Norida~ ExplorationMature

  I scurried through the forest, hiding from the women who had just left that man to die. How could they be so ruthless? I stopped after running so long to rest. As I rested, I pondered that scene for a moment. They had pretty much killed him, but on the other hand, he had almost killed them. It seemed like a mutual hatred to me. Hence, they had no choice but to dispose of him. I understood that part. What I wasn't partial to was the fact that the hunter girl had taken my game with that arrow of hers. I believe she'd been called Kiara by the other lady. So, Kiara thought she could go and take my dinner? Hmph. I leisurely trotted back to the spot where the confrontation had taken place. When I got there, I waited for the other girl to leave so that I could have my chance at redemption. Peeking out from behind a relatively large boulder, I watched Kiara still washing her clothes from the preceding events. Slowly and oh-so quietly, I crept over to where her game was, took the squirrel that was soon to be my meal, and dashed back into the forest before she even noticed. Of course, however, she heard me running back into the brush. Already armed with her bow and arrows, she whirled around and scanned the premises for danger, not noticing that the small rodent was gone from her inventory. After a moment of searching, she turned her attention back to getting dressed.

  I went back to my little make-shift hut and changed back into my human-looking form before smoking the squirrel over leftover embers after the fire I lit last night. When I had the squirrel fully cooked, I filled myself up on that and berries from yesterday's walk in the woods. I was pretty decent at finding food, despite my living situation. Fully dressed in peasant clothes and with a satisfied grin, I decided to take a gander at the forest scenery. During my walk, I stopped at a nearby stream to wash my face and get a quick drink. my thirst quenched, I straightened out of my crouch, causing the back of my head to come in contact with something sharp. It wasn't quite painful, but the sharp tip of whatever it was poked at my head and made it uncomfortable. With a meager whimper of a sound, I realized what the object was-- the tip of an arrow, aimed straight at me. I put my hands up to show that I was unarmed. A bead of sweat trickled down my left temple.

  "What are you doing in these woods, girl?" a woman asked. It was Kiara. Of all people!

  I turned on my 'scared little girl' act. "Please miss, I'm only a villager! My parents and I were separated and I've been trying to find them in this forest for almost a fortnight." I knew before I finished my last sentence that she wasn't buying it.

  "Who are you? Were you sent to track us down? I've heard rumors about the Sheriff recruiting children and peasants, but I hadn't believed it until now." I pondered that with confusion. I'd heard about the Sheriff, and that he was trying to find the infamous group known as the Night Hawks, but I wasn't sure what she was speaking of. "Well, get on with it! What shall your name be, girl?"

  "N-norida," I stuttered. I may be strong, but this woman had me frightened. We stood there for a moment in silence until, slowly, she lowered her bow. A small, but tough, hand came down on my shoulder, making me jump in surprise.

  "Be calm, Norida. I mean you no harm. You're not with them, are you? I can see that much. You shall come with me to our camp and you may tell me your motivations there." I nodded, unable to speak.

  She led me back to the camp, which was larger than I expected. Most of its residents were women, but there were a few men, including a tall person with a beard and shoulder-length hair. He sort of reminded me of a woodsman, except he seemed kinder. Kiara sat me down next to a warm hearth. The day was fleeting and the temperature was descending. I rubbed my hands together in front of the fire and laid down, curled into a ball. Relaxed and comforted by the flames, I merely even noticed that Kiara had left my side and gone somewhere else. Someone replaced her seat after a time, however, and I could hear him breathing steadily beside me. Just as I was beginning to drift to sleep, he spoke up.

  "Hello, miss." I nodded in response. "What may your name be?"

  Stifling a sigh, I replied sleepily, "Norida Fyder."

  He made an approving sound. "Norida, eh? That's a nice name."

  I nodded again. "Yes, it was the name my father bowed to me at birth."

  "Ah. And where are your parents, if I may ask?"

  Not wanting to travel into the bottomless pit of my emotions, I held a sigh once more and concealed it with a yawn. "I'm very tired, sir. I haven't had much sound slumber of late." He agreed and  moved back to his previous position a yard or so distanced from me and, after a moment, gave way to his own sleep. Caught by his last question, I felt too upset to drift back down. After a while, though, the dancing orange and red flames lulled me and my troubled thoughts into a dreamless sleep.

The End

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