“Huh?” I stared blankly.
“Or did I getcha wrong? Is dat how ya eat one whole?” He pointed at Tristain, who was sleeping in my arms.
I looked down at Tristain and smiled. “I wouldn’t eat Tristain, he is my precious food source, after all.”
“Huh. Well, ya’ make me a momen’ ta’ listen me: yah, or nah?” The way he speaks is strange, but he doesn’t seem dangerous.
“Hm, I won’t be moving while Tristain sleeps anyways, talk all you want.” I didn’t want to wake Tristain, I knew from past experiences that sleeping is fairly critical to keeping Humes happy.
“Mind if I light me up ah campfire, yah? This light takes uh fair ‘mount ah concentra’on ta’ use.” He pointed to the little light that was following one of his hands around.
He looked fairly similar to most other villagers I had seen so far, which made me wary. I was confident that if it was only one, I could easily defend myself and Tristain without too much concern. Even if there was a bit of fire, I could deflect it, and take care of him. Finishing my assessment, I responded, “Fine, but no closer with the fire.” I don’t particularly like fire. Tristain was wonderfully warm as it was already. How did he make such cold food if he was so warm? Maybe he takes the cold out of his body… and puts it in the Ice… Hmmm…
He huffed in confirmation and pulled some stones from a bag he was carrying, and cleared a roughly circular area from underbrush, talking all the while. “Sos, I’mma travelin’ fellow, me an’ uh few others. We go from village ta’ village ta’ trade goods. Works well ‘fer erry’one, yah? Some people get som’ needed tools an’ weapons, others get some dried food ta’ help ‘em through hard times. An’ we dun get tied down.
“We know betta ta’ bring our women ‘ere. ‘Ave ‘em campin’ out half uh day’s march. ‘Ere, women ain’t treated like squat. Makes us all ill ta’ see it, but ‘tis good business ‘ere. They always give us dah bes’ stuff.
“Bein’ travelers, we make friends wi’d all kinds. Som’times, tree folk like ya’ Dryads. We dun care who ye’re, as long as ya’ got some’thin’ ta’ trade, yah? Sos, I see three folk at some gate with goods, and they’re turned away ‘cause som’ dispute, I’s think, mayhaps we can come ta’ un agreement of sorts.”
He looks over at me and lights up the fire blindly as it gives off a flash of intense light. I look over at the gate, where torches are lighting the walls enough to see people standing guard. He takes the hint and eases my concern. “Once dark, they’d be ‘aving women ‘till dawn, an’ won’t come out fer nothin’ less ‘en more women. We’d be safe ‘ere.”
“Tristain does the trading stuff or whatever. I’m just here for food.” I motion to the bags of bear furs and bear claws. “You can trade when he wakes.”
“Aye ‘ntend ta’. An ya’ can drop the charade wi’d me. I can see he’s more en’ just some food ta’ ya’. ‘Less ya’ mean food ta’ the soul. En’ I’ll believe ya. Anyways, tradin’s only ‘alf the reason I’m ‘ere. I‘ve contacts wi’d the bearfolk. I’s ‘ere you guys beat ‘em up good, an’ they’d not wantta be doin’ nothin’ wi’d ya. Judgin’ yer supplies, I’d reckon it’d be true. One of them’s women want ta’ meet ya. Says both sides ta’ benefit. Ya’ meet ‘er?”
His way of speaking was hard for me to understand, but I think I got the jist of it? Maybe Tristain was more than just food source… But that was up to him, not me. I would do most anything for my food source.
Bearfolk though, I don’t really understand who he was talking about. I don’t suppose it would hurt to listen? If those bears wanted to harm anyone, surely they wouldn’t send a hume in their place to talk of all things. How does he even know that they want to meet…? Wait, how does he even talk to them? They have… snouts, and growl, right?
“Uh, I think we should wait for Tristain, he’s much better at understanding these things.” I smiled sheepishly and rested my head on Tristain’s.
“Aye, gotcha. They’ll be ‘ere at mornin’ ‘nyways. They be witnissin’ the show that’ll take place at dawn. Erry’one will be, likely. Tis’ how they’d keep ‘em all under foot.” He motions to the gate as he speaks, then settles down and pulls out a stick with chunks of meat on it from his bag, and starts roasting it over the fire, much like I had witnessed Tristain do several times before.
I hadn’t liked the meat I tasted before, so when he motions for me to take a piece, I shake my head.
* * * *
We sat in silence until just before dawn. The light slowly crept up from the horizon, reaching its fingers out to energize my body. As it did, Tristain also began to stir, and so did something behind us. Looking back, a woman covered from head to toe in very short brown fur, appeared. She was taller than me before I shrank.
She looked different than I had expected. Mentioning bearfolk, I anticipated just a female bear like the ones we had fought, or I had seen wandering the forest from time to time. This, however, was quite different. Aside from the very hume appearance, her body proportions, minus her head, were more that of a child’s – long torso, slightly shorter legs, and arms roughly the same length of the legs. She could probably run on all fours if needed. Her belly was slightly rounded, with little to no curves, unlike me. I felt rather justified in my stance against clothing, seeing as she was naked as well. I certainly didn’t need any, if she didn’t, nevermind that she was entirely covered in a fine, short brown, fur coat. I had leaves, she has fur! We should be fine without clothes. Yes. Anyways, the best was yet to come, for her head, she had the most adorable bear ears and facial coloring patterns, with a nose slightly larger than a hume that glistened black with moisture. How adorable were the colored patterns? They were adorable. It was a perfect mesh of lighter fur around her nose and mouth, and darker fur around her eyes.
Smiling a toothy carnivorous grin full of sharp teeth at me, she realized I was holding Tristain, and pointed towards the gate. “We shan’t miss the show, darlings. Let’s talk afterward.”
Thanks for the support! I am in your care! This character… is so hard to be consistent with…