Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Laufey's Treasure - Chapter 6

The following is my new short story series entitled "Laufey's Treasure." It is an action adventure series featuring minor characters from my upcoming novel in their own lighthearted journey. I hope you enjoy, it and be sure to catch my previous short story featured in the same universe called "The Adventures of Reynard Olfsson." 

Chapter 6

Between Håfo and Gaun was a stretch of rolling hills that weaved through the pass. Thousands of years ago the ice had carved the hills, pulverizing stone and ore with the might of the slow and steady glacier flow.  But the ice was gone now, replaced by grassy slopes where the muskox came down from the mountains to feed in the spring. It would not last for long. Laufey had grown used to the eternal winters. Many of the travelers that came to his village told stories of lands far to the south, places where it never snowed. He knew this of course. He knew about the world and how large it was. But to see it, that was another matter. He had never seen a desert before, but he knew that they must be a wonderful sight to behold. 

They made good time, landing the crest of the upper fjell above Håfo as the sun began to fade. Laufey looked back into the valley, covered in sweat and heaved a sigh of exhaustion. After 10 hours they had made it, and he felt oddly proud of himself for doing so. In the distance he saw Geira come around the bend, holding in her arms a pile of dry firewood. "She's rather industrious" he thought. Turning around, he saw the others lying down on the earth, beaten with fatigue. Ragna and Amma sat next to each other counting their supplies. Next to them Anke was schooling the triplets in a game of cards. 

"So, if one of you looses, do all of you feel shameful?" Anke said, smiling. 

"No," Kaun said. "Everyone thinks that."

"It's not true," Kaupi chimed in. "I think that we only feel each other's pain."

"No we don't," Keli said, shoving Kaupi. "Don't be an idiot!" 

Kaun chuckled to himself, nodding. He placed the next card down. It was a flush, and with it the collective moan of the other players emerged. 

"Now, who's shameful?" Kaun said. "I should be locked away for how I abuse you all."

Laufey smiled, amused by their fun and looked back at Giera. She had been watching him, for she turned her face away at the very last moment. When she neared him he folded his arms, and tried to appear impressed. 

"Find everything alright?" He said. 

"No," she answered defiantly, "We should have never come up here."

Laufey felt his shoulder brush up against hers for a moment. Turning back, he followed beside her, keeping in step. She made no attempt to hurry. 

"Are you talking about this shadow man? Is that why we shouldn't have come?" Geira didn't say anything, but her silence was uncomfortable. "Or are you just paranoid that something bad will happen?"

Giera stopped. She turned to him with hard eyes and gritted her teeth together. He nearly expected her to drop the firewood, but below them the ground was still damp from the rain they had a few weeks prior. She knew better, even when she was mad.

"I'm here because I don't want anyone to get hurt. I know that you, your sis' and mine are mostly grownups, but I still have to take care of the others that don't know what they are doing. To you this is just another stupid adventure, but to me I'm trying to take care of them. So sod off."

"Hey," Laufey cut in, catching her arm, "I care about these kids, honest. Why are you so serious all the time? Why can't you have fun. That some kid died while you are kilometers away lying sick in a bed is not your fault."

"Well, if you say so." she replied sarcastically. Giera pulled her arm away from Laufey indignantly. "Thanks for that..." Laufey didn't say any more. He walked up with her next to the pit where the fire would be. Limply, Giera let the bushel of sticks fall out of her arms and stepped aside. Watching her saunter over to his sister and Amma, Laufey frowned.

"What the hell was that about?" he thought. 

Extending his hand towards the fire, his construct interface cycled on and ignited the firewood. 

"Did anyone bring meat?" he said looking at the rest of them. 

"I did!" Amma said, enthused. "Father packed this whole thing for us." She glanced at Geira, who covertly smiled momentarily. Laufey occasionally wondered if the two amicably shared a sibling's friendship. Giera didn't seem one to bicker with her brothers and sisters, but she kept to herself. In fact he wasn't entirely certain that he had ever seen them speak to each other in public. As the meat was passed over into Geira's hands and into a skillet held by Anke, Keli's head perked up.

"Oh! What kind is it?" He said. 

Fumbling with the empty package, Amma found a piece of script and read aloud.

"Venison and berries. That does sound lovely!" 

"Stir them around then," Ragna said in a hearty voice. "We're hungry."

"I know some good stories," Kaupi said looking among them, hopefully. Next to him Kaun shook his head.

"No," he said with finality. "Nope. My stories are the best."

"Ugh," Ragna sighed. "Are you two really doing this?" 

"Oh, don't mind them," Anke said reaching behind him to put away the cards. "They do this all the time at school." 

"Maybe we should have ourselves a little game," Laufey said. He looked over the whole group and held his hand over the fire. In the flickering light he stood over the fire and tossed in a piece of firewood.

"Tell us a story, and the winner gets that sausage." The others looked back at him surprised. His hand hovered over the skillet as the meat sizzled. When a fleck of grease leaped up out of the pan, Laufey pulled his hand away wincing.

"Fuaaaaaah! Damn my eyes..."

An uproar of laughter rose from the fire pit, as Laufey eyed them spitefully. Geira leaned up against Ragna in tears and Amma blushed, covering her mouth. Kaun sat vigilantly eying the sausage, paying no mind to the laughter. When they had finished mocking him, Laufey held his hands close to the fire for warmth, this time a little back from the flame. Anke patted him on the shoulder, patronizingly.

"Hey," he said calmly, "Don't let it go to you head." 

"Oh, shut it," Laufey retorted. 

They sat there for a while in relative silence, meditatively gazing into the fire. As they did this Geira stood up, cycling on her construct bracelet, and stood before them awkwardly.

"Well," she said looking up into the hard light projection, "I think I'll take the first try."

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