KaMing’s Armory

I paced, back and forth, back and forth, across the circle. Nervous? No, never. Really! Just without direction. I’d heard of KaMing’s traveling armory before, of course – every child has – but I’d also heard of the hordes of bloodthirsty Mongols that traveled with it. I had always dreamed of looking through their treasures, the greatest weapons of the many lands they had raided, but their armory posed two difficult questions. How would I get through their camp, much less into the armory?

I was at a loss. Frustrated, I slammed my fist down onto a counter. Then it hit me. I could never look like a Mongol – my facial features are just too different – but I could look like a kitchen wench, captured from some nearby people during a raid. I began furiously searching my closet, settling on the most pathetic-looking, ripped blouse I could find, It wouldn’t offer me any protection, but if I was careful… I wouldn’t need it. I smudged a bit of coal on my face to make myself look underfed, hid a dagger up my sleeve, and then I was off.

I left my horse a mile or so outside their camp as dusk was falling, and I snuck past their sentries as quietly as I could. It wasn’t too hard to avoid them; they were tramping around on their horses, not listening at all.

As a beginner food preparer, I slipped easily into my role in their kitchen tents. My chopping skills may have even been a bit better than the rest, but I wasn’t embittered by true slavery. I chopped, roasted and seared my way through dinner, and then as the rest of the kitchen wenches bunked up for dinner, I snuck out. I walked as if on a mission, and I prepared an excuse (“fetching chickens for breakfast”) but nobody stopped me.

I was just reaching the supply train when I spotted my true goal, a large, sturdily-built wagon with a few Mongols sitting outside its entrance shining armor and polishing swords. Just walking in clearly wasn’t going to cut it. I walked around the armory wagon towards another of the food supply carts (I changed my mental story to “fetching cabbage” to suit) then slipped into the shadows.

The Mongols were sitting by the front of the wagon, but the back was left unwatched and unattended. I glanced around, and nobody was watching, so I slipped into the wagon. Covered as it was, nobody was likely to see me – and fortunately, nobody was inside.

I crept about, squinting to see in the near dark. The gleam of a rack of swords was readily apparent, but as I reached out to inspect their edges I knocked over a bundle of spears with my elbow. The clatter was so loud it made my insides squirm.

Horrified with my accident, I reached out blindly, grasping the first thing that came to hand. Then I snuck out the back of the wagon just as the men in front began to investigate the noise, and I went straight for the cabbages. I hastily stuffed my treasure into a large sack of cabbages, then I headed straight back toward the food tent, trying to look as downtrodden and slave-like as I could. I didn’t look back, even though their grumblings were tempting. I snuck back out of their camp the same night, with as little trouble as I’d had sneaking in.

I don’t think they noticed that a supple, leather whip was missing from their wagon. Maybe they’ll notice when they take inventory, if Mongols have even heard of such things. I, for one, am glad to have it. A little oil turned it from slightly dusty and misused to shiny and pliable. It is not the master-forged sword I had hoped to find in KaMing’s armory, but I am finding it much more useful than another blade.

Disrespect me now, peasants!