Carpathia III: Episode 7 - Twisted Forest

Twisted Forest

Kaoru walked for days through the seemingly endless forest. When he first landed in a treetop after his terrifying trip through the inky blackness of the wormhole, he first tried his galaphone, but found that he could not get any signal. After that, for many hours, he remained where he was, hoping that he would easily be found if he didn't venture far.

When the possibility for rescue seemed more and more remote and he grew more and more hungry and thirsty, he set out, knowing not where he was going. The trees were nothing like anything he had ever seen before. Many of them were twisted into grotesque shapes, some had trunks that resembled giant turnips, and all the rest were like no trees he knew of. Further reinforcing his fear that he was on no planet he knew of was the orange soil and stifling heat that felt as though it was roasting him from inside out.

The hungrier and thirstier he grew, the more he began to panic. He had no idea how long it would be before he found food or water. Food, perhaps, wasn't going to be too much trouble as many of the trees had what appeared to be fruit hanging from them. However, he had no idea if they'd be safe to eat. Eventually, he began to feel weak and plucked the most inviting fruit he could find from a tree. It was hard and red, like an apple and about the same size, but fuzzy, like a kiwi. Kaoru took out his pocketknife and cut into the hard flesh of the fruit, revealing the juicy, red innards. He took a long sniff and it smelled sweet and succulent. Everything about it seemed to be inviting to be eaten, so he took a bite, and was pleased to discover that it tasted as good as it smelled.

As he ate, he noticed a large claw mark on the tree. It was one clearly made by a large animal, the idea of which frightened him. However, he also noticed a clear liquid dribbling from the deepest gouge. He caught a drop on his finger and tasted that too. It seemed to be water. Again, he took his pocketknife and cut deeper into the hole and felt the wood give way to a chamber within. Water poured from it in a trickle. He set the fruit aside and cupped his hand, catching as much of the water as possible and drank. He was gratified that his immediate needs, hunger and thirst, could be easily sated in the forest, but the savage claw mark on the tree was enough to tell him that there were creatures in the forest he had not yet encountered.

He couldn't count the days he walked through the forest. The days seemed far longer than any on New Berengaria, so he slept whenever he was tired. As he hiked, he occasionally caught glimpses of large animals and heard scurrying in the underbrush, so he would always find a large tree with thick branches to climb and sleep in. His naps were never very restful, for they often happened during the abnormally long daytime and high up in a tree. Wary that he might inadvertently roll off a branch and plummet to the ground, he never allowed himself to sleep deeply.

During his waking hours, he continued wandering through the forest, picking fruit off the trees and drinking the water stored in their trunks. He used to call his friends' names once in awhile, but after one such shout caused a very large, bear-like animal to reveal itself and flee, he thought the better of loudly announcing his location. Eventually, he became aware of a low roar somewhere out in the distance. The longer he walked, the louder the roar became and the more he understood that what he was hearing was a waterfall.

Where there was a waterfall, there was water, came the obvious reasoning, so he plodded resolutely forward towards the sound. He hoped, if he didn't find any civilization, that he would at least be able to scope out the landscape a little, for he had seen nothing but trees and patches of orange sky through the canopy for days. He grew more and more excited as the roar became louder.

Suddenly, he heard a loud *crack* and an instant later it felt as though someone kicked him in the leg. He fell to the ground, writhing in pain.

Kaoru: AAAAAAAA!!!

He looked at his thigh, horrified to find blood pouring from a gaping wound. At the same time, he was also aware of the sound of footsteps hurriedly running towards him.

Female Voice: Oh no! I'm so sorry!

It was a small relief that he heard the voice, suggesting that it wasn't some savage animal with some kind of bizarre projectile defense mechanism. At least he was no longer worried how he was going to run away. He squeezed his thigh, hoping to stem the bleeding, but it did not help much and so he started looking around for something he could use for a bandage.

Just then, a young woman appeared, carrying a large, old-fashioned rifle. He was most surprised about her ears, which were very long and pointed at the ends.

Young Woman: Oh, I'm so sorry! I thought you were an animal!

The young woman pulled a towel from her bag and began wrapping it around Kaoru's wound. He grunted in pain as she pulled it tight and tied it.

Young boy: Hey, Quilyon! What did you do this time?

The young woman looked up at the boy, who Kaoru now saw was sitting in a tree, and motioned for him to come come down. The boy, who appeared to be about 10 or 11 years old, had ears like the young woman and a similar face, but there were few similarities besides that.

Quilyon: Reuli, get down here and help me!

The boy leaped dexterously from the tree and alighted surprisingly gently onto the ground.

Reuli: You shot a person this time. Mom and Dad are gonna be mad.

The young woman ignored the boy and looked at Kaoru.

Quilyon: Don't worry, my place isn't far from here and Mom and Dad can get you fixed up. What's your name?

Kaoru did his best to speak through the pain and his clenched teeth.

Kaoru: Kaoru.

Quilyon: I'm Quilyon, and this is my kid brother, Reuli. We're going to help you stand up so we can take you to my house. Do you think you can do that?

Kaoru: Yeah, I guess so.

Quilyon: Reuli, you hold his leg while I help him up.

Reuli: Okies.

Reuli grabbed onto Kaoru's ankle and steadied it as Quilyon slipped her arms under Kaoru's arms and lifted him up onto his good leg.

Together, with Quilyon partially supporting Kaoru's weight, they slowly made their way through the forest towards their house near the falls.

To be continued...

Commissioned art in this episode from:

All city pictures from SimCity 4
Waterfall image from SimCity 4 and modified by Jporter

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