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Chapter 8 of Jucy and the Barbarian

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  • Herod Antipas
    I think you all have been good boys and girls and deserve chapter 8. After her very difficult time in chapter 7, Jucy has her moment in the sun so to speak
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 31, 2005
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      I think you all have been good boys and girls and deserve chapter
      8. After her very difficult time in chapter 7, Jucy has her moment
      in the sun so to speak and shows us what she is made of. Let me
      know if the logistics work for you here, in terms of what really
      happens in the action. I think this would all work

      H.A.


      Chapter 8

      By Herod Antipas 2005

      The princess and the barbarian camped out one more night at
      the very base of the Furiant Mountains. Gwig had managed to hold
      onto their map, through their various travails, and, according to
      its directions, the range could be crossed in a single day by using
      a certain pass. Nevertheless, he wished to start first thing in the
      morning to allow for any unforeseen circumstances. Once again
      Jucunda slept in the small tent while Gwig huddled in a blanket,
      his back to a moss-covered boulder.

      Jucy had been sulky and ill-tempered since meeting those
      ruffians in the village square and would not discuss her ordeal
      further. Perhaps she was ashamed to have cried in front of him a
      second time, perhaps it was embarrassment over the way she had
      hurled herself into his arms when he came to her rescue, or perhaps
      she simply had not recovered from her ordeal. The fresh distance
      between them plagued him. They had been together so much these past
      few weeks that he was now disappointed that she would not confide in
      him or even, he admitted to himself, cry in his arms again. It had
      felt fine to hold her and wipe away her tears, and trouncing her
      tormentors had been exhilarating, particularly after his failure to
      prevent the loss of their horses and baggage. If only she were to
      turn to him from her perch on the new mule. Even when he snared a
      large rabbit for supper, she ate only a few mouthfuls and retired
      early, leaving him frustrated and confused. He could see that she
      was sleeping fitfully though, causing the little tent to tremble as
      she rolled over and over, making little grunts and moans. Once,
      just as he was drifting off to sleep he was awakened by muffled sobs.

      "Jucy, are you all right?" he called softly. The sounds
      stopped abruptly and after a long pause he heard her say "'Tis
      nothing. Only a dream."

      ***

      Jucunda seemed in better spirits in the morning, although
      still quieter than her usual self. The morning was chill and there
      was a light frost on the ground and on Gwig's blanket and
      eyelashes. The mules handled the rocky terrain so well, however,
      that Gwig was almost grateful for the loss of their horses. The map
      he had been provided proved accurate in almost every detail,
      providing many landmarks, and steering them along a route that was
      mostly passable on muleback. As they ascended the range, the air
      grew ever colder and pockets of snow could be seen in the crevices
      of rocks and the lower boughs of the evergreens. They wrapped
      blankets around themselves and their breath came out in clouds of
      steam.

      "How do the new boots keep out the cold, Jucy?" asked Gwig,
      in an attempt to restart their usual banter. She surprised him by
      responding brightly.

      "Oh, they have turned out suprising well, but I would have
      gladly done without the right one, could I have left it planted in
      that village jackanapes' backside yesterday!" Gwig chuckled with
      relief. "By Crom, that's the Jucy I know! So you've recovered your
      sense of humor. I hope your appetite has returned as well, for at
      this pace, we'll be on the far side of the mountain by lunch."

      They rounded a turn by a stand of pines and stopped dead in
      their tracks. The path upward was completely blocked by an enormous
      rock fall. "Well," said Gwig, "that certainly wasn't on the map."

      ***
      They left the mules tethered under an overhanging cliff,
      where they could shelter from the wind and munch on their supply of
      bagged grain. Gwig and Jucunda were presently making their way
      through ankle-deep snow, searching for another way around the rock
      fall that the mules could traverse without breaking a leg.

      "Sense of humor still intact, Jucy?" he asked

      "Aye, but somewhat damp, like my boots," she replied,
      panting as she struggled uphill. "My appetite is still whole as
      well. Where is the lunch you promised me on the far side?"

      "We have leftover rabbit, smoked venison, rolls, hard
      cheese, and some mushrooms." She wet her lips. "All safely back
      with the mules." She shot him a black look.

      "Now that were just mean." Gwig shrugged by way of apology
      and pressed on uphill.

      "At least slow down!" Jucy protested, "Do I LOOK accustomed to
      this kind of exertion?"

