Chapter 5: Don’t trust strangers, please!
I woke up to the sound of footsteps. I open my eyes heavily since I’ve never slept on a tree before, or so I think. It was a very rough night, I had a nightmare where I was living on this damned tree like a savage.
A thing figure passes some distance from my tree. I can see her long hair cascading down to her slim waist, she’s a woman. Should I get her attention and ask for help?
Between waking up and gathering my thoughts the woman was already gone. By hesitating, I missed my chance.
It’s good to think before acting, but since I haven’t seen people so far, I may have lost a unique opportunity.
I don’t even know my own circumstances, what should I answer if she started to ask me even the most basic questions?
In an ideal scenario, I hoped I could help some stranger and then ask them to give me information. Out of gratitude they would answer my questions without thinking twice.
On the other hand, if I am the one who needs help, they will most likely take advantage of my condition.
I take another look at my surroundings in case someone else comes after her. Before I even manage to climb down the tree, the girl came back and stood right in front of a bush. Could it be that she’s looking for the jackal?
She starts scanning her surroundings as she places her basket in the ground.
Did she hear me?
Out of the blue she starts taking off her clothes, first her footwear and then pulls down her pants. I can’t avoid taking a peek.
My face starts to feel hot, is this embarrassing? And what if she finds me out now or if she thinks I’m a pervert spying on he? But why on earth is she taking her clothes off?
A sudden realization finally hits me and I look the other way out of respect. Afterall, I wouldn’t like to be spied while doing my business either.
My heart races and I freeze. An enormous pressure takes over me. I don’t know why the idea of ??being found out scares me so much.
I couldn’t gather any information about her, anything I found out could’ve given me an advantage, but i was too embarrassed to look at her anymore. I may not have my memory but i guess I’m not an idiot, I did notice she was quite attractive and that’s pretty much all I could think about.
Since i was looking away i didnt notice when she was done.
She seems to be almost as tall as myself and looks quite young, maybe just a little younger than me. Her hair is blond, or maybe it’s white and it’s just reflecting the sunlight. Her clothing looks comfortable. She appears to be very clean and has a neat appearence, wich is strange considering we are out in the wild.
Perhaps she lives nearby! It seems I finally found my way back into civilization.
For obvious reasons I’ve only seen her from above, so that’s why i couldn’t get much more information.
After waiting for her to move, I climb down the tree and follow her at a safe distance, being as careful as possible to avoid making any noise, and hide behind the foliage from time to time.
It’s exhausting but it has its benefits, after a long time of following her I got a new skill.
This is exciting in it’s own way, I’m actually looking forward to meeting her, though I’m still worried that there might be more people around.
Should I get her attention or not? I’ve been alone for so long that even if it means being at disadvantage, it might still be worth talking to her.
But what if she knows I’ve been following her? she may believe i was spying on her. Well, technically I am spying on her, and i did see her partially naked, but she left me no choice.
I’m not a pervert, well I’m not really sure since I have no memory. What I’m sure of is that I didn’t mean to spy on her, but i did.
Why am i hesitating so much? this is what i came looking for, even if there’s a slight chance she’ll lead me to a town or village it’ll be totally worth it. Also, i can just keep following her to see where she’s going, there’s no need to talk to her at all.
To avoid misunderstandings, I decide to follow her from further away, I wait for her walk ahead until she becomes a small point on the horizon.
I feel like it’s taking forever, there are fewer and fewer trees and they are also thinner. Can it still be called a forest?
Going a little further ahead I lost her track, but even though there’s no marked trail, there are clear signs that people occasionally pass through here.
Not only occasional footprints, there are broken branches on the trees, some trees had been hit with the obvious purpose of marking the path. Getting lost is impossible when they make it so easy to follow the trail.
These people are not trying to hide themselves at all. In my shelter I did my best to hide my tracks but that’s because i was all by my lone self. She must be from a big town since they are so careless.
Being so close to a town i’m glad I took so many precautions. If i were to find a stranger near my refuge would have been a blessing, but if a stranger was to find my cabin while I was gone, would’ve been disastrous.
I could have been robbed, ambushed or maybe even killed. Risk is too high for such an uncertain reward.
After all, it would have been nice to get the jackal tamed. Not only would I have gotten a good companion, It could’ve looked after my cabin while I went about my business.
