A Scrap of Something Rough…


Here’s just a paragraph of the story I’m working on today. Let me know what you think!

He thanked his gods for spotting some wild onions and tableleaf growing just beyond the trunk of an enormous stitch pine. Tableleaf was the best of wild greens. The leaves sprout from a stalk near the ground. Mature leaves, best in flavor, are the size of small bread loaves. When simmered long with a little fat and onion, they are a filling meal in themselves. This would cheer the men, thought Noka-Pan. It was a welcome distraction from his thoughts and he plucked up three-quarters of the leaves and left the rest to replenish. He made his way back to the camp site.

He dropped the fat bundle on the ground where Wog sat peeling potatoes into a pot of water. This was the last of the potatoes. Tomorrow there would only be game to eat, and whatever they could forage to go with it. And the bread. It was Raz made the bread and supervised the cooking. A long bar of iron sat on the ground nearby, waiting to be fitted into notched sticks over the cooking fire. They had brought along three such iron bars, and six pots, along with three large flat pans for bread, made on a bed of banked coals.
“There’s a meal for you,” Noka declared with pride. Wog leaned over and flicked aside a corner of the bundle with the tip of his knife. He smiled to see the onions and tableleaf.
“Hurry, fetch the other pot,” said Bada when he saw the leaves. Noka didn’t hurry. He resented it actually, but did not allow it to show. He went to a blanket spread nearby, arranged with cooking utensils. He plucked up an iron kettle by the handle and brought it to Bada. He sat it down near the fire.
“Get water,” said the cook absently, without looking at him. Noka wanted to say, ‘Let Lot do it, or Wog.’ The words were in his mind. But he did not. Instead, he picked up the kettle once more and went to the stream. He did hurry this time, the water sloshing a little as he came back to the fire. He wanted to be done with them, and away. Leave these three to the cooking. He wanted to sink back into the trees again, this time under the excuse of finding medicines. He would return when the meal was ready.

There was much to explore here. He had never been in this part of the forest country. They were now off the route they had taken with their queen, hunting game. Now they were veering north west. And at the edge of the forest would be the prairies, the grasslands. And beyond that, the great city of Xet. He had never been to another city, ever. He knew only Elat and its near surroundings, which were only villages and farmlands, and mines to the north.

When no one paid him any more mind, except Wog, who continued smiling at him as he peeled potatoes, he turned and went his way. He would come back for the meal. He walked quickly through the men and plucked up a length of light woven fabric from his own saddle bag. Folding this under his arm, he again slipped into the darkness of the trees.

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