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Tale of Three Travelers
“Thank you so much Mrs. Larm, you've been such a help.” as he said this Noom caught a glint of gold being pressed into the women's’ frail hand. Without another word he cast a glance to her to follow as he headed for the main door. They were outside again. The noise hit Noom like a thunderclap. This world frightened her, but she refused to show it. Catching up to Archer as he turned down another one of his “secret passageways” she tried to stay near him. He knew this place better than all of them. If anyone could protect Noom and Ezra it was Archer Rain. She grasped Ezra’s wrist as Archer quickened his pace even more. It was still pouring, and the small shops and buildings provided little protection against the harsh rain. ‘ It’s February, but still it wont snow. what’s with this damn weather?’ When given the chance to look up, the only thing that could be seen were black clouds and more rain. After a half an hour of walking uphill against the freezing wind, Archer stopped them at the top of a steep street. The very edge of the city. He turned, and with solemn eyes, pointed at the churning sea below. It was a sight to see. Far of in the distance an angry grey horizon screamed and wailed at the land, lashing out with great white arms at the small dark figures atop its’ waves.
“Something is coming Noom.” Archer spoke in a ghostly trance. His eyes were pitch black with a thin strand of gold surrounding his pupil as he stared at his home.
“Archer.” Noom warned, “We’ll catch our death out here” She had to shout as a gust of wind blew down the empty street.
“We still have hours to travel before we make it to the fort!” When this didn't work, she grabbed hold of his hand and started to drag him along. His cold grip tightened around hers as soon as he felt it. He was in front of her in another moment pulling her closer and closer as they went on. Still holding Ezras’ wrist the three finally left the city.
* * * * *
The thick branches covered them from the harsh storm as they traveled through the familiar woods. The sounds, scents, and sight of the trees set Noom at ease. They were on an incredibly faint path. Everything around them was covered in vibrant green plants. Every log, rock and tree trunk had thriving moss and large mushrooms attached. She was home. Archer no longer lead the way. It was Noom who traveled in front now. Archer may have known the Port like no one else, but no one would know the forest like Noom did. The squash squash squash of their footsteps turned into a rhythm that they all followed through the long hours that they traveled. The rain never hinted at halting when they finally stopped to rest. Ezra collapsed at the base of a tree as soon as Archer managed to coxe Noom into letting them stop. Looking around anxiously Noom sat down between Ezra and Archer at the base of a great tree. Pulling off her pack she retrieved a few pieces of bread and cheese she had packed for the return journey.
“Here” she muttered holding the scraps out to Archer, them turning to Ezra to give her sister her own ration.
“Don't.” Archer said. “Take mine, I had those cookies before you arrived, besides, I haven't seen you eat all day.”
“I’m fine,” She retorted, “Besides I packed this with you two in mind so just eat it so we can get going again” She didn't look into his eyes. She knew if she did the argument would be over and he would have won. Keeping her head down she zipped up the pack and put it back on. The bread was still in his limp hand.
“Eat.” she demanded in a flat tone.
“You.” He took her hand and placed the pittance of food in it. With the other hand he pulled her head up by the the chin so she had to look into his eyes. Furrowing her brow she pulled away and begrudgingly wolfed down the bread and cheese. Next to her Archer laughed quietly. They sat in silence until Noom got up and started pacing back and forth again. When the cold finally roused Ezra to consciousness they were off once more. No one held any ones hands now.To cold, to quiet. They were close to the fort, but the storm would not budge even after two hours of marching through the forest. The giant trees that surrounded them were like family members to Noom. So familiar. The closer they got to the fort the faster she walked. Anxious to get home. Racing through the exotic dew covered underbrush she glanced back to see Archer and Ezra entirely soaked. They looked like they’d been in a freezing lake. ‘Do I look like that?’ she questioned herself. Waiting for them to catch up she looked down at her hands. They were pruned as if she had been swimming for hours. Archer reached her first
“Damn Noom!” He yelled over the howling wind, ”Your lips are blue! We need to get you somewhere warm, or you're gonna catch pneumonia.” He shouted as he pulled his thin army green coat closer to him. With his free hand he took hold of hers’ and started to pull her along.
“Ezra!” Noom screamed over her shoulder. “Esra come on! catch up already!” Then Archer was dragging her on. The storm seemed to have reached it’s climax, wailing and and pitching the great branches above. The forest in front was barely visible through the pelting rain. They had been walking almost fifteen minutes when she saw it.
