I paused in the street, searching for danger. I smelled
frost on the night air, and … “Sssh. Is that footsteps?”
crunch. The sound of boots on frozen snowpack. That could only mean
I spun in all directions, looking for signs of someone
approaching, but saw nothing.
“Invisible foes?” Jexica asked.
“Flyers?” suggested Caltrop.
“Flyers no walk,” Mulk reminded us all.
Crunch, crunch, cr-
The noise stopped as suddenly as it had started. I fingered
my weapon, expecting death to reveal itself momentarily. The silence drew on,
eerie and nerve-wracking. Eventually we relaxed. “Maybe it was the ghost
footsteps of some lost soldier?” I lowered my weapon and the rest of the crew
adjusted their stance, prepared for doom within the half hour but not within
the minute. Wort tightened some flaps on his pack and stood straight.
“Okay,” I said, “We’re going to do a loop to the north.”
“Edda?” asked Caltrop.
“Shadow Run. Edda’s got the guardian statues. I’m still not
ready to fight that ogre again. Let’s square up and-”
“There it is again!”
“Mmmf-hmmf mrr mmf?” said Wort.
The half-dwarf held up a hand: smack, smack, gulp. “What
could it be?” Wort said, before taking another bite of cracker. The source of
the munching and crunching was now obvious.
“What are you eating?”
“Sorry. Waybread. Gotta keep my strength up.”
“It hasn’t even been two hours since dinner.”
“Really? It feels like I’m starving every time we go out. My
stomach starts growling, ‘Brown-bearded dwarf is very hungry!’ and if I don’t
eat I feel like I’m going to just collapse in the middle of a fight.”
“There’s no way you’re going to starve. Come to think of it,
I’ve been out on five-day expeditions and we never bothered to bring any food
at all. Just eat when you get back to the Guild, or grab a snack if we pop into
a bar for a refreshing drink.”
“But we’re fighting, and you need energy to heal.”
“We pay for magical healing, Wort.”
“Yes, but what does the magic act upon? Your body! And your
body needs food even for magical healing. Or so I’ve been told.” He looked
around a little shiftily.
“Look, if you insist on eating, can you pick something that
doesn’t make so much noise? Maybe a nice sandwich. Untoasted. Without any fresh
“But regular food spoils in the wild. You need dried goods
if you want them to last.”
“In a few hours? At these temperatures? If I
don’t have time to get hungry, the food doesn’t have time to spoil. Try a piece
of jerky, if you have to.”