      "Mayhaps you be built for comfort rather than speed, but it
      can't be helped. I don't like the look of the sky. We need to find
      another pass before…" There was a crash of thunder and fat
      snowflakes began to waft down out of the sky, which blackened
      rapidly. "We needs must turn back. The sky is getting too dark to
      see the landmarks properly and the snow will soon cover the terrain."

      "I can see the wisdom in that," said Jucunda, "but you are
      going the wrong way. That tree was on the other side of us."

      "It was not, Jucy. You are the one who is turned around."
      He put down his pack and pulled out the map again. "If you will but
      look at the map, here is that tall rock over there, and here…" The
      wind whipped the parchment from his hand. Gwig turned, darted after
      the precious map and promptly stepped off a cliff.

      Jucunda gave a cry of horror. She ran this way and that for
      a few seconds, breaking out in tears of panic. The snow was blowing
      around thickly now and she could see only a few feet ahead of her.
      Battling the powerful wind she advanced slowly to the spot where
      Gwig had disappeared. Somehow, she had the presence of mind to drop
      to her stomach and crawled the rest of the way to the ledge, in case
      the cliff was unstable. At last her trembling fingers grasped the
      edge and she peered over it, hoping against hope. Unbelievably,
      Gwig was lying on a small outcropping about twenty feet below her.
      He was not moving and his arms and legs were twisted at odd angles.

      While Jucunda shouted his name over and over, her cries lost
      in the roar of the wind, Gwig lay unconscious on the rocks below.
      He eventually became aware of something cold and wet on the bridge
      of his nose. His eyes fluttered open and again something cold
      splatted across his forehead. Jucy was pelting him with snowballs.
      He moaned and raised his head. He could just make out his
      companion's worried face through the snowstorm and his own muzzy
      vision. She was weeping freely.

      "You're alive!" she exclaimed, followed immediately
      by "Don't move!" Turning his head to the side, Gwig became aware of
      his precarious circumstances and the narrowness of the ledge upon
      which his life depended.

      "Jucy!" he called back, "I fear my left arm is broken, and I
      cannot climb. Go back to the mules before the snow obscures the
      way."
      "No! I'll not leave you!" she cried back.

      "Maybe you can return with help after the storm passes."

      "You will freeze to death in this weather, if that ledge
      collapse not beneath you first!" Gwig knew this was true, yet felt
      strangely calm. He could not feel his feet. He attempted a final
      protest.

      "Shut your hero's gob!" Something else hit him in the face.
      At first Gwig thought she had thrown another snowball, then realized
      it was actually the end of a rope.

      "Canst stop blabbering long enough to tie that round your
      waist?" He seized then end and began awkwardly tying it around his
      chest so that it looped under his armpits. He let out a short
      involuntary cry when he rolled onto his injured arm to get the rope
      around his back.

      "'Tis done. An you tie it to a tree it might keep me from
      falling, but without the mules, there is naught else you will be
      able to…" The rope grew taut and Gwig was astonished to find
      himself rising through the air. Jucunda had resorted to the simple
      expedient of throwing the rope over a stout tree branch and tying
      the other end around her own generous midsection. By simply backing
      down the steep hill she was using her greater weight to raise Gwig
      like the light end of a balance scale. When he reached the top of
      the cliff, Gwig grasped a rock and used his good arm to pull himself
      over the ledge, which had the effect of dropping Jucy onto her rump
      in the snow. The regarded each other in silence for a moment, he
      unsteadily on his feet, she, panting from her sitting
      position. "You just saved my life," he managed to get out, before
      dropping to his knees.

      ***
      When Gwig woke again it was dark and he discerned that he
      was somewhere out of the storm, as the wind was much quieter. A
      sharp pain shot through his left elbow when he moved it and the
      joint was swollen and tender, but he realized it was probably not
      broken after all. He was dizzy and nauseous and there was also a
      large lump on the back of his head. His eyes grew accustomed to the
      dark and he realized that, somehow, he had been gotten inside the
      small tent. The moon must now be out and very bright because he
      could make out the top line and posts. A pair of trousers was
      hanging from the low roof, his own. He reached up to touch them.
      They were sodden and icy cold. Under the two blankets he found he
      was wearing only his under tunic and breechclout. Suddenly the flap
      opened and Jucunda crawled in. She had piece of fabric draped over
      her neck. She rose to her knees and tucked what turned out to be
      her own wet gown up under the top line next to his trousers. She
      flipped back a corner of the blankets and slipped in next to him in
      nothing but her drawers and an abbreviated shift. Her rolls of
      flesh were unbelievably soft and her exposed thigh was warm and
      smooth against his leg. Agonizingly, Gwig pushed himself away from
      her, against the edge of the tent.

