Friday, 15 July 2016

Artel - The Edge of the Plains

They had been walking for days, forever onward through the bleak and empty landscape towards the dark forest that looked no closer than it had on they day they had begun. They had run out of wood a few days ago and the cold nights had left Artel feeling sour and grumpy, and the dwindling supply of yar bread did nothing to lift his mood. This journey was taking longer than he had expected and his patience was running out.
That night he slept fitfully, his dreams full of sounds and colours moving too fast for him to hold on to. He tossed and turned, his groaning waking Millon who dutifully sat and watched him, afraid to leave him alone.
The smaller man knew Artel wasn't pleased with him, he knew he didn't live up to standards or expectations, no matter that he tried. The knowledge saddened him and in the small hours of the night he would curse his awkward flailing limbs, his empty forgetful head and his eager babbling mouth. At least this journey had cured him of one thing, he thought to himself, Artel's dislike of his chatter had caused him to remain silent early on in their quest, he hoped this was a lesson that would stay with him.
The last few days had been the hardest for Millon, Artel's foul mood had cast a sort of shadow over the both of them and the smaller man felt it like a weight on his shoulders. He knew it was his duty to make the knight as comfortable as possible and to keep his spirits high, and he knew he was failing to do either.
Millon watched as the sun began to poke it's head over the horizon, filling the sky with purples and pinks and oranges and casting a soft glow over the empty plains surrounding them. His nut brown eyes glinted in the glorious light and for a moment he found himself lost in the beauty of a sunrise. He sat still for a moment, simply breathing and watching the brilliant light show before him, hope sparking in his chest.
"Millon! What are you doing sitting there staring at the sky? Why haven't you begun to break camp if you're awake?" Artel's voice was loud and harsh and it made Millon jump and bow his head in shame.
"Yes S-sir." He mumbled as he shuffled away from the sunrise and began to pack away his sleep sack. The familiar feelings of shame and stupidity washed over him, once again he had forgotten his job and let Artel down.
Artel packed his sleep sack away quickly and quietly, his frustration at his useless companion threatening to leak through. Surely the man knew how important this mission was, why did he insist on wasting time shuffling around or staring at the sky! He hoisted his now full pack onto his shoulders and turned, ready to chide Millon for his tardiness, but to his surprise the small man already had his full pack on his shoulders, yar bread in hand and a smile on his face. Artel frowned.
"What are you so pleased about?"
"Look Ar-Sir, over there, the forest is so close, we're nearly out of the plains. Half a days walk I think and we'll reach the edge of the trees."
Artel turned to look and almost grinned in spite of himself. The small man was right, the empty plains swooped away in front of them, rolling gently until they met the edge of the forest whose trees were now individually distinguishable. Their days of traipsing through the barren plains were almost over. Once they reached the forest there would be wood to make fires, they would find fruit and berries to eat and Artel could catch rabbits and other small animals to cook. Artel took the dry yar bread Millon held out to him almost happily, imagining the joy of sinking his teeth into the warm flesh of a cooked rabbit.
"C'mon Millon, nearly there."
He hoisted his pack higher on his shoulders as he strode towards the forest and bit into the dry bread, grimacing at the now all too familiar taste but chewing and swallowing anyway. Millon tightened the straps on his pack and hurried after the knight, his small legs working to keep up with Artel's fast pace.

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