Why do all the sexy chicks have to live so freakin' far away??
Looking over at her discreetly, he had to stop his eyes from wandering downwards. Maybe since he was driving her up into the boonies, he would get laid! A body part of him got excited at that. Jack grinned to himself, hopeful, "So... Mona... I know you mentioned you were out of school, did you get a degree..." He looked away to the winding road, "Or something?"
Mona looked out the window, hair still up, wearing her normal jeans and... a t-shirt that didn't have paint stains on it. Honestly, the guy had practically blackmailed her into this thing, so there was no way in hell she was dressing up. She got a free dinner out of it, though, and figured she might be able to get away without even having to kiss him. She suddenly missed her steel-toed boots.
"Or something," Mona replied, already looking bored with this conversation. The feel of his eyes on her was creepy enough. "I got two degrees, a few states over from here. Economics and biochemistry. You?" She prompted him just in case he felt like being interesting. This entire night had been like pulling teeth.
"I'm working on a physical therapy degree, over at San Jose State." He said proudly, if that could make him appear more manly although he was a little daunted at her... schooling. Jack knew he wasn't bad looking, with dyed black hair, a hint of eyeliner and clean shaven. If he played his cards right, this would be a breeze. All he would have to do would be invited in... then he could make out with her and maybe, maybe
more. He quietly giggled to himself, masking it with a more masculine laugh. "Wow, quite the student aren't you?" His blue eyes watched the road, dismissing the deer crossing sign.
Mona had to suppress her eye-rolling at the boasting of his schooling. She was two inches away from snapping that she was so unaroused by him, her crotch could start a forest fire. "I'm good at what I do. Where are you going to PT school? I had a roommate who was in that major." ...mostly she just really didn't want to give this guy any more personal information than was necessary. He had already insisted on driving, so Jack knew where she lived. Made a girl wanna stab herself in the face.
He was about to answer when he looked over at her, with an odd grin on his face when something flashed across the road in front of them. "SHIT!" Jack freaked out and yanked on the wheel to avoid it. The thing had looked to be a black ostrich or some type of huge bird of sorts, however it had disappeared so quickly that one would indeed second guess the glance. Being only 21, he was not so experienced to brake, instead he accidentally pressed the gas and turned the car, sending them rolling.
Under pressure, Mona wasn't exactly the picture of cool. She screamed, flinging her arms up to cover her head as suddenly her world was sent spinning, closing her eyes tightly to send them into a more familiar darkness. Mona saw the bird and wasn't so quick to second-guess herself, but she had
to. No way was that at all possible. Of course, the girl was mostly freaking the hell out internally. If she survived the car wreck, she was taking a few of the boy's more important organs as souvenirs.
Then everything went black.
Jack moaned in pain a few hours later, struggling to sit up. Mona was laying next to him, still unconscious, with blood dripping from her brow. "Shit. I killed her!" His voice trembled, much like a premature boy, before he swallowed... then poked her. Jack currently couldn't feel the cuts and bruises he sustained thanks to shock.
A few moments later, Mona groaned, cracking an eye open. Her vision was swimming them, and her brain felt fuzzy. And she was being poked. "Touch me again and I cut off the fingers," she coughed, voice randomly raspy until she felt where the seat belt had cut into her throat. Mona stayed still until her world made a little more sense, then moved to look around herself.
Strangely enough, the sun was up, and by its position it was close to noon. The long grass they were laying in was dry, surrounded by other shoots of the bright green stuff, as well as mounds of dirt. "Wha... where are we?" Jack shrilled, gripping his shoes in his hands while rocking forward.
Mona pushed herself up on her elbows before shoving herself up to sit, her hand going to her forehead. They came back slick and red. "Head wounds bleed more, it probably just looks like shit," she muttered to herself, trying not to get more worried than she already was.
She looked around, getting to her feet as quickly as she was able. "It is over twelve hours after we got in the wreck, and the car we were in is nowhere to be seen," Mona muttered, hand going to her head as she surveyed their surroundings. "But really, out of all of our problems... yeah. 'Where are we' seems one of the more pressing concerns." Because this landscape didn't look familiar at all. It didn't look like they were even in the same part of the United States,
much less California. "Can you walk?"
"Walk? WALK?! Where are we gonna walk to? The local 7-Eleven?!" He replied hysterically, his voice shrilling painfully to anyone near. Jack stood to be level with her. His yelling made some birds in a nearby tree fly away, and movement shivered through the grass. Some nickering noises, like horses sounded and a few moose-like heads, covered in dark green and grass fur lifted to look at the humans unknowingly amidst their herd.
Mona crouched a little, noticing the animals and freezing. "Sh-shut up, Jack," she hissed. "We need to... walk out of here. Slowly." She gripped his arm, backing away from the wild, unpredictable animals. Not that horses or moose or whatever really scared her... but she didn't know what they would do, really. She just didn't want to have to run. Mona wasn't sure she could go all that fast right now.
More of their heads popped up, and Jack still didn't seem to notice. He was whining like a little girl, "Why the fuck did you have to live out in the boonies??" His slight amount of makeup was a muck, as well as his several bleeding cuts and scrapes, not to mention he was hysterical. More of the creature's heads raised, the two humans being completely surrounded now.
Flinching, Mona saw the animals start to get agitated, the more noise Jack made. "Jesus Christ,
you whiny little prick, you're going to get us killed
," she snapped at him, letting him go. The largest one there snorted, shaking his head vigorously. Mona took a deep breath, wondering how to get out of this. She couldn't make a run for it. And it's not like she could pull a cowboy and get on the back of one. Mona started trying to make soothing noises at the creatures. "Shhh, shhh..." She didn't want to die yet.
He finally noticed the animals and cowardly crouched down, then, glancing at Mona, he ran off for the tree. The animals shied away from him, but he was able to safely climb away and out of harm. Couldn't say the same for her. The animals turned to the right, bellowing in surprise at his beeline as the massive herd started to move.
Mona took a step to follow Jack, pushing her anger to the back of her mind, just wanting to get out of the way. Then the herd started to move, especially from her perspective, the girl getting dizzy already. She stumbled and almost fell, but Mona gritted her teeth and glared at her surroundings. Like hell she was going down so easily. She started to move with the herd, praying she wouldn't get crushed between any of them.
A few crafty footsteps and a lot of darting around later, she broke free, the herd milling around her. Mona fell against what felt to be rock, seeing a cliff face and nowhere to go. Blood was dripping into one of her eyes as she turned around, seeing the same large animal who had been more worked up separate from the herd and focus in on her. Mona felt at the cliff for a rock, something to throw to deter him, or distract him so she could get out of the way, anything. Mona had no idea what this place was but damned if she wasn't sticking around to find out.
The beast, with an impressive set of antlers lowered it's head, bellowing in anger while the gigantic herd thundered by behind him. A distinct sound echoed to the right, as a large bird raced along the cliff edge, opening its small wings and cawing. The beast stopped its charge to look at it, cowering back. A man leapt down from the bird, spreading black translucent wings with the avian, turning the creature away and back into his herd.
Mona, of course, didn't let down her guard. Apparently the lesser of two evils just ran away, if its reaction to the newcomer was anything to go by. She pressed herself to the cliff, eyes wide as she panted, staring at the man. A rock had appeared in her hand and she clutched it so hard her knuckles turned white. Other than that, she went still. Maybe he'd go after the douche hiding in the tree. There wasn't enough adrenaline to power her through this.
Flexing his wings, they shimmered, then disappeared as he turned around,in buckskin pants with a tunic over it and sleeveless. The bird next to him relaxed, glancing over with beady black eyes as the man faced her and brushed back some reddish brown locks. "Are you okay?" His accent was different then an Americans, different, but not unpleasant.
There was a silence as Mona regarded the stranger with a wide-eyed gaze. Then shock finally caught up to her and she sank to her knees, legs giving out. "Oh thank god," she breathed, dropping the rock to the ground. "You weren't going to kill me. And you speak English." She opened her eyes, narrowing them at him slightly. "...you speak English." The possibility of that, if sucked into another world, seemed astronomically small.
Confused slightly, he took in her clothing respectively, while the herd of grass covered creatures still milled behind them. The giant bird clacked its beak, and the man shushed it, "Quiet Mouse. Listen... um, you're not from around here... are you?" He tilted his head, staring at her with his blue and green eyes.
Mona laughed a little, looking down at her outfit, then comparing it with his tunic. "...heh. That obvious, huh?" Mona rubbed the back of her head, then frowned at her reddened fingers on that hand. No, this was a time to ignore certain injuries. She needed to save their collective asses, first. "Hey... So this is going to sound crazy, but I swear it's not. Jack and I--Jack is the tree ninja back there that abandoned me," she added, pointing in the direction she had come. "We had been driving to my place and we crashed. Can you tell us where we are? There was no car when we came to. Maybe somebody dragged us here?" She frowned, attempting a pout at the stranger... although she was sure she looked hideous. Hey, if it got her better tips every once in a while, maybe it would work on them not being stranded. Or, more importantly, Mona not being left alone
The man blinked once, frowning as he twisted slightly to look in the direction of the tree before he asked, "Ninja? Car?" So far it appeared he was unaffected by looks, good or bad. Mouse clacked his beak again, the giant bird swaying before turning around to nuzzle the man's arm. "Oh... Ah, may the elements never be silent, I'm Chado, this is Mouse. We are standing on the Awning Hook, in the S'wo plains." He curiously didn't ask her where she was from, but implied a return name.
"Uh... hah, that's a... long way from the valley." Mona struggled to stand, using the cliff as a support and then leaning on it once she was upright. No, of course she wasn't dizzy, and she resented the accusation. "I'm Mona. It's nice to meet you, Chado..." She looked at the bird, marveling at how huge it was. "Mouse. Cute name." She peered closer at the large bird, blinking at it. It somehow seemed familiar... but she couldn't remember much of the crash, so that's why she was having issues placing it.
