Chapter 6: Graeme’s Guide to Travel

Scrambled bannerMany have dared to venture out from the comfort of home, leaving the couch for the great beyond, exploring the borders of their land, their kingdom, their continent even. The world is a vast and interesting place and you’ll never see it unless you take some initiative. Before you set out, there are a number of things to consider and look out for, certain pitfalls that every traveler will come across:

First, consider the length of your journey. Will you be leaving on a short visit to a faraway town? Are you wandering for a month across the land? In 1157, I left Skadi, a small town on the outer edges of the Kingdom of Kli, and have never looked back, moving wherever it seems the Gods will me. This tome was written sitting in the shadow of Mt. Kulu, a mountain I would say is the largest in the world, but I would not have seen it had I not departed for the Dark Continent. When I finish writing it, I shall continue to travel. When I die, it shall be mid-step on the path to another new city, if I have any say in the matter. The length of your journey will determine every other factor of your preparations. Additionally, consider what you will be packing your supplies in. If you have a cart, you can bring a number of bags. If you are on a short journey, pack a small sack. In general, I suggest a satchel that can be slung over the shoulder: light, spacious and it can be moved around to reduce soreness.

Next, consider transportation. While this might seem like one of the easier decisions to make, you should not take it lightly. I personally departed from home on foot, and while the experience was rich and rewarding, I would have preferred to jump on a farmer’s cart and see where it took me. Where you are headed will have a large impact on what mode of transport you take; it makes little sense to try and drive a cart across the ocean. Ensure that your transport is properly equipped and prepared for the journey: if going on foot, wear sandals or boots; if driving a cart, make sure the spokes are tightly fixed; and if sailing a boat, check the sails.

“Argh! How does this thing work!” Shem threw the spear and sail down on the deck, his anger dying out over the endless sea. Wiping the sweat from his brow, he reached over the side and scooped up some water, splashing it on his face and shivering from the sensation. His skin had become severely reddened by the sun, even the slightest touch sending him into a fit. “Whoever decided to travel like this must have been an idiot. How are you to move this damn thing without any wind?”

“Why don’t you jump in and push us? I’m sure you’ll be able to move us somewhere,” Dego suggested. Dangling his arm over the side, he splashed around until Silverhide popped up out of the water, shooting a thin jet of water from its mouth and hitting Dego squarely between the eyes. “Hey!” He shouted, smacking the water as the serpent disappeared back into the depths.

Shem peered over the side, the sheer darkness sending a shiver up his spine. “I’m sure the wind will pick up at some point.”

“How brave of you,” Tulla said, drawing her knife along the length of a fish and letting the guts spill out on the bottom of the boat. Without a second thought she picked up one of the organs, gave it a quick pinch between her fingers and then promptly tossed it in her mouth. As she chewed she deboned the fish, separating out the meat until she noticed that Dego and Shem were staring at her with thinly veiled disgust. “What?” She asked. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing,” the pair said, quickly looking back out at the water.

“How anyone can travel in this, let alone live on it, is beyond me,” Shem muttered.

 

Next, consider supplies. If you have already sorted the first two factors, this should be an easier part of the process. No one needs to carry a full cow’s worth of steaks with them if they are journeying to the next town for a two day visit. In fact, bringing any food at all would likely be a foolish endeavor. The smartest thing to do on shorter journeys is to bring money and buy your supplies where you go. If you are taking a longer journey, you might want to practice your hunting to help reduce spending and the amount of food you bring with you. Even if you are as skilled as the Long Armed Hunter himself, bringing some prepared food is always a good idea. Some days, the deer aren’t grazing and the fish just aren’t jumping.

 

Dego poked the fish flank, his face drooping with disappointment. He crushed it up in his palm, shoved it in his mouth and swallowed the portion whole. “Is that all?”

“Hey! If you wanted more food, you shouldn’t have eaten everything on the first day!” Tulla sliced her portion into thin strips, eating a couple of them and wrapping the rest in a small skin. “If you had eaten what I told you to eat, we would have plenty of food still.”

“I didn’t eat all of it. Shem ate just as much.”

“Did not! Your stupid pet ate it.”

“Silverhide didn’t eat any of it. He’s only been eating what he catches.” The boy gave a whistle, splashed the water again and kept his arm in the water so that Silverhide could slither up into the boat. “Although I wish he would catch more…”

Clothing should be similarly planned out, but unlike food you can wash and reuse whatever you bring, so even if you have only two pairs of pants that should be enough as long as you wash often enough. After food and clothing and money, there are a number of things you might want to consider bringing along with you. Personally, I believe that every traveler should have a small knife with them. This is one of the most useful tools: food preparation, self-defense, and if things are dull you can whittle a keepsake. I would also suggest bringing matches with you. While they are not inexpensive, they are cheaper than buying a fire gem and it is helpful to be able to start a fire at a moment’s notice. I once found myself in debt to some questionable characters, and if I had some matches I would have spooked their horses and run.

A journey is a wonderful thing. Some say that the destination is all that matters, but from my own experience I can say that the journey is well worth the effort. The people you can meet, the things you will see, they will change you, transform you into a better person. Traveling with friends is an option, but keeping the same company will eventually become bothersome. I would advise against it.

 

“Move over Dego. Your feet smell terrible.” Shem swatted the sweaty soles away, dipping his hand into the water and giving it a quick shake.

“Did…did you just wash your hand? Because you touched me?” Dego took Silverhide by the head and squeezed, forcing the creature’s jaw open and placing it around Shem’s toes. When the serpent bit down, Shem let out a shriek that made everyone jump.

The boys stared each other down, edging away and putting as much distance between them as the boat allowed. Tulla rolled her eyes and turned over, covering her bare shoulders with her deer skin.

“I wish I had never gotten in this stupid boat with you two.”

One final note: Beware the weather. The Gods are a fickle sort and their creation is no different. One moment the sun will be shining, the next you’ll find yourself in the middle of a downpour.

 

“Those clouds don’t look good.”

“What clouds?” Dego turned his head and quickly turned it back. The horizon was covered in a thick black line that was quickly rolling in overhead. “Put the sail up! Put the sail up! I can already feel the wind picking up!”

Scrambling as quickly as possible, Dego and Shem got the spear planted in the boat and buckled down. At first, the wind began to push them ahead of the oncoming storm, but the clouds began to quickly overtake them. The sky rumbled and Dego could not help but mutter a prayer to the Sage of the Seas. He was not the biggest believer in the goddess, but he had never been a boat before either.

The waves grew larger and larger, rocking the boat from side to side until it eventually tipped over, spilling the trio into the water. Struggling to the surface, Dego poked his head out for a moment before a wave crashed on his head and buried him under. His eyes stung, but he tried to see if he could spot his friends but the water was too dark and turbulent.

On many occasions, Dego had wondered how he was going to die. Most scenarios involved an animal tearing him open in one way or another; several involved rival tribes killing him as an act of war against his father; he was ashamed to admit that he had considered the fact that his father or even Shem would kill him out of sheer anger one day. Never did he think he would drown in the middle of the sea.

As the world began to fade he finally was able to make out the faint image of Silverhide as it slithered through the water to him, its head twisting around before it swam away. The boy cursed his pet silently. 

A moment later, a shrill sound entered Dego’s ears and as the world faded he could swear he saw something massive and dark approaching from below.

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All these thoughts...in my head! I need to get them out!

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