• Solo • Sliding Through

Beyond the city of Rharne lies the Stormlands, which is home to a number of farms, forests, fields, Lake Lovalus, and the River Zynyx. This subforum also includes the Stormwastes to the south.

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Dandelion
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Sliding Through

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10 Ashan 721
Wealth Skill Fieldcraft

What had been merely deep snow was now packing down and freezing hard. Dan grimaced, and strapped on his snowshoes for the trip out to see if there was anything worth catching, and to find either clean snow or a gap in the stream to provide him and his ponies with water to drink. He hoped for the stream. If that was thawing, he could set out his fishtrap again, and have a better chance at fresh food. He had his doubts though, and when he made his way over there, moving cautiously even with the extra support and grip that his snowshoes bought him, he found that he was right, and sighed. His breath made a pale cloud in the air, and he turned to begin collecting buckets of snow and ice to melt by his fire instead. There were, at least, new pine needles showing a bright green on one of the trees that overlooked the stream, and he gathered a scant handful to make himself a tea with.

Hauling all the buckets back took time and left him hungry, without much to look forward to other than yet another meal of the preserved food that he was growing very tired of eating. Still, it was food, and better by far than having an empty belly and nothing to fill it with - a situation he had encountered far too often in his arcs in the wild.

Once he had melted enough water to fill a pot, he poured the water into a cookpot, cut a slice from the last of the ham - all that remained from the boar he had caught in a pit trap last Zida - hacked the meat into clumsy shreds with his knife, and dropped the meat into the water to simmer slowly into a broth. He chopped a withered, drying out carrot in the same way and tossed it in for better flavour and nutrition, then rounded out the simple stew with a handful of dried beans. While it cooked slowly over the brazier, he sought distractions from the wait, checking over his ponies and brushing them down, and keeping his mind occupied by running over everything he could remember about traps, in preperation for, with luck, being able to use them soon.

A trap, any trap, needed three things. Four if you counted a location. First of all, it needed some way of preventing the trapped creature from leaving. With the fishtrap, that was the wicker walls that let water and scent through, but nothing more than that. On land, it might be a pit wall too deep and steep to climb, a cage too tightly made to squeeze out of and too strong to break, a set of metal jaws or wooden spikes that clamped shut and refused to let go, or a snare loop that also tightened too much and too close to allow escape. Both of the latter two also needed to be fastened tightly to the ground or a tree so that the caught creature couldn't just drag them away with it.

Second, it needed some way of luring or coaxing a creature into the trap, so that it could be caught. He almost always baited his fish trap with the guts of whatever he had caught the last time, luring new fish in through the funnel entrance until they were so far in that they couldn't escape again. He didn't think that guts would work with a plant eater - such as rabbits, for an example. It would be more likely to make them avoid it. The principle of bait worked the same though, if he could find something that would tempt them, as did simply placing the trap on a well travelled animal track, disguising the trap so that the animals didn't just go round it, and waiting for one of them to be caught through carelessness.

Third, a trap needed some form of trigger to set off the trap at the right moment. The funnel entrance served that purpose for the fish trap. The edge of a pit trap also served as one, albeit a static one. There was also, emerging from the back of his mind, a half memory of precariously balanced and weighted triggers that would snap the trap at the slightest tweak on a tethered piece of bait. Looped snares on flexible saplings tied lightly to the ground that broke free when an animal ran its head into the loop and let the sapling bounce back upright while the animal was pulled off its feet and strangled. Rocks and spears that would plunge down and crush or pierce the creature when the trip line was hit by a passing leg. He grimaced at the thought of the deadfall traps. He wanted intact bones, not smashed ones, and he didn't trust automated spears not to tear up the precious skin or leave a wounded creature dying slowly and painfully somewhere in the woods. Snares worked better for his purposes. Pit traps worked too, as shown by the boar he was still eating up, but they took a lot of effort to make and maintain, and were almost impossible to dismantle or take with you when you moved locations.