She rubbed her temples, trying to absorb this. "Man. I musta gotten knocked around harder than I thought. You have a giant bird and--you're gonna laugh--I swear to God you were flying
." She laughed, then clapped. "So I'm crazy. Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore... Listen, Chado? I'm horribly lost and Jack, the boy over there, is utterly useless. I know it might be an imposition, but could you help me out?" She pressed her hands together. "Please. I don't know how I could pay you back, but I will. Promise. I'll work it off."
"Repay? Why... would I ask you to repay? You need help." Chado patted Mouse's beak and the creature immediately raced off to the tree. "You are injured..." He resisted the urge to extend a hand to her, "I have to get you to our village." Thinking she was slightly delirious, as it was obvious he could fly, Chado handed her his water skin.
"...village? Really?" Mona rested her head back against the cliff. "Definitely somewhere over the rainbow." She lifted her head back up enough and gratefully accepted the water skin, guessing what was in it and knowing she needed some of that. She tilted back her head to let it pour in her mouth a few seconds, swallowing and sighing deeply. "Seriously, though. Thanks." Mona waved a hand at the most obvious injury. "And it's nothing."
He shook his head, "I'm sure it's something." He said, completely missing the fact that she was meaning it like it was no big deal. Mouse was back a moment later, with a sobbing Jack in it's beak. "He wouldn't get on your back?" Chado asked, a little confused at that as Mouse made a sound of annoyance. "You have a saddle on your back." Shrugging, "So... this is Jack?" He glanced over at him, unimpressed.
"...yeah. That's Jack." Mona sounded a bit beyond unimpressed and all the way to angry. "Mouse, if you could put him down, please." The moment Jack was on his feet... Mona wound back and slapped him, the resulting sound like a gunshot.
"So first you rile up the wild animals
with your constant bitching, and then leave the woozy girl behind to deal with it?" she was yelling. "You shimmied up a tree and let me almost get run over? The only other person around, as far as you know, and you abandon them? When I was willing to stick around you as you slowly pissed off every organism around? You are the most pathetic excuse for a human I've met." Mona felt her anger draining. "Damn. I don't have the energy for this. You're lucky I didn't leave you behind right now." No, not really. The girl has some morality, and wouldn't leave Jack behind to get eaten by this forest's equivalent of wolves. "Hnn. You said there was a village?" Mona turned to Chado, shrugging off her frustration as best she could
Wide eyed, Chado had to quickly shake his head to remove the dumb look on his face from her rant while a shocked-into-silence Jack got back to his feet. "Um yeah... I can take you there, however... they will-- might think I did this to you. Can you make sure to tell them I didn't?" He was meek when asking that, in a quiet baritone. "It's a day to the north." The giant bird trilled off a few notes as if saying something to Chado, of which he nodded in acknowledgment.
"Of course you didn't do this to us," Mona replied, shocked. "I mean, I'll tell them whatever, no problem..." Did this guy have a reputation as a troublemaker? Was it because of the giant bird he had? That might do it for Mona, if Mouse wasn't starting to grow on her. The bird, he or she, seemed intelligent, and could actually communicate easily with Chado. How would someone not like a giant, genius bird?
Mona rocked back on her heels, studying the sky. It was still close to noon... weird how not that much time had passed. "Damn. I hope you know where north is... if it even works the same here." Mona muttered that last part. Yeah, okay, she may already be thinking of this as a video game. "But we should go soon. I have people who are going to worry if I'm gone for too long." She hesitated. "...er, is there a stream nearby? Somewhere where I can wash the blood out of my hair..." She didn't want it on her for a day. Gross. And probably really bad for her. Mona glanced at Jack, who was probably still freaking out about his various cuts and bruises.
He valiantly tried to meet her gaze, but he failed miserably. Most likely he was suffering from just as much shock as her... and obviously couldn't deal with it as well. Chado however was naturally making him look bad. How could Jack measure up to this newcomer? Chado looked down at him, puzzlement in his features. Jack groaned to himself and knew he couldn't.
"I was born there, I would hope I know my way back," Chado chuckled softly to himself before picking through several saddle bags. When he retrieved some bandages, the man took back his water skin and dampened the masterly woven linen back to her. "This is the best I can do unfortunately."
"It should be okay..." Mona took the bandages and used them to wipe her face of blood, at least. As for the wound in her head... She stared at them blankly. She didn't know how to bandage up a head wound... and maybe the guy wanted them back? But they were gross now, a little...
Chado idly scratched at a fresh scar and smiled, "If I may," He asked politely, then folded another piece and tied it up across her forehead. "It just looks like a scratch," Ducking his head, "Bleeds a lot, but isn't serious." Only glancing at the other man, Chado dismissed his injuries, "If you climb onto Mouse, Jack, he will take you to my village."
Holding out his hand, "You and I will fly."
"Yeah, head wounds bleed more because there are a lot of blood vessels near the skin," Mona said absently as her fingers trailed along the edge of the bandage. It felt neat and secure, which made her relax a little.
Her gaze darted between the giant bird that Jack got to ride, lucky asshole, and then--"Yes," she blurted out. "...I mean, alright. Traveling by foot would probably take too long." Who would say no to flying? Mona held out her own hand, then hesitated. "Er... well. I don't have my own set of wings..." Maybe everybody in this hallucination had them.
Chado leaned back slightly, "...You mean... you don't know what I am?" His plain face was puzzled, and he took a moment to run a hand through his hair. "I'm a borne, specifically, I'm a darkborne." He ducked his chin to his collar and stared at the ground, expecting her to recoil and refuse his help further. When she didn't, Chado raised his head slightly to look at her.
"...right." Mona raised an eyebrow at him, a hand resting on her hip as she stared quizzically. "I think I was born during the daytime. Around noon. Is this a culture thing, or...?"
Tilting his head again, Chad's gaze flickered to Mouse, who cheeped suddenly and dashed off with a screaming Jack barely holding on. Nodding to himself, Chado's form flickered black, as ebony feathers burst away from him, revealing translucent midnight colored wings, with dark violet tips. Wicked looking talons flexed from the carpal joints. "I told you..." He said quietly, "I'm a darkborne, follower of the goddess Ink."
If he was expecting Mona to run away screaming, poor boy was going to have to get used to disappointment. Her eyes widened, then went to scan his entire form, taking in all the changes and details as quickly as possible. She even reached out a hand, wanting to touch the wings. "Man, this dream I don't want to wake up from," she murmured. Can't be scared of a hallucination, that was her philosophy.
Blushing, Chado couldn't help a bit of attraction to her at that. No one before her had looked at him in awe like she was doing. "Come... We should catch up to Mouse." He extended his hand again.
"Yeah, good call." Mona took his hand, wondering how this was going to work. Was it a Peter Pan moment, where she'd suddenly start floating? Or get her own wings?
Not that magical. Chado used her hand to flip her around, then used the momentum to toss her into his arms. Instantly they rose into the air, silent. The wings moved as if they were his, but it was obvious they were a separate entity.
Well, they were mostly silent. Mona squeaked and clung to Chado, her eyes wide but not looking away from the retreating ground. "This goes against most of the related laws of physics!" she gasped, oddly excited. "I've never had a flying dream before."
"Dream? This is no dream." Chado muttered, focusing on getting above a thin cloud line. Below them, clearly marked against the green was the racing form of Mouse, with a fainted Jack on his back. "How did you get with that kid anyway?" Chado asked boldly... flushing right after at his tone.
Mona let out an annoyed huff, holding onto his shoulders tightly as she leaned away to survey the ground. Death wish? Not really, but she wasn't a sissy. This was kind of awesome. "...with him? I'm only with Jack in the sense that we were in the same car that crashed and ditched us here," she replied, voice loud to carry through the wind, her eyes traveling all over the land, trying to get a good feel of the climate through what plants she could see. Yay taking ecology so very many years ago! "Trust me, the moment I'm with him is the moment my life is truly worthless. Hey." Sudden change of topic! "Can you do a loop? I mean, with me. I have no desire to be dropped."
"I see," The borne replied, though not understanding the mysterious car thing again. Carefully, he scanned the horizon for any storm clouds before nodding to her, "That we ca-" before he finished Chado performed a slight stunt where he twisted onto his back then tilted his wings so they shot straight downwards. Excitement was evident in his eyes as he rolled them back over, then upwards again for a large loop. "That good?"
Mona flung her arms around his neck and shrieked, which before long turned into a laugh, the same startled noise people would make on a roller coaster. "Oh my GOD that was cool!" she laughed, completely forgetting about her bruises and whatnot for now. "I gotta get me some of those."
Directly below, Mona saw Mouse and his unconscious passenger, and snorted. "...pussy." This was muttered, and low, so it might not carry over the wind.
Chado smiled softly, then returned to just normal flying. The fact that borne were chosen from birth meant that likely she would not get one. He frowned, then closed his eyes briefly to send a prayer to Ink. Maybe they would make an exception. The flight lasted about an hour longer, and Chado grew a little anxious about his return.
She didn't exactly nap, but after fifteen minutes of excitement she relaxed a bit more. Mona was dozing in and out, not quite able to fall asleep so high above the ground, but... she felt rather safe. Chado didn't seem to be getting tired holding her, in any case.
Little cues in his body language woke her up a bit and let her know that something was wrong. "What's up?" she yawned, before remembering her manners. "Er, you don't have to tell me. If you don't want." She figured something was wrong. He wasn't physically fidgety, but it was written all over his face.
He looked away, his eyes trailing over the terrain as there started to be more trees then before, till his eyes finally moved to hers, "I have been away for the last week. And... due to my element, the others do not trust me. They think I am evil." Chado shook his head, "That evil that my element represents was destroyed about 47 years ago, thanks to the Charred Heart. My village still holds it against me, but it isn't like I asked Ink to give me the dark! It just ...happened."
