“Are you alright?” Adam’s voice broke through Sarah’s pain.
Her head was slowly returning to normal and Sarah looked up to see Adam kneeling before her looking concerned. She took the proffered canteen and drank some water. A few sips and a couple deep breaths later, she gave a little laugh.
“I don’t think they’ll let me handle it.” She shook her head and slowly rose to her feet.
“Who?” Adam asked as he rose to his feet as well.
Sarah sighed. No matter how she tried to phrase it the words wouldn’t come out. Not to mention that headache was threatening to come back. She looked at Adam who looked confused.
“I can’t say.” Sarah she confessed with a slight smile. “It’s sort of a condition for my being here. Certain topics, and apparently items as well, cause massive headaches. Phoenix might be able to explain it better.”
“He’s not who, is he?” Adam jumped to a logical conclusion.
“No,” Sarah had to laugh. “Now if you could just show me the Splinter again I’ll get us back on track.”
Sarah made sure she only looked at the Splinter before leading them off in the appropriate direction. They continued on for a while at a leisurely pace. After all she was scouting, which meant keeping her eyes and ears as open as possible. Not to mention it was tough work to do that and make as little noise as possible. When they paused for their mid day meal Sarah had another thought.
“If we got close enough to another base camp, would the Splinter then point to that one?”
Adam laughed. “That would make this test too easy.” He continued to smile, “No it only points to your base camp, or, if you're close enough, other members of your troop.”
“Interesting,” Sarah took another swig from her canteen before closing it up. “Well let me see it again and we’ll be off.”
She wished she could handle the splinter herself and know more about how it worked. Unfortunately, given that touching it had given her a migraine, having it explained to her was probably futile. That didn’t keep her from thinking how ingenious the contraption was. No matter how badly she screwed up the actual route Sarah was now confidant in her ability to return to Base Camp.
They made their way through the woods in relative silence. Sarah would occasionally ask to see the Splinter though most of her time was spent trying to find the fine balance between covering ground and being observant. Not to mention it was tricky to walk quietly, seeing as autumn had arrived and the leaves had begun to fall.
Adam, of course, made no move to converse with her. He too was observing the world around them. It made Sarah wonder if there was something out here that she had to find, or avoid. Then again they were to be out here for five days, so maybe she wasn’t supposed to see anything yet. Sarah tried to shake her fear of missing something important. It was not helping her nerves for Jason’s career depended upon her success.
As the sunlight began to dim, Sarah turned her thoughts to looking for a resting spot. “So how likely are we to be bothered by wild animals?”
“Probably not much at all.” Adam shrugged. “Certainly no need to sleep in a tree if that’s what you were asking.”
Sarah stopped to fill her canteen at a small stream that ran along the forest floor. As she looked up she spotted an out cropping of rock that looked as though it would make an excellent shelter. She approached it cautiously and found no animals, or signs of animals around it. She raised an eyebrow at Adam, who simply nodded.
As night descended upon them Sarah made the tiniest of fires in a sod pit. It had been a little hard to do without a shovel, but she managed. Adam might not have said anything, but his face clearly showed his dislike of the idea; until he came back from reliving himself.
“I couldn’t hear or see your fire,” he muttered as Sarah piled some stew into his shallow bowl. “Never had hot food while away from base camp before.”
She smiled and carefully smothered the fire with dirt before setting the piece of sod back on top. Camouflaging the fire’s existence Sarah tamped the sod down gently and spread some of the forest litter over it. She was used to camping out in the wilderness without creature comforts, but a warm dinner had always been insisted upon by her father, whether or not fire was allowed where they camped.
Crawling under the overhang, Sarah noted there was just enough room for the two of them to rest. “No watches?” she whispered, as Adam wrapped himself in his blanket.
“Not unless you’re a heavy sleeper,” was his quiet reply.
Sarah settled herself in and found sleep easier to come by than she’d expected.