Well, there’s no point in crying over spilled milk. Hey!? Where did I hear that? It’s a proverb, I know it is, but I don’t recall hearing it before. That would be impossible because I haven’t been interacting with anyone as far as i can remember.
Does this mean that my memory has not been completely lost?
A little further on I can see smoke rising high in the sky, i’m getting close so I decide to approach cautiously and climb a tall tree, this way I’ll be able to gather up some more information beforehand.
The sight in front of my eyes shocks me. There are four poorly built tents, their shape is irregular, and they look... shabby. Campfire is bare, ground is uneven and there are branches, sticks, leaves, and even food scraps on the ground.
It is an absolute mess!
They all seem well dressed, though they are not as clean as the girl I saw earlier. She is nowhere to be seen, however, there are three people near the campfire. A man who looks quite bulky leans in front of the campfire, it seems that he’s stoking the fire, next to him a short girl seems to be having an animated conversation with the bulky man.
It’s a funny image, as she stands only slightly taller than the man kneeling in front of the fire, which makes her look even tinier.
The last one is a blond boy with a remarkable appearance, he’s handsome, i’m a man but even I can tell that much though i wouldn’t say that out loud. He seems to be minding his own business, he walk towards one of the tents move the leather curtain at the entrance and i lost sight of him.
This group is made up of at least four people, none of them looking particularly strong, save for the big man.
I sneak away from their settlement having trouble believing what i just saw with my very own eyes. These people are in an awful condition!
I took so many precautions back at my place, and these guys... they practically live like savages.
There’s even some waste near where they live, aren’t they afraid of wild animals? their tents are fragile and flammable. Their campfire must consume a lot of firewood and being so close to their tents... I can’t even put into words how much it upsets me.
To make matters worse, I did’t see weapons nor tools anywhere, how are they even alive?
It was a good idea not to ask for help, after witnessing how bad their living conditions are, I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to eat me. Also, they almost certainly have no medicine, what’s even the point of approaching them?
I should just take care of my wounds on my own.
After a sigh I move around, it doesn’t take long until I find what I was looking for.
Red berry: has medicinal properties.
It’s not a good idea to put a fruit on my wound, it will most likely end up causing even more problems.
Not all plants with medicinal properties serve the same purpose, red berries help against stomach upsets, it’s bush leaves serve the same purpose, though they provide a lesser effect.
This means that it won’t have any effect to prevent infection, however, i found out that if I eat a large amount of berries I’ll be able to recover some health points.
The underlying problem, the open wound, will still be there, but as long as I keep my health points high, I’m not at risk.
Health points 8/10
After eating a handful of berries I feel better, I start to analyze the nearby vegetation. I’m not that far from my cabin, yet the plants here are very different.
If I think about it, the geography changed drastically after leaving the forest.
I’d like to go back for my backpack, there I have some medicinal plants that I have previously used to treat wounds. It’s actually a grass, it grows as a single long leaf, then curls and falls under its own weight until it hits the ground. Seen from afar it appears as if a large ring of thin grass is buried.
Sadly, I haven’t been able to find them with the naked eye so far, I got no choice but use analyze on plants that i’m not familiar with, in hopes to find something useful.
Moon clover: edible, has a sweet taste.
This one surprises me, it’s just a clover but it’s name suggest otherwise. I chew on it and... well, it tastes kind of funny, not in a bad way, but eating grass doesn’t seem appealing to me.
Silver flower: gives off a pleasant aroma. Its root has medicinal properties.
This is exactly what i was looking for. Fortunately I still have my spear, I used it to dig a hole and removed the entire plant. Its root is quite prominent.
I need to wash it to be able to consume it, or maybe you should try applying it directly to the wound.
It’s difficult to think of a way to take advantage of it’s properties with my current means. I would like to have a mortar, so I can grind the root, extract the juice and do some experiments. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, a mortar would certainly be helpful, but i spend so much time doing chores that i have almost no time to investigate new resources or to experiment with them.
Since I don’t have tools nor the time, I look around for a source of fresh water so i can at least wash the root. I wonder if the flower itself could be of any use.
If these people live here, there’s almost certainly a water source nearby. I mean, they don’t seem like the most competent people in the world, but at least one of them must have a good head on their shoulders, or else they wouldn’t be alive right now.
After giving a wide detour to the settlement in order to avoid getting caught, I find the water source, it’s a river.
