Chapter 16: Never Get Enough
What was Zane's plan of getting out of "Bear Nation"? Travel like squirrels. With me on his back again, he traversed the branches of a variety of trees while I kept my head tucked away under the blanket, which he reluctantly found after only ten minutes.
My arms draped over his shoulders and my legs wrapped around his waist to stay attached to him. We both lightly jolted and landed from tree to tree. He was lucky I trusted him enough or else I would've been freaking out.
Some twigs poked the blanket, but not many. Zane was trying to avoid a direct stabbing for my sake. For him, considering the freezing cold didn't bother him, I didn't think little branches would bother him, either.
There was one point where we were going down…and down…Then we landed on the ground. I came out from under the blanket and looked over his shoulder.
"Don't worry. We're almost out, and I don't sense any other wildlife nearby," he said.
I let go of him and slipped down his back. I settled on my feet and bunched the blanket up again. When I reached for his hand, he already had it ready for me. I felt his fingers enclose around my pitiful red mitten. My hand instantly warmed up just from his touch.
"Are we almost there?" I asked him as we began walking again.
"Not exactly. It's only been one hour and eight-point-nine minutes," he replied.
I let out a little groan.
"You can ask me more questions if you want to."
"Okay…Where do you live?"
"The Monastery of Spinjitzu."
"Spinjitzu. It's a martial art of fighting my brothers and I use."
"Does a sensei teach you? Like in the movies?"
"Yes. Sensei Wu. He's the wisest man I've ever met."
I laughed. "Does he have a cheesy white beard?"
"Cheesy? No. His beard is as real as the curls in your hair."
"He seriously has a long white beard?"
"Of course he does."
"Well, you know, he's probably going to give you a sore butt for not being home tonight," I told him matter-of-factly.
"Sore butt? Why a sore butt?"
I started laughing so much that I stopped walking. He also stopped and looked back at me.
"What's so funny?" he curiously asked me, not showing a hint of joining in my laughter.
I let go of him and knelt onto the ground, struggling to keep control of my bladder. My laughter went silent, and it made my diaphragm ache.
"Say…say it again," I barely exhaled.
"Say what again? A sore butt?"
And I died. I laughed so hard that I rolled over. Zane didn't say anything, but he was so quiet that I thought he had left me here all by myself. The danger of the thought never fazed me, though, because I just continued on. Whenever I began to calm down, my childish sense of humor would repeat the sentence, making me laugh even more.
Zane listened to the pattern of my strange laughter and apparently saw no end to it anytime soon, so he picked me up and threw me over his shoulder to continue the trek. Eventually I got a hold of myself and relaxed against him. My arms dangled down behind him. The absence of his voice made me think he was angry with me, but when he finally spoke, it was just as monotone and friendly as before.
"If you meant that I would be struck on that part of my body, then no. That isn't how Sensei Wu punishes my brothers and me," he said.
"Then how does he?"
"Usually it's the result of more training and less video games."
An image of Zane armed with a controller in hand and a television screen in front of him entered my mind. From the short amount of time that I've been around him, with his careful movements and soft noises, I just couldn't see him doing that. "You play video games?" I asked him, shocked.
"I can, but I prefer to cook."
"Oh, so you're a chef."
"You can say that. I also like to sketch pictures in my time of peace."
I could definitely see Zane cooking and drawing pictures. It seemed to fit his personality perfectly. Someone like him wouldn't be doing anything that would take away from his time alone. I remember treasuring my alone time during my childhood, because when you live in a foster home, there's always noise in the house along with younger foster siblings looking for someone to bother. Maybe since Zane was a ninja, he also found hideaways away from his brothers like I did back then.
"What do you like to do?" he asked me.
"I like to dance and I make music for a living," I replied.
"Are you a popular artist?"
"…You could say that."
The forest began to thin out from around us. I could tell because Zane wasn't having to avoid shrubs and trees as much as he had been for the past few minutes. I couldn't stop wondering where exactly he was taking me.
The thought of more important questions began filling my head. Aspects about the Serpentine attack weren't exactly adding up because of my lack of knowledge of what the causes were.
"Who were those two kids from yesterday? The ones who were with the Serpentine."
"They are Lloyd and Hannah. Lloyd escaped from Darkley's Boarding School for Bad Boys, but we don't know where Hannah came from. All we know is that they've teamed up and somehow found the Hypnobrai Tomb."
"Why did they attack Jamanakai Village?"
"It's a long story, actually. Lloyd's father is an evil being. Lloyd believes he's the next in line to become the Ruler of the Underworld after him, and to live up to the title, he wants to be just as evil as his father is. Hannah is just his comrade to help him fulfill his desires.
