The weather was cool this afternoon as Sera trod silently through the forest bordering their new home. She could smell the changes in the season even, the heady aroma of already fallen leaves becoming fertilizer on the forest floor. So many think that Springtime is the most fertile season, but Sera argued that the Autumn was when that fertility began. She smiled when she came upon a small clearing in the trees where a herd of deer were grazing. They had not heard her approach, only lifting their heads in alarm when she came into view. The elf considered drawing her bow, but then thought We have stores enough for the coming winter. You don’t need to worry.” As if hearing her thoughts the deer put their heads down, resuming the urgent grazing to fatten themselves for the season of cold and scarce food.
Exploring their new world had been enjoyable for both the elves, their children now old enough that Sera and her mate could venture out without the entire clan in tow. Sometimes she left her husband to his tinkering though, and took paths through the woods on her own. She promised him she would not explore too far without him, that she would return if she found anything of interest. Zui often looked at her skeptically when she left alone, but he trusted her. She never explored too far without returning for him.
Leaving the deer behind in their clearing Sera moved on along the path she had found a few days ago while playing with their youngest in the woods outside their home. It was old, overgrown to be sure, but still noticeable to the huntress’ keen sight. As she walked she marked the path slightly, breaking branch tips carefully or gently lifting bits of bark away. It was a trail only the most experienced of trackers might find, and she knew her husband was among the best. If he came looking for her, he would be able to follow her path.
She heard the water long before seeing it, the soft rush of a stream moving lazily over rocks. Unable to gauge the time except by her own internal clock, which told her it was barely mid-morning, Sera decided it was late enough that she could pause for a small bite, and perhaps the stream would prove drinkable. Still following the path she found it edged toward the stream, and was delighted when she saw the sparkle of water through the old, mossy tree trunks.
Though now she had to veer from the path slightly Sera stepped through the trees and onto the stream bank. It was thick with lush green moss and edged with drying grasses. The stream itself was rather wide and shallow in this place, but her hearing could pick up the sound of roaring water not far upstream which meant it was likely deeper. Counting on her boots to keep her feet dry she waded a bit into the stream and found a stone she could mark this place with. The stone she chose was wider at one end, and somewhat flat, slick with the sort of algae that usually grew in moving water. She placed it carefully on the mossy bank, the smaller end pointing upstream, then headed along the bank in that direction.
She startled a few rabbits along the way, the small creatures come to drink from the stream where it formed small still pools. “No doubt the deer came here to drink as well,” she thought. As she moved upstream the roar of water grew louder and she began to recognize the sound: a waterfall. From the sound of it, she was either very close, or it was massive. She received her answer not long after that realization came to her.
Several huge stones remained immovable by the stream, and so formed a sort of pool where the water collected before becoming the stream which she had followed here. The stones were in a semi-circle, and where they ended the earth was higher than at the mouth of the stream, helping contain the water falling from the cliff at the back of the pool. The fall itself was not terribly high, perhaps four times her height, but it was high enough to cause the roaring sound water makes striking both stone and water. The pool was not still, but it was calm on the far end.
Sera peered into the pool and was delighted to see that while she could see the bottom it was not shallow. Likely it was deep enough to swim in. “That bears exploration,” she murmured to herself. She began to make her way around the edge of the pool, carefully after nearly slipping on the slick stones. The mist caused by the waterfall made everything damp, including her face and hair as she walked steadily closer. Gazing up, she saw the tall cliff where the stream above created this fall; perhaps caused by a shift in the ground ages ago – although in this world it could easily have been from a dragon attack, or a giant, or wizard’s battle too.
The momentum of the water pushed it outward from the cliff to fall at the edge of the pool, where rocks again formed a slightly less rounded ring containing the water. She found the fall itself hid an overhang of stone about eight feet from the edge to the back wall; it was almost a cave but not quite. She moved more carefully now, examining the site for any indication of inhabitants that were not creatures of the forest. Her bow would be useless, but she drew a long dagger from her boot and held it out at her side. Her brief inspection did not reveal anything that would alert her to a non-animal presence, but she decided to return home and not explore further without Zui’s presence. Retracing her steps to the far edge of the pool Sera looked back at the waterfall and smiled. “He will enjoy this place,” she thought.
Today’s fragment was inspired by the October 1 Fiction prompt from Creative Writing Prompts.