Nork was annoyed. Then again, when was Nork not annoyed today. Why had he agreed to this silly Journey? And with such a disagreeable female as Utel. He’d never really liked her, preferring the company of the other females of the village… the ones that didn’t talk back. After the brutal winter in the village, though, there weren’t many of those left. Nork had been raised to trust completely in the village mystic, so when she said go.. he went. He should have changed his mind at the last minute, though, when he found out the vision that was sending him on this quest wasn’t actually the mystic’s vision. How could he trust Utel’s vision? She wasn’t a mystic by any stretch of the imagination. Active, yes – Outgoing and friendly, yes .. but she didn’t even eat fish! How was she going to survive a long journey without eating meat? .. And what if they got lost? She’d never even left the village to hunt – for obvious reasons. Nork was utterly filled with doubt.
And now he had to deal with her stopping at every harvest-able plant on the way. They were NEVER going to make it there at this rate. She had mentioned an Oasis they could camp for the night in – but he was sure she’d never actually been there. His urgings for speed, though, fell on deaf ears when he tried mentioning them, so finally he just shut his mouth and trudged on.
Deep in his heart, he knew his village was doomed – so there was little point in turning back. If this journey didn’t work, there was nothing to go back to. The mystic was right in one thing – the future lived elsewhere. Nork just didn’t want to have to follow this particular female to find it.
How had she gotten stuck with Nork? The strongest in the village? You mean the dumbest. She’s seen bags of rocks that were brighter. He was even complaining every time she stopped to harvest more food. Wasn’t he hungry, too? Having a garden ready to plant when they arrived was important for their survival, yet he seemed to be in such a hurry that food wasn’t on his mind at all.
At least he wasn’t trying to lead. He didn’t know where he was going, but she did. She felt confident, and full of hope. Their new home would be amazing. A paradise full of food and friendly faces. She couldn’t wait to get there, but the mystic had said the journey was as important as the destination. She didn’t understand why, but she had faith that the mystic was correct.
The day crept past in hostile silence, one harvest-able plant at a time, but by the time the sun was still in the sky, they had made it to the Oasis, and Utel had a healthy feast for dinner with a stockpile of vegetables and some herbs to plant when they arrived at their new home. Utel happily set up camp while Nork, seeming exhausted, set up his fishing pole and tried dejectedly to catch a fish for his dinner. Why he wouldn’t even consider sharing her strawberries and carrots, she didn’t know, but he had definitely turned up his nose to her produce.
Utel went to fetch clean water and to take a bathroom break in a nearby bush, glad to leave the grumpy Nork behind. He was apparently a better fisherman than she had given him credit for, however, because by the time she returned, he was proudly grilling his fish on a stick.
Nork grilled his mouth-watering dinner happily, wondering where Utel had wandered off to. She was probably hunting down more of her stupid plants.
When she returned with kindling, however, Nork tried to re-evaluate his new partner. Maybe she wasn’t the brightest, but at least she was easy on the eyes.
He surreptitiously watched her poke at the fire with a stick, and tried not to laugh too hard when she managed to catch her stick on fire.
By the time his fish was done, the silence had been broken, and they chatted cheerfully about the hope both were finally feeling, with full bellies and a safe camp. Maybe things weren’t going to be too bad.
The next morning, Nork caught another fish, roasted it, and had most of it eaten before Utel had hardly even risen for the day.
He thought to scold her for her laziness, but instead he put out the fire and helped her break camp, packing things securely away for the day’s trek. He felt filthy and the day’s sun was already scorching, but there was still a long way to go.
As the day passed, they got closer and closer to the mountains. The baked desert ground slowly gave way to cool, refreshing grass beneath their feet. Utel wasn’t even stopping for produce – perhaps because there really wasn’t any in this desert.
By the time they arrived at a suitable camp, both were miserable, and the companionable silence had stretched thin again. They put up their tent, built a fire, and both split up to take care of business.
Nork’s first task was to take a bath in the stream, then find another area where he hadn’t scared off all the fish to find some dinner. He was starving. Perhaps Utel’s idea to carry food with her wasn’t the worst idea in the world. He fished as the sun went down, hoping to catch something large enough to fill his belly. Her idea may not be too bad, but he wasn’t about to admit it to her, and he was even less inclined to ask to share her vegetables.
Utel, meanwhile, had mostly filled her belly, and, out of pure curiosity, was roasting some juicy beetles she had caught to see how they would taste. She quickly found out that they didn’t agree with her stomach, and she had a couple more berries while she waited for Nork to reappear.
It was completely dark by the time he had returned with a fish, and he sat miserably down by the fire to roast it. Before long, he had managed to catch both his fish – and himself – on fire. Utel splashed him with water, and they both ran to the nearby stream to wash off.. and poor Nork had to admit her strawberries weren’t too bad after all.
Breakfast consisted of veggies and fish, although Utel wisely passed on the fish. They packed camp in near silence, and headed off before the sun had completely risen.
The forest and the terrain seemed nearly impassable at times during the day, and the sun was frustratingly absent behind the trees. Utel was nearly at her wit’s end by the time they found a lush meadow, and she finally could again see where they were going. With the plentiful fishing, and things to harvest, both agreed to spend a bit of time here, resting for the next leg of their journey.