Gender: Male Age: 21 Location: N/A
|Introduction: Not my Storie.. Eric Storm gets all credit|
Don fell, flailing his arms, until he bounced off a rock. Quickly, he grabbed for it, finding a purchase and holding on for dear life. He could still hear the beating of Dan-Gelmer's huge wings. He knew he had to get back up to help his friends. He took one more look behind him, to see if he could spot Annie, but she was lost in the undergrowth.
Taking a deep breath, Don began his chant. In seconds, he was floating upward. He'd fallen only ten feet below the edge of the road, and he was soon standing on top of the wagon, which appeared to be the easiest place from which to fight.
Susan, who had been stunned by Don's disappearance over the edge, was galvanized into action by his reappearance. She grabbed the reins of Jeremy, and wheeled him around to face the direction that Dan-Gelmer had flown off to. He could be seen turning around for another attack. Gill patted Susan on the shoulder before slipping off the large horse, and nearly hurting himself.
Susan paid no attention as she stood herself up on the horse and drew an arrow. Nocking the arrow to the bow, Susan waited for a clean shot. Don, seeing that she was ready and had the best weapon, chanted an incantation to power her arrow. As the dragon got near enough, Susan let loose with her projectile. It arced a blue streak through the sky, and embedded itself in the monster's soft underbelly. The creature screamed in rage, and flew off into the distance. They knew it was not seriously wounded. The same could not be said for their team.
The entire team took a large, collective breath, and then they began to look around at each other to spot problems. Don looked over at Gill and Susan, to see that both of them were uninjured, as was their horse, Jeremy. He nodded to Gill, to let him know that he, also, was okay. He next inspected the wagon he was still standing on, and Nightmare. The wagon was fully intact, and Nightmare appeared uninjured, though it was hard to tell since she wasn't moving around.
He spotted Katie near the edge of the road, and she was staring off at something, but he didn't know what. What mattered to him at the moment was that she was fine, and that was a vast relief to him. He had to look around to find Julie, and that's when he became worried. Julie was sitting on the ground, her back against the rock of the cliff that rose above them. She was holding the back of her head, and she looked a little dazed.
Don swiftly climbed off the wagon and went to her side, kneeling down to look her over. He looked into her eyes, and they seemed to focus on him, but her expression looked a little dreamy.
"Julie? Who am I?"
"You're cute," she said with a smile.
Don smirked, but shook his head at the thought. "C'mon, no kidding around. What's my name?"
"You're Don," she said, as if to a backward child.
"Where are you?"
"Beats the fuck out of me. I haven't known that for weeks."
"What just happened?"
"This big fuckin' lizard just tried to cut my head off. Weren't you paying attention?" she said exasperatedly.
Don sighed in relief. He smiled at her. "I was checking to see if you had a concussion. You wouldn't have been able to answer that if you did."
"Oh," she said, and then smiled. "You were worried about me."
"Is it just your head?"
"I hurt everywhere. That damned horse threw me when it died."
Don knew that only Julie could blame a dead animal for hurting her. He tried not to smile at her. "Let me take a look at your head, okay?"
Very slowly, Julie leaned forward and took her hand away. Don looked closely, but saw no shining white bone, which was a relief. He could tell that it wasn't indented, so he figured she didn't have a skull fracture of any kind, just a lot of blood and pain. Closing his eyes, he began a healing chant. It took him over a minute before the wound was closed, and he was sweating with the effort by the time he was done.
Opening his eyes, he said, "There. It's probably going to hurt like hell for a few days, though."
Julie reached back to feel it, and winced at her own touch, but she still smiled at him. Then she gave him a big hug. When she let go of him, her smile faded. He could see she was looking over his shoulder, at about where Katie was standing. The pain he saw in her eyes was easy to read.
"We're going to find her, Jules," he said quietly.
"Promise?" she asked with tears in her eyes.
"It's pointless," Gill said, having overheard their discussion. Don stood up to face his friend.
"Excuse me?" Don asked incredulously. "I don't see going to find a friend as pointless."
"She's almost certainly dead," Gill said, and immediately regretted it, as Julie started sobbing.
"And if she's not?" Don asked with barely controlled anger. "You'd desert a friend on a maybe? I made her a promise. I wouldn't leave you down there, and I'm not leaving her. We are going to look for her."
Gill held up his hands in surrender. He knew when he'd been out-shouted. When there had been three boys, they could possibly have outvoted Don, but Gill did not have the willpower to go against his friend when he'd made up his mind. He didn't relish the thought of spending up to an extra week in this place trying to find what would almost certainly be the remains of a dead body. Still, he would not argue with his friend on this point; it was obvious there were more feelings there than Gill was aware of.
Don turned away from Gill, angry at him for bringing up the ugly possibility, and disgusted by his disloyalty. He knelt back down to comfort Julie, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her into him, hoping to settle her sobbing. It took a couple of minutes, but she did eventually calm down.
"We are going to find her," Don told her quietly. Julie just nodded, not confident in her ability to speak.
