Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Weight of my journey

This day gives me pause to think about my journey and its course. I wonder, did I enter into this blindly? My encounter with my new friend surely is telling. Would I not have stumbled across his path, what would have become of me? Would I lie now near death in the mountains, my stalker victorious? I feel the weight of my pack upon my shoulders and though the day is still young, its straps dig in. Is it the pack I feel or is it the burden I have now placed upon myself through my ignorance?

The sun breaks through the low clouds and its warmth bathes me, soothing my soul. I pass a fleeting glance at the peaks that tower above me. They have been my guideposts in this journey, this walk I have taken. The corridors they have formed has been my map. I have taken their guidance but what shall guide me upon the open plains? My belly suddenly shouts and I realize I have been wandering aimlessly in my thoughts. It is time for lunch.

My shoulders relax as my pack sits quietly beside my small fire, its weight no longer a pull on my thoughts. As I clean up from my meal, my savior beckons. Its sleekness calls to me and I may not resist. I raise it slowly and feel its heft, its smooth shape somehow comforting within my hands. It is a queer weapon by design, its shape unknown to me. A sideways bow upon a rod, a channel within to lock an arrow. I look about the campsite; who shall see me test my skills? Only the birds of the forest realm. I laugh an my awkwardness, my shyness.

I have no instruction in weaponry and am sure in my mind I will somehow shoot my foot. My only instruction was to watch Authurn handle my savior in my presence as he showed me not how to use it. The arrow locked in place and the bow pulled fully back I hesitate at the possibility of its launch. A target, I need a target, an object which shall test my metal. I train the rod upon its victim and loose the missile down its shaft, the whoosh unmistakable in the stillness of the fold.

I shudder at my clumsiness. My skills in the wild shall surely be my undoing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A night's fire

The day falls quickly away as night locks its arms about the Sirris. I sit now before a crackling fire with a creature known only to me by tales from my childhood. That I would sit with a man-folk, a people whose history is turbulent, violent as the tales have been told to me.

"It would do you well to know those parts of the world that you roam." Authurn reached to his side and flipped another log on the fire between us. "You have not traveled these lands before, I gather."

"I am of these valleys, sir," I reply, "though in these mountains I am indeed a novice." This Authurn, a gentle giant of a fellow smiles at my words. His face is lined with words of wisdom, a tell-tale sign of his own experience. "How do you know?"

"One would not travel such with what you bring to these hills, my friend. The mountains can quickly become a grueling ordeal if not respected, and within them secrets abound. Do you know that which trailed you?"

"I do not. I did not know I had a tracker."

"A mountain cat we call a 'bob'. Not as large as other cats of the world but in their element, deadly. You would surely have become a plump meal for her."

"A meal?" My eyes widen as I stare across the flames and into his eyes. My gaze falls to his weapon, one that I have never before beheld. It is my savior, my salvation. "Your weapon. It killed my enemy?"

"I killed nothing this night." Authurn laughed, his red beard coming to life in the light as he leaned toward the fire. "Wounded she may be but I do not believe she shall be worse for it. She shall retire for the night and lick her wounds, but tomorrow will come another day and only one meal missed."

"Then I shall thank you for your service this night." I lean back against the stump, my back searching to find a soft spot.

"Where do you travel to, Clancy?"

"I travel to nowhere. My search is to unlock a world I know nothing about. Too long have I been hidden in my valleys, ignorant of what is beyond my borders."

"Then welcome to my world. I too travel these lands for new discoveries, as do my people."

"What do you call yourself? Where do you hail from?" How quickly this giant has put me at ease. His manners are gentle yet it is evident he is skilled in the wilds.

"I am from the Flatlands above your valleys. Once a part of the kingdoms of the men of the north but no longer. We are a free people that owe their allegiance to no king. I am a Qualeman, a free ranger."

Our conversations continued above the flames as they held back the night airs. He has roamed these mountains for many years and handed forth some of that knowledge that I would have a safe journey. The path he lay for me would give my last day in the mountains structure and guidance and a map to what would be on the other side.

As I awake this morning, my new friend has departed as quickly as he had come; a silent breath of wind over grass-filled meadows. Yet he has left me a gift; my savior, that which saved my life in the dark hours of the night. If I only knew how to work it.