Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Houses on Pillars of Stone|
We started early, I walked beside the lead horses as Ellie sat on the wagon and worked on her new dress. Little One and Charles seemed content to ride in back and sleep. The farms we passed were well kept and they waved at us. We stopped beside a wide fast moving stream and I decided to fish for dinner.
Ellie thought I was crazy since it was cold but sat on the bank and watched. I hooked a huge fish and backed towards the bank as I fought it. She was jumping up and down clapping as I kept fighting the fish. I glanced at her and almost dropped the rod. An old man was standing behind her watching me curiously.
I gestured and Ellie turned as I backed out more and finally lifted the fish and walked ashore. The old man’s eyes were shining as he looked at the two foot long fish. He glanced at me finally, “That looked fun.”
I grinned and turned to start cleaning the fish. He watched everything I did closely. I handed the fish to Ellie, “put this by the fire.”
I looked at the old man, “Want to try your luck?”
He grinned, “I would love to.”
I started showing him what to do and a moment later he took off his old worn boots and waded into the stream. Beginners luck was with him because within seconds a huge fish exploded out of the water as it took the fly. He yanked the pole back and started reeling as I tried to calmly remind him what to do.
It was a quarter hour before he brought the fish ashore. I showed him how to clean it and then led him to the fire. I filleted the two fish and seasoned them before starting to grill them. Ellie was skeptical but made flat bread and pulled out a small wheel of cheese. Both Charles and Little One had devoured the parts of fish I had tossed to them.
While we ate dinner we talked and I found out Chris (the old man) was returning to the area with the burrowers. He grinned at us, “I built houses along the way on stone pillars to stay off the ground and away from burrowers. Burrowers are good for the soil, I farm the valley and they kept the pests away from my crop.”
I grinned, “no game to hunt?”
He laughed, “Burrowers taste good if you roast them.”
Ellie shuddered but I pointed to the two fillets she had eaten. She actually grinned before sticking her tongue out. Chris laughed and we talked about the rumors of orcs. He snorted, “they be dumb, if they come around my farm they’ll just be more worm food.”
Ellie nodded and then stood to stretch. She climbed into the wagon as I stood and said good night. Chris just rolled out a bed roll and laid back to watch the stars. Little One and Charles both crawled onto us when we laid down and started purring as we pet them and whispered to each other.
I was up early but Chris already had the fire going. I heated water for porridge and coffee before checking the horses and harnessing them. I glanced at him when I was done, “What about horses?”
He lifted an eyebrow, “What about them?”
I smiled, “the burrowers? I don’t think you pull the plow yourself.”
He grinned, “I have small stalls built up beside the houses. The trick is to get the horse up the narrow ramps.”
I nodded and glanced at the wagon as Ellie climbed out. When we left Chris tossed his heavy pack in the back of the wagon and bent to scoop Little One up before walking beside me, “stay on the road and I’ll show you where the way houses are.”
I smiled as Little One started purring and Ellie grinned as she bent to lift Charles. He had decided that if Little One was getting attention he should have it too. I let my super long hang as I carried the bow and started looking for targets to practice on. I thought these houses on pillars were only a few feet above ground.
When we turned off the road in the late afternoon it was to see a house twenty feet above the ground. The stalls beside the house turned out to be small barn like sheds and not small stalls. It was more like the house was part of the barn. He was right about getting the horses to climb the ramps though.
We had to blindfold them to get them to do it. The houses were black with slate grey wooden boards. There wasn’t a stove, just a central stone fireplace. We carried bedding up the ramp with what we needed for dinner. Chris grinned as Ellie started making dinner, “Burrowers are mostly drawn to movement and sound so the wagon should be fine.”
As it began to get dark I went out to see if any Burrowers would come up. Ellie and Chris came to stand with me and Chris pointed down close to one pillar, “see the ground moving? I buried the Pillars deep and solid so they can’t move them but they can sense us here.”
I bent to pick up Little One, “You stay up here tonight.”
She purred and butted her head against me and I sighed, “I must be getting soft.”
Chris snorted and Ellie bent to lift Charles into her arms. I woke often during the night and each time I looked for the cats before walking out and looking around. A week later we walked down into a wide beautiful green valley with a river running through the middle.
Chris chuckled, “The Burrowers stay away from the river because they can drown.”
His house was in a large grove of trees beside the river. The house was twenty feet in the air with a wide barn connected to it. A women met us as we came near and Chris embraced her before turning to us, “My wife, Natalia.”
After introducing us she looked at him, “I saw an orc.”
Chris shook his head and looked at us, “they have come this way a few times but never learn.”
They helped move our horses up into his barn and then our sleeping things. I sat on the wide porch with Little One in my lap as the sun set. Chris sat beside me and pointed towards a field, “dumb orcs are going to end up as Burrower food.”
I watched in the dim light as the orcs suddenly yelled and jumped around before starting to scream. It went on for a few more minutes before it became quiet. I glanced towards Chris, “Don’t the orcs come up through the trees?”
He chuckled, “They used to but I put up a high stone wall with orc skulls lining it. The dumb buggers won’t even climb over it if they can go around.”
