Farren was drenched, dripping water from every hitch and crease and fold of his dark green outfit. Cloak and all. Pants, shirt, everything was the deep forest green that blended so well with the evergreens he walked beneath. Rain fell in a constant rush, ceaseless, bitter bits of early spring. It was the drenching kind of storm, one without lightning, just the rain, dark clouds, and thoughts.
Three days it had been.
Three, sun-forsaken days. Cold, and wet, he hadn’t felt warmth since he had left Catylist Inn. Gods, the soup there had been something to write of. Steaming broth that held all the flavors of a seasoned kettle, slow rendered carrots and onions, and celery that found themselves savory beside whatever else the innkeeper had put in it.
His stomach rumbled. Footsteps squelched, and angered his empty stomach further, just the irritation of wet feet seemed to poke at his hunger too. The rain-sodden ground was a bed of sopped pine needles and moss, they seemed to hold the water for him, it was soft at least. If it hadn’t been for the squishing, he would have enjoyed it.
Instead, he trudged through it. Cursing his luck, his clothes, and shoes. He swore a storm up himself if swears and heinous utterings could make one.
A strong gust of wind shook the trees, dropping a fresh wave of water down on Farren. As though to emphasize his thoughts. They landed cold, spitefully so. He still couldn’t get used to it, the wind and rain. He wanted warmth, sunshine, a stiff drink, and a good belly-up laugh.
He was almost there.
Faulke Hill wasn’t far. He’d be able to get at least a warm bed and good drink. It was a proper town. Even so far out here. On the edge of the map really. The Timberlands met the ocean and few had explored further and returned.
Some old fellow lived there and was rumored to know every language ever made. Farren couldn’t remember his name and doubted someone could even do that. He was downright terrible with names, let alone languages.
Still. A man’s got to try.
A big drip seeped through his layers and ran uncomfortably down his back. That drink was going to be stiff, positively sharp. He shivered. Checked his pouch, out of habit. Six months of pay it had cost him. That, and what was in it.
The tall trees crowded in. Massive pine-needled behemoths that stretched up hundreds of feet, towered over him. They would have blotted out the moon and stars if the storming clouds weren’t already.
Just the slow pattering of rain filled the air. Quiet. Soft, whispers of nature.
Then, in a flash, a brief moment, he saw the light. A flicker of yellowish-orange. It danced between trunk and rain, water and wind. When it found Farren, he cried out. Just ahead, a fire certainly stoked. Tall mugs and fine bread, probably warm, not that Farren cared, anything to eat was welcome.
Faulke Hill. He walked quicker, fast steps that carried him toward warmth, to a soft seat and resting feet. He could taste the relaxation, the respite, the break. He was worn, and wet, and finally, through storm and rain, and a forest that swallowed travelers without a thought, he was there.