Chapter 12

The Caravan was a flurry of color, laughter, and excitement. The moment the first cart parked, the energy shifted. The song they sang changed from light and cheerful, to intense and full of energy. Every able-bodied person was now at work, even the children had their own duties. Each action was fulfilled quickly and precisely, as only those who lived on the road could perform.

Verrine immersed herself with being useful by following a gentle Faun, a Land Born named Vivva. The man was kind enough to take her under his wing, picking boxes with the same destination as her. He said she would get trampled otherwise, as everybody was flitting around at random to a stranger's eye.

The red haired man, whom she learned was named Athelstan, watched her closely, and in return she ignored him. If he did not want her there, he should have said so before the girl invited her. Averil. Her name was Averil. There were so many new names, and so many new faces.

It was fun, she laughed with them and did her best to remember everyone who introduced themselves. They were friendly, much more then she was used to.

Vivva dropped a large box, and she placed her much smaller box next to his. She envied his strength, as well as his fine antlers. They were magnificent, and told that he was of the Cervide tribe. There seemed to also be a few Fauns from a few other tribes roaming about, which excited her. It was rare to see Landborn, which is what they preferred to call themselves, as they were not allowed to live in her city. Landborn rather keep to themselves and in their own territories, her father had told her once.

In fact, it was only her second time seeing a Faun. The defining feature for Faun were their animalistic legs, but they only had two. If they had four they were a centaur, her father would have reminded her. The thought of her father brought an ache to her chest, and a small headache. But, it was easy to swallow back, as she busied herself with following Vivva and getting carried by the music. The song, the energy, the laugher all seemed so distant, yet she was in the middle of it all.

She was an outsider, and it was painfully obvious to her she did not belong.

Dressed as a man, pretending to be what she was not. The only reason she was being treated so fairly, was because she was passing as male.

The ache in her chest grew.

“Thank you for your help.” Vivva’s low voice was a rumble of thunder, but his smile was kind as could be. She smiled back, wincing when someone bumped into her back. His nose seemed to crinkle, and she could notice the concern in his dark eyes grow. The bump probably knocked some of the poultice out of place, and he could smell the torn flesh through the strong herbs.

“I will be ex-excusing myself now, thank you V-Vivva.” She gave him a small bow and escaped before more words could be said.

Her dragon had gotten restless, she now wiggled relentlessly in her pouch. No amount of meat was enough to satisfy it, and it mewled loudly at each bump in her step. It looked as if the duties had been fulfilled, as the campfire grew and people gathered.

As more gathered, she excused herself to the forest, slinking along the shadows to avoid the cynical eye. More than a few were wary of her being among them.

The trees were like dark shadows, limbs raised to the sky. It was eerily beautiful, she noted each detail she could see. The moon, which was supposed to be at its quarter, was covered by thick clouds that spoke of rain. Yet she could still see as if the moon was large and full. Her dog seemed to be having more trouble than she, as he kicked a rock. He sniffled, then padded a bit closer to her from that point.

Even a Goblin would not be so brave to attack outside of such a lively area, she stopped. Not that she ever seen one before, but she heard they sometimes attacked outside their capability due to their little brains.

She sat on the ground, facing the distant light and song. Right now, she had more to fear from the people then the forest. Out of the sack rolled her dragon, wings wide and legs wobbly. It growled softly, before huffing at her and strolling to munch on a small flower. She smiled at it, reaching out to patting her head.

What a day.

So much happened.

“S-sorry.” Her voice seemed out of palace. Different. Rough.

Then she felt the warmth on her cheeks. Was she crying? She touched her cheek, surprised as a tear rolled over her finger tip.

When did she start? She blinked, eyes blurring.

It was okay.

She would be okay.

A salty droplet touched her lip, making her blink when more followed.

She felt nothing, yet the tears continued.

She felt two small paws on her legs, making her look down. Her dragon and her dog, both had a paw on her. Their eyes, earnest and loving, watched her.

She was not alone.

Yes. She had them.

She reached out, placing her quivering hands on their heads.

It seemed she had more tears to cry, and that was okay.

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