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Rated: E · Book · Other · #1811445
A boy finds a tunnel under his bed filled with all sorts of strange creatures
#797718 added January 27, 2015 at 1:09am
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Chapter 3
Somewhere around the middle of the night I was woken up by a now rather familiar crying noise. I slowly opened my eyes and became aware of a rather heavy item on my chest. The wyrm was heavier than it looked.

'What is it?'

The wyrm made a happy coo and crawled off of me.

'Did you make something else?'

I wasn't likely to get out of this until I had looked at it. Letti was the same way when she was'well I guess she was still like that. I rolled out of bed, the wyrm sent up s quick breath of flame that ensured that I didn't step on him. I pulled on the boots that I kept beside my bed and crawled under it after him. It didn't take many steps before I almost ran face first into his latest creation. A strangely curled and spiraled glass pillar in a variety of shades reaching from the floor to the ceiling. I head a strange almost gagging noise followed by some slurping then a fizzling sound that led to a sudden burst of light on one of the outcroppings of the pillar. I assume the liquid was some kind of spit and there was some wolf hair being rapidly consumed by the fire the wyrm had lit. But it was an effective system. I still had some wicks in my pocket. I pulled one out and gently put it in the liquid before letting it touch the flame already started. The wolf hair, which was floating on top of the liquid wasn't doing a good job of surviving the heat but the proper wick I had put in it might last as long as the liquid did. The wyrm seemed impressed and sat perched the way he was to light it in the first place staring at it with an expression of equal wonder and pride. I gave his head a scratch again and made a show of yawning and stretching before telling him. 'I'm going to go back to sleep now' despite my suspicion that he couldn't understand that much of what I was saying. He was like a dog or small child. A dog or small child that could breathe fire, kill a wolf or make glass at a moment's notice. Yeah that was a great comparison.He hummed at me again and I stumbled back up to my bed. Thankfully the covers were still warm enough to allow me to get to sleep a bit more quickly.


The goats were much happier to be able to get out that their regular time. I watched them from the rock I had perched myself on in the middle of the flock. The younger ones were skipping and kicking up their feet, the older ones were munching their grass like it was about to disappear at a moment's notice, which, I smiled in reflection, they actually caused to happen. But while they gorged themselves they happily wagged their upright tails. I could hear some slight noise from the village when the goats weren't making any noise. I assumed it was probably some fanfare drummed up by the delegation of the Southers before they set out. Then I heard an unfamiliar rustling noise. I pulled out my javelin. Starving wolves didn't have much for constraints when it came to attacking the flock it seemed and since I had a rather large number of nannies that were going to be having their kids in not too much longer I wasn't all that keen on the idea of it possibly knocking one of them off. I continued to listen finally pinpointing the location source of the noise, I drew back my arm, and the moment the predator showed itself I would be ready for it.

'Whoa, hold, stop, don't throw it, I'll come out!'

Well a human voice is better than a wolf's appearance any day. 'Are you crazy? You could have gotten yourself killed.'

'I noticed,' the boy stood up, he was about eight years older than me, quite a bit taller as well of course and with the rather distinctive clothing of a Souther. 'Do you always raise a weapon first and ask questions later?'

I waited on my rock as he made his way toward me, 'We've been having some problems with wolves lately and since the nannies are going to kid soon, you can understand why I wouldn't want to take too many chances.'

'I suppose so, still it is rather unnerving to have someone aiming a spear at you when you thought you were well hidden.'

'Hiding works better in silence, which brings up another question. What were you doing there? Granted there isn't really anything out here to be spied on but generally we approach each other in broad daylight so as not to startle anyone be it man or beast.'

'Well I was'' he was interrupted by Lyle, our big billy that stays with the nannies butting him firmly in the backside. I used my crook to nudge the goat away before offering the young man a hand up onto my rock.

