|The A.C.M.s groaned and pounded at the cabin's door.|
I released the breath I was not aware I'd been holding. Some savage instinct within me overrode my faculties: I searched the wretched body for useful items, then planted my boot to her shoulder and rolled her into the ocean, her purple robes swiftly vanishing within the depths of the Sewall Sea. I am surprised at myself for the callousness of my behavior, it is not something I would have imagined myself capable of. And yet this is the fact of it, as I record it without waiver or apology.
This accomplished, I turned my attention toward the large stone house, only to witness two A.C.M.s battering at the oak door. I sprang into action: two arrows pierced the back of one animated corpse, and it collapsed. The other seemed not to notice, so I carefully lined up two more shots and dispatched it as well.
I rushed up the hillock and stood before the door, but did not hail the occupants. Rather, I skulked around the perimeter of the grounds and picked off various fell beasties as I found them: three Explodicons, four archer-skeletons, and as many A.C.M.s as came at me. I suppose I must have taken down some wood spiders, as well, as I collected their silk and eyeballs, along with my experience from the fray.
It was no little work, but I felt it should ably prove my worth to the strangers within, so I was glad for it. Sodden to the bone and only now beginning to feel my weariness, I rapped my knuckles upon their front door.
|Thoreau's hosts: two bald men who hum thoughtfully.|
Two men greeted me and, by gestures, welcomed me inside with a panicked haste. Immediately we discovered we could not understand each other, speaking foreign tongues, but even this did not discourage me. For what else mattered but that I had found two friendly people, in this irrational and threatening world?
Their confusion to understand my utterances shown plainly, but they were yet friendly and hospitable. They huddled by one ensconced torch for soulful comfort, so I planted several more throughout their home to cozy it up. As they had such tremendous space to themselves, I prevailed upon their generosity and set up my little station in the back of the house. Up went the workbench; up went the furnace; and no sooner had I built a double-wide trunk than it was filled with the spoils of mortal combat, plus whatever materials for construction I'd deemed essential for establishing myself abroad.
The men only watched my activity with a distracted curiosity, one ear toward the door and other unwanted visitors (not like me, mind you, but of the kind I'd spent several minutes reaping in the night's torrent). I removed my topcoat and waistcoat, remaining in my drenched shirt and trousers, and I fired up the furnace to begin to dry my garments. All of this fascinated my strange hosts, as though they'd the technology to construct fairly lavish quarters, but neither to furnish it nor to meet my industrial setup.
As necessary, I geared up and roved the fields, hunting down more horrifying opponents and taking stock of the local resources: pigs roamed freely and in great number throughout the fields and surrounding woods, this was good. I did not see any cows or horses, but it was dark still. When all this was done and a rosy corona began to tinge the eastern sky, I returned to the large house and collapsed by my furnace, into a deep and uncommon slumber.
|The men are churlish with their prolific garden's bounty.|
When I awoke, I was alone. My clothes were dry so I dressed myself, tugged my hair to one side, and ran to the front of the building. There were the two men, tending to a fairly elaborate garden. I was quite pleased to see they had large, long rows of carrots, potatoes and wheat already underway. I offered to assist them with their gardening, but they heeded not my words, instead collecting all their food, planting all their seeds, then puttering about other unknowable duties without so much as a sidelong glance to me. This was quite disparate from their welcoming demeanor the night before, and I wondered whether I had inadvertently offended them somehow, and how I could possibly apologize.
More, I knew I would have to linger around the garden and harvest its goods as soon as they were ready, as these two had no apparent intent to share with me. Perhaps this was not strictly neighborly of me, but they doubtlessly had more than they needed, and I hoped they wouldn't prefer to watch me starve.
I attempted to converse with them, through gestures and intonation, and they were quite patient with me but I fear we brooked no great understanding. The rain had not relented, and though they seemed comfortable enough to attend to their chores in the downpour, I opted to return to the house and dry off once again, perhaps break into the victuals I had brought with me.
Oh, and there was an A.C.M. in the well. I had rather a mean-spirited laugh at its expense, I confess, before I executed it. I could have left it alone, as it seemed entirely unable to free itself and climb out, but I wanted to make a show of good will for my hosts, and I didn't want a floating dead body in the drinking water any longer than strictly necessary.