Komm Susser Tod 2 3 3

[15:10] <Minaplo> [The carriage rocked as it moved over the bumpy, uneven, hilly road.-
[15:11] <Minaplo> [A back wheel skipped over a particularly large stone before landing with a shudder, jerking the two passengers within.-
[15:13] <Minaplo> [One had been sleeping. Liu Lin groaned as the impact shook her from her rest. She held a hand up to her eyes.-
[15:18] <Minaplo> [The carriage interior was made up of two long seats, each covered in cheap blankets. It had been on one of these that Lin had been sleeping, a cushion she'd stolen from Ju's living room under her head. The carriage was sturdily made of hard wood.-
[15:20] <Minaplo> [There was one door, to Lin's right; the door had a little window in it, covered by a curtain, but a breeze- heavy with the sweet scent of flowers and of fresh, wet grass- continued to blow it away, and the sun, which was hanging in the sky directly ahead of the window, was allowed to shine through, right into Lin's eyes.-
[15:20] <Minaplo> [Lin rolled over and grumbled.-
[15:21] <Minaplo> ["Oh no you don't." Came a warm, playful feminine voice. The other occupant. Lin felt a hand on her shoulder, shaking her gently.-
[15:27] <Minaplo> ["S'window's west." Mumbled Lin. "Sun's west. Af'noon. Still early. Go 'way."-
[15:29] <Minaplo> ["It's 1410 hours, for your information. That's not early." Said the other. "Do you need me to give you a wake-up call?"-
[15:32] <Minaplo> ["…" Liu Lin paused, then rolled over to face the other.-
[15:37] <Minaplo> [A woman, only a few years younger than Lin herself. She had shoulder-length black hair, dark grey eyes, rosy cheeks, a small, slightly crooked nose and thin pink lips. She was maybe half an inch shorter than Lin herself.-
[15:38] <Minaplo> [Ju and Lanfen had recognised the woman- practically a legend in her own right- on sight. Zhuge Minglei, Liu Lin's right-hand during the unification wars, and her XO at Beijing.-
[15:39] <Minaplo> [Lin looked her straight in the eye. "Yes."-
[15:42] <Minaplo> [Minglei bent down, an arm snaking around Lin's stomach to rest under her body, lifting her slightly. She kissed Lin on the lips, deeply- and Lin wrapped her own arms around Minglei and returned the kiss with a passionate, almost hungry enthusiasm. Their embrace lasted for a few minutes, after which Minglei pulled away- Lin only grudgingly letting her go- and held up a thermos. "You should be plenty awake now for tea,hmm?"-
[15:42] <Minaplo> ["If I say no, will I get another kiss?" Asked Lin teasingly.-
[15:42] <Minaplo> ["I don't think so."-
[15:44] <Minaplo> ["Then I guess I'll take the tea." Said Lin, slumping back onto her cushions. "To be honest, I think I've gone soft. My whole body is stiff from this damned seat."-
[15:45] <Minaplo> ["It's not just you. The only person who hasn't complained about the seats is Ju." Said Minglei, filling the thermos cup with tea and holding it out.-
[15:45] <Minaplo> ["Thank you." Said Lin, taking a big mouthful, spilling a little on her chin.-
[15:45] <Minaplo> [The rest she drank more slowly, the silent carriage heavy with the humid, swollen air with its cloying springtime perfume.-
[15:49] <Minaplo> [Lin had dressed light- only an olive tank top and a pair of white shorts. Her feet were currently bare. Despite that, she felt stifled and wearied, her tank top clinging to her sweaty skin. She wiped at her forehead irritably. "This -humidity-. I'd kill for a bath."-
[15:53] <Minaplo> ["No kidding." Said Minglei, whose own outfit was more or less identical, save for having a white t-shirt in place of a tank top. "And it's only going to get worse."-
[15:54] <Minaplo> ["Where are we?" Asked Lin.-
[15:56] <Minaplo> ["Back path through the Daba Mountains." Said Minglei. "Liang says we should be into the Basin within three days."-
[15:56] <Minaplo> ["That's good time." Said Lin.-
[15:56] <Minaplo> ["It is." Said Minglei. "Damn, what is it with Sichuan? Their mountains are hot, their air is hot, even their food is hot…"-
[16:01] <Minaplo> ["Thinking about it won't help." Said Lin. "How're the others going? Who's driving the carriage?"-
[16:02] <Minaplo> ["Nine Lives is up front." Said Minglei. "He's driving the carriage with Lanfen. He's been going along naming every flower, plant and tree to her as they go, explaining their botanical and floriographical meanings."-
[16:03] <Minaplo> ["And she's been eating that up like a cat in a cheese house." Said Lin.-
[16:04] <Minaplo> ["You have no idea." Said Minglei, rolling her eyes. "You should see it, it's sickening." She began fanning herself. "'Quick, tell me about this one, Nine Lives!' 'You're so cultured, Nine Lives!' 'I had no idea one person could know this much!'"-
