The carts were packed by noon. It was then that we said our final goodbyes to our broken and mossy camp. The sun lazed in the sky with the clouds and the sounds of nature had awoken into the day. We put the blankets on top of the overhead rails of the cart to block out some of the sunlight. our groups were still divided in the same way that we had arrived. In our cart was Tobih, Ragnvaldr, Angel, and I. The rest were in the cart pulled by Kau.
I was leaned against Ragnvaldr’s shoulder, dozing off again in the shade. Tobih was sitting with one leg crossed on the other, his arms folded and his eyes closed, obviously also dozing a bit. Ragnvaldr was going through his arrows, repairing the ones that didn’t look perfect enough to him. Every so often I could hear the clink of an arrow dropped down onto the wooden bench beside him.
Slightly ahead of our cart was the rest of the guild’s cart. I could hear their playful conversations but I couldn’t exactly make out what was being said. The sound of their laughter helped to lull me into my dozing state. I felt at peace, if only for this moment.
I felt a foot slide against me, and opened my eyes to see Tobih, though his eyes were still closed, smiling. He was awake after all. I playfully kicked his shoe with mine in return. It was the returning blow that would begin a small, playful fight where we kicked each other’s shoes.
“Don’t make me turn this cart around!” Angel called out from the front. Tobih and I snickered and ceased our war on each other’s feet. Ragnvaldr, who had stopped working on his arrows with all the scuffling pretended to work on another arrow before kicking at both of our feet. The war continued, only this time, it was between three teams. Angel sighed loudly and turned around to look at us. As she did, we pretended that we weren’t doing anything at all. Tobih and I pretended to be dozing and Ragnvaldr was once again repairing an arrow.
“Ugh, I know what you’re doing back there.” She groaned and looked forward again, “Just you wait, I’ll show you all who’s best at footwars when we get to our next camp.”
“Someone’s losing a foot.” I jokingly whispered to the companions sitting by me. Angel heard and faced back towards me. The look she gave implied that it would be me. I smiled and waved at her as if nothing was wrong between us.
There was a lot wrong between us, really, but I was happier knowing that we could get along. She was my friend, after all. I loved her. I’d be lost without her. She’s important to me. Now, though, she scared me. I was afraid of her. I didn’t want to be. I wanted everything to be normal again.
Ragnvaldr’s hand moved to my shoulder. The weight of it was calming and the upsetting thoughts disappeared. I looked up at him and smiled. He set down the arrow that was in his hands and took my hand in his.
“This is no time to worry, Claire,” He told me, speaking softly. I nodded and gave his hand a squeeze.
Tobih was now turned to the side, holding a blanket lining the top of the cart back with his hand. He watched the scenery as we passed through a valley between a large boulder and the mountains. He seemed so at peace at this very moment.
“Are you sure you didn’t want to ride with the others?” I questioned him with the thought that had been on my mind since we had set off.
“They’re fine without me.” Tobih responded without looking my way. He sighed and tacked on, “Besides, I’d much rather be here with you.” I turned my head, trying to hide the fact that his sweet response had caught me a little off guard.
“You haven’t seen them in some time, though. Just thought that maybe before we went on a life threatening journey into Orr, you might want to spend time with them.”
He looked like he had no intention of replying to me right away. His eyes focused on the bright land outside. No more than two minutes later, though, the corners of his mouth had raised, “That’s the reason I want to spend it here. I’ll have my opportunities to stay with them after the journey. We’ll even be camping together again tonight…But right now… It’s just us. I like that. All four of us are going into Orr, alone. It’s all of us who need to spend our time together.”
I knew what he was trying to convey at least, “I like it when it’s just us, too.” I felt Ragnvaldr nod in agreeance. It wasn’t that we disliked the rest of the guild, either. In the end, though, we were the ones going on the most difficult journey alone. If these were our last days together that we could actually act silly and be ourselves without the worry of dying, I wanted to spend it with the people I cared most about, the people who were going into this situation with me. There was no guarantee that any of us would survive the dead lands ahead of us.
Tullia jumped into the back of our cart suddenly, “We’re passing near some Nightmare Court camps just ahead. Tell Angel to- ”
“I can hear you just fine. I’m not deaf.” Angel shouted.
Tullia looked away and then right back to us, “Just stick to us, we’ll be avoiding them completely.” As quickly as she had appeared, she was gone again.
I could hear our driver scoff before spouting out her usual complaints, “I could take them on. It’d make the world a better place, not having those plants around. I don’t see why we can’t just take care of them and go about our business then. Slaughter them all and they’ll never mess with us again.”
She was clearly bluffing… in a way. I knew she wouldn’t mind the battle. I had no doubts that she would win it, but she knew that brawn came before being a brute. Angel talked big, as always, but she almost always thought before taking action…. almost.
“If I wanted to see the others, would you come with me?” Tobih thought aloud.
“So you do want to be with them.” I stared him down with my reply.
“Neither way is wrong,” he shook his head, “I’m not saying I do. I’m not saying I don’t, but would you come with me?”
“If you asked me to.” I responded.