The sun was barely up in the sky, and Isaac wasn’t having it. He hated having to forage for mushrooms in the early hours already, but he especially didn’t want to bring John with him at the behest of their mother. She already had a hand full taking care of their even younger siblings – a baby included – so she charged the boys to go out to forage for their meals that day and possibly the next. If he was alone he could at least speed through it but John had to be hand-held with every task. It was so like a younger sibling to do, but Isaac was going to make sure he wouldn’t make things less enjoyable as they already were.
“Where are we going?” John asked, watching his brother divert from the normal route that their mother told them about, instead going toward a
“I’m taking us to a different patch. Dexter told me about it and he said there was way more to find at this one.”
Maybe John would have been more excited if it weren’t so dark, even though the dawn was coming, or maybe he was just being scared at most opportunities for excitement. His unease did not go unnoticed and Isaac was already annoyed.
“Come one! It’s not that far and it’s getting lighter outside!” Isaac scolded.
“It’s just that, I’ve been hearing that some weird stuff has been going on around the woods already. I don’t want to go around that place.”
“Don’t be such a scaredy cat! If you’re going to be like that, then I’ll leave you here for whatever-it-is that’s out here!” He didn’t believe whatever his brother was yapping about. If anything, it was probably a rumor started by his friend Dexter to keep people away from the patch. Not wanting to be left behind, John huffed and followed his brother’s lead.
“Mama’s not going to be happy.”
Isaac blew a raspberry. “Not if she doesn’t find out.” John took his threat with a wavering face.
They walked for over thirty minutes – much more than if they had just gone to the usual place, but Isaac insisted they persisted. John didn’t even know why Isaac wanted to go to this spot. He was the most adventurous of their family – wrangling with the smaller livestock, picking fights with boys who outmatched him, wanting to become a mercenary or a pirate – but sometimes his wayfaring attitude was so unnecessarily rebellious. What was his end goal in this?
It was time to ask if Isaac even knew where they were going. Nothing looked familiar, even in the edging light of the coming sun. Before he could, something in the underbrush snapped, causing both of the boys to jump in surprise.
“Isaac!” John yelped, almost clutching to his brother, who only shrugged him off.
“Calm down! It was probably just a squirrel. Besides, look!” He pointed to the distance, over a rocky knoll – that he was sure Dexter had told him was a sign of the spot – that there was a faint glow. Maybe Dexter had decided to meet them there after all. Isaac darted ahead without a second thought, leaving John to straggle behind.
The boys edged over the knoll, and what they saw was a small clearing with a camp set up. But there was no Dexter in sight. If this wasn’t him, who was here? It was a good excuse to peek around regardless. “Come on, let’s go!” Isaac beckoned. Before he could take a step beyond the threshold, John stopped him.
“I have a bad feeling, Isaac,” he admitted. “What if…?”
“What if what? A monster comes crashing through the woods?” Isaac teased with a mocking face. “You’re so gullible. Besides, I can take on any monster that comes at us.”
Truly, his brother’s bravado was something else.
The camp was simple, implying it was recently established. Bundles and pouches where set neatly in a pile, while assorted clothes – and armor, interestingly – were haphazardly placed. A fire set earlier had been reduced to embers by the early morning and lying beside it in a mass of wool blankets and a fur throw, was a rising and falling mass. The boys stepped closer to further investigate and gasped in unison when their eyes feel upon a sleeping person.
Fast asleep, the only sounds they made were inhales and exhales, of which they were airy like the whispers of angels. Their dark brown hair was cropped short, only a bit longer than the boys, and the skin that was showing was a dusky complexion, one that the boys rarely saw in their small village. And, it was only when the person fidgeted a bit, blankets and throw falling away from their shoulders to reveal a bit of cleavage, did Isaac and John realize that what they were looking at was a woman. She let out a murmur in that moment, interacting in her dreamworld, and the boys couldn’t help noticing the movement of very plush lips. They also noticed that her only bedmate was a very large and thick blade that must have been meant to be a sword, but it was so unusually massive. It laid within reach of her.
There were women in the village, young and old, but this one was like which they’ve never seen and neither boy could hold back a blush.
“She’s so pretty!” John exclaimed first, his eyes dazzling as if seeing a fairy. Suddenly, he flustered at a realization. “And I think she’s naked!” An innocent figure, John regarded this with more embarrassment than what his brother was thinking, who went from a look of astonishment to a look of mischievousness. Looking behind him, he found a thin but lengthy stick. Picking it up, he stepped a bit closer to the sleeping woman.
“What are you doing?” John asked and was greeted by a rather dirty smile from his older brother.
“I wanna see her tits.”
John was a bit confused at his implications. “But you see mama’s when she feeds Sara.”