      "Don't be stupid," she said, not unkindly.

      "But I should not…" Jucy rolled over nearly on top of him,
      and flung her right arm across his chest. Her left leg lay heavily
      across both of his and her damp hair was in his face.

      "When you fell off the cliff, I got to thinking about what
      you said about royalty, how we were all descended from bold
      resourceful people who did what was necessary. Who knows what
      number of my queenly ancestors may have faced hardships even greater
      than being seen in their underwear?"

      "But…" She put her forefinger to his lips.

      "Primus: we have but two blankets between us and half of two
      were considerably warmer than one apiece. Secundus: should we try
      to sleep in our wet clothes, we'd be frozen solid by morning.
      Tertius: if we lie too far apart, we will touch the sides of the
      tent and wet our blankets, and lose the benefit of our shared bodily
      warmth. Since we needs must huddle together like dogs
      tonight, `twere better to be resigned to our fate. You know, Gwig,
      being a fat girl has not so many benefits, but insulation is a most
      welcome advantage tonight. Come now" She drew him closer into her
      pillow-like embrace. We'll say naught of it the morrow."

      "But how did I get inside the tent?"

      "I've watched you set this thing up enough times. I simply
      dragged you onto the ground cloth and pitched the tent around you.
      The map was stuck to your vest, by the by." Gwig put his right hand
      tentatively on her back, resting it on the small roll under her left
      shoulder blade. He thought to himself how very nice it was to have
      a fat girl around, advantages or no.

      "Jucunda, I don't know how to…" but it was too late. She
      was already asleep.
    • Herod Antipas
      Isn t anyone going to read this? If it s any incentive, Jucunda s nude scene is in the next chapter! ... moment ... using ... the ... perhaps ... past ... in
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 14, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        Isn't anyone going to read this? If it's any incentive, Jucunda's
        nude scene is in the next chapter!


