Physical discomfort and pain are my new best friends. Discomfort likes to poke at the thinning of my boots every so often. Pain is my very being, I live it, I am pain.
“...wu-- Everything hurts.” A sad plaintive mewling comes out from my left as Zoe makes her discomfort known once again.
A small chant of ‘it could be worse’ is droning on from Jessica off to the side. I think that chant is the only thing helping her keep one foot in front of the other.
I have to say I agree, my feet hurt, my back hurts, I’ve sweated everywhere. My arms hurt from the constant exercise of swatting some flies trying to make forceful sweet love with my eyeballs. Even my face is sore as tired arms mean your coordination goes out the window and I’ve smacked myself in the face a few too many times already.
As dusk finally approaches, the caravan leader finally starts yelling at his mount to stop. Then he yells some more for it to stop… and yet again some more. It takes a while but the beast finally clues in and brings the caravan of wagons of rotten produce to a stop.
“Oh, by the devourer, we’re done!” As Zoe falls to her hand and knees before rolling onto her back into the grass on the side, while Jessica follows suit and lays down in the grass, not even bothering to remove her pack.
If we were to have done this trek with everything that was initially packed, we’d be most likely lying exhausted on the road waiting for scavengers to pick our bones clean.
Our employer, the caravan driver, never actually caught his name, but he seems annoyed with us and gives us a wide berth and just does not address us at all. The man just hops down from his mount and unfurls a tarp from the right side of the mount’s seat and pins it to the ground to make a makeshift lean-to. The giant beast, who’s maybe one and a half times my height, simply lays down on the ground and occasionally flicks a grotesque tongue backwards to collect some branches and leaves on accident as it collects flies from above the second wagon.
I really feel sorry for the weird beast. Probably scraping the bottom of the lake for intelligence, however, that could just be that the beast is not native to these lands, possibly faring much better in desert locations. The cruel handler does not even bother to remove the harnesses or unlatch the beast from the caravan and just leaves the poor thing chained to its cargo.
Ow… Something tried to fly into my eye again and with arms that feel like lead. I do manage to smack myself more often than drive off the most recent assailant.
“Hurry up and set camp, you lot will take all the watches and we leave first thing in the morning!” The bastard yells at us. The thought and prospect of us setting out again for another march that would last the entire day is almost enough to break our sanity and the culprit quickly ducks into his lean-to.
I finally throw my bag off my shoulders to the ground, rotating them to feel the difference with the weight gone.
“Not the most sociable guy,” I say to the group.
“Do not blame him, considering the horde of insects he keeps for company usually,” Jessica says which sets Zoe off to laughing. She seems to have been broken by the long march and circumstances.
We finally get everyone up and make our way a little off the road, but still close to the lean-to as we drag our packs across the ground to an open ground within the sparse woods. I can see the hills that head up towards the mountains before us, their grey-blue silhouettes fill me with dread and I am afraid to know how far up our mining town is located.
After dragging our packs to an open space, Jessica and Zoe collapse into a sorry moaning mess while rubbing or flexing their feet, to try and alleviate whatever afflictions they may have incurred over the march.
Not wanting to doddle too much and feeling at least a bit better without a pack weighing me down, I get to collecting some dried needles and tinder for a fire. Akira disappears further off into the woods to do the same.
After collecting a good pile of tinder, Akira comes back with a larger set of dried out and dead pieces of wood and a lot of green pines.
I get to use the fire starter while still being hounded by the horde of insects and finally manage to light a small fire. Akira ducks in to help me and adds a few small to medium-sized pieces until the fire is going decently.
After sitting back to also tend to my sore feet. I’m positive that I have a couple of blisters and will possibly be hobbling or in a crying mess before the end of this tortured journey.
Akira kneels down in front of the fire and sets up a small tent around the fire with some log branches and circles half of it with a dense set of green pine.
“What?” *cough cough* I manage to only get a single word question out before the dark back smoke heavily laden with the smell of pine assaults my lungs. It is billowing out and crackling like there is no tomorrow, shifting with the wind and following Akira as he makes his way around the fire. The smoke almost hypnotically follows him.
The smoke is thick and stings my eyes a bit and makes it harder to breathe, as though the very air is thick with the taste of pine and could be confused with a medicinal hut, filled with absurd concoctions.
