Red coloring mixed into the river as I try washing my clothes. Scrubbing the large red stains with nothing but my hands and some soap. My fingers started to shrivel, too, just as I struggle to get rid of, or at least make less visible, the stains of blood. The stains themselves dried up on our way here, and I couldn’t help but feel disgusted, not with the blood but with myself for having killed someone. Though I went at it for a while, even then the stains weren’t likely to come off. My clothing didn’t make the stains easily seen in the first place however, because of the color and patterns of the stitched images on my shirt. Zeyl did the same with her clothing and then we eventually let it out to dry. It took a while until they dried up and it was afternoon before I knew it.
This world’s star was already high up above me by then, bright and shining like the sun I used to know, making our path easier to traverse for a while until the star would change location.
“Where are we heading exactly?” I ask.
“Ariah,” Said Zeyl, while keeping her pace ahead of me. “It’s by an ocean with no sandy beaches, just places for ships to dock here and there. A giant wall surrounds the city, too, only letting the people travel by ocean to really get a good look at it. It’s beautiful when you when you get the chance to see it for yourself.”
We didn’t speak too often as we traveled, and when it was completely silent, apart from the footsteps and birds in the distance with their chirping, and wind hitting the leaves of the trees, then my breathing became more than apparent. I’ve never walked far distances in this body, and I won’t be used to it for a long while.
“Lee,” said Zeyl, looking behind shortly and asking,“Do you need to rest again?”
“No,” I said, “but I could use something to drink.” Though I also thought of what animals I would not mind eating to for the extra boost of energy aside from water right about now. Suddenly, Zeyl stops in front and as I was looking to the ground trying not to slip over the roots and I bump into her. She looks back from where we came from and we begin hearing howling from a distance. The trees echoed carefully around the forest trees.
“Wolves,” she said, quickly looking in all directions until she finally grabs and pulls me with her, pushing me into nearby a hole that pierced below a tree with roots easily seen from the inside. She then places some leaves and fallen branches over the whole. “Don’t make any sounds, and stay in there no matter what.”
Zeyl makes her way to a nearby tree and started to climb it, and hides behind some branches until I could barely see her.
There were eight of them making their way here. Their paws dig deep into the ground and it isn’t until they are not farther than twenty feet that I notice how really overwhelming their presence is. They could all be about five feet tall, with one in particular that seemed to be leading them around. The one leading also had odd marks on its body, shaved on its fur, making it easily distinguishable from the others. The marks themselves seem like swirls of the wind pushing past the wolves fur, almost as if reminding that whoever sees it will know or believe that this wolf is important, and that it knows that it is important, too.
The others in the pack spread around the area and begin sniffing around, likely looking for us. If that’s the their intention, we’ll be found out quickly.. I’ll have to trust Zeyl on this. A moment later as the pack grew closer to me and whistling is heard sounding from where Zeyl was hiding. Without hesitation, the pack steer their attention to her and start running towards the tree she was on top of, having fully noticed her hiding, and climbing the tree quickly with terrifying ease. Wounding the tree with every claw that dig in the bark and leaving pieces of wood fall to the ground. Zeyl gets out of her hiding spot and immediately cuts the first wolf that climbed closest to her with her sword. Pushing it off the from atop and letting its carcass hit the ground making a large thud sound. Zeyl jumps down opposite of where the others are climbing on the tree and jumps down where another wolf waited for her descent. Skillfully, Zeyl lunges her sword downward as she falls and stabs the second victim on its head, quickly felling the beast as if it were a tree plunging to the ground.
The leader was the only one not joining in on the attack, and merely stands behind the group having move and inch and looks around to as if not being fazed by two of its companions having fallen. The leader begins sniffing around as if looking for something.
The pack surround Zeyl, adapting to her attacks and making sure that she can’t take another one down. If something happens to her… I stopped myself right then from thinking more than I should.
