The newest chapter of my book, introducing a female lead.
| “The rooster hasn't even crowed yet,” Ivy laughed to herself. She lay on the straw mattress, staring at the details of the wooden ceiling and following the natural patterns it created. With her arm extended, she traced a larger crack in the wood, feeling the grain of the tree against her skin. Although everyone else would still be asleep for a few more hours, Ivy found that she could not rest. Her mind raced with thoughts, and her heart couldn't help but beat to the same wild pace.
“This is silly,” the girl whispered, deciding there was no reason to simply stare at the ceiling if sleep was going to continue to allude her. Using her arm to prop herself up, Ivy sat up and perched on the end of her bed with her legs dangling off the edge. She looked across the room at her sleeping siblings who were all enjoying the last few hours of the night. She envied them for the slumber that they could enjoy. From the bed beneath Ivy's came the gentle sound of Thomas softly snoring. He was probably having a magnificent dream full of adventure and excitement.
Forgoing the ladder, Ivy jumped from her bed to the wooden floor. As she hit the boards, the girl bent her knees to absorb the impact, dropping herself low to the ground. She surveyed the room to see if anyone had been awoken by the noise. Avery turned in his sleep, muttering something barely audible. Otherwise, all was as it should be, and Ivy breathed a sigh of relief before turning around to look at her youngest brother.
Thomas had curled himself into a small ball and was holding his legs with his hands. Like Ivy, Thomas had inherited their mother's hair, which was so brown it was almost black. Although he had been sickly when he was first born, Thomas appeared much stronger now. His skin had grown tanner from attempting to help in the fields every day, and his cheeks had taken on a rosy color. Ivy grinned as she brushed his hair from his forehead. It pleased her to see him so happy and healthy. Soon he would be large enough to take the top bunk if he wanted it, but for now their parents still worried that he would fall off of the higher bed in his sleep.
Avoiding the creaky floorboards, Ivy made her way over to a heavy, wooden door that blocked the way to the hallway. The girl did her best to keep the hinges from squeaking, but they still protested loudly like a child being woken in the middle of the night. Not wanting to see if anyone had been disturbed by the noise, Ivy scurried into the hall and shut the door with a fluid motion.
The maiden could not see in the hall, but she knew the placement of every pelt and horn mounted on the walls. Through the room she walked until she had found the massive wooden block that her family called a front-door. After taking a few moments to undo the iron bolts, she pushed on the familiar bark and stepped out into the night.
The air was crisp with the ambiance of fall. It was a slightly cold but dry feel that Ivy could best describe as refreshing, and there was a familiar scent in the air that she couldn't quite identify. The girl closed her eyes and stood there for a moment, reveling in the evening's pleasantries, like a statue in the moonlight. Opening her eyes again, Ivy walked to the left around the house, following a path of stones that her family had placed many years ago. Once she had reached the other side of her family's cabin, Ivy inched forward on the stone toward the edge of an impressive cliff. With the help of the moonlight, the maiden was able to see glimpses of the sweeping valley below. Although she could not see it in the darkness, Ivy knew that far below, the Briney River was flowing sleepily with the night.
Making her way to the memorized features in the edges of the cliff, Ivy scrambled down the side of the mountain where it was flattest, allowing her to navigate over to a sizable, leveled part of the rock. Hidden in the cliff-face was a small cave with enough room to comfortably sit a few people. Ivy walked into the opening in the rock, turned, and sat down, facing the valley. Several of her family's pelts were placed in a pile to the side for such an occasion as this one. The maiden chose one of the larger buck skins and wrapped it around herself, enjoying its protection from the gusts of mountain winds. She sat on the stone, looking out into the night for a few minutes before she heard the sound of someone making their way towards her.
A figure appeared in the night from the same area that Ivy had come. “I thought I'd find you here,” the figure said with a voice that Ivy recognized immediately.
“Sorry, Mother,” she replied. “I didn't mean to wake you. I just couldn't sleep.”
“Oh, you're fine!” the mother replied. She continued speaking as she sat down next to Ivy. “I'm actually very happy you did. I wanted to spend more time with you before you left anyway!”
Ivy laughed and rolled her eyes as her mother wrapped a pelt around herself. “It's not like I'm moving to the other side of the mountains!”
“No! But soon you'll be a wife and not too long after that you'll be a mother!” The woman wiped away a tear. “And then you'll forget about your dear, old mother.”