Suddenly there were a lot more screams. I glanced at Chris as I lifted my rifle, “That isn’t a few orcs.”
He shifted, “it doesn’t sound like it.”
I used the thermal scope and saw a few orcs running through the trees towards us. I sighed and began firing. One after another they dropped and something started jerking the bodies around. Chris moved towards the door, “Those dumb orcs have the Burrowers in a feeding frenzy.”
I looked at him as he went into the house and went back to killing the few orcs that came into sight. The screaming continued in the distance and seemed to grow as if from a lot more orcs. Ellie knelt beside me, “Chris had his wife put out the lights. What do you see?”
I glanced at her but had to return to killing orcs, “the Burrowers are going crazy and the few orcs heading this way have drawn some closer.”
She sighed and sat, “How many can they eat?”
I grinned because the screaming was still loud, “By the sound I would say a lot. They are probably drawing every Burrower in the valley.”
She was silent as I killed a couple more orcs before they stopped coming. It was an hour before the screams stopped. I kept watch from the chair but no more orcs entered the trees. Chris sat beside me and sighed, “sleep and I will wake you in a few hours.”
I smiled and glanced at him before going in. Ellie was sitting with Natalia talking quietly beside the embers from the fire. I stretched out and pet Little One before relaxing. I woke to a touch on my foot and looked at Chris, “More orcs.”
I sighed and moved the cat off me before standing and walking back to the porch. There were more screams but they were further away. Chris sat, “Sounds like down by the narrows.”
I sat beside him and leaned back before using my scope. I relaxed and we just listened to the mayhem down the river. It finally quieted and Chris sighed, “you better wait until the sun is well up before going down.”
I looked at him as he stood, “They will calm down once the sun is up.”
I nodded and leaned back to relax. As the sun began to rise I was able to see the carnage from the few orcs in the trees. I went in and woke Ellie and went to check the horses. The sun was well up when I finally started leading the horses down the ramp. None of the Burrowers had bothered the wagon and everything seemed calm.
Chris gave us directions to a sheltered cave on the other side of the valley. He said it had a rock floor so we would be safe. When we walked out of the trees it was to a scene of slaughter. We went up river to a crossing and waded across. Ellie kept Little One and Charles on the wagon the whole day as she silently watched the valley.
She shook her head, “These Burrowers are killing this valley.”
I looked at her and then around at the lush green valley, “At least it is green and beautiful.”
She smiled, “They kill everything that moves. Before long the food supply will be gone and they will either move on or change.”
I grinned, “Chris said they taste good.”
She looked at me before shaking her head, “And how do you catch one without the others eating you?”
I smiled smugly, “you go fishing. Use a tree or rock cliff. Throw bait out and drag it. Have a strong hook in the bait and when they take it...”
Ellie laughed and slapped my shoulder. It was almost lonely walking across the lush valley with no animals moving. I glanced at her, “Maybe you’re right. Someone should run trap lines and start killing the burrowers.”
She smiled, “We could stop for a few days if you want to try fishing for burrowers.”
I grinned, “lets find the cave first.”
Ellie grinned and took my hand as we walked. It was noon when we walked past the cave and stopped to look. It was in a low stone bluff and more of a wide crack in the stoneface with a trickle of water. Ellie did something to sweep the rocks on the floor to the side and made a stone circle for the fire.
I checked inside deeper and found a large space to put the horses and we started unloading. I soaked some of the smoked meat we had in the water before taking a walk with Ellie. As it started to get dark I moved the horses in and Ellie made sure Charles and Little One were on our bedrolls.
I had cut a long thick sapling and made a barbed hook to use with some cord. I threw rocks until I heard something and looked through my night scope to see burrowers. I put a small hunk of meat on the hook and threw it out before slowly dragging it back. I barely started pulling when a burrower grabbed it and the fight was on.
Ellie was jumping up and down as I slowly backed into the cave and pulled the burrower in. It was fatter then I thought it would be and longer. It was easily eight inches thick and maybe ten feet long.
Once it was on the stone floor of the cave and I had a clear look at it I grabbed the camp hatchet and moved to cut the wide head off. It almost looked like something from a movie with dozens of spines sticking out. I began cleaning and skinning it and Ellie reluctantly took the meat to broil it in our fire.
I took the remains and tossed most of it after putting the hook through some. I didn’t get a chance to pull it back as another burrower grabbed it. I was surprised but yanked the sapling rod back and then started walking backwards. Chris was right, burrower did taste good and Ellie could only shake her head and grin after eating her fill.
I caught ten before stopping and going to bed. I woke to the dawn light and Little One on my chest. I pet her before getting up and starting the fire. I cut up one of the burrowers to grill for breakfast and let Charles and Little One eat some raw. After the sun was well up I led the horses out and harnessed them to the wagon.
Ellie helped and then we were walking along the old trail. It was several hours before we came to the gap through the hills. There were a lot of torn apart remains and a few wagons outside the gap where people had tried to camp. We looked through the wagons and ended up with a few more things.
Ellie did something to carve a warning into a large boulder as well as directions to the cave. The floor of the gap was thick with several layers of stone. After we came out on the other side we headed towards a distant column of smoke.
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