[Story] Thorns – Arrival

Josie and Pup are here. They both seem to be taking everything in stride, better than I had in fact. It took me a few days to find my bearings and make sense of everything. Pup took off to explore immediately — I wasn’t too concerned because I knew he’d be within the walls of the outpost. There are enough workers here that they’ll keep an eye on him, and I warned them that he’d be coming. I have no doubt he’ll be following them around and watching, the way he does with the elf. It’s my hope that he’ll find something practical to hold his interest, perhaps even help out a little. He’s certainly old enough. I asked Josie to bring his lesson books, but realistically I don’t see him getting much work done. Though at least we will be able to read together in the common room.

Josie was matter-of-fact about it all. She was hungry, no doubt from the ride to the outpost, but otherwise seemed unruffled by having traveled to a different time and place. She was concerned about getting able to get back, a fear that I admitted that I share. But the mages assured everyone that returning would be a simple matter, and they’re all known in the city so their reputations would be at stake if it were all some sort of scam. I made sure to write their names down, just in case. But people arrive every day, surely they wouldn’t if it wasn’t safe. I showed her my shirt, I think she probably just said she liked it to spare my feelings. It is comfortable though, and warm. It’s not as cold here as it is in the city this time of year, but there’s a sort of perpetual twilight which means the sun never really reaches its full height in the sky. I told her she ought to get a red one. It’s a goal to get her one before we leave.

We spoke about that, too. As much as I like it here, I don’t know what we’d do in the long term. There is work, but it’s physical for the most part — building, cutting trees, hunting and the like. I am sure that someday down the line there might be a proper town with proper shops, but that is dependent upon a lot of things. I told Josie about the forests, dark and shadowed, with plenty of space to run. Yes, there are orcs, but their outposts are large and easily avoided. There are little ponds hidden behind hills and among the tree roots, the water shining bright with moonlight. It’s a good place to run, and no one can see us.

But she’s right. I can’t ask them all to uproot and move here, simply so that I can play at being a wolf. We have responsibilities back home and I must think of the others. There’s no school here, no cathedral and no clock shop. Josie and I decided that we’ll just have a little vacation here, a nice break from everything. When the elves come back from the Plaguelands, we’ll come back too. Except they might not return at all. Josie was concerned about that too, which surprised me a little. For as much as she and the elf lock horns, she seemed genuinely worried that he might not return. I trust that they know what they are doing — Alinash in particular should have some knowledge of that area, having lived near there. They’ve been away before, sometimes for ludicrously dangerous jobs that I only find out about long after. It’s always been fine before. But what if it’s not? What if they just decide not to come back? I don’t have an answer for that. I tell Josie that we can write to the Argent outpost there, if need be, but I know that isn’t a real solution. But I’m not going out there to look for them, either. Hopefully finding this book is a simple matter and they’ll return soon.

But not too soon.

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