Mona looked at Chado and then at her hands, frowning a little as she put the pieces together. Hey, if this was a dream, she should try her best to be in the loop. He said he was darkborne, and someone called Ink gave him the dark. She was guessing the dark was an element. That somehow gave him wings. Anyway, dark used to be evil until... the Charred Heart? Mona was guessing that was an event. However, the memory of dark being evil was still fresh. This all rushed through her mind, and Mona nodded. "I'm not familiar with any of that, but I think I understand," she said. "I mean, similar things happened where I'm from, kinda. Humans are kinda mean." She smiled at him, wondering what it would be like to never be trusted by your own people. "Sounds like a metric shitton of suck," she stated eloquently. "Don't worry. I don't think you're evil. I know it doesn't help any, but yeah. I think my opinion matters."
"Well thank you. It matters to me," He said truthfully, smiling a little. Chado went back to being quiet as Mouse cawed below them and several thin trails of smoke drifted through a clearing in the forest. "This is Urupe village," He told Mona, circling once before making a slow landing. Several of the towns people came out to watch, sour looks on their faces. Once person however, an elder woman look worried, as she was the villages healer.
Mona's grip became tighter at the landing, but she released him and shakily dropped to her feet. "You're too tall, I'm telling you now," she said, grinning a little as her knees wobbled. She shoved some of her hair from her eyes and gave the townspeople another glance. Remembering Chado's earlier request, she raised a hand in greeting. "Hullo!" she said. "To preface our meeting I would like to say that Chado saved me and in no way hurt me." Mona pressed a palm to her forehead, a little dizzy again as she came down from the high of being... up so very, very high. "I'm Mona. N-nice to meet you..."
Steadying her, Chado stared at the ground while the older woman stepped forward and bowed, then took her by the hand, "Come lets get you cleaned up," The villagers just stood their ground, unsure of what do to with the strange people. Jack luckily was still unconscious and someone dragged him off of Mouse. Even if Chado was a darkborne, Mouse was sent from the gods, and they treated him as such.
"Thanks..." Mona felt like collapsing, the worry and everything catching up to her. She felt like Chado would have helped out, but from the moment she realized she wasn't at home--dream or no--she had been worrying that she'd have to learn how to rough it. "I really appreciate it." No telling how she would have fared with the additional burden of a Jack. Glad she didn't have to figure out how to hunt and build a fire while the boy whined in the background, she just followed the old woman.
Chado watched them go, then took off again. People were already starting to glare at him. Taking her to a hut, the woman spread the beaded curtain aside for two men who carried Jack in, then kept it open for her to enter. It was a very efficient building, having a fire in the center, and cabinets on the sides with a small wooden desk amidst the many tubes and containers. A little creature, grey with a cream belly leapt off one of the shelves, gliding gracefully to the woman's shoulder. "If you will lay down over there," She pointed to a cot, made from wooden legs and a curious mesh stretched over it. The two men place Jack on a similar cot before exiting respectively. "My name is Espira, I am a follower of Cory... and this is Samson, sent from the gods." She was of course meaning the flying squirrel type creature on her shoulder.
Espira was shorter then Mona, with brilliant white hair and light brown eyes. Her braids went past her shoulders, with multiple feathers inlaid in her hair and beaded fringes on her clothing. "I am this villages healer."
Mona sat on the edge of the cot, looking over at Jack. "Nice to meet you, Espira," she said. "I'm mostly fine... so is Jack. He just passed out because he had to ride Mouse. I think he has a weak constitution." She looked at Espira, cocking her head. "...does everybody around here fly?" ...Mona wasn't laying down. Yet. Honestly, she just needed the blood rinsed out of her hair! And maybe new bandages.
The healer was looking at her bandage, making a sound of approval, "I taught Chado well it seems." Espira was one of the few who actually interacted with Chado on a more normal of a basis. "And... well no, not everyone. The nonborne obviously don't, but we... we do." She was a little puzzled that this woman did not know this, but she proceeded to explain as if Mona had simply lost her memory. "I am a Floraborne, follower of Cory. So naturally I picked up healing very quickly, because my element is life, and nature." Samson on her shoulder cheeped.
"Mmkay, darkborne is dark element, so floraborne is flora... plants. Got it." Mona looked back up to Espira. "And Cory is a god, I'm guessing... And there are nonborne, people without... elements. Powers, I suppose." She smiled at Espira apologetically. "Sorry, Jack and I are... not from around here. So this is all rather new." A split second later she started thinking about the ramifications of that sentence, if this was a place that she could get in trouble for being an outsider. ...but Espira taught Chado! If they all thought he was evil, she must not, which meant she couldn't be all that bad. ...she hoped.
...if they chased them out of town she was leaving Jack behind.
Nodding, "You're an otherworlder. I've heard of people that appear in strange clothing," She moved her head to point to hers, "- and not knowing where they are, or what our culture is. They have not felt the presence of our gods, instead follow one, or none, nor have they seen the ones they follow like we have." Espira explained. "Our land Tnemele-" Which sounded like 'temelay', "...is unstable. The Rifts fluctuate often, creating portals from other worlds that lead here."
Mona brightened considerably. "So this has happened before! I don't know why that makes me relieved, but it does." Suddenly hoping a bit more, she added, "is there any way for these people to get back home? I mean, has anybody gone back through the Rifts?"
Espira shook her head, "None have ever gone back. Perhaps the gods know why, or how, but they do not appear often. Maybe, if you track down the Charred Heart's daughter... she can help you." The woman placed her hands on Mona's temple, uttering a quiet prayer as a hum filled the room. When she was finished with that cut, she tsked over bruises, healing a few other cuts then decided she was well enough. Espira then moved onto Jack, not speaking anymore.
Blinking in surprise, Mona's hand went to press where the cut had been, and... nothing. The other cuts closed up as well. "Oh my god, the biochemical ramifications of this..." She was still trying to wrap her mind around it when Espira was done healing the still-unconscious Jack. Then again, she was also filing away the information about the Charred Heart and modifying her thoughts. It was a person, not an event. She'll ask directions when Jack woke up.
Standing up straight, Espira brushed her hands free of any dust or dirt, "Well, he's fine now, just napping I think." The floraborne turned back to Mona, "How are you feeling? Are you hungry?" She reached into a pot, withdrawing some herbs, "I make a delicious cooked quail, if you can talk Chado into hunting for me."
"...I've never had quail before in my life, but that sounds amazing," Mona said. She undid the bandages to pull them all the way off, still feeling along that spot in amazement, and got to her feet. Even her headache was gone. "I'll go try and bully him into hunting." She winked at Espira to let the older woman know she was kidding about bullying Chado. She figured it might have been an issue in the past.
Mona worked on fixing her long hair as she walked out of the hut, putting it back up in a neater ponytail and looking around. She didn't see him immediately, so she just went up to the nearest villager who looked relatively normal. "I'm sorry, have you seen Chado?" she asked, tucking stray locks of hair behind her ears.
The man, who had been cleaning off a wet hide looked up at her, seeing that she wasn't from around. "Look up." Was all he said, before moving into another hut. What he had meant was that Chado was constantly circling the village.
Her head immediately tilted up, eyebrows popping up. "...thanks," she called after him before waving her arms at Chado, wondering how long he had been up there. She had forgotten about the whole 'flying' thing.
Instantly, the figure that was him began to descend, making for an area off to the side of the village, where women washed clothing. It was such a day that the women were no where to be found. He landed gracefully, letting the wings disappear.
Mona furrowed her eyebrows when Chado didn't land by her, but she headed off in that direction, waving when she saw him touch down. "Hey, so," she huffed, having run most of the way there. "Espira and I were talking and it turned to you hunting down a quail." She fixed him with what she hoped was a dazzling grin. Dazzling!
"I see..." Chado answered, "I'm glad that she was able to fix you up. She is one of the few to treat me... like a person I guess." Smiling, Chado raised a hand as Mouse ran into the area, cawing softly, "We have to take a small trip to the quail nesting ground." At that, the borne gripped the saddle on the forest strider's back and reached a hand down to help her up as well in front of him.
Even having watched Chado do it first, Mona was slow to figure out how to get into a saddle when someone was already in it, and she was clumsy in her attempt. But she got up with a lot of help from Chado, and without kicking anything in the sternum. She leaned forward a little and ran a curious hand down Mouse's back, where she could touch, lightly petting the slick feathers. "Quail have nesting grounds? Sweet."
"These quail do, not sure about other places." Chado casually said, patting Mouse's neck as the bird started to walk North East, then broke into a trot. Trees began to become blurs, and Mouse let out caw of excitement. Leaping over crevasses, he was easily outrunning anything in the area and had no fear.
Mona pressed herself against Chado, her grip tight on the saddle horn to try and keep herself on the bird. The movement was more jerky than a horse, but she still found herself grinning. Man... this dream was cool. When else did she get to ride a giant bird?
It wasn't long before Mouse stopped running, as they entered a strange area of the forest. Being very dark, and covered by thorny berry bushes, Chado jumped down carefully. "I can see perfectly well here, but I am sure you cannot." He held out his arms to help her down.
"...yeah, my night vision kind of sucks hardcore," she whispered, voice naturally hushing in the dark. "I think I left my night vision goggles in my other pants." She could at least see Chado offering his help and accepted it, reaching out so she could get some support on his arms while being guided by him as to where to land. "...I don't think I'm gonna be a lot of help on this hunting trip," she said, her statement ending in a breathless giggle.
Chado laughed quietly, "That's alright." Making sure she was settled, he reached back over Mouse and withdrew a light metal pole wrapped with mixed purple and black cloth grips. "Stay here," He whispered, creeping into the underbrush.
Mona pressed against Mouse, getting as close as possible as she listened closely to the sounds around them. Her hand nervously pet Mouse in a soothing manner, although it was obviously not the bird that needed to be soothed. "Why couldn't you be white?" she joked, squinting to see his inky blackness in the dark of the thickets. "Or glow-in-the-dark. So inconsiderate, Mouse." Mona tried not to jump at every noise, just jutting her chin in the air in defiance of all the things that were obviously out to scare her. The bird's presence was comforting, at least.
