I know, almost two in one day? I was inspired, Daniel!!
The heated water did the trick to a point. By the end of the day I would be bruised from my shoulder to elbow and from my armpit down to my naval on the left side . We left the subterranean baths. I was almost pain free until I used my left arm...or was touched...or someone touched me there. I told myself what I told everyone else, it would heal.
At breakfast, I saw Delta and her three at the table. I also saw a room I hadn't before last time. It was smaller than that banquet room I knew. It was cozier.
“Hello,” Tommy said proudly with his fingers to his throat to feel the vibrations.
"Hello!" I smiled at him. “Very good!”
He began to sign. It takes practice. I don't have it like Toby does.
“I don't doubt you will.” I said. “Toby practiced, according to him, for almost a year.”
Beth was not as shy with Seth or me, but she was with Chitto. Allister didn't appear to have bad days. The child was always happy. I did notice the children's breakfast portions were normal. Yannick's and Delta's were less than normal.
“I appreciate supplies you brought,” Yannick said. “That helps.”
“The problem is the path here,” Delta explained. “There is the only one wide enough for caravans.”
Yannick sighed. “We are working on another, but it won't help now.”
“Is it the new one steep?” Seth asked and waved toward the exterior. "That one was very winding."
Yannick shook his head. “It's a gradual incline.” He smiled. “One of the things we do well besides fight is mining and weapon making. We are going to use the same rail system we use for the ore carts.” He chuckled. “Horse drawn, not human, of course.”
I nodded. “That will be easier than digging a canal uphill.”
“Couldn't we dig one in stages?” Reese asked. “I mean, can we stop the flow of water? We do with dams, but...”
“Actually, we could stop it,” Val nodded. “They have these things called locks in China that has been functioning well there a few hundred years. We could use boat lifts for the caisson.”
Yannick paused while eating. “The what?”
“It's a chamber in which the boat rises or comes down in as they add or take the water away.” Val explained.
Even I had to say “Oh,” to that one. I had no idea what it was. Another day of success! I learned something new! It was only breakfast!
Val thought shaking his head. “We don't really have a river up here. The mechanics of doing that will take time. We have streams...”
Yannick nodded. “We'll have a good meal tonight. We had a successful hunt yesterday.” He grinned at me and Seth. "Have either you had boar?"
"I have," I admitted. "It is very good."
“Too bad you can't hunt for fruits and vegetables.” Seth muttered. “A balance diet is needed.”
Chitto cleared his throat. “Actually, Seth,” he began, “you can hunt for fruits and vegetables.”
Seth looked at Chitto. “You can? Like what?”
Chitto nodded. “Most fruits and vegetables were originally in the wild.” He said logically. “You need to know what you're looking for. There are apples, various berries, bell peppers, beans and onions, just to name a few.” He shrugged. “I think the one's I mentioned should be available here. Your people are just used to farms.”
I grinned at my cousin. “Can you tell some people here what to look for and where to find them?”
Chitto nodded. “I'll even draw a picture. It might take longer to find, but not hopeless.”
Yannick nodded. “I'll assign some men to do that.”
Yannick took us to the armory. “Remember me telling you we have a new armor?”
I nodded. “I do.”
Yannick smiled and picked up a breastplate. “Feel this.” He handed me the hard covering that had no give. The smell of burnt metals and molding was in the air. It was not the usual gray metal, it was black! I held it out for Seth to feel.
I was surprised how light it was. I knocked on it. It was hard. It even had a slight ring as I hit the metal. “This will stop a sword?”
Yannick nodded. “It will.” He held another breastplate up and the loose chainmail next to it. “We came up with a way of keeping the metals strength but kept it lighter by mixing ores.” He picked up a glove where the back of the hand was protected from being cut by a sword. It was all black. The shield, chainmail and metal, glove. Then he looked closer at me. “You will need to be used to wearing it.” He picked up a sword. “Care to fight me again?”
“I barely survived that one.” I said.
“No kissing at end, win or lose,” Seth growled with a smile.
I chuckled remembering the tactic I used with Yannick. “Whatever it takes.” I shrugged using their motto.
Yannick chuckled. “That's right.” He frowned. “It will add weight, but not like the armor in Europa.” He looked and pointed at my left side. “Are you up for it?”
I thumbed toward outside. “It won't matter out there.” I shrugged. “Let's do it.”
One more time I faced Yannick in the same room as the last time. The over all feeling now was not as heavy than it was then. No one was trying to win this time. A lot was riding on this, but not now. It did add weight, but I didn't feel the strain at first. It did stop the sword thrusts and impacts Yannick gave me. His thrusts and hits weren't held back. It was sturdy! At then end of our first round, I was sweating.
