Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
Who knows what time it was? Was it morning? Was it night? Who knew? It felt like morning and I turned over the oat biscuits gently and moved the honey pot slightly closed to the fire to loosen the contents for the spreader. Then I leaned over to stir the stewed pork in its pot and settled back for another bowl of pipe weed from my dwindling supply. Drawing deeply on the stem of my pipe against a flame from an ember, the smoke reminded me of my home to the north and memories long ago.
Under his blanket, the barbarian kicked in his sleep, a dream causing him to crease his forehead and lash his feet, running under his sleeping furs from invisible goblins or demons of some kind. Across the fire from him, the dwarf lay stretched out on his back, his beard and ample moustache fluttering gently in time with his snoring, blankets pulled up against the cave-damp and the cold. His booted feet protruded from the end of his blanket roll and I could count the hobs on the bottoms of the soles of his boots and the steel U’s on the heels. No wonder he threw sparks when he ran, I thought. His axe, with its worn leather handle and leather wrap, was laid across his chest, held in his right hand, ever ready.
Clarissa, our druid, remained unseen, wrapped completely from head to toe in her bedroll and curled in a ball, her back toward the warmth of the fire and a wisp of her strawberry blond hair hung out from the top portion of her blankets.
I noticed Dayne was watching into the darkness and when he looked back toward me, I motioned with my spoon and asked “Shall I get them up? The stew is ready and the biscuits are crispy and brown?” Giving the pot of stew another quick stir, I let a goodly portion of pork plop back into the broth and tasted the broth on the spoon. Hmm, it needed salt. I smiled, my pipe clenched in my teeth as I grabbed a pinch and flung it in.
“Yes,” he said. “I guess it is time we were moving ahead.” He crossed to the barbarian and gently prodded him through the furs. “But you can wake the dwarf. The last time I tried, I almost lost an arm to that axe of his. Maybe he’ll even up your legs.”
The barbarian poked his head from under his sleeping furs and glanced over at the pots. Nodding his head at the biscuits, he pulled a hand out from under his furs and held it up. I slipped my spoon under a biscuit and expertly dunking it partway into the honey, I flipped it over to the barbarian, who snapped up with his hand and retired under his furs again, the movement of his furs indicating chewing going on. He would be back for stew.
Dayne crossed over to the lump that was ‘Rissa and he gently shook her shoulder, mumbled something delicately to the bump that was her head, and then grabbing a wooden bowl, he ladled a portion of pork stew and flipped two oat biscuits into his bowl with it. He grabbed the honey spreader and dropped a dollop of golden nectar on the biscuits then sitting down on his knees with his feet tucked under him, he open his pocket grimoire and reviewed his magical power words, even though I knew he had committed them to memory.
From a distance a voice called out of the darkness, “Hey! Save some for me,” and a lithe feminine figure in leather and chain with a long bow gripped in her left hand, two arrows held in the same hand ready to fire with a third knocked, strode out of the darkness. She flipped her long black braid over her shoulder as she slid the three arrows into her quiver and crouched next to the fire, her hands, encased in fawn-colored leather gloves, held out toward the fire to warm them. She motioned toward the dwarf.
“Is anyone going to awaken Grimgar?” Eltarra scooped a biscuit and dipping it into the honey pot, she licked some of the honey off with a flick of her pink tongue and took a bite, a thin smile across her face.
I guessed that no one was going to go near the dwarf so I grabbed a piece of firewood and walking over to the dwarf, I drew back and gave him a hefty whack on the right foot, leaping away at the same. It still wasn’t fast enough, though.
The dwarf sat up with a grunt, steel flashing. His blankets fell to his waist, his beard sticking out with accumulated sweat, grease, soil and who knows what else at a straight angle from his chin. But the important part of this little story was the piece of firewood, which, of course, I was smart enough to release. This was now solidly affixed to the axe, smashed to the floor, and the dwarf, his little porcine eyes glimmering from the creases in his face, said with a slight chuckle, “Almost got you that time.”
“Yes,” said I as I struggled to pull the piece of wood free from the axe. “It’s breakfast time,” and tossed a bowl and spoon I had grabbed onto his blanket-covered legs. Reaching to get him a portion, I poured the thick stew with a good portion of meat in it into the bowl and said, “For someone who sleeps so soundly, you certainly do wake up with a start.” He chuckled again and pushing down his beard, shoveling a big hunk of pork into his mouth.
I filled another bowl with stew broth, mostly vegetables, and added a biscuit and honey, placing it next to ‘Rissa’s bedroll and settled back in to finish my last bowl of my pipe and a cup of water. The barbarian had emerged from his furs and seeing that all the others had theirs, he spooned pork directly from the pot into his gaping mouth.
I sighed and thought, “I guess you can’t ever teach some people manners.”
… To be continued …