Beroleth hurried home to his camp. Well, he called it a camp, but how long had he lived there now? It had been a few years. He briefly thought he should build something a little more permanent than the shack that he lived in now, but quickly moved that to his list of long-term things to work on. He had much to do now, and very little time to do it.
He climbed up the path on the hill leading to where he lived. Norr followed closely behind, but appeared a lot less hurried than he did. The bear meandered along the path, stopping to smell things he passed, but somehow still managed to keep up with the elf.
Espen greated him at the top of the path. The large white bear was a sight to behold, and she almost toppled Beroleth over with a big hug.
“Yes, yes, I know. You missed me. I wasn’t gone long.” He dodged under her front paw to avoid the crushing hug, and pat her on the back as he passed by her. “Come on girl, we have work to do.”
Risarra had agreed to visit him, and not as part of her regular patrol. She was a strange girl, claiming that he had forgotten about wanting to go to Feralas. She had never brought it up again, and he wasn’t one to impose his ideas on her. He had let it be her idea to visit outside her patrol, and it was finally happening. He wasn’t ready. Would she want to see the inside of his shack? It had never come up when he was just part of her patrol – just part of making sure the Ashenvale citizens were safe and sound.
Was he more than just a citizen to her?
He’d always liked her, but she had shown little interest in him past doing her job. Were the dumplings part of her job? Maybe she took them to all the people living in the woods. He wasn’t sure. It was the promise of fresh dumplings and maybe getting to see her when she wasn’t on patrol that drew him into the town. He made up the excuse of taking her berries. They were berries that she had told him the location of, so it only seemed fair if he shared them.
And now she was coming to see him at his camp outside of patrol.
He walked into his shack, it was a mess. The bed was the worst part. It was made with a lumber base, with pine branches laying across two thicker branches. Those were covered with furs and tattered old blankets that he had brought with him when he left Auberdine. His old pillow had only survived so long thanks to the leather cover he had made for it. His skill in leatherworking was nearly non-existant and the cover was not pretty, but it did do its job. He considered hiding the pillow, but decided that wiping it down would be fine.
He started taking the layers of furs off and putting them outside. He’d beat the dirt off them later, but for now the sunshine and light breeze would serve to freshen them up a bit. Eventually, he got to the branches. A few had broken, but fewer than he thought. The main problem was the brown pine needles sticking out along the edges of his bed. It didn’t look nice, and fresh pine would make the place smell better too.
He took the old branches out and set about gathering new ones. Norr followed him, helping him carry some of the branches back. He only took them from trees that were big enough, and never took more than two from one tree. After returning to the camp, he remade the bed base placing the new branches over the two thicker branches on the dirt floor.
Next was his fire pits. He had two, one for summer that was outside, and one for winter that was inside. He had built the shack in a way that there could be a hole in the top to let the smoke out if he had the fire going inside, and he could close it if there wasn’t a fire burning. He was rather proud of his invention. He wasn’t worried about the fire pit outside. Risarra had seen that one already, but he didn’t want old charred fish bones inside. He used his hands to rake through the sand he had put in the center of a circle of stones, taking out anything that got caught on them. He took the pieces outside and put them in the outside fire pit.
Lastly, there was himself. Pine sap, ash and dirt covered his hands and arms. He stripped down and walked out into the water of the small lake next to his camp. Before he started scrubbing the dirt off, he took out his braids. He rarely left his hair down, but he figured this was a special occasion. He washed his hair then took to scrubbing off the dirt.
Maybe he was just a citizen, but maybe, just maybe, he could be more.