Journey of the Messenger Cycle 1 Part 6b

Journey of the Messenger Cycle 1 Part 6b

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Berri and her companions had started the day swinging back towards the Old Trade Road, she figured they would be about two days north of the Caffern border by that point.

Odeena had said there was a big fort that the Republic manned, where the border was, with five hundred soldiers stationed there. It was the most northern point of the TreeWall. The Republic’s effort to hold back the sands of the Sudakkar were centred around the idea of planting certain trees and brush that did well in sandy conditions. The Great Water Works of Cafferen, which provided water to all the crop fields, the cities, towns and homesteads, of course it fed water to the TreeWall as well. Berri thought the Republic would be a very strange place.

Osran said to keep an eye out for wyrms. Berri stopped and did a three-sixty. Was a three-sixty a circle? Why not just call a circle a circle?

Oh look, another pseudo-vulture, that’s a wyrm. “Hey, there’s another vulture-wyrm thing!”

She saw Ijah wave to her. Good. They saw.

Berri headed off towards the vulture thing. Why were drake-spawn called wyrms? Why not just call them dragons? These ones sure were ugly. So ugly they were almost pretty. Their four wings fascinated her, they beat so fast and made a nifty thrumming noise. Berri watched as it flew up high, heading back towards the Sudakkar.

Odeena had such a pretty smile, Berri really liked the way her eyes lit up.

Berri looked around for the crow. Well, maybe it was not the crow, may it was just a crow, a bunch of different ones. She did not think so. Ah, there it was. She stopped and watched the crow as it stood in the grass, not far from her. It watched her too. “Hi Crow?”


Berri shrugged, “Are you following me?”


“I thought so. Why?”

“Caw!” It jumped into the air and flapped off to the northeast. She followed Crow.

Scouting was hard work, but it was more fun than just walking along with the others. Berri was surprised by how many old places there were throughout the area. There had once been a large population through this land. She saw low houses, sodis, and old stone foundations. Three different peoples. Where had they gone?

Orc? Probably. Someone told her once that the orc tribes had reached the Maldorn Mountains. Who was that guy? A merchant? Maybe.

Berri looked around, did another slow circle, checking near, middle, far, up and behind. She did it all again. Then marched onward. Not much to see really, just another old house, this one looked like it might have burnt down a few years back. So not that old. She kicked some debris around and stopped to pick up a half melted copper kettle.

That would be good for Maldorn, copper hungry as they were. “So ’tis said. Tralalala.”

Berri was glad she was feeling more like herself. Things had been weird there for a bit. Happens when you are cooped up in small confines, under stress. “Don’t worry about it Berri.”

“Okay, Berri.”

Oh, some dulmak. Tea time maybe?

Berri checked the sky. It was still a bit hazy but much clearer than it had been the last two days. The sun was close to its high point. Osran had said there might be heavy rain after the wind demons, that had not happened yet.

Berri gathered small sticks and handfuls of dry grass from around the base of the dulmak. As she worked Crow settled into the branches above her, “Hi Crow. Back so soon?”

Crow did not answer this time. Berri cleared away a patch of fresh grass, used one of the sticks to dig a shallow hole then lay two rows of the small sticks down, a couple little bundles of grass, some bark and finally placed a bunch more sticks around and above the grass. She liked building fires.

Ijah might be displeased with her for deciding to stop early. Maybe not though, her teacher had been in a much better mood since the stop over at the Treppon Homestead. She smiled more, talked more too, but mostly to Odeena.

Did Ijah have a crush on Odeena? Of course she did, who wouldn’t.

Berri gathered the fluffy fruit of the dulmak, being selective with which parts she took, it was late in the season and much of the fruit had been on the tree for a while. Some of it had even started to turn brown.

Was there a month of summer left? She thought about that for a moment, she figured there were five eight-days of summer remaining.

Crow watched her gathering, facing her each time she shifted her position around the small tree. The others came into sight. She waved. Osran waved back as the three of them headed towards the dulmak.

Crow flew away southward. “Tea time?” Berri asked when the others reached her.

Ijah looked to the sun, “Bit early in the day to stop.”

Odeena smiled, “I’m fine with a break, tea and some food would be good. Is there enough wood for mash?”

