Amoz Croffut and Woodrow Manring are two characters in Senta and the Steel Dragon. Their main appearance is in The Two Dragons, though I foreshadowed them in the earlier books here and there. I really like when a character that fulfills part of the plot is someone the reader has seen or heard from before. Amoz and Woodrow make the journey to the lizzie city along with Senta and the others, facing adventure and adversity along the way.
Staff picked his way through the large feathered bodies to where the man lay. A quick examination revealed however that he was unharmed. He had apparently fainted from sheer terror. The only one injured was Manring, who had dived out of the way of the vicious claws, but not quite quickly enough, and had sustained a horrible gash across his forearm. Staff quickly drew a healing draught from his pack and poured half of the contents of the small brown bottle onto the cut and had Manring drink the remaining potion. Within seconds the bleeding had stopped and the injury had already begun to heal.
“Thank heavens for magic,” said Mr. Vever.
“Yes,” agreed Staff, then turning to look at Senta. “I assume that was your magical lightning?”
The girl nodded.
“These are beautiful,” said Femke Kane, holding up a long black tail feather. “Perhaps we should take some to present to the lizzies in Tsahloose.”
“All right,” replied Staff. “We earned them I suppose.”
“I think we should take some of this meat for our lunch,” offered Werthimer. “Have you ever seen a drumstick like this? What are these anyway?”
“They are called achillobators,” said Wissinger. “Colonel Mormont described them in his journal when he scouted this region. Considering what he wrote, we got off lightly. He said they were relentless once they had chosen a target. Looking at them, I think they make the point that dinosaurs and Mallonian birds are all from the same group of animals.”
“Maybe dinosaurs and all birds belong in the same group,” said Senta.
“Perhaps you should leave that type of speculation to trained naturalists.” Staff hadn’t realized until this point that Brown had recovered consciousness. Though the sorceress seemed to ignore his condescending tone, it made no friends among the others, whose imperiled lives she had so recently saved.
“Look out! That one’s still alive!” cried Croffut.
Brown let out a girlish squeal, sending most of the other party members into fits of laughter. The beast in question had indeed been moving, but only because Werthimer was struggling to remove its leg. A few minutes later he had finished butchering the animal, removing a large portion of breast meat as well as a drumstick and the party, now with Brown scowling angrily, moved on down the hillside.
When Staff judged that they had gone far enough that they would not be bothered by scavengers drawn to the dead achillobators, he ordered a stop for their luncheon. The group managed to quickly put together a large pile of wood for a fire, which Senta ignited with no more than a glance. Manring, whose wound had by now completely healed, pulled out a bag of seasoning and began preparing the meat.
“He was company cook in the Guard,” explained Werthimer.
Staff nodded. He wasn’t really paying attention. He was watching Senta unpack her bag. He had seen it a dozen times now but he still found it fascinating. Unlike every other member of the party who carried heavy haversacks, she carried a small purse-like bag no more that eleven inches square, yet she pulled the most remarkable amount of equipment from it. Now as he watched, she pulled out a camp chair that even folded up was two feet long. She set up the chair, sat down, and crossed her legs. With a dull thud, the pyramid of backpacks that had been hovering behind her all the while, crashed to the ground.
Staff turned around to find his face only inches from the brim of Femke Kane’s pith helmet. Though she eschewed feminine convention from the lack of foundation garments right on up to her unshaped brows, she was still a handsome woman. At five foot eleven, she scarcely had to look up to meet Staff’s hazel eyes with her sparkling baby blues.
“She’s quite something, isn’t she?” she said.
“Mmm,” he murmured noncommittally. He was thinking of how unlike the girl that had come to Birmisia all those years before, Senta now seemed, and how much she seemed like the sorceress with whom the girl had come.
It wasn’t long before the smell of roasted meat filled the air. Whether Manring was a great cook or the meat of the achillobator was naturally succulent, Staff didn’t know, but there was no question that it was excellent. Along with mixed fruit from tins, it was a fine repast. After eating, they rested for an hour before continuing on their journey.