It’s Bad Luck – (Up The High Pass)

4 Aug

On point.  The tip of the spear.  Out front.

Tol’ors guided his blue roan up the steep mountain trail, the rest of the patrol snaking out behind him along the switchbacks as they worked their way up to the high pass. Holding the blue’s reins in one hand the young soldier ran the back of one gauntleted hand across his brow mopping up sweat before it got into his eyes again.

Part of him wished for a moment that he’d taken a bit of Havver’s earlier advice and lined the inside of his helm with long twist of linen to soak up the sweat and cover the back of his neck.  It was good advice and Tol’ors  had rifled through is pack looking for an old tunic or the like to sacrifice.  When his search came up empty, several of his squad members had volunteered spares.

That had been interesting.

Mc’terich had offered up a nice square of very fine linen, a faint rose in color, covered with delicate, hand sewn, infinitely cute ducklings.

Zeb Tucker, a short, swarthy man from outside of Darkshire hadn’t offered what appeared to be a rather clean and completely serviceable pair of underpants.

“Fit just right under the helmet,” he proclaimed proudly, and doffed his round helm to show Tol’ors.  “Best part is, you can swap ’em out and wear ’em after a few days up on  your ‘noggin.”

In the end, Tol’ors had politely declined all the offers.  He’d tried wadding a spare tunic up under the helm, but there was simply too much cloth and his helm rode so high on head he couldn’t buckle the chin strap.

After four hours in the saddle though, eyes stinging and the back of his neck already an attractive strawberry color, the young militiaman was starting to regret the decision and question the measure of his many small vanities.

The sound of a rider coming up fast from behind broke Tol’ors from his sweaty and increasingly uncomfortable reverie.  Glancing back, the youth’s stomach clenched at the sight of Master Sergeant Blankenship’s hard eyes and perpetual scowl.

Tol’ors cast about quickly to ensure he hadn’t missed something obvious.  As the point man it was his responsibility to lead the patrol up to the high pass.  He was responsible for halts and to warn his fellow militiamen of danger (often by being the first to be feathered with arrows).  The trail was clear though and he’d seen no sign of the Black Rock Orcs all morning.

Tol’ors nodded to the big sergeant and disgraced himself by having to take another swipe at his sweaty brow.  That Blankenship looked cool and dry in spite of the mid-day heat was not lost on the young soldier.

“The trail’s going to widen up here around the next cutback,” Blankenship said without preamble.  “There’ll be enough room for us to have a rest before we split up for the climb.  Give us a halt when you get to it and circle us up there.”

Before Tol’ors could respond, Blankenship had already turned his sturdy bay around and was headed back down the line of troopers.

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