Prologue, Snowy Roads Part 5 by oscar garcia

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He pulled a feed bag from a nail in the wall and filled it with oats. There was already a clean metal water trough in the stall that was large enough for Blizzard and Goldie.

"Wait here." Gerry told Ben as he walked to the barn door and closed it to keep out the rain. He kept an eye on the house though, through a horizontal slit in the door. Nothing stirred around the house that he could see. There must not be anyone home, because not a candle was lit. Putting a hand on Ben's shoulder, Gerry said, "Stay here, do not go to the house until I turn on the lamp." The Shinto's had a nice suspension lamp in their kitchen that could easily be seen from the barn. "Close the door behind me and don't go to the house until I turn on that light." With that he opened the doors wide enough for him to squeeze himself out into the pouring rain.

Water instantly soaked him, running icy rivulets down his back and chest. The ground was already saturated and rain collected in puddles. Bear jumped up and down outside in the rain, unaffected by the bone chilling cold of the water that now soaked his fur. There was little light left because of the storm, but in the distance, the Yarith mountains still had blue sky around them. The cabin windows were dark and he could see no smoke coming from either one of the two chimneys of the house.

He walked out of the rain around to the front porch. The front door was wide open, slamming back and forth with the gusts of wind that made the wood of the porch creak. A pile of split wood that remained dry despite the downpour was right next to the door. He picked up two logs as he walked into the house. "Hello?" he called. "Is anyone home?" There was no answer. The kitchen and the living room were untidy, with an unfolded blanket and a feather pillow laying on the couch and the chairs not pushed under the table. One of the chairs was knocked down.

He placed the two logs into the wood burning stove in the kitchen, which still had some smoldering coals. Gerry turned suddenly, sword sliding from its sheath as he heard footsteps on the porch. Ben was there, with Bear behind him wagging his huge tail and sniffing the air.

"What's going on, dad?" Ben asked as Bear shook the water from his long fur.

"Stay there." Gerry said as he pulled a firestone from his pocket and lit a brass suspension lamp that hung over the table. It shed light throughout the kitchen and most of the living room. He walked into the living room and lit two other candles, shaking his head at Ben. Gods, would the boy ever listen to him? Ben had the decency to look ashamed.

Another wood burning stove was in the living room and was still warm to the touch. He took off his cloak and set it down next to the stove. "Where is everybody?" Ben's words echoed Gerry's thoughts.

"Bring me some wood and put it in the stove." He said as he walked into the only room of the house, Rou and Maura's bedroom. "And do what I tell you next time, boy."

A feather mattress lay on a wooden platform, but it was unmade and seemed to have been shifted around recently.

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