'That's where the not startling the beasts comes in handy anyway you were saying, I thought the entire delegation was supposed to be heading out to continue over the mountain today.'
'Yes we are, but I wanted to get a break from them, we've been traveling for almost two months. You would not believe how boring it gets traveling with these people, never mind having to live in the same castle as them. At least there I have a garden or something I can escape to.'
I let one of my eyebrows raise up for a moment before bringing it back under control. 'Well I guess they did say it was people of importance. Otherwise I thought it was still more common place for people in the South Lands to live in houses.'

The man went pale.

I smiled at him, 'did I just say something I shouldn't have?'

He looked over his shoulder and around us, which gave me a good chance to re-orientate myself with what the goats were doing.

'Can you keep a secret?'

Let's see, there is a tunnel under my bed where I keep a wyrm that is now longer than my arm who makes glass sculptures and wakes me up in the middle of the night for the purpose of showing them off. 'Yes.'

He moved a bit closer to me on the rock. 'My name is Cornelius and I'm the prince of Utridor, or what you on the mountain call the South lands. We're going over the mountain on a diplomatic recognisance mission.'

'Is there some need for that?'

'Apparently yes, but they won't tell me what it is.'

'Well that's a fine way to run a country.'

'I know, most of the councillors are older than my grandfather and they pay no attention whatsoever to the new innovations that are happening in our kingdom. They seem to take great pride out of making it extremely difficult for inventors to test and market their discoveries. I'm hoping that when I get to be king I can change a lot of these things. I met one man who has this brilliant idea for a post that gets oil pumped up from the bottom so it can stay lite for the entire night and beyond before more fuel is needed. And there are some that have learned how to put water into a repeating system so they can make a mill where there aren't any rivers. Something like that would be great for our inland farmers. But none of it is being utilised by the kingdom because the old men don't want anything to change.' He sighed, 'I'm sorry I shouldn't be burdening you with this.' He smiled weakly, 'you probably don't even know what I'm talking about.'

I smiled at him, 'don't be like the old men you're talking about, don't assume I'm ignorant. We sometimes see new innovations from the people of the North and South lands, mostly traders on their way over. The one I saw most recently was colored glass.'

He looked at me ion a rather bored way, 'What possible use could that serve?'

'It looks very pretty.'

'Something that looks pretty is not necessarily good for the economy.'

'I think they would argue that if you don't have something pretty you don't have much purpose for the economy.'

He looked at me like he didn't know what to say. I smiled. One thing about being the main village on the trade route was that you got to hear, in abundance, the two kingdoms arguments for and against each other. I had heard this particular one a lot. At first different members of our village tried to take sides and then at the picnic villages would argue with other villages over who they agreed with. Finally about five years ago, one of the elders from the village closest to the summit pointed out that neither kingdom was right. That started the brawl again only to leave everyone in a confused heap when he went on to point out that neither was wrong either. His view point was that each society had something of value that the other was more or less ignoring, but that were not mutually exclusive. He got everyone thinking. It took a couple of years before everyone came to understand what he was talking about but being, as we are, the meeting point of the two kingdoms we found we were benefiting greatly from the meeting of the cultures and their ideas. We learned to make better houses from the Southers, our methods of transportation became more efficient as did our roads. The Northers taught us more about negotiating, and making sculptures and methods to record history. The South taught us weapons, the North taught us how to cast jewelry and decorative items. Yes both had good things to offer. But they were both as pig headed as we could be about whose ideas were better.

And I was now keeping a deadly wyrm as a pet. Maybe I hadn't learned as much as I thought. 'Both your cultures have been valuable to us, and there is still more to learn, maybe all you need is to sit down and actually talk with each other.'

'It's not like we haven't offered.'

'Have they?'

He was silent. I would be lying if I didn't express some slight joy at being able to use simple logic to dumbstruck someone so much older than me. 'So how long are you going to avoid your company?'
'For as long as I can. Who told you all this?'

Credit where it is due, 'one of the elders of a village further up the mountain. He is well respected for his wisdom and thinking about it, his ideas make a lot more sense than some of the crazy things we hear from everyone else.'

