A Snowy Luncheon

The sun was passing over head, lazily rolling, touching the top of another mountain in the west when Folruth stopped. He held his hand out, stopping her like a fence would as she had yet to notice. She raised her head.
“Look” he whispered, pointing ahead at a small family of mountain lions. “That’s the autumnal king that is. He keeps the open parts safe. Why don’t we wait for he and his family to pass. Would you like something to eat? It’s a good time tae rest. Ferynia gave us a pail.” He lifted a pelt from a cloth covered bucket much like the ones used in the pig pens in Uluur. If anything was universal it had to be buckets.
Rigmol made a sound at Folruth, biting his hair tie and pulling it away.
“Alright alright, I stole it! I’ll return the favor. Need I remind ye tha she stole Amryth’s heart and left me with a sore brother for a year when she joined the nunnery?” He put his hands on his hips and leaned forward to look up at Rigmol.
“You talk to Rigmol?” Clemnilshala asked, raising an eyebrow.
“He started it this time, lass.” He took his cloak off and folded it over so that he could sit on the snowy path. “Nae lets see wha Ferynia had stored fer us taeday.”
He shook his head at a parchment note that was folded and stuck into an apple.
“She’s cursed me,” steam came from his breath with his quiet laughs. The hair that rolled over his shoulders now that his hair tie was confiscated looked so soft. “But she’s left us with mushrooms, bread, butter, and aha, what is this aubergine aaaaaand tomatoes.”
He picked up a violet item.
“Reckon she misses Amryth nae that he’s a good painter?” He shook his head. Clemnilshala listened along reaching slowly, waiting for any permission or at least for him to turn away for just a moment so that she could steal the pilfered produce. Folruth watched her closely as she took a piece of bread for herself and scooted backward to sit on the blue saddle blanket in the snow.
“Yer nae going tae get walking very far with jus’ bread. It aint good fer a person tae just live on bread alone.” He pushed the bucket forward. “You’ll dehydrate without any of these things. I insist”
The force of which he pushed the bucket startled Clemnilshala.
“Ah. Yes sir.” She eyed him and looked at the food.
“At least butter.”
She picked up a square piece of butter and looked to him for a kind of approval, wherin he took the aubergine and scooted back, cutting it open with a knife. The butter was hard but melted in her fingers like oil frozen for traveling. She put the piece of butter in her mouth and ate it whole. The salty flavor put a smile on her face, she reached for another piece of butter and ate that too. She took a bite of bread. It had herbs in it! It was inside the bread! Not layed on top with oil! How ingenious this was. She took a third piece of butter and put it in her mouth and took another bite of bread. The bread caught in her throat and she sputtered and coughed, reaching for one of these water flagons she uncapped it and pulled as much of it into her mouth as she could. This water burned and hurt. It was spicy! She pursed her face and looked to Folruth who had jumped to his feet in the commotion.
The spicy water was still in her mouth.
“Yer goin’ tae have tae swallow tha or let it go.” He said, approaching the sled to dig around in what was left for a small pot of a black tarry liquid and a spoon.
Clemnilshala squeezed her eyes shut and willed herself to not be rude enough to spit something out and swallowed it. Its burning warmth flooded her chest in a way that she imagined the roots of trees. Spreading like fiery rivers. Her mouth however remained on fire and tender.
“Here try this” he scooped a spoon ful of the substance. It clung to itself, pulling in its viscosity. She took the spoon from him and injested the stuff. It was too sweet too sweet indeed. But somehow it quelled her tongue and cheeks. She looked Folruth in the eye.
“What was that?”
“Heh, soremash. It aint whiskey yet. But its good fer cold days like this. It warms ye from the inside and fills ye with the energy to get tae where yer goin, even in the night time.” He explained, taking a long drink from the same water skin, and following it immediately with a spoon full of the tar. “Et’s molasses, makes the bread sweeter. Makes everything sweeter. Except for Rigmol there. Nothin’ will make him sweeter.”
There were little grains of sugar, sharp and fine, against Clemnilshala’s tongue. She rubbed it against the roof of her mouth while he talked finding this very slight discomfort amusing. She ate more of the bread. Deciding it was dangerous to eat both bread and butter at the same time, perhaps this was why it was only oil that was allowed to be put onto bread at a time. She ate a fourth piece of butter which only amused Folruth further. He never said anything about what had given him that breathy laugh. But he seemed to laugh at quite a lot of things.
“Ye like et huh?” he said opening up his bread and taking the solid piece of butter in his fingers and rubbing it on the exposed crumbs. Clemnilshala nodded. Butter, she though, was as good as that soup.
“When was the last time ye ate, lass? Before Ferynia took care of ya with the soup?”
Clemnilshala pulled her head back, thinking hard. How long was it? She counted on her fingers, his brow only furrowing closer and closer together the more fingers she put up while she thought. She never ate the elk that bled on her. Perhaps the last time she truly ate was twenty four days ago. In the lower mountains in a human village. Though the more worried Folruth looked the more she feigned she was thinking. She held up an open palm to say it was five days prior.
He never pressed the matter, but somehow she knew that he knew she lied. No one ever said a word about it for as long as she knew the mountain.

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