Well, here I am with a new chapter. Updates will be coming more slowly because of NaNoWriMo, but I'm determined to keep posting anyway. Hope you enjoy


Cowlquape

It had been almost a week since the SkyRaider had caught on fire and we had been forced to abandon it and so far, we had been… getting on. There was no other way to describe it.

We weren't exactly very well off in terms of food and water. We always had to be extra careful about what kind of roots and berries we picked, in case they were poisonous and there were so many still pools in the Deepwoods, we had to be very careful about from where we got out water from.

Still, with Twig's knowledge of the Deepwoods along with the combined knowledge of the crew and what I had gathered from reading barkscrolls, we were doing better than I had first expected.

The crew had even managed to salvage some of the things from everyone's cabins and I had a few of my barkscrolls. If truth be told, while the rest of the crew whispered at night about the dangers that might leap out and devour them in their sleep, I was never worried.

I knew that we would get out of here somehow, all unharmed and safe and we would somehow stop my father from whatever evil scheme he was up to.

I had every bit of confidence in Twig to get us all out of here alive. The only thing I spent time worrying about was Twig himself. Ever since we had been forced to escape from the SkyRaider, Twig had changed into a more violent person than I remembered him. He was so angry now, about everything and anything.

He would be angry when water was spilt unnecessarily and when we rested too long. He would get angry when we gathered more poisonous food than edible food. He even ate his food angrily and many times I would wince and shy away as he stabbed at his food.

The crew tried to stay away from him most of the time unless they had something very important to ask him. Even I had tried my best to stay away after becoming the victim of his shouting for a few times. I knew he was stressed and that the strange men that had set fire to the ship angered him.

Knowing Twig, he was most likely yearning for revenge against the hooligans. It didn't help that we knew absolutely nothing about them. And so, Twig would spend countless hours sitting quietly by himself while the rest of us ate or rested, seeming to be lost in thought, refusing to talk to anyone.

Of course, whenever he was finished thinking, he would look at our small group and snap at one of us for doing something not to his liking. Like he was now. I sighed as he yelled at Ernest for spilling some of his water down his front, listening to him as he told Ernest strictly that if he wanted to bathe in the drinking water, he could off to one of the still pools and bathe there.

I stood up from my spot on a small rock and moved towards Ernest, ready to defend him. "Twig," I started timidly and his livid face, which had so far been on Ernest's face only, snapped to me, making me cringe slightly.

"He's just a boy, Twig. He can't be expected to drink perfectly" I informed him gently, placing a hand on Ernest's shoulder.

Twig narrowed his eyes glaring at me, and I looked away slightly, not used to being at the receiving end of Twig's anger.

"He's old enough to know how to drink properly. If he hasn't already, then perhaps you should teach him" he stated stiffly, but to my relief, did not push the matter further and instead stalked ahead after giving a pointed look at Ernest

. As the crew followed him, Ernest and I lagged behind, my hand still on his shoulder and when we were certain Twig was out of earshot, Ernest whispered, "Thank you Cowlquape. That was nice of you to defend me."

I smiled and nodded to acknowledge his thanks. "It was really no trouble" I informed him, sidestepping away to avoid a thick branch, "I just wish Twig wasn't so different now" I added with a sigh, watching his retreating back hitting aside the brush of the Deepwoods.

"You mean, he isn't always like that?" Ernest asked confused as we continued to walk.

I shook my head, "No, he isn't normally like this at all. The last time I saw him so angry was when we were in the Deepwoods last and we were travelling on foot."

"Much like we are now then" Ernest stated, with a dismal edge to his voice as his shoulders sagged.

I squeezed his shoulder slightly and said comfortingly, "Don't worry Ernest. I'm sure soon Twig will begin to become his old self again. I imagine he must be very angry at the moment, with everything that's happened".

Ernest nodded and for a time we were silent as we ploughed through the thick Deepwoods underbrush with great difficulty, huffing and puffing as we went.

Twig and most of the crew had experience with the Deepwoods but for Ernest, who had never been here before and for me, who had only been here once, we found walking through the Deepwoods difficult and in a few hours, the two of us were exhausted.

I glanced over at Ernest, who was sweating and red in the face.

I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for him. He was so young and yet, Twig wasn't showing any mercy on him. If it wasn't for me, Ernest would have probably been left behind by now. Sighing, I guided him with my hand past the brush as we hurried to catch up with Twig and the others.

Walking into a clearing, we saw the crew gathered around in a small circle discussing something, food and water in their hands and Twig, sitting alone, with that absorbed look in his eyes. I looked back at the crew before walking over to them, being handed two small handfuls of berries and two cups of water by Sleet.

"You should talk to the Captain lad" he informed in a murmuring voice as he readied Ernest and my food.

I looked at him surprised and Tarp who seemed to have heard us, joined in on the conversation.