“Don't be silly!” Ivy pushed her mother playfully, attempting to relax her. “I'm only an afternoon's ride away. How about this?” she smiled. “I'll come see you when I can until I am with child, and then you'll visit me whenever you git the time.”
Ivy's mother sniffled in a tear. “I'd like that.” She wrapped her arm around her daughter and brought her close into a deep, loving hug. “I'm gonna miss moments like this. After you leave, I'll be the only woman in the house.”
“Well,” Ivy began. “One day, you'll get really old, and you'll need someone to take care a you. Since I'm the oldest, it's gonna be me.” The maiden turned to her mother and smiled, “I'll wipe the drool off your face for you.”
The mother pushed her daughter away and laughed, “Ya know, maybe I am ready for you to go. Aldin can have you for all I care.”
The two laughed together for a minute, staring out into the night. They continued to observe what they could with what little light the moon offered, enjoying the tranquility of the night together. Ivy leaned to the right and placed her head onto her mother's lap, knowing that this would be one of the last times the pair could spend time together so casually. After placing another pelt on her daughter, the mother began running her fingers through the young girl's hair, gently removing any knots she could find. Soon Ivy felt herself drifting towards sleep and allowed the gentle blanket of fatigue to flow over her.
The sound of rooster's crowing woke Ivy from her slumber. She blinked lazily and let out a groggy grunt. The sun had just begun to peek over the most distant of the mountains that Ivy could make out on the horizon. She sat up from her mother's lap, let out a guttural yawn, and stretched her arms out over her head.
“I'm glad you're awake!” Ivy's mother laughed. The woman stood up and began stretching in different positions. “I didn't want to wake you up, but my back was hurting!”
“Oh, I'm sorry,” Ivy said as she wiped the nap's grime from her eyes. “You could've woken me up!”
“No, no, no, I enjoyed being able to hold you,” she looked at her daughter. “Does Aldin know you have the cutest snore when you sleep?”
“I do not!” Ivy yelled.
“You do a little bit.” The mother giggled to herself as Ivy felt her cheeks reddening. At the edge of the world, rays of light danced from beyond the mountains, preparing to bring morning to the land and its inhabitants.
The maiden arched her back into a fantastic stretch before standing up and speaking, “We should go make breakfast.”
“A good plan,” the woman replied. “I'll go to the creek and fill a bucket with water. You make the eggs. Yours are better 'n mine.”
With the plan set, the pair made their way back to the house and parted at the front door. Ivy hefted open the massive slab of wood and made her way down the hallway into the kitchen, the largest room of the house. Since they couldn't afford glass, the kitchen windows were crude, circular holes in the brick. This meant that when it rained Ivy and her family shoved buckets into the holes to keep the water out. To the right within the spacious kitchen, a colossal banquet table sat, surrounded by a plethora of mismatched chairs and stools. Hanging on the walls around the table various pelts of deer and elk served as decorations or blankets in the winter. To the left was a large wooden cabinet for storing food, a counter-space for preparing meals, and a wood-burning stove that had been built into the wall. During the winter the family would keep a massive fire running here to warm the house, but during these warmer months such precautions were not necessary.
Ivy walked over to the stove and crouched down to get a look into the firebox. Someone, probably Ivy's father, had already prepared a pile of wood and kindling. After pulling open the iron grate that kept the logs from rolling out, the maiden collected a long block of flint and a knife from a small shelf to her right. With a strong, polished movement of her arm, Ivy struck the steel against the flint, shooting sparks over the dried kindling. The twigs caught fire in several places, quickly beginning to burn with glowing bugs of flame that ate everything they passed over. To help the flames spread, Ivy blew several puffs of air into the firebox before she became light-headed and needed a moment to collect herself.
After placing the fire-starting tools back on the shelf, Ivy waited a few moments to ensure that the blaze wouldn't die out. She rose, taking her time to bend back and forth as she did so, needing to stretch her legs and knees after crouching for so long. She stepped a pace to the right of the stove to the wooden food pantry. Most of the family's food was held in a natural cave under the house, while the cabinet's purpose was to contain cooking supplies and enough food for a few days. Using a small knob that occurred naturally in the wood, Ivy opened the pantry to see what her options were for today's breakfast.
