Under Bound Boughs

Chapter 15

The Descender: untitled

"See? That's a plant. Puh-lan-tuh." Mormo encouraged his ward.

Said victim of encouragement really wasn't paying attention. He seemed intent on watching Natalia, or rather the edge of her hair as she looked about. Sometimes, if he was diligent, he could see the sun light filtered through the foliage to turn the honey hue to a color akin to gold.

Not one to give up, Mormo tapped his ride's thick skull with a paw, claws politely sheathed. "Come on, say it!" Plant! P.L.A.N.T. Plaaant!"

Speaking more to herself then those about her, for though they'd offered to help they were wrapped up in their own concerns. "Bother, a false trail. For someone in a temper the Bloody, bloody well-" She caught herself just in time. Puns were a layman's humor, as a princess she wasn't supposed to indulge. Even accidentally.

"Hmm…" Shifting his paws, kneading his wincing perch as he thought, Mormo purred to himself to help his thought along. Then, the purring, the kneading, just stopped. Eyes bright, the feline smirked. "Well, I was gunna give you a cookie for saying plant, but if you don't want i-"

"Plant!"

It nearly came out a scream.

Mormo's purr was the only sound for a while. Then, as Natalia puzzled over where she'd been lead astray –they were not lost, she knew the way out, but the twists and turns in following Asch were getting complicated pick out- the Descender's eyes thinned. Some though had come to roost, and it was not nice.

"Cookie!" There was a whole symphony of accusation to that sound, worlds of complaint, and an attitude that screamed "Gimme".

"Well, what do you know." The feline Descender drawled. "I left it in Alilly, at the Ab Libitum office. Whoopsie."

"Cookie?" The Descender whimpered.

"When we get to Alilly." Mormo promised. "I'll get Genis to whip up some for ya."

Natalia stopped, faced with three branching paths, all marked with a sword strike, she sighed. Asch just wasn't making one false trail, he was making several. Enough, was enough. Without her bow she couldn't hunt the wolves, without Asch she honestly didn't have a prayer against Ganser –again, her bow would have helped, but that was a moot point- it was more than time to leave.

But, to leave, to give up set a whole new host of futures in front of her, and none of them looked promising.

Without a means to make money she'd quickly starve, the people were on some sort of ration, and she doubted outsiders were allotted a share. With Ab Libitum so set against her, finding work through them would be impossible.

All in all her unScored future looked bleak.

"Cookie!" The descender whined.

And to that she was recalled responsibility. She'd head to Alilly first, see these two that far, then she'd have to think about her future.

No matter how bleak it looked.

And maybe, just maybe she could wheedle some cookies out of this Genis, they sounded nice. Her stomach growled, in complete agreement.

Still, something nattered, something minor but irritating. Her sense of… justice was definitely tweaked; a royal handover rom a world where her decrees were laws and justice had been her goal. Or rather, her promise.

"You know, if Genis-" whoever that was , "-hasn't made the cookies, than Mormo can't promise them, can he?"

The Descender who'd been slowly trailing after her stopped in his tracks as the realization struck him. Mormo rocked on his perch, shocked by the sudden halt. The boy's brown eyes glinted, darkened to black even as his face twisted into a rather Asch-like scowl.

"Mormo!" Anger laced the boy's tone.

"You had to say that, didn't ya?" The feline mourned.

Natalia considered it, even as she considered her cause. Taking a turn that would lead them out, she considered saying nothing. Truth teased her tongue, so she indulged.

"Yes. I did."

The cat sighed, then yelped as his ride hopped up and down. Clearly someone didn't like getting lied to and had very direct ways of getting even. It was a fine show of a tantrum, if Natalia could say so herself. Getting the hint (the boy's howled "Bad Mormo, bad, bad!" being the telling clue) the feline jumped off and flapped his wings to a frantic buzz.

"Alright, alright, I'm sorry, stop yelling!" Mormo yelled. "Do you want monsters to come or some-"

A growl, from the tunnel to the left cause the threesome to turn. No longer morose, rather stupefied truth be told, they gapped at the long snouted, bushy tailed, ligers that tumbled out from the greenery. Half the height of a man, slender and long limbed, they were small specimens of the liger family. One had a coat of fanciful blue the other was white with odd red stripes about its crown and eyes. Both looked up at the adventurers who were rather occupied with gapping at them. The stare down came to a sudden end when both monsters bared their fangs.

And it was not a "How do you do smile?" or so Mormo would say at a later time.

Regardless as to what Mormo said later, what the boy did before that "later" said more than enough. Walking up to the monsters, smiling wide, the child extended a hand. "Pretty!" He chirped, then softer, since the beast's ears had slicked back at his approach. "Nice?" He asked them

"Not nice, dangerous, run!" Mormo advised, then following his own advice spun about in the air to make a break for it.

The boy would have never thought to follow the feline's lead. And to that lack of understanding Natalia acted. Snatching up the boy's hand she ran, taking him with her.