'No wonder most of our trading with the North kingdom is done by trading to you, then trading back once you've traded with the North.'

'I think that's missing the point.'

'Keeps all of you busy and prosperous doesn't it.'

'Can't argue with that,' I slid off the rock there were a couple of nannies getting awfully close to the forest and I didn't want them to go out of sight.

'Do you stay out here all day?'

The goats saw me coming and moved back in with the flock, I continued to stand there for good measure. 'Yup, all day in the winter and when summer comes I take the whole flock up the mountain to give the vegetation some time to recover. You probably shouldn't be out here too long though, it's probably very frustrating for your company to be trying to find you.'

'Getting tired of me already?'

I smiled, 'You're likely to get very bored very quickly. There isn't much going on out here except watching for predators and making sure the goats don't get themselves in trouble.'

Cornelius moved himself a little further up on the rock as Lyle came over to stare at him, 'I don't think this one needs any help.' I couldn't help laughing. At first Cornelius didn't seem very impressed with my show of mirth but it seemed to loosen him up a bit until Lyle climbed onto the rock to stare him directly in the eyes. I let him squirm for a moment before hooking Lyle with my crook and pulling him off the rock to allow our visitor some space to breathe.

'So do you enjoy making them worry or is it just a hobby you've picked up.'

He smiled, 'I don't need a lecture from you but if it will make them feel better I could say I was chased out of a field be a goatherd with a spear.'

'You could, that would probably also cause more trouble than it is worth.'

'No doubt on that front. You sure I can't just sit here with the goats a bit longer?'

'Suit yourself, but I'll warn you that I wasn't kidding about how boring it can get.'

'I'll be the judge of that.' I smiled and let him lounge on the rock. I made my rounds around the flock, found a few nannies that had seen fit to put themselves up into a low tree and every time I took one out another two scrambled up. I'm sure I heard Cornelius chuckling a few times during this process but it was part of the job. I made another round and came back, some of them had fallen asleep and didn't mind so much being removed now but there were still some of the ever stubborn ones. After I convinced all but two of them to get down out of the tree I returned to the rock and opened my satchel.

'What is that?'

'Afternoon meal,' I leaned back and pointed up at the sky, 'You see where the sun is in relation to the peak? Around this time of the year that means the day is about half over.'

'We have clocks in my kingdom.'

'I've seen them. This would correspond to''I thought back to the clock face I had seen the last time the South traders had come through our village, 'two or three your time.'

He bolted upright, 'It's that late!'

I looked at him in a bit of surprise. 'It's a mundane day but it does go quickly, especially when some of the goats decide they are going to be smart.' I looked back over at the offending tree which was now decorated with some five or six goats. I turned my attention back to my bag. 'I don't have a lot in here since I wasn't expecting company, but in our village the first and last meal of the day tend to be the heaviest anyway. This is only a snack.' I extracted a couple of rolls and a small round of goat cheese. 'Would you like some?'

'What is that?'

It was my turn to look at him in disbelief, 'are you trying to tell me you've never seen goat cheese before?'

'We don't have goats, we have bison, cattle, sheep but not goats.'

I continued to stare at him.

'It isn't that strange, the only time I've ever seen goats is close to the mountain.'

'What about cheese?'

'Well,' he seemed to be thinking hard, 'we get to eat cheeses at the palace but they are usually square and have holes in them.'

I pulled out the blunt knife I kept in my satchel for the purpose of cutting the cheese. I cut of a wedge and peeled off the rind, Lyle was standing, as he always did at my lunch time, at my shoulder and I let him consume the rind. I then cut a slit in the top of the roll and forced the piece if cheese inside followed by another. I offered this to Cornelius. He hesitated but then took it and I proceeded to doctor up my own portion.

