“You… you are Tumseneho!” Awan backs away from Kaga.
Kaga falls backwards onto the ground and lets out a laugh like the scratching of squirrel claws on oak.
“No, friend Awan, I am not Tumseneho. I have plenty of blood. To look at you right now you would not think that you had any, ha ha ha!” Awan’s heart is still beating very hard, and his hands are wet with sweat.
“You certainly have no respect and deserve none either, taking advantage of such a situation to play a childish trick!”
“Childish tricks are one of the things that keep me going, along with children’s laughter. But truly we must leave this unhallowed ground… however, may I interest you in a, mm, viewing?”
“You mean to wait until this thing returns. I am not surprised.”
“It is my duty to detail such things. The tribes needs to know about such dangers as Tumseneho, among others.” As Kaga talks, they walk through the carnage. Awan keeps his head up and breathes through his mouth, but his peripheral vision cannot be controlled. Bodies that lay close together were the women and children. Warriors were among the those that had the most bites taken out of their sides or legs.
“Others? Why have I not heard of these creatures before?”
“As you can see, there usually aren’t survivors.”
They reach the forest on the other side of the village and settle down for the night. Awan holds his hatchet at ready and lays his bow in front of him. His legs are taut as he scans the area behind them. There are several gaps in the trees that extend a fair amount into the distance.
“Keeping your options open, eh? You’re learning already. But put this on and you will not have to worry about escape routes.”
Kaga reaches into his waist pouch and pulls out a lump of leaves covered in brown and orange specks. They smell relatively more appetizing than the village.
“So it wasn’t just good acting that helped you survive the onslaught of Tumseneho.”
“That is for me to know and you to observe.”
Dusk has settled over the land and the area is quiet. In the fading light the village could simply be a patch of land cleared for farming if not for the smell. That shape over there could be a pile of kindling, and that tent could be under construction rather than torn to shreds. Awan’s throat feels as though it were about as wide as one of his arrow shafts. Next to him, Kaga’s eyes are very wide, and Awan could swear they were, just a little, pointing in opposite directions. Time crawls by until it is almost completely dark. Kaga does not seem to be breathing but periodically glances over at Awan and grins. After this happens fifteen times, Awan opens his mouth to say something and receives a hard poke in the side. Kaga points ahead of them into the woods on the other side of the village. Two tiny lights can be seen in the distance, bobbing up and down and getting closer by the minute.
Go on →