3. An Unimpressive Friend

A hawk’s call pierced the air as a girl quickly drew her bow and aimed to the sky as her eyes darted, looking for the source. However, after a few moments of nothing, she lowered her bow with a sigh of relief.

“Come on Rune,” she hummed while kneeling down, placing her old and weathered bow on the ground. She gently took hold of a three-clawed hand that had been clinging to her shoulder and pulled it free, before she carefully removed the animal it belonged to from her back and sat it in front of her. She smiled sweetly as the sloth slowly fed itself the leaves it held in its other hand while continuing to hold onto hers. “Do you need more leaves?” she pressed as its chocolate eyes rested on hers of lilac.

“Ehnhhh,” the sloth replied with a smile, earning a soft laugh before she gently patted his head.

“Alright then, time to get back in the sack. I don’t want another hawk trying to eat you,” she hummed as the sloth smiled and she lifted Rune before nestling him into the bag that sat like a sash down her chest. “There we go!” she hummed.

“Ehnhhhhhhhhh,” Rune called out, deepening her smile.

“Love you too Rune,” she cooed as the sloth’s arm extended from the bag to hold onto a lock of her dark purple hair. 

The girl picked up her bow before slowly rising to her feet with a pained groan.

“Ehnhh?” Rune questioned.

“Don’t worry! What’s one more scar anyways?” she chimed while reflectively touching the skin to the side of her left eye where a small scar ran, cutting gently through her eyebrow. “I’ll be ok,” she added softly before looking down her side. 

Her shirt and pants were slightly torn and stained by blood. Bandages could be seen through the tears in her clothing as she gently rested a hand on her side, taking a deep breath.

“Just a bit sore,” she hummed before wiping her brow. “I should have been more careful with that gravase. We were lucky there was just one.”

“Ehnh”, Rune agreed and the girl fixed her bow to her back.

“I just wish it was a little cooler today.” the girl sighed.

She may have easily dismissed her injuries, but she was not a fool, she was aware of the severity and the ever-growing infection that fed her fever. 

“Just need to keep moving, right Rune?” she questioned.

“Ehnhh!” Rune exclaimed happily and the girl smiled as she began walking.

-

The day grew late as the girl’s fever worsened and hallucinations began to plague her.

“Ehnhhh!” Rune squeaked in urgency as the girl clutched him to her chest with her eyes darting all over the darkened forest, and sweat dripped down her brow. Rune slowly snaked his arms around her neck as her body shivered. 

“Shh Rune, they’ll hear us.” the girl whispered in a panic as her eyes darted to the ghosted images that plagued her.

“Ehnh!” Rune retorted.

“Please Rune!” she urged in a whisper while gently placing a shaky hand on the back of his head. “Please… We can’t- we can’t let them catch us...” she whispered, panting as her steps became more staggered, and exhaustion filled her. 

The color drained completely from the pale girl’s face as she stared at the illusion before her. It was of a tall gruff man that wore armor lined in fur while wielding a sword and shield. He towered over her with an evil grin as her legs crumbled beneath and she fell backward to the ground. The massive man continued his threatening grin while lodging his sword into the ground and pulling a whip from his hip.

“You-you- YOU’RE DEAD!” she shouted as she clutched Rune to her chest, trying to scramble away from the hallucination, causing her injuries to bleed. “YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD!!!” she screamed as tears streamed down her face.

“EHNHH!”, Rune exclaimed, and the girl wrapped herself around the sloth, trying to protect him with her body as the vision plagued her.

She cried uncontrollably while rocking on the ground until she slowly slipped from consciousness. 

-

In the dark forest, an old god heard the girl’s cries and slowly moved towards them. His long arms hung carelessly from his shoulders, allowing for his fingers to trail lightly against the ground in his slumped posture. Lines of new growth were left by his touch as he moved in the direction of the cries that had gone silent.

 

“Should I interfere as well?” the forest god pondered. 

 

He paused as his long pointed ears swiveled until catching the faint sound of the girl’s ragged breathing before slowly moving again.

 

“I wouldn’t,” a young goddess warned.

 

The god continued to move until reaching the shivering girl, plagued by her fever.

 

“What will Abrirvis do if he returns to see the human’s running amuck with OUR powers?” urgent fear rattled her voice, “What then, huh?!”

 

The god towered over the young girl while staring down at her with his golden gaze and slowly moved his hand towards her.

“EHNHHH!” Rune exclaimed aggressively at the god, causing him to hesitate as the sloth sat up and waved its claws at him.

“You are unimpressive,” the god’s voice sang through the trees like a cacophony of birds. “But so is the dying one.”

“Ehnh?” Rune questioned sadly as he looked at the girl.

“She will die of that infection… The world will not change. The lethargy of the humans will continue despite the interference of the twins.” the god spoke slowly as Rune gradually reached for the girl’s face to caress it gently with his claws. 

 

“You are young but wise Nexeva…” the forest god concurred, “I will not impart my powers, however, I will give the young human a fighting chance. All life is precious.”

 

The god gently touched the ground, causing vines to crawl over the girl’s injuries before small flowers blossomed over them while releasing a healing nectar.

 

“I am glad you listened to reason, Viserus.”

 

The god slowly made his way from the girl, disappearing back into his forest as the night grew late, and the vines retreated with Rune climbing on top of the girl.

The girl’s fever left with the vines and she gradually woke while shivering on the forest floor. However, a gentle warmth laid against her, and she slowly looked to see Rune laying on her. After a moment she managed to move the sloth into her lap while she sat herself up, against the tree.

“Ehnhh?” Rune questioned while looking up to her as she offered a weak smile.

“I’m sorry Rune,” she breathed while trying to control her shivering. “I’ll try not to push myself so hard…” she promised while reaching into the bag and pulling out a blanket. “But we shouldn’t be too far from the town now.” She groaned while wrapping the blanket around the both of them. “I should have enough for some bandages... but I don’t know about food. I’ll have to set some line traps and-”

“Ehnh!” Rune interrupted angrily and she let out a soft sigh.

“I know, I know… I said I’d try… Doesn’t mean I’ll succeed.” she mumbled while continuing to shiver and she wrapped her arms around Rune. 

The exhausted girl soon drifted back to sleep until the morning sun broke through the canopy to warm her skin. 

 

“I feel a lot better than I thought I would.” the girl yawned as she stood. 

Her fever was gone and as she changed her bandages she was shocked to find that all signs of her infections were gone.

“You didn’t become a doctor overnight did you?” she playfully questioned Rune, and he smiled at her, earning a soft laugh before she finished treating herself. “Alright then let’s-”

Screaming could be heard in the distance causing the girl to fall silent, and as the screaming continued she glanced at Rune who slowly blinked at her.

“Ehnhh?”, Rune squeaked and the girl quickly drew her bow before picking him up, draping him on her back.

Rune’s arms locked around the girl’s neck as she staggered to her feet and ran off towards the screaming with her bow in hand.

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