Spirit FishMature

His thirst was overwhelming, saliva congealing at the corners of his mouth. He stumbled through the woods with sweaty palms and sore feet and a thirst that made his head ache. Three days without water and wandering in the wilderness were three days more than Jeram thought he could take. The Bonacon was beyond him now, leaving him dry and hopeless. 

He swallowed hard, working his mouth up for some saliva that he might use to ease the desert of his throat. 

He took ten more steps before he once more dropped his bags wearily to the ground. His crossbow lay like some burdensome anchor. He sank into his heels and let himself lean up against the tree. Jeram fell for a minute into a short nap before snapping awake. He dug his already dirty fingers into the soft soil, rich and pleasing to the touch. 

He seemed to wake up then. With a fist full of soil he took up his bags again and walked uphill. The soil was more moist the further he went and even once or twice he saw a trickle of water moving the soil around like a child's finger in a plate of sand. Slowly, slowly, he followed it until he came to a small clearing. 

Once more Jeram dropped his bags and rushed forward to the entrance to the spring. He drank and drank until he felt bloated. Nearby was a small waterfall falling from a cliff not much higher above, dropping its waters into another trickle of dirt-moving water, and next to that was a small pond fringed with duckweed. Jeram sighed. Right next to the pond was a tree that looked to have excellent shade. 

Jaram dropped himself on the lush and flowering grass and fell to sleep. The night was cool and pleasant and the morning was cold. His worries were only a constant noise that played in the back of his mind. In the front of his mind he was happy, because no matter how hard they searched, his hunters would never find him here. 

Jeram was rifling through his bags, searching for a pot to stew his last potatoes by when he heard a shuffling and a loud splash. He whirled around and for a moment he thought he saw a great white fish jump into the air from the duckweed pond. He straightened and put his cap over the gnarled mess of his hair. He wondered how good a pond fish of that size would taste and even how much it would cost as he approached the water. He stared into its murk, trying to see past the glare of the sun and the little ripples that spread to the very edges of the pond. 

He thought he was dreaming when his eyes spotted the image of a ghost, sinking, its arms reaching out to the surface as if beckoning him to dive in...

He turned away and looked back but the ghost was still there...

He scoffed. He did not believe in spirits. And even if he did he wasn't going to go jumping after one...

The ghost began to disappear into the murkiest depths of the water. Three air bubbles floated to the surface of the water. A sign: it was a sign. A thing of legend. He laughed at himself. The wind pushed at his back. No, he thought, there is nothing...

Another large air bubble breached the surface. At least for the fish, he thought as he threw off his hat. At least for the thrill. 

The End

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