A guttural growl echoed on the walls that oozed slime. A tear slipped down her face as she clutched her protesting stomach. She knew what hunger was like; she knew what dehydration was like. But this incredible starvation was a different type of agony. The wafting aroma of a meaty stew taunted and goaded, inciting another clawing screech in her stomach. Gripping the edges of the mattress she tentatively lowered her feet to rest on the icy concrete ground. With a heaving groan she lurched to her feet. She blacked out.
Heavy breaths wracked her body as her thudding footsteps set a ragged rhythm. A child writhed in her arms, crying out in thirst.
“Don’ worry Ash, thar’ll be some wa’er up ahead,” she rasped. Brittle leaves crackled under her lumbering feet and eerie shadows cast by the smog smothered moon flickered around them.
The empty bottle clanked against her hip with every step and with every step the clanking got louder. The clanking was no longer from the empty flask rather the sound assaulted her from within the shadows lurking between the trees.
She opened her eyes.
“About time you woke up,” said the man holding a metal tin. Wynta squeezed her eyes shut as the torch he was holding flashed across her face. The man grimaced, “Sorry, I don’t exactly have the steadiest hand.”
Her stomach roared in reply. “Piss off. Let me die in peace.”
The man chuckled, his dark eyes glinting from the illumination of the torch. Brushing a stray strand of hair from his forehead, he leant forward, muscular arms supporting him.
“I’m not leaving until you eat something.” Walking backwards he dragged a chair around and sat down. He gestured to a steaming bowl. “Hurry up and eat. I have got better things to do with my life.”
Wynta growled along with her stomach. “I’d rather die than be poisoned again.”
She glared at him as his laughter filled the room. “Feisty little thing aren’t you. Don’t worry, I promise there is no Dosage in there. We don’t believe in poisoning ourselves as a way of ‘improvement’. Seriously, do I look extra smart or strong? Me, I’m fully natural.” He winked at her. She glared back.
“Oh come on, do I have to call someone in to hold you down as I force feed you?” He held out the bowl. “Please, just have some.”
She glanced up at him. His eyes were either a dark green or hazel, she couldn’t tell in the dark room, but the sincerity and pain that lurked within them shocked her.
“Trusts me,” he whispered as he guided a spoon of watery soup into her agape mouth. Her stomach rumbled in appreciation before she lunged for the bowl and gulped down its contents in a few hungry mouthfuls.
“More,” she demanded.
“No,” he replied. She glared at him in surprise.
“What do ya mean ‘no’? Weren’ ya just threatenin’ to force me ta eat and now ya won’t let me?”
He smiled apologetically, “I know you’re still hungry but you haven’t eaten for days. Your body has to adjust to having food in its system. I’ll come back in about an hour with some bread and milk. Tomorrow I’m taking you out to explore.”
He smiled at her and she cautiously smiled in return.
“The name’s Gryffon by the way.”
“Thanks Gryffon.” She smirked as he bowed before swirling on his feet and striding confidently from the room.