This was supposed to be a blorp of description and then, well, this happened. This happens a couple years before the current Regine-visits-Cya story.
It was a nice time of year for a travel: early autumn, and a mild one at that, not too hot and not too cold. The roads were solid and smooth from Cloverleaf all the way to what had once been Denver; the first week went quickly. Not only were the roads smooth, but they were relatively safe; Cloverleaf had a long arm, and was known not to tolerate bandits.
Past Denver, that all changed. A week’s travel was as far as Cloverleaf maintained the roads, and thus was as far as their protection was assumed to reach. The roads got bumpy – nothing a couple quick Workings couldn’t smooth out, but that took time. And the bandits got brave – nothing the sight of Leo couldn’t handle, in most cases, but that, too, took time. Sometimes they actually had to fight some thief or slaver whose ambition was greater than their sense.
Outside of what had once been Des Moines and now was a collective of small city-states around Crater Lake, they ran into a different sort of threat – bureaucracy. The toll-booth takers wanted a tithe to use the one paved, clear, safe road, and they wanted written statements of intent, and a tithe of any profits made while in the Crater Lake region. What’s more, they didn’t take Cloverleaf clovers for payment, muttering something about “fairy money.”
It wasn’t the first time they’d run into things like that, so they paid the toll in more acceptable currencies and made mental notes about the situation. They could probably conquer the Crater States, but there were easier, cleaner ways to turn people’s opinions around. If trade didn’t do it, culture might. If that didn’t, maybe education. And failing that, well, they could always send a small team of their ambassadors.
It had been a few years – decades, really – since Cya had been running Cloverleaf actively, but it was still her baby, after all.
Just outside the mess that had been Chicago, they ran into a slaver ring. That took a day off of their time, but, while Cya could tolerate the existence of slavery, there were certain types of slavers that made her skin crawl.
Besides, it didn’t hurt to leave a reminder. Cloverleaf might be nearly two weeks’ travel away, but they would interfere where they wanted to, when people were doing awful things.
The Find Cya had done was sending them quite far afield indeed. They traveled through the night to get around once-Chicago, then settled for a day in a quiet little patch of forest to rest. Then it was on to Detroit.
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