He snorted, cooing lightly to her. There was a loud crash in the forest, and the sound of a bird crying out, then silenced. Mouse ruffled his feathers as Chado came back, carrying a bird with a small black feather on the tip of it's head. "Here we are, dinner. Espira sends me to hunt a lot because she dislikes taking a life." Tying the bird to the saddle, Chado placed his hands on her hips and lifted her to the seat. "Sorry," He muttered, in case he startled her.
Everybody needs love. Which is why Mona squeaked and buried her face into Mouse's side at the noise. It was like a hug. She visibly relaxed some when it was just Chado with a dead bird, although she was a little shocked at how easily he picked her up. Mona might not be fat but she definitely wasn't all that light. "N-no, sometimes my heart tries to jump out my throat," Mona stammered, still working to get it under control. "It's genetic. Don't worry. This quail had better be delicious." She managed a smile at that point. "Get on before I ditch you."
Chado tilted his head, much like a bird, "Mouse wouldn't leave me..." Shrugging off the statement, Chado jumped up on his bonded's back behind her, lightly tapping his sides. The trip back was just as quick, arriving back at the village in the late afternoon. Slipping down, Mouse crouched so Mona could get down by herself and they all walked back to Espira's hut.
Mona was sure Mouse would help her ditch Chado. She was way cuter! ...okay, so Mouse would buck her off. But still. She gave the bird one more pat as they reached the village, silently thanking him for not wandering off while they were in the thicket, and headed back. Mona drew up short in the tent. "...Jack woke up?" she asked, not seeing him in his cot.
Espira stood from the corner, the scent of sage drifting through the air as she had lit some incense. "He awoke, was gibbering about needing to urinate and wandered off. I think he went off to another part of the village." Her eyes widened when she saw the bird hanging from Chado's hand and smiled, "Ah... you have our dinner." The darkborne handed it to her, bowing lightly with his head.
"Would you like to hear a story Mona, while I pluck and prepare this?" The healer asked, motioning for them both to sit on a cot.
Mona's concentration wavered a bit at the news about her traveling companion. Like it or not, he was in the same boat with her... and just wasn't handling it quite so well. So she was a little worried, she couldn't help it. She was distracted, however, by the offer. "Of course," Mona answered, sitting on one side of the cot, paying close attention to what the healer did to the bird. All her food had come prepackaged, but she was thinking this knowledge would be useful here.
Chado set himself down next to her, always interested in hearing the history of their world retold by his elder. "This is the story of Aeolynn Slayne, the Charred Heart of legend and her older sister, Krissin Slayne the multiborne goddess." Casually Espira plucked the feathers, setting them off to the side as she spoke.
"Before Zephire and Embar were martyred, they bore a son, of whom we do not know much about, but he took on the name of Slayne, in remembrance of his parents. They took on their respective roles as the god of fire and the goddess of wind. Their son however grew up, and had children of his own. Living in a small village far to the north, a place we know as Remael, they grew into a limited tribe, keeping to themselves. Keeping their secrets. Their bloodline was one of power, the two most powerful first borne, and they created what we call multiborne. Using a spell of some sort, as only they know of it, they could steal the soul of their enemy, and taking their element as their own. Now... none would take the life of another, until the fated dark one, Kroescolo was given the gift at his birth."
Squirming slightly, Chado closed his eyes and tried to ignore the memories that threatened to rise up. Espira noticed this, but continued in a gentle voice. "Kroescolo Slayne in anger used the spell to kill his parents, who were both well endowed borne and left the village. He did not want to stay by while the rest of the world ignored him. Within a few years he had amassed many followers, borne and nonborne alike, and had stolen many souls. He wielded all the elements with great skill and became feared greatly through out Tnemele. Eventually he went back to Remael, and tried to get his cousin, Krissin to join him. She refused. Fleeing, she risked the safety of her life to take his attention away from her family. Eventually Kroescolo caught her, and a mighty duel took place, as both were fully fledged multiborne." Clearing her throat as she began to removed some parts of the quail, "Fully fledged meaning they had stolen a soul from every borne of every element." Espira clarified for Mona.
"In the end, Kroescolo killed her. Before she died Krissin managed to banish him to wander the rifts, leaving Tnemele to a rocky peace for eleven years. Unbeknownst to the rest of us though, Kroescolo's head general Taebold had taken over his master's side project. They set a plague upon Remael, killing all the borne within, including most of the left over Slayne line. Only two survived. Aeolynn, and Myrin Slayne, identical twins and the younger siblings of Krissin. Taebold took them to Kroescolo's dungeons, where they lived for four years. No one knows what happened down there, except Myrin was killed, and in response, Aeolynn performed that multiborne spell, stealing the souls of everyone in the castle."
Mona's eyes were wide, leaning forward a bit to rest her elbows on her knees, and her chin in her hands. Damn, this was crazy, but if she remembered correctly, this happened not even half a century ago. So... damn this was violent. And full of magic out the ass. Yeah, she was listening.
Chado couldn't help a small grin at her attention. Espira was a good story teller, and she took the cue to keep going.
"She then disappeared for a while, until five years later Kroescolo had managed to find his way back to Tnemele. His forgotten generals rose from the dust, where they had remained hidden and summoned an army of fanatics, the Rogue into joining him. They would have destroyed the world if it hadn't been for Aeolynn. Her sister, Krissin was the first multiborne to be martyred, and in turn she became a goddess; and Aeolynn was her champion. Aided by Teirrol, sent from Zephire, Aeolynn killed Kroescolo by stealing his element. By taking her own element, she became the Charred Heart. A symbol formed here," Espira pointed to her chest, on her sternum, "A star, formed of glowing embers."
Mona frowned, really having to work to keep the names straight in her head. "What happened after she killed the bad guy?" she asked, tilting her head.
"She became the last of her kind," Espira murmured gravely, "And because she had stolen all eleven elements, including her own, she suffered from soulstrain. That is why she had the mark, because it is a sign that she was under constant duress, and every minute she lived Aeolynn battled within herself to keep her soul separate from those she had stolen." Cutting off the neck on a special wooden slab, the healer pulled off a spit from the fire and stuck the quail clean through. Sprinkling on her herbs, Espira continued, "With the Rogue all but destroyed, Aeolynn took it upon herself to hunt down every last one, including some of Kroescolo's generals. Up until her death last year, the Charred Heart had been involved in keeping the peace, with us, the nonborne, and the ancient Nagei to the far north. A few years after that fated battle with Kroescolo, she bore a daughter, who is-"
Chado interrupted here, "Krysantha, named after her sister. Her daughter was born without an element, but she had the multiborne blood, and became a huntress like her mother." Frowning slightly, inwardly Espira chuckled. Chado must like Mona, trying to impress her.
Moving the quail on the fire, Espira sighed lightly. "We haven't met her, but she is known throughout Tnemele to be an incredible markswoman, and has skill in ice and wind, like Aeolynn... rest her tortured soul." They both bowed their heads slightly in respect.
Mona bowed her head as well, a little impressed. Her dark eyes had rested on Chado, just as involved with his interruption as the rest of the story. Mona sat up as it ended, spending a few moments absorbing this. "So... if anybody were to help me, it would be Krysantha...?" She worried her thumbnail, lost in thought. "If I could find her..." And she doesn't steal Mona's soul. That would be bad.
"Well... yes, that is an idea." Espira replied, "Though, she lives far north in the ruins of Remael. It is rumored that she has her whole family there, though no one has seen another multiborne other then her." The healer shrugged, "It is a good two weeks ride, through the glacial or past the mountains, and into the Elder lands. Remael is near the Nagei warning wall." Shaking her head, "I don't know who would take you that far."
Chado shifted his weight, hearing a soft call from Mouse behind the hut, "I can take her."
Mona's head whipped over to Chado, eyes wide as her brown hair settled over her shoulder. "You don't have to do that," she laughed, cocking her head. "I mean... that's so far out of your way it's not even funny. I can make alone. I used to hike, like, all the time." ...so Mona was planning on this becoming the sort of trip that took a very, very long time. "I don't want to inconvenience you." That part was true.
"But..." He lowered his head, "You don't know our world, nor our land. You could... die." Chado's bravery faltered at her saying she could do it alone.
Gaze falling on the floor, Mona reconsidered. She didn't want to die. But at the same time... Asking a guy she barely knew to do this. Mona sighed. "I'm gonna go talk with Jack. I sort of have to chat with him anyway." She wasn't looking forward to this. "Just... wait here for me, okay?"
Mona waved a little before heading out of the hut, wandering to go find Jack, hearing rumors about where he was but not finding him there. Beginning to suspect the boy was avoiding her, she sat down in front of a house, a pensive frown on her face.
A little girl sat down next to her. "Whatcha doin'?" she asked, the same kiddish sing-song voice most kids her age have.
Mona sighed, rubbing her chin. "Thinkin'," she replied, looking over at the child. "Just... I gotta take a trip, in order to get back home. And someone wants to help but it's not fair to ask them. Like, it's dangerous... I don't know them, but I don't want them to get hurt 'cuz of me."
The girl absorbed this for a moment. "...well, if it's dangerous, don't you need help?" she asked, eyes wide. "If they wanna, you should say okay. And they don't want you to get hurt. Say okay."
The older one of the two nearly laughed at how matter-of-factly the small child spoke. "Heh, maybe." The girl shrugged, got up, waved, and was gone.
Mona came back to the hut, some time later, collapsing into a cot. "Jack pussied out," she sighed. "He doesn't wanna go. Just asks that if I have to go, I try and remember to pick him up on the way back to our world. Somewhere, the man learned to live without his iPhone and his testicles."
Chado had been dozing on the other cot when she had come in, and propped himself up on one elbow to watch her, "You spoke to him?" Espira was just now taking the quail off the fire.
