Cata Maestra

by

bread moment

Forest Arc | Chapter 5: Departure

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As the sun rises, dyeing the sky in a reddish-orange tint, I stand up, staring at the sight. A small kitten sits on my shoulder, eyes wide but calm. My feet immediately start to move as I pick up sharp ice shards along the wall, stuffing them in my hood, and grasp onto an icicle with a sharp pointed tip. The wind sings its song, as it had throughout the whole night, before suddenly stopping, the world fading into silence.

It's finally morning, and that means its time to go at last. Because I wasn't able to sleep, I spent a fair amount of time figuring out what changed as a result of my transformation, and as it turns out, many of the changes were quite positive. For example, all of my senses have become dramatically more sensitive. Hearing, smelling, and feeling is far easier, and I would say the same for my sight if I hadn't lost an eye, a fact I'm still yet to get used to.

Another side effect of this transformation is that my weight has dropped by a very large amount, to the point where I can even run around. The reason why I'm saying I got lighter rather than stronger is that the icicle I always carry around is actually heavier than normal, even though I can lift my body far more easily. This can be both negative and positive, hopefully more positive.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm thinking that this transformation will make it easier for me to leave the forest. My enhanced senses should warn me of danger along with my instinct for death, and my decreased weight should let me move faster for extended periods of time. Not to say that I'm not upset with these changes... but after thinking about it for a bit, I've decided that since there's nothing I can do about it, I might as well deal with it.

...I'm not a passive person, okay? I'll have you know I thought a lot about it.

A-anyway, I've got the entire day to try and get out of here until nightfall. If I can't find shelter or escape by then, well... I'm probably screwed.

I step out of the cave, scarf on feet, icicle in hand, and cat in hood. By the way, I named it Cata. Not that I can actually call it that, though. I can't really talk. Also, it's not an it, it's a she. I only just found out around an hour ago after... ahem, looking.

Don't judge my naming sense please. I'm sure that if you went through hell in a forest, you wouldn't be in the best condition to name small animals either.

...I really shouldn't get distracted like this. I'd better get a move on.


step step crunch step crunch step

As I walk through the snow, the wind sounds out--real wind this time--and nearly blows me away. Because of my drastically decreased weight, the density of my body has dropped as well, resulting in, well, this.

In other words, the wind has turned out to be a royal pain in the ass.

My original plan was to climb a tree to get a good view of my surroundings and maybe find the shortest path out, but I'm sure that the wind would just blow me off the tree.

That being said, I did try to climb up a few times, but my instinct for death acted up every time, interrupting my progress. I'm... better off playing it safe, I think.

Anyways, the next best thing is to go up a big hill, right? Right. No danger of falling, no scraping myself against the bark of trees, and no fragile branches either, although I probably don't weigh enough to break any. That's why I've come to this exact location-- the bottom of a very large and steep hill.

"meow"

"..."

I glance at Cata. She stares back. With her paws, she starts pushing on my cheek, causing my to turn my head to the side.

...What? You wanna get off? I set her on the ground, only for her to climb back up my cloak, perching herself on my head. What a strange cat.

Now that I think about it, how did she even get in the cave with me in the first place? That... shouldn't be possible, right? It was the middle of night, how could she survive with the freezing temperatures, along with all of those creatures wandering around?

...Whatever. I'm not getting any danger signals, so it's probably fine. The emotional support she provides is also nice, so it doesn't matter if she's strange... I hope.

My feet crunch against the snow as I make my way up the hill. Occasionally, I step on a patch of ice, causing me to fall face first. It's annoying, but at least I'm not in danger of dying. Even so, with each step, it becomes more difficult to go on. The ground becomes more slippery, the hill becomes steeper, and worst of all, the wind becomes stronger.

Why is it always the wind giving me trouble? First it's those creatures imitating the sound of the wind, then it's the actual wind threatening to blow me away. What's with this?

I scowl as I continue to climb up the hill, making myself appear smaller as to resist the wind.

I take another step, only to find my feet land on nothing. At the same time, my neck cramps up, my body's alarm bells ringing. In a moment of calmness, I reach out for a tree, and just barely manage to grab hold to a branch before pulling myself in to get a better grip. Surprisingly, Cata managed to cling to me throughout the entire ordeal.

T-this damn wind just lifted me off the snow...! Am I really that light?

I sigh in disappointment as I cling to the tree. At least with this, I have a slightly higher view than before? I mean, I was prety close to the top when the wind kicked up, and now I can see over the hill.

...Coincidentally, I can also see that this forest is a giant piece of shit. How big is this place even!? I can't even see the border of the forest! How am I supposed to get out? I've had enough trouble with this place, and now there's another problem...? Where am I even supposed to go now?

Ah, wait a moment. Is that... smoke I see?

I... guess it would be best to investigate? If I'm lucky, maybe I'll be able to get some food. First though, I have to get down from here. Unfortunately, I can't quite reach the lower branches with my feet. I'll need to take a gamble and jump down if I want to get back on the ground.

Well, here I go...

...Hup!

crack


I sit down at the bottom of a tree, leaves covering my body, branches sticking from here and there, hair disheveled. A dissatisfied look is plastered upon my face, much like the oddly humanlike expression that Cata is all too clearly showing off as she jumps back on my head.

I'm going to be honest. I didn't really think that the branch was going to break. It was basically as thick as my arm, you know? Granted, my arm isn't very thick, but still... especially with my low weight, I really didn't think it was thin enough to break.

Hah... it's best if I make my way to the source of that smoke now. It was just ahead of the hill I believe? Jeez, if the sky was clear it'd definitely be visible, but all of these trees make it hard to see upwards. Well, if I just sit around here doing nothing, I'll definitely be stranded out here by night. Better to get there sooner than later.

As I start to jog over, the smell of cooking meat gradualy makes its way into my nose. Considering that I can't even see it, it just goes to show how much my sense of smell has improved. But regardless... the smell of the meat along with my massively increased sense of smell...

It's nearly intoxicating...

My mind goes blank as I mindlessly stumble over to the meat. Just past the trees, I can see a skewer being roasted over a small campfire. It's just about done cooking, and strangely, nobody is paying attention to it. Maybe whoever was making it decided to leave it to do something and come back when it was finished? As I walk up to the fire, I start to think of what to do when I suddenly smell the meat once again.

Agh, whatever! I'm hungry, so I'm going to eat! I snatch the skewer and run back behind a tree, sliding off all the meat onto the snow to let it cool shortly. Cata jumps off my shoulder to the ground, staring at the meat with great interest.

Gently, I pick up a piece from the ground and stare at it in my hands in worship. Cooked meat...

It... wouldn't be an exaggeration to say it's felt like forever since I've eaten it.

Almost instantly, I start to eat the meat I had permanently borrowed from its previous owner. Cata drags a piece off to the side to eat alone. Only until half of it is gone do I finally start to slow down and take my time.

Ahh...! It's really good, haha...

"...Glad to see that you're enjoying my meal."

I know, right? It's...

...Great...?

I turn around. A person in heavy winter clothing is standing right above me as I chew a piece of meat, eyes darting from me to the meat scattered messily across the ground.

I quickly chew the remaining meat in my mouth before swallowing.

...It appears as though I've made a mistake.

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bread moment

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