“Oh jeez, darling, you a young’un? Not many can charm a Dryad. We may not be old, but even for us, that level of dense is silly. Be nice to her now. Your scaring the child.”
Both Tristain and I reply together. ““Huh?””
The trader snickers.
The Bearfolk puts a hand… erm… claw? They look like fingers, but had some very thick and sharp claws for their final segment. She puts one of them to her face and cringes. “Uhg. For the love of the folk. Listen you idiots.” She sweeps her free arm at us and points. Then she looks at Glen. “You see these fools? Makes us sick. Stupid Humes, Stupid Dryads!”
Glen snickers again and waves at her, before trying to stifle any further laughter. “Settle down, yer gonna ‘urt some’un.”
The bearfolk woman clenches her teeth for a moment, furrows her brow further, and proceeds in a very terse tone, “look, we know Dryads are dense, so it’s easy for you. You feel warm inside with… erm,” she waved her hand around at Tristain, “this fleshbag around, right?”
I wasn’t sure what to think. Was she insulting Tristain? Or me? I am pretty dense, treefolk are pretty strong and hardy, after all. Technically, unless we did something excruciatingly stupid, we would live forever. One of us has died before. Tristain is a flesh creature… So she isn’t wrong there. And I did feel warm inside with Tristain around. He was really scary right now, though. Food, too, makes me warm inside, a bit. They took care of me when I was in tree form, and Tristain is food source, after all.
This woman’s powers of observation are frightening. “S-sure, Tristain is Food Source, after all,” I respond, nodding hesitantly. Why was Tristain so mean to me just a moment ago?
That seems to have enraged her even more, but she held it in for a moment or two. I thought her eyes would bulge right out of their sockets for a moment.
“Tristain is it? We see you as yet another Man, surely you see the willing woman next to you?” She speaks as much as she can through clenched teeth but braces herself for the answer before he speaks up.
Tristain looks at me, a bit dumbfounded. I can tell he is having conflicted thoughts, but still tilts his head to the side curiously. “Sure?”
The bearfolk roars, which is a bit surreal. Considering her very non-bearlike stature, it is very out of place. Yet it is very clearly a bear roar, both in volume and intensity. Both Tristian and I back up a bit.
The trader, Glen, stands up, and puts a hand on the Bearfolk’s shoulder. “Easy.” He looks genuinely worried.
“INSUFFERABLE. WE CANNOT STAND THIS… THIS… RIDICULOUS HUME NONSENSE.” She stamps her foot and walks away.
I look at Tristain again and feel warm inside. It seems he has calmed down. He has a confused look on his face and clears his throat before speaking. “So…”
The trader starts chuckling, which grows into laughter, before rolling on the ground roaring. Tristain scratches his cheek, not sure what to say or do from here. I just watch. I’m still not sure what is going on.
* * * *
The bearfolk woman comes back with a grin on her face and smells of blood, just as the trader’s laughs subsided.
“Now, that we have calmed down, all of us.” She sent a pointed look at the trader, Glen (do I call him food? Does she?), before continuing. “We have a proposal. We hate that hume settlement. They murder our brethren and don’t even eat them; simply sell them for pieces. They sided with our traitor, and spit on our people, and our culture.” Her tone is resolute, despite what she is saying. “We, however, cannot break them on our own. We would merely be slaughtered as you have done to our sons and husbands and suitors. You have a Dryad. We suspect that she could easily win us this battle.”
Everyone looks at me. “Me?” I point at myself.
The bearfolk woman sighs. “Yes, child. Can’t you release sleepy stuff when you are in danger?”
“Oh, yeah!” I exclaim.
“You can?” Tristain looks at me.
“Yeah!” I knew this one. This is definitely something I can do.
“Uh, how far does it work?” He furrows his brow.
“Oh, a long ways.” I nod, yes, a very long ways.
“Uh, how far is that?”
“A long ways.” Oh, yes, it definitely works a very long ways.
The bearfolk woman sighs, and points to the town. “We need to know, further than the town?”
“Oh, yes. Gaia said it would reach until the next Gaia Tree. Never to use it, except in an emergency.” I nod and smile. Gaia is smart, telling us just what we need to know.
“We see, there you have it, just have your dryad put everyone to sleep! Then we come in, and eat those ruinous humes.” The bearfolk woman nods her head in satisfaction.
“Missy, now ‘old on a moment. We ‘ave an agreement, ain’t no’one gonna be food till they be’in interviewed by me wife.” The trader interjects, holding up a finger.
“Tch. Fine, we understand.”
Tristain raises his hand over his head for some reason and speaks up. “Uh, so, if we have Lilia put everyone to sleep… Then won’t we be asleep, and we can’t do anything?”
That does make a lot of sense to me. He’s so smart. That’s my bright daylight food source. I smile at him.
“Wha…?” The bearfolk looks at us with a confused face, which slowly transforms into a surprised face. “Oh. We see.”
Thanks for the support! I am in your care!