It is Zoe, who possibly detects something different with the wind, but decides to tear off her headdress and flops backwards giggling to herself while muttering “...finally…”
Not understanding why she’s lost in a small giggle fit, I finally realize that the insects are now avoiding us with the thick plume of grey-black smoke. Jessica follows Zoe’s example, as do I and I cannot believe the relief it is to feel some air against my face, after breathing heavily into a makeshift scarf most of the day, it is a welcome change.
The heavy scent of pine is also blocking the repugnant smell of the rotten produce.
What a mess our group is. Zoe appears broken, emotionally, as she’s giggling to herself non stop, while Jessica is playing with Violet. She is stuck in her inner thoughts and brooding as Violet grasps her fingers with a pair of vines before she spins her hand releasing it and gently winds some of Violet's other vine appendages around her hand.
A half-day march has done much to hurt everyone’s mood. Akira seems unfazed to some extent. He opens his own bag and pulls the tent out and starts to try and set it up, though it is clear he’d never seen any tent like this one.
I make my way up onto a pair of unsteady legs as I go over to assist him with the woven iron grass blades that are used to prop up a pair of tarps with strategic ties for the woven iron grass built into the tent.
I show Akira how it is done and we work well together in companionable silence while setting the tent together. We manage to finish as the sun is setting below the mountains off in the distance and we will soon be in a pitch dark forest.
Sitting down and watching the sunset through a dark plume of black smoke, I cannot help but feel that this was possibly one of the worst physical days in my life. Sure there were bad emotional or mental ones, but I’d always been in town or small jaunts in the forest, nothing like this. I cannot help but feel as though we’ve made no progress with our magic at all since having to go on this punishment.
If anything this entire punishment is making me hate those stupid fire mages. This should be their punishment for possibly attacking us, not sending us away, through dark forests.
“Why do they need rotten food? Or is it just how the requisition provider feeds his mount?” Jessica asks the group as we’ve all huddled around the fire.
“Oh, that’s easy. Most merchant caravans know this, the food is actually for the miners and they do not need quality, just cheap bulk.” Zoe responds to answer Jessica’s question.
“That just seems mean… and cruel… and unfortunate that they’d subject miners to that,” Jessica says while getting emotional and slightly worked up at the gross neglect towards these miners.
“Without good food rations an army or any workforce cannot compete or perform as they ought to,” Akira says, almost agreeing with Jessica, but for entirely different reasons.
“I agree with both of you, however, the miners are like the living dead and nobody feeds the dead, and the living dead get little better than nothing…” Zoe says while going quiet and a continuation of our somber mood sets around us once again.
“You should all rest. You will need as much as you can possibly get before tomorrow morning. I’ll take first watch.” Akira says to the group.
Not wanting to disagree, we make our way over to the tent.
“Also, you should avoid practicing your mana too extensively, as it could be dangerous and would also be something foolish to do out here in the middle of the woods with a stranger and his pet.” Akira follows up while giving me a pointed glare, as though accusing or maybe knowing of my late-night magic training I’ve done to either get to sleep faster.
We crawl into the tent and are quite happy to find only the marginal scent of pine and a lack of insects, despite the cramped quarters.
We all lay down with Zoe and me on the sides and Jessica squished in the middle. After settling in, I pull out my grimoire and start to peruse it, which catches Zoe’s attention.
Being playful, Zoe rolls over top of Jessica, while tickling her a bit in passing, which earns her a couple of playful swats to the face from Violet, as though saying ‘begone foul pest’, to the giggles of Jessica as she squirms away to the side making room for Zoe.
Giggling herself as she wedges herself in between us she asks me a couple of questions.
“Whatcha looking at?”
“Well, after walking for half a day, the only thing we could really do was feed our Den-izens to help produce a good amount of silk. Not hard and as long as we paced ourselves, we’d at least benefit some from this grueling torture across lands unknown to man, beast, or insect.” I say in jest.
Zoe’s eyes light up with her ‘merchant look’ that I’ve come to recognize and I could swear her eyes got brighter from within at the prospect of discussing anything related to her passion.
“It was kind of unfortunate that we could not look for any Den-izens for me… Though trampling through the woods and thickets would have made this so much worse.”
“So how much were you able to make? Did you try what I said and space it out? Was it successful?” She rattles off a bunch more questions and I cannot help but smile as her enthusiasm is a bit infectious.
“I had managed to comfortably have my Den-izens produce 40 silk an hour over the past seven-hour march, thankfully in compresses, and does not take up a lot of room.”
