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It’s not white anymore, it’s dark. I can feel a swaying. This is soothing, and nothing is pounding my head. In fact, there is no soreness, no pain, just the rocking, and a little bit of noise.

“You awake?” Jondahar’s deep voice not only rumbles in my ears, but also all along on the front of my torso. Opening an eye, I see his shoulder slightly shifting as the underbrush moves past, my cheek on his back.

“I’m alive,” I croak out. Jondahar takes me off his back and gives me a canteen.

“We’re heading to the river. If we can get to it and go upstream, we should be able to get away from the plantations around here and escape.” Jondahar’s tone is low and fast.

“Is there a problem with that?”

Tell me the bad things early so I can mentally prepare for the oncoming awfulness, please.

“We don’t have a boat and getting one may be difficult.” Jondahar is well-spoken for being a hulking green guy. I guess that is why they put him in charge of things.

“We could probably build something?” We’re in a forest, and plenty of the men are carrying various tools as weapons.

“Anything we can build fast enough isn’t going to hold up if we come across Sidhe patrols. They see escaped slaves, and they’ll try to drown us all so they can display us at the slave markets as a warning to anybody thinking to escape.”

You know, I didn’t even think twice when I drowned those guys before. Maybe I should think twice before I use violence as a problem-solving tool? Or, I could be paying attention to the immediate problem Jondahar has brought to my attention instead of my philosophical worldview.

“Let’s build whatever is possible when we get there, and I will see what I can do with magic to improve it.”

Maybe I can help the building? Or do something after? I really don’t know. Trying to focus on this problem is hard, as horrible images and sensations fill my brain. This has been a rough patch since my memory began.

“Some of us can use different magic systems, so we should be able to throw together a fairly large raft. The problem will be how long it takes us to build it. If you can keep watch for any Sidhe and deal with them, we should be okay.”

I think of those tiny, twisted bodies, their faces masks of agony. Maybe there is a way to deal with any patrols that doesn’t involve slaughter.

“Yeah, I will deal with them. Should be a snap.” Jondahar raises his eyebrows.

“We’ll have a few people around to help you. Don’t worry. And we’re very grateful for what you’ve done.” I slowly nod. It looks like most of the group is stopping to eat.

“There’s fewer people.”

It looks like all the dark elves and some of the orcs have left on their own. There are a couple dozen each of kobolds and orcs left. I think that was all the kobolds, and maybe half the orcs.

“What happened?”

“Many did not wish to escape by the river. They left the group. They’re no longer our responsibility.”

I am okay with having less responsibility. I don’t think I can take care of myself yet, much less other people. Fewer people means fewer mouths to feed and whatnot. I am a little surprised nobody fought over supplies or anything, but I guess everyone thinks it would be better to sneak through the woods quickly, and there’s enough supplies for everybody to carry. Really, everyone seems to be more eager to get away from that place than anything else.

“How far away is the river? Like, in days of travel.”

If he used some crazy measurement, I would look stupid for not knowing it. What is a furlong, anyway? Sounds like a bear-snake to me.

“The river itself is not far, but we will need to detour around the town. So perhaps 3 days of walking for us.”

Our caravan has plenty of elderly and very young people, so I guess our pace is good? It doesn’t feel fast enough, though. Maybe I can figure out some way to make us all fly? I think I have a decent idea of how to do that.

I give Jondahar the rundown on my idea. He’s worried about us being spotted in the air, but with a very small amount of effort I can make the bottom of our craft glow blue, making it effectively invisible from below.

By the end of the day, the women, children, and elderly were setting up shelters and cooking a few ugly deer I snagged while we moved. They looked a bit like a cross between a deer and a wolf.

“Fangdeer,” Jondahar told me when I asked about their name. And sure enough, even their antlers looked like large canines, and were very sharp.

Since they were carnivorous, their flavor was not that great, so they were being rubbed with strong smelling herbs and cooked in broth made from chicken bones one enterprising granny brought in a sack. There was also rice, which seems to be the main grain around these parts. That makes sense to me, as so much of this area is swampy.

That night, I had a proper place to sleep, and got to sleep at a decent time.

1 Comment

  1. zavyyn

    I too like red deck wins.

    Reply

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