"Donny?" Kate called from the edge of the road. He looked over at her, and she had turned to face him, but she had been staring rather intently down into the ravine.
"Are you going to be all right?" he asked Julie quietly. He didn't want to embarrass her in front of everyone. She nodded again, and he slowly released her. Don stood up and walked over to his sister. "What's up?"
Katie turned back to the ravine and pointed. "She disappeared right about there. When I came off Whirlwind, I flew down into the ravine - I figured the safest direction to go was down - and I saw her roll into the underbrush right about there."
"If you look at it, it's not steep enough to actually fall very far. She bounced, fell, and rolled. She's got to be pretty banged up." Katie refused to admit that she might be dead. She did not believe that something that bad would happen to her brother. Although she liked Annie, she knew that Don felt a lot more than that, though he hadn't admitted it to himself yet. She knew he'd be devastated if they didn't find Annie alive, and so she simply refused to accept the concept that they wouldn't. She pointed over to their right. "If you look real careful, you can see a path into the forest. The only thing is, I don't know if it's big enough for the horses."
"We'll find out when we get down there."
Turning to the rest of the group, Don raised his voice to be heard. "I wish we could take a longer break here, but I don't think it's safe. There's no telling when Dan-Gelmer'll be back, now that he knows for sure where we are. We've got to get off this damned mountain as fast as we safely can."
Nobody disagreed with that point. Gill asked, "What do we do about the riding situation?"
Don turned to Kate. "Katie, I need you to play scout. It could be dangerous, but if you don't, we could walk right into another trap. I need you to fly about fifty or a hundred yards in front of us, and keep an eye out for danger. You'll have to be careful not to get into trouble yourself. Think you're up to it?"
She nodded, a little uncertainly. Her brother said she could do it, so she could do it, but that didn't make her happy about it. Don gave her a warm hug and a kiss, and that made her feel better all the way around.
"Okay, Julie can ride with me. Keep your eyes open for stuff coming from behind us. I doubt he'll play the same trick twice in a row." Gill nodded, and moved off to his horse with his sister. Don walked over and knelt down beside Julie.
"Jules? Are you ready to go?"
"No, but I can't expect you guys to wait for me all day."
Don smiled, and helped her to her feet. She wouldn't let go of his hand, though, as they walked over to the horse. Before she got on, she turned to him and asked, "Do you really think we'll be able to find her?"
"Yeah, I do. I don't plan on leaving here without her."
Julie smiled at him, and hugged him. When she broke the hug, she leaned in and gave him a kiss. It took him a second or two to react, but he kissed back as soon as he recovered. They broke the kiss fairly quickly, and they smiled at each other.
The man's name was Baruek. Life had not been good to him, and his choice of profession did not conspire to make his situation better. That, however, could not be helped. He did the only thing he was good at.
He was not working today, however. He was merely traveling from place to place through the forest. He had already been warned not to get stuck out in the open at night, but he felt relatively safe here in the trees. Unless, that is, Dan-Gelmer decided to burn down the forest for kicks.
When he heard a loud rustling noise off to his left, his first considered action was to dart off the path and up into a tree. Rustling noises in forests rarely brought good news with them. He listened carefully to the noise, and it sounded like somebody - or something - crashing through the underbrush. He realized that it sounded a lot like something rolling, rather than running or walking. Animals didn't roll to attack people, and people didn't much do it, either.
After the noise had stopped, Baruek slowly climbed out of the tree. He moved silently through the forest, in the manner he had learned many years ago. He was also good at judging the direction of sounds, even after they had stopped. It took him only three minutes to find the source of the noise.
He looked down at a pretty young woman, bruised and battered. It was clear that she had fallen, and he wondered if she'd fallen from the cliff above him. He'd heard the dragon earlier; if she had been attacked by Dan-Gelmer, she was lucky to be - he checked; yes she was, still - alive. He looked her over without touching her and saw no obvious broken bones or serious external injuries. She had to be bruised all over, and could very well be hurt in ways he could not see, but there was nothing he could do about either of those things.
Baruek was not the friendliest of people, but even he was not about to leave a young woman, who was obviously a traveler in this land, lying in the woods to be eaten alive by one of the many creatures of the forest. However, if he intended to move her, he would need to create some kind of sled or pallet on which to drag her, because he would not be strong enough to carry her very far.
Building such a contraption would be difficult, since all he carried was a knife. Using her sword would make the construction much easier. Cutting branches with a knife didn't sound like his idea of fun. Reaching down, Baruek grasped the handle of her sword and tried to pull it free, but it didn't budge. Figuring that it was merely a tight fit, he pulled harder. When the woman's body shifted, she groaned in pain. Baruek quickly released the handle of the sword.
Somehow, he would have to get her out of here. Just then, the unexpected happened; the young woman began to wake up.
The two horses were obviously still spooked by the attack, and they both slowed before each and every corner on the path. Kate flew around each of them and then back into sight, so that the others would know it was safe. Don didn't like this approach at all; his sister was the least able of them to protect herself in a fight.
