Title: Harvest Quest Chapter 5
Series: Another Life Harvest Quest
The weary group of travelers entered the Historian’s village well after night had fallen. The storm that had been following them hit with force as Chandir offered Joel, Teegan and Lars safety in his cottage. They hastily bade the women goodbye and hurried inside.
Dinner was eaten in exhausted silence. As soon as the bowls were rinsed out, Chandir led Enoch into their bedroom, while Wryn settled Lars, Joel, and Teegan.
“The storage loft is fine, Wryn,” Lars assured Wryn. “I’m a warrior. Quit fussing. I’ve slept standing against a rock.”
“Oh, yes. The big bad warrior who can....” Teegan’s voice trailed off as tiredness overtook him and he couldn’t remember what he was going to say.
Joel took his sub’s shoulders and turned him into the room that they would sleep in. “I think it best you wait until you are rested before you try to tease the big, bad warrior.” Then dropping his voice so that only Teegan could hear him, continued, “And maybe wait until your hind-side has healed from its meeting with the paddle.”
The sound of the other’s men laughter dimmed as Joel shut the door. He watched as Teegan fell face first on the bed. The journey here had been long and difficult. Climbing over large boulders as the cold wind bit at their faces. He wondered how Enoch had survived it. He also wondered how Teegan’s backside was. The night before Joel had used an implement on his sub’s butt. The long hike might have made it worse, and Joel wanted to reassure himself.
Walking over to the prone man, Joel turned him over and started to disrobe him. Teegan moaned out his disagreement. “I can sleep in my clothes.”
“You can, but you will not. I would see how your backside fares.” Joel felt a slight warmth in his own butt as Teegan used the last of his strength pushed their link. “Yes, I can feel how it is, but I want to see it.” He pulled off the leather boots and then wrestled the trousers down. Turning him back on his stomach, he saw Teegan’s cheeks held a pink blush, but there was no bruising. Joel gave the tempting sight a pat. “Climb under the covers.”
As Teegan did what was ordered, Joel shed his own clothing. The cottage held a small chill, but the heavy blankets would keep their bodies warm. Nothing reassured Joel more than the skin to skin contact with Teegan. Gathering his sub in his arms, exhaustion claimed them both.
Joel woke the next morning tangled in Teegan’s arms. The deep breathing and soft snore assured him that his sub was still sleeping soundly. He also heard muffled voices coming from the kitchen. Quietly slipping out of bed, Joel dressed and went out to see if the others had started planning their voyage back to Earth.
He took in the scene before him in the kitchen. Wryn was at the stove stirring something in a large pot. Lars was sitting at the table buckling his legs on. The two men were talking as quietly as they could, but their deep voices carried a long way. As soon as he shut the door of the bedroom behind him, Wryn turned to face him.
“Enoch overexerted himself. He is struggling for each breath.” Wryn nodded to the table. “Please, fill yourself with the dried fruits, cheese, and bread. As soon as I’m finished with this I’ll escort you to Albric’s cottage.”
“Is that plantain herb?” Joel pointed to the pot that Wryn was stirring.
“Yes. The herb helps with the respiratory system. Did you use it on Earth as well?”
Joel shook his head. “No. So many of the plants had died long before I was born. But during my studies in agriculture, I read about medicinal plants.” He’d had a small interest in the healing properties of plants, but he concentrated on food production. All around him, people had been starving to death. He wanted to find a way to grow food. Food to fill the belly. Crops that would yield large amounts. Large enough to feed a community. Everything had ended before he could find a way to fulfill his dreams. But now he had a chance to redeem himself. He would get the seeds from Earth. He’d grow the plants that had the necessary nutrients for him and Enoch and all the others who had come from Earth.
“When you return, I’ll teach you.”
Joel was overwhelmed at the offer from the other man. They’d just met the day before, but he was willing to teach Joel. “Thank you. I would like that very much.”
Before Wryn could respond, Enoch stumbled into the room with Chandir racing after him. “I have to say goodbye.”
