Some time later a passing Gypsy band stopped to see what had produced so much smoke and fire on the horizon. Frightened, they whipped their horses, and sped off. But they passed a bundle of rags that moved on the ground.
A man ran to see what it was. He found a golden-eyed woman who spoke meaningless words at him. Money spoke louder. Elektra’s arm, with one intact arm-bracelet showing, reached toward him for help, and he changed his mind and decided to see what he could do. Immediately, women came running, for they too had seen the glint of gold. In an instant they had it off the woman and were fighting for it.
Since it was useless to fight the powerful women in the clan for a trinket, the man turned on his bare heel, and the whole troop left Elektra right were she lay. After all, they could not understand a single word she spoke, , and she could be a witch and cast bad poxes and spells on them and their mules. It was best not to meddle with her likes.
Elektra’s robe was in tatters. Her arm-bracelets, orichalc pectoral, power crystals, starfleet, and Royal Succession completely stripped from her. But even if the body was removed, the head of the serpent was very much alive to her drastically reduced circumstances.
She had two earrings in her pierced ears. The women had missed them, since her hair was so thick. If one caravan had passed that way, she reflected, there had to be another. She was right. Tinkling bells on the ears of the mules warned her of another caravan’s passing.
Evidently, this was a busy route, and with more care this time Elektra got them to take her back to the city. Holding the one earring in reserve--a magnificent diamond encircled with many rubies, star sapphires, and emeralds--she saw to it that she didn’t starve, and with a gem or two she cashed in she even went into business, serving mule caravans from a small inn with stables and wall-enclosed courtyard called the Royal Imperial Caravansary--a far cry, indeed, from her former circumstances, but at least the germ, the platform from which she might, with patience and cunning, recoup some of her losses.