"Yeah," she sighed in reply, hands flopping to her side from where they had been rubbing at her eyes. "Cornered him, finally. I told him I was going with or without him and for the first time, he made sincere eye contact as he wished me luck." Mona paused, words failing her as she tried to phrase this. "Erm... well. I'm going. And..." She sat up on her elbows, looking over to Chado. "I mean, if I go alone... I wasn't even in Girl Scouts. So... if you still want to tag along. ...I'll let you?" Wow. Mona tried to sound lamer, but failed.
Chuckling, Espira cut in, "Won't you eat first?"
Chado brightened at that, then even more so at Espira's mention of food, "Yes, let's eat." The bird was a light golden color with flecks of spices all over it, still dripping some juices. Portioning it into three, Chado picked out some plates and handed it to the healer who separated the pieces and placed them on their respective spots. He brought Mona's dinner to her, then sat next to her on the ground and began to eat.
Mona gave a hearty roll of her eyes. "Nah, let's just exit stage right," she sighed, reclining more before accepting the food eagerly. Then tasting it. Then sighing a bit more heartily this time. "Quail is a delicious animal. I think I know what their purpose in life is now." She tucked in happily, suddenly starving... Mona hadn't eaten much during the date, and as far as she knew, she'd been out half a day, so... starving.
Finishing her's first, Espira began going around, packing some things and including several small packets of her special herb blends. Since it was getting dark, she only packed things that could be done before hand. Lucky for Mona and Chado, Espira always had extra supplies. She set two packs down, slipping in one bedroll each, an empty water skin, and two knives in small sheathes. Bandages went next, with a little bundle of poultices, and some rope. The rest could be done in the morning.
Espira was an old woman, and though the sun had just set, she chose to take her leave. Jumping to her shoulder, Samson and his bonded went to an empty wall of the hut and chanted something before disappearing within a large flower bud.
Mona glanced to the door when she was done, figuring the half-packed stuff was proof that she was going to be spending the night here. Which was okay, but... right here? "Can I sleep in a cot?" she asked, pointing to the one she sat on. "...I don't have to get inside a flower, right?" Mona figured not, since she wasn't the one who was floraborne, but she was just a little worried. It wasn't like she was afraid of flowers, but getting engulfed by one would cause some serious nightmares.
Chado chuckled, "Oh no, that is just how Espira sleeps. You can sleep there." Opening a cabinet, he brought out some extra blankets and a pillow, handing these to her before he went to the door flap. "You'll be okay here alone."
Mona nodded. "Okay..." She stood up and started making the cot. "See you later." She fought to not turn that into a question and just went to sleep.
It was when she woke up that she started to hate how she came to this world. Her hair needed to be brushed and her clothes were dirty and her teeth felt sweater-y. She made a face but was going to make a point of finding a stream. Civilizations were built up around water, right? They should be. Mona got up and rubbed her face before starting to fold the blankets, still too sleepy to acknowledge the world existed.
Striding inside past the flap, Chado entered quietly, pleasant and humming something under his breath. "Good morning, Mona," He smiled, "I have something for you I thought you might enjoy." The borne handed her a small twig with a green peeled end, a soft towel and a water skin. Chado walked past her to a wall and pulled out a bowl, which he handed to her as well. "Here you are." He of course meant for her to wash her face, and the twig he didn't explain.
"Mornin', lifesaver," Mona said, accepting the supplies. Yawning some, she poured just a bit of water into the bowl, vigorously scrubbing at her face. Thankfully, she hadn't felt like wearing any makeup on her date with Douchey McAsshole so Mona didn't undergo a magical transformation to uggo when her face emerged from the drying towel. Hell, she got the rest of the blood off of her skin, so her looks weren't anything but improved. She did pause at the stick, raising an eyebrow at Chado and holding it up for explanation.
Chado took out his own and began to rub his teeth with it. When he was done there was a slight foam in his mouth, which he spat in the fire. The smoke erupted into a pleasant minty scent.
Like a kid, Mona eyed his own actions and mimicked them. It didn't take her long at all to figure out the toothbrush-like nature of the stick, thoroughly scrubbing her mouth until her mouth lost that 'uck' factor, which took her way longer than the boy. Still following his lead, Mona spat into the fire, watching the reaction with interest as she wiped residue foam from the corner of her mouth.
She was glancing at him slyly after that. "Um... so... when are we leaving today?" Mona asked, working on fixing her hair and retying the bandage. "Unless you slept on it and realized what a stupid mission it was. It's okay, I'm almost there myself."
"No more stupid then myself roaming the country side while almost everyone in my birth village hates me." Chado commented, picking out some supplies and placing them into his pack. Mouse cawed from outside, already wearing two packs and some sleeping rolls. "I'll take you to a place where you can relieve yourself." He slipped back outside again.
Mona stood up, a minimal amount of woozy. She took it as a sign that she could suck the bump on her head up... hey, she woke up, and that was a positive aspect of the situation. Although why she couldn't have woken up somewhere nicer, like at home in bed, was beyond her. Her fingers worked at tangles, her hair finally falling to her shoulders in more or less a brushed fashion, somewhat ruffled still. Mona smiled at Mouse as she emerged from the hut, something again nagging at the back of her mind. "Okay, so where's the piss pot?" she asked, running a hand down Mouse's neck, straightening a few feathers absently. Yeah, Mona was one class act.
The giant bird gurgled, an odd sound coming from such a creature, but he flapped his taloned wings and began walking towards the treeline, expecting her to follow. Chado saw her leave from around the corner of the hut, having been watching her. They passed by trees, marked with dried flowers or skulls from small animals, marking who's spot was who's. Mouse hurried past them. He brought her to a place unmarked by anything, and tapped his heavy beak against the root of a large tree, forming a hole. Then, modestly he turned around.
...huh. She got her very own, all natural bathroom. Or at least she hoped she was supposed to pee in it. Mona did her business and cleaned up, conscious of the sentient bird behind her, finishing up and... pondering. Where the hell this was all going. Mona's new life plan included traveling way too far for even the slim shot of getting home... to what? A waitressing job and no ambition. Why was she even on this journey?
The girl felt familiar lethargy in her veins, weighing down her motions as she took the waterskin and scrubbed her hands clean. Vigorously shaking her head, Mona scowled into the forest. No. She had to at least do this. Granny would be worried about her... well, more than she already did. So Mona began walking back to the village, huffing slightly at herself and working her motivation up. "Please, let's go before I change my mind," Mona muttered.
Mouse had on a handy two seated saddle, which Chado launched himself up into when she had returned. Being that the bird was a little taller then a horse, the borne had him crouch, so that Mona could get up behind him. "We will stop in the next village to get you some proper clothing. Those pants are going to chafe you something fierce if we don't." Chado smiled at her, a similar look on Mouse's face, even though he had a beak and not lips.
Well, Mona had never had a bird smile at her. This adventure was full of firsts. She wondered how, exactly, jeans would chafe her, but then again, she wasn't exactly familiar with riding anything except the bus. She awkwardly slipped onto the saddle behind Chado, being fine with wrapping her arms around his waist and holding on. A small part of her was the part that made her look up and back at the village. Her hold tightened momentarily on Chado as the small part of her that insisted on stability and comfort and... no change ever hissed at her to stay. She didn't say a word until they were out of the village.
"Hey... Chado." Her hands grabbed his shirt a little, her forehead resting on his back. "Have you... ever... been in a rut? Like... doing the same things over and over again, just because it's... comfortable..." Mona let out a sigh. "No. Never mind. Forget I said anything. Tell me the names of plants." He couldn't see, but she was frowning behind his back.
He didn't let her change the subject, "I've been in a... rut my whole life, Mona." Then, he dismissed the topic and pointed through the forest and was about to explain something and stopped. "Why are you so curious about the plants? I would think you would have more questions about Mouse, or myself."
"I want something to distract me from the current situation," Mona huffed, headbutting him just a little. "Not remind me that I'm on the back of a giant bird with a guy who can fly. ...but since you insist. How'd you get Mouse?" Probably not the question he was expecting, but Mona was being stubborn. It was all part of the shock.
Glancing back at her, "Ah..." That wasn't what he was expecting. "Mouse came to me when I was 13, when I first was able to summon the dark in physical form. It was a blessing sent from Ink her self... and the only one that keeps me sane in this world of hatred." Chado sighed, and patted Mouse's shoulder, who crooned softly. "He is the only thing keeping me alive too. Borne won't touch me because of him."
"Hm. A guard bird. Nice." Mona didn't know what else to do except not pull away. She was sort of totally a guy in that sense. Otherwise she'd just awkwardly pat him a bit. Way bad at comforting anyone... but that did suck. The worst she got was some teasing at an all-girls Catholic school she went to for a total of a semester once... and even then, she kicked the ass of any and all haters.
"Hey, maybe this little adventure will be good for both of us!" she said optimistically. "You'll get out of your rut... and I'll learn to be a better person when I get back home, or something." Mona paused, frowning. "...then again, I'll spend the next seventy years thinking I went crazy and imagined this. Man, that'll suck. Wanna come with? Mouse can stay on Grandma's property and I'll have proof that I'm not completely out of my mind."
"Mona... I don't want to douse your hopes or anything... but no otherworlder has gone back... to their lands." He hadn't wanted to make her sad, but it was the truth and he was in no way going to lie to her. "I can't imagine being able to leave here. There are too many broken rifts, what if you try to choose the wrong one? What if... you die?" Mouse lowered his head at that.
And this was how Mona responded: by punching him in the back, preferably where a kidney was located. Not enough to injure, but it would sting for a bit. "Stop being such a Negative Nancy, asshole," she huffed, glaring. "I'll figure it out. With the goddess's help, I swear to Jeebus. I have a few years of physics under my belt, I can try and figure out rift physics." She glared at his back, jaw set in determination. "I want to go back. I already said you didn't have to come with, but if you keep trying to bring me down I'm kicking you off this mission and hoofing it." Big words from a small girl... hey, she was doing a good enough job in the Discouragement Department by herself. She didn't need any help with that. "False hope is still hope," Mona ended in a mutter, barely audible.
