The Boys of Lionshire (Part Ten)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Book Dragons

As the weather turned from chilly to outright cold, I went out to the woods to collect some more firewood.  Shane came along to help out and brought a snack of acorn bread and blackberry jam with him.  As we walked, he heaped generous portions of the jam on to the bread and offered me half.  I gladly accepted the treat and slowly ate the succulent meal and cherished its wonderful, sweet and grainy flavor.

“I checked on Alexander while you were lighting the fire”, Shane said through a full mouth, “He’s not looking too good.”

I polished off the last of my bread and licked a bit of jam off of my fingers.  “How so?” I asked.

“Well, the tourniquet seems to be holding up well, but his leg is swollen to twice its normal size”, he said, “If we don’t get a care package from the Gatekeepers soon, I don’t want to think what’ll happen to him.”

“He’ll be alright”, I assured him, “Besides, I wouldn’t expect any help from the Gatekeepers any time soon.  We’ll have to help him pull through this.”

Shane found a piece of a limb on the ground and broke it in half with his foot.  He tossed the log to the side and started to form a pile with the other deadfall.  Before long, we had a healthy pile of firewood for the fire pyramid and I started to collect firewood to return to camp when Shane grabbed me by the shoulder.

“Did you mean what you said at the counsel?” he asked.

“Which part?”

“The part about defeating the Gatekeepers.”

I looked him deep in his grey eyes to show how serious I was.  “I meant every word of it.  We can’t stay here forever.  I want to get married one day, maybe start a family, and live in a house where I’m protected from the cold, heat, rain, and snow.  Don’t you?”

Shane started to take the firewood from my arms and place it back on the pile.  “Follow me”, he said.

The seriousness of his tone told me he had something important to show me so I didn’t argue with him.  It was getting even colder and I wanted nothing more than to go warm up by the fire and talk to Sara, but I knew I needed to see whatever it was Shane wanted to show me.  I tossed the rest of the firewood on to the pile and brushed the leftover bark off of my shirt.

“Lead the way”, I said.

Shane took off in a brisk pace deeper in to the woods and I followed close behind him.  He stepped over downed trees and dodged bushes and poisonous plants.  I wasn’t worried about Two-Step snakes because it was far too cold for them to be out and about.  They were probably burrowed deep in their holes trying to stay warm.

I was excited at the thought of whatever it was Shane wanted to show me and my mind whirred with the possibilities.  Was it a new type of fruit tree or a long forgotten natural spring?  Was it a secret hideout or tree house?  I was so lost in my thoughts that I never saw the tree root protruding from the ground that grabbed my foot.

I tripped over the root and crashed hard in to the ground, catching my fall with both of my hands.  Pain shot through my wrists and all the way to my shoulders and for a moment I thought I had broken both of my arms.  The pain quickly subsided and I rolled over on the ground and sat, the cold seeping through the seat of my trousers.

Shane ran up to check on me.  “Are you alright?” he asked concerned.

“I think so”, I replied while brushing myself off, “I tripped over a root or something.  I think I cut up my hands pretty good but the rest of me seems okay.”

“I can’t see anything to check you out”, he said, “We’ll have to wait until we get back to the fire pyramid before I can give you a good once over.”

Fire would have been nice right about now.  It would have offered us the comfort of warmth while keeping the beasts that roam the night at bay.  I started to get up to continue on our quest when a small, metal object fell out of my pocket.  The lighter.  Of course.  Sara had given it to me back at camp and we had a way to make fire.

“I have an idea”, I said holding up the lighter for Shane to see.

“How did you get that?” he asked.

“Sara gave it to me back at camp.  We can make a torch to light the way for us.”

I put the lighter back in my pocket for safekeeping and pulled the rock knife out of my back pocket and went to work on my t-shirt.  I poked the knife through the center of the shirt around my belly button and started to cut it lengthwise.  When I couldn’t reach any more, I handed the knife to Shane to finish the job.

Shane cut the rest of the shirt all the way around until we had a large swath of cotton cloth to work with.  I found a stick long and thick enough to use as a handle and wrapped the t-shirt strip tightly around the top of it. 

I held the crudely made torch up for Shane and I to both see and we were both pleased with the outcome.  It wasn’t pretty, but it would get the job done and light the way for us and keep us warm.

“Well what are you waiting for?” Shane asked, “Light it up.”

I pulled the lighter back out of my pocket and lit it up.  The flame danced brilliantly on top of the lighter and I held it just below the edge of the shirt remnant.  The shirt slowly caught and then roared to life with an intense blaze.  When my eyes adjusted to the change of light, I could see the forest clearly around us.

The woods seemed much spookier as the light pierced the dark places between the trees causing shadows to dance ominously around us.  The trees seemed like they had come to life and were reaching down with their long, skinny fingers to grab us up and swoop us off of the ground.  I knew it was all just an illusion, but I moved closer to Shane anyway.

Shane grabbed the torch from my hand and tugged on the sleeve of my jacket.  “You ready to go?”

I could no longer take the anticipation of not knowing where we were going.  “I’m ready”, I said, “but where are you taking me?”

Shane smiled and shook his head.  “You’ll have to see when we get there.”

Submitted: December 28, 2017

© Copyright 2022 B.J. Mills. All rights reserved.

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