'Our cheese is a lot firmer than this and a lot sharper tasting too. This is''

He seemed at a loss for descriptive words so I offered up a few that I had heard our cheese monger use quite frequently for this type, 'Creamy, smooth, sweet and slightly buttery, delicate but still somehow robust''I paused to observe Cornelius staring at me again. 'We make our own cheeses and this is one of the more popular types. Unfortunately it doesn't last as long as the other ones where he puts brine into so it gets made fresh every week or so. We all know how to do it from our homes of course, but we have a deal that is we supply the milk he will supply us with cheese. I'm one of very few people that can walk into his shop, pick something and walk out without any further ceremony.' I took a bite of my portion. 'We do roast goat meat as well, but the cheese is a good way to get full and have lots of energy without thinning the flock so to speak.'

'So you can make this yourself?'

'With time yes, but, when there is someone else doing it, there isn't much point in everyone supplying their own.'

'What about trading? I thought trading was a big part of your financial structure.'

I finished chewing and swallowed what I had put in my mouth while Cornelius took his own bite, 'In the spring when the nannies have their kids there is generally a lot of excess milk, then more of the men and women get together and they make a lot of cheese, lots of types and flavors, different ages and preparations'well, that is when most of the cheese we trade is made. Since the goats continue to milk almost the year round it makes the most sense to store up for trade and make smaller batches the rest of the time to feed ourselves.'

'It's good,' he finally admitted, 'I could see getting used to eating this.'

'Stop by the cheese mongers before you go, I think he's got some extra.'

'I'll do that.' We sat in silence eating our bread and cheese, while listening to the goats happily bleating and making all their goat noises. 'What's your name?'

'Ed.'

'Ed, that's it? Just Ed?'

'It doesn't need to be more than that, everyone knows who I am here.'

'You don't have as many people as what we do. We usually have to identify a person by both their name and their father's.'

'In that case I am Edmund son of Garth.'

Cornelius seemed to be weighing the name, 'respectable, almost regal but not something that would scare people off.'

'I'm glad you approve.'

He chuckled, 'I don't think it is in a person's place to judge someone else by their name.'

'And yet it is obviously done.' He nodded and looked at the sky, 'I guess I really shouldn't keep them waiting much longer.'

'I'm surprised they haven't come out this far to look for you.'

'They probably decided to back track in case I wanted to go home. They aren't the brightest people in the kingdom I'm sorry to say.'

'You can find your way back alright?'

'Should be able to,' he slid off the rock, 'It isn't all that far from here.' I waited on the rock as he started to move off. He turned and looked back at me, 'when do you take the goats in?'

I looked up at the sky, 'there's still quite a bit of daylight left, I'll be out here for a while yet.'

He nodded, 'well Ed, maybe I'll spend another afternoon with you on our way back.'

I smiled and waved as he continued off. Now about those goats in the tree, just as my gaze went to them I saw them all leaping from the tree and the others were also giving it a wide berth. I readied my javelin and approached. I lowered it when I caught sight of the silver grey long body dangling from one of the branches with a mound of goat hair in its mouth. I walked up and lifted the wyrm from the branches, 'you are one crazy beast.' Once I put him on the ground the goats seemed to have overcome some of their surprise and were now standing in a circle around him sniffing at the air intently. I watched as the wyrm attempted to spin the hair in its coils. I tried not to laugh at his efforts. Nut I couldn't hold back when there was a wyrm sitting in front of me dutifully inspecting a crumpled wad of goat hair that he was evidently proud of. I gently picked it up and rolled it into a proper rope wick. I then gently grasped a lose part of one of the nearby nannies coats and slowly rolled it while pulling down, I then put the two make shift wicks together and offered them to the wyrm. He looked at them moved over to another nanny and did his best to copy me. I still had to help him roll it. He began to tap the end of his tail then tried again. This time he employed a similar strategy to what I had seen him pull when he was try to get meat off the wolf. He grasped the wool and began to roll his body. I watched with some measure of pride as a long wick formed. 'Just don't make all the goats naked before it's time to sheer them.' The wyrm picked up his prizes and moved off through the goats toward the forest. I followed him for a while so I could see where he went it. It was a different hole alright this one was quite a bit smaller than the other. It must have been further up the tunnel from where I usually went. I would find out tonight.

