then he waves both arms over his head and shouts "HELLOOOOOOO!"

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