“Wow, that ought to be 280 silk then right? How big is that much silk?” She asks as I pull out a wad of silk the size of my fist that could compress down into a small ball the size of my thumbnail. However, it is bouncy and springs back with ease.
“That is just not fair you know? You are growing money in your pocket!” She says while poking my ball of silk. After she was done with that, she moved her predatory glare over to Jessica to see what she managed today, though is interrupted by the sad expression that Jessica is exuding.
“What’s wrong Jess?” Zoe asks as she nudges Jessica in the cramped quarters. Jessica had pulled out some dried fruits and nuts and was trying to eat them, but mostly just staring at them with a sad expression.
Rolling over top of Jessica once again, being swatted some more by Violet to get to the other side of her. Once to the other side, she sticks her tongue out at the flower in Jessica’s hair, possibly trying to taunt the playful lasher.
After some prying, we finally get Jessica to reveal that it is just difficult to eat vegetarian things after spending a third of the day suppressing her gag reflex at the rotten smell of the cargo we’d been following all day.
Zoe whips out some dried jerky and offers a bit to Jessica who seems tempted for a bit to try the dried or smoked meat, but instead hunkers down and really tries to eat her own food while not getting too stuck in her own thoughts.
After helping Jessica a bit, I settle back in to look at my grimoire and see that nothing has changed except for the fact that my stamina is middling at best. The unfortunate thing is that with how things are, nothing will be changing within my grimoire any time soon. Well, I cannot do any of the more dangerous exercises that could leave me vulnerable in case something happens in the night.
Well, there is something I can maybe work on, I say to myself as I look down at how much experience my compression skill has.
|HP||99 / 100|
|Mana||1,100 / 1,100|
|Stamina||1 / 100|
|HP Regen||0.2 hp/day|
|Mana Regen||265 mp/hr|
|Stamina Regen||400 stm/day|
|Mana Compression (Lv 5) (447 / 729)|
|The soul as the forge. Compress the intangible. Birthed within this world.|
|Compress 10 mana into reality from 10 / (0.1 + 0.1 * Mana Compression) (16.7 mana)|
After looking at my pageless grimoire, I decide to grab my runestone and while watching the inner cover and trying to also concentrate a little on compressing a single mana ember.
The process is much easier than it has been in the past and as the compressed ember comes into view, I can also watch the golden veins of my grimoire recede or atrophied before growing back again to reflect the state of my soul. It is gorgeous and mesmerizing as it occurs, however as quickly as it starts, it is over and I am left with a revised inner cover of my grimoire.
|Mana Compression (Lv 5) (448 / 729)|
|The soul as the forge. Compress the intangible. Birthed within this world.|
|Compress 10 mana into reality from 10 / (0.1 + 0.1 * Mana Compression) (16.7 mana)|
After spending a bit of time trying to do the bit of math to see if I could max it out tonight. After going over the numbers three times, I’m disappointed that I will not be able to do some crazy push to try and max it out. Akira had also mentioned that it would be bad to push too low in case of an emergency, I’d also need to take a watch at some point. I cannot be comatose for that.
Thinking it over some more, I decide to use only three-quarters of my mana to just compress embers and not push my Den-izens too hard. I don’t know what would happen to them even if I did try to push a quarter of my mana into each of them. Would they shrivel up and die? Would they explode?
I relax and close my eyes as I try to make 49 embers slowly, not trying to push everything all at once. Keeping a steady pace and not pushing blindly at it, I manage just fine and see that my compression experience is sitting at 496, still a ways away from reaching the cap.
After we all manage to eat something, we fall asleep in companionable silence to wake up the next morning.
Waking up once again, sore and stiff, the first thing I noted was that I woke up on my own and not somebody else waking me. Thinking for a second that one of the other girls went first and maybe fell asleep outside, the dread and panic wake me up fully and as I sit up quickly and take stock of my surroundings, I note that Jessica and Zoe are still asleep beside me.
Looking at my two companions, I can see that Jessica is curled up in a ball while hugging a ball of fines to her chest, which must be Violet, she seems to be sleeping peacefully. Looking at our other companion, I can see that Zoe is sleeping on her back, stretched out as though she has not a single care in the world.
I bet that’ll change once she wakes up and feels the soreness from yesterday’s misadventures.
Exiting the tent, I find Akira, poking a smoldering fire with a ton of ash around it.
“Morning, you did not wake me for a turn at watch,” I said, slightly accusingly.