The tunnel looked almost magical. The wyrm had managed to coat one of the walls with glass and put a bunch of platforms on it for the make shift oil candles he made. I guess based on how the original one in the pillar was doing that the liquid didn't really burn up. I blew out may candle after a while of walking when I noticed that it was pointless due to the amount of light the wyrm had brought down here. Pools of glass, pillars, parts of walls coated in it. All the little dancing lights of the flame. It was much brighter further on. I looked at the spots on the walls that weren't covered in glass it seemed to be all the places where I had marked with my chalk. I kept walking, calmly, it was very relaxing inside the tunnel now. I was'I looked back at the wall. I was past the point I had been at before. I pulled the chalk from my pocket it was probably still in my best interest to mark where I had been, I had no way of knowing how extensively the glass making had gone on and it I relied only on that I could get myself into an awful lot of trouble with getting lost very quickly. I rounded a bit of a bend in the tunnel. And halted.

In front of me was not one, not two but nearly twelve wyrms of varying degrees of length, mostly longer than my friend, curling and blowing fire on an assembling pillar of glass while another small company further on was coating the wall. No wonder I hadn't noticed any sand on the floor this time. The largest of them looked up and made a grumbling sound at me. This could be a problem. It moved its body closer to me, the front part of it raised high enough from the ground to look me in the eyes. If it chose to give me a fire bath that would be the end of it. Then I heard a more familiar cry, I relaxed. My little wyrm friend, dwarfed by the one in front of me, slithered himself up to me, curled around my leg and launched into such a long stream of odd noises that I thought it very probable that the wyrms had their own language. It seemed to have an effect since the tension in the atmosphere died almost immediately. The largest wyrm seemed a little skeptical still but it sniffed at me and then resumed assistance with the next pillar. This one seemed to be a bit taller than the other ones. My wyrm uncurled himself cooed at me and seemed to rather happily be leading me on further. I made a quick stop at a place at the wall that was not glass coated and made an arrow pointing the way back. There didn't look to be many places to do so again further on. The cave was much nicer in the light. I could now also see the many small branches that were along the bottom of the cave walls. One of these must have been the one that my wyrm friend had used to get out to the pasture. We walked past the workers and the deeper darkness evidenced beyond the light of their flame looked a bit more forbearing. I looked back in time to see some of them gently tearing the wicks to make short ones, they must have discovered that they didn't need much for wicks, just a little bit of something for the fire to hold on to while it burns. My Wyrm was humming. I couldn't help thinking that with the rate they were going there wasn't going to be much for walls for me to mark. But maybe the floor would work too if they had all the sand moved off. I watched the wyrm dragging his body along in front of me. On second thought that might not work so well, the wyrms in their journeys back and forth were likely to rub off my signs. But if I could convince the wyrm to leave some sand for a sign that would be good too. I knelt down and shaped some of the floor sand into a rough arrow pointing the way back. The head of my wyrm intruded on my vision. I moved away so he could flame it and then, just for fun, I shaped another pile into the shape of a goat. The wyrm had started to watch me making this new shaped pile and had forgotten to play in the other glass leaving a very nice arrow on the floor to point me back home. I stood and he flamed the goat. He then coiled himself at my feet before stretching up as much as he could and tried to look down on it. Realising that he might not be seeing the full effect I griped his sides and lifted him. It took a moment before he made a happy sound when he realized what the shape was. He then seemed to want down immediately. I watched him thrash around in the sand a little further down the tunnel.

