Chapter 99: Bushwacking

As my acrobatic atronach flashes out of existence and my wife helps me loot the scorched spriggan, I’m starting to rethink the wisdom of staying in this place.  Traipsing around in a dense forest while following a trail that’s leading us into a narrow ravine filled with dangerous enemies seems like a very bad idea.

Individually, spriggans are enough of a challenge.  But as nature spirits, they have the uncanny ability to compel wild animals to fight on their behalf.  I doubt we’ve been lucky enough to slaughter the only resident cave bear — or the only spriggan, for that matter.  Given that, I’m not feeling especially confident about our chances.

As I pull out my hunting knife and bend down to start butchering the bear, I mention my concerns to my wife.  She pauses for a moment, then straightens up and looks around.

“It’s starting to get dark,” she mentions casually.

Surprised, I look around as well, but as far as I can tell the light hasn’t changed since we got here.  I can clearly see our trail through the tall grass, plus the colour of the wildflowers, the detail on our armour, the leaves on the branches, and the shimmer of water through the trees.  In short, I have no idea what Jenassa’s talking about.  My expression of bewilderment must be plain on my face, because when I turn to look at her in utter confusion, she smiles.

“It’s easier to tell if you look up through the trees,” she says.  “In fact, if you were to stand on that fallen log over there, you’ll see what I mean.”

Shading my eyes, I look up in the direction she’s pointing.  There’s indeed a fallen log that bridges the top of the ravine.  It’s a bit of a hassle to get there, but once I’m up on the log, I can see it right away.

It’s important to find balance in life.

Continue reading “Chapter 99: Bushwacking”

Chapter 98: Trouble In Paradise

After we’ve finished gawking in awe at this hidden piece of heaven — an activity that takes up considerable time — Jenassa and I decide to follow the stream to see where it leads.  After a short walk through the trees, we find ourselves in a woodland clearing surrounded by wildflowers beside a shimmering pond.  In fact, it’s the perfect spot for a picnic.

Feeling as if we’re on holiday, we spread our furs on the ground and search our packs for the most savoury edibles we can find.  It’s been awhile since we’ve shared a meal that isn’t in a ramshackle shelter, or a noisy inn, or a dingy hole full of dead bodies.  We stay alert as we settle down to eat, just in case we’re surprised by a swarm of giant spiders or a nature-loving troll, but absolutely nothing happens to disturb the peace.  And it’s utterly wonderful.

The only conflict we encounter during our delectable repast is a minor dispute about whether we need to tether our mounts while we explore our surroundings.  Relaxing on the warm furs, I express my doubts to my wife.  I point out that we haven’t found anything here that seems bad for horses, and we certainly don’t have to worry about them staying warm or finding enough grass.  Jenassa counters that this place seems immense, and there might still be creatures here that could prove dangerous.  It would be a good idea to know where to find the horses in case we have to beat a hasty retreat — not that either of us are in a hurry to leave this idyllic place.

Reluctantly, I admit that it can’t hurt to take precautions.  That settled, we find a nice spot under the trees to tether the horses, but not so firmly that they can’t pull up stakes and flee if they’re suddenly threatened.  So after we tidy up our picnic site, we feed them a couple of apples as a treat, and leave them happily grazing near the water as we set off to explore.

Farewell my darlings! And while we’re away, feel free to horse around!

Continue reading “Chapter 98: Trouble In Paradise”

Chapter 97: Secret Garden

After a restful night, I awaken the next morning to one of my favourite sounds — my wife making breakfast. She’s obviously been paying attention lately to how my appetite has expanded, since there’s evidence she’s gone into both our packs in search of adequate food supplies. It’s also apparent that she’s risen to the challenge magnificently, as once she notices I’m awake, she hands me a wooden platter of baked salmon on toasted bread covered in melted goat cheese, and a bowl of hot cereal topped with apple slices and roasted nuts.

It’s a fantastic start to the morning, especially considering we’re still in the middle of a waterlogged hagraven lair. It’s definitely past time to remedy that situation — but there’s one little matter I need to take care of first.

I’m sure this will cause me some kind of existential crisis later.

Continue reading “Chapter 97: Secret Garden”