The forest grew quiet. The sound of Tegwin's whimpering and crying was the only sound as she knelt in the clearing. She quietened, listening. It was growing darker, and her stomach growled, reminding her she had nothing to eat since breaking her fast. Tendrils of fear dampened her hunger pangs and she was sure some one was following her.
She tried to clear her mind, and remember what her father told her if she ever got lost in the forest. Thoughts of her father sparked another flash of panic, as she began to imagine the scolding he'd give her when she got home.
Twigs snapped, then, "Oh!"
The sound sliced through the oppressive quiet. Tegwin leapt to her feet and whirled to where the sound came from. "Who...who's there?" her voice feeble and shaky, so she pulled herself up to her full height, and stood as straight as she could.
This time she sounded stronger and clearer. She heard a rustle of leaves, then nothing.
"I know you are there! Come out now!"
Tegwin moved towards the rustling sound. She couldn't see anything but trees and shadow. She shivered. The air dropped suddenly in temperature. She crept towards the bit of bracken where she heard the rustle. She peered over, it was pitch black in the shadows, and jumped as she saw a pair of brilliant green eyes staring right at her.
Her eyes adjusted to the lack of light and she made out a small boy, around the same age as herself, sitting behind the bracken. His eyes were wide with fear. He clutched at his legs, and shivered.
"I won't hurt you."
Tegwin said, fear and tension easing away from her body. The boy shrunk away from her, even though the bracken separated them. Tegwin leaned over it, reaching out to the boy. She realised why she didn't see him at first. His skin blended into the shadows so he seemed almost invisible, except for those glittering emerald eyes.The boy muttered something in a language she didn't understand, and then dashed away, disappearing behind some trees.
All Tegwin's fear and worry pooled inside of her, overwhelming her. Every part of her body became heavy and tired and she couldn't hold herself up. Tegwin turned toward the clearing and crumpled. Her skirt's falling around her like a slightly grubby and worn flower.
The little boy appeared before her, holding his hand out towards her, which she took, grateful, and he pulled her up, leading her through the trees.
It was very dim but the little boy seemed to know where he was, and how to find his way. At last they arrived at a clearing with a broken down cabin. It seemed to glow in the dark as if fairies had sprinkled it with fairy dust, then the glow winked out. She looked in askance at the little boy but he couldn't explain. Moving a broom stick from one side of the door to the other, he led her inside the cottage. She heard him fumble about in the shadows and then darkness was banished by one small candle. The young Moacai grinned above the flame, his teeth catlike with pointed canines. His green eyes glowed with pleasure. He danced around lighting more candles. He placed the first one on a table and pointed to his stomach and said "Grrrrrrr."
Tegwin laughed as her stomach replied in kind.The little boy grinned, as he motioned towards a pile of old cushions and blankets in the corner of the room. Tegwin guessed she should make herself comfortable. She sank down, sitting cross legged as he clattered and banged around. He set a fire, which flickered and danced in the hearth.
Tegwin looked around the room. It was strange. On the shelves there were crudely carved bowls full of substances Tegwin couldn't identify. He emptied out the contents of his bag and began sorting. She saw the little boy pull a bowl down, and put something into whatever he was preparing to eat. There was a lot of food, was the boy gathering food for winter? It was a troubling thought.
She noticed the pile of uncured hides, mostly rabbit pelts, sitting in the opposite corner from her and the odd tent like structure close to the fire. Sitting on the table were odd carved creatures and she noted quite a few of them were interspersed amongst all the food bowls on the shelf. Hanging on the walls were many hides with funny little pictures painted on the back of them. She could see pictures painted on the actual walls as well.
The little boy began humming to himself. A strange tune that Tegwin didn't recognise.
It was unlike any song Tegwin had ever heard. It was tuneful, but in a haunting, mournful way. Tegwin watched the strange boy, as he went about his work. He had long straight black hair that fell past his shoulders. His skin was a velvety black that seemed to absorb all the light around it. His teeth and the whites of his eyes seemed very white in comparison. He looked up and grinned at Tegwin again, showing his little pointed fangs. His face was long, and his chin pointed. His nose was long and aquiline. He was very thin, but not emaciated. He had a gangly quality about him that reminded Tegwin of a little foal. Like He hadn't quite grown into his arms and legs.
He seemed to have a magical quality about him, but maybe that was just how strange and exotic he was to Tegwin.
"You aren't a fairy, are you?"
The little Moacai must have caught the jist of what she was thinking, grinning as he shook his head.
He brought over bowls of food, and a jug full of something that smelt sweet and yeasty.
He sat down cross legged in front of Tegwin, bowed his head and said something in a language Tegwin didn't understand. He then picked up one of the bowls and began to eat. Tegwin watched him with fascination. He looked up once he felt her eyes on him, and gestured to one of the bowls. Tegwin picked one up hesitantly not recognising the contents. She scooped some up with her fingers and sniffed cautiously. It didn't smell too bad. She put it in her mouth. It wasn't horrible. It was starchy like potato, only it was mashed up and tasted sweeter. Asadel handed her some dried meat which was tough and chewy, but Tegwin was so hungry she didn't care. She emptied her bowl and tore the meat with her teeth, chewy quickly and swallowing hard. Asadel placed another bowl in front of her which Tegwin snatched up barely pausing to taste the contents. It was some kind of vegetable broth with wild barely, and root vegetables. Tegwin emptied it, and belched with satisfaction, giggling as after she did it. Asadel looked surprised by the sound then giggled too, belching in reply. He took a clean empty bowl and poured some of the liquid from the jug into it. He offered it to Tegwin and then poured himself one. Tegwin licked her lips after she slurped and swallowed. It tasted like liquid honey, and made her feel a little light headed. The boy poured her some more, watching her as she downed the entire contents of the bowl again without pausing for breath. Tegwin smiled in a lopsided manner. The boy frowned at her as he sipped his. Tegwin poured herself more, and took her time drinking it this time. The boy rather inconspicuously placed the jug on the bench as he picked up the empty bowls and leftovers from their supper. Tegwin peered out from behind the bowl she drank from. That light headed feeling wouldn't go away. She stood up and wobbled on her feet, and flounced around the cabin, making a big show of looking at everything. She picked up one of the carved animals; it looked like something she had seen once in a book. Oliphant, she thought it was called. She watched the little boy out of the corner of her eye. His face tightened when she picked up his carving. She placed it back with a thump but he seemed to relax then.