The other wyrms were watching now and making odd noises and tilting their heads. The wyrm came back to me made some noises at them and let me lift him up. He looked at what he had done, blew some fire in the air and started growling. Then they all started making noises, some of the wyrms started cooing in a way that sounded like laughter. My wyrm did not seem to like this very much and started to growl at them. I wonder what he was trying to make. I bent down and started moving the sand, his tail appeared in front of my eyes in an odd angle across my vision. Taking this as a hint I make a clean line of sand in that direction. The angle changed and the wyrm began to make chirping noises. We continued making lines. I'm not sure when the other wyrms stopped making their noises, I was rather engulfed in what I was doing. When he finally made a satisfied noise I could see what he had done. It was a self-portrait but it was missing a few things. I picked up another small handful of sand and put in where his eyes were and since we were a decent distance from the goat shape I made some fire coming out of his mouth. I picked him up. He made a noise that I assume was approving of my changes and proceeded to blow fire on it again. We let the glass cool. Before I knew what was happening I was being swarmed by wyrms trying to get a better look. I looked to my side and saw the big wyrm having the same problem. He looked over at me. We stared at each other for a moment before he grunted and continued to look at the picture. All the wyrms were once again making noise, but based on the very proud of himself look that was being displayed by my friend, it must have been much more positive than what had been being said before. Then they all started moving, they branched out and all started thrashing in the sand. There were a couple that were trying to throw sand on the wall in a pattern. It wasn't working of course but I had to admire the effort. The big one seemed to be trying as well, but in a way that wouldn't look like he was doing anything. Of course this had a disadvantage as well since it seemed that most of the little ones would come by and steal his sand. Then there was the problem, which I shared with him, of being climbed upon by many heavy long bodies trying to get a gage on how well their handiwork was coming along. My wyrm was trying to make one on a more modest scale but the only way he seemed to keep his sand was by making angry noises and blowing puffs of fire at the other ones. They would then growl at him and he would growl back. I thought back to the clay sculptures that I helped Letti make. She always got so frustrated when what she was trying to make didn't turn out the way she wanted of course it was a long time before she was able to make anything that would stand up and I mostly helped her make ropes so she could almost 'draw' with the lines. I wonder if it would work with the glass. I looked over at the pillars they had made. They did have the look of something Letti might have squeezed together. That boded well, especially with how the glass reacted when it was just cooling. I approached my little wyrm friend, who was just chasing off another of the wyrms and started gathering my own pile. My friend looked back at me, seemed to realise that I couldn't finish my project by myself and swept as much of his pile into mine as he could. I smiled at him as he took to scaring the other wyrms off on my behalf. I think I did confuse him a bit when I had made a good sized mound and then leaned back. He looked at the pile then at me and then back again. He made a slightly confused noise. I chuckled slightly and lifted him into my lap in front of me. I took gently hold of his tail and gestured for him to flame the pile. He gave me the confused expression for a moment longer before engulfing the collection of dust in flame. It did take a bit of persuading before he let me shape the glass with the freedom I needed and I had to get him to blow fire on it a couple times to keep it malleable. The other wyrms were very good about keeping their distance and not getting in the way. I'm not sure how long we were at it but by the time my hand was starting to get sore because of all the fine movements, we had produced a very nice standing glass figure of a goat.

They then started bringing me piles of dirt. We then made a flower followed by a hare. At that point I became more aware of how tired I was getting. I extracted myself from the small pile of wyrms that had formed on top of me. They all started to make unhappy noises at me then. I smiled and told them I would be back the next night. I'm still not sure that they understand me when I am talking but it was worth a shot. As I started to walk away I heard my wyrm starting to make more noises at them. I smiled as I imagined that he was scolding them for crying. The more I saw of them the more childlike they became. My room was very dark when I got back. The moon wasn't getting through the clouds and there was no light from anywhere else. Once I was out of the hole, there did get to be a tiny bit of refracted light from deeper into the tunnel. I laid dawn and made an attempt to go to sleep. I tossed and turned for a while. Eventually I decided I was hungry and as quietly as I could manage I made my way out to the kitchen to see what I could find. Some biscuits and cheese offered themselves up for consumption closely followed by a pickle or two. I sat down at the table and looked out the window watching the stars in the few places the clouds offered a glimpse of them. It must have been snowing. I got up and moved closer to the window. Sure enough the ground was sparkling with the newly fallen snow. It was very peaceful. Almost unearthly quiet, but I liked it. My feeling of tiredness was revived and I made my way back to my room. This would very likely be our last snow fall of the year. The goats were very close to having their kids and the snow never lasted past that.

