Page 18

The sun glided across the blue sky peacefully as the map maker walked on. Occasionally its light would dip behind a large cloud and return again with its blazing heat. Balamor felt the sweat drip from his brow down to the tip of his stubby nose. He was panting heavily before he settled next to the river to refill on water.

His pack swung to his side, hanging from one strap around his shoulder. He rooted through its contents until he found his metal flask. Placing the leather bag down as he walked to the edge of the river. As Balamor drew closer to edge, the sound of the rapids grew louder. Water splashed up in short waves at him, soaking his robes in spots.

He dipped his empty hand into the rapids and wiped his face clean. The tired hobbit let out a breath after he shoveled a gulp of water to his mouth. He was lucky to be traveling along the Faric, as nasty as it could be, it refreshed his dehydrated body. In fact, it was the first time he had a drink all day; he forgot to fill up on water before he left, but he wasn’t willing to make the same mistake twice. He looked down at the flask while undoing its hard leather capping when something interesting caught his eye. As he rotated the flask he saw small indentations etched out in the sunlight.

He held the flask closer to his eyes to make out what these engravings were, a large gasp was followed by a question.

“Runewords? How did I miss this?”

He analyzed the flask further and saw there were six symbols which he had never seen before. Balamor wasn’t sure why they were on this flask, but he didn't have any way of figuring out their meaning. His only interest was getting enough water to hold him off for the rest of the day. He skimmed the surface of the water with the flask, the heavy rapids poured into its mouth. He wondered why the waters of the Faric were so ravenous. It was something that even eluded his grandfather, along with many other southlanders.

Balamor watched the river flowing by for a few moments before removing the flask and taking a swig. He flipped the leather capping back over the mouth of the metal container; studying the slight impressions of runes words wondering what they meant. His fingers rubbed up against the cold metal as he pondered on the idea. He had a feeling he would get to the bottom of all this soon enough. The symbols disappeared as the afternoon sun fell behind a large cloud, the breeze brushed between his robes freezing the sweat on his skin. His body shivered as he tucked the flask away in his pack, the cold night would only grow colder without a fire.

His hand rested on his brow, shielding the light from the sun as it descended the western sky. He couldn't locate the next crossing down the river, his travel seemed much longer than it appeared on his map. His hand dropped along with a drawn out sigh of dissatisfaction, he needed to settle down for the night and try to sleep in this wilderness. It seemed impossible since his encounter earlier, he would be completely vulnerable if he were to be found by by more highwaymen, or even wolves. But his body was exhausted from the journey thus far, further travel must wait till sunrise.

The End

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