Author: hummmingbird PM
Set at the time when people still lived in forests, this is a story about a girl who is different and disliked, but soon finds herself on a quest. A quest in which she is only given a month. A quest that involves saving the whole island.Rated: Fiction K - English - Adventure/Mystery - Chapters: 63 - Words: 47,056 - Reviews: 146 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 9 - Updated: 03-05-13 - Published: 03-23-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3007380
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
When I wake up everyone is snoring on their fur mats. Some people have half-eaten duck legs sticking out of their mouths. Others are still holding half-empty juice bowls. The fire has gone out, but the ash still looks hot. A man has fallen asleep still sitting on his log. The boy who sat next to me yesterday is curled up, shivering on a fur mat a few steps away from where I slept.
I stand. My head protests and a huge pain erupts inside it. I guess I'm sick. That can't be good.
Water. I need water.
I remember the river I followed to get here, to the Juniper village. It can't be that far away.
I stagger around the sleeping villagers, careful not to step on anyone.
The river isn't hard to find. I walk along the foot of the hill. Then, when I'm close enough, I just let the sound guide me to it.
A pine tree has fallen across the river. I take off my boots, step on it and walk to the middle of the river. The whole tree trunk is covered in small, sharp branches. I break some off and sit down. My feet just touch the surface of the water. The river is freezing. I shiver. My body is cold. But my head throbs and feels hot, like a fire has just been lit inside it.
I should drink. Leaning down from the tree would make me fall in. Instead I walk back down to the river bank where I left my boots.
I crouch down by the water and drink from my cupped hands. Then, since it's cold and wet, I press my left palm to my forehead.
I close my eyes. Cold drops of water trickle down my hot face.
Suddenly, just for a moment, all the birds that had been chirping fall silent. The bubbling of the river gets quieter. The wind in the tree tops stops blowing, but just for a heartbeat. An in this short time I hear a different noise; the roaring of the ocean.
That could only mean one thing- the ocean is nearby.
I open my eyes, pull on my boots and stand up to follow the river.
I can't run, but I walk quickly, away from the hills, along the river, in the direction of the rising sun- east.
I was right; the sound of the ocean grows louder. I am so excited, for I have only been to the ocean four times.
As I approach it, a new thought occurs to me; how could I not have seen the ocean from the hills last night?
I reach the sand and take of my boots. It tickles my bare feet.
In summer I walk around the forest with no boots, so my feet are used to stepping on hard pinecones and stones, sharp pine needles and branches. The sand is much softer than I'm used to, so I feel like I might as well be walking on clouds.
My rumbling stomach interrupts my thoughts, reminding me it's hungry.
I should get back to the village and eat. I walk along the ocean, trudging my feet in the sand, back in the direction of the Juniper village.
When we arrive I can finally clearly see the village. First of all, it is only about fifty steps from the ocean. There are about twelve huts, all scattered around in no particular order. They, unlike the ones in the Maple village, are made of reeds and animal skins. A few of them have smoke curling out of the smoke holes.
Some families are eating breakfast together, in front of their huts. In the place where the stories were told last night, people are eating and talking on their fur mats by the fire, which has been relit.
I return to my mat and sit down. I look around; everyone has something to snack on. I'm hungry and cold. I take my mat and put it nearer the fire, then sit down and rub my cold arms with my hands.
Soon a girl, a bit older than me, comes up to me and sits down. She hands me a lump of bread, while introducing herself; "I'm Blossom," she says, "Who are you?"
"I'm Nothing," I say proudly, and before Blossom can react, I continue, "And I was sent here for an important quest, so if you don't mind, I must see the Juniper tribe leader."
Blossom laughs uncertainly, "Glow is busy at the moment,"
"Oh, yeah? So busy that the end of this island can wait?" I ask.
Blossom looks uncomfortable. She stutters, "Umm… well…"
"Hey!" Someone says behind me. I recognize the voice- the boy who sat next to me last night. He flops down on the mat me and Blossom are sitting on. Blossom looks relieved that he is here. I look at them both so close together and see a resemblance; they both have the same face with light brown eyes, and very light hair.
Even their shirts are the same color- pinkish-red.
"I'm Sunrise. I see you've met my twin sister, Blossom," the boy says, grinning.
"Yeah," I mutter.
"Well I did come to tell her she looks unnaturally pale, but I never got the chance," Blossom informs her brother.
"Blossom, you might be close to becoming a healer, but even I can see that she," he gestures to me, "is as white as the clouds,"
Blossom sighs and rolls her eyes, then, taking no more notice of her brother, turns to me.
"How do you feel, Nothing?" she asks me, saying my name for the first time. I can see she feels strange saying it.
"Cold," I say and shiver. Despite that we are so close to the fire and I am wearing my vest and long sleeved top, I still feel like it is the middle of the winter.
Blossom nods like she was expecting me to say that.
"Does your head hurt?" she questions me further.
"Yes, and it feels really hot," I say solemnly.
Then Blossom and Sunrise both take turns at feeling my forehead with their cold hands.
"You have a cold, a fever," Blossom says.
"And your forehead is as hot as the sun!" Sunrise adds helpfully.
"What you need," Blossom tells me seriously, "Is some hot drink and sleep."
As soon as she says it I know it's true. I didn't sleep a lot this night. The short walk from the river and back suddenly feels like a trip to last the whole day.
Sunrise stands. Blossom follows. I try to stand too. It makes me dizzy.
"Look, you can use the spare hut to sleep in," Blossom tells me.
"You have a spare hut in your village?" I wonder out loud.
"A man used to live there, but he got killed…" Sunrise begins, but says no more.
"Anyways, the hut has been standing empty for the past few moons," says Blossom.
The siblings lead me to a hut like all others. If I hadn't known it was empty, I wouldn't have realized. Now I notice that there are spider webs all over it, including the smoke hole, which means no fire has been lit inside it for some time. The grass around the hut has grown long, meaning that no one has walked here recently.
Blossom holds open the entrance flap and Sunrise carries my sleeping mat inside the hut. When he returns I stumble inside and collapse on the mat. Blossom closes the tent's entrance and for a moment I can see just black, until my eyes adjust to the light.
I lie in the half dark, except for the spot of light, which enters through the smoke hole, and shiver.
Fortunately, sleep comes almost instantly.
AN: Hope you enjoyed this chapter.
Tell me what you think.
Come back soon for the next chapter about Nothing's dream, more about the Juniper village and of course, the new characters; Blossom and Sunrise!