Happy Friday! I'm sick! For the record, being sick sucks. Especially when the littlest of the kids is sick, too. Thank goodness my hubby's new job doesn't officially start until tonight and then us sickly ones have the weekend to recover from this week's flood of snot.
Disclaimer: we're not horrifically sick. It's just a cold and cough that makes basic functioning feel like training for the Olympics. (You're constantly out of breath, can't figure out what you did to make that hurt, and have to push through because anything you take will affect your performance.)
I'm also more whiny than I may have a right to be due to the fact that it's mid-April and it's snowing. Again. Usually by now I'd be cleaning up the yard and the kids would be complaining about it not being warm enough outside to walk over to the nearest gas station for slushies without me forcing them to wear light jackets. Instead, I'm looking at shoveling the driveway and my oldest was in her heavy coat going to school after convincing me that she really didn't need to wear snow pants as long as she had her mitts and toque.
The meme about "April showers brings Snow Plowers" still made me giggle, though, so at least my sense of humor hasn't frozen solid.
4. Half Goat
Enti came up on him from behind and about six feet above, took position and, tightening his grip on his knife, fell on the man. Before the scout knew what was going on Enti killed him with a sharp and well-trained thrust. The scout spasmed once and died quickly and silently.
Enti stayed low and well-hidden while he edged around to where Addint and Catsh were sitting. He whistled a few notes from a bird call the brothers had learned as children – one that was from a bird that didn't winter in the mountains. Addint silently prayed a thank you to whatever it was that kept watching out over his little brother and whistled the remainder of the call.
Enti slid out from behind some rocks.
“Are you guys all right.”
“I am. But Catsh –” Addint hesitated.
He was still holding one of Catsh's hands. Enti finally saw the blood. He balled his hands into fists and bit on the knuckles of his left hand, rocking back on his heels where he crouched in front of his brother. Addint was unable to look up.
“Catsh,” Addint started, his voice choked. “He said the man was a scout and alone, and that we'd be able to see the rest of army from up there,” he tilted his head to the cliff. “He said you would be able to see them.”
Enti turned to the cliff, staring it down. It looked to be about a half day's travel away, and from where they sat it appeared to be approximately 300 feet of flawless stone. Enti's jaw set hard. He channeled his grief at losing three friends so suddenly into a rage. He stood fast, startling his brother.
Addint looked at his brother with shock.
“It's still half a day away,” Addint argued. “And we should stay and –”
“We can come back and bury them once we've seen the army and sent the information back to Archer,” Enti stooped and cleaned the frozen blood off his knife with a couple handfuls of snow before he dried it and sheathed it. “And it's only a few hours’ run, at most.”
The brothers pushed on through the snow, running in silence that was broken only by their even breathing. They reached the base of the cliff in less than three hours.
Addint knelt in the cliff's shadow. He clutched at the snow, drawing the frozen water slowly into his mouth as their father had taught them. Enti wasted no time for rest yet; he instantly began pacing at the bottom of the cliff, searching its face for the best way up. Spotting a route that suited him, he walked back to his brother.
Addint had started pushing snow out from the base of the cliff to make a small dugout for the two of them to rest in. Enti fell to helping him, and soon they were sitting close together, drinking snow and preparing for the climb. They huddled deep in their coats, sharing the close quarters for the extra warmth it offered.
“How many hours of sunlight left down here, do you think?” Addint asked.
Enti looked across the valley to the sharp peaks on the other side.
“Four, maybe three and a half,” He took another bite of snow and pointed up. “See that, where the rock curves out?”
From so far below, the outcropping looked tiny.
“I'm going to get up there. It's the top and will have the best view,” Enti took another bite of snow. “I spotted it out as we were running, and there’s a good way to get to it.”
“Do you have enough time?” Addint looked doubtfully from the precipice to the position of the sun.
Enti shrugged and threw the last of his snow away. He stood and began stretching out and re-warming his cooling muscles. The brothers shared a moment of quiet, surrounded by the foreign yet familiar mountains. Addint saw the flash from between the trees. An arrow broke against the rock that Enti had just twisted away from as he stretched. Addint leapt from the dugout, drawing his sword.
“Go, Enti! Now!” he ordered as he charged at where he'd seen the flash of the bow. “Commander Archer!” he demanded, grasping at the crystal at his throat as he closed in to attack the bowman.
The view cube on Archer's desk glowed to life, the odd angle of the two dimensional battle showing on all five of the exposed sides. Archer himself was not there to see it. He had been forced from his constant vigil over the cube by the arrival of a Council member at the compound.
Addint crawled back to the dugout, his left arm trailing uselessly. It had been a scouting party this time. One bowman, three swordsmen. He had won the upper hand in the brief battle by surprise, and then won the battle by default: he was the only one still alive.
That victory appeared as though it would be short lived.
Addint looked up to where he could see Enti's coat shifting as his younger brother climbed. The elder brother smiled up at the coat. Enti was moving fast up the first part of the cliff face, but that was the part Addint could have climbed nearly as well. It was going to be the last one hundred feet that would have been the problem for any normal man.
Good thing Enti was half goat.
Addint choked on a laugh and puked up a full stomach’s worth of blood. The view cube on Commander Archer's desk went slickly dark, then even that faded out as the cube went black. A few moments later Archer lead Luinda into his office and, attempting at politeness, pointed her to a visitor chair as he tried to not slam the door.
A weekly blog updating on Saturdays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!