Fighting for Life

Rebecya has taken an oath; never to love again, and to find her true home. But as her life is put at risk, and her courage is tested to the extremes, she finds herself testing her oath too. Where will she find her true home before it is too late? Read it to find out! :) And please comment what you think, cheers!

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3. A Short Escape

In the end, it was Tommi who found me; out the back of the arena. I was with Faryne and Mishra, an Uncut Diamond. He appeared around the wall, and glared at me. I swallowed the mouthful of cherry cider and jumped off the wall that runs around the back half of the arena. Mishra, unknowingly, said, or, well, slurred, “Oooh, is it your boyfriend? Is someone in trouble?” and then burst into a fit of giggles. She had clearly drank way too much of the cider.

I was too furious with Tommi to say anything, so it was up to Faryne to elbow Mishra in the ribs and say “No, it’s her brother.” Mishra stopped laughing, and sat up straight. I rolled my eyes and walked off, telling Faryne I’d see her later.

 

As soon as we are out of ear and eye shot, Tommi grabs me by the shoulders and grips me tight; half hugging, half squeezing.  Which kinda hurts, because the burn on my neck isn’t quite healed, and it’s pressed against his shoulder. Then he lets me go suddenly and shakes his head. Purses his lips.

“You realise,” he says in a dangerously calm voice, “that we have all been worried sick. That, while you were whooping it up in the arena, we had no food, and, even if we had, most of us were too worried about you to eat. You realise,” he suddenly notices he’s now shouting, and drops his voice. “You realise we thought you were dead.” As those words sink in, he turns to head home. I struggle to remember those five days where I stayed at Faryne's. They were a blur, of drinking (though not as much as some), dancing, laughing and not getting a lot of sleep. I'm suddenly overcome with exhaustion, and it’s all I can do to start walking after Tommi.

I stop dead, as something he said hits me. “We had no food” That’s what he said. I break into a grin. Tommi notices I've stopped and turns back to me, then frowns when he sees me smiling.

“What is it?” he asks, seeming almost wary about what he’s saying. He probably thinks I'm drunk, like Mishra.

“I was right, wasn’t I?” I say. “I was right. You couldn’t survive without me. You had no food. I left, and you had no food. YES!” I shout the last word. Tommi stares at me, wordless.

“Was that what you were smiling at? That you were right?” He shakes his head. “Come here, you.” He opens his arms for a hug, and suddenly I'm not smiling anymore. It’s been years since I've hugged anyone, and I don’t really want to, considering he just dragged me away from my friends. As his smile wavers, and he drops his arms, I say “Well, just be glad you found me then.” I don’t smile. “Do you want me to start hunting now? Are you really that low on food?” He half smiles.

“Yes, we are actually that low on food. But I think you better tell mother you're safe, first.” And, just like that, the remains of my good humour are gone. A cold stone settles in my belly. A cold stone that oozes hatred into me, so I feel it trickling through my veins. The coldness freezes me, making it impossible to move. The hatred fills me, I can’t fit anymore in.

Tommi, mistaking my stillness for guilt, says, “Don’t worry. I'm sure she’ll forgive you. She loves

you-” he breaks off, seeing my face turn into an angry mask. I shake off the hand he had put out to stop me, and stalk off into the mist that hadn't yet dissipated in the morning sun.

 

I fling the front door open. Everyone inside freezes; looks up expectantly. Some of them are apparently so used to it not being me, they turn away. But mothers face is alight with joy. She rushes over to me, and throws her arms around me. I tense; slide awkwardly out of the embrace. Put some distance between us. Her smile falls, her eyes fill with sorrow. The inner light that had shined from her for a second dwindles, casting shadows across her gaunt cheeks. I feel a small pang of guilt, but I quickly extinguish it. If I feel sorry for her, I’ll always be trying to make her happy. And then my whole life will be spent running around after people, trying to please them.

I swallow, take a breath.

“So, Tommi tells me you're in need of food. Guess I was right about you needing me.” Mother stares at me for a moment, then smiles sadly, for a split second.

“Yes, you were right. We need you.” Her voice shakes, and she runs from the room, hands over her face. Father gazes at me for a second, and then stiffly rolls his chair from the room. I stare at everyone else, until they start to drift away. Until I'm the only one left in the room. I let out a shaky sigh; strengthen my resolve; grab my bow, arrows and pack and head out the door again.