On the bottom shelf, bundles of different types of greens, spinach, kale, arugula, mustard greens, and two heads of cabbage sat, ready to be eaten. This rack was the base for the family's lunches most days as it allowed for a large variety of options and customization. The next shelf held an assortment of tomatoes, apples, asparagus, corn, onions, potatoes, carrots, and other vegetation, which helped to make almost any meal more interesting. Ivy poked one of the tomatoes, enjoying the soft but firm feeling of the fruit's flesh against her finger. The succeeding ledge was Ivy's favorite due to its contents of various salted meats and jerkies in addition to a few loaves of bread from Pierson's bakery in town. Directly in front of Ivy's face, the second rack from the top held a few bowls of eggs and several small, wooden boxes containing bacon grease, butter, or Ivy's father's signature cheddar that he aged under the house. The uppermost shelf contained the cooking supplies, which were composed mainly of iron pots and pans along with various knives, a few mixing bowls, and several large, wooden serving utensils.
Starting with the top shelf, Ivy grabbed two of the wooden bowls and her favorite of the serving spoons. She placed these onto the counter-top along with one of the bowls of eggs. Humming to herself, Ivy began breaking the eggs into one of the mixing bowls and placing the shells into the other. She continued to do so until she had ten yellow blobs floating leisurely in the messy transparent goo. Next, Ivy removed both of the iron skillets from the top shelf as well as a skinny-bladed knife. After placing both of the pans onto the iron bars above the firebox, Ivy selected three of the boxes from the eye-level shelf.
After opening and inspecting the contents of all three containers, Ivy used her knife to slice and scoop out a generous portion of grease, which she unceremoniously flung into the closest of the pans. Once the maiden had repeated the process for the next skillet, she removed a block of her father's cheese from its case, careful to touch it in as few places as possible. With expert precision, Ivy made small, quick cuts into the cheddar, showering the bowl of raw eggs with orange goodness. After she felt the proportions were perfect, the chef used her knife to break apart the yolks and mix the cheese throughout the mixture. At this point the grease was beginning to sizzle, leading Ivy to grab the handles of the pans and make circular motions with both arms. Ivy had learned at a young age the necessity of spreading the bacon grease evenly to create a thin layer on the skillets' surfaces and making them significantly easier to clean later.
Into the farther of the pans, Ivy poured her mixture of eggs and cheese, enjoying the sizzling noises the eggs made as they came into contact with the heat of the metal. The firebox was blazing quite nicely now and had nearly reached the perfect temperature. Into the other skillet, Ivy cracked the remaining six eggs, careful to keep the yolks from breaking as she dropped them onto the warm iron. From the last of the opened bins on the counter-space, the maiden selected a box filled with a yellowish white substance. Using the blade of the knife, the girl cut off six thin slices of the butter, placing one onto each of the fried eggs. Ivy had picked up this practice after talking to a skilled traveling chef who had come through with a trade caravan. 'Everything tastes better with butter,' he had said, and Ivy had confirmed this fact through her own dishes. “If only you didn't take so long to make,” Ivy lamented.
Using the wooden spoon, Ivy stirred the back skillet religiously, preventing the mixture from sitting on any one side for too long. As Ivy flipped the fried eggs for the second time, she perceived the sounds of the front door opening and footfalls through the hall. “You'll never guess what I found,” a voice proclaimed.
Ivy turned to see her mother holding a bucket with both arms. Within the wooden pail, water sloshed back and forth against the walls, however there seemed to be other objects within “Are those raspberries?” Ivy ask with obvious excitement in her voice.
“They are!” the woman grinned. “They must be some of the first of the season. Figured you could take them on your journey later. They'll make a good snack.”
“You spoil me,” Ivy laughed. “Thank you, Mother. Would you do the bread? I have my hands full right now.”
“Of course, Sweetie.”
As the two finished preparing the meal, a hairy beast of a man walked into the kitchen. Years of working on the farm and hunting in the woods had left Ivy's father hardened and rippling with muscles. “I thought I smelled someone cooking breakfast,” he chuckled as he walked into the room. “And if it isn't my two favorite ladies!”
“Good morning, Dear,” the wife responded. “I hope you're hungry!”
“Morning, Father!” Ivy giggled as he gave her a wiry, bearded kiss.
Moving over to the pantry the man opened the door and spoke again. “You know, I believe it's time we ate this smoked bacon. It's not every day that your daughter starts her journey to become a woman, and I can't think of a better reason to celebrate.”
