7 007

A Frog in the Well

Resting on the ground Huojin glanced at his young friend who had woken up in the middle of their escape through the river. Strangely Moss had seemed to have been very calm, too calm as if something inside him had changed. Though he had wondered where they were, he longer asked to go back, in any case it was too late for that now.

Struggling onto the land Moss looked unfocused, his eyes seemed to be looking towards the village in the distance which could no longer be seen. At the same time, smoke still heavily hung in the air, that much could be seen from afar.

"Hey are you okay Moss? We'll go back to get your mum when things quieten down, its too dangerous right now."

There was no reply. Turning around, the wet body of his friend was like a cat which had been dragged into water, bedraggled and tired.

"Gui do you think everything will okay?"

Looking at the young boy in front of him, Huojin didn't have the heart to lie, everyone had to grow up sometime and now was no different to later.

Carefully looking back into his dark pupils which were horizontal instead of circular, Huojin took a moment before he replied. "I am not sure but before you came to me, your mum told me to take care of you before she left, she wasn't sure if you went to the village or into the woods like your normally do. Actually she looked a bit tired at that time but also happy, I think she would be happy to know that you are safe…"

Tears started to fall down from Moss's face, he wasn't stupid or confused. He knew what Huojin was hinting at, picturing the kind smile from his mum's face and her strange expression that was a cross between sadness and relief when he told her the news about passing the Ceremony he couldn't help but sob louder.

Awkwardly standing to the side, Huojin wasn't sure what to do, after all going over to give him a hug would be difficult in his situation. Finally deciding to move closer, he simply put a hand on his shoulder and slowly patted him as if to reassure him that things would turn out well.

After a moment he decided to leave his grieving friend while he went to gather materials to start a fire. They were both still wet from swimming in the water and it would do no good coming so far and escaping danger only to die from a cold. It didn't take long, even only having one arm did not stop him. He could do all the things normally people albeit slowly. Time was the one thing they had plenty of right now.

Still, he couldn't help but trouble his friend from his grief. "Moss can you come over here, we need to start a fire, its getting dark." As if waking up from a nightmare, Moss moved closer to Huojin and listlessly went through the motions of creating a fire. It took several attempts, in fact at one point Huojin was getting frustrated at the scene and almost went to yank the wooden tool the young boy had put together to make the fire, however his patience won in the end. After everything that had happened he knew Moss was going through a delicate stage.

With the fire finally started, the two crowded around the warmth of the flame each lost in deep thoughts. Considering his age and his current condition Huojin knew it would be difficult to take care of both of them, whether the village survived the calamity was another issue he was not too hopeful about. He had decided early on he would take responsibility for Moss but how he did so was another matter. He could tell that if anything did happen to his mum, the outcome would not be good.

On the other hand Moss was still slowly mulling the memories that he received from his life bond, 'Jafar' the strange name curled on the edge of his lips as he silently mouthed the name of his creature. Though he couldn't tell if others had the same experience as him, Moss knew there was something different about his life bond. Thinking back about what he learned from Blake, after a careful thought he had a feeling that it might have something to do with his blood which had started to evolve his creature.

Though Jafar was still not at the stage where he could talk to him clearly, he was still able to understand him and knew that his creature had a life of its own. It seemed to be very intelligent despite being less than a day old.

"Moss are you listening, we should rest for now, bring some more wood to this fire, we can go back to the village tomorrow and check the situation." After weighing all the options, Huojin realised it was still best to go back and have a look at what had happened. He'd also planned to set off in the early morning of the day to check the situation first without waking his friend. With a clear plan in mind, he quickly laid down and went to rest.

Sitting by the fire Moss saw Huojin fall asleep but he couldn't go to sleep. Too many things were going through his mind, he was also worried about what would happen when he saw the village. Still, sitting by the far despite his protests his exhausted body soon fell asleep as he laid back against a tree,

The darkness covered the area, illuminated by the soft light of the well stoked fire that was burning through the night. Time passed once more as another day began, the warm light of the sun rising in the sky showed a peaceful clearing and the sleeping figure of a young boy next to a fire that had silently died down. The disappearance of Huojin was like a fox in the night, untraceable. Sounds began to slowly fill the enter, waking Moss from his sleep. Yawning, he began to stretch himself, he needed to go to the toilet. Half asleep he quickly fumbled to a spot far out and relieved himself while staring around him, the events of the day before still fresh in his mind. A sudden realisation struck him as he realised that he hadn't seen Huojin when he woke up.

Anxiously getting back to their make shift camp he carefully shouted the name of his friend "Huojin, Huojin, where are you?".

Despite where he looked, Moss couldn't find a trace of the old man anywhere, it was as if he had disappeared. Thinking back to their conversation the night before, he quickly put together the missing pieces of the puzzle: 'he said we would go to the village today, he hasn't…'. Replaying the words that Huojin said to him the other night he had a clear idea where his friend had gone.

"The village!" His shout made a slight commotion in the clearing as he realised that Huojin left without him, he could understand why, after all he was still a young boy despite all that was said. However there was one thing Huojin didn't know and that was that he had passed the Ceremony. Details about the awakening and things relating to tribe was never to be mentioned in front of strangers, this was the unspoken rule that even Moss was aware of.

Quickly gathering himself, he took a deep breath before he decided to go back, only the problem was which way the village was. For the most part of their journey Moss had been unconscious and he had never ventured so far into the wild as he did last night. He wasn't sure which way to go even if he wanted to go back.

After a moment of hesitation, he decided to head backwards following the river. One thing he was clear about was that he had travelled downwards, he remembered waking up next to the flowing water, it wouldn't make sense that Huojin had been struggling with him up the river while he was unconscious.

However little did Moss know, while Huojin did not carry him up the river, due to the location and positioning of where they entered into the body of water, the village was in fact closer in the opposite direction to where he was moving now. The way Moss was heading towards bringing him further and further away from the village.

Walking along the flowing water, Moss could slowly feel that the further he walked the more the surroundings seemed to change. At first it was just the subtle colours of the plants which seemed to change to darker shades however at one point he realised that even the air felt colder.

Glancing at the flowing water he could see this moving more slowly which made him wonder how he had made it this far. A small rumbling sound woke him up from his thoughts, his stomach was growling. Although he was used to being hungry, this didn't mean he never got hungry or didn't feel hunger like normal kids his age.

Stopping for a moment he pressed his hand on his stomach, it was at this point he heard a strange sound. Or it would be better to call it silence, everything had gotten silent, the only noise he could hear was the warbling of some animal, as if sounding the signal to warn of an intruder. No sooner had the thought came to this head when a crunching pain knocked him to the floor.

Struggling against the floor he could feel something heavy trapping him down.

"I got one, Krill, I think we can celebrate later" the boisterous laughter of a stranger could be heard in his ears. But this was also the last thing he heard because not a second later, the pain on his back seemed to become a sudden pressure which made him pass out.