Chapter 1: Of Friends and Sheep
Rolan lifted the awkward-shaped water skin to his dry lips and removed the cork stopper. Patin glared at him and yelled to hurry up.
Rolan shoved the stopper back in the skin and hurried across the field of sparce grass. Patin picked up his willow wand and started after the fat grey sheep "You didn't have to wait.
" Patin did not answer but just flicked a dawdling sheep with the wand.
Rolan tapped Patin on the back with his own stick even as the pair of them passed through the gate of the pen and into the cool shade of the trees.
Patin whipped around and smacked Rolan's hand with the wand. Rolan jumped back and shook his stinging hand back and forth.
"Hey! That was too hard!" Patin, snickering, opened another gate along the path and directed the baying sheep into the pen.
"Hey Rolan..." said Patin. "Yeah?" asked Rolan. "...Father probably won't expect us back for a while.
You wanna see something me and Rya found a few days ago?" Rolan hesitated, "Will it be like the swamp?" Patin snickered again. "No, this isn't a joke.
We actually found something neat when you and Father went to sell those sheep.
Rolan felt slightly hurt they had gone on an adventure while he had been leading smelly sheep toward the butcher's shop.
Something of his thoughts must have shown on his face because Patin smacked him on the arm and closed the pen behind the last of the sheep saying, "Calm down.
I wouldn't have gone but Rya had taken her father's bow and I really wanted to try using an adult bow." Patin looked slightly sheepish which surprised and gratified Rolan.
Patin rarely felt remorse for anything. "Okay, I'll come but I think we should ask Rya if she wants too as well.
" Rolan could tell Patin had heard but he did not respond only grunted and increased his pace.
Once they had exited the leafy wood Rolan and Patin took a sharp right turn toward their home and the road to the village.
As soon as they saw their father's log cabin Patin broke into a run toward the path to the Village Road, leaving Rolan to convince their father to let them off work the next day.
Rya's farmstead lay halfway down the road, almost a mile away, but Patin was fit and a fast runner so Rolan was sure they would be there soon.
Rolan walked slowly over to their father, who was sharpening an axe on a granite grindstone under a wooden awning that jutted out to the south.
Vard Bondenson lifted his axe from the spinning grindstone and yelled at Rolan to fetch him a rag. Rolan pulled a kerchief from the inside pocket of his jerkin.
Vard grabbed the kerchief and ran it along the blade of the axe.
Taking the dirtied kerchief back Rolan opened his mouth to begin what was destined to be an awkward conversation when Vard raised his hand.
"Whatever you and your brother are praying I'll agree to let you do tomorrow, you can." Rolan was surprised but waited to see if his father would elaborate.
"I have to go help your aunt and uncle fix their pen gates. Fendor Blakkson used pegs instead of nails and the gates collapsed in a storm a while back.
I didn't expect you back for a while but if you wait for your adventure 'til tomorrow Rya can go with you and you take anything you want into the forest for a night.
" Rolan let a huge grin curl his face and rushed forward to hug his father. Vard wrapped his arms around Rolan and said, "Be careful. And make sure Patin doesn't get too carried away."