Well, maybe except for Julie. The girl he held onto as they rode along was terrified and unskilled. Whatever help she might have been in a fight before, she would probably be nearly catatonic if they got attacked again. He was holding her more tightly than he needed to; he knew that. Every time he loosened his grip, however, she became shaky, and that wasn't good. He kept his left hand wrapped firmly around her abdomen while his right hand held the reins. Under other circumstances, he would certainly be enjoying this, as Julie was a knockout, but not today. They were both worried about what had happened to Annie.
Annie, on the other hand, was wondering who had buried an axe in her skull, for that's what it felt like. As she began to open her eyes, her vision was blurry, and she couldn't make out any details. She thought there was a person standing over her, but she couldn't even be positive about that. When the blob moved, she was reasonably sure it was an alive something. She groaned in pain, and raised her hand to her forehead. Even that small move introduced her to aches and bruises that she was sure would only get worse.
Her vision eventually began to clear, but it took a long time for her to focus. What she eventually saw was a tall, spindly figure, perhaps six and a half feet tall, wearing a brown tunic and a green cloak. She moaned again, wondering if it would snap her in half to try to sit up.
"I wouldn't move around too much if I were you," Baruek said. "You had one nasty fall, apparently. Do you remember what happened to you?"
Annie grunted something, not yet able to make her mouth create intelligible sounds. She continued to mumble and groan for the next five minutes or so, while Baruek kept away from her. Finally, she brought her hand down from her face, and turned her head to look at him. Her vision had cleared quite a bit, and she was ready, almost, to face the world again.
"Where am I?" she asked.
"In the forest. You must have taken a fall."
"Hmph. Yeah, you could say that. God, my head hurts."
"Do you remember what happened to you?" he repeated.
"All too clearly. I wish I didn't. How long... How long have I been unconscious?"
"Well, I didn't see you fall. I only heard you rolling through the undergrowth. But if that's when you fell, then you've been out for only a little while. I'm surprised. Injuries from a fall like that are usually much, much worse."
Annie nodded at that, and then looked him up and down. "Who are you?"
"I'm Baruek. I was traveling through the forest when I heard you, like I said. I was just about to construct some kind of sled to carry you out on. As I said, if you fell from where I think you fell from, your injuries should be a lot worse."
"I fell from the road," she said, pointing upward, but in no particular direction, as she did not have her bearings.
"That's what I figured. You got attacked by the dragon?"
"Yeah, my friends and I... Oh, God, Don!" her clouded mind finally realized that Don might also have been seriously hurt. "Did you hear anyone else fall?"
Baruek shook his head. "No, only you. You were traveling in a group, then?"
"Yes. I hope they're coming to look for me."
"In that case, we'd better get back onto the path as soon as we can move you. It's the only large path through these woods, and it's likely to be the path that they would search for you on." In his own mind, he was thinking, If I work this right, then perhaps I can get some kind of reward out of her friends. If nothing else, perhaps I can walk with them in safety through these woods. That would protect me from Dan-Gelmer, and for the other... well, opportunities always present themselves.
Annie was only thinking about her friends, and hoping that Don was all right. She'd seen him thrown from the horse with her, but she'd been a little too busy being unconscious to notice anything after that. She knew that Baruek was right: even if she couldn't walk, she needed to be on the path, so they could find her easily. She shifted herself, trying to sit up.
Baruek saw what she was trying to do, and offered her a hand. She took it, and got first to a sitting position. Even that was tough; her head was swimming from the effort.
"Can you stand?" Baruek asked.
"I've got to try," she answered. With his help, she made it to a reasonably upright position, but it took holding onto a tree to keep her that way. Baruek looked her over, and realized she wasn't going to walk very far today. The day was well over half-done, and the sun would be setting in a couple of hours. After that, walking in the forest wasn't a good idea. They would have to find a place to rest for the night.
"What I need," Annie said, "is a walking stick."
"If your sword wasn't stuck, you could cut yourself a good branch from this tree. There are a few in reach..."
Annie reached down to her sword and pulled it effortlessly from its scabbard. "It's not stuck."
"I was going to use it to cut some branches for that sled I was going to build, but I couldn't get it out." In his mind, he was rubbing his hands together. The Hollie Sword! If I can get my hands on that...
Annie shrugged, and selected a branch. She didn't have much strength to her swing, but with her sword, it didn't matter. The branch came away cleanly, and she resheathed her sword. Baruek picked it up and used his knife to cut off the thin end and the twigs before handing it to her. Annie tested her weight against it and found that it would hold her easily.
"I'm probably not going to make it very far."
"I know. But if we can at least get to the path, that will be an improvement." I don't want your friends to miss us, or this could be a losing game for me.
"Well, let's go, I guess..."
It took until just after sundown before the group cleared the mountain and was once more in open grasslands. They took only a moment to rest the horses and allow them to graze. They didn't even dismount, though Katie did come to rest on the wagon's lid to give herself a little bit of a rest. She was surprised that she wasn't tired, but it seemed that flying was easier than walking.