"You should lad. The Captain's not as hard as you as he is on us. I think if anyone has a chance of reasoning with him, it'd be you."

The rest of the crew, who had been listening to us nodded and agreed. "You could even take Ernest with you" Spooler offered, earning a little laugh from the rest of the crew. It had become common knowledge that Ernest and I had become inseparable since Twig's tirades and the crew teasing me about it was the only thing that made them smile nowadays.

I smiled at the friendly teasing and looked behind me, past Ernest who was waiting a little away, to Twig. For the first time in a long while, I thought he seemed more lonely than angry.

"Maybe I should talk to him alone. I don't want Ernest to anger him" I told the crew, turning back to them before standing up with the food.

Moving to Ernest, I sat him down and gave him his share. I watched as he greedily gobbled the berries and drunk his water in great gulps. The food and water were all gone in less than a few minutes and Ernest sat back, gazing mournfully at my own food which had remained untouched.

Feeling another wave of pity for him, I took his cup and poured half of my portion onto his and gave him half of my own berries before he could say a word. He frowned at me and shook his head, glancing at Twig fearfully.

"Don't worry about Twig, Ernest. Just eat. You're the youngest of us here, you need more food and water than the rest of us."

Ernest opened his mouth as if he was about to argue but I quickly stood up saying, "You stay here and eat Ernest. I'm going to go and have a word with Twig."

This time, Ernest managed to say something. "Are you sure?" he asked me, biting his lip in worry, glancing once more at Twig. I shook my head at his worry, dismissing it and told him confidently, "Twig won't yell at me. I know he won't."

Before Ernest could argue, I left him and hurried towards Twig, glancing at the crew who were all smiling encouragingly at me.

Nodding to them and hoping that what I had said about Twig was true, I stopped in front of him and bit my lip before calling out a hesitant, "Twig?"

He turned around to face me, surprise showing clearly over his face before he nodded and said coldly, "Cowlquape" before he turned back around. Glancing once more back at the crew, I asked, "Could… Could I sit with you Twig?"

Twig turned back to look at me and I could see his was thinking it over before he nodded. Sighing in relief, at my good luck, I sat a little away from him and fiddled with my shirt for a while, unable to decide on what exactly to say.

Surprisingly, it was Twig would broke the silence with, "Why did you give him your food?" I blinked, startled before looking at him.

Twig, sensing my confusion, elaborated. "Why did you give Ernest half of your food? We barely get enough of it as it is and here you are just handing it out to him. Then what will you eat?"

I was surprised by the sudden burst of anger that went through me and before I could stop myself, said heatedly, "Well, if I don't take care of him, no one will. I have a feeling that if it wasn't for me, he'd be a dead bag of bones by now! It's not as if you treat him with even a little mercy."

Twig turned to me, evidently just as surprised by my anger as I was. "Well, excuse me if I have better things to do than coddle a young un" he said coldly, giving me a piercing stare as I looked away at a nearby clump of grass.

"I know you have lots to think about Twig and you might not have time to coo over Ernest. I'm not asking you to. I… just a little bit of mercy and kindness towards him would be enough." I argued, a sudden wave of bravado taking over me even if I was still looking at the bush and not at Twig.

"And not just for him. A little bit of kindness and mercy on all of us would go a long way" I added and bit my lip, realizing that Twig hadn't said anything.

I kept my eyes firmly on the bush, too terrified at seeing Twig's expression to turn away. "Are you finished Cowlquape?" he finally asked, more calmly than I had anticipated. I only nodded. Then I heard a sigh from Twig and I looked away from the bush and onto his face.

Twig had lost the look of anger on his face and his shoulders were slumped, eyes looking down at the ground.

"Twig… I" I started, intending to apologize straight away but Twig cut me off with a wave of his hand.

"I apologize Cowlquape, for my anger recently. I'm afraid the whole business with the men has addled my senses. Exploding at you is hardly what I want to do."

I smiled and moved closer to Twig, blushing slightly as I put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "

That's alright. But you should tell everyone else to" I told him gently.

He nodded "I was planning on it but I thought that I'd apologize personally to you first" and with a grin, Twig got up off the rock and strode towards the crew. I smiled as I saw him apologize, to see that smile on his face once more and I sighed in relief knowing that Twig was back to normal.

I also got off the rock and moved towards Ernest, just as Twig walked up to him. "I'm sorry for the way I've been treating you Ernest" I heard him say.

"Sometimes I can go quite mad like that. I promise from now on I'll treat you like a little boy and not one of my crew members."

Ernest looked a little taken aback by Twig's sudden apology and glanced at me, as if asking weather Twig really meant it. I nodded reassuringly and Ernest nodded back at Twig and let him sit with us as Ernest finished his meal.

At least that was one problem sorted, I thought to myself. A few more to go.