        --- In Fantasy_Books@yahoogroups.com, "Herod Antipas"
        <antippas@h...> wrote:
        >
        > I think you all have been good boys and girls and deserve chapter
        > 8. After her very difficult time in chapter 7, Jucy has her
        moment
        > in the sun so to speak and shows us what she is made of. Let me
        > know if the logistics work for you here, in terms of what really
        > happens in the action. I think this would all work
        >
        > H.A.
        >
        >
        > Chapter 8
        >
        > By Herod Antipas 2005
        >
        > The princess and the barbarian camped out one more night at
        > the very base of the Furiant Mountains. Gwig had managed to hold
        > onto their map, through their various travails, and, according to
        > its directions, the range could be crossed in a single day by
        using
        > a certain pass. Nevertheless, he wished to start first thing in
        the
        > morning to allow for any unforeseen circumstances. Once again
        > Jucunda slept in the small tent while Gwig huddled in a blanket,
        > his back to a moss-covered boulder.
        >
        > Jucy had been sulky and ill-tempered since meeting those
        > ruffians in the village square and would not discuss her ordeal
        > further. Perhaps she was ashamed to have cried in front of him a
        > second time, perhaps it was embarrassment over the way she had
        > hurled herself into his arms when he came to her rescue, or
        perhaps
        > she simply had not recovered from her ordeal. The fresh distance
        > between them plagued him. They had been together so much these
        past
        > few weeks that he was now disappointed that she would not confide
        in
        > him or even, he admitted to himself, cry in his arms again. It
        had
        > felt fine to hold her and wipe away her tears, and trouncing her
        > tormentors had been exhilarating, particularly after his failure
        to
        > prevent the loss of their horses and baggage. If only she were to
        > turn to him from her perch on the new mule. Even when he snared a
        > large rabbit for supper, she ate only a few mouthfuls and retired
        > early, leaving him frustrated and confused. He could see that she
        > was sleeping fitfully though, causing the little tent to tremble
        as
        > she rolled over and over, making little grunts and moans. Once,
        > just as he was drifting off to sleep he was awakened by muffled
        sobs.
        >
        > "Jucy, are you all right?" he called softly. The sounds
        > stopped abruptly and after a long pause he heard her say "'Tis
        > nothing. Only a dream."
        >
        > ***
        >
        > Jucunda seemed in better spirits in the morning, although
        > still quieter than her usual self. The morning was chill and
        there
        > was a light frost on the ground and on Gwig's blanket and
        > eyelashes. The mules handled the rocky terrain so well, however,
        > that Gwig was almost grateful for the loss of their horses. The
        map
        > he had been provided proved accurate in almost every detail,
        > providing many landmarks, and steering them along a route that was
        > mostly passable on muleback. As they ascended the range, the air
        > grew ever colder and pockets of snow could be seen in the crevices
        > of rocks and the lower boughs of the evergreens. They wrapped
        > blankets around themselves and their breath came out in clouds of
        > steam.
        >
        > "How do the new boots keep out the cold, Jucy?" asked Gwig,
        > in an attempt to restart their usual banter. She surprised him by
        > responding brightly.
        >
        > "Oh, they have turned out suprising well, but I would have
        > gladly done without the right one, could I have left it planted in
        > that village jackanapes' backside yesterday!" Gwig chuckled with
        > relief. "By Crom, that's the Jucy I know! So you've recovered
        your
        > sense of humor. I hope your appetite has returned as well, for at
        > this pace, we'll be on the far side of the mountain by lunch."
        >
        > They rounded a turn by a stand of pines and stopped dead in
        > their tracks. The path upward was completely blocked by an
        enormous
        > rock fall. "Well," said Gwig, "that certainly wasn't on the map."
        >
        > ***
        > They left the mules tethered under an overhanging cliff,
        > where they could shelter from the wind and munch on their supply
        of
        > bagged grain. Gwig and Jucunda were presently making their way
        > through ankle-deep snow, searching for another way around the rock
        > fall that the mules could traverse without breaking a leg.
