We continued our march shortly after that incident.
I gently touched my sore neck. It hurt to talk, actually, it hurt to do anything that involved my throat.
Specifically, after Tristain cooked up some more bear meat for food, ‘breakfast’ as he called it, I found it also hurt to swallow. The only thing that seemed to help was the ice he gave me.
After holding it to my neck to show me how it could help make my neck feel better, I had asked him to make a few more. Since then, I alternated between touching them to my neck for a few moments, before sucking on them. The ice started causing my fingers to feel dull. I suppose the soothing sensations it gave off were overloading in my hands. Now, more than anything, my neck was just sensitive and sore. Oddly, Tristain could be very kind and considerate, despite usually being a complete jerk.
I was still angry at him specifically, but also myself. Between Tristain harassing me, and Lilia nearly killing me, these were not two people I wanted to be around. But, what choice did I have? I didn’t know how to ‘cook’ food, nor where any fruits were. And if I happened upon one of these ‘Bears’ myself, I was fairly certain I couldn’t deal with it. They were big and their claws were very very sharp and quite long. I was trapped, and angry with myself for not being self sufficient enough to go on without them in this odd world.
After eating, Tristain started asking about our plans for the immediate future. “Lilia, have you ever explored around here?”
“Nope. Food always comes to me.” She had taken to licking the ice now that she had a stable supply, savoring it instead of gulping it down. Her vine like tongue curled around it like a snake around a branch. Tristain was staring intently.
“Does any food like me come from time to time?” I offered, hopefully we can find some more people, and I can leave these two to their own means.
“Yes, well, no, but yes.” Lilia furrowed her brow. “You look especially delicious, but sometimes less delicious food comes from that direction,” she points, “but they don’t go into flowers. They look for people coming from the Tree. It’s very disappointing. Sometimes when food comes from the trees, I don’t eat them because they aren’t very tasty. Only if I’m hungry.” She had a very serious expression plastered on her face as she said these things. Then she looked at me, and walked over, swallowing her ice whole. “You are very delicious.” She reached out with a hand, and gently wiped some of the moisture from the ice off my neck, then licked her fingers. “Yes. Very. Even better with fresh food on you.”
I was frozen in panic as she closed in, but when she touched my neck again, I involuntarily shuddered. “Uh, o-okay. So we should go that way to find more people who have ascended.” I stepped away from Lilia and towards our – no, my goal.
Tristain and Lilia followed. Tristain had cut a strip of bear fur, and used it to tie the rolled up fur onto his back. We both carried our bear claws, as there wasn’t a good way to pack them away for walking. They honestly weren’t that heavy anyways.
After a while, Lilia spoke up, “Foo-, er, Tristain, can I get some more?”
“Sure.” We stopped for a bit while Tristain concentrated on making some ice for Lilia.
“I’ll be right back,” I told them and found a tree to walk behind.
I pulled down my pants, and began to squat before spotting something out of the corner of my eye. I started to get up quickly, jerking my head around to catch a glimpse of what I saw, forgetting my pants around my ankles.
As I look around wildly, I suddenly hear a voice whispering in my ear. “Foo-, er, Mika, quietly get back down, and stay on the ground.” I looked back, Lilia’s body seemed to have morphed into a tangle of vines. It was a stark contrast to her normal form. It appeared that, aside from her face protruding, she was entirely wrapped around the tree behind me.
Not understanding, I finished standing up. “Tch, wha-” but I never got to finish that thought, as a bear began dashing straight for me, only a leap away. I screamed, and tried to run, tripping on my own pants, which weren’t pulled up.
The bear, now close enough to swipe at me, found both front paws suddenly immobilized by vines. It roared, and bit deeply into the vines with its impressively large teeth, savagely tearing them from one of its tangled paws. What wasn’t broken from the bite snapped from force of the next swipe. It never made it to me, however, as the bear’s target had changed to Lilia, whos body was still wrapped around the tree.
I couldn’t believe how much terrifying force this bear possessed. I knew just how strong those vines were, and it was snapping through them like they were no different than my flesh and bones.
With its attention drawn away, Tristain closed in from its blind side, and made a running downward swipe with a bear claw in his hands.
“I hope hearts are still on the left side!” He yelled.
Blood gushed out, but the Bear wasn’t done yet. It broke its other paw free, backhanding Tristain, who rolled on the ground to slam into a nearby tree.
“Ah, Food!” Vines poured into the wound, and the bear reeled back, roaring again, then fell over backwards, silent.
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