 

I hunt all morning, imaging the animals are my family. Mother, Detlan, father, Tommi, Lyam, Mitran, Steffen, even Lhasa, for the way she blames me because Lyam does. Not Tanya, Zara, Jema or Lucif though, they are either too young to have been drawn into the “hate me” family thing, or are too shy to join. The latter is the adopted kids; the thought of Tanya or Zara being shy is ludicrous.

 

I shoot every animal that comes into shooting distance. After a while, I stop imagining that they are any family members apart from mother. And Detlan. Always Detlan.

As I fall the third deer that strayed near me, I realise my stomach s complaining. No wonder, I haven’t had anything apart from a glass of cherry cider. I can almost feel the sides of my stomach rubbing together. I gather up my prey, which amounts to three deer; five rabbits; two pheasants; three squirrels and a wild boar. Not bad for a mornings work. No one else would ever get this much, mainly because they stick to the trails, but also because I always seem to find the best place to wait. Call it instinct, call it practise, but it never lets me down.

 

I start a fire, stripping wood of its bark and feeding it to the flames one piece at a time. Then I set up a spit and cook one of the rabbits, after gutting it. While it’s cooking, I go and search for something to flavour it with. On a rocky outcrop, I find a juniper bush, with most of its’ berries remaining. I pick more than I need to, the prickles stabbing my fingers. With my hands full, I head back, to find the rabbit perfectly done. I pull it off the spit, and fill my little leather pot with the berries. I tie the pot on to the spit, and then add water. When the water starts steaming, I use the hilt of my knife to squash the berries, releasing their juices. While I'm waiting for the sauce to finish, I dig around in my bag, and find a piece of tough flatbread. I also put the rest of the berries in a pouch, to save for later.

Seeing the sauce is one, I take the pot down, and blow on it. Then I rip bits of rabbit off, put it on the flatbread, and cover it all with a good helping of sauce. As I bite into it, the flavour fills my mouth, making me realise how hungry I really am.

 

When I can’t hold another bite, I take a couple of swigs of water, sit back and relax. I feel bloated, mainly because I hadn't eaten much while I was away, but also because that was a good meal for anyone. Families that don’t have someone that can hunt in them would pay for a meal like that. The soft breeze tickles my skin, and flowers brush my face. The sweet scent of crushed grass fills my nose, and the sun warms me through. After a while, I start to feel sleepy, but I rouse myself, not wanting to let my guard down. I realise I need to do something with the enormous amount of animals I've caught. The deer and boar, especially. I grasp my knife, and drag myself over. I work out they will be easier to carry in bits. I make the first slit into the boar, and lose myself in the process my father taught me years ago.

 

The sun is quite a bit lower in the sky by the time I finish, but I reckon I’ve got about five hours of light left. I quickly fashion a pole out of a long branch, and tie the four remaining rabbits, two pheasants and three squirrels to it. I tie the pheasants carefully, making sure the string won’t slide through their feathers. Out of the hide from the boar, I roughly make a sack, and stuff the meat from the boar and deer in it, separating the different kinds with the deer hides. I tie the sack onto the pole so it rests on my back too, taking some of the weight. I hoist the pole onto my left shoulder, sling my bag, bow and quiver over my right, and set off.

 

I wander in a general north-ish direction, until I find the stream. I follow it up the slope until I spot the familiar rock pile that marks the entrance to the pool. I start running, suddenly desperate to be there.

I burst through the wall of ferns, and stare at the secret heaven. A flood of memories tries to drown me; me learning to swim at four, splashing my father as he urges me to go deeper; me jumping down the waterfall at six; me learning to catch fish at eight; learning to swim under water with a spear and catch fish that way. And, most recently, me sitting on the rocks, my face stained with tears. And diving down, into the deep, trying to end the pain, the agony. Watching my breath trail away as silver bubbles. Waiting for it to end. Feeling the deep crushing me, but the pain not going. No breath, the need to breathe, no breath, the need to breathe. And realising it wasn’t going to happen, I deserved the pain. Opening my mouth, the water filling me. Speaking the words into the water, feeling the thrill they gave me, even while I was drowning. The words, the last silver bubbles. And then, as my sight was disappearing, something grabbing me, hauling me up, the light blinding me, the air burning me. And my father’s face. Letting him tow me ashore, dry me of, give me a row. Me knowing he didn’t know about those words, hidden in the deep. And then, me, blurting out that if he was going to leave us, he needed to do it properly, or not at all, like I tried to do. His face, paling, his brain realising I hadn’t been drowning, I had been drowning myself. And then the pain. Him shoving me away and his back disappearing into the woods. The next time anyone saw him was when he had been hit by a cart, and mother was asked to heal him.