“Perhaps tonight, the three of you needed to recover and we’ll probably be marching for much longer today.” He said sheepishly in reply while not looking me in the eye. If he had, he’d have seen the color drain from my face at that prospect. I’m already sore and it will only get worse.
Looking at the last remnants of the fire, I can see that a small animal of some sort skewered there on a stick. Roasted and half picked clean already.
“What was that?” I ask cautiously, not knowing what the remains were.
“Don’t know, but it is edible and ‘breakfast’ if you want to save some of your dried rations.”
Going over to the charred animal, I rip a piece of meat off and give it a try. It tastes heavily of pine smoke and if I did not know better I could have been fooled in that it was medicine by how heavy the pine taste was.
“Edible, right…” I said while ripping off a couple more strips to chew on.
Possibly due to my abrupt leaving, but everyone seems to be roused now and make their way out to clean up. The caravan driver also rolls out of his lean-to and seeing that we are already up, he just ignores us and quickly rolls his night accommodations back up to the side of the saddle before he turns to us.
“Pack up quickly, we leave as soon as I can get Git to move.” He disappears into the woods for a bit, to possibly take care of some personal business before returning and clambering up on top of Git.
We smother the fire and start to disassemble the tent before we hear the constant calls of the caravan driver to his beast to have it start moving. After smothering our fire we are quickly beset upon by the insect horde in a vengeance now that the thick smoke of the fire is gone.
Quickly hurrying up to finish packing, with the constant yelling of the caravan driver to try to get his beast in motion. We finish with the tent and hoist our packs onto sore shoulders just in time for the beast to clue in and start moving once again and we follow behind for a grueling day marching behind this accursed wagon of corrupted vegetables.
The initial trek was terrible. The second leg of it with sore bodies is worse. Not just being sore, but we are starting to incline upwards, making a bad situation all the more terrible.
Akira would occasionally dart off to the right side of the path or the left side. I had initially assumed that he was taking care of some personal matters, however, on the third such departure, he came back with another skinned ‘breakfast’.
The grumpy look he had after returning and immediately being beset upon by a nasty horde of insects was almost enough to bring the three of us to our knees laughing. After only barely getting back the insects made his catch look like a living hive of insects and after a bunch of grumbling, he finally relented and tossed the insect ball to the side into the brush.
The next time he came back with something, it was heavily wrapped in giant leaves to keep most of the insects away.
We continued on, marching uphill, with every part of our bodies screaming in pain, the only respite from the monotony was when Jessica and I would feed our Den-izens.
Zoe had initially started the day off trying to practice her sound magic while on the march. She’d manage to make the odd thrum or pop noise but quickly gave up as she was becoming out of breath from the long march as well.
The worst part was if you needed to stop to relieve yourself, as the poor Git was too stupid to stop or start quickly, and thus, you’d need to catch up on your own, which was bad in its own way. Thankfully, Akira would hold a bag for whomever, so that they’d at least not have to make up the pace with their bag.
We stopped finally as dusk was nearing and the three of us pretty much collapsed right away. Akira was kind enough to set up the camp for us and we simply crawled into the tent to snack and fall asleep almost immediately.
There were no light-hearted talks that night in the tent. They say misery loves company and we were simply three epitomes of misery all huddled in a tent.
Jessica and I had continued to use our Den-izens for the trek over the past twelve hours. I had an extra 480 silk, almost double yesterday's haul. It also made the pack softer where it rested on my back, which was a bonus.
I also used a little extra mana to compress a few extra embers just to try and use every last bit of mana as efficiently as I could and by the time we rolled into bed. I would compress eleven embers and use eight of them to feed my Den-izens. I was too sore by the time I found the sweet relief of the grass beneath the tarp and simply laid my head down.
I had managed to do another 132 compressions of embers today, bringing me up to 629, however after shoveling a little food into my mouth, I simply fell asleep before I could try what I did the night before.
Waking up the next morning, I am stuck between being thankful that Akira let us sleep and rest while also mad at him and hurt for him either not trusting us with the night shift.
“You know we do not need to be coddled Akira,” I say, my tone berating, but that is not what I mean, my exhaustion and soreness are laced in my voice.
“The three of you will be worse off with each day and while I can do this for a while, I’m only using up a few ‘mana embers’ to help with my tiredness.”
“Wait, you can just use mana instead of sleep?” I ask, flabbergasted by the prospect.
“For a while, but the mind does need it, though a ten-day could be fine before a person is at risk of developing murderous impulses.” He says while thinking about the ramifications.
