Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.
General Content Rating: 18+
Story Content Warnings: Heavy Swearing, Blood and Gore, Death, Racism, Sexism, Ableism, Homophobia, Transphobia, Exorsexism, Child Abuse, Underage Shenanigans (Drinking, Smoking, etc.), Suicide
Current Chapter Content Warnings: Heavy Swearing
Viewer Discretion is Advised
Brian’s peaceful slumber was rudely interrupted by someone’s hand shaking his body over and over.
“What?” He hissed out, twisting his head towards a blurry, nearly pallor-skinned face.
That face turned out to be Diantha’s face. “Your turn. Wake me up in an hour.” She explained bluntly.
And so Brian sat by the campfire, watching the pitch-black forest for predators. Sometimes he would throw some sticks into the fire when it threatened to die down. There was nothing to do except listen to the sudden far away sounds of animals, and sniff the strange and strong smells surrounding the area; he counted the seconds, and then the minutes out of boredom.
Eventually his hour was up. He shook Diantha five times more vigorously; the revenge earned him a fist heading straight for his face, something he narrowly missed.
“Jeez. Calm yourself!” Diantha growled out, sitting up and rubbing her eyes.
“Now you know what it feels like.”
“I didn’t nearly shake you that hard!”
“Sorry, just can’t control my strength.”
“That was the most insincere apology I’ve ever…Hey! Don’t you dare go back to sleep! I’m not done talking-“
But Brian had already passed out, leaving Diantha to shiver and shake in the cold night for another hour.
This cycle rolled on for quite some time; that is until the sun budded it’s head from the ground. The snow occasionally falling off the fir branches brightened into a pure white.
Brian was on his shift at this time. Instead of waking Diantha up to sleep for another hour, he decided it was time to ask Noriko if it was light enough to begin traveling again.
In any other situation, he would be taking orders from no one; but he wasn’t in his element here. He didn’t even remember what his element was. Noriko seemed the most reasonable out of the three he had woken up with.
He didn’t even need to shake Noriko awake; the moment Brian came into contact with her shoulder, her eyes blinked open. “Did something happen?” She frantically lifted herself up from the ground.
“Nothing bad. The sun’s just rising. You think it’s light enough to start traveling again?”
Noriko scanned the mixture of purples and oranges that was the sky. After a few seconds, she nodded a yes. “It looks bright enough. I’ll wake the others.”
Noriko would have wakened the others up…but she was having difficulty standing up. With only one arm, it was easy to lose her balance and fall to the ground again. After a while of watching Noriko struggle, Brian offered his hand; Noriko reluctantly took it, and Brian pulled her up, helping her stand on her two feet.
“…That was…ungraceful of me. I apologize for that.” She muttered, brushing away the leaves that clung onto her skirt.
“…Wha…? You don’t need to be sorry, you didn’t do anything-“
But Noriko was already busy shaking Diantha awake. The blonde of course was cranky, but didn’t lash out at Noriko like she did with Brian. She only sighed when she saw familiar cat-like eyes, and stood up groggily, stretching her arms and letting out a sigh.
Aden was the last to be awoken. Noriko crouched near his peaceful body, and gently grabbed his shoulder-
Aden whimpered and immediately curled into a tight ball; his body shaking so intensely the leaves he laid on crunched together.
Noriko yanked her hand away. “I’m sorry, did I startle you?”
Aden removed his hands from his face, turning to Noriko with confusion. That confusion disappeared, and was replaced with a small smile. “I am good! Is it my turn to watch fire?”
“It’s already morning Aden.” Diantha explained, offering her hand. “We need to get going.”
Aden frowned in disappointment. He was sad that he wasn’t able to help, but he took the hand gratefully and lifted himself up. When standing, he brushed the dust off his green shorts.
Everyone went on their way. They had no idea where a river could possibly be, but at least it was brighter out. The morning’s light would allow them to see better, and ward off most predators.
It wasn’t long before everyone’s stomachs were growling, needy for food. Aden’s stomach was the first to start moaning. “I’m fine!” He refused to complain, and would respond with those words when asked if he was alright. “It is not the troubling!”
Hours afterward, the other three’s stomachs made small grunts. The tight and uncomfortable feelings in Noriko, Brian, and Diantha’s stomachs were enough to lower their mood.
Noriko tried her best to keep focus, and led the way at a steady pace. Her eyes were slightly furrowed, and every once in a while, she would raise her hand to her stomach, clutching onto it for a few moments.
Brian was not only in desperate want of food, but was also getting a headache from the abundance of noise surrounding him. The chirping of the birds and the rustling of the leaves almost tore his eardrums apart at times.
Aden hopped along cheerfully next to Brian; he was still unbothered by the monstrous groans coming from his belly. Brian would side-eye Aden with concern every time he heard them.
Diantha decided to tide over her hunger by eating a berry or two that she’d find hidden in the occasional bush. Whenever she came across these berry-filled bushes, Diantha was eager to grab another sweet bite.
Eventually, Diantha couldn’t ignore Aden’s stomach any longer. She grabbed a couple berries from a bush they were passing by, and offered them to the boy. “If you’re hungry you can have some of these.” She offered. “I’ve had some! they’re really good!”