"Ow!" Chado yelped, and Mouse veered to the side as if in pain as well, and he looked back at his riders and clacked his beak at her. "Please don't do that again!" Chado growled to her, leaning forward again to pat at Mouse again, "She didn't mean it." Suddenly he turned around to her, not touching her, but anger in his eyes as he closed the distance between their faces, his nose a few inches from hers. "Don't ever hit me again." Obviously he never had really joked with anyone, now playfully hit anyone before. "Mouse feels what I do, when someone is bonded to an elemental creature, you never hurt them."
Mona couldn't help but flinch. She wasn't used to boys admitting something hurt, at all. Maybe that was her bad... he probably wasn't used to that sort of contact being anything but to really hurt. And now to get threatened? By a man much stronger than her, in the middle of nowhere, her greatest defense being her house key still somewhere in her back pocket. Her house key. Her face fell slowly, biting her lower lip to keep it from wobbling, eyes welling up. Still, Mona was the only girl around who would cry defiantly.
"Fine!" she shouted back, shifting to get off of Mouse. "I'm sorry I don't know your stupid world's rules! I must not have read the part in the manual where wimpy girl punches that didn't mean anything means the valiant steed will try and eat you!" She hit the ground and immediately started walking in the direction they had been going, wiping her eyes furiously, the set of her shoulders just fucking daring Chado to follow. "I'll just go off and die in the fucking forest, since you seem so keen on reminding me of it! Let's all just tell Mona that there's no way to get home where people like her and they have meals all pre-hunted, and GPS, and iPhones and beds in apartments with air conditioning and running water!" Mona was sniffling up a storm, voice angrily choked, trying to get her temper under control, ignoring the ache in her chest. Fuck, she was homesick.
"Mona..." Whispered and ducked his head, shaking it and turning to look at her walk away. He was never any good with people, least of all woman. The one woman that would never hold his element against him, a good chance the only one that would maybe, maybe let him court her. Chado grimaced. What should I do..? Mouse snorted at that, Go after her, I thought you humans were smart?!
Chado actually grinned at that, "Right..." He slid off Mouse and trotted to catch up with her, "Mona wait!"
"Fuck you!" Mona was a classy lady. She did turn on him, glaring at him even as she tried to discretely sniff and cry and wipe away the tears. More classiness. "If you're just gonna hover around and be my own personal raincloud and yell at me, then I'll go alone! It's worse than you tying weights to my legs!" She gave up on trying to look at him and turned again, taking deep breaths in an effort to calm down. "Even Grandma was letting me figure shit out on my own without bitching at my every mistake." God she missed that old bat. Her shoulders actually shook them. She was old! What if she passed away from the stress of Mona being missing for as long as it took her to get back? What if Mona never even got to say goodbye?
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry alright? I... I didn't mean to cause you duress. I'm not..." He tilted his head and folded his arms, "-Dammit I'm not good with people!" Chado made a sound of annoyance at himself, having a hard time saying what he wanted to say. "I promised you I would help you, and I will," He attempted a smile, "I'll be better, and we'll get you to where you need to go." Almost reaching out to her shoulder, Chado cautiously took a step closer to her.
Mona sniffed, almost snorting, wiping her face. She has no idea why anybody would ever be attracted to her. "...hn. Fine. But we have to work on your perception of me. I'm not here to hurt you." Mona turned around, somewhat surprised to see Chado so close. Not that it shut her up. "And I'm not here to hurt Mouse. I know your village was full of assclams but I'm not from there, so you don't have to yell at me like that. It's not like being angry will get your point across to me better. I'm smarter than that."
"I...will try to remember that," He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly, then handed her one of his bandages he always carried around, this one so she could wipe up. Then... he went with his gut and instead took the cloth and ever so gently touched it to the inside of her cheek, collecting a tear.
Mona blinked at the touch, surprised at something so soft coming from someone who wasn't good with people. Then she laughed, reaching up to close her own hand over the bandage, intending to take it and clean up herself. "Got it. Apology accepted on both sides. Now I should go talk to Mouse before he gets too peeved and decides to buck me off or something later."
"He knows what I know." Chado replied quietly, not moving his hand from the rag. Slowly, his blue and green eyes locked on her own, Chado moved the cloth down, under her lip, lightly touching it up further and wiping away the tears he accidentally caused. Unintentionally he had leaned in closer to her, her smell heightening his senses. "Mona... this... um. I..." Chado blinked, then began moving back again, as if wakening from a dream.
Normally, Mona wouldn't let anybody wipe her face. She would have snatched away the bandage with a crude comment and done it herself. Not even her grandma could baby her like that after she turned seven. But something in those eyes shut down her sarcasm before it could bubble up. Him pulling back and acting all flustered brought the girl back, though. Mona let out a nervous laugh and snatched the bandage from him. "Ha! Well. Probably wasted enough time." Finishing up the job, she started walking quickly back to Mouse.
When she brushed by him, Chado just stood there, still as he went through in his mind what just happened... while Mouse snickered in the back of his mind. "Shut up birdbrain," He muttered halfheartedly, and followed her. Mouse was waiting for them patiently, walking up to her as she approached him. The forest strider cooed and nuzzled her cheek, something Chado blushed at while he watched.
Laughing some, Mona accepted the nuzzling with good grace, hands coming up to gently brush over the finer feathers down his neck. "Aww, thanks Mouse," she said, turning to give him a peck on the beak. "You know I'm a good girl. Well, not that one spring break. But we don't talk about that week. ...Sorry I hurt you, too." She looked over her shoulder at Chado. "We should probably get going..."
Chado coughed, then nodded, "Yes, we should get going again if we want to reach the edge of Gallico by nightfall." Getting himself into the saddle easily, he reached down to offer her his arm. Mouse winked at her and ruffled his neck feathers.
Mona grinned and released Mouse, crossing over and accepting Chado's firm grip to swing up into the saddle behind him. She was a bit hesitant to wrap her arms around his waist this time, just gripping his shirt lightly. She got to look forward to a night under the stars, as far as she knew. ...it was going to be so freaking cold for her. Grand.
She frowned, suddenly. "Oh, and by the way? That never happened. I don't cry."
"Who do I have to tell, Mona?" Chado grinned slightly, Mouse taking off at a fast trot in the direction they were going. As the day passed, the air grew more humid and thicker, the trees changing into behemoths. "I haven't been here since I was a boy, my father took me here to hunt the giant boar that roam the area." Chado informed, looking back at her slightly, "When he died, I stayed along the awning hook, away from this lush place, as it reminded me of him."
"I'm sorry for your loss," Mona said automatically, hugging him from behind slightly. "He sounds like a great guy, taking his kid on hunting trips. Embrace the memories, y'know?" She was looking around, noting the ecological changes to a rainforest-like setting. "It's a beautiful place." Also rainforests had huge insects. She was going to use Chado as a meat shield for the various evil things she was suddenly remembering about such places.
"As we are heading towards Gallico's center, the days will be very long, we still have a good six hours of light. Would you like to stop for a snack, or lunch?" Chado asked her and Mouse began to slow down. The strider was hungry, so he was hoping she would say yes to this offer. Not to mention there was a village up ahead, a trading spot.
"Mmkay," she murmured. Mouse was slowing down, so she figured the answer would be 'yes' regardless. Neither of them had much to eat since last night, anyway. "Mouse probably needs a rest, anyway. He's not used to carrying around my fat ass." She grinned at the bird, waiting for them to come to a stop.
They came to a line in the trees where the smell of smoke was in the air, and streamers of cloth hung from branches. Someone, a guard, approached them from the side, a long and wicked looking pike in one hand. "Intentions?" He asked in a gruff voice.
"Trading." Chado informed, ducking his head slightly. The guard stepped aside at that and disappeared back into the trees. In a commonality, the village looked quite similar to Urupe, except there were a few shops set up, and a smithy in the corner.
Mona looked around, taking in all their surroundings and checking the shops out. "So where do we go to get myself some new pantalones?" she asked, leaning out from Mouse a little to see around Chado... using the darkborne as an anchor, of course.
"There should be a clothier near the smith," And he was right, several hides drying off to the side. Chado moved so that he could help her off Mouse, then slid down himself, the bird instantly darting off into the forest. The clothier was a forgettable man, but a kind one, and separated women's pants from the mens ones. "If you need a fitting, I have the appropriate tools needed for that."
"I think my waist is 32 inches around," Mona said, picking up a woman's pair of pants with a frown. "...I'm not seeing... labels." Not that she even knew if they used inches. "...miiiiight need a fitting."
The man nodded, "That looks like your height, though a bit too large." He took a rope and visibly measured it, then tsked to himself, instead wrapping it around her physically. "Ah yes, tad small." He marked it down in a small notebook then looked to Chado, "Will cost two decent skins at the least." The borne nodded, his eyes slightly clouded as he talked to Mouse. "Will three Capybara be sufficient?"
The tailor nodded. A half hour later the man brought out the fixed pants, "You may change inside, my lady."
Wasn't Mona's fault that she was too skinny for these pants! Or maybe it was. But the pants looked pretty cool, so as she shimmied out of her jeans, she became more accustomed to the idea that she would just have to get used to it. She came out of the hut, new pants fitting pretty well, and gave a small twirl. "Check out my new anti-chafe digs!" she exclaimed, jeans hanging over her arm. She was wondering if the guy would accept them as payment... probably a better quality cloth than he'd ever seen.
Mouse was back, with three of the creatures in his beak and Chado and the man haggling. Finally they parted, Chado with a chunk of meat wrapped up that he had been given as a thank you. "Alright, I have the supplies I wanted to grab, fresh meat, and your pants." He tried to not look her up and down, smiled and looked away, "We can go." He held out a hand to help her up after he placed the meat in a compartment.