He stretched, and paced restlessly for a moment, out of things to keep his hands occupied, before he remembered the pine needles. He scooped out a mug of water and set it by the fire to warm through. While it heated, he chopped the pine needles very small. He scooped the chopped pine needles into the cup of hot water and let them brew, releasing their tangy flavour into the water to make his tea, then rummaged in his supplies of horsehair saved from grooming the ponies until he located a thin hank of long tail hairs. He extracted a few, knotted them together at one end, and began to braid them. Once he was done, it would make a simple but sturdy snare, not as rigid as one made from wire or sinew, but easier to hide, if not to set. He took his time, counting the strands as he worked to try and prevent himself making silly mistakes, but finally he made it the full length of the strands. He finished it off with a little loop and tucked the initial knot through the loop, testing to make sure that it slid smoothly through when pulled, so that the snare would tighten and hold whatever it caught, then at last he returned to gather up his cup of tea.

He took it to the entrance of his camp, and seated himself comfortably on his folding stool. He cradled the warm cup in both of his hands and breathed in the wonderful smell of it, and watched the shadows shift across the ripples and dimples of the packed snow in the returned, renewed sunlight. Both of the ponies drifted, like their namesakes, over to join him in the entrance, bringing their body warmth with them. Dan didn't resist or shoo them back to their own side of the tent. Not in this sort of snowy weather. He added a little more fuel to the brazier, stirred the simmering soup, and set a ring of fist sized river-smoothed stones around the edge of fire to prolong the heat available. Rocks like that could absorb a lot of heat, but then they held onto the heat for a long time too, warming the litle area around them for much longer than fire alone. It was a little like setting a trap to catch and retain the heat from the flames.

He did fend Smoke off when she whiffled curiously at his cup of tea to see what it was. "No," he told her, adapting the signs to a one handed form, so that he didn't have to talk with his hands full and spill the tea. "That's mine. You've got a bucket of water. Make do with that."

She snorted at him, but she did bend her head to drink from the bucket of snow melt. Cloud followed suit, chasing the last drops around with a lolling tongue and then giving him wide hopeful eyes as she tapped her hoof against the empty bucket. Dan couldn't help but grin at her. "Greedy," he chided lovingly, and drank more of his own tea before he sighed and stood up, setting his cup aside. "Yes, all right, I'll get more snow. Not like I've got anything more important to do, is it?"

Cloud snorted, as if she fully understood him, and equally disagreed about the importance of him filling her bucket with nice fresh water. He grinned again, gave her a pat on the neck, and then picked up both the bucket and the shovel and went out into the snow once more. They did all need water, the ponies were right about that, and it would, at least, give him something more to do until the beans were cooked.

"Signed words" Spoken words
word count: 1523
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Doran
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Re: Sliding Through

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Dandelion:

Knowledge:
Trapmaking: a trap needs bait
Trapmaking: a trap needs a trigger
Trapmaking: deadfall traps
Trapmaking: pit traps
Trapmaking: basic snares
Fieldcraft: snowshoes make it easier to get around in deep snow

Loot: -
Lost: -
Wealth: -
Injuries: -
Renown: -
Magic XP: -
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.
Points: 10
- - -
Comments: The way that you write a wilderness PC never fails to impress me. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read or reviewed a winter thread from you. In any case, I appreciate the opportunity to review this one.

You described the challenges one has to face when surviving outside in winter, such as having to melt snow in order to get water and subsisting on preserved food, in considerable detail. The meal that Dandelion is making for himself doesn’t sound bad at all though!

I also found Dandelion's thoughts about trap making – and which traps to use for what – interesting. There is something about your writing that is very atmospheric, and what more, I find it very easy to read!

The scene where Smoke whiffled at his cup of tea made me smile. It seems as if he has a soft spot for his ponies!

Enjoy your rewards!
word count: 200

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