Aden would have eagerly accepted the berries, if he hadn’t noticed Noriko halting so abruptly. He tilted his head, staring at the stiff Noriko. “…Is you ok Noriko?”
Noriko sped towards Diantha, her eyes wide with an unrecognizable emotion. She grabbed Diantha’s berry-filled hand, and yanked it closer to her; staring intently at them for a short period of time.
A realization hit Noriko, and she quickly smacked Diantha’s hand, forcing the berries to fall to the ground.
“…Hey!” Diantha shouted in annoyance. “What’s your problem-“
“Diantha those are nightshade berries.”
A tense, heart-splitting silence followed the revelation.
Diantha paled considerably; making the connection between the berries and her wooziness. Aden glanced between the three, confusion apparent on his face. Brian muttered an ‘oh shit’ under his breath, his eyes wide with shock.
Noriko breathed in, breathed out, and covered her mouth with her hand. “How many have you eaten?”
Diantha gulped, and glanced to the side; she scratched her head in thought. “Uh…I think more than 10? Maybe 15?”
Noriko hid her face the best she could in response to Diantha’s answer. Aden, who was still rather confused, asked the main question on his mind. “…What is the nightshade berries?”
Pacing back and forth; Brian strained out an answer to Aden’s question. “Nightshade berries are poisonous.”
Aden’s eyes teared up. “W-what!?” He clutched onto Diantha’s leather jacket, tugging it gently to gain her attention. Pressing worriedly for answers “I-is you ok Diantha? You are going to be fine, yes?”
Diantha barely heard Aden’s question. She was already beginning to hallucinate; her vision was dizzying and she felt like she was going to throw up. Despite this however, she inhaled a big chunk of air and turned to Aden, giving him a strained, reassuring smile. “Y-yeah. I’m going to be fine Aden, don’t worry.”
Noriko finally composed herself and removed her hand from her mouth. “We can’t stand here any longer.” She spoke in a whisper. “We need to find a river-“
“And wash down the poison?!” Brian snapped; fury and panic were apparent on his face. “Like that will work! Face it Noriko! We’re in the middle of nowhere, civilization is nonexistent, and we’re all going to…die…” Brian faltered; staring doe-eyed in a certain direction.
“Brian?” Noriko urged with concern.
“…I heard something.” He muttered out. “…No…not something…someone.”
Aden stiffened at Brian’s comment; he clung onto an increasingly delirious Diantha, who was to losing grasp of reality.
It made no sense to Noriko. She didn’t hear anything-
And then she remembered her previous interactions with Brian. It was almost as if a light bulb had blinked above her head. Of course!
“You seem to have incredibly hearing.” She muttered. “Perhaps it’s another one of your ‘powers.’”
Brian widened his eyes at this revelation, before furrowing his eyebrows and puffing his chest out; he was ready to get serious. “Then I’m gonna follow the noise, I’ll be-“
“Wait.” Noriko raised her hand, pointing at the teary-eyed Aden. “Take Aden with you.”
“What? No! Another person will only slow me down! I can do this myself-”
“I don’t care how well you can take care of yourself.” She shot back. “There’s strength in numbers Brian. You can swallow your pride for something as important as this.”
“…But…Aden?” Brian grimaced; gazing pityingly at the mess that was Aden. He quietly cried next to Diantha, who now laid on the ground; breathing raggedly. “Why can’t you come with me?“
“Leave Aden by himself? Are you hearing yourself right now?”
“No buts. I’ll watch over Diantha. You take Aden with you to the source of the noise.” She commanded, gazing sternly. “This is the best we can do right now.”
Brian opened his mouth and prepared to further argue his point…but he realized he wouldn’t win this one. He let out an exaggerated sigh, and stomped towards Aden. “Come on!” He growled out, gripping Aden’s wrist and dragging them with him.
Aden squeaked in surprise, but didn’t complain; he tried his best to keep up with the fuming boy.
Noriko sat next to the Diantha and watched the two boys disappear into the forest. Only when she was certain they were gone did she allow herself to whimper and shed a tear.
“Where we going?”
“To the source of the noise.”
“The noise I heard just now.”
“What was the noise?”
“I don’t know, but it sounded like someone yelling.”
“Why are we-“
“Because shut up!” Brian snapped; his patience wearing thin. his grip on Aden’s wrist tightened, and Aden jumped in response, none the less he obeyed what Brian said. Aden switched his attention to the surroundings he was dragged through, admiring the plants and trees he passed by.
Brian on the other hand was completely focused on the nonexistent route ahead. As he stomped closer and closer to the noise’s location — his goal — the faint sounds of someone struggling grew louder and louder. What that person was struggling with was unknown; Brian had to find out.
Eventually the two of them got close enough to where even Aden was hearing it. He perked up at the noise, excited they were reaching their destination.
Brian’s heart raced faster and faster with each step. Who would they find? Hopefully someone they could trust; someone who wouldn’t screw them over at the last second.
Brian and Aden finally reached a clearing. The two gawked at the scene in front of them, one in confusion and one in awe.