Chapter Twenty-Eight: Swords of Ice and Daggers of Stone.
Tauren shivered in his half-asleep state, pulling his covers higher up as he did so, desperately trying to keep out the frigidly cold mountain air that threatened to freeze him into a block of ice. Slowly he shifted his weight and rolled over.
All that accomplished was placing him directly over an extremely pointed and large rock. He winced and sat up, rubbing his side.
The four of them had fallen asleep in a rough two-two shape, the tightest that they could manage in the narrow cleft. The rock walls pressed in from either side, and kept them slightly warmer than the open air did.
Quickly Tauren stepped out of his blankets, placed nearest to the entrance, and moved over to the still glowing coals if their fire. He held his hands out and wrung them, trying to get a bit of warmth. They would need firewood to warm everyone up in the morning. Might as well take a short run to go grab some. That would probably help in itself.
The mountains rose up like daggers all around them, and there was just enough light from the grayness in the east for Tauren to make out the road some hundred yards away. It had snowed lightly sometime during the night, and he felt it crunch under his boots as he started to trot toward the nearest visible copse of trees.
The horses were fine, nuzzling the snow off of their grass patch and eating everything underneath.
Tauren dropped to his knees once he reached the trees. There were only ten or twenty of them, but plenty of dead branches had fallen from the thick little oaks to supply them with firewood for some time. He shivered, holding the icy wood in his arms, and was turning to head back to the camp when he paused.
There was a slightly rustling in the tree's somewhere toward the back as a small animal moved. Tauren slowly lowered the wood and set it down, wishing he'd brought his bow. Quickly he drew his dagger and moved into the trees.
There was a slight rustling ahead of him and then a hare leapt up from behind a nearby tree and bounded away. But Tauren had heard what it was and had anglerd around correctly to intercept it. One jump and he was directly in the path of it's next leap. He lashed out with his dagger and skewered it neatly on the end.
He smiled to himself, withdrawing his dagger, cleaning it in the snow, and sheathing it. This would definitely improve a couple of stews. He siezed the body by the back legs and stood. He was about to turn away and return to the firewood when something else caught his eye.
His eyes snapped around and he almost dropped his quarry in surprise. Only about half a mile away, moving in a compact formation was the very thing he had been afraid that they would run into. A mounted Halavarde patrol rode directly parrellel to the road, armor and spearheads glinting in the light of the newly risen sun. They were moving fast and would be far away from their camp in moments, but it proved that they were there.
Tauren grimaced to himself and trotted back to his firewood. Quickly he gathered it up and moved back to the camp. The others were all up by now, and looked up contentedly to see him coming back with both firewood and food.
“Morning Tauren.” Detrick sighed, leaning against the cliff face. “Nice of you to get that. I was just-” Then he caught the look on Tauren's face. “What's wrong....”
“Halavardes.” Tauren replied. That got their attention. “Mounted patrol moving by. They won't be coming anywhere near us, but if I know anything about Halavarde then we're bound to run into another one sometime on this trip. They'll have every inch of the mountains covered.”
Vajik frowned and nodded. “Yes. That might be a problem.”
“Well, what do we do then!” Detrick sighed.
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The Soul Forge.Fantasy
Book one of the Netheron Chronicles. Welcome to Netheron. A land on the brink of a war in which it has no hope; it's ancient protectors have returned to their own lands, and the land is now left virtually unprotected, helpless in the hands of a m...