"Did you see anything while you were up there?" Don asked her. It felt awkward to him to still be holding on tightly to one girl while he was talking to another that he was usually holding onto, but he couldn't let go of Julie.
"Just some buffalo-looking animals off that way," she motioned. "I can't see the path into the forest anymore. The grass is too thick."
"That's okay. We know it's there."
Gill rode over and allowed his horse to graze next to Don's. "You planning on going into that forest tonight?"
"No. We'd never find her in the dark, anyway. We'll camp at the edge of the forest once we find the path."
"All right." He said nothing more, but looked out into the distance. Kate and Don shared a look, but they didn't say anything, either. Julie shivered.
After a few moments of such an uncomfortable pause, Don turned and said, "You had your fill yet, Nightmare?" The horse raised and turned its head to look at him. A single nod - there was no other word for it - told him the animal was ready to travel. Don patted the horse's neck in appreciation. "You up for more flying, Katie?"
"Yeah. It's not very tiring."
"I'm glad. Okay, let's move out. Try to stay parallel to the forest, but keep your distance; we don't know what's in there."
Katie led off, and the rest of the team soon followed. He hoped that this experience would give Katie some confidence; it was draining him to have to be confident for everyone. He was glad that at least Susan and Gill seemed to be settled about their journey. He set the thought aside, and they rode on.
Annie didn't make it more than a quarter mile before she was completely exhausted. Even that was farther than Baruek had expected her to go. Upon inspection, he could tell that she had pushed herself to the absolute limit. Annie was covered with sweat, and her complexion had paled in the strain.
"You need to eat," he said. She nodded, and reached around inside her own cloak. She grabbed a small pouch, and pulled it out to open it. Inside were some treats that Yarice had given her as more of a snack than a meal. She looked into the pouch, and then at Baruek.
"Do you have food?"
"I have some. I doubt you'd want to eat it, though. It's pretty disgusting. I'm used to it, but it might even make you sick."
"Oh. Well, as long as you have something to eat... I didn't want to eat in front of you."
Baruek chuckled. "Don't worry about it. Besides, there's a berry bush right over there that we can also eat."
As Annie ate, Baruek set about picking a few berries and arranging things so they would be at least mildly comfortable for the night. He hoped this girl would be ready to travel in the morning, or it would be a very long trip out of here.
Annie huddled against herself. Nighttime was closing in, and she didn't want to be in a forest, alone, at night. Baruek didn't count, because she didn't know if she could trust him to defend her or if he would run away. Besides, what could he defend her with? What kind of idiot wanders through the forest with only a small knife for protection?
The two did not converse much. Annie was lost in her thoughts of what might have happened to Don. Baruek was lost in thoughts of what he might be able to get from her friends for her safe return.
After a while, Baruek sat down and began his own meal. As he ate, he said, "This is about the best we can do for a campsite. I don't like it; there are lots of cats in this forest, and they're not opposed to eating raw human for dinner."
Annie nodded, and thought for a while. "Are there any big, nasty monsters in this forest?"
"Not in this one, no."
"But there are, elsewhere?"
"Sure. Dragons, griffins, harpies... there are a lot of nasty creatures. They're not common, but they're around."
"So, if those cats heard a monster, they'd avoid it?"
Annie nodded again, and closed her eyes. She concentrated on one of the few spells she knew she could do. She began her chant, and kept the sound going over and over in her mind. When she felt she had it right, she raised her hands and pointed them upward. Seconds later, a bone-chilling roar echoed through the forest for many seconds. Even after Annie dropped her hands, it seemed as if the sound lingered for several moments.
Baruek had clapped his hands over his ears as soon as she had started, and now he was staring at her in wonderment and not a little fear.
"You're a sorceress?"
"A bad one, but, yeah, I guess. That's one of the only spells I know."
"That was a ghastly noise."
"I hope the cats will think so, too. I don't want them anywhere around."
"I imagine anything that heard that will be going in the other direction."
"Good for it."
"What was that?" Julie screamed, upon hearing the noise. Nightmare had stopped at Don's request. Gill and Susan rode up alongside to look at him.
"What the fuck was that?" Gill asked, repeating Julie's question.
"A tyrannosaur," Don said calmly.
"What?" Julie said shakily. Don wrapped both arms around her to calm her down.
"Wait just a fucking minute," Gill said. "This is supposed to be fantasy-land, right? Dragons, not dinosaurs!"
"Would you rather face Dan-Gelmer?"
"Now that you mention it..."
"Besides, it wasn't real, anyway," Don said with a smile.
"Then what the fuck was it?" Gill demanded.
"That," Don said with confidence and with a squeeze for Julie, "was Annie."
"How can you be so sure?"
"You know anyone from this place who would magically produce the sound of a T-Rex?"
Gill had to admit he had a good point. "So she's alive."
"Yeah. And we're going in there to find her."
