Flowering. Approach. Part 6: What was left behind?
Where can these traces be traced back to?
Reader discretion is advised: This series contains death, violence, and sexual content. Flowering is not a lighthearted series. Flowering is meant for a mature audience. It is not my intention to mislead those who read it, thus misleading the perception of the series itself, leading your hearts astray.
Please, "take this lesson to heart." - LaRha and Wetah
Patting a small pocket on herself, she felt to make sure that she had some form of weapon on her just in case. For her, she always prioritized keeping an attacker away at best. However, she didn’t have a fire hardened wood spear on hand as of right now, so her stone knives and arrowheads would have to do. First she held onto Zephyr’s hand, but as he tried to pick up speed, she let go, and just followed him closely behind as to not strain her back, nor deplete herself of excess energy. If she was going to fight, she would need to have her muscles warmed up, and not strained. Even though Zephyr’s pace may have seemed slow to her, she always knew how to make a light activity more strenuous for her, so she could get the most work out of her muscles as much as possible. Knowing that the leaf tunnel wasn’t too far away, she knew she had to prepare herself as fast as possible.
Though they may have been running through the forest’s foliage with leaves and twigs strewn everywhere, they remained quieter than a deer prancing through the woods. Remembering to breathe efficiently without making noise, Zephyr led the way without fault or fumble, and remained quiet upon making it to the leaf tunnel.
Having her head on a swivel, LaRha looked around everywhere for any signs of movement, let alone any figures potentially trying to hide from their sights. With eyes sharper than a mountain lion’s, she peered through the bark and branches, coming up with scenarios about how she would act if she were a random person, let alone a hunter.
Feeling a tug on her clothing, she looked down, seeing her son pointing in the direction of where he saw the woman standing. The air was empty, but she tried to imagine who he saw standing in front of him. As he stepped away with his legs bowed, walking on the tips of his toes, she followed him, mimicking his style.
Upon reaching a certain spot, Zephyr stood still. He looked up at his Mom, and back down to the ground, and started to move. First he walked towards her as if he was hitting his chest, but he was stopping himself just a few moments before he was making any sound. Then he acted as if he was shocked and frightened, as if he saw something out of the corner of his eye. Quickly catching on, LaRha realized that he was doing a reenactment of himself. Knowing her son, she knew that he’d get it down perfectly.
Dropping down onto the forest floor, albeit slower than when he originally did so to avoid making noise, he proceeded to act as if he was scooping stuff back into his imaginary basket trap. Then, he stopped. Something was off, but he knew what it was as soon as he reached for it. Tugging on his Mom’s hand, she looked down at him.
Signifying that he wanted to whisper something to her, she brought her ear closer to him. Trying to blend in with the white noise of the forest, he whispered “The apple’s gone.”
Her eyes widened at those words. She was shaken for a moment, but more internally than anything. Leaning down, she whispered to him, “What do you mean?”
“There was an apple in my pocket that I forgot to use as bait. When I got scared and dropped my basket, the apple popped out of my pocket. It was a really red one too.” She paused and looked at him, scanned the ground, and he yanked her ear back towards his mouth, “It was lying right there,” he pointed to a spot in the ground where the leaves had made a small circle around where the apple supposedly landed.
Standing up and observing the area around them, she took note of all the little changes that he pointed out from his reenactment. Bending down, she whispered to him, “Can you show me where she was standing?” Nodding, he almost started to walk off, but LaRha put her hand on his chest, stopping him. Reaching into her pocket, she tossed two rocks onto the ground. Then, putting Zephyr behind her, she inched forward to pick up the rocks.
Zephyr moved from behind her and started tapping the forest floor in front of them with a stick that he had picked up from the ground. He was hoping that this would speed up the process of his mom tossing the rocks on the ground. However, it just gave LaRha an idea. Taking the stick out of his hand, and finding another one of similar length, she tapped the ground in front of them as they approached the rocks, but when she came upon them, she would knock them enough to roll them forward a few feet.
This was how Wetah had taught her to check for traps. Now, there was a small improvement to their strategy. Wanting to ensure Zephyr’s safety, she wouldn’t want them moving forward if they were only going to be trapped. Even if she was injured, she knew that the sense of urgency would be more than enough to help her escape to the safety of their hut. However, if she was fatally injured, she wanted to make sure that Zephyr could at least have a chance of running away.
Inching forward ever so gradually, they swept part of the forest floor until they came across the area where Zephyr pointed at. When they came across her footprints, LaRha took note of the size of the prints. Luckily for LaRha, and not for the stranger woman, she had stood in a bit of mud. The moistness of the ground may not have been slippery, but it was just wet enough to leave a footprint.