Mountain pass, part eight

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They crossed the summit two days later. It was slow and dangerous, but with the worst of the blizzard behind them they had to move on before the trek turned into an icy hell impossible for horses to climb.

The descent was a sombre affair. Two lives lost so soon after they left the Roadhouse was more than enough to remind them of the dangers ahead. It was no longer the tedious but safe journey between Keen and Erkateren, and their lack of respect had already cost too much. The evenings were silent, and only a few campfires saw people laughing at stories told. Arthur knew the mood was turning low, but he couldn't find a way to remedy the dangerous situation. It wasn't until Gring and the two mages from Khanati cornered him one day he was forced to acknowledge his own importance. He agreed to attend different campsites strewn out along the track. He told stories, none very long, but the prospect of listening to a taleweaver was enough to keep away complaints from all but the most angry.

Some made big eyes at his three followers, but most of the scared stares were aimed at him. The rumor of his use of a magic device of death had spread through the entire caravan, but still, he was a taleweaver, and it was apparently a thing rare enough for anyone to ever listen to one that not once did he hear a complaint or a comment of fear voiced. At the cost of much needed sleep Arthur managed to give the escort their respite. When he finally became too tired to ride during daytime and talk people into laughing after nightfall, the soldiers had managed to enforce discipline again.

Despite his earlier resolve to find anything unusual about the flora and fauna on Otherworld Arthur only managed to identify gigantic bracken he suspected grew nowhere back on Earth. Pines and firs were less common on this side of the mountain range. Of dragonlings there wasn't even a trace.

Arthur forced his horse to catch up with the vanguard one late morning. The air had something new to it, a freshness it had lacked during the descent into the woods on the eastern side of the mountains and he was eager to know what it was. He heard gasps and when he rounded a corner he was stunned as well. A mat of whiteness stretched out into infinity, almost like the surface of a moonlit sea. He sat on his horse, fully enjoying himself for the first time in days in a stillness broken only by gusts of winds running through the trees around him and bending the high grass like waves on an ocean. Yes, it was definitely amply called the Sea of Grass.

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