Reads: 230

Page drew the Spartan and took careful aim. She released the string and the arrow flew true.

‘Dude!’ Rodger called excited. ‘You got them all right in the middle.’ She looked to her left to see everyone in Martha and Tilly’s class had stopped to watch her shoot. Page was glad she had not noticed and they were polite enough to stay quiet until she finished.

‘I told you she was a national champion.’ Dan said grinning to Page. She just shook her head and went to retrieve her arrows.

‘Well?’ Ty asked. Kidd was standing at his side and Dogg was beside Kidd. ‘Don’t leave me in suspense woman. Did I do good?’ Page looked to the black bow. It was such a perfect fit to her hand, if she did not know any better she would have thought it was designed for her. Page grinned to Ty.

‘It’s prefect.’ She said, and then noticed Kidd frowning. ‘What’s on your mind little man?’

‘You missed one.’ He said motioning to an arrow that was just outside of her circle. ‘You never miss.’ She knew exactly why that arrow had gone off. With a sigh, she flexed her right hand rotating her wrist.

‘Hank said I would probably need some support when I shoot.’ She told him. ‘My wrist stung a little that last shot.’

‘I think I can help with that.’ Tilly said. ‘Elliot, the person who played as the town leather smith, he is a real leather smith. If you tell him the problem, I think he can help you. He made an amazing knee brace for Phil when he messed up his knee.’ Page nodded frowning.

‘Thanks Tilly.’ She replied. ‘Can you tell me how to find him?’

‘His shop is next to our house.’ Martha said. ‘Two doors to the right. You will want to go now. He is in a good mood in the morning, but it goes downhill as the day progresses.’

‘Thank you both.’ She looked to Ty and Kidd. ‘You two stay here and play. Err, I mean practice. I’m going to check and see if this guy Elliot has anything.’

‘I want to go.’ Kidd said. ‘I didn’t know anyone else here knew how to work with leathers.’

‘If he is going, I’m going.’ Ty said ‘We should drop our weapons off first. I don’t think Steve will take kindly to us carrying them around.’ Page chuckled shaking her head. The three went through the town to the cottage. Once their weapons were secure, they went through the little maze of streets to where Martha said the shop was.

There was no sign, but Page could tell there had been one there from the hooks she spotted. The stall was open and there was a thick built man working on a piece of brown leather.

‘Excuse me.’ Page said. ‘Are you Elliot?’ The man glanced at her.

‘Yeap.’ He said and continued to work.

‘I was told you helped someone with a brace.’ Page said watching the man work. He was skilled and she recognized the piece as a half gauntlet. She had seen a lot of the guards wearing them. ‘I am willing to trade for a wrist brace.’

‘Don’t make souvenirs anymore.’ He said.

‘Not a souvenir.’ Ty said ‘A medical brace.’ The man looked up at that and peered at Page giving her his full attention for the first time.

‘You look fit.’ He said. Page came forward and showed him her wrist.

‘I am an archer.’ She told him ‘There is permeant damage in my right wrist that is making it hard to shoot.’

‘Any pain in the left?’ He asked checking over the scars of both wrist.

‘Not pain.’ She said ‘Kind of an ache.’ He nodded and stood. That was when Page realized he had a prosthetic left leg. Elliot went to a shelf on the wall and picked up a tailors measuring tape. He returned to Page and took several measurements of both of her arms, wrist, and hands. She noticed he wrote nothing down.

‘I will send a boy when they are done.’ He said ‘We will discuss payment then.’ Confused Page opened her mouth to comment, but Kidd cut her off.

‘These aren’t brain tanned.’ He said and she looked to see the boy in the stall looking at a piece of scrap leather.

‘What would you know of it boy?’ Elliot asked. Kidd looked to him for a moment then reached into his pocket and pulled out the rabbit fur she recognized from two days ago. The boy had caught it in a snare trap that Dan showed him how to make. Elliot accepted it and looked it over close. He looked back to Kidd with narrowed eyes.

‘Who taught you this boy?’ He asked.

‘Floyd from Treetop Sir.’ Kidd replied. Page wanted to cheer the boy for standing his ground before this gruff individual. ‘He taught me last summer.’

‘Less than a year?’ Elliot asked surprised and looked back to the fur again. He nodded slowly. ‘It’s fine work.’ He handed back the fur. ‘Most of my leather is bark tanned. I prefer brain tanning, but it’s more work and stinks. Neighbors get uppity.’ Kidd nodded frowning.

‘We had to go outside the wall so I could tan that.’ He said annoyed. ‘Mom got stuck out there with me so no rippers got me.’ Page smiled amused.

‘I didn’t mind Kidd.’ She assured him. ‘It’s quiet out there.’

‘Too damn noisy in here.’ Elliot agreed peering at the streets.

‘Why not move?’ Ty asked. ‘North of the castle is in a safe zone. You can build a tannery there. Then you won’t have anyone bothering you about the smell.’

