...through luck or a blessing of the gods he managed to out run the bear.
|The morning light gave everything before him a fresh and crisp appearance. Perhaps it was the opportunity to start anew on an untouched island that no one to date had ever knew existed. Perhaps it was a magic in the air that came with this wonderful place. Already reports of strange creatures, odd plants, and extraordinary geological formations had begun to trickle back into the makeshift camp. Pristine was going to be a perfect place to prepare for the arrival of The Order and the new kingdom. However, at this early stage, no settlement had yet been established at the place they all came to call Blossom.
Breaking his small camp and stowing his personal articles in a tough leather backpack, Sheridan Washburn set off for higher ground. Looking about he could already see many small fires burning in the slightly foggy morning. People were making temporary encampments all over this newly found island. It was at once inspiring and beautiful - and yet - Sheridan knew the calm serenity of the place would not last. Settlers would begin vying for positions and placing deeds on ever unturned patch of soil that promised a good harvest.
Sheridan noticed many butchered creatures lying about - their meat and skins torn from their bones, and the carcasses left to rot in the open. How could people be so careless. Everyone knows that leaving a fresh kill in the open attracts even more vicious predators closer to camp. He quickly buried several dead creatures and foraged for some supplies on many of the bodies.
One thing was certain, the grim work proved that this place had plentiful wildlife and abundant plant growth. Tall virgin forests swayed in the breeze, clean brooks cascaded down naturally sloping hills toward the shoreline and sea. Off in the distance, high peaks were covered with the bright glistening crystals of newly fallen snow. Already he had seen giant spiders, brown bear, timber and plains wolves, white tail and mule deer. Sheridan foraged and botanized many familiar species of berries and plants, but also located a few exotic mushrooms and flowers. None of these flora specimen had ever made itself known to him before in his home land.
Approaching a break in the trees, Sheridan climbed a very tall hill which might serve as a good look out. He attempted to survey the immediate area and had to remove a lemon tree for a better view. As the sun rose, Sheridan drew several sketches in his journal of interesting landmarks and features to the north, south, east, and west. These cardinal points would act as points of reference in his later travels.
Sheridan decided to head south into the tundra. Off in the distance a large mound could just barely be made out on the horizon. The cairn in the distance would act as his first way point. If the way was already marked, then perhaps it was well traveled as well. He would use that cairn as a point of reference to continue traveling deeper into the harsh wilderness. However, when he arrived it turned out the cairn was actually a birch wood scorpion stone! Sheridan continued on, skirting the mound while fearing for his life, and passed a birch wood troll mound too!
As late afternoon set in Sheridan became very hungry and opted to kill a pheasant to harvest it's meat for a small meal. Even the wildfowl were larger here. He was able to harvest a good meal off the bird, and stow some cooked meat for later. Sheridan found a good spot to camp for the night - with a tar pit nearby a grove of birch and apple wood trees. But as he began to unload his gear the grove was approached by a huge spider. Sheridan was unable to act fast enough, or evade the creatures attacks and was knocked unconscious by the foul arachnid. Luckily the monster did no more - and moved on in the direction he was headed when Sheridan's appearance interrupted the journey.
Sheridan awoke some time later and searched the area for anything dropped or lost in the struggle with the spider. While he was digging through a stand of tall grasses, a deep and thunderous growl erupted immediately behind him. The thick warm breath of a towering grizzly engulfed him when the goliath bellowed again. Sheridan didn't give it a second thought and tore off running back toward the open tundra, and was summarily chased by the huge bear!
The chase continued for some time, and through luck or a blessing of the gods he managed to out run the bear. But in the blind dash for safety he lost all track of direction and location. Trying to backtrack was useless as danger lay just beyond the stand of trees and hillside he lost the bear behind. Sheridan continued forward in an attempt to loop back by navigating the once distant landmarks on the horizon. If he could figure out where he was now based on objects that had once been on the distant horizon - then he might have a chance to recover his lost articles.