Mona held onto her jeans for now. They were still kinda valuable, even if they were dead weight. Might help in the future.
The pants, while not more comfortable in general, did seem to make the ride smoother after they had eaten. Mona relaxed in the saddle, dozing against Chado's back while they rode, not quite ignoring her surroundings but leaving it up to Mouse to not get them killed. She jerked awake only when it was dark out, leaving the forest slightly menacing and making her scoot closer to Chado.
"We're gonna set up camp," Mouse stopped in a small clearing, the sound of a creek off to the right. Chado slipped down, taking off some packs. "Mouse will take you to the water so you can freshen up or do your business, he will guard you." He turned his back to them both. If there had been light, one would see the darkness swirl in his pupils and iris. He could see perfectly well in the shadows.
"Okay..." Mona didn't sound so confident, barely being able to see Chado when he left, scooting up in the saddle as Mouse walked off. Her eyes began to adjust to the darkness a little, and she took the time to wash her face and torso, using Mouse as a hanger for her shirt and bra as she got that done. Less smelly, here she comes! The humidity didn't help in drying off, but she shrugged it off and just let the shirt cling to her, not really caring. Gnawing a bit on her lip and knowing she'd shank a bitch for a shower. And some food. "Okay, Mouse, lead the way," she murmured, resting her hand on his neck and planning on walking with him back.
By the time they returned, Chado had a fire going, the rosy light hiding his deep blush of embarrassment. Mouse had playfully tortured him with images of Mona, watching her, then turning away at the last second. "Welcome back," Then to Mouse, "Hey jerkbeak." Mouse cawed back in laughter, flapping his wings in his amusement. The meat was already on the fire, and he had a lean to half made and was just finishing it up.
Mona looked curiously at Mouse, wondering what Chado was talking about, before she headed up to the darkborne. "Hey... can I help?" she asked, tilting her head at him. She felt like she definitely needed to pull her own weight, somehow. It was just, unless he needed a crystal radiography or his taxes looked at, her usefulness was limited.
He glanced at her, "Yes, actually." Handing her some banana leaves to line the simple little lean to he had created. While she finished the roof, Chado built up the fire, as rain was starting to fall and Mouse had already settled in, his beak peaking out from underneath a wing. He ducked down and under their shelter, happy to have everything finished. And the meat was almost done.
Mona happily enough got to work, preferring this to twiddling her thumbs. She was careful, so she was a bit slow, but there weren't any leaks in her section of the roof. Success! She got a little rained on as she finished up, but ducked in after Chado, noting it was a little cozy in there but not really caring. "Sorry if you get to smell wet hair," she joked, drawing her legs close to tuck her knees beneath her chin. She hadn't done much of jack shit that day and somehow she was tired.
"Ehh... I get enough of wet feathers." He shook out his own damp hair, "I really don't mind." Then, he laughed, "-And he gets smelly during mating season." Mouse snorted at that, but didn't lift his head. Chado poked at the meat, ignoring the grumbling in his stomach for a moment before muttering, "I think it's ready." He pulled out a metal spit, small, but large enough to get the job done and began carving it with his knife. "Can you grab some leaves that we can use for plates?"
"Ewwww, bird cooties," Mona giggled. "Heh, done." She stuck her head out of the shelter, going off in search of big-ish leaves. A few minutes later, she came back with a three odd, round ones as big as a dinner plate, from a species she'd never even seen pictures of. And wet. It was raining. "Here," she said, plopping back down and holding them out, shoving hair from her face.
He placed several slices of the meat on her leaf, while taking the others from her and dishing out himself. "Dinner is served." Chado didn't wait and proceeded to eat.
Mona smirked a little to herself. What a boy. She ate a bit more delicately, making sure to clean off her fingers, chucking the leaf out of the lean-to when she was done and yawning. "So I'm assuming I'm not using Mouse as a pillow," she murmured, reaching out to pat him.
"Nah... he's sound asleep." Chado sat back with a content sigh, listening to the rain. "I always find it so hard to sleep at night. This is my element, I am most at peace in the darkness." The fire had been more for food then heat or light.
"Then I'll try and stay up with you," Mona said, tucking her knees under her chin in order to rest her head. "But day is totally my element. I'm a kick-ass morning person." Her eyes closed. "'cept when I was a troubled teen. But I wasn't so kick-ass in any way back then." She was just mumbling now. "I think everybody has that awkward teenage phase, though. I'm glad I got mine out of the way early."
Chado uttered a noise akin to agreement. He was a slightly nervous at their little predicament, but unless they wanted to sleep sitting up, or with their legs wet, they would have to lay close to each other and on their sides. Chado swallowed, "If you want to lay down, I can sleep sitting up..."
Mona rubbed her eye and made a quizzical noise, wondering why Chado was proposing that before looking around, a light dawning. She figured the boy was trying to save her delicate sensibilities, which she thought was a laughable effort. "Oh god... no, that's okay," she said. "I don't care if we get cozy. You're a perfect gentleman, I'm sure." Mona was certainly not thinking that Chado himself would object to this.
So Chado hoped his body would comply properly. "Alright. If you want to sleep, I will keep you warm." He prepped a blanket and handed it to her, and waited till she scooched forward a little before laying down behind her.
"Awww. Cute." Mona shifted and lay down, her own blanket wrapped around her. If she had been conscious, she would have surprised even herself with how quickly she conked out. It had been a long day, and not even the thought of a stranger spooning her would deter the girl from sleep.
It took a little bit longer for him to fall asleep, too distracted by the slumbering body in front of him. Chado sighed lightly, feeling her back contract and relax as she breathed. When he eventually slept, he had placed his hand over her ribs and snuggled her closer. Morning soon came, and Mouse had been awake for a while, but ruffled his feathers as he stared at the two.
Mona really was a morning person; she hadn't been lying in her rambles. It wasn't too long after Mouse woke up that Mona blinked awake, hand coming up to rub at her eyes. She had scooted closer to Chado as well, since she typically froze her ass off at night... and there was a convenient heat shield. ...speaking of which. Mona felt the arm around her and froze until she remembered who exactly was there. Then she was just sitting up and waving at Mouse, getting the sleep totally out of her eyes. The arm around her upper torso only moderately bothered her... hey, as long as the kid didn't do an outright boob grab. Couldn't help what one did in their sleep anyway.
Chado rolled over when she left him, mumbling something in his sleep before Mouse snorted, lifting his head and shaking out his feathers again. Then he gave her a wink then a look Want to go explore with me? He clawed at the dead fire as if to mention they needed more wood anyway.
Mona didn't speak bird, but she got the gist. The girl untangled herself from the blanket without waking Chado and stood, heading out of the lean-to while fixing her hair. Seriously. She needed to invent a brush, like, now. "Sleep well?" she whispered, not wanting to wake Chado. He looked kind of cute, fast asleep.
Mouse vigorously nodded his head, letting out a quiet meep before inviting her to his saddle. They needed breakfast anyway, maybe Mona would go hunting with him.
With minimal difficulty, Mona swung onto his saddle, hoping this was what he was hinting at. She'd rather not get thrown so early in the trip. If she knew what Mouse was thinking, she might laugh... Mona hunting would not be a good combination. She went to college instead of living in the woods for a very good reason.
Hoping she was holding on, Mouse bolted through the forest, keeping an eye all around as he looked for a trail on an animal. Within a few minutes he was on the trail of a rabbit. With his speed, he caught one very quickly, snatching it up in his beak.
So Mona very nearly fell off when Mouse sped into the rainforest. However, since she didn't fall off, and since she was a quick learner, Mona very quickly clung to Mouse like a bucking bronco. She didn't complain, though, even if she was sorely tempted to pluck out a non-vital feather in revenge. Instead, Mona just swallowed her heart from where it was threatening to leap from her throat, sighing some. "You killed that bunny good," she commented dryly. "Please allow me time to restart my heart. Might take a few seconds. Ignore any convulsing I might do, that's normal."
Mouse cawed out a laugh, finding Mona quite amusing. Standing on one foot, the giant bird grabbed the rabbit from his beak and turned to cuddle her, closing his eyes happily. He allowed her to rest, figuring it would still be a while till Chado would get up. Surprisingly there was no blood from the rabbit.
She did check first to see about the blood before running her palm down his beak and neck, admiring how smooth he felt. "Hey, you bird laughed at me," she accused, pushing his beak away lightly in a rough-housing fashion, much like how she had teased the horses that used to be on her Grandma's property before they were sold. "Don't think I didn't notice."
But Mona made sure he came back for more cuddling, since it was nice. Comfort from a giant bird as she settled down from the frantic clinging she had just done earlier. "Um..." She didn't know how to broach this topic, or if Mouse could even answer. "Don't tell him I asked you this, but... Do you know why Chado just dropped everything to travel so far with me? I mean, nobody does that for a stranger. Nobody." She didn't want to ask Chado. If she phrased it like that he might come to his senses. She was beginning to see that she really wouldn't last long alone out here. At least not at first. If they taught her how to hunt and support herself, she may have something almost resembling a fighting chance.
He tilted his head at her, his eyes glinting like beetles. Then, gently Mouse touched his forehead to hers, We were wasting our lives in Urupe. He winked at her, and grabbed the rabbit again and starting off at a fast walk.
Mona blinked. A lot. She had just heard Mouse's voice. Which was pretty weird for her, seeing as how he was a bird... then she was again clinging to his saddle to make sure she didn't fall off. It took her the ride back to process those words... she was a rut breaker. ...glad she could help.
Chado had been awake for a little while now, and had prepared the coals for the rabbit, smiling meekly up at Mona when they arrived back. "I hope Mouse didn't frighten you too badly running?" Taking the kill from his bonded, "He doesn't talk to just anyone..." Chado murmured quietly.
"Grandma always told me I was special," Mona flatlined, staring at Chado. "How much did you overhear?" she asked suspiciously. Not that it really mattered that he heard what Mona specifically asked Mouse to keep hidden, it was just common courtesy nowadays. Geez.