 

I shake my head, trying to clear away the memories. I drop my things and simply stare at the pool. It seems less muddy on the bottom, probably got cleaned by the flood we had in summer. But apart from that, it seems exactly the same as when I last saw it four years ago. Of course, the plants around it have grown, but the pool itself it the same.

I look around, as if someone might be watching. Reassured, I slip out of my clothes, and charge into the water.

 

The coldness knocks the breath from me. But after a second or two, it feels comfortable, caressing my bare skin. I open my eyes, and the water is as clear as ever. I rise to the surface, and the air warms my cold face. I swim back to the edge, and perch on a rock. I pluck a handful of soapwort leaves, and rub them over my body. The muck from the arena, the dust from Faryne’s floor, and the mud from the walk here washes off in a muddy brown stream. The cuts on torso from that day in the woods when I got ambushed haven’t had much attention, I realise, some of them like they might get infected. Bits of grit and mud are embedded in them, and the skin is angry red. I rummage in my bag, and find some selfheal plants. I use them to wash out my cuts, after picking the bits of grit out with a knife. One cut on my left hip has scabbed over, but I can see a pebble, or something, stuck in it. I grit my teeth and reopen the wound. The blood has a funny tinge to it, and the flesh around the object is inflamed. It’s agony to dig it out, but it’s satisfying to see the object in palm and not in my leg. After washing it, I realise it’s a piece of wood, so I check for splinters, and find lots. I have to remove the splinters, which hurts. A lot. I wash the cut out with water and selfheal, and wrap a bandage around it. On second thoughts; I take the bandage off, because it will just get really wet. The bleeding wasn’t that heavy, either.

I wash the rest of my body, then dive back in to refresh myself. I go as deep as I can, until the pressure builds in my ears so much it hurts. I float in the water there. I almost feel nothing, I certainly don’t hear anything, or smell or taste. I close my eyes. And then all I can feel is the sensation of very cold water on my skin, but soon even that fades as I acclimatise. I sink into my mind, thinking of nothing in particular.

A sudden pain in my chest hits me, and I gasp. Not a good idea, when you are under water. Water floods my lungs, and I kick madly for the surface. Can’t breathe, need to breathe, need to get rid of the water, can’t breathe, need to breathe, can’t- and then my face breaks the surface.

I cough and splutter, treading water. Sometimes, I forget I'm under water, and don’t notice until I'm almost unconscious. It’s only when the pain in my lungs is enough for me to notice it in my numb state that I surface. But I hadn't felt it for so long, I’d forgotten what to do. Or not do, in this case. Not to breathe, just swim up.

 

I swim back to the edge, and haul myself out and grab my clothes. I realise I was wearing some outfit of Faryne's, and that I have to wear it back home. A dress that’s basically a bunch of straps at the waist, tights, flesh coloured vest top for under the dress and a strange shawl/jumper that’s rib length. I put my undies on, and sit on the grass to sort my clothes. I remember to tie a bandage around the cut on my thigh; it’s started bleeding again.

Luckily, I have a sewing kit in my bag, otherwise I’d be stuffed. With the sun drying my skin, I get to work.

 

I leave the tights alone, because they are quite thick and aren’t that wrecked. I carefully rip the skirt part off the dress. Lucky for me, it wasn’t a ruffled skirt, just a kinda crepe type material. I sew down the middle of the skirt, turning it into a pair of shorts. I cut the wide straps that were sleeves for the dress off, and sew the bodice bit on to the strappy waist of the dress, which I sew on to the vest top. Then I cut arm holes in to the jumper thing, and sew it onto the top part of the vest top. I must have had some kind of sensible thoughts going through my head this morning, because I'm wearing good boots. I quickly dress, and decide I don’t like wearing tights. I cut them off at the knees, and cut the ends off the cut off. Then I take my improvised top off and sew the cast offs on so they're sleeves. As I slide the top back on, a thread catches on the burn on my face form the arena. Digging in my pack, I find the tub of concealer Faryne gave me this morning to hide my scars. I scoop some out on a finger tip and smear it over the burn. I feel about, and make sure all of the scar is covered; I'm not ready for my family to see it. Feeling a lot more comfy, I grasp an arrow, tie it onto a strong but thing branch at the head so it doesn’t snap, and start spear fishing.

