Don't Eat The Foliage - Part Eight
"She's been contacted."
"Excellent work. When will she arrive?"
"That is still unknown. Right now her situation is very serious. She has said she'll try her best to get here. Given the information you had me pass to her she is more than willing to return and take up her role as has been expected of her since she was born."
"And she knows these are the true three?"
"Yes. That I was definite about."
"Things are changing quickly, One-eye. I feel great torment in the coming days."
"So soon? We haven't even begun to show them-"
"We are not as much apart of this as we at first thought. Our job in these three lives is merely to act as a stepping stone. We've introduced them to this world. Now it will be up to them to take the journey that is ahead of them."
"There's no way they can survive without training and knowledge."
"Perhaps it is that very lack of training and knowledge that will ultimately lead them to victory. We've been fighting this war with all the knowledge of the known world and where has it gotten us? Those three are untainted in this world. They share knowledge and experiences we cannot begin to fathom. This new look at an old problem will be their greatest advantage..."
"But what, Adara?"
"It will also be their greatest weakness."
The walk home was uneventful enough. Brand, absolutely dying with hungry, started plucking leaves off any old plant he passed by. It was almost as if his stomach finally took control of his body and forced him to eat anything it could grab. As it was, the foliage he'd chewed down wasn't nearly as bad as he'd expected. Megan just shook her head.
Once back at the camp, they were half expecting to see Buba waiting with agonizingly bated breath. He was nowhere to be seen though. One-eye was there, however, with a wink and a smile. "Welcome back," he said cheerfully. "How was your walk?"
Megan returned the smile before replying, "It was nice, very nice. I hope we didn't cause any trouble taking off like that." "Not at all, not at all. Everyone is free to come and go as they wish. Though, I do wish you'd told someone before you left. There are some things you should know before venturing out in a strange land such as this." One-eye followed along at Megan's side as they moved toward their tent.
"We didn't run into any trouble this time."
"This is good to hear. I'm glad you've both returned safely. The biggest thing you have to worry about out there right now is the one simple rule we all teach our children when they are old enough to venture forth."
Megan tried to imagine the children of One-eye the midget Santa Claus. She was barely able to contain a laugh. "What rule is that?"
"Don't eat the foliage."
And, as if on cue, at that very moment Brand fell to his knees. He bent forward, arms pressing tightly into his stomach. A groan that sounded like a cross between a cat in heat and a man being impaled by a bull's horn screeched out from between his lips.
Megan and One-eye were both down in the dirt next to Brand in a flash. "Let me guess," One-eye murmured faintly.
The reply wasn't needed and Megan knew it. She tried to push Brand down to his side, to roll him onto his back but he was practically frozen. One-eye then attempted the same thing and to Megan's unbelieving eyes, he did it rather easily. One-eye was pretty strong for such a small, round man.
Again Megan looked toward the tent as she saw movement. This time she was expecting to see Buba rushing out in a panic at the pathetic sound Brand had made. But, again, it wasn't Buba. Adara was stepping out of the tent. Her hood was down and the look of concern on her face was all too readable. She started toward Megan and the others.
Megan found it somewhat touching that a complete stranger with, at least in her mind, the weight of the world on her shoulders would care so deeply for people she didn't know. Yet, here she was coming to help aid in whatever could be ailing the fallen Brand. Why had she been in their tent, though? And revealed no less. Megan still couldn't figure out what the deal with the hood was.
The shadow cast by Adara reached them quicker than Adara did. It passed One-eye, then Megan, and then finally Brand; at last, Adara came to a stop and knelt down next to Brand. "What has happened?" she asked. Her voice dripped with authority Megan had never heard before. The concerned look was still on her face, but it appeared more distant. Where was Buba during all this? Megan wondered briefly if Adara's concern was about something else before this had happened. She cleared her head with a shake and returned her attention to the situation at hand.
"Brand ate some of the leaves out in the woods," One-eye stated.
"That was not wise." Score one for team obvious.
Meanwhile, team clueless started to shiver on the ground. Brand's skin had gone from its normal light tan to a sickly, pale green in a matter of minutes. Sweat was pouring off his head now as his body shivered, then fell still, then shivered again. Megan started to reach out to take Brand's hand, but Adara shook her head. "Don't touch him."
That was when Megan realized nobody was touching him. But hadn't One-eye just rolled him over? She did touch Brand, then, as well. "We've both touched him already. What do you mean, don't touch him?"
"It's no longer safe. His skin color is warning you that his body is full of toxins right now. The sweat is his body trying to release those toxins. One touch could be fatal." Adara got to her feet and surprise, surprise her robe didn't have a spec of dirt on it.
"Don't tell me that then leave!" Megan blurted. She jumped to her feet. Helpless and confused, she was starting to feel a bit light-headed. "Tell me what is going on dammit!"
"One-eye, take Megan to my tent."
"What? No. What're you going to do with Brand? What-"
"Come along, dear." One-eye winked at her. It was unnerving, to say the least, to be winked at during a time like this. Not to mention he'd just cut her off.
She frowned sharply at One-eye and her brow knitted with tension. But before she could say or do anything, One-eye had her hand and was leading her with that surprising strength he displayed earlier. "Trust me, Megan. Once they get him settled, you'll be able to see him. For now, though, you shouldn't be here. They need to... get as much of the toxins out of him as they can and it is not a pretty sight."
With all her might, she kept trying to look back over the heads of the people that started to gather around Brand and Adara, but it was no use. There were too many people and she was being pulled in the opposite direction. The resistance Megan had been building up just let go. She staggered for a moment as she lost her balance but quickly recomposed herself. Or so she thought. She didn't realize that at that very moment she stepped on a half eaten chocolate bar just sitting there on the ground, enjoying the sun while its previous owner was nowhere to be found.To be continued...