A Såinn of Things to Come : Chapter 8
Feeling my body trembling back and forth, I struggle to blink my eyes open, the blazing sun shining down at me, all covered in heavy burlap sacks. I suddenly realize I'm riding in the back of a wagon and sit up looking behind me.
"You should rest young traveler, " says a burly voice up front. "We've got a long way to go."
"What happened?" I barely mutter.
"Huh, you don't remember?" Cole chuckles to themselves. "Found you near the skog in rough shape. Could've been killed. Glad I took this route this time"
"Bowski," I shriek. "Where's Hamlin?"
"Oh don't you worry. I'm sure Bowski is alright."
"But, but I was just with him back there, and they, they just vanished," I implore.
"Hamlin always finds their way. The Skog is a dark dark place in these parts, but Bowski is always with us all, and I'm sure they're already back in the Springs," Cole tries to comfort me. "Name's Cole Thumper. Heard a lot about you Ø. Oscar tells me you come from a far away land?
"Well, yes, it's complicated," I stare out at the vast empty, desolate fields. "We had to escape from Kola."
"Ahh yes, Kola," Cole nods their head. "Gizmo has mentioned lots about your kind." Cole looks back at me with a smile. "Well, don't you worry, you have a new home here. You can stay as long as you like."
As we pass a giant well of water and cross another impressive gate, I am struck be the beautiful fields of barley growing before us. "Wait, but how come there's"
"Welcome to my home Ø," Cole interrupts, coming to a stop by another seemingly familiar såinnhus, and helping me come down. "You must be starving! Make yourself at home. I'll get the kettle going."
While waiting for Cole to prepare us a meal, I wander out through the barley fields, moving my hands across the kernels of grain with a gentle wind pushing back. I can't help but think about Bowski's whereabouts, and if Cole is right about the Springs.
Soon after, Cole calls me into the såinnhus. We are enjoying a lovely winter's roast and drinking Cole's very own rye beer made with figs and toasted fennel seeds grown on the farm. "This is wonderful Cole, " I mention with a full belly.
Cole shows me all the wonderful bread they've made and how important it is to cherish and give back to the soil they stand on. The flavors of the loaves are intoxicating, and I can't help but want to try them all.
As night falls, Cole lights a fire near the beautiful copper kettle outside and we settle in around it, staring into the mesmerizing embers of the flames.
"So, how do I get to Kernel Springs?" I ask.
"Follow your nose," says Cole bursting into laughter. "No really. You have to cross Rough City to get to the Springs. Hard to miss all the delightful smells of that place." Cole gestures with their nose up in the air. "I hardly make it out there. Just too busy baking bread, tending to the fields, malting the grain, you know."
"Yes, I always thought the Bluffs were pretty grim and desolate, but the more I see through that, the more I'm beginning to realize all the beauty amongst all the starkness." I mention. "Can you show me the way?"
"Right now?" Cole chuckles. "I see now why Bowski liked you so much. You should get some rest Ø." Cole puts out the fire, and I fall into a deep dark sleep.
The next morning, Cole prepares a lovely blog og sylte and pastrami cured lox on rugbrød, which almost has me yearning to stay just for the delicious food and comfort alone, but the thought of reuniting with Bowski keeps my compass in line.
Cole and I head down towards a distinctive deciduous forest with no foliage, but massive trees growing in vertical lines, seemingly never ending.
"It's no Humble Park," Cole laughs to themselves. "But it'll do."
"I've heard the Bluffs were much different back then?" I question.
"Ahh, Oscar got into your ears a bit eh?" Cole answers. "Well, they're not wrong. Lots of tragic history here for sure. I'm just lucky the great fires didn't reach the fields."
The fire, I wonder to myself, could the skog be remnants of such a travesty?
The komorebi grows brighter and brighter with the sun beginning to set, as a massive object appears in the sky.
"What is that?" I ask in total bewilderment, as the massive blob begins to take shape into massive structures taller then anything I've ever seen, with light boxes glowing in squares and irregular shapes and sizes.
"Welcome to Rough City Ø," Cole grins and hands me what appears to be a map of the area. "This is about as far as I can go. Have to make a bunch of bread and malt deliveries tomorrow, and well, you know how it goes."
Cole pats me on the back, easing my nervousness. "Don't you worry Ø, you'll be just fine. I suggest going to see my old friend Millie Westport to help you on your way."
"How do I get to..." I start to mutter.
"Remember, just follow your nose," Cole chuckles as they take off, their voice echoing through the forest.
Amazed at the sheer magnitude of the giant structures before me, I wipe my nose and ready my nostrils. Taking another peak at the map, I make my way down into the uncharted.