"For far too long, you've fought your friends,
these fights will lead you to your-"
"Yeah, I know. Yada yada, rhyme scheme, yada yada prophecy. Look, I'm tired, this is the first night in a while where I wasn't beaten into unconsciousness. I'd really like to just enjoy my ni-
"You know not what power you possess,
you won't get any reprieve from rest."
"Really? Just ignoring me? Can you leave me alone? Please? At least for tonight. Because I would like to have a decent night's rest. I've been marching with two morons looking for their friend, all while being berated by one of them. Not to mention some new tag-a-longs that seem to have picked up on the abusive stuff-"
"You cannot escape your destiny,
for as long as-"
"Oh wow, not even gonna let me finish? Well, fine then. Only one course of action. LA LA LA LA LA LA-"
"Shut up, cat."
"Ah ha! An actual response! Now I know what tactic to use! LALALALALALA-"
"SHUT UP, YOU OVERGROWN DIBBUN!"
Huh, that one didn't sound like-
I've begun to notice that the sound of a stick hitting someone is much more pathetic than it should be. I mean, stinging pain and possible injuries to your very bones, and the most someone else hears is about the same sound as a rubber band smacking the back of someone's neck. I'm just saying, if getting hit by a blunt instrument hurt as much as the noise caused by it suggested, I would have far less reason to hate each and everyone of the things surrounding me.
... That's a lie, I'd still have every good reason to hate everyone.
Speaking of which, one of the reject sidekicks for Squirrel Girl was hovering over me.
"Just because Sparrow likes squawking doesn't mean you need to." I muttered.
"Then perhaps you should shut your own mouth!"
At first, it had been a hassle trying to discern the squirrels from each other. With the rabbits, there was moustache man and the bane of my existence. Oh, and the other one. Still don't know where she is. Anyway, with the squirrels it was a much different case. Two of them were females, two were males, and one still had me on the fence. The one that just got done giving me the medieval wake up call was one of the guys.
"Which one are you, again?" I asked. I can't honestly remember if he had ever given his name.
"Giddup." He growled.
"Well, Giddup, I'd love to, really, but I think I might have trouble with that, what with the whole BEING TIED UP!"
At this point, I should think nobody reading this is surprised at my being bound with rope. One doesn't just punch a military officer and get away with it. On the upside, I'll never not feel proud of myself for my actions. Sure, my face is probably a sight for sore eyes. Getting punched a minimum of ten times a day will do that. Granted, half of them could have been avoided if I learned to stop making sarcastic comments, but holding those in would be more painful than any beating. Being tied up with rope was more annoying, especially when one factors in bathroom breaks. Or eating. Or everything.
"Not my problem." 'Giddup' sneered. He was the second bulkiest of the squirrels, and carried around an axe. I'll admit to laughing when he tried boasting around the campfire about how many vermin he'd taken down with it. The hilarity came from two things.
A. He was trying to intimidate me, and he failed miserably. More importantly...
B. He was trying to impress the rabbits, specifically Sparrow.
The big oaf seemed to be a bit smitten with the shrill beast. Where the attraction came from, I'll never know. Maybe he's a sadist and he likes seeing her abuse me, maybe squirrels just have things for other animals (if that's the case, then there's a discovery channel documentary that I need to avoid), or maybe it was just the fact that she was the only available beast around.
Willow was the tribe chief, and apparently that meant she couldn't have any "mates" as they called it. Bit of an odd custom, but hey, that's probably the least bizarre thing I've encountered throughout my two week long journey. Also, she's got the best wit out of any of these schnooks, and it'd go wasted on the big moron. He basically gift wrapped most of the insults he received.
The other female was his sister, and thankfully incest isn't a thing that happens here. I mean, I suppose I don't actually know that, but I sort of need some security that this isn't the most terrible thing in the entire universe. Anyway, her name was some sort of combination of a tree and an appendage. No clue why her parents gave her that name, perhaps they weren't too bright. Considering who else they had for a kid, it really wouldn't surprise me. She was fairly quiet, but also much larger than her older brother. Her face was also the most heavily done in paint, a thick coat of white all over her head with red around the eyes and black on her snout.
The other guy was about the same stature as Willow, and seemed the most laid back. He hardly ever seemed to notice me, and any time he was forced to stand guard over me, he more or less just made small talk with me. He gave me his name once, but I forgot it rather quickly and resorted to calling him Roadkill. He was confused, but I assured him it was a name of great respect in my culture. Since he was talking to a large feline supposedly named Don Juan, I doubt he was all too suspicious of whether or not I was lying.
