The time to leave comes quickly after that. Dubhe prods me along each step of the way. As soon as I’m ready, she hands me Nanook to carry, as well as one of her bearfolk children. Lillia and the hume woman were just steps behind us with the rest of the children.
Nanook and the other bearfolk child pawed at each other and made cute groaning noises. I found it concerning and endearing at the same time. Will they really grow up to tufle like this? Looking at Dubhe, she only said “Boys will be boys,” and shook her head in resignation.
I guess that’s all right. I worry that my son will become a vicious beast. I want him to be kind, like Otsu.
I can feel my chest tighten up, and like something is stuck in my throat. Almost like taking a bite of food that is too large. It’s hard to swallow, and even harder to talk.
Why did I have to be such an idiot? Maybe I could have thought of a different way to handle that situation.
Thinking of idiots, oddly, I haven’t seen Tristain nor Melsy.
The queen is at the entrance to the Gaia Tree as we exit. Behind her, her husband is standing on his hind legs… No, he’s standing on something.
“Finally, you all leave. To be rid of you forever, and to finish my duty to Gaia, I grant you this…orckin as a present. She is pregnant, so you can feed her, and have fresh food in a month or so.” I…am not sure about keeping living food.
“Ohh, we shall accept. Orckin females are delicious.” Dubhe accepts on our behalf.
The orckin doesn’t look very well. She is bleeding and has severe bruises. The queen’s husband isn’t letting her up, either. Sh- no, they all make me nervous. The orckin. The queen. Her husband. Dubhe. They all do.
I hear some creaking coming from behind us – the opposite side of the tree from where the queen is currently standing. Looking, Otsu is pulling a cart not unlike those the caravan uses. Except, this one looks living? Are those real leaves covering the top?
Lillia must have noticed my look. “My not-thinking-child.”
“She’s quite proud of helping Tristain make that with her branches.” Melsy appears behind me, and I jump away from her. She gently lands, then folds in her wings.
I see, so that is made from parts of Lillia? I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Also, why is Otsu pulling the cart?
He grumbles and looks away.
“Insolent male. We will beat you within an inch of your life if you do not treat her with respect. We heard last night. Respect her. Now.” Taking a severe tone, Dubhe lays into Otsu.
Otsu huffs, and responds. “I’m also going. There is nothing more for me with the Arbitrator. She has told me to go.”
His mouth didn’t move. His mouth didn’t move? “His..”
Looking back at Dubhe for confirmation, she interrupts me. “You dolt. You’re nearly as bad as Tristain. Of course no mouth moved, bearfolk males can’t talk. It’s impossible. When they care deeply enough for someone, they can speak their minds directly to those people. Just like the enclave weaklings.”
Cares deeply enough…
I look at Otsu. He’s still looking away.
Dubhe kicks me in the rear. “Move. We need to get loaded and moving.”
I still don’t understand. Where are we going?
“Lillia, cage that food, then get it on the cart.” Dubhe takes charge and starts organizing everyone. Surprisingly, the cart is very much big enough for all of us.
Everyone except Melsy, Otsu and Tristain get on.
Otsu, of course, is pulling the cart with a harness, while Tristain and Melsy: “We’ll be hunting along the way. To feed everyone.”
Dubhe mutters loud enough for everyone on the cart to hear. “You mean feed your lust where we can’t see.” Yeah. Probably. He’s such a degenerate jerk. I can’t believe Melsy likes him. She is literally clinging to his arm while he walks around.
As we get close to the edge of the death flowers and the treeline, Glen, the Arbitrator, and two others approach.
“Tristain, and those in the same race.” Although I resent being in the same race as him, I can understand now how it is this way. “You are banished from these lands. You will make your way to the north, and settle the icelands.”
“Foodlands?” Lillia’s ears literally perk up at hearing ‘icelands’.
“I see.” Tristain’s response is somewhat lackluster. Either way, he waves off Lillia to silence her without looking back.
“Since I know you are directionally challenged, I am sending two more people with you. They are somewhat outcasts, much like you. One is a Shielded. Not only can he not use runes, they neutralize temporarily when he touches them. Be thoughtful of that. The other… needs to be kept an eye on. Tristain knows the details already. He will be your guide. What happens after that is up to you.” The two men behind her walk forward and hop on the cart. One has shackles on his arms and legs, he looks poorly cleaned. No, he looks outright dirty. His hair is long and unkept. The other is wearing a white garment and has a bald head. The bald one smiles kindly at us.
He seems nice enough.
Author’s Note: Thanks for the support! I am in your care! 1 Chapter a week for a while. Next chapter is a new perspective. We’ll finish up this stretch of the story with Tristain.