Allyandrah and Kru’Nah: Part 16

Read Part 1
Read Part 15


 

***Acceptance***

213: Your character is trying to get their friend to accept something.

The days passed slowly as Allyandrah and Grandfather made their way south.

One of the nights, they sat around the fire, grasping their mugs of tea.

“We need more food,” Grandfather said. “We must find something.”

“I know,” Allyandrah said. “We will have to risk traveling at night to see if we can find something.”

“I cannot see at night,” Grandfather said. “And we will never know if we are going south if we don’t have the sun to go by.”

Allyandrah pressed her lips together.

“Then how do we get food?”

Grandfather shook his head.

We do not,” he said, shaking his head. “You can get twice as far on your own.”

Allyandrah shook her head. “I’m not leaving you behind.”

The wind whistled through the trees. Even though she didn’t feel it, she shuddered.

“There is no other way, my dear,” he said.

“No,” Allyandrah said resolutely. “No. I’ve only just found you. How can I let you go?”

“You must. You absolutely must,” he insisted.

“I can’t!” Allyandrah cried. “You must make it home. You must meet Kru’Nah.”

“I have met the dear boy and against everything he ought to have done, he let me go. That tells me as much as I need to know about him. I know that he will be a good ruler to the people.”

“That’s not enough,” Allyandrah insisted. “There’s so much more you need to know. There’s so much he needs to know from you.”

“Sometimes, my love, things don’t work out as you planned.”

“Maybe your life didn’t, but you don’t give up.”

“My love—”

“No! Don’t call me that,” Allyandrah said, bursting into tears. Sasha bounded in from who knows where to lick her face. Allyandrah pushed her away. “Don’t call me that if you’re just going to give up.”

Grandfather sat quietly, staring into the small flame of the fire.

Emotions roiled around inside Allyandrah. She felt hurt, betrayed, terrified, a number of other things she couldn’t put a name to. How could he even dare to suggest that she leave him behind?

“I’m going to take Sasha and find some food,” Allyandrah said. “Don’t you dare leave.” She pushed herself up and climbed out of the den under the tree. She bent down and peered under. “Don’t you dare die either. I will be back by sunrise.”

Grandfather nodded.

“Sasha, let’s go,” Allyandrah said. She didn’t know if the wollo knew how to hunt or not. She didn’t know if she could really communicate what she wanted. She could only hope that Sasha’s hunger was great enough to try to find something.

Allyandrah knelt in the snow. Sasha came right up to her, licking her face.

“Sasha, we need to eat. We need food.” Allyandrah brought her mittened hand to her mouth as though she was eating. “I need you to hunt. To find food. Sniff it out. Find me something.”

Sasha whined and licked her again, sitting in the snow.

Allyandrah sighed and stood. The moon was out. No clouds could be seen. The light barely filtered down into the trees. It was dangerous to be out here, but it would be worse if she couldn’t find something for them to eat. The only thing they’d be able to find would be meat and even that would be very difficult. Sasha sat, staring at her. Allyandrah shook her head. That wollo clearly didn’t understand her.

Allyandrah turned a slow circle. Her footprints would easily lead her back to Grandfather, so she chose a direction away from their camp. The further they walked, the more Sasha sniffed the ground.

“Maybe she does understand,” Allyandrah whispered. She didn’t want to hope too much, but this wollo was their only chance to find food. She wouldn’t be able to do it herself. She needed Sasha to do the work.

Just as Allyandrah decided it was time to turn back, Sasha began to dig in the snow. She’d sniff a bit, then dig some more.

Allyandrah walked to same spot and helped dig. Her mitten struck something hard and she gasped. Sasha dug even harder through the ice-layered snow. Eventually, they dug up a frozen bird.

Allyandrah squealed in delight and hugged Sasha. “You did it!” she said. Sasha jumped and barked, her tail wagging.

“We gotta get back,” Allyandrah said. They followed their footsteps back. Sasha managed to find two more small dead animals buried in the snow.

“You’ll save us yet,” Allyandrah said.

The sky was just starting to lighten when they finally made it back to the tree. Grandfather lay under the tree, snoring softly.

“We’ll rest and eat today,” Allyandrah said. “Then, tomorrow, we go again.”

She built up the fire, yawning the entire time. She pulled the sharp knife from her side and tried to cut into the small, frozen carcasses. She struggled for a minute or two before giving up.

“I don’t want to wreck them,” she mumbled. She tossed the one she’d tried to cut to Sasha, who grabbed it and immediately worked on the frozen block with her sharp teeth. Allyandrah strung the other two up over the fire so they could begin to thaw. “Just a little thawed,” she said.

Grandfather began to wake as she waited. Her eyes drooped and her head nodded.

“Find something?” he asked.

“Sasha did,” Allyandrah said. “It’s decided. You go on with me. We’ll eat this and rest today, and then tomorrow we push on.”

Grandfather nodded. “How can I refuse you?”

Allyandrah smiled at him.

“I’ll tend the food,” he said. “You sleep.”

Too tired to argue, Allyandrah lay down and immediately slept.

It seemed like just a minute later when he woke her.

“The food is ready.”

Groggily she pushed herself up to sitting. She blinked slowly several times. The sun shone from high in the sky, but it provided no warmth. Grandfather pushed a mug of hot tea into her hands, which she drank gratefully. He then handed her a tiny little body.

“You can eat the whole thing,” he said. “We need all the little bits we can get to eat.”

She nodded and bit into it. The bones crunched in her mouth. She couldn’t remember ever tasting anything so good in her whole life. In just a few bites it was gone. He held out his hand for her mug.

“Drink more,” he said. “It will help you not feel quite so hungry now.”

He filled the mug with snow and some pine needles and set it on the fire to melt. When it was ready, he handed it back and she drank it all in one gulp.

“I should hunt again,” she said. “If we go during the day, maybe we can find something else.”

Grandfather nodded. “Anything we can get will be helpful.”

“Sasha!” Allyandrah called. The wollo bounded over to her. “We need more food.”

Sasha ran off and Allyandrah ran to follow, though she quickly fell behind. Following the footprints, Allyandrah kept up a slow, steady jog. When she caught up, Sasha was digging in the snow. A large rabbit was half-eaten and frozen solid, but Allyandrah took it anyway.

Sasha took off again and Allyandrah followed. When she caught up again, Sasha was chewing the last bits of something. Allyandrah shook her head, laughing.

“Sneaking a bite, are you?”

Sasha wagged her tail.

“Okay, back to camp,” Allyandrah said. “We can make a stew from this.”

When she arrived back at the tree, the sun was just kissing the horizon.

“We have stew meat!” Allyandrah announced. Grandfather cheered.

“Back to sleep with you,” he said. “I’ll take care of preparing the food since you’re the one working to get it.”

“I can’t fight that,” she said.

“If we can find food like this every few days,” he said, “we can continue. We haven’t touched our rations at all today, which buys us one more day of eating while we travel.”

“I think Sasha knows what I want from her,” Allyandrah said. “She’ll be able to find us food, as long as the sneak don’t eat it all herself if I don’t get there fast enough.” She mock glared at Sasha, already curled up and sleeping, as she told him about catching Sasha eating her find immediately.

Grandfather roared in laughter. “I think she can have it.”

“Sneak,” Allyandrah muttered as she lay down.

When Grandfather woke her again, it was dark. The fire flickered.

They ate quickly and silently.

“Back to sleep with both of us before this food wakes us up,” Grandfather said. “We have to go far tomorrow.”

Allyandrah nodded and yawned wide. She was ready for a long stretch of sleep.

Grandfather hummed his tune and Allyandrah drifted to sleep fast.

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