Ugh, I hate humidity. It’s so bad even the birds are quiet.
Resting on cold stonework beneath a tree, Olivia helped herself to another drink from her newly filled water bottle. The forest had ended not long after they started moving, and Olivia had hoped to continue for a bit before the heat became too much but had underestimated how harsh a new climate was.
Poor Chester was drenched with sweat, even with the few times Olivia had gotten off to walk alongside him. He only stood still long enough for Olivia to remove the tack , set it on the wooden structure that was probably a hitching post , and place his halter before quickly dropping to the ground to enjoy a nice roll.
Now, the stallion was hitched to the post and happily munched on the grass in the shade while taking a drink from the trough next to the well.
“At least we won’t have to worry about dying of thirst.” Food was another matter, but Olivia hoped to find a town before it became a problem. “It's a good thing we did. I completely forgot how dangerous heat and humidity are.”
Sadly, when you lived most of your life in a dry climate with little or no humidity, it was easy to forget its dangers. Both were bad on their own, but together they were a vicious pair.
Or, as one of her cousins, who did live in such a climate, said, “A match made in fire.”
“Water, water, water, water,” Gipp chirped, happily splashing around in the small container on the well’s rim that Oliva carried in her saddlebags for just that purpose. The parrot had been miserable with the heat and sun, taking shelter under Olivia’s duster, only showing himself to ask for water, and voicing his displeasure whenever she tried to remove it.
A few times, Olivia had removed her riding hat to let her hair dry, but the harsh sunlight roasting her scalp had the article quickly replaced, hair sweat-soaked or not. The most Olivia could do to help herself was pull her gloves off to stop her palms from itching from sweat build-up, pulling them into her duster’s sleeves to keep them out of the sun.
Her hands still itched, but not as bad; just a dull throb now. Olivia hoped they’d stop soon, or she’d give in to the temptation to scratch her palms till they were ready to bleed.
The first-aid kit she kept in her bags was only suitable for minor cuts, abrasions, and bee stings.
“It’s nice of someone to put a well here. Guess this road gets a bit of travel.” Not a lot since Olivia had yet to come across a single human; it might be off-season for those who travel for leisure. Those who traveled for work might be more common, but she doubted she’d meet one if the level of technology suggested a world a century, maybe even more, behind her world’s.
“Hopefully, we’ll reach a town soon,” Olivia mused. “I doubt they take dollars for payments, but maybe I can work for food and lodge.”
It was a little disappointing when Olivia looked in her wallet to find her cash unchanged, but she figured she could use it as evidence that she came from another world. Nations had used paper money throughout history back home, and she wouldn’t be surprised if a few countries in this world did too.
Olivia doubted they had anti-fraud measures woven into the money, but who knows? Maybe this world did have many ways to ensure no fraud happened.
“Come to think of it. I wonder what type of world we wound up in.”
Lots of the series she had read were set in a medieval Europe world with magic and fantastical creatures. Other cultures would be referenced, and major and minor characters could hail from such places, but that was the general setup.
Pity that she didn’t know a lot about trees, or Olivia could have given herself an idea of what culture she could probably expect. Well, if this world was anything like her own.
Except if magic existed and was being used here. That would be a huge difference.
“No use worrying about it now. Better to stock up on water while we’re here. Who knows when we’ll find another well.”
Olivia had been a little apprehensive upon reaching the well, seeing only a few wooden ladles and a bucket with no rope. Removing the wooden lid had shown her worries unfounded, as the water level was well within reach. She only used the bucket to fill the trough for Chester before refilling her bottle, not bothering with the ladles except to splash on her head; Oliva had no intention of getting sick in a world that her body’s immune system didn’t know. She had been curious about how the water was high but figured a strong enough pump was below to pull the water up.
She doubted magic was being used if it did exist here. Not everything had to be solved by a wave of a wand.
“Now, if I could have a map or a signpost, that would be great,” Olivia grumbled as she filled the few canteens and plastic bottles she had on hand. “This road goes somewhere, but knowing how far off I am from a town would be nice.”
“Nice,” Gipp chirped, pulling himself out of his bathing dish and giving himself a shake.
“Glad you enjoyed it, Gipp.” Placing the last bottle back, she reached for the container. “Let’s get this emptied, and we can―Ouch!”
The container toppled to the grass as Olivia massaged her now searing palm. A crack rang out, sending Gipp to the air with a squawk, and Olivia watched with shock as several bricks cracked, water slowly trickling out.
“Aw man, just my luck. I’d be here when the well starts falling apart.”
“Owie?” Gipp quickly landed on Olivia’s shoulder. “Kiss, kiss. Make better.”
“Thanks, Gipp,” Oliva smiled as the parrot inspected her palm. “I’m fine. I can’t say for the well, though. Hopefully, we’ll find someone that can fix the well or know someone who can. Let me grab your dish, and we can-what?”
‘What’ was the crack, previously wet from escaping water, filling in like a wound healing through the lens of a high-speed camera. The only evidence left was the dark mark from the previously run water.
“...Well, that answers if magic exists in this world,” Olivia said. “Good to know.”
“Scary, scary,” Gipp chirped.
“Yeah, scary. Let’s get out of here.”
A few minutes later, Chester was resaddled, and the trio headed back down the road, not once looking back at the well.