“It will get easier...” he gasped, “ if you wear it more often.” Yannick smiled and panted as he wiped his own sweat from his neck. “Me included.”
“Right,” I nodded and then smiled as I caught my breath. “Whatever it takes.”
Yannick burst out laughing throwing his arm over my shoulder. “That's right.”
I got two of those great baths that day and the next day. Fresh water baths were done here, especially if there was an event here. The smell of sulfur in water was like rotten eggs to me. The taste was much worse. I found out Delta didn't take those kind of baths. She also didn't bathe her children in it. We waited until my skin was wrinkled and all the soreness in me had faded.
Yannick went over a map with us. “There are two passes you can take.” He pointed at the map. “Both are clear now.” He pointed to one. “This one can be blocked with snow and ice.” He pointed at the upper portion of the map. “However, if northwest is your goal, this is the quickest route.” He sighed sadly. “I will miss going with you.”
Seth nodded. “Yes, but you are king.”
Yannick nodded. “That's right.”
The other things were the coats. Like the rugs and bedspreads, it was shaggy like a bear. They were super warm indoors.
The wagon we brought the supplies up in was again being used. This time, to haul all our gear. Especially the armor. If we were attacked again, would we have time to change? We did wear it some if just to keep warm. The body heat was kept inside. It made a difference. I got used to the weight of the armor. I was sorry for my horse, because with the helmet on, the chainmail, sword and all that I gained a good fifty pounds more! We headed off again. The way was unknown to most of us. Even Max needed a map.
I can't explain it, but something wasn't right. I didn't know what it was, but...
Seth rode by my side most of the way. There was no formation of our group. We camped at night and went farther. Houses and any community was done, but we were still in the mountains of Creid.
Just as Christian and I had done on the way to Blethos, we didn't pay our hygiene and grooming much thought. I shaved when I got itchy. Royal Valley was three weeks behind us. I was in an unknown part of the world. Creid was also behind us now. I couldn't shake it. Something was wrong. I couldn't determine what it was. Chitto held back a little until he was beside me.
“Are you feeling it?” Chitto asked me. He was feeling the same thing?
I wasn't sure what he meant. “I don't know. I feel something.”
Chitto now looked behind us. “We're being followed.” We stopped our horses.
Seth shook his head. “I felt something the past few days.”
I nodded. “Me, too.”
“Suggestions?” Seth asked Chitto.
“I'll go up and tell the others,” Chitto said. “Then you hang back and I'll double back. We'll find out who it is.” He looked at us. “Count a hundred at a slow pace and then start back the way we came.” He urged his horse forward and trotted up to the others. We did as Chitto instructed. There were curves and dips and rises on the path and we lost sight of Chitto.
When we got to the correct number we stopped the horses and started back the way we came.
It didn't take long when we heard a struggle and then my heart froze as I heard a voice I knew. I am not kidding. My heart nearly stopped!!!
“Let go!” I heard as we got closer to whoever it was. “Stop, Chitto!”
We got close enough and I can not tell you how I felt. I was beyond angry, beyond mad. I was enraged! The day was passing, but I could see Toby and Thomas in the fading light. Both on horseback and held by the arms in place by Chitto.
“What the Hell are you two doing here???” Seth shouted in fury. “Tell me!! What are you two doing here??”
They knew they were in BIG trouble. I rode closer to them. I opened my mouth to say something, but I was shaking so hard as I restrained myself from actually strangling them both. Really, I did consider it! I didn't know who to speak to first. I didn't know what I was going to say.
Max rode up along with the others.
“I think we'll make camp here.” Max said finally seeing what was happening.
I pointed away from the two. How I came out with words so calm, I don't know. “I'm going to pitch my tent. Then we'll build a fire and cook dinner. We'll eat.” I shook my head. “I am VERY surprised at the both of you and disappointed.” I shook my head as my mind wasn't accept what was happening. “Did you think you could join us!?” Thomas opened his mouth to say something, but I held my hand out to stop him. “Don't!! Not now!!”
Seth was turning red from rage. “I can't imagine your father authorizing this! I know how he felt.” He waved at Thomas. “Can you imagine what they're going through? The pain? The tears of your mother!? Your father!?”
“Us?” I held a hand to myself and Toby was going to speak. “You, too. Not a single word until we talk in the morning.” I tugged on my horses reins to turn him around. “If I start now, I will say something I'll regret. I am so MAD AT YOU!!!”
Seth snorted. “Even the night as a buffer may not save you from being told something we'll regret.”
I nodded. “I can't see me NOT saying something I'll regret even then!”