On the Trail

Dante stepped into the sunlight, emerging from the cave that concealed the entrance to the enclave of humans that did their best to shelter themselves from the dangers that now prowled the land. He was familiar with the area surrounding the cave from his hunting and scavenging for those that remained afraid underground. The needs inside the enclave had grown as the populations had increased and he had been their most reliable. That changed when Kale disappeared.
Kale had started to come out with him to the ruins despite the fear and disapproval from her family. They had designs for her future that involved the stable life of a merchant’s wife. She escaped into the wilds following Dante and found freedom and renewal feeding something inside her. Dante had seen the wilds leave its mark. Kale She craved the living air in her lungs and savored it when she was free.
Dante studied the leaves that scattered the ground, finding the outline of Kale’s moccasins. It had been concealed well, like he had taught her but not fully erased. She had set off for the Northern Ruins, a former city that nature had begun to reclaim. Shells of buildings that used to contain men and women, and who lived without fear of being in the sun or under the light of the moon. The ruins had become a favored place to find game that brought a high price in the food markets or traded to the merchant houses for supplies.
Kale’s trail ended on the bank of the river, its murky waters swirled. The raft that usually was tied to a tree on the bank was gone. Another sign that Kale had passed in that direction. Dante removed his clothes and put them in a waterproof bag he had crafted before lowering himself into the cold water. Debris floated on the current past him as he quietly kicked himself across. He found the raft tied where he expected, concealed from view in a small grove of waterborne trees that had spreading leaves that caught sunlight and spray. He emerged from the water and allowed himself to dry in the warm sun before donning his clothes.
Dante found Kale’s trail again and followed to the Northern Ruins unsure of what he will find.

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