The Origin of Mount Woe Chapter 3
Journey In The Snow
"It will be a very long journey." Belthasar told the gathered explorers. "It will probably take two months, at least. King Vigo wants only the most hardy explorers on the journey." The explorers murmured among themselves. If the journey was going to take two months, their target must be an amazingly long way away. Many of the men had families they did not wish to leave for that long, and so they left the room.
Belthasar was left with a room of young bachelors, and surprisingly, now that he could see the back of the room, Zeal. He raised his eyebrows. "Now then, we're going after an ancient artifact called the Sun stone. It is supposedly very powerful. Anyone who is very sensitive to magic may not want to come." A few more people left the room.
"Thank you gentlemen. I'm sure Vigo will be glad to get started."
Later that night, Vigo was not so happy. "What do you mean Zeal wants to come? The wild snow wastes are no place for her."
"I brought up the same points after everyone else left." Belthasar shrugged. "She seemed very intent on going."
"Why? I mean, there's really no reason."
"She's a very mysterious young lady. I'm sure she has her own motives."
"Oh well. Tell the men, and lady, to be ready at first light, down at the canoe storage. I don't look forward to spending two months out in the cold, but if we must, then I want to get it over with."
"Very well sire. Should I request that anyone else come with us?"
"No. I need everyone else to stay here and keep things in order. If that kid Dalton's parents are anything like him, we need supervison."
The first week of travel was fairly uneventful. After crossing the north strait past Enhasa, the going was fairly easy, especially on the clear day. The sun was bright and blinding on the snow, but the clouds came again soon enough.
At the start of the second week, there was a particularily bad blizzard. On the second day, it was so bad that no progress could be made. During the night, when Vigo was beginning to think that this might take longer than two months, he heard his tent flap opening. As he stoked the dying coals of the fire, he saw that Zeal stood in the entryway. She had several blankets wrapped around herself. Nevertheless, her skin had begun to take on a bluish tinge, and melting snow dripped off her hair.
She noticed Vigo's raised eyebrow. "Don't get your hopes up Vigo, but this is the kind of night where you just can't be alone, and I trust you more than those other guys."
"You flatter my humble soul with such praise." Vigo bowed low.
"Very funny. I wish Belthasar had been able to convince some of the more responsible explorers to come with us. These guys are immature adolescents in twenty year old bodies."
"We're no different. That's another thing about you that puzzles me, Zeal. Why do you always act like a celibate forty year old? You're younger than I am."
"I'd prefer not to discuss it." She stated coldly.
"Well, if that's the way you're going to be..." Vigo began to crawl back into his sleeping furs, leaving her to do what she would.
"Wait! I'm sorry. I don't mean to be rude, but... Well, this last week has been really hard. That pack is so heavy, and the snow is so deep... I guess I thought that strong of spirit also meant strong of body, but..."
"Now you know it doesn't." Vigo finished for her. She finally walked forward to warm herself by the fire.
"No. I guess not." She winced as she sat down by the fire. "Ow. And my muscles are so stiff!"
"Here. Let me..." Vigo walked over to where she was sitting. He pulled the blankets she was wearing back, and put his hands on her shoulders.
"Wha?" She seemed to recoil at his touch, and glared up at him.
"Whoah, easy! I'm not going to burn you." Then he glanced around. "But those blankets are if you leave them so close to the fire."
"Sorry. I'm not used to... Oh wow." She closed her eyes for a while, appreciatively. Suddenly, she shivered. "Not quite as warm as the public fire in Trann cave is it?"
"No. It would be warmer if we slept back to back."
"Or front to front?" She asked, far too casually for Vigo's liking. Now she was being rude again. "Sorry sire." She pulled his hands off of her shoulders. "But my bag only has room for one. And its going to stay that way."
"Fine. Good night." Vigo said simply, somehow sensing he had offended her by not continuing to match wits in an innuendo contest. She must find something about him attractive, or else she wouldn't keep baiting him like this. He watched her for a long time after she fell asleep. She had a smile on her face. Vigo would have liked to think that he had caused that smile. In the dying light of the fire, Zeal's hair seemed to be a silvery blue. The shade suited her. Vigo sighed. There was a long day ahead of them tomorrow. He'd better get some rest.
Vigo woke up suddenly. He felt like he had been sleeping a long time. The fire was out. He could not see anything. "Oh no." He heard Zeal say softly from the front of the tent.
"What's wrong?" He asked, standing up. He winced as his head hit the roof beam. That was strange. Feeling around, he discovered that the support beams had been bent inwards by some force.
"We're completely snowed in." Zeal sighed. "It looks like we're fairly deep too. A whole lot must have fallen. It'll probably take us most of the day to dig out."
"And get buried again tonight? No, we have to get moving. Move to the rear of the tent."
"Why? What are you going to do?" But Vigo was already concentrating. As she backed away from him, she heard him whispering a few words. Suddenly, a bright light flared overhead. The support beams sprang back up, and grey light streamed into the tent opening.
"Now," Vigo said solemnly, "we have to keep going. We can't waste any more time. Our supplied won't last forever. You pack up here while I go get everyone organized."
"Its going to take a long time to free every tent from this snow." She told him.
"What snow? Take a look outside, Zeal." Looking at him strangely, she got up and looked out the entrance, then gasped in surprise.
"Oh my." Vigo couldn't help smirking. She didn't seem to notice as she turned to face him. "I didn't know you had that much power."
"That was easy." Vigo told a little fib.
"Hmmm. Well, I won't underestimate you again. I guess you better go get everyone organized." Vigo didn't say anything, but just smiled as he left the tent.
"She is without peer in beauty and greatness." - Anonymous (and Vigo)
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