Gender: Male Age: 54 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: The golden plains|
The few trees were spread out and seemed stunted as we rode through them. We camped to one side of the stream that had come out of the pass. The tall grass was a yellowish golden color with heavy gains that bent them over. Wynn and Georgia were able to catch rabbits easily and Lachlan and Crystal snatched fat grouse out of the air.
The first night we set traps and shields before we went to sleep. I woke to loud growls in the night and sat up with Emily to look out past the horses. They were shifting around nervously and snorting as the large lion came out of the night and stopped when both Wynn and Georgia growled a warning. It looked into the camp before turning to go back the way it had come.
I got dressed and sat to watch as Emily went back to sleep. Wynn came to lay down and put his head in my lap. I pet him and looked into the night as I thought about the way ahead. Once we reached the Glacier Lake we would go south and around before crossing the large river. We could go south through one of the southern passes or straight west for the high pass.
If we didn’t want to use a pass we could go northwest and around the mountains into the northern forest. From there we would head south following one of the rivers into Kalmar. After having my uncle following us through the pass I was a little wary of passes. Emily relieved me a few hours later but I wasn’t tired and let her lean against me.
We were up and moving with the dawn and several hours later Crystal showed me an army camp. I told Edwin and Emily and we turned away from the stream and made a wide swing around them. In the late afternoon Wynn chased a small antelope out in front of us and I put an arrow into its heart. We rejoined the stream an hour later and made camp.
While Edwin and Emily made camp I created the wards and illusions to hide it. I turned and looked at the horses a few moments later when they lifted their heads. I moved quickly and kept them quiet. I watched with Emily and Edwin as a dozen ragged men in tattered uniforms went past.
After they were gone Edwin snorted, “deserters.”
I nodded as I went to help with dinner. We shared the meat with Georgia, Wynn, Lachlan and Crystal. After dinner the two eagles moved up to the top of one of the stunted trees. Edwin took the first watch as we laid back and watched the sky darken and the stars come out. It was the middle of the night when the lion returned again.
That was when I thought it might be more than just an animal hunting. I stood and moved to the edge of camp before using my magic and reaching out. I felt the subtle magic in it and almost growled before I had an idea. I whispered and began to alter the big cat’s sense of direction before slipping out.
The cat moved away and Edwin moved up beside me, “he is still following?”
I nodded, “he will probably wait until we are in a city or around people before he tries again.”
He nodded before nudging my shoulder, “sleep and I will watch.”
I glanced around, “I’m not sure I like the plains.”
He grinned as I returned to my bed and laid back. The land began to open up a lot more the next day and huge open grasslands appeared. The tall grass almost reached to the shoulder on the horses. I used Crystal and Lachlan to guide us as we rode west so we could stop beside the stream each night.
Georgia and Wynn grumbled a lot because of the tall grass and not being able to see. It was a week before we reached Golden lake and trees flourishing beside it and there was a thick band of forest around the edge. Out on the lake in the distance we could a single sail from a large fishing boat.
We made camp away from the shore in a small group of trees that blocked us in on three sides. That was the first night the temperature dropped and it became cold. We headed south beside the lake as summer seemed to vanish overnight. Wynn and Georgia seemed to like the cool weather and enjoyed hunting.
Edwin grumbled a little but even he had bright eyes. Lachlan and Crystal were indifferent but managed to catch a dozen rabbits between them during the day. The few days after that they grumbled a lot as they rode on the horse and it rained almost constantly. It rained for several days and we continued around the lake.
We reached the swollen river that ran out of the lake to the south. Unlike the many streams that went into it, the river was to dangerous for us to cross. We began to follow the river south and after another three days saw the city on the other side. I paid a ferryman to take us across and he looked us over carefully as we held the horses.
When we began to lead the horses off he cleared his throat, “there was another man.”
I looked at him and thought of my uncle. He spit to one side, “he was on foot and mean tempered. He asked if I had seen you. If I were you I would stay clear of that one.”
I nodded and looked at the city, “do you know which way he went?”
He nodded, “he asked how far the pass was over the western mountain range.”
I grinned and tossed him a silver coin, “thanks.”
I looked at the others as we walked into the city, “I think we will go northwest around the mountains and then come down through the northern forest above Kalmar.”
They grinned and nodded and I started to look for a store where we could buy supplies. As much as I wanted to stay after we got the supplies we left. Of course that was when it began to rain again. The eagles rode on their horse and grumbled a lot and Wynn wasn’t much better as he complained of being wet.
From the way Emily kept smiling at Georgia she was probably complaining too. Just before it got dark we stopped in the only group of tall trees I had seen since being on the plains. They were evergreens and grew close together providing shelter beneath. While Emily and Edwin made camp I took my bow and went hunting.
I moved out of the trees slowly and into the tall grass. I used the other smaller trees to look for game. I killed several large rabbits and was slowly working my way back to our camp. When I walked I would shift the grass to the side as I stepped forward and then put my foot down.
I would wait and look before repeating it so that I had a chance to see and hear as I moved. It was like stalking in the forest and this time it paid off. The two men watching the camp didn’t even hear me as I silently slipped up behind them. I pulled my sword and reached out to place the blade against the neck on one, “should I just kill you or would you like to explain?”
They started to move but the one with my sword against his neck froze. The other shifted and reached for the knife at his side and then stopped. I waited and the one in front of me cleared his throat, “this is the edge of our range and you are trespassing.”
I looked him over carefully before glancing at the other, “range for what?”
They blinked and looked at each other before the first looked at me, “cattle.”
I snorted and pulled my sword back, “we are passing through.”
