Hero the Escape
Chapter 2: House Hunting
Copyright© 2019 by Shaddoth
The explosion of the Gate opening could be heard for a dozen kilos in every direction, not that I knew of this side effect.
I stepped through into the early morning light drizzle, mostly shielded by the canopy of countless of massive trees. Each tree seemingly over thirty meters in height and over a meter in diameter. The canopy left little room for the sun to penetrate but enough did for easy visibility. The quiet, unusual for a forest such as this, was almost shocking. The noise levels returned quickly when I started climbing the nearest tree to attempt to see above the canopy for a lay of the land. Most likely, the Gate disturbed the nearby animals.
The insects that I could see while climbing were similar to the ones I was familiar with in my old world. That’s a promising start. The colorful birds zipped between branches and trilled at me with lively melodies. The tree I chose to climb first had to be at least sixty meters and easily supported my quick ascension. Mountains to the north, forest west and south and what could be a large body of water to the east. At the minimum, there was little possibility of civilization closer than ten kilos. I needed to make sure. The void to the southwest might have been an obscured city in the distance.
The following three hours, I collected a variety of plants and insects. After adding soil samples to the cloth sack and a great deal of my mana, I chanted the ten minute ritual before scattering the contents on the smoothed ground in front of me. Waiting for the pattern to develop I drank from one of my canteens and knelt to observe the map forming in miniature in the dirt, revealing my surroundings.
Ten kilos to the north, were a small mountain range running east to west with numerous rivers pouring down from the heights, combining into a larger one which snaked southeast to the bay. The inlet looked to be three kilos north of me and a couple kilos east. Other small rivers abounded, easily feeding the lush forest. The woods continued west for more than ten kilos past the range of the spell, the same for the south of me as well. East was dominated by a large body of water, that spell didn’t differentiate between salt or fresh. But the river from the mountains had to be fresh water. There was one blighted location though, at the base of the third mountain, a small black and pink vortex formed. It looked to be a new dungeon or a sealed one leaking, neither threatened me, so I could disregard both possibilities. I would head to the river mouth near the lake first.
I stored my armor and my warstaff, equipped a soft pair of walking boots and hung a woodaxe to my belt. I meandered northeast collecting lengths of ivy, which I straightened and untangled before reinforcing through magic so that when I arrived at my destination I would have at least a start for a bed. Magically dampening my presence, caused the local animals and insects to ignore me unless they accidentally bumped into me.
The crescent clearing, fifty meters south of the river but easily a hundred and fifty north of the twenty meter wide fast moving river, felt perfect and just what I needed. The large body of water that it emptied into was definitely fresh water, a massive lake too large to see across. When I walked to its edge, I felt a slight chill from the inland breeze blowing off the lake.
Pacing out the area feeling for any dangers and finding none, I dug a pit and started a fire from fallen branches before entering the shallows of the river and waiting until a decent sized silver fish approached. I stunned my dinner with lighting field and scooped him out of the water to a quick cleaning. After, I impaled it and roasted it over the fire that had a chance to build into a decent size while I hunted my meal.
While the silverfish cooked, I, after securing two straight branches of sufficient length, started weaving the ivy into a two meter hammock. With only a break to eat and one for necessities, I located two suitable nearby trees to support my bed. Not long after, I placed concentric Wards. Crying myself to sleep hugging a dress I had planned to give to Marnie when the Queen was defeated, I fell into a dreamless abyss. The following few days were a blur as I did little besides eat and sleep.
It wasn’t until after I noticed the outer most ward had two charges depleted that I looked around the clearing for the intruder, spotting a middle age human; scraggly beard, rough homespun clothes with leather reinforcements, an old heavily used bow with a truncheon and skinning knife at his sides, observing me from a distance perched on a branch. No hostility seemed to be present from him just weariness. My focused attention startled him. It looked like he thought to be safe from detection by using beginner grade earth magic.
I had regressed to an unknown young age and not a scar on my body, bare chested, wearing linen breeches, I approached my stalker with what I knew to be a disgusted expression. Marnie told me that it was the face that I gave everyone that bothered me and that I needed to learn moderation. But from all the betrayals over the decades, it only became harsher, much to her dismay.
