4 – THE WALK
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Hello dear readers,

Here is your Thanksgiving Day treat. 

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Spoiler

"Lorem Ipsum"  : Dialogue

'Lorem Ipsum'   : Internal Monologue

(loremipsum)    : Unstructured Mental Dialogue

[collapse]

(The Woman’s POV)


Then we continued to walk away from the cave that served me as a temporary shelter for the last few days. We walked for the better part of the morning.

I tried to school my mind and organize my thoughts. Tried counting in my head, singing songs in my head, repeating the names of the celestial bodies in my head, and so on.

But whatever I did, I always thought of either something that he mustn’t learn or of something that I shouldn’t have known in the first place. I really didn’t know the limitation of the artifact he was using but I couldn’t help feeling absolutely defeated. The more time we spent together the more he could learn anyway and there was absolutely nothing I could do to prevent it. I thought about the daggers inside my undergarments many times but each time I removed the idea.

They were bandaged with gauze, one to my fork, the other to my crack. So, as long as he doesn’t keep his eyes on me I could get the one on my crack even when my hands are tied on the back. But I didn’t think that he would be that naive. Maybe I could lead him to some trap or ambush?

I was the guide and take him anywhere I want as long as it was high ground but removed that idea either. I had no allies anyway. Not anymore... Moreover, he was probably reading these thoughts too. There was simply no way. At least for now...

'What about stopping for emptying my bowels? He may untie me and I can easily get a hold on both of the daggers. Then what? Fighting against a mind-reading demon in human skin?'

After a while, my stomach started to grumble, which reminded me of the breakfast I skipped. Knowing that he couldn’t have been better than me, made me feel good somehow. He was unconscious from the late afternoon yesterday till the morning today and didn’t have any breakfast just like me. Then again I felt guilt and fear, apologizing in case he was listening my thoughts.

After an unknown amount of silence, he asked about the fight before, starting a mental conversation.

(What happened to Ponytail?)

'Ponytail? Is he talking about the Coquet? Why does he call him Ponytail? Is he spiteful because he has lost his honor?'

(died youkilledhim)

(Why were you fighting with him yesterday?)

(iwasdefendingmyself heattackedus)

(You?)

(meandmyc-... formercomrades)

(Why did he attack you?)

(heandhiscollegues areenemiesof myokul)

(What was that word?)

(whichone)

(The last one.)

“okul?” I repeated, aloud this time.

(Yes. What does that mean?)

(sect order school)

He talked into my mind from time to time during the walk asking about the terrain, weather, wildlife, and nearby water and food sources at first, then, nearby roads, settlements, and communities later.

He asked about trade.

(How do you trade?)

(using? money?)

He asked about money.

(What kind of money are there?)

(coins?)

He asked about coins.

(What kind of coins are there?)

(thereare ReddiesWhitiesYellowies and thereare CrownsRodsSwords)

He asked about everything he see and couldn't see. Is it close? Is it normal? Is it dangerous? Is it clean? Even bugs and plants. Is it poisonous? Is it edible? And many more…

When he started to ask about the head and hand gestures though, I was convinced that he knew absolutely nothing, completely alien. At that point, I was half-convinced that he was not human but something else in human skin. Not a demon necessarily, but something not human.

Some of the things he asked were easier to understand and reason, some were harder and some of them were just bats**t crazy. One thing though, he never answered any questions. Not even let me ask them. He was the one asking questions and he was adamant about that.

After some time, I realized that this kind of wordless communication puts an enormous amount of stress on the mind. It gave me a headache and I was already too tired to fear or care about the answers I gave. Thus when he was started to talk about some kind of authority, I wasn’t paying enough attention to understand the importance of the thing he asked first.

(What kind of authority holder are you?)

(authority?)

(Yes. Authority, the ability to cast one’s will to alter reality.)

(idontknowsuchthing)

(You don’t? You and the Ponytail were casting your wills against each other while fighting yesterday remember? Shields, Force Missiles? Anything that sounds familiar?)

I was already curious about the power he has used yesterday. Something that causes lightning, wicked purple flames, and sound explosion. A three-element power of the highest order. But what was the thing with the authority?

(waitWAITWAIT AREYOUTALKINGABOUTERK OHMYOUARETALKINGABOUTERK WEREYOUTHEONETHATUSEDTHATTRIPLICATEERKESTERDAY)

(Restrain your thoughts. You are running wild again. Only focus on what you trying to convey.)

I did as he told me to do. Schooled my thoughts and tried to ask the questions that were worming in my mind, the questions that led me not killing him in the first place, out of curiosity, and thus put me in this situation. Not that I expected him to answer but sometimes even silence could be considered as an answer.

(areyoutalkingabout erk)

(I don’t know that word. The last one.)

"Erk ?"

(What does that mean?)

(erk power thepowertofulfillonesdesires)

After my answer, stopped the conversation. Fearing that the chance would be lost, I tried to resume the conversation by starting with the worst thing.

(areyou ademoninhumanskin)

He stopped abruptly and so did I, turning to face him. There it was. His brown eyes were piercing without emotion. He titled his head, looked at me for dozens of heartbeats without a sound, without even blinking.

Without letting him skip the question like he did many before, I asked with much more power than before.

(are you a demon in human skin?)

Then the unexpected happened and he burst into a laugh. He laughed long and hard, even his eyes were watered. Then gestured at me with his hand, just like the way I taught him to do so not long ago, to continue walking.

My pride was hurt, but at least I was not. I was alive and well, yet he was somewhat less alien. Not completely human, but not a demon in human skin either. Something in between.

He gave me water and snacks mid-morning from one of the sacks he was carrying. Without stopping, or untying me, he just split a sokum into a few pieces and put them in my mouth one by one, and then hold the water skin so that I can drink without using my hands. While hand-feeding and watering me like I was some kind of exotic bird, he continued his questions.

He refused to eat or drink himself without stopping for a rest and cooking the food or boiling the water first because they were… poisonous or disease-ous? Is that even a word? Moreover, why was my water dirty? Freaking Goddesses! I filled the skin myself from the clearest and tastiest spring available. Food though… I don’t know. I wasn’t the one that bought it and it had been many days, so maybe it got spoiled or those cravens messed with it somehow. Still, I was too hungry and took the risk. Not that I suspected of the food that those cravens brought. It was just humiliating to consume something they left in the cave while they ran away with everything I hold dear.

They didn’t just steal the money I was saving for the last five years. No, they stole away my hopes and future while leaving me to my fate. But the worst part was, they knew what they were doing. They were not some random strangers. They knew who I am and what they were doing to me just like I know who they are and why they were doing it.

I swear to gods and goddesses of revenge that they would pay. As long as I survive of this man that is.

We walked the rest of the way without communicating. He was silent and I was afraid. But there was more of it. I was curious too. He didn’t kill me immediately and he didn’t use his right as captor on my body as the custom. He didn’t torture and interrogate me and didn’t strip and whip me either. This was not the treatment of an enemy, a captor, an interrogator, or a slaver.

Even he didn’t believe me and assumed that he should leave the camp immediately, we were already far enough, for him to do anything he wants to my body. But just like I didn’t kill him while he was unconscious, he didn’t kill me after I was subdued. He didn’t use me or abuse me either. He interrogated me but no torture was involved. Maybe because I have answered everything he asked truthfully? Maybe when you read minds, torture was unnecessary? Not that he asked for some sensitive information or okul secrets. He just asked random stuff. If anything, I was like a guide, an unwilling one at that.

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