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May 25, 2019 4:58 PM
some children wake in a strange place
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Despite having not seen that many, the boy knows he likes colours. He searches his contextless collection of knowledge for colourful things, things he's never seen but knows, like words only read and never heard pronounced.

"I wanna be Opal."

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"Okay!" says Malen. "That's a good name. Opals are rainbow stones, right?"

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"I think so! Really hope nothing in our heads is wrong."

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"That'd be bad, yeah," Malen says, nodding.

"Though it might be nice if Bina's wrong about a few things," Laashya points out, to a quiet 'hey!' from Bina.

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"Maybe vampires are actually friendly!"

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"We shouldn't presume!" Malen nods seriously.

"They definitely drink blood," Bina says, crossing her arms.

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"But what if they lick scrapped knees?"

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"I guess that could work," says Bina dubiously.

Malen just nods. "And I'd trade blood for answers to stuff, too, maybe they know bunches!"

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The vampire debate goes for some time, between bouts of chasing and exploration and fruit gorging. Eventually, the light starts to fade, and the strength seeps from their limbs.

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Being sleepy is so weird. Malen ends up asleep leaning against the trunk of an apple tree, while Bina and Laashya yawn and lean into each other.

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Opal curls up beside Malen. He wonders if he'll remember anything when he wakes up.

There is much exploring in the morning.

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Malen gradually leads them in the direction of the forest. It's more interesting than the plains, and nearer than the mountains, after all. There's a lot of bouncing between convenient copses of various fruit and nut trees on the way. 

The forest is very dark and very ominous, with grey branches reaching like grasping fingers and thorns curling around the base. There's a hint of a path, if you squint, half overgrown. It's very still, and the little birds that populate the plains don't seem to come here.

Bina eyes it dubiously. "I don't think I want to go in there," she says. "There's probably vampires. Or werewolves. Or goo monsters."

"I don't know what any of those look like, so it'd be cool to see one," Malen replies.

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Opal tilts his head like a curious bird. "What could a goo monster even do to you? It's goo. Also, there might be stuff I could use to make things pretty."

After breakfast, Opal had insisted in streaking everyone's cheeks with dried fruit sap. 

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Malen has rubbed at the dried fruit sap a bit, smearing it. It's itchy.

"It'd engulf you and then eat you!" Bina insists. "And the pretty stuff in there is probably all a trap!"

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"A trap? By who?"

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"Awful things that want to eat you," Bina explains.

"I'm not sure anything wants to eat us at all," Malen says.

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"Have we seen anything that wasn't an us or minnow or a sky-minnow." 

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"Nope," Malen says, popping her 'p'. "And I think the sky-minnows are birds."

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"That's a much better word!"

 

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"Uh-huh. You guys don't have to come," Malen says to Bina and Laashya. "I want to see what's in there, though."

Bina visibly hesitates. "I don't want you facing those things alone, though."

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"I'll go with her. If we don't get eaten, we'll meet you back by the stream?"

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"I think that's good. We can try making clothes while you're exploring!" Laashya says. Bina nods after a moment.

"Good," Malen says. "We'll try to be back in a few days?"

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"Less if it's boring."

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"We'll send in the cavalry in a week!" Laashya says, taking Bina's hand and leading her away as she waves.

("What's a cavalry?" Bina asks as they leave.)

("Dunno. Rescue?" Laashya replies. "I think it's just a phrase. Came to me.")

"See you guys!" Malen calls, waving back.

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Opal trots along behind her into what he's decided are the Spooky Woods.

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