“I wouldn't argue with that,” Avery announced, walking into the kitchen. He was followed by the other four boys of the family. They were each wiping grime from their eyes and fighting brutal yawns. Several other supportive grunts escaped from the brothers as they made their way to various seats around the table.
A sudden pressure on her leg caused Ivy to look down. An exhausted-looking Thomas was clutching her leg and had his face pressed against her skirt. “Good morning, love,” the girl grinned at her sleepy brother. A muffled reply came in return. From the farther of the two pans, the cook scooped up a small bite of eggs into her wooden serving spoon and blew on it gently. “Open your mouth,” she said to the boy. Thomas obeyed, moving his head to the side and holding out his tongue. He was rewarded with a mouthful of breakfast.
The boy gave a satisfied moan and opened his brown eyes, looking up. “Thank you, Sis!”
“You're welcome,” Ivy beamed back. “Now go help set the table.” Thomas complied, setting off to assist his siblings. The sounds of setting up plates, passing utensils, and scooting chairs came from behind Ivy's back. Flipping the eggs again and seeing the perfectly cooked yolks, Ivy announced to the family, “The eggs are ready if y'all are.”
“We're ready, Lass,” the father replied.
With both pans in hand, Ivy turned around and made her way over to the table. The heavy pans weighed against her arms, but Ivy flexed to hold them straight. It would be a minor tragedy if she were to accidentally drop her hard work. Around the table, Ivy's family sat, adjusting their chairs to sit closer to the table, obviously hungry and eager to begin the meal. “Here we are!” Ivy proclaimed, setting the two pans into the middle of the table, between a plate of sliced bread and another filled with bacon.
Hungry exclamations came from around the table as Ivy sat down at the closest seat between her mother and Thomas. She smiled as she realized that her family had saved her favorite chair for her. Ivy's father began to speak, “There is enough bacon for everyone to get one slice, except Ivy.” The girl's face contorted into a look of confusion. “She can have two.” The man winked at his daughter. “Today is a special day for her, and she's going to need her strength.” He paused, “Now let us give thanks,” Ivy's father spoke as he grabbed the hands of the two boys sitting by him.
Ivy grabbed the two outstretched hands that were reaching for her own. While holding their hands, Ivy studied the differences between her mother's older, callused fingers and Thomas' tiny, younger hand that had not yet left the smoothness of childhood. The members of the family closed their eyes, each of them engaging in a personal silent prayer. Soon, Ivy's father began to speak, “We give thanks to you, Atala for this year's plentiful harvest and providing for our family throughout the years. Thank you for this plentiful meal today, and we pray that you would continue to allow our family to thrive. We also pray that you would watch over Ivy as she begins her journey.” Ivy opened her eyes, preparing to eat before her father started to speak again, although with a more somber tone. Ivy closed her eyes again, embarrassed that she had not realized that the prayer was not yet finished, “We also thank you, Mortano for allowing us to keep our beloved Thomas and pray that you would continue to give him many more years with us.”
“Amen,” the family members agreed. Ivy noticed her mother wipe away a subtle tear.
“Now, let's eat!” the father laughed.
Ivy's stomach growled as she gladly accepted the invitation. She seized two slices of bread and placed them onto her plate before scooping out a generous spoonful of the scrambled eggs and smearing it onto one of the slices of bread. She took a considerable bite of her creation, and her lips curled into a smile as her tongue found the flavors of the cheddar. Similar satisfied grins crossed the faces of the others around the table.
“I'm going to miss your cooking,” Avery chuckled. “You'll need to come back every once in a while to feed us.”
“I'm sure you're all welcome to come visit me and Aldin. We'll need lots of help with the new house, and we can repay you with food!” Ivy grinned.
“Let us know if that boy ever mistreats you,” Ivy's father spoke, donning his gruff, intimidating voice. “We'll show him that you are well-protected.” Affirmations went around the table, and Thomas slammed a fist into his other hand in the most intimidating way he could muster. Ivy giggled at the show of bravery.
“I'm sure Aldin will treat Ivy good,” Ivy's mother attempted to soften the somewhat hostile atmosphere. “Here you are, Ivy,” the mother spoke as she plopped a fried egg onto Ivy's unused slice of bread. “Dear, when will the traders come through town again?”