        >
        > "Sense of humor still intact, Jucy?" he asked
        >
        > "Aye, but somewhat damp, like my boots," she replied,
        > panting as she struggled uphill. "My appetite is still whole as
        > well. Where is the lunch you promised me on the far side?"
        >
        > "We have leftover rabbit, smoked venison, rolls, hard
        > cheese, and some mushrooms." She wet her lips. "All safely back
        > with the mules." She shot him a black look.
        >
        > "Now that were just mean." Gwig shrugged by way of apology
        > and pressed on uphill.
        >
        > "At least slow down!" Jucy protested, "Do I LOOK accustomed to
        > this kind of exertion?"
        >
        > "Mayhaps you be built for comfort rather than speed, but it
        > can't be helped. I don't like the look of the sky. We need to
        find
        > another pass before…" There was a crash of thunder and fat
        > snowflakes began to waft down out of the sky, which blackened
        > rapidly. "We needs must turn back. The sky is getting too dark to
        > see the landmarks properly and the snow will soon cover the
        terrain."
        >
        > "I can see the wisdom in that," said Jucunda, "but you are
        > going the wrong way. That tree was on the other side of us."
        >
        > "It was not, Jucy. You are the one who is turned around."
        > He put down his pack and pulled out the map again. "If you will
        but
        > look at the map, here is that tall rock over there, and here…" The
        > wind whipped the parchment from his hand. Gwig turned, darted
        after
        > the precious map and promptly stepped off a cliff.
        >
        > Jucunda gave a cry of horror. She ran this way and that for
        > a few seconds, breaking out in tears of panic. The snow was
        blowing
        > around thickly now and she could see only a few feet ahead of
        her.
        > Battling the powerful wind she advanced slowly to the spot where
        > Gwig had disappeared. Somehow, she had the presence of mind to
        drop
        > to her stomach and crawled the rest of the way to the ledge, in
        case
        > the cliff was unstable. At last her trembling fingers grasped the
        > edge and she peered over it, hoping against hope. Unbelievably,
        > Gwig was lying on a small outcropping about twenty feet below
        her.
        > He was not moving and his arms and legs were twisted at odd angles.
        >
        > While Jucunda shouted his name over and over, her cries lost
        > in the roar of the wind, Gwig lay unconscious on the rocks below.
        > He eventually became aware of something cold and wet on the bridge
        > of his nose. His eyes fluttered open and again something cold
        > splatted across his forehead. Jucy was pelting him with
        snowballs.
        > He moaned and raised his head. He could just make out his
        > companion's worried face through the snowstorm and his own muzzy
        > vision. She was weeping freely.
        >
        > "You're alive!" she exclaimed, followed immediately
        > by "Don't move!" Turning his head to the side, Gwig became aware
        of
        > his precarious circumstances and the narrowness of the ledge upon
        > which his life depended.
        >
        > "Jucy!" he called back, "I fear my left arm is broken, and I
        > cannot climb. Go back to the mules before the snow obscures the
        > way."
        > "No! I'll not leave you!" she cried back.
        >
        > "Maybe you can return with help after the storm passes."
        >
        > "You will freeze to death in this weather, if that ledge
        > collapse not beneath you first!" Gwig knew this was true, yet
        felt
        > strangely calm. He could not feel his feet. He attempted a final
        > protest.
        >
        > "Shut your hero's gob!" Something else hit him in the face.
        > At first Gwig thought she had thrown another snowball, then
        realized
        > it was actually the end of a rope.
        >
        > "Canst stop blabbering long enough to tie that round your
        > waist?" He seized then end and began awkwardly tying it around
        his
        > chest so that it looped under his armpits. He let out a short
        > involuntary cry when he rolled onto his injured arm to get the
        rope
        > around his back.
        >
        > "'Tis done. An you tie it to a tree it might keep me from
        > falling, but without the mules, there is naught else you will be
        > able to…" The rope grew taut and Gwig was astonished to find
        > himself rising through the air. Jucunda had resorted to the
        simple
        > expedient of throwing the rope over a stout tree branch and tying
        > the other end around her own generous midsection. By simply
        backing
