Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Berserker part 7

It was a beautiful morning, the sun was up and the birds were no longer singing, having been shot by Lars, who had been awake long before the rest, and were on their way to the spit. He walked through the camp, most of its inhabitants were just waking up. Gerda, the cook, would be happy to see the fresh game that he was carrying. He passed the clerks’ sparse and conservative wagon, as well as the normal congregation of camp followers and workers waiting for their wages.
“I told ya not ta hunt wi’ that crossbow!” growled a harsh voice behind him. “It’s too expensive to risk you losin’ or breaking on some damn fool jaunt o’ yourn!” Lars turned slowly with his hands raised in mock fear. It was Terris the quartermaster, also known as the Terror, and the rightful owner of all the bows that the guards carried. He was a short, stocky man, who was no stranger to hard work, and was very protective of what he issued, but kept them in excellent condition.
“Sorry”, Lars said. “Gerda said to find some fresh meat, we’re running low.”
“I’ll have ta talk ta her then”, Tarris responded, gruffly forgiving him for the minor infraction. Lars smiled to himself as he walked off, all he had to do now was make sure that the pheasants were cooked before Terris would get around to complaining with Gerda and finding she never said anything about needing meat. A little of Gerda’s heavenly fare was usually enough to appease him.
A few dozen more paces brought him to the ghost of a cookfire that the companions had all bedded down around. Millienya and Gerda were chatting and Jarn was still curled up on his bedroll. He had heard Jarn talking and screaming during the night, but with all that boy had been through, Lars was surprised he could sleep at all.
Gerda took the pheasants with a grateful look and began plucking and gutting them. “You had better go get some firewood unless you want to eat these raw”, she said as her scarred hands prepared the birds with blinding speed and dexterity.
“Aw!, I did it yesterday!”, Lars whined.
“Well take that sleeping giant with you”, Gerda said, jerking a thumb toward Jarn. “Looks like he could rip a tree out of the ground by himself. He has nothing to do around here anyway”.
Lars walked over to Jarn’s pallet and lovingly placed his boot in the sleeper’s ear. It didn’t even phase the boy, before Lars knew what was happening, he was on the ground with a massive set of hands around his throat. Only then did Jarn’s eyes snap open, signaling his waking. He looked down at Lars’ startled features, recognizing the man. Jarn quickly released his grip and slunk away, ashamed, embarrassed, and hastily wiping the beginnings of tears from his eyes.
Lars got to his feet. “What the hell was that about!?” he demanded. He made to follow Jarn but Millienya acted quickly and stopped him with a hand to the shoulder.
“I’ll go see what’s wrong”, she said.
“Alright”, Lars replied, “But tell him never to touch me again”.
Millienya quickly turned around to hide the smirk from her brother’s observant eyes. If he “touched” Lars again, Jarn would probably pop the man’s head off. She then followed Jarn to the rear of the caravan, he was rummaging through the workmen’s wagon when she caught up to him.
“Will you be sound?”, she tentatively inquired.
“Yeah”, he replied over his shoulder, still looking through the wagon.
“Is there something you need to talk abo-
“Where are the choppers?”, he interrupted, spinning around with a sense of urgency.
She pointed to the very rear of the wagon where the axes and saws were. He grabbed two of each and pushed his way past her.

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