"He only said that he talked to you," He replied, glancing up at her sharply from her use of tone. "Why? What did you tell him?"
Mona rolled her eyes with a grin. "Obviously, I could tell you, but then I'd have to lie," she chirped, going to lean up against a tree. And it would be a lie Chado wouldn't appreciate. Involving his ass.
Chado's gaze stayed on her for a moment before slightly smiling, "Alright." Gutting the rabbit, he made short work of it and placed it over the now roaring fire, washing his hands in the dirt. With most of the blood off, Chado then applied a salve, which fully cleaned his hands and dried very quickly, even in the moist warm air. "Should be ready soon."
The former biochemist had been moments away from commenting on blood-borne pathogens, but Chado used what appeared to be anti-bacterial liquid, so it was all good. "How'd you sleep?" she asked, moving to crouch on the ground, back pressed against the tree. She didn't know how he kept his hair so relatively neat... maybe she'd have to cut her's.
He shrugged, "Normal, I guess. You?" Then with her eyes on his hair Chado figetted slightly, combing through it in a sudden movement. Mouse cawed briefly, his beatle eyes on the canopy above them as a small band of monkeys edged by them to get to the water.
"Fine," she said, eyes abandoning his own perfect, untangled hair to focus on hers and work out the kinks. "Man, I might end up cutting this all off," Mona sighed, gently undoing another tangle. And finding a twig. It was a small twig, but seriously. She looked up to spy the monkeys, expression suddenly lighting up in interest. "Sweet Jesus that's awesome," she whispered, trying to be as still as possible.
"Who is this Jesus person you keep mentioning?" Chado commented, while looking through his pack for something. Then, withdrawing, the Borne pulled out a comb made from bone. "I like your hair... you shouldn't cut it." He ignored the monkeys, as they were quite common and glanced distractingly up at them.
"Just some holy guy where I'm from," Mona said offhandedly, noticing the comb only as she looked over due to the comment about her hair. It wasn't all that great, especially now that she was carrying half the forest in it. Well, one twig, but. Ahem. Comb! Mona made grabby hands towards it, along with puppy dog eyes. She had never before been so happy about a comb before.
"Like the gods and goddesses then?" He followed through, setting back to watch the fire. Through Mouse's eyes however, Chado watched her comb her hair. "Was he the first of his kind to be killed, and that's why he became holy? The first Borne were martyred by the rest of Tnemele's population, for fear they were try to control everyone."
"Er... well, it's a little different," Mona said, working the comb gently at the tips of her hair, not wanting to break the bone. "Humans weren't doing so well, so the main God sent down his son, this dude who could work miracles and preached about peace and forgiveness and stuff. He did end up dying, because they were afraid that he was preaching against the established religion... which he sort of was. But he came back." She looked up at Chado, seeing his back. "Did the Borne come back to life after?" she asked.
"Not back to life," He turned a little towards her, "But they turned into gods, never to be harmed again. In return, every baby born for the next month was visited by a ghost of them. So says history. They were forbade to kill the children, and they became the first Borne generation." Chado lifted the corner of his mouth at her, before diverting his gaze to the fire. "Almost done."
"Ah. Well, our dude did kind of become a god. He's supposedly everywhere at once, though." Mona shrugged. "Dunno if he gets reception out here, though." Most of her tangles were out, and she could run the comb more freely through her hair, returning his partial smile with a wider one than her own. It faded a little when he turned around again, frowning just a bit at his back, unaware Mouse was watching. "So you can't remember getting your gift?" she asked, eyes dropping to her hair. It wasn't back to its usual shininess but it was close, and for that she was happy enough.
"No, no one does. It is normally the parent's that witness. I was just a screaming baby right out of the womb." His smiled faded at that, "My father was proud, my mother wasn't. She never accepted me and in turn left the following summer to Larinith, which devastated my father. He... told me this on the eve of my tenth birthday. A few years later he was killed in a skirmish with some nonborne, then," Chado's smile returned, "Mouse came to me." He stood slightly and moved to the fire, taking the now cooked rabbit off the fire, "Hungry?" Juggling the rabbit, he pulled out two ceramic plates and tore off some meat for her.
"I'm sorry about that," Mona said honestly. "But I'm glad Mouse came along. Honestly, I'da gone crazy." But then again... "So very hungry," she said with a grin, taking the plate. "...hey. We ate off of leaves the other night. You holding out on me?" She did hand back his comb.
Chado blushed lightly, "I... forgot about them." He took his comb back in silence, and then ate. Mouse snickered from the side and sat his mass of feathers down, still watching the monkeys.
"That's fine. I'm sure I forget about more important things," Mona said, balancing the plate on her lap to tie her hair back. "Plus, I wouldn't have wanted to clean them off the other night, anyway." She delicately picked up the meat, lacking a knife to cut it and too hungry to care. Biting it will do. "So where, in the tour of various ecosystems, are we going to next?" she asked, joking.
"The Saronot Mountains, we'll be stopping in Certlin's Cove before that, then Larinith after the range. Along the sleeping volcano Cassern, and I believe we turn..." Chado paused and looked to Mouse, who let out a quiet rumble, "North West towards the warning wall. Remael is said to be that way. The Elder plains are a large expanse of land we will have to traverse before we arrive there."
Mona looked at him with something akin to affection. "I have not heard the word 'traverse' used seriously in a sentence since 'Lord of the Rings,'" she laughed. Popping the last bit of meat in her mouth, she shifted to get more comfortable. "I'll go wash dishes while you pack," she said, attempting an innocent face to distract from the part where packing was way harder.
He shook his head, having no idea what the Lord of the Rings was, but accepted her proposal and set about taking down their small camp. Chado left his pack open for when she returned with the dishes, but tied the bedrolls to Mouse's saddle, patting the giant bird on his beak. Mouse trilled a few notes before glancing around them, on alert. "What is it?" The forest strider narrowed his eyes, but ruffled his feathers to calm himself. Nothing dangerous. The borne hadn't an idea what his bonded meant, but dismissed it.
Mona hummed quietly to herself as she washed the dishes, using some sand to get the grime off before getting them as clean as possible. She shook off her hands and the plates and headed back towards camp, daydreaming slightly, off in her own world. Might as well get a little escape from the much larger one she found herself in.
Some bushes to the right of her shuddered, and the snorting of some sort of pig filtered through the natural soundtrack of the forest. This boar however was no ordinary animal... the snout was over two feet long, its bulk rising to Mouse's height at the peak of its spine. The bore snuffled, its eyes spotting her form walking in front of her.
Mona jumped a little, hearing the bushes rustling and immediately backing away from them. She squinted to see what exactly was up there before seeing giant eyes that were way too far off the ground, then the rest of the animal.
Immediately she froze before trying to back off slowly. That thing was huge. Mona couldn't take it on a good day. "Guys?" she whispered, being as loud as possible without her voice startling the boar. "...guys?" Mona knew back home these things could be violent. Oh please let her be far away from any babies.
It squealed at her and tossed its ugly head, the large tusks flashing in the morning light. Lowing its head to charge her, a sudden caw to the left pierced through the underbrush. Mouse appeared rushing forward to get in front of her, flapping his small wings and hopping up and down. The boar skidded to a halt as Mouse's claws slashed across its face. Roaring, the creature turned its head to try to smack the forest strider. Mouse deftly lept away however, Chado was now there, darkness literally spewing from him. "Begone!" Shadows latched onto the boar, it now squealing in pain and fright as the light fled and darkness engulfed it. Under cover of darkness, Chado held Mona to him, protecting her from his own element as the boar finally had enough and managed to flee back into the forest.
Mona pressed to Chado, eyes wide as she watched the shadows spread towards the boar, the giant, agitated creature turned away far too easily. Her heart was hammering in her chest; she hadn't even had the chance to scream. Sure, she was looking for trees to put between herself and the giant animal, something to slow down her imminent death... which she was still sort of facing. Mona had been sure she was about to die. Feeling girly and useless, Mona turned her face to bury in Chado's chest, cussing lightly.
After the threat was gone, Chado held her close to him for a moment longer then gently released her. "Are you okay?" He asked softly, then muttered, "I shouldn't have let you go off alone."
"Oh, shush," Mona muttered, shaking her head. "I need to figure out how to protect myself around here. You can't be babysitting me the entire time. That'd be ridiculous." Mona pulled away, trying to fuss to fix her hair, even if her fingers were shaking. She'd been calmer during the attack... sure, adrenaline had coursed through her, but it'd kept her head clear on the task at hand. Now she just felt like throwing up. "I'll need to get a weapon, somehow. ...and then learn how to use it. Fuck, I'm just... a useless scholar around here."
"You do not have to be." Called an unfamiliar voice, and Mouse cheeped and stepped over to a man that had appeared, his form tall and covered in black armor. He wore no helmet however and instead you could see his chiseled face and cropped hair. At his side was a much smaller woman, her skin a soothing bronze but her eyes and hair as dark as the depths of a cave. "Ink.." Chado murmured, recognizing his own goddess and bowed respectfully. He did not know the other god, but assumed it was earth, from what he had heard. The god was known for his black diamond armor. The god pet mouse affectionately on his beak. "I am Maeloid, god of the earth and stone beneath you, and here by my request as a witness, Ink, goddess of the darkness."
Mona's mouth fell open, quite ungracefully, and she really couldn't think of anything beyond, "What the ffff..." She had enough tact to trail off at the curse, refraining. She was in front of gods. Mona noted that Chad had bowed some and she echoed his movement, not wanting to piss anybody off. "Wh-why are you here?" She didn't mean to sound trembling... but people appearing out of nowhere, especially if they declared that they were gods, was not something most people watched unflinchingly.
"I've come to bestow upon you a gift, should you chose to accept." Maeloid said in a softer voice, not realizing that sometimes mortals were frightened by them.
"I... don't have anything to give back," Mona replied, her voice meek. It was something that didn't happen often, the woman being cowed.