When the sun rose on the third day of his trip, Sword welcomed it. While he’d slept better that night in the bed he’d made in the tree, he’d been awakened endlessly. By the sounds he’d heard all night long. He had no idea what they were. He didn’t know they were normal sounds of night life in the forest.Birds, crickets, frogs, chipmunks, squirrels. The sounds they make were all there. All night long. Sword would drift off to sleep, and then wake up with a start to a strange sound. The sound of a screech-owl. The sound of a wolf howling. The sound of a woodpecker hammering against a tree. The list went on and on.
Sword was so tired. This journey was tougher than he’d ever expected it to be. But he remained determined to make the journey on his own, without help from the Dragons, or from Mystica.
He helped himself to some of the dried fish and seaweed in his provisions. And noticed he’d run out of both. He sighed. His journey had just gotten a bit harder. He knew finding water wasn’t going to be a problem. He’d learned that the previous day. But, he wasn’t at all sure about finding food. He had no practical experience in finding food on land. He had to take some time that morning, and figure out what to do.
He remembered his lessons with Oceana. She’d shown him pictures of things on land he could eat. He’d learned their names. Blue berries. Strawberries. Back berries. Raspberries. Apples. Grapes. Carrots. Potatoes. Peanuts. All kinds of fruit and vegetables from plants. He also knew he could find meat from birds, squirrels, rabbits, and other small animals. But he didn’t want to hunt animals unless he had to.
He continued his journey through the tree tops. Until he heard noises. People working, talking, singing, laughing. He became very cautious. Oceana had told him to do his best to avoid towns and villages. To remain hidden in the trees, and quietly move around them. So, he quietly moved from tree to tree, until he came to a clearing. He could see several small houses. A well. Some horses and cattle. A barn. And crops.
He watched the people of the settlement go about their daily lives. Working in their crops. Farming. He knew what that was. In his home, they farmed all kinds of sea weed. Kelp was especially good. It grew well, and was nutritious.
After a good hour, Sword resumed his journey. He moved back from the clearing, then went from tree to tree, around the clearing. He was careful to stay hidden high up in the trees. He’d been taught that humans don’t look up in the trees to see if there’s something there.
It took him a half an hour to work his way around the village. Then, he resumed his journey. And that’s when things changed for him.
He heard a scream. It wasn’t far away, so he decided to move as quickly as he could, to investigate. He wanted to know who had screamed and why. As he moved through the treetops, toward the scream, he heard a second scream. Then a third. And he heard something lout. It roared. It growled.
Suddenly, he’d found the scream. It was a human woman. Screaming for help. She was running through the forest as quickly as she could. Ziging and Zaging through the trees. Something big, and dark brown was following her. Gaining on her. Scream saw it was a bear. And he saw it would catch her soon. And then, it would kill her.
There was nothing else he could do. He took to the air, leaving the trees, and using his wings to dive at the bear. As he approached, he watched as the bear swung a big front paw, claws and all, at the woman. He heard her scream. He saw he fall. He saw the claws had torn through her clothing, through her skin. She was injured.
He took his arms, and extended them as he dove at the bear. Before he ever reached it, the wild magic that was his extended invisible swords before him. Those swords penetrated the back of the bear. And ran clean through it as the momentum his dive drove those swords deep into the bear, penetrating 3 feet before his hands struck the bear on the back.
The bear howled in pain. Sword withdrew his swords, and then he swung both arms, his invisible swords cut deeply into the bear’s neck. The bear sagged. Then fell. Sword knew it would die soon from the wounds he’d inflicted on it. He turned to face the woman. She had pulled herself into a seated position and was watching him. Sword asked her, “Are you OK.”
The woman was silent. She looked absolutely terrified. Sword heard voices approaching. He knew some of the villages had heard the woman’s screams. He couldn’t wait for them to get there, so he flexed his young wings, and took back to the trees. Moving quickly from tree to tree, putting the woman, the bear carcass, and the village behind him.
That afternoon, he searched, and found blue berries, and raspberries to eat. He drank all the water he wanted from a forest stream. He rinsed himself off again in the water. And he made another nest in a tree.
And then he went to sleep. Knowing he’d done something good that day. He’d saved a human’s life.
That night, he dreamed once more, of sitting by the lake. Holding Rose’s hand.