A soft light floods in as I open my eyes, taking a few moments for my eyes to adjust. I’m surrounded by wood, and next to me is a clear barrier, bringing in the sights from outside. Am I inside of a tree? I sit up and realize I’m lying on something soft. I look down to see what it is, and I’m…hairless? Well, mostly. Fine, short hairs cover my body, longer on the top of my head. I look down my legs until I see between them, and why is it on the outside?
I fall back into the softness and realize it has some type of covering. I put it over me and look out of this clear barrier. The sun’s low in the sky; I can’t tell if the sun is rising or setting. Through the thick of the trees, I can see a little of the sky. I’ve never seen anything like it before. And did the trees always look this different? Some rocks look like no other that I’ve seen on the ground. Or have I seen them? Have I been here before?
As I’m staring out, I catch a glimpse of something faint. Some…thing is looking at me. I move to get a closer look, and it moves too. I sit up further, and it moves with me. I lower my head, and it does the same. I lie down, and it’s gone. I can’t have something looking at me when I look like…well, I don’t really know what I look like now or even what I am! The hint of round, light eyes gazing back at me. Hair hanging down and curly around a thin face. I sit back from this creepy thing. I try to get up, and after a bit of hesitation, I hit the ground.
Hearing a rough growl, I look around to see where the noise is coming from. Seeing no one, I realize it came from me. I’d have taken the time to make more sounds, but something is standing in front of me. Looking down then up, I’m sure that they’re like me. A female, maybe? Luckily this covering’s over me, but I can tell that I’m a male. Looking back up, I’m met with confusion.
I don’t understand what she’s saying, but I still feel like I do. I think she can tell and slowly walks toward me. I back up until I hit something. Cornered, I realize I’m not afraid. I look up at her, and I’m met with a face that I’m sure I’ve seen before. Just who is she, and is she responsible for bringing me here? She puts her hand on my face and leans forward, speaking more of what I don’t understand. However, one thing stands out to me, and I know she’s calling to me.
Quite a while has passed since I woke up here. The days have gone from getting longer and the hot sun high in the sky to the days getting shorter again. If I remember, the word is autumn. It seems like a lifetime ago that I woke up in this strange house, not knowing who or what I was.
Some things came to me quickly, like walking and saying a few things. Other things came to me without thinking like I had done them before. I’ve had some difficulties along the way as far as learning how to do some daily tasks, and there are quite a few words I don’t understand. One thing I’ve found that I’m good at is hunting. I can sneak up on an animal without it even hearing me, and it’s on its way to being food before it knows it’s taken its last breath.
Mother lives deep in the forest past where most other animals live. I’ve taken to calling her Mother because it just felt right. At first, she flinched whenever I did it, but she doesn’t seem to mind as much now. While we have plenty of space inside, she still has me building things for the “work” that she does. She says that building is essential for me to grow and learn about myself, something about a character. I’m not sure.
Other than that, I’ve learned about the differences between trees and plants and how to use them to make different weapons. And whenever I ask too many questions, she gives me a look—brows low, eyes narrowed like I’ve cursed her somehow. Everything around me is new, exciting, and a little scary, so excuse me for being curious. When Mother thinks I’m “getting on her nerves” too much, she sends me to do a task. Which is what’s happening now.
Before I get too far, she reminds me of something that’s why I want to leave as quickly as possible.
“Aren’t you forgetting someone?” Mother asks.
“Um,” I hum. “Can’t say that I am.” I refuse to take that useless thing with me. At my side, I hear a low growl. A big fur ball of sheer aggression and claws. If they made it that far, anyone else would probably run for the hills by now, but I’m baring my teeth right back.
“You know to take Baolarah with you whenever you leave, Aderran,” she says sternly.
“But she’s annoying,” I whine. She’s like another Mother, only way meaner and could tear me to shreds at any second. “Besides, I think I can handle picking some berries.”
“I’m not sending you to pick berries,” she says. What now? I swear if she sends me on one more meaningless task. “We need more water. Baolarah will show you the way. I can trust that you won’t stray from her. Right?”
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