I recall a time when I got a solid night’s sleep. I know it has happened in the past, I just can’t know when. Definitely not something common these days, but we made due. We were up and moving before dawn. To get to Crab Cove to meet the ship we’d need to really move, and hope we didn’t run into anything too awful. I knew how our luck ran. Sparkle was happy, though. She liked it when it was just the three of us.
“Less people watching us,” she said, reaching over to grab my hand. “Maybe we’ll have time for you to ride below the crupper. She was shameless, and quite enjoyed teasing me. My embarrassment at her language was an added bonus that Lilith would never seek. But Sparkle now, she was a brazen one. Besides, it’s been far too long since we had a bit of quality worship. I would be in favor of such. Soon, I hoped, now that she brought up the subject.
Like in previous runs, Liz went ahead, scouting and leaving us little clues on how to follow. I think back fondly to that time we had breached the wall between this world and an icy plane where the frost giants lived. We had made a run north, through that nightmare landscape, only barely keeping from freezing to death. Harrowing experience, but we got Alfred out of that mess, and helped take down some pretty dreadful villains at the same time.
If we didn’t stop more than about six hours a night, we estimated we’d make Crab Cove with almost a day to spare. I was hoping with moving light and quiet, that could come to fruition. And to be fair, I believe we have earned a bit of a respite from the unknown menaces in the world. Having the raven’s wives so close to this village hopefully deterred anything else horrifying from using this as their hunting ground.
I guess the gods were looking kindly on us. Not only did we make more headway that first day on the run than anticipated, but we encountered no resistance of any sort. Not even a bear or a wolf pack, which were in the general area. Sparkle and I made it to a shelter that Liz had found for us — a small cave with a goodly clearing in the front of the entrance to prohibit anything sneaking up on us – an hour earlier than she anticipated. She had left signs that this was to be our camp, and that she was out hunting something for dinner.
Sparkle waggled her eyebrows at me and we went into the cave to make sure it was adequate for our needs. With Liz in the surrounding area hunting, we felt safe enough and took a bit of time to explore the esoteric rituals of our order. Twice.
Liz was amused to find us both asleep in the cave, but set about making a fire before waking us. I learned later that she and Sparkle had planned this little tryst. Liz had made it a challenge: if we made it to the camp she found while she was out, she’d make sure we were undisturbed. I am thankful for those in my life.
As Sparkle was climbing back into her leathers, I spoke with Liz about how defendable the cave was, trying to act nonchalant about the whole thing. She laughed, telling me I was exhibiting silly human worries again and told me to put some pants on.
When the rain started pounding the coast later that night, we were happy for the shelter. I slept like a baby until I was woken for my watch. I had slept so soundly that I had missed that lightning had struck a tree nearby. I guess I needed the stress release more than I thought. Sparkle winked at me as I rose from our blankets and Liz smiled at me as she went to take my place.
While I watched the night, the rain came down in great sheets. This was a storm that only occurred at sea, or along the coast. I had witnessed one of these before we assaulted the keep at Butcher’s Bay. They were dangerous to a ship in open water. Old timers assured me that a ship could flounder when the gales come and the waves grow taller than a ship’s mast. I shuddered to think of such a squall.
The storm cleared just before dawn, leaving the day clear and cool. It would be a great day for another run. Liz chatted with Sparkle while we ate and they both looked at me while talking in quiet whispers. I knew enough not to eavesdrop. If they wanted me to know something, they’d come out and tell me. I wasn’t worried about secrets with those two. Sometimes I apparently forgot about pants, so there you have it.
Liz took off first while Sparkle and I packed the camp once more. I ate a bit of second breakfast so we wouldn’t waste the berries Liz had brought to us. One thing led to another, and Sparkle and I repeated one of the rituals from the night before. Just to make sure we did it right, she assured me. I wasn’t complaining. I languished in the blankets with her and contemplated what life would be like if we had a little house somewhere quiet, with all our friends living nearby. By we I meant Liz, Sparkle or Lilith (whomever was around at the time), and Bob. We could have a house big enough for all of us. Then we’d have a place for the others nearby. It was a lovely fantasy.
Eventually we rose and packed our gear. I was reluctant to leave the cave and took the time to heal a few blisters. I used a tiny smidge of magic to heal those, and massage to ease a few aching muscles. All in all, making us ready no more than three hours after Liz left.
The ground was muddy, and the trails treacherous. They were also harder to travel by, so Liz had steered us to a main road that ran along the edge of the coast. We thought to avoid any of the locals, and potential Hand sympathizers. Liz knew in general if we ran into anyone, we’d either end up in a fight, or I’d fall in love with some cause or other and we’d end up in a fight. Odds were definitely in her favor on that bet.