It always was easier for my wife; people genuinely admired her; she wasn’t a threat nor was she pretty but her heart was vast. It was even vast enough to love someone like me. Even though she wanted children, she understood that if she were to ever quicken, her life would be snuffed in a race by competing factions to see who could do the deed the fastest. Without regret, my love had used an enchantment to prevent quickening until the Queen died and we could escape from all of them, which could never happen now.
Thinking back, I probably let some of my fury show as I neared my observer scaring him half to death causing him to fall from his perch. I recognized the orange triangle on his cheek denoting that this person was the one that triggered my ward.
“Mercy.” he cried after he scrambled to his knees and bowed to me. Seeing nothing besides trouble from the hunter, but not having any desire to do anything about it, I turned my back on the woodsman. Gathering more wood for the fire and berries from a nearby bush and my daily ritual of fishing and eating, I busied myself. The intruder was long gone by the time I started the fire for dinner.
Time to build a house, I had wallowed long enough. A hundred meters north of the river at the edge of the clearing I paced out four trees each twenty meters apart which roughly formed a rectangle. With the Woodaxe from my Inventory, I spent the next three hours chopping down the four trees and removing the branches before summoning a greater earth Elemental to drag them in place placing each against the four pillar trees making the beginnings of a wall. While I searched for more suitable trees to make into logs to build my cabin, the Elemental churned the ground, leveling it and removing the bushes and rocks, preparing the foundation for my new house.
One without Marnie...
Since I could only summon the near mindless creature twice a week, I would work with it taking short breaks for the next twelve hours to get as much accomplished as possible. The gem required for a sacrifice was not inconsequential either.
Taking the direction of the bent trees and the way that the shrubs grew I set stakes for my new house. My plan was to stack five logs on the lake side of the house and three on the away side, with a slanted roof to cover. For the rear, I would make a wall with a window and the front a wall with a door. I had no idea of the climate or the seasons. For now, I would plan on a winter. The plants that I passed so far were in early bloom, so I called this ‘spring’.
They say hard work was good for the soul, I wanted to put that to trial. My soul definitely needed something good. Strangely, the last few days felt refreshing. When Baal destroyed my name, he did more than just that. All the titles, blessings and curses also vanished. I no longer had any ties to anything or anyone. Not even the gods. All their marks and anchors vanished, as if they never existed in the first place. Even Baal’s Blessing disappeared which I never expected him to do.
Hmm. Maybe that was the effect of not having a name, nothing to anchor a blessing or a curse to an individual. I hoped I never found out by going through that again. Even stranger, while my memories of the past were still intact, the emotional attachments had faded a little. Even Marnie and Gar. It was like the events happened further back in time than had actually occurred.
*Sigh. Nothing I could do about that now.
Exhausted, I slept late the next day then, hunted saplings and ivy to weave a roof for my new house after enhancing them. Even with the Woodaxe, my new abode still took a few days to complete. I did make sure to take reasonable hammock breaks now and then enjoying the cool breeze off the lake with the sun beating down on me.
Using his pass, the game warden entered Emerald City and went straight to the Guards HQ. Warden Geoff learned long ago that nothing good came from dealing with that one, as he passed the sergeant at the desk, regardless of warnings. Geoff would only meet with the officers, otherwise trouble would befall him. Even though everyone knew that the old sergeant was corrupt, he always seemed to be there. Geoff would have moved his family out of the region ages ago if the sergeant actually had any authority over the wardens.
“Is the Captain about?” he asked the ranker that leaned against the wall between the two doors of the officers’ offices after climbing the stairs.
“She is out, but Lt. Katlyn is in.”
“I’ll see her, it’s important.” the guard knocked and stuck his head in asking permission before opening the door to let the warden in, closing it behind him, the private retreated to his corner slouching against the wall.
The plain, young, auburn haired mage held up a hand to forestall her new arrival so that she could finish the latest report before giving attention to the warden. She only met this warden twice in the last six months of her new posting, but had a good opinion of the rough character.
“Did something happen Geoff?” Unsettled, was the aura he gave off, which was very unusual for any warden let alone the oldest one of Spring Hill Forest.