"Okay. I hope you know what you're doing..."
"Katie, go ahead. But be careful."
"Donny, I thought I saw something moving, out that way. But it was small, I mean too small for me to make out what it was. All I saw was the grass moving like there was something in there, you know?"
Don nodded to her. "Keep your eyes open."
The team led the horses off at a trot, but soon it was obvious; they were being followed. Don encouraged Nightmare to go a little faster, and she was soon in a slow run. He knew she couldn't keep up this pace for all that long with the weight she was pulling, and truth be told, it was probably going to shake the wagon apart.
Then, Don saw them. A dire wolf. Perhaps half again as big as the wolves ridden by the Wolfriders, these animals were meaner, and they were obviously hungry. He only saw six of them, so far. He was sure there were more.
He turned out to be right a few minutes later when they rode into an area of shorter grass. The wolves broke from the tall grass, and there were more of them than he could easily count. He estimated at least fifty in the pack. Don pulled up short, stopping Nightmare. Gill rode up beside him.
"What now? Outrunning them is out of the question with this wagon."
"How did Jeremy feel, following me?"
"Truth? I don't know. Susan?"
"He feels burdened. I don't think he could outrun them with us on his back."
Don wasn't so sure about the "easily" part, but he had to take her word for it; she was the only one who knew horses.
"So, we have three choices; try to fight them off here, ditch the wagon and go with the horses, or ditch the wagon, let the horses draw off the wolves, and stay with the wagon."
"I don't think the first two will turn out very well," Gill said morosely.
"Neither do I. But can we continue without the horses?"
"Can we continue without our heads? We started out here without horses."
Don sighed audibly. He noticed that the wolves were circling, but were not closing in. He didn't know what that meant. It was almost as if they were waiting for the humans to make up their minds.
Finally nodding in surrender, Don said to Julie, "Jules, I need you to climb down off Nightmare, and then climb up onto the top of the wagon, and you stay there."
"Okay," she answered, her voice quavering with fear. She did as he instructed, and he quickly dismounted, as well.
"Susan, what about the saddles?"
"Remove them. Any added weight will slow them down."
Don looked it over, and figured out how to take the saddle off, but he couldn't get it off the horse, because the animal was too big. He took off the horse's bridle, and unhooked her from the wagon.
"You'll have to shake it loose yourself, girl," he said to Nightmare. Nightmare took three steps forward, and then reared up. The saddle flew off her back to land on the ground. She was immediately joined by Jeremy, and they whinnied together, charging toward the ring of wolves. When they were about ten feet away, they leapt. Don swore they both cleared a fifteen-foot-high jump, and probably fifty feet in length. They landed well outside the ring of wolves, and sped away. All but two of the wolves split off and began chasing the horses. The two remaining separated and began to circle in on the people.
"Already on it." She drew an arrow with a large, serrated head and nocked it to her bow. She drew the bow and took careful aim at the moving animal. This would be a tough shot, and she missed with her first attempt.
"It's getting hard for me to see him," she said. Don immediately cast a light spell, and a large orb of light filled the meadow with near-daylight conditions. "Thanks," Susan said.
Fitting another arrow to her bow, she aimed, and fired. The arrow penetrated halfway into the animal's body, and it was thrown onto its side. The animal howled in pain, but it did not rise.
"Oh, shit!" Gill called, as the other wolf charged. He had his sword out already, and he held it before him, hoping he could fend off the wolf, but this animal weighed more than he did. The first attack caused him no injuries, but it knocked him to the ground.
Don saw his friend in trouble and quickly cast a spell, letting loose a red ball of magical fire. The fire hit the wolf square on the noise, and the animal's fur was quickly set ablaze. The animal yelped in pain, and continued yelping as it ran off into the distance, trailing magical sparks that disappeared, rather than catching anything else on fire.
The entire group took a deep breath. Don went over to help Julie down from the wagon. She embraced him as if he were her lifeline.
"Does anyone else think that was way too convenient?" Gill asked.
"Yes," Don answered softly, since he was a little too close to Julie's ear.
"What?" Julie cried, pushing herself away from him. "This is convenient?"
"Not for us. But that's his point. Those animals weren't really trying to kill us. Something tells me that, if we'd run away from the wagon, the other two wolves wouldn't have followed us. They weren't trying to kill us. They were trying to take away all of our tools."
"And it worked," Gill said. "Shit."
"What does this mean, Donny?" Katie asked.
"It means," he said, looking around uselessly, "that we're being watched."
Annie sat uncomfortably and watched Baruek as he slept. She couldn't manage to get to sleep herself; she couldn't find a comfortable position. She wondered what else she could do. She'd used the tyrannosaur call because she knew that her friends would recognize it as something not of Zemlia Nov. She didn't really expect it to ward off wild animals, and that, too, worried her.
Sitting there, she thought about what she could try to do to help herself. She really wanted to know if Don was all right. She suddenly remembered that she wasn't just a sorceress: she was also a psionic. She wondered if she could contact him telepathically. Surely telepathy would be the easiest of skills, wouldn't it?
