As the day started showing I was still not on my feet, like usually. A feeling of weakness was over me during the whole night. Every time I woke up from my sleep, it was there together with heavy limbs and an urge to scream and finally wake up from the all surrounding nightmare.
Several times I woke up thinking that I heard Merek talking, but they never came back, him and his people. It was just one day after the tribe left and we felt so lonely. I turned to the side and found Tinah laying by my side, her body almost fully hidden under my brother's fur-blankets. She was already awake and I saw loose strands of her hair moving just before her little nose appeared under several layers of fur.
"I was feeling lonely" she said ashamed.
Strange that I did not feel her there during the night, as I kept waking up.
Aiona rushed toward us just then to tell us that she was up early and went out to scout. On her way back she found some pieces of human skin between the cracks of old tree barks - on several trees.
"Oh, and our boy is gone"
I jumped up: "How do you mean he is gone??"
Aiona: "Well, most parts of him."
It made me confused, but I learned to expect just anything, in the past days.
"Is that skin alive? or dead one? I mean, could you see if it is fresh and from people or creatures?" Aiona just lifted her shoulders to that. I guessed it should mean she either did not want to examine it closer or it was dead anyway. She pulled both of us toward the hearth spot.
There, we found out what she meant by most parts of the boy. We could see both of his hands and one foot still partly tied, what was in the middle was gone, together with that other foot. The leash, however was whole.
"Poor thing, at least it did not hurt him, whatever ate him here..."
But I was not sure what happened. If something attacked him, we would have been next. Specially Iann, who had decided to just make a nest on the nearby tree and sleep in the hanging bag. Yet, he was fine. Rest of us too. So we could not tell if the boy was attacked or if he just escaped. Because if he did, then he would have easily found the rest of us. Except his brain did not work right, which was possible... and...
Too many thoughts! I caught my self almost loudly trying to explain that to my self... as a hand grabbed my shoulder. We were unprepared, all into deep thoughts, as Merek's voice startled us. "Do not think too hard. Not when you're so exposed!" Tinah literally jumped back. But then I felt a lot better, as I saw him smile.
Few moments later we were set by the newly lit fireplace and waiting for the THREE to talk. One was missing.
Merek started unpacking herbs and looked at us blankly. "Where is the boy?", he asked.
"Where is Mya?", we asked back.
He explained that they went further west, than planned and Mya went to have a look at the river to the south, as she heard other people talk somewhere. The water was too loud for her to understand, but she was sure they were not sick.
After she went back to tell them about what she saw, she run back and shouted that she will be searching for them, it is about a day of walk by the time she will be there. And she refused to get back.
"Foolish girl! She might get killed there, and worse! She might bring them here, whatever they are!"
Tinah asked him with a serious face: "Merek, what people?" He shrugged.
"We tried to follow her, but none of us was so good at sneaking through the shrubs, like Mya. After few hours we gave up and tried to get to a safe place. As the darkness broke in, we found a huge tree to sleep on. Yet it was impossible to sleep! Something found our scents and as soon as we were ready to lay down for some rest, we heard it around the tree. It tried to climb up, I think, and we did good to take those thorny bushes with us and set them up as thick thorny belt just under the first bigger branches. In the morning we could see skin all over the bark. As we jumped down and started running toward the village, we saw something close to the spot, and had to run back, so it doesn't catch us."
We looked toward Aiona and she was as pale as her linen clothes were. "You want to say that it was still around THOSE trees this morning?"
Merek nodded and she almost passed out. "It maybe got Mya", she said.
And I took some of Merek's herbs and made Aiona chew on them. The boy was gone, there was no point in letting them rot. Also no point to get new ones. Except we catch another creature.
So we decided to put together what we knew about them.