The man looked at me carefully, “the pass is west of the city and you are not going west.”
I looked them over before pushing through them and starting to walk towards the camp, “going through a high pass now would probably kill us. I would say there is snow falling there now and it will only get deeper.”
They followed as I walked into the trees and then into camp. A small fire was burning and Emily had a pot of water boiling. She was brushing Georgia while Edwin did Wynn and I shook my head as I knelt and set the rabbits down. The eagles screamed from their perch and I grinned as I began to skin the rabbits, “you are not starving.”
Emily glanced at the men who were staring at the snowcats before looking at me. I glanced at them, “they herd cattle.”
She nodded and went back to brushing Georgia. I gestured, “sit and be comfortable.”
Once I finished skinning the rabbits I went to hand one to Crystal and another to Lachlan. Wynn and Georgia each got a rabbit and the last two went into a pot to make a stew. Edwin added dried vegetables we had bought. While it cooked we talked to the two men about the way ahead. After a few hours the men relaxed enough to fall asleep beside the fire.
Even though we kept a watch it was a quiet night. Of course it continued to rain lightly but we stayed dry under the thick evergreen branches. The next day the temperature dropped even more and the two men wished us luck as we rode out. This time one of us rode forward of the others with a sling but we didn’t see any game.
The eagles and even the snowcats rode on the horses and complained all day. Again we found another group of tall evergreen a couple of hours before sunset. That was when the light rain turned even colder. While Wynn and Georgia protected the horses all three of us went hunting.
I killed four rabbits and returned to the camp. I met Edwin before I got there and gave him the rabbits and began to scout around the trees. I saw Emily when she came in but kept moving. As it was grew dark I saw the approaching men. Unlike the two I had caught these were unkept and filthy.
They held naked blades in their hands and moved apart. I closed my eyes and sent a warning to Wynn, Crystal and Lachlan and knew they would warn Emily and Edwin. I moved out from behind a stunted tree and followed the men. I slipped up closer as they hesitated at the edge of the evergreens.
They suddenly rushed in while yelling and I followed to find them looking around at the empty camp. I slipped a knife into the back of one man’s neck at the base of the skull and two men fell with daggers in their chests. I yanked my knife free as the man fell and pulled my sword. I lunged as a man turned and stabbed the point of my sword into his throat before ripping it out.
The others yelled as they saw me and attacked. I spun to face them and two more staggered as daggers slammed into their backs. The six men left hesitated as they realized I wasn’t alone and Wynn and Georgia leaped down out of the tree branches. They took two men down with roars as I moved towards one of the others.
The four men screamed as they spun to flee only to see Emily and Edwin stalking towards them with naked sword blades. I plunged my sword into the back of one as Emily reached another and slapped his dagger away with her sword. Edwin sank a foot of steel into his chest before pulling his sword free.
Emily lunged to the side as the last two men tried to run. She stabbed the sword point into the spine of one as the other escaped. The men Wynn and Georgia had taken down were only spasming as I stopped to touch Wynn. He growled as he let the man go and we watched the last man vanish.
I looked at Emily and Edwin, “they didn’t have the feel of magic on them.”
Edwin snorted but Emily knelt to clean her sword, “common thieves.”
I nodded as I cleaned my weapons before I started to drag the bodies out of the trees and into the tall grass. Edwin helped me as Emily went to start our dinner. We checked each man before returning to the camp and setting illusions and then wards and traps. Before morning the rain turned to light snow.
We had to walk the horses to be sure of the footing. Again a couple of hours before sunset we found another group of evergreens. This time we made one large shelter beside an old fire pit before going hunting. Before I started back I heard wolves in the direction we had come from. Edwin had a fire going and Emily was cleaning rabbits as I stopped to drop a couple more.
I listened before I started to walk around the outer edge of the trees to set illusions and wards. I even brought in an armful of dead branches and pulled another huge dead branch behind me. I lifted the eagles down and set them on the ground beside the fire with Wynn. They shifted and mantled a few times and seemed to enjoy the warmth.
I squatted and warmed my hand, “those wolves are following our trail.”
Edwin grinned, “I sprinkled Demon pepper dust before we reached the trees.”
I grinned, “you bought it when we bought supplies?”
He nodded as he kept making a heat reflector to throw the heat into the shelter. Emily grinned, “I could have added a tiny pinch to the rabbit.”
I shook my head as Edwin chuckled and reached out to give Lachlan a caress. We woke several times to the wolves prowling around outside the trees and sneezing. In the morning it was snowing harder as we started off. I was watching for the wolves but they had slipped away. It was late afternoon when we came to the herd of snow covered cattle.
There were a couple of dozen men in a camp that watched us as we rode through and kept going. There were no evergreens this time and we made camp in a group of stunted trees. Emily made the illusion while Edwin and I made a ward. We all searched for wood and then made a shelter and built up a fire.
In the middle of the night I heard a distant sound and the earth shook. I rolled out of bed, “awake!”
I was thinking of all the cattle and quickly started tossing everything onto the horses who were skittish. The sound of bellowing came to me as we saddled the horses and moved the eagles. A few minutes and we heard the running cattle as they passed to the east of us. Out of the snow a wolf ran as if chasing them.
It hit the ward and flipped through and right towards Georgia who roared as she lashed out and attacked. Wynn leaped into the fight as I pulled a sword but before I could climb down the wolf was dead. We heard others howl as they chased the cattle but after awhile it quieted. We decided to start moving and used rope to kept together as we walked and led the horses.
With the rising sun the falling snow stopped and the clouds drifted away. It was several days before we rode off the plains and under the branches of the forest.
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