        > down the steep hill she was using her greater weight to raise Gwig
        > like the light end of a balance scale. When he reached the top of
        > the cliff, Gwig grasped a rock and used his good arm to pull
        himself
        > over the ledge, which had the effect of dropping Jucy onto her
        rump
        > in the snow. The regarded each other in silence for a moment, he
        > unsteadily on his feet, she, panting from her sitting
        > position. "You just saved my life," he managed to get out, before
        > dropping to his knees.
        >
        > ***
        > When Gwig woke again it was dark and he discerned that he
        > was somewhere out of the storm, as the wind was much quieter. A
        > sharp pain shot through his left elbow when he moved it and the
        > joint was swollen and tender, but he realized it was probably not
        > broken after all. He was dizzy and nauseous and there was also a
        > large lump on the back of his head. His eyes grew accustomed to
        the
        > dark and he realized that, somehow, he had been gotten inside the
        > small tent. The moon must now be out and very bright because he
        > could make out the top line and posts. A pair of trousers was
        > hanging from the low roof, his own. He reached up to touch them.
        > They were sodden and icy cold. Under the two blankets he found he
        > was wearing only his under tunic and breechclout. Suddenly the
        flap
        > opened and Jucunda crawled in. She had piece of fabric draped
        over
        > her neck. She rose to her knees and tucked what turned out to be
        > her own wet gown up under the top line next to his trousers. She
        > flipped back a corner of the blankets and slipped in next to him
        in
        > nothing but her drawers and an abbreviated shift. Her rolls of
        > flesh were unbelievably soft and her exposed thigh was warm and
        > smooth against his leg. Agonizingly, Gwig pushed himself away
        from
        > her, against the edge of the tent.
        >
        > "Don't be stupid," she said, not unkindly.
        >
        > "But I should not…" Jucy rolled over nearly on top of him,
        > and flung her right arm across his chest. Her left leg lay
        heavily
        > across both of his and her damp hair was in his face.
        >
        > "When you fell off the cliff, I got to thinking about what
        > you said about royalty, how we were all descended from bold
        > resourceful people who did what was necessary. Who knows what
        > number of my queenly ancestors may have faced hardships even
        greater
        > than being seen in their underwear?"
        >
        > "But…" She put her forefinger to his lips.
        >
        > "Primus: we have but two blankets between us and half of two
        > were considerably warmer than one apiece. Secundus: should we try
        > to sleep in our wet clothes, we'd be frozen solid by morning.
        > Tertius: if we lie too far apart, we will touch the sides of the
        > tent and wet our blankets, and lose the benefit of our shared
        bodily
        > warmth. Since we needs must huddle together like dogs
        > tonight, `twere better to be resigned to our fate. You know,
        Gwig,
        > being a fat girl has not so many benefits, but insulation is a
        most
        > welcome advantage tonight. Come now" She drew him closer into her
        > pillow-like embrace. We'll say naught of it the morrow."
        >
        > "But how did I get inside the tent?"
        >
        > "I've watched you set this thing up enough times. I simply
        > dragged you onto the ground cloth and pitched the tent around
        you.
        > The map was stuck to your vest, by the by." Gwig put his right
        hand
        > tentatively on her back, resting it on the small roll under her
        left
        > shoulder blade. He thought to himself how very nice it was to
        have
        > a fat girl around, advantages or no.
        >
        > "Jucunda, I don't know how to…" but it was too late. She
        > was already asleep.
        >
      • Gloria & John Oliver
        Sorry I am over a week behind in emails and have not had time. Waaaaahhhhhh ... From: Fantasy_Books@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Fantasy_Books@yahoogroups.com]On
        Message 3 of 3 , Jan 21, 2006
        • 0 Attachment
          Sorry I am over a week behind in emails and have not had time. Waaaaahhhhhh
          -----Original Message-----
          From: Fantasy_Books@yahoogroups.com
          [mailto:Fantasy_Books@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Herod Antipas
          Sent: Saturday, January 14, 2006 11:29 PM
          To: Fantasy_Books@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [Fantasy_Books] Re: Chapter 8 of Jucy and the Barbarian