Annie closed her eyes, and she began to concentrate.
The team had waited to see if the dire wolves would come back, but they didn't. Then, they each got out their backpacks and began sifting through the wagon's materials. They had packed an inordinate amount of equipment into the wagon, and there was no way in hell they were going to carry even a quarter of it. Katie couldn't carry anything at all, save a few small pouches tied to her waist. Julie was almost as useless because she had no strength to carry a load. Susan and Gill would pack the heaviest loads. Don also packed a somewhat heavy load, but he spirited his backpack away into another dimension.
"Hell, if you can do that, why don't you just disappear the whole fucking wagon?" Gill asked.
"Because it takes a certain amount of energy to keep each object in place. I'm trading magical energy for physical energy. I'm not in as good a shape as you guys are, and I don't want to slow us down."
"Oh. Damn. I thought I had a good solution."
After everyone had sorted their gear and filled their packs to the maximum, they began to walk. Julie walked right beside Don, close enough that he felt it necessary to wrap his arm around her waist to make her comfortable. Katie flew beside them.
"You know, you can walk now, if you want," he told his sister.
"I've found flying is actually easier. It takes less effort."
"Hmph. Must be nice."
The group walked on in silence from there, with Katie slightly ahead of everyone else, and Gill bringing up the rear, as he watched Susan's rear swaying as she walked. It made him horny, but there was nothing he could do about that.
Suddenly, Don's head snapped up and twisted to the left. His eyes looked a little glazed, but he kept walking. This was a problem, because he needed to pay attention to where he was going. He stepped right into a gopher hole and fell, twisting around until he was lying on his back.
Luckily for Don, his ankle did not get caught in the hole, and so he didn't wind up with so much as a sprain. However, since he had been holding onto Julie when he'd fallen, she had lost her balance and fallen right on top of him. He had the presence of mind to catch her, not that it improved the impact on himself any. She lay on top of him, looking him square in the eye for several seconds.
When their lips met, it was a long and heartfelt kiss. She was expressing her thanks to him for all he had done, and he was expressing his caring for her, to make sure she was safe. It lasted for several seconds, and was long enough to bring a sarcastic comment from Gill.
"Would you like us to just erect the tent around you two?"
The couple broke their kiss, and they both blushed. Julie lifted herself off of Don, and then helped him up. He tested his leg gingerly, to see if it was broken or sprained, but it was merely sore. He looked up at the sky and shook his head.
"Thanks a lot, Annie. Like I really needed that?"
Annie opened her eyes. Oops. Sorry, Don. She smiled at what she had seen through his eyes, though. Finally, with a grin on her lips, she dozed off to sleep.
The group traveled for another half-hour before finally spotting the path into the forest. Immediately, they all found a place to sit down. They'd forgotten what walking through this world had been like. The horses were so much faster...
Don called forth his pack from the dimension he was keeping it in. His pack was roughly twice as big as everyone else's, because he felt there were some things that they just absolutely had to have. One of them was the tent that Gill had mentioned earlier.
While Julie and Katie began preparing dinner, the other three began erecting the tent. It was large enough for six people to sleep in, and for a small fire in the center. The material, Darnell said, was non-combustible, and the tent was designed for this kind of use. The material also would not let light out, so that their campfire would not give them away. The tent packed away into a very small, light package, but that only meant that assembly was a bitch and a half, and it took them until dinner was ready to get it accomplished.
The five sat quietly for their meal, on opposite sides of the fire. Julie remained by Don's side throughout. It was something of a strained situation, which seemed odd to all of them, since they had not been arguing or at odds, especially now that they knew Annie was alive. Gill was very surprised that she was, but knowing that, there was no way he'd leave her here, either.
The meal finally passed, and then the team had to decide what to do about the night. Don had a suggestion.
"You guys rest first, and we'll take the first watch. We'll wake you in six hours."
"We're walking again. That means we're going to be more tired. We're going to need more sleep."
Gill nodded, understanding. He didn't think they really needed six hours a night. On the other hand, perhaps Don was simply covering 'other things' with that six hours. Gill grinned just considering it.
"Jules, you better grab a jacket. It's getting windy out there." Katie was already putting on her warmest clothes.
"See you two in six hours," Don said before heading out the flap of the tent and fastening it behind him. Susan was half-naked before Don had finished hooking the tent closed.
Nothing happened during their six-hour watch, and all three of them were thankful for that. They'd stood far enough away from the tent that they first could not hear what was going on inside, and then so that they could not be heard from inside, so as not to disturb the happy sleeping couple. Once they'd fallen asleep, Don had gone over and unfastened all but two of the hooks keeping the tent flap closed. He did this because he wanted them to be able to get out quickly if they were needed.
Once his timing orb, which was very dim, had gone out, he sent Julie in to wake up the other two. That left Kate and him alone for the first time all day.
"Are you okay, Katie?" he asked.
"Right now I'm cold and tired," she answered with a yawn.
