Friday, July 19, 2013

Chapter Sixteen-Tasty

         With in the first few days of leaving the town behind me I was all ready missing them. I missed being able to sleep on a bed as well as getting hot meals. Most of all I missed the human company that I had back in town. It was nice having Cloud traveling with me but having someone that actually spoke back was nice. With in the first night of sleeping on the hard ground my back felt stiff when I woke up the next morning. It made me miss the bed back at the inn even though it wasn't the greatest thing in the world but it was still softer than the ground. The good thing about traveling so much is that my skin was steadily developing a nice tan. I was no longer as pale as I used to be and now I had a natural tan most girls my age would spend hours trying to get in a tanning salon back home. As much as I missed the town I had just left I knew that I had to keep moving along.
         As I traveled I noticed that the forest seemed to steadily change from bright green leaves on the branches of the trees to a dark forest green needles like on a pine tree. These weren't like any pine trees I've ever seen before. The trees didn't point up towards the sky the needles growing out straight. These pine trees had rounded tops with needles that were growing so closely together you could barely see the branches. Instead of pine cones growing on the tree there was a tan flower growing that kind of reminded me of a lily. It was only fitting that I would come across plants I've never seen since I'm in another world. I wasn't too keen on trying to climb these trees though since those needles didn't remotely look friendly. The ground was littered with needles and some crushed flowers that had fallen from the branches. I wondered what kind of animals lived in this forest with trees like this.
         At night when I'm finally going to sleep I have to push aside as many of the needles as I can. A few of the needles would stick in to my skin feeling like I had just gotten a paper cut or a splinter in my finger. Even when I made a fire to cook some of the fresh meat that Cloud caught I had to make sure there were no needles. If I had any of the needles in the fire it would smoke very badly. I didn't need to give away that I'm here in case that there were some people around that weren't friendly. I just wanted to be able to make this journey to Karmus without any real incident but I was pretty that was going to turn out to be wishful thinking. So far things have been going smoothly but who knows what tomorrow was going to bring.
         It's been a week since I left the town where I had killed the Shadow Vine. I've gotten lucky that I haven't come across anything that wanted to eat me yet. Then again maybe having Cloud around was making anything lurking in the woods too scared to come near me. Every so often I would catch a glimpse of some kind of creature moving through the brush. I would hold my breath expecting something to jump out and attack us. When nearly ten minutes pass I sigh with relief that nothing had jumped out. With how paranoid that I was about something attacking us I really wished I had some medicine for the anxiety. At the very least a brown paper bag in case I start to hyperventilate.
         Tonight as I was slowly turning a rabbit that Cloud had managed to find. I watched the meat slowly change color as it was being cooked. From what Mato told me when he gave me directions to Karmus I should be able to reach the town some time tomorrow. I wasn't going to sleeping under the stars tonight since a steady rain had began falling. We had managed to find a small cave for the two of us to curl up in so we could stay dry. The fire helped with getting rid of the cold from the rain as well as curling up close to each other. I was able to warm up a little more when the meat was finally cooked and was making its way down to my stomach. When I was finally full I leaned against Cloud's stomach wanting to get as much sleep as I could tonight. I wanted to reach Karmus as soon as possible tomorrow so I'll need to rest so that I have energy to move as fast as I could tomorrow.
         I was just about to doze off when I was suddenly startled by Cloud growling. The rumbling from his throat went all the way to his belly shaking me slightly. I became even more alert when I realized that what had woken me was Cloud growling. The fire was still going but outside the cave were in I could see very much. What could Cloud see that I couldn't? 
         I slowly stood up feeling my heart beginning to pound in my chest. Cloud slowly got up from the ground the growl still rumbling in his throat. Usually if there was something that was a threat to us he would act right away. Why was he just sitting there growling at whatever was out there? Could something be out there that's more dangerous than any thing we've come across before? The most important question was that were there multiple things out there wanting to eat us? There was a sliver of a thought that crossed my mind hoping that whatever was out there would just move along. Sadly that thought was a firefly in the night compared to all the other thoughts that were flashing through my mind. It wasn't long though before all those blaring thoughts were quieted.
         I felt a sudden sharp pain in my left arm that felt like a bee sting. Looking down at my arm I saw a dart sticking deep in to my skin. The dart was made of a dark wood with what looked like feathers that belong to a parrot tied to the end. I let out a string of curse words just as the world began to tilt slightly. I could feel myself beginning to sway as my legs began to feel like they were losing strength. I barely noticed that I had fallen to my knees till I heard Cloud come crashing down beside me. I saw at least three darts sticking out from the side of his neck. I was probably going to end up like him in a few seconds and I was hoping that didn't mean we were going to die. When I finally began falling to the ground it felt like it was happening in slow motion. It felt like minutes passed before I finally hit the ground and darkness began creeping in around the edges. Just as the darkness was about to envelope me I could hear cackling coming from around me.
         The whole time I was out cold I felt like my body was floating like a feather in the breeze. I've never felt like this before. The closest feeling I can think of to this would be when I was put under to go in to surgery to get my appendix removed when I was seven. Whatever the darts had been laced with was probably a similar drug that doctor use to put people under for surgeries back home. What kind of people had I come across that would use a dart to knock out both Cloud and me? I was really hoping that I hadn't managed to come across people that had a taste for human flesh.
         I could feel my eyes opening slowly feeling like they were weighed down. When I finally opened my eyes my head felt like it was pounding and full of cotton balls. The light from the massive camp fire in front of me hurt my eyes. I closed my eyes again wanting to stop my eyes from burning any more. I kept lying on the ground trying to will the pain in my head to go away. As I was lying there I could just make out some people talking in hushed voices. I wasn't alone right now and I had no idea where Cloud was right now. I didn't open my eyes again till the pain began to subside. As soon as I opened my eyes and took a good look around I wished that I hadn't woken up after all.