 

It’s only when the sun starts to disappear behind the trees that I stop. I untie the arrow from the pole, tie the twelve  fish onto the pole and snap the head off the arrow. The shaft was wrecked from hitting the water, but the flint head was fine. I put my bag on, put a heavily laden pole on each shoulder, sling the bag of meats onto the front of the fish pole, my bow and arrows on to the front of the meat pole, and set off for home.

***

 

My family welcome the food, but not so much me. There is a stony silence around the table, broken only by the sound of eating and drinking. I thought I would be hungry after trekking through the forest, but I'm not. I eat a small amount of the rabbit stew, and an even smaller quantity of bread and honey. Then I go through to the bedroom my siblings and I share, and sleep.

 

The rest of the next couple weeks pass in much the same way; hunting, tidying the yard, not eating much and sleeping a lot. I spend as much time outside as possible, so I don’t have to put up with the atmosphere in the house. The only thing that keeps me going is the image of those yellow hills I have seared into my brain. When I close my eyes, that’s all I see. When I dream, they are always somewhere in the dream. They are the key to the prison I live in. I see them everywhere, anywhere. When I have nothing to do, I daydream about them; travelling to them, exploring them, living there. And that’s all they are. Daydreams.

I think about going all the time. And, the worst thing is, I could go. I could grab some food, and set off, just like that. But I don’t. I know where I stand here, how things work. If I leave, I will have to learn to survive differently, live a different life. And I don’t think I can do that. I belong here too much. This is my home, however much I hate it.

When I was little, I used to run away. Just to the woods; for a day or two. I would make a shelter; catch some food; sleep there and come back home in the morning when I was in a better mood. I haven’t done that in years, my family depend on me too much; they need the food I bring home each day.

 

But today is different. I can feel it. My leg is almost completely healed, and there is a lighter atmosphere in our house. If there wasn’t, I would take it as a sign that everything should go as normal. But everything isn’t normal, so I can go.

I take the opportunity to leave, just for a day. I feel like I need the space. I need to hear the birds singing without them being interrupted by noisy little kids, to see the animals acting peacefully, to be free. So I prepare, taking enough food for two days, just in case. And I go, in the morning, when no one else is awake.

 

The forest is silent; the birds that greet the sunrise not awake yet. The only sound is of my breathing and the stirring of the leaves on the trees in the slight breeze.  I trek on through the woods, following the familiar hunting routes. But when I reach the point in the trail where you can either head up the right side of the valley, or continue along up it; I take neither direction. Instead, I turn left, where no one ever hunts because of the thick vegetation and boggy ground. No people will be good for my plans for today.

 

The instant I turn off the hunters’ trails, the woods become alive with animals. Woodpeckers drum at the rotten trees, deer grazing in the distance. I walk fast, almost jogging. My pack bumps against my back, my arrows rattling gently in their quiver. Up a ridge, down the other side, into a valley. Up to the right, following the river. At about noon I stop and eat a small snack. Just a roll of dried meat and a mouthful of water. Then I set off again.

The woods become thinner, the trees less dense. The sides of the valley become steeper and rockier. The vegetation becomes more alpine, less violent splashes of orange, until I could almost believe that where we live was once part of a beautiful chain of mountains called the Alps, until the Fall happened. No one would say anything other than that in school; just there was an explosion that triggered something in the Earths crust that made all the elements go to certain places. That’s why we have horrible orange plants everywhere; lots of silicon went to this part of the earth, so certain plants that absorb that element turn orange. But as I journey up, the orange fades to a nicer purple, indicating there is more rhodium than silicon. The plants don’t actually reflect the colour of the element itself, but the colour it turns when it reacts with the special chemical in the element plants.

 

The valley floor starts to slope upwards, and the river narrows to a stream. As I round the last bend in the valley, I see my goal. The steep sides of the valley head rear up, a perfect half circle. Splashes of purple and green dot the vertical sides, small streams run down. I stop, and tug my boots and socks off. Step into the water of a stream. The coldness numbs my feet instantly, and makes me gasp. Here, I remember, the present element keeps the ground colder, meaning the glaciers are still here. Also, this part of the mountains are colder than most. I step out the stream, and the feeling slowly returns to my feet. I ease my socks and boots back on, and set off again.

