It had been a long night by the fire, by the embers. In the shell of a once grand home made of thick stone, pride and resillience, that’s where I lay. A temporary roof and door afixed to such a structure worked as a wonder, so long as one need not look upon it.
In the shadow of these great walls and below the towering spire of chimney I had made this camp. A place to hide from wind, rain and snow. A place to sleep for a night which had certainly by now been two weeks or three.
But the winters are short here. The cold rains and punishing winds ride through, but the ice and snow comes merely to show its power to man and nature alike. But I already had food, dried salt meat to be boiled with vegetables as a warming hearty dish. And firewood stocked and drying near the heat in the shelter these walls had given.
So small a roof can cover such a vast space when the walls stand tall already. Never had I been so comfortable in all my time as a traveler. I might be homeless, but here I could sleep as safe as a king, my quick fingers had already provided what I could not already catch or hunt.
By the fire I drank hot water and pine needles, watching the snows receed. It was time to rouse from this slumber of body and thoughtless staring of mind and consider what to do for the day. The stream had thawed nearby, I could hear it run gently at a trickle. A trickle that was as a flow that silently rushed by above and below the ice sheets.
I was warm from my fire and its embers, warm from a great bear’s pelt. But I wandered out where my breath could be seen and waded through the crisp morning snow. I didn’t feel it on my hands at first, the water so cold until I splashed it upon my face. The chill of ice ran down me and shocked me out of my drowsiness.
I washed without enjoyment, as much as I could bear, before returning to my castle camp. I had food left to eat and water was plenty, and a log was added to the fire. To the winter still here, it can stay there outside. I’ll stay warm and steal dinner tomorrow.