A first encounter

The girl stood cold in the rain, two rabbits dangling from the twine twixt her fingers. The boy had fire but hadn’t eaten in days – she’d watched him closely. This could be mutually beneficial. But what if he took her back to that place? What if he was dangerous? Her stomach growled in response. It was a risk she’d have to take.

She stepped forward from the treeline, allowing the muted glow of the fire to wash over her. Slowly stepping forth, she rose the hand that held the rabbits to make her offer: food for fire. The boy – was he a boy? His hair looked white, like an old person’s – lifted his eyes. His long fingers were already resting on the hilt of his dagger. She gulped but continued her slow approach.

Once she reached the dry edge of the cave, she raised her left hand to signal that she meant no harm. She had no weapons anyway, having abandoned everything at the outcrop; but he didn’t know that. Still she approached, until she reached the edge of the fire. There she stopped, fully extending her right arm to offer up the rabbits. The heat felt so good on her skin she knew she’d cry if he turned her away; or worse yet, die. Their eyes were locked, unblinking, in an intense gaze meant to size up the other person.

His eyes were large with heavy lids and silvery blue Irises. His cheeks, gaunt from hunger, only served to enhance the wildness of the look. Most of him was covered in that tattered blanket she’d seen him with, but she already knew that his figure and frame would not be of too much threat to her at this point. He was too weak. Being armed, however, could easily give him an advantage. The dagger he had was in hand, she could assume the sword was nearby. It was essential she not threaten him and make it obvious that she intended no foul play. She couldn’t be sure that her rain-soaked, shivering body would have the strength or energy to dodge an attack.

She had eyes the color of a dark stormy sky and a look just as threatening. She was thin – probably as hungry as he was – and appeared to have no equipment on her at all, not even shoes. He tried not to imagine the taste and smell of those rabbits as he searched her features. The shape of her eyes and unique coloring of her skin gave her an exotic look, but he would guess she was only a few years younger than himself. Only a child – but children could be dangerous, if underestimated. Around one ankle was an iron clasp and the skin underneath looked bloody and raw. Escaped, he figured; but from where? She was the only one he’d heard in these woods, aside from the two idiots he’d encountered a few days ago. All in all he summed her up as a ferocious spirit but, like himself, a weak and starving body. He made up his mind.

The boy’s eyes flicked to the rock next to him, an offer to sit. She heaved a sigh of relief, quickly rounded the fire, sat, and began untying the rabbits to make their meal.

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