The crispness of the air burns my lungs slightly, but it’s a welcome change to the muggy dampness of our village. I follow the little used path as it meanders along the stream. I jump over a bit that must have once had a bridge, but time and nature have worn it away. Without me telling them to, my feet veer off the path, and I’m wandering along an almost invisible rabbit trail. I start running, sensing something at the end of the trail. A roaring sound in my ears; and the air gets slightly colder. I burst from the trees, and the sight takes my breath away.

A waterfall, over one hundred feet high, towers above me. It slides down the slab like cliff, and hits the pools below, sending a fine spray over me. A rock sits in the middle of the pool. I drop my gear, and walk towards the falls. I spot a couple of smaller rocks below the surface, and pull my boots and socks off again.

I step onto the first stone, and feel the water lap around my toes. It tingles slightly, not freezing but more pleasant. Onto the second stone, which wobbles slightly, sending more water over the tops of my feet. The last one, which is deeper than the other two, is slightly slimy with purple weed, and I splash around a bit to keep my balance. The stone in the middle of the pool, which is more of a boulder, looms above me, looking a lot bigger than it did from the shore. I clamber up, and stand on top.

 

A fine spray washes over me, refreshing and cleansing. The water has a fine, silver-grey substance in it; I can see it better from above. The rhodium, released in the explosion, floating in the water. Several decades ago, mining machinery was put here to gather the rare metal, but then more was found on the less populated continents, so they abandoned the mines here. The woods grew back, and the mine tunnels all but forgotten. But excess rhodium flows from them all the time, out the underground stream and along the rivers. Outside of the forests, they dredge the rivers a lot to get any extra rhodium, but they only do it up here once every two years or so. As kids, we were scared of the big men with huge machines and strange voices, but as we got older we turned against them, trashing the machines, throwing rocks at the workers.

Sometimes, if you were out alone at night, they would try and pressgang you into the workforce, but we always escaped. Tommi was caught several times, and so was Lyam. I was only nicked once, mainly because I’m a girl, but also because I fought them every other time they tried.

 

I look up the falls, and see the water fall down, the particles of rhodium glinting in the sunlight. The spray bathes my face, washing away the dirt and sweat from my hike. I open my mouth, and feel the water moisten my dry mouth. It feels so good; I strip my tunic and leggings off and jump into the water, wearing just my undies. I open my eyes, but the water isn’t clear, it’s cloudy from the rhodium. I dive deeper, and reach the bottom of the pool. The slate bottom has dull silver bits of rhodium all over it, glinting in the weak light. An occasional bit of brighter silver silicon shines on the pool bottom, but it’s mainly all rhodium.

I reach out and scoop up a handful of the rhodium sand; marvelling at how people would pay so much for something so common to me.

 

I open my hand, watch the sand swirl away and then turn and swim up to the surface again. I clamber out the water, and sit on the boulder, soaking up the sun we so rarely get in the woods. As I regain the feeling in my skin, I notice a slight burning sensation, especially on the palm of my left hand, the one I picked the sand up with. I realise it’s because I'm not used to rhodium, I'm more used to silicon. I know that some people have died because they were exposed to a strong dose of an element that wasn’t their home element.

I shiver, and quickly pull my clothes back on. A blanket of clouds has covered the sky, and it’s starting to look stormy. I get back to the shore, put my socks and shoes on, gather my things and set off again.

I go along the little hidden path that led me to the pool, and soon find myself on the main(ish) path again. I head up the valley, towards the semi-circular head.

 

Now I think about it, I notice the effects of the different element more; I'm wheezy and the air burns as I breathe in. my exposed skin still burns slightly, and my eyes are watery. I find myself waking more slowly than I usually do, and try to speed, up, but that makes the wheeziness worse, so I slow down again. To distract myself from the discomfort in my lungs, I load my bow and star keeping an eye out for some food. This seems to make time go faster, because I start going uphill sooner than I expect. I put my bow away, because I need both hands to try and climb.

The climbing is hard going, as hard lumps of rhodium dot the cliff, sharp on my hands. Sometimes I grab hold of a bit of old, rotten stone, and my handhold disappears in a choking cloud of dust. But I eventually make it to my chosen place for lunch; an old chalet from before the Fall.

