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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 130: Slade 131
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Darkness fell, although the clear starry sky provided ample light in the open desert. Slade awoke staring at the unfamiliar patterns. He had never been much for studying the stars, and realized that the patterns were always unfamiliar even in worlds where he had lived for decades. Shella was snuggled close under his arm, using him as part of her pillow, and he was comfortable lying there with her.
He had been lying there long enough to notice that the stars had moved when the air abruptly warmed. He pondered what might have caused that, and then realized that Shella’s comfort bubble spell must have lapsed, exposing them to the warm dry night desert air. It was not so hot as the day, but it was still definitely not cool.
“Love,” he began, “you know I’d be happy to let you sleep, but the night has come, and we should use the cool for walking. Time to rise and pack.”
“Mmmm…figh mints,” a groggy voice said.
How could he deny her that? “O.K.,” he said. “Five minutes. I’m going to get up and start packing my things. Let me know when I can have the blanket.” He extracted himself from beneath her, shifted over, and sat up. She grunted unhappily as her head dropped a couple inches and stopped on the now lower pillow.
He had removed his boots and his weapons, but not his leathers. He thought it unlikely that there would be any large predators in the area--there was not enough prey to support such creatures--but did not know whether there were bandits or nomads out here. Restoring his boots, he turned his attention to the weapons, then the other loose objects. He would need his bedroll. How long had it been since he promised five minutes? He didn’t have a watch. It was probably about right.
“Honey, your five minutes are up.”
Slade shrugged. “I guess you know those things. I’m packed, except for my blankets.”
Grudgingly, Shella rose. “All right. I’m up.”
Slade waited patiently while she sat there for a minute, maybe two, but then she stood and began putting on her cloak. She thought better of it, and took it off again, then pronounced her spell that packed her belongings in her bag while he in a much more mundane fashion folded and rolled the blankets, trying to brush sand and dirt off them as he did so. She was ready before he was, but he expected that.
Relaxing, he felt for that sense of the other verser. She must have done so as well, because he then looked at her, and started to point, and together they said, “This way.”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #269: Versers Arrive. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: