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#1 [fr] 


HRP warning: For those who don't already know Ba'Rakha, it may be useful to point out that although truth is a concept he's mastered perfectly, he's completely unconcerned with the subject. He likes to gather information, even if he'll never tell you how (and frankly, you don't want to know), and fiddle with it until the result suits him. In his profession, that's pretty useful, but it's highly inadvisable to consider him a reliable source (at least, if you're not in his line of work). And since neither he nor his boss talk business in front of witnesses, and the vorax don't talk either, you're not aware of what was said that day in the Primes.



Ba'Rakha sits on a small mound, watching the caravan move away into the gloom of the Primes. The chieftain joins him, seemingly unconcerned by the vorax frolicking a little further away.

- What's this all about?

The Tryker picks up his dice from the moss, smiling.

- I thought it might be good for you to get back in touch with day-to-day operations, get a taste of the field, get out of your office and all that.

The chief sweeps her eyes over the landscape. The dzikus and plumash sting the area with their glow like a starry sky, and the wind whispers languorous or epic songs. Gubanis play on the moss between the fungao. There's everything to move a poet's, painter's or musician's soul. Which the chef is absolutely not.

- Lost.
- You can't say I didn't try.

Ba'Rakha stands up, looking no more disappointed than that, under the cold gaze of the leader. Well, her gaze is always cold, except when it's icy, so he's used to it.

- Why did you want me to take such an interest in this caravan?
- Actually, I wasn't interested in that one. I was more interested in discussing this one.

And Ba'Rakha points off to the side. The chieftain scans around, but can't see anything special. A tribe of idiot bandits, a ruin like the ones you find all over the Shadow Route, vaguely reminiscent of a windmill, but not the shadow, or the light, of a caravan.

- I'm not amused by your riddles.
- Not even a little? But I'm trying. But it's true that the Pyromaniacs didn't leave much, which is no doubt fortunate for the people of the Bark in general, and the locals in particular. But I can't help wondering who else it might have helped.

This time, the boss looks more calculating than angry.

- All right, what did you find?
- So far, just amusing coincidences. For example, a guy who disappears for years, lots of years, who doesn't give a sign of life to his beloved wife, but who continues to wear his wedding ring in spite of it all. Love is so beautiful, it always moves me.
- Spare me the unnecessary comments.
- You're breaking all my things here, you know that? Well... There's also this caravan where all the members and mektoubs die for some unknown reason. So far, so good - this is the Primes, after all, and everyone makes mistakes.
But! The Powers That Be don't call back any of the members of the caravan in question. Or at least, they're leaving some of them to rot in the sawdust. And yet there are Karavan altars, Kamis and even a marauding crystal in the area. And that's a hell of a lot less common. In any case, if I knew how to definitively eliminate half a dozen homins, I wouldn't bother with a few smugglers. I'd find much more interesting targets.
And then, among the Trykers who discover the remains, there's the wife of the guy I was telling you about earlier. And despite the goo damage... Oh yes, I forgot to tell you about the goo. There's a box with the symbol of the Black Circle and a few clouds of goo around the corpses. You might as well say that they're no longer really identifiable.
But! The man's wife, therefore, recognizes her dearly departed husband among the few remains. Her head's gone, there's not much left, she hasn't seen him for years, but it doesn't matter, she knows it's him, her heart can't doubt it. It's truly magnificent, people who love each other like that, who recognize each other no matter what the circumstances.
- Abrège, I told you.
- One could almost think you had a problem with love, you know. But then... Because of the goo, the only solution was to burn it all down, with real fire. And so, the Pyromancers kindly agreed to clean up the whole area, and all the evidence with it.
- Proof of what?
- There's no way of knowing, since they've disappeared, of course. Oh, you don't have to make eyes at me like that. The hominin remains were a priori Matis and wore Matisagoo uniforms. So we have a tribe in goo who have gone to the Black Circle for supplies, who are returning home to the Forest "Ba'Rakha doesn't even glance in the direction of the long-gone caravan" and who have a fatal accident on the way. So fatal that none of its members can come forward to tell their leaders what happened to them. One would hope, though, that by now they've learned to take the minimum precautions when transporting such things.
And on the other side of the wormhole, we have the Federation, whose army has failed to prevent this kind of traffic from passing through its territory. At the same time, their commander seems to love wandering around goo fields, and at least one of the taliari was so chummy with the Antekamis that she literally ate at their table. Oh yes, didn't I tell you? The wife in such a hurry to get rid of the remains of her drug dealer husband is a taliar.

How much do you want to bet she's been covering up his dealings all these years, even stocking up on supplies from him, before deciding he was getting cumbersome and it was time to get rid of him?"

Ba'Rakha looks very pleased with his deductions, and plays absent-mindedly with his dice while the chiefess ponders all this.

- And how could she ensure that none of the caravanners survived?

The Tryker sulks a little, before pulling himself together.

- No idea. But you've got to admit, it's a nice story.

The headmistress stares into space for a moment.

- Yui. A nice story. Plus, there's no more evidence.
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