Vance Rockfield…

Chapter 2

 

 

It was bright and clear with a crisp wind coming in from the north. Cool enough now to put on their robes and enjoy the invigoration of a new season. They had just come out of the forest and had entered a broad savanna of grasslands. Now the small river had grown larger, but still comparatively shallow and slow moving. Vance could see that it meandered into reed country. Thua had stopped to put them down to take off her harness when she said. “This is far as I can take you, Margo. The mating season starts soon and the bulls will soon enter into the breeding fever. It would be dangerous for you to stay with us.” She pointed with her trunk. “Just stay by the river and it will lead you out to the desert. Try to avoid the natives.” Vance looked up at her.
“Natives?”
“Yes. Margo knows of them.” She turned and started ambling off. “Like I say, try to avoid them if you can.” She waved with her trunk. “It would be good to see you again.”
And she was gone into the tall grass.

Vance realized that Margo hadn’t given him much information about her situation. Maybe she didn’t want to scare him off.
So, my dear. Tell me about these natives.”
She bent down to pick up one of the supply packs. “When I was running away, my husband and his men were not far behind and my horse was starting to fade. I was fortunate enough to find a native encampment and I was able to convince them to sell me  another horse.” She hefted the pack onto her back and started walking toward the small river. Vance did the same and asked. “Well, they don’t sound unfriendly. What was Thua worried about?” She looked back at him.
“They helped me because I gave them every bit of gold I had. They were more concerned about the men following me and were glad to take my gold and get me out of the way.”
Vance nodded. It seemed reasonable.

Walking along the meandering path beside the river, Vance quickly realized the reeds surrounding them would make a good boat. Wouldn’t take too long and floating’s better than walking, so he said. “Hold on Margo. The start cutting some reeds. Make sure they are at least 10 feet high.”
“Why?”
“We’ll make a boat”.”” Out of reeds? I don’t think it’ll be a boat. It’ll probably be more like a raft.”
“No, no. You’ll see.” And he was right. About five hours later they had constructed an 18 foot round sided craft with two up curving ends all lashed together with ground vine. When they put themselves and their two packs on board in the it only drafted 2 inches
of water.
He cut two bamboo poles to size and gave Margo one. Pushing out, they found the craft to be quite light to handle and very manoeuvrable. She looked back at him. “This is fun.”
“Yes. Don’t try to pole any faster than the current and just let the river do all the work. Use the poles to keep us away from any big rocks.”

So as the day waned into a cool evening, Vance estimated that they could probably cover about 20 miles a day. He felt good. He liked the rhythm of the river and the sight of the creatures beside it and in it. Many deer and some antelope. Even a stalking cougar who watched them drift by with cool indifference.

Margo  was also enjoying the experience. The tranquility of the river calming her foreboding of future events.
It went like that for two days.
And then things changed. As they came around a bend in the river they saw to their right the body of a man impaled on a bamboo stump. Vance sighed. Shit! There’s always something. “Looks like a warning against trespassing.”
Looking at the sight as they passed by, Margo said. ” Let’s get down the river as far as we can before dark and then find a quiet place to bed down for the night.” She looked at him. “And no talking.”
Now they started poling the boat to actually gain on the current and after another hour she saw what she was looking for. A small island in the centre of the river. “We’ll beach the boat here and have our meal.” Vance agreed. “No fire, though. And we can sleep on the boat for a quick getaway if needed.”
Margo allowed her self a rye smile. Escaping on their boat could not actually be called a quick getaway.

Chapter 1

hearing a low rumble in the forest below, the raven turned its attention to see a large dun coloured shape ghosting through the trees. And then another. And another. All on a well trodden path heading south.

Of the mastodons there were many and of a number to be called a proper herd. On top of  one of the larger animals there perched two humans. A man and a woman.
The raven flew off. One of the humans had something odd to it that made the large bird nervous. She would find food elsewhere.

