We camped out well within eyesight of the front gates, but no one paid us any mind. We watched as people went outside and brought back game. The bears were the only dangers we had faced so far, but among the animals we had seen so far, there had been much more variety. There had been little reason to disturb them though, since we had plenty of food. After all, I had Tristain to make water for me, and Tristain and… Food… Who was no longer with us, had bear meat, as well as some nuts they had started to collect. There was also some shells from a few trees; Tristain had said they were like “acorns.”
Among the game the villagers carried through the gate, there was the smaller game, such birds with wings as long as we were tall, and something Tristain called “Moose.” The larger game included things like serpents that could go toe to toe with a bear and could easily swallow us whole. There was even a winged reptile, to which Tristain asked: “Is that a dragon?”
Mostly though, I sat watching Tristain worriedly, and he sat watching the gate from afar.
Thinking on it, I felt oddly conflicted over Food. She was Food, so, sure, I was at a loss to not have her around, but I wasn’t allowed to eat her anyway. Why did it irk me that she wasn’t around then? I didn’t like it. Even so, what could I do?
If I stormed in, I would have to face people using fire. That thought was scary. It would hurt, and take a long time to heal. Also, what would I do if I got there? Tell food that I want her to come back with me? I doubt she would listen to me. She was food, the Food, after all.
It seemed silly.
Watching longer, I turned from Tristain to the gate. I felt, even knowing that there were probably a thousand people inside those walls, there was far too much game going into the town. That “Dragon” alone needed to be cut up to be moved through and should feed the town for days by itself, if Tristain and Food appetites’ were normal.
“I’m hungry,” I told Tristain half-heartedly.
“Hm.” He didn’t look at me just held out his hand. A piece of ice slowly formed in it.
“No, I want Food.”
He looked back at my stare and handed me the ice.
“No, Food.” I pushed the ice back into his hand.
“I don’t understand.” He tilted his head in confusion.
His eyes went wide, and after a few seconds, he started laughing and hugged me. I couldn’t help but smile as well. Food Source was happy, and that made me happy. I felt warm inside, like the light from midday was shining on my skin. I liked having Food Source hugging me, I confirmed.
“Uh, heh.” He wiped water from his eyes as he calmed himself down. That was odd, don’t waste that!
I held my hand out to him, palm open waiting for him to hand me his hand that he had wiped the water away with. He gave me a curious look, and questioned: “What?”
I frowned, grabbed his hand, and licked the water off. It was salty but delicious. He was like nothing I had tasted for a very long time. The flavor was much like the first humes I had met so many uncountable cycles ago.
I felt his heartbeat quicken, and he turned his face away. His ears had flushed pink.
“A-anyway, yeah, we need to do something about Mika, but I don’t know what. It would be foolish to think that we can just waltz in and take her back. Voids seem abnormal there, so I suspect that they have many skilled Rune users. Although, they seemed pretty weak when driving us off. But they also killed so many large animals… I don’t know what the deal is.” He laid out his thoughts to me.
“On top of that, why would she even want to come with us? She seemed pretty set. Although, she may change her mind after being… Anyways, we can’t do much, and we can’t force her. Problem is, we can’t even give her an opportunity now either. I don’t like it” He continued, and put his free hand on his chin. I still held his other hand in mine, albeit, no longer in my mouth.
I thought as well, but nothing came to mind. His hand felt nice in mine, so I didn’t let it go. As dusk came over us, the days of sleepless walking came over Tristain, and his head started bobbing as his heartbeat slowed.
I thought maybe he was going to hurt himself sleeping like that. He could fall over at any time and accidentally poke his eyes with a stick or something. To that end, I extended my other hand into vines, and wrapped them around him, pulling him closer into a hug so I could keep him safe as he slept.
While I sat holding him, I heard some rustling nearby and saw someone coming closer. In the low light of the fading twilight, I couldn’t make out who they are, or details about their current state. I was worried they may have a weapon, and let go of Tristain’s hand to use mine to defend us.
A small light shined from the direction of the rustling, and someone spoke.
“Arn’cha ya’ cute now. Neva seen ah dryad care for un Hume before. Got some ta’ discuss… ya’ got a moment ta’ listen?”
Thanks for the support! I have finished writing the last chapters of this ‘book/story’ or volume 1. They need editing, but they are written, unless my editor tells me to rewrite them. At this time, the completed story/first book is about 51,000 words (I think the finished one will be closer to 60k after i go through it). I am going through now and rewriting already published parts to better flesh out parts I wish I had spent more time on. When that is done, I’ll be continuing on to Volume/Story/Book 2. I hope to finish this before I run out of scheduled chapters. There are 17+1 more (the +1 is an epilogue that isn’t chapter length), so 9 or so weeks.
If I can finish re-editing all of that before then, I’ll continue (to the reader) uninterrupted into Vol. 2.
Again, thanks for the support. I don’t get many comments down below, but I do appreciate them. I have published this in a very non-visible spot (it’s not RRL or any of the other powerhouses for English webnovels), so I didn’t expect a lot of foot traffic. None the less, I am grateful for the persistent comments from people who read regularly. It means a lot to know that people like reading it.