We Pause to Begin : 5B
Chapter Rating: PG
Overall Rating : R
Paring: Gwendal x Gunter
Much apologies to the delay! Thank you so much for your continued support of this fic!
Also: Much love to my awesome beta puck_the_elf
Now that they had a better plan in regards to their living conditions, the two demons decided that it was time to redistribute their priorities
Gunter's leg was healing remarkably well, Gwendal noted that morning when he helped the other demon inspect the injury. The swelling had noticeably diminished despite the ugly bruise that it was leaving in its wake. The swelling around Gunter's eye and the scrape were also healing nicely, and so, much to Gunter's relief, Gwendal had decided to be a bit more lenient with how long Gunter was allowed to put his weight on his foot. The other demon still walked with a slight limp and discomfort on his features, but Gwendal knew Gunter now understood his own limits.
That morning the pair of them set out to the river to drink and wash-up, and along the way back to the beach Gunter showed Gwendal how he had made the twitch-up snares that landed their squirrel-dinner the previous evening and helped Gwendal gather more carrots for breakfast.
"We should reassess our inventory, Gwendal, and I do not think we should make the relocation until we have gone back to the cove," Gunter said as he looked over the supplies. "I have a niggling feeling that there are resources we can still use."
"It's a two hour walk in both directions. Do you think you'll be able to make it?"
Gunter made a quiet "hmph" before he responded. "I made it half of the way at what seems like the worst of my injury, Gwendal. I think I should be more than fine."
And with that, Gwendal kicked out their fire. "Let's go. I'd like to be back before the day is too hot."
Their return to the cove was a much easier trip this time around, now that they both were fed and hydrated appropriately, and Gunter could walk at a much faster pace. In what seemed like no time, Gwendal had them both on the floor of the cove, inspecting the debris that was remarkably, still there.
"I thought for sure the cove would have flooded and swept it all away," Gwendal remarked as he headed north to their little cave for a drink of water.
"We should name this place 'Fortune Cove'," Gunter remarked, and then when Gwendal gave him a questioned look, explained:
quot;Well, you have to admit, out of all the places here on this island, this place has been the site of most of our fortune. You rescued me. We found water and my sword. If you had struck out in the opposite direction from where you washed up, I shudder to think that it would be too late for many things."
The sentiment struck Gwendal. Gunter was right. Their survival here had started off with a great gamble of him choosing a direction to scout. He shuddered slightly at the thought of what may have happened had he initially chosen the opposite direction that day. Aside from finding Gunter, the cove had taught him a valuable lesson from their little cave- they now had a general idea of how the fresh water ran along on the island. That knowledge had helped him yesterday when he discovered their newly intended living location and a fourth water source above the falls.
"Fortune Cove" indeed.
"Of course, you know," Gunter chattered as they sipped water in the dark. "Perhaps we shouldn't start naming things. I mean it's good in terms of organizing ourselves, but really, once you start naming things it only means that we're getting attached to this place...and perhaps naming things will just jinx us, and we'd end up living here forever...not that I mind being here with you, Gwendal dear...but really I cannot wait to be back in Shin Makouku in my own bed."
Gwendal nodded at the thought and the dulled pain in his ribs where Gunter had punched him during the night. "Agreed."
After their drink they began to methodically go through the debris, dragging the materials as best at they were able into neat piles along the sands.
Amongst the wreckage of what was becoming more and more clear as parts of the ship's aftcastle and other floatsome, they found they had a good portion of sails, lengths of rope, a lot of wood, a chest of silver cutlery that had been tangled in a corner of netting, and finally amidst the wreckage Gunter had pulled a long thin tube-like casing that was still sealed.
"Oh my, Gwendal! Look at this!" Gunter's excited tone over the item was enough to draw Gwendal away from the cutlery.
The other demon was pulling at the fastenings. "Oh I hope it is alright, or at least in here..."
"What is that, Gunter? Is it a sheath of some sort?"
Gunter pushed the lid off. "You could say that, Gwendal, but not for metal. For paper...maps specifically..."
"What good will a map do us?" Gwendal remarked. "We have no idea where we are. How will we know if those maps will be of the area we need? What if they were just a basic stock or the captain's personal collection? How do we know if they are even accurate?"
Gunter made a small laugh as he pulled another sealed tube from with the outer casing. "Oh, it will be accurate, Gwendal."
"How do you know?"
Gunter waved the tube in his hand with flourish, brandishing it like a sword, and thrusting it into Gwendal's face. "You see the hallmark? Etched on the case?"
Gwendal could see what Gunter was indicating. A small hallmark depicting a family crest- an eagle, perched on a globe with a sword in its mouth. Gwendal stared at the hallmark in disbelief. "Lord Carthright? This is a 'Carthright map'?"
Gunter nodded. "Seems to be. We won't know until we unfurl its contents to see if the matching hallmark has been inked and bears his unique signature...but if it is a Carthright then maybe we can see if the map can at least show us our general whereabouts. He's the authority, you know."
"He's the one thing mother got right in her reign," Gwendal said trying to keep the annoyed tone that tended to follow any discussion of his mother's time on the throne. "His maps were so detailed that all of the previous royal cartographers and warrant holders paled in comparison. Appointing him and his men as the head cartography team arguably won us the war."
Gunter hmmed as he began to unroll the contents. "Yes, he discovered many vantage points on land and areas by sea that were previously unknown to us before...saved us many lives," and then with a sigh of relief, "Yes, this is a Carthright. Looks very fresh too."
