I'd run up against a wall with this story, but now I'm back on a roll!
Title: Harvest Quest Chapter 4
Series: Another Life
Everyone had gathered around the table to prepare for the travels before them. The people of Tarvos, once they’d heard of the journey that Joel, Teegan, and Lars were embarking on, had sent provisions of food and fuel. The Historians who had come the night before were helping to pack the satchels.
Joel reached out to grab a round loaf of brown bread when he bumped into Teegan. His sub had been a constant by his side. Joel turned his head and gently kissed the young man on the head. He looked around and noticed that Enoch hadn’t moved more than a foot away from his doms, Chandir and Wryn. Astrid, the spit-fire sub of Nica, Kyra, and Sophie, was sandwiched between the three women. The subs needed the closeness of their doms this morning.
The night before after everyone had left, Joel and Teegan discussed the journey that was before them. However, they exhausted the topic of going back to earth in short time. They didn’t have enough information and Joel stopped them from speculating. Despite the late hour, Teegan asked if they could finish their earlier discussion. The paddle that Chandir had made for them had been christened.
Using an implement of punishment for the first time had been an emotional milestone in their relationship. The link that Joel shared with Teegan was pulsating between them. Joel could feel the small pain that was left from the paddling the night before. But it was the calm that engulfed Teegan that settled Joel as well. He was finally free to let his dominant, protective instincts guide him.
“You have seven days of provisions.” Chandir’s voice interrupted Joel’s thoughts.
“Seven days? That won’t even get us to Kajov,” Joel said. Before coming to Gliese, Joel’s constant companion had been hunger. He refused to let his love feel the pain of not having enough food. “Our own journey took weeks!”
Lars laced his satchel as he said, “You were first at Kajov. That is the village where you first came to Gliese. We must go to Avaskara. The village of Historians that lies just over the first ridge of the mountains. A day’s journey.”
“But only if we hurry. A storm is coming,” Wryn cut in.
Astrid, still surrounded by her dominants, spoke quietly. “The warriors are well known for their courage and strength, but the journey ahead is treacherous. I mean no offense, but....” Her voice drifted off as she pointed to the metal blades that Lars stood on.
Joel glanced around the room. Those gathered had been closing their bags and satchels but paused to hear Lars’ answer. All except Chandir, who was removing the bags that Enoch had put over his shoulders.
“I can carry them,” Enoch protested. Then quickly fell silent and relented at the stern look of his dom.
“Do not fear, I will not put Joel or Teegan in danger,” Lars answered Astrid’s unspoken question. “The blacksmiths who designed and made my legs are masters of their craft. I’ve become as accustomed to them as you have your own limbs.”
Joel knew that Lars would not hinder them. He’d spent many an afternoon watching Teegan in training. Lars was his squad leader and had surprised Joel with his agility. Joel had asked Teegan about the lithe warrior. Teegan had told of a fierce battle when a race of invaders had come to take all that was Gliese. The warriors of Tarvos had defended the planet, but in the battle, Lars had lost both of his legs. In the score of years since Lars had worked with the metal workers to make the artificial limbs that he now wore. The grace and strength that Lars exhibited had amazed Joel.
“He will be an asset to those who are going,” Chandir stated. “Time is growing short. We must take our leave now.”
Everyone bundled up in woolen coats and thick leather boots. The icy wind took Joel’s breath away when he opened the door. He gave a wink of encouragement to Teegan as they walked through the village. Despite the cold, many residents had come out to say farewell and good speed.
Just past the village the mountain range started. The ridge they would cross wasn’t too steep, but in places, the trail narrowed so that they had to climb in single file. He climbed carefully behind Teegan. Joel wanted to be able to catch his sub should he fall. Lars was in front of Teegan and showed great dexterity navigating over the rocks. The women were right behind Joel. Chandir was in the lead position with Enoch sandwiched between him and Wryn. Even with three people between him and Enoch, Joel could hear the small’s sub’s labored breathing.
As Joel gave a silent thank you to the wise stars above that the younger, weaker sub would not be going back to Earth with them, Chandir called out.
“We will take our rest there.”
Joel looked to where Chandir pointed. A small overhang of rocks would shield them from the cold winds. In the middle of a group of large rocks was a fire pit.
Enoch’s soft words carried on the wind and Joel heard him argue with his dominant. “We don’t need to stop. I’m not tired.”
Then Joel heard the unmistakable sound of a hand landing sharply on a backside. He felt sympathy and understanding flow through his link with Teegan. The subs understood each other’s needs almost better than the dominants did.
Upon reaching the outcrop of rocks, the travelers let their satchels drop to the ground. “If you would light a small fire, Wryn, Nica and I will prepare a small lunch.”
While they prepared the meal, Chandir firmly steered Enoch to a rock. The commanding dom pointed to the rock. “Sit.”
Once Enoch had sat down, Chandir turned to Joel. “Lack of nutrition and ash from the volcanoes has taken a permanent toll on his health. He tires easily. Even though you didn’t suffer as much as my agape, you too should rest. Your journey will not stop when we reach the village.”
Joel nodded and obeyed Chandir. Giving the larger dominant a puzzled look, he sat down beside Enoch.
“He sounds much worse than he really is,” Enoch reassured him. “He feels so strongly. His dominance flows throughout his whole body.”
“Yet, he listened to me in the cottage,” Joel said, trying to understand Chandir.
“Of course he did. We were in your home. Chandir would never undermine someone in their own home.”
Joel nodded again. When Enoch started to cough, he handed him a flask of water. The cool liquid seemed to soothe the other man’s raw throat. Chandir strode over to them and rubbed Enoch’s back.
“We are halfway there. Take some of the soup Nica and Kyra have warmed. It will give you strength to finish our travels.”
They all sat around the small fire letting its heat warm their feet and hands as the soup warmed their insides. Joel could feel the thick broth fortifying him for the rest of the trip. He could feel Teegan through his link and felt love swell inside him. He looked over at Lars, who nodded in understanding. The journey ahead of them was filled with the unknown, but Joel didn’t fear. With the help and friendships of those around him, they would not fail.
End chapter 4.
You can read more about Gliese and the inhabitants on the Another Life Blog.