Better Safe Than Sorry

The Never Ending Quest - Episode 7130

The ridge marking the far side of the valley was just over a mile and a half away; she estimated from the size of the plume of smoke that it originated from a point several miles beyond the ridge and thus several miles into the Fens. There could be a substantial party of travellers for all she knew, though it seemed unlikely in such an out of the way spot. If it was a single person then, to risk drawing attention to their existence in this way, they must either be very confident in their ability to deal with trouble or else very naïve. If it was the result of confidence, then it could be Frederigo escorting Andrea, but she had thought that they would not risk pursuing her so closely before the third night had passed. As she watched, the smoke thinned and then vanished. The fire had been extinguished, and whoever had made it would no doubt soon be on the move again.

Astra decided that she dare not take any chances. She didn't know this region well; also estimating the distance of a plume of smoke was not easy. Whilst her best guess was that whoever had lit the fire could not reach her for well over a day, she was not prepared to bet their life on it. Even the hour or two that it might take to track down the remnants of her clothes, and more importantly her sword, might be time that she could not afford. She would have to manage without.

Descending to the floor of the valley, where the better terrain meant that she could travel more quickly, she started walking towards the valley's head, which appeared to be about ten miles away. When she got there, she would have to decide whether she had come far enough to be safe or to climb into the hill country beyond.

Having eaten well last night, Astra knew that she would not need to stop for a meal – not that she now had any supplies anyway – and the valley only sloped very gently upwards. Thus she expected to reach its upper end within at most three hours. She estimated that it would be about noon by then. It was a beautiful sunny morning, and had the circumstances been different she would have enjoyed the walk. Though she could not have had much sleep last night - wolves are nocturnal creatures, after all - she did not feel at all tired.

  1. She arrived at the head of the valley on schedule, and considered her next move.
  2. She had only covered a mile or so when she tripped in a hole hidden by long grass, badly spraining her ankle.

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JH (who saw a beautiful full moon rise this evening, but didn't howl at it)

1/21/2000 11:43:35 AM

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