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    Maxymiuk's Avatar

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    Default Re: All a dwarf needs - the saga of the Zuntir Clan (DF Community Fort)

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    ************************************


    The ale ran out on the twenty third day.

    Celes scrubbed out the barrel with a few handfuls of snow, and placed it back with the other one, the one Milski cobbled together back when they still expected the snow to let up after a few days. That's where the first batch of booze was going to mature while they finished off what they brought with them.

    They didn't talk about it - what was there to say? They went about their tasks, purposefully ignoring the empty barrels in the corner of the chamber. One could almost say they went out of their way not to look at them.

    Raroy's discovery of undead creatures in the valley provided a much-needed distraction, unwelcome as it was, on top of all their other problems. It took the form of heated debates, as Celes voiced doubt regarding what exactly the carver saw, or whether such things could even exist. Evening meals turned into loud arguments, with Jahjah and Zazit usually taking the cook's side, while Obadiah cited his experiences at other outposts in support of Raroy's testimony.



    Regardless, everyone agreed that it would be a good idea to fortify the encampment. Jahjah, acting under Obadiah's orders, had already turned the slopes of their hollow into sheer walls two weeks earlier, making the camp approachable only from the south. Now the dwarves set to constructing a wall across that approach, and tearing down the temporary workshops beyond this new perimeter - most of them were currently unused, and could be quickly rebuilt if needed.

    The ground Derek had cleared for farmland would find itself far beyond the wall. Temporarily, as Obadiah was quick to assure everyone. There was no question that they'd need crops to survive, but for them to be able to plant safely, a second wall would need to be erected, encompassing a much larger area, and that would have to wait until the stream thawed, creating a natural barrier between the camp and the western part of the valley - just one more reason, aside from thirst, to be impatient for spring to come.

    ***

    "Stream's thawed," Raroy said, walking into the camp. After a a moment of stunned silence, everyone rushed outside - only to be greeted with the familiar expanse of snow and ice. "Not here," the carver added, walking up behind them. "South. Three hours' walking."



    Three hours later Raroy led Milski and Celes - the two who could be spared from the construction work - to where the stream had indeed thawed. It was an eerie sight: here, there was ice hidden under a thick cover of snow, and there, water flowed freely, shimmering merrily in the afternoon sun.

    They dropped to their knees and drank. The water was tooth-achingly cold, and, more importantly, was not alcohol, but as far as quenching thirst went, it was still worlds better than eating snow.

    "Why here and not by the camp?" Milski wanted to know. "It'll be a walk and a half just to get a drink."
    "Beats me," Celes shrugged. "Why don't you ask our know-it-all leader? I bet he'll have an answer for you. It might be a bunch of superstitious nonsense, but he'll have one," she glanced at Raroy, who appeared not to have heard her, despite standing just a few paces away. "Probably something about how there's these water spi-"
    "Shh!"

    Celes gaped at the weaponsmith, momentarily dumbstruck - no one shushed her, especially not in the middle of a sentence. But Milski wasn't even looking at her, his attention absorbed by something in the water. He leaned forward slowly, extending his hand, then suddenly plunged it under the surface, in an arc at the end of which something large, red, and glistening shot out of the stream and landed on the shore.

    "Grab it! Quick!" Milski jumped after the fish that flopped maddly along the ground, trying to get back into the water. He threw himself after the salmon - for it was a salmon, and a rather large specimen - but it slipped out of his hold and jumped in Raroy's direction. Raroy jumped back, flailing madly, her hand, by sheer chance, colliding with the fish and sending it flying back in Milski's direction who, unprepared for such a development, intercepted it with his face. He went down, and the salmon flopped over him, suddenly with only a few feet between it and the freedom of the stream.

    Then Celes brained it with a rock.

    She hit the salmon a couple more times, until it stopped twitching, then calmly picked it up and started walking in the direction of the camp.

    "Hey. Hey!" Milski yelled, in-between spitting out scales. "Where are you going? That's my fish! I caught it!"
    "And I killed it," Celes called over her shoulder. "So I get to eat it."
    "Oh no you don't! Hey! Get back here, you hear?" the weaponsmith got up and ran off after her. "You get back here with my fish!"

    Raroy sighed, and started to follow them, then turned towards the streambank. If she concentrated, she could see hints of silvery bodies slipping through the current. She took out a bolt from the quiver and tested the point thoughtfully, and made a few quick stabbing motions. Then she crouched down and waited.

    ***

    "Today, by my count, is the eleventh day of Slate," Obadiah declared loudly, stopping in the camp's gate. "Let this be known as the day we defeated winter. Let this be known as the first day of spring!"



    "Stream's still frozen," Zazit grunted, shouldering past him with another block of stone meant for the wall. "Get out of the way."
    "But now that the fields are clear of snow, there is no question about the ice melting as well," Obadiah stepped aside with a broad smile on his face. "Soon we'll have water aplenty, right under our noses."
    "I hope you mean booze aplenty," Celes walked up behind them, then turned to call out towards the cavern, "Hey, farmerboy! Time to earn your keep! Get out here and start picking flowers!"

    ***

    In the end, it was three of them that went out searching for plants: Obadiah, because he had a rough idea of where suitable plants would usually grow, Celes, because she handled surface crops in the breweries and had a vague recollection of how they looked, and Derek, because he'd be the one replanting them eventually.

    Ten days later the stream was still frozen, and their collective effort has resulted in a clump of bladelike weed, which turned out useless, and a handful of thorny berries.

    "I can squeeze these into wine," Celes looked at them disdainfully. "But you," she jabbed her finger at Derek, "you get out there and find more, you hear?"

    He nodded and left.


    *******************************************


    FYI, I'm not making Celes out to be such a harpy on purpose. The shenenigans at the stream were purely artistic license, but they were inspired by the fact that when Milski, so proud of catching his first fish, brought it in, cleaned it, and dropped it off in the food stockpile, it instantly got snatched up by Celes, who proceeded to chow down before I had a chance to tell her to cook it. Shame on you, Celes.

    Somewhat amusingly, I had a snowstorm announcement pop up two days before the thaw. So right now everything is becoming white all over again.

    I'm encountering so many veins in my designated quarry, that I'm actually running out of stone. Seriously considering allowing use of raw ores in construction work.
    Last edited by Maxymiuk; 2010-06-20 at 09:03 AM.