242/366 – Challenge

Day 100 of 100 Word Prompts: Challenge


The sun dipped below the treeline of the Grimthorn Vale with little ceremony, and even less warning for Jake. The failing light had already proven to be a difficult thing to overcome with the fallen wood all but soaked from the weeks of perpetual rainfall that came with the season.

“What are we supposed to do?” Fala asked, pushing their back into Jake’s side. “There’s probably already watchers out there. Waiting for us to make a simgle mistake before plucking us from where we stand.”

“Stop being so dramatic, Fala,” Jake said, shaking his head. “The watchers are just that, watchers. They don’t pluck anyone from anywhere. As creepy as they are, they’ve never hurt anyone. Do you have any torches left in your pack?”

“No,” Fala replied, shaking their head. “We used them last night.”

“I thought so, but I was hoping that you squirrelled one away for better times,” Jake teased. “It’s a shame that Reamus didn’t come with us. We could use his magic dome about now.”

“No sense in fretting over it now,” Fala replied as their eyes darted from shadow to shadow. “There’s not much we can do about the light. Maybe we can do something about sleeping arrangements though?”

“What do you mean?” Jake asked. “I know last night took a bit longer than usual because there’s only two of us, but we made it through alright.”

“I was thinking, perhaps we should take to the boughs of the trees? Maybe they’ll give us a bit more protection from the lower roaming creatures wiht the pointy teeth,” Fala suggested, using their fingers to mimic large fangs. Jake smiled at the little green person suggesting that they didn’t know what a wolf was called.

“We can sleep in the trees, but I don’t know that you’ll fair much better up there,” Jake said patting the trunk of one such tree. “These trees, even as tall as they are, don’t provide much space for me to lie down. You’d probably be alright, provided that there aren’t any giant spiders creeping around up there.”

“So what if there was? You like spider, remember?” Fala said, teasing Jake for the last time he had eaten one.

“I like small spiders. Big spiders up in the trees, on the other hand, could carry you off and there wouldn’t be a thing I could do about it,” Jake said, pulling his bedroll from the top of his pack. “SHould we make camp here, up there, or keep looking for a better campsite?”

“It’s too dark to go wandering around in the Vale. Besides, we tried finding better arrangements last night, and honestly I believe they got worse the further along we got,” Fala said, producing their own bedroll.

“No, you don’t get to set yours up,” Jake said, pointing at it. “Last night, I took watch first, tonight its your turn.”

“Why does that mean I can’t set up my bedroll?” Fala asked.

“Because I know you. You’ll fall asleep in ten minutes if your bedroll is out and available,” Jake said.

“Will not,” Fala said, crossing their arms.

“I caught you snoring away this morning when I woke up, remember? No bedroll, no sleep, keep your eyes peeled for anything dangerous, okay?” Jake said, gently placing his sword next to him on the ground outside its sheath. “I’ll be sleeping light to help you if anything happens okay?”

“What about your alarm thing you do? With the wire?” Fala said, nervously running their long fingers through their purple hair.

“I can’t until we get to town,” Jake said. “I’m out of wire.”

“Wait, you don’t reuse it!?” Fala scoffed.

“Can’t,” Jake shrugged as he lay down.

“Why the hell not? You’d think it would be more handy if you didn’t need to keep buying wire all the time. Is this some kind of capitalist conspiracy or something. I’ll not be-”

“Quiet, please,” Jake said as he turned his back to them. “The sooner I get to sleep, the sooner you get relieved from guard duty. We can discuss the downsides of magic after we both get some sleep, okay?”

Fala closed their mouth, but continued to grumble away in their head. Thoughts of greedy wizards working out deals with miners and coppersmiths to ensure that the trade would continue forever. After fifteen minutes of stewing, Fala finally gave up trying to figure it out and simply accepted that magic was a rip off, no matter how good at it you became.

With a large yawn, Fala leaned back against the trunk of a tree. They couldn’t remember the exhaustion moving in on them at first, then something else became evident. There was a low mist creeping across the camp site. Along the edge, just past the trees, Fala could hear the clicking and creaking of the watchers’ legs.

“They don’t snatch thing,” Fala muttered to themself, shaking their head. “Watchers just watch, that’s why they have the name. They aren’t going to hurt you. Just calm down, Fala.”

With each passing moment, the creaks and snaps grew closer until along the edge of the wood the dark forms of the watchers came into view. Their light blue glowing eyes peered into the campsite as though they were seeing the most interesting thing in the world.

Fala yawned again, even as they staggered to their feet and drew a dagger.

“You stay back,” Fala said, slurring their words a bit. “What the?”

Fala felt the world twist suddenly as they fell forward, landing precaiously close to the blade of the weapon in their hand as well as Jake’s sword. They fought the sleep with everything they had in them, but their eyelids were jsut too heavy, and the sweet call of surrender too tempting. The last thing Fala saw before the sweet release of unconsciousness took them was a wooden stilt step out of the treeline and a watcher perched atop it, leaning down to get a closer look at them.

“Get-” Fala mouthed, but no words came out. Sleep took them finally and would hold them for hours yet, provided nothing came for them.

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