• "... I'm hungry. When will we eat? We missed breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days now. I want to eat!"

    Arinae paid no heed to her companion's frequent complaints, putting up with him for as long as she could bear. She continued to walk on for what seemed to be another half hour, intending on stopping and resting at the nearest town when the two came by it. As the woman walked at a steady pace, she reached into the traveler's pack about her waist and pulled out a sturdy silver clip; it was one of which her own father had made when she was younger, on account of the fact that even back then, Arinae had thick hair. As Arinae pinned her long, knee-length auburn hair up, she spoke to her companion with trained patience, as he had still been whining about his 'poor, empty stomach.'

    "When we get to town, you can eat as much as you want. We'll stop by an inn and rest for the night, too." Arinae stopped abruptly in her tracks, causing the woman's young companion to collide into her. The boy blinked, as if in a daze, then gazed down Arinae as she turned to him and continued to speak. Despite his age, the young boy was an inch taller than Arinae, who stood at almost six feet even. "By the way... You moan and complain quite a bit, Austa. You had best be careful who you're whining to. Chances are, someone like you just might lose a tongue. Or perhaps you might lose something... more important than your tongue."

    At the woman's last statement, Austa followed Arinae's gaze, which was on his crotch for a quick second, then looked back at her sharp green eyes and winced inwardly. He certainly wasn't willing to lose anything 'important.'

    "Uh... I'm good," Austa mumbled awkwardly.

    Austa didn't complain about a single thing for the next five hours, much less anything close to the topic of food.

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    The sun was setting by the time Austa and Arinae had finally come across a small town. A mix of light purple, orange-red, and a few other warm colors hung high in the sky, changing the way everything felt in town. The sinking sun brought about a sense of serenity. Crickets were already chirping, people were finishing their day's work, and mothers were calling for their children to come inside. Arinae looked about and headed over to one of the townsfolk nearby. She seemed to be talking in her no-nonsense tone, even to the kind-looking man she was speaking with.

    Austa shook his head slightly. Arinae had to learn to lighten up! He wondered whether the woman ever had real friends. Scanning the area around him, he noticed that a small group, made up of six little children, were gazing up at him with a curiosity that wasn't very well hidden. Or rather... They weren't gazing at him, per se. The children were gazing curiously at the crude, horrific scar running down his left arm. Smiling lightly, Austa held up his left arm for the little ones to see and said one word.


    Most of the kids nodded quickly; Austa blinked when the smallest child, a young, blonde-haired girl, shook her head. The other children shot an incredulous glance at the little girl. How... unexpected.

    Child and teenager stared at each other for a brief moment. It seemed as if the little girl was examining him with green eyes that looked sharper and more mature than her young age; noticing this, Austa felt a chill run down his spine, and he did his best not to show his slightly shaken state.

    Luckily, the girl's mother seemed to be calling for her; she had suddenly turned around and ran off before anything more could be said. Austa sighed inwardly, then jumped when he felt a light touch on his shoulder. Turning around, the boy was face-to-face with Arinae.

    "I found out where we can rest for the night," the woman said in a matter-of-fact tone. A look of question passed over her features when she saw how Austa had jumped from a simple touch. She turned and began to walk, continuing to speak. "You can eat as much as you want; I'll pay the expenses. Just don't make a pig of yourself."

    Austa opened his mouth to speak, then blinked and shut his mouth immediately as Arinae spoke once more.

    "Take a shower, too. You smell of cow carcasses ripped apart by a mob of unruly crows and vultures. I should hope that that isn't the reason as to why those children were all staring at you," Arinae said flatly.

    Austa wrinkled his nose slightly at the woman's statement and held up an arm quickly, sniffing. He shrugged and ran after Arinae.

    I suppose a shower is due... But first: Food.