“How did you forget the tent?”

“I thought you were bringing the tent?”

“Why would I be bringing the tent? Did you at least remember sleeping bags?”

“I thought we had a spell for that.”

“We do?”

“I think so?”

This had gone on for two hours. Zibnizik wasn’t sure if he was still enraptured with Yuva, though he did know he wanted to scream.

They currently were huddled underneath a piece of conjured tent. Their fire blazed next to them. The crackle was far merrier than the two campers felt.

Food, however, was a success. Zibnizik had pulled out a couple potions, and handed one to Yuva. “Want a vegetarian meal, or steak?”

“Sorry,” Yuva said. “I don’t really like simulated meals.”

“This is not a simulation,” Zibnizik popped the cork. A cranberry scent wafted out, making Yuva’s mouth water. “This is my own design. It is a dinner, waiting to be drunk. It is real to the taste buds, and gives the same health benefits as eating a full meal.”

Yuva looked warily at the glass container. “Seriously?”

Zibnizik took a drink. Right, this was a vegetable chowder. Too much onion, but there were benefits to that.

His eyes bulged, and he rushed for his potions chest. The gnome scrambled at the clasp, breaking it open.

“What is it?” Yuva rushed up behind him. “Misplaced magic, wrong ingredients? Poison! Oh, no, you’re poisoned, I need an antidote…”

Zibnizik popped a cork, and downed the bottle. He sighed, and slumped to his knees.

“Quick thinking,” Yuva said. She looked down at the bottle. “What was that. A cureall?”

“Water,” Zib said. “I put too much cayenne pepper in that one.”

Yuva stared. She collapsed to the ground, laughing hysterically. “You’re serious!” She shouted. She clutched at her side, feeling the laughter ache into her ribs.

“It wasn’t that funny…” Zibnizik filed his potions away.

“Sorry.” Yuva snatched the onion potion from him, giggles dying down as she caught her breath. “I haven’t had anything to eat all day.”

“Careful, the pepp…”

Yuva took a long drink, and sighed. “Been eating peppers for decades. The hotter, the better. One of the few cooking thrills that aren’t risqué for an elf in high stature.”

Zibnizik sighed, and made another note in his book. An acquired taste, then.

Yuva looked around, and smiled. “That just made today better, don’t you think?”

The gnome shrugged. “We’re still wet, and alone, and tired.”

“And sober,” Yuva said.

Zibnizik pulled out a flask and two containers.

Yuva stared at him openmouthed. “How did you…why?”

“Potion expert?” Zibnizik said. He cocked an eyebrow. “It would be a crime to not always have alcohol on hand.”

The night was getting better. The rain eased off and ended. After a few drinks, they looked at each other.

“Bed time?” Yuva asked.

“Um…yes,” Zibnizik managed to not stammer. He spun and rolled onto his side, curled by the dying fire, trying to close his eyes. Yuva settled on the other side of the fire, quickly drifting off to sleep.

The gnome’s mind was not letting him sleep. He didn’t know what was going on with Yuva, or Bin. Was he being a good friend? Is this what friends did? And was he charming with Yuva, or just asinine?

He didn’t even notice the blade as it pressed against his throat.

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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