Once again, the ill equipped man was caught off guard by a vicious timber wolf who had watched the whole escapade between Sheridan and the bear. Telling the tale later, Sheridan would say he felt for certain that wolf had been lurking and stalking him for sometime before making it's mind up to pounce and attack. Sheridan did run into a thick stand of trees to avoid being stalked and hunted down by the hungry beast. And it worked once again. As the sun set, Sheridan evaluated his current position as somewhat relatively safe. He bedded down for the night on a make shift branch, leaf, and grass lean-to.
A large storm broke out overnight. The lightning, thunder, and rain delivered quite a severe storm! One thought drove itself home during the cold, wet, sleepless night. "I still have NO SHELTER," were the only words Sheridan could come up with to comfort himself through the night. It was a long night, but a lesson was learned. Sheridan needed shelter soon.
At sun up Sheridan went for his lost compass again. There was a severe fog in place which slowed his progress, but as the fog lifted he noticed a troll was stalking and trailing him. By out running the troll and diving into nearby water. The troll actually walked off after a while, but continued to look back and stare Sheridan down from the hill tops overlooking the small pond.
Sheridan continued on and found settlements named Apple Cove and Port Cyrus. He stayed there to rest and recover from the journey inland from Blossom. A few days into his stay, Sheridan received help from Ricopolo, who joined in the search for the lost compass. Ricopolo held off foes and watched Sheridan's back as we located the tar pit and grove of trees. The missing compass was also found glinting in the bright sunlight under a waving stand of tall grass.
Sheridan explored across the lake too, looking for much needed clay that Ricopolo had been hunting down. And while he was moving along the shoreline, Sheridan located Lakeview, another new settlement. Sheridan took a long walk around the south eastern edge of the lake. From a distance the area did not appear to offer much. But up close there were lots of trees, and clay on shore. He made a note, jotting down descriptions in his journal, and continued on.
Before nightfall Sheridan made it to the village named the "Land of Grummel". On the back side of the desert the forest began to grow again and he located a mine deep down in a little valley. The tight hole of a place was ideal for hunting and to preserve as a hidden mine entrance. Sheridan entered the natural hole near evening and decided to stay there to build up health and stamina for a while.
While making camp he took down three trees and was approached by the deed owner. The owner wanted the trees replaced. Sheridan agreed to do so, but explained he would need a sickle to harvest the sprouts necessary to replace the trees. The next morning the tiny hole saw another visitor named Morna. She was returning to a place called Serenity Cove along the coast - very nearby his current location. Sheridan made a deal with Morna to build her a cart, while building one of his own carts. In exchange for the nails needed to complete both projects. He also explained the agreement with the land owner to replant any trees used, and his dire need of a sickle. Morna eagerly agreed to hand over a newly sharpened sickle when we met at Serenity Cove to deliver the small cart. Sheridan bid Morna farewell, and set to work building three small campfires to ward off danger in the night.
The next morning he awoke in camp at the tip of a guard's blade! Sometime in the night the deed owner had placed Sheridan on a list of settlement enemies that should be killed on sight. Sheridan did not have time to stand around and argue fine details of legally binding agreements, or social etiquette. He simply had to flee! From his viewpoint this minor change in details completely cancelled all plans to replant the trees, build the carts, and make the exchange with Morna.
Sheridan left the hole and headed to the coast, he reached Serenity Cove in a few hours times and found Morna building onto her second story building. She explained it would soon be a complete smithy and bakery combined. Morna understood the brash behavior of her neighboring deed holder. Although she - and her settlement partners - did not care for hos attitude toward community. Morna stated the deal was still on and promptly handed Sheridan a bag full of small nails to begin. As he stepped away in stunned disbelief at the stark contrast in social norms, Morna called out for him to stop. She jogged down to him by the cobblestone path and handed him the sickle too. Sheridan agreed to continue building the carts, and ensured prompt delivery.
Sheridan spent the next several days on the perimeter of the Serenity Cove deed gathering the wood needed to build the carts. He completed the first cart and made the delivery. Promptly completing the second, Sheridan filled the small cart with supplies and moved on. Unfortunately, Serenity Cove was not accepting any new citizens at this time, although he would forever be grateful to them (and especially Morna) for their generosity and hospitality. Sheridan dragged his loaded cart back across the "Land of Grummel", through the barren desert, down to Water's Edge, and on to Lakeview. It was at Lakeview that Sheridan stopped, and made the decision to settle.