Their tree, their home. She would have spotted it anywhere. The immense tree, like all others surrounding it, and making up the great forest, reached almost one kilometer up into the dark sky. Nothing could keep Noom from that tree. She broke into a blind sprint, leaving Archer and her sister behind her. Running through the brisk forest air, with the freezing rain beating on her upturned face, she felt alive like never before. She reached her tree and slumped down on it. Her back against her home she giggled and waited for her companions. All her clothes were soaked through to her undergarments.Her hair was dripping wet, yet she did not feel the cold. Out of the mist came Archer, stiffly walking toward her with a look of astonishment on his face. Trailing right behind him came Ezra with a damp, angry looking Quall nestled into her jacket and under hair. Her entire body was shaking like a little earthquake was taking place within.
Noom couldn't help but giggle even more at this sight.
“You know” Archer confessed, “I’m started to think you really are insane” Brushing a pile of leaves away at the base of the tree he took out a pocket knife and cut a hidden rope. At first there was silence as they all waited, then Zzzzzzzzzzwiip. From above came wooden platform attached to two strong lines of rope that ascended up and out of site. Hopping up from her sitting position she beamed down at Ezra, then looked up at Archer.
“You ready” She whispered to him with a bit of a crazed look in her her bright sapphire coloured eyes. He simply returned the look with a nodded and took her hand as he jumped up onto the shaking platform. Ezra was already sitting patiently in the center, nursing to her soaked and angry token. Taking another rope in his hand, Archer severed it with one jerk of his strong hand. In the next moment, they were flying through the rain. The world around them blurred into vibrant greens and grays as they sped up ward. Wind whipped and wailed in their eardrums and past their faces. Nooms’ stomach churned and jumped down at the exhilarating speed. She had never traveled as fast as she did with Archer. Her heart raced not only because of the speed and height, but how close he was to her.
“We’re close!” He shouted over the roar. He stood with one hand above his head, holding and steadying the rope, and the other dangling loosely at his side, still carrying the pocket knife always and keeping his face turned upward despite the stinging rain. Noom gazed at him. Searching. For what? she asked. She didn't know exactly. He had always been somewhat of a mystery to her.Something inside him puzzled her still. A flame, all of his own, that remained just as a flicker at the brim of his consciousness, lurking and waiting for the right moment to reveal itself. It was ominous in some way. Ominous like the power within Noom. Her mind jumped back to reality as the pulley started to slow, stopping at a small porch peaking out from overhanging branches, scattering and blurring her train of thought to the point of losing it entirely. The rickety piece of wood came level with a worn porch and immediately, Ezra jumped off with an indignant little grunt. Following her came Bracken, whipping his majestic tail to and fro in the hope of relieving it of the water that clung to the fluffy thing. Slowly stepping off the platform with a smile on her face, Noom admired the small fort. It was nothing more than a bunch of planks nailed together with a window or to for light, but it was home. Esra and her had pieced it together, and later improved it with Archer after finding the perfect spot up among the great trees. The door had been scraped off of an abandoned house down in port, and screwed in to fit the fort. She marked how it hung only slightly to the right along with the rest of the house as she walked toward it. Chipping, sky blue, and so inviting. Before she could grab the rusted door knob, she was picked up and throw over the back of Archer who had snuck up behind her
“Come on!” He laughed. “ You're gonna die out here before you make it inside” running into the now open doorway with light feet, he spun her around before setting her on her makeshift bed. Collapsing next to her, the two dissolving into a fit of hysterical giggles. Esra revealed herself from behind the open door and came toward the pair.
“ He got you good! Nom Nom!” she giggled, “ You should have seen your face. You tensed up and everything!” She said as she hopped into a defensive stance to mimic her sister. The three sat for a while, reflecting, and resting their tired limbs until Noom stood. Still holding her stomach from the laughter, Noom strode over to her sister and inspected the girl.. Pinching her sleeve and holding it up, she watched as it dripped to the ground.
“ You've gotta go change” she declared as she crossed her arms, “ You to.” turning to Archer, ”I’ll get a fire going while you do.” she said picking up a few sticks that lay by the small wood stove.
“ No way” He protested, “Have you seen yourself? You look like you're about to keel over from exhaustion! Your entire body is shaking Noom!” She knew there was never an argument with Archer, and if there was, he won. Sighing, she surrendered the bunch of twigs to him and went to her small room to change. The fort barely had three rooms, the biggest being the main one with which there were meals, and warm welcome fires. Once inside the big blue door, you would have to stoop to walk in the little area, dodging stools, and sleeping bags along the way. To the right of the makeshift living room slouched a miniature doorway which led to Ezras’ small lavender lodge. To the left was the same door with a tattered blue cloth hanging by two small thumb tacks. This was Nooms’ room. With the low ceilings painted with detailed clouds and the walls made to resembling the forest that surrounded their small fort, this place was her haven. One window on the far side of the wall stood opposite from the small entryway, throwing strange shadows on the floor as lightning from the raging storm flashed outside. Brushing aside the curtain, Noom entered and made for a corner of the room that. On the floor lay a dilapidated grey-green coloured backpack. Sighing, she unbuttoned it and reached inside for her change of cloths.