“Like just general grouchiness or is it a side effect of the magic?” I ask, now intrigued by the prospect of going days without the need for sleep. How much more could I accomplish with an extra half or third of a day?
“It would be an actual ailment of the mind, an additional cost on the body and mind for prolonged exposure. Some have tried delving deep into it in search of hidden skills, however, I only know of the carnage often left in their wake for such… experiments.”
The other two girls wake up during our small conversation and I must say they look as bad as I feel. Everyone looks miserable, hunched over, with sagging shoulders and defeated expressions, while Akira only has some slight dark bags under his eyes. He looks the best out of all of us and I admit, it is really not fair.
Zoe heads off to the other side of the woods to take care of some personal business. We don’t wait up and start to pack up the campsite which is pretty easy with just a few bags and a tent that we can now easily set up and stow away.
As I’m picking away at another ‘breakfast’ and Jessica is debating whether to give it a try, we suddenly hear some loud rustling and snapping of some foliage deeper in the woods coming in our direction.
Standing up and gathering together to see what is approaching with bated breath. I peer every so often in the opposite direction that Zoe had disappeared, hoping that nothing happens to her.
“Zoe! Be careful!” I call out, as the crunching gets closer. I’m not sure what we should do in this case, but I want to make sure that Zoe does not accidentally get injured, eaten, or worse.
The slow snapping and rusting continues to grow closer and then I finally see it, through the trees, weaving its massive frame between trees. The first thing I see is green moss moving in the brush at eye level. The beast approaches slowly and I notice that mixed with the moss are quills, maybe my forearm in length, poking through the moss.
As it continues to approach, I finally glimpse the head of the creature and my knees what to give out… It's an Ursa. The quadruped’s front shoulders hover at eye height. The creature has a cut-up face and patches of fur missing from old burn scars. The creature also appears thin and emaciated from malnutrition.
The ribs on the sides can be seen as it huffs and chuffs as it approaches. The creature is probably so desperate for food that it is willing to follow the scent of rotten food. Beggars cannot be choosers I guess.
However, it spots the three of us huddled behind the last smoldering embers of the fire and for whatever reason, it looks to decide that a difficult meal is better than a heaping pile of rotten food, that will not run or cause problems. Perhaps, it wants to guard the rotten food from us, or maybe it does not like the smoldering fire.
Looking at the creature, there are so many burn marks and patches of missing fur from old wounds. Those would never happen out in the wild, so someone must have toyed with the poor monster. However, it appears that it wants to maybe direct some of its grievances against us, those who hide behind a dying flame.
Jessica and I pull out our daggers, while Akira draws his sword. I do not like our chances as it stands. The Ursa, while it has an emaciated body, it still has claws and each one clicks against stones or severs branches underfoot along with its weight. The claws are longer than either of our daggers. Even though we can see its ribs, which could make shoving a dagger through easier, the creature is as tall as us at its shoulders and most likely, very deadly in close quarters.
The caravan driver had come out of his lean-to at my call to Zoe to be careful and is now trying to pull at the two right side-eyes of Git while constantly telling the beast to ‘eat it’ over and over again, while not shouting to draw the attention of the Ursa.
I’m cursing the devourer and anything remotely related to him under my breath. Jessica has her dagger gripped by both hands and is trembling, as opposed to the warrior antlers she’s currently wearing thanks to Violet, who seems ready to go to war.
I’m frustrated, we are in dire circumstances and not a single offensive spell that could be used. I was too greedy to focus on wealth or short term gains and neglected something so fundamental.
Akira places himself between us and the Ursa while picking up the ‘breakfast’ with his free hand.
The beast roars at us and takes an aggressive step forward, while constantly shifting his weight from side to side on his hind legs, never letting you know just when he might charge forward.
Akira takes a slight step forward while ripping a piece of meat off with his mouth, sword drawn and at the ready in the other. I don’t know why he’d want to eat in this circumstance, however, my initial idea of what he was trying to do is flipped as he moves in closer to the dangerous man-eater.
The caravan driver has shoved fingers into the eyeholes of his poor pack beast while trying to drag the eyes onto the Ursa while cursing his poor mount to eat it. I’m not certain if he plans to try and pit them into a territorial battle, but with how slow Git is to react to anything, I’m certain that he’d be toyed with for days before realizing he was being toyed with. He probably still has not realized that he’s a pack beast.
The Ursa, however, seems conflicted at the confidence its quarry is showing, as Akira is just outside of swiping range before he tosses the piece of breakfast across the face of the beast and to the side.