The only thing I find more annoying than going to bed and being unable to sleep regardless of what you do is going to sleep and feeling like you didn't sleep at all when you wake up. The last night being in character to the latter of the two should give me some justification for telling Letti to go back to sleep when I heard her familiar cooing and humming as she sat on my chest to wake me up.

'But it's already morning,' she informed me matter-of-factly without an ounce of ceremony. 'Daddy is wondering why you are in bed so late.'

I rubbed my head, 'I had some trouble getting to sleep last night.'

'It was very cold last night. I thought I was going to freeze.' She paused in her narrative and looked around my room. I took the opportunity to yawn. 'Your room is very warm though.'

I made an attempt to get up that was of course ineffectual, 'Letti, I need you to get off of me now.
Have you had breakfast yet?'

I felt her weight move off of me. 'Yes, but I'll still happily eat yours.'

'Oh no, you won't!'

Letti erupted into giggling as she ran from my room. Not wanting to risk her bluffing, I quickly tossed off the blanket and pulled on a pair of pants. I appeared in the kitchen to the sight of my sister smiling her head off while my mother held my plate above her head trying in vain to explain to my sister that I was still growing and needed to eat as well. I sat down and thanked her.

'You might want to eat quickly, I swear you kids are starting to eat more and more each day.'

'Ah, Ed, good to see you up.'

'Did you want to take the nannies this morning, dad?'

He sat down across from me, I kept eating, 'No you can take them I'm not worried. You know what to do if they state early anyway. Well, Letti, what is that you have there?'

'A goat.'

'May I see it please?'

She walked over and placed it in his lap. He flicked a finger across the surface, 'This is very nice all be it a bit fragile. Where did you get this? I don't remember seeing it before.'

'From Ed's room.'

I froze then looked up at the item in question in surprise. Sure enough there was the blue glass goat me and my wyrm friend had made the night before. My eyebrows narrowed, I didn't remember bringing it back to my room. In fact I was sure that I had left it in the tunnel.

'Ed, can you explain this?'

I continued to look at it, 'not really.' The wyrm didn't have any limbs and it would have been awfully cumbersome to try to carry something of that weight and size in a mouth.

'Are you sure? Where did you get it?'

'From a friend.' I still wasn't sure what to answer. How did it get in my room?

My mom made an understanding noise, 'Ah he must have gotten it from that Souther group.'

My father nodded enthusiastically, 'of course. That one boy was out all day in a field with the goats and I figured that he was talking about you when he came back.' He got up from the table, 'by the way Ed, the cheese maker was very happy with how much he sold to them after your talk with the other boy. He said to tell you to come by and see him before you go out to the field for the day.' With that he got up and put on his coat and gloves. 'It's a good bit cold out there today. Make sure you wear something warm and take the scarf your mom made for you last year.'
I nodded.

'I might have to make him another one, the purpose of that one was so he could wrap it around his body several times.'

'I haven't grown that much.'

My dad laughed, 'Just wait Ed, when your growth spurt comes it will be in full force. Letti, that is a very nice piece and I'm sure Ed doesn't want you to break something that was a present from a friend. Make sure you ask permission and be very gently and when he says it is time to put it away; listen to him.'

Letti nodded as she put it on the table so she could look at it more, 'yes daddy.'


