Note: All of this is a long time ago. When people traveled on horses and had cows and stuff, that long ago.
It was so terribly cold. Snow was falling, and it was almost dark. My beard had icicles forming on it. Grief for my dead friend filled my heart. But I had to block my feelings. They would get in the way. Let me tell you how I got here in a quick, short story.
My name is Brandon Fraser. A few months ago, in Fadon (now called Miesota, not connected to Minnesota in any way), I was working for my cruel master. He would give me only minimum wage and the worst work, like cleaning the cattle, feeding his horses, and cleaning the manure. He would whip me if I made a small mistake, like missing an itty bitty, tiny little dirty spot on his floor while cleaning it. I wanted to get out of there, but I had nowhere else to go. Also, I had heard that the previous slave, sorry, “house help”, had also tried to run but was found and promptly shot down.
After about three weeks of getting whipped and not getting enough money for buying bread, I felt I had had enough of my full-of-dung master, and so I ran. I ran and ran until I got to a small place called San Grand. It was an amazing little town. Beautiful trees and nice, cozy huts and houses. Most importantly, it had food. I was so hungry that I went straight to the main hall. Fortunately, it was around lunchtime by the time I got there. So I ate until one of the townsfolk approached me. He didn’t recognize me and said that he knew everyone in the town. Turns out, the town was picturesque, but the people were not so good. The townspeople didn’t seem to like petty little intruders and threw me into a cell.
After a month or so, I guess they decided that I was not worth the space in the dungeon, so they threw me deep into the unknown wilderness and knocked me unconscious so that I couldn't find my way back. They didn't care if I died. Why would they? Anyway, I don’t know how they hauled me over to some shelter because I was not a light person. And then I woke up. After getting up, I saw a body lying on the soft snow. Their chest was rising, so they were probably just unconscious. Good thing the townsfolk got me some company. I wouldn’t want to be alone in this icy forest.
I shook the unconscious guy, trying to arouse him. He showed no signs of waking up, so I tried to find some food. I left the guy a note saying that he shouldn’t leave the place and that I didn’t wish him any harm. I’m grateful to my elder sister, who had died by the way, for showing me how to hunt and make weapons.
After some time, I found a deer, and with my very incredible makeshift bow, I shot it and then skinned the carcass. I headed towards the shelter. By the time I got close to it, the sun was high in the sky. It was probably time for lunch. I saw smoke rising from our refuge. It seemed like the other guy had woken up. The smoke was a sign of fire, so it seemed like my acquaintance knew some basic survival skills. I was glad he hadn’t run away, because then I would’ve had to fend for myself without a comrade.
We talked for a while. He said his name was Reed Moore. He was another runaway slave. I could understand him. He had stumbled into the town and had gotten the same punishment as me. He said that he had lost everyone in his family. We talked some more while roasting the deer and eating it. We had to hunt again for the night’s dinner. I stayed back to defend the shelter from any creatures like wolves or wild dogs. By then the fire burned out. I felt extremely cold so I draped the deer hide over me. Its blood dripped over my head and the soft flesh sent a shiver down my body.
Reed came back with what looked like a hare. He said we would have to make do with one because he couldn’t find anything else. He had also gotten some frozen water and said that he would make a fire. He went searching for some sticks. I also gathered a few to help. Then I heard a noise. Twigs breaking. I called out for Reed but didn’t get a reply. I readied my bow and pointed it toward the sound. And suddenly, a big black bear came charging out of its hiding spot and onto me. I let go of the arrow but it ricocheted off the bear’s thick hide.
The big bear didn’t even react to the shot and it came even faster at me. I tried to maneuver out of the way and into the forest but it jumped at me. I was full of panic. The bear knocked me down to the frozen grass and was lying on top of me, slowly crushing my body. I had to hold my bow at its teeth so it couldn’t chomp me up. Its sharp claws were flying around, occasionally raking my skin.
I saw Reed transfixed near the bonfire from the corner of my eyes. He finally came over his shock and threw small stones at the bear in vain. I thought this was the end of my days. But Reed didn’t. He came running at the black bear and threw himself on it. He had somehow moved the bear off me. He threw me his spear. I stabbed the bear but it didn’t budge. Reed was screaming. There was a bleeding stump at the place his foot should be.
I used all of my willpower to not look at it and kept thrusting my spear at the bear. It clawed at Reed and cut off his arms. I could tell that there was no hope for Reed now. I grieved for him but I had to run. I was sobbing for my friend. He was basically a stranger to me but had sacrificed himself for me. He would always be a hero.
I raced through the forest and after about an hour of non-stop running I stopped. It was so terribly cold. Snow was falling, and it was almost dark. I hid under a tree and somehow, after all that had happened in the past few hours, slept.