The distance was not as much as he had expected. Within an hour, he crossed one street and after another stressful hour of intense walking he got on the second hill. Now the only distance between him and those twenty men was the last hill.
While on his way, he saw some people thin as a stick crying and yelling on grass. Their skins had glued to their bones. Their thighs were nothing more than skeletons with skin around thigh bone.
“Help! Please give us some food.” One of them cried at Roderick.
“Food, please. We are starving.” Another man crawled towards him.
“How did you guys become like this?”
“Thieves robbed us. We got lost in the forest.”
“I don’t think there is any fruit tree in this forest. I am also very hungry.” Roderick heard his stomach make noise.
“Please stranger. Any edible thing will do. You look strong. Perhaps you can kill a rabbit.” Man pleaded.
“I am running out of time.”
“We are running out of breaths.”
“Alright, where can I find a rabbit?” Roderick knelt to ask him.
“Anywhere if you just TRY TO SEARCH FOR IT!”
Roderick couldn’t stop feeling bad for them.
Should I let them starve to death just because I have a work to do? I am just one hill away, regardless. He thought for a while.
“Why don’t you say anything?” the hungry man yelled at him, but Roderick had set off – in search of food.
He followed human tracks till he found prints of an animal’s feet on the ground. It could have been a deer or a horse pulling a cart so he didn’t stop walking behind them till it diverged from the road.
From there on, figuring out where the prints were going became tough. He just had to rely on broken twigs and smashed grasses for a hint. Roderick stepped on animal excreta. As he took more steps, he found a small fawn wandering around a tree.
He caught the fawn with ease.
“Please leave my child, human.” Mother deer came rushing towards him. The fawn was also terrified to be in his clutches.
Do all animals here talk? He remembered the lions who also talked to him in the stadium.
“I am sorry. I can’t do it.” Roderick said in compulsion.
“Don’t eat him. What wrong has he done to you?”
“I am sorry.”
“His brothers are waiting for him. Please let him go. I am the one who eats villagers’ crops. Eat me if you want.” Mother deer knelt.
“His brothers need a mother more than a brother. I am sorry.” Roderick said and walked away. Mother deer did not even try to follow him. She cried and Roderick walked till he couldn’t hear the cries.
Soon he reached to the starving people. Roderick, himself, slaughtered the little fawn and roasted the meat. Even though he felt bad for doing so, he knew it was how life was. Cruel.
“Where are you going, stranger?” they asked him while eating the meat.
“To twenty warriors.” Roderick pointed, “Over that hill.”
“Have some food.”
“No, thanks.” Roderick said and left them eating.