Fiction: East and West

The clouds folded over on themselves as the storm approached. Yvin watched the looming grey. “I don’t want to be out in that.” He said. There was no response from the cart or the person curled inside of it. He poked his head under the canvas. “Chesa? You hear me, whatever you’re chasing in the east, it’s not worth the whole lot of trouble rolling our way. If we haul we’ll make it to Keller’s camp before night.”

“I’m not afraid of a little rain.” She was crouched like child, her nose nearly touched the map’s slick surface as she scrawled notes over it.

“That’s not a little rain.” Yvin gave up as soon as he said it. Chesa wasn’t going to listen, he’d been with her only a fortnight but her’s was the type of personality you got to know fast. Yvin moved to the cart horse, the animal’s eyes were already showing white. “It’s okay.” He whispered and moved a hand over the shaggy coat. “You know this is bad.” Chesa could be stubborn, but he’d been born with a streak of it himself. Yvin pulled himself up and nudged the horse moving. With a dull creak the cart started its lopsided roll.

“Thrice damned horse. Yvin!” Chesa’s curse was muffled as she struggled with the canvas cover. Finally her very annoyed expression emerged from the front of the cart and glared at his back. “East is the other way.”

“And Keller’s camp is this way. That storm will kill us. You don’t seem to have much care for your own well being, but I don’t want to die cold on the road.

She rolled her eyes, the movement of the cart swinging her loose braids back and forth over her shoulders. “I need to go east.”

“And I need to survive the night. I’ve heard those things can burn a man’s skin off.” He didn’t stop the cart and the horse seemed happy to be moving.

Chesa scoffed, wrestling with the canvas again as she swung out of the cart. Her boots hit the mud with a squelch. She walked beside the slow roll of the cart’s wheels. “Children’s stories. I’ve been through dozens of the storms.”

Yvin looked back at her, brows raised.

“A couple.” She corrected with a scowl. The fine mist of rain was quickly turning to heavy drops. Chesa slowed as the mud around her feet thickened. “But they’re just bluster, no fire, no holy vengeance. You priests are too damn superstitious.”

Yvin looked at her warily. Like the storms she claimed to know so much about, Chesa was probably a good bit bluster, but he suspected a good amount of fire too. “It’s not worth it.” He turned back to the way ahead and scratched the horse’s neck encouragingly.

“For you maybe.” Chesa muttered and turned away in a flurry of braids, Yvin caught himself leaning off the horse, watching Chesa pull her maps and notes from the cart. It took her no time to sling her things, all wrapped in protective seal skin, over her shoulders and head east. Unperturbed, the horse continued its course to the west.

“Chesa!” Yvin yelled at her back. She didn’t stop or turn around, just kept walking, mud coming up to her ankles. She did raise her hand in a farewell wave. Yvin couldn’t tell if it was meant to mock him or not. “Wait here.” He told the horse and swung onto the ground. “You can’t go off alone.” He said when he caught up to her, nearly yelling over the wind’s howl.

Chesa’s smile was small, but her normal good nature still crinkled the corner of her eyes. “Then come with me. It’s just a storm.” She looked up at the rolling clouds.

Yvin shook his head. “Just a storm. You’re insane Captain.”

“You’ll see. Some wind, a little rain, nothing to worry about.” Her smile widened into a triumphant grin. “Get the horse, there’s supposed to be a cave maybe four hours away.” Without giving him a chance to reply that he hadn’t agreed to anything, or that Keller’s was only three hours behind them, Chesa was marching through the mud east once again.

The horse gave him a pitiful look when he turned the cart around. “Not my choice.” He said and shared the commiserating look.

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