The final member of this odd little bunch was the mute. Roadkill said something about them losing their tongue a while ago to a rat with a knife. I'll admit to giggling at that, because the thought of a rat with a switchblade and greaser jacket came to my mind when he was telling me the story. Said giggling prompted a punch in the gut from Sparrow, though whether that that was from me laughing at a story of someone losing their tongue or just because I was experiencing joy, I don't know.
Anyway, back to the plot.
"I assume it would be your problem. Either you help me up, or you carry me. Your call." I tried my best to sound confident while keeping eye level with his feet.
There was a bit of silence that followed.
"Yeah, didn't think of that one, did ya?"
As I was being hoisted up, I looked around.
My head had been laying comfortably on a moss covered log, about a yard away from the thirty-fifth clearing in the woods we'd camped at. I'm beginning to think this forest was designed by a certain Batman villain.
After the little incident the week before, I wasn't allowed to sleep near the campfire. Instead, I was plopped in any area somewhat close to the camp, and someone else was in charge of making sure I didn't try to wriggle away during the night. Unfortunately, tonight was Giddup's night.
"Listen, I think I can manage not screaming anymore, I can just go back to bed." As much as I'd gotten used to it, I wasn't really in the mood for another beating.
"The other hare just came back, and she wants to have a word with you."
Oh thank God I'm not the only one who doesn't know her name, maybe he can ask for... oh, wait. Rabbit + Me = Not Good Times. I'm now less excited.
"So does 'have a word with you' mean beating or combo of insults and beating?"
"Her call." He said smugly.
As we entered the clearing, I saw the Willow, Sparrow, Kenwall and good ol' whats-her-name standing around the fire, quietly discussing. Roadkill and the mute were snuggled together closer to the supplies and Giddup's sister was nowhere to be seen.
Kenwall turned away from the conversation and noticed us approaching.
"Really, you couldn't just untie him and let him walk with you? You really had to carry him?" Kenwall asked. Willow sighed and shook her head, and the third rabbit just looked dumbfounded. Really, it's a shame I don't get along with these folk, because I very much agree with all of their reactions... except for Sparrow, who was just glowering at me.
"Can't be too careful with vermin." Giddup said as he put me down. I was about to ask for the third hare's name, but then I noticed something he said.
"Wait, did you just call me a vermin?"
There was a small silence, followed by the big oaf merely saying, "Yeah."
"Look who's talkin, you bushy tail rat! What kind of bull sh-"
I doubled over as Sparrow removed her fist from my abdomen. That was usually one of the more tender spots.
"How many times I gotta tell ya to show some manners, wot!" Sparrow said in a snippy voice. Honestly, her annoyed voice is a much more aggravating sound than her enraged voice.
"How... fnnngh dimmmn..."
"Wot was that?"
"Gimme a sec, I'm waiting for my kidney to move back into place. Why do you always have to resort to violence? It is never necessary!"
"That's an opinion." Willow stated matter-of-factly.
I received a light tap on the shoulder. I straightened slightly and looked at the silent hare, who merely motioned for me to follow her. She started to walk closer to the edge of the camp, away from the others. I hobbled towards her, still awkwardly tied up and in pain. Once we moved five feet into the trees, the rabbit started talking.
"It's good to see you're still alive."
... Was that a positive comment? No, no, I will not be suckered in. I am not lowering my guard. This is gonna be followed by a spear butt to the face, I bet.
"I'd like to start by saying that I'm sorry for all that you've had to endure. You're very strong to have gotten as far as you have."
It's a trick. I'm not falling for this.
"I promise, I'll make those savage little morons pay for what they've done to you."
I-I'm not... I'm...
She hugged me. "And after everything is finished, you'll go back home to your... Nebarska?"
She... I... Oh my God. "Nebraska."
My world collapsed. For a solid month, I had been beaten, dragged through who knows where, and all the while I kept my thoughts away from home, trying not to think about my friends, my house, my family, my life...
"Are... Are you crying?"
"No." I lied through my very unflattering sounding sobs. My eyes were blurry, my nose was running like a waterfall, and my entire body felt weak. Weak from the multiple bruises, weak from the surroundings, weak from trying to put up a stoic and cocky front. "What makes you think I'm crying?"
"Wot in blazes is going on here?" I heard Sparrow come from behind. I didn't even turn to acknowledge her. I didn't care about anything at that moment. Hell, I didn't even bother to make a dumb one-liner.
"Gotta say Rodie ol' gal, ya really must've done somethin' fierce to the scum. I've beat 'i'm black and blue, and I never got a single tear outa him."
Rodie. So that's who that is. How bout that.