          Isn't anyone going to read this? If it's any incentive, Jucunda's
          nude scene is in the next chapter!


          --- In Fantasy_Books@yahoogroups.com, "Herod Antipas"
          <antippas@h...> wrote:
          >
          > I think you all have been good boys and girls and deserve chapter
          > 8. After her very difficult time in chapter 7, Jucy has her
          moment
          > in the sun so to speak and shows us what she is made of. Let me
          > know if the logistics work for you here, in terms of what really
          > happens in the action. I think this would all work
          >
          > H.A.
          >
          >
          > Chapter 8
          >
          > By Herod Antipas 2005
          >
          > The princess and the barbarian camped out one more night at
          > the very base of the Furiant Mountains. Gwig had managed to hold
          > onto their map, through their various travails, and, according to
          > its directions, the range could be crossed in a single day by
          using
          > a certain pass. Nevertheless, he wished to start first thing in
          the
          > morning to allow for any unforeseen circumstances. Once again
          > Jucunda slept in the small tent while Gwig huddled in a blanket,
          > his back to a moss-covered boulder.
          >
          > Jucy had been sulky and ill-tempered since meeting those
          > ruffians in the village square and would not discuss her ordeal
          > further. Perhaps she was ashamed to have cried in front of him a
          > second time, perhaps it was embarrassment over the way she had
          > hurled herself into his arms when he came to her rescue, or
          perhaps
          > she simply had not recovered from her ordeal. The fresh distance
          > between them plagued him. They had been together so much these
          past
          > few weeks that he was now disappointed that she would not confide
          in
          > him or even, he admitted to himself, cry in his arms again. It
          had
          > felt fine to hold her and wipe away her tears, and trouncing her
          > tormentors had been exhilarating, particularly after his failure
          to
          > prevent the loss of their horses and baggage. If only she were to
          > turn to him from her perch on the new mule. Even when he snared a
          > large rabbit for supper, she ate only a few mouthfuls and retired
          > early, leaving him frustrated and confused. He could see that she
          > was sleeping fitfully though, causing the little tent to tremble
          as
          > she rolled over and over, making little grunts and moans. Once,
          > just as he was drifting off to sleep he was awakened by muffled
          sobs.
          >
          > "Jucy, are you all right?" he called softly. The sounds
          > stopped abruptly and after a long pause he heard her say "'Tis
          > nothing. Only a dream."
          >
          > ***
          >
          > Jucunda seemed in better spirits in the morning, although
          > still quieter than her usual self. The morning was chill and
          there
          > was a light frost on the ground and on Gwig's blanket and
          > eyelashes. The mules handled the rocky terrain so well, however,
          > that Gwig was almost grateful for the loss of their horses. The
          map
          > he had been provided proved accurate in almost every detail,
          > providing many landmarks, and steering them along a route that was
          > mostly passable on muleback. As they ascended the range, the air
          > grew ever colder and pockets of snow could be seen in the crevices
          > of rocks and the lower boughs of the evergreens. They wrapped
          > blankets around themselves and their breath came out in clouds of
          > steam.
          >
          > "How do the new boots keep out the cold, Jucy?" asked Gwig,
          > in an attempt to restart their usual banter. She surprised him by
          > responding brightly.
          >
          > "Oh, they have turned out suprising well, but I would have
          > gladly done without the right one, could I have left it planted in
          > that village jackanapes' backside yesterday!" Gwig chuckled with
          > relief. "By Crom, that's the Jucy I know! So you've recovered
          your
          > sense of humor. I hope your appetite has returned as well, for at
          > this pace, we'll be on the far side of the mountain by lunch."
          >
          > They rounded a turn by a stand of pines and stopped dead in
          > their tracks. The path upward was completely blocked by an
          enormous
          > rock fall. "Well," said Gwig, "that certainly wasn't on the map."
          >
          > ***
          > They left the mules tethered under an overhanging cliff,
          > where they could shelter from the wind and munch on their supply
          of
          > bagged grain. Gwig and Jucunda were presently making their way
          > through ankle-deep snow, searching for another way around the rock
          > fall that the mules could traverse without breaking a leg.
          >
          > "Sense of humor still intact, Jucy?" he asked
          >
          > "Aye, but somewhat damp, like my boots," she replied,
          > panting as she struggled uphill. "My appetite is still whole as
          > well. Where is the lunch you promised me on the far side?"
          >
          > "We have leftover rabbit, smoked venison, rolls, hard
          > cheese, and some mushrooms." She wet her lips. "All safely back
          > with the mules." She shot him a black look.
          >
          > "Now that were just mean." Gwig shrugged by way of apology
          > and pressed on uphill.
          >
          > "At least slow down!" Jucy protested, "Do I LOOK accustomed to
          > this kind of exertion?"
          >
          > "Mayhaps you be built for comfort rather than speed, but it
          > can't be helped. I don't like the look of the sky. We need to
          find
          > another pass before…" There was a crash of thunder and fat
          > snowflakes began to waft down out of the sky, which blackened
          > rapidly. "We needs must turn back. The sky is getting too dark to
          > see the landmarks properly and the snow will soon cover the
          terrain."
          >
          > "I can see the wisdom in that," said Jucunda, "but you are
          > going the wrong way. That tree was on the other side of us."
          >
          > "It was not, Jucy. You are the one who is turned around."
          > He put down his pack and pulled out the map again. "If you will
          but
          > look at the map, here is that tall rock over there, and here…" The
          > wind whipped the parchment from his hand. Gwig turned, darted
          after
          > the precious map and promptly stepped off a cliff.
          >
          > Jucunda gave a cry of horror. She ran this way and that for
          > a few seconds, breaking out in tears of panic. The snow was
          blowing
          > around thickly now and she could see only a few feet ahead of
          her.
          > Battling the powerful wind she advanced slowly to the spot where
          > Gwig had disappeared. Somehow, she had the presence of mind to
