We decided to head South along the banks of the river, but I knew we would never find a place for us to cross. The mountains were our only hope and to get to Cormire and hope that they had a ferry that could get us across the great river. We traveled for a few days, and it seemed that the ordeal with the dragon had brought us closer to together, whether it was from our close brush with death or that we were wanting to know more about each other.
I of course continued to focus my attentions on Sophia and at times felt myself grow jealous as she would move to talk to Orin and would move up to include myself in their conversations. I knew I had to let her know my intentions and soon before someone else did, while we rested we spoke of the fear that she felt with Farendor and his experiments. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath as I slowly reached out and took her hand. I don’t quite remember what I had said to her other than that I would be there to protect her always, I pulled the stone from my neck, the same that my mother had given my father when they first told each of their love for one another. I watched as her eyes welled slightly and she wrapped her arms around me, the smell of her so close to me was intoxicating and my heart pounded, I pulled her in close to me and held her tightly.
I finally had the woman that I desired and loved. I had wanted her from the moment that I saw her, it was if something had called out to me, I knew that she was the one for me. I remember wondering if I could love her anymore than I did that day, but somehow everyday my love for her grew more and more until it consumed me. Only the love for my precious children seemed to ever rival my feelings for her.
We had traveled to the foothills of the mountains and decided to prepare for the journey that would take us up into the winding canyons by going out and hunting for skins and food. By the time we finished tanning the skins and cooking the meat it was already late so we thought it would be best to rest and move out in the morning. The wind was cold and biting that night, Sophia would shiver and pull her new fur around her tightly. I offered her a warm place to sleep that night next to me wrapped in the thick furs in my tent. We would share a bed from that night on until the day that Fate took her from me, My arms wrapped tightly around her as she nuzzled against my chest.
We had moved slowly up into the mountains the cool air bring snow with it and it was soon much harder to travel as we climbed the snow making it difficult. I held Sophia close to me and helped her trudge through the snow, picking her up when she would fall. We were finally able to find a small cave where we could set up camp.
While we sat trying to settle in to our new surroundings we were attacked by a large beast that burst out of the ground, its first tactic was to try and eat Nemala as it did. It was probably just as hungry as we were, but in the wild it is survival of the fittest and we had to kill it. I had heard stories of such beasts before that travel through the earth. Sophia called it a bulette but I know it from what my people have called it for generations, the land shark.
We spent the rest of the night either huddled by the fire or in our tents trying to keep warm. I looked over to see Sophia laying on her stomach wrapped in some furs trying to stay warm, her ink vial by the fire trying to keep it from freezing as she would dip her quill and scrawl upon a page in her book, something I watched her do often. Sometimes her face would show her joy and happiness and other times fear or worry. Her hands shook and I could hear her shivering, I reached over and rubbed her back softly and was finally able to coerce her to come to bed.
To this day I have never gazed upon the contents of that book, it still sits on the nightstand that was her side of the bed, with quill and ink nearby, waiting for and wanting her, just like me, to come and fill with her sweet words.
I was rather foolish on the journey up to this point, I hadn’t noticed the clouds that bring the heavy snow and when we awoke in the morning we found ourselves having to dig our way out of our tents. The freezing rain stung against my skin as I moved out slightly from the overhang of rock that we had used for protection. As I surveyed the clouds best I could I knew that the storm would not be over soon.
One of the many times I thanked Raze was with us as he helped me talk Manford and Tusk out of continuing further up the mountain until the storm blew over.
I spent the day wrapped in Sophia’s arms, the furs around us, keeping each other warm. Despite how things were going outside of our tent, the day couldn’t have been any better, we spent our time talking, our hands and mouths exploring one another lightly. I remember trying to stay a gentlemen, just wanting to have her there with me, there would be plenty of time to make love to her.
We trudged heavily through the freshly fallen snow, my hands and feet were numb nearly half way through the day, and I can only imagine how the others were doing. Sophia who was shaking violently her lips blue, I wrapped my fur around her and held her tight to me. It was late in the day when we finally found a cave where we could get away from the elements and set up camp. I was so relieved to be out of the wind, my arms and legs were so cold they barely wanted to move anymore.
As we moved further into the cave I remember Astlin yelling out as something roped down from the ceiling and began to strangle him. My muscles burned and ached as I tried to move them into action after being out in the cold all day, I rushed forward trying to cut the tentacle wrapped around his throat, I don’t know if my arms just weren’t responding to how I wanted them or the creature jerked him too fast but my axe buried deep into him and his blood began to paint the floor. I stood slightly in shock, looking down at my axe knowing that I may have just killed one the those that I called friend.
I thank Willow that Sophia was there to mend the wound, we finally laid waste to the chokers and the hobgoblins that were already occupying the cave. We sat huddled around the fire, Sophia cuddling next to me, her touch helping to soothe my mind as I still was trying to come to terms with what I had done to Astlin. I moved to my tent, Sophia behind me and I felt her lips press against mine and my worries melted away. She could always do that to me, no matter what was wrong, with just a simple kiss nothing else mattered but me and her.