The Uncle and the Little Girl
Night fell as Vera pulled an arrow out of a black bear. She moved as quietly as possible, but -- it being mating season -- wild beasts were irritated and everywhere.
The bow and arrows she used now was given to her by Oljharok. The Eye had taken her and Kurdak's weapons when they were captured. She cursed the Eye almost daily as a result. While this bow was better than hers, she had not earned it. The tools and weapons taken from her were the things she had bled for. They embodied how far she'd come. The Eye had undone a decade's work in a single night.
Half a day had passed by since she started traveling but she needed another day to get to Shimmer Lake. She was frantic, anxious to find her little friend. She didn't stop to rest even as her eyes grew heavy. It would do her no good to stop since she wouldn't be able to sleep, anyway.
Another hour came and went, Vera's stamina faded as well. Her energy all but gone completely, she found a secluded spot to rest. She ate some jerky and had a drink. A weak fire caught her eye as she was about to lay down.
Why would there be hunters this far north? Aren't they afraid of orcs? she thought.
Her curiosity got the better of her and she went to take a look. Who knew, she might get information about Leguna. The fire wasn't far from her, at most a ten-minute stroll. There was nothing besides the lone fire, though, no tents, no stools… It almost looked like the fire had sprung up on its own in the middle of nowhere. Vera slowed; she felt something watching her.
A large haystack stood nearby, hidden beneath leaves and grass. Vera kept a safe distance from it; she was alone and could not afford to fall into a trap. The stack shook suddenly. Vera immediately drew her bow, arrow notched. Her eyes settled on the stack again, and she saw a small hand sticking out of it.
Vera's eyelids twitched. Nobody would hide themselves in a haystack under normal circumstances. It could only be a corpse.
Why would it move? Is it undead?
The thought terrified her. Things so linked to death only appeared where its aura dominated. Nightsong was a forest, a place of ample life, the undead had no business appearing in it. She approached carefully. Her bow slacked. She used the still-notched arrow's tip to push the loose hay aside.
"Is Big Bro not back yet?" asked Innilis, wiping her mouth. The rough man, surprisingly, cooked pretty good meat.
"Don't be so buggy. He's been gone for just a day. Of course he won't be back already. Here, have some more meat."
Kurdak quickly stuffed more meat into the little girl's mouth. He had done his best to explain Vera's absence the day before, but the little girl wouldn't stop bugging him. He finally understood Kreighdon's pain. If something was on the girl's mind, it was on her tongue as well, and that lump of flesh never stopped moving.
"You're an uncle! Act your age!"
"But Uncle looks 42!"
"B-b-but..." Kurdak scratched his head frantically. Unfortunately he had no choice but to give up. "Fine. Call me whatever you want!"
"That's more like it!" Innilis humphed like a king who'd finally got his stupid subordinates to see things his way. Her oval eyes slitted into crescents, a smile cresting on her face.
Such a sweet smile. Leguna never stood a chance, thought Kurdak, staring at the little noble's face.
"Uncle... w-why are you staring at me like that? You're scaring me."
"You're afraid of me, but not Mister Kreighdon?"
"Big One isn't ferocious. He's pretty cute."
"No wonder you call me an uncle. You have completely perverted tastes!"
"Hmph! You're the weird one!" Innilis puffed and pouted.
As much as she frustrated him, Kurdak couldn't help but find her adorable.
"Hey, hehehe... Lil' Innie..." he teased, rolling his eyes.
"I... Uncle has a question for you. What do you think of Leguna?"
The girl's face reddened. How should she reply? She didn't know how to lie, so she could mutter about Leguna being 'good to her'. Kurdak's jaw almost dropped.
"I didn't think you liked him this much. What do you think about becoming his woman?"
"His woman?" Innilis blinked.
A face already red became a face completely crimson. The little girl's eyes glazed over as a sweet smile crept onto her face.
"But Big Bro likes Annie..."
"Forget about her. She's probably already married to some prince. Why would she care about Leguna, the little pauper?"
"No! Sis isn't like that! I know she really misses Big Bro!"
"So what? Don't you miss him, too?"
"I... I do…" the girl's lips murmured, "But I won't get between him and Sis! That'd be wrong!"
"Who said anything about getting between them? Can't you both be his wives? Why does it have to be just one of you?"
The little girl was dumbstruck. There were indeed no laws or taboos around having more than one woman, few did it -- mainly nobles. A single woman was trouble and expensive enough. For the average man, two was just looking to get killed. She had never even thought of it, so she had no response.
"Why so many buts? As long as you're fine with it, Uncle will make sure Leguna makes you his. Just say that's what you want!"
Even Kurdak, as thick skinned as he was, wanted to slap himself for messing with the little girl so much, but her expression was just too precious, how could he stop? And besides, he could never have another woman, so he might as well push his dream onto his little follower.
Innilis finally nodded hesitantly after several minutes of red-faced thought. Immediately after she rushed into her tent and buried her face in her arm shyly.
"That's more like it!"
"Damn it, Leguna. You better thank me to high heaven when you come back! Your boss is breaking all the rules for you! Oh, how I wish I could have a few more women! Maybe I should give a few a good go when we head to Chino… Hehe... Chino is much more refined than Lance, so the women should be as well.is a much more refined place than here. I bet the skin of the women there are much fairer as well."
"That so? I see Lord Kurdak isn't happy with Vera's skin," a soft voice slid into his ears from behind.
"That is true, unfortunately. Her hands are calloused, and her skin thick. It's nothing like the books say it should be... I--"
His words were cut off by a violent stab of killing intent boring into the back of his head and setting him alight.
Wait, I know that voice!
Sweat poured off him like rain from clouds. His head turned creakily on rusted bearings, prayers bursting out of his lips silently as his gaze slowly came to rest on two dark figures, one on the other's back.
I'm dead… the thought burst out of his chest along with his heart when he recognized the largest of the figures.
Vera stood shakily, covered in sweat and dirt, Leguna's unconscious body on her back, a dreamy, dreadful smile cracking her face.
"While this ol' gal's working her ass off looking for Ley, you sit here having delightful fantasies, hmm? Tell this old lady, Kurdak, what should she do about this?" Vera murdered each word as the trudged out of the darkness.
"Oh, my beautiful, heavenly, benevolent goddess, let's not be hasty! H-How is Leguna?"
"He's fine. You should be more worried about the other male here. Go on. Tell me, what will you do once you get to Chino?"
Every word dripped in venom and death as Vera placed Leguna on the ground next to Kurdak.
"Uhm... Well, you know, my goddess, I like to run my mouth sometimes... Some things are best not taken to heart, right? Owowowow! Don't pinch my face! This isn't something a lady would do! Oh heavens, keep your nails to yourself! I thought you were a woman, not a wolf! Ouch, my hair! Why would you do that?! I've wronged you! It's my fault, okay?!... Fine, punish me! But please not my hair! Innie! I know you're awake! Help me out! I can't keep our promise if I'm dead! Aaaaack! Gods above, send someone to stop this beast!"
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