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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Contest Entry · #1583680
Must use "leather" and a type of food and animal
The effort of the last several hours was beginning to take its toll on the fleeing man. Toes caught exposed roots and rocks. Unseen branches assaulted his face and arms. The moon’s light through the forest leaves created otherworldly shadows and did little to show obstacles on the ground.

He began to play a wishing game to pass the time. Imagining what he would wish for given the proverbial three wishes. First would be some soft leather boots to caress his poor beaten feet. No! A horse to carry him over the miles. Even better, he imagined a winged mount to fly him over this landscape, a straight route home! With that important task accomplished he decided to give in to his growling stomach. His second wish would be ordering up a feast, the only difficulty, deciding the order of the servings. He smiled as he imagined a bottomless goblet of wine at his side, and then closed his eyes as he tried to decide on the main course. His mind’s eye saw something turning on the kitchen spit, but his natural eyes missed the branch in his path.

He was completely unbalanced as his foot caught the branch and he went hurtling forward. Instinct brought his hands out to cushion his fall. His bad hand hit the ground just after his knee found a rock embedded in the ground. Pain exploded in his mind as a constant barrage of lightning. He rolled slowly to his back trying to simultaneously cradle his hand and knee.

He seemed to spin around and round as he squeezed his eyes shut against the sensations. He wasn't aware if he had cried out or even screamed, nor did he care at the moment. The pain of his knee outshone everything else after the initial shock wore off. He worried if he had broken something else or if he could even walk.

His breathing finally slowed, the pain subsided in his knee. His hand had gone back to its constant ache and he wondered if it would ever be pain free again. He laughed out loud as his mind reminded him he could use his third wish to heal himself. But there would be no magical healing here or now.

With a quick prayer to any god who might hear he tried to move his knee and was relieved to be able to do so with no limit nor any pain. Getting up with only one hand was always difficult, then he saw the branch he had tripped over.

He reached out and picked it up, held it up into the pale light. Almost as tall as he was and twice the width of his thumb, it would make a good weapon, better than anything else he had tripped over this night. And a good walking stick too, he thought.

His bad hand on the ground and good left hand wrapped half way up the staff, he levered himself off the ground. A couple of tentative steps proved his knee able to continue. A quick look around to orient himself showed something he had missed moments ago.

Fruit trees surrounded him, and looking back the way he had come there seemed to be many more. Looking forward, into the west and the setting moon, was a clearing and a ridge line, stars twinkling over the end of the climb. He would have missed this oasis of fruit if he hadn't tripped. He remembered his mother telling him about dark clouds and silver linings, now he had a weapon and something to fill his belly.

A couple of steps brought him to the nearest tree and the lowest hanging fruit. He cradled the staff and picked the hand sized fruit with his good hand. Moonlight gleamed off his prize but hid its true color. He brought it to his nose and inhaled its scent, eliciting an answering growl from his empty stomach. Not an apple or pear, but it was familiar. His wife would know, she had always delighted in finding new flowers and foods in the markets and telling him their origins.

His smiled was only interrupted by the fruit entering his mouth.

Word Count 698/1844 total
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