         Looking around at the camp fire there were bones littered all around me. There was a break in the trees above me and I was able to see the night sky had cleared up showing the stars. When I rolled over I found myself face to face with a human skull. I gasped sitting up right suddenly quickly backing away from it. It didn't take long for me to realize that my hands were bound behind me rather tightly digging in to my wrists. Looking out across the fire I could see Cloud who's wings were bound tightly to his body. There were several ropes tied across his body pinning him down to the ground. He was awake like me and was trying very hard to break free of the ropes keeping him pinned down. When I heard the talking again is when I tore my eyes off of Cloud. To my right a little ways away were creatures that stood up right like a human but were only as tall as a ten year old child. They definitely didn't look like they were remotely human.
         The creatures had clothing that looked like it was sewn together from a variety of animal skins. Their skin was so pale it seemed ghost white as if they had never seen a single second of sun light. The ears on the side of their heads seemed to droop down and looked like a cat had torn at the edges with its claws. Each of them had long hair that was not only matted but was filled with what looked like dirt as well as some bugs. All four of the creatures had hooked noses save for the fifth that looked like his nose had been smashed in. Their eyes though were rather big but seemed like they were the most human part of them. I had no problem that they didn't look human. My problem was that they all had rows of sharp teeth that looked like they were stained slightly from blood. I really didn't want to be one to add to the stains on their teeth.
         I quickly tried to reach around my belt but groaned when I found that the dagger wasn't there. Looking around I saw all my things piled up just behind where the creatures were talking. On the very top of the pile was the dagger that I had been given. I knew that I could just move it across the air to me but the creatures would notice that right away. I looked back at Cloud who was still trying to us his brute strength to break through the ropes. If I could some how free him there is a chance that Cloud to create enough of distraction so that I could get the dagger to free myself. I knew that Cloud would be able to handle himself long enough so that I could get myself free.
         "Me thinks that we need to skin the lizard. The shiny skin looks like it will be too tough eat but could get us lots of money for more meats." one of the creatures stated.
         "Me wonders if it can be cooked like crispy bacon?" another asked.
         "Best not chance it. Could be poisonous that there." the first one pointed out.
         "Why not could a little and test it on the girlie?" the third stated. "If girlie gets sick then we know the scales are not safe for our tummies."
         "Fine, either way well get to eat the girlie too." the first shrugged.
         Hearing that little part of the conversation didn't make me feel any better about my situation. I watched as they all turned to face Cloud a slight glint in their eyes. I quickly turned my attention back to Cloud knowing that he wasn't going to like what I was about to do. In one sharp breath a made the flames from the fire jump higher. The flames arched forward in tendrils each hitting a different part of the ropes holding Cloud down. Cloud let out a slight whine from discomfort just as the creatures let out squeals of surprise. In a flurry of ropes and fire Cloud sprang up spreading his wings as far as they would go. He didn't miss a beat swinging his tale across in front of him knocking all five of the creatures across the camp site. It wasn't hard to tell that Cloud was pissed off with being tied down like that. Cloud went after the creatures with a nasty snarl making them run in all directions.
         While Cloud had the creatures running all over the campsite trying to avoid him I began getting my focus on my dagger. The dagger rose up in to the air moving over the heads of the creatures and Cloud towards me. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw one of the creature rushing over to what looked like a pack digging in it. I instantly let the dagger fall to the ground turning my attention to that creature when I saw it pull out a wooden tube along with the same darts that had been used to knock me out earlier. With a twitch of my chin I sent the darts flying out of it's hands before making them turn around mid air. The dart sank deeply in to the side of the creatures neck. The creature swayed a couple of times before falling over out cold. A light bulb went off in my head as I watched the creature drop several more darts on the ground.
         I lifted each of the darts in to the air making sure to take careful aim. Once I was sure I wouldn't miss I sent the darts flying through the air. A smile spread across my face when three out of the remaining four of the creatures were hit with the darts. In a matter of seconds the three had fallen to the ground out for who knows how long. While the last creature still standing was caught by surprise that it's friends had just fallen over Cloud jumped on it pinning it to the ground with its feet. I quickly turned my head away as Cloud arched his head up opening its mouth wide. I heard the sound of Cloud's teeth crunching down on the bones in the creatures skull. When I opened my eyes again the creature was now a bloody mess while Cloud looked very pleased with himself. Cloud moved over to me reaching around me and carefully using his teeth to break the ropes around my wrists.
         There were bruises ringing all the way around my wrists from tightly the ropes had been tied. I quickly got up grabbing my things not wanting to stick around this camp site for much longer. I didn't want to be around when those things woke up especially to see that their friend is dead.
         "Come on Cloud let's get out of here before they have a chance to find out if your skin tastes like bacon." I said swinging my pack over my shoulder.
        Cloud let out a small growl as his way of saying my joke wasn't funny. Before leaving the camp I made sure to grab as many of their darts as I could. Having something like this would be useful in the future. I all ready knew that I wasn't going to be getting any sleep tonight wanting to get as far from that campsite as I could. I had a good feeling that those creatures will be coming after me just so that they can get revenge for their dead friend. This just meant that I needed to get to Karmus all the faster. You never know maybe they get too scared to come after us after what Cloud did to their friend. All I knew was that tonight was going to be a very long night but being afraid of those things coming after me will keep me from sleeping tonight. My even bigger worry is that I was now lost all over again. At least one of the elders in the town had given me an old map they had. Hopefully I'm able to read it well enough to be able to get myself back on track to Karmus. Once I reached Karmus I was going to have an all new set of worries to deal with.

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