Ivy's father was in the middle of finishing a bite of food, forcing him to swallow the mouthful before responding. “The Veritas caravan last came through on a plump moon, and the moon is feasting so it must be within the next few days.” As Ivy listened, she used a knife to cut open the yolk of her fried egg, spilling golden liquid onto the bread like lava flowing out of a volcano. She grinned as she appreciated her work. “We should begin getting supply bundles ready and collecting the surplus from this harvest so that we're ready when they come through. The father turned and looked toward Ivy. “Is there anything you want us to look for? We should get you some sort of wedding present.”
Everyone looked at the girl expectantly. She chewed on a particularly delicious bite of bread, digesting the question before answering. “Well I've never tried honey before, and a priestess said it was good for fertility.”
Nods went around the table and Thomas spoke, “What's fertility?”
Ivy giggled, and the rest of her siblings looked at each other, not knowing how to answer the question before their mother spoke, “Do you remember how Meredith got big before she gave us Lucky?”
Thomas nodded in recognition. “She gave us milk!”
“Yes,” the mother affirmed his memory. “Well, people also grow big before they have children. Small boys and girls grow inside of mothers before they come out, just like you grew big inside of me.”
The boy's eyes grew big. “I was inside you?!”
The family laughed together before the mother continued, “You were, and one day Ivy will also have a child inside of her.”
Ivy continued for her mother, “And fertility is how good you can grow children. Some women are better at it than others.”
“Oh!” Thomas proclaimed, announcing that he understood.
Ivy's father placed his elbows onto the table, rested his chin on his fists, and leaned forward, “We can get you honey, Love. But I'm certain that you will be plenty fertile.” He chewed a piece of bacon fat between sentences. “Speaking of which, are you ready for your trip to the temple?”
“I am.” Ivy nodded. “I have a pack waiting in the bedroom.”
Ivy's father looked serious as he did when discussing important matters. “Don't forget to check the traps while you're on your way.”
A frown crossed Ivy's face. She had entirely forgotten about the sacrifice. “What do I do if they're all empty?”
The father hesitated for a moment before answering. “They've been set for a few days so I doubt that will happen, but if it does,” he looked into his daughter's eyes. “Come get me, and I'll make sure we find you something.” The father's reassurance helped Ivy to feel more comfortable. Thomas tugged at Ivy's sleeve, causing her to look and see that the bucket of water had made its way around the table to her. She accepted the pail from Thomas and took a long draught, vaguely detecting the taste of raspberries from when they had ridden in the pail with the water earlier. As the plate of bacon made its way to Ivy, her father spoke again, “And what seeds are you bringing for Atala?”
“I found pumpkin seeds that have begun to sprout in the Cave,” she spoke with a sense of pride as she took two slices of bacon for herself. “I thought it was a good omen.”
“It is,” the mother nodded. “I brought sprouted apple seeds to the temple before I married your father, and look how much y'all have grown.” She put an arm around Ivy and hugged her. Oh, I'm going to miss you, Dear.”
“Me too!” Thomas proclaimed.
“Stop this!” Ivy laughed. “I'm not dying! You'll all still see me.” Ivy's father guffawed and the other boys seemed amused. They spent the rest of the meal playfully discussing the future and how many children Ivy would have as well as whom Avery could marry, being the next oldest.
Soon, all the food had been eaten, and Ivy's father pushed his chair back. “Ivy, Margaret, thank you for preparing breakfast.” He addressed the boys, “It's time for us to start the day.”
With the end of the breakfast, the family arose and scattered to begin their chores. Ivy rose as well and began her job of organizing the used cook-ware as well as pushing the chairs into a semblance of order. After all the dishes were stacked and ready to be washed in the creek, Ivy moved to collect the plates when her mother placed a hand onto the daughter's. “You have a long day ahead. Let me take care of these. You should get to your journey.” As she spoke, the mother handed Ivy a small wooden box that Ivy assumed was filled with the morning's raspberries.
“Thank you, Mother,” Ivy said as she gave her mother a long hug. “I'll be back soon.”
“Safe travels!” the mother called out as Ivy turned on her heel and walked out of the kitchen and into the hallway. She soon found herself in the siblings' room. Sitting on one of the lower bunks, Ivy's father was brushing his beard with one hand while he sifted through her leather pack with the other.
The man looked up as Ivy entered the room, “You seem like you've got everything you need here. Just don't forget to check the traps and make sure to stop if Wriggley needs rest.”