Isaac rolled his eyes at his young brother’s naivete. “That’s not the same! This - !” he pointed at the woman, “ – is a real woman!”
“But - !”
“You don’t understand yet! So just shut up and let me do this!”
“What if she wakes?” John asked more worriedly, darting his eyes around. Unlike his brother, he saw some clothes that didn’t entirely match up with hers – and there’s no way she could be the one lifting that behemoth of a sword. Also, the snap they heard earlier sounded too big to have come from a squirrel. Something else was out there with them.
“She’s not going to wake,” Isaac insisted. “Shut up!” He eased his way toward her, leaving John steps behind him, and made his first attempt to shift the wools with the stick. He couldn’t so easily with the weight of the fur, so using both his hands, he tried to heave it off. Isaac was slightly successful, the fur throw tumbling behind her, but the tension snapped the tip of the stick – even sending it to scrape against the woman’s cheek, which caused her to lightly frown but not wake – forcing Isaac to step closer to make up for the shortage. But now he was in a much more advantageous viewing spot. Isaac licked his lips with delight, he could already see the silhouette of her mounds. He couldn't wait until he told Dexter and the rest of their posse of his triumph. They'd never have anything as great as this on their shoulders.
This is it, Isaac thought with hard concentration. As steadily as he could, he slipped the stick between the wool and her cleavage. It should have just been a quick pull backward, just like fishing, except he was faltering from the nervousness and anticipation, so he ended up poking too deep and ultimately prodded at her flesh one too many times.
As she roused from sleep, the boys took a step back, Isaac hopping back much further to reach John. Secretly hoping that the rest of her wools would fall away, Isaac was disappointed at her reflex to cover herself, most likely from the early morning chill than out of modesty. They did however notice that she clutched the wools closer to her when her vision became more focused and saw the two in front of her.
At first, the two parties stared at each other, not sure what to make of it. What should they do? Explain why they were there? Pretend that they were lost? Isaac thought on the last one, as it might engage the woman’s sympathy and persuade her to invite two lost and cold boys underneath her sheets. John continued to bite his fingers.
The woman stared at them, with eyes revealed to be a deep pool of glistening brown so dark they were black. First she displayed a frown of confusion (she had just awoke after all) but after a second not only did her eyes look beyond the boys but her expression turned into that of uneasiness.
Being more perceptive for his young age, John knew something was wrong before Isaac, turning around and freezing instantly. He couldn’t even let out a peep with his tongue before clutching his brother’s arm very tightly. To that, Isaac retorted annoyed as usual, “What’s your prob - ?!”
When he finally turned around, he was met with the same sight as his much smaller brother: a bear of a man was towering over them, but he was silent like a panther, so much so that they didn’t even notice him approaching from behind. He was so tall his head seemed to touch the forest canopy, and they could only catch the glint from his eyes, which were not as inviting like the darkness of the woman’s eyes.
The man did not wear a frown or a scowl – just a look so void of emotion it was threatening.
And he too was naked, showing off the network of muscles and sinew that made up his torso and… other regions.
If Isaac wasn’t scared shitless, blood drained from his face, he’d remark how he wanted to look like this when he grew up. But something told him this man wasn’t going to let that happen.
But instead of making another move, the man released six words – only six words and nothing more, as they were spoken with such grievousness, he needn’t speak beyond that.
“If you aren’t lost, get lost.”
John, young and naive as he was, had the sense to run as soon as the last syllable left the man’s mouth. His older brother, on the other hand, was frozen in place, befuddled and bemused, but he only had to take one last look at the man’s face, which was now set in a glare, to make him follow behind his brother.
It might have taken them over thirty minutes to stumble upon that camp, but it took them much short to get them back to their starting point. It was a surprise that they did not get lost and separated along the way. Once they had reconvened, the two boys nearly collapsed trying to catch their breath. As soon as he was able to, Isaac flustered and grumbled in distress.
Who was that guy? And where did he come from? And most disappointing to him, I didn’t even get to see her tits.
He didn’t need any more upsets in the day, until John looked at him and exclaimed, “Isaac – your breeches!”
He looked down at himself and noticed that they were so caught in the moment of being stalked by that beast of man and running from him that he had wet himself.
Mama was not going to be happy at all.
Casting a look aside to watch the miscreants run off into the woods, Guts released an annoyed sigh and ruffled his bangs.
I step away for two seconds to take a piss and this happens. Woman has some sort of pervert-beacon – and they’re coming younger too, Guts thought. He stared back at Casca, who was now more aware and awake, had her knees folded under her blanket, her chin propped by her palm as she stared back at Guts with an annoyed but also amused expression.
Guts changed his countenance to match her mood, and with a stern brow he said, “I can’t believe you want us to have some of those shit weasels.”
Casca scoffed but smiled, “I don’t won’t those shit weasels.”