WORDCOUNT: 782 words
RUNNING TOTAL: 3083+782 = 3865
“Well this doesn’t bode well.” Nahyl looked up at the Writer warily. “It’s Day Nine and so far we’re five days behind. That’s a pretty big word deficit, all things considered.”
“What can I say?” The Writer sighed, “Life happens.” She conjured up a wildly out of place beanbag and sat down next to the fictive.
“Well let’s try and make that ‘imaginary life happens’, shall we?” The fictive offered her writer a cup of tea, carefully handling the fire-warmed metal teapot. “Sitting in the same place for over a week brings new meaning to the phrase ‘stalled for ideas’.”
“Eh, I have all next week off from work, we’ll catch-up no problems.” The writer sipped the tea and made small happy noises.
The fictive raised an eyebrow. “What about ‘Life Happens’?”
“Fine, fine, I promise to lock myself in the room until I hit wordcount, happy?” The writer sagged back into the beanbag, carefully cradling the tiny metal cup and trying to forget about the giant pile of work that awaited her after her lunch break.
“Actually, I’d rather just get moving.” Nayhl eyed the horizon wistfully, “There’s a story out there somewhere.”
“And a lot of back story still left to fill in.” The Writer nodded at the still relatively sparse backdrop. “We’ll probably end up with a lot of retcons if we just jump in.”
“First drafts are supposed to suck.”
They sat for a long moment, just staring into the hazy distance, then the fictive stood, shouldered her pack and headed out down the road.
The foothills of the Thinn mountains were rather repetitive, lending a timelessness to the journey. Nahyl had buried her cousin only a few days ago, but between the view, the heat, and the general frustration level brought about by trying to handle the khail herd by herself… it felt like weeks. The khail weren’t helping much, both the sudden death and the smell of the new bones had them abnormally skittish. Nahyl found herself worrying about stampedes more than once, and that was a serious rarity for the massive draft animals.
The cats were still relatively distant, unnerved by the death of their primary handler. The younger male still brought her dinner, every once in a while, but the older male had taken to ignoring her entirely. She was a little worried that she would wake up one day to find both of them gone, but so far that hadn’t happened. There was a bit of temporary panic the one day that only the younger male stayed with her, but the older male did finally return, abet with a strange male in tow.
The male was about the same age as the older cat, and walked with an odd limp. The limp went away when he was running, but was very obvious whenever he slowed down. She wondered if the older male had caught the outsider trying to poach and animal from the herd. After all, it must be hard for him to stalk anything.
Cats had never hunted humans (as far as humans knew at least) but they were still predators and Nahyl was wary of the new male. But after a few days, he faded from predatory back into ‘helpful animal’ and he seemed no more wild than the others. She wondered if he really was a wild cat, or an cub that had gone feral. He seemed rather disinterested in her and wild cats were normally more openly curious.
In the end, it didn’t really matter. All that mattered was getting the half-dozen head of khail from point A to point B, and then getting back on the road so she could bring her cousin home.
When the sun set, she talked with her cousin and the other three ghosts, although the oldest of those had taken to staying out of the conversations. She thought maybe he was simply overwhelmed by the amount of chatter from her cousin. He was also a lot ‘louder’ as he had a full set of bones. The child shard loved talking though, so it and her cousin got along quite well. The middle-age female ghost was less inclined to the silly conversations, but chatted with Nahyl while the others amused themselves. All in all, things got more interesting as the sun went down.
Of course the khail stopped moving about the same time the sun set, so setting up camp in the near-dark was always fun. When she was lucky they would start settling in before the sun sank much below the mountains, but most days she found herself stumbling around in the starlight and amusing the ghosts with her curses.