Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Tale for Winter. Part Two.

“Ayyyyyiiieee!” Cried Itty Bitty, “Faster! Faster!” They crashed thru the underbrush hot on the heels of fleeing prey. “Faster!”

Zander stormed thru the Deep Woods at full speed. He dashed through the low hollows and thundered up the hillsides. Their hunt had been glorious. Now that the day was nearly done they had just one more kill. A huge buck had dodged the arrows of the archers but Zander and Itty Bitty were running him down.

Bitty held on for dear life as the wind pulled at her coat, the cold air washing over her. Never in her life had she flown so fast. She ducked low but refused to close her eyes fearing she would miss a minute of this wondrous day. The low brush raked over her and she had to loosen her grip a few times to guard against a stray branch. She could hardly believe everything that had happened.

“We're gaining! We almost have him!” She cried. She could hear Zander's hard breath and heavy footfalls as he closed the distance to their prey. Bitty tucked low between Zander's huge ears. She was holding fast as she rode the enormous warrior like a great mount.

Suddenly a low branch appear. It was too low. She screamed.

Earlier that morning she awoke in a soft bed of fine furs. She was warm and dry and clean. She thought she was dreaming.  But then one of the serving ducks appeared with a candle and a tray of food – strong broth, bread, meat, and warm milk. Bitty had never seen so much food for a week let alone for a single meal. And it was all for her. Not long ago she has been in rags and scavenging for scraps of food - now for the first time in her life she was safe, warm, and well fed.

Someone had also brought some clothes for her. She held them, admiring them for a long time. They were so beautiful... there was no way she could risk ruining these fine clothes while hunting. She would wear them for dinner when they returned, she told herself. Until then her tattered jerkin would have to do. She cleaned it as best she could. Little did she know that Lucky, the Master of the House, had commissioned an entire wardrobe for her.

Little Mo had come by her quarters as she was making her fine bed. It never occurred to her that servants would come and tidy her chambers after she left. He said the hunting party would be leaving soon and they were to meet in the courtyard. She hurried after him. He noted that she did not wear her new outfit but said nothing. Perhaps this was too much change for her at once, he thought.

Bitty was amazed when they got to the courtyard - there was so much activity! Horses and riders, warriors from many Lands, and an enormously fat courtier named Sir Nicholas who was being hoisted onto a sturdy mount. She watched wide eyed not entirely sure what to do. She stayed close to Little Mo but kept enough distance so that she was not in the way.

A large party of warriors emerged from the Great Hall led by OFG. She was laughing with the one they called Col Ti. He seemed gruff and stern but his hard eyes softened when he talked with his liege. He was always on guard though, scanning the crowd, assessing the situation for any danger. Bitty stood at the fringes watching and listening. She was excited to be part of something so grand...but unsure of her part.

“Hello!” Said a familiar voice. Bitty spun around and looked up.

“Zander! Good morning, I'm so happy to see you. I'm not sure what I should be doing here...there's so many people. I... I...” She said.

“Well then, you should come with me.” He said and he picked Bitty up and put her on his shoulder. “Now you can see everything. Hold on tight.”

Bitty held fast to his thick mane and looked around at all of the incredible sights. Zander started toward OFG and her party – mostly her personal guard and some warriors Bitty did not know. She had met so many people last night. Many greeted her as they paid their respects to their Commander. After their performance in the Great Hall everyone was used to seeing Bitty with Zander and they acted like it was perfectly natural that she should be sitting on his shoulder peeping around his ear.

A groom held her mount as OFG adjusted the saddle. Just as Zander and Bitty were about to bid her good morrow a runner approached OFG, bowed, and then whispered something to her.

“Oh by the heavens!” OFG said angrily. She nodded to them, “Zander, take the hunting party out. I'll catch up if I can. There's been some trouble at the Healer's Hall.” She turned and walked off scowling and muttering something about how she would “shackle him herself” if Shine didn't stay there. Little Mo hurried after her.

Word came late the night before that the Assassin Shine had indeed been very ill. He suffered a festering wound on his foot. The Healers were not entirely sure how he could even walk. Anyone else would barely be able to move. Because of the wound Shine also had a fever illness. He was given strict orders to stay in bed and receive treatment. But like most warriors he thought such things were unnecessary and tried to leave and return to his post out past the Eastern Gate. The Healers had to call OFG to order him to take the treatment. Everyone knew she would stand guard over Shine herself.

The hunting party set out. The sun shone brightly on that crisp late fall day. The damp earth beneath their feet smelled of a thousand autumns. Bitty noticed how lovely everything looked when her belly was full. Previously her everymorning was just cold and difficult. She studied the scenery and everything happening around her. Zander's fur smelled like the first snow of the season. He must have been out earlier, she thought. She pulled herself closer to him, trying to feel comfortable being up so high. She was used to being on the ground. Sensing her unease, he patted her reassuringly.

A Hunter's horn alerted them that game was close. The party raced in the direction of excited shouts.

“Hold on, Bitty! Now you will feel the thrill of the hunt! Hold on!” Said Zander as he broke into a fast trot, his huge shoulders rolling beneath her.

The chase, the excitement, the skill of the Hunters – it was all amazing to her. At mid day the bearers set up a sort of camp and there was even more food. She should not believe it. The warriors and the hunters made hearty talk and told tales. They seemed to include her but she felt nervous with so many people around. She was no one and here she was, a friend of the Good Land, and personally escorted by it's crown prince! Zander was well loved by all, she could tell by the way the looked and talked to him.

