At last the trees began to thin, and other vegetation grew sparse. Even the grass became patchy, with large spaces of bare dirt. They came to an area lined with a new kind of tree, tall and grey, with no branches close to the ground. They stretched out into the distance, sitting well apart from each other but remarkably regular in their heights and spacing. Far away they disappeared into a mist that shrouded the ground. The weather had grown cooler, and the sky was cloudy.

They soon found that food was hard to come by in this gloomy grey land. Edible plants were rare, and wild animals could hardly be found. Even when they were they usually escaped underground, or ran off into the mist as soon as their shadowy shapes were spotted. All the trees bore only hard pits that weren’t good for food.

The tools that they had used for hunting and defense were growing dull and frail, so Anson helped them make new weapons. He took flat stones, sharpened them to a keen point, and fastened them to the ends of long poles of wood. With his help the people also made small knives with stone blades and wooden handles. Anson had a natural sense about the design and use of weapons. He made them strong and sturdy, and he trained some of the others how to use them well.

Those that had been gathering food needed more help, so Anson and Eveli organized hunting and foraging parties. They spread out in every direction, but it still took much time to find all that they needed. A young man named Archean was a great help, because he was faster than any other. He was so fleet of foot he could almost overtake a running deer.

Elma was placed in a foraging party, and she grumbled as Eveli explained what plants to watch out for. “Why do I have to help with this? I am growing old, and the young often do not do their share of work.”

“I am older than you,” Lord Andor told her, “and yet you complain twice as much as I, and work half as hard. Listen to Eveli’s instructions.”

“If you want to eat, then you should at least do your part in acquiring food,” Eveli said. She pointed to a clump of weeds that grew nearby. “Do not touch that kind of weed, for it is what I call Bitterweed. It is poisonous, and has already made several among us sick. If eaten in large quantities, it could lead even to death.”


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