"Uggh, why do I have to find her? Why couldn't she have just stayed in the room like all the other patients?" Alex grumbled as he trudged through the dense underbrush. He nearly fell when his foot brushed an exposed root but caught himself mid-fall. He couldn't understand why he was the one sent to look for a girl who had nearly killed him. After all, if she was strong enough to attack him, wasn't she strong enough to take care of herself?
"And what's worse, Master Rojak said I was no longer his apprentice." Tears and anger flared up the more Alex thought about it. After all, he had only devoted his entire life to studying under Rojak's instruction. He would definitely have no problem finding a new master, right? He sighed. There was no use in getting upset about it. He was the one who let the girl get away anyways.
"Maybe I could get a job as a -" Before he could finish, something slammed hard into his side. Alex fell to the ground winded and dazed. He could feel something on top of him holding him down. He tried to move his arms but found them pinned to the ground as well.
"Shhhh, or you're going to wake it," a voice said in his ear. He was just about to say something in reply when a swift hand shot out and covered his mouth and nose with a damp cloth. Alex tried to resist but couldn't and was soon overcome with sleep.
When he came too, Alex found himself sitting alone in a cave. He looked around but found no signs as to how he arrived where he had. He tried to stand up, but his body refused, forcing him to sit back down or pass out. Alex tried remembering the last thing he had been doing with little success. He sighed and gave up. There was no point in trying to remember something forgotten.
"You're awake," a voice to his right said. Alex turned to face it. There before him was Vena, crouched and busy tending a smoldering pile of ash. She appeared much different in the soft light. Her rust-colored hair appeared a much deeper black and seemed to envelop her head and shoulders Her violet eyes still appeared to glow despite the lack of light to illuminate them. She was short, maybe no more than five feet tall, but the shadows surrounding her made her seem even smaller.
Alex watched her in silence, amazed this small girl was the same person who had attacked him. Vena continued stirring the embers. If she noticed him staring, she made no motion to respond. Something was different that Alex was sure of. What it was exactly, he couldn't say.
"Are you hungry?" Vena asked.
"Wha?" Alex said, returning to reality. "Oh, ahh, yes. Wait, uh, what did you ask?"
" I said, are you hungry?" Her tone had grown harsher. Alex was certain he was not welcome regardless of how much kindness she demonstrated.
"Yes, a little," He replied. Vena didn't respond. She continued stirring the coals. "Ah, why do you ask?"
"There's food to your left. Eat. Then get some more rest."
"Hmm," Alex said, turning. Surely enough, a makeshift plate sat beside him with several pieces of meat and a few pieces of a strange fruit laid atop it. "Thanks," he said. Vena ignored him and continued stirring.
"Ah, oh. Do you know who I am?" Alex asked. Vena ignored him again. Suddenly, the stick she was using snapped. "Oh, looks like that's the end of that one," Alex said, smiling weakly. Vena just looked at the broken piece of wood, not even taking notice of Alex's sympathy. Sheesh, you could at least give a sign you heard me, y'know, he thought to himself.
Vena suddenly stood up, snapping Alex back to reality. "Eat," she said, back to him, ready to leave. "Then get some rest. When you awake next time, go back to wherever you came from and don't follow me again." Vena jumped and disappeared out of sight, sending Alex into a panic.
"HEY!!" he shouted. "THAT'S DANGEROUS!!!! HEY!!" He dragged himself to the entrance of the cave, expecting to find Vena laying somewhere at the bottom of an insane fifty-foot drop or something. What he found instead was the last few seconds of her rust-colored hair before disappearing, the ground only ten feet below at best. Confusion flooded his mind but quickly subsided. Nothing Vena did made any sense, but then again, no one he ever met made any sense to him.
Alex sighed and slumped back against the wall. He turned to look again at the food she'd left him. It was probably cold by this point, but food was food, and right now, Alex needed something to eat. His stomach growled as if to signal the obvious. "Yeah, yeah. I hear you," he said and dragged himself to the makeshift plate. He picked up on of the pieces of meat and took a small bite, preparing for the worst. His mouth was instantly filled with a strange sweet and savory flavor he had never tasted before. He took another bite and then another and another, each bite seemingly better and shorter lived than the last. Before he knew it, the meat was gone. He looked down at the plate, a strange mix of disbelief and sadness filling him as he now realized only the fruit remained.
I'll just save that for later, he thought, although he really planned to throw away whatever it was the moment he was gone. Tiredness overcame him once more. His vision began swimming, his head pounding, and his movements became irregular. Fear replaced all other emotions, and a single thought came to his mind: SHE TRICKED ME!!!! Before Alex could move another inch, whatever drug was hidden in the meat overtook him, and he blacked out once more.