          drop
          > to her stomach and crawled the rest of the way to the ledge, in
          case
          > the cliff was unstable. At last her trembling fingers grasped the
          > edge and she peered over it, hoping against hope. Unbelievably,
          > Gwig was lying on a small outcropping about twenty feet below
          her.
          > He was not moving and his arms and legs were twisted at odd angles.
          >
          > While Jucunda shouted his name over and over, her cries lost
          > in the roar of the wind, Gwig lay unconscious on the rocks below.
          > He eventually became aware of something cold and wet on the bridge
          > of his nose. His eyes fluttered open and again something cold
          > splatted across his forehead. Jucy was pelting him with
          snowballs.
          > He moaned and raised his head. He could just make out his
          > companion's worried face through the snowstorm and his own muzzy
          > vision. She was weeping freely.
          >
          > "You're alive!" she exclaimed, followed immediately
          > by "Don't move!" Turning his head to the side, Gwig became aware
          of
          > his precarious circumstances and the narrowness of the ledge upon
          > which his life depended.
          >
          > "Jucy!" he called back, "I fear my left arm is broken, and I
          > cannot climb. Go back to the mules before the snow obscures the
          > way."
          > "No! I'll not leave you!" she cried back.
          >
          > "Maybe you can return with help after the storm passes."
          >
          > "You will freeze to death in this weather, if that ledge
          > collapse not beneath you first!" Gwig knew this was true, yet
          felt
          > strangely calm. He could not feel his feet. He attempted a final
          > protest.
          >
          > "Shut your hero's gob!" Something else hit him in the face.
          > At first Gwig thought she had thrown another snowball, then
          realized
          > it was actually the end of a rope.
          >
          > "Canst stop blabbering long enough to tie that round your
          > waist?" He seized then end and began awkwardly tying it around
          his
          > chest so that it looped under his armpits. He let out a short
          > involuntary cry when he rolled onto his injured arm to get the
          rope
          > around his back.
          >
          > "'Tis done. An you tie it to a tree it might keep me from
          > falling, but without the mules, there is naught else you will be
          > able to…" The rope grew taut and Gwig was astonished to find
          > himself rising through the air. Jucunda had resorted to the
          simple
          > expedient of throwing the rope over a stout tree branch and tying
          > the other end around her own generous midsection. By simply
          backing
          > down the steep hill she was using her greater weight to raise Gwig
          > like the light end of a balance scale. When he reached the top of
          > the cliff, Gwig grasped a rock and used his good arm to pull
          himself
          > over the ledge, which had the effect of dropping Jucy onto her
          rump
          > in the snow. The regarded each other in silence for a moment, he
          > unsteadily on his feet, she, panting from her sitting
          > position. "You just saved my life," he managed to get out, before
          > dropping to his knees.
          >
          > ***
          > When Gwig woke again it was dark and he discerned that he
          > was somewhere out of the storm, as the wind was much quieter. A
          > sharp pain shot through his left elbow when he moved it and the
          > joint was swollen and tender, but he realized it was probably not
          > broken after all. He was dizzy and nauseous and there was also a
          > large lump on the back of his head. His eyes grew accustomed to
          the
          > dark and he realized that, somehow, he had been gotten inside the
          > small tent. The moon must now be out and very bright because he
          > could make out the top line and posts. A pair of trousers was
          > hanging from the low roof, his own. He reached up to touch them.
          > They were sodden and icy cold. Under the two blankets he found he
          > was wearing only his under tunic and breechclout. Suddenly the
          flap
          > opened and Jucunda crawled in. She had piece of fabric draped
          over
          > her neck. She rose to her knees and tucked what turned out to be
          > her own wet gown up under the top line next to his trousers. She
          > flipped back a corner of the blankets and slipped in next to him
          in
          > nothing but her drawers and an abbreviated shift. Her rolls of
          > flesh were unbelievably soft and her exposed thigh was warm and
          > smooth against his leg. Agonizingly, Gwig pushed himself away
          from
          > her, against the edge of the tent.
          >
          > "Don't be stupid," she said, not unkindly.
          >
          > "But I should not…" Jucy rolled over nearly on top of him,
          > and flung her right arm across his chest. Her left leg lay
          heavily
          > across both of his and her damp hair was in his face.
          >
          > "When you fell off the cliff, I got to thinking about what
          > you said about royalty, how we were all descended from bold
          > resourceful people who did what was necessary. Who knows what
          > number of my queenly ancestors may have faced hardships even
          greater
          > than being seen in their underwear?"
          >
          > "But…" She put her forefinger to his lips.
          >
          > "Primus: we have but two blankets between us and half of two
          > were considerably warmer than one apiece. Secundus: should we try
          > to sleep in our wet clothes, we'd be frozen solid by morning.
          > Tertius: if we lie too far apart, we will touch the sides of the
          > tent and wet our blankets, and lose the benefit of our shared
          bodily
          > warmth. Since we needs must huddle together like dogs
          > tonight, `twere better to be resigned to our fate. You know,
          Gwig,
          > being a fat girl has not so many benefits, but insulation is a
          most
          > welcome advantage tonight. Come now" She drew him closer into her
          > pillow-like embrace. We'll say naught of it the morrow."
          >
          > "But how did I get inside the tent?"
          >
          > "I've watched you set this thing up enough times. I simply
          > dragged you onto the ground cloth and pitched the tent around
          you.
          > The map was stuck to your vest, by the by." Gwig put his right
          hand
          > tentatively on her back, resting it on the small roll under her
          left
          > shoulder blade. He thought to himself how very nice it was to
          have
          > a fat girl around, advantages or no.
          >
          > "Jucunda, I don't know how to…" but it was too late. She
          > was already asleep.
          >






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