Wanting nothing but to comfort the sick man, Joel tried to reassure him. “We are only going to meet Arvad. To talk to him about going back to Earth.”
“No! You will not return this day.” A coughing fit overtook Enoch. Wryn rushed to support him.
“Enoch is correct,” Chandir agreed. “Arvad is preparing and will be ready to leave when you arrive. You will need to take all the supplies with you now.”
Lars stood up. “Wryn, tell us the way to the cabin where Arvad lives. You should stay here where you are needed.”
Seeing the indecision on Wryn’s face, Joel added gently, “Wryn. A small walk across the village is nothing compared to what lays before us.”
The relief was on Wryn’s face for all to see. “Thank you. The distance isn’t far and Chandir would care for Enoch, but still, I would worry.”
Lars, Joel, and Teegan each took a turn to say goodbye to Enoch, then Chandir lifted him in his arms and took him back to bed. Wryn told them the way to Albric’s cottage as they gathered all their supplies. He hugged each one with a fierce protectiveness as they walked out the door.
The distance to the other cabin wasn’t far as Wryn had said. But the trail was slick from the ice that had fallen throughout the night. Their woolen cloaks kept the cold from biting their skin. Soon, the cottage that Wryn had described came into view.
The three men walked up a couple of steps to a small wooden porch. Before they could knock the door swung open. A stout, older man stood in the doorway. “Welcome. Please come in. Arvad is finishing his preparations for this journey,” the man said. “I am known as Albric. We’ve been waiting for you.”
Joel turned in puzzlement at Teegan. When Teegan shrugged he turned to Lars with a questioning look.
“The Historians know many things that are not shown to us,” Lars explained.
Albric impatiently waved them in the cottage. “The cold should stay outside. Please, come in.”
The three men stepped into the home. The room they stepped into was large with a stove on the back wall, a two-way fireplace on one wall, and a table in the middle of the room. There was also a man sitting in a chair facing the corner. When the man turned his head around, Joel could see he wasn’t much older than Enoch.
“I have not released you from your position. Turn back around.”
At Albric’s harsh voice, the young man whipped his head back towards the corner. “That is Perry. He is learning how to not yell in the face of his dominant. He is also learning that tantrums are for the very young.”
Joel nodded. He’d seen this done between couples. Being sent to a corner often led to a sub calming down enough to talk out his frustration.
A thin man came into the room carrying several satchels. “A vision came to Albric. The stars told him that you three would come and that we had a purpose to fulfill.”
“I want to go too.” Perry’s voice was full of fearful longing.
Joel watched as Albric and Arvad exchanged a full conversation with just a look between them. Then Arvad went to Perry. He pulled his sub up and into his arms.
“We’ve talked of this. Time has erased your tracks. You cannot go back. The stars have made their needs known. It was decided that the four of us would go. That is why they sent us to Albric.”
As soon as Albric heard those words, he walked over and embraced them both. Then Arvad stepped away from the two he loved and walked over to Joel, Teegan, and Lars. “I would prefer we take our leave now.” Arvad gestured to Perry in Albric’s arms. “This is harder on those who wait then for those who take action.”
Joel thought of Enoch and his despair earlier. He couldn’t imagine leaving Teegan behind. Arvad was right. The waiting would be harder on the ones who were anxiously awaiting their return.
“Come.” Albric took Perry’s hand and looked at the others. “We will take you to the cave.”
The cave that would help transport them to earth was a hundred yards behind their cottage at the base of a mountain. The short walk was made in somber silence. Fear did not accompany them, though. However, they were armed with determination and hope in their hearts.
At the mouth of the cave, Joel watched as Arvad hugged and gently kissed Perry. Then the man turned to Albric. “Keep him safe.”
“It will be done.”
Joel took Teegan’s hand in his own and walked through the rock opening. Once inside a shimmer of blue lights grew brighter and brighter. The beautiful sight took Joel’s breath away a moment before he fell into darkness.
End chapter 5
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