With a little concern, he asked, "anything else?"
"Nope. I just want a warm bed." She smiled at him.
He stepped a little closer to her. "Did what happened between Julie and me earlier... did that bother you?"
Katie giggled. "Nope."
He hugged her tightly. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
In another minute, Susan and Gill made their way out to the other two. Don sent Katie back to the tent, but he stayed for a moment. "Susan, could you give us a minute, please?"
"Sure." She walked off a little ways, but not so far that they couldn't see her.
"What's up?" Gill asked.
"Is there going to be a problem between you and me over Julie?"
"Hell no! I never wanted her in the first place! Not that she doesn't have a great body or anything, but... To tell you the truth, I'm glad I don't have to deal with her anymore. More power to you."
Don released a sigh. He had been worried about that. After all, she'd been the cause of the split in his group, and he didn't want a repeat of that situation.
"You tell me now, is there going to be a problem over what I said about not going to look for Annie?"
Don shook his head. "No. I could see your point then. I'm just glad you turned out to be wrong."
"Me, too, man. Go get some rest. We'll see you in the morning."
Don cast another timing orb, since it would probably be daylight before their six hours was up, and then he headed back to the tent. Susan, seeing that the conversation was over, came back to her brother.
"Trouble?" she asked with concern.
"No, just guy stuff."
"Mm. I like your guy stuff," she purred.
Gill hugged her, but said, "Not now! Besides, it's much too cold out here for you to get naked!" They both laughed.
Inside the tent, the three were settling down for sleep. Katie kissed her brother good-night, and slipped a little way away from the other two. She knew that Julie needed Don even more than she did, and she accepted that. She knew the toughest part would be for Annie to accept it all when she was found. It wasn't really Donny's fault; everyone was depending on him, and he was so willing to give of himself. Kate worried that he would wear out before they got home, so she would try to take care of herself as much as possible.
Don settled onto his mat next to Julie, who had removed some of her clothes because they were simply impossible to sleep in. She had replaced them with a sleeping gown, and Don had not been in the tent when she changed. Now, she turned to him with fear in her eyes.
"Are we going to be okay?" she asked.
"We'll be fine," he answered, with more confidence than he felt. He reached out to her, and she came to him, snuggling against him. He knew that his sister really did accept things; her kiss had told him that. Given that, he couldn't let Julie suffer her fear alone. He kissed her softly, and brushed her hair out of her face with his hand.
"Try to get some sleep. Tomorrow's another day."
"Good-night," she said, laying her head against him.
"G'night," he replied, already half-asleep.
Don was awakened a few hours later, but at first he didn't know by what. Then he felt her shudder again. He looked down at Julie, and it was obvious that she was suffering a nightmare. Her movements must have awakened him. He wondered whether or not he should wake her up or not.
The question was answered for him just a few seconds later, when she let out a short scream, and sat upright on the mat. Don sat up next to her. Her chest was heaving, and she had broken out in a cold sweat. Her nightgown clung to her, and Don had to try to ignore that for the moment, since he was trying to calm her down. He reached around her to embrace her, pulling her to himself. He brought his one hand up to her head, and gently pulled it to his shoulder. He brushed her sweat-dampened hair out of her face, and he spoke very quietly to her, trying to comfort her. He took a moment to glance over at his sister, but she had not even stirred. That worried him: a scream could have meant an enemy.
He set that thought aside as he tried to comfort the girl in his arms. Julie began to settle after a couple of minutes. She shifted somewhat, however, turning herself slightly away from Don's embrace. That move caused Don's hand to slip upward, ultimately landing on her breast. Instinctively, he cupped her breast and squeezed ever so gently. Julie sighed at the feel of his hand on her body.
She turned her face to him, and their lips sought each other out. Don did not move his hand as they began to kiss. It wasn't long before her tongue slipped out, seeking and gaining entrance into his mouth. Her tongue slid along his, and the two of them remained lip-locked as they lay back onto their mat, still kissing and with Don still fondling her tit.
Don continued to squeeze and fondle Julie's breast as they kissed. After a minute, he rolled on top of her, supporting himself on knees and his one elbow. He allowed his hand to stray from her tit and down her body, until he found the hem of her gown. He pulled it up as far as he could, and then slipped his hand underneath it, allowing his fingers to dance along on bare skin. When his hand reached her breast again, she moaned into his mouth as his fingers found her nipple and brushed over it lightly.
Julie reached down, and finally found the fastener for Don's robe. She fumbled with it for several seconds before managing to get it undone. When his robe fell open, she pushed her hands inside, to run up and down his bare sides, and feel his soft skin against her hands.
Eventually, the couple broke their kiss. Julie moved her hips to pull her nightgown up far enough, and then she sat up to pull it off. Meanwhile, Don shucked his robe and pulled off his underwear, something that Julie had not been wearing in the first place. Now, with both of them naked, they came back together, embracing passionately and their kiss beginning anew. Don loved the feel of her large tits pressed against his chest, her nipples digging into his skin. He once again carefully laid her down onto the mat, with himself above her. They continued to kiss as he now brought both his hands to her tits, caressing and massaging her tender flesh.