 

I circle the ruins of the chalet, hoping for some shelter. I spot a bit where the collapsed roof has propped up on a stable bit of wall, and squeeze under. No sooner than I'm under cover, the skies open and the rain pours down. Some drips through my shelter, so I dig my bit of thin blanket from my bag and put it on my head. Then I dig my food out my bag and have a good portion of cold venison with a juniper paste, some tough bread and a drink of the water I brought from home. As I pack my things away, I check my left palm, having not felt the burning for a while. I get a surprise as I look at it. A rash spreads across my hand, pale red at the edges, darker in the middle. It seems to made of spots, and some of them are purple-ish, the same purple as the element plants here. I bite my lip, worried. I don’t really have any medicines with me; I certainly don’t have a jar labelled for rhodium poisoning or anything like that. I just have some healing fern and bandages. I rub some fern on it, hoping it will calm the rash, which is starting to feel itchy. I wrap a bandage round it too, so it doesn’t scrape against anything.

I suddenly realise that the rain had stopped, and quickly pack my blanket away, and slide out of the shelter, holding my things out to the side.

 

I look at the sky, trying to judge if I have enough time to get to my destination. As I stare at the clouds, I see something very strange. It looked like a machine floating in the sky, sicking the clouds into it. But the clouds aren’t a normal colour, they seem… purple. Not very purple, but definitely purple. I blink, and the violet hue disappears. I concentrate on one cloud, and I can see the      purple-ness again. Even stranger, the cloud seems to be purple-r nearer the machine. As I stare at those clouds, I catch a glimpse of some orange and green too. The whole thing confuses me, until the pieces come together, and I realise what’s happening. The clouds are being harvested.

The clouds are made of water vapour, and the water here has elements in it, so if you harvest the clouds, you get the elements. They probably spray something on to the clouds to make their elemental colour more obvious, so they know what elements they're harvesting.

But even away from the machine, the clouds still look purple.

 Which is weird, because I thought everyone’s clouds looked like ours, slightly orange. Must be because the elemental colour is purple here, even though they certainly never told us about this in school, at least, not when I was there. I shrug, and start off again.

 

I make it to the top of the cliff just as the clouds clear. I check for the machine, and catch a glimpse of it before it just disappears. I shake my head, and turn to look at the cliff top I'm standing on.

Ahead of me, there is a flat plateau, slowly sloping up until it steepens and becomes another mountain. To my left and right, the cliff edge starts to curve back into the semi-circle. I turn and look down in the valley I climbed out of. It suddenly looks very small, the pool I dived in a miniature blue patch, the boulder and stepping stones invisible.

I look down the cliff face, and my stomach clenches as the ground swims around below. The cliff suddenly feels a lot higher. And there is no way I will be able to climb down that way. Luckily, I know another way down, though I would have preferred to go down the way I came up.

 

I turn to my left, and walk across the almost flat expanse of loose rock. To my left there is a ridge of rock that steepens and becomes a mountain ridge, slightly to my right a mountain. I'm aiming for just to the right of the mountain, where I know there is a secret valley I can stay.

My feet dislodge the flat pieces of slate that makes up the plateau, which I have now decided is more like a flat scree. The pieces of slate slip and slide under my feet as I walk, making things treacherous. There is little vegetation up here, the occasional clump of grass or a stunted bush no higher than my knees cling to the patches of bed rock, uncovered by the smaller pieces of slate.

 

It is even slower going than on the flat in the valley, but eventually I reach the base of the mountain. Now the flat expanse becomes a real scree, steeply sloping with even less vegetation on it. I turn left slightly, and head along, parallel to the mountain. At one point I slip, and reach out with my right hand to stop myself, and a piece of slate cuts my hand, but when I reach the valley entrance, I am otherwise unscathed.

 

I take one last look at the flat scree, the valley below impossible to see from here. All I can see is the mountains stretching out, forests in the increasingly wider valleys between them. The sight of the forests reminds me of home, and I turn away quickly, not liking the feeling of longing I get.

I peer into the shadowy valley before me, little more than a dip in the ground just now. I don’t really know what it’s like down there; I just read it somewhere and then saw the route to get to it on a map. But it can’t be that bad. I mean; there are trees, I can hear the sounds of a stream, with both of those things, there is bound to be some animals to catch for food. I take a deep breath and step in to the shadows.

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