Why was he following her? The scenery changed rapidly as they walked, Oatie silent, Lugh following. Sad to say he really had no place else to go, certainly no place better. He was a wanderer who roved until he stuck, stuck until his habits cast him out, and then wandered again until some opportunity or curiosity or woman caught his fancy.
At first they’d strolled through fields and arbors, the land always falling slightly away. They had crossed a marshy place, keeping to a causeway that showed the hand of man at points that would have otherwise fallen into the swamp. Lugh shuddered to think that they might be headed back into the hell of biting flies he’d endured. If Oatie meant to be rid of him that was a sure way to do it.
Lugh was forced to wonder, Is it this woman that has caused me to stick? Why should I? She cares nothing for me. Less then nothing, she is hostile. Not long after the causeway they began to climb a ridge that hid the land beyond. The way became more and more difficult leaving thoughts of the swamp and its flies behind.
Oatie led them up through new forest, winding in and around young trees. At last they topped a rise and looked down on a naked indent in the land. There was some water gathered in the swale but little else. Oatie dropped her pack and drew out her sling.
Lugh fumbled for his bow and looked around for some danger that would require killing, but Oatie calmly rummaged through her pack, unconcerned. “What’s the problem?” asked Lugh, confused.
“No problem. Opportunity.” Oatie placed one of the five balls she had set out into her sling and with a few efficient whirls flung it down into the depression where it plopped in the water at the edge of the puddle. “You could probably throw a few basics down around that water too.” she said and then went back to hurling balls down into the swale.
Lugh grabbed his sling, dug out a ball and hurled it. The thing bounded off the rocks at the edge and made a big splash in the middle.
“Uh, don’t waste those things. I thought you knew how to use a sling?” Oatie chided.
Lugh glanced over, ready to snipe back about how she’d hit the water too, but he saw the smile on her face and decided to be happy that she wasn’t mad anymore. “Where should I put them then, oh wise one?”
Oatie laughed, “I told you, at the edge. I’m putting some water lovers at the front of that puddle and hopefully they will stop it up a bit so that the water will rise. . .”
“Well, I aimed short, hit short, and the thing bounced in the water. Not my fault.”
She laughed again, music to his ears, “Try aiming long so that if it bounces long it won’t be in the water.”
He spun a ball quickly and sent it to strike just beyond the water and skitter a bit farther.
“Very nicely done. Good job Lugh,” Oatie teased. She squealed when he swung his sling, threatening her flank, and she laughed and laughed.
Oatie finished what she was doing and stood waiting for him. Lugh dropped one last ball at the head of the swale and stowed the sling. Oatie winked at him and marched off up the hill. What was that? thought Lugh and followed her.