“Lee!” She yells from afar, as the wolves push her back with every attack. “Draw a circle with a triangle in it!” I didn’t understand what she meant by that. Another wolf pushes her back, simultaneously attacking and defending themselves from the steel of her sword. “Make sure the pointing ends touch the lines of the circle!” Zeyl runs in the opposite direction of me, followed by the pack that were also keeping their distance as she lunges her sword to keep them away. Though she told me to do that, the hole I was in had a very hard floor and was filled with many rocks in the way. I would need to get out myself and into the open and use a stick. But what good would that do? Why a damn circle?!
A moment later, Zeyl runs towards my direction now and could be seen from a distance, again, with the pack behind but with one fewer than last time. Only four follow behind now.. The leader, however, as the fifth living member, didn’t seem bothered and kept searching, now closer and closer to me than before. It looked to Zeyl as she came nearer to our direction and hesitates to go to her and attack. Then finally, as if it made its decision, starts jogging to her, picking up speed and finally sprints. The pack run past a good ten yards away from me along with Zeyl at the front as she zigzags through the forest trees, however, when she was close enough for me to see her. She had a scratched on, with lines shredding below her left breast. She was panting with difficult breaths..
I take this chance to exit, but its harder to get out of than when I was forced inside. With the leader now joining, they re-position themselves as she slows down from running and swinging her sword that missed its target many times over. Finally, I escape from the hole and quickly pick up a twig that was nearby and start carving into the ground. A circle, making sure that the triangle’s pointy ends all reach the circle itself. Nothing happens, and I wasn’t surprised. Even if it did, if magic were real, I wouldn’t be shocked. I was reborn into this weird world after all, but I fail to see what to do with the carving on the ground.
Thinking about climbing a tree would be of no use. These wolves climbed it too easily. Running would be stupid, too. Or perhrps… I think about it, hesitating for a moment. I died once. I did that, I jumped knowing fully well that I would die. I gave up on life that day. And yet.. Zeyl is trying to protect me.
I laugh wholeheartedly. Then it should be obvious then…
I’ll just do it again.
“ZEYL!” I yell from the top of my lungs, loud enough for the pack of wolves to hear. Zeyl looked to me alarmed when she heard, looking to me as if I had done something really stupid. And I agree, but if it means trading my life for hers, then so be it. The pack, too, looks to me and are long enough distracted for Zeyl’s blade to make a piercing sound, but the wolves she hit didn’t fall. It simply backed off and retreated to the back. She’s slowing down, and it’s showing. She won’t last any longer at this rate..
I yell again, and this time the pack run towards me, ignoring the tiring Zeyl. They were only a few seconds away now, no more than five. I felt it right then, fear, a human emotion we can’t help but feel when we face death in the eyes. I wouldn’t have enough time make it back inside the hole to hide, actually, it wouldn’t matter because these beasts could just dig their mouth inside, and even if I hugged the ground, they could easily pull me out.
That’s when light started blinding me. It was at the point I felt selfishly scared for a life I had already given up once. I heard wolves stopping with all their force, scratching the ground as they halt. One even sounded like it tripped over and gave out a pained howl. As the light finally dims, I saw my body covered by a thin layer of dimmed blue. They were now jogging around me and staring intently, carefully analyzing my body. I looked down and saw that the top button closes to my neck was glowing.
Zeyl struggled behind when I looked at her, she was jogging towards us. I place my hand over my chest and my heart was beating calmly. I felt no fear and just ran in between the wolves as the keep away not knowing what to do. I hoped to scatter them and make their fight with Zeyl easier. But even then, the leader takes its role and pounces me, ignoring the blue dim layer that seemed to protect me, catching me in its mouth and proceeds to run away while the pack stay behind as they turn their attention to Zeyl. I felt it fangs bite into my skin just barely. This stupid crap of a light did nothing.
A few moments pass and I could no longer look back and see Zeyl in my sights.
It’s over. I kept thinking of those words repeatedly to myself…