Chapter Three: A Watchful Companion
Once again I was waking up in a place unfamiliar to me. This was becoming an annoying and stressful new habit of mine it seems. I was lying on soft sand and dirt, and I was pretty sure I was leaning against a rock. So I guess I was near a beach. I opened my eyes to see shadows around me, I lifted my gaze to see startling green canopy surround me. I stood up gingerly, brushing the sand and grim from my skin as best I could. Suddenly all I wanted was a bath. A nice, warm soak. In my world, I thought glumly. But I had a feeling that wasn't happening anytime soon. I froze when I heard rustling behind me. Oh god don't let this nightmare turn into a twisted horror movie! I thought desperately as I turned to face the source. A small laugh left my lips as I noticed the small, black cat. God I was so melodramatic sometimes. Part of me wanted to point out that in a world were magic seemed to exist. Maybe so did bad luck cause by a black cat. But I shook the thought away as I carefully approached the feline. It had the most starling yellow eyes, they seemed to glow with their own light and I realised upon closer inspection that it had a small white spot on one of its front paws. As I crouched down next to it, it backed away. Its yellow eyes holding mine. I always thought cats were smart, but something told me this one was much more intelligent than the cats I'd known back home.
“Hey there,” I cooed, causing the cat to let out what I swear was a derisive snort, closing its eyes at the same time. When they reopened they re-locked with mine. The cat walked forward, closing the distance between us. I let out a yelp of shock when it suddenly pressed its cold nose to my left hand. I'd let it rest limply at my side, not wanting to hurt it more. And as I pulled away and wrapped my other hand round it, I realised the tingles of pain were being replaced by a strange warm feeling.
This was a weird cat, that much I could deduce. I couldn't stop glancing back and forth between my now perfectly fine left hand and it's eyes. I was suddenly unsure what to do, not everyday you come across a magic cat, then again its not everyday you land in a completely weird world with magic at all!
But as I gazed into those luminous depths I felt myself ease up. A cat who choose to help me isn't going to be a threat. Just as that thought entered my mind the cat's ear twitched and its attention moved elsewhere. I thought I could hear low-clicking sounds emanating from it's throat. I knew that was supposed to mean something, but it eluded me at that current moment. Safe to say I was shocked when the cat abruptly sprang high up into the trees – quite the impressive jump, even for a cat – and disappeared into the greenery. As it did I noticed another mope of white fur that twisted down one of it's back legs. I stood up and walked slowly so that I could better track his movements amongst the branches.
Something about the way the cat moved and it's overall attitude towards me as it occasionally poked its small black nose through the leaves to cheek on me made me think it was a he, a protective male I guess? I'm not sure what told me the cat was a guy. Either way my mind was trying to figure out what to call him. Wait...call him? He's clearly a wild cat, I can't just take him. He'd properly attack me if I tried to pick him up. As if understanding my train of thought, the cat jumped right over my head into another tree, startling various birds I hadn't known were there from their nests. He then dropped down onto the soft floor, landing with a light thud on is small paws, though his claws were still sharp and extended and a bird was in his mouth, it's feather ruffled and stained with blood.
“Well.” I said plainly, kneeling down once more, trying not to watch too closely to what was happening to the poor winged animal and instead choosing to look towards what I thought was the beach.
“I think I'm going to call you hunter, that fine by you?” I said nonchalant, flicking my eyes back to the cat, his yellow eyes were once again trained on me, the intensity was more than just inhuman. He made the tiniest of nods and resumed eating. Part of me wanted to think “Yay! I've adopted a stray!” But I had a feeling it was the other way round, and I had no way to predict if it was “Yay!” or “Ugh...” for him.
I felt a sigh escape my lips and stood up, noticing that the previous stiffness was gone, as was the soreness. Very odd cat indeed. I walked through the trees, careful of any thorns that might nip my ankles. Then again I had a magical cat following me, so if they did he could always did whatever he had done earlier. He'd jumped into the trees again though, so I had no way of checking if he was nearby. My jeans were entirely doomed, strips of fabric trailed behind me as I walked. I had a bare knee and half a calf showing as a result of how damaged they were. My T-shirt had managed to survive somehow, but the smell alone was enough for me to want it incinerated – no wonder Hunter choose to stay in the trees – And my hoodie was also torn, the hood was hanging onto the back of it by a few threads I'd guess. And one of the sleeves were ripped off. I hope this world at least has decent clothing.
I reached the edge of the tree line and had to hold up a hand to shield my eyes from the strong sunlight. I was on a beach, soft sand flicked up onto my lower legs as I walked, my trainers make a squelching sound with every step. I was pretty sure my hair was a bedraggled and terrifying mess just like the rest of me, but I felt relief wash through me as I look in the distance and saw buildings. Finally, some form of civilisation. I left my little cove of sand and found a simple dirt road to follow. The gravel corroded at what was left of my trainers and they must've ripped a hole in the bottom of one cause I felt sharp stones attacked my heel after a few minutes and ditched the shoes altogether. Moving off the road to walk alongside it on the softer grass. The walk itself wasn't really interesting after that part. I got worn out after a few more minutes and realised I hadn't eaten since the soup Gale had given me. Oh god, I hoped she was okay.
I knew I was also drained from that spell we had done. Whatever it had been. Hunter jumped lightly onto my shoulder and peered at me before letting out a small mew. He bumped his head against mine, causing me to let out a small sound of shock and give him a questioning look. But I knew he was trying to get me to keep walking. So feeling way older than I am I stood up and continued walking. Everytime I felt like giving up Hunter was there to bump his head against the back of my legs and push me forward.
Finally I reached a set of wooden gates. The setting sun reaching my vision alongside curious guards. I had never reached this limit before. I remember complaining that hockey was hard at school. I wish that was what I was dealing with and not this exhaustion. I didn't want to faint. I'd already lost consciousness enough times. It couldn't be good for me. The guards didn't ask any questions. Guess my state said enough. I was led to a nearby inn and a sweet, round lady took me up a room. Her lilting voice filling up hers and my side of the conversation for me. The moment she left the room I fell onto the bed. I told myself I'd eat and wash tomorrow. Then I'd try and find Gale. Though how I was meant to do that I had no clue. For now, I at least had Hunter keeping me company.