The Ursa briefly follows it before snapping back to Akira and letting out a roar.
Shifting its weight back, it moves into a swipe, which seems slow but with as much weight as the beast still has, it would still rend flesh with the four daggers. Akira however, darts in slightly and swipes the flat of his blade against the snout of the beast in the opposite direction of the beast’s swipe, stunning it temporarily as he backs away and rips off another piece and throws it across the face of the beast.
The Ursa is uncertain about what to do, as there is a faint scent of something delicious in the vicinity, however, it is slowly working itself up into a rage from the pain to the snout and possible hunger pans as it eyes the human before it.
The beast rears up, three times the height of Akira as it roars, covering the low insistence of the caravan driver to Git.
The roar of the Ursa is cut short, however, as though it had managed to wake something else. The ground is vibrating, as an impossibly deep, guttural growl is becoming louder and louder. My very rib cage is vibrating, the stones along the road and camp are dancing across the ground. The fire collapses in on itself, releasing a giant plume of black smoke, hot embers, and ash to float in the dawn sky.
The continued growl of some ancient monstrosity continues, as embers are shaken alive from the firepit and dance in the air. I’ve never heard of any such ancient monsters and can only assume that it could be one of the devourer’s favored children made real.
Visibility had dropped a lot due to all the extra matter in the air, however, the sound of this mega predator is finally able to be sourced from behind the Ursa. With a possible predator behind it, the Ursa quickly whips around on its two hind legs to only find a pale, sweat covered Zoe behind it using a tree for support.
“THAT WAS AWE-SO-OH-SHIT!!!” Her celebration turns into sudden realization as to how much trouble she’s in before she grabs her headdress and starts to bolt in the opposite direction to squeeze between two wagons of our caravan.
The Ursa bellows out in frustration, possibly trying to shake the lingering fear away. While it was doing its own roar, a giant tongue lashes out around the neck of the emaciated beast, and after two quick rounds and a quick jerk taught as Git tries to pull the Ursa in, the neck of the beast twists to an unnatural degree with a sickening crunch. The Ursa’s legs collapse out from under it and the hulking form is slowly being tugged and reeled in, one foot at a time, back to the waiting maw of the caravan driver’s mount.
We all watch in dead silence, as Git slowly reels in the Ursa, slowly, inching it closer and closer. Once close enough, Git snaps it up and starts to gum the poor beast’s corpse, with the legs sticking out occasionally, we hear the snapping of bones as Git works the entire corpse inside his maw.
The caravan driver finally slumps to the ground, releasing the eye sockets of the poor beast that is now crushing the bones of a giant Ursa inside its mouth.
A pale Zoe comes over to us, excitement and clear exhaustion from using up too much mana is visible in her eyes, along with the bugs that are stuck to the sweat on her forehead.
*pant* “I DID IT FINALLY!” *pant* she yelled between pants as her knees wobbled and knocked together. She yelled as though we were not only a few feet away. Perhaps she hurt her hearing, as I used to do that to others when around the forge for too long while dad was working.
Jessica gives her a quick hug before saying.
“That was Awe-so-uh-oh-shit,” Jessica said to an unsteady but extremely happy Zoe.
“Are you going to give that thunderous growl a name?” I ask her. My only reply was a pair of eyes that became exceptionally bright at the prospect of having a named spell before her eyes started to flutter and she slowly collapsed into Jessica’s hug.
Akira helps catch her as our slave driver has already managed to get on top of his mount while yelling and kicking at it to get going.
Knowing that we have a few minutes before things get underway, we quickly pack up the camp, as we can do it a bit better now. Akira grabs the bag with the tent and places it on his back before picking up Zoe in a princess carry and starts to trudge forward as the caravan begins to finally start moving forward.
We quickly grab our own bags and hit the road for another grueling day of marching. Thankfully with a full mouth, Git moves a little slower making the pace a little easier.
Despite the slower pace, I cannot help but wonder why I’m in a bad mood. Maybe I could faint and let Akira carry me. Looking over at the all too comfortable Zoe, I don’t know why but I think I’m jealous, or maybe I’m just annoyed that I’m now carrying her pack as well.
Must be the extra weight, as I continue to trudge one foot in front of the other, while sometimes thinking about just hopping onto Akira’s back if the going gets too tough. I keep banishing those thoughts, however, with every contented sigh I hear from Zoe, I cannot help but think it.