As the small group passed through the twenty-foot high gates of the city, they were surrounded by local villagers. They all shouted at Kobo in a language that Vic and BA were not familiar with. Kobo was answering questions, occasionally laughing.
He smiled his wide, white-toothed smile at the two brothers. "They want to know where you're from. I told them the US of A and that you are the famous von Crapp Brothers, Adventurers."
"And what else are they saying?" asked Vic, looking at the crowd.
"They want to know if you are staying for dinner!" Kobo laughed and translated for the crowd, so everyone was laughing.
"I can take the guards and we can escape down the next alley to the left," muttered BA.
"Let's give it a bit more time." Vic studied the natives as they passed among them. Tall, fierce people with beautiful skin and strong figures predominated. None were fat, though occasionally he saw an older person, shriveled with age, sitting on an upper veranda watching the small parade.
BA rolled his shoulders. "Right. Well, as long as we have some sort of plan, I'm good."
"Waiting is a plan," whispered Vic.
"Up to a point," BA growled back, looking at the guards.
The narrow streets were lined with small stone huts, sometimes sharing a wall, and sometimes separated by a thin line of red dirt and dark stone. Plants grew in tiny tended lots of dirt or in clay pots. Each hut was thatched with long grasses or tiled with thin slabs of grey stone; heat waves shimmered from the latter, though the air was noticeably cool. Occasionally during the walk through the town small children would dart past the warriors and touch the two men on their bare arms. At first Vic and BA pulled back, but eventually they just smiled at the children.
"It's the hair," Kobo said after the first dozen children.
"What about hair?" BA asked, looking up at the tall man.
"The hair on your arms. They say you are monkeys."
"We're not monkeys. We're gorillas." BA smiled widely, carefully noting all the alleyways. Kobo translated and everyone erupted in laughter.
"I thought you had other visitors to this place." Vic looked around. "Though I can't say this is the best welcome we've ever had."
"Though it isn't the worst," muttered BA.
Kobo grinned widely. "Oh, we have many visitors, but very few muzungus - white people. Most are people like us, yet seeking treasures written by Haggard." The last word still sounded like a curse. "And, of course, that is why you are here also."
"Well, partly." BA looked at Vic for help, but Vic seemed lost in thought. "Okay, mostly," he growled, his voice low, "though my brother and I make our living as Adventurers, so we often seek out the truth of the novels written by famous men. Haggard is one of those. Jules Verne is one we like well enough. We're thinking about Burroughs quite seriously, but haven't a clue how best to proceed on those except for the Tarzan novels."
Kobo continued grinning. "Ah, Verne we know, and Burroughs also. The Tarzan baffles us. We think he…" Kobo frowned. "What is the word? Ah! Invented Tarzan, though we hear stories from south… It is no matter. We cannot have travelers wander in our city, spoiling our way of life. It would bring badness down upon us."