61st of Vhalar 719
Woe crouched, shivering against the large maple. The Webspinner leaned against it, trying to trap what warmth would leave his body, by shielding himself with the tree against the wind. It wasn't a significant bit of field-craft. Yet what knew he about survival? He'd lived inside cities for much of his adult life. He'd lived in them his entire life, by all accounts. He was a survivor, but against nature, what chance had he?
His wolf spider familiar climbed over his shoulder and hopped to the ground. "Even you, Spider? Have you given up on me as well?"
The Webspinner sighed and let it go off to where it would. In the meantime, he had to do something. Woe stood up, shakily on his makeshift cane, grunting as he did so. His leg was still bothering him, sprained. The Webspinner was lucky he hadn't broken it. In the interim, He'd developed a terrible limp the past few days past his beating by those bandits. In the day since he'd gotten progressively colder, the dampness of his clothes barely yet dried by his body heat. His gambeson stank to high heaven.
He hobbled off toward the thickly wooded areas until he heard a snap and a gasp of a human. He cast his gaze quickly one way then the other, looking for the source of that noise. Perhaps ill-advised, he ventured to speak out, "Who is it? I'm just a poor traveler. Nothing worth taking. But plenty of pain to give, should you try anything."
He heard the rustling of leaves on the ground as if a badger was getting underfoot. Then, he saw the strangest thing, a pair of yellow eyes, peering at him through the dusky shadows of the forest. He squinted, trying to get a good look, then crouched low to the ground, so that he wouldn't get caught in the undercarriage, should the beast try to rush him.
He heard a growl issuing from the creature's throat, its eyes narrowing in the darkness. Then, it sprung out, rushing at him. He barely had time to bring his cane up to fend it off, before he was knocked over, and began getting pummeled by small human fists.
It took a moment, but eventually, he woke to the fact that it was a small human boy who'd tackled and began attacking him. Clad in hides and furs and loincloth, the wild boy growled viciously at him as it pummeled him in the face.
Woe kept him at bay for a moment with his cane, before managing to get some leverage to throw the boy off of him. Once he the ex-slave cast the boy aside, Woe, with the aid of his cane, stood at his full height, and held out his free hand, to show that he meant no harm.
"Hold boy, hold your fists! I mean no harm..."
A low growl rumbled in the back of the boy's throat, harsh and high-pitched. It would have been amusing if Woe wasn't freezing his balls off, shivering, afraid, and trying not to attract the attention of any bandits that might be lurking nearby. Yet even in the seriousness of the situation, he couldn't hide the curl to his lips. It seemed that this was the wrong response to the situation because the low rumble at the back of the wild boy's throat became a roar.
He rushed forward to tackle him, kicking out his cane and pummeling him wherever his little fists could reach. He caught Woe a good few times in the gut before the Webspinner could pry him off again. When at last he managed the feat, the boy seemed to be tiring and began genuflecting in the air and grunting at Woe.
Woe crawled to his feet, grabbing his cane as he did so. "What is wrong with you, boy?"
The wild boy grunted and pointed to his tongue.
"I have no food for you." Woe shrugged and began to turn away.
Soon enough, however, he felt a tug at the tail of his padded coat. Again, Woe turned around. "I've no food. Do you understand."
The boy pointed to his head, and then to Woe, and then made a dumb face. Woe frowned, thinking the boy was mocking him. He wasn't one to respond to such puerile provocations, yet this boy had a manner about him that was rather annoying. Who did he think he was.
Woe considered it, for a few moments, before the boy began wildly gesturing toward his mouth and tongue, and then choking himself with both hands, and making a gag sound.
Narrowing his eyes, the Webspinner began to understand. The boy couldn't speak or could only speak a foreign tongue. Woe quirked a brow at him, "Can you... understand common?"
The boy held his hand up, his forefinger inches from his thumb. A little.
"Ah! Then - You don't speak, or can't...?"
The boy nodded energetically and grinned viciously. Woe knelt on the ground and shivered in the growing cold as night came on. He tried rubbing his hands together for whatever warmth they would give. Then he looked up at the boy. The wild kid spoke one word, or perhaps it was his name, "Toutouye." He said. At any rate, it's what Woe would know him as, for now.
Toutouye approached Woe then, and began feeling at his gambeson, around the shoulders, and then began fiddling with the buckles in front, grunting and slapping them. "No, stop." Woe said gently. Toutouye shook his head violently. He curled his arms inward to his torso and began to exaggerate a shivering. You must be cold.
Woe surmised the boy was concerned about him catching a cold, or otherwise. The ex-slave sniffed. He'd likely have to build a fire and dry his clothing. But he had nothing to accomplish these tasks.
Suddenly, the boy bolted upright and motioned for Woe to follow him. He turned around and headed off into the brush. There, at the edge of viewing, he turned his head and fixed his bright yellow eyes on Woe. His eyes went wide, and he waved his arm with more urgency.
Sighing to himself, Woe pushed himself to his feet, upright. He may regret this, especially if the boy was part of some cannibal tribe in these parts. The thought of turning over a spit, however, almost seemed preferable to the miserable cold in which he clothed himself.
A few breaks of hobbling along, trying to keep up with the boy, and getting help here and there as they came across a large log, and they arrived at what must have been the boy's camp. Woe took stock of the surroundings, and looked at the boy, clicking his tongue. "Boy, do you have parents nearby? Are you alone?"
The boy didn't take to this question well or didn't seem to. He shook his head, a violent frown on his face as he drew his thumb across his throat. Then he covered his mouth. Either cutthroats murdered his parents, or he was threatening Woe not to inquire further. Fair enough.
Woe was about to ask why he'd brought him to camp when the kid began going to work. He had some flint, a little round, and flat rock with a divot in the middle. He turned it over with a thin branch, with some kindling all around it. He worked at it, rolling the branch and shielding it from the worst chill of the winds.
Woe realized what he was doing after only a bit or two, and began gathering some dead wood from the surrounding forest. Half a break later, the boy had a little fire going, to which they added leaves and small pieces of deadwood.
The boy approached Woe, and once again began worrying at the buckles. When the Webspinner resisted, Toutouye pointed toward the fire, firmly, and then toward the buckles. Finally, he very deliberately motioned toward the ground next to the fire. Woe, having realized what the boy wanted him to do, removed his gambeson, and undershirt. Once they were off, he took them and threw them on the ground near the fire. The boy, sighing, took the articles and placed them close enough to the light that they'd begin to dry.
In the meantime, he motioned for Woe to join him at the fire. The Webspinner was all too eager to sit near the lean-to, which belonged presumably to Toutouye. There, they sat in silence for a few bits.
Before Woe could interfere, the boy hopped to his feet and darted off into the darkness of the woods. Woe couldn't get up quick enough to chase him, nor could he hope to follow him even if he did. So he spun him into his Web so that he could keep tabs on the boy. Whether that was to make sure he'd be okay out there, or not abandon the Webspinner to the elements...
Who really knew what lurked in the Webspinner's heart?