The day held many surprises, including that the fat Sir Nicholas was an astoundingly good hunter. He had taken several smaller game and birds. However, he needed the bearers to retrieve his kills. Mostly he harrumphed and sat his mount awkwardly...but when his eye was on the mark he turned into the most graceful hunter.

As the afternoon waned another large party rode up. It was led by a beautiful and fierce looking she-warrior. She was flanked by some tough looking men at arms all bearing the same insignia.

“Sister!” Said Zander greeting the Princess Kai. The Princess and her personal guard joined the hunting party, calling greetings and mixing with the others. Kai had laughing eyes but every move she made was intentional.

“So. This must be your new friend, Zander?” Said the Princess looking suspiciously at Bitty. Bitty pulled even closer to Zander and tried to hide herself behind his huge ear.

“And your friend too, Sister.” Reminded Zander firmly. He looked at her hard. She returned the look with a bit of a smirk.

“Stags! Stags afield! Mount up!” Called one of the scouts. Both Zander and Kai abruptly turned toward the sound of the other Hunters. The party started to break and move toward to the woods.

Kai's eyes lit up. “Shall we then? I bet I'll get one before you!” She smiled broadly then turned yelling instructions to her men and then she was off.

The chase, crashing thru the underbrush, the too low limb. Bitty screaming. A tumble. Zander landing with a thud.

Zander shook his head and sprang to his feet.

“Bitty! Bitty! Where are you? Are you all right?” He called looking around frantically fearing she was hurt. “Itty Bitty!”

“I'm... I'm up here!” Came a voice some distance away.

Zander looked up. Bitty was far above him in the canopy of an enormous tree. She clung to a branch and looked terrified.

“Funny girl... come down.” He laughed a little at her being so far up. It was a huge tree and she was up it many times his height.

“No! No! I... I can't! I'm afraid!” She started to cry. She had no idea how she had gotten up so high. She jumped to avoid being swept off Zander's back by the branch, landed on the tree truck, and scrambled in panic. And now here she was...very, very high up clinging to the tree. “I can't... I can't get down.” She mewed pitifully.

Hearing his voice yelling the Princess Kai went looking for and found her brother. He was standing at the base of a huge tree pleading with someone. When Kai followed his sight line she saw the small cat who had previously been riding on his shoulder a very long way up that huge tree.

“Have you lost your parrot, Brother?” She asked coyly.

He gave her an annoyed look. “I don't know if she can come down. Look how high she is.” Bitty was still crying.

“Quit crying and come down here this instant!” Ordered Kai. Bitty only cried harder.

“Not helping, Kai....” Said Zander. He sighed. “She's not coming down. We need help.” He huffed. “And someone needs to tell her.”

“Who? Mother? Oh please let me be the one. Please.. please....” Kai's eyes glinted the way they always did when she wanted to make mischief. “No, really... I can't wait. This will be great.” Kai readied her weapons and motioned to her men to mount up. “And don't worry, I'll send reinforcements...” Then Kai and her men headed back to the Great Hall at a fast pace. Zander could hear her laughing as she left.

Zander loved his sister very much but she had no patience for weakness in others. He knew that she thought if Bitty got up there then she could get back down. On her own. But not everyone was blessed with Kai's natural skills and stubborn confidence.

Bitty, in fact, would not come down. Nothing anyone said or did could convince her. When they were more insistent she became more afraid and climbed higher. The rest of the hunting party had gathered and they had set up camp. This time a real camp with fires and tents. It seemed they might be there a while. They had even cleared a wide area around the huge tree.

Fast riders came with orders from OFG that Bitty should come down out of that tree immediately. Faster riders returned with news that Bitty would not come down. Eventually Little Mo and Lucky arrived. By then the camp was a lively place with big bonfires, fresh meat turning on spits, and merry making. The musicians had even come from the Great Hall. Then the courtiers and mere onlookers. OFG sent riders on the hour demanding updates. She could not leave the ailing Shine for fear he might worsen...or try and leave. Shine's condition was very grave.

Zander had not left the base of the tree. From time to time they could hear Bitty crying. He knew she was probably cold and hungry.

“So. Brother. How is your little bird?” Kai had returned. She looked smug but then saw his concern and changed her tone. "Don't worry, Zander. We'll get her down. Somehow."

Her men scattered thru the camp seeking food, bloodwine, and company. The camp had turned into a all out feast. There was singing and dancing, games of chance and skill, from time to time a ruckus cry went out indicating a winner or loser.

A small group stood with Zander at the base of the tree discussing what to do. Nothing they had done worked. They tried to lure her down with food to no avail. If they tried to send a rope up to her, Bitty just became more frightened and climbed higher. It would take weeks to try and build some kind of structure to get to her. By then it would be too late. They needed to do something immediately.

“That is an impossible height. How did she even get up there?” Said Lucky, “No one is crazy enough to climb up there”

“Well...” Said Little Mo, “There is one...”

“You can't mean...” Said Kai incredulously. “No no no no... he is mad. A stark raving lunatic. And besides he won't help. He is insane.”

“He might... it could work.” Said Zander. “If we can find him.”

Little Mo nodded, “Send riders, the fastest - with extra horses. He will be with Moose the White. You know the inn.” 


Heather said...

Oh thank you! I'm home sick with the flu and this made my day!!!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Oh no, Heather! I'll have the Part 3 up later this afternoon. Hope you feel better.

Heavens Door Acres said...

Oh poor, poor Itty Bitty. I just know OFG will save the day...I hope!

David said...

From NM - on the edge of my seat.

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