Chapter 62. The Fight In The Snow.
The mountains were getting closer and they looked more and more magnificent. The area wasn’t that bad and we managed to keep a decent pace.
Finally, with the excitement at it’s peek, we reached the bottom of the mountains. It was surrounded by woods and, not surprisingly, the weather became colder as well.
- I can feel the chill coming down the mountain. - said Horrace.
- They are called Frozen Mountains for a reason. - added Roland. - Lets set up a camp here. We will need plenty of wood to keep the fire going through the night.
- The mountains are so white at the top. - Eve was impressed.
That’s right, you’ve never seen the snow before. And since it’s everyone’s first expedition, probably neither did the rest of the group.
We’ve set up the camp in no time. I helped with the wood while Eve stayed to help with the food. I had us wear warmer clothing as the evening was already colder.
- I didn’t expect it to be so chilly. The night might be even colder. And we are only at the bottom of the mountain. - said Roland after the meal.
- Indeed. - added Sebastian.
With Rlani’s help, we had enough food to last us a day or two, but she did mention it was harder to find anything. All said and done, nobody expected it to be easy. The good thing was we didn’t come here to fight the giants. Worst case scenario, if we confirm they are not open to discussion, we turn around and go back. At least that was the plan.
Again, we agreed on the order to keep watch. This time I was the third one in line. It wasn’t ideal, but you can’t get the long stick all the time.
It got dark fast. As excited as we were, people was tired as well. With fire burning fiercely everyone, except Roland who was to keep watch first, lied down to get some sleep. As always, Eve cuddled really close to me, and the cold didn’t seem as chilly.
I was woken up by a pat on a shoulder. Sebastian informed me it was my time to keep watch. He mentioned nothing out of ordinary happened during the time he was awake.
The first thing I did was to put some more wood into the fire. They kept it burning all this time, but you can never have too much warmth. I put some water to boil too. A cup of a hot tea was always welcome during a cold night.
Eve was sound asleep. I covered her up with my blanket to keep her warmer. The night was colder than I expected. The temperature was getting close to zero probably.
With fire burning and a cup of hot tea in my hands I gazed into the distance. The Frozen Mountains looked magnificent. Trees were covered in snow, which sparkled in the moonlight.
With everything being quiet, I noticed some movement higher up on the mountain. It was too dark to see what it was and too far to reach us any time soon. At first I thought it was some animal wondering during the night. But the movements were too careful for someone randomly wondering around.
I stood up and walked a few steps to take a better look. As soon as I did that the movement stopped. I still couldn’t see what it was since it was too far. But to confirm my suspicions I pretended to randomly walk around, keeping an eye on the spot.
When I turned to the side and supposedly gazed at the sky, the movement resumed. I had a hunch someone was watching us. No animal would care too much about what I was doing so far away at the bottom of the mountain. Unless it felt a threat, which I was not at that time.
I sat back down without showing any signs of me knowing we were being watched. It was quiet for about an hour without any movement. Then, whatever or whoever it was, started to go back up the mountain. Until I couldn’t see any movement at all.
Well, it’s safe to say we are being watched. I suppose it was to be expected. Whether we know it or not, we are in the Frost Giants territory.
The time came for the next person to keep watch. I put some more wood into the fire before waking Horrace up. Kalim was to keep watch last.
- Anything happened? - Horrace asked.
- Not really. I did notice some movement higher up in the mountains, but it was too far to see what it was. - I informed.
- I’ll keep an eye out. - he said.
- Ok, have fun. - I went to lie down.
- Hah. - Horrace smirked.
I carefully crawled under the blanket next to Eve. She cuddled up closer right away. I even noticed a cheeky smile on her face.
Hah. Of course you would.
Letting my fantasies run wild, I fell asleep with the same cheeky smile as Eve.
The morning came faster than I wanted it would. My warm, cuddly sleep was interrupted by a mild cough. Luckily, it wasn’t Eve coughing.
- Did you catch a cold Kalim? - Roland was awake as well.
- Humph. - Kalim gestured showing it’s no big deal.
But Narima was worried about him. The night was cold and he didn’t put warm clothes on. And since Kalim was the last one to keep watch, he probably was caught by the morning chill.
- Good morning. - I carefully sneaked out of my warm sleeping spot.
- Here you go. - Roland was kind enough to prepare some hot tea.
Everyone else woke up earlier as well. Whether it was the morning chill or the excitement to go up the mountain, people were itching to get going.
- Yaawn... brrr... - Eve hid under the blanket as soon as she tried to get up.
- Haha. It’s not that cold yet. - I laughed.
- But it’s so much warmer in here. - she didn’t want to let go of her blanket.
- Come on. You’ll get used to it soon enough. Here. - I extended my hand with a cup of hot tea.
- Thank you. - she smiled.
- Lets have some breakfast and move out. We need to check what to take with us. Obviously the horses will have to stay here. - said Roland. - Anyone noticed anything at night?
- I didn’t see anything. But TC mentioned he noticed some movement up in the mountains. - said Horrace.
