"You take Lily up the tree house. I'll stay here and keep a watch. There may be more of those...things.", said Rick.
Claro stared at him for a while, then headed up the stairs, with the leopard in her arms. Rick watched her slender form move gracefully up the spiral staircase, wondering what other bizarre natives this island, rather this world, might have. It was a rather disquieting thought, considering what he had just faced moments back. His blade still had red patches of dried blood where he hadn't been able to wipe clean. It needed to be sharpened, he thought. He looked for a rock with which he could carry out that job. Sitting down at the base of the tree, he began sharpening his weapon, all the time looking out across the clearing for any sign of movement.
Thinking about his new companions, Rick started retrospecting on his shipwreck, and the time that followed it.
It was a stormy night and it was tough just to be able to stand up in the crow's nest. He could see very little and make out even lesser. The waters were extremely turbulent and the ship swayed as though it were a child's swing. The captain was issuing orders but everyone was panicking. There was chaos on every level. And then, all of a sudden it seemed, there was an enormous shattering sound like that of thunder, only much, much closer. It was the most ominous thing Rick had ever heard. And then it happened again. That horrible noise, but with it this time came a massive jerk. The ship had hit the edge of a cliff head-first, then rotated and hit it again sideways. Rick was thrown out of his position. Soaring in the air, he dug his sword into one of the sails that was in his way, and slithered down it, falling on his back onto the deck. The ship had already broken into two halves and splinters were flying everywhere. The crew were diving into the sea, helpless. The captain knelt by his wheel, his face in complete dismay.
Rick, dazed from his fall, didn't know what to d. He just lay there, hoping against hope that everything would calm down and he might live. Then suddenly, the part of the wreckage that he was on rose as a result of the churning waters beneath it, and Rick was, for the second time, flung into the air. Luckily, he landed on the beach adjoining the cliff. He hit his head while landing and passed out.
The next thing Rick remembered was waking up. The light was dim. It was daylight seeping in. Seeping into what? Rick realized that he was lying on a bed of straw in some kind of hut. He tried to get up but it was painful so he lay back down.
"Stay the way you are. Try not to move too much. You've broken a lot of your ribs and your skull looked pretty bad too." said a voice from a corner. It was a girl's voice.
"Where am I?" asked Rick with incredulity.
"You're in my house. You were in really bad shape, you know. And you're really heavy too. It was a miracle i was able to get you here. I've fixed your injuries but it'll take a while before you're ready to get up and walk about."
"Thank you. What happened to my crew? Are they alive?"
"No. As far as i could make out, they're all dead. I did try to help some of them, but the monsters got there first."
"What monsters? What are you talking about?"
"Don't worry about them. You're safe here."
"That's quite reassuring. Thank you...." and then he passed out again.
When he came to again, Rick really felt alive. He opened his eyes and stared about the room he was in. Then, slowly, he got to his feet. It felt great. He could feel his muscles gathering strength, coming back to life. He found a bunch of fruit next to his bed and his weapons next to that. Starving, he ate it all up and then sat outside the hut awaiting his savior.
"What is your name, good lady? I cannot be grateful enough to you." Rick asked her when she arrived at the hut.
"It's Elena. And don't mention it. What do I call you?"
"My name's Frederick. You can call me Rick. For how long have I been out?"
"It's been about two days. You had broken a lot and lost a lot of blood too. But you're fine now." smiled Elena.
And so they started speaking to each other and Rick told her about his voyage, or what became of it. Elena told him about the dreadful island and how she had come to be here. They stayed up late talking but then there was something pricking Rick at the back of his mind.
"You said you cured me in two days, right? Did you not say I had broken bones? How did you do that so quickly?" asked Rick incredulously.
"Frederick, that's not something you need to worry about. You're fine, aren't you? That's what matters."
"No, I insist. Tell me how. I need to know."
"Alright then. Just don't get scared. Here goes. I'm a healer."
"You mean you magically cured me?" Rick asked apprehensively.
Elena nodded silently with a gentle smile on her face. But this was not normal for Rick. Back where he came from, people who claimed they could perform magic were deemed witches and heretics. Everyone feared them and stayed away from them. They were a danger to society. Rick grew scared and started backing away. Elena asked him to stop and said that she meant no harm but Rick was not listening.He walked along the walls of the hut to where Elena had kept his weapons, picked them up and then inched towards the door. As soon as he reached it, he turned and fled. He ran as fast as he could.
Rick had not seen Elena since then. He did not stop running until he reached a slow stream and had by then, completely lost his way. He followed the stream and found his first cave. He investigated it and finding nothing living inside, settled in.
That was almost a year ago. Things had changed since then, thought Rick, coming back to the present. After seeing how strange the island and its inhabitants were, his views had quite changed and he did wish he had some company now. He remembered talking to Elena about the treasure his ship had carried that was now lost and how she had hinted that he might find it some day.
With such thoughts in his mind, he returned to his watchful state. All was calm around him. He wondered how Claro and her leopard were doing up in her tree house. The thought of Elena and the treasure did not leave his mind for a long time.