It comes from a mountain that can be seen in the distance, but it looks so far away it seems impossible to reach on foot, not counting that this forest seems to be endless. Landscape is beautiful and it takes me a minute to absorb some of that beauty into my retina, everytime I find a lovely place like this I’m overjoyed.
Washing the wound and the sash is the first step, It’s important to be thorough even if it hurts a little. Since I don’t have flint or containers, I can’t boil water. Fortunately, I still got some red berries since I only consumed about half of them. It’s safe to drink river water as long as I have enough red berries to detox afterwards.
My arm goes numb under the cold current of the river, it’s a nice feeling. I look everywhere, I must remain alert in case there are enemies or predators.
Everything seems to be fine so I finish washing. Then, i proceed to wash the root, flowing water makes it a lot easier. After, I run into the bushes to hide while I chew the root of the silver flower into a paste, its taste extremely bitter but not as bitter as losing an arm would be. 𝒊n𝙣𝓻𝚎𝒶𝚍. 𝑐𝗼𝓶
I know I’m acting like a wild animal, but, arent wild animals able to survive out in the wild precisely because they are overly cautious?
I apply the paste on the wound and hold it down for a moment. As soon as the paste touches my skin I feel a sharp pain in my arm and I hold on stoically. I feel a burning sensation as if it burns my skin, for a second I doubt if it is having an effect or if it is causing more damage.
I quickly dismiss the idea, if I was taking damage I’d have received a notification of my health points. I can trust these notifications, they’ve been quite helpful this last month and It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that they have kept me alive all this time.
After dressing up my wound I climb to a tree since sleeping on ground level would be too dangerous.
Next morning my arm doesn’t hurt at all and my health points have fully recovered. Not only that, there’s not even a scar, it’s as if i was never hurt in the first place.
This plant is really powerful, If I could get more, I’d try to farm them. This flower is also quite beautiful, it’s white and looks like a cup with a diagonal cut whose four petals open up to give it an elegant and delicate shape. I’d love to see a garden of these flowers.
As soon as I climb down I head towards the settlement. Everyone seems to be still sleeping although it’s already day. Their campfire is out, and there doesn’t seem to be movement.
I wait around so they can see me as soon as they get up, but as the hours go by I get bored.
These people! how can they waste daylight like that!?
there’s only so many hours in a day, and they spend their entire morning sleeping? Everything i’ve seen so far makes me wonder how are they even alive.
I walk away in the direction I came from to get my breakfast, something tells me that if I go any further I might run into that stupid jackal from the woods again. I know it’s silly, but I’m scared of it now.
It’s already noon, I could’ve fished something in the river with my spear, but instead spent the morning gathering. I managed to find some edible mushrooms and nuts, I can’t help but get excited about discovering new types of food, even though I couldn’t gather enough for a full meal.
Finally someone woke up, she’s the first woman I saw, after comming out of her tent with the basket she goes in the direction of the river.
I hurried my pace to get to the river before her, mi plan is to be seen from afar so I head dowsntream, leaning on my spear as if I am very tired or hurt. There’s no better way to know someone’s real intentions than to be seen in a vulnerable state. If she decides i’m an enemy i’ll just make a run for it, on the other hand, if she comes in my aid i’ll just play along.
I walk slowly and dragging my feet on the ground. I need to look as fragile and harmless as possible.
She arrives upstreamwith her basket on the shore, she still hasn’t seen me so I go on with my acting.
Everything’s going great and im very optimistic about my plan, until she starts to undress.
What happens to this girl who is taking off her clothes everywhere?
Does she want to take a bath or maybe wash her clothes?
Her skin is white and smooth, typical of someone her age. Her slim figure accompanies the beauty of her face...
What am i even thinking right now?
It’s best to look down and pretend I didnt see anything, I can’t turn back now.
As soon as she sees me, she lets out a huge shriek.
“You!? Pervert! Help! a pervert! What do you want?”
Of all things I really didn’t expect that reaction, this unsettled me leaving me no time to think. She quickly covers herself with the clothes she brought along with her while her companions come running.
I can’t see who they are because I’m pretending to be in a weakened state.
I start to hear quick footsteps getting closer and, when I judge they are too close, I let myself fall to the ground without thiking twice.