The two riding the pachyderm had only met a few days before and were in the process of leaving a previous life and going to another more dubious one. They were on their way to retrieve the woman’s children from a tyrannical ex-husband. She had escaped from that man with her life and was now returning with an adventurer named Vance Rockfield. Not just an adventurer, but a dashing werewolf and an accomplished raconteur. He was also considered to be one of the best swordsman that ever had lived. Quite possible, because he was 3000 years old and had much time to practice. He had decided to accompany the woman on her hunt for justice. Plus, he was attracted to her. She had a long and lean body with a sharp brain and a good sense of humour. Just his type

They were riding in a covered gondola on top of the mastodons back and had just finished making love when she asked. “Vance? Are you really sure you want to do this?”
He sat up. “What? Make love?”
She frowned. “No. Of course not. I mean to help get my children. Don’t be silly.”
“Well, to get the children of course. When I say I’m going to do something I do it. Usually.”
“Usually?”
“Well, you know. Barring unforeseen circumstances.”
She frowned.
He patted her thigh. “Dear lady, there are very few circumstances in this world that can stop me from doing what I want to do. Don’t worry.” And he delved into the chest behind them and pulled out some cold fruit to eat.
“Want some?”
She shook her head. She was worried.
Vance looked at her for a moment and then said. “Look, Margo. You’ve got the Hell staff from the Voth. Right?”
She nodded yes. It was a lethal weapon of alien magic.
“Okay, then. We know how effective those are.” He reached over to the back of the cab and picked it up. “It’s fully charged and you know how to use it?”
She nodded yes again.
“Well there you go! With that and my skill with the sword, we’ll be able to take anything on. Plus, don’t forget. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.”
She looked at him. “What you mean?”
“Let’s just say I hope you don’t have to find out.” He looked up. The rhythm of the pachyderms gait had changed. For the last two days they had been moving through this gigantic forest and heading south toward the mastodons wintering grounds. The cool of the North was coming and they were making their yearly migration to easier foraging. He could now see that the herd was dispersing into the forest. That meant that the day’s journey was at an end. The animals would forage now and some would bathe and drink in the small river the path followed.
Their ride mind-spoke to them. “We stay here for the night, humans. Don’t eat the mushrooms. They are not good.”
Vance appreciated her warning. In all of his 3000 years he had never seen mushrooms of this type. They were a gigantic fungus 3 feet across and painted in extravagant reds and blues. Thua didn’t speak to the humans too often and when she did it was always with calm wisdom and patience. She had owed the woman a favour for removing a tangle thorn spike from one of her daughters back molars. That had happened many years ago when the woman, Margo, had been on the run from her husband down south. The woman had encountered the herd in their Northern habitat and saw they were in distress, so she had carefully approached them and had seen a young female lying on the ground in obvious pain. She had politely asked them if she could help. She had seen the blood coming out of the young ones mouth and she knew what the problem was most likely to be. So, as Thua and a young male held the yearling down, Margo managed to remove the thorn. Now they were getting a free ride because mastodons never forget. Even after 12 years.

Letting Thua lower them to the ground, they watched the she undid her straps holding the cab and placed it by the trail. Vance looked around. The trees here were gigantic with some being 50 feet across and hundreds of feet high. These were interspersed equally with giant hardwoods of maple and hickory. In these magical times all grew tall. Seeing movement to his right he was startled by the sudden appearance of a dragonfly with a 4 foot wingspan. Observing it in all of its extravagant beauty, he wondered what kind of thoughts went through its head.
The dragonfly was wondering the same about him.
Turning to Margo, Vance said. “If you could make a small campfire, I’ll go to the creek and see if I can catch some fish for supper. I shouldn’t be long.”
She started to ask how he is going to do that and then she remembered. Wolf. Catching things came natural.

