Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Part 39

Rudolph took in the innkeeper's warning as he inhaled a small breakfast of yams spread on toast. He was sure that they had to leave quickly, before they could be attacked again. George, in his worry for the two young travelers, had provided Rudolph with a pack full of food, and two flasks of water. He had shaken his head with finality when Rudolph had tried to hand him some coins.
Alisen came downstairs as Rudolph was finishing his food, her hair wet from her bath (Rudolph had insisted on paying for the water). She sat down beside him, attacking her own yam-toast. The two rouges did not come downstairs, and this made Rudolph fidgety and nervous. He knew they should get out very soon, but refused to let himself say anything to Alisen until she had finished her last bite of toast.
Rudolph and Alisen left the inn in a hurry, George's warning echoing through his mind again and again. They hopped over rocks and splashed through narrow streams that masked their footsteps, mashed their way through thick vegetation and crisscrossed through trees that had grown so close together that their branches had become entangled. By dusk Rudolph was close to collapsing. His face bore the tiny scratches of tree branches, and he was wet from the waist down from all the hurrying through water. His boots, which had sucked in the water like sponges, felt heavier than lead, and he sat down messily onto the mossy tree roots of a massive oak, whose leaves provided coverage over a small clearing. Alisen, who looked pretty much the same as Rudolph, managed a meek call over to him from where she stood in the clearing's center.
"Oi, Rudolph! Let's...well, we will stay here tonight. And...do not go to sleep without eating a bite first or tomorrow you will feel more wretched than you do right now."
Rudolph, in answer, threw off his pack. Alisen removed a loaf of bread embedded with salted nuts, a small package of dried fruit, and several strips of dried pheasant. She went to sit beside Rudolph, and together they  finished the meal, surprised that they could feel hunger through their exhaustion, and realizing that they were very hungry. Afterwards, they drank heavily from the water flasks they each wore at their hips, and then bid each other sleepy goodnights. They both produced yawns as  they stretched out beneath the oak's canopy, before falling into much-needed slumbers.

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