- What did you see? - asked Roland.
- I can’t say. It was too dark and too far to figure out anything. Whatever it was, they probably noticed the fire and were curious about it. - I told them.
- Lets be careful. We will be in the Frost Giants territory as soon as we go up the mountain. - said Roland.
Huh? I thought we were in their territory already.
I was about to say something, but I quickly realized nobody knew for sure where the Frost Giants territory actually began. They did say it was the first expedition after all.
Kalim was coughing from time to time. Even I didn’t think much about it until we were ready to leave. He was the only who didn’t have warm clothes on. His armor offered some warmth, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
In a rush to leave the forest, some of the warm clothing were left in the other carriage. And the ones they had, Kalim gave to Narima to keep her warm. I would do the same for Eve of course. I offered him my cloak, since I was warm enough. He gladly accepted it.
Nobody knew how cold it will be once we go up the mountains. It was clear the cold we felt during the night was nothing compared to the snow and ice covered peaks.
The temperature was dropping down with every step. And even if some of us admired the wonder of beautifully frozen trees and bushes, the cold didn’t spare any of us.
Kalim was coughing more often and began to have a hard time to breath. The air became thinner the higher we went and others felt it as well. We had to take regular stops to adjust to it.
- Are you ok Master Kalim? - Narima was worried about him. - Here take my coat.
But Kalim shook his head and had Narima keep it.
- You don’t look so good Kalim. - commented Roland.
Even if Kalim denied, we knew he wasn’t feeling well. We stopped to rest again to decide what to do.
- Oh no, you have a fever Master Kalim! - Narima became even more worried.
Starting a fire was a no go. It would take too long and won’t do us any good since the day was only starting. We were about to enter the snowy area too, but with Kalim being sick, others were worried.
- We can’t go on with Kalim in his current condition. - stated Roland.
- It would be a shame to turn back now. - Sebastian commented.
- What are you saying? - his words angered Roland. - Even if it’s not serious now, the cold might get him sooner or later.
Kalim didn’t argue. He was smart enough to understand his situation. But at the same time, he didn’t want to be the reason to cancel the expedition.
- Please listen. - Narima said. - Master Kalim and I will stay behind and we will slowly go back down to our campsite. Please continue the expedition without us.
- But we can’t just leave you here in the middle of nowhere. - Roland didn’t want to agree.
Kalim coughed again, then gestured they’ll be fine.
- The horses and the carriage were left alone. We can guard them until you come back. There’s some food we left behind too. It will be enough for us to last a while. I am sure Master Kalim will get better if he gets some rest. - Narima was begging us.
- It makes sense Roland. It’s better if they go down now. We’ve been climbing up only for a few hours. They will be able to reach the camp before evening. Besides, we’ve seen nothing, but trees and snow around us. If we’re lucky, we might encounter Frost Giants sooner rather than later. We’re not here to fight them anyway. - I reasoned.
- Yeah, I’d hate for Kalim to get worse. Especially in this cold. Are you sure you will be able to reach the camp by yourselves? - asked Roland.
- Of course. - said Narima.
Kalim gestured he’ll be fine. After a short rest, the two of them turned back, while the rest of us went forward. I gave Narima few potions to help them regain energy and a Healing Potion just in case.
- Keep the fire burning. We’ll be back down before you know it. - Roland saw them off on a positive note.
- Will they be ok? - Eve wondered.
- Yeah, they should be fine. - I said.
- I hope so. Narima is so nice. - she added.
The weather became colder and the terrain harder to walk. At first the snow was up to our ankles, but it became deeper and deeper until we had trouble moving forward. Nobody expected to see such harsh environment. Despite the freezing cold and the difficulty to travel, all of us had positive attitudes and we kept moving forward.
White, sparkling snow, trees covered in frost, were only few of the little things that made our travel a little more pleasant. Since it was the first time for everyone to see, and feel, the snow, the mood couldn’t be more cheerful.
- Look at that tree. The sun rays shine so beautifully on the frozen branches. - exclaimed Eve.
- It’s really pretty. - added Meera.
- Hey look. The snow melts in my hands. - said Inri.
- Yeah, but it’s really cold. Hihi. - added Eve.
- Hey, lets focus on our quest. We didn’t come-
- Now, now Roland. - Sebastian interrupted him. - Why don’t you let them relax a little? It is freezing enough as it is.
- Yeah. It might not be so peaceful for long. - added Horrace.
- I know, but... - Roland scratched his frost bitten beard.
- Don’t be such a mood killer. I guess I need to teach you a lesson on how to relax. - I made a snowball as I spoke.
- ‘Swoosh!’ - I threw it at him and... - ‘Bam!’ - it hit his shoulder.
- What? - he was surprised at what happened. - Hah, nice try. But I didn’t even feel a thing.
- Hah. Did you think I wanted to take you down with a snowball? - ‘Swoosh! Bam!’ - another one hit his belly. - Hehe. You clearly didn’t participate in a snowball fight before.