I wasn't sure how worried I was about something that was made of solid glass but I told her to be careful for her own safety and went back to my room to finish getting ready. I picked up my satchel. It seemed a bit heavier than usual. Opening the top I was greeted with the sight of the glass flower and the rabbit. I took them to the small windowsill I had on the side of my room to the left of my bed. It still seemed heavy but I didn't want to waste too much of the day. I found the very long scarf my mother had made for me in the trunk at the end of my bed and wrapped it a couple of times around my body before applying my coat over top of it. I waved good bye to my mother, gave my sister and extra admonishment to be good and walked out the door. I would have to back track a bit further into the village to visit the cheesemonger. That also meant that I would be a bit late getting the goats out, they wouldn't be too pleased with that under ordinary circumstances but in the case of the weather we were experiencing they probably wouldn't mind so much.

I had been right about last night, the ground was covered in an even blanket of snow. There were a number of tracks leading out from the various houses to the goat folds, mostly the house hold member designated to get the goat milk for the day. That was where my dad had been. It wasn't a thick layer of snow by any means. It barely came up the sides of my feet. I looked up. The sun was out. At least half of the snow would be gone by the end of the day. I paused in my musings as I was about to enter my destination.

I ducked my head into the building, 'Derik?'

'If you're getting in here boy, you'd best get in. That weather is only suitable for goats.'
I smiled as I went in, it was common knowledge around the village that Derick had a tendency to wander around in the same type of clothing despite any kind of weather including wind storms and torrents of rain. And while it was cool enough outside to want something warm if you were going to be out of an extended period it was by no means any colder than any other day at this time of year might be. Ah early spring on the mountain.

'You've done me some good, boy, I almost can't believe how much those Southers were willing to pay me to get a supply of cheese for on their journey after the young man expressed the wish to have some.'

'All I did was give him a bit,' I smiled at him, he liked to be flattered even if you didn't mean it, thankfully for my own conscience, I did. 'Your cheese won him over by itself.'

'Half of cheese eating is the company you have at the time.'

'And half of having a good time in any company of people or party is cheese.'

He grinned from ear to ear and pulled a bundle out from under his counter. 'I've made this up especially for you.'

'I don't need any fancy cheeses, even the simplest thing you make is''

'Tut-tut, I'm asking for your help with this my boy,' he put a hand to his chest and applied a stricken expression to his face, 'If I'm going to be famous at the base of the mountain for my cheese, I need to have a variety of things I can impress them with that they won't likely find other places.' His eyes resumed their usual business gleam as he leaned forward on the counter toward me. 'I've wrapped each different cheese in a different color of cloth, and have written down with me a list of what each one is. I want you to try each one, not all on the same day mind you, and tell me which ones you really like and want to eat more of, which ones are good but seem to be missing something and if there are any that you don't care for.'

I smiled at him before forcing a surprised and shocked expression onto my face, 'you mean it is possible not to care for a type of cheese?'

I could hear his helpers in the back giggling now.

'Perish the thought, but I have to include that option otherwise the good gods of luck might do something funny to one of them.'

'Well I'll do it with the best of my ability. I'll report often.'

'Good plan, it will be fresher in your mind which ones you like that way.'

I turned to go out, but then smiled over my shoulder at him, 'well that too, but if you're excited about making new kinds then I might be more likely to stumble into some more cheese if I come see you frequently.' I ducked out the door but not before hearing him remark to whoever it was that was behind him that I was a 'man after his own heart'. I didn't think it would be the best idea to be walking around with such a load of cheese over the course of several days so I opted to stop by my room to put them with my other personal food stores. I paused mid-way putting in my new bundle after I had removed a couple of morsels. I had a small abundance of dried and smoked meat, and dry flat bread that I sometimes took with me into the field. In the summer when I would take the goats up the mountain my mother would make me a large pile of them, along with quite a bit of cheese and again the dried and smoked meat since I would often be gone for weeks at a time. Why hadn't I just gotten up and come to this store when I was hungry last night? I laughed slightly at myself. I guess old habits don't like giving up and it just felt so much better to go out to a kitchen to eat a snack. I did a last check that I had everything, grabbed my crook and javelin from where they lived by the entrance to our house and made my way up the path to the folds.
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