Later, after finishing up a meal of fresh trout and fiddlehead ferns, Vance figured it was time to ask her why she fled from her husband. He was curious.
She looked at him quietly for a moment and then spoke. He wanted to kill me.”
“Why?”
“Because I wanted to leave him and take my children with me. He said if I tried he would kill me.”
“He’s a violent man, I take it.”
“Yes. He’s a large man with an angry disposition. A few days later I gathered my children and told them to come with me. The two boys were six and seven at that time and my daughter was five. She wanted to come, but the boys didn’t. Before I could stop them they ran off to get their father. He caught up with me at the stables just as I was hitching up a cart.” She lowered her head and Vance could see there were tears. “He tore my daughter out of my hands and threw her to the ground.” She looked up at him. “Then he tried to strangle me.”
” Try?”
“Yes. As he thrust his hands toward me, I hit him in the throat and he went down grabbing my daughter and holding on to her. By that time his guards were coming. All I could do was leave my daughter and get on a horse.”
Vance’s eyebrows went up. “He has guards?” This was new. “You never mentioned.”
Now she was angry.
“I don’t care about guards! I’m going to get my children back! Why? Does this change things for you?”
Vance thought about that for a moment. Then he shrugged and said.
“No.”
He poked the small fire with a stick. “What does this ass hole do for a living anyway?”
“His official position is Steward to the King.”
“King? You have kings down there?”
Yes. There are three kingdoms. Arzony, Naveda and Kaforna. My children are in Arzony.”
Vance picked up the last nibble of trout. “I didn’t know Kaforna was a kingdom.”
“Well sure. Always has been. When the world turned over to full magic, King Schwarzenegger the 13th reconquered his land from the barbarians who overran it before the Change. It was a great victory that reunited the Kingdom.”
“Well I’ll be darned! I didn’t know that.”
“Yes. It’s a fact. What did you think Kaforna was?”
“A place of fruits and nuts. You know, organic vegetables and stuff. Good red wines and mediocre whites. Lots of boutique beer makers and all that. Last time I was down that way was before the change.” He got up and started to carefully put the fire out. He felt a drop of rain and looked up to see the moon starting to hide its face behind a cloud.
“We’ve got some weather coming in so I guess I’ll set up the tent. Or should we just sleep in the gondola again? It seems roomy enough.” It had a canvas roof and being a werewolf he didn’t care where he slept. If he had his preference it would be hay. But he knew she liked her comforts.
She nodded. “That’ll be fine.”

Later, a young bull had come over to watch them make love. He had never seen that before and thought it to be an odd way to copulate. He was a little miffed when Margo shooed him away.
A quiet rain drifted through the forest.

Stay tuned for Chapter 2. The adventure continues………………..

The Thing in the big white house

It crawled up the stairs, its many eyes casting left and right derisively at the shabby surroundings. The humans expected it to live in this? He wouldn’t put his pet Garphnol in these rooms! Disgusting! Turning to its sleek mate, the female form of his species, he said. “I can’t live in this squalor, Betcha. Let’s just go back to the hotel. At least we could get some decent food there.”
“You’ll do no such thing, Shlump. You’ll stick to mission protocol. Now control yourself and at least try to look like you’re enjoying the experience.”
Like all females of her species, there was no actual emotional connection to her breeding partner. And in her case, there was one strong emotion she had toward him. Hate. He was her assignment and she did her best to give the humans the correct impression of the dutiful wife, but it wasn’t easy. His slovenly boorish manners and overall demeanour had disgusted her from the beginning of the relationship. She knew that feeling was quite mutual, but they had their orders from the Great Leader. To her, he had said. “If you fail me, your family dies.” Turning to Shlump he reiterated. “And don’t you forget I have the photos.” He had smiled. “I’ll always have the photos.” Then he had coughed out that harsh barking laughter that he was noted for. A sound as cold as the North wind that haunted the barren flat lands he was born in. He had an odd sense of humour.

Tune in next week for the third episode where Shlump learns how to fake humility and discovers multi-flavoured ice cream.