Osran added a couple handfuls of tinder and a few larger sticks, “Use that.”

Berri asked Odeena, “Can you get the pot? If you start the tea, Osran and I will scrounge up more fuel for the fire.”


Ijah looked to the southeast, “Seems like a good place to stop. How’s our water?”

Berri, happy that Ijah did not mind stopping, replied, “Enough for the day, I checked earlier. Odeena said there were springs near the road and I’ve been keeping an eye open, there’s a lot of old homesteads through this area. There should be more water.”

“Okay. Tea and mash then. I’ll take a look around.”

They drank tea and had some grain mash. Afterwards Odeena took out her lute and played a few songs. Berri loved listening to her beautiful voice. It quieted her mind. She was on the verge of falling asleep when Ijah said, “Alright, enough of a break. We should get moving. Are you still fine to be scouting?”

Berri sat up, “Sure am.” She took a moment to check Horse over, she seemed fine as well. Berri collected her crossbow and the small hip quiver of bolts then headed off to the southeast, the others were soon following. The afternoon was getting hot. It was much warmer this far south, as compared to home.

She wondered how the war was going, hoped her sisters were okay.

She kept alert for dangers. It was a long while before she spotted anything of interest, humming one of the songs Odeena had played earlier.

A group of wheeling crows drew her attention more to the south, she headed in that direction, the crows were very agitated about something. There were trees, half a dozen of them, likely near some water. There was a pseudo-vulture over there too, which was not getting along with the crows. She wondered is something had died under the trees.

Berri took a moment to load her crossbow. She looked around, there was no immediate threat. She closed towards the trees at a good pace, the crows circled and cawed loudly, sometimes the wyrm would dart towards one. The other crows would then all converge on the creature, feathers scattered from their airborne brawl and the pseudo-vulture would dart away, only to circle back around again.

Closer to the trees Berri saw they were clustered at one end of a small pond. She stepped over the mostly collapsed and partially buried wall of what had to have been a nice little homestead. There was not much left of it, but she could see a couple old foundations and lots of stones scattered around.

Berri stopped and sighted in on the pseudo-vulture as it moved back into the trees. The crows took flight again. Berri took her shot, the wyrm darted to the side at the last moment and her bolt thwacked into one of the trees. The crows protested loudly, circled further out as the little dragon thing decided to head off to the east.

As she came up to the trees she saw the remains of a couple bleek deer. Their little corpses had been well picked over, the crows watched from above. Berri wondered what had killed the deer.

She slowly circled around the trees, finding the tracks of a larger wyrm.

The tracks were fairly fresh, no older than yesterday. It was pretty big too, something the size of a wild cat or small bear. Berri reloaded her crossbow.

Osran had said the wyrms would range out from the Sudakkar, looking for food after the storm. She followed the tracks to the edge of the pond, only to discover fresher tracks along the water’s edge.

Cautiously she circled the pond, as best she could tell the wyrm was sheltering somewhere near the larger foundation. It had come and gone from that area a number of times over the past day or two. When she came around to the north end of the pond she looked for her companions, they were still not in sight. Berri looked around the area again, keeping back from the foundation she thought the wyrm might be resting near. There were not too many places to hide. Maybe it had left?

She spotted Osran and then the other two a bit further back, Odeena was leading Horse. Berri waved, Osran waved back. Berri closed her fist and pumped her arm up and down three times. Osran turned and said something to the others, then she drew her battleaxe and started to jog towards Berri’s position.

Berri looked around again. Where could it be? Was there more than one? Big predators were usually solitary. Well, not wolves, they were pack animals.

She glanced back, Osran had closed half the distance between them. Berri saw Horse throw her head back and trumpet a warning. Horse reared up on her hind legs, pulling the lead from Odeena’s hand then bolted away, to the east. Ijah made a grab for the lead, missed and started to chase Horse. The wyrm came up out of the grass, north of their position. Berri shouted a warning as the thing rushed towards Odeena. Ijah stopped, she drew her sword. Odeena turned, raised her walking stick as the wyrm closed on her. Osran stopped, looked back.

Berri ran towards them, shouting. Too far and too late. The creature bounded into Odeena, taking her to the ground and then leapt towards Ijah. Osran bellowed a defiant roar.

Berri screamed, “Odeena!”


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