[16:04] <Minaplo> ["All of this said in that ridiculous bedroom voice of his, of course." Said Lin.-
[16:04] <Minaplo> ["Of course." Said Minglei. "I honestly think he has trouble turning it off."-
[16:05] <Minaplo> ["It wouldn't surprise me. Where's Ju, then?"-
[16:06] <Minaplo> ["Oh, she's in the other carriage behind us with Bad Neighbour." Said Minglei cheerfully.-
[16:06] <Minaplo> ["Fantastic." Muttered Lin.-
[16:07] <Minaplo> ["They've been arguing non-stop for hours, just trying to one-up each other with how absurd their insults can get. I honestly think Bad Neighbour's a little impressed by it."-
[16:08] <Minaplo> ["And here I was, trying to keep a low profile." Said Lin wryly. "Ah, well. Let them have their fun. Things are bad as is without me spoiling their pastimes."-
[16:09] <Minaplo> [Lin had another few cups of tea before she finally sat up properly, Minglei offering her a wet towelette so she could wipe off some of the sweat.-
[16:10] <Minaplo> ["I don't even remember falling asleep." Said Lin.-
[16:10] <Minaplo> ["You crashed at 1720 hours yesterday." Said Minglei.-
[16:11] <Minaplo> ["1720? Serious?" Lin frowned. "So I've been out for 21 hours."-
[16:11] <Minaplo> ["Thereabouts." Said Minglei. "S'what you get for not sleeping from Beijing to Xian."-
[16:12] <Minaplo> ["Mmf. Have we eaten yet?"-
[16:12] <Minaplo> ["Not yet. Should I have them stop for lunch?" Asked Minglei.-
[16:12] <Minaplo> ["Yes, please." Said Lin.-
[16:13] <Minaplo> [And so Minglei opened the carriage door, leaning out. "Stop!" She shouted to the two carriages. "Lunch break! Lin's awake!"-
[16:25] <Minaplo> [The carriages ground to a stop. Lin slipped on some sandals and hopped out, watching as the rest of her entourage began to gather.-
[16:50] <Minaplo> [From the front of her own carriage came Lanfen, nimbly hopping to the ground. Behind her was Xun Liang- or as everyone called him, Nine Lives. A tall black-haired man with a thin, delicate-looking frame, he wore a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off of his fair skin. "Good afternoon." He said with a smile and a half-bow to Lin.-
[16:50] <Minaplo> ["Hey, Lin." Said Lanfen. "Did you sleep alright?"-
[16:50] <Minaplo> ["Not really." Said Lin with a small smile. "Did you?"-
[16:50] <Minaplo> ["Not really."-
[16:53] <Minaplo> [Raised voices, intertwined in furious argument, reached their ears. They turned to find Ju, nigh-perpetual scowl deep on her face, arguing with a man- Zhao Yi, or as everyone called him, for good reason, Bad Neighbour. Yi had black hair, tied up into a bun, and a powerful face full of hard edges, which matched his words perfectly.-
[16:57] <Minaplo> ["Your mother," Said Yi, "Once saw two dogs copulating in the street and, overwhelmed by inspiration, packed a satchel of food and clothes and undertook a journey deep into the mountains. There she found your father. I hear he couldn't come to your first day of school, though, since he was busy being hunted by the pound."-
[17:04] <Minaplo> ["That's nothing." Said Ju, scowling (as was Ju's wont). "When you were a baby, your mother took you to the butcher's, who gave her four pounds of pork. She went home, having forgotten all about you, but nevertheless walked away with more than she came in with."-
[17:04] <Minaplo> ["Better a pig's trade than a dog's daughter." Said Yi.-
[17:04] <Minaplo> ["Like this. The entire time, constantly." Said Minglei to Lin. "It hasn't stopped."-
[17:06] <Minaplo> ["Yi, Ju." Called out Lin. "Stop your bickering and come over here. I'd like to eat before the sun disappears behind the mountains."-
[17:07] <Minaplo> ["Yes, yes." Said Yi, flapping his hands irritably.-
[17:07] <Minaplo> [Ju took the lead, quickly half-running over to the gathering spot. "I'm here, Colonel Liu."-
[17:07] <Minaplo> ["Ju, please." Said Lin. "Call me Lin."-
[17:09] <Minaplo> [Nine Lives leaned over Lanfen's shoulder, smiling serenely down at Ju. "There are as many Lins in China as there are leaves in a forest," He said. "But Colonel Lius are as rare as jade."-
[17:09] <Minaplo> ["No poetry." Said Lin.-
[17:09] <Minaplo> ["Yes, did we really have to bring him?" Asked Minglei. "He's been insufferable this entire bloody time."-
[17:11] <Minaplo> ["Yes, perhaps if he'd been captured, he could've annoyed Mary Caine to death with his pretty words." Said Yi.-
[17:11] <Minaplo> ["Caine wasn't in a capturing mood, Bad Neighbour." Said Nine Lives with a smile.-
[17:11] <Minaplo> ["Even better." Said Yi instantly.-
[17:12] <Minaplo> [Lin clapped her hands together impatiently. "Food. Hurry up."-
[17:14] <Minaplo> [A few minutes later, one of their ration packs had been opened and raided. Lin now held a bowlful of instant noodles and an egg and pork roll. She slurped the former up rather messily, not using anything approaching to utensils, and took bites of the roll in between slurps.-
