Sunday, 1 September 2013

Morning near Gondwyn

Despite the noise they and the burning Trabbits had made, and despite that the Trabbits were still burning, though no longer running around or screaming, Hamfries was still asleep.  Mahaven kicked him in disgust as he stalked past to his own bedroll, and even then Hamfries barely stirred in his sleep.  Mojo had to go and shake him vigorously before his eyes finally opened and he yawned.  Mojo recoiled; Hamfries’s breath was bad at the best of times, but after most of a night’s sleep it was as bad as the stench in a charnel-house.
“Umph?” said Hamfries, trying to roll over and wrap himself tighter in his blanket.  Mojo kept a hand over his mouth and pulled Hamfries back towards him with the other. 
“Your watch,” he said, his words muffled.
“Mmmph.” said Hamfries.
It took nearly ten minutes to get Hamfries awake enough to understand what was going on, and then he settled down to watch with a slight smile on his face.  Mojo knew that he would keep himself awake by reciting the tales of the Acts to himself – he’d learned to fall asleep listening to Hamfries’s whispered soliloquies, and so wrapped himself in his own blanket – thicker than anyone else’s save Bulrug’s – in the anticipation of being asleep quickly.
“Why are there burning Trabbits out there?” asked Hamfries suddenly.
“Tell you in the morning,” said Mojo, and fell asleep.
Hamfries woke them at dawn, though it felt too early to Mojo.  He shrugged out of his blanket and flung it over the branch of a nearby tree to let the dew drip off it.  Then he looked around, wondering which of the waterfalls would have produced the closest tributary.  He tried to listen for the the giggle of running water, but the white noise of the many waterfalls around the gate drowned any such out.  He looked around, but the landscape offered no clues either, so with a sigh he realised that he’d have to just go and look for himself.
“I’ll find water,” he said.  He looked around again, but there was still no helpful signpost.  “I’ll try this way.”  He pointed.
“Wait,” said Bulrug.  He was sitting on his blanket still, massaging his calves.  “How do you know that there’s water that way?  And why don’t we have any already?”
“You drank it all last night,” said Mahaven.  “After it got dark.  You were saying something about the Brandy of the Narwhal, and that got Hamfries started on Act 17.  I’ve had better evenings, you know.”
“Bugger,” said Bulrug.  He looked down, which meant that his entire face disappeared into his beard and he looked more like a beaver than anything else.  “Right, hang on then.”
He got to his feet and stamped them a couple of times, wincing.  “Cramp,” he said.  “Dunno where it comes from really.”  Then he lifted his hands and looked up into the sky.  For a moment nothing happened, and then a wind arose from nowhere and darted around them, tugging at their clothes and making Mojo’s blanket swing and stream like a flag.  Then it dropped again.
“That way,” he said, pointing about ninety degrees off to where Mojo had pointed.  “The wind reckons that it should be about a five minute walk for you, once it understood what legs were.  You didn’t make a bad guess though.”
“Huh?” Mojo looked at Bulrug; he’d been rather hoping that the weather-mage would bring the water to them somehow.
“You’d have got to water a bit faster your way, but apparently it’s about eight hundred feet straight down.  Not sure what your plan was for getting back up again.”
Mahaven giggled, and Hamfries smiled; Mojo forced a smile on his face.  “Yeah, that’s quite a climb for first thing in the morning,” he said.  “Fine, I’ll go and get water then.  Someone want to get a fire started?  We’ve got a long way to go still and I could use something hot to get us started.”

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