‘Thought about it.’ Elliot sighed scratching his stubby chin. ‘Looked in to it a little this winter. Going to cost to get it done. Until trade starts again, not much to be made.’ Page nodded.

‘I think I can help there.’ She said thoughtful ‘We will see in a few days when you finish my brace.’ Elliot nodded. ‘Do you mind if Kidd stays here for a while? He is interested in expanding his knowledge.’

‘You can stay.’ Elliot said to Kidd. ‘You’re going to help me with your mother’s braces.’ Kidd’s eyes lit up as he went farther into the stall.

‘Have fun.’ Page chuckled. ‘I want you back at the cottage for dinner.’ He nodded and she was sure he only half heard her.


Page had been dreading this moment since they ran into Red and the halflings. Shooting Ty her dirtiest look, she accepted the sat phone. Ty just smiled and sat across from her at the table. Page pressed the speaker button and set the phone down.

‘Yo! This is the Mouth.’ She scowled hearing the broadcaster’s voice. The stunt he pulled back at the bunker still had her irate with him.

‘It’s Page Mouth.’ She said ‘I have a question for you.’

‘Ask away beautiful.’ Mouth said cheerfully ‘If I have an answer, it is yours.’ She rolled her eyes and Ty chuckled amused. ‘Is that Ty? How’s it hanging big man?’

‘Low and to the left.’ Ty replied. Page shook her head unable to keep from smiling.

‘Wow, TMI buddy.’ Mouth chuckled.

‘Mouth,’ Page started ‘We ran into the local behemoth and some of the halflings. One of them told me darkness bad while pointing east. Any ideas?’ Mouth was quiet for a moment.

‘Maybe,’ he started. ‘I have had a couple reports, but they haven’t been confirmed yet. One was from a drunk by Great Falls. The other a guy that is constantly calling me about aliens between Oliverville and Superior. Both reported seeing black rippers in the trees.’ Page frowned.

‘Sounds like a dark furred halfling.’ Ty said.

‘That’s what I was thinking.’ Mouth agreed. ‘I have asked a few of the local settlement leaders about it, but none of them can confirm it. I did notice something about both areas however. Aside from being outside of the safe zones, there are no halfling sightings.’

‘That is nothing unusual.’ Page said. ‘Halflings can travel safely with behemoths or rippers, but they dislike the rippers and tend to avoid them.’

‘You will hear about it on the news tonight,’ Mouth started, ‘but there is a wild story running around Texas right now. Two halflings rescued an eight year old from a rippers nest in the middle of Huston.’

‘How?’ Page asked shocked. ‘How did they get her past the rippers in the city?’

‘That part is a little gross.’ Mouth sighed. ‘They covered her with ripper and halfling shit.’ Page felt a little sick to her stomach.

‘Ah, god.’ Ty said looking a little green. ‘I think I would have rather been eaten. That is not a good smell.’

‘Yeah,’ Page sighed ‘I had to burn the cloths Kidd and I were wearing when he went into that mudslide. I could not get the smell out of them.’

‘Mudslide?’ Mouth asked excited. ‘Do tell.’

‘Thank you for the information Mouth.’ Page said annoyed. ‘If we see any black rippers we will give you a heads up.’

‘Don’t hang up.’ Mouth said panicked.

‘What?’ She asked. If he asked about the mudslide again, she would hang up.

‘You will go right past the Oliverville sighting.’ He said ‘Do me a solid and check it out. The sighting was past the airport in the woods south of the road.’

‘We will keep an eye out.’ Page promised.

‘Thanks Page,’ Mouth said ‘now, about that mudslide,’ Page pressed the button and hung up. Ty shook his head smiling.

‘You shouldn’t be so hard on him.’ He said taking her hand. ‘He is kind of right.’ She peered at him and he just shrugged as he massaged her wrist. ‘You know what I was hearing at the few settlements we stopped at? When we lost track of you, all we here were people talking about you and Kidd. A lot of them sent out parties to find you. Said you were too good for this world to be lost.’ Page shook her head.

‘I don’t know why.’ She told him confused. ‘We don’t do anything special Ty. All we are trying to do is survive.’ She glared at her wrist. ‘We are hardly even doing that.’

‘You don’t see it love.’ Ty sighed shaking his head. ‘What you and Kidd are doing is something special. Hell, if it wasn’t for you, I would still be with Burk and in the dark about his sick experiments.’ Page shivered at the thought and frowned to him. The door opened cutting off her question. Kidd entered grinning.

‘He’s done!’ The boy announced excited. The news surprised her. They had gone to the leather worker only four days ago. She thought it would take longer. ‘He wants you to bring your bow and quiver to the archery range.’

‘That was fast.’ Page said getting up. She pulled her bow out from under her bed and grabbed the nylon hip quiver from the closet. The three left the cottage, but Page went to the wagon. She reached under the seat and pulled out the heavy black lockbox. ‘Ty, do you mind hanging on to this?’ He accepted the box and his eyes widened. Page just shrugged and the three went to the training yard.

Submitted: January 26, 2016

© Copyright 2021 CJones. All rights reserved.


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