[17:15] <Minaplo> ["My dear Lin," Began Nine Lives. "The food isn't going anywhere, you know. It wouldn't kill you to slow down and eat with chopsticks."-
[00:04] <Minaplo> [Lin paused in her eating just long enough to reply. "Food's to be eaten." Said Lin. "So long as it's being eaten, then why should anything else matter?"-
[00:05] <Minaplo> [She dipped her egg roll into the noodle broth, then bit deeply into the pastry. Nine Lives frowned at this, his eyes narrowing, before he turned away with a slight huff.-
[00:07] <Minaplo> [… Only to catch the eye of Bad Neighbour. Neighbour stared unblinkingly at Nine Lives and, gaze unbroken, lifted his own egg roll and plunged it into his own broth with a great deal of deliberance.-
[00:08] <Minaplo> ["Damn you both." Muttered Nine Lives under his breath. He tried to ignore them as he tucked- neatly and cleanly- into his own food. Lanfen did the same, watching him closely.-
[00:29] <Minaplo> [After their lunch break, they returned to their carriages.-
[00:30] <Minaplo> ["Lanfen and I will take the reins now, Nine Lives. You can rest in the back with Minglei." Said Liu Lin, pretending not to notice, out of the corner of her eye, Lanfen's face momentarily fall.-
[00:35] <Minaplo> [Nine Lives had been tending to the horse driving the carriage. He looked up, frowning slightly. "Are you sure, Lin? I don't mind."-
[00:36] <Minaplo> ["It's fine. I prefer to be in the open." Said Lin.-
[00:36] <Minaplo> ["… Ah." Nine Lives nodded suddenly. "I understand. Ah, one other thing."-
[00:36] <Minaplo> ["What is it?" Asked Lin.-
[00:41] <Minaplo> ["Well, as you know-" He glanced at Lanfen conspiratorily- "I have some knowledge of meteorology. I believe we might be in for a rainstorm tonight."-
[00:42] <Minaplo> ["I see. I don't want to be caught on these mountains in a storm. We'll need to find a place to shelter." Said Lin.-
[00:48] <Minaplo> [Nine Lives gave her a nod, before finishing with the horses and climbing into the carriage.-
[00:48] <Minaplo> [Their journey continued.-
[00:50] <Minaplo> [It was quiet at the front of the carriage. Lanfen may have chatted away happily with handsome, calming Nine Lives and his soothing voice, but she seemed far shier around Lin.-
[01:01] <Minaplo> [Two hours passed. The sky above had in fact turned grey with startling speed, and in the far off distance Lin could hear the rumbling of thunder.-
[01:02] <Minaplo> ["Looks like Nine Lives was right." Said Lin, turning to Lanfen with a small smile.-
[01:03] <Minaplo> ["Looks like." Said Lanfen. "That's pretty impressive, huh?"-
[01:04] <Minaplo> ["Nine Lives is an impressive fellow. If he weren't, I wouldn't have taken him in." Said Lin. "But you knew that already. Minglei's told me about how he's been showing you that big brain of his."-
[01:19] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, he has." Said Lanfen with a smile. "But, ah… It's not -that- useful, all the stuff he talked about today, is it? Flowers and trees…"-
[01:25] <Minaplo> [Lin smirked.-
[01:25] <Minaplo> ["W-What?" Asked Lanfen cautiously.-
[01:25] <Minaplo> ["I think I'll tell him that." Said Lin. "And I think he'll be very hurt."-
[01:30] <Minaplo> ["W-What? Oh no, please don't…" Said Lanfen quickly, her eyes widening.-
[01:43] <Minaplo> [Lin grinned, then chuckled. "Don't worry, I won't. Sometimes I agree with you, but you'd be surprised." Said Lin, looking out at the dense foliage that enveloped the mountains. "Not many people know what Nine Lives does, but it's not that the knowledge is useless, it's just that we need less people to know it. If one of us fell ill, why, I bet Nine Lives could find a herb in these very mountains to cure us, like Hua Tuo."-
[01:49] <Minaplo> ["… What, seriously?" Asked Lanfen dubiously.-
[01:50] <Minaplo> ["Hahaha. Maybe." Said Lin. "More likely he knows what trees around here grow edible food or can be used for shelter."-
[01:52] <Minaplo> ["So it's just like woodcraft." Said Lanfen. "We were taught some survival skills when we were part of the militia, but not a lot."-
[01:53] <Minaplo> ["Mmm." Lin nodded. "I'm not bad at it myself, although I think Minglei's a little better at it than I am."-
[01:57] <Minaplo> ["Yeah…" Lanfen went to say something, then stopped. It didn't go unnoticed.-
[02:15] <Minaplo> ["What is it? Say it." Said Lin quickly.-
[02:15] <Minaplo> ["Er." Lanfen fidgeted, looked away, then a second later glanced back at Lin. "You and miss Zhuge seem pretty close, is all." Said Lanfen quickly.-
[02:29] <Minaplo> ["You don't approve?" Asked Lin.-

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