Hunting and Talking

Fork in the Road(#204RJh)
You reach a fork in the road. There is nothing here of note, no landmarks or features -- not even a clearing -- that would suggest that this is a better or more logical place than any other for the path to split, yet split it does. The trees that march off into the close underbrush on all sides are the same trees you've been passing among for the last few miles, and they look to continue for at least the next mile or two, no matter which path you take from here.
Someone has set waystones roughly the size of breadloaves a few feet along each path. One of the three has two wavy lines painted on it, one has a pictogram of a house, and the third has an irregular outline almost certainly meant to represent the profile of a mountain. There's nothing to say that some joker hasn't switched the stones onto the wrong paths, though.
Obvious exits:
Northwest Fork Further North South Trail

In a small open space, a short distance from the meeting of trails, Safi sits crosslegged on the carpet of pine needles and first-fallen leaves. Her hands are open on her knees, and her tangled hair holds quite a few seed-pods and leaves in its chaos. The girl's eyes are open, but do not seem to see.

Despite the fact that he does not approach via the path, but through the woods and across the carpet of dry twigs and leaves, Miklos' approach is quite quiet, though certainly not silent. He's carrying a short, strangely-curved bow of laminated wood across his back and a quiver of arrows at his belt, but if he has been hunting he has nothing to show for it.

The girl's expression shifts--slightly perturbed at first, and then thoughtful, as the unfocused gaze turns in that direction. She stands, a single smooth movement, and blinks a few times to bring back earthly vision. Then she heads for the figure she can see moving through the trees. Her eyes are sharp, bright with curiosity as she comes into sight.

Miki's head turns lightly, like a startled foal's, in the direction of the girl's movement. He stops warily, the tension of his body suggesting that he is testing the air. When she comes into sight, however, he relaxes slighly, although he looks perhaps surprised, but not put out.

That faint, unguarded smile comes to Safi's face. "What do you hunt?" she asks quietly.

"Dinner?" replies Miki, a little questioningly. "Anderja asked for a wild turkey, but they are so very hard to find. Besides, they are a little big, do you not think so?"

Safi raises both eyebrows. "Hard to find, yes. And... very much for two. There is ... lot of rabbit."

She takes a few more steps toward him, approaching to a more cordial distance. One hand points to the bow. Safi says "How do you call this?"

Miki looks from the bow back to Safi, a rather confused expression flitting across his face. "It is a, a horse-bow. Or did you mean in my birth-tongue?"

Safi shakes her head. "No. I... I know what-- mmm." She is searching for the unfamiliar words, evidently. "I know how to use, but not the name." A slightly wry half-smile comes, lighting her eyes with self-deprecating amusement. "I do not know many of words."

With a smile, Miki takes the bow from his back. "I know what that is like. When I came here, I did not speak well at all." He demonstrates how the strange little bow is used-- held parallel to the ground, and the string pulled underarm. "It is meant, you see, to be used while on horseback. But this is what I learned, so I use it, you know, everywhere."

Safi blinks at the strange working of the bow, and then mimes the shape and use of a vertical hunting bow in the air. "But then what do you call this one? This is what I ... what I know."

Miki shrugs. "That is called a bow, too. I think different kinds have different names, but I do not know them all."

Understanding shows in her eyes. "Bow, and horse bow. I see." She grins. "Thank you."

Miki smiles back at her. "It is a small thing. You are welcome."

The girl's unpracticed grin is catching, in any case; her face is utterly guileless, as expressive as a child's. "It will be hard to hunt rabbit, with your bow. They are small, and run fast."

"And that, I know," says Miki ruefully. "You must sit out in the wet and hope they will come close enough."

"Do you know how... how to make traps? It is ... more easy..." She watches him innocently. "More easy than your bow."

Miki smiles again, but the smile fades away after a moment. "I know how to make some kinds of traps," he says. "But I did not want to do that here. I did not know whether people here... might not want me to do so."

Safi blinks, taken aback at the thought. "Why?" She seems not to comprehend the reasoning behind such things.

Miki considers the question for a while. "I think that some people," he finally says carefully, "believe that traps are unfair. You know," he adds tangentially, "that the people at the Farm don't eat meat, yes? So when I was staying with them, I did not hunt. It would have been a waste, but also rude. So I worry that traps might also be... rude."

Safi tips her head, frowning slightly. "Is it rude, for the wolf to chase the rabbit?" She lifts one shoulder, but the creases remain in her brow. "This is not the farm. This is Katahdin." She draws a noose in the ground. "I take rabbit with a circle, like this. Find where they run, and sometimes find the burrow, and throw something to scare them..." She looks across to him thoughtfully. "Maybe this is unfair. But I do not undair-stand, this 'unfair'."

Miki shrugs fluidly. "I cannot claim to understand it either. But I do know about manners. This is not... our place." A flurry of emotions flit across his face, ending in a strange smile. "Yet."

Safi tips her head, and looks across at him; her green eyes hold more than mere curiosity. "Why are you here?" she asks softly.

For an answer, Miki looks towards the not-so-distant peak of Katahdin, looming through the trees. "The mountain," he says. "It called to Anderja. And me."

Safi blinks, and swallows, suddenly staring at him. "You... you felt the pulling, to come here?"

"We felt... something," Miki says, looking at the mountain with an expression of curiosity, worry, and a touch of longing. "That is for certain. Did you feel... a pulling?" he asks, looking directly at Safi.

Safi nods minutely, the green eyes caught on his. "It called," she whispers, "and I came."

A small smile tugs at the corner of Miki's mouth. "It calls," he says softly, "more insistently and clearly and strongly than I can."

Safi's gaze is intent now, as if this is something very serious, and at the same time exciting. She lifts her chin a fraction, and asks, "Where do you stay?"

Miki waves a hand off towards the west. "In a ruined building quite a few miles off."

Safi nods. "I will come, to talk to you," she says. "About the mountain. About... this."

A moment passes, the girl studying him in silence; then she turns to go, making her way toward the trail and northward.