Men of Clan Halese
-East Rivenian Woodland-
“Do you suppose peach pits float on water?”
I announced the question loudly as I enjoyed the last few morsels of succulent fruit my teeth could scrape from the nearly bare stone at its center.
It was a harmless question, the type of question I often liked to ponder after a good fight or a successful scavenging mission.
a question to ground me and return me to the world that wasn't filled with hate and blood that I had been pulled into since joining the Antramarian Legions.
“You know it's honestly not anything I've paid any thought to before, I suppose they’re made of wood though, aren't they?”
I had to pause for a moment and reflect on the stupendous idiocy that had just radiated out of my companions mouth, I had to take a moment to deduce if it had been a well constructed ironic satire or the genuine take of an honest-to-the god's bonehead.
Soon enough I got my answer; however, I turned to meet the face of Tinus Halistus sitting on a rock adjacent to mine protruding from the clear flowing stream.
There he sat on his rock, paused from his wood carving, waiting with bated breath and a dumbstruck face for my response to his magnificent quandary.
“Yes my dear Halistus, that is a FABULOUS point, they are made of wood, so I am certain that they in fact DO float.”
My words were drenched with so much facetiousness that I'm sure any ordinary citizen would have understood the implication that he had just asked a very ridiculous question.
Tinus however, just lit up, elated that he had been apparently confirmed in his lifelong suspicions as he giddily went back to his oaken engraving.
Returning to my own devices, I quickly realized that my fruit had been well and truly picked clean, and so, after a pensive moment of scientific pontification attempting to assess the peach pits buoyancy, I let fate decide, and gave it a well wound pitch into the stream.
Tinus refocused on my activities as the pit soared through the air, eager to have yet more confirmation in his hypothesis.
At last the pit plopped into the river with all the grave of a fine Searshish maid diving into a moon pool, a barely audible “plop” denoting its entry into the water.
After a few moments of agonizing suspense, the pit eventually bobbed back up to the surface, gently gliding downstream like a summer ferry.
For just a fraction of an instance, I had to wonder if it was indeed possible that Tinus’s proposition wasn't so unfounded, i mean, peaches grew on tree’s after all.
Deciding it wasn’t worth the time however, I sprung to my feet on the firm rock beneath me, feeling well nourished after the lovely sweet snack.
“Right on then Tinus, we best be getting back to town then, plenty of time to finish your carving once we get back to camp.”
How I admired Tinus, such pleasant company, so blissfully simple, I was tremendously glad to have found at least a few pleasant lads to converse with since I got sent out east.
Even if most of them had passed away in the war.
That dark thought was rather hastily ushered out the door however as I watched Tinus lose his footing in the stream, tumbling arse first into the water.
I couldn't help but erupt in laughter at the sight, especially as his cape seemed to only hamper his efforts to get back on his feet, I tempt any playwright to craft a scene of more inherent guttural humor.
When he finally scrambled his way back onto his rock, looking like an angry wet cat, it was impossible to not continue cascading my bellowing chuckles.
“That's not funny Torian! Not funny at all! I could have drowned for all you know, and what are you doin, standing over there on the bank laughing at me!”
I could have sworn I was getting tears in my eyes, this is exactly what I had needed to wipe away all of my worries, exactly why I needed men like Tinus around.
“How do you suppose you would have drowned then eh Tinus? I thought you were made of wood like those peach pits!”
I had to pause for refrains to gather air between my incessant chortles, but my delivery seemed to break Tinus out of his very fleeting anger, as I saw a smile start to invade his lips.
I finally did stop laughing though when I got a better look at him, his smile had seemed innocent enough, but now I realized it was far more mischievous in nature.
He plopped back down into the water, far less gracefully than that majestic peach pit I had lobbed earlier, ruining my beautifully crafted parallel somewhat.
Still wearing that mischievous devil's grin though he began to wade slowly through the water, arms outstretched above his head like some silly damp ferocious Baemuth.
All too late I understood his plan.
“No, now Tinus im serious, fuck off right now this is not funny”
I was stranded on my rock, if I tried to flee in any direction I would have to take my time and carefully place my steps lest I lose my footing.
If i tried to go for the long jump back to the bank i ran a very good risk of completely mudding myself, there was no other options, i had to negotiate.
“Tinus, listen, i have a lot of coin in my satchel, coins go rusty when they are exposed to water, they’ll be USELESS, alright, you wouldn't want that would you?”
Although I didn't think it possible, his now frankly eerie smirk had widened ever further, and his pace hurried as he sloshed through the water, growing ever closer.
“Cmon Torian, don't you think you can float too, like a peach pit?”
I would have never imagined the oaf could be so intimidating, he looked like a Zoteshi cultist ready to splay me open to honor his red god.
My eyes were desperately scanning for a way out, an option that didn't leave me either dirty or drenched, realizing there seemed to be no alternatives, I simply began frantically kicking in Tinus’s direction.
It was to no avail, he managed to catch one of my floundering legs as I tried to fend him off, and before I knew it I was whipped like a barbed flail, and slammed into the cold clear water.
I thrashed around like a caught traut until I was finally loose from my captor, and I sprung to the surface, frustrated I had been outwitted by a man who thought the pit of a peach was made of wood.
Now I was on the receiving end of his relentless laughter, as he splashed about in the stream as elated as a toddler, while he was simple, his gleeful spirit was infectious.
After we had clambered out of the stream and dried off in the sun for a bit, we began the short jaunt back towards the encampment, back to bitter reality.
These little excursions to the stream, to a place where I felt entirely unburdened and unbothered by all of the aspects of what my life had become, I needed these.
The trek back into the muggy and dank forests at the foothills of Lumpas Wood always felt like willing walking back into the mouth of a hungry beast.
Sometimes I could swear the large outstretched tree’s were just elongated fangs of fir, slowly dragging me further into the gaping stomach of the creature for digestion.
The canopy of the woods was quite a beautiful thing though, at least. It created such magnificent abstract shapes of light as the sun tried its best to creep its way into this dark, lonely and untouched place.