Wolves at the Door (part 49)

They saw little of interest on the rest of the journey. All the stone doorways were more or less alike, and none of the people hanging around them were speaking a language that Gil could understand. A couple of times he though he caught a glimpse of a distant figure in the other direction, treading a lonely round out beyond the fringes of civilisation. It was hard to tell if the indistinct shapes were really people or just products of his imagination. The glowing mist was so thick that there could have been whole cities or mountains out there and nobody would ever know it.

They returned to Alfvin’s tent, and after he had removed the goods that they had stored there, he offered Gil the space to sleep in. It was a good thing too – tired though Gil was, he would have found it hard to nap out in the open. The tent blocked most of the light, though a little still leaked in around the edges of the floor.

When Alfvin returned to wake him later he still felt a bit groggy, but once he was up and moving it passed soon enough. This time Gil was carrying a bag of extra equipment Alfvin had given him to carry on the journey. He wasn’t sure what was in it, but it clanked whenever he made a sudden move.

Knowing what to expect this time, the journey between worlds was uneventful, but no quicker than before. Gil could not help thinking of it as descending to earth from the clouds. This time when he emerged on the other end, he found himself alone in the forest on a sunny but cool day. Evidently Alfvin had seen the sunshine and wanted no part of it.

For a moment Gil considered stepping back to join him, but thought better of it. He knew his way around their erstwhile camp site, and the weather seemed too good to waste. Instead he dropped the clanking bag and made his way down to the nearby stream for a swim.


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