“I hope you brought something to eat.” She spoke while rummaging in her pack, without looking up at him.
Paign was quiet. Instead, he pulled out his snow parka, put it on without zipping it, tugged it as low as it would reach and sat down in the snow. He knew he’d cool off pretty quickly now that they weren’t hiking, and he needed to control his core temperature by keeping the heavy coat unzipped and open for only a minute or two. Once they started hiking again, he’d overheat if the parka was zipped, but chill too quickly without it. He’d noticed Anders had already done the same. In fact, so had Freida.
“Yeah. I brought food. Um, thanks for building the fire,” Paign replied, trying to catch her eye.
“Right, then,” said Anders. “Thanks, Freida, for making the fire.”
“It’s not a big deal, you know,” she said, glaring at them.
“Hey,” said Anders quietly, looking at the crackling little fire, “we’re here with you, OK?” He stole a sideways glance at Paign. “It was just a surprise when you told us you’d found what is arguably the most famous and elusive thing in the land, right? It wasn’t like I—we—were calling you a liar or anything. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t trust you.”
Paign would have sworn that Freida’s grey eyes welled with tears, but with the cold and wind his eyes were starting to water, too. He simply nodded his support to what Anders had said.
A few moments passed before she grinned slightly and said, “Come on and eat whatever you are going to. We need to get to the rock overhang in the next hour if we want to have any time to explore it—the cave—before turning back.”
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