“Hey, who are you?” A deep voice resounds next to me. Too bad, he’s the huge guy. Could it be a giant? Am i in trouble now?
“Are you okay?” Says a very sweet voice that I haven’t heard before, this could be the tiny girl I saw before. It’s better if I don’t answer to avoid getting caught in my scheme.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have healed my wound to provide some evidence of my demise, but how could i’ve known that the silver flower had such amazing medicinal properties!?
“Don’t ask him if he’s okay! That pervert was spying on me while I was taking a bath!”
“Don’t be ridiculous, look at the state he’s in, it’s obvious he came here by chance. Also, what would you like us to do? It’s not like we can kill him just for peeping”
If they knew I was actually following her, I don’t think I’d go out unharmed, but it’s good to know they won’t kill me.
“Quick! Bob, take him to the village”
isn’t it a bit too much to say village? I think calling it camp would be a compliment.
I bite my lip to keep myself from laughing.
“Helena! How many times must I repeat that you should call me by my wizard name in front of others, I’m Marduk the Magnificent”
What’s wrong with this guy? What’s up with that name?
Well, at least they don’t seem like bad people. The only way I see them capable of killing me would be through secondhand embarrassment.
In a single movement the giant takes me in his arms, I’m being rocked from side to side with each step he takes. Although he walks calmly, I realize that we are actually moving quite fast.
If I put aside the awkwardness of this situation, it’s actually quite comfortable to be carried. Is this how princesses feel when carried away? Of course I wouldn’t admit it, but this is fun.
Anyway, I must pretend to be weak for a while longer, keeping my eyes closed and just let him carry me.
I can barely hear the voices of the women who are talking a little further back, I don’t know what they’re saying but they seem pretty upset. I guess the long-haired girl is still mad I saw her naked. Though i couldn’t even get a good look, not that I regret it anyways.
The footsteps stop, I can hear the crackle of the fire. Bob sets me down carefully, it’s awkward because he put me right on top of a branch, but I can’t complain.
I literally can’t complain, I’m supposed to be weakened.
“Who is he? Where did you find him?
“He was spying on Anne while she was taking a bath”
Anne, so that’s her name. I wonder how common is to see someone naked before getting to know her name.
“It’s not that, I’m sure he was just passing by”
Says the one named Helena, I’m trying my best to learn their names as soon as possible.
“He spied on me! I’m sure!”
“Stop dreaming, the world doesn’t revolve around you”
This is the tiny girl talking, but judging by her voice she’s not a little girl she must just be short.
Everyone laughs at her comment, I think it’s a good time to open my eyes.
I see six people looking down at me.
“Thank you for helping me, I’m exhausted” I say with the most fragile voice I could fake.
“Don’t worry, we couldn’t abandon you to your fate, where do you come from?”
Best thing to build trust between people is honesty and sincerity, if you can fake both you’ll be fine. Instead of lying i’ll try to say as much as i can without actually giving any critical information.
“I live alone in the forest, but I was running out of resources so I decided to explore trying to find a better place. On the way here I was attacked by a jackal so I spent the night in the open, and, when I woke up I explored the whole area. I don’t know where I am, but I’m just tired and a bit thirsty”
I speak calmly while everyone listens carefully.
“Too bad, friend! But don’t worry, you’re fine now, you can stay with us as long as you want” says Bob in a cheerful tone.
“What are you saying, moron! Can’t you see he’s a pervert!?” Anne retorts.
“Pervert or not, we can’t abandon him, he could die if we don’t help him.” A beautiful girl says, pauses, then looks at me “you’d better rest while we talk and we tried to come to an agreement.”
So, this is helena, her voice is very sweet and calm, which is the absolute opposite of Anne. I think I already like her. She’s prettier than Anne, in a cute way.
They help me sit up and guide me to a tent.
Wow!, up close they look even worse than they did from afar.
Even though they have leather, they waste it using it as a curtain. If i had any leather I would have made a waterskin or something to wear, anything but a curtain for a structure which is an insult to makeshift shelters.
As I lie on the hard ground, I can’t help but think that I’d even rather be in a cave underground, I hope I don’t catch a disease or something.
Taking advantage where I am, I do my best to listen to what they’re saying.
They’re a bit far, I hear voices and I think I can distinguish them, but I can’t make much of what they say.
I focus all my attention to no avail, now I’m at their hands.
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