After a few minutes of this, Julie had to gently push him away. She looked up at him, and then down his body, to his hard cock. She looked back up at him and gave him a certain look, which he understood completely.
Don reached down and positioned himself at her entrance. Julie held completely still, waiting for him to penetrate. Slowly, tenderly, Don pushed his dick into her, allowing it to sink, inch by inch, into her depths. Julie sighed at the feel of his hard cock entering her; it made her feel so much better than she had in days.
Don moved slowly out of her, and slowly back in. Julie was moaning lowly and running her hands along his chest. He continued to play with her tits, rubbing them softly and molding them in his hands. His cock moved in and out, without rush but with plenty of feeling.
After a few moments, the two of them began to move more rapidly together. It was still not hurried, but their passion was growing. Don leaned down and kissed Julie, their tongues entwined, and soon were doing their own wet dance of pleasure. Don rolled to the side, pulling Julie with him. They rearranged themselves slightly, and continued to couple in this position. Now, Don's hands were freer, and while one of them cupped her head as they kissed, his other hand reached around to fondle her ass. Julie groaned into his mouth as she felt his fingers plying her butt. He continued to press his cock deep into her cunt, and she was in heaven.
Don rolled once again, bringing Julie on top. Now she broke their kiss and sat up. She continued to move on him, though, allowing her tits to bounce freely, until he brought his hands up to cup them and squeeze them. Julie moaned at the wonderful feelings Don was causing her. She could feel her own orgasm coming, and she sensed that he was close, as well. She pushed herself, reaching down to finger her clit, raising herself closer to her own climax.
Don bucked up at his lovely partner, enjoying every second of their lovemaking. He continued to fondle her breasts, tweaking her nipples and rolling them between his fingers. She began to grunt in her passion, and he knew that she was ready. He thrust harder, and tugged on her nipples, hoping to bring her over the edge. She reached down again and frigged her clit quickly, and then she was there. She cried out in her passion, but softly, moaning lowly. The squeezing of her pussy on his dick was more than he could take, and he let loose, blasting his cum deep into her cunt. The two writhed together for several moments before they finally came down.
When she came down from her high, Don pulled Julie down into an embrace. They kissed again, more tenderly this time. When they parted, Julie had a smile on her face.
"Thanks," she said softly.
"Any time," he replied, with a smile of his own. Julie rolled off him, and turned over, snuggling back against him. He could tell that she was asleep in seconds.
Don closed his eyes, but found that sleep had deserted him for the moment. Suddenly, he felt something warm and wonderful engulf his dick. He opened his eyes to see his sister's head bobbing up and down on his hardening shaft. Even after the wonderful encounter he'd just had, his sister's mouth could raise his prick from dormancy.
Not wanting to be ungrateful, Don reached over and gently pulled his sister's body around so that her pussy was over his face. He noted that she wasn't wearing any panties, and that was fine with him. He pulled her hips down until his tongue could reach its target. He began to lap at her pussy lips, and she moaned on his cock, sending shivers throughout his body.
Don let his lips wander up toward his sister's clit, and he pushed a finger deep into her cunt. As his finger began to move rapidly in and out of her, his tongue assaulted her clit in a most pleasant manner. They both moved rapidly against each other, their fever growing.
Suddenly, Katie sat up, bringing her cunt out of his reach. She moved off him, and turned to face him. "I can't stand it," she said lowly. "I need you to fuck me!"
As she lay on the mat, Don rolled over on top of her. She brought her wings around and upward, as if to block off the rest of the world from view. He looked down at her sweet pussy, and he slid his dick easily into her waiting opening. She mewled in pleasure at the feel of her brother's wonderful dick.
There was no preamble for these two; Don began to rut against his sister, and her hips were bucking upward to meet his every thrust. The two of them grunted and groaned in their pleasure. Don leaned down, taking his sister into his arms and kissing her hotly as they fucked. Their tongues were soon dancing, and their bodies became as one, moving in unison toward the ultimate pleasure.
Don lifted Kate off the mat, and pulled her with him until he was sitting back on his ankles. She wrapped her legs around his waist, and rode him for all she was worth. They continued to kiss as they screwed in this position, riding the wave higher and higher.
Eventually, the wave had to crest. Katie went over first, screaming her passion into Don's mouth. Her cunt squeezed and milked his cock, trying to pull the cum from his balls. It worked, and he spewed his load into her, his body jerking with the orgasmic pleasure of it.
The two held tightly to each other throughout their climax, and when they came down, they continued to hold each other. Finally, they broke their kiss, and smiled, breathlessly, at each other.
Don finally laid Kate back down on the mat, and kissed her one more time. She looked up at him with love.
"Sorry we woke you up," he said very softly.
"I'm not. That was wonderful," she answered.
"I love you, Katie."
"I love you, too."
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