Through the Woods Pt. 2

The walk to the next town was long. It wasn’t even mid-day and it felt like little progress had been made. Anika wasn’t wearing shoes even remotely good for long walks and even if she was, her small strides slowed Kanin down to a crawl. He was fine with walking slowly though, it gave him more awareness of what was happening around him. This way he could see anyone coming from a fair distance away. These thugs coming after them lack any principle or seemingly much of their brains. Impatient and ready to jump before knowing their situation, Kanin figured if they were hiding behind a tree he’d see them poking their heads out like children playing hide and seek.

“I’m tired, can we take a break…” Anika whined.

“Yeah, we can stop for lunch.” Kanin said, and unclipped that pack. Fishing out four strips of what looked like dried meat and handing two over to Anika, a befuddled look was her only response as he took them. “It’s pemmican, it's like jerky, have you ever had jerky before?” he asked her. Anika shook her head no.

“What is jerky?” she asked, sniffing at it.

“Jerky is dried meat. Pemmican has meat, some fat, some berries and a touch of honey for some sweetness, all dried into travel food.” Kanin explained taking a bite.

Anika just stared at it and then at Kanin who was eating his, ready to refuse to eat such a strange thing. That was until her tummy growled and she relented without making a complaint. She didn’t like it, but all in all it wasn’t as bad as she thought, certainly not bad enough to spit out or whine about.

After swallowing the bite she took Anika asked Kanin a rather notable question, “If you are a rabbit why are you eating meat and not a salad?”

“I’m more human than rabbit.” Kanin said, “I’ve got the ears and my legs are very strong but as far as I know my insides are just like any other humans. I can eat pretty much anything most people can.” he explained.

“Were you cursed to have those ears like a prince in a story book?” she asked. “I had a story read to me once where a rude prince got turned into an ass…or donkey… for being rude to a witch.” Anika said. “Were you rude to a witch?”

“Lots of questions.” Kanin said. “No, I wasn't cured by a witch to have these ears, my mom had them, her parents had them, I have them.” Kanin told Anika.

“One more question.” Anika said, “Why did you save me?” she asked.

“You were in danger, simple as that.” He replied. “Ready to get going?” He asked.

“I guess.” Anika said, standing up again.

The two walked for a few more hours before rounding a bend, and a mansion on a hill came into view. “That’s it!” Anika shouted, nearly making Kanin jump out of his skin with the sudden noise.

“What’s it?” he asked, looking around, seeing Anika pointing at the house. “What about it?”

“That’s my uncle's house.” she told Kanin, “But…we’re still kind of far away and it’s getting dark…” she sulked a bit. “I don’t want to sleep on the ground again.”

Kanin looked at the broken hearted girl. “Fine… want to speed this up?” he asked, crouching. “Climb on my back, but keep your head pressed as low as you can. Don’t want a branch hurting you.” he said, once she was on Kanin took a running start and to leap through the woods. Arriving in no time to the grounds of the manor on the hill.

“I’ve brought the lord of the house’s niece. We need to speak to him.” Kanin said, seeing a guard approach.

The guard looked Kanin up and down, squinting, giving Kanin an unpleasant feeling but he shook it off. “Wait here…” the man said, leaving Kanin and Anika with two other guards. Eventually the lead guard returned. “Follow me,” he said.

Kanin and Anika followed the guard into the foyer. “Don’t touch anything.” the man said before leaving the two alone in the entrance hall.

The pair stood there for a few minutes before a tall man with long hair descended the stairs. Once he reached the bottom he called out to Anika and he knelt holding his arms outstretched, Anika ran and hugged her uncle. “Anika sweety what are you doing here? Where are your parents? Who is this man with you?” he barraged the young girl with questions, as little hiccup laced sobs came muffled from his chest.

“Someone killed them.” she whimpered, “They came at dinner and killed them, I ran, and this man saved me from them.” As he comforted his niece, the man looked up at Kanin.

“Did he now…” the uncle said, locking eyes with Kanin. Giving Kanin pause. “Well it’s a good thing he was there then wasn’t it?” the man smiled, but Kanin didn’t see the smile reach the uncle's eyes.

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