“The Heart of Baron?” Remeck cocked his head to one side. He was really starting to think that perhaps, the two of them were searching for two completely different things that just happened to share the name of the ‘Heart of Baron.’
Remeck shook his head and stared out the window of their room vacantly as he tried to sort out a proper response. With a shrug, Remeck decided to leave it alone. She was coming along for her own reasons, and if she wound up disappointed because things weren’t what she expected, it was of no real consequence to him. For now, he was just grateful for the extra sword arm. Who knew though? Perhaps he was over-thinking things.
“I guess I wouldn’t know. I’m out here to secure potential Crystal Temples. Rumor has it that one of them is known as the ‘Heart of Baron.’” Remeck fingered the curtains on the window, watching as the sun sank closer to the horizon. With a flick of his wrist, he shut the curtains with a swish and turned towards Roxanne. “Hopefully we both find what we’re looking for right?” With that, the pair settled in to wait out the last few hours of daylight.
Several hours later found the two in one of the guard towers at the walls under the cover of darkness. “Careful now.” the guard captain cautioned as a rope was lowered on the far side of the wall. “The other two Seed members went due north from here just last night. Between here and the vace there’s a rather large marsh. Not wide, but stretching a fair distance east and west. Not very dangerous. It’d be easier to just go straight through.”
Remeck nodded. “Thank you Captain.” Clasping hands one last time with the older soldier, Remeck clambered down the rope to join Roxanne below and they vanished into the woods. Shortly afterwards the town bells were ringing and a shout went up as the goblinoids were sighted launching a raid.
At first Remeck had harbored some concern over Roxanne’s woodcraft, wondering if she’d be able to keep up with him while moving through the dark woods silently. He shouldn’t have worried. For the most part, they made it through the woods without mishap, at least, until they reached the swamp.
“The fastest way is straight through.” Remeck said, wondering if Roxanne would balk.
She didn’t. “What’re you waiting for?”
With a shrug, Remeck stepped out into the wet expanse, the mist curling around his thighs. Another step, then another, then with a strangled curse, his feet sank into soft goopy mud with a splash. Behind him, Roxanne paused uncertainly as Remeck flailed about; reestablishing his balance. Cheeks burning with embarrassment, Remeck tested the ground around him with his spear and found only water and mud. There seemed to be no helping it, the water was already soaking into his boots. Taking another uncertain step, he pulled his feet from the muck, feeling the mud trying to suck him back in.
Mercifully Roxanne remained silent, hoping into the swamp without a word of complaint. It wasn’t until they’d almost reached the far end of the swamp that trouble occurred. Remeck could see what appeared to be solid ground rising before him when there was a splash and muffled curses exploded behind him. Turning he saw Roxanne recovering from a stumble, a murderously stormy expression brewing on her face.
“Blasted boot merchant…” Roxanne trailed off with more curses and Remeck had to ask twice more before she finally responded. “The person who fixed my boot ripped me off.”
Remeck gave her a confused look, unsure as to what she meant and Roxanne rolled her eyes in exasperation. “My boot’s ripped.”
“Can you still walk?” Roxanne gave her leg an experimental wiggle, jerked her foot out and took another step forward. She frowned as her foot was sucked back into the mud.
“Sure I can,” Roxanne growled, “but each step only rips the hole bigger. By the time I make it to dry land, I won’t have shoes to walk in.”
Remeck turned his gaze to dry land and then back to Roxanne, then sighed. “Hold on.” Adjusting his grip on his spear, he flung it onto dry land, followed by his backpack. That done, he slogged back ot where Roxanne was wwatching him warily.
“What’re you-?” Her question turned into a yelp as Remeck lifted her up across his shoulders. Surprise lasted but a moment before she began to thrash. Her displeasure became so violent that Remeck staggered, nearly falling over.
“Hold still!” Remeck grunted as her elbow struck him hard on the side of the head. “I swear to god I’ll dump you in the water myself.” The threat froze Roxanne long enough for Remeck to reach dry land and deposit her safely. There was a few moments of stony silence as they regarded each other.
“Don’t. Do. That. Again.” The words were bit out from between clenched teeth.
Somewhat abashed, Remeck rubbed the back of his head. “Sorry, fastest way to get you out.” Moving on as quickly as he could, Remeck started digging into his backpack and removed a roll of bandages and motioned towards her boot. “I can’t fix them, but at the very least I can make sure they don’t rip any further.”
A short while later and the deed was done. A layer of bandages had been applied to Roxanne’s boot, covering the hole and wrapping around under the sole. Remeck sat back on his haunches as he watched Roxanne test out his field patching. Slowly she applied weight to the bandaged boot, adjusting to the feel of a layer of cloth wrapped around a section of her foot. She’d have to be a bit careful to avoid slipping. After a moment she nodded in thanks. It would do for the time being, but she’d new shoes at the next earliest opportunity.
They were ready to go again.