My NaNoWriMo story
Three Months Later
Harsh winds rush through slowly dying grass while thinning cattle and their masters keep close eyes to the rolling storm on the horizon. To the east they look into the mountains and to the west they look into the eye of destruction looming ever larger. The cold winds pick up, the masters call out and carefully guide the cattle, it is time to return to camp and to the warmth it promises. Death looms over the land, animals, plants, and men fall to the drought as food and water becomes more and more scarce. The birds still fly and the children still play in the tall, dying grass but unrest grows amongst the high land clans. Some clans war while others move with the sun to lands unknown in the west, the Sparrows on the other hand march to the east, heading for the mountains and whatever may lay beyond it. When confronted by the elders the chief clears his throat and begins to speak, addressing his people and summoning stories of old “When I was a boy,” He starts, many of these people grew up with him, grew up on the same stories and games “my father told me of a land far beyond the pass where the grass is green and the rains fall.” His eyes always scan the crowd before meeting the elders “We will find this promised land.”
“Tis a myth, you fool!” One always shouts, the elders hate deviating from tradition, but the chief is the driving force, even if they do not desire the move he pushes the people toward the east.
“Possibly,” He always acknowledges with a warm reverberating chuckle “But our children deserve what this land cannot promise, do they not?” The elders sigh and shake their heads, unable to argue with him and with the people who seem to be all in agreement with the leader. It is slow going crossing over ruined lands with cattle dying faster then they can travel, every day they make little progress and at night they rest attempting to gain back little energy they have wasted during the day. Finally they reach the mountain pass but Urzoth orders them to rest.
“Are we not strong enough to pass the mountains?” one man demands.
“We are strong enough, but I know not how wide the mountains are, they could be miles or they could end after just one rise. I want us rested for the journey. At dawn we will cross the mountains.” The people grumble but set up camp the small domed hide tents clustered together for warmth and safety, small fires burning in each provide all the light and heat they need through the night. Urzoth sighs and crawls into his home, his daughter looks to him and smiles.
“Will we cross the mountains, da?” He smiles and sits by the Lana.
“We will, tomorrow. When everyone is rest we will cross the mountains.” She nods and leans against him, her head on his chest. She yawns softly and looks up at him.
“What will we find on the other side?” He smiles and wraps an arm around her.
“Clear waters, green grass, and trees so tall you’ll be able to touch the sky.”
“No tree is so tall, da.” Lana giggles and stifles another yawn. “What will we really find?”
“I don’t know, Lana. But it will be better then this.” She nods and pulls away going to her thick bed roll, once her mother’s now hers. “Good night little bird.”
“Night, da, don’t stay up to late, you said dawn and the people will hold you to it.” He chuckles and stokes the fire.
“Not to much longer, once I get the fire burning hot I’ll sleep.” She nods and turns over, shutting her eyes and remaining silent, willing sleep to come to her. The rest she desires does not take long to wash over her, the travel having worn her out much more then normal; Urzoth is not up much longer then his child, he to goes to his bed roll and sleeps through the night. The winds rustle softly in the grass and dreams of a new world dominate the minds of the sleeping Sparrows.
Urzoth rises before the sun and awakens Lana, she groans but smiles up at her father before rising; the camp moves quietly, breaking down their homes and packing what they can into their packs, the carts will not fit on the pathway. As the sun peaks over the mountains they set off, the path being taken is fairly wide but it quickly becomes narrow, Urzoth leads the way while everyone files down the path, one after another with what few cows they have between the people walking one after another. They push on through harsh winds and billowing snow, blowing freely off the mountain tops, with the path slowly chipping away beneath them. Slowly the path becomes angled, a steep wall of rock on one side while the other is a sheer drop into an unseen valley far below; the pace is slow but steady and no one complains as Urzoth pushes them to keep going even as the sun sets, the cold sets in, and torches are passed around to light the path ahead of them.
The slopes provide little resistance to the undaunted Sparrows but as the night marches on a raging storm starts up urging them on faster while Urzoth’s strong voice calls for them not to panic and not to rush. When the sun rises and lights up the unknown Urzoth gives pause to gaze out upon the new lands before him, rolling grass lands, rivers, and a massive forest stretches out before him and with renewed determination he pushes his people on, the down hill walk is a welcomed treat after the night. Down the mountains and hidden within a great pine forest praises ring out for Urzoth son of Urim, bringer of the people to the great and promised lands. “Enough!” the ruckus stops slowly “We must find a safe place to hide till we know this land is safe. Hurry now and then we will rest, but the praises will have to wait till we have established ourselves here.”
The people nod and follow their cautious leader further into the woods, they carefully push through the dense, thorny walls of a thicket before stumbling into a massive clearing located in the center of it, a stream running through it and thick walls of thorns protect them and give them great relief. “We’ll camp here, be quick and silent. You,” Urzoth points to a younger man named Muk “Pick three others and each of you go at least three miles north, south, east, and west. Search for signs of others but do not get yourself caught, war is not what I want and we cannot afford to start one on accident.”
“Yes sir,” He turns and shouts out three names and relays the directions before they vanish in their respective directions. Urzoth watches for a moment before going to Lana who is struggling with their hut.
“No, I can do it, da.” She grits out attempting once again to tie the flexible slats together. With a triumphant smile she flips it so the knot is hanging in what will be the inside of the hut before starting the hard task of driving the slightly sharpened ends into the ground and turning the flat circle into half a sphere. “There.” She takes a step back and smiles, it is a little sloppy but she is learning fast.
“Good job, lets get the hides on.” She nods and they each take an edge, pulling it over the frame before she crawls inside and knots it into the place. Urzoth pulls the hide base against the poles and lets the excess sprawl on the cold ground and stakes it down while Lana slips out of the hut straightens herself.
“I’ll find rocks to line the cut out.” He nods and smiles.
“Don’t go to far, check the stream for rocks before venturing anywhere.” He calls as she walks away, she waves over her shoulder and goes to the creek. She brings back several larger rocks and forms the outer circle before returning to the creek and returning with smaller stones for the fire pit. With a proud smile she shuts the tent flap and rolls out her bed roll, sleep washing over her quickly while Urzoth and a handful of other men remain awake and waiting.
Crystal clear waters rush by the camp, some sleep quietly while other shuffle about unsure of their surroundings and their safety- all around them birds chirp and butterflies flutter while frogs hop from one damp stone to another before slashing into fish infested waters. Urzoth stares out into the thicket, a deep frown tugging at the corners of his mouth as he stares out into the unknown wilderness, daring anything or anyone to come for him and his people. The brush rustles and everyone tenses for a moment before relaxing when the scouts push into sight. “No one for at least three miles, Urzoth.” The tense air leaves the camp quickly and the leader’s frown turns into a large grin.
“That is excellent news, brother. Thank you all.” Urzoth turns to his people “Alright everyone, be vigilant but be no more silent and hidden.” Smiles spread across weary faces and the children not sleeping break free of their hide prisons to run and yell playfully in their new home under the watchful eyes of Urzoth and many other Sparrow clansmen.