Inktober XVI: Wild in Endhaven | World Anvil
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Inktober XVI: Wild

-character packs things in middle of night trying to leave under cover of darkness same day of rite of passage to try and get out there as soon as possible and explore world before being spotted by old close friend   Lorelei quietly set the canteen down onto the bed, careful to time it with the grasshoppers' chirping outside, before taking inventory. Six days worth of rations would be enough to get her through Hangman's Pass, even if she had to take the north way around in case of anyone wanting to make additions to the trail. Meander River bent around both, so her two waterskins would be plenty. Everything else - her runes, her beads, and her freshly-earned direwolf fang, had already been bound in a cloth rucksack first. Though the items couldn't weigh more than a few stones altogether, they had been the hardest and longest to pack.   The hair stood at attention along the nape of her neck. Lorelei dove behind the nearest table and turned to the hut's doorway, making out Garret's tall, lanky figure. He was already looking toward her. "What's with the fear? I just wanted to see if you wanted another slice of the roast."   Lorelei rose from her kneel, coming around the bed's corner. She could feel a large lump forming in her throat, and the cool night seemed to have warmed significantly in the last moment. She swallowed and took a breath before Garret looked behind her. His friendly, warm look turned to one of confusion.   "Why would you want to eat -" his eyes widened. "Lorelei... you aren't planning on leaving tomorrow morning, are you?"   She shook her head. At least his wandering eyes got the ball rolling. "I'm not. I'm leaving tonight." Each word weighed heavily against her tongue and neck as she delivered them, but seeing Garret's expression of hurt made it feel as if her shoulders were made of solid stone.   "But we just got done with the Elderhunt, we still have at least a month before the actual exit ceremony!"   "Garret, please, keep your voice down. The Elderhunt is the last required rite of passage before we can leave Ceppal. The ceremony is just for saying goodbyes to parents and blood brothers."   "I understand what you mean about parents," Garret whisper-shouted, "but what about me? What about Dorothea, and Phorm? Are we not blood brothers? Or at the very least, blood cousins?"   Lorelei found it impossible to choke down a soft laugh, but soon reality's acrid biting filled her head again. "I'd like to believe that we are all connected deeper, but the spirits said I was incompatible. At least, with anyone here."   "And so now you're going to see if the outside has anyone compatible?"   Lorelei shook her head, eyes now locked to the endless forest lying beyond the open window. "I don't know. All I know is that Ceppal no longer has any opportunity for me, but the world beyond..."   From the corner of her eye, she saw Garret start to speak, then falter. He simply shrugged. "I think I know what you mean." She turned toward him, still keeping an eye on the forest.   "When I was little, my mom and dad didn't have their eyes or hands off me for so much as a second. She's always been there to make dad and I sweet potato skewers when we come back from our weekly hunt for at least half my life now. Jacobin and I have been blood brothers since we could walk, and we've only gotten closer from there. I'll always have good things to remember with all of them, and with Ceppal in general, but you..." he trailed off.   Lorelei focused back on Garret. "Do you remember when I got lost in the Mudbark when we were little?"   "The... oh, right! Weren't you gone for six -"   "Seven."   "Seven days. Wow. I just remember trudging through there with dad for the last three before we found you. You were crying up a right storm when we got to you, writhing about in the mud. I can't imagine how scared you were."   "... I was actually furious at you all."   "What? But when we got back to Ceppal, you were so happy."   "I lied, Garret. I was trying to run away then, to anywhere else, and was so mad that you were taking me back. But I knew I would only be punished if I told the truth, so I was a good little child and thanked everyone for saving me."   "Lorelei, I'm so sorry. I had no idea."   "I don't blame you. I just wanted you to know that I've been looking forward to this day for a long time. I wasn't able to get a good taste of the outside world, but even when I was starving and living off of mud out there, each handful tasted better than juniper berries."   Garret stood dejectedly in the doorway, taking another look at Lorelei's belongings. "So... this is it then?"   She nodded, hefting a bundle over one shoulder. "But I want you to know that just because Ceppal had no good place in my memories, that doesn't mean that you or Dorothea or Phorm don't. You've all found your lives here, but mine just lurks somewhere beyond." She shifted a bag to the side and embraced Garret, who stood motionless. Eventually, she felt his arms quickly tighten around her before he soon released.   He moved aside, offering Lorelei a clear view outside. Dancing embers lit up the broad sides of other huts, but she looked instead out to the dark shapes of the forest, shifting gently with the wind. She passed Garret and made her way out of what she had called home for the last fourteen years. She wasn't too sure where she was headed, but she knew that at the end of it would lie a new home.

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