Marion’s mouth hangs agape at me while I look away, feeling awkward. Until now, I was fine with her regarding me as something small and fragile. I clung to her for warmth and protection, cheering her up when she needed it out of survival. Looking like this, it might become the other way around, and I’m not sure how to deal with that.
“Uh… Little b-boy?” She jumps up from my lap and hides behind a nearby tree, with her face bright red. “W-what happened?”
I scratch the back of my head, and start thinking. This girl IS from the church, after all. I can’t just tell her that I ripped an animal to shreds then ate it, bones and all… I guess I can omit some information.
“One of those rats came and attacked us as we slept. You were passed out, so I had to use your knife to defend us. I stabbed it in the chest before it ran away, and I shortly fell asleep next to you out of exhaustion. I really don’t know what happened after that.” I look down and then away.
Marion moves further behind the tree, staying silent. I wait for her to say something as a breeze passes by, making me realize that I am completely naked. I cup my hands around my privates and blush heavily as she peeks around the tree. “I’m so confused. You’re really that little boy that was clinging to me for the past week? This is too weird!”
I face Marion and shrug, still holding my junk. “I can’t explain this either, but can we talk about this after we get out of this forest? We should be lucky that I can actually do stuff now.”
“Alright… yeah, you’re right, I guess.” She steps out from behind the tree and then motions me over. “Sit here until I can do something to make sure I don’t have to be seeing that… Thing swing about anymore.” I do as I am told, and I sit down as she sits facing away from me. She cuts off the remaining sleeve of her robe and fashions a sort of loincloth that covers my naughty bits. “Take this and wear it, and starting from now, you’ll be walking behind me. Got it?”
As I tie the loincloth around me, I nod in acceptance. “Got it.”
After what seems like half an hour, we come to what looks like an actual road rather than a dirt path, with fine stonemasonry seemingly an important factor in its build.
“Finally”, Marion cheers as she pumps her fist into the air, “We’ve reached the [Tallowstone Highroad]!”
As soon as she said [Tallowstone Highroad], it dawned on me just where we are, where we were going, and the what kind of bandits we’ve been avoiding. The forest we just left, if my memory of the world map is to be trusted, is just south of one of the largest cities in the world, [New Wyvernia], a double layered city built upon the ruins of [Wyvernia]. The bandits we were (somehow) dodging for the past week are made up of some of the worst dregs of society imaginable, [Salamander’s Sixty], sixty men composed of the worst rapists, thieves, murderers and maniacs based just off of this road, painting each tooth as a symbol of their misdeeds.
“I have a bad feeling about this; the two of us alone shouldn’t be on the main road like this.” Upon hearing this, Marion makes a sour face.
“I’m done being harassed by monsters and animals at night, I’m sick of eating stuff that I have to spend my mana on just to keep it down, and I’m just frankly tired. Besides, what do you know of this world!? I met you just over a week ago, as a toddler! You don’t even have a name, and you’re trying to tell me what is good for us!?” Marion says this and collapses onto her knees, crying.
She is right. In this world, I am days old, even if I don’t look like it. I made this world, technically, but this level of interaction changes a lot of things, and telling someone that you created the ground that they stand on would put anyone off. She lived her life here for years before I came along, and she had some people she was probably close with die not too long ago. I don’t blame her for being tired of all this shit.
“… I’m sorry Marion.” I put my hand on her head, and she lowers her face into her hands.
After recollecting ourselves, I just went along with Marion. I’m not in a place to argue with her, nor should I. We managed to sleep for the night, just off the road… though this time neither of us is huddling together for warmth. The bushes hiding us gave us both excellent cover, so we weren’t spotted by anything. The next morning, we continue forward without talking until we see a campfire in the distance.
“H-haa~!” Marion lets out an excited breath as she quickens her pace. I follow right behind her, almost running towards that beacon of smoke in the distance. When we get to the campfire, we are greeted by two lumberjack looking men hauling an entire wagon of cut lumber. The canvas cover is bulging out with how much they have gathered, but something seems off, I know this feeling… hmm.
Marion stumbles forward and raises her hand in a greeting, while panting for air. “H-hello *PANT* c-c-could you *WHEEZE* help us?”
The young lumberjack who is sitting next to the campfire tilts his head a bit, with wide eyes. “You guys look like shit! What happened to you?”
Marion and I sit down by the fire, as she begins explaining our situation. As she gets to the part where I come in, I cough and nudge her side. “A-Ah, yes, this is a young man that had escaped the bandits shortly after we finished that subjugation quest. He had been following us since before the wagon was torched.” Nice job, Marion.
The two lumberjacks look at each other with wide eyes, and then look back to us. The older of the two begins to speak after thinking to himself. “Well, we are finished gathering all the wood we can carry, so we don’t really have the room to carry you, but I guess we can ditch some if you guys can pay us back for it. You did say you were a cleric for the church, right?”
“Yes, I will reimburse you for the lumber you have to abandon to carry us back to [New Wyvernia]. We’ve been walking for days with very little rest, and I don’t think I can personally endure this much longer.” Marion says this while wearing a sad face, almost crying.
The two men look at each other, with concerned faces, and then nod to each other. “Alright, rest easy for now. As soon as we are ready to head out, we will wake you up and we’ll be on our way.” He motions for the younger lumberjack with a whistle. “Bring out some cups so we can enjoy this tea now.”
I take a cup while giving a weary smile, while Marion takes the cup and holds it out with glee. “Thank you very much”, she says while smiling.
The old lumberjack scoffs, and then shakes his head while pouring the tea into our cups using a ladle. He then blows into his cup and takes a deep gulp of the hot liquid, hardly flinching at its temperature. Seeing this, I take a sip of the sweet smelling mixture.
Marion is almost finished with her first cup. “Yeah, it’s pretty good, what is this stuff?”
“[Soporatus Leaf] extract diluted in hot water… me and my mates drink it to calm our nerves while we are in the woods.” He says as a devious smile cracks its way into existence onto his face. All of his teeth are painted black. “But for people not used to it, it can pack one hell of a punch.”
Realizing what we just drank was basically sleeping weed tea, I shout to Marion. “MARION, USE [DETOX], NOW!” As I look over after dropping the cup while yelling, I see she is already knocked out. I stand upright in a hurry while taking the knife out of my loincloth, quickly dropping it and falling to the ground as my the blood rushes to my head.
“Nighty night, children”, the older lumberjack says while his younger cohort walks closer to us. The feeling I had from earlier was spot on… or should I say smell? Yes, this is a familiar smell.
They reek of blood.
- Northern California
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Not much to say... born and raised in California. Age 28. I'm a fan of painting, sculpting, drawing, and writing. My favorite food is udon or pizza. I like cats and dwarf hamsters, but dogs are cool too. Bugs freak me out. I have a son of 5 years old. I havent played any video games recently, but I'm a fan of Minecraft, Overwatch, and Team Fortress 2.