I had never eaten anything other than the tree’s fruits before, but I must admit, the meat of this bear, when cooked over a fire (how did he make that?! I didn’t even see what he did…), was delicious, but dry. Tristain had some odd words about it himself, something about “giving up vegetarianism.”
While he was preparing and cooking the meat, I used the claws we had scavenged to inspect everything I didn’t have time to look at earlier. The idea of using these tools made a lot of sense to me after seeing that stick pierced earlier.
First, I noticed that there were these things Tristain called bugs around. When I asked him about them, he responded with: “oh, bugs, interesting, I thought there weren’t any. I hadn’t seen any yet.” He also warned me that some of them bit, and we didn’t know enough about them yet, so it would be best to observe them, and not intentionally aggravate any. A few varieties to note were what Tristain called ‘Very Big Ants,’ ‘Put the Spider back where you found it,’ and ‘Keep the beetle with runes on it away from the food.’ It was somewhat a game for me to find ones that bugged him.
The second interesting thing was that anything that was brought over to the field of flowers appeared to die as soon as it was inside their boundary, even without the assistance of the flowers. When I brought this to Tristain’s attention, he suspected that it may be intentional to protect the giant tree from unwanted, in his words, “Critters.” After bringing up that we didn’t die, he suggested that maybe we have a resistance or immunity. I wasn’t sure what that meant though.
That brought me to ask: “Why don’t we spend the night in the safety of the flowers then?”
To which he replied: “That’s… A terrible idea. But we don’t have enough time to find shelter otherwise, and I like it.” He seemed a bit miffed at first, but almost complimented me while his mind was on cooking. It felt good to hear that from him.
Finally, there was no latrine. I had never thought of that being a problem I would ever face.
This seemed to bother me much more than Tristain. “Just find a tree to squat behind. No one is going to look. Use some leaves. It’s just like camping!” He says. Aside from not understanding what he was talking about, I personally felt it was a bit more complicated than that.
Having resolved the issue myself, I then noticed something odd about the flowers near the bear. It seemed that the blood that had been draining from the wounds we caused had started to pool. It crept slowly, uphill, towards the flowers, and when it had finally touched the artificial edge of where they would grow, the flowers seemed to grow very quickly as the blood seemed to flow actively towards them.
By the time we had finished eating, the flowers in the area had become roughly our height, and started to grow more dense. Tristain frowned at them, and said we should leave.
“I don’t like how that looks. Next thing you know, they’re going to sprout feet and start walking.”
“Flowers can do that?!” I couldn’t believe what he just said. Surely, flowers couldn’t walk with their root. Could they?
“Uh…” Looking at me somewhat concerned, he then grew a smile. “Why not? Who knows.”
I had figured out that smile. He was up to something. Just what, I couldn’t figure out. “Okay, should we go back to the tree to rest?”
“Yeah, but we need something to lay on. Those flowers may grow with the morning dew and kill us while we sleep.” He got up and walked over to the bear, and started cutting a large piece of it off. After cutting a rough shape about twice out height, and stripping as much meat from it as possible with the claws, he laid it flat on the forest floor, meat side up.
“So. I think we’ll need to cooperate here. I cleared as much off as possible, but we need to dry it out. Those flowers seem to feed off moisture. Can you blow a strong-ish wind on this pelt to dry it out?” I wasn’t sure what he was trying to do, but sure, I could blow some air around. Concentrating, I sent a constant gust downwards onto the pelt.
“How long do you want me to keep this up?” It wasn’t hard by any means, but I don’t understand the need.
“Depends. Let me focus for a moment.” He closed his eyes, and slowed his breathing. His muscles relaxed, and holding out his hands. As I was concentrating, my mind was blank, and listening to the thoughts he would exude. Much to my surprise, one of his memories invaded, a picture of a black rugged surface with heat haze coming off of it, and yellow stripes in the middle. I nearly lost my focus when I saw the same heat haze coming from his hands, joining the air gusts I had been creating.
Then I heard the words in my head, “How it feels to be dry,” and the heat increased to a sweat inducing level.
Thanks for the support! I am in your care!
EDITS: I made a few changes at the suggestion of my Editor. I’ve been working some 10-12 hour days these last few days, so I have queued up a few chapters. They have all been edited, but my editor likes to reread them after the changes, and tell me to make more changes. I appreciate his dedication and candor.
If you would like to support me writing, the RTD patreon is available with entries to support me. I don’t expect any money, but if I do get some, I’ll be splitting it between paying my editor (whom otherwise does this out of the goodness of his heart) and commissioning pictures of the character and/or scenes.