Saturday, November 12, 2011

Areaex I, cont.

A few days after Anna and company set out from Jicswia on their journey, they enter the mountains and encounter a late-spring snowstorm. They're able to keep on through the snow, but the journey becomes very tedious, and they're relieved to see the end of the snow. More later on the challenges of creating a convincing series of events. (This section comes from Chapter 10, but I'm planning to finish Chapter 18 in a couple more days.)

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Finally, on the sixth day of snow, as they stumbled along, heads bent, barely moving, Anna woke to a slow change in the wind. She looked up and realized that the snow had ended. The wind blew cold gusts against them, but the clouds were breaking away, and the long, glassy sheets of ice dribbled away into damp patches. The slopes ahead stood out in bare, solid earth. Anna almost laughed with relief.

She did laugh at herself, a little, for her pleasure in seeing bare rocks and lichen and patches of earth—even muddy, frosty earth—after the slush and ice of the mountains.

By early afternoon, they had left the snow far behind. Through the rest of that day, Liegenor led them down through the ridges into a lower range of hills. They still climbed across endless old, wind-worn slopes, but they worked their way gradually down and down again into more open ledges and wider valleys, while their walking became far easier.

Toward evening, when they made camp again, Meygar went to look for game. He found nothing, but at twilight, as they sat around the fire, drying their boots and clothes, Anna saw a flock of blackbirds chattering and flapping over the ridges. She got up and left the group around the fire, watching the whirl of birds above the hills.

As she returned, Munin was wringing a small stream of water out of his blanket. “Think we’d see winter a third time if we went back now?” he asked, glancing up and grinning.

“Just as well we don’t,” Thom grumbled. “I’ve seen enough snow for two lifetimes.”

“Good, because you won’t get two,” Munin retorted.

Anna laughed lightly. “Now we’re through, the snow will be gone in a week.”

Liegenor stirred restlessly, frowning. “Even if it were still snowing,” he said, watching Anna, “you’d find it easier to go back now than to go on.”

They all looked at him, puzzled.

“You don’t know what is ahead, do you, Anna?” Liegenor asked.

Anna shook her head. “What is it?”

Liegenor looked at her a moment, before he got to his feet and turned slowly away, studying the ridges. Anna started around the circle toward him, but he only stood with his back to them, looking out to the south and the east.

Slowly, Anna returned to her place and sat down.

When Liegenor finally turned back, he took his place by Meygar. The others
picked up their talk again, working out in fits and starts the broken trails of their thoughts, but they kept glancing sideways at Liegenor and wondering what he meant, what he was thinking. He said nothing more that evening, though, beyond a nod to Tungral or Meygar’s brief questions.

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