35- The Lesser Darkness

I awoke to a dimly lightened sky, casting a dull luminescence to the scenery around me. The waters had receded and I was lying on a thin bed of bright green moss amidst the mud. I had not noticed the moss the night before with the waters covering what I now saw to be a fairly serene view, though still entirely muted in color. The soft lichen beneath me was by far the most lively thing to be seen in this place- a florescent green, bright enough as though it had grown just in the time I had been asleep. How long that had been I could neither be sure of- not if what the man had said about the exceedingly lengthy stay of Night and unpredictably scarce Sunlight was true. 
I rose, made a futile attempt at scraping off some of the mire, and beheld a more clear idea of just how far the strangely oppressive trees stretched into the distance over grey earth. 

I noticed something move in the distance, of which I otherwise would not have noticed was there amidst the trees. I moved a bit closer in proximity. Looking from behind a gnarled oak, I saw the back of a black, hooded cloak facing away from where I stood. The assumed person was diminutive and misshapen in figure, ever so slowly sauntering along, stopping to look around, and resuming a clearly nonchalant pace. I decided they didn’t look big enough to be much a threat, and approached the figure, standing off to the side. I didn’t really have anything to say, at this point, I was just needed anything to facilitate suggestion of where I could go from here. 

“I’ve never seen one sleep so evidently comfortably in the mud.” A small, unexpectedly gentle voice broke the silence. 

I moved about to see her face, but it was nearly entirely shrouded in the shadow of her cloak.

“If you saw me sleeping, then you know that this whole place was flooded last night. How long have you been watching me?”

“I was here first- you just didn’t notice,” she replied. 

It was the delicate voice of a little girl-spoken with a tone entirely devoid of emotion, yet somehow intrinsically kind and reassuring at the very same time.                       There was an uncomfortable period of silence. 

She then lowered the hood of her cloak and gazed seemingly right through me with piercing cyan eyes. She was a petite child I would have guessed to be seven years old at the most. Her impossibly blonde, straight hair embraced her face, just barely brushing the top of her narrow shoulders. 

“What in the hell is a child of your age, stature, and a girl- doing out here?” I forgot my manners entirely-or that I was ironically enough, speaking to a seven year old. 

“What in the hell would lead you to assume the number of my years, or the possession of my right to be here just as much as you?” she now matched my tone, with an inordinately mature semblance- yet eyes that flashed almost playfully.


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