"Ah, according to the date, this map is only a year old."
This struck Gwendal as odd. "I thought he was retired. After the war he stayed around the castle and entertained my mother's escapist needs."
"Ah yes, he taught your mother navigation and seafaring," Gunter added.
Gwendal rolled his eyes. "Amongst <i>other</i> things."
"You said it, not I," Gunter said as he passed Gwendal the rolled map. "Anyway, it seems that what we have is proof that the now hermit-like Lord Carthright came out of retirement for a commission of some sort, or he's taken on an apprentice and has yet to debut them at court. Regardless, this is a Carthright, and if I can determine that this map is of our area, or at least orients us to our last known point, it can help us greatly."
Gwendal looked over the map, his eyes glancing off of the detailed ink strokes, nautical and astronomy notes in the margarine. "This can at least help us position our distress signals if we know where the main ship routes are."
"My thoughts exactly, and if it came down to it, a means to navigate ourselves from this place should it come to us making an escape by sea."
Gwendal shuddered at the thought of being on a raft of some-form out on the unknown waters. Hopefully a rescue would come before they became that desperate.
"Well then," Gunter said as he rolled the map up and resealed it. "I think if we can fold up the largest piece of sail, we can put the larger coils of rope that we can not wrap around ourselves and the other items within the folds and drag it between us."
When they had arrived back at their camp it was almost mid-afternoon, and Gwendal was tired seeing that he had to once again manipulate the rock wall and drag their findings along. Thankfully Gunter was happy to let him rest. "Not bad for a day's work. Don't you think, Gwen?"
Gwendal was too exhausted to pester Gunter about walking around more in order to check their snares. He arranged himself against a broad tree in the shade and allowed himself to close his eyes.
"You should come with me and drink something. It's been awhile since our last water break."
Gwendal ignored his companion. "I'll be fine. You go and check the snares, and I'll keep watch for a bit."
"No," Gunter said. "You rest for a bit. You've been exerting yourself a lot today. Listen to your body and just relax. I'll take a few of the coconut shells with me and bring back what I can." The older demon reached for the sword and the bag. "Be back in a bit."
Gwendal let his eyes drift close to the rhythmic sound of Gunter's feet pattering off into the underbrush and of the waves that were beyond the dunes of their camp.
But sleep did not come. No matter how tired he felt, his brain simply wouldn't shut off. It was too busy strategizing their move to the upper steppes, their meals for the next week (or weeks), their rescue if it ever came, how to construct a distress signal...where that deer went yesterday...the feel of his fussy bedpartner's body pressed against him last night.
Gwendal's eyes snapped open at that, and he absently touched his ribs that still ached from Gunter's late night assault.
Why in Shinou's good name was he thinking about Gunter's body?
Aside from the obvious. Gunter was, for fear of sounding cliche, beautiful. He knew it. Gunter, damn him, knew it and loved it. The whole kingdom knew it. But never before had Gwendal thought anything of it because Gunter's attractiveness was an accepted thing- like the sky being blue. It was something known to the point where it was accepted, and rarely did Gwendal ever dwell on that point
Until now, it seemed.
His mind brought him back to that moment where he had found Gunter's vulnerable and injured form. How weak he had been. Gwendal felt a dither of protective pride flush within him at the thought of how he had saved them both before his brain skipped back to the previous morning's bath that had almost gone awry.
Gwendal felt his cheeks heat and then wished desperately to have a pair of his needles and yarn to banish the ill thoughts away. No matter how often his hands moved into their usual habit of "purl and frog", the motion did not calm him, nor did his brain want to leave the subject of Gunter.
Gwendal got to his feet looking for something to busy himself with. That usually worked. Gwendal was good at replacing annoying thoughts and issues with tasks:
His Majesty has run off and left Gunter broken hearted? Go and find a task to give to Yozak.
Anissina hasn't been seen for days, but her work shop is emitting a strange green fog? Go and begin to compile a rations bag with his favourite pair of needles and enough yarn for a week's stay in his favourite hiding place.
His Majesty has run off again and broken Wolfram's heart? Threaten the brat to send him to muck the barn with the other men.
His mother has brought home another boyfriend who conveniently has daughters the same age as himself and Conrart? Arrange for transportation to the Shin Makoku border for a “sudden” diplomatic mission immediately. Inviting Conrart on this mission is not an option. Someone has to stay behind and protect His Majesty...and the boyfriend’s daughter from Yozak’s jealousy.
Yes, he was very good at escaping things with tasks.
But what if they ran out of things to do on the island? What if the days became like this? Where their main tasks were done for the day, aside from foraging and gathering food? And being together day in and day out?
Gwendal swallowed as he worked on setting up the fire. They would have to find a means to occupy themselves before this sort of anxiety got the better of them. They were both creatures who needed to keep busy to keep themselves from going crazy. Gwendal could not imagine his life without some sort of task list.
He actually shuddered at the thought.
They needed to come up with a better order of their day other than explore and gather, because if they were stuck on this island for weeks to come, this island, while seemingly big, would soon run out of areas to occupy them.
Gwendal struck the stone that he was using for flint a lot harder than he intended and missed, grazing his other hand instead. The burn of pain was enough for him to drop the stones and swear, sticking his hand in his mouth like a child.
They needed to get off this forsaken island before one of them got hurt.