Chapter IV : 144 III

Chapter IV : 144

“ Regrets “

 

The passage of time was difficult to measure. Hunter felt as if he looked down at the snakes and his fellow humans for the longest moment. He found a place where he could be alone near the top of one of the pillars. The tamer just could not deal with human interactions for a while. On the even rock surfaces below him, Rina set up camp and busily wrote down notes on her map and on her history book.

He remembered back then when they were kids, Rina always wanted to be a historian. She asked about anything and everything, and had to be scolded many times whenever she tried to leave the town. As for him, Hunter, the only child of the Captain, everyone thought that he would be a guard so that someday, he could take his father’s place. But his heart was set on becoming a tamer just like his mother, and his father Xing did not stop him. Thyme, on the other hand, was undecided. He remained as an artist for a very long time. In the World, children who had not decided on their roles were Artists who tried to do various things; very old people who could no longer do their old roles were also Artists.

“ You became a guard so that you could protect Rina, “ the young man muttered under his breath as he looked at the couple, “ If I became a guard instead of a tamer, I wonder if I could have… “

Hunter looked at his hands. They were clean and there were no signs of injury or work. He wondered if he was fulfilling his role, if he was doing everything that he should be doing, and if he was really giving it his all. So far, his journal had a few entries about tardigrades and now, he was occasionally jotting down notes about armored desert snakes:

  • The aurora is reflected beautifully by their armor scales.
  • Their greeting involves tasting a part of whomever they want to greet.
  • Their saliva heals external wounds and soothes the body.
  • They care for their friends and families.

That last bit made him look at Steel who, while he examined the rock formations, was stalked by a curious young snake. The farmer would occasionally run off and the snake would slither after him; in the end, it became a game of hide and seek. Hunter laughed at that scene until he noticed Puppy who was all by himself. The tardigrade stood on one of the pillars and looked at the direction where they came from. It seemed as if the extremophile was waiting for Errol, but Hunter knew that the little one was gone forever. No human could possibly outrun the acacia; even the massive vine dome was unable to keep it away; and the pool of blood beneath Errol as the historian knelt on the sand…

The tamer almost fell over when he felt a nudge against his back. It was Linnorm; despite the snake’s size and shape, it was able to sneak up behind Hunter. As it gently brushed against the side of the human’s face, the boy wrote down on his journal: Linnorm is undeniably kind and wise. They could not speak to one another directly, but he felt as if the snake asked how he was doing.

“ It hurts, “ Hunter said as he clutched his chest, “ Right here. “

At that, the snake playfully tried to gobble up the human once again. It pulled back at the last minute though and a wheezing, laugh-like sound came out of its mouth. Hunter laughed as well, partly because his getting gobbled up by creatures was becoming frequent, partly because he wanted to forget the fact that no matter how many times Linnorm tried to heal him, the pain in his chest would never go away.

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