Have you ever watched an animal die? I've seen it many times in my life - how else do you survive in the wilderness? - but Midnight is the only woman I have seen kill an animal as if she were putting it to sleep.
But gutting and cleaning the dead thing, well, that was a different show all-together.
“I would appreciate some help,” she said through gritted teeth, sawing through the carcass's bones. Her hands were dipped in blood and there were droplets drying on her upper-arms and face.
“You're the woman,” I told her, regarding my map, “Ye prepare the meals.”
“Afraid to get dirty, Thomas?” she asked, throwing slimy red guts in my direction.
It slapped onto my face, knocking me sideways, the blood seeping into my mouth before I could even react. I pulled the organs away from my person and spat the metallic taste from my mouth.
“That was mean and unnecessary,” I remarked.
“You're mean and unnecessary!”
“Ye got blood all o'er my map!”
“I'm your wife. This is how I prepare food. Deal with it or help.”
“Throwin' intestines in my face is part o' your meal preparation?”
“Irritating you to an immeasurable degree is part of my meal preparation.”
“Oh? Why's that?”
“Snide comments about gender roles, maybe?”
“Fine,” I laughed, “I'll start a fire, but please - no more mess? We look and smell like we haven't seen a decent bath in years.”
Midnight scowled, but resumed hacking away at the dead animal. When she has eventually cleaned and cut up the meat, we cooked it over the fire and ate.
“We need to find some clean water today,” Midnight commented, “I need to wash up,” she shivered in revulsion, “and then drown you.”
“That's easier said than done,” I laughed, “The Fountain, if I'm reading the map right, isn't far from here. Ye can drown me there, I'll die happy and young.”
“What?” Midnight scoffed.
“Well, ye'll be drownin' me, won't ye? In the Fountain of Youth?”
“I don't understand you. You're making no sense.”
“Legend has it that the Fountain gave youth and health to all those that drank and bathed in its waters. Naked.”
“I'll be drowning you. Fully-clothed.”
“Some things, Midnight, aren't always subject t'your will. I'll still have hands.”
Midnight shook her head, “Your body might have aged, Thomas, but it's clear your mind hasn't.”
“Ye were the one that said ye wanted t'wash up and t'drown me in fresh water. Ye also made me filthy wi' your dead animal wrestlin'.”
“When I said 'drown', I meant 'drown'.”
“Yes, well when ye said 'drown', I heard-”
“Thomas, please?” Midnight sighed and then continued, “You said something about people guarding the Fountain? How do we get passed them?”
I showed her my blood-stained map. She regarded the sheet of paper with interest.
“There's a passage this way, leadin' directly to the Fountain, but away from the guards,” I explained, “If we can fill a canister and drink from the fount before they take notice - we can get out o' there and they'll be none the wiser.”
“So what's the catch?”
“You're going to sit there and tell me it's that easy?”
I stared at her for a while, “I was hopin' to...”
“The passage is a crawl-space right in the midst of a flood-plain-”
She raised a finger, “Yesterday, we had to wade through a bog. Today you're telling me - what, exactly?” she raised her brows, her face becoming red, “That I'll be squirming through one?”
She stood up and kicked dirt over the fire to put it out and then said in a very threatening manner, “If we find no Fountain, Thomas, after all of this - I swear to God, you will die a depressed old man drowned in toad-shit!”
I was trying my luck, with what I said next, “I always thought ye were harder than this, Midnight.”
“You've seen me do a lot of crazy things, Thomas,” she said in a cold little voice, “For your own sake: Don't?”