It was a bit too early in the year to venture beyond the western hills. The last of the winter snows hadn’t even fully melted on the more guarded slopes, but Halian knew that if he was to get a crop in before autumn, he would need to begin the venture.
He, his brother Dalvin, their wives Karianna and Helgi, and Dalvin’s four-year-old son Keelin, therefore began their westward trek on the last day of March. Progress was good up to the frontier settlement of Caston. There they stopped, as it was the last sure source of supplies, though water and some small items might be available from the sutler at Fort Wren at the head of the pass. From there however, the pioneers would be on their own.
“I don’t know why Hal is starting off so soon,” Helgi said quietly to her sister-in-law. “He could have at least waited a month for you ho have the baby first.”
“Helgi, I don’t know why you carry on so. I’ll be fine,” Kari assured her. “Besides, we need to find a suitable plot, and get the grain planted or we might starve once the next snows fall.”
Helgi, gave her quick sideways hug, and the two went into entered the merchants to acquire salt and molasses.
Meanwhile Dalvin tended the oxen, and kept an eye on Keelin who was playing with the hounds Dunder and Blisser.
“I will be back shortly,” Halian called, ” I want to see if I can get some iron nails from the smitty.”
“I will wait for the girls here then shall I?” Dalvin said with a chuckle, as if there was any other choice in the matter as the livestock and little Keelin needed to me watched over.
Dalvin tightened the thick leather belt around his waist. It felt odd to be wearing a sword-belt. He was a farmer, nothing more. Okay, Hal had been a conscript in the Count’s regiment two years before, but that was the only taste of war that any in the family had had. No, it was not since their grandfather’s time that there had been a “real” warrior in the family.
Here they were though, on the road westwards. “An early start to a new beginning,” his older brother Halian had said. Beginning of what? he mused.
“Keeli, don’t antagonise those dogs.”
“Sorry Father,” the lad called and tossed the stick he had been playing tug-of-war with Blisser with. The stick didn’t go far, but both dogs took the few steps to retrieve it.
“New beginning,” Dalvin said aloud.