Day 2 – A New Friend
We made camp at the end of the day yesterday north and west of Port Birchorf and between the coastal beaches to both the north and the south. We’d walked almost a stone’s throw from the farm early in the day. I failed to mention that in my entry yesterday.
Part of the gear I’d packed included a simple bedroll, so I used that and my back as a pillow. It wasn’t the most comfortable night’s sleep I’ve ever had, but the bedding was serviceable.
The real issue was my excitement. It hasn’t worn off yet, and I found myself awake for much of the night despite my physical fatigue. It didn’t help that there were strange noises everywhere.
We guards (I’m a guard now) are to spread out along both side of the caravan so that there will be one or more of us close to hand if the cry goes out that there’s trouble. There are a handful of more experienced warriors heading us up, and they rotated through patrols last night. They haven’t talked to me yet, and I get the impression that they will keep mostly to themselves.
I did, eventually, manage to sleep.
A little before dawn I woke to a very strange sensation. My pack seemed to be moving on its own. I thought I’d imagined it, so I rolled over, pulled it further under my head, and tried to go back to sleep. I almost made it back to dreamland when the pack again shifted under me.
Certain that it moved this time, I lifted my head and finally saw the source of the confusion. There was a stray dog a few paces from the bag and watching me warily.
“Ah hah.” I whispered. “I seem to have discovered a thief in the night!” I slowly sat up, trying not to spook the poor thing. I suspected I knew its target. I opened my pack and dug out a couple pieces of the dried meats my Mom had packed for me. The dog watched me with impressive levels of focus. I put the remainder back in its wrapping and then back in the backpack. Tearing the first piece in two, I threw a piece to the dog. It jumped back from it at first, but slowly approached as it sniffed at the morsel. Then, all at once, it dove at the piece, snapped it up, and bounded back a couple of paces where it chewed the tough spiced meat. “Good stuff, huh?” It was looking at me expectantly the instant it swallowed the jerky.
I threw the next piece a little closer to me as I heard others in the camp beginning to stir.
We repeated the process a few more times as the camp was coming to life. My new little friend seemed to be getting progressively more nervous as those around us grew louder and moved about.
I pushed my luck a little with the final piece. I threw it pretty close to myself and reached out my hand to pat the dogs head. It had stopped jumping away when it retrieved the pieces.
It curled back its upper lip, baring its teeth and I hear a low rumble of a snarl as I moved, but I didn’t stop. I slowed my movement and calmly and quietly replied with “It’s okay buddy. I’m not going to hurt you. I just want to…”
I yelped slightly as its jaws snapped shut on my fingers and the dog bounded back and away from me. I heard chuckling coming from somewhere nearby.
The bite didn’t really hurt so much as it just startled me. Okay, it stung a little, but not a lot.
“Fine. I see how it is.” I stood up and slung my bag over one shoulder and the dog moved further from me, but I noticed, not out of sight. I made my way to find one of the senior guards to ask what I should be doing.