From the Journal of Aframos Longjourney, Pilgrim
With notes by Avos Torr, Scholar of Rheve Library
Tresday, Seventeenth Cycle, Seventh Year, 81st Turn
Thirty-Third Day in the Trees
We met another person today. After two cycles of Torne's chatter, it was good to hear another voice1.
It was midafternoon, and we had stopped for something to eat. It had rained at the time we would have taken our lunch, so we were quite hungry.
I had started a small fire with which to brew some tea, and Torne was making "sandwiches," which are meat placed between pieces of bread. Souja was looking down the road, and she presently made a rather insistant sound.
Torne looked down the road, and said something in another language. I suspect it was a curse. I turned, and saw a stranger walking towards us.
At first, I thought it was a bush walking toward us, but realized that it was someone colored to look like one.
She had a face like a bear's, once she got close enough for me to see, and her hands ended in long claws. Her fur, as I have mentioned, was colored in greens, with a bit of brown or black here and there. The roots were brown. In size, she was between Torne's height and my own.
"My name is Turla," she said, when we asked her. We both moved on the logs we were using as benches. She sat next to Torne, after a moment's thought. It was just as well. The log I was sitting on was very thick around, and I was barely tall enough to sit on it comfortably.
She told us she was a hunter. Over her shoulder she carried a bow, and she had a pack tied around her waist, colored the same as her fur. She had some honey, which Torne spread over toast to go with our sandwiches and tea. We told her who we were, and I told her of my task. She had no advice, but she found it interesting.
She was on a task as well. She was hunting a monster that had killed her husband. It was a wolf, she explained. A talking wolf, and a killer of its own kind as well. The talking wolves had white fur, but this one had turned black2. I asked her about that, if it had dyed its fur, as she had dyed her own, but she shook her head. The wolf had turned black, even its eyes. She did not know why, or how. She had been tracking it for weeks, hoping to catch it before its own kind, so that she would be able to kill it.
Her eyes were almost closed when she said that, and her voice was tight. She held the metal cup she'd brought with her tightly.
Torne changed the subject then, asking what she thought of the weather, or the trees around us, and other small things. Or perhaps not so small. Torne paid close attention to her answers. I sometimes wonder how much of Torne is an act. He is practical enough when he wishes to be. Perhaps the better question is what he hides behind this mask.
After we finished eating, we said our goodbyes, and she took her leave. I hope that she finds justice for her husband, and eventually peace.