Of course they didn’t. Doh...
- Snowball fight? What’s the point? - Roland frowned.
- The point? Ghm... How about - ‘Swoosh! Bach!’ - the third one hit his head and blew his hat away. - Hahaha! Just for fun.
- Now you’ve done it boy. - Roland picked up a handful of snow and tried to make a big snowball.
- And what an ‘old man’ like you will do? You can’t hit me with that. - I grinned.
- We shall see about that. Ha-
- ‘Bam!’ - his throw was interrupted by another snowball hitting his hands.
- Wha... Who? - he looked around.
- Hey, don’t leave me out of this. - Horrace was proud his first throw hit the target.
- Not you too! - Roland didn’t know who to focus on.
- ‘Boom!’ - another snowball hit his back.
- Sebastian? All three of you? Fine! I’ll take you all on! - ‘Swoosh!’ - he threw a snowbal at Horrace, but missed.
- Haha. TC was right. You are an old man. - Horrace laughed.
- ‘Bam!’ - and got hit with a snowball at the back of his head.
- What? - he turned around and...
- ‘Boom!’ - another snowball hit his chest.
- Hihi. Don’t think you will get away for attacking my Master. - Meera had another snowball ready.
- Haha. She got you Horrace. - Sebastian laughed.
- Aren’t you forgetting something? - Inri was right behind him.
- Huh? - he was about to turn around.
- ‘Badoom!’- she smashed a huge, almost watermelon size, snowball on his head.
- Waaa! - he lost his balance and fell down.
- Haha! That’s right ladies. Get them! - Roland was finally in a snow battling mood.
- Ha! - ‘Swoosh!’ - Rlani threw a snowball at her still lying Master.
- Hey, wait! You should be on my side! - he tried to defend by throwing some snow back at her.
- Ahaha. Stop! - Rlani ran to a safe distance.
Haha. This is so fun to watch. Everyone was a little down after Kalim and Narima left. Hopefully this will lighten the mood going forward. Huh?
- ‘Swoosh!’ - a snowball flew right past me.
- Oh no. I missed. - Eve was disappointed.
- Let me show you how its done Eve. - I picked up some snow.
- ‘Swoosh! Bam!’ -
- Ahh! - I hit her behind at the moment she bent to pick up more snow.
- Hehehe. TC – one, Eve – zero. - I grinned.
- No fair! Haa! - she threw another snowball at me.
- Oops. - I leaned to the side to avoid it. - Eve is still zero.
- Aghh... - she was slightly upset.
Others were having a full on snowball fight and were having lots of fun.
- Hey! - Eve shouted. - Can someone help me please? I can’t hit TC!
- Hey! That’s cheating! - I protested.
- Hihi. - she stuck her tongue out.
- I’ll help you Eve. I have a score to settle with your Master. - Meera was the first one to respond.
- That’s right. TC is the one who started it all in the first place. - said Roland.
- He can’t escape all of us at once. - added Horrace.
- My, my. The enemy of enemy is my friend. - Sebastian commented. - It doesn’t really apply here, but I prefer to be on the majority side.
- Woah, woah. Hold on a minute. - I was backing away.
All of them had snowballs ready and were closing in. I knew I won’t be able to evade all of them at once.
- Come on Eve. You can’t be against me on this one. - I tried to persuade her.
- But I am... Master. This is to show you how much I love you. - her face couldn’t be more evil.
Hah. I’m done for...
- ‘Step. Bump’ - I bumped into a tree with my back.
- Huh? - I looked up.
- He has nowhere to run. Surround him! - Roland shouted.
Hehe. Don’t think you can get me that easy. This will be fun.
I waited few more seconds until all of them were under the tree and...
- Got you! Haa! - ‘Boom!’ - I turned and smashed my fist into the tree.
- Huh? Aagh... - they barely had any time to react.
The huge tree, with it’s wide branches, was all covered in snow. And like an avalanche, after my hit, it all came down in one swoop.
- Nooo! - some of them tried to run away.
But there was so much snow, they were burred up to their waists and up in it. And since I was close to its trunk I barely got anything on me.
- Phew... hehe. - I grinned. - TC – seven plus one. The rest of you – sub-zero.
- Booo... - Eve booed.
She was sitting in the snow up to her shoulders. With her red cheeks and puffed lips, Eve looked so charming.
- Don’t feel bad Eve. It was a good plan. But the tree was on my side. - I was happy about the lucky turn of events.
- Humph... no fair. I thought I will get you this time. - Eve was sad.
Oh, but you did get me beautiful.
-‘Chmuck!’ - I kissed her on a cheek.
- Aaah... - and my sins were forgiven.
- Hahaha! - Roland laughed. - That’s the most satisfying defeat I have ever had.
- Hihi. That was fun. - added Meera.
Even with the snow up to people’s necks, everyone enjoyed a short snowball fight. With the excitement higher than the tallest tree, we marched forward to find the Frost Giants. Little did we know that our, not so quiet, play time will attract some unwelcome guests.