“I will, Father,” she confirmed.
“And if anything seems strange on the road, come get me.”
Ivy looked at her father for a moment before coming to a realization, “Are you worried about me?”
“I always worry about you,” he laughed. “You're my little girl, and it's my job to protect you. I have half a mind to go with you to the temple.”
“You know you can't do that,” she spoke, appreciative of her father's candor. “I have to make this journey alone.”
“I know, Love.” The man held her hand in his own. “Be careful out there. Keep your wits about you and watch out for bears.” As he finished speaking, the man kissed his daughter's hand before standing and wrapping his arms around her in a hug. “Come back safe,” he said before offering her a strap from the satchel.
Ivy accepted the pack, placed the box of raspberries inside, and kissed her father's forehead. “Thank you, Father. Don't worry too much about me. I'll be home soon.”
“You'd better,” he growled.
Having said their goodbyes, Ivy walked out of the room, sauntered down the hall, and pushed the massive front door open to the outside world. It was a beautiful fall day, and leaves were beginning to clutter the paths. Immediately in front of the house, the main road stretched out as far as Ivy could see on either side. Since this was the only cleared path through the mountains, all traders ended up traveling through the area, making it the perfect place to reside if you wanted to cater to a vagabond's needs. Opposite of the house and across the road, the family's fields and grazing pastures waved back and forth with the morning's gentle breeze. Past the farmland, the Ferani Woods loomed over, thick with tall trees, lush moss, and all manner of bushes, shrubs, and ferns. Walking to the right of the house, Ivy made her way to the family's barn, a stout building composed of pine planks that were beginning to rot in places. Although the stable had been a proud structure when it was first built some eight years ago, now it looked decayed and decrepit. The wooden planks were black in sections and had suffered obvious damage from insects, but despite its rugged appearance, the shack still kept the rain out decently well and protected the cows and horses from wild animal attacks.
The wide swinging doors were already open when Ivy arrived at the stable. On either side of the broad room, four box stalls divided the animals with a wide hallway between to help navigate the creatures to the grazing areas when they needed to feed. On the left side of the room, three cows were happily munching on hay, provided by Ivy's brothers, Mendel, Gordon, and an eager-looking Thomas. Ivy patted Meredith, the family's oldest cow, on the nose as she enjoyed the simple breakfast. The animal was beginning to get older now, but she could give birth to another calf the following summer if Atala willed it. In the stall immediately next to Meredith's, Lucky, a brown and whited spotted calf, was romping around, eager to begin the day. She was still young and had only just stopped drinking Meredith's milk. Ivy tried not to get attached to animals, a mistake she'd made when she was younger, but Lucky was so likeable that it made the prospect very difficult. In the farthest stall, a young, unnamed bull was chewing cud and looking at the girl. Ivy averted her gaze, not wanting to look the creature in the eyes. In the coming days, Ivy's father would need to take the bull to the town butcher, which caused the girl to feel uneasy around the animal.
“Hey, Ivy!” Mendel popped up by her side and gave her a toothy grin. “Wriggley is all prepared to go. He's been fed and watered, and he's bursting with energy.”
Ivy looked over at the brown colt, who was lightly pacing back and forth. Given the preparations they'd been making, the horse sensed that he would be going on an adventure and was obviously excited. “Thank you, boys,” Ivy said to her brothers before placing a hand on Wriggley's mane. “Calm down. We'll leave soon.” She stroked the horse's hair lightly for a few seconds before she took control of the horse's reins and swung open the stall door to study Mendel and Gordon's work. The boys had made short work of saddling up the colt for the road, and everything appeared to be prepared. After Ivy perused the saddlebags to be certain that they contained all of the supplies the horse would require, she led the colt out of the stall, where it moved excitedly back and forth, ready to begin their adventure.
“Bye, Sis!” Thomas exclaimed as he grabbed onto her leg for a big hug. Ivy scratched his back before patting him on the head.
“I'll be back soon,” she replied. The siblings all said their goodbyes, and Ivy led the horse out of the barn. In the dawn's light Wriggley looked ecstatic, gently pawing at the ground with each of his front hooves. He was certainly living up to his name today. With all of the preparations set, Ivy tightened the straps of her pack on her back and mounted the colt as he gave a satisfied whinny. She directed the horse to the north, and he commenced an eager trot. “Come, Wriggley, let us begin our journey.”