The traveling merchant had been a blessing, and Es purchased three bottles of moonshine from him. Once collected, he took his bottled treasure for some quality time by a small pond wreathed in banks of flowers.

Afternoon faded to evening. It was still warm enough to get by without retrieving extra layers of clothing, though the fresh coolness of the air sang lullabies through the foliage about impending autumn.

The sound of the unplugged cork was like ecstasy. He wet his lips, first with his tongue, then with the whiskey bottle's kiss as he tipped it back and drank deeply.

Nothing about this region cheered him. He looked around in the fading light and the more clouded his thoughts became, the more forbidden yearnings trickled in to his thoughts like water through a leaking roof.

"I had it made." He murmured to the bottle through gritted teeth. His gloved hands gripped it more tightly.


"I had it ... made." He seethed, and attempted to drown the notion with more whiskey.


"Curse it all. Now what?"


In time, all notions and reason were blanketed under the snows of drunkenness and he slept exactly where he was, expecting to wake to the sting of blade, axe or arrow. 


He instead woke to a bright sunrise, and the sounds of the stowaway attempting to tend to their new horses.