"Together, they tried to raid Jamanakai Village all by themselves in order to steal sweets. My brothers and I easily defeated them, of course. But then they found the Hypnobrai Tomb later that same day and attacked the village with them in their mysterious control."
"What do you mean?"
"It is peculiar that the Serpentine follow orders from Lloyd and Hannah. There is always a General for each tribe, including a second-in-command, and allies weren't a common factor to any of the tribes back in the days of the Serpentine War. In fact, they shouldn't ally with humans at all."
"Humans drove them underground into their tombs to end the war. If anything, we, as a species, are their nemesis. So it doesn't make sense to me that, out of all the possibilities, two children have control over them. The circumstances just don't add up logically."
From all he said, he was right. It didn't make any sense. But something still hadn't been answered for me.
"But why did they attack yesterday?" I asked.
He thought for a moment. "We weren't expecting them to," he said. "It had been days since their last appearance. We thought they had given up, but it only turned out that they only regrouped with a new plan. It just sickens me that the plan was full of slaughtering of innocent people, all for nothing but candy. Such a waste…"
His words made my insides twist. I could never forget that I was the pack's leader in that attack. The realization of knowing I was part of the cause of so many murders sickened me just like how Zane described. I felt more like a monster than that of the Serpentine.
My gaze wandered above me. What I saw made me gasp.
Zane stopped walking as I squirmed against his shoulder. He placed me onto my feet. I reverted around and pointed at the extraordinary sight above us. "Look! Look at the stars!" I exclaimed. I had never seen stars so bright and clothed with a mighty pink-tinted hue from the galaxy around us. It appeared in a massive, perfect streak. It was so beautiful that it could've been mistaken as an extraterrestrial's artificial creation. When I looked back at Zane, I found that the stars were able to slightly illuminate him in a way so I could see him. "Is this what you were wanting to show me?" I asked him.
"No," he unexpectedly replied, "but since you are very excited about it, it gives me stronger hope for the reaction you'll have for it."
I continued to gaze at the sky for a few minutes. My eyes began making the illusion that the sky was closer than it seemed. With my open hand reaching for the stars, I waited for my fingers to grasp the pink hue and twist it around to play with it. The feeling of it, I would've imagined, could've felt soft like pure silk…or luscious velvet. The stars would've been like the little beads to accent the hue, giving it a feeling of royalty.
A wind harshly whipped my body in a spontaneous way. My hand immediately shot down from the sky and came to my side as I shivered. As if it was an instinct, Zane cloaked me with the blanket.
"We must continue on," he said. "We don't want to miss it after this long journey."
"Okay," I agreed. When I stepped in the direction of which we were heading, my whole leg sunk into the snow. I yelped in surprise because of the sudden coldness that went up my pant leg.
"Watch your step," Zane warned me, a little too late. He tucked his hands under my armpits and pulled me back up.
"Thanks." Then I tried taking another step, only with the same result. Zane must've been shaking his head behind me. I knew I looked foolish.
"Well then," I sheepishly laughed, embarrassed.
"Give me your hand," he said.
I put my hand above my head and felt him tug me up. Of course, I also tugged to gain leverage between us, but then there was a little icy crash next to me. I started laughing at Zane because he also sunk in, but with both legs. His knees and everything above was all that was visible of him.
"Oops," he said.
"Welcome to the club!" I joked.
"What club? We're stuck in the snow."
"I know—" I got a handful of snow and put it in my mouth to eat, making my words distorted "—but you got stuck with me, so that gives me the opportunity to do this!" A slapped another handful of snow against his chest. Even though it wasn't actually that funny, I laughed aloud at him. He just looked at me, very lost, as the snow toppled off his suit.
"I don't know how to respond to this kind of behavior," he admitted.
I giggled. I fell backwards purposely, sinking deep into the snow.
"What are you doing?" he asked me.
"Trying to figure out how to get out of here." I pulled my leg out of the hole it made and rolled onto my stomach. "We're probably going to be crawling for a while."
"Nonsense." I looked behind me to see he was gone. I glanced above me and saw his outline against the streak of stars. "If I carry you, we can traverse this patch of land easily."
I let him lift me up into a cradle. "We don't have to go much further," he assured me, pointing at four little peaks in the distance. "You see those peaks? The destination is just past them."
I made a face. "And it's an hour away?"
"It won't feel that long for you. Ask me more questions." And from there, time sped by with another round of random questions. But during my time of being in his arms and watching the stars shift above, I unknowingly gazed around the environment of my happy side with a different perspective. What Jen did to me didn't bother me so much anymore. I felt calmer and more